Fear is a key factor in the development of both male and female homosexuality. It follows then that overcoming fear is a key factor in gaining freedom from homosexuality.
Specifically, the fear found so often in the male homosexual condition is the fear of being a man, and the fear found so often in the female homosexual condition is the fear of being a woman. In a fallen world, it is common to find men fearing manhood and women fearing womanhood, but in the homosexual person, this fear has become life-dominating.
We become fearful where we feel vulnerable. We feel vulnerable in those areas where we are afraid we will be harmed or where we suspect that a basic need will not be met.
Those who counsel married couples often point out that women have a special need for security and men have a special need for worth or significance. No doubt this is rooted in the fall. In a perfect world all would feel secure and all would know that we have tremendous worth as people created in the image of God. Even in our fallen world, young children in well-functioning families receive strong messages and clear demonstrations that they are secure and have great worth. Likewise, in well-functioning marriages, the husband’s behavior demonstrates to his wife that she is secure in her relationship with him and in the home they have created. Similarly, the wife’s love and respect for her husband is a sign to him of his worth.
But because this is a sinful and broken world, many—perhaps most—do not grow up in well-functioning homes. Therefore women often feel a need to control their environment and to control others in order to maintain a sense of safety and security. And men are prone to do things, even harmful things, to “prove” their manhood, and thus to convince others and themselves of their worth.
Many people are vulnerable in these areas, but this sense of vulnerability is so great in some men and women that they have allowed it to shape their development. Such is the case with most people who find themselves with same-sex attractions.
Fear as a Root of Homosexuality
Certainly not all, but a large majority of women struggling with lesbianism who come to Regeneration have a background which led them to believe it was not safe to be a woman—especially in relationships with men. Many were sexually, physically or emotionally abused by men, perhaps by a father, brother or other man who should have been a protector rather than an abuser. Some saw their mothers abused at the hands of their fathers. Some who were not abused by a father still experienced situations in which they felt their father should have been their protector and he was not. In response, rather than allow themselves to be drawn to men who could either love and protect them or fail and abuse them, they fled from all men—and often into the arms of a woman.
Fear led them from healthy heterosexual relationships into unhealthy same-sex co-dependent ones.
Janelle Hallman, in an outstanding article in the NARTH Bulletin1 describes how a woman’s true feminine is meant to reflect “an exterior that is inviting, restful and receiving with an inner core of solidness and strength of being….” The lesbian woman, however, more often shows forth a hard, defensive exterior shell erected to shield an inner core of perceived or real weakness. Fear led her to form this shell.
The large majority of homosexual men who come to our ministry did not connect with their fathers as young boys, and so they never took into themselves some of the qualities that are inherently masculine. Subsequently, as they grew up they never went on to develop those qualities in the rough and tumble world of boys. In their vulnerability, the world of men became a huge threat to them. On the ball field, or in other arenas where manhood is tested and developed, they often experienced utter failure and humiliation. They fled from this world and as a result avoided many of the experiences necessary for their manhood to develop. Men remained “other” to them, and that otherness spawned sexual attractions.
Again drawing on Janelle Hallman’s article, she describes the fully developed masculine as having “a greater exterior strength of movement, initiation and courage to face and deal with the outer world, but with an inner core of tenderness and compassion for human relatedness.” Typically, the homosexual man reflects fear rather than exterior strength and courage.
And just as lesbianism is often rooted in the fear of being a woman and male homosexuality is rooted in the fear of having to live and function in the world of men, years of ministry have shown us that these same fears continue on into adulthood and serve as roadblocks to the healing that our people desire.
Overcoming Our Fears
So what does one do about these fears? How does a man or woman overcome them? Let’s start with two important points regarding these fears. In most instances:
1. The fears extend beyond the rational. The fears are so emotionally rooted that we cannot be talked out of them, nor can we talk ourselves out of them. Yes, you women can accept the fact that there is little chance that most men at church or work would physically harm you, but you are still afraid of men. Yes, you men know that the guys in the neighborhood aren’t going to ridicule you because you aren’t up with the latest NFL trades, but still you avoid their company. The fears go too deep to be defeated solely with logic or probabilities.
2. You cannot escape these fears. Ultimately, you will have to walk through them. A child does not overcome his fear of water in any way other than by getting into the water. In fact, overcoming fears is an unavoidable part of the normal process of growing into mature manhood or womanhood. Like it or not, we can’t skip parts of the normal growth process and end up healthy. We have to plunge in to areas where our fears are triggered.
So, if the fears are exaggerated to the point of being irrational, and if we can’t overcome them except by facing and going through the very experiences we fear, we have a real dilemma, don’t we? An impossible situation? It would certainly seem to be—except for one thing: But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
Our Lord can penetrate deep below our conscious minds. He can reach our hearts. And with Him, we can walk through, and eventually overcome, our fears.
Fear Can Block Our Relationship with God
Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). This scripture is so familiar to many of us that it may have become little more than a cliché, but it is worth looking into.
What is this “perfect love”? Certainly, it’s not our “perfect” (super, flawless) love; we aren’t capable of such love in this life. And it can’t be simply God’s perfect love for us because God’s love is always perfect, and still many Christians live in fear. So what is perfect love that casts out fear?
If we look at the context of this passage, we see that John is writing of a love relationship with Jesus. He is not talking about a feeling or something we experience from time to time. He is talking about living in love. Living, abiding in a love relationship with God means not only that God is loving us but also that we are receiving His love—His immense, unconditional, extravagant love which He is always extending to us. And living in a love relationship means our loving Him in reply, not perfectly but to the extent we are able at the present time.
The stumbling block for many of us that keeps us from such a perfect love relationship with Him is our inability to receive His love. And here again, fear is a strong element in this.
What I believe many devout Christians fear is either that God is angry at them or disappointed with them. For those who fear God is angry at them, they worry that they have done something wrong and God is going to directly or indirectly harm them. For me, I fear I have disappointed God. He has done so much for me, and I have responded with so little. My life has been on balance too selfish. Maybe I have not poured myself into writing this article as I should have, and this saddens God. In His love, He wants me to do great things for Him and I have let Him down. These have been my fears and they might be yours.
These kinds of fears are typical of people with low self-esteem and people who are performance oriented. If you are experiencing them, they may be keeping you from fully receiving and experiencing God’s love. Here we can get caught in a Catch-22: We need the give-and-take love relationship with God in order to overcome our fears, but fearing we are a cause of anger to God or that we are a disappointment to Him keeps us from fully entering into such a relationship.
At this place we need to remind ourselves (and be reminded by others) over and over again, maybe even to shout the truth about how God feels about us. God is not angry at me! He’s not. I am not a disappointment to God! You aren’t. God doesn’t think that way. We might, but He doesn’t. He is not mad with you or me; He delights in us. He has demonstrated His love for us—most of all in the cross—and He wants us to receive and relish that love.
Being in a love relationship with Him, we can walk with Him through our fears. And even if our worst fears are realized, if we get battered and humiliated, He will make things alright. He will tend to our wounds, and in time He will cause our painful experiences to become steps in our growth into full, free manhood or womanhood.
With God at her side as the perfect father, husband, protector, a woman can venture into the areas of her fears. With God as his father, brother, best friend, a man can venture into the scary world of men.
With God all things are possible.
By Alan Medinger
Originally Published June 2005