Updated: Nov 8, 2021
It may appear like gay individuals, and conservative Christians live in separate worlds. So, how does it feel to be gay and Christian at the same time? What role do these Christians perceive in Christian congregations?
Being gay in our society unfortunately still very difficult. On top of everyday stress, people who identify as gay experience community-specific challenges.
Seeking help from a counselor in an individual or group therapy setup are two effective ways to deal with this.
In today’s post, I want to discuss the advantages of counseling and therapy, as well as a few strategies to may help in the process of being your true self and fully exercising your spirituality.
Counseling benefits for the LGBT+ community
The church may be a significant source of support and identity formation for self-identified same-sex couples or individual Christians.
Counseling can be extremely therapeutic because it is a time when a person can genuinely feel heard. I feel like in today's world, with texting, sound bites, and rapid, quick news items, and the media, and then politics, and anything else, we are missing something. "Does anyone hear me?" Are we able to hear what's going on around us?
During the Clinical Mental Health practicum, I often hear clients saying: “When I come here it's ‘me time”, or even “Thanks Patrick, you seem to listen and understand me”. Basically, in therapy (or counseling) we focus on figuring out what an individual is looking for, roots of problems, and instead of behaving rashly, we challenge unhealthy cognitions leading to a whole integration of the emotions in tune with the desired best version that each client intends to be.
Because there are just many different congregations and ways a religious community deals with the topic of same-sex relationships it is common to feel stressed, frustrated and lost within yourself. Therapy would give them the environment to express feelings in a nonjudgmental space and to know that you are sufficient and have a voice worth listening to.
What is Identity Integration?
Identity integration combines religious and sexual identities, which can be difficult for gay Christians who suffer prejudice inside religious groups.
Shifting from a literalist understanding of the Bible
Moving from a literalist reading of scripture to a social–historical-critical perspective, from viewing the Bible as inerrant word-for-word truth to viewing scripture in the context of the historical time and culture in which it was written is a widespread technique.
Recognizing the truth
Another critical option is recognizing that God made them gay or lesbian and rejecting church theology that says homosexual behavior is wrong. For some, seeing God as loving and omnipresent rather than judgmental, furious, or damning has helped individuals to integrate those identities.
Meeting other gay Christians
Meeting other Christians that share the same sexual identity has been a critical technique for identity integration. It involves not only attending a church that embraces everyone with love but also looking for community services and increasing one’s sense of belonging.
Conversing with others
It has also been good to talk with others about their difficulties in a therapeutic or community context. Very often we can find similarities in someone else’s experiences that apparently have nothing to do with ours. Communication is how empathy works.
It also may include reading about other gay Christians' experiences and critically reflecting on your own would help integrate these identities.
Participation in helpful faith communities
Finding a loving spiritual community has aided gay Christians to keep growing in their spiritual relationship with God. Furthermore, when gay Christians who were members of a religious community received acceptance from other Christians in the setting of a supportive faith community, they reported better levels of psychological well-being.
People can get more vigorous as a result of processing their feelings. So, if you have a gay, lesbian, transgender, or bisexual friend, family member, or acquaintance who appears to be struggling, remember that you can make the difference by loving and offering acceptance. After all, isn't it what Jesus expects from us?
What if I am a Pastor and I don't know how to better address this topic?
As a Christian Pastor or leader in any area of your church, you may also find it extremely beneficial to seek counseling to better address your thoughts, emotions, and personal history from the perspective of your Ministry.
There are many counseling modalities that accommodate your Christian beliefs and provide a solid foundation for your psychological and spiritual growth.
What do you think about this post? Was it helpful? Do you have any different perspectives or understanding that you would like to share? Please, use the comment section below!