Helping gay young people and learning to live with tension and dissonance

Some of the public policy talk around homosexuality and even transgeder is about helping people in deep psycological dissonance resolve this dissonance and so, it is hoped, experience less anxiety, turmoil and social rejection.

The sooner we can help someone accept their true desires, come to terms with them, and be affirmed by society, the greater their sense of resolution and harmony.

It’s a compelling picture, isn’t it? And when you hear stories of deperssion, bullying and suicide among young gay people - wouldn’t you want to do somethin to slow this? And if you have no reason within your ethical framework to think oif homosexuality as wrong, doesn’t this make perfect sense? Anything that can lead to less depressed and dead young people is a no brainer, right?

How do we think about this, as the Christian community?


There are at least 3 things we need to think through:

1. How do we help the gay Christian who is personal convinced that homosexual practice is wrong and wants live in line with their personal religious convctions?

2. How do we lessen the risk of suicide and depression among the gay person in our churches who is unconvinced and so chooses to adopt the homosexual lifestyle?

3. What is our input into the wider society seeking to care for young gay people?


Some things we could start doing or do better:

1. A cultural of gentless, kindness and sensitivity. A muscular, us-vs-them stance is not going to be helpful to the gay Christian seeking to be godly or the gay atheist young person. Thoughtless speech - whether jokes, stereotypes or condemnation - will be part of the problem.

2. Don’t withdraw intimacy and physical affection - including same sex intimacy and affection, from gay people, inside and outside the church.

3. Making sure we run loving care in parallel to church discipline. It’s very hard for the same person to both conduct church discipline and personal loving care. We need ways to make sure our church communities find ways to do both things simlutaenously but somewhat independently. That is, if a gay young person chooses to leave the church, will there still be loving individuals who will care for them as people, even while there is ‘church discipline’ that recognises they are no longer in fellowship with the church? If everyone just acts in ‘church discipline’ mode then the experience of rejection could be devastating.

4. Keep encouraging our society to talk about the spectrum of options available to a possibly-gay young person. It’s not just total affirmation OR traumatic and ineffective gay-therapy-camps

  • some people do slowly change their experienced orientation
  • some people continue to experience a homosexual orietnation while being able to functionally and ‘successfully’/‘happily’ live in a heterosexual marriage.
  • some people choose to remain celibate

5. Keep encouraging to counsellors and youth workers to give people the ‘tools’ to live happily, healthily with dissonance and tension. ‘Resolution’ is not the only way to be psychologically healthy. Identifying, acknowledging, mourning and putting boundaries experiences of dissonance is also legitimate. It is worth asking:

  • Does ‘coming out’ guarantee a more healthy sense of identity and resolution? Is it possible that for some gay people, even those who embrace the lifestyle, that there are still dissonances in thier ongoing felt experience, that are not just about cultural stigma?
  • Can ‘not acting out’ be a healthy state of mind and being. Can people be affirmed in this path without feeling like they are ‘denying a part of their true selves’.

6. Encourage young people in our churches to have good relationships with other power figures in their lives. It’s not the job of youth groups to make Christian young people sexually literate. And definitely not to help them practice homosexuality in the safest manner. So we need to help all young people develop healthy confidential relationships with responsible GPs and other authority figures outside the church and family.

via Blog - Christian Reflections (NB: to comment go to