I Acknowledge – The Ugly

I Acknowledge – The Ugly

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As I thought about the second piece of “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” I realized something I was very passionate about that really hangs on the “Ugly.”


I remember hearing when I was a child that red-headed Irish girls are “feisty.” It seemed that included the premise that red-headed girls had bad tempers. As I grew to an adult I began to wonder which came first, the bad temper, or the red hair?


My own “Red Hair” experience

I’ve struggled my entire life with feeling different, being oversensitive about life and relationships, and not relating well to the world around me. I wanted desperately to be something different, to find a way to sort all of this out, but didn’t find any answers.


I finally realized I was gay. Shortly after I came out, I was taught that “homosexuality was sin.” So in conclusion I thought it might be possible to rid myself of this horrible thing called “being gay.” But there was an UGLY side affect to this way of thinking.


Here’s The Ugly

As I pursued the changes I hoped for I reached a dead end road. I found I couldn’t shake something that went very deep inside me. I thought since I was gay, that “I” was bad! If homosexuality is “sin”, then I can only come to the deep, internal conclusion, I am “sin.”


The deep level of shame and lack of acceptance of myself as a person who is loved by God, kept me away from Him, and from myself. The over sensitivity didn’t go away, the struggles of feeling inadequate and insignificant never seemed to lessen and I continued to feel ashamed of my weakened state as a person.


This created a personal environment where I tried every way I could to cover the shame. I tried hard to wash it away, deny it and to stuff it.


“You Can Change”

In my initial introduction to the “You Can Change” message it all sounded so good!


” A new creature in Christ!”


“And such were some of you!”


Who wouldn’t want that? It was all so very hopeful! Desirable! After all, if the “red hair” could go away with the freckles, then maybe the teasing would stop and I could now be like the others. Without a doubt, there are many red haired children who might have taken the option to change their freckles if it were possible.


But, as the pursuit of change went on being gay didn’t go away. There was no change in the understanding of same or opposite gender relationships. The unique understanding of feelings and relationships remained and actually became more complex along with my increased state of shame from the perception that I was bad and unacceptable because I was gay.


“You Must Change”

So, now the message of “change” felt like a mandate. “You must change!” If being gay is a sin, and God hates sin, then the only way for God to love me was to eradicate sin from my life. So, I “must” change this part of myself, push it away somehow.


How can someone change something that is so deeply intertwined within themselves? Is it about sex? Is it about gender? Or, is it more than all of that? I discovered I could change what I do sexually, so I did. I stopped having sex with men. I learned how to get along better with other men and this helped me somewhat socially, however I never related at a deep level. But the message of “change” seemed to beg more from me, a deeper change than I had come to experience after over 20 years of trying.


The Rage Within

Underneath it all was a boiling anger, maybe even a type of rage inside my soul. “What in the hell do you want me to do?” “I’ve been good, I’ve gone to all of the meetings, the conferences, counseling, intensive prayer. What else is there that you want from me?”


God wasn’t changing me. So, I remained sin, less valuable, less courageous. I remained damaged goods that were left with no options other than to learn how to “suck it up” and try my best to fit in, to assimilate into a world that seemed to understand itself, but I couldn’t seem to understand myself.


Another Night of Dreams

Recently God has begun to shed light onto my heart. It seems that the point in all of this is that I am not “sin.” Well, that’s good news! I am not intrinsically bad because I am gay. Well, that’s good news too. It also seems that many of the things I used to say “caused” homosexuality were actually the result of being gay in a world that just didn’t seem to connect.


One night I had a series of dreams that included vignettes of people showing their gifts, talents, and personality traits that were laying strangely separate from themselves. Some of these people were shedding some things, and pushing other things away. God began to enlighten me to things that He allowed, or created within my soul. Things that were unique, special, not ordinary. It seemed He was challenging me to stop trying to change myself and begin to learn to accept life as it is and see the value in it.

At a recent play called “The Boys Next Door” my eyes welled up in tears when one of the boys stood up, shedding the effects of being a “special needs kid” and talked about what it was like to live in his world. He began to talk about the things he brought to life in those around him and how he was being used in his very own special way to enhance life.


I immediately resonated with his heart. I realized that there was a silver lining in the rain cloud of being gay. I am uniquely created by God. He has somehow allowed me to be gay and He promises He will bring good out of all situations for His glory, and He says it will be good for me too! He has a special place for me and my being gay fits into the bigger picture of who I am. To remove it would be to remove a part of myself as God created me to be.


Return to The Ugly

The ugly is that so many within the Christian culture and community have touted the message that gays “must” change, that being gay is “sin” and gays are truly going to lose out on God’s kingdom unless they change. The double bind is a burden far too weighty for anyone to carry.


The message of “change” sets the tone for people to try very hard to comply with its implication and find on the other side of their attempts, failure of great magnitude. A message that they will never measure up to God’s standards for acceptance.


A Far Too Common Message

I received an email from a pastor that has been at odds with my writings. He said:


“John, maybe the problem is that these gay folks just haven’t prayed long enough to fight against this and win the victory.”


YOU SAID WHAT?

Steam came out of my ears when I read that! I felt incensed! Obviously this man has never really heard the heart and soul of gay people. I don’t think I know of anyone who prays as hard, stand as strongly, and endures as long as many within the gay community.


If you ask any gay person who has gone to a Christian for help, the thing that they hear the loudest is:


“Pray, and read your bible more.”


There isn’t much more demeaning that anyone can tell a gay person to do than that. Many can probably quote chapter and verse, and show you the callouses on their knees from praying.


I’m Not Denying There is a Hope For Change

Please hear me. In our life journey, we do experience changes in our personalities, our desires, and some of the seemingly intrinsic features we have carried along with us. And yes, some people do experience changes in their sexuality. I will not deny the uniqueness of each person’s life in Christ and the things that God may do.


The challenge to look at is this. What is the motivation for the message of change? Is it  to see someone experience the goodness in God? Or, is it to somehow eradicate being gay from our life, or someone else’s?


