This is a post from one member of our online community, The Purity Report. We thought it worth sharing here…
SSA has been an underlying theme in my story. Some of the root causes that I see here: father who was often overbearing and not affectionate, early abuse by a much older boy that felt like acceptance at the time (age 4 or 5), feeling inferior to boys who were good athletes or very sure of themselves.
I have come to dislike the very concept of identifying ourselves by what society calls “sexual orientation.” There was a very large group of reports on the social costs of pornography put out by the Witherspoon Institute in 2010. One of the areas of research was done by Norman Doidge on “sexual plasticity.” Essentially, he found that the kind of person that we are sexually attracted to is neither hard wired from birth nor does it remained fixed throughout our lives. A quote:
“Though some scientists increasingly emphasize the inborn basis of our sexual preferences, it is also true that some people have heterosexual or homosexual attractions for part of their lives and then develop opposite attractions later on in life.”
This is secular (not Christian) research, but the point is (for me at least) we are learning that sexual attraction isn’t really something we are born in, it is something we largely develop due to what we are exposed to. So, why do we obsess on identifying ourselves by what we are sexually attracted to? If that is NOT something which is hard wired in us, why would we consider it a defining characteristic?
This point was driven home to me last year watching one of those vocal talent shows so popular on TV these days. They often do a kind of backstory video piece on contestants just before they sing for the first time in front of the judges. There was one guy they showed, and in his video backstory, the very first words out of his mouth were, “I’m so-and-so, and I’m gay.” I remember thinking, “Okay, this guy is on national TV in a singing contest. What relevance does his sexual attractions have on whether he can sing or not? Why is he even bringing it up?”
I am guessing he brought it up because more than he wants to be a good singer, he wants to be approved for who he is. And, sadly, he appears to see his sexual attractions as the most defining part of who he is.
I am now a married man with two teenage kids. I’ll be honest, before marriage I didn’t have much sexual interest in women at all. I did want to be married and be a father, however, so when I met the woman who is now my wife and found someone I really liked, I married her. It did take time, but I am now quite sexually attracted to her. Do I ever feel SSA anymore? Sometimes, but I don’t need to “own” that as if it’s a part of my identity. Certainly not a very important part of my identity.
I chose to identify myself as a child of God, a loved member of my church, a father, a husband, a musician and other things. What or who I may feel sexual attraction toward comes way down the list of anything I want to own as my identity.
Twenty years ago I could not say any of this. But, it has been this shift of mind that has helped me accept myself and feel accepted. I want to be accepted as husband, father, church member, brother in Christ and child of God. When I focus on that, the rest is way less important and therefore has way less power over me to make me feel inferior. I can ignore it more easily when I don’t feel it is who I am.
Sexual abuse damaged me. The healing process is a lifelong journey and I am much more at peace than in the past. However, I will always carry some scars until I reach heaven. I do better when I don’t focus on the scars anymore, however. When I look at them too long I feel ugly. My close brothers in Christ know all about them, but that’s not what they see when they look at me. I am not the scars.