Another Offshoot of Loneliness: Homosexuality

Loneliness creates in some a hunger for genital involvement with a person of the opposite sex. Loneliness creates in others a yearning for genital involvement with a person of the same sex.

   In this chapter, I plan to direct the spotlight on to that much misunderstood and feared word, 'homosexuality'. We shall examine certain questions which are frequently raised today: 'What exactly is homosexuality?' 'What does the Bible say about homosexuals?' 'Is homosexuality a sin?' 'How can the Christian fellowship best help those with a homosexual orientation?' 'How should a person with homosexual bias view himself?' 'Are there escape routes from homosexuality?' 'What is the purpose of same-sex friendships?' 'How does one deal with the fear of homosexuality?' Not everyone will agree with my answers to these questions. You must decide for yourself whether what I suggest seems biblical and sensible. What follows is the fruit of much thinking about this subject: reflections which have arisen from counselling people troubled by this expression of loneliness.

What is homosexuality?

Mention the word 'homosexuality' in any mixed gathering of people and you can almost guarantee reactions as mixed as the persons present: revulsion, horror, acceptance, understanding, bewilderment, prejudice, mirth and possible a defence of homosexual activity may be expressed. The words perversion, evil, disease, sin may all be used to describe the

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homosexual condition. Some may even describe homosexuality as 'normal'; particularly those who are practising homosexuals: those who feel guilty or trapped by their own behaviour.

   But what is the homosexual condition? Again, definitions vary. The Gay Manifesto describes homosexuality as 'the capacity to love someone of the same sex'.1 Against this broadest of backcloth definitions, John White narrows homosexuality down to genital activity: 'A homosexual act is one designed to produce sexual orgasm between members of the same sex. A homosexual is a man or woman who engages in homosexual acts.'2 William Kraft seems to agree with this narrow definition. He claims that 'strictly speaking, homosexuality means homogenitality. Those who choose a homosexuality life-style indicate that sexually they prefer and desire genital relations with a member of the same sex. With the latter homosexuals feel comfortable and affirmed, while with the opposite sex they feel uncomfortable, impotent, resentful, scared or simply indifferent when genital relations are possible. When people consistently, and over a long period of time, yearn to be genitally intimate and behave genitally with the same sex, they are true homosexuals.... The life-styles of homosexuals are permeated with and motivated by genital relations with the same sex, rather than being periodic. Especially when lonely, empty or depressed, homosexuals turn to a sexual relationship with a member of the same sex as their saving grace.'3

   While this definition is accurate enough, it must also be recognized that some people with a homosexual orientation also enjoy sexual relations with persons of the opposite sex.

   The definitions fan out into a broader pattern again with Donald Georgen's own definition: the homosexual is 'one whose primary emotion and erotic interest is directed towards a member of the same sex'4, and with Elizabeth Moberly's claim that 'homosexuality is not essentially a sexual condition.'5 Elizabeth Moberly's thesis is that a true homosexual is a person who has suffered the loss or the absence of same-sex parental love during the formative years; a person, therefore, who remains in a state of

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incompleteness and who searches for completion in relationships with persons of the same sex in adulthood. In her important book, based on eight years of research into the homosexual condition, she uses such phrases as  a 'hurtful experience', 'intrapsychic damage at a deep level', 'hidden orphans', those with 'a need for love' to describe persons with homosexual orientation. Elizabeth Moberly, a Christian research psychologist in Cambridge specializing in psychoanalytic developmental psychology, concludes that homosexuality is not caused by genetic imbalance nor by hormone imbalance, nor through abnormal learning processes, but almost always by lack of love from someone of the same sex.

   By making this claim, Elizabeth Moberly is not encouraging people with a homosexual bias to blame their parents for lack of warmth or care. Neither is she encouraging parents of adults burdened by a homosexual problem to become guilt-ridden by the apparent failure of the past. What she is implying is that this deficit of same-sex parent love is often subtle; the deficit might have been the paucity of the love offered or it might have been the child's perception which was at fault — his inability to respond to the style of parental love being offered. It often happens, therefore, that when the 'hidden orphan' living within the adult begins to understand why their parents acted in the way they did, and when they are prepared to forgive their parents for the hurt inflicted, healing becomes a very real possibility.

Is homosexuality a sin?

Before we decide whether homosexuality is, of itself, a sin, definitions must be carefully considered.

