Who Is Safe to Tell?
You’re struggling with sexual temptation, specifically attraction to someone of the same gender, and you feel like there isn’t a single soul you can tell. Sexual struggles can feel so lonely and shame-filled. Friends and mentors can help pull us out of self-hatred and shame and direct us toward true love.
As promised, here are a few indicators to know if someone is safe to tell. What we mean by “safe” is someone who meets these criteria is likely to respond to your struggle with the right balance of compassion and truth. They can point you toward God’s Word as you seek to bring your temptations under the authority of Christ. These are not guarantees. If you see all four in someone, pray, pray, and pray some more for their heart to be receptive to you before sharing your deepest struggles.
1. Safe people love God and produce fruit.
Safe people love God and people. You know it’s sincere love if you see the fruit of it in their lives.
“You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16).
The “fruit” referenced in this verse is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and includes love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness (Gal.atians 5:22-23). Safe people don’t have to perfectly bear fruit every minute, but you can see evidence of God’s love in them in how people are drawn to them and how after being with them everyone is more loving, peaceful, patient, and kind.
2. Safe people know they are weak and in need of Jesus.
I know someone is safe if they know their own weaknesses and are asking God to transform them. I am always nervous around people who think they’ve “got it.” Paul—the writer of most of the New Testament—called himself the worst of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). I want my mentors and friends to be aware of their weaknesses in this same way.
3. Safe people speak truth without condemnation.
We need people who are willing to tell us what we need to hear: biblical truth dripping with sincere love. “This does not mean that they are not accepting, but it means that in their acceptance of us, they are honest about our faults without condemning us,” Henry Cloud and John Townsend say in their “What Are Safe People?” article.
Condemnation and conviction are totally different. Conviction feels like God pointing at one specific area where you can confess. Condemnation (often paired with oodles of shame) feels like someone taking your face and grinding it in the sidewalk.
Conviction says, “This specific thing is wrong”; condemnation says, “Your whole person is wrong.” There is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). If someone speaks truth with condemnation, they are not safe.
4. Safe people speak compassionately about LGBTQ+/SSA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning “plus” or same-sex attracted) people.
Sin is sin. We’re all sinners. Safe people get this. Sexual sin does have more devastating consequences than say gossiping about your math teacher (1 Corinthians 6:18), but all sin separates us from God. If someone says it is the ultimate sin, then they are outright wrong.
The word “abomination” used to describe same-sex behavior in Leviticus is also used in Proverbs to describe a lying tongue and feet that race to do wrong (Proverbs 6:16-18). Additionally, Bible never calls the struggle with same-sex temptation a sin, only the behavior. This includes inward behavior that no one knows about but you, such as indulging in lustful thoughts (1 Corinthians 6:9; Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:27).
If you hear an elevation of a sexual sin struggle over others, then this person would not be the best to talk to at this point. Perhaps one day but not today.
These four qualities are indicators someone is safe, but not a guarantee. Like I do every time before I share my story and struggles, pray for the receivers of your words. “God, please prepare their hearts. I know they might reject me, but do You reject me?”
His answer? No way!
“I am as likely to reject my people Israel as I am to abolish the laws of nature!” God says in Jeremiah 31:36 (NLT). The last time I checked, gravity still works. God has not rejected nature, and as long as you are seeking Him, He will not reject you.
By Laurie Krieg