Episode 74 – Your Questions about Same-Sex Attractions
Join Josh and Kit as they speak with Kyle Bowman in response to an email we got from a listener about same-sex attractions.
children are the biggest recorders of information but the poorest interpreters
what does change actually mean?..
Focus on the Healer, not the healing
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Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.
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Hey Everyone I’m Josh Glazer here with Kit Elmer and Kyle Bowman today and we’re, this can be a special podcast because we’re responding to an email received. We’ve, you know, we’ve asked you guys several times if there’s something you want us to talk about on the podcast, let us know. And a 20 something year old young woman, we will call her Kelly, emailed in just a wonderful email with lots of questions about a journey that she’s on it with her own sexuality. So we’re going to kind of just take her lead and answer some of her questions and respond to some of the things she’s written in her, in her email. So Kyle and kit, glad that you’re both here and um, let me, let me, I want to start, I’ll just read some sections of hers and then either of you who want to respond, just, just do so.
But she starts off by saying, um, uh, I’ve been saying I’ve been fighting same-sex attraction since I was little and I finally come to the point where I don’t want to just forget about it, but I also don’t want to just try and pull myself up by my bootstraps to combat it. I know what I need is Jesus. I also know that he can free me from this bondage, which is a new thing he has revealed to me and I cannot wait for, um, I also know that if I try to fix it on my own, the deep root of the issue will never go away and I will continue to get frustrated. She says a little bit later, she says, I think my biggest block to healing right now is my lack of understanding the root of where all this has come from. So let’s just start there. I think that’s a, it is a question for, for a lot of people. I think even, you know, from an early age, like, wait, what’s going on here? Why am I experiencing this? So Kyle, why, why don’t you start by just maybe for those who don’t know, you sharing just a little bit of, of kind of your story and then if you have any response for Kelly, be your though.
Kyle Bowman: 02:06
Glad to do that. So I personally spent 11 years involved in same-sex relationships and um, you know, I thought it was the thing, I thought it was great to do. And you know, when you’re, it’s funny, when you’re doing something, when you’re in sin, you think it’s, it’s okay and it’s the right thing to do and you really don’t understand how harmful it really was until you kind of had the opportunity to step back. But like I said, that was an 11 year journey for me. And just, you know, through God’s grace, he just continued to call me Rumi to find out who he was. And as I was able to do that, um, I realized that I could submit everything that I was dealing with to him and he would walk me through that. And so that was the thing that I, that was helpful for me was really to focus on the person that God wanted me to be as opposed to necessarily dealing with why do I have same sex attraction and why did this happen to me? I decided to focus on the healer as opposed to the healing.
Yeah. I know that, you know, there’ve been a lot of, um, a lot of people over the years as they’ve begun to look at maybe family of origin issues, um, in the certainly, you know, been studies done that have tried to find some kind of biological or neurological, um, or genetic, you know, cause of these things. And there just hasn’t been any scientific, um, uh, nothing definitive scientifically. I think, you know, the American Psychological Association says, you know, that at best it’s, it’s multi causal and, uh, um, but, but you know, there’s just been a, a lack of real kind of definitive, but a lot of people have found looking at their family of origin there that there may be some things there, um, that that could have been contributing factors, but we wouldn’t call them, we wouldn’t call them a root cause. I think at root suggests kind of like, you know, if this happened to you, then this is how you’ll turn out. Or if this is, if this is how you’ve turned out, then that must mean that this is what happened to you. Um, you want to say anything more about that, Kyle?
Kyle Bowman: 04:22
Yeah, I mean, I think the thing that’s really important is, you know, one of the things we often say to participants in our path in the wilderness program is that children are their biggest recorders of information, but the poorest interpreters. And so, um, you could have a household with, um, you know, siblings together and let’s say that there’s a parent who is just yellers screens a lot, you know, says bad names to the kids. One child can let that roll off their back and it doesn’t affect them at all. And then the other child is deeply wounded by that and maybe grows up to me to hear, always hear words of affirmation or they have a tendency to really lean into others, into in relationships. They become emotionally dependent often. Um, and so, you know, that just goes to show two people, same household, but there can be different outcomes. And so I think it’s important to know that the way God designed you to interpret the world around you can affect how you interact with people and how you just see the world and the things that you perceive you need to help you feel better. Um, and so that’s going to be different for every person and it’s not necessarily tied to one specific.
