We admitted that we were powerless over our homosexuality and that our emotional lives
In Step 1 we acknowledge that homosexuality is a real problem to us and admit the power it has held over us. Thus we gain the humility we need to reach out to God and others for the help we must have if we are to experience the glorious liberty of the sons and daughters of God.
How long and cleverly we defended our right to wrong ourselves and others by denying that there was anything wrong at all. We deluded ourselves by claiming that there was nothing really wrong because we only engaged in homosexual activity once in a while when other people upset us. Some of us rationalized our behavior by saying, "I only engage in mutual masturbation, not intercourse, and that is not really homosexuality." Others maintained, "I don't have intercourse, just sexual intimacy without orgasm. How can that be wrong?" Some of us said we had no problem since we had never been sexual with anyone, ignoring the fact that homosexual desires, pornography, and masturbation ruled our lives.
We tried to quit. Failing that, we sought to cut down. We made promises and plans, but to no avail. We summoned up all our will-power, only to fail repeatedly. Many of us could not con- trol our outward behavior. The rest of us could not still the fierce war raging in our emotions. What we did not express with the body of another we did express with our own bodies in habit- ual masturbation to fantasy and pornography--leaving us guilty, ashamed, frightened, and hopeless. Our despair was so oppressive that some of us tried to take our own lives.
And so we faced the truth. Our pain and the hurt we were causing others was too real, too intense, to ignore. We were compelled to admit, "Something is desperately wrong. I have a real problem with homosexuality, and I cannot solve it by myself." Strangely, this admission of powerlessness was our first step to strength. Our confession of slavery started us on the road that leads to freedom!
1. What sexual activity was ordained by God?
Human beings "alone...bear His likeness (see Gen. 1:27).... We must know God in order to know ourselves. God also tells us that to discover our true humanity, we must be known by the opposite sex.... When God determined to create a helper for Adam, no mere animal would do. The only adequate counterpart was one who would be similar enough to him to meet him on the inspired ground of his humanity, but unique enough to draw him out of his aloneness and fill in the empty places of his masculine soul. From Adam's rib God created Eve (see 2:21-23). And He built into each a yearning for the missing part within that the other possessed. Adam knew his maleness in the gaze of Eve's distinct femaleness, and vice versa.... That dynamic sense of dissimilarity and similarity drew them into an adventure of self-discovery.... Becoming 'one flesh' is a powerful symbol of this coming together.... United they complement one another, as well as create new life.... Thus the Genesis creation account reveals several key themes. First, God graces us with His image. We don't attain to the image; it's a gift of God. Second, the molding of the male and female reveals God's image. The complementarity of the two sexes reflects a fullness of being that same-sex union cannot reflect. Within that comple- mentarity, sexual yearning can be blessed." [Andrew Comiskey, Pursuing Sexual Wholeness, p. 39-41]
"The prima facie sense of Genesis 2:24 is that one man is to be joined to one woman and that the two become one flesh..." [John Murray, Principles of Conduct, p. 29] "The sexual act is a sanctuary sacred to the man and his wife alone. For any person to invade that sanctuary but man and wife is a desecration that violates one of the elementary canons regulative of human life and behavior. It is for man with wife and wife with man exclusively, and this applies to homosexual as well as heterosexual aberration." [ibid., p. 80]
Dr. Stanton L. Jones, professor of psychology at Wheaton College, notes, "Each major person- ality theory in psychology today places sexuality in a different place in a person's life; some place it at a person's core while others place it on a person's periphery. None of the major theories asserts that the expression of genital erotic urges is essential to human well-being. Even Freudian theory, the most 'sexualized' of the theories, does not posit genital gratification to be essential to wholeness." [The Crisis of Homosexuality, p. 112] "There is no scientific evidence that people who do not experience regular genital sexual gratification, intercourse, are less well-adjusted than others. Such a position is clearly hostile to the whole of biblical revelation, where sexuality is viewed as a blessing given to every human being, and expression of that sexuality in the overt form of intercourse is reserved only for those who are married." [ibid., p. 170]
2. Did Jesus think that what God originally ordained should be weakened or abandoned in any way?
"The biblical case against practicing homosexuality....rests primarily on the constant, pervasive biblical teaching that sex is a gift intended for the committed relationship of a man and a woman in life-long covenant. Never is there a hint anywhere in Scripture that God intended sex in any other relationship." [Ronald Sider, Completely Pro-Life, p. 114]
"A man may have sexual relations with a woman who is married to him; with a woman who is married to someone else; with a woman who is unmarried; or with another man. The Bible con- demns the last three--adultery, fornication, and homosexual practices--in no uncertain terms, and is equally definite in approving the first..." [Alex Davidson, The Returns of Love, p. 35]
3. Does the Bible teach that homosexuality is contrary to God's will?
In Genesis 1 and 2 we "discover God's initial creative intent--man as male and female. The fall distorts God's intent for human sexuality...and the law arises in response to this deviation... Finally, in the New Testament, the law appears as an agent of reconciliation...directing sinful man to Christ." [Andrew Comiskey, Pursuing Sexual Wholeness: Guide, p. 159-160]
These words made many of us angry because we thought God was being arbitrary like a parent who says, "You can't wear blue just because I don't like it." God is not arbitrary. God is love (I John 4:16). When He tells us not to walk in a certain way, it is because He knows that road will be deadly for some of us physically, destructive for all of us emotionally and spiritually.
Unfortunately, our instinctual sexual drive, which has been joined to deep emotional needs for love not met in our relationship with our same-sex parent when we were young, makes us like people lost in a snow storm. We have tried to fight our way out but are now so weary that the snow looks warm and inviting. If only we can lie down and go to sleep, all will be well. To do so feels good, but to do so is to die! And so our Father lovingly urges us not to give in, but to fight on, promising freedom to those who will trust Him.
Some of us were deeply troubled by these words. We thought God had somehow selected us for special condemnation. We failed to read these words in their context.
What the passage is saying is that all men are sinners who have turned away from the true God to things they chose to worship. God then let them do what they wanted to do. Some were given over to heterosexual sin (Romans 1:24,25); others (made vulnerable by unmet same-sex, parent-child needs from childhood) to homosexual sin (Romans 1:26,27); others to other sins (Romans 1:28-31). "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). We are all worthy of death (Romans 1:32)! All of us are in the same boat! We only sit on different planks!
Further, God tells us we are sinners to show us our need of the forgiveness (Romans 3:21-5:21) and freedom (Romans 6:1-8:39) for which Christ died. Romans 1:26,27 was not written to harm us, but to bring us to Christ. It is motivated by a love which sacrificed everything for us and is written that we might enjoy the blessings of that sacrifice.
The words that so frightened us, "God gave them up," only mean that "...God allowed them to go their own way in order that they might at last learn from their consequent wretchedness to hate the futility of a life turned away from the truth of God. ...Paul's meaning is neither that these men fell out of the hands of God...nor that God washed His hands of them; but rather that this delivering them up was a deliberate act of judgment and mercy on the part of the God who smites in order to heal (Isa 19.22), and that throughout the time of their God-forsakenness God is still concerned with them and dealing with them." [C. E. B. Cranfield, "A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans," International Critical Commentary I, p. 110]
"Sometimes God seeks us by letting us go. Letting us go our own way and allowing us to suffer the inevitable consequences of that way in the hope that our suffering will bring us back to Him." [David Seamands, Freedom from the Performance Trap, p. 195]
I Corinthians 6:9-11
These words, which at first seemed so threatening, became some of the sweetest words in the Bible as we understood them better. True, they mention active and passive homosexuality among the sins which, if not repented of, bar people from the Kingdom of God. They do not list them first, as if they are the worst of sins; nor do they mention them last as if they are unspeakable. They are listed in the middle of this catalogue along with sins like greed and slander--no better, but no worse than the other misdeeds. And those words, "and such were some of you" told us that some early believers had struggled with homosexuality and had found forgiveness and freedom! Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Therefore the One who delivered them can also forgive and free us! We have solid hope drawn from God's own Word!
4. What is one reason God gave commandments in the Bible?
"God commandeth us a course of duty or right action...that we may be happy in his love.... His very law is a gift and a great benefit.... Holiness is happiness, in a great part." [Richard Baxter in Ernest Kevan, The Grace of Law, p. 62]
"The 'do's and don'ts' are there only to guide us toward a better, happier life. Just as an owner's manual advises you not to put water in your gas tank,...the Bible instructs us to do certain things and refrain from...others because God knows the ULTIMATE OUTCOME of all our actions.... And just as you might be able to operate your car for quite a while without an oil change and not discern any appreciable difference..., further down the road the internal damage caused by your neglect will reveal itself.... Look where you are now. Look at your gay friends. Are they anywhere close to where you want to be? Just as the car whose buyer neglects to heed the owner's manual will eventually fall apart, so will the person who neglects the wisdom in the Word of God." [J. A. Konrad, You Don't Have To Be Gay, p. 170-171]
"All men would be happy, but few take the right way; God has here laid before us the right way, which we may be sure will end in happiness, though it be strait and narrow. Blessednesses are to the righteous..." [Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible III, p. 685]
"To say a man might disobey and be none the worse would be to say that no might be yes and light sometimes darkness." [George MacDonald: 365 Readings, p. 94]
"...Temporary relief...can lead to permanent misery." [Abraham Twerski, When Do the Good Things Start?, p. 56]
'"Well Jack,' said one who met a man who had" recently become a Christian, "'I hear you have given up all your pleasures.' 'No, no' said Jack, 'the fact lies the other way. I have just found all my pleasures, and I have only given up my follies.'" [C. H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit XXXVII, (1891), p. 64]
"Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness." [George Orwell in The Portable Curmudgeon, p. 133]
"...'Seek' carries the meaning of seeking earnestly, seeking intensely, living for it. And He ...enforces it by adding... 'first'.... That means...principally, above everything else; give that priority.... Many Christian people miss so many blessings...because they do not seek God diligently." [D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Sermon on the Mount II, p. 143]
"Because of our addictions, we simply cannot--on our own--keep the great commandments. Most of us have tried, again and again, and failed. Some of us have even recognized that these commandments are really our own deepest desires. We have tried to dedicate our lives to them, but still we fail. I think our failure is necessary, for it is in failure and helplessness that we can most honestly and completely turn to grace. Grace is our only hope for dealing with addiction, the only power that can truly vanquish its destructiveness." [Gerald May, Addiction and Grace, p. 16]
5. Where do homosexual temptations come from?
We must not blame God for our homosexual temptations, shaking our fists in His face and screaming, "Why have you made me this way?". God has not made us this way! We must admit that the problem is our own. It comes from within us as a result of a failed relationship with our same-sex parent and our defensive detachment from him or her. Once we acknowledge this truth, we can bring the resources of grace to bear on our struggle and begin our journey to freedom. Until then, we are doomed to remain stuck in our homosexuality.
6. Can I overcome homosexuality myself?
"...Can the Ethopian change his skin, which is by nature black, or the leopard his spots, which are even woven into the skin?... Sin is the blackness of the soul, the deformity of it; it is its spot, the discoloring of it; it is natural to us, we were shapen in it, so that we cannot get clear of it by any power of our own. But there is an almighty grace..." [Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible IV, p. 496]
"...The new sexual addiction groups...all begin with the first step of AA...--that I must...realize this is something that's taken over my life and I'm powerless. That has a direct parallel in our evangelical theology: 'Nothing in my hand I bring...helpless come to thee for grace.' Evangeli- calism is a theology of powerlessness.... We haven't always been...consistent in applying it, but those of us who sat through all those altar calls are no strangers to the admonition that if we think we can do something about our basic brokenness...we're on the wrong track. Spurgeon once said that if he told people to crawl back and forth from here to Rome on their hands and knees they would want to do it; but the hardest advice to take is that there is nothing you can do. That is what the...addiction models are picking up on.... It is a move toward the gospel rather than away from it." [Richard Mouw, "The Life of Bondage in the Light of Grace: An Interview," Christianity Today, (December 9, 1988), p. 44]
"After many years of pastoral ministry in which it has been my privilege to counsel people of varying races and cultures, I have come to a strong conclusion that the last thing we humans surrender to God is an admission of our helplessness to save ourselves." [David Seamands, Freedom from the Performance Trap, p. 112]
7. Does being a Christian enable me to overcome homosexuality by myself?
"'Lord,' said Augustine, 'deliver me from my worst enemy, that wicked man--myself.'" [C. H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit X, 1864, p. 409]
"Experts speculate that as much as ten percent of the total Christian population is sexually addicted." [Mark R. Laaser, The Secret Sin, p. 15] "A Leadership magazine survey revealed that twenty-three percent of the three hundred pastors who responded had done something sexually inappropriate with someone other than their spouse." [ibid., p. 63] "Our research indicates that probably no church of over 200 members is without its homosexual constituency." [Paul Morris, Shadow of Sodom, p. 26]
"Sin keeps house with us whether we will or not; the best saint alive is troubled with inmates; though he forsakes his sins, yet his sins will not forsake him." [Thomas Watson, Sermons, p. 27]
"The three things which we must insist on if we would share Paul's view are: first, that to grace always belongs the initiative--it is grace that works the change: secondly, that to grace always belongs the victory--grace is infinite power: and thirdly, that the working of grace is by process, and therefore reveals itself at any given point of observation as conflict.... The sanctifying action of the Spirit terminates on us, not merely on our activities; under it not only our actions but we are made holy. Only, this takes time; and therefore at no point short of its completion are either our acts or we 'perfect.'" [B. B. Warfield, Perfectionism II, p. 584]
"Anselm, seeing a little boy playing with a bird, he let her fly up, and presently pulls the bird down again by a string: so, saith he, it is with me...; when I would fly up to heaven upon the wings of meditation, I find a string tied to my leg; I am overcome with corruption..." [Thomas Watson, Sermons, p. 28]
"Flesh and Spirit...are opposites. They pull in opposite directions, 'that you may not do the things you wish' (5:17). Luther recalling Romans 7--'The good I would, I do not; the evil that I would not, that I practice'--took this to mean, 'that you may not do the good things you wish to do.' You will never shake off the flesh; you will never be able to move smoothly ahead, achieving all the good things you mean to do. This is true, but it is not the whole truth. 'The things you wish to do', you being the man that you are, may well be bad things; and the Spirit is at work to prevent you from doing them. The result is...a mixture of good and evil..." [C. K. Barrett, Freedom & Spirit, p. 76]
"Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven", and given grace to grow up into Christ bit-by-bit, day-by-day, in all things (Ephesians 4:15).
