Why Do People Fall Back into Homosexuality? Living in Dishonesty – 6 of 6
This six-part series is also available on our website, www.harvestusa.org/resources/articles/same-sex attraction and is on the print edition of our Winter Harvest News (just part one). But we love to get comments, so feel free to read John’s posts over the next several days and give us your comments!
A question that is asked here at Harvest USA is a common one. “Why do people, Christians even, go back to a gay life after they have come for help?” It’s a legitimate question. For Christians who believe the historic Word, the Scriptures, and believe that faith in Christ makes one a “new creation,” the issue may seem confusing, but the answer must be honest and biblically-grounded. Here is the 6th reason of 6 to explain what might be happening here, as we have seen some common denominators over the years in our ministry work.
Living in Dishonesty
People don’t just “jump” back into disobedience. What usually happens is that they walk back step-by-step, and both they and those around them are typically unaware of what is happening. In every case at Harvest USA, where someone has come for help and then gone back into the gay life, this has been the case. When some have come back later, and we ask them when they first began to experience strong and overwhelming struggles to the point of giving in, they will point back to a specific period in time long before they fell.
Yet, they never opened up to anyone about the struggle! Instead, they chose to pursue bondage again to sin—totally in secret. When questioned about why they didn’t come and share their heart with anyone about their struggles, virtually the same answer is given: “I knew you would tell me it was wrong.”
In each case, when the heart begins to do what it wants to do, the idea of honesty with those closest and best able to help, was intentionally not pursued. Often, the person will be open with those in the gay life—or even with those in a gay-affirming church—during their time of secrecy with you. Why? Because when they decided to slip back, the thought of hearing what you would say would cause them even more distress! Already struggling, they wanted to get out of the struggle (see the point on demandingness), and hearing truth, even truth spoken with love and mercy, was something they had already closed their ears to.
Those who begin to walk in this kind of dishonesty are sometimes beyond help at this point. They see their new change of heart as a new kind of “freedom” because it eliminates (even if only temporarily) the distress they are in.
Fear and shame enter into this kind of dishonesty. We have seen it in those who have come to us after spending time in Christian counseling, having never really opened up about the real issue of their same-sex attraction or behavior. Instead, they talked about loneliness, depression and the like, issues that skirted around and shrouded the truth of their struggles.
It’s been our experience that no one gets better; no one grows, unless they “lay the cards on the table.” All the time! Both with God and with other people. People dealing with homosexuality, as with other sexual sins, must be ruthlessly honest with themselves and a few, selected other people they are willing to trust. Sexual struggles and sin move people into lives of denial, secrecy and silence. These self-protective mechanisms are simply deadly. It is only in a community of mercy and truth (what should characterize the church) that fear and shame can be overcome and honesty becomes as regular as breathing. If only the church were truly like this, would we see men and women less likely to flee into sexual sin and into communities that support such behavior. When the church, even imperfectly, loves sexual strugglers with mercy and truth, then the struggler is in a better position to see and respond to Christ’s love even when their hearts are divided. God understands our divided hearts, our doubts and our deep pockets of unbelief.
These situations are painful for all concerned. It is especially painful to see those you love, with whom you’ve spent much time, and in whose lives you have built a growing relationship with, seem to desert all that they once held so strongly. No one escapes this tragedy.
These six factors are the big ones that move people to revert back to sinful behavior. I must point out that these reasons are not unique to people with same-sex attraction. I have seen men and women in the church who have deserted the faith or left their marriage vows, and their reasons for doing so can be the same ones I highlighted here. The heart of the person dealing with homosexuality is not unlike the heart of any other sinner. Every one of us is prone to follow his own course in life. It’s only the Lord’s grace and goodness that keeps anyone pursuing the truth and living life on God’s terms rather than his own.