We came to perceive
that we had accepted a lie about ourselves,
an illusion that had trapped us in a false identity.
Who is the real me? That question haunted many of us for years. Homosexuality is not principally a sexual problem, but rather an identity problem. Where could we learn our true identity?
We knew we could not expect our feelings or thoughts to provide the answer because our past experiences had distorted them. Nor could we trust friends who shared our distortions. We were afraid that others who had not experienced our struggle could not understand. Who could we wisely and safely trust to show us who we were?
Over four hundred years ago, one of the Church's greatest teachers wrote: "...It is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God's face, and then descends from contemplating Him to scrutinize himself." [John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion I.i.2, p. 37]
God made our first parents in His image (Genesis 1:26,27). They knew God, understood them- selves, were comfortable with each other, and enjoyed a life of healthy love.
Sin changed all that. In place of the beauty which God intended came all the horrors humanity now knows. When we look at people in general, and at ourselves in particular, we no longer see the pure likeness of God. Instead we behold a mass of problems like cruelty, apathy, hatred, resentment, indifference, bitterness, rage, lust, rebellion, greed, immorality, envy, pride, deception, and a thousand other tragic distortions.
The Bible tells us that homosexuality is also a distortion. Scripture teaches that God's plan was for the sexual union of male and female (Genesis 2:24), not for the union of two males or two females (Leviticus 18:22,23).
Something has happened to us that led us to diverge from God's purposes. Where did we go wrong? How can we get back? These are the questions which the 14 Steps help us answer.
Because we understood that distorted ideas about God lead to a twisted concept of self, we began by looking on God's face through His Word and His Son. We found that God is not a distant ogre or a harsh tyrant. He is our loving Father who forgives and accepts us in spite of all (Step 2), our sovereign Lord who is working all things for our ultimate good (Step 3), and our mighty Savior who has delivered us from sin and Satan's power at great cost (Step 4).
As we have begun to better understand God, we are now ready to begin to better understand ourselves. First we must face the lie we have accepted (Step 5), and then we can embrace the truth we have missed (Step 6).
1. What is one source of the longings we sometimes feel?
"...Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee." [The Confessions of St. Augustine I:1]
Though we may have trusted in Christ and are completely loved, forgiven, and accepted by our heavenly Father; we may still keep Him at a distance and look for fulfillment elsewhere because of our fears and distortions. Thus we miss true satisfaction.
"In comparison with this big world, the human heart is only a small thing. Though the world is so large, it is utterly unable to satisfy this tiny heart. Man's ever-growing soul and its capacities can be satisfied only in the infinite God." [Sundar Singh in Elliott Wright, Holy Company, p. 170]
"Even earth's best and deepest well satisfies not." [Gems From Bishop Taylor Smith's Bible, p. 59]
"The blank space in the modern heart, said Julian Huxley, is a 'God-shaped blank.'" [James S. Stewart, Heralds of God, p. 55]
"We may go with the bee from flower to flower, but we shall never have full satisfaction till we come to the infinite God." [Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, p. 53]
2. What is God's attitude toward man now?
"God loves the unlovely, and it broke His heart to do it. The depth of the love of God is revealed by that wonderful word, 'whosoever.'" [Oswald Chambers, The Highest Good, p. 120]
The Bible speaks of God's wrath but assures us that God is love, always and unchangeably (I John 4:8; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). How can both be true? Since God loves us, He must react against the sin that is destructive to us and others.
Scripture teaches that God's wrath is revealed in handing men and women over to the full force of sin (Romans 1:18,24,26,28). God does not abandon them, but in tough love allows them to experience the results of their poor choices so that, as they look past the experience of pain and grief, they may come to recognize that God Himself is their only true friend and help.
3. Has God revealed Himself to humankind?
"Larry Maggard sent this poem to his mother in Isom, Kentucky, in a letter that arrived the same day as the telegram notifying his parents of his death:
'Lord God, I have never spoken to you,
But now I want to say: How do you do?
You see, God, they told me you didn't exist,
And like a fool, I believed all this.
