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Reparative Therapy

Posted on January 6, 2016 at 8:35 AM

A Long, Hard Road: How Reparative Therapy Saved My Life

Written By: Daniel Meir Horowitz [1]

(Posted May 2012)


There has been much ado in the Jewish media about the idea of Orthodoxy and homosexuality. I have decided to share my personal story for the purpose of letting others know that, despite what so many people claim to “know,” there are options and there is a way out of Same Sex Attraction (SSA).

I was raised in a modern-Orthodox, frum family. I clearly remember in 8th grade being among other boys discussing which girls in our class they had crushes on. At the time I had absolutely no attraction to women and, to avoid embarrassment, I blatantly lied and said that I did indeed have a crush on a certain female classmate. But inside I was tormented: “When will I feel these feelings like the other guys?” I asked myself. I kept hoping that someday I would just wake up and be “normal.” Unfortunately, that time never came. By 10th grade I had already come to the conclusion that something was wrong, and also admitted to myself that I was instead attracted to other boys in my class. I recall praying and crying to G-d to “take it away” and heal me. One summer I spent every day saying the entire book of Tehillim (Psalms) in the hope that I could earn enough merit to make my homosexuality go away. But it didn’t.

After graduation, I dutifully spent a year in an Israeli yeshiva. Being in a dormitory situation was a complete nightmare. I felt trapped in a prison that I could not escape, tempted by things that I could never act upon, dangled in front of me constantly. By the end of that year I was almost non-functional, and finally mustered up the courage to discuss my situation with the Rosh Yeshiva. I was sure that I would be summarily cast away and shamed, but felt I didn’t have a choice since I was suffering so much. I needed to talk to someone. Instead, I received compassion, advice, and a recommendation to see a local psychologist.

When I returned home at the end of the year, I began immediately seeing a religious psychologist to try to work through these issues while I stayed in yeshiva. Over the next seven years I cycled on and off seeing a total of three different psychologists and one psychiatrist, spending at least twenty thousand dollars. These were highly recommended professionals, some of whom are rather well known. They all assured me that they could help me with my SSA. Yet after all of my time and money, I accomplished absolutely nothing. I still was embroiled in attraction to other men, and felt no attraction to women. All of my friends were getting married and having children, while I just spun my wheels.

During those years I became depressed and hated my life. I often contemplated suicide. Multiple times while driving home from the therapist’s office, frustrated at our lack of progress, I would think: “Just turn the wheel a little to the left and slam into the divider on the freeway. No one will know it wasn’t just an accident.” I would have to consciously switch to the right lane so I could be sure I wouldn’t give in to the temptation. Part of me truly wanted to die, though, and I regularly wished that a car would hit me when I was crossing the street.

In utter desperation I began searching the Internet for possible alternative treatments. I was willing to try almost anything if I thought it would work. I discovered a weekend retreat for men struggling with SSA. After consulting with one of my rabbeim and my therapist, I signed up for the next available open slot, bought my plane tickets to Utah and set out. The retreat changed my life. I met other men who had struggled with SSA and had moved through it. I was taught about reparative therapy and that there was hope. Soon after that weekend I started seeing a licensed reparative therapist regularly, and within a year began to slowly see signs of progress. I don’t remember exactly when, perhaps 18-24 months into the therapy, but I was reading a magazine and an attractive woman in an ad caught my attention. I found myself staring at the photograph. Then it struck me: I was actually interested in looking at the woman! I felt such exhilaration at the experience. I had instinctually done what I never would have done before. Something had changed.

Anyone who says that working through homosexual desires and feelings is an easy, quick process is lying. It is a long, hard road with many challenges, pitfalls, and setbacks. But it is possible. I wish I could say there is a “cure” for SSA, but I believe there is no such thing. SSA is something I will struggle with for the rest of my life. But now, I am in control of it. It no longer tortures me. When I am diligent and follow the game-plan provided by those who understand reparative therapy, it fades to the faintest whisper in the background and therefore no longer controls me. And I am attracted to women, when I never was before.

Why was I so tortured? Why did it hurt so much? What drove me to become suicidal? Being a frum person with SSA felt like being trapped in a prison with no escape. If I have homosexual desires, urges to do what the Torah blatantly forbids, I have only three options:

 

A) To give in to those desires, and violate the Torah. Many have taken that path, often eventually abandoning all Torah observance. I truly believed, and believe, that G-d gave us the Torah, and so giving in to my desires was not an acceptable course of action for me.

 

B) To “white-knuckle,” to try to resist these temptations with sheer willpower and live a “normal” life despite them. This was an unbelievably depressing prospect. It meant getting married with no real desire for a woman. It meant having desires that could never be fulfilled. It meant being trapped in the closet all alone, suffering. (To say nothing of how wrong doing so would be to the woman I would have married.)

 

There were those who would tried to offer me a variant of this option: Accept myself as a homosexual and identify as gay, and stay single, all the while refraining from violating the Torah. While on the one hand, it sounded brave, I knew it to be a fallacy and an empty dream. Firstly, I would still have to suffer a lifetime of unfulfilled yearnings. The reality is, however, that despite firm initial convictions, every single person that I know who tried this, eventually succumbed and ended up violating the Torah. This always devolved back into option A.

 

C) To try and change the desires, or at least mitigate them until they become a mere nuisance. This seemed to be the only viable approach to me. And I tried for many years, floundering along through therapy, even taking extra jobs to pay for it. I remember thinking at one point: “What more can G-d possibly want from me? I’m doing everything I can!!” Yet, I persevered and eventually found a treatment that helped.

 

The reparative therapy approach is what led me to where I am.

There are those who will wish to silence me, and protest the publication of my story. They will describe reparative therapy as a sham. I can only say that I wish someone had told me about it earlier. There are no guarantees for any treatment of any illness. But I would rather have tried mightily and failed, than to have had someone stifle me by censoring those who would have given me options and hope.

Of course, no one should ever be forced into therapy if they don’t want it. And no one can experience any change unless they want to. No matter how supportive and well-meaning family and friends are, changing sexual orientation or growing out of SSA will not occur if the person does not wish to do it for himself and find the proper therapeutic approach that works for him. For those who choose to work through their SSA, there are several alternative paths for them to take. And, by doing so, they can lead truly fulfilled lives.

Even if after spending time (and money) with one therapist is found not to be helpful, that does not in any way mean that another won’t be helpful. If, G-d forbid, someone was diagnosed with cancer and a certain treatment wasn’t working, he wouldn’t give up. He would seek out another doctor with a different method, or try alternative medicines or modalities. I spent almost ten years trying different therapy methods, and eventually one worked for me. So if one doesn’t work for you, who knows? Some other treatment might.

I want to shout to all those plagued by SSA who wish they were not: Don’t give up. Please. Despite what you read and hear in our secular culture about the false idea that change is impossible, a ray of light might be just around the corner. Keep looking and know that the help you seek is out there. You only need to find it.

[1] This is a pseudonym. Certain other identifying details have been changed as well. I truly wish that I felt safe enough to use my actual name and identify myself. However, as someone still searching for his soul mate, I am keenly aware of how careful I must be to explain these details about me at the right time and in the proper context.

