Jesus and the homosexual

by Lambert Dolphin

A brochure on the door of the Episcopal Chaplain's office at Stanford University reads, "What did Jesus say about homosexuality?" When the brochure is opened the inside is completely blank. Episcopal Chaplain Penelope Duckworth explains, "For we, as Christians, pay particular attention to the words of our savior. Jesus said nothing regarding homosexuality, and in his ministry spoke more about the sins of the spirit than the sins of the body...Our reading of the Bible in its entirety is one of a loving, forgiving and nurturing God who wants us to help create a world that accepts and empowers us all." (Letter to the Editor, by Rev. Penelope Duckworth, Elizabeth Cook and Cynthia Stotts Howard, the Stanford Daily March 1990).

Jesus and Forgiveness of Sin

It is true that nothing specific is recorded about homosexuality in the four gospels. However to assume that Jesus was neutral on this issue might be to ignore a great deal of indirect evidence to the contrary. Perhaps Ms. Duckworth and friends seek to assure gay men and women at Stanford that they are the objects of God's love and grace---which is certainly Biblically sound. The gospels contain many examples of the forgiveness and mercy Jesus extended to men and women from all backgrounds and circumstances in life. One clear example of the forgiveness and mercy of Jesus is given in John Chapter 8:

"Early in the morning Jesus came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, 'Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?' This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, 'Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.' And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus looked up and said to her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' She said, 'No one, Lord.' And Jesus said, 'Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.'" (John 8:1-11)

In extending forgiveness to this individual, Jesus certainly did release her from all past and future condemnation at the same time silencing the self-righteous, prudish arrogance of the Pharisees. But his parting remark to this adulterous woman was the firm admonition, "go, and do not sin again." The gift of wholeness Jesus granted to this previously broken woman required that she mend her ways and lead a different lifestyle thereafter.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (John 3:16-19)

Jesus on Divorce and the Celibate Life

With regard to divorce, Jesus demonstrated a similar depth of compassion, but He firmly endorsed the central importance of marriage in society:

"Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan; and large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, 'Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?' He answered, 'Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh". So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.' They said to him, 'Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?' He said to them, 'For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery.'

"The disciples said to him, 'If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.' But he said to them, 'Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.'" (Matthew 19:1-12)

Marriage, Jesus implied, was for life. Only under exceptional circumstances, that is in the case of adultery, was divorce permitted. The disciples were evidently startled at the standards Jesus indicated when He quoted Moses as authoritative. They suggested to Jesus that remaining single might be preferable. To this Jesus responded that a celibate, single life, "for the sake of the kingdom of heaven" was acceptable. However Jesus made no mention of homosexuality as a third option for those who might have been "born that way," nor did He suggest that all have a right to choose their own "sexual preference." He did not give us the slightest reason to suppose every individual has a God-given "right" to his or her body, to do with it as one wills. Evidently He believed that marriage, though at times difficult and demanding, is the only relationship where sexual expression meets with God's approval. Those who prefer to remain single are to live as "eunuchs," that is without expressing their sexual desires. This is consistent with the Old Testament norm---for example in Isaiah 56:

"Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, 'The LORD will surely separate me from his people;' and let not the eunuch say, 'Behold, I am a dry tree.' For thus says the LORD: 'To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which shall not be cut off. And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, every one who keeps the sabbath, and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant---these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.'"

Jewish Culture in The Times of Jesus

Perhaps the reason Jesus said nothing specifically about homosexuality was that "gay lifestyles" were virtually unknown in the Israel of his day. Everyone knew and understood the culturally acceptable standards. Sexual immorality in any form was shameful and not for open public discussion. In fact, even the suggestion of heterosexual activity before marriage was scandalous:

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.' All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 'Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel' (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus." (Matthew 1:18-25)

Jesus and the Law of Moses

What was the attitude of Jesus towards the Law of Moses? In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said the following:

"Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-20)

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell." (Matthew 5:27-30)

"It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." (Matthew 5:31-32)

Thus Jesus invariably upheld the authority and applicability of the teachings and Law of Moses. In fact He interpreted Moses in a manner which intensified the demands of the Law. The Law reveals the moral character and the holiness of God which can not change. The purpose of the Law of Moses is not to produce good moral behavior, but to call all of us to understand our need for God's mercy and forgiveness:

"...a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified." (Galatians 2:16)

Jerusalem And Sodom Compared

Actually, Jews in the times of Jesus who knew their own history would have been familiar with Abraham and Lot and the destruction of the Canaanite cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, recorded in Genesis Chapter 19. Some have suggested that these cities were destroyed because of their in-hospitality, because of a passage in Ezekiel:

"As I live, says the Lord GOD, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, surfeit of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them, when I saw it." (Ezekiel 16:48-50)

In this figurative passage the Lord likens Jerusalem in her apostasy to a grossly unfaithful wife. Jerusalem's spiritual adultery was more serious, in comparison, than the sins of "her sister Sodom." While God was unhappy at Sodom's love of pleasure and lack of concern for the poor, she also "did abominable things" before God. This passage shows us that sin becomes more serious in proportion to the light that is rejected, and that spiritual sins are indeed more grievous than sins of the body. However, the sexual activities of the men who lived in Sodom were still "abominable" in the eyes of God. Jude and Peter in the New Testament confirm that these cities of the Dead Sea plain were in fact destroyed because of their homosexual immoralities, not merely because they failed to show proper hospitality towards strangers.

Jesus and the Wellsprings of the Heart

Concerned as He was with the motivations of the individual's heart rather than mere outward conformity to accepted social norms or the code of the Law, Jesus spoke of sexual sins as originating in the fallen nature of man's innermost self:

"And he called the people to him and said to them, 'Hear and understand: not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.' Then the disciples came and said to him, 'Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?' He answered, 'Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.' But Peter said to him, 'Explain the parable to us.' And he said, 'Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and so passes on? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries (moicheia), fornications (porneiai), thefts, false-witnessing, blasphemies. These are what defile a man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.'" (Matthew 15:1-20)

"For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness (aselgeia), envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man." (Mark 7:21-23)

In this passage adultery and fornication are both mentioned. Adultery of course refers to sexual infidelity when one is married. Fornication is usually taken to mean heterosexual intercourse before marriage. However the Greek word translated "fornication," (porneia, from whence our word "pornography"), is actually a broad word used in the Bible "to denote any form of sexual behavior which is not in accord with Old Testament regulations and the teaching of the apostles..." (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1982). Homosexual behavior is without doubt included in the meaning of this word.

In offering forgiveness and mercy to many individuals during His three year ministry, Jesus gave these individuals a new, cleansed, purified heart---not only forgiving their previous sins, but making it possible for them to live afterwards on the basis of new and right motivations. To my knowledge, there is nothing in the gospels to suggest that Jesus "wants us to help create a world that accepts and empowers us all." Putting to death an entire old way of life, and a dying to one's own selfish desire is indicated for all the followers of Jesus. Christians constitute a minority of a few percent in most parts of the world and can not expect to have their beliefs held in popular approval by those who have not yet come to know their Lord personally.

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:34-39)

Actually, what Jesus was interested in above all else was love. Love seeks the best interests of the beloved. Love gives unselfishly rather than taking. Koine Greek has several words for love: affection, brotherly love, and agape. There are also numerous words for lust, and lust frequently disguises itself as love in our society. Jesus never argues that two men or two women should not love each other, in fact the opposite is true, "The whole Law is fulfilled in this one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" Homosexuality is not merely an issue of genital sexual conduct---it has to do with distortions of what the Bible means by real love. Here is where so much confusion lies in modern society. This confusion is across the board: having lost touch with the living God, all men are confused and lost and subject to the passions of a fallen race. God wants from us more love for one another, not less. In this lies the cure.

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13)

Conclusion From The Gospels

Although the four Gospels contain no specific statement by Jesus against homosexual behavior, nor any examples of His meeting and dealing with a homosexual person, there is more than enough evidence from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John alone to conclude that the only form of sexual behavior Jesus endorsed was limited to the married state.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament gives this summary of both Old Testament and New Testament norms regarding marriage and various possible types of human sexual behavior:

"Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; but God will judge fornicators and adulterers." (Hebrews 13:4)

What Does The Law Of Moses Really Say About Sexual Conduct?

Specifics concerning sexual conduct under the Law of Moses are found in the book of Leviticus. These are (briefly) as follows:

1. Adultery is sexual activity between a married person and another person who is not one's spouse: "Thou shalt not commit adultery" is the Seventh Commandment in the Law of Moses. Leviticus 18:20 says, "You shall not lie carnally with your neighbor's wife, and defile yourself with her." Leviticus 20:10 states, "If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death."

2. Homosexuality is sexual activity between members of the same sex. Leviticus 18:22 states, "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman, it is an abomination." (The Hebrew word "abomination" means loathsome, repugnant, abhorrent to God). Leviticus 20:13 prescribes the death penalty for homosexual acts also, "If a male lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them."

3. Bestiality is sexual activity involving an animal. "If a man lies with a beast, he shall be put to death; and you shall kill the beast. If a woman approaches any beast and lies with it, you shall kill the woman and the beast; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them." (Leviticus 20:16) This law is also stated in Leviticus 18:23.

4. Harlotry and Fornication refer to sexual intercourse with a male or female prostitute, and to sexual activity between unmarried persons, respectively. Leviticus 19:29 says, "Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot, lest the land fall into harlotry and the land become full of wickedness." This Scripture, and other passages in the Old Testament, connect sexual immorality and other human evil with a defilement of the land, not only of the individuals involved. That is, sexual license in a society leads invariably to child abuse, rape, and other forms of violence that affect the entire culture harmfully. Sexual morality thus becomes a matter of public and governmental concern, not just a private matter.

Deuteronomy 22:23-29 makes provision for marriage rather than death in certain situations involving sexual involvement before marriage, and provides for release of a woman who is raped and can not get help:

"If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry out for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor's wife; so you shall purge the evil from the midst of you. But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But to the young woman you shall do nothing; in the young woman there is no offense punishable by death, for this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor; because he came upon her in the open country, and though the betrothed young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her. If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lays with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her; he may not put her away all his days."

5. Incest is sexual involvement with a member of one's own immediate family and is discussed thoroughly in Leviticus 18:6-18. The Bible specifically mentions as forbidden any and all sexual involvement with one's father, mother, sisters, step-sisters, granddaughters, aunts, and daughters-in-law. The death penalty for incest is specified in Leviticus 20:11-21.

6. Related Areas: Abortion is usually considered murder according to the standards of Scripture and is equivalent to the offering of children to the cruel God Molech of the Old Testament.

"Say to the people of Israel, any man of the people of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, who gives any of his children to Molech shall be put to death; the people of the land shall stone him with stones. I myself will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, defiling my sanctuary and profaning my holy name. And if the people of the land do at all hide their eyes from that man, when he gives one of his children to Molech, and do not put him to death, then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut them off from among their people, him and all who follow him in playing the harlot after Molech." (Leviticus 20:2-5)

The Authority Of Jesus In The Life Of A Christian

One distinguishing mark of the true Christian is his or her commitment to the lordship and authority of Jesus over life. This right of Jesus to rule from within one's heart having been established, the Christian recognizes that Jesus Himself invariably followed the Old Testament as His standard and guide. He never taught or said anything that was inconsistent with any part of the Old Testament. Individual believers have no right, therefore, to choose to follow Jesus on some points and ignore Him on other issues. Neither are we free to edit the Word of God selectively, discarding some portions as irrelevant today, wrongly supposing that the Bible no longer addresses common issues in our world today. According to the Bible fallen human nature has not changed since the fall, and neither has the character of God.

The Christian and the Apostles' Authority

A follower of Jesus Christ in our period of history (the past 2000 years) also recognizes that he or she has been reborn spiritually, adopted into God's family, and, at the same time has been placed into the body of Christ, the true church. This true church of Jesus Christ is built on foundations laid by the apostles. The apostles (and Old Testament writers also) have authority over those who accept the authority of Jesus in their lives.

"So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:19-22)

A good portion of the New Testament was written by the Apostle Paul. Paul says about His basis of authority and source of information concerning God:

"But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ." (Galatians 1:8-11)

The New Testament does not single out homosexual behavior as worse than heterosexual immorality. (See Sexual Sin in General). Romans 1 depicts homosexuality in a culture as one of a chain of many consequences of widespread rejection of God by a society. This passage does not explain why individual men and women become gay---Romans One is intended to show what happens in a culture when God loosens His restraints against the latent evil in the hearts of all men. Jesus is "a friend of sinners" and all are welcome in his church and in his family. When a man or woman becomes a Christian, lifestyle changes are essential---regardless of a person's previous "orientation" or lifestyle. 1 Corinthians 6:11 indicates that all true Christians no longer are what they once were in the core of their being:

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral (fornicators), nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals [two different Greek words are used here denoting the different roles of the active partner and the passive partner in homosexual behavior], nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

The Apostle Paul gives detailed guidelines about marriage, the single Christian life, marriage divorce, and Biblical norms for sexual behavior in 1 Corinthians Chapters 5-7. The above quotation falls in the middle of his long and thorough discussion of all these topics.

In his epistle to the church at Ephesus Paul similarly writes concerning purity of heart and integrity of conduct expected among Christians. He reminds us that sins related to sexual immorality are the cause of God's continuing wrath upon the world at large,

"But fornication and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is fitting among saints. Let there be no filthiness, nor silly talk, nor levity, which are not fitting; but instead let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be joint-partakers with them, for once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord." (Ephesians 5:3-10)

The Bible does not teach that homosexual desires, or other forms of erotic desire, lust, envy, greed, covetousness (and so on) are in themselves sin though they may reflect a the universal diseased condition called sin. Temptation not acted on or responded to causes an individual to become stronger and does not incur moral guilt before the Lord. What God disapproves of is certain forms of behavior or conduct, and these certainly include homosexual acts. Heterosexual premarital activity seems to be equally weighted with homosexual acts in Scripture---both are sinful and worthy of death.

