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I've discovered that regardless of the continent or culture, those seeking out understanding about homosexuality generally ask the same questions.
Currently, there are many excellent clinical and theological books and articles which comprehensively address the homosexual issue and recovery from it (some are listed on the resource page in the back of this booklet).
Unfortunately, many of these books are not readily available -- or as affordable -- outside North America and Europe. Therefore this booklet has been prepared as a layman's response to the questions I'm asked most on this subject.
While far from the last word -- and opinions are always subjective at best, it is still my hope that you will find this small booklet of interest and benefit.
The presence of routine homosexual fantasies would probably indicate some degree of homosexual orientation, stronger for some, less so for others. Such fantasies need not automatically result in life-long homosexual involvement. There are many people who have never acted on their homosexual attractions. However, like any appetite, the more one 'feeds' the urge (through pornography, fantasy and masturbation), the stronger the urge becomes. This will increase the chances for homosexual involvement. Should this occur, many male homosexuals particularly demonstrate an ever-increasing pattern of sexual encounters.* It's a matter of cultivation and conditioning. As sexual involvement becomes routine to frequent, a pattern similar to an addiction emerges : A life centred around sex, and a loss of control resulting in the person taking big risks to reputation and health - yet never really finding the long term love and intimacy so deeply craved. It is a frustrating and typical cycle that can, however, be broken with courage, determination and support.
*Note that while this generalization is not true for all those with a homosexual orientation, it is a correct representation of many, based on client histories, and studies by the Kinsey Institute and Bell and Weinberg: "Homosexualities."
Certainiy, people don't choose to develop homosexual feelings. But that does not mean one is born pre-programmed to be forever homosexual. We are not bio-robots. And we cannot ignore environmental influences and our reactions to such influences. Even if some types of homosexuality occur as a 'product' of nature, does that make it desirable or normal? Nature produces a host of biologically influenced conditions, such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, diabetes ... but we don't consider these `normal'just because they occur 'naturally'. So why is homosexuality given a different status? It is also worth noting that there are now some in the academic realm suggesting that adult sexual attraction to children could also be the product of an inherent biological influence. If proven true, would this mean we approve of sex between adults and children?
There are those who also believe that if homosexuality has a biological 'origin', then religious prohibitions against homosexual acts should be disregarded as irrelevant in the light of modern scientific discovery. Advocates of this thinking don't understand however, that when a religion declares certain human behaviours to be wrong, such as homosexual acts, it doesn't matter if there is a biological origin or not. In fact, such scientific discovery would only confirm what ancient religious writings already state: our present human condition is flawed, both biologically and psychologically. Religious writings make clear that humanity consequently struggles with many inherent and harmful weaknesses. Yet, it is also clear that We are intended to overcome and master our natural tendencies and weaknesses. rather than justifying and indulging them.
In spite of the many theories and even recent but in conclusive genetic and brain-related research, there is still no scientifically accepted evidence proving that homosexuals are "born gay". However, if science one day confirms a genetic or other hormonal bio-influence encouraging homosexual development, not all those involved in homosexuality would have this influence within them. And as has been clearly stated by genetic researchers, those with such a possible influence, would not be obligated to be homosexual. For example, some scientists believe that there are people born with bio-influences toward alcoholism, drug addiction, criminal behaviour and even divorce. But does that mean such persons are required to become, and therefore remain addicts and criminals? Biology may influence, but it doesn't automatically justify every possible resulting behaviour. Neither does it eliminate personal responsibility, will, conscience or our ability to choose whether we will control or be controlled by our weaknesses.
The same-sex phase is very observable, especially in boys, who, at the time, are not particularly romantically or sexually inclined toward girls, but are very concerned with and involved in same-sex relationships. Before boys grow up into men who "risk" their egos in pursuit of the opposite sex, they must first be identified with, accepted and affirmed as "one of the guys", by the rest of the guys. Sadly, so often this has not been the case among our clients.