8. What about my own intelligence and determination?
Admitting powerlessness was a terrifying step for many of us--one we resisted strenuously. To admit powerlessness meant that we had to acknowledge that all our efforts at control were ineffective, but to abandon them seemed to invite chaos into our lives. What would be left to us if we let go of all our elaborate systems of control? Who would control us if we could not control ourselves? To admit powerlessness made us feel like fools and failures, and some of us had spent years trying to become strong to compensate for deep feelings of inferiority and inadequacy. To admit powerlessness meant that we had to trust others to help us, and many of us found tremendous difficulty trusting anyone because of unresolved childhood hurts. To admit that we were powerlessness was to admit our need of God, and many of us did not really want Him in our lives. So we continued our futile struggling.
"We do not have the ability in ourselves to accomplish the least of God's tasks. This is a law of grace. When we recognize it is impossible for us to perform a duty in our own strength, we will discover the secret of its accomplishment. But alas, this is a secret we often fail to discover." [John Owen, Sin and Temptation, p. 99]
"Charlotte Eliza Kasl says, 'Addiction is, essentially, a spiritual breakdown, a journey away from the truth into emotional blindness and death.'... As the thinking and the behavior of the addict moves further and further away from reality, thinking processes become impaired.... Sexual addicts become progressively dishonest, self-centered, isolated, fearful, confused, devoid of feelings, dualistic, controlling, perfectionistic, blinded to their disease (denial), insane, blaming (projection), and dysfunctional. In short, their lives become progressively unmanage- able." [Anne Wilson Schaff, Escape From Intimacy, p. 10-11]
"We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves." [Eric Hoffer in Laurence Peter, Peter's Quotations, p. 311]
I am "a branch intimately and vitally joined to the vine--not just tacked on to the vine, but actually a part of it. ...Just as the life of that vine flows naturally into the branch, so the life of Jesus Christ flows naturally into me.... But the analogies of the branch on the vine and the members of the body should not be pressed so far as to give the impression that we are passive in our union with Christ. Jesus told us...to remain, or to abide, in Him.... We must renounce all confidence in our own wisdom, power, and merit, instead looking entirely to Christ for what we need to live the Christian life. But what makes the looking to Him effective and fruitful is the fundamental fact that we are in Him.... That is what God has done in calling us into fellow- ship with His Son Jesus Christ. He has brought us into a vital relationship with Christ that is as intimate as the relationship of the branch to the vine and the body to the head. He has made us to share in the very life of Christ Himself." [Jerry Bridges, The Crisis of Caring, p. 32-33]
9. Can I depend solely on the wisdom of men to gain freedom from homosexuality?
Some of us were thoroughly confused because we had chosen to listen to people in the lifestyle, instead of to God. For a while, all seemed well. Then the pain, which inevitably comes from walking in ways contrary to God's will, overwhelmed us. At first, shame kept us from reaching out to God. Fortunately, the hurt got so bad that we finally said, "I will arise and go to my Father."
"Behavioral psychologist Joseph Wolpe was faced with a religious client who felt guilty about his homosexuality. Wolpe had to decide which behavior to extinguish--the homosexuality or the religious guilt. Rather than try to change the homosexuality, he chose to ameliorate the guilt... Psychology claims to work from a 'value-free' philosophy. However, decisions such as this-- to eliminate religious guilt--are in fact being made from another value hierarchy of the therapist's choosing.... Two interesting notes on this case: first, Wolpe said he made his decision based upon the belief that homosexuality was biologically determined. Second, the client later discovered heterosexual attraction on his own after undergoing assertion training, and married. Wolpe considered him to be cured of homosexuality." [Joseph Nicolosi, Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality, p. 15-16]
While there are people the Bible warns us not to listen to, there are others the Bible encourages us to heed. Many of us were too proud or too frightened to seek outside help, and so continued to suffer until, in desperation, we overcame our fears, swallowed our pride, and reached out to those who could offer godly help.
