Change is Possible!
For years that’s been the major slogan of the ex-gay organization Exodus. Of course for people weighed down with the expectation that they must be straight at any cost, the vague promise of change lured them to seek a cure from being gay.
Once in the doors, they learned that an actual change in orientation was not a realistic goal for most, yet leaders dangled other vague promises before desperately hopeful strugglers.
“If you stick with it, you will find that some of your same-sex attractions will actually diminish just like they did for me.” (statement replete with photo of ex-gay leader accessorized with wife and some children).
People should feel free to live the lives they desire. If someone who experiences primarily same-sex attractions wishes to explore a heterosexual life, no one should hold them back. But if “growing into” that life requires years of counseling, weekly support groups, hundreds of hours of prayer, annual conferences, straight mentors, and a library of books, perhaps the person needs to face reality. That change is not for them.
The pressures to conform to the traditional heterosexual model and the adherence to society sanctioned gender normative expressions drive people to the point of madness. They throw away common sense and ignore modern science. I totally understand the drive though. I look back now at the nutty and even dangerous things I did in order to straighten myself out and wonder how I could have been so misguided.
Over and over again I bowed to teachings that insisted that I could not be gay and Christian. Ministers and ex-gay leaders taught me that the “gay lifestyle” included only reckless behavior, loneliness, and ultimately a life apart from God. No wonder it took me nearly two decades to come to my senses.
And then I changed–not my orientation–rather I changed the ways I viewed myself. I no longer viewed myself as a sick, degenerate, rebellious sinner, but as a normal human being with the same desires as most everyone else in the world–desires for love, for adventure, for accomplishment, for wholeness.
I began to see that being gay was not a curse or a sickness or a weakness. It was just part of how I was wired. And as I grew to accept myself and no longer conformed to the patterns that people in the church and the world laid out before me, I began to grow thankful for being gay.
Yeah, I thank God that I am a man with a homosexual orientation. Even though I chose to plow through decades of confusion, false hopes and despair seeking a change, I now feel grateful for how I am wired, how God wired me.
Being gay remains only a part of me. I have much more going on that defines me, but being gay has affected the way I view the world. It has both toughened and softened me in the best ways possible.
I can’t speak for most people, but some flee the gay life out of fear. Fear of disease. Fear of hell. Fear of letting other people down. Fear of an empty lonely life.
Fear breeds confusion. Literally neural pathways in our brains shut down, and we cannot think clearly or rationally.
We need not live under all that fear; change is possible.