A New Response to Pain - Part 1
By Robert Schaeffer
Homosexual attraction, the evil desire for unhealthy same-sex relationship or contact, develops in children and pre-adolescents largely as a result of practiced ungodly reactions to pain. As a child experiences pain and emotional upset, the temptation to seek an unhealthy, ungodly way to make the pain go away will loom large. The more the child gives in to these ungodly suggestions, the more he/she opens to spiritual evil. Gradually, a kingdom of evil and lies is built in the child's emotions and mind that conspires to present sin as something good, safe, necessary, irresistible, necessary or pleasurable. Before the child enters puberty, he/she has already begun to practice certain non-sexual sins as a way to alleviate or avoid pain. Thus, at the threshold of puberty, the child is filled with a deep pool of stored emotional distress that these sin patterns are powerless to drain. In fact, the sinful behavior insures that the pain will only increase. This is because the pain has twisted the child's concept of self, thinking he/she is bad seed, hypocritical, a problem, a disappointment, weird, unlovable, perverted, etc. At puberty, the awakening sexual desire connects to this pool of stored emotions in the child, living with a false concept of self, to produce a desire for evil, counterfeit sex that masquerades as intimacy. Because sex is motivated by emotions, the ungodly emotions motivate ungodly sex. The lack of familial intimacy makes the concept of intimacy warped and the person becomes needy in the area of intimacy.
It is clear to those of us working to help people find freedom from homosexual desire that we must work at the level of the buried painful emotions. More specifically, we must help a person understand and admit his/her ungodly response to the emotionally distressing experiences of early life, and encourage them to repent and choose a godly response when they experience pain now. One method that has been fruitful in breaking a compulsive reaction to pain is to enable the counselee to distinguish between different types of pain. This approach trains a person to reason, to train the mind in examining and pondering over a situation as God would have us do, rather than simply having an emotional reaction to situations that cause upset. Over the course of the next several issues we will discuss the various types of suffering that people in homosexuality have experienced and give suggestions toward practicing a new response to each.
Type 1: The Pain of Living in a Fallen World
Many of the hurts we experience are the result of sin in the world: practiced by self, other individuals, groups, institutions (such as businesses, agencies, governments, religious bodies, etc.); inflicted intentionally or unintentionally; endured temporarily or chronically. It is a fact of life that through one man, sin entered the world and has brought a degree of pain and suffering into the world that continues unabated. Backbiting, name-calling, cheating, abandonment, jealousy, stealing, beating, rape, incest, violence and favoritism are only a few of the sins our counselees have known.
Many recipients of sinful treatment need help in discerning when the pain they feel is the result of someone else's sins. What is obvious to others is not apparent to the person who has taken on the identity of being a problem or other such false identity. Many people have been so demeaned and shamed that they instinctively take the blame for any painful experience they recall. This is inappropriate. If you are having trouble discerning whether your pain is the result of sin in the world, consider the following questions about the hurtful incident or words:
Was it an obvious violation of a Biblical commandment, law, moral principle, godly example or divine pronouncement?
Was its purpose to edify and encourage or to tear down and defeat?
Was the perpetrator in an irrational state such as anger, jealousy, hatred, rage, fear, panic, disappointment, confusion, frustration, compulsion, etc.?
Did my irrational or ungodly behavior, attitude or speech provoke the person? If so, did the person overreact? Was their response in proportion to the offense?
Is there a pattern or history of this behavior in the perpetrator's life?
Do other objective, wise Christian witnesses agree that is was not my fault?
Does it trigger in me false guilt? (If so, then I am the one having an inappropriate response.)
Was it a violation of appropriate boundaries?
Is it something I have grown accustomed to and think is "normal"?
Have I taken it to the Lord in prayer and asked Him to reveal its true nature?
Have I journaled about it?
Have I become emotionally dependent on the supposed "perpetrator"?
Have I asked the Holy Spirit to convict me of any sin I may have committed?
Did it trigger an inappropriate thought pattern in me (eg. Exaggeration, all-or-nothing thinking, negativity, self-justification, blame-shifting, etc.)?
If it becomes apparent that the suffering you are undergoing is the result of sin, then it is important to respond in a way that is approved by God for dealing with sin. Unrighteous means for dealing with unrighteousness will not be blessed by God. They are a sure formula for multiplying sin and pain in your life and the lives of others. God will not bless an ungodly response, even if we can find reason to justify it. Remember, the homosexual desires remain when we continue to practice an ungodly response to pain! Here are a few suggestions for breaking the power of a childish, sinful reaction to pain and suffering:
Sit with the Lord and a journal and think about your pain rather than run with or from it. Don't keep giving in to the urge to go to a "fix" to quiet the pain. Face it and God will teach you how to master it.
Write out your pain rather than stuff it down or rationalize it away or spiritualize it. Get in touch with the raw emotions the incident stirred. Look at your reaction after you have written about it and pray for the Lord to reveal your own sinful reactions.
Repent of self-pity, victim mentality, overreacting, denial, hypersensitivity, plotting revenge, hatred, violence, disrespect and any other sinful reaction you have had in the past to suffering of this type.
If you have never done so, establish healthy boundaries between yourself and other people. Begin to individuate from others so that you can learn to stand rather than crumble in the face of someone else's sin.
If you have never done so, begin to speak out forthrightly when you are hurt by other people. God will be with you to grant you success in manageable situations so that you will gain confidence. Additionally, the more you speak out, the more people will begin to respect you and cease from mistreating you.
If you have lashed out at people who have hurt you, begin to keep your tongue from harsh words. Trust that God will defend you and make your innocence apparent. Stop all personal attacks on others. Try to deal only with the hurt and your hope of reconciliation. If you have done wrong, be quick to apologize.
Separate from your abusers as much as you are able so that you may find healing and your true identity in Christ.
Stop blaming God for the sins that other people commit. Put the blame where it belongs!
Seek understanding about the history, motives, personal stories of the people who hurt you. They are not the abuse they commit, but rather they are people just like you who have had their share of trouble and suffering too. The more you know about them, the more likely you will be to develop compassion and patience, and forgiveness, toward them.
Seek your comfort and defense in the Lord rather than a sinful "fix".
Pray for the Lord to sever the connection between your negative, buried emotions and your sex drive, so that you can choose a godly response to pain.
Use legal means when appropriate to promote justice.
Do not rush too quickly to forgive the offender. This may be a shallow spiritual exercise that will not uproot your false concept of self or drain the pool of stored negative emotions. Before you can truly and permanently forgive someone, you must change.
Accept the present suffering with gratitude, knowing that God is working out of you the old ungodly patterns so that you might be free indeed to love.
The Lord is with those who have been unjustly wronged. He feels your pain because He knows what it is like to be victimized, slandered, rejected, beaten, abandoned, tortured, vilified, distrusted, mocked and hated. He will not cast you out if you have been sinned against. If you seek His face and repent, He will cleanse you of all sin and break its compulsive hold on your life. There is no reason to pull away from the Lord. He is not your enemy, but your friend! Our God will teach you the right way to deal with those who sin against you, and you will find that a powerful root of your homosexual desires will be cut by this new response to pain.