God did such a marvelous work in restoring our marriage that Diane and I felt compelled to go into ministry. It was our way of giving God thanks. We had to do something! 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (NIV). Our group is now called Simon Refuge. In total, we have been ministering to married couples impacted by homosexuality for 16 years. We will be celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary in September.
Most couples dealing with homosexuality in their marriage do so secretly. Diane and I totally understand the desire for secrecy, but shame fuels this feeling. Couples may deal with the shame of exposure even more so than single individuals with same-sex attractions; it’s usually because there are children involved. Some of the couples we’ve ministered to have also been very active in their church; some were missionaries. The wife often blames herself, believing the lie, “If I were slender and prettier, this betrayal wouldn’t have happened.” The husband, already feeling like a failure to God, feels like a failure as a husband and a father.
It’s important for couples to get involved in a community like Outpost so they can see that they are not alone. There are other couples walking the same road. Outpost can be a safe place to share their burden with others who understand. It’s important for couples to have other trusted, godly couples walk along side them, supporting them, encouraging them, during this most difficult of journeys. We encourage couples to talk honestly with trusted friends. Acceptance and encouragement make a huge impact. We also encourage them to serve in their church or community. When we get outside of ourselves and see the needs of others, being the hands and feet of Jesus, there is little time left for pity parties.
In Simon Refuge, one of the ways we assist couples is by encouraging them to work on healthy communication skills. Husbands and wives meet separately, and in each group, we ask them to share their feelings about themselves, their brokenness and their past wounds. Our hope is that they will eventually learn to share these things with their spouses and ask for forgiveness for the sins they’ve committed against each other. Forgiveness is a key issue. If a wife can’t forgive her husband, it breeds bitterness and resentment, and a wall builds up between the couple. It makes any restoration impossible.
We also help couples in establishing boundaries. The husband must set up clear boundaries to build up trust again with his wife. The wife must let God do His work in her husband and not try to fix him. This can be difficult after many years of marriage, as the wife has usually been in charge and may not want to give that up. A husband’s lack of leadership in the home will make him feel less of a man.
Sexual intimacy is another crucial issue. Shame keeps the husband from initiating; fear and anger keeps the wife from desiring it. Sexual union is God’s plan for marriage between one man and one woman. It’s an act of total vulnerability to the other. It tells the wife that her husband still desires her; it tells the husband that she still loves him.
We want the Body of Christ to know that couples dealing with homosexuality in their marriage are not a lost cause. Jesus is in the business of changing people’s lives, and he can change people’s marriages. Don’t underestimate the transforming power of Jesus Christ. There are hundreds of couples around the world who have let go of the scepter of homosexuality.
It is a thrill to see bitter, angry, shame-filled couples on the brink of divorce transform into joyful, peaceful people. It also gives us great joy when children are finally born into a once unfruitful marriage. I wish that more of these victorious couples had the courage to give thanks to Jesus by publicly proclaiming what He has done and is doing in their lives and marriages. What a powerful voice they would have to the world!
If you are secretly struggling in your marriage, you don’t have to go through this alone. There are others who are on the same path you are. Trust in Jesus. He will show you the way.