Growth in to Manhood, Chapter 1

Alan Medinger is the founder of Regeneration, an “ex-gay” ministry in Baltimore, MD. His story is compelling and can be found here. He has a solid 25 years of healing experience and full-on knowledge of what God can and will do for those who struggle with same-gendered attraction — if they want to pursue the hard work of healing. His book Growth in to Manhood was published in 2000 as both a manual of “how to” and a testimony of what God did in his life.

My husband and I are working through this book one chapter at a time (it’s that good and simultaneously heavy — he needs time to process it); this is the review of the first chapter.

Medinger talks about the journey from boyhood to manhood and sets the premise that boys who didn’t receive tutelage on the journey and who were unable to complete it will face challenges in their understanding of “what it means to be a man” as an adult. He tacitly pulls in Freud’s idea of fixation and “getting stuck” and simultaneously Erik Erikson’s theory that stages of development that aren’t completed successfully will cause problems in the future without so much as mentioning these developmental theories.

He posits that most (if not all) men who struggle with SGA or outright homosexual acting-out (adopting a gay lifestyle) got off the road to manhood at some point in their childhood-development and that this stunted developmental level left legitimate needs unmet that haunt the individual until they are fully dealt with. These unmet needs don’t always manifest themselves as homosexual identity or SGA, sometimes they pop out as an immature heterosexual man. Regardless, they do affect a man’s progression in to maturity and manhood.

Medinger makes the point (excellent as it is) that the needs we’re talking about generally are *not* sexual needs, but needs for relationship, for coaching, for teaching (and learning), but that as the individual grows, it becomes incredibly easy for these needs to be eroticized. Which is where the SGA and gay acting-out often come in to play. The need to be held and nurtured is a legitimate need that God places in all individuals and when it goes unmet, it can come out in ways that lead the individual to take leave of common sense and make incredibly risky choices — all in a desire to meet those needs erotically. The compunction to meet those needs should not be dismissed; it’s a core drive that most men and women cannot adequately express without a willingness to look at their situations and admit that there is a gaping wound in the middle of their existences — one that needs to be healed and one that stunts their development, both spiritually and emotionally.

Medinger makes the point that as these core needs are met and the wounds are healed, that most men (for the sake of the book, he doesn’t deal much with women who struggle with SGA) find themselves in a place where they are able to understand what it means to be a man and to conform to the expectations that society, the Church, and their families place upon them — and to meet those challenges successfully, head-on.

So how does that apply to our situation? Only in about a million ways. My husband has long-felt that he was inadequate to be what he was supposed to be — a man. Not in the typical “low self esteem”-sort of way, but in a deeper, more core way. That he was never taught *how* to be a man and that he lacks skills that other men seem to have grasped effortlessly along the way. The fact is that he was never taught and these other men were taught. And yet that realization never occurred to him — he never gave himself the benefit of the doubt to realize that his “deficit” wasn’t of his own making or choosing and that, given the opportunity, he could learn new things.

My husband, like Medinger, got off the path to manhood relatively early in life. Why? Hearkening back to his early childhood, he had a father who simply wasn’t there emotionally, physically, or relationally. His father preferred to play baseball and watch television and be utterly uninvolved in his family’s life. His mother tried to make up for what his father didn’t do, but like most parents in that position, there are just some things the opposite-gendered parent cannot do. A mother cannot impart masculine traits and learning to her son, as she cannot teach what she does not possess. And so the stage was set for my husband to struggle with these things.

I’m thankful for Medinger’s book and his willingness to share his struggle and help lead others out of a similar challenge. The first chapter makes me want to read more, which is the sign of a good book.

His and his,

This entry was posted on 090818H Nov 2008 and is filed under Forgiveness, Growth in to Manhood (reviews), Path to Healing, Sexual Brokenness, SSA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

  • Who Am I

    I have been following your blog up to here and so much appreciate your authenticity.

    I wanted to compliment you on the way that you have been striving to love your husband, and be healed yourself. Awesome.