I think that’s such a good point. I think that hopefully that will bring a lot of clarity to Kelly and, and any of us because I think that, um, you know, children are so unique and they really will react differently to the same situation. And, and their response to a parent that you described might result in this kind of acting out or this, that kind of acting out. So there’s no like, well, this kind of, you know, wound and this kind of experience with the parent will result in this kind of acting out. Right. And so I think, um, you know, for, for Kelly to know, you know, we don’t know the exact, you know, we can’t give you this, you know, it’s, this is true for everybody all the time. This is the route. But we can say, tell your story, talk to somebody about your story, uh, help them listen to your story and be able to bring some of those things up that might have created some, like you said, emotional dependency or, um, insecurity of some kind that, that might be a part of what she’s experiencing now.
Yeah. And she writes later in her, excuse me, later email, she says, um, I want to know what wound I’m trying to cure by sexualizing my fix a, in other words, she’s, she’s, she’s red. And, and, and this is, you know, a lot of people have experienced this, that there’s, uh, a childhood wound or some wound or wounds, uh, interpreted through a childhood grid that has resulted then in, in trying to heal that wound, quote-unquote heal that wound or fix that, willing to respond to that one through sec, something sexualized. And, um, uh, we’ve talked about that in previous podcasts. Jay stringers book unwanted talks about just that in general with unwanted sexual behaviors that there can often be this, the, it’s a search for healing in some way and, um, uh, and it makes sense. And it also is a complex kind of person by person p. So we’re not, we’re not trying to minimize the reality that looking at childhood wounds or looking at family of origin stuff is not important. It is. If for nothing else, it deeply impacts our sense of who God is, who we are, how we fit in the world, uh, who we are as a male or a female, and what that means.
It’s actually very important. Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. But whatever your struggle is, it’s a very important thing to do, to have for self-awareness and to understand, you know, what God’s doing in [inaudible].
Kyle, have you found that to be true for you as you’ve journeyed away from lesbian relationships?
Kyle Bowman: 08:27
Yeah, cause the thing that I think that has been so important is how comfortable I continue to become with who god made me, how he shaped me, the, the uniqueness of myself and, and how that fits into the larger body of Christ. Um, so often, you know, we feel like we should be put in to these, you know, be pigeonholed and put into some kind of mold that everybody else fits in. But God made us each very unique. And so once I was able to really celebrate my uniqueness and know that it wasn’t quirkiness and it wasn’t weird and it was really a gift. Um, and it, it, it is the way that God has designed me to uniquely reflect Christ to others. And so, um, the more I get comfortable in my own skin, the so much easier. It is not to lean back into old patterns and old habits in ways of, you know, comforting or soothing myself.
So Kyle, are you saying, um, I mean, well, maybe I’ll just say per se. So connect the dots for me between what you just shared and, and your specific struggles with, with, uh, same-sex relationships or same-sex desires.
Kyle Bowman: 09:53
So I wouldn’t consider myself what people would say a girly girl. Right. Um, and so I felt that there was this mold in terms of being female that I had to fit in that was not comfortable for me. And I felt like there must be something wrong with me because I did not fit into that mold. But once I came to the realization that there is the way that God designed me to feel comfortable in my own skin, and then that is the best way for me to reflect him to other people.
Hmm. Yeah. I think that’s, I mean, that’s a common experience thing over a lot of people. Whatever the area of sexual struggle or, or relational struggle. And I know I’ve heard from so many men likewise who when they were younger, they didn’t feel like the athletic boy or that they were interested in things that other boys were. Alan Menninger’s book growth and manhood is all about that. I mean, that was his experience growing up. And he found himself even as a little boy look like he, he has shared stories about going to the, the fire station down the street from where he lived and, and watching these manly men do what they do with the sense of longing. And that longing for Allen later became sexualized and was a part of his, his journey into, um, these elicit homosexual relationships. But, um, the thing I wanted to say about this is that I think for a lot of people, I was actually just hearing from somebody yesterday who was talking about, you know, I’ve really, I have dug into my past.
