I Acknowledge! – Part One

I Acknowledge! – Part One

JohnSmidPensiveB&W#1In March of 2010 I compiled and published a public apology in response to some soul searching I had been going through. I have since done a more in depth evaluation of things that I feel regretful about concerning my 23 years as a leader within the “ex-gay” movement.


I have decided to attempt to put into words a more detailed communication of those things that are most significant for me to acknowledge. I have been wrong and have made mistakes that I feel I must take responsibility for. It is my goal to write out a separate document for each item that will explain my heart, and personal evaluation on these things.


I Acknowledge

Through my overt and covert alignment with the presumed message of change through the “ex-gay” movement, I want to acknowledge that I have communicated through teaching, private conversation and public venues that someone who is gay is less than someone created in God’s image. I acknowledge that I was a covert messenger of the false hope for a change in sexual orientation from gay to straight. I perpetuated a message that gave the perception that if someone tried hard enough they would experience a new heterosexual desire that would replace their same sex desires.


Please allow me to explain further why I have come to this conclusion.


If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God. 1 john 1:8-10 (The Message)


The Foundation of the Ex-gay Movement

I want to set the stage in a way that I think will frame this for you. I believe the ex-gay movement began as a connecting point for individuals who desired to reach people within the gay community with the love of Christ. Fairly quickly, individuals within the founding members began to hope that God had the desire, and the power to “deliver” them from homosexuality which for many included the hope they might be able to become straight.


As they vocalized their desires some grabbed on to this message in such a way that it became the central message of the ex-gay movement. The ex-gay movement in association with the “faith” doctrine that became prominent in the 1970’s (meaning if we claim it in Jesus Name, He will bring it to pass if we have the faith to believe it will occur) began to proclaim “change” through Jesus Christ. This concept of change also became extremely ambiguous and was defined differently by each individual but maintained a very generic statement.


Through Prayer, Faith, Obedience – Is Change is Possible?

Now for almost 40 years, men and women throughout the world have sought God for change that they hoped would include a change in orientation from homosexual to straight. They believed this could occur through faith in Jesus, prayer, counseling, changes in sexual behavior, and obedience to God.


This intimate desperation was often fueled by an inner belief that as gay men and women , they were intrinsically flawed, broken, damaged goods, and certainly less than God’s best. The desire to change came with the hope that somehow a transformation from gay to straight might allow for an upgrade on God’s list of approved people. If straight people were better, more loved and closer to God then people who are gay would do anything they could to achieve this change.


Built on a False Hope

So, ex-gay ministries began to sail on the faith filled hope of those that came to them with the desire for intrinsic changes in their sexual desires. In some ministries, unorthodox counseling and prayer practices were used to manipulate more hope for change. Most often these strange actions were quick to go away. But the faith in change from gay to straight continued. Though it was not always spoken boldly, many remained hopeful they would see it happen for themselves.


Christian communities and churches also loved the message of change for people who were gay. Certainly many of them were motivated to help their friends. But for some who didn’t really cherish the thought of embracing gay people into their church, they hoped if they could become straight it would take away the difficulty of “dealing” with homosexuality.


Families and Loved Ones

Parents became a strong thread through the ex-gay movement. Their prayers were fervent; deeply seated in pain, confusion and for many, embarrassment. There were even some parents who believed as long as their children were gay, they could never make it into God’s eternal resting place. I heard a mom tell me in a group meeting, “You mean I can pray for my son’s salvation? I thought all gays were an abomination and had no hope for eternal life with Jesus.”


Based on love from Christian parents and their heartfelt desire to see their gay loved ones relieved of the burden of homosexuality, they became a backbone of many ministries around the country. Parents became invested in the message of change through God’s amazing power to do anything if they prayed and believed. They hoped that God would change their loved ones homosexual orientation.


With All of My Heart, I Wanted It!

When I was a new Christian a friend of mine invited me to an event where the minister promised deliverance to those involved in homosexuality. I girded up my heart and attended the event, but I didn’t get my miracle. I saw no change in my sexual desires and my hope quickly turned to disappointment and depression.


A year or so later, I discovered ex-gay ministries. I got the opportunity to become a staff member for a nationally known ministry, Love In Action. Upon my arrival, I found leaders, churches, and individuals who held tightly to the message of change. The leader, Frank Worthen, was in fact himself married to a woman. That was certainly appeared to be a model of change to strive for.


