A little disclaimer. I mention sex stuff in this post. It’s not graphic or anywhere close to written porn but it does mention how masturbation and porn were stigmatized in my past and the role they play in my life today. The post isn’t about those two things but thought I would let you know before diving in :). Thanks for reading!
I am often accused by former friends and current exgay leaders (exgay ministry is the religious version of conversion therapy) because I “went back” to being gay because of secret or hidden unconfessed sin. Nope. That is not true. The only hidden sin was the self-loathing that repressed my sexual self, full identity, and default relational approach.
I never hid my sin. I actually was one of the few, and I mean very few, people in Exodus who didn’t live a double-life.
On the one hand, I was a true believer in that everything I preached, I practiced. I did live a celibate life for over twenty years. I did not have sex with another person … or watch porn… at all … ever … for about 25 years altogether until after we closed Exodus. I was also very self-righteous. I was GOING to be the GUY who DIDN’T live a double-life so I could hold ACCOUNTABLE the ones who DO!
It was a weird power thing as well. I know ::: rolleyes ::: I was a mess.
I still struggle with a few of the consequences of that in my sex life today. I don’t struggle with it morally or spiritually. I struggle with the stuff I should have learned earlier in my twenties. I didn’t give myself permission to learn or even think about it until after I came back out six years ago. And while this is changing, I honestly do not think about sex as often as the average red-blooded male because I literally wired my brain to not think about it for two and half decades.
However, I was really good at masturbation when I did “give in to temptation.” When I did “fall” to masturbation, I immediately confessed it to my mentor and spiritual accountability. Yes, we weren’t supposed to masturbate because it was considered adultery against our spouse and/or God. If we fantasized about the same-sex well, that was a whole ‘nother level of sinning against our body!! That was “idol worship” of the phallic god Baal.
It’s ok if you want to roll your eyes this time. I know. #Cult
As I mentioned, I would confess this immediately. Usually with tears and feeling like I was going to throw up. First, I would confess to my mentor (I had two over the course of my time in the exgay cult) and then spiritual accountability (friends and people I worked with at Exodus). These “brothers” would help me try to find the legitimate need trying to be expressed. With sincere, compassionate voices, we usually found some banal over-spiritualized reason or trite pseudo-psychological excuse to make me feel bad and then pray for forgiveness to alleviate feeling bad. Now I know I should have just enjoyed the private release.
And just like Scientology or the NXIVM sex cult, confessed weakness was turned into a weapon to protect the community’s false reality. My former mentor exaggerated my struggles and told others looking for reasons to dismiss my coming out that I was a secret sex addict while at Exodus. I was not. If that rumor is true, dear former mentor, you have born false witness against me. It’s your turn to repent and apologize. But, since he refuses to answer my messages and emails, I doubt I will get his side of that story.
Today, I love sex and am still learning. I enjoyed it and realized it’s just… you know… normal. BTW, I am still not a sex-addict. I am not rolling around with phallic gods named Baal either.
You want to know what the real hidden sin is? It was self-loathing. It was lying to myself and then to others that changing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity is even possible. It was in burying my sexual self under the narcissistic projection of a “call to celibacy.” My sin was in denying our Creator’s true intent of bringing relational beauty into the world, through me, as a gay man. My only sin against God was in lying to myself and others about Them (non-binary and Trinitarian pronoun on purpose) and what They wanted for us as LGBTQ+ people. I sinned against God by not allowing myself to live fully as a sexual person, to embrace and express the sexual and relational gifts the Creator has given me.
There is no doubt that if any of my former friends, mentors, colleagues run across this, they will continue to say how “darkened” I have become. That God has handed me over to Satan, and my thinking is futile.
Well, they can believe what they want to believe to numb their conscience by explaining away how one of their own, for over twenty years, was in the upper echelons of leadership in the exgay movement, escaped their trap of stigmatized and legalistic religious teachings. The truth is, I was the true believer. I read, promoted, sold, lauded, and protected ALL of them and their programs and resources. I tried to implement most of those dangerous programs and resources personally. From personal and professional experience, I know that all of it is a self-delusional cultish ruse at best and a snake-oil con at worst.
All of it based in what I believe to be the root sin of self-loathing. Just my experienced and informed opinion.
My life is even more transparent, and free now that I have embraced the truth that being gay is normal. Having sex is normal. Denial of LGBTQ+ positivity, equality, and affirmation should be reality is a copout.
Embracing our sexual selves is a mature act of personal responsibility and a genuine source of happiness and joy. It is a part of ourselves to celebrate, not hide.
Let’s have the courage to be ourselves, together,