Alan’s Story, Part 2
About the Guest
How might a boy’s hunger for acceptance and approval lure him into homosexuality? Alan Medinger, founder of the ex-gay ministry Regeneration, and author Don Schmierer tell how children are impacted by an emotionally absent father.
How might a boy’s hunger for acceptance and approval lure him into homosexuality?
Alan’s Story, Part 2
Alan: I had a kind of rationalization of all of that. I believed that we were all sinners. This just happened to be my sin, and otherwise I was a pretty fine person, and that became very significant later in life when I was just about destroying my wife. I still felt that way – it was amazing how I could justify myself if not justify that behavior.
This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, February 24th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Is it hypocritical for someone to claim he is in a right relationship with God and still practice homosexuality?
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. We are focused this week on a sensitive subject, and it may be one that is not appropriate for younger listeners. Moms and Dads will want to make that determination. We're going to be talking this week about the subject of homosexuality.
Dennis: That's right.
Bob: And it occurred to me, as we talked about it yesterday, we talked about moms and dads and young boys growing up and how they drift into this practice. But it occurred to me that some of our listeners may find themselves either tempted in this direction or actually practicing homosexuality, and I hope they will stay tuned.
Dennis: You know, we have more than 3 million listeners to FamilyLife Today on a weekly basis and, undoubtedly, among that listening audience there are singles, there are marrieds, there are those who have been previously married who secretly struggle with this sin – the sin of homosexuality.
And as we spend the rest of this week talking about this subject, if you are one of those who are struggling with this subject, I think what I want you to hear from us is that we understand there is a great deal of pain around this …
Alan: There sure is.
Dennis: … around this subject. We know that there is a great deal of shame and of quiet turmoil and hurt that maybe we've never dealt with on this particular sin, but because of other mistakes we've made in our life, I promise you, I know what shame is, and I know what it means to feel guilty and want out of something and maybe, at a point, feel powerless to get out.
And so as we address this subject, I just want our listening audience who find themselves struggling over this sin to feel welcomed. I want you to listen in and listen with an open mind, because I think we have some very real hopeful solutions for you that we're going to offer over the next couple of days.
We have two gentlemen with us who both have very differing backgrounds when it comes to this subject. Don Schmierer joins us from Central California, lives on a farm up near Sacramento; a number of years with The Navigators; has written a book called "An Ounce of Prevention."
Alan Medinger also joins us. He has written a book called "Growth Into Manhood," subtitled "Resuming the Journey." He and his wife, Willa, have two daughters and a son. He is a former executive director of Exodus North America and is the present director and founder of Regeneration, one of the oldest Christian ex-gay ministries in the world and Alan, Don, I want to welcome you back to FamilyLife Today.
Don: It's great to be here.
Alan: Thank you, Dennis.
Bob: Don, you're going to have to excuse us if we focus our attention primarily with Alan today. Yesterday, Alan, you kind of filled us in on the early years in your life and how, at a young age, you began to hunger for the approval and the affirmation of a man in your life. You weren't getting that from your father. In fact, there weren't a whole lot of role models who were providing that for you and, as you said, it began not with a sexual orientation but just began with a desire to be affirmed in your masculinity.
You later began acting that out sexually as you got into junior high and senior high, and yet, at the same time, you had started dating the woman who would eventually become your wife. And I have to tell you, I thought to myself – and I don't mean for this to sound trite at all, but she had to feel like the safest woman in the world. Did you have any aggressive sexual orientation toward her at all as you were dating?
Alan: I did have a sense that I could function heterosexually in the marriage. [inaudible] physical proximity, and kissing and so forth, and I didn't understand homosexuality, and I had not been active for a number of years. So I thought I would function. I knew it wasn't my first choice sexually, but I saw my life as a married man and having children, and so forth, so – I'll cope. I didn't think it would heal me. I didn't go into it like some guys do on that basis.
Bob: Some of these questions, you know, are a little awkward to ask and yet it's what folks are curious about. Did you find sexual satisfaction in marriage?
Alan: I found some, yes. It was pleasurable. Nothing like it was to become later on when I truly loved my wife, and it was a part of our fuller relationship.
Bob: And I think part of what that points out is that the issue, although it's acted out sexually, is not primarily a sexual issue, is it?
Alan: Absolutely, absolutely. We've sexualized certain needs in our – certain cravings in our lives. Homosexuality is not, at its core, a sexual issue.
Dennis: Yesterday you mentioned that you'd had six years of really abstaining from any activity with men. You got married, and I assume, for a period of time, that time of abstinence, continued to occur.
Alan: Right. We had five pretty good years. We had two little girls. I didn't act out homosexually. I still struggled a lot with the fantasy life, but after about five years when the normal pressures of family and career started to build up, I started to get back into homosexual pornography. My wife went through a thyroid problem, which set her off emotionally, and then those pressures, I went back to my old way of coping with life. I started to act out homosexually and was then to be acting out for 10 years in the marriage.
Dennis: At that point, obviously, you had the secret life of the pornography that you wife knew nothing about. How did you act out your sexual desire for men, being a married man? Would you go to public places? Would you go to bars? How does that even work for someone who is interested in homosexual sex?
Alan: I started out at first very, very discreet. I would go over to Washington, 45 miles from Baltimore, to a gay bar occasionally. I lied about where I was. I would say I was on a business trip or working or something like that, and I was a very honest person, but I had learned to lie in this area tremendously. And I would go out on Saturday mornings to a park. I'd tell my wife I had gone to the store. Certainly, the marriage constrained my activity a great deal. I'm kind of grateful for that, too. But I found ways – on business trips I would go out.
Dennis: You know, I was reading in your book a statement that stuck out. You said, "Male homosexuality is, at its core, a matter of undeveloped manhood and how true healing ultimately requires that we grow, even as adults, into manhood." And the reason I liked that was twofold. Number one, it helped me better understand a little bit of what we talked about yesterday, Bob. We talked about how many homosexuals have an arrested development of manhood in their adolescent years.
But there is a second thing that I liked about your statement – there is profound hope that someone who has gotten offtrack and hasn't been growing toward manhood, that he can get back on track, and he can ultimately become the man God designed him to be.
Alan: Yes, absolutely. That's why I subtitled my book, "Resuming the Journey." I was 38 years old when I came out of homosexuality, and I think, in my maturity, I was about eight years old, in my maturity as a man. And my story has been one of fully growing into manhood where today I am very, very content and at peace with my manhood and delighted to be a man.
Dennis: Your marriage had to be suffering from a lack of intimacy. I mean, if you're running around expressing all this physical intimacy for other men, you couldn't know how to have a healthy relationship with your wife at that point.
Alan: No, absolutely not. In fact, I think it was worse than that. I didn't even have the capacity to love. I think early in my childhood, as a kind of self-protective thing – well, I can remember, as a young boy, my father was in the depth of his depression, he was drinking some, and they were fighting. I can remember lying in bed one night and saying, "They can't hurt me. Nobody can ever hurt me." And I think I sealed myself off from any kind of hurt. I put up some walls around myself that kept me from being hurt, but they also kept me from being able to love. I don't think I ever really loved my wife until after my conversion and healing. So it was – I liked her, but I didn't love her.
You went through a prolonged period where you were not relating to her as a husband sexually. Your relationship was continuing to come unraveled. What was the ultimate crisis point that broke you as a man?
Alan: It didn't come with a single thing. I did see my life as hopeless. I was becoming more and more addicted to the sex. I was into dangerous things. I assumed that I would eventually lose my wife, my family, my career. I was with a very conservative company.
Dennis: What do you mean, "dangerous things?"
Alan: I was – well, first of all, I was going openly into gay bars in Baltimore – on main streets in Baltimore where I could be seen.
Dennis: Now, this was before the time of AIDS, too, wasn't it?
Alan: Yes, it was, yes. I came out of homosexuality before AIDS struck this country. I also was into answering ads in magazines, in gay magazines. I was into sado-masochism, and there was an increasing desperation. Just about anything could have happened to me. As I say, I went to church, I prayed about it, but nothing ever seemed to happen.
I saw myself on a downward slide and thought there was nothing I could do about it.
Bob: So in the midst of this hopelessness, what happened?
Alan: God intervened. The first thing that happened that I could notice – of course, there were many others where God had His hand on me that I could see now, but the most significant thing was a woman came to our church to talk about prayer groups – to our little suburban fairly liberal church, and she talked about prayer groups. And my wife rushed up to her afterwards and said, "I am desperately unhappy. Can you get me into a prayer group?" And this woman invited Willa into her prayer group.
