In my third year of university studies, I had sexual relations with another man, and I have continued to do the same with other men since then. I don’t want to do it, and I ask God to help me; but help does not come.

In 2009, my AIDS test came back positive. No one in my family… knows. I didn’t want to cause them that pain, and now that I’m going to die, even less.

I don’t know what to do. For more than ten years I have cried out to God, but He has not heard me. What should I do? Help me!

Dear Friend,

We are very sorry to hear about your diagnosis. We urge you to tell your parents about your illness so that they can be a comfort to you during the difficult times that you are facing in the days ahead. Of course they will be devastated to hear the news, but please give them a chance to show you that they love you and that they want to help you. There are a few exceptions, but the overwhelming majority of parents will forgive their children no matter what they have done.

You say that you do not want to have physical relationships with other men. However, since the time that you first gave in to the temptation, the attraction has grown and you have found it increasingly difficult to resist. Even though you have asked God to keep you from being tempted, it seems to you that He has not heard you.

Similarly, those who commit adultery often say that they didn’t want to do it. After giving in the first time, they found it easier and easier to continue their illicit relationship. Compulsive gamblers, alcoholics, and smokers experience the same inability to resist temptation. Any habit, even something as morally acceptable as biting your fingernails, can seem impossible to conquer.

Jesus Christ said: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”1 In this short statement, we discover the reason why you have continued to do what you have not wanted to do, and why other people, just like you, continue doing things that they do not want to do. When Christ said, “The spirit is willing,” He acknowledged that even when our intentions are good, our human nature (“the flesh”) is what can fail us. Jesus used the action “fall” to describe a process in which a person trips or stumbles and then finds himself sprawled on the ground, possibly dirty and injured, in a situation that he didn’t plan.

How do you keep from falling when walking on uneven ground? Christ said that the way to keep from falling is to watch and pray. Watching involves scanning the path in front of you, trying to select the smoothest ground for each footstep. Praying is an appeal for direction, as in, “Which path should I take to make sure that I don’t fall?” God always answers these prayers by making it clear which path is dangerous and which is safe, but He never forces us to choose the safe path.

To resist temptation, it is necessary to see the pitfalls that are ahead and make an action plan to avoid them. Recognizing the places where the temptation is strongest allows us to stop going to those places. Staying away from people who may get us into trouble may prevent the trouble. Many times we also need to ask for help when we see the danger. Telling our temptation to a trusted friend or mentor gives us an ally who will help us make it around the pitfalls.

When our actions break God’s laws, we must also ask Him to forgive us. That is a prayer that He is waiting to hear and that He wants to answer.

We wish you success,

Linda and Charles
1 Mt 26:41