Article #68.

When you study Robert’s website (link below), you will find a central theme emerging – the necessity to trust and obey the Lord Jesus Christ; to experience an authentic faith walk where frustration, mistakes, stumbling, imperfection, pain and messiness are to be expected – not ignored nor hidden behind a mask.

In Part One of this interview series, Robert Lombardi (author/editor of Buggin’ Out! Newsletter) talked about how his literature ministry to reach and engage struggling sex addicts (like himself) came into existence (back in the 1990s). For the purpose of encouraging others “to accept Jesus’ challenge to come and follow Me”.

In today’s post, I ask Robert to reflect upon the challenges of ministry and how he has made sense of his same-sex attractions and experiences over the years . . .

Darrell Martin: Tell us about your life before you started this literature ministry.

Robert Lombardi: My life prior to ministry was a chronic cry out to Jesus paired with an incessant hunger for contact with men. Interestingly, at least to me, my first sexual dreams were with girls. Only after a three-year long period of sexual abuse at a military school did homo-eroticism invade my dreams and change my longings. Before making the decision to follow Jesus “at any cost”, I contemplated suicide often, over-ate even more often and self-gratified at least daily.

However, I have learned that Jesus honors our feeble attempts to “die to ourselves” and begins to slowly restore us at that point. Honestly, though, I still battle with a lot of loneliness. My attractions to men are still present and I get cranky when I see others getting loved. The good news is that I now KNOW that Jesus walks with me instead of just “really wanting to believe it” and that has made all the difference.

Darrell: I have gained a lot of wisdom from what you’ve shared of your life through the newsletter. I appreciated how you openly questioned your feelings and experiences while in the midst of learning how to trust the Lord in various circumstances.
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Overall, how have you made sense of your attractions to guys? What did you think was (is) the purpose of your homosexual feelings and experiences?
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Robert: This is an easy one. When we decide to follow Jesus, we are saying “yes” to being used as He sees fit. Right now, I have a house full of 9 Honduran immigrants, four of whom are children. If I were in a relationship, I would likely be doing all I could to “keep” my partner. There is no way I could have opened up my home to these wonderful, humble people if I did not have this cross of unwanted homosexuality. In a sense, God has given me the family I have always wanted, without having to “play house” with another man. Seeing God use my sacrifice to Him is a great honor and helps me through the days of self-pity and sexual frustration.
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Darrell: Most people who experience conflict between their sexual identity and their religious identity seek healing and hope for change. Some will adopt a gay identity and same-sex sexual/romantic behavior if their expectations are not met. Others will seek an “identity in Christ”. And still others will make a commitment to living a celibate life while fostering spiritual friendships and community to sustain that call. Any thoughts or comments?
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Robert: Wow. To be honest, I feel inadequate to respond to this question. I can only respond for myself. My response is this: I chose celibacy. However, I am not always a very joyful celibate LOL. If I am wrong about homosexuality, and Perez Hilton has been right all along, I am going to be really pissed!!!!!
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Darrell: This question is an offshoot of the last one. How can thinking about our struggles in the context of our personal sanctification change how we view our experiences of same-sex attraction? What do you suppose God may be doing with us in light of these struggles?
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Robert: This is the easiest question you have asked me! God does with “us” as he does with all other souls who choose to follow Him: He uses us to answer prayers, to meet needs and, above all, to reflect His love and power.
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Darrell: Another question about ministry. What were some of the challenges you’ve encountered over the life of your ministry? How did you address these concerns? What kind of feedback did you get? Victories? Positive outcomes?
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Robert: Staying focused on Jesus has been the biggest challenge. Sometimes I just want to chuck the whole thing, get a haircut and hit a bar. One night, actually not too long ago, I was dressed and ready to go. I exited the house and the Hondurans were having a prayer session on my front lawn. I ignored them and continued on to my car. As I was entering the car, I smelled something awful. I had stepped in dog poop somewhere between the front door and the car. Problem solved. (I later found out that the prayer session had been for my benefit because they felt that I had been acting oddly lately).

Regarding feedback for my writing, I do not have much of a following. Over the past 19 years, I have received maybe 400 responses from random men and women. Surprisingly, I have not received more than a few “hate mails”.

The biggest victory and positive outcome is my own LOL. The fact that I am not sitting in a bar drunk and loaded with antibiotics every weekend is a testimony to God’s grace. Also, that God trusts me to care for His beautiful Honduran children is a true and humbling honor. They are all devout believers so I am constantly being bombarded with testimonies, prayers, and scripture. They know about my struggles and love me just the same. On the surface, it appears that I am helping THEM, but it is actually the other way around. God saw what we all needed. They needed shelter and guidance in a foreign country and I needed fellowship and a purpose in my homeland. God then coordinated it all to come together.

Darrell: Some Christians get defensive (bitter) and loudly declare that we can’t let LGBT activists win the political, social and religious debates. The call to be involved politically is a special burden God may place on some Christians. However, why do you think so many Christians prefer the culture wars to ministry or pastoral care? What are some of the unintended consequences when our focus is exclusively political?

Robert: Honestly, I feel about politics the way I feel about auditioning for American Idol – I leave it to those who have been called to it. I have no calling to politics, so I stay out of it.

I believe that when we focus on politics we are distracted from our calling to love the poor and sick. I have a friend who is an activist . . . he fights to push the government to better care for Hispanic immigrants. He himself lives with a partner in a nice home and has not opened up his home to anyone but his partner. I believe that putting the government’s shortcomings in the spotlight, takes the spotlight off our own. It is easier to blame the government for the injustices we see than to implement what Jesus taught us in His Sermon on the Mount.

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Coming up in the next installment of my interview with Robert (Part 3) . . .
  • his vision of the ideal ministry for people with unwanted homosexuality
  • how we should care for same-sex attracted (or openly gay) youth
  • a very painful time in his life when his ministry/accountability partner and close friend left the faith, embraced life as gay man, and got married (to another man)

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Robert can be contacted at this email address: bugoutnyc@aol.com

To access back issues of  “Buggin’ Out!” Online Newsletter, click here.

To read my introduction to this interview series (“Connecting With Pain and Brokenness”), click here.

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© Darrell Martin and SameSexAttractions.wordpress.com, 2015.

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