The Poor Sin You Will Always Have With You

Body, Soul (Psyche) and Spirit

In regards to the subject of homosexuality or unwanted same sex attraction (SSA) I am often asked the question, by clergy and parents, “What about the sin?”.   While the question comes from wonderful hearts of concern and only wanting the best for their congregants and children, it can easily overwhelm one with endless, stress filled rumination.  My response is, “What about it?”.  My intention here is not to diminish the seriousness of sin, but rather to suggest that we might give too much power to sin by focusing only on sin.

Humans are three parts: Body, Soul (Psyche), and Spirit.  The Church has focused greatly on the spirituality of people.  This is the calling of the Church, and other faiths, as well as parents belonging to these different faiths.  This leaves Body and Soul, in my judgment, often overlooked.  The Spirit is top heavy. The Spirit is greatly put upon and the neglect of the Body and Soul creates an imbalance which can lead to poor choices which eventually can lead to sin. Let me further explain.

Human beings have non-negotiable needs to belong, be loved, accepted, touched, needed, cared for, etc.  These needs affect all three areas of Body, Soul, and Spirit.  But only the Spirit is getting fed.  Often men that struggle with unwanted same sex attraction are told by their well intentioned spiritual leaders to “pray more” and “read your Bible more”.  These two spiritual disciplines are a wonderful practice in any persons life.  However, while they are good and helpful they cannot by themselves bring the healing a man needs.  Many clients will tell me that they prayed asking G-d to remove their homosexuality and read their Bibles religiously but G-d did not answer them.  This easily and often leads to the message of “G-d is punishing me” or “G-d must not love me.” Nothing could be further from the Truth. G-d is NOT punishing these men and He most certainly DOES love these men as He loves all human beings!

Here’s the thing: Homosexuality is a relational issue and so needs to be dealt with relationally. (Enter Body and Soul stage right)

If a man focuses on getting his non-negotiable needs met by safe men then he has no reason to get his needs met through unhealthy avenues such as pornography, anonymous hook-ups, etc.  Getting one’s needs met in healthy community increases healthy attachment, making one feel loved, accepted, cared for, knowing that he belongs. This directly nourishes the Body and the Soul which, when taken care of regularly, squelches the desire to act out and therefore sin fails to be enacted. Does this mean a man will never sin again? Of course not. We are human not perfect. It means that when we get our “tanks filled” with good things, in healthy safe ways (which leads to healthy attachment and strong gender congruity), there is no need to get them filled in painful, lonely ways (which leads to unhealthy detachment, gender incongruity, shame, and – you guessed it – eventually sin).

I have had clergy and parents both respond very well and terribly to this dialogue. Those that don’t get it hold to the “what about the sin?” question as though it were a guard rail keeping them from plunging over a cliff. And yet, when Body and Soul needs go unmet men plunge over the cliff anyway. Meeting the non-negotiable needs of the Body, Soul, and Spirit is like a smoothly paved highway, with no steep edges to plunge off of.

For those who respond well, the next question usually  is “What can we do to help?”.  Most of us are used to hearing people say “I will pray for you.”, when what we really need is for them to get down in the mud and the mess with us and love us in a place that we believe ourselves to be unlovable: “Just as I am.”  It is in loving, caring, seeing, hearing, touching, accepting, and knowing those that struggle that they will begin to find peace and healing. Instead of praying “G-d take this from me”, their prayers of “G-d help me to better relate and have friends and healthy relationships” will begin to be answered through others meeting them right where they are at.

The woman at the well was thirsty.  Her need was water. Jesus never condemned her need. He only pointed out to her that she was drinking from the wrong well. And that there is a well with healthy water that will quench her thirst like nothing else.

Sin is like the poor. You will always have it with you.  Body, Soul, Spirit. It’s time for balance.


Posted by Thaddeus Heffner, LMFT – December 5, 2012





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