Questions I'm Asked Most about Homosexuality
For over a decade I have worked in the specialized and somewhat controversial field of helping those desiring to overcome the control of homosexuality. It has proven to be quite a learning experience! My own story of recovery from sexual brokenness has been widely publicized, resulting in people contacting me from all over the world. I've discovered that regardless of the continent or culture, those seeking out understanding about homosexuality generally ask the same questions. Here are my responses to the questions I'm asked most on this subject. While far from the last word, and opinions are always subjective at best, it is still my hope that you will find this of interest and benefit.
1. Does Having Homosexual Fantasies Mean You Are Homosexual?
A homosexual is a person who has ONGOING erotic and romantic desire for, and sexual involvement with the same sex. To be 'gay' is more of a social (and political) statement, in which a homosexual person embraces a lifestyle and identity that is supportive of homosexuality. There are many people who do have homosexual feelings, but would not describe themselves as `gay'. There are people who have brief, experimental homosexual involvements, but that would not make them 'homosexuals'.
The presence of routine homosexual fantasies would probably indicate some degree of homosexual orientation, stronger for some, less so for others. Such fantasies need not automatically result in life-long homosexual involvement. There are many people who have never acted on their homosexual attractions. However, like any appetite, the more one 'feeds' the urge (through pornography, fantasy and masturbation), the stronger the urge becomes. This will increase the chances for homosexual involvement. Should this occur, many male homosexuals particularly demonstrate an ever-increasing pattern of sexual encounters.* It's a matter of cultivation and conditioning. As sexual involvement becomes routine to frequent, a pattern similar to an addiction emerges : A life centred around sex, and a loss of control resulting in the person taking big risks to reputation and health - yet never really finding the long term love and intimacy so deeply craved. It is a frustrating and typical cycle that can, however, be broken with courage, determination and support.
2. Are Homosexuals "Born" or "Made"?
Some homosexuals comfort themselves with the thought that their feelings could be biologically programmed within, beyond choice or any personal responsibility. Gay activists claim that homosexuals are born gay, and that homosexuality should therefore be viewed as normal and natural. Yet, others with a homosexual orientation feel trapped by such logic, fearing they are hopeless victims of a genetic fate they want no part of. Certainiy, people don't choose to develop homosexual feelings. But that does not mean one is born pre-programmed to be forever homosexual. We are not bio-robots. And we cannot ignore environmental influences and our reactions to such influences. Even if some types of homosexuality occur as a 'product' of nature, does that make it desirable or normal? Nature produces a host of biologically influenced conditions, such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, diabetes ... but we don't consider these `normal' just because they occur 'naturally'. So why is homosexuality given a different status? It is also worth noting that there are now some in the academic realm suggesting that adult sexual attraction to children could also be the product of an inherent biological influence. If proven true, would this mean we approve of sex between adults and children?
There are those who also believe that if homosexuality has a biological 'origin', then religious prohibitions against homosexual acts should be disregarded as irrelevant in the light of modern scientific discovery. Advocates of this thinking don't understand however, that when a religion declares certain human behaviors to be wrong, such as homosexual acts, it doesn't matter if there is a biological origin or not. In fact, such scientific discovery would only confirm what ancient religious writings already state: our present human condition is flawed, both biologically and psychologically. Religious writings make clear that humanity consequently struggles with many inherent and harmful weaknesses. Yet, it is also clear that we are intended to overcome and master our natural tendencies and weaknesses. rather than justifying and indulging them.
In spite of the many theories and even recent but in conclusive genetic and brain-related research, there is still no scientifically accepted evidence proving that homosexuals are "born gay". However, if science one day confirms a genetic or other hormonal bio-influence encouraging homosexual development, not all those involved in homosexuality would have this influence within them. And as has been clearly stated by genetic researchers, those with such a possible influence, would not be obligated to be homosexual. For example, some scientists believe that there are people born with bio-influences toward alcoholism, drug addiction, criminal behavior and even divorce. But does that mean such persons are required to become, and therefore remain addicts and criminals? Biology may influence, but it doesn't automatically justify every possible resulting behavior. Neither does it eliminate personal responsibility, will, conscience or our ability to choose whether we will control or be controlled by our weaknesses.
3. What Would Be Other Factors in Encouraging the Development of Homosexuality?
Science has yet to prove an absolute biological cause of all 10 types of homosexuality, (See "Homosexuality : Classification, Etiology and Treatment' pages 519-525, Baker's Encyclopedia of Psychology, Pub. 1985). However, there is data underscoring the view that some types of homosexuality are the result of problems in psychological development. Even though homosexuals may have differing backgrounds, many also have similar trends and patterns in their histories. For example in Singapore, of my homosexually oriented clients in 1991, 83% of the men and almost 70% of the women reported being victims of sexual abuse or molest, before the age of 12. Additionally, well over 90% reported the sense of being neglected or unloved in childhood especially by the parent of the same sex. 40% reported physical abuse. Another common trend in my clients, is an unfortunate history of being ridiculed and labelled 'homosexual" during their pre-teen and teen years. Labelling has tremendous power to damage and alter self image. Abuse and neglect don't necessarily result in homosexuality -- but such experiences are universally typical of many who have sexual identity and orientation problems. I agree with many professionals who view stereotypical homosexuality as a symptom of arrested emotional and gender identity development. Why? It is clear from experts in developmental psychology, before children grow into healthy, heterosexual maturity, they pass through necessary "pre-heterosexual" phases or stages. After babyhood, but before adolescence, we must satisfactorily navigate through a same-sex identification and bonding stage, (approximately between ages of 4-14 years). Accomplishing this security/identity building phase enables progress toward opposite sex relating.
The same-sex phase is very observable, especially in boys, who, at the time, are not particularly romantically or sexually inclined toward girls, but are very concerned with and involved in same-sex relationships. Before boys grow up into men who "risk" their egos in pursuit of the opposite sex, they must first be identified with, accepted and affirmed as "one of the guys", by the rest of the guys. Sadly, so often this has not been the case among our clients.
Modern psychoanalytical research has well documented that when healthy parent-child bonding does not occur in early childhood, a deficit or "hunger" for love and security is created. It is especially damaging when the child and parent of the same sex do not effectively bond (for what ever reasons). The child's identity and security in sender role will not properly develop. This in turn will affect -- perhaps even sabotage -- future relating with peers of both the same and opposite sex. In such cases, the child is often unable to conform to, or be comfortable with expected gender-role performance. This sense of 'difference' further alienates the child from engaging in satisfying relationships which should serve to solidify security and identity.
The resulting hunger for love and security is painful and the need for identity completion makes the child very vulnerable. A child in this situation is driven or compelled to compensate in some way for what is `missing'. Typically, the child emotionally detaches from the same-sex parent (abandons hope) and focuses onto the next perceived source of emotional and identity-securing nourishment: same sex peers. This pre-homosexual condition emerges as exaggerated yearnings toward the same sex: a desire to be wanted, cherished and protected (legitimate needs that the parental bond should have satisfied). Yet due to insecurity and a sense of inadequacy, here to, effective same sex bonding does not occur. The child is attracted to and admires, yet is fearful and envious of the same sex. Consequently, a same-sex fixation develops, resulting in arrested development toward heterosexuality, Eventually the exaggerated and symptomatic emotional dependence on the same sex becomes "sexualized" with the onset of puberty, or earlier if the child has been prematurely sexualized due to molest or imprinted exposure to pornography. (This dependence or fixation is not to be confused with typical and temporary teen infatuation.) In this example, this type of psychologically driven homosexuality is a faulty attempt to satisfy legitimate, non-sexual security and identity needs. While this simplified and general view does not represent every homosexual, it is true (based on client histories) for a majority of 'stereotypical' homosexuals. Ultimately, homosexuality is not so much about "love" or "sex". It's about need.
Understanding this, it is obvious then, that rejecting homosexual persons is a tragic mistake. Indeed, love, understanding and affirmation is what they need. Yet accepting and loving the homosexual person does not mean that we, in mistaken compassion, declare homosexuality to be "normal".
4. There Are Those Who Would Argue That Homosexuality Cannot Be Changed. Nor Should It Need To Be. What Do You Say?
After two decades of pro-gay influence in the American Psychoanalytic Association, the concept of offering treatment for those unhappy with their homosexual orientation has practically been abandoned. Until recently*, therapists of the last 25 years were given little training beyond encouraging their homosexually-oriented clients to embrace that orientation as the only realistic route to mental health and happier living. (Many of my clients have suffered greatly as a consequence of such counsel). The assumption is that homosexual orientation cannot be modified to any degree. And in the age of western political correctness, gay activists would add that such orientation should not need to be changed. Regardiess of one's life philosophy, the fact remains: not all who are homosexually-oriented want to be. They do not wish to be identified by, nor be driven by homosexual desires which distress them. Relinquishing themselves to such impulses will never be tolerable, due to moral convictions or quite simply an unwillingness to be homosexual for other reasons. Pro-homosexual activists and therapists do not speak for all who have a homosexual orientation.
Some pro-gay therapists insist it is unethical to offer treatment of homosexuality, declaring the condition to be incorrectable. Suggesting recovery as an option is not only a false hope, claim gay advocates, but is also offensive for daring to imply that homosexuality could somehow be less desirable than heterosexuality. Perhaps with good intentions, and to appear "progressive", many western therapists have unfortunately bought into this one- sided logic at the expense of those desiring and deserving professional treatment toward the goal of overcoming homosexuality.
Regardless of how defensive some are of the "goodness" and normalcy of homosexuality, there are many who have recovered -- or who are in recovery -- from this condition. I use the term "recovery", not "cure'. Recovery more accurately implies an open-ended and unfinished process that includes the element of relapse risk (even though for many, those risks are greatly minimized).
This is no different than for other life-controlling problems, such as alcoholism: some degree of relapse risk remains, but behavior and impulses do change, and life is improved -- though not perfected. The fact is, many therapists, particularly in America and Western Europe have grown weary with both pro-gay lobbying and one-sided 'give up and be gay" counsel offered to those with a homosexual orientation. There are well respected therapists and experts, in this field with recent and long-standing published works underscoring the truth that homosexually-oriented people can:
Even if for most, there could not be a complete elimination of possible homosexual attraction, the reduction and management of such feelings could be verv desirable and attainable as a vast improvement over a life formerly driven and limited by such impulses. Obviously, the only people who truly feel threatened and offended by the concept of recovery are western gay activists who are pushing for civil rights based on the racial premise of an inherent, unchangeable condition. Such activism has done much to prevent fairer presentation of the facts regarding recovery.
Because some degree of recovery from homosexuality is attainable for those with motivation and support, I and those professionals with whom I work believe it is unethical to fail to offer the option of treatment toward the goal of recovery, when desired. A therapist who may feel skeptical or ideologically opposed to the recovery option should at least be professional enough to provide an appropriate referral, rather than attempt to convince the client to embrace homosexuality as the only option.
5. There Are Critics of Your Efforts Who Say that People Who Attempt To Overcome Homosexuality Are Just "Martyrs", Repressing Their True Sexuality ... Or That People Who Did Change Were Never True Homosexuals To Begin With. And What About Those Who Tried To Change but Went Back to Homosexuality?
I'll answer the last point first. Regrettably, every recovery program has its "failure rate". There are those who begin the recovery journey and then decide it's not what they want ... or frankly, they decide it's too hard ... and it IS difficult in the beginning. Unfortunately, not only do clients sometimes fall back or give up -- but counselors, pastors, therapists and psychiatrists are also not immune to sexual desire. Many professionals have been victims of their own misunderstandings, passions and wrong choices. Tragically, when leaders and counselors have moral failures, especially in my specific field, this not only results in personal consequences, but also discredits recovery programs like our own.
Though sexual feelings are powerful, and for some of my clients, cultivated to the level of addiction, I find that the real problem isn't hormones or even desire for intimacy that unravels recovery. It's usually immaturity. This shows up in many ways : as in a lack of self control. Or in unrealistic expectations, where the client thinks that he should one day start lusting after the opposite sex to the degree that he did for the same sex. Or that he should have amnesia, as if his homosexual history never happened ...
Because our program has a religious foundation, many clients expect God to do all of this very quickly for their convenience. And when God does not, such clients become disillusioned and drop out. Some badmouth our program and the recovery effort in general. They say, "I tried". No doubt there are many hurt and embiftered homosexuals who did sincerely hope to change. But due to unrealistic expectations, and a lack of understanding about recovery, their hopes were not realized -- or not quickly enough. Any success in life is not only about sincerely trying, but is also about persevering. About 50 percent of our clients do temporarily fall back into homosexual acts in the first two years of the recovery effort. They are not condemned. They are encouraged to try again. Relapse is a reality for some in any type of recovery program. Many drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs have a very high failure rate, but that doesn't make such programs invalid. Neither does it mean that addiction can't be overcome. Some people take longer to get their lives together. Most of our clients eventually do break their sexual patterns, and grow beyond the control of homosexual impulses. That is when they discover that underneath 'what they do', are a host of unresolved issues explaining "why they do it'. Then the real work begins. Recovery isn't an event - it is a journey that does carry with it the risk of relapse. But for now, many homosexually oriented men and women have changed and are changing in ways they never before thought possible. (Statistically, clinical findings vary, revealing a sustained recovery rate between 33% to 60%. Many recovery programs like ours estimate about a 60 to 65% success rate.)
As for the argument that 'those who changed were never really "true gays", I imagine most of my clients would find this rationale laughable, and could ask, "what would one need to do to qualify as a true homosexual?" I've heard the argument before, and it goes on to imply that those who changed were really meant to be straight, and they were just confused and eventually the true preference emerged. Well, if this is so, then the gay underworld must be filled with many confused pseudo gays ... who should be straight and they just don't know it. Therefore, rather than criticize our efforts, gay advocates should encourage us to weed out the pseudo gays from the " real ones ".
Finally, most of my clients have strong moral and religious convictions. I agree with our critics that there are elements of repression and martyrdom in their recovery efforts. But is it that bad? For example, if someone insults me, I may feel like retaliating right back, and that impulse may be very strong, natural, and even satisfying if fulfilled. Yet, if I repress my natural human urge to retaliate, is this bad? A married man may teel attraction to a pretty female colleague at the office, but if, in deference to his wedding vows, wife and children, reputation and work, he represses his sexual instinct, is this wrong?
In both examples, natural, human impulse is restrained and submitted to a higher standard of behavior : self control instead of self indulgence. Living in a sex pre-occupied age where we are encouraged to scratch every itch, fill every appetite and indulge every whim and desire, the idea of self control, restraint, and self denial must seem like martyrdom indeed. My clients are denying themselves -- especially in the beginning of their growth away from the only way of living and loving they've ever known. But like all martyrs, they sacrifice willingly because they believe in something more important then self satisfaction. They view their self denial as an investment with an eventual payoff in compensation for their present sacrifice.
Perhaps, this willingness to sacrifice involves the concept of 'faith" or confidence in God. Employing "faith" has been proven universally to be a major ingredient for success in various recovery programs.
6. The Homosexual Issue Has Also Created Controversy in the Religious Arena. Some Say God Condemns Homosexuals. Others Say Homosexuality Is a Gift from God. What Is Your Opinion?
Many with a homosexual orientation are quite interested in matters of faith, particularly the Christian faith. This is due to the longstanding and global influence of the Judeo-Christian ethic regarding homosexuality. Based on my research of the Scriptures, combined with my exposure to pro-gay theology, and my study of many works by theological experts on the subject of sexuality and homosexuality, here are my conclusions.
Homosexual orientation is one of many weaknesses affecting humanity. Those with this orientation are NOT excluded from God's love, nor are they less of a person in His sight. Those wanting to enter religious service should be allowed to do so, provided they are not homosexually active, and they control, not cultivate their homosexual orientation. It is clear from Scripture that all who claim allegiance to Christ are required to obey God's general sexual standard: No sex outside of the covenant of heterosexual marriage. Why? For protection of self and others, as sex has the power of life and death. Additionally, those who follow the way of Christ have been purchased by God, and are not free to live in any manner they wish. They are to honor God and the creative/ destructive power of sex by keeping themselves sexually pure. Certainly, nowhere in Scripture can one substantiate the recent claims that God makes people gay, or that God blesses homosexual unions. (see 1 Corinthians 6:18-20) Homosexual acts however are destined as a violation of God's design and intent for sexuality as is all sex outside the heterosexual marriage covenant. The original languages of Scripture (and use in context) are not vague concerning this point. The New Testament has more specific comments than the Old Testament, but both units are in agreement in regarding homosexual acts as "sin", meaning 'to disobey", and 'missing God's intent". It is obvious from Scripture that sexual sin is pleasurable and can be emotionally satisfying. But ultimately, it is self defeating and can be self destructive. It is also clear from Scripture that forgiveness and reconciliation with God, and opportunity for a different life are available to all who will return to God, submitting to His standards. This is true for homosexuals, as is evident in the New Testament example of the church in Corinth : ex-adulterers, ex-prostitutes and ex-homosexuals were included as members of the church family. (See 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11.)
Typical to the "opinionated" and individualistic West, there are two clashing religious views about homosexuality : the fundamentalist view ('stone them') versus the liberal view ('no, ordain them"). The New Testament Scriptures address these extremes with balanced counsel: the harsh and judgmental are warned not to look upon homosexuals with contempt, unless they too wish to be judged as they judge. Yet, there is also a stern warning for those considering a more "accommodating" perspective: beware of those who would teach that God's favor and 'grace" allow for sex outside of the heterosexual marriage covenant. (See Romans 1 & 2 : 1-4 & Jude vs.4.)
As for Jesus, he did not specifically mention homosexuality. But then, he never mentioned incest, rape or bestiality for that matter. He probably had no need to address these concerns as they were clearly regarded as moral sin in his day. However, Jesus did uphold the Old Testament moral law which addressed homosexuality as sin (Jesus only did away with the ceremonial and symbolic aspects of the Old Testament Law ... but he made a clear point that the (moral) Law governing human relationships would remain). Jesus showed mercy to those guilty of violating moral law -- such as the woman caught in adultery. Yet He also commanded her to obey God with this second chance, and leave her life of sexual sin.
The Old and New Testaments provide examples from Hebrew and Aramaic cultures of same-sex relationships that were intense (Jonathan and . David), loyal and supportive (Ruth and Naomi), and affectionate (Jesus and the Disciple John). But, as the original languages especially make clear, these loving, same-sex bonds were not homosexual. To interpret them as such is to misunderstand ancient Hebrew culture and the fact that heterosexual people universally enjoy intimate, emotionally satisfying same-sex relationships without a hint of homosexual interest.
In conclusion, it is evident that our weaknesses, and honest, confessed struggles with sexuality, need not separate us from a loving, understanding God. In fact, scripture makes clear that such problems should instead, propel us to Him, for His comfort, assurance and help! The Scriptures inspire hope that our sexual problems are indeed understandable, forgiveable and correctable with God's help. Yet, scripture also warns that God will not exempt us from the often painful consequences of our disobedient choices. Neither will He settle for less than first place in our lives: Weakness may not offend Him. But to make one's lifestyle, relationships, or sexuality of more importance is offensive to the One who desires us to seek Him even more than we seek to please ourselves.
7. Would't Promiscuity among Homosexuals Decrease If "Being Gay", and Gay Weddings Were Socially Accepted?
Perhaps for some, but probably not for many, especially among gay males. According to research, gay males unlike lesbians, are much less likely to sustain faithfulness to a partner. This fact is not the result of intolerant societies. Rather, it is a reflection of the dynamics in the male-male union, and the underlying unmet needs driving the homosexual. A smaller percentage of "lifestyle' homosexual males do have lengthy and sometimes very stable, satisfying relationships. But many more unions are often admittedly "open" partnerships in which infidelity is considered an enhancement of the relationship. Some who argue for increasing acceptance claim that it will reduce the incidence of promiscuity common to the gay lifestyle. They say that an unaccepting society simply drives homosexuals into a shadowy, promiscuous "underground", but legitimizing and destigmatizing homosexuality would end this risky activity. Would it? In general, modern experience, sociological information, medical statistics and historical record reveal just the opposite: when society relaxes the sexual standards and becomes more permissive in attitude, then society becomes more promiscuous in behavior, not less so. As for social acceptance, "lifestyle" homosexuals are an influential subculture in many developed countries. Far from oppressed, they live openly in major urban areas around the world. In cities such as New York and San Francisco, they have "settled" entire city districts and have gay churches, gay clubs, gay businesses, gay dating services, gay theatres, gay parades, gay senior citizens groups, gay travel agencies and more. There are gay weddings. And homosexuals are acquiring the privilege of adopting children in some places. In spite of all this increased opportunity to live as outwardly as they wish, the pattern of promiscuity has not significantly changed. Even in the "progressive" and AIDS-conscious West, multiple anonymous sex encounters are still a way of life forthousands, with or without "protection". In spite of an accommodating culture, this behavior, so typical of many in the "lifestyle", is evidence of either extreme self indulgence, or destructive addiction. Will even greater social "approval" change it?
8. Does My Ministry Risk Encouraging Homophobia?
No. As a matter of fact, just the opposite. (In fact there are gay activists who recognize this.) As a child, teenager and adult, I routinely suffered verbal and physical abuse due to homophobic reactions to my alleged homosexuality. (I say "alleged" because those abusing me didn't know if I was truly homosexual or not. They "assumed".) I well understand the injustice many homosexually-oriented people suffer. I work hard to counter homophobic attitudes -- especially among religious groups, who are perceived as the least tolerant toward homosexuals. A major part of my ministry effort is spent in educational opportunities, wherein I seek to cultivate understanding, respect and compassion for those who are homosexually-oriented. And I've also been seeing many calloused, prejudiced attitudes change. I believe "loving thy neighbor", and "treating others as you would be treated" is not a compromise of Christian values. In fact, this command frees me to love, rather than be the judge. While incidents of injustice and intolerance still occur, it is also true, that as never before, people are more tolerant and accepting ot homosexual persons.
These days most people are tripping all over themselves to avoid being perceived as "discriminatory' and 'insensitive', especially with the advent of AIDS. Yet many gay activists, dissatisfied with even this, have broadened the definition of "homophobia'. Originally used to describe those with an irrational fear of homosexuals/homosexuality, (manifesting as hatred and violence against homosexuals), activists now include those who dare to disagree with pro-gay perspective and philosophy. Either you're completely pro-gay and therefore "enlightened and progressive", or they label you a backward, "bigoted homophobe". This polarization is unfortunate and untrue. Most people -- even the tolerant, accepting and liberal, still don't view homosexuality as the moral and relational equivalent of heterosexuality -- and probably never will. But that doesn't mean they therefore hate gays. It's not the "either-or" situation gay activists suggest. Most people will not see homosexuals as a legitimate racial minority, therefore entitled to complete minority rights. Propaganda campaigns in media won't change this either. In fact, there is an increasing weariness in the West with the strindent demands of the extreme activists who do not necessarily represent the vast spectrum of all homosexually-oriented people. (Recent research reveals that homosexuals represent about 1 to 2 percent of society ... not the previously quoted and incorrect 10% figure.)
9. How Do You Help People with Homosexual Problems?
First, people will have to want our help. Obviously, not all homosexuals want to change. Some view their condition as unchangeable and seek to make it a positive part of their lives. However, those contacting us have pretty much made up their minds: They want to change and they want help. Previously, most of our clients have attempted to live the "gay life" -- sometimes, doing so for several years. Ultimately, they were not satisfied and also admitted to a deep moral conflict within that would not go away no matter how much they tried to embrace a liberal, pro-homosexual viewpoint. In today's more permissive societies, people generally have the freedom to pursue their homosexuality if so desired. Yet those seeking to overcome a homosexual condition deserve our support in pursuing this option. To sum it up, recovery from homosexuality is about "growth". Quite literally those in recovery "grow beyond" their same sex fixation and "grow out of" their homosexuality. This growth, however, is a lengthy process -- lengthier for some than others. And for many, "recovery" will mean a lifetime commitment. Recovery programs like ours don't solve every problem. We don't claim to. Clients who participate in our program won't suddenly be transformed into lusting heterosexual stallions as if they had never been homosexual. Long after leaving our program they will still have to be responsible to effectively manage their lives and residual weaknesses. So what does our program offer? Simply put, we are only one ingredient in the recovery journey -- that's true for any recovery program. However, we do serve as a 'stepping stone" that can prove to be pivotal in a person establishing a different life forthemselves. We view the recovery process as a gradual progression to and through important goals. Some of these goals include:
Volumes of books have been written detailing "how" all this is accomplished, from both clinical and theological perspectives. Though we can't explain it all in this article, please refer to the books listed at the end.
While part of our program consists of insight-oriented teaching toward the goal of understanding and self management, it is through our weekly support group meetings that our clients find the encouragement needed to perservere and progress. Support groups have a proven track record as a temporary, helpful tool in assisting those overcoming many types of life-controlling problems -- including homosexuality. In fact 90% of agencies like ours employ such groups, in addition to consultation, counseling and referral services.
In a group setting, the client is both "accepted as is", and held "accountable" for behavior and growth. The recovery effort is a burden shared in a safe place among others who understand and are supportive of the client's values and goals regarding recovery.
While support groups can't "do it all", they can prove to be a wonderful oasis in the journey!
As the same-sex fixation is dealt with, as traumas are healed and needs are met, growth cannot help but occur. And with this growth, potential heterosexual development becomes a possibility. Eventually, our clients "outgrow" their season of depending on our program, and they more comfortably and honestly integrate into other general social support systems such as a church fellowship group. And their growth away from homosexuality continues!
Some ask if our group meetings provide a 'cruising' ground or temptation problem for our clients. Even though it seems risky to put people with a same-sex fixation into a same-sex recovery group, there really isn't the problem one might suspect. Why? First, we do screen those desiring to join our program. We spell out very clearly our group guidelines, which include our expectations of and instructions for clients should they find themselves `attracted to' or 'pursued by' a group member. Such attractions within the group will happen. They are proven to be temporary and need not result in a moral failure. (Actually, attractions within the group require our clients to come to terms with, interpret and then manage their same sex attractions.) Prior to group participation, our clients sign an agreement whereby they know that to have a sexual encounter with another group member will result in dismissal from our group program. In addition to this -- and perhaps most importantly of all, those in our support group are usually highly committed to recovery. They embrace moral values that are, for them, very motivating, or they wouldn't bother being involved in our program. Frankly, if someone wants to "go shopping" for a sexual partner, our group provides the least convenient opportunity to do so. While some clients do relapse in their recovery effort before they get their act together, moral failures within the group setting are extremely rare in my experience. In fact, the risk decreases as friendship bonds are established in the group.
Relearning ways of living, coping and relating are not easy. Understandably, overcoming homosexuality is a challenge many prefer not to face. Clinical studies conclude that those who do overcome the control of homosexuality need two ingredients for success: a tenacious and persevering motivation, and support of others who believe in their effort. We, at CHOICES offer part of the supportive network needed. We provide consultations, weekly support group meetings, and referrals to collaborating community professionals. We also conduct seminars and provide information and resources for those interested in knowing more about the recovery option.
The first half of my life was an emotional concentration camp: My alcoholic mother was killed in a car wreck when I was four. Prior to that, I was sexually molested by a family "friend". After my mum's death, I was separated from my father for a year. I lived in an emotional vacuum. My identity and security as a male was left unaffirmed and unnourished. Later in school, I was routinely ridiculed, rejected and physically abused due to my effeminate mannerisms. Even though I tried to "conform to the norm", I was continually labeled a homosexual and a failure as a man. It's no wonder I had problems. As a teenager, I had not yet identified myself as homosexual. Yet, I was certainly aware of my attractions to the same sex and I felt fear and shame. A few years later, when eventually involving myself in the gay scene, I felt such a sense of relief. I felt accepted and understood. At last, I had a place to belong. It was great for a while. Soon I was living in the fast lane, and always surrounding myself with others who would reaffirm and reinforce the gay life. When living in Hawaii, my two gay room-mates became husband and husband in that State's first non-official gay-male wedding in a pro-gay church. I was their "Best Man". Yet later, they would become the first to tell me that overcoming homosexuality was possible -- they had begun the effort themselves. They said God was helping them, and that they were praying for me. I laughed in contempt, thinking they were some kind of traitors.
My own journey out of the gay life first began with my attempt at securing male love by becoming a woman through a sex change. Though I did not get around to ever having the surgery, I was on hormone therapy and lived as a woman for about a year and a half. Yet, even then I realized that surgery couldn't really solve my problems and wouldn't secure love for me. Realizing that I hadn't managed my life very well on my own, I finally began sincerely seeking after God. It was my re-ignited faith in God that led me down a new path I once thought impossible for me. It wasn't that I was trying to stop being gay. I didn't know "how" -- or if it was possible. I was however, willing to stop living my life on my tents. Instead, I yielded to God on His terms. That was in January 1980.
At the time, my gay friends thought I was crazy. They said I'd be back in the bars in a week -- a month -- a year. I never went back. But it wasn't easy. I did have a lot of struggles in the beginning, but like most worthwhile efforts, perseverance paid off. Today I very much enjoy the opportunity to live beyond my past problems. I enjoy being a husband since l982, and a father. It isn't proof that I'm not gay, but it is evidence ofa life I never thought possible. My recovery process took time and work and the encouragement and accountability of my supportive friends. More importantly, my recovery depended on my willingness to co-operate with God. Over the years and around the globe, everyone that I personally know -- or know of -- that has overcome homosexuality has been enabled to do so as a direct consequence of a life yielded to God and committed to the way of Christ. Though I'll never live my life as if I had never been homosexual, I am able to live beyond having been homosexual. And I'm not unique. There are many thousands of ex-homosexuals, though most are not public about it. I've met many here in Singapore, and in Asia ... in fact, around the world!
Sy Rogers' dramatic story of overcoming homosexuality has been shared on 6 continents and in numerous publications and media interviews. He has hosted award-winning TV and Radio programs in the U.S., specifically dealing with recovery from sexually-related problems.
Sy has served as President of Exodus International, North America, part of the world-wide network of Christian agencies with outreach to the sexually broken. Sy has also been selected as one of the Outstanding Young Men of America, as well as Who's Who in Human Services Professionals.
Sy has served on the pastoral staff with Church of Our Saviour, Singapore.
He and his wife Karen have been married since 1982. They have one daughter.
More information about Sy Rogers is available at www.syrogers.com.
The following are only a few of the excellent books available regarding recovery from homosexuality, sexual abuse and sexual addiction. See the Resources section for more information about these.
Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach, by Dr Joseph Nicolosi. Jason Aronson Publisher.
Origins and Treatment of Homosexualky: A Psychoanalytic Reinterpretation, by Dr Gerard Van Den Aardweg / Praeger Publisher The Broken Image, by Leanne Payne / Crossway Books Publisher
Counseling and Homosexuality, by Dr. Earl D. Wilson / Word Publisher
Desires In Conflict, by Joe Dallas / Harvest House Publisher (Homosexuality & Lesbianism)
Pursuing Sexual Wholeness, by Andrew Comiskey / Creation House Publisher (Homosexuality & Lesbianism)
Out Of Egypt, by Jeanette Howard / Monarch Publisher (Specifically Lesbianism and Emotional Dependency)
False Intimacy, by Dr Harry W.Schaumburg / Navpress Publisher
The Wounded Heart, by Dr Dan Allendar / Navpress Publisher
Coming Out of Homosexuality, by Bob Davies and Lori Rentzel / Intervarsity Press Publishers
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