Letter to Mom and Dad

Posted on January 6, 2016 at 7:40 AM

A Letter to Mom and Dad Concerning Childhood Wounds

 

Author: Stephen

 

(Posted March 2011)

 

[Introduction by JONAH's Co-Director, Elaine Silodor Berk: This powerful and heartfelt letter was read by Stephen to his parents with great trepidation. In preparing to confront his parents about his childhood pain and subsequent same-sex attraction (SSA), Stephen experienced some physical and emotional difficulties. Nevertheless, his strength and courage enabled him to face his fears and explain to his parents where he was at and what he wanted. In that process, he was comforted and encouraged by JONAH's co-director, Arthur Goldberg. When he gave JONAH permission to print his letter, Stephen thanked Arthur for the help and encouragement Arthur had given him on his journey out of unwanted SSA and especially for Arthur's mentoring on how to approach his parents. He also commented that putting together the letter set forth below was "probably the hardest thing I'll ever do in my life."

 

Stephen's Dad was very stoic as the letter was read to him. But by the next morning, Dad had begun to internalize and recognize the importance of Stephen's efforts to tear down the walls of detachment that separated father and son. Stephen reported that Dad called him to express his deep sorrow about the past, indicating that Dad had truly heard what Stephen was expressing in his letter, and then - for the first time in Stephen's life - expressed an authentic emotion to Stephen. While asking Stephen for forgiveness, Dad's sadness became evident. He cried as he said, "I'm so sorry I treated you this way, and I'll spend the rest of my life trying to make it up to you."

 

Thankfully, the vow of Stephen's Dad to forge a better relationship with his son in whatever form it needs to take, has, to date, been most encouraging and father and son are intensely working together to overcome their mutual past detachment from each other.]

 

March 10, 2010

 

Dear Mom and Dad,

 

I have written a letter that I need to read to you as it is important for me to tell you about my struggles in life. I believe you may be unaware of some of them. I needed to write this out so I can present it to you in a somewhat organized way.

 

Please know that I anticipate this being the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and very well may be the hardest thing you’ve ever had to hear and deal with. I fully expect that you will experience a range of emotions as I read this; you may be sad, angry, or fearful about hearing what I have to say. While I welcome any emotions you need to express, I need to make it clear that I want you both to listen to this entire letter before you actually say anything or attempt to respond. Do I have your word that you will remain quiet and listen until I have finished reading everything I have written?

 

Dad: this letter is primarily written to you. I know that I have recently expressed to you the deep depression I experienced as a young child and as a teenager; I understand that you have apologized for not recognizing these experiences. However, I believe that you don’t fully understand all that I felt and the depth of my pain. To put it simply and bluntly, starting at age 7, I spent just about every day of my life feeling a depth of sadness that I can only compare to what a person feels when they attend a funeral of someone they loved very much. I was desperate to be understood, specifically from the person who was supposed to be my male role model. I needed to know that you were there for me emotionally, something I regrettably never felt.

 

While I don’t remember exactly how much I cried growing up, I do remember fighting back tears just about every moment of my young life. Whenever those tears flowed, it was simply because I could not bottle them up any longer. My sadness needed to be released.

 

There is an instance that you may not even remember, but it was a very significant moment in my life. It was a turning point, a moment in which I completely stopped trusting you to be there for me in my emotional anguish. You were driving, your mother was sitting next to you, I was in the back seat sitting behind you and Graham was to my right. We were on our way to one of his baseball games, and it was a particularly hard day for me. I simply could not hold my tears back and they were slowly rolling down my face. I remember you looking at me in the rear-view mirror and very coldly and flatly saying “quit crying you little pussy.” You might as well have taken a knife and stabbed me in the gut, because at that very moment a huge part of me died inside. I felt totally emasculated and worthless. I now realize that as a defensive action to avoid such pain in the future, I built up a protective wall around my soul, vowing to never let you hurt me like that again with your words.

 

Sadly, by numbing myself to your words, every nice thing you have ever said to me since that day has had no effect on me. Over time, my lack of trust for you and my own emotional numbness prevented me from going to you with things I should’ve been able to come to you about: being taunted by the other guys at school, having them spit on me in class, becoming the laughingstock of gym class, and being called pussy, queer, and fag on a pretty much daily basis. Further, it was really infuriating to me that you didn’t seem to even notice that something was drastically wrong with me and my life. As an example, you got two calls from school about my threat to commit suicide. Yet we never talked about it. Other examples: I slept every moment I possibly could, often 12+ hours per day, and I ballooned to 225 pounds using food to try to escape from my pathetic existence. Why didn’t you notice these cries for help? Or, if you did indeed notice them, why didn’t you communicate your concern to me? To be fair, you were always there for me by providing for my physical needs without any reservation whatsoever. However, you were completely unavailable emotionally! I needed that kind of support the most, and I found its absence to be exceedingly painful.

 

Ever since my teenage years I have hoped and prayed that I could carry these hurts to my grave and would not have to discuss them with you. However, I now realize I must tell you and at the same time forgive you for your shortcomings. By informing and forgiving you, it will free me to complete my own healing journey. I know that if I hold onto these hurts, the negativity inherent in harboring such resentments will continue to weigh me down and prevent me from moving on with a normal life.

 

Because I wasn’t able to connect with you or with male peers at school, it was much easier for me to connect with mom and with girls. When puberty hit, this desperate unmet need to connect with males led to an envy of other males. And, in turn, this envy became sexualized. The result of these unmet needs were set against my moral compass and in turn led to an internal conflict. I have been fighting a war within me to overcome homosexual feelings since adolescence.

 

I carried this burden all alone until just four months ago, when I found the courage to tell my therapist in Chicago what I was dealing with. He was not helpful as he encouraged me to come out as “gay” and to fully embrace homosexual fantasies and ultimately homosexual activity. To him, this is who I was. This advice was completely contrary to my values and everything I want out of life. Many teenagers and young adults with same-sex attractions similar to mine attempt to overcome their isolation and shame by connecting sexually with others of their own gender. I’m proud to say that, to the contrary, I have successfully resisted strong urges to have any kind of sexual relationship with other men. I’m still totally pure sexually, never so much as kissing another person as long as I’ve lived. Even though I know this news is shocking and disappointing, I hope you are proud of my resolve to maintain my purity.

 

The thing that I really resent, and need to forgive, is that you were the one person that could have prevented these problems from the get-go. If you helped me learn how to trust men rather than envy them, and if you were there for me emotionally, I believe I would not now be struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions. It was your job to recognize what was going on within me as your little seven year old boy, your duty to find out what was wrong with me, and to take steps to make it better. It was your job to build up my masculinity, to enable me to trust rather than distrust men and to find things we could do together that would affirm me in my manhood and bring us closer together. Without these efforts, the net effect was my envy of other men and my sexualizing of that envy. Your apparent delegation of hard stuff to Mom --such as telling me about sex, taking me to the doctor when I needed help to get me through mental illness, and moving me into my college dorm -- also contributed to my reduced sense of masculinity and lack of closeness to you.

 

Most of all and what was most distressing, however, was the environment you created --- an environment where it became absolutely impossible for me to seek your help to overcome my homosexual feelings. I’d like to remind you of some of the things you have said over the years:

 

1. As a young boy, I remember sitting in a restaurant with you and Graham. Mom was out of town on a business trip. You said to both of us, “if I ever find out either one of you is homosexual, I will put you out of the house.”

 

2. While watching male figure skaters on TV, you were laughing and mocking them, saying “I bet their dads are really proud to have them as sons.”

 

3. You expressed a personal conviction that frightened me: “Having a queer son would be more than I can bear.”

 

4. While helping you clean out filthy trash containers, you colorfully explained that you believe “the only things that are worse than maggots are faggots.”