I’ve received so much healing. I’m so much closer to God. I’ve got great friendships today with people at the same gender and yet my same-sex attractions and desires, they’re still there. It’s been 10 years and they are still are so intense. I think the other thing you have to recognize is that understanding, uh, doesn’t necessarily bring healing and healing and these childhood areas doesn’t always make today’s temptations go away. So there’s a, there’s a kind of both ends that we, we really can’t no, but that’s a, you know, it’s a part of the journey. I really appreciate what you said a bit earlier,
Kyle, about you chose to focus on the healer versus the healing. And then when you started to talk about, uh, how God showed you who you uniquely were, I thought that’s, you know, an outcome of focusing on the healer. Not On heal me, but let me get to know you. Let me get to know who I am in you and let me get to know you. And so that’s such a beautiful outcome of that. And I think we do just get, um, caught up and just, just fix me. Just heal me. Just take this away. Where in reality, what you did, Kyle was opened yourself up to this beautiful movement of God in you, you know, to show you who he was and who you are. And, um, that’s just a, I think that’s an, a, a significant, um, point that you made.
Kyle Bowman: 12:42
You know, what else about that kid is so funny? Is that like, so, you know, you go through this, this period of, of becoming more whole where, you know, maybe this thing, is it a thing that hangs over your head, but then, you know, the Lord very gently begins to show you some other areas of life that you really need to work on. You know, like I had to realize that, hey, you know, you just can’t call people names on the highway when they cut you off. You know, they are my image-bearers as well. And so, you know, you, you realize that like sanctification is a process. And I know we hate the word process sometimes, but sanctification is a process is something that happens continually until we are standing face to face in front of Jesus. And so, um, I think just this notion of being free of everything where you get to this place where you go, Woo, I’m there. Uh, you know, stuck the landing kind of thing. Um, is, is a false, um, belief to hang out there because we are always, we are continually being sanctified.
And what an important point, Kyle, that you know, you, because you were like, okay, let me focus on the healer, not the healing. You had a
Kyle Bowman: 14:09
healing of your whole person, not just this particular issue. You know, there was like sanctification is for the whole person and it isn’t just about take this one thing away and I’ll do everything else the same. I’ll, I’ll be broken and all these other ways, but just take this away. It’s like, no, I want to be, I want to be healed and whole in my whole person.
And um, and that’s, that’s, I think that’s significant because we can really get kind of hyperfocused on something. And, um, and so that’s a, I love your example of, you know, this began to heal and my sexual, well,
Kyle Bowman: 14:47
the sexual part of my life and this began to heal. And when on the highway too.
Let me read a little bit later cause, cause I think this, this is so important for this discussion and I think it plays into what you guys are talking about. We’re, I’m going to skip over some of the words, come back to some, but she, she mentioned this at one point and it just caught my attention. She’s, she’s, um, she mentioned just kind of the reality of these, of these feelings. She says it’s scary to think that you’re identified with something that’s so demented and so far from what God wants sin and that word, those words. So demented stood out to me and I, you know, I don’t know Kelly at all. So I, I don’t, I really am not trying to say this is happening for her. But when I, when I sit with some in my office who’s rustling with same-sex attractions and hear them talk about their story, one of the things I’m always listening for is any, any kind of self-loathing or self-hatred because they experienced these attractions while acting on same-sex attractions, maybe a sinful thing to do.
Like we all have temptations to do sinful things. It actually is a really dangerous thing to not deal with any self-hatred that we have about the struggles that we carry. Um, we really need to be patient and gentle with ourselves in the areas of struggle. Just as Jesus is, is gentle and patient with us. I think Jesus is modeling of, of loving people in the midst of their sin is so important for us to meditate on. Because like I, I know that sometimes people come through our doors here wrestling with these things because they feel like on some deep level, even if their theology might be right about God’s love on a heart level, there’s this sense of I gotta get this right or God’s gonna hate me, or God’s gonna reject me. And so will everybody in his, in his body, and we really need to get after that stuff. That’s one of the other areas of sanctification that is so vitally important to maybe even, yeah, in some summer if not all cases a priority over the dealing with the same-sex attraction it seems [inaudible].
