God’s Amazing Grace
My name is Andre Bekker. I dedicate this testimony to my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ and Professor Hennie Stander at University of Pretoria, who found it worth while to invest in a young student’s life, at a time I needed it so much and who found me worthy to befriend.
I was born on 28 February 1965 and was one of seven children, but one of my brothers died at an age of 18 months, before I was born. I only saw him in a photo. I am the second youngest of the remaining six children. We are five boys and one girl. My sister is one year older than me and my youngest brother is three and a half years younger than me. I was raised in a Christian home, where both my parents were active in the church and was living according to Christian principles and taught us in the same manner.
My father had to leave school at the age of 16 and started to work in forestry to generate an income to provide for his parents and the rest of his family. They were quite poor. Hereafter he started a trade in panel beating and spray painting. He worked at four different companies. He was a hard worker and worked many hours to provide for our family. He was a Christian. As head of the home he would see to it that we have our devotion, Bible reading and prayer every morning as a family. We would not miss Sunday morning and evening service or a Wednesday prayer meeting. He was an elder in the church. He had strong convictions and lived his live accordingly.
My mother had to leave school in grade 10 to help on the farm. Her father did not believe that a lady should pursue a career. Later she studied at a theological seminary and became a missionary. When she got married, she became a home maker. My mom was brought up in a very Victorian manner. She, as well as my dad, grew up in a church with strong holiness teaching. My mom is someone I look up to. She has a close relationship with God. She has high moral standards and is sincere. She was also very involved in the church and Sunday school. Many found Christ through her ministry.
The relationship between my mom and dad is very difficult to describe. I never heard or saw them fighting or having major disagreements. But then also I never saw them hugging each other or showing affection of any nature. I can recall them holding hands while walking in the street. I never heard them saying “I love you” to each other. The only times I saw them kissing was when they said hello or goodbye. On one occasion my mom told me whenever my dad wanted to kiss her in front of the children, she stopped him. She said they were not brought up in a manner where kissing and stuff like that was done in public, so she stuck to her convictions. At times my mom complained to me about dad not giving attention to her and that she felt neglected and not always supported as she needed to be.
I would not classify us as having been very poor, but there were times when it was very difficult making ends meet. My father was always doing private jobs for some extra income. This caused him to always be busy helping other people and left my mother neglected in some areas emotionally, but also with the upbringing of the children and the responsibilities of the home. As I grew older I began to understand that my mom did not feel loved as she would have liked to be. She felt at times lonely and saw my father as doing things without consulting her in the decision making areas; and also as stubborn, self-willed and self-righteous.
My mother is a person that has an kind heart and would always like to help others. My dad was greedier and wanted to keep everything for himself. He would not hesitate asking people for things, even if he had no use for it. When he did shopping he always would bargain for lower prices. These were matter of great embarrassment at times and brought some contentious feelings in me. I hated it to go anywhere with him. I was scared he would shame me. I think my father had a bit of “poor man’s syndrome.” My father died a month before his 81st birthday and my mother is turning 81 this year (2012).
I never had a bond with my father. I felt he was emotionally absent and was never there for me. I, being temperamentally a sensitive child, got hurt by his insensitivity to my needs. We did not get along very well and would only talk superficially. Important matters I would discuss with my mother and if at any time I needed something from my dad I will ask my mother to ask him. I can not recall him ever saying to me he loves me or ever hugging or holding me. I can not remember sitting on his lap. I remember my mom saying that my dad played with us and I can recall some Sunday afternoons riding bicycle with him. He loved to watch us boys playing rugby and was always at our home games, cheering us on. Yet I never felt special to him or that he ever delighted in me.
To a certain extent my dad and I were like petrol and fire. I remember one evening when I was in grade 12 we had a disagreement to such an extent that we became physical with each other. He was very angry with me. Contempt of my father I think describes my emotional relationship with him the best. In later years I can remember my mom telling me that it always hurt her that my dad treated me differently than the other children. For instance I would ask to go with him to town, and then he would say no. My little brother would ask just after he said no to me, but then he will say yes to my brother and take him along. I remember when I studied at the university how I wished and prayed that my dad might live long enough to be there on my graduation day. I wanted him to see that I achieved something.
I do not know what my father thought of me during my childhood and adolescence. I never felt he had much interest in me. I remember writing him a letter while at Bible College telling him that I did not feel loved by him. He replied in short by saying he does love me. I guess he loved me in his way, but I could never experience it. He did not love me in the way I needed to feel it.
As adults I can say we tolerated each other, but we were not friends or close. At times I felt very defensive and was always on edge with him. I never enjoyed visiting with him. My father always was strict and a disciplinarian.
We would have never dared to back-talk my dad. His word was final. We all had our chores we had to do in the house before we had to go to school. As boys we learned to work on cars, had to do the garden and all sorts of practical things men do. I tended to love gardening more. The result was that I helped my mom most of the time doing the gardening. At a stage my mom mentioned to me that it always looked like my dad neglected me because I was not so involved with the cars and the stuff my dad was doing, so she had to reach out to me, because someone had to love me. It was like I was my mother’s child and my brothers were my father’s children.
My relationship with my mother is good, though I can not remember her ever telling me she loves me or hugging me. Like my dad, she did not show affection openly through hugs and kisses. I felt relaxed with her. I did not feel a very strong bond with her, and don’t think that there was great enmeshment from her side. However I did trust her. She loved us all in her own specific way. I recall her one day telling somebody that she loved us all but it is as if it is different from child to child. She had no favourites. Yet at times I did not feel like I belonged in the family or to anyone. The one day I asked my mom if I was adopted, my mom assured me that I was their child.
My mom was a woman that believed in us and encouraged us. She was strict but fair. To a certain extent we were brought up quite protected.
My father never spoke to me about sex or sexuality. I can only remember one evening, I was about 11 or 12 years old, when my dad came into the bathroom and I had an erection. He made an abrupt remark, referring to my genitals saying: “that is not a thing to play with.” I felt very ashamed. I felt that there was something wrong with me.
As with my dad my mom never spoke to us about sex. What I clearly remember though is that at different occasions from very small she would have reprimanded me if I would have touched my genital areas and say: “Sis a person doesn’t touch there.” This had a very negative influence on how I experienced my own genitals and my gender. As we became teenagers she gave us a book to read “What boys should know.”
My parents did not believe that boys and girls should date, kiss, hug and hang on each other. That is meant for when you are an adult and have left school. Sex was also taught as something reserved for marriage. The one thing I remember they always said was that there is a time and place for everything. We were also never allowed to walk without shirts. We always had to have our bodies covered. For them it had to do with morality and respect.
In church and at home we were taught only the sinful side of sex like adultery, fornication, prostitution etc.. However I never, not once that I can recall, heard anything said about homosexuality or sexual acts with boys. I never heard that God created sex and male/female sexuality as something holy, natural and good. I grew up with the idea that girls should be avoided and not touched. I believe that this teaching had a great influence on my sexual development and my experimentation with boys later on.
I can not remember much about my relationship with my three older brothers. Because of the age gap they were closer to each other than I was to them. I can only remember one negative incident between me and my third oldest brother when I was in grade 8, and with my oldest brother when I was in grade 12, though there was always a bit of an antagonistic relationship between myself and my oldest brother when I was younger. My mother also told me that as a child I was stuttering and could not get my words out easily. I would then be told by my second oldest brother to keep quiet and go away.
When all of the children were still in the house, my two oldest brothers were sharing a room, I and my third oldest brother shared a room and my sister and youngest brother shared a room. We had a double bed in our room. I remember that every evening before I fall asleep my brother would be lying with his back to me. I would move tight against him, with my arm around him, and then fall asleep. It was comforting to hold him tight. I craved that intimate contact.
When my little brother had to go to grade one, my oldest brother went to grade twelve. At the end of grade twelve my oldest brother went to the army. My youngest brother then moved into my room and my third oldest brother moved into my second oldest brother’s room. I continued with the habit of putting my arm around my brother and then dose off to sleep. I can remember that I and my little brother got along very well. We played with toy cars and I was very fond of playing cowboys and crooks or war games. When I was younger I played with my brother and his friends. I had no friends of my own.
