One of the most prominent addictions listed in 1st Corinthians 6:9; and potentially, one of the most powerful addictions of our day is that of homosexuality. Because of political correctness, some have tried to rename homosexuality as an alternate lifestyle. It is an extremely powerful addiction and difficult for many to deal with because it combines two powerful problems: identity confusion and sexual addiction. Both can go back to early childhood. Out of the many self-serving theories that have been proposed concerning the etiology of homosexuality (especially in the wake of homosexual agenda today), I have found only one that both explains this problem and is consistent with what the Bible has to say.
This prominent theory of the origin of homosexuality suggests that the problem begins with identity confusion at around three years of age. I believe that the early onset of this problem accounts for the fact that many homosexuals believe they have always had homosexual tendencies. Around this age, the male child begins to develop a gender identity by transferring his allegiance from the nurturing mother to the father. A number of factors can lead to a child rejecting his gender identity. The father may reject him or be distant or cold. The mother may attempt to meet her emotional needs through the child (this is called "emotional incest"). As a consequence, the child does not really feel a part of the male gender, yet knows that he is not a woman. A quest for identity or connection then begins that can last a lifetime. A reparative drive that motivates each of us to try to resolve our problems, drives the growing child to attempt to find his lost identity by connecting with males. Because women do not make this transfer of allegiance, fewer lesbians exist in the population. Many times a girl becomes a lesbian as a result of the rejection of a distant or alcoholic mother or rejecting father. Because the identity-rejecting female child is without a gender identity, a desperate search for identity again occurs. (For more on the etiology and treatment of homosexuality see Nicolosi, 1997)
Because of the rejection and dysfunction in these families, feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy provide the groundwork for addiction. When the resulting codependency is combined with a lack of intimacy, sexual abuse, a shameful attitude about sex or early childhood sexual experience, all the factors for sexual addiction are present. Consequently, when intimacy with the same gender is attempted as a result of the reparative drive, sexualization occurs. However, because the connection meets both the need for identity and triggers the sexual endorphin, it becomes a stronger and harder type of addiction to break. This is clear from it being listed among the addictions listed in 1 Co 6:9:
1 Co 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (NKJV)
Please note that according to the Bible homosexuals just like all the addictiokns can be washed, sanctified, and justified if they will turn from their sin. That homosexuality is sin is clear from Romans Chapter 1:
Ro 1:26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (NKJV)
It is important to realize that many men who call themselves "homosexuals" really are not; and that most studies concerning the numbers of homosexuals in our society are flawed because of this difference. A true homosexual struggles with both identity confusion and sexual addiction. A sexual addict may develop a preference for sex with the same gender or even children through masturbation or sexual experiences and may not be a true homosexual.
Escaping the Homosexual Lifestyle
Nowhere else in the Bible is the struggle to overcome the pull and influence of homosexuality as clearly portrayed as in the story of Lot, which begins in Genesis Chapter 11. Let me provide a brief understanding of the principles presented in this story as a foundation for dealing with the problem of homosexuality.
1. The roots of homosexuality go back to the family of origin. Lot means “something veiled, covered, or hidden inside.” His father’s name, Haran, means “childhood or cessation,” indicating that something is not right in childhood. Lot's father died before his grandfather Terah (delay) in Ur of the Chaldess, a place known for its soothsayers and spirits. It is not absolutely clear, but possibly Lot's father died when Lot was still a child and the resulting problem became internalized or hidden.
2. Yielding to homosexual tendencies is a choice of lust and bondage. In Genesis Chapter 13, when Abraham and Lot's flocks became too large, Lot chose to "pitch his tent (or desires) toward Sodom." Sodom means “burning” (desire) and Gomorrah means “submersion due to binding” (something under the surface causing a bondage). Zoar, another city that was to be destroyed, means “insignificance” (one of the underlying feelings of the homosexual). Lot chose this area of land because it was well-watered, therefore, it showed promise to meet his needs.
3. God sees homosexuality as an exceedingly great sin. This is true, because, at its root, homosexuality is a rejection of God's unconditional love; (Romans 1:21-32) and it results in the destruction not only of individuals but whole societies. Genesis 13:13 states, "But the men of Sodom [were] wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly."
4. Without repentance, the homosexual lifestyle will eventually lead to judgment. God sent the angels to rescue Lot and destroy Sodom and the surrounding cities. By now, Lot lived in the city and was one of its leaders. This shows how even Christians can be drawn into accepting the homosexual lifestyle. It is clear that Lot knew what was going on in the city, because he tried so strongly to persuade the angels to stay at his house in order to protect them. The fact that he baked unleavened bread for the angels, I believe, indicates that Lot had not yet acted on his homosexual tendencies. Leaven usually stands for sin, and unleavened bread for the absence of sin. It is also clear that Lot still believed that at least homosexual rape was wrong, since he admonished the people of Sodom to "do not do so wickedly." (Genesis 19: 3-7)
5. Homosexuality is an aggressive, selfish, seductive spirit. Homosexual lust many times becomes more and more perverted until the homosexual even attempts to force his views and lifestyle on others. This is manifested today in homosexual political action groups like ACTUP which has been know to actually attack churches that oppose the homosexual agenda. Here the homosexuals attempted to knock down Lot's door in an attempt to rape the angels. When he resisted them, they accused him of judging them (homophobia). Lot had become so influenced by the perversion of Sodom that he offered his daughters to be raped instead. Even after the angels blinded the homosexuals, they still continued to try to find the door! (Genesis 19:11)
6. Homosexuality blinds those who are surrounded by it. Lot's sons-in-law had become so blinded to the sin of homosexuality that they thought Lot's warning of a coming judgment against homosexuality was a joke.
7. The homosexual struggler must escape while there is still time. The angels warned Lot that his only hope was to escape immediately. The pull of homosexuality was so strong that the angels had to physically take Lot and his wife by the hand in order to get them to leave. In the same way, it many times takes significant outside influence to help the homosexual struggler to choose to leave his lifestyle.
8. After leaving the influence of the gay lifestyle, even looking back can lead to destruction. Lot still did not want to leave the influence of the homosexual lifestyle but begged to remain in Zoar (insignificant). This shows how the homosexual believes that his needs will not be met without his homosexuality. He is still holding onto his feelings of insignificance. Even when leaving, he still desires what little bit he can get away with. His wife, however, looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. The word for salt means “to dissipate.” Homosexuality is a dissipation or waste of real life and destroys the potential of the person’s life.
9. The homosexual lifestyle ultimately leads to destruction. Brimstone (exceeding trouble) and fire (burning with lust) brought the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
10. Intercession by others is important in the process of deliverance from homosexuality. Abraham had previously interceded with God to spare Sodom. (Ge 18:17-33) The Bible tells us in Genesis 19:29, that God "sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow" because "God remembered Abraham."
11. Just because a Christian escapes homosexuality does not necessarily mean he will escape all the consequences of the homosexual lifestyle. Lot's daughters had become so perverted during their years in Sodom that they chose to commit incest with Lot in order to have children. Their descendants represent the aftermath of playing around with homosexuality. Moab, the son of the firstborn daughter by incest, symbolizes lust and Ammon, the son by incest of Lot’s youngest daughter stands for selfish desires. The children reaped what the father had sown. The Moabites and Ammonites became known for their strong lust and selfish cruelty.
Overcoming Identity Confusion
So far we have learned that prayer and help from others is essential in helping the homosexual to decide to quit. Next, we need an answer for overcoming the underlying lust and identity confusion.
The key to discovering an answer for the healing of identity confusion comes through Lot's son by incest, Moab. As previously stated, Moab stands for “lust.” In the story of Ruth (in the book of Ruth), Naomi and her family moved to Moab (or lust). One of Naomi’s Israelite sons married Ruth, a Moabite. This is a clear case of identity confusion. Ruth gave up her Moabite identity for her husband’s Israelite identity. When her husband died, she no longer had an identity and had to choose which identity she would have. This is the case of the homosexual. She has rejected her birth identity and is seeking another. In the story of Ruth, we have in this same story both parts of homosexuality—lust and identity confusion.
