..::|:.: Scattered Words

"in brokeness, I could see, that this was your will for me..." :: Jeremy Camp

6.12.2004

Friendship.

I think God's been teaching me some things about friendship. That doesn't mean I know what it is, yet. But there's something I'm supposed to be learning here. What I wouldn't give for a burning bush right about now.

Questions.

I received an e-mail this morning from someone who wanted some clarification about all this stuff. The author suggested all my readers might benefit from the answers, so I hope she doesn't mind if I post them here. I think I have touched on most of these, but they bare repeating anyways.

1 - Why am I doing this? What made me decide to try and change?
A lot of things. Mostly the idea of how destructful I was being to myself and my relationship with God -- that I was "grieving the Holy Spirit" and stagnating my own spiritual growth with every step. I'd been trying so hard to fill a whole in my life and I knew what I was doing wasn't working. There was / is a war inside me and it was time to pick a side.

2 - What's the hardest part so far?
The hardest part has really been turning to God instead of turning to myself. Realizing that I can't do this on my own, that it's not even *my* battle has been rough. Then there's the whole no sex thing. That's not so easy, either.

3 - What about the whole women thing? How does that work?
Beats me. I've had girlfriends before -- but I'm not sure I've ever felt an real "pull" toward them. There are times when I am attracted to a girl, but they're rare. I'm more attracted to a girl when I know she's attracted to me, but I think that's the same for everyone. Will I ever get married? I don't know. Do I want to, yes, very much so. I want a family some day.

4 - And men, where are you at with that?
Surprisingly, it hasn't been that hard to abstain from sex. It's normally a lot harder; I've had trouble going one week, now I'm at like two months or something like that. Does that mean the desire or attraction isn't there? No, it's still there. But I think the "desire" is much stronger than that "attraction" -- I posted a little on that below. I think the attraction is a reaction, almost involuntary. The desire, what I feel in my heart, that's coming from something else. I'm working on it though.

I think that covers pretty much everything that was asked in the e-mail (I paraphrased the questions though). If I think of more things to say about this stuff, I'll add to it later.

A lesson.

Once again, I must diverge from my intended purpose of this blog for a moment. It's to provide a quick lesson in copyright law.

Bill is upset because he wrote about me, and I quoted him. Bill wrote me an e-mail (two actually) telling me how much he didn't like it. I didn't respond to his e-mails, but I'll respond now. He and Steve seem to be buddies, as I found this on a comment thread at Steve's site:
... I gave so called "Ben" permission to steal that quote from me after the fact. It then told me some nonsense about US copyright law. ... your Yankee law has no effect on me and I [will] sue it if it published any more of my comments. I have had no response as of yet from "Ben" it has now provided a link from my quote to my site which was not there when it orginally lifted it....

Ignoring the fact that he calls me it, there a couple things I need to correct here.

First, no where in his e-mails did he threaten to sue me. Second, the link (and his name) where there from the beginning. Whenever I quote someone, I always link to the original source in some way so you can read their words in their full glory. He is right about falling under international copyright agreements (in his e-mail he says international "law", but there isn't really law per se).

What is the international agreement? It's the Berne Convention for the Protection of Artistic and Literary Works, as revised (created in Paris in the 70s, I think). It's a big declaration, but the important part is found in article 10 paragraph 1:

"It shall be permissible to make quotations from a work which has already been lawfully made available to the public..."

I don't need to say anymore about that. One could argue that Bill has usurped my "right to publicity" by writing about me, especially since I'm not a public figure in regard to this blog. But that would be almost as absurd as saying quoting him is "theft" of his property. But wait, Bill does say that, here:

"...direct theft of intellectual property from my site."

Yes, he's upset about all seven words (and amount used is a valid fair use consideration for the courts).

Now there is a very, very simple way for Bill and others whom don't like being quoted to solve their problem. Don't write about me, and I won't have anything to quote. I wonder if Bill knows that falsely accusing someone of committing and indictable offense such as theft, is slander per se -- an actionable defamation (though copyright violations have to be pretty big before they become criminal actions as opposed to civil). Not that I'd ever split hairs like that or anything. I just get tired of all the nonsense.

I guess though, if Bill had his way, anyone could say anything they want about me and I wouldn't have the right to respond, because I'm not allowed to quote. I know, it sounds rediculous, but what else am I to think when I'm told I've stolen someone's property when all I've really done is defend myself by calling him out?

In the post Bill is worried about, he quotes The Promise Tree. I'm planning to write an e-mail and ask the good folks there if he asked their permission first. I'll let you know how they respond. I assume he has, since he's jumped all over me about it.

I also considered posting Steve's e-mail here for you all, since he did me the courtesy on his own site. But since he posted my old e-mail incorrectly (which is still on my old comments here), I'll save that for a rainy day.

Let's all remember, I didn't ask any of you to write anything about me. Though I do enjoy reading it.

6.10.2004

Sobering.

From an article at oneBYone:

"We have never hidden the fact that attempting to change one's homosexuality is probably the most difficult challenge a Christian will ever face..."

Are you kidding me? I suddenly feel very unprepared and too young to be facing my most difficult challenge ever. Isn't that supposed to be something that happens later in life? I question my strength for this. The long haul might be, well, long. I wish it was as simple as red pill, blue pill. Pick one.

Grow Down.

I found a new site, thanks to Every Tomorrow. It's called Deeper Devotion: Grow Down. I read this on their daily devotion page (online devotionals are cool, 'cause they're free).

... I can tell you that the instructions have never forced themselves into my hand or made my face turn and read them. That’s because it’s my job to seek them out and to understand them. The problem is, I don’t value them like I should. Proverbs explains that instruction is “your life.” That sound’s pretty important to me.

Sounds pretty important to me, too. The verse referenced is Proverbs 4:13.

It's hardest, I think, to follow instructions when we don't know what they are (or don't care). I've written about Corinthians 6 over and over again, because in a way, it's a daily reminder of what God's instructions are for sex. And I think about when I started having sex on a pretty routine basis (around 13). I really, really didn't understand that what I was doing was wholly inappropriate and harmful. I didn't realize that God says anything about sex. After being abused (and the abuse was never violent, or even forceful) I just figured it was what I was supposed to do.

I liked to think that if I hadn't been abused, I wouldn't of started having sex so early. Well, I know I wouldn't have started having sex so early -- I wouldn't have even known what it was, really. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't of turned to other guys, either (or at least, I don't think I would've). I just thought it was I was supposed to do (not to mention that I might have been trying to balance a total lack of connection with my father).

Which brings me back to my bare it like Beckham post. My first reaction to seeing a guy has never been "I want to have sex with him," though that thought usually follows. My first reaction is usually "I want to be him." This happens most when I see a guy walking down the street with his shirt off or something. Like there's some kind of subconscious representation of what a "man" is and what a shirtless guy represents to me, for some reason. I don't really understand this, yet. But I've been noticing it a lot lately (summer time).

Choice.

This is one of the few things that does make me hurt, because it represents how little is understood about the ex-gay movement:

"If it can be changed, then it is a choice. If it can be changed, anyone can change it if they try hard enough, and those of us who have tried and failed are just failed, pathetic human beings."

I don't believe it is a choice, regardless of whether change is possible or not. Depression is not a choice (no one asks to be depressed), but you can become "undepressed" through a lot of hard work and emotional healing.

I think this guy was obviously missing the God aspect of his life. If I were trying to do this on my own, I'd end up bitter and miserable, too. I'd also be as defensive as this guy is about it. I've said before that any change I achieve threatens others who don't want to change or don't want to try. At least this guy had enough guts to admitt it. I just wish he had the hope that I do. Maybe things would be better for him.

Then comes the whole aspect of pain. Yeah it hurts. Yes I'm suffering -- but an absence of pain and suffering in our lives doesn't necessarily equal hapiness. And the presence of pain and suffering doesn't preclude hapiness either. I'm reading Lewis on the subject now, and I think he's a pretty smart guy.

And I wonder, does it really matter how many times guys like this fail? That doesn't prove its "impossible" as some have told me. Maybe it shows that its hard, but... duh.

UPDATE: The guy I quoted, added this to the comment thread: "Give me a break. I attend church twice a week, and at one point was attending vocational conferences in the Catholic Church. Just because I don't bow to a hateful, worthless fundamentalist conception of God doesn't mean that I'm 'missing the God aspect' of my life." I just wanted to make sure everyone got to see it. I have my thoughts, but I'll give him the break he asked for.

More misinformation.

I'll leave this guy to read my "Things I've Never Said," post, too:

The dude doesn't say, "I'm promiscuous and have a series of unsafe and empty sexual encounters that leave me deeply spiritually unsatisfied. I want to change that." He says, "Homosexuals are promiscuous and have unsafe and empty sexual encounters, leaving them deeply spirtually unsatisfied. I am a homosexual. Therefore, I want to overcome my homosexuality."

I'd really like to see that quote and where he took it from.

6.09.2004

Thorns.

It's that time of year when most guys (myself included) bare it like Beckham and I had something very insightful to write in regard. But, I think I'll save it until tomorrow. The blog has received a couple higher profile links today, and as I was reading through some of the stuff out ther -- I got to thinking. Put your seatbealts on, it's a rocky road.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. :: 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Paul had something in his life that plagued him, and though we don't know what it was we pretty much know that he died still afflicted from it. So, what if the same happens to me?

I'm not despairing here, at all -- I find a lot of hope in those verses, I always have. It's just that I really don't know where this is all going, where it's going to end. It's not that I have any doubt that God can heal me, that God can take this from me, that God can restore me to the fullness of what He created me to be. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that freedom from homosexuality is not only possible, but fully desireable. I believe it's something God has in store for me.

But I've got to ask the question, because so many out there are convinced it will never happen. If I'm going to deal with this, I need to address the issue: What if I remain this way (gay) for the rest of my life?

Will I embrace my homosexuality? Never. Will I self-destruct under the weight of shame? No. Will my faith in God waiver? Doubtful. I'll always have highs and lows (we all do) but there's nothing that will seperate me from the love of my Father. Ever.

It's a precarious question, it is. Suffering is hard to take, even harder to understand. It's probably one of the most familiar objections to Christianity out there. I don't pretend to understand it or like it. Lewis had a good handle on it in the Problem of Pain. But not even he had all the answers.

No matter what happens, His grace will be sufficient for me. On this matter, I'm resolved.

What didn't work 8.

Trying to Force Opposite-Sex Attraction
Some of the worst ... advice we ever received was to resolve our homosexual feelings by dating women ... to arouse interest. We already loved women - as sisters. We identified with them - too much so.

Our problem was not generally with women, so that's not where the solution lay. Our problem was with heterosexual men and masculinity, and with our own maleness. ... We needed to spend more time with heterosexual men, not with women. Before we could concern ourselves with attraction to women, we had to feel like more of a man. We needed to ground ourselves much more firmly in a male identity and in the male world...

This is the approach Medinger takes in Growth Into Manhood (the latter). He says affirmation and acceptance from men can help one to pick-up where the stages of emotional developmental growth left. It's like a process that all straight guys go through, and though I can't ever go back and fix those things now and develop the way and adolescent boy is supposed too -- I can in a way, make substitutions in my adult life now. It just feels so weird.

Medinger suggests things like sports and other stuff that guys generally like. Though I've known a few guys who were good at sports, I haven't known many. I was okay -- I wasn't like a track star or quarterback or anything like that. It wasn't that I didn't have the physical skill or hand eye coordination either, it was just that I didn't care. I had little interest in playing sports and I have even less in watching them on television (though I do both occassionally).

Part of the disinterest was fear, though. For one, I never did anything that I wasn't really good at. If I sucked, I quit. I never got better and that contributed to a fear of being embarrassed, especially when so many guys were so good, or it just came so easily to them.

I do shy completely away from "guy" situations though. It's a foreign world to me, strange and uncomfortable. I think this is one of the ways the church has been so helpful. The Christian guys I've met have generally been very accepting and affirming of me. I've been able to cautiously step out into this "guys" world and test myself, without getting the hell beat out of my self-esteem. It's still scary though.

6.08.2004

Genetics (updated).

I suck at genetics. It was probably my worst bio class of the whole lot of them. Those darn fruit flies were cunning and sneaky, I tell you. They'd always wake up half-way through my tests and fly off the petri dish, destroying weeks of work. And there's really no catching a fruit fly. You can try, but you just look really funny.

Anyway, I was thinking about genetics and the whole idea of a gay gene. There's no definitive evidence. And there's likely no single genetic marker that translates to any kind of sexual orientation, gay or straight. If anything, it's probably a combination of traits affecting various hormones and neurotransmitters, spread out over multiple alleles. Again, that's if anything.

But then I thought (and this is just thought, off the top of my head, I haven't studied it yet) about evolution. I'm not a huge proponent of evolution, (some of things I've learned about evolutionary icons is startling) but lets just say I accept it as a supportable theory. Lets just say, I accept the possibility of a gay gene. The trouble is, I don't think I can accept both.

Even if a gay gene was a dominant trait (which it's probably recessive if it exists at all), it would cancel itself out after several generations. Our genes are passed to us by our parents. Since two gay people can't reproduce offspring via their combined genetic material, eventually, the gay gene would eventually be filtered out of a family line. In evolutionary terms, it would be selected against. The only possible way for a reamergance is through mutation, but still, because a gay person doesn't reproduce, the mutation would still be filtered out (even if it were passed on at all) and eventually selected against. Any gene that predisposed a person from reproducing would be selected against.

And there's still the whole thing that a gay person can physically parent offspring, but I just wonder if that really happens enough to sustain a genetic line of homosexuality. I also wonder how the charts would play out, what the odds are and if homosexuality is recurrent enough for the theory of a gay gene to be sustainable. It just seems really, really against the odds. But I'm no geneticist.

Sexuality, and in particular, sexual attraction seems more of a learned behavior, or rather an ingrained behavior based on neurotransmitter conditioning. I think we play a more active role in who we're sexually attracted to than we'd like to admitt. Or, you know, like when you meet someone whom you're not sexually attracted to at first, but because you like their personality so much the attraction comes later.

Just something to think about, I guess. I'm not sure I've made much sense. It doesn't matter anyway, I've said before, genetic causation isn't validation. See: cystic fibrosis.

UPDATE: Please remember I said this was all speculation of the top off my head, with no real research to back it up. I tire very quickly of people who expect me to read their very, very long e-mails yet can't read my full posts. And, let's all sit back and realize that there is a difference between something being caused genetically and something being hereditary. The two don't always go hand in hand. I was referring, mainly to the idea of how difficult it would be to sustain homosexuality as an inherited trait. I wasn't clear enough.

Calculated Risk.

I cried myself to sleep last night, for the first time in a long time. It used to be a common occurence in college. Too many old memories, I guess. I feel a lot better now, time passing and all. Truth is, I'm lonely. Living Hope would tell me to turn to God in times like this (a lot of people would tell me that, and rightly so). But God is so intangible sometimes. So silent. It reminds me of that old Footprints in the Sand story, not that that makes me feel better.

Which all brings me to the calculated risk. I already know my relationship with God needs work, and as I allow that to be restored, perhaps the intangibleness will change. The risk I'm talking about is with people. I rarely talk to others about my personal life. I'm just afraid to.

But I've got to take that risk, I think. I need to let people in, I need to take the risk. Knowing it and being able to do it are two very different things. We'll see how it goes.

6.07.2004

Journaling.

I planned to be in bed an hour ago, so this will be short. I read through an old journal that I kept on blogger a few years back, right before the big blog explosion. I was in the midst of just starting to deal with the whole childhood abuse stuff, so that was primarily what I wrote about.

But I was also writing in the midst of a lot of personal conflicts at school, confusion about a friendship, etc. All of those memories, the pain, it came rushing back. So much pain. I'm light years away from where I was then, and it's really interesting to see how much I've changed (and how much my life has changed). The memories though, stuff I haven't thought about in a while. It's made me sick to my stomach.

