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"We are here. We are here. We are here." — Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears a Who
"Accordingly, the greatest need you and I have – the greatest need of collective humanity – is renovation of our heart. That spiritual place within us from which outlook, choices, and actions come has been formed by a world away from God. Now it must be transformed." Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart
Dr. Oz ran an episode of his television program where he interviewed Christopher Doyle and Rich Wyler about coming out of homosexuality. Both of these men have gone on to help others with unwanted same-sex attractions. Dr. Julie Harren-Hamilton, who works with clients with unwanted homosexual feelings and behaviors and is a former president of the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), was also featured on the program.
Of course, the show set off activist groups like the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). Such organizations often promote ideologies and resources that marginalize, or even ridicule, those with a Christian worldview. A recent GLAAD initiative even fights against the free speech of people who believe sexual expression is designed for a relationship between a man and a woman in a marriage relationship, trying to keep that truth out of the public forum and maligning those who disagree with them.
It shouldn’t surprise Christians that people leave homosexuality. Look throughout Scripture and history and you find people who encounter and follow Jesus Christ and have their lives transformed in the process. This is the message of the Gospel: Although we are made in the image of God, our lives are desperately marred by sin; Jesus came to earth to teach and model what life without sin looks like; He also came to die and pay the cost of our sin, bringing forgiveness and grace; and His resurrection, ascent and gift of the Holy Spirit bring healing and empowerment.
Homosexual behavior is just one of many sins God forgives and brings people out of. Despite the attempts of different folks to shut down this life-changing message, I keep running across people who have come out of homosexuality — whether in person or by reading their stories. It reminds me of the “Whos” from Dr. Seuss’ book, Horton Hears a Who: each story is another individual calling out, “We are here. We are here. We are here.”
Although there are some similarities in the stories, each is different and unique in how God brings healing and transformation. Some people move into marriage, some remain single and chaste. Some deal with residual same-sex sexual attractions, while others don’t. Here are just a few of these stories; I hope they encourage you — as they have me — with the truth of God’s transforming power.
Christy McFerren, who writes for Prodigal Magazine, tells the story of her Baptist upbringing, a growing awareness of lesbian attractions, involvement with women, and the changes she experienced. She says:
Sometimes I agreed with God about my sexuality because He is Lord, and love is a choice, and that is all. My emotions were left out of the equation so many times because I had to believe either my feelings were lying to me or God was. I purposed in my heart to honor God’s design no matter how it felt, for a very, very long time. I could feel in the waiting that Life was at work in me. Hope was at work in me.
In “Living with same-sex attraction,” five men and women discuss their decision to live according to Christianity’s teaching about sexuality. One of the participants, Ed, describes his relationship with Christ and the support he had from other Christians:
There’s that living Christ that you have an encounter with, and I seriously think I had that when I was in college. It’s just undeniable that I felt so much love and direction for the rest of my life. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I think at that moment I really caught a glimpse of Christ, and some of the people, like the high school leader at my church [and] the youth ministry leader came to mind. I thought of a lot of people who loved me regardless of my struggle, and those people really went back to the church.
Matt Moore is a young man who blogged at The Christian Post, where he told his story about struggling with homosexuality and other sins, and wrote about God’s powerful intervention in his life. While going through a period of intense wrestling with his faith, he posted his profile on a gay networking app and was “outed” in the media. Despite this, Matt writes that he is still following Christ and learning more and more about God’s love:
But I wanted to write this blog today to let the media outlets, talk show hosts and radio show hosts that bashed me so ferociously (and all of their readers and listeners) know that I did not reject Jesus and return to my old way of life—as they so certainly predicted would happen. Nor did I reshape Him in my mind to accept my sexual desires so that I could be a “gay Christian.” My sin, and the resulting public humiliation because of my sin, did not cause me to despair and give up. In fact, what happened caused me to seek God with more intensity than I ever have. I started reading the Bible more…a lot more…and I as I did my eyes began to open to see the greatness of God in Christ more clearly than I ever had before. He reminded me that He is better than anything and everything else.
As a young man,Christopher Yuan experimented with drugs and was sexually involved with a number of men. Tossed out of dental school and imprisoned for dealing, he discovered he was HIV positive. It was in this desperate situation that God reached out to Christopher with love and redemption. He writes:
Some believe that my message is to turn people from gay to straight, because the assumption is, ‘If God doesn’t condone homosexual sex, then the goal must be heterosexuality.” But I don’t believe that the goal should be heterosexuality. …The goal for all Christians should not be homosexuality or even heterosexuality, but instead, holy sexuality.
This is just a small sample; the truth is, there are many more individuals with stories of change from homosexuality. These men and women need our support, prayer and encouragement. For those with unwanted same-sex attractions, there is real hope and real change. It’s important that the church continues to proclaim the reality of transformed lives, not just for those with same-sex attractions, but for all people.