Is the motivation to rid someone the burden of being gay so that the shame will go away? Do we want desperately to remove a gay orientation from someone’s life we know because it seems to be difficult for them? Do we want to change people who are gay because we are uncomfortable being around them?


Or, think about this:

Is it better to help people to accept life as it is, gay or not? Is it better to look at someone in their heart and say;


“God loves you right where you are. He has a life for you that is amazing. If you will pursue Him, He will show you the way. Quit worrying about change, and join His pathway of life for you. Seek Him with all of your heart, and He will guide you.”


I Am Finally Getting It!

The real lie that has created the greatest problem is within the front line message that “gays can change.” I am coming to believe that the true attack from the enemy of our souls stems from the message of change that many understand as “you must change.” If the enemy can get people to believe that unless they change, they will never be acceptable to God, then he has found the way to consign them to a lifetime of shame and degradation.


You see, it is this kind of internal shame that brings overcompensating behaviors that are destructive, dehumanizing, and just overall unhealthy. The enemy of our soul loves to see gay people, who are so talented, sensitive, and insightful; feel trapped in a never ending bind of self destruction. So, in setting up the message of change that most likely will never be fulfilled, then he has the lock and the key is thrown away.


Let me repeat this.

When gay people think because they are gay they are intrinsically flawed, the shame builds. To cover the shame we subsequently see in people’s lives addictive practices, inflated and extreme lifestyles. So many times the answer from the Christian community is “change” and it will all get better.


Out of sincere desire and motivation the journey to seek first the kingdom of change ensues. This path comes to no end and therefore the shame only goes deeper.


My Cover

In an energetic search for change I found a cover of being the good boy, the great Christian leader, the moral one. I gave myself no permission to show “ugly” emotions or to make undesirable mistakes. I stayed away from anything that might in any way reflect negatively upon my reputation.


Internally, I already felt so ashamed and broken I couldn’t afford anything that might add the already heavy load.


As I am allowing myself to be more authentic, the pretty exterior is falling off. My reputation is being called into question and I am no longer fearful of making a mistake. As I accept that I am gay and am willing to let that out I find that many pressures are falling off.


What is the answer?

The answer is to find God’s love in who we are, in how we’ve been created (or allowed to be created) and to rid ourselves of the misappropriated shame from being gay. I have recently come to know many people who now accept themselves, with God’s tremendous love, as being gay. In this transition from shamed, to loved, many of the destructive behaviors miraculously cease. Drugs are thrown away, sexually addictive behaviors stop, relationships get better and people begin to thrive in their relationship with God.


There is a Battle

There is a battle, but who has been deceived? Of course, the enemy doesn’t want anyone to find freedom from destruction. So the battle rages on between the culture who says “change is necessary” and the culture who says “you are loved as you are.” There is certainly a war going on for the souls of those who are gay.


I want to see more freedom from the destruction. Do you?


velvet rageA very helpful book for me has been “The Velvet Rage” by Alan Downs, PH.D.


Overcoming the pain of growing up gay in a straight man’s world.





To see more of the “I Acknowledge Series” (click here.)

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35 Responses to “I Acknowledge – The Ugly”

  1. Cheryl Moss Tyler says:

    Well said, my friend. If anyone doubts anything you’ve said then they haven’t been in the trenches.

  2. Jason Thompson says:

    John,

    You share so much about you gay identity and the peace you found with being gay. What does this mean? Do you sexualize men? Do you fantasize about sex with men? Do you use porn or act out with men? Or do you just find men attractive? If the latter, I have ‘ever-straight’ friends that can find other men attractive. That doesn’t make them gay, it makes them human. So, why so much insistence on sharing you are ‘gay’?

    And with that, how does your wife deal with all your attention on your identity as being ‘gay’? You don’t spend much time talking about your appreciation and desire for her. If I spent week after week saying I was gay, I would assume my wife would question my affection and attention for her. And if, for you, it’s just a matter of a secondary desire, why give it so much attention? It would be like a married man blogging all the time about how he, at his core, desires other women but how he is at peace with having those desires (for other women). He would proudly share “This how God made me! I desire other women, other than my wife! May God get the glory!”. Not only would he be at peace about this, he will then go on to share it with the world – every Friday.

    John, I’m I missing something?

  3. Jeff says:

    I think I hear your heart. A good friend of mine struggled for years and decided to leave the Christian community and move to the Czech Republic (where he still lives and is married to another man). He was a successful ordained minister and for years struggled and prayed and fasted, etc. After many years of turmoil, He now feels he can embrace being gay and also Christianity. He has become an ordained minister again with another denomination.

    My question is this, (please understand I am not comparing these two lifestyles) what about the man who is attracted to the 12 year old boy or the man who is a pedophile? Can he still be a Christian and engage in these activities? If in fact, that is the way God made him, why could he not?

    Just because someone has a propensity that is clearly called sin in scripture, does that mean he/she embraces it as the way God made them? I have my opinions, but I want yours.

    Blessings.

  4. John Smid says:

    Jason,
    When I was involved in speaking the ex-gay message I often minimized being gay and trivialized it down to “sex.” I thought certainly it was just about erotic attractions for those of the same sex.

    I wrote a series of articles entitled “Exploring the Homosexual Myth” and proudly said there was no such thing as a “homosexual person” only actions and behaviors.

    I was wrong in my assessments and in my conclusion. The idea that being gay is just about who you have sex with is not something I believe today.

    Using the term “gay” to describe myself does involve an attraction to those of my same gender, but it is so much more than that. It is a life long journey of experience of being “John” in the world I grew up in. I think I have addressed all of this. I lived by the idea that if you just push it away, deny it, and don’t think about it, then it will go away is erroneous as well.

    I take into consideration that your life experience is unique to you and therefore understand why you may not relate to my story or life experience.

    I do not discuss intimate details about my marriage in public forums.

    John

  5. John Smid says:

    Jeff,
    I would not ever consider any kind of comparison between someone who is gay and someone who abuses children.

    If you can find another analogy it might work better for me to consider.

