The choice of how to respond to same-sex attraction is a personal choice and must reflect your personal values.
Each person has to find his own way of dealing with same-sex attraction. Some choose to espouse a same-sex attraction identity, "come out," and live as a gay man or women. Others choose to find resolution of the same-sex attractions and live a heterosexual life. The choice is a personal one and must reflect your personal values. If you decide to resolve same-sex attractions and move beyond them, it is a major life choice and will be a difficult road. The issues that underlie same-sex attraction are central to your personality. Deciding to work on these issues will involve reevaluating your core person and working to change it. This section outlines the steps to go through and some issues to consider as you make these important life decisions.
Step One: Define your personal values
The first step in this process is to determine your personal beliefs and core values. Spend a considerable amount of time thinking about your inner values and writing them down. As I went through this process myself, I realized that I could not just accept the beliefs of my family or society, but had to identify what mattered most to me so I could make decisions based on that. In a sense, it meant getting in touch with my inner self and clarifying for me what I believe to be true. It meant identifying my own beliefs as separate from those of others. Did I believe things because others around me believed them or did I believe them of myself? Once I discovered for myself what is eternally true and internalized those values, I could make choices and not waste time trying to change what is everlastingly true or arguing that it had no right to be true.
Now, I must warn you of a liability in this process. Once you determine what is personally valuable, you cannot blame anyone else or hold a grudge because someone forced you to do something. Obtaining self-clarity empowers you to do things because you want to do them. You no longer perform out of duty, or respect, or fear. Discipline comes from within and you have the will and integrity to subordinate desires and impulses to the values you determine are important. It is a process of creating a deeper conscience and awareness of the values that govern your behavior. Look to yourself and no one else, and you can become the master of yourself.
Some men blame their failures on a lack of discipline. While discipline is important, it is not enough. If you struggle day-by-day and decision-by-decision trying to change behavior by self-discipline alone, you will likely fail. If each time you are faced with a temptation you have to make a choice, you will finally tire and make wrong choices. The problem is not a weak will, but that values and priorities have not become deeply planted in your mind and heart. You need a firm foundation rooted in the principles and core values that are personally important. How much better it is to decide once and for all what you will be and do! Each time you are faced with an alternative, you already have the decision made and merely need to yield to it. How much better to give in to the right choice than the wrong one! When you act in accordance with your core values, you will feel personal satisfaction and increased feelings of self-worth. (For a more in-depth discussion on this topic, read The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management, by Hyrum Smith.)
Step Two: Consider your options
There are really only three options:
- Accept a gay identity and live as a gay man or woman.
- Decide to live a heterosexual life in a traditional family with a spouse.
- Straddle the fence. This is a state of indecision where people haven't decided whether to live a gay live or a heterosexual life. They may resist accepting a gay identity because it conflicts with their personal values or they want a traditional family life. But at the same time, their same-sex urges are strong and they feel a need to pursue sexual gratification. People in this condition are typically frustrated because they have not resolved this inner conflict. This is a state of imbalance and desperation. It typically provides unfulfilling relationships both at home and on the outside. For their own sanity and emotional health, people need to make the choice to accept and live a gay life or a heterosexual life.
Accepting a gay identity
People often feel great relief upon making the difficult choice to accept a gay identity and live as a gay man or woman. This may be a fulfilling option for many individuals. If a gay life is at odds with one's religious beliefs, this decision involves rationalizing their beliefs with their life choice. The options may include setting aside their religious beliefs or accepting other beliefs. This decision may also involve changing one's expectations of a traditional family life. These choices may be easy for some and more difficult for others. Read more about gay identity and living a gay life.
Accepting a heterosexual identity
People may make this choice because of their personal values or religious beliefs. They may want to live in a traditional family with a spouse. They may believe that this is a divine plan that God created for His children's happiness. They may believe this is the only choice for eternal happiness and joy. However, this decision typically does not bring immediate relief because they are still faced with the same-sex attractions that are at odds with a heterosexual identity. This choice involves a difficult, and often long, process of resolving the issues that underlie the same-sex attractions. Read about Jason Park's decision to accept a heterosexual identity.
Step THREE: Decide and commit
After carefully and prayerfully evaluating your options, make a decision. However, a decision alone is not enough. You need to make a firm commitment to follow through, no matter how hard the way. If you believe you can be free of unwanted same-sex desires and behaviors and your life can be happier because of it, you must make a solemn commitment to do whatever to achieve it. The worst thing you can do is make a half-hearted effort, fail, then become convinced that you cannot overcome same-sex attraction.
Speaking on how to get control of our lives, Stephen Covey said, "As we make and keep commitments, even small commitments, we begin to establish an inner integrity that gives us the awareness of self-control and the courage and strength to accept more of the responsibility for our own lives. By making and keeping promises to ourselves and others, little by little, our honor becomes greater than our moods." (Covey Calendar, 8 Feb. 1996)
Step Four: Make a clean break
To show your decision to leave your homosexual past behind, you need to make a clean break from all items and relationships that remind you of it. Although you want to make changes, a part of you may cling to the past that is familiar and holds fond memories. It is important to break from these things because they can keep the old feelings alive in your emotions and undo many of your efforts to make changes.
Make a careful inventory of your life to determine what you need to break from. Are there people you associate with that remind you of past events that will hold you back? Are all your friends uplifting and supportive of your efforts to change your ways? If you are serious about leaving homosexual things behind, you need to leave behind those people that encourage you to associate with homosexual things and develop friendships with men and women who have the light of Christ in their eyes and they will encourage you in righteousness.
Take inventory of your possessions to see if any have a strong association with a person or event you need to leave behind. These might include mementos, gifts, photos, jewelry, or clothing. As hard as it may be to get rid of these, holding on to them will only hold you back. Avoid all activities or places that are homosexual in nature or that trigger temptations. You may even need to look at the area you live in and the route you travel to work. Does any of this remind you of the past you are trying to leave behind? You must be willing to burn the bridges to the past with no thought of returning.
As you identify all these things you plan to eliminate from your life, it will likely seem quite bleak if you don’t replace them with new, wholesome activities that will allow you to associate with men and women you would like to be friends with. Learn to play tennis or racquetball or engage in some other physical activity that will not only help you feel better about yourself, but also give you the chance to associate with new people. Many worthwhile community service agencies will not only help you grow by serving others, but also give opportunities to meet and associate with other men and women.
Once you make important life decisions that are in harmony with your inner values and make commitments to follow through with them, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the way will be easy. Over the years, you have likely developed sophisticated methods of denying or avoiding pain and difficult situations. By now, you probably have realized that these ways of getting short-term relief have turned into your long-term enslavers. It will take some work now to change these methods of denial and avoidance into more healthy ways of facing problems honestly. It may be painful at times, but it can also be richly rewarding. And if you have friends, family, church leaders, a support group, and God on your side, you shouldn’t feel alone in the process.