Thank you for the Ex-Gays series. It’s spawned a lot of meaningful, transformative conversations and been a pleasure to follow. A few older men have shared their stories, which has been encouraging. I hadn’t planned on writing but feel compelled to share my story as well. It might be helpful for others in my position or for those wishing to understand it better. You’re welcome to post this (or a portion of it) if you like.
Above all else, I am a committed Christian gripped by the good news of a God who has entered into his creation to put an end to sin and brokenness by his body broken and blood poured out until he returns in glory to restore all things. I could not shake this conviction if I tried. I’m heavily involved in my church and in my community, and I thank God that I can serve with such great people.
The problem is that I am also a man in his 20s who has struggled with homosexuality since middle school. There is nothing about my appearance or personality that suggests this. By and large, I experience very little attraction to women but an inversely powerful attraction to men. Nonetheless, I recognize that we’re called to keep our desires in check and endeavor to do so.
In my experience, there is a critical lack of church members and leaders to whom a man or woman in this position could approach without fear of being vilified. The leader of my last small group once said, “This is a safe space for you to talk about anything – whether it’s doubt, or lust, or if you like boys or animals…,” conflating homosexuality and bestiality as a joke. Needless to say, I didn’t share much after that.
What I’d like more than anything is the support of friends willing to come alongside me on this journey with love, understanding, and no coercive agendas. People who can say, “I love you and just want to walk with you through this, however it might turn out. I want you to know that I care.”
It can be a profoundly isolating experience. More than once, I’ve found myself on the floor crying out to God and asking, pleading, in tears “God, did you make me wrong? Why am I like this?” I’ve prayed for the last decade, “God, please change me.” I’ve read all the books and done all the word studies. But not much has changed.
The opportunities the church presents to someone in my position range from bad to worse. If I speak about it, I risk the public spectacle of “church discipline” via the dreaded BCC: e-mail to the entire community. I could attempt to repress my sexuality and embark upon a lonely life of self-denial and self-loathing – which I’m sure is as appealing as it sounds. I could also force myself into a relationship with a woman, get married, have kids, and pray that a world of hurt not fall upon our home as a result of such deceit.
Or, I can recognize that as creature who is loved by God, I’m called to live my life in his service and find salvation “with fear and trembling,” attempting to live faithfully whatever might come my way – a man or a woman, companionship or celibacy, blessing or hardship, and so on.
I’m certainly not closed to change – in fact, I’d welcome it. But time is teaching me not to wait up. I don’t want a “gay-friendly” church flying a rainbow flag above the altar. I long to be a part of a normal, progressive community of Christ-followers who pursue Biblical lives of justice and righteousness together and love people for who God created them to be. I’m not sure what I believe about “the Bible and homosexuality” yet, and thus I don’t know how my life will turn out. But I know that I too was created in the image of God, and that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. I pray that this might ring true for all of us.