God.

One of things I talked about when I started writing here, was my relationship with God. It was lacking then and it still is. Not as much, but the room for improvement is vast. I was reminded of that today in an e-mail from a friend, whose advice I'd asked for. One thing he said was remarkably similar to something Jack said:

"Honestly, I think it's just a distraction tactic to keep you from doing what God wants you to with this blog.

So, I get it. I wish all messages were as clear. Now I need a plan or a strategy or something. Maybe if my relationship with God sucks that much I need to spend some time here examining that more. I think I avoid writing about it because I have little insight as to why.

John Eldredge wrote in one of his books that he believes you can spend time with God just by being quiet, spending time admiring his creation and whatnot. I used to do that a lot more than I do know. One particularly hard summer between my sophomore and junior years of college (my entire support system was at school, so summers were extra tough) I spent a lot of time walking. Or sitting in parks. Or camping. Just being alone, thinking and praying.

Maybe that's a good place to start. I've also tried devotional books before, but, with little luck. Maybe I'll try another. Somthing's gotta give here, there's got to be something I'm missing.

Misinformation.

It's becoming a constant battle, and I can't stop it. Justin sums it up well, for me. But I will point some stuff out. Such as, Chris:

"...something that purports to be by "Ben", a 22 year-old student from Washington DC."

I'm not a student. Never said I was. It's an honest mistake I'm sure, but a careless one nonetheless.

"However, his "experiences" read a bit too much like the case-stories from the various ex-gay tracts that I have read in the past. Details such as the "distant father", "abusive older male" are all tick-boxes from these."

And the author takes the easy road in explaining this: I'm not real, but an ex-gay agenda tool. The other possibility is that the ministries, ex-gays, health professionals, etc. who are saying these things were actually right when they said them. But no, that can't be. Sorry for bringing it up.

"If he is so weak-willed as to be so shamelessly promiscuous, how come he doesn't get angry when people criticise him?"

I'm not sure weak-will and my promiscuity go together, as I was fighting hard against what my conscience and faith were telling me, but I'll let that one slide. Why don't I get angry? Because if my well-being depended on how I react to what some of you say to me, about me, around me -- whatever -- I'd be dead by now. I've remained detached and don't take anything said here personally. And I won't.

Perhaps Troy should read my "Things I've Never Said" post:

He believes all gays are sex addicts. All gay people were abused as children, have emotionally distant fathers, have one nights stands, are arrogant, self-centered and frequent bath houses. He believes all gay men seek sex in order to fill a void in their lives.

I guess if I can be painted with a stereotype brush, then I shouldn't feel too bad when others think I do the same to them. They've already done it to me. But I do feel bad. I won't understand why others hold as fact what goes on in my head -- when they've only guessed.

NOTE AFTER THE FACT: I kind of liked Troy's post though. Kudos to anyone who can demonstrate rational discussion on the topic at hand, which I believe Troy does.

And I'll never understand the ability of some to connect the abuse and all the other stuff in my life with my present suffering, but conveniently discount homosexuality as part of it. As if the sex drive and our emotions and psyche and souls aren't connected. If one things affects my sexuality, you can't discount something else just because you don't like the implication. For example (comment by Jody):

"...his very real problems -- sexual abuse, depression, rage, even sexual acting out -- get sublimated to his "problem" of homosexuality. There are times it seems like it's only a minor improvement that superstition can no longer physically burn people at the stake, only mentally torture them instead."

Rage? I'll let that one slide, too. But seriously, just x out homosexuality from the list of problems, because well, you want to. If you don't see the connection, no amount of writing here is going to make you see it, I guess.

On the other hand, I did find this one today:

Why is it that I can explore what my faith means to me in relative peace, whilst Ben is accused of being self-loathing, spreading hatred, and all other manner of strange things?

I'm not linking to it here, because I don't want to disturb her peace (rumor has it that some experience fall-out on their own sites after commenting here).

This battle with all of you, I'm not going to win it. I'm not trying. But I will continue to point stuff like this out, even if just to work through it all myself. If I were stone, well then, that would be a different story. I may not get angry or even that hurt over the criticsm (for now), but I won't forget it.