"I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it." [Edgar Allen Poe in R. Scott Richards, Myths the World Taught Me, p. 71]
Some of us, passive by nature, were ready to swallow anything we were told without responsible evaluation. All men are finite, and even the wisest and best can err; and, as sinners, men distort or even deny the truth. The Bible is God's touchstone by which we must test the teachings of men.
And even when men teach the truth, they cannot give us the strength to practice it. The Spirit of God must give us power if we are to live the truth we know. We should learn from others, but we must depend on God!
"In our present fallen condition it is impossible to...(think out) a standard of duty which shall be warped by none of our prejudices, distorted by none of our passions, and corrupted by none of our habits.... It is only of the law of the Lord as contained in the Scriptures that we can justly say, It is perfect.: [James Henley Thornwell, Collected Writings II, p. 457]
I John 4:1
"Everything in the railway service depends upon the accuracy of the signals. When these are wrong, life will be sacrificed. On the road to heaven we need unerring signals, or the catas- trophes will be far more terrible." [C. H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit XXXVI, (1890), p. 167]
10. Where can I turn for real help with homosexuality?
"Seek...him...as your oracle. Ask the law at his mouth. What wilt thou have me to do? Seek...him...as your portion and happiness; seek to be reconciled to him and acquainted with him, and to be happy in his favor. Be sorry that you have lost him; be solicitous to find him; take the appointed method of finding him, making use of Christ as your way, the Spirit as your guide, and the word as your rule.... It is implied that now God is near and will be found, so that it shall not be in vain to seek him... Now his patience is waiting on us, his word is calling to us, and his Spirit is striving with us.... But...there is a day coming when he will be afar off, and will not be found, when the day of his patience is over, and his Spirit will strive no more. There may come such a time in this life, when the heart is incurably hardened; it is certain that at death and judgment the door will be shut, Luke xvi.26; xiii.25,26." [Matthew Henry, Com- mentary on the Whole Bible IV, p. 319]
"The sinner thinks sin is his tool, but he himself is the tool of sin. Sin obtains the mastery of his affections and will, and when the galling chains are felt, and efforts made to break through them, the awful tyranny is realized." [George Reith, The Gospel According to St. John II, p. 17]
"Servitude degrades people to such a point that they come to like it." [Luc de Clapiers in A Treasury of Business Quotations, # 507]
"Men rattle their chains to show that they are free." [Laurence Peter, Peter's Quotations, p. 109]
"To deliver men from this bondage is the grand object of the Gospel. To awaken people to a sense of their degradation, to show them their chains, to make them arise and struggle to be free,--this is the great end for which Christ sent forth His ministers." [J. C. Ryle, "John," Expository Thoughts on the Gospels I, p. 540]
"The Son of God makes free all who believe on Him, by delivering the conscience from the sense of guilt, and the will from the power of sin.... Jesus has gained for us the son's footing in the Father's house by His merits. He has also put the son's heart into us by His Spirit. Con- fidence toward God, joy of access, assurance, and deliverance from the love and power of sin, all follow this twofold work of Christ for us and in us." [George Reith, The Gospel According to St. John II, p. 17-18]
"The Son makes you free (v. 36), so trust Him and follow Him. His truth makes you free (v. 32), so study it, believe it, and obey it. Satan imposes slavery that seems like freedom (2 Pet. 2:19); Jesus gives you a yoke that sets you free (Matt. 11:28-30)." [Warren W. Wiersbe, With the Word, p. 694]
It has been asked how the same man can, at the same time, be both "sold under sin" (Romans 7:14b) and "free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:2)? "Both...are indeed true of the Christian life, and neither is to be watered down or explained away. While the Christian never in this life escapes entirely from the hold of...sin, so that even the best things he does are always marred by its corruption, and any impression of having attained a perfect freedom is but an illusion...., the believer is no longer an unresisting, or only ineffectually resisting, slave, nor is he one who fondly imagines that his bondage is emancipation. In him a constraint...stronger than that of sin is...at work, which both gives him an inner freedom...and enables him to revolt against the usurper sin with a real measure of effectiveness. He has received the gift of the freedom to fight back manfully." [C. E. B. Cranfield, "A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans," The International Critical Commentary I, p. 377-378]
II Corinthians 3:5
"Addiction can be, and often is, the thing that brings us to our knees.... Addiction teaches us not to be too proud, Sooner or later, addiction will prove to us that we are not gods." [Gerald May, Addiction and Grace, p. 20]
"The spiritual life which I have is not my own. I did not induce it, and I cannot maintain it. It is only and solely the work of Christ. It is not I who live, but Christ lives in me. My whole life is His alone." [John Owen, Sin and Temptation, p. 83]
II Corinthians 12:7-10
Recovery "is an experience of being changed by a loving supportive God who knows what we need and helps us through our pain to see and give up our...selfish agendas and surrender to his.... At times we are excited and delighted witnesses to our...transformation. At other times we are immersed in pain and discouragement at the slow pace of change, but with less and less fear of such pain and more and more confidence that we will emerge on the other side of it in a better place, closer to God. ...The steps are most effective when taken in the context of...:
