Jesus is Very Empathetic with Those Who Struggle with Same-Sex Attraction, Singleness, and Strong Temptations

With “hot” topics like homosexuality and gay marriage floating around these days, is there really anything new to be said, or anything to be gained by writing (or reading) another article on the topic? Perhaps I’m too idealistic or naive to think that I can add anything constructive, and yet I had some thoughts that might be useful to some who read this, helping people on both sides of the issue to see some aspects from a different perspective.

I have read a number of articles myself on this topic, and I find it annoying that authors hide their perspective so that you can’t tell what they really think — like what angle they take. I will go against the trend and say in the up front what my perspective is — but please read further, because I promise you that the nuances that follow might prove valuable to you. To clarify: I am not writing here about what any state or nation ought to do about laws. I am writing to those who care about or are interested in God’s perspective. And I love writing about God, because it seems so few really know his heart, and so many get confused by all the loud rhetoric — and I love telling people about his incredible love for them.

I do, however, believe that the Bible teaches that homosexual acts are sinful — not the worst of sins, not the least of sins, but sinful, like a lot of other things that people do — even good people, people who go to church and love their kids and most of the time try to do what is right.1 I don’t want to dwell on debating or proving that it is a sin, I instead want to focus on the issue of temptation. Those with same-sex attraction are likely tempted to sin in that way — but temptation itself is not sinful. If it were, then Jesus was sinful, because the Bible tells us that Jesus was “tempted in every way” (Hebrews 4:15, NIV). But in the same breath, the writer finishes his thought with the words “yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15, NIV). Let us read the passage in its entirety:

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16, NIV).

Jesus was tempted IN EVERY WAY! If that is true, surely Jesus struggled with same-sex attraction, too, since that is clearly one way to be tempted. If Jesus only had the easy temptations, then he wouldn’t be that great a high priest, representing us before God. But he is a great high priest!  He was tempted in every way.

The passage goes on to say that Jesus practiced “reverent submission” (Hebrews 5:8) and that “he learned obedience from what he suffered” (verse 9). Jesus SUFFERED by enduring temptations but ultimately submitting to God’s will. SUFFERED! Jesus can identify with all of our struggles. Many temptations are not easy for us, and they weren’t easy for Jesus. Jesus can sympathize with us in all of our struggles, because he knows what it is like.

Of course, we want to win the struggle, so that we don’t sin… But that can be a learning process, requiring discipline, like a runner in training. And it often requires a large amount of grace from God. While Jesus didn’t sin, most people in any kind of difficult training experience both victory and defeat. Sometimes it is the defeats that teach us the most.

While struggling with temptation can be used to build character in our lives as it did in Jesus’ life, it is often only for a season. Jesus wants us to boldly go to him, asking him to help us gain victory over temptation. He will intercede for us. In due time, we may hope to be relieved of the burden of a particular temptation.

Yet we think of a struggle the Apostle Paul shared about in 1 Corinthians 12:7-9:

“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (NIV).

We don’t know if this “thorn” was temptation or something else, but we can see how God can use the burden of temptation to reveal His power as we rely on His grace — whether or not we ever get set free.

In response to his disciples saying that in some circumstances it is better not to marry, Jesus told them, “‘Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it'” (Matthew 19:11-12, NIV). I wonder whether those who want to follow Jesus but who have no freedom from same-sex attraction might not be able to offer themselves as single, celibate people (eunuchs) for the sake of the kingdom of heaven? Some would even suggest that such folks might even fit into the first category that Jesus mentions, the one of “being born that way”.

But the promise to eunuchs from Isaiah declares an incredible blessing over such people:

“‘To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant — to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off'” (Isaiah 56:4-5, NIV)

Don’t forget that Jesus himself lived as a eunuch for the sake of the Kingdom of God.  Jesus fully identifies with those who embrace such a lifestyle.

________

1 My goal is not to present an air-tight argument about homosexual practices being considered a sin in the Bible. I only want to demonstrate that such a statement is reasonable. So I will give just two examples:

  • In Leviticus 18:22, it says, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination” (ESV).
  • In Romans 1:26-28, the Apostle Paul writes, “Women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relationships with women, burned with lust for each other… When they refused to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their evil minds and let them do things that should never be done” (NLT).

I am aware that there are some who interpret these passages as not prohibiting homosexual acts within the context of gay marriage, but after listening to their arguments, I feel that the more traditional view of these verses makes better sense to me.

15 thoughts on “Jesus is Very Empathetic with Those Who Struggle with Same-Sex Attraction, Singleness, and Strong Temptations

  1. Todd Evans

    I like this. I would add that sin starts in our mind. As we are transformed, we increasingly embrace our identity in Christ–He in us and we in Him. We also increasingly embrace His thinking and are increasingly repulsed by sin. Then there are sin patterns and bondage to sin. The good news here is that He has freed us from this enslavement, which, once again, starts in our minds.. All those of us who know Him need to do is walk in this freedom that God has already delivered. I know I now process homosexual temptation very differently than I once did, and it is only because God has transformed me in how I process it, which starts with my very identify.

    Reply
    1. Tim Thomas Post author

      Thanks very much for sharing some valuable insights! You’re right about emphasizing the beginnings in our mind — I think that is where most (if not all) of our temptations come in. But it can be a serious challenge, this war that goes on in our heads.

      I am also happy to hear how God has heard your prayers to help get free from this struggle, and how you are finding that freedom.