Modern psychoanalytical research has well documented that when healthy parent-child bonding does not occur in early childhood, a deficit or "hunger" for love and security is created. It is especially damaging when the child and parent of the same sex do not effectively bond (for what ever reasons). The child's identity and security in sender role will not properly develop. This in turn will affect -- perhaps even sabotage -- future relating with peers of both the same and opposite sex. In such cases, the child is often unable to conform to, or be comfortable with expected gender-role performance. This sense of 'difference' further alienates the child from engaging in satisfying relationships which should serve to solidify security and identity.
The resulting hunger for love and security is painful and the need for identity completion makes the child very vulnerable. A child in this situation is driven or compelled to compensate in some way for what is `missing'. Typically, the child emotionally detaches from the same-sex parent (abandons hope) and focuses onto the next perceived source of emotional and identity-securing nourishment: same sex peers. This pre-homosexual condition emerges as exaggerated yearnings toward the same sex: a desire to be wanted, cherished and protected (legitimate needs that the parental bond should have satisfied). Yet due to insecurity and a sense of inadequacy, here to, effective same sex bonding does not occur. The child is attracted to and admires, yet is fearful and envious of the same sex. Consequently, a same-sex fixation develops, resulting in arrested development toward heterosexuality, Eventually the exaggerated and symptomatic emotional dependence on the same sex becomes "sexualised" with the onset of puberty, or earlier if the child has been prematurely sexualised due to molest or imprinted exposure to pornography. (This dependence or fixation is not to be confused with typical and temporary teen infatuation.) In this example, this type of psychologically driven homosexuality is a faulty attempt to satisfy legitimate, non-sexual security and identity needs. While this simplified and general view does not represent every homosexual, it is true (based on client histories) for a majority of 'stereotypical' homosexuals. Ultimately, homosexuality is not so much about "love" or "sex". It's about need.
Understanding this, it is obvious then, that rejecting homosexual persons is a tragic mistake. Indeed, love, understanding and affirmation is what they need. Yet accepting and loving the homosexual person does not mean that we, in mistaken compassion, declare homosexuality to be "normal".
Some pro-gay therapists insist it is unethical to offer treatment of homosexuality, declaring the condition to be incorrectable. Suggesting recovery as an option is not only a false hope, claim gay advocates, but is also offensive for daring to imply that homosexuality could somehow be less desirable than heterosexuality. Perhaps with good intentions, and to appear "progressive", many western therapists have unfortunately bought into this one- sided logic at the expense of those desiring and deserving professional treatment toward the goal of overcoming homosexuality.
Regardless of how defensive some are of the "goodness" and normalcy of homosexuality, there are many who have recovered -- or who are in recovery -- from this condition. I use the term "recovery", not "cure'. Recovery more accurately implies an open-ended and unfinished process that includes the element of relapse risk (even though for many, those risks are greatly minimized).
This is no different than for other life-controlling problems, such as alcoholism: some degree of relapse risk remains, but behaviour and impulses do change, and life is improved -- though not perfected. The fact is, many therapists, particularly in America and Western Europe have grown weary with both pro-gay lobbying and one-sided 'give up and be gay" counsel offered to those with a homosexual orientation. There are well respected therapists and experts, in this field with recent and long-standing published works underscoring the truth that homosexually-oriented people can:
Even if for most, there could not be a complete elimination of possible homosexual attraction, the reduction and management of such feelings could be verv desirable and attainable as a vast improvement over a life formerly driven and limited by such impulses. Obviously, the only people who truly feel threatened and offended by the concept of recovery are western gay activists who are pushing for civil rights based on the racial premise of an inherent, unchangeable condition. Such activism has done much to prevent fairer presentation of the facts regarding recovery.
Because some degree of recovery from homosexuality is attainable for those with motivation and support, I and those professionals with whom I work believe it is unethical to fail to offer the option of treatment toward the goal of recovery, when desired. A therapist who may feel skeptical or ideologically opposed to the recovery option should at least be professional enough to provide an appropriate referral, rather than attempt to convince the client to embrace homosexuality as the only option.
*To address the concerns of those desiring recovery, to ensure their right to obtain professional treatment, and to counter one-sided pro- homosexual propaganda in the professional community, scores of doctors and therapists have joineda new, rapidly growing Organisation: National Association For Research and Therapy Of Homosexuality (NARTH). For more information contact NARTH, 16542 Ventura Blvd, #416, Encino, CA 91436, USA.
Though sexual feelings are powerful, and for some of my clients, cultivated to the level of addiction, I find that the real problem isn't hormones or even desire for intimacy that unravels recovery. It's usually immaturity. This shows up in many ways : as in a lack of self control. Or in unrealistic expectations, where the client thinks that he should one day start lusting after the opposite sex to the degree that he did for the same sex. Or that he should have amnesia, as if his homosexual history never happened ...
Because our program has a religious foundation, many clients expect God to do all of this very quickly for their convenience. And when God does not, such clients become disillusioned and drop out. Some badmouth our program and the recovery effort in general. They say, "I tried". No doubt there are many hurt and embiftered homosexuals who did sincerely hope to change. But due to unrealistic expectations, and a lack of understanding about recovery, their hopes were not realised -- or not quickly enough. Any success in life is not only about sincerely trying, but is also about persevering. About 50 percent of our clients do temporarily fall back into homosexual acts in the first two years of the recovery effort. They are not condemned. They are encouraged to try again. Relapse is a reality for some in any type of recovery program. Many drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs have a very high failure rate, but that doesn't make such proarams invalid. Neither does it mean that addiction can't be overcome. Some people take longer to get their lives together. Most of our clients eventually do break their sexual pafterns, and grow beyond the control of homosexual impulses. That is when they discover that underneath 'what they do', are a host of unresolved issues explaining "why they do it'. Then the real work begins. Recovery isn't an event - it is a journey that does carry with it the risk of relapse. Butfor now, many homosexually oriented men and women have changed and are changing in ways they never before thought possible. (Statistically, clinical findings vary, revealing a sustained recovery rate between 33% to 60%. Many recoveryprograms like ours estimate about a 60 to 65% success rate.)
As for the argument that 'those who changed were never really true gays", I imagine most of my clients would find this rationale laughable, and could ask, "what would one need to do to qualify as a true homosexual?" I've heard the argument before, and it goes on to imply that those who changed were really meant to be straight, and they were just confused and eventually the true preference emerged. Well, if this is so, then the gay underworld must be filled with many confused pseudo gays ... who should be straight and they just don't know it. Therefore, rather than criticize our efforts, gay advocates should encourage us to weed out the pseudo gays from the " real ones ".
Finally, most of my clients have strong moral and religious convictions. I agree with our critics that there are elements of repression and martyrdom in their recovery efforts. But is it that bad? For example, if someone insults me, I may feel like retaliating right back, and that impulse may be very strong, natural, and even satisfying if fulfilled. Yet, if I repress my natural human urge to retaliate, is this bad? A married man may teel attraction to a pretty female colleague at the office, but if, in deference to his wedding vows, wife and children, reputation and work, he represses his sexual instinct, is this wrong?
In both examples, natural, human impulse is restrained and submitted to a higher standard of behaviour : self control instead of self indulgence. Living in a sex pre-occupied age where we are encouraged to scratch every itch, fill every appetite and indulge every whim and desire, the idea of self control, restraint, and self denial must seem like martyrdom indeed. My clients are denying themselves -- especially in the beginning of their growth away from the only way of living and loving they've ever known. But like all martyrs, they sacrifice willingly because they believe in something more importantthen self satisfaction. They view their self denial as an investment with an eventual payoff in compensation for their present sacrifice.
Perhaps, this willingness to sacrifice involves the concept of 'faith" or confidence in God. Employing "faith" has been proven universally to be a major ingredient for success in various recovery programmes.