1. Attending...step meetings
2. Reading certain material
3. Praying and meditating
4. Accepting guidance from a sponsor (step coach) through the process of 'working the steps'
5. Giving away what one is finding."
[J. Keith Miller, A Hunger for Healing, p. 8]
11. Will I need the help of others as well?
"A partial solution to the sorrows of the lonely is found in the blessings of companionship. The central point made in v.9 is expanded in vv.10-12a with three illustrations; v.12b extends the principle further. Possibly all three illustrations are taken from the risks of travel; pits and ravines along the way (10), cold nights (11) and wayside marauders (12a). They highlight the blessings of companionship in error or mishap (10), adversity (11) or hostility (12a).... The move from two to three may...be a hint that there is nothing sacrosanct about the pair and that companionship may operate within larger numbers.... In some realms progress may be measured by increasing independence; in this realm spiritual stature is measured by growing interdependence." [Michael Eaton, "Ecclesiastes: An Introduction and Commentary," Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, p. 94-95]
"God has made no provision in the Bible for isolation. Scripture expressions all show a contrary state of things:-- We are
'branches' in the vine,
'members' in the body,
'stones' in the temple,
'brothers and sisters' in the family..."
[D. L. Moody, Notes From My Bible, p. 141]
I Thessalonians 5:11
"Recovery from addiction is the reversal of the alienation that is integral to the addiction. Addicts must establish roots in a caring community. With that support, addicts can stay straight as they struggle with a perspective for their lives." [Patrick Carnes, Out of the Shadows, p. 19]
Dr. Earl Henslin warns, "We are not made to do recovery alone. Yet it's especially tempting for those of us who are Christians to do everything we can to keep our problems to ourselves. Often Christians say, 'Jesus is my support group. I share my problems with Him.' Sharing our problems with Jesus is a good first step.... But it is also important that we feel the reality of Christ's care through relationship with other people who struggle with similar issues. Just as Jesus moved toward His heavenly Father and His friends when He was in Gethsemane, so also we need to move toward God and others." [The Way Out of the Wilderness, p. 137-137] He states, "...The primary way healing and change occur is through a support group..." [ibid., p. 127] "...I don't mean attending an occasional meeting. I mean...attending on a regular, weekly basis. This is a scary step. Many times a person will attend one support-group meeting, find something wrong with it, and write off all support groups.... The individual finds it easier to see flaws in the support group than to work through the pain and flaws in his or her life." [ibid., p. 146]
Drs. Ralph Earle and Gregory Crow write, "One of our patients came up to us after a group meeting recently and complained, 'I must not be getting much out of these groups. I'm always in turmoil when I leave.' ...This patient wanted recovery to be a comfortable experience. But we told him, and now tell you, 'That's the point of recovery programs.... Most (sexual addicts) need a thorn in the side, the voices of self-help groups or therapists, to keep them moving toward recovery and to prevent them from returning to their old ways of thinking and behav- ing.'" [Lonely All the Time, p. 212]
II Timothy 2:22
Jeffrey Keefe, who received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Fordham University, said: "In my judgment, Homosexuals Anonymous...provides the most effective program, because it combines needed group support which in turn fosters self-acceptance and self-insight, with the spiritual dimension essential for any radical change. Individual therapy may be needed to supplement group therapy." [in John Harvey, The Homosexual Person, p. 76]
David Neff, senior associate editor of Christianity Today, writes, "For those who wish to conquer their addiction and turn away from a homosexual orientation, there is Homosexuals Anonymous." [The Crisis of Homosexuality, p. 98]
