Do you feel like your Christian experience is of such a peculiar nature that the believers around you are utterly unable to relate to you? Whenever you step into a worship service or community group, do you often feel like the odd one out—like no one can possibly understand the circumstances in which you find yourself or the sin-struggles that haunt you every day? Or, if you do not personally feel this way, do you know someone who does? Do you know a brother or sister in Christ who remains convinced they are some kind of exception to the Christian norm despite how persistently everyone around them insists they are not?
I remember feeling like this. In the first couple of years following my conversion, I believed I belonged to some rare species of Christian. I thought my trials and temptations were so abnormal that other believers could not empathize or even sympathize with what I was facing. Part of this peculiarity complex was due to the fact that no one I knew at the time was called to a path of repentance, like mine, that involved a high chance of lifelong singleness. I think there is some legitimate unusualness to following Christ with the thorn of same-sex desires lodged in your side. All Christians are tempted and broken, sure. But generally lacking romantic desire for the opposite gender carries with it some distinct implications—like the strong possibility of remaining unmarried for life.

However, my anomalous feelings extended beyond this particular bentness. Since the outset of my faith journey, I have wrestled almost continuously with intense doubt. Sometimes, I doubt the existence of God; other times, I doubt the goodness of God; most times, I doubt the inspired nature of God’s Word. There have been brief but wonderful seasons in which I have possessed simultaneously a sure confidence in God’s reality, his righteousness, and the truthfulness of his written revelation. But more often than not, I am struggling to believe on one of these fronts. And early on in my walk with Christ, I thought I was the only one seriously struggling. Even when other believers expressed to me that they experienced similar battles in their thought lives, I was convinced their battles weren’t as brutal as mine.

This perspective of reality produced some rotten fruit in my life. I grew increasingly resentful toward God for singling me out to be afflicted not only by distorted sexual desires and a potentially lonesome future, but also by a mind that found it so hard to simply believe. I was unwilling to be encouraged or counseled by brothers and sisters in Christ, because I was convinced they had no idea what I was going through. My belief that I was a spiritual anomaly caused me to be a bitter, self-consumed person who distanced himself from God and exercised little love toward others.

I praise God for shattering this faulty way of thinking in my life. It was not an instantaneous shattering. But, over a period of time, through the graces of community, discipleship, and time spent in the Scriptures, I was able to see that enduring trials and temptations is a universal experience among Christians. It is not unique to me.

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Peter wrote to his believing readers, “Resist [the devil], firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world” (1 Peter 5:9). Though indwelling sin manifests in various ways, and trials come in various forms, none of us face uncommon temptations or suffer in peculiar or unprecedented ways. Satan harasses all of us. The flesh torments all of us. No Christian “has it easy”—all of us struggle and toil and fight and endure.

If you think your Christian experience is some kind of exception to the norm, I plead with you to do yourself the favor of repenting of that mindset. Such thinking will only produce poisonous fruit in your life, as it did in mine. You will always be down in the dumps. You will always be consumed with self. You will grow increasingly resentful toward God, bitter toward others, and unwilling to participate in the means of grace God has given you to sustain you in your trials and temptations—namely, community and discipleship in a local church.

It may not look like the Christians around you are going through the same stuff you are, but you have no idea what they have walked through or are currently walking through. Not everyone wears their whole life on their sleeve! Perhaps the brother or sister you sit next to on Sunday—you know, that one who keeps trying to carry on a conversation with you despite your reclusiveness, short responses, and attempts to escape—has endured or is currently enduring a similar trial as you but has learned to live joyfully in the midst of it. Maybe God wants to strengthen you through that person, but you are so locked inside of yourself and so certain no one can understand you that you are withholding yourself from empowering grace!

For your own sake and the sakes of those around you, humbly accept the fact your experience as a Christian is not exceptional. We are all in this boat together. The waves of affliction are crashing against us all—and they do so under the supervision of a faithful God. He is not allowing you or me to suffer some unusually powerful temptation that we are unable to withstand. The ferocity of our temptations is common and resistible (1 Corinthians 10:13). And the suffering he has allowed into your life and mine is not uncommon, nor is it permanent. But, “after [we] have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called [us] to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish [us]” (1 Peter 5:10).