 

Actually, I don’t remember once since adolescence being in the same room with you for more than an hour when you didn’t have a demeaning joke or say something nasty about homosexuals. Naturally, I took all of these things personally. In fact, every time you have ever said “I love you” or “I’m proud of you” I would add the phrase within my own mind, “Not if you knew about my problem.”

 

I know I am far from perfect, Dad, and that I have a lot of work to do. But I can proudly say that I have done the very best that I could with the life and circumstances the Lord gave me. I have worked hard, done well in school, earned a great job, and am self-sufficient financially. I’ve maintained my sexual purity throughout the darkest times of my life, even when it would have been so easy to give in—as our culture constantly preaches. I’m active in my church and doing the best I can to build authentic and healthy relationships with men—relationships I needed all along. I am breaking down the barrier of distrust toward other men, a distrust that began in early childhood when you flatly stated that I was a pussy for crying out of my intense pain and telling me that I should stop it.

 

One thing I must insist upon. I will no longer tolerate the innumerable demeaning and incessant jokes about homosexuals. These are men and women who are in pain, just like I am. The difference is that I have the courage to do the necessary work to overcome this emotional adaptation. However, making such comments hurts me as well. This “request” is simply non-negotiable. If you do not stop, we will be unable to have any sort of relationship. For me to continue my progress at overcoming these unwanted attractions while hearing cutting remarks from you about the condition I wish to change makes me feel like my hard work is being completely undermined. I cannot tolerate that.

 

I do want to say that despite your shortcomings, there are some things that you did exceptionally well, especially given your own upbringing and family circumstances. You were a great provider for my physical needs and I never went without in that sense. I am very grateful for that. However, the level of emotional abandonment I perceived while growing up, especially given my intense and prolonged ordeal with mental illness, has created a nightmare I have struggled for years to overcome. Thankfully, I have now found supportive people that have also sought out and achieved change of sexual orientation and have stabilized their own emotions in a healthy way. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

 

I’d like to think that we can mend our relationship and that you could be a help to me in my journey toward becoming a new man. However, this choice is totally up to you and I am prepared to move on with my life in the direction of healing regardless of your decision.

Mom: I do not want to complete this letter without addressing you. First and foremost, I want to thank you for your sincerity and kindness in being there and trying to bridge the gaps that Dad did not fill. You did the best you could, but the fact is you were not and cannot be a substitute for the male guidance and support I needed and will continue to need as an adult. We are too enmeshed. What I need from you now is a clear separation and recognition that I am no longer a little boy. You can no longer protect me and fight my battles for me. I need these boundaries in our relationship so that I am able to grow into the fullness of my masculinity. I am a grown man now and am fully capable of taking care of myself with the help of God and other men in my community. While my love for you remains undiminished, we must create new boundaries, new ways of dealing with each other. This may look like, for example, long stretches of time when we will not talk. I need you to know that “no news is good news.” Please understand that I don’t love you any less than I ever have. My love for you is deep. However, I need some space to be a man to my full potential.

 

 

I hope I have been clear in expressing myself. I thank both of you for not speaking while I read this letter and I am now ready to discuss any of these issues with you.

 

With all my love,

 

Your son,

 

Stephen

I THINK I AM GAY

Posted on January 6, 2016 at 7:00 AM

 

I THINK I AM GAY: A Parent's Response

Written By: Tim Geiger

(Posted Nov. 2012)

[This essay was written by Tim Geiger, a person formerly experiencing same-sex attraction (SSA), who serves as Director of the Harvest USA office in Pittsburgh. Tim's thoughtful article provides guidance to a parent about how to respond with grace and love to someone who declares, "I believe I am a homosexual." This essay initially appeared in the OnebyOne Newsletter in May, 2012; their Chairman, Rev. Jeff Winter, graciously gave JONAH permission to adapt it.]

I think I'm gay." Abraham's and Sarah's hearts stopped for an instant and everything around them seemed to stand still. It was like the shock of hearing that someone close to you has suddenly died. Now, as they hear these unexpected words from their oldest son, Mark, 20-years-old and home from college on spring break, Abe and Sarah wonder if this is also a death of another kind -death of their hopes and dreams for Mark and the death of their own desires for a "normal" life of family and grandchildren.

After the initial shock, all sorts of questions flooded their minds. Was this something they were responsible for? What will this mean for their two younger children? Will they be gay, too? Will Mark ever change? How will they deal with Mark's "friend" (though there was no "friend" at this point) if he wanted to spend the holidays with them? What would the other members of their congregation say? Worse yet - what would they think - about Mark and about them, as parents? They wanted to ask their son questions. They wanted to tell him they loved him. Yet all they felt they could do was try to process the information they already had, "I think I'm gay."

So what do you do when you hear those words...or find gay pornography on your child's computer or phone? How would you respond if you were the parents? How would you help a friend or someone in your congregation or community respond if they were in this situation? There are no easy answers, but there are a few strategies to keep in mind that may help you, your child, or the friends you are trying to help, through the difficult initial days or weeks of hearing this news and trying to understand it.

You don't need to know all the answers.

Don't feel as though you need to have all the answers, or even know all the questions to ask, right at the beginning. It's okay to tell your child after his or her initial disclosure, "This is a lot to think about and take in. I need some time to think over what you've said. I'd like to sit down with you to talk about this in more depth later - after I've had some time to calm down and reflect." Your child was in charge of the initial disclosure, and he has probably been thinking about what he would say on this day for many weeks, months or even years. So, you don't have to quickly respond. Don't be rushed. Go at your own speed.

Affirm your love for your child.

No matter what ultimately happens, no matter what you son or daughter says, feels or does, he or she is still your child. Express your love for her. Promise her that there's nothing that would ever cause you to withhold that love. This may be difficult to do, but the most important way that parents can help their child who has adopted a gay identity is to keep the lines of relationship open. Your child's behavior is not rebellion against you, although, if there is anger in her declaration, you will most likely be the prime recipient of that anger. Maintaining love and contact with your child is the best way to be faithful to God's commandments and to remain a presence in your child's life.

Ask your child what does he mean by saying he is gay.

Don't take for granted that your child's understanding of the terms he uses to describe himself is the same as yours. Ask your child how he came to this conclusion, how long he has been thinking about it, and how certain he feels it is true. Is he dealing solely with feelings or is he also dealing with behavior and/or identity issues?

You may find that your child isn't so much making a statement about his identity as it is his assessment of a situation in which he perceives himself as helpless. "I've been struggling with these feelings for years-and the only reasonable conclusion I can draw is that I must be gay." Saying you're gay and saying you've been wrestling with feelings you don't understand and don't want are two completely different things. This is an important point to clarify with him.

You don't need to know details about your child's sexual activity.

If your son or daughter is over 18, this information is often not helpful for a parent to know, and may serve only to separate parent (who may experience additional shock) from child (who may experience guilt and shame over revealing such personal details to her parent[s]). It is okay to ask general questions, "Are you in a relationship? With whom? Who else knows?"

If your child is under 18, then it is important to ascertain some level of detail about his or her behavior. "Is what you feel limited to fantasy and masturbation? Is pornography involved? Have you had sexual contact with anyone?" Keep in mind that asking these kinds of questions can be difficult for you, as a parent, to ask, and for your child to hear. Here it may be wise to enlist the services of a good counselor, one who can help you learn how to talk to your child on these sensitive matters, and who might better relate to your child. There are many counselors who are not only professionally trained in gender affirming processes but have had the added benefit of overcoming his/her own SSA issues. Don't be afraid to check around to find the right kind of counselor, one whose values and beliefs are consistent with yours as too many counselors have bought into the unfounded notion that homosexuality is innate and unchangeable.

