To love people struggling with homosexuality, we must not just single out what is wrong with them. We must get to know them, listen to them, and understand the many ways they have been wronged. Before we introduce them to the God full of mercy, we must enter their story.
OMF Lit has recently published What About Same-Sex Marriage? (free ebook!). In one of the articles there, Dr. Michelene Escobar-Buot tries to answer the question, “How does one’s upbringing contribute to homosexuality?” She cites some studies in psychology suggesting possible causes for homosexuality.
Jeffrey Satinover and Leanne Payne (1981) see homosexuality as a fixation or a halt in psychosexual development because the innate masculinity or femininity of the child was not “called forth,” affirmed and rewarded in early childhood by an involved, loving, and protective father figure. The father’s presence and masculine influence at home during the son’s childhood is an early source of masculine modeling. This same influence also contributes to the shaping of the daughter’s normal psycho-emotional development regarding her femininity and her appropriate psychosocial responses toward masculinity.
Another cause that has gained more credibility and evidence is childhood trauma—physical, psycho-emotional, and/or sexual abuse in the family—especially when repeated. Such abuse produces rage, bitterness, and fear in the victim. The female victim could grow up to hate men, and fear being a girl who cannot physically defend herself against those abuses; so she “crosses over” to identify herself as a man, becoming a “tomboy” to protect herself psychologically and physically from male assaults and abuses. She may also take security and comfort (“nurturance”) in the company and exclusive intimacy of females in a conscious or unconscious search for a nurturing mother figure.
These other factors can also lead a child to become sexually precocious: early exposure to pornography and/or experience in sexual experimentation (for example, masturbation); relationally immoral and unhealthy examples and habits; and childhood molestations and other sexual perversions (for example, pedophilic experience). These may have been repeatedly experienced and, in combination, had fed into the fantasies and behavior of the child. Also, during the pre-adolescent and adolescent stages, when sexual feelings and drives increase, sexual expressions may be directed to the same sex and/or the opposite sex partner out of curiosity. Other factors may be peer pressure or a more intense need for intimacy as conditioned in previous childhood experiences.
The complex interaction of biological (intelligence, temperament, and other personality traits that are genedetermined) and psychosocial factors (family relationships and dynamics, culture, social exposures and experiences, role models, and values) is crucial toward the outcome of same-sex attraction. However, personal choice plays a deciding factor in the various stages of development. It is also by that same choice that one decides whether to act out and embrace a homosexual lifestyle or to seek help for unwanted SSA. (pages 41-43)
While these studies may really be helpful in understanding human behavior, she wisely acknowledged their limitations. Those who are determined to change and embrace the process of transformation must
search for a community that can accept him or her totally and help in resolving his or her ambivalence and conflicts. Hence the compelling need for a third community where one feels safe and accepted and which could help investigate the issues related to the struggle. However, the spiritual consciousness of God’s presence and grace is greatly needed here, otherwise the change cannot be deep and lasting. What an opportunity this presents for the church then! Yet how sad that sympathy and understanding are found in so few Christian communities. (pages 45-46)
Before we can know their story, we must ask them. And before we can ask them and expect them to tell their story, we must assure them that we are safe and that we care for them. We must provide a place in our churches where they can share their story freely, without fear of rejection and condemnation. The church must be a place where they can run to and not run away from. The church must be a place where those struggling with homosexuality and other sexual brokenness can acknowledge their hurts, confess their sins, and find forgiveness and healing through the power of the Cross of Christ.
Last year, my wife and I talked about how our churches can offer this kind of loving community at DZAS Heartline’s Sa Panahon ng Paghilom. If you want help in building a safe community where the sexually broken can find healing, I recommend that you go to Agos ng Buhay (Living Waters Philippines). Or check the following related posts: