Monday, August 24, 2009

"They Don't Like The Confusion"

Hey everyone! It has been an incredibly long time, hasn't it? It feels that way, at least. I've been very busy with lots of RA training (yes, they do put us through way more than I think is necessary), moving the little Freshmen in (can you believe that I was one of those three years ago?), and getting back to class. I have a lot of tough courses this year but I'm going to try to blog at the beginning of each week if I can. I have a lot on my mind these days.

I recently came across this interview with Stephen Daldry, acclaimed director of such films as The Hours and The Reader. Daldry has an interesting life story and perspective (frankly, any moderately creative person does, which is why I'm a fan of reading biographies). Although previously in relationships with men, he has been married to a woman -- his best friend and fellow artist Lucy Sexton -- for the past eight years, and also has children with her. The interviewer asked about this situation and this following exchange occurred:

How long have you and Lucy been married? I ask.

"About eight years," he says.

Because you decided you wanted kids?

"Yeah," he says, and pauses only slightly before adding, "Well, you know, I mean: I'm gay."

There is no hedging with Daldry. He recently explained that yes, he does have sex with his wife, but if anyone asks, he always says he's gay because it's easier and people prefer it. "They don't like the confusion," he shrugs.

How does his wife feel about being married to a gay man? I ask.

"You'd have to ask her," he says. "But do you know what I honestly think? I think one of the great things about our marriage is, we're never going to get a divorce, and we don't have to worry about infidelity. To marry your best friend is one of the great gifts of life, and to have kids with your best friend is fantastic."

I found that to be a very unique and refreshing take on sexual identity and practice. There were some parallels, I found, with the stories of ex-gay individuals. Granted, the context is entirely different. As far as I know, Daldry never sought chastity to conform to a religious faith and sexual ethic, nor is he setting up his heterosexual marriage as an ideal that all people should shoot for -- as many ex-gays tend to do towards gay Christians (celibate or active). At the same time who -- after many years -- eventually fell in love and married a woman.

Of course, many people would just call Daldry bisexual, even though he labels himself as "gay." Just as many people would call me "gay" even though I have no intention to ever have sex with a man (and, to be fair, I really have no problem with the term "gay" being used to describe me). I've found that there is often quite a distinction between how sexuality is clinically defined and how it is defined by individuals. Yes, I think there are true homosexuals and true heterosexuals -- people who are attracted to the same sex and the opposite sex, respectively. I also believe there are true bisexuals -- people who are attracted to both sexes. But I've found that when one adds the factors of behavior and identity, then things become very complex. A person like Daldry might clinically be considered bisexual, but leads a heterosexual lifestyle, and identifies as gay.

The question, then, is are we okay with this? I'll admit I'm often very particular about labels. If I had my way, everyone would use the literal, clinical labels to describe their sexuality, and if they had any quirks (like celibacy) they could it explain it on their own afterward. I certainly think that those labels are something that shouldn't be shied away from. Identify as heterosexual or ex-gay all you want for religious reasons, but let's say you were going to take part in a clinical study that mapped the brainwaves of gay, straight, and bisexual men. I would expect you to describe yourself by the actual literal form of your attractions, not just what you think they should be. Otherwise, you'd mess up the study. That's just how I roll, at least. However, some people simply would protest to my insistence, and Stephen Daldry shows that they aren't just "confused ex-gays."

In fact, it's becoming more and more acceptable, it seems, to identify has something other than your clinical attractions. Even among my most liberal professors, some of whom are gay and lesbian themselves, LGBT students are referred to as "those who identify as _____." This implies that actual attractions or behaviors are less important than identity, and an individual's self-identification is most important. And some, like writer Camille Paglia, hate to identify at all. But this sort of postmodern approach to identity or definition is likely to only be found among academics. Most people would look at Stephen Daldry and say he's a bisexual who is currently married to a woman, while they would look at me and call me a celibate gay man.

Perhaps it is mainly the clinical bisexuals who get to play around with identity so much. Most heterosexuals wouldn't think of calling themselves anything else, nor would most homosexuals (unless they felt their faith required them to pick a new word regardless of whether or not their attractions changed one iota). This can make things rather confusing when it comes to expectations of change in the ex-gay world. If a person like Daldry can fall in love with a woman later in life simply due to sexual fluidity (and with no religious motivation), then is it really proper for married ex-gays who have experienced orientation change to credit God? Could it be possible that they were simply clinical bisexuals (whether they called themselves that or not)? This isn't meant to doubt the experiences of those who have experienced sexual fluidity at all. At the same time, it would stand to reason that it would be slightly irritating if a guy was preaching the benefits of orientation change to a 6 on the Kinsey Scale when the real cause of his "change" was bisexuality, not something that reveals anything about his spiritual state.

