Katie Luther Posts

Confession and Shame



Dear Sisters,

I’m not sure where to ask this but I’ve seen that you run posts without naming the asker so I thought I’d try.

I’m married and we have a new baby. I love my husband and my son but there’s something wrong. Something really, really wrong, and I am ashamed. I haven’t talked to my pastor because I’m worried I’ll make him think I’m horrible.

I’m attracted to other women. I’ve never actually typed that out before, but I need help.

Do you have any advice for me?

-A hurting sister.

Dear Sister in Christ,

First, I want to tell you my heart hurts for you. I know that sounds trite, a cliche of empty words typed out of necessity, but I hope you read them and know you are deeply cared for, even by those you’ve never met.

It is out of that care, though, that I must refrain from directly addressing the sin you are battling. I simply am not equipped nor qualified to do so, and I think you may already know that to be the case. But what I can offer you is nothing small.

It is compassion — for you have brothers and sisters in Christ to serve you in love and faith right where you are.

It is fellowship — for you have a family in Christ standing with you, and you are far from alone.

It is a loving call and a nudge to move you to the one God Himself has sent to your aid — your pastor.

I know it can be scary to face someone you see week in and week out, to tell him of your secret shame and then have to shake his hand and smile as if he didn’t know what you’re hiding and holding onto.

But, friend, he is the man you need to seek out now. He is the one called to guard your soul and speak the sweet words of Christ’s forgiveness to you.

That shame feels ugly and it weighs you down, but it is the very thing — born of God’s good and awesome Law — that drives you to repentance, to the altar, to Christ, and to His forgiveness. That desire to avoid confession and your pastor — to hole yourself away and cut yourself off from the healing balm of Christ — that is not from God. God does not desire us to seek ourselves, as if we are strong enough to withstand the weight of our sins alone, but instead He comes to us — to you — in Word and Sacrament through our pastors. And through your pastor.

Your pastor is trained and called to listen to sins. Yes, he preaches God’s Word, he baptizes in God’s Name, he delivers God’s body and blood, but he also hears sins and gives Christ’s absolution for those. Trust that he his a man of steadfast faith to his office, and consider seeking private confession, trusting him to be your shepherd, to hear your sins, forgive them, and wipe them clean.

As my friend, Nathan Redman, has written here:

When your pastor hears your sin, it is forgiven and forgotten; just like Jesus Christ forgives your sin and it no longer stains you. Not guilty is our claim to our Father in heaven because of our savior Jesus Christ.

We have a great gift in private confession, in that there before our pastor we can lay out all that burdens us and hear the very real and powerful forgiveness of our Lord spoken aloud to us, personally. The devil and our Old Adam don’t want us to confess or hear our absolution, but instead want us continuing to struggle under the load of sin we carry. But Jesus calls to you in His Word.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  — Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)

Dear sister, know you are cared for, you are prayed for by your church family and your pastor. But most importantly know you have Christ crucified for you for the forgiveness of your sins and life everlasting.

In Christ,

Vanessa Rasanen

Photo Credit to Scott CresswellSome rights reserved.


  • Amy S

    Dear Sister in Christ,

    I second everything that was posted above, but wanted to add my own experience. Know that you are not alone in this burden. Part of our sin-cursed flesh means that sometimes to whom we are attracted is not the correct sex. Some are born with physical infirmities, others with mental illnesses, and some with mixed up romantic desires. Your Father loves you — us — anyway.

    However, accepting this desire as just another sinful desire is not license to embrace it. Obviously, you were attracted enough to your husband to marry him and have a child with him; presumably you’ve become experienced in resisting temptation with other men. All this realization means is that you now have twice as much temptation to resist.

    You have been called to the vocation of wife and mother. That this desire runs crosswise to your calling is not pleasant — I know from first hand experience. But do not let thoughts of missing pleasures consume you and distract you from those noble callings. My marriage has survived for 13 years with my husband knowing of my desires. Yours can survive as well, with prayer and an attitude of loyalty.