Kyle Bowman: 16:43
Right, right. Yeah. I think, um, you know, if you think about, um, the, the prodigal son, you know, here’s this guy he’s in, you know, he’s hanging out with pigs and I think that’s a significant part of that story. Um, because he was this Jewish guy hanging out with pigs. Um, but yet when he returns home, you know, his father didn’t care where he had been and he, his father and think, oh, my son is probably unclean. Let me clean them up first. No, you know, the scripture says like he ran to the son. And so, um, hopefully, um, Kelly and others like her can realize, you know, you can run to Jesus in the midst of this. Um, he doesn’t think you’re too Yucky or messy to be involved with him. He doesn’t want you to try to clean yourself up first. He is willing to embrace you with all the Yuck in the muck on you and to walk with you in your journey of becoming clean. And when, and you know, for,
for the all of us, including Kelly, you know, when we have feelings, temptations that we don’t want to have, we do make this assumption based on ways we’ve been taught or things we’ve heard that my nature is bad, I’m bad, just means I’m bad. When in reality, you know, God, when he created us, when he, his intention at the very beginning was goodness and Jesus wants to restore that goodness. So there isn’t this inherent, you know, like I’m bad and I’ve gotta do some comment, like, we’re broken, there’s free will, we make choices and these are things we need to go to God with. Um, but I think we do all fall into, um, and with Kelly using the word demented, you know, just like you, Josh just kind of breaks my heart, you know, because she has the sense of I’m bad, you know? And, um, and that will take, that will be a great distraction to healing and to trusting God. Right.
Well if I can just see a logically bring it, just clarify a couple things with that cause I think that is so important. Um, what you’re speaking to is that genesis one and two came before genesis three. The human beings at the heart of how God has created humankind are very good and that includes our desire to be loved and our desire to love and all that makes us sexual beings. Our bodies are all very good parts of God’s creation. Matter of fact, a part of how a significant part of how we bear God’s image are meant to on the earth. Sin has come into the picture and it has brought distortion to that initial design and it is and in ways that are, that are a massive, massive on the, on the, you know, microscopic level, massive on the cosmic level. I mean we are so far from what we intend we were meant to be.
But I think the, the kind of bad you’re speaking of kid, if I, I mean tell me if you put words in your mouth, but it’s really the sense of like there’s something uniquely defective about me individually. I’m not, this is not about the human race as a whole. And I’m, um, you know, we all struggle but this, you know, I have this unique deficiency, this unique dirtiness, this unique defectiveness that kind of sets me apart and God sees me as, as uniquely defective in that way. Um, that’s why Christ came there is a serious problem and we needed Christ to, to, to come and we needed his, we, we needed a need, has definitely a cross in his resurrection to bring resolution to those things. But um, but no one is, is kind of uniquely set apart as you know, the one who needs it more than others. We, okay.
It can often be both those things, you know, can be a person thinking I’m uniquely flawed and that can be a really deep hole. Can also be I am in, so are the rest of us. And then we’d look nationally at ourselves that way. But other people, so it’s a good, both are, you know, can be really, um, very detrimental. Good
clarification. Yeah. Yeah. I think if we, uh, if we, if we, if Christian, if our version of Christianity omits genesis one and, and omits that Christ came not to obliterate us and certainly not to say, hey, you know, you have been listening, you know, my father had been telling you what to do and you have been listening. So here’s, here are the new rules for Christians, you know, and they’re tough live by these. Um, I’m showing you that you can like, that’s, that’s not Christianity. Christianity is like, it is. We were actually designed to live with God and we need to be with God in order to live as he wants us to live. And so, um, the good news of great joy he’s got with us w and F and this, I think that’s why self-hatred is so destructive because any place in us that holds kind of, even unconsciously, like God will not come near to me here. Yeah. That place is not going to get better.
Kyle Bowman: 21:31
Well, right. We can establish ourselves to God though. Even just thinking about, basically what you’re saying is, you know, God, your creation isn’t good. Hmm. Yeah. In I think sometimes even, well, you know, when we are beating ourselves up we’re still talking about something being inherently wrong with ourselves as an image bear there. God must’ve made some sort of mistake in I think, um, like you said Josh, that’s bad theology.
