June 23, 2015 – M D is 55 years old. He describes himself as being attracted to other men.
(Share your comments in response to this story at the bottom of this page.)
[Note: I first wrote this testimony in 2003 when I was 43, about the first 43 years of my life, for a recovery group I was in. The journey has continued with its ups and downs but I felt the need to get this out and revisit it, having discovered some of the blogs that deal with Christianity, same-sex attraction and the choice of celibacy. I made very few revisions.]
Hi . . .
I’d like to tell you a story . . . my story . . . I hope you have time to read or listen:
Once upon a time, in a place much like this lived a young man—a boy really—me. I believed that I was gay—born gay. And God? Well, He was just plain mean and cruel.
One of the questions that always raged through my head was; how could God create me gay, and then turn right around and say to me “you’re disgusting to me…to Hell with you”? In that place . . . with that frame of mind . . . I really could not comprehend the love of God.
I grew up in a Christian home. We talked about God. We read the Bible. We always went to Church. I accepted and invited Jesus Christ into my life when I was nine. I was certain that He existed. I believed that Jesus was the Son of God sent to save the world. But, as I grew up I began to believe that I was also gay. I was taught that homosexuality was a sin. The Bible said so . . . The Pastor said so . . . Other people in the Church said so . . . My family said so! They all said, “homosexuality is sin and homosexuals are going to Hell.”
I could not make what I read in the Bible and things I heard at church and at home—things I wanted to believe—work with how I felt. I began to see God as incredibly malicious. I saw myself as I saw Judas—born condemned by God to Hell—without a choice. I still believed that Jesus Christ, the Son of God was sent to save the world—just not me. I was angry. I was sad. I resigned myself to a state of hopelessness . . . stuck in this place of unresolvable conflict between a God who says, “He is love” and a personal identity that seemed such a part of me—I just knew, I was made that way by God. Why? Why did God make me that way? . . . So He could hate me? . . . I didn’t know . . . none of it made any sense to me at all…and it was definitely not a safe subject to bring up in conversation.
So, as I was growing up in the church, in a Christian family, as a Christian, I never told anyone I was gay. I was terrified of rejection. I was terrified of the church. The fact is, that I have still not told my parents about my life journey and my struggle with homosexuality. They probably know at some level but I have never really discussed it with them . . . I have in fact denied it. I will tell you right up front that I’m still fearful of how people will receive me after they hear what I have to say. I have rarely found the church a safe place to share my life experience. It is shocking to some. To others it is disgusting. And to some it is or seems “unforgivable”. But I truly believe it is important to speak up. I am certain there are other people just like me who need to hear and know that God is not a mean, cruel, malicious God—He really is Love.
Hi . . .
I want to share with you what God has done and is doing in my Life. I have been a practicing homosexual, lonely, angry, confused and addicted to pornography . . . and with all that said, I’m still never really quite sure where to begin telling my story.
As I recall, in the summer between fifth and sixth grade I went to RA Camp. (The Southern Baptist version of Boy Scouts when I was a kid.) I went to the state-wide Royal Ambassadors (RA) church camp for boys. Most of the week we stayed in a cabin with our counselor but on rotation each cabin and their counselor would go on a half-day hike and camp out overnight. On the day we went camping it started raining just after we got the tents set up. We cooked supper in the rain and then got into our tents. The tents were only made for four and our counselor was in one of the other tents. It was a long evening and without supervision the conversation turned to sex as one of the boys began to tell stories about his older brother having sex with girls and with guys. I was most intrigued about the part with guys. I remember that as the first time I ever heard about guys having sex with other guys.
I think it was later that same summer that I found my father’s stash of adult novels—no pictures—but the verbal descriptions were very graphic.
For the most part all the stories were heterosexual but imbedded in some of the books were bisexual or gay story lines. Those parts were always the most interesting to me but at the time I didn’t really know why. I didn’t have many guy friends. I didn’t have a brother . . . I had two older sisters. Dad was always busy. I didn’t play any sports . . . Dad had absolutely no interest in sports. Mom played ball with me once or twice to help me learn . . . I wasn’t any good . . . no one ever wanted me on their team. I often played alone. I’d read Dad’s books.
So I began to live and experience relationships vicariously through those books. I would go into my father’s study when no one else was home and pick a book to take back to my room to read. This went on for a while until I must have picked the book my dad was reading because when I went to put it back all the other books were gone. I was terrified! Today, I suspect my Father was as well. Nothing happened. What could he say or do? He really didn’t know who had his book. He couldn’t know for sure that I was the one. After I decided that nothing was going to happen it only took me a little while to figure out where the books were . . . in the locked filing cabinet that had never been locked before. It took a while to find where the key was hid but I found that as well, and once again I had access to my father’s books . . . learning all the while how to live a secret life and not get caught.
When I turned sixteen and got my driver’s license I was no longer confined to my father’s stash of books; I could get my own! What I discovered was gay pornography—books and magazines. It was not until the year I turned eighteen that laws went into effect prohibiting the sale of pornography to minors. My birthday is in late February, so there was only a two-month interruption to my purchase of porn. At the time, I thought I was lucky. More and more I wanted a “close friend” like those guys had in the books and magazines . . . someone to spend time with.
So you see, I had this secret life . . . I had two halves . . . the one everyone knew about . . . the one where I went to church on Sundays—I sang in the youth choir—The good, quiet, clean-cut, well-behaved kid that always did his homework and stayed out of trouble. And then there was the other half . . . the half only God and I knew about . . . the gay pervert—headed for Hell.
I was eighteen and a freshman at a Christian college the first time I ever told anyone I was “gay”. There was this guy in choir with me . . . he was two years older and he said he wanted to get to know me.
The way I saw it, no one really knew me. No one had ever known me . . . no one had ever taken the time to know me—who I was and all the confusion going on inside my head. I had never let anyone see all of me. But he pursued me. He spent time with me. He seemed interested in me—and so I began to talk . . . and I fell in “love?” (I don’t know what else to call it.) He was to me the first person—not a picture in a magazine or a character in a book—whom, I thought really cared about getting to know me.
I really don’t know if I can explain what happened next. In short, he was gay though he told me that he was not. (I found out from my Mother, who had been told by my Grandfather, who had been in a deacons meeting where my friend had discussed his struggle with homosexuality in an interview for recommendation/application to seminary.) We did not have sex. We did cuddle some. What I know and remember, is that I began to see and feel that he only wanted to be my friend and be close to me when we were alone . . . In public, he really didn’t even want to acknowledge that he knew me.
I was devastated. I went into a deep depression. I quit eating. I kept telling my mother that my stomach hurt but it never even registered with me that I was hungry (I was living with my parents). I lost 25 pounds in four weeks. And, I went from an “A” student to a “C” student overnight. I got counseling but the counselor was most concerned with the fact that my anger didn’t even register on some test he had given me. I don’t mean it was off the scale . . . it wasn’t on the scale. I guess some anger is good and necessary; it is a part of our self–preservation and defense mechanism. But at some level, I had decided I wasn’t worth defending. The counselor really just helped me cope with life. He didn’t work on the sexual issues at all. I don’t think I even told him about the pornography. I didn’t explain anything to my parents about what was going on with me and I didn’t tell anyone else either.
I survived my freshman year of college but it had been tough. I had graduated from high school—valedictorian—and the second semester of my college career I brought home (as I remember it) 18 hours of “C” that alone was devastating. I decided that I did not want to go back to school. My parents were fine with that as long as I had a job. I went back to school one semester later. I had a girlfriend. We dated for two almost three years . . . I kissed her once. But, I had boyfriends too . . . we kissed a lot more . . .
So you see, not much had changed, I had this secret life . . . I had two halves . . . the one everyone knew about . . . the one where I went to church on Sundays with my girlfriend—I sang in the adult choir—The good, quiet, clean-cut, well-behaved-guy that always did his work and stayed out of trouble. And then there was the other half . . . the half only God, my boyfriends and I knew about . . . like I said . . . the gay pervert—headed for Hell.
I finally made it through college on the six-year plan. I had a new girlfriend whom I kissed quite a lot. And, I moved away from home when I was twenty-five. I was still grappling with God and who I was. There were times I would clean out all my pornography and go without for weeks and months sometimes a year but I would always go back to my life of visual fantasy. I was not getting better I was getting worse. Life was miserable.
A year or so later I was at a friend’s birthday party and I met this guy I had known in college. We had not been friends . . . actually I had disliked him—the feeling had been mutual. We talked about that and we laughed and then we began to talk about other things and we talked all night into the morning—until I had to go to work. We had similar stories and we were working on the same issue . . . sexuality.
At that time in my life, I wanted to believe that I was O.K. . . . that somehow the people at church were wrong about what God had to say about being sexually active in same-sex relationships . . . that the Bible had somehow been misinterpreted. I had been reading books that explained away all the negative references to homosexuality in the Bible. According to these particular scholars . . . the Bible said nothing about the modern-day practice of consensual sex between two adults of the same-sex. Therefore, it must be O.K. . . . and so, I went with it . . . I thought it would give me peace.
So anyway, in August 1988, I moved in with this guy . . . the one I hadn’t really liked in college. We wrote out our commitments and recited them to each other.
We bought furniture together . . . We slept in one bed . . . but . . . we each had a bedroom . . . We did not tell anyone we were lovers . . . To the world we were only friends. We lived together for three years. What I had thought would make me happy actually made me even more miserable. He had other “encounters” and I had retreated into my private world of pornography even deeper. I had promised him that I would not ever use pornography again. In reality, I think, if he or I felt hurt or offended by the other I would us pornography to hurt him and he would have some sexual encounter to hurt me. And by the way, the anger that had been missing—suppressed—well, it was back and out of control. He got a new job and moved away. At some level we both knew it was best.
So you see, some things had changed and some things hadn’t. I still had a secret life . . . I had two halves . . . the one everyone knew about . . . the one where I quit going to church on Sundays—I didn’t sing in the choir anymore—I was still the good, quiet, clean–cut, well–behaved—except when I blew up in rage—guy that always did his work and stayed out of trouble. And then there was the other half . . . the half only God and I and my x–lover knew about . . . the angry gay pervert—the one who found love and lost it . . . the one who felt like he had been married and divorced . . . all alone . . . all in secret . . . the one who had nowhere to go but Hell . . . and no one to tell but the God who was sending him there.
When we split up in, 1991 . . . I was thirty-one . . . I decided to try again and clean up this miserable mess of a life. I was moving to a new city, to work on my terminal degree. I threw out all my pornography. I started going to church again. I got involved with a regional Christian singles group. I prayed that God would change the way I felt on the inside . . . I wanted Him to take away my desire to be loved by a man and give me the desire to be loved by a women. This was not a new prayer for me I had prayed it before but I thought maybe this time it would work . . . It did not.
I shared my dismal story with a lady friend that I had met through the Christian singles group. At first she tried to fix me . . . but she quickly saw that was not going to work.
I really wasn’t interested in being “fixed” by anybody and attempts to rescue me were met with anger and outrage. I was not feeling any different on the inside . . . God was not doing anything as far as I could tell.
So, about a year and a half to two years after I threw out all my pornography I began to visit adult bookstores and buy fantasy friends and lovers once again. I kept going to church. I even went through the Experiencing God study by Blackaby & King. I wanted God to fix me or tell me it was O.K. to be the way I was . . . He did neither.
I moved again, June 1994 . . . a new job, the first in my selected profession. I went to a Bible study every week for over three years . . . I never felt really connected to any of the people in that group. Sometimes I went to church . . . sometimes I did not. I did go to adult bookstores, sometimes every week . . . sometimes more than once a week. I discovered a bookstore where videos were cheap to buy . . . they were 3 for twenty bucks or something like that. One was never enough and they never satisfied me. I just kept buying more and more porn . . . books, magazines and videos. I couldn’t stop looking for just the right scenario to make me feel “loved?” (I say that with a question mark.) It sounds so absolutely crazy and foreign to me now that I thought I could find love and acceptance in that stuff. But I did, and I couldn’t stop. When I finally stopped buying pornography I had racked up a debt of over $10,000.
Let me back up a bit . . . when my partner and I stopped living together in 1991, we did not stop seeing each other. We lived two states apart and so we didn’t see each other often but we would talk by phone at least once a week and when we did see each other it was not to talk. I had never really given up on trying to make this relationship work but I did not want it to be just about sex. One time he invited me to meet him, for a weekend. I decided to go, and I decided that nothing was going to happen this time. I stuck to my guns and had a tolerable weekend no sex involved. Six months later he was moving in with a new love and wanted me to meet this new friend of his. I drove six hours to their home. His new friend was really nice but it quickly became painfully obvious to me from my personal vantage point that my former lover had never loved me the way he seemed to love this new guy.
I was crushed . . . I thought—how stupid can you be? . . . You did this to yourself by driving all the way out here to see this. But—I have to tell you—it was one of the best things I could have every done.
It HURT . . . It was a deep hurt . . . but it killed a foolish hope—I stopped holding on to the past and to a fantasy for the future and that–what if I’d done it a different way would we still be together—kind of thinking that I had been doing for five or six years. I was free of all that and I was thankful to God.
My x–partner’s new love—the one that seemed so deep to me—was over in less than a month . . . and though I could sympathize and empathize with his pain (I understood it well) I had no desire to be anything more than his friend . . . and I have stayed his friend to a much lesser degree but I have never again been his lover.
