Working the Emotional Roots of Homosexuality - Part 1
By Robert Schaeffer
Since the primary cause of homosexuality is ungodly reaction to pain in childhood, a major part of counseling toward freedom focuses on cleaning out buried negative emotions. We refer to this as “working the emotions”. The point of the pain in childhood or adolescence is the point of the addiction. The mind of the sensitive child exposed to severe pain develops warped patterns of thought that reflect the child’s inability to reason in the face of overwhelming circumstances. Thus, the ungodly emotions become the child’s sole source of guidance. Furthermore, the child’s identity and concept of God are distorted by the messages which the pain calls forth, leaving the child in the bondage of falsehood and lies. Many times the child feels alienated from God and His Truth, and He cannot be seen as a God who loves but rather as a God who hurts, abandons and punishes. In this state it is difficult to receive love and relate to others, bringing further pain and isolation to the child. The negative emotions connect to the emerging sex drive at puberty, and the adolescent finds him/herself involuntarily attracted to certain members of the same sex, with whom he/she feels safe or acceptable.
Time does not heal all wounds. Homosexuality is characterized by arrested emotional development, that is, the emotions are stunted at the age at which the pain began or the age at which he/she became his/her own parent. Because of this arrested emotional development, the person does not feel ready to approach the opposite sex because of feeling unaccepted by the same sex. As an adult, the person continues to have the same ungodly emotional reactions to pain as in childhood. In other words, the resources for dealing with life remain those of a hurt, alienated child. It is apparent that homosexuality is not a temporary phase some children pass through on their progress toward heterosexuality. Arrested emotional development does not correct itself. Satan builds a stronghold in the emotions as the person continues to practice sin in order to find relief. Sexual sin seems to quiet the painful emotions for a brief time. Sin becomes “sweet” to those who have not practiced a godly reaction to pain, who only react as a confused, angry child. Feeling sick of one’s sin, practicing celibacy or even contracting a sexually transmitted disease will not uproot homosexual desire or identity. No amount of prayer, fasting, covenanting to resist sin, accountability or memorization of scripture alone will excavate the emotional roots of homosexuality. The “motor” of this evil desire is emotional and must be dealt with directly (and correctly) if there is to be freedom.
Connecting Mind to Emotions
One of the first things that must be done to uproot homosexual desire is to pray for God to connect the person’s rational mind to the buried negative irrational emotions. By this we mean for the person to be made aware of the emotions which are directly connected to the sex drive and to which the person has an ungodly reaction. During childhood, the intensity of negative emotions such as fear, anger, hatred, jealousy, abandonment, rejection, confusion, panic, loneliness, etc. felt overwhelming to the sensitive child. The young mind was unable to deal with such things in a mature, healthy manner. Having little or no spiritual covering provided by parents, and with only his/her own taxed mind to provide counsel, the child did not have godly reactions to pain. The rational mind separated more and more from reality as the child went into fantasy because of the painful emotions and made survival choices that were sinful and unhealthy.
With this separation of mind and emotions comes confusion and unreality which form the basis of bad behavior that eventually becomes addictive. Because of the pain, truth is not easily received. A place develops in the mind which rejects God’s counsel and defines evil as good. Because the mind is in unreality, the ability to perceive a situation rightly is seriously inhibited, and the emotions become the first consideration. In the face of a harsh world, the wounded child feels that God’s Truth just won’t work and prefers instead unreality. The problem is not that this child is slow to learn or mentally impaired but rather that he/she is under such stress because of the pain and the mind focuses on unreality as an escape. The rational mind shuts down when powerful negative emotions are stirred. Prayer is needed to begin opening the place of pain that was closed in as the child pushed his/her emotions down because of fear of punishment, abuse or ridicule. The child also did not want to reveal his/her ungodly reactions to pain because it makes the child feel that all the bad things spoken over him/her would be confirmed.
In order to facilitate this reconnection of mind and emotions, journaling is recommended—writing out one’s feelings and desires in a notebook. This allows the mind to articulate the pain and the ungodly reaction to it. For years these have gone unexpressed and remained hidden, and at puberty connected to the sex drive. Journaling makes it possible to process these emotions rather than mindlessly join in with them. It also helps the person to admit that traumatic things actually happened and should no longer be denied. Further, writing slows the mind down, allowing the person to get in touch with buried emotions and to see them in the light of God’s Truth. Journaling provides a “safe place” to express thoughts and desires that are ugly, perverted and shameful.
