TESTIMONY – NEW ZEALAND
Being brought up in an Asian country, I grew up in a very “controlled” environment where many things were taboo including sexual issues. My family were Buddhists by default and we used to pray to gods of one kind or another. I accepted Christ at around puberty, and at the same time, I became quite aware of some kind of sexuality in me. Being brought up in a boys school, I’d never really given any second thought or bothered about girls. During my teens, I found myself unexplainably attracted to certain guys now and again. At that time, I simply put aside such thoughts without giving further thought to them.
As I grew up, these thoughts became more intense as I became increasingly aware of my sexuality. I used to fantasize about being with good-looking guys now and again, entertaining some extremely powerful and addictive homosexual thoughts, which often makes good aphrodisiac for masturbation! This went on for years till I completed my secondary school. Thankfully, I didn’t get to do what I may have done – that is, fully enter the homosexual lifestyle by looking for male partners, despite a close call or two. Things could’ve been different if I was in a “broader thinking” Western culture! Having said that, people need to realise, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve had sex with a guy in your head or had physical sex, it’s all sin to God. There’s no “degree of sin” in homosexual fantasies or sexual encounters.
I was then sent overseas to a “Western” country to further my studies. Boy, what a different world. I could do almost anything (legal) I wanted. That’s why many Asians from “suppressive” Asian countries become totally different persons when they go overseas, where “everything is permissible… ” (but not everything is beneficial!). It’s a bane and a boon being in Asian countries – bane because one gets suppressed and not able to express homosexual feelings in words or action, leading to a stronger urge to do so when one goes to a “free thinking” society. A boon because one doesn’t get the chance to easily live the homosexual lifestyle! In this new “Western” country, I fell into powerful temptations in the form of homosexual pornography which are easily accessible and available in the gay merchandise stores, video stores and internet. All the “free” internet sites which give a taste of pictures, videos and so on were enough to turn me on. I spent endless nights downloading pictures and videos – and found great pleasure in them. This wasn’t enough, so I bought gay video tapes and watched them in the privacy of my own room. I knew it was a dark episode in my life because God was reminding me… after each episode (and this often only happens to believers in Christ unfortunately!), I felt a tremendous sense of guilt and vowed never to repeat my addiction. However, I found myself in this situation time and again. One could say that I almost led two lives: my public “clean” image and my private “tainted” life.
As I got more involved in church, I couldn’t live a double life as I felt increasingly hypocritical. Whenever I faced God, I felt guilty of being a “double agent”. So I sought help – to cut a long story short, I tried counselling which didn’t work for me because I felt that the counsellor (not from an ex-gay lifestyle) would not understand. Eventually, I found out about Exodus Ministries which helped individuals in the journey out of the homosexual lifestyle. I was truly shaking in fear when I contacted Exodus because I had never spoken to anyone about my problem, which seemed so big. But the fact that I could FINALLY talk to people about my problem without worrying about my reputation (a very important thing for Asians!) helped tremendously. Everyone in the Exodus support group was just like me (and perhaps you who are reading this), so we were like for like. Talking about it was half the battle won for me.
Here are 8 lessons I learnt in my journey (I’m not at the end of my journey at all – it continues for the rest of my life. As Sy Rogers suggested, we can never erase our past but we can choose new paths and a new life for ourselves) :
1) Discovering the cause of the problem (which in itself is difficult to pinpoint) does not solve the core problem. I thought that if I discovered the “cause” I could fix my homosexual tendencies. It seldom does. I couldn’t quite pinpoint any particular cause. At a very young age, I stumbled upon my uncle’s porn videos and the first thing I saw were erect penises – I never forgot that. Could that be the cause? I also had a rather distant relationship with my father when in my teenage years. Could that be the cause? I found myself attracted to good-looking guys in school (thank goodness there aren’t too many around . Could that be the cause? Whatever it was, it didn’t help me one bit trying so hard to find the cause.
2) The more I focused on the problem, the more I fell into it all. This includes trying to “change” my homosexual tendencies, to fight it consciously. I find that the more conscious I was about this “problem” of mine, the more I end up craving it. Let’s face it, I know I can’t beat the temptations offered on the internet, gay specialty stores, good-looking guys and so on. Hey the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. We’re talking about 65 kgs of flesh here! The more I say I’m not going to do it, the more I do it (eventually!). We DO have to decide that we want “out” of the homosexual lifestyle, but after that, a continuous focus on “getting out” of it just doesn’t work. Our decision is only the beginning, not the end.