12. What might keep me from getting the help I need?
Dr. Arnold Washton and Donna Boundy write, "...The four cardinal signs of addiction" are: (I) obsession; (II) negative consequences; (III) a lack of control; and (IV) denial "(1) that the ...activity is a problem they can't control and (2) that the negative consequences have any connection whatsoever to the...activity." [Willpower's Not Enough, p. 21-27]
"Clancy I., a well-known AA speaker from southern California, runs a mission for skid-row alcoholics in Los Angeles. He tells stories of holding many of them in his arms as they die from their alcoholism. And as they die, they protest, 'It wasn't the booze...'" [William Crisman, The Opposite of Everything Is True, p. 20]
Crisman describes his own experience. "...The use of booze and drugs was killing me... And even though I could rationally see that fact, I could not believe it because my gut told me that my survival depended on continuing to use the stuff. And the more dependent I became, the more I believed my gut." [ibid., p. 22]
"The healing of the blind man (in John 9) is presented as a parable of spiritual illumination. Thanks to the coming of the true light into the world, many who were formerly in darkness have been enlightened... But...some who thought they had no need of the enlightenment he brought ...turned their backs on him and, without realizing it, moved into deeper darkness.... Had they acknowledged their spiritual blindness and allowed him to remove it, they would have been blessed. Had they lived in darkness and found no way out into the light, their plight would have been sad but no blame would have attached to them. Blame did attach to those who, while liv-ing in darkness, claimed to be able to see... To be so self-deceived as to shut one's eyes to the light is a desperate state to be in: the light is there, but if people...reject it, how can they be enlightened? As Jesus said, their sin remains." [F. F. Bruce, The Gospel of John, p. 220-221]
"Many people have difficulty admitting...that any part of their lives has become unmanageable. We tend to think--perhaps because we like to think--that we are in control of everything." [Abraham Twerski, Waking Up Just In Time, p. 13] "The refusal to recognize that things have gotten out of control is called denial. Denial is not the same as lying, because in denial the person actually believes in his own distortion of reality." [ibid., p. 18] "Here is a good rule of thumb: If something causes a problem, it is a problem. Making believe that it is not will only allow the problem to continue." [ibid, p. 19-20]
Reviewing Nicholas von Hoffman's biography of the late Roy Cohn, Newsweek noted, "Cohn's homosexuality entered the public domain only after he died of AIDS in 1986. Cohn denied it to Mike Wallace on '60 Minutes' a few months before he died. von Hoffman....portrays Cohn travelling in a limo, accompanied by his current boy-friend, to deliver an address against gay rights before a 'Save the family' organization. This wasn't simple hypocrisy, von Hoffman suggests. He believes Cohn adhered to an earlier definition of (homosexuals)...as men who behaved effeminately. He didn't. Therefore he wasn't. In a stammering interview with Ken Auletta in the 70's, Cohn said, 'Every facet of my personality, of my, ah, aggressiveness, of my toughness, of everything along those lines, is just totally, I suppose, incompatible with anything like that...' Yet Cohn was extravagantly promiscuous, hiring male hookers almost nightly at $100 a shot." [Newsweek, (April 4, 1988), p. 69]
"When reality tries to tell you something, listen!" [Abraham Twerski, When Do the Good Things Start?, p. 14]
I John 1:8
"Did you ever watch babies put their hands over their eyes to hide from you? Infants think that when they cannot see you, you cannot see them... Like other forms of infantile thinking, this sometimes persists into adult life. There are people who believe that when they are oblivious to something, it simply does not exist." [Abraham Twerski, When Do the Good Things Start?, p. 18]
Consider the great Judy Garland (1922-1969). A fantastic singer, superb actress, star of stage, screen, and television, she could totally captivate an audience. She had everything people think will make them happy: talent, success, applause, money; she tried everything the world sug- gested to find happiness: parties, booze, drugs, sex (she had five husbands). And yet she was a tragic figure.
"Judy was still in her teens when she began being plagued by a weight problem. In an effort to contain her tendency to gain pounds, the studio put her on a strict diet and a doctor recom- mended pills. At the time, the strain of work began taking its toll on her nervous system, and before long she was living on pills; pills to put her to sleep, pills to keep her awake, and pills to suppress her appetite. By the time she was 21 she was seeing a psychiatrist regularly.... The news Judy made in the late 50s involved lawsuits, counterlawsuits, nervous breakdowns, suicide attempts..." [Ephriam Katz, The Film Encyclopedia, p. 467-468]
Her last husband, Mickey Deans, said she was "frightened, guilt ridden" "afraid of the dark, afraid of sleep, afraid of death" [Look, (October 7, 1969), p. 85]. Newsweek described her as "...the bruised and vulnerable woman of 47 who struggled to the other side of the rainbow and found nothing there" [Newsweek, (July 7, 1969), p. 19]
She was so unhappy she repeatedly attempted suicide. Her last husband said, "She must have tried it at least 20 times while we were married.... Someone had to be there every minute. We never dared to leave her alone" [Life, (July 11, 1969), p. 27]. But one night, when he fell asleep, she crept into the bathroom and took an overdose of sleeping pills.
