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Archive for January, 2015


Letter from a 45 year old virgin

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015


mailbag_3I received a personal letter from a man in his middle forties. He described that he was recently coming out to himself and a few others. He grew up in a strongly legalistic church background. He said his church considered Liberty University and Jerry Fallwell, its founder as being a liberal institution.


The main issue he said he was struggling with was deep-seated shame and guilt. He believed that God would definitely send him to hell if he ever chose to live with a man and have a sexual relationship with him. Mind you, this man is sexually a virgin. His pain was obvious as was his fear.


I wanted to share with you what I wrote him in response to his desires for someone to share his struggles with. He said he could only communicate through physical letters or possibly a phone call.



January 6, 2015


Dearest friend,

Thank you so much for writing me. I am also thankful you had a friend who pointed you in my direction. I hope my words will be encouraging.


When I read your letter I’m drawn back 25 years when I first began my journey with gay men seeking help. My words today would be far different than they were all those many years ago. But at the same time, my heart wouldn’t be much different in my desire for you to find liberty and peace within your personal life.


I’ve heard of church affiliations like you have described. I grieve thinking of the many who have been underneath the heavy loads they have tied on the heads of folks like you. I grieve even more thinking of those who have remained without question and continue to miss out on the amazing grace of life and love through God.


Four years ago, I discovered grace at the deepest level I have ever known. It was through this amazing awareness that God is love, and love hears, validates, eases, brings peace, and always accepts us right where we are. I began to find the liberty I had always desired.


When I found God’s unrelenting love and his unconditional acceptance, I began to give myself freedom. I began to receive freedom to ask, to seek, and to discover life as is mine to live. I realized that nothing I would ever do would separate me from God’s love. I began to accept God’s love so deeply that I walked into some very scary waters as I began to accept myself as a gay man. I’ve done this before, but it was before I began to include my faith in the equation.


I’m drawn to many questions as I read your letter. Are you still involved in any sort of organized religion, church, or faith group? What would you say your belief is today about your spiritual fate? What do you believe about God at the deepest level? What is your deepest heart’s desire regarding your personal spiritual journey?


Being a man, who is primarily gay, not bi or any other middle ground, is something I’ve known about myself all of my life. I’ve always felt this way and have struggled with it for all of my years. Before I knew how to describe it, or what words to use, I just felt so different from all of the others I knew. Then from that feeling of being the odd man out, so to speak, I got married when I was just 19. I believed this would isolate me from my internal pain.


After several years, the pain continued, only in different forms. My marriage ended by my announcement that I was finally accepting the word gay as part of my life and that I wanted to live my life within that authenticity. I walked away from my family which included two small children.


After several broken relationships and the pain that goes with that, the religious people around me assured me that I could find peace through God and that God could free me from my struggle with homosexuality. I took them at their word and began to seek freedom from what I believed to be a plague of my misappropriated sexuality.


Desiring connection at a personal level, and to live some sort of normalcy, I found someone I deeply respected and got married again. This time, I was determined I would not fail and this marriage / relationship would work – of course through the power and grace of God.


Year after year I did my best to be as obedient to God’s standards as I knew how. I availed myself to therapy, counsel, books, teaching, church, conferences and of course much self discipline. My sexuality diminished and I believed God’s grace had given me the power to be faithful to my wife of 24 years. But as my sexuality drained, so did my heart. I was lonely, discouraged, full of shame. While our marriage continued and I had remained faithful, I was a miserable failure as a husband. I couldn’t love my wife as I believed I should and as I believed she deserved.


Finally, God’s grace, true unmerited grace, entered my life. At this point, I opened my heart once again to trust. I began to act upon that grace. “I’m gay” I finally uttered. Well, the earth didn’t shatter. Then I said, I don’t know the answers; I don’t know what is right or what is wrong. Still the moon didn’t swing out of orbit. I was disfellowshipped from a small group of “believers” for being “unrepentant, a false teacher, and rebellious.” Well, this turned out to be a gift of freedom. I could no longer fit in a community that was so focused on actions and behavior rather than grace and redemption.


Finally, I went to my wife and said I was finished with trying to live out a dual existence. I told I was no longer willing to work on the marriage as I’d spent 24 years trying to make it work. She asked if I was willing to pray about it, I said no. I responded with, “What do you think I’ve been doing for 25 years?


I left the marriage, still trusting in the grace of God to walk with me. I met a man and discovered a connection like I’ve never known in my life. He is a good man who is from a good family. He is a man of faith. We fell deeply for one another. I once again had to trust in the grace of God to walk alongside me.


I’ve grown, torn down walls and finally for the first time in my life I no longer feel broken, nor do I feel like a misfit. I finally found my place. I’ve found a place that is congruent with whom I have always been. I’m no longer trying to be something I’m not. I no longer am trying to fit in places that aren’t going to work for me.


I don’t know what to say, my friend. I’m open to any dialogue you want to enter into. What I can say is that no matter what you do, where you go, or how you live, nothing, absolutely nothing can separate you from God’s unmerited favor and love. It’s our world’s human development in religious form that has concocted the fear and hatred model of religion. I’m not bitter, but I am cautious of any doctrines that preach that anything can separate us from God’s restoring love.