   If you take the broad view painted by The Gay Manifesto, clearly homosexual feelings are not abnormal. As Henri Nouwen rightly points out, such same-sex loving is common to all healthy, growing persons:

When we are still struggling with finding out who we really are, homosexual feelings can be just as strong as heterosexual feelings. There is nothing abnormal about

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homosexual feelings at a time in which our life has not yet formed a definite pattern. Perhaps the absence of these feelings is more abnormal than their presence.6

And, as we shall go on to observe later in this chapter, same sex friendships contribute valuable ingredients of love to our lives at various stages of the maturing process.

   Warm feelings for members of the same sex are not sinful. If they were, the Bible would not have described the friendship between David and Jonathan in such graphic detail and in such warm, approving language. 'Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself ... And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself (1 Samuel 18:1,3; see also 1 Samuel 20:4-42; 2 Samuel 1:23-27). Neither would the close friendship between John and Jesus or Lazarus and Jesus or Peter and Jesus have been unveiled.

   Clearly these relationships were not sinful. They were emotionally intimate. The Bible is never anti-friendship. The Bible does not even condemn the homosexual orientation which some adults clearly have. What the Bible does rule out of court is homosexual genital activity.

What does the Bible teach?

There are seven references to homosexuality in the Bible: Genesis 19:1-11; Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13; Judges 19:22-25; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:9-11. To quote from just one: 'Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God' (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). This strong, prohibitive language is typical of the Bible's attitude to homosexual genital activity. But it is not the homosexual condition which is condemned. What is judged is the genital activity which has been snatched from the context God meant it for: marriage. What is also condemned is the anti-God rebellion which so often accompanies homosexual genitality.

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Paul describes the situation well: 'They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator ... Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts... Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion (Romans 1:25-27).

   What makes homosexuality sinful is precisely the same thing as makes heterosexuality sinful: not the condition, not the genital desire, not the attraction, but the inappropriate expression of the genital desire, the physical contact which demonstrates a lack of respect of the partner by using his body as a toy and by expressing affection in a way which is permissible only in the marriage relationship.

What does the Bible imply?

In the present debate in society about homosexuality, the claim is often made that a homosexual was created by God with that particular orientation and he should be encouraged, therefore, to accept his sexual orientation and to live within its limits.

   The Bible does not seem to support this claim. Nowhere is the impression given than God made certain men and women with a homosexual orientation. On the contrary, in Genesis 1 we find God creating male and female in his own image and in Genesis 2 the male and female were attracted to one another like two magnets. Elizabeth Moberly concludes from this, and I agree with her, 'God did not create homosexuals as homosexuals, but as men and women who are intended to attain psychological maturity in their gender identity.' In other words, to claim that the person with a homosexual condition was created that way is to lack compassion and to deny the person the opportunity to respond to the challenge of the homosexual condition: to seek the touches from God which will enable that person to grow emotionally and spiritually and which will eventually result in greater wholeness and freedom.

   Moreover, if we take Elizabeth Moberly's compassionate and persuasive definition of homosexuality as a working definition, that is, a homosexual person is one who has

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suffered a lack of same-sex parental loving in the formative years and who, though an adult, still tries to compensate for this childhood lack, then the Bible has a great deal to say to the homosexual and the homosexuality condition.

   If we can move in our thinking beyond the homogenital act to the homosexual person, and if we contemplate that person's inner need, seeing him as 'the hidden orphan', it becomes clear that the Bible's attitude to such persons is one of protective, unconditional love. This love steams from God's love. 'He defends the cause of the fatherless...' (Deuteronomy 10:18 and Psalm 10:18); 'The Lord... sustains the fatherless...' (Psalm 146:9). God himself is 'A father to the fatherless...' (Psalm 68:5); in God 'the fatherless find compassion' (Hosea 14:3). Or, as some translators reword that verse, 'In thee the fatherless find a father's love.'

   In the Bible's view, those who have been denied the warmth of adequate parental loving in childhood are to be offered love, not by God only, but by brothers and sisters in Christ also. The Bible exhorts us to 'encourage the oppressed', to defend... the fatherless' (Isaiah 1:17), to 'look after orphans... in their distress' (James 1:27).

   Clearly, God does not want the emotional growth of a person to be stunted by a lack of love, whether this is through the physical loss of parents, through death (the normal interpretation give to this word orphan), or through the deficit caused through parental neglect, maltreatment, or a child's misinterpretation of parental love.

