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
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 unchristian 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.
We 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.