'Last night from a shell hole I saw your sky;
I figured right then they had told me a lie,
Had I taken time to see things you made
I'd have known they weren't calling a spade a spade.
'I wonder, God, if you'll take my hand,
Some how I feel that you'll understand.
Funny I had to come to this hellish place
Before I had time to see your face.
'Well, I guess there isn't much more to say,
But I'm sure glad, God, I met you today.
I guess zero hour will soon be here,
But I'm not afraid since I know you're near.
'The signal! Well God, I'll have to go.
I like you lots, I want you to know.
Look, now, this will be a horrible fight,
Who knows, I may come to your house tonight.
'Tho' I wasn't friendly to you before,
I wonder, God, if you'd wait at your door.
Look, I'm crying! Me shedding tears!
I wish I'd known you these many years.
'Well, I'll have to go now, God. Goodbye.
Strange how, since I met you, I'm not afraid to die!'"
[Christian Times in James C. Hefley, A Dictionary of Illustrations, p. 301]
"An atheist is a man who believes himself an accident." [Francis Thompson in Laurence Peter, Peter's Quotations, p. 44]
"There are mountains all around the Betty Ford Center, blue-gray in the distance, massive and enduring. Once in a while even a patient who doesn't believe in God will admit that if you look at those mountains long enough, you start to suspect there's something out there greater than you..." [Betty Ford with Chris Chase, Betty: A Glad Awakening, p. 1]
"...When Helen Keller (who had been rendered permanently blind and deaf by illness at the age of nineteen months) was 10 years of age, her father asked Phillips Brooks to tell her about God. Gladly he did so, and the two corresponded as long as he lived. Brooks was 'profoundly im- pressed with the remark she made after the first conversation, that she had always known there was a God, but had not before known His name." [Andrew W. Blackwood, Expository Preach- ing for Today, p. 103]
"Two things fill the mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more intensely the mind of thought is drawn to them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me." [Immanuel Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, conclusion, The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, p. 284:4]
Though God has revealed Himself clearly in creation and conscience, He has revealed Himself most clearly in Scripture.
II Peter 1:19-21
"I want to know one thing, the way to heaven: how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this very end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book! I have it; here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be homo unis libri (a man of one book). Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone; only God is here. In His presence I open, I read this book... Is there a doubt concerning the meaning of what I read? Does anything appear dark or intricate? I lift up my heart to the Father of lights. Lord, is it not Thy word, 'If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God'?... Thou has said, 'If any be willing to do Thy will, he shall know.' I am willing to do Thy will; let me know Thy will." [John Wesley in Andrew Blackwood, Preaching From the Bible, p. 24]
4. How has humanity responded to God?
"It is natural for the mind to believe, and for the will to love; so that, for want of true objects, they must attach themselves to false." [Blaise Pascal, Pensees, #81]
"You can hear it over and over again--all kinds of secondary solutions to secondary problems. Of course these are problems, but they are not the central problem ...The real reason we are in such a mess is that we have turned away from the God who is there and the truth which He has revealed. The problem is that the house is so rotten that even smaller earthquakes shake it to the core." [Francis Schaeffer, Death in the City, p. 58]
"The fallen self cannot know itself. We do not know who we are, and will search for an identity in someone or something other than God until we find ourselves in Him." [Leanne Payne, The Broken Image, p. 149]
"Our world lies on the brink of disaster because we as people have turned our backs on the God who made us. Our only hope is to turn back to Him--one life at a time." [R. Scott Richards, Myths the World Taught Me, p. 41]
5. Who is behind such responses?
II Corinthians 11:3
"Every sinner is really the devil's drudge." [The Complete Works of Thomas Manton IV, p. 361]
II Thessalonians 2:8-10
"...If you despise God's truth you will fall in love with Satan's lie." [A. W. Pink, The Sermon on the Mount, p. 376]
II Timothy 3:13
"Other slaves are forced against their will...but sinners are willing to be slaves, they will not take their freedom; they kiss their fetters." [Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, p. 150]
"It is so stupid of modern civilization to have given up believing in the devil when he is the only explanation of it." [Ronald Knox in The World Treasury of Religious Quotations, p. 239]