These days most people are tripping all over themselves to avoid being perceived as "discriminatory' and 'insensitive', especially with the advent of AIDS. Yet many gay activists, dissatisfied with even this, have broadened the definition of "homophobia'. Originally used to describe those with an irrational fear of homosexuals/homosexuality, (manifesting as hatred and violence against homosexuals), activists now include those who dare to disagree with pro-gay perspective and philosophy. Either you're completely pro-gay and therefore "enlightened and progressive", or they label you a backward, "bigoted homophobe". This polarization is unfortunate and untrue. Most people -- even the tolerant, accepting and liberal, still don't view homosexuality as the moral and relational equivalent of heterosexuality -- and probably never will. But that doesn't mean they therefore hate gays. It's not the "either-or" situation gay activists suggest. Most people will not see homosexuals as a legitimate racial minority, therefore entitled to complete minority rights. Propaganda campaigns in media won't change this either. In fact, there is an increasing weariness in the West with the strindent demands of the extreme activists who do not necessarily represent the vast spectrum of all homosexually-oriented people. (Recent research reveals that homosexuals represent about 1 to 2 percent of society ... not the previously quoted and incorrect 10% figure.)
To sum it up, recovery from homosexuality is about "growth". Quite literally those in recovery "grow beyond" their same sex fixation and "grow out of" their homosexuality. This growth, however, is a lengthy process -- lengthier for some than others. And for many, "recovery" will mean a lifetime commitment. Recovery programs like ours don't solve every problem. We don't claim to. Clients who participate in our program won't suddenly be transformed into lusting heterosexual stallions as if they had never been homosexual. Long after leaving our program they will still have to be responsible to effectively manage their lives and residual weaknesses. So what does our program offer? Simply put, we are only one ingredient in the recovery journey -- that's true for any recovery program. However, we do serve as a 'stepping stone" that can prove to be pivotal in a person establishing a different life forthemselves. We view the recovery process as a gradual progression to and through important goals. Some of these goals include:
Volumes of books have been written detailing "how" all this is accomplished, from both clinical and theological perspectives. Though we can't explain it all in our booklet, do refer to the books listed at the end.
While part of our program consists of insight-oriented teaching toward the goal of understanding and self management, it is through our weekly support group meetings that our clients find the encouragement needed to perservere and progress. Support groups have a proven track record as a temporary, helpful tool in assisting those overcoming many types of life-controlling problems -- including homosexuality. In fact 90% of agencies like ours employ such groups, in addition to consultation, counselling and referral services.
In a group setting, the client is both "accepted as is", and held "accountable" for behaviour and arowth. The recovery effort is a burden shared in a safe place amona others who understand and are supportive of the client's values and goals regarding recovery.
While support groups can't "do it all", they can prove to be a wonderful oasis in the journey!
As the same-sex fixation is dealt with, as traumas are healed and needs are met, growth cannot help but occur. And with this growth, potential heterosexual development becomes a possibility. Eventually, our clients "outgrow" their season of depending on our program, and they more comfortably and honestly integrate into other general social support systems such as a church fellowship group. And their growth away from homosexuality continues!
Some ask if our group meetings provide a 'cruising' ground or temptation problem for our clients. Even though it seems risky to put people with a same-sex fixation into a same-sex recovery group, there really isn't the problem one might suspect. Why? First, we do screen those desiring to join our program. We spell out very clearly our group guidelines, which include our expectations of and instructions for clients should they find themselves `attracted to' or 'pursued by' a group member. Such attractions within the group will happen. They are proven to be temporary and need not result in a moral failure. (Actually, attractions within the group require our clients to come to terms with, interpret and then manage their same sex attractions.) Prior to group participation, our clients sign an agreement whereby they know that to have a sexual encounter with another group member will result in dismissal from our group program. In addition to this -- and perhaps most importantly of all, those in our support aroup are usually highly committed to recovery. They embrace moral values that are, forthem, very motivating, or they wouldn't bother being involved in our program. Frankly, if someone wants to "go shopping" for a sexual partner, our group provides the least convenient opportunity to do so. While some clients do relapse in their recovery effort before they get their act together, moral failures within the group setting are extremely rare in my experience. In fact, the risk decreases as friendship bonds are established in the group.
Relearning ways of living, coping and relating are not easy. Understandably, overcoming homosexuality is a challenge many prefer not to face. Clinical studies conclude that those who do overcome the control of homosexuality need two ingredients for success: a tenacious and persevering motivation, and support of others who believe in their effort. We, at CHOICES offer part of the supportive network needed. We provide consultations, weekly support group meetings, and referrals to collaborating community professionals. We also conduct seminars and provide information and resources for those interested in knowing more about the recovery option.
