Change, reframing and growth

change Feb 23, 2019

As I've talked with many different people, I've realized that the current language surrounding same-sex attraction and change is very limiting. The same word means very different things to different people, and fuels a lot of angst and dissagreements between groups that might otherwise be united. The more I consider the specific changes I have experienced, the more I am convinced a better description for those changes is change, reframing and growth.

As I've observed the way some people use the word change, I believe it means to them an eradication of the core feelings toward those of their same gender, a cutting off the desire for connection. That certainly hasn't happened for me, nor would I want it to happen. Desires for connection and affection from members of the same gender are central to forming strong communities and cultures. I believe these feelings are given of God and are good and necessary. In my experience, they are distinct from my sexual impulse and drive. While some assert that the direction of sexual reaction is exclusively inborn, my personal experience teaches me that a large portion if not all of my sexual response is learned subconciously through a number of different environmental factors. From this perspective, I have grown to understand that there are many different narratives I can assign to my desires for connection and affection, and that those narratives can greatly affect my emotional and, to large extent, my sexual response to those feelings.

I can choose to believe that my feelings mean I have a "sexual orientation" toward other men and that I must want a sexual relationship with them. I can assign an identity to myself as a result of my feelings and adopt the construct of said identity, believing that other characteristics I have are a result of that identity. Or, I can choose to believe that my feelings are a manifestation of a need for connection with other men, in terms of friendship. I can choose to believe that at their core, the feelings are platonic and have the purpose of leading me to create community. I can choose to believe they are intended for me to help bless other men and be a source of strength to them.

I believe most men would have similar feelings, perhaps not as intense, if our society did not believe that love and caring between men was of necessity a manifestation of an "orientation" that required them to seek out men as sexual partners. Looking at historical photos of men certainly seems to suggest this is the case.

Every single one of the stories I can build around my core feelings greatly effects the emotions and even sexual response I feel in regard to those feelings.

I do not believe that my way of approaching the feelings I have is the only way or the right way for all people - we all are different and we assign different meanings to the same words, so what is helpful for me may not be helpful for others.

Whatever meanings I or others choose to assign to our feelings, one thing is abundantly clear to me: what matters most is our behavior in regard to our feelings. Whether we choose to indulge in sexual thoughts and actions, or whether we choose to keep ourselves pure. What matters is whether we use the feelings we have to serve God and grow family and community or serve ourselves and our bodily drives.

I am personally grateful that the Lord helps all who want to serve him and he leads each one of us carefully down a path designed perfectly for us as individuals to learn true principles and develop deep desires to serve Him.