Also in the case of a minor, it is important to assess the situation and determine if laws have been broken, and if your child is at risk from a predator, either in person or online. It is also essential to determine if sexual abuse has occurred and if so, to report this to law enforcement as quickly as possible. Talk to a counselor or rabbi or member of the clergy who is familiar with your state's laws about child sexual abuse to determine how to proceed.

Ask your child if he is content to be gay, or if he wants to change.

Some children will quickly state they're happy--and if your child does, you likely won't be able to convince him otherwise. Others, though, may report years of angst, guilt and shame over their feelings and behavior and will express either some desire to change or wonder if that is even possible. If so, enter into that struggle by sensitively talking to him, Again, it may be helpful to have your child talk with a qualified counselor who both affirms what the Bible says about holiness and sexuality and has the ability to relate well to youth.

You can't change your child.

You are not the one who is going to change your child. No matter how badly you might want to see change in your son's or daughter's life, no matter how much you pray, no matter how convincing your argument, you won't be able to convince your child to change if he or she is convinced this is "who they are."

Only through a transformation of his/her feelings, behavior, and identity will the change that is needed actually occur. God wants to do business with your child's heart - he/she has adopted or is struggling with a gay identity because, at some level, he/she has believed lies about God, self, and others. His/her perceptions have been colored---often by deep emotional wounds from childhood. He/she has come to believe what the world currently believes about life, sexuality, purpose, God, etc., instead of viewing life authentically through the lens of the Bible and commentaries.

On the other hand, what you can be is an agent of change in your child's life. Such change is likely to come about within the context of community - through your relationship with your son or daughter, or through his or her relationship with another mature, compassionate human being. Often, God can change your son's or daughter's heart but a human agent is likely necessary to give him/her the tools required to complete the change.

Your child doesn't need to become straight

What your child needs is what God calls everyone to, and that is a life of faith and repentance (teshuvah). Having heterosexual sex will not solve your child's problem. There is more to this issue than sexuality. The ethical opposite of homosexuality is not being straight - it is living by God's commandments in a lifestyle of faith and repentance. Godly sexuality is about holiness (Lev. 19:1); it is about living life according to God's design.

 

You can't do anything to control your child's struggle or repentance.You may have influence but no longer have "control." You can, however, respond to what the Lord is calling you to do in terms of your own faith, obedience and repentance in life as you struggle with these issues in your own family.

Bring others in.

No matter how strong your faith, you can't deal with this on your own. Isolation is a death-knell. Seek out trusted and spiritually mature friends, family members, congregation members and clergy to help you both interpret the events in your family from a biblical perspective and to help you respond in a holy and God-glorifying way in response to your child's decisions. God often ministers to His people through the context of community. Don't let your fears get in the way of faith. Consider helping others who are suffering or are in pain over sexuality issues within their family.

What about setting boundaries in my relationship with my child?

It may be appropriate to set some boundaries in your relationship with your child if she persists in her behaviors. Those boundaries will be unique for each family and will often change as needs and circumstances dictate. A ground rule for boundaries, however, is that they should exist to protect your family and to protect your child. Boundaries should never be punitive or manipulative.

How can I help my child?

Pray. Pray for wisdom, pray for faith, pray for strength to reflect the love of God to your child. Keep the lines of communication open with your child. Make sure your child knows that he can always come to you. At the same time, give him space to make his own decisions. Respect those decisions, but don't necessarily agree with or condone them. Let your child realize the natural consequences of his behavior. If your child makes decisions to pursue self-destructive or otherwise sinful behavior, communicate the sinfulness of that decision and your disappointment - but never withhold your love.

Finding yourself in a situation where your son or daughter is struggling with unbelief and sin in particularly hurtful ways is truly difficult. Rest assured that God is there to comfort you and to provide you with the "chisuk" (strength) necessary to get you through this difficult time. He is at work in all things---especially the hard ones---for the good of those who live according to His purpose. He hasn't forgotten you. To the contrary, He is the only One capable of helping you to grow in faith and hope in the midst of a dark and difficult time. Believe that He can! He is there for you.

Press Release by Homosexuals Anonymous regarding JONAH

Posted on January 6, 2016 at 4:50 AM

In an outrageous political maneuver to support the LGBT lobby and push the current US Government's global campaign to force acceptance of unhealthy sexual practices, a New Jersey judge has ordered JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing) to cease operation and liquidate all its assets. JONAH, a religious non-profit, was a long-standing international organization offering therapy to reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions to allow individuals to live in harmony with Talmudic theology. During the trial, the judge heard from six individuals who were dissatisfied with their therapy results while refusing to hear testimony from defense witnesses on success stories. JONAH's witnesses and arguments were blocked by the judge in his pre-trial decisions, leaving JONAH defenseless throughout the trial. The judge's excuse for instituting this bias was that the witnesses approached the matter of same-sex attractions from a perspective of being disordered when the political policy wing of some major US medical associations do not consider homosexuality disordered. After blocking JONAH from being allowed to provide any evidence of success, the court then ruled they violated the Consumer Fraud Act by promising something they could not succeed at doing. The judge further ruled in his pre-trial decision that JONAH could not use their inalienable right to the 1st Amendment of free speech and religious practice to justify their view of homosexuality as disordered. Although JONAH has ceased operations as ordered, they have announced their intention to file articles of incorporation as a new organization and continue their work aiding those suffering desperately from unwanted same-sex attractions.

 

Homosexuals Anonymous applauds the work of JONAH and intends to continue to fully support them. Only sufferers of unwanted same-sex attractions fully understand the difficulties of our struggle. The LGBT lobby's desperate desire for forced acceptance by attempting to silence the success stories of those who have left the lifestyle will never succeed as long as strugglers continue to succeed at leaving the homosexual lifestyle and its comorbid medical and psychological problems behind. Homosexuals Anonymous will also continue to support the right to patient self-determination, the religious rights of those seeking to live in accord with their faith and the right of free speech on the subject of exploring, researching and practicing change in sexual attractions.

 

Let this judgement stand today as a dark mark against freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the freedom of individual patient's rights to self-determination. Let it also stand as a testimony to the insecurity and insincerity of the gay community that they cannot abide the truth to be known and live in harmony with individual decisions about one's own sexuality.

 

Robert Gollwitzer

Managing Director

 

John O.

Advisory Board

Why SSA Became a Blessing in Disguise

Posted on January 5, 2016 at 5:55 PM

 

Written By: "S"

(Posted Dec. 2014 )

For me, SSA (same-sex attraction) is a blessing in one hell of a disguise. Every single day between the ages of 13 and 23, I would think and despair endlessly about the impossible struggle I was in, being attracted to other men. Ten years alone, keeping this heavy, shameful secret from every single person in my life. It hurt a lot, for a very long time, in a very deep place.

In October 2013, I attended the Journey into Manhood (JiM) workshop in Israel and had the most wonderfully powerful experience of my life. I haven’t been the same since. While SSA was definitely the primary motive behind my decision to attend the workshop and begin therapy, I have realized that the underlying issues, as well as the significant changes I have created in my life since the workshop, span a spectrum far broader than sexuality alone.

Over the past year since the workshop, I have worked hard at gaining awareness and authenticity within myself, and pursued activities and relationships that provide a platform for personal empowerment. I am proud to say that my achievements in these areas have brought about significant growth in my life:

* I no longer live with the burden of harboring a secret. I am who I am, where I am, and I’m OK with that, which is an incredible feeling.