I'm sure this post rambled a bit, but I suppose that's what happens when one thinks about the complexities of human sexuality.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

or... perhaps the fact that this guy Daldry is able to life the heterosexual lifestyle, without and religious compulsion, shows that that's God's intention for all of us anyway... and that anyone who does consider him or herself a sexual minority does so as a result of a series of events that are best descibed by Dr. Julie Harren Hamilton in her video at www.homosexuality101.com

food for thought

Jay said...

I don't think that's what I was trying to get at. I mean, Daldry isn't really living a heterosexual lifestyle. No heterosexual man calls himself "gay" as Daldry does. Daldry is still attracted to men. He is also attracted to his wife and faithful to her. Since he's attracted to both sexes, I would say that he's bisexual in the literal sense.

He is also supportive of those who are actively gay and has no religious or moral problems with that, and has been in such relationships before. Therefore, I would say that he's living a bisexual lifestyle (contrary to popular belief, being bisexual has nothing to do with polyamory).

Therefore, I would say that he also considers himself a sexual minority. He is one. So is an ex-gay man or woman. There isn't a single ex-gay I've ever come across who would describe their attractions as 100% heterosexual (which would be the sexual majority). Regardless of what they call themselves, if they have residual feelings towards the same sex, they are gay or bisexual by the strict definition. I certainly respect their right to label themselves however they want, but that doesn't mean we get to be too lenient with what the actual definitions of words are.

As for Dr. Herren Hamilton, I think over the course of my blog I've criticized reparative drive theory quite a bit. I simply know too many people (myself included) who don't fit that model. Obviously, sexuality is complex, and some people might fit that mold nicely, but to say that most homosexual or bisexual persons have a background like that is a little irresponsible. I would point you to Dr. Warren Throckmorton (linked under the links section of my blog) to learn more about that issue.

Obviously, I don't think active homosexuality is right for anyone, which is why I'm celibate. I don't think heterosexual marriage is meant for everyone, though, since God sets aside many for celibacy, according to Scripture.

Thank you for your input. In the future, please use a name instead of "Anonymous." It's part of my comment policy and it helps me keep track of the different commenters during conversations. Take care!

Brandon said...

I agree that people can make things rather confusing. Despite what people would like to identify as, I think honesty probably is best. If you're attracted to the opposite sex you're straight (or heterosexual), if you're attracted to the same sex you're gay (or homosexual), and if you like either sex you're bisexual.

If a person is going to define themselves, they should just pick whichever of the three options is valid. Anything else is besides the point, or can be added (such as "I'm gay, but celibate because of my religious beliefs"). And to say you're straight only because it's what you want to be, that's just dumb if it really isn't true.

Anyway, good points you bring up here. :)

Natural Substance said...

I agree with Jay and Brandon. I also think that the more people try to lose labels, the more labels get attached. Instead of homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual, and asexual now, there's gender queer, transvestite, gay, lesbian, bi, other, etc. and etc. I get so confused and outdated by the lingo that I pretty much stick with Jay's theory: stick to the clinical terms. It's just less confusing. At least that's my take on it right now.

James said...

His story is very interesting and it's always nice to see more labels being torn down in a way which does not reinforce homophobia or self-loathing.

I appreciate that Steven Daldry is only talking about his own experience, but I do pause, slightly, at the part about how he is married to his best friend, because I think of the idea many people have which is fed by shows like Will & Grace, that gay men would have an easier time if only they would settle down with their female friend. It's not that I don't think in some cases you can have sex with your best female friend, have a relationship with her, and be happy with her, but I think that 9 times out of 10, this will end badly.

Have you read about Jackie Clune? She was a lesbian until her mid-30s, when she decided to try dating men. She fell in love with a man and has since married him and had twins with him.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackie_Clune

She wrote an interesting article about her transition and the reaction lesbians had.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2003/jun/14/comedy.artsfeatures

There's also Tom Robinson, who wrote the song Glad to be Gay, and then by the mid-80s settled down with a woman and had a family with her.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Robinson

I notice that this seems much more accepted in the UK than here. Perhaps because fewer celebrities are out in the US in the first place.

