| The Cost of "Coming Out"
By Terry Murphy
Why does it seem so few people come forward for healing from homosexuality? Why do some simply declare it cannot be done and resist even trying? Let us understand the price someone must pay to come out of homosexuality. Perhaps then, we can be more encouraging to those who have not yet entered the race, more patient with those who press all the way through to the finish line.
The Roots Run Deep
First of all, homosexuality doesn't appear out of nowhere. Nor is it like a disease that has one specific causal agent. It flows out of repeated defensive responses of the heart to the threat of pain and danger. The choice the heart makes in deciding how to react to injury determines how the person will eventually relate to both himself and others.
Events threatening and painful enough to lead to homosexuality can range from the taunting and snubbing of playmates to the openly hostile and abusive actions of family members and authority figures. These events may be real or simply misinterpretations of a young heart. (A child whose parent regularly travels for a living, for instance, may react as though he or she was being perpetually abandoned or rejected.) A person may turn to rebellion, emotional manipulation, over-compliance or other devices to keep his or her world under some control. Traumatic events(real or perceived, isolated or chronic) drive many to seek relief by finding a way to hide from, appease, or punish the pain giver while reaching out to obtain from others what was missing or unfulfilled in this relationship.
For example, a boy perceives himself as rejected or hurt by a significant male in his life(let's say his father). He responds by forming a judgment against Father, accounting him guilty. If this boy is unable to let go of his judgment and forgive (though the father may not "deserve" forgiveness), anger and bitterness develop. This anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, and /or judgment against Father can eventually become generalized to include males in general. At the same time he tries to reject Father, he begins expending more and more of his energy trying to develop "acceptable" masculine idenity with other male figures.
Suppose Mother abuses her daughter. Daughter responds by becoming openly rebellious. She chooses to reject the feminine role, because of Mother's representation of it. Disillusioned with her own mother, she tries to find a mother's love and acceptance with some other woman. Mother may have sinned in abusing her daughter, but now the Daughter sins in her judgment and rebellion, and will reap a harvest from it, which may include getting herself trapped in the lesbain lifestyle.
A Total Restructuring of Some Basic Concepts Will Be Involved
These adverse experiences usually occur early in life, developing habitual patterns of reacting inappropriately to potential pain. By the time he or she reaches adolescence or adulthood, the person may no longer remember ever having made a decision to judge, choose or rebel, but the reflex to do so is, by now, ingrained and routine.
And individual's perception of "mother", "father", "authority", "love", "masculine", or "feminine" can be totally distorted because of a false standard act by abusive authority figure or significant "other". However these roles were originally confused, fresh, authentic definitions must be established in the seeker's mind if real change is to happen, and he or she is to avoid falling into the same behavior traps. Restructing these concepts as a process, not simply a decision, and rarely has a short cut.
Facing Up to Sin is Not Pleasant
The only accurate, unbiased definition of right and wrong is found in what is the "perfect law of liberty" in James 1:22-26. The reason so many have trouble reading the Scripture is because, in them we see ourselves (this is why James calls it a mirror). This is not always a pleasant sight, but if we want true fulfillment in satisfaction with life, we must not only keep looking into that mirror, we must choose to respond to what we see according to God's instructions.
The Scriptures are clear on homosexuality. Leviticus 20:13 states that "if a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death.Their blood shall be upon them."
Romans 6:23 tells us that "the wages of sin is death". God is against homosexuality, but not just because it "bothers" Him, but because like all other sin, homosexuality destroys people. Because so much underlines it, stopping homosexuality is more than stopping one sin, stopping one behavior. It is facing up to sin after sin, obtaining healing after healing, forgiving person after person. This is a progressive journey of learning right and healthy responses, unlearning wrong and unhealthy reflexes, and developing a whole new concept of life!
Change Has A Cost
People fall into sin because it brings them easy, familar comfort in a way that feels safe. Change will not happen until someone yearns for change more than he or she yearns for comfort received from the old patterns. Obtaining lasting and healthy comfort involves completely loosing the surrogate comfort one was using before. Enduring transformation involves burning bridges to this old comfort, and that leaves you lots of room for defeat.
People seeking freedom from homosexuality have a special need for a support system to undergird them. The price of change for them involves completely giving up and letting go of what they thought they were, not just what they were doing. The bridges that they must burn almost always involve deeply rooted relationships. Change will cost them all the "love" they thought they knew for the promise of a better love they've, as yet, never been able to receive.They will need to have someone standing by, on the new side of the river, as they light the fuses to destroy the power of the bridges to the past. They will need not only like-minded seekers with whom to relate, they will need "straight" friends to stand by and make them feel part of a world that has always seemed foreign to them.
It Will Take The Grace Of God To Finish The Race
Accepting the fact that God considers homosexuality wrong, and yearning hard for change is not enough to work escape, however. If knowledge of sin and danger was enough, no one would be smoking any more, unhealthy diets would change over night, and anyone who heard that homosexuality was wrong or unhealthy would simply drop the habit.