    Doctrinally, I believe the gospel is the gospel for all people who accept it. There are many who don’t deserve God’s grace, and I am one of them.

    John

  6. Howard W. Hervey says:

    John, While I agree with much of what you say about shame, and feeling that God won’t love me as I am, I don’t agree with the conclusion you reach. God does love me just the way I am, but He loves me too much to leave me there. If what you say is completely true then no one should have to change anything about themselves. God did not make anyone Gay. It is a result of many different factors in a persons life.

    I am troubled about the fact that you use your dreams and feelings to chart the course of your life.I hate to put it in this way, but going by how we feel is a very immature way to deal with life.

    Please, show me this in scripture. More to the point in scriptures. As I have submitted my sexuality to Christ He has consistently lead me away from homosexuality. If you can show me in the Bible where God intended men to have same sex relations I will buy into what you are saying.

  7. John Smid says:

    Howard,
    What I hear you saying is that you have found joy and success in your life regarding the fact that you have experienced homosexuality. I am glad for you and celebrate with you that you feel confident in what you have personally experienced and that you give God the glory for it.

    However, one thing you said gives me the motivation for so much of what I have written. “As I have submitted my sexuality to Christ He has consistently lead me away from homosexuality.”

    It is the lack of clarity in that statement that has been misrepresented over and over and created many problems. I said that for over 25 years myself. But the facts remain that “lead me away from homosexuality” meant nothing in relationship to a change from being gay. In my article I said clearly that I changed my behavior. I grew in maturity and gained much more insights as to many things in my life as a person, but change in orientation never occurred.

    It is this lack of change that I was writing about.

    You said yourself that homosexuality in your life came as a result of many factors. Well, I believe that myself and know that each person has a different storyboard of life. But to say God did, or did not allow, create, or designate someone to be gay, or not be gay is something none of us can know for sure. I cannot show you this in Scripture because it is about individual lives.

    What I can say is that Scripture does refer to people being born blind, and with other issues in their genetics, and their souls. So, why would it be hard to believe that someone might be born gay? and for kingdom purposes?

    “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” John 9

    We have spent far too much time trying to change people and trying to figure out where it all came from and not enough time asking God where it fits within His kingdom.

  8. Howard W. Hervey says:

    Hi John, Being born blind is not offensive to God.Do you feel that two men or women having sex is ever acceptable to God? If so can you show me in scripture why you feel that. Paul warns not to be deceived people who habitually commit a variety of sins will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    Please explain to me why you are not being deceived when you say what you say. Can I be sexually immoral in a heterosexual way and inherit the kingdom? What about being a drunk? Why is it only homosexuality is exempt? The bible is clear all humans are “broken”. All fall short of what God created us for.

    God’s created intent for sex is a man and a women. That is the only model that is upheld in Scripture. My life would have in some ways been much easier if it were different, but it is not. Does not Scripture say that Christ died to set people free from sin. Why to you find it so hard to believe that apples to homosexuality? It is no different then other sexual sins.

  9. Paula Sampson says:

    Hi John,

    I am so sad and weary of the Christian community’s need to have an answer for each and every difficult circumstance that humans find themselves in. Why not embrace the mystery of God and His ways? What is so terrible about not having an answer or explanation? Why not operate under the greatest commandment given, “Love your neighbor as yourself”? I wonder what our world would look like if those who call themselves Christians would truly understand God’s love and allow that to be the rule of their lives rather than being “right”. When you truly love, you accept people as they are whether they agree with you or not.

    My experience of Christians’ unloving ways is very different from yours, John, but it has caused me to draw away from my former religious tradition. The result has been tremendous freedom to seek God wherever He may be found. I do understand the courage it has taken for you to be so public about your journey. Thank you for your example of willingness to share your heart no matter the cost.

    Peace to you,
    Paula

  10. John Smid says:

    Paula, thank you for your insight, experience, and conclusion.

    I feel it very sad that it has to be a paradigm shift to come to the conclusion of loving people right where they are at.

    John

  11. Randall says:

    John, I find it very helpful to understand what you have experienced. It makes me think that like many other issues in life there is a balance beam we are required to walk. There are too many “either / or” options available. Either I believe that change is possible and therefore shame those who find their own change minimal or absent, or I accept them unequivocally and endorse healthy same sex relationships. Is there a both/and.

    I am challenged by your thoughts to recognize how easy it is for those who have same sex attractions to feel ashamed of themselves and worthless before God. I must see myself as a protector of their value because God values them. In the same way I must value the heterosexual who struggles with a desire to have sex with more than one person of the opposite sex. The desire is not a good one, but they are still valued by God, and I must affirm that.

    But I also must affirm that engaging in those behaviors is outside the bounds God has set for us of what is healthy for our souls. I must seek to understand what each person is feeling and wrestling with, and offer hope of “change” or inner peace and strength from God to live righteously. And I believe as you do that miraculously for those who understand God’s love and limits there will be relief from pressure to act out the shame.

    Am I off base here?

  12. Howard W. Hervey says:

    John,
    Let me start out by saying this: I am not judging, I am not condemning. Please take me at my word on this. What I AM doing is asking very specific, honest questions. I am seeking information. I would greatly appreciate honest, specific , Biblically based answers to my questions.

    It appears to me that what you are saying goes against thousands of years of moral teaching. Scripture from Genesis to Revelation only upholds one model for human sexuality. Male and female joining together in a permanent union. Jesus upheld this model in His teaching. Anytime homosexuality is mentioned, in any form, it is held up as an example of sexual immorality.

    First question: If what you are saying is accurate, why is this the case?

    Often when this discussion is going on some one brings up: Why can’t we just love each other the way we are told to do in scripture? (see above)

    Question 2. Can you love someone without approving of their behavior? And if you see them doing something that is harmful (as you see it) does not Love compel you to warn them?

    Several scriptures warn us that certain behaviors will prevent people from entering into the kingdom of God. Homosexual activity is among those behaviors. In addition Paul warns us about false teachers who will come along telling us what we want to hear. The itchy ear syndrome if you will.

