Understanding Same-Sex Attractions

Dr. Mike Rosebush

Perhaps you have heard it said, ‘Counseling the homosexual sinner is no different than how you handle the heterosexual sinner ‘ sin is sin.’ In many ways, this is true ‘ and false.

Engaging in same-gender sexual activity is a sin (Lev 18:22; Rom 1:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9), as is every form of sexual activity — other than with one’s spouse. The homosexual sin is no more wrong or right than the heterosexual sin — and in that regard, there is no difference in the sins. Similarly, the forgiveness of homosexual sins is obtained identically as that of heterosexual sin ‘ through the redemptive work of Christ, and one’s trust in that. No heterosexual sinner was ever ‘saved’ in any way different than anyone who committed a homosexual sin. Additionally, God views the person who struggles with same-sex attractions in the exact same way He views the person struggling with opposite-sex attractions ‘ no greater (or less!) love and regard. Finally, the Godly methods of abstaining from sexual sin (i.e., purity of eyes and mind; confession; reduction of shame) are equally applicable, regardless of what type of sexual desire exists.

So, homosexual addictive behaviors can be treated in just the same way as heterosexual addiction, right? Nope.

Many of the elements are the same: the need to be real and safely disclose; the elimination of personal shame; accountability; ‘bouncing your eyes’; determining your triggers; developing an enjoyable relationship with God; nurturing vibrant relationships; pursuing life-giving activities; improving one’s self-esteem; etc. Can both the same-sex attracted and opposite-sex attracted man gain from attending an ‘Every Man’s Battle‘ workshop? Absolutely! Can both men co-exist in a men’s ministry? Certainly.

Well, then, ‘what’s the diff?’

Sexual identity. The heterosexual man is usually not frightened by his sexual attractions. He views that phenomenon as a ‘given’ ‘ how it (of course!) should be. He does not wonder ‘What’s wrong with me ‘ I keep noticing attractive men?’ He does not become increasingly panicked over the inability to become stimulated by the sight of women (like his buddies are able to do). He does not have to hope that ‘maybe these attractions will just go away ‘ please!’

No, instead, the male who experiences sexual attractions to certain men is guaranteed to be confused, ashamed, fearful, envious, and grief-filled. Men struggling with homosexual desires know that they are odd (since only about 5% of men ever experience such desires). And every man who has ever experienced ongoing same-sex attractions has wished that that were not the case (at least initially). Unlike the heterosexual, the man with same-sex attractions does not know how to ‘label’ himself: gay? ex-gay? homosexual? bisexual? He must actually choose to make meaning of his attractions, whereas the man with opposite-sex attractions automatically knows why he is that way ‘ ‘because that’s how it’s supposed to be’.

Thus, the man struggling with homosexual sins or addiction has two wars to fight:

1) learning to abstain from the sexual sin (and possibly also overcoming a sexual addiction), and
2) figuring out the meaning of his sexuality ‘ and what he plans to do with the reality of his attractions.

Most Christian counselors have opposite-sex attractions, and therefore they provide the only therapy they know how ‘ a ‘stop the sexual sinning’ approach. They set-out to treat only the client’s sexual behaviors, but not his sexual identity issues. These counselors are not negligent out of harmful prejudice. Nonetheless, they still end up doing a disservice to the man struggling with same-sex attractions — if the counselor is not familiar (and skilled!) in dealing with sexual identity issues. The under-informed counselors apply a ‘one size fits all’ approach to helping the client’s homosexuality, assuming that ‘homosexuality is just another form of sexual sin ‘ no different than fornication or adultery’.

Well, now you, too, know the difference.

For help on this subject, please see Every Man’s Battle.

Why Hasn’t God Delivered Me From This Sexual Struggle?

Sam Fraser

The story line for myself and many Christian men wanting to achieve sexual integrity often feels like an endless pattern of short-term successes and long-term failure. Exasperated, I turned to God crying out, ‘remove this thorn!’ But He didn’t. Hey God, why not? If God is good, and He is; if God is love, and He is; then what’s up with that? There must be another message that God is giving me and it’s not sinking in. Why have I not been delivered from this? The thorn remains.

Paul reports his experience of praying for God to remove a sin pattern that he was unable to master, his personal thorn in 2 Corinthians chapter 12. There is much speculation of what Paul’s thorn actually was but nobody knows for certain. However, I definitely know what mine has been. Perhaps you do as well.

Paul prayed three times to have this ‘thorn’ removed. The Lord’s answer: Uh-uh, nada, zilch, negatory, no deal. God did not deliver Paul from his personal thorn either. Sometimes God is like that; He doesn’t always do the straightforward thing. Paul prayed and did not get the obvious and expected solution. God was up to something else. God was teaching Paul a deeper spiritual truth. For some things, God wants us to rely on Him much more than we normally would.

The answer was elucidated for Paul when he writes, ‘When we are weak, then we are strong’. (2 Cor. 12:10)’.

So, I am spiritually strong when I can confess that my puny human strength fails me. I can identify with that. I cannot maintain my sexual integrity in my own strength, in my own power, through my efforts. God has to supply the strength. The flesh nature is not strong enough and it never will be. But, rather, it is a confession that sets me free from continuing in my futile attempts. It also disrupts the powerlessness and shame of failure that lead to despair. The despair sets in motion a cycle that leads to more acting out.

By confessing that I don’t have what it takes I find healing. I can now agree with Paul that the secret of my strength will be in a willing confession that I don’t have what it takes. Nor will I ever. This has been very restorative. Additionally, knowing that each time I cry out for His strength and relying on Him will make me spiritually stronger. Hallelujah! Now I get it’ duh!

Still, asking for help (cf., my article in the archives on the H-bomb) takes a lot of courage and strength, and/or desperation. Not only the first time, but every time. Eveeerrrry time! Even now, I have to rely on His strength and I have to ask for it. It has taken such a long, long time to follow through and maintain this strategy. After millions of failures (it seemed like that many) I felt like turning away from God and giving up hope because of the depth of my despair. I was humiliated and hated myself for not being able to overcome my acting out.

As a Christian I thought that I should be able to overcome this sin sooner. But the spiritual truth that God taught Paul is that I do not have it within me’ at all. Ever. It is a theological fact. Period.

Initially, I was taught that I needed a Savior to overcome my sinful nature. But, somewhere along the way, I got it in my head that now that I have been a Christian for a while I should somehow be able to achieve moral victories through my own efforts. The misconception was that by this stage of my Christian walk I should have accumulated enough of ‘whatever’ to achieve moral victory. Failure translated into the belief that there was something lacking in me. There was, what has always been there, my human nature. I cannot save me from myself. Knowledge is one thing. Understanding is another. Until the knowledge in my head drops into the heart of my understanding it is like a banging gong and a clanking cymbal.

I am strong only when I confess I am weak. To take it a step further in this weak-strong principle, we must rely on others. It is another aspect of accepting my weakness. But’ that is an article for another day. Blessings.

For more help on this subject see Every Man’s Battle.

Overcoming Fear and Anxiety

Chris Cole

‘Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad,’ Proverbs12:25.

Being anxious or fearful are common emotions that all of us face and deal with, especially when we go into recovery from addictions. Perhaps you have been medicating the anxiety experienced in relationships for many years and now you are for the first time beginning to deal with it in a healthy way. The scripture affirms that anxiety can really weigh a man’s heart down. It can be such a burden that we will do anything to find relief. In this article I will focus on some strategies to help you overcome the struggles with anxiety and fear.

I think that one central fear we face is the unknown. Not knowing what will happen can really drive a person to control their environment and everyone in it. As a result, we try to control so much that is out of our control. We anxiously try to control outcomes, as well as the circumstances. We try to control bad things from happening and people from getting upset with us. I believe that is why we falsely think that our addictions can make life work. We find relief from the anxiety with something that we can control. Take away that and the anxiety comes back. Then we get desperate for something else to take away the anxiety that we can control. Perhaps you struggle with cross addictions, where you take away one addiction (sex) and increase another (smoking).

Learning to deal with anxiety in a healthy way is an essential component to your recovery. The bible teaches that we must renew our mind with the truth, for the truth sets us free.

One strategy is to learn how to recognize anxious thoughts. Beware of: all or nothing thinking; over-generalization, dwelling on the negative, magnification and minimization, and ‘should’ statements. Learn to speak the truth to yourself and to calm yourself down by utilizing positive and truthful self talk.

In Philippians 4, Paul wrote:
‘(6) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (7) And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (8) Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (9) The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. ‘

I want to highlight the importance of dwelling on the things of verse 8. Verse nine says we need to practice them. You can train yourself to respond (think) in a new way. I also recognize that much anxiety comes as you project yourself in the future. Some people use the acronym FEAR as Future Events Appear Real. I cannot control the future, or how someone may respond or react, but I can control me and what I think in the here and now. So stay in the present. Also remember, take one step at a time. Essential here is learning to give up control over what I can’t control anyway, like what people think of me or how they may react.

If your anxiety is overwhelming, seek the help of a professional Christian counselor. Sometimes medication may be necessary to help you manage while you change the way you think. A counselor can help you process your fear and anxiety and help you develop new ways of handling life. He or she can help you learn to take risks and grow, and depend on God in new way. Peter (1 Peter 5:7) said we are to ‘cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.’

So in summary, learn to accept anxiety, understand it in context, and learn to identify the anxiety producing thoughts and replace them with the truth. I like the serenity prayer that Reinhold Niebuhr wrote because it reminds me that I need to ‘accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and to have the wisdom to know the difference.’

Do you need some help with you fear or anxiety? Please join us at our next New Life Weekend.