Are we to continue to struggle with Same-Sex Attractions?

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I will not attempt to get into the current battle on theology that surrounds Exodus and Alan Chambers.  I do not believe you can lose your salvation, but honestly, there are many scriptures that cause me to draw short of proclaiming absolute confidence to any unrepentant person.  I do not understand the unrepentant ‘gay Christian.’ This has never been my story, but admittedly the culture has drastically changed since I walked away some 21 years ago.  I do believe that after receiving Christ as Lord I would have received Heaven and not Hell even during my time of struggling and failing.  I have seen so many passionate men and women pursue Christ as Lord though deeply struggle with continuing same-sex attractions.

I have always been very honest with my clients and when speaking publicly about my life and realistic expectations. However, this is the most transparent article I have ever published. I credit this to Alan Chambers and his own personal openness and Exodus’ new shift in communication and leadership.

All my young life I felt different from other boys.  I was not close to my father or any boys and lived in the shadow of my older sister.  Sadly, I had no real friends; I was a loner.  I was so confused in my gender that I secretly dressed in my sister’s clothes.  The first time I did this, I was five years old and my father found me.  He tried unsuccessfully to shame me out of what I was doing.  I wondered what it was like to be her.  I didn’t know what a ‘boy’ was to supposed to feel like.  This became a compulsion that I secretly practiced through age twelve.  Fortunately, and oddly, this ended before I reached puberty and did not follow me into teen or adult life.

I started a new school in fifth grade, and was called gay, sissy, fag, and best of all, McGay from the very first day of school through many days afterwards.  Eventually it died down, but the labels and my feelings were building blocks built upon not understanding maleness and a lack of relationship with my dad and other boys.

I had been so envious of other strong males that it became full blown coveting and when puberty started at age 13, it developed into fantasy.  Still to this day, I remember sneaking for the first time into a drug store to look at a Playgirl magazine and the image I saw.  This was back before wrappers were put on pornography. I had seen just enough to create a full-blown fantasy in my mind that was fueled by a raging addiction to masturbation.  This was long before the internet, and gay culture was still fairly secretive.  Our culture was not promoting any gay “role models,”  so as far as I knew, I was the only one that felt the way I did.

Just after turning 19 years old, I was propositioned by a 40 year old gay man.  Once I was introduced to gay sex, pornography, gay bars, and gay friends, I was addicted right away.  I still didn’t know what it felt like to be a ‘guy,’ but it seemed like I had been fully indoctrinated into a gay guy’s life.  I lived that way for the next three and a half years.  At age 22, I got saved.  Though I had been raised in church, I had never trusted Christ as Lord.  I didn’t think through all the implications of giving my life over to Christ at the time.  I believed homosexuality was wrong, but it was all I knew.  I wanted what I saw in other Christians.  I also wanted a wife and children.  I didn’t know how any of it would play out, but I believed that giving my life to Christ was the first step that frankly I didn’t think through but simply walked forward to surrender to Him.  It was all God.  He drew me to Himself that day and all the days that had led up to that decision.

I remember thinking right after accepting Christ as Lord, “What will I do with all my gay friends?”

I heard back in my head, “Don’t worry about that.”

I thought, “Okay.”  And I didn’t…not until I got home.  But when I asked God for direction, He led me each step of the way and has to this day.  There has never been a day that I didn’t know what to do, because the Lord has been there to show me the way.  He’s either shared directly to me through His Spirit in my mind and heart, through godly counsel, through His word, or through my spirit being made alive in Him.

On the day I accepted Christ, I left homosexuality, it didn’t leave me.  What does this mean?  The Lord showed me that if I was to have a wife and children and follow Him as Lord, I had to leave the homosexual lifestyle that I had created.  Did that mean that my same-sex attractions would leave?  I don’t know that this was even on my mind.  I was mostly concerned about understanding my past and figuring out what a man was and how to be a man of God.

At the Lord’s leading, I threw away all my porn, ended all my gay relationships, and told my family everything.  I got involved in church and told people my story as the Lord led me.  Despite all my efforts, I was addicted.  I didn’t understand men, and I had strong same-sex sexual attraction.  I fell many times in the early days, though I never returned to the gay clubs.

