Sexuality and Spirituality
Do You Struggle To Reconcile Religious Beliefs And Sexual Orientation?
Are you a member of the LGTBQA+ community who was raised in a religious environment? It could be that these beliefs have made it difficult for you to come out and live the life you want due to fear of condemnation.
Perhaps you are hounded by feelings of shame and guilt. You might have internalized certain teachings about your orientation and now struggle to separate them from your identity. You may even fear being rejected by your religious community.
Do you look at other couples and wonder why you can’t have the same thing? It seems so simple for straight couples or same-sex couples that aren’t a part of your religion. You’d probably like to have that same happiness, but you may not want to change your belief system, which has led to doubt, longing, and shame.
Deep down, what you probably want most is acceptance. You want your peers to accept and love you for who you are, and you want to feel happy in your own skin.
Many Religious LGBT People Struggle With Acceptance
LGBTQA+ individuals raised in strict religious environments often face discrimination. Because of the way many religious doctrines are stated, LGBTQA+ people struggle to live lives that are both true to themselves and these belief systems.
Part of the reason these struggles are so common is that both can be very closely linked to identity. Your sexual orientation is part of who you are, and certain religious traditions—such as Catholicism and Judaism—can become tied to cultural identity. Once you are a part of these traditions, you are always considered a part of them.
It can be very difficult for LGBTQA+ individuals in this situation to try and reconcile two seemingly different parts of their identity. Many may try to find communities and places of worship who accept them the way they are, but that can be difficult when dealing with less tolerant religious traditions. This search can lead to feelings of frustration, depression, fear, shame, and confusion to increase.
What many people don’t realize is that your sexuality and spirituality don’t have to be at odds with each other. You can learn to reconcile your beliefs and sexual orientation and live a life free of guilt and shame.
Therapy Can Help You Find Peace With Yourself
Counseling can be enormously helpful for aiding people in reconciling their sexuality and spirituality. It can help you come to understand and accept your own voice and experiences—and learn that the voice deep inside might really be the voice of God.
I provide a warm, safe environment where you can talk about your struggles without judgment. And I can help you understand your struggles more clearly and separate religious teachings from the truth of who you are.
I have an individualized, person-centered approach to therapy. In sessions, we will talk about where you’re at and where you want to be. I often consider this a journey of self-discovery; the goal is to help you understand more about yourself, the belief system you grew up in—or still have—and how you can free yourself from the shame that belief system may bring.
During sessions, I will employ cognitive behavioral techniques in order to help change some of your negative thought patterns. For example, thoughts like, “I’m a bad person because I’m attracted to someone of the same sex,” could be reframed as, “God created me as someone who’s attracted to the same sex and loves me as I am.”
I will often provide work for you to do outside of sessions. For example, I might suggest you read a pamphlet, a book chapter, or a website on religion or LGBT issues to learn about others who have been in your situation. I find that combining homework with work in sessions promotes the biggest, most positive changes.
As someone who has been in the same position, I understand the struggle to reconcile belief and sexual identity very well. I am a Roman Catholic priest who is also a homosexual man. While I never doubted my sexuality, it became increasingly difficult to work in an environment where my identity—and that of other gay Christians—was considered wrong. I left the ministry after the publication of my book, Hidden Voices: Reflections of a Gay, Catholic Priest. Since then, I have been working to help others come to terms with their own identity and beliefs.
Reconciling my sexuality and spirituality is a journey I’ve experienced myself, and I have spent years researching the subject. Because of this, I can tell you that there’s a great possibility for your life to change. You don’t have to live in secrecy and shame; you can live the life of freedom and acceptance you’ve been looking for.
You might still have some reservations about LGBT counseling for religious issues…
Does this mean I’ll have to come out?
Coming out can be very frightening for many individuals. Because of this, I would never force someone to take that step. Everything we talk about will remain completely confidential. You can choose when to come out, or never come out at all. The important thing is to help you come to terms with your situation and find what’s going to work for you.
I’m not sure I can afford therapy.
I understand that money can be an issue for many individuals, and I am more than happy to work with you to find a way to fit therapy into your budget. In fact, I have often helped clients figure out a payment plan that will be easily manageable for their current living situation.
I don’t have the time.
While it can be difficult to make time in your already-busy day, I would encourage you to try. A lot of unnecessary shame can build if this disconnect is not taken care of. By going to therapy, you can help resolve your feelings and live happier. You are, in essence, investing time in your own well-being.
LGBT Counseling Can Help You Live A Life That’s Free
If you are interested in learning more, please call me 314-422-4111 for a free 30-minute phone consultation. I would be happy to discuss any questions you might have, and we can see if I’m the right therapist for you.