The Lord is present at each journaling session to guide and draw forth the feelings that must be cleaned out. He will never give us more than we can bear as we access these painful emotions. It is important that we write what God has to say about our pain and ungodly reactions to it. There is no question that we have a great investment in our ungodly reactions to pain. Therefore, most of us will have difficulty writing what God says about our ungodly reactions for we prefer to justify our sin because we have been unfairly treated or abused. But it is vital that we write God’s Truth about the situation! Looking at the pain for years solely from our viewpoint has twisted or skewed our perception of what actually happened and what God says will be the answer. The turning point comes when we agree with God about the situation and renounce our ungodly reactions and justification of sin because of the pain we suffered. Then there must be prayer to cast out the demonic power that was layered in the emotions because our ungodly reactions to pain were unconfessed sin. The journal becomes the place for catharsis and confession, and most importantly, a conscious choice of a godly response to pain. It is the place where lies are replaced with Truth and that Truth is worked into the emotions.
Breaking the Power of Passivity
Another thing that must be done to uproot homosexual desire is break the power of passivity over the mind and will. Passivity, that is, the cessation of the active exercise of the will in control over spirit, soul and body (Jesse Penn-Lewis, War on the Saints. New York: Thomas E. Lowe Ltd. 1994, p. 69), is characteristic of many in homosexuality. Passivity is the non-use of the resources God gave us to fight evil. It gives ground to deceiving spirits which will attempt to use any faculty in the person not controlled by the Spirit. Passivity is not merely inactivity or idleness. Penn-Lewis explains:
In normal inactivity, that is, when the evil spirits have not taken hold, the inactive
person is always holding himself ready for activity; whereas in ‘passivity’ which
has given place to the powers of darkness, the person is unable to act by his own
volition…God requires co-operation with His Spirit, and the full use of every
faculty of the whole man. In brief, the powers of darkness aim at obtaining a
passive slave, or captive to their will; whilst God desires a regenerated man, in-
telligently and actively will-ing, and choosing, and doing His will in liberation of
spirit, soul and body from slavery. (p. 70)
The chief cause for passivity in homosexuality is centered in the emotions. A child is born into the world with all kinds of gifts. These gifts are never completely annihilated by the sinful behavior of parents or peers but they are suppressed and covered by the child’s ungodly reaction to pain. When a child is powerless to stop criticism, sexual abuse, continual rejection, teasing, favoritism, divorce or death, he/she tends to believe that life is harsh, unfair and unmanageable. The child feels that he/she deserves cruel treatment, or that life will just be bad. The disappointed child comes to see God as someone who will always “pull the rug out from under me” and will “always let me down”. The child may believe they are “marked” for abuse and disrespect. Ultimately, the child becomes negative, hopeless and lonely, feeling no one will help and no one cares. This child dwells in the emotions which become an unrealistic place of refuge. The mind shuts down and the child joins in with the ungodly emotions making a place where sin can take root and Satan can take ground. This inevitably leads to sin rather than the godly exercise of spiritual gifts.
When this happens, the passive person justifies sin and leaves it unconfessed because of not wanting to face the pain. This inevitably gives the enemy a place of greater influence in the mind from which to tempt and enslave. By continually rehearsing grievances against God, the passive person is deceived into thinking that homosexuality holds forth the possibility for love, success, lasting happiness, and security. By never wresting control of the mind from Satan, the person remains in addiction, justifying homosexual fantasy or activity as “irresistable”. If the place where these demonized emotions are stored is never cleaned out, the person will continue to practice the same ungodly reactions to pain and temptation.
Our Lord knows that the person in passivity needs special help to come against the lying emotions, twisted thinking, and false concepts of self and God that contribute to the addiction of homosexuality. He brings the person to see that passivity is the real problem, and encourages the person to renounce it. As the person does and submits to deliverance, God drives out demonic powers from the mind thus makes it possible for the person to break the demonic seal on the place where emotions are stored. This allows the person to work the emotions and make new choices where once they felt helpless to resist evil. But these prayers are not the end of the work, for if the person joins with the lying emotions again, Satan has an opportunity to return and take ground. After deliverance, the emotional work must follow! The person must exercise his/her will to say “No!” to the sinful desires of the flesh and “Yes!” to the ways of the Lord.
The journal is a powerful tool for bringing the person into a new relationship with the world, self and God. It is a place where empowerment happens and trust is developed. It is here that the person gets in touch with ungodly emotions in a productive way, declaring them real but untrue. In the journal, the person establishes new patterns of relating to old emotions. By exchanging deep-seated lies for liberating truths, Satan’s stronghold is demolished. The person that develops a consistent time of meeting God in the journal will begin to see reality as a place of safety and freedom—a broad place to enjoy rather than a prison of pain to escape. God will set the person up to succeed in gaining small victories over challenging situations and thereby generate enthusiasm and hope. This move from “strength to strength” makes it possible to cast off the false identity of helpless victim once and for all, and to embrace the true identity of mighty victor. The person who exercises his/her will to choose God’s will finds the reservoir of negative emotions gradually cleaned out and the heart healed of past wounds. A new pattern of victory over sin emerges! Passivity, though a tangible condition of bondage, can be broken by working its emotional roots.