Is there any male out there who has struggled with unwanted same-sex attractions who has not wondered, “How did this become a part of me?” Didn’t think so. Indeed, that question haunted me for years and years.
Let me immediately give you the answer you have longed to learn: no one knows!
There … are you satisfied? Didn’t think so.
Unfortunately, that is the answer. Despite centuries of attempts to learn, neither the Bible nor science has given the individual man his answer. Thus, whenever you hear a counselor or researcher or pastor pronounce with certainty as to what causes homosexuality – beware. Oh sure, there are a lot of theories that claim to know theanswer. They don’t.
However, while we can never be absolutely certain of what caused our same-sex attractions, there does seem to be some factors that contribute to it for many males. How many of these factors apply to you, well, I will let you decide.
This issue of “Counseling Insights” looks at perhaps the first, perhaps the most important, and definitely the most common factor – sensitivity.
“Bob” [a combination of multiple clients whom I have counseled] was always a “sensitive” boy. People always thought of him as “nice” and “a good boy”. He never liked to hurt others, and did not want to be hurt himself. He shied away from physical aggression (e.g., rough-housing with the other young boys; joining a team contact-sport; etc.). He was more sensitive to criticism, especially from those above him. Consequently, it did not take much to make him cry, as he seemed to “bruise easily” by people’s negative feedback to him. Accordingly, he always tried to please others, and avoided conflict. As he got older, he developed better “senses” than other boys – he was more capable of “seeing” creative possibilities. This allowed him to enjoy and excel in the “creatives”: art, writing, drama, cooking, appearance, music, etc. He also analyzed; constantly internally investigating whether he is “doing life correctly”, “normal”, and “acceptable”.
What caused “Bob” to be sensitive? No one knows; he just always was.
But there was a price to pay for being sensitive.
Because he did not like physical aggression, he grimaced when hugged (paradoxically, later in life, he would crave to be hugged). He also did not like playing contact sports, and if forced to play, he felt awkward and ill-fitting. Others agreed. He was not selected to play with the other boys; he was not “good enough”. There was a price to pay for that. He stayed with the girls, drawing favor with them – while receiving teasing from the other boys. Unkind names; cruel ones. Names that made him think he was not like the other boys.
Because he was easily hurt by stern comments from authority people (even mild criticism would reduce him to tears), he sought to always please them. He lived to never do anything wrong; to never challenge those more powerful than himself; to soothe others when they were upset; to never express his own bad feelings to others; to assume he was in error. Indeed, he would eventually come to a belief that something was unmistakably wrong -- with himself. There was a price to pay for that belief -- passivity, lack of initiating, lack of confronting, hiding his true feelings. He became an “easy target” to be picked on. Bullied. Abused. Sexually molested.
Because contact-sports and male’s negative comments brought him pain, he sought individual or creative activities -- which he naturally liked, and where he could not be hurt. Drawing, writing, practicing music, imagining himself to be someone else (which would later allow him to excel as an actor) – these became how he spent his time alone (while many of his male peers were playing with other boys on team sports). However, his private hobbies turned into unusual talents – a “gift” which is not popular to have when you are a teenager trying to fit in.
The teen years brought hormones, puberty, bodily changes, confusion, secrets, shame, private doubts, isolation, and masks. “Am I normal?” This question was usually self-answered in the negative -- in many, many ways. “Why do I notice boys with such envy and longing? Everyone likes dating girls – why do I get so nervous about being alone with one? How come my body is not as developed as the other teenagers? How come I’m more comfortable with a group of girls than with the guys? Why do I have these erotic dreams of boys? People mock me – why?” Yes, the teen years extract a great price for the “crime” of having always been sensitive.
The adult years cost a lot, as well. Inability to express bad feelings results in anxiety, depression, and social isolation. The need to prove to yourself that you are “acceptable” results in perfectionism, self-focus, and lack of contentment. Years of secretive looking at other men with lust, masturbating to homoerotic images or fantasies, seeking physical pleasure and acceptance from other men, has resulted in sexual addiction. Inability to be comfortable in one’s own skin has brought an endless quest to have someone else’s – and never succeeding. The years of failed attempts have created loneliness, hopelessness, dependency, and yet isolation. Even from God.
“What did I do to cause this?”
It began when you were “sensitive”.
Does any of this description fit you? Thought so. Me too.
But we are loved. And loveable. And can give love. Our sensitivity does not have to create sexual addiction and identity distress. There is a way to sexual purity and peace.