LORD, SET ME FREE!
A Workbook on the Fourteen Steps
Homosexuals Anonymous Fellowship Services
H.A.F.S. APPROVED LITERATURE
Homosexuals Anonymous/HA Copyright 1994
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from the copyright owner, except for brief quotations embodied in reviews.
To God, whose mercy endureth forever--
the Father, who in love purposed my salvation,
the Son, who bore my sins in his own body on the tree,
the Spirit, who indwells, guides, and empowers my life;
to Colin C., co-founder of Homosexuals Anonymous
to whom God gave the 14 Steps on which our recovery is based;
to Dan R., my counselor, and Calvin K., my pastor,
whose support and guidance were richly used of God in my recovery;
to Peter F., Rudy C., Geoffrey P., John W., Bob P., and especially Ivan L.,
men whose friendship has helped and sustained me in the process of recovery;
to Duncan E., Richard P., Charles M.,
Paul K., David W., Lois S., Alex C., Jack H., Rod H., and Ivan L.,
Homosexuals Anonymous Board members past and present,
without whose help and encouragement this ministry could not prosper;
to Jim P., Ivan L., and Nancy B.,
who graciously volunteered many hours to help me complete this workbook;
to the members of the Reading chapters of Homosexuals Anonymous,
whose experience, strength, and hope has enriched me beyond measure;
to the courageous men and women who are members of Homosexuals Anonymous,
who have committed their lives to the living God
and have determined to walk the road of freedom
until they grow up into Christ in all things;
this workbook is gratefully dedicated.
--John J., Reading, PA
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Step 1 We admitted that we were powerless over our homosexuality and that our emotional lives were unmanageable.
Step 2 We came to believe the love of God, Who forgave us and accepted us in spite of all that we are and have done.
Step 3 We learned to see purpose in our suffering, that our failed lives were under God's control, Who is able to bring good out of trouble.
Step 4 We came to believe that God had already broken the power of homosexuality and that He could therefore restore our true personhood.
Step 5 We came to perceive that we had accepted a lie about ourselves, an illusion that had trapped us in a false identity.
Step 6 We learned to claim our true reality that, as humankind, we are part of God's heterosexual creation and that God calls us to rediscover that identity in Him through Jesus Christ, as our faith perceives Him.
Step 7 We resolved to entrust our lives to our loving God and to live by faith, praising Him for our new unseen identity, confident that it would become visible to us in God's good time.
Step 8 As forgiven people, free from condemnation, we made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, determined to root out fear, hidden hostility and contempt for the world.
Step 9 We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs and humbly asked God to remove our defects of character.
Step 10 We willingly made direct amends wherever wise and possible to all people we had harmed.
Step 11 We determined to live no longer in fear of the world, believing that God's victorious control turns all that is against us into our favor, bringing advantage out of sorrow and order from disaster.
Step 12 We determined to mature in our relationships with men and women, learning the meaning of a partnership of equals, seeking neither dominance over people nor servile dependency on them.
Step 13 We sought, through confident praying and the wisdom of Scripture, for an ongoing growth in our relationship with God and a humble acceptance of His guidance for our lives.
Step 14 Having had a spiritual awakening, we tried to carry this message to people in homosexuality with a love that demands nothing and to practice these steps in all our lives' activities, as far as lies within us.
HOW TO USE THIS WORKBOOK
(PLEASE READ THIS!)
Why work a workbook?
Personal research helps us learn new ideas. Writing forces us to clarify our thoughts. Using a workbook involves research and writing to deepen our understanding.
What about a cover for my workbook?
This workbook was designed to fit a regular three-hole binder. Please purchase your own cover which will allow you to carry the workbook anywhere and have your anonymity protected. We recommend that you also purchase dividers and separate the workbook by steps to help you find your place quickly. You can also keep any additional material you have collected in your notebook behind the appropriate step. This should give you a wealth of material on recovery for your own use and to help others.
What will I need besides this workbook?
A pen or pencil and a Bible. Any standard version will do. If you have trouble understanding a verse, check it in a second translation.
How can I find a passage in the Bible?