In the ensuing years, some days brought more intense struggle than others.  After Julie and I married, I had a onetime sexual fall- with a man.  I hate that I caused this pain to my wife who I love so much.  At the time, I feared she would leave me.  I had already studied a great deal on the issue of homosexuality and had gone through years of counseling and a support group of the local Exodus ministry.  After my failure, I got back into counseling and group, and my wife and I went to our first Exodus conference.  She was good enough to forgive me, but it took work, time, and healing for us both.  That was over 15 years ago, before the idea of this ministry had begun.

I’d like to report that I have finally completely beaten my same-sex attractions, but the reality is that I do still struggle.  However, I am nowhere near where I was 21 years ago or 14 years ago.  I am even further along than I was last year!  I’m in a very good place today.  Though I still struggle, I’ve learned to be able to appreciate a man’s appearance without it becoming lustful.

Does it bother me that I still struggle with these lingering attractions?  Sure.  However, some of my very godly ‘ever-straight’ friends struggle just as much in their heterosexual lust of women (other than their wives) as I do in my area of struggle.

What’s the difference between their struggle and mine?  Simply put, my ongoing struggle is not socially acceptable.  The church expects us to ‘change’ from homosexual inclinations to heterosexual inclinations, and they aren’t just looking for us to have a wife or to be celibate and cease homosexual practices, they expect us to reorient our (visual) attractions.  They believe that this is possible.  It’s interesting that most of the people that hold these concrete philosophies either have never struggled with this issue, or secretly still struggle themselves.  They leave no room for the truth.  Many who have claimed complete ‘deliverance’ who are found to still struggle, end up leaving this type of ministry and the public eye, if they were in such, have huge failures, or sometimes give up completely and immerse themselves in gay culture.  They typically make changing one’s attraction such a focus that devotion to Christ plays a secondary role.  Alan Chambers rightly stated that “change has become an idol for many.”

Does this mean that attraction alteration is not possible?  Absolutely not!  I know many women and have met some men that do claim to no longer struggle in any way. Women typically have different areas to overcome than men. I was ready for marriage, but many that marry may not be at such a point. Some may marry in an attempt to bring change rather than as a result of healing. I was very emotionally, physically and sexually attracted to my wife prior to our marriage. I still am today.

God did not intend for us to struggle in our gender development.  However, we live in a fallen world.  We weren’t born into perfect families, we didn’t have perfect childhoods, some of us were more sensitive than others, and many of us had very little self esteem or accomplishments to claim.  Regardless of actual physical beauty, many struggle with ongoing feelings of being less attractive than others or not being satisfied with our bodies.  We look to others, wishing we had this or that feature.

I used to think it was gay to admire other men and be envious of them and their physiques.  Today, I’ve learned from many heterosexually oriented men that they deal with this very same thing.  I’ve found that this is common among men no matter where their attractions are directed.  Either way, it is our responsibility to “Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ Jesus.”  I confess my thoughts and do not consider them private to myself.  If I click on something online that I shouldn’t, I confess it.  Whatever it is that I know I should not think or do, I confess.  For many, this may sound like legalism.  Others may say that I’m not truly healed.  Both of those may be true.  For me though, it’s my reality.  And I’m okay with that.

My struggles do not rule me.  The Lord set me free in so many ways, but this one issue I continue to have and may until my last breath.  So, what is freedom?  What is healing?  What is change?  Today, I am a man among men.  Typically, I am not intimidated like I used to be.  I am mostly very confident.  I am not defined by this struggle; frankly it doesn’t play that big a role in my life day to day.  I am thankful to have such an incredible wife that I love completely.  Thankfully, I have no secrets with my wife.  I am also thankful that I have godly men that I am in fellowship with to the most intimate detail.

I pray that we will be able to be honest with each other – locally in our families and churches, and nationally with our church and ministry leaders.  I pray that the world’s view or even the church’s view of what a ‘godly man’ is would not be sexual attraction to every beautiful woman on the planet, but to be able to be who God is growing us to be.  Can it be enough that we are attracted to and satisfied with our wives?  Can it be enough to be married to Christ in celibacy as a single person?  Can we give each other room to grow in Christ and not set unrealistic or worldly goals?  I do not believe that we will see a day that will be without struggle or temptation, but Christ is sufficient for my every need.  Paul wrote that God’s power is made complete in our weakness.

The Apostle Paul wrote “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”  – 1 Corinthians 10:13

While homosexuality didn’t leave me, because of my faith and trust in Christ, God still gives me the power daily to leave it.

 

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