Facts of Life

Facts of Life
By Robert Schaeffer

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from parents is why does one sibling develop homosexual feelings while others may not. Many parents are convinced that the child in question must have been born with a homosexual orientation. (This argument seems to take on extra weight if another member of the extended family also has homosexual feelings.) However, the finest scientific research has not found any indisputable evidence of a genetic basis for homosexuality. The desire for homosexual sex is not passed on from one person to another, like a disease passed on from a carrier to an unsuspecting victim. What is passed on generationally is not homosexuality but the propensity to sin, which wounds, perverts and destroys and which sets up a person to find an ungodly way to make the pain go away.

Let’s look at a few important factors in the life of certain children that must not be overlooked if we are to find the roots of homosexual feelings and desires. {All of these factors need not be present in the child for homosexual feelings to occur.}

First, each child’s personality is unique. Just ask any parent with two or more children! Some boys and girls are more sensitive than others. This is by God’s design: such persons so gifted make great listeners, encouragers, counselors and pastors. However, the sensitive child tends to get hurt faster and more easily than others. The sensitive child runs the risk of experiencing things as more painful, threatening, frightening, dangerous and more overwhelming than they actually are. Consider two daughters. The first one cries if Dad looks at her with a cross glance, while the second is oblivious to such facial expressions. Sensitive children like the former are prone to develop hypersensitivity. They are hurt very deeply by the ridicule, rejection, conflict, illness, neglect, yelling, fear or trauma they face in a fallen world. The initial pain of these things is tagged in the memory as “very bad”. This tag is what the brain will call up later when a similar incident presents itself. The present pain will be intensified by the memory of the previous pain. The child’s threshhold of pain is lowered because of the exaggerated impressions of the first incident. Very soon the child will try to avoid anything he/she thinks will bring pain (bypersensitivity), and constantly will be on thee lookout for potentially hurtful words, looks, behavior and actions (hypervigilance). This hypersensitivity is the doorway into confusion, shame, doubt, dread, feeling overwhelmed or trapped, paranoia, isolation and hopelessness.

Second, no two children perceive their environment in exactly the same way. Each child will interpret experiences in a way that is slightly—or greatly—different from other children in the family. As one of my seminary professors put it, no two children are from the same family! What is frightening to one child may not be frightening to another. A parent’s raised voice may signal something to one sibling that is completely the opposite from what it signals to another. How often have you heard two siblings arguing that the other one was really the favored child in the home! Perceptions are a major factor in explaining much if not most of a child’s patterns of thinking and behavior. It is what he/she thinks that determines how he/she acts. Someone has said that the truth is not as important as what people think is the truth because they act on what they think is true. For many children, the thing that shapes thoughts and perceptions of reality are the emotions. Emotions are very real, but the message they give is often not true. This perception, when molded by unexpressed negative emotions which Satan capitalizes on and into which he whispers awful things to intensify the pain, most often is way out of line with reality.

Third, some children are treated differently from their siblings by their parents and peers. This can make a child feel different from others especially when that treatment involves being labeled as not like siblings or normal boys and girls. Several years ago, LIFE Ministry spoke at a meeting of church presbytery that was divided about the response the church should make regarding homosexuality. One grandmother, rising to object to the teaching that homosexuality is not an inborn condition said, “We know that our grandson was different from other boys since the time he was three years old. We knew then that he would be gay.” It is important that you understand that there is a world of difference between saying that a boy is different from other boys in temperament, interests, play habits, likes and dislikes, and saying that because of these differences, he is homosexual. Uniqueness, particularly when it manifests itself in behavior and interests that are not typically (or should I say, stereotypically!) “boyish”, does not mean that boy is homosexual. There are plenty of men whose interests do not conform to the majority of other males. However, they are every bit as heterosexual.

To label a child homosexual is to impose a false identity on the child. Parents who believe that their child exhibits homosexual tendencies often tend to treat that child as if he/she were homosexual. It must be said that in America, sports can contribute to this. An artistic boy born into a sports-minded family often finds it difficult to be honest about his preferences especially when siblings are outstanding in sports. Such boys are often teased or rejected because of their artistic interests. On the contrary, a girl who excels in sports may be labeled a “tomboy” and identify her abilities as more masculine than feminine. Being singled out among siblings as different can lead to the development of a homosexual identity.

Some parents encourage a child to pursue homosexuality as a way of finding true identity and happiness. Their affirming words remove the stigma of being homosexual and yet push the child into a lifestyle fraught with heartache and destruction. More conservative-minded parents may resent the assumed homosexual mannerisms of the child and treat him/her with scorn, contempt or embarrassment. This adds feelings of shame and guilt which together with rejection, are generally suppressed in the sensitive child. As the child grows, the pain does not go away, but rather warps thought patterns and leads to a false concept of self and God. As both of these children enter puberty, the one who is encouraged in an assumed homosexuality and the one who is discouraged—in each of them the unprocessed emotions and lies connect to the sex drive. The difference will be that the former will find it easier to live with this false identity than the latter. Both are trapped in an addiction that neither initiated.

Fourth, because of differing personalities, perceptions and treatment, children will have unique responses to their environment. For some children, speaking up and joining in a conversation comes easily. For other children, it does not. Several reasons may explain this: natural gifting toward leadership, positive role-modeling by parents, superior intelligence. Another important element is encouragement. Is the child affirmed when he/she speaks out? Do parents create an environment where such speaking is considered a positive behavior and worthy of reward? Do friends accept the child as a peer? These factors remove this discussion beyond the simple idea of extroversion or introversion. To a large degree, a child’s reactions to his/her environment are learned behavior. Consider how even a gifted child can be shamed into silence and isolation. How tragic this is. The growing child will learn that certain behaviors are either good or bad based upon the reactions of the significant others around them, particularly parents—both parents! (It is an oversimplification to suggest that homosexuality develops exclusively because of a deficit of love from the same-sex parent.) When a child takes on a false perception/identity and is self-conscious around family or peers, that child will be afraid to be himself/herself and will “hide” his/her real thoughts and preferences. Thus, the child will feel bound up and unable to relax. Shame and guilt put upon the child become the false identity the child cannot shake off and which is unpleasant or unbearable to live with. This adds stress and self-loathing to the child and in response, he/she goes into an inner world of unreality and fantasy. This inhibits mastering social skills.

Fifth, some children experience gender confusion at an early age. Gender confusion is an uncertainty or rejection upon acting and thinking in ways appropriate to one’s gender or sex. A boy may know he is male but not feel very masculine. A girl may know she is female but act very masculine. The child who experiences gender confusion usually sees himself/herself more like the members of the opposite sex in thinking, feeling, relating, walking, talking, laughing, etc. This condition often begins in early childhood. A common cause of gender confusion is generational sin, or the passing on of sin patterns and demonic power from elders to children. If criticism or ridicule is relentless, especially about a child’s sexuality, serious gender confusion may occur. Another common cause is the presence of a smothering or controlling mother. One major source of gender confusion is reaction to a harsh or abusive father which brings the boy to a place off modeling after his mother and spending most of his time with females. He then can take on the emotions and gestures of his mother or sisters. Also, if the child is told that the parents actually wanted a child of the opposite sex, ot the opposite sex parent tells the child he/she is more like that parent, or the child is labeled as “tomboy” (girl) or “patsy” (boy), gender confusion may develop. A boy who overhears his parents tell others that he is the “girl we always wanted” will begin to wonder if he really is a normal boy. The deep-seated feelings of inferiority or self-loathing or envy connect to the emerging sex drive. At puberty, instead of being attracted romantically to the opposite sex, this child is drawn to members of the same sex.

