Working the Emotional Roots of Homosexuality - Part 7
By Robert Schaeffer
Stop Settling for Things as They Seem to Be
Many people with homosexual desire have settled for things as they seem to be. By this I mean that they have resigned themselves to "being" a certain way or to situations that just won't change. They identify with their sin as though it were who they are. They speak of their failures, sin pattern, ungodly reactions, disposition and moods as though these were unchangeable. To settle means to accept or defend something rather than turning from and renouncing it. Years of painful experiences and unhealthy reactions make it difficult to see beyond the present condition; they feel they can't or won't develop another perspective. Sometimes they become defensive if this is pointed out. They may even reject the counsel you are giving them. This is beyond a passive resignation-this is identification with and justification of a bad viewpoint.
I have been working for several years with a counselee who has this problem. If he sees a man whom he finds attractive, the fellow will follow him off the subway or bus to make a connection. I have told my counselee to stay on the bus or train and look away when this happens, or even to move to another car. I've also said to prepare for these moments by developing a plan of action that is godly rather than just going with his feelings. Each time I counseled him on this matter, he just sighed and said, "I hear you but I know myself and what I will do." This seeming inability to consider a different course of action is not only the result of demonic oppression but also of settling for rather than resisting sin. As in Job's case, it is justifying himself rather than God.
Other examples of settling for things as they are or seem to be include not wanting to try something new for fear of failure or rejection, continuing to think of yourself as dumb or limited simply because some unloving person labeled you as such, hiding behind a medical diagnosis (eg. bi-polar or attention deficit disorder) rather than making an attempt to work on your emotions, praying for God's help rather than determining in prayer to set out on a new course of action, accusing others of insensitivity and demanding pity or leniency because of your condition or situation, telling people that they just don't understand. I am not saying that some situations are not serious or difficult but rather that when a person pulls back from trying to change they may have settled for it.
Settling for things stifles progress precisely because it shuts a person down when they need to rise up and declare a new course. It holds a person in the same unreality and false identity that had been put on them in childhood and which are roots of homosexual desire. Not only does it give the mind reason to justify sin but it also keeps the emotions locked deep inside. Settling for something limits your vision and often stirs anger or resentment in those who really want to change but feel incapable of success. Settling for something is usually the cloak self-pity drapes itself with against the cold wind of challenge. When you settle for something, you will find it increasingly difficult to receive truth because you get locked into a single, skewed view of reality that has been warped by pain. This mindset does not want to receive the truth but rather prefers to do something evil rather than consider a different course of action. Sometimes, it prefers to do nothing at all.
People settle for things as they are or seem to be for a variety of reasons. The frustration of being labeled as queer or weird can lead a child to believe that he/she really must be unacceptable if others say so. Against such accusations and name-calling the child feels overwhelmed and unable to make the abuse stop. Some just give up trying and come to the conclusion that they are destined for a life of rejection. Parents, authority figures or peers can teach children to resign themselves to bad situations and "just get by with whatever works". Fear of harsh punishment can cause a child to keep silent and give up; abuse can crush the spirit and dampen the drive to try new things and relate to different people. Settling for second-best keeps a person from discovering and using his/her unique gifts and talents. It generally produces sadness and disappointment, sapping the joy and enthusiasm out of living. On the other hand, pity from others and special allowances or treatment can become addictive if it seems like kindness or love and makes the child feel "special". (Remember, the behavior, no matter how ungodly, that brings relief from the pain is the thing that will be the most difficult to give up.) The more a child practices this type of resignation or currying favor, the more the will is weakened and Satan's influence increased. As this happens, the homosexual fantasy or behavior appears as the answer, an easily accessible way to numb the pain. The more the person stays in unreality and chooses the "fix", the harder it will be to get to the buried emotions which are the true root of the problem.