1. Choosing lust over your Christian identity leads to spiritual death. Due to a famine in the land (needs not met), Elimelech, which means “my God is King,” (indicating he is saved) moved his family to Moab (lust). The result was that he and his two sons died (as a result of lust), and Naomi (pleasantness or joy), his wife, was left helpless in a foreign land. She had two daughters-in-law, Orpah (youthful freshness) and Ruth (friendship). As a result, they experienced identity confusion since they were Moabites by birth and Israelites by marriage to their now-deceased husbands.
2. The homosexual must clearly choose his identity. I am not necessarily implying that Ruth or Orpah were lesbians, although I believe that they most likely had a problem with sexual lust (since they were Moabites). Naomi gave her daughters-in-laws a choice to return to Israel with her or return to their Moabite identity. She made it clear that doing so would not be easy. Ruth clearly chose the Israelite identity when she said in Ruth 1: 16-17, "...for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people [shall be] my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, [if ought] but death part thee and me."
3. The struggler must seek Jesus as the first step toward establishing his new identity. In Israel, only a kinsman redeemer was allowed to marry a widow so that the land and inheritance would remain in the family. Boaz means “strength.” He was an ancestor of Christ and is a type of Christ. Ruth took the first step of building a relationship with Boaz when she chose his fields in which to follow the harvesters picking up grain for herself and her mother-in-law Naomi. When she did this, she found favor with him. Jesus is looking for those who would seek to find their identity in Him.
4. Fellowship with other believers is important. Boaz chose to elevate Ruth by allowing her to eat with the servants and glean even among the sheaves without reproach. He had them "accidentally" drop handfuls for her to pick up. Healthy, nonsexual, same-sex relationships are essential for homosexual recovery. The homosexual needs and desires connection to the same sex, but needs to learn how to connect in a "correct" healthy way.
5. The homosexual must seek out and ask for redemption. Ruth had to go to the threshing floor and symbolically ask Boaz to "spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid" or give her his identity. (Ruth 3:6-9) Boaz graciously did what was needed, just as Christ has already done all that is needed for us to receive His identity. In today's Exodus International Movement, which attempts to help homosexuals escape from homosexuality, the main emphasis is on a relationship with God, the Father. God must become the replacement, or Righteous Father, in place of the parent that the homosexual rejected many years earlier.
6. With a new identity, the ex-homosexual can be fruitful and bear children. The blessing of the people at Ruth’s wedding was that Ruth's house would be like that of Pharez (bursting forth). He was the son of Judah and Tamar (who prostituted herself with Judah in order to receive the family identity, which she was denied when her husband died. (Genesis 38:6-30) Tamar and Ruth are both in the lineage of Christ! Ruth's son Obed was the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David. This shows how in spite of their sexual struggles of the past, just like Tamar and Ruth, former homosexuals are fully accepted by God into the body of Christ.
7. The former homosexual can learn to be a servant and a blessing to others. Through Ruth, Naomi, who had chosen to go to Moab along with her husband and sons and lost almost everything, was blessed and restored. The selfishness of homosexuality must be replaced with a giving, servant's spirit. Ruth’s son was named Obed, which means “servant.”
Ruth 4:17 And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed (servant): he [is] the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Dealing with Homosexuality in the Church
The last issue to be dealt with is how we are to address the problem of homosexuality within the church itself. With the advent of the "homosexual church" and even the ordination of homosexual pastors in some denominations, this is an important issue.
In Judges Chapter 20, we find the story of the rape of the concubine of a man from Bethlehem-Judah by the homosexuals in Gibeah. They had initially demanded to have sex with him, but settled with raping his concubine all night until she died. (Judges 19:22-29)
1. The homosexual act cuts a person to pieces and kills his spirit. After the death of his concubine, the man from Bethlehem-Judah cut her in pieces and sent the pieces to the tribes of Israel. The previous act of attempted homosexuality and the rape of the concubine are labeled as "wickedness."
