He said he feared I was being "brainwashed." His email really upset me. I wanted to respond immediately, but knew I shouldn't at that moment. I finally calmed down and wrote this response (below):
I appreciate your email and concern. I care about you and the rest of the men in the group as well. As I mentioned I never intended to sound judgmental or critical of anyone else. I realize that different churches have varying views on the morality of homosexuality. There MAY be several ways of interpreting the Hebrew in Leviticus or the Greek words in Romans. I don't really know. In the past I used to get bogged down in that and I had a lot uncertainty and doubt.
My decision this past year wasn't really about that specific issue though. I remember hearing once that "sin is a failure to love." At first I thought that was a watered down perspective, but I think it might be accurate.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7Over this past several years I've realized that I only feel homosexual feelings (romantic or physical) when I feel inadequate in my own sense of self or masculinity and/or when I perceive that another guy has the qualities (personality or physical) that I feel that I lack. It is impossible for me to be attracted to another male or female person (romantically or physically) without first seeing them as an Opposite of myself. Since I am undeniably a Man (biologically and psychologically), attraction to another Man first requires a lot of insecurity about myself as well as a lot of false hopes and illusions about what the connection with the other Man will somehow provide.
From my own experience I can see that ALL of my previous homosexual relationships (or encounters) started with me first feeling hopeless, jealous, envious, and distrusting, and then impatiently (and desperately) self-seeking my own end to the detriment of the other Man. This was usually followed by a false pride/boasting to cover up the emptiness that followed. The exact opposite of 1 Cor 13.
Regardless of how anyone spins Leviticus or Romans, THAT is sin. It is NOT Love. It is the exact opposite of Love in ever way shape or form.
You mentioned that you didn't believe me when I said "I didn't love Tim" and that you could tell I had feelings involved. What I meant is that I FAILED to love him. I wanted to and even tried really hard to, but the homosexual feelings got in the way. I can only speak for myself and I have no room to judge or condemn anyone else, but I know with certainty I cannot Love someone and pursue a homosexual relationship with them at the same time. For me, those are mutually exclusive things.
I had strong romantic feelings for Tim, but those were barriers to Love. They were not Love in and of themselves because they were not oriented toward Tim's best good. They were geared toward filling voids in myself that no other human being can meet in the first place. Even though we will never see each other in person again, I have more real Love for Tim now than ever before. I pray for him every day and fast/pray for him often. I pray that God will heal his wounds (including those that I inflicted through my sin and selfishness).
You mentioned that you thought I was "over-selling" my current state of happiness. I appreciate your concern on that, but I really am happier than I've ever been in my life. I did not mean to imply though that everything is easy or perfect now. There are challenges and difficult days, but things are still infinitely better than ever before. Sometimes they are harder than before. It used to seem so much easier to believe the demonic lies about myself and believe I was inadequate or flawed and then suppressing my true self and looking for some other man to be a man For Me.
I still feel the inadequacy and insecurities that have driven my homosexual challenges in the past, but not nearly as often. When I do, I find it much harder now to even begin to believe the lies that used to make homosexuality a temptation. It's about 20% of what they used to be.
Sometimes that makes situations harder to deal with in the short-term. I was so used to using homosexuality to medicate and numb out everything. It is a lot harder to face things head on, but I've noticed whenever I do, I tend to grow a lot more and get a lot stronger from it. That usually builds my confidence and enables me to see that I wasn't less of a man after all.
Over the past six months, I've been drawing more and more closer to Jesus and he has been increasing my capacity to give and receive real Love. The more real Love I have in my life the less and less I feel defined by homosexuality, the "gay" label, or even the "ex-gay" label.
I don't see any evidence that homosexuality is an "orientation" on its own. Looking at my own body and others, I can see that it was just a distortion of it. Regardless I don't see any reason to define myself by it anymore. Even if the remnants of it were to remain till I die, it still wouldn't be worth forming a separate identity or label out of it.
I have to admit I was a little offended by the "brainwashing" comment, but I realize you didn't mean it in a hostile way. The only person who has That much influence over me is Jesus and I WANT him to brain-wash me...and wash my Heart and everything else.:)
I start most days now with 6am mass at a catholic church near my house. I go to a non-denominational Bible study group that is not ex-gay related. The guys in my Bible study group have been Awesome in helping me stay accountable to break the addiction of porn and other bad influences online, but they were only helping me to reach a goal that I set for myself. They didn't initiate that work. I ASKED them for help and I bought software that enabled transparency for that process.
I can understand your concerns about the "ex-gay groups." I have been to all of them at one time or another and there are flaws in all of them. I've noticed that almost every church has its own group and they all tend to demonstrate the human flaws of all of the particular denominations. I still get a lot out of some of them, but I'm pretty open with the areas where I disagree with them.
I don't see the purpose of my journey to be about "becoming straight" It's about becoming my authentic self and growing in relationship to Jesus. I've found myself becoming more integrated and more in tune with my own core emotions and this has enabled me to be much more open and authentic with everyone. There are probably more people now who know about my past homosexual struggles than knew about it when I was in the lifestyle.
I don't know yet if the Lord will eventually lead me to marriage and family. I hope he will, but I know it may be a few years before I can even consider that. I know he won't lead me to a homosexual relationship because that is not Love. He could lead me to a Monastery (which could be awesome) or I could just grow old with a bunch of cats. ;) This short human life will never be easy or perfect, but I know that if I stay in relationship with Jesus, I WILL be happy no matter what.
"Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is Love." - 1 Corinthians 13:8-13