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13November2018

Intimacy4us

When hubby comes out of the closet...

He’s the love of your life, your best friend and the father of your children... and one evening between brushing teeth and bedtime, he drops the bomb: “I am gay.”

Braam and Lize have been married for six years. They have two beautiful daughters and seem to be a happy family. Or so Lize thought. A month ago Braam admitted to Lize that he was homosexual. Lize didn’t believe it at first, but now that she has accepted it she’s sitting with a problem. “I love him, I don’t want to get divorced”, she recently told a friend. “But how do I stay married to a homosexual man?”

A cupboard is for clothes
The arrival of Pieter Cillier’s book, a cupboard is for clothes (1997) created a huge debate regarding homosexuality that he didn’t expect. The book is his true life story where Pieter tells of the loneliness and frustration of a God fearing, homosexual man in South Africa. As a result of the large reaction to the first book that discusses the struggle within the church and wider community, Pieter wrote Search and it was published recently. With this the discussion in the church was fired up again.

What is homosexuality?
“The first thing that a person must understand is that homosexuality is not forming bitterness towards the opposite sex, but the ability to form this bitterness within specific boundaries,” says Erik Carsten from the H2O church at Moreleta Park church in Pretoria. H2O aims to support homosexual people and their families. “These words come from the biography from Rupert Everett (still a gay man today) where he also makes the statement that his most fulfilling sexual relationship was with a woman. His relationship lasted two years.”

Timothy Kieswetter, Intimacy4Us co worker and Bible and sexuality expert explains that you have to be careful when forming a definition regarding homosexuality. “Homosexuality does not involve only a sexual attraction towards the same sex, but rather how an individual sees themselves. Am I gay or not? Do I want to be gay? Homosexuality’s a lifestyle decision, a choice of identity, of who I want to be.”

Closer to home
When you get to deal with homosexuality directly, the topic gets to be more sensitive. Pieter describes a feeling of desperateness in letters from married men who got married because the church thought it was the solution to their ‘problem’.” He also received two letters from homosexual ministers who got married and experienced that their wives and children suffered from it.

“I repeatedly got to do with cases where a life partner found that their partner was homosexual,” says Professor Marius Nel, at the Bible study school and Ancient languages at the University of the North West and Pastor at AGS Taberna Dei. “It destroys. There are always feelings of reject and low self esteem when you find out that you partner was involved in another sexual relationship, but when that somebody’s the same sex, the emotions go so much deeper and intense. It sometimes even happens that people commit suicide because they can’t accept the fact that their life partner has chosen somebody of the same sex above them. It destroys!”

Erik explains that in his practise he sees many women who feel powerless and inadequate when their husbands admit their homosexuality. “Most women do however admit that they had an inkling or knew, but are still angry because they thought they had fixed him. Feelings of failure and living a lie also come about. Some women feel revengeful and tell their friends and family to hurt their husband. Some even go so far as to tell his employer.”

Why do they marry?
“People who are homosexual and then marry someone of the opposite sex have most likely not made peace with their sexual orientation,” says Prof Marius. “Marriage then opens their eyes to the fact that they are truly attracted to people of the same sex as them. When they divorce, they make the decision to give in to their natural sexual orientation. The alternative that applies to the believer is to bow before God and to give him their personal sexual orientation as an offering and to continue with their marriage.”

According to Prof Marius it also happens that the marriage continues for the sake of comfort and peace. “For some couples sex is not important and if they are content with the way things stand, and then there is no reason why they can’t continue with the marriage. Problems arise, when only one partner shows no interest in the sexual side of marriage and the other feels rejected. Marriages are however as diverse as people.”

Erik explains that in earlier years people would get married at a younger age for social acceptance and that it still happens in some cases. “There’re also women that think they will be able to fix him, I have seen this often. Couples also get married because they fear getting old alone, because both would like to have children and because they get carried along by the fairy tale of marriage. Pressure from family and friends also play a role, also ignorance from the man or woman. They believe it’s a phase that will go away.”

Where to now?
“When a woman finds out her man is homosexual, she must realize that it’s not as a result of what she has done, but that it’s her husband’s unique challenges,” says Timothy. “She can be there for him and be his helper, seeing as the man’s sexual challenges are in most cases not a reflection on the woman.”

Frans Cronje the founder of Lamb Ministries, talks from experience, seeing as he was himself as a young man caught in homosexuality and pornography addiction. He has firsthand experience on how difficult it’s to walk away from this. “A woman must realize that she didn’t cause her husband’s homosexuality, but that it was present before they even met each other. A marriage can’t make it come into existence and that he’s not rejecting her specifically.”

Prof Marius believes (and has seen it too) that any marriage can work when two people give the control of their lives over to God. “This applies to people who have had homosexual relationships, show true remorse and asked for forgiveness. If the other partner is willing, the marriage can then continue.”

He explains that just like an alcoholic, the person with a homosexual orientation must be prepared to at all times resist the temptation and live a transparent life with their life partner. ”I have seen in my practise that people who claim to be gay, can incorporate their belief into their daily lives so that they can in obedience to God also live out their sexual orientation.”

“Every one of us has areas in our lives where we struggle with sinful habits,” says Prof Marius. “We can overcome it only with God’s grace and a transparency before other people. It applies to people to have a desire to watch pornography, people who shop compulsively to feel better, as well as people who have a sexual preference for the same sex partner. God’s grace is big enough to keep anyone who has tendencies to sin on the right road.”

What are the signs?
Timothy explains that you mustn’t stare blindly against society’s stereotype of gay and straight. “Society says that if you act a certain way, look a certain way and like a certain person, then you are homosexual or not. The problem is everyone’s sexuality is unique to him, the same as with personalities.”

Pay attention to the following (these are only an indicator and must be judged in context. Don’t get upset if your husband and his best friend give each other a hug, but pay attention to signs that make you feel uncomfortable):

  • Unusual non-verbal communication with other men, like touching, a hug or intimate wink.
  • Owning homosexual pornography (magazines, DVD’s and photo’s on his computer). It can also be that he regularly watches it on his computer and then erases it.
  • The sexual intimacy between couples drops drastically after the first few years of marriage and you struggle to stimulate him sexually. (It can however also be a medical condition and then other problems are created in the marriage.)
  • Regular visits with another man or a group of guy friends who are very familiar with your man, while you are never invited to go with.
  • Anonymous phone calls from other men that he tries to hide.
  • Receiving personal and intimate gifts from other men.
  • Extreme homosexual behaviour – an overreaction when the subject of homosexuality is mentioned.
  • Abnormally high amounts of homosexual friends or a homosexual best friend.

God gives us the patience to wait on the work that He wants to do in our partners lives. He also gives us the ability to forgive and to love those who’ve hurt us. When you see your circumstances through his perspective, it’s easier to realize that anything’s possible for Him, also releasing homosexuality from your marriage.

Sources
Book: someone I love is gay: How family & friends can respond. Anita Worthen & Bob Davies (1996)

Ministries that can help
•    Lamb Ministries. E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
•    H2O- Ministries. Contact number: 012 997 0021

People’s names were changed for fear of victimisation

With thanks to Anke Brand for her contribution to this article.