To find Joshua 1:8, for example, look for Joshua in the "Table of Contents" in your Bible and turn to the page indicated. The number before the colon (:) indicates the chapter you want, in this case, chapter 1. The number after the colon indicates the verse sought, so look for verse 8 in chapter 1.
What if I have doubts?
This workbook uses the Bible to help us understand God and ourselves. Even if you have doubts about God, you can still find help from this study if you approach it with an open mind and a willing heart.
How do I answer the questions?
Write the verses, exactly as you find them in the Bible, in the space provided in the workbook. If a thought comes to you as you write the verse, jot it down in the margin next to the verse. It is more important that you make this workbook useful to you than that you make it neat. In the "Personal Response" section, summarize these verses and thoughts and apply them to your life. You may also wish to express your reaction (positive or negative) to them.
How much should I do at one time?
Work at your own pace. Perhaps one question in a section with its "personal response" a day might be comfortable for you. When you want to work more, do so. If you find the material difficult to understand or if it brings up painful emotions, work more slowly. At least do a little every day. As someone has said, "It is not how many times you have been through the Bible that matters, but how many times the Bible has been through you." Work at a pace that enables you to make these truths a part of your life (which is the only way they can help you) rather than rushing to get through this workbook.
Should I skip around?
Try to finish each Step in this workbook as completely as possible before going on. This includes doing the assignments under "How You Can Work This Step". Each Step is a vital link in the chain of recovery.
Can I get help with this material?
We encourage you to do so. We often come to a deeper understanding of ourselves through others and experience God's healing power through their acceptance, encouragement, and support. Ask one of the senior members of your HA chapter whom you respect and with whom you feel comfortable to be your step coach. Ask him/her to meet with you weekly to go over your work and answer any questions you have. If you are not near a chapter, perhaps you can meet regularly with one or more friends who will work this workbook with you.
Can our HA chapter do this workbook together?
By all means! (1) Have your coordinator collect money from and order workbooks for each member. Order several extra workbooks with money from your treasury and have them available for new members to purchase. (2) When the workbooks arrive, the moderator should assign the questions to be done for discussion at the next meeting. He/she must work ahead so they can assign enough questions to insure that everyone learns something and there can be a good discussion, but not so much material as to over-pressure members with more work than they can complete. (3) Encourage each new member to meet with a step coach between meetings for help with their study. (4) Ask each member to commit themselves to make a sincere effort to: (a) attend regularly ("bring the body and the mind will follow"); (b) do their homework, even is some of the material causes personal discomfort; (c) participate in the meeting and share openly and honestly to the best of their ability; (d) accept support and give it to others; (e) recognize their own limits and those of others; (f) realize that God does the healing through His Son by His Word and Spirit; (g) recognize that they must take personal responsibility for their own recovery in dependence on God's grace and strength; (h) make time each day for prayer and meditation on God's Word; (i) work the steps; (j) refrain from seeing themselves as victims but rather as persons working a program of recovery.
I fought a lonely, losing battle with homosexuality for thirty-six years before I found that there is real hope and help.
My father wanted me, his firstborn, to be exactly like he was--strong, tough, a fighter, and a doctor. These were things God had not equipped me to be. I felt I was not what my father wanted and that he did not love me. So I put up a wall between us and missed the love I needed from my father to develop a healthy gender identity.
I first became aware of homosexual feelings when I was twelve, but I hid them from everyone but two friends with whom I was sexually involved during my teen years. At eighteen I became a Christian, and that stopped outward activity for over twenty years. It did not end the inner struggle. Neither did intense religious activity or marriage and children. Temptation persisted until a time of great stress in my late thirties when I felt I could fight no longer. Once I yielded, I could not stop no matter how hard I tried. The result was blackmail, exposure, the loss of my reputation and family, and an attempted suicide.
God is able to bring good out of trouble! As a result of my problems, I learned about Homosex- uals Anonymous and for the first time came in contact with well-founded hope and solid help. The 14 Steps of HA crystallized and concentrated biblical truth on my struggle so that homosex- ual activity ceased and the power of temptation lessened. There are no quick fixes or easy solutions. I still have times of struggle, but the Good Shepherd has found His wandering sheep, has me on His shoulder, and is carrying me home!
