|Robert Oscar Lopez|
These issues matter to all people, not just ex-gays. But they do have a particular relevance for an ex-gay man trying to maintain his successful life change.
A major factor in becoming ex-gay is the decision to leave behind an identity based on your own desires and gratifications, in favor of an identity based on what you do to fulfill the desires of a woman. I would like to speak for a lot of ex-gays when I say, when we were gay, we spent our time constantly in our own heads, analyzing what we wanted or what pleased or excited us. The self-enclosure that came with such claustrophobia made us miserable.
Your gay identity dooms you to be trapped in yourself. By defining yourself by what will please your genitals, you can never find meaningful relationships with others, because you never reach the point where you surrender your selfhood in the all-consuming love of another person. That kind of celestial love entails wanting the other to feel delight and ecstasy, wanting it so badly that you want your whole body to be put in service to her.
It must be a "her" because if we think as a servant for a higher purpose, we must see that our bodies are called to serve where we are actually needed. A woman needs the male body to be filled and pleasured, so as long as there are women longing for the pleasures of a man, a man has no right to class himself as gay and deny himself. God created us, as men, to bring happiness and sexual fulfillment to women using our body parts which are uniquely gifted to pleasure females.
The successful ex-gay becomes straight not out of a revulsion at what gayness was for him (though often repentance plays an important role), but rather out of enthusiasm and eagerness to serve women. I can only speak for myself, that my first experience with a woman changed my life largely because I realized how wonderful it was to be with someone whose body drew so much pleasure from mine.
So "service" is a crucial concept in ex-gay life. Giving up a self-serving heart in favor of a servant's spirit is the only path to a successful ex-gay life. And unless an ex-gay can find the beauty and happiness in service, he will forever be backsliding and going back to his old gay self where he made decisions based on what would make his genitals feel good.
The role of service and discipleship in all stages
Just as a reminder, in the Ruthless Truth series I laid out five stages in the journey from gay to straight. This brief video explains:
The five stages were (1) understanding heterosexuality, (2) leaving homosexuality, (3) clearing oneself for dating, (4) dating, and (5) sexual consummation after marriage.
At each of these stages, service can play a helpful role even if it is not yet the form of serving the delights of a chosen female partner. At every step, whatever you can do to serve others will help the larger goal of leaving behind a self-serving mindset in favor of a service-driven mindset. If your whole spirit has a servant's spirit, your sexual self will be ready at stages 4 and 5 to embody a servant's spirit for someone else.
When you engage in service, you bring multiple benefits to yourself. You keep yourself busy so you do not fall into habitual masturbation and pornography. You circulate in the world and get to befriend straight men and find out where single women are available. You also can become closer to God and feel His hand boosting you. Think of some of these forms of service:
1. Discipleship. Young men in the western world are sexually broken and lost. I have realized in doing this blogging work that most young men are not taught about sex by their fathers. They learn empty pragmatics from school about wearing condoms, and unrealistic delusions from porn, and that is it. Many may have had multiple sexual experiences with women and never even learned how properly to arouse a female so she can enjoy sex. They find fleeting encounters with girls they meet online and use alcohol or drugs to ply them for noncommittal sex.
You can change that at different steps. Even if you are in the early journey from gay to straight and do not have a lot to teach young men about sex with women, you may have a lot of experience already in the gay world that you can share and help young men with.
Having gone through the gay world, you had the experience of passing through a place where many people were hurting and confused. This is universal experience you can share. It will help young straight men understand how they can get through their own confusion. And it will help young gay men find greater morale to avoid gay life or get out of it.
You can find young people to disciple in many places, ranging from your church to family friends and people in the neighborhood. To protect yourself you do not want to take young men anywhere that might lead to accusations that you were abusing them, but you can get them guest passes at your gym and play sports with them in a public setting. You can also tutor them if they are struggling in school. Generally you do not have to talk about anything serious until young men bring up what is bothering them. This experience will also help you listen. Often the young men who disciple have sexual experience with women and can teach you about what you will face once you progress through your journey and lose your own virginity, if you are at an early stage in this journey.
2. Teaching a Bible study
If you have been a member of your church for a number of years, you might want to ask the pastor how to lead a Bible study or prayer group. This will require that you gather lesson plans and prepare weekly study guides. All of this is healthy for you.
3. Soup kitchens or food pantries
There may be local community organizations that collect and dispense food to the needy. Look around and see which ones could use volunteers. Even if it is only a few hours a week, you can get to know people from all walks of life, both the clients and volunteers.
You would be in your right to get paid for this one! But it is amazing how much help babysitting is to people in a community. Often tired couples rarely get to go out and see a movie together or do anything fun. If you offer to babysit you can make it possible for some to find relaxation while you acquaint yourself gradually to the joys of children.
5. Bearing witness
It is free to start a blog and you would be surprised how many people read blogs. I was shocked when I realized that people all around the world I never met read English Manif. For many years the blog stats were meaningless numbers to me, but I began being recognized by strangers in cities in different countries, and found people knew my work. Your witness as an ex-gay man is so incredibly needed. Right now the lies that the LGBT movement propagates have many young people believing that they have no choice but to degrade themselves with anal sex because they will become suicidal if they resist a gay identity. Every person who can share a counternarrative to that helps people avoid that pitfall. One of the highest joys of my life was when I met a young man who had been reading my blog, and he introduced me to his wife. Blogging can be scary and the risks are high, but this is part of your servant's heart if you do it well.
6. Church ministries
Depending on the size of your church, there are likely many ways that you can contribute to community service. You may do evangelism or partner with local authorities to help with caring for parks, etc. There is so much work done at church ministries, all good.
Through your church or larger denominations you may have the opportunity to travel abroad and do a mission. This can be a life-changing experience and might help you learn about new languages and cultures.
If you know of a professional or tradesperson who does work you really admire--for instance, a doctor, lawyer, or scholar--you might be able to volunteer and work in their office for free. I did this when I was young and it was a fantastic experience. This builds up your resume and might win you a referral for schooling or a job later. The good thing about this is if you see someone doing something noble for profit, often the profit is not exactly stellar, but the person is not getting tax breaks or incentives that go to charities. Your free labor can help them in ways that might really allow their work to flourish more.
9. Reading groups
Depending on what your political passions are, you can be of great service sometimes just by gathering likeminded people and organizing a reading group. It is not that hard to find such common-interest people through social media and the like; all you have to do is recruit as few as three or four people and set up regular times to meet. It nourishes the thoughts and knowledge of others while enriching you as well. And if you are working toward a common cause this is good. Sometimes if you start a reading group you can pair this with a Facebook group or online room.
Whatever your greatest political passion is, there is likely a political campaign that could use your help. A lot of political volunteer work is raising money but don't think this is useless; without funds, no political movement can proceed anywhere. You may want to look at local news stories and see who is quoted as an activist. Visit the activist group's meetings and see if there is anything you can contribute.