Dave said...

Personally, I find self-identifying a futile process. The only one that can truly "name" something is the one who created them. Even our own parents are limited in how much they can give to our identities. I find my own search for identity satisfied in being a child of God, and labels of a sexual nature or otherwise far less satisfying.

Jeff S. said...

Jay, I always enjoy and appreciate your blog. This is a good one to think on. I've leaned much more towards your position in recent years than I used to. As I've blogged about myself before and the Kinsey scale, I've said that I would put myself at a 4 or 5, and had even identified myself as a 6 for a period of time. I think I usually said a 4 or 5 to make it more satisfying for my desire to "change". In reality, today, I would probably say I was a 6 all along, but just never wanted to own up to it. Emotionally and spiritually I did desire to be with a woman and marry, but in various phases I also longed to be with a guy but was never able to accept that direction spiritually, as much as I desired it secretly. I lived in fear of ramifications of fully coming out.

As you know, like Daldry, I was once intimate with men, but eventaully I decided to marry and have kids. My wife first became my best friend, I shared about my same sex attraction with her when we were just dating casually. I thought then that the attraction to men would fade in time. It didn't, but I have remained faithful to my wife, we share sexual intimacy, and we have a wonderful life together with our two kids. I seek to build good quality male friendships and try to model to the (sometimes homophobic) body of Christ what that can look like (e.g. David and Jonathan or Jesus and the beloved disciple).

So what is my label? Spiritually I would say I'm a "new creation in Christ." Clinically? Argh. When I was 21 I came out as "gay" for a brief period. When I first discovered Exodus I took on the term "ex-gay" for a epriod fo time but never liked it or felt comfortable with. More recently I started to say that I "struggle with same sex attraction", but I've grown to not like the term "struggle". So what is it? Am I a "gay man in a mixed-orientation marriage" as I've started to hear that phrase used by some? Still not comfortable taking on the gay label either, although I am accepting of it as people use it to simply describe same sex attraction. I'll continue to think on it. Thanks for provoking my thoughts on this again.

Erik said...

I am currently reading a book in which self-identification is a major theme and how difficult it can become when sexuality is so fluid for many people.

Here is my question - can a person identify themselves a vegetarian if they occasionally eat a hamburger?

Or is self-identification meaningless?

I think what matters is what you DO, not what you SAY or FEEL.

A person can self-identify as a Christian and even be baptized, but if they worship another god then they are an idolator and a covenant breaker and not a true Christian even if they FEEL like a Christian and go to church on Sundays.

I think actions, not words, identify us.

You will know who and what a person is by their fruit.

Jay said...

Brandon and Natural Substance: Even though I do agree that the "clinical" terms should be used, I also do respect people who want to use terms such as "queer" or "ex-gay," so long as they are clear about where their attractions actually are.

Dave: I agree that labels aren't really that big of a deal in the long run. I'm the same person no matter what I'm called or call myself. Labels are mainly a method people use to communicate, and when it comes to complex issues such as sexuality, effective communication is a very important thing.

Jeff S.: I totally understand your discomfort with identifying as "gay." I think my main concern is that, if you were to enter into the kind of psychological study that I mentioned in the post, would you enter as a homosexual, heterosexual, or bisexual? I mean, you often use the Kinsey Scale, which is a clinical assessment of your attractions, and personally I think that's great. It's honest and clear about your attractions, but you also let everyone know about your life together with your wife.

Erik: I think if a person eats meat, then no, he isn't a vegetarian (unless he is being forced to eat meat, or is only eating meat because there is nothing else around -- which would be analogous to homosexual behavior among people in single-sex environments).

I do think that behaviors are most important for the Christian. At the same time, feelings are important when it comes to studying homosexuality as a whole, and some people might have to be content with the fact that, scientifically, they will be identified as bisexual or homosexual based on their feelings, regardless of their opinions about the behaviors.

larkspur said...

This is my first time to comment on your blog. So here goes...and I will think aloud --

How is this man able to remain faithful to his wife without the Holy Spirit aiding him and so many Christians who are gay end up cheating on their spouses and/or leaving them?