God's Word shows how this experience can be yours too. The Bible tells us how we can have God's enabling power in our lives so that we can follow His counsel and realize His promises. The 14 Steps are a guide to help us know God's strength in our struggles. They show us how God can change lives that were ineffectual and unhappy into lives that are joyful and fruitful.
1. Can the Bible show me how to find freedom?
Some of us felt, "But I tried the Bible and it didn't work!" Something was missing. A know- ledge of the Bible is vital to recovery, but it is only when the truths of Scripture become part of the very core of our being that they do their transforming work. When Scripture is rooted in our very souls, immeasurable power is released!
"One day in 1945, Clarence W. Hall, a war correspondent following on the heels of our troops in Okinawa, came upon the tiny village of Shimabuku.
"It was an obscure little community of only a few hundred native Okinawans. Thirty years before, an American missionary on his way to Japan, had stopped here. He had not stayed long --just long enough to make a few converts, leave them a Bible, and pass on.
"One of the converts was Shosei Kina, the other...his brother Mojon. From the time of the missionary's visit they had seen no other missionary and had had no contact with any other Christian person. But in those thirty years Shosei Kina and his brother had made their New Testament come alive....
"Aflame with their discovery, they taught the other villagers until every man, woman and child in Shimabuku had become a Christian. Shosei Kina became head man in the village; his brother, Mojon, the chief teacher. In Mojon's school the Bible was read daily. To Shosei Kina's village government, its precepts were law. Under the impact of this book, pagan practices fell away. In their place...there had developed a Christian democracy at its purest.
"Then after thirty years came the American army, storming across the island. Little Shimabuku was directly in its path and took some severe shelling. When our advance patrols swept up to the village compound, the GIs, guns leveled, stopped dead in their tracks as two little old men stepped forth, bowed low and began to speak.
"An interpreter explained that the old men were welcoming them as fellow Christians. They remembered that their missionary had come from America. So, though these Americans seemed to approach things a little differently..., the two old men were overjoyed to see them.
"The GIs reaction was typical. Flabbergasted, they sent for the chaplain.
"The chaplain came, and with him the officers of the Intelligence Service. They toured the village and were astonished at what they saw--spotlessly clean homes and streets, poised and gentle villagers, a high level of health and happiness, intelligence and prosperity. They had seen many other villages on Okinawa--villages of unbelievable poverty and filth. Against these Shim- abuku shone like a diamond in a dung heap.
"Shosei Kina and his brother Mojon observed the American's amazement and took it for disap- pointment... They bowed humbly and said, 'We are sorry if we seem a backward people. We have, honored sirs, tried our best to follow the Bible and live like Jesus. Perhaps if you will show us how...'
"Hall relates that he strolled through Shimabuku one day with a tough old Army sergeant. As they walked the sergeant turned to him and whispered hoarsely, 'I can't figure it--this kind of people coming out of only a Bible and a couple of old guys who wanted to live like Jesus!' Then he added a penetrating observation: 'Maybe we've been using the wrong kind of weapons...'" [Richard Hall and Eugene P. Beitler, How To Read the Bible, p. 17-19]
"This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book." [D. L. Moody, Notes From My Bible, p. 8]
"...At the very start we must make clear there are no quick cures.... I consistently warn against solutions that are more magic than miracle, and sow confusion in the hearts of hurting Christ- ians. I spend a disproportionate amount of counseling time trying to pick up the pieces of disillusioned Christians who have unsuccessfully tried some instant cure." [David Seamands, Freedom from the Performance Trap, p. 20]
"Meditation is the wing of the soul, which carrieth the affections thereof to things above.... Hereby we hold fast the things which we have learned, we awaken our faith, inflame our love, strengthen our hope, revive our desires, increase our joys in God, we furnish our hearts and fill our mouths with materials of prayer, we loosen our affections from the world, we pre-acquaint ourselves with those glories which we yet but hope for, and get some knowledge of that love of Christ which passeth knowledge. Meditation is the palate of the soul whereby we taste the goodness of God; the eye of the soul whereby we view the beauties of holiness; that...gymnasia whereby our spiritual senses are exercised... It is the key to the wine cellar, to the banqueting house, to the garden of spices, which letteth us in unto him whom our soul loveth; it is the arm whereby we embrace the promises at a distance, and bring Christ and our souls together." [Edward Reynolds, "The Epistle to the Reader," in Thomas Watson, Sermons, p. iv-v]
"Psychology can help in diagnosis, but only God can cure. As a rule He does so through the Book." [Andrew W. Blackwood, Preaching From the Bible, p. 212]
"One of the chief obstacles to healing is our obsession with the immediate. The 'itch for the instantaneous' pervades much of our Christian thinking. We tend to think that unless a healing is immediate, it is not of God... We have become impatient and frustrated with things that take time." [David Seamands, Healing of Memories, p. 181]
Since the Word of God can do so much for us, it is not surprising that the enemy of our souls would try to turn us away from it. For this reason both Old and New Testaments are full of warnings against false prophets and false teachers.
