Jon (Canada)

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Jon�s Story

I was seven when I accepted Christ into my life. I grew up in a Christian home so we always attended church and Sunday school. Family devotions were also a regular occurrence in our house. There were challenges that faced my family as I was growing up which caused some unhealthy dynamics in our relationships with one another. In the midst of this I struggled to develop and understand who I was.

My father was often very busy with work when I was growing up and so I felt distanced from him. When he was around it was difficult for us to do things together because of conflicting interests. My parents had some struggles in their relationship and as the oldest child I became an emotional support to my mom occasionally. I am also the only son with two younger sisters making the house predominately female.

Growing up my family moved numerous times and so I always had to make new friends and change schools. I attended Christian schools until I was in grade 5 and seemed to always be able to make friends fairly easily, even though I disliked moving. When I moved from the Christian to the public school system I faced what felt like more than I could handle.

Transitioning from the "Masculine"

In my grade 5 year I tried to make friends with other guys in my class but faced a lot of difficulty. I had faced name calling in previous grades but in grade 5 it seemed as though all the guys in my class were against me; being in a new school made this very hard to deal with. I

had been sheltered until this year and did not understand a lot of the slang words my peers were using. This left me to become ridiculed for my lack of understanding or tricked into labelling myself something I wasn't because I didn't know the definition of the word. My limited ability in playing sports well also brought teasing and name calling. In this year I also began to face physical abuse by my peers. During this year a male friend and I engaged in some sexual experimentation out of sheer curiosity.

In grade 6 I gave up all attempts to "fit in" with the guys in my grade and began to hang out solely with girls. This only escalated the name calling by the other guys but I felt more comfortable around females so I continued to hang out with them. I also abandoned any desire left in me to play sports and unconsciously avoided all "masculine" activities. Instead I gravitated toward what are often stereotyped as "feminine" activities.

By grade 7 I began to feel an attraction for men and subconsciously began believing the names that were being thrown at me. I did not want to acknowledge these labels because I called myself a Christian and knew what the Bible has to say about being homosexual. I tried to repress any homosexual feelings that came but occasionally let the thoughts linger and the feelings began to take root.

The Escalating Struggle

Near the end of grade 8 my family changed churches and in grade 9 I began to face an even greater struggle with my feelings. Since I was at a new church I did not feel comfortable telling anyone about my

problems and I was sure I already knew what my parents reaction would be if I told them. So again I remained alone with my dilemma and continued to try repressing the thoughts and feelings.

When I was in grade 10 I had my first exposure to pornography at a downtown convenience store. This caused my struggle to escalate and spin out of control. I began to crave the images and any opportunity I could find to see men naked. The only thing I feared was engaging in sexual relations for fear God would strike me with disease for my rebellion.

Instead of running from my faith I began to do everything I could to ensure my relationship with God was "secure." I began to engage in a works based faith hoping that my good actions would outweigh the sin I knew I was committing. I studied the Bible, attended youth group faithfully and helped out at church whenever I could hoping that my sin would go away and I would be free. All of this continued to no avail.

The First Light of Hope

When I was in grade 12 my youth group went on an urban plunge where I heard that many youth question their sexual orientation, even Christian youth. This was the first time I heard I was not alone in this struggle as a Christian. I longed to know what to do and how to "recover" from these feelings. In the evaluation of the weekend I included a note about my struggle and waited to get an e-mail back from the person who led this urban ministry. I was pointed toward some online resources and dialogued with him a bit over e-mail. Since I did not have anyone I could talk to face to face I was not able to fully process my struggle and continued to face homosexual feelings.

I decided to let my parents know about my struggle and see if they could offer me any help. When I told them, I was faced with their complete shock and disbelief which led to a number of questions. Instead of facing all the questions and allowing my parents to process their shock I quickly hid everything again and pretended things had improved. So I continued in the same manner as before and battled for control of my thoughts and feelings.

In my first year of university I became involved with a Christian group on campus and became friends with a number of other first year students. In this group of friends there was one guy who enjoyed making the other guys uncomfortable through physical non-sexual affection. This was something that I longed for and so I tried to do whatever I could to be with him. I developed an unhealthy emotional dependency and was somewhat devastated when he decided to go to another school the next year.

Finding Help

Early in my second year I reached the end of my rope and decided I could no longer handle this struggle alone. I had come to trust the staff worker with the Christian group on campus and decided he was a safe person to tell about my struggle. Much to my surprise when I told him my struggle he was not shocked and did not treat me any different. This was comforting and began my process of healing. I was able to dialogue with him about my feelings and began to find relief from this openness.

Slowly I began to reveal my struggle to some of my friends in order to gain their support. They continued to accept me and this allowed me to gain some much needed accountability. The temptation did not go away but the frequency of falling to lust and masturbation slowed. Eventually I came to a place where I realized that it doesn't matter what others think about me the only thing that matters is God's love and acceptance of me; something that is continual and forever. God's grace covers the whole of my sin and causes me to be united with Him without me needing to do anything to earn it.

This allowed me to gain the confidence I needed so that I could tell my parents again and face whatever questions they had. Since I had been able to work through a lot of my struggle and did not need them to help me find answers it was much easier to tell them. They were able to deal with things better this time around partly also because they were in a better space too. Telling them has allowed me to work at restoring the fragmented relationship I had with my dad. We have been able to have some conversations, work through our differences, and gain a new appreciation for one another. We have also found some common ground and are able to do things together now.

This does not mean that I am completely restored and no longer struggle with homosexual thoughts and feelings. I still have self-perception issues, stemming from all the hurt in my formative years, which I am working through. This often triggers some homosexual lust and desires, but with God's help I am able to rise above these temptations. As I continue to grow and develop in my relationship with God I am able to overcome these false perceptions and see myself as God has created me.

Looking Toward the Future

I no longer question why God allowed this to happen to me. Rather I see how God has prepared me and given me a desire to educate and equip Christians to be able to deal with this issue. In the current cultural climate homosexuality is being treated as an acceptable lifestyle. It is no longer a question of if a Christian will encounter a homosexual but when. It is my desire to help Christians respond with the love of Christ in order to effectively reach this group of people without being condescending and judgemental.

It is only because of the love of Christ that I am able to find the healing and strength to understand the root of my sin and deal with it. As I grow in my relationship with God I am able to overcome my struggles and temptations and become victorious. I may always struggle with homosexual thoughts and feelings but in Christ I am able to stand and resist falling to these temptations.

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