And yet help was offered to her. British actress Joan Winmill Brown tells of a meeting at Debbie Reynolds' home. She writes, "I heard the door open and Judy Garland stood there. To see her face was quite a shock to me. Her eyes betrayed the years of agony she had gone through.... She hesitated and then began to walk toward the couch where I was sitting. I moved over, and she sat down next to me. Whispering introductions, we then turned our atten- tion to Billy Graham and listened as he told of God's inestimable love.
"Suddenly Billy turned to me and said, 'Joan, why don't you tell what has happened in your life?' All faces turned towards me. Judy looked at me and smiled that beautiful smile as if in encouragement.
"I began to tell of my innermost fears and longings, my breakdowns, and then my contemplated suicide. I told how the Lord had come in and given me hope where there had been nothing but despair, and how I was assured of His love in my life. After I finished speaking there was complete silence.
"Then I felt a hand on my arm. It was Judy's. 'That was beautiful, darling. But you see--you had a need. I don't have any need." [Joan Winmill Brown, No Longer Alone, p. 124]
MY EXPERIENCE WORKING STEP 1
I was always afraid to admit powerlessness over my homosexuality because I thought that to do so would mean the struggle was hopeless. If I could not bring my homosexuality under control, I felt I was doomed to its being forever out of control.
"But what about God?" you might ask. "Couldn't you go to Him for grace to help in time of need?" I tried. I accepted Christ, prayed, read my Bible, fasted, sought the fullness of the Spirit, went into Christian work, went to seminary, married--tried, yet there was no deliverance from lust and masturbation and, under heavy stress, I began acting out. And once I started there seemed to be no stopping.
Once, when one of the fellows I was involved with threatened to expose me, I determined to summon all my strength, seek God with all my heart, and stop. To continue in homosexuality was to risk my reputation, my job, my family, my very sanity! Yet despite my resolves and my prayers, I was back with the very same person in less than two weeks! On another occasion I saw a picture of another person with whom I had been involved a year after he had gone out of my life and burst into uncontrollable weeping from the pain of longing--longing for love, but a longing that was all mixed up with illicit sex.
And so I felt that God would not help me. I was sure that He was disgusted with me and, if I could not help myself, there was no help.
I was wrong, of course. The problem was not with God. My sin did not dim His love. My guilt was not too great for Christ's blood and righteousness. I was right to turn to Him, but wrong in my expectations of Him.
I expected God to deliver me all at once. He was waiting to heal me over time. This was not to torment me, but to teach me, to enable me to learn lessons about God, myself, and others which are enriching me immeasurably.
I expected God to deliver me without anyone else--just the two of us. He wanted to deliver me through His people. My problem is relational. It's a result of pulling away from my father and, later on, others. Its solution is relational. I must learn to reach out to others.
I was demanding a miracle. God wanted to use means--means that would fill the hunger for love left from my childhood failure to relate to my father.
To admit powerlessness is not, of course, a once-and-for-all act. It is a daily decision to reach out to God and to others when lonely, frightened, stressed, hurting, in need. When I follow God's will and reach out, I stand. When I forget, and draw back, doing things in my old way, I fall.
No one should expect this life to be easy. Everyone faces problems which sometimes over-whelm, but you need not face your struggles alone. God and His people are here for you. Begin reaching out. Why not today?
HOW YOU CAN WORK STEP 1
1) Order the brochure The Step Coach listed under "FOR THOSE WANTING TO GIVE OR RECEIVE HELP WITH HOMOSEXUALITY" in the "HA Book Ministry" list and, after you have read it, ask one of the senior members in your chapter to be your step coach. If you have no chapter, find a friend who will work this workbook with you and encourage you as you work the steps. Make yourself accountable to them for your progress.
2) In your journal, write out as many examples of powerlessness and emotional unmanage- ability as a result of your struggle with homosexuality as you can remember. Discuss your findings with your step coach.
3) List something you can do this week to reach out in a new way to God or to another human being. Share your decision with your step coach and ask him or her to monitor your progress.
4) Listen to the tape Power for Powerlessness and read the brochures Reach Out amd Power for the Powerless listed under "STEP 1" on the "HA Book Ministry" list. Read the material in Experience, Strength and Hope up to Step 2 while continuing to work in your workbook. Journal what you learn and share your findings with your step coach.
5) Memorize one of the verses you found helpful in this chapter.
I can not do it alone;
The waves run fast and high,
And the fogs close chill around,
And the light goes out in the sky;
But I know that we two shall win
in the end--
Jesus and I.
I can not row it myself,
My boat on the raging sea;
But beside me sits Another,
Who pulls or steers with me;
And I know that we two shall come
His child and He.
Coward and wayward and weak,
I change with the changing sky,
Today so eager and brave,
Tomorrow not caring to try;
But He never gives in, so we two
Jesus and I.
--The late Dan Crawford
Missionary to Africa