I’ve been told my life mirrors the classic profile. I don’t know about that, but I do know that the power of God’s love and forgiveness has transformed my life in a way that I never thought was possible. I had hoped, but never thought it was possible.
I am the second-born son into what would become a family of seven children, six boys and one girl. I came along when my older brother was two. Ever since I can remember, going to church every Sunday was a part of my life. I grew up in a Christian denomination, which gave me a basic understanding of the faith.
Some of my early memories of family life are happy ones, but for the most part, I was miserable as a child. I always felt that my older brother was favored. He was the one who seemed to get most of my Dad’s attention. After all, they both liked sports, and were good at them. I never was, though I tried to be. I didn’t feel accepted, and I was made fun of for my lack of athletic abilities. If we were playing a game that required teams, I was picked last. It just wasn’t any fun being a boy; it was too hard.
I never had a strong emotional connection to my Dad when I was young. His job often took him out of town from Monday to Friday, and his weekends were filled with shopping with my Mom, errands, and sports on TV. That was a plus for my brother, but not for me. Mom didn’t drive, so she was around almost all the time. Most of my parental input came from her. She has been a woman of Godly character all of my life. I know now my parents loved me and did everything they knew to do to raise me properly. But it wasn’t always that way. I used to think the only reason they clothed and fed me was because they’d get arrested if they didn’t. I think that I was just such a challenge for them; they weren’t sure what do to with a son who wasn’t good at and didn’t like to do “boy things.”
The pain of feeling like I never fit in my family or measured up to earn Dad’s love and acceptance drove me to find those things wherever I could. At first, I began playing with girls in the neighborhood. They were my age and I seemed to fit in with them. I found, though, that the boys in the neighborhood were just as cruel then as they had been before. Even the parents got in on it. There was one set of parents who decided that it just wasn’t normal for me to be playing with girls, so they decided that instead of calling me by my given name Danny, they would call me Mary Jane. It is unimaginable to me now that a parent would inflict this kind of cruelty on a child, just for the sake of ridiculing him.
Sometime before the age of ten, I discovered playing “doctor” with the girls in the neighborhood. These were my first sexual experiences. No one knew, and it seemed I had found in a special and secret way the acceptance I was craving. We moved from that area of town when I was eleven into a newly-developing subdivision. Making new friends seemed easier there, but I was still insecure and often had feelings that I didn’t fit in.
To compensate for my lack of sports abilities, I had gotten involved in singing, acting and dance as a child. I was good at these things, and I enjoyed them. I took great satisfaction in an audience applauding me. Onstage, I could feel some sense of worth, acceptance and appreciation. One night when I was 13, on the way home from one of my lessons, I had one of those life-changing experiences. The bus I took only came out so far toward my house, so I would walk the rest of the way. One night I decided to hitchhike. A man I didn’t know picked me up and sexually molested me. He introduced me to masturbation. I was so scared; I froze for what must have been several minutes. When I finally came to myself and could speak, I asked him to stop and let me out of the car. He stopped the car, and as I was getting out, he said, “Now you be careful; you never know who’s going to pick you up.” I slammed his car door and ran the rest of the way home.
I didn’t tell my Mom what happened that night when I got home, out of breath. She asked if I was OK, saying that I looked white as a sheet. I told her I was fine, but I wasn’t. Not telling my parents what happened that night and keeping it a secret, was probably the biggest mistake of my life. I didn’t tell because I was too afraid of getting into trouble for hitchhiking. How was I to know that the devil would use the secrecy of that horrible experience to torment my mind and my life for many years to follow?
As one might expect, following that experience and keeping it a secret, my high school years were a mixed bag of emotional ups and downs. Still attracted to girls, I dated whenever I could and had several girl friends. But I found myself sexually attracted to boys and men, and sometimes acted out sexually with guys my age. I knew in my heart that was wrong, but I didn’t know what to do with those feelings and I certainly couldn’t tell anyone about them. About two-thirds of the way through my senior year, after I was dumped by my girl friend for my best friend, I went to hear a couple of kids I knew from school give a talk. They shared about how asking Jesus to live inside their hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit was changing their lives. They said their new relationship with Jesus as their personal Savior gave them a purpose for living. I jumped at the chance to have a better life, because I sure wasn’t enjoying the one I had up to that point. So on Friday night, February 27, 1970, I asked Jesus to come into my heart, save me, be the Lord of my life, and change me so that I would become who I was created to be.
My life changed immediately for the better. There was like a honeymoon time, when everything seemed to go perfectly in every area of my life. I thought sexual thoughts were gone for good, but they soon came back. In fact, it seemed like it was worse than before. How could that be? Jesus was living inside me; how could I be thinking all of these awful things, and how could I be getting tempted to do sexual things that were abhorrent to me?