   Whether a person's parents were guilty of willful neglect or not matters little. What makes a person a 'hidden orphanage' is not willful negligence but the inability of the parent of the same sex to communicate the vital message, 'I love you'; or the inability of the child to absorb that life-giving message. For unless we felt loved by the parent of the same sex at the stage in our growth when it really mattered, that is, in the formative years, whether we were loved or not is immaterial. We need to feel loved in order to be assured that we are loved.

   The key figures in our lives, therefore, need to learn to communicate that 'I love you' message in a way we can

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understand and accept. In the absence of this loving ingredient, something within us withers.

The responsibility of the Christians' fellowship

We have seen that the homosexual condition is not unlike fatherlessness or motherlessness. We have also seen that we have a responsibility to persons suffering from such inner pain: to help them, to love them, to heal their wounds. This is the primary role of the church and fellowship groups when faced with a person admitting to a homosexual orientation.

   The tragedy is that the church has not yet caught a vision of this God-given role. Instead, Christians mutter and quarrel about the surface problem: the genital expression which frequently accompanies the emotional deprivation. In attempting to stamp out the genital activity, in focusing their attention on one manifestation of the homosexuality problem, they have made as their main mission the attempt to expose homogenital activity for what it is: sin, but at the same time have caused persons with a homosexual condition, hurting, smarting, love-hungry people, to form ghettos where they can be assured of some sort of understanding and care. As more than one homosexual has expressed it, 'I went out looking for a partner because I needed to feel the warmth of human arms around me.'

   The urgent need in the church today, as I see it, is for a radical review of our attitude to Christians struggling with a homosexual problem.

   What is needed, first and foremost, is a clear, informed, compassionate understanding of the nature and complexity of the homosexual condition. We need to see beyond the oral sex and the anal sex and the cottaging and the prostitution which are by-products of a deep-seated problem. We need to refuse ourselves permission to recoil from a brother or sister in Christ who confesses to homosexual tendencies. We need to see homosexuality for what it is: a challenge to grow, just  as certain irregularities in heterosexual loving are challenged to grow.

   There is little point in recognizing that a certain problem offers the opportunity for a spurt in growth unless we are

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prepared to offer the vital ingredients which precipitate that growth. Speaking personally, I long for the day when, in Christian fellowship groups, a person with a homosexual orientation, or a person plagued with a masturbatory problem, will be able to share this with the entire group and be certain that the confession will be met, not with condemnation, disapproval or a judgmental attitude, but with the assurance of help, and the prayer which heals: 'We're on your side. Thank you for being so open. We'll pray you through to the next stage of maturity.'

   When such groups begin to function well, they will provide friendships for the homosexual person. This is what he needs and needs desperately. (I use the term 'he' here, but of course, not all homosexuals are male. The lesbian is a woman who gravitates towards another woman for emotional and sexual intimacy.) Indeed, the first phase of healing may well come, not through prayer, but through wholesome, non-genital relationships with people of the same sex.

   The same sex element is vital. We sometimes make the mistake of thinking, 'What he really needs is a girlfriend'; 'What the lesbian needs is a boyfriend'. There is a grain of truth in those beliefs but there is a 'not yet' element in the beliefs also. What a person with homosexual tendencies needs most is a loyal, understanding friend who will begin to meet his legitimate needs for same-sex loving which have not yet been adequately met. If this lack of love can be met in a non-genital way, these friendships will promote the emotional growth of the homosexual person.

Unshockability

When we learn to understand some of the complexities of the homosexual problem and when we grow to love individuals with a homosexual orientation, we give to them a valuable gift: the freedom to talk. We must become unshockable.

   Many homosexuals bottle everything up inside them: their desire for genitality, their shame and self-loathing, their dread, and the fear that they will never marry or have children of their own. Through listening, we can unlock these

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prisons of loneliness and give love and understanding, support and care, friendship and ongoing prayer. The homosexual may never have experienced this quality of love. He may often have felt like a fringe person, an observer, always on the sidelines looking in. This free-flowing friendship, of itself, will engender hope, and the courage to try to change. Just as the heterosexual person needs another person and a place where they can voice the inner struggles which accompany the genital urges and the emotional temptations attached to sexual awakening, so the person with aroused homosexual desire must find a forum where he can tell it like it is and be heard.

The need for friendship

My fear is that unless we, in the church, offer such support to persons passing through the homosexual development phase of growth, the homosexual problem amongst Christians will grow.