    Question 3. Why does this not apply to your position?
    Nowhere in scripture is homosexuality, in any form spoken about in a positive or even a neutral light.

    Last question. Under what circumstances would God approve, or otherwise bless a same sex union?

    What I am going to say is not meant to be harsh, but only to set the stage for this discussion. PLEASE base your answers on Scripture. I do not care how you Feel, what you have experienced, or any hypothetical situations you might want to bring up. I am not willing to base my relationship with Christ on feelings or anything else. I believe that Scripture is the final arbitrator of all things “GOD”.

    Again these are honest questions, not criticism or judgments’. I honestly wish to serve God in a manner that HE APPROVES OF. as I believe that you do also.

  13. karen says:

    John,

    I posted earlier in the week, but I think my comment is out in cyberspace somewhere….

    As you know, I have experience with someone born with blindness….I don’t agree with the comparisons you make. As a matter of fact, I found the comparison confusing and hurtful.

    My grandson was born nearly 4 years ago with eye cancer. We surely don’t ask the world to conform to his handicap. We ask HIM to compensate….we encourage HIM to overcome and to live in a world that will always be a challenge to him by bending to the world so as not to become a victim. This is why I can’t agree with your comparing homosexuality to handicaps. The more those engaging in this lifestyle try to make it into something that “can’t be helped” the more those living in true situations that are not of their making are diminished…whether it is discrimination against handicapped people or those of other races.

    I can’t help but agree with those who feel that somehow homosexuals are trying to become a “special” group of people who aren’t to be held accountable for anything except the very worst behavior. In other words, it’s alright if you are gay, just don’t be perverted about it. Are thousands of years of Judeo-Christian thought about this all of the sudden wrong? And before the argument of the practice of slavery is brought up….Scripture never held that slavery was right….it was only recognized as part of ancient life. But you have to admit that scripture implies that our sexuality is only a PART of who we are and that it is to be restricted to the bonds of marriage between a man and woman. Scripture never considers it should be between anyone else or surely there would be instruction concerning homosexual relationships and families. Scriptures’ silence on this is its own affirmation.

    John, God gave you a platform…..please be careful with it. If you are wrong about this, you may still be harming people.

    Praying for wisdom,
    Karen

  14. John P. says:

    Hi John,

    Thanks for sharing your heart, a very difficult thing to do in a public forum like this. I’m a 40 year-old virgin man who experiences sexual attraction to both men and women.

    My question: What came first, the chicken or the egg? Or more precisely, what came first–the shame from within, or the shaming messages from society?

    I believe the gay community has projected the gay shaming messages on society, when in reality, it was a shame-based IDENTITY that we adopted very early in life, as the result of family-of-origin issues (sometimes even pre-natal).

    Most every man who has struggled with this issue can relate strongly to the concept of shame. Shame over feeling different, flawed, condemned, on the outside looking in, unable to perform, and the list goes on. But where did the shame come from? Ultimately, of course, it comes from the evil one. But that aside, where did it come from? Most gay people say the shame comes from society telling us that being gay is bad.

    I have a different take. Because I have a shame-based self concept from not feeling accepted and loved as an infant and child, I feel internally flawed. Child psychologists will tell you that children who are emotionally injured immediately assume any assault to them is their own fault, because children are egocentric by nature. Thus, as I grew up feeling flawed already, I began looking for any form of rejection from peers, society in general, women, men, etc. throughout my life–to validate my already flawed opinion of myself. My own unconscious projection of my personal shame onto others, and society at large, can be a powerful thing. I found that when I was expecting to be shamed, I could surely find it.

    Recently, I have made a decision to live life without shame. I realize that for me, shame is the basis for my same gender attractions. When I am feeling strong, “enough,” loved by God and others, well connected with men and women in my life, etc, my same gender attractions diminish significantly. But when I am out of balance, isolated, listening to the old tapes in my head that I am flawed, bad, or ugly, I feel the old desires to find my identity in another man. Thus, when my focus is off, I feel more gay.

    I can only speak for myself, but I am grateful I have a choice as to whether I see myself as gay or not. I personally have a wide continuum of attractions, and I find this continuum can fluctuate even throughout the course of a single day. I’m okay with this. I know the reasons behind some of my attractions, and I don’t need to choose to act on them unless I want to.

    I deeply resonate with Dr. Nicolosi’s book “Shame and Attachment Loss.” This book has helped me so much. Truly, for me, my internalized shame has been the result of deep attachment loss in my life. The way out of shame has been to experience the deep grief associated with my attachment loss, which largely occurred through a disrupted infant-mother bond. I have shed buckets of tears as I work through the trauma, but as the grief is shed, the shame dissipates. I’ve come to look at shame as a “covering emotion.” When I’m feeling shame, there’s usually something deeper underneath it–e.g. grief, or anger, that needs to be dealt with.

    By the way, the concept that gay men have a certain template of being sensitive, artistic, intuitive, etc, just doesn’t hold water with me. I can see how society would think we were born with these traits. But again, I must ask, what came first? The chicken or the egg?

    In my healing journey I have met many straight men with deep sensitivity and artistic talent. And they are okay with it. The difference is that many of us grew up feeling the internalized belief that it was NOT okay to be us. Thus, as I see it, many men, gay or not, exhibit sensitivity and artistic qualities. The difference is simply a matter of personal shame/judgment being attached to these traits or not. If I felt as a child that it was bad to be sensitive I will react to that sensitivity very differently than a man who was affirmed for his sensitive soul as a little boy.

    I’m learning to love this life! I’m attracted to certain men. I’m attracted to certain women. And that’s okay. I’m not a gay man. I’m simply a man, learning to live without shame.

    And my greatest claim to shedding shame? The Cross. Praise Jesus–I will boldly proclaim His deliverance!

    Thanks,
    John P.

  15. Karen K says:

    John,
    I have really appreciated your series. I have to admit that many of the responses here are hard for me to hear because I see that they are not understanding what you are saying. However, I also used to see things from their perspective and so I understand where they are coming from.