The first step in breaking out of this bondage is to acknowledge the problem. This may happen after you have been challenged by one or more people whom God has raised up to show you that you have wrongly settled for a bad situation or diagnosis. Rather than curse these people you should think about what they say. Their refusal to go along with your take on things is not a sign that they are insensitive to your needs or that they never take your side. Rather, it may well be proof that God has prompted them to challenge you so that you will come out of unreality and see things as they really are. Even though you can't perceive or grasp a solution from within this crippling perspective, the Lord and others can! Don't retreat into silence or isolation as you usually do but rather stay engaged in the conversation. Ask them to clarify or explain what they mean. Catch yourself when you go into the same old tirade or angry rebuttal and stop. Ask the Lord to open your mind to see what you have never been able to see before. Don't feel embarrassed or ashamed if your sin pattern is pointed out. Thank God and yield to His plan for your freedom. Even King David had to go through this "awakening" after he had sinned with Bathsheba. The Lord is not punishing you or adding more frustration to your life even though that is exactly how it may feel. He is piercing the darkness with a glorious shaft of light that is meant to bring a new perspective. Remember, it may not be apparent at first that you have settled for things so God will take the first step to help you break the power of settling for that which is unhealthy.
Check the way you pray. If your pattern is to go no further in prayer than to ask God for help or plead your helplessness, there is a problem. I am learning that it is not easy for people in homosexuality to pray. The years of sinful behavior in body and mind strengthen an already perverted view of God and trigger a false view of self that make it hard for the person to connect with the Lord. Coming into His presence merely to ask for help can actually leave some people feeling helpless and without hope. Why? Because they approach the throne of grace with a victim mentality, emotionally settling for being unacceptable to others and without power to change and not really expecting God to do anything good for them. The scripture reminds us that we do not have because we do not ask or because we ask wrongly, without assurance that God will answer positively (cf. James 1:6-8).
Don't pray, "Take away my homosexual desire" because He usually doesn't and you will be discouraged as the feelings remain. Instead, pray, "Lord, as I stand against homosexual temptation, put me in touch with my buried emotions. As you do, meet me in my journal and make the connections I need to see and where these desires come from." Don't pray, "It hurts so much when she criticizes me, so help me to feel better." Instead, pray, "I choose to believe that I am not as insignificant or incapable of right thinking as she makes me feel. I choose to ignore her comments and remind myself that You have given me a tremendous mind that is being set free from fear and self-criticism." Don't pray, "God, I know that I am a great sinner but please give me one more chance." Instead, pray, "Lord, you understand the guilt I feel because of my sin but Your mercy triumphs over judgment. I declare that I am forgiven through my confession and that You will show me the reason I went for the sin so that I can uproot this evil desire."
You do not have to beg God to help you or even to love you. God is love and has pledged to help you. Don't give in to lying feelings that make you feel too dirty or unacceptable for the Lord to love. These are emotional lies that Satan wants you to believe so that you feel condemned and want to commit homosexual sex or fantasy to escape the pain. Resist these lies! You are more loved than you can imagine or feel, and God is with you each second of the day as a friend and helper. He will give you the wisdom you need for each situation. As you take a step-even a small one-the Father in heaven will encourage you and bring a new perspective. You can trust Him to be there when you need Him! Things will begin to change for the better.
Give up the emotional "comfort" you feel when you settle for things as they are or seem to be. Be willing to endure the discomfort of coming out of this place of ungodly mental and emotional relief. That place may seem safe but in reality it is a place of great danger. Satan dwells in the darkness of unreality and lies. You are under the influence of his kingdom when you stay in anger, self-pity and hopelessness. The situation remains depressing when you continue to rehearse the emotional lies that make things seem impossible. It is much better to turn from the "fix" and feel the pain of being rejected or criticized or passed over or wrongly accused. These feelings are buried within you from childhood and must come out and be conquered through truth if you are to be set free. I know that you feel helpless to change, but that frustration is rooted in not having anyone to offer help or counsel when you were small and in seeing your good attempts thwarted by the sins of others. But God is not like your abusers. He wants you to trust Him and try to do the thing He puts in front of you. It will not be more than you are capable of. He will meet you where you are and start from there.
Recently, the counselee that I mentioned at the beginning of this article saw a man he was attracted to on the commute home. This time, rather than follow him off the train, my counselee decided to stay in the car and go home. As the man got off and the train moved on, my counselee felt angry that he hadn't gotten off with him, but he rode this out and made his way home. Strong emotions flared and sexual desire stirred but he didn't give in. He had taken a step in a new direction. This is a start. Don't give up your dreams and divine calling in order to pursue fleshly pleasure and sensual relief. Stop settling for anything less than freedom.