by Phil Hobizal, Founder of Portland Fellowship
Portland Fellowship is a sister ministry of Mid-Valley Fellowship in Portland, Oregon. Those who seek out Portland Fellowship have been wounded by past hurts and taken captive by the desire to fulfill unmet needs for love and affirmation through (unwanted) same-sex desires and relationships. Portland Fellowship seeks to help equip men and women to walk in freedom from these desires as transformation takes place. In this article, originally published in Portland Fellowship’s newsletter, founder Phil Hobizal unpacks the curriculum that Portland Fellowship created, Taking Back Ground, that is used in ministries across the country and around the world, including Mid-Valley Fellowship. This is the first of a multi-part series.
Taking Back Ground: Section One
• A Call to Leave: The Journey Begins
• The Roots of Homosexuality: Part 1
• The Roots of Homosexuality: Part 2
• Our Relational Nature
• Defensiveness and Detachment
• The Scriptures and Homosexuality
• Transformation: From the Inside Out
Portland Fellowship was established to provide a safe environment for women and men struggling with same-sex attractions who found those desires in conflict with their faith in God. It was never our intent to try and persuade persons to become straight. Instead, we’ve had an open-handed approach of allowing individuals to be led by their biblical convictions: “If you need us, we’re here for you.”
The Taking Back Ground series was developed to provide a vehicle for God to bring change in the lives of like-mind Christ followers who want to be free of unwanted sexual desires and behaviors. And with some thought, we laid out a two-year curriculum that seeks to address topics related to sexual and relational issues. It’s not perfect, but over the years, TBG has allowed many men and women the opportunity to walk in a newness of life not defined by sexual identity or desire. We affirm that God has created each of us for a purpose, and TBG’s goal is to have each individual become that true authentic person which God intended them to be.
Section 1 of TBG covers the subject of “Understanding Homosexuality”. We begin with a parallel comparison to God’s work through Moses to free the children of Israel from slavery. At the heart of the story is God’s desire for His people. This is vital to understanding the journey we are embarking on. God loves us so much that He is unwilling to share our affection, and wants to bring us to a place of peace, belonging and fulfillment. For all believers, no matter the struggle, it is God who works in us through the Holy Spirit to bring about change.
Over the years, there have been many theories as to the cause of same-sex attraction: Is it biology or psychology? Nurture or nature? We take a look at the most common assertions to get a better understanding of the origins of this desire. To date, no single cause has been found to support a biological reason that fits everyone with same-sex attraction. There is, however, strong evidence of emotional and psychology contributing factors.
Identifying these “roots” is helpful, but it’s not our aim to find a cause-and-effect that leads to “fixing” the problem. Understanding should only lead us to seek God’s help to think and act differently.
At the heart of the matter, for all believers, is understanding and obeying God’s Word. Knowing what the Bible says about homosexuality is important. Yet, seeing the bigger picture of what He intended for sexuality as a whole brings into perspective the need for us to walk in purity before God. He made us male and female, and speaks of sexuality within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman. We are called to surrender our desires to fall in line with God’s intent.
Same-sex struggles are more a relational problem than a physical one. We identify a relational “same-sex deficit” that seeks “repair” through emotional and physical means. Unhealthy relating can lead us to idolizing others and become enslaved to their approval. Wounds that have occurred through relationships with family and friends may need healing. Rather than detach from the hurt, we position ourselves to allow God to work restoration and healing.
This opening section of TBG lays a foundation for the good things God will do in the lives of our participants. For many, just having the chance to open up about thoughts, feeling and actions in an environment of grace helps lift the shame they may have lived under. And we’ve experienced over the years God’s willingness to be right there with us.
Struggling with Sexual Wholeness?