Homosexuality & Divine Revelation, Part 2

​​​​​​​  Author: Tim Bouffard

Last month, I told part of my personal story of my experiences with and perceptions about homosexuality. Here’s the rest of the story…

I knew something was different about my older brother’s friend before I ever met him. I had picked up on a few hushed conversations my parents had with my brother about his college friend. It caused me to wonder, but the nature of the interaction between my brother and parents made it clear that, whatever was different about his friend, they were concerned for him and wanted him to enjoy his visit to our home. As it turned out, my brother’s friend was struggling with same-sex attraction and he appreciated my brother’s friendship. There was no judgmental attitude, no relational distance – only love and concern. My brother’s example and inspiration to me were significant and would become even more meaningful in a few years.

But in the meantime, I was becoming more aware of the “homosexual movement” in the media. During my last few years of high school, my perception about homosexuality was that very few people were gay and that the lifestyle wasn’t going to gain serious momentum. An often repeated statistic from that time revealed that less than 10% of the U.S. population was gay. In my intellectual simplicity and due to my personal fear that the numbers would grow, I chose to believe the statistic and tried not to think about the issue.

But during my junior year in college, I was forced to face the issue in a very personal way. A fellow student who was soon graduating, visited me in my dorm room during the final week of classes. I happened to be alone in our apartment that evening which was unusual given the fact that I had five roommates. I was studying for a final exam at my desk. I remember it being very warm – it was early May. I knew this student as a result of having worked with him for a year with a Jr. High youth group in an area church. He had also invited me to visit an acquaintance of his who was dying from AIDS. There were times when I felt somewhat uncomfortable around him. He was often what I believed “too” friendly and invaded my personal space on occasion. But I resisted my negative feelings and always gave him the benefit of my doubts. When he entered my dorm, I was at once frustrated and uncomfortable. I was frustrated because I didn’t want to be disturbed while studying. I was uncomfortable because I was only wearing a pair of gym shorts in an attempt to deal with the warm temperature. I told him I was busy studying and he asked if anyone else was present. As soon as I told him I was alone, he approached me from behind as I was sitting in my desk chair and began to massage my shoulders. I don’t really like massages, but this was particularly disagreeable to me. It soon became very disturbing as he moved his hands down my chest. I didn’t allow the contact to go any further as I quickly pushed my chair back into him and announced I needed to go to another dorm room to see someone. I was confused and a bit scared. What was he attempting to do to me?

On my way out, I grabbed a shirt and went directly to visit some upperclassmen that I looked up to and respected. They could see I was upset and asked what was wrong and without thinking, I told them what I had just experienced. Their response was one of concern that quickly turned to disgust and contempt. They challenged me to talk to the Dean of Students and tell him my story. They hoped this young man would not be allowed to graduate – they had long suspected that he may be gay and they wanted nothing more than to see him suffer. There was no grace toward the individual on the part of my older, respected friends. I returned to my room more confused, somewhat more aware and definitely more judgmental and afraid of homosexuals. And I concluded that my friend must be gay and that he had “made a pass” at me.


For a few years, I experienced a lull in my experiences with and knowledge of the issue of homosexuality. I got married, was looking forward to starting a family, was busy in church ministry and had no relationships with anyone struggling with same-sex attraction. But the issue was receiving more media attention. In 1991, Magic Johnson, a successful and famous professional basketball player, announced that he had tested positive for HIV. His experience and that of others like him, resulted in HIV, AIDS and the homosexual movement around the U.S becoming more prominent issues. As a young pastor, I rarely discussed it, let alone preached about it or taught about it. It was too uncomfortable for me.

But there was a youth pastor I knew who did talk about it; not in an inappropriate or pushy way, but in an honest and thoughtful way. My older brother was a youth pastor in a local church in Florida. During a preparatory meeting for an upcoming missions trip to a poor nation, he challenged the high school students to be careful not to have a judgmental attitude toward people who were different from them. He told them that they could expect to see and interact with people on the trip who looked different, acted different and who came from significantly different socio-economic backgrounds. One of the students challenged him by wondering if he thought they should be accepting of gays. As a result of his relationship with his college friend and a few others who struggled with same-sex attraction, my brother was more than prepared to answer the challenge. He spoke about the importance of loving everyone, even those whose lifestyles were sinful. One of the students told her father who was an elder in the church about my brothers comments. Eventually, he was told not to talk about the issues with the teens in the future and strongly encouraged to end his friendship with his former college roommate – no grace. This experience had a profound effect on me. It caused me to begin questioning my perceptions about people who struggled with same-sex attraction or who had chosen to live out that lifestyle. I recognized my fear, discomfort, judgmental attitude and spiritual pride. God began to replace those things with his love.

My brother’s experience coincided with a growing sense of mercy, love and truth not only as biblical ideas, but as practical ideas that needed to be applied in my relationships with everyone, not just with those who were easy to love. My eyes were becoming wide-open to the reality of sin and struggles in the lives of believers. I was reading Christian authors who were willing to talk about such things and I more fully understood that all sin separates us from God, but all sin can be forgiven.

As my years in pastoral ministry continued, my desire for training in counseling grew with the hope that I could acquire practical pastoral skills while developing a more sincere pastor’s heart. Counseling education and training expanded my awareness of the reality of the issue of same-sex attraction and experiences in people’s lives. I came to recognize that same-sex attraction and sexual relationships have been part of human experience nearly from the beginning, along with a number of other behaviors that do not reflect the holiness of God. I also learned that some ungodly lifestyle choices bring about significant consequences while the consequences of other choices don’t appear to be as significant. But this does not mean that some sins are “worse” than others. The human heart, scripture says, is deceitful. Those struggling with sin need help. My tendency early in pastoral ministry was to avoid the “significant” sinners and help those who struggled with less complex challenges. But now this was all changing as God showed me the depths of my own deceitful heart and the heights of his mercy and grace. Having received and embraced his grace, I was now growing in my knowledge of it and desiring to extend it to those in need – believers like me who were entangled in sin, especially what I believed in the past to be the “big” sins, like adultery, pornography and homosexuality.

I began seeking out and being sensitive to opportunities to help people and depended  on divinely provided occasions to help strugglers as a friend and counselor. The opportunities have been regular and I continue to grow in my knowledge of people’s experiences with same-sex attraction, understand ways to help those who seek to be free from the burden and develop the character to relate to those who struggle. I am truly thankful for each opportunity and rather than being surprised or made to feel uncomfortable by interacting with the issue, I embrace the opportunities.

Due to the cultural proliferation of same-sex relationships, I am sure I will have more opportunities – and so will you. I am convinced that this issue is here to stay in a way that is mainstream in our society. The issue will become more and more prominent and Christians and churches will be forced to face it. This raises several important questions: How will we deal with it? What do we believe about it? How do we perceive the homosexual community? How will we help those among us who struggle with same-sex attraction? Will we talk about it? Over the next few months, we will attempt to answer these questions. In the meantime, reflect on your own story. Ask God to make you aware of your beliefs and perceptions and to open your heart and mind to seeing this issue through his eyes.