So you see, some things had changed and some things hadn’t. I still had a secret life . . . I had two halves . . . the one everyone knew about . . . the one where I quit going to church, again—I didn’t sing at all anymore—the angry, shaggy, unhappy, well–behaved—except when I blew up in rage—guy that always did his work and stayed to himself. And then there was the other half . . . the half only God and I and a few other people knew about . . . the confused gay pervert—the one who thought he had once found love but discovered he hadn’t . . . the one who was desperate to be different . . . desperate to be connected to real people not just pictures in magazines or images in his head . . . the one who had nowhere to go but Hell . . . and no one to tell really—but the God who was sending him there.
I was just surviving. I hated life. I hated me. Almost everything made me sad or angry. I often thought how nice it would be to be dead! Even if I went to Hell . . . all the present turmoil would be over.
And to be quite honest with you I really didn’t think that Hell could be any worse than my life. Dead, I would at least know if I were going to Heaven or to Hell . . . I would have answers . . . all I wanted were answers. I knew that God was the only one with the answers . . . But it seemed He didn’t have time to bother with me. I would yell and scream and rage at God—trying to get His attention—but it never seemed to work . . . I’d get no answers. I felt gay . . . I was gay . . . I believed in Jesus Christ as my Savior . . . HOW COULD THAT BE? Why did God not change me . . . heal me?
I would hear people in church say: “All you need to do is read your Bible; get into the Word of God every day; have a quiet time with God every morning.” and of course, my all time favorite:
“You just need enough faith and then God would heal you.”
I have to tell you . . . I DID NOT FIND THAT HELPFUL!
I felt I had been doing those things . . . seeking God, as best I knew how, all my life. It had not worked! Those kind of statements always reinforced my belief that I did not matter to God…God would help other people when they did these things but He would not help me.
I was so frustrated with people in the church. I knew all their answers and they were certainly willing to give me answers but they never had TIME to be WITH me. I didn’t really think I would ever find help at church…I gave up on church—the people. I always felt judged and wanted to scream Romans 2:1 back in there faces:
“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”
(Well, you know, I have learned that you really can’t yell that verse at anyone without being the one doing the judging.) But anyway, I gave up on people. I didn’t . . . I couldn’t give up on God. I knew he was my only hope, though I understood little else . . . I still wanted to be loved by a man . . . I was miserable.
There was a person who knew my story and had not given up on me, the lady from the Christian singles group. She had been praying for me everyday since I first shared my story with her. At this point, it had been five or six years. There were long periods of time when we did not speak to each other. For the most part that was due to my anger. She has since told me what she had told God and I quote “I will pray for him and I will love him forever but please, just don’t make me be with him.” I was not an easy person to be around. I wore anger on my shoulder like a vulture . . .
I really don’t have a handle on the sequence of events that began my recovery. [Note: “recovery” is the word I used when I first wrote out my story close to 15 years ago. I think I would phrase this differently now but this is how I thought and felt then.]
I had stopped having sex. I had stopped going to church. I could not fall asleep at night. I was reading those books again that tried to explain away homosexuality as sin . . . their reasoning was full of holes. I knew that, I had chosen to overlook it in the past. But I still wanted to be O.K. the way I was.
I could not fall asleep at night! I was still grappling with my identity. I had not stopped buying pornography. I was reading books on recovery and overcoming sexual addictions. But I could not fall asleep at night! My friend was praying for me daily and if we were talking, she’d invite me to church in the city—an hour away. I was reading from “My Utmost for His Highest”, by Oswald Chambers, every morning but I COULD NOT FALL ASLEEP AT NIGHT!
Everyone knew I could not fall asleep at night . . . people started giving advice: “Take a hot bath.” (It didn’t work); “Read a book.” (I’d read all night); “Play music.” (It would keep me up), “Try a book on tape.” (I only had one—The New Testament (NIV)) . . . I fell asleep! OH! WOW! I FELL ASLEEP! It worked every night. I would put in a tape and listen. All the turmoil in my head would quiet as I would listen and then I’d fall asleep. Sometimes I would go through a whole side of the tape and turn it over but often I was out in minutes. I did that for many years.
I don’t remember if I started listening to the Bible every night as I fell asleep, before or after, I did that six-hour drive to discover that my former lover had never really loved me the way that I thought he had, but that experience really opened my eyes to the fact that for me living out a sexually active homosexual life style was not for me. From my prospective, and based on my experience, a monogamous, homosexual, relationship really could not exist. I still felt gay but I finally knew without a doubt that a gay relationship could never work for me . . . it could never really make me happy. And once again, I knew I had to get rid of all the pornography I had hidden in my house if I ever wanted to get better. I still felt gay but it had to go.
