In today’s permissive society, opposite sex experiences in puberty are often accepted and condoned as normal. Biblically, the Word is very clear that any sexual activity outside the boundaries of marriage is rebellion against God’s original intent for his creation.
In my own teenage years, I became sexually active and eventually aggressive. I was even arrested for sexual misconduct on a few different occasions. My Christian parents were very confused about my behavior. They knew about the twenty-five year old woman, in our church, who molested me when I was eleven but didn’t know about the rape I experienced at six by neighborhood boys nor did they know about the man who molested me in a city park toilet. I don’t recall anyone asking me in depth what was going on inside of me. I do remember that I never felt safe talking about sex or anything that really mattered. In fact I felt shame every time the subject would come up.
After two arrests in which I aggressively approached men to have sex, later finding out they were both detectives, my parents went to our pastor and asked her for help. At this point they were really confused. The pastor suggested that they bring me to a prayer meeting in which they would ‘cast the demon of homosexuality’ out of me. When we arrived there were only women who surrounded me to pray. I was 14 years old at the time, and I remember being terribly frightened. My body shook with fear as they prayed over me, and I felt condemned and rejected. Afterwards I was in a terrible state – more hurt and confused than ever – and my basic need remained – that need for masculine love and affection. These adults truly did not know any better; but instead of solving the problem, they simply reinforced the need to hide my behavior from others. Instead of casting a demon out of me – I experienced the fear of man, rather woman.
In my confusion, I became very secretive. I began to mistrust women and didn’t like the power they held over me. In time I found myself becoming an abuser, all under the guise of “loving behavior.” I could not understand why people thought there was something wrong with me. I felt good about my feelings and trusted them as a close friend. I did not realize that I was building up mistrust towards adults as well. I had created an intricate web of lies and deceit around my ‘false self’ and brokenness. I could only see that condemnation was from people. I heard nothing from God. His reality in my life was non-existent.
As I searched for who I was, I found myself being pulled into Hollywood. I became a professional singer and worked in commercials and movies. I was in my element. I needed to prove my self-worth; I needed to be accepted by everyone. I needed affirmation and love. I was young, good-looking and “eager” to succeed. I learned to use those traits to get me where I wanted to go. I never quite made it. My success was always short-lived. I never could understand why only that as soon as I got close to making it, I sabotaged my success. I thought I was doing all the right things, yet the depression and anguish I experienced on my roller-coaster ride was sometimes more than I could bare. My ‘secrets’ began to show themselves in anger, depression, isolation, and sacrificing my sexuality on the alter of others.
One of the snares that kept success at bay was drugs. It was one of the devil’s “easy” escape routes for me. My motto became, “sex, drugs and rock & roll.” And in that order! My addictions became paramount. I tried about every type of drug that was available. After a three-month singing tour through Central America (successful at first, but failing in the end) I returned to Hollywood and to the drugs and sexual security I knew would comfort me. A drivenness toward creating a masculine image, one that would be ‘accepted’ by all became all in compassing in my life. I had to do something to erase the lie “you’ll never be any good.” I kept everyone at arm’s distance in fear of finding out about my ‘real self’. I highly protected the ‘false self’ that I had so ingeniously created. “If anyone really knew who I was they wouldn’t love me” became a fear of driving force.
My parents didn’t know exactly what was going on in my secret life since I had learned to hide everything as a teenager. The only things they could see were the obvious signs of sin and rebellion, like drug abuse and being thrown in jail. They were confused and didn’t understand. I knew I was hurting them but I had no idea how to stop. The fight throughout my teenage years was so great, the confusion so intense that at one point in my early twenties I gave in to believe that, “This was the way I was, so I needed to live with it. Maybe God did create me this way.”
I was in and out of jail several times. One such arrest in my early twenties sent me into depression. My parents came to see me and said they would not bail me out. I couldn’t believe it. They were not going to rescue me! The feeling I had was one of being abandoned, again. I returned to my cell and began to cry out to the Lord. He heard me and, for a period of time after my release from jail, there was a marked change in my life. For the first time I realized that God had a special purpose for my life. God wanted to do a complete work in me at this point. Nevertheless, I found myself trying to hide my past from the Lord and others. The hurts were too much for me to deal with.
Subsequently, three years after this “marvelous” conversion, I fell…and fell hard! I became like the man Jesus cast the demon out of and the demon went around looking for a new home and couldn’t find one. He returned to his original home to find it clean and vacant. Then he brought seven worse devils with him into the man. I was worse off than before! During this time my dad died. I was devastated. There was no chance of setting things in order with him.
