Gay & Bitter
For reasons that I am only now beginning to understand, most of the first half of my life and certainly my youth was spent in a state of bitterness. What does it mean to be bitter? How would we even define bitterness? One dictionary definition that I read pretty much sums it up I think. It says that bitterness is characterized by intense antagonism or hostility. In a large measure that sums up my teenage years. I also believe that it was the source of most of my suicidal thoughts, of which there were many, and actually a few suicide attempts mixed in.
So what was I bitter about or bitter toward? Well I know that I was angry at my dad for dying and leaving me feeling stranded as a boy. I also know that I was very bitter and angry with God and outright hostile toward Him because He allowed my dad to die. “How DARE you do this to me,” I used to yell to Him with my fist raised in the air in defiance and anger. I know what I'm talking about when I assert that it is very difficult to worship the most holy God in one breath and curse Him in the next breath. It can lead to feelings of intense bitterness toward God, and a huge amount of self-destructive thoughts and tendencies. It is impossible to honor and glorify God and curse Him at the same time!
Maybe I'm generalizing, but I do believe that a guy being homosexual and bitterness are not that unrelated, mainly because at least in my case, and based on my own personal experience, I felt that I was being shortchanged in life by God. And that made me very bitter towards Him and towards myself and everyone around me.
I recently heard a message about bitterness and the five undesirable qualities that you nearly always find in bitter people.
Bitter people always justify their bitterness. It is the fault of others that they are bitter. It is that they have been shortchanged and in many cases ostracized by others that makes them bitter towards others and of course toward the God who made them.
Bitter people are always overly critical. You can never do anything that meets their requirements. They are never satisfied with anyone's effort no matter how real, genuine, or benevolent. They are always thinking of themselves and how much better they are than everyone else. Such thoughts feed their bitterness and even amplify it, making it even more of a quality that is undesirable in them. Because people do not generally like to be around people who are overly critical and bitter, they are avoided by others which, amazingly enough, makes them even more bitter! It is a very vicious cycle which can lead to severe depression, antisocial behavior and worse.
Bitter people celebrate other people's misfortunes. They are often happy when bad things happen to other people. In large part that is because they feel they have been shortchanged and so it makes them happy when they see others suffer calamity because to them, those people deserve it by being inferior in some way. Or they are jealous of people who may not be bitter and may have a life that they are jealous of. If there is one thing a bitter person cannot stand, it's being around a genuinely happy person. When negative things happen to those people, bitter people rejoice because they feel like those folks are getting their just desserts. Do you know of anyone that you like to be around because they celebrate the misfortune of others? Me neither!
Bitter people famously write off entire people groups. They will write off the entire races of people or people with certain disabilities or characteristics or annoying habits or whatever. It seems that high schools have a lot of different people groups that bitter students love to put down as inferior to themselves. Maybe harassment, bullying, and bitterness are somehow related in the high school context. Bitter people lump entire groups of people together whether it be dozens, millions or billions of people into the same group and think that they are losers and certainly inferior to the bitter person who's making that analysis. How pitiful and sad that is! How self-destructive to the bitter person that is as well.
Bitter people can rarely see their own bitterness, and on those rare occasions where they might, it is always justified and there is always a suitable excuse given for that bitterness. It very rarely works to point out the bitterness of an individual, and often it will make you a target of their caustic bitterness and ridicule. So most individuals leave bitter people to their own devices realizing that they are wasting their time trying to get through to them.
In my early struggles as a homosexual teenager, I struggled a lot with bitterness and many of the above undesirable qualities were found in me. I look back at myself at that time and wonder how any human being in their right mind could possibly be a friend or someone that wanted to be around such a bitter person. In fact I did have very few friends, whether straight or gay, and I counted it as being because I was defective or homosexual rather than because I was bitter. I was so bitter at times that I couldn't even see my own bitterness! That estrangement from friends and companions often led to my desire to end my own life and I was completely blinded to the truth of my situation.
The thing that I did not realize well then, that I understand much better now, was that bitterness towards any people group or individual will make a relationship with God impossible. I believe it is impossible to be bitter towards other individuals or people groups and have a loving and worshipful relationship with Jesus Christ. No, in fact I KNOW it! I have never personally seen someone hateful and bitter towards people and yet maintain a true and real relationship with Jesus Christ (based on their words and deeds) and would be amazed if any human could achieve that. But since that is impossible, I know that I will never see it happen. However there are many people who are bitter towards others and fool themselves into thinking they have a relationship with God or Jesus Christ; they are merely deluding themselves and setting themselves up for a huge let down when they stand before the great throne some day. Will these bitter self-deluded people be the ones Jesus mentions in Matthew 7:23 (“Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'”)? Something to think about.
Someone who is struggling with bitterness can do three things with that bitterness.
They can hold that bitterness inside. Doing it can lead to self-destruction in an amazingly short amount of time. Many times they cannot forgive others for the wrongs that may have actually been done toward them. So in many cases they hold the bitterness inside of themselves and it works like a cancer to eventually destroy them from within. In some cases, perhaps these are the people who go on shooting sprees when the bitterness finally overcomes them and they totally lose their grip on reality. Sadly, I think that for some homosexuals this attempt to hold the bitterness inside can lead to suicide. I certainly do not believe that homosexual suicides are necessarily always related to bitterness, but do think that in some cases bitterness can be a contributing factor to a homosexual killing himself.
