THE FOUR STAGES OF HEALING
Dr Elizabeth Moberly, in her book, Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic,
defines the homosexual condition as "a deficit in the child's ability to
relate to the parent of the same sex in general [coupled with] a
corresponding drive to make good the deficit -- through the medium of same-
sex or 'homosexual' relationships." The homosexual person seeks to fill a
legitimate love need through erotic means.
The same-sex love need is a normal, legitimate need of every person. Some
people fill it satisfactorily enough and live very normal lives. Others
who attempt to ignore the same-sex love need, experience various symptoms
of broken or desperate heterosexual interactions. For those experiencing
homosexual urges, the need can neither be ignored nor seemingly can it be
We believe that the same-sex love need is part of God's created order.
Freedom from homosexuality is not the elimination of this need. Finding
freedom involves a process of filling the love need and maintaining its
healthy state. This process involves four distinct stages:
% change in behaviour,
% increased self-esteem,
% deepening same-sex relationships and
% the discovery of the heterosexual or complementary-sex relationship.
FIRST STAGE - The Call To Obedience
The very first steps in making a change in any aspect of life is to change
behaviour. The behavioural changes will in themselves produce a new
perception of who one is. Throughout the Scriptures we constantly find
commands to obey -- regardless of our feelings at that time.
Genesis 4:6-7 give us the example of Cain. The Lord says to Cain, "Why are
you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you
not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at
your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." This
conversation took place before Cain killed Abel.
For the person struggling with homosexuality, this means quickly and
completely cutting off all associations with the homosexual lifestyle --
which includes those people and places like gay friends, gay bars, pro-gay
groups like the Metropolitan Community Church, Evangelical Concerned and
liberal mainline churches who support the homosexually active person.
In this first stage of the transformation process, God simply calls us to
obey. In Ezekiel 33, the prophet declares God's Word, "Turn! Turn from
your evil ways! ... And if I say to the wicked man, 'You will surely die,'
but he then turns away from his sin and does what is just and right -- if
he ... follows the decrees that give life, and does no evil, he will surely
live; he will not die." (vs 11,14,15) 1/. When we obey, we receive God's
blessing. Obeying, restraining from homosexual activities and social
settings, is the necessary first step. Even though making these first
steps can be traumatic, God's Word still calls us to obey.
SECOND STAGE - Self-Esteem Founded In Grace
The second stage of the transformation process involves the establishment
of self-esteem. Many clients are weighed down with the guilt of their
sinful past. Often the real guilt is magnified by false guilt, or false
beliefs about themselves. Yes, you are guilty of sin, but no, you are not
unforgivable. Yes, you have behaved in an unlovely manner, but you are
still worthy of love -- both God's love and the love of those in your
One of the significant transition points in my life was the afternoon when
Ren, a pastor who knew I had fallen sexually, expressed his love for me
anyway: "Doug, what you've done really hurts me!" Maybe the message
wasn't conveyed in those words, but it certainly was conveyed through our
relationship. He could accept me for who I was -- sin and all. In that
situation, my spirit didn't soar, but more importantly, it stopped sinking
This second stage established the reality of God's grace, love, and
forgiveness. It is because of God's love expressed through His grace and
forgiveness that we come to see that we who struggle with homosexuality
have intrinsic worth. For those raised in a traditional Christian home and
church, this is a time of seeing theology transformed into living, personal
Another aspect of this stage is beginning to accept yourself for who you
are, including things about your body that are basically unchangeable, like
shape of face, hair colour, and bust size. There are some things that are
changeable, like weight, but it's still very important to start with the
premise that you are lovable as you are.
If you have been sexually abused, it means realising that you are not
"damaged goods" because of the event. As a guide to inner healing, we
encourage praying Psalm 139:14 and the study of Scriptures which teach us
who we are in Christ.
Finally, we must also deal with the age-old question, "Who am I?" We have
all ready begun to answer that by examining who we are in Jesus Christ.
Yet, there is a need to continue onward. Who am I as a member of society?
Having a realistic picture of myself is of utmost importance.