* I have learned to process the attraction I feel toward other men, identify my underlying desires and needs, and meet them in ways that are not sexual, thus diminishing the sexual aspect of the attraction.

* I have processed and shattered negative beliefs about myself, such as the belief that I am “less than” certain other men.

* I found the courage to share my SSA with my parents following the JiM workshop, which has enabled me to have a more open, deep and healthy relationship with them.

* After literally a decade of dealing with a harmful pornography addiction, I have been 100% “clean” since the JiM workshop a year ago (and my smartphone doesn’t have a filter).

* I have bonded authentically with other guys, and today I own the feeling of being a good man among men.

* Perhaps most excitingly for me, this past winter I fell head over heels, emotionally and physically, for a fantastic girl. I told her about my feelings for her, and later, about my SSA. I proved to myself that what I had perceived to be impossible is, in fact, possible.

This is not to say that my journey is easy or devoid of setbacks and pitfalls. Far from it. Like all people, I go through horrible days and hard times, when the prospect looks bleak and the journey impossible. Fortunately, these times are few and far between, and I have solid friends, brothers and mentors who help me pull through (as I do for them).

I am not on this journey because of religious, political or social beliefs alone. I would readily swear on a stack of bibles that this therapy has huge, undeniably beneficial effects on many different areas across my life, with the reduction of my attraction to other men and the increase of my attraction to women being very significant among them.​​

You Are Not a Homosexual!

Posted on January 5, 2016 at 5:50 PM

 

(Posted 2003)

(This article has been adapted for JONAH with the permission of Alan Medinger. Alan was active homosexually for many years and is now married with children and grandchildren.)

 

I believe that the subject of this article is going to become increasingly important in coming years. If it does, enormous changes lie ahead for all who deal with homosexuality from a societal, pastoral or personal perspective. What is offered here will be a brief look at a deep and complex subject. The focus of this article is an explanation that homosexuality is not an authentic identity. In addition to helping the homosexual struggler see who he or she truly is, my hope is that this article will also help the community-at-large to see how homosexuality is being deliberately normalized through making homosexuality an identity, and that people will consider the societal effects of this normalization."

 

You are not a homosexual!

 

The March issue of First Things Journal offered a series of articles on homosexuality. In line with the magazine's focus, the various authors dealt with homosexuality from an historic Judeo-Christian perspective. The articles provoked considerable correspondence from readers, and in one letter, published in the June/July issue, a writer-in challenged some of the author's conclusions stating:

 

"...I have come to the conclusion that the primary issue is the authenticity of their claim concerning their personal identity. Whatever the reason for their sexual condition, the nature and scope of their relationships are governed by their being homosexually oriented..."

 

The issue addressed by the writer is how to address homosexuality and the homosexual person and whether or not being a homosexual is an authentic identity. He seems to assume it is as he goes on to state that their relationships are, in fact, governed by their being homosexual. He assumes that being a homosexual is something you are rather than something you do.

 

But what if homosexuality were not a legitimate identity? What if homosexuality is in fact an artificial category of person created for some purpose? By implication, and I believe by logic, we would not then have any reason to make special accommodations for "homosexual persons." Social and moral standards would be the same for them as for anyone else. The individual, then, could no longer call him or herself a homosexual person, but simply a man or woman with a certain set of problems regarding romantic and sexual attraction, self-esteem, ability to relate to the opposite sex, etc.

 

The idea that there is no such thing as a homosexual person has been surfacing with increasing frequency in the past few years in the secular world. In ex-gay ministries we have long urged people not to define themselves by their particular sins or forms of sexual brokenness. For example, people do not identify themselves as adulterers or as sexually active heterosexuals. Letting go of the alleged homosexual identity, and acknowledging that God created us male and female has been seen as an early step in the healing process. We have done this while still acknowledging that we do have distinct problems with our sexual attractions and sexual identity.

 

We would hope that people see the world both as it is and with an eye to how it should be according to the plans of the One who created it. The secular or scientific person tries to view the world - though often unsuccessfully - as it is. Secularists who are challenging the concept of "a homosexual person" are doing so from the perspective of history, anthropology, sociology, logic and other academic disciplines - without making qualitative or moral judgments. Let's look at what they are saying:

 

1. The concept of a homosexual person is quite recent. The word "homosexual" was a Nineteenth Century innovation. For millennia mankind recognized homosexual behavior, but saw it as just that - a behavior engaged in by some people. And although some people were clearly observed as engaging in frequent and/or exclusive homosexual behavior, no need was found to see these people as different beings, rather than as individuals with a different behavior pattern.

 

 

This is a key thought in David F. Greenberg's massive study: The Construction of Homosexuality. Studying almost every significant culture from the beginning of recorded history to the present, Dr. Greenberg examines how homosexual behavior was expressed and how each society dealt with it. In almost every culture he found a form of homosexual behavior being practiced, but in light of the enormous variations in its practice, from being an accepted part of male adolescence in New Guinea to being a means of degrading and humiliating a defeated enemy in ancient Greece or Persia, he challenges the idea that homosexuality should be seen as a "biological given, constant in different periods of history and in different societies" (page 484). He urges a greater emphasis on understanding that homosexuality is a behavior which is profoundly influenced by the overall social organization of the culture.

 

2. Being a homosexual defies definition and when used has a circularity of definition. I was introduced to this concept by a psychiatrist who addressed the recent conference of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) held in Philadelphia. Dr. Uriel Meshoulam pointed to the circular thinking that exists around the concept of a homosexual person: Although not his exact words, he said that in common parlance:

 

- We define a homosexual person as a person who is sexually attracted to members of the same sex.

- Then we say that a person is sexually attracted to people of the same sex because he or she is a homosexual.

 

At this point we have said nothing. This is similar to my experience when I went to an ophthalmologist because I had a chronic bloodshot eye. He carefully examined my eye and told me I had conjunctivitis. I asked what that meant, and he said, "It means your eye is bloodshot." How did this help clarify my condition?

 

Bell and Weinberg, in their study of modern day homosexuals for the Kinsey Institute, chose to title their book Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women, using the plural because of the tremendous variations they found among homosexual men and women. With large scale surveys, they sought to define the homosexual man and woman, but found they could not do it; individuals differed too greatly.

 

Gay leaders, when they are seeking general acceptance from the larger society, deny that anything but sexual attractions set them apart from their neighbors. (However, it needs to be recognized that when they are seeking special privileges or when seeking to boost their community's self-esteem, they will focus on how different they are.)

 

If we could say that a homosexual person is a person whose body carries a such and such gene, or who has an abnormally large amount of a certain hormone, or who is genetically different from the norm, we could legitimately say that this is a certain type of person. But try as they might, gay researchers and others have yet to come up with a generally accepted physically measurable characteristic that identifies a person as a homosexual.

 

Absent a causative factor, in declaring someone to be a homosexual person, we are back to the circular thinking; we are giving a name to their attractions; we have not defined the person.

 

3. Dividing the world between heterosexual and homosexual is artificial and arbitrary. With the invention of the word homosexual to define people who are sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex, we had to start to use the word heterosexual to define people who are sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex. That everyone is either heterosexual or homosexual (with a few bisexuals thrown in) is rooted in our thinking. Viewing mankind in this sense, probably does more than anything else to reinforce the concept of a homosexual person. But this is totally arbitrary.

