Last time on the adventures of Eugene, I talked about the first same-sex attracted (SSA) Christian man I met. Here’s the continuation of that story with Andre . . .

I had finally returned home to St. Louis after completing my out-of-state temp job for a year. I was sad it was over but glad to be home. My out-of-state friend, Andre, wanted to keep in touch, and occasionally we’d talk on the phone.

During one phone call, things took an unusual turn.

He confided that he’d started talking to a guy from a private Facebook group for men trying to overcome homosexuality. They’d started out on a Skype call together which had turned very sexual. He told me how deeply ashamed this call had made him, and he seemed to break on the phone.

“Am I still a virgin?” he asked. “I feel like I’ve lost my virginity after this. I’ve done something sexual with a guy, and I can’t take it back!”

While I’m not an expert on this issue, I assured him he was probably still a virgin. Sure, his session was a sexual act over a webcam that he shouldn’t have done, but no physical contact or intercourse had taken place.

Despite my best efforts, nothing seemed to calm him down very much.

“I just need to know if I still have innocence left! I want to know if I’m still innocent! I just need to know if I’m still a virgin. I have to know if I’m still a virgin!”

Now, I’ve also had similar experiences with sexual webcam sessions; while I’m not proud of them, I’ve been able to move on from them. I’ve made my peace with God about those things.

I never really felt like I’d lost my virginity from those sessions. I’ve definitely felt regret, but not to the point of my life feeling turned upside down.

As a Catholic, Andre held a higher value of virginity. However, I shared with some other Catholic friends about Andre, and even they were a little perplexed over his reaction and agreed he was probably still a virgin. Andre had indeed gone to confession, but for whatever reason it didn’t seem to make him feel better.

Nothing I told him calmed him down.

“I feel like I have PTSD from the whole experience. In some ways, I feel like that man raped me. Whenever I think back on it, I get tremors in my hands and I feel like I’m going to pass out. I just need to know if I’m still a virgin!”

That’s pretty much where every conversation led.

A little later, he talked to me about another incident. He’d gotten a professional massage at a massage stand in the mall. When the masseuse worked his way down to the glutes, the sensation caused Andre to orgasm.

But this situation caused Andre to realize that accidents happen, humbly accept God’s grace, and find forgiveness in himself — nah, I’m kidding.

“This was physical, and I think I might not be a virgin! I think the masseuse was trying to make me orgasm. I feel like I’ve been raped! I just need to know if I’m still a virgin!”

Yes, it was the same thing all over again. As frustrating as he was getting, I really tried my best to help him out. I tried to listen to his feelings and help him understand he was deserving of God’s love, virgin or not.

But it pretty much went around again in yet another circle. He called me so frequently . . .

Me: “Hey Andre, how are you doing?”

Andre: “Hey, man, I’ve been doing great. How are you?”

Me: “Oh fine, just chilling out for the evening here. What have you been up to?”

Andre: “Not much, work has been a bit busy–”

1:27 later...

Andre: “I JUST NEED TO KNOW IF I’M STILL A VIRGIN! PLEASE TELL ME I’M STILL A VIRGIN!”

I think you get the point.

It got to the point where I groaned whenever my phone rang and I saw the caller ID. Eventually, I stopped picking up; his calls were feeling like such wastes of time.

I’m not sure if Andre ever really got over those incidents, but his unwillingness to forgive himself spoke volumes.

I’ve since met some other “Side B” Christians (those holding to a traditional sexual ethic) who also have a hard time forgiving themselves for sexual failures.

But none to Andre’s degree. I haven’t spoken to him in about a year now.
Last we spoke, he thankfully didn’t have another freakout about his virginity. However, he did tell me he was hoping to pursue more therapy soon to fix his sexuality. Even though he was also attracted to women, he said that if he continued to be attracted to men then he “couldn’t live with himself.”

I’m still glad I met Andre, even despite his many phone-freakouts. He’s a genuinely nice and faithful guy who loves Jesus.

It was nice to meet such a person when I was going through a rough stretch in my life.

Meeting him was the tip of the iceberg as I soon met many other men through YOB and the greater “Side B” world, making me less scared to meet others.

The madness Andre expressed disturbed me yet also enlightened me about the many issues gay/SSA Christians experience. I pray that he has found grace for himself, wherever he is now.

Do you struggle to forgive yourself for sexual sins? Have you encountered others who have a difficult time forgiving themselves despite Jesus’ work on the cross?

  • Thanks Eugene for this post! Do I still struggle to forgive myself for sexual sins? Yes, I think this is just a part of being a Christian man. My SSA counselor is really helping me to put those sins into perspective, though. We are reading the book “Unwanted” by Jay Stringer about unwanted sexual desires and in one chapter he talks about how a guy who films sharks handles his fear of being eaten by one of these monsters. The cameraman says he does something counterintuitive, he swims at the shark instead of swimming away like prey and the shark retreats. Jay’s point is that we need to swim toward our unwanted past and desires in order to properly deal with them. As my mixed group of SSA and porn addicted men met online to discuss this chapter we were given an exercise by our counselor to list all the shameful incidents that had occurred in our lives (sexual or otherwise) and narrow that down to the one that gave us the most shame (I had 31 on my list alone). He asked us to share that one incident with the group using language that wouldn’t trigger anyone. Several of the men shared and it was a tough Zoom session. There were tears-shame can be a dagger in the heart of a man. But, it was a very good exercise all in all, because we were able to commend each man for his vulnerability and, in my case, I was able to put my sin on the altar of God and allow the blood of Jesus to cover it. “Confess your sins one to another that you might be healed”. No longer hidden, my sin doesn’t have any power in my life anymore. I would commend any man struggling with shame, like your friend Andre, to confess to a counselor, a wife, a friend, or group of other men to attack shame head on. Jesus wants us to live in wholeness, not in the throes of shame!

    • Thank you for sharing Michael! It sounds like that group was a very beneficial experience for you and I like the analogy of the sharks. In my case I often go to porn and whatnot mainly just out of the anxiety that I missed out on a lot in my earlier years. Mainly missing out on relationships and having a social life. But lately I’ve been talking with my counselor about my high school and college years and what exactly happened there that lead me to have a lonely life.

      • Eugene, thanks for the encouragement. I’m glad you have a counselor. For me, my counselor has been a Godsend and helped me to put some things together from my past that I wasn’t able to look at (trauma), and some abuse that occurred through my parents that I was unable to admit. God led me to just the perfect man (who also has SSA and has great victory) and he is helping me so much. I am thankful for you and YOB-you are helping me greatly!

  • Thanks so much for a timely post! I admit to being very vulnerable in this area.
    Back in the day, when I could travel, I wanted to visit all 50 states and each Canadian province. Well, I got to 49 states and Canada from Vancouver island to St. John’s, NF…almost all by train. I knew traveling alone had it’s challenges and I had to be careful. I remember so well being in a taxi and the driver spoke very kindly to me. I can’t recall his exact words, but he said I had an innocent look about me and there are some bad people out there who will harm you and he would not want me to get hurt. I appreciated his wise words.
    I struggled with trying to balance being friendly and wanting to have nice conversations with people vs. standoffish out of fear of things going sideways. But they did…in the course of traveling like in a taxi, at a hotel, or in a restaurant that left me shaking with anxiety. The hardest times were on trains – like with my sleeping car attendant once or a cafe car attendant. I understood they were lonely and they were people that Jesus died for also.
    Only once did I get angry with someone – who was sitting by me on a train. They were very, very aggressive and my firm “no” was met with laughs. They were waiting for me at the train station when the trip was finished and were insistent. I’m ashamed to say I ended up yelling at him, which is out of character for me. I felt like a terrible person afterwards and worse like I had failed God. Ironically, it was in that same trip, but later on I was staying at a kind of bed and breakfast and shared a table with a young guy at breakfast. Turns out he was gay too, but his kind words washed over my hurting heart. I will always believe God placed him there when I needed this so much.

    • To continue, I’ll share just one more story. I was in Canada and booked on a long trip which involved an overnight train to a connecting bus, then a steamship ferry and then the same bus to my destination. When I arrived in the town, I saw a taxi and started to walk over to it. What I hadn’t realized was a guy had been on the same trip and he had been watching me the whole time. I had seen him, but had paid no attention. But, it was then he pounced and told the taxi driver I was with him and I would not need a taxi. Everyone had left and I was standing alone. Fear gripped my life and I didn’t know what to do. He said he would take me. To make a long story short, he turned out to a super nice guy…very soft-spoken. I had a sense he was very lonely and wanted human contact. I deeply regret I missed an opportunity that day…I should have said let’s go out to dinner and talk, but I didn’t.
      I say all of this because in this season of life when I’ve been isolated for so long without much human contact, I find it a challenge to reach out out of concern that things will “head south” again. I don’t have a smart phone or Skype – I’m sure there are many places I could find live chat etc., but what to do…? God help me, I need it.

      • Thank you for sharing Dave! Just to be clear though, was that guy trying to get you to have sex with him? If that’s the case then I think you yelling at him was not an inappropriate action. If someone can’t get the hint and persists with such a thing then you gotta put the foot down. But its good that later on you connected with him and learned that he was deeply lonely which I can understand.

  • I think us folks that grew up in evangelical or fundy churches do worry and obsess more over sexual sins. In our church educations, we learn that sin is sin, but we also quietly learn that there is a pecking order, that some sins are more socially acceptable or obnoxious than other sins. Sexual sins are sins of the body and Paul does seem to think that they are different (I Cor 6:18-20), not worse, but different. I think this makes us worry that if we die, we will go to hell. Nothing could be further from the truth if we take the failure to God in prayer, but I have come to believe that’s the real issue…insecurity in our salvation.
    I have a friend that went through this and it was worse because he already had OCD. He was in fear of dying because of the current virus scare. After some discussion about his fear, he confessed that he thought if he died, he would go to hell. Further probing brought out something he had done sexually as a teenager. He is now middle aged. He finally had to be hospitalized for the OCD.
    Believers need to know that people do not go to hell for sin, sexual or otherwise. People go to hell because they do not believe in Jesus Christ or the power of His sacrifice.

    • Thank you for sharing Sergei! This has definitely not been my background as I guess I was raised in a more moderate background in regard to these issues so I appreciate your perspective. I agree, sexual sins are not worse they are just different. But I’m amazed some people interpret this as being beyond God’s grace.

  • Such a good post! Really love the way you tackled a topic that can be difficult for many. I appreciated the comic relief embedded in the post as well haha.
    I was just listening to a podcast today on purity culture, so this is timely. Andre’s inability to move past whether or not he is a virgin demonstrates well the damage purity culture can cause. Remaining sexually pure is an objective we should of course all pursue- trying to abstain from sexual sin and reserve sex for the confines of marriage. The problem is the way in which many have idolized the purity itself. We pursue the purity because of its relational impacts. First, keeping sex within marriage makes for a healthier marriage and more stable relationship. So obviously a potential marriage benefits from this. Second though is our relationship with Christ. Our ultimate end in all that we do must be Christ. We do not seek to remain sexually pure for purity’s sake itself, if we do then we are idolizing the purity and are sinning in doing so. We seek to abstain from sin because sin damages our relationship with Christ. Therefore, to remain sexually pure is good because it makes for a healthier, more stable relationship with Christ. It sounds to me like Andre had made an idol of virginity. Again, virginity is a virtuous thing worthy of pursuit, but idolizing it and making it the end goal rather than Christ is arguably as problematic as the sexual act itself.

    • Heya Aaron! Yeah I think you totally hit the nail on the head there. Thing is, some people who are critics of Side B say it promotes a culture of “self loathing and shame” amongst LGBTQ/SSA Christians. I’ve seen other SSA Christians in other groups who do have similar freak outs to Andre where they’re like “I looked at gay porn last night, aah I hate myself, I’m the worst sinner ever and God doesn’t love me!” I don’t think its the Side B theology its self, but like you said probably more rooted in their upbringing related to purity culture. I’ve met plenty of other Side B Christians who have had incredibly sexual histories who have forgiven themselves and been forgiven by God and simply have moved on. I’ve always been taught that when I sin I am to repent, be forgiven, and move on. It kind of boggles my mind on why some people seem to think its impossible for them to be forgiven. I think like you said its due to idolizing purity and virginity. It doesn’t help that in our culture there is the shameful double standards of if two men act out sexually together its the worst sin ever while if a straight man has premarital sex with a girl its brushed off as “boys will be boys.”

  • Eugene Heffron

    I’m a 30-something still trying to find my way in the world. Lover of all things creative, I am a drawer with an intuitive mind while also a deep thinker. I can be a person of extreme opposites: one moment a lone wolf, the next a social butterfly; one moment joyful and optimistic, yet sad and melancholic the next. As I came to terms with my SSA I met fellow SSA Christians and formed deep, intimate bonds. I’ve always longed for brotherhood and, at last, I have found it after years of social isolation. I am glad to be part of this community of bloggers and share my stories and struggles, joys and sorrows, dreams and longings.

    See All Posts
    >