   Since the Wolfenden Report in 1954, the public acceptance of homosexuality in Britain has increased. Gay clubs, gay marriages are all the rage. The gay lifestyle is positively promoted in the big cities of our land. Because gays have 'come out' it is now fashionable to talk about homosexuality. The symptoms of the homosexuality condition are published, available for all to see.

   The problem here is that, just as if you read a medical manual you can convince yourself that you are suffering from cancer or ulcers or glandular fever or other medical diseases, so the young person who is bridging the gap between childhood and full-grown adulthood can easily be beguiled into believing they are homosexual when they are not.

   Homosexuality is a phase we all go through. The schoolgirl enjoys a series of 'crushes' or 'pashes' on older girls or teachers at school; boys might indulge in genital activity in the toilets, changing rooms or woods. This does not mean that they are confirmed homosexuals. It does mean that they are in transit, on the way to further sexual discoveries: the God-given joys of heterosexuality.

   One set of figures produced by Kinsey when he researched

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into the genital activity of men and women, suggested that 37%  of males had indulged in genital activity with other men at some stage of their life. This did not fix them into a homosexual pattern. Most moved on to marriage and parenthood. That is why I say that homosexuality of this nature is sexual awareness in transit; it is one part of the tunnel which connects childhood and the heterosexual experience of adulthood, or the fulfillment of creative singleness and celibacy.

   We shall look at ways of combating this fear of homosexuality later. Here I simply want to underline what I said earlier, that our responsibility as Christians is to understand the depth of the homosexual problem, to do everything in our power to meet the emotional needs of the person with a homosexual orientation, to provide an atmosphere where such persons can unburden themselves, and to further such persons' growth so that they, like us, learn to integrate sexuality and spirituality, sexuality and personality; so that homosexuality becomes a crisis of growth, not a crisis of decay.

The value of friendship

These same sex friendships are of inestimable value to the person with a homosexual orientation for a number of reasons: for the sustenance offered in the present, for the security they afford for the future, and for the provision of love not received in the past.

   One of my burdens as I write this book is to communicate and underline the sober fact that 'it is not good for a man to be alone'; to emphasize that God did not equip us to go it alone. The tragedy is that, in certain circles, the Christian homosexual is forced to live a Jekyll and Hyde  existence, forced to pretend to be one thing in public while hiding his true sex identity and behaving quite differently in secret. When the gulf between what he is and what he pretends to be grows bigger and bigger, the level of inner loneliness rises. The dreaded: 'If they really knew what I was like they wouldn't want me', takes root.

   One of the purposes of true friendship is that we can share our secret sins, our feelings of failure, our hidden heartaches

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with our friend and know that this person will not reject us. Everyone needs such a friend. The homosexual is no exception. On the contrary, he probably needs such a friend more than most.

Facing the future

With such a friend or friends, we can face the future. We know that their love will cushion us from some of the knocks of life. We know that if we go away, they will still be there on our return, loving, caring, keeping our best interests in their hearts and prayers. People who have such friends are rich. They know that someone in this world outside the commitment of marriage is prepared to sacrifice for them, sympathize and empathize with them, and steady them during times of uncertainty.

   And these friendships, of themselves, begin to heal over some of the wounds of the past. This is vital. What happens very often with the homosexual person is that, in the absence of same-sex parental love at a crucial stage in his emotional development, he deliberately unhitches himself from that parent figure to avoid being further hurt. Elizabeth Moberly calls this 'defensive detachment'. Instead of looking, in the future, for love and support from the parent of the same sex, the child will attach himself to the parent of the opposite sex and rely on her for all his hunger for love to be satisfied. This detachment and attachment leaves an inner emptiness. At the adolescent stage of growth, when the glandular urges indicate that a sexual springtime has arrived, the homosexual does not search for the intimacy we described in chapter one, with a person of the opposite sex. (He has a partner of the opposite sex in this all-sufficient parent figure.) No. He yearns for that which he has never yet experienced: same-sex love. Because the accent, in the teenager and young adult years, is on genitalia and the genital expression of love, if the opportunity arises he will translate this deep desire into homosexual genitality.

   What non-erotic same-sex friendships provide is the love he never experienced in the formative years. This sort of love, if care is taken not to permit such friendships to become

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genital, and if they avoid the danger of becoming imitations of immature puppy-love, can encourage the homosexual to detach himself, in a healthy and necessary way, from the parent figure of the opposite sex and to attach himself in a healthy way to members of his own sex. But this all takes time. The route is fraught with dangers. Where it works, it prepares the person with the problem to seek more permanent ways out of the homosexual orientation.

