To move out from a lifetime of control and self-protection is an awesome thing for a woman who has been deeply hurt. It is only possible through the power of Jesus Christ, through His Spirit living in us.
“I feel like a wounded animal, backed into a corner by her enemy and all I can do is to try and strike a frightening pose and make a fierce sound, hoping I can scare him away.”
In one of many counseling sessions, the young lady who made this statement was expressing—perhaps more clearly than ever—the feelings that had dominated her life and were such a major factor in her lesbianism.
This young woman did come out of lesbianism. She was set free and clearly is no longer that wounded animal desperately maintaining the front that will keep her safe. Sadly, though, she is one of the exceptional few. It is no secret that ministries like Regeneration have had far less success in ministry to women than in ministry to men. Typically, a Christian woman struggling with lesbianism comes to us wanting to live a life that is obedient to the Lord. She wants to be free from sexual involvement and free from falling into highly dependent idolatrous relationships with other women.
By and large the women are successful in this. But there they stop. They feel they are free from the sinful behavior, and thus acceptable to God, but their healing goes no further. They are not what they used to be, but what are they?
Their relationships with both men and women still do not give evidence of the freedom that God wants for them. Although outwardly appearing to be strong and confident, inside they are “scared rabbits” dealing with the threats that are all around them by always staying in control.
The roots of control
The roots of this need to be in control are easily seen. They have been deeply hurt—usually by a man. A background of abuse—sexual, physical or emotional—has left them deeply wounded. Sometimes the one abused was their mother, who passively suffered at the hands of their father, and they developed contempt for the feminine which they perceived as inherent weakness. Whatever the cause, the deep scars have left them determined to protect themselves at all costs—physically and emotionally.
That the source of their vulnerability goes back to relationships with men is not surprising. All women, because of man’s greater physical strength and fallen nature, are potential victims of male control and domination. The ultimate expression of this is rape, but other forms of abuse are all around us. God foretold this in the curse on Eve: “…your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Gen. 3:16). Our observation has been that at the root of most lesbianism lies a terrible wounding which has taken a fear that most women have, and expanded it to life dominating proportions. Safety is equated with control.
This spirit of control is most evident in the lesbian woman’s relationship with men, but it carries over into relationships with other women. Most women who come to us reveal stories of highly controlling relationships. Manipulation, jealousy, and co-dependency all seem to characterize these relationships.
The great emotional needs flowing out of such a woman’s woundedness may demand that she meet these needs by controlling another woman. This is not an unusual form of human behavior. Whenever a course of action, aimed at meeting a fundamental human need (security, affirmation, love, etc.), fails to provide a payoff, that action can become more and more compulsive.
This is one of the great central problems of all homosexuality, not just lesbianism. The need is so great, but knowing only one way to meet it, when that fails, we try harder and harder. In this, a determination to maintain control is seen as the means to safety and security; to not being hurt again.
The need for control in the lesbian woman (and others) is often characterized by a rule of life that goes like this: “I must stay in control; no one else will help me; if I let go of control I will die.” Sadly, in her earlier years there may have been many times when she did cry out for help and no one answered.
What is the answer here? How does a woman let go when she is certain that she can’t let go?
First of all, as counselors, or as strugglers, we must truly accept the depth of the problem – and believe that God does also. We are convinced that God, who sees their hearts and knows the depth of their fears, will not let them be devastated. He will not make them let go before they are able.
We see in Jesus a tenderness towards the deep vulnerability in women. His protection of the woman caught in adultery, His patience with and lack of judgment towards the woman at the well, His weeping at the tomb of Lazarus because He felt the sorrow of His beloved friends Mary and Martha, all of these show His love and tenderness towards women. This is the starting point on the road towards letting go for women; starting to get in touch with the heart of Jesus.
But Jesus is seen as a man. Although a Christian woman knows that He is a man free of sin and could never hurt or abuse her, in the depth of her wounded heart she may be a long time coming to accept this truth. Emotionally and psychologically there is great difficulty in trusting even Jesus. But He can overcome this. He has a wonderful patience that will just keep wooing her until she can begin to trust Him.
So this is the first step in becoming free from a controlling spirit: starting to nurture her relationship with Jesus, gradually seeking to see Him as her friend, her protector, even her husband. Focusing on His nature and not her own needs (as much as possible), she starts to trust at least that one man—Jesus.