In my long fight with same-sex attraction and my often burning desire to attract the appropriate attention and love of men, I have learned that men are attracted to certain things and not attracted to others. I’m not speaking of attraction in the sexual or romantic senses. It has long been my contention that all men deal with same-sex attraction, but for some it is a sexual or romantic attraction.For others, it is something else. Even writing this makes me uncomfortable at being so imprecise. Some would say that it’s the difference between lust and admiration. Others would say it’s the difference between physical/emotional and intellectual. It’s more complicated than that.
Many times I’ve heard men who claim to have overcome their homosexuality say that their lust for men has been replaced by admiration. They often describe the difference between when they saw men as potential sexual partners and now how they just admire their masculinity and personalities. It goes against my core beliefs to question other people’s feelings as valid, but this claim seems too simple.
I’ve often been in wards where a good-looking man moves into the ward who is dynamic, charasmatic, well-spoken, good-looking, and all-around attractive. I think to myself, “He’ll end up in the bishopric or on the high council.” Mind you, I’m not claiming personal inspiration here. I’m also not claiming that those who call them are lacking inspiration. I just know same-sex attraction when I see it. To be honest, I think the Lord made them that way so that in the “study it out in your mind” part of seeking inspiration, leaders will be attracted to the right man.
This is why I believe that all men deal with same-sex attraction to some degree. I think we’re supposed to be attracted to each other. I think men are supposed to desire to be with each other, to serve with each other, and to love each other. It’s a divine thing.
In our modern church which has plenty of homophobia, men don’t like to admit it. I think that’s why the message is so strong about attentiveness to wives, which is not a bad thing. It’s just not the highest priority.
With complaints about poor home teaching numbers, I wonder often how much more home teaching would get done if we could return to a time when men thought it was good to spend time with men. I think men still do think it is good, but now it has become more about sports than service.
I have felt the mixed message that I should get home and be with my family and should be out of the home doing my calling and my home teaching. I think if we were half as honest about how men need guy time as we should be, we could focus that need into a more powerful force.
So, hopefully having made the case that same-sex attraction is universal, if in different ways, and that it has some potential for good, I want to turn to how it relates to those of us who deal with same-sex attraction that is much closer to the sexual or romantic kind.
For those who believe in or practice a therapy that is meant to change that attraction, it is encouraged for clients to make healthy connections with men. The part of this therapy I agree with is that it recognizes that men are attracted to men and you can’t fight it. You can only point it in the right direction.
Where I disagree is in the way some go about it. It probably can’t be helped too much that a man seeking therapy from a professional is already in the role of being helped rather than helping. The helper, the therapist, in most versions of the model should most favorably be a man. From an ethical standpoint, the reversal of the roles of helped and helper does not benefit the client.
Where it goes wrong, in my opinion, is when the “helped” role gets reinforced by encouraging the client to find other helped/helper relationships and being on the weaker end of that relationship. I think there is an undeniable rule of relationships that cannot help but taint the method’s effectiveness. The rule is that the one with the most interest has the least power.
Already, in a new relationship where a client has been encouraged and facilitated to reach out and seek a mentor to replace the affections and attentions of an absent father, the client is being relegated to the role with the least power. It is a rare mentor who can make a sustained effort to deal with this without tiring of it or taking advantage of it.
Imagine how flattering it would be to be approached by a struggling soul with a proposal that he needs a man’s man, someone who can show him the ropes of masculinity and heal his needing soul. It can be a fairly tempting offer, especially to a man who is harboring his own insecurities about his masculinity. I think all men do.
Yet, how long can a relationship based on such an imbalance of power and an inequality of recognized needs last? In the stories I’ve heard, they don’t last long. Sometimes the helper begins to take advantage of the helped’s needs, the helper feeding his own ego with the attention and desperation of the one in need. Most often, what I’ve witnessed, is that the helped “wears out his welcome” with the helper. It starts out flattering to the helper and useful to the helped, but it’s not the kind of symbiosis that can last.
This is because I think that neediness is basically unattractive. When it comes to other men, men are attracted to confidence. I think women are attracted to it too. The roughest, most rugged-looking man who is thoroughly confident man will attract more friends than the most beautiful adonis who is a bottomless pit of needs.
A recent series of commercials for beer, talking about “The Most Interesting Man in the World,” recognizes this dynamic. The model they chose for the ads is definitely handsome, but older with a well-worn face. What is truly attractive about him is not his looks. As the commercial shows, he’s confident, clever, athletic, powerful, talented, dangerous, and, well, interesting. One ad says of him, “He once had an awkward moment just to see how it feels.”
I am a helper by profession. I am a paid mentor. I earn my money. My client relationships are necessarily uneven. It is unethical for me to get my needs met through my clients, except for my need for an income. In all other relationships in my life, I strive for mutual benefits.
A relationship based on the idea of a man who deals with homosexual feelings seeking out more healthy, non-sexual relationships is not doomed to fail. It must, however, move quickly into the dynamic of being of mutual benefit to both if it is to last.
One party is not always the helper and the other the helped. They move back and forth into those roles. One needs the other more one moment and another moment the other needs the one. Sometimes they need each other. Sometimes they don’t need each other at all.
Let me say at this point that I recognize that many childhood wounds are so deep that things like confidence cannot just be turned on like a light. I’m not saying that people don’t need to be facilitated and encouraged in developing healthy relationships when doing so is a challenge due to life’s experiences. As a survivor of child abuse, I know how very difficult it can be to act confidently at all times.
I am saying that it should be avoided to bog a person down in the mindset that life is about getting their personal needs met and a quest to find the perfect man to meet those needs. No mortal man will ever do. The supplier of every need is the Lord Jesus Christ.