Amy Riordan, Longing for Intimacy: Hope for Women Struggling with Same-Sex Attraction (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018)
I found this book by accident while searching for something else, and I thank God that I did! I read it in one sitting, eagerly underlining things that I found helpful and putting stars next to sections that I want to revisit. Amy has written an incredibly warm, honest, and truth-filled account of her own struggles with same-sex attraction, pornography and lust, an account which will encourage every woman who faces the same temptations. As I read, I felt a huge sense of relief that here is someone who knows the same battles as me, really understands the pain and knows that Jesus can bring us through.
Amy begins by sharing her own story in a refreshingly honest way. There is no gratuitous detail or glamourising of sin, but she is candid about her life before and after turning to Christ and the ways she has battled temptations in her heart over the years.
Here is someone who knows the same battles as me, really understands the pain and knows that Jesus can bring us through.
The subsequent chapters all end with reflection questions and a prayer designed to encourage the reader in their own walk with God and battle with sin. There are some very challenging questions and practical ideas for steps that we can take to move away from sexual sin and run towards Jesus. I have marked numerous sections to go back to and work through at my own pace.
Although each chapter is short, Amy covers a lot of ground as she walks us through: the importance of forgiveness; sharing our struggles with trusted friends; renewing our minds; deciding to let God take the burden of sexual sin away from us; developing intimacy with God; renouncing idolatry of women; finding freedom; going through wilderness times; fighting temptations; wrestling identity; and forming healthy friendships.
I found the chapters ‘Letting Go’, ‘Journey to Intimacy’, ‘Learning How to Fight’ and ‘Forming Healthy Same-Sex Friendships’ most helpful. Amy points out that God can use the deep yearning that we have to be in a relationship with another woman to instead fuel our desire for him. We were created for intimacy, but that need can only be satisfied in a deep, loving relationship with the God who knows us and loves us perfectly.
The book very helpfully highlights the importance of being honest with God and turning to him in the midst of our most painful and secret temptations, knowing that they teach us to depend on God:
‘My temptations became less of an indicator of failure and more of an indicator of my continued need for intimacy with Jesus.’ (p.115).
The advice about how to respond when we find ourselves thinking lustfully about someone is great. Amy shares how she prays for that woman instead, knowing that ‘loving another woman meant that I would see her as God did and that I would want God’s best for her’ (p.129). I love how she expresses a right heart towards other people: ‘If I am truly loving another woman, that means I am leading her to Jesus, not drawing her away from Him’ (p.146).
Amy is open about the fact that she has had a sexual relationship with another woman, and this makes her well-placed to minister to those of us who have messed up in this area. She offers template prayers that we can use to confess particular sins and bring individuals to God.
This is not an academic book or a systematic look at what the Bible says about homosexuality, porn and masturbation; there are plenty of those elsewhere. Rather, this is a heartwarming personal account of how one woman has found increasing freedom and intimacy with Jesus. I felt like, rather than another book giving me advice that I’d struggle to follow, here was a hiking companion stretching her hand down to help me to the summit saying, ‘Come on up, the view’s spectacular.’
The extracts from Amy’s journal give particular insight into how she has lifted her emotions and struggles to God in the most painful moments. She is not looking back over her life from the perspective of being completely sorted out and free from temptation, but she is able to point to God’s faithfulness in bringing her to a deeper, richer intimacy with him. As she says:
‘Being free means that these temptations and longings have no authority over me. I can still have them and be free. It’s all about who I choose to turn to when I have them. I choose Jesus’ (p.113).
Amy also has a really helpful website called Longing for Intimacy with blog posts and videos.