While in university, I often let my failures define who I was, while at the
same time I didn't allow my successes to influence me. A "D" on an ancient
philosophy course paper told me I could never write anything. Yet, when my
psychology professors exclaimed, "I like your writing style!" and gave me
an "A" on the course paper, I refused to believe that I could really write
This stage deals with reinforcing the true positives in your life. A
significant number of our clients are either unemployed or underemployed
while seeking counsel. This state often locks them into an "I'm a failure"
mentality. Dealing with self-esteem as it is defined by our occupation,
social activities, and cultural expectations is an important element in the
healing process. Learning to see yourself as God sees you and coming to
accept the compliments of those in your social circles will help free you
from various self-defeating and degrading behaviours and thoughts.
THIRD STAGE - Establishing Same-Sex Friendships
Through the third stage of the transformation process, the person seeking
freedom from homosexuality is required to establish deep interpersonal
relationships with members of his or her own gender. This stage is
analogous to ministering to the needs of starving people. The first major
concern is to provide the person with the vital nourishment that will
maintain his life. It is needful to restore the person to full health,
slowly increasing the supply of nourishment. After full health has been
achieved, it is important to maintain a consistent supply of nourishment
through a balanced diet. Too much nourishment can cause obesity; to
For the person seeking freedom from homosexuality, the nourishment comes
through the formation of same-sex relationships. The homosexual condition,
as described by Moberly, is this lack or deficit in the same-sex
relationship. It is not a failure with the opposite-sex relationship.
Nourishment comes in two specific ways. First, it is needful to treat the
hurts of the past. That is, the person must be called to forgive those
members of his gender who have intentionally or unintentionally wounded
him. Bitterness and anger must be resolved. Secondly, the individual must
begin to experience the unconditional acceptance and love from the members
of his own gender. This can be done through the establishment of same-sex
After the initial healing has occurred and the person achieves full health,
it is important that he continues to feed his same-sex love needs. As they
are fulfilled, he will have no need to seek fulfilment through the
FOURTH STAGE - Accepting Heterosexuality
The fourth stage of the transformation process is the growing and drawing
towards, the acceptance of, and the incorporation with the opposite or
complementary sex. This can only occur when the same-sex love need has
been filled and continues to be filled. Only when one has accepted and
embraced himself as a member of his own gender can attraction begin to
develop toward that which is different from the self.
It is important to realise that the development of heterosexuality is a
result of the change process. Dating, marriage, and child-bearing are not
the proof of transformation, nor are they the cure for homosexuality.
What then is the ex-gay reality? Simply, it is a process of growth
incorporating obedience, thriving in one's relationship to God, building
and maintaining same-sex friendships and, finally, walking into the
heterosexual or complementary-sex relationship. Going through the process,
one realises that he is never free of the tempter's power (Luke 17:1) even
though the type, strengths, and intensity of the homosexual temptations
Failure, slipping back into overt homosexual behaviour or even a
relationship, may occur. This, too, is part of the ex-gay reality. This
is not a sign of total defeat, but rather an opportunity to build or
rebuild the foundation of accepting God's forgiveness and unconditional
acceptance when we courageously go before Him at these times when we are
seemingly defeated. (Psalm 103; Micah 7:18-20).
-- Douglas A Houck
1/. See also Exodus 19:5, 20:6; Psalms 1:2; Psalms 103 and 119; Proverbs
19:16; Matthew 6:24, Luke 6:46; John 14:15; 15:14; I John 5:2-3.
Elizabeth Moberly's Books:
Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic. Greenwood, South Carolina: Attic
Psychogenesis. Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984.
The Psychology Of Self and Other. New York: Methuen, 1985.
This sequel to Psychogensis offers an innovative theory of developmental
arrest and the possibilities of restoration.
For further information about homosexuality or about other areas of sexual
brokenness, please contact:
LOVE IN ACTION
G.P.O. Box 1115
ADELAIDE SA 5001
Phone (08) 371 0446
This article is reprinted by permission from
P O Box 33039,
Seattle, WA 98133, U.S.A.
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