As a young adult, I was leading a double life. I had my circle of Christian friends and those I went to church with, but also I was progressively getting involved in more varied sexual activities with myself and with guys I didn’t even know. I tried to get help, but no one, not even my pastors, seemed to know what to do with someone like me. As much as I knew how, I was totally committed to the Lord, but also driven by temptation to sin sexually, I was dating Christian women, but I was also having anonymous sex with men. I was engaged twice, but I ended both of those relationships before marriage. One of the breakups was directly related to my sexual acting out.
By the time I was 30 and still single, I had convinced my pastors that my sexual problems were behind me. I met the woman who is now my wife and got married when I was 31. Again, I thought my sexual problems would be solved by being married. Afraid of being rejected, I had chosen not to tell my wife about them. For a long time I was able to refrain from acting out sexually, but eventually I gave in, and the whole sin cycle surfaced again. By this time I was working at a job that required traveling. Being away from home like this was always difficult for me, and often I gave in to the temptation. After 10 years of marriage, with my secret still intact, I was crying out to the Lord on the way home from a business trip. I had acted out again, in a particularly bad way, even for me. The Lord spoke to my heart and said that it was time to confess to my wife about my sin. That created a lot of fear in me.
I knew that I had given my wife enough Biblical and civil grounds to divorce me and kick me out of my home that she and I had made for our three sons. But I knew I had heard the word of the Lord. I went to my pastor and confessed to him that I had not been as pure as I had led him to think and that I believed the Lord was directing me that it was time to tell my wife. He and I began to pray that God would prepare her heart and that I would know the right time to come clean. When the time came, I found the Lord had indeed prepared her for my confession. Since that time, though there were some initial obstacles to overcome, she has been so much more loving and supportive than I could have ever hoped for.
At this same time, we began to realize that I was addicted to sex, the same as someone would become addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling or food. By then, my addiction had taken me into homosexual sin, heterosexual sin, masturbation, voyeurism, magazine pornography, obscene phone calls, inappropriate conversations, strip clubs, x-rated movie theatres, and inappropriate touching. I began looking for some type of support group. I knew that there had to be other men who were committed to the Lord, but caught in the trap of homosexual sin as I was. I attended a secular 12 step recovery group for sex addicts for a year, unable to find something Biblically based. After that first year, I found exactly what I was looking for. I attended weekly meetings with other men who were just as I was, and committed to the Lord’s standard of sexual purity. This group had begun at a church in my city while I was attending the secular group. When I found out about the Biblically based group, right away I began attending it, and did so faithfully for another five years, leading it the last year it was in existence. Being in a support group with other Christian men who could hold me accountable for my sexual behavior, I found it was the perfect fit for my recovery from this addiction, which had ensnared me for so many years. That group ended in the spring of 2000. Then, a few months later, I was asked to join another group hosted by the same church. This group is for men who are trapped in general sexual addiction, not just homosexual sin. I have attended this group since its inception for my own ongoing recovery and sobriety, and for the first 7 ½ years functioned as one of its official facilitators.
The Lord led me into ministry in 2003. Father was prompting me to become a part of a ministry team to bring hope-for-change to men who battle sexual addiction through unwanted same-sex attractions. I held a staff position with a Lexington-based ministry for 4 ½ years and then in December 2007 at the Lord’s leading, I resigned that position. After seeking Father’s direction with my wife and Pastor a few months for my next assignment, He led me to begin a new ministry called Abba’s Delight, Inc based in Louisville. Founded in April 2008, it also focuses on those troubled by unwanted same-sex attractions, as well as bringing the message of Father’s love combined with learning to lead a structured and disciplined lifestyle towards righteousness and maturity in becoming a productive and fruitful citizen of the Kingdom of God. This ministry continues to thrive today at Father’s blessing as an Exodus International Member Ministry.
I never thought I could live without being miserable. I never thought I could find love and acceptance the way God intended. I never thought I would ever get past the shame and anger of being molested. I never thought I could ever know what “normal” is. I never thought I would ever find sexual purity.
God was calling me to be His own, His son. God was calling me to grow up to be a man, even though I had such a messed up sexual identity as a child. God was calling me to be a husband. God was calling me to be a father of three sons, whom I could teach to become men of God. God was calling me not just to be a survivor, but an over-comer. And He is calling me to impart to other men what I am learning on His journey.
Now unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 24,25
Daniel is the Executive Director of Abba’s Delight, in Louisville Kentucky.