“I Have Always Felt Different”
Understanding the Root Issues of Same-Sex Attractions
This month’s article is a follow-up on last month’s titled “Why Did You Choose This?” Contact us if you have a suggestion for a future article on helping you and others better understand this often confusing issue.
People have sought me out for answers to the “why” questions of homosexuality for over twenty years; sixteen in formal ministry. The information I’ve gathered comes from an eclectic knowledge base, including, but not limited to: the Bible, scientific research, conferences, workshops, my own personal journey, and most of all—helping other people of all ages and mentoring leaders.
As I’ve said many times, transparency is key to freedom, so I continue to share my life in order to help others become free. As I listen to people’s stories, I hear the same phrase, “I have always felt different.” Combined with that is their feeling of being all alone—of not knowing anyone else who really understands them. Many in today’s culture believe that those who experience same-sex attractions have only one option—to live homosexually.Hope for Wholeness does NOT attempt to alter people’s attractions. Rather, we are here to help people align their lives—relationally and sexually—with God’s Word. This is the beginning of true freedom.
What does aligning one’s self with Scripture look like? For many of us, it began by simply admitting to someone that we had attractions and feelings we didn’t understand. With this admission, we released the burden of our secret. And we either experienced gaining a trusted friend, or endured an even deeper hurt and rejection through our confidence being betrayed.
A big portion of our journey is discovering what it truly means to be a man or a woman. This journey is filled with both terrifying and exhilarating opportunities that challenge and mature us.
An excellent example of what it means to be a man is Joseph. He demonstrated what it took to be a man: he was a faithful follower of God, he deeply loved his wife, and worked hard as a carpenter to provide for his family. This took daily effort on Joseph’s part to demonstrate who and what a man is. This is not a concept children are born with. Rather, boys and girls develop their understanding of their gender as they watch and interact with Mom and Dad, especially their same-sex parent. They, in turn, learn from interacting with their same-sex peers, as well.
Many leaders do not wish to site the “developmental model” because not everyone fits the “mold.” I agree that we are all unique. However, I cannot ignore the overwhelming number of men and women who actually do fit the development model. A model that attempts to answer the question, “Why does a person experience homosexual attractions?”
Here is an excerpt from Dr. James Dobson’s November 22, 2006 interview with Larry King Live (CNN). Dr. Dobson, an acclaimed child psychologist and founder of Focus on the Family, often speaks on genetics and development.
KING: Do you still believe that being gay is a choice rather than a given?
DOBSON: I never did believe that. Neither do I believe it’s genetic.
KING: Then what is it?
DOBSON: I don’t blame homosexuals for being angry when people say they’ve made a choice to be gay because they don’t.
It usually comes out of very, very early childhood, and this is very controversial, but this is what I believe and many other people believe, that is has to do with an identity crisis that occurs too early to remember it, where a boy is born with an attachment to his mother and she is everything to him for about 18 months, and between 18 months and five years, he needs to detach from her and to reattach to his father.
It’s a very important developmental task and if his dad is gone or abusive or disinterested or maybe there’s just not a good fit there. What’s he going to do? He remains bonded to his mother.
KING: Is that clinically true or is that theory?
DOBSON: No, it’s clinically true, but it’s controversial. What homosexual activists, especially, would like everybody to believe is that it is genetic, that they don’t have any choice. If it were genetic, talking about twin studies, identical twins would all have it. Identical twins, if you have homosexuality in one twin, it would be there in the other.
DOBSON: So, it can’t be simply genetic. I do believe that there are temperaments that individuals are born with that make them more vulnerable and maybe more likely to move in that direction, but it usually is related to a sexual identity crisis.
There have been a number of resources I’ve drawn upon over the years to help solidify my thoughts regarding the “why?” of same-sex (sexual) attraction. I’ve heard many people defending their side of the argument, while real men and women—stuck in the middle—remain hurting and confused. Let’s stop debating and start coming alongside those in need.
Before a young man or woman decides to identify as gay, each one did the same thing we all do: they sought for meaning in their lives. They wanted to be “normal” and craved to “belong,” yet, they repeatedly ended up on-the-outside-looking-in. They see men and women together, boys talking about girls, and girls talking about boys. They want to be just like everyone else, but instead feel very “different.” This is a terribly confusing mind-set to experience—especially when one feels like they cannot openly share their feelings of being different.
Too often when people have opened up about their homosexual feelings to someone in their life, they have been ostracized or demonized. Today, young people are being swayed over to the “dark side” of liberal thinking that basically says, “Children confused in their gender should align with homosexuality as soon as possible.” Both of these reactions are incorrect, unloving, and unbiblical.
