Will you take the time to be a mentor for someone struggling with same sex attraction
Fathers and Brothers
by Alan Medinger of Regeneration (ex-gay ministry)
In the world it is referred to as “father hunger,” an empty place in the hearts of many men who never experienced effective fathering. For them there was no man to pour into them those things that a boy needs; no father to guide them in manliness, no man to model manhood for them, to teach them how to relate to women, to affirm their own manhood. At the least, such men are left with an uncertainty as to how they should live their lives as men. At worst, they lead their lives in destructive ways.
With women who deal with homosexuality, the dynamics are quite different, but the negative impact of fatherlessness is still there. Many of them were hurt by men, sometimes their fathers, often not, but defensively they cut themselves off from men – including their fathers.
Cut off from their fathers, they were unable to see men as offering security. More likely, they saw them as a threat. Also, where the father relationship was broken, the woman never felt affirmed in her womanhood by her father. She missed out on an essential part of growing to joyfully accept her femininity. Unable to see the beautiful complementarity between men and women, she grew up with a distorted view of both.
I propose that a remedy to this problem of fatherlessness can be found in an “older brother.” In this context, an older brother is a Christian man – who might be older or younger – who can fill us in some of those places left by our lack of fathers.
I see two primary elements that qualify a man to be an older brother.
First, he must be manly. He must have in him a solid core of manhood that makes his actions and his words of encouragement, acceptance and affirmation ring with masculine authority. This is a difficult thing to describe – I took a couple of chapters to do it in my book – but it is his unquestioned manhood that makes us glad to receive what he has to offer, even if it is words of admonition or correction.
Second, he must like us. We can’t be his “project.” There needs to be a genuine friendship between you and him. You like him and he likes you. His liking to be with you and his manliness will combine to provide strong affirmation even when no words of affirmation are spoken.
Contrast this with the search that many strugglers have sought to find a “daddy.” Their desire is for someone who will be there for them all the time. For men, pursuing a daddy has a tendency to cast them perpetually in a little-boy role. So many of our men talk of feeling like little boys in the company of men, not what they want or need.
In a brother relationship, on the other hand, there is mutuality. He is there for us in some circumstances and we are there for him in others, but he has his own life apart from us. Recognizing this and allowing for it, we avoid the possessiveness that can easily shipwreck a friendship.
There can be no sexual tension in the relationship. Although the older brother is almost always going to be attractive in some way – or he isn’t someone we would want to be friends with – that attraction must not be sexualized. Fortunately, we find that most of our men (in our ex-gay ministry) discover that when they get to know a man well, sexual attraction usually fades from the picture.
Thus far, I have addressed older brothers only for men. I don’t have the personal experience to back it up, but I believe that an older brother can play an important part in the life of a woman from a lesbian background. When men have been a threat or a source of pain in a woman’s past, a first step in moving towards an openness to and appreciation for manhood can come from a relationship with an older brother. Taking place in the Christian community, with both parties openly acknowledging the nature of the relationship, and certainly with the wife’s consent if there is one, this could provide a safe and healing experience for the woman.
Where do we find older brothers? An active life in the church and in the world is most apt to uncover them. There is a good chance; however, that there already are men in your life who can play this role. Sometimes it only requires that you open your eyes to relationships that you already have with men. Just as someone can be starving because he doesn’t recognize that the “brick” lying nearby is really a loaf of bread, often we are in relationships that can bless us in ways that we never imagined. I am not saying, take a friend and make him into an older brother. I am saying that he may already be in that role, but you need to be conscious of it, to savor it, and to ask God to let that relationship fill in some of the empty places in you. Then, as you expect it, it may happen.