 

In no other way do we divide up mankind by the sexual preferences of individuals. Forgive my creating my own words where there are none, but we do not divide up the world into pedophiles and adultophiles or into necrophiliacs (people who desire sex with a dead person) and liveophiliacs. It is undeniable that a small proportion of people in our community are attracted to children, a small proportion want to have sex with dead people and two or three percent prefer sex with people of their own sex. But why on the basis of just this one preference, do we divide mankind?

 

4. Identification of one's self as gay is a choice, not an knowledgment of a fact. A study has shown that the average time between when a person started to recognize that he or she felt homosexual attractions and the time he or she identified himself or herself as homosexual is about six years. For me it was many more than six. We would have to assume that before the Nineteenth Century people went through their whole lives sexually attracted to their same sex, but not identifying themselves as homosexuals.

 

The identification is a defensive measure taken to legitimize feelings and behavior. It is fostered and encouraged by feelings of low self-esteem and victimhood. This is not surprising as many of us see low self-esteem as a root of homosexuality, and in fact, homosexual women and men, particularly since they grow up feeling "different," and often are treated as if they are different, do have some legitimate right to victim status.

 

The formation of the gay sub-culture and its associated political movement over the past 25 years, has been largely an effort to give an identity to people who feel homosexual attractions. It is, in essence, a political movement, and its leaders have done what demagogues have always done: expand their power and influence by convincing their followers to identify more and more strongly with their group.

 

An "us-them" attitude, a powerful sense of victimhood, a sense of superiority, all empower the gay movement, and expand the concept of being a homosexual person to the point that to think in other terms, or to view the world from another perspective, becomes almost impossible.

 

The extremes to which this identification can go is evidenced by the incredible number of gay organizations that exist in most large cities. In a city the size of Baltimore there are more than 50 "gay" organizations. You can join the gay doctors or lawyers association, take part in a gay volleyball league, be a part of a group of gay Quakers, or even join the gay Republicans group. Jewish sub-groups are just as profuse, e.g., there are E-mail groups entitled Orthodykes or Frum GLBT or Gay Jews. So much have people with homosexual attractions chosen to identify themselves according to these attractions that using the words of the letter writer at the beginning of this article, "the nature and scope of their relationships" become overwhelmingly influenced by their gay identify. However, we need to recognize that this is a choice. This is not inevitable!

 

If the concept of the homosexual person is indeed arbitrary or fundamentally inaccurate, we need to ask how can this understanding help the man or woman seeking to overcome his or her homosexual feelings and behavior?

 

First, it is critical to recognize that going down this road is not taking us into denial. It is a fact that some of us, from an early age, more or less involuntarily, found ourselves sexually and/or romantically attracted to people of the same sex, and not to people of the opposite sex.

 

But with that given, I suggest that we set out on a course to try and change our own thinking. This will be extremely difficult because it requires us to change fundamental points of reference through which we have tried to view reality. If we don't change them, however, our childhood defensive reactions will continue to limit our growth into full manhood or womanhood. I suggest that we see it as a process, one in which, step by step, we back off from our identity as a homosexual person. Here are some steps you might take:

 

 

1. Start to distinguish between gay and homosexual. Dr. Joseph Nicolosi in his book, Reparative Therapy for Male Homosexuality, discusses "non-gay homosexuals," those who have homosexual feelings but choose not to identify themselves with the gay movement.

 

2. In your own thinking try to consciously abandon the division of mankind between heterosexual and homosexual. Start by looking at the enormous differences there are in the tastes, talents, desires - even sexual desires - of people with homosexual attractions. They are not a single group.

 

3. Start to focus on what clearly makes a man or woman: voice, stature, genitals, facial hair, etc. Remember that every chromosome in your body says that you are a man or woman. Nothing in your body that we know of says you are a homosexual.

 

4. Carefully and precisely list the problems that hinder your functioning as a man or woman in accordance with God's apparent plan for you. These might include:

 

· A desire for sex with other men (women)

· A lack of attraction to the opposite sex

· (Men) Feelings of inadequacy around other men

· (Women) Distrust of men

· Compulsive masturbation

· A longing to be held by a person of the same sex

· A desire to control or be controlled by others

 

These or others like them are your problems; your problem is not that you are a homosexual. Each person's list will be different. Each list will include some things that can be dealt with directly, and others that will be dealt with indirectly as a part of your journey to spiritual and emotional wholeness.

 

The concept of being a homosexual fosters hopelessness. You would ask, how can I change who I am? Maybe that's not who you are. True, you do have some special problems, but through the power of God and an understanding of the root causes of your emotionally-based condition, you can overcome them.

Homosexual Pornography

Posted on January 5, 2016 at 5:30 PM

 

A Letter on Homosexual Pornography - excerpted from "The Treatment of Sexual Orientation"

Written By: Dror Zandman, Clinical Psychologist

(Posted March 2012)

[ NOTE from the JONAH Directors: This letter was written by "R.L.", a former client of Israeli Psychologist Dror Zandman, and was written in two parts, one immediately prior to R.L's marriage and the second part 5 months after his marriage. It was written to encourage men dealing with unwanted SSA. This letter is part of a soon-to-be-published book in Hebrew by Israeli Psychologist, Dror Zandman, entitled: “The Treatment of Sexual Orientation”.]

My Dear Friend,

I am writing this letter a few hours before my chupah [wedding canopy & ceremony].I want to tell you about what I’ve been through in these past 10 years. I know that you are suffering great pain and are going through many crises growing up. Life feels much harder for you than it seems to be for most of your friends. You are constantly fighting your sexual feelings; you are attracted to men, but you are also religious. You live with a tremendous inner contradiction. You struggle desperately between wanting to satisfy your “natural” desires, and your emunah [faith] in the Ribono shel Olam [Master of the Universe], who seems to be cruelly torturing you by having placed you in the position in which you find yourself.

I know exactly how you feel.

I have been dealing with this exact problem since my early adolescence; from the time when I was 12 years old. I “always” knew that I was different. I wasn’t attracted to girls. (not that there were many girls around - I studied in various national religious schools where for many good reasons, the sexes are kept separate). I was attracted to men. I found men to be very sexually exciting, and I felt like I just had to find a man who I could lean on, who would protect me.

I spent years looking at magazines and then on the Internet searching for more and more pictures of sexy men. Naked men. More recently, in high school, I “graduated” to spending hours with homosexual pornography. Many, many hours. And all the time, my emunah [faith] in the Ribono shel Olam grew stronger and more profound, and I believed, deep in my heart, that He created me just as I am, with a goal and a purpose in this world.

I knew perfectly well that homosexuality is not compatible with the Torah, and that the “gay” lifestyle is deeply, and diametrically, opposed to the Jewish vision of life. The homosexual lifestyle consecrates the material world, it worships the bodily passions, and it destroys the most important basis of Jewish life - the family. Relationships between men, as wonderful as they can ever be (also between straight men, by the way), can’t even begin to approach in any way the deep connection between a man and a woman. G-d created the world in such a way that every man is missing something; a man needs a woman, and a woman needs a man. There is no other way to realize our potential or to achieve real satisfaction in any field of life, without the intimate partnership of man and wife.

It was my great good fortune, which I understand as Divine Providence, that in 9th grade, my Rav [Rabbi] noticed that something was troubling me. After many heart-to-heart talks with him, he gained my trust and I opened up and told him what I was going through. He supported me; he helped me to understand that I was not sick, that G-d didn’t hate me. He explained to me that every person has different challenges in his life, some less, some more, and that every man is given the strengths that are necessary to achieve the goals and overcome the challenges that G-d places in his path.

The rest of my high school years, and the beginning of my days in a “hesder yeshiva" [religious Zionist program combining yeshiva studies with military service], went by in the same way - but with my secret helper, my Rav, who supported me and helped me to maintain my sanity, along with a healthy and constantly developing relationship with the Ribono shel Olam [Master of the Universe].

It was a very, very hard time: in high school, in the yeshiva, and in the army. I was always surrounded by men, and at the same time surrounded by a world of Torah and religious belief. I was living a life of intense and constant contradiction.

Baruch Hashem, [blessed be G-d] I never had any sexual contact with another man, Heaven forbid. I never met another man like me - neither a religious nor a secular one. Everything I did was between me and myself; it was me and the Internet, me and the pictures, me and the masturbation, just me by myself.

Somewhere during my army service, during a very difficult time of profound despair, my Rav (with whom I have kept up a very important and meaningful relationship to this day) recommended that I see a psychologist who could help me, because he felt that he himself did not have the tools with which to move me forward, despite his enormous desire to assist me. The psychologist who helped me was Dror Zandman.

(The continuation of this letter was written 5 months after my marriage)

It was worth everything: all the suffering, all the constant coping, all the frustrations, all the crises. It is impossible for me to describe the enormous happiness, the emotional, spiritual and sexual satisfaction that I have experienced with my wife. Yes, yes, with my wife.

It is infinitely deeper, satisfying, fulfilling, and empowering; way beyond any fantasy that I ever had with men.

You can believe it! It is possible!

I was in therapy with Dror for over three years. It was standard, verbal psychological therapy, with the addition of some sex therapy. Together, we tried to ascertain the reasons behind my homosexual feelings. What was I missing? Why was I attracted to men? Why wasn’t I attracted to women? What was I attracted to in the men I desired? The therapy also included work with initiating conscious, directed arousal towards women. I learned how to redirect the amazing power of sexual imagination – which until then had only been utilized for fantasies about men - into fantasies about women. Imagining her body. Imagining a relationship with a woman. And I am telling you – all of that pales a million times when compared with the real thing – relations with a real woman.

Throughout all the time I was in therapy I would experience regressions - mostly with the Internet. (It’s unbelievable how much sickness and evil are so instantly accessible there!). But Schelomo HaMelech [King Solomon] was right when he said: “A tzadik [righteous man] will fall seven times and then rise up” (Proverbs, 24:16). Do not lose hope!

This is a very difficult struggle. Sometimes it can seem insurmountable. But it is possible! You can fight and be victorious over this accursed inclination. If you work hard, you will find a woman with whom you can fall in love, and build a “bayit ne’eman b’Yisrael!” [a home faithful to Jewish Tradition.] And even if this “problem” won’t entirely disappear (as in my case – this “false lust” for men is still there on occasion, but I have learned how to live with it or redirect it and to handle it one day at a time) – you can achieve a beautiful marriage with a woman.

Dror helped me to understand this. He pushed me; he guided me, like a blind man in the darkness. In his merit I have come to where I have always wanted to be, to where HaKodosh Baruch Hu (The Holy One, Blessed be He) wanted me to be.

Thank you, Ribono shel Olam for the “nisayon” [test] that you placed me in, and for my incredible wife. Thank you Dror for being a faithful emissary for the Creator, Yisborach [may He be blessed]. Thank you to my wife, for the love, the support, and the total acceptance [of me, with knowledge of the issues I've overcome].

Best of luck to you in your life! Believe in Hashem [G-d, literally "The Name."]!

“Blessed is the man who trusts in G-d” (Yermiahu, 17:7)

Useful Links

Posted on January 5, 2016 at 5:20 PM

NARTH

 

www.narth.com

 

 

People Can Change

 

www.PeopleCanChange.com

 

 

International Healing Foundation

 

www.comingoutloved.com

 

 

Positive Alternatives to Homosexuality (PATH)

 

www.PathInfo.org

 

 

Dr. Neil Whitehead

 

www.mygenes.co.nz

 

 

Dr. Julie Harren - Hamilton

 

16 MINUTE VIDEO: ROOTS AND CAUSES OF HOMOSEXUALITY

 

www.homosexuality101.com

 

 

Dr. Joseph Nicolosi

 

www.josephnicolosi.com

 

 

International Institute of Reorientation Therapies

 

www.iirth.biz

 

 

Voices of Change

 

www.Voices-of-change.org

 

 

Guard Your Eyes- Maintaining Moral Purity in Today's World

 

www.guardyoureyes.com

 

Jews breaking free from pornography internet addiction, sexual obsessions and masturbation.

Why Change?

Posted on January 5, 2016 at 5:05 PM

 

Author / Contributor :: People Can Change | (Posted February 2008)

 

Ben Newman, the founder of People Can Change, summarizes 5 basic responses from men who expressed their desire to change sexual orientation.

Written Originally for www.peoplecanchange.com (Dec. 2003)

 

Why Change? What could possibly motivate us to go against our seemingly "natural" urges and do all the hard work described on this Web site?

 

 

To one extent or another, we were all motivated by at least one of the five things listed below, but usually were motivated by a combination of them: We were often miserable "gay"; we wanted to resolve the inner conflict between our homosexual desires and our deeply held beliefs; we wanted to have a family, or preserve the families we already had; we wanted to grow into mature masculinity, which for us meant heterosexual masculinity; and we felt called by G-d to come out of homosexuality into what for us was a far better life.

 

 

We were often miserable "gay."

 

 

In so many ways, "gay" just didn't work for us. It was so easy to become sex-obsessed in the pornography- and lust-saturated culture of homosexuality. It was so difficult to feel connected to G-d or some kind of higher purpose in a life where the mantra seemed to be, "If it feels good, nothing else matters." We were living in dissonance with the values, beliefs and goals we'd held for a lifetime. We pined for love and acceptance from men, but it seemed that so many gays so idolized youth and physical perfection that we often felt more rejection from our gay brothers, not less.

 

 

Still, we kept searching, partly because we didn't know where else to look and partly because we did find moments of pleasure and moments of real connection with good, decent and kind homosexual men. Those were the moments that kept drawing us back to homosexuality, hoping and believing that maybe the next boyfriend, the next encounter, would finally make us feel whole.

 

 

But for most of us, the hole inside of us that yearned for male affirmation and acceptance just got bigger the more that we pursued wholeness by engaging in homosexual behavior. Several of us were plagued by thoughts of suicide. Some of us became sex addicts, no longer able to control our obsessive search for sex. Our lives became filled with darkness.

 

 

Paul writes:

 

 

"For 12 years, I lived life as an openly gay man. I had a partner of three years who I dearly cared for, a family of wonderful loving friends scattered around the world, a house, a new job, and the prospects of a beautiful life. There was just one question that periodically raised its ugly head: Why was I so insufferably miserable?

 

"I was amazed. I had everything that I ever wanted. Yet, I also felt an incredible black hole inside that seemed to be sucking the life out of me. How could this be? I kept trying desperately to fill it. I read a lot of philosophy, I thought a lot about existence and life, and tried various ways to reach a peace. Nothing worked, not one damn thing. The pain just continued to increase, steadily and persistently. All I wanted to do was cease to exist, to end the suffering."

 

 

Ben writes:

 

 

"As soon as I 'accepted' that I was gay, and I could deny it no longer, I felt immediate relief from the turmoil of vacillation, but I also felt all my life's goals, dreams and values tossed to the wayside, with no higher purpose to replace them. I was adrift without a moral anchor or spiritual compass. A boyfriend talked theoretically about moral versus immoral homosexuality, but I couldn't see it (perhaps in part because I had met him at a gay bathhouse!). It seemed my 'life's work' would become about pursuing sex with men and trying to feel good about it. I just couldn't look in the mirror and like that kind of a man."

