Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle

Kent Ernsting

I was smitten from my first sight of him. The first time I held my newborn son in my hands the tears began to well up in my eyes. A deep sense of love enveloped me when I looked into his amazing eyes. I loved that little guy with everything within me. I thanked God for him and I pledged him back to God from that moment. I was struck with the tremendous stewardship responsibility that I now had, to raise him to become a godly young man. I knew that I could not complete that task without God’s help and the help of many others along the way.

Now he’s 14 years old, stands 5’8′ tall, and he’s strong enough to fold me into a pretzel. He routinely aces me on the tennis court. He’s a fullback on his freshman soccer team and he feels responsible for every ball that an opponent gets past him and into the net. He’s smart and brave and he wants to show others that he has what it takes to be a man. I will probably not know if I have successfully completed my task of parenting him until he is in his thirties. The indicator will be whether or not he is living a God -honoring life and rearing godly children.

I don’t know about you, but the challenge of shepherding my son through his young adult years with purity as the goal has been a daunting one for me. How can I talk to him about purity when my own sexuality has been complicated? I have had to deal with my own issues on the subject. We all know intuitively that we need to be the one talking to our kids about sex, but how do we do it?

I am an imperfect parent, but I want to pass along some tips and strategies that I have learned from others and have used with my son.

The first is the principle that RELATIONSHIPS COME FIRST. As long as I keep the relationship that I have with my son strong, then he will be willing to receive guidance and coaching from me. As Josh McDowell says, RULES WITHOUT RELATIONSHIP LEADS TO REBELLION.

I look for ways to spend time with him. Relationship growth occurs when we do things together like going to his games, working together on projects, playing pool with him, and taking him camping with me. It helps me to relate to my son and for my son to relate to me. Relationships are what life is all about.

I want him to know deeply and intimately how to connect with another person in a life-long committed relationship. I want him to experience it first in our father/son relationship. Eventually he will transfer that into a relationship with his wife.

Sex education is really not so much a matter of providing information as it is a matter of deliberate character formation. The first messages are the most potent; it is far more powerful to form a child’s view of sexuality from scratch than it is to correct the distortions the child will pick up in the world. This is a concept that I picked up from a very helpful book by Stanton and Brenna Jones, entitled How & When to Tell Your Kids About Sex. In fact, it was their book that gave me what I needed to know and say to my son when we had our first ‘key talk’ in a local restaurant. After I finished my explanation he asked, ‘Dad, do you eat that green stuff?’ as he pointed to the parsley on my plate.

I took my son camping for a weekend before he entered junior high school. Together we listened to the ‘Preparing for Adolescence’ tapes by James Dobson and we talked about the content of the tapes. Between disc golf and fishing we discussed what would be happening to him in the coming years.

We spent a weekend at a sexual abstinence until marriage conference interacting with various speakers, presentations and youth events. We went to a Promise Keeper rally for youth where the message o purity was presented through music, worship, extreme sports, speakers, and multimedia.

I take him to church regularly and help him plug in with youth groups and their events. Now he is attending Young Life where the message of purity will be reinforced. I want him to know about redemption when he stumbles and about the love of his creator sustaining him throughout his life.

Look for opportunities that will challenge both you and your son such as rock climbing, rappelling, or canoeing. Bathe your son and his future wife in prayer. Let’s talk about how it turns out when our sons are in their thirties.

Please see Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle.

Same Sex Attraction

Chris Cole

The struggle of same sex attraction is one that is very complex. Many with this struggle–I will refer to those who struggle with same sex attraction as the ‘struggler’–say that they have felt this way all of their life. It runs deep to the core of one’s gender identity. I want to say that in order to understand the root causes, the struggler needs to do his research. In this article, I will focus on the root causes from a human development stand point. I will also direct you to some resources that you should read and study yourself.

Same sex attraction is rooted in an effort to get homo-emotional, or same-sex, love needs met. These needs include longings for love, acceptance, and belonging. They are to be first met in the relationship with one’s father and mother, and are critical to one’s sense of security. Berger (1995) explains: ‘masculinity and femininity are communicated to us as children through those people in our lives who symbolize to us masculinity and femininity (mother and father). In order to acquire a healthy personal identity, we must encounter loving and healthy relationships with members of both sexes’ (p.58). Home is where these emotional needs are satisfied, and where healthy role modeling of one’s masculine gender by the father is experienced leads to healthy gender identity development in both boys and girls. For boys, another developmental process occurs as he differentiates from the mother and identifies with his father. Nicolosi and Nicolosi (2002) state, ‘Girls can continue to develop in the feminine identification through the relationship with their mothers. On the other hand, a boy has an additional developmental task’to disidentify from his mother and identify with his father’ (p.23). Konrad (1987) highlights that gender development is an acquired social learning process that children experience in the family environment. ‘Gender identity, on the other hand, is a process that begins at birth. As children begin to explore their own bodies, they combine this information with the way society treats them to create an image of themselves as boys and girls’ (p.35). The role the father plays in healthy gender identity development is significant to boys (and to girls). Boys who have fathers who are nurturing, warm, decisive, strong, and are active in their child’s socialization will help that child develop a healthy sexual identity. Again, Nicolosi and Nicolosi (2002) touch on the importance of the father: ‘the boy’s father has to do his part. He needs to mirror and affirm his son’s maleness. He can play rough-and-tumble games with his son’games that are decidedly different from those he would play with a little girl. As a result, the son will learn more of what it means to be a male. And he will accept his body as a representation of his maleness’ (p.24). So, two important things happen when a boy bonds with his father: he receives his father’s love and approval, and also develops a strong sense of male gender identity.

So how does same sex attraction develop? One common experience among gays is the report of having a poor relationship with one’s father. Failure on the part of the father to affirm and bond with his son leads to a deficit of unmet needs in the child. In many cases, fathers were relationally absent (either physically or emotionally), inadequate, withdrawn, passive (with a dominant mother), hostile, abusive, or alcoholic. This impairment in the relationship would result in the boy feeling inadequate in his maleness, lacking confidence in one’s own gender, which then leads to feelings of uncomfortability in developing healthy interaction among his male relationships. Konrad (1987) states that ‘homosexuals experience a critical deficit in their relationships with their fathers while growing up, meaning that normal psychological needs which should have been met by the father/son bond are left unfulfilled’ (42-43). One should note that actions on the part of the father may be unintentional, even seemingly non-threatening. Yet, it is important to note that the perspective of the child is one of woundedness, thus creating a defensive detachment. Again Konrad (1987) explains: ‘it’s not necessarily what kind of father these men are but how their children react to them that can cause psychological damage, perhaps by simply blocking normal attachment to them’ (p.44). As the boy withdraws from his father to avoid further hurt, his same sex love needs go unmet. Thus at the root of one’s ‘homosexual’ drive is an effort to get same sex love needs met that needed to be met in the father/son relationship. Konrad (1987) points out ‘that homosexuals detach from their fathers to prevent further hurt and/or not to identify with them. For some this may have been an unconscious, subtle detachment. But for others, it was an overt vow not to be anything like their father. The severity of this detachment varies from person to person and is more obvious in some than others’ (p. 46). As the boy detaches from his father, there is also a corresponding detachment from his own body. Nicolosi and Nicolosi (2002) make this point: ‘the boy who makes the unconscious decision to detach himself from his own male body is well on his way to developing a homosexual orientation. Such a boy will sometimes be obviously effeminate, but more often he ‘ like most pre-homosexual boys’ is what we call gender-nonconforming. That is, he will be somewhat different, with no close male buddies at that developmental stage when other boys are breaking away from close friendships with little girls (about six to eleven) in order to develop a secure masculine identity (p.24).

As one can now see, those struggling with same sex attraction are striving to get needs met from childhood. As the boy enters adolescence, with the stirring of one’s sex drive, these homo-emotional needs get ‘eroticized’ and misinterpreted as sexual feelings. Konrad (1987) sums it up: ‘Thus the problem with the person who has labeled himself a homosexual’he thinks he’s gay and interprets his normal (but unmet) homo-emotional feeling the wrong way. And based upon his feelings he continues through life reinforcing his gay identity, further hindering the identification process and preventing unmet needs from being met. It’s a terribly vicious cycle that can be stopped only be understanding same-sex needs and satisfying them through proper channels” (p.64). If you are struggling with same sex attraction, your work is to begin to explore the impact of your early experiences. How did you get your needs met as a child? You may want to go to the resources I have referred to in this article. Also find a group you can participate in of other ex-gays. They can help you work through these issues in an atmosphere of acceptance. You may also want to find a good therapist familiar with helping people work through the complexity of issues you face.

For an excellent book on this subject, please see Desires in Conflict.


Resource List Bergner, Mario. 1995. Setting Love In Order. Grand Rapids, MI. Baker Book House Co. Konrad, Jeff. 1987. You Don’t Have To Be Gay. Hilo, Hawaii. Pacific Publishing House. Nicolosi, Joseph & Nicolosi, Linda Ames. 2002. A Parent’s Guide To Preventing Homosexuality. Downers Grove, Illinois. InterVarsity Press.

People Are More Important Than Things

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Few of us would argue with the title of this article. Yet, in our daily lives, and particularly in the lives of men who suffer from sexual addiction, the truthfulness of this statement is not translated into daily living.

Several days ago the following comments were made in my office: ‘I was enjoying a serious conversation with my son when his cell phone rang and instead of letting it go to voice mail he answered it. He spent ten minutes talking to someone else. I was infuriated! After he hung up I told him that he was rude, that he didn’t care about me, and that I didn’t want to be in a relationship with him if he was going to treat me like that.’

The man who made these comments is a 60-year-old man who is trying to re-establish a relationship with his 40-year-old son. He has a long history of addictive behaviors with alcohol, marijuana, and multiple affairs. Now, after a lifetime of avoiding emotional intimacy with his family, my client is coming to realize the importance of relationships. Yet, at the first indication of conflict or devaluation, he was willing to throw out all that he had worked for with his son.

Certainly he had justification to be hurt. His son was acting rudely by spending so much time with the person who was calling on the phone. The message received by my client was that the caller was more important. But the message explicitly conveyed in anger from father to son was that the whole relationship was being terminated. As he related this story to me in my office, I was struck by the fact that he was still serious about ending the relationship, even after several days to cool down. People are just not that important to him. His relationships with alcohol, marijuana, and sex have been far more loyal over the years than his interpersonal relationships with people.

If we are made in God’s image, and we were made to be in relationship with Him, then the need for interpersonal relationships is woven into the very fabric of our being. Turning to a pseudo relationship with ‘things’ rather than people is like trying to spend your life using counterfeit money. It seems to work at first, but such a life is based on lies and deception, and it always catches up with you. Substituting objectifying sex for true intimacy is no different than using counterfeit money.

When people have become the source of pain, either unresolved pain from the past and/or pain in the here-and-now, the allure of ‘things’ becomes so much greater. It can be argued that obsessive preoccupation with any material thing is actually a smokescreen, a way of avoiding painful wounds of past relationships. Giving up the things of this world, whether it is drugs, sex, food, material things like a new car, or even some relationships, will expose us to that which we are running from and trying to avoid at all costs.

In those moments of exposure, do you find yourself in places of safety, or, do you find yourself in places where you will be hurt again? To open up and talk about the pain with someone who has been deeply hurt by you might not be the best place to start. You’ll only confirm the belief that people are too dangerous and intimacy is an illusion. To face deep emotional pain without preparation, planning, and support is a recipe for catastrophe. Your wife and family deserve better. It would be like trying to save someone who is drowning when neither of you can swim.

Don’t let the things of this world STOP YOU from taking care of yourself!

Therapy, Every Man’s Battle conferences, and even trustworthy friends may be the best place to start the recovery process, rather than with a wife or relatives who are already hurt and emotionally invested in you. The chances of your successful recovery will improve dramatically if you seek ongoing support and help from people who have been where you are now.

People are more important than things, and that includes you too. Don’t let the things of this world stop you from taking care of yourself in the way that promotes healing, better relationships, and a closer walk with the Lord.

For more help, consider attending one of our Weekend Workshops or call 1800-NEW-LIFE(639-5433) for more information on Every Man’s Battle.