The role I was playing in the family system was that of a loner, but not totally so and also a pleaser. There was also a stage where I was much like a caretaker. I was always caring about younger children that had to grow up in broken homes, because of divorce and had to live with their moms. I felt like a father figure to them. It’s like I did for them that which I craved myself to have. I also remember an old man in a wheelchair, staying a few houses away from us. He was very lonely. I visited him very often.
From very young I played with my sister and we were very good friends. We were close to each other and would do a lot of things together. We sometimes played house. I would also play with dolls. At different occasions my mom told me that my sister always was looking for a friend and that she played with me a lot and will even dress me like a girl.
As a teenager I did not really have friends. There were guys at school I would talk to and sometimes visit but we were not close. I had no girlfriends, but did chat with girls at church and school. I never perceived myself as being popular. I would say I was a rather average person and not really in with any group. I had the feeling I was most of the time only tolerated. I did feel at times that I was very codependent and emotionally dependent. That must have put people off. I could become very possessive.
I started grade one in 1971 at the age of six, but can not remember my first day at school neither much of my early school days. I was more a loner and a quiet guy, but did mix somewhat with guys during breaks. My attention was easily distracted and I was somewhat hyperactive. In grade five I was a prefect. I can also remember having remedial classes for reading and pronouncing my “s”. I hated reading and homework. My mom often tells me that I was sitting in the corner of the dining room, crying instead of doing my homework. In high school I was a very average kid. I always passed all my subjects and never failed one grade.
As I approached my teenage years I physically developed quicker than my class mates. This was a source of embarrassment. One incident stands out. At school during sports period we all had to swim. The one day I was standing next to the swimming pool in my Speedo with the rest of the class. Two guys started making fun of me in front of the whole class regarding the trail of hair going up to my navel. (It was done in vulgar terms). I was so ashamed and wish I could just sink into the earth.
I also had hair growing in my face. My parents had this belief that a boy only starts shaving at the age of 16. It was still awhile before I was 16 and in the meantime I was made fun of at school and called names like “little bear” and “bum fluff.” I said to my parents I want to shave but was not allowed. One day I stole my fathers shaving machine and shaved. In the process I cut my lip. This caused me shame when my mother confronted me and wanted to know why my lip was cut.
Naturally, I am reasonably well built. I participated in Judo rugby and athletics. I was exposed to hard physical work which kept me in shape. Because of my build I have a way of walking where my arms can not be completely next to my side. I would then be mocked by guys saying that I am caring watermelons under my arms. Others would say I look like a bully. I could never understand this because it was none of my doing that caused me to have this build.
Socially I was not popular. During break times at school we always played one game or another. It could have been rugby, hockey, cricket or soccer. Sometimes we would just sit and talk. I did find my self a very aggressive teenager. I had a temper that could flare up very easily. I was passive aggressive, a real pleaser, but I would often end up exploding verbally and sometimes even physically. As an adult I experienced difficulty in socializing. I was very laid back and introverted. It became so bad that at work I would not speak to anyone or answer a phone or make a call. When eventually I consulted a psychologist, I was diagnosed with social phobia. I went through periods of desolation and depression. The reason was because of guilt and shame as a result of a sinful lifestyle and a deep feeling of worthlessness and not belonging, not fitting in and being different. At two occasions I attempted suicide and contemplated it often.
From the time I can remember, I was brought up with Christian principals and beliefs. I was always in church, Sunday school and attended the youth meetings. We were brought up with reading the Bible in the mornings as a family together before my dad left for work. At home we were taught about what is right and what is wrong. I always strived to be a good person doing what was right. At different occasions I gave my life to the Lord, but could never get the assurance of Salvation. The reason for this was the guilt and shame about my sins I was committing over and over. I made promises to God that I will not sin again, just to do it very shortly after again. However I never gave up on pursuing God while still at school. I always wanted to work for God and there was a sense of God’s calling on my life. One thing I became well aware of is that I was born with a sinful nature and that I was bent to doing sin rather than good.
From very young I said I wanted to become a policeman once I finish school and I did become a detective. During the next four years I drifted away from God till one day I fell sick and while in bed God caught up with me. This was the 15th June 1986. That day I finally gave my life to God and was born again. About a month later I experienced God calling me for full time ministry. December 1986 I resigned at the police force and in January 1987 I started my studies at a Bible college.
After I graduated I worked with a mission organization in the rural areas of our country. I then went to study further at the Baptist Seminary. After two years of studies I continued my studies at theUniversity of Pretoria. While studying I was ministering fulltime at a mission. After graduation I again worked amongst the Indian community in the rural areas. However, because of my social phobia and sinful doings I experienced much conflict and difficulties especially on spiritual and social levels. I came back to my hometown and worked at a previous mission where after I worked at a children’s home. In 2000 I made up my mind to leave the ministry until such time that I have sorted my own life out. Even though I left the ministry I was still following God and remained a Christian. I also furthered my studies in psychology, counselling, Life Coaching and sexual reorientation coaching.
My sensitive nature, detached relationship with my dad and older brothers and over identification with my mom and sister as well as my experiences with my peers and religion left me with feelings of insecurity, inferiority and inadequacy regarding my masculinity and my identification with other men. I didn’t feel like one of the guys. I never felt attracted to the opposite sex. It came as a shock to me in puberty when I did not feel attracted to girls, but to boys. I didn’t know how to fulfil that deficit inside myself.
As a result of these feelings about myself, I found myself searching for masculine connectedness and identification, and that search led me to sexual behaviours and actions. These things left me dissatisfied, did not represent my values or who I really am.
Being brought up in an environment where sex was only known as sin, I never wanted to commit this sin. I started to masturbate around the age of nine. I naturally discovered it and felt guilty about it. I was hooked on to it right from the beginning. As I became older, I started to masturbate with a younger guy. I can not recall how it happened that we did it together the first time. Looking back, this boy, though he was younger than me must have been exposed to a sexual environment of some nature, because he new much more than me. One day he said he wanted to show me something. He then tried to have anal sex with me. He could not penetrate me. I also started to masturbate with another young boy.
As I entered my adolescent years, I can recall how I wanted sex with a girl, but it was not perceivable that I could ever do that. I started fantasising how I am captured by someone and forced to have sex with a black lady. Remember that at that time it was in the apartheid era and could not be perceived that a white Afrikaans guy will ever have sex with a black woman. It was as if I was reasoning that this was a way how I can give way to my sexual desires that will not be sinful, because I was forced and it was not a white girl. To a certain extent I became more perverse. I was totally addicted to masturbation. I always felt like if a male can see my private parts and give recognition to it, it will make me feel like a man.
I then started to talk about sex and make up stories and tell lies to one specific guy at school. It gave me a kick. It was on the one hand a way of getting naughty but on the other hand trying to find answers. This was the starting point of a bad habit of sex talk. It became compulsive obsessive with me. Till recent years there were two adult guy friends that I had sex talk with. I would send them endless sms’s and even at times speak to them on the phone. It became so bad that they broke contact with me. It was a wakeup call to me. God used these two incidents as an opportunity to work still deeper in my own life.
Sex talk got me exited but the funny thing is it most of the time did not arouse me, although sometimes it did and may have lead to masturbation. It became a sort of game to see what reactions I can get. I tried to get the guys to want to do sexual acts with me, but when it came to the point they were willing, I would start backing off. I never wanted to get into the real act. I also started to get a kick out of drawing pictures of men having erections in textbooks and in the school toilets. I found myself looking for opportunities to get guys to masturbate with.
After I left school, I still had contact with some of the guys. One day after school I picked up the one guy and went to a dam nearby. He said that he wanted to show me something. That day he showed me what oral sex is. Again it was exciting but left me guilt ridden.
I all along struggled with masturbation, sexual desires and lust. I could not pass a billboard with guys in underpants or see magazines with half naked guys without a response. I would never undress before straight guys or guys I do not know. I would not go into a public toilet etc. where I could be seen by another guy. It felt like I could not go anywhere and look nowhere without being either tempted or feeling ashamed of my masculinity.
The turn for the worst came when I went to University. At home a family meeting was called because of the fact that I continued studding and was staying with my parents. It was felt that I was suppose to work for an income and take care of myself, and not be a burden to my parents any longer. The result was that I had to leave home and for a while I stayed in a cottage in someone’s yard in Pretoria. These people only rented the house and disappeared over night and I had to leave the flat. Not being able to go home, a friend of mine offered that I could stay with them. I was thankful yet felt like an intruder, though I know they did not experience it that way. This whole event had a great impact on my already insecure life. I felt thrown away, unwanted, belonging nowhere. Needles to say, emotionally it left me very unstable.
