"We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice,
we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself." Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison (1943-1945)

Exploring the Terms

Posted by Callum Freedman on 6th March 2016

I have a friend who I meet with often and when I do he asks me  “how are you doing”?  So, let me ask you the same question, how are ‘you’ doing in your life right now?  Since you’re reading this blog, maybe you’re a teenager who has realised he has an attraction and interest in other guys more than he has to girls, or maybe not in girls at all, and maybe you’re wondering  the reasons why or what’s ‘wrong’ with me?  Maybe all you’ve heard around you on this subject is people telling you that if you feel this way it’s because you’re ‘gay’ and that it’s because you were born this way and nothing you ever do could change it.  “You just need to accept that’s what and who you are and live that way in your life.”

Maybe you’re someone who’s older and has experienced these feelings for quite a while in your life. If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re here because you’re coming from a Christian or other religious background and you’re beliefs are at odds with your feelings.  If this is the case you can be feeling pretty distressed about it; it’s probably caused you an much anxiety and inner stress as you try and understand why you feel the way you do and why though you try as hard as you know how, nothing seems to make any difference.  You may as a Christian have heard over and over that all we need to do in our lives with our ‘issues’ is pray about them or ask someone else to pray for us.  If this is the case, you’ll also have found out that this has not made any difference in your situation.  And so you try to fight those feelings; you try to struggle against the temptation to ‘act out’ or to think lustful thoughts about other guys or even to watch content on the internet which arouses you.

I have known this battle and I have known the absolute futility of using the methods I’ve mentioned above to deal with feelings like this.   I tried everything I knew to ‘beat it’.  Prayer,  fasting,  talking to other people about it,  asking for their prayer,  greater and greater efforts to avoid falling into what I the bible terms as ‘sin’.  This is a discouraging and soul destroying experience which can leave you emotionally drained and disheartened and wondering if you’ll ever be able to live apart from homosexuality in your life.  I am here to tell you that there is hope, but not from the same methods you’ve been using and trying harder at.  Someone has said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  Well, that cuts pretty close to the bone with us, but we have to admit that’s exactly what we’ve been doing.

I’ve entitled these series of blogs under the heading of ‘exploring the terms’.  I believe in order to understand what it is we’re experiencing or trying to change, we first have got to understand what ‘it’ is.  We hear it called things like ‘same sex attraction’, ‘homosexuality’ or ‘gay’ and often these terms are used to mean the same thing.  In other words, if you have feelings of attraction for other guys, this means that you are a homosexual or gay with the inference that this is what you ‘are’ and that you were born this way.  In these blogs I want to dig deeper into that and look at what these terms actually mean and if it’s true that they always by necessity mean the same thing.

If you’re someone who has felt the distress and discouragement that I’ve described so far, I want to reach out and give you an enormous ‘hug’.  Most of us guys aren’t used to getting a hug from another guy; it seems at odds with the culture we live in and the thought of it may make us feel uncomfortable or conjure up thoughts of an erotic nature.  But a hug is just a way of telling someone that you care about ‘them’ as a person and are concerned about their struggles.  It is sharing a love for them that is genuine, that is unconditional and asks for nothing in return.  If we’ve experienced something of the gay lifestyle we might have felt that if there is any physical contact with another guy it is more for the purposes of what someone can get from you by using you to satisfy their own needs than it is to do with affirming your value in their eyes or maybe that has been your reasons for wanting sexual contact with another guy.  I want to use these blogs to infuse in you the truth that no matter what your feelings of ‘failure’ might be or inadequacy as a ‘Christian’, there are very real reasons why we sometimes develop feelings like this and that there is hope in the possibility of going in a different direction in our lives.  You will find no moralising or judgement on these pages, but rather an understanding of your struggle as I try to share some of the incredible things I’ve learned on my journey both from other people who have walked it before me and also from my own experiences.

In the next blog to those who have experienced these feelings (two weeks from now) I’ll explore what it means to have attractions to other guys, what  often are the reasons they have developed in us and the difference, if any, from thoughts and behaviours of homosexuality.  In the meantime, do not feel that there is no hope for you experiencing any change or ‘freedom’ in your life.  I have been in the blackest of holes in my struggle and yet I have experienced so much in my life (especially over this last year) which has brought so much healing and greater peace in my mind and heart.  To give you a taster for where we’re heading, I want to tell you as if face to face that you matter, you are of great value and that there is great hope to be found when we begin to understand ourselves and what makes us ‘tick’.

Next week’s blog will be written to those who haven’t necessarily experienced feelings such as these but are interested enough to read someone else’s story  and what they have discovered about its origins and the paths to change.