Post-Gay Testimony #4

Today’s is the Rev Don Alcock:

As a child, my father’s employment caused him to work out of town. To support his family, he was willing to be away and only visit home every other weekend and for holidays. When he was home, he was often tired or more interested in spending time with his wife. I was never interested in the things most boys are—like sports (other than hockey, and that was only a lukewarm interest to win my father’s love). I had an older brother (by two years) and he wasn’t interested in his kid brother playing with him and his friends (which shut me out of the neighbourhood as almost all of the boys were not my age). I played with the girls. As I grew older, however, I longed for that male companionship, but didn’t know how to find it. I was willing to do anything for another boy to pay attention to me, and so I was willing to engage in sexual activity to get that attention. What I didn’t realize (how could I at that age?) was that I now equated homosexual activity with male bonding and companionship. As I went through my teen years, then, my desires for contact with other males grew and the pattern was established, but I held back because I made myself available to one male in particular, though he was living outwardly heterosexually. As a result my own sexual needs were met, but they were secondary to my satisfying him so that I could enjoy the male companionship I so deeply desired, and there was little risk of getting caught and exposed.

When I went to university, I might have been more willing to risk exposure, as fewer people knew me there, but this was the late 1960s and it was still socially unacceptable to be homosexual. I couldn’t risk it, and so I remained closeted and satisfied myself with masturbation and the occasional contact with this one male. Even when I went to graduate school in Los Angeles, I was too scared to come out, so I discovered pornography to feed my fantasy life in masturbation. The beginning of AIDS also helped keep me closeted, as my mind was logical enough to conclude that a few minutes of sexual pleasure was not worth the risk of death (and humiliation) from AIDS. That did not diminish the desires or need for male contact; an outlet was necessary, so pornography and masturbation became almost an obsession.

A Born Again Experience

During all this time, I was a lapsed Anglican—confirmed out the door, as some say. In May 1989, though, I had a born again experience which brought me back to the church, but more important, back into relationship with God. I had had my life on track (except for my sexuality), but knew something was missing inside. I had previously assumed it was a companion, so I guess I was surprised at how fulfilling my renewed relationship with God was to me. I truly felt reborn, even though I still had this dark secret within me.

In the early 1990s, my church in Victoria hosted a “Faith Alive” weekend. While this parish did not really need stimuli for its faith, the folks who came from Seattle did introduce me to Life in the Spirit. It was through this weekend of new experiences that I made my first confession of my homosexual desires and actions. The Spirit worked within me to know that these were people in whom I could confide and help could be found. A follow-up visit to Seattle led to some intensive prayer ministry and I left with at least an initial sense of God’s healing for me.

Unfortunately, all the old urges and forces at work within me continued to boil to the surface and my outlet was gay pornography and masturbation. It almost became cyclical in nature – rent a video on Saturday, indulge in my lusts, and then return the video before going to church on Sunday morning, where I repented of my failings. I really did not hold myself in very high esteem, and not having a safe outlet to discuss what was going on inside me only accentuated the problems.

Attending the Living Waters Programme

I moved to Vancouver for a year and it was there that my parish church and priest introduced me to the Living Waters programme. I was unsure at first, because I felt that seeking more help would be to deny what God had done for me with the folks in Seattle. Looking back, of course, I can see that that was the work of the Enemy, who wanted that thought to outweigh the turmoil within me in order to keep me from attending the programme. I didn’t go to the first meeting and when I confessed that to my priest, he almost literally got in my face and said, “If you trust me for nothing else, GO!” and I did.

I found myself in a church basement with a large number of strangers, but quickly learned that everyone there was battling sexual issues of their own. The Living Waters programme deals with any brokenness associated with our sexual being; it runs the gamut from asexuality to promiscuity with everything in between. It is a Christian based programme, with the first hour of each weekly meeting being devoted to praise and worship. It focused us on God and helped shut out the rest of the world. The second hour was teaching – during which I learned all the causes of sexual brokenness (including homosexuality). The third hour was for small group discussions to help get a better understanding of the teachings of the week, in the perspective of our individual lives.

