Begging God to Fix Me: Questions about the Ex-Gay Way

Recently Christine Bakke and I received an e-mail from a 20 year old woman who visited Beyond Ex-Gay. She lives in a large city in the North East of the US. I spent time this morning with her questions and concerns, then I wrote a response. I imagine this woman represents the concerns and questions of many young Christians and people of faith. Below is her initial message.

I am a 20 year old Christian woman and struggling with homosexuality. I have read some of the testimonies and wish I could do the same. However, those who say they have left the ex-gay ministry and decided to live as a gay Christian leave out that they are choosing to live in sin. Some married someone else of the same sex, but the bible does not give any guidelines for same sex couples in holy matrimony because it is not holy. The bible says it (homosexuality) is sin. I have been going back and forth with this for such a long time and it is so difficult. I have been told by my Christian friends that I just have to trust that God will get rid of these flesh desires. It will always be a battle but it’s supposed to be worth it in the end. In none of the testimonies is the word of God mentioned, neither do any of the “ex-gay survivors” mention having an experienced with God where he showed them or told them that it was possible to be gay and Christian. I have felt angry with God as well. Begging him to change me and take away this desire I have for women, but I am a baby in the spirit and know it will take time.

Below is my answer along with some collages created by Christine

Dear _____________,

Thank you for writing. Starting at age 17 I pursued God with all my heart to change me from gay to straight. I wanted to serve God as a missionary and most importantly I wanted to live as God pleased, according to God’s plan for my life. As a born-again Christian, I went to a Christian college and studied the Bible. I sought the Lord with all my heart and continued to come back to God daily, not just when I failed, but consistently, seeking God’s face and presence and will for my life. I ultimately spent 17 years doing this, trusting God to change me, to help me overcome the temptations, to help me to become a strong and committed Christian and someone who worships God in Spirit and in truth. I continually told myself, God and others that my desires for other men were evil, sinful, wrong. I returned to the altar time and time again. And over time I changed.

But I didn’t change in the ways that I expected. I understood that Jesus said that we shall recognize disciples by the fruit in our lives, namely love, but we also get a stunning list of the fruit of the Spirit later on in Paul’s writing–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control… This is the harvest I wanted to produce for God and God’s kingdom, but instead I yielded a very different type of fruit–depression, impatience, self-hatred, a total lack of control. The more I stuffed and demonized my gay orientation, the more BXG_CollageP2sonunchristian my life became.

After 15 years of living like this, it was with great sadness that I came to the conclusion that I could never actually change my orientation. Five years of marriage with a wonderful Christian woman proved that to me. I still labored on though for another two years to at least live a celibate life, one that I called a repentant life, although that seemed like a cop out compared to an actual transformation. But the misery continued and increased. I begged and pleaded God to give me victory. I cut out every gay contact in my life. I sought to destroy the gay part of me for Jesus. I found it was not possible or necessary. God did not answer my prayer. Sometimes when we ask something of God, and the answer is no.

I assumed I knew what the Bible said about gays, but I was wrong. In no passage does it forbid two men or two women to be in a loving relationship. Lust, idolatry, abuse are all condemned for straights and gays, but a loving relationship is not. In fact, it makes it clear that man (and women) should not be alone. We are designed for companionship, but an unequal orientation almost always ends disastrously–like being unequally yoked, with the two pulling in different directions. Also, I had not understood how people misused the scriptures to reinforce a bias they already held. We have seen this with slavery, where white Christians misread the passages to support the slave trade. They went to the scriptures with their minds made up instead of openly seeking God’s will. That is how I approached the scriptures for years not allowing the possibility of any other way.

In winter of 1998 I finally came to the understanding that 1. change was NOT possible 2. change was NOT necessary and most importantly 3. pursuing change was destroying my life, my faith and my relationships. I then assumed that when I accepted that I was gay, I could no longer be Christian, someone passionate about God. To my shock and surprised I then met a bunch of lovely, deeply committed, sincere Christians who were also openly lesbian and gay. They were not living a lie or going through the motions; they demonstrated a real and lasting faith. I have since personally met many more people of faith in North America, Europe, the UK, South America, Africa and beyond who are open and clear about their orientation and gender differences over at the Gay Christian Network. Over the past few years have spent time in deep worship with these sisters and brothers tenderly and earnestly seeking God and loving Jesus.

In my own life I settled into a place of listening to God, asking questions without demanding certain answers. I brought to the Light what was hidden in my heart and asked the Spirit, “What about this? What about that?” I waited and listened trusting that God would lead me and guide me even though initally after I came out I still preferred to be straight. I came to an outrageous conclusion, not only was it okay to be gay, but my orientation is one of the many gifts that God has given me, one that I continually attempted to return for almost 20 years of my adult life, one that I violently attacked and tried to tear to a million pieces. God is so patient and so gracious with me! How long I coveted my straight neighbor’s life rejecting my own saying it was not good enough.