    You may find comfort in this blog post; it’s by a Mormon man, but he has managed to deal with being both gay and loyally married. //www.joshweed.com/2012/06/club-unicorn-in-which-i-come-out-of.html

    One last thought — given that you’ve recent had a child, you may want to seek psychiatric/ psychological counseling, in case this is something triggered by post-partum depression.

  • Kate

    To be clear, the attraction is not the sin. That’s just part of our brokenness. But…you’re married. So be married. This life is so, so short and if that is your cross to bear, remember that there are others bearing crosses and none of what we carry will compare to what Christ took on the cross.

    I think of Joni Erickson Tada and the vital, active life she led until she was permanently paralyzed at 17 years old as the result of a swimming accident. God in turn took that anguish (and she had a lot of it) and blessed the world through her.

    I think of the many persecuted Christians throughout the world, like Saeed Abedini who is languishing in a brutal Iranian prison for a crime he didn’t commit. His wife and kids, too, have huge crosses to bear.

    I think of Wesley Hill and Eve Tushnet, both vocal, gay Christians and celibate (you can find them on Twitter or Amazon), who are holding forth their witness to the world against what I can only imagine are tremendous internal and external pressures.

    So those are some things that help me. We all have temptation. I’ve struggled with porn, masturbation, yearning even for the first man I fell in love with and not my husband. Ugly stuff. But I took a vow and God is faithful and He gives many, many blessings.

    But don’t call the attraction a sin. The Devil will KILL you with that one. But fight against indulging it; God WILL give you the victory.

    “Courage, dear heart!” Already you are beating it. That much is clear. Think of heaven, so full of the redeemed people of Christ who fought similar battles. We’ll all be there together one day. I look forward to a big hug from you, stranger!

  • Pastor Christopher

    From an ordained shepherd of God’s flock:
    Thank you for sharing this post ~ and this sister’s struggle. Though this is an old post – perhaps someone may see it again and consider these things. I have prayed for our sister – and all who share her continuing struggle.

    Be sure, that Jesus sees, knows and cares. He was tempted in EVERY way in which we were tempted – yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15) This temptation is serious and troubling, like many other temptations are. Much shame and confusion can be attached to these desires and feelings, even if one never acts on them. Temptations come at us like fiery darts from the enemies of our soul and body: the devil, the world, and our own flesh (Old Adam). Temptations are NOT sin. Jesus was tempted and did not yield to them. He fought them with the POWERFUL Word of God! Temptations need to be resisted if one is not to fall into sin. Same sex attraction (or illicit heterosexual attraction – for that matter) is difficult to contend against. Yet, Christians are called to resist temptation to sin. Christ Jesus has given His Word and Holy Spirit and godly armor to protect and help us in this battle. (see Ephesians 6:10-18)

    If these temptations HAVE given birth to sin in your heart, or even in deeds and actions, we have an Advocate (I John 2:1-6) – who died for your sins and rose to intercede for your forgiveness before the Father’s throne of Grace.

    Dear sisters and brothers, please do NOT define yourselves by your temptations and struggles (whatever they may be – sexual or otherwise), and certainly not by your past or current sins or sinful desires.

    Define yourself by your Savior ~ Christ Jesus our Lord! You are His beloved… the apple of His eye. Your salvation and sanctification are the desire of His heart. He prepares a place for you, and yearns for you to be with Him as His own forever.

    He has won the victory, and He wants to give His victory to you. He has sent the Holy Spirit to be our (YOUR) Guide and Teacher and Comforter.
    He has also sent shepherds into His continuing ministry to help you in these struggles. Please find a loving shepherd who will speak the full Word of the Good Shepherd to you. You may find it hard to believe, but pastors are there to listen and care, and to help you in your struggles. They are there to share God’s grace in Word and Sacrament. And yes, to celebrate your victories too! Peace and strength be with you – in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    Once again ~ don’t give up… but send up your cry to the Lord. He hears and He helps.

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