Paul understood that neither knowledge of right and wrong, nor will power was enough to save him when he pondered, "What I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not Practice: but what I hate, that, I do ...to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice...Oh wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God -through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 7:15-25)
Having discovered his or her sin, the homosexual can become stuck. One cannot change oneself. One must humble himself to the truth that abiding change will only happen if God himself helps; and for this, God has a promise. If a person will continue to face the truth, accept thier need for mercy, and turn to obedience, God promises that He will sovereignly see to it that he or she will succeed. "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ". (Philippians 1:6) Jesus, thankfully, is not only the author but also the finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
It Can Be Lonely
With all the promise of forgiveness, healing, and help that God gives in His Word, the journey out of homosexuality can still be a lonely one. As soon as someone announces a desire to change or find healing, he or she will no longer fit in with the homosexual community. At the same time, it may be a long interval before the seeker yet feels a natural part of the heterosexual community. Such a person faces the prospect of becoming a person "without a country", of sorts, unless he or she has understanding and supportive fellowship around him throughout the change. The prospect of impending loneliness and the fear of rejection, the very things that probably drove him or her into homosexuality to be begin with, can keep a person stuck between to worlds, happy in neither.
A support group filled with others who have "been there" can make a critical difference in success. When one person's spirit is weak, others can encourage him not to give up. Where one is ignorant of the pitfalls, others, who have been down this road before, can give warnings.(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) says, "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken."
" Coming out" of the closet may bring some a temporary sense of relief at escaping secrecy; but it does not heal what has been broken, it does not bring satisfaction to a soul hungry for real love and acceptance, it does not make the person any more comfortable with their own gender indentity. In the end, "coming out" of the closet takes people out of hiding, but keeps them trapped in their pain, anger, frustration, and sin.
"Coming out" of homosexuality, because it involves such a process of forgiveness and forgiving, mercy and healing, brings relief. satisfaction, and finally gender contentment to those who press all the way through to the finish line. The price is high. The risks are great, but change is possible. The number of support groups and resource available are greater and easier to find tham ever before. The number of people entering and finishing the race to leave homosexuality behind increases daily. Their lives and, more than ever before, their voices testify that immeasurable value of the healing and freedom they have obtained far outweighs the price they paid to change.
Getting Real with Attractions
I need you. I want you. What was your name again?
1. Being attracted to someone of the same gender is not a sin. It is the starting place for your journey into healing. Let that sink in. Guilt, shame, and condemnation don’t help and they are not from God. Let them go and move forward. The next attraction will give you important information if you stop to look for it.
2. Find out what you really need. This is behind the attraction. Look away and look inside yourself. Is it a craving to be held, to be close, to get a sense of worth or strength from someone outside yourself? Perhaps this person represents who you want to become. They may represent who you already are, even if you’re unaware of it. The attraction is delivering the news.
3. Stop right there. Quickly going from attraction to sexual desire may not be what you really want even if it has become a habit. Your deepest needs may not be for sex at all. Find a way to get what you really need. That person could be a good friend. Or just another fine example of the image in which we are all created.
(adapted from A Realistic Approach to Attractions by Alan Medinger)
When 100% of my sexual thoughts were homoerotic, there was 100% no control over that situation. There was no choice in the matter. And also, I had no choice about acting on those impulses. As for sobriety, there was no such thing for me. If a desire/impulse hit me, I was powerless to stop it. I had to act on it. There was no choice. It was literally impossible for me to stop. It was a horrible nightmare.
But then one day, I started to see what was underneath those desires, and the compulsion. I never had a sense of connection with a man. I never felt loved by my father. Instead, I felt ignored. The emptiness inside me was so painful, the longing to be loved was so intense. I cried and cried. Literally, I'd lived my whole life longing to be loved by a man. Yet,I never was. And, I was never going to be. The time of being loved by a father with a wholesome, non sexualized love... was over. I can never replace the love of my father with any behavior. The acute pain of that desire going unfulfilled is intense anguish.
I used drugs, alcohol, pornography, and massive amounts of homosexual sex to try to either get numb, or to try to at least temporarily have the illusion of having any connection with any man. I could at least have the illusion of being loved for a short time until the effect of the sex wore off. Then the emptiness would return, oftentimes worse than before I acted out. Because sex is just sex. It isn't love. And it for sure it isn't a love that will fill a void left by not having a father.
All compulsions are caused by, or driven by immense pain. In my case the pain of a longing for love that forever will go unfulfilled. My father died when I was nine. There is no possibility of him ever loving me, of ever feeling loved by him. The pain of having an unmet longing for love is excruciating. Long ago, when I had that insight... I collapsed in tears... I cried for years... literally for years at least a half an hour to an hour or more a day. Sometimes deep, uncontrollable sobbing type crying. Sometimes just starring into space with tears running down my face.
Once I had those insights into the underlying pain, the power of any compulsions, whether sexual compulsions or other compulsions to do drugs or to self harm, they started to fade and eventually went away.
Imagine a child wanting to be loved by their father ... or by any father figure. But the love never arrives, the feeling of being loved never happens. Then when a man does finally pay attention to you, he uses you to gratify his own sexual desires. Now, you are isolated from everyone else. You can't tell anyone because you've been told not to, or because no one wants to hear. So, now you're isolated in your own soul longing for anyone to love. But, that love never comes. That's why I ask: "what are you really looking for?"
Maybe I am wrong. But for me, until I dealt with that intense pain in me. Until I fully grieved the loss of a love that I will never have... until then homoerotic desires remained. But once I started to grieve the loss of the love of a father that I will never have... once that process started ... the POWER OF THE COMPULSIONS to make me do things I didn't want to do... started to go away.
I hope this helps.
There is no shame in going to a mental health provider.