    Howard and Karen, I get the impression from your comments that you are making assumptions beyond what John has said. John is married and faithful to his wife. He is not in any same-sex relationship as far as I can tell. He is simply acknowledging that he has immutable same-sex attractions. That is, he is gay. By definition someone who is gay has persistent and pervasive romantic, emotional, sexual attraction to the same gender. This is something that just is. He did not choose it. He has not been able to change it. It is part of who he is and has shaped his life experience.

    Even Christian psychologists Yarhouse and Jones found that 77% of participants in their 6 year study did not experience any heterosexual attraction despite much prayer and effort. And the small percentage of those who did experience some shift did not shift categorically to heterosexual. Rather they were bisexual, still retaining same-sex attraction. Research has shown that the change in sexual orientation that we thought was possible for everyone or even most, occurs only rarely.

    As for the objection to comparing blindness to being gay. Because I used to see things from your perspective, I understand what you are trying to say. But, the fact is that our sexual desires and genitals are biologically/physiologically based. Just as someone can be born with a birth defect such as a withered hand, so also the genitals or sexual organs are body parts that are subject to abnormalities in the pregnancy process. In the same way sexual desire is rooted in the brain–a body organ.

    People used to be superstitious about mental illness believing it was demon possession, and no wonder because emotions and psychological processing is so tied to the core of identity. Surely someone whose personality seems so changed must be demon possessed. But then we came to understand that mental illness if often organic. So, also today we tend to be superstitious about sexuality and attribute all desires to some kind of spiritual temptation. Surely there is that. But, sexual desire is also very much a product of our biological functioning–which is subject to any number of interferences–whether one may be born a certain way or develop organic conditions later.

    The concern I have is most conservatives as those commenting here have not even done any research to find the facts on these things.

    PS–Jason, I have a lot of respect for you. You are a great guy and running a good ministry. But, I was very surprised by your post here. I thought you were more nuanced than that. The word “gay” simply means someone who is predominately and persistently attracted to the same-sex. John is simply describing his reality of having persistent, unchanging attractions. I am not sure why you find that difficult to understand. But then, that is one of the problems I have with the ex-gay movement is that there is so much mental gymnastics to try to avoid stating simple reality.

  16. StraightGrandmother says:

    John Smid = “I received an email from a pastor that has been at odds with my writings. He said:

    “John, maybe the problem is that these gay folks just haven’t prayed long enough to fight against this and win the victory.”

    StraightGrandmother = I tell you what you do John offer to test the theory, by the Pastor has to participate. Have a “Prayer Off.” (like a cook off)

    Tell him that you will get down on your knees every day and pray 3 hours a day to become heterosexual. The Pastor has to do likewise, and he has to pray every day for 3 hours a day to ask the Lord to become homosexual. Ask him how many hours, or days, or weeks, or years of prayer it would take for him to become homosexual.

    I’m not even gay and I think that is about the silliest thing I have ever read, “Just pray harder.” I know our natural sexual orientation cannot be changed because I know for CERTAIN that no matter how hard I tried, I could never EVER be sexually attracted to a woman. So why would I think the reverse is true? There has to be some practicality here, acceptance that “some people are gay” and that is just the way it is.

    The Bible is not infallible it has scientific errors in it. Furthermore Christ NEVER spoke about homosexuality. The Apostle Paul in his time and era, did not know about homosexuality like we know about it. So for the guy who keeps asking for direct Biblical reference that homosexuality is A-ok I would simply say that Paul got it wrong. He did not know what we know today and you are just going to have to skip that part. Look to the words of Christ. Paul was NOT created perfect, Paul is NOT without sin, Paul is NOT without error. Look to Christ the perfect one. What did he say about it?

    For all the “inerrant word of God” folks, you are going to have to give it up because there are other errors in the Bible and you don’t hold that against the Bible. Just add this to the list.

  17. Rick Brentlinger says:

    @ Jeff

    Comparing homosexuality to pedophilia is a false argument because, to defend your premise:

    1. You must argue that pedophilia is a legitimate, immutable and innate form of sexual expression, which it is not.

    2. You must argue that pedophilia is recognized by the medical, religious and social sciences communities as a legitimate sexual orientation. They recognize homosexuality but pedophilia is not a sexual orientation but a paraphilia, a complex psychiatric disorder which manifests in deviant sexual behavior with children.

    3. You must argue that pedophilia deserves equal treatment under the law in spite of the fact that children are incapable of informed legal consent.

    For these, among many reasons, your comparison falls apart.

  18. Howard W. Hervey says:

    Hello Everyone. In an attempt to clarify where I am talking from, I will say this. The ONLY question I feel that is important to answer, is How does God feel about our acting out on our same sex attractions. What I hear John and others saying is God is happy with it, not only is he happy with it it created people to have these attractions, and will give His blessing to a same sex union. I can not find in scripture where this is the case. If we can change our attractions or not is in the central point. The Bible is clear, certian behavior, regularly practiced will keep people out of the kingdom of God. God does not ask the person with same sex attractions to do anything that he does not ask a hetrosexual to do, to wit: maintain sexual purity. The fact that John is married shows that a person who has same sex attractions is not limited to only a homosexual relationship. We as Christians are mandated to submitt all aspects os our life to the Lordship of Jesus, this includes our sexuality. Please read my questions that I posted earlier and answer them for me.Thank you.

  19. John Smid says:

    Howard,

    One thing I’d like to address is what I think about the scripture you are speaking about. ! Cor. 6:9-11. I wrote an entire article dedicated to my thoughts on this passage.

    http://www.gracerivers.com/cor6-9-11/

    I completely agree that God is asking us to submit our lives to him, our sexuality, and our relationships. But at the same time, none of us does this perfectly so then in most of our lives there has to be a grace that covers that! If not, then we would all be under the curse. But, those of us who are Christians, are not under the curse no matter what we have done, do, or will do. It is either all covered, or it is not. This of course takes into consideration that we continue to know we need His grace to move forward. (I’ve written extensively on this too.)

