Control: The Last Stronghold of Lesbianism
By Alan and Willa Medinger

To move out from a lifetime of control and self-protection is an awesome thing for a woman who has been deeply hurt. It is only possible through the power of Jesus Christ, through His Spirit living in us.

I feel like a wounded animal, backed into a corner by her enemy and all I can do is to try and strike a frightening pose and make a fierce sound, hoping I can scare him away.” In one of many counseling sessions, the young lady was expressing, perhaps more clearly than ever, the feelings that had dominated her life and were such a major factor in her lesbianism.

This young woman did come out of lesbianism. She was set free and clearly is no longer that wounded animal desperately maintaining the front that will keep her safe.

Sadly, though, she is one of the exceptional few. It is no secret that ministries like Regeneration have had far less success in ministry to women than in ministry to men. Typically, a Christian woman struggling with lesbianism comes to us wanting to live a life that is obedient to the Lord. She wants to be free from sexual involvement and free from falling into highly dependent idolatrous relationships with other women.

By and large the women are successful in this. But there they stop. They feel they are free from the sinful behavior, and thus acceptable to God, but their healing goes no further. They are not what they used to be, but what are they?

Their relationships with both men and women still do not give evidence of the freedom that God wants for them. Although outwardly appearing to be strong and confident, inside they are are "scared rabbits" dealing with the threats that are all around them by always staying in control.

"As clay is in the hand of the potter, so are you in mine…” (Jeremiah 18:6)

The roots of this need to be in control are easily seen. They have been deeply hurt--usually by a man. A background of abuse--sexual, physical or emotional--has left them deeply wounded. Sometimes the one abused was their mother, who passively suffered at the hands of their father, and they developed a contempt for the feminine which they perceived as inherent weakness. Whatever the cause, the deep scars have left them determined to protect themselves at all costs--physically and emotionally.

That the source of their vulnerability goes back to relationships with men is not surprising. All women, because of man's greater physical strength and fallen nature, are potential victims of male control and domination. The ultimate expression of this is rape, but other forms of abuse are all around us. God foretold this in the curse on Eve: "...your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you" (Gen. 3:16). Our observation has been that at the root of most lesbianism lies a terrible wounding which has taken a fear that most women have, and expanded it to life dominating proportions. Safety is equated with control.

This spirit of control is most evident in the lesbian woman's relationship with men, but it carries over into relationships with other women. Most women who come to us reveal stories of highly controlling relationships. Manipulation, jealousy, co-dependency all seem to characterize these relationships.

The great emotional needs flowing out of such a woman's woundedness, may demand that she meet these needs by controlling another woman. This is not an unusual form of human behavior. Whenever a course of action, aimed at meeting a fundamental human need (security, affirmation, love, etc.), fails to provide a payoff, that action can become more and more compulsive.

This is one of the great central problems of all homosexuality, not just lesbianism. The need is so great, but knowing only one way to meet it, when that fails, we try harder and harder. In this a determination to maintain control is seen as the means to safety and security; to not being hurt again.

The need for control in the lesbian woman (and others) is often characterized by a rule of life that goes like this: "I must stay in control; no one else will help me; if I let go of control I will die." Sadly, in her earlier years there may have been many times when she did cry out for help and no one answered.

What is the answer here? How does a woman let go when she is certain that she can't let go?

First of all, as counselors, or as strugglers, we must truly accept the depth of the problem -- and believe that God does also. We are convinced that God, who sees their hearts and knows the depth of their fears, will not let them be devastated. He will not make them let go before they are able.

We see in Jesus a tenderness towards the deep vulnerability in women. His protection of the woman caught in adultery, His patience with and lack of judgment towards the woman at the well, His weeping at the tomb of Lazarus because He felt the sorrow of His beloved friends Mary and Martha, all of these show His love and tenderness towards women. This is the starting point on the road towards letting go for women; starting to get in touch with the heart of Jesus.

But Jesus is seen as a man. Although a Christian woman knows that He is a man free of sin and could never hurt or abuse her, in the depth of her wounded heart she may be a long time coming to accept this truth. Emotionally and psychologically there is great difficulty in trusting even Jesus. But He can overcome this. He has a wonderful patience that will just keep wooing her until she can begin to trust Him.

So this is the first step in becoming free from a controlling spirit: starting to nurture her relationship with Jesus, gradually seeking to see Him as her friend, her protector, even her husband. Focusing on His nature and not her own needs (as much as possible), she starts to trust at least that one man--Jesus.

It would seem logical that the next step would be to start transferring that trust to "safe" men, or perhaps even to women. Not so. This view of Jesus as the one who totally reliable, the faithful protector, can exist in the mind, and even in the heart, but it may not lead to a trust of others until one more thing happens. The spirit of control must die, or more correctly, she must let Jesus kill that thing. Using the term "spirit of control" we mean to convey either a real demonic presence, or a deeply embedded rule of life.

God will not ask her to kill that thing before she is ready. That readiness will come some time after she has such a relationship with Jesus that she will be able to see Him walking beside her into the night of her deepest fears.

This death, like all deaths will be a terrible one, particularly in the anticipation. The decision to let control die is to say to God, "If you want me to be hurt, I will be hurt. If you want me abused, I will be abused. If you want everyone to abandon me, I will be abandoned." The goodness and faithfulness of God will be all there is to rely on.

To die to control is to die to her own way of self-protection. There will be pain, and she may have to test God over and over again. But through her failures and God's faithfulness she will eventually know that her old way was simply a broken cistern that could hold no water. Jesus brings the living water.

Realizing that God was speaking to all mankind, consider His words in Jeremiah 17:5-8:

Thus says the Lord: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and he shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and it is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit."

To move out from a lifetime of control and self-protection is an awesome thing for a woman who has been deeply hurt. It is only possible through the power of Jesus Christ, through His Spirit living in us.

To die to control is a step that many will not take. In fact, two other things may need to happen before she can allow God to kill this particular spirit: there first may need to be a death to deception and rebellion. The next lines in Jeremiah say that, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt." (Jer. 17:9) There will be all kinds of rationalizations as to why the old ways of relating are okay, but ultimately they are not.

First, the old way is to put our trust in ourselves, and not God, and this is sinful at its very core. Second, a proper relationship with our Lord does not focus on what we do not do, but rather on our being who He wants us to be. In His righteousness--which could be translated His rightness--she is a woman, joyfully embracing her womanhood, able to relate to both men and women as a person with true freedom in Jesus Christ. He wants her to live in the reality of the truth that,

"...perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18). Seeking that is true obedience.

The second thing that she may need to die to before control can be surrendered to the Lord is rebellion. Some women will not even start to consider what is said here, or listen to what God is saying to them through other sources, because of a spirit of defiance or rebellion. She may be maintain that she would rather remain in the old prison than risk being hurt.

If that were all there is to it, that might be acceptable, but that is not all there is to it. God is calling her forth. Jesus is offering to be her protector. To say no to Him is to say no to His love, to love itself, for the heart that is totally self protective, cannot love. To say no to Him is to say no to life, to the life that He offers. It is the clay telling the potter what it will be. It is rebellion. It is a sin.

To move out from a lifetime of control and self-protection is an awesome thing for a woman who has been deeply hurt. It is only possible through the power of Jesus Christ, through His Spirit living in us. It may even defy the power of the natural woman. But we have God's faithfulness and His promises to take hold of. We read in Psalm 107:4-9:

"Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress; he led them to a straight way, till they reached a city to dwell in. Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love, for His wonderful works to the sons of men! For He satisfies him who is thirsty, and the hungry He fills with good things."

He will woo her until she can trust Him, and then He will call her forth to freedom and true womanhood, and He will give her a good place to dwell in. It is a matter of choosing life.

Some do. The young woman who felt like a cornered animal, after a number of years in Regeneration and a few years of counseling had the challenge put before her. Eventually she did allow God to kill that spirit of control, and she was set free. Not many months later something happened that led her to take on one of the most awful risks there is. She fell in love and entrusted her heart to another. Today she is married and the mother of two young children.

The goal is not marriage. The goal is obedience, becoming who God created us to be. And as we are obedient, life opens up all around us, and all sorts of wonderful things become possible. Our control of our lives was so narrow and constricting. His control offers freedom and abundance.

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Copyright © 1991 Regeneration. All rights reserved.