6. What is the result of our abandoning the true God?
The Bible teaches us that our struggle is not something that deserves the wrath of God; it is part of the wrath of God which rests on all of fallen humanity. He did not hold us back from the sin we desired, but allowed us to run into evil, that the pain it brought might move us to return to His outstretched arms. "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is HIS megaphone to rouse a deaf world." [C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p. 93]
Romans says that when people turned from God, He gave them up to immorality (1:24,25), homosexuality (1:26,27), and various kinds of iniquity (1:28-32). "...We can use the parable of the prodigal son to illustrate what this means and what it does not mean. There the father gives up the son who forsakes him. In other words, the father lets him go; the Father in Heaven does not hold anyone back by force either.... But the Father does not forsake or abandon when He gives up: He waits and keeps watch for the one who has run away, waiting for him to turn back from his perversity, for the Father does not give up in order to destroy, but in order to save..." [Walter Luthi, The Letter to the Romans, p. 24]
God speaks of His wrath to urge us to receive the gift of His love, His Son (John 3:16; Romans 5:8), who offered His blood (Romans 3:24,25) "a wrath-removing or propitiatory sacrifice". [William Hendriksen, "An Exposition of Paul's Epistle to the Romans," New Testament Com- mentary I, p. 132] Jesus Christ is God's answer to God's wrath!
Having lost touch with God, we lost ourselves. "Many of us felt inadequate, unworthy, alone, and afraid. Our insides never matched what we saw on the outside of others.
"Early on, we came to feel disconnected--from parents, from peers, from ourselves. We tuned out with fantasy and masturbation. We plugged in by drinking in the pictures, the images, and pursuing the objects of our fantasies. We lusted and wanted to be lusted after.
"We became true addicts: sex with self, promiscuity, adultery, dependency relationships, and more fantasy. We got it through the eyes; we bought it, we sold it, we traded it, we gave it away. We were addicted to the intrigue, the tease, the forbidden. The only way we know to be free of it was to do it. 'Please connect with me and make me whole!' we cried with out- stretched arms. Lusting after the Big Fix, we gave away our power to others.
"This produced guilt, self-hatred, remorse, emptiness, and pain, and we were driven ever inward, away from reality, away from love, lost inside ourselves.
"Our habit made true intimacy impossible. We could never know real union with another be- cause we were addicted to the unreal. We went for the 'chemistry,' the connection that had the magic, because it by-passed intimacy and true union. Fantasy corrupted the real; lust killed love.
"First addicts, then love cripples, we took from others to fill up what was lacking in ourselves. Conning ourselves time and again that the next one would save us, we were really losing our lives." [From Sexaholics Anonymous, copyright 1985 by SA Literature. Reprinted by permis- sion.]
For some, "the sin against God's nature entails as its penalty sin against man's own nature." [E. H. Gifford, "Romans," The Bible Commentary IX, p. 66] "...The perversion of man's relation with God carries with it the perversion of his nature as it actually is." [Emil Brunner, Man In Revolt, p. 135]
Many of us, who could understand God giving us up to our own desires to draw us back to Himself, were still troubled by the question, "Why did I have these homosexual feelings in the first place?"
Some of us, having asked God for a miraculous release to no avail, and having struggled unsuc- cessfully against our feelings, came to the conclusion, "I'm homosexual and there's nothing I can do about it." We may have tried to blame our genes or our hormones, but we learned there is little or no scientific evidence to support such thoughts.