Once the basics had been covered, the road to healing was about to begin, but the leader said we must be willing to leave our issue(s) at the foot of the cross. Unless we were willing to let go of our baggage, we weren’t ready to receive God’s healing. He invited us to close our eyes and envision leaving our stuff at the foot of the cross. The last thing I saw before closing my eyes was a tiny gold cross hanging around the neck of a woman across the room. When I closed my eyes, I saw that very cross and my sin of homosexuality was represented by a marble – which wouldn’t fit under the cross. I heard God say, “I’ll make it bigger for you.” That cross grew to the size of a pectoral cross (the size of one worn by my former priest in Victoria), and I found myself now holding a baseball – which wouldn’t fit under that cross either. Again, I heard God say, “I’ll make it bigger for you.” In my logical thought process, the next size of cross would be an altar-sized cross, so there I was waiting and holding a beach ball and knowing it wouldn’t fit under that cross either. (In my mind, I felt my homosexuality was too big for God’s forgiveness!) Suddenly the ground shook beside me and out of it exploded a cross which was 12 feet by 12 feet. As it soared upward in proportional height, I stood there mouth opened wide in awe. Then a tiny drop of blood came down, covered the beach ball, and it was gone. As I continued to look upward, I sensed God looking down with a Cheshire cat grin on His face and He said, “Now is it big enough for you?” I was not bringing anything other than my sin of homosexuality before the Lord, so I knew then that it not only is a sin, but it is just a sin—no bigger nor worse than any other sin. My healing had begun.

What Real Love Is

Through the remainder of the course, I was able to apply the teachings to my life and came to terms with what had led me to have same gender attractions. One experience has remained with me as powerfully as the cross story. We were invited to revisit one of our homosexual experiences and to replay the scene with Jesus in the picture. I returned to the first time I completed the oral satisfaction of a man. I remember gagging and needing some water to clear my throat. As I stood before the kitchen sink drinking water, there was Jesus across the room. Instantaneously, I was standing before our Lord. He looked at me intently and said, “That’s not real love; this is.” And He hugged me. Jesus hugged me so I could experience for the first time what real love is between men, and there was nothing even remotely erotic about it—it was just pure love pouring through me. I also learned in this course how to break my cycle of pornography—a truly liberating experience in itself! Equipped with the knowledge of what had caused my same gender attractions, I was now prepared to change my life, and become the man God created me to be.

Sadly, I did not follow up with any kind of group counseling/therapy as is recommended. My pride got in the way. I felt I was able to do it on my own and didn’t need further help from others. That was a key mistake. Over the next decade, I continued to struggle. What I couldn’t understand was that if our Lord had truly healed me of my sexual brokenness, then why was I still having same gender attractions? The Enemy is patient and was taking his time to seduce me back from God’s truth.

When I entered seminary in 1996, I was as vulnerable as I’d ever been in my life. My father died in 1994 and I’d not had the opportunity to resolve my deep need for hearing his love and approval of me. In fact, I was angry at God for taking my father just a few hours before I was scheduled to see him again. Perhaps it was that anger which led to my backsliding. The seminary was steeped in liberal theological ideas and I felt enormous pressure to let go of some of my essential beliefs – to fit in and be accepted by others continued to rule my life. Because of my anger at God for taking my father too soon (at least in my opinion), I was ready to reject His healing and accept the liberal notion that homosexuality is not sinful. I succumbed to the pressure and decided not to struggle any longer, but declare myself to be a homosexual.

What surprised me most was that the liberals did not embrace me and love me and support me as I’d expected. The conservatives did! I was part of a prayer group which came together for prayer and mutual support. They told me that they did not approve of my decision and would continue to pray for me in that regard, but that I was loved and accepted nevertheless and I continued in fellowship with them. The need for approval from others and authority figures (especially male ones) kept me from repenting. It was easier to give in to the feelings than to fight them.

I should have known better, but even when the liberal forces turned against me and accused me of terrible things, I still wanted to prove myself to them. All that God had taught me out west went out the window. It was a year from hell, and it was only when I gave up trying to fix it myself that I was able to let God take control and through His efforts I was able to produce an evaluation from an acceptable authority which allowed me back into seminary to complete my studies. I had also made the decision that even if I was created with same gender feelings (as the liberals proclaim), I would not give into them and planned to remain celibate. Look at the problems just “coming out” had caused; I wasn’t willing to risk anything more. I was confused to say the least.

