Anonymous interview conducted by Hannah Madsen
“I am not comfortable placing our hope in heterosexuality. I am comfortable placing our hope in Christ and his sanctification.” –Mark Yarhouse
After a recent visit from Mark Yarhouse, sexuality researcher and author, and the campus-wide Safe Place event “Making Room: How can we make Corban a safe place for those navigating issues of sexual identity?” one brave student is willing to share the story of their struggle to help the Corban community get a deeper, personal understanding of sexual identity.
Question: What aspect of sexual identity have you struggled with and how has it affected you?
Answer: As a male, I experience attraction to women in all aspects except physical. Essentially, this means that I want to, can be, and have been in relationships with women that I am attracted to, but physically, the desire for intimacy just isn’t there. This has been frustrating both for me and significant others to work through, since the physical desire is mostly one-sided. I do experience physical attraction to women, but those instances are fleeting.
I experience attraction to men – but only on the physical level. I find my eyes wandering over guys like “normal” men do to women. I lust after them. This is complicated by the fact that physical touch is my primary love language. It is tough for me to draw the line between brotherly affection and affection that can be lustful.
These feelings have complicated my feelings toward both genders. I tend to distance myself from other guys because I feel ashamed for the way I think of them. I form bonds quickly with girls, but I am more cautious bonding with guys, since my brain can easily develop it into something more.
Question: If you’ve read Mark Yarhouse’s book “Homosexuality and the Christian” what stuck out to you the most and how has it impacted you?
Answer: This is the book that made me realize that I don’t have to automatically condemn myself for my sins. It was assigned reading for my Theology class, but I was given the book earlier in the year from a mentor who thought it would be helpful to me personally. I’m pretty sure my copy of the book is equally covered in highlighter and my tears. It really showed me that God gives us struggles for a reason, even if that reason isn’t clear in the here and now. I appreciate Yarhouse’s objective view of the issue – he doesn’t immediately condemn same-sex attraction, but breaks it down into three tiers – same-sex attraction, homosexual orientation, and gay identity. You can read the book for more details (and I highly recommend it even for those who don’t go through these issues). Essentially, the point that really hit me was something along the lines of “Experiencing same-sex attraction doesn’t make you gay. It’s only if you choose to pursue a gay identity.” Through his book, I saw that I am not gay – I am a heterosexual that experiences same-sex attraction. My identity is found in Christ, not in who I lust after. This doesn’t excuse me from homosexual actions, obviously. According to God’s word, lust is lust. It doesn’t matter what you are lusting after, whether it be men, women, money, whatever – it’s still sin. And sinners need help.
Question: Why is this issue important for the Corban community to be educated on?
Answer: This issue is never talked about. It wasn’t even addressed until I got to Corban. I never really understood what I was feeling, and once I did, I instantly found that I didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t know where to turn, who to talk to, or even how to talk about it. I felt stuck. Because of this, I internalized my struggles. I shoved them deep down inside myself and told myself: “It’s just a phase I’m going through – it’ll go away eventually. Just don’t act on what you’re feeling.” It’s important to be aware of this problem because it happens all the time. More people are going through this than you probably realize. One of the lies Satan fed me through my struggles is that I was alone in this. I want to break that belief.
Question: As someone who struggles/has struggled with this issues, what is the one thing you wish to communicate to your fellow students?
Answer: Those who are going through this – you are never alone. Chances are, someone you are close to is going through or has been through the very thing you are. And even if nobody has, most people on campus understand that this isn’t “the unforgivable sin.” A sin is a sin, and sinners need help – regardless of what they struggle with.
Those who are unaware of this issue – it’s real. And it’s not as scary as you think. Just be open to helping your brothers and sisters in Christ. The last thing they need is your judgment. Just having people that are willing to listen and pray with you is much more help than you would think.
Hannah, and to the student interviewed; thank you so much for your communication and honesty with a topic that is as central to our humanity as identity is. I so respect and value the words and story represented here, and have been amazed as the Corban community has navigated through the topic of sexuality how much there is to learn. Yarhouse’s book was both highly informative and challenging, as it revealed to me distinct presuppositions and roughly formulated beliefs constructed along my own experience that were in opposition to the constructs and Biblical approach he has surrounded the issue in. What an incredible place to work through issues such as these.
Cathy Downs says
I too applaud Hannah & the interviewed student! Such courage, and honest and personal sharing of your story. Our community here at Corban is better off for having this article out there. I’m thankful to be a part of a department that read through and has discussed at length the Yarhouse book, “Homosexuality and the Christian” and found myself at a whole new level of understanding. Along with you I want to shout from the mountaintops “A sin is a sin, and sinners need help – regardless of what they struggle with.” May we all find grace from our fellow believers as we struggle with our particular weakness and find our identity in Christ and Christ alone!!!