_________, many people will tell you they know what God’s will is for your life. Ultimately you have to discover this for yourself. Perhaps to a straight minister, the idea of loving someone of the same gender is completely foreign. Based on his or her experience that minister may say that God would never decree such a thing. Perhaps not for them because they are straight; they don’t get it. So they put burdens on other people’s backs often confusing sexual desire with intimacy with sin with companionship thus demanding people live lives without family other than church family without the day in and day out closeness of an actual partner. In the end this is not just about sex. It is about honesty. It is about intimacy.

BXG_CollageBrandonWe have several members at Beyond Ex-Gay who are Christians like me who have grown in their faith after coming out, often as a result of coming out. You can read Brandon’s story to get a sense of this. Also, a college student for whom his faith is very important to him published an opinion piece in his local paper about this very topic.

Within you is the Kingdom of God, just like Jesus taught. You have God’s Spirit to teach you and guide you, to help you to understand God’s will. You can trust God to lead you. Part of the work is to allow God to detox from a world and a church that make unrealistic and ungodly demands of lesbians and gays. Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, a world that very much says that to be straight (or white or male or rich) is far more valuable than to be lesbian. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you can test and prove what God’s will is for your life.

I hope this answer to your question proves helpful.
-Peterson

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This post has 9 Comments

  1. dan from Torono on August 14, 2009 at 11:07 am Reply

    That is a very well written story.
    I love hearing people’s stories, and seeing some resemblenses and differences.
    I came to the same conclusions as you did about my orientation. Deeply desiring change for so long. And realizing that the fruits of the spirit were not increasing in my life (and relationships) but was decreasing. And once god brought me to the place where I accepted myself fully… the fruit of the spirit were being cultivated.
    thanks for sharing that. And making yourself vulnerable for those of us that need to hear it.

  2. Sheria in SA on August 14, 2009 at 1:49 pm Reply

    Wow, I didn’t know that lesbians are also known as homosexuals…Am learning…

  3. Beth on August 14, 2009 at 4:07 pm Reply

    Peterson,

    What a beautiful and Spirit-filled response. It truly spoke to me. How much of ourselves (myself) that has been given by God do we (I) cast aside and disparage because society dictates otherwise. Only by reclaiming our God-given selves can we serve and live a life filled with Spirit/God.

    I’ve been reading Marcus Borg who points out that at times we focus on the sin within ourselves to the exclusion of the reality of the sin within society (such as the prejudice that this young woman and many others face). Maybe because sin within the self seems easier to heal?

    Anyway, a long response from me.

    A short response- Thank you Peterson, know that you are still being held in the Light in Hartford.

    Beth

    • p2son on August 18, 2009 at 11:17 pm Reply

      Thank you Beth for writing and thinking of me. I hope to see you soon in Hartford!

  4. GreenEyedLilo on August 15, 2009 at 7:06 am Reply

    I hope she listens to you and Christine. This is so sad. The mindset is so sad. But she’s young, and we all have to make our own mistakes when we’re young. It could be that she may have to, you know, actually touch the burner to really, truly learn that the stove is hot and she shouldn’t touch it. It says something that she tried reaching out to you.

    • p2son on August 18, 2009 at 11:16 pm Reply

      You may be right crakerlilo. I know when I was 19 no one could talk to me unless they reinforced the idea that I was evil and needing to repent of all my gayness. I shut out any other voice.

  5. Jane on August 17, 2009 at 11:37 am Reply

    I’m a bit behind in my reading and just read this today, August 17.

    I was 20 when I became a “born-again” christian. (Those words cut my mouth as they come out. I’m still working on this notion of being born or spirit.) I had been to university and had been out as a lesbian. I went home for the summer to a military home. I went back into the closet.

    As Jesus and Christianity were presented to me that summer, the solution to my bifurcated life was simple. Give my heart to Jesus, be born-again and be delivered of the evil. Ten years later, after I was clinically depressed, suicidal and felt more distant from God than I ever had before, I left the church. That’s when the transformation began; six years later I went back to church and a community of believers.

    My heart relates to this young woman. I have been there, and sometimes still go there in the dark of a long night. There is hope, peace, love and joy in living fully who we are before God and people. None of that means easy or simple, but I’ll take the former four over the latter two.

    I don’t know if this is edifying for anyone, or just myself. I just wanted to somehow put out “there” to this young woman that someone relates has walked a similar path — for her to know she’s not alone. I hope she sees this.

    Hope, love, peace and joy,
    Jane

    • p2son on August 18, 2009 at 11:15 pm Reply

      thanks Jane. Your words are powerful. You know what you are talking about because you navigated the same challenging waters. So glad you came out the other side. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

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