The response to last month’s e-teaching, A Homosexual You Will Love, like the response to the previous month’s, I Love Homosexuals, and I’m Frustrated, was plentiful. Many folks shared their stories and insights. Many wrote to compassionately tell me that they were praying for “Jean Claude,” whose poignant story I shared in that e-teaching.
I also received a number of responses from good folks who cited first-hand examples of homosexual orientation that could not be attributed to any environmental cause (suggesting a biological cause). Others wrote who believe that homosexuality is the result of demonic oppression or possession, and that it can be cured by exorcism (although none cited any supportive Bible passages or personal success stories of delivering homosexuals through exorcism). A few wrote expressing blanket condemnations upon all homosexuals. And finally, some wrote to affirm that my amateur attempt to diagnose the roots of Jean Claude’s same-sex attraction wasn’t too far off track.
One of those affirmative responses was from a former homosexual man whom I will call “Roger.” His gracious email brought tears to my eyes, and I thought his words would be helpful for anyone who is trying to better understand (1) some of the possible roots of homosexuality, (2) the means of combatting same-sex attraction, and (3) the struggles that former homosexuals face integrating into the church and society. I think it will be worth your time to read what Roger shared below (I’ve italicized one section for emphasis):
I left the homosexual community over 13 years ago after I accepted Christ, and I wish I were able to say that the full Christian community completely embraced me and had the resources and ministry available around me during my struggle to overcome the addictions of homosexual lust, pornography and masturbation. However, that was not always the case. I often found myself isolated, misunderstood, rejected, ignored and expected to be “instantly free” by other Christians after my salvation and subsequent baptism in the Holy Spirit.
I found myself in a place where I chose to reject mainstream and local community churches as I turned to two or three godly saints who ministered to me as best they could and were faithful to always point me towards Christ. I found myself in a position where I had to…utilize secular and para-church organization resources to help me deal with something the people around me and the local churches were simply not equipped to handle. I experienced a great deal of bitterness and hurt towards many other Christians, even the ones who were desperately trying to minster to me, as well as local bodies as a result. But now, many years later, I can see much clearer that they were doing the best they could to minister the love of Christ to me, and I also grew to understand that bitterness, rejection, selfishness, self pity and pride are deeply rooted strongholds in homosexuals, former or otherwise.
13 years later, although not in the bondage of homosexuality, I still struggle with temptations of same sex attractions daily. This proclivity has never left. However, the power of it over me has been broken. After years and years of reinforcing same sex attraction through sexual experiences, lust, pornography and masturbation, my brain has deep neurogical connections for attractions to men.
I do not believe I was born this way. It is so clear to me how this developed in my own life as a “set up” through my strained relationship with my father, hostility with an older brother, and an overbearing and raging mother. However, I think most importantly, and the “point of this email” is that I believe for me the deepest scar and most important factor in my life was peer rejection.
I have learned and strongly believe that the root of my homosexuality was a deep seated inferiority of my own masculinity as a boy, a teen and adult, reinforced a million times by rejection from my male peers and as a result of my own perceptions of this inadequacy. I too suffered the horror of being called “faggot,” “sissy,” “girl,” all under the shadow of a very masculine and athletic older brother.
It is a struggle that continues to this day. I still find it extremely difficult to form male friendships because of my own “softness” for lack of a better word, because men do find it difficult to form relationships with “never married” 48 year old men who are unlike them and their lives in so many ways. It is only the true Christian godly man who understands his own sin, who has been broken before God by it, and who looks at me and sees himself. Not because he struggles with same sex attraction, but because he knows the true state of himself before a holy God and realizes he is no different. God has been good to me and given me a few godly men such as this in my life.
I can tell you that it has been the loneliest, most difficult road I could have never imagined when I walked out of the homosexual life into a born again life through Jesus Christ. I cannot tell you that if I had known how lonely, confusing, bewildering and frustrating it would be in the face of a world that now sees me as “aberrant” and glorifies practicing homosexuality as normalcy, that I would have made the decision. And the sad state of affairs is that the church is little better. There is so much ignorance, hate, hostility, and misunderstanding of this situation in the church.