I tried to make a 20 year "marriage" work and was not successful, divorced, then believed that God had someone else for me, specifically, if I would just go the distance with "change".

The angst I experienced was the worst in my life; trying to be straight and not having the wherewithal to drop the gay fantasies. (I'll avoid the "performance" topic, not because Christians shouldn't be able to discuss it, but because it would lead to perhaps unnecessary graphics. And, as a first time commentor, I don't want to come across as too blunt.)

But, seriously, after 4 years of intense searching, reading, researching, studying, (of the causes and remediations of homosexuality -- including but not limited to ex-gay ministries), praying, surrenduring, you name it -- everything but having actual sex with my spouse to be (fantasy yes, but I defer to the above comment I made), I ain't straight.

So, what does this guy know that I don't? Yeah, I'm nearly 50, so I don't have raging hormones that I wake up with, deal with all day, and end my day with. But...I do have the Spirit of God and had an intense desire to do God's will which I believe involved a heterosexual partner after my change or healing. Here's a guy who admits he is still attracted to guys and has only his own self control to rely on. What gives?

BTW, I had a dilly of a time finding "ex-gays" who were celibate over a broad expanse of time or married and had been faithful for the duration of their marriages. Christian, like me. Yes, I can (and have) "fallen in love" with both genders; I find beauty and attractiveness in both -- but really only experience sexual attractiveness for one.

I'm rambling. I like this post. There are many important questions and answers that I don't see Christians addressing.

But then, maybe we really don't know how to address any of it if we're honest. It remains in the category of mystery.

I would like an answer though for the faithfullness issue. That's a biggie and kept me from walking down the aisle. At least for now.

Jeff S. said...

Jay, yeah, interesting question. Based on my experience, I would probably enter a clinical study as bisexual. Does a 5 on the Kinsey scale count as bisexual? Hmmm. Even if I just think about and might be attracted to guys and not other women, I still desire to be intimate with my wife. It feels rather unique, but I know other guys like me who have gotten married and have similar experience, where there is no attraction to other women besides their wife, while the attraction to guys remains.

Jay said...

James: Sorry I missed your comment earlier. Those are interesting stories, and it's also interesting that you bring up the UK. I do imagine that sexuality is seen as a little more "free" there, but I can't say for sure. Thanks for dropping by!

Larkspur: For starters, I can't be certain that Daldry is faithful to his wife. He says he is, but it's not like he'd go out and admit infidelity to a newspaper reporter. Secondly, I don't think that one has to have the Holy Spirit in order to do good things -- it's called common grace. A man being faithful to his wife is a good thing, just like a man giving to the poor is a good thing, but those works don't say anything about his spiritual state.

Besides, Daldry says he is attracted to and loves his wife, just like any straight man would. I imagine being intimate and faithful to her is easy if that happens. He might still be attracted to men but it doesn't take an act of God to be loyal to the woman you vowed to love forever.

I have never been married, never been in a relationship with a woman, and I'm only 21. There's only so much I can say to someone who's had the experiences you have. You might want to talk to Jeff, the commenter below you. He is happily married and faithful, and closer to your age. Plus, he has a great blog! Thanks for stopping by.

Jeff S.: Well, come to think of it, using the Kinsey Scale would be more accurate than simply saying "straight, gay, or bi?" I would consider anything but a 0 or a 6 bisexual, but I'm not sure researchers look at things that way (which is probably why they'd use the Kinsey Scale). According to Wikipedia, 1-5 on the scale represents "varying bisexual responses."

And, frankly, I think the ability to love your wife is what mainly matters here, and it's encouraging to hear that you do. :)

Lead_Worshiper said...

Larkspur: Do we follow Christ so that we will be faithful to our spouses? That seems terribly utilitarian. The Gospel DOES come to us and the Spirit enables fidelity, but the claim that an unregenerate man (assuming that Daldry is for the purposes of this discussion) can't be faithful to his wife seems misguided at best.

Jay: Thanks for the great post. I wonder what Alan Chambers would do with this.

donsands said...

"..and we don't have to worry about infidelity."

Many have said this, only to fall.

I know how weak the flesh is. And I also know my spirit is willing, only "for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Tim. 1:7).