Yeah. So let me come back to, to Kelly’s email here. Cause there are a couple of things I think are, I mean we’re, this will be a little bit of a longer recording, but I think this is important because she, she says a couple of things that I think are really important too. Um, so she says at one point, uh, I’m going to kind of trim this up a little bit. She says, I’ve, I’ve discovered in essence I’ve discovered that nothing, this has nothing to do with who I am. I am a daughter of the one true king, not a homosexual. That’s pretty remarkable for a young 20 something to say because we live in a culture that that says, look, if you have same-sex attractions, it means you are gay. This is something about who you are, your identity. Kyle, what do you have you does, was that ever a, an issue for you and, and, and how do you respond to that?
Kyle Bowman: 22:54
Yeah, I mean it could because there is something about being identified and having it feel like, yes, this fits me. This is this, you know, you wear it like a coat. You’re most comfortable if you think about your most comfortable coat or that special blanket that you had cause it, it fits you and it feels really good. And so to be able to say, no, I’m okay, I’m not that. Like that’s just a piece of what was a part of me and it’s not who I am is absolutely remarkable that she can say that. Um, because yeah, so often that did it. Sexuality is the identity and you know, to some degree I get that because you know, we are sexual beings and in God didn’t create us apart from being sexual. So it’s no question that it feels like it’s part of you because sexuality is a part of who we are as human beings. It’s just that we often pointed in the wrong direction. Um, so I mean I, I was just so blessed just to hear her verbalize that and to say that, um, because she’s also making a much bigger statement even to like the culture around her in those, around her.
Yeah. I, I think that one of the things that we’ve heard from so many people here is this kind of the feeling that are there two scripts they’ve run into or through two kind of narratives they’ve run into. One is from the, their, their Christian upbringing and whether this is kind of a bad interpretation of what they received or what they literally received this kind of sense of, Oh, I have same-sex attractions. That means there’s something really, really bad about me uniquely. And we’ve talked about that. But the other is from kind of the culture around us says you have same-sex attraction, that means you’re gay. That’s wonderful. You should embrace it. Get into a relationship and you’ll have a lovely life. And so who walked through our doors say, why? I don’t, I don’t want either one of those. I don’t want to walk around, you know, think about myself as a miserable, unique center or worse than anybody else.
Um, uh, and I also don’t, I don’t, that’s not what I want. I mean, she said at the beginning of her email, she’s like, this is not what I want for my life. And I, I think, you know, part of our, our role as people who love those dealing the same-sex attractions, and I’m speaking about our staff here, but also just Christians in general listening, is to really walk with people and be a part of their story. What is this been like for you? And let’s help you figure out what is God’s story for your life. God, God’s story stories not limited to two narratives. Guides. Like, I mean, like you were saying earlier, Kyle, everybody’s unique. So what, you know, yes, he has a there. Yes there is morality and yes there’s right and there’s wrong, but how is this, this part of your story going to be lived out and what might God be dreaming for you?
I mean, we’ve heard so many different stories of, uh, of people who have, who have come to a place of, you know what, um, I, I’m choosing to be celibate. You know, I have these same sex attractions and this is what I want. I want to follow Jesus this way. Others who have kind of walked into that less willingly who have really, it’s been a battle. Like I, I don’t want to be celibate, but I think that’s the journey I’m on and I’m trying to figure that out. Some who’ve experienced a significant amount of change in their sexual attractions and they’ve, whether they had any attractions to the other gender to begin with or not, who have found they’ve fallen for one specific person and they’ve ended up in a heterosexual marriage. But there’s lots of different narratives that can, that can be present there.
Um, and I think our job is to, is to affirm what you were saying earlier that, you know, let’s see Jesus together for who you are and what his story is for your life. So, so I guess that brings to the last thing, Kyle, what would you say, uh, closest cause that, you know, throughout her email there’s really this, this kind of repeated reframe whether she’s saying it or not. If I really want healing, I want, I want this, I want to be restored in this area of my life. I want this area, my life to be different. What would you say to, to her or to anyone else, just based on your experience, both in your own life and in ministry to those who feel that I want, I want change in this area. I want, I want healing. How would you respond?