Homosexuals are, it is true, socially ostracized and looked down upon by many in society. In most cases these persons do not feel they have become gay by a set of deliberate choices. It is heritage or fate that has made them the way they are as far as they know. The Biblical view is that all of us are fallen and depraved--yet we are each the objects of God's enduring loyal-love. If all are lost, and if Christ died for all and God does not wish anyone to perish, then sufficient grace is available for any sinner to live a life pleasing to God. This may lead to a successful heterosexual marriage, to a less-than-perfect marriage, or to a dedicated single life of celibacy and service. The Apostle Paul (himself single) said, "If for this life only we have hoped, we are of all men most miserable."

Actually the Bible also does not suggest that some individuals are "born" gay, though the fall of Adam has left all of mankind in a state of total depravity according to Romans Chapters 1-3. The breakdown of family life and general morality in a society does result in more individuals becoming vulnerable to seduction into the gay lifestyle. Such persons are often victims of prevailing cultural decadence. However God's grace is always adequate to allow such individuals to embark on a liberating path leading to wholeness and ultimate fulfillment---whether they go on to marry or are called to a single life of celibacy and service. The general deterioration of a culture (because of its abandonment of God) is outlined in the first chapter of Paul's letter to the church at Rome:

"...the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.

"Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.

"For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameful acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

"And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. They were filled with all (kinds of) unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, backbiters, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, implacable, unmerciful. Though they know God's decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them." (Romans 1:18-32)

For a detailed analysis of this famous and key passage in Romans see Ray C. Stedman's messages When Everyone Knows God, The Tragic Sense of Life, and The Deepening Darkness.

What the New Testament emphasizes--in agreement with the Law of Moses--is that those persons who refuse the grace of God and by their own choice continue in a gay lifestyle, or in heterosexual promiscuity, or in adultery, etc., risk not being true Christians at all, have quite possibly deceived themselves. Such individuals will not be received into the kingdom of heaven unless their life style changes and genuine repentance is demonstrated. This is confirmed in the last chapter of the Bible,

"Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and every one who loves and practices falsehood." (Revelation 22:12-15)

Severe though God's final division between right and wrong may seem, the mercy and daily help of Jesus become all the more valuable to each one of us who elects to follow Him. By His death Jesus accomplished not only the forgiveness of our sins, but also made possible a whole new life for any sinner willing to be healed. God "does not desire that any one should perish," indeed "He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked." By His life Jesus saves his followers daily. He said,

"I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it more abundantly." (John 10:9,10)

Paul wrote,

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)

John the beloved Apostle says, "If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."(1 John 1:6-10)

A Great Quote from C.S. Lewis

I take it for certain that the physical satisfaction of homosexual desires is sin. This leaves the [homosexual] no worse off than any normal person who is, for whatever reason, prevented from marrying...Our speculations on the cause of the abnormality are not what matters and we must be content with ignorance. The disciples were not told why (in terms of efficient cause) the man was born blind (John 9:1-3): only the final cause, that the works of God [should] be made manifest in him. This suggests that in homosexuality, as in every other tribulation, those works can be made manifest i.e. that every disability conceals a vocation, if only we can find it --C. S. LEWIS, IN A LETTER TO SHELDON VANAUKEN

Biblical Standards Are not for the World

Today the issues of homosexuality and abortion and women's rights have been so highly politicized it is almost impossible to bring the discussion back to individuals. God loves people as they are, it is wrong for Christians to stereotype any person so that he or she can be treated as a statistic and dismissed. Biblically speaking, God does not ask non-Christians to do what they lack the power to do, namely, to live a godly life.

From the above discussion of the Law it should be clear that God's standards of conduct in this life apply directly only to those who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ as Lord. Other persons lack the understanding, power and motivation to align themselves into harmony with their Creator.

Yet, the gospel message is an appeal to every individual to accept God's gift of forgiveness, wholeness and eternal life. Because all men will one day give account of themselves to God, and because God desires that all men come to know Him out of their own free will choices, behavior that is grossly out of harmony with Biblical standards should be strongly discouraged in a pagan society such as ours. Actually God commands all men to reconsider and change their minds about Who He is and what He desires for the peoples of the earth whom He has made in His own image and likeness:

"The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything. And he made from one (man) every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, for 'In him we live and move and have our being;' as even some of your poets have said, 'For we are indeed his offspring.' Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, a representation by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead." (Acts 17:24-31)

The good news given us by means of the life and teachings of Jesus---and affirmed also by the Apostles---is that God receives sinners regardless of their family background, previous track record or actual current moral condition. Jesus also sees to it that all who come to Him for help are changed and made new so as to be fully qualified to enter into eternal life:

"For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds...For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another; but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life." (Titus 2:11-3:7)

April 1990

Notes on The Experiential Side of Homosexuality

The average heterosexual male can not readily understand the subjective world gay men find themselves in, usually from their early childhood. Pre-adolescent heterosexual boys may hang out with the rest of the guys and shun close friendships with girls in grade school, but at puberty social, emotional ,and physical attraction to the opposite sex usually set in. This may or may not mean early sexual intercourse, but the path of courtship and marriage usually follows in a straightforward manner in what many would call a normal and natural way.

Men who later "discover" that they are gay will say that they felt "different" from earliest childhood. At puberty ordinary same-sex friendships tend to become eroticised and there may be little or no attraction for the opposite sex. If and when they meet an openly gay older man, or experience sex with another boy they then attach the label "homosexual" to themselves---and assume they were born that way.

Sexual desire and sexual attraction to all sorts of love-objects---male, female, or inanimate---is a great mystery. It is in part driven by hormones, inherited temperament, and predisposing psychological factors. The stage for growing up gay is apparently set in earliest childhood---most gay men do not feel they have a choice in the matter. They believe that they are not free to change even if they wanted to. Gay men often express a tragic sense of being born into a socially disliked or unacceptable minority group, and to compensate for this. To preserve some sense of self-worth they hang together and form organizations that especially promote Gay Pride and Rights. Everyone wants to belong and there is always comfort to be gained (at least temporarily) by hanging out with persons of like mind and sensibilities.

Many gay men have felt intense rejection by peers, by family members, by colleagues at work, in the military, and especially maltreatment by their own church. Quite a few gay men keep quiet about their sexual "preferences" and live double lives in the closet, or suffer silently believing nothing can be done to make them any different. The church's position usually shouts condemnation at all such persons--whether they are closeted or not. Gays may as well be lepers as far as many churches are concerned--except that for this form of leprosy there is no cure.

According to modern psychology, sexual object-choices range over wide extremes. Freud believed all men were "polymorphous perverse"---he believed that if the restraints and taboos of society were removed most men would be perfectly willing to try any and all kinds of sexual behavior. There is a very wide range of masculinity and femininity in society, and few men are either 100% gay or 100% straight. Those men who crusade against homosexuality and shout the loudest about their own heterosexual normalcy are often deceiving themselves about their own secret but forbidden proclivities.So the entire subject is complex and the last thing gay men and women need is to be labeled, branded, and stereotyped.

Research in the past 50 years has shown that homosexual desires and attractions are not much affected by hormones, but could be partly due to genetic predispositions in certain individuals. The important research of Elizabeth Moberly, Leanne Payne, Joseph Nicolosi, Jeffrey Satinover, and others has shown quite conclusively that virtually all male homosexuals testify to having had poor relationships with their fathers.

Growing up to be a man is not as easy for boys and womanhood is for girls. All of us spend nine months in the womb of our mothers and we arrive into the world bonded strongly to our mothers. A girl need not experience a major sexual identity crisis in transitioning from girlhood to womanhood---but for a boy it is different. At a very early age (3-5 years of age probably), a normal boy looks around him and sees that there exist differences between mom and dad, between boys and girls. Most of the time the male child identifies strongly enough with his father, an uncle, older brother or other male. Thus a new same-sex bond takes place, and mother gradually begins to take second place.

In some (but not all) instances where there is an absent father, or perhaps a sensitive boy and a cold, indifferent father, taken together with a protective or possessive mother there can be a thwarting of this normal transfer of identity bonding from mother to a suitable male role model.

What does it feel like to be the kind of boy in which this when this same-sex bonding fails to occur? All sorts of books have been written about the "sissy-boy syndrome" or about boys who are non-competitive and/or disinterested in sports. Some boys even display markedly effeminate traits that go beyond the usual range of masculinity-femininity balances found in all men.

Boys who fail to identify with and bond with a father-figure feel uncertain of what it means to me a man--from a very early age. They often inferior to, and alienated from, other boys their own age. Accompanying this is a strong sense of envy: "I wish I were as handsome and well built as so-and-so." Crushes with other guys may develop signaling that a deep unmet need exists in the boy who has never felt really loved and affirmed by a father. It is as if a deficiency existed in the boy's reservoir of masculine self-esteem and he is forever seeking the lost part of himself in other males. Of course dating girls doesn't help any since uncertainty about one's own sexuality and lack of self-confidence and hormonally-driven aggressiveness tends to make such dates awkward and unsatisfactory. It is wrong at this stage to label such boys as gay. They are predisposed towards becoming homosexuals, but they aren't there yet.

Since the basic problem--the inner most need--is for affirmation from members of the same sex--for "same-sex bonding"--the situation can be radically changed by special attention from an uncle, a scout leader, school teacher, youth leader or caring male friend. Or better still, if the father who was never really "there" for his son takes radical steps to build a strong friendship with an alienated son, healing can begin.

When puberty strikes the situation often rapidly changes. What was at first a need for affection, for affirmation from a loving member of the same sex, now becomes easily mixed in with the newly awakened sexual urges. Emotional needs are now eroticised. It is in their teen-age years that many vulnerable, lonely young men reach out for a close relationship with a male friend, or an older man and find themselves deeply responding erotically to that person. A boy's first sexual experiences with another person now begin to strongly influence the young man's life style. Soon our vulnerable youth thinks of himself as gay, identifies with other gay males, and usually comes under the influence of the more active and outspoken members of the gay community. By definition he has become a homosexual because he is now living either a secret or an open homosexual life-style with regular sexual liaisons.

Gay young men who are handsome and virile and new to the gay scene are immediate stars. Attention is lavished upon them and their season in the sun is filled with friends and travel and discovery as one exciting relationship after another begins to fill their lives. Never mind that the purpose of meeting other guys and making new friends is really conquest and sex, not love! It is when we are young that most of us feel that we are immortal and that sowing wild oats is what everyone does and gets away with. Besides all this, "I was born this way. Everyone knows sexual preferences can't be changed. I deserve happiness just as much as the next guy who is sleeping with his girlfriend all the time."

It is possible to be sexually intimate with someone, but not to know them as a person. If this is true in the heterosexual world it is more true in the gay community. God has intended sexual union to be incorporated into a complete, full-orbed commitment of a man and a woman in heterosexual marriage. Illicit sex and promiscuity harden the heart, cheapens the meaning of sex, and degrades the integrity of the persons involved. One's capacity for real love is diminished and there are always scars and consequences when we ignore God's laws. In gay sexual relationships the sought-after same-sex affirmation does not occur--both parties are left feeling emptier afterwards and both often feel cheated or betrayed when their real needs are not met. This does not mean gay men can not be friends or enjoy real affection for one another. But ironically the closest friendships in the gay community are often between men who have never been sexually involved with each other.

Our world is full of sinners, and we don't get to make up the rules about what is right and wrong. The living God, our Creator, has said, "You must be holy for I am holy." (Lev. 11:45, 1 Peter 1:16). Translated into modern terms this could be read, "You must become whole persons, for I, your God, am a Whole Person."

Whole means balanced, well-rounded, and complete. Broken people become whole by establishing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ the Savior. When given permission to do so, God radically changes the innermost nature of all his children! So it is that, in regard to homosexuality, the Bible says or certain persons in the church in Corinth,

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:9-11)

The Biblical standards are clear: all sexual expression outside of marriage damages and thwarts wholeness. It is not a question of straight or gay. Two men who really love each other are called "Christians." There is no way two men or two women or a man and a woman to give themselves to each other in a sexual way that promotes wholeness and the ultimate well-being of the persons involved. Only with God's blessing and the special bonds of heterosexual marriage does sexual expression work together in a redemptive, healing manner.

The cure for homosexuality is not merely abstinence from sexual activity that displeases God. Becoming whole means being loved and filled with Jesus the Lord as one's true and faithful Lover. Anything short of this is spiritual--if not literal--adultery and infidelity. So Paul the Apostle goes on to say

The body is not meant for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, "The two shall become one flesh." But he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Cor. 6:13-20)

The path to healing and wholeness for men or women who were once gay is often not easy. Many such persons marry and raise children and move quietly into normal heterosexual family life in the community. Others may choose a path of Christian service as abstinent men and women, serving by serving His extended family. The gate is narrow and the way difficult for all who would follow Christ. Gays are not in a special category in this regard.

Paul the apostle wrote to young Timothy, his adopted son in the faith,

"The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners." (1 Tim. 1:15).

The important thing is to come to Christ with a whole heart, trusting Him fully, honestly sharing the past, the desires, one's feelings with the One who loves you more than any other ever can or will. Jesus the Lord has never failed yet, down through history, to save the the uttermost all who place their faith in Him.

Reference: The Importance of a father/big brother in a boy's life: God our Father

Revised October 11, 1997, December 13, 2000.

 Nice People or New Men?

If you have sound nerves and intelligence and health and popularity and a good upbringing, you are likely to be quite satisfied with your character as it is. 'Why drag God into it?' you may ask. A certain level of good conduct comes fairly easily to you. You are not one of those wretched creatures who are always being tripped lip by sex, or dipsomania, or nervousness, or bad temper. Everyone says you are a nice chap and (between ourselves) you agree with them. You are quite likely to believe that all this niceness is your own doing: and you may easily not feel the need for any better kind of goodness. Often people who have all these natural kinds of goodness cannot be brought to recognize their need for Christ at all until, one day, the natural goodness lets them down and their self-satisfaction is shattered. In other words, it is hard for those who are 'rich' in this sense to enter the Kingdom.

It is very different for the nasty people--the little, low, timid, warped, thin-blooded, lonely people, or the passionate, sensual, unbalanced people. If they make any attempt at goodness at all, they learn, in double quick time, that they need help. It is Christ or nothing for them. It is taking up the cross and following--or else despair. They are the lost sheep; He came specially to find them. They are (in one very real and terrible sense) the 'poor': He blessed them. They are the 'awful set' He goes about with--and of course the Pharisees say still, as they said from the first, 'If there were anything in Christianity those people would not be Christians.'

There is either a warning or an encouragement here for every one of us. If you are a nice person--if virtue comes easily to you--beware! Much is expected from those to whom much is given. If you mistake for your own merits what are really God's gifts to you through nature, and if you are contented with simply being nice, you are still a rebel: and all those gifts will only make your fall more terrible, your corruption more complicated, your bad example more disastrous. The Devil was an archangel once; his natural gifts were as far above yours as yours are above those of a chimpanzee.

But if you are a poor creature--poisoned by a wretched upbringing in some house full of vulgar jealousies and senseless quarrels--saddled, by no choice of your own, with some loathsome sexual perversion--nagged day in and day out by an inferiority complex that makes you snap at your best friends--do not despair. He knows all about it. You are one of the poor whom He blessed. He knows what a wretched machine you are trying to drive. Keep on. Do what you can. One day (perhaps in another world, but perhaps far sooner than that) He will fling it on the scrap-heap and give you a new one. And then you may astonish us all--not least yourself: for you have learned your driving in a hard school. (Some of the last will be first and some of the first will be last). (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity pp214-215).

Selected books on sexual wholeness relevant to homosexuality:

1. Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach, by Joseph Nicolosi, PhD. (Jason Aronson, Inc., New York, 1991). Nicolosi's clinic specializes in counseling for gay men who which to change their sexual orientation. The best current semi-technical book on the subject.

2. Straight and Narrow, by Thomas E. Schmidt, (Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1995). Prof. Schmidt compassionately and carefully addresses common arguments that the Bible does not condemn homosexual life styles.

3. Eros Redeemed: Breaking the Stranglehold of Sexual Sin, by John White, MD (Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL 1993). Dr. White is a retired Canadian psychiatrist who specializes in healing and help for the sexual broken and for those struggling with sexual identity and behavior.

4. The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse, by Daniel B. Allender, (Navpress, Colorado Springs, CO, 1990). Reveals the long terms and often disastrous effects of unresolved sexual abuse in childhood.

5. The Broken Image, Crisis in Masculinity and Healing Presence, by Leanne Payne (3 separate classic books) (Crossway Books, Westchester, IL. 1981, 1984 and 1985 respectfully). Especially helpful in understanding homosexuality and the damage to sexual identity caused by abuse.

6. The Healing Presence, by Leanne Payne (Crossway Books, Westchester, IL 1989). Mrs. Payne continues to write and speak and to lead seminars on sexual wholeness that have become well known around the world.

7. Coming out of Homosexuality, by Bob Davies and Lori Rentzel, (Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL 1992) Drawn from the experience of men and women who have been part of the Exodus International Christian ministry of San Rafael, California. With bibliography and support group listing.

8. Homosexuality, A New Christian Ethic, by Elizabeth Moberly (Attic Press, Greenwood SC, 1983). A classic research study by a qualified psychologist.

9. Desires in Conflict, by Joe Dallas, (Harvest House, Eugene, OR,1991). On overcoming homosexuality, especially for men.

10. Pursuing Sexual Wholeness, by Andrew Comiskey, (Creation House, Lake Mary, FL, 1989). A former homosexual, now happily married shares principles of freedom.

11. Setting Love in Order, by Mario Bergner, (Baker Books, Grand Rapids 49516, 1995). A very transparent personal life story of a formerly-homosexual man who describes his Christian journey towards wholeness.

12. Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, Jeffrey Satinover, M.D., Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 49516, 1996). "Psychiatrist Jeffrey Satinover examines recent research reported in medical journals (and the popular press). He finds many of these studies flawed and cites evidence that homosexuality is indeed changeable. He explains how psychology, biology, choice, and habit all interweave to produce deeply embedded patterns of sexual behavior. The model Dr. Satinover develops is based on modern science and psychological understandings of habit, compulsion, and addiction. Homosexuality, he writes, 'is one of the many forms of soul sickness that is innate to our fallen nature.'" Dr. Jeffrey Satinover has practiced psychoanalysis and psychiatry for more than nineteen years. He is a former Fellow in Psychiatry and Child Psychiatry at Yale University and a past president of the C. G. Jung Foundation. He holds degrees from MIT, the University of Texas, and Harvard University and serves as a medical adviser to Focus on the Family. Jeffrey and his wife have three children.

13. Judaism, Homosexuality and Civilization, by Dennis Prager. This issue is available for $7.50 from Ultimate Issues. © 1990. Dennis Prager. Write to 6020 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232. Or call 213-558-3958.

14. The Jewish point of view on homosexuality is further amplified by the historian Josephus, "But, then, what are our laws about marriage?...it abhors the mixture of a male with a male; and if any one do that, death is his punishment...The law, moreover, enjoins us to bring up all our offspring, and forbids women to cause abortion of what is begotten, or to destroy it afterward; and if any woman appears to have done so, she will be a murderer of her child, by destroying a living creature, and diminishing humankind."-- Josephus (c. 35-95 C.E.), In, "Contra Apion" Book II Ch. 25. With thanks to puritan@jps.net (CyberPilgrim).

15. Recent Article:


Stop Denying Young Men Treatment

Wall Street Journal
9 January 1997

Suppose that a young man, seeking help for a psychological condition that was associated with serious health risk and made him desperately unhappy were to be told by the professional he consulted that no treatment is available, that his condition is permanent and genetically based, and that he must learn to live with it. Perhaps this young man, unwilling to give up hope, sought out other specialists only to receive the same message: "Nothing can be done for you. Accept your condition."

How would this man and his family feel when they discovered years later that numerous therapeutic approaches have been available for his specific problem for more than 60 years? What would be his reaction when informed that, although none of these approaches guaranteed results and most required a long period of treatment, a patient who was willing to follow a proven treatment regime had a good chance of being free from the condition? How would this man feel if he discovered that the reason he was not informed that treatment for his condition was available was that certain groups were, for political reasons, pressuring professionals to deny that effective treatment existed?

Every day young men seek help because they are experiencing an unwanted sexual attraction to other to other men, and are told that their condition is untreatable. It is not surprising that many of these young men fall into depression or despair when they are informed that a normal life with a wife and children is never to be theirs.

This despair can lead to reckless life-threatening actions. Many young men with homosexual inclinations, feeling their lives are of little value, are choosing to engage in unprotected sex with strangers. Epidemiologist are well aware that the number of new HIV infections among young men involved in homosexual activity is rising at an alarming rate; within this population, the "safer sex" message is falling on deaf ears. One recent study revealed that 38% of homosexual adolescents had engaged in unprotected sex in the previous months.

Young men and the parents of at risk males have a right to know that prevention and effective treatment are available. They have a right to expect that every professional they consult will inform them of all their therapeutic options and allow them to make their own choices based on the best clinical evidence. A variety of studies have shown that between 25% and 50% of those seeking treatment experienced significant improvement. If a therapist feels for whatever reason that he cannot treat someone for this condition, he has an obligation to refer the patient to someone who will.

Also, these young men and their parents have a right to know that, contrary to media propaganda, there is no proven biological basis for homosexuality. A November 1995 article in Scientific American pointed out that the much-publicized brain research by Simon Le Vay has never been replicated and that Dean Hamer's gene study has been contradicted by another study.

The truth is that the clinical experience of many therapist who work with men struggling with same-sex attractions and behaviors indicates that there are many causes and various manifestations of homosexuality. No single category describes them all, but the disorder is characterized by a constellation of symptoms, including excessive clinging to the mother during early childhood, a sense that one's masculinity is defective, and powerful feelings of guilt, shame and inferiority beginning in adolescence.

If the emotional desire for another man is primarily a symptom of the failure to develop a strong masculine identity, then a man's unconscious desire to assume the manhood of another male may be more important than the sexual act. The goal of therapy in such cases is to help the clients understand the various causes of his feelings and to strengthen his masculine identity. Eventually many find the freedom they are seeking and are able to have a normal relationships with women.

Help is available for men struggling with unwanted homosexual desires. The National Association for Research and Treatment of Homosexuality offers information for those interested in understanding the various therapeutic approaches to treatment. In addition, a number of self-help groups have sprung up to offer support to those who suffer from this problem.

As we grieve for all those lives so abruptly ended by AIDS, we would do well to reflect that many of the young men who have died of AIDS have sought treatment for their homosexuality and were denied knowledge and hope. Many of them would be alive today if they had only had been told where to find the help they sought.

By Dr. Socarides of Albert Einstein College, Dr. Kaufman of U Cal Davis, Joseph Nicolosi, Dr. Satinover of Westport Conn, Dr. Fitzgibbons of West Conshohocken Pa.

 

16. Highly recommended: Not a "One Sided Sexual Being": Clinical Work With Gay Men in a Jungian Perspective, by Scott Wirth, PhD in Same-Sex Love and the Path to Wholeness, Robert H. Hopcke, ed., Shambhala, 1993.

17. The Courage to be Chaste by Benedict J. Groeschel, Paulist Press, New York, 1985, is an exceptionally fine book which I recently discovered and recommend highly. (2/1/00)

18. Beyond Gay by David Morrison, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., Huntington, IN., 46750, 1999. An extraordinarily fine new book. See Beyond Gay website. (2/1/00)

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoted in the above book:

Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered" [CDF, Persona humana 8]. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved (CCC 2357).

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition (CCC 2358).

Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection (CCC 2359).

B00K review: A Wonderful Book for Catholics, and Non-Catholics, Too. REVIEWED By ALAN MEDINGER

A round the world, ministry to people with same sex attraction has been largely a Protestant phenomenon. Beyond the organization Courage and several books, resources directed especially to Catholics have been scarce. This situation improves significantly with the publication of Beyond Gay. This book will be a valued resource for Catholics dealing with same sex attraction and for those ministering to them. Also, it has quite a lot to offer the rest of us.

David Morrison is a professional writer, and judging by this book, an excellent one. He grew up with same sex attractions and pursued an active, even militant, gay life for a number of years. He was born to non-practicing Southern Baptist parents, raised in Washington, D.C., was sent to Baptist Sunday school for several years, but reached adulthood with no real faith. He shares his simple but profound conversion in 1993, and tells how, as a new Christian, he was first nurtured in a Northern Virginia Episcopal church that had a strongly evangelical rector. He eventually became Roman Catholic, and his book is written from an unequivocal Catholic perspective.

It is his Catholic perception on sexuality and homosexuality that interested me the most. Although I do not embrace it totally, I am very much drawn to Catholic theology on sexuality. It hangs together so well. Teachings on marital sexuality, homosexuality, masturbation, birth control, even abortion all flow out of a few fundamental truths about God's plan and purpose for us. I believe that all of us do well to examine it.

This is a Catholic book that could help others also in the ways that the author relates confession and the Eucharist to a person's desire to lead a chaste life.

One fascinating thing about David Morrison's own story is that he did not set out to change. Soon after conversion he knew that he must seek to lead a chaste life, but changing was not his goal. It appears that it was on God's agenda, however, even to the point of awakening heterosexual desires in him.

The author has a special gift for gently, but powerfully, addressing those whose agenda it is to encourage society and the church to embrace homosexuality, at times turning the arguments of gay advocates on their heads.

For me, a most intriguing part of Beyond Gay was the author's decision to avoid using the word "homosexual" even as an adjective in describing a person. We have opposed the use of the word as a noun that defines someone, but David Morrison goes a step further. Apparently, to him, even the phrase "homosexual person" tends to distort reality. As I thought about it, the adjective does almost do what the noun does; it brings with it a whole cluster of images that describe a person beyond the direction of his or her sexual attractions.

In this regard, a "person with same sex attraction" is more accurate. The phrase becomes somewhat cumbersome when used several times in a short paragraph, but it started sounding more and more natural as I read on. I have been trying to let the term work into my thinking, and I believe it is doing its work of sharpening my focus on what we really are dealing with in this ministry. You may have noticed that I used it at the beginning of this review. If it catches on, it could be one of many helps and blessings that Beyond Gay will bring to the church and our ministries. (BEYOND GAY, By David Morrison, Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 287 pages, $15.00, available from Regeneration Books. To order, call (410) 661-4337, or send $15. 00 plus $3.50 shipping and handling [Maryland residents add 5% sales tax) to Regeneration Books, P.O. Box 9830, Baltimore, MD 21284-9830).

19. Homosexuality and American Public Life, Christopher Wolfe, Spence Publishing Co., Dallas. 1999. "'Homosexuality and American Public Life' is the most impressive and comprehensive response to the homosexual movement ever assembled. An imposing array of scientists, psychologists, philosophers, and lawyers make the definitive case that homosexuality is both a moral and psychological disorder and a matter for compassionate but urgent public concern. Not content merely to restate the traditional moral position, the contributors address the homosexual movements most compelling arguments with both sympathy and a relentless commitment to the truth. These essays were presented at a 1997 conference of the American Philosophy Institute. Experts probe the common assertions that homosexuality is genetically or biologically determined and that citizens' homosexual behavior should be exempt from social or legal censure..." (from the front dust cover)

20. An email discussion on Homosexual Issues is posted on The Paraclete Forum.

21. Coming Out Straight: Understanding and Healing Homosexuality, Richard Cohen, Oakhill Press, Winchester, VA., 2000.The author is a psychologist who relates his life story in a compelling manner.After leaving his former life style as a homosexual, the author has gone on to a happily married heterosexual life. He and his wife have three children.

22. Out of Order: Homosexuality in the Bible and the Ancient Near East, Donald J. Wold, Baker Books, Grand Rapids 1998. The author is a pastor, counselor, and a professor of Near Eastern Studies. He has a PhD in Biblical and Judaic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. This book is a very careful, thorough, technical, scholarly study of the Old Testament and New Testament passages on sexuality analyzed within the ancient Near Eastern cultural context, but applied to our present age in a loving and compassionate manner.

23. Harvey, John F., O.S.F.S, The Truth about Homosexuality: The Cry of the Faithful. A Comprehensive View of the Issues involved in Homosexuality. Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1996.

Excerpt: A CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGES

On NBC evening news, September 20, 1994, Tom Brokaw pointed out that there are at least 175,000 gay couples in America. The persons interviewed on that program viewed their lifestyle as being on the same level as marriage. This is certainly a challenge to Roman Catholic teaching on homosexual activity. As was noted in the previous chapter, on gay rights legislation,' the social approval of same-sex unions as equivalent to heterosexual marriages is one of the goals of the homosexual movement. While there is no way that the Catholic Church can give any approval to two persons of the same sex expressing their love for one another through sexual genital acts, it is still necessary to consider the various moral aspects involved in such unions. This, in turn, calls for a review of pertinent historical, sociological, and psychological studies concerning these unions. Such research does not treat the theological and moral aspects of same-sex unions; that I will do when I consider John Boswell's Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, a book that will be used by many homosexual persons to justify their same-sex unions. Finally, I shall study Homosexual Partnerships. Why Same-Sex Relationships Are Not a Christian Option, by John Stott.

From the secular literature on same-sex couples I have chosen several representative Works on male and female couples. The first study I Present is that of David P. McWhirter and Andrew M Mattison, The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop, a serious sociological study about the development of male couple relationships.

The authors studied 156 couples whose relationships lasted from one to thirty-seven years, leading to the general conclusion that male same-sex unions last longer than the public thinks they do. They discovered, however, that an explicit or implicit assumption that 75 percent of the couples had made before entering into a mutual agreement to live together turned out to be false. That assumption was that their union would be sexually exclusive.

After five years, all the couples had come to the conclusion that some outside sexual relationships had to be accepted for the survival of the relationship. These couples viewed emotional stability with each other as more important than sexual fidelity. The couples did not come to this conclusion easily, say the authors, because they had accepted the "cultural" bias that fidelity is necessary for a good "marriage". But gradually the couples developed their own concept of fidelity, which is explained in these terms: "it is only through time that the symbolic nature of sexual exclusivity translates into the real issues of faithfulness. When that happens, the substantive, emotional stability of the partner, not sex, becomes the real measure of faithfulness."'

The authors find a partial explanation for the change in attitudes of the couples after a few years in the concept of limerence, which is being in love with the other person together with all the characteristics of this state-an emotional high in which all reality is seen in roseate colors. When the high wears off, relationships often crumble, or at least the other partner becomes less attractive, and other men become more attractive in fantasy and in reality.

As I understand the authors' data, when a couple's union seems in jeopardy, they resort to a curious rationalization. Desiring to preserve the emotional bond between them despite the fact that either or both desire genital sex outside their union, they separate their friendship from their sexual "needs", minimizing its sexual meaning as if it were purely an animal instinct when done outside the relationship, even agreeing to a third person in their sexual activity or to group sex at bathhouses. As long as neither partner becomes involved emotionally with another sex partner, they consider that their union will be preserved. The authors sum up this aspect:

"The majority of couples in our study, and all of the couples together for more than five years, were not continuously sexually exclusive with each other.... We found that gay men expect mutual emotional dependability with their partners and that relationship fidelity transcends concerns about sexuality and exclusivity."

It is important to understand that many of these couples consider sexual intercourse a form of recreation, not to be taken too seriously. As one partner put it: "Sex can be like a recreational sport and still maintain its specialness for us between ourselves. Our relationship is maintained by our love and willingness to make it work, not what we do with others iii bed."'

Actually, 85 percent of the couples had great problems with the concept of sex with others besides their partner. They come to compromises with sexual exclusivity--what is called fidelity in traditional marriage--ending up with a "mutual promise to avoid emotional entanglements with sex partners". One can see how such compromises with fidelity are contrary to the concept of marriage in most religions, not only in Christianity and Judaism. It is likewise a form of dualism to separate sexual activity from human emotions, thereby depriving it of its special meaning in marriage. The very compromises of fidelity by homosexual couples indicate that they do not trust either their partners or themselves to be capable of chastity." (pp233-236)

24. Gerard J.M. Van Den Aardweg, PhD. The Battle for Normalcy: A Guide for (Self) Therapy for Homosexuality, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1997.

25. Kraft, William F., PhD., Whole and Holy Sexuality, Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene, OR 1998. "Homosexuality has become a controversial as well as a debated and unsettling issue. Some people think homosexuality is a perversion, a disease, not good at best. Others contend that homosexuals, while maintaining a different sexual preference, can function as well as heterosexuals. Many are not sure and wonder about homosexuality.

Homosexuality is the condition of experiencing in oneself an erotic preference for members of one's own sex. Someone who frequently yearns to fantasize and act out genital relations exclusively with one's own sex may be homosexual, though not necessarily so. It is important to realize that people do not choose their sexual orientation. Homosexuals do not initially choose to be "gay"; rather, they find themselves oriented in this way just as heterosexuals discover they are "straight."

Homosexuals are persons who feel comfortable and affirmed when intimate with the same sex; with the other sex they may feel weak, resentful, scared, or simply indifferent or less comfortable when genital intimacy is possible or occurs. However, most homosexual men are comfortable with women in situations where genital intimacy is unlikely or impossible. They often demonstrate greater sensitivity toward women than heterosexual men. And since women do not have to worry about genital involvement, many women are more comfortable with homosexual men.

Theories about homosexuality: Studies of homosexuality are not conclusive, though there are many theories. Some scientists assert that homosexuality has a hereditary and genetic basis. Others propose an imbalance of sex hormones. Still others conjecture that during a critical period in childhood a preferred sexual object or person can become firmly entrenched in the mind.

A popular theory is that homosexuality is caused by certain psychosocial pressures and conditioning factors in a person's environment. One study revealed that eighty-four percent of male homosexuals, as opposed to eighteen percent of male heterosexuals, felt that their father had been emotionally distant and indifferent. This theory suggests that a homosexual is seeking a caring and affirmative man. Nevertheless, this does not mean that all boys who lack a caring father will be homosexual or that all homosexuals had a distant father.

Theories of female homosexuality are even less developed and valid. The most widespread hypothesis, far from conclusive, proposes that homosexual women come from dysfunctional families consisting of a cruel father and a martyred mother. The theory adds that lesbians frequently have traits related to dominance, status seeking, intellectual efficiency, and endurance. These traits compensate for the possibility that a male will cause once more the chaos he did when the woman was a child.

Research shows interesting differences between male and female homosexuals. For instance, a lesbian is more likely to have longer periods of attachment to one partner. Male relationships, on the other hand, are usually short-lived and throughout a life span include many partners. Furthermore, the occurrence of exclusive and partial homosexuality among women is two-thirds of that found among men. Also, two-thirds of declared lesbians are bisexual; that is, they have had and/or will have heterosexual experience.

It is important to recognize the non-homogenital motivations in the lives of homosexuals. For instance, some homosexuals feel compelled to visit homosexual places by a sense of adventure that brings excitement and risk. Some seek out other homosexuals in order to "be with--to find acceptance as a member of a community and to escape the alienation of being labeled "one of them." Some homosexuals, especially when bored and lonely, desire a setting where they can be themselves without pretense. Still others, living a highly cognitive and disembodied life, periodically crave excitement.

Many homosexuals come to feel as if they live in two worlds: the so-called "straight" world and the "gay" world. In time, this dual life not only becomes psychologically and spiritually distressing, but also physically exhausting. It is simply very difficult in terms of time and energy to be involved in two worlds. Finding time and space for homosexual involvement becomes a tedious and weary task. Stress sometimes pressures a person to choose one of the two life-styles.

We must be careful not to categorize homosexuals. All homosexuals are not the same. Actually, it is better to speak of "homosexualities" than of "homosexuality." To identify persons with a part of them--in this case their sexuality--is unjust and harmful. Homosexuals, after all, differ as much as heterosexuals. For instance, most homosexuals are not effeminate; effeminate men are not necessarily homosexual. All hairdressers are not gay; all athletes are not straight. Some homosexuals are unhealthy and need help; others are normal in that they cope, succeed, and look and act as most other people. Still others are healthy.

It is my view that homosexuality (understood as homogenitality) is not healthy, but that homosexual persons can be healthy. Homogenital behavior is not healthy because the transcendent dimension of genital love is aborted. Unlike heterogenital relations, homogenital relations neither go beyond themselves nor can they be procreative-a sacred sign of transcendence. What many homosexuals are seeking--to feel permanently at home and to grow perpetually in love--does not progressively and faithfully occur in homogenital relations.

Opponents of this view argue that homosexual marriages do exist. In fact, little data exists to support the existence of such permanent relationships. The genital relations of those few who do live together for a long time are usually absent or minimal so that the ongoing commitment is more aptly described as a celibate friendship than a marriage. Or, a homosexual couple may live together with functional commitment but without the fidelity that genital relations call for. That is, they are more or less promiscuous. As in heterosexual marriages, this unfaithfulness cannot be condoned.

Some people contend that homosexuality can be healthy when it fosters growth. These people make a distinction between promiscuous homosexuality, which is considered not healthy, and homosexuality accompanied by care and fidelity, which is considered healthy. As I indicated above, research suggests that long-term homosexual marriages exist (though rarely); however, such relationships lack fidelity. My view is that genital experiences between persons of the same gender do not foster ongoing wholistic growth.

In short, homogenital relationships run contrary to the process of authentic genitality; that is, homogenital intimacy does not promote the progressive and transcendent growth that is possible in marital heterogenital relationships. Of course' all heterogenital relationships do not promote integral and ongoing growth. However, such growth is possible. Many homosexuals are healthy, but homogenital intimacy is incongruent with the wholistic model.

Some persons, controlling their homosexual cravings, become celibate homosexuals. Although their orientation is primarily homosexual, they love and function well with both sexes. Although they may have homosexual feelings and fantasies, they never or rarely engage in homogenital relations. This is painfully difficult at times, but their sexual desires challenge and motivate them to grow in chaste celibacy.

This can seem and may be unfair, particularly to a homosexual person. Homosexuals are challenged, as many unmarried heterosexuals are, to control and integrate their genital desires without gratifying them. Certainly this can be difficult. Furthermore, a homosexual does not have the option to marry a person whom he prefers, whereas a heterosexual does. In this sense homosexuality is unfair, but ideally it can be accepted as a challenge to growth.

Consider the feelings of this thirty-five-year-old man: "In adolescence I noticed that I was different than most others. I simply did not care to be intimate with girls, but I did desire it with guys. This confused and scared me. It was a heavy and lonely burden to carry. And I felt sad and angry when my friends would joke about gays--- queers and fagots as they called them. Although I've had some homosexual experiences since then, I've usually kept myself in control. Sometimes it's extremely difficult. It seems unfair. I did not choose to be gay, but that's what I am and I accept it. I know I'm not sick because I'm gay. I'm just as healthy as anyone else."

Pseudo-homosexualities: Constitutional homosexuality differs from transitory, situational, or pseudo-homosexualities--homogenital relationships that are relatively short-term. For example, persons who have had homogenital experiences perhaps once or several times in their life, or who have had a so-called affair, are probably not homosexual. A few homogenital experiences do not necessarily constitute a homogenital life-style or orientation.

Here are the comments of a man who expresses unfortunate and unnecessary confusion and guilt: "I've felt uneasy and guilty about something that happened sixteen years ago. My friend and I got sexually involved over a period of seven months. We go very close and shared a lot. I've never been so close to anyone Sometimes we got physical with each other, did some hugging and kissing, and on a couple of occasions some mutual masturbation. It drove me nuts to think I might be gay. It was a heavy and secret burden I had to carry within me. I was scared to talk t anyone about it. I'm glad I talked about it. Now, I don't feel s weird or alien anymore."

This man is not homosexual. He had some homogenital experiences, probably because his intimacy evoked repressed sexuality that surfaced too quickly to control and integrate. This man also had desires for and fantasies about women, a symptom o being heterosexual, but he diagnosed himself falsely. Such pseudo-homosexuality is not rare, especially when a heterosexual relationship is difficult to attain.

Transitory or situational homosexuality occurs particularly between friends who are very sensitive but who have learned to repress or to rigidly restrict their feelings. For example, Don comes from a good but puritanical family and has learned to restrict affective expression. One day he finds himself involved with Mike, a friend who comfortably expresses affectivity. The men care for each other and become so emotionally and intimately involved that they fall into genital behavior as a mode of expressing their love. Instead of identifying themselves as homosexuals, Don and Mike should stop and learn from their relationship. Outsiders should refrain from calling them impure, evil, or queer, and evaluate their relationship in light of solid psychological and spiritual principles-and with compassion. The two men should get help from a competent professional who understands and appreciates the sense and nonsense of homosocial love, affection, and intimacy.

Consider, too, the case of Joan and Lisa. They never or seldom had experienced a trusting and affirmative relationship before they became close friends. In the initial phases of their friendship they feel that everything is possible and nothing impossible: they want to be intimate in every way, including the genital, and though they experience some guilt, they are also ecstatic. Both women, because of their infatuation, feel more alive than ever before. But their heavenly state will end sooner or later. After divinizing each other, they will probably experience a 61 negative stage" when they will begin to focus on each other's limits and imperfections. Consequently, they will be more vulnerable to hurt, bitterness, resentment, and jealousy. If they are willing, however, they can develop an integral friendship that incorporates both their divine and demonic dimensions.

If Joan and Lisa can come to realize that their genital experiences do not nurture their friendship, they can learn to set limits on their expressions of affection and abstain from genital love. These women are not lesbians; they are loving women who originally repressed themselves affectively, then became too physically involved. Although their homogenital experiences should not be condoned, neither should the women be condemned to a life of guilt and alienation or be diagnosed as homosexuals.

Every deep friendship is special and intimate. Friends see each other unlike anyone else sees them; they have and are something special. Moreover, the best of friendships are exclusive: they do exclude others in some way. For instance, friends understand each other in ways that no one else can understand them. Exclusivity in friendship, however, should eventually help the friends become more inclusive-more sensitive and compassionate with others. Friendship should liberate rather than shackle us. Genital behavior between friends is not healthy for either heterosexuals or homosexuals; it eventually destroys the friendship. Although a friendship can be very intimate, it does not include the kind of commitment, time, and space needed for wholistic genital love.

Homosocial intimacy--the way a person relates to the same sex socially and affectively--is a problem that is often more threatening to men than to women. This is partly because our culture makes it difficult for men to be close with one another. If one is male, anything more than a handshake is ridiculed or seen as a perversion. Male affectivity is certainly not fostered.

Another form of homosocial intimacy is "chumminess," an indirect way of expressing affection. Frequent gestures or words of affection and semi-erotic kidding are unlikely to betray latent homosexuality; they more likely indicate a clumsy or less than mature sexuality. However, this hornosocial sexual behavior can be okay in moderation when it offers a safe and fun way to express and learn about affection.

Personally and culturally, women are usually more comfortable in the homosocial realm. They have learned to be more adept interpersonally and their self-esteem often is linked with care. Paradoxically, women may feel personally freer-even pressured-to express affection with one another than men are. Women who are not close to anyone may feel more frustrated and lonely than men. These feelings can lead a person to unnecessary guilt or to premature or immature intimacy--or it can motivate to develop mature relations, with people.

Responding to homosexuality: To help others we always must begin with ourselves. We should know our own assumptions, feelings, thoughts, and values about homosexuality and homosexuals. The first step is to listen to self: What do I feel and think? Am I genuinely concerned? How and why am I concerned? Self-discernment should free us from mixed feelings and free us for caring effectively.

It is important to differentiate between homosexuals as persons and their homosexual acts. Instead of identifying homosexuals with their sexual acts-something neither just nor helpful we should seek to understand them in light of their entire lives. A relative or teacher can be a healthy homosexual who never actualizes sexual impulses; it is possible to live a fundamentally good life but have infrequent and transitory sexual experiences. Also it is helpful to ascertain what a homosexual experience means to the involved persons-how and in what circumstances did it occur? As we have seen, friends who have known emotional restrictions differ significantly from committed homosexuals. It is not my intention here to condone or support homosexual acts; rather, the purpose is to foster understanding, compassion, growth, and community--brotherhood and sisterhood.

Another guideline in understanding homosexual activities is to determine if heterophobia--fear of heterosexual involvement is present. By focusing on the same sex, some people seek to escape their fear of the opposite sex. A man who focuses exclusively on men may be escaping his fear of women. When confronted with women, such a man may become withdrawn, condescending, or just plain scared. Consequently, he may be vulnerable to homosexual intimacy as a way of gratifying sexual desires. A woman, too, may desire intimacy with a woman because she never learned to be intimate with men. Perhaps her past experiences were traumatic-she was abused or rejected by men, particularly her father and brothers. Her quasi-homosexual experiences are likely to be a cover for other problems.

Some people seek sexual satisfaction with the same sex when the other sex is unavailable. This is a tendency in places where only one sex is present. Since such persons usually return to heterosexual involvement, their orientation is basically heterosexual. Whatever the case, the individuals can change their quasi-homosexuality by becoming more aware of and working through their heterosexual conflict or immature sexuality.

A fundamental step is to manifest in ourselves what we want to see in others. Do you and I manifest healthy sexuality and love in our everyday behavior? Do we recognize and behave according to the principle that homosexuals, pseudo-homosexuals, and quasi-homosexuals are radically the same as us-persons? Instead of calling homosexuals "them," can we embrace homosexuals as brothers and sisters of the same human family? The most important response is to show and share a life of love. Without this basic, proverbial presence, other forms of help are ineffective and possibly harmful.

How to help ourselves: What can you do if someone, particularly a friend, pressures you to enter a homosexual relationship? First, it is good to take stock of oneself. What part might you have in the relationship? Do your expressions of affection unintentionally elicit different feelings in your friend? Are you unconsciously seeking or wondering what it would be like to engage in homosexual love? Are your conscious intentions (thoughts) the same as your unconscious intentions (feelings)? If you are chaste (without selfishness and with love), can you understand the sense and nonsense of homosexuality? Can you foster love for all people, including homosexuals, and thereby foster healthy relationships?

Understanding and acceptance liberate us for ' coping competently and compassionately. Instead of rejecting a friend or making (him or her) feel guilty or bad, one can say "no" as an affirmation of one's love. More concretely, one can give reasons for refusing homosexuality and for accepting friendship. In this way a friend will feel accepted without having his or her proposal for genital acting out condoned or reinforced. Both parties will gain a deeper appreciation of the friendship.

One man expressed this challenging dilemma in these words: "I was shocked when Sid, my friend, expressed his desire to have sex with me. I had no idea of his homosexual feelings. At first I felt like punching him in the mouth or throwing up. Wow, was I homophobic. Instead, I said no, and we talked about our feelings. We worked it through. He respects me, and though I disagree with gay activity, I respect him. We're still friends."

What can and should we do if we are involved in a homosexual relationship? First of all, we should stop. Stopping calls for discipline, which includes suppression. Another help is to anticipate and sublimate one's sexual feelings and to seek to integrate sexuality and spirituality. The challenge is to appreciate the wholeness of self and others so that chaste love is fostered.

Moreover, we should listen to and evaluate our behavior in light of established norms even as we foster care, compassion, and forgiveness. What kind of homosexual am I? Do I feel strong desires to be sexually intimate with the same sex? Do I fantasize only about the same sex? Have I been involved in homosexual acts, or am I involved in transitory sexuality that includes friendship? How does genital sex function in my life? Is it integrated with my entire life or is it a fragmented function? Do I live in two worlds: a sexual world and a spiritual one? What are the nongenital motivations for my homogenital behavior? Instead of repressing the Spirit within me, do I acknowledge God's presence to me--even in my homosexual feelings and acts?

Even though a person remains in the homosexual condition and has periodic desires, he or she can still be healthy. Rather than losing spirit, one can transcend the condition and integrate one's sexuality with love. We are called to live a chaste life of love. This is not easy; no authentic life is. It may be a painfully difficult challenge that calls for discipline and sacrifice that go beyond the ways of conventional living.

Pornography: Since pornography is a major public and private issue, some reflections on this subject are in order. Pornography refers to graphic media, particularly books and movies, whose primary purpose is to excite us genitally. Indeed, pornography is more available than it was in the past. It is easy to acquire "porno" magazines. Many R-rated movies verge on or are pornographic. Hard-core pornography, which includes the "sexploitation" of children and adolescents, is a billion-dollar industry.

Pornography is alluring because it "safely" satisfies one's curiosity and stimulates one's fantasy. It offers an idea of what can happen behind closed doors, allowing genital indulgence without the risk of interpersonal involvement. Consider, for example, pornographic books. They allow the user comfortably to engage and test himself or herself with a book's characters or pictures. Unlike other books, they are easy and pleasurable to read. If the user of these books is immature about sex or has other problems, he or she will find easy relief by drifting off into another world.

However, pornographic books and movies are not healthy; they are usually sexist and ageist, and always non-wholistic. Pornography exaggerates the physical dimension of sexuality and minimizes or excludes the spiritual dimension. It attempts to identify a person with sex and to make sex a panacea. Reading porno books encourages us to see people as willing bodies designed exclusively for physical satisfaction. But no person is simply a sexual being; sex is a part of our being. Pornography pressures people to look superficially at self and others and to use them for selfish satisfaction. How easy it is to fool oneself into thinking that sex can replace genuine love.

A man who read several pornographic books in a short time comments: "I felt highly stimulated and yet exhausted, sort of drained out. Although I had a pleasurable time, I felt empty and shallow afterward. I felt sort of odd, like I was less than I am."

This reaction occurs because porn books stimulate only our surface self, consequently, we feel superficial and emptied. Pornography insults its participants by treating them as less than they are. To indulge in pornography is to violate oneself, to treat self as a sex object. Lacking respect for one's whole self is to diminish personal integrity and dignity. A human being deserves and can do better."

25. Growth into Manhood, by Alan Medinger, Waterbrook Press, Colorado Springs, 2000.

26. Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Church's Moral Debate, Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 2000.

27. The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics, Robert A. J. Gagnon, Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2001. See his web site articles

28. The Limitations Of Homosexual Love

Each one of us, man and woman alike, is driven by the power of romantic love. These infatuations gain their power from the unconscious drive to become a complete human being. In heterosexuals, it is the drive to bring together the male-female polarity through the longing for the other-than-me. But in homosexuals, it is the attempt to fulfill a deficit in wholeness of one's original gender.

Two men can never take in each other, in the full and open way. Not only is there a natural anatomical well. Both partners are coming together with the same deficit. Each is symbolically and sexually attempting to find fulfillment of gender in the other person. But the other person is not whole in that way either, so the relationship ends in disillusionment.

The inherent unsuitability of same-sex relationships is seen in the form of fault-finding, irritability, feeling smothered; power struggles, possessiveness, and dominance; boredom, disillusionment, emotional withdrawal, and unfaithfulness. Although he desires men, the homosexual is afraid of them. As a result of this binding ambivalence, his same-sex relationships lack authentic intimacy.

Gay couplings are characteristically brief and very volatile, with much fighting, arguing, making-up again, and continual disappointments. They may take the form of intense romances, where the attraction remains primarily sexual, characterized by infatuation and never evolving into mature love; or else they settle into long-term friendships while maintaining outside affairs. Research, however, reveals that they almost never possess the mature elements of quiet consistency, trust, mutual dependency, and sexual fidelity characteristic of highly functioning heterosexual marriages.

This is not to dismiss same-sex friendships. To the extent that there is friendship, there is love; but it is love limited to friendship.

A Look At Male Couples

Most people, regardless of sexual orientation, hope for a permanent relationship. Lifelong relationships offer most people a higher level of self-esteem, emotional security, health, and happiness.

Homosexuals, too, report the desire to share their lives with a partner. They see stable relationships as the solution to many personal problems. When in a relationship, the gay man is less worried about public intolerance, and he feels less depressed and guilty

"In 1984, McWhirter and Mattison published The Male Couple, an in-depth study designed to evaluate the quality and stability of long-term homosexual couplings. Their study was undertaken to disprove the reputation that gay male relationships do not last. The authors themselves are a homosexual couple, one a psychiatrist, the other a psychologist. After much searching they were able to locate 156 male couples in relationships that had lasted from 1 to 37 years. Two-thirds of the respondents had entered the relationship with either the implicit or the explicit expectation of sexual fidelity.

The results show that of those 156 couples, only seven had been able to maintain sexual fidelity. Furthermore, of those seven couples, none had been together more than five years. In other words, the researchers were unable to find a single male couple that was able to maintain sexual fidelity for more than five years.

McWhirter and Mattison admit that sexual activity outside the relationship often raises issues of trust, self- esteem, and dependency. However, they believe that the single most important factor that keeps couples together past the ten-year mark is the lack of possessiveness they feel. Many couples learn very early in their relationship that ownership of each other sexually can become the greatest internal threat to their staying together. [p. 256]

In a study of thirty couples, Hooker (1965, p. 46) found that all but three expressed "an intense longing for relationships with stability, sexual continuity, intimacy, love and affection"--but only one couple had been able to maintain a 10-year monogamous relationship. Hooker concluded, "For many homosexuals, one-night stands or short-term relationships are typical" (p. 49).

The desire for sexual fidelity in relationship and the benefits of such a commitment are universal. In the long history of man, infidelity has never been associated with maturity. Even in cultures where it is relatively common, it is no more than discreetly tolerated.

Faced with the undeniable fact that gay relationships are promiscuous, gay literature has no choice but to promote the message that faithful relationships are unrealistic. McWhirter and Mattison go further to say that we must redefine fidelity to mean "emotional dependability." That is to say, while it is understood that they will have outside sexual relations, there is an agreement that the partners will nevertheless manage to be faithful to each other emotionally.

Yet how can a relationship without sexual fidelity remain emotionally faithful? Fidelity as such is only an abstraction, divorced from the body. In fact, the agreement to have outside affairs precludes the possibility of trust and intimacy.

Disillusionment and the Choice to Love

The homosexual relationship is doubly burdened with both defensive detachment and the motivation to compensate for personal deficit. Therefore it will usually take the form of an unrealistic idealization of the person as an "image." The pursuit of this image often means developing a self-denigrating dependency on the other man. This unrealistic perspective is based on the superficial aspects of the other person and leads to disappointment. Because of these unrealistic projections, the homosexual couple has difficulty moving beyond this "disillusionment" stage in a relationship.

As he did with his father, the homosexual fails to fully and accurately perceive his lover. His same-sex ambivalence and defensive detachment mitigate against trust and intimacy. Easily disillusioned in relationship, he often renews his hope by seeking another partner. Yet it is this disillusionment stage that offers the opening into a mature relationship. Here we are required to make a realistic, honest perception of the other person, including his faults. Based on that honest perception, we may then choose to love. It is this choice to love that marks the beginning of a mature relationship.

In seeking out and sexualizing relationships with other males, the homosexual is attempting to integrate a lost part of himself. Because this attraction emerges out of deficit, he is not completely free to love. He often perceives other men in terms of what they can do for him. Thus a giving of the self may seem like more of a diminishment than a self-enhancement. The person who brings into a relationship a deep sense of deficit may fail to weather the disillusionment stage because by choosing one person, he cannot have it all. To commit to one person is to give up future options. There is the fear -- actual anxiety -- at the possibility of doing with-out. Thus the homosexual person is inclined to place his hope in possible future relations.

Choosing to love is having to accept the limits of the relationship. It may never have this, or that, or the other thing. The loved one will never be such and such, and so on. Yet maturity means to accept these limitations and create out of them. The creativity to see new options in the relationship comes from a flexibility found within. For in reality, there will always be options-perhaps not externally, but in our expanded repertoire of response.

The moral of this story is: do not expect a monogamous homosexual relationship, for recreational affairs are a part of the gay life-style.

The Search For The Masculine Ideal

In spite of gay rhetoric about androgyny, masculinity remains the gay ideal. It is one's own deficient masculinity that is sought out in sexual partners. Hooker (1965) observes the particular valuing of masculinity; Hoffman (1968) describes masculinity as "the single most desirable feature" (p. 17) and says that "effeminate men are held in much lower esteem than are masculine-looking homosexuals" (p. 145). The following was observed by Barry Dank (1974):

In the gay world masculinity is a valued commodity, an asset in the sexual marketplace .... If there is a consensus on any subject in the gay world, it is that masculinity is better than femininity. The norm in the gay world is that one should be masculine. One should "be a man" and not "a sissy." Statements such as, "Those nellie queens make me sick" are typical. This preference for the masculine involves not only the area of sexual attraction .... in the friendship groupings and homophile organizations I have studied status differentiation ... is highly related to masculinity-femininity, with the most masculine being nearest the top of the status hierarchy. [p. 191]…

As one client explained:

This week I made a list of all the guys I've ever had sex with. I wondered, what was I attracted to? I realized it had to do with exterior traits of masculinity and an appearance of self-assuredness. Some of the guys had this hypermasculinity--they were bodybuilders and so on. Looking back, I realize this attraction to masculinity had to do with my not being confident in myself. I also realize now that most of them were actually as insecure as I was...

The heterosexual, on the other hand, is not as psychologically dependent upon finding the feminine ideal for gratification, since he has no unconscious need to fulfill a deficit in original gender...

The Missing Feminine Element

Women bring stability and complementarity into a love relationship. Without the stabilizing element of the feminine, and the stimulation of her complementary physical and emotional makeup, men are generally unable to sustain sexual intimacy and closeness. When romantic passions wane and same-sex familiarity sets in, one person will usually fall out of love. Typically, an event or situation will serve as a catalyst-something unexpected or uncharacteristic that disappoints one partner. Suddenly the other is seen as failing to live up to the ideal he was originally thought to be. There is deep hurt and a mutual sense of betrayal. There may follow an increasing number of petty quarrels, after which one or both partners decides that they are not as compatible as they first believed, or there may be a single violent and destructive showdown.

With the first experience of boredom in the relationship, male couples often resort to narcissistic maneuvers to regenerate interest. And so there is cheating, teasing, a show of disinterest, and fights, followed by romantic makeup gestures. Homosexual relationships are "often bedeviled from the start by dramas, anguish and infidelities" with a particular intensity of dependency, jealousy, and rage. The most volatile domestic relationships I have worked with have been those of male couples. There are typically complaints of intense ambivalence, violent conflicts, and sometimes physical injuries. Because the relationship is forced to bear the burden of unmet childhood dependency needs, there is a great deal of jealousy and suspicion. The homosexual partner is often preoccupied with such questions as "Where is he now?" "Who is he with?" "If he is masturbating, who is he thinking about?" There may be sexual impotence or a deliberate sexual frustration of the other person as a form of control. The partners frequently become demanding or envious and complain that personal boundaries have been intruded upon. When the couple splits up, they often become cynical about relationships.

Later, a new romance will often bring romantic love with another twinning stage, characterized by excitement with the discovery of each shared trait. However, because these discoveries are often projections of nonexistent similarities, the stage is set for disillusionment. Soon again such a man feels smothered and overwhelmed, and restlessness and disappointment spark the desire for yet another lover

The Problem of Boundary Setting

Every couple committed to a relationship is challenged to surrender to the partner, yet paradoxically, to establish boundaries for their intimacy. The relationship can simultaneously enhance and threaten individual identity. Consequently, in all relationships there is an unavoidable approach-avoidance conflict. This approach-avoidance conflict is particularly evident in homosexual relationships. Many clients who have been in long-term relationships describe them as possessive, controlling, and smothering. When threatened by what seems to be a fusion of identity into someone else, a person usually attempts to establish new boundaries, and in the gay world, this typically involves an outside affair.

Having an outside sexual experience can be a devastating way to recoup the weak sense of boundary. Contrary to the popular gay dictum about its recreational nature, sexual relations remain a profound interpersonal exchange. An outside affair violates trust and creates a new separateness between the partners. To move from one person to another and from one relationship to another is like wandering about in a hail of mirrors. Everywhere a man turns, he comes face-to-face with himself. When he stops and looks at his life, he is faced with the pattern of his disappointments: while each of his partners looked like the problem, he in fact remains the constant. (Joseph Nicolosi, Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach, 1991 Aronson Press, Northvale NJ).

29. James R. White and Jeffrey D. Niell, The Same Sex Controversy, Bethany House, Minneapolis, 2002. A sound Biblical defense verse by verse.

30. John Eldredge, Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul, Thos. Nelson, Nashville, 2001. OUR SEARCH FOR AN ANSWER: First and foremost, we still need to know what we never heard, or heard so badly, from our fathers. We need to know who we are and if we have what it takes... What's fascinating to note is that homosexuals are actually more clear on this point. They know that what is missing in their hearts is masculine love. The problem is that they've sexualized it. Joseph Nicolosi says that homosexuality is an attempt to repair the wound by filling it with masculinity, either the masculine love that was missing or the masculine strength many men feel they do not possess. It, too, is a vain search and that is why the overwhelming number of homosexual relationships do not last, why so many gay men move from one man to another and why so many of them suffer from depression and a host of other addictions. What they need can't be found there... Why have I said all this about our search for validation and the answer to our question? Because we cannot hear the real answer until we see we've got a false one. So long as we chase the illusion, how can we face reality? The hunger is there! It lives in our souls like a famished craving, no matter what we've tried to fill it with. If you take your question to Eve, it will break your heart. I know this now, after many, many hard years. You can't get your answer there. In fact, you can't get your answer from any of the things men chase after to find their sense of self. There is only one source for the answer to your question. And so no matter where you've taken your question, you've got to take it back. You have to walk away. That is the beginning of your journey." --(the author)

31. Homosexuality: Truth Be Told, Regent University Law Review 14 (No. 2, Spring 2002). A series of articles.

32. Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would, by Chad Thompson.

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. --Jeremiah 29:11  

My Story

I'm not gay, I'm not gay, I'm not gay.

When I was twelve years old, I dreamed that I was living in an apartment complex where each of the doors was labeled with the word "fag" instead of the name of the person inside. As soon as I woke up, I analyzed the dream. I concluded that it represented my fear that if people knew I was attracted to men, I would be labeled. I was afraid that because of the label on the outside, no one would want to open the door to find out who I really was on the inside.

Although the dream was unique, the fear I experienced upon realizing I had homosexual feelings was not. I was just one of many young people who begin to wonder how they will survive as homosexuals in a heterosexual world.

I was scared to death.

I'm not gay, I'm not gay, I'm not gay.

I remember the night that I first acknowledged my homosexual attractions. It was the night before my tenth birthday. A cool wind blew through the window across from my bed, a tornado in my soul. I could hear the clatter of pots and pans in the kitchen downstairs as my mom baked cupcakes for the next day's celebration. It was so exciting at that age, having a birthday.

I'm not gay, I'm not gay, I'm not gay.

As I lay in bed, my mind spinning in every direction as if to eliminate any potential that I might fall asleep, I had a breakthrough.

I'm not gay, I'm not gay, I'm not. . .

For some reason, at that moment the denial I had been experiencing since discovering my homosexual attractions the constant voice in my head that assured me I'm not gay just stopped.

I'm not. . .

I was.

I remember the seething horror I felt when I realized who, or what, I was. I began to think about the things I had heard people say about homosexuals during casual conversation. I was taking an opinion poll in my head. How do people feel about homosexuality? How will people feel about me?

As hard as I tried, I couldn't think of a single time that the subject had ever been brought up outside the context of a joke. My mind took me back a few years to a moment at my grandparents' lakeside cabin. Some of my cousins were telling jokes about homosexuals, and I was laughing with them, not even knowing what a homosexual was. But now, I knew. And making the connection between this thing I could tell that people detested and what was going on inside of me was painful, even traumatic.

I heard a symphony of cooking pans playing their tune again as my mom removed the cupcakes from the oven.

Happy birthday to me.

Growing Pains

As time went by, I sought information on homosexuality wherever I could find it. I was afraid to check out any books on the subject for fear that my parents would find them. If they did, I'd have some explaining to do. No one could know about this struggle.

When I turned thirteen, my parents gave me a book about human sexuality. I was so relieved. Finally, I thought, maybe this will explain what's going on inside me. But all the book said about homosexuality was, "It's very rare; it won't happen to you; don't worry about it."

I was devastated.

In the radio and television messages of the 1980s, I heard the back and forth motion of the culture wars swinging like the pendulum on the grandfather clock in my living room. "Gays can change." "No they can't." "Yes they can." "Well, you're homophobic!" I was so confused.

I remember chewing nervously on one of those white foam cups in Sunday school class the morning my teacher taught a lesson on homosexuality. He may have said something about grace or redemption or change. But all I heard him say was, "All homosexuals go to hell," and so I thought I would.

The first time I ever heard anybody say they had changed their sexual orientation was on the Oprah Winfrey Show. The audience was skeptical, and so was I.

I would have given anything to change. Not primarily because I was worried about what my friends or my family or society would think about me (a fear commonly referred to as "internalized homophobia") but because / wanted to change. Not that I didn't care what people would think of me. I was scared to death of being rejected. But I'm just not the conformist type, and my fear of rejection wasn't motivation enough for me to change myself. The desire to change came from within.

Sometime later, I decided to share this struggle with a counselor I had been seeing for clinical depression. It took me two sessions of staring at the floor in silence before I could drum up enough guts to tell him what was going on inside me. Besides the fact that he didn't reject me, which to me was a heroic act in itself, my counselor explained that homosexuals can change. In fact, he had personally counseled many of them through that process.

Wow!

Although the brain is far too complex to explain homosexual development with a single theory, he told me that men who experience homosexual attractions are, unconsciously, trying to recover their father's love in the arms of another man, and women with homosexual attractions are looking for their mother's love in the arms of another woman. This phenomenon, he explained, is why so many people who experience homosexual attractions report poor relationships with their same-sex parents or peers. The unmet need for love and affirmation from someone of our own gender somehow becomes eroticised when we hit puberty.

This was me growing up. When I reached adolescence, my body started telling me I wanted sex from a man, but in my heart I knew it wasn't about sex. Even before adolescence, when I used to fantasize about certain men that I looked up to and respected, I didn't fantasize about sex. My fantasy was that a man would just wrap his arms around me, look me in the eye, and tell me that I meant something to him.

That's what I was missing.

It wasn't a desire for sex; it was a desire for genuine love and affirmation from someone of my gender, and I've found that as those needs get met, my homosexual desires fade. In fact, the most healing experience I've had since realizing that I didn't have to be gay was meeting a man named Lenny Carluzzi, who had walked away from homosexuality twenty-eight years ago. He now lives in Seattle, Washington, with a beautiful wife, two kids, and a dog named Grumpy.

When I first met Lenny at an Italian restaurant in Chicago, he instantly wrapped his arms around me, looked me in the eye, and told me that he loved me. That moment was the beginning of my healing process, and since then God has put dozens of men in my life to provide the nonsexual love and affirmation I need in order to change. Because of this, I have experienced extraordinary victory over my homosexual desires.

Many books have been written about the process of overcoming homosexual attractions. Scholars have debated, and scientific papers have been published in major scientific journals. But for me, the start of this process was very simple. I just needed to be loved.

That doesn't mean that my homosexual desires are completely gone. Just like anyone trying to change some unwanted trait, such as excess body weight, muscular weakness, or poor academic habits, I have my ups and downs. If I do experience homosexual attractions toward another man, it just means I'm not receiving enough of the right kind of love, so I'll call up a male friend for some verbal affirmation or a hug. I think a misconception many people have about those who have changed from homosexual to heterosexual is that we have one cathartic moment we can point to in which every ounce of homosexual desire was drained from our bodies, never to return again. But change takes time.

An important element to the process of change, as I've mentioned, is close, nonsexual relationships with people of one's own gender. I've found, both through my experience and by listening to the stories of others, that anything that creates a sense of disconnection between a child and his or her gender can cause homosexuality. This can manifest itself as rejection, real or perceived, from same-sex parents or peers, or as some form of sexual molestation.

Along these lines, I've found that anything that creates a sense of reconciliation between a person and his or her gender can eliminate homosexuality. Two of the most potent ways this can manifest itself is through camaraderie with, and nonsexual touch from, members of one's gender.

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

The first time I experienced the power of touch to combat homosexual desires was the first time I ever met another person who had struggled with those desires. Until that point in my life, most of the hugs I had been given from other men were very short. "Ever straight" men, as my friends and I call them, don't always give the most potent hugs because they fear that if they hold on too long, people might think they're gay. So I had never really been given the kind of hug that I longed for: a long, warm embrace that I could fully internalize as affirmation from another man.

I had just arrived in Chicago for my first-ever meeting with an organization called God Brothers, a support group for homosexual strugglers, and the first thing I did upon exiting the aircraft was run into the arms of a friend named John. We had been talking on the phone for nearly six months about what it would be like to receive a "real hug" from another man.

Before that, I used to roll around in my bed, writhing from the emotional pain that accompanies the deficiency of such an important relational nutrient. At times, my hands would involuntarily grab for inanimate objects in desperation, and, although I don't know exactly how to describe this, I was actually experiencing the trauma of emotional pain in my hands. My skin was hungry.

So you can imagine the effect that the arrival of my body in John's arms had on my emotional and physical well-being. It finally put to an end the emotional and physical toll that my adversary, touch-deprivation, was having on me. It was almost ironic, but after years of praying that God would put a man into my life who wasn't afraid to give me a real hug, I now began to pray that God would send someone who would just hold my hand.

That's where Ben came in. He sat next to the couch I was sleeping on during my first night at John's apartment and held my hand until I fell asleep. I remember holding my hands up in the air following that experience and praising God for sending Ben into my life to heal my hands. This healing was miraculous, and though I was too caught up in the drama of meeting so many new people to realize it, I hadn't had a single homosexual thought all weekend.

Another crucial ingredient in my healing process has been camaraderie with male peers, especially those with whom I can identify. When I see aspects of my personality in other guys my age, it's almost like my masculinity finds a harbor. I have found that even casual relationships with other guys with whom I can identify create an intense sense of reconciliation between me and my masculinity.

The power of this concept was brought home to me when I went on a three-day pleasure trip to Colorado with two college guys from my church, Justin and Ben. To them, we were just three guys having a good time, but to me, the intensity of the experience was almost overwhelming. Besides the fact that we had an enormous amount of fun during those three days, the constant stream of affirmation from two guys my age with whom I could identify rendered me a complete disgrace to the homosexual orientation. I couldn't have drummed up an erotic attraction to another guy even if I had tried.

The week following the trip, I was inundated with sexual thoughts about men, none of which elicited any chemical or physical reaction in me.

Nonsexual affirmation, when properly internalized, will devour homosexual attractions. But homosexual strugglers require a constant stream, not a single dose.

A Dangerous Message?

As I have traveled to speak at high school and college campuses, I have encountered people who call my message"dangerous" and tell me that it's contributing to the suicides of gay youth who need to be accepted for who they are. I understand their concern; I really do.

I can understand how lesbian and gay youth, many of whom are often mocked by their peers and humiliated even by their teachers simply for being different, could view my message as a personal assault. That's why I have never told anyone they have to change their sexual orientation in order to be loved by God or by me; I only tell them that they can change if they want to.

A few years ago, I started an organization called Inqueery (www.Inqueery.com) in hopes of opening more doors to tell my story. But Inqueery does not exist to condemn homosexuals who are happy with their sexual orientation. We are merely throwing our hat into the ring, advocating for a non-biased discussion of LGBT issues in the public-school setting (see chapter 4). Whether or not students see changing their sexual orientation as beneficial, they at least deserve to know that it can be done.

In contrast to those who believe my message is dangerous, I have heard the stories of people who after years or even decades of trying to change their sexual orientation, came up short. These people feel not only as if they put themselves through a torturous process for no reason but also that they wasted years of their lives. But for many people, the opposite is true. Consider the following comments:

I wasted fourteen years in therapy with therapists who had a "you're gay, get used to it" mentality which I find incredibly unethical.

A lot of people think they are okay being gay. But I never had peace of mind until I started to change.

I was deceived for a number of years into believing that there was nothing I could do to change my sexual orientation. ... I tried counseling but was simply told to stop fighting the homosexual feelings and accept who I was. I became trapped in the compulsion of cruising, going to the gay bars, and getting involved in a number of empty relationships. . . . The greatest freedom came when I discovered that I could move away from [homosexual behavior] and began to see myself differently.

My Story

Why do some people feel as though trying to change was a waste of time and others feel that time was wasted not trying to change? For those whose attempts to change seemed unsuccessful, the problem is not that change is impossible but that change is improbable. These individuals likely were given an inaccurate or incomplete explanation of what the process of change entails, or they may have set an unrealistic time line for their expected transformation. I'll go into more detail about this later. For now, I'll just say that while many factors can add to or subtract from the challenges of going through this process, no one is without the potential to change their sexual orientation. Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, in his book Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality, writes, "There is always an underlying . . . latent heterosexuality on which to build change in the client who seeks it."

An accusation I commonly receive during speaking engagements is that my desire to change is not really my desire to change. Rather, our homophobic society causes me to want to change so that I can avoid being misunderstood or ridiculed for my homosexuality. But I find this logic hard to swallow, because I have been harassed and misunderstood as an ex-gay just as much as I would have been if I had embraced the gay identity. Probably more so. (For the purposes of this book, the term "ex-gay" refers to anyone who has experienced homosexual feelings or behavior and desires a change in direction.)

Of course, I could avoid all of this hassle by keeping my struggle a secret, which is the solution that Christians usually offer to LGBT people. We say, "Why are homosexuals so blatant, always making a spectacle of their sexuality by kissing in public, wearing wedding rings, and telling everyone what they do in the bedroom?" But asking people to keep themselves a secret is not the solution.

A person's sexuality is not a huge deal, but it is a big deal, and being forced to hide it is not healthy. It's not healthy for those who have chosen to embrace their homosexuality, and it's not healthy for those of us who have chosen to come out of homosexuality.

In the same way that ex-gays are often afraid to tell our stories for fear that we'll be ridiculed or even harassed by homosexual activists, some LGBT people live in fear of being ostracized by those who oppose homosexuality on religious or moral grounds. I've heard stories of LGBT people who keep their partners' photographs in their desk drawer at work for fear of being ridiculed by their coworkers, or even terminated by their employer, if their sexuality is discovered.

I believe that loving gay people requires us to fight for their right to live outside the closet without consequence, whether or not we agree with homosexuality.

Whoever Loves First

We love because he first loved us. --1 John 4:19

I hadn't even arrived at the western Iowa high school where I was scheduled to speak and already I was being attacked. The LGBT student organization at the town's university heard that I was coming, and one of the staff members wrote to the local newspaper, warning people to stay away from my seminar. The day before my visit, the group organized a special meeting of students and staff to figure out what they were going to do with me when I got there.

I can't say I wasn't expecting it. I knew that as soon as they read the term "ex-gay" in my seminar description, I would likely walk into that high school carrying the entire history of the Christian church on my shoulders. The anger which was still brewing in their hearts toward every Christian who had ever told them that they were pedophiles or perverts or that they were "going to hell" would be taken out on me. I was "one of those nuts who thinks he changed his sexual orientation" and was going to tell them they all had to do it too in order to qualify for God's love.

Or was I?

The first thing I had to do going into the situation was to figure out what they were expecting me to say so that I could make sure I did not say it. Whatever it was they had heard from the ex-gays who preceded me had obviously not left a good impression.

Some local Christian men who had found out I was coming made it clear that they wanted me to tell the homosexuals that they were all sinners and would go to hell unless they repented of their homosexuality. They also wanted me to warn the homosexuals that their behavior was going to kill them.

I responded by telling these Christian men that although I knew their request was well-intentioned, I felt that doing either of those things would alienate my audience and my entire message would be discounted. I explained that my only purpose was to show love to a group of people who, until my visit, had probably perceived only hatred from those who claimed to represent Jesus.

My hunch was confirmed when one of the men, Raymond, raised his hand at the end of one of the seminars. He told the members of the lesbian and gay group that God loves them, but then he read from Scripture and basically told them they were going to hell. They instantly cut him off.

His ministry was over.

Similarly, I recently received an email from a Christian organization about a seventy-year-old woman who was evicted from her apartment for trying to engage a neighboring tenant, who was gay, in a conversation about hell. She received the eviction notice when this neighbor complained to the apartment manager. The woman said that before this confrontation (which I'm sure was done out of love), she had had a good relationship with her gay neighbor.

She doesn't anymore.

When it came time for me to speak to the students in western Iowa, I think I may have disappointed many of the Christians in attendance by not breaking into a laundry list of the many things that the LGBT students must change about themselves.

Instead, I recounted what it was like for me growing up with homosexual feelings. The pain, the fear, the isolation. Then I launched a PowerPoint presentation that detailed many of the hardships that LGBT people have endured and I presented solutions. I spoke about the fears involved in "coming out," I spoke against the epidemic of gay epithets, and I touched on the importance of showing respect to LGBT people.

I identified with them.

The fact that I was using words like "discrimination" and "homophobia" threw the Christians for a loop. But the fact that I was saying these things as an ex-gay had the gays and lesbians just as perplexed. I think just about everyone in the room was having a hard time figuring out exactly which side I was on. And the militant homosexual activists who stood at the back with their arms crossed, trying to figure out how they could attack such a respectful, non condemning message, had looks on their faces that said, "What do we do now?"

Joe Dallas, in his book A Strong Delusion, writes about his life before he overcame homosexuality.

Every day I saw something that reminded me that homosexuality was abnormal, immoral, unequal to heterosexuality. . . . Having struggled so hard to accept my identity, I was not about to reject it again. But the tension between society and me had to be resolved. One of us had to be wrong, and I had already decided it wasn't me. So I needed to convince myself that society erred in its beliefs about, and treatment of, homosexuals.

It wasn't too hard finding evidence to support my belief. Prejudice against gays would crop up occasionally a "fag" joke overheard in the lunchroom at work, graffiti scrawled on the walls of my favorite gay bar, newspaper accounts of yet another gay man assaulted. All I needed to do was convince myself that prejudice was more than occasional—that it was lurking everywhere, lurking behind every negative view of homosexuality, no matter how reasonably that view was expressed. Thus all objections to homosexuality were, in my mind, born of bigotry or misunderstanding. That made those objections easy to write off as "prejudice," and my comfort with myself would stay intact.

Many lesbian and gay people need Christians to be hateful and ignorant in order to convince themselves that our message is the result of ignorance, homophobia, or some massive right-wing conspiracy. But if we take the time to understand them, showing genuine concern for the things that trouble them, they might actually consider our message on its merits. Often LGBT people refuse to accept our message simply because they perceive an ulterior motive on our part. They know that, often, Christians who show them love are doing it only so we can eventually talk them into "going straight." So we must show love to homosexuals regardless of whether they want to change. Real love does not demand anything in return.

Love without Strings

The power of unconditional love was brought home to me when, after my session in western Iowa ended, a gay man named Kevin approached me and asked if I wanted to have lunch with him that afternoon. I'm ashamed to say that I doubted his motives. Why was this man, who only minutes earlier had attacked me, calling me "ignorant" and my message "dangerous," inviting me to have lunch with him? Was he going to come on to me? Or worse, try to hurt me?

To the contrary, he wanted to make peace. After completing rounds of personal attacks against me without eliciting so much as a negative tone from my lips, Kevin was left with no legitimate reason to discredit my message. He was forced to analyze my message for what it was, and when he did so, he realized that maybe I had a point.

There are two important ministry concepts at work here. The first one is the importance of presentation. I've found that many LGBT people who are offended by my seminars aren't offended nearly as much by the message that gays can change as they are by the context in which it's given. For the most part, the only time LGBT people ever hear from ex-gays is when our stories of transformation are being used to condemn them. (This is especially true during public-policy debates in which ex-gays' personal testimonies are used as political ammunition to defeat gay civil-rights legislation.)

Kevin later wrote these words in an email to me:

After sitting through your presentation, I was immediately reminded that I needed to be less judgmental of people who self-identify as 'ex-gay/ especially when they, like you, speak out against discrimination and prejudice based on sexual orientation. Until you, I just hadn't met an ex-gay person who was not openly heterosexist and homophobic.

I received a similar email from a young man who had stumbled upon my website while doing some research on gay bashing. He wrote, "If there must be an ex-gay movement out there, I hope you can lead the way. I don't agree with the notion that you can turn somebody into an ex-gay, but I was amazed at the respect you offer homosexuals. Mr. [name omitted] and many other antigay folks could learn from you. Thanks."

The second ministry concept has to do with how we respond to the attacks of those with whom we disagree. Many people respond to the attacks of their adversaries with counterattacks or, at the very least, angry tones and a callous disposition. But these moments of attack are actually the most effective ministry tools we possess. Consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:

You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Love is never more potent than when it is given as a response to hatred. Our kindness in such moments will add more to the credibility of our message than the best academic reasoning will ever achieve. Yet, so often, these moments are lost.

During my first "missionary journey" in western Iowa, the LGBT people who attended my seminar leveled their attack against me as soon as I told them that I had changed my sexual orientation. But I remained calm and respectful in my replies, trying to imagine how Jesus would react. But I kept getting interrupted by religious people from the audience who considered arguing to be a more potent response.

A good friend of mine recalls a speech he gave on a college campus a few years ago on the process of change. Toward the end of his message, he was interrupted by a swarm of angry lesbians. These were not your "typical" gay activists. They were loud, violent, and determined to cause trouble. How did my friend respond? He jumped off the platform and, finding himself standing right in front of the leader of this militant mob, asked if he could give her a hug. He says, "You should have seen the look on her face when I asked her that. When I wrapped my arms around her, I could just feel the anger subside as she realized that everything she had assumed about me and my message was wrong. She realized that I really loved her, and a few seconds into the hug, she actually squeezed."

One accusation I seem to hear from religious groups all the time is that LGBT people are not tolerant of those whose views differ from theirs, but that hasn't been my experience at all. The first time I ever spoke on a college campus as an ex-gay, I was verbally attacked by one of the professors in the audience. When the session ended, the president of the college lesbian and gay group actually approached me to apologize for this man's intolerance and to express her acceptance of me as an ex-gay.

Even so, not all homosexuals are tolerant, and even Kevin took some shots at me initially. But I've found that, for the most part, when I present my message in a truly respectful manner, most of the homosexuals who hear it are tolerant. In fact, almost the entire lesbian and gay campus group that had come to my first session in western Iowa to attack me came to my second session, and many of them even supported me.

One of the reasons they accepted my message is that I had the right to give it. Had I gone in there as a straight man and informed them that they were all going to have to change, I would have been eaten alive. But the fact that I actually have changed gives me the right to speak about the possibility of change.

Another reason I was successful is that I did not tell anyone they had to change anything about themselves.

I've found that if I tell my story in a way that respects the right of others to remain gay, they'll respect my right not to.

Pearls and Swine

Many people would criticize me for not taking a more direct approach. Many would say my approach is flawed because I don't "tell them the truth" but instead choose to remain morally neutral.

Though there are many biblical accounts in which Jesus chose to be direct with people, usually followed by a run for his life, there are also plenty of accounts in which he didn't. In Luke 20, when the religious leaders ask Jesus by what authority he performs miracles, he actually refuses to tell them because he knows that he's being led into a rhetorical trap. Later on in the chapter, when he is asked if it's lawful to pay taxes, he responds with a counterquestion.

Jesus showed grace to the humble and disgust with the proud. Much of the time, he spoke to unbelievers in parables they didn't even understand. Jesus had different messages for different people, and so should we. This is what Jesus meant by "casting your pearls before swine" (Matt. 7:6). He was not saying that we should stop communicating God's truth to unbelievers; he was saying that we should take care in discerning what we teach and to whom we teach it (also see Col. 4:5).

Many Christians, when speaking publicly, are very direct when communicating what they believe the Bible says about homosexuality. When defending their methods, they cite Scripture verses such as Romans 7:7 (which affirms the importance of the law) and Ephesians 5:11 (a command to expose sin). Another passage commonly referenced as a model for evangelism is in Acts 2. Peter boldly proclaims the message of the cross to a group of Jewish people on the Day of Pentecost and then commands them to repent (w. 22-41). That approach is not always wrong, but it is not always right either.

Most modern evangelism is based on Peter's approach. However, Christian author Ken Ham believes that most modern evangelists have not really considered the methods of evangelism used by the early Christians when speaking to non-Christian audiences. In his book, Why Won't They Listen? Ham suggests that Peter was straightforward with the crowd in Acts only because they already understood that they were sinners.

Because the crowd Peter was speaking to was made up of Jews who already had an understanding of the Old Testament, Peters only job was to convince them that Jesus was the Messiah. Since they already believed in God as the sole creator of the universe, the fall of Adam, and death as the penalty for sin, Peter could come on as strong as he wanted too. Yet in Acts 17, when Paul stands before a crowd that doesn't believe in God, he takes a completely different approach.

The book of Jude also sheds some light on the subject of evangelism. It details two specific but distinct methods of reaching people:

And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

There are times to be bold and speak the truth, and there are times to be gentle and calculating. It is up to us to make the distinction. (Isaiah 28:23-29 uses a farming analogy to illustrate this need for diverse ways to approach ministry.)

Consider Paul's ministry in Corinth. His mission was not to expose the sins of the Gentiles, as this would have only ticked them off and effectively ended his ministry. (Remember Raymond?) Instead, Paul made it his goal to eliminate anything, other than the message of the cross, that would offend his audience (1 Cor. 9:12). Paul knew the Holy Spirit would eventually address the sin in their lives (1 Cor. 4:5).

I have been told that trying to "sell the gospel to people without telling them what it's going to cost" is a surefire way to create false converts. But this reasoning is flawed because it assumes that my delivery of the message, rather than the working of the Holy Spirit, is responsible for changing hearts. (While human arguments by themselves can accomplish nothing, God does call us to be strategic in the delivery of his message.)

Another problem with the "false convert" ideology is that it sticks God in a box by assuming that he has only one method for calling the lost. God has many ways of reaching people.

While writing this chapter, I received an email from Billy, a member of the LGBT student group in western Iowa who identified with my message and confided in me that he didn't really want to be gay. Now that I've established a relationship with him, I am free to discuss a variety of topics on a personal basis, including my faith. But he was willing to open up to me only because when we met, I loved him enough to avoid phrasing my message in a way that would offend him.

While many Christians have told me that the only loving way to share the gospel with someone is to "tell them the truth" (point out the sin in their lives), Paul understood that the only truly loving way to share the gospel with someone is to tell them the truth in such a way that they will respond. Paul accomplished this by identifying with his mission field. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul says, "To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some" (w. 20-22).

Christian communicator Steve Bush tells the story of a nineteenth-century Chinese missionary:

Hudson Taylor was a man that went to China 200 years ago to be a missionary, and, as any good British man, he had the ruffles and the long jackets and the knickers and everything. He tried and tried to show these people God's love, but he couldn't get them to understand it because he couldn't get them to understand him. So you know what he did? He took off his jacket, he took off his knickers, he took off all of his ruffles and his weird hair, and he grew his hair long and shaved his head bald except for a long ponytail, and he put on the native dress of the Chinese. As soon as the people understood him, they were also able to understand his message.

When Hudson went back to his mission organization meeting, he walked in dressed like a native Chinese, and a bunch of the British people almost fell off their chairs. They said, "You've come here and you're acting like one of them!" But to Hudson Taylor that was the whole point.

Sounds like a lot of work. Why go to all the trouble when it's so much easier to shove the Bible in someone's face and call it a day? Because we were all initially like the native Chinese, unable to comprehend the message of the cross. It was our inability to understand the Word in the form it had been given to us that created the need for the Word to appear in another form. So the Word became flesh (John 1:14). Had it not, none of us would have understood it.

The best way to "become flesh" to people is to identify with them. As I mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, I was able to identify with the LGBT students in western Iowa by recognizing and relating to their hardships. Unfortunately, the church, in general, has been too busy trying to change LGBT people to recognize that some of the discrimination LGBT people have faced has truly been unjust. However, most Christians, regardless of how upset we are about the gay political agenda or the indoctrination in the schools, still agree that it's not okay to beat up homosexuals. So Christians and gays do agree on something! A great way to identify with a person or group is to emphasize common ground.

This article was adapted from the forthcoming book Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would, by Chad Thompson. Published by Brazos Press. ©2004 Chad Thompson

33. Emotional Longing in Men, by Alan Medinger

We have long recognized that the homosexual drive is not, at its root, sexual. The drive gains its direction and power from certain things inside a person, in many cases unmet needs or fears. Not always, but most often, in men it is an unmet need or a deficit, and in women, it is a fear.

This article will deal solely with male homosexuality because Jam going to discuss an unmet need that comes out of a deficit in a boy's relationship with his father. To be clear, women dealing with same-sex attractions (SSA) can have father deficits too, and so true healing for them may at some point require them to see men as protectors (a fatherly role). But the dynamics of these father deficits are quite different, so I will focus on men with SSA.

The two most frequently seen nonsexual-that is non-erotic--roots of male homosexuality are 1) a longing for manhood (one's own), and 2) a longing to connect with manhood (someone else's). In most boys, their own manhood develops in the normal process of growing up, identification with the father, inclusion in the world of boys, and finally reaching outside of themselves to one who is "other," to a woman.

In most boys the connection with someone else's manhood is taken care of through early experiences with a loving and affirming father. With most SSA men, however, this connection was not made. Then, as often happens when a legitimate need is not met, the longing for it grows stronger and stronger. It becomes a craving for those things that early connection with the father should bring-security and affirmation. And, as is characteristic of males, the longing becomes sexualized. At first, the boy may imagine his needs being met in a physical way (like a strong man befriending him or a brave man rescuing him), but eventually, the pictures develop sexual overtones. The craving for an intense connection with a man becomes a desire for a sexual relationship with a man.

What I am talking about here is not just identifying a psychological need, but accessing a deep emotional longing. These longings of the heart must be addressed because true and deep healing can only come as we uncover the pain of the past and experience where it remains present with us today. Using a specific example, this is what I will address in this article.

The Place of the Symbolic

Symbols are tremendously important here. If we can't understand the presence and power of symbols, there is much we don't understand about life. This is particularly true with respect to human sexuality. In what follows I am going to deal with one specific symbol that is significant to many SSA men. If readers cannot identify with the symbol addressed here, perhaps another one could be substituted.

What are the symbols of manhood? The most obvious one would be male genitals, but there are many others: Physical strength, height, a deep voice, a hairy body. There is one, however, that people who have not dealt with same-sex attractions might never guess, but it is one that I run into over and over again. A man in our ministry tells me, "I fell into masturbation last night after I started surfing the TV looking for chests". Another says, "I'm not really after sex. If I could only lay my head on some strong man's chest...." The men in our groups complain about how difficult it is when spring arrives and construction workers start taking off their shirts.

This may seem strange to some, but when you think about it, a man's chest is a logical symbol of manhood. The symbols of manhood are those characteristics of men that make them different from women. A man's size, muscles, hairy body--and chest--all distinguish him from women. And the chest, in more than just a physical or figurative way, is at the center of a man. In our culture, the core of a man is his heart--located in his chest. Typically, the chest is big, thick and solid; it often connotes strength.

An old command to military recruits was "chin up, shoulders hack, chest out." This up-front chest declared manhood.

It can greatly help the man struggling with SSA, or those trying to help him, to recognize, not just the sexual attraction that draws him, but also the deep emotional longing--the ache--that lies at the root of his attraction to men. The longing for intimacy is why he might picture being satisfied by laying his head on or touching the bare chest of a man.

I think that this kind of longing for intimacy is natural in a little boy, and usually it is met in the normal physical contacts of a father and son. My son demonstrated this quite clearly. When he was first able to crawl out of his crib, sometimes on Saturday mornings, when my wife and I were sleeping in, he would come get in our bed. He would unbutton my pajama top, then pull his little pajama top up, and lay on my chest, bare skin to bare skin. Steve grew up with quite a healthy male identity, and this expressed his little boy's desire to connect with his father.

Now picture the adult man with a deep unmet need for the security and affirmation that could come from a father; what could seem more comforting than imagining his face resting on the strong, warm chest of a man, the man's strong arms wrapped around him?

Filling the Empty Place

For the adult SSA man, however, filling the empty place in his heart through such contact today is probably not possible. First, if physically intimate male contacts were healing, then all active homosexual men would outgrow their homosexuality and be healed. To the contrary, these longings of men in the gay life continue or get worse. Even in a Christian setting, if one were to find a man who had the heart to minister to the SSA man in a physical way such as this--which is extremely unlikely--the struggler could perpetuate his self-image of being a little boy.

Still, healing from homosexuality requires that we address the aching heart. Unfortunately, it is likely that for most, the ache will never go away totally, but there are actions we can do to diminish it. Here are some suggestions:

1. Grieve the loss--with Jesus. Fully acknowledge the pain of never having experienced the loving physical intimacy of a father. Let the pain of that reality come to the surface. Bring it to the Lord; talk to Him about it. Let Him minister to you in the loss.

2. Let Jesus minister to you physically. I have become convinced that no mere man can fill the deep needs that are in the man who has spent years longing for a certain type of male love and intimacy. The void is too great. But there is One who can meet these needs. In my early years as a Christian, Jesus would allow me to be intimate with Him in my quiet times in ways that clearly filled the empty places in me. I could imagine that He was my older friend or brother, and after a long day of hiking, we would sit down by a rock and I would rest my head on His chest. I worried that this would turn erotic, but I sensed Him saying, "Don't worry about it if it does' and it never did. As He met the deep needs and filled the empty places, the longing diminished, and after a time, my need for male relationships became as healthy and normal as anyone's.

I am not sure that the Lord will work this way in every SSA man's heart, but do grieve the loss, go to Him, and He will minister to you in some way.

3. Desexualize the need. Hopefully, reading this article has already started the process. Ask the Lord to help you identify the specific longings that might be driving your security, male intimacy, being valued by a man, physical touch, whatever--and whenever such needs are felt, say to yourself and the Lord, "It really isn't sex I want; what I really want is ... (whatever needs you have identified). Ask the Lord to meet that need at that moment. Over time the link between the felt need and sexual desire will diminish.

4. Repent of any idolatry. If a man's chest, or any part of a man's body has become so important to you that you think you may be falling into idolatry, repent of the specific sin of idolatry, and every time you find yourself going there again, picture yourself smashing the idol and turning to the one true God.

S. Accept the fact that the need may never be fully met in this life. However, when acknowledging this, put the problem in the perspective of your total life. Seek to avoid self-pity and seek to develop a grateful heart. Every man goes through life missing out on some things. But for the believer, God has given each of us so much.

6. Become a father. I say this a bit facetiously--of course fatherhood is not possible or practical for every man--but for those men who have started to receive from the Father, those who have begun to really experience some significant healing and growth in the area of their own manhood, when these men become fathers, there is a way in which, as they pour out love and intimacy to their little sons or daughters, God pours into them the same thing. When that happens, our sense of our self moves further from that of a needy little boy to that of a life-giving man.

7. Watch healthy fathers. If fatherhood isn't realistic for you, let me suggest something else. Tom and his wife and young son and daughter are often a few rows in front of me in church. Tom and his children are very physical. The kids are constantly snuggling up to Tom or touching his face. He puts his arms around them or strokes their heads--all in a very natural and unobtrusive way. Whenever I see this, my heart warms, and I feel joy for this family.

Witnessing such an interaction will likely stir up longings in you, and when the feelings arise, go to the Lord with your longings, seeking to lay them down before Him. With your eyes turned from yourself, start praising God for the blessings that these children are receiving. This is not to say you should stuff the ache you feel, but as you bless God for what these children are receiving that you did not receive, you may find a new freedom to receive the intimate love of your heavenly Father.

God does not leave any of us alone in our pain. He has promised to be father to the fatherless. Let Him do that. Let Him start to fill the empty places in you. ---January 2006, Regeneration News PO Box 9830. Baltimore, MD., (410) 661-0284 http://regenerationministries.org/


Many of the above books are available from Regeneration Books, POB 9830, Baltimore, MD 21284; Phone (410) 661-0284.


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Notes and references October 21, 1997. July 9, 2001, August 10, 2001, December 14, 2001. January 15, 2002. March 6, 2002. May 29, 2002. January 1, 2003. June 8, 2003, August 25, 2003. January 15, 2004. November 5, 2004. January 3, 2006. March 1, 2006.