The answers to these questions were written mostly by our director Brenna Kate Simonds with input from the rest of the leadership team.
What is the mission of Alive in Christ?
Alive in Christ is an inter-denominational, Christ-centered ministry helping Christian men and women find freedom in their struggle with same-sex attraction, primarily through discipleship and mentoring.
What does Alive in Christ actually do?
Alive in Christ has a number of facets to the ministry. We have 3 support groups: a weekly group in Boston for Christians experiencing same-sex attraction, a monthly group in Boston for those with gay friends or family members also, and a monthly group in East Taunton for friends, family and strugglers.
We speak regularly at area churches. We preach and share testimonies in church services, as well as providing training for churches through several tools, including our primary training Same-Sex Attraction & the Church: Compassion without Compromise.
We can help people find a Christian counselor who has experience counseling people who are impacted by same-sex attraction.
What do you do in your support groups?
In our weekly group, we worship through song, study various material (we have a 2-year cycle of videos, teachings, and books we use), discuss the material, and then pray together. The two monthly groups have an open format. We may study a Scripture, listen to a testimony, or just take questions.
The primary focus of the support groups is growing in our knowledge of and relationship with Jesus Christ. We believe that as we grow to know and to love our Heavenly Father more and more, as well as understand who He created us to be, that our desire to walk in obedience will increase and our desire to act on our temptations will lessen.
Is same-sex attraction a sin?
Same-sex attraction is a form of temptation; the attraction itself is not a sin. For instance, simply having a thought or feeling of attraction enter your mind, even if it’s toward the same sex, is not sin. Pursuing that thought by turning it into a fantasy or an action would become sin. In the same way, being tempted to steal, overeat, or lie is not a sin, but acting on those temptations would be.
Do you practice or offer counseling or therapy?
We do not offer therapy and have no therapists on staff.
Do you try to make people straight?
We cannot change a person’s experience of sexual attraction. As a ministry, our primary focus is discipleship, not attraction change.
This may be confusing, since we are a ministry for people impacted by same-sex attraction, and our weekly support group is limited to people who experience same-sex attraction. Let me explain a concept upon which our ministry is built.
We stated here that simply experiencing same-sex attraction is not a sin; acting on it is. Too often we define true freedom as the absence of temptation. We need to face up to the fact that that’s a completely unrealistic goal. That doesn’t mean some people won’t experience complete removal of their same-sex attraction. However, if we measure our freedom based on whether or not we still struggle with a particular temptation, that means we expect to be more free than Jesus (a quote from Learning to Walk in Freedom by our director Brenna Kate Simonds).
Some people may stop experiencing same-sex attraction and experience opposite-sex attraction. We leave that in God’s hands and rather focus on living a life of obedience.
If you don’t focus on becoming straight, why have a support group?
Struggling with same-sex attraction as a Christian can be a source of shame, as can having a gay family member. Our goal at Alive in Christ is to create a safe place for Christians who are impacted by same-sex attraction, whether they themselves struggle or have a gay-identified or transgender loved one.
Those who struggle will walk into our weekly support group and know that everyone there understands how they feel and what they experience on some level. They can know that they will not be judged or misunderstood as they might be by someone who doesn’t struggle with same-sex attraction.
For a friend or family member, Alive in Christ provides a safe place to wrestle with challenging questions concerning what it looks like to continue to love and support a gay loved one without compromising biblical beliefs.
Christians need support to deal with all sorts of temptation, whether greed, lust, envy or overspending. Many forms of temptation are fairly common among Christians, so one struggling with such temptations can find support in almost any group that is willing to be supportive and honest. Same-sex attraction is less common than some other temptations, and not all groups of Christians will be prepared to help from experience. That said, we believe that the most important tools for dealing with same-sex attraction are universal to all Christians. At some level, temptation is temptation, and we all face it. We all sin and need to turn to God for forgiveness and help in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
Something that is unique to the individual struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction is that in general, much of society believes people are born gay and that homosexual behavior is not sinful. Some in the church have historically treated those with same-sex attraction harshly. For these reasons and many others, believers with same-sex attraction often find solace in a group such as Alive in Christ. The same is true for family members.
Should someone struggling with same-sex attraction aim for celibacy or attraction change?
In Alive in Christ, we do not focus on attraction change. That may seem strange, but same-sex attraction is simply a form of temptation. We encourage people rather to grow and to heal and to trust God with whatever outcome occurs. Simply stated, our focus is on obedience and freedom. We support each other in obeying God’s Word as it pertains to sexuality. And since it is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1), we learn to walk in freedom together.
We can’t know God’s perfect will for someone’s life. Rather than telling people they need to pursue celibacy OR attraction change, we encourage them to become the men and women God created them to be by surrendering continually to Him. We encourage them to submit their sexuality to God just as Jesus did. For us, Jesus gave up His right to express His sexuality. He laid that down at the cross along with every other right He had, being fully man and fully God.
We should absolutely pray that we experience the freedom Jesus died to give. We should absolutely pray that God would heal us from the inside out, and free us from any destructive patterns that may be contributing to our same-sex attraction. And we can pray, submitting to God’s perfect will, not that our attraction would change, per se, but that if it be God’s will and we have the desire, He would allow us to fall in love with someone of the opposite sex, marry, have a family, etc.
When I (Brenna Kate Simonds) came out of lesbianism, I did pray that I would marry because I wanted to experience sexuality as God intended it to be experienced. But I also committed to obedience no matter what the outcome. Since same-sex attraction (SSA) is an issue of wrongly relating to the same sex (and often the opposite sex as well), I prayed for relational healing in my life.
I still experience SSA. Many men with SSA who are married to women would say that they are still primarily same-sex attracted. But God in His great mercy allowed them to fall in love with one woman (while not experiencing a universal attraction to women).
I’ve prayed for God to change me, and He hasn’t. Doesn’t that mean I was born gay?
I hear this question quite often from Christians who sincerely prayed for God to take away their same-sex attractions, but God did not seem to answer that prayer. It’s helpful at this point to share a principle on which Alive in Christ is founded.
James 5:16 reads, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” This verse states that healing happens in the context of community. In the Bible, we see many examples of healing, and in every one, someone comes alongside the person in need of healing as part of the process. We were not meant to walk through this healing process alone, praying a prayer in our prayer closet. We were to heal our relational brokenness in relationship.
We must also remember that same-sex attraction is simply a form of temptation, as stated above. As we do heal from some of the factors that contributed to our same-sex attraction, often our attraction will lessen over time.
Should I identify as a “gay Christian”?
Alive in Christ does not take a stance on this issue. However our director has written an article on why she, despite having on-going same-sex attraction, does not find identifying as a gay Christian helpful: Why I don’t Identify As a Gay Christian
My child just came out to me as gay/transgender. What do I do now?
We have quite a few resources on the “help for families” page here.
Also, Focus on the Family has a good selection of resources available.
Should I attend my loved one’s same-sex wedding?
There are widely varying opinions on this, even within our own Alive in Christ leadership team. I will point you to these 2 thought-provoking articles to help shape your decision. I also encourage you to pray and trust the Holy Spirit to guide you in making this challenging decision.
I’m invited to a same-sex wedding: yes or no? by Joe Dallas
Should a Christian With Traditional Values Attend a Same-Sex Wedding? by Stephen Arterburn
What denomination are you part of?
The leadership of Alive in Christ is truly interdenominational. We represent the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference (CCCC), the Assemblies of God, the Foursquare Church, and the Church of the Nazarene in our leadership, as well as an interdenominational church and a CCCC church in terms of where our meetings are held. Our director, Brenna Kate Simonds, holds ministerial credentials with the Assemblies of God.