One last time I began to purge my house. I threw out thousands of dollars of videos, magazines, and limited edition photography books of the male nude. I can’t remember how long this took. I unwound the videos and cut them up and I shredded most of the books and magazines page–by–page—catharsis. I only made one more trip to an adult bookstore that was a few months after I had completely cleaned out my house. I remember it was around my birthday. . . I can’t remember which year . . . . but I threw out what I bought the very next day. I have never been back. I wish I could tell you why it worked that last time—what I did differently—but I can’t. I can only give credit to God.
[Note: That was then and I do believe that God helped me sustain this in part because I felt lead to purchased a very recognizable car—what I called my accountability car. People were always telling me where they had seen my car. But don’t think too highly of me a few years later the Internet came along and I didn’t need to go to an adult bookstore to feed my addiction.]
I will never forget when I started back to church. I finally took my friend up on her offer to drive into the city for church. She had been inviting me for about a year and a half. I had given her permission to tell my story to people she felt lead by God to tell. She had told the pastor, the associate pastor and other key people in this very small mission. It was not the church she attended but she knew these people because her church shared the same building. She went with me the first Sunday. It was Easter Sunday, 1999.
It was the first time in my life that I could remember standing in church as one person and not two . . . they knew I thought I was born gay . . . they knew my past . . . I didn’t have a secret half with these people . . . and that felt incredibly good.
Right away I started accountability and confession with the associate pastor. We met every week. I still felt gay. I did not want to believe the Bible when it came to homosexuality. I still had questions about the Greek words used in the Bible that are interpreted today as homosexual. The Greeks did not have a word for homosexual or homosexuality.
He presented me with a book by Richard B. Hays, titled “The Moral Vision of the New Testament: A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics”. The book covers many topics but one chapter is on homosexuality. Mr. Hays was very compassionate in his presentation of the topic. He had a very close friend dealing with the issue of homosexuality but he did not compromise the scripture. He was very clear and concise and answered my questions about the Geek words and about what God had said in the Bible about homosexuality.
He tied the Old Testament passages to the New Testament passages in a way I had not seen it done before and I knew it was right. Homosexuality—the action of sex between two people of the same sex—is sin. That was settled for me. I was willing to accept that . . . and I was willing to believe that God had not made me gay . . . but I was also certain that I had not chosen to be this way. How did I get this way? I did not know. I resigned my self to the fact that I must have chosen it . . . but for the life of me I could not figure out when or how or why. I really could not fathom choosing the life I had lived. But I really couldn’t make God out to be the bad guy anymore.
I could look back and see how God had protected me. I had messed around in college, with two different guys . . . the boyfriends . . . they weren’t virgins.
And, right after college when I lived in the city, in the last half of the 80’s, I had a friend that I spent a lot of time with. We went to church together. He taught me how to water–ski. I helped him build his deck. I really liked him. I had no idea he was gay. He got married and had kids . . . but he was having sex with guys too. When he tested HIV positive he left his wife and moved in with his gay lover. He died of full–blown AIDS on February 1, 1997. I could not believe it. I had always thought I could tell if a man was gay. Had I known he was gay when we were spending so much time together, (before he was married) it is very likely that I would not be here today . . . he was already infected when we were friends but he didn’t know it at the time . . . I could be just as dead . . . not to mention the fact that I lived with a partner that was not monogamous for three years and continued to interact with him sexually for nearly seven more years . . . It’s amazing to me that I am still alive.
I can see how God has been faithful to me even when I thought He was nowhere to be found.
Remember when I couldn’t sleep at night, I was truly a mess . . . my thinking was just wacky. I actually believed at some level that every man was gay unless proven otherwise. (I had really read too many of those gay fantasy novels.)
But anyway, at the time there was a lot of construction going on at the university where I worked and parking was scarce. I was mad at God and everybody else . . . but every day—for some reason—I would pray this one silly little prayer. I would ask God to give me a parking space when I got to work. If I would do that as I left my house I would find a space when I got to work and usually very near the door. But if I’d forget to say the prayer or wait until I was already there, it would take forever to find a space. When my thinking began to clear, long after the construction was done and parking was ample again, I remembered that period of time and that little prayer . . . and I recognized God’s faithfulness to me and it gave me hope.
This is a very precious memory to me. I had asked God for something—this was really the only thing I could ask for at the time—a parking space—and He was faithful to give it. Today, I look at that same memory . . . I remember the hope I first found there . . . and I also see that I really did matter to God . . . He had time to answer my silly little pray for a parking space every single time I’d prayed it.
So you see, some things had changed a lot and some things hadn’t. I didn’t really have a secret life . . . It was more like a secret past.