They can let that bitterness come out in their lives. These are the people who often times will take the five undesirable qualities of bitter people named above and actually let these be seen by all, and may actually be proud to be publicly bitter and put down other individuals and people groups in order to prop themselves up. In some twisted way, they may actually claim that they are proud to be bitter. They almost always will claim that they are justified in that. Because of the bitterness that is so obvious in their life for all to see, these guys may be actually more susceptible to suicide because people in general will avoid them like the plague. And actually, who could blame people for avoiding such persons?
They can dig up their bitterness and face it head-on and deal with it in a mature and effective manner. I believe by far the easiest way to deal with bitterness is with that magic word that makes most of us uncomfortable when we hear it, forgiveness. When you are bitter towards a person or people group it is very difficult to forgive them whether or not they are actually guilty of doing anything to you individually. A person who deals with bitterness and forgives and puts aside that bitterness through the miracle of forgiveness can start on the road to amazing healing in his life. Once an individual starts down the road of forgiveness, amazingly enough a genuine relationship with God and Jesus Christ is now possible if that forgiveness of others is genuine. Of course in my case where I had bitterness towards God, it wasn't that I needed to forgive God, for He had done nothing wrong, but I needed to acknowledge to God and to me that God was not guilty and it was my selfish attitudes that had led to the bitterness and blame of God for the problems that I faced. So no, you cannot really forgive God, since God can never do anything that requires forgiveness, but you can work through the bitterness that set you apart from Him by forgiving the humans around you who may or may not be worthy of forgiveness. You can also work on realizing that God had a greater plan in mind when he allowed you to face the struggles; as you have read elsewhere on this website most of that involves bringing glory to God's name and to the name and person of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 4:32 says “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” And Jesus says in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Don't overlook that very key verse! Again, this is further evidence that if you harbor bitterness and do not forgive others, you cannot have a true and eternal relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
So it seems that forgiveness is a huge part of addressing bitterness and putting it to rest once and for all. So how can one address bitterness in an effective way that kills it off forever? First of all, you can acknowledge the bitterness that you harbor. Realize that it is there and that it is real and that is not going to go away by itself. I have to admit from personal experience that acknowledging bitterness when I was experiencing much bitterness within me was something that just did not happen that easily. Again, if I did realize that I was bitter, it was justified bitterness and therefore okay, at least in my twisted yet incorrect view of things.
The second thing that you can do to address bitterness is to forgive and release the offender or offenders that contributed to or caused the bitterness that you hold inside. Again, if you are bitter towards God, forgiveness of Him is not possible, but you can acknowledge that He is the Lord of your life and acknowledge that He has his reasons, which most likely are not known to you, for allowing you to experience what you have experienced thus far in your life. If an individual has offended you and contributed to your bitterness, it is very difficult to release him or her and to achieve forgiveness of the person especially if they feel they have not wronged your or do not desire your forgiveness.
Remember that when Jesus went to the cross for us, it was a huge act of forgiveness of the human race even though none of us had actually asked for forgiveness; even today millions of people walk around all self righteous and not thankful for the forgiveness that they have been given through the blood of Christ. How ungrateful is that! Go back and read that verse from Ephesians 4:32 listed above if there is any doubt in your mind about your need to forgive in order to address bitterness that is keeping your relationship with Jesus Christ from becoming real and everlasting. I will mention this until I am blue in the face, but bitterness towards others will destroy any potential relationship you might have with God or His Holy Son. And the last thing you want to hear come out of Jesus's mouth when you're standing before His throne on judgment day is, "who are you?"
I certainly am not claiming that all homosexuals are bitter. I can only look to my own experience and my own life to see how my bitterness nearly led to my death on a number of occasions. But based on the five undesirable qualities of bitter people I listed above, I believe that while homosexuals do not corner the market on bitterness, there is a lot of bitterness in the struggle with one's homosexuality. That's been my personal experience, at least. Your mileage may vary.
If you struggle with thoughts of suicide, perhaps examining your life for signs of bitterness might be revealing to you. The good news is that if you can address the bitterness in your life, as I have struggled to do although not always with 100% success, life can be a lot more tolerable and of course your relationship with Jesus Christ can be infinitely better since...well, do I need to repeat it yet again about bitterness and a true relationship with God?
My personal opinion based on my own life is that bitterness does not cause homosexuality, but in many cases is a unfortunate by-product of that. And bitterness, if not addressed and dealt with, can lead to disastrous consequences, both in this life and the next, for the person who is bitter, whether straight or gay.
You will never see this advertised by a pharmaceutical company, but perhaps the strongest drug in the entire universe is forgiveness (no, it's not an actual product, it is the act of forgiveness!). It is safe, effective, very inexpensive, and can have lifelong consequences that are very desirable. It is the one “drug” that I hope is very addicting. And unlike almost anything you can buy at a drugstore, whether by prescription or over-the-counter, forgiveness can tremendously improve your relationship with Jesus Christ today, tomorrow, and forever. And the only side effects that it exhibits is a better relationship with God, the other human beings on this planet, and with yourself as well.
So my prescription for bitterness is to take your bitterness before the Cross of Christ, lift it up to Him to help you address and remove it, pray for wisdom and forgiveness from the King of Kings, take two large helpings of forgiveness toward others (whether they deserve forgiveness or not—I know, that's a tough one!) and get a good night's sleep. And of course call Jesus in the morning to bless His Holy Name!
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