Sixth, the child’s relationship with peers can contribute inordinately to the development of a false identity. Merciless teasing because of a physical condition, or because of unfashionable or hand-me-down clothing, or lagging in athletic ability (usually boys) or excelling in athletic ability (usually girls), or a multitude of other things that peers judge as weird or queer will cause the child to feel pain and rejection. The awkward child does not take risks because he/she fears harsh teasing or ridicule. Tension and fear affect the way this child moves and talks in school. Other children see this and often pounce on the child rather than treating him/her with love and understanding. The child is called queer or weird or stupid and as much as the child hates this after a while he/she begins to believe that is what he/she actually is. Thus, the child is further hindered in developing healthy social skills. In addition, trauma can cause the inability to think in school resulting in the child being falsely considered stupid.

This child usually stores up the pain inside and isolates to find a place of refuge or peace. If this child finds acceptance among other children who are also ostracized, a strong bond will develop among these “misfits”. If another member or the entire group has homosexual feelings, the child will feel like he/she finally fits in somewhere. There is a false comfort in being with people who are just as much misfits as the child perceives him/herself to be. This peer group can exert great influence on the wounded child, bolstering the twisted ideas about his/her identity and sexual orientation that the child already perceives.

Seventh, the birth order of a child also can play role in the development of homosexual attractions. More specifically, the way parents and siblings react to the child because of the order of his/her birth. For example, first-born children are often treated as “the more responsible one” in the family, and are expected to set a good example for or assist in the care of the other children. This can add undue pressure and stress to the first-born and deprive that child of the carefree environment that should attend his/her early like. If a first-born child is held up to inordinately high expectations and strict discipline, this may cause the child to slip into perfectionism in an attempt to please the parents or feel like he/she deserves their approval. It may, on the other hand, cause a child to sour on the idea of being good if he/she sees younger, less responsible siblings getting favor from parents without discipline or regardless of their shortcomings. Last-born children are sometimes pampered by parents who see them being teased by older siblings. This can cause them to take on the identity of a victim—someone who needs to be protected by a stronger party. Some last-born children feel that they were not wanted, that they were an “accident” and are not really valuable or have the right to exist. Others
who grow up in a home where one or both parents complain about the unmanageable amount of work having so many children cause can likewise take on false guilt and the stigma of being a burden. When internalized these negative stored emotions contribute to a false identity that is hard for the child to live with. These negative emotions foster a desire to do evil, and later at puberty can connect with the sex drive.

Eighth, certain children are the objects of demonic attack because of being spiritually gifted and called to God’s work. The Bible speaks of certain individuals who were chosen by God from before their birth for a specific task in the Kingdom: Isaac, Moses, Jeremiah, John, the Baptist and, of course, Jesus. The Bible warns that Satan prowls around like a roaring lion seeking souls to devour and chief among his targets are those gifted and called for leadership in the Kingdom. Certain children are therefore attacked from a very early age—some while still in the womb—by the devil. He seeks to turn them from the living God and to destroy them. He takes advantage of their sensitivity and uses pain to confuse and isolate. The child who copes with pain by withdrawing from people and going into an inner world of thoughts and feelings is at great risk of believing Satan’s lies as truth. Some children are born into families already under attack by the devil; families that have the potential to do great things for God but through generational and ethnic sin patterns have given Satan a foothold. When a child is born into this situation, where there is generally no spiritual covering over the family through prayer and godly male leadership, the child is vulnerable to demonic seduction.

Twenty-five years of counseling people seeking freedom from homosexuality have shown us the reasons why some children develop homosexual feelings while other do not. Unprocessed painful experiences in a child’s early life (environmental factors) can lead to buried emotions, twisted thinking, a false perception of self and God (personal reactions) and a justification of sin as an attempt to gain inner peace (evil desire). The painful emotions a child stores inside connect to the sex drive at puberty creating an unhealthy emotional attraction to persons of the same sex that leads to dependency and often sexual activity. This does not happen to every child. Homosexuality is not a developmental phase that some children go through on the road to adulthood. It is not inborn nor is it unchangeable. God’s Word is reliable. “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32). With love and godly counsel even a child who took on the false identity of being homosexual in early age can be set free!
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