The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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I had a thought go passed my head, making me think I was gay or bisexual and I know I'm not. But it seemed to be because I thought of myself being a girl and ... yeah ... anyway, too deep. Well, I'm trying to block all of those thoughts. Will God forgive me? I need to know because I know He hates homosexuals, but I know I'm not a homosexual; I've just been though stuff. Never touched a guy, though I had thoughts. Please, I know maybe you don't understand fully, but I don't want be a sinner. I need help. I don't want go to hell. And, yeah, please write back.

Marty (age 17)

I'll do my best to answer your questions, but this is another case where talking one-on-one would make the discussion a whole lot easier.

It may seem strange, but it is estimated that about half of all teenage boys go through a phase where they have thoughts of homosexual attraction. I usually avoid recommending sites that contain denominational doctrine, but so that you see that you are just going through a phase, I would like you to read the information on Homosexuality in the site Boys Under Attack. You'll find the information there eye opening. Also read some of the personal stories and notice how many admit they went through a phase of being attracted to males. As Paul said, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man" (I Corinthians 10:13).

The reason is buried in the way we learn as human beings. When you are faced with something brand new, you have a hard time dealing with it because you have no past experience. The brain responds afterwards by opening up a large number of pathways to all sorts of possibilities. Psychologists call this blossoming. As an example, when a dog frightens a small child, he will go through a period of time when he is afraid of everything that moves on four legs. It usually doesn't last long because blossoming is followed by a pruning cycle. With repeated experience the brain sees that some connections are unused or just plain wrong and they fade away. So the child is afraid of all four footed animals, then only animals of a certain size, then only animals of a certain color, then only dogs, before eventually settling on the fact that only a few dogs are truly scary. Experiences that follow pathways already made strengthen the connections and make them longer lasting.

When you developed the ability to have sex, your brain didn't know when it was appropriate to respond. Connections were made to all sorts of things. Remember the period of time when your penis acted like it had a mind of its own, getting erect at the strangest times? That was a part of the blossoming process. Your response to those erections -- embarrassment and the like -- helped the brain weed out the wrong connections.

The problem is that Satan, wanting to trap people in sin, uses our bodies against us. Not that he can take control of a person, but he uses temptations to lead us down the wrong paths. "Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren" (James 1:13-16). Temptation is when you are placed in a situation where something looks appealing to do, but doing it would break a law of God. Satan uses our own desires as the basis on which to build his temptations. The teenage years are times of severe temptations because of the lack of experience and because our developing minds have too many connections to possible sexual desire.

The point of all this is: thoughts of forbidden sexual relationships are common. If the thought wasn't there, Satan would have nothing to latch his temptations upon. Having fleeting thoughts of wondering what homosexuality is like is no different that having fleeting thoughts about having sex with a girl you see walking down the street. Both ideas are equally wrong. The sin of fornication (sex outside of marriage) is just as wrong as the sin of homosexuality. It is not whether the thought of illicit sex of some form ever occurs to you, but your response to those thoughts. If you react in a negative way to thoughts which could lead to sinful action, your brain will start pruning those pathways. But if you keep considering it, mulling it over, and wondering if there is a possibility, then you end up reinforcing those pathways. Thus in the later case you make Satan's job easier in tempting you to sin.

You and I can't stop Satan from throwing temptations in front of us. But we can choose how we are going to react to those temptations. "Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (II Timothy 2:22). When wrongful thoughts creep into our minds, we should not only reject them, but Paul hints that we should purposely choose to focus our minds on something righteous. In other words, break the cycle of bad thoughts by replacing them with good thoughts. When a thought of illicit sex enters the mind, take a moment to pray to God about a sick friend, open your Bible to continue your reading through it, start planning an unexpected good deed for another person, and the like. Satan will continue to try to find a crack in your armor, but if you keep reinforcing it, his job becomes more and more difficult. Do as Job, "I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?" (Job 31:1). This would equally apply to illicit sexual interest in men as well.