3) Focusing on being as busy as possible doesn’t help one bit. I tried doing everything from music lessons to church to studies to clubs to everything so that I could get busy and “forget” this issue in my life. Ignorance is not bliss. Being busy also means I needed rest. When I rest, what pleasurable thoughts do you think I think of?
4) A group like Exodus helped a lot in voicing out how I felt. In my case, being Asian, I found it too embarrassing and “face-losing” talking to friends and family (which is sad really). If you find yourself in the same boat, seek out a group like Exodus or Living Waters. Vent your pent-up feelings and frustrations. They all understand!
5) Homosexual “couples” can have it good too! I have seen some really solid, “loving” homosexual relationships, and boy, they are attractive. I’ve found myself envying them in the past. So, yes, in the worldly sense, it DOES (seem to) work as a relationship. In fact, I have seen some homosexual relationships put most heterosexual relationships to shame! However, whose glasses are you looking through – God’s or the world’s? If it feels good, does it mean it’s good for us? God sees things that we can’t see and when He says “don’t do it”, He means for business. Job says, “Though He slays me, I will still trust in Him”. And we can’t serve both God and money. We can’t serve both God and our own pleasure. Here’s a bit of introspection – if a guy is after you, or you’re going hard after a guy, try to see the motive behind it. You may perceive some kind of bondage or spiritual slavery in it. This is one of the ultimate tests of a saint when everything feels right and good but God still says “no”, who do we follow?
6) I can’t look for an opposite sex partner to “cure” my problem. I tried that with disastrous results because I was using someone else to “fix” my problem. This is dangerous as we cannot be truly committed to that other person when our focus is still on the problem. Eventually, I surrendered and turned my eyes upon Jesus. If I should remain a bachelor all my life, so be it! I have Jesus Christ! (Of course, then my dearest wife came along later into my life, praise God! – by the way, this isn’t a formula, I’m not saying this is exactly what will happen to you but what I am saying is, God has His own time with you, just like He did Job.)
7) Forget about your homosexual problem and what they call your “sexual orientation”. It’s not important. Let it be. It’s been done, yes, admit that you do get sexually attracted by good-looking (or whatever characteristic that attracts you) guys but that’s it. That’s the fact. I realised (just like for any other sin) that my focus needs to be away from my homosexuality and upon God Almighty, the great I AM Himself! This was the REAL answer that has sustained me thus far. God is the change agent. Our very Creator of our very fabric of life has the answer. His love by Christ’s death on the Cross proved it. Enter life through the cross. When everything doesn’t make sense, when the homosexual lifestyle makes so much sense, and seems the natural way to go, God is the only reason that our decisions should be based on. There is no strength that I can find anywhere else except through God. When all reason fails, God is the great I AM. Hey remember, at the end of Job’s long suffering, God did not give Job the reason for his suffering, God provided Himself. He is reason itself. He is truth. And I can’t stress this enough, the closer I get to Him, and the more desperate I am for Him, the less I think about my homosexual tendencies as He picks up the pieces and mends them. The moment I slack behind, Satan strikes back with a rainbow of choices where I can choose to go against God’s will. God is my ONLY reason I stay away from the homosexual lifestyle. (Of course, now that I’m married, my wife is the OTHER fantastic reason I shouldn’t even think about any other guy – that would be betrayal, I know!)
8) It’s a journey. There’s no “end-point” and there is no one magical solution (so don’t look for one) that will “fix” the problem straightaway. Rather, life is a series of little and large choices that we make. Every journey is a choice of roads we choose to take. Even now, happily married, I still get tempted (ever heard yourself saying things like “wow he’s PAINFULLY good-looking”? That’s our tendencies talking. That’s ourselves talking a thought we must continually hang on the cross – its death means our life anew in Christ). And occasionally I fall into it (particularly relating to the internet). But there’s a reason why I choose the more beneficial path – God and His precious gift of eternal life to me through Jesus Christ, and my wife and family. Stand in awe of God and everything else will pale into comparison – He is the Living Water that if we drink from Him, we shall never thirst again – that’s His promise!
I think I better end here before I end up writing a book! Let me encourage you with the Word of God. Romans 9:30-32 – “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.” The words above give us a hint of how we should handle our homosexual tendencies, urges and “orientation”. We won’t fix our problem by focusing on the problem, fighting it day and night, legalistically following a list of do’s and don’ts (pursuing the law of righteousness), rather remember, the problem is not for us to solve, the battle is not ours, it belongs to the Lord our God. Trust that He will work on us – we simply need to obey Him, no matter how silly or how senseless or how anti-pleasure it may seem. Your faith will make you whole! Try everything you like but when you decide to follow Jesus Christ you will be healed day by day. Luke 7:50 – Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Peace and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love. In Christ’s everlasting arms.