  • Lyle Nelson

    I have (pretty much) come to terms with the semi-uniqueness of the SSA temptation. I’ve disclosed it to the leadership of my church and to the members of my small group and they seem very unaffected by it. That eliminates the “What would they think of me if they only knew?” factor, which is a good burden to be rid of. Where I most need to continue to make progress is in the various other sins in my life (more common, so I won’t list them here). It feels like it’s the aggregate burden of everything added together that seems harder to bear than the loads of others (although that’s somewhat unfair to say, because I don’t know what all of their burdens are or have been). Trusting that God knows what He’s doing and playing the cards you’re dealt really seems to be the only way to deal with this. If we were intended to know, God would have told us!

  • WOW Matt! This seems to be an exact description of my walk with Christ! For 28 years I felt that no one was like me, that I was different, even going so far as believing I was God’s pet fa**ot. I wouldn’t share my sins if I bothered to attend church at all. I honestly thought I was the only believer who was gay, and that God could only love me at a distance. This only changed starting in January of last year (2016) and it has been a long road of recovery.
    I think a large part of it was due to bad theology early it my walk with Christ, that all gays go to hell. It lead to a separation from God, I am sorry to say. After I came back (kicking and screaming), I still didn’t want to talk about it, pretending to be something I’m not. I was terrified at what people might think. But God had other plans, using my testimony to help others in our church who are young and dealing with these issues. I am a part of God’s Kingdom, and can serve others by telling them not to go down the path I led. Thanks so much!

  • Amy

    Always timely and right on target, thanks Matt

  • Jody Walker

    For 40 years I have suffered with SSA yet trying to obstain.
    I live in a remote area but can drive to be around others and suffer being very lonely as well. Not looking to become extremely attached & attracted to someone I met who was heterosexual, yet seemed slightly interested and very friendly towards me then pulled away saying they met a girl so quickly and plan to be married and informed their pastor I was interested in them and the two of them sit me down to take to me, as I was the new person at that particular church really hurt me and has carried me into a deep depression I am currently working to pull myself out of.
    Your post is AMAZING. I can’t hardly believe I found it. Matt, what you have described is exactly how I have felt for years. Thank you so much for being so transparent and honest. This is much needed. No need will speak on this. Recently I spoke of my struggle with SSA only briefly to a few people ( all strangers)heterosexual Single’s group during Christmas. All ladies and 1 man was paired off in my group.
    Speaking about this subject does help others to know we are not fighting alone and there are others struggling also really hard with in the flesh wanting to be loved by a SS partner. God is using you Matt to help us get through this horrible thing (sin) that seems so unfair to have to live through.

      • Jody Walker

        God bless you and continue to heal and restore you fully. I believe it helps to share our stories expecially since it’s rarely ever talked about and little to no support in places like where I live, yet there are people like you and myself who have lived years privately struggling with this and being ChristIan where you are shunned if you mention your struggle. The worst sin on Earth in many s view. Matt Moore nailed it in his Not A Anomaly blog.

        • Thank you so much! If you ever need to have a shoulder to cry on, or just want someone to listen, I will be there! My email address is on the blog, and I answer ALL mail, as time permits.

          • Jody Walker

            Bradley are you the writer
            of Anomaly or rather Mr.Moore?
            Just wondering. If so. Wow, you have really been through so much. If you are Mr.Moore it is sad how when you gave your life to Christ, there are those who either don’t care or insensitive or ignorant to believe that we still struggling and although the Spirit is willing our flesh can become weak. Not to give any excuse for yielding to temptation. We are still in our fleshly bodies. When we would do good, evil is always present. It will always be a struggle. I heard homosexuality described as a “power demon”. It has a stronghold. That’s why this community is important. Onward ye Christian Soldiers.

          • LOL! No I am not Matt or the author of Anomaly. No I am just a person, who is SSA, who is loved by God and came back to Him (rather He came for me, because I wouldn’t go to Him!) I thank Him for the stroke, because He has given me peace for the first time in my life! But thank you for the complement. I actually discovered Matt’s site in late July.

          • Jody Walker

            LoL.

          • I have heard the “power demon” theory before. I think it is hogwash. Blaming it on some demon is the same thing as saying “the devil made me do it.” I made my own choices (influenced by those who spoke falsely). One person on this site told me that a demon had entered into my body for every person I had been with, and that I needed to rebuke each one. Again this is hogwash and legalism at its finest. Because of my stroke and memory loss I don’t even remember many of those I slept with. I am glad I don’t have to, because I would have a problem. Jesus Christ paid the debt for ALL my sins, even the ones I can’t remember!

    • You aren’t alone in your struggles!

      • Jody Walker

        Thank you Bradley

  • James

    “Whenever you step into a worship service or community group, do you often feel like the odd one out—like no one can possibly understand the circumstances in which you find yourself or the sin-struggles that haunt you every day?”

    No, When I was in the church, I never felt this way. I knew I was in a place where my particular personality an sexual orientation were the odd men out. I never feared that people wouldn’t understand what being attracted to men or being gay was like. What I hated, was how indifferent and wholly consumed by their own lives they were. “Want to have dinner with my wife and I from 8-9pm once a month?” “Hey man lets get coffee for 30 min once every other week.” “Hey how can I pray for you?”

    GTFO

    Since leaving the church, in the gay community I have: Taken trips around the country, traveled the world, celebrated birthdays, tragedies, had people confide in me, repeatedly acknowledge my pain and get in my face to show their support, support me financially, include me in every set of plans, value my contributions, praise my accomplishments, support me in my failures, call me out in my foolishness, seek my advice, let me think out loud, and never judge me for how different or awkward I might be. And not once do the ones who love me wear a fake smile and pretend that life is a walk in a golden park.

    I had to bend over backwards to get half of that from Christians. Most of which were awkward young seminary couples who shouldn’t have married so young and don’t give a shit about gay people or don’t care to learn. We’re just a theology discussion written in book but never touched, spoken to, or care for by these people.

    • I know how you feel, and I felt this way too. I wouldn’t go to church if you paid me because I was so bitter. But not everyone is like that. I had to have a stroke to see that. Also, did you try other churches? When I had heard the false message that I was going to hell for being gay, I should have sought out a different church, instead of feeling sorry for myself, believing that all Christians hated me. Seminary smacks of religion, and that was what was keeping me from the worship of the Living God. If you truly want a relationship with God, seek out a church where religion is not emphasized and faith is.

  • Phillip Woeckener

    Unless of course you are reeling from losing your son to suicide over 2 years ago. My reclusiveness, anger, depression, and isolation have come over time AFTER his death, because I’m sick of being around people that pretend that all is well in their lives, and come to church on Sunday morning faking it. That fake smile, that fake “great!”, and like everything is sunshine and daisies. Don’t BS me anymore. I don’t engage in conversation with people, because frankly I could care less about anything they have to say. Call me crazy, but I SERIOUSLY doubt, you or anyone else understand the pain and grief I am going through. I even turned off a sermon by John MacArthur recently, because he kept repeating the phrase, “be thankful in all circumstances.” I wanted to tell MacArthur to shut the heck up, because I can find no scenario that plays out to where I can be thankful for the suicide of my 15 year old son. So sorry if I appear pissed off, and unwilling to engage in conversation with you. Trust me, it’s not you, it me. And I honestly don’t care anymore.

    • You are allowed to be angry. It is what makes you human. At the age of fourteen my best friend committed suicide. I was devastated. The bond we had can be best describe as love (non sexual). It was an event that still effects me today over thirty years later. To make matters worse, I asked by father and his wife if I would get to see my friend again in heaven. They were my only source of religion at the time. I was told no, that people who kill themselves go straight to hell. As a person who believed in God, I fell into a hopeless depression, as I was dealing with the very real prospect of being a homosexual. I very nearly took my own life. For years I had unresolved anger issues with my father’s wife, and God too. I didn’t hate Him, but I sure didn’t like Him either. But what good did anger do? Had I moved God off his throne. My father’s wife died, never apologizing for what she said. Would anger have caused her to see how badly she hurt me?
      I had a massive stroke four years ago. I should have died, but I didn’t. My Father came for me. Mercifully he allowed totally memory loss, so I could forget the anger and pain, so that I could begin to forgive. I am thankful for this. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5d584d293a054c5f26b791358dfbbd8da1c29e0cc10707a0db7cc29d4654519e.jpg