We spoke of change often. We prayed for deliverance, and worked through teaching material that was described as “Steps Out Of Homosexuality.” All of the terminology, the structures, and the conversations centered around the hope that at some point, somehow, God would set us free from  what was described as the “bondage of homosexuality.”


I became deeply invested in the hope that God would set people free and began to answer phone calls, counsel men and women, and later became the director for the ministry that proclaimed freedom for the homosexual. I did find freedom from unhealthy relationships and patterns of manipulation and sexual promiscuity. I praise God for what He has done, but I found no change in orientation.


Along the way, I attended conferences, went through some of my own private counseling, prayed, studied and read books that all promised that I would eventually find the freedom I was looking for. In faith, I believed it would come true and therefore offered others the same message for their own lives.


We stood together as “brothers” along the road. We believed it was absolutely necessary to have a good support team who agreed with us, and walked the path alongside us. It was clear that we could not allow any messages from the outside to infiltrate our minds so as to thwart our hope for what we believed God was going to do. I clung to the belief and hope that over time, I would eventually see more internal changes.


The Life of Denial Began

Along the way I struggled with my own internal thoughts, attractions and desires. I believed it would be wrong to talk about them and fearful that if I did, I would somehow ruin the testimony that God was creating within me. I didn’t hear of anyone else that was talking about their own remaining attractions. Well, at least not amongst the leadership. I thought surely they had found what I was hoping for so it was important to continue pressing on.


There were group members and people who would call us that talked about their attractions, but our job was to build up their faith that God could, and would change all of that if they believed He could, and would. It was important that they also did the right things to obey God along the way.


The Cathartic Dream

One night I dreamed that I was in a large Gothic cathedral. A very strange female preacher was pointing her finger at the congregation saying loudly, “You’re Gay! Admit it, Your’re Gay!” I was sitting with some friends and immediately I stood in defiance and said, “I will not sit here and listen to this.” My friends said, “John, sit down, you need to hear everything she is saying.”


When I awoke the next morning, life was different. I seemed to gain the conviction through this dream that I had to be honest about what I was feeling inside regardless of what others would say about my honesty. The preacher was right, I remained attracted to men as I always had been. Prior to that dream, I was adamant not to be honest. From that time forward I continued to talk freely and honestly about what change was for me, and what it wasn’t. But the overarching message of the ministry and ex-gay movement continued to covertly say, “you can change.” In my mind I was no longer dishonest but didn’t realized the many ways I was still a representative of a faulty message that was giving a false hope for a change in sexual orientation.


That year, 1995, I gave a plenary session talk at the national Exodus conference titled “Honesty, is it the best policy?”  It was in this talk that I revealed to the entire audience that I was still experiencing homosexual attractions and challenged the listeners to a deeper level of honesty.  My talk angered some but thankfully, it gave hope to many others.  One young lady from Australia stepped up to me afterwards. She said, “John, thank you so much for your authenticity.  Last night I had almost given up hope on God and myself. But today, I have a renewed belief that God loves me and I can continue.” Well, I guess being honest was a good thing!  I was also motivated to continue to be honest.


Regrets Begin

As I look back over all of those years, I regret the years of my own dishonesty. I acknowledge that through my own weakness I was fearful of stepping out and becoming more honest that change of sexual orientation, barring a miracle of God, was not a reality for most people. I failed to recognize the duplicitous message within our communication. “You can change, but I haven’t” was something, I am sorry, but I didn’t see coming out of our ministry.


At Love In Action, we leased a billboard  with a giant picture of me on it. We had it for one year in central Memphis near the gay community. With great pride I had my picture on top of a huge building with the words which read:


“I Used To Be A Homosexual” (1 Cor. 6:9-11)


There was literally no response from the display. No one came to our ministry running to find freedom because they saw my giant picture and those verses referenced.  I’ve thought about that many times since and realized it was deceptive!  I didn’t used to be a homosexual.  I was still homosexual and to proclaim something that was untrue was something that I don’t believe God could bless. It was dishonest! If you’d like to read my understanding of those verses, (click here) for the article.


