Sometimes I review past events and situations to see how I responded in the moment. This allows me to also see how God’s grace has changed me. One of those times I remember is when my wife told me she had spent a couple of years before we were remarried in a same sex relationship. That was a shock to my system; I had no frame of reference to draw on for that revelation, how many of us would know what to do or say to this.
It explained some things about my wife and our relationship for sure…but to understand and come to terms with it was another thing. This felt different than finding out she had been with another man. I had been there, done that and felt a wide range of emotions in response. Things like anger, wondering what this other guy had that I didn’t, and so many others. But what do you do when you find out your wife is attracted to a woman and wants to be with her? How could I compete with a woman for my wife’s heart?
She said she was done with that part of her life and it wasn’t an issue any longer. Not having a clue what this all meant I chose to believe her. I felt if I ignored it, she would forget about it and we’d be happy. After all we both knew the Lord so everything was going to be fine, right? But when she had an affair with a girlfriend later in our marriage I knew ‘ignoring’ the past wasn’t working and there was more to work through.
The world will tell you that people are born this way. I can tell you my wife didn’t make a choice to be attracted to women -so what’s the truth? The truth is much of it is about life events and how these experiences affect people. It is about how an individual react to things such as sexual abuse (my wife’s case), or family of origin issues, or any number of other experiences. Often there is no conscious choice involved, but we live in a broken sinful culture where sometimes bad things happen and those things can have more of an effect on us than we understand. I’m over simplifying a very complex issue, these experiences and responses are complex which makes it hard to know how to respond to a confession.
When I look at Jesus as an example, I don’t see Him spending much time dealing with behaviors; instead He dealt with the heart. Matt 8:1 When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. 2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” 3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
Here, Jesus, knowing the law and how it pertained to leprosy, would have known not to touch the leper. This law was not an act of meanness; instead it was a health measure. Touching a leper could spread a highly contagious disease. But before healing the leper Jesus touched him. How important was that touch?
Imagine you have a disease that isolates you, no one can touch you except those that are subject to the same affliction and rejection as you. You’re shunned and left out of any sort of normal relationships. Of course in the example from Matthew were talking about leprosy, but today we could be talking about someone suffering from same sex attraction. Can you see why that touch was so important and is so important today?. Imagine the warmth of a touch from the Son of God. The very one who was there when the universe was created is now touching the one that has been completely rejected and isolated. Can you see the healing power of that touch?
I think the only way to respond to your wife, or spouse, when they confess their same sex attraction is with the warmth of a touch. One that says you’re willing to love them even in the midst of something that is so hard to understand. This is not saying that you think this is an acceptable lifestyle and not wrong, it’s saying you are not rejecting them because of their behavior. This touch allows an open door to healing. It’s not a guarantee that everything will work out the way you hope and think. However, if you reject them, you are sending them to the world and other lovers for answers.
It will also open the door for many questions, ones you both will need to ask each other. Be honest. If you both choose to work things out, then you will find the journey to be hard and trying at times, I know. But ultimately if you go this route, you will find you have already made the hardest choice, a warm touch that will do more for the heart than anything else you could do or say.