Experiments with hormones showed that increasing testosterone in male homosexuals, far from changing sexual orientation, simply increased their desire for sex with other men. In other words, increasing hormones did not make people less homosexual, it made them more so! [H. S. Barahal, "Testosterone in Psychotic Male Homosexuals," Psychiatric Quarterly XIV (1940), p. 319-329]
As Dr. William P. Wilson, who served as professor of psychiatry and as head of the division of biological psychiatry at the Duke University School of Medicine, says, "There is no evidence that genetic or hormonal factors play any role in the development of homosexuality." [Answers to Your Questions About Homosexuality, p. 156]
If our problem is not physical, why do we have this struggle? Dr. Elizabeth Moberly, a brilliant English research psychologist who received her Ph.D. from Oxford University, found "that the homosexual--whether man or woman--has suffered from some deficit in the relationship with the parent of the same sex; and that there is a corresponding drive to make good this deficit--through the medium of same-sex, or 'homosexual,' relationships." [Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic, p. 2]
For healthy development, a child needs love from its parent of the same sex. If that need goes unmet for a long period of time, the child develops mixed and contradictory feelings toward that parent and tries, through a process of detachment, to survive without the love he or she deeply needs. The emotionally hurt youngster says of the same-sex parent, "I don't want to be like you." These feelings are transferred to all members of the same sex so that the person exper- iences at the same time a deep desire for intimacy with people of the same sex and a strong fear of such intimacy. When puberty comes, with its strong sexual feelings, these feelings get con- fused with erotic intimacy and a homosexual struggle begins.
Homosexual behavior is a mistaken attempt to meet a real need for non-sexual, same-sex, parent-child love. This need is falsely understood as sexual, but homosexual behavior actually lessens the possibility of getting the real needs met because it involves guilt, deepens feelings of inferiority, tends to addiction, and increases the ambivalence experienced in same-sex relating. "There is an old Latin motto: Omne animal post coitum triste--all animals have hangovers after intercourse. Outside of permanent personal commitment, one is lifted from isolation for a few minutes and then dumped deeper into loneliness." [J. Rinzema, The Sexual Revolution, p. 98] Dr. Earl Wilson says, "The anonymous sex which many homosexuals exper- ience seems only to strengthen the reparative urge and leave the person more desperate." [Counseling and Homosexuality, p. 59] All this reduces a person's ability to have those healthy relationships with members of the same sex which are vital to coming to freedom from homosex-uality.
"Homosexuality is the kind of problem that needs to be solved through relationships. The solution of same-sex deficits is to be sought through the medium of...non-sexual relationships with members of the same sex.... It is the provision of good same-sex relationships that helps meet unmet same-sex needs, heals defects in the relational capacity, and in this way forwards the healing process." [Elizabeth Moberly, Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic, p. 42]
These thoughts challenged the ideas many of us had long tried to believe, and some of us found them frightening at first. As we reflected, however, we came to see that they were good news. They proved that we were not the prisoners of cruel fate or faulty genes or hormones. Our problem was not physical and unchangeable but psychological and relational. There was hope for us! If we would draw near to God, work through our hurts, and establish healthy relation- ships, we could be free! Dr. James Dobson says, "...Contrary to what you've heard, homosex- uality can be treated successfully when the individual desperately wants to change." [Love Must Be Tough, p. 163]
The Bible gave us an additional piece of good news. Many of us had heard that God held homo-sexuals in special contempt. Romans assured us that this is not so. We are not alone in our sinful condition. Since humanity as a whole has turned away from God, everyone has been given up to something! "...There is no difference: for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:22b,23). God counts us no less, but no more, sinful than others. All are equally under the judgment of God. All are equally in need of the Savior. All are invited to come to Him in faith and repentance. "The ground is level at the foot of the cross."
"Much of what we...call straight is...crooked by God's definition.... It isn't God's plan to lead you out of one lust into another. The process of change...involves an unlearning of the homo- sexual condition, and then a learning...of the heterosexual one. It is important to realize that much of what passes as normal heterosexual drive and desire is also fallen." [Ed Hurst with Dave and Neta Jackson, Overcoming Homosexuality, p. 92-93]
7. Could I have been deceived about my sexuality?
"'Being different' or having different interests than the majority of individuals of our gender is not the first sign of homosexuality. However, the intolerance that our society, or...our peer group, has for those differences....can...create a sexual problem... Dressing up in women's clothing is not an early sign of homosexuality.... The desire to be noticed by others of the same gender is also not a guarantee of homosexuality.... 'Everybody looks in the locker room.' It's ...part of the 'measure up' pressure that is such a part of our culture. That's true also of sexual experimentation. Statistics show that a large number of young adolescents have pleasurable same-sex experiences ranging from mutual masturbation to oral or anal intercourse. The notion that 'if you were REALLY straight then you wouldn't have enjoyed it' is false. As human beings, we react to physical stimulation.... Response to gay pornography is also not a sure sign of homosexuality. ...Most males are easily triggered sexually, so much so, that they are even slightly aroused at the sight of their own sexual organs.... The fact that a man or woman has not found 'real satisfaction' in a heterosexual experience can also indicate many things. If these experiences occurred outside...a...marriage relationship...they already have some built-in failure potential.... There's the insecurity of not knowing how long it will last. With no enduring commitment, there's more emphasis on performance rather than genuine intimacy. These and other factors can have a serious effect on...fulfillment..." [Ed Hurst, Homosexuality: Laying the Axe to the Roots, p. 27-28]
Dr. Christ Zoos, who teaches at New York Medical College and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and serves as the director of the New York Center for Short-Term Dynamic Psycho- therapy, writes, "When someone has a fantasy that is homoerotic in nature, the immediate response is 'I must be homosexual,' and most people react with consternation to that possibility. Homoerotic fantasies are commonly born of a craving for closeness with the parent of the same sex. Frequently people perceive their relationship with that parent as difficult or distant or cold or not the way they want it to be, and a homoerotic fantasy represents the desire for attention and warmth.... Sexual fantasies represent a need--one that can emanate from the distant past, the recent past, or the present. The thing to keep in mind is that the fantasy can be understood." [Think Like a Shrink, p. 130-131]
"As a lesbian who did come to be cured of it, four and a half years ago, I've been very interested in the answer (to the question can homosexuality be cured?), and, for two and a half of those years, I believed the answer was 'yes'... Part way through the therapy I changed to 'no,' based on what I was experiencing in the most intense homosexual relationship I'd ever had, and now, after almost a year of being free of the compulsive need to find a woman who wanted me, I know the answer is 'yes.'" [Anonymous, "Can Primal Therapy Cure Homosexuality?,' The Journal of Primal Therapy, (Vol. III, No. 2, 1976), p. 226-229]
And so we must decide whether we will follow our feelings and our fears or take our stand on God's Word the Bible!
"Sixty years ago I knew everything; now I know nothing; education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance." [Will Durant in Laurence Peter, Peter's Quotations, p. 173]
"The people of our world...pride themselves on what they know, but it is only educated ignor- ance." [Vance Havner, Day By Day, p. 189]
I Corinthians 3:18-20
"If ignorance is bliss, there should be more happy people." [Laurence Peter, Peter's Quotations, p. 260]
"Most ignorance is vincible ignorance: we don't know because we don't want to know." [Aldous Huxley in ibid., p. 261]
"I suppose that many might have attained to wisdom had they not thought they had already attained it." [Seneca, de Ira, Lib. iii. c. 36 in Charles Bridges, An Exposition of Proverbs, p. 26]
"See your need of Christ's teaching. You cannot see your way without this morning star.... The plumb line of reason is too short to fathom the deep things of God..." [Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, p. 170]
I Corinthians 8:2
"The first step towards madness is to think oneself wise." [Fernando do Rojas, La Celestina, 1499-1502 in The Oxford Book of Aphorisms, p. 246]
"...Unbelief is the mother of sin, and misbelief the nurse of it." [The Complete Works of Thomas Manton IV, p. 477]