Well, what we didn't know is that this prayer group was a group of older women but it was headed up by a woman named Helen Shoemaker, who was the founder of the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer, and she'd written six or seven books on prayer. She was the widow of Sam Shoemaker who was a great evangelical preacher in our denomination.
And these women started to pray for me and for us. She didn't tell them what the specific problem was. She told them that I was in trouble and that the marriage was in trouble, and they started praying for us, and that's when things started to happen.
Bob: What happened?
Alan: Okay. One thing happened to her. One day she was sitting at the piano, just playing the piano, and she sensed God saying to her, "Give me Alan." And she said, "I can't do that," and she argued with God. She had really been in a pattern of always bailing me out of trouble; always coming to my rescue; always protecting me, and God was telling her not to do that anymore, and she felt God saying to her that "the only way Alan is going to get well is through pain, and every time he starts to feel pain, you interrupt."
And she said to God, she said, "God, nobody could love him like I do." And she heard herself say those words, and she sensed that He was showing her that she was playing God in my life. And so she released me to God. It didn't make a great noticeable difference that I was conscious of, but I think spiritually she released me to God.
And three, four weeks later, a fellow at work, another religious guy like I was religious but didn't know the Lord, and we didn't know we didn't know the Lord, stumbled on a prayer meeting in the basement of his church, and he got invited in there. It was a large, interdenominational prayer group, and to make a long story short, the second week he went to that meeting, he accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. He was born again.
Now, I was an Episcopalian, he was a Catholic, and that's the kind of thing that happened to Baptists. It didn't happen to sophisticated people like us. But he knew and I knew that a profound change had taken place in his life. He'd had a real encounter with God. He didn't know how to describe it. He says, "Everything is different. Colors are brighter, music is sweeter," and God's Word had come alive.
He did not know about my problem. I knew he had had a real encounter with God, and I knew that I could at that point somehow I – I was in a liturgical church, and I used to read the – or hear the beautiful words of our liturgy, and I used to think, "Man, I wonder if anybody ever really feels and thinks this way?"
And so I knew there was something there but, anyway, the Holy Spirit was at work. I knew that I could have an encounter with God, and I also knew that it would involve my homosexuality – either I would have to expose my secret life to my wife and the world or I would – He'd give me a little more strength, and I'd hold on with white knuckles and not act out.
I think any of your listeners who have dealt with addictive behavior know that you can hate that thing with all of your heart and mind and soul, but you don't think you can live without it. It's been your way of coping for so much of your life, and that's the way I was. But I was desperate enough, finally I had lunch with him one day and I said, "Jim, I want to go to the prayer meeting with you." I said, "But there is something you don't know about me," and I started to shake and almost cry in the company cafeteria, and he said, "Don't worry about it. Whatever it is, what God has for you is so much better than anything you can ask or imagine.
Alan: And at that moment, a peace came over me. That was the only kind of supernatural experience I had, but the – I just felt a great sense of peace. And so that night I went to the same prayer meeting with him. He still didn't know. Nobody knew about me, nobody was laying hands on me and praying for me. I did go out the door that night – and this is a strange thing – and I said to my wife, "Say goodbye to me, because you'll never see me again because the person who comes home will be a different person," and I don't know why I said that, because it just didn't fit my belief structure.
Dennis: You said that to your wife?
Alan: I said that to my wife, yeah.
Dennis: What did she say in return?
Alan: I don't remember. I was probably out the door by then, but I said that and, again, somehow the Holy Spirit was working. And I went to the meeting, and it was a pretty lively prayer meeting, a lot of worship and people praying out loud and sometime during that night I said, "God, I give up. My life is an utter mess. It's out of control. I can't handle it. You take over." And He did. That was my prayer, that was my sinner's prayer.
And I came home, lit up a cigarette, when I put it out I said, "That's the last cigarette I'll ever smoke," and it was, and I had quit more than any human being that ever lived. I still didn't know quite that anything had happened, but over the next two or three days I did. I'd fallen head over heels in love with my wife. I desired her physically. The desire for me sexually was gone. The fantasies were gone and perhaps most of important of all, I knew that God was real. I knew that Jesus was real, and that He loved me, and I was starting to love Him. And it was just an extraordinary healing.