I also must be clear that sexual desires fall on a continuum. For some who experience same gender attractions, they may also experience satisfying sexual attractions to those of the opposite sex. I do not consider this “change.” Rather it is a result of the uniqueness in human sexuality. It is commonly called “bi-sexuality.” It is very hard to place people into a box of one versus another.


The teachings, and the message of the ex-gay movement often opened the door for some to believe that someone who is gay is less valuable to God and less loved by Him as they are, therefore change was seen as desirable, and for some, necessary. It is easy to understand that if there is so much emphasis on change, then it is easy for someone to believe that God would be happier with them if they were straight.



If you are gay, you are loved by God as you are. The homosexual orientation is no one’s choice and it does not in any way take away from God’s desire to know you, love you and save you from an eternity without Him. Everyone is born intrinsically flawed and in need of God’s redemption through Christ, No one is any further away from God than another and all are equally able to seek Jesus for the salvation of their lives.


**********************

So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!


Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. Hebrews 12:12-15 ( The Message)

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35 Responses to “I Acknowledge! – Part One”

  1. John says:

    John,

    Thanks for explaining your journey of understanding. I do appreciate the honesty.

    I like how you said it’s a continuum. That’s quite a different paradigm than a flip switch, and it is more in line with the idea of sanctification.

    I’m curious. Are you differentiating between attraction and activity? Heterosexuals experience temptations daily to commit actions that are immoral, but with the Holy Spirit have the power to escape the temptation without falling prey to it, though sometimes they do choose to give in. Consequences always follow a sinful decision very naturally.

    I would think homosexuals would be tempted daily as well, but also have the power to abstain through the Holy Spirit, though sometimes choose to give in.

    What is your understanding of this?

    John

  2. Gene says:

    John,
    Can someone change? I sure hope so.

    I hear in your writing that I should be honest with where I am. I couldn’t agree more. My issue/struggle, pursuit of freedom, is not same gender attraction, it is heterosexual porn. For me to step toward freedom I had to cut off shame and guilt. I had to stop making promises of perfection.

    The adversary wanted me to follow my failure with a promise of, “I will never do that again!” This was the set up for shame, one of the adversary’s best tools, and guaranteed my next failure. My solution was to have a conversation with Jesus and ask Him, “What was that all about?” but NO PROMISES. I think when I failed He was about as upset with me as I am with my two year old grand-daughter when she poops her diaper. I know with maturity she will get it right.

    As you have written, I am not defined by my behavior, but who I am in Jesus. Absolutely! It is not about the rules, but unfortunately that does not mean there are no consequences.

    I have the greatest respect for the struggles of same gender attraction. From my scripture readings, it appears not to be part of the perfect plan. But where does it go from there? I don’t know. Can I be a follower of Jesus if I have nagging things that won’t go away, or even appear to be woven into the fiber of my being? For me, yes.

    I counsel those enmeshed in porn, as their first step, to go deep into their spirit and pursue Jesus, and ask Him, what now? Abstinence is not the first step. But it is important to be in a group, have good teaching and be real with where you are. Commit to being real!. And when I have to fake success, I am going backwards. This is not a 16 week course, with a certificate and graduation; it is a lifetime process. I am committed to not calling the question, am I perfect yet? And when I must call the question, usually it is driven by my pride.

    Adam and Eve made excuses, justified, and covered up with a fig leaf when they went to talk with God. I want to live without a fig leaf. I call it spiritual skinny dipping.

    Can someone change? I sure hope so. I hope there is freedom for all behavior issues called out in scripture, but maybe my ultimate freedom only comes with my last breath. But in the mean time, Jesus loves me and I love Jesus.

    I applaud your spiritual skinny dipping.
    Gene

  3. Dennis Franck says:

    John,

    You have been a dear friend of mine and co-worker in the Kingdom for many years. We have many great memories of ministry together in Omaha in the mid 80’s when you were in the early years of leaving the lifestyle.

    I appreciate your honesty and forthrightness, also. I think I understand how God COULD and sometimes DOES leave a person male or female, the way he/she is, with their sexual tendencies and attraction to the same sex. I DO NOT BELIEVE HE COUND NOT CHANGE THE PERSON to have a heterosexual attraction, however. He COULD if he wanted to…

    I understand the struggle as a heterosexual…sometimes struggling with the attraction towards other females besides my wife. God has not rescued me from the FACT of temptation….He CAN and DOES rescue me from the ACT of temptation, though, as I cooperate with Him and the Holy Spirit. Just as I can and NEED to have victory over temptation as a heterosexual, others can and NEED to have victory over temptation as homosexuals.