Some would say there was no “true repentance.” However, I believe God has shown me that He wanted to heal all my past hurts and experiences before He released me into ministry. I didn’t allow Him into those areas of my heart to do that specific work. All I wanted to do was go full steam ahead “working” for the Lord. It was a way of covering up those past hurts and feelings in a cocoon of religious denial. God, in His patience, has taught me that He longs to do a complete work in our lives if we will only let Him. He doesn’t just put a bandage on the wound, to cover it up. Our Father wants to go deep into those hidden places to cleanse, heal and fill with His love. I did not understand that then. God has taught me to know His forgiveness, and from that experience, to then forgive others. He continues to this day to teach and heal me!
From that time until about 1985, I again rebelled against God. I thought nothing of abusing others to satisfy my deep hunger for what I thought to be true love and masculine affirmation. My need became paramount. Throughout this period my mom and brother continued to pray. They never stopped trusting. God had given my mom a promise and she believed Him completely. Gently God brought me back to Him. I did not realize the transition at first. It started with a tragedy in my personal life. The devastation of losing a long-time lover caused me to experience isolation and fear. Nevertheless, God was in charge and His timing was perfect. I became sick and tired of being sick and tired, and I was willing to do anything to change!
Before long, I had a desire to go to church. Most importantly, I found myself seeking God for an answer. He began to teach me slowly, through His Word, then through dreams and by speaking to me in His gentle, quiet voice. He wanted me to know how much He really loved me. There was no one around who could help me, let alone understand my brokenness, so I found myself going directly to God for everything.
I really like the story of the Samaritan Woman in John 4:1-42. It represents all of us who are broken. Many of us have grown up under the idea that God is a hard taskmaster. He is legalistic and ready to condemn. Yet when I read this passage I realize that Jesus, who is God, went out of His way to meet this woman at her place of need. (Vs.4)
In all my rebellion, guilt and shame I never thought for a second that God would pursue me! I felt that God had turned His back on me and if I was to get God’s attention I would have to do something drastic. Yet I did not have the strength or courage to take that step. Neither did the Samaritan Woman.
Jesus, a Jew, went out of His way to meet with her. I studied this passage and found that first of all Jews almost never associated with Samaritans. Second it was not customary for men to associate with women, let alone talk to them on a personal level. Besides being a Samaritan and a woman she was an adulterous.
Jesus met her at noon, the hottest time of the day. Respectable women of the day would come to the well in the mornings when it was cool to draw water. This woman could only come in the middle of the day because the other women did not accept her.
This story tells of a woman who met Jesus personally. She had interaction with Him. In the process of this experience Jesus made it known to her that He knew all about her sins yet He did it in a way that was not condemning but rather insightful and supportive. He did it so that she would realise her need. He presented her with a choice. He told her “If you only knew hat a wonderful gift God has for you, and who I am, you would ask me for some living water!” Then it was up to her to make the next move, to ask Him for that Living Water. Jesus could see what no one could see in this woman.
Like many of us, she knew about‚ the Messiah, but did not actually know‚ Him personally. Jesus went out of His way to meet her in such an abstract situation and He told her the Truth. As soon as her heart was opened she took action. Verse 28 reads, “Then the woman left her water pot beside the well and went back to the village and told everyone, “Come and meet a man who told me everything I ever did! Can this be the Messiah?‚ So the people came streaming from the village to see him.” Because people heard, they acted. Because they also met Jesus personally‚ they could make their own decision.
The interesting thing about the change process is that change itself is not our goal. Change is what results as we pursue a far more important and compelling goal: knowing, loving and “observing” Jesus.
In walking out of our brokenness in the change process, whether heterosexual or homosexual, we sometimes focus too intensely on our inner hang-ups, our false opinions or notions, past hurts and sinful tendencies. Looking inward, we may feel as if we‚re gazing into an ever-deepening pool of confusion and despair.
Release and healing comes from our turning from the denial, recognizing and identifying our sin, pain and shame. Then looking up to Jesus and entering a deeper fellowship with Him. The cry from our heart becomes “God I want to know You. I want to love and worship You. I want to be a man or woman who reflects Your image. Cleanse me from everything that stands between You and me.” God delights in such a prayer!
