We cannot know everything. But to live in one body - the Body of Christ – is to experience the blessing of being knit together with such varied people and their enormously diverse experiences – that the clarity such close fellowship with others about such other ways of living and feeling can bring rewards us richly (provided that we do not withdraw from one another, which would be against the will of God and a rejection of what He has prepared for us). Unfortunately this kind of encounter - with different experiences and backgrounds - is all too rare, so that mistakes and misconceptions remain simply from not knowing or truly hearing one another. When I say ‘mistakes’, I mean that if we do not discern an existing reality according to the truth of God (in our case speaking about the reality of a homosexual orientation), our way of seeing things does not further life in the other person, but rather creates barriers and brings destruction. However, the fact of you being ready to read these lines and to hear from my experiences is a wonderful step out of this.
Here are some incorrect (or at least ill-informed) ideas I meet regularly:
Well I’m not supposed to be gay. But I am. And now? (So easy for others to say “Just be normal!“)
- Picture from the time of my suffering -
1. Homosexuality is a free choice and a decision
This is what people suppose: You just have to make a decision not to be gay, then everything will be fine. But why should anyone choose to be gay?
- Would somebody who loves God, opt for a situation in which he is rejected by God (based on the idea that he was taught that homosexuality is sin)?
- Would somebody choose the prospect of being rejected by his brothers and sisters in faith or at least be viewed with reserve, as a person where something is “obviously” awry with his faith and life? This is most unlikely if the man’s faith and fellowship are really important to him. What makes matters worse is the uncertainty that he might be rejected by parents and relatives. To this day, gay believers are still kicked out of their homes by Christian parents; in some cases they are disinherited, they may be cut off from all family community and a lot of suffering is created. The alternative only seems to be to hide who one really is; behave in a disingenuous way for years or even decades in front of the others; keep wearing a mask and force one’s life to conform to that mask (because the consequences of coming out just would be too painful – and many ministers would lose their source of income).
- Would somebody choose to be different and not understood by nearly everybody around? As human beings we prefer to fit in with the people around us, to live in the same reality of life as they do; it is normal that we love to be understood by others both in our problems and with our answers. A gay person (and much more a gay Christian) has little option but to fight himself ... until he reaches a place of peace with himself.
- Would anybody choose never to be able to experience his sexuality as a blessing (which most people would understand as a gift of God for us in this Creation)? Because the form of sexuality that he really desires as a gay man or women is a sin, according to the common teaching?
Whatever the reason – nearly all discover themselves with these feelings of same-sex attraction, which they had never chosen. Most feel dismayed about this from the start and are certainly not happy about it. Subsequently they have to travel a long journey to finally reach a place full self-acceptance. This journey is travelled mostly alone, without the help of other believers, who normally could and indeed should be there to encourage them. “Jesus loves you as you are” (yes of course without sin, but their identity IS NOT sin). Just ask people who are affected how it has been in their case – and you will understand the heart of your brother and his suffering a little better.
2. Homosexuality is Not an Identity, it is an Act!
This view comes from a study of certain Bible verses (usually assumed to be referring to homosexuality), most of which are actually referring to homosexual acts by heterosexual men (such as the story of Sodom and Gomorrah where the men are offered Lot’s daughters, or the acts described in Romans 1 of rich Roman men, who were presented a boy-prostitute after dinner). The subject of homosexuality as a sexual orientation does not appear in Scripture; genuinely homosexual people are there but we don’t notice them because we view the passages through our modern cultural perceptions. It is therefore necessary for us to listen carefully to one another - and express love in the Body of Christ by doing so. For decades, I myself lived without ever “acting out” my homosexuality; nevertheless my inner longing was exclusively directed to men. This shows that the concept of homosexuality only being about certain sexual acts, is quite wrong. Probably the only thing a gay person can do with the fact that this inner longing exists is to accept it, which means accepting who he is. This is independent of the question as to where that longing comes from or what we have to do with it.
The fact that Jesus said “You“, and he meant me as the one I really am, was probably my biggest change. Not a change towards heterosexuality, but towards being the son of God who is who he is – just as God said: “I am the one that I am”.
3. Homosexuality Is Changeable
I would like to say more about this subject in due course, but for now: I searched for this very change myself and have taken advantage of every opportunity for therapy available to me. On the way, I met a lot of others who were searching for this kind of change. Yet in the event I don’t remember any man who got rid of his homosexuality - who then experienced true desire for a woman and in time his wife in the same way as any heterosexual man does – without his former inclination reasserting itself in time. Other dear friends have been struggling to achieve change for years, even decades, to this day, because they cannot accept themselves as they are; in doing this, they ruin themselves before ever being able to experience what the love between partners really is, on all different levels. All because the “Christian teaching” wants it to be so.
Today very few people still believe in the mutability of sexual orientation that was proclaimed in such a grandiose way, mainly since the 1980’s. Most of the widely proclaimed examples of “I once was gay and now I live happily in a Christian marriage” have since been exposed as a mirage. After years of ever more strongly submerging their homosexual desire, they have ended up broken and become more honest – to the point of accepting themselves as they are as gay men. An especially prominent example is Alan Chambers, the former leader of Exodus International, which was the main umbrella organization for ministries offering change from homosexuality until 2013. Alan and his team brought about the closure of Exodus, at the same time publicly apologizing - asking for forgiveness for the damage that has been done in many lives – stating that, "The majority of people I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them, have not experienced a change in their orientation". Moreover he apologized for the previous Exodus slogan "Change Is Possible". Others who still believe that no expression of homosexuality can be in accord with the will of God, have become more modest in their claims so that instead of speaking about “healing”, they have created communities of mutual help for the difficult path of pursuing celibacy, without suppressing their homosexual orientation.