    I DO encourage you (the readers of this comment) to stress the difference between ATTRACTION AND ACTIONI in all sexual orientations, as John mentioned above. I believe it is important for all of us to realize our responsibility to NOT FALL to temptation. My understanding of Romans 1 is that those who PRACTICE and CONTINUE in sin will not inherit eternal life with the Lord, just as anyone continuing to commit other sins will not. You, I, or no one but God can determine the definition of “continue”….In other words, how LONG a person continues to sin and eventually loses out with God is up to Him. “Shall not the God of the earth do right?”

    I Timothy 4; 11-16 exhorts us to be an example in speech, conduct, love, faith etc and explains to “keep a close watch on yourself and…persist in this for by so doing, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

    Hebrews 10:26 If we sin willfully after we have recieved the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins. This verse is somewhat of a mystery to me, however, has some bearing on this issue, and ANY type of sin.

    The Lord will deal with us according to His Word….He is greacious and longsuffering, much more than WE are! It IS IMPERATIVE, though, that we endeavor to live a pure life in all areas. Both homosexual and heterosexual Christians need to practice this.

  4. Alan Chambers to be part of a panel at Gay Christian Network conference — Warren Throckmorton says:

    [...] Marks, Gritter and Smid have issued apologies for their advocacy of the ex-gay movement over the past several years. Smid today sent an email to his mailing list linking to another apology on his website. [...]

  5. Jon Trouten says:

    Dennis: I’ll tell you what. You give up your wife and I’ll give up my husband.

  6. Dawn Killion says:

    So John I guess what I am hearing you say is that you now believe it is okay to be gay and Christian ? so a person who has same sex attractions can just relax and accept that is just the way it is, in fact there is no reason to change, because in your understanding change is not possible?

    Does this mean I could go back to participating in the lesbian lifestyle and I would not be in any danger of being judged by God because being gay is not a sin? or does this just mean the orientation part is okay but it is still a sin to act on your homosexual desires? since you are still attracted to men do you plan on acting on those attractions? surely since you are advising others to do so why would you hold back, if you really are gay why are you carrying on the pretense of being in a heterosexual marriage ?

    you are being honest, so am I , these are honest questions. I am just trying to figure out in plain language what you are really saying. I think you contribute too many ideas to ex-gay ministries…if you really think about it, it is the bible that tells us homosexuality is a sin, and , it is the bible that tells us change is possible, not just from homosexuality but from all sorts of stuff, murder, lying, stealing, adultery, slander, pride, the list goes on. so it comes down to this, do you believe what the bible says or not?

    Jesus made it pretty clear that the world would hate his followers because they would not be of the world system…he told us not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds through the reading of his word, the bible. but it seems you see this differently as well, that true freedom in Christ means embracing who you are as a gay person, that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ…is this true John, is that really what you believe ?

    in 1981 I gave my life to Christ, the first few years there were many struggles with same sex attractions but as the years have gone by healing has taken place, yes healing John because homosexuality is a type of brokenness, and Jesus came to mend the broken hearted, and I praise him because he has healed me, and I am not gay anymore. I don’t have to pretend, or fake anything….so John don’t count God out, don’t settle for less than the real truth, don’t give in John to the lies of the enemy. You are a born leader, I just hope and pray you will re-consider where it is you are leading people…the truth John, will set you free.

  7. Jaymax says:

    To Dennis and Gene.

    I don’t think you understand what homosexuality is at all if you are trying to compare innate sexual orientation like homosexuality to wanting to watch porn or being attracted to other women other than your wife. In fact, for gay people, it is a rather insulting and demeaning comparison.

    How would you feel if someone were to compare your loving committed relationships and shared lives with your wives, to someone who wants to watch porn all day?

    You are both innately heterosexual – which means you have an enduring emotional and sexual attraction to females that was pre-ordained by the way your brains developed in the uterus.

    The same goes for gay and lesbian people with others of the same gender. This attraction and the deep biological need for emotional connections through loving relationships is no different for gays and lesbians than it us for straight people.