Some suggested escape routes

The good news for people with a homosexual orientation is that healing is available for those who want to avail themselves of it. The bad news is that if often takes a very long time, years rather than months, for a person to slide along the sexual scale. The good news is that everyone can move from one notch on the scale to another. The bad news is that practising homosexuals may have considerable difficulty, at first, abstaining from genital activity which seems to bring them sexual excitement, even fulfillment.

   When we speak of healing, we are not speaking of healing the homosexual condition; it is not a disease, like cancer, so it cannot therefore be healed. What we are describing is the process by which the root causes of homosexuality can be touched. At the root, very often, as we have seen, lie wounds that will not stop bleeding. This is where the healing balm needs to be applied.

   And when I speak of the sexual sliding scale, I have in mind Kinsey's suggestion that every person sits, most of the time, on a certain point of the slide-rule. But this sexual orientation is not fixed. A married person, to all intents and purposes happily heterosexual, might suddenly find herself physically attracted to another woman, even tempted to give that affection genital expression. She would move along the sliding scale several spaces but would probably revert after a period of time to her former heterosexual level. In the same way, a person with a homosexual orientation can be nudged along the slide-rule to a new fixed point. But, as I suggested, it takes time, patience and the healing hand of God.

   John White and Elizabeth Moberly admit that, so far,

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secular therapies such as psychoanalysis have proved comparatively ineffective in the healing process. One of the reasons for this is that the aim of the treatment therapies is to bring about a quick sexual reorientation in the person concerned; to bring them from homosexuality to heterosexuality in a short space of time. As Elizabeth Moberly points out, this leaves the root problem, the lack of love from a person of the same sex, untouched. Marriage to a partner of the opposite sex does little to meet the legitimate needs for growth which have never been satisfied.

Meet the deficit

As we have already observed, the urgent need, therefore, is to meet the deficit of love; to provide the homosexual person with a friend, or preferably a group of friends, of the same sex who will meet him at various points of need.

   The value of such friendships was highlighted in San Francisco in 1973. In the spring of that year, Frank Worthen, a practicing Christian homosexual, rededicated his life to Christ and renounced the gay lifestyle he had indulged in for more than twenty years.

   In an attempt to communicate the good news that there is a way out of homosexuality, Frank Worthen set up first a part-time, non-residential counselling program, then a live-in counselling program where individuals who had made a commitment to Christ and a commitment to come out of gayness in obedience to his Word could receive help, support, teaching and care. Homosexuals opting for this six-month period of 'treatment' live in same-sex households where they live and work together and support one another as each person seeks to overcome sexual temptation. The friendship generated in these households seems essential to their desire to find an exit from a way of life which may have become addictive. Within these groupings the person with a homosexual orientation learns to relate to individuals of both sexes in a wholesome and godly way.

   To my knowledge, there is no such centre in Britain yet.8 In the absence of such provision maybe it is time for Christian cells groups to work towards the goal of offering similar

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support and encouragement not just to homosexuals but to others battling against the current storm of cultural norms also.

The desire to change

But if this 'friendship therapy' is to bear fruit, the homosexual must want to change. God does not force change on us. He does point out where changes need to take place but he invites us to open the doors to change for ourselves, not to expect them to operate on automatic. As we are reminded from Homan Hunt's moving representation of Revelation 3:20, his painting of Jesus standing outside a closed, seemingly handleless door, knocking patiently, the handle is on the inside. The only person who can turn the handle is you.

   In addition to this desire for change, the homosexual, according to Frank Worthen, needs the belief that change is possible.

   Before homosexuality was discussed openly in Christian circles, such belief was hard to muster. Even now some homosexuals known to me find it hard to believe that they can live in Christ's strength, motivated by his Spirit rather than genital desire. But a whole series of testimonies, both from America and England, now point to the fact that God can and does change lives, including the homosexual orientation.

   This fact came home to me in 1983 when I attended a conference for those involved in counselling persons with a homosexual orientation. For me, by far the most moving part of the conference occurred on the last evening when one individual after another claimed that, by the grace of God, deep wounds had been touched and healed so that radical transformations had taken place. Some former homosexuals had married and become parents. Others had been given the grace to live creative, fulfilled, single, celibate lives.

