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Making Decisions About Same-Sex Attraction

Group3flopabSummary: Determining how to respond to same-sex attractions is a personal choice that each individual must make according to his or her personal values and life situation.

After you have read the sections What is Same-Sex Attraction? and What Causes Same-sex Attraction? you are ready to make decisions about what to do about your same-sex attractions. This section gives advice on how to define your personal values and consider your options.

Step 1: Define Your Personal Values

The first step in this process is to clarify your personal beliefs and core values. Spend a considerable amount of time thinking about your inner values and writing them down. Don’t just accept the beliefs of your family, your church, or society as a whole. Identify what matters most to you so that you can make decisions based on what is important to you. This involves getting in touch with your inner self and clarifying for yourself what you believe to be true. It means identifying your own beliefs as separate from those of others. Do you believe things because others around you believe them or do you believe them of yourself? Pray sincerely to know God’s will for you. Once you discover for yourself what is eternally true and you internalize those values, you can make sound choices.

Recognize that there is a liability in this process. Once you determine what is personally valuable, you cannot blame anyone else or hold a grudge because someone forced you to do something. Obtaining self-clarity empowers you to do things because you want to do them. You no longer perform out of duty, respect, or fear. Discipline comes from within and you have the will and integrity to subordinate desires and impulses to the values you determine are important. It is a process of creating a deeper conscience and awareness of the values that govern your behavior. When you look to yourself and no one else, you become the master of yourself.

Step 2: Understand What Same-Sex Attraction Means

It is important to see your feelings and attractions in the right context. Focusing too much on the attractions themselves can actually be misleading, since the sexual attractions may be intensified by deeper issues, like gender identity, self-perception, past abuse, or a lack of deep, trusting relationships. It may be difficult to recognize these issues without careful introspection, because we often become masters at hiding the real issues in our lives–from others and even from ourselves.

Many of these underlying issues are common to people who experience same-sex attractions and others vary from person to person. Once you identify the causes and deficits in your life situation, you can learn ways to fulfil those needs in appropriate, nonsexual ways. Once you resolve the underlying issues, you may find that some of the attractions resolve themselves and your feelings change.

As you explore the issues discussed on this website, you may discover how the situations and experiences in your life have influenced your feelings.

  • Take a look at your current and past relationships.
  • Look at other emotional issues that may influence the ways you look at life.
  • Review your life experiences and family situations to see how these have influenced you.
  • If you have been emotionally or sexually abused, consider how this has affected your self-perception, your relationships, your ability to trust others, and your view of sexuality in general.

Step 3: Consider Your Options

Some people choose the option to identify as gay. They decide to “come out” and live openly as gay men or lesbian women. Such a gay identity often includes social, cultural, and political perspectives. Some people say that people are born gay and that your only option for happiness is to accept a gay identity and acknowledge it openly. This view is not shared by all people who experience same-sex attraction nor by all psychological professionals.

Although accepting a gay identity is a fulfilling option for some individuals, others may choose not to identify themselves as gay because deep down, they feel that such a lifestyle is not what God would have them do. (See “Personal Values and Religious Beliefs.”) They choose a traditional marriage and family. They approach same-sex attractions as a challenge to be worked on and they seek to make behavioral decisions in keeping with God’s commandments. Read the section How Do You Want to Respond to Your Same-Sex Attractions? for a discussion of additional religious issues. Also, read the page Choice, Freedom, and Responsibility for ideas about making choices in response to life’s situations. Those choices have consequences and our lives are the net result of all those choices.

The above examples are personal choices that should be made carefully after determining your personal beliefs and core values as mentioned in step 1 above.

If you decide that you want to live a heterosexual life, understand that it will not typically bring you immediate relief because you will still be faced with the conflicts of your same-sex attractions. Don’t just try to ignore or suppress your same-sex attractions because the feelings are real. Suppression means a continual struggle where, at best, you do not engage in homosexual behavior but you are miserable, and at worst, you lead a double life by pretending to lead a heterosexual life but secretly engage in homosexual behavior.

The optimal situation is to find ways to address the underlying issues that may be intensifying your same-sex attractions. Once you resolve the underlying problems, you may find that your same-sex attractions diminish and are more manageable. The goal is to resolve any issues that dominate your life or behavior or keep you from experiencing your chosen goals in life. The section What Can You Do About Same-Sex Attraction? outlines the actions to consider as you make these important life decisions. Read the page Do People Experience Changes in Their Same-Sex Attractions? You may also want to read Jason Park’s experience in deciding to accept a heterosexual identity.

Same-sex attraction seems to be an overwhelming problem to many people because they include in it a whole life of problems. But remember that everyone deals with issues of self-worth, relationships, intimacy, lust, comparing themselves with others, and a whole host of problems that are part of a lifelong process of growing, overcoming, and improving.

Don’t remain undecided. Some people straddle the fence in a state of indecision. They may resist accepting a gay identity because it conflicts with their personal values or because they want a traditional family life. But at the same time, their same-sex urges are strong and they feel a need to pursue sexual gratification. People in this condition are typically frustrated because they have not resolved their inner conflicts. This is a state of imbalance and desperation. It typically provides unfulfilling relationships both at home and on the outside. For their own sanity and emotional health, people need to make conscious choices and pursue a defined direction.

Step 4: Gain the Motivation and Hope That You Can Do Something About Your Feelings and Behaviors

If you decide you want to grow and become more balanced in these issues, then you must have hope that you can to do so. For many men, this desire comes from a personal value of wanting a traditional family with a wife and children. For others, it is based on religious values.

It is important to gain a hope that things will get better. This is a great step, but this isn’t the end. If you stop here, you will not be able to resist the sexual urges long-term unless you have the patience of Job. (Reference the book of Job in the Old Testament.) Hope is something to motivate you to action. Hope isn’t passive. The hope found in Christ and His Atonement should not be passive. It should motivate you as you seek answers and as you act to improve your situation.

Step 5: Act to Resolve the Issues That Will Diminish the Pressures to Act Contrary to Your Values and Beliefs

When you continue to have hope, it leads you to action and good decision-making. You continue to build healthy relationships and practice things that improve your emotional health. You then continue through life, improving and growing, just like anyone else regardless of the challenges they have. This leads you to do the following:

  • Eliminate homosexual behavior.
  • Develop a secure sense of self and male or female identity.
  • Work on relationships and other issues to become emotionally healthy.

You may wish to watch some of the videos from Voices of Hope, Journeys of Faith, and True to Him.