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Ryan's Story

from Dr. Merton Strommen

Date Unknown

I’m sharing this testimony, not so much to tell you about me and my trek out of homosexuality, but rather as a means of illustrating an encouragement that I believe God has for his people. My prayer and confidence is that he will use it to lift our hope, increase our faith and expand our vision of the freedom Jesus has for us, his people: Freedom like we’ve never imagined!

In the Beginning…

I was blessed by growing up in a pretty solid home. I am the firstborn of four sons and generally felt our home was secure and stable. However, in my life there were a couple of problems. One weakness in my family was the emotional distance of my dad. He worked long hours to provide materially for us, but was not very good at providing emotionally, especially in the early days when I was young. Being a sensitive child, I especially longed for that connection.

During my fifth and sixth year, I was sexually abused by some “friends of the family,” several years older than me. They exposed me to lots of pornography and then involved me in a variety of sexual activities. Needless to say this impacted me greatly, turning my need for a father’s love in a sexual direction, awakening a sex drive far earlier than God ever intended, as well as all the other issues that arise out of being misused by these people. Insecurities about my masculinity were planted and grew significantly during adolescence.

During high school I began to experiment sexually with guys, but it wasn’t until college that I put a name to my behavior: homosexuality. I didn’t want to be this way. I felt it was wrong. I tried to control it. I cried out to God, but I was stuck. I had always wanted to follow God and became a Christian when I was a senior in high school. I knew deep down that God could set me free, but how?

In the 70’s there was very little written about homosexuality and what was written mostly said, “Don’t do it!” It was not very helpful, but I took that advice and worked really hard with it. My definition of freedom dealt mostly with MY choices, MY obedience and MY self control. So I structured my life so that I would not walk out the homosexual desires growing in me. I did lots of things to “manage” my sin, but inside I was full of the deep hunger for love which had become twisted into lust and perversion. I was deeply addicted to pornography and masturbation and would regularly get involved in anonymous sexual encounters. I also periodically became emotionally dependent on some male friend. I finally realized that being a good “manager” wasn’t the path to the freedom Jesus had offered. I was still enslaved inside and that consistently spilled out into my behavior.

Then Came God…

I came to a place where I realized that freedom was not accomplished by my effort, it was in Christ! The more I gave up on me and depended on him and what he had already done through the cross, the more freedom I began to experience. He showed me that what I needed was not just more discipline, but a deeper relationship with him. The more I realized that he could meet my needs and went to him, the more I didn’t need the other things. Over the next few years he took me through a process that changed me deep inside. He placed a “father” in my life, a mentor who re-parented me, loved me unconditionally and fed me truth, life and affection. At one point, God took care of a significant demonic stronghold. Soon after he gave me a deep revelation of himself as my Father which totally changed the way I related to him. I now saw him as approachable and not out to get me when I failed.

During those years the addiction to pornography and masturbation lost its grip and the illicit sexual encounters became a thing of the past. In 1981, God put a wonderful woman in my life who became a good friend, and in 1983, after clear leading of the Lord, we were married! This was scary for me, but God was in it, and she has been such an incredible gift. She has been a perfect complement for me and has taught me much about intimacy.

Amazing Grace

In 1987 God began to speak to us about the awesomeness of his grace. His grace that forgave me, set me free and brought me into new life in Christ was also the amazing grace that enabled me to live the Christian life day by day! It is all because of him!! This gave me a greater confidence in Jesus and allowed me to go into even deeper issues in my life. One of the last remnants of the homosexuality that still seemed to get a hold on me from time to time was inappropriate emotional attachments I would make, sometimes with men, and sometimes with teens. These did not work themselves out into sexual activity, or even intense relationships, but the pull was still there, and it scared me. Gradually the Lord showed me that some of that pull is built in, that we are made to have caring relationships with others of the same sex. This encouraged me to develop some same-sex relationships, which are now a great joy. As I moved into these relationships, it became more clear where my affections had become twisted, and I was able to address those issues. This process, combined with an ever deepening and intimate relationship with God, has worked to fill those needs within my life, and I continue to grow in my walk of freedom.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

In 1991 God gave me a picture that has helped me understand this trek into freedom. While in prayer I saw a picture of a terraced farm on a mountainside. I was standing on a lower terrace, and Jesus was on an upper level. He reached down and pulled me up to this upper terrace, which I knew represented a new level of freedom for me. It was a joyous experience, but it didn’t stop there. Later during a church service, I saw Christ, and, standing with me on the terrace, he turned me around. I saw a huge plateau full of forests, fields, rivers and mountains! He took my hand and said, “Come! Let’s explore this freedom!” We went running and discovered more and more of this wonderful freedom he had for me. At a later date still, I had another picture. This time I was on the plateau and Christ came riding up on a white horse and said, “Now let’s really explore this freedom!” He swung me up behind him, and we went off riding with the wind across the plateau! It is indeed glorious freedom that Jesus has for his family - freedom like we’ve never imagined!