  8. Steve B. says:

    John:

    You write, “I was a covert messenger of the false hope for a change in sexual orientation from gay to straight. I perpetuated a message that gave the perception that if someone tried hard enough, they would experience a new heterosexual desire that would replace their same sex desire.”

    John, I have known you since shortly after your move to Memphis and, several years later, was a client of Love-in-Action for 4-1/2 months.

    Let me be clear. You never taught that I or any other client would experience “a change in sexual orientation”. The message taught by you and your staff was that of a change in behavior achieved by walking closer with our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ.

    You are deceiving the readers of your blog in your vain attempts to make peace. Through deceit, you are attempting to make new friendships and connections in a community that once despised you.

    Through deceit, you are trashing the gospel and the message of hope.

    Through your own words of deception, you have been found out.

    May the LORD have mercy on your soul.

    Steve

  9. Freedom in Christ says:

    The above three commentators just don’t get it. Of course change is possible, and yes, we can all resist temptation to sin, but that there is no evidence that a change of orientation, from gay to straight, happens. Why is that so hard to comprehend?

    And certainly,it seems, that if God wanted to, He could make us all heterosexuals- but He doesn’t do it! So ask yourself why. That is clue number 1. No matter how much someone prays, believes in faith, surrenders to God, walks the talk, talks the walk, is held accountable in support groups, gets counseling, deals with their issues, confesses a lie, or even if they choose to marry the opposite sex- hoping that then it will happen and they will become heterosexual etc, etc, etc, if they are oriented gay, they remain so; there is not a change from gay to straight!

    How can that then be compared to sins people commit against each other, and sins in general? You people are comparing your sins and temptations against my orientation. There is no such comparison. Compare your need for a spouse and your natural desire for him/her, not your desire to cheat on him or her, or to use someone sexually or in any other way, or to degrade your mind with lust and womanizing in pornography, or some other weakness that destroys relationships.

    My love and commitment to my partner (ok,f I had one)is not a sin (your religion may state it is, but the Scripture in the original languages does not), just like your love and commitment to your life partner is not a sin. Wake up! Look at reality. Make comparisons based on reality and show some compassion for your fellow man.

    News flash: Your interpretation, and your faulty translation of Scripture is wrong. Look at the facts. Do the research, and wake the heck up- because your refusal to do so increases the injustice in this world and does nothing for the Kingdom of God, except perhaps to weaken its power.

    May the Truth reign, and may every falsehood be exposed in Jesus name. Amen.

  10. Dawn Killion says:

    there are people who have changed from being gay to heterosexual, I am one of them. so I don’t know what else to tell you. I feel that I am being judged by you because I have experienced true change and the truth is many, many others have too. so do I think if a person has tried to change and still experience same sex attractions that somehow they have failed, or that God has failed, not at all. what I think is we will always have things in our flesh nature as the bible calls it that we will struggle with.

    I am a recovered alcoholic, sometimes I want to drink but know I can’t, so I don’t. when same sex attractions happen through the power of Christ we resist the temptation to give into them. When a straight man or women who is married or not is tempted to have sex outside of marriage, or commit adultery we are to resist those things with the help of the Holy Spirit.

    I know how hard things get, been there, done that. but regardless, we are to obey Gods word no matter how we feel. so I guess again it boils down to if you believe the bible to be word for word from God or not. who is the Lord of our life? I find 1 Corinthians 6:11 to be one of the most beautiful scriptures in the whole bible ” such were some of you;but you were washed, but your were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

    I listened to the panel discussion at the GCN with John, Jeremy, Alan and not sure who the lady was…I use to live with John and Jeremy, I know John very well, we were in ministry together, and I love them. I will be praying for Gods truth to prevail. I do wish people would get off Alan’s back about wanting him to retract that people can’t change form gay to straight, because the can and they do. All things are possible with God.

  11. John Smid says:

    Dawn, I love you, appreciate your sweet and kind heart. I will always cherish the year we lived together at Love In Action.

    However, you made the statement “there are people who have changed from being gay to heterosexual, I am one of them.”

    Then later in the comment you said:

    “I am a recovered alcoholic, sometimes I want to drink but know I can’t, so I don’t. when same sex attractions happen through the power of Christ we resist the temptation to give into them”

    You also said “I feel that I am being judged by you because I have experienced true change and the truth is many, many others have too.”