  20. John Smid says:

    The question and comment on this was “where did homosexuality come from?” So, my comparison to being born blind was basically that of the fact that some things come into our lives from birth. If it is from birth, drawing the similarities, then was it for kingdom purposes? I can see all kinds of kingdom purposes in homosexuality. The impact on our culture, people, friends, families, can be tremendously positive as we learn more about ourselves, God, His grace, and overall kingdom lessons. But far too often we are arguing over where it came from just like the man’s parents and friends who constantly asked the question, “who sinned to cause this man to be born blind?”

    Regarding creating a special group; when people do not feel heard, validated, and significant, they can become a clanging gong in the attempt to find someone who will listen. The gay community has been stuffed, barricaded, silenced, and misunderstood for a very long time. In my experience when someone is finally heard, they calm down and assimilate into the lives of others. I do not assume the gay within community will get louder as we validate their lives, rather I believe the opposite will be the case. This too, has been my experience.

    May I make one more point? Homosexuality is not just about sex. I hear this perspective all of the time, “Well, it’s just about who you sleep with.” I am trying to communicate that it is far more than that. It is a unique aspect of who we are that may or may not even include sexual behavior. Like I have tried to say, it is a filter in my life of experience that has been a reality my entire life. I didn’t have any sex before my first marriage at 19. I was intrinsically different my entire childhood in ways that many often call “pre-homosexual” or the homosexual orientation.

    Much like the younger generation of those who are gay today say: “We don’t like the word ‘homosexual’ because it has sex in the middle of it.” They like “gay” because it is about more of who they are sans, the sex.

  21. John Smid says:

    Randall,

    One thing I have always appreciated about you, and have experienced myself, is your ability to love people, listen to their hearts, and continue to build further relationship with them. This shows in your response here.

  22. Tobias says:

    @John: I do understand that you don’t want to reply to Jeff’s post bringing up pedophilia. However, I somehow understand his thinking (which does not seem to condemn homosexual relationships per se). I also find it difficult when I hear an argument that goes like “I am this way, therefore God made me this way, therefore it is good”. Maybe a good comparison would be somebody who has a very choleric nature.

    So, don’t get me wrong. I’m living in a same-sex relationship and I believe there are good arguments for it. I just think that Jeff is right that we have to be careful with the above mentioned argument.

  23. John Smid says:

    Tobias,
    Your comment aligns with something that has been questioned all through the ages. If something is present at birth, is it “God ordained”, “God allowed”, or “a curse from the enemy?”

    The way I take it is that if something is present at birth, it is present at birth. Then, I believe that God can turn anything around for good in His kingdom as we seek Him and love Him, allowing it to be turned into something that is good.

    I can’t say that being born gay is intrinsically good any more than any other aspect of being born as a fallen human being. We are all born into imperfect lives. There are many trials that come along with being born gay and many of us can attest to that.

    However, I have seen God do some amazing things in the lives of those who are gay and some would then say, it has been a good thing.

    John

  24. Rog and Sue DeRaad says:

    John,

    Up until now, we’ve been in touch privately only, but we just cannot keep silent any longer.

    This message is for the Glory of God and to all of those men and women, wives, children, and parents who may have lost hope through reading your blogs, we clearly have some real and encouraging facts to share from our life experience that directly gives credibility to God’s promises in scripture and to the Heart of God.

    I (Roger) was among those that God clearly directed to Love In Action. (God doesn’t make mistakes) We (my wife and I) came into Love in Action with a broken marriage. Let me share with your readers a little of my (our) journey. Like I said, I was a client of the ministry and had struggled with homosexuality for 30 some years. My wife and I, at that time, had been married for 21 years and had two children in college. While in search for some help and after researching other programs and ministries, without a doubt, God clearly directed us to Love in Action.

    We both quit our jobs (mine was a job of 21 years) and moved to Memphis trusting God for whatever He had for us at that time. At times it felt as though my insides were being ripped out and at times it was a haven of rest, a safe place. Yes, your right, there were times both of us felt wounded, not necessarily by you but by having our lives in the hands of imperfect people. However, in those times we grew in trust and hope in the God that brought us there.

    After my graduation, we worked for the ministry for 4 years. Only after leaving LIA, and another fall on my part, did we come to understand fully that LIA was only a tool and that the God of the Universe was our true source of strength and healing not the ministry of LIA. We understood that our sanctification would be over a lifetime. Meaning that Yes, faithfulness was required in marriage, but the daily fight and choices would be a lifetime of surrendering. During the next 2 years especially, it was basically just God, my wife and myself. He brought us to a new level of healing apart from LIA.

    Yes John, you and Vileen were a special part of that time because God was also doing a new work in you, as you offered your friendship to us. From your own lips, you’ve stated that through this time, God brought you to a deeper understanding of grace. Praise God! You are the one who brought the understanding to us that bad choices on my part may end our marriage, but would not have to end my walk into healing and life. To this day, He continues to heal, change and restore me(us). And YES John, I said CHANGE!!

    He loves me so much that He is committed to bringing me to a life that is blessed and abundant. He knows what pain will be mine if I continue to pursue my own way apart from Him and His word. He does promise me that when I came to know Him the “old things” were passed away and behold “new things” came. I am a new creature. He also instructs me to renew my mind. He doesn’t say my mind was made new. My old mind was programmed to sin, but I am responsible to turn away from that and trust God to renew it with everything that is right, pure, lovely and honorable. I choose that everyday for myself, I have to! In choosing Him rather than my own selfish thoughts and desires, I honor myself, my wife, my family and my God.

    CHANGE does not occur over night, nor does it occur over a month or a year. But as I trust God and remain open and faithful to Him, the CHANGE happens over time. (that’s sanctification) Today my struggle with unhealthy sexual desires is less and less everyday. I am not hiding in my behavior or thoughts, I am not forgetting the work that has been done nor ignoring the work that is still needed. He gives me only what I can handle each day. (paraphrased) God is not finished with me, yet…I am living a victoriously most of the time with my wife of almost 33 years. I am living in a close, loving, open and honest relationship with my two adult children, their spouses and my soon to be 8 grandchildren.