Prayer Ministry in the UK

Once I was placed in my parish, I met a couple who were involved in the Wholeness Through Christ Prayer Ministry in the UK. It sounded like a fantastic Christian method of pastoral care, so I didn’t hesitate when they offered to send me to the UK for a course. I went in May 2001 and it proved to be as life-changing for me as the previous experiences in western Canada.

The premise was simple enough: we are all wounded in some way or other. In our humanness, we react badly and sin. Until we address the wound itself and its root cause(s), it cannot properly heal. Likewise, until we do that, we remain in bondage to that wound and will continue in reactive sin. There is a fourth quadrant in their model, which remains a possibility but doesn’t always come into play – that of demonic activity. The course, by the way, is a live-in programme lasting from Monday afternoon through Friday lunch. There is worship with praise singing, there is teaching, there are testimonies, and there is much prayer. Individual prayer times can last from four to six hours, though time stands still while you’re in it. This proved to be the counseling I had neglected after the Living Waters programme. In what I felt was a safe environment (fully protected by our Lord), I was able to get to the root causes of my wounds and forgive. Once I was able to forgive, I was able to stop reacting in a sinful way, and I was able to see and cut the bonds which were holding me to the hurts of my wounds and my penchant for reactive sin. No longer was I seeing my same gender attractions as something created by God, but rather something I created to soothe my wounds.

I was on Cloud Nine! I wanted more, but alas I had to wait six months before returning for a second course. They knew what they were doing when they established that six-month waiting period. After returning home and leaving that safe environment, the Enemy went to work on me, trying to seduce me with plausible ideas as to why I was being brain-washed away from what God created in me. It was a struggle, but thanks to my friends, I had the prayer and personal support I needed. By the time I returned for the second course, the Lord had showed me the remaining things which were still binding me to same gender attractions—things I would deal with to continue the process of healing.

Falling In Love

The programme administrators invited me to attend a third course (which is a more advanced level of the same ideas) and so I went in February 2002. What had happened after returning home from the second course was most unexpected. I attended a clergy retreat and during a very late night chat about the programme, I had been talking about the woman who had led both of my courses and with whom I’d spent a day touring the Trossacks of Scotland after the first course, when one of my fellow clergy looked at me and said, “You’re in love with her.” Sometimes I need to be told the obvious, and this was one of those moments. There was no doubt in my mind—I did indeed love this woman.

The doubt I had was, “How can this work? I’m in Canada and she’s in the UK.” The practicalities of such a relationship (and I know these came from the Enemy) tried to put an end to it before it began. Nevertheless, my friends encouraged me to communicate my feelings to this woman and test the waters. I did so in an email, and waited. No reply. Needless to say, all of my old insecurities bubbled to the surface and if nothing else, I was ready to proclaim myself celibate for life—never intending to risk like this again. Fortunately, my friends got involved and telephoned her. She’d not replied because I’d mailed it to her at the office and the office was closed down for the Christmas season; she wouldn’t have read it for another few weeks. She went to the office, read it and replied with the same trepidation that I felt – how can this work?

We decided to spend a few days together before the third course, and by then I had put my trust in the Lord that He had ordained this relationship, and resolved to throw caution to the wind and propose marriage to her. She, too, put her trust in the Lord as I had, and she accepted. We married on September 6, 2002. If we needed any other assurance that this was of the Lord, we found it in that date. My parents were married on September 6, 1947 and her parents were married on that same day!! We have been happily married ever since. It was several months into the marriage before I realized that she truly loved me. I was then able to accept that for most of my life I had used food (especially ice cream, cookies, and chips) to comfort my hurts. I was obese for most of my life; food was my one reliable friend—even though it wasn’t. No longer needing the comfort of some foods, I was able to begin a diet programme and over the succeeding months shed 75 pounds of excess weight and keep it off. To me that was another of God’s miracle blessings in me.

I don’t deny that I can still experience same gender attractions. What’s different, however, is that I know what’s behind them. It’s the same old story and those feelings (which are becoming more and more infrequent) are quickly squashed—I no longer have any need to indulge in them. In fact, I have something far more precious—the love of my wife Yvonne—a relationship which is right and ordained in the eyes of our Lord. It has been a long and often difficult struggle, but the Lord never gave up on me. He persisted even when I was turning my back on Him. His unconditional love won me over. The truth of His Word brought healing of my brokenness and resurrected the heterosexual man God created. Thanks be to God!

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