“The angry boy, a bit too insane,
Icing over a secret pain,
You know you don’t belong…”
These are some of the lyrics of a song by the 90’s band Third Eye Blind. I quote them because they bring me back to a vivid memory of watching some type of news show like 60 minutes and hearing the story of a teenage boy who was the quarterback of his high school football team. Outwardly he had everything going for him but inwardly there was a ‘secret pain’ – he was sexually attracted to other males and he didn’t know how to tell anyone or how they would react.
Finally, after hearing this song and identifying so intensely with the lyrics, he simply brought the song to his teacher and asked him to listen to it. From there the truth unfolded and, to his great surprise, he was accepted and loved.
The fact is – I completely identified with this young man and his story. I had long known that I felt those same emotional and sexual attractions to the same sex and I had no idea why or what to do about it. Being raised in a small, conservative church and also a small town, I was all the more terrified that someone might find out. So I hid it and I hid it deep… ‘Icing over the secret pain.’
Much time has passed since then with many ups and downs along the path but I eventually found love and acceptance as well from the people who mattered most. And although I felt so very much the same as the young man in the TV story, in my journey I came to very different conclusions, found different answers for my questions and a different source of healing and wholeness.
The Early Years
I was born into a Christian home and have the privilege of having wonderful parents. My parents loved me dearly and, as I would find out years later, they loved me unconditionally as well. For me, and all children, this is what matters most. In my mind, and I think many would concur with me, the relationship between a person and their parents is a monumental factor in life. And even if there is no real relationship with a parent, our attitude towards them, whether bitter or honouring, will affect the very direction of our lives.
“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” Ephesians 6:2-3
On a personal level I don’t believe I was “born this way,” but I’m sure I was born with some inclinations towards it. As I grew up, it became more and more apparent to me that I was different than other males – I somehow just didn’t fit in as naturally as most and I felt like I was on the outside looking in most of my life. Of course this type of feeling is perpetuated by male stereotypes that we are exposed to from an early age. If you are a masculine boy than you will look like this and act like that and be interested in only certain hobbies. These stereotypes all drove me to further despair.
Although it’s not talked about much, boys do indeed struggle with body image issues, and I was a prime example. I was always a little chubby and I really began to envy other guys who were thin and/or muscular. Emotionally speaking I was an extremely shy and sensitive child and I began to envy the personality traits of other males who were not so. As I journeyed through puberty all of these spiritual and emotional thoughts became sexualized – and that is when I first realized I was sexually attracted to other guys.
Don’t get me wrong, I still wanted the attention of pretty girls but pretty girls didn’t seem to want attention from me. In fact, some of the worst bullying I faced as a child was from “pretty” girls. This led me to distrust them and become more bitter. The rejection from girls led me further into my same sex sexuality. Later in life I would realize that a healthy, romantic relationship with a woman was a true blessing, and that simple pure friendship with other males is actually a wonderful salve to this struggle. At its root (I believe)this issue is about meeting legitimate same-sex needs.
I think I was about 19 or 20 when things really came to a head. Although I never engaged in homosexual sex, I was deep into homosexual pornography. I felt like something had to give, and so I began the process of telling my parents. I was utterly distraught at them finding out, but I wrote them a letter, laid it on the coffee table, and walked out of the house while they opened and read it. Although I was very uncomfortable, I experienced love and acceptance from them.That is a gift that was priceless.
I would eventually open up about this struggle to a few people: a very close friend, a doctor, a pastor. Some of these disclosures went very well, some were awful.
Then there was my future wife. I wrote her a letter as well and then the phone call came from her, and again I was met with love and acceptance. Her unconditional love for me and understanding towards my struggles have been life-changing. God used her to begin to heal many of the wounds I had.
Marriage and the Rest of Life
As I began to realize I wanted to marry this incredible woman of God, I had to count the cost and feel relatively sure that I could be the good husband that she needed. I began to become very attracted to her sexually, but I realized it was only her – not all women. Nor did my same sex attractions go away; I still dealt with them on a daily basis. Yet here I was wanting to marry this woman and seeking to honour God by waiting for marriage to be with her.
Long story short, we entered a 6 month course on sexuality (not just homosexuality but things that all people face) and it was also life-changing. I was able to explore some of the roots of my struggles in a safe place where I had a wonderful mentor. The Holy Spirit was mightily at work. We ‘graduated’ from this course and it wasn’t long before we were married in that same town. We have lived here ever since then and now have two beautiful children.
I know this is not the same story for everyone. To have same sex attractions is a complex and sensitive issue. For those who do not have a particular faith I understand why they wouldn’t understand my story. They might even be angered by it – but I would seek to love them and share the Gospel of Jesus with them, as I believe all people need it. To fellow Christians who struggle with this – my heart goes out to you as well. I know the conflict and the pain. But to me, I believe the message of the Scriptures on this issue is not unclear.
In the end, I continue to struggle with same sex attractions on a daily basis. I am not “cured”, I am not “Ex-Gay”… I have simply found my wholeness and identity in Jesus Christ and seek humbly to live like it. And my goal in life is not to turn people into “heterosexuals”, my goal is to walk alongside people, love them and tell them about this amazing Jesus who loves me.
“Maybe today, We can put the past away,
I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend,
You could cut ties with all the lies, that you’ve been living in…” ‘Jumper’ by Third Eye Blind
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
Due to the sensitive and personal nature of many of the issues Where Grace Abounds works with, some of our blog authors wish to remain anonymous. We encourage people to move towards being transparent and known by those significant relationships in their lives. Testimonies and personal experiences are powerful tools to be shared. We hope you are encouraged by reading this article.