Who Am I?
Bob Ragan

My growing attraction to men convinced me that I was gay. I dropped out of church and began looking for Mr. Right, prepared to settle into a lifelong relationship.

I did not become acquainted with the word homosexual until I was in high school. I knew, however, that it described the feelings I had experienced throughout my childhood.

Same-sex attractions and feelings had been around since I could remember. I assumed that this is how I was born and these feelings defined who I was as a person. I heard no discussions about homosexuality as a child and I chose not to discuss these feelings with anyone. This was the beginning of my sense of isolation and aloneness that would plague me for years to come.

A significant event took place when I was a sophomore in high school. During that year I was exposed to homosexual pornography. To this day I can see myself and feel the effect that those images had on me. I couldn't stop looking at those pictures. My body ached to be touched, held, to somehow be bonded with those men in the pictures. I could not take my eyes off of those images and that event seared one thought in my mind: You are a homosexual.

As I reflect on my life, I now see that every time the enemy was offering me counterfeit life, God was ever-present to show me the truth, the real. Just as I had same-sex attractions growing up, I also had an awareness of God as demonstrated through his creation around us. There was a hunger in me to know God just as there was a hunger to know men.

I knew about God, but I didn't know Him in a personal way. I remember as a 15-year-old, crying out to Him for help in a point of anguish and desperation with my addiction to masturbation and pornography. He heard my cry. The same year I was introduced to pornography, a Franciscan priest took me to a Full Gospel Business Men's dinner where I was introduced to Jesus. My heart soared as His life and Spirit came into me. My heart recognized that this was what I was searching for. I asked Jesus to be my Savior. But I did not truly make Him Lord of my life at that time.

Dealing With God's Truth.
For the next several years I was involved in the Jesus movement of the early 70s. In college I belonged to a Christian community house and I remember the precious fellowship, awesome times of praise and worship, and wonderful teaching. It was then that I became familiar with passages in Scripture which condemn sexual behaviors outside the context of heterosexual marriage.

In my conscience I agreed with God's truth regarding homosexual behavior. However, in order to cope with my strong feelings, I shut down my heart. By not dealing with my feelings, I placed myself in bondage to them. Knowing of no one who was walking in freedom from homosexuality, my feelings of aloneness and isolation deepened.

Because I had not made Jesus Lord of my life, willing to follow Him no matter what the cost, I walked away from Him. In 1976 I began dating a man that I knew. Having found my Mr. Right, I was ready to settle down into a lifelong relationship. But that lifelong relationship lasted only six years.

Since I couldn't have what I thought I wanted, I compromised my life. Now I was willing to become involved with men who did not want a committed relationship. I was willing to go out to the strip clubs and, in an alcoholic blur, drown my sorrows and lost dreams. I was walking through life oblivious of my inner turmoil. I viewed other men as mere objects to satisfy my sexual appetite.

As my life was consumed within the gay community in Washington, DC, I ignored the great emptiness I saw all around me. I ignored the fact that the bars were filled mainly with men under 40 years old. It was only at the strip bars and adult bookstores that I saw the older crowd. I overlooked the fact that any long-term relationships I did encounter were not what I considered healthy. Although some level of love existed within them, I consistently detected an emptiness as well.

Through all of this, God was still in the picture. Somehow I knew that He was waiting for me to come back to Him. By 1986 my heart had begun to yearn for Him again.

Pro-Gay Theology.
I went to a gay bookstore and bought a book which stated that the Scriptures approve of homosexual behavior. I wanted to be convinced that homosexuality was acceptable and that thousands of years of interpretation and tradition was due to ignorance.

Even with the strong desire to be convinced, I remember laughing at the way the Scriptures were reinterpreted. It took no great discernment to see that justification of immoral behavior was being sought, and not God's greater purposes.

My spiritual hunger continued to grow but I became sidetracked. I began to investigate the New Age movement. I delved into astrology and into other areas. Then, as I was being drawn closer to the edge of darkness, God's mighty right arm reached down and rescued me.

During October 1986 in San Francisco, I met a man who had a very similar background to mine. Although at that time we thought we were born as homosexuals, both of us desired a deep relationship with God. In 1987, I rededicated my life to the Lord. This time I wanted Jesus to truly be Lord of my life, especially over my sexuality.

Not knowing what else to do, I found a church in the yellow pages of the local phone directory. After a Sunday visit, I scheduled an appointment with one of the pastors and shared my story. I am so thankful that, although he admitted that he did not know how to counsel me, he said he loved me and wanted me to be a part of his church. God had His hand on me.

I wanted to be drawn into the heart of that church and He placed me with the prayer warriors. Several couples surrounded me with love, even though I did not share my struggle with them because of my pride and fear of rejection. Then, during a time of intense struggle in January 1988, I finally broke down and shared my story with one of the couples. How blessed I was when this couple loved me, prayed for me, and did not reject me.

Two days later I went to a Christian bookstore and shared about my struggle with the owner. I purchased some literature he had and finally realized that I had not been born gay. A tremendous sense of peace flooded me. It was about 2:30 in the morning, so the only person I could call was my friend in San Francisco, where it was only 11:30pm. Two weeks later, I heard about Regeneration, a nearby ministry to men and women struggling with unwanted homosexuality, and I began attending their support group in northern Virginia, which had just begun three months earlier.

What a joy it was to find others who were like me, searching for a way to process and understand our homosexual feelings. How remarkable to find out that so many people had gone beyond white-knuckling the struggle.

Through the teachings I received, I came to understand some of the roots of my gender insecurity. I came to see that my homosexual attractions were rooted in a legitimate need which I had eroticized. I bonded with men sexually to fill the need for affirmation of my masculinity. I had blocked the source of that affirmation during my childhood.

Who I Am in Christ.
Although understanding root issues was necessary to my process, the foundational truth that made the real difference was knowing who I am in Christ. I had a hunger for the Scriptures like never before. As I poured over the book of Romans, the Holy Spirit revealed the truth that my old nature, the old man, was not only crucified, but was dead and buried. It was no longer I who lived, but Christ who lived in me (see Romans 6).

I began to see that I was a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Neither my temptations not feelings ultimately defined who I was as a person. The occurrence of a homosexual attraction or feeling did not mean "I am a homosexual." I could experience temptation, but resist it and walk in freedom!

I also began to have a relationship with God as my Abba, a word of intimacy similar to Daddy in the original Biblical language. He was the only source of meeting my needs.

For many years I was confused about my identity, and centered it around my sexuality. Now, as a Christian, I can clearly see the truth: My relationship with God is the foundation of my identity. In the security of knowing my Heavenly Father, I never have to be confused again.