The first half of my life was an emotional concentration camp: My alcoholic mother was killed in a car wreck when I was four. Prior to that, I was sexually molested by a family "friend". After my mum's death, I was separated from my father for a year. I lived in an emotional vacuum. My identity and security as a male was left unaffirmed and unnourished. Later in school, I was routinely ridiculed, rejected and physically abused due to my effeminate mannerisms. Even though I tried to "conform to the norm", I was continually labelled a homosexual and a failure as a man. It's no wonder I had problems. As a teenager, I had not yet identified myself as homosexual. Yet, I was certainly aware of my attractions to the same sex and I felt fear and shame. A few years later, when eventually involving myself in the gay scene, I felt such a sense of relief. I felt accepted and understood. At last, I had a place to belong. It was greatfor a while. Soon I was living in the fast lane, and always surrounding myself with others who would reaffirm and reinforce the gay life. When living in Hawaii, my two gay room-mates became husband and husband in that State's first non-official gay-male wedding in a pro-gay church. I was their "Best Man". Yet later, they would become the first to tell me that overcoming homosexuality was possible -- they had begun the effort then&selves. They said God was helping them, and that they were prayingfor me. I laughed in contempt, thinking they were some kind of traitors.
My own journey out of the gay life first began with my attempt at securing male love by becoming a woman through a sex change. Though I did not get around to ever having the surgery, I was on hormone therapy and lived as a woman for about a year and a half. Yet, even then I realised that surgery couldn't really solve my problems and wouldn't secure love for me. Realizing that I hadn't managed my life very well on my own, I finally began sincerely seeking after God. It was my re-ignited faith in God that led me down a new path I once thought impossible for me. It wasn't that I was trying to stop being gay. I didn't know "how" -- or if it was possible. I was however, willing to stop living my life on my ternts. Instead, I yielded to God on His terms. That was in January 1980.
At the time, my gay friends thought I was crazy. They said I'd be back in the bars in a week -- a month -- a year. I never went back. But it wasn't easy. I did have a lot of struggles in the beginning, but like most worthwhile efforts, perseverance paid off. Today I very much enjoy the opportunity to live beyond my past problems. I enjoy being a husband since l982, and a father. It isn't proof that I'm not gay, but it is evidence ofa life I never thought possible. My recovery process took time and work and the encouragement and accountability of my supportive friends. More importantly, my recovery depended on my willingness to co-operate with God. Over the years and around the globe, everyone that I personally know -- or know of -- that has overcome homosexuality has been enabled to do so as a direct consequence of a life yielded to God and committed to the way of Christ. Though I'll never live my life as if I had never been homosexual, I am able to live beyond having been homosexual. And I'm not unique. There are many thousands of ex-homosexuals, though most are not public about it. I've met many here in Singapore, and in Asia ... in fact, around the world!
Sinclair "Sy" Rogers' dramatic story of overcoming homosexuality has been shared on 6 continents and in numerous publications and media interviews. He has hosted award-winning TV and Radio programmes in the U.S., specifically dealing with recovery from sexually-related problems.
Sinclair has served as President of Exodus International -- North America, the world-wide network of Christian agencies with outreach to the sexually broken. Sinclair has also been selected as one of the Outstanding Young Men of America, as well as Who's Who in Human Services Professionals.
He and his wife Karen have been married since 1982. They have one daughter ... at least for now. Sinclair is on pastoral staff with Church of Our Saviour, Singapore.
The following are only a few of the excellent books available regarding recovery from homosexuality, sexual abuse and sexual addiction. For a free catalogue detailing these and many more related books, contact REGENERATION BOOKS.
Our Office provides a selection of materials for parents, spouses and friends of homosexuals and those who are HIV.
We also have a global variety of personal testimonies of those who have overcome lesbianism, homosexuality, transsexualism, and who are living with HIV.
CHOICES is an affiliate with EXODUS INTERNATIONAL, the global network of Christian agencies helping those desiring to overcome homosexuality and related problems. For more information return to the home page of this site.
Copyright © 1993. Church of the Savior, Singapore. All rights reserved. Posted to these web pages with the permission of Sy Rogers.