As for me, I had to get to the bottom of my rope! There was no place for me to go. My long time lover left me. I was alone. Being middle aged with same sex attraction as my main identity was very daunting and scary. I remembered a time when I had walked into a bar in Hollywood where over-the-hill homosexuals hung out. The shock of that memory was more than I could handle. They say that homosexuality is for the young because ‘youthfulness’ is what is idolized and worshiped. If anyone has ever gone to a porn web site they can tell you that one doesn’t find too many ‘older’ people there. Good looks, youthfulness and sporty bodies are the fashion. When I walked into that bar I saw about seven guys all over fifty sitting in different places throughout the place, alone, haggard, and spent. They were no longer an ‘object of desire’. They were right back in the black pool of despair and isolation. As that picture became more and more vivid I saw my desolation, degradation and extreme loneliness. It was real and there was no one who could change my situation. I had to make a choice. It’s all I had left. What I didn’t realize was that God has given us all that great ‘power of choice’. With that power we can build or destroy, bless or curse, give life or kill. I chose to agree with God’s will for me. It was a slow process.
Change is a co-operative venture between God and us through the power of the Holy Spirit. By His grace we are invited to come, then he empowers us to make right choices that lead to freedom in our sexuality and in every other area of our life. Seeking Him we learn more about Him as well as ourselves.
Many of us have a distorted view of God, which makes it very difficult for us to trust Him, let alone others – especially in sensitive areas as sexuality and identity. We may not be able to separate our image of God from that of an abuse or disappointing authority figure in our past. When this is true we can confess to God and ask him to heal us of this mis-perception. He is faithful to do this in ways that personally speak to us and reassure us.
Why do some people make it out of sexual or relational addictions and brokenness while others do not?
I saw the movie The Passion of the Christ and it touched my soul. After experiencing many who do not make it out of their sexual brokenness I began to ask the question above. God spoke to me very clearly when I watched the scene in Gethsemane in which Peter cut off the ear of the soldier. I watched as Jesus calmly bent down and picked up the ear and put it back on the soldier’s head. As I looked at the soldier’s face I believe the Lord said to me, “Wynn, the reason why some do not make it is because they do not allow Me to touch their deepest wound and take the pain. If they did allow Me to touch those wounds they could never be the same.” Thinking about that and comparing it to my own life I realize it must be true. Every time I allowed Jesus to come into my deepest wounds and needs I was changed – forever.
The issue of control
The issue of control seems to be a common denominator. The ones who make it have decided to follow Christ and do His will at any cost. Surrender is an act of faith. It is a deep commitment.
There are two choices that we must take. Giving God permission to work in our life as He pleases and making a decision to trust Him in the middle of our life circumstances, believing He is working through them for our ultimate good.
When we can see that having Christ in our life is not going to work…rather…what God actually requires is for me to have my life in Christ.
Romans 6:11 states, “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Author C. S. Lewis said, “Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement, he is a rebel who must lay down his arms.”
That means unconditional surrender! Giving up our control.
Change wholeness requires deep emotional healing and a restructuring of our whole identity and belief system. For God to do a complete healing work He calls for our cooperation! To do this we need to learn to know the Lord better, intimately.
It is an issue of “trust”. God shows His spotlight on specific areas of our lives some of which we have kept hidden from everyone.
When God calls us to deeper commitment we struggle wanting to hold on to “something”. Some times we don’t even know what, but it is an unseen barrier preventing us from total surrender. Perhaps it is pride. Maybe fear.
We could fear what God would call us to do, such as tell others about our struggles. We flight and kick, firmly resisting God’s challenge to commit at a deeper level than ever before. Once we make the decision it marks a major turning point in our lives. It doesn’t bring ‘instant’ release or change; rather it opens us up for God to begin working in a deeper way.
Have you ever given God specific permission to work in every are of your life, including your sexuality? May I suggest that you write down any fears you have about this decision? Look at what you have written. Seeing it in black and white can help us get a reality check on what is real and true.
In submitting our sexual and relational brokenness we need to first surrender to Christ. We need to learn to obey Him a step at a time in the process of recovery. For some this step may mean opening up for the first time to another individual regarding their sexual brokenness. Most discount this as impossible because of their position in church, their prominence in a small community, or their fear of losing a job, a marriage, or a family.
These are legitimate concerns but we all need support and encouragement from others. There is power in mutual confession. James 5:16 and 1 John 1:7 ( I suggest reading the AMPLIFIED Bible version)
The secret sin always gains more power the longer it is kept secret! A good example is when an older person molests a child. Shame is the lock on our door of secret sin.
The second thing we need to do is acknowledge Christ’s Lordship which means we need to trust in His timing for our recovery.