As I began my first year I walked into the public toilets and there I saw all over the wals pictures drawn of all sorts of homosexual activities. I still remember that day clearly like yesterday. Something happened within me. It was like a switch that switched and I was hooked to that place. (That was also the beginning of my sexual addiction). I started to go there every day. I soon found out about the “glory holes” and saw many things happening there. It happened at times that I will masturbate guys and they will masturbate me. However, most of the time I received satisfaction from guys just seeing my genitals. It was as if I could experience some masculinity by others seeing it. It was such a confusing thing because I felt ashamed with straight guys or guys I wasn’t sure of what their orientation was, yet with gay guys it felt like I can show them I am masculine. Once or twice I received oral sex, but never gave it to someone else. I never gave in to the request for giving or receiving anal sex. This was the darkest time in my life. Apart from my own guilt and shame my home circumstances added to my desperate state I found myself in.
While at University a godly professor became like a father figure to me. He became an anchor witch was holding me in a time when I would have destroyed myself. He did not know it at that time, though he knows it now. I thank God for a man like him that had time and interest in a lost directionless student. I have the greatest respect for that man!!
About eight years ago I came across internet pornography for the first time. I got hooked on to it for a very short while but saw a psychologist and got out of this addiction quickly.
Many times I prayed to God to take away these feelings for the same sex from me, I was even willing to cut off my private parts. I reasoned according what the scripture said “if your hand caused you to stumble, cut it off.” But I stuck with these desires. This made me mad and despondent. Many times I was arguing with God and fighting these desires. How many times did I say to God that I never chose to have these desires nor did I ask for it and neither did I want it. I could never accept the fact that I was born gay. Further more how can he make me gay and then still condemn me to hell because it’s sin. However, deep inside of me a nagging voice was always telling me that same-sex attraction is not normal nor is it just another expression of normal healthy sexuality.
I thought that after I became a Christian everything would change and I will have no more same-sex attractions or desires. I was disappointed to find it did not change. I went for prayer and exorcism on several occasions, but it made no change to these desires. I also had counselling. However the one thing I could not make peace with is the fact that people wanted me to believe that I was born gay. I continuously said to God that He could not be so confused to have made me a male and then give me desires that leave me bodily wise incompatible with the persons I am attracted to. It was just totally against natural law.
I tried to find help but found no one with knowledge about same-sex attraction that could help me. In the meantime I said to the Lord that I will not give up seeking solutions. I was convinced that I was not “born gay” and that somehow I would find solutions. At times despondent and hopeless and at other times more hopeful I continued the cycle of making promises and resolutions to God to stop my sinning just to find me braking my promises again. The story of my life was what Paul said: “The good I want to do, that I did not do but that which I hate that I kept on doing.” It was like a power stronger than me that was driving me.
These same-sex attractions became a real barrier to me in my ministry and doing God’s work. I always had to fight against these desires and eventually give in and do wrong. I was always ashamed and guild ridden. I felt like a hypocrite and could not stand it anymore.
A turning point came on September 11 2001, when I finished working nightshift at a children’s home. I just arrived home when I got a call from my manager who informed me he wanted to see me. He came to my flat and as he entered he informed me that I am suspended and hand me my suspension letter. I was shocked and asked him for what reason I was suspended. I was then informed that a boy laid a charged against me for sexually molesting him. I could not believe what I heard. I knew I did nothing of that sort. An internal investigation started and I had to give statements and was questioned. No matter what I said they did not want to believe me. So six weeks passed and I was requested to go to the head office. I was informed that the matter will be handed over to the detectives and that they will be there to arrest me. At my arrival at head office I was asked to wait in the board room. I waited and waited and after about two hours the detective came in and he said to me there is no case against me. The boy admitted to them that he was telling a lie and no molestation of any kind took place. I was so relieved. Then the Manager came in and apologized and asked the boy to apologize too.
