"Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also." -Galatians 6:1

It may seem strange, or even insulting, to begin with this verse. "Of course," you think, "I won't be tempted! I'm not gay! That's disgusting!" And, yes, the odds are that you will not be tempted into homosexuality by helping your loved-one. The possibility shouldn't be completely dismissed so as to leave you vulnerable (after all, you yourself may in truth be similarly wounded), but it is a more general discernment I wish to get at it with this reference.

Whenever we are ministering to another broken vessel, we have to be very aware of our own healthiness. Despite what you may have gleaned from your church, there is no honour in sacrificing your own health for another. That is not "laying down your life for a friend"! Your own spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical health is just as precious to our Father as that of your loved-one.

Dangers that may come up for us here are emotional dependency, spiritual folly, false wisdom, and fear of change.

Emotional Dependency can easily develop in these situations. You may find that your mood and health is inextricably linked to that of the one you are seeking to help. While the Bible asks us to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice, it does not mean that we are unable to do either on our own without the other person feeling the same way. Do you find yourself dwelling on your loved-one's current state of healing throughout the day? Do you find it hard to enjoy a night with other friends and family? Are you only happy when your loved-one is doing well? If so, you are taking their pain into yourself. You must empathize, but you must beware of internalizing that pain and making it your own. That is the very kind of thing that can feed into a person's homosexual struggle. Pray that Christ will place His mighty cross between you, so that everything that passes through will be filtered by His love and sacrifice.

Spiritual Folly is another very real danger, especially for those who do not know very much about the causes and treatment of homosexuality. Modernity has spread the false belief that everything that is scientific or psychological cannot be spiritual. The reaction this viewpoint can spread the equally untrue creed that all afflictions are purely of the spirit. We are, however, complex and holistic beings, and our spiritual selves cannot be separated so cleanly from our mental, physical, and emotional selves. There is undoubtedly a spiritual element in any oppression or sin, but it is not the cause of most troubles. And it is not for us to attack it. We must instead allow God to help us discern what is really going on and lead the charge Himself. Attempting to label someone's problem as demonic is counter-productive and can often turn the sufferer away from God or the church altogether. Likewise, rushing into person-to-demon warfare is only asking for greater trouble. It will only open more people up to real pain and struggle.

False Wisdom may be one of the most insidious forms of danger. In order to love a homosexual struggler, you must engage in humble and open conversation with them. In such a situation, word true and false may flow either direction and lodge in the listener. You must not be the one speaking sophistry. Education that prevents this is one of the main purposes for this website. But be warned that in the pain and confusion of dealing with a sexual identity struggle, the other person will say many things that are not exactly true. Sometimes these statements bring shelter and comfort until a further stage of healing is attained. Sometimes they need to be uprooted on the spot. Sometimes, the person may have not conviction in what they say and are only seeking for your opinion. Allow the Holy Spirit to help you discern a proper response. An extremely common and tragic effect of such conversations is that a long-time helper will eventually be persuaded that homosexuality is a God-blessed, even God-created, condition. The sufferer's confusion and justification has been transferred to the listener because the latter was not sufficiently prepared by prayer and education. Obviously, this can start a deadly chain reaction that runs through entire families, churches, cities, and cultures. Never allow you empathy to step over God's truth.

Fear of Change is a huge issue for the families and friends of recovering homosexuals. As they see their loved-one change, they may panic and try to arrest the growth. They may not even allow room for the growth to take place. Continuing in old patterns is one the most harmful things to one who is being made new. Too easily, they can be forced back into unhealthy molds. You will need to come to grips with the possibility that the person you love may not be the true expression of that person's real self. Change is, after all, the very thing we are after, in a way. It is ironically sad, then, that it is the very ones who love the sufferer who often resist and try to disallow that change. Old habits, old patterns, old assumptions die very hard indeed. As a young man trying to change, I had a dear friend who unwittingly insisted on talking to me about boys and dissuading my attempts at heterosexual relating. By doing so, she only kept me locked in my old gay self and repeatedly confronted me with temptation. Dynamic and prayerful relationships can grow with the sufferer and will prove their greatest help.

“[N]o one on earth -- from east or west, or even from the wilderness -- can raise another person up.” -Psalm 75:6.

For your own well-being, you must never forget that it is not your job to heal your friend. In fact, you cannot. No one, this verse tells us, can raise another person up. What you can do, however, is to be there for them. You must create an environment that is conducive to healing. But it is not your fault if the other person finds that healing or not.

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." -Matthew 7:1-5

It can be almost as difficult to love someone who is gay as it is to deal with being gay yourself. You have a lot to adjust to and even more to deal with. This is especially true for those who are in the gay person's immediate family. Many of the causes of homosexuality are intimately related to family issues. As a member of the family, you must accept your part in the process and confess any sins of which the Holy Spirit convict you. This does not mean that it is all your fault, though! Many problems lay in the child's response to an action, and many are the result of no conscious sin. Every thing that wounds need not be a sin.

Simply dealing with the above problem can take enough time, pain, and energy. And that is only the beginning. Some aspects of your family life or your relationship with the affected person may come to light and need drastic change. Do you have the humility, the love, and above all the courage to make such changes? Of course not -- the best of us does not. But we need not rely on our own faculties. God gives these gifts to those who freely and fervently ask for them. Changes may need to made to the very basic rhythms of your life, to even your own self-image. You may grieve over this and wrestle with it. And you may find a brighter life on the other side.

I hope that by now it has become clear that you need guidance on this trip. You cannot do it on your own. You need God's help, yes, but you also need the help of His people. I recommend seeing a counselor for yourself or your family. These sessions should not regularly include the person who is dealing with homosexuality, although your counselor may recommend occasional group sessions. I would also not recommend seeing the same counselor. This is not a fast rule, but it can be very crippling for a son or daughter, for instance, to confide freely to someone who regularly meets with their parents. Make sure that the person you turn to is a professional and a Christian. If at all possible, please do your best to find someone who has experience with homosexual cases. If this is not possible, perhaps they may be willing to expand their knowledge through specific training or study.

So, you must be there for your loved-one, but you must never forget that you are healing and processing this as well. When you are both on the journey together, everyone has a better chance of reaching the end.