8. What shall I do?
"His mercies are beyond all imagination; great mercies, manifold mercies..., tender mercies, sure mercies, everlasting mercies; and all is yours, if you will but turn." [Joseph Alleine, An Alarm to the Unconverted, p. 133]
"The lame man who keeps the right road outstrips the runner who takes a wrong one. Nay, it is obvious that the more active and swift the latter is the further he will go astray." [Francis Bacon in Laurence Peter, Peter's Quotations, p. 315]
"...There are two kinds of people one can call reasonable: those who serve God with all their heart because they know Him, and those who seek Him with all their heart because they do not know Him." [Blaise Pascal, Pensees, #194]
"Christ does not pull His sheep by a rope; in His army are none but volunteers." [E. Frommel in R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Mark's Gospel, p. 347]
"Do not stand off because of your unworthiness. ...Nothing can undo you but your own unwill- ingness." [Joseph Alleine, An Alarm to the Unconverted, p. 113]
MY EXPERIENCE WORKING STEP 5
Believing the lie was, for me, a process. There was the first stab of fear when, aged twelve, I was sexually aroused while playing strip poker with friends. Homosexual activity during my teenage years increased the distress. Recurring temptations after conversion and the failure of marriage to "cure" me strengthened anxiety. A return to homosexual activity under stress gave the lie real strength. The failure of a last, desperate attempt to free myself and the experience of crawling back to the very person who had threatened to reveal my secret life brought me to say, "I'm homosexual and there's nothing I can do about it." Only love for my wife and child- ren kept me from leaving them and embracing the lifestyle completely.
Recognizing and renouncing the lie was also a process. Illusions do not die easily! The process began as I "hit bottom" when I was exposed and lost my reputation, my family, my friends, and my job. It was then that I learned of a group of people who were finding freedom from homo- sexuality. Faith engaged the lie in battle and was strong enough to get me to move to Reading where I could be involved in HA and in counseling.
My counselor had come out of a homosexual struggle. That gave me hope and the feeling that here was someone who understood and could be trusted. As he gently helped me discover and resolve some of the hurts of the past which had produced my struggle, the power of homosex- uality over my life and the power of the lie diminished.
Through reading, I began to understand the why of this struggle. The lie draws its strength from confusion, but light dispels darkness and truth destroys error. As I learned that this was not a physical problem, but a psychological one, and found others who were changing, faith grew stronger.
I told my new pastor my story. He gave me his home and office phone numbers and urged me to call him any time I needed help. He went out of his way to make me feel accepted and cared for while quietly maintaining that homosexuality was contrary to the will of God. His loving support, wise recognition that recovery takes time, careful avoidance of any appearance of pressure, and firm faith that I would recover did much to dispel the lie.
The loving support I received from some of the men in my HA chapter and from several men in my church did much to meet the needs which had fueled my struggle, so the lie lost more ground.
A careful study of the Scriptures on sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular con- firmed what I was hearing and experiencing. And now faith was on a firm footing.
And so the lie, like fog before the wind, was dissipated by the Spirit of God. While it can still make itself felt in rare times of strong temptation, I can truthfully say that most of the time I wonder how I could ever have believed it, and I know it will never rule my life again.
HOW YOU CAN WORK STEP 5
1) Write an account of how you came to believe the lie that you were homosexual and there was nothing you could do about it in your journal. What have you done and what are you doing to escape it? What progress have you made? Discuss this with your step coach.
2) Listen to the tape Truth To Set You Free! and read the brochure Who Am I in Christ? under "STEPS 5 AND 6" in the "HA Book Ministry" list. Read Experience, Strength and Hope up to Step 6 while continuing to work in your workbook. Continue reading the book your step coach recommended to help you with Steps 1-7. Journal what you learn and discuss your findings with your step coach.
3) Memorize one of the verses you found helpful in this chapter.
Isn't it interesting how many men with same-sex attractions are attracted by "masculine" or "hetero-type" men and bash effeminate men? "Masculinity" is defined through its appearance - which pretty much comes down to muscular, hairy mature men with beards. That is just as distorted a picture of a man as it is to believe make-up, silikon and high heels will turn a man into a woman. Basically, this is a tragic symptom of a deeply-rooted gender identity disorder. The individual tries to find his masculinity either by trying to "look like a man" or at least by bonding with one (i.e. having sex with him). This will never make you a real man - quite on the contrary. It will make the gap between you and your masculine identity even bigger.