Why I Started Sons of Sacrifice
In August 1976, at age 17, I crept stealthily into my first therapy session desperate to find the cure for being gay. In those days, the therapist, chagrined that one of his gay clients might encounter another, had his secretary take us in through one door and out through another.
I remember clearly how flummoxed she was the day I came for my appointment and a few moments later another young man came in for his appointment—we had been double booked—and the two of us were TALKING to each other. I was quickly rescheduled and escorted out.
We have come a long way since those days of intense shame and paranoia. It has been more than forty years since my first interaction with other gay Latter-day Saint men.
During this time, I have had the privilege of interacting with more than a thousand gay Latter-day Saints. By and large these have been faithful men with strong testimonies of the gospel, most of whom served honorable missions, love God, tried their best to live the gospel, and most were dealing with some level of unwanted sexual behavior that was slowly eating away at their spiritual lives.
During these years, I watched hundreds of my brothers in a slow transition from working intently to align their behavior with their belief—failing miserably—then modifying their belief to match their behavior. Some of these men are still very faithful, but the majority are no longer active in the Church.
I do not say this as judgement, only as observation. My friends did not make this choice on whim; it was usually a hard-wrought decision agonized over for years and I respect them in this very personal choice.
But I was fixed on keeping my faith.
I am gay, but to the core of my being I am also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints determined to keep my covenants, to sacrifice everything I have and am to God (Mosiah 4:21; 3:19).
For decades, I jumped from one addiction recovery program to another, trying to find the secret of escaping my deep-set compulsion to pornography. In some of these programs I found periods of hard-won sobriety, in others I heard a lot of theories. My behavior improved, but the habit still lingered.
Then, three years ago, I connected with Men of Moroni and therapist Maurice Harker.
In my second or third meeting with Maurice, he said to me, “Warren, what if I told you that in six weeks I can train you to recognize the instant a temptation tries to sneak into your head and how to flick it out like swatting a fly?
Then you can go on with your life, no struggle, no hours of trying to resist the temptation, just SWAT and on you go.”
He followed with, “Do I have your interest?” I’m surprised the skepticism on my face didn’t sear a permanent mark on his, but he had my interest.
I attended his training. About six weeks later, I could recognize and eradicate temptations easier and earlier than ever before. I will not say all has been smooth sailing from there.
Satan is a cunning strategist; he found new ways into my psyche and I fell flat on my face many times. I picked myself up and renewed my commitment to live the program Maurice outlined.
I am now at a point in my life where I have never had an easier time matching my behavior with my beliefs.
About five weeks after I met Maurice, he said to me, “Warren, God told me to invite you to come into my organization, learn our methods in greater depth, and design a program to teach gay men how to escape their addictions.” Once again, I looked at him askance. This time I said, “Maurice, I’m practically the only active gay Latter-day Saint I know that doesn’t want to be a shrink. I have a career. I am very good at it. Thanks, just the same.”
It seems God had other plans. I went back to work that day and I couldn’t get what Maurice said out of my head. It has been churning there for three years. I have thought and prayed about how to structure such a program. Sons of Sacrifice is a training group designed to teach gay men tools to escape the clutches of unwanted sexual behavior, but I have designed the program to do more than this.
Maurice uses a military theme in his work. His book, Like Dragons Did They Fight, teaches “Warrior Chemistry.” His training groups include “Sons of Helaman,” “Men of Moroni,” and “Eternal Warriors,” all drawing on a military theme. This was an idea familiar to me.
Long before I met Maurice, I was actively involved with several hundred other gay Latter-day Saint men in an intense series of programs that teach masculine empowerment principles based on warrior imagery. The groups talk about, “Warrior Energy,” or “Stepping into my Warrior,” and are based loosely on ideas taken from renowned psychiatrist, Carl Jung. These groups teach how to go beyond narrow stereotypes of manhood, take responsibility for choices, feel emotions, and bond with other men. However, they lack Maurice’s insight on how to apply these principles to addiction. These programs dovetail perfectly with Maurice’s “Warrior Chemistry.”
Sons of Sacrifice is designed to be a combination of ideas from these programs. When I bring “Warrior Energy” into my life, I increase how I take responsibility, interact with integrity, show vulnerability, establish better behavior, and eradicate addictions. The principles I learned through Life Changing Services have also enabled me to draw closer to God. As I approach Him in greater faith and faithfulness, my distance from Him decreases.
I am not perfect at this—I have a lot to learn as I lead this new training program.
If you are a gay man who has despaired of ever aligning your behavior with your covenants, I invite you to come join Sons of Sacrifice, to explore new concepts and new ways of applying old concepts.
Are you reading this with skepticism? Do I have your interest? What you experience when you join us may surprise you.
Written by Warren Bittner, Certified Life Coach at Life Changing Services and Certified Men of Moroni mentor who leads the Sons of Sacrifice group.