"We are to receive nothing for truth but what is agreeable to the Word. As God has given to his ministers gifts for interpreting obscure places, so he has given to his people so much of the spirit of discerning, that they can tell (at least in things necessary to salvation) what is consonant to Scripture, and what is not.... We have this blessed Book of God to resolve all our doubts, to point out a way of life to us.... God having given us his written Word to be our directory takes away all excuses of men. No man can say, I went wrong for want of light; God has given thee his Word as a lamp to thy feet; therefore if thou goest wrong, thou dost it wilfully.... The Spirit of God acts regularly, it works in and by the Word; and he that pretends to a new light, which is either above the Word, or contrary to it, abuses both himself and the Spirit: his light is borrowed from him who transforms himself into an angel of light (Satan)." [Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, p. 31-33]
"The biggest liar in the world is 'They Say.'" [Douglas Malloch quoted in R. Scott Richards, Myths the World Taught Me, p. 13]
"People will go to a lot of trouble to learn French or physics or scuba diving. They have the patience to learn to operate a car but they won't be bothered learning how to operate them- selves." [Mildred Newman, Bernard Berkowitz, and Jean Owen, How To Be Your Own Best Friend, p. 8]
"I'm thinking of several Christian young men who came seeking help for their struggles with homosexuality. There were hours of counseling, prayers for healing, and a long time of repro- gramming which included accountability and encouragement from a small support group. They are now happily married, with families, and God has given them a special ministry to others with the same problem." [David Seamands, Freedom from the Performance Trap, p. 182]
II Timothy 3:16,17
"The Bible...is copyrighted in Heaven." [Gems From Bishop Taylor Smith's Bible, p. 22]
"Our minds are stuck in a rut, a pattern of thinking that is antagonistic to the will of God. Successful Christian living depends on getting out of that rut and establishing another one that is characterized by biblical values and ways of thinking." [Doug Moo, "Putting the Renewed Mind to Work," Renewing Your Mind in a Secular World , p. 145]
"We are where we are and what we are because of what has gone into our minds. We change where we are and what we are by changing what goes into our minds." [Zig Ziglar in A Treasury of Business Quotations, #213]
"...He that would get weeds destroyed must plant the ground with contrary seeds." [The Complete Works of Thomas Manton IV, p. 155]
2. Will God help me understand His truth?
"Men are unable to understand why time should be consumed in divine works.... Men.... demand immediate, tangible results. They ask, Where is the promise of His coming? They ask to be themselves made glorified saints in the twinkling of an eye. God's ways are not their ways, and it is a great trial to them that God will not walk in their ways. They love the earthquake and the fire. They cannot see the divine in 'a sound of gentle stillness,' and adjust themselves with difficulty to the lengthening perspective of God's gracious working.... These impatient souls....must at all costs have all that is coming to them at once." [B. B. Warfield, Perfectionism II, p. 561]
"..A man was walking behind a gipsy woman and when they came to a place where the road divided, the gipsy woman threw her stick up into the air, and let it fall on the ground. Then she did it a second time; and a third time. By this time the gentleman had caught up with her, and, being curious, he enquired: 'Why do you throw your stick up into the air like that?' She replied, 'That is how I determine which way to go; I go whichever way the stick points.' 'But you threw it up three times,' he said, wondering why she had done so. 'Yes, I did!' she answered, 'for the silly thing would point that way, and I wanted to go this!'" [George Goodman, I Live Yet Not I, p. 84-85]
We may smile at the woman's folly, but are we any wiser when we do not let God rule, but only obey were God's commands agree with our wishes?