It was this incident that made me have a serious conversation with God. I then said to God that I am quitting all ministry and spiritual work and that I will not touch it again until I am healed of this affliction in my life. I started working with ABSA January 2002.
All along I was searching for help here in South Africa but could find no one to help me. By now I have learned that conversion alone, more Bible reading, more praying, trying harder, attempting to drive out demons, attending more meetings and worship and praise is not going to change it. I have tried all of these without success. I tried surrendering more fully to Christ as Lord of my life but somehow my faith and practice did not mach to bring me to victory (though today I see that what I thought was surrender was a modified way of me trying to please God through the flesh and will power).
I have also learned that the left wing of the church brought no solutions. I was given the book of Ciliers, “‘n Kas is vir klere” to read. I was trying to accept that being gay is what God made me to be. Trying to convince myself that “I am born gay and that it’s normal in every way just like heterosexuality, it’s just a different orientation and preference of object. You can’t throw it back in God’s face the way He made you. God is love and He loves and saves Gay people too, though they remain gay. God is a God of love and will never condemn people of the same gender that love each other and stands in a relationship with each other”, etc..
I heard that the Bible should be reinterpreted against the cultural historical background. One after the other Bible verses are ripped apart to make it mean something so different than what you are used to. It’s told that Jesus had a homosexual relationship with his beloved disciple. Naomi and Ruth and David and Jonathan are examples of Lesbian and gay relationships. On and on it goes.
Affirmative therapy did no beter. Trying to be brainwashed “To get rid of internalized homophobia and to accept who you are. You are born gay and that’s how God made you. You are not sick. There is no scientific evidence that supports the idea that people can change. Get all your conservative ideas out of your head. That which the Bible, your church, and your parents taught you are utter nonsense. The science says its genes, hormones, your brain etc.,” etc..
I was further enlightened about what did not work. When I read the following from the website of People can Change (www.Peoplecanchange.com). I could truly identify:
False Starts: What Didn’t Work
Denying or Suppressing It
Pretending there was nothing amiss in our lives was like ignoring a growing tumor. Refusing to deal with our homosexual problems ensured that they would continue to thrive and multiply. We could resist for a time. We could look the other way. But that only gave our problems time to fester and grow worse. We could abstain from homosexual behaviour, but that didn’t resolve the feeling.
Avoiding the problem could never fix the problem.
We certainly never consciously chose to be sexually attracted to men. Neither could we simple choose to change and be attracted to women instead. At best, willpower could only help us resist the urge to indulge whatever sexual desire we felt in the moment. It could not bring long-term healing.
Rather than work on our will, or our mental control, we found it much more effective to work on our heart, or our emotional and spiritual desire.
Trying to Pray It Away
Almost all of us at one time hoped and prayed that God would suddenly change us, that if only we had enough faith, we would wake up one day and find our homosexual desires miraculously gone. Yes, there are those who testify of such miraculous, sudden recovery, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be the norm — and certainly not without a lot of hard, personal and spiritual work leading up to that “overnight” recovery.
In fact, many of us came to see that we had been praying the wrong prayer for many years! Rather than asking God to change us, we needed him to show us the steps he wanted us to take toward change — and then trust him enough to take the very steps we feared most. We needed to be humble enough to learn the lessons that the struggle was designed to teach us — and then move on.
As Ben writes: “Like so many others, I once begged God to change me with a single touch, the way he healed the blind man. I prayed and read scriptures hoping that would change me, but all the while I remained locked in isolation and shame. Ultimately, I learned that trying to heal my emotional wounds through spirituality alone was like putting a cast on my arm when I had the flu. I was treating the wrong problem. I was emotionally broken and weak, but in many ways spiritually strong. Trying to strengthen myself spiritually, alone in my room in prayer, wasn’t going to heal the isolation I felt in the world of men. I started to change when I saw the Lord as a guide who would lead me through a healing journey if I did it his way, not mine.”
For most of us, praying and building a renewed spiritual life would become the fuel that powered our journey out of homosexuality and the map that guided our way — it was seldom our journey in itself.