    I am not one in a million, yes His work in my life has been miraculous, but it came with a lot of hard work and a grueling commitment to Him. The hard work in itself would have been fruitless and defeating. God’s miraculous power, without my commitment would have also been in vane. I was created with a choice.

    I also praise the Lord for the healing that has been done in the relationships we have with my in-laws, my parents and our siblings. We are TRULY BLESSED, not because we have done everything right, but because we have a God who offers GRACE, FORGIVENESS and TRUTH! (Each as important as the next)

    As revelations 12:11 a & b states, “And they overcame him (Satan) because of the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony…” This is the Word of our Testimony! To God be the Glory!

    John, because we love you and call you friend,

    Roger and Sue

  25. John Smid says:

    Roger and Sue,
    What you are speaking about is the abundance of God’s grace, His unique love for each of us, all of us. It was the grace of God that worked deeply in me in order to be able to walk alongside you during some very difficult times. It was your life experience that God used to begin a much deeper personal understanding of how God loves us, forgives us, and never leaves us nor forsakes us.

    You see, Grace Rivers was born in my heart when I saw your broken life that needed just to be loved unconditionally, without expectations or demands. It was when I sat with you on a heart changing occasion that I saw how my previous life of judgment and critical ways had been wrong.

    After my own personal revelation and while I was still at Love In Action, I fought for the implementation of grace for you and your family and found resistance on every side. I argued against a legalistic system in the attempt to get others to respond to you with the heart of God. But discovered it quickly became a very lonely place. I decided in my heart that you needed to have someone who would love you, no matter what. I am thankful for that decision. My life has never been the same since.

    I have always marveled at your lives, your family, and your incredible ability to follow your convictions no matter what!

    Sadly, not everyone’s stories are like yours. There are those whose lives follow different tracks than yours has. God’s grace is as abundant for them as it was for you. Maybe their walk is a longer journey, or one with a different destination.

    Roger and Sue, you have an extraordinary friendship with each other, an extraordinary marriage, an extraordinary family, and an extraordinary life. It reveals an abundance of God, and an abundance of grace, and an abundance of constitution. Maybe the frigid winters of Northern Minnesota, where you were raised, built a “healthy” stock!

    Your story is one to celebrate for sure. It is one that amazing, romantic and breath taking. It is something movies are made of, only yours is true.

    As I invest in the lives of people who are gay, it is the foundation that was built in our relationship that gives me the impetus to keep loving people and walking alongside them as I did with you. No judgment, no criticism, and the trust that God is big enough, strong enough, and loving enough to know what is best for them.

    I am no longer the one in charge of their lives, as I was released from being in charge of your life.

  26. Rog and Sue DeRaad says:

    John,

    We agree with everything you have said in response. We need to say…our situation was not special or to be compared to anyone elses. It was NOT a fairytale. It was painful and grueling as I stated, but we fought for what felt like our lives and God met us! In that, yes God is glorious and worthy of praise! We can trust Him with our lives, no matter what our situation. We have at a smaller level, contacted several past clients in which we had influence and for some asked their forgiveness and for others reconnected because we care and love them. Not to question their sobriety or try to change them…that’s between them and God, but as we pray for them and with them…God gives us the opportunity to speak truth with a loving heart not a judgemental one. We have so much love and compassion for anyone who struggles with homosexuality or any other thing that brings a person such pain. In our opinion, homosexuality should not to be set apart as something worse or different. Grace is not to be tainted by giving permission to sin.

  27. tim warner says:

    In my attempt to understand the questions, responses, and positions stated here on John’s blog, it occurred to me that there is an applicable scriptural scene which addresses those here who agree with John, who disagree with John, who understand what he is saying, and who misunderstand what he is saying.

    At the end of the Gospel of John, Jesus is talking with Peter,asking him if he loves Him. Then Peter brings up the issue of the Apostle John as he looks at him over there somewhere, and asks the Lord, “Well, what about this guy Lord?”

    We have to presume in the context that Peter was asking about John’s death,(after hearing Jesus describe Peter’s own death) but more deeply, how Jesus was going to ‘deal’ with the Apostle John, in comparison and contrast to how Jesus is dealing with Peter.

    And then Jesus tells Peter , essentially, what business is it of yours, Peter, what I do with John and how I deal with him? Your obligation is to follow me.

    So I don’t want to twist the scripture to say something which it isn’t saying, but if you read it yourselves, you might see that there is Jesus way of dealing with Peter, which might be completely different than the way Jesus is dealing with John the Apostle. But the essence or principle is that John is following Jesus, and Peter is following Jesus, though their particular life’s circumstances may differ and contrast greatly.

    So I can sit in judgement of any number of folks and say in my heart to God, “well, how come they do such and such and call themselves Christians, i.e. say they are following You, when You tell me that this is your will for me and it is quite different?”

    And Jesus says, “Hey, Tim, don’t worry about ______. You follow ME!”

    And there I see that it’s all I can do to live in my personal covenant relationship with The Lord, do what He asks ME to do, follow Him where He asks ME to go.

    So, is it possible that God has saved and called homosexual men and women to follow Him and is it possible that each of their particular paths might be at odds with one or the other’s particular paths? To make it very plain here…. is it possible God has saved and called Roger and Sue to follow their path which might be different than John’s? And Harvey’s path might be different than Straight Grandmother’?

    And Tobias’ path might be different than mine? yet we are certain of one thing we have in common. We are all called to follow Jesus. That’s what we need to be encouraging each other to do… regardless of who we are, and what we are. There a comes a point where I have to realize God is the One calling, saving, directing, leading, guiding, convicting, changing, and so forth, – all the things which God uses and does in a person’s life here on earth- however He chooses. All I am specifically told to do, by Jesus, is to love my neighbor and to love God.

  28. Jason Patch says:

    Jason Thompson:
    Excellent comparison and points. Very well said.

  29. Michael Watt says:

    Tim,

    Great insight!