"I have found that many Christians rely more on their own ideas and feelings than they do on the Bible, especially when Scripture commands them to do difficult things. In particular, many people seem to believe they can be sure they are doing what is right if they pray and feel a sense of 'inner peace.' Nowhere does the Bible guarantee that a sense of peace is a sure sign that one is on the right course. Many people experience a sense of relief ('inner peace') even when they are on a sinful course, simply because they are getting away from stressful responsibilities. Conversely, doing what is right sometimes generates feelings other than peace, especially when we are required to obey difficult commands, die to our own desires, or put others' needs above our own. Since the Bible alone provides absolutely reliable guidance from God, it should always be our supreme source of truth and direction." [Ken Sande, The Peacemaker, p. 229]
3. What should my attitude be for maximum benefit?
We cannot walk in God's way unless He teaches us, but it is folly to ask Him to teach us unless we resolve to obey Him as He instructs us. To do that we need what the psalmist prayed for-- a heart united in reverence for God.
"He has known the misery of a divided heart, the affections and purpose of which are drawn in manifold directions, and are arrayed in conflict against each other. There is no peace nor blessedness, neither is any nobility of life possible, without whole-hearted devotion to one great object; and there is no object capable of evoking such devotion or worthy to receive it, except Him who is 'God alone.' Divided love is no love. It is 'all in all, or not at all.'... There is no tranquillity nor any power in lives frittered away on a thousand petty loves.... 'This one thing I do' is the motto of all who have done anything worthy." [Alexander Maclaren, "The Psalms," The Expositor's Bible III, p. 223]
"It is one of the million wild jests of truth that we can know nothing until we know nothing." [G. K. Chesterton, Heretics, p. 65]
"...Dependence on the Holy Spirit to teach us will guard us against...placing too much confidence in ourselves, and failing to trust the Lord for needed understanding. Of course, dependence on the Holy Spirit does not mean that study is unnecessary. God may sometimes quickly give us understanding of a particular passage, while at other times we may have to study patiently for insight." [Robert L. Samms, How To Study the Bible, Part I, p. 16]
HOW YOU CAN WORK THE PROGRAM
1) You will note that each step begins with "we" rather than "I". Homosexuality springs from a broken relationship with our same-sex parent, and the recovery program in these steps will only be effective as you work it in relationship with others. If there is an HA chapter near you, attend regularly and work the steps with them. If no chapter is nearby, order the Homosexuals Anonymous Policy and Advisory Manual from the "HA Book Ministry" list under "FOR THOSE WANTING TO GIVE OR RECEIVE HELP WITH HOMOSEXUALITY" and start your own. If you can't do that, get two or three friends of the same sex who do not struggle with homosexuality to work this workbook with you (it will be a good Bible study for them). Ask them to encourage you in the recovery process and be accountable to them concerning your progress. Start your own chapter when your recovery is going well and continue to look to your friends for support as the chapter gets under way.
2) Watch the video: HA: The Path to Freedom listed under "FOR THOSE WANTING TO GIVE OR RECEIVE HELP WITH HOMOSEXUALITY on the "HA Book Ministry" list. Journal your responses and share what you have learned with someone in your chapter or a friend.
3) Read the brochures Can Homosexuals Change? and We're Finding Freedom listed under "FOR THOSE WANTING TO GIVE OR RECEIVE HELP WITH HOMOSEXUALITY on the "HA Book Ministry" list. Journal your responses and share what you have learned with someone in your chapter or a friend.
4) Read the material up to Step 1 in Experience, Strength and Hope listed under "FOR THOSE WANTING TO GIVE OR RECEIVE HELP WITH HOMOSEXUALITY on the "HA Book Ministry" list. Journal your responses and share what you have learned with someone in your chapter or a friend. Continue working in your workbook.