 

 

These experiences are confirmed by a myriad of statistics and our own personal experiences in the gay world. We found promiscuity was rampant; within gay circles, we found it was not only a given, it was celebrated and joked about openly. "Permanent" relationships are fleeting, lasting usually just a few months but occasionally a few years. On average, gay men die as much as 20 years earlier than heterosexual men. It is no wonder we were miserable; what is amazing is that so many seem to find fulfillment in that kind of life.

 

 

For many of us, our homosexual longings conflicted with deeply held beliefs, causing painful turmoil and confusion.

 

 

We could not simply toss aside everything we had come to believe about right and wrong, good and evil, God, and our life purpose. These things were part of our identity, part of how we made sense of the world. Many of us found we couldn't will them away any more than we could will away our homosexual desires. Nor did we want to.

 

 

We longed to have a family of our own one day, or, if we were already married or had children, we wanted to hold our families together and be the husbands our wives deserved and the fathers our children deserved.

 

 

We couldn't live with the thought of putting our wives and children through so much turmoil just because we couldn't control our lust. We had made promises to them, and we wanted to find a way to keep those promises and live with ourselves in peace.

 

 

We longed to grow into a fully mature masculinity, which for us meant heterosexual masculinity.

 

 

In short, we wanted to be men, and we simply defined "real men" as straight men. As much as we tried to convince ourselves that homosexual men were just as masculine as straight men, that there was nothing emasculating about having sex with a man or pursuing the gay interests, we felt inside ourselves that that just wasn't true.

 

 

Our masculine souls, no matter how buried below a gay identity, longed to feel as masculine as we perceived straight men to be. And we began to realize we would never feel that way as long as we related to men sexually or romantically. We learned that to grow into full masculinity, we would have to grow into heterosexuality.

 

 

We felt called by G-d out of homosexuality into what for us was a far better life.

 

 

At different times and in different ways, almost all of us turned to G-d in our turmoil, and felt this simple truth deep in our hearts: Homosexuality was wrong for us, and G-d would lead us out of the pain if we turned to him.

 

 

This became a powerful motivator in our lives. Coupled with the fact that for the majority of us, being gay just didn't work, a spiritual hope of eventual peace offered a tiny, flickering light at the end of a tunnel. We walked toward it.

 

 

And our journey began.

 

 

Who Succeeds at Change in Therapy?

Posted on January 5, 2016 at 5:00 PM

Author / Contributor :: Matheson, David (Posted June 2008)

 

David Matheson, Licensed Professional Counselor in Utah, writes:

 

In the years I've been working as a reparative therapist, I've noticed some common tendencies among men who are successful in diminishing homosexuality as well as some commonalties among those who are unsuccessful. Please keep in mind that these are impressions and not the results of a study. Most of my impressions are from men who are (or have been) in therapy. I have not had occasion over the past few years to closely observe men who are not in therapy. But I believe that much of what I've written below would apply equally, if not more so, to men who choose not to engage in therapy.

 

In general, I believe success in this (or any) therapy process can be attributed to a single, simple principle: People spontaneously change for the better when they let go of their resistance to change. In other words, to change is natural if we can just get out of the way and let it happen. Of course, the problem with this is that men dealing with homosexuality typically have so much in the way that unblocking the natural change process can be like removing the Hoover Dam.

 

The tendencies I've written about below can all be seen in the context of resistance. That is, these are all barriers that people unconsciously erect in their lives to prevent change. Often, these barriers are unintentional and occasionally they may even be unavoidable. The stronger and more ingrained the pattern of resistance is--and the less aware the person is that the pattern is actually resistance--the less success the person will have in changing. I'm not sure that understanding the reasons for the resistance is that important.

 

Resistance may come from reticence to give up physical pleasure, discomfort with painful emotions that have to be faced, or simply fear of change. But regardless of what is causing the resistance, the resistance must be overcome or progress will be hampered.

 

I've divided these resistant tendencies into four different areas: life situation, unwillingness to invest, unwillingness to risk, and living as a victim. I've first listed the tendencies common among unsuccessful clients, then I've contrasted them with the approach taken by successful clients.

 

Life Situation

 

Extreme stress or commitments due to work, family, school, or church demands.

Successful clients prioritize and eliminate from their schedule things that get in the way of what is most important.

 

A chaotic life that doesn't allow for a regular, ongoing therapy process.

The chaos may be due to factors such as finances, work schedule, transportation problems, illness of self or family members, etc. Successful clients find ways to surmount or minimize chaos that occurs in their lives in order to allow the therapeutic process to continue.

 

Unwillingness to Invest

 

Not taking the problem seriously, as expressed in statements like, "I don't need therapy," "I don't need group," or "It's too expensive."

Successful clients recognize the seriousness of their situation and willingly do whatever is necessary to bring about change.

 

Ambivalence about committing to change, as expressed in statements like, "I want to change, but right now I need this boyfriend."

Successful clients are willing to let go of whatever leads them away from their goal. That willingness may not be there all at once, but successful clients continue to push themselves toward it.

 

False dependency on faith and spirituality without doing the psychological and emotional work necessary to bring about change.

At its roots, homosexuality is NOT a spiritual problem. Spiritual problems develop when homosexual behavior is engaged in. But to begin with, same-sex attraction is a developmental arrest that is psychological in nature. Spirituality alone will not change homosexuality! This is why we so often hear the complaint, "I prayed for years and the Lord never took this problem away."

 

Successful clients wisely ask for God's help with SPECIFIC needs, praying for opportunities that are needed, and allowing the Spirit to comfort and sustain them. Yet they never shift the burden of responsibility onto the Lord.

 

Unwillingness to Risk

 

Sacrificing authenticity for comfort, as expressed in statements like, "I can't do this, it's too uncomfortable."

Unsuccessful clients get overwhelmed by their own emotions and withdraw from therapy. Successful clients willingly face their fears both internally (hurtful emotions) and externally (frightening relationships and situations). This is one of the main factors separating successful from unsuccessful clients.

 

Feeling such shame over your struggles that you refuse to be open with others about what you are going through.

This is often expressed in statements like, "I can't tell anyone about me," or "I have to work through this alone so that no one ever finds out." Successful clients open themselves to other people and ask for help.

 

A rigid approach to life, which prevents you from going beyond previous limitations, seeing new perspectives, doing new things, exploring new ways of thinking and living, and doing things you've never done before.

Successful clients are open to the possibility of change in every aspect of their lives.

 

Living as a Victim

 

Passivity, as manifested in statements like, "I don't know what to do," or "I just don't think I can change."

This is also manifested as a tendency to NOT seek out help, or to be very narrow in the therapeutic activities you pursue. Perhaps you go to group meetings occasionally, but you essentially keep yourself ignorant of other opportunities. Successful clients take the responsibility for their change process and seek out every source of information and help available, such as individual and group therapy, straight male friendships, New Warriors participation, activity in a church, etc.

 

Being a "help-rejecting complainer."

These are individuals who are constantly complaining about the problems they face, and yet when help is offered they immediately come up with reasons why each suggestion won't work for them. Or they may half-heartedly try the suggestion just long enough to prove its ineffectiveness. Successful clients are willing to go outside the comfort of their complaints and actually try to solve their problems.