   Such testimonies are now available in print. Johan van de Sluis, an ex-homosexual from Holland, tells of his own reorientation in a booklet entitled Once a Homosexual. He describes his feelings when, as a teenager, it seemed as though he was one of society's onlookers. 'I felt I didn't

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belong in the group. I was afraid of other boys and because of that I was very shy. I hated tough play. I had absolutely no interest in soccer, even though I thought I should like it.'9 The testimony continues with an honest evaluation of his homosexual affairs and concludes with his conversion to Christianity and his struggle to shed the shackles of a now unwanted way of life.

   The True Freedom Trust similarly publishes stories of those who have experienced God's intervention in their lives at the point when they despaired of ever coming to terms with their homosexuality.10 And Love in Action, the live-in counselling program I have described, makes this claim:

Those of us who have come to Christ and renounced our gay lifestyle may have given up much that was familiar and comforting to us, but we have gained far more than we lost.11

The secret of such change, according to Frank Worthen, is to submit: to God and to Christian friendships. 'Submission means yielding and surrendering... our attitude and independent spirit. We must build trust-relationships with God (knowing that He is at work in the long process of change) and with our brothers and sisters in Christ... Submission is opening up our life to God to make the changes He wants to make. "The depth of submission equals the heights of victory." '12

Ways out of Homosexuality

When we speak of escape routes from homosexuality, what we are really searching for is not a way to repress genital desire or even genital activity. That is to deal with the surface problem only and the change required is far more profound than that. What we must seek to do is to cure the homosexual condition by meeting unmet needs rather than simply try to restrict homosexual activity which is the outcome of hidden longings. (I am not implying, by saying this, that the person with the homosexuality orientation need not take responsibility for his genital activity or can claim diminished responsibility. I believe that cottaging, as seeking homosexual

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partners in public lavatories and other public places is called, homosexual prostitution and homosexual activity between consenting partners is wrong because such behaviour runs counter to the Bible's teaching and therefore, difficult though it is, the homosexual person should refrain from such homogenital activity. I am saying, however, that to stamp out cottaging, or, in the case of close friends, simply to stop genital play, is not a sign of complete victory. Victory comes when the inner needs are satisfied, met and healed.)

   From talking to Frank Worthen and others whose lives are dedicated to help the homosexual find a way out of the gay lifestyle, it seems there is a route out of homosexuality. The following A - H is offered to readers who are serious about finding this escape route for themselves.

An A - H for homosexuals

The first step is to acknowledge the homogenital activity as sin. Whether you feel remorse is irrelevant. Apply the objective truth of the Bible to the homosexual practices I have described and recognize that, in the sight of God, these are unacceptable.

   Because this is biblical, objective truth, move on to the next phase: brokenness. An essential ingredient of the Christian life is humbling ourselves under the mighty and loving hand of God: allowing him to break us, watching him marvel over the fragments of our brokenness, pick up the pieces and remake us in his own image.

   Brokenness will be accompanied by confession, the facet of prayer which pours into the lap of God the fact of our failure and the sorrow we feel in failing. Confession must always lead to repentance, the determination to dedicate our lives, not to pleasing ourselves, but to obeying and pleasing God. But Frank Worthen emphasizes that the haul out of the gay lifestyle is a long and arduous one. 'God seldom 'ZAPs' anyone out of their old lifestyle. The Holy Spirit is gentle with us, bringing change on a daily basis, but never demanding from us behaviour that is beyond our ability to perform.13

  Therefore, the person struggling out of gayness must exercise patience

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and seek a daily filling of the Spirit, whose empowering alone both motivates and equips the individuals for change. And since taking even these steps will probably prove difficult, he or she will need God's grace in every aspect of life.

   Finally, the homosexual will need to seek the kind of healing which I shall describe in the final chapter of this book.

How should the homosexual view himself?

If you are reading this chapter because you yourself have a homosexual orientation, it is vital that you reflect on the thesis of this chapter: that the homosexual person is a person who has been wounded in the past, a hidden orphan, one who is in transit sexually speaking. Recollect that the homosexual is a person with a great capacity for love and a deep desire and need to be loved. Remember that the homosexual is a mourner: one who is still smarting from the pain which comes to each of us when we lose someone special. In other words, remind yourself that the homosexual person, far from being the self-labelled loathsome toad he may think he is, is someone in need of a great deal of understanding, compassion and friendship. The homosexual is one with legitimate but unmet love needs which must be met, though not by eroticism, genital stimulation or orgasm.