Kyle Bowman: 27:16
I think what I would say to her is, um, turn your attention toward what is it that God wants to do with you. Um, as, as kit phrased it as a whole person and not just about your sexuality. What are some in the spiritual gifts that God has given you? Um, what are those callings that you feel like you have in being able just to connect with others? Looking toward that first and then I think they have to ask the question. Um, the question to ask is, okay, what does change actually mean? Um, because I think that can be very subjective depending upon who you ask. And I think you have to understand that. Um, so for some people change might, might be, hey, you know, there’s acting go six months in and there’s, somebody crosses my path and I get, I feel a little bit of jaw to them.
Kyle Bowman: 28:22
That might be change or wow, I’m, I’m battling this a little more frequently than I thought, but I’m still able to submit that to Christ. That’s change. And so I think a person has to, has to understand what change really means and is, I think the bigger picture is, are you willing on a regular basis to submit all of those desires to Christ whenever they arise and allow him to meet you there? And that’s what change is about. And when you can start to focus outward, I think it’s Leanne Payne that talks about naval gazing. Um, you know, you can’t see Jesus when you’re looking inward. And so what does it mean for you to look outward? What does it mean for you to connect in the community? How has God designed you to connect with others? And like I said, what are some spiritual gifts that are within you that you haven’t used because you feel like you’ve got to take care of this thing first. You know, it’s like, okay, once this is done, then fill in the blank. Whatever it is you want to do. Um, and so I think it’s important to really start to look outward as opposed to constantly looking
inward. Hmm. You know, I think it’s interesting, I was reminded of, um, a framework that Ruth Barton talks about, um, about willingness and willfulness and willingness. Willfulness means you have an outcome. You have. OK, I’m, my goal is to get rid of this feeling, get rid of this thing. And we’re we, and we tell God, this is how you can do it. This is what I want and this is what it used to look like. And because we’re focused on that, it’s like we have to move our eyes and focus on Jesus, which is willingness to receive whatever he has for us. So it’s not about this outcome, this willfulness that I know is going to be the answer, but an openness to God and to what he’s doing, um, in any, in any given moment or any given situation. And so, um, it does that will, um, bring self-awareness. It will bring a sense of, um, understanding who you are. Um, and importantly, at the same time, it will help you understand the power of God and his love and his love. How we wants to take care of you.
Some of the obstacles to trusting God with those things and not being willful against him or with my own, you know, desires for being willing. The linchpin here is, is how do I trust him and can’t trust him where I don’t believe that he loves me. Yeah, right. That’s such a good conversation. You guys. I, I so appreciate it. I know that we’ve left so much unsaid and so just to our listeners, a couple of things, if there’s something we left unsaid or something didn’t make sense or you want to argue with us, please, you know, send us an email, let us know. We’d be happy to talk about some of these things more in a, in future podcasts and a, or if there are other issues that you want us to address, please email us those too. So Kelly, if you’re listening, thank you so much for your email.
Hope it’s been helpful for you and, and uh, and that you can connect with us more. So, um, Kyle, would you, would you pray for us as we close? Maybe especially pray for Kelly and, and uh, and others listening who themselves are wrestling with these things. Sure, absolutely. Thanks. Almost gracious. God, we just thank you so much that you lavish so much gracefulness and you allow us to come to you as we are. We don’t have to hide. We don’t have to beat ourselves up about who we are and what we’ve done. What will you invite us into a beautiful relationship with you and father? I ask specifically for Kelly that she would know that you are inviting her into a beautiful relationship with you and father, I pray that she can always keep her eyes up in focused on you to know that Lord, you’re more interested in her relationship, enjoying close to you. Then you are just with this change that she’s looking for because you know, father that as she draws closer to you, transformation happens from the inside out. And so father, I thank you just even for her boldness and just her courage, God, just to lay this all out on the table and to ask the hard questions. And so father, for anyone else who out there who is wrestling with some of these hard questions, I pray, father, that they heard something today that would help them to have a different perspective and would they know God that you love and care for them just like you loving care for Kelly and that you want to meet them exactly where they are. And so father, we lift all of them up to you and we ask this in the blessed name of your son Jesus Christ.