Counseling for Unwanted Homosexuality
Focus on the Family supports the right of those with unwanted homosexuality—feelings, attractions, thoughts, desires, actions or identity—to seek help from licensed mental health professionals. Both adults and minors (with parental consent) should have access to professionally based, ethically directed care that assesses, clarifies and aligns with their deeply-held values, faith and life goals. We uphold parents’ foundational right and calling to sensitively determine the best course of care for their children and seek developmentally appropriate professional aid that respects and regards their family’s needs and values.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
— I Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV)
- God created humans in His image, intentionally and immutably male and female.
- God gave sexuality as a gift to us, which we are to obediently steward, either through marriage or celibacy.
- God designed marriage to be a lifelong, monogamous, committed relationship between a husband and wife. Marriage is a key picture throughout Scripture of God’s relationship with humanity.
- Man’s sin affects all areas of the individual and this world, including our sexuality and relationships. Homosexuality is one aspect of sin’s impact on the world.
- God can work redemptively amid all sexual sin or temptation in powerful and personal ways to bring forgiveness, life, healing and transformation.
- God empowers Christians to steward our sexuality according to His intentions.
Helping People with Unwanted Homosexuality
Homosexuality, broadly defined, is our modern term that includes romantic, emotional or sexual feelings, thoughts, desires and actions toward a person, or people, of the same sex. These may be one-time, sporadic, or ongoing. Homosexuality has also become, in the last several decades, an identity, a label people use to categorize themselves based on their attractions, thoughts and behavior. A variety of such labels are used, including “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” “homosexual” and “queer.”
Same-sex sexual activity is outside God’s design and is described in Scripture as both a sin and a symptom—a result of humanity’s turning from God. Therefore, we support the efforts of Christians with unwanted homosexuality to understand and steward their sexuality in a biblical manner. Such efforts may include meeting with a pastor, biblical counselor or spiritual director; involvement in professional or religious support groups; practicing Christian spiritual disciplines; and/or working with a licensed mental health professional. Motivations, expectations and outcomes vary, of course, as they do for any growth or change effort.
Counseling for unwanted homosexuality typically involves common and standard therapeutic goals, such as eliminating unwanted behavior, developing healthy connections with both men and women, bringing truth and healing to any past injuries and abuse, and building a solid and confident sense of identity. Some people with same-sex attractions are aware of predisposing circumstances that fostered their sexual development. There are numerous legitimate methods of aiding individuals in a client-centered manner that have potential to effectively address their specific dynamics and goals.
Many individuals who work to steward their sexuality in a biblical manner—whether through professional or other means—find healing, growth and incremental transformation in the process, including various combinations of the following:
- Change in attitudes, motives and identity,
- Reduced shame over the mere existence of same-sex attractions,
- Cessation of risky, sinful or unhealthy behaviors,
- Relational growth with both men and women, and
- Diminishment of same-sex attractions and increase in opposite-sex attractions.
Many report that their lives are helped by this process. No therapy—for any presenting issue—resolves the original concerns of every client. Both positive and negative outcomes are typical for most therapies. Holding counseling for this issue to a different standard of efficacy than that used for other issues for which professional care is sought is not academically honest and stifles useful inquiry and research in the field.
Attempts to Ban Therapy for Unwanted Homosexuality
We oppose action by the government, gay-identified activists or mental health groups to stigmatize or ban “sexual orientation change efforts” by mental health professionals. We do not endorse any one specific or singular therapeutic model to help those with unwanted homosexuality. In actuality, a wide variety of methods have helped people leave homosexuality. God is infinitely creative and uses a wide variety of means to bring life, growth and change.