Sexuality is defined as our capacity for sexual feelings. Most people experience this, although there are some people who identify as asexual because they do not experience sexual feelings. The most common use of the word sexuality, however, is to indicate sexual orientation or preference. Sexual orientations can include heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual and asexual.

Dr Mark Yarhouse, Professor of Psychology at Regent University, Virginia, notes that some people find it helpful to make a three-tier distinction between same-sex attraction, homosexual orientation and gay identity. Sexual identity development can be thought of in three broad stages: identity dilemma, identity development and identity synthesis. This can differ from person to person.

The Bible teaches us that we are all made in the image of God, and are therefore inherently and infinitely valuable. Being made in the image of God is not about our gender or sex or sexuality. We are all made in the image of God, regardless of our sexuality.

The key part of our identity is not our sexuality, it is that we are made in God’s image, longed for and loved by God. Our sexuality is still an important part of who we are, but how important again varies from person to person.

The following areas can indicate that things are not going as well for us as they could. There are lots of reasons why this might be the case, including uncertainty about our sexuality and its significance as part of our identity.

Changes in mood – feeling sadder, more anxious, or more irritable than usual

Changes in behaviour – being less talkative, becoming withdrawn or being more aggressive

Changes in relationships – falling out with friends or their partner, or conflict with family

Changes in appetite – eating more or less than usual, or losing or gaining weight rapidly

Changes in sleep patterns – not sleeping enough, or sleeping too much

Changes in coping – feeling overwhelmed or tired of life

Changes in thinking – more negative thoughts, or thoughts of self-harm or suicide

If you or a friend feels uncertain about your sexuality, or worried about how others might respond to your sexuality, it is worth seeking professional assistance. Psychologists are often able to help us explore how we think and feel by giving us the opportunity to clarify our own thinking. The path to professional assistance may start with a conversation with an older sibling or trusted peer, but should, where possible, include a conversation with a parent or trusted member of your community, which may include a teacher or school counsellor. In this conversation, you may wish to be general, indicating that you would like to speak with someone because you don’t feel quite right, or you may feel able to be specific.