Those of us who have been set free from homosexuality by Christ live in the shadows in our own Christian communities. Many people just aren’t sure that they want “ex gays” around their children. Some don’t really want to invite us over to their house for dinners, because they are just more comfortable with “families” or other “couples.” Invitations to special events and outings are rare. Pastors really don’t want us to testify about our deliverance, because they really don’t want “to put us in the position of revealing that in public.” The list just goes on and on.
However, on the other side of all that is Christ himself. I am truly glad I did not know how difficult it would be. Because, through it all, I have come to know Him. He has become my treasure. He has used my same sex attraction to show me my own wretched sin and through the ugliness of it all He has called me to Himself. He has taught me how to love Him, how to forgive others, how to cry out to Him, and how to be completely dependent on Him to deliver me out of not only homosexuality, pornography and masturbation, but I think more importantly, to give me a new heart so that I can be set free from the real giants in my life; bitterness, hardness, hatred, anger, slander, gossip, selfishness, self pity, pride and all other evil things of which only the Holy Spirit can give me light on and deliver me from. As I write this email..I see that I still have a long way to go.
As I read Roger’s letter, I found myself wishing that his testimony of freedom from homosexuality included freedom from homosexual temptation. But I had to remind myself that I am still tempted by sins that held me prior to coming to Christ.
I also found myself remembering, with regret, times in my childhood when I joined my peers in mocking an artistically-gifted, non-athletic classmate, calling him derogatory names like fag and homo. Today that man is homosexual. I wonder how much I contributed to his sexual identity.
Clearly, Roger identifies same-sex peer rejection as the primary cause for his former bondage to, and current struggles with, same-sex attraction. Deep inside, Roger is simply craving acceptance. (And who isn’t?) Roger repented, knowing that repentance is required for one to be accepted by the most important Person, namely, Jesus. His repentance, however, resulted in him being rejected by the homosexual community and by society at large. He refers to himself as “aberrant” in our culture, I assume because our culture now accepts both heterosexuals and homosexuals—but not former homosexuals who repented.
Tragically, however, a man who encountered rejection most of his life from family and peers, who coped with that rejection to some degree through sexual perversion, and who then suffered more rejection from the homosexual community and society as he sought God’s acceptance, then suffered additional rejection from “God’s people”! No wonder he wrote, “It has been the loneliest, most difficult road I could have never imagined when I walked out of the homosexual life into a born again life through Jesus Christ.”
If there is anything we can learn from Roger, it is that we ought to reach out with love and acceptance to homosexuals—without compromising God’s standards of holiness of course. If the homosexual world views the church as hateful and rejecting, it would seem there is little chance of them becoming interested in what we have to offer through the gospel. I tend to think that the homosexual world actually does generally see us as hateful and rejecting—and often for good reason.
And when homosexuals do turn to Jesus, they should be showered with love and acceptance. Thank God that Roger has found a few Christian men who have done that. But the picture he paints of the wider church lets us know that we have a lot of room for improvement.
Please allow me to say, once again, that I am not implying that the reason for all homosexual orientation is the same as Roger’s. Clearly, homosexual orientation is not always caused by a dysfunctional home environment or peer abuse. Good parents should not be condemning themselves.
One More Thing
In the Bible we learn that God makes some “hairy men” like Esau, and God makes some “smooth men,” like Jacob (see Gen. 27:11). Both men were men:
Esau “became a skillful hunter, a man of the field, but Jacob was a peaceful man, living in tents” (Gen. 25:27, emphasis added).
One can’t help but wonder if Jacob, had he lived in modern America, would have been labeled, branded, and then ended up facing the same struggles as Roger.
Let’s love and affirm the “smooth men” whom God makes. Let’s stop defining masculinity by a certain set of personality traits. Not all of us are football fanatics, have deer antlers hanging on our walls, or can only identify three species of flowers.
Jesus was a man, but He didn’t always fit the modern masculine mold. He never dated or married a woman, and He once said that some men “make themselves eunuchs of the kingdom of heaven’s sake” (Matt. 19:12). He wept publicly, something little boys are often told only sissies do (Luke 19:41; John 11:35). He spent time with children (Matt 18:19:13-14). He fixed breakfast (John 21:9-12). He washed other men’s feet (John 13:3-5). He apparently didn’t mind John reclining on His bosom during the Last Supper (John 13:21). One time He was overheard saying of the people of Jerusalem, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings” (Luke 13:34). Not exactly your typical modern male… — David