A Right Conception of Fun
One of the strands that makes up the binding cord of homosexuality is a skewed or twisted definition of fun. Sexual fantasies and/or actions that are sinful, dirty, dangerous, forbidden, abnormal, demeaning, addictive take on a sense of being exciting or fun. Surprisingly, these fantasies and acts do not appear to the person to be dysfunctional—at least not when they are in the midst of temptation. In these moments, homosexuality appears laden with all sorts of good and pleasurable experiences. Individuals may be drawn to homosexuality for different reasons—to one person homosexuality is the avenue to protection from a frightening world, to another it is the place of freedom where no one tells them what to do, to still another it is the only place where they feel “normal” and accepted, to not a few it is the only place where they feel alive—yet all have a deep inner desire to do something evil and sinful, generally something sexual. [Evil is here defined as that which is contrary to God’s pleasure and will. Not all evil is violent or murderous in nature.] Some counselees—especially those who have never acted out--are convinced that if they resist having sex they will miss out on something very exciting and enjoyable. Others have admitted that they feel indescribably happy when they are in a gay club or engaged in fantasy or in the arms of a lover-- they feel better doing this than doing anything else. More than one person has described a “rush” [note the terminology of drug addiction] that comes over them when they see someone of the same sex that is cute or muscular or confident. This intense wave of feelings triggers physical reactions such as increased heartbeat, stomach cramps, sweaty palms, loss of concentration, or sexual arousal. Obviously, the excitement inherent in such a reaction is difficult to curb and makes it very difficult for the person to resist homosexual sin.
How is it that sin can take on a feeling of excitement and fun to a degree that eclipses all other pleasures? The example of one of my counselees may shed light on this intriguing question. Juan* grew up in a very rigid, chaotic Hispanic home here in New York City. He was the sixth of seven children. His father dominated the home, passing judgement on everything that was said and done. He yelled a lot, and often threatened the children. Corporal punishment was not rare. Juan’s mother was less intimidating to him than his father even though she would hit Juan and the children and threaten to tell her husband if they were bad. Juan’s father prohibited him from going off their property and later off the block to play with other children. As Juan grew older, his father prohibited him from going to his schoolmate’s homes and from going out with them on weekends. Juan, forced to stay near his home, was left with only the television for entertainment. Juan’s older brothers and sisters had friends of their own and didn’t want to take him along with them. These siblings stood up to their father, but Juan was too frightened to try. Juan often felt lonely, isolated and bored. When Juan’s parents decided to move to Puerto Rico when Juan was about to become a senior in high school, they didn’t tell him until three weeks before they left. By then he already was looking forward to the senior year at the school he liked. Regardless of his protests, Juan was forced to go to Puerto Rico with his mother and father. There, he lived with them in the country, with little to keep him busy except television and yard work. Because he didn’t know the language very well, Juan stayed out of school for one year. To break the monotony, he began to act out plays in his room. After a year of intense boredom, he was eager to go to school! When he graduated he decided, against his father’s wishes, to move back to New York City with an older sister.
Juan began to have homosexual feelings long before he moved to Puerto Rico. Juan could not talk back to his father or express the unhappiness he felt because his father would yell at or hit him. He could not get his brothers and sisters to stop thinking of him as slow and unimportant. He often was excluded from family conversations and told that he takes too long to “get it”. They made him feel inarticulate and incompetent. This made him angry, depressed, resentful, and feeling different. With no where to go and no one to confide in, Juan suffered in silence. By the time he reached puberty, these stored negative emotions connected to his sex drive. By then, the ungodly inner thoughts and reactions to his stifling and abusive environment had twisted into a secret desire to do something bad and rebellious. [This evil desire is homosexuality.] He began secretly to have sex with his nephew in the basement of the house. Even though he knew it was wrong and that he would get in trouble if his parents found out, Juan was excited to get together with his nephew and have sex. This continued until he moved to Puerto Rico. After he moved back to New York City, Juan’s desire for wild living (cocaine, drinking, and homosexual sex) exploded. For the first time in his life he was out from under the suffocating control of his father. He indulged with reckless abandon and entered into the bondage of sexual addiction. [There was a time when I would leave my family soon after our Christmas Day dinner to spend the evening in a place that was more exciting to me—an adult bookstore!] Many of you can relate to Juan’s story.