Then, what is correct, loving, and biblical? This is part of answering the “why” questions. Let me share a bit of what I’ve learned on this subject, in what’s called the developmental model.
Starting at birth, it’s a mother’s job to nurture and protect her children. However, a boy must move past this protection. He CAN’T grow and mature into a man and remain a boy. In order for a boy to start launching into manhood, he must push away from his mother. When Seth was about two, I remember my wife crying to me, “He doesn’t love me anymore! He thinks you hung the moon!” I replied, “Sweetie, he’s supposed to separate from you. Didn’t you know? I did hang the moon.”
Over the years, I’ve seen a pattern called the “kitchen-window-boy.” Mom’s little boy is scared and yet, for whatever reasons, he’s not running to Dad to embrace what Dad has to offer. Instead, the little boy remains afraid and attached to Mom. He’s also often Mom’s closest relationship, instead of her husband.
I vividly remember this occurring when I was a boy. I remember looking at my dad and not knowing what to think of him. I was really not a part of his life. I always wondered why he didn’t play with me in the creeks, or with my Legos, or whatever I was into. He was into his things and I was into mine. We lived two very separate lives. I was so envious of my sister, who always seemed to have Mom and Dad’s attention. I put my sister’s dresses on, wondering what it was like to be her. Consequently, I’d be around strong boys and fearful of them, yet very much envious.
Putting on my sister’s clothes seemed to be an unusual response to being scared and feeling isolated. I later discovered that my thoughts and feelings were actually very common among men that ended up developing same-sex attractions. We didn’t understand or connect with our dads, which led to our not identifying as “one of the boys.” Instead, we feared and typically very much envied them. These interactions in young children enforced the lie that they were “different.”
One reason many homosexuals believe they are born gay is because of interactions that occurred prior to five years old, which is earlier than most people are able to consciously remember. So, when a person says, “All I ever remember is feeling different,” then their assumption is they were born this way. This is NOT about parents causing homosexual attractions. It is how a person interprets their environment, of how they felt they measured up to everyone else, and where they fit in with their same-sex peers.
Contrary to many people’s speculations, not all people who have been sexually molested develop same-sex attractions or become gay-identified. (This topic is so important topic, it needs more attention.)
A key issue in the development of male same-sex attraction, is a lack of separating from Mom and attaching to Dad. With women, it’s somewhat more complicated. Girls are not supposed to leave mom, but rather, bond with Mom, as well as be blessed in her femininity by Dad.
Alan Medinger states in his book, Growth into Manhood, that boys who develop same-sex (sexual) attractions did not go through the phase that is commonly known as adolescence. This is the period when boys prove themselves to themselves and others, developing a sense of self. In turn, this helps them to believe they are equal to their peers. The kitchen-window-boy is too fearful to launch out and engage in rough play, or even if he does, he still remains feeling isolated from his father and other males. A boy who “feels different” can begin to see males as more “other” than “same.” In puberty this “otherness” can become sexualized. If not appropriately dealt with, these feelings will continue into adulthood.
When a child doesn’t know that other children have insecurities, they feel “different.” When they feel different, they often isolate themselves—and often others shun them because of their supposed differentness. This isolation breeds more internalizing of their feelings, causing them to fixate on their perceived inadequacies. Many people have experienced these same patterns, without developing homosexual attractions. Instead, they might deal with hyper-masculinity, or hyper-femininity within women, where they feel they have to prove their sexuality through flirting, sexual conquests, and/or pornography. Some turn to gambling, drinking, drugs, and other forms of escape. Others seem to develop normally, but their issues are just not as obvious.
As followers of Christ, we are to continuously admit our struggles, temptations, and failures, AND surrender them to God. Ever-straight men and women are not encumbered with trying to understand their gender—this already developed naturally in their life. For those of us where this did not happen, we must do two things simultaneously: not surrender to what may feel natural—same-sex sexual attractions—while also learning to intimately trust our same-sex in healthy relationships so we can “become.”
In order for any of us to become the man or woman God created us to be, we must deny our flesh, take up our cross, and follow Him. In this way our needs WILL be satisfied, and when we are satisfied, we mature. Maturing is much more satisfying than fixating and worshiping another.
The truth is that no one chooses to have homosexual thoughts, feelings, or attractions, but each are faced with what to do with them. The important thing is—you or your son or daughter are not alone. We are here for you and your family. You have someone to talk with who understands.
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