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The good boy-who-would-be-pastor, so respectable and humble, was living a double life. Struggling with same-sex attraction and dealing with it in ungodly ways, he didn’t care what anyone thought. What mattered most was finding what he felt he needed. But deep inside he feared greatly what they, in the church, might think.

What did he fear from the church? From his family? Mainly, he feared their anger and rejection.  He had so few relational anchors that he didn’t dare risk these. It would be devastating if he failed in their eyes. So, he was careful to live a flawless life, at least the part they could see. But the pain just kept increasing.

The person above was me, more than 20 years ago, before I sought help at Harvest USA. It took a long time to make that decision. But what might have made me seek help sooner was if my church had said that the body of Christ was a safe place to get help.

I didn’t hear that message.  What I heard spoken about sexual sin was that it was the worst kind of sin. That made me more determined not to confess to anyone how desperate and despairing I was, how trapped and hopeless I felt, living in constant fear of exposure.

One major passion we have at Harvest USA is to partner with churches to help sexual strugglers, to help churches become safe places for sexual strugglers.  One way to do that is by speaking openly about the reality that everyone struggles to live faithfully in these sin-broken bodies.  To say that God is not shocked by our sins, but that he sent his Son to cover our shame, forgive us of our guilt, and begin the amazing grace-fueled process of growing and changing.  As the psalmist says, “God is. . . a very present help in trouble.” (Ps 46:1)

When church leaders admit the truth that Christians struggle with sex, then the church starts the journey toward helping strugglers.  It becomes a “one-anothering-we’re-in-this-together” community. As the main article in our Spring 2016 issue of the Harvest USA magazine says (“Living Faithfully with our Bodies: It Still Matters, But the Church Must Help”) “A healthy church is not one without problems; it’s one where problems are addressed openly, with the gospel.”

The Lord has put us together to walk with one another in learning how to obey him and live lives worthy of him. Not to look good, but rather to be honest about our struggles and sin, while believing the gospel that God loves us in spite of who we are. When we live this way, experiencing his power that works in and through our weaknesses, we grow, we change, and we find increasing freedom to live joyfully.

Harvest USA can help your church learn how to help sexual strugglers. We have developed a great program to help churches do ministry to sexual strugglers. We’d love to partner with your church to do so.  Here is a brief description of our Partner Ministries, and how we can help get your church up and running for this kind of vital ministry. 

Further Thoughts by Ward Shope

Sex, Intimacy and Community 

We all yearn to be deeply known, and to be affirmed by the one who deeply knows us.  In his book, Washed and Waiting (see my first book review blog below), Wesley Hill explains why intimacy seemed so unattainable for him.  As a believer in Jesus with same-sex attraction, celibacy is the choice of faithfulness to God, and he found himself holding male relationships at bay for fear that they would be come sexualized, thus already compounding the loneliness he felt.

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