Someone will try to argue that Juan’s ecstatic reaction to homosexual sex was typical of any human being’s first dalliance. We are, so the argument goes, primarily sexual beings so it is only logical to expect that the pleasure of sex will surpass any other earthly pleasure. But, according to the Bible we are primarily spiritual beings called to a higher experience of joy than physical union with another person. The joy of the Lord and the pleasures of sexual intercourse are not analogous or interchangeable. It is a sign of our present day fixation on sex to even suggest that the joy of sex is comparable to the joy of the Lord! Furthermore, the sexual activity from which Juan received a rush is, by the Bible’s sweeping condemnation of all homosexual behavior, clearly offensive to God. The intensity of the rush is a conditioned ungodly physical and emotional response. The sense of joy in godly pursuits flows from a settledness about one’s selfhood and intimacy with God. Engaging in such simple things as walking in the park, writing a letter, singing in the choir bring joy because there is already in place a real and pervasive sense of joy and peace. By contrast, the emotional/sexual rush Juan experienced is the anticipation that the sexual behavior before him will bring a real and lasting sense of joy and peace. In this, homosexuality always fails to deliver the goods. The sense of relief or affection or appreciation or escape the homosexual fantasy or sex brings is short-lived and counterfeit. Homosexuality does not work!
Juan admitted to what so many others have, namely that if he didn’t go out for sex he felt he would be missing out on something great. For several years he had no desire to do things that he once had enjoyed: shopping, walking, exercising, going to church. These things seemed dull and boring compared to the rush he got from spending a night in sex, cocaine and drinking. He thought that he was just depressed. But in reality he was under the power of an emotional lie that says, “Nothing can make you feel so good or enable you to cope with life or be yourself like homosexuality.” When Juan was not engaging in homosexual thoughts or behavior, he felt overwhelmed, nervous, anxious, cranky, left out, bored, empty, sad, angry, slow, unimportant. But when he went to the clubs or into the arms of a lover, these emotions receded and he felt alive and free. The emotions he felt when he resisted the homosexual sex were the emotions that had been trapped in him since childhood. At puberty these emotions connected to his sex drive. His first homosexual contact seemed to excite him like nothing else that he had ever known. The sex became a “fix” that numbed the emotions and gave Juan a false feeling of being away from everything and everyone that bothered him. It also became the benchmark for defining what was really fun and thrilling. This slowly but surely eroded his ability to take joy in ordinary pleasures and godly pursuits. Everything and every experience was subordinated to the temporary thrill of the homosexual moment. His depression was compounded by a false definition of fun.
The lie of homosexuality is that time spent in pursuit of that which is ungodly and dangerous is better by far than time spent in pursuit of God and reality. Homosexuality is a counterfeit to relationship as God intended, and it makes the good things of God look boring and dull and bad. The evil desires that constitute homosexuality cry out for that which masks the pain suffered in childhood and fits with the person’s false identity and false view God. It redefines fun, elevating those things that feel like they provide escape from all that hurts or bothers the individual. It seems hard to turn from because it appears to quiet deep emotional pain. The thing that a person feels will make the pain and pressure of daily life go away is the thing he/she refuses to let go of and which becomes an idol. To many, homosexuality seems to do that like nothing else could. The deceived, wounded person classifies everything—no matter how perverted or sinful—that provides an emotional relief as good. [This explains why some can take pleasure in such perverted behavior as sado-masochism, bestiality, pedophilia, or transvestism.] Satan takes full advantage of the child’s hurts by leading him/her to ungodly behavior and thoughts that provide a temporary relief. As the child experiences this relief, he/she will return to it again and again. Thus, a stronghold of evil desire will develop which will redefine the child’s concepts of right/wrong, good/evil, pleasure/pain.
As we discussed this Juan began to shed some tears and expressed relief that finally, after so many years, he could put into words what had taken place. He renounced the notion that homosexuality was fun. He prayed that God would enable him to enjoy godly things, both great and small. At our next counseling session, Juan was excited to relate how he had for the first time in years enjoyed the intervening weekend! He had been able to go shopping without wanting to rush home. He had taken a walk and found real pleasure in it. God answered his prayers! The Lord broke the power of the lies because of Juan’s agreement with truth and confession of sin. He will do the same for you! [We had worked in the months previous to this on getting Juan to express the emotions that he had buried for years, and on casting off the false identity he lived under as well as any false view of God he held. In addition, Juan had turned from the sex and stayed away from it for months.] Ask God to reveal to you what he revealed to Juan, that there may be a place deep in your emotions and twisted thinking that actually takes pleasure in homosexuality and sees it as fun. If this is revealed, confess it and choose to renounce it. Ask the Lord to give you a right conception of fun.