Pure Intimacy: God's Design for Sex

Growth into Manhood: Resuming the Journey (Part 1)

Although a man may hate his homosexuality with all of his heart and mind, there are some ways in which he loves it.

by Alan P. Medinger

The following excerpt is taken from Alan Medinger’s book, Growth into Manhood: Resuming the Journey.

Growth into manhood – essential for healing
“I had your phone number in my dresser drawer for three years. I kept putting it off, but I finally had to call you.”

Statements like this are heard often in the offices of Regeneration. Regeneration is a part of the worldwide Exodus coalition of Christian ministries whose primary focus is to help men and women overcome homosexuality. I sometimes think that if every Christian dealing with homosexuality who has our phone number tucked away in a wallet or dresser drawer were to decide to call us on the same day, the phone lines would overload.

This type of call suggests three things about the caller. First, obviously, he is at some level unhappy with his homosexuality. Second, powerful obstacles – most often ambivalence and fear – have kept him from calling for help. Third, he has finally reached the point at which his homosexuality has given him such distress that he is willing to confront the obstacles; he is willing to address the ambivalence or face the fears.

Barriers to seeking help
Let’s look at these obstacles and the specific areas of distress that the overcomer experiences. The first obstacle has to do with the nature of addictive-type sins. Although a man may hate his homosexuality with all of his heart and mind, at the same time there are ways in which he loves it. For many of us, homosexual acting out was for years and years our way of coping with life, a way of escape, of self-comforting, of finding temporary relief from the terrible pain or emptiness we felt inside. We hated it and at the same time we loved it, and in our ambivalence we were paralyzed.

I hated my homosexuality. It led me to do foolish and degrading things. It drove me to take risks that I knew could cost me everything: my wife, my children, my career, even my life. But for ten years in the marriage I clung to it. How could I live without it?

The second great obstacle to seeking help is fear. There is the simple fear of the unknown. “If I get involved with this ministry, what will these people get me to do, or what will they do to me? What kind of people are they? Are they some narrow-minded group of fundamentalists, gay bashers in Christian disguise, or at the other extreme, are they peddlers of some kooky new psychological theory?”

There is also the fear of revealing oneself, a fear usually rooted in pride or shame. “I have been a Christian for ten years. I should be able to take care of this myself. To admit this problem and to seek help is to admit what a failure I am as a Christian. Perhaps people will even question whether or not I am a Christian.” These fears are often most intense in someone who has grown up in a conservative Christian community where the stigma of homosexuality is most severe.

Low self-esteem is very much a part of most male homosexuality. This is one of the principal themes in Dr. William Console’s book, Homosexual No More. A principal defense against the pain of low self-esteem has been to construct an image—for our own benefit and for others—of a man who is good and righteous and together. So, to stand before another person and say, “I am homosexual,” is to tear down the false identity that has offered us the only shred of self-esteem we ever had.

Finally, we’ve had enough – sources of distress
Despite these obstacles men do seek help. What is the distress that is so powerful that a man would consider forsaking his addiction and would be willing to walk through such a minefield of fears? If the man is a Christian—and the overwhelming majority of men who come to Exodus ministries have some sort of faith or belief in Christian morality—the distress comes in one or both of two areas.

First, and perhaps most obvious, it is distress over his behavior. He is in terrible conflict over the contradiction between what he believes is good behavior and what he is doing. He may feel like Paul, who wrote in Romans 7 about being driven to do the very things he hates. However, he may feel that Paul’s problems must have been minor compared to his. This would be so especially if his behavior goes beyond masturbation and fantasy. (In this book I include fantasy and masturbation as parts of homosexual behavior. Sexual activity with another person will be referred to as acting out.) I would estimate that over 90 percent of the men who come to ex-gay ministries come because they sense a great conflict between their behavior and what they believe God wants for them.

The second area of distress has to do with the direction of his sexual attractions. He is sexually attracted to men but wants to be attracted to women. With regard to men, the attraction is creating an intense inner longing that he feels will never go away and that he believes, as a Christian, he can never fulfill. The longing may be purely sexual or it may be emotional. Although we tend to think of male homosexuality as focusing on physical attraction and female homosexuality on emotional attraction, in many men there is an almost overwhelming ache to be held by, nurtured by, loved by a man, or by transference, to hold, nurture, and love another man.

I have heard men whose degree of sexual promiscuity would be unbelievable by heterosexual standards pour out their pain and cry, “It was not the sex I wanted; it was just someone to love me.” I believe them. This unfulfilled longing can be as intense as the purely sexual. Of course, the two cannot be totally separated. Leanne Payne and others have pointed out many times how our sexual desires are often deeper emotional desires that have become eroticized.

The attraction to the same sex is only one side of his distress concerning the nature of his attractions; the other is his lack of attraction to the opposite sex. He feels absolutely no romantic or sexual attractions toward women, but he wants one day to get married and have children. Like other men, he has a sense that much of a man’s purpose and fulfillment in life comes through marriage and fatherhood. He wants to feel drawn to a woman, but there is nothing there. The absence of any opposite-sex attraction lies at the root of his sense that he can never lead a normal life, that he is stuck in this place and will never be able to get on with life.

There is a third area of distress that may not come up until the man has started to deal with the first two. This has to do with his identity as a man. Because this is not as directly ‘sexual’ as behavior and attractions, he may not at first link it closely with his homosexual condition. Besides, it is so much a part of “who he is” that he may not have even thought that it could be changed. It is not an identity that says simply, “I am gay,” but one that goes much deeper. It says, “I am not a man, or at least, “I am not a man like other men.” He doesn’t measure up.

Going back to adolescence, sometimes even earlier, he felt different from other boys (and different always translated as “less than” or “inferior to”). These feelings continued through the teen years and into adulthood. Even today, in the company of other men, he feels that somehow he is not a part of their world.

Read part two of this article.

About the author

Alan Medinger is the founder and director emeritus of Regeneration, a ministry to the sexually broken in Baltimore, MD and Fairfax, VA.