I’m a bit behind on posting; a new semester has begun with the subject matter of Senior Counseling; Women’s Studies & Feminism; and Human Sexuality. The latter two courses especially have got me thinking–those along with some conversations I’ve had over time with “church people” about confusing feelings and what they often identify as lust, particularly as related to authority figures or leaders. Given those conversations, it’s evident sexuality has become (or always has been) a topic too important to remain completely private within the church or elsewhere.
Now is as good a time as any to move past our blushes, bring it into the open, and do a miniseries on this topic. To start it off, I’ve asked my friend John Spencer to guest post. I appreciate and thank him for his transparency and courage as he shares his experiences and perspective. I hope you will too. While readers may or may not agree, I ask that we respect his journey and beliefs. Our hope is by bringing some of these issues to light, that some might benefit. Here’s John.
**Content warning: this will be an honest account of some of my sexual struggles during my life and may not be appropriate for minors nor for those of a sensitive nature**
I never felt affirmed as a man. I felt that I was a disappointment to my father and didn’t measure up. My father-in-law also didn’t see me as a man and whilst I remember joking in my wedding speech that “it’s not so much losing a daughter but gaining a womanly-bloke” the truth is I didn’t feel like a “proper” man. Getting married didn’t fix that. Nor did becoming a father. I felt the constant need for approval of a father-figure that I never received growing up.
During my early marriage I acted out by looking at pornographic images of women. I knew it was wrong and I hated myself for it. I used to take out my anger on my wife. Often as a defensive mechanism because if she got too close she would expose who I really was and I didn’t want that. So I’d make out that it was her fault. However, whilst early exposure to pornography and subsequent masturbation had hardwired my brain to women, the yearning for manly approval grew and became more sexual.
I started fantasizing about kissing certain men when I was talking to them. I needed to feel loved and wanted by these men. But I knew that this was wrong too*. And I hated myself for it. I tried to suppress it but it kept coming back. Just like the way I projected my self-loathing onto my wife due to my pornographic addiction, I projected my self-loathing about my same-sex attraction onto gays. I would see homosexuality as the unforgivable sin and loathe them in my heart.
Some will interject now and say “you need to accept these desires as natural and reject this outdated religious bigotry”. However, to quote CS Lewis:
“He (Satan) always sends errors into the world in pairs – pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both ‘errors’.”
Instead of denying my desires or just accepting and acting on them, I expressed them to Jesus.
I honestly told Him about my struggles. As I admitted the truth, I brought these desires into the light and that was when the transformation began. He opened my eyes to the fact that it was only men in authority that I wanted to kiss. It was because of my feeling so unmanly, so unworthy, so useless that was the root of my desire to be accepted and loved by authority figures.
Jesus has all authority (Mt 28:18), he is above every power and authority (Eph 1:20-22; Phil 2:9-10) and he loves me (Jn 15:9,12). As I have been receiving the approval of the ultimate authority I have become more whole. As I have drunk deep of Christ’s masculinity I have become more manly. As I have received the Father’s love and approval my desires for men have simply faded away. I have become complete and whole in Him who is my all in all (1 Cor 15:28).
GK Chesterton said “Everyone who knocks on the door of a brothel is searching for God”. God has made us creatures of desire and Jesus is the “desire of the nations” (Hag 2:7) – the only one who can truly satisfy our longings whether they be same sex attraction, pornography addiction, paedophilia, food, smoking or simply the desire to be famous or rich. No finite thing can satisfy our longing for the infinite. Stop drinking out of broken cisterns (Jer 2:13), and return to the source of living water (Jn 4:13-14).
* It’s not the purpose of this article to defend the traditional Christian view of homosexuality. Others have done that adequately elsewhere. Any plain sense reading of passages such as Rom 1:26-27 and a correct understanding of hermeneutics will support this. However, we mustn’t get pushed into the false dichotomy of if I don’t agree I must hate gays.
John Spencer is a child of God, a husband and a father of six children (four on earth and two in heaven). He writes about his journey into wholeness and how parents can communicate a godly vision of sexuality to their children at godlysexuality.org.
NOTE from LifeTree: all comments are moderated but please, do add to the conversation, even anonymously. Discussion helps others come out of hiding and heal. John was kind enough to revise his original article which you can find here: