a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice. -Isaiah 42:3
I argued with myself for some time before deciding to write this post. As if my previous posts are tame and easily digestible, this one addresses issues that some find less than black and white. While we should all agree that sexual assault is wrong, we do not all agree that homosexuality, gender dysphoria, gender reidentification, bisexuality, or other terms used to describe sexuality and gender as points on a continuum are equally wrong. However, for the sake of my own sanity, and the journey that our family is walking, I decided this part of the story needed to be shared, too. My hope is to bring light into an area of shame the devil has held for far too long.
I posted here about sexual reactivity and its inevitable presence in abuse victims. I also leveled a charge against the modern church that we must stop vilifying our God-given sexuality if we are ever to effectively address the pain that sexual abuse victims endure as a result of sexual reactivity. It simply isn’t the overly-simplistic way a three-point sermon would have us understand it (1. sex inside of God’s blessing is good and always feels good 2. sex outside of God’s blessing is bad and always feels bad 3. no one experiencing sexual assault will ever enjoy the sensation or confuse numbers 1 and 2 above). However, lurking below the unspeakable truth of sexual reactivity is an equally important truth that I have never heard spoken of – ever.
The effects of childhood sexual abuse and sexual reactivity in victims causes enough confusion that even years later sexual orientation is overwhelmingly influenced – away from heterosexual identities.
As a caveat, I want it to be understood that perpetrators of sexual assault or pedophilia are not necessarily homosexual. The emotional, mental, and physical mechanics of grooming, and then perpetrating, sexual assault against a child is not based on healthy sexual satisfaction. It is also not based on homosexual or heterosexual identification. The men (and women) who assault children do so for power and the perverse stroke to their ego of manipulating a defenseless human being for their own lusts.
The logic isn’t really that difficult to follow. These children already believe something about them allowed, wanted, or even asked for the abuse. Therefore, something in them must have liked it. And when something in them does like it (physical sensations or even emotional ones, i.e. attention) the idea that they obviously allowed, wanted, or even asked for the abuse forms more concretely. At this point, boys and girls split in their respective reasons for moving towards homosexuality because the vast majority of perpetrators are male (either juvenile or adult), and their relationship to the victim differs based on gender.
For girls, especially immature, prepubescent ones whose sexual arousal may be more nuanced and physically complicated, the response to assault may lead to fear of men and estrangement from healthy identifiers as a feminine woman. Her sexual reactivity often includes compulsive masturbation and a dysfunctional emotional attachment to her perpetrator while simultaneously causing her to more broadly reject all other men as suitable lovers. The physical pain of intercourse during abuse can also lead to debilitating fear of mature, consensual heterosexual intercourse.
For boys, sexual arousal is a bit more straightforward and can be more easily achieved as a byproduct (even accidentally) of sexual assault. The ongoing association of arousal in connection with a same-sex perpetrator leads to a great deal of confusion in sexual identity. Added to this are our cultural and societal markers of a “real man,” which includes the debilitating lie that they are NEVER victims. Victims are weak and helpless. Victims are women.
This process easily gives way to a common outcome: these children are three times more likely to become same-sex oriented in their adult years. Girls may identify as lesbians in order to safeguard their broken hearts and bodies.For boys specifically, the data is even more shocking. Only 10% of boys growing up without sexual abuse become same-sex attracted in their adult life while 58% who did experience sexual abuse later identified as homosexual. Boys may identify as gay because of confusion surrounding their participation as a victim of same-sex abuse or because of early association of sexual arousal from a male perpetrator.
Whatever the reasons, the science is undeniable. Homosexuality can play a significant role in the fallout of childhood sexual assault. And even though there are so many studies to back up this research, rather than question the decision for a young man or young lady to begin exploring the idea of homosexuality, our culture wants to celebrate lock, stock, and barrel the courage of these young people to find themselves.
They are not finding themselves.
Choosing to embrace a form of sexual fulfillment that is contrary to God’s design instead of facing the pain and addressing the fears caused by abuse is not healthy. And our current society’s fascination with calling out this path as bravery undermines the possibility of recognizing the symptom as an indicator of a greater dysfunction. Think of it like this: if we started hailing sufferers of chronic migraines as heroes and sought to encourage them in their course of accepting and even glorifying their headaches, what would ever make them go to the doctor to find out what was causing them in the first place? Replace migraines with drug addiction if you have a penchant to use the “but it feels good and isn’t harming anyone” argument.
I fear for our children and this current trend. Even more, I dread the bitter maelstrom of vitriol that confronts me each time I try to address, with balance and diplomacy, the reality that homosexual tendencies can be related to early childhood sexual abuse and nothing more. I don’t understand why we can embrace Stockholm Syndrom as a psychological abnormality (recognizing that people under its influence make decisions contrary to their best interest because of the deep effect of their trauma on the brain’s ability to rationally employ thought), but we cannot accept that some homosexuality is directly related to perverse development of sexual identity during pivotal years in childhood and deserves the same kind of progressive treatment as other neuroses common to survivors of trauma.
And why, exactly, does all this matter to me?
Because Asher is struggling to understand whether he is bisexual, a girl with gender dysphoria, or homosexual, and the only thing JCF can do is allow him to change his name and personal pronoun. They can’t address the very real possibility that he is heterosexual with years of sexual abuse trauma and toxic shame coursing through his brain and twisting his perceptions of healthy and unhealthy – even though we all recognize that he is in JCF because that same trauma led to his decision of abusing his siblings.
Something nobody would celebrate as brave.