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Experience Strength and Hope (Part II) - Homosexuals Anonymous

For more infos, check www.ha-fs.org or jason-online.webs.com

New contact info for Homosexuals Anonymous:

Homosexuals Anonymous Fellowship Services
dougmcin2000@gmail.com832-884-7428 (USA)

TO THE STRUGGLER WHO HAS NEVER ACTED OUT

On April 30, 1997, millions of Americans cheered as Ellen DeGeneres acted on feelings and came out of the closet publicly on her sitcom. She decided to accept, enter into, and celebrate a lesbian relationship. Her decision was heralded by the media as heroic, groundbreaking, and gutsy.

That same evening, you resisted your feelings, acted on principle, and didn't leave the house. You decided to trust your God, hold on, and in the midst of heart-wrenching loneliness, celebrate your relationship with Jesus Christ. Nobody cheered. No one even cared. It is to you whom we want to address these thoughts:

Not all triumphs get the spotlight and not all victories taste sweet. If you are a Christian who has not yet succumbed to feelings and acted out sexually, you are to be commended. We want to tell you this now...because you likely will not hear it from another source.

The secular media could care less about your chastity, and non-strugglers cannot begin to grasp the intensity and depth of your battle, nor the intensity and depth of your courage.

Most of us have acted out. We bought the lie and have been regretting it ever since.

But Jesus, in His own perfect time, delivered us into recovery from homosexuality and carried us to the point of healing where we are today. We didn't have the faith that you have. We turned to the world to heal us while you were still focused on the Lord. We figured we couldn't wait any longer for God to act. You are waiting faithfully for your deliverance. You are awesome and you are strong.

Moses, Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, Dr. James Dobson, Paul, Kathy Troccoli, Martin Luther, Chuck Swindol, Charles Stanley, Abraham, Elizabeth Elliot and you. An incomplete, yet proud, list of heroes of the Christian faith.

Your names may be lesser known, your successes too controversial for sharing, and your efforts unappreciated by the majority. But you can be assured that while the masses may overlook your hard-won victory, the Master has seen. And while the world is cheering Ellen for maintaining a same-sex relationship, you will hear but the lone clapping of two nail-driven hands and a still, small voice whispering, "Well done, My friend. You have believed and maintained your integrity. Very, very, very well done!"

[Reprinted by permission of the excellent Buggin' Out! newsletter #3, PMB #189, 831 Route 10 East, Whippany, NJ 07981]

FACTS THEY AREN’T TELLING YOU!

Joe was a pastor, a good one too! He was a gifted counselor with a compassion that enabled him to help many people and he preached an uncompromising gospel message God used to bring people to Him-self.

Joe also struggled with homosexuality. The man who spoke so convincingly from the pulpit on Sunday morning often spent most of Saturday night in a gay bar cruising for a sexual contact.

His father was the pastor of an evangelical church where Joe had been active as a child and teen. He attended a conservative Christian college and was later ordained to the ministry. But, at the age of six, Joe had been sexually abused and thus introduced to homosexual behavior. He felt he was different from other boys, and it frightened him. In high school he began having frequent sexual encounters with other males.

A deep longing to please God and compensate for these desires led him to study for the ministry. Looking for a “cure”, he married. The earliest years were happy ones as he and his wife raised their two children. But the desires had not gone away. They had merely been repressed, and eventually they came back. Joe would fight these temptations until a time of stress seemed to drive him to a sexual encounter. He would then repent and later go through the whole cycle again.

He asked God to take the feelings away thousands of times. He tried to bury them in his work and his family. He went to the altar during revival meetings. He fasted and prayed. He did everything he knew to do, but the struggles continued. There seemed to be no way out.

Convinced that there was no hope, Joe decided he would not live a lie any longer. He felt he was literally on his way to hell, so it didn’t matter what he did. Leaving his wife, his children, and his church, Joe began living an openly gay life-style. During the day he worked at any job he could find. At night he went to the bars. He said, “It was a completely selfish life—promiscuous sex, alcohol, hard drugs. My total preoccupation was with being gay.”

Looking for friends, he went to a homosexual church where he was welcomed with open arms. “At first I felt a tremendous relief and it felt really good to be accepted, but the good feelings didn’t last long and a lot of problems emerged. I kept having to deal with broken relationships. I got put in jail. I went to a psychologist. I became suicidal. I tried to kill myself three times.”

He relocated, got a job as a florist, and moved in with a man who became his lover. This last relationship became a nightmare, as the man turned out to be seriously disturbed and violent. By the time Joe realized what he had gotten into, he was trapped.

The man was irrationally jealous. One night he and Joe had an argument which ended in Joe being viciously beaten, “lying in a bed soaked with my blood, having had two objects broken over my head—a wooden sculpture and a large glass ashtray—I was being slapped and punched by my ‘lover’ who spat out these words: ‘You are being punished for the life you have lived…’”

Joe was beaten so badly that blood was everywhere. He took it helplessly, expecting to die. He felt he had no right to call out to God because he had brought this on himself.

It was only the beginning. For the next five months the man literally imprisoned him. In a desire to totally possess Joe, he got him fired from his job and forbade him to leave the house, make phone calls, or get the mail. If Joe moved an object in the house while he was gone, the man would accuse him of having brought in a rival lover. He forced Joe to do whatever he wanted with threats of violence.

Fear paralyzed Joe. Escape seemed impossible. He was numb from the pain, shame, and horror of the situation. His lover worked only two blocks from the house they shared and threatened Joe with death if he tried to run away.

“All I did was cook and clean house. I because an avid fan of soap operas—and of the 700 Club.” Joe spent half the time cursing the hosts in cynical rebellion and the other half crying and hoping that something on the show would get through to him.

He began secretly reading the Psalms and praying that God would get him out of the situation. After six months, there was another argument and another beating. This time one of Joe’s ribs was cracked. He was expected to endure the pain as proof of his love.

Joe decided that the only way out was to kill himself. He took a long carving knife from the kitchen and held it just below his ribcage. Before he could thrust the knife into his body, the story of the prodigal son started to play through his mind as though he was watching a movie. For the first time he felt a deep sense of the love of God. He dropped the knife, sobbed, and turned on the 700 Club, which that day featured the testimony of a man who had found freedom from homosexuality.

That did it. Joe called the 700 Club and asked a counselor to pray that he could escape alive. He threw a few possessions into a suitcase and waited on the street corner for a cab, petrified that his lover would see him. He went to the bus station and caught the first bus out of town. Three days later he was home, not knowing how he was going to give up his homosexuality, but certain that he wanted God more than anything.

God led Joe to Homosexuals Anonymous and he committed himself to working its 14 Step program. Reading and sharing helped him with emotional and spiritual growth and he got involved in a Bible-believing church. He attended weekly counseling sessions where he learned that the deepest roots of homosexuality are not sexual, but arise from unmet love needs, that the condition itself was not the sin, but that indulgence in homosexual activity was.

When Joe learned that he was not born a homosexual, that the condition was a result of early influences and choices, something exciting happened. After forgiving those who had caused his hurt, he experienced a tremendous release. The strength of the homosexual desire significantly lessened and Joe came to the place where he could describe himself as “delivered from homo-sexuality”.

We all love a happy ending, but Joe’s story does not have an entirely happy one. Joe had contracted the HIV virus and developed full-blown AIDS. After a difficult period of illnesses, Joe succumbed and went home to be with the Lord.

We rejoice that while Joe is “absent from the body”, he is “present with the Lord” (II Corinthians 5:7), but we mourn his loss and the loss of the wonderful gifts God gave Him that might have blessed so many.

We share his story to warn others of what has been called “one of the best kept secrets in the gay community” [David Island and Patrick Letellier, Men Who Beat the Men Who Love Them, p. 36]. Island and Letellier, both self-identified as gay men, lament that only a handful of articles have been published by the gay press including “Battered Lovers” published “by the Advocate in 1986; “Breaking the Silence: Gay Domestic Violence” by San Francisco Coming Up! (now the Bay Times) in 1989; “Naming and Confronting Gay Male Battering” by Boston Gay Community News in 1989; “The Other Closet,” by the Dallas Observer in 1990; “Till Death Do Us Part: Domestic Violence Strikes Gay Relationships,” by San Francisco Sentinel, in 1990; and “Domestic Violence: A Serious Problem Lacking in Resources,” by the Washington D.C. Blade in 1990.” [Ibid., p.35-36]

If so little has been written on the subject, could it be because it is not a real problem? Island and Letellier say “No!” “Domestic violence is a big problem for America’s 9.5 million adult gay men. We estimate that as many as 500,000 gay men are victims, and, of course, equal numbers are also perpetrators.” [Ibid., p. 1] Their figure of “500,000 annual victims of gay men’s domestic violence represents a likely, reasonable, and non-speculative estimate. We hope it is too high, but we suspect that it is right on the mark.” [Ibid., p. 15] “Thus, only substance abuse and AIDS adversely affect more gay men, making domestic violence the third largest health problem facing gay men today.” [Ibid., p. 1] “The Director of the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project at the Community United Against Violence (CUAV) in San Francisco stated that domestic violence may affect and poison as many as 50 percent of gay male couples.” [Ibid., p. 12]

Nor are the statistics more encouraging in lesbian relationships. “Bologna, Waterman, and Dawson ...discovered a high incidence of abuse in their survey of a self-selected sample of 174 lesbians. About 26% of their respondents reported having been subjected to at least one act of sexual violence; 59.8% had been victims of physical violence; and 81% had experienced verbal or emotional abuse. At the same time, 68% of the respondents reported that they had both used violence against their current or most recent partner and had been victimized by a partner. Similarly, in a survey of a nonrandom sample of 1,099 lesbians, Lie and Gentlewarrior...found that 52% of the respondents had been abused by a female lover or partner and that 30% admitted having abused a female lover or partner. Of those who had been victims of abuse, more than half (51.5%) reported they also had been abusive toward their partners.” [Claire M. Renzetti, Violent Betrayal: Partner Abuse in Lesbian Relationships, p. 18]

As Renzetti states, “It is doubtful that researchers will ever be able to measure accurately the prevalence of homosexual partner abuse, but this is not to say that these studies have no value. Their importance lies in the fact that they clearly demonstrate that lesbians and gay men not infrequently aggress against their intimate partners in ways that are physically and emotionally abusive and sometimes violent.” [Ibid., p. 19]

A recent publication of the Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists, a pro-gay movement, further confirms all this. Kenneth V. Dodgson, M.D., writes, “Gay men, as well as adolescent gays, report high incidence rates of violent or abusive behavior, either as recipients or perpetrators, usually involving their same-sex partners.” [“Homosexuality: A Review of Recent Medical Research Papers,” The InSpiriter, (Summer-Fall, 2003), p. 5]

Here, then, is one more reason God, like the good Father He is, says we are not to engage in homosexual behavior. Good parents warn their children away from things that will hurt them.

There’s an old saying: “Hurt people hurt people.” Men and women who are tempted to engage in homosexual behavior are usually so tempted because they were hurt when they were children, either in their relationship with their same-sex parent, or through sexual abuse. The result is defensive detachment—a wall of anger and fear with which they seek to protect themselves. Their unmet needs from childhood drive them to seek love from persons of the same sex, but their defensive detachment makes it impossible for them to find it. If anger is the major part of their detachment, they may become abusers; if fear is the major part of their detachment, they may be abused. And, of course, anger and fear can change places from time to time so that one can at one time be the abuser and at another the abused!

God would spare us all that pain and all that sin. Will we heed His warnings, or must we learn the hard way? And, if we have already had painful experience as to why He said “No!” will we ever learn?

--John J.

POINTS TO PONDER

Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, a Jewish psychiatrist who holds degrees from MIT (S.B., Humanities and Science), Harvard, (Ed. M., Clinical Psychology and Public Practice), the University of Texas (M.D.), and Yale (M.S., Physics), completed his residency in Psychiatry at Yale with a year as Fellow of the Yale Child Study Center, holds a Diploma in Analytical Psychology from the C. G. Jung Institute of Zurich, has written numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals of psychology and neuroscience, and is a Board-Certified Psychiatrist who has practiced psychotherapy and/or psychiatry since 1974, testified before the Massachusetts Senate Judicial Committee on the subject of homosexuality and the future of the family in America./ He noted a number of claims that the senators had heard:

That homosexuality has been repeatedly demonstrated to be, and is in fact, an innate, genetically-determined condition.

That homosexuality is an immutable state of an individual.

That the only disadvantages of homosexuality are those caused by social disapproval and discrimination.

That a society composed of same-sex couples raising children in family-like units will differ from a society composed of traditional family units in no undesirable ways.


‘None of these claims are even remotely true,’ said Dr. Satinover, ‘however widely believed they may have become; the evidence of the kind that “everyone knows” simply does not exist; even a cursory examination of the actual sources behind these claims will reveal a very strong preponderance of evidence to precisely the contrary; the claims are simply fiction.” [NARTH Bulletin, (August 2004), p. 2]

THEY MISLED US!

In 1998, Matthew Shepard, a homosexual college student in Wyoming, was brutally murdered. Because the crime occurred shortly after the “Truth in Love” ad campaign had showed people it was possible to find freedom from homosexuality, pro-homosexual groups like the Human Rights Campaign immediately blamed the campaign, saying it had created “a climate...of intolerance” which led to Shepard’s death.

Now it appears that Shephard’s death was not an “anti-gay hate crime” at all. ABC’s “20/20” aired a report on Friday, November 26, 2004, showing that the crime actually began as a robbery attempt within a subculture of illegal drug use, to which both Shepard and his killers belonged. This does not make Shepard’s murder any less terrible. All violent crimes should be vigorously prosecuted and punished—regardless of their motivation.

But it is important for us to remember not to jump to conclusions and believe everything we hear or read. The world often lies and that makes recovery more difficult. Above all, let us put away self-pity and the fear that keeps us locked in our self-made prisons of loneliness and pursue freedom with ever growing hope and determination, refusing to let the sins of others rob us of the God’s perfect plan!

POINTS TO PONDER

“...I prayed for years, ‘God, please take away these desires.’ I blamed God for my suffering. However, it was never my Heavenly Father who gave me same-sex attractions. They were the result of many contributing man-made factors. I prayed the wrong prayer for over twenty-five years. I never received an answer because I wasn’t asking the right question. God could have removed my SSA [same-sex attractions] in an instant. But that would never have healed my heart and soul. I had SSA for many reasons: distant relationship with my father, sexual abuse from my uncle, antagonistic relationship with my older brother, and over attachment to my mother. When these issues were revealed, God enabled me to heal each wound. I am a much better man for it.” [Richard Cohen, Gay Children, Straight Parents, p. 25]

"Five traumas will generally arrest normal development in a prepubescent child; rejection (neglect), incest, molestation, emotional abuse, and physical abuse.... Surprisingly, rejection is more damaging to a child than the other four forms of abuse.... Rejection can include abandonment, a critical spirit, perfectionism, insults, neglect, sarcasm, and...a lack of physical touch." [Paul Hegstrom, Broken Children, Grown-up Pain, p. 24]

“After Ellen DeGeneres’s parents divorced, she helped combat her mother’s depression by making her laugh. ‘I found I could make her happy, and she wouldn’t be crying any more,’ says Degeneres...” [Jamie Malanowski, “How Funny People Got That Way,” Reader’s Digest, (September 2004), p. 91]. “Her mother’s third husband (whom she later divorced) sexually harassed young Ellen...” [N. F. Mendoza, “Coming Up Next,” Reader’s Digest, (September 2004), p. 161]. Are you surprised that she identifies herself as lesbian?

I’M ON MY WAY!

My father was the son of poor Slovak immigrants. He managed to get a full scholarship to Syracuse University and became a petroleum engineer. I admire him for Americanizing us, for his strong work ethic, and for rising above his humble beginnings.

He made good money and more than provided for our physical needs, putting my brother and me through two very expensive colleges. To do this, he worked long hours and traveled all over the Middle East, the North Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. Money was important to him because his parents had had so little.

This meant that we moved often because of his work and my brother and I were often home (wherever that was) alone with my mother. When my dad did come home, he was so stressed out from the traveling and long hours that he would become very angry at the slightest irritation. It seemed I got spanked daily when he was home. My mother was very passive and would often say, “Don’t do anything your father wouldn’t like.” “Don’t displease him.” “Don’t do anything to get him going.” So I developed a real fear of my dad and put up an emotional wall to protect myself. I couldn’t wait until he went on his next trip so life would not be so painful. I thought things were so much nicer with just mom and my brother at home.

Dad was very concerned about education. My brother and I were both in gifted education programs and did well in school. But if there was a B on a report card, my dad got very upset, so I did my best to get straight A’s and not upset him.

Dad was also a sports fanatic. My brother and I inherited a condition from my mom where our feet and ankles were turned in at birth. I spent my first fourteen years in corrective shoes and braces to fix the problem. I learned to walk very late and had a hard time running in those big, bulky shoes. So I wasn’t an athlete. I remember once my dad and I were playing ball in the back yard. I couldn’t do something well and he kept yelling at me that I wasn’t trying. He finally threw down his glove and went in the house. My mom told him not to be so hard of me. He started yelling at her, and I thought, “I’m a bad son. I can’t do what I’m expected to do. I cause my parents to argue.”

I always felt very insecure about my appearance because my dad would tell me my nose was too big, I was too thin, or too fat, and my eyes were the wrong color (he wanted blue-eyed children). So I grew to hate the way I looked. I thought I was ugly and no one would want me.

At school the kids made fun of the big, brown, clunky, corrective shoes I had to wear everywhere (even gym class). When I tried to play ball with the other boys, my shoes got in the way and I was pretty clumsy. After a while, I avoided competitive sports if possible and thus felt separated from the other boys because of my lack of ability in sports.

I excelled in music. I started piano lessons when I was seven, joined the band in high school, and took voice lessons. I entered many competitions and did very well. But I was surrounded by people who saw music as a “feminine’ thing, so I felt even less of a man.

I first noticed that I was attracted to men when I was twelve, but I became a Christian at age fourteen so I didn’t act on those feelings for years, because I knew it was a sin.

My parents divorced when I was twenty while I was away at college, so distance helped me ignore the pain for a while. But I started looking at homosexual pornography. I was very upset by that. I knew it was sin. I felt deep shame, asking myself, “What if the guys in the Bible study I’m leading knew?”

When I graduated, I went on a mission trip with Campus Crusade for Christ to East Berlin. This enabled me to avoid the problems back home a while longer. I eventually came home when my finances ran out (I got here with 10 Pfennigs in my pocket—about seven cents) and moved in with my mom. I couldn’t ignore the pain of my parents’ divorce any longer, and I found my mom was dating a man who was alcoholic and abusive. I’d come home and find things he’d smashed. Once he cornered my mom in the laundry room, threatening to kill her with a gun he was holding. Thank God his son walked in, grabbed him, and took him home. Still, mom wouldn’t leave him.

I also had the stress of trying to find work. I could only get three part-time jobs, and eventually came down with pneumonia. I had to be in the hospital and, without insurance, was bombarded with medical bills. My parents argued bitterly over who was going to pay the bills and eventually I said I would pay them to stop the bickering.

I got well, went back to work, and then our house was sold. My mom moved into a one-bedroom apartment and I was without a home, so I shared an apartment with my best male friend from high school. A couple of months later he got engaged and moved his fiancée into the apartment without asking me about it. I felt betrayed and she and I did not get along. Home life was once again difficult.

One night I was watching the news and saw a story about a drug bust at a gay bar in Philadelphia. They gave the address and I wrote it down. I was depressed and disillusioned, feeling nothing good was going to come out of life, so, at age twenty-three, I gave up fighting desires I had had since I was twelve. I never found the bar, but I located a homosexual movie theater, went in, met a man, and had my first sexual experience. I was ashamed, embarrassed, and vowed never to do it again. But I was hooked and I eventually went back to Philly where I located several “gay” bars and bookstores and began having more and more sexual encounters. I would fight it for several months at a time, but would always fail sooner or later.

I saw an advertisement for HA in a Christian directory, thought about calling, wrote the number down, but then told myself, “It’s been quite a while since I’ve acted out; I can make it on my own.” I couldn’t, and hit rock bottom as I began acting out two or three times a week. I was so depressed I had trouble getting out of bed in the morning and often stayed in bed all day when I didn’t have to work. I finally decided to call HA and learned when and where the chapter met.

I was very nervous at that first meeting, but it felt good to get my story off my chest to people who understood and yet were committed to helping me get free of what I knew to be wrong. It also helped to know I wasn’t the only one in this situation and seeing other people with this struggle working to live for Christ encouraged me.

I found some real friends whose support enabled me to tell my girl friend about my struggle. She and I attended a Recovery Seminar together, which helped her understand what I was going through and gave me a good introduction to the issues I have to work through to find the freedom I am seeking. I also shared my struggle with my pastor, and he was very encouraging.

I had trouble working the HA workbook, so a member suggested I call him each night after I had finished a question. That helped me get to work on my issues and talking on a regular basis helped head off trouble before it got started.

Acting out began to decrease markedly and it has been several months since I have had a fall. Thanks to HA I now know that with God’s help, I can beat this thing and live the life God planned for me. Praise Him!

Scott S.

POINTS TO PONDER

“Scripture and church tradition clearly regard same-sex genital relationships to be morally wrong.” [Willard M. Swartley, Homosexuality: Biblical Interpretation and Moral Discernment, p. 126]

“As the openly and actively homosexual Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson said last year, ‘Just simply to say that it [sodomy] goes against...Scripture, does not necessarily make it wrong.’ It must be fun to make up your own religion.” [The New Oxford Review, (April 2004), p. 16]

“Those who would press the church to change the norm of her teaching on this question must understand that they press the church toward schism. For a church which allows itself to be pushed to regard homosexual activity as no longer a departure from the biblical norm and to recognize homosexual partnerships as a form of personal relationship equivalent to marriage would no longer stand on the foundation of the Scripture but rather in opposition to its unanimous witness. A church that takes such a step has thereby ceased to be an evangelical church in the tradition of the Lutheran Reformation.” [Wolfhart Pannenberg, professor of systematic theology at the University of Munich, “You Shall Not Lie With a Male,” Lutheran Forum, Vol. 30, No. 1, (February 1996), p.29]

“Like any desire for what God has forbidden, the desire for same-sex intercourse can also be a sin but only if consciously nurtured and ‘fed.’ The mere inclination or the experience to temptation is not sin. The issue of whether one is mastered by the desire.” [Robert A. J. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, p. 462]

"Scripture speaks with one voice that homosexual practice is sinful and beyond the scope of God's will for his children, or to quote F. Dale Bruner, 'homosexual practice is not the design of God's creation, is abhorred by God's Law, and is proscribed in God's Gospel.'" [Scott R. A. Starbuck in reNews, (March 1996), p. 5]

“Even if it is not your fault that you turned out the way you did, it is your responsibility if you stay that way.” [Carmen Renee Berry and Mark W. Baker, Who’s To Blame? Escape the Victim Trap and Gain Personal Power in Your Relationships, p. 205]

CRUMPLED DREAMS

“When Stephen King was an unknown, 24-year-old high school teacher living in a rented trailer with his wife and two kids, he sold short stories to magazines to make ends meet. One of the pieces was especially hard to write. It dealt with ‘the world of girls,’ which he didn’t know anything about. Over and over, he tried to wrestle the words onto the page, but the story wouldn’t gel. Disgusted with the first eight pages he’d written he threw them out.

“That night, he wife, Tabitha, saw the crumpled papers while collecting the trash. Curious, she read the incomplete story. Seeing its potential immediately, she insisted her husband finish it. ‘I told her it was too long for the markets I’d been selling to,’ King said, ‘and that it might turn out to be a short novel.’ She said, ‘Just write it!’ Mr. King then protested that he knew almost nothing about girls. She said, ‘I’ll help you.’ She did. And for the last twenty-eight years, she has.

“When King did finish the book, Doubleday was willing to pay only a $2,500 advance, unsure of how readers would react to the material. The publisher needn’t have worried. Carrie became a national bestseller and a blockbuster motion picture.

“There’s another King who rescues unfinished stories from the trash, which is where many of us throw our lives when we don’t like what we’ve written, can’t make things go the way we want, or can’t see any prospect of a tidy ending. Just when it seems nobody knows or cares about the struggles we’ve endured, Jesus stoops to salvage our crumpled remnants or our abandoned hopes and sees beyond the sometimes anguished attempts we’ve made to make sense of the world and our place in it. He sees the potential that lies just past our fatigue and defeat.

“When we’ve willing, He hands back our life and says, ‘Finish the story.’

“’But I know almost nothing about godliness,’ we protest. ‘I do,’ He replied. ‘I’ll help you.’ And He does. And He will.” [Rick Gamble in Pulpit Helps, (April 2003), p. 6]

POINTS TO PONDER

“If homosexuals choose to transform their sexuality into heterosexuality, that resolve and decision is theirs and theirs alone, and should not be tampered with by any special interest group—including the gay community.... The individual has the right to choose whether he or she wishes to become straight. It is his or her choice, not that of an ideologically driven interest group.” [Dr. Robert Perloff, former President of the American Psychological Association, NARTH Bulletin, (December 2004), p. 1-2]

“...Recognizing the attractions you have is no mandate for giving in to them.... It takes tremendous courage to stand up to yourself and even more to deny yourself. But that is exactly what we are all called to do.” [Bob Van Domelen, Wellspring, (December 2004-January 2005), p. 2]

“A guilty conscience feels continual fear.” [A Treasury of Essential Proverbs, p. 111]

FOR THE MARRIED STRUGGLER AND HIS OR HER SPOUSE

At last year’s HA Conference, David and Kate P. shared how his struggle with homosexuality impacted their marriage. Their story was worth the price of the conference. I asked them to write their story for the Newsletter and they gladly did so, noting that they don’t pretend to be experts and understand that each marriage—past, present, or future—is unique. They share their journey in the hope that you find something that applies to your situation or answers some of your questions.

David: I’ve had homosexual feelings for as long as I can remember; yet homosexual behavior was not compatible with my spiritual values.

I met Kate when I was fourteen. By the time I was sixteen, I knew I wanted to marry her. I still felt messed up sexually, but was naïve enough to think that marriage would solve my problems. I waited till our junior year in college to let her know my feelings, and we married shortly after graduating.

Although I believe Kate is the most wonderful person in the world, and I wouldn’t trade her for any guy, marriage did not solve my problem. In fact, it made it worse. The drives became a lot stronger. I tried to stay close to God and Kate, but I never told her about my struggle. I wasn’t going to tell Kate anything until I conquered this “gay” issue.

I couldn’t talk to anyone. I was married. I worked for a church. I was brought up with the belief that psychology was a tool of the devil. Who was I going to talk to? I didn’t know about HA or any other group, and even if I had, I couldn’t talk to anyone without Kate knowing something. I was trapped and the drives weren’t going away. They kept getting stronger. This went on through twelve years of marriage.

I tried to be sexually active with my wife, but that wasn’t easy, and she could tell something wasn’t right. One afternoon she started asking questions. She wanted to know what was wrong. She named a list of possible problems, one of which was homosexuality. I don’t remember what any of the other things were, but I heard that one!

I sidestepped the issue, but not far enough. I was just too tired to continue keeping it a secret, so I said something like, “I don’t think I’m quite normal.” Of course that didn’t satisfy her, so I finally came out and said I was struggling with homosexuality.

Kate: Growing up, I came to believe that no man worth having would ever love me. I determined to stay single to avoid being hurt.

In high school, I became best friends with David. Our friendship, which was based on shared values and mutual trust, gradually grew into love. We didn’t admit this aloud, however, for years. By my senior year of college, I knew I loved and trusted David, but was still distrustful of marriage. After much prayer and heart searching, I married with a great many fears, but believing this was God’s will for my life.

I had assumed that having saved sex for marriage insured healthy, satisfactory, physical intimacy after marriage. Unfortunately, the reality was different. David’s lack of consistent enthusiasm puzzled and frustrated me. He had sporadic interest, but our physical relationship seemed to be a low priority most of the time. I concluded I was sexually repulsive to him and that he was only trying to spare my feelings when he said otherwise.

In every other area David was very affirming. He treated me like a queen, and I knew he truly loved me. My emotions and self-esteem grew to be much more healthy. We were affectionate and compatible. In fact, others viewed us as having the perfect marriage.

Over time, however, I began to notice more and more anger in my husband. He encountered a succession of people in his career who treated him unfairly. Each time, it seemed, he overreacted. Even though I was never the target of this behavior, I became more and more upset by it. I had been attracted to him because of his thoughtfulness toward others and his ability to get along with people. These wonderful qualities seemed to be eroding before my eyes. I didn’t know what the underlying problem was, but I became convinced there was one.

I think of David’s disclosure as D-Day because it was a turning point in our lives. I wrote in my journal: “This evening our marriage turned a corner. Unfortunately, I can’t see far enough ahead to know where this road will ultimately lead. This evening I was puzzling again over what was really going on in our physical relationship. ...David said, ‘I guess I was just born different.’ ‘Different how?’ I added a list of possible options, homosexual among them, only to prove he could tell me anything—no matter how extreme—and I would be glad to hear it. But when he confirmed, after a hesitation, that he thought he was gay, I had disbelief. He poured out the deepest soul-secret burden of his life to me—how he knew from childhood he was different than other boys. I felt he was blowing a few events and stray thoughts out of proportion. This man is not a homosexual. I cried tears of sympathy for him to carry this burden, so heavy, alone all these years.

“This is the man who has always been my gentle lover and most thoughtful companion. We met at fourteen, were best friends, knew at seventeen that we wanted to marry each other some day, though we didn’t admit that even to each other until years later, wrote weekly letters through years of separation. A friend called us ‘the most compatible couple’ she’d ever known. A pastor’s wife told me she envied our close relationship. Out of all the siblings on both sides of our families, we’re the ones that our parents always count on to flow predictably, smoothly on through life, always avoiding crises. We don’t have crises. I’ve often said we knew each other so well and so long be-fore marriage that marriage had brought me no major surprises like other couples claim it does.

“We talked. Then we went for a walk and talked some more. I’m not at all sure David’s homosexual, but I am sure He’s been terribly burden-ed over this for all of our marriage, and I had no idea. I’ve known he felt less masculine, but I’ve always sort of blown that off as ridiculous. With his bushy beard, muscled arms, rugged outdoorishness—he’s obviously masculine. He seemed to think that just because he has no interest in sports, electronics, or mechanics there’s something wrong. Now I realize his identity crisis went deeper than I ever dreamed. Poor guy. I’m so glad he doesn’t have to carry it all by himself any more. He’s struggled daily with thoughts I didn’t know where there. I want to help him through this and share the burden. I’m still in denial, I guess. I wonder if anger will come next.

“I have felt that our marriage lacked the level of intimacy I craved. But I thought maybe I had unrealistic expectations. Now suddenly we have the deepest sharing—absolute intimacy and vulnerability. To know David trusted me with something that could ruin him awes me and feels a little scary.

“Suddenly, too, we are free spiritually to talk about our fears, needs, and struggles. I’ve needed that but was always embarrassed to seek it. He never seemed to understand, never seemed to have corresponding struggles. Now I realize he very much does. This is something to plead to God about together, and that’s wonderful.

“He did say that he’s never been active with anyone but me. I think this whole thing would’ve been a much greater hardship on me if that was not the case. I have complete trust in his truthfulness.

“He feels marriage to me kept him from acting out homosexual desires, even though it didn’t take them away. He fears he would’ve brought great shame to his family and maybe died of AIDS by now. If it wasn’t for David’s unconditional love that brought some self-worth into my life, I may have died of suicide by now. The acceptance and support he credits me for now were learned from him. Tonight I felt more than ever that we were meant for each other. Together we can overcome.”

In the days following, I was relieved to know what the problem was. The enemy had been identified. As we talked, I came to accept that David truly did struggle with homosexuality; it was not just a figment of his imagination. I felt a tremendous sorrow for his lonely twenty-five years of suffering. On the positive side, his disclosure brought increased emotional intimacy and union. There were negatives, however. I felt that this confirmed my lack of femininity—after all, if a man who was attracted to men was attracted to me, how could I possibly be feminine? Also, I felt the weight of carrying a huge, heavy secret. I was keenly aware of the disparity between appearance (a perfect marriage) and reality (a seriously troubled marriage). I had no one to talk to about this.

David: I had a sense of relief with the new openness between us. Kate knew the real me and still loved and supported me. Though we did a lot of talking, I still had no way out of my homosexual struggle. Somehow I’ve always known God would somehow provide victory over homosexuality. I didn’t know how, but I was sure He did, and would.

I was frustrated, though, that Kate seemed to think that we could pray real hard and God would just take it away. I knew it wouldn’t work that way, but didn’t want her to think I just didn’t have enough faith. Also, I had to regain Kate’s trust. It was a new reality to her that I would have sexual temptation.

Kate: Two and a half months after David’s disclosure, we flew to his parents’ home for Christmas. In my carry-on bag, I had the most recent issue of Christian Reader. I found an ad in the classified section: “HOW CHRIST CAN HELP THE HOMOSEXUAL. Homosexuals Anonymous is a Christian fellowship of men and women who have chosen to help each other live free from homosexuality through group support, shared growth, and a 14-step Christian recovery program. If you or someone you know needs help, contact HAFS, Box 7881, Reading PA 19603; telephone: (610) 376-1146. [Now (610) 779-2500] All requests confidential.”

I didn’t mention the ad to David, but determined to check it out. I had no idea whether this was a legitimate organization or not. After we return-ed home, I phoned. John J. listened to my situation, answered my questions, and offered to send more information. His Christian caring was so obvious that I forget to give him a fake name as I had planned, but caught myself just in time to at least give him a strange spelling.

When the materials arrived, I looked them over closely. I could see the recovery program employed two methods: following a workbook and attending small group meetings. David generally refused to work workbooks and attend small group meetings, so I had some trepidation about approaching him with the HA information.

David: I was pleased to discover there were materials to help people find freedom from homosexuality and began looking them over. I was curious as to whether there was any-thing to this. Was this God’s answer to my struggle? I was willing to overlook the fact that it involved a workbook and small groups. I decided to give it a real, heartfelt try. If it didn’t work, it wasn’t going to be because I didn’t work the program right. I ordered the first of literature that would eventually fill a large trunk and a two-drawer file cabinet.

Two months later I attended a meeting of the nearest chapter—200 miles from our home. Kate met with the wife of the chapter leader and was helped by having someone to talk to.

A few weeks later, we made the long trip to Reading, Pennsylvania, for the HA Recovery Seminar. I started a chapter in my area. I was the only one in the chapter, but I had one! I went to an HA Training Seminar. Because of starting that chapter I got a call from a former lesbian who led a small group for strugglers and family members about 70 miles from us. Kate and I started attending. I met a fellow-struggler there and we started having regular HA meetings. I always knew God would somehow bring victory and change in my life. I found (1) HA chapter meetings, (2) the HA workbook and related materials, (3) my Bible study and prayer, and (4) frequent mental reviews of the fourteen steps especially helpful in this process.

David: Communication is important. Kate needs to know where I am in my struggle and in my relation-ship with God. She needs to know that I’m having a devotional time with God. She needs to know that my goal is still set on being free from homosexuality. Although Kate knows me pretty well and can often guess what is going on in my mind, she doesn’t know if I’m fantasizing about homosexual acting out or what’s going on in my thought life. She can relax more and worry less if I’m open with her about where I am. It’s also easier for her if I’m the one who brings it up from time to time rather than her always having to ask how I’m doing.

She also needs to know about times when I sense that I’m weak. Then she can pray with and for me. This also brings a measure of accountability. When I know that she’ll be asking me how things have been going not too long from now, it’s amazing how much that can reduce temptation.

In communication, balance is important. While I need to be open with Kate, I also need to be sensitive to her needs and feelings. Giving her too much information or too many details can be harmful to our marriage and to her emotional well-being. Sexuality is very intimate and personal. It isn’t easy for her to know I’m finding another person sexually tempting. However, there is hope. By working the program, I’m discovering that my homosexual temptations are diminishing and that my heterosexual feelings for Kate are growing. Kate needs to hear about my victories over temptation and about my sexual feelings for her. She rejoices with me at each sign of progress, however small it may seem.

Kate: Just as David needs to communicate with me, I need to communicate with him. He can’t know whether this is a time that I have a need to know the details of his struggle, or whether it’s one of those times I just can’t handle any more and need to pull back and process what he’s already told me. If I need to be alone, or if I need the security of his presence, I need to tell him. If I’m feeling sad or angry or hopeful, it helps to tell him that and articulate the reasons as well as I can. Too many years have already been spent hiding inner feelings and struggles. We need to reverse that pattern: communication is the means.

David: I need to rebuild the trust Kate has in me. While I haven’t been sexually active with anyone else, Kate now knows I have temptations in that area. She needs to be sure in her mind that though I haven’t fallen in the past, the future is secure too. She needs to know that I value her and our marriage more than a fling with some guy, even when temptation is strong. She needs to know that I’ll stay away from places where I can indulge my temptations. When I’m late getting home, I need to call her so she knows where I am and when she can expect me. When we’ve been apart, I need to voluntarily tell her what happened during my time away, especially anything that has a bearing on my struggle. This helps rebuild trust.

I also need to be faithful in working the program. Kate gets concerned when she sees days or even weeks or months go by and I haven’t been working my workbook. Times of mental failure are almost always linked with times of laxness in working my program. She legitimately feels more trust when I’m faithfully working my program.

In our case, it has been good for Kate to get to know the guys in our chapter. On two different occasions I rode out to a conference in Reading with another HA member. These trips involved several nights in a hotel. Because Kate had developed trust not only in me, but also in these fellow strugglers, she felt comfortable in encouraging me to make the trip and be blessed by the meetings and fellowship. Because both of us guys were working the program, she was able to trust us and we were able to travel together with very little temptation. We found our time together was productive rather than destructive.

I thank God for bringing the help I knew He would bring. True, I didn’t always like the way he brought it, but, you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing! I just praise Him for being the wonderful Savior that He is.

--David and Kate P.

A MOTHER’S STORY!

I came to the Lord as a young married woman in my early 30’s going through a painful experience. My husband, Paul, was experiencing chronic swollen glands. The doctors were puzzled and admitted him to Albany Medical for biopsies. They suspected Hodgkin’s Disease, cancer of the lymphatic system. Out of desperation, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Shortly thereafter, Paul was released from the hospital with a diagnosis of sarcoidosis, which then disappeared and has not returned in over 30 years, but I am also grateful for the frightening experience which God used to bring me to Christ.

I was hit again in the autumn of 1997. Two years earlier our son Steve graduated from college and got a job as a paralegal in a law firm in New Jersey. Though he kept in regular contact with us, we felt strangely separated from him and felt something wasn’t right. Though he had asked the Lord into his heart as a youngster and had rededicated himself to the Lord as a senior in high school, he had obviously grown far from Him.

In the fall of 1997, I called Steve to leave a voice-mail message and in the process heard a greeting he had left on his answering machine for members of something called GAAMC. I called Steve to ask what GAAMC was. He said he would call that night to explain. When he called, he asked to speak to me first. He said that he was a “gay man.” I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. Then Steve asked to speak to his father and told him the same thing. My husband, in a very personal devotional for our church’s elder board, described how he felt: “I guess that was the worst day of my life, or maybe the first worst day of my life, because every day for the next five to six weeks continued to be the worst day of my life. For my wife it was more like four years of every day being the worst day of her life... I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”

Reeling from this announcement, Paul and I struggled to get our bearings and stay afloat. Paul and I spoke to our pastor who advised us to have a talk with Steve—he was coming home to visit for a few days —in order to state exactly where we stood on the issue of homosexuality. He also advised us not to nag Steve after our discussion.

We had this discussion with Steve and he responded with an expression on his face that I had never seen before, a kind of set look. Paul called it his “invisible protective shield.”

Paul and I started counseling with a Christian psychologist who admitted that he didn’t know how to rescue Steve from the homosexual disorder. I started reading everything I could find on the subject from a Christian perspective. On book in particular, Jeffrey Satinover’s Homosexuality and The Politics of Truth, was so disturbing that I couldn’t bring myself to finish it until my husband read it. I learned much about the homosexual disorder—none of it good and definitely not “gay”. I learned that gay life expectancy, even apart from AIDS and with a long-term partner, was approximately thirty years less than that of married men. I also found out that sexual infidelity was the norm, rather than the exception, even for male homosexual couples in long-term relationships. I also learned that homosexual behavior, like any other sexual behavior, is a choice but that same-sex attraction is not chosen. It is a disorder caused by deep emotional wounds in the heart of a young person that make him or her feel different from, or less than, other members of the same sex. Often the young person experienced hurt in his or her relationship with the same-sex parent and has felt rejected by them. The young person may also have experienced hurt and rejection in his or her peer inter-actions with other youngsters. This unmet need for love and acceptance can then become sexualized during adolescence. So homosexuality is actually a relational, nor a sexual, disorder. It is not genetically pre-determined and it is treatable. In other words, sexual orientation can, with the help of God, be changed if the person is strongly motivated to do so. I stored all these resources—tapes, books, pamphlets, etc., in a special file drawer ready to give Steve if and when he asked for them. And then we waited.

During those years of waiting, Paul and I traveled to Reading, Pennsylvania, for a Homosexuals Anonymous Family and Friends Seminar (now available on tape—see the HA Book Ministry list under “For Families and Friends”) led by John J. During the opening prayer I knew I was in the right place because the woman next to me was crying even harder than I was! In a conversation during lunch break, I shared one of my fears with John J. I told him that Steve was very bright and I was worried that he would use his abilities to further gay causes and do a lot of damage in the process. (We later found out that this turned out to be the case.) John replied that I shouldn’t worry—God has His ways of dealing with such things and undoing the harm folks sometimes do. That seminar was a great help.

Another source of support for me during those years was a Mothers’ Prayer Group that I joined. We developed a kind of “camaraderie of the trenches” mentality since we shared things with each other that we didn’t want discussed in the larger church fellowship. I remember mentioning that since Steve was an only child, Paul and I would never have any grandchildren. I asked the group if I should get rid of his old toys and games. They told me to hold on to them and I took their advice despite my natural inclination to throw away anything that isn’t being used. I’m still saving Steve’s beat-up Monopoly game in faith for any future grandchildren with which we may be blessed.

One of the women in the group wrote these encouraging words to me in early March 2001. “I praise God that Steve was dumped again because I assume it will bring him closer to the end of that path... Steve will finally realize that his lifestyle is destructive and sinful—I am sure of it because God has said if we pray in His will, He will do it—and another promise is that He will complete what He started in Steve. Satan’s attempts to claim Steve are pitiful compared to God’s almighty power! Your gratitude to God is the key—for upholding you and Paul through this. Keep thanking Him for answering the prayers you have already prayed for Steve—in His perfect way and timing. Build up your faith in God’s love for Steve and keep praising and thanking Him, ignoring Satan’s whispers of worry and fear. By Jesus’ stripes, Steve is healed and delivered from all unrighteousness! I’m believing with you.”

During those years in a kind of limbo, Paul and I had to deal with grief—something like mourning the loss of a loved one. I found John White’s thoughts on relinquishment helpful. He says it means to trust God about our children rather than our own ability to manage their lives. We have to learn how to place them in the safety of God’s hands and leave them there. This was very hard for me to do when my only son was dating men and spending weekends going to nightspots in Manhattan. The faithful prayers of Christian friends, the wise counsel of our psychologist, and the mothers’ prayer group kept Paul and me afloat during this dark time and kept me from descending into the depression I was prone to.

Then another blow! In February of 2002 my hairdresser noticed that the area above my right eye was swollen. Several weeks and four medical appointments later, I had outpatient surgery to remove a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from underneath my right eyelid. The cancer turned out to be slow growing and easily treatable, but we, of course, didn’t know this for a number of weeks and the waiting for the test results and final diagnosis was a time of uncertainty and fear.

Yet great blessing came of this! It prompted our son to take a long, hard look at his life and the choices he was making, bringing to an end my husband’s and my four-and-a-half years of waiting.

That summer Steve visited us for the 4th of July holiday. He asked us both to sit down so we could talk. Not knowing what to expect, we sat down with considerable anxiety. Steve quoted C. S. Lewis, saying, “All get what they want; they do not always like it.” He told us he wanted to leave the gay lifestyle and thanked us for our patience. We were completely stunned, but I was ready with my drawer full of materials collected to help Steve’s exist from homosexuality. His recovery had begun.

The last two years have been a busy time for Paul, Steve, and me. Steve moved home after finishing law school. He passed his Bar Exam and is presently working as an associate in a local law firm (after declining a job in a large New Jersey law firm that would have paid him more than double what he is making). He has made many friends by participating in a Christian men’s group called Good Fight of Faith that helps men escape from sexual addiction. He has learned to share his struggle with these men and is not alone in his battle but has a strong support network and good accountability. Now, when the phone rings, it’s always for Steve. He and another friend restarted the Men’s Basketball Fellowship. He and Paul have grown closer, father to son, talking and praying together frequently.

In Isaiah 49:25, the Lord says to His people: ‘Even the captives of the most mighty and most terrible shall all be freed, for I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children.” Paul, Steve and I are living in the light of this!

--Gerry H.

POINTS TO PONDER

Many argue, “The church in the past has always been rigid in these matters; it has denounced homosexuality as...sin.... It has held to the indissolubility of marriage. But by now, they say, we know that such attitudes are wrong.... So the conclusion is...that the great need at the moment is to bring the theology of the church ‘up to date’, and into conformity with modern knowledge. That, to me, is one of the most grievous departures from scriptural teaching that one can possibly imagine.... It takes away entirely the claim of the Bible to be the final authority in all matters of faith and conduct.... What is the new authority? Modern knowledge.... They are, of course, blind to the fact that the logic of their position is that in fifty years’ time what they now assert dogmatically will be proved to be wrong. Logically, their claims amount to this, that...there is no such thing as right at all...” [D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Life in the Spirit in Marriage, Home & Work: An Exposition of Ephesians 5:18-6:9, p. 353-354]

“All children must look after their own upbringing. Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.” [John Bartlett, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations quoted in Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart, p. 63]

GOOD NEWS!

We recently received two letters, which demonstrate why we are here, and which we hope will encourage you, our readers.

One brother writes: “I wanted to share with you the joy the Lord has given me, over the past year-and-a-half, of a developing relationship with a beautiful young woman.

As a recovering homosexual, this has been a great surprise and delight to me! Added to this was my great joy in seeing my special friend become a Christian in January 2001. Wow!!

“After a number of depressed and barren years, the New Millennium has truly seen the Lord extend His grace to me in some remarkable new ways. While I still struggle with same-sex attractions, my newfound heterosexual desires are very much alive, and I now see marriage as a real possibility for me. Up until two years ago, I never thought of myself and marriage in the same sentence. But just as the Lord used me to help lead my girlfriend to faith in Jesus, He used her to awaken Eros in me. What an awesome God we have!!

“Please pray for my continued recovery... I want to thank you for being there for me during some particularly rough times. I cannot tell you how much your gentle love, hope, and words of truth have meant to me, not to mention your newsletter and other available literature.

“I would encourage anyone struggling with homosexuality never to give up hope, because, although the healing process can sometimes take many years, it is always, most certainly, worth the wait. I will also say that becoming part of a support group three years ago was a decisive factor in propelling my recovery forward, after many years of stagnation.

“May the God of incarnational, self-sacrificing love sustain you and continue to surprise you with joy!”

Another brother, who was once actively involved in homosexuality but found freedom, sent us a picture of himself, his wife, and their new baby boy! He wrote: “’To God be the glory, great things He has done!”

“Enclosed is a pix of our little miracle gift from God. All is well with mother and child.

“A friend of mine in the lifestyle has really been coming around us lately and asking a lot of questions. It’s only a matter of time before he will want to be free!! I’m praying he will want to work the 14 steps. Hope all is well with you.

“Redeemed and loving it….”

“Once gay, always gay…”? These men, and hundreds like them, joyously proclaim, “That’s a lie! We are no longer what we once were and are delighted with the change!”

All of you who have been faithful to pray for and give to this ministry have been helpers of their joy. We thank you on their behalf.

Those of you who are walking the long and sometimes discouraging path to freedom want to listen to them as they encourage you, “Keep on keeping on! What you are looking for may be just over the next hill. Don’t turn back. On-ward!”

Family members and friends: take heart from these letters. God is not deaf! He hears your prayers. Pray on! Keep learning all you can about homosexuality so that you will have the answers your loved one needs as God answers those prayers at the right time. There is solid hope in Christ. Press on!

Those of you who are considering recovery—listen to what these men tell you. Don’t neglect any part of this program. Your way hasn’t worked in the past, has it? What makes you think it will work in the future? Put your ways behind you and work a program that works, if you work it! Why stay trapped any longer when Christ Himself reaches out with His nail-pierced hands toward you and says, “Come... Take my yoke upon you and learn of me…and you shall find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-30). Won’t you answer that call today and every day till you find what He has for you?

POINTS TO PONDER

“People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, ‘If you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.’… I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature if heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state of the other.” [C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 78-79]

“If people are willing to follow Christ, there is immense hope: hope in God’s forgiving grace, hope in God’s love that is faithful even when we are not, and hope that God can give power so that we are no longer mastered by the addiction.... Temptations will definitely come.... But it is an experience that is common to all Christians... Furthermore, the temptation is resistible. God promises grace to flee from it.... We have a natural tendency to set our hearts on ourselves, seeking short-term pleasure and security rather than the glory of God. Ultimately, this selfish pleasure-seeking...will...lead to our downfall. To avoid this destruction, God promises that...he will give us a way of escape. In other words, there is no situation in which we are compelled to sin. We are promised the strength to run from temptation...” [Edward T. Welch, Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave: Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel, p. 138]

"A man's heart is right when he wills what God wills." [Thomas Aquinas in In Touch in Pulpit Helps, (June 2002), p. 11]

“Idleness is the shipwreck of chastity.” [A Treasury of Essential Proverbs, p. 313]

DOES ANYONE IN THE CHURCH CARE?

One of the saddest verses in the entire Bible might be called the struggler’s lament. In Psalm 144:2 the psalmist weeps, “No man cared for my soul.”

It is not surprising that the man or woman seeking freedom from homosexuality would find no support in the “gay” community. Especially those who struggle against their feelings because they want to be true to Christ find that they are the objects of ridicule by many they had looked to as friends.

What is tragic, however, is that these same strugglers too often meet with indifference and even hostility from churches that claim to exist to feed Christ’s lambs.

Consider this letter we reprint with the author’s permission.

“For the last year I have attended a large, dynamic church with many ministries, including one to help people struggling with addictions. Shortly after I began going there, they had a ministry fair and the minister said, ‘If you see something we don’t have, tell us. Maybe we’ll start it.’

“I wrote to a counseling minister including some literature of HA and asked if they could start something to help strugglers there. She never answered my letter.

“Three months after this, the minister said something about homosexuality and I wrote him and told him of my letter to the counseling minister and her lack of response and asked if the church could have a ministry to help people who struggle in this way and offered to give him the HA videotape and workbook. He also never answered.

“I told my sister-in-law and said I had hoped that a large church like that would want to help HA financially and she responded, ‘They don’t want to help out in that area. They just want it to go away.’

“In your May 2 newsletter you requested the help of prayer warriors. I’m sorry to say that it seems like the only people who care about homosexual strugglers are people like myself and yourselves who have the struggle. This being the case, we really do need each other. I’d be interested in trying to pray regularly from the special prayer letter. God bless you.”

There you have it: “No man cared for my soul.” Ministries that focus on helping people get free of homosexuality, rather than battling in the political realm, find little help from most churches or other Christian organizations. People who struggle know they dare not share their private battles with others in church, for to do so would be to risk being despised and rejected.

An editor of Christianity Today writes, “...The ex-gay movement comprises many tiny ministries operating in a kind of spread-out ghetto. The wider church has them in a quarantine, waiting to see whether they will slip up. Lacking much tangible or emotional support from the larger body of Christ, they are peculiarly vulnerable. The church’s quarantine could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. People with homosexual desire need the church’s concern. Many desperately want help from a church, but they are afraid to identify themselves for fear of being ostracized. Many congregations know nothing about the needs of homosexuals, and many do not want to know. Ex-gay ministries offer a way to respond. If the wider church were to embrace such ministries, it would see at close range the realism of what they do. If the church keeps them at arm’s length, it will never know. They will be weaker. The rest of us will be, too.’” [Tim Stafford, “Coming Out,” The Crisis of Homosexuality, p. 75]

All of this hinders the healing of the homosexual. Dr. Elizabeth Moberly received her Ph.D. in psychology from Oxford University. In her studies she found “that the homosexual—whether man or woman—has suffered from some deficit in the relationship with the parent of the same sex...” [Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic, p. 2] “The parent may or may not be culpable, but in either case the child has genuinely been hurt. The difficulty arises when such hurt is accompanied by an unwillingness to relate any longer to the love-source that has been experienced as hurtful.... Subsequent to this effect, the behavior of the same-sex parent becomes irrelevant since the child is no longer able to relate normally to him or her. Even if love is offered, it cannot be received” [Ibid., p. 4].

“Needs for love, from, dependency on, and identification with, the parent of the same are met through the child’s attachment to the parent. If, however, the attachment is disrupted, the needs that are normally met through the medium of such an attachment remain unmet” [Ibid., p. 5].

If these needs go unmet over a period of time, the child develops mixed and contradictory feelings toward its same-sex parent and tries, through a process of detachment, to survive without the love he or she deeply needs. The emotionally hurt youngster says of the same-sex parent, “I don’t want to be like you.” These feelings are transferred to all members of the same sex much as a divorced man may say, “All women are no good!” or a divorced woman may say, “All men are rotten!” Thus the hurt child experiences at the same time a deep desire for intimacy with persons of the same sex and a strong desire to flee such intimacy. When puberty comes, these feelings get confused with erotic intimacy and a homosexual struggle begins.

Homosexual behavior is a mistaken attempt to meet a real need for non-sexual, same-sex, parent-child love. This need is falsely understood as sexual, but homosexual behavior actually lessens the possibility of getting the real needs met because it involves guilt, deepens feelings of inferiority, and increases the ambivalence experienced in same-sex relating. Dr. Earl D. Wilson notes, “The anonymous sex which many homosexuals experience seems only to strengthen the reparative urge and leave the person more desperate” [Counseling and Homosexuality, p. 59].

What can be done to resolve the problem? Dr. Moberly says, “It is the provision of good same-sex relationships that helps meet unmet same-sex needs, heals defects in the relational capacity, and in this way, forwards the healing process” (op. cit., p. 42). “Love is the basic problem, the great need, and the only true solution. If we are willing to seek and to mediate the healing and redeeming love of Christ, then healing for the homosexual will become a great and glorious reality” [Ibid., p. 52].

The church’s failure to care deeply for homosexual strugglers by either telling them to do as they please, or being indifferent, makes finding freedom terribly and unnecessarily difficult. Even Christians may feel, “If my same-sex parent, who was supposed to represent God, did not show care for me, and if the church, which is the body of Christ, does not show care, how can I believe God cares? I know the Bible says He does, and I try to believe it, but all I’ve experienced from those who were supposed to show me what God was like runs contrary to what Scripture seems to teach. It makes it so difficult!”

John Stott writes, “At the heart of the homosexual condition is a deep loneliness, the natural human hunger for mutual love, a search for identity, and a longing for completeness. If homosexual people cannot find these things in the local ‘church family,’ we have no business to go on using that expression.” [Same-Sex Partnerships? p. 81]

How much love, care, and support do Christians struggling to find freedom from unwanted homosexual feelings or behavior get from you and your church? As the Lord Jesus examines you on your care for these folk, can He say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”, or will some other verdict be necessary?

--John J.

POINTS TO PONDER

"I...know this: Ex-gay ministry is of God. Lives are being changed. Those blinded by sexual abuse see again. Those lamed by sexual brokenness walk again. Those who were dead in their sins are raised in Christ. Churches which are too dysfunctional to get on with this ministry will become a thing of the past..." [Robert L. Kuyper, Transforming Congregations, (January-March, 1999), p. 4]

“I believe the Christian community today needs...to become part of the healing process. For too long, we have shot our wounded with shame rather than offering the healing arms of Christ’s grace and understanding. The time to pretend that Christians are perfect is over. It needs to be okay for Christians to struggle through problems and deep hurts in order to heal.” [Earl R. Henslin, The Way Out of the Wilderness, p. xi]

“The church is not made up of spiritual giants; only broken men can lead others to the Cross.” [Davis J. Bosch, A Spirituality of the Road quoted in Richard A. Kauffman, “The Church,” Christianity Today, (January 2005), p. 64]

“The first principle of Christian conduct is to promote the glory of God; the second is to avoid giving offense, or causing men to sin. In other words, love to God and love to men should govern all our conduct.” [Charles Hodge, An Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 202-203]

"Unfortunately, discussions about homosexuality have successfully been relegated to only the promotion of its acceptance, rather than the release of the captives." [Dan Puumala, Outpost News, (June 2000), p. 1]

“...There’s a difference between struggling with a sin and cherishing it. You may genuinely desire to forgive another person. In your mind you have said many times, ‘I forgive her,’ yet your corrupt heart keeps bringing it up. You cry out to God to change you, but for some reason He allows you to keep struggling. That is not cherishing sin: that is warring against it.” [Jerry Bridges, The Joy of Fearing God, p. 243]

A CALL TO REPENTANCE

Many, reading that heading might expect a call to those who struggle with homosexuality to repent. While it is true that strugglers need to turn from sin to Christ, a verse in the Bible points in another direction: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (II Chronicles 7:14).

This is a call to all who profess to be Christians and to every church which says “Jesus is Lord” to examine themselves and see where they may need to repent.

A wonderful woman, who has never struggled with same-sex attractions, but who has a heart for those who do, writes that Christians have “publicly and privately said things about persons with same-sex attractions which are simply un-Christian, and for this we need to demonstrate our real repentance. Sincere repentance is not only necessary if we want to be on God’s side in this, it is also essential for us to be credible, be-cause [those who struggle know] our sins in the matter and hold them against us.

“Yes, homosexual acts are objectively sinful, but none of us ‘chooses’ our temptations. They didn’t choose their feelings. Most of them have no idea why this happened to them and not their brother or sister. They wanted to be like other people, but they always felt ‘different.’ It was our job to be there with information, with real help, and with prayer—and we failed!

“It is our fault that in 1963, when therapists knew how to prevent and treat same-sex attraction, we didn’t care. We knew who was homosexual and we left them in their glass closets. We abandoned them to their suffering. They lived through years of teasing, humiliations, lies, rejection, and shame. Of course ‘coming out’ feels to them like a solution. Acceptance feels better than rejection. But ‘coming out’ is really giving up hope. Why did they give up hope? Because we never gave them solid reasons to hope. We just added to their shame until the burden became unbearable. Most of all we didn’t pray for them as we should have....

“We must not be afraid to confess our past failures. We must rededicate ourselves to prayer and to sharing our hope... It is not what we are against that shapes who we are, but what we are for.... We are for reality, for truth, and for love.” [Heartbeat News #32, (May 3, 2004), p. 1,2]

Wonderful words—but are they true?

Are they true of you? When was the last time you specifically remember-ed a homosexual person or a homosexual struggler in prayer? When did you last reach out in love to someone struggling with this problem? Have you been faithful to give to those ministries that are trying to help such men and women find freedom? When did you last give? How much did you give last year? Can you really say that you care for these men and women as much as Christ cares for them?

Are those words true of your church? When was the last time you heard heartfelt prayer from the pulpit for those trapped in homosexuality? How would those who struggle be received if they came to your church? What portion of your church’s budget is earmarked to help them out of the pit in which they find themselves or to help those who are seeking to help them?

And so I ask, “Do you need to repent? Does the church—your church—need to repent? How will that repentance show itself in life? What will the fruits of it be? Will you repent? When?”

--John J., Reading, PA

POINTS TO PONDER

“...Jesus said that he had not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. So we shouldn’t be surprised to find a number of unhealthy people in churches. My father was found of saying that the church was not ‘a club-house for saints, but a hospital for sinners.” [Garrett Keizer, The Enigma of Anger, p. 212]

"Archaeological studies confirm that the ancient world knew of homosexual desire and practice... Thus it is striking that every time homosexual practice is mentioned in the Scriptures, it is condemned. There are only two ways one can neutralize the biblical witness against homosexual behavior: by gross misinterpretation or by moving away from a high view of Scripture.... The only way to neutralize the biblical witness against homosexual behavior is either grossly to misrepresent the Bible or to undermine its authority." [Dr. Stanton L. Jones, "The Loving Opposition," Christianity Today, (July 19, 1993), p. 20,24]

"In this superficial twentieth century we have a very easy way of disposing of the facts we don't like to believe. We say, 'I don't believe this,' and we think that does away with the fact. Men who do not want to believe in hell say, 'I don't believe in hell,' and they think that they have shut the gates of hell by saying that. Men who don't want to believe in the Bible say, 'I don't believe in the Bible,' and they think that they annihilate the Book that has stood for nineteen centuries by saying that. Men who do not want to believe in Christ say, 'I do not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,' and they think by their not believing it He ceases to be the Son of God. Has it never occurred to you that a fact is a fact whether you believe it or not?... Denying a fact does not alter a fact, and denying that Jesus is the Son of God does not alter the fact that He is the Son of God. It only makes you guilty of robbing a divine Person of the honor that is His due." [R. A. Torrey, Revival Addresses, p. 174-175]

"People cannot change truth, but truth can change people." [Pulpit Helps, (July 2000), p. 16]

“Sin is not just breaking a few rules: sin is an audacious attempt to put ourselves above God and everyone else. We are at war with reality; no wonder there are casualties on all sides.” [Ron Julian, Righteous Sinners, p. 72]

“...I have some bad news and some good news for you. The bad news is that Satan is very real and he is out to get you. The good news is that because Jesus has come, Satan is a defeated foe. As someone has said, ‘The dragon has been slain, but his tail still swishes.’” [Steve Brown, If Jesus Has Come, p. 61]

“Where God has his church, the Devil will have his chapel.” [Spanish proverb in Powerful Thinking for Powerful Living, p. 51]

HOME REJOICING!

Many people labor under the mistaken notion that homosexuality cannot be changed—"once gay, always gay." But I found out otherwise in 1992, when God sent someone into my life who would prove instrumental in bringing me out of lesbianism.

I considered myself a classic born-that-way lesbian, tragic and romantic, and no one could tell me anything. I was very masculine, rough talking, and hot-tempered. I was proud of the fact that I didn't own a single dress, and I often wore men's neckties with my tailored shirts and jackets. Because I was also tall, I was frequently addressed as 'Sir' by busy clerks and bus drivers, a gaffe that always hurt and enraged me. I took it very personally, apparently forgetting that it was my own choice of apparel that had invited the mistake.

This was my protective covering. I had learned as a child that it was dangerous to be a girl, why my older cousin molested me repeatedly. My mother told me, too, that I should have been a boy, and I think I was trying to give her what she wanted. My father provided little leadership in the family, and I believed I could be a better man than he.

My parents were abusive drinkers, and sometimes, when they had been especially difficult, my grandmother would take me and my sister into her quiet, cool room. She would turn off the lights and we would listen to Grandma's 'religious programs,' with the soft glow of the old Philco radio as our only illumination. We loved 'Brother Ralph,' and we gladly put our hands on the radio when he invited us to welcome Jesus into our hearts. Decades later, those seeds that our loving grandmother sowed would yield a wonderful crop.

When I was in my early teens, I read a strange book called The Well of Loneliness, Radclyffe Hall's 1928 novel about a lesbian, and it had a profound effect on me. It seemed to give shape and definition to the nebulous feelings that swept through me night and day, powerful romantic longings that fastened on other girls and especially on women teachers. I had no one in whom to confide my confusion, no one who could answer my questions. It was 1953, and people didn't talk about such things. Other books followed that first one, and I stuffed a lot of lurid misinformation into my head. I began wearing heavy boots and cut my hair short, and when I was old enough, I joined the Air Force. Then I traversed the country from Maine to Texas for a few years, working at various jobs. I landed in jail for a time--pills, alcohol, and bad checks. That shocked me enough to give my life some direction, and I began college in 1963, working my way through. By 1971, I had earned three degrees and racked up more than a dozen 'relationships.' Every time, driven by a powerful emotional dependency, I had thought and vowed that it was true love and would last forever. I had rings, keepsakes, photographs, and broken dreams, but I still believed that Miss Right was just around the corner, perhaps in the next bar or at the next party.

After 13 years as an English professor, I began to do legal editing for a large law firm. That was where I was when Sara came into my life, the divinely appointed border collie that would nip at my heels and drive me up and out of the box canyon where I had gotten myself stuck. Sara was hired by my law firm; she was twenty years younger than I and in many ways very innocent, but God knew what He was doing when He sent her my way. She had a mind of her own and a fair that could not be shaken. I was used to running roughshod over others, but I couldn't do that with her. She was smart, she was funny, she was godly, and she was out-spoken. I couldn't help liking her, but at the same time I thought she was the most frustrating, narrow-minded young woman I had ever known.

Because we did the same kind of work, we were thrown together constantly, and more often than not, the office resembled a battlefield. We disagreed about many things, but mostly about homosexuality. And yet, we became friends. I had warned Sara that she was going to get talked about if she spent time with me, but she had set her jaw and told me plainly that she belonged to Christ and that He hadn't given her permission not to be friends with me. I considered myself just as good a Christian as Sara--maybe even better, because I didn't have what I thought of as her self-righteous, legalistic approach to things. I would argue that God created homosexuals because He liked diversity, or that He wanted to see how people would treat each other, or that He had cast homosexuals as the new Samaritans, to challenge Christian's ethics. Sara would look at me calmly and maintain that He hadn't created homosexuals--that He had created us as males and females, but that some of us had wandered willfully off to do as we wished. Sara's authority, and the only one she would recognize, was the Bible. About that time, I did a dangerous thing: I asked God point-blank what the truth was. Were those verses in the Bible meant to apply to me, or was the world different now? Had He made me this way? If so, why would He call my kind of love an abomination? Little did I know that I was setting irresistible forces in motion when I asked those questions.

When Sara invited me to Bible Study Fellowship, I was insulted and indignant. I insisted that I had been studying the Bible before she was born and that I had suffered more slings and arrows from Christians than from any other group. But she wouldn't take no for an answer. I attended the classes for a few weeks, but they seemed to precipitate a spiritual crisis. I began to be tense and anxious on those evenings, and the hymn we sang made me cry. They reminded me of my grandmother. I began to wonder what she would say if she could see me now. I couldn't stand thinking about it, and I was determined to put the whole matter behind me. Sara had her opinions and I had mine, and we were never going to agree.

I dropped out of Sara's Bible study and began to build a wall of defense between us. I was tired, and I wanted the peace of mind I thought I had had before. All through the winter of 1993 and 1994, I sought that peace, but I couldn't find it. In an attempt to put the issue to rest, I began to raid the county library. I read statements on homosexuality from all the mainline churches. Some said that love in all its forms was holy to the Lord. Others said that Scripture never casts homosexuality in a favorable light regardless of the circumstances. The Bible-believing churches maintained that incest hadn't changed, bestiality hadn't changed, homosexuality hadn't changed, and God certainly hadn't changed.

Then I began reading books by Christian counselors. I was both intrigued and depressed by a suggestion put forth by several writers: that homosexuality was rooted in a disordered relationship with the same-sex parent. I realized with something of a shock that in most cases, if not every case, the gay people I knew had had deep trouble of one kind or another with the same-sex parent. Including me. And I learned that a great many lesbians had suffered sexual abuse in childhood. Including me. My life read like a classic recipe for lesbianism.

My overwhelming reaction to the new information and the old memories was shame. All my life I had schooled myself to believe I was special, a proud member of an elite 'third sex,' and now I was faced with a picture of myself as a victim and, when you get right down to it, as a case of arrested development--a little girl who needed her mother. I was mortified. And I was angry. I went to bed angry, I dreamed angry dreams about my parents, and I woke up angry. But as I studied, I learned that it wasn't my needs that were wrong—only the ways in which I had been trying to fill those needs.

God seemed to be silent. Sometimes I felt rebellious, sometimes just very much alone. At last, in the darkest of those dark days, I crept to the only place left for me--the foot of the cross. I was worn out, defeated, and ready to surrender. I offered the Lord the only thing I had and the very last thing I wanted to give: unconditional obedience. I know now that obedience is in many ways the key to everything. But at that time, I had no hope of being delivered from homosexuality. I didn't ask to be made straight; I asked to be made obedient. I asked for the grace to live chastely for the rest of my life. That would be enough.

I still didn't understand the conflict between my feelings and God's commandments, but neither had Jesus' words made sense to Peter when he was told to let down his nets one more time (Luke 5:5). Like Peter, puzzled and tired, I said, "Nevertheless, at Your word," and like Peter, I began drawing in a very great catch of blessings.

I went back to Sara's Bible study and found a loving home there. I began learning how to be a godly woman and how to look like one. I was being made new inside and out. Now when I look back on my life, I seem to be looking at the life of a stranger.

I received much more than I had asked for. Yes, I received the grace of obedience and chastity, but I also received a new birth within and a mending of what had been broken. I have learned to accept God's will for me and His plan for me, and I have become comfortable with being the woman He made me to be. I often think of the verse of a particular hymn because it so clearly depicts my life:

"Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed,

Yet in love He sought me,

And on His shoulder gently laid

And home rejoicing brought me."

I thank Him with all my heart for His great goodness to me!

--Karen L.

POINTS TO PONDER

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” [Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living, 1960, in First Ladies Quotation Book, p. 5]

“Since temptation always begins with a thought, the quickest way to neutralize its allure is to turn your attention to something else. Don’t fight the thought, just change the channel of your mind and get interested in another idea. This is the first step in defeating temptation. The Battle for sin is won or lost in your mind. Whatever gets your attention will get you.” [Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, p. 210]

PAIN-FREE AT LAST!

My childhood was marred by my mother's psychological problems and her fascination with tarot cards and ouija boards. I was extremely afraid of my mother. She had an inner rage that translated into physical abuse. Her temper was unpredictable. I never knew when an abusive episode might come.

I remember my first day at kindergarten. I was told to bathe myself for the occasion. As I sat in the tub, I tried desperately to wrap my little five-year-old hands around the bar of soap. It kept slipping from my hands. My mother grew agitated and began to hit me in the face again and again. I sat in the tub terrified, afraid to move. When I opened my eyes and looked down, I noticed the water had a reddish tint. I was bleeding. The abuse continued for many years.

My problems at home began to show in my school performance. My father stepped in as disciplinarian and forced me to stand in front of him while he flashed multiplication cards at me. If I answered wrong, he would slap me across my face. These sessions would go on for hours. My brothers laughed and I was called an idiot daily. I felt alone and helpless. I wanted someone to make everything right. I wanted comfort, but didn't know where to look.

My only solace was food. My weight gain embarrassed and infuriated my parents and led to more taunting from my brothers. I began to look at myself with disgust. I swallowed a handful of my mother's valiums in an unsuccessful suicide attempt.

Finally, I created my own sanctuary. I was confused about my sexuality and determined to explore my secret feelings and attractions. I decided God must have created me gay and determined to find contentment in gay bars and through gay alliances. I felt a belonging, but was still in pain and turned to drugs to help me forget.

One day a woman I had been seeing introduced me to a male friend of hers. He was attractive, intelligent, attentive, and very concerned about me. I found myself drawn to this man, but my feelings seemed bizarre. How could I, a lesbian, feel like this about a man? I had to make a choice. I decided to move in with him. Living with a man was different, but oddly enough it felt normal.

We were together for seven years. He helped me break my addiction to drugs. We had a baby girl. I was so happy. I thought our relationship would last forever, but he began drinking and alcohol soon took priority over me, our daughter, our future. We tried to reconcile, but nothing worked. The relationship was over.

My parents had become Christians and their lives were forever changed. I moved back home and the Lord began speaking to my heart. He helped me find a job and furnish an apartment. He took care of all the problems around me to give me the opportunity to work on my emotional issues, but I was intimidated by my Heavenly Father's gentle prodding and the thought of facing myself terrified me. I didn't want to feel the pain of self-discovery, so I chose to ignore the Lord's voice!

I began repeating old behaviors. I latched onto my cousin who was gay and he reintroduced me to the ways I had left. Then one night, at a party, I met Beatrice. We exchanged phone numbers and began seeing each other.

The relationship was stormy. I'd always said I would never allow anger to rule me as it had my mother, but as Beatrice grew more and more verbally abusive, my hidden anger began to unfold. Then, one night during a huge altercation, I shot her. She died on the scene. I was charged with murder and sentenced to forty years in prison.

God used this terrible sin to draw me closer to Himself. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in jail. I still struggled with homosexuality but found help through a godly prison chaplain and through the literature and pen pal program of HA.

I've been in prison for seven years now, but I'm free! I cannot fix the irreversible damage I've done, but my prayer is that someone else who is confused, as I was, will read my story and look to Christ while there is still time. I've found that through Jesus Christ hurts can be healed, offenses can be forgiven, weaknesses can become strengths, and life can be eternal! Won't you let Jesus show all this to you too?

--Robin F.

POINTS TO PONDER

"In women, the most common factor influencing homosexual attractions is a mistrust of male love. This lack of trust or safe feeling with those of the opposite sex usually results from hurts with the father or with other important males, or from observing the father mistreat the mother....

"The second most common cause of same-sex attractions in women is a weak feminine identity. This can originate from a lack of warmth in the mother relationship, rejection by female peers when young, or a negative body image.

"Both mistrust of male love and a weak feminine identity can be treated successfully." [Peter Rudegeair, "Questions and Answers about Same-Sex Attractions," NARTH Bulletin, (August 2000), p. 24]

"People think if you're not sexually active you are less than whole. That's part of the whole homosexual debate—because I've got a sexual yearning, it must come from God. And if it comes from God, he wants me to use it. But people are more than sexual beings. Much of the debate about sex has reduced people to their sexuality. That's true whether they're gay or heterosexual." [M. Craig Barnes in Leadership, (Fall 1999), p. 69]

“God does not expect perfection from His children. If He did, He would not have provided grace! Ours is a down-to-earth faith that is meant to be worked out in the trenches of life with the support—not the condemnation—of a healing community.” [Earl R. Henslin, The Way Out of the Wilderness, p. 120]

"Our personal problems are rooted in disconnection, from God because of our arrogance and from others because of our fear and selfishness. The cure is connection." [Larry J. Crabb, Jr. and Dan B. Allender, Hope When You're Hurting, p. 184-185]

“He is not fit to command others, that cannot command himself.” [A Treasury of Essential Proverbs, p. 61]

ARE YOU READING?

Dr. D. Charles Williams, a Christian psychologist, writes: "In working with homosexuals, my experience is that they can make a shift in sexual orientation if they are interested and motivated.... Changing their sexual orientation will be perhaps the hardest thing they ever try to do." [Forever a Father, Always a Son, p. 160]

Too many of us hope there is that "easier, softer way" that all step-groups warn does not exist. As AA puts it, "Half measures availed us nothing." In other words, "You gotta work!" Sloth is still one of the "seven deadly sins" and it is folly to expect God to bless it!

To help people find freedom, HA has developed and is constantly working to improve a program which might be likened to a three-legged stool. Leg 1 involves group support through chapter meetings and church fellowship. Leg 2 involves personal attention through step-coaching and/or professional counseling where needed and possible. Leg 3 involves individual effort through working the workbook, reading, and journaling. What happens to someone trying to sit on a three-legged stool if one of the legs is missing? Crash!

Leg 3--especially reading--is what we are considering here. Reading is important because group meetings tend to be general and cannot give enough time to work through individual problems. Step coaching deals with the mechanics of the program and the problems you and your step-coach perceive you need to work through. What about any problems that might be missed? Reading can catch areas passed over in group and step-coaching and reinforce (how quickly we forget!) lessons learned. Every major recovery group says reading is a major part of recovery.

Nor is this just some idea of recovery groups. Spurgeon, commenting on II Timothy 4:13, writes: "Even an apostle must read.... He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven and had heard things which it was unlawful for a man to utter, and yet he wants books! The apostle says..., 'Give thyself unto reading' (I Timothy 4:13). The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains, proves that he has no brains of his own.... You need to read.... You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master's service. Paul cries, 'Bring the books'--join the cry."

John Wesley, in a letter to George Holder, November 8, 1790, stated, "It cannot be that the people should grow in grace unless they give themselves to reading. A reading people will always be a knowing people. A people who talk much will know little. Press this upon them with all your might; and you will soon see the fruit of your labors."

J. Keith Miller writes: "When I was a young boy, a wise older person once told me that the only doorway to the unconscious center of my heart was through my conscious mind. She said that in order to be a wise and sensitive man when I grew up I should put 'wise and sensitive' things in my mind every day, and that they would seep into my heart. 'One of the main ways you can "take things in,"' she said, 'is to read something enriching every day.'"

Evelyn Underhill said: "Spiritual reading is, or at least can be, second only to prayer as a developer and support of the inner life."

The importance of reading is not something seen merely by preachers and mystics. George Gallup, the famous pollster, says: "Based upon a good many years of devoted study of the public's reading habits, I am convinced that unless an individual spends at least one hour and forty-five minutes a day reading newspapers, magazines and books, he is not going to achieve much success in life. In other words, leaders are readers; readers are feeders; readers are seeders. Our output is in ratio to our input."

Marian Wright Edelman states: "College pays and is a fine investment. It doubles your chance of getting a job over a high school graduate. But don't think you can park there or relegate your mind's and soul's growth to what you have learned or will learn at school. Read. Not just what you have to read for class or work, but to learn from the wisdom and joys and mistakes of others."

As Abraham Lincoln put it, "Clearly, books can be forces for both good and bad... Books are dynamic and powerful instruments, tools and weapons."

Consider these thoughts: "Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." --Andre Mairaux "A book may be as great a thing as a battle." --Benjamin Disraeli "I am a part of all that I have read." --John Milton "A room without books is like a body without a soul." --Cicero "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." --Mark Twain

All of this is to say that if you want to recover, you need to read books that will help you do so. "What if someone cannot read or is learning disabled?" you may protest. They are severely handicapped in recovery as in every other area of life. The time of their recovery is lengthened and the chances of it are lessened. Recovery is not impossible for them (God sometimes grants supernatural aid to those who cannot help themselves), but it is more difficult. You, however, probably can read (perhaps with effort) and are probably not learning disabled. You surely cannot expect God to bless lack of effort (which usually means one does not really want what he or she says they want). God answers the heart, not just words. What are you to do?

Where are you in your recovery? Are you just starting on the road to freedom? Then may I suggest you read several books from the HA Book Ministry list under the heading "FOR THOSE WANTING TO GIVE OR RECEIVE HELP WITH HOMOSEXUALITY". Be sure you have the HA workbook, Lord, Set Me Free! and try to do a question in it every day. Be sure to follow the suggestions at the end of each chapter on how to work the step. Be certain to also read the book Experience, Strength and Hope. These two books will give you a good beginning. Then read a few more (if you need help to select one which might profit you, don't hesitate to call the office for suggestions) and you are ready to proceed.

If you are further along, what step are you working on in the workbook? Look at the list under that step in the HA Book Ministry list and select a book that deals with an area you need to work on. Do try to read at least 10 pages every day. If that's impossible for you, try 5, but set a goal and stick to it. You'll be amazed six months from now at the progress you've made and the help you've found. After all, as George William Curtis has said, "Books are the ever-burning lamps of accumulated wisdom."

--John J.

BAD NEWS; SAD NEWS

“For years the public has been told that consistent, proper condom use will reduce the risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In public sex education classes and in countless other forums, we have been told that sex outside of marriage is ‘inevitable’ and that ‘safe sex’ via proper condom use should be promoted. Chief among those advocating this ‘safe sex’ solution have been the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“We now know that this ‘safe sex/condom’ message was based not on scientific evidence, but on theoretical models evidently influenced by a false hope that condoms would prove to be effective. In July of this year the NIH released a report, based on over 100 clinical studies, which concludes that there is no scientific proof that condoms prevent the transmission of most STDs.

“Needless to say, this information was not brought to our attention by the local media. CCV learned of this report through a release from the Annals of Pharmacotherapy, whose most recent issue featured two articles that review the NIH report and discuss its implications.

“Thomas Fitch, MD, a pediatrician from San Antonio and a panel member of the government work-shop that created the report, provides an insider’s perspective on the findings of the report. He concludes his article by encouraging health care professionals to counsel the public based on the truth about condom safety reflected in this report.

“The second article, written by Gene Rudd, MD, Associate Executive Director, Christian Medical and Dental Associations, describes how past assumptions of condom effectiveness and the availability of ‘safe sex’ have misled many, causing suffering and even death as a result of ‘condom propaganda.’ He concludes his article as follows: ‘So what should we now conclude about safe sex? Since condoms are not the answer, what should we advise? The answer is something that societies of past generations knew and advocated—life-long monogamy. Most people called it marriage—abstinence before and faithfulness within. This safe sex theory has a proven track record for personal and public health.’” You can get copies of the above-mentioned articles by writing Citizens for Community Values, 11175 Reading Road, Ste. 103, Cincinnati, OH 45241. [“Condom Myth Exposed,” Citizens’ Courier, (Fall 2001), p. 7, used with permission.]

To understand the gravity of this for those who struggle, consider these words by Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons: "For twenty years I have journeyed beside courageous men and women as they have struggled toward freedom from same-sex attraction disorder (SSAD). This disorder can enslave a person much as a powerful drug can, and the results are often fatal. Research indicates that 50 percent of men with same-sex attractions will be HIV-positive by age fifty, the majority will have more than twenty sexual partners per year, and less than 9 percent of those with same-sex attractions will have relationships that last more than three years....

"Despite the claims that extensive educational programs, coupled with widespread use of condoms, have contained the epidemic among men who have sex with men, the majority of men in the homosexual lifestyle will become HIV-positive, in part because almost 40 percent engage in unsafe sexual practices. Several studies have been done recently on high-risk behavior among adolescent males who have sex with men. The results are alarming because, though almost all adolescents are aware of the risk, 38 percent engage in unprotected sex. The fruit of this behavior is sadly predictable; in one study, nine percent of homosexual males between the ages of twenty and twenty-two were already HIV-positive." ["The Origins and Therapy of Same-Sex Attraction Disorder," Homosexuality and American Public Life, p. 85-86]

Why are such risks taken? Dr. Earl Wilson gives an answer as he tells of a homosexual counselee he calls Bill who told him, "In my world, if you are not good-looking you are nothing." This same man said later, "Do you see why AIDS is not a major concern for me? I'm getting older and my body isn't as attractive as it used to be. Sometimes I feel like it doesn't matter if I die early because by the time I am thirty I'm dead anyway. I won't be attractive to the people that matter to me and I am not sure I can handle the rejection." [Counseling and Homosexuality, p. 26-27]

“As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn!... Why will you die...?” [Ezekiel 33:11 NIV]

--John J.

POINTS TO PONDER

"Our culture sends numerous messages through all forms of media to each of us every day that say, 'If you feel general uneasiness or tension, it must be the result of sexual desire.' There is almost an automatic response in some people to conclude, 'I feel restless, so I must need sexual intercourse.' The root, however, is not a need for sexual release but a need for emotional intimacy." [Charles Stanley, Our Unmet Needs, p. 52]

“For all the efforts to pursue happiness, and fulfillment, and equality, and justice...the measurable happiness indicators continue to drop in our culture. In other words, the pursuit of happiness is resulting in even greater unhappiness. Comparing our current culture to just 50 years ago...divorce was lower, literacy was higher (though not as many went to college), petty crime was lower, serious crime was lower, illegitimacy was lower, drug use was lower, suicide was lower. Our current state is cause for concern.” [Abundant Living Ministries, (April 2004), p. 1]

"...Sin fascinates and then assassinates." [Adrian Rogers in Pulpit Helps, (March 2001), p. 1]

"A 1994 article in Omega Journal of Death and Dying, based on obituaries of homosexual men who died of non-AIDS causes, reported they died at age 42, while AIDS victims died at age 39. Lesbians had a median age of death of 44. Why? Both men and women exhibited high rates of violent death by accidents, suicide and murder and women had high rate of cancer." [Mike McManus, "Is homosexuality genetically determined?" Reading Eagle/Reading Times, (July 25, 1998), p. A10]

“For of all sad words of tongues or pen

The saddest are these: It might have been.”

[John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) in My Favorite Quotations, p. 128]

“Lean liberty is better than fat slavery.” [A Treasury of Essential Proverbs, p. 318]

A “GAY” TRAGEDY

To review of Barney Hoskyns’ Montgomery Clift: Beautiful Loser is to conclude that to use the word “gay” to describe homosexuality is a terrible abuse of language. The real question is, can those who struggle with homosexuality learn from Clift’s tragic story?

Clift was one of our great actors. “He was mesmerizing to watch in Red River and A Place in the Sun, in From Here to Eternity and The Young Lions” [p. 8]. Yet, when he died, aged 46, “he was an uninsurable, unemployable joke” [p. 8]. Why?

“Monty’s decline began, unsurprisingly, in his childhood” [p. 18]. His mother, Ethel, known throughout her life as “Sunny”, “had an extremely unhappy and disturbed childhood, one she spent her adult life trying to resolve in ways that had direct and catastrophic effects on her three children” [p. 18]. She was the illegitimate daughter of a girl from a rich Yankee family in Maryland who gave her up for adoption on the orders of her tyrannical grandmother, Eliza Anderson, and “was to spend her life attempting to heal the wounds of abandonment, becoming ever more obsessed with the need to be recognized and acknowledged by the aristocratic Andersons” [p. 18].

Charles Fogg, the head of the family, with whom she was placed, was an alcoholic, and Sunny became “an archetypal Adult Child of an Alcoholic” desperately striving for self-improvement. Unfortunately she drove her children in the same relentless way, seeking to win the approval of the family who gave her away [p. 18]. “In fact, she was still striving to gain legal acknowledgement from the Andersons in 1972, when she was eighty four” [p. 23]. Her oldest son, Brooks, said, “She can only accept and understand people... who will say and do exactly what she wants. She is a true Machiavelli—a manipulator—unscrupulous—and a very tragic person” [p. 21].

Monty’s father, Bill, was “a peripheral figure” in the Clift family, “a gentle, reserved Southerner” who did “little apart from slaving to earn the money Sunny required to put into action her...plan for” their three children: Brooks and the twins, Roberta and Monty [p. 19]. He “was a docile, henpecked workaholic who sat on the sidelines while Sunny forced the three children to read Shakespeare and conjugate Latin verbs” [p. 20]. “’Monty always thought of Bill as sort of weak and helpless compared to his mother,’ remembered actor friend Billy Le Massena” [p. 20]. “For long periods Bill was alone in America, pining for the children Sunny was dragging around Europe for the purposes of edification and enlightenment” [p. 19].

Edward Montgomery Clift was born on October 17, 1920, in Omaha, Nebraska. After his twin sister had been delivered, his mother was reported to have screamed, “No! I don’t want another child, not now, not ever...” [p. 19].

After growing up traveling around the world, Monty found he loved to act and got his first theatrical break in a summer stock company in 1933. He continued acting with ever increasing success on the stage, continuing to be dominated by his mother who “deluged him with presents, only to reproach him for anything less than unconditional filial devotion” [p. 32]. One observer noted, “Mrs. Clift was Monty’s girlfriend, his mother, his everything” [p. 33]

Monty was hypersensitive. One of his movie directors, Edward Dmytryk, noted, “If someone kicks a dog ten miles away, Monty feels it... Every cruelty, every indecency pains him. He seems to take the world on his shoulders” [p. 124].

At least one friend, actor Duane McKinney, “surmised that Monty must have had ‘some terrible scare when he was young...he acts about sex as if he were looking at an escalator and saw other people riding up and down but did not know how to get on’” [p. 26].

When Monty was eighteen, he and thirty-year-old Lehman Engel, “plump, cultured and gay” embarked on a trip to Mexico together “and began a full-blown affair” [p. 34]. Monty contracted amoebic dysentery that led to acute colitis, which required years of treatment. By the time Monty and Engel returned from Mexico, the “affair was already on the wane...” [p. 34].

Hoskyns notes that, as with many gay men, Monty’s “best friends until his death were mainly women, but he could not desire them physically…” [p. 34]. Thus, in 1940, Monty was close enough to actress Phyllis Thaxter to discuss marriage while con-ducting a discrete affair with a fellow actor behind her back [p. 36,39]. Elizabeth Taylor, one of his closest friends until his death, complained that “Monty would one moment be playing the ‘ardent male’ with her, fanning her desperate hopes that he would fall in love with her, only to appear the next with ‘some boy’ he had picked up” [p. 88]. Judy Balaban, daughter of Paramount president Barney Balaban, “allowed herself to be lulled into a fantasy of love by Monty: little did she knew that he was saving his sexual appetite for an aspiring young movie actor” [p. 96].

Monty’s neediness showed itself in other ways. He became friends with Fred and Jeanne Green in Los Angeles and often stayed with them. “Jeanne never forgot how Monty would wander disconsolately into their bedroom in the middle of the night saying: ‘It’s cold and lonely out there.’ Minutes later he would be tucked up between them, fast asleep” [p. 53].

In an early interview, Monty talked “reverentially” about actors Alfred Lunt and Dudley Digges, for “in such men he was seeking the strong, dependable father he never had” [p. 46]. Much later, when Lunt saw Monty in Paris for the first time in several years, Monty collapsed in an elevator in a drunken stupor. Lunt broke off all contact with his former admirer [p. 142].

By late 1948, “the first faint glimmers of Monty’s self-destructiveness became perceptible... Billy Le Massena noticed that his drinking was more pronounced, and his libido was soon out of control too. Rumors flew around that he had been spotted in gay bars and bathhouses, and his lawyer only just managed to hush up a scandal when he was arrested for trying to pick up a boy” [p. 71]. He became close friends with torch singer Libby Holman and together they ingested “prodigious quantities of drink and drugs...” [p. 73]

Monty’s downward spiral accelerated, so friends advised him to get therapy. There is therapy, and there is therapy. Not all counseling helps. Some therapists hurt. Monty’s therapist was “New York analyst William Silverberg, a fifty-three-year-old homosexual who subscribed to something known a ‘liberal behaviorism’. Unfortunately, Silverberg’s belief that analysis of childhood problems was unnecessary, and that the key to mental health and happiness lay in what he called ‘effective aggression’, was to prove disastrous for Monty. Without trying to halt what everyone else could see were the early stages of chronic alcoholism and addiction, the doctor more or less recommended that Monty do what he liked. Repeatedly Monty’s friends and family would plead with Silverberg to do something about his patient’s drinking; repeatedly the doctor would ask them not to meddle.... As Billy Le Massena observed, ‘It was clear to everyone that Silverberg was actually encouraging Monty into excesses rather than preventing them.’ Sexually, too, Monty behaved in a more compulsive way than he had ever done....and was prey to more than one blackmail threat. Monty continued to see Billy Silverberg, whom he called ‘my Mephisto’, for fourteen years” [p. 93]. The result? “...Chemical oblivion, sexual depravity and mental torture...characterized the last fifteen years of his life” [p. 16]. “Even when the newly sober Billy Le Massena managed to drag him along to a few Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, Monty still clung to Billy Silverberg’s diagnosis that he was not an alcoholic” [p. 178]. This despite the fact that “each night Monty would get paralytically drunk by himself and scarcely manage to find his way back to the hotel in the early hours of the morning: the next day he would wake up with the shakes” [p. 113]

“In addition to the alcohol and drug binges, he was becoming uncharacteristically selfish and thoughtless”, alienating even more people [p. 97]. Drugs and alcohol led Monty to begin “passing out at his own dinner table. Guests quickly learned to ignore his prostrate, unconscious body” [p. 119]. He “rented a house up in Ogunquit, a Maine equivalent of Long Island’s gay enclave, Fire Island, and gave himself up to bouts of sado-masochistic sex with boys he picked up on the beach” [p. 119].

Then, on May 12, 1956, returning from a dinner party given by Elizabeth Taylor and then husband Michael Wilding, Monty blacked out at the wheel of his car and almost killed himself in a horrific car crash [p. 124]. “His face, swollen to the size of a football, was unrecognizable, and two teeth were stuck in the back of his throat. There were terrible lacerations on the left side of his face, where a nerve had been severed. His nose, jaw and sinus cavity were broken, and he was badly concussed” [p. 125]. After surgery “the left side of his face was...virtually immobile, and his mouth was grotesquely twisted” [p. 125]. “People were shocked by the transformation, and some no longer even recognized him. Monty himself was so distraught about the loss of his looks that he took down all the mirrors in the new house he’d rented in Brentwood” [p. 138].

“To relieve some of the back pain caused by the accident Monty had taken to injecting codeine... Drugs increasingly dominated his life, and he was slowly turning into that type of addict known as a ‘garbagehead’, taking anything and everything he could lay his hands on” [p. 138]. There were only four good performances left: The Young Lions, The Misfits, Judgment at Nuremberg, and the underrated Wild River, but the rest were disappointing, to say the least. The director of Wild River, Elia Kazan, noted, “I don’t know what Clift’s appeal was—he certainly had a good deal—but it was not sexual. I believe it was that which an orphan has: he called for help” [p. 155]

The call was not answered. Homosexuals just used him. “His private life was more of a mess than ever, and was not helped by the greedy, petulant Frenchman whom he had secretly been keeping as a lover... Claude Perrin had come to New York to be a dress designer on Seventh Avenue, but after meeting Monty he had done little to further his ambitions, preferring to spend his sugar-daddy’s money and throw tantrums” [p. 158].

He spent “the remaining six and a half year of his life, leading what he called a ‘phenobarbital existence’ in his own personal twilight zone. ...He was in bad shape, losing his memory and his balance and suffering from alcoholic hepatitis’ [p. 160]. “...The drug intake began to include illegal substances as dangerous as heroin, and his sexual debauchery resulted in frequent beatings from male prostitutes’ [p. 179]. “In the summer of 1964 Monty rented a house in the primarily gay Pines community on Fire Island. Despite the strong cruising scene on the island, however, he ventured out infrequently, too zonked even to contemplate seeking sexual companions. By this time...he was injecting Demerol round the clock” [p. 181]. “Montgomery Clift’s last weeks were excruciatingly painful and desperately lonely’ [p. 186]. “On the weekends of the 9-10 and 16-17 July he went...to the Fire Island house he had rented the two previous summers. Fellow homosexuals in the Pines community called him a ‘sad faggot’, and he hardly strayed out of doors” [p. 188]. “...By the end his only friend was the Demerol he was pumping into his body with ever greater frequency” [p. 188]. On July 23, 1966, he was found dead in his bed, the victim of a heart attack.

--John J.

POINTS TO PONDER

“The best phrase with which to characterize the coming generation is ‘the inward generation.’ It is the generation which gives absolute priority to the personal and which tends in a remarkable way to withdraw into self. At least three of the characteristics, which the men and women of tomorrow share: inwardness, fatherlessness and convulsiveness.” [Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Wounded Healer, p. 27]

“When a father fails his son, he introduces additional battles into his son’s life, battles that his son should never have to fight. When a man never hears another man declare, by his life, that pressing on to maturity is possible no matter what life brings, that he has always been and always will be cared about, and that someone respects his heart and knows that he can make it—a man who never hears these affirmations will experience, in the center of his being, a deep hole that throbs with desperate pain. Something is missing that should be there—and would be there if his father had fathered him well.” [Larry Crabb with Don Hudson and Al Andrews, The Silence of Adam, p. 148]

“When sex becomes an addiction...tolerance is...operating. The brain has become used to a certain level of the chemistry of sex and will crave the same amount and eventually demand more to achieve the same effect. In many ways, sex addicts are drug addicts. They are addicted to their own brain chemistry. As one colleague said, ‘Being a sex addict is like being an alcoholic if you were yourself a bar.’ Sex addicts have only to go to their fantasy lives to produce the supply to their brains. This helps us realize that for a sex addict, there is no amount of sex that will always be enough. Their repetitive activities will always create a need for more sex and (in some cases) for new kinds. Their brains crave increased, and possibly the excitement of new, activities.” [Ralph H. Earle Jr., and Mark R. Laaser, The Pornography Trap, p. 63]

"One out of three women and one out of six men will experience some kind of overt sexual abuse before the age of eighteen.... We know that eighty-one percent of sexual addicts, both men and women, are adult sexual trauma survivors—untreated trauma survivors." [Marnie Ferree, "Women and Sexual Addiction," Steps, Vol. 12, No. 1), p. 6]

“Knowledge has bitter roots but sweet fruits.” [A Treasury of Essential Proverbs, p. 177]

MISTAKES NOT TO MAKE IN RECOVERY!

Too many people seeking freedom from homosexuality call it quits when they experience a failure. Assuming that losing a battle means losing the war, they abandon themselves to that from which they had determined to be free.

Watching other people recover from compulsive/addictive behavior can be very instructive. It can give us a good dose of reality, if we are willing to learn.

The February 6, 2004, issue of The Week magazine details the struggles of actor Charlie Sheen to find freedom from substance abuse. “For much of the 1990s, the actor snorted cocaine... Sometimes, he would go through three bottles of vodka a day” (p.10). He has been clean and sober for more than five years now. How did it happen?

Not all at once! Sheen had to be in rehab six times before he won the war! That means he tried and failed; tried and failed; tried and failed; tried and failed; tried and failed; and finally tried and succeeded! So don’t quit! “Pick yourself up, dust your-self off, and start back over again!”

“You don’t understand,” someone may be saying. “I’ve failed—not once, or twice, or five times—I’ve failed repeatedly. Surely its time for me to throw in the towel.”

It is not! Just as losing one battle does not mean the war is lost, so losing many battles doesn’t mean you will be finally defeated.

Read the story of the army led by George Washington during the Revolutionary War! There were far more defeats than victories and the situation seemed hopeless. They did not quit! They hung on and fought on and, in the end, after much suffering, won!

The only fatal mistake in recovery is to give up! You may experience many failures. Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! When sin gets a strong hold on your life (as it does when behavior is compulsive and addictive) it’s like a bulldog! It doesn’t let go easily. But God is able. Just do your part. Keep on keeping on!

Let each man and woman in recovery take as their motto the words of Winston Churchill, speaking for the British people during World War II: “We shall not falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down” [The Oxford Book of Modern Quotations, p. 53 #9]. “You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror; victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival” [Ibid., p. 54 #8].

POINTS TO PONDER

"How big is God? Bigger than all your problems." [Pulpit Helps, (July 2000), p. 16]

DANGEROUS AS PORN!

One of the greatest passages in all of Scripture, a verse which God used in the conversion of Augustine of Hippo, is Romans 13:14: “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.”

The word translated “lusts” “expresses any strong desire, the context or a qualifying adjective determining its nature, whether good or evil” [D. H. Tongue, “Lust,” The New Bible Dictionary, p. 717]. It does not have any necessary sexual connotation. So what is Paul saying to us and how does it apply to our struggle?

The words “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” mean “Nothing less than the complete negation of vice and the perfection of purity and virtue exemplified in Christ make up the habitude required of a believer” [John Murray, “The Epistle to the Romans,” II, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, p. 170]

He continues, “The negative is as exclusive as the positive is inclusive. We are not to make any provision for the fulfillment of the lusts of the flesh” (Idem.). “Foreman puts it somewhat colloquially: ‘Put into very simple English, Paul is saying: Do not plan for sin; give it no welcome; offer it no opportunity. Kick the sin off your doorstep and you won’t have it in the house.” [Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans, p. 474] “Whatever...tends to excite our corrupt propensities ought to be avoided.” [Robert Haldane, “Romans,” The Geneva Series of Commentaries, p. 591] “Our instruction is not only not to gratify its desires, but not to think about how to do so, not to make any ‘provision’ for them (RSV), rather to be ruthless in repudiating them and putting them to death” [John R. W. Stott, “Romans God’s Good News for the World,” The Bible Speaks Today, 353].

Murray wrote on Romans 8:5-8, “’The flesh’ is human nature as corrupted, directed, and controlled by sin.... To ‘mind the things of the flesh’ (vs. 5) is to have the things of the flesh as the absorbing objects of thought, interest, affection, and purpose. And ‘the mind of the flesh’ (vs. 6) is the dispositional complex, including not simply the activities of reason, but also those of feeling and will, patterned after and controlled by the flesh. In like manner to mind ‘the things of the Spirit’ (vs. 5) is to have the things of the Holy Spirit as the absorbing objects of thought, interest, affection, and purpose, and ‘the mind of the Spirit’ is the dispositional complex, including the exercises of reason, feeling, and will, patterned after and controlled by the Holy Spirit’ [John Murray, “The Epistle to the Romans,” I, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, p. 284-285]

Romans 8:13, shows the outcome of minding either the things of the flesh or the things of the Spirit. “If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify (“put to death” [NIV]) the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” Murray explains, “’If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die.’ Here is an inevitable and invariable sequence, a sequence which God himself does not and cannot violate. To make life the issue of life after the flesh would be an inherent contradiction. God saves from the flesh but not in it.... The only way of avoiding the issue of death is to be delivered and desist from the life of the flesh. ‘But if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live’” [John Murray, “The Epistle to the Romans,” I, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, p. 293].

Let me illustrate from my own life. Some years ago, early in my recovery, I was reading the life of Rock Hudson to gather material for the newsletter. The book was not explicitly sexual, but I was very lonely at the time, and, as I read a chapter describing one of his many affairs, this time with a man named Jack Coates, I began to feel a strong yearning—not for sex, but for the closeness and fun Hudson was having with this young man. It seemed a sorry contrast to my present pain.

It didn’t take me long to realize something that would not please Christ was going on here! Like Israel of old, I was complaining to myself, despising the manna God provided and longing for the fish, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic of Egypt (Numbers 11:4-34).

What was I to do? I stopped complaining, put the book away, and went to work on my recovery. I worked to build the friendships I so desperately needed, and God, in His grace, met my needs himself and through His people.

I re-read the material in Hudson’s biography about two years later and there was no problem. We do make progress if we keep at it and don’t let the Devil derail us!

Remember, as Dr. Grant Martin has pointed out, not only can sex be an addiction; people can also be addicted to romance (the excitement) or to relationships (“You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You”) [When Good Things Become Addictions, p. 29-87]. A fantasy need not be explicitly sexual to be dangerous. I have a friend who had a problem with alcohol who never listens to jazz because, for her, it is a magnet drawing her back in her mind to the bars and death!

We must deal mercilessly with anything and everything that draws us back to the old life. “While you were without Christ, you had no higher nor other business to do but to attend and serve the flesh; but once having put Him on, you are other men, and other manners do become you. There is a transcendent sweetness in Christ that puts the flesh out of credit.... A soul clothed with Christ, stooping to any sinful delight, or an ardent pursuit of anything earthly, though lawful, doth wonderfully indignify itself. Oh! raise up your spirits, you that pretend to anything in Christ; delight in Him and let His love satisfy you at all times. What need you go a-begging elsewhere?” [Robert Haldane, “Romans,” The Geneva Series of Commentaries, p. 592-593]

POINTS TO PONDER

"Half our troubles come in wanting our way; the other half comes in getting it." [Pulpit Helps, (October 2001), p. 9]

"The Bible tells us that the truth will set us free, but it doesn't promise that it will be pleasant or easy." [Dale Hanson Bourke, Turn Toward the Wind: Embracing Change in Your Life, p. 13]

"When you're confused, it's usually because you think you should do one thing and you want to do another. Dialogue with yourself out loud or on paper, or present both sides to a friend." [Cherry Hartman, Be-Good-To-Yourself Therapy, p. 56]

KIND WORDS; GOOD HELP!

In December of 2004 we received the following letter. We got permission to quote it and we hope it will bless you as it blessed us.

“Here’s our final gift of the year. We pray the ministry will grow and prosper in the New Year. All of us whose lives have been bettered by HA have a responsibility to give back so that another generation of strugglers and their families can be strengthened.

“’Systematic benevolence’ is an old term, but still has life-changing potential (for both the giver and the recipient organizations). Over and over we’ve seen God fulfill His promise to bless those who return a tenth of their income to Him. For those whose primary source of spiritual nurture is HA, I’d challenge them to send that tithe to the ministry and watch how God stretches the remaining 90%. Those of us involved in a church have a responsibility to render financial support there. But we can still choose a specific percentage of income to commit to HAFS each pay period. We’ve made a habit of that for several years and plan to continue. In fact, last summer we felt impressed to send an extra $100.00 above our commitment and just a week or so later were blessed with a completely unexpected gift of $1,500.00! We couldn’t afford not to support HAFS! In fact, the organization has a place in our will.

I don’t share this to brag but to show ideas of how others can be blessed by blessing HAFS. You’re in our prayers for the New Year.”

--K.P.

POINTS TO PONDER

"Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were a present far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all."

--Isaac Watts

“Jesus talked about money. One-sixth of the Gospels, and one-third of the parables address the subject of stewardship. Jesus was no fund-raiser. He dealt with money matters, however, because money matters. It’s a surprise to many people, Christians included, that the Bible has so much to say about the subject.” [Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart, p. 231]

“To meet Jesus is to look yourself in the pocketbook, which is the most unmistakable way of looking yourself in the heart.” [J. Robert Ross quoted in Inspiring Quotations: Contemporary & Classical, p. 190]

“When it comes to giving, some people stop at nothing.” [Powerful Thinking for Powerful Living, p. 129]

“Hate is not the opposite of love—apathy is.” [Rollo May in Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart, p. 35]

"No one is better prepared for Judgment Day than the person who longs to be without sin." [Martin Luther's Little Instruction Book, p. 103]

"In the welter of conflicting studies, researchers tend to agree on at least one point: homosexuals report more problems with their parents—unloving attitudes by at least one parent and parental conflict--than comparable groups of heterosexuals. This finding has been consistent among researchers who find homosexuals sick and those who find them well. Psychologists Seymour Fisher and Roger P. Greenberg, in their book The Scientific Credibility of Freud's Theories and Therapy, debunk much of Freud, but conclude that he was right about the fathers of male homosexuals. 'In study after study,' they write, 'this father emerges as unfriendly, threatening or difficult to associate with.'" [John Leo, "Homosexuality: Tolerance vs. Approval," Time, (January 8, 1979), p. 35]

"The search to find something or someone here on earth to perfectly fill the father void in your life is a hopeless pursuit. No one is going to...give you the attention and affection a four year old deserves and craves. You will add sorrow upon sorrow chasing down leads to some imaginary father-hero who will always be there for you. Don't waste your life looking for something you'll never be able to have, not because God doesn't want you to have it but because we live in a fallen world. Accept the imperfect fathering you received and invest your energy and time into understanding the perfect fathering you receive from your father in heaven

"Direct your energy toward building healthy support relationships with friends and family members. Some well-meaning Christians will tell you just to forgive and forget past wrongs and move on in life. They imply that spiritual exercises such as reading the Bible or praying will solve your emotional problems, as if reading about being loved is the same as feeling loved. But prayer and Bible reading alone are not enough to bring about lasting change in your life—God never said that they would be enough. We were created to need one another. God often shows His love for you through others, and He can provide the father-type love you need through others He chooses to bring into your life....

"Even with God's help and supportive relationships..., the chief responsibility for filling the father void in your life lies with you. Resist the urge to wait for your father, your friends, your spouse, or God to set your life straight. Take the initiative to change your thinking and lifestyle in ways that lead to a more fulfilling life. Part of maturity is taking responsibility for yourself and your emotional, spiritual, and physical needs." [Randy Carlson, Father Memories, p. 94-95]

"We live in an age that reconciles good and evil.... This is what makes the plight of homosexuals so treacherous. They live in a time when even the church has received into itself a false light, a false compassion that is as cruel as death. And rather than being empowered by a holy God to call the sinner to repentance and then heal the needy soul, the church at large babbles on in the language of a lost society." [Leanne Payne, "Foreword," to Andy Comiskey, Pursuing Sexual Wholeness: How Jesus Heals the Homosexual, p. 11-12]

"Sex is the fastest growing addiction in this country." [Marnie Ferree, "Women and Sexual Addiction," Steps, Vol. 12, No. 1), p. 4]

"For some, sex promises a moment of unconsciousness that brings respite from anxiety, pain, loneliness, boredom. Fleeting, perhaps, but effective in banishing these unwanted feelings, in allowing some surcease from the discomfort they inflict. The rise of sexual excitement pushes aside anxiety and boredom; the body contact, the sense of connection with another, assuages the pain and loneliness." [Lillian B. Rubin, Ph.D., Erotic Wars: What Happened to the Sexual Revolution? p. 99]

"I can't say I'm comforted reading a government pamphlet called 'Condoms and Sexually Transmitted Diseases Especially AIDS.' 'Condoms are not 100 percent safe,' it says, 'but if used properly will reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS.' Reduce the risk of a disease that is 100 percent fatal? That's all that's available between us and death? How much do condoms reduce the risk? They don't say. So much for Safe Sex." [Robert C. Noble, M.D., "There is No Safe Sex," Newsweek, (April 1, 1991), p. 9]

William Bennett, former Secretary of Education, on ABC's "This Week," November 9, 1997, stated, "...Smoking takes seven years off your life. If you're a homosexual male in this country, it takes 30 years off your life...66 is life expectancy for smokers, 43 for a male homosexual. This is tough news. It's not pleasant to hear. But it's very important, and it's part of telling the truth... The last numbers I looked at from the C.D.C. and The New England Journal of Medicine was that HIV was 430 times more likely to occur in a homosexual male, [age] 20 to 30, than a heterosexual male... Death is what we are talking about." [NARTH Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. 3, (December 1997), p. 34]

In a survey or 1049 men and women aged 18 to 65 conducted by Mark Clements Research, "3% of male respondents identify themselves as homosexual. 'This is much lower than the 10% estimate that has been used in the past,' says Beverly Whipple of Rutgers. 'But it confirms recent research showing that 1% to 3% of the male population is gay.' Among the women surveyed, 1% say they are homosexual; 3% of the men and 0.4% of the women say they are bisexual." [Mark Clements, "Sex In America Today," Parade, (August 7, 1994), p. 4,5]

“A British Medical Association survey listed fourteen case histories of homosexually oriented people who were totally released after Christian conversion, and concluded: ‘Homosexuals can be so changed through conversion that their sexual desire loses its mastery.’” [Nicky Gumbel, What is the Christian Attitude toward Homosexuality? p. 19 citing Homosexuality and Prostitution, (BMA, 1955), p. 92]

A number of years ago, Mario Bergner was into homosexuality with both feet! Today, having worked on recovery, he writes, “On April 17th, Nancy delivered our fifth reward from the Lord (Psalm 127:3), our fourth son, Elijah Lawrence Bergner. We named him after Elijah the Prophet, who stood against the Baals, and Brother Lawrence, the author of the classic, The Practice of the Presence of God. When we married nine years ago, we never thought the Lord would give us five children. While having a lot of children is a lot of work, it is also big fun.” [Redeemed Lives News, (Summer 2005), p. 1]

“Nothing can be more cruel than the leniency which abandons others to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin.” [Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, p. 105]

"Where did you get the right to say 'no' to God in anything?" [Old Union Reminder in Pulpit Helps, (February 2001), p. 17]

Step 1

We admitted that we were powerless

over our homosexuality

and that our emotional lives

were unmanageable.


POWERLESS!

The first step to change is admitting that we have no power. I believed that I could not change my desire for and attraction to the same sex any more than a heterosexual person could change their reaction to looking at a person who attracts them. I believed that the desire to change might be there, but the ability was not. When I began to admit that “I” did not have the power, two things began to happen.

First, I had to begin to accept the fact that “I am not in control”. Our whole life is an effort to maintain control of everything around us. Even the fact that we think we are homosexual is a subconscious effort on our part to control. We try to control the pain we feel as the things of life become clear to our consciousness.

We form our sexual identity on the model of those around us, and, if the model is improper, we subconsciously try to control what we become. If mother is dominant, we pattern in that direction. If the male role model is lacking or extremely weak, we pattern in the wrong direction. If traumatic events, such as molestation, become part of the our experience, then the mind makes the adjustments and we block the pain.

In making these adjustments, our mind may not, and usually does not, perceive the truth of the outside situation. Thus we may make our gender identification on the basis of misinformation. Our mind may simply believe a lie and misinterpret the facts.

There are many theories about the cause of homosexuality. Each is based on studies of patterns that show up in large numbers of people who manifest these feelings and/or behavior, but they all seem to relate to a basic fact. The mind of anyone with these desires seems to be set very early. The patterns may not manifest themselves until later in life, but they are there. The course is set within the first few years of life.

There are those who, after choosing a certain lifestyle, seem to develop these feelings. These feelings become “fixed” with enough reinforcement, but the underlying factors are still evident. Our mind has developed a certain sexual reaction to outside stimulus. We feel perfectly normal. We have no control over these reactions.

Second, our emotional lives become totally unmanageable. When we discover that we are “abnormal”, the process of living a double life begins. Anger, hatred against God or any authority figure, selfishness, and a total breakdown of our ability to cope with depression cause us to block the healthy emotions that would normally be part of our being. As these emotions break down, the loss of control becomes obsession. We are not able to keep ourselves from acting out. The more we try to control, the more we lose control. We seem to become everything we hate.

It is at this point, the point of realization that we are powerless, that we can begin to experience the process of change. This point of “hitting bottom” is the place we must reach before our mind will relinquish the control that keeps us locked in our sexual prison. When we just “give up” we can begin to reach out for the help we need to reverse the affects of the lies we have believed. --Doug M.

PRAISE GOD! THERE IS A WAY OUT!

I don't remember building walls in my life, but they were there by the time I started school. I remember one boy kicking my lunch box. I thought, "These boys are bad. The only safe children for me to play with are girls." I was a likeable person and had many acquaintances, both male and female, but had no close male friend, though I longed to have one.

I had five brothers and two sisters. My relationship with my brothers was always stressful but I was good friends with my older sister. I was also very close to my mother. When I was young I remember liking my father and being upset when my brothers said anything bad about him. As I grew older, however, and saw some serious flaws in his character, I said more bad things about him than my brothers did. I tried to hurt him, thinking I could change him and cause him to see we needed him so much. As a result, he and I had frequent arguments.

Homosexual feelings began when I went through puberty. I couldn't stop them, and, since I never felt like one of the guys, I accepted the label of gay, and hated it. I was angry with God because I thought He made me this way and I begged Him to heal me. There was so much pain.

I was very lonely during my teen years. I wanted a wife and family but didn't know if I could get married. I met a nice girl who was all the things I wanted in a wife. We married but I wasn't able to love her emotionally the way she needed to be loved and ten years into our marriage she had an affair. I was deeply hurt but didn't blame her. For the first time, I told her about my homosexual struggles. We cried and determined to put our marriage back together.

I was deeply ashamed of my struggle and was afraid to see if there were any Christian books that might help me so I asked my wife to go into the local Christian bookstore for me. She found a book which mentioned HA, I called the office, got to know John J., got the workbook Lord, Set Me Free, and have worked it through twice!

I've been working on recovery for four years now. God has healed so many areas of my life and continues to work with me. I am no longer the angry person I used to be. My marriage is far better than it ever was. God is helping me become a better father. He is helping me overcome my insecurities and develop good male friendships, including relationships with my brothers. I forgave my father for not being there when I needed him, though there are things I still grieve over. I am learning to trust my heavenly Father more and more each day and am serving Him now because I love Him, having come to know Him as He is. I no longer accept the lie that I am gay. I no longer feel that I am. I am heterosexual. I have started an HA chapter where I live and I am living by faith. What a change!

It hasn't been easy. Only God knows how hard it has been at times. But it is worth it all now, and will be so for all eternity, thanks to Christ's death for me on the cross.

--Joseph C.,

WHO’S SUPPOSED TO BE DOING THE WORK?

At a recent meeting of our HA chapter, we were discussing the fruit of the Spirit. One of our members lamented his seeming lack of growth in these areas. Another member noted that, to see such growth, we must put forth effort in terms of Bible study, prayer, and the active cultivation of the fruit of the Spirit that it may grow and mature. The man who had complained about lack of growth said he didn’t understand why there had to be effort for him to grow in these areas when you don’t see trees working to grow their fruit. I told him that although we can’t see the effort with our eyes, there is an enormous amount of work and energy that must go into growing fruit on a tree.

For instance, water must be transported from the roots to the leaves and flowers. Chlorophyll in the leaves uses sunlight to split water molecules to synthesize sugars. These must then be transported to different parts of the tree for growth or storage in the fruit. The complexity of chemical reactions and moving of resources within a tree to grow a single apple is staggering. All this effort requires certain resources. Sunlight, carbon dioxide, water and nutrients are all essential to this process.

In the same way, if we as Christians are to see growth and maturing in our spiritual lives, there must first be the grace of God, but there must also be effort. We must pray and study Scripture. We must fellowship with other believers and listen to their counsel. If we are lacking love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control (Galatians 5:22,23), we must take steps to actively cultivate it.

At the same time, there are certain resources without which we cannot grow. In John 4, we read about Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman. He offers her living water that quenches all thirst. This is redemption through Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

When we have been born of the Spirit, walk by the Spirit, and meditate day and night with a trusting, obedient heart on the Word of God, we can claim the promise of Psalm 1:3: “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

So, as I pointed out to my friend, growing the fruit of the Spirit requires both reliance on the strength and power of the Holy Spirit and effort on our part. The question is, will we trust and obey, as the old hymn says, or grumble at having to obey and miss out?

--Jim M.

POINTS TO PONDER

"Dear Lord,

"So far today, God, I've done all right. I haven't gossiped, I haven't lost my temper, I haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or over-indulgent. I'm really glad about that.

"But in a few minutes, God I'm going to get out of bed, and from then on I'm probably going to need a lot more help."

--Contributed by Gary Y.

WHAT’S A SUPPORT GROUP LIKE?

Emery Nester gives a good picture of what a support group is and does when he writes, “A man was walking in a wilderness. He became lost and was unable to find his way out. Another man met him. ‘Sir, I am lost, can you show me the way out of this wilderness?’ ‘No,’ said the stranger, ‘I cannot show you the way out of the wilderness, but maybe if I walk with you, we can find it together.’”

Rabbi Mervin Tomski of Temple Emanuel in Burbank, California, explains in more detail. “Once a Jewish Chassidic teacher told this parable: A man had been wandering about in a forest for several days, unable to find the way out. Finally, he saw a man approaching him in the distance. His heart was filled with joy. Now I shall surely find my way out of this forest, he thought to himself. When they neared each other, he asked the man ‘Brother, will you please tell me the way out of this forest? I have been wandering about in here for several days and I am unable to find my way out.’

“Said the other to him, ‘Brother, I do not know the way out either, for I too have been wandering about in here for many days. But this I can tell you. Do not go the way I have gone, for I know that it is not the way. Now come, let us search for the way out together.’” [Robert Strand, Love 101, p. 37]

Many of us have found these ideas wonderfully freeing. They showed us that we do not have to possess all the answers (only God fits that description) to help one another find freedom in Christ. We can warn each other away from the snares that we have found along the way, share with each other the things that have helped us, and support one another through the inevitably difficult times that come in the experience of all who seek to break free from unwelcome compulsions.

While this is part of the picture, it is by no means the whole story. A Christian support group also has absolute truth on which to rely in God’s Word, the Bible, and has the power of the Spirit of God to enable the believer to walk according to that truth. Thus a Christian support group is much more like what the great evangelist George Whitefield urged his converts to be part of. “My brethren, let us plainly and freely tell one another what God has done for our souls. To the end, you would do well, as others have done, to form yourselves into little companies of four or five each, and meet once a week to tell each other what is in your hearts; that you may then also pray for and comfort each other as need shall require. None, but those who have experienced it can tell the unspeakable advantages of such a union and communion of souls. None, I think, that truly loves his own soul and his brethren as himself, will be shy of opening his heart, in order to have their advice, reproof, admonition and prayers, as occasions require. A sincere person will esteem it one of the greatest blessings.” [Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, p. 192-193]

Are you enjoying that blessing, or are you still trying to go it alone? In recovery, as in life, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). “Two are better than one.... For it they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone.... And a threefold cord is not easily broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9,10,12). If you have a chapter nearby, start attending every week today. If there is no chapter you can attend, begin doing the work you need to do to start one. Why delay any longer? --John J.

POINTS TO PONDER!

"In moral and spiritual terms we are all sick and damaged, diseased and deformed, scarred and sore, lame and lopsided, to a far, far greater extent that we realize." [J. I. Packer quoted in EPA Liaison, (October 1994), quoted in Current Thoughts & Trends, (January 1995), p. 7]

“Man’s understanding is so darkened that he can see nothing of God in God, nothing of holiness in holiness, nothing of good in good, nothing of evil in evil, nor anything of sinfulness in sin. Nay, it is so darkened that he fancies himself to see good in evil, and evil in good, happiness in sin, and misery in holiness.” [Bishop Beveridge, on the Articles in J. C. Ryle, Old Paths, p. 129]

“...Every person...has an instinctive awareness that creation implies a Creator God. We may blind ourselves to this fact, but we are still fully responsible when we choose to ignore this Creator God in favor of our own desires. Plainly put, anything we place above God and his laws is idolatry—sin. And sin required judgment on his part.” [John White, God’s Pursuing Love, p. 16]

"It is when we have come to the end of our own resources, or rather, come to see that we never had any at all, that we are willing to accept the fact that we can do nothing and to let God do everything for us." [Francis Ridley Havergal, Royal Bounty, p. 61]

"Cease from sensuality, said Cicero, for if once you give your minds up to sensuality, you will never be able to think of anything else." [Alexander Whyte, Bunyan Characters I, p. 95]

“Masturbation can be compared to bingeing on junk food. It satisfies the physical appetite for the moment but often leaves you feeling sick and empty. That is because God created sex to be more than a release of tension. He wants it to promote love, commitment and permanence in a marriage relationship. Masturbation lacks any of these qualities.” [Bob Davies and Lori Rentzel, Coming Out of Homosexuality, p. 78[

"You tell me that you cannot pray, but Jesus healed one possessed of a dumb devil. You feel hardened and insensible, but he cast out a deaf devil. You tell me you cannot believe. Neither could the man with the withered arm stretch it out, but he did do it when Jesus bade him. You tell me you are dead in sin, but Jesus made even the dead live." [Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit XV (1869), p. 502]

"As free as getting high or having sexual encounters with strangers may sometimes make you feel, it actually represents a kind of bondage. Far from letting loose, you're stuck trying to engineer your emotions, your life, and your circumstances so that....you can predict the outcome. ...You're terrified of what it might be like if you really were to let go and accept life as it came, with no help from...compulsive behaviors. It's not that getting high through alcohol, other drugs, or sex doesn't give you a certain release. The point...is that the repetitive quest for that release—for a particular, familiar, perfect release that you're desperate to recapture again and again—can keep you in the tightest bondage....a fear that you would be completely lost if you didn't do exactly what you've always done." [Arnold Washton and Nannette Stone-Washton, Step Zero: Getting To Recovery, p. 54-55]

"...You take the first step; God will take the second step; and by the time you get to the third step, you will know that it was God who took the first step." [Steve Brown, Born Free, p. 142]

"Our personal problems are rooted in disconnection, from God because of our arrogance and from others because of our fear and selfishness. The cure is connection." [Larry J. Crabb, Jr. and Dan B. Allender, Hope When You're Hurting, p. 184-185]

“Jesus is drawing a big crowd.... Then he gets to the Sermon on the Mount and he turns the crowd away... He doesn’t want us to get confused and think that the kingdom is about having a big crowd. He turns the crowd away by telling them what the kingdom is about. ...’Blessed are the broken. They shall have the kingdom.’ The kingdom comes to broken people. Now, there’s some sarcasm here in the fact that everybody is a broken person. But the kingdom comes to those who are broken and know they are broken.” [Jeff VanVondren, “Grace For Dummies,” Steps, Vol. 15, No. 3, p. 4]

“The most frequently seen cause of sadness in the past leading to homosexual attractions in males was the result of childhood and adolescent rejection by peers because of very limited athletic abilities.... The craving for acceptance and love from peers results in strong emotional attractions to those of the same sex which leads many youngsters to think they may be homosexuals.” [Richard P. Fitzgibbons, “The Origins and Healing of Homosexual Attractions and Behaviors,” The Truth About Homosexuality, p. 309]

“...If we would not go back, we must not look back. The devil will not say at first, Go back to Sodom, though that is it which he intendeth; but rather, Look back, hoping the person which yields to look back will go back in the end. Sin...shameth to beg too much at first; it asketh but a little, and that little will draw on more; and so corruption insensibly steals upon us, and our hearts are drawn off from God. Therefore watch against the first declinings; these are the cause of all the rest. Evil is best stopped at first; the first breakings off from God, the remitting our zeal and watchfulness. He that keeps not a house in constant repair will be in danger of having it fall down upon him. So, if we grow remiss and careless, and keep not a constant watch, temptations will increase upon us.” [The Complete Works of Thomas Manton XV, p. 378]

“When I learned of the monthly gay banquet attended by hundreds of gay men and women in my home city, my spirit was crushed and my heart bowed low in prayer. I felt no anger. Only a yearning possessed me, a yearning that cried to God over the misery of people who call themselves gay.” [John White, Eros Defiled, p. 126]

“It grows increasingly clear that men and women who seek help to leave the gay life find it more difficult than they might have imagined. Rather than support and encouragement, they face confusion from one side and anger from the other.” [Bob Van Domelen, “Joined and Held Together,” Wellspring, (February-March 2006), p. 1]

“Blaming your faults on your nature will not change the nature of your faults.” [Living Reality, (Volume 2. No. 9), p. 2]

“The wise man adjusts himself to the Bible, but the fool adjusts the Bible to himself.” [Our Daily Bread, (September 20, 1978)]

Step 2

We came to believe the love of God

who forgave us and accepted us

in spite of all that we are

and have done.

A FATHER’S LOVE


There’s a country song that begins, “Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love.” A father’s love is meant to affirm us as individuals, to help call us forth as whole beings. But what is life like for a young boy when there is no such man in his life?

I was just such a boy. My father had his good points. He was a hard-working man. He put food on the table and a roof over the heads of his wife and fifteen children. But he never took the time to become involved in his children’s lives.

What was life like for a boy like me? I remember crying myself to sleep many nights starting at the tender age of five, wondering why my father didn’t love me. By the age of six, I vowed that I would never be like my father. Why would a young boy make such a decision? This man I called father never in his life gave a word of encouragement or affirmation, never gave a hug, a kiss, even a loving touch. Only once in my entire life did my father ever touch me with love. I was forty-two years old. He had a bad fall at home and my sister called to tell me he was in the hospital and they did not expect him to live. I came into the room and told him I would not stay long because he was not feeling well but that I would like to pray for him. He thought he was dying and he reached out and took my hands. I could not have been more shocked! When I left, I wept, because all during my childhood he was only verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive!

Where does a young boy go to find the love his father doesn’t give him? What does he do? For years I turned inward, trying to meet my need, but finding only pain, confusion, despair, loneliness, and anger. I only knew I wanted a man who would love me and care for me, and obviously my father was not that man.

So when I was nine-years-old and a young man took an interest in me, I was thrilled. I thought, “Here is a man who cares for me”. Sadly, he molested me, but I was so hungry for love I didn’t know the difference. I was so hungry for attention and affection that I didn’t care about the sexual part, because I thought he was someone who cared. Only years later, when I was sharing this with a friend who told me, “Dennis, you were molested,” did I realize what had happened.

As I grew older, I felt different from other men and struggled to overcome my attraction to men. At first I denied I had a problem and tried to live a normal life. When I was eighteen, I volunteered for the draft to get away from a bad home life and a very angry man—my father! While I was in the service, I first heard that God loved me. WOW!! So in 1967 I became a believer, and, in that same year, I met my future wife.

How does a man with my background and struggle experience God? At first I had great hope that God would come to my rescue. I thought, “Now that I am a believer He will surely take away my struggle with homosexuality.” I thought the lady who became my wife would be the means He used to deliver me, so we married in May of 1971. Our first son was born in June of 1972, our second son in March of 1976, and our third son in June of 1977. To all outward appearances, all was well, but my struggle with homosexuality became more and more acute. I became very angry with God, asking, “Why would He let this struggle continue?” I really saw Him as much like my earthly father. I could trust Him for salvation (after all my earthly father provided for me physically) but would not trust Him with my heart and its needs. I thought I had to take care of those needs in my own way. And I tried to do that by acting out sexually with other men. That only left me feeling more empty, guilty, ashamed, and hopeless.

How strange as I look back over my life that I should feel that the very One who cared for me was indifferent to my struggle with homosexuality. I did seek help—four times in thirty years I went to four different pastors and asked them to help me—all to no avail because they didn’t know how to help.

In 1994 I went to another pastor and told him the story of my life. I told him I was going to take my own life if I didn’t get help. He sent me to an Exodus ministry called Harvest in the Philadelphia area which gave me good help. Two years ago a facilitator of one of Harvest’s small groups recommended I try HA.

Here I found gentle encouragement to reach out to God and to others in healthy ways and God has been doing a wonderful work in my heart. The last year has been a little bit of heaven on earth. I have drawn nearer to God, who is no longer strange to me but is wonderfully putting the pieces of my broken heart together. I try to walk two-and-a-half miles every night, and have been able to be real with God, sharing all the hurts in my heart, and God has on more than one occasion become much more than real to me. This has become a very precious time to me. I have found new hope that there is yet a future of me in His Kingdom and that He has a plan for my life. He is bringing about the healing which I so long sought and He is giving me “joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

--Dennis H.

POINTS TO PONDER

“Man without God is a beast, and never more beastly than when he is most intelligent about his beastliness.” [Whittaker Chambers quoted in World, (November 27, 2004), p. 32]

“If you are obedient because you want God to notice and love you, you not only are very frustrated, but you also are very foolish.” [Steve Brown, If Jesus Has Come, p. 147]

“After Calvary, God has the right to be trusted; to be believed that He means what He says; and that His love is dependable.” [A. J. Gossip, In the Secret Place of the Most High quoted in Pulpit Helps, (May 2003), p. 25]

"People have many times come to us saying 'Don't talk to me about a loving God. Why doesn't he stop all the wars, or at least prevent some of the bestial things men do to men, sometimes in the very name of religion... We ask, 'What was your father like?' Invariably we uncover a history similar to what the counselee has imputed to God—cruelty, insensitivity, desertion, criticism, etc. No matter what the mind may learn in Sunday school of a gentle and loving God...the heart has been scarred and shaped by reactions to the earthly father, and projects that onto God. Not until such people forgive their natural fathers can they in fact see God and gentle and kind and lovingly present for them." [John and Paula Sandford in Gordon Dalbey, Sons of the Father, p. 35]

AMAZING, HEALING LOVE!

All we really want as children is acceptance. I couldn’t tell anyone the things I had done until I knew I had found someone who could relate. My counselor knew I felt I was to blame for the way the “man” kept coming back. He also knew that, at first, the things that were done to me felt good. He knew I felt guilty for enjoying them. He knew of the hatred that came after the pain of later experiences. He knew I hated God for allowing them to happen. He knew these things because he could relate from his own experience. I also began to see that Jesus could relate (the Bible says He was in all points tempted as we are). He could accept me because He felt my every pain and tear. He could give the hugs and touches I needed.

It was only after I began to realize that God was leading me, and ‘accepting me as I was’, that I could begin to feel any love for Him. He knew I had given much more pain to others through acting out my homosexual feelings, and He forgave me. As I began to experience the forgiveness that He offered me, I felt like I could start to trust Him. The trust that leads to love comes after we see the demonstrations of forgiveness and acceptance. It is the divine plan. “We love Him because He first loved us.” “He that is forgiven much loves much.” It does not matter what we have done in the past once we find, in our relationship with God, the fatherly love and acceptance that every man seeks. We begin to let God wrap His love around us. Once we get past the lie that God hates us, we begin to grow past the arrested development that keeps us slaves to our false identity as a “homosexual.”

Doug M.

POINTS TO PONDER

"There will come times when it will take every ounce of energy you have to believe that God cares for you." [Given O. Blakely in Pulpit Helps, (June 2000), p. 16]

"One inmate recently wrote: 'How I missed having a father when I grew up. My dad was there, but he was absent from me. My Heavenly Father was there, but I was absent from Him." [Into the Light, (July 1999), p. 2]

"God....does not and cannot forgive sin with an unholy ease. Yet he does and can forgive in righteous love." [H. D. McDonald, Forgiveness and Atonement, p. 21]

"Guilt can only be removed by punishment. Either the sinner himself must bear it, or a substitute must be provided." [Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology II, p. 532]

"It costs God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things; but to convert rebellious wills cost Him crucifixion." [C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 179]

"The more our lives...are rooted in fear and shame, the greater our risk for crisis. And the more our lives are rooted in God's unfailing love and grace, the greater the likelihood that our problems and failures will be brought into the light for healing before they become a crisis." [Dale O. Wolery and Dale S. Ryan, "Hope in Times of Crisis," Steps, (Winter 1999), p. 3-4]

LET ME IN THEE ABIDE

O Lord, let me in Thee abide.

When the devil stands near

and I shiver with fear.

When I want to run and hide,

I still know you're by my side,

safe in Thee Lord, let me abide.

I long for peace in my soul

Come my Savior, make we whole.

As the potter shapes the clay,

make me stronger every day,

O lord, let me in Thee abide.

My heart is in despair

when I feel you do not care.

But I know you hold me close,

even then.

Though my tears make me blind,

and there's answers I can't find,

O Lord, let me in Thee abide.

My grief seems to be unending

and the prayers that I am sending

seem to fall away

and vanish like the dew.

Still you know my greatest loss,

give me victory by Thy cross,

O Lord, let me abide in Thee.

--Bonnie D.

GOD'S GREAT LOVE!

My child, I love you! I shed My blood for you to make you clean. You are new. Believe it is true!!! You are lovely in My eyes. Do not criticize yourself or get down for not being perfect in your own eyes. This leads only to frustration. I want you to trust Me, one step, one day at a time. Dwell in My power and love. Be free! Don't let others run you. Allow Me to guide you. Be aware of My presence in everything. I give you patience, love, joy, peace. Look to me. I am your Shepherd. Follow Me! Listen to My Word and I will tell you all My will.

My child, I love you! Let My love flow from you and spill over to all you touch. Be not concerned with yourself. You are My responsibility. I will change you. Take your eyes off yourself! Look at Me! I lead, I change, I make. You are mine. Let Me have the joy of making you like Christ. Let Me love you!!! You are not your own. You have been bought with blood and now belong to me.

My child, I love you! Do not struggle. Be relaxed in My love. I know what is best. Let Me make you what I want. My will is perfect! My love is sufficient! I will supply all your needs. Look to me today and in the days to come!!! I love you.

Your Heavenly Father

--Nancy B.

POINTS TO PONDER

“Christianity consists primarily not in what we do for God but in what God does for us—the great, wondrous things that God dreamed up and achieved for us in Christ Jesus. When God comes streaming into our lives in the power of His Word, all He asks is that we be stunned and surprised, let our mouths hang open, and begin to breathe deeply.” [Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging, p. 170]

“We only tarnish the shining promises of God if we persist in dwelling on our own sinfulness.” [J. B. Phillips quoted in 20th Century Thoughts That Shaped the Church, p. 224]

"...The faith I learned in childhood fixated on sin, stopping short of grace. Only after I experienced firsthand the loving grace of God could I begin to think healthily about sin." [Philip Yancey, True Confessions, p. 17]

"There lives no saint without a past or sinner who can't have a future." [Pulpit Helps, (June 2000), p. 16]

"The soul hardly ever realizes it, but whether he is a believer or not, his loneliness is really a homesickness for God." [Hubert van Zeller in Light For My Path, p. 112]

O LOVE OF GOD!

“Come unto Me, ye weary,

And I will give you rest.”

O blessed voice of Jesus,

Which comes to hearts oppressed!

It tells of benediction,

Of pardon, grace, and peace,

Of joy that hath no ending,

Of love which cannot cease.

“Come unto Me, ye wanderers,

And I will give you light.”

O loving voice of Jesus,

Which comes to cheer the night!

Our hearts were filled with sadness,

And we had lost our way;

But morning brings us gladness,

And songs the break of day.

“Come unto Me, ye fainting,

And I will give you life.”

O peaceful voice of Jesus,

Which comes to end our strife!

The foe is stern and eager,

The fight is fierce and long;

But Thou hast made us mighty,

And stronger than the strong.

“And whosoever cometh,

I will not cast him out.”

O patient voice of Jesus,

Which drives away our doubt,

Which calls us—very sinners,

Unworthy though we be

Of love so free and boundless—

To come, dear Lord, to Thee!

--William Chatterton Dix

(1837-1898)

CONFUSING?

Have you ever been perplexed by the different tenses Scripture uses in describing salvation? Have you ever wondered why salvation is sometimes spoken of in the past tense, at other times in the present tense, and still other times in the future tense?

For example, we read in Ephesians 2:8,9: ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not of works, so that no one can boast” (NIV). That sounds like it is all a done deal—salvation is a matter of the past.

But then we read in Philippians 2:12b,13, “...Work out (note: not ‘work for’ but ‘work out’) your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Obviously Paul is not speaking in this passage of some-thing that is past, but of something present. What are we to make of all this?

And then, as if we were not confused enough, I Peter 1:3-5 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Here salvation is spoken of as, not past, not present, but future. What are we to make of all this?

Dr. Theodore L. Cuyler explained it thusly: “A clipper ship crossing the Banks of Newfoundland in heavy weather strikes an iceberg. She rapidly settles at the bow, and her captain and crew have barely time to leap into the lifeboat. The question, ‘What must we do to be saved?’ is answered by their prompt leap into the lifeboat, which is an act of faith. They trust their lives to it for salvation. From immediate death they are saved.

“But, after the ship has sunk, the crew is still out in the deep and dangerous sea.... In order to...reach the distant shore, they must stick to the boat and pull lustily at the oars. They must ‘work out their salvation’ now by rowing hard.... Never for a moment, however, are they independent of the lifeboat. That must keep afloat, or they go to the bottom.

“At last, after hard rowing, they reach the welcome shore. This is their third, final, and complete salvation... Now they are at rest, for they have reached the desired haven.” [God’s Light on Dark Clouds, p. 126-127]

Salvation is a broad term that covers all that God does in delivering us from sin and death and hell. It covers such things as regeneration (being “born again”)—we who were dead in trespasses and sins receive new life from God (see John 3:1-16; Ephesians 2:1-9-10); the first steps of that life are faith and repentance (Mark 1:15); justification (Romans 3:21—28; II Corinthians 5:21)—our sins are charged to Christ’s account and He suffers in our place so that we receive full, free pardon for sin; Christ’s righteousness is charged to our account so that we enjoy what He deserved; adoption (John 8:44-47; 1:12; Romans 8:16,17)—we are taken out of the devil’s family and brought into the family of God; sanctification (Romans 6:1-13; II Peter 3:18)—we are set free from our bondage to sin and enabled to fight back against it with every increasing effectiveness; glorification (Romans 8:22,23; I John 3:1-3; I Corinthians 15:51-58)—we are made perfectly like Christ in body and in spirit!

And so the believer can say, “I have been saved; I am being saved; and I will be saved.” Indeed, he must say all three if he is to grasp the richness of salvation as revealed in the Bible.

And, of course, all is of God. “For those whom God had already chosen he had also set apart to become like his Son, so that the Son should be the first among many brothers. And so God called those whom he had set apart; not only did he call them, but he also put them right with himself; not only did he put them right with himself, but he also shared his glory with them” (Romans 8:29-30 GNB).

And so we have only to ask, Are you trusting? Are you rowing for shore? Rejoice! You’re sure to get there because He holds you in the hollow of His hand and will never leave you or forsake you (John 10:17-29; Hebrews 13:5).

--John J., Reading, PA

POINTS TO PONDER

"A few years ago I read of a young Florida man who became devoted to Elvis Presley before he died... For Dennis Wise, devotion meant spending every bit of money he had to collect Presley memorabilia (books, magazines, pillows, records, and even tree leaves from the Presley mansion in Memphis). Devotion also meant that Wise underwent six hours of plastic surgery to make his face resemble that of the famous singer. But having collected all this stuff and having attempted to look like him, did Dennis Wise ever meet Presley when he was alive? No, he told an interviewer. He'd seen him perform several times, and he had once seen him at a distance when he looked through the gates at Graceland (Presley's home). He had stood there for more than twelve hours to get a fleeting glimpse, and that is all it was: a glimpse.... When I read this interview, I realized that Wise had done just about everything one does when he worships a god. Learn what you can; assume what similarity you can; meet him if you can. Problem: Dennis Wise's god was unknowable, and he is now dead.... The God to whom Jesus introduces us is not dead, nor is He unknowable." [Gordon MacDonald, Forging a Real World Faith, p. 61-62]

"I am an optimist because I believe in God. Those who have no faith are quite naturally pessimists and I do not blame them." [William Lyon Phelps in Pulpit Helps, (December 1999), p. 16]

"God wants you to have no hindrances to a love relationship with Him in your life. Once God has spoken to you through His Word, how you respond is crucial. You must adjust your life to the truth." [Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King, Experiencing God, p. 167]

“…We read in Gospel history of…Jesus, the Son of God, coming down to a world of sinners, who neither cared for Him before He came, nor honored Him when He appeared. We read of Him going down to the prison-house, and submitting to be bound, that we the poor prisoners might be able to go free. We read of Him becoming obedient to death,—and that the death of the cross,—that we the unworthy children of Adam might have a door opened to life everlasting. We read of Him being content to bear our sins and carry our transgressions, that we might wear His righteousness and walk in the light and liberty of the sons of God.” [J. C. Ryle, Old Paths, p. 222]

"...Faith finds sweetness and rest in forgiveness with God: it is the only harbor of the soul: it leads man to God, to Christ, as his rest." [John Owen, The Forgiveness of Sin, p. 88]

POINTS TO PONDER

"...Instead of it being a difficulty, and a hardship, and an offence that the love of Christ passeth knowledge,—that is the crowning glory of Christ's love: that is our crowning blessedness. The love of Christ has no border; it has no shore: it has no bottom. The love of Christ is boundless: it is bottomless: it is infinite: it is divine. That it passeth knowledge is the greatest thing that ever was said, or could be said about it... We shall come to the shore, we shall strike the bottom, of every other love: but never the love of Christ!... It passeth now, and it will for ever pass, knowledge. You, who have once cast yourselves into it, and upon it—...you will never come to the length of it, or to the breadth of it, or to the depth of it, or to the height of it.... Heap up eternity upon eternity, and still the love of Christ to you will make all eternity to be but the springtime of life to you, and still but the early days of your everlasting espousals. The love of Christ will, absolutely and everlastingly, pass all knowledge." [Alexander Whyte, Lord, Teach Us To Pray, p. 155]

“Nothing keeps people away from Christ more than their inability to see their need of him or their un-willingness to admit it. As Jesus put it: ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners’ (Mark 2:17). He was defending against the criticism of the Pharisees his policy of fraternizing with ‘tax collectors and “sinners”’. He did not mean...that some people are righteous, so they do not need salvation, but that some people think they are. In that condition of self-righteousness they will never come to Christ. For just as we go to the doctor only when we admit that we are ill and cannot cure ourselves, so we will go to Christ only when we admit that we are guilty sinners and cannot save ourselves.” [John R. W. Stott, “Romans: God’s Good News for the World,” The Bible Speaks Today, p. 67]

“Donald Barnhouse tells a terrific story of a young man who went to the employment office of Western Union looking for a job delivering telegrams. The manager said he needed someone to start at once and asked if the young man would be willing to begin right then.

“’Well,’ said the boy, ‘there’s one thing I must warn you about before I get started. I am psychologically so constituted that I cannot stand any scene of unhappiness. I’m only will-ing to deliver good news. Birth announcements, that’s fine. Congratulations for success, fortunes that have been received, promotions, acceptance of marriages—all the joys and bliss news, that I’ll deliver. But sickness and death and failure and all of that, that’s alien to my nature. I just won’t deliver them.’

“It didn’t take the manager very long to say, ‘I guess I’m still looking for the one that’s gonna fill this job, because this responsibility requires that you also announce bad news.’

“That’s the job of one who delivers the gospel. It is wonderful Good News, but it isn’t complete until the bad news is also delivered.” [Donald Barnhouse, Man’s Ruin, Romans Vol. I, quoted in Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart, p. 321]

“The day of judgment shall convince thousands of self-willed people too late that it needs something more than a few beautiful ideas about ‘God’s love and mercy,’ to reconcile a man to his Maker, and to deliver His guilty soul from hell. No hope shall stand in that awful day but the hope of the justified man. No peace shall prove solid, substantial, and unbroken, but the peace which is built on justification.” [J. C. Ryle, Old Paths, p. 218]

“Our world is plagued by an epidemic of pain. With divorce rampant and child abuse screaming from the national headlines, it is not surprising that for many people the concept of a Father God evokes responses of anger, resentment, and rejection. Because they have not known a kind, caring earthly father, they have a distorted view of the Heavenly Father’s love. In many cases these hurting individuals choose to simply deny or ignore His existence.” [Floyd McClung, Jr., The Father Heart of God, p. 13-14]

"O, but that is a sweet thing, that albeit all the world should say against you, yet if thou wilt come to Christ, He will take thy part. Let them call you what they will..., He will call you His love..., His undefiled.... What matter it what men speak of you if God commend you." [Quaint Sermons of Samuel Rutherford Hitherto Unpublished, p. 321]

“It is by the name ‘Father’ that we address God; and the only way in which a child can put meaning and content into the word ‘father’ is from what he learns of its meaning from his own father. It is one of the grimmest commentaries on fatherhood that Luther could hardly bring himself to pray the Lord’s Prayer and to say, ‘Our Father,’ because of the sternness, the strictness and even cruelty of his own father.” [William Barclay, Daily Celebration II, p. 92]

“Christian psychologist Paul Vitz, in a teaching entitled, ‘The Psychological Roots of Atheism,’ declares that when the father is not present, the child naturally concludes there is no God. The most common false views of God’s character—that he is absent, distant, harsh, unapproachable, uncaring, weak—can often be traced to corresponding images of the man’s earthly father.” [Gordon Dalby, Sons of the Father, p. 36]

"A holy man was once asked, 'Why is it that people who are very religious—who go to church and light candles and kiss icons—why is it that they become worse instead of better?' The answer is simple, said the holy man: they do not really want God. They want something else—anything from playing a role to being a prophet to having a happy life, to being healthy, wealthy and wise. There is such a thing as spiritual hedonism, spiritual greed, spiritual avarice. We can even want to be holy for the sake of holiness rather than for the sake of the love of God. And then our desire becomes impure." [Fr. Thomas Hopko, “Continuous Conversion,” Faith & Renewal, (March/April 1992), p. 4]

“When the Lord takes your sins, you never see them again. He casts them into the depths of the sea, forgiven and forgotten. I even believe He places a sign over them that reads NO FISHING ALLOWED.” [Corrie ten Boom, Each New Day, p. 47]

“When we became Christians, God wiped the slate of our past sins clean. Right? Wrong! When we became Christians, God didn’t just wipe the slate clean. He threw it away.” [Steve Brown, If Jesus Has Come, p. 135]

“...Because God is unique as an all-glorious, totally self-sufficient Being, he must be for himself if he is to be for us. The rule of humility that belongs to a creature cannot apply in the same way to its Creator. If God should turn away from himself as the Source of infinite joy, he would cease to be God. He would deny the infinite worth of his own glory. He would imply that there is something more valuable outside himself. He would commit idolatry. This would be no gain for us. For where can we go when our God has become unrighteous? Where will we find a Rock of integrity in the universe when the heart of God has ceased to value the supremely valuable?” [John Piper, Desiring God, p. 36]

“The word grace emphasizes at one and the same time the helpless poverty of man and the limitless kindness of God.” [William Barclay in Inspiring Quotations: Contemporary & Classical, p. 83]

Step 3

We learned to see purpose

in our suffering,

that our failed lives

were under God’s control,

who is able

to bring good out of trouble.

WORKING THROUGH THE PAIN!


If you’ve never struggled with same-sex attractions, you may find it difficult to understand the pain that those who do are going through. If you do struggle with homosexuality, you know that pain all too well and may be having a difficult time not allowing that pain to overwhelm you and damage your relationship with God, with others, and with yourself.

For these reasons we are including (with their permission) the correspondence of two men in one of our HA groups as one cries out for help and the other offers encouragement.

D’s Letter

The man in pain, D— writes, “I cannot have what I want, what I need. Other people get it all, don’t you see? They get to fall madly in love, the love at all those levels—emotional, sexual—and can bond and enjoy every aspect of oneness with another person. It’s called falling in love and getting married. It is a well-respected practice in Churches everywhere.

“We don’t get to have those emotions or enjoy that connectedness with another human being—that one, special, unique person that we are completely and utterly joined to and with whom we share everything. We are at the window of the candy store and all we can do is look and, as we watch others, see exactly what we are missing while they get to go inside and feast—all with God’s blessing.

“It isn’t just that it is unfair—it is cruel! How can God do this? How do I reconcile this internal wiring in me with a personal, all-powerful, loving God who hates sin?

“God has created me a social animal with social needs to bond in this way and yet tweaks me so that the need is more intense than it is for most people and then says—sorry guy—the desire that I gave you is something you are not allowed to fulfill. It is sin.

“Don’t say that God didn’t give me the desire because at so many levels He did. He is sovereign, and whether it is nature or nurture or a combination of the two, this sovereign God certainly managed to orchestrate my being born to a bastard of a father and an overbearing, domineering mother and set me in a group of peers that treated me like a fag pariah long before I knew what either of those words meant. Good grief, who do I blame for orchestrating all the things necessary for this—the tooth fairy?

“It was God’s doing. Was it for my sin or my parent’s sin that I should be born or be nurtured into faghood? Or was it for the glory of God—well thank you very much, but hey, Mr. God, how’s that working for you? Not a lot of glory noticeable down here.

“How does God not answer this prayer? I have been a born again Christian for almost 40 years. I have been at various levels of personal devotion and faith. I have gone through long periods of a deep and close walk with God, and I have gone through periods of great struggle. I have had periods where I was accepting of my condition and periods when I cried out to God in the deepest anguish and desperation. I have devoted myself to service to God and thrown myself on his mercy, depending only on his grace. I have walked the walk of devotion to God. I do not think God should have answered this prayer because of what I have done for him. I don’t expect God to be impressed by me.

“I expect God to answer this prayer because that is the only action consistent with what every word of the Bible breathes about the nature and character of God. God designed us and gave us the need for human closeness and the need for sex. I was fearfully and wonderfully made inside my mother’s womb (my genetic origins) and nothing I have experienced was not filtered by God’s will. God created me and created the circumstances of my environment—put in place the structures necessary to create this need for closeness and for sex, and then, unlike 95% of the population, makes it impossible for me to fulfill this need without committing a sin God hates.

“Hey God, I am about to turn 50. Not much time left to change this. How about giving me a chance at some of the pleasures in life that everybody else both takes for granted and couldn’t imagine living without. I don’t really want to have sex with another man. I want to have the same need everybody else has. I want to be fixed.

“Do you know what really irks me? In high school my classmates—lots of them churchgoers—were screwing girls right and left. I have had fewer sex partners than any heterosexual man I know. What did I do before I was 11 to deserve this?

“I have prayed to be fixed for 40 years and it’s pretty clear that not only did God orchestrate my environment and/or genes to get me here, but that He has no intention of doing anything about it. He likes his handiwork.

How hard can this be? God is all-powerful so of course it isn’t about what God can do—it is a matter of what He wants to do. It is his will that I want sex and love from a man, and it is his will that I need sex and love from a man, and it is his will that I never get it because that is sin. It is his will that I can never need or want it from a woman, and it is his will that my prayer to need and want it from a woman is never fulfilled, and it is his will that I never get it from a woman. It is apparently his will that I live in isolation from all other human beings until I die!

What makes this so different than any other kind of problem is that there is nobody to blame but God. I have tried for a long time to find some way around it. A sovereign God could have given me a stable group of affirming male friends, a different mix of stress hormones during my mother’s pregnancy, my parent’s early divorce and my mother’s remarriage to a decent man. God could have easily prevented my homosexual struggle and God could at any point have easily fixed it. I was asking God to make is possible to meet a basic need without sinning. Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

“And God’s silence on the matter tells me something about God, There is something about my view of God in the Bible that simply has to be false. Either God is not so powerful, or he is not so loving, or he simply isn’t paying any attention to us. Giving us a basic need for sex and emotional closeness and then orchestrating our lives to make the only channel we can get that need met a sin is cruelty! Something about the sweet, loving God of the Bible is just plain wrong! This is not just a pity party—there are serious ethical and theological issues that place the theology I have been taught in direct conflict with the God that created my universe.”

Robert’s Reply

The man to whom D—wrote, Robert, answered: “Dear D—., You sound so much like I did some time ago. Even today such thoughts come up. But I had what you say you are looking for. I was one of the few gay men who had a long term, love relationship. I stress the word ‘love’ because there was a lot of love involved. But it was the wrong kind of love, and looking back at it now I see that it had a lot to do with narcissism, being centered on self and wanting someone to fulfill my emotional and sexual needs. But it was love—sort of, kind of.

“So if this is all we really need, why didn’t it fulfill me and make me happy? Why did I lie night after night beside him in our common bed after we had just had sex and feel terribly alone? Why did I always feel that this was not what I was looking for? Why did the gay life change my personality—much to the worse—and lower my moral standards? Why did it NOT fulfill my basic needs? I seemed to have it all—a hot, masculine man, lots of ‘great’ sex, someone to love and share my life with to the end. Why did I still feel so empty?

“Forget about hormones. They have nothing to do with your same-sex attractions. And even if we assume that there is a ‘gay gene,’ we are not slaves to our genetic code. If you had diabetes (which is genetic), would that mean you should inundate yourself with sugar? No, it would mean you should take care of what you eat and how you live. If, as some argue, certain forms of criminal behavior have genetic causes, does that make them right? Neither of us thinks so!

“My ex was an Israeli and we some-times talked about the suffering of the Jews under Hitler. He told me that many of them lost their faith when they had to suffer so bitterly. He told me how they chased all his relatives in Poland into a synagogue and set it on fire. The dying Jews cut their arms until they bled and wrote final message on the synagogue walls. They wanted to be remembered and avenged.

“Why did God let that happen? Why did he put them in such an ‘environment’? Why did he put lust for men into your heart? Why didn’t he take it away? Why doesn’t He put us all back into paradise? I know of no simple answer to these questions.

“What I do know is that I’ve been where you seem to want to go. I’ve done all you seem to want to do. And I hope I’ll never be back there again! Forget it, D—, it doesn’t work the way you think it does.

“Heterosexuality is so deeply en-graved in our hearts that even if you feel nothing for a woman, you do feel very strange and weird when you enter a same-sex relationship. Even if everyone in your family and all your friends and the people at your job fully approve of your choice, you still feel very strange and weird. And at least one of you has to change or bend or something to try to make it work. Heterosexuality is just too deeply in us.

“Even if you find the relationship you long for, you will soon find it’s not what you were looking for. You will become embittered, sad, and disappointed; and the gap between you and the male world will become bigger and bigger. The way you talk, the way you walk, your entire personality, your moods, your thinking, your behavior patterns, the way you look, the way you dress—everything will change—and not for the better.

“And from my own experience, I can say that our struggle isn’t that bad at all. Sure—we are different. And we hurt. Sometimes very much. But is it really always that bad?

“It’s not a bad thing to be different. It makes us lonely at times, but it also enables us to see and feel things so deeply that many heterosexual men would envy us if they knew how that felt. Everything has its up-side and its down-side.

“I recently worked at a brother’s house doing some construction work with other men from my church. They all love me and I love them. They know about my homosexual struggle and they know about my past life. They know that sometimes I struggle. So what! Everyone out there is hurting. If you don’t realize that you’re either very naive or believe in other people’s facades.

“The men at my church love me like they love each other. They hug me, touch me—and have no problem with that. They care about me—not, as in the gay life—just sex! That’s such an incredible feeling!

“And, as I said earlier, I know that a sexual relationship with a man won’t satisfy my needs. I’ve come a long way and I know I can have a truly satisfying life. I needed to change many of my old ways of thinking, attitudes, and behavior patterns to get to this point, but it works! I have a fulfilled life as a man who still has some same-sex attractions.

“I also have made friends with a lady now. I don’t know where this will lead, but it sure is a very good feeling!

“Above all, I’ve learned that we need to trust the Lord instead of how much we think we understand with our human ‘wisdom’ or ‘common sense’, or how we feel. Isn’t that what faith is all about?

“Just for discussion’s sake, let’s assume God exists and knows what is best for us. He created us and knows what happens who we choose to disobey. He also knows how stubborn we can be. Don’t all those feeling of loneliness, unhappiness, anger, self-pity, etc. come when we turn our face away from Him and try to live our own way according to our own wisdom and/or feelings?

“D—, I know that you have resisted acting out by having sex with another man—it just doesn’t seem to be in your heart yet. Believe me when I say I know how difficult this struggle is. When I got into recovery it was after sharing my life with another man for years. Every night he had slept by my side and I could hear him breathing regularly. He was there when I went to bed and when I got up. And we had sex together—lots of sex. Can you realize how lonely you can feel at night in your bed after that? I cried many tears.

“Still, God was with me. He helped me and I am truly thankful for that. He literally saved my life.

“And he can save yours—if you will only surrender to him and forget about your own wisdom and reason. Let Him rule your life—even when you can’t understand what He is trying to do with it. And as you do this, never forget that He loves you with a love that passes knowledge.

“God bless you, D—,

“Your friend,

“Robert.”

John J. replies

Dear D—

Thank you for your good letter to Robert, for permission to share it with others, and for the honesty with which you wrote. Your letter brought back memories of things I felt in my first days of recovery and again and again I found myself saying, “Been there; thought that; felt that.”

Let me stress, D—, these feelings and thoughts are now memories. I can assure you from my own experience that things will not always seem so grim. If you stick it out with Christ, work your program faithfully, things will get better—much better if my experience is any guide.

I went back over some of my journals from those early days and your letter and my experiences back then brought up these thoughts that I hope will be helpful to you.

As you read, please remember that I do not know anything about you save what you wrote in your letter. If I inadvertently step on a land mine in your soul and you are wounded, please forgive me and believe me when I say it is totally unintentional. You have enough pain to deal with now without anyone adding to it, and that’s the last thing I want to do.

Also please remember that I am not writing as someone who is or was better than you are. I am only writing as one God has mercifully brought through the darkness you are battling now. I have thought much of what you are thinking; I have felt much of what you are feeling. Neither one of us has any hope of standing before the judgment throne of God except that found in the blood and righteousness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I remember that when I was in such terrible pain, I responded much like an animal caught in a trap. I would snarl and try to bite those who wanted to help me—especially God Himself.

I regret all that now that I am enjoying sunnier days, but it was there when I was in darkness. As someone has said, “When God takes us through the fire, dross is what comes out!” The result, in my case, is not yet pure gold, but it is purer gold than it once was. I’m sure you too will find it so in the not-too-distant future if you “keep yourself in the love of God” (Jude 21).

You are very astute when you write: “there are serious ethical and theological issues that place the theology I have been taught in direct conflict with the God that created my universe.”

It seems to me that you are struggling with the doctrines of the love of God and the sovereignty of God. I’ve struggled with those doctrines too, so please bear with me as I share the things that have helped me and hope will throw at least some light on the path you are walking.

The Love of God

Back in my own dark days, I’m afraid I often reacted toward God much like a sullen, spoiled child who storms out of the room, shouting at his parents, “If you don’t give me what I want, if you don’t do what I think you ought to do, you don’t love me!” Like a child who assumes he knows what is best for him, I assumed I was wiser than God and surely knew what was good for me better than He did.

You’d think my own childhood would have taught me better. I had been told by my parents never to ride double on a bicycle because it was dangerous and I might get hurt. But I, in my great wisdom, thought I knew better. “I’m tired of being treated like a little kid,” I told myself, “I’m going to act like a man!” So I got on the back of a friend’s bike and we took off down a steep hill. We were flying! Every-thing was fine until we got to the curve at the bottom of the hill. We were going so fast we couldn’t make the turn. The bike crashed and I landed on my face. I broke my two front teeth and my face looked like a cross between hamburger and a skinned knee! So much for knowing better than my parents.

I wish I could say that I learned the lesson of humility from that experience, but it should be clear from what I’ve said about my dealings with God that I am a very slow learner!

So how did God teach me that He loves me even when He doesn’t do what I expect and give me the things I think would be good for me?

Fortunately, I knew the Bible was the Word of God and even in my worst moments continued studying it. As I did so, I found something that at first seemed strange. The Apostle Paul could write that “the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (II Corinthians 5:14,15 ESV). Yet this same man who says the love of Christ controls him also, in this very letter, describes his life as involving “far greater labors [than the false teachers who attacked him], far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was ship-wrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure” (II Corinthians 11:23-27 ESV). How could he be controlled by—even believe in—the love of Christ when his life involved so much hardship and suffering? It didn’t seem to make sense!

And then I read this: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present not the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39 NIV).

While I was puzzling over these seemingly strange verses, I came across the story of a Bible-believing pastor’s wife who was dying of cancer and was in considerable pain. Her doctor was not a Christian and, forgetting her own problems, she sought to be of help to him by telling him of the love of God in Christ Jesus.

The doctor was irritated and responded with that cruelty which only those who despise God and His people are capable of. He shouted at her, “Love of God! Love of God! How can you talk about the love of a God who lets you suffer so? How can you still talk about God’s love?”

The woman was taken aback and leaned back on her pillow for a moment as she prayed for him, and then she smiled gently and quoted two verses to him: “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (I John 4:9 NIV). “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation (the word means wrath removing sacrifice) for our sins: (I John 4:10 ESV). I don’t know what the effect of those words was on that doctor, but they made a light go on in my head and that light dispelled the fog of confusion and doubt.

Another passage popped into my head: “When we were still helpless, Christ died for the wicked, at the time that God chose. It is a difficult thing for someone to die for a righteous person. It may be that someone might dare to die for a good person. But God has shown us how much he loves us: it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8 TEV)!

There are other passages that teach the same truth, of course. I won’t tire you by repeating them. If you wish, you can look up the cross references in your Bible for the passages I have quoted. I picked these because they were the ones that helped me.

Those passages showed me that there is only one place I can look to and be sure of the love of God. That place is Calvary!

Later I read that others had seen the same truths that God had used to help me (surprise, surprise!). Dr. James Moffatt wrote: “One of the surprising results yielded by any close examination of Christianity as revealed in the New Testament literature is that apart from the redeeming action of the Lord Jesus Christ the early Church evidently saw no ground whatsoever for believing in a God of love.” [James Moffatt, Love in the New Testament, (London: 1932), p. 5 quoted in Leon Morris, Testaments of Love: A Study of Love in the Bible, p. 129]

To be honest, as I think of the things of which I am deeply ashamed, and think of the great love God showed someone like me—a rebel, unclean, a sinner—in allowing Christ to die in my place and take the punishment that I deserved, I feel ashamed of my former “what have you done for me lately” attitude.

You might ask, why is the cross the only place we can look to be sure of the love of God? First, our experiences will change from day to day. We live in a sin-cursed world and therefore we can expect that, because of God’s mercy, things will sometimes go well; but, because of the curse, things will also sometimes be difficult. We must learn to rejoice in all that is good and to accept that which is difficult until heaven (where there is only good) is ours.

Again, we live in the midst of sinners who hate Christ and may hate us (see John 15:18-21). Their rejection and persecution can be a real source of pain. We must accept that, “deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him,” and remember that to save our life is the sure way to lose it (Mark 8:34-38).

Finally, while I cannot speak for you, I know I am still a sinner with many rough edges that need to be smoothed down. God sometimes allows difficulties in my life to, like sandpaper, get rid of those things that make me unfit, at present, for the inheritance of the saints of light. He is not only preparing heaven for me; He is preparing me for heaven. I suspect it is so with you as well. So we can learn to obey the injunction of Scripture: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance (the ESV translates this steadfastness). Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4 NIV).

That will be ours when we either go to be with Christ or when He comes back to take us to be with Himself. And, as the old hymn says, “That will be glory for me!”

Since Calvary has shown me the heart of God, I am learning to trust that heart and His wisdom to give me, not what seems good to me, but what is actually good for me at any given time. It means living by faith, not by sight, but this is what God calls us to do (see II Corinthians 5:7).

Dear brother, these are tough questions you raise and I hope these words help with them. But do look to Calvary and see the heart of God toward you and me with all our weakness and folly and rebellion and rest your weary soul there. If you can do that, it will be well with you.

Please understand, D—, I have more than a little experience of how difficult it can be to direct your thoughts to the love of God proved on Calvary when you are hurting. But I did find some help that enabled me to do that and revel in His love in the midst of pain.

A verse that gave me a good clue is I Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (NIV).

The words “a way out” hit home. If there was a way out, how was I to find it?

About this time someone suggested the book, The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns. It’s a secular book about cognitive therapy and is on the HA Book Ministry List if you’d like a copy for yourself.

Dr. Burns wrote, “Many people believe that their bad moods result from factors beyond their control. They ask, ‘How can I possibly feel happy? My girlfriend rejected me. Women always put me down” [The Feeling Good Handbook, p. 3]. While acknowledging that “our feelings...are influenced by external events, by our body chemistry, and by conflicts and traumas from the past,” he notes these ideas “are based on the notion that our feelings are beyond our control. If you say, ‘I just can’t help the way I feel,’ you will only make yourself a victim of your misery—and you’ll be fooling yourself, because you can change the way you feel. If you want to feel better, you must realize that your thoughts and attitudes—not external events—create your feelings.” [Ibid., p. 3-4].

One of the ways we create painful feelings, Dr. Burn says, is by telling ourselves (usually repeatedly in our self-talk) that things are worse than they actually are. I did that and I see several places in your letter where it looks to me as if you are doing that. Please don’t take offense. I don’t know how I can be of help without dealing with some false beliefs in your letter rather than just use general examples. I only note these things to try and help you feel better and enjoy the love of God again.

You write, “I cannot have what I want, what I need.” It is a sure road to trouble to equate “want” with “need”. Need is a dangerous, over-used word in our culture. While it is true that one may want sex—want it very badly—it is not true that sexual activity is a need. Neither Christ nor Paul had intercourse with anyone, and Paul went so far as to say “it is good for a man not to marry” (I Corinthians 7:1 NIV) and to “wish that all men” were as he was (I Corinthians 7:7 NIV) because “an unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided” (I Corinthians 7:32-34a NIV).

Thus, while marriage is ordained by God, and is good, and is to be the experience of most people, it is not a need that one cannot live without and can be a positive hindrance to one’s service to the Lord.

When one ignores these facts and continually tells himself that he is being denied something he “needs,” he is making himself more miserable than necessary. While it is perfectly true that “single blessedness” is not always easy or pleasant, it is also true that “married bliss” is not necessary to everyone’s life or well being.

Further, you seem to have an idealized but unrealistic view of the blessings of heterosexuality. “Other people get it all... They get to fall madly in love, the love at all those levels—emotionally, sexually—and can enjoy every aspect of oneness with another person.”

D—, your own parent’s marriage should alert you to the fact that this is not the way it is all the time. The divorce statistics should help you see that this is not the way it is even most of the time. If you have married friends who are open with you about the struggles they face in their marriages, you will surely know that marriage is not heaven! There are a number of very good marriages, but they take a lot of work, a lot of struggle, and a lot of sacrifice. Marriage is not instant glory!

I have several heterosexual friends who have been through divorce—a couple of them more than once. Let me assure you that as painful as singleness can be, it is nothing compared to the pain of splitting up. One friend described it as like having your arms pulled out of their sockets. He and his wife were one; they are so no longer. The separation was incredibly traumatic. That is a pain you might thank God you have never known.

An honest look at these realities and at yourself might convince you that, while your same-sex attractions may make a good marriage impossible at this time, they may not be the only things you have to deal with if you are to have what you want.

So sexual activity is not a need and marriage is not a guarantee of happiness. What are we to do?

As long as one stays focused on what he or she cannot have at present, they fail to see what they can have which could help them find a good measure of joy now.

God said, you remember, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18 NIV). There are two provisions He made to meet that need.

The first was a wife for Adam. God had been his only Father and he had no wounds from childhood that left him unready for marriage. That’s not true of you.

But there is another provision God has given us to assuage our loneliness—friendship.

Please don’t close your mind! C. S. Lewis notes, “To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue” [The Four Loves, p. 57]. You might want to read this book—especially the chapter on “Friendship”.

One of my straight male friends who went through a painful divorce has told me that he plans never to marry again. He feels that he can get everything from his male friends that he could get from a woman except sex, and he says he can do without that. He thinks the price is too high!

Of course that solution opens up a whole new series of problems. Men who struggle with homosexuality and usually no better at making friends with men than we are at having sex with women. It’s part of the problem.

But here, at least, is a place you can start to fill your life with good things. It will take time (friendships don’t sprout overnight) and work (you have to be a friend to make friends) and patience—but I can tell you from my own experience, the rewards are more than worth the effort. My friendships are what sustain me through the many rough patches of life and are a deep source of joy in my own singleness.

So, I plead with you, stop thinking thoughts that only make you feel worse and start taking actions that can give you a good chance at real happiness now. Why deprive yourself of the good things of life simply because you can’t have all you want?

The Sovereignty of God

Another area that seems to have caused much of your pain is a misunderstanding of the doctrine of the sovereignty of God. That this would be a problem is not surprising, for good Christians have debated how we are to understand what the Bible teaches on that subject for many centuries. How do we approach such a difficult and problematical doctrine?

First, I hope you will agree that we must approach it humbly. We must remember that God Himself has warned us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8,9 ESV).

You might be tempted as ask, “Well if God’s thoughts and ways are so far beyond us, how can we know anything about Him? The Apostle Paul answers, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared ‘for those who love him,—these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:9-14 ESV).

If we can only know as much of a person as he or she chooses to reveal to us, how much more can we only know God through what He chooses to reveal? And He has chosen to reveal Himself to us, insofar as it is possible for Him to make Himself known to finite and fallen creatures.

Paul explains the process. In I Corinthians 2:10 “the word us is emphatic in the Greek sentence. It cannot refer to all Christian people, for we are not all recipients of direct, divine revelation. It must rather refer to the apostles” [John R. W. Stott, Basic Christian Leadership, p. 61] “In both I Corinthians 2:10 and Ephesians 3:4-5, God is the author of the revelation, the Spirit is its agent, and the apostles are its recipients” (Idem.).

The Holy Spirit “is presented to us in four stages as ‘searching,’ ‘revealing,’ ‘inspiring’ and ‘enlightening.’ Together these four verbs sum up the relations between the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures” (Idem.).

The Spirit (1) searches “even the depths of God” (2:10b); (2) He then revealed what God has prepared for those who love Him to the Apostles (2:10a); (3) the Apostles then imparted what He had taught them to those who are spiritual in words taught by the Spirit (2:13); (4) the Spirit must still give understanding of what has been revealed, even to those who are spiritual (2:14).

Thus we are entirely dependent on God both to make Himself known and to open our sin-blinded eyes that we may know what He has revealed for us (see Psalm 119:18). So humility is definitely in order.

And what is Christian humility? John R. W. Stott writes, “Submission to the authority of Scripture is the way of personal Christian humility. Nothing is more obnoxious in us who claim to follow Jesus Christ than arrogance, and nothing is more appropriate or attractive than humility. And an essential element in Christian humility is the willingness to hear and receive God’s Word. Perhaps the greatest of all our needs is to take our place again humbly, quietly and expectantly at the feet of Jesus Christ, in order to listen attentively to his Word, and to believe and obey it. For we have no liberty to disbelieve or disobey him’ [The Contemporary Christian, p. 184].

How does one become humble? “If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.” [C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 108] “As long as you are proud, you cannot know God” (Ibid., p. 104].

So we must pray against the most deadly of the seven deadly sins whenever we approach the Bible. If you are doing that from your heart, what is to be found in the Bible about the sovereignty of God (remembering we can only hit the high points in an article)?

First, the Bible clearly teaches that God is sovereign. “In its own dramatic and figurative way the Bible leaves us in no doubt of this. The breath of all living creatures is in his hand. The thunder is his voice and the lightening his fire. He causes the sun to shine and the rain to fall. He feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field. He makes the clouds his chariot and the winds his messengers. He causes the grass to grow. His trees are well watered. He calms the raging of the sea. He also guides the affairs of people and nations. The mighty empires of Assyria and Babylonia, of Egypt and Persia, of Greece and Rome, were under his overruling control. He called Abraham from Ur. He delivered the Israelites from Egypt, led them across the desert and settled them in the Promised Land. He gave them judges and kings, priests and prophets. Finally he sent his only Son into the world to live, to teach, to die and to rise again.” [John R. W. Stott, Christian Basics, p. 59]

To cite just a few of the Scriptures that teach this truth: “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all” (I Chronicles 29:11,12 ESV). “Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’” (Isaiah 46:9,10 ESV). “At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him,’ What have you done?’” [Daniel 4:34,35 ESV]. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:29,30 ESV). God “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11 ESV).

Please don’t be frustrated. I know these truths have been the source of much of your perplexity. They are true—but they are not the whole truth.

The Responsibility of Man

While the Bible clearly teaches that God is sovereign, it also teaches with equal clarity that He holds man—you and me—responsible for his (or our) actions. As John R. W. Stott puts it, “Scripture recognizes both our ignorance (‘they do not know what they are doing’) and our weakness (‘he remembers that we are dust’), but it dignifies us by holding us accountable for our thoughts and actions” [Evangelical Essentials, p. 321]. This seems to be an area you have underestimated in your thinking so I’m going to give it some extra attention. Where is man’s responsibility taught in the Bible?

When our first parents ate the forbidden fruit, did God say, “Since I am sovereign, it is all my fault. I’m the One to blame. I’m sorry”? The Bible says God “drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life” (see Genesis 3:1-24, quoting verse 24 ESV).

When Cain murdered his brother Abel, did God say, “Since I am sovereign, it is all my fault. I’m the One to blame. I’m sorry”? The Bible says, “And the Lord said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground...” (see Genesis 4:1-16, quoting verses 10, 11a ESV).

When “God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth”, did God say, “Since I am sovereign, it is all my fault. I’m the One to blame. I’m sorry”? The Bible says, “And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Genesis 6:12,13 ESV). The flood was the result.

When the Lord heard that Sodom and Gomorrah’s “sin is very grave” (Genesis 18:20 ESV) did He say, “Since I am sovereign, it is all my fault. I’m the One to blame. I’m sorry”? The Bible says, “The Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities” (Genesis 19:24,25 ESV).

The Bible is very clear that just as He held those in these examples (and you can find many others in Scripture) responsible for their acts, so He will hold all human beings responsible for their deeds when He judges the world in righteousness. Meditate on these words: “Rejoice, O young man in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things, God will bring you into judgment” (Ecclesiastes 11:9 ESV). “God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14 ESV). “Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4 ESV). “As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die...” [Ezekiel 33:11 ESV). “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red lie crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it” (Isaiah 1:18-20 ESV). “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13,14 ESV). “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV). “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brook under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:37,38 ESV). “Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Romans 2:4,5 ESV). “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7,8 ESV).

Not only does the Bible teach both that God is sovereign and that man is responsible, but it sometimes does so in the very same verse! Thus Joseph tells the brothers who persecuted him, plotted his death, and sold him into slavery, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20 ESV). Note that God’s sovereignty in the matter did not change the fact that what the brothers meant was evil! On the night of the Last Supper Jesus said, “For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed” (Luke 22:22 ESV)! On the day of Pentecost Peter charges his hearers, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands lf lawless men” (Acts 2:23 ESV). God’s sovereignty did not cancel their guilt and they knew it for “they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins...” (Acts 2:37,38 ESV). The early believers prayed, “Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place” (Acts 4:27-28 ESV). The fact that God’s plan was being carried out did not relieve the guilt of those who gathered together against God’s Son!

While teaching God’s sovereign control of all that comes to pass, the Bible is quite clear about who is to blame when we sin. “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. The desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:13-15). Whatever view one takes of divine sovereignty, it must not deny the clear teaching of these verses. When we sin, we are to blame! To suggest that sin is God’s doing is to make Him evil!

Let me illustrate. Suppose I know a man who is an alcoholic. I am fully aware of his weakness. Suppose I then buy a bottle of gin and wave it under his nose. Suppose, as a result, he “falls off the wagon”. He sins by getting drunk, but aren’t I also guilty of sin by tempting him? Of course I am! So those who follow Adam’s example (“The woman who you gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit of the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:12 ESV emphasis mine) will, like Adam, find that their attempts to implicate God in their sin will only add to their guilt and make them even more deserving of judgment.

You may be saying, “I’m confused! I don’t understand how God can be sovereign and I can be responsible at the same time!” Of course you don’t. To understand God’s sovereignty you would have to be God’s equal. Think of these words: “If we attempt to comprehend God, the God we think we understand is not God.... God’s presence and activity are beyond our ability to comprehend. We can accept them with faith. We can be deeply thankful for them. But there is no way we can grasp them, describe them, and explain them.... The closer we are to God, the less we know about God” [Pseudo-Macarius, Homilies quoted by Richard A. Kauffman, “Spiritual Classics,” Christianity Today, (September 2006), p. 112]. Or, as the Bible puts it: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law”(Deuteronomy 29:29).

D, I want to thank you for bearing with me thus far. I hope some of the things we’ve shared have helped you out of the darkness you were feeling. Let me take just a little more time to sum up and apply what we’ve talked about.

To begin with, how do we know that God loves us? Clearly it is not because everything goes our way. The Bible answer to that question is the cross of Christ. As the great Scotch theologian James Denney has written, “The death of Christ is...a demonstration of [the love of God]....which can never be surpassed.” [The Death of Christ, p. 88]

Once we grasp this truth, we are enabled to trust Him when things seem to be going against us, even when we cannot understand why (something we may understand later and will understand in heaven). To illustrate, take the story of Joni Eareckson Tada. As a teenager, she dived into a pool, struck her head, and became a quadriplegic. This vibrant, young, athletic woman has been confined to a wheelchair for over two decades. At first she was angry with God but listen to her now: “Lord, your no answer to physical healing meant yes to a deeper healing—a better one. Your answer has bound me to other believers and taught me so much about myself. It’s purged sin from my life, it’s strengthened my commitment to you, forced me to depend on your grace. Your wiser, deeper answer has stretched my hope, refined my faith, and helped me to know you better. And you are good. You are so good.... I know I wouldn’t love you...I wouldn’t love and trust you...were it not for—....this wheelchair.” The God I Love: A Memoir, p. 356] “Oh, thank you, thank you for this wheelchair!... By tasting hell in this life, I’ve been driven to think seriously about what faces me in the next. This paralysis is my greatest mercy.... It was your roadblock, God, to keep me from totally messing up my life. Thank you, bless you. My sin would have only gotten worse in college. And I know, I truly know, I would have been lost to you forever.” [Ibid., p. 340-341]

D, this is what the life of faith is all about—trusting God’s love revealed on Calvary even though things are dark and confusing. This is what God calls us to and concerning which He tests us so we can learn whether we have faith or not (and if not, come to real faith) and where our faith may be weak and we need to seek grace and take action to strengthen it.

Secondly, while the Bible teaches that God is sovereign and in control of all things, it also teaches that we are responsible for our actions. While we cannot bring these two truths together in our limited minds, the problem is not with either of the truths, but with the fact that we are finite and fallen.

To illustrate, I recently taught a Sunday school class on Isaiah 7-12. In my preparation, I came across this comment on Isaiah 10:5-19 asking how God could judge Assyria when it was the rod of God’s anger sent by him to punish Israel. “Assyria’s was a savage imperialism, pursued without asking and without quarter: Was this the Lord’s doing? No wonder Habakkuk was aghast at the thought (Hab. 1:5-13), even if in the end he would not have it otherwise (Hab. 3:17-19). There is only one Agent and he does all things well. Under him, history is the outworking of moral providences. The Assyrian holocaust was not ‘let loose’ on the world; it was sent, directed where it was merited (6), kept within heaven’s limits, and in the end Assyria was punished for its excesses (12). But if the Assyrian Empire is but an axe or saw, how is it culpable?... At this point we come face to face with the biblical paradox: the Lord is sovereign, but his instruments are morally responsible agents. Isaiah goes out of his way to show us a real human agent at work.... We are introduced to the Assyrians’ thoughts (8,13), their mind (7) and their hand (10,13-14). In six verses the first person verb is used seven times and the first person pronoun four. The affirmation of agency is unmistakable” [J. Alec Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary, p. 113].

Thirdly, whatever view one takes of the sovereignty of God, James 1:13-15 is very clear that we cannot blame Him for either our temptations or our sins. As the nineteenth century theologian Albert Barnes wrote, “This is one of the most positive and unambiguous of all the declarations in the Bible, and one of the most important. It may be added, that it is one which stands in opposition to as many feelings of the human heart as perhaps any other one. We are perpetually thinking—the heart suggests it constantly—that God does place before us inducements to evil, with a view to lead us to sin. This is done in many ways: (a) Men take such views of his decrees as if the doctrine implied that he meant that we should sin, and that it could not be otherwise than that we should sin. (b) It is felt that all things are under his control and that he has made his arrangements with a design that men should do as they actually do, (c) It is said that he has created us with just such dispositions as we actually have, and knowing that we would sin. (d) It is said that, by the arrangements of his Providence, he actually places inducements before us to sin, knowing that the effect will be that we will fall into sin, when he might easily have prevented it. (e) It is said that he suffers some to tempt others when he might easily prevent it if he chose, and that this is the same as tempting them himself. Now, in regard to these things, there may be much which often troubles the heart even of the good; yet the passage before us is explicit on one point, and all these things must be held in consistency with that—that God does not place inducements before us with a view that we should sin, or in order to lead us into sin. None of his decrees, or his arrangements, or his desires, are based on that, but all have some other purpose and end. The real force of temptation is to be traced to some other source—to ourselves, and not to God.” [“James,” Barnes Notes, p. 24-25]

Fourthly, how are we to face our temptation to give up on God when He does not answer our prayers that we be set free? This, for many, is a real problem. “In one of Somerset Maugham’s best-known novels, Of Human Bondage, there is the story of a little boy named Phillip. Born with a clubfoot, Phillip is crippled and very self-conscious about his deformity. One day he hears that God can do anything if we will only pray and ask Him for it. So before going to sleep one night he looks down at his twisted foot and asks God to straighten it out for him by the next morning. He then falls asleep fully expecting that by the next day his foot will be normal. But when he awakens and pulls back the covers, Phillip discovers that his foot is still misshapen and ugly. He is hurt and disillusioned. The experience is the beginning of his loss of faith.” [David Seamands, Putting Away Childish Things, p. 72]

As Dr. Seamands’ title suggests, the problem is a childish view of prayer. C. S. Lewis explains, “Prayer is not a machine. It is not magic. It is not advice offered to God.... It would be even worse to think of those who get what they pray for as a sort of court favorites, people who have influence with the throne. The refused prayer of Christ in Gethsemane is answer enough to that.” [C. S. Lewis, The World’s Last Night and Other Essays, p. 10]

What we are really facing again is do I believe that God loves me. If I do, I will believe, as Max Lucado puts it, “God withholds what we desire in order to give us what we need” [A Love Worth Giving, p. 39]. I will remember: "There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers" [St. Theresa of Jesus in Treasury of Women's Quotations, p. 241]. And I will think like Saint Teresa of Avila who “was insightful enough to pray, 'Do not punish me by granting that which I wish or ask.'" [Max Lucado, The Applause of Heaven, p. 181]

I will remember what the ancient saints have always known: "Virtues are connected with suffering. He who flees suffering is sure to be parted from virtue. If you desire virtue, give yourself up to every kind of suffering. For suffering engenders humility. Until we have attained true knowledge, we advance toward humility by means of trials. He who rests on his virtue without suffering has the door of pride open before him" [St. Isaac the Syrian, "Directions on Spiritual Training," Early Fathers from the Philokalia, p. 200].

This will help me say with Brother Lawrence, "The sorest afflictions never appear intolerable, except when we see them in the wrong light. When we see them as dispensed by the hand of God, when we know that it is our loving Father who abases and distresses us, our sufferings lose their bitterness and become even matter of consolation" [Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God, p. 75-76]. And this will enable me to follow his counsel: "Ask of God, not deliverance from your pains, but strength to bear resolutely, for the love of Him, all that He should please, and as long as He shall please" [Ibid., p. 72].

And so pain, yours and mine, either leads us to trust Christ or to turn from Him. The choice is ours and we are responsible.

Hebrews in the New Testament speaks to just such a choice. Some Jewish people who had professed faith in Christ were suffering severe persecution. No doubt they had prayed for its removal, but to no avail. Now, instead of trusting Christ, they were thinking of turning away from him. The Holy Spirit warns them: “It is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him in contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worth-less and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6:4-8 ESV). “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the know-ledge of the truth, there no longer remains any sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified and has out-raged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:26-31 ESV).

The Apostle Peter speaks to those who were tempted to turn from Christ due to moral struggles and warned them, “If, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the know-ledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: ‘The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire’’” (II Peter 2:20-22 ESV).

Please don’t take offense at these warnings. They are not directed to one who is struggling against sin, nor to one who has fallen into sin, but who, by God’s grace, decides to rise, confess, receive Christ’s forgiveness, and fight on. They are written only to warn those who are thinking of abandoning Him.

D, I am not accusing you of such folly, though I thus write. To do otherwise would be to be unfaithful to your soul so I’m trying to cover all the bases as we think together about your struggles. I don’t want to fail you in any way.

I hope God will use some of this to lighten your burden and encourage you to persevere in the way of faith in Christ. If there is anything more I can do or if you have further questions, please let me know. God bless you, D.

--John J.

Bruce A’s reply

Dear D—:

I would be just where you are if it were not for the things God has taught me from recovery over the years that have totally changed my perspective. Here are some of them that I hope will encourage you.

(1) Don’t make healing my God. Let God be God regardless of whether I get completely healed or not. Please don’t misunderstand. I have experienced God’s healing over and over, but it is not my god.

(2) The real me isn’t homosexual. God never created me to be homosexual nor does He want me to live that way. It was not His intention that I give in to my homosexual desires. They are not the real me. The needs behind those desires are normal, but homosexuality itself is not normal.

(3) Satan intended to choke the life out of me with same-sex lust, pornography, masturbation, acting out, self-pity, rebellion, fear, envy, and bitterness. Yet God intended my struggle for good for me. I have to depend on God for peace, pardon, purpose, and power. I am broken, but God will bring good out of that brokenness. Because of my powerlessness over lust, same-sex attractions, and my character defects, God gets an open door to my heart to teach me things that really matter in life. These are great things like intimacy, growing up spiritually, emotionally, and socially, learning to live free of lust, pornography, acting in, and acting out, learning to have healthy relationships with men and women, and delighting in being God’s child.

Until I was ready to surrender my lust and my character defects to God, He could not or would not take them from me. That surrender is a daily matter but it is making me the person I’ve always wanted to be.

I get so much support from HA and Sexaholics Anonymous. I’ll never be sufficiently grateful. Working the steps has given me a lot of freedom. It has been far more help than a lot of head knowledge. It’s progress, not perfection, and it’s good!

I hope you find this for yourself too. Perhaps these thoughts will be of some help to you. I hope so. God bless you D—.

POINTS TO PONDER

“When the end comes and we are taken for judgment above, we will then clearly understand in God the mysteries that puzzle us. Not one of us will think to say, ‘Lord, if it had been some other way, all would be well.’” [Julian of Norwich, Seasonings quoted by Richard A Kauffman, “Spiritual Classics,” Christianity Today, (September 2006), p. 112]

PROFIT OUT OF LOSS!

So, you had a fall. And you’d just begun to think you had this thing licked. Then… How could it have happened? What does it mean? Is homosexuality really unbeatable? Were your hopes just illusions?

Of course not! Nothing has changed but your feelings! God is the same. The promises of His Word are still true. A fall does not make you a hopeless case. It’s a relapse, nothing more. The real progress you made in recovery has not dissipated. Only the delusion of how strong you are is gone. You can, if you will, profit from this. How? By working the steps anew.

Reaffirm your powerlessness over homosexuality. Have you been denying or barely admitting this, or is it something you’ve accepted at the core of your being? Powerlessness does not mean hopelessness. It means we cannot recover alone. We need God and His people!

Resist the temptation to draw back from God. Trust His promise to love, forgive, and accept you in spite of all. “If...any child of the Father finds that he is afraid of Him, that the thought of God is a discomfort to him, or even a terror, let him make haste—let him not linger to put on any garment, but rush at once in his nakedness, a true child, for shelter from his own evil and God’s terror, into the salvation of the Father’s arms.” [George MacDonald: 365 Readings, p. 63]

Acknowledge your fall as a failure that may bring new suffering and trouble. You have reactivated old habit patterns and may face weeks of intense struggle before your regain your serenity. But God reigns! He will bring good out of your pain as you walk with your hand in His.

Remember, God smashed the power of homosexuality to condemn, rule, or destroy you at the cross. It can tempt, trouble, torment, even trip you up, if you let it; but it is not your Master. Christ is! He delivers!

What you did does not change who you are, though it may change how you feel. You may find it difficult to reject the lie that homosexuality is your unalterable identity, and to believe the truth that you are a heterosexual person with a homosexual struggle who can rediscover his or her true identity through Christ, by faith. Entrust yourself to God’s unchanging Word rather than to your fluctuating emotions. Live by faith, not by feelings!

Write a searching and fearless moral inventory of the incident. What were you feeling beforehand? Anger? Fear? Depression? Boredom? When did you turn away from God? Why didn’t you ask someone for help? In what ways did you injure the one with whom you fell? Why were you willing to do so? What other courses of action might you have taken? What have you done since the fall?

Search out the defects of character that made you vulnerable and confess them to God, to yourself, and to another human being. Begin asking God to remove them. If wise and possible, make amends.

Re-examine your relationships. Has fear, stemming from lack of trust in God, kept you from being open and honest with others? Have you been building mature friendships or are you still stuck in dominant/dependent relationships? Are you growing in your walk with God? Do you talk to Him in prayer and give daily heed to His Word? Are you enhancing your freedom by lovingly sharing it with others, or are you too much wrapped up in yourself? Do these questions suggest new thoughts for your moral inventory?

Resist the temptation to pull back or hide the fall from those who can help. While you alone can work the steps, you cannot work them alone. A noted expert says, “Homosexuality is the kind of problem that needs to be solved through relationships” [Elizabeth Moberly, Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic, p. 42]. Fight destructive feelings of shame that isolate you, and ask for the help you need. All of us have had more than our share of falls. “...There is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:22b,23).

Above all, don’t lose heart. Someone has said, ‘A champion is not someone who never falls down, but someone who never stays down.” “No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home, but the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is present in us: it is the very sign of His presence.” [Letters of C. S. Lewis, 20 January 1942]

Someone reading these lines might be saying, “I’m so ashamed. I feel God despises me. I’m afraid His people will reject me. I fear I can never change.”

Take heart! There is a fellowship of men and women who understand your fears because they have experienced similar distress. They know your pain because they have felt it in their own hearts. Now they are in the process of finding relief from their pain and many are experiencing an ever-increasing freedom from homosexuality such as they once hardly dared hope for. They are members of Homosexuals Anonymous Fellowship. Their hearts are open to you. Their hands are stretched out to you. You can trust them to understand and care because you know they’ve stumbled along the same difficult path you now tread.

Find the chapter nearest you on the back of your newsletter and call them. If no chapter is near, go to the HA webpage and get involved in an on-line chapter. Order the HA Workbook, Lord, Set Me Free! Work it! Call the office (610-779-2500) and we’ll help as much as we can! Do these things and you’ll turn your loss into rich profit!

--John J.

POINTS TO PONDER

“What is my proudest accomplishment? I went through some pretty difficult times, and I kept my sanity.” [Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis quoted in Christopher Andersen, Jackie After Jack, 1998, in First Ladies Quotation Book, p. 5]

"No situation, however painful or uncongenial, is without a hidden blessing. Whether our circumstances are due to our own ignorance, folly or sin, or whether due to the fault of others, they can always, if we will turn to God, be turned into a creative opportunity. There are no circumstances which God cannot use for His good purposes, and therefore for our great gain." [Anita Menderhausen in Union Life, (January/February 1997), p. 16]

"Pain nourishes courage. You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you." [Mary Tyler Moore quoted by Barbara Grizzuti Harrison McCall's, Reader's Digest, (February 1986), p. 137]

BLESSING FROM PAIN

My mother and father were both previously married. I am the only child from their marriage together, though I have several half-brothers and sisters. Both my parents held jobs, though my mother, who worked full-time in a local factory, was the primary income earner. She was very protective of me, and, I now see, treated me more like an "it" than a boy. My father operated a small, independent business, but seemed more interested in fishing or going to the racetrack than in supporting the family. He was also an alcoholic. My relationship with him was, at best, distant. Though we occasionally went fishing together, I never felt comfortable in his presence. When he verbally or emotionally abused my mother, I hated his very existence. This was to later bear bitter fruit as I rejected the masculine that he represented. My maternal grandmother, who lived in the basement of our home, raised me.

Since birth I battled asthma attacks so severe that my mother and grandmother often had to take me to the hospital weekly. When I entered school I quickly discovered I was somehow different from the boys in my class. They played with other boys while I found myself primarily in the company of girls. While I knew I was biologically a male, I never felt comfortable around members of my own sex. Because of this inability to develop normal friendships I used my asthma as an excuse not to attend school (I was out 46 days during my first school year alone). This further hindered my ability to bond with other males.

When I was six, an older male involved me in homosexual behavior which continued until I was fifteen. I accepted this quite readily, because, for the first time in my life, I was receiving attention and affirmation from another male. I quickly learned to associate sex with love and love with sex. I came to believe that to have a relationship with another male, I had to have sex with him. Soon homosexual behavior became the focal point of my thoughts and desires and I eventually abandoned any attempt to develop non-sexual relationships with other males.

Homosexual relationships brought a very brief sense of acceptance, but I sank into depression and self-hatred which were intensified by the taunts of male peers starting as early as the fifth or sixth grade. I felt caught between the only means of receiving male affirmation I knew, and society's hostility toward and God's disapproval of homosexual behavior.

At fourteen, I was baptized, though I had not accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I believed that once I was baptized my homosexual thoughts/tendencies would leave. They did not, and I felt disillusioned with God and Christianity. I reasoned, "God is either not able to deliver me from these thoughts/feelings or He simply doesn't care enough about me to help." I stopped attending church and began a ten-year period of extreme promiscuity, alcohol, and drugs. I sought after music, movies, and anything else that glorified Satan, who began to fill the spiritual void that existed in my life. I had an intense hatred for everyone who held beliefs opposing homosexuality and would fantasize about killing those I thought of as opponents.

When I was seventeen I began supplementing my sexual encounters with pornography which soon became an all-consuming, out-of-control monster. More and more was required for stimulation and "soft" porn was replaced by more graphic and even violent material. I masturbated to pornography up to five times a day while continuing my substance abuse, all to deaden the pain that was in my life. My appetite for homosexual encounters continued to intensify until I was involved with several different men a week. While the threat of AIDS was very real, the desire for the "love" and "affirmation" I felt was so powerful that I was willing to take any risk for that sexual encounter.

I began viewing every man as a potential sexual conquest. I could "have" this man, at least in my mind, and he could do nothing about it. I would literally imagine myself having sex with every man I met. The lust was so intense that at times it was unbearable; it was also unquenchable.

When I was nineteen I placed an ad in the local gay and lesbian newsletter, looking for a mate. I met and dated a very nice man, introduced him to my family (they accepted our relationship without debate), and, after some time, we found a place, moved in together, and eventually "married" at a local gay-affirming church we attended. We had everything the gay community said would make us happy: a "spouse", complete acceptance from both our families, money, and our respective budding careers. Yet I kept asking myself, "Is this it?" Before long I even considered secretly having sex with other men to find this "something" that was missing from my life. I continued to use pornography, but it no longer brought me any satisfaction.

I left the church which "married" us, looking for something "more." I found another church (gay affirming, of course) where I heard enough of the gospel to call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in faith and be saved. The Holy Spirit put a very strong desire in me to know Christ, and I began to study the Scriptures very seriously with a fervent desire to please Him through obedience to His Word.

My life started to change, and during this time of Bible study and prayer I began to ask myself, "Is homosexual behavior a sin?" Initially, I had a very difficult time accepting what the Bible said about homosexuality. I was still living with my lover and we were still having homosexual relations. As the light of the Holy Spirit continued to increase in my heart and mind, I came under conviction and sex no longer brought any satisfaction but rather feelings of guilt and shame. I destroyed a very expensive collection of pornographic videos and stopped visiting "adult" bookstores. I became concerned for my lover's salvation but it seemed that as I became stronger in the Lord, he withdrew further into the world. He soon stopped attending church altogether.

At this time I learned of a ministry named "CrossOver" through a radio program, "Talk Net" with Bob Larson. I wrote the director, Jerry Leach, several times over a two-year period. He demonstrated nothing but the love of God in his letters. Then my lover and I ended our relationship and I began attending CrossOver's weekly meetings seeking freedom from homosexuality.

All went well until the fall of 1996 when something I never thought possible happened—I relapsed and had sex with another man. For the next thirteen months I engaged in sexual behavior on a regular basis. Trying to live the double life of Christian/homosexual brought me a literal hell-on-earth existence! I even prayed to die, though my heart had grown so dark I no longer knew whether or not I would go to heaven.

God is so faithful! He continued working in my life and brought me out of the darkness into His marvelous light. He used my failure to begin breaking me of pride and revealed His love and grace to me as never before. The blood of Christ covered all my sins. He again freed me from homosexual behavior and pornography. I've come to recognize that homosexuality, at its core, is not about sex but about a breakdown (either real or perceived) in relationships between a child and members of the same sex. As I drew closer to the Lord and to godly men He placed in my life, my intense homosexual desires decreased and my feelings toward women have changed so dramatically that I can now envision a time, as God ordains, of marriage. I truly believe the Lord is preparing me for such an event. My dad and I have reconciled and I now enjoy our times together. While he is still a non-believer, God has helped him stop drinking and he is attending a church. The starvation for love when I was a child, which I tried to meet through sex with other men, is now being met through God and those He has brought into my life.

I have also sensed a special call of God on my life. I am now a student in seminary with the goal of eventual ordination to the Christian ministry. I have a powerful desire to share what God has given me with others who struggle as I once did and, to that end, am starting an HA chapter in my area. Pray for me and for those God will send my way—that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ will be glorified in continuing to set the captives free!

--Daniel S.

POINTS TO PONDER

"Life is a constant struggle. It is the story of how each person copes with the difficulties and challenges which arise. It is important to work hard, have faith, patience and persevere in overcoming odds. It is important to build relationships on the principles of love, loyalty and honor. Life, for me, is about giving. If by one small act I can make someone happy, it brightens up my day." [Benazir Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan in The Most Important Thing I Know, p. 55]

"To be under pressure is inescapable. Pressure takes place through all the world: war, siege, and the worries of state. We all know men who grumble under these pressures and complain. They are cowards. They lack splendor. But there is another sort of man who is under the same pressure, but does not complain. For it is the friction which polishes him. It is pressure which refines and makes him noble." [St. Augustine in David Ogilvy, Ogilvy on Advertising, p. 51]

"Some of my fondest memories in sport were a result of failure, injuries, setbacks, or mistakes. I learned far more about myself and gained more character in those difficult times than I ever did when success came easily." [Peter Vidmar, Olympic Gold Medalist, Gymnastics in The Most Important Thing I Know, p. 22]

"The labors of the farm do not seem strange to the farmer; the storm at sea is not unexpected by the sailor; sweat causes no wonder to the hired laborer; and so to those who have chosen to live the life of piety the afflictions of this world are not unforeseen. Nay, to each of the aforesaid is joined a labor that is appropriate and well known to those who share it—a labor that is not chosen for its own sake, but for the enjoyment of expected blessings. For hopes, which hold and weld together man's entire life, give consolation for the hardships which fall to the lot of each of these." [St. Basil the Great in Steps, Vol. 10, No. 4, p. 16]

"Oh, what I owe to the file, to the hammer, to the furnace of my Lord Jesus.... Why should I start at the plow of my Lord, that maketh deep furrows on my soul? I know that He is no idle Husbandman: He purposeth a crop." [Samuel Rutherford, "Letters," in E. Margaret Clarkson, Grace Grows Best in Winter, p. 67]

SMILE!

It’s possible to be in recovery and still have a good laugh! Not only is it possible, it is beneficial. While one can fail to be serious about his or her recovery and be miserable, one can also be so serious they are always unhappy!

Here are some actual sentences found in patients’ hospital charts which may make you wonder next time you have to go to the hospital.

1. On the second day the knee was better, and on the third day it disappeared.

2. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.

3. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.

4. Discharge status: Alive but without my permission.

5. The patient refused autopsy.

6. While in ER, she was examined, X-rated and sent home.

7. The skin was moist and dry.

8. Occasional, constant, infrequent headaches.

9. Patient was alert and unresponsive.

10. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life, until she got a divorce.

11. I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.

12. Skin: somewhat pale but pre-sent.

13. Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.

14. The patient has no previous history of suicides.

15. The patient’s medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40-pound weight gain in the past three days.

--Bruce A., Norman, OK

POINTS TO PONDER

“God usually takes believers through a process of testing and maturing their faith, a process which shows the reality of His work in their hearts.... The trials force us to confront questions like ‘Who is God?’ and ‘What do I want?’ in real-life situations. When we persevere in faith, in spite of the pressures to bail out, we see that our hearts are genuinely committed to God.... A trial in the biblical sense tests our faith and our disposition toward God and His promises. Over time, our choices show whether the gospel really means anything to us.” [Ron Julian, Righteous Sinners, p. 27-28]

“Christ is building His Kingdom with earth’s broken things.... Heaven is filling with earth’s broken lives, and there is no bruised reed that Christ cannot take and restore to glorious blessedness and beauty.” [J. R. Miller in Pulpit Helps, (June 2002), p. 11]

“Something of defeat, something of tragedy, can be a sacrament because it stops us and causes us to look deeper.” [Kathleen Dowling Singh in Guideposts, (September 2002), p. 11]

“It is a fact of Christian experience that life is a series of troughs and peaks. In his efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, God relies on the troughs more than the peaks. And some of his special favorites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else.” [Peter Marshall in Marshall Shelley, Well Intentioned Dragons, p. 133]

HE'S GOT IT!

So many people fail to work this step and so work their recovery complaining instead of rejoicing! When someone has been truly working the steps, while there are tough times, the overall result is joy, not grief! Consider this letter from a man in the Traverse City, Michigan, chapter:

"I've finished Lord, Set Me Free! and it has really proved to be a wonderful blessing to me. I've started it again because I don't believe a person ever really finishes it. It has been so much fun going over it again and reading all my old notes and journal pages. I can see I've grown some since I started the program and I still have a lot of growing ahead, but isn't it so fun to be growing? I think it is. Thanks so much for all your hard work in putting this material together.... The material is wonderful.

“…I'm praying that HAFS will continue to be the tool Jesus has in mind to use, and that HAFS will grow to meet His plans for a hurting world. Only Jesus knows how badly HAFS is needed to share his love to a sick and dying world. There is life beyond the homosexual struggle, and that life is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Growing in Jesus, (and it's fun), David P."

Are you delighting in your recovery? Are you having fun as you see growth and new freedom in your life? Is Christ becoming ever more precious to you? If so, you're working your program and reaping its benefits. If not, why not begin in earnest to do what this Bible-based program tells you needs to be done to experience godly joy and liberty. Why not begin today?

--John J.

POINTS TO PONDER

Count your blessings

instead of your crosses;

Count your gains

instead of your losses.

Count your joys

instead of your woes;

Count your friends

instead of your foes.

Count your smiles

instead of your tears;

Count your courage

instead of your fears.

Count your full years

instead of your lean;

Count your kind deeds

instead of your mean.

Count your health

instead of your wealth;

Count on God

instead of yourself. [Unknown from Gary Y., Salem, IN.]

IS YOUR HUT BURNING?

"The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.

"Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of drift-wood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions.

"But one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. he worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. 'God, how could you do this to me?' he cried.

"Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. 'How did you know I was here?' asked the weary man of his rescuers. 'We saw your smoke signal,' they replied.

"It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad. But we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering. Remember, the next time your little hut is burning to the ground it just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God."

--Author Unknown, Contributed by Gary Y.

POINTS TO PONDER

“The sweetest songs often come from broken hearts.” [Old Union Reminder in Pulpit Helps, (March 2004), p. 6]

“I will always regard it as an example of God’s great mercy and inexhaustible creativity that so unpromising a creature [as I] might begin to turn her life to the good. And not only that: the very things that had gotten me into such irredeemable messes were the instruments of my conversion.” [Kathleen Norris, The Virgin of Bennington quoted in Richard A. Kauffman, “Discovering God,” Christianity Today, (April 2005), p. 92]

“We need affliction to humble us (Deut. 8:2), to teach us what sin is (Zeph. 1:12), to bring us to God (Hosea 5:125). ‘Affliction is the diamond dust that heaven polishes its jewels with,’ wrote Robert Leighton. Let us view God’s rod of affliction as His means to write Christ’s image more fully upon us so that we may be partakers of His...holiness (Heb. 12:10-11). Let our afflictions move us to walk by faith, and to wean us from the world.... May we...allow affliction to elevate our souls to heaven and pave our way to glory (2 Cor. 4:7).” [Joel R. Beeke, “Introduction,” The Beauties of Ebenezer Erskine, p. xx]

“Someone asked me recently if I didn’t think God was unfair, allowing me to have Parkinson’s and other medical problems when I have tried to serve Him faithfully. I replied that I did not see it that way at all. Suffering is part of the human condition, and it comes to us all. The key is how we react to it, either turning away from God in anger and bitterness or growing closer to Him in trust and confidence.” [Billy Graham in Russ Busby, Billy Graham: God’s Ambassador, p. 242]

JOY!

“While sitting in my backyard one evening, I heard a robin singing merrily from atop a TV aerial. As I listened to him sing, I preached myself a sermon:

“’Since early dawn, that bird has done nothing but try to survive. He’s been wearing himself out hiding from enemies and looking for food for himself and his little ones. And yet, when he gets to the end of the day, he sings about it!

“’Here I am, created in the image of God and saved by the grace of God, and I complain about even the little annoyances of life. One day, I will be like the Lord Jesus Christ; for that reason alone, I should be singing God’s praises just like that robin.’” [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Satisfied, p. 29-30]

POINTS TO PONDER

“God weeps with us so that we may someday laugh with him.” [Jurgen Moltmann quoted in Philip Yancey, “God Behind Barbed Wire,” Christianity Today, (September 2005), p. 120]

GOD KNOWS BEST

Our Father tests us often

With suffering and with sorrow,

He tests us, not to punish us,

But to help me meet tomorrow...

For growing trees are strengthened

When they withstand the storm,

And the sharp cut of the chisel

Gives the marble grace and form...

God never hurts us needlessly,

And He never wastes our pain,

For every loss He sends to us

Is followed by rich gain...

[Laura Ann Majors]

Two shoe salesmen were sent to Africa to open up a new market. Three days after their arrival, the first salesman sent a cablegram: “Returning home on next plane. Can’t sell shoes here. Everybody goes barefoot.”

Nothing was heard from the second salesman for about two weeks. And then there came a fat airmail envelope with this message for the home office. “Fifty orders enclosed. Prospects unlimited. Nobody here has shoes!”

Which viewpoint is yours?

“If doing God’s will is all that counts for you, then no matter what the rest of life brings, you can find joy.” [Vernon C. Lyons in Inspiring Quotations: Contemporary & Classical, p. 103]

POINTS TO PONDER

“If sex is for marriage, what does the Bible say about singleness? First, it reminds us that Jesus himself was single, although he is also set before us as God’s model for humanness.

“This should not lead us to glorify singleness (since marriage is God’s general will for human beings, Gn. 2:18) but rather to affirm that it is possible to be single and fully human at the same time! The world may say that sexual experience is indispensable to being human; the Bible flatly disagrees.

“Secondly, both Jesus and his apostle Paul refer to singleness as a divine vocation for some (Mt. 19:10-12; 1 Cor. 7:7). Paul adds that both marriage and singleness are a charisma, a gift of God’s grace.

“Thirdly, Paul indicates that one of the blessings of singleness is that it releases people to give their ‘undivided devotion’ to the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 7:32-35).

“The truth is: although unmarried people may find their singleness lonely (and at times acutely so), we will not end up in neurotic turmoil is we accept God’s will for our lives. Unhappiness comes only if we rebel against his will.” [John R. W. Stott, “Let’s Talk About Sex,” In Touch, (1993, no. 2), p. 3]

“Instead of bemoaning singleness, unmarried folks should seize the opportunity to live life to its fullest. Besides, if you want to attract a mate, you are much more likely to succeed if you are happy than if you are desperate.... If you are single longing for marriage, you need to entrust that yearning to God....while doing good works, sharing His message and caring for people.” [Dave Meurer, “The Grass Is Always Greener,” Focus on the Family, (February/March 2004), p. 21]

“Live every day like it’s your last, ‘cause one day you’re gonna be right.” [Ray Charles in Esquire quoted in Reader’s Digest, (January 2004), p. 63]

“Every temptation is an opportunity of our getting nearer to God.” [J. Q. Adams]

“Not till we have become humble and teachable, standing in awe of God’s holiness and sovereignty..., acknowledging our own littleness, distrusting our own thoughts and willing to have our minds turned upside down, can divine wisdom become ours.” [J. I. Packer, Knowing God, p. 101]

“There are only two things that pierce the human heart, wrote Simone Weil. One is beauty. The other is affliction.” [Brent Curtis and John Eldredge, The Sacred Romance, p. 23]

"I wish that as a child I had understood that the Bible does not contain the phrase, 'And they all lived happily ever after.'" [Dale Hanson Bourke, Turn Toward the Wind: Embracing Change in Your Life, p. 11]

“Like life, few gardens have only flowers.” [Pulpit Helps, (January 2002), p. 9]

"The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain." [Dolly Parton quoted in Bits and Pieces, (Vol. M, No. 1), p. 17]

“Tucked away in a quiet corner of every life are wounds and scars. If they were not there, we would need no physician. Nor would we need one another." [Charles Swindoll, Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life, p. 78]

Trials make the promise sweet;

Trials give new life to prayer;

Trials bring me to His feet,

Lay me low, and keep me there.

[Unknown in David M. M'Intyre, The Hidden Life of Prayer, p. 83]

"In my deepest wound I saw your glory, and it dazzled me." [St. Augustine quoted in Verdell David, "Glimpses of God," Life-Wise, (September 1999), p. 20]

"When we want to be something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy. Those Divine demands which sound to our natural ears most like those of a despot and least like those of a lover, in fact marshal us where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted." [C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p. 47]

"Ask of God, not deliverance from your pains, but strength to bear resolutely, for the love of Him, all that He should please, and as long as He shall please." [Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God, p. 72]

"...Temptation....is a...'calling card' from our Lover, to remind us that we are not alone and that we cannot make it on our own. We need Him and His grace or we will surely mess up." [Bill Volkman, "Discovery Your Destiny in Adversity," Union Life, (January/ February 1997), p. 5]

“The greatest gain in the world is godliness; it hath the promises of this life, and of that which is to come. Whatsoever drops out of any promise of the Gospel, falls into the lap of a godly man; the promises are his, and, therefore the good of the promise is his. When the promises open at any time and give forth their virtue, they must needs give it forth to him that is wise, to him that is godly; for godliness hath the promises. When the apostle had rebuked a sort of men that made godliness only a stalking-horse to get gain, he presently adds, ‘but godliness is great gain, if a man be content with what he hath.’ Godliness itself is great gain, if we have no more; but godliness brings in gain, abundance of gain, besides itself. (Matt. vi.35,) ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added,’ or cast in, as an advantage ‘unto you.’” [Joseph Caryl, Bible Thoughts, p. 203-204]

“When I face the commandments of God, do I resent them? Do I feel that God is imposing an impossible load on me? Do I groan and grumble and say, ‘Oh, this hard taskmaster who asks of me the impossible!’? ‘If that is your attitude towards the commandments of God,’ says John [I John 5:2,3], ‘you are not keeping them, and neither are you loving God, and you are not loving your brethren—you are outside the life altogether.’ For someone who is truly Christian does not find the commandments of God to go against the grain. He may be acutely aware of his failure—if he is facing them truly he must be—but he does not resent them, he loves them. He knows they are right, and he wants to keep them and to love them. He does not feel they are a heavy load imposed upon him; he says rather, ‘This is right; that is how I would like to live. I want to be like Christ Himself—His commandments are not grievous.’” [D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Life in God: Studies in 1 John, p. 31]

Step 4

We came to believe

that God

had already broken the power of

homosexuality

and that He could therefore restore

our true personhood.

WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?”


When one takes a serious look as his or her life, many find such an exercise to be a time of joy, a time to count victories won, to see progress made, and to take courage as they face fresh challenges.

Others do not have such a happy experience. They look back on life and see little progress toward their goals, failure in their struggles, and feel despair as they think of the future. Having been unable to solve the problems of the past, they feel they have no strength with which to face the challenges of the future. Satan fires his big guns of condemnation, sin, law, and death, and they feel mortally wounded and are tempted to throw up their hands and sob, “What’s the use?”

If that should be your feeling, Step 4 is the step on which you must concentrate! “We came to believe that God had already broken the power of homosexuality and that He could therefore restore our true personhood.”

At first sight those words may seem to mock you, but please take the time to see what they mean and how they can help you.

Homosexuality is not, of course, the only battle with sin that people have to fight. Others have other struggles and we can learn from their battles how we can enter into the victory that Christ has won for us.

“Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1100, wrote a tract for the consolation of the dying who were alarmed on account of sin. The following is an extract from it. ‘Question. Dost thou believe that the Lord Jesus died for thee? Answer. I believe it. Question. Dost thou thank him for his passion and death? Ans. I do thank him. Question. Dost thou believe that thou canst not be saved except by his death? Ans. I believe it.’ And then Anselm addresses the dying man: ‘Come then, while life remaineth in thee; in his death alone place thy whole trust; in naught else place any trust; to his death commit thyself wholly; with this alone cover thyself wholly; and if the Lord thy God will to judge thee, say, “Lord, between thy judgment and me I present the death of our Lord Jesus Christ; no otherwise can I contend with thee.” And if he shall say that thou art a sinner, say thou: “Lord, I interpose the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my sins and thee.” If he say that thou hast deserved condemnation, say: “Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my evil deserts and thee, and his merits I offer for those which I ought to have and have not.” If he say that he is wroth with thee, say: “Lord, I oppose the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between thy wrath and me.” And when thou hast completed this, say again, “Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between thee and me”’...” [Augustus Hopkins Strong, Systematic Theology, p. 849]

Not only does Christ’s death satisfy the justice of God for all out sins, but His righteousness gives us full acceptance with God! “For as by one man’s (Adam’s) disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one (Christ) shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). “After serving a term in the penitentiary, the convict goes out with a stigma upon him and with no friends. His past conviction and disgrace follow him. He cannot obtain employment. He cannot vote. Want often leads him to commit crime again; and then the old conviction is brought up as proof of bad character, and increases his punishment.... But the justified sinner is differently treated. He is not only delivered from God’s wrath and eternal death, but he is admitted into God’s favor and eternal life. The discovery of this is partly the cause of the convert’s joy. Expecting pardon, at most, he is met with unmeasured favor. The prodigal finds the father’s house and heart open to him, and more done for him than if he had never wandered. This overwhelms and subdues him.” [ibid., p. 857]

Augustus Toplady (1740-1778) is best known for his famous hymn Rock of Ages. Hear these other words he wrote:

From whence this fear and unbelief?

Hast Thou, O Father, put to grief

Thy spotless Son for me?

And will the righteous Judge of men

Condemn me for that debt of sin,

Which, Lord, was laid on Thee?

If Thou hast my discharge procured,

And freely in my room endured

The whole of wrath divine,

Payment God cannot twice demand,

First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,

And then again at mine.

Complete atonement Thou hast made,

And to the utmost farthing paid

What’er thy people owed;

How then can wrath on me take place

If sheltered in Thy righteousness

And sprinkled with Thy blood?

Turn, then, my soul, unto thy rest;

The merits of thy great High-priest

Speak peace and liberty;

Trust in His efficacious blood,

Nor fear thy banishment from God,

Since Jesus died for thee!

Fight the good fight of faith! Spike Satan’s guns of condemnation and law with the blood and righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ!

And lest you grow discouraged as you battle sin and Satan remember that this is a battle which every Christian is fighting. Listen to the words of the old Heidelberg Catechism: “Question 56. What believest thou concerning “the forgiveness of sins?” Answer. That God, for the sake of Christ’s satisfaction, will no more remember my sins, neither my corrupt nature, against which I have to struggle all my life long, but will graciously impute to me the righteousness of Christ, that I may never be condemned before the tribunal of God.”

As you think over the last year, remember the wise words of a great Christian, C. S. Lewis: "We may, indeed, be sure that perfect chastity—like perfect charity—will not be attained by any merely human efforts. You must ask for God's help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need is being given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of trying again. For however important chastity (or courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue) may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul that are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection." [Mere Christianity, p. 86]

Remember, you are fighting an enemy Christ defeated at the cross. Sin can tempt you, trouble you, torment you, even trip you up at times, but it is no longer your master and you are no longer its slave. You belong to Jesus Christ and He has set and is setting you free! "There must be a constant and increasing appreciation that though sin still remains it does not have the mastery. There is a total difference between surviving sin and reigning sin, the regenerate in conflict with sin and the unregenerate complacent to sin.... It is of paramount concern for the Christian...that he should know that sin does not have dominion over him, that the forces of redeeming, regenerative, and sanctifying grace have been brought to bear upon him..., that he is the habitation of God through the Spirit, and that Christ has been formed in him the hope of glory. This is equivalent to saying that he must reckon himself to be dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ his Lord." [John Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied, p. 145-146]

Ponder these words: “In the worship service Sunday, Jim told about the hen who had been tied to a post in the casita. After Jim freed her, she seemed unaware that she could move about. Though hungry and thirsty, she stayed where she had been chained. Many things can be chains binding us, but we need to recognize our freedom and exercise it. Let my focus be on You, Lord, on what You have done rather than on my own failings and inabilities to make things right.” [Sarah Hornsby, Who I Am in Jesus, p. 36-37]

“...‘Sin shall not have dominion over you.’ It may for a moment triumph, as it did in David, in Peter, and in a host of other eminently holy men; yet still the promise is verified—as we see in the restoring of the blessed Spirit in their spirit and conduct, in their humblings and confessions, and holy and upright walk with God in after years—‘sin shall not have dominion over you.’” [Octavius Winslow, The Work of the Holy Spirit, p. 77]

Remember, Christ, your life, did not die because you are having a difficult time! Look away from sin and weakness to Him! "Jesus is the representative man for his people. The head has triumphed, and the members share in the victory. While a man's head is above the water you cannot drown his body." [Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit XII, p. 263]

Work through Step 4 in your HA workbook, Lord, Set Me Free! If you’ve done it once, do it again. Be sure to do the assignment, “How To Work This Step” at the end of the chapter. Read the material in Experience, Strength and Hope on this step. Remember, this is a relational problem you are struggling with. That means you can’t do it alone and you can’t expect God to set you free from the need to learn to give and receive love from others. So begin to open up to trustworthy people about your struggles and ask them for help.

Above all, keep at it until you experience all that Christ died that you might have. Don’t let the world, the flesh, and/or the devil cheat you out of it!

--John J.

POINTS TO PONDER

"No one's so good that he can save himself; no one's so bad that God can't save him." [Croft M. Pentz in Pulpit Helps, (February 2000), p. 18]

“’You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free’ (John 8:32). Good feelings will not free us. Ecstatic experience will not free us. Getting ‘high on Jesus’ will not free us. Without a knowledge of the truth we will not be free.... Many are hampered and confused in the spiritual walk by a simple ignorance of the truth. Worse yet, many have been brought into the most cruel bondage by false teaching.” [Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline, p. 63]

“Mystical experience without moral commitment is false religion.” [John R. W. Stott, True Wisdom, (Chicago Sunday Evening TV Club, 1982)]

Two ways to deal with temptation: "When Ulysses came near the sirens on his wanderings and his ship was likely to be drawn into the whirlpool, he had himself and his fellow sailors bound to the mast so that they might resist the bewitching music. But on another occasion they had Orpheus play his lyre, and that sweet music made the mariners deaf to the beguiling and seducing music of the sirens." [Clarence Edward Macartney, Facing Life and Getting the Best of It, p.26]

"The intellect is the soul's navigator, but the will is its captain." [Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics, p. 31]

"God promises a safe landing but not a calm passage." [Pulpit Helps, (January 2000), p. 16]

"It strikes me that conflict is the principal feature of the Christian life this side of heaven." [Charles Spurgeon's Little Instruction Book, p. 109]

"'Christ in me' means something quite different from the weight of an impossible ideal, something far more glorious than the oppression of a pattern for ever beyond all imitation. 'Christ in me' means power that carries me on, Christ giving my whole life a wonderful poise and lift, and turning every burden into wings. All this is in it when the apostle speaks of 'Christ in you, the hope of glory.' Compared with this, the religion which bases everything on example is pitifully rudimentary. This, and this alone, is the true Christian religion. Call it mysticism or not—the name matters little: the thing, the experience, matters everything. To be 'in Christ,' to have Christ within, to realize your creed not as something you have to bear but as something by which you are borne, this is Christianity. It is more: it is release and liberty, life with an endless song in its heart. It means feeling within you, as long as life here lasts, the carrying power of Love Almighty; and underneath you, when you come to die, the touch of everlasting arms." [James S. Stewart, A Man in Christ: The Vital Elements of St. Paul's Religion, p. 169-170]

THE VOICE

It's a question I have asked myself a thousand times. Robert, why is it when you land yourself a hot man, you are unable to enjoy him in peace? In the heat of passion, you hear a voice calling you away from it all.

Then one day, as I was chilling on the beach with Champ, my German Shepherd, things began to make sense.

I first saw Champ walking along the highway during a hot summer day in a bad section of New York City. He was dirty, dehydrated and limping along the street, coming within inches of being hit by passing cars. As I peered in my rearview mirror and saw his helpless situation, I couldn't help but love him instantly. I pulled over and invited him into my car with some peanut butter crackers I had on hand.

Champ came home to live with me. When I took him to the veterinarian for an exam, she told me Champ had been wild for some time, possibly all his life, and that he might not take well to being domesticated.

She was right. For three months, he was the epitome of nastiness, disobedience and rebellion. However, one evening, as I brought Champ his food and sat down next to him, as was our nightly ritual, he turned to me and licked my face. Finally, I had earned his trust and he accepted me as his master.

The following spring, I brought Champ to the Jersey shore with me. I wanted to show him the ocean and let him run on the beach. No one was around and, since we were miles away from traffic, I let him off his leash to explore.

Our day was going well. I was watching the waves while Champ was chasing seagulls and playing tag with the tide. Then, from behind us came a pack of three wild dogs. I thought they were going to attack us, but, instead, I saw Champ running toward them. The four of them sniffed and Champ turned away from me to run off with the pack.

All I could remember were the vet's words that Champ had been wild for some time, possibly all his life, and he might not take well to being domesticated. Great. As soon as I grew to love this dog, his instinct to be wild kicked in, and he took off to live the life that was instinctive to him.

As I watched the group of now four dogs scurry off down the beach, I gave a final yell and called out Champ, come back. In the distance, I saw three figures gradually getting smaller and one seemingly larger. It was my Champ. He turned around and he came back to me. I was a cluck not to have seen the lesson earlier.

I had never domesticated the other three dogs, and they never accepted me as their master. However, Champ and I had a history together. He remembered how his life was before we had met. He recognized and practiced my authority over him and he obeyed me. He knew that, although the pack would always be a part of him and a temptation to him, that love, security, companionship and a home could be found with me. He also knew that I would take care of his needs. He did not have such a guarantee running wild with the pack.

Champ heard his master's call and was unable to ignore it. Yes, Jesus. Now I get it. I finally understand why everyone else can have a blast in the gay life but me. Not all men recognize You as their Master. They are free and answer to no one but themselves. But, You invited me out of the wild and domesticated me. And just as I trained Champ to live in a human's house, You are training me to live in the Father's house.

I'm sure when I called out Champ's name to come back to me, my voice must have blended with the chirps of the gulls and the crashing of the waves to the other three dogs. But not to my Champ. He recognized that faint, barely audible plea as the voice of one who cared enough to give him another shot at life, and so he walked away from the pack and he turned away from instinct to follow his master.

And I hear YOU, Master Jesus, whispering to my heart to turn away from instinct and stick with the One who loves me. That nagging voice in my heart that took all the joy out of my wild days...it was You, calling me to return home. And, while You sometimes had to put Your still, small voice aside and whip out a megaphone to reach me, I did hear You and I had no choice but to leave the wild and return home. Thank You for caring enough to call out after me. There's no place like home.

[Reprinted by permission of Buggin' Out! Newsletter]

POINTS TO PONDER

"Is there a conflict of sin and holiness in you?.. This very fact...is the charter of your salvation. Where the Holy Spirit is not, there conflict is not; sin rules undisputed lord over the life. That there is conflict in you, that you do not rest in complacency in your sin, is a proof that the Spirit of God is within you, leading you to holiness. And all who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God; and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.... Sin has a dreadful grasp upon us; we have no power to withstand it. But there enters our hearts a power not ourselves making for righteousness. This power is the Spirit of the most high God.... The victory is assured. The Holy Spirit within us cannot fail us. The way may be rough;...dangers, pit-falls are on every side. But the Holy Spirit is leading us. Surely, in that assurance, despite dangers and weakness, the panting chest and swimming head, we can find strength to go ever forward." [B. B. Warfield, The Person & Work of the Holy Spirit, p. 44 commenting on Romans 8]

"...We are all in bondage. We are slaves to our sins or to our fears, to our habits or to our anxieties; sometimes to our pleasures. Christ came to remove these shackles and set us free." [William Lyon Phelps, Human Nature and the Gospel, p. 45]

“To pray against temptation, and yet rush into occasions, is to thrust your fingers into the fire, and then pray they might not be burnt.” [Thomas Secker in Pulpit Helps, (December 2003), p. 25]

"Give Satan an inch and he'll be a ruler." [Pulpit Helps, (October 2000), p. 16]

VICTORY!

If you've never struggled with same-sex compulsion, the following may be difficult for you to understand. If you are struggling, we trust it will give you hope and the encouragement you need to work your program.

"I had a great victory Sunday night at work. An attractive young man just came up out of nowhere and propositioned me for sex. He was relentless, virtually begging for a sexual "fix", giving me all the reasons it would be good, mentioning places we could go, asking me when I had a break. He even lifted his shirt for me to see his excitement. And...

"I just said no. That's right! I did something I thought I would never be able to do. I made a decision, smiled, complimented his nice personality, and said, "No." He asked why. I said I had changed and he could to. He scoffed and was dumbfounded at the same time. I told him I would love to have a friendship with him, but no sex. He literally did not know what to do with that.

"Needless to say it was difficult to do this at the time, but it gave me so much excitement and such a good feeling about myself! Once, during the battle, I was able to go into the stockroom and say to myself, "No, I do not want to hurt my wife, my children, and myself!"

"The man hung around for quite a long time, as customers came and went. He questioned me and tried to tantalize me, but I was still enabled to say no.

"Yippee! That is a victory. This is a first big step of many more to come, and I am thankful to God for it. I was even able to tell the man it was nice to meet him when he left, and I'm praying he will come back to ask for help. Anyway, the seed is planted and I made a good decision to boot!"

--Jerry N.

POINTS TO PONDER

“On the one hand, believers are truly sinners. For as long as we live, our lives will show an innate tendency toward evil. Neither God nor our neighbor will get from us what they deserve. Even the most mature saints, in the golden years of their walk with God, can succumb in a flash to their petty, selfish, destructive tendencies.… On the other hand, there is something truly right about the children of God. The hearts of believers are ‘good’ in a way that unbelievers aren’t. That goodness consists in their willingness to accept the difficult truths about God. The gospel confronts all of us with fundamental questions about life. Among the most important are:

· Who am I? (I am an evil person who deserves God’s wrath.)

· Who is God? (He is the Creator God who really exists, the One who is good and merciful and trustworthy above all others.)

· What do I want? (I want to be freed from the curse that is on this world: the death, the separation from God, the evil around me, the evil within me, and the suffering all this brings).”

[Ron Julian, Righteous Sinners, p. 26-27]

OUR THINKING vs. GOD'S PROMISES!

We often indulge in what AA calls "stinking thinking". For each negative thought God has a definite answer. Think about it!

We say: "It's impossible!"

God says: "All things are possible" (Luke 18:27)

We say: "I'm too tired."

God says: "I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28-30)

We say: "Nobody really loves me."

God says: "I love you" (John 3:16; 13:34).

We say: "I can't figure things out."

God says: "I will direct your steps" (Proverbs 3:5-6)

We say: "I can't do it."

God says: "You can do all things through Christ" (Philippians 4:13).

We say: "I am not able."

God says: "I am able" (II Corinthians 9:8).

We say: "It's not worth it."

God says: "It will be worth it" (Romans 8:28).

We say: "I can't forgive myself."

God says: "I forgive you" (I John 1:9; Romans 8:1).

We say: "I can't manage."

God says: "I will supply all your needs" (Philippians 4:19).

We say: "I'm afraid."

God says, "I have not given you a spirit of fear" (II Timothy 1:7).

We say: "I'm always worried and frustrated."

God says: "Cast all your cares on Me" (I Peter 5:7).

We say: I don't have enough faith."

God says: "I am your wisdom" (I Corinthians 1:30).

We say: "I feel all alone."

God says: "I will never leave you or forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).

--Gloria Zwinggi

[Reprinted with permission from Awakening, (September 1999), p. 3-4]

VICTORY WON!

Often people think the 14 Steps are some new formula devised to help homosexual people find freedom. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The 14 Steps are drawn from Scripture and crystallize biblical truth which men and women struggling with homosexuality need to make a part of themselves in order to find the freedom they desire. Consider how these words of the great nineteenth century preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, set forth the truth of Step 4.

"...Jesus....has conquered every foe that obstructed thy way. Cheer up...thou faint-hearted warrior. Not only has Christ traveled the road, but He has slain thine enemies. Dost thou dread sin? He has nailed it to His cross. Dost thou fear death? He has been the death of Death. Art thou afraid of hell? He has barred it against the advent of any of His children; they shall never see the gulf of perdition. Whatever foes may be before the Christian, they are all overcome. There are lions, but their teeth are broken; there are serpents, but their fangs are extracted; there are rivers, but they are bridged or fordable; there are flames, but we wear the matchless garment which renders us invulnerable to fire. The sword that has been forged against us is already blunted; the instruments of war which the enemy is preparing have already lost their point. God has taken away in the person of Christ all the power that anything can have to hurt us.

"Well then, the army may safely march on, and you may go joyously along your journey, for all your enemies are conquered beforehand. What shall you do but march on to take the prey? They are beaten, they are vanquished; all you have to do is to divide the spoil. You shall, it is true, often engage in combat; but your fight shall be with a vanquished foe. His head is broken; he may attempt to injure you, but his strength shall not be sufficient for his malicious design. Your victory shall be easy, and your treasure shall be beyond all count." [Morning and Evening: Daily Readings, p. 474]

POINTS TO PONDER

“...The gospel is not an invitation to sin with impunity, but rather a message of salvation from sin. Although believers still struggle mightily with sin, we do in fact struggle. No true believer could embrace sin as a friend.” [Ron Julian, Righteous Sinners, p. 172]

"The cure of the soul is not science, it's sanctification." [Mario Bergner, Redeemed Lives News, (Autumn 2001), p. 7]

"The best armor is to keep out of range." [Italian proverb in The Executive's Book of Quotations, p. 266]

"Goodness consists not in the outward things we do but in the inward things we are." [Edwin Hubbel Chapin in Les and Leslie Parrott, A Good Friend, p. 41]

“A grace that forgives us of sin but does not free us from sin is a grace not worth having.” [Tim Wilkins, The Cross Examiner, (2002. 6.3), p. 4]

“We are not called to be weaklings but warriors.” [Amy Carmichael, Candles in the Dark, p. 32]

POINTS TO PONDER

"...During twenty centuries he has been the inspiration of almost every reform that has been for the benefit of mankind. He has changed and reclaimed almost every kind of human weakness and sinfulness. He is the very symbol of the best we know. Someone has said that 'he has become entangled in our instincts.' Western civilization, with its amazing freedom, owes the best things in its life directly to him.... Today, as then, it is not he who is on trial, but ourselves.... What shall I do then about Jesus Christ?" [Samuel M. Shoemaker, "What Shall I Do with Him?", Protestant Hour Classics, p. 79]

“Healing and holiness are like two wings of an airplane: we need both to fly.” [Mario Bergner, “Pressing Questions about Homosexuality,” Redeemed Lives News, (Summer 2004), p. 4]

“The true Puritans believed works played no role in salvation, and their reputation for morality is only evidence that faith in Christ alone does bear fruit in good works.” [Gene Edward Veith, World, (November 20, 2004), p. 33]

“One reason many have never realized their bondage to sin may seem very paradoxical, but it is, nevertheless, very true. It is because they have never tried to get free. There is a yard where a dog is heavily chained. The dog, however, is fast asleep, and so he does not realize his bondage. Later on we may even notice the dog eating his food, still chained, but as the food is close to the kennel his chain is not irksome and he is thus still unconscious of his bondage. But soon comes the owner of the dog, who, forgetting the chain, calls the dog. The animal springs up, eager to reach his master. What happens then? All his efforts are vain and now for the first time he feels the irksomeness and restraint of his fetters. It is exactly similar with sin. Try to get free, and you feel your bondage.” [Dr. W. H. Griffith-Thomas]

“When the winds are strong and violent, the pilot lowers the sails and casts anchor. So, when we find ourselves assailed by any bad passion, we should always lower the sails; that is, we should avoid all the occasions which may increase the passion, and should cast anchor by uniting ourselves to God, and by begging of him to give us strength not to offend him.” [Alphonsus, Liguori, sermon quoted in The Quotable Saint, p. 192]

“Ambrose says...that the form of the cross is that of a sword with the point downward; above is the hilt toward heaven, as if in the hand of God; below is the point toward earth, as if thrust through the head of the old serpent the devil.” [J. C. Ryle, “John” II, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, p. 554]

“If you are writing a poem and the rhymes won’t come or the lines won’t fit you may cry, ‘Oh William Shakespeare, help me!’ and nothing whatever happens. If you’re feeling jittery you may think of some hero of the past, like Nelson, and say, ‘O Horatio Nelson, help me!’ But again there isn’t the slightest response. But if you’re trying to lead a Christian life and realize you’re coming to the end of your own moral strength and you cry, ‘O Christ, help me!’ something does happen, at once, just like that.” [J. B. Phillips, Plain Christianity, p. 69]

“Christianity is in its very essence a rescue religion.” [John R. W. Stott, The Authentic Jesus, p. 75}

“There are large numbers of people who...are seeking to commend themselves to God by their own works. They think it is noble to try to win their way to God and to heaven. But it is not noble; it is dreadfully ignoble. For, in effect, it is to deny both the nature of God and the mission of Christ. It is to refuse to let God be gracious. It is to tell Christ that he need not have bothered to die. For both the grace of God and the death of Christ become redundant, if we are masters of our own destiny and can save ourselves.” [John R. W. Stott, “The Message of Galatians,” The Bible Speaks Today, p. 66]

“Dick Russell had a Bible study group. An unsaved man, at the urging of his wife, joined the group and discovered he really liked the acceptance he found there and especially the prayer time. He realized even Christian men had serious issues to deal with in their lives, and week after week there were praises to God for answered prayer. No stranger to family problems, the man told Dick as he called one night, ‘You know, my son was shot in the eye with a pellet gun. And the damage on the retina seems to be threatening his eyesight. I’d like for you to pray, Dick, that God would restore his sight.’ And so he agreed with him and they began to pray.

“The next day, the doctor went in and discovered two cataracts, one on each eye, along with the damage in the retina. The fella was on his face before God as the doctor was doing his work. Then, lo and behold, when the gentleman came home from that surgery, their house had been burglarized. And things were in a turmoil. He called Dick. Again they prayed. The operation was a miraculous success. His son was fitted with contacts, and he had his eyesight back.

“Before long the phone rang again. Dick was asked to pray about another need. The fella’s daughter, hooked on heroin, was becoming destructive and breaking the windows and destroying the furniture in the home. He said to Dick, ‘You have no idea what it’s like to literally wrestle with your child and to pull her arms behind her back while the police snap handcuffs on and take her out of the house.’ That, by the way, led to harassment from the drug crowd that she was running with—motorcycle gangs and obscene phone calls and again attempted damage to the home. Just one breaking experience after another.

“And the fella stayed in this Bible study. Dick prayed with him about this impossible situation, growing in urgency, but unknown to the people he worked with. Just sort of a quiet burden he held onto. Finally, this led to the ultimate.

“There was one person in the family with whom he really felt close, his wife’s mother. And would you believe it, she had a heart attack. Just sort of an ultimate climax—a final blow.

“That evening, he came home from work, went upstairs to his room without a word, and closed the door. His wife, downstairs fixing supper, heard a noise, heard words. She went up and listened. She heard this man, broken, weeping, just dumping out to the Lord every ugly sin of his life and saying, ‘I’m spiritually bankrupt. I ask you now, Father, through Jesus Christ, to come into my life.’ And the wife, on the other side of the door, also wept, rejoicing at what God had done in this strange set of circumstances that broke that man to the place of submission and salvation. An answer to her own prayers for his salvation.” [Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart And 1,501 Other Stories, p. 499-500]

“Let a man go to a psychiatrist and what does he become? An adjusted sinner. Let a man go to a physician and what does he become? A healthy sinner. Let a man achieve wealth and what does he become? A wealthy sinner. Let a man join a church, sign a card, and turn over a new leaf and what does he become? A religious sinner. But let him go in sincere repentance and faith to the foot of Calvary’s cross, and what does he become? A new creature in Jesus Christ, forgiven, reconciled, with meaning and purpose in his life and on the way to marvelous fulfillment in God’s will.” [Inspiring Quotations: Contemporary & Classical, p 174]

Step 5

We came to perceive

that we had accepted a lie

about ourselves

an illusion

that had trapped us

in a false identity.

STRAIGHT FROM MY HEART


For twenty-five years I wrestled with homosexuality. I was not a gay-activist nor did I "practice" homosexuality. Nevertheless, I wrestled.

I was no stranger to you. Sunday after Sunday I worshipped with you and we talked together afterward. I sat next to you in chapel at Bible School, but you knew nothing of my deep, dark secret.

Lots of people have some vague idea of who the homosexual is. To them he is someone born with a weakness in this area who, probably in early teen years, made a "choice" to follow this way of life. What most people do not realize is that homosexuality is but the symptom of a virus that affects the minds of perfectly normal young boys.

Let me explain. When I speak of a "virus" I do not refer to an organism that we can examine under a microscope. I refer to an idea—a lie—that grips the minds of boys in their childhood. They are unconscious of its presence, just as anyone gripped by the flu is unaware of the precise moment it was contracted. Yet the results of this lie are just as apparent as are runny eyes and a stopped-up nose. That lie, coming under the category of self-doubt and low self-esteem, is this: "I am not really a man, nor will I likely ever be one."

This conclusion is first reached when the lad is very young and barely aware of adult "sex," let alone "sexual preference" (which is a misnomer). Psychologists have long told us that perfectly normal boys coming from families where the father is absent or cold and distant are susceptible to this virus. Why is this so?

Allow me to reconstruct my own childhood. To my parents was born a perfectly healthy baby boy. My mother welcomed the new responsibility with tremendous excitement, giving me more than my share of positive "strokes." A loving bond quickly formed. Dad, however, was frequently away for weeks at a time, making bonding tenuous and uncertain. As my world expanded, so did the loving female figures in my life: baby-sitters, schoolteachers, and Sunday school teachers with all their warmth and acceptance. But where were the men?

A child's thinking is egocentric. Not only do young children think only of themselves and their own needs; they also blame themselves when things go wrong in their world—even things over which they have no control, as is the case when parents divorce.

Sure enough, before long I started blaming myself for my father's long absences and the resulting ache they left in my heart. It was somehow my fault, I knew!

"Maybe it's something I do that upsets Daddy and makes him leave home," I reasoned. I'd solve that gladly by being a perfect angel! And I worked hard. Off and on Father would reappear only to disappear again. Each appearance assured me that "being good" had paid off and gained my father's approval. Each time he left I wondered, "Where did I fail to please Dad this time?" Adults can quickly see through the fallacies and immaturity of this reasoning—but in my young mind, this was gospel truth!

Fathers serve as a prototype in a child's mind of what to expect from all men. And since Father saw me as a failure (I thought), what reason was there to question that all men would see through me and recognize me as the failure that Dad saw? After all, it was women who gave me my strokes; thus far men had little time for me.

Finally I became exhausted with my efforts to become better and better behaved. In my heart I knew I'd done my best to please Dad, and still Dad hadn't come home to stay. And until he came home, I knew his absence was somehow my fault. Only one explanation seemed to be left: "If it is not something I do that offends Dad, then it must be something I am that disappoints him." So the race began to discover what it was that made me different, inferior to other boys.

At first I noticed the color of my hair—but Dad never seemed to mind that my hair was blonde. What about my build? Dad never mentioned anything negative about my being tall and lanky. There weren't any differences between me and other boys that really mattered to my dad that I could see...unless, maybe, that was it! At long last, I finally had my answer.

"Maybe it's not something I can see. I bet it's something I can't see! I bet the other boy's clothes conceal what it is that makes them so superior to me! I wish to God I had whatever it is that they have. Then Dad would love me."

Unbeknownst to me, I had just been bitten by a virus—the faulty conclusion that I was sexually inferior. It is that conclusion that leads untold numbers of boys into a futile, life-long search for the ultimate masculine genitalia. The world calls these men "gay."

You see, I, like many homosexuals, felt a great deal of neglect from my same-sex parent, tragically accepted full responsibility for the ache I experienced, and went about to determine the cause of that rejection armed only with the reasoning of a 4-, 5-, or 6-year-old.

One of my first hurdles in recovery was to realize that because of my sincere but faulty boyhood reasoning, I had been deceived. I did not have to any longer accept responsibility for my father's perceived rejection. Dad may not have known how to welcome and include me into the society we call manhood, but it certainly was not due to any lack sexually on my part. A great day of revelation came when I cracked open the door of my mind just far enough to allow one thought to enter: "Right this very moment I AM a man, and not at some future point in time when something profound happens to my genitalia or some man is able to make me feel a certain way."

I remember a second hurdle. I had things that led me to think my father rejected me apart from just his absences from home. "Surely," the thought persisted, "there must be something unacceptable about me or he would not have rejected me." It was then that I found special comfort in John 1:12,13: "But as many as received Him (Jesus Christ), to them gave He power (in the sense of right or authority) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

This meant that I was, first of all, God's son and that He took full responsibility for me. Had He ever failed to accept me? No. Never!

But what about the man to whom He had entrusted my care—my father? Where was God's love back there when I had so much needed it? Again, in Scripture, I found that God's love had been "shed abroad" (Romans 5:5) in my father's heart with the intent that it should be lavished on me. It was there and it was not God's fault if Dad, for whatever misguided reason, had shut the floodgates on this mighty river and allowed only trickles to reach my love-parched heart. No doubt his preoccupation with his own problems precluded his ability to see and deal with mine.

At the outset, I shared that for 25 years I wrestled with homosexuality. I would have expressed the same concept had I stated that "for 25 years I waited for my father to affirm my masculinity." Most boys have this need for affirmation met early in childhood by their fathers or by a father surrogate. However, for those of us who can only wish we'd experienced such an affirming relationship, there is healing. I no longer wait for Dad's approval. In Christ I find assurance and in Christ I know I am a man—and always was one.

I read recently that "there is no such thing as a 'homosexual,' only men and women, created by God heterosexually, who because of the broken world we live in, are confused over their sexual identity." I've found this to be true in my own life and now realize that homosexual acts are not the expression of anyone's true nature. Rather, homosexuality is the expression of confusion about one's sexual identity.

If you wrestle with homosexuality, as I did, what is needed is not a change of your nature, but rather a transformed mind that ends your confusion. And with the eradication of the "virus" what else can follow but straight thinking and perfect wholeness?

--J. M.

YOU HAVE GOOD REASON TO HOPE!

A recent booklet published by the Catholic Medical Association asks the question, “How effective is therapy for SSA (same-sex attraction?)” The answer? “The effectiveness rate is similar to those for other addictive or chronic disorders such as depression, substance abuse, or smoking. Studies in motivated patients have shown that 30% of those with SSA experience a freedom from SSA fantasies and behaviors, and another 30% experience an improvement in reducing unwanted same-sex attractions. A recent study of 200 men and women who reported a sustained change from homosexual to heterosexual orientation for at least five years concluded that 61% of males and 44% of females satisfied the criteria for good heterosexual functioning.” [Homosexuality & Hope, (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic Medical Association, 2003), p. 3]

POINTS TO PONDER

“At clinical conferences one often hears...that homosexual orientation is fixed and unmodifiable. Neither assertion is true... The assertion that homosexuality is genetic is so reductionistic that it must be dismissed out of hand as a general principle of psychology.” [R. C. Friedman and J. I. Downey, Sexual Orientation and Psychoanalysis, p. 39]

"Our real enemies, with all their cruelty and all their oppression, come up upon us...out of our own heart." [Alexander Whyte, Lord, Teach Us To Pray, p. 106]

THINK ABOUT THIS!

Steve Brown writes, “As a pastor, I have performed hundreds of marriage ceremonies. Often newly married people say something like, ‘I don’t feel married.’ And I often reply, ‘Stay with it for a while. It takes a bit of getting used to. Eventually the truth will sink in.’

“Now let’s suppose a newly married couple doesn’t take my advice and their feelings are more real to them than the fact that they are now married. Let’s suppose, further, that every time they suspect they’re married, they say to themselves, I can’t be married because I don’t feel married. Believe it or not, they are programming their minds in a certain way. I suppose that if they pushed it far enough and often enough, they would never think they were really married. If someone asked them if they were married, they would always reply, ‘No, we’re not married.’ After a while, their feelings would become reality.” [Steve Brown, If Jesus Has Come, p. 136-137]

This goes a long way to explain how some of us got trapped in the illusion that we are homosexuals or lesbians. God did not make us that way. Camille Paglia identifies herself as “a bisexual lesbian” [Vamps & Tramps,), p. 245] and clearly states, “I have never identified with Christianity” [Ibid., p. 244, emphasis hers]. Nonetheless she clearly sees that "Homosexuality is not 'normal.'... Nature exists, whether academics like it or not. And in nature, procreation is the single, relentless rule. That is the norm. Our sexual bodies were designed for reproduction. Penis fits vagina: no fancy linguistic game-playing can change that biologic fact.... Given the intense hormonal surge of puberty, the total absence of adult heterosexual desire is neither normal nor natural, and it requires explanation" [Ibid., p. 70-71]. Later she writes, “Heterosexual love, as Hindu symbolism dramatizes, is in sync with cosmic forces. Not every-one has the stomach for daily war with nature." [Ibid., p. 78-79]

Since God didn’t make us homosexual, how are we to understand our feelings? We have to face the fact that we are fallen men and women who live in a fallen world whose feelings have been distorted by sin—usually the sin of others against us made worse by our own sinful nature and the deeds by which it expressed itself.

In a World magazine editorial aimed primarily at heterosexuals who fail to keep their marriage vows, Andree Seu writes, “Gay feelings, straight feelings. Makes no difference, feelings are feelings. I have never met a feeling that wouldn’t be a god if you let it. But here is no enduring stuff on which to build a life. Speaking of Eros, C. S. Lewis once said, ‘She herself is a mocking, mischievous spirit, far more elf than deity, and makes game of us’ (The Four Loves). He goes on to counsel that ‘even for their own sakes, the loves must submit to be second things if they are to remain the things they want to be. In this yoke lies their true freedom.’ This advice is worth heeding because ‘left to themselves, [feelings] either vanish or become demons.’” [“Nothing more than feelings?” World, (August 28, 2004), p. 39]

What, then, are we to do if we have these feelings? First, recognize that they are just feelings. They are not God! They do not constitute reality and they do not determine destiny. They are not to be followed without question. Second, feelings that contradict God’s Word and lead to sinful deeds are to be mortified (put to death) by the Spirit (Romans 8:13)!

“Easy to say, but hard to do,” you might reply. You are right. Still, do it we must or be forever trapped in the mists of illusion and robbed of the glorious reality God has for us. Let us then find the wounds that have diverted our normal sexuality and do all in our power, in dependence on God’s grace and in submission to His timing, to heal them. Let us not be so foolish as to try to heal relational problems all by ourselves, but let us be part of a fellowship that will encourage us and show us the way. And let us determine that we will, by God’s grace and in God’s time, rediscover our true identity and enter more and more into the glorious liberty of the sons and daughters of God!

--John J.

"GAY GENE" NONEXISTENT

"Homosexual activists have made much of a 1995 study that allegedly pointed to a 'gay gene' that was responsible for a person's homosexual orientation. A new study, however, points to a different conclusion.

"In 1995 Dr. Dean Hamer of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released the results of a two-year study which he claimed revealed a genetic component to homosexuality. Although the study was criticized within the scientific community for a host of flaws, the media broadcast the study as proof of a 'gay gene.'

"Hamer, himself a homosexual rights activist, bragged about the ease with which someone can manipulate the press. He told a meeting of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, 'If you tell the press what to write about a scientific study, they'll write it.'

"But a study by Dr. Alan Sanders—also of the NIH—replicated Hamer's study in order to verify his conclusions. Not surprisingly, Sanders could find no evidence to validate either Hamer's findings or his theory." [Presbyterian Pro-Life News, (Winter 1999) quoted in AFA Journal, (April 1999), p. 9]

HERE IS TRUTH!

Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, the Executive Director of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) summarized his beliefs and those of NARTH as follows:

“¢(1) Homosexuality is a developmental disorder; (2) it is preventable in childhood; (3) it is treatable in adulthood; and, (4) there is more dysfunction or pathology associated with the homosexual condition than heterosexuality. There is no such thing as a homosexual person. We are all heterosexual. Homosexuality is a description of a condition, not an intrinsic nature of the person.’

“Later Nicolosi said there are two kinds of people: heterosexuals who know they are heterosexual and heterosexuals who don’t know they are heterosexual.”

[Touched By His Grace: A Publication of OneByOne, (Summer 2000), p. 5]

DON’T BELIEVE THE LIE!

For the longest time I believed that I was born a woman inside a man’s body. This is part of the big lie I told myself until June of 2000 when, while being part of Overeaters Anonymous, I asked Jesus Christ to remove this condition because I thought it might be a character defect because it prevented me from doing meaningful service for others.

It is not an accident that I am a group leader in a self-help mental health group. The truth I came to know from my 12-step work in OA and my readings in recovery books by Dr. Abraham Low was that I was a man with very low self-esteem. I did not believe that women would accept me as a man and felt that just being a man made me less than human.

My father was an alcoholic who played the tough-guy role. He had shame about himself and felt that the world hated him because he was Jewish. The relationship I had with him was a brutal one. I did not want to be like him or around him. Unconsciously, I could not see myself as male.

My mother had little confidence in herself and did not know how to encourage me when I was growing up. She also failed to protect me from my father’s physical and emotional abuse. This helped create a condition in which I had a compulsion to wear women’s clothes. I felt comfortable in them because it gave me a sense of protection that children must get from their mothers. Psychologically, this fed the lie that I was a woman in a man’s body.

I was born Jewish but was not allowed to go to Hebrew School because my father was an atheist. I felt like an outsider and this feeling intensified when I failed the fourth grade. My mother sent me to summer school, but I still had to repeat fourth grade. My self-esteem was further crushed and it took years for me to come to terms with failure.

Further, the women’s movement has tended to paint all men with a broad brush, and this added to my shame at being male.

I tried psychotherapy and looked to several psychiatrists as role models but felt sold-out when their therapy did me more harm than good. I attempted suicide after seeing the first psychiatrist for four years and ended up in the state hospital.

Fortunately, I came to know the love of Christ and that has made all the difference in my life. Then, learning to deal with temper and work through my mental health problems by spotting temper and endorsing myself for working through my difficulties, seeing the proof that my identity could be restored to the gender I was born with through HA, and a spiritual program of daily prayer has made a new man, a real man, of me.

Unfortunately today many men and a growing number of women are getting sex-change operations. The lie they believe is that they were born in the wrong bodies, but the truth is that many men and women are simply unusually gifted with some abilities that are more common in the opposite gender. Many women make fine engineers, but are as female as other women; many men make fine schoolteachers, but are as male as other men.

Perhaps it’s the loss of common sense among some in the mental health profession, the modern culture we live in where everything is supposed to come easy, and our own laziness in refusing to work hard on difficult issues that leads us to accept the lie. It must, however, be rejected!

Were it not for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, I do not know where I would be today. Because of Him, for the first time in years I can look in the mirror and be grateful that God made me a man. Jesus Christ is developing me in His image as a Christian man and restoring my true identity.

As I’m enjoying my own maleness, attending the men’s group at my church, and enjoying the company of women, I know that God knew what He was doing when He made me a man.

Don’t believe the lie!

--Albert S.,

BORN THAT WAY?

“Cathy Young in an article titled “Sex & Sensibility” in the March 1999 issue of Reason says: “There is...much that science has yet to learn about hormones and brain organization, two...hot areas of research on sex differences. For instance, findings of ‘masculinized’ behavior such as increased play with such ‘boyish’ toys in girls exposed to high prenatal levels of male hormones (androgens) are ambiguous: Androgenized girls don’t show elevated levels of physical aggression or rough-and-tumble play. In one study, contrary to the researchers’ expectations, girls with twin brothers, who have some exposure to androgens in the womb, exhibited no unusually tomboyish behavior, while girls with an older brother did” (p.29)

“...Most scientists who study the biology of sex differences agree that nature and nurture interact in complex ways: our activities and environment can alter brain organization and hormonal makeup” (p.33).

That’s something to think about the next time someone tells you they were “born that way.”

--David G.

POINTS TO PONDER

“How often I hear of mean and women with same-sex inclinations forsaking the witness of their conscience for gay sex; in violating that holy boundary, something dies in them. For a temporary rush of connection and sensual solidarity, these bearers of God’s image become less human, less true to their essential selves. Delusion sets in, a darkening of conscience. The longer (s)he remains in such deception, the more extreme will that distortion become.” [Andrew Comiskey quoted in Regeneration News, (September-October 2004), p. 2]

“...After eleven years of homosexual activity I told God ‘It’s over! Homosexuality is an illusion, a dead end! Homosexuality promises a lot, but delivers little!’” [Tim Wilkins, The Cross Examiner, 7.2 (2003), p. 2]

TO BE, OR NOT TO BE?

I facilitate a chapter of Homosexuals Anonymous in Texas on the Mexican border. Fifty percent of my related communications are in Spanish. As a result, I’ve stumbled on something that has been a great help in destroying the homosexual lie.

How many are trapped by the statement we so flippantly espouse in English—“I am a homosexual” in all the tenses of the verb: “I am, I was, etc.”

Most other languages have two or more verbs for “I am.” English does not. In Spanish when one says, “I am (ser) a homosexual,” he literally is declaring as fact that God made him this way and destined him to this unalterable role in life. Another verb for “I am” (estar) expresses “a temporary state of being” or I am “acting” this way right now. I haven’t always, and I may not in the future, but today I am acting as a homosexual does. I am “doing” homosexual things.

When you say “I am” in English, you can mean either “I was born/made this way” or mean it only in a temporary sense. It’s totally ambiguous, so people by nature assume the worst—that God made them that way, a third, secret species.

It helps to explain this difference, this concept, to men and women. They tell their story. When they have finished, most express hopelessness, fold their hands, and say, “I am a homosexual. What more can I say?”

I have found it helpful to respond, “Oh, you mean you have been acting in a homosexual manner. You really are made in God’s image and likeness and have found yourself caught up in this lifestyle/sin.” I then explain the two different words for “I am” in Spanish (and other languages). When the significance of these words is grasped, the seeds of hope are planted and the light has gone on for a number of people with this simple illustration.

Please remember, homosexuality is something one DOES, not something one IS. Do not let yourself be identified or your existence be defined by your sin! God made only two species: male and female! Let that truth shape your life. Renounce the lie in the way you think and speak and watch change slowly begin to come into your life.

It is not easy to change your manner of speech to more accurately express this truth, but it does yield good, lasting fruit and helps strugglers (me included) to defeat the lies of the enemy and to walk in the victory Jesus’ blood provides for us.

Brian H., McAllen, TX

POINTS TO PONDER

“Real happiness is cheap enough, yet how dearly we pay for its counterfeit.” [Hosea Ballou in Timeless Quotations on Peace of Mind, p. 17]

"The Hasidic rabbi Shelomo asked: 'What is the worst thing the evil urge can achieve?' He answered, 'To make man forget that he is the son of a King.'" [William B. Silverman, Rabbinic Stories for Christian Ministers and Teachers in My Third Reader's Notebook, p. 56]

DON'T BE TAKEN IN

One of the things that makes recovery difficult is the constant barrage of propaganda from the media that homosexuality is biologically based. If one believes that, hope of change is destroyed. Yet the studies on which such misinformation is based have been disproved by secular scientists! This gets little or no media coverage! I wonder why?

Take, for example, the story that Simon LeVay, a gay neurobiologist from the Salk Institute in San Diego, had found evidence to suggest that homosexuality is biologically based.

There is nothing in Scripture to rule out the possibility that some homosexual problems may be caused, or contributed to, by biological factors. Because sin has entered the world, we are all in bodies that are corruptible and mortal (I Corinthians 15:53,54) and birth defects and other abnormalities do occur.

There is, however, no compelling scientific evidence that this is the cause of a homosexual struggle, as LeVay himself acknowledged. "Although efforts have been made to establish the biological basis of sexual orientation, for example, by the application of cytogenetic, endocrinological, or neuroanatomical methods, these efforts have largely failed to establish any consistent differences between homosexual and heterosexual individuals." [Simon LeVay, "A Difference in Hypothalamic Structure Between Heterosexual and Homosexual Men," Science, (August 30, 1991), p. 1034] Did LeVay find something new that proves homosexual orientation to be biologically based? It was suggested that he did, but he did not!

LeVay studied the brains of 19 homosexual men who died of AIDS and compared them with the brains of 6 deceased women and 16 men (6 of whom died of AIDS, 10 from other causes) who were "presumed" heterosexual (Ibid., p. 1035) "Two of these subjects (both AIDS patients) had denied homosexual activity. The records of the remaining 14 patients contained no information about their sexual orientation; they are assumed to have been mostly or all heterosexual..." (Ibid., p. 1036, emphasis ours)

LeVay reported that an area in the rear of the hypothalamus was about the size of a grain of sand in the men he presumed to be heterosexual, but averaged about half that size in the women and homosexual men he studied. Was this the cause of homosexuality?

Even at the time secular scientists expressed doubt. "Many technical aspects of the study are subject to question, as the author concedes. He cannot be certain, for instance, that all the heterosexual men in the control group were heterosexual." [Time, (September 9, 1991), p. 60-61]

"Some of the subjects died of AIDS, which in its late stages can affect the brain. LeVay ruled out the disease as a confounding factor: he found that homosexual men had smaller hypothalamic bundles than straight men who had died of AIDS, suggesting that it is not AIDS that shrinks the clump of neurons. Other neuroscientists weren't as ready to dismiss an AIDS connection, however. Also, measuring brain structures is notoriously difficult and controversial. The areas LeVay scrutinized are even smaller than snowflakes, and neuroscientists cannot agree on whether the most meaningful gauge is the volume of the region (the yardstick LeVay used) or its number of neurons." [Newsweek, (September 9, 1991), p. 52]

"Does a small bundle of neurons in the hypothalamus cause homosexuality, or might homosexual orientation cause that portion of the brain to shrink? Scores of studies have found that neurons change in response to experience, such as learning a maze." [Idem.]

"'There are some people in whom sexual orientation does not maintain itself,' says June Reinisch, director of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University.... She cites the example of a woman who fell in love with and was married to a man for 10 years, then at the age of 30 fell in love with a woman and spent 11 years in that relationship, and at 41 fell in love with a man. Clearly, even if sexual orientation does have a biological basis in the brain, it is not necessarily fixed." [Time, op. cit., p. 61]

Many scientists noted that this was a very small study—too small to come to any final conclusion.

Further, as LeVay admitted, "The existence of 'exceptions' in the present sample (that is, presumed heterosexual men with small INAH-3 nuclei, and homosexual men with large ones) hints at the possibility that sexual orientation, although an important variable, may not be the sole determinant of INAH-3 size." [LeVay, op. cit., p. 1036]

"'My freshman biology students know enough to sink this study,' declares Anne Fausto-Sterling, professor of medical science at Brown University." [Time, op. cit., p. 61]

At the time this study was front-page news, Newsweek warned, "The debate over the origins of sexual orientation is far from over." [Op. cit., p. 52] Later events showed how right they were!

In 1993 Dr. Paul Billings, former chief of the Division of Genetic Medicine at California Pacific Medical Center in Palo Alto, and Dr. Jonathan Beckwith, American Cancer Society Research Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School wrote an article published at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in which they noted that LeVay "could not really be certain about his subject's sexual preferences, since they were dead." [Paul Billings and Jonathan Beckwith, "Born Gay?" Technology Review, July 1993), p. 60] His "research design and subject sample did not allow others to determine whether it was sexual behavior, drug use, or disease history that was correlated with the observed differences among the subjects' brains." [Idem.] His method of defining homosexuality was very likely to "create inaccurate or inconsistent study groups." [Ibid., p. 61]

Not only was LeVay's study faulty in design, but when Dr. William Byne of the Department of Psychiatry of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons did a much more careful repetition of that study, he did not get the same result. To avoid any prejudice, the researchers who examined the cells of the INAH-3 under the microscope had no idea whether the subject was male or female, homosexual or heterosexual. Byne's study confirmed that there was a real male-female difference in the size of INAH-3 cells, but did not find LeVay's difference between heterosexuals and homosexuals. [Neil and Briar Whitehead, My Genes Made Me Do It! A Scientific Look as Sexual Orientation, p. 129]

This is not simply an academic exercise. There are practical reasons for concern. Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, Kogod Professor and Director of Clinical Training in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia argues that homosexuals "can choose whom they perform with sexually, but they cannot choose whom they want to perform with." [What You Can Change & What You Can't: The Complete Guide to Successful Self-Improvement, p. 157] He holds this view largely because of Simon LeVay's study which he thinks was "technically well done"! [Ibid., p. 154-155] Of course, he is a psychologist, not an expert in this field, which would account for his favorable verdict not shared by many who have the background to judge such matters.

Seligman also ignores the extensive literature which makes it clear that change can and does take place [see Jewish psychiatrist Jeffrey Satinover's, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth and Once Gay...Always Gay??? available from HAFS]

Dr. Seligman is not the only therapist to be misled by thinking homosexuality is a biological problem. "Behavioral psychologist Joseph Wolpe was faced with a religious client who felt guilty about his homosexuality. Wolpe had to decide which behavior to extinguish—homosexuality or the religious guilt. Rather than try to change the homosexuality, he chose to ameliorate the guilt... Psychology claims to work from a 'value-free' philosophy. However, decisions such as this—to eliminate religious guilt—are in fact being made from another value hierarchy of the therapist's choosing.... Two interesting notes on this case: first, Wolpe said he made his decision based upon the belief that homosexuality was biologically determined. Second, the client later discovered heterosexual attraction on his own after undergoing assertion training, and married. Wolpe considered him to be cured of homosexuality." [Joseph Nicolosi, Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach, p. 15-16]

You may be saying, "Does this mean I have a choice? I always thought homosexuality was my fate."

It does not have to be! Among those who can help you is this fellowship of men and women who understand your problem because they have experienced similar distress. They know your pain because they have felt it in their own hearts. Now they are in the process of finding relief from that pain and are experiencing ever-increasing freedom from homosexuality such as they once hardly dared hope for. They are members of Homosexuals Anonymous Fellowship. Their hearts are open to you. Their hands are stretched out to you. You can trust them to understand and care because you know they have stumbled along the same difficult path you now tread.

Don't remain trapped in a false identity. Don't be taken in by claims there is no hope. "With God all things are possible" (Mark 10:27). Reach out today for the help that can set you free!

--John J.

POINTS TO PONDER

"True faith requires that we believe everything God has said about Himself, but also that we believe everything He has said about us. Until we believe that we are as bad as God says we are, we can never believe that He will do for us what He says He will do." [A. W. Tozer, Of God and Men, p. 56]

"...The only important battle you will ever fight will be with yourself." [Steve Brown, Born Free, p. 126]

FINGER LENGTH?!

Have you heard the latest? They are now trying to say that finger length shows that homosexuality is biologically based! What next?

We asked Dr. E. Norbert Smith to examine these claims. Dr. Smith has a BS in Biology from Southwestern Oklahoma State University, a MS in Biology from Baylor University, and a Ph.D. in Zoology from Texas Tech University. He has published over 200 technical papers in international peer-reviewed journals, has presented scores of papers at international scientific meetings, has written portions of three books, and has lectured throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and in Brazil, mostly in medical schools. He is now retired.

Dr. Smith writes, "The recent report of finger length being correlated (albeit indirectly) with sexual orientation for both gay men and women (Nature 2000: 404:455-456) has caused quite a stir in both the gay and straight communities. Reviews are mixed. Nature is a reputable peer-reviewed international scientific journal, but newspaper writers are not trained in science or statistics and their reporting goes far beyond the actual published data, often misleading the general public. Let me explain.

BEWARE OF CORRELATIONS: While earning my Ph.D., I attended statistics classes at the University of California at Los Angeles. In the beginning class we were sternly warned: "Be wary of correlations, for they are very slippery things and say nothing about cause and effect." A classic example, often cited in statistics textbooks, is of a period of several weeks during which the New York Stock market rose and fell precisely with the rainfall of the Island of Madagascar. That is, the two events showed a very high degree of correlation; they rose and fell together. It was, of course, coincidental, as there was absolutely no cause and effect between the stock market and Madagascar rainfall. Nor is there any way the mathematics of statistics could have told the correlation was a quirk of luck.

Statistics is a powerful tool when used properly, for it provides the probability an event might occur by random chance. Yet, it can never tell with certainty that two events are indeed correlated and, of course, it says nothing at all about cause and effect. It is here news writers and TV pundits tend to run amuck.

Looking at the report in more detail we find that the correlation between finger length and sexual orientation is admittedly weak, for large numbers of subjects were sampled in order to achieve statistical significance. Remember too that the results have no significance for individuals because the ratios overlap between gays and straights. In other words, the finger length ratios are NOT a predictor of sexual orientation for any individual.

Remember, the two aspects (finger length and sexual orientation) may be entirely coincidental and thus meaningless just as in the case of the New York Stock Market and the Madagascar rainfall. Further, even if the correlation is valid or if future studies also show a high degree of correlation, all this says nothing about cause and effect.

When we consider the question of cause and effect we at once notice that crucial data regarding causality are wholly missing. For example, the alleged residual androgens in the mother's uterus from previous brothers is without any support. Surely residual hormonal levels high enough to alter the physical development of the unborn child could be measured in the blood or amniotic fluid. Why weren't such measurements sought? And, even if hormone levels were elevated enough to alter finger length, it would still be a giant leap of fantasy to see this as altering sexual orientation.

Further, the host of other factors that are the result of a young boy's growing up in a house filled with older brothers are totally missing in this study. Would not these life experiences be much more likely to alter his sexual orientation than a hypothetical brother memory of his mother's womb?

While I understand the motivation of some in the gay community to seek biological reasons for their behaviors, nothing seems valid to date despite decades of searching.

Even if sometime in the future science discovers a cause and effect relation between sexual orientation and some environmental or genetic factor, this will not make homosexual behavior a good thing. Being of Scandinavian descent, I lack the ability to produce ample melanin in my skin to protect me from the harmful effects of ultraviolet light from the sun. In other words, I sunburn easily and do not tan well. Should I therefore abuse my skin and increase my risk of skin cancer? Of course not! I try to protect myself. So, too, any supposed genetic or environmental cause of homosexual temptations does not call for anything but increased vigilance and reliance on God who can turn what the Enemy means for harm into something wonderful. Let us keep our mind on what God has said and allow nothing to seduce us away from that narrow road that leads to life.

POINTS TO PONDER

“The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting yourself first—wanting to be the center—wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race. Some people think the fall of man had something to do with sex, but that is a mistake. (The story in the Book of Genesis rather suggests that some corruption in our sexual nature followed the fall and was its result, not its cause.) What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” [C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 43]

"In every human heart, no matter how well disciplined and fortified, sin has a formidable ally. Sin always creates an illusion, in which the tempted man sees only the pleasure of the contemplated act, while its consequences, which are in reality inseparably joined to it, are lost in the mist of desire." [William Lyon Phelps, Human Nature and the Gospel, p. 85]

"To tempt is to represent an evil as a good. Sin in its true nature may be ugly, brutal, or destructive. In the experience of temptation sin is represented as fun, pleasurable, exciting, rewarding, maturing, or daring—anything but its true nature." [Bernard Ramm, Offense To Reason: The Theology of Sin, p. 96]

LINCOLN, GAY???

Don’t worry. He wasn’t. But that’s what the late Dr. Clarence A. Tripp—onetime Alfred Kinsey Col-league and gay sex researcher/therapist—was trying to get people to believe in his book, The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln published by Free Press, A Division of Simon and Schuster.

The book received a scathing review by the man who was originally to be Tripp’s co-author but who withdrew when Philip Nobile, who teaches history at a private preparatory school in New York, found that Tripp was “more advocate than historian” [Louis A. Berman, Ph. D., NARTH Bulletin, (August 2005), p. 28]. Nobile calls the book “a hoax and a fraud” in his review of it for The Weekly Standard and “asks why there is not more documentation of Lincoln’s fondness for me, if indeed, that was so apparent. Why, for example, did Lincoln’s law partner and biographer, William Herndon write nothing along the line? Replied Tripp: Herndon was too heterosexual to notice. Today, Lincoln is revered, but in his own day he was a most controversial figure, loved by some and hated by others. He was mercilessly ridiculed in thousands of words and in hundreds of political cartoons. Yet nothing has turned up in newspaper articles of his day, or in cartoons, that touches upon the question of his sexual attractions” [Berman, op. cit., p. 28-29]

Dr. Berman’s article does an excellent job of refuting the “scientific” mumbo-jumbo Tripp uses to try and make his “evidence” plausible and clearly shows how weak Tripp’s arguments really are.

Philip Nobile and Dr. Berman are not the only ones to point out that Tripp’s book is a mistake. Tripp is a gay psychologist. Listen to the thoughts of those who are professional historians.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who thoroughly researched Lincoln for her new book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, answers the question “What do you think of the theory that Lincoln might have been gay?” answers, “You’re talking about his sleeping in the same bed with [best friend] Joshua Speed. I doubt they were having a sexual relationship. So many people of that era slept in the same bed. And letters show that other men of that time had emotionally intense relationships. Both Seward and Chase wrote letters to their male friends that were filled with affection and love. It was an era when men/men and women/women relationships were closer than those between men and women” [Diane Brown, “Abe, Honestly,” AARP: The Magazine, (November & December 2005), p. 14]. You will find this well documented in the book American Manhood by E. Anthony Rotundo, (New York: Basic Books, 1993), especially pages 75-91.

David Herbert Donald, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning biography, Lincoln which Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. called “A grand work—the Lincoln biography for this generation,” looked over Tripp’s manuscript and warned him “Throughout you seem to be neglecting the fundamental rule —the historian has to rely on facts” [Berman, op. cit., p. 28]. In a book on Lincoln’s friendships, Donald bluntly asks whether Lincoln and Joshua Speed had sex together.

He notes, “First, it ought to be noted that no contemporary ever raised the question of sexual relations between Lincoln and Speed. Herndon, who sometimes slept in the same upstairs room over Speed’s store, never mentioned the possibility, though he discussed at length his ideas about Lincoln’s sexual interests in women. Charles Hurst, one of Speed’s clerks, who also slept in the room, never referred to any sexual or even physical intimacy between the two men. Though nearly every other possible charge against Lincoln was raised during his long public career —from his alleged illegitimacy to his possible romance with Ann Rutledge, to the breakup of his engagement to Mary Todd, to some turbulent aspects of their marriage—no one ever suggested that he and Speed were sexual partners.” [David Herbert Donald, We Are Lincoln Men: Abraham Lincoln and His Friends, p. 35-36]

After explaining that it was common for men to sleep in the same bed at that time, that men were free to express tender affection for one another then without fear of gossip (and noting that there is less of that in Lincoln’s correspondence with Speed than in other letters of the time), that psychoanalyst and historian Charles B. Strozier said that a sexual relationship of that sort at that time would have left Lincoln “full of shame, confused, and hardly likely to end up in politics” (Ibid., p. 38), and that Lincoln spoke freely and openly of sleeping with Speed in later years which would have been unthinkable if the relationship had been sexual, he concludes, “In my judgment, these two young men were simply close, warm friends…” [Idem.]

You might be asking, “If there is so little evidence to support the idea that Lincoln was gay, why would anyone want to suggest he was?”

It’s all part of a clever propaganda ploy. Their hope is that people will think, “If Lincoln was gay, it must be OK for people of the same gender to engage in sexual relationships with each other. After all, Lincoln was one of our greatest presidents and anything he did must surely be right.”

Think for a moment! Isn’t it true that wrong is wrong no matter who does it? And who has the right to decide what is right and what is wrong? No one but our Creator! He has said in His word that sex between persons of the same gender if contrary to His plan—is sin (see for example Leviticus 18:11; Romans 1:26,27; I Corinthians 6:9-11).

It is true that some great people have engaged in homosexual behavior. My favorite composer is Peter Ilich Tchaikowsky, a man who beyond doubt struggled with homosexuality. [For a Christian evaluation of his life see Jane Stuart Smith and Betty Carlson, A Gift of Music: Great Composers and Their Influence, Westchester, IL: Cornerstone Books, 1978), p. 153-162]. I can, and do, weep over his tragedy but his greatness does not make homosexual behavior a good thing (something with which he agreed!) any more than Thomas Jefferson’s keeping slaves makes slavery as practiced in this country a good thing!

We must listen to God in all things. And we must be careful not to be bamboozled by anyone who tries to persuade us to call what God says is wrong right or what God says is right wrong! As for the notion that Lincoln was gay, Dr. Tripp has concocted a fairy tale (no pun intended) and if you want a fairy tale the brothers Grimm have done much better work along that line.

--John J.

POINTS TO PONDER

"Christians who use pornography are attempting to satisfy legitimate needs for love, both human and divine—and satisfying neither kind! But the deception that perfect fulfillment is just one magazine or video away keeps us coming back." [Russell Willingham, Breaking Free, p. 57]

SURPRISE!

One does not expect to find someone who describes herself as "a bisexual lesbian" [Camille Paglia, Vamps and Tramps: New Essays, p. 245], who states, "I have never identified with Christianity" [Ibid., p. 244, emphasis hers] and vigorously proclaims, "I do not believe in God..." [Ibid., p. xx] agreeing with the Bible about homosexuality. Yet that is exactly what one finds in Camille Paglia's Vamps and Tramps.

The Bible says that homosexual behavior is contrary to nature (the Creator's intent). It says that "even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the women, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error that was meet [fitting]" (Romans 1:26,27).

Ms. Paglia, who says, "I was the only openly gay person at the Yale Graduate School (1968-1972), a candor that was professionally costly" [Ibid., p. 73] acknowledges, "Homosexuality is not 'normal.'... Nature exists, whether academics like it or not. And in nature, procreation is the single, relentless rule. That is the norm. Our sexual bodies were designed for reproduction. Penis fits vagina: no fancy linguistic game-playing can change that biologic fact.... Given the intense hormonal surge of puberty, the total absence of adult heterosexual desire is neither normal nor natural, and it requires explanation." [Ibid., p. 70-71]

What explanation does she suggest? Not the one we often hear. She writes, "No one is 'born gay.' The idea is ridiculous, but it is symptomatic of our over politicized climate that such assertions are given instant credence by gay activists and their media partisans." [Ibid., p. 72]

What happened then? A sensitive boy was born into a family where his father is uncomfortable with him and his brothers are harsh and impatient with him. He feels safe with and close to his mother and sisters and identifies with them. [Ibid., p. 75] "Later he feels like an outsider in the schoolyard. There is no male bonding.... He longs for approval from the other boys, and his nascent sexual energies begin to flow in that direction, pursuing what he cannot have. He will always be hungry for and awed by the masculine...

"Thus homosexuality, in my view, is an adaptation, not an inborn trait. When they claim they were gay 'as far back as I can remember,' gay men are remembering their isolation and alienation, their differentness..." [Ibid., p. 76]

She finds support for her views in that fact that "Exclusive homosexual relations among adults have never been sanctioned before modern times." [Ibid., p. 72] Nor does she expect that it will be different in the future. "The unhappy truth is that male homosexuality will never be fully accepted by the heterosexual majority, who are obeying the dictates not of 'bigoted' society or religion but of procreative nature." [Ibid., p. 85]

She finds further support in the rarity of homosexuality. "As a teacher of twenty-three years, most of which were spent in art schools, I have been struck by the rarity, not the frequency, of homosexuality. From the start of my media career, I attacked the much-touted activist claim that 10 percent of the population is gay—which was always a distortion of Kinsey's finding that 10 percent had had some homosexual experience over their lifetime. Tracking my students, acquaintances, and the world in general, I guessed the number hovered at 3 percent, and recent surveys (ranging from 1 or 2 to 4 percent) have borne this out. The 10 percent figure, servilely repeated by the media, was pure propaganda, and it made me, as a scholar, despise gay activists for their unscrupulous disregard for the truth." [Ibid., p. 73-74]

Nor is Ms. Paglia only talking about men. She writes, "Any woman...who cannot respond to penises or who finds them hideous or laughable...has been traumatized by some early experience. She is neither complete as a woman nor healthy as a person." [Ibid., p. 83]

Ms. Paglia acknowledges that change is at least theoretically possible and, for those who wish it (which she does not), desirable.

"The difficulties in changing sexual orientation do not spring from its genetic innateness. Sexuality is highly fluid, and reversals are theoretically possible. However, habit is refractory, once the sensory pathways have been blazed and deepened by repetition—a phenomenon obvious in the struggle with obesity, smoking, alcoholism, or drug addition." [Ibid., p. 77-78] "If counseling can allow a gay man to respond sexually to women, it should be encouraged and applauded, not strafed by gay artillery fire of reverse moralism. Heterosexual love, as Hindu symbolism dramatizes, is in sync with cosmic forces. Not everyone has the stomach for daily war with nature." [Ibid., p. 78-79]

While there are obviously many things about which we must disagree with Ms. Paglia (who describes her favored position as "a liberal pagan one" (Ibid., p. 90), we nonetheless rejoice in her honesty and urge you to learn from her (1) the possibility of change; (2) the difficulty of change; and (3) the desirability of change. Then, go to work and keep at it until you see change happening in your life!

Not only does a candid lesbian thinker like Camille Paglia acknowledge that homosexuality is "not 'normal'", medical science makes the same point. Thus a family physician and nationally recognized expert on sexuality, writes, "Anal sex is unnatural. It obviously is traumatic to the anus, which simply is not made to accommodate the male organ. Not only does the anus have no natural lubrication, but it is clearly the wrong size for genital contact. As evidence of this, consider the difference in size of the speculum and the anoscope. The speculum, which the physician places inside the woman during a gynecologic exam, is roughly the size and shape of the erect male organ. The anoscope, used to examine the anus, is half the diameter of the speculum—more similar in size to an adult forefinger. Any physician who would be foolish enough to attempt to examine a patient's anus with a speculum would quickly realize how unpopular that move would be." [Richard Wetzel, M.D., Sexual Wisdom, p. 145] He continues, "Anal sex is on the level of drinking through one's nose. Given adequate preparation it can be done, but it is hardly nature's way." [Ibid., p. 147]

All of this is clear to most people and to professionals not blinded by the need to be "politically correct." Dr. Gerard J. M. van den Aardweg, a Dutch psychologist who has been successfully helping homosexuals who want to change their orientation for over twenty years, writes: "It is obvious that the vast majority of people still think homosexuality...is abnormal. I use the word 'still', for this is a fact in spite of a prolonged bombardment of...propaganda by the ignorant and slavishly trendy social and political ideologists who rule the media, politics, and a great part of the academic world. If the social elite of this time have lost their common sense, not so the great mass of people, who perhaps can be forced to accept social measures coming from the 'equal rights' ideology...but not to change the simple observation that something must be wrong with people who, although physiologically men and women, do not feel attracted to the obviously natural objects of the propagation-directed sex instinct. To the bewildered question of many on why it is possible that 'educated people' could believe that homosexuality is normal, perhaps the best answer is George Orwell's saying that there are things 'so foolish that only intellectuals could believe them.'" [The Battle for Normality, p. 21]

Someone may say, "You've assumed that the Bible says homosexuality is against nature. Aren't there people who would dispute that?" There are, though most of them either have a homosexual problem themselves, or love someone who has such a problem, and are trying to justify the behavior on emotional grounds. Their view is definitely a minority opinion!

I always urge those who raise this point to go to any Bible school or theological seminary and look up, not books attacking or defending homosexuality, but commentaries (books that explain what each book of the Bible says all the way through) on Genesis 19, Leviticus 18 and 20, Romans 1, and I Corinthians 6 and see what they find. They will find that virtually every one of them agrees that the Bible calls homosexuality a sin (though the commentators themselves may disagree with the Bible). They will be forced to admit that Martin Luther understood the Bible's point of view correctly when he said, "The heinous conduct of the people of Sodom is extraordinary, inasmuch as they departed from the natural passion and longing of the male for the female, which was implanted into nature by God, and desired what is altogether contrary to nature. Whence comes this perversity? Undoubtedly from Satan, who, after people have once turned away from the fear of God, so powerfully suppresses nature that he blots out the natural desire and stirs up a desire that is contrary to nature." [Luther's Works III, p. 255]

Nor does one have to go as far back as Luther to find this understanding of what the Bible teaches. Not long ago the "Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), the world's largest association of evangelical professors of theology, adopted a resolution which states unequivocally that homosexual activity is contrary to biblical principles. More than half of ETS's 2,500 members attended the organization's 50th annual conference.

"Members of ETS include professors of Bible and Theology from every theological denomination. Each must affirm the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible as a prerequisite to membership." [Baptist Press, December 11, 1998), quoted in AFA Journal, (February 1999), p. 11]

Even candid liberals who are not committed to following the Bible are forced to acknowledge that Scripture does not approve of homosexual behavior. Thus V. P. Furnish, speaking of homosex-uality, writes, "To Paul it represented a rebellion against the Creator and his creation, a surrender to one's lusts, and the debasement of one's own true identity and the exploitation of another's." [The Moral Teaching of Paul, p. 81] But, since he is not committed to the authority of Scripture, he continues, "It is no longer possible to share Paul's belief that homosexual conduct always and necessarily involves all these things." [Idem.] It seems clear, then, that one must either fight one's homosexual temptations or give up his or her Bible!

--John J.

FACING FACTS!

We’ve been told so many things that weren’t true. We were told we were born this way and, when we check it out, we find there is no evidence for this assertion. We were told that no one could ever change, but, when we check it out, we find numerous mental health professionals have written in professional journals that they have treated men and women suffering from unwanted homosexual feelings or behavior and have seen them change.

What about the claims that homosexuality is normal, healthy behavior engaged in by normal, healthy people? Is that also false?

Read, “New Study confirms High Level of Psychiatric Disorders among Men and Women Engaging in Same-Sex Behavior.” Sandfort, T., Graaf, R., Bijl, R., Schnabel, P. (2001) Same-Sex Sexual Behavior and Psychiatric Disorders Findings from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study (NEMESIS) Archives of General Psychiatry. 58: 85-91.

“A previous Heartbeat News (#2) reported on two studies published in the Archives of General Psychiatry which found higher rates of psychiatric disorders among men and women engaging in same-sex behavior (Herrell 1999 & Fergusson 1999). The articles mentioned a third study, not yet published, that confirmed their findings. The Sandfort study is now available and finds that the lifetime prevalence of one or more Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) III disorders among men engaging in same sex-behavior is 56.1% (versus 41.4% among men who do not engage in such behavior. The rate for two or more DSM III disorders is 37.8% (versus 14.4%). For women engaging in same-sex behavior, the rate for one or more DSM III disorders is 67.4% (versus 39.1%) and for two or more disorders 39.5% (versus 21.3%).

“The study took place in the Netherlands where social acceptance of same-sex behavior is high and the incidence of HIV is low (none of the men were HIV positive).

“According to the report: ‘homosexual men had a much larger chance of having had 12-month and life-time bipolar disorders and a higher chance of having had lifetime major depression. …The greatest differences were found in obsessive-compulsive disorder and agoraphobia. The 12-month prevalences of agoraphobia, simple phobia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder were higher in homosexual men than in heterosexual men.’

“’…Homosexual women reported a substantially higher rate of substance use disorders than did heterosexual women…’

“These three studies only confirm what previous studies had found: men and women who engage in same-sex behavior have significantly more psychiatric problems than those who don’t.

“Those…(who deal with homosexual persons) need to remind themselves that the chances are very high that they…are confronting people who have real psychiatric problems for which they are probably not receiving adequate therapy. Anyone who has had to deal with a relative or friend with a serious psychiatric or substance abuse problem knows how difficult it can be. On some occasions the person appears normal and able to function reasonably well; however, they may be easily enraged, make unfounded accusations, fall into self-pity or depression, or become totally irrational. The family and friends keep hoping in vain that the person will just snap out of it or listen to reason, but mental illnesses and substance abuse are rarely resolved without intervention. And it is also true that the person with the problem almost always insists that he is fine and it is the people who won’t tolerate his irrational behavior who are ‘crazy.’

“According to the report: ‘If the respondent had had sex with someone of the same gender (exclusively or not), he or she was categorized as homosexual.’ Thus the percentage of homosexually identified persons with psychiatric disorders could be higher than the 56.1% for men and the 67.4% for women reported.

“When the APA removed homosexuality from the DSM, it did not make troubled people mentally healthy, it just changed the category under which they could be treated. The APA has not as yet removed substance abuse, mood, and anxiety disorders from its manual, nor is it likely to do so.” [Dale O’Leary, Heartbeat News #17, February 4, 2001, used with permission. Anyone interested in similar information can get it on the internet at heartbeatnews@-compuserve.com or by writing P.O. Box 41294, Providence, RI 02940 with his or her postal address.]

POINTS TO PONDER

"People think if you're not sexually active you are less than whole. That's part of the whole homosexual debate—because I've got a sexual yearning, it must come from God. And if it comes from God, he wants me to use it. But people are more than sexual beings. Much of the debate about sex has reduced people to their sexuality. That's true whether they're gay or heterosexual." [M. Craig Barnes in Leadership, (Fall 1999), p. 69]

"God's law corresponds to created human nature, so that in fulfilling his requirements we fulfill ourselves." [J. I. Packer, Truth & Power, p. 15]

"Your strength is seen in what you stand for; your weakness in what you fall for." [Pulpit Helps, (May 1999), p. 10]

“Sin has many manifestations but its essence is one. A moral being, created to worship before the throne of God, sits on the throne of his own selfhood and from that elevated position declares, ‘I AM.’ That is sin in its concentrated essence...” [A. W. Tozer in 20th Century Thoughts that Shaped the Church, p. 225]

“Our view of reality is like a map.... If a map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there. If the map is false and inaccurate, we generally will be lost.” [M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled, p. 44]

“I believe that it is our job to gather around those who are drowning in the dark side of their sexuality—if there is the slightest indication that they want to be rescued. I believe that it is our job to gather around those who are sorely tempted to give up on God’s standards and dive into the deed-end of their lust—if they are at all willing to have us around.” [Mary Heathman, A Measure of Grace, (October 2006), p. 6]

FREE INDEED!

The HA workbook is a great tool to help those who struggle with homosexuality turn around. This

is a letter I wrote to a fellow-struggler in our on-line chapter, sharing what I have experienced

through using it.

"The feelings you have are a strong part of my past, and for over twenty-seven years I had to deal with them. Yes, I too kept running away, and our precious Lord kept bringing me home. Our Lord will not let us go because we have been purchased with His blood and we are going to reach the goal that He has for us.

"One thing I find in you that is so important is your detesting your sin and wanting to change. God sees your heart and knows what you want and He also sees your weak flesh and wants you to have victory over it. If you have a heart of soft clay, He can work in you. From what I have seen in you and what you have shared, you have a heart of soft clay. Our Lord is in the process of molding you and He will form out of you a beautiful vessel for His use. This takes time because we have so many things that hinder this process.

"I'm going to ask you an open question. Have you worked through the 14 Steps? Many of the guys start, but then decide they would rather go some supposedly easier way. Until I sat down and determined in my heart that the Lord had to change me and it can only be as I work these things out through His Word and the help of others, I got nowhere. I have seen it again and again--if a guy wants to be free, he has to work at it and be serious. I believe this is what you want. That is where I was three years ago. Today I am a long way from where I was and am so thankful that things have changed. For me, and I know others who have found the same was true of them, I had to take time and work through the steps very seriously. That takes time and much prayer and effort. I worked through those steps one by one and prayed over them much. Through this process I was constantly being confronted about different things in my life that the Lord wanted to reveal to me and also to remove. Often, as I came daily to that workbook, I can remember the Lord working in me step by step and, through many tears, I started having victory after victory! Yes, there were falls in between, but they became fewer and fewer as I understood more about myself through doing that work and sharing here in the group.

"I tried for too many years to stop on my own. Like you, I was a prodigal son, constantly coming home and then running away again to do my sin. I hated this, but could not stop. Praying and crying to God seemed an endless, useless thing. Now, with the steps, the help of others, and allowing the Lord to move in my heart, things are moving forward.

"When I was back in the States last summer, I went to Reading, Pennsylvania, often, visited with John J., and went to some of the groups he led. I saw others in those groups and made an interesting observation concerning them and the men in our group. Those who stuck with the Steps, really worked on them seriously, and did not give up--they made progress. Others did not get into it in a serious manner. I shared with John J. about some of the men I was working with in our on-line chapter at that time who were sort of trying, but were not taking the steps seriously. He told me that until they started really working a good program, they would probably make little progress. The workbook is not some miracle-working formula, but is based on and filled with God's Word, and His Word transforms our lives as we learn to apply it to ourselves. Those steps deal with different areas that need to be faced and resolved in our lives.

"I hope I have not said too much. It's just that this has all meant so much to me! Forgive me for being so long. God bless you!" --Dale S

POINTS TO PONDER

"Sinners see something in sin that none can see but themselves. ...It is like Eve's sight, to see the Godhead growing upon a tree!—if she would eat, and sin against God, she should be like God in knowing good and evil. So do we fools. We think if we will commit such a sin we will be happy. But it is a mistake. We are beguiled in the end, and this is the case of many who go away from God. ...Learn to know the vanity of sin and the excellence of God, and then ye cannot go wrong. The soul that sees Christ, and considers what is in Him, it must love Him. And there is none out of love with Christ but such as see Him not." [Quaint Sermons of Samuel Rutherford, p. 218]

"...What an unspeakable evil sin must be! We would not have been altogether ignorant of the awful evil of sin, even if it had not gone the length of the blood of God. We could not have shut our eyes to the way that sin has cursed and enslaved the soul of man. Death here, and hell hereafter, would surely have burned something of the diabolical evil of sin into the most sin-seared conscience and into the most stone-hardened heart. But all the sick-beds, and all the death-beds, and all the lazar-houses, and all the mad-houses, and all the battle-fields, and all the desolated homes, and all the broken hearts of men and women, from the fall of man to the day of judgment, would not have proclaimed to earth and heaven and hell the unspeakable malice and wickedness of sin. God's own blood, shed by sin and shed for sin; that alone, in all the universe, is the full measure of the infinite evil of sin." [Alexander Whyte, The Apostle Paul, p. 186]

“...We live in a sex-driven society. We are a bunch of emotionally, relationally and physically starved beings prostituting ourselves to anyone or anything that helps us silence the ache that resides within us.” [Alan Chambers, Exodus Impact, (December 2006), p. 1]

“Transgendered people are much rarer than those with same-sex attraction, and it is quite hard to find identical twins in this category, but a survey of the scientific literature...in which twins were studied gives nine cases of transgender concordance and 12 cases of discordance in identical twins. I mention this because if the condition were genetic, all identical twin pairs (who have identical genes) would both be transgendered. They are not.” [Neil E. Whitehead, Ph.D., “A Woman Trapped In a Man’s Body?” NARTH Bulletin, (Winter 2005), p. 9]

"...Ed Silvoso says, 'A stronghold is a mindset impregnated with hopelessness that causes one to accept as unchangeable something known to be contrary to the will of God.'" [Neil T. Anderson, A Way of Escape, p. 110]

When Mother Teresa was asked by an interviewer, “Why are you so holy?” she replied, “You sound as if holiness were abnormal. To be holy is normal. To be anything else is abnormal.” [Pulpit Resource, Vol. 28, No. 2, p. 54]

TRUTH APPLIED TO LIFE!

Most of our unhappiness and emotional struggling is caused by the lies we tell ourselves!
This is a critically important truth and the major premise of Dr. Chris Thurman’s wonderful book, The Lies We Believe: The # 1 Cause of Our Unhappiness.

Dr. Thurman, a Christian psychologist, recommends the approach suggested by Dr. Albert Ellis for identifying the lies we believe and replacing them with the truth that sets us free. It’s the “ABC” approach.

[A] represents the event that you experience that triggers a lie. It can be a major or a minor one, anything from being late for an appointment to being fired from a jog.

[B] represents “self-talk”—what you tell yourself mentally about the event. Your self-talk may be a lie, or the truth, or a mixture of both.

[C] represents your emotional re-action to that “self talk”. It can be anything from joy to despair.

Let me share a “light bulb” moment in my life that was related to a lie from my childhood that I believed was the truth and affected a situation in the present that I was able to work through because of reading this book.

I recently moved down the street to be near my girlfriend. The weekend that I moved, she planned a trip to the beach with her friends. She did not help me unpack as much as she could before she left. I thought I was all right with that, but the next day I woke up and looked around at all the work I had to do. I felt really alone and abandoned.

My self-talk went from “she doesn’t love me” to “she hurt me”. This led to the extreme reaction of wanting to break off our relationship. I rolled these thoughts around in my mind for three days and it got to the point of effecting my health. I went from emotional lows to emotional highs and I was filled with anxiety.

As I thought about the book and my past, I realized that many of these thoughts and feelings came from my childhood. When I was growing up, my mom and dad would leave me with my grandmother. I felt abandoned by them. My grandmother loved me very much, and when she died, I also felt abandoned.

I realized that the abandonment I was feeling when my girlfriend went to the beach stemmed from my childhood feelings of abandonment from my parents leaving me in someone else’s care and my grandmother’s death. The idea that I was abandoned was a lie. My mom and dad did not abandon me but always came back to take me home. My grandmother did not abandon me when she died. She couldn’t help it! My perception of these events, however, was abandonment. This was also my perception when my girl friend went to the beach. Again, the idea that I was abandoned was a lie based on the same sort of perception I had when I was a child.

By using this “ABC” approach as I wrote in my journal, I was able to resolve some of the internal issues by recognizing the lie I believed. I understood where the lie came from and was enabled to replace it with the truth.

That is part [D]—truthful self-talk. This is difficult because we learned many lies when we were growing up and it is often difficult to discern the truth.

However, with the help of the Lord, I was able to put things in perspective. As I was lying in bed one night, once again feelings of abandonment came flooding in as I thought about my girlfriend and my childhood. It was as if my emotions were rushing back and forth from past to present. Suddenly I was able to separate the past events and the present event in my mind and was able to see the reality of each event separately and clearly. I prayed to the Lord to heal the memory of the little boy who felt abandoned and was able to calm down and go back to sleep. I realized that the present event had nothing to do with the past events. The lie had been recognized and the memory healed.

As a result of all this, I have learned, when something happens in my life and I feel pain, to be more aware of my self-talk and to evaluate whether what I am saying to myself is true or false. Only thus can I discern what my correct response to whatever is happening is.

Dr. Thurman’s book has made me aware of many lies that have caused me much unhappiness. Self-lies, worldly lies, marital lies, distortion lies, and religious lies are all discussed in a clear, easy to read fashion. The traps into which we so easily fall are outlined so that we can avoid them and the misery they bring. If you are tired of making yourself unhappy and want to know more joy in your life, I recommend this book. You will find it very helpful for your daily life.

--David E.

POINTS TO PONDER

“Most of us feel we are controlled by our emotions. We think that if we don’t feel like doing something, we can’t do it. We think that if our feelings suggest something to our minds, the feelings reflect reality. If there ever was a lie, a real whopper, that’s it. Let me give you a principle that can change your life: Your mind controls your emotions, and you control your mind. Feelings, emotions, and proclivities are not reality. Anyone who tells you different has lied to you.” [Steve Brown, If Jesus Has Come, p. 136]

"One hundred decoys were placed on the Izu peninsula of Japan to attract endangered albatrosses and encourage them to breed. For more than two years, a 5-year-old albatross named Deko tried to woo a wooden decoy by building fancy nests and fighting off rival suitors. He spent his days standing faithfully by her side. Japanese researcher Fumio Sato, talking about the albatross's infatuation with the wooden decoy, said, 'He seems to have no desire to date real birds.' So it is with all people who put their affections upon the gods of this world instead of placing their love in the Lord God." [World (2/20/99) in Leadership, (Fall 1999), p. 79]

"The worst ignorance in the world is not to know ourselves." [J. C. Ryle, "Luke" II, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, p. 181]

POINTS TO PONDER

"...He is the wisest of men who has the worst opinion of his own heart..." [Alexander Whyte, Bunyan Characters I, p. 32]

“Homosexuality...is one of the results of the Fall, just as every other proclivity to sin is.... There is no such separate condition as homosexuality—just sinners with different forms of sexual weakness and different degrees of identity confusion.... Homosexuals are men and women like the rest of us, and all of us sinners are either wrestling with or giving in to our particular sexual vulnerabilities.” [Dr. John White, Eros Redeemed: Breaking the Stranglehold of Sexual Sin, p. 151]

"I am here not to realize myself, but to know Jesus." [Oswald Chambers in Pulpit Helps, (January 1999), p. 6]

"Whether a child comes out of homosexuality or pursues the lifestyle, parents need to see their children as more than 'gay' or 'ex-gay.' He/she is a person, not just a sexuality. ...Sexuality is not an identity...'" [Regina Griggs quoted in Awakening/Reach, (November 2002), p. 1]

“The Life of Christ shows us that neither a committed, exclusive partnership nor sexual experience is essential to personal fulfillment. Jesus, who lived the only perfect human life, was single and celibate. The need not to be ‘alone’ may be met through friendships without sexual intimacy. Indeed, while human sexuality is affirmed in the Bible, its significance is also qualified. Our true humanity does not ultimately rest in our sexuality but in fulfilling our capacity for personal communion with God.” [Christopher Townsend, “Homosexuality: Finding the Way of Truth and Love,” Cambridge Papers, Vol. 3, No. 2, (1994), p. 3]

“The disposition of people today is to listen to anything and everything...as an indication of broadmindedness and charitableness. Of course, it is, in reality, nothing of the kind, but an evidence only of stupidity and worse. People who talk like that think more of their stomach than of their mind, for they would never be content to eat anything and everything, food and filth alike.” [W. Graham Scroggie, “The Gospel of Mark,” The Study Hour Series, p. 83]

“Don’t believe what your emotions tell you. Believe what God’s Word tells you. Your emotions must be redeemed by Jesus.” [Corrie ten Boom, Each New Day, p. 76]

“As long as we remain committed to what we think we know already, or locked into what we think we want. We will never be open to the mind renewal process.” [Mary Heathman, “Good Touch—Bad Touch,” A Measure of Grace, (October 2005), p. 5]

“If you are not sure who you are, it must be because you have not yet found your true self in Jesus Christ. Perhaps you have never come to him in faith, trusting him to save you from your sins and make you a child of God. Or perhaps you do trust in Christ, but you are still looking for your identity somewhere else. The only way to find ourselves is to come to God in Christ. Those who are in Christ know exactly who they are. We know who our Father is, for we are sons and daughters of the Most High God. We know who our siblings are, for we are brothers and sisters of all God’s children. If you are a Christian, that is who you are, and who you will be forever.” [Philip Graham Ryken, “Galatians,” Reformed Expository Commentary, p. 155]

“Who am I? What is my ‘self?’ The answer is that I am a Jekyll and Hyde, a mixed-up kid, having both dignity, because I was created and have been re-created in the image of God, and depravity, because I still have a fallen and rebellious nature. I am both noble and ignoble, beautiful and ugly, good and bad, upright and twisted, image and child of God, and yet sometimes yielding obsequious homage to the devil from whose clutches Christ has rescued me. My true self is what I am by creation, which Christ came to redeem, and by calling. My false self is what I am by the fall, which Christ came to destroy.” [John R. W. Stott, The Cross of Christ, p. 285]

“If the Church is not considered a safe harbor for people tempted by sin, perhaps we share some responsibility when they fall.” [Joe Dallas quoted in Exodus Impact, (December 2006), p. 1]

“The Human Genome Project, which completed mapping the human genetic molecular structure in 2003, has yet to find a ‘gay gene’...

Dr. Brad Harrub, Bert Thompson, and Dave Miller, note that the search for a gay gene has consistently failed over the past two decades in spite of the efforts of gay activist researchers to locate a genetic basis for homosexuality.

“The authors observe: ‘Skin color and other genetic traits can be traced through inheritance patterns and simple Mendelian genetics. Homosexuals are identified not by a trait or a gene, but rather by their actions. Without their action, they would be indistinguishable from all other people.” [Frank York, “Science Versus the ‘Gay Gene,” NARTH Bulletin, (December 2004), p. 21]

“We are the product on the one hand of the fall, and on the other of our creation by God and re-creation in Christ. This theological framework is indispensable to the development of a balanced self-image and self-attitude. It will lead us beyond self-acceptance to something better still, namely self-affirmation. We need to learn both to affirm all the good within us, which is due to God’s creating and re-creating grace, and ruthlessly to deny (i.e. repudiate) all the evil within us, which is due to our fallenness.

“Then, when we deny our false self in Adam and affirm our true self in Christ, we find that we are free not to love ourselves, but rather to love him who has redeemed us, and our neighbor for his sake. At that point we reach the ultimate paradox of Christian living that when we lose ourselves in the selfless loving of God and neighbor we find ourselves (Mk. 8:35). True self-denial leads to true self-discovery.” [John R. W. Stott, “Must I Really Love Myself?” Christianity Today, (May 5, 1978)]

“If you and I have souls that are unconquerable, the sky’s the limit. If we really are our own master and captain, watch out world!

“What seems so right is, in fact, heresy—the one I consider the most dangerous heresy on earth. What is it? The emphasis on what we do for God, instead of what God does for us....

“Most people see themselves as ‘masters’ of their own fate, ‘captains’ of their own souls. It’s an age-old philosophy deeply ingrained in the human heart. And why not? It supports humanity’s all-time favorite subject: self.” [Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart, p. 278]

“What were once vices are now the manners of the day.” [Seneca in Inspiring Quotations: Contemporary and Classical, p. 94]

Step 6

We learned to claim our true identity

that, as humankind,

we are part of God’s heterosexual creation

and that God calls us

to rediscover that identity

in Him through Jesus Christ

as our faith perceives Him.

FREE AT LAST!


I stumbled out of the church office with grief knotted in my stomach like a fist. If I heard one more pat answer to my problem I thought I'd scream. I didn't need pat answers. I needed help. Real help. And I didn't know where to find it.

I'd been counseled enough to understand why I had the problem. I'd been raised in a hopelessly dysfunctional family by an alcoholic father and mother in poor health. I'd suffered repeated rejections by my father. I'd been molested as a child. In fact, child molestation had plagued my family for several generations. My own grandmother had tried to kill me in the womb by hitting my mother's protruding belly with a fireplace poker. I knew all that. What I didn't know was how to overcome not only that past, but also the thoughts and desires that plagued me now.

Where had my life gone? Here I was in my 40s. I'd expected to be comfortable and secure by now. What did I have to show for my time on earth? Two failed marriages, four children I hardly knew, and a lifestyle of gay bars. A lifestyle I despised.

Sometimes my life seemed like a bad dream. Maybe if I pinched myself really hard I'd wake up and be 20 years old again--newly saved, newly Spirit filled and ordained as a minister of the gospel. Back then, in 1960, new converts weren't discipled. They just waded into the ministry with youthful zeal.

I had preached, pastored and evangelized. Those were the days when I thought I had the answer to the world's problems. Now, 20 years later, I was face to face with the reality that I didn't even have the answer to my own problems.

I was miserable. For 12 years I'd lived a lifestyle that I knew was sinful. I had received prayer. People had laid hands on me and cast out demonic spirits. But I wasn't free.

In gay bars I met a lot of people who had been raised in Christian homes. I wasn't the only one who didn't know how to live victoriously over the sin of homosexuality. Ironically, the man I lived with also had been a minister.

There's nothing more miserable than being a Christian and living outside of the will of God. I was under constant conviction about my sin, yet I felt hopeless about how to change. I drank vodka to cope--a half-gallon of vodka each week.

Eventually my roommate and I, both desiring to find help in God, started back to church. One Saturday when I was going to buy vodka, I heard a voice I recognized --the voice of the Holy Spirit.

"There's no point in buying that vodka," the Lord told me. "You are not going to drink it."

Instead of my usual large supply, I bought only one bottle. Strangely, the next morning I didn't take a drink before church. That morning my roommate and I rededicated our lives to God. We didn't just decide to try it God's way. We made a firm commitment. We trusted God with our sexuality. We trusted Him with our alcoholism. We trusted Him with our minds and emotions. We trusted Him with our lives. We made a decision that sink, swim, live or die, we were going to serve God.

One gut-wrenching, teeth-clenching month later we poured that last bottle of vodka down the drain. The decision to obey God at all costs had paid off.

I discovered that there was only one way to deal with this sin and that was through a no-compromise stance. I simply knew that if I compromised, I'd fall. It was too risky.

I was determined to follow God by faith and threw myself into the services of the church. I began attending Full Gospel Business Men's meetings and at one of those meetings I met Barbara.

"I seemed to run into Bill everywhere I went," Barbara says. "I saw him at church. If I went to a special service somewhere he was there. He had a tremendous zeal for God."

"As our friendship grew, I--as a widow--was saying I would never marry again. But the Lord corrected me. 'Don't say that,' He warned. 'You don't know what My plans are.'

"I had heard a talk show discussing homosexuality. A man phoned in to share his experience. He didn't identify himself, but I recognized his voice. It was Bill. I prayed and asked God how I should respond if Bill told me about his past. The Lord said, 'It's not going to change anything because Bill's past is forgiven. It's gone.'"

On our second date, I told Barbara about my past. From that day on we spent hours together talking each day about the Lord and His plans. On October 20, 1989, we were married.

My roommate, who was now working in our church, has continued living for the Lord and we are good friends. I still had some issues to work through--especially the molestation I'd experienced as a child. Ever since, Satan had been building a nest in me which needed to be cleaned out. I needed the Repairer of the Breach to heal my inner man.

I found a group of people who worked with others overcoming the sin of homosexuality and, with their help, experienced some inner healing. One of the most difficult things about coming out of the homosexual lifestyle is the battle for the mind. Not only are there memories to deal with, but also pornography is an integral part of the homosexual culture. It took a long time to get rid of the memories of some of the filth I'd seen and read and heard. I discovered that there's only one way to cleanse the mind of filth--to wash it out with the Word of God. It was through this continual, cleansing process that my mind and heart were filled with truth and liberty.

One of the first things Barbara shared with me was her collection of tapes by Kenneth and Gloria Copeland. These tapes carried a no-compromise message with a strong emphasis on the word of God. By them I was discipled and their teaching gave me a leg to stand on and food for my spirit and soul.

Today God has called me to reach out to men and women who are caught in the same trap which stole so many years from me. I'm starting an HA chapter in my area, and my wife, who has always known that the Lord has had a call on my life, is standing right with me in this work. Pray that God will help me show others the wonderful truth He's shown me: that whenever you find your self in a valley of temptation, if you'll reach your hand to Jesus, He'll lead you to the mountain. And the mountain is worth the climb.

--Bill G.

[Adapted and revised with permission of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Inc., Fort Worth, Texas 76192, Believer's Voice of Victory, Vol. 21, No. 7, 1993, Kenneth Copeland Publications]

IT HAPPENS!

“The fluidity of sexual orientation was demonstrated on a segment of the television show 20/20 when activist Joann Loulan, who spent 22 years in a lesbian lifestyle, reported that she was involved in a two-year relationship with a man.

“Ms. Loulan, according to an April 17th, 1998, segment of 20/20 had been an ‘in-your-face’ advocate for lesbian rights. Considered the ‘Dr. Ruth’ of lesbian sex, she broke with her activist friends when at age 50, she began an affair with a 35-year-old man.

“’For the first two months’, she admitted, ‘I didn’t even tell my close friends... I thought if I tell people this, they’re going to flip out.’ She reported receiving hate mail because of the relationship. One letter said, ‘You wrecked it for thousands of lesbians.’ Many of her lesbian friends abandoned her.

“A psychotherapist, Dr. Paula Rust, told 20/20 viewers why she was the object of so much hostility. ‘It blurs the boundaries between being lesbian and being heterosexual. It calls into question the aspect of choice. It might imply that being a lesbian is a choice, and so that might subject other lesbians to pressure to choose heterosexuality.’

“Concluded the show’s moderator: ‘As we got further into this story, we found that JoAnn’s situation is not so unusual. [NARTH BULLETIN, (August 2000), p. 23]

POINTS TO PONDER

"In a nutshell, recovery means taking back what we lost in the Fall, recovering our place as God's image bearers, as stewards of the earth." [Henry Cloud and John Townsend, False Assumptions: Relief from 12 "Christian" Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy, p. 82]

“Recovery is recovering something you already have.” [Elayne Savage, Don’t Take It Personally! P. 209]

"This...is precisely the challenge of discipleship—giving up what seems like our very selves to find our true selves." [Os Guinness, Fit Bodies, Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don't Think and What to Do About It, p. 21]

"Give me, O Lord, that highest learning, to know thee; and that best wisdom, to know myself." [The Works of John Wesley XI, p. 320]

OUT OF THE DARKNESS!

In 1994, as I was driving to my job, while still sexually involved with another woman, I heard John J. speak on a Christian radio station. Everything he said rang true with me as he spoke of his own struggles, HA, and Elizabeth Moberly's book, Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic. I knew I had to call him. I did, he sent me some information, and a new life began to open up for me.

I was scared. I had struggled on my own with these feelings for nine painful years. I was wonderfully born again in 1972 but no one told me I needed healing from a painful past which included mental, physical, and sexual abuse. These things were not often spoken of back then and I was so walled off and self-imprisoned that I never understood what a healthy Christian walk with the Lord meant. So after nine years of fruitless trying, I fell back into lesbianism thinking nothing else could take away the pain.

My parents were trying to build a restaurant when my sister and I were born. The nightlife was very compelling for them. My mother would leave us to join my dad who was already at the restaurant partying. It was only one hundred feet away, but it might as well have been a hundred miles, because it took my parents from me. They often had someone come over to check on us. One night a cousin came over and got on top of me, trying to have sex with me. Thank God I was too wiggly and squirmy for him to succeed, but he then raped my sister. She was so traumatized she couldn't remember what happened for years. Now she remembers terrible fear, being unable to yell or scream, and a dreadful feeling that she was going to die.

By the time I was three, my mother's behavior changed because of her drinking. Many times when she would get us up for school, it was a terrifying experience as she hit us with a comb or brush or jerked us around like rag dolls because she was still in a drunken stupor.

My parents decided to send us to an aunt's farm when we were three or four on the weekends, the busiest time of the week at the restaurant. I felt they were trying to get rid of me and didn't love me any more. While I was staying at the farm, a farm hand began to molest us either together or individually. I tried to tell my aunt what was happening, but no one listened or did anything, so I gave up. Eventually I began to look forward to his grabbing me. Someone was giving me attention! I even made a game of it, saying, "Catch me if you can."

This was my life for the next thirteen years. It seemed as if my sister and I were on our own by age seven or eight.

Drinking changed my father too. He and my mother were arguing and fighting because of their drinking--it seemed like all the time. I remember seeing my mother with a swollen face and a black eye because the drinking had led my dad to emotionally, verbally, and physically abuse her.

My parents never planned it this way. My mother never drank before she got married. My dad wanted a family. But ambition--the drive for success--the restaurant with its liquor license--all this meant the destruction of their lives, their home, and their children.

In the midst of all this turmoil, I began reinventing myself when I was five or six. I said, "I'm not going to be a weak little girl any more. It's painful, shameful, and hopeless. I don't want to be like my mother! I want to be strong! I want to be in control! I want to be like that farm-hand!" I only wore dresses when someone made me. I wanted work pants and work shoes like the farm hand had. Since my sister and I couldn't help each other, we were both driven into our own self-contained prison.

Puberty kicked in when I was twelve or thirteen and I thought it was nature's cruelest trick because my body was changing, making it clear that I was what I despised--a woman! I wanted to go back to my elementary school days when I was the softball player the boys always picked first, when I was one of the boys! Now I was stuck being a girl and I didn't know what to do. I was sad and confused.

I tried to be like a normal teenager and be interested in boys, but it didn't work. I became extremely angry and took it out on my sister and my aunt.

By the time I was fifteen, my uncle began trying to take advantage of me sexually. A few times he had a bachelor friend stay for the weekend and they both would try to rape me in my bedroom. They both weighed over 200 pounds and It took all my strength to keep them from having their way with me. I never figured out where my aunt was at those times.

I began to drink. I already had access to all I wanted in my parents' restaurant. I also had access to x-rated porno magazines and books and began fantasies about having sex with other women in which I played the male role. I felt guilty but couldn't stop. My schoolwork suffered. By the time I was 19, I was a full-fledged alcoholic. I wound up in a psychiatric hospital.

Self-hatred, booze, lesbianism, conversion, backsliding, misery--all these flashed before my eyes that day I heard John J. on the radio. I was miserable and ready to be helped, and God in His rich mercy lifted me up out of the pit!

How? I gave my life back to the Lord, got back into Church, became active in HA, began working in Lord, Set Me Free!, went to HA's seminars and conferences, started an HA chapter where I live, and entered psychotherapy with a very capable Christian woman professional counselor. She and my pastor showed me compassion from both sexes and I have seen in them the tender, caring side of God as I experienced His forgiveness and longsuffering with them.

Today I couldn't be more excited about how God is changing me! The sufferings of the past have been peeled off layer by layer like an onion and the tears have flowed, but the joy has come!

I'm thrilled to be a woman! It brings tears to my eyes as I see in the Bible how Jesus honored women, affirmed their identity, and compassionately dealt with them and touched them at their deepest point of need. As I hear the Lord call hurting women, "Daughter," the ice which encircled my heart melts. I see how hating myself cost me dearly, shutting me off from intimacy with God who made me a woman and robbing me of close friendships, family, and other experiences of a normal life. I rejoice in the love of Christ who gave Himself for me and for my sins on the cross. He calls me "woman" and I hear Him loud and clear! --Carolyn H.

INTO THE LIGHT!

When I was very young, I dreamed that the Lord came to me and touched my head. From that point on, I knew that there was more to this world than what I could see with my eyes.

I was the youngest of five children, the baby, but my mother wanted a girl and that had a negative effect on how I felt about myself. When I was three or four, a male neighbor molested me. As a result, I crawled inside myself. I became afraid of people. I would hide under my bid. I withdrew from adults, including my father. I felt terrible shame.

I started watching TV for hours every day as an escape and would identify, mostly with female characters. When I was alone, I would imitate those female characters I watched on TV. I lived in my own little world.

I did not like school and had few friends. I withdrew and felt lonely here also. When puberty hit, I felt awkward and strangely attracted to boys. I hoped this was just a phase, but it stayed with me as I grew into adulthood. I began drinking when I was seventeen so I would be socially accepted. This began my addiction to alcohol. As I grew older, my drinking got worse.

In my early twenties, I decided I might be gay because I felt no real attraction to girls. I had my first homosexual encounter when I was twenty-three. That left me feeling guilty, depressed, and dirty. Still, there was something about that encounter that I enjoyed, even though I knew it was wrong.

I began leading a double life: straight by day and “gay” by night. I was miserable, I wanted to stop, but didn’t know how. Homosexual activity became an obsession.

I hoped travel would help me, so I moved to Colorado and then to Palm Springs, California. There I plunged into the lifestyle head-on. I partied more and more and began using crystal meth (speed) as my drug of choice. It helped numb my feelings of guilt and shame, but I was spinning out of control.

Hoping for some stability in the midst of chaos, I took a lover and we got involved in a “gay” church. God reached through all that error and darkness and touched me. I accepted Christ with my whole heart and He began the long, slow process of showing me the way out of the darkness into the light.

It took several years before I hit bottom. Oddly enough, God used my drug dealer to tell me about a Christian men’s home that would take me in, clean me up, and teach me the Word of God.

Reluctantly, I entered the home where they taught me about Jesus, the devil, and spiritual warfare. It was difficult, but I pressed on, got through the program, worked in the home, and even became head staff.

When I left the home, I soon relapsed and found myself back in homosexual behavior and drug use. I felt terrible! I was so convicted of my sin. I cried out to Jesus. He never left me despite my sin, but He certainly didn’t want me to keep living that way.

Christ led me to go back home to Pennsylvania where I found a Bible-believing Church and began to attend. There I focused on the Lord, but still didn’t feel right. Even though I was serving the Lord, I felt something was missing. There were still issues that I needed to deal with.

I couldn’t pinpoint the problems, but, as I read Alan Medinger’s Growth into Manhood, I realized how much of normal growth I had missed while living a homosexual life. At the end of the book was a list of several organizations where help could be found. Among these was Homosexuals Anonymous.

I called the office and spoke to John J. who was very understanding and helpful. He sent me information on the ministry and encouraged me to attend a meeting.

I went to my first meeting and was encouraged to find that I was not alone in my struggles. I also learned that there is more to recovery from homosexuality than simply stopping acting out. There are deep emotional wounds that need healing and a defensive attachment from persons of the same-sex that needs to be undone so that the unmet, same-sex, parent-child needs that were not met in our childhood can be met and normal growth can resume.

I love the HA workbook, Lord Set Me Free! It is rich with the Word of God and each step has helped me work through issues that had kept me trapped in darkness. I’ve learned how to come clean and be honest with myself and others. Those wonderful steps are helping me tremendously in my walk with God, and He’s using them to heal my soul.

I’ve been attending HA meetings regularly for over three years now, have attended the Recovery Seminar, the Training Seminar, and the HA Conferences, and I’ve been richly blessed as I met other strugglers and made new friends. I thank God for HA, because, without it, I would not be where I am today.

I met a woman named Tierry at my church; we became good friends and are seriously dating now. She blesses me wonderfully.

God has done so much for me through the ministry of HA that I felt a strong desire to give back to the program. I started a chapter in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and recently volunteered my time at the Reading office. John J., who has been a blessing to my life and a good encourager, gave me a list of pastors in the area to contact and tell about the ministry and how it has changed my life. The response was tremendous and those good ministers blessed my soul more than they could know.

HA has needed a staff person for some time and God gave me a burning desire to spend the rest of my life serving Him in this work. I met with HA’s Board, and they offered me the position. I accepted with great joy. I am excited to work for such a vital and needed ministry.

Please pray for me as I begin the great work to which God has called me. Pray that God will keep me faithful in all things and will use me mightily to glorify His Name through this ministry as we spread the good news that Jesus Christ can and does set men and women free from the bondage of homosexuality. He did it for me and is doing it for others

. --David E.

A PASTOR’S EXPERIENCE

We asked a pastor who used our materials with a young man he was counseling to share his experience with you so that other pastors and counselors may take heart and be willing to reach out to hurting men and women with the truth that there is freedom from homosexuality in Christ!

The pastor writes: “I had just finished serving as the Spiritual Director for a long, three-day weekend retreat with about forty-five men. I was really tired, but the plea over the telephone, ‘Will you help me?’, was so intense that I had to answer, ‘Of course I will help you!’

“The young man told me a long story of ten to twelve years of pain and suffering due to a homosexual struggle. He was living with another man and our weekend retreat had given him the courage to make the phone call to me.

“I told him that I had been counseling hurting people for many years and that I had just purchased a workbook from Homosexuals Anonymous entitled Lord, Set Me Free! I suggested that we use it as the basis for our work together.

Thus we began to meet for two hours every afternoon for fifteen weeks as he struggled through the early steps of that great workbook. I was astounded at the bibliography attached to the workbook—literally hundreds of published books all setting forth the idea that Jesus Christ is ready, willing, and able to free anyone who really wants to be free of those confused longings for another Father to assist in the struggle to find real fulfillment in life.

“Many of the steps were difficult for him to take. We always prayed before and after each two-hour session. I always ended our prayers by asking the good Lord to free him from those deep feelings he had been struggling with. As he began to make serious progress and sensed the power of the Lord to redirect his thinking, I realized that he was going to become free of all those earlier attractions.

“We finally finished the 14 steps. He was jubilant! ‘Now I know that I’m really free!’ he cried out to me. I hugged him and he thanked me again and again for being the change-agent who helped him accomplish his victory.

“When we first began, I stressed the importance of working hard and seriously on the workbook and of being constant in his attendance at church. I also cautioned him against the coming attacks of the enemy: ‘Remember now, no more fantasies and no more masturbation!’ He agreed, and even though this was a tough struggle, the Lord won that battle for him.

“My friend continued working on his issues, and a number of weeks after our time of meetings, he called to tell me that he had been dating a woman who had been a lesbian, that he was going to her church with her on Sundays, and that they had fallen in love. He said that they were thinking of getting married and asked if I would ‘stand with him at their marriage ceremony’. I happily agreed and many weeks later met her and encouraged him. I was with them as they were married in her church.

“He called me when they returned from their honeymoon. I asked him this question: ‘Did the Lord heal every part of you when you went through the 14 steps?’ He laughed because he knew what I was asking him. ‘Oh yes He did! He healed me completely!” He laughed and I thanked the Lord again for His wonderful grace!

“A year later he sent me a picture of his wife and their new son, and just lately, through the grapevine, I have heard that they are expecting their second child. Praise the Lord! Thank you Jesus!

--Rev. Spencer Quick, Clayton, NC

(Name used with permission)

POINTS TO PONDER

"Nearly all the knowledge we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves." [John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion I.i.1. Volume I, p. 35]

"As our culture shouts loud messages to us about who we're supposed to be and what we're supposed to do to be fulfilled, growing numbers of Christians are becoming confused about their identity and purpose.... When we inadequately exalt God and instead exalt ourselves openly or subtly, aware or unaware, then we make ourselves vulnerable to wrong perceptions about ourselves." [Carol Cornish in Women Helping Women, p. 72]

"It came as a shock to me that 'being true to myself' was impossible, for I didn't yet know myself." [Mary Heathman, "Flying on Auto-Pilot," A Measure of Grace, (April 2000), p. 2]

"The future depends not upon what others decide to do, but upon what you decide to become." [Frank Buchman quoted in Karen Greene, 12 Steps Illustrated, p. 10]

"You need not worry about where you yourself are. You watch your thoughts or ideals. If you thoughts or ideals are in the right, it will not be long before you yourself will be there, but, on the other hand, if your thoughts or ideals are bad, it will not be long before you will be there. If you want to be sure of your thoughts and your ideals all you need to do is to center them upon Jesus Christ and what He would have you do, and everything will be right with you." [Leslie E. Dunkin in 500 Things Your Minister Tried To Tell You, p. 62]

“The Opinion Research Corporation recently asked 1,072 practicing psychiatrists for their views on various aspects of sexuality; 207 responded. When asked if homosexuals could be changed to heterosexuals, 53% responded ‘yes,’ 24% were ‘not sure,’ and only 22% said ‘no.’ An interesting finding in this political climate!” [NARTH Newsletter, (March 1993), p. 3]

"What, sir, would the people of the earth be without women? They would be scarce, sir, almighty scarce." [Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) in Paul Dickson, Toasts: The Complete Book of the Best Toasts, Sentiments, Blessings, Curses, and Graces, p. 290]

"Marriage is our last, best chance to grow up." [Joseph Barth in Robert J. Ackerman, A Husband's Little Black Book, p. 21]

VERY INTERESTING!

Peter Singer, a bioethics professor at Princeton University, wrote a piece titled “Lasting Love Looks Beyond the Physical: The Greatest Threat to Marriage May be Attraction.” that originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on the web-page of The Philadelphia Inquirer, posted May 5, 2003. Our thanks to Pete C. for bringing it to our attention.

Singer tells the story of his grandfather, David Oppenheim, and his grandmother, Amalie Pollack, and of their unusual marriage.

Several things made it unusual. First, Amalie was three years older than David and his parents doubted the wisdom of his decision to marry her. Second, David felt that the foundation of his relationship with Amalie was “the clear insight into the worth of your character.” Not very romantic! Third, and for us most interesting, David had earlier been in love with a young man named Victor, and Amalie seems to have had an erotic interest in women. What chance would such a marriage have? It all depends on the character of the people entering it!

At the time David and Amalie were planning to marry, arranged marriages were still common in Eastern Europe. Had they lived a few generations earlier, they would almost certainly have had little choice about whom they would marry. In such a culture there was often neither love nor appreciation of the worth of the other’s character before marriage. “With luck, one or both of those would come afterward.”

Singer notes that although his grandparents chose each other, they came from a tradition that realized “that romantic love is not the key to a good marriage.” “...My grandfather married a woman whom he admired for her intellect and fine psychological insight rather than for her physical appeal. Even after they had decided to marry, he did not think her beautiful.”

How did it turn out? “The relationship between my grandparents lasted more than 30 years and was ended only by David’s death in the over-crowded, underfed Nazi ghetto of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia.… People who knew my grandparents have described the marriage as ‘exemplary,’ ‘wonderful’ and ‘probably the best marriage I have ever encountered.’”

“But what about passion?” you might ask. Singer says, “The passion seems to have come later—sufficient, in any case, to produce two children, my mother and my aunt.”

This is not to suggest that everyone struggling with homosexuality rush out and get married! It is far better to work on recovery first (something not available to David and Amalie) and marry later, when good progress has been made.

It is to suggest that those strugglers who are married need not give up hope for a satisfying relationship. Much depends on the character of the struggler and his or her spouse. If they truly love each other and have not bought into the passion-mad folly of our culture, they have a very real chance at true happiness. Hang in there and never give up on each other so long as the struggling spouse is working on recovery and finding ways to be faithful. After all, when you took your vows you promised to keep yourself only for the other “till death us do part.”

Further, here is hope for the struggler who fears he or she is doomed to be forever alone. Others have been where you are and have built a happy, satisfying marriage. Be diligent. Go to your meetings. Work your workbook. Undo your defensive detachment. Get your unmet emotional needs that were not met in your relationship with your same-sex parent fulfilled in healthy ways. Have the courage to build solid, emotionally intimate friend-ships, first with persons of the same sex, then with persons of the other sex. Watch God work. You may be surprised!

--John J.

POINTS TO PONDER

"I am a man and you are a woman. I can't think of a better arrangement." [Groucho Marx in Les Parrott III and Leslie Parrott, Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, p. 91]

“Overcoming homosexual behavior can be such a life-dominating struggle that people who struggle often feel as if they are the only ones who have this burden to bear. Their focus has become very narrow, preventing them from seeing the struggles and burdens in those around them. The truth is that all Christians are called to change. We all have lifestyles that must come under the Lordship of Jesus. All of us are in the process of change and becoming that which Christ has ordained for us.” [Bob Ragan, “Fifteen Years of Observation,” Regeneration News, (May 2003), p. 1-2]

“There are four things very necessary to be known by all that would see heaven. 1. What man was in the state of innocence, as God made him. 2. What he is in the state of corrupt nature, as he hath unmade himself. 3. What he must be in the state of grace, as created in Christ Jesus unto good works, if ever he be made a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light. 4. What he will be in his eternal state, as made by the Judge of all, either perfectly happy, or completely miserable, and that for ever.” [Thomas Boston, Human Nature in Its Fourfold State, p. 8]

"All men that are ruined are ruined on the side of their natural propensities." [Edmund Burke in Milton Lomask, Aaron Burr: The Years from Princeton to Vice President, 1756-1805, p. 264]

“Basically the answer to the question Who am I? is this: I am a person created in God’s image with a longing to love and to be loved. One of the things we know most fundamentally about God is that God is love. Because God has created us in His image, God has built into us a capacity and longing for love.... The problem is, of course, that….both our capacity to love and our capacity to receive love can become distorted.” [Juanita R. Ryan, “Seeing Others More Clearly,” Steps, (Vol. 12, No. 3), p. 4]

“The homosexual movement tells homosexuals that their arousal is their destiny. This is a slander against God. We must learn not to trust our sinful affections and erotic interests, but to submit all of this to the objective authority of God’s Word. By God’s grace, we must all come before the throne of Christ and pray that God will order our affections, our passions, and our erotic interests to his glory. We must say that to ourselves, even as we say it to the homosexual. All of us stand under the same need for forgiveness and with the same accountability before our creator.” [R. Albert Mohler, Jr., “Homosexual Marriage as a Challenge to the Church: Biblical and Cultural Reflections,” Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, p. 122]

TOUCH AS AN INSTRUMENT OF HEALING

Somewhere in my early life I developed the belief that I was untouchable because of my homosexual feelings and experiences. While I dated girls in my teenage years, I took any “no” as a sign that I was undesirable to others. In college I married and was able to relate well to my life, but there was still an inner-self that had a split: one side was my public life in which I functioned well; the other side was my “private” life which was the “bad” me. This secret part of me—my homosexual desires--grew until I was out of control.

I finally got up enough courage to seek out a pastoral counselor to whom I confessed my homosexual struggles. He was a warm, com-passionate man who empathized with me, even though he knew nothing about how to help a homosexual struggler. When he took my hand to pray with me, it made me feel very good because I felt untouchable.

Later I entered therapy with a psychologist who did know about treating a homosexual struggle through psychotherapy. He helped me get in touch with my inner feelings. As this began to happen, I would often disassociate. I felt like I was in outer space with nothing to support me. I was able to make it through these experiences because I was sitting beside my therapist who would hold my hand or at time put his arm around me in an embrace and allow me to embrace him. When I was dealing with experiences in infancy, he held me in his lap like a baby. I learned that I was touch starved from childhood mainly as a result of my own shame and guilt. All this supported me through the darkest period of my life—remembering my feelings as a child. I was able to tolerate the fears and emotional pain because of touch. My therapist clearly understood his own sexuality.

He also found another therapist who did massage work to release the tension in the individual’s body and to release his or her pent up emotions. This therapist and his wife worked together as a team. He did the massage and she would hold me at times of extremely deep emotion. Once during one of those sessions I even called her mother. These treatments helped me progress.

During the time I was able to find a male friend who was willing to hold my hand as a friend. It was like his masculinity was being transferred into my own psyche. Later another friend was willing to do body massage and use holding techniques that greatly reduced my homosexual desires and gave me a sense of inner peace.

My life-long desire had been to know a man, but in my confusion, that desire was sexualized. Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse’s book, Homosexuality: A Symbolic Confusion, spoke clearly to my situation.

Today I can say I have experienced a oneness with a man without a sexual component. I have been able to bond with another male—something I had never been able to do with my father or any other man largely due to my own sense of guilt and shame that made such bonding impossible.

This has brought me a real sense of belonging as a male to the male population and a real sense of my proper place in the world of women. Touch with my wife is to love, cherish, and protect her. Touch with a male is to continue this bonding as the male that was lost in childhood. I am no longer afraid of the masculine, but see it in its proper perspective. If a man feels more feminine than masculine, where else would he turn to find love but to someone of the same sex. Once that changes, the direction of love changes too. I became a man among men, so that I could become a man among women. Today I am in touch with my own sexuality. I know who I am!

--Elton M.

POINTS TO PONDER

“Fathers, hug your sons—or some day, another man will.” [Dr. Dean Byrd, NARTH Bulletin, (December 2004), p. 44]

“Every cell of a person’s body contains chromosomes which identify that individual as either male or female. It is not simply a question of different genitals. Before birth prenatal hormones shape the brains of boys to be different than those of girls. Mutilating surgery and hormone treatments can create the appearance of a male or female body, but it cannot change the underlying reality. It is not possible to change a person’s sex.” [Richard P. Fitzgibbons, M.D., “Can a Person’s Sex Be Changed?” NARTH Bulletin, (Winter 2005), p. 7]

“Like the creature of nature, sex is a part of God’s good creation. Yet, just as birds drop and bees sting, human sexuality can create sudden messes and unanticipated pain in many lives. [“Desperate Times: How did sex become just skin-on-skin instead of soul-to-soul?” Leadership Journal, (Winter 2006), p. 30]

“It is…true that my life has been dented, scarred, and mangled in places by the consequences of the sins of others against me—directly and indirectly. The truth is that the consequences are here and they are now. They are not going away; they cannot be undone. They can be redeemed and transformed but they cannot be undone. No amount of revenge towards my perpetrators or penance from them is going to change the reality that my life is affected by what has happened. When I can let go of this longing to return to innocence of the past, I am stepping towards freedom...” [Nancy Hicks, “Forgiveness,” A Measure of Grace, (March 2004), p. 4]

Romans 1:24-31 says the wrath of God is revealed in those who commit heterosexual, homosexual, and various non-sexual sins. “In addition, the divine condemnation is deserved, not only by those who do these terrible things, but also by those who approve of them, those non-judgmental types who embrace the pale, flaccid I-will-not-impose-my-morality-on-others theory. God’s judgment falls, then, not only on the malefactors themselves, but on the society that condones, permits, or approves such malefaction.” [Patrick Henry Reardon, Touchstone Magazine, (January 25, 2005]

Though no one can go back

and make a new start,

anyone can start from now

and make a brand new end.

[Carl Bard quoted in The Best of Barbara Johnson, p. 460]

“Noah didn’t wait for his ship to come in—he built one!” [Awakening-Reach Newsletter, (August 2003), p. 1]

Step 7

We resolved to entrust our lives

to our loving God

and to live by faith,

praising Him for our new unseen identity,

confident that it would become visible to us

in God’s good time.

I FOUND REAL JOY!


I was born, one of seven children, into a poor family with an alcoholic father at the head. From my earliest memories, I longed for his love and attention, but it seemed he had none to give. My mother died when I was four years old. My siblings and I were immediately placed in foster care.

The home was far from ideal. It was very clear to me that we were second-class citizens. While the rest of the family ate steak, we were served oatmeal. We had no blankets for our beds, so we used our coats to keep warm at night.

The rooms were cold, so when the oldest son invited me into his bed, underneath his warm covers, I didn't mind. It was nice to be warm and have someone pay attention to me. For the first time in my life, I felt loved and wanted. Neither of us knew the damage he was doing.

It was not long before my aunt and uncle were able to adopt me. They were kind and loving, but I was unfamiliar and uncomfortable with the kind of love they offered. In my preteen years, I, again, became a victim of sexual abuse. It was a kind of attention I was comfortable with. I didn't complain.

By age 12, I had experienced more of the darkness in this world than many people see in their whole lives. Numerous abusive encounters left me confused about my sexuality. With no stable foundations to build upon, I began to believe I was homosexual.

High school was hard. I was different, and my teenage peers did everything they could to remind me of it. Their teasing was cruel and merciless.

I was caught up in a whirlwind of turmoil; still struggling with my sexuality. I had no friends—no one to talk to. I needed someone, anyone, to understand my anguish, so at age 17, I tried to take my life. It was not much more than a desperate cry for help, but no one took notice—nothing changed. My aunt and uncle never spoke of the incident and my loneliness suffocated me.

I finally turned to the only place I'd ever found acceptance. I went to see the man who had abused me when I was 12. We spent the night together. I could see no other direction for my life.

As I entered adulthood, I was aimless and restless—a dangerous combination. I spent many nights just driving, around in my car. One night, as I drove, I had the great fortune of getting stuck in a ditch. A kind man stopped to help me. As he assisted me out of the ditch, he began talking about the revival meeting from which he had just come. It sounded interesting, so when he invited me to the next meeting, I accepted. At the meeting, I heard the good news of Jesus Christ and of the free gift He offered me. That night, I accepted Christ's sacrifice on the cross as payment for my own sins, and trusted in Him as my only way to heaven.

I felt brand new! I had always known my homosexual actions were wrong, but now I had the power to overcome these feelings. The freedom and joy so filled me that I could talk of nothing else for almost three months.

When I became a Christian, I thought my sinful longings would be taken from me forever, so, when my homosexual desires began to surface again, I was angry and confused. I was so ashamed; I just couldn't let other Christians know what I was struggling with.

I thought perhaps marriage would be the solution, and so I married. This only served to emphasize my homosexual feelings. I kept my longings a secret, and became depressed and introverted to the point that even answering the door or phone was an unbearable task.

Six years and two children later, my wife divorced me. My sons and I moved in with her parents, who cared for the children while I slept constantly—waking only to go to work. When I was awake, I considered the many different ways I could kill myself: drugs, alcohol, carbon monoxide and firearms. I tried them all. My very last attempt took the form of sleeping pills.

God had decided that He was not through with me here on earth. As I lay in the hospital, recovering from the overdose, my pastor visited me and helped me understand what I really needed to begin my recovery:

(1) I learned that everyone is tempted. Even Jesus was tempted. My response to the temptation is what's important.

(2) I learned there is nothing I can say or do that will shock God, or keep Him from His love for me.

(3) I learned to cry out to God in my moments of weakness and to draw strength from Him.

(4) I learned of His promise to help me—anytime, anywhere.

(5) I learned that through Him, I can overcome my sin.

When I was released from the hospital, I got in touch with Homosexuals Anonymous on the recommendation of my pastor and wonderful healing began taking place.

I also became part of a Bible study group where I met the beautiful, loving woman who is now my wife. I knew if God meant us to be together, my homosexual struggle would not be an issue for her—it wasn't. She is a joy and a blessing to me!

My healing continues and fills my heart with deep joy—a delight I want to share with others. I am starting a chapter in my area. Our recent first meeting was great! God has been so wonderfully good to me!

--Tim C.

POINTS TO PONDER

"It often seems more difficult to trust God than to obey Him. The moral will of God given to us in the Bible is rational and reasonable. The circumstances in which we trust God often appear irrational and inexplicable." [Jerry Bridges, Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts, p. 17]

THE OVERCOMER’S COVENANT IN CHRIST

“I place all my trust and confidence in the Lord and I put no confidence in the flesh—I declare myself to be dependent on God. I know that I cannot save myself, nor set myself free by my own efforts and resources. I know that apart from Christ I can do nothing. I know that all temptation is an attempt to get me to live my life independently from God, but God has provided a way of escape. [Cf. Philippians 3:3; Ephesians 2:8,9; John 15:5; I Corinthians 10:13]

“I consciously and deliberately choose to submit to God and resist the devil by denying myself, picking up my cross daily and following Jesus. I know that my soul was not designed by God to function as master. I know that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. [Cf. James 4:7; Mark 8:34; I Samuel 15:23]

“I choose to humble myself before the mighty hand of God that He may exalt me at the proper time. I know that God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. [Cf. I Peter 5:6; James 4:6]

“I declare the truth that I am dead to sin, freed from it and alive to God in Christ Jesus, because I have died with Christ and was raised with Him. I know that the law and all my best efforts are unable to impart life, and that Jesus came to give me life. [Cf. Romans 6:1-14; John 10:10]

“I gladly embrace the truth that I am now a child of God, who is unconditionally loved and accepted. I reject the lie that I have to perform to be accepted, and I reject my fallen and natural identity which was derived from the world. I know that it is not what I do that determines who I am, but who I am that determines what I do. [Cf. I John 3:2; Romans 4:4-7; Galatians 5:24; 6:14]

“I declare that sin shall no longer be master over me because I am not under the law, but under grace; and there is no more guilt or condemnation because I am spiritually alive in Christ Jesus. I am a servant of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. [Cf. Romans 6:14; 8:1,2; II Corinthians 5,6]

“I renounce every unrighteous rise of my body, and I commit myself to no longer be conformed to this world, but rather to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. I choose to believe the truth and walk in it, regardless of my feelings or circumstances. I know that before I came to Christ my mind was programmed according to this world and I used my body as an instrument of unrighteousness thereby allowing sin to reign in my mortal body. [Cf. I Corinthians 6:19,20; 9:27; Romans 12:1,2; 6:12,13]

“I commit myself to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. I choose to think upon that which is true, honorable, right, pure and lovely. I know that the Holy Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. [Cf. II Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8; I Timothy 4:1]

“I commit myself to God’s great goal for my life to conform to His image. I know that I will face many trials, but God has given me the victory. I am not a victim, but an overcomer in Christ. The grace of God will enable me to triumph over every trial resulting in proven character. [Cf. Romans 8:29,35-37; 5:3-5]

“I choose to adopt the attitude of Christ, which is to do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind I will regard others as more important than myself. I will not merely look out for my own personal interests, but also for the interest of others. I know that it is more blessed to give than to receive.” [Cf. Philippians 2:3-5; Acts 20:35] [Neil T. Anderson and Mike and Julia Quarles, Freedom from Addiction, p. 335-337]

While this book is directed primarily toward substance abusers, there is much in it for those who struggle with homosexuality. We recommend it to those seeking freedom from homosexuality, remembering that about 30% of those who have a homosexual struggle also battle substance abuse.

POINTS TO PONDER

"I was a mere lad! I went one day up to the third story of our home, where we had a great storeroom where we put away the old books out of the library, and as a boy I loved to go and sit on the floor of that room, and get the books around me and look through them, and one day I came across the covenant of the church of my mother, and commenced to read it, and I said to myself, 'I wonder if I cannot be a Christian?' I can say 'Yes' to that, and can say 'Yes' to that, and that, and after a time I came to a place where it said something to this effect, 'If I become a Christian I was to be willing to do anything God said, and go anywhere He said.' I shut up the book and said, 'No, just as likely as not I'll have to be a preacher if I say "Yes" to that, and then life wouldn't be worth living.' And I threw that book away and deliberately refused to take Jesus Christ, and deliberately refused to think about it any more. Then I said to myself, 'I am going in for all the pleasure I can get'; and I had a good opportunity to get it. My father was well off in this world's goods; and as a boy of fifteen I was sent off to the university and matriculated for a degree, and my father sent me up all the money I wanted. Now, if you put a boy into a university, who learns easily and has no trouble to keep up with his class, a boy with a rich father, who does not ask him how he spends his money—I have often thought it would have been a good thing for me if he had—if anybody can have a good time, he can, and I went in for a good time. Did I find it?... I did not. And I went deeper, deeper, deeper, deeper into dissipation and sin to find joy to satisfy my unsatisfied heart. I did not find it, and one awful night..., with all hope gone, with life desolate and...barren...I started to take...my life by my own hand. I sprang out of bed and drew open a drawer to take out the instrument that would end my life. For some reason or other I could not find it. God did not let me find it, and I dropped upon my knees, and said, 'O God, if you will take this awful burden from my heart, I will preach the Gospel;' and God not only removed the burden, I found a joy I had never dreamed of in this world..." [R. A. Torrey, Revival Addresses, p. 149-150]

"If God would give unto you all created pleasures and build you a Paradise of all created things, yet never be content until ye get Christ Himself." [Quaint Sermons of Samuel Rutherford Hitherto Unpublished, p. 383]

“A man is born again when the control of his life, its center and its direction pass from himself to God.” [Samuel M. Shoemaker, National Awakening, p. 57]

BOLT THAT DOOR!

A few years ago, Episcopal Bishop John Spong ordained Robert Williams to the priesthood though Spong knew he was a practicing homosexual who Spong believed was living in a monogamous relationship.

A month later, Williams addressed an Episcopal symposium on gay and lesbian marriage where he stated that “celibacy is unnatural and spiritually inhibiting and monogamy is just as bad. ‘If people want to try, OK. But the fact is, people are not monogamous,’ he declared. ‘It is crazy to hold up this ideal and pretend it’s what we’re doing and we’re not.’ When a priest challenged him by asking whether he thought Mother Teresa would be better off taking a lesbian lover, Williams testily replied: ‘If you’re asking me do I think Mother Teresa ought to get laid, my answer is “yes.”’” [Kenneth L. Woodward and Larry Wilson, “The Fall of a Gay Priest,” Newsweek, (February 12, 1990), p.61]

This is interesting for a number of reasons. For one thing, it shows the folly of well meaning but ill-informed people who, by permitting or encouraging relationships which God forbids, apparently deem themselves wiser than the Omniscient! [See The Bible and Homosexuality available from HAFS.]

More importantly, Williams’ story may show us our own folly. Some of us harbor a romantic illusion, a door in the back of our minds through which we half-consciously plan an escape if the road to recovery proves too painful or takes too long to suit us. We think, “If this doesn’t work, perhaps I can find love in a monogamous gay relationship. That will be all right since it’s not as bad as all those one night stands.” If that door is not bolted, it may lead to folly, sin, disappointment, despair, and even death!

The fact that one course of action is not “as bad as” another does not make it “all right.” To beat someone half to death is not “as bad as” murdering them, but it is surely not “all right”!

God’s Word clearly forbids all homosexual activity. This is not an arbitrary imposition but a word of compassion from the God who loves us so much that He gave His Son over to the cross that we might enjoy forgiveness and freedom. God knows our struggles stem from unhealed wounds from childhood. He wants to heal those wounds. He understands that many of us are sexual addicts who cannot, by themselves, stop risking their lives for a “fix.” He cares about our welfare and thus cannot approve our misguided attempts to find comfort. He must urge us to true joy in His good, acceptable, and perfect will. The question is, “Will we trust Him?”

As Mr. Williams clearly warns, to search for a monogamous gay relationship is to seek a mirage. Look at the facts! “West in England, Giese in Germany, and countless American scientists and homosexual writers agree with Kinsey’s conclusion that long homosexual relationships between men are notably rare. Many homosexuals say they are looking for a lasting affair and are quick to shack up, but in fact have a series of brittle, stormy, short-lived relationships.” [Arno Karlen, Sexuality and Homosexuality, p. 526f.]

Dr. Robert Kronemeyer notes that the Kinsey Institute “reported in 1978 that the average gay male had at lease five hundred different partners during his sexual career, most of whom are strangers and one-time contacts. By contrast, the average heterosexual male has—throughout his life—from five to nine sex partners; he usually cares about these women and enjoys sex repeatedly with them....

“Three out of ten homosexual men have never had a relationship that survived the one-night stand, and most gay men have never had an exclusive relationship with another gay that lasted as long as six months. Gay magazine pertinently remarked that what ‘starts early in one’s experience as a way of avoiding involvement can become a life-style that leaves in its wake a genuine emptiness.’” [Overcoming Homosexuality, p. 32]

Gay sociologist Dennis Altman writes, “While the idea that all lesbians seek totally monogamous relationships while all gay men reject monogamy is clearly a myth, it does seen clear that among gay men, a long-lasting monogamous relationship is almost unknown. Indeed both gay women and gay men tend to be involved in what might be called multiple relationships, though of somewhat different kinds.” [The Homosexualization of America, p. 187, emphasis his]

Dr. Joseph Nicolosi reports on the in-depth study conducted by a homosexual couple, one a psychiatrist, the other a psychologist, undertaken to disprove the reputation that gay male relationships do not last. Drs. David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison titled their study The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop.

“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 these 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.” [Joseph Nicolosi, Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality, p. 111, emphasis his]

Nicolosi notes, “Many writers propose that homosexual behavior should not be judged by heterosexual norms, and that conclude that fidelity is impractical in natural homosexual relationships...” [Ibid., p. 140]

Dr. Robert J. Kus says, “...Research on gay male couples indicates that total monogamy in gay male couples is rare. In the study of Blumstein and Schwartz, 82 percent of the gay couples were nonmonogamous in their current relationships and in later years monogamy was virtually nonexistent among gay male couples.” [“Sex, AIDS, and gay American Men,” Holistic Nursing Practice, (August 1987), p. 45-46]

Dr. Margaret White cites a survey published in the British Journal of Sexual Medicine in April 1987. “Two London residents admitted to having five hundred partners in one year; twelve admitted to five thousand partners in their lifetime (most were under forty years old); and 10% admitted to having sexual intercourse with between one thousand and five thousand. Most men had between one hundred and five hundred partners during their lives, and between six and fifty in the past year.” [AIDS & The Positive Alternative, p. 73-74]

Dr. Robert Gagnon notes, “In 1994, the largest gay magazine in American, The Advocate, published the results of questionnaires returned by 2,500 of its adult male homosexual readers. In the course of the relatively short average life span of the respondents (thirty-eight years old), only 2% had had sex with just one man. Fifty-seven percent had more than 30 male sex partners, and 35% had more than 100. In the past year alone, about two-thirds (63%) had five or more...” [The Bible and Homosexual Practice, p. 455]

The data is equally depressing for homosexuals in a “relationship”. “A Dutch study of the sexual habits of one hundred fifty-six male homosexual couples published in 1994 reported that, on average, each partner had seven other sex partners in just the one year preceding the survey. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of these ‘close-coupled’ gays were nonmonogamous in that same one-year period. The number of outside partners in the first year of the relationship averaged 2.5; by the sixth year of the relationship, the number increased to eleven.” [Ibid., p. 456, emphasis his]

“A 1997 study of 2,583 homosexually active men in Australia found that, of those over forty-nine years old, one quarter (26.6%) had more than 10 male partners in the past six months alone, half (44.9%) had between 2 and 10, and a quarter had just one (28.5%). In the course of their lifetime to date, only 2.7% of the older men (and just 2.9% of those under 50 years of age) reported having had just one male partner. The percentages for the other response categories are astounding: 2-10 male sex partners, 10.2%; 11-20, 14.1%; 21-50, 12.9%; 51-100, 11.8%; 101-500, 21.6%; 1000 or more, 15.7%. Thus nearly 9 out of every 10 of those over 49 years old had...more than 10 male sex partners, and of these the majority had over 100.” [Ibid., 455, emphasis his]

As Donald Webster Cory, a pseudonym for Edward Sagarin, “a professor of sociology in a prominent New York City University” and “the father of the homophile movement” [Toby Marotta, The Politics of Homosexuality, p. 330, 20] and John P. LeRoy stated: If a homosexual “expects that his casual sexual partner will, somehow or other, turn out to be a lover or life companion, his chances of having these hopes fulfilled by reality are rather small. In the few instances in which this sort of thing does happen, it is an event that excites widespread excitement among gay circles. Stories, true or exaggerated, are handed down to the effect that the invert met his lover at a gay bar, bath, or what have you, and is not ‘happily married’ for umpteen years. The impressionable young homosexuals who hear these stories see it as the realization of the Cinderella legend and do what they can to try to make it come true for themselves.... Unfortunately, far too many homosexuals view gay life as a means of finding a lover when its function is primarily one of finding a trick!” [The Homosexual and His Society: A View From Within, p. 29-30, emphasis theirs]

While less research has been done on lesbians, the data that exists shows that “Lesbian relationships are likely to be more stable and lasting than those of males.” Still, “Most of the unions last three years or less.” [Kronemeyer, op. cit., p. 41] Yvonne Zipter, a lesbian, in an article entitled “The Disposable Lesbian Relationship,” in Chicago’s gay journal Windy City Times, notes that “the lasting lesbian relationship” is a “mythic entity.” [Windy City Times, (December 15, 1986), p. 18]

What’s the outcome of all of this? “The cost of random and depersonalized sex, needless to say, is loneliness.” [Kronemeyer, op. cit., p. 32]

Listen as Tennessee Williams describes his own experience: “I live from day to day attending Group Theatre rehearsals, walking about town, eating, meeting people, falling into bed now and then with or without an accomplice. I ache with desires that never are quite satisfied. This promiscuity is appalling really. One-night stands. Nobody seems to care particularly for an encore.” [Lyle Leverich, Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams, p. 347] “The cold and beautiful bodies of the young! They spread themselves out like a banquet table, you dine voraciously and afterwards it is like you had eaten nothing but air.” [Ibid., p. 424} “I shall have to go through the world giving myself to people until somebody will take me.” [Ibid., p. 366] When Williams became a success, his biographer writes, “While he didn’t object to paying for a one-night stand, from this point on Tom would be darkly suspicious in trying to distinguish an extended hand of friendship and a sweaty palm.” [Ibid., p. 568] And always he suffered the loneliness. “’I don’t think it’s sex I want,’ he wrote. ‘It is the dread of coming up alone to this little room at night. And going to bed and turning my face to the wall.’” [Ibid., p. 477] “Late in life, he was asked to define love, and his reply was, ‘Not being alone.’” [Ibid., p. 502]

As devastating as the loneliness that plagues many homosexuals is, there are even worse things that await some who abandon themselves to this way of life. Listen to a homosexual reporter, the late Randy Shilts, as he shares the story of one man. Ken Horne was a young man who moved from Oregon to San Francisco in search of love, looking for a man he could “marry.” “When he did not find a husband, he took the next best thing—sex—and soon sex became something of a career. It wasn’t love but at least it felt good.... As the focus of sex shifted from passion to technique, Ken learned all the things one could do to wring pleasure from one’s body. The sexual practices became more and more esoteric; that was the only way to keep it from getting boring.” [And The Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, p. 46] Yet he still felt, “Life is a disappointment.” [Idem.] What did he get from all this? Ken Horne was the first reported AIDS case in San Francisco [Ibid., p. xiv] and “at 1 A.M. on November 30, 1981, George Kenneth Horne, Jr., gasped one last tortured breath and lapsed into perfect darkness.” [Ibid., p. 100]

What did he give his life for? Listen as Shilts describes the homosexual scene in San Francisco. “The gay sexual scene became progressively depersonalized. At first you’d sleep with a person, hug all night, talk and have omelettes in the morning. Then you skipped the breakfast because just how many omelettes can you make before it gets boring? Then you wouldn’t spend the night. With the bathhouses, you wouldn’t even have to talk. The Glory Hole and Cornhole clubs came into vogue next. There, you wouldn’t even have to see who you had sex with.” [Ibid., p. 58]

Nor is this unique to San Francisco or something recent. Albert Bell of the Kinsey Institute writes, “A modal view of the white male homosexual, based on our findings, would be that of a person reporting 1,000 or more sexual partners throughout his lifetime, most of whom were strangers prior to their sexual meeting and with whom sexual activity occurred only once. Only a few of these partners were persons for whom there was much care of affection or were ever seen socially again.” [Male and Female: Christian Approaches to Sexuality edited by Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse and Urban T. Holmes III, p. 139]

Robert Williams simply confirms what researchers have said all along: a monogamous gay relationship is a will-o’-the-wisp. To look for it is to seek disappointment and frustration, to add to your pain, and to risk your life!

Is it any wonder that a loving God would tell His children, “This is not the way. Do not walk in it!”? Do not turn away from Him when He is seeking your welfare. Instead, commit yourself to walking with Him as you build healthy relationships with Christ and with others.

For relationships with others, start with people of the same sex. As Christian psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Moberly writes, “An attachment to the same sex is not wrong, indeed it is precisely the right thing for meeting same-sex deficits. What is improper is the eroticisation of the friendship.” [Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic, p. 29] Dr. Margaret White says, “Many people have a deep love for someone of their own sex. Such relationships have had social acceptance and even admiration, but it is when the agape of self-giving love turns into the eros of sexual gratification that the church’s condemnation starts. It can do no other if it is to be true to both Jewish and Christian tradition” [Op. cit., p. 21]. When your same-sex needs have been largely met, you can then move on to relating to the other sex as God leads and, if you so choose, marriage and family.

You may be saying, “It all makes sense. I want to entrust my life to God and follow His Word, the Bible, in all of life, including my sexuality, but I’m just not strong enough. I’d like to build healthy friendships with others of the same sex, but I’m afraid! I just can’t get emotionally close to them. It’s like there’s a wall in my heart that keeps them out. There’s no hope for me!”

That’s not true! There is a fellowship of men and women who have banded together to help each other find the freedom you long for. You need not face your struggle alone. Help is available! They can encourage you to walk with God and find the strength to overcome.

Call the number of the HA office or chapter nearest you. Plan to attend the HA Conference. We will help in any way we can. Don’t let fear rob you of that for which you long and lock you in a prison from which you want to be free. God bless you!

--John J.

POINTS TO PONDER

“It sounds strange to say, but the grace of God seems to present us with a dilemma.... Sinners can find grace, but not sinners who refuse to believe God’s promises, or who hate God, or who reject Jesus.... Rebels like ourselves can find pardon, but only if (in some sense) we are no longer rebels. Any bum can come to this banquet, but he must be wearing his wedding clothes.” [Ron Julian, Righteous Sinners, p. 16-17]

“Unbelief is not a misfortune to be pitied; it is a sin to be deplored. Its sinfulness lies in the fact that it contradicts the word of the one true God and thus attributes falsehood to him.” [John R. W. Stott, “The Letters of John,” Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, p. 185]

"Whatever it be, influence, honor, or pleasure, or anything else that thou followest, if it come between thee and Christ, thou art a loser in seeking it." [Quaint Sermons of Samuel Rutherford Hitherto Unpublished, p. 363]

I SURRENDER!

In March 2004, I recognized what had been true for a long time, but I had been too much in denial to see it. I realized that my life had become totally unmanageable and started the process of recovery.

During my first year in recovery I gave lip service to the word surrender, but it was not until July 2005, that I learned the meaning of the word.

I had thrown away everything I had learned in my first seventeen months of recovery, turned away from God, my wife, my counselor—everyone.

I went back to my addiction for a few hours and had sex with another man. Then I turned around a week later as a result of the terrible guilt I felt and told my counselor what I had done.

Then I told my wife. She was so upset that she had to be watched the entire weekend so that she would not commit suicide because of the grief and betrayal she felt because of my sin. When I finally got out of the house I drove like a wild man, going nowhere! I felt like a wild animal let out of its cage. I saw myself as a wild stallion that did not want to be broken, but wanted to be free to run wherever it wished and not be under the control of anyone. And then I surrendered to God and said, “OK. You can put the saddle on me.”

Today I feel like a wild horse that has been broken. Is my surrender perfect? Imperfect people never do anything perfectly and I confess, sadly, that every so often, I want to throw God out of the saddle and be “free” again. But I think I’ve learned that that “freedom” is really bondage and I know that my surrender, if imperfect, is sincere.

While my background helps explain why I made such bad choices, it does not make them either right or good. I grew up in Detroit, Michigan. My parents were alcoholics and adulterers. Because I was the youngest of five children, by the time I was twelve, I had no sibling at home and was left to raise myself.

My parents would go to the bar until two a.m. while I sat in fear at home alone, until they got back. I was afraid that someone would break into the house and kill me, because when I was ten my brother had broken into the house and my dad almost stabbed him with a knife. My mom had a lover and my dad left my mom for another woman, only to come back to her and us kids.

When I was five, my fifteen-year-old sister forced me to have sex with her when I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. As she grabbed me and pulled down my pants, I felt very afraid and helpless and wanted to run away.

The next morning I woke up to find I had wet the bed. From that moment on I shut down my emotions and lived in fear of going to the bathroom until I was ten. I was angry with my parents because they made no effort to find out why I wet the bed. My grandmother would verbally abuse me for wetting the bed at night and I lived in fear of her. I was so traumatized by the rape that I completely blocked it out of consciousness until a year ago when I was 54. At last I had the key to many of my childhood fears and my bed-wetting!

When I was eight, the boy next door exposed himself to me. I remember standing there in shock as he called me into the bathroom. He wanted me to sleep with him that night and I remember begging mom to let me sleep on the couch instead. I was terrified and felt alone. When I was ten I started to masturbate. That felt good and brought some comfort for the pain inside—a pain I could not identify or understand or even acknowledge.

I first became aware of homosexual feelings when I was twelve. I would fantasize that the man on TV who hosted the children’s program was my father.

When I was fourteen, a female high school teacher tried to seduce me because her husband was impotent. At 16, my brother’s buddy, who was twenty-two, attempted to sodomize me. While he did not succeed, I was very scared and afterward went downstairs and just sat in dead silence, watching TV with my brother. I just shut my feelings down totally. I never told anyone what had happened until three years ago on Thanksgiving. Then I told my brother what his friend had tried to do to me. He just shrugged and said he’d thought the guy might have been gay. I wanted to slug him! I felt victimized all over again.

When I was twenty-two, I had sex with my roommate the day before I got out of the US Air Force. I felt sick inside and wanted to commit suicide but was too afraid to carry the thought through.

I went to college and met my future wife in Munich, Germany, where we were both studying German. After I graduated, I went to grad school to get an international MBA. A year later I got married.

At first, things were fine. Our sex life was great! Then, four years later, we started to have children. After our second child, my wife went into a depression with frightening anger. She would call me at work and threaten to kill the children and herself.

Her counselor told me she would not do that because she loved her children too much, but I was still afraid and again shut down emotion-ally. This only served to increase my wife’s anger at me. I noticed that I was attracted to a manager where I worked but just stuffed the feelings and moved to Detroit where I grew up. But the attractions toward men continued to grow stronger.

I went back to graduate school when I was thirty-nine and found that there was no question that I was lusting after men. One night an engineering manager called me at nine p.m. and offered to come over and give me oral sex. I was shocked! I could not believe my ears! I began to shake! My wife asked if I was OK and I said I was fine. The next day this man gave me a disk with a woman giving oral sex to a man.

I tried to open up to a man I knew at church but got scared and did not open up. I started calling the gay hotline to find out where gay bars were in Detroit and one night, after a big argument with my wife, I went to a gay bar for the first time in my life. I was thirty-nine years old.

I acted out with a man on the way back home from a business trip the next year. The experience was disappointing and the guilt drove me to tell my wife and my church. The church treated me like a reprobate, and my wife and children were treated like lepers. My wife was so hurt that she came after me with a butcher knife one night and I had to run from the house for my life.

Three months after this first sexual encounter with another man, I was sent to Germany for four months on my job. At first all went well, but, after a few weeks of loneliness, I started going to gay bars in Germany and met a German man with whom I had sex. It seemed to “fix” me and I found I could not stop acting out, no matter how hard I tried. I had one one-night stand after another. I lived a double life from then on. I did not tell my wife or anyone else what was happening this time.

This went on for fourteen years until I did something I would never have thought I would do in a million years! In March 2004, I hit on a colleague at work. I tried to touch him sexually in the men’s bathroom. He reported it, and I was fired.

That night I went home and had to tell my wife I had lost my job, and why. She was shocked because she thought I had dealt with all this years ago. I immediately went to a therapist who helped men find freedom from homosexuality every week, started attending a support group twice a week, and went to a recovery retreat for a weekend.

Shortly after this I got a call from a detective about my attempt to hit on my co-worker and immediately got an attorney. I found myself before a judge in May 2004, and got one year probation. Because I was already going to a therapist and support group, the court did not make me go to a state therapist and state group.

Unfortunately, from March 2004, to July 2005, I just white-knuckled my recovery. Though I thought I was working the program because I did not act out during that time, my lust and my anger were not dealt with.

Thus, in anger, I acted out again in July 2005. I told my therapist two days after the incident and he told me I had to tell my wife. I told her that Friday, and packed my bags to leave, but she went into a rage and stopped me, telling me she was planning to commit suicide. My therapist told me to keep on eye on her and call 911 if she tried to follow through on ending her life.

Late Saturday afternoon she told me to get out and that she would be all right. It was then that I drove like a crazy man feeling like that wild animal. My counselor called me while I was driving. I told him how I felt. I also told him and God that I now surrender. I am willing to let God ride this broken horse.

Yes, I am still such a fool that I want to buck every so often and tell God I want my “freedom” back. But thanks to God’s grace, a good counselor, the support I receive from Homosexuals Anonymous and Sexaholics Anonymous, I have found hope and am finding healing! --W. E.

POINTS TO PONDER

“Faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see.” [William Newton Clark in Inspiring Quotations: Contemporary & Classical, p. 67]

IN GOD’S GOOD TIME!

Unfortunately, there are a number of folk who started working on recovery, thought they had all they needed, and left recovery only to become trapped again in the old way of life. What went wrong?

It’s easy to blame the victims, saying, “They must not have been sincere.” The fact that some are asking for help belies that excuse in their case. We need to consider the Bible’s warning against healing “the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; where there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). We need to beware the “quick fix”! We have become too used to minute rice and instant pudding! There is no such thing as instant recovery from any compulsive, addictive behavior—not for us, not for anyone, unless God chooses to do the extraordinary, to work a miracle!

Early on, the HA workbook warns, “We all have differing struggles and recover on different schedules. Some of us are acting out. All have problems with thoughts. Some are out of control. Others gain and lose command of themselves several times as they work the Steps. Recovery begins for some with a certain Step, while it may not come for others until all the Steps have been worked. Healing may be sudden or (as it usually is) gradual. We are all unique.

“We must be patient with ourselves and each other, and trust God to heal us in the way best for each one. In all our struggles, we must not allow guilt, pain, confusion, or despair to overwhelm and isolate us from God or others. If we turn to God, He will forgive us. He will not abandon us but will stand with us in all our battles, till freedom is ours!” [Lord, Set Me Free: A Workbook on the 14 Steps, p. 53] If we have stumbled and fallen, let us pick ourselves up and fight again till victory is ours and we hear God’s “well-done”!

As we return to the battle, let us remember that there are things over which we have some control. Let us ask whether or not we were diligent in working our program. Did we faithfully go to our HA meetings? Did we complete the HA workbook—not just filling in the Scripture passages, but getting a step coach, doing the reading suggested, journaling, doing the assignments—all of them? Did we seek counseling, if indicated? Did we concentrate on recovery or scatter our energies in a dozen different directions, pursuing a host of competing goals? If the honest answer to any of these questions is no, let us fight the good fight more wisely so we may enjoy the victory Christ has for us.

We need to face the fact, however, that there are things over which we have no control. Some of us were wounded more deeply by family dysfunction than others, and deep wounds need more time to heal than do superficial ones.

Some of us are struggling with more than one issue and must resolve other problems blocking our heterosexual development. I know a man who began seeking freedom in HA for several years, to no avail. Then he got involved in a very destructive homosexual relationship. His uncle, a manic-depressive, committed suicide. My friend, recognizing symptoms that had plagued his uncle in himself, sought medical help and, with medication, found emotional stability. This enabled him to end the homosexual relationship he’d been in, get back in HA, and in months, strong heterosexual feelings began to surface.

For some, Borderline Personality Disorder may be a problem. “Sexual orientation is...a part of the borderline’s role confusion. ...Some researchers estimate a significantly increased rate of homosexuality, bisexuality and sexual perversions among borderlines. Homosexuality in the borderline may originate early in childhood, resulting from a number of possible factors: lack of role models, sexual assaults, an insatiable need for affection and attention, discomfort with one’s own body, and inconsistent sexual information.” [Jerold J. Kreisman, M.D., and Hal Straus, I Hate You–Don’t Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality, p. 74] “Usually, the borderline requires years of therapy, in order to achieve substantive changes in functioning.” [Ibid., p. 126]

Persons with Borderline Personality Disorder are not the only ones for whom sexual assault may cause sexual confusion. In his book, Child Sexual Abuse, David Finkelhor noted that boys who were victimized by older men were four times more likely to engage in homosexual activity when adult, than non-victims. [Child Sexual Abuse, p. 195] Sexual abuse issues are not easy to resolve. Dan Allender notes, “Many abuse victims feel their progress of change is taking too long. The assumption is that if God is involved, then the process will be brief and not too messy. If that were true, then why did God take forty years to teach Moses humility and leadership skills in the sheep fields of Midian? Deep healing, supernatural change, may take years of struggle, trial and error learning, and growing in strength to make the next significant move of faith.” [The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse, p. 274] In this connection, it is important to remember that experts on child abuse indicate that many victims (more that 70 percent) “have significantly or completely blocked the memory of it.” [Rich Buhler, Pain and Pretending, p. 124]

Thus, there are many reasons why freedom comes slowly for some. Further, there is evidence that the longer one works at recovery, the greater the chances of success. One study which reviewed the work of 77 psychoanalysts working with 106 male homosexuals, many of whom were not seeking freedom, found that only 7 percent of the patients whose analyses were of fewer than 150 hours became heterosexual; 23 percent of the patients whose analyses were of 150 to 349 hours became heterosexual; while 47 percent of those who had 350 or more therapeutic sessions achieved the shift to heterosexuality. “These statistics are not necessarily final since 26 H-patients who had not become heterosexual were still in analysis at the time of the last follow-up report. Some patients in this group may yet become heterosexual as a result of continuing treatment. All such additional ‘terminated heterosexual’ cases would necessarily fall into the ‘more than 350 hours’ category and the 47 per cent rate for this category would rise.” [Irving Bieber et al, Homosexuality: A Psychoanalytic Study, p. 278]

This last figure is especially encouraging when one remembers that “in 1967 the American Psychoanalytic Association released their finding of long-term sociologic and statistical study of the results of treatment by psychoanalysis and analytic psychotherapy. While 97% of the patients were judged by their therapists to have improved in total functioning, and a similar number of patients agreed, the over all rate of symptom cure was only twenty-seven per cent.” [Karl Lewin, Brief Encounters, Brief Psychotherapy, p. 250]

This means that people seeking freedom from homosexuality have more hope of recovery than those in therapy for a number of other conditions—if they work diligently and patiently at recovery, have a good support group, a skilled therapist, and persevere! As the Bible says, “Ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36).

This is why Step 7 urges us to be confident that “our new unseen identity will “become visible to us in God’s good time.” We set no arbitrary limits on what that time is. No one should feel any sense of failure so long as he or she is working the program honestly and faithfully. If you are doing your part, the rest is in God’s hands. He will set you free as you discover and work through the problems that have kept you bound. As you walk by faith, HA offers you support as long as it is needed without any pressure to conform to someone else’s timetable.

God is faithful! We are here for you. You are not alone. Keep trusting! Keep growing! Never give in! God will bless!

--John J.

POINTS TO PONDER

"...Poor bits of needy creatures that fall in love with the world and the things thereof, that are so... empty, come here and fall in love with Christ who can furnish you all things whereof you stand in need." [Quaint Sermons of Samuel Rutherford Hitherto Unpublished, p. 380]

“Do not pray for more of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity and is not in pieces. Every child of God has all of Him, but does He have all of us?” [Julia Kellersberger, Presbyterian Journal, (May 11, 1983)]

"You will be dead so long as you refuse to die." [George MacDonald, Lilith in The Plough Reader, (Autumn 2001), p. 52]

"Belief in absolutes is out of fashion in the West; relativism and pluralism have become 'politically correct' pollutions of the cultural air we breathe, and any affirmation of what purports to be universal truth is thought of as bad manners, if not worse." [J. I. Packer, A Passion for Faithfulness, p. 183]

"Dear God, I have a problem...it's me."

"Dear Child, I have the answer... it's Me."

[Awakening, (June 1999), p. 4]

"If we wish to say what faith is, then we must put all emphasis upon its object. For faith has to do not with itself, but with Christ." [G. C. Berkouwer, Justification and Faith, p. 175]

"Thomas Edison discovered 3,032 ways NOT to invent the light bulb before reaching his goal. The key, therefore, is to keep going. Just pick himself up and try another way." [Richard Cohen, Coming Out Straight: Understanding and Healing Homosexuality, p. xii-xiii]

THE GOOD BUT DIFFICULT FIGHT OF FAITH!

It’s cool and drippy wet out there right now; the sky is overcast and dreary gray. The bright sunshine is hidden. I can’t see through the clouds. I know the sun is there but all I can see is the bottom side of a thick blanket of clouds. I could see the sun yesterday! The spring colors were spectacular in the beautiful late afternoon sunshine. Now everything is dreary.

I know God sends rain to make things grow, to bring out the vibrant colors, to make things clean and fresh again. But I look out of my window and view the dreary world, devoid of feeling, just existing. I’m waiting for a change in the weather, knowing it will come by and by, but feeling this dreary weather will never pass.

This is like my struggle with homosexuality. I feel dreary, drippy wet, and hopeless. I know the power and glory of God is shining out there somewhere, but I can’t see it, and I don’t feel it; I only feel the cold and dampness creeping deeper and deeper into my life.

Objectively, there are signs of progress in my struggle. I know there is growth. Somewhere, in one of my yesterdays, I saw it in all its splendor and glory. But just as this dreary weather has muted the fresh and lovely greens springing up all around, my victories and growth seem muted also—muted and far away. Life seems dark. I am tempted to lose hope.

I know God is with me in the struggle. I know hard struggle is sometimes necessary in life and in recovery. But I’d like to see a thunderstorm—a spectacular miracle in my life—I’d like to be healed quickly and go on with my life. But what good would I be to God or anyone else? Struggle is needful to get the water of life down to my tender root tips, the very being of my life, so that the water of life can flow freely through me to whomever God brings across my path.

When I look through the window into my life, I see a long, hard struggle. It seems to last forever. My growth seems small, fragile, insignificant. But this slow drippy weather in my life is God’s way of bringing growth in me, bringing out my vibrant colors, making me clean and fresh again, bring freedom from homosexuality.

Now I can only see the dreary, drippy rain; but by faith I know God will send His sunshine by and by. Then I’ll stand in the middle of a lovely rainbow—completely surrounded by His love and glory.

--David P.

POINTS TO PONDER

"Faith is the wedding ring with which we have pledged ourselves to Christ." [Martin Luther's Little Instruction Book, p. 47]

“Faith is engaging in the deepest joy of heaven, knowing His unfathomable love for me as I walk through the thorny desolate now.” [Pamela Reeve, Faith Is in Charles Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart And 1,501 Other Stories, p. 197]

WILL YOU BE COMMITTED?

It’s been nine years since I began working HA’s recovery program and I cannot tell you the joy I’ve found in Christ’s new life of freedom

One lesson I’ve learned in these years that has been central to my recovery is the lesson of commitment. Learning to do God’s will no matter what I felt like has been one important key to my becoming the man He designed me to be.

I’ve always loved to sing. I was a non-step record around the house when I was growing up. I sang so much that my siblings would tell me to shut up! I would have liked encouragement, but I took their response as rejection and feared I could not sing well.

In school, I loved music but wouldn’t sing because, having a strong voice, I was afraid someone would either say I had a good voice or a bad one and I couldn’t face either response so I kept my mouth shut and my gift was never recognized. I only sang in what I thought of as a safe place—in my home, my car—anywhere people were not around. For a long time I wouldn’t even sing in my seat at church.

Finally I began to sing in my seat at church and no one said anything. I began to feel freer to let my voice out.

I moved to a larger church with beautiful, contemporary music. I loved it! I sang out and one day a lady behind me asked me if I would be interested in joining a group and sing tenor. I agreed and began attending practices faithfully. I often felt like an outsider. I thought about leaving because I felt unwanted. This was not because anyone treated me badly. It was my old abuse issues from childhood resurfacing. It was all in my head!

I sought counsel from John J. and he kept after me to keep on trying. I didn’t give up. I kept my commitments! I sang in the Christmas Choir, the Praise Team, solos, and always in my seat at church. All during this time I had to fight my feelings.

One day a man approached me in church and asked if I would be interested in singing a song with three other men. I agreed and found that I felt as if I belonged right away. They wanted me! That felt so good!

The quartet continued and I look forward to our Monday night practices. I enjoy their fellowship as much as I do the music.

I am so happy that God has used my love of music to help in my healing. He is using my gift to minister to the congregation and in return it ministers to me and brings praise and honor to God.

What gifts has God given you? Are you allowing Him to use them in your healing—to bring you into contact with Christian men and women who can help meet the unmet needs of your childhood?

Don’t allow the enemy of your soul to frighten you with feelings of being an outsider, of not belonging, of not being wanted! Make a commitment to serve God with your gifts and keep it! If you’re like me, it won’t be easy, but it will, in time, pay rich rewards!

--Joseph C.

POINTS TO PONDER

“Faith hath a light for its feet, but not to its eyes. Full vision swallows up faith in heaven; and the more vision we have on earth, the less we act by faith. Believers have not a clear sight, but they have a sure guide. Wicked men would be thought to see much, but their sight leads them out of the true way, or into the wilderness, where there is no way but that of sin, nor end but that of sorrow.” [Joseph Caryl, Bible Thoughts, p. 182]

"The golden rule for understanding spiritually is not intellect, but obedience. Spiritual darkness comes because of something I do not intend to obey. Watch the things you shrug your shoulders over, and you will know why you do not go on spiritually." [Oswald Chambers in Pulpit Helps, (July 1999), p. 22]

"The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial but not as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of regard and the staggering nature of rewards promised in the Gospels it would seem that our Lord finds our desire not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased." [C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, p. 1-2]

"To preach Christ without the cross is to betray Him with a kiss." [Charles Stanley in Strategies for Today's Leader, (Summer 1998), p. 5]

"The life that halts short of the cross is but a fugitive and condemned thing, doomed at last to be lost beyond recovery." [A. W. Tozer, The Divine Conquest, p. 62]

"For the best part of two centuries, forms of the intellectual chameleon called liberalism... have dominated the mainline churches of the West. The taproot of modernist liberalism is the idea, issuing from the so-called Enlightenment, that the world has the wisdom, so that the Christian way must always be to absorb and adjust to what the world happens to be saying at the moment about human life.... It is no wonder, then, that liberalism typically produces, not martyrs, nor challengers of the secular status quo, but trimmers, people who are always finding reasons for going along with the cultural consensus of the moment, whether on abortion, sexual permissiveness, the basic identity of all religions, the impropriety of evangelism and missionary work, or anything else." [J. I. Packer, A Passion for Faithfulness, p. 42-43]

"The trouble is, people who don't know what the Bible says, say they cannot believe it." [D. L. Moody in Pulpit Helps, (March 2000), p. 16]

THE PROBLEM OF FAITH!

If thou couldst empty all thyself of self,

Like a shell disinhabited,

Then might He find thee on the ocean shelf,

And say, "This is not dead,"

And fill thee with Himself, instead.

But thou art all replete with very thou,

And hast such shrewd activity

That when He comes He says, "This is now

Unto itself—'twere better let it be,

It is so small and full, there is no room for Me."

--Thomas Browne Contributed by Eugenio H.

POINTS TO PONDER

"We all want progress. But...if you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive." [C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 24]

"False teaching may add to or take away from the truth. Medicine becomes useless either if it has poisonous substances added to it, or if essential ingredients are left out.... The Pharisees added human traditions to God's revelation: The Sadducees subtracted belief in resurrection and angels." [Michael Griffiths, Timothy and Titus, p. 34]

"This is an intensely religious nation, but people don't want the church saying anything about their wallets or their bedrooms. We want 'God lite.' Everybody believes in God, in religious experiences, in life after death, and in justice. Nobody believes it has anything to do with the nuts and bolts of our lives." [Terry Mattingly quoted in Christian Research Journal, (Summer 1995) cited in Current Thoughts & Trends, (January 1996), p. 6]

"It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error. It is better to speak the truth that hurts and then heals, than falsehood that comforts and then kills. It is not love and it is not friendship if we fail to declare the whole counsel of God. It is better to be hated for telling the truth than to be loved for telling a lie.... It is better to stand alone with the truth than to be wrong with a multitude. It's better to ultimately succeed with the truth than to temporarily succeed with a lie." [Pastor Adrian Rogers in The Berean Call, (December 1996), p. 3]

"Everyone who comes to know Jesus stumbles because of him. He fails to meet our wrong expectations. He calls us to do impossible things or to become something we think we could never become. This is his way of teaching us how much we need him. He breaks us to pieces so that he can put us back together in his image." [Michael Card, contributed by Robin Z., Thaxton, VA]

"Wearing a cross cannot take the place of bearing a cross." [Pulpit Helps, (April 2000), p. 17]

THE POETS' CORNER

I'm Coming, Dear Jesus!


I may be slow in coming,

I may not know the way,

I have not strength to travel,

I know my will is weak.

But...

Jesus knows the proper pace,

Jesus knows the way,

Jesus shares His strength with me,

Jesus draws my will to His!

--David P.

You Said There'd Come a Day

These illusions in my head

will pass away in time,

You said there'd come a day!

Help me to believe

that real love can be mine,

You said there'd come a day!

Since true love is my destiny,

I'm where I need to be,

You said there'd come a day!

This world has done me grievous harm,

It will not always win,

You said there'd come a day!

This life has been so painful,

Praise God, it won't be long,

You said there'd come a day!

That day is close, yet seems so far,

Your promises are true,

I know our day will come!

--Anthony P.

BEACHED AT LOW TIDE

A poem inspired by the words of G. Boehm.

beached at low tide

baking in the sun

with blistering back

only makes me dream

of rolling waves

salty gales

and cloudless sky

to be transported

over leagues of schools

of predator and prey

and arrive at port

your longed for haven

to know you're home

and see your love

there are days and hours

months and years

when barnacles are scoured

it's preparation for the trek

the journey told in tome

where the jeweled ivory gates

stand open and at rest

calling all who'll hear

--Howard D.

POINTS TO PONDER

"Rabbi Joseph Gelberman used to be Orthodox and now he is Reform, of sorts. Once a year in his Interfath Temple in Manhattan, on Valentine's Day, he does marriages free. All year round he declares that he is prepared to marry anyone—Jew, Christian, Hindu, gay, straight, believer, nonbeliever. The very genial rabbi says, 'I'm not here to please God. I'm here to please God's people.' As Aaron explained to Moses about the calf." (see Exodus 32) [Richard John Neuhaus, The Best of the Public Square, p. 64]

"Our age is often described as 'permissive.' More accurately, it is 'transgressive.' 'It is forbidden to forbid' is the rallying cry and way of life of many of our fellow citizens." [Os Guinness, "Introduction," Character Counts, p. 18]

"God grants liberty only to those who love it..." [Daniel Webster in Irving Stone, "Those Who Love," Reader's Digest Condensed Books, p. 7]

IN GOD'S GOOD TIME!

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried,

Quietly, patiently, lovingly God replied.

I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate,

And the Master so gently said, "Child, you must wait."

"Wait? You say, wait!" my indignant reply.

"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!

Is You hand shortened? Or have you not heard?

By faith I have asked, and am claiming Your Word.

My future and all to which I can relate

Hangs in the balance, and You tell me to wait?

I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign,

Or even a 'no' to which I can resign.

And Lord, I've been asking, and this is my cry

I'm weary of asking! I need a reply!

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate

As my Master replied once again, "You must wait."

So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut

And grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting...for what?"

He seemed, then, to kneel, and His eyes wept with mine,

And He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.

"I could shake the heavens, and darken the sun.

I could raise the dead, and cause mountains to run.

All you seek, I could give, and pleased you would be.

You would have what you want--but you wouldn't know Me.

"You'd not know the depth of My love for each saint;

You'd not know the power that I give to the faint;

You'd not learn to see through the clouds of despair;

You'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there;

You'd not know the joy of resting in Me

When darkness and silence were all you could see;

You'd never experience that fullness of love

As the peace of my Spirit descends like a dove.

"You'd know that I give and I save...(for a start)

But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart,

The glow of My comfort late into the night,

The faith that I give when you walk without sight,

The depth that's beyond getting just what you asked

Of an Infinite God, who makes what you have last.

You'd never know, should your pain quickly flee,

What it means that 'My grace is sufficient for thee.'

Yes, your dreams for your future overnight would come true,

But, Oh, the loss! If I lost what I'm doing in you!

So, be silent, My child, and in time you will see

That the greatest of gifts is to get to know Me.

And though oft' may My answers seem terribly late,

My most precious answer of all is still, 'Wait.'"

(Anonymous) Contributed by Gary Y.

POINTS TO PONDER

“One way to define spiritual life is getting so tired and fed up with yourself that you go on to something better, which is following Jesus.” [Eugene Peterson quoted in Mark Galli, “Spirituality for All the Wrong Reasons,” Christianity Today, (March 2005), p. 45]

"Truth is slain to provide a feast to celebrate the marriage of heaven and hell, and to support a concept of unity which has no basis in the Word of God. The Spirit-illuminated church will have none of this. In a fallen world like ours unity is no treasure to be purchased at the price of compromise. Loyalty to God, faithfulness to truth, and the preservation of a good conscience are jewels more precious than gold. The religious camp followers of meaningless unity have not the courage to stand against current vogues and bleat for brotherhood because it happens to be for the time popular." [A. W. Tozer in Milk & Honey, (November 1996), p. 2]

"At various times, Jesus publicly denounced sinners as snakes, dogs, foxes, hypocrites, fouled tombs, and dirty dishes. So that His hearers would not miss the point, He sometimes referred to the objects of His most intense ridicule both by name and by position, and often face to face. Christ did not affirm sinners; He affirmed the repentant. He well understood that sometimes it is wrong to be nice." [Michael Bauman quoted in Tabletalk, (June 1996), p. 58]

"...Men find Ways to persuade themselves to believe any Absurdity, to submit to any Prostitution, rather than forego their Wishes and Desires. Their Reason becomes at last an eloquent Advocate on the Side of their Passions and (they) bring themselves to believe that black is white, that Vice is Virtue, that Folly is Wisdom and Eternity a Moment." [John Adams in Paul C. Nagel, Descent from Glory, p. 15-16]

"Happy is he who makes daily progress and who considers not what he did yesterday, but what advance he can make today." [Jerome in The Golden Treasury of Patristic Quotations, p. 124]

"The road to victory may not be so long as we expect. But we have no right to count upon this. Be it long or short, rough or smooth, we mean to reach our journey's end." [Churchill on Courage, p. 62]

"Some folks are like a skyrocket. They make a noisy git away, burst an' are never heard of agin." [The Best of Kin Hubbard, p. 104]

ONE STEP MORE

A hill is not too hard to climb

Taken one step at a time.

One step is not too much to take,

One try is not too much to make.

One step, one try, one song, one smile

Will shortly stretch into a mile.

And everything worthwhile was done

By small steps taken one by one,

To reach the goal you started for,

Take one step more...take one step more.

[James Dilet Freeman]

WE CHOOSE...

We choose how we shall live;

courageously or in cowardice,

honorably or dishonorably,

with purpose of in drift.

We decide what is important

and what is trivial in life.

We decide that what makes us significant

is either what we do or refuse to do...

WE DECIDE.

WE CHOOSE.

And as we decide and as we choose,

so our lives are formed...”

[Unknown quoted in The Best of Barbara Johnson, p. 214]

POINTS TO PONDER

“There are two main human sins from which all others derive: Impatience and indolence.” [Franz Kafka quoted in Tim Alan Gardner, The Naked Soul, p. 97]

“We are all naturally impatient in the day of trial.... We forget that Christ is too wise a Physician to make any mistakes.... The highest degree of faith is to be able to wait, sit still, and not complain.... The hand that was nailed to the cross is too wise and loving...to keep us waiting for relief without a cause.” [J. C. Ryle, “John” II, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, p. 50-51]

“We are too Christian really to enjoy sinning, and too fond of sinning really to enjoy Christianity. Most of us know perfectly well what we ought to do; our trouble is that we do not want to do it.” [Peter Marshall quoted in Powerful Thinking for Power Living, p. 277]

“Faith is trusting in Christ; repentance is turning from sin. They are two sides of the coin of belonging to Jesus.” [Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Grace of Repentance, p. 17]

Step 8

As forgiven people,

free from condemnation,

we made a searching and fearless

moral inventory of ourselves,

determined to root out

fear, hidden hostility and

contempt for the world.

A DIALOGUE OF DEMONS


(With apologies to C. S. Lewis)

My dear Wormwood:

What a pleasure to learn you have been entrusted with the care and nurture of a homosexual subject! Having a patent that is so easily bound tightly to our ways is always a unique joy. Do not overly concern yourself with the news of his commitment to the Enemy. Most of our “gay” clientele have made similar commitments at one time. Though we cannot determine their eternal destiny at this point, we can be fairly sure that with a little effort we can keep them tied to us and totally useless in the Enemy’s work.

Since I have for centuries been considered somewhat of an expert in this field of work, allow me to give you some guidelines that I am sure will help you do your task with the least effort and maximum results. Oh, my most fortunate nephew. Memorize and apply these, and the rewards of your labor will be most fruitful.

First, confuse him. His mind, and especially his emotions are heavily on our side. Confuse his identity. Worry him sick trying to decide if he’s gay, ex-gay, straight or whatever distracting category you can invent. Keep him, at all costs, from taking this “child of God” (pardon my three-letter word ... I only use it in quote) nonsense as his identity. And especially keep him from understanding and applying that dratted Matthew 6:33: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” If he ever grasps and lives out that verse, all your efforts will be of little use. Be sure, dear nephew, to keep his distracted by adding confusing questions to his fertile imagination, such as: (1) Why do I still feel gay? (2) Why doesn’t God deliver me now? (3) Why did this happen to me? etc. “Why?” “What if?” “What about?” will prove powerfully conducive to self-pity, a favorite mood we can make good use of, if whispered often enough!

Next, make him afraid. It doesn’t really matter of what; just any little fear will do, and the more fears the better. Make him afraid of the Enemy he calls “Father”. Father, bah! During his times of depression, blind him to the Enemy’s “love.” Warp his thinking. Tell him that a God of love wouldn’t allow his trials. Put a grim picture of a cruel taskmaster, a tyrannical sadist, a sort of cosmic policeman with no mercy in his mind. Cause him to view the Enemy as One Who only blesses to enjoy taking the treasure away, causing pain. Your patient has made a career of shielding himself from pain in the past. These ideas may cause him to flinch every time the Enemy reaches out to embrace and bless him

You can also use that Bible of his during depressions. He loves to flop the Bible open anywhere, stab his finger, and play a kind of scripture roulette for guidance. Well and good. Just make sure he hits all the verses on judgment, wrath, and divine retribution. Keep him away from all references to the mercy, love, peace, and blessings that comfort those who belong to the Enemy. Keep him forever tied in knots worrying about whether he’s really “saved” or not. Give him fearful thoughts of our domain of eternal torture. Get him to worry about whether or not he’s committed the unpardonable sin. Let him hear some of our teachers who claim to serve the Enemy preach on “Why God hates homos” and “Gays are reprobate.” Use them to reinforce his fears. These anxieties will insure his ultimate failure and our success. At all costs, keep his eyes off that awful Calvary!

If this fails, permeate him with fear of us. Use some of the Enemy’s misguided helpers who look for us under every rock to help you. While he’s obsessed with us, his eyes are off his “Master” and we can systematically exploit his weak points. It will be especially profitable if you can get your patient to blame all his problems and failings on us. What a splendid strategy!

Since, as I mentioned, your patient is highly emotional, we can reasonably assume he is somewhat undisciplined also. Use this to keep him from praying. Tell him there’s no sense praying when he doesn’t feel anything. He knows little or nothing of perseverance in the face of adversity. When he “feels tired” or “feels empty” it will just prove to him that it’s no use to pray, that there must be something wrong with him. Attack him every time he kneels to pray. Never let him realize that it is only when he is directing his life toward relationship with the Enemy that we even bother to attack. Never let him suspect that it is the very posture of prayer that automatically triggers our onslaught.

That wretched Bible he has will only be a threat if he disciplines himself to read it regularly. Here again his emotions will serve us: “I feel too tired to read”; “I’m not getting anything out of it”; and “It doesn’t make sense” are basically excuses. Well and good for us. It’s unlikely he’s done more than scan a few lines carelessly. What a fool! He doesn’t even suspect that the Enemy’s life is being imparted to him by reading that book. As long as he treats it like a rather dull Nancy Drew mystery, we can rest easy.

And that nasty habit the Enemy calls “fellowshipping”—stop that immediately! He’s already prone to bitterness, blame shifting, and resentment; just put those to work. Get him to think people don’t care, even when they do. Inspire unreasonable expectations of how others should treat him, and, when they fail, get him to blame them for “being hypocrites” and “not accepting me”. Before you know it (how marvelous!) he will have cut himself off from everyone in his faith realm, leaving him open for us to ravage and devour! He’ll undoubtedly return to his old friends. Discourage all prayers on his behalf by his little friends who will try to get him back. Tell them, “Why pray? He chose that life. He never was right with God anyway. God can’t make him change.” How these little creatures underestimate prayer power! Great!

Never underestimate the power of using his emotions. As long as his life revolves around what he feels rather than what the Enemy says, we have him by the nose. If he ever really begins believing what the Enemy has said, we’ve not only lost him, he could be a potential hazard to our other patients around him.

Get him to sacrifice everything of eternal value and significance on the altar of temporary satisfaction and personal pleasure. The “Santa Claus Christ” of so many churches should be a big help to you. As long as his ideal is an easy road, flowers-and-fields-forever faith, and he stays totally ignorant of cross-bearing, suffering, and desert experiences which do so much to promote his growth and our doom, we can perpetuate an exquisite frustration, self-condemnation, and self-hatred because of his failure to live up to his unreal and unreasonable theology.

Here are some more thoughts that may help you keep your homosexual subject tied to us.

He was once overheard saying, “God, if you don’t deliver me now, I’m through! Although he has repented of his hasty words, he’s still open to our suggestions along that line. Make strong and persistent suggestions like this: “If Jesus gives abundant life, why am I so miserable?” “If God really loved me, He wouldn’t let these trials happen!” Your patient seems to be an easy prey for such lines of reasoning. He knows nothing of the value of time and testing. He wants everything right now. He’ll be easy to tempt with our sense-pleasers and temporary painkillers. This life is only eternity’s dressing room; never let him know this. We know that even the most acute earthly suffering is only a fragment, a flash of eternity. We know that earthly suffering for the Enemy is followed by everlasting pleasures and rewards. He must not recognize this and it shouldn’t be difficult to blind him to it because he’s so conditioned to respond to only the moment’s pleasure. That will make it easy for us to insure his ignorance of that damnable truth that only time-tested, fire-tried servants of the Enemy are of any worth at all, and that those who survive the hottest first will one day shimmer in the crown of that One who bought them with His blood.

We have so much going for us, my dear Wormwood. The loud voice of some gays seems to be effectively drowning out the voice of the Enemy to the Church and to your patient. We even have churches presenting an easy out of the Enemy’s “discipleship plan.” And how it warms my heart, dear Wormwood, to see how many churches there are who are helping us make sure our little gay victims stay on the wide road that leads to destruction by their apathy and pride. Keep promoting their ignorance. Stir up their anger and fear. Never cease to encourage their self-righteousness and lack of concern for these creatures we hold so tightly. Fight with all your Satanically gifted ability any sign of compassion, truth, or gospel outreach to them. Give them a thousand excuses for their disobedience to the Enemy’s clear directions in the Scripture and then show your patient that “gays” are not the only ones who disregard the Bible’s teaching and that they can follow the example of these “good Christians” and disobey the Enemy with impunity! Thus we may gather into our harvest both your patient and many church members who are quite sure they are bound for heaven despite their lack of love for their neighbors!

One final word, Nephew, unpleasant as it is. Somehow a motley bunch of losers, through the Enemy’s direction and the care of some of His servants, have not only gotten out of our clutches, but are actively working to get others away from us also. We must oppose them with every weapon at our disposal! I’ve done my homework and have several suggestions to isolate these turncoats and nullify their efforts to free others from the bondage in which we keep them.

Fight churches that try to support them. That should be easy since there are so many other more “attractive” causes clamoring for support and we can always raise up a cadre of people within a church to oppose supporting healing for homosexuals and urge the church to stop doing so but to help others. You know how we love to divide and conquer!

Keep churches that do not now support them from doing so. This should be easy. Not many care to identify with such a “risky, threatening and costly” ministry.

Play up relapses. Blind churches to the number of their own members and even officers who we have ensnared for a time; get them to ignore the number of times recovered alcoholics and drug addicts slipped before they got victory over us; take Christians’ eyes off their failures in their struggle with sins that trouble them. Just keep pounding into their thick heads, “That kind can never change!” As you do this you will have the joy of not only discouraging them from helping homosexuals recover, but of weakening their faith in the power of the Enemy to over-come sin! If you keep that up long enough, they may give up faith in the Gospel altogether and let words like “born again” disappear from their preaching and faith.

Keep those who are finding freedom from homosexuality locked in a dungeon of shame to insure they tell no one what the Enemy has done for them and make no efforts to reclaim others from our hold. The fewer who escape from the captivity in which we have held them or who share a testimony to the Enemy’s salvation, the less chance there is of the Church assuming its responsibility to carry the gospel to every creature and our losing more slaves!

These are the ways we can seek to thwart the Enemy’s purposes to deliver captives and set at liberty the broken in heart. Never grow weary, my dear Wormwood, never lose heart. We have so many allies and so much going for us that it would take a miracle for us to fail.

Ah, there’s the rub. The Enemy can always step in and revive His Church and deliver His people. Whenever He does so, it marks the beginning of our end. So fight while we can with all the powers of hell at your disposal. We will have some victims to show for our efforts. Do not be discouraged. We are working in good times now! Let us “make hay while the sun shines” as those fools say. May Lucifer help us if ever these people who call Christ Lord really mean it!

Your affectionate Uncle,

SCREWTAPE

[Author unknown. Adapted from Eagle Ministry Talons, South Lake Tahoe, California]

POINTS TO PONDER

“Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good—above all, that we are better than someone else—I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is that you either forget yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether.” [C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 105]

"'I've had a few arguments with people,' comedian Buddy Hackett once confessed, 'but I never carry a grudge. You know why? While you're carrying a grudge, they're out dancing." [Soundings, (Vol. D, No. 1), p. 22]

"God has made us to be givers. It isn't something we have to do in order to please him so much as it's something we need to do to keep ourselves working properly. We are healthy and whole when we are both giving and receiving." [Daniel Taylor from Robin Z., Roanoke, VA]

"The test of love is not feeling or speaking, but obeying. 'He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.'" [F. B. Meyer, Joshua and the Land of Promise, p. 200]

OUT OF ANGER, INTO JOY!

As a youngster, I was very angry. I wrecked some of my Christmas and birthday gifts. I took a hammer to a favorite metal toy and flattened it like a pancake. While in my “terrible two’s”, I dirtied my pants and I remember my father and uncle, who were watching me, took me outside and hosed me off with a garden hose!

A short time later, my first sister was born, and suddenly all the attention shifted off me and to her. She was my father’s “pride and joy.” I was left “holding the bag”. As she grew older, she was physically stronger than I was. Childhood diseases, including frequent bouts with tapeworm, weakened my system and I could not perform some of the physical things a boy was supposed to do. When that happened, my sister would show off her muscles and my father would ridicule me.

All this took place during World War II. Meat was scarce so eggs from chickens that were injected with hormones became our staple. My breasts began to grow, as did the breasts of other boys of that time. Still, this was embarrassing to me.

I don’t know why, but for some reason I was not allowed to accompany my father to the men’s restroom when we were in places like Sears. I was sent to the Ladies’ room until I was well into the first grade and can remember ladies being aghast that “such a big boy” was using the ladies room. I finally threw a fit about it, and my father relented, but insisted I use the stall instead of the urinal.

Another sister arrived and received a great deal of attention from both my patents. I, the only boy, was left to play by myself in a fantasy world.

We lived out in the country and there were no other boys for me to relate to until I started school. There I was both fascinated by these boys and curious about what they looked like without their clothes. I would look at them in the restroom and some of us would show ourselves to each other to compare our development.

About this time my father “got religion” and dragged us everywhere to church, every weekend and often during the week. I was about nine and hoped that “religion” would make my father love me more. It did not. I don’t remember him calling me “son” or saying that he loved me until the day he died. The only hugs ever given were when I made the first move.

We moved to town and there were more boys I could be sexually involved with. When I was eleven, for the first time in my life, I masturbated an older boy to orgasm. Suddenly he was happy and I realized I had stirred something within him that made him feel good. Because he felt good, I felt good too! As last I had learned how to please a man. I got involved in more and more sexual activity.

Meanwhile, my father and I were moving even further away from each other emotionally. We never had the father-son talks many of my friends had with their fathers. Instead, my father began to lay out my whole life for me, deciding what I would do in life, what branch of the military I would enter when the time came—everything, as though I had no control of my own destiny. I resented it!

Something I did (I can’t recall what) angered my father, and, instead of talking to me about it, he wrote a very lengthy letter to me and placed it on my bed. The wedge between us grew deeper and he was dead by the time I recovered from the hurt.

Between my eighth and ninth grade years in school, the standoff between my father and me grew more intense and heated—so much so that I decided to leave home. I told my mother of my plans and she recommended that if I were going to do that, I might want to attend a private school she knew about, far from home, where I could begin a new life. I agreed and my father reluctantly coughed up the money for me to attend.

Here I threw myself into more sexual behavior until I graduated and joined the service of my choice (not my father’s). During my time in the military I remained celibate except for my occasional trips home on leave.

When my military days ended, I returned to my home state and settled in a very large city. I found a church and began to attend, but it was not long before I was sexually involved with other men again.

I “fell in love with” a teenager who loved me. We planned to spend our lives together when he entered college. A drunken driver missed the curve in front of his parents’ house and crashed into my lover’s bedroom, killing him instantly.

I was devastated! I considered suicide! My pastor called me into his office because he had noticed a change in my mood. I knew I needed help. I didn’t want to be a homosexual any longer. I wanted to change. I told the pastor my full story.

Instead of help, I got a curse. He announced to the whole congregation that I was a homosexual and told them to keep their sons far from me. The folks in my church would not speak to me on the streets. I worked for a Christian organization—he told my boss that I was “a queer!” I was fired. I rented my house from one the church members. I was kicked out. The leading members of this church’s organization in my area were told about my struggle.

I wanted to die, but was afraid of hell! I went to work in a large manufacturing plant and went from bathroom to bathroom, park to park, public restroom to public restroom—engaging in sexual immorality and praying for forgiveness. I was out of control sexually, yet I wanted to remain in control. So I avoided the gay bars and the gay night life and kept telling myself, “I’m not gay —just a ‘little’ homosexual.” My biggest problem was that I would not admit that I had a problem!

Eventually I married a woman who I loved for who and what she is, but found that during intercourse I had to fantasize about men to maintain my erection. When I engaged in homosexual behavior, I justified myself with lies like, “It only happened three times recently,” and “I’m not having anal sex so I’m not ‘really’ having sex with someone else. I’m not cheating on my wife. I’m just relieving tension!”

Please understand. I love my wife and I love our children. I gave my son the love I did not get as a child. Today he is my best male friend.

Still, I was in bondage. Over the years I tried to cut back and/or quit a number of times. I failed miserably. I prayed and fasted—once I fasted for seven long days and nights, trying to break free from homosexuality. I memorized Scripture and vowed, “Just You and Me, Jesus. We’re gonna lick this thing!” Nothing worked. Still, I did not let go of my Christian faith and the belief that somehow there was a reason for and solution to my problem.

In the midst of this turmoil, I saw a literature display for “Homosexuals Anonymous”.... I was afraid. “What if someone squealed on me?” “What is my family finds out about me?” “What if there is a spy in the group who is just waiting to tell the whole world about us?” “What if the group isn’t really on the up and up?” “What if I fall for a member of the group?” “What if someone in the group seduces me?” “What if it stirs up a bunch of old memories that are too painful to let go of?” “What if...?”

Reluctantly, I attended my first meeting and found that my fears were groundless. I skimmed through the HA workbook, Lord, Set Me Free!, and started at Step 8. I began making my moral inventory and found the process a painful one for me. Old memories, long repressed, came back and haunted me, and I masturbated more than once to numb the pain.

Then I started with Step 1, doing each step in its intended order. I worked each morning, using the steps as my daily devotional. I wrote out the Scriptures by hand and in the evening read outside material on the subject to learn all I could. Then I reread the Scriptures I had written out in the morning. When I finished the Step, I went back through it and typed the Scriptures onto sheets of paper that I inserted in the notebook. By this method I went over every Scripture at least three times.

I recently had to go on an extended automobile trip. In the past, this had led to disaster, so fear set in. I was afraid this trip would be my downfall. I loaded myself down with HA tapes for Steps one through six, some sermon tapes by a minister I admire greatly, and a whole briefcase full of gospel music tapes. As I drove along, I alternated between listening to a music tape, often singing along, listening to a sermon tape, then another music tape, then the HA Step tape all the way through. In this way my mind was occupied with good things the whole time, cutting down on the likelihood of fantasy.

I was approached twice on the trip by men offering sex. I confess, a little voice inside me said, “Come on! You haven’t masturbated in days! You have earned a little fun. Nobody will know!’ Yeah, sure!

God gave me the grace each time to exit the scene. I was troubled by temptation for the next few nights, but the Lord carried me through.

As I write this, it’s been a little over five weeks since I last masturbated, and over three years since I have acted out in any way with another man. Do I still struggle? You bet. Do fantasies still pop into my head? Yes. Do I dream dreams that I wish I would not dream? Most nights. Has it been difficult to write this story? You bet. Did it lead me to act out alone or with someone else? Nope! Do I want to go back? Never!

At first I worried that if I told the guys in my HA chapter how many days I had gone without acting out with anyone else or alone, it would intimidate them, but now I’ve learned to see things differently. I’m hoping, by my testimony, example, and life, that I can be a sort of role model to them, giving them a goal to shoot for and a hope to cling to.

It has become my mission in life to make it to heaven clean, sexually sober, and free from my homosexuality, and to take a bunch of clean, sexually sober, free guys with me! By God’s grace, with the help of the men in my HA support group and the HA materials, I’m making it, one day at a time!

--R. D.

POINTS TO PONDER

“Lord, do Thou turn me all into love, and all my love into obedience, and let my obedience be without interruption.” [Jeremy Taylor quoted in Elisabeth Elliot, A Chance To Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael, p. 151]

"Alas, the desire for change can't take the place of change itself. Sleeping with a copy of the book under your pillow will do nothing but make your pillow lumpy." [Arnold Washton and Nanette Stone-Washton, Step Zero: Getting to Recovery, p. 62]

"What we call sin is the outcome of sin permitted, days—perhaps weeks—before; which, in the meanwhile, had been gathering strength within the heart." [F. B. Meyer, Joshua and the Land of Promise, p. 101]

"All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you while you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty of something by blaming him, but you won't succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy." [Wayne W. Dyer, Your Erroneous Zones, Harper & Row, quoted in Reader's Digest, (April, 1982), p. 189]

"What a wee little part of a person's life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself. All day long, the mill of his brain is grinding, and his thoughts, not those other things, are his history. These are his life, and they are not written, and cannot be written. Every day would make a whole book of 80,000 words—365 books a year. Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man—the biography of the man himself cannot be written." [Mark Twain in Reader's Digest, (January 1993), p. 155]

"If you hate your parents for willing you buck teeth, have them fixed or become a comic.... Why waste time hating your father when he had a father who had a father?" [Bette Davis, The Lonely Life, p. 12]

MEMORIES

Do you remember, Mama,

when you came into my room,

when the craziness

came over you?

I was not your little girl then,

but more like

some absent-minded doll,

suffering from demented dreams.

You would not hear

my silent screams.

Can you remember, Mother,

How horrible it was?

You were not the one

who held and comforted me.

I don't know where she went,

or what became of her.

Who was it

that took her away from me?

Are you able to recall, Mommy,

the madness of that hour?

We became different people.

You were not you,

I was not I,

But there we were together.

I know it's true.

I have the memories,

But they are not secrets anymore.

My mind had buried them away,

or so I pretended.

But I cannot pretend anymore.

My soul is lost in the charade.

My identity is evaporating.

I want to hold onto reality.

I don't want to be insane.

I need to face the memories,

claim my history as my own.

As painful as that is,

it frees me to be me!

I remember,.......I remember. --Bonnie D.

FLIRTING WITH SIN?

Ed Hurst writes, “Some people stumble into sin; some fall, some play around on the edges until they fall in; and others jump” [Ed Hurst with Dave and Neta Jackson, Overcoming Homosexuality, p. 86]. It is to those who are tempted to play around the edges that a brother from Canada recently wrote.

“Some of us at times flirt with sin. We think we can sin and get away with it, but it is like playing with matches and dynamite. We can play for a while, but in time, we get hurt.

The sad thing is that those of us who have flirted with sin had to pay the consequences. Yet we went back and played and played and played again! What greater proof could one ask that we struggle with addiction? But addiction carries death with it.

Do you really think you can keep on playing with sin and not get hurt? Do you really think you can keep on sinning and escape any pain, any hurt, any discipline from God? Would any good parent allow their sons or daughters to continue to get away with wrongdoing?

God warns us that whatever others may do, He won’t let us go from bad to worse forever. His Word warns, “Be not deceived; God is not mock-ed: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting’ (Galatians 6:7-8).

God Himself tells us that He will not allow us to continue in sin forever. In time, He will act, if we continue to sin habitually. It could be with disease, with death, or with the loss of loved ones.

Whatever it may be, it will be painful enough to make us willing to repent truly.

Think about what God has said as you go ahead and play with sin, seek it out, cruise the saunas and the gay bars looking for another thrill, another conquest. Pick up another man while you lie to yourself: “It really doesn’t matter. There is no God to stop me from doing what I want to do. I can do as I please and there will be no consequences. Either there is no God, or He is so ‘loving’ that He’ll let me get away with anything, or He is blind and cannot see my sins.

What fools we are! And we profess to belong to Christ! We say that we believe our bodies are temples that belong to Christ. And then we go and use them according to what we know are our sinful lusts! It’s like having an orgy in a church!

And so we shame Christ once more before a watching world. We call on His name and then drag it through the mud. We become stumbling blocks over which men fall into hell!

HA will never turn its back on you. Neither will God, but that does not mean that you can continue to sin without one having to pay a terrible price one day.

An article by Greg Laurie spoke to me powerfully on this very subject. He was writing about Samson (Judges 13-16).

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear Samson’s name? Probably his incredible strength. Yet Samson is one of the weakest men in all history. He became so by throwing away all the strength God gave Him that could have brought glory to God and good to others.

It’s not that Samson received no warning. It’s just that he thought, whenever anyone tried to warn him, “No one understands me.” And so he continued to defend his indefensible relationship with Delilah until he awoke one day to learn that it was now too late. The Philistines took him, put out his eyes, put him in chains, and brought him in disgrace to Gaza forcing him to do the work of an animal grinding grain!

What a picture of how sin treats us! First it blinds you. It leads us to do utterly foolish things. We ignore the possible consequences and plunge ahead heedless of the dangers. That is why the Bible warns us about “the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).

Next sin finds you. For many there was an almost euphoric excitement the first time they crossed the line in anything from finding pornography to their first sexual encounter. They took the bait and thought, “I got away with it!” But the Bible warns, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). Payday will come!

And when it does, sin grinds you. Like Samson, you eventually have to pay a terrible price. Perhaps your marriage is broken, or your witness is damaged, or your reputation is destroyed, or your children are devastated, or you are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease—maybe even AIDS. Depending on what you have done, you may even face time in prison. And then the grief, the sorrow, the sadness, the misery and the ever repeated, “If only I had not...”

Look at Samson. He was once a man of superhuman strength who could take out the enemies of the people of God like there was no tomorrow. Now the Philistines laughed him to scorn!

Still, the story of Samson, while it is a warning of the terrible consequences of sin, is also a story that speaks of second chances. When Samson looked to God for mercy, his shaven hair began to grow; he strength returned; and when the Philistines had him brought to one of the drunken feasts to their god Dagon so they could make sport of him, Samson, blind, was guided to the foundational pillars of their temple, pushed them apart so that the temple collapsed, and killed more of the enemies of God in that one moment than he had been able to kill in his entire lifetime.

Yes, Samson had the last word. But to do so, he had to die with his enemies. God gave him a second chance, but his story still has a sad ending—death! It could have ended so much better.

Thank God He still forgives us when we sin, but that doesn’t mean that sin costs us nothing. God still gives second chances, but we must learn to fall forward rather that into the same old trap.

And so I ask you, “Are you throwing your life away right now on someone or something that has a spiritually destructive effect on you? Are you flirting with sin?” Watch out. Let Samson warn you or you may have to repeat his tragedy.

--A. B., Canada

POINTS TO PONDER

“...We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot be accepted at all. This is not true of us only ‘when we believe.’ It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in Christian behavior may be. It is always on His ‘blood and righteous-ness’ alone that we can rest. There is never anything that we are or have or do that can take His place, or that can take a place along with him” [The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield VII, (p. 113].

“For people so addicted to the mirror, we profit from it little; we so rarely understand the person staring back at us. Of all the truths we hide from, the hard truths about ourselves are the ones we hate the most, especially the truth about our own moral unworthiness. Finding ways to justify ourselves in our own eyes is a universal pastime. Yet one of the most consistent themes in the Bible is the need for sinners to be honest about their own sin.… A humble willingness to know ourselves as sinners is an essential part of being a believer.” [Ron Julian, Righteous Sinners, p. 45-46]

“The Lord help us to discover self in all its various windings, to resist it by the sword of the Spirit, as we would the devil, for surely it is his great engine.” [The Works of John Newton VI, p. 169]

“My spirit wants to soar with the Holy Spirit but my flesh is afraid of height.” [Unknown in Into the Light, (March-April 2005), p. 2]

"Rationalization does more to pollute our integrity of motive than any other thing. Rationalization attempts to excuse our lack of integrity. We repeatedly hear 'Everyone is doing it,' or 'Times have changed. This is the new way.' Again, 'I had no choice if I wanted to win,' or 'I had to go along with the majority to stay in fellowship.' The justification for rationalization is that wrong ultimately will serve a good purpose. But in God's economy, the end never justifies the means." [Fred Smith, Sr., in 20th Century Thoughts that Shaped the Church, p. 20]

"...Most of our arguments for purity are negative arguments: Be pure, or you will feel guilty, or your marriage will fail, or you will be punished. But the Beatitudes clearly indicate a positive argument that fits neatly with the Bible's pattern in describing sins. Sins are not a list of petty irritations drawn up for the sake of a jealous God. They are, rather, a description of the impediments to spiritual growth. We are the ones who suffer if we sin, by forfeiting the development of character and Christlikeness that would have resulted if we had not sinned.... The love he offers is so transcendent and possessing that it requires our faculties to be purified and cleansed before we can possibly contain it." [Anonymous, "The War Within: An Anatomy of Lust," Leadership, (Fall 1982), p. 43]

"Anyone can make a mistake. A fool insists on repeating it." [Robertine Maynard quoted by Bob Maynard, Universal Press Syndicate in Reader's Digest, (January 1993), p. 215]

Step 9

We admitted to God,

to ourselves,

and to another human being

the exact nature of our wrongs

and humbly asked God

to remove our defects of character.

GET HONEST!


"A little boy visited his grandparents on their farm. He was given a slingshot to play with out in the woods. He practiced in the woods, but could never hit what he was aiming at.

"Getting a little discouraged, he headed back for dinner. As he was walking back, he saw Grandma's pet duck. Out of impulse, he let the slingshot fly, hit the duck square in the head, and killed it! He was shocked and grieved. In a panic, he hid the dead duck in the woodpile, only to see his sister watching. Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing.

"After lunch the next day, Grandma said, 'Sally, let's wash the dishes.' But Sally said, 'Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen.' Then she whispered to him, 'Remember the duck?' So Johnny did the dishes.

"Later that day, Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing and Grandma said, 'I'm sorry, but I need Sally to help make supper.' Sally just smiled and said, 'Well, that's all right because Johnny told me he wanted to help.' She whispered again, 'Remember the duck?' So Sally went fishing and Johnny stayed to help.

"After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally's, he finally couldn't stand it any longer. He came to Grandma and confessed that he had killed the duck. Grandma knelt down, gave him a hug, and said, 'Sweetheart, I know. You see, I was standing at the window and I saw the whole thing. But because I love you, I forgave you. I was just wondering how long you would let Sally make a slave of you.'

"Whatever is in your past, whatever the devil keeps throwing up to you (deception, fear, hatred, anger, immorality, unforgiveness, bitterness, etc.), you need to remember that Jesus Christ was standing at the window and He saw the whole thing. He has seen your whole life. He wants you to know that He loves you and that if you trust in Him, you are forgiven. He's just wondering how long you will let the devil make a slave of you.

"The great thing about God is that when you ask for His forgiveness, He not only forgives you, but He forgets" (see Hebrews 8:12).

Confess to God right now, believe His promise to forgive and cleanse (I John 1:9), honestly face all that was involved in whatever you have done, journaling it out (Psalm 51:1-17), and open up to a trusted friend (James 5:16) who can help you understand what happened, encourage you to rest on the promises of God, and be an accountability partner to assist you so that you will never fall into that trap again. "Remember, Jesus is at the window."

--Author unknown, submitted by Gary Y.

SIMPLE CONFESSION!

A friend loaned me a book about making money, suggesting I read it. I took it, without enthusiasm, because I'm not very materially oriented. But in it I found something helpful which I pass on to you.

"Have you ever noticed that the more seriously you take your mistakes, the more you make them? And the more seriously you take your problems, the more you create them? This is because your behavior follows your attention just as surely as baby puppies follow their mother. Wherever the bulk of your energy lies, your behavior is sure to follow.... Thus, when you make a big deal out of something you have done wrong...you are actually setting the stage to repeat the mistake." [Richard Carlson, Don't Worry, Make Money, p. 65]

"A decision to...remain lighthearted, doesn't mean you don't care or that you're not concerned with making an error. It simply means that you refuse to compound a problem by making a bigger deal out of something than is absolutely necessary. It means you understand the value of keeping your perspective...even in the face of adversity." [Ibid., p. 65-66]

Dr. Carlson is simply telling us to look at our failures the way the steps (based on the Bible) urge us to deal with them. Why is it so difficult for us to do this?

A. W. Tozer suggests, "Long after we have learned from the Scriptures that we cannot by fasting, or the wearing of a hair shirt or the making of many prayers, atone for the sins of the soul, we still tend by a kind of pernicious natural heresy to feel that we can please God and purify our souls by the penance of perpetual regret." [That Incredible Christian, p. 98]

He continues, "The essence of legalism is self-atonement. The seeker tries to make himself acceptable to God by some act of restitution, or by self-punishment or the feeling of regret." [Idem.]

In other words, when we try to punish ourselves for our sins by over-focusing on them, we have lost hold of the great truth that we are justified by faith alone on the basis of the blood and righteousness of Christ alone. As wonderful as this truth is, it is hard for sinners to hold on to. Even Luther confessed, "...The matter of justification is slippery; not of itself, for of itself it is most sure and certain, but in respect of us. I myself...know in what hours of darkness I sometimes wrestle. I know how often I suddenly lose the beams of the gospel, and grace, as being shadowed from me with thick and dark clouds.... When in the conflict we should use the gospel, which is the word of grace, consolation, and life, the law, the word of heaviness, wrath, and death rises against the gospel, and begins to rage; and the terrors which it raises up in the conscience are no less than was that horrible show on Mount Sinai. Again, we have against us one-half of ourselves... The flesh resists the spirit and cannot believe that all the promises of God are assuredly true." [Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, p. 54-55]

There's the rub! Our sin, our flesh, the law, and Satan all unite to make faith in the good news that Christ receiveth sinful men seem so impossible. Our fight is one of faith, and, as Tozer says, "Believing...is directing the heart's attention to Jesus. It is lifting the mind to 'behold the Lamb of God,' and never ceasing that beholding for the rest of our lives." [A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, p. 90]

The question that faces us when we fail then is will we focus on sin or the Savior? Will we look to ourselves and our efforts (even at repentance), or will we look to Jesus and His blood?

Someone may be saying, "What's the matter with me? Why can't I get this through my thick skull?" If that is your heart, remember that even the great Luther, who rediscovered the truth you are wrestling with, struggled to hold on to it, and listen to this word from a master physician of the soul: "Be patient with everyone, but above all with thyself. I mean, do not be disheartened by your imperfections, but always rise up with fresh courage." [Francis de Sales in Light For My Path, p. 152]

Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world and follow Him (John 1:29; Matthew 4:19), trusting His promises of forgiveness and cleansing (I John 1:9)!

--John J., Reading PA

POINTS TO PONDER

“An old Jewish proverb says, ‘Shame is an iron fence that guards us from sin.’ That’s true.... Shame prompts us to repent and make amends. It painfully reminds us of our guilt, thereby encouraging us to avoid the sins that make us feel ashamed. Shame can draw us toward God and forgiveness; that kind of healthy shame is good. It would be equally true to say, ‘Shame is an iron fence that keeps us in dysfunction!’ This kind of shame communicates....that we are...inferior and worthless.... Instead of prompting us to deal with our sin, it usually leads us to deny our sin.... That kind of shame is ‘toxic.’” [Earl Henslin, The Way Out of the Wilderness, p. 75]

"With all our faults God loves us still, if we are trusting in His Son, therefore let us not be down-hearted, but hope to live and learn, and do some good service before we die." [Charles Spurgeon's Little Instruction Book, p. 72]

"Shame and hurt thrive in darkness; they can't seem to stand the light of day." [Charles Sell, Unfinished Business, p. 113]

"Regret, the little black dog of a belated repentance, does not stop barking and biting the conscience, even though you know that your sins are forgiven." [Martin Luther's Little Instruction Book, p. 94]

"The question is not whether you've failed, but whether you're content with failure." [Pulpit Helps, (June 1999), p. 10]

"It will not help you in the end that others are sinful too, and that you are not alone in having broken the law of God. To be sure, 'all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God' (Rom. 3:23); but that 'all' does not take away the necessity of remembering very specifically, and understanding beyond all question and doubt, that it is you personally who are involved. You have sinned. You have come short of the divine glory. You are under the just sentence of death.... You must flee from the wrath to come. You must openly and unqualifiedly confess your sins to God..." [John R. deWitt, Amazing Love, p. 73]

MY OWN NATHAN!

Overall, my childhood was a happy one. I grew up in a Christian home with two parents who both loved me and did their best to provide for me. I accepted Christ when I was eight years old and tried to live in a way that would be pleasing to Him. The biggest problem I had to face was my relationship with my father. Although he was very affectionate and did his best to raise us properly, certain things put a wall between us. He showed his emotions openly which meant that he expressed his anger very readily (though never physically). I also usually did not feel affirmed by him. I felt somehow I was inadequate, though he never said that outright.

I always felt drawn to other boys, but this became more pronounced when I was about ten years old. I began to fantasize about sexual encounters with other boys and engaged in some sex play with age-mates. This became more serious when, at 14, I entered a four-year relationship with another boy my age. He ended that relationship, but by then I knew that my sexual attraction was primarily toward other men.

I remained celibate after that relationship ended until I was twenty-one and living on my own. At that time I began to slowly and secretly immerse myself in the “gay” lifestyle. I would go to clubs and bars in other cities and plan my vacations around where I could openly live the lifestyle. I kept this secret from my Christian family and friends and continued to attend church and otherwise present the image of a “model” Christian man. But I was deeply conflicted by the whole situation.

There were many times when I was on my knees begging God to take these longings from me. When that didn’t happen, I became very resentful toward God. After all, if He truly loved me and didn’t want me to be homosexual, He should instantly cure me of these desires. Since He didn’t, either what I was doing was OK with Him, or He had turned His back on me.

This continued until November of 2002 when at 11:30 at night the police knocked at my door and served me with a search warrant. I had developed an obsession with online pornography and downloaded many files. Occasionally, images of underage boys would be included in the downloads. I would delete these files right away, but apparently a former roommate had seen some images that I had overlooked.

The men who were my roommates at that time, both of whom attended church with me, were caught up in the search as well. Now my secret was out in the open. I became deeply depressed. I made an appointment to meet with the pastor of my church. The night before we met, I was sitting in my family room and I asked God to show me some scripture that would help. I opened my Bible to Psalm 51. As I read David’s outpouring of grief when his sin with Bathsheba was revealed, I was touched by how close it was to my story. I also noted David’s thankfulness for God’s forgiveness. When I met with my pastor, I told him that I felt that this was my own “Nathan” and that God could use it to bring me healing.

My pastor committed himself to counseling with me and recommended that I begin attending HA. Here I began to understand the nature of my struggle and, more importantly, began to see escape from it. The past year-and-a-half has not been easy. I lost my job, my part-time business, and my freedom. I spent forty-eight days in prison as part of a plea agreement and will be on parole and probation for the next nine years. But through all this, God has been with me and my friends in my HA chapter have encouraged me.

My church has made a commitment to stand along side me in my struggle to overcome my same-sex attractions. So many people in the church have extended themselves to me. They have been there for me. Some don’t always understand my struggle. One well-meaning brother advised me to just “crucify it to the Lord’ as if this was some magic formula for healing. Anyone who has seen the movie The Passion of Christ knows crucifixion is one of the slowest and most painful forms of death ever devised by man. Scripture does not promise quick and easy solutions. But, as I Peter 1:6,7 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (NIV).

I may not be able to see all that is involved in freedom from homosexuality, but, just as I can’t see the destination on a long car trip, I know that if I follow the map, as outlined in Scripture, I will reach my goal. Roadblocks and detours may come my way, but God always opens new roads and puts the people and resources in my path so that I can continue on my journey of sanctification.

--Jim M., Reading, PA

POINTS TO PONDER

“The sooner we are able to get beyond the need to keep our problems a secret or to pretend they don’t exist, the more quickly healing can occur.” [Earl R. Henslin, The Way Out of the Wilderness, p. 59]

"A defiled spirit can be cleansed; a dulled sensitivity to God can be sharpened. The cleansing comes when we confess our sin to God. We must confess the lies about God we believed and the sinful acts, the mistrust, and separation from God which those beliefs resulted in. After we ask God to forgive us, we must repent and change our ways." [Don Crossland in 500 Things Your Minister Tried To Tell You, p. 41]

"They that know God will be humble; they that know themselves cannot be proud." [John Flavel, The Fountain in Pulpit Helps, (November 1999), p. 20]

"When it comes to Scripture, we express humility by our eagerness to learn and willingness to obey it." [Donald Whitney in Tabletalk, (July 1999), p. 15]

“No more lessen…thy merit than overrate it; for though humility be a virtue an affected one is not." [William Penn in Speaker’s Treasury of Political Stories, Anecdotes, and Humor, p. 94]

"The man who governs his passions is the master of the world. We must rule them, or be ruled by them. It is better to be the hammer than the anvil." [St. Dominic, founder of the Dominicans, in Elliott Wright, Holy Company, p. 83]

Step 10

We willingly made

direct amends,

wherever wise and possible

to all people we had harmed.

THIS IS MY PRAYER!

"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."
[Psalm 51:10]

O for a heart to praise my God!

A heart from sin set free;

A heart that always feels thy blood,

So freely shed for me.

A heart resigned, submissive, meek,

My great Redeemer's throne,

Where only Christ is heard to speak,

Where Jesus reigns alone;

A humble, lowly, contrite heart,

Believing, true and clean,

Which neither life nor death can part

From Him that dwells therein;

A heart in every thought renewed,

And full of love divine,

Perfect, and right, and pure, and good—

A copy, Lord, of Thine!

Thy nature, gracious Lord, impart:

Come quickly from above;

Write Thy new Name upon my heart,

Thy new, best Name of Love!

--Charles Wesley

POINTS TO PONDER

“Sin causes the cup of joy to spring a leak.” [Book of Living Quotations in Pulpit Helps, (February 2002), p. 11]

“Our name for problems is significant. We call them headaches. You take a powder and they are gone.” [Dean Acheson, U.S. Secretary of State, in Simpson’s Contemporary Quotations, #557]

“...Pride does not only go before a fall but is a fall—a fall of the creature’s attention for what is better, God, to what is worse, itself.” [C. S. Lewis, Christian Reflections, p. 7]

"Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd have preferred to talk." [Doug Larson, United Feature Syndicate, quoted in Reader's Digest, (January 1986), Front Cover]

"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going." [Beverly Sills quoted in Bits and Pieces, (June 23, 1994), p. 1]

MEAN BUSINESS?

The following letter was sent to an HA online chapter and forwarded to me. It is used with the permission of its author and we hope gives you good insight into what is meant by working your program.

“Dear friends,”

“Just want to tell you what is going on with me and to ask for your help in keeping me accountable to myself and the group (and of course, God).

“I think I am getting closer to facing the deeper inner pain that I have. I’m pretty sure it is mostly related to feelings of abandonment, loneliness, insecurity, etc. that I grew up with. I needed more than I got as a child, and my general sense of the world is coming from a place of insecurity rather than security. Thus I hung on for dear life to G.

“I am pretty confident that these (unmet childhood) needs are so strong that they…(resulted in) attraction to men. Thus my hanging on to G was even more difficult.

“Bottom line: there are a number of escapes I have from facing my pain—the most problematic and intoxicating right now being gay chat and/or porn. (Usually only chat—the porn is already like junk food to me).

“I am increasingly aware of how closely connected my visits to chat or porn sites are to trying to soften feelings of discomfort, of pain. The problem is that I can’t say I am actually facing clear, defined feelings of pain when I go to a chat room—but the fact that I go there is often the first, tangible sign that something is bothering me.

“I chat etc., and then the next day usually feel ‘hung-over’ because then the pain is a bit clearer and I also don’t feel so hot about the chat (and usually the lack of sleep too.)

“So one thing is sure. As I march forward to confront the pain I need to stay stead and strong and not go and get “drunk” on chat to numb things inside. I can rationalize all I want, but I need and want to be like any person in recovery—in total abstinence. I need your help.

“I want to commit to the following things (even though inside I am saying: ‘Wait a few more days’).

“I will tell this group (and my other HA group) the truth about visiting chat/porn and any other activities which may be a way of evading reality.

“To be very honest, I do not think that at this point I will include masturbation (without male fantasy, chat or porn) in this for now. I know I need to very soon, but right now the most important thing is to be clean on the computer. ‘One step at a time.’

“I will share the actual number of days that I am abstinent.

“I will share with you when I have slipped.

“I ask for your support and maybe even ‘checking in’ on me once in a while. I am not going to chat sites every night, but even once a week is once too many for me at this point. I know what I am trying to achieve/avoid by going there—so it is partially a ‘ruined’ experience anyway. I want it out of my life altogether.

“I am resisting this, I have to admit, like when I quit smoking (after almost 10 years of smoking). I remember making decisions to quit but having ‘one last cigarette’. The day I quit (10 years ago) was the day I said, ‘This one is absolutely the last one, no matter how I feel later today etc.’

“Same here. Part of me really doesn’t want to quit yet, but I know that I really do want to and that there is no time like the present.

“If you’d like to send me your phone numbers that would be great. I know from another recovery program the idea of “call before you fall” so maybe this can work here as well.

“So…I hope to stay away from which I need to avoid and to confront what I need to confront. Thanks in advance for your help and support.

“Sam.”

POINTS TO PONDER

“We are all destined for a guaranteed termination. No one has ever beaten the system. In fact, the Bible even tells us about how long we have before our termination: three score and ten (Psalm 90:10). It’s interesting to note that even though that calculation was recorded three millennia ago, it hasn’t changed. After thirty centuries of medical, educational, social and scientific advances, research conducted annually by insurance companies reveals that the average person lives to be seventy to seventy-five years old (three score and ten). Every moment of life is valuable. Once time is gone, it’s gone forever. You can’t buy it back, borrow it back, bribe it back, or even pray it back. A wasted Moment is irretrievable.” [Dennis E. Hensley, How to Manage Your Time, p. vii]

"Research now indicates that not only have 95% of today's children been exposed to pornography, the typical child was only 8 when they were first subjected to this detrimental and emotionally-scaring material. This means we are raising a generation of sexually dysfunctional children who will have difficulty or totally fail at ever attaining a truly intimate and loving relationship." [Phil Burress, "Soft-Core vs. Hard-Core Pornography," Citizens' Courier, (Spring 2001), p. 3]

“We are in danger of forgetting that we cannot do what God does, and that God will not do what we can do.” [Oswald Chambers quoted in Awakening-Reach Newsletter, (October 2003), p. 4]

“The two great motivators in life seem to be misery and desire.” [Chris Thurman, The Lies We Believe: The #1 Cause of Our Unhappiness, p. 134]

HELPS TO STOP MASTURBATION!

Masturbation is a common problem, not only for those who struggle with homosexuality, but for all men. Dr. Archibald D. Hart, in his study based on more than twenty-five years of in-depth interviews as a psychotherapist, his teaching more than six hundred students in the doctor of ministry program at Fuller Theological Seminary, and a questionnaire sent to “good men” “church-going, God-fearing, decent, hard-working, honest men” [The Sexual Man, p. xiii] of which he analyzed six hundred responses [Ibid., p. 8,9] found that “95 percent of males, even from good healthy, religious families admit to masturbating.” [Ibid., p. 53, emphasis his]

The fact that something is common in this fallen world does not, of course, mean that it is either good or right. There are many people, for example, who have vicious tempers; but that is not, according to the Bible, a good thing.

The Bible nowhere lists masturbation as a sin. The sin of Onan was not his “spilling his seed upon the ground” (Genesis 38:8), but that he did it “to keep from producing offspring for his (deceased) brother.”

Scripture does, however, label that which usually accompanies masturbation—lust or fantasy—as breaking the seventh commandment (Exodus 20:14 and Matthew 5:27,28). This means lust is sin!

Further, those seeking freedom from homosexuality who indulge in lustful fantasies are actually programming their brain in the very direction they want it to stop going!

Thus, while acknowledging that this is a difficult problem to overcome, the person seeking to change his or her patterns of attraction must learn to deal with it.

You may well be asking, “And just how does one go about doing this?”

Mario Bergner explains how he went about seeking freedom anxiety driven masturbation. He had come to associate his bedroom with masturbation so that “every time I walked into my bedroom I’d have a Pavlovian reflex, and I’d think about masturbating” [Setting Love in Order: Hope and Healing for the Homosexual, p. 79]. He determined to give his bedroom a new meaning in his heart.

“...Every time I felt the urge to masturbate, I simply got out of bed and knelt on the floor. Then I prayed the Lord’s words to St. Paul about his weakness, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9), until the urge subsided. Admitting my weakness before God, I asked for His strength to be poured into me. Never did I deny that the urge was there; I merely began to exercise some authority over my own body. Then I would return to bed and attempt to fall asleep again.

“The first night I tried this, I got in and out of bed to pray ten or twelve times. I got very little sleep. However, by the time morning came, I had not masturbated. This was the first time in years that a twenty-four-hour period had gone by without my engaging in that behavior....

“The next night the same struggle ensued, but I did not yield to the urge. The third night I did yield, but I knew better than to be unforgiving toward myself. I simply began again the next night.

“Soon my bedroom...because a place of communion with God and of rest. No longer was it associated in my heart with masturbation” [Ibid., p. 79-80]

What are the triggers that lead you to masturbate? How can you avoid them or transform them into something positive?

If you think you are ready to take this step, tell your chapter and your accountability people and ask them to check with you on a regular basis. Be honest with them. If you don’t succeed at first (and I didn’t), examine what led to the episode and find the things that set you up. Talk to your chapter and accountability partners about them and ask for suggestions about how you might block these triggers. Be sure to take the matter to God, remembering that “if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). If He has forgiven you, you are not guilty! If He has cleansed you, you are not dirty! Pick yourself up and determine to fight more effectively next round until victory is yours!

When tempted, remember the old motto: “Call or fall!” Be sure you have at least five phone numbers in your billfold that you can call for support when necessary, and use them! If the first person isn’t home, call the second; if the second isn’t home, call the third, etc. And if you go through all five and can’t find anyone home, go back to number one and keep calling unto you get someone.

Don’t focus on what you shouldn’t be thinking of; gently nudge your mind to something healthy and focus on that. Celebrate each victory and thank God for His goodness to you. If you need more help, order the tape “How To Deal With Masturbation” from the HA Book Ministry list. I can tell you from personal experience that you can be free here. It’s not quick or easy (what in the Christian life is?) but God will give you grace as you persevere! Will you?

--John J.

POINTS TO PONDER

“God has granted you the morning, but he does not promise the evening. Spend each day as if it were your last.” [Lawrence Scupoli, The Spiritual Combat quoted by Richard A Kauffman, “Spiritual Classics,” Christianity Today, (September 2006), p. 112]

“A cold hand and a stingy heart will generally go together.... It is vain to expect a man to do much for Christ, when he has no sense of debt to Christ.” [J. C. Ryle, “John,” Expository Thoughts on the Gospels IV, p. 139]

"You can't put your sins behind you until you face them." [Unknown in Into the Light, (September-October 2001), p. 3]

“We have a head on us for the same reason a pin does: to keep us from going too far.” [The Motorist, (September 1979) in Pulpit Helps, (October 2002), p. 21]

GOOD DIRECTIONS FOR LIVING!

If you open it…close it.

If you borrow it…return it.

If you break it…fix it.

If you mess it up…clean it up.

If you use it…flush it.

If you turn it on…turn it off.

If you spill it…wipe it up.

If you take it off…hang it up.

If you get it out…put it back.

If you put food on it…rinse it off.

If you sleep in it…make it.

If you clutter it up…tidy it up.

If you did wrong…make it right.

[Copied from Abundant Living Ministries, (October 2003), p. 3]

POINTS TO PONDER

"The efforts which a Christian man who has succumbed to some gross evil is making to begin again will be greatly influenced by the attitude held towards him by his fellow believers. If they withdraw, scorn him, and become censorious, he will be discouraged. It is not likely that he will speedily and spontaneously seek the renewing forgiveness of a loving heavenly Father. Where there are none, or few, to seek him out and assure him of reconciliation in the fellowship of those who claim to be right with God, he may come to believe that he is also beyond the range of God's pardon. On the other hand, should he find that the Christian community, while frankly recognizing his fall, still welcomes him with forgiveness, he will consider that no limit can be set to the recreating tenderness with which God's loving forgiveness may once again flood and overflow his heart." [H. D. McDonald, Forgiveness and Atonement, p. 42-43]

"The assumption that dedicated, sincere, good Christians are invulnerable to sin is just nuts. And worse than that, it is profoundly unbiblical." [Pat Means, "Toxic Trust," Steps, Vol. 8, No. 4, (Winter 1997), p. 4]

"The easy way is usually the destructive way." [Bette Davis, The Lonely Life, p. 75]

"Success is the sum of small efforts...repeated day in and day out." [Pulpit Helps, (October 2001), p. 9]

“We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.” [Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, in his sermon at the opening of the Papal Conclave, quoted in Christianity Today, (June 2005), p. 23]

Step 11

We determined to live no longer in fear

believing that God’s victorious control

turns all that is against us into our favor,

bringing advantage out of sorrow

and order from disaster.


GETTING FREE OF FEAR!

For as long as I can remember, I've always loved to sing, but I hid my talent because I thought maybe my family would think singing was silly and I was afraid the boys in school would make fun of me. So I just sang when I was by myself.

Since I've been working on my recovery, I started to sing at my church. I had to struggle with my old emotions telling me I didn't belong and feeling all alone. Thanks to recovery, I've learned to talk truth to these feelings and recognize that they are not about what is going on in the present, but about hurts in the distant past.

So I called up my courage and volunteered to take part in the Christmas musical. I made a commitment to myself not to bail out if things felt uncomfortable. It has been very rewarding! I've received lots of comments like, "Boy, that man can sing!" or, “I didn't know you sang." I NEEDED THAT!

I've learned that I need men in my life so I can get my emotional needs met in healthy ways, and I can have those friendships. This means so much to be because I want to please God and I want to be whole.

Two weeks ago eight men asked me to sing with them in a men's group. They wanted me!!! I know God is using all this to bring healing into my life. He placed a love of music in my heart and is using it to bring joy and wholeness to my life.

My only regret is that I let fear rob me of all this for so long. Now all is so different! I can't wait to see where God is leading me. I know that, as wonderful as everything has been thus far, there is more! I want it all—everything God has for me—and I am determined that fear will rob me no more!

--Joseph C.

POINTS TO PONDER

“The path of shame is a lonely one, trodden in self-imposed isolation. You may be surrounded by others, but they are not allowed into the inner chambers of your life. You fear that they will discover the real you, and you believe that knowing you, as you perceive yourself to be, will hurt them and you.... You believe that if others knew the real you, they would reject you or despise you.” [C. W. Neal, Your 30-Day Journey To Freedom From Shame, p. 10-11]

“What does your anxiety do? It does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but it empties today of its strength. It does not make you escape the evil; it makes you unfit to cope with it when it comes. It does not bless tomorrow, and it robs today. For every day has its own burden. God gives us power to bear all the sorrow of His making, but He does not give us the power to bear the sorrows of our own making which the anticipation of sorrow assuredly is.” [Ian Maclaren]

“When pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.” [C. S. Lewis in My Favorite Quotations compiled by Norman Vincent Peale, p. 100]

TURTLE SHELL PROTECTION

Inside my turtle shell, shielded from the pain,

I think I'm safe within my armored hiding place,

but it can't protect me

from the heartache and anguish in my soul.

I believed I was locking out all the suffering,

but instead, it's caged inside.

I pull my head into my sanctuary

and peek from sheltered darkness.

I draw in my limbs,

my retreat is complete,

nothing is exposed.

If someone should notice me,

They would not realize I am alive.

They would not recognize my turtleness.

In camouflage,

I blend in with the rocky terrain.

It's cozy in here and secure.

I will not stick my neck out for anyone!

Risking hurts.

Stretching is dangerous.

So I stay inside—

withdrawn,

confined,

secluded,

isolated,

alienated,

immobile.

Circulation is cut off.

My legs are numb.

My body has little feeling,

But my emotions

overwhelm my mind

with feelings!

I can stay here in repose,

but only for a time

because this kind of self-protection

is really no protection at all.

Eventually,

it can only lead to

starvation,

dehydration,

and death. --Bonnie D.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT!

“It seems that our society, and I include myself, has not really developed a true Christian sense of masculinity and manhood. I personally see that I was over-mothered. The idea of sacrifice, even death, for another was not placed into my heart. Because of this I have an attitude of being a receiver and inward as opposed to gallant and outward.... My mother....wanted the best for her children and she loved her children and...raised them as best she knew how.... I believe that we are not born with a ‘heroic disposition’. Courage is a virtue of the Holy Spirit and we must ask for this virtue in our life. Some individuals, because of their upbringing, might obtain this virtue more quickly than others, but it is available to all. It also must be exercised and used.”

Peter C., Reading, PA

POINTS TO PONDER

"Dean Inge said, 'We're losing our Christianity because Christianity is a religion for heroes, and we are just good-natured people who want to be left alone and have a good time.'" [J. Wallace Hamilton, "The Anatomy of Courage," Protestant Hour Classics, p. 63]

Fear “somehow touches about every aspect of our lives. It was an evil and corroding thread: the fabric of our existence was shot through with it. It set in motion trains of circumstances which brought us misfortune we felt we didn’t deserve. But did not we, ourselves, set the ball rolling? Sometimes we think fear ought to be classed with stealing. It seems to cause more trouble. We reviewed our fears thoroughly. We put them on paper... We asked ourselves why we had them. Wasn’t it because self-reliance failed us...? Perhaps there is a better way—we think so. For we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns. Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity.” [Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 67-68]

“The best proof of love is trust.” [Joyce Brothers in Reader’s Digest, (August 1993), p. 7]

“Don’t lose your head in the battle...you won’t have any place to put your helmet.” [The Best of Barbara Johnson, p. 287]

“I remember one night when I was taking care of a couple of our grandchildren. It was late in the evening, but since grandfathers usually let their grandchildren stay up longer than they should, they were still awake. We were laughing, messing around, and having a great time together when we suddenly heard a knock on the door. Not the doorbell, but a mysterious knocking. Immediately one of my grandsons grabbed hold of my arm. ‘It’s OK,’ I said. The knock came again, and I started to the door. My grandson followed me, but he hung on to my left leg and hid behind me as I opened the door. It was one of my son’s friends who had dropped by unexpectedly. After the person had left and I’d closed the door, my grandson, still holding on to my leg, said in a strong voice, ‘Bubba, we don’t have anything to worry about, do we?’ And I said, ‘No, we don’t have anything to worry about. Everything’s fine.’ You know why he was strong? Because he was hanging on to protection. As long as he was clinging to grandfather’s leg, he didn’t have to worry about a thing.” [Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart And 1,501 Other Tales, p. 209]

Step 12

We determined

to mature in our relationships

with men and women,

learning the meaning of

a partnership of equals,

seeking neither dominance

over people

nor servile dependency on them.

DEPENDENCY!


Have you noticed that this step does not warn against all dependency? It just speaks against servile dependency. Have you ever wondered why that is and what it means?

Step 12 warns against what Dr. Karen Horney called "morbid dependency", "an extreme, neurotic surrender of self to another such that one person becomes pathologically reliant on another for things social and emotional" [Arthur S. Reber, The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology, p. 187-188]. Dr. Michael Campion notes, "Such individuals feel inadequate and helpless and put their own needs second so as to avoid offending the person on whom they are dependent. They believe that if they offend that person they will be rejected, leaving them to rely on themselves.... They are preoccupied with the thought of being abandoned.... The dependent person has difficulty making decisions and asserting himself..." ["Dependent Personality Disorder," Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology, p. 300] This type of dependency is discussed in Lori Rentzel's Emotional Dependency and is what our step calls "servile"—"like...a slave,...cringing" [Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, p. 1659].

Some people, however, go too far and shy away from anything that even looks like depending on others. Dr. Richard E. Butman, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Wheaton College, says, "There is nothing inherently wrong with depending on others.... Healthy cooperation, or depending on one another, is the foundation of social life" ["Dependency," Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology, p. 299]. There are "dependency needs"—"those required for normal functioning. Used for both the physical/biological (food, water, warmth, shelter) and the psychological (affection, love, security)." [Reber, op. cit., p. 188, emphasis ours]

It is vital for those who would find freedom from homosexuality to understand this distinction. To see why, look at Dr. Elizabeth Moberly's vital research into the causes and healing of the homosexual condition. Her study revealed "...one constant underlying principle...: that the homosexual—whether man or woman—has suffered from some deficit in the relationship with the parent of the same sex..." [Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic, p. 2]. "The parent may or may not be culpable, but in either case the child has been genuinely hurt. The difficulty arises when such hurt is accompanied by an unwillingness to relate any longer to the love-source that has been experienced as hurtful.... The tragedy is that subsequent to this effect the behavior of the same-sex parent becomes irrelevant, since the child is no longer able to relate normally to him or her. Even if love is offered, it cannot be received" [Ibid., p. 4]. "There is a defensive detachment from the love-source. And, in consequence of this, needs for love, dependency and identification which are normally met through the medium of such an attachment, remain unmet" [Psychogenesis, p. 67, emphasis ours].

Dr. Moberly suggests, "...The homosexual condition is one of same-sex ambivalence.... The overall structure of ambivalence involves various distinct components. Firstly...the defensive detachment from the same-sex parental love-source will be marked by hostility, whether overt or latent, towards parental figures and towards other members of the same sex.... At the same time, there is a reparative drive towards the restoration of attachment and hence towards the meeting of unfulfilled needs for love, dependency and identification" [Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic, p. 6-9, emphasis ours]. Thus homosexual persons can feel pulled in two: on the one hand they are pulled in one direction by their unresolved fear and anger and on the other they are pulled the opposite way by their unmet needs from childhood.

Dr. Moberly concludes, "Just as the problem of homosexuality is twofold there must likewise be a twofold therapeutic goal. This twofold answer must be the undoing of the defensive detachment, and making up for unmet needs" [Ibid., p. 18-19]. "...It is not enough just to undo the defensive detachment. Unmet needs must still be met in order to make up for missing growth" [Ibid., p.46].

How does one go about making up for that missing growth? Carmen Renee Berry says, "...There are three general stages in recovery: dependence, independence, and interdependence" [Are You Having Fun Yet? p. 22]. "Independence is not the goal. We seek interdependence, a healthy intimacy possible only between two independent people who have had their dependency needs satisfied" [Ibid., p. 23].

"None of us can experience a genuine sense of independence until our legitimate dependency needs are met.... The first stage of recovery, honoring legitimate dependency needs, is an absolutely necessary step toward healing and growth.... But...dependency is not the goal. It is an integral part of the journey" [Idem.].

"As I moved into the second stage, independence, the emphasis moved toward taking self-responsibility and exercising individual choice. My attention shifted from looking to others for my nurture to ways I could care for myself" [Idem.].

"The third stage, interdependency, draws the focus away from ourselves as solitary individuals and toward our abilities to establish mutually beneficial relationships” [Idem., emphasis ours].

Why is the journey through proper dependency and independency into interdependency necessary for the person who wants to be free from homosexuality?

Dr. Moberly says, "To 'stop being a homosexual means to stop being a person with same-sex psychological deficits. This can only happen through the fulfillment of such needs ("for love, dependency and identification)" and the resolution of any barriers to such fulfillment. Conversely, it must be understood very clearly that to thwart the fulfillment of such needs implies that the person is forced to remain homosexual. A non-practicing homosexual is still a homosexual. ...Sexual abstinence of itself does not begin to meet the problem of the underlying deficits. Only the nonsexual fulfillment of same-sex needs may do this. The homosexual cannot just 'turn heterosexual', bypassing the normal route to heterosexuality..." [Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic, p. 40].

"The solution to same-sex deficits is to be sought through the medium of one or more non-sexual relation-ships with members of the same sex.... The homosexual is not to stop loving members of the same sex, but to meet his or her psychological needs deeply and completely without sexual activity. The same-sex relationship is to be so fulfilling that same-sex deficits remain no longer and the relationship itself is outgrown" [Ibid., p. 42].

"...It is not the availability of same-sex models but the ability to be attached to such persons that is crucial in the acquisition of a same-sex identity [one who identifies as a mature member of the same sex and is drawn to the other sex]" [Ibid., p. 48]

"Normal and universal needs are involved in homosexuality. What is abnormal is that these needs should have been left unmet and not fulfilled in the normal way and at the normal time, i.e. in childhood and adolescence, through the attachment to the parent of the same sex. The adult heterosexual is someone who has had these needs and in whom they have been fulfilled.... The adult homosexual is someone in whom these needs have not (yet) been met. It is not the needs as such that are pathological, but their lack of fulfillment" [Psychogenesis, p. 87].

"Since the problem is one of a disruption in attachment and its consequences, the restoration of attachment must be seen as the means of resolving the problem" [Ibid., p. 67].

"It would be wrong to assume that the undoing of the defensive barrier would itself mark the resolution of the overall problem. It may facilitate resolution, but that is all. The person in question would still be in a state of incomplete growth until such time as this would be completed through the medium of a renewed attachment. The restoration of attachment does not instantly resolve the problem, since an attachment is a means (towards completion of growth) and not an end in itself. But the restoration of attachment begins to solve the problem, and without this the problem can never be solved" [Ibid., p. 70].

"The greater the defensive barrier, and the more extensive the missing growth, the greater amount of time and care that will be needed for healing." [Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic, op. cit., p. 49]

If you feel frustrated and a bit frightened at this point, please understand that these feelings are normal. Somehow you were hurt in childhood. You put up a wall of fear and anger to protect yourself. Now you hear you must take that wall down and begin to trust someone of the same sex—to make yourself vulnerable to someone like the person who hurt you before. Small wonder you feel fear.

Further, you see that you must exercise care that, as you seek to get your childhood dependency needs met, you don't fall into "servile" dependency. You're probably thinking, "How will I ever make it?"

Accept the fact that you'll not do so perfectly! We're all imperfect people, and imperfect people don't do anything perfectly!

I liken recovery to steering a pirate ship in a mighty storm. The wind and waves toss us—first one way, then the other. We don't despair because we have a compass to keep us on course. Each time we look at the compass and see we're off course, we don't panic, jump ship, or go below to sit and sulk. We make a course correction! We continue making course corrections until we reach the desired haven.

Meanwhile, we must take care not to run upon the rocks! What are they and how can we keep clear of them?

To begin with, please note that we are talking about Step 12! Before you are ready to take this step you need to have built a healthy relationship with God through Christ (Steps 2-7) and to have worked on your fear and anger through forgiveness and faith (Steps 8-11). While working Step 1, you should have begun to build a relationship with a Step Coach to help you along the way. He or she will be invaluable to you now. (If you have not found someone to be your Step Coach yet, suspect defensive detachment and start tearing the wall down with the best Step Coach you can find.) Only then are you ready for Step 12.

Step 12 calls us to maturity and that means learning how to follow the Bible's directions in relationships. The Bible calls us to love others with a love that "believes all things" (I Corinthians 13:7—as you think about that verse meditate on verses 1-3). At the same time it tells us there were people Jesus did not trust (John 2:23,24) and there are people we should not trust (II Timothy 3:1-5). We must take time and get to know a person before we open our heart to them. Your Step Coach can help you if you keep them fully posted—urging you to put on the brakes if you are moving too fast (and are likely to be hurt) and to step on the gas if you are moving too slowly or not at all (and thus won't get your needs met).

The maturity Step 12 calls us to also involves loving others with the love that "is not easily angered" (I Corinthians 13:5 NIV) which alerts us to the fact that friendships between sinners (which everyone is!) can be difficult. When the tough times come, we will be tempted to hide behind our old wall ("I need space" which translated means I want to detach again). Here again your Step Coach can be of great help—encouraging you not to give up on a friend without strong cause (Proverbs 27:10), to learn forbearance (Ephesians 4:2), and to practice forgiveness (Ephesians 4:31, 32), while offering guidance if you need to end something that is truly destructive.

To avoid an unhealthy dependency, have more than one friend and try to give the same amount of time and attention to each friend—trusting each to meet needs, rather than looking to only one person for nurture. In this way you will also avoid becoming too demanding so that your friend feels overwhelmed and wants to get away.

Don't limit your friendships to those who struggle, but don't exclude strugglers from your circle of intimates either. Strugglers and non-strugglers both have much to offer and can be a tremendous help in meeting your unmet, same-sex, parent-child needs.

Begin with friendships with people of the same sex. As your unmet needs are fulfilled (which will take time), move on to friendships with the other sex (still maintaining your same-sex friendships). Here, again, your Step Coach can advise you to slow down if you seem too impatient (trying to move on to the other sex before your same-sex needs are met) or to take risks if you seem too fearful to try something new.

During the entire process, maintain a close walk with God so He can strengthen you for each new challenge and comfort you if things go poorly (as they sometimes will). He is the One Who meets our needs—whether He meets them directly or through others. To Him belongs all the glory!

Finally, be patient with yourself. As Evelyn Underhill has said, "Don't be ferocious with yourself because that is treating badly a precious (if imperfect) thing which God has made" [in Elliott Wright, Holy Company, p. 194].

I was recently talking to one of our members who expressed so well what many of us have felt. He said, "I always felt there was some sort of hole in my soul." You are embarking on a thrilling and sometimes frightening journey. There will be some pain but the rich reward of seeing that hole filled and finding the satisfaction you always sought in life will more than repay your efforts. Courage! And, as Churchill exhorted the students of his alma mater, Harrow School, "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never—in nothing great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense" [Churchill on Courage, October 29, 1942].

--John J.

A GODLY FRIEND MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE

Christ found me in 1982 and I have thus been a Christian for many years. I was severely sexually and emotionally abused when I was a child and a teenager and have always suffered with deep unmet needs to be close to a godly, older man.

As I grew older, I struggled as a Christian for a very long time with homosexuality. I always felt convicted by the Holy Spirit whenever I gave in to that sin. I tried to find freedom, attending several different support groups in south Florida that sought to help men and women live free from homosexuality.

Feeling despondent seven years ago, I prayed very honestly asking God to meet my emotional needs and show me how to develop a close, godly friendship with an older Christian man.

God answered that prayer and gave me a godly friendship with an older Christian man who has deeply loved me unconditionally with the love of Jesus! At last my real emotional needs were being met and this freed me up to start pouring the love of Jesus into other lives.

--Daniel E.

POINTS TO PONDER

“LOVE is the first outgoing of the renewed soul to God—‘We love him because he first loved us.’ It is the sure evidence of a saving work of grace in the soul—‘The fruit of the Spirit is love.’ It lies at the very foundation of Christian character; we are ‘rooted and grounded in love.’ It is the path in which all the true children of God are found; they ‘walk in love—the bond of their mutual union; their hearts are ‘knit together in love’—their protection in the spiritual warfare; they are to put on ‘the breastplate of love’—the fullness and completeness of their Christian character; they are ‘made perfect in love’—the spirit through which they may fulfill all the Divine acquirements; for ‘love is the fulfilling of the law;’ that by which they may become like their Father in heaven, and fitted for his presence; for ‘God is love,’ and Heaven is a world of LOVE.” [Tryon Edwards in Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits, p. v]

"It is not too much to say that, second only to faith in God, our human relationships are the most important thing in our lives." [Samuel Shoemaker in 500 Things Your Minister Tried To Tell You, p. 108]

"We are not held back by the love we didn't receive in the past, but by the love we're not extending in the present." [Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love (Harper-Collins) in Reader's Digest, (August 2000), p. 85]

“Love cures people—both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it.” [Old Union Reminder quoted in Pulpit Helps, (July 2004), p. 16]

"The virtuous soul that is alone...is like the burning coal that is alone. It will grow colder rather than hotter." [St. John of the Cross in Philip Yancey, Church: Why Bother? p. 23]

“A dog has many friends because he wags his tail instead of his tongue.” [Pulpit Helps, (August 2002),

p.11]

EIGHT GIFTS THAT DON'T COST A CENT

1) The gift of listening...

But you must REALLY listen.

No interrupting, no daydreaming, no planning your response.

Just listening.

2) The gift of affection...

Be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, and pats on the back.

Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends.

3) The gift of laughter...

Clip cartoons. Share articles and funny stories.

Your gift will say, "I love to laugh with you."

4) The gift of a written note...

It can be a simple "Thanks for the help" note or a full sonnet.

A brief, handwritten note may be remembered for a lifetime, and may even change a life.

5) The gift of a compliment...

A simple and sincere, "You look great in red," "You did a super job,"

or "That was a wonderful meal" can make somebody's day.

6) The gift of a favor...

Every day, go out of your way to do something kind.

7) The gift of solitude...

There are times when we want nothing better than to be left alone.

Be sensitive to these times and give the gift of solitude to others.

8) The gift of a cheerful disposition...

The easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind word to someone.

Really, it's not that hard to say, "Hello" or "Thank you."

Friends are a rare jewel. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear, they share a word of praise, and they always want to open their hearts to you.

Show your friends how much you care. Give them one of these gifts any time it is needed. It costs you nothing; it blesses them beyond measure.

--Author Unknown, Contributed by Gary Y.

MAKING FRIENDS

We all are aware of the importance of same-gender friendships in heal-ing our wounds. We know the Lord has it in His heart that we be healed. That is unmistakable. We know His desire for us is to be walking in freedom. That stated, I want to share with you what that looks like and how it “plays out” in real-life applications.

The grocery store near my office is open early, so I often stop there to get something for lunch on my way to work. One of the men who works there is attractive to me, and I have found that it is wise for me to get to know someone I am attracted to—at least on a casual basis—so I can say hello and call them by name rather than just remain “in lust” about them. That’s what I will do with this man whose name, I learned, is “John”.

In prayer, I was impressed that we—as men—need to begin recognizing each other and taking an interest in each other’s lives. I was especially impressed with the fact that taking an interest—even in the smallest manner—in another man, that can help ease an “ache’ in the other man’s heart. It can lead him to feel, “That man called me by my name. Maybe I am someone after all.” This is especially important when relating with younger men. It is of consequence that I took the time and trouble to get to know his name. I hope—and have literally prayed—that he notices this. We all need more connection, not less, in our daily lives.

However I do need to be cautious so that the man I am reaching out to does not misread my friendly overtures and my approach backfires. The desire to touch another man, however pure [a hand on the back or shoulder while you are talking to them] is not recommended until you know the person well enough to be sure that they will not mistake this for a “pass”. When I hug a brother in the Lord, I make sure that I know him well enough to know he does not feel this is a sexual hug and I am comfortable with him so that I know he has no such intentions in his mind, even if he struggles with same-sex attractions. I’ve taken time to be sure we both know each other well enough to understand that neither of us is interested in a sexual encounter.

Granted, there are times when all I want and need is a bear hug—literally—from another man which will tell me, unmistakably, “Hey! I love you! Do you know that?” We need physical contact with others. God designed that in us. Those desires need not be thwarted by our fear that a bear hug may become sexualized. If both parties know where the other is coming from and both know that the other will not allow this to become a sexual thing, then by all means, ask for a bear hug! Such hugs have brought real healing in my life and are one way to get my real, legitimate needs met in a healthy manner from men in my life rather than the old, illegitimate ways of going to the bars, bath-houses, bookstores, beaches, or parks for a sexual encounter that gave the illusion of someone caring but soon left me feeling even more empty and needy than before.

In dealing with “social” encounters, such as John at the grocery store, I pray for him and always greet him in a friendly manner. Granted, the first time I saw him he “took my breath away,” but five-and-one-half years of freedom from “acting out” my longings through Jesus’ sustaining power have taught me that I don’t have to act inappropriately on those attractions: there are healthy, legitimate ways to “connect” with other men that don’t include sexual activity.
What I’m looking for is to be able to have John as a friend in my life with whom I can hang out. However, the chances that this will occur are less than likely. The only place where I am likely to see him on a regular basis will be at the grocery store on my way to work. I can still honor that man and continue to show an interest in him, even if it is just to say hello and greet him by name every time I see him. If a friendship should develop, I would—of course —bring my accountability network into place, letting people know about my relationship with this man, where we will be, what we will be doing and seeking their counsel. In this way I can be assured all will be well.

To summarize, I have begun to learn what friendships with other men are supposed to look like, even if they are just a brief, casual hello to the man at the grocery store, my barber, or the mechanic at the auto shop. These may, or may not, grow into close friendships where I can trust God and tell my friend, “I need a hug. Would you please hug me?” or ask someone to go to dinner with me, or for help by phone late at night when I am lonely and need someone to talk to. Everyone has needs. It is how we act in those times of need that matters. Do we make healthy choices that please our Father in heaven, or do we act out in illegitimate ways that fill us with shame and guilt and make us ever more vulnerable to the lust of the flesh?

--Bill G.

POINTS TO PONDER

"...Christ....works on us in all sorts of ways.... But above all, He works on us through each other. Men are mirrors, or 'carriers' of Christ to other men.... Usually it is those who know Him that bring Him to others. That is why the Church, the whole body of Christians showing Him to one another, is so important." [C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 161-162]

"It is important to remember that we are, each of us, angels with only one wing. We can only fly embracing each other." [Luciano de Crescenzo]

"I have learned that we can get sick by ourselves, but we cannot get well by ourselves." [R. F. Smith, Jr., Sit Down, God...I'm Angry, p. 11]

"No one of us stands alone; we cannot sin without insensibly affecting the spiritual condition of all our fellows. We cannot grow cold without lowering the temperature of all contiguous hearts. We cannot pass upward without lifting others.... 'None of us liveth to himself, and none dieth to himself.' 'Whether one member suffereth, all the members suffer with it; or one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it." [F. B. Meyer, Joshua and the Land of Promise, p. 91]

"Current studies indicate that most men in our society have no real friend they can share their lives with in an intimate way. Herb Goldberg in The Hazards of Being Male writes of the lost art of buddy ship. After men discuss the weather, sports, stock market, interest rates, and perhaps the sexy new secretary at work, they have nothing else to say to one another." [Josh McDowell, His Image, My Image, p. 83]

"The loneliness inside the sexually broken man is horrific. It is so unbearable for him that when it rises up, he feels the need to silence it immediately with some kind of sexual act. He believes that if he allowed it to come to the top, he would die.... The addict believes, deep down, that he is not worth loving... This is the reason for his loneliness. The addict has already assumed he is unlovable, so he consistently deflects the affection expressed to him by others. This, of course, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Eventually they stop reaching out and pull away from him altogether." [Russell Willingham, Breaking Free, p. 25]

POINTS TO PONDER

"Be a spendthrift in love! Love is the one treasure that multiplies by division: it is the one gift that grows bigger the more you take from it. It is the one business in which it pays to be an absolute spendthrift; give it away, throw it away, splash it all over, empty your pockets, shake the basket, turn the glass upside down, and tomorrow you will have more than ever." [Anon. in The Watchman-Examiner, quoted in Sunshine Magazine, quoted in Reader's Digest, (April 1982), p. 190]

"It is more shameful to distrust one's friends than to be deceived by them." [Francois, Duc de la Rochefoucauld in Les and Leslie Parrott III, A Good Friend, p. 27]

"I've noticed that controllers go to extremes. If they cannot dominate then they flee from the relationship." [Inmate in Into the Light, (January/February 2000), p. 2]

"Someone once said, 'You can only be young once, but you can be immature forever.'" [Randy Rowland, Get A Life...and a Faith that Works! p. 99]

"People like to be around him. There were many reasons. First and most obviously, because he was who he was. Beyond that, there was that big gutsy laugh, that infectious lop-sided grin, that bouncy step. There was the genuine interest in and concern about others. There was that limitless curiosity, about people, places, and things. There was the pure enjoyment he got out of living. People liked Ike because Ike liked people." [Stephen E. Ambrose, Eisenhower: Soldier and President, p. 576]

"Giving someone all your love is never an assurance that they'll love you back! Don't expect love in return; just wait for it to grow in their heart, but, if it doesn't, be content it grew in yours." [Gloria Zwinggi, "Think About It," Awakening, (May 2000), p. 4]

"'There are two things we cannot do alone,' said Paul Tournier: 'one is to be married and the other is be a Christian.'" [Philip Yancey, Church: Why Bother? p. 37]

"Do you know what makes the prison of loneliness and suspicion disappear? Every deep, genuine affection. Being friends, being brothers, loving, that is what opens the prison, with supreme power, by some magic force. Without these one stays dead. But wherever affection is revived, there life revives." [The Letters of Vincent van Gogh in Plough, (Autumn 2000), p. 17]

“You hear people say, ‘Can’t I be a Christian without joining the church?’ Yes, it is possible, but it is something like being a student who will not go to school, a soldier who will not go to battle, a citizen who refuses to pay taxes or vote, a football player without a team, a scientist who does not share his findings, or a bee without a hive.” [Spiros Zodhiates, Pulpit Helps, (April 2001), p. 7]

“You don’t just luck into things as much as you’d like to think you do. You build step by step whether it’s friendships or opportunities.” [Barbara Bush quoted by Ann Grimes in Running Mates: The Making of a First Lady (Morrow) in Reader’s Digest, (March 1992), p. 7]

"Dr. William Glasser, founder of Choice Theory and Reality Therapy, cites seven deadly habits that destroy relationships: criticizing, blaming, complaining, nagging, threatening, punishing, and rewarding in order to control. He further proposes seven 'connecting' habits that will allow us the tools to build satisfying relationships and thus avoid a great deal of the emotional misery many feel today: caring, trusting, listening, supporting, negotiating, befriending, and encouraging." [James Rudy Gray, "Unconnected People are Unhappy People," Pulpit Helps, (December 2002), p. 12]

“Our boundaries may be damaged, which means we have trouble maintaining them in specific situations or with certain people. Our boundaries may be nonexistent, making it easy for others to take advantage of us. Or our boundaries may be rigid, impenetrable walls that make it impossible for others to get near us.” [Earl Henslin, The Way Out of the Wilderness, p. 184]

"There is no other activity which so completely identifies the Christian and the Church with its Lord than love." [Charles VanEngen, God's Missionary People: Rethinking the Purpose of the Local Church, p. 54]

"Nine-tenths of our unhappiness is selfishness and is an insult cast in the face of God." [G. H. Morrison in Jesus People Newsletter, Vol. 30, No. 2, p. 2]

“Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.” [Theodore Isaac Rubin, M.C., One to One (Viking Penguin) in Reader’s Digest, (November 1995), p. 177]

“You Christians are more concerned about whether I obey your rules than you are about my loneliness. What does that say about your God?” [Person choosing to live a homosexual life quoted in Mary Heathman, “Grace Is....Sometimes Received in Vain,” A Measure of Grace, (April 2003), p. 6]

Seldom can the heart be lonely,

If it seeks a lonelier still;

Self-forgetting, seeking only

Emptier cups of love to fill.

[Frances Ridley Havergal in Timeless Quotations on Peace of Mind, p. 68]

“I had many friends to help me to fall; but as to rising again, I was so much left to myself, that I wonder how I was not always on the ground. I praise God for His mercy; for it was He only who stretched out His hand to me.” [The Life of Saint Teresa of Jesus, written by herself, c. 1562-8; tr. David Lewis quoted in The Oxford Book of Friendship, p. 313]

“...Homosexuals....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...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.” [John Eldredge, Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul, p. 94-95]

“Better be alone than in bad company.” [A Treasury of Essential Proverbs, p. 21]

“The friendships of this world are often fair-weather friendships, and fail us like summer-dried fountains, when our need is the sorest; but the friendship of the Son of God is stronger than death, and goes beyond the grave.” [J. C. Ryle, “John” II, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, p. 65]

“The musical Funny Girl had it wrong. ‘People who need people’ are not the luckiest people in the world. People who need people are the only people in the world.” [Tim Alan Gardner, The Naked Soul, p. 3-4]

Step 13

We sought,

through confident praying

and the wisdom of Scripture

for an ongoing growth

in our relationship with God

and a humble acceptance

of His guidance for our lives.


WHAT IS YOUR FOCUS?

A pre-arranged funeral package—that was it! The final detail that had been missing in my suicide plan. I could take care of even the last details with one of those packages.

I’d carefully thought out everything and now it was all coming together. After all, why bother to continue living when each day became increasingly more painful than the last and hope was dead?

I knew I couldn’t stay in the gay life-style and keep Christ an active part of my life, yet I thought there was no way I could live the “straight and narrow” and not practice my homo-sexuality. My brain ached and pounded from endless hours of questions with no answers. Suicide seemed the only viable alternative. I would finally be free from the pain of thinking. No longer would I be torn between two opposing lifestyles, both that I wanted to embrace. Why didn’t I? Because I knew they were both to be too consuming to allow for a rival.

Somehow God reached out to me in the midst of my darkness. I heard of a ministry where people who had themselves been involved in the gay/lesbian scene were helping each other get out! I talked with several people, heard their struggles and amazing personal testimonies about growth in Christ and healing of the needs that had created their struggle. I knew there was hope for they had found it.

What I came to realize that day is that it’s not “How can I be a practicing homosexual and serve Christ?” or “How can I serve Christ and be a practicing homosexual?” but “Am I going to serve Christ or not?”

There is nothing about me—good or bad—that entices God to love me. He loves me because of who He is, not because of what I am or am not. There is nothing about me God does not know. He knows of my struggle with homosexuality as well as He knows that I have blue eyes and He still loves me! The quest is whether or not I will return His love in service to Him regardless of my struggles.

I became an active member in my HA group and my relationship with God became stronger and my struggle with homosexuality grew less. It has not, as yet, completely disappeared.

As I was praying about the fact that I still have struggles, I began to wonder if I had perhaps lost sight of my purpose—to serve Christ. I reflected on my prayer life and asked how much time was spent on homosexuality and how much time was spent on Christ. Had I begun to use my Christianity solely as a cure for my struggle? Was I serving God simply to rid myself of a personal problem? I was ashamed to answer these questions. Homosexuality is an all-consuming mistress and without Christ will remain so. Seemingly even in recovery it was pulling me away from Christ and serving God.

Please understand: we must concentrate on and deal with long unmet emotional needs from our childhood and the emotional voids they have created in our lives. But we must never get to the point where they blur our purpose in life—to serve Christ. Using God solely as a cure for homosexuality is putting the cart before the horse.

God is not blind, nor is He unfeeling! He is far more aware of our pain and struggle in all areas of our lives than we will ever be. However often He must wait to help us until we give Him the time and room He needs.

There are books to read, speakers to hear, videos to watch, friendships to make—the list goes on and on; but nothing should be done without prayer. Talk with God. Tell Him how you’re feeling. Praise Him for the person He says you can be, ask Him how you can best serve Him. He loves you; let your life be a return expression of His love.

Don’t struggle only to rid yourself of homosexuality. It’s futile. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God... (Matthew 6:33). Then you will find your old self begin to die and a new self begin to emerge as the character of Christ begins to grow, develop, and take root in you—and part of that character is healthy heterosexuality!

How’s your walk with God today? Need growth. Don’t hesitate to draw near to Him for as you do, He promises to draw near to you!

--Anonymous

POINTS TO PONDER

“The only route to healing is constant relationship with Jesus.” [Chad Klopfenstein, “Approaching the Altar from a Broken Past,” Redeemed Lives News, (Spring 2005), p. 3]

When the child of God

Looks into the Word of God

And sees the Son of God

He is changed by the Spirit of God

Into the image of God

For the glory of God.

[Unknown in The Best of Barbara Johnson, p. 272]

"People who neglect attendance at the house of God are not only being unscriptural—let me put it bluntly—they are fools. My experience in the ministry has taught me that those who are least regular in their attendance are the ones who are most troubled by problems and perplexities.... It is ordained that we should come to God's house to meet his people. It is his ordinance, not ours. He has ordained it not only so that we may meet each other but also that we might come to know him better.... It is a very foolish Christian who does not attend the sanctuary of God as often as he possibly can, and who does not grieve when he cannot." [D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Faith Tried and Triumphant, p. 109]

My favorite definition for the church: "a hospital for souls where we alternately serve as patient and physician." [Smith, Jr., Sit Down, God...I'm Angry, p. 36]

“...Theology is a matter of life and death.... We are all theologians, either good ones or bad ones. Life is a journey, either toward the truth or away from it, and all of the most important truths are theological.... Doing theology is our life’s work. According to the Bible, if we are not given over to pursuing the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves in relationship to God, then we are pursuing the wrong things.” [Ron Julian, Righteous Sinners, p. 10-11]

“Without prayer our Christian life unravels. Prayer is the key, the core, the essence the glue. A Christian without prayer is like a body without a heart. It’s like a car without an engine. It might look great, but it has not power and is certainly not going anywhere.” [Tim Hansel, Dancin’ Toward the Dawn, p. 117]

HOW YOU CAN DRAW NEAR TO GOD!

George Mueller of Bristol England is without question one of the great heroes of the faith. He had an extraordinary gift for believing prayer that enabled him to care for literally thousands of orphans in 19th century England as well as actively aid in the causes of evangelism and missions in mighty ways. Here is a man who knew how to draw near to God and can teach those who would learn how they too may enjoy the blessings of His presence. In 1841, he wrote of a great lesson he had learned.

“Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as an habitual thing, to give myself to prayer after having dressed in the morning. Now, I saw that the most important thing was to give myself to reading God’s Word, and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed…

The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words of the Lord’s blessing on His precious Word, was to meditate on the Word of God, searching as it were into every verse to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word, not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon, but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul.

“The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that, though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less to prayer. When thus I have been for a while making confession or intercession or supplication, or have given thanks, I go on to the next words or verse, turning all, as I go on, into prayer for myself or others, as the Word may lead to it, but still continually keeping before me that food for my own soul is the object of my meditation. The result of this is that…my inner man almost invariably is even sensibly nourished and strengthened…” [Quoted in Ken Gire, Reflections on the Word Devotional, p.3]

POINTS TO PONDER

“Spiritual growth is not automatic. It takes an intentional commitment. You must want to grow, decide to grow, make an effort to grow, and persist in growing.” [Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, p. 179]

“We might wish that every person who believes the facts about Jesus were guaranteed to be saved, but it is not true. Saving faith arises from hearts willing to cease their rebellion against God, hearts willing to know God and themselves in a new light. People can find all kinds of reasons to ‘believe’ while remaining hardhearted rebels against God.” [Ron Julian, Righteous Sinners, p. 25]

"If it doesn't work, try reading the directions. If it still doesn't work, try following the directions." [Overcomers Outreach News, (Spring 1993), p. 2]

"The power to pray comes with praying. You know 'Of ourselves we know not what to ask, but the Spirit helpeth our infirmities.' But He helpeth us when we are trying to pray, not when we are not trying." [E. B. Pusey in You Can Say That Again, p. 243]

"The fundamental prayer to God is only one word, in the teeth of any storm: yes." [Michael Novak, "Controversial Engagements," First Things, (April 1999), p. 23]

IT'S ME, LORD, HERE I AM

You've brought me through another night.

I kneel before you,

not as you would have me,

or as I should be,

but as I am,

a sinner.

I'm troubled, and I need your help.

My doubts and fears almost consume me.

Guide me through this day with your hand upon my heart.

Take my hand and lead the way;

I will try to follow you.

Give me the grace and strength

to accept and carry whatever crosses and troubles come my way.

Help me live this day the best I can,

and when night falls,

help me to say I've lived this day as you wanted me to.

Keep me in your loving care,

now and through all eternity.

C.R.

POINTS TO PONDER

“As people who fear God, we also recognize that God is not a divine bell-hop, on call to respond to our every desire. We cannot use God simply to accomplish our aims. Rather, we come expressing our need, committing it to Him and leaving the outcome in His hands, knowing that He is our infinitely wise and loving heavenly Father.” [Jerry Bridges, The Joy of Fearing God, p. 202]

"Often we come to church and come to prayer because we know what we want and, since God is good, we expect him to give it to us. Some people even define faith and prayer that way. 'I believe in you, Jesus. Therefore, whatever I ask for, you have to give it to me. Now, here is what I want.' That is not faith. That is not prayer. That is manipulation.... Meister Eckhardt said, 'We go to God as to a cow, for what we can milk him for.'" [Fr. Thomas Hopko, "Continuous Conversion," Faith & Renewal, (March/April 1992), p. 4]

"Go to your Bible regularly, open it prayerfully, read it expectantly, live it joyfully." [E. C. McKenzie, 14,000 Quips and Quotes, p. 309]

POINTS TO PONDER

"Broadly speaking, prayer is the occupation of the soul with its needs; praise is the occupation of the soul with its blessings; but worship is the occupation of the soul with God Himself." [A. P. Gibbs, Uplook, (April 1998), p. 18]

“The deepest level of worship is praising God in spite of pain, thanking God during a trial, trusting God when tempted, surrendering while suffering, and loving him when he seems distant.” [Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, p. 107]

“Without the heart it is no worship; it is a stage play, an acting a part without being that person really which is acted by us: a hypocrite, in the notion of the word, is a stage player.... We may be truly said to worship God, though we want perfection; but we cannot be said to worship him is we want sincerity.” [Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God I, p. 225-226]

“Music and liturgy can assist or express a worshipping heart, but they cannot make a non-worshipping heart into a worshipping one. The danger is that they can give a non-worshipping heart a sense of having worshipped. So the crucial factor in worship in the church is not the form of worship, but the state of the hearts of the saints. If our corporate worship isn’t the expression of our individual worshipping lives, it is unacceptable. If you think you can live anyway you want and then go to church on Sunday morning and turn on worship with the saints, you’re wrong.” [John MacArthur, The Ultimate Priority, p. 104]

“Too much of our worship is ritual without reality, form without power, fun without fear, religion without God.” [John R. W. Stott, The Contemporary Christian, p. 228]

“Our thinking is: I will pray if I feel like praying. Then, when I feel more like praying perhaps I will pray with greater regularity. But....you do not become a master musician by playing just as you please, by imagining that scales is sheer legalism and bondage! No, true freedom in any area of life is the consequence of regular discipline. It is no less true of the life of prayer.” [Sinclair B. Ferguson, Grow in Grace, p. 105]

“He will not give us light unless we mean to follow it.” [A. B. Simpson, When the Comforter Came, p. 77]

“Are you in touch with God?... Are you still back in the doldrums of wondering whether it is possible to be in touch with God, instead of knowing by now that all difficulties lie in yourself and are of your own making, and that when you are open God is ready to be in touch with you? Is the experience of being in you? Is the experience of being in touch with God growing, so that He can depend upon you to carry out His will, especially in difficult situations which require maturity, insight, and judgment? Is being in touch with God lifting you above the defeats which have kept you down—the moods, the signs of temper and irritation, the ever-present willfulness which only God can destroy?” [Samuel Shoemaker, National Awakening, p. 87]

“I had the greatest delight in the Holy Scriptures, of any book whatsoever. Oftentimes in reading it, every word seemed to touch my heart. I felt a harmony between something in my heart, and those sweet and powerful words. I seemed often to see so much light exhibited by every sentence, and such a refreshing ravishing food communicated that I could not get along in reading. Used often to dwell long on one sentence, to see the wonders contained in it; and yet almost every sentence seemed to me full of wonders.” [Jonathan Edwards in S. Hopkins, The Life and Character of Jonathan Edwards, p. 33-34]

“Heavenly Father, give me three things in this life: a heart of fire toward Thee, a heart of flesh toward others, and a heart of iron toward myself.” [Joe McKeever, “Where to Put Your Expectations,” Pulpit Helps, (April 2004), p. 33]

"The reason angels can fly is they take themselves lightly." [G. K. Chesterton quoted in Circuit Rider, (April 1994), cited in Current Thoughts & Trends, (June 1994), p. 15]

“He loseth nothing that keepeth God for his friend.” [Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia: Adagies and Proverbs, 1732 quoted in The Oxford Book of Friendship, p. 341]

“There is an intimacy with God, but it’s like any other intimacy; it’s part of the fabric of your life. In marriage you don’t feel intimate most of the time. Nor with a friend. Intimacy isn’t primarily a mystical emotion. It’s a way of life, a life of openness, honest, a certain transparency.” [Eugene Peterson in Mark Galli, “Spirituality for All the Wrong Reasons,” Christianity Today, (March 2005), p. 43]

“Don’t assume you are too spiritual to be attacked by the tempter: nobody is. Don’t think that because you have read your Bible and prayed you are free from the possibility of evil; nobody is. Don’t think there is some magic formula that will exempt you from the devil’s plans; there isn’t. The closer you draw to Jesus, the closer Satan will try to draw to you. It you know that, you will be watchful.” [Steve Brown, If Jesus Has Come, p. 73]

“There are four things that are very important to help you as a new believer: First, read the Bible. It is God’s Word written to you. Second, pray. Take everything to God in prayer, because He loves you and you are now His child. Talk to God like you would your best friend. Third, witness for Christ. Tell someone about your decision for Christ. Then witness by your smile and by your love and concern for others. Fourth, get into a church where Christ is proclaimed and where you can serve Him.” [Billy Graham in Russ Busby, Billy Graham: God’s Ambassador, p. 115]

“If others have smarted for disobeying God, why not we, since God is impartially and immutably just, always consonant and agreeable unto himself? His power is the same, so is his justice and holiness. If we will not be warned by threatening nor example, we sin doubly; as he that will run into a bog wherein others have plunged themselves is guilty of double folly—of adventuring rashly, and not taking warning. This is one great benefit that we have by the historical part of the word, that it does not only preserve the memory of the saints, that we may imitate their graces and enjoy their blessings, but also recordeth the sins and punishments of the wicked, that we may avoid their judgments.” [The Complete Works of Thomas Manton XV, p. 374]

Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” [Acts 9:6]

Step 14

Having had a spiritual awakening,

we tried to carry this message

to people in homosexuality

with a love that demands nothing

and to practice these steps

in all our lives activities

as far as lies within us.

GOOD EXAMPLES!


“A few years ago, at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash. At the gun, they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with a relish to run the race to the finish and win.

“All, that is, except one little boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to cry.

“The other eight heard the boy cry. They slowed down and looked back. Then they turned around and went back—every one of them.

“One girl with Down’s Syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, ‘This will make it better.’ Then all nine linked arms and walked together to the finish line. Everyone in the stadium stood, the cheering went on for several minutes.

“People who were there are still telling the story. Why? Because deep down we know this one thing: What matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What matters in this life is helping others win, even it if means slowing down and changing our course.” [Bernie Koersleman in Pulpit Helps, (November 2003), p. 11]

These youngsters may have been handicapped in many ways, but they were not handicapped in heart! They lived what we all know to be the way everyone should live. Is that the way you are living now? Do you hear the cry of lost, confused, hurting strugglers and does it call you from your own plans back to help a fallen brother or sister?

This is what Step 14 calls each of us to. “Having had a spiritual awakening, we tried to carry this message to people in homosexuality with a love that demands nothing and to practice these steps in all our lives’ activities, as far as lies within us.”

Here is the acid test of our recovery. Before we started our program, most of us were self-centered. When we began seeking freedom, we could hardly wait to find what we were seeking and put the whole distasteful business of our struggle behind us. Our shame issues kept us locked in the prison of self. We were immature—like babies—only able to think of what we wanted and what we could get.

A genuine spiritual awakening (which is what recovery is all about) brings a man or a woman out of self and opens them to loving God and others. The very first fruit of the Spirit is love (Galatians 5:22,23). Love “seeketh not her own” (I Corinthians 13:5). The essence of godliness was summed up by our Lord Jesus Christ as loving God with our whole heart, soul, strength, and mind and loving our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:34-40). Christ said, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s the same shall save it” (Mark 8:34,35). The Apostle John wrote, “This is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another (I John 3:11). “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (I John 3:16).

As you ponder the story of the children in the Special Olympics who went back to help a fallen comrade, and as you meditate on the Scriptures set forth above, and as you examine your life in the light of them, what do you see? Are you “getting on with your own life”—as if your life did not belong to Him who redeemed you with His blood—or are you giving of yourself that others may know the truth and find the freedom Christ paid for at the cross? Does selfishness still reign or has it been in large measure banished from your heart? What evidence is there in your life for these judgments? What changes ought you in your life? How will you make them? When will you begin?

--John J.

POINTS TO PONDER

“One of the most difficult parts of being a Twelve Step sponsor is watching people relapse. So often we give out our phone numbers at meetings to promising newcomers and then never hear from them again. Of those few who do call, only a small portion actually want help and stick around long enough to get it. Of that small portion that asks for help, most stop their progress at some point in the Twelve Step process and disappear. Exceedingly rare is the individual who actually works all Twelve Steps and stays around to sponsor others.” [James Ryan, “The Practice of Sponsorship,” Steps: A Magazine of Hope and Healing for Christians in Recovery, Vol. 15, No. 4, p. 3]

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?" [Martin Luther King in Bits & Pieces, Vol. R, No. 40, p. 23]

"The only ones among you who will be truly happy are those who have sought and found a way to serve." [Albert Schweitzer quoted in Group, (July/August 1998), p. 51]

"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little." [Edmund Burke in U.S. Catholic, (October 1997), p. 6]

"If some are still dominated by their former bad habits, and yet can teach by mere words, let them teach.... For perhaps, being put to shame by their own words, they will eventually begin to practice what they teach." [John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, p. 203]

"It's easy to make a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a difference." [Tom Brokaw in Reader's Digest, (June 1993), p. 157]

"Be kind—conquer by love. If a man has his heart full of love and a little common sense, he will succeed." [D. L. Moody in Pollock, Moody, p. 77]

"I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, nor to hate them, but to understand them." [Benedict Spinoza in Bryan Magee, The Story of Philosophy, p. 93]

THIS IS MY STORY!

Stan B., a member of our Traverse City, MI, HA chapter sent us a copy of a letter he gave his pastor to help the pastor let people know about HA by putting Stan’s story in the church bulletin. The pastor did so and people were blessed. We thought you might be encouraged by what Stan had to say, and share his thoughts with you with his permission.

“Sitting in the worship service today was such a treat for me. I see that these kids are being taught and are experiencing God’s love. The commitment of their leaders, shepherds, and parents shows the love of the body of Christ. I have been a member of this congregation long enough to know many of you and to see a tremendous growth within the church. With that knowledge, I feel led to share my story with you. Because of the nature of this issue, and because I feel the calling from God into a ministry for homosexuality, I choose to remain anonymous.

“Yes, homosexuality. Many people feel shivers run up and down their spine when they hear the word mentioned. Words like ‘gross, sick, disgusting’ and other unkind words come to their minds to describe the homosexual person. Of course, not all who are tempted in this way act out their feelings, but they do struggle with them every day of their lives, feeling alone and isolated. I think you’d be surprised to know that studies show that in a church our size there would be an average of ten people who struggle with this issue. Hearing friends or family talk cruelly about homosexuality by a joke, something that happened to someone else, a news story or personal experience makes the person’s struggle more intense and drives them farther and farther into depression and denial while steering them farther away from the truth of recovery.

“Please understand, I’m not saying that homosexuality is right. I know that it is not God’s will for anybody to engage in homosexual behavior. Leviticus 18:22 says, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” I stand by that!

“I also know that studies have shown that something happened when homosexual persons were about two years old so that the boy did not go through a normal healthy separation from his mother and learn to identify with his father.

“In time the homosexual struggler comes to believe that homosexuality is part of him. I know personally that I prayed for God to take away my painful struggle. He never did. Why? I guess I’ll find out when I get to heaven and can ask Him. It may sound weird to you, but I am almost happy that He did not. Because of my struggle, I now know Him better than I ever did before, my life is much fuller, my relationship with Him has never been stronger, and my relationship with my wife has never been better. What happened?

“Growing up was a struggle for me. I never disclosed my homosexual feelings to anyone, but I always wondered if some of the bullies at school who picked on me and called me names like ‘gay’ and ‘homo’ had any suspicions about me. Girls were something I was never really interested in. I was jealous when I heard other boys talking about their girlfriends so I mostly kept to myself. I had a few guy friends but I was mostly a loner.

“After high school, I started working full time at a local retirement center washing dishes. That same year I met the woman I married two years later. We’ve been married over fifteen years. She knew nothing of my struggle until early 2003. I thought that our marriage would be over when I told her. I was prepared to give up and move out, but to my surprise, she wanted to stay with me and work the problem out.

“With God’s help, we are working on my recovery and I have found that she is my biggest supporter. I had totally underestimated the work God had done in her. Today, while we, like everyone, have our ups and downs, our marriage is stronger than ever and the down days seem to be getting less frequent. My recovery has brought about the lessening of my homosexual feelings and at times has given me little hints of my heterosexuality. Praise God!

“Since you know a little of my life story, I would like to tell you what God is doing in my life now. With my loving wife at my side, I have joined a ministry called Homosexuals Anonymous, a life-changing ministry. I have found support from other recovering strugglers and the wives of the men who are working to be free from homosexuality have encouraged my wife.

“The lack of knowledge in many churches has lead many strugglers to believe that the church has no place for them. The struggling homosexual person feels he has nowhere to turn other than to look to those who are living a gay lifestyle and believe their homosexuality is a genetic trait about which nothing can be done.

“Working through any kind of compulsive, addictive behavior is difficult. Until strugglers can separate themselves from homosexual behavior, we, the church, need to love and embrace the struggling homosexual who asks for help, just as we deal with those who struggle with other addictions or issues. We must show them the love of Jesus by encouraging them as they seek the way out of the darkness of confusion and pain into the light. Remember the words of Scripture: ‘They kept demanding an answer, so He stood up again and said, “All right, stone her. But let those who have never sinned throw the first stone”’” (John 8:7)! “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6). “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20).

“If you struggle with homosexuality and want more information on this life-changing ministry, contact HA’s office at 610-779-2500. We want to help you, and share with you, but you have to take the first step and make the call. All calls are confidential. Why not reach out today?

POINTS TO PONDER

"I've discovered...emotional wounds are healed when I am able to use them redemptively. If I share an experience with someone who is suffering, and I use that occurrence to help guide them through their own pain, the memory is redeemed. The experience is purified and put to good use." [Harry & Melissa Harrison, Both Sides of Recovery, p. 77-78]

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” [Mark 16:15]

GOD IS GOOD!

The world might say there are many reasons why God wouldn't want to use you or me. But don't worry—

Moses stuttered.

David didn't fit into Saul's armor.

Mark was rejected by Paul.

Hosea's wife was a prostitute.

Amos' only training was in fig-tree pruning.

Jacob was a liar.

David had an affair.

Solomon was too rich.

Jesus was too poor.

Timothy had ulcers.

Peter was afraid of death.

Lazarus was dead!

Abraham was too old.

David was too young.

John was self-righteous.

Naomi was a widow.

Paul was a murderer.

So was Moses!

Jonah ran from God.

Miriam was a gossip.

Gideon and Thomas both doubted.

Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal.

Elijah burned out.

Martha was a worrywart.

Samson had long hair.

Noah got drunk.

Did I mention that Moses had a short fuse? So did Peter, Paul—well, lots of folks did.

But God doesn't require a job interview. He doesn't hire and fire like most bosses. He's not prejudiced or partial, not judging or grudging, not deaf to our cry, not blind to our need.

God's gifts are free. We can do wonderful things for wonderful people and still not be exactly wonderful!

Satan says, "You're not worthy." Jesus says, "So what? I AM."

Satan looks back and sees our mistakes. God looks back and sees the cross. He doesn't calculate what you used to do. It's not even on the record.

Sure. There are lots of reasons why God shouldn't want us. But if we love Him, if we hunger for Him more than for our next breath, He'll use us in spite of who we are, where we've been, what we've done, or how we look.

Thank God for that!

Author Unknown

Contributed by David P.

POINTS TO PONDER

"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." [Ralph Waldo Emerson quoted in Bits and Pieces, (Vol. I, No. 6), p. 13]

"When any of us stop helping other addicts and get caught up in our own lives, the results are always the same: depression, loneliness and isolation." [Harry & Melissa Harrison, Both Sides of Recovery, p. 73]

"You deny Christ when you fail to deny yourself for Christ." [Pulpit Helps, (April 1999), p. 10]

"There is a wonderful promise in this Book, one of the most precious promises that it contains, a promise that men and women are constantly quoting. I do not wonder that men and women so often quote the promise! what I do wonder at is that they quote the promise without reference to the context and condition. The promise is...(Matt. xxviii.20), 'Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.' Is there a more precious promise than that between the covers of this book? Ah, but notice the condition. You will find it in the preceding verse. Jesus said, 'Go ye into all the world and make disciples of all nations...and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.'... I want to ask you a question: Have you any right to this promise?... Are you going out...making disciples, winning souls?... If you are, you have a right to that promise. If you are not, you have no right to that promise." [R. A. Torrey, Real Salvation and Whole-Hearted Service, p. 220]

Step 14 "by emphasizing 'carrying the message to others'...makes it clear that recovery is not just about me. It is about consciously investing in relationships with people who are still deeply entrenched in the addictive process. Sobriety...is not just not using. It is a whole new life style that involves mutual-support, conscious investments in our relationship with God and disciplined efforts to reach out to others." [Dale Ryan, "Relationships & Recovery," Steps, (Winter, 1996-97), p. 7]

“Let others be obsessed with money, success, fame, sex or power; those who follow Christ should be obsessed with him and with his cross.” [John R. W. Stott, Evangelical Truth, p. 67-68]

“...One secret of being miserable is to live only for ourselves, and one secret of being happy is to try to make others happy, and to do a little good in the world.” [J. C. Ryle, “John” II, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, p. 93]

“That is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great.” [Willa Cather in Bas Bleu, (Summer 2005), p. 25]

SERVICE

“Jesus called them together and said, ‘Ye know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” [Matthew 20:25-28 NIV]

“A Christian man is most the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to everyone.” [Martin Luther in Selected Writings of Martin Luther, edited by Theodore G. Tappert, 1967, p. 20]

“If I have no love for others, no desire to serve others, and I’m only concerned about my needs, I should question whether Christ is really in my life. A saved heart is one that wants to serve.” [Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, 2002, p. 228]

“Your call to salvation included your call to service.... Regardless of your job or career, you are called to full-time Christian service. A ‘non-serving Christian’ is a contradiction in terms.” [Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, 2002, p. 229]

“You are not saved by service, but you are saved for service.” [Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, 2002, p. 228]

“The roots of happiness grow deepest in the soil of service.” [Mother Teresa (1910-1997)]

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” [Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)]

“When an individual turns to God desiring to serve Him, God directs his or her attention to the world and its need.” [Emil Brunner (1889-1966)]

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but make himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” [Philippians 2:3-7 ESV]

“When people are serving, life is no longer meaningless.” [John Gardner in Powerful Thinking for Powerful Living, p. 274]

“If the world is cold, make it your business to build fires.” [Horace Traubel in idem.]

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” [Edmund Burke in Inspiring Quotations: Contemporary & Classical, p. 65]

--Brian H. and John J.

WHY IS RECOVERY TAKING SO LONG?

David Livingstone, the great pioneer missionary to Africa, "came to Bamangwato, and was favorably received by their chief, Sekomi. Here he stayed for some time and Sekomi one day, having sat some time in deep thought, said: '"I wish you would change my heart. Give me medicine to change it, for it is proud, proud and angry, angry always." I lifted up the Testament and was about to tell him of the only way in which the heart can be changed, but he interrupted me with, "Nay, I wish to have it changed by medicine, to drink and have it changed at once, for it is always very proud and very uneasy, always angry with some one." and then rose and went away'" [Thomas Hughes, The Life of David Livingstone, p. 27-28].

Like Sekomi, most people are impatient and rebellious when it comes to change of any sort. They want what they want now and on their own terms. These attitudes must be dealt with if we are to make progress along the road of recovery.

Without a miracle (and miracles, by definition, are extraordinary) recovery takes time. It will help if we understand that: (1) we sometimes make the process longer than it needs to be; and (2) sometimes time is simply part of God's way in leading us to freedom.

(1)

"How could I make the process longer?" you might ask. By not being diligent in working your program!

Dr. Chris Thurman writes, "I have found, time after time in counseling, that when push comes to shove, most of us don't want to do the work entailed in getting better.... We tend to adjust to the pain of staying ill. Not only do we often grow comfortable with our problems and the pain they create, we often want to hang on to our problems for all the benefits that come from them" [If Christ Were Your Counselor, p. 130].

"As you read what I am saying...you may be feeling....that I am accusing everyone who struggles with personal problems of not wanting to get better. I...know that isn't true. I have seen countless examples of people who have struggled with great courage to face their problems head on and have, with God's help, overcome them.... But, if you are hearing me say that most people don't really want to get well, you are hearing me correctly. For every person who musters the courage to face problems and actually do what it takes to get better, there are dozens more who don't" [Ibid., p. 132-133].

There's an old American proverb that states, "Success is a ladder that cannot be climbed with your hands in your pockets" [Reader's Digest, (July 1984), p. 137].

What do you need to do to get your hands out of your pockets and move towards success?

(1) Face the fact that all change is difficult. As you read the following story, please keep in mind that its author is a Christian and a psychiatrist.

"Looking back at my own life from the perspective of maturity, I can now see my own parents more clearly than when I was a child. They were not bad parents; indeed I would rate them well above average.... I describe my experience...to show that a child's inability to read his parents' minds can damage that child just as surely as the vilest cruelties....

"The memory of that day is incomplete... I see myself as a child of two, perhaps three. I am sitting on the floor, alone in a locked room for what seems like hours. I have been sobbing for a long while, but there is no use sobbing any more. I see myself...catching my breath in quick involuntary spasms from time to time. Probably I am being punished for something, but if so, it is the only time a locked room has been involved. For the first time in my life, I know the despair that only a child can know. It is absolute despair... I am accepting the fact that you never ask big people for kindness or understanding. You don't ask them for anything.... I understand clearly now that I must never again expect anything from any big person—and I silently vow never to do so. I could not articulate the vow, but it registered itself in the silence of my soul....

"Later I discovered that this event had made it impossible for me ever to accept affection and love from anyone. I could give affection. But all I expected in return was reasonable decency; I could not handle more than that. Over a forty-year period, I slowly came to understand that I was actually terrified of love and tenderness. As a child I had discovered how deceptive was the delusional hope of love. And I could not unlearn that lesson. I grew up to be a 'nice' person—indeed 'a very nice' person—but, because of my fear of love, a person you could never really get close to. I married, had five children, was successful in all I undertook.... But I could not stand tenderness being shown toward me, even by my wife. Tenderness terrified me. I would react strangely to it, not understanding why” [John White, Changing on the Inside, p. 44-46].

These barriers to love began to be broken down when he was forty-four as a result of a vision of the nail-pierced hands of Christ reaching out to him. Though he was a Christian, he found he was paralyzed, unable to take those hands, to receive that love. That motivated him to seek wholeness.

He continues, "As I write I am in my sixty-sixth year. Over the years since that night, the barriers I had erected against love have been gradually lowered. During the last three years, I have experienced a rapid acceleration in this process" [Ibid., p. 47].

Did you notice? It took Dr. White more than twenty years to be able to change his inability to receive love!

Homosexuality is also difficult to change. Psychologist D. Charles Williams writes, "In working with homosexuals, my experience is that they can make a shift in sexual orientation if they are interested and motivated.... Changing their sexual orientation will be perhaps the hardest thing they ever try to do" [Forever a Father, Always a Son, p. 160]. Dr. James Dobson states, "...Contrary to what you've heard, homosexuality can be treated successfully when the individual desperately wants to change" [Love Must Be Tough, p. 163].

God forbid that these words should discourage anyone who honestly wants change. God grant that they may alert anyone who expects to be changed by coming to a few meetings to the fact that it will take much more than that to find freedom from homosexuality!

(2) Determine to work diligently at your recovery. Failure to work hard is the reason many never find what they seek.

Dr. Albert Ellis, who successfully treated many homosexual patients, nonetheless wrote, "Homosexuals are even more difficult to treat than most other psychotherapy patients for several reasons. They frequently do not admit that they are basically disturbed, but insist that only society is disturbed... They often enjoy their homosexual acts...and therefore cannot look upon these acts as disturbing symptoms. They wrongly believe that they were born to be homosexual and that there is nothing unusual or aberrant about their being fixed deviants. When they come for therapy, they usually want to tackle their other symptoms—such as their anxieties, depressions, and guilt—but want to leave their homosexuality alone. They are usually evaders or goofers, and tend to work very little on their therapy, just as they work little at many other aspects of their lives" [Homosexuality: Its Causes and Cure, p. 111-112].

Before you get angry, ask yourself how much of what he is saying is true in your own case. Are you faithfully attending all your meetings? Have you asked someone to be your step coach? Are you doing a question a day in your workbook? Have you been completing the assignments at the end of each step? Are you consistent in all this or is your recovery a matter of fits and starts, now and then? If these questions hurt your conscience, own the problem and make the changes that get your feet firmly planted on the road to freedom!

(3) Determine to give recovery first place in your life. The biblical word for recovery is sanctification—seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Anyone who wants freedom from compulsive, addictive behavior has to engage in other obligations and pleasures after they have been to their meeting, done their workbook, and met with their step coach. As Anne Wilson Schaff says, "All the recovery programs say that in order to recover, we have to be willing to put our sobriety first" [Escape From Intimacy, p. 130].

(4) Determine that you will follow directions! The famous psychologist Alfred Adler is said to have put an ad in the paper claiming that he could cure anyone of any mental or emotional difficulty in just fourteen days if they would do just what he told them to. A woman who was extremely lonely came to see him. He told her he could cure her loneliness in just fourteen days if she would follow his advice. She was not very enthusiastic, but asked, "What do you want me to do?" Adler replied, "If you will do something for someone else every day for fourteen days, at the end of that time your loneliness will be gone." The woman objected strongly, "Why should I do anything for someone else? No one ever does anything for me." Adler supposedly responded jokingly, "Well, maybe it will take you twenty-one days" [Jane Nelson, Positive Discipline, p. 26]. As John Churton Collins put it, "To profit from good advice requires more wisdom than to give it" [The Book of Unusual Quotations, p. 6].

Others have walked the road you are treading before you. They have learned lessons which can profit you. Unless they tell you to do something clearly contrary to Scripture, follow their instructions. You may find some of the greatest helps to recovery in their words.

When I started in recovery, I had a counselor who told me to share my story with the pastor of a church I had visited. That was the last thing in the world I wanted to do! I'd spent much of my life hiding what he asked me to reveal. However, I wanted to get well. Therefore, with sweaty palms and knocking knees I went to see the pastor, shared my story, and found love and support which is one of the key elements in where I am today.

(5) Determine to undo your defensive detachment and build healthy friendships. Dr. Elizabeth Moberly, a brilliant research psychologist, after eight years of research, found that homosexual strugglers were hurt as children in their relationship with their same-sex parent. To protect themselves from further hurt, they put up an emotional wall (defensive detachment) against that parent and others of the same sex. This wall, not the hurt, is the cause of a homosexual struggle. While it may have protected from further hurt, it also blocked the fulfillment of same-sex, parent-child emotional needs for love, dependency/security, and identity. They entered puberty with these needs unmet and when the strong sexual urges of puberty came, they fused with their unmet emotional needs and homosexual feelings were the outcome. How can this be changed?

"The persisting defensiveness vis-à-vis the love source is to be overcome and undone; in addition, the growth missed out through the disruption of attachment is to be made up for. It would be wrong to assume that the undoing of the defensive barrier would itself mark the resolution of the overall problem. The person in question would still be in a state of incomplete growth until such time as this would be completed through the medium of a renewed attachment. The restoration of attachment does not instantly resolve the problem, since an attachment is a means (towards completion of growth) and not an end in itself. But the restoration of attachment begins to solve the problem, and without this the problem can never be solved" [Elizabeth Moberly, Psychogenesis, p. 70].

Someone may object, "That's just psychology!" If so, it is simply telling you to obey Christ. Listen to Him! "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another" (John 13:33). Seek to develop with several people of the same sex the same open, tender, warm, caring, love Christ had with His disciples—a relationship in which love was joyfully given and received. If your experience is like mine, you will find, over several years, new freedom from homosexual longings.

(6) Determine to recognize progress as you make it. A good friend started recovery when I did. He often lamented, "I'm not getting anywhere!" I'd point out what he was like when he first started and how different he was now, listing specific changes. Sadly, he could not see progress until I pointed it out. Why?

Sometimes we don't see our progress because we engage in "all-or-nothing" or perfectionistic thinking. As Dr. Albert Ellis said: "...If a male compulsively lusts after 12-year-old girls and tries to have coitus only with such girls, he is definitely fixated on this kind of sexuality, is often phobic in relation to sex affairs with older girls, and is therefore disturbed. If, through psychotherapy, he loses his reluctance to have intercourse with older girls, and if he can easily keep his hands off 12-year-olds, we would normally consider him 'cured'—even though he still had some amount of attraction to younger girls and sometimes thought about copulating with them. So the realistic goal in the treatment of confirmed homosexuals is not the complete eradication of their desires for members of their own sex but placing such desires in their proper perspective: as a relatively minor part of the general sex drives of the treated individual" [Op. cit., p. 112-113].

While some strugglers no longer have any problem with homosexual attraction, we are not promised freedom from temptation in this life. We are promised freedom from sin! Don't let temptation blind you to the work God is doing in your life, lest you fail to give Him the glory He deserves!

Others fail to see their progress because they measure themselves against false ideals of masculinity or femininity. "Much of what we...call straight is...crooked by God's definition.... It isn't God's plan to lead you out of one lust into another. The process of change...involves an unlearning of the homosexual condition, and then a learning...of the heterosexual one. It is important to realize that much of what passes as normal heterosexual drive and desire is also fallen" [Ed Hurst with Dave and Neta Jackson, Overcoming Homosexuality, p. 92-93].

Others measure their insides by other people's outsides and thus always come up short. When they develop emotionally intimate relationships with others of the same sex, they are often amazed to find that they too have difficulty feeling secure in their masculinity or femininity and that such struggles do not prove one is not heterosexual, but only that we are fallen and nothing in our lives is perfect yet.

Still others have been emotionally abused and can think of themselves only in negative terms. Anything positive does not match their internal picture of themselves and is therefore rejected as impossible.

Whatever the problem, work it through so you can see change as it takes place and be encouraged. Otherwise you will be robbed of all hope and sink into despair and worse.

(7) Determine to enjoy your recovery and continue in it until you have achieved your goals. Too many fall into the trap of which "General A. W. Greely once wrote, 'heights charm us; the paths that lead to them do not" [Halford E. Luccock, The Acts of the Apostles in Present-Day Preaching II, p. 3]. We moan and groan and feel sorry for ourselves. As A. W. Tozer said, "Among those sins most exquisitely fitted to injure the soul and destroy the testimony, few can equal the sin of complaining" [The Next Chapter After the Last, p. 15].

Far better to have the attitude of one of the men in our chapter. He recently came to one of our meetings excited that working on his recovery was not only helping him understand himself, but others who were around him. He was finding opportunities to be used of God in ways he had not dreamed possible. He was not full of self-pity; he was full of praise! That's always an excellent sign.

C. S. Lewis wrote, "I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious minds praised most, while cranks, misfits, and malcontents praise least.... Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible" [Reflections on the Psalms, p. 94]. As Alexander Whyte has said, "...Praise—pure, emancipated, enraptured, adoring praise,—is the supremest and the most perfect of all kinds of prayer" [Lord, Teach Us To Pray, p. 157].

It is only as you learn praise and gratitude in your recovery that you will discover "the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10) and will be enabled to keep at it until recovery is complete. You may need professional counseling or other help. Whatever it takes, keep going on with joy until you either achieve your goal or reach heaven trying!

(2)

While we can slow and even frustrate our recovery by not diligently working the steps, it is not true that we have complete control over or responsibility for the rate of our recovery. Sometimes the pace of recovery is simply God's way of bringing us to maturity in Christ.

Dr. Richard C. Halverson writes: "God has a schedule. There is a when as well as a what to God's will. We are not really submitting to God's will until we submit to the when as well as to the what, even—especially—if we do not know how long the wait will be. It may be just as wrong to say 'Now' as to say 'No' to God. God's schedule often involves waiting. The Bible is full of stories about people who waited. Sarah waited for ninety years to give birth to her much-desired son, Isaac. The grieving Jacob waited for years in protracted mourning before learning his son, Joseph, was still alive. Joseph waited for years in prison before being elevated to the second-most important post in Pharaoh's government. Moses waited forty years in the wilderness to be prepared to lead Israel. Israel waited with the Red Sea in front of them and the Egyptian army in hot pursuit behind them until God miraculously opened the waters for them to pass through. Waiting can be difficult, but it can be very good. 'Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him,' says the psalmist (Psalm 37:7). Isaiah promises, 'Those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint' (Isaiah 40:32 NRSV)" [The Living Body: The Church Christ Is Building, p. 77-78].

Those seeking freedom from homosexuality must face reality. "Just as ordinary psychological growth takes many years (roughly the first two decades of life), so it is quite reasonable to expect reparative growth to take at least a few years in cases where some significant aspect of growth has been checked since an early age. One cannot expect a child to grow up overnight, or without experiencing sufficient parental care during the long process of growth. Yet this is what is often expected of persons who are psychologically pre-adult even though they have attained adult years. Rapid, if not instant, growth is expected, and this without the provision of relationships, which constitute the normal and necessary means of growth. But to expect growth to bypass the normal need for time and for parent-child relationships is certainly unreasonable.... No-one would think of praying for a young child to grow up straightaway... ...Yet it is precisely this point that tends to be overlooked in questions of psychological healing. Just as it takes years for a young child to grow up, years may be needed for the process of psychological growth when this was checked in a major respect in early life. Time is needed, as are relationships through which pre-adult needs may be satisfied" [Elizabeth Moberly, Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic, p. 49-50].

Not only is recovery a matter of time normally, the process of waiting can be a spiritual blessing, if we will allow it to be.

Waiting tests faith and the testing of faith which is endured brings great reward. As Thomas Keating notes, "God embraces us with both arms. With the left He humbles us; with the right He lifts us up and consoles us. If you want to be fully embraced by the Lord, you have to accept both arms: the one that allows suffering for the sake of purification and the one that brings the joy of union. When you feel physical pain or when psychological struggles are persecuting you, you should think that God is hugging you extra tightly. Trials are an expression of His love, not of rejection" [Union Life, (November/ December 1997), p. 20].

"We may, indeed, be sure that perfect chastity—like perfect charity—will not be attained by any merely human efforts. You must ask for God's help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need is being given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of trying again. For however important chastity (or courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue) may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul that are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection" [C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 86].

"An ancient Chinese proverb says, 'Patience is power. With time and patience, the mulberry leaf becomes silk'" [Peter Ustinov in Les and Leslie Parrott, Relationships 101, p. 110]. This is certainly true when it comes to finding freedom from homosexuality!

Dr. Irving Bieber, in the most complete study of homosexual recovery done to date, worked with 77 psychoanalysts who were treating 106 male homosexuals, many of whom were not seeking freedom, and found that only 7 percent of those patients whose analyses were of fewer than 150 hours became heterosexual; 23 percent of the patients whose analyses were of 150 to 349 hours became heterosexual; while 47 percent of those who had 350 or more therapeutic sessions achieved the shift to heterosexuality. He wrote, "These statistics are not necessarily final since 26 H-patients who had not become heterosexual were still in analysis at the time of the last follow-up report. Some patients in this group may yet become heterosexual as a result of continuing treatment. All such additional 'terminated heterosexual' cases would necessarily fall into the 'more than 350 hours' category and the 47 percent rate for this category would rise" [Homosexuality: A Psychoanalytic Study, p. 278].

These findings are especially heartening to those seeking freedom from homosexuality when they remember that "in 1967 the American Psychoanalytic Association released their...long-term sociologic and statistical study of the results of treatment by psychoanalysis and analytic psychotherapy. While 97% of the patients were judged by their therapists to have improved in total functioning, and a similar number of patients agreed, the over all rate of symptom cure was only twenty-seven per cent" [Karl Lewin, Brief Encounters, Brief Psychotherapy, p. 250]. This means that those who seek freedom from homosexuality have a far greater chance of recovery than those in therapy for other conditions—if they have a good support group, work the steps diligently, find a skilled therapist, and persevere!

Thus the real question is not why is my recovery taking so long, but will I continue to trust Christ no matter how long He takes to conform me to His own image? Here, as always in the Christian life, the rule is, "According to your faith be it unto you" (Matthew 9:29)!

John J.

POINTS TO PONDER

"You will often hear men say...: 'If a man believes in Christ in the secrecy of his heart, even if he never confesses Him or says anything about it, God yet knows what is in his heart, and will accept him on the ground of the faith which he never confesses.' I challenge any man to show me one line in this book that countenances such a statement.... You say, 'Does not faith save?' Yes, and faith confesses; and the faith that does not lead to confession is no faith, and the faith that does not lead to confession will not lead to salvation" [R. A. Torrey, Revival Addresses, p. 155-156].

"We Christians are left in the world to witness, and while we have breath we must speak to men about God and to God about men" [A. W. Tozer, Born After Midnight, p. 35].

"Christ must be Lord or He will not be Savior" [A. W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous, p. 86].

AA provides terrific help for alcoholics, but "AA's own surveys suggest that about half of those who come to the program are gone within three months. Studies that follow people who have undergone treatment for alcoholism find that...a year after entering treatment, about half the participants are still in trouble. Nevertheless, AA has several components that may maximize the chance of success. In general, most alcoholics do well while they are being actively treated. In AA, members are supposed to attend 90 meetings in the first 90 days, followed by three meetings a week for life" ["Does Therapy Help?" Consumer Reports, (November 1995), p.738].

“In recent years there has been strong opposition to ministries like Regeneration. Those for whom our ministries did not ‘work’ are held up as shining examples of why we should not exist. Interestingly, no one attempts to use those who do not succeed at overcoming drugs and alcohol as justification for shutting down substance abuse recovery programs (which have about a 30% success rate). Instead, we all understand that these statistics simply reveal how truly difficult it is to overcome life-dominating struggles. And this holds true for our support groups as well” [Bob Ragan, “Fifteen Years of Observation,” Regeneration News, (May 2003), p. 1].

“The majority of us lead quiet, unheralded lives as we pass through the world. There will most likely be no ticker-tape parades for us, no monuments created in our honor. But that does not lessen our possible impact, for there are scores of people waiting for someone just like us to come along; people who will appreciate our compassion, our encouragement, who will need our unique talents. Someone who will live a happier life merely because we took the time to share what we had to give. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. It’s overwhelming to consider the continuous opportunities there are to make our love felt” [Leo Buscaglia, Born to Love (Slack) in Reader’s Digest, (March 1993), p. 177].

"Trusting ourselves or the people around us to be...invulnerable to relapse is just plain old denial" [Pat Means, "Toxic Trust," Steps, Vol. 8, No. 4, (Winter 1997), p. 4].

A BEACON!

A beacon, according to Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, is “any light for warning or guiding.” The famous designer, Calvin Klein, recently provided men and women recovering from any type of addiction with such a warning.

With only two minutes and sixteen seconds left in a recent New York Knicks’ game, “Klein grabbed Latrell Sprewell’s arm and started muttering while the Knicks’ star was trying to inbound the ball” [The Reading Eagle, (April 8, 2003), p. C-5].

Two weeks later Klein “checked himself into a rehab for an undisclosed substance problem” [Idem.]

“’For many years, I’ve been able to successfully address my substance-abuse issues, which for anyone is a lifelong process, through strict adherence to counseling and regular attendance at meetings,’ the designer, 60, said in a statement. ‘However, when I recently stopped attending meetings regularly, I suffered a setback.’” [Idem.]

There are a number of important lessons to be learned from Mr. Klein’s sad experience.

First, as individuals, let us beware the danger of which Jeremiah warned when he cried, “They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; where there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11).

Too many attend a few meetings, do a little in the workbook, and then proclaim they are delivered. When the deliverance turns out to be spurious, they say there is no hope for them (sometimes they say for anyone) and abandon themselves to homosexuality.

Dr. Robert Spitzer, in his landmark study of 200 men and women who had experienced a significant shift from homosexual to heterosexual attraction and whose shift had lasted for at least five years, found that “typically the change effort had not produced significant results for the subjects during the first two years.” [Joseph and Linda Nicolosi, A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality, p. 141] So don’t assume you’re somehow special and don’t need to patiently work your program. “Ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36).

Second, as a movement, let us learn the folly of setting deadlines giving the time in which we say people must be recovered. As the HA workbook, Lord, Set Me Free! says, “We all have differing struggles and recover on different schedules. Some of us are acting out. All have problems with thoughts. Some are out of control. Others gain and lose command of themselves several times as they work the Steps. Recovery begins for some with a certain Step while it may not come for others until all the Steps have been worked. Healing may be sudden or gradual. We are all unique.

“We must be patient with ourselves and each other and trust God to heal us in the way best for each one” [Lord, Set Me Free! (Reading, PA: 1994), p. 53]. Part of that trust in God is being willing to keep our doors and our hearts open to those whose recovery is slow in coming. Trusting means never giving up hope for someone after six months, two years, or one hundred years, telling them that they are no longer welcome. Faith involves letting God be God, letting Him set His time-table for recovery, and waiting patiently for Him to do it for us and for others in His “good time”. It means refusing to turn our backs on anyone who says he or she wants help, but standing by them for however long it may take for them to find the glorious liberty of the sons and daughters of God that is there for them in Christ.

Third, let us learn from this story to keep relapses in perspective. When Calvin Klein suffered his “setback” no one told him, “That proves you cannot get free. You were born this way. Drug addict is who you are. Stop fighting it. Learn to live with it, to celebrate addiction as God’s gift to you! You are only going to do psychological damage to yourself by taking any other course. There is no hope for change for you!”

If anyone had dared spout such nonsense, the whole world would have come down on him or her. Yet that same nonsense is thrown at those strugglers who seek change, but who also experience “setbacks.”

Don’t let the relapses of others or those you experience yourself rob you of your help in Christ! Do what Calvin Klein did. “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start back over again!”

Finally, let us ever take to heart the warning of Scripture, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (I Corinthians 10:12). Old, addictive patterns are still a reality. The devil has not been put out of business yet. The world is still trying to draw each of us into the worship of sex. Our flesh still looks for opportunities to reassert itself. All who struggle with any compulsive, addictive behavior battle a “cunning, baffling, and powerful” adversary. We must never forget, as Alcoholics Anonymous warns, we may have another relapse, but we may not have another recovery. Our addictions will kill us if we let them.

Therefore, let us “watch and pray that” we “enter not into temptation” remembering that “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Let us be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58). “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9)

--John J.

POINTS TO PONDER

“He who lives without discipline dies without honor.” [Icelandic proverb in Reader’s Digest, (June 1996), p. 51]

"The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them.... Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking when they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon no longer be listening to God either." [Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, p. 97]

GOOD QUESTIONS!

Every year we send out slips asking if people are still at their same address and if they want to continue receiving the Newsletter. We give a place on those slips for suggestions or comments. We got several back last year that we suspect represent questions many of you may have. So we’ll answer them here.

Several folk asked us to start a chapter in their area or said that their area needed a chapter. These represent a misunderstanding of what we do.

We do not start chapters! We help people who have made progress in their recovery, have grown in Christ enough to care deeply about serving others, and who therefore want to start a chapter in their area so that other strugglers may have more help then they had recovering. We develop literature for them, list their chapter with our 800 number and on the HA webpage, tell them how to let strugglers in their area know that a chapter is there for those who want support in seeking freedom from homosexuality in Christ, offer seminars and the HA Conference to assist them in helping others, give the HA Training Seminar to teach them “how to do it”, and offer phone counsel should they run into difficulties along the way.

One need not have struggled with homosexuality to start a chapter. Friends and family members of strugglers can do an excellent work if they have the heart to love God and strugglers. If you want a chapter in your area, pray about starting one. Order an HA Policy and Advisory Manual and read it. Attend an HA Training Seminar.

If God’s people would seek His face, love His hurting children, and do His will, there would be literally hundreds more chapters than we have now. Didn’t Jesus say, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few”? Then He told them to pray (Matthew 9:37,38) and go (Matthew 10:1-7). He still calls, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Will you say, “Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8)?

A brother in the Lord asks, “Do you know of any books on evangelism to gay neighbors?”

So far as I know, there is no book on the subject nor is there even a chapter on it in books written about how to witness in general. Why?

First, there is no special gospel for people who struggle with homosexuality. The gospel is not, “Clean up your life and you can be saved,” but “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31). The Bible teaches, “There is no difference: for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:22b, 23). “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (I Timothy 1:15). “When we were yet without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on His is not condemned...” (John 3:16-18a). “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). And God has and does save homosexual persons from the guilt and the power of their sins. “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:9-11 NIV, emphasis ours).

The gospel the apostles preached saved and still saves homosexual strugglers (and those who struggle with all manner of other sins) who, by God’s grace, will go to Christ that they may be saved from the guilt and the power of sin. Please do all in your power to carry the message to them and let us help you with their nurture when they look to Christ!

Another reason there may be a lack of literature on evangelizing people who struggle with homosexuality is that there is no hard and fast method of reaching out to them. As no good counselor would use the same approach with every client no matter what the problem, so no one should approach every lost man or woman in some mechanical way.

Note how differently Christ approached a lost man who was very religious (John 3) and a lost woman who was full of shame (John 4). He was blunt with the proud Pharisee, sweeping away all he trusted in by telling him he could not even see the Kingdom of God unless he was born again—unless he received spiritual life from God! He was tender and patient with the woman who had been married five times and was now living with a man to whom she was not married. He knew that people in her village had hurt her by words and self-righteous attitudes (why else would she come for water at noon when the sun was hottest and no one else would be there?). The situation of the one to whom He spoke dictated His approach.

Unfortunately for those who would witness to people with a homosexual problem, Christians have often made the task needlessly difficult. The one to whom you would witness has probably experienced ridicule, hostility, self-righteousness and a host of other sinful responses which he or she wrongly supposes are what Christianity calls for and reflect the attitude of God toward him or her. This means that the one who would witness must take time to prove he or she is one in whom the person who needs Christ can safely trust before being direct about the needs of the soul who they seek to win.

Remember, the one you seek to win is starving for love (often confused with sex) they didn’t get from their same-sex parent. Love is the key to open the barred door to their hearts. “What if they have sexual feelings for me?” some ask. It’s unlikely they will approach you in that way, but, if it should happen, tell them you love them, but not in that way, and that such behavior would really be taking advantage of their neediness, something you would never do. Then proceed as if nothing important had happened. If you don’t make a big deal of it, they probably won’t either.

Finally, trust God to work. You can’t open sin-blinded eyes or re-place stony hearts with hearts tender to Christ. He can! Tom Stribling died of AIDS as a result of homosexual behavior. He came to Christ and spent the rest of his life helping homosexual people and people with AIDS. Roger, one to whom he ministered, asked “whether or not God is displeased with the way I’ve chosen to live my life.” Tom said, “...My initial impulse was to jump in and tell him that God does not approve of the homosexual lifestyle, and that God had told me it was wrong. As I started to say a few words to that effect, I saw him stiffen up and even inch away from me in his bed. It occurred to me that I was taking the wrong approach, so I caught myself. Instead, I simply said, ‘Roger, I think that if you really want to know the answer to that question, God will reveal it to you. He’ll let you know if he has been displeased.’” When Tom next saw him, Roger said, “’I believe God has revealed something to me. I don’t want my lover to hear this, but I don’t think God has been very pleased with my choice of homosexuality. I’d like you to pray with me.’ I bowed my head and began by mentioning the need for repentance. Roger picked right up on what I was saying, and prayed to God in his own words: ‘God, please forgive me of all my sins, including the way I have lived my life. I’m very sorry, and I hope that you’ll forgive me. I want Christ to come into my heart.’”

Tom rejoiced in Roger’s salvation and noted, “Meeting Roger served to remind me that anyone can be spiritually hungry and that the grace of God excludes no one.” [Thomas B. Stribling with Verne Becker, Love Broke Through, p. 176-177]

May God give you the love and the spiritual wisdom to carry the message to needy men and women!

--John J.

POINTS TO PONDER

“Love is the key from first to last. It was God who, in his love, gave us sex. In his love, he also gave us boundaries. His heart must break when he sees the mess we have gotten ourselves into. In his love he sent Jesus to bring us forgiveness and the power to resist temptation and also to change. We are called to be like him and to go out and love as he loved.” [Nicky Gumbel, What Is The Christian Attitude toward Homosexuality? p. 24]

“Many men seeking to overcome homosexuality become frustrated and discouraged when they find that their feelings and attractions don’t change as quickly or substantially as they had hoped. I believe that the reason these men become frustrated is because their efforts at change are not broad enough. By this I mean that their work, however intense and sincere, has not covered enough areas of life to bring about real change. For instance, a man might focus on overcoming sexual addiction but spend no time building healthy relationships with other men. Or, he may work on spiritual healing but give little attention to healing his emotional wounds.” [David A Matheson, “Four Principles of Growth,” NARTH Bulletin, (Winter 2006), p. 4]

“AIDS and those behaviors with which AIDS is associated are not so much a judgment on drug addicts and homosexuals as on society and the church.” [John White, Eros Redeemed: Breaking the Stranglehold of Sexual Sin, p. 153]

“The modern talk about sex being free like any other sense, about the body being beautiful like any tree or flower, is either a description of the Garden of Eden or a piece of thoroughly bad psychology, of which the world grew weary two thousand years ago.” [Malcolm Muggeridge quoted in Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, p. 100]

THE STEP NOT TAKEN!

What would you say of a person who got sick, went to a doctor, was told to take penicillin for fourteen days, felt better, stopped medication after twelve days, got sick again, was mad at the doctor and said that since he hadn't gotten well, no one could recover! "Absurd!" you say? Yet this describes many who want freedom from homosexuality but never take the fourteenth step—they don't carry the message to others and they don't continue working their program! Why?

For many, the problem is selfishness. Most of us come to HA looking for help for ourselves. That is as it should be. To recover, however, we must learn not to focus exclusively on ourselves, but also to love God and others. That's not just the message of recovery; it's the message of the Bible!

An expert in the law once asked Our Lord, "Which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him (and us!), Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matthew 22:35-39). The Apostle Paul said, "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:4 NIV).

How different the attitude of some who say, "I can't wait until this whole ugly business is behind me!" If they mean, "I can't wait to stop engaging in behavior the Scripture says is sinful," well and good! Too often, however, they long to escape not so much the sinning as the shame. While they would never say these words, their attitude is, "God, please get me out of this so I can feel good. Don't ask me to help others. I want to forget!"

That's not what the Bible says God's help is all about. Listen to this! "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, with the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God" (II Corinthians 1:3,4). God comforts us, not just to make us comfortable, but also to make us comforters!

John Newton, author of that wonderful hymn, "Amazing Grace," did not let shame keep him from acknowledging his sin and God's mercy to him, that God might be glorified and others blessed. When he was nearly 80, after many years of preaching, he was advised to retire because of failing eyesight. He cried, "What! shall the old African blasphemer stop while he can speak" [E. E. Ryden, The Story of Christian Hymnody, p. 304]? "...When his memory was nearly gone, (he) used to say that forget what he might, he never forgot two things—firstly, That he was a great sinner; secondly, That Jesus Christ was a great Savior" [John Whitecross, The Shorter Catechism Illustrated, p. 37]. He composed his own epitaph, which can still be seen on a tablet in St. Mary's Woolnoth, London, where he served for many years: "JOHN NEWTON, clerk, once an Infidel and Libertine, a servant of slavers in Africa, was, by the rich Mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the Faith he had so long labored to destroy" [Ryden, op. cit., p. 303].

John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim's Progress, did not let shame keep him from acknowledging his sin and God's mercy to him, that God might be glorified and others blessed. His past had been so sinful that for a time he believed he could not be forgiven. He wrote his struggle in a book he titled, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners: or, A brief and faithful relation of the exceeding mercy of God in Christ to his poor servant, John Bunyan; namely, in his taking of him out of the dung-hill and converting of him to the faith of his blessed Son, Jesus Christ. Here is also particularly showed, what sight of, and what trouble he had for sin; and also what various temptations he hath met with, and how God hath carried him through them. This classic has comforted literally thousands.

David, King of Israel, did not let the shame of his adultery with Bathsheba and his part in the death of her husband keep him from proclaiming God's mercy to him, that God might be glorified and others blessed. Instead he wrote two psalms for all Israel to sing, sobbing out his repentance in Psalm 51 and singing his joy at God's pardon in Psalm 32, and sinning men and women have been helped for thousands of years.

Paul, the Apostle, did not let shame keep him from acknowledging his sin and God's mercy to him, that God might be glorified and others blessed. He openly confessed that he had been "a blasphemer and a persecutor" (I Timothy 1:13) and, rejoicing that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners", added, "of whom I am chief" (I Timothy 1:15). He continued, "But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life" (I Timothy 1:16 NIV). "Paul seems to speak to us across the centuries: 'Don't despair! Christ had mercy even on me, the worst of sinners; he can also have mercy on you!'" [John R. W. Stott, Guard the Truth, p. 55]

What about us? We're not commanded to carry a placard proclaiming our struggle. Still, when God gives an opportunity to glorify His grace and do good to a fellow human being, we are called to do it. To push the opportunity away is to push recovery away!

Another way selfishness can show itself is seen in the sentence: "I want to get on with my life!" When you think about it, that statement is really foolish!

In the first place, it is not our life if we are Christians! "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (I Corinthians 6:19,20). As George MacDonald warned, "The one principle of hell is—I am my own" [Unspoken Sermons (Series Three), p. 102].

Ask yourself, "Why should God deliver me when I have no intention of helping others find freedom? Why should God continue to hold me up if my attitude is, "Now that I'm out of the pit, I'll forget about others who are still trapped!"? Why should God care for you when you are all you really care about? Is this the love of Christ that proves you are His disciple (see John 13:34,35)?

In the second place, none of us can safely forget the past and act as if it has no power over the present. Doesn't the Bible warn, "Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12)? As J. Keith Miller says about recovery from any form of addictive behavior, "If I quit doing the things I am learning how to do to recover..., quit turning loose each day, quit meeting with other recovering people and doing the daily inventory and praying the simple prayers I pray, I know that I will slip back into my grandiose, self-centered, and frustrated life. I know this because it has happened. And now I am convinced that God's love and grace are like the manna he gave the Hebrews in the desert. They had to gather it every day. It rotted and spoiled if they tried to store it (Exod. 16:19,20)" [Sin: Overcoming the Ultimate Deadly Addiction, p. 140].

These words of Christ have not been abrogated: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it" (Mark 8:34,35 NIV). "Then as now, some wanted a Messiah who would meet all their own needs and desires; but Jesus turned out to be a Messiah who demands shameful death to self-interest. Self-fulfillment, even in following Jesus the Messiah, depends on self-abnegation; whereas pursuit of self-interest results only in frustration, death, and judgment when the Son of Man comes again..." [D. A. Carson, God With Us: Themes from Matthew, p. 101].

"...Unless we share this message, God seems to have arranged things so that we can't keep the recovery and serenity we are discovering. Unless we can 'deny ourselves' enough...to give away the love, the concern, and the message of hope, and unless we invite people into the family of Sinners who are recovering, sooner or later we will slowly and imperceptibly close the doorway and lose the authentic spiritual life and growth in our own experience" [J. Keith Miller, A Hunger For Healing, p. 209].

Let us then live and minister in the spirit of James Telford who cried, "I go gladly on this mission and shall rejoice if I may but give my body as one of the stones to pave the road into interior Africa, and my blood to cement the stones together, so that others may pass into Congoland'" [The Speaker's Bible VII, p. 88].

While selfishness has kept thousands from learning to care for others, fear has kept tens of thousands from being a blessing. Failure to thoroughly work steps 8-10 explains the unmortified selfishness which hinders us. Failure to thoroughly work step 11 explains the unmortified fear which may be keeping us in bondage.

You may be saying, "I'm not selfish. I really care about people in pain and want to help them." What's stopping you? Get your journal and honestly evaluate what hinders you. See if any of these thoughts hit home.

Are you afraid of exposure? Have you failed to open your heart and life to trustworthy people close to you, asking for their support as you seek freedom from homosexuality? To fail to declare our sins to those who should know of them is to doom ourselves to live in isolation with those sins. That kind of isolation makes healing and growth virtually impossible.

I'm not suggesting carrying a placard announcing your struggle to the world. I'm saying that a vital part of recovery is letting go of toxic shame by opening up to wisely chosen people who can encourage you on the journey to freedom.

Sadly, some never tell anyone about their struggles and failures. Others only tell people in their chapter, but are never honest with non-strugglers who can sometimes offer help strugglers can't. Others reveal only part of the truth, saying they once struggled with homosexuality when they are really trembling on the verge of a fall or are actually engaging in homosexual behavior. As someone said, "A half truth is a whole lie!"

All such half-measures avail nothing! They are, in truth, hurtful. They give us the illusion we are getting closer to people when, in reality, we are blocking intimacy because we fear that if others knew what was really happening in our lives, they would despise us. We are terrified of being transparent so no one really knows us because we refuse to trust others. Then we wonder why we still feel so alone. When that happens, trouble is not far away.

Further, failure to involve people who should know about our struggles robs us of people who could be helpful accountability partners. Sometimes we limit accountability to others who struggle because we know they will be sympathetic and that there is really nothing they can do if we continue to act out. We may feel we can't face life without an occasional "fling", so we protect our "supply" by keeping our true situation from those whose intervention might require us to make some tough decisions. Then we deceive ourselves and others by moaning, "I'm doing the best I can." When that wears thin, we may end up saying there's no way out and abandoning ourselves to what we know is wrong.

Finally, failure to involve people who should know about our struggles only increases our shame. We feel more guilty, more phony, and become more afraid of being found out and less able to be honest with others. We know we are frauds and despise ourselves for it. Our self-esteem plummets and we become ever more vulnerable to the envy which is a major fuel of homosexual behavior.

Ask yourself honestly, "Am I failing to reach out with help to others because I fear exposure?" If you feel uncomfortable with the question, work through Step 11 in the HA workbook, Lord, Set Me Free. Be certain to do all the assignments in the workbook under "HOW YOU CAN WORK STEP 11". As you do so, pray that God will help you develop courage so Satan can never again keep you from being God's faithful servant. Remember, World War II hero Captain Eddie Rickenbacker said, "Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared" [Bob Phillips, Powerful Thinking for Powerful Living, p. 65].

As the fear of exposure keeps some from helping other strugglers, fear of failure paralyzes more. Many of us struggle with deep feelings of inferiority and are afraid to "launch out into the deep" at God's direction (Luke 5:1-11). We are terrified by the question, "What if it doesn't work?" You can often hear fear in statements like, "When I'm sure this is God's will for me, I'll do something."

The problem with this need for certainty is that it demands more than God gave even the apostles!

Have you ever noticed, what Paul told the church at Rome? "Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let (hindered) hitherto)..." (Romans 1:13). He wrote Corinth, "If it seems advisable for me to go also, they ["the men you approve"] will accompany me. After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you... Perhaps I will stay with you awhile, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits" (I Corinthians 16:4-7 NIV). He had to defend himself against critics, saying, "I made plans at first to visit you....on my way to Macedonia and again on my way back... In planning this did I appear fickle? When I make my plans, do I make them from selfish motives, ready to say 'Yes, yes' and 'No, no' at the same time?... I call upon God as my witness—he knows my heart! It was in order to spare you that I decided not to go to Corinth" (II Corinthians 1:15-17,23 GNB). He wrote the Thessalonians, "...When we were torn away from you for a short time..., out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul did, again and again—but Satan stopped us" (I Thessalonians 2:17,18 NIV).

Consider Paul's second missionary journey. "Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us'" (Acts 16:6-9).

The point to note is that although the apostles did at times receive special guidance as to what they were to do, more often they were not given such special guidance but were required to walk by faith rather than sight. If it was so with them, why should it not be so with us? As G. R. Harding Wood put it, "We do not find the plan and then follow; rather we follow and thus find" [Through the Bible Day By Day: St. Matthew To Acts, p. 223].

Fear of failure can also lurk behind the words, "I don't want to get ahead of the Lord." While it's true that one can run ahead of God (as Moses did when he killed the Egyptian for beating a Hebrew slave [Exodus 2:11-15]), the Bible also warns about lagging behind the Lord (as Moses did when God sent him to Pharaoh and he made excuses until "the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses" and he obeyed [Exodus 3:1-4:20].

Jeremiah also tried to lag behind God's will. God told him, "I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations" (Jeremiah 1:5). Jeremiah's response? "Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child" (Jeremiah 1:6). God was not impressed! "But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak" (Jeremiah 1:7). Then God put His finger on the real problem: "Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 1:8 emphasis mine).

Meditate on the story of Gideon, asking God to show you whether or not your heart is like his. God gives Gideon a clear command: "Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee" (Judges 6:14)? Gideon is afraid and protests the weakness of his clan (Judges 6:15). The Lord replies, "I will be with thee"—surely He is enough (Judges 6:16)! Not satisfied with God's Word, Gideon asks for a sign. God graciously gives it (Judges 6:17-24). God tells him to throw down the altar of Baal, but, still fearful, he does so by night. He is discovered and protected (Judges 7:15-35). Still afraid to do God's will, Gideon asks for another sign (Judges 6:36-38) and another (Judges 6:39-40)! While God mercifully grants his requests, such dallying to obey was a sign of weak faith—a faith which God later tested that it might be strengthened (Judges 7:1-8). As William Lyon Phelps says of Gideon: "I cannot regard him as a hero; he took no chances" [Human Nature in the Bible, p. 86].

Has God given us clear direction? Consider: "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted" (Galatians 6:1). "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins" (James 5:19,20). "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy" (Psalm 107:2).

Has God been at work in your life setting you free? If so, you have your marching orders! Will you obey?

--John J.

GOOD IDEA!

I wanted to share with you a new idea we are currently using in our group. We felt the need for more recognition of members who are free from sexually acting out. We purchased coins from AA. They are very generic. They have the serenity prayer on one side and a triangle on the other that has a great message: "Unity, Service and Recovery. To Thine Own Self Be True." They come in colors, depending upon how long a person has been "sober." We use it as being free from acting out with a same-sex person. They come from 24 hours to l month, 2,3,4,5,6,7,8, 9,10,11, and one year. Then they go 1,2,3, etc. years.

One of our members got his two-year coin. I received my sixteen-year coin. They are bronze. We have a little ceremony. They get to keep each one, but if they fall, they must surrender the ones they have and start over again at 24 hours. Our hope is that this will be an additional incentive to remain free.

The coins are really nice! Maybe others would like to follow suit.

--Elton M.

POINTS TO PONDER

“The place of suffering in service and of passion in mission is hardly ever taught today. But the greatest single secret of evangelistic or missionary effectiveness is the willingness to suffer and die. It may be a death to popularity (by faithfully preaching the unpopular biblical gospel), or to pride (by the use of modest methods in reliance on the Holy Spirit), or to racial and national prejudice (by identification with another culture), or to material comfort (by adopting a simple lifestyle). But the servant must suffer if he is to bring light to the nations, and the seed must die if it is to multiply.” [John R. W. Stott, The Cross of Christ, p. 322]

“It seems to me clear that the best way to help people concerning religion today is not only to present convincing objective reasons to their minds, but also to show them pictures of those who are finding rich spiritual experiences, pictures which will rather fire their imaginations than persuade their minds.” [Samuel M. Shoemaker, Twice-Born Ministers, p. 9]

“Nothing will or can restore order till our hearts make the great decision: God shall be exalted above all else.” [A. W. Tozer in Inspiring Quotations: Contemporary & Classical, p. 152]

PEACE!

I recently corresponded with a gay man who had written that change was impossible. I wanted to help him, to give him hope, so I wrote:

"I will share with you a different story. I suffered most of my life with the homosexual struggle. I knew in my heart or hearts that this was not the right pathway for me. Over the years I became very aware of all the heartache that occurs in the gay community. The jealousy, the unfaithfulness, the loss of mates, the promiscuity that occurs all the time combined, therefore, with depression, alcohol, and suicide convinced me even more that I did not want to stay there!

"I sought spiritual counsel that assisted me in forgiving myself for the failures in my life. I was such a perfectionist—out of my own feelings of inadequacy. I became educated about the causes of homosexuality. I sought the counsel of a psychologist who believed it was possible to change ones orientation. Difficult to change? Yes!

"I learned to view myself differently. I learned my faulty thinking patterns that had created an ambivalence in my desires. I eventually learned to be a MAN among MEN. Then I could learn to be a MAN among WOMEN.

"Today there is such a peace deep within myself. I finally know who I am!! Ever tempted toward homosexuality? Yes. That's when I drop back into the old patterns of thinking. I have learned how to change those patterns and overcome temptation. No human being is free from temptation, no matter what their orientation. To believe we can, in this life, never again be tempted is unrealistic. We just have to learn how to deal effectively with our temptations no matter what they are.

"I found my God to be real in Christ Jesus, His Son. I have found myself to be a 'whole' person from the inside out! No longer driven by the old desires. The compulsions are gone. The faulty thinking has changed. Praise God!

"I don't sit in judgment of those who cannot believe they can change. I do hope for them that they come to realize they can change.

"In respect of your beliefs,

(Name)."

I wish I could say the outcome was positive. The response was to angrily accuse me of "regurgitating anti-gay propaganda" and "willful misrepresentation". It's not "nice" being called a liar, but it doesn't change a thing. I, for once in my life, know WHO I AM. That's all that is important.

Have you found the joy and peace that comes from rediscovering your true identity? Are you working toward it?

-Elton M.

A GOOD BEGINNING

Beginning something new is never easy! Laying a good foundation is vitally important!

For me, the call to work with others caught in the homosexual struggle began almost two years before I actually began to reach out to others. There were things I needed to do to find healing within my own soul before I could effectively reach out to others. I had enjoyed a place of leadership and trust and when I failed and was exposed, I was devastated spiritually and emotionally. I needed to forgive myself for failure before I could help others.

The training conducted by HAFS was very important. I was greatly helped by the instruction given and by the association with others who were seeking freedom. The Policy and Advisory Manual gave much good advice which it was important to follow.

In the beginning, I had to take care of the expenses of the chapter myself. Since I could not use my home phone for the chapter, another telephone line had to be installed. Articles were written for newspapers and radio announcements were made. Letters had to be written to the clergy, psychologists, and social service agencies who did counseling. I also registered with the United Way's Information and Referral. They send information to agencies in the community and refer persons who might call them for help. Talking with them also gave me several leads to new sources of information. I placed an ad in the classified section of the newspaper which, though costly, reached several persons.

It was important for me to contact close friends who would be there for me in prayer and with encouragement. I felt I could trust six people with my story and they all were there for me. I can't tell you how helpful it was to be able to call them for prayer when I was trying to help a suicidal person.

This first step of openness helped me overcome my fears of people knowing about my part in this ministry and my past life. After more than a year, I have permitted certain others to know my story and this has opened the doors to more referrals to the group.

While I can't overemphasize the importance of prayer and trusting God in this work, you can't sit back and say, "God, send them in." Very often, God replies, "Go, do something!" My experience has been that it is a happy combination of prayer and work that gets a chapter going.

As I have come to know one man in particular in the chapter, he has introduced me to other "gays" he knows. While most of them are not ready to change now, who knows what may happen in the future? If someone is not willing to change, I'm still here for them when they are ready!

There are temptations, but I'm learning to face my fears! I was even more tempted when I wasn't trying to help others, and I'm finding it easier to face temptations now that others know about my struggle. God is there for me, the HA chapter is there for me, and my friends are there for me! What I've had to give in terms of time and money has been more than repaid in the emotional support I now receive and the deep joy I find in helping my fellow-strugglers!

--Elton M.

HOW YOU CAN SEE THAT HA CLOSES!

Someone recently told me of a ministry to help men and women find freedom from homosexuality that just closed. The man who led the ministry retired, and no one else was willing to take his place.

That got me thinking! Could this happen to HA? The more I pondered, the more I realized it could, and that the fate of this movement does not lie mainly with me, or with HA’s Board, but with each of you!

If we want this ministry to continue and to prosper for each of us and for others, there are things each of us must do, but if we want HA to close, here’s how to do it.

Don’t pray!

The Bible says, “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it” (Psalm 127:1a). “Ye have not because ye ask not” (James 4:2b). “Call unto me and I will answer thee and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:3) “exceedlingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). If you want HA to close, avoid the throne of grace. If you want it to prosper, pray!

Pray for those who spearhead your chapter. Their work is difficult and often discouraging. They receive no tangible reward for their labors. They receive no money for their work, but do it because they love Christ and because they love you. Surely it is not too much to ask that you express your love for them by asking God every day to bless them and their efforts.

Pray for the person God wants to be our new staff worker. Ask God to make His will clear to them and to enable them to say, “I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19).

Pray for HA’s Service Coordinator and those who work with him as volunteers. There is always more to do than we can get done and we feel the weight of the work greatly. We need God’s encouragement, wisdom and strength.

Pray for HA’s Board. These godly men and women have a real heart for strugglers and want to see you helped. Pray that God will enable them to make the time needed to help direct the ministry, raise funds, and find the new staff person we are seeking.

What is the future of HA? Much depends on whether or not you pray for the work.

Don’t give!

The blessings you or those you love receive from HA cost money as well as sweat. The landlord wants his rent for our office. The printer wants to be paid for the newsletter and other literature we make available. The Postal Department wants us to pay postage for the information we send out. The phone company wants to be paid for the use of the telephone. Our book supplier wants us to pay for the books we order. Whenever we travel, the gas station wants to be paid for our fuel and the bus company, train, or airline wants to be paid for the ticket. Our staff, who write the literature, answer the phones, provide the encouragement, write the checks, speak for the ministry, organize and work in the conferences and seminars, needs a salary to eat and clothe themselves and pay their rent. So it goes, on and on.

Where does that money come from? HA gets no government funds. The main source of our funding is the donations of those we serve. That is, according to the Bible, as it should be. “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor” (Galatians 6:6 NIV).

Unfortunately, many more receive than share. As this article is being written, it seems certain that, for the second time in fifteen years, we will end the year having had to spend several thousand dollars more than we received.

Many of you have been wonderfully faithful and we thank you. Still, a fair number of you gave little or nothing to support this ministry last year. To ask that we make bricks without straw is to ask what certainly cannot be done well and often can’t be done at all!

What is the future of HA? Much depends on whether or not you give to the work.

Don’t Attend!

Another way you can help close HA it to be irregular in your attendance at meetings.

When you aren’t faithful about attending chapter meetings, you discourage those who spearhead the chapter, leading them to feel they are failing and their efforts aren’t appreciated. You discourage newcomers, who are likely to think there is no reason to attend a group which others do not value, and will follow your example. You rob those who are new to the group of your experience, strength, and hope and thus retard or perhaps sabotage their recovery. You also slow or perhaps stall your own recovery which can be helped by a strong chapter. That help, however, is diluted the weaker your chapter grows.

When you don’t attend HA seminars you rob yourself of information that will speed your recovery and strengthen your chapter.

When you fail to attend the HA Conference you rob yourself of great fellowship with other strugglers from whom you can learn much. You also slow the forming of a strong fellowship on which your recovery and the recovery of so many others is dependent.

What is the future of HA? You cast your vote for closing it when you attend only when convenient. You cast your vote for its continuance and growth when you are faithful to attend.

Don’t Work!

Many Twelve-Step groups have a saying: “It works, if you work it!”

HA exists to fulfill a goal: to serve Jesus Christ by helping men and women who desire freedom from homosexuality find it. The key work is “helping.”

Too many who come to HA do not think of the fellowship as their “helper” but as the “doer” of their recovery. Their attitude is, “I’m here. Fix me while I passively wait to recover!” It doesn’t work, because they don’t work!

Many people never get the HA Workbook, Lord, Set Me Free and the accompanying readings that go with it, Experience, Strength and Hope. Or, if they get these books, they do not try to do a question every day in the workbook, read the assigned material in Experience, Strength and Hope, and pray over and journal what they have learned.

Many who get the books and do the reading, praying, and journaling never get a step-coach, indulging their defensive detachment instead of realizing it must be undone if they are to recover, and battling it with all their might by developing a healthy friendship with another recovering person. Their unmet, same-sex, parent-child needs don’t get met and their struggle drags on interminably until they give up in despair.

Others get their books, fill in the blanks, do the reading and journaling, and get a step coach, but they don’t do the assignments at the end of each chapter in the workbook titled How You Can Work Step__. Those assignments are the heart of both your own personal recovery and the center of a healthy, effective relationship with your step-coach. To neglect them is to sabotage your recovery and to discourage your step-coach. Be faithful to do them and prosper. Neglect them and fail!

HA has always acknowledged that we are not the “whole ball of wax.” For some, the help we offer is all they need. For others whose wounds are more painful and whose problems are deeper, additional help such as professional counseling is necessary. Here again many fail to persevere and get whatever help is needed. As in medicine, a general practitioner can treat some ailments; a specialist is needed for others. The person who really wants to get well gets whatever help is needed and keeps at it till he finds whatever is necessary to be whole.

What is the future of HA? Much depends on whether or not you are faithful to work all of your program until you find the freedom you seek. This is a partnership. If both partners do their part, the result is joyful success and continued prosperity. If either fails to fulfill his or her responsibilities, the result is disaster, failure, and grief.

Don’t share

Finally, you can help close HA refusing to do what Step 14 calls on you to do—to carry the message!

There are a number of ways you can bless HA and others by carrying the message. Some are gifted writers and can share the blessings God has showered on them by writing for the Newsletter. Others are gifted in relating to others and can reach out to new members to help them as a step-coach. Others can speak in public and share their story with friends or in their church. Others are organizers and can help start new HA chapters where. Others are gifted teachers and can spearhead auxiliary meetings where recovering persons can read and discuss books that will help them along the way. Some are socially gifted and can arrange for outings for the chapter that will draw people in. Others can see that advertisements for their local chapter are placed in the local paper or that your local radio station has public service announcements they can run (samples of both are in the HA Policy and Advisory Manual). Others, who are well on the road to recovery can (being sure to remain honest and accountable) share with those they knew while they both were active in homo-sexuality (word-of-mouth is the best advertising), letting them know that they have options and encouraging them to find the glorious liberty that is open to them in Christ Jesus.

All this will help more and more people find recovery and strengthen the local chapter while providing a pool of people who are finding freedom to encourage others to seek it! A friend of mine went to Sexaholics Anonymous in our area for his heterosexual struggles and told me that seventy people came to their meetings over one year but that at the end of the year only ten were still coming. You will likely have a similar experience so getting the word out is vital.

What is the future of HA? Will we thrive or will we close? It’s up to you. If you say, “Someone else will do it,” you threaten the future of this organization. If you do your part, you assure HA will thrive and Christ will be magnified!

--John J.

POINTS TO PONDER

“I don’t know anyone who would build a summer home at the base of Mount Vesuvius... No family I know is interested in....swimming in the Amazon near a school of piranhas.... I mean some things make no sense at all. Like lighting a match to see if your gas tank is empty. Or stroking a rhino to see if he’s tame....

“And yet there are Christians running loose today who flirt with risks far greater than any of the above. And they do so with such calm faces you’d swear they had ice water in their veins. You’d never guess they are balancing on the tightwire of disaster without a net.

“Who are they? They are the ones who rewrite the Bible to accommodate their lifestyle. We’ve all met them. Outwardly they appear to be your basic believer, but....they are experts at rephrasing or explaining away the painful truth of texts.

“Here is a sampling of Accommodating theology:

God wants me happy. I can’t be happy married to her. So I’m leaving—and I know He will understand.’

There was a time when this might have been considered immoral. But not today. The Lord gave me the desire and wants me to enjoy it.... What’s grace all about, anyway?

Hey, life’s too short to sweat the small stuff. We’re not under Law, you know.’

“Whenever they run across Scripture verses or principles that attack their position, they alter them to accommodate their practice. That way, two things occur: (1) all desires (no matter how wrong) are fulfilled, and (2) all guilt (no matter how justified) is erased.

“That way everybody can do his own thing and nobody has any reason to question another’s actions. If he does, call him a legalist and plow right on....

“The consequences of sin do not come immediately—but they will come eventually. And when they do, there will be no excuses, no rationalization, no accommodation.” [Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart And 1,501 Other Stories, p. 569-570]

DISCOURAGED?

Are those of you leading HA chapters ever attacked by discouragement? Don't be surprised. Satan also used that weapon on the Israelites when they returned from captivity and tried to rebuild the temple. They tried, but what they built seemed pitiful and they were discouraged. God said, "Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? But now be strong...declares the Lord, and work. For I am with you, declares the Lord Almighty" (Haggai 2:3,4 NIV).

God uses what seem to us to be small things to do great works. Consider Elmer Bendiner, in his book The Fall of Fortresses, recalling "his B-17 taking a direct hit from anti-aircraft fire over Kassel, Germany, during World War II. A 20-mm. shell pierced one of the gas tanks, but the crew didn't know this till they returned safely to base. No one could explain why the shell had not exploded disastrously. Then it was discovered that not one, but eleven shells were in the gas tank. None had exploded. The mystery was explained...when armorers discovered that none of the shells had any explosive in them. Instead, in one was found a tightly-rolled message written in Czech. ...Translated, it read: 'This is all we can do for you now.' It had been placed there by a forced-laborer who had done what he could to save Allied airmen" [Don Chilholm, "Do What You Can," Pulpit Helps, (November 1999), p. 5].

The Czech thought he was doing very little, but do you think the men whose lives he saved thought that? Remember, if you are only used to save one person from the spiritual, emotional, and all too often physical death that homosexual addiction brings, you have not done a small thing but a great one. "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins (James 5:19,20)! Keep on! "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Galatians 6:9). You have God's Word on it!

--John J.

POINTS TO PONDER

A homosexual acquaintance named Alec [his name was changed at the request of his widow after his death from AIDS] was trying to seduce Timothy J. Dailey when he was a student at Moody Bible Institute. When Daily objected, Alec tried to frame “my moral objection to homosexuality in terms of a narrow-minded refusal to ‘love’ men in the same way as women: ‘Do you really want to limit who you love by excluding half the human race?’... ‘Alec,’ I replied, ‘I intend to exclude “loving” the entire human race—except for my wife.’” [Timothy J. Dailey, Dark Obsession: The Tragedy and Threat of the Homosexual Lifestyle, p. 31]

“...There is a huge difference between a sober alcoholic and a dry drunk. A dry drunk is someone who is addicted to alcohol but who has stopped drinking. If alcohol were the problem, then the dry drunk would have solved the problem. But, of course, alcohol is not the problem—not even for the alcoholic. The things that need to be changed are much deeper and more complex than merely bringing drinking to an end. Abstaining from drinking may have little effect on the insanity, the defects of character and the shortcomings that need attention.” [Dale S. Ryan, “Theology and Recovery,” Steps, (Vol. 12, No. 1), p. 4]

RELAPSES!

C. S. Lewis said, "We need intimate knowledge of the past. Not that the past has any magic about it, but because we cannot study the future, and yet need something to set against the present, to remind us that the basic assumptions have been quite different in different periods and that much which seems certain to the uneducated is merely temporary fashion. A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village: the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age" [The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, p. 28-29].

Consider this bit of history from Alcoholics Anonymous. In the early years of A.A., the Boston group became the "nucleus from which so much of A.A. in New England later stemmed.... Its founder could never get sober himself and he finally died of alcoholism. Paddy was just too sick to make it. Slip followed slip, but he came back each time to carry A.A.'s message, at which he was amazingly successful. Time after time the group nursed him back to life. Then came the last bender, and that was it. This very sick man left behind him a great group and a triple-A rating for valor." [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age: A Brief History of A.A., p. 96]

There are several things we can learn from this bit of history:

1. Relapses can occur.

This should be no surprise to one who reads, "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:42) or "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12).

Experts on addiction Terence T. Gorski and Merlene Miller warn, "Without an active and continuous program of growth and development, most of us would fall back into our old patterns of addictive thinking, emotional mismanagement, and self-defeating behavior" [Passages Through Recovery: An Action Plan for Preventing Relapse, p. 134].

This does not mean that the painful struggles of early recovery don't diminish. It gets better! People do find freedom from homosexuality. It does mean that freedom from sin is not freedom from all temptation (think of our Lord), that it is unwise to think one is invulnerable, and that freedom must be maintained by following the Bible's program of building ever more intimate, open, and honest relationships with God and others. Only thus can relapse be certainly avoided.

2. Relapses do not mean there is no hope!

If we only had Paddy's story we might assume alcoholism was a hopeless condition. But there are literally thousands of alcoholics who have recovered.

"Most people assume that relapse is a sign that treatment has failed. But we think that's a simplistic view. An alcoholic or addict who relapses may eventually—perhaps quite soon—give up alcohol and drugs again. Many of the counselors working in treatment programs around the nation would at one point have qualified as 'treatment failures'... They, like many of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, suffered one or more relapses during the struggle for sobriety" [Ronald L. Rogers and Chandler Scott McMillin, Relapse Traps, p. 13].

I remember pleading for two hours with one young man who decided to return to homosexuality. He still relapsed and continued in a homosexual relationship for several months. Realizing he had taken a wrong turn, he came back, worked his program, and is now married and the father of two children [Read Once Gay... Always Gay??? for scientific confirmations of recovery].

Dr. Arthur Freeman and Rose DeWolf write, "To move forward, you have to challenge the idea that what has happened in the past controls your future" [Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda: Overcoming Regrets, Mistakes, and Missed Opportunities, p. 86].

"...You cannot ignore what has gone before, but that doesn't mean it should forever stand in the way of your future" (Ibid., p. 34).

You have a better chance this time. You have learned more about your vulnerabilities and the struggle, and, as time goes on more is learned about how to find freedom. "In 1935 the relapse rate among treated alcoholics was 98%. Only 2% of the treated alcoholics managed to recover by maintaining abstinence. In the early 1970s forty to sixty percent of all treated alcoholics recovered. The dramatic improvement in recovery rates came directly from a more accurate understanding of alcoholism...and the application of this understanding to clinical practice" [Gorski and Miller, op. cit., p. 221]. So take heart! Try again! [For help, read Turning Loss into Profit!]

3. Relapses can be fatal!

"Relapse does...correlate strongly with danger and death. ...Alcoholics, Narcotics, and Cocaine Anonymous are replete with stories of people who 'fell off the wagon' only to pay the ultimate price: that of life itself. Their deaths prove that relapse should be seen as a learning experience of the most dangerous sort" [Rogers and McMillin, op. cit., p. 16].

The Bible warns, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Galatians 6:7-9).

4. "Be not highminded, but fear."

These words (Romans 11:20) warn Gentiles who were enjoying the grace of God against the sin of pride as they saw Jews missing it. Not arrogance, but reverence, Paul commands!

That was A.A.'s attitude in the case of Paddy. While grieving over his lapses, A.A. sought to nurse "him back to life". When he died as a result of "the last bender", they remembered his contributions and courage while sorrowing that alcoholism had been too much for him.

Let us also remember the difficulty of overcoming any sexual addiction. "The most powerful force in the physical world is not the nuclear bomb—but sex! Addictions to alcohol and cocaine may be major problems for our age, but they pale into insignificance when compared with the ravages of sex gone wrong" [Dr. Archibald D. Hart, Healing Life's Hidden Addictions, p. 145].

Let the spirit AA demonstrated always be a part of our fellowship! Let us never imagine that we have overcome in our own strength, thinking we are righteous, and despising others, praying with ourselves, "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men..." (Luke 18:9,11), but let us say from our hearts, "I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set me feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord" (Psalm 40:1-3).

--John J.

POINTS TO PONDER

“When sin tempts—when there hangs before a man the golden fruit which he knows he ought not to touch—then, amidst the noise of passion or the sophistry of desire, conscience is silenced for a little while. No man sins without knowing that it is wrong, without knowing that in the long run it is a mistake; but at the instant, in the delirium of yielding...he is blind and deaf, deaf to the voice of reason, blind to the sight of consequences.... Like a mad bull, the man that is tempted lowers his head and shuts his eyes, and rushes right on. The moment that the sin is done, that moment the passion or desire which tempted to it is satiated....it turns to loathing. The tempter draws us to him, and then unveils the horrid face that lies beneath the mask.... There is no sin which is not the purchase of pleasure at the price of peace.... I grant you...that it is quite possible for men to sin away the delicacy and susceptibility of their conscience.... But....the silence of a seared conscience is not peace.... It is easy to kill a conscience—after a fashion at least. It is easy to stifle it. It is easy to come to that depth of wrongdoing that one gets used to it, and does it without caring. But oh! that cold vacuum, that dead absent in such a spirit of all healthy self-communing, that painful suspicion, ‘If I look into myself, and be quiet for a little while, and take stock of my own character, and see what I am, the balance will be on the wrong side,’—that is not peace.... ‘The game is not worth the candle,’ according to the French proverb. The thing that you buy is not worth the price you pay for it. Sin....is like the apples of Sodom, fair to look upon, but turning to acrid ashes on the unwary lips.” [Alexander Maclaren, “Second Samuel and the Books of Kings to Second Kings VII, (Expositions of Holy Scripture II, p. 287-290]

Dr. Ed Payne, commenting on the fact that three-fourths of all cases of AIDS are traceable to homosexuality and/or drug abuse, stated, "The 'fueling' of the epidemic is dependent upon the behaviors that spread it. There is no AIDS epidemic. There is only an epidemic of the behaviors that are deadly within themselves." [Biblical Reflections of Modern Medicine, (May 1995) quoted in Current Thoughts & Trends, (August 1995), p. 28]

“We need to love our neighbor, not just because he is pleasant or helpful or rich or influential, or even because he shows us gratitude. These motives are too self-serving... Genuine love rises above creatures and soars up to God. In him, by him, and through him it loves all men, both good and wicked, friends and enemies.” [Maximilian Kolbe in an article on spiritual combat, 1924, in The Quotable Saint, p. 161]

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--------, “Luke,” 2 volumes, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, n.d.)

--------, Old Paths, (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1878)

Satinover, Jeffrey, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996)

Savage, Elayne, Don’t Take It Personally! The Art of Dealing with Rejection, (Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 1997)

Schaff, Anne Wilson, Escape From Intimacy, (San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1989)

Scroggie, W. Graham, “The Gospel of Mark,” The Study Hour Series, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976)

Seamands, David, Putting Away Childish Things, (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1982)

Seligman, Martin E. P., What You Can Change & What You Can't: The Complete Guide to Successful Self-Improvement, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994)

Sell, Charles, Unfinished Business: Helping Adult Children Resolve Their Past, (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Press, 1989)

Sex and the Supremacy of Christ edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005)

Shelley, Marshall, Well-Intentioned Dragons: Ministering to Problem People in the Church, (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1985)

Shilts, Randy, And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987)

Shoemaker, Samuel M., National Awakening, (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1936)

--------, Twice-Born Ministers, (New York: Fleming H. Revell Publishing Company, 1929)

Simpson, A. B., When the Comforter Came, (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1991)

Simpson’s Contemporary Quotations: The Most Notable Quotes from 1950 to the Present edited by James B. Simpson, (New York: HarperCollings Publishers, 1997)

Smith, Jr., R. F., Sit Down, God...I'm Angry, (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1997)

Speaker’s Treasury of Political Stories, Anecdotes, and Humor edited by Gerald Tomlinson, (New York: MJF Books, 1990)

Spurgeon, Charles Haddon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, [57 volumes), London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1861-1917)

--------, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, n.d.)

Stanley, Charles, Our Unmet Needs, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999)

Stewart, James S., A Man in Christ: The Vital Elements of St. Paul's Religion, (New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, n.d.)

Stott, John R. W., Basic Christian Leadership, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002)

--------, Christian Basics, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991)

--------, Evangelical Essentials, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989)

--------, Evangelical Truth: A Personal Plea for Unity, Integrity & Faithfulness, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999)

--------, Guard the Truth, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996)

--------, “Romans: God’s Good News for the World,” The Bible Speaks Today, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994)

--------, Same-Sex Partnerships? (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 1998)

--------, The Authentic Jesus, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985)

--------, The Contemporary Christian, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992)

--------, The Cross of Christ, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986)

--------, “The Letters of John,” Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1988)

--------, “The Message of Galatians,” The Bible Speaks Today, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1968)

Strand, Robert, Love 101, (Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Press, 1993)

Stribling, Tom with Verne Becker, Love Broke Through, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990)

Strong, Augustus Hopkins, Systematic Theology, (Westwood, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1907),

Swartley, Willard M., Homosexuality: Biblical Interpretation and Moral Discernment, (Scottsdale, PA: Herald Press, 2003)

Swindoll, Charles R., Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life, (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1983)

--------, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart And 1,501 Other Stories, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1998)

Tada, Joni Eareckson, The God I Love: A Memoir, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003)

ten Boom, Corrie, Each New Day, (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 1977)

The Beacon Book of Quotations by Women compiled by Rosalie Maggio, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1992)

The Beauties of Ebenezer Erskine selected by Samuel McMillan, (Ross-Shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 1850)

The Best of Kin Hubbard edited by David S. Hawes, (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1984)

The Best of Barbara Johnson, (New York: Inspirational Press, 1996)

The Book of Unusual Quotations edited by Rudolf Flesch, (New York: Harper & Bros., 1957)

The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, 22 volumes, (London: James Nisbet & Co., 1872)

The Crisis of Homosexuality edited by J. Isamu Yamamoto, (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1990)

The Executive's Book of Quotations edited by Julia Vitullo-Martin and J. Robert Moskin, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994)

The Golden Treasury of Patristic Quotations compiled by I. D. E. Thomas, (Oklahoma City, OK: Hearthstone Publishing, 1996)

The Most Important Thing I Know compiled by Loren A. Adrain, (New York: MJF Books, 1997)

The New Bible Dictionary second edition, edited by J. D. Douglas, F. F. Bruce, J. I. Packer, H. Hillyer, D. Guthrie, A. R. Millard, and D. J. Wiseman, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1982)

The Oxford Book of Friendship
edited by D. J. Enright and David Rawlinson, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991)

The Oxford Book of Modern Quotations edited by Tony Augarde, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991)

The Quotable Saint: Words of Wisdom from Thomas Aquinas to Zita compiled by Rosemary Ellen Guiley, (New York: Facts on File, 2002)

The Speaker's Bible edited by Edward Hastings, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, n.d.)

The Truth About Homosexuality edited by John F. Harvey, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996)

The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, 10 volumes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1927-1932)

The Works of John Newton, 6 volumes, (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1824)

The Works of John Wesley XI, (Albany, OR: The SAGE Digital Library, 1995)

Thurman, Chris, If Christ Were Your Counselor, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993)

--------, The Lies We Believe: The #1 Cause of Our Unhappiness, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989)

Timeless Quotations on Peace of Mind compiled by John Cook, (Minneapolis: Fairview Press, 1997)

Torrey, R. A., Real Salvation and Whole-Hearted Service, (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1905)

--------, Revival Addresses, (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1908)

Tozer, A. W., Born After Midnight, (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1959)

--------, Of God and Men, (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1960)

--------, That Incredible Christian, (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1964)

--------, The Divine Conquest, (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1950)

--------, The Next Chapter After the Last, (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1987)

--------, The Pursuit of God, (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1948)

--------, The Root of the Righteous, (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1955)

Treasury of Women's Quotations, compiled by Carolyn Warner, (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1992)

20th Century Thoughts That Shaped the Church compiled by Vernon McLellan, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2000)

van den Aardweg, Gerard J. M., The Battle for Normality, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997)

VanEnglin, Charles, God’s Missionary People: Rethinking the Purpose of the Local Church, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991)

Warfield, Benjamin B., The Person & Work of the Holy Spirit, (Amityville, NY: Calvary Press, 1997)

Warren, Rick, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002)

Washton, Arnold and Nannette Stone-Washton, Step Zero: Getting To Recovery, (New York: Harper-Collins Publishers, 1991)

Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Dorset & Baber, 1983)

Welch, Edward T., Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave: Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2001)

Wetzel, Richard, Sexual Wisdom, (Ann Arbor, MI: Proctor Publications, LLC, 1998)

White, John, Changing on the Inside, (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 1991)

--------, Eros Defiled, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1977)

--------, Eros Redeemed: Breaking the Stranglehold of Sin, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993)

--------, God’s Pursuing Love: The Relentless Tenderness of God, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998)

White, Margaret, Aids and the Positive Alternative, (Hanks, UK: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1987)

Whitecross, John, The Shorter Catechism Illustrated, (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1828)

Whitehead, Neil and Briar, My Genes Made Me Do It! A Scientific Look as Sexual Orientation, (Lafayette, LA: Huntington House Publishers, 1999)

Whyte, Alexander, Bunyan Characters I, (Edinburgh: Oliphant Anderson and Ferrier, 1893)

--------, Lord, Teach Us To Pray, (New York: George H. Doran Company, n.d.)

--------, The Apostle Paul, (Edinburgh: Oliphant Anderson and Ferrier, 1903)

Wiersbe, Warren, Be Satisfied, (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor Books, 1990)

Williams, D. Charles, Forever a Father, Always a Son, (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1991)

Willingham, Russell, Breaking Free: Understanding Sexual Addiction & the Healing Power of Jesus, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999)

Wilson, Earl D., Counseling and Homosexuality, (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1988)

Winslow, Octavius, The Work of the Holy Spirit, (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1840)

Women Helping Women edited by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Carol Cornish, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1997)

Wood, G. R. Harding, Through the Bible Day By Day: St. Matthew to Acts, (London: Henry E.

Walter Ltd., 1956)

Wright, Elliott, Holy Company, (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1980)

Yancey, Philip, Church: Why Bother? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1998)

--------, True Confessions, (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Books, 1987)

You Can Say That Again compiled by R. E. O. White, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991)