Commonly, in childhood our parents have the most influence on how we see ourselves, others & God for good & bad. In some men’s lives, other custodian/authority figures have a more significant impact. But emotional wounds come not just from people who love us, but also from others we seek to love. Our peers can have as much of an impact on us as our parents. God has set up specific responsibilities for parents, and it’s easy for parents with very good intentions to go very wrong in our corrupted culture. Far in contrast to ‘blaming’ our parents, we seek to help men find the true root of their wounds, and seek reconciliation when it is possible & beneficial, whether that is with parents, other childhood authority figures, peers, etc… Reconciling a relationship with a parent is always God-honoring, though not always humanly possible. Pretending problems didn’t happen does not lead to a Biblical model for reconciliation.
My experience is that the men have been traumatized already, yet taught, usually implicitly, that their wound was not a wound; that their feelings of sadness or anger were not acceptable; or that they should have appreciated the wound as ‘love’. Worse yet, a world ignorant of the details of our lives tells us that everything’s the same as for straight men. These lessons filter how we see everything, and the result is many of these men earnestly believe nothing traumatic has happened to them – yet that belief is just a mask for the trauma, and the emotional pain WILL come out, sideways if it has to. Besides, the origin of the word “reparative” in association with “Reparative Therapy” (which is contrasted to reparative therapy) is not that the therapy repairs, but that the same-sex attractions are themselves a “reparative drive”. In other words eSSA is a subconscious attempt to “repair”, and therefore, we treat it as an indicator of an underlying situation, not our primary focus.
Our over-eroticized culture has twisted many healthy expressions of same-sex affection, examples of which are replete throughout the Old and New Testaments. Men who primarily speak the love ‘language’ of “physical touch”, as described by Dr. Gary Chapman in The Five Love Languages, appear to be especially susceptible to extreme need deprivation in our shell-shocked culture. “Need fulfillment” is the practice of helping men get their legitimate, God-given needs for acceptance, affirmation and affection met in non-erotic ways. By having these needs met, it not only helps us feel ‘ok’ and accepted and good, but also “fills our love tank”. While these activities can be guided by a therapist, they are most beneficial when they happen in authentic relationships, with appropriate boundaries. There are only a handful of support groups vibrant enough to offer this kind of help in everyday-life, so it is a goal for Recently Straight to train Church members across the nation how to erase the cultural corruption and fulfill the God-given needs.
Richard Cohen provides some of the best descriptions of what healthy holding therapy looks like and why it is so helpful and necessary in his text, Coming Out Straight, linked to from our resources page.
Actually, science has observed the opposite. Take identical twins as an example. They have the same DNA, and were in the womb at the same time. Whatever affects one before birth generally affects the other. What affects them after birth, on the other hand, does not happen the same for the other. If genetics were the determining factor, the identical twin of someone who identifies as ‘gay’ should also identify as ‘gay’ 100% of the time. The actual number? 11%. Other studies have seen 9%. So the next question is why is that rate so high? After all, only 2-3% of men identify as ‘gay’, so why is the rate higher for twins? We do believe that increased emotional sensitivity may be a genetically-linked trait, and that increased emotional sensitivity makes it easier for someone to be emotional traumatized, but we don’t believe emotional sensitivity is unhealthy. In fact we believe just the opposite: many times formerly-SSA men make the best husbands and fathers, because they are much more attuned to the emotional needs of their wives and children, and after learning how to re-parent themselves to help their “inner-child” (the subconscious) heal his emotional wounds, they make great parents.