Some people knew and some didn’t. I went to church on Sundays. I even lead worship. I was connected to real people not just pictures in magazines or images in my head. I had somewhere to go and it wasn’t Hell. I still couldn’t figure out who I was. I didn’t want to say I was gay but I was not heterosexual either. I was forty years old and for the first time in my life I had close relationships with men that were not sexual. My friends—my accountability partners all knew me . . . they knew all about my past . . . they knew what was going on with me at the present time . . . and they loved me warts and all. But I still needed or wanted to know how I got so messed up in the first place . . . if I chose this . . . if I chose to be gay how did I choose it? That was still a mystery to me.
Many things were changing in my life and changing quickly . . . God was working and so was I. I had to look at my anger . . . I had to acknowledge my anger . . . I had to confess it and I had to repent. I had to look at my pride.
I was reading a book by Steve Gallagher, titled, “Tearing Down The High Places Of Sexual Idolatry”.
I got it in the early 90’s, I’d read it before . . . I think more than once but I had not been in the right place to hear it . . . anyway he calls pride “cancer of the soul” and he lists seven forms of pride . . . three hit home . . . and hard, Self Protective Pride, Unapproachable Pride and Know-It-All Pride. Gallagher says:
“The person with [self protective] pride has a very difficult time being vulnerable to others. He is very defensive and easily offended. This person keeps walls built around himself to keep others from being able to hurt him. . . [and] is generally a sensitive person by nature, easily hurt and offended . . . [the person with unapproachable pride] is the person who can’t be corrected, reproved or confronted. There is a tension that comes whenever someone attempts to talk to this person about mistakes he has made . . .[the person with the know-it-all pride] is usually very talented, gifted and knowledgeable. He tends to think that he can do anything, and in many ways he often can! . . . [there is] a great deal of distrusts for the abilities of others because of his arrogant attitude about his own abilities and knowledge.” (Page 55)
He was talking about me! I was vaguely aware of the, know–it–all kind of pride in my life . . . but it had never occurred to me that my walls and my defensiveness were forms of pride. I had to confess my pride and I had to repent of it . . . I continue to discover, confront and confess pride in my life even today.
Another one of the lessons God had for me to learn was about “knowing” Him. I have, on many occasion become resentful of people at church or work because of all I was doing for them . . . I would feel as though the only reason people liked me was because of what I could do. I was complaining to God about this, saying that people don’t like me for who I am, they only like me because of what I can do for them.
I heard God say, “that’s exactly how you treat Me.” —WOW!—I had to confess and repent of that and I began to seek God in a new way. . . not for what He can do, but for WHO HE IS!
Things were better. I was growing and learning . . . changing. . . it was almost frightening . . . I hadn’t been back to a bookstore in years but I was having trouble with pornography on the Internet. I had never had access to the Internet until after I had thrown out all the stuff I had at home. The thing that was different was that it wasn’t really a secret . . . I was in an accountability group . . . I didn’t have to tell them anything . . . I wanted to tell them . . . I had lived a secret life far too long.
I had tried accountability in the past—it had always been one–sided . . . where people would ask me what I had done wrong . . . tell me not to do it anymore and that was it . . . we were done and I was suppose to be “all-better” . . . that usually made me feel worse about myself. This was very different . . . it was not just about what I had done wrong. These individuals were not dealing with the same issues but they were sharing their lives with me . . . we all shared . . . and it was not just our problems and failures . . . . we shared our victories and praises and our thanks to God.
Even when I would mess up with the Internet God would use it to teach me more about myself . . . I was learning . . . I began to discover the triggers—the things I would let set me off—I was able to look at why I was using pornography . . . It was a fantasy world where I was in control . . . where I believed that I could not get hurt or be rejected . . . I saw It as a place of escape from my hurts, rejections and failures. But God has been exposing the lies in all of that one-by-one. I still didn’t know how homosexuality had become a part of my life but I was learning to live better with that.
And then something totally unexpected happened . . . it was kind of like when Paul and Barnabas had their sharp disagreement in Acts (15:36–41) and went their separate ways. I had a sharp disagreement with my pastor of almost three years. It was one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make but I decided that I needed to change churches. I really did not want to leave my friends but I could not stay. At the time, I really did not see God at work in this event . . . but when I look back—I can see His perfect timing.
I began going to a new church the first Sunday in March 2002 . . . within weeks I had shared with the pastoral staff my history. I did that because for the past three years I had been in fellowship with people who knew my story. I was a whole person with no secret half. It was important to me that I maintain that in my new church as well. Because the pastoral staff knew my past, in June 2002, I was invited to go to a Love Won out conference on homosexuality, sponsored by Focus on the Family. If I had not changed churches when I did and informed the pastoral staff of my history, I would not have known about the conference. And guess what . . . when I got there, I believe I found out how I got the way I was.