I always need to add that this is not the norm for people coming out of homosexuality. For most it's a long, tough road, but for me God miraculously healed the sexual part of my homosexuality. We'll need to get into the other parts later, but it was an extraordinary thing. Of course, people did not believe it, and this won't last, and it's now lasted 27 years, so I think it's real.
Bob: You know, Dennis, Alan's journey was on the Concord. It was one of those instant – you leave and, all of a sudden, you're there. As he said, for a lot of folks it's a longer journey, but it starts at the same place.
Dennis: It does, and as Alan was sharing, I just couldn't help but think what a powerful Gospel, and I wish that every person who was tied up in any sin could experience the kind of instant liberation that you did.
But I was thinking of a couple of passages that the Apostle Paul penned under the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans, chapter 5, verse 6, he says, "For while we were still helpless" – you were really helpless – "While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man, though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."
And then again just a couple of chapters over in Romans, chapter 8, verse 1, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." The instant liberating forgiveness of sin and of our past and to know that we are forgiven by the God we have sinned against in heaven, that in itself is that instant trip you're talking about, Bob, that lets us know we now have peace with God through Jesus Christ, and it comes just by a simple sinner's prayer like you prayed, "Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner."
Bob: Mm-hm, and we have focused today on the sin of homosexuality, but the reality is that our lives are full of all kinds of sin, whether it's bitterness or gossip or envy or adultery or hatred. Every one of us stands at the same place, at the foot of the cross, in need of forgiveness. And it's not so much about what your particular manifestation of a sinful heart is, it's about the fact that our hearts are in rebellion against the God of the Universe.
And I want to encourage listeners who – well, they may share Alan's experience or they may have recognized that there is some other sin that has ensnared them. The journey begins at the same place – acknowledging to God that you are a sinner, and crying out to Him to save you, and He is faithful to hear that cry and to respond to those who genuinely seek Him.
And we've got a book that we have made available at no cost to any listener who is at that point. It's a book called "Pursuing God," and we have sent out thousands of copies of this book over the years to folks who have been listening to FamilyLife Today and God has been dealing with them in some way about the issue of their sin, and they have responded and said, "I recognize that I need to be forgiven, and I want to be in a right relationship with God."
If that's the case for you, call us at 1-800-FLTODAY and ask for a copy of the book, "Pursuing God." We'll send it out to you at no cost to you and with no obligation. Again, the toll-free number is 1-800-FLTODAY. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and we're happy to send it out to you at no cost and with no obligation.
Now, if you are interested in copies of the books that our guests have written, go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and there is information available there about the book, "Growth Into Manhood" by Alan Medinger, and the book, "An Ounce of Prevention" by Don Schmierer. Both books are available from us here at FamilyLife Today. Find the information online at FamilyLifeToday.com or, if it's easier, just call 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and ask for anything about how you can have these books sent to you.
Now, a quick word of thanks to those of you who not only listen to FamilyLife Today but who help provide the funding for this ministry. We're listener-supported, and when listeners like you either go online or call 1-800-FLTODAY and make a donation, you make it possible for FamilyLife Today to continue on this station and on other stations all across the country. You make it possible for our website to be up and running around the clock, you make it possible for a lot of the ministry of FamilyLife to happen, and we appreciate your support of the ministry, your partnership with us.
This month, if you are able to make a donation of any amount, we'd love to send you a thank you gift – two CDs that feature messages from Dennis and Barbara Rainey on the subject of manhood. Dennis talks to guys about what we can do as guys to step up and embrace biblical masculinity – live it out in our marriages and in our families.
And Barbara talks to wives about what a wife can do to help her husband be the man that God wants him to be. Again, these two CDs are our way of saying thank you to you when you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount.
If you're donating online, when you come to the keycode box on the donation form, type the word "manhood" into that box, and we'll know to send you these CDs or call 1-800-FLTODAY, make your donation over the phone, and ask for the manhood CDs from Dennis and Barbara Rainey, and let me say thanks in advance for your support of the ministry. We really do appreciate it.
Well, tomorrow we want to talk about something that is pretty politically incorrect. We want to talk about what parents can do to be alert to signs that a young man may be opening himself to homosexuality. And, of course, there are a lot of voices in the culture who would say, "Well, that's just natural for that boy." We're going to talk about that tomorrow, and I hope you can be with us for that conversation.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas – help for today; hope for tomorrow.