2. The homosexual must be confronted and given a chance to repent. The advice and counsel was that one tenth of the Israeli soldiers were to confront Gibeah, where the offense had occurred. Remember that Gibeah was the Hivite city that tricked the Israelites into a treaty. I believe that this selection of one out of ten represents the elders of the church. They were "knit together as one man." The elders must be unified in purpose.
3. Not only the unrepentant homosexuals, but those that defended them had to be cut off from Israel. Just as the Israelites swore that they would not give their daughters to a Benjamite, so the church is called not to closely associate with the sexually immoral who call themselves Christians. Confronting the homosexuals who raped the concubine did not turn out to be an easy task but resulted in the loss of many lives. Confronting homosexuality in the church is not usually easy (The battle with the Benjamites took three days) and can result in the loss of church members (thousands of Israelites died fighting the Benjamites), but it was and is clearly the will of God (they inquired of God three times). If it is not swiftly dealt with, the strong homosexual spirit will invade the church and bring destruction to many people. In 1st Corinthians Chapter 5, we find a similar story where the Apostle Paul directed that an incest perpetrator be excluded from the church "for the destruction of the flesh." After repentance, he was later restored. (2 Corinthians 2:6-8)
4. The church must use wisdom in dealing with homosexuality in the church. The Benjamites had to be drawn out of the city before being defeated. The homosexual community labels those who object to homosexuality as homophobic and tries to justify homosexuality from the scriptures. These defenses need to be destroyed through God's Word before the homosexual spirit can be defeated.
5. Those that do repent can again be restored again to fruitfulness. Only 600 of the Benjamites (2.4%) fled to the rock of Rimmon (pomegranate which symbolizes fruitfulness). The Israelites were sent to make peace with them. Unfortunately, because homosexuality is such a strong delusion, many who are confronted will not repent and instead leave the church.
6. Those that do repent are to be welcomed back and befriended by the church. Even though the Israelites had a difficult time finding mates for the remnant of the Benjamites who remained, they helped them. The church must be careful not to ostracize the recovering ex-homosexual and should attempt to provide assistance in his struggle. Dealing with identity confusion requires the development of healthy heterosexual relationships, and the healthiest of these are to be found in the church.
Victory over Lust and Addictions
God has given us the answers for dealing with lust and addictions. We are promised complete victory over lust (Moab) and selfish desires (Ammon).
Zep 2:9 Therefore [as] I live, saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Surely Moab (lust) shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, [even] the breeding of nettles, and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation: the residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my people shall possess them.
When everything is taken into account, the underlying truth is that the root of all of these problems is a matter of placing our faith in the external things of this world instead of in God. Development of an addiction is very similar to the development of faith (but in the wrong thing). The Bible clearly sums up the answer for lust and addictions:
1 Jo 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
For additional resources dealing with homosexuality, see Pursuing Sexual Wholeness (1989) and its associated workbook by Comiskey, Homosexual No More (1991) by Consiglio, or Out of Egypt (1988) by Howard (for lesbians). For another approach that deals with lust, see the Model of Ehud in my book, Faith Therapy (2005).
Steps for Overcoming Homosexuality
1. Understand that homosexuality is a combination of identity confusion and sexual addiction that usually begins with feelings of parental rejection at about three years of age.
2. However, choice is still a major factor. Not everyone who feels rejected at an early age becomes a homosexual and many who are tempted to have a homosexual relationship do not chose to act according to that temptation.
3. The underlying basis of homosexuality is a rejection of what God intended the person to be and of God as the source of love and protection. This rejection of God leads the client to try to meet his needs for gender identity and love through lust.
4. Homosexuality is accompanied by an aggressive, selfish, seductive spirit which requires dramatic efforts to escape.
5. The homosexual must repent, or he must be put out of the church until he does.
6. He should realize that either his faith in God will result in his recovery or his homosexuality will destroy his faith.
7. The homosexual must choose to abandon his false identity, accept his Godly identity, and build a relationship with God his Father.
8. The client must deal with his sexual addiction and trust in God to meet his needs and accept his new identity in Christ.