I heard some truly incredible testimonies that day. I had never met anyone who had been a practicing homosexual and who was no longer participating in that lifestyle. To see them . . . and to hear them speak and share their stories was incredible to me . . . in some ways they were telling my story. These were, it seemed to me, happy, healthy, normal people . . . yes . . . they had homosexuality as a part of their story but it was not the whole story . . . and they where praising God.
In one of the sessions the speaker said, “God does not make homosexuals but people don’t choose to be homosexual either.” I cannot put into words what began to go on inside of me. I had already come to know and believe that God does not make people to be homosexual—I believe that is a byproduct or condition of the fallen world we live in.
But, I had never, in my whole life heard anyone say in the same breath, you weren’t made homosexual and you did not choose to be homosexual. I KNEW IT—I KNEW IT—I KNEW IT!!! I wasn’t crazy!
What I had always believed deep down in side of me was true! I had not chosen to be gay. So, if I didn’t choose it . . . and God didn’t make me that way, how did it happen?
Well, this is what was said for boys: all children have the God-given need to be loved and affirmed by their fathers. Between the ages of 1 1/2 and 3, boys need to dis-identify with their mothers and identify with their fathers. During this stage of development, if a boy somehow feels hurt or rejected by the father he will isolate himself from the father.
The choice made by the child is one of self-protection or preservation but unknowingly the boy has also separated himself from his own gender identification. As the child grows older same–sex behavior is an attempt to repair emotional hurts and needs not met in childhood. So the choice made by the child to protect himself from hurt had nothing to do with sex at the time it was made, but because the boy had a God-given need to be loved and affirmed by his father, which was not met, as he grows older he relates this need for love and affirmation with same–sex behavior.
That all made sense in a practical way but how did it apply to me? I did not know what the hurt or rejection could be. I have never really felt close to my Dad. He was always busy. I have always viewed him as present but unavailable . . . but I still didn’t quite see how that all fit together. I had no memories of hurt or abuse of any kind by my father or anyone else for that matter.
And then I heard the speaker say that the child can even just perceive the hurt, it does not have to be real or intentional. The speaker told a story about a young man who was dealing with homosexuality. . . his father left (if I remember correctly the father was in the hospital) for a period of time when he was a young boy and he had interpreted his father’s leaving as rejection.
All of a sudden . . . deep inside of me I understood something . . . when I was very small my father went away to Summer school to work on his doctoral degree . . . the rest of the family went to live with my grandparents . . . I’d be with Grandpa in the Summer . . . and them we’d go back home for the winter with Dad. I think this happened two maybe three summers in a row. For me, this was the answer. . . everything seemed to fall into place. I really cannot tell you that I remember these events as painful but it just made sense to me.
It answered so many questions. I really believe this left me feeling abandoned by both my Father and my Grandpa at a time in my development that caused me to pull away from them to protect myself from hurt. Neither had intended to hurt me. In fact I know my Dad was working on his doctorate so he could better provide for me.
I have spent years—nearly all my life (when I first wrote my story)—building walls—(one friend use to call me MASADA)—I almost always felt out-of-place and rejected by those around me . . . with walls I could hide how I felt. It never occurred to me that I was adding to my own isolation. I was protecting myself. Today, I understand how my walls came into existence and as I mentioned earlier how I used pride to build and maintain them and how with those walls I was actually repelling the very people I wanted to love and know me—even my parents.
I want you to know that I love my parents and I thank God for them. They have provided for me and shown me love in more ways than I could ever begin to tell you. I have been very angry with them at times and there are things that I still need to talk with them about, but I do not blame them in any way for my struggles. After all God hand-picked them, to make me. I believe, with all my heart, that they have always done the best possible job in raising me . . . but I have had to do some forgiving.
Forgiveness has been essential to my recovery but it has not been easy.
I have often felt that I had forgiven someone for things done in the past only to find that there was some aspect or deeper hurt that I had not yet seen. Even in the process of writing my testimony I discovered that I had not fully forgiven the young man in choir with me from my college days. I just began crying one evening while driving the car as I was remembering those events and that hurt and I realized that I had never fully forgiven him. And so I forgave him again but on a deeper level.
I also discovered that I had not really ever forgiven myself for the sexual activity of my past. I had asked God for forgiveness and I believed that He had forgiven me . . . and I assumed, (I guess), that I had forgiven myself. But I was reading a book about codependency . . . and about taking responsibility for your own actions.