      I think that people can lose hope sometimes… Like, when the battle is the hardest, people think that life will always be like the peak of the battle. But there are ebbs and flows in battle, just as there are in tides… And, as you point out, if you can hang on, often times God sees us through to victory.

      I had some awful struggles with temptations when I was younger, and in pretty much a very short period of time, God intervened, and the power of the temptation was broken, so much so that I have to think really hard now (years later) to remember how difficult it once was.

      Reply
  2. Todd Evans

    Also, I have discovered that I am indeed attracted to females, a God-designed desire to which I was once blocked since it was covered and suffocated by my homosexual bondage and sin, which always started in my mind. The desire was always there, but it was rendered dormant by sin, including bondage.

    Reply
  3. Estrellita Rauan

    Thank you Tim for this article. You will find very few would dare write an article when the climate is for tolerance towards almost everything. This insight about Jesus also being tempted in this area has not entered my mind. Thank you for this insight. I can share this with thos who struggle in this area.

    Reply
    1. Tim Thomas Post author

      Thanks for your encouragement on this, Maris! I just rewrote the first sentence (by adding 3 paragraphs!) to soften the start and make the tone more like I meant it, which was to offer ideas for people to think about the situation differently than they might have, but to be upfront with the angle I was coming at it from.

      Reply
  4. Sarah

    This is an incredible article! Not many would dare to suggest such a thing, but I am really glad that you did. I haven’t had that struggle, but imagining Jesus having to struggle with EVERYTHING, makes me feel honored that he fought against so much for us.

    Reply
  5. Tim Thomas Post author

    I like that phrasing, Sarah: “Makes me feel honored”. Yep. That’s the way I feel, too. Honored that Jesus took on so much for us… He suffered! And that was even before he went to the cross.

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    Your comments Tim makes me stronger in my struggle with SSA. I have read so much about SSA and with this understanding of how we acquire this struggle……it all makes sense. It has taken me many years to see the limited brief satisfaction by living in that gay lifestyle. I am now much more suited for the loving relationship of a female companion today and have resisted temptation. I don’t know how I managed to crossover to realize I wasn’t getting what I needed in that community. My addiction is really no different than others….but I choose to honor/obey God and be at peace within me. Over time, it become so much easier. Its like smoking; after the first three days, it gets easier. It is there deep within me but I simply keep reminding myself that Jesus was tempted too. For some reason that brings a lot of comfort to me feeling the human side of him. I know if I may slip from time to time but over all I know the negative from crossing over that “red” line for me. I don’t beat myself up….but I try harder for that not to happen again down the way. The bottom line; I feel much closer to God and know I’m not perfect in all areas but I refuse to go down that path anymore.

    Reply
    1. Tim Thomas Post author

      I feel like we make God very happy when we choose to follow him when it would be easier to just give up. So I think you make God VERY happy!

      And I’m glad the words here were encouraging to you. If people really learned how wonderful Jesus is, and how kind and loving he is towards us, then we couldn’t keep people from Jesus. But people get wrong impressions, that somehow Jesus is condemning and hard. Truth is, he feels our pain, he knows our struggles, he’s been there done that (the struggles, not the sin) — so not only is he empathetic, but he helps us in our times of need.

      Keep up that great fight of faith that you have! May God’s love just fill you through and through again and again!

      Reply
  7. nina

    Hello, my question is the following:
    If a person is and lives a happy straight life,but is plugged with unwandet same sex attraction,from wich the person suffers,wants to go away and never desires nor act in that direction,instead lives strictly straight,can or will Jesus take away,eliminate,sett free or heal that person from this suffering with unwated attractions,so that the person remains only with its wanted natural opposite attraction.Is that possible for Jesus,can Jesus free people from unwanted same sex attraction and if he can,do you thing Jesus will do this?
    Thanks for your anwser.

    Reply
    1. Tim Thomas Post author

      Dear Nina, I have a longer reply to your second question, but realized I didn’t directly answer this question. I believe that for many temptations in life, Jesus can and does cut them off. I believe that this is true of every type of temptation, including same-sex attraction. But it rarely comes as quickly as we would like it to, and I think in some cases it doesn’t come. I won’t speculate on why it doesn’t come for some people, but I will say it is not for lack of love of that person by Jesus.

      Reply
  8. nina

    Sorry,I forgot:
    What is your advise on how to react,deal with unwanted same sex attractions,especially when they make you depressed,what is the right christian reaction/handling?

    Reply
    1. Tim Thomas Post author

      Dear Nina, I want to apologize to you for not replying earlier. I think I was sick when you posted, and I just never got back to this when I started feeling well.

      Here’s an idea to try: Thank God. I know that’s counterintuitive, and I don’t believe that God tempts us, but I do believe that God allows temptations. So here is what I would pray (something like this, pray in whatever way works for you). “Dear Jesus, I don’t like this temptation, and I really ask that one day you will cut if off so that I don’t have to deal with it any longer. But I choose to love you, Jesus, and I thank you for the opportunity to show my love for you by not giving into this temptation, but rather trying to love, obey, and follow you no matter what. Thank you, Jesus, that you understand my temptation and how difficult it is sometimes. Thank you that I don’t have to be lonely because of the temptation, but I can lean into you, the One who really understands. I pray you use this difficult period in my life to increase the depth of love I have for you. I pray that others will be able to see that love, and come to love you as much as I love you. Thanks for loving me so much. And thanks for facing the temptation yourself — thanks that you know my struggles at a level others don’t. Amen.”

      Reply
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