    If you have homosexual tendencies remember that you are someone who is loved with God's unending, protective love; someone who needs to be rescued by his gentle hands; someone whose inner wounds need the anointing of the oil of God's Holy Spirit.

   And try to hold two things in tension: that you are loved, that you are accepted as you are, but that you will need to be changed into the likeness of Christ; that you must take full responsibility for what you do with your homosexual inclinations: use them as an occasion for genital sins or see them as a challenge to grow.

   In the middle of writing this chapter, I paused for a chat to my neighbour. She showed me some bumps in the tarmac on her garden path: small, round mounds, like molehills, which are cracking the path's surface. In reply to my question,

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'What is it?', she replied: 'It's thistles. They're so strong and determined, they're even penetrating the hard surface of the tarmac.'

   I reflected that the homosexual condition is not unlike that tarmac on the garden path. It seems impenetrable. But when the Spirit of God moves into the hidden life underneath with all his power and healing energy, it is possible to break through; to burst into a dimension of living which had previously been an envy, but now becomes a reality.

Fear of homosexuality

And what if you are one of those people who fear that you are homosexual but are not certain? I hope I have written enough in this chapter already to encourage you not to hug this secret fear to yourself, but to share it with someone. If there is no counsellor or pastor in your area, write to the True Freedom Trust14, and they will help you personally or put you in touch with someone near you who will offer sensitive help.

   My reason for encouraging you to clarify the situation with an experienced counsellor is that, in my experience as a helper of homosexuals, many, many people fear they are homosexual when what they are encountering is the normal process of growth. Henri Nouwen puts the situation well:

The experience of homosexual feelings in a certain period of life, or in a temporary fashion, or in certain situations, is a perfectly usual, healthy and normal thing. Involvement in a homosexual act or different homosexual acts during a period of life is not fatal in the sense that one is now doomed to be a homosexual for the rest of his life. More dangerous than the experience is the anxiety and fear related to it and the avoidance of asking for help and advice.15

If you suffer from the fear that you are homosexual by orientation, seek help. Unless you do, guilt, self-hatred, anger against God will win round after round in your life. Such negatives might even push you into putting into practice

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what you believe yourself to be.

   And if you are one of those healthy, heterosexual, outgoing types, the kind of Christian who finds the very mention of the word homosexual repulsive, may I ask you to re-evaluate your prejudiced opinion; and to place it alongside the Bible's injunction to relieve the pain of the orphan? May I encourage you to deepen your understanding of the homosexual condition: not merely to view it as genital activity which incurs the wrath of God, but to recognize the underlying pain, the festering wounds which need a touch from God; festering wounds which God might want to heal through the channel of your love?

Notes for chapter eleven

1. The Gay Manifesto, quoted by Donald Georgen in The Sexual Celibate (Seabury Press, 1974), p.35.

2. John White, Eros Defiled (IVP, 1978), p. 105.

3. William F. Kraft, Sexual Dimensions of the Celibate Life (Gill & Macmillan, 1979), p. 153.

4. Donald Georgen, The Sexual Celibate p. 85.

5. Elizabeth R. Moberly, Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic (Clarke, 1983), p. 29.

6. Henri Nouwen, quoted by Donald Georgen, The Sexual Celibate, p. 85.

7. Elizabeth Moberly, Homosexuality, p. 30.

8. For those living in the London areas, Turning Point now organizes groups where young people with a homosexual problems can meet together with a counsellor on a weekly basis and where individuals can receive help. For further details write to: Turning Point, PO Box 592, London SE41EF.

9. Johan van der Sluis, Once a Homosexual (Onze Weg, no date), p. 4.

10. For example, Full Freedom, A Testimony from Carole (True Freedom Trust, no date).

11. Love in Action International, PO Box 2655, San Rafael CA94912, USA.

12. Frank Worthen, 'Steps out of Homosexuality'. Quoted in Steps Towards Wholeness (True Freedom Trust, 1984), p. 46.

13. Frank Worthen, Tracking the Change Process (Love in Action duplicated article, no date).

14. True Freedom Trust, PO Box 3, Upton Wirral, Merseyside, L49 6NY.

15. Henri Nouwen, quoted by Donald Goergen in The Sexual Celibate, p. 192.

Chapter Twelve  ||  Table of Contents