Peace,


John

 

My Husband’s Not Gay

Monday, January 5th, 2015


Husband Not GayTLC has a new reality show called, “My Husband’s Not Gay.” I have mixed reactions to this show. My friend Tim Rymel has written his opinion on the matter, which is very well done. I recommend reading his article.  I agree with most of what he’s shared in his article, however not everything.


My struggle with a gay man marrying a straight woman is that the potential for the marriage to end in a traumatic divorce is very high. When a gay man marries, the reasons for the marriage may seem to be love and desire for his potential wife at the beginning. But the likelihood for that to come from something other than a true desire for her heart is great! A friend of mine posed this question, “Is this your First Love?” I think that’s a great question because many gay men or lesbians would say, “If I had the option, my life would be with someone of the same sex.” This tells me that his future spouse may not really be their first love.


I’ve known many gay men who have said, “I’d love to have a family. Or I want children.” I can’t say I’ve heard them say, “I want to sacrificially love her as my wife and I am truly in love with her for who she is, all of her.” Sometimes it seems to be more about the image of marriage and the desire to extend themselves into children. I believe when a person marries for those reasons, there is bound to be a time when their personal truth comes to the surface and there lies a wounded woman and children who are confused about the love they felt from their dad, or their parents.


When I married my first wife, it was to escape the pain of my adolescence. Not knowing I was gay when I married, I know now that the underlying circumstance’s stemmed from that truth. Marrying the second time, I was in love with the idea of being a normal married man. The ExGay movement held within it the façade that that was possible. I married whom I married because I was in love with who she is, and that I trusted her and believed she loved me in the middle of my journey. I believed so deeply that I would continue transitioning into a place where I could love her romantically and sexually. Much of my decision was placed on a future hope rather than a current reality.


I also realize that for some people marriage isn’t about the sex or the intimate love as much as it is about the relationship and the family. As long as this is a matched reality, then this type of marriage may work well.


In my experiences with being married to straight women, I had a great desire to connect at that deeper level of intimacy, I continually felt alone and anxious. I finally admitted that my needs for physical touch and heart intimacy were just not being fulfilled. I also lived with a constant level of guilt knowing that I was not capable of meeting their needs to know they were loved for who they are, women. I just couldn’t give them that kind of love no matter how hard I tried. When my first wife moved on to other relationships she was very clear with me that she had now experienced the difference between straight men and me. I felt slighted at the time, but I get it now.


My quandary about these married couples stems from whether or not they are being honest at a deeper level. From the trailers I’ve seen, they are at least being honest about their sexual confusion. I was honest about mine before my second wife and I even dated and she knew all about my homosexual attractions, But is the show going to reveal the deeper honesty?


I know men who are gay that are married to straight women. Some of them have what appears to be a true love for their wives and seems to work for them. I would never want to say it couldn’t work. I wouldn’t want any man or woman to forego a marriage that would truly satisfy their desire and need for intimacy. However, I would like them to be given the opportunity to know their own truth beforehand.


When I got married the second time, there were a lot of people encouraging me to move forward. I followed their hope for us. But they didn’t know the questions to ask me, or they were afraid of those types of deeper questions themselves because many of my friends were “ExGay.” Not to be graphic, but the questions would have been connected to sexual intimacy, and heart attractions. I would have appreciated someone who could have helped me open my heart up to that kind of truth. But I was trapped in pursuing the image of marriage and the hope that it would be fulfilling, so it would have been tough for someone to open up those places. The only words I was given about my questions about the sexual compatibility were, “The plumbing will work when it’s time.” I’ve felt resentment for those words many times because it made sex out to be a mere physical reaction and it oversimplified true heart of sexuality.


I really appreciate Tim’s drawing the point of fluidity in sexuality. I truly believe that there aren’t just two genders. There aren’t only two sexual orientations. Our sexuality and relationships are far too complicated to fit those narrow places. This is why it is so very important to explore a large variety of questions and discussion topics with pre-marriage counsel. The typical pre-marriage counsel doesn’t come close to those things even when the couple is willing to be honest about their sexual attractions and struggles. Many pre-marriage counselors are afraid of the topic of fluid sexuality and the reality that sex doesn’t fit into the neat boxes most of us would like.


It would grieve me if someone looked at the surface of this TLC reality show and said, “See there, gay men can marry women and it’s okay.” I especially do not like the title, “My Husband’s Not Gay” when the show is all about gay men marrying straight women. It reveals to me the potential for extreme denial from a woman who has found a gay man she wants to marry. There are women who are sexually wounded that find a gay man a safe place for her to live. There are also naive women who believe they can heal their potential husband’s sexuality by loving him. There are also women who believe that a man’s testimonial of transformation in his sexuality to be true even when all of the science and life practice show otherwise.


We’ll see what the outcome is with this program. But on the other hand, maybe it will open the discussion to a wider place and more people will be able to be honest from its existence. I hope so.