We are born into this world as little love sponges. We are made for love, perfect love. A pure, unselfish love that is totally focussed on us, can't wait to be in our company, is fascinated by who we are and laughs with delight at the sound of our voice. We were meant to be surrounded by a love that will never let us go and will love us forever. We were meant to go on exhilarating adventures with this Love of our Life. We were always meant to be the Favourite, to know joy unspeakable, overflowing life, ringing approval, great value, security, and peace and abounding trust. We were never meant to need comforting because we were never meant to know about being hurt, confused, fearful or alone.
As little love sponges we were meant to suck it all up, get saturated, and squeeze it out on everybody around us. That was the plan. It was God's plan. It still is God's plan. We were meant to get it from God and give it to each other in overflowing abundance.
We were made for it, but we don't get it. Not in the world in which we live. Because - by and large - we have separated ourselves from the Source of it. Only God can give it.
This is where our troubles begin, because when we don’t receive it, we quickly begin to look for substitutes for it. Mostly we don't even know we are doing it. We look for people to love us, things to comfort us, make us feel better, secure, happy, stimulated. We seek to matter, to be someone, to get, to achieve, to be approved, to be admired, to be special.
The whole world is doing it and sometimes the search can take us into dark and addictive places and we all know what they are. Often our sexuality gets involved in the search and it becomes active around the point of our deepest wound. That’s what’s at the back of homosexuality, and a myriad of heterosexual addictions and pacifiers. We are all people who have yet to find their way back to the Father, who made us for Himself, the Lover of our souls.
I put homosexuality squarely in this category because it is nothing very different from anything else the human race gets up to in its search for love, security and significance.
The Healing of our Wounds
And so it is that we come to ourselves in pig pens, get very lost, or wander off. But the Lover of our Souls, and Father of his kids, comes searching for us wherever we are, whatever we’ve done. He can’t wait to have us back. He can’t wait to show us what he’s really like – and He’s not the God of our fearful imaginations. We are everything to Him, and He wants to be Everything to us. He gives us His life in place of our mess, lets us cry in his arms, binds up our wounds, pours in oil and instructs us about His life and how to live in it. He restores our souls.
So we have the parable of the prodigal son who wasted his substance, came to himself and met his father running towards him in great joy, bursting to throw a party because he had his son back again. We have the house that was turned upside down while the housekeeper searched for one lost coin and when she found it ecstatically told all her friends. We have the shepherd leaving his ninety nine sheep, searching for the one that had wandered away and exuberantly returning with it. Of course the son, the coin and the sheep represent each one of us and the stories say even the angels in heaven rejoice when each of us finds our way back. What Christians have over unbelievers – simply because they are open to it – is ready access to a source of love, forgiveness and healing that goes to the very ground of our beings and slowly and steadily puts right what went wrong. If we try to change our own behaviours, we only revert. Only God can change our hearts, that is, the deep insides of us. In fact I don’t know that healing from wounds buried deep in our personal histories can be healed by anyone other than God because no-one else knows us as well as He does, loves us so unconditionally, can go as deep as He can or knows exactly where to go and how. Also the resources we need to forgive others are only found in Him. As this book attempts to show in all its stories, God’s healing of our wounds is a process because the heart is a slow learner. But it has a very patient Teacher.
Homosexuality is not sexual in origin
I don’t actually like the word "homosexuality." I don't think for a moment that it is essentially sexual in nature and I use it in the book only as a shorthand. “Homo” means “same”. Obviously people who have sex with people of the “same” gender are behaving homosexually. But classical homosexuality doesn’t start out that way. It starts out usually as a simple reaching for things that are missing in the life of a child who is growing up biologically as a boy or a girl – usually love and approval and acceptance from same sex figures that are important to a child – like parents and peer groups. These are our natural role models and the people from whom we absorb our sense of gender in a daily osmosis. This reaching is not homosexuality. It is legitimate homo-emotional need and part of normal gender drive, and boys develop heterosexually because of it. The personality is oriented toward what is needed. Small boys do it when they make Dad and other men their heroes and play in exclusive same-sex peer groups. It consolidates their sense of themselves as boys and they grow up heterosexually.
Pity the boy who reaches for a father who isn’t there, or meets same-sex sexual abuse (confusing male touch and affection with eroticism) or is rejected or bullied by his same-sex peer groups to the level that he withdraws, with negative effects on normal processes of gender osmosis. He might begin to focus on one particular boy who personifies all that he wishes he was, but isn’t. The worst thing that can happen at this time is that he begins to believe he is homosexual. He is not homosexual, he is just still reaching emotionally for what he’s needing. And it’s not homosexual sex. But he has no-one to help him build confidence and initiative and pack in a sense of gender. And so it goes. He only becomes homosexual when he confuses his reaching with his developing sex drive, but has no-one to help him understand what’s going on or intervene on his behalf, and so begins to act out.
Pity the young girl who is sexually abused, or identifies with her father in her rejection of a weak or abused mother, and so rejects the feminine world for the masculine world. When her femininity gets swamped by her masculine side she can become vulnerable to same sex attraction as she subconsciously seeks to redress the balance. She may find herself attaching strongly to another woman and finally identifying as gay. Much more about this in Chapters 7-9 and also in Chapter Three of My Genes Made Me Do It!
None of these things inevitably produces homosexuality, but can in certain people, particularly if other contributing factors also come into play.
There is no condemnation, rejection or bigotry in Craving for Love. No-one with classic same-sex attraction chose it. They slowly came to the realisation that it was simply there. Asking a person why they are homosexual is like asking a heterosexual why they are heterosexual. They have no idea. You don't reject or despise or form a bigoted opinion about people who have no idea why they are as they are. But there are reasons and they can slowly be identified, understood and resolved.
It is now widely and erroneously believed that homosexuality has genetic or biological causes so that it is innate and cannot be changed. But the scientific facts are now indisputable – homosexuality is not biologically hard-wired in any way. In fact half the homosexual and bisexual population becomes exclusively heterosexual over the natural course of life – most of them without any therapeutic intervention. (See My Genes Made Me Do It! Homosexuality and the Scientific Evidence. NE and BK Whitehead, 290pp. www.mygenes.co.nz) Any biological contribution to homosexuality is weak and indirect – of the order of a man becoming a champion basketball player because he is tall, or a woman becoming a celebrated player of Liszt because she has long fingers. Research into the brain is now revealing how plastic and responsive it is. Nothing about it dictates sexual orientation. Rather it will rewire itself to reflect and accommodate the things we habitually do and think and changes in what we do and think. Homosexual fantasy and activity may change our brains, but a change in our thinking and behaviour will change them again. Fixed sexual orientation is a convenient myth.
My Genes Made Me Do It! examines the scientific literature to see if homosexuality is inborn or not: The conclusion, homosexuality is overwhelmingly nurture not nature. That book, now in its fourth reprint, is probably the most definitive, detailed and thoroughly referenced publication available internationally on homosexuality and the science. It took a scientist, Dr N E Whitehead, to research and write it. But in the meantime demand for Craving for Love has continued, obviously because it continues to speak. Women particularly have wanted a reprint, and online copies of the book are steadily downloaded from the website.
Changes since 1993
Society has changed since 1993 when Craving for Love was first written, but the issues behind homosexuality and sexual addiction haven’t, with this exception. The West is now a sex-on-demand society. Very little is off-limits. The clothes are off. Experimentation – a little bit of her a little bit of him – is something teenagers and college age students do these days. Bisexuality is cool in the In Crowd. LUG is a commonly enough used acronym for Lesbian Until Graduation. What this is going to do to the future gender identity of young people is not yet known, but down the track a bit we can expect gender confusion, unwanted flashbacks, difficulties in sustaining intimate relationships, and associated depression and low self esteem.
The mental health professions
What has also changed – or intensified – is the ignorance and blindness of the mental health professions about homosexuality. They have been strongly politicised by active and effectual gay interest groups and their supporters who are intent on banning any kind of therapeutic assistance for those with unwanted homosexuality. This is particularly so with the American Psychological Association, which sways policy on the subject through the Western World, just because of its size and influence. Very few people know enough to argue with a body of that size and power, and hit a wall of resistance if they try (See Chapter Eight). President Obama has clearly been influenced by lobby groups of this kind in a recent pronouncement that he is in favour of official moves to ban therapeutic intervention to stabilise gender confused youngsters who believe they are homosexual.
The American Psychological Association appears to be rubber-stamping the conclusions of its gay and lesbian Task Force – most publicly identified as gay. The Task Force has a vested interest in discrediting evidence of change. Its conclusions are political not scientific. Its science is selective and there is now an enormous burden of proof on this professional organisation to show it is not intentionally misrepresenting the science.
But really the attitudes of society, the church, the mental health professions and the politicians are powerful but peripheral issues. God still comes to seek his lost and wandering sheep and his prodigal sons because he loves us and wants to rescue us from ourselves and stop us hurting ourselves in our ignorance. Fortunately the American Psychological Association can’t do a thing to stop him.
What’s also changed in the last 20 years is the attitude of the church. This book was first written when there was a clear conservative/liberal divide. The conservatives wanted to hang homosexuals and the liberals wanted to ordain them. (Both widely missing the mark.) These days many conservative Christians are sympathetic to homosexuality. “If they really love each other why not?” they say.
There are two equal and opposite mistakes that the church makes and it’s hard to know which is worse. Leanne Payne talked of “a false compassion that is worse than death.” False compassion is when you give the alcoholic his bottle because that’s what he wants. He has a love relationship with alcohol. It’s also when you tell the person with same sex attraction that it’s a gift from God. This is the mistake the “liberal” church makes. But the liberal church has one big tick in its favour. It offers non-judgemental acceptance which, of course, is exactly what God does for us in Christ – unconditional and undeserved. And acceptance and non-erotic love – especially from people of the same sex – are several of the main ingredients in the healing of homosexual attraction. So acceptance and inclusion are very valuable. But after that the liberal church gets it very wrong: the non-discerning blanket blessing on homosexual unions today being widely offered by the church is not something God is blessing.
There is no echo in same-sex sexuality of the Image after which we are made. God doesn’t express his intimate love towards Israel or the church in male/male or female/female terms – unless he is speaking of his relationship as a (genderless) Parent with children. Otherwise the two paramount “intimacy” paradigms in the Scriptures are of God, the lover (masculine) and Israel his beloved (feminine), and Christ (masculine) with the ekklesia as his bride to be. Paul the Apostle speaks of marriage as a shadow of the relationship between Christ (the Son) and the Church – who is portrayed as feminine.
The attitude of the conservative church – apart from some switched on and informed pockets here and there – is perhaps the worst. Like the liberal church it often has very little understanding of what homosexuality actually is. But unlike it, it has very little acceptance of people with same-sex attraction, who learn to keep their mouths shut and finally drop out, probably right out, or at least into gay-friendly environments. It has a moral view, not necessarily a Christian one, in my opinion. Morality doesn’t heal anyone, it tends to point the finger. But at least it still has a Christian theology that can be appealed to and softened; the liberal church can be little different from a club for religious secularites with nothing truly redemptive to say.