Imagine telling a doctor to fix me in six months or else when we have cancer. We can not put time limits on the healing process. Each of us is different and God deals with us in a specific and personal way. It is interesting that in almost every case in which Jesus healed people in the Bible we never hear what the process of their integration back into society entailed. Paul says in the Word that, “…by His stripes we were healed…” And so the many who came to Jesus were healed. But the process of agreeing with that healing and the process of change from years of identity confusion and lies takes time. Most of the time we struggle with the time it takes. We are impatient and don‚t want to face or feel the pain of that change. Many leaders have a difficult time with others pain as well and thus over the years we have come believe in ‘instant’ healing in all matters.
The third is yielding to Christ which means persevering despite painful emotions or powerful attractions.
We can experience intense rage, sorrow or jealousy but be progressing wonderfully in our healing process. God waits till we have developed a solid level of “trust” before allowing such emotion to surface.
There are several avenues of change that I would like to suggest:
The first is practicing God’s presence. That is, quieting ourselves before God, resting in Him, and enjoying His fellowship “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalms 46:10. Spending time with God Himself, sometimes not even getting to the list of requests we have, but still know that He has heard our deepest heart petitions.
We need to listen for ‘the healing word’. As we listen to God, spending time in His presence, we discover our true identity in Christ.
The second is praying for ourselves. We need to be honest with God – He is not shocked by confessions of involvement in masturbation, pornography or other sexual sins. Nothing we do or say is a surprise to Him. Confessing is the only way to forgiveness. (1 John 1:9)
We all need a clean start every day, free from the weight of condemnation from our past. The enemy has no ground or right to accuse us then! The difference between conviction and condemnation is that with conviction we feel bad, even guilty about our actions yet drawn to a better way and redemption. With condemnation we feel accused and guilty with no chance of pardon. That critical finger is pointing right at you condemning rather than giving hope.
Someone suggested a practical way in which we can be encouraged. Put a large jar near our bed, and as the Lord answers a prayer drop a coloured marble in it. We’ll see God’s specific interest in our life after a while!
The third avenue of change is praying for others. Pray for those who are still struggling. Turn your concerns into prayer requests! We tend to focus on ourselves so much of the time that it is impossible to see anything else especially freedom. If we take a decision to focus our prayers on others around us who are struggling after a while we will find that our problems are being taken care of by the Holy Spirit.
A fourth way is by praising and worshiping. God inhabits the praises of His children. Those who are most likely to leave sexual addiction, homosexuality or relational idolatry behind are those who have an excitement about God, an anticipation of what He will do next in their lives. Their hearts are full of praise.
The fifth suggestion is studding the Bible. Personalize the scriptures to your own life and struggles. Although it is helpful to read and even memorise the Bible, the key is application. Biblical principles and insights must be worked into the fabric of our life before we will begin to see effective change.
The sixth avenue of change works very well, journaling. Recording our thoughts in a journal is an excellent way of tracking our forward progress. In a journal record your emotions and impressions of what God is doing in your life. This is excellent for those who do not have anyone yet to open up to. Journaling offers a tremendous opportunity to enter into intimacy with the Lord.
When depressing days come and thoughts of, “What’s the use, I’ve failed again”, then it’s time to re-read parts of our journal and see just how far we have come; how much we have grown and what are the changes!
I have found that there are three common inter-related characteristics of those who are successful coming out of a sexual or relational broken background. The first is the extent of their separation from their worldly support network. The second is the quality of their involvement with a local church. Last but not least is their active roll in accountability with two or more leaders and strong healthy Christian friends.
Unless your relationship with other Christians become and remain stronger than your relationships with worldly friends, you will probably return to a sexually broken involvement.
Addictive, compulsive, sexual or homosexual behavior is overcome by God’s power, just like any other sin! But one fact remains ˆ we must agree with His Spirit and will to see that power in full effect. In Matthew 18:19 (NAS) Jesus states, “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.” We need to agree with Him and not the negative voices that tell us ‘we can’t’!
God uses people in this process, and He has established the local church as a place for healing and interpersonal support. In Hebrew 10:25 this principle is clearly stated: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.” The Bible encourages us to link ourselves with other Christians. This is especially vital for the man or woman coming out of homosexuality.
This concept places a huge responsibility on the Church and church leadership to provide a safe place for those who desire change. A place in which those who are walking out their healing can received support and wise godly, Biblical instruction concerning their struggles. It is important that they are not ‘shamed into change’ anymore but surrounded by those who will encourage them to continue to “fight the good fight of faith”.
We would be surprised at the positive reaction we would get by opening up to our pastor. Although it is true that some church leaders deal with their own brokenness and react to others honesty in a rather hostile manner. I would like to say that all church leaders are safe but that is not true. I trust the Holy Spirit. He is faithful to guide us to those who we can trust with our most inner struggles, hurts and wounds.
The Word says, “They overcame him (satan) by the Blood of the Lamb and
by the word of their testimony”. Revelation 12:11
As for Church leadership I would like to draw your attention to these verses in which Jesus clearly states that we must all become like little children – cleansed and innocent from sin, trusting and obedient to God and within His Kingdom.
Matthew 18:3 (NIV) “And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change
and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’”
When I first read this passage I felt that Jesus was talking only to abusers of children ˆ
Matthew 18:5-7 (NAS)
5 “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me;
6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble,
it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that
he be drowned in the depth of the sea.
7 “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!
I asked the Lord to show me the full truth of this passage. It took time but over the past eleven years I have come to understand that first, there are five types of abuses: physical, sexual, mental, verbal and spiritual. Second if Jesus says we are all to become like children then any abuse to His children would fall under the authority of Matthew 18:5-7.
Those of us who have come out of such a back ground find that those who really care for us as a brother or a sister in Christ say our past sexual brokenness, what ever it is, does not bother them. They are will still be our friends.
This is only a start. But as I said before it takes the church and everyone in it to support the healing process within each other. For we all have something that God is healing in us. We all need support!
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – Amplified Bible version
3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies
and God (Who is the source) of all comfort (help and encouragement),
4 “who comforts (helps and encourages) us in all our tribulation (trouble,
calamity and affliction), that we may be able to comfort (help and encourage)
those who are in any trouble, with the comfort (help and encouragement) with
which we ourselves are comforted (helped and encouraged) by God.”
For those of us who have struggles with secret sins and felt the sting of thoughts like, “I will never overcome. I’ve done everything I could and I still feel hopeless”, may I suggest a Word from God for His people which includes each one of us today?
Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NKJ)
11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD,
thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
12 “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
13 “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
This message was sent in a letter from Jeremiah to the Jews in Babylon who had been taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar. Life couldn’t have looked worse to them – their nation had been defeated and plundered. Undoubtedly many of their friends and loved ones had been killed or seriously hurt, and they were prisoners in a foreign land. In the middle of these terrible circumstances, however, God gives a message of hope – he has great plans for them, as individuals and as a nation. God has the same message for us. Are you struggling with sexual or relational brokenness? Are you suffering with sorrow or loneliness? Are you limping through difficult times? Take heart and take hope; God has good plans for your life!
God did not forget his people, even though they were captive in Babylon. He planned to give them a new beginning with a new purpose – to turn them into a new people. In times of deep trouble, it may appear as though God has forgotten you. But God may be preparing you, as he did the people of Judah, for a new beginning with Him at the center.
Some are afraid of God because of His awesome and unlimited power. Others mistrust Him, suspicious that He wants to harm them in some way. There are leaders who struggle with many of these issues but are afraid to confide in anyone. They think they might lose everything they have worked so hard to achieve. But we learn from Scripture that God loves us and wants only the very best for us. That wonderful truth is reiterated in this passage: “…God’s plans are for good-peace and prosperity…”If you are God’s child, you have nothing to fear. Like a loving father, God wants you to have a glorious future, close to him. Trust in God and in His plans for your life.
God knows the future. Our response must be to trust, to live by faith, like a child holding her father’s hand as they walk along the street at night. The Father knows the way, and the way is good, we simply must trust and follow His lead.
It’s easy to feel lost, small, and insignificant when we consider the billions of people on the earth. “Why would God ever be interested in me?” we may wonder. But no matter what your status in the world, God is thinking about you, making plans for your life. You are important to him. Isn’t is great to know that the Creator of this vast universe is interested in you and, what‚s more, wants to have a relationship with you! How does this make you feel?
Although God promises to prosper His people, that doesn’t mean He will shower us with worldly prosperity or eliminate the suffering and hardships. We live in a sinful world, so we must contend with the effects of sin and with sinful people (remember we were like that). Suffering is part of what it means to be human – eventually every person will die. But God‚s prosperity goes beyond this life for those who know him. So when you are struggling through a life-rending situation, take hope – this life is not all there is.
There is much more to this story. Many miracles have happened but the most important is that God is using my broken past to heal the future of others as I daily continue to walk out my own healing. I have not arrived but I know the Cross of Jesus is the only way of healing for those who struggle with any type of brokenness. His victory is our salvation and hope!
Frank Worthen ˆ Helping People Step Out of Homosexuality ˆ Revised Edition 1995; ISBN 0-945611-00-5 – Published by New Hope Ministries, P.O. Box 10246, San Rafael, CA 94912