  30. Nathan Alpaugh says:

    As I have been reading over your blogs for the last few years, it has been encouraging to see the changes in you. After my time in the LIA program, I came to realize just how legalistic, demanding, and dare I say, unforgiving the organization was and had become.

    Personally, I do not remember LIA saying that it was possible for someone with gay attractions could be made straight. If that was said, I must have been out in left field picking dandelions…lol. I do know that “change” was constantly mentioned. I took that to mean that I would grow more in Christ, not that my attractions would magically dissipate….although I had hoped that when I first came to LIA.

    However, your talk on the homosexual myth actually gave me encouragement. I was always comparing myself to the “straight” guys around me. Somehow thinking that because of my gay attractions, that I was less than them and unworthy of being forgiven. What I took away from the homosexual myth was that I am simply a man…..broken beyond repair with out the help of God and others. The way you described it then, I guess it just clicked for me, and I started to accept myself more.

    Do I still view myself as gay, yes. But I am also, selfish, manipulative, controlling, a son, a brother, lost, and the list goes on. The more I have gotten to know the “straight” world, I have seen just how screwed up that can be and that it’s not any different from my life. I was arrogant and ignorant to think that it was that much different/worse.
     
    I feel like I am rambling, so I apologize if you’re having a hard time tracking my thoughts.
     
    The thing that hurt the most, when I parted ways with LIA, was when I upped and moved my life for the 2nd time to move back to Memphis to seek help again. I had not been in the outpatient program hardly a month before I was kicked out of the program. My only options then were to go to the community support group and one on one counseling with Nathan. Eventually, the community support was taken away. That is what hurt the most and has scared me since then.

    I took a risk to seek out help, and all I was shown were your backs. That included Roger and Sues. I was left there alone to rot in my own misery. All I wanted was just someone to sit with me and accept me where I was. When I met Roger for breakfast one morning, and he couldn’t even accept me without conditions, I was done. I’ve hated my life ever since and not been able to open up and trust anyone fully for fear that there would always be judgement and conditions I would need to meet to be a part of anyone’s life.

    I feel crippled by many of these thoughts today, always expecting myself to fail and no one there to help me or listen. While I am grateful that you have opened your heart since leaving LIA, I am still hurt and angered by my experience with the staff at LIA. I wish I had had the heart/strength to bring all this up when I last met you in Memphis back in Jan/Feb 2008. I hate who I’ve become and I hate how alone I am all the time. Maybe this isn’t the place for me to have posted this, but I wanted Rog, Sue and Jason P to see it as well.

  31. John Smid says:

    Nathan, I am so sorry we couldn’t have talked about this when you were in Memphis. I am grieved that all of this happened. This is at the core of why I am spending the time and energy to acknowledge that things I am in the public forum I am doing it.

    While I wasn’t present for the conversations you have mentioned, I can acknowledge that I established a system where conditions for relationship and such were often the model of ministry.

    I am not saying that there aren’t times when healthy boundaries are needed, but I know you! I know your heart, and I completely understand why you needed what you said you did at the time.

    I am so sorry, Nathan. If and when you feel you have the courage to contact me so that I can talk personally about all of this, please do.

    John

  32. Jason Patch says:

    Nathan, I have no idea why you mentioned my name in your post. Am I missing something?

  33. Jason Patch says:

    Nathan,
    I realize that my previous post to you may have sounded insensitive. That was not my intention. I am sad for you and am sorry for how you feel about your life right now. I was just confused as to why you specifically mentioned my name in your post. Was there a specific reason you wanted me to read your post?

  34. Cassidy Patch says:

    Great posts Howard! You put into words the questions I had in my heart. Bottom line is the Bible trumps personal feelings and personal insight. Bible = Truth.

  35. Wendy Danbury says:

    Dear Howard, Cassidy, and any others who are concerned about the Bible’s stance on homosexuality,

    I was raised in a conservative Presbyterian church, one that emphasized the primacy of the Bible as the Word of God. By the time I had fallen in love with my best friend, who is gay, I was extremely well-versed in all the scriptures pertaining to… well, just about everything, including human sexuality.

    Fortunately, Christ’s call to love others as ourselves, and my deep friendship with my friend, meant that when he came out as gay (in the 1980s, when we were in our 20s), it did not rupture our friendship (although it threw me, and took me a while to adjust to!). Unfortunately, some of my friend’s family members and many of the people at our church rejected him, and he moved to L.A., depriving the choir of a beautiful tenor voice, and leaving a hole in my heart.

    During this time, I had begun dating a newcomer to our congregation — a straight man — and we fell in love. We have now been married 26 years, and have two wonderful grown sons who make us very proud. I include this information because I am grateful to have a life that most would consider “normal,” and I hope that for my friend, and for millions like him, any committed long-term relationship between loving adults, regardless of gender, will one day be considered normal.

    Although I lost contact with my best friend for several years, God kept putting other gay people in my path: co-workers, neighbors, etc., and I have become close friends with many of them. I can tell you that “By their fruits, you shall know them.” They are the most loving, accepting, wonderful people I have ever had the privilege of knowing, and I believe it’s because they have come through the trauma of rejection by church and family, and have accepted who they are as God created them.

    My best friend once told me that during a low point in his teenage years, he was feeling suicidal because he was different from everyone around him, but my friendship and positive outlook cheered him up. I got goosebumps when he told me that, because I never would have guessed that he had been so low, or that I could have been such a blessing.

    So – back to the Bible – I have recently discovered a resource for those who ask the questions that have been posed here: http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/the-bible-and-homosexuality-biblical-presentation-with-matthew-vines/

    If you are seeking truth, with love, take the time to watch the video. The Canyonwalkerconnections website has a lot of good information for anyone who wants more information on this topic.

    I hope this helps. At a bare minimum, I hope that those who are still seeking God’s word in this area will be cognizant of how their attitudes can affect those around them. Please consider the idea that, by clinging to your beliefs, you may have put the almighty God in a box. He created us; it is not for us to decide why some are created differently, or who is worthy of fellowship.

    Please be open and welcome all who seek God, regardless of who they happen to be attracted to. “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” And my favorite Bible verse is I Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

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