At one time, many of us were convinced that indulging our desires for homosexual expression was the only way to satisfy them and get relief from constant yearning for male attention and affection. And in fact it did bring relief — momentarily. But those of us who did indulge those desires often found that, when the fleeting embrace or erotic experience was over, we felt more lonely and desperate than before. The “hole” inside our souls that we were constantly trying to fill was deeper and emptier than ever, and we were desperate for more. It became easy for us to fall into addiction and dependency. Even those of us who found a romantic partner who seemed like he would always be there for us often found we could never get enough of him to fill the emptiness inside ourselves. The true need buried deep inside was a little boy’s need for love and acceptance from his father and from the other boys and to fully and proudly embrace his masculinity. Sex with another man only alienated us from ever really finding the real solution to our needs.
“Gay Pride” or “Gay Affirmation”
For some of us, it seemed for a time that the answer we were looking for was to accept and embrace our supposedly innate gay identity, “come out of the closet” as a homosexual and claim “gay pride.” In fact, those of us who did so found it to be an exhilarating, freeing experience — temporarily. No longer were we crippled by vacillation. No longer were we hiding in shame. No longer would we beat ourselves up with self-criticism and so-called “homophobia.” At last we were “out and proud.”
But no matter how right it was to free ourselves from shame, self-ridicule and self-hate, and no matter how much relief we found in finally getting off the fence and making a decision — any decision — homosexuality still felt wrong for us. Some of us denied this for a long time but we could ultimately lie to ourselves no longer. For us, it just felt wrong. Attempting to resolve our homosexual struggles by killing our conscience felt like it was killing our souls instead.
Almost universally, we felt alienated from God and our spiritual lives. We were out of integrity with our deeply held values and beliefs that had always anchored our lives. We felt more alienated than ever from the masculine world of straight men.
Sadly, most of us also found far less healing, acceptance and unconditional love among gay men than we had imagined we would. A common experience among us what that we experienced the gay world as a place that was fraught with promiscuity, lust, obsession with youth and physical appearance, addiction to sex, alcohol and lust. We found judgment, pettiness, spiritual darkness and brokenness. Although we experienced small pieces of healing there at times, for the most part, it only deepened the emotional and spiritual emptiness inside.
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. Indeed, letting go of these destructive emotions was a vital part of our healing for all of us. Until we did, they entrapped us, disabled us and obstructed real change. But we found it was counterproductive to embrace an openly gay identity and lifestyle in an attempt to free ourselves of shame and hate, because doing so required us to suppress our conscience and surrender our values. We found instead that 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.
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. No wonder. 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.
Indeed, 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.
Trying to Force Opposite-Sex Attraction
Some of the worst, albeit well-meaning, advice we ever received was to resolve our homosexual feelings by dating women or looking at female pornography 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. We needed to overcome our “heterophobia” with men.
That is where we found healing.”
Through out all this the voice of the Holy Spirit never stopped speaking to me. I prayed Lord lead me to the truth.
It is then that I started to search the internet. I contacted several organizations in America but the only one that responded was Richard Cohen from International Healing Foundation. That started a relationship that is still in existence today. Once I came in contact with Richard’s work and therapy, a new world opened up to me. I started to understand what happened to me and where these desires came from. I was also introduced to Dr. Nicolosi’s work.
Two years of hard work followed. As I prayed to the Lord to lead me and show me the wounds and help me to heal from the emotional pain and I started to work the program, slowly but surely things started to change. There were times that I felt I want to give up. At times it felt like I was giving one step forward and two steps back. However I made this commitment never ever to give up. Even if I fall a thousand times, I will get up and walk again. That is also what happened. If there is one thing I have learned then it is that there are no quick fixes. It seemed like it first went worse before it became better. I have learned how weak I am and how I need Jesus. I have learned that when I am weak then I am strong because His power is shown in my weakness. I discovered that God was with me each step of the way, but He never did for me what I had to do for myself. He showed me the way but I had to travel it. He made me see the pain and the deficits in my life but I had to take action.
I had to deal with social phobia, build healthy good non-sexual male relationships. I had to expose myself and stretch myself outside my comfort zone. I also had to heal emotional hurts of the past and get legitimate love needs met. As I started to feel equal to other men and got affirmed in my gender identity and male sexuality and I learned to get in touch with my own feelings and needs and I learned to set healthy boundaries and to be assertive, life started to change for me.
As I progressed over time there came a stage where I realized that I had no attraction to the same sex any more. I could walk past billboards, see half naked men, shower with guys etc. and find it had no effect on me. I then went into a period where I was not attracted to any sex.
However, I was not yet completely healed of my sexual addiction and obsessive compulsiveness. I still found myself going to a male chat site, pretending I am 18 and had these chats with guys. I also would still continue with my messaging of these two guys mentioned above. No matter how much I tried to stop it, I could not.
Then one morning I was praying to God and asked him to please help me with this addiction. That morning I experienced God’s presence in a special way. As I opened my eyes after prayer, my attention was drawn to a book on my shelf. I got up and took the book from the shelf. The book opened towards the middel and I started reading. As I was reading I so clearly saw the way. Though it was a book on brain science it explained to me in scientific terms Rom. 5 to 8. I was then reminded of two books written by Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Live and The Overcoming Life. There my spiritual eyes were opened and I realised all these years I was praying for God to do something for me, which He already has done for me in Jesus Christ. I had to come and take, what Christ has already done for me, by faith. It is then that the battle Royal started. I realised that in the depth of my heart, in a strange manner, I loved my sinful doings, yet at the same time I did not want to do it. It is then that I heard the Lord saying to me “take your Isaac and offer it to me.” A battle of giving up my will to submit to God’s will start. It took me time till after a few days I said to God; “Lord I am giving it up.” Then followed three days where I continuously said to the Lord; “Lord my Isaac is on the altar.” It was in the afternoon of the third day that faith came into my heart and I knew it was over. From that moment my addiction and compulsivity was gone. Up to this day I had no desire to go back to a chat site nor to have sex talk or to be seen naked by guys.
Something became very real to me. The more I was healed from the emotional pain, I experienced that sanctification became also more real to me. I experienced that victory became mine in areas where I had no victory before. I realized that Jesus came to set the captives free and to heal the broken hearted.
I continued working on the heterosexual wounds and had to learn about the opposite sex. Again a lot of work had to go into it. I then came to a stage where I felt I was ready to pursue the opposite sex. I prayed to God to give me the wife he had in mind for me and so it happened that God showed me a lady who was always sitting right in front of me in church. She had two boys. I did not know her but had some interaction with her boys. I spoke to God about the two boys and was questioning my ability to be a husband and a father. It’s then that God said, “I want you to make contact with this lady, and her sons will add to your healing.” (Taking in account that I was always attracted to teenage guys, this was the ultimate test to the work God did in my life).
I then made an appointment with her and we started to visit and then dating. I found out that she was a widow and had brought up these two kids alone since the youngest was 6 and the oldest 9. At that stage the oldest was 18 and the youngest 15. I talked my past through with her because I believed she should not be left in the dark about it and must have the opportunity to pull out of the relationship if she had wished to do so.
We got engaged on Valentines Day, 14 February 2004 and married on 24 June 2004. Our first two years was not smooth sailing and at least at two occasions I felt like packing my stuff and leaving. However difficult it was, we continued working at our relationship and it got all the better and is still growing beter and better. At this stage I am at the best place in my life that I have ever been.
The Lord gave me this word from Jer. 15:19: “Therefore thus says the Lord: If you return, then I will bring you back. You shall stand before me. If you will take out the precious from the vile you shall be as my mouth. Let them return to you, but you must not return to them.” And Rev. 3:8 “I know what you do; I know that you have a little power, you have followed my teaching and have been faithful to me. I have opened a door in front of you, which no one can close.”
It was November 2009 that God start speaking to me to get involved with fulltime ministry again. At the end of January 2010 I resigned from ABSA and started a chapter of International Healing Foundation in South Africa. I was running it for two years but God gave us a bigger vision and I closed the chapter in South Africa and opened New Living Way Ministry on 1 March 2012. You can read more about it at www.LearnToLove.co.za.
When I look back and wonder how I ever made it this far, you would realize it is not that I have been clever, but God has been wise. Not that I have been strong, but God has been mighty. Not that I have been consistent, but God has been faithful. I call it GOD’S AMAZING GRACE!
Andre Bekker (Please visit his Website: http://www.learntolove.co.za/index.php )