5) Memorize one of the verses you found helpful in this chapter.
Men and women with unwanted same-sex attractions often meet in local or online groups, seek out therapists and get all those wonderful resources out there. All good and nice. Nothing to be said against that. And yet, you have some who keep on telling you they’ve tried “everything” and “nothing” worked so far. Oh really. After years and years of dealing with those folks that I love with all of my heart, here some points to ponder (or better: kicks in the butt):
- So you’ve tried everything. Did ya. Usually, a closer look reveals that they tried nothing for real. They might show up at one or two meetings, or order a book – and this is it. If you want to succeed, however, you need perseverance and a high stress and frustration tolerance. You need to be able to set yourself a goal and go for it – no matter how long it takes and how hard it will be. If you are not willing to do that, don’t blame it on the group, the people there, the program, the genes, your past, your parents or whomever else then. Your just a quitter looking for lame excuses.
- In many cases, self-pity is both a symptom and part of the cause of same-sex attractions. A baby that does not perceive himself or herself to be loved will start pitying himself/herself in order to get some love this way. A really tragic and sad thing to happen. This will take on till he or she is grown up, if nothing will be done against it. Usually, the individual does not even realize that. Other people start getting ticked off by the constant whining and complaining and think he or she is a wimp or worse. So if you struggle with that and already realized it, do something against it. Stop the whining. Stand up and fight! Learn to love and enjoy life and start working on your masculine/feminine identity. But PLEASE stop the whining! Whining is the easy way out in struggle. You see yourself as the poor and helpless victim. Take responsibility for your own life and act like a man/woman! There is no shame in being scared, but there is if you let your fear overcome you!
- Go for results. General bla-bla won’t get you far. Set yourself big goals (they really can’t be too big!), cut them in little goals and start making plans. Example: Instead of saying, “I will try to become a better person” (which is nothing else but a wishy-washy statement that will never lead to anything!), make your goal measurable and hold yourself accountable: “Until next Friday I will contact the volunteer program in our church and ask if I can join them in building houses for the poor. And I will tell Bill about it.” Like that you have a fix date, a measurable goal and someone that will hold you accountable.
- If you are a follower of Jesus (or Jew, Muslim – whatever), show that your faith is for real. Stop begging God to take “it” away from you – while comfortably leaning back doing nothing and waiting for God to do “His” job. Yes, God is a gracious and loving Father – and much like a worldly father who teaches his little son how to ride a bike, the Lord will teach you: Jesus died for you on the cross so you can be free – so the power of sin is already broken! You ARE free and the only thing that hinders you in realizing that is your lack of belief! As to your recovery in all other realms (like your family history, your emotions, identity questions, possible emotional, verbal, physical or sexual abuse or whatever else), He will teach you how to do it – but you need to trust Him and walk His path! Stop holding yourself back with lame excuses and finally trust Him! Even if bad things should happen, you know then that you are never alone! Let His love overflow you so you will become radiant with this love and joy! If we don’t have something to be joyful about, then who should?
- No man is an island. Neither are you. You grow in and through the company with others – so you should give something back and help others with unwanted same-sex attractions. This means accepting responsibility on a long-term basis. You won’t help anybody when you only show up somewhere when you feel like it. You might be (or feel) “different”. That is not a bad thing in and of itself. Let this “being different” become a blessing for others! Find out about your gifts and talents and use them for God’s glory!
- And last but not least: Get structure and discipline in all areas of your life: sexually, financially, healthwise, emotionally, relationally, socially, spiritually etc. Get yourself motivated each and every day by setting up a structure plan. Start your day by putting on your spiritual armor through prayer and Bible study and then throw yourself into the great and unbelievable adventure called life. Don’t waste it by shying back. Stand up and be the one God called you for! There is no victory in whining and complaining and finding a good excuse to reject all help and remaining a passive victim for good. There is no victory in blaming others for your inability to get your own stuff in order. There is no victory in begging God for what He already gave you, but what you continue to run away from: Complete freedom! What are you so afraid of? That you might really be free someday and be responsible for your own life? That through acting like a man/woman you might finally become one? That you might grow up to become and adult? Get your butt up and learn how to fly!!