I don’t remember exactly what led me to do what I did. But I went to the mirror and I looked myself in the eye and said, “I forgive you for your sexual relationship with _____ (and I said the name of my x–partner and then the names of the two boyfriends). I felt so free. I was puzzling over this feeling because I really thought I had already forgiven myself . . . so I asked God what was going on with me? Why did this make me feel so different
It didn’t take long for the answer. I heard God say; “You have never taken full responsibility for your own actions—until now.” And I understood. You cannot forgive yourself for something until you take responsibility for it. When I took full responsibility for my actions, I could also fully forgive myself. Wow!
I guess I really need to wrap this up! I can’t give you a step–by–step plan. I can’t tell you if you do these specific things you will be healed of your problems (I haven’t been). I can tell you that I still go to sleep each night listening to the Word of God. And each morning, I read from “My Utmost for His Highest”, by Oswald Chambers and I spend time seeking God and “who He is”. I pray—I talk to God and I expect Him to answer. I continue in accountability with my friends in the city (we meet every two weeks like clockwork). And I have people here in town that I meet with also.
I plan never to stop being in accountability. In James 5:16, it says:
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
I am holding on to that promise. I know that the people God brings into my life may change with time and I will grieve the loss friendships from time to time. But I never want to go back to that hopeless place of dark secrets and desperate isolation.
I want to tell you about one other thing I have done. It was suggested in a book I read, it said to write out lies that you believe about yourself on note cards. One lie on each card. And then ask God to reveal through His Word the truth about you. When you find it write it on the other side of the card. So far I have only written down two lies I use to tell myself and God quickly showed me the truth.
The first lie I wrote down was: I am a worthless piece of ____! (And you can fill it in.) But the truth is that “. . . I am fearfully and wonderfully made; . . .” Psalm 139:14 reads: “I praise You [God] because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
The second lie I wrote down was: I am a mess!!! And in many ways I was. I told myself this all the time. It was my excuse for everything. But in Ephesians 2:10 it says: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” That word “workmanship” means “masterpiece”. I am God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus! I am not a mess.
So you see, now I think I know how it happened for me and I know that I did not choose to be gay but I chose, as a small child to protect myself from a perceived hurt—rejection. God created me a masterpiece but I unknowingly as a child rejected my gender. God has given each of us the need to be loved and nurtured by a man—our fathers, so when I prayed to God to take away the need to be loved and affirmed by a man He could not and would not honor my request. I was praying the wrong prayer. I understand that now. Today I pray that God meets that need in me, in His way even though I don’t know what that looks like.
You know, I can’t tell you that I wish my life had been different. This may sound odd to you but I thank God for the life I have lived and for my struggle with sexuality. God has gifted me with many talents and abilities and I know that had I not had this struggle in my life I might never have come to know God as I know Him now.
I believe I would have grown up knowing about God and thinking that I knew Him but would not have ever come to know how desperately I need Him. Christ said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
and I strive to say, like Paul,
“Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecution, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9–10).
Let me say, Hello, one more time. I used to be a practicing homosexual, lonely, angry, confused and consumed by pornography. But God – the God of second, and third, and fourth chances, has impacted my life. I cannot take credit for any of the positive changes in my life. I surrender in my weakness to Jesus Christ and His power alone has been transforming me.
I still have more to learn. I have spent so many years in self–inflicted isolation, pushing people away that it is very difficult at times to invite people into my life and in turn to share my life with others but I now know that God is love and that His plans for me are good. My intense anger has waned. I know that only God and His power can keep me from pornography.
I am not gay . . . I am God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus! I’m 43 now and if you’re struggling, I want to encourage you to thank God for the opportunity to see His awesome power at work in your life. . . surrender to Him in your weakness and keep asking! Keep seeking! Keep knocking! Don’t give up on God! Because you will only find hope in Jesus!
[Note: I first wrote this testimony in 2003 when I was 43, about the first 43 years of my life, for a recovery group I was in. The journey has continued with its ups and downs but I felt the need to get this out and revisit it, having discovered some of the blogs that deal with Christianity, same-sex attraction and the choice of celibacy. I made very few revisions.
Today however, I am somewhat uncomfortable with my declarative statement that “I am not Gay…” in the paragraph above because I have always been same-sex attracted that has never changed for me so most people would say that I am gay. I think that I was trying to say that I was much more than that classification . . . I am God’s masterpiece. But I certainly do not want to mislead anyone, my same-sex attraction as not been miraculously removed, nor has my struggle with pornography but I do continue on in celibacy.]
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