The greatest prayer we can pray for one another is to have a heart that loves Christ Jesus, and is honest about Him as our first love. And to live by faith, which is trusting Christ completely to grant us His grace which is sufficient. Always knowing, if we are genuinely, and authentically, a new creation in Christ; one who loves Christ and His truth, and even rejoices in the truth, then we shall hate sin, our sin, and love righteousness.

The other difficult part of the Christian walk is that we will never have a day, nor hour, when we don't struggle with sin:

"For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do (Gal. 5:17).

I thank the Lord for awkward posts like your's Jay. Keep up posted bro.
Christians, and non-Christians alike need to use our brains.

Saul said...

The problem with the Kinsey (or any similar) scale is that it's one dimensional. That is, it puts all sexual attractions into one box.

There are those of us with different types of attractions, such as Jeff mentions. On the 'general attraction' scale Jeff may be a 5, but on the 'wife attraction' scale he may be a 2.

And there are probably different scales for different people. I am attracted to women, but in a different way than I am to men. They are both sexual attractions, but different kinds. The attraction to men is instinctive, but suppressed. My attraction to women may be more learned - I don't know. I don't have to work at it or anything, it just happens, but it is qualitatively different.

I think our religious views have an impact on our attractions. I suppose this is what the therapists call motivation.

I suppress my homosexual attractions so well that I've never even had physical manifestations of these attractions. I think I subconsciously egg on my heterosexual attraction, but then on the other hand suppress them when they move into the realm of thought.

A married to a woman with whom he is not that compatible one day finds his perfect match. Does he divorce and marry his perfect match? If he does not, probably one reason is that he actually suppresses his attraction to the new woman, perhaps to the point of never consciously recognizing her. His morality has affected his attractions.

Jeff S. said...

Larkspur, I'd be happy to communicate with you anytime. Look me up on my blog at http://carleton1958.xanga.com/

larkspur said...

Hey All,

Thanks for your remarks; a few more here. Let's see if I can state things as I think I want to :-)

No, we don't follow Christ *in order* to be faithful to our spouse, not cheat on our tax forms, not lie, etc... But...I don't see the contradiction or even the lack of logic in saying that following Christ or having His Spirit indwell me gives me a power to do those things (or not do those things) that I might not have otherwise.

Without finally yielding to Him, I might still be a porn addict (which is something that many -- regardless of sexual orientation struggle with -- no big surprise). The indwelling power comes from Him, but I'm not going to test it by going to the wrong places, either. However, regardless of my choices, my sexual orientation remains the same regardless of what I do or don't do.

Now, after saying all of that, yeah, I still do find it amazing that there are so many Christian men and women who are gay who return to gay relationships -- whether married or single. I just don't believe that all of these people were lax in their commitment to Christ.

I know that I wasn't.
That is what I believe that people have such trouble with when folks say that things have changed and then, practically they haven't.

Jay, you're right: the man could be lying about his fidelity for good PR. But, my main question is not how to explain when a man or woman who is an unbeliever happens to be able to remain faithful to his/her spouse. Personally, I think it's great; a little amazing when you consider how strong the sex drive is, but, O.K., I'll go with it happening.

It's the infidelity among Christians who are gay which is so pronounced. Put simply, if a straight sex relationship could have satisfied me, I would have stayed with that. I had every reason to: God ordaining that kind of relationship Biblically, approval of society, family, friends (remember I am nearly 50 - grin), etc... maybe concern about salvation (though I'm pretty much on the side of eternal security). But the pluses were real and tangible.

But, like so many gay Christians, it just is not enough. And I hate to put it that way; maybe that it is just not real in the same way a gay relationship is for a gay person. The testimonies that I read and were acquainted with usually were about a spouse's faithfullness in forgiving or someone who had a revolving door experience over a period of years and God's forgiveness in that. Ongoing faithfullness or fidelity...not so much.
I'm not saying that such testimonies don't exist, but I do think they are exceedingly rare.

Knowing what I know today, I would not have married at age 22 as I did. I wanted to do right in God's eyes and like most human beings on this planet, I didn't want to be alone. Plus, I did want some form of sexual relationship. The reasons I know.

But age wouldn't and hasn't changed any of that as far as what I am left with or where I have ended up -- IOW I don't have any real additional options than I had back then, just lowered hormones. My ex won't speak with me, but I live with God's promise that someday when we are both in Heaven, that there will be complete redemption and forgiveness. I take great peace in that.

So, if someone wants to tackle the question as to why gay Christian men and women who are serious in their commitment to Christ have such trouble with heterosexual marriages as in remaining faithful (and I am including fantasy life in that), I would like to hear your thoughts. But, something beyond the basic, "we are all fallen", please. It just doesn't explain the whole picture.

Jay said...

But...I don't see the contradiction or even the lack of logic in saying that following Christ or having His Spirit indwell me gives me a power to do those things (or not do those things) that I might not have otherwise.

No, there is no contradiction there. However, just because Christ gives you the power to do good doesn't mean that non-believers can't do good. In your original comment, you made it sound like every non-believer is unfaithful to his or her spouse, which just doesn't make sense. I think that's what me and some other commenters wanted to address.

In terms of your question, I really don't know. I've been able to be celibate and it has been difficult, but I've managed. I know other men who are celibate as well, and who have been at it a lot longer. I would imagine if they can live solitary (but fulfilled) lives and do so faithfully, then they would also be able to maintain a heterosexual marriage if a woman they loved came along.

I also know several other married ex-gay men who have been faithful. Again, I would encourage you to talk to Jeff and follow his blog. Marriage is a different animal from celibacy and I'm not really qualified to talk about it, but I can say this: Fidelity is hard for everyone, not just gay Christians in hetero marriages.

Daniel M said...

larkspur: Feel free to check out my blog. I've been married for 6 years now.

http://ody-dan.xanga.com/

Jeff S. said...

Jay! You labeled me as ex-gay. Andy Marin just did the same thing a couple of days ago. LOL. I don't use the term myself and I have issues in general with it. I appreciate the support, but I think it's funny that you used the term in reference to me after all of our discussions.....

Jay said...

Daniel M: Thanks for stopping by!

Jeff S.: I know, I know. Old habits die hard. It's very easy, from a cultural perspective, to label guys who are gay but who have moral objections to gay behavior "ex-gay." It is like the terms "black" or "white": it doesn't really describe us accurately, but so many people use it that it's become nice, quick cultural term for us as a whole.

And just like "black" or "white," it's very easy to just say it when you're not thinking too hard. :)

Anonymous said...

I guess this will be my last comment (for now). I apologize if I came across too heavy handed regarding unbelievers who are able to live good lives by their own willpower or desire (a topic unto itself). I guess I know where I would be without the influence of the Holy Spirit in my life and have trouble comprehending how anyone can stay straight (no pun intended) without Him.

I appreciate the offer to email with Jeff and to check out his and Daniel's blogs. I've kind of looked at both blogs. However, I fail to see how this would affect my options at this point in my life with all that has happened. Truly, I don't deserve for my ex to talk to me; I need to accept my losses and move on.

As far as my ssa or gay orientation changing, well, I think that is obvious what the answer to that is (short of taking a lightning bolt and being rewired. HA!) For me, the question is: do I want to risk another relationship with another person - man or woman - with my history. And, yes, even at my age (lol), I do attract both on a regular basis.

For me, the point of the post on this movie dude was that he is risking, and it is working. At least for now. I am trying to ascertain where I, as a Christian, fit into that idea or equation of risking. I don't want to hurt anyone again the way that I hurt my ex. I hope that is understandable.

Jay said...

Larkspur: Well, there is certainly no shame in being single. I guess I'm just confused about what's bothering you. I am very sorry that your first marriage ended poorly, but you've brought your sins to Christ and you are forgiven, so be encouraged in that.

If you don't want to get into another relationship for fear of hurting someone, then that's honorable. You shouldn't be pressured to. Try to live your life as a full and single Christian man, and maybe one day you can at least ask your ex-wife for forgiveness and try to be friends.

donsands said...

"I am trying to ascertain where I, as a Christian, fit into that idea or equation of risking." -Anon

"Try to live your life as a full and single Christian man," -Jay

Good encouragement from Jay.

I would add, you need the Word of God to fill your very soul and spirit, and mind. Jesus said, "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."

We are fed with the Lord's Word through His beloved Church: By His pastors, elders, and deacons. The Church is essential for you.
And your own devotional time with Christ.

Without those, the world and the god of this world, will eat and devour your inner soul. Satan is shrewd and nasty. Beware of his false light.

Rather, "walk in the light, as He [Christ] is in the light, and you will have fellowship" with the Lord God, and His beloved children. (1 John 1)