For the past few years I’ve found myself especially aware of the challenges experienced by those who deal with same-sex attraction.

Something Gary Thomas wrote in an article published in 2009, “Sexual Compassion,” gave me fresh insight into this painful struggle the first time I read it. Gary was talking with one of his friends, a guy named Mark who, though he was a Christian, still wrestled with his sexual orientation.

As we shared our individual struggles, one reality became painfully clear. My desire for sexual purity would soon be aided by God’s best remedy: I was about a year away from marrying my wife. Mark knew he might never be able to marry; his struggle for sexual purity could mean abstinence for his entire adult life.

That’s heavy, isn’t it? Gary goes on, reiterating that while we must speak the truth about sexual purity, we must do so in love:

We feel for the young man who is drawn sexually to other men, but that doesn’t mean we serve him by pretending God accepts same-sex expression. We will pray for his healing, we will walk with him as he allows God to heal his sexual nature, we will try to create a community of healthy, God-honoring relationships, but we must not, we cannot, endorse same-sex activity.

He continues:

Yet through it all we must avoid proclaiming the prohibitions as if we don’t care. It is wrong not to care. It is less than Christian to be hard-hearted toward a brother or sister in a difficult state of sexual frustration.

How cold we must seem sometimes when we act as if sexual purity is not that big of a deal. The sexual drive is a major deal, and as one who has been sexually active in marriage for over two decades, I have no right to dismiss the very painful struggle behind God’s command for those in frustrating circumstances who can’t at the moment express or enjoy themselves sexually.

It can be difficult to balance an empathy toward those in sexually difficult situations with the knowledge that I should encourage faithful obedience to the Lord’s will. It’d be easy, and be less confrontative, to merely affirm an unbiblical sexual desire. But I can’t: I must speak the truth … from a heart of love.

If you’re interested in building an informed compassion for those who deal with same-sex attraction, check out a few of the relevant articles I solicited and published while editor of Boundless: