Healing & Growth: Breaking the Link
Over the years we have come to recognize homosexuality as a response to past hurts and unmet needs. A girl is hurt by abuse from a man and she grows up with strong needs for protection, intimacy, acceptance, but she can't have those needs met by a man -- the abuser -- and so she is drawn to a woman.
A boy is hurt by a sense of severe rejection from his father or other males, and so he is drawn to any man who will affirm him or show that he has worth, or a boy develops little sense of his own manhood, and so he is drawn to the masculinity of another.
At an early age these needs become sexualized, and once that happens a link is forged between the essentially non-sexual need and the sexual attraction that makes the needs and desires almost indistinguishable.
The reality of this link comes through in our counseling. A man promiscuous beyond imagination will say, "You know, it wasn't the sex I was after, it was for some man to love me." We see it in the extreme needs of the majority of people to whom we minister. The needs for acceptance, affirmation, worth far exceed those of the larger heterosexual population. Although the basic need and the expression of that need in the form of sexual desire are closely entwined, and are perhaps indistinguishable, they are not inseparable, and therein lies one of the most important truths in understanding the healing of the homosexual. Separating the basic need and sexual desire can be one of the most important steps in the healing process.
Usually during my first counseling session with a man struggling with homosexuality, I will go over Dr. Elizabeth Moberly's theory on the origins of homosexuality: the defensive detachment from the father, the unmet same-sex love need, the inability to develop a clear male identity because of being cut off from his male role model. It is not unusual to have tears well up in the eyes of the one being counseled as he so strongly identifies with what I am describing. Finally, after years of confusion and self-condemnation, he starts to understand himself, and perhaps he is realizing in his heart that he is onto the first step of healing.
For most men and women coming out of homosexuality it is important for them that they gain some insight into the causes of their particular homosexual problem. This understanding doesn't bring about healing, but it does start the process. It does it in two ways. First, it may provide a clue to some spiritual steps that must be taken to experience healing; steps such as forgiving a parent, repenting of rejecting the person God created them to be, or renouncing a childhood vow to never be vulnerable to another person.
Second, and almost as important, this insight enables a person to start to break the link between their hurt or unmet need and their sexual desire. Once they recognize the real need and no longer confuse it with sexual desire, they can start to seek legitimate ways of meeting the need.
In fact, once the link is broken, the person faces two problems, not one, but while the single linked problem seemed unmanageable, the two separate problems do seem manageable. The two problems are the basic underlying need, and what has become an ingrained sexual attraction.
The years of seeking to meet needs through sexual means have worn into the person's psychological make-up to create a system of sexual responses to stimuli that have taken on a life of their own, a life that can live on even after the underlying needs have been met. Recognizing that we are dealing with two problems can help us to minister so much more effectively.
One problem -- the underlying need or hurt -- needs healing. The other problem -- the powerful sexual drive towards people of the same sex -- needs to be dealt with as a behavior, one that lies somewhere between a compulsion and an entrenched habit.
For example, a man who feels totally devoid of real manhood, may for years have been powerfully drawn to strong, handsome, together men. The sight of such a man stirred sexual feelings. We find that even after this man has dealt effectively with his needs and has come to fully accept and rejoice in his own manhood, he finds himself still taking that second, and third, look at the strong, attractive man. Or, for a long while after significant healing has occurred, he may occasionally have homosexual dreams.
He is simply dealing with habits, conditioned responses established by years of responding to certain types of stimuli with certain types of behavior. A woman, who for years, has fallen into idolatry and sexual desire for other women, may find that even after great healing has taken place, a certain type of woman stirs up old responses. The sexual side of the problem needs to be dealt with as we deal with all bad habits. It needs to be starved to death. Pornography, "harmless" cruising, masturbation, anything that feeds the old monster needs to be battled. This can be the toughest part of the change process. It may require day in day out battling until the pattern of the old responses wears down.
For many, perhaps most, this cannot be done alone. The flesh is indeed weak. We need to call on Jesus regularly whenever the old stimulus appears. Some, whose patterns have developed to compulsive or addictive levels, may need the power of Jesus Christ to be mediated through other persons, such as through a twelve-step program.
The sexual side of the problem requires a combination of trying harder and relying God's power.
The unmet love need, the rejection of our womanhood or our undeveloped manhood don't require trying harder, they require healing and growth. This distinction is important during the healing process if we are to deal with either problem effectively.
The distinction between the two problems is also important for those who have moved well along in the healing process, but still find old responses coming back. This is not a time for discouragement, but rather one should praise God that the power behind the drive has been broken, and in time the old responses will wither and fade. The old sexual link has been broken, and a new chain established, one in which healing and obedience links us more and more closely to Jesus Christ.
Copyright © 1990, Regeneration. All rights reserved. Posted on the web with permission.