What didn't work 7.

More from People Can Change:

Isolation and Secrecy
As long as we kept our "shameful secret" hidden and attempted to fix it in isolation and secrecy, we made little or no progress. ... Problems relating to others do not heal in isolation without relationships. Fear of trusting others cannot be overcome without taking the calculated risk to trust.

Hmmm. Calculated risk to trust. I don't know about this one. I've never told anyone close to me about all this, and I really, really don't want to. I guess I've always known that I'll have to eventually -- my future wife, perhaps (if there'll ever be one). But this is a step I'm not ready to take. This blog provides some anonymity, and that's were I'm comfortable right now. And yeah, I know I need to push myself out of that comfort, but I'm just not ready yet. Maybe God will show me someone that I can trust. I'm just afraid to ask for fear that He'll answer.

I do like the lilne about healing in isolation without relationships. It's why I objected to this bloggers thoughts on the subject, earlier.

Continued...

...we found that what we wanted most -- authentic male bonding -- in some ways, we actually feared the most. Emotional intimacy felt much more risky than sexual intimacy. So we used lust and sex to give the illusion of intimacy without having to take the emotional risk of opening our hearts to another man, especially a straight man.

No comment on this, really, but it makes a lot of sense to me. I talked a little about this fear way back in the beginning. As I find more guys that are accepting and affirming of my own manhood, I become a little more confident in those areas. But the world of guys is still a pretty scary one.

Sponsored links.

We've been pulling so much of Fifteen Minute's bandwidth (they host images and whatnot for my site) that I've decided to ad a small sponsored link section. Any money earned will go to Fifteen Minutes to pay for the amount of bandwidth I'm stealing from them.

Absence doesn't equal non-existence.

I find myself addressing the concerns, fears and worries of the readers here more than I do my own fears and worries and concerns. That's okay, it's part of having a public blog.

I've written nearly 20,000 words here so far, and as I said earlier, there's so much on my mind and so much I want to write about. But I write all day long and some days, can only write so much (though I love it so). I said in my post to Brock (though I fear he didn't hear it all) that there are things I'll get to. Give me time. There are things I'll never get to. Oh well.

Until then, just because I haven't written about it here, don't make assumptions based on its absence alone. Too many make too many assumptions. Too many.

What didn't work 6.

There's so much to write, seriously. So much stuff in my head, but I'm short on time. I should've been in bed an hour ago. But I wanted to comment on this:

Shame, Self-Ridicule and Self-Hate
For those of us who once "came out" as a homosexual and embraced "gay pride," we found it immensely freeing to release the shame, self-ridicule and self-hate that had crippled us for so long. ... Until we did, they entrapped us, disabled us and obstructed real change. ... it was counterproductive to embrace an openly gay identity and lifestyle in an attempt to free ourselves of shame and hate, ... doing so required us to suppress our conscience and surrender our values. ... it is ultimately far more healing and freeing to "come out" as a man who is courageously reclaiming his innate masculine identity, brotherly love for other men and spiritual connection to God.

I think this is the most mis-understood part of my journey, for a lot here. Simply because I reject something many of you have embraced, I'm viewed as self-hating and self-loathing (despite any evidence in my writing to support that). Your views about this might rest in the idea that your sexuality is your identity. It's not mine. By rejecting homosexuality as valid, I haven't rejected myself -- but embraced what God has for me.

Tim said this:

"I must be missing something as I read Ben's writings. He does not seem to be filled with self-loathing. Is self-loathing a sign of homosexual tendency? Or is the sexual promiscuity associated with male homosexual practices an expression of self-loathing?"

Stunning words, if you ask me. Not the part about me, but rather his last question.

All this to say, I've never liked myself more. I've never understood my place and what God's doing in my life more. I've never understood my sexuality more. I have these moments, these epiphanies when I'm away from my Blog and can't write them down right away -- remarkable moments of clarity that my Pastor calls the "ah-hah" moments in life. I try to capture them, but I can never quite express what I feel or understand in words. It all comes out, slowly I guess in one form or another.