Over the last six months I have been really wrestling with my theology and ministry practice in the area of sexuality. If you read my blog you may have seen little glimpses here and there, some subtle, some not so subtle. As I have been rounding the corner on some clearer understandings and convictions I have found myself engaged in a number of really amazing and challenging conversations.
One of the more amazing conversations was with a friend and fellow youth worker who shared with me his addiction to homosexual pornography in his past. As he shared his story with me, I thought that this was a compelling story that was worthy to be shared.
He is remaining anonymous because I don’t want his story to negatively impact his ministry context. But I wanted to have him share it because if we are ever going to move forward in this discussion and in bringing the good news of healing and redemption then we have to throw back the curtain and allows space for us to share our stories.
Currently there isn’t any place for adults to share their personal struggles with sex and sexuality. It is the forbidden topic, the topic that leads to being fired, divorced, and often forcing people to move away and start from scratch some where else. But I am want to continually push toward a truly authentic Christian community where our entire lives are shared, our entire lives are laid before Jesus, and we truly carry each others burdens and celebrate each other’s victories.
I hope you are encouraged by my friend’s story and hope that you have people in your life that you can share your story with and that you are someone in which others feel the same freedom with you.
As most kids do, I faced many social pressures in Elementary and Jr. High school, most of which revolved around me and friends. I was not good at sports (even though I tried to be), and so I didn’t fit in with the majority of the guys. I changed school so much from living in a divorced family, so I never had the core friends to rely on from my childhood. And I never really knew how to defend myself from criticism, so more often than not, I became a target for jokes. I remember specifically in 7th grade, a group of boys making fun of me for not growing as much hair on my legs as them. They would tell me that I must have shaved my legs and say that I must have been gay because of it. I remember my older brothers in jr. high calling me gay because I couldn’t get a girlfriend. I remember feeling rather alone in all of it, desperate to find purpose and reason.
At the end of Jr. High, as my body was changing and my hormones went rampant, I began to form an addiction to homosexual pornography. While I also became aroused by hetero pornography, I found myself seeking homosexual pornography first. It was my little secret. No one knew. I would delete all traces of activity on my home computer before anyone would know the difference. But even so, I could not delete the traces it was leaving on my heart. I felt dirty, as most people do that are addicted to pornography. But for some reason, because it was homosexual I felt even dirtier inside.
I became a Christian my freshman year of High school. It was mostly for the reasons stated above. I longed for acceptance and a place to fit in… A fix from the social pressures that brought me down. And I found an overwhelming sense of love from God and my church’s youth group. There was no going back. Accept I still had a secret. I did not stop indulging in gay porn. I began to seek answers in scripture, and I concluded that my addictions to pornography were wrong… But I still had a lingering question. Was I gay? I mean, I liked homosexual porn, but I was never attracted to another guy. And I could not find the answer in myself, mainly because at the time I could not find an answer in the bible. I began to form my identity on Christ and his teachings, but I could not find an answer to if it was okay if I was gay or not. I mean, everything inside me told me I was not, but what if I was? Would it have been natural? Did God make me gay, even if I didn’t want to be?
This struggle stayed with me all through high school. In college, I had a mentor that I began to trust very quickly. After a long time of gathering courage, I began to tell my mentor about my struggles with homosexuality. And through His guidance, prayer, and a lot of studying of the scripture, I began to find understanding.
My choosing to indulge in homosexuality was caused by two things: A desire for intimacy and mistaken identity. I discovered the desire for intimacy with guys as I began to form very strong relationships with a group of guys in college. We all lived together and I realized that the intimacy I was in need of was of brotherhood. I needed a place among my fellow man, a place to feel accepted as a man and a place to become who I was made to be. It was a place that I had long sought after from the time of getting picked on from the other guys in jr. high. Also, while discovering this truth, I became aware of my desire for intimacy with woman. As a human, driven by hormones, I naturally wanted to feel like I could get close intimately in a relationship. I longed for a romantically intimate relationship and that was why I first pushed into pornography. And just like anyone else, I needed to control that desire until I found the person God had for me; the person that would complete me. And naturally, it became easiest if I merged the two desires for intimacy together.
I also discovered that I had severely mistaken my identity. I believe that we are called to two main truths that we must form our identities to. The first is the truth that God created us, this world, and all that is within it, in a very specific and intentional fashion, and he did it for himself. And the second is that due to our not fulfilling our roles in that creation, Jesus Christ gave us the wisdom and knowledge we needed to fix that broken relationship in the example of His own life, and sacrificed himself to make it possible for us to be with God again. My issue that I struggled with was the first. God created this world in a very specific way. There was purpose and intention in each piece of it. The first 3 chapters of the bible are dense and give us a guide to what God’s intention was for us. And very intentionally in there is this creation of man and woman. We were created together, as two pieces that come together to complete each other, and to complete the work of us being made in the image of God. And when bonded together, it is called marriage. As humans, that is how we have been created. My mistake was thinking that I could form my own identity. My mistake was thinking that I could do what I want, sexually desire what I want, and form myself into what I want to be based off of what feels and sounds good to me. But the identity I created in myself is not the identity that God intended. I needed to lay down my own thoughts and selfish desires, to become what I was meant to be. To allow God and his intention, as well as the work of Jesus Christ in my life, form me into my true identity.
I bring you my story in a time that I feel is dangerous in the topic of homosexuality. As we trust in God and live faithful in the knowledge that He knows what He’s doing, we need to allow Him to form our identities. We need to gather together, men and women, heterosexual and homosexual, sinner and saint, adulterer, cheater, liar, murderer, and thief… And allow the God of the entire Universe to form our identities through the knowledge presented in the bible, and through the gospel of Jesus Christ. In my story, no person, Facebook post, hate-filled word, or picket sign changed me from my sin nor helped me to accept it. Only God can form true identity.
The reason I tell you this now is because I have since abandoned my addiction to homosexuality and have begun that work of identity changing in my life. God has formed me into a spectacular individual over the last 7 years since I last indulged in gay pornography. And he has been faithful to me since. I have since found my counter-part, the woman in which I have become whole with, and I work with her each and every day towards completing our identities in those two truths. May God do with this story in your heart and mind as it will. And may the peace of Christ go with you.