    This is exactly my point! I am not in any way minimizing changes that occur as a result of our transformation in Christ. What I am saying is don’t say you changed from lesbian attractions to heterosexual when you continue to experience lesbian attractions.

    There is absolute power in Christ to obey Him, to walk with convictions you have received from Him and freedom to live as you choose to live.

    What I am adamant about here is that we not sell the image of change that is not a reality. I do want to proclaim that certainly if someone is convicted to live a celibate life then, they should follow their convictions even if they may be tempted. (Side B, Gay Christian Network).

    Alan Chambers (President of Exodus International) said clearly on the panel that 99.9% of those he has known or come through Exodus do not experience change from gay to straight.

    Herein lies, “The truth will set you free.” It is the lie that someone will experience change in their sexual orientation that quickly becomes bondage.

  12. Don Sloan Brown says:

    You know I’m getting old, at least by human standards. I know that God our Father loves us all. As Brennan Manning says, He has a furious longing for us. He has developed the faith I have. I learned a long time ago I couldn’t do that on my own. His word tells me to trust Him. I do. He can handle all of us. I want to see my fellow humans on this planet as He sees them. I’m glad to tell folks what he has done in my life. I know He will continue to draw people to Himself and that is His business. How and when is His business. For me, I don’t care if someone is gay or straight. My desire for them is that they know Jesus as their savior. Let’s focus on Life and Truth. He does tell us not to take of the tree of knowledge of good and evil to heart, but the tree of Life. Jesus is Life. In my life I try to do that. I accept the fact that the blood of Christ has covered my sin past, present , and future. Jesus gave me life so that I could live, not so I can be afraid of my sin all the time.

    John, I’m glad for your new focus. May God bless you as you continue to live for him!

    By the way, I am an Exodus leader and I love Exodus. It is changing and I’m very excited about that. I never really cared to be straight and never really thought one could change that. I learned to be content with my mixed orientation marriage of 35yrs! In ministry the first thing I always tell clients…..we are going to focus on our relationship with Jesus. I want people to learn to be thankful for a homosexual orientation. Without it I sometimes wonder if I would ever have known my true Father. What an adventure it has been!

  13. Dawn Killion says:

    thank you John for you kind words, we did have some fun times :) let me clarify something, you may have misunderstood. I do not have same sex attractions any more and haven’t for years. when I said that about same sex attractions I was making a general statement.I know it is hard to believe but really I haven’t had a single same sex attraction since 1998 or so. In fact I work with a lot of gay/lesbian persons, and truthfully I don’t identify with them at all.

    I am not in denial, in fact I wouldn’t mind finding a nice Christian man but alas I am now old and saggy, not much to look at, most men don’t give me a second look. but that’s okay too, because I am very content in my life, I enjoy my family and friends and the Lord fills me daily with his love and purpose, it’s a good thing. You know me well enough to know that if I was having same sex attractions I would be honest about that…but I’m not, and haven’t for many a year.

    so now that’s clear, I have changed and I am straight, and am glad for it. to the very core of my being I believe in Gods transforming power for everyone, no matter what there background.

    I met the Lord in a federal penitentiary, I saw the Lord do some pretty awesome things in peoples lives, I saw him take murderers, and drug dealers, bank robbers, and the like and completely turn their lives around, they, we, became new creatures in Christ, old things passed away, all things became new…and guess what, I am still walking in that new life today 31 years later. remember I was the Lesbian avenger who burned down the naval bldg. in protest of how the military treated gay people…that was 32 years ago John :)

    take care of yourself, and Vi, you will be in my prayers. love you – Dawnie

  14. John Smid says:

    Dawn,
    I never want to invalidate anyone life experience. Gay people have been invalidated for a lifetime, I don’t want to do that for those who talk about their life changes as you have.

    I believe you, and accept your story as you have described it. I also want you to know I believe in the same powerful God you do and have also seem incredible life changes over the years.

    I also want to say that your story is more common amongst women. I am not saying I fully understand all of the intrinsic differences amongst men and women, but it seems that for some women, their sexuality appears to be a little more fluid and changes have occurred.

    I must say, however, that for us guys, it seems that we are what we are in virtually all cases. Our compulsion to sex may wain and become less driving, but the attractions by far most often remain the same.

    There is also so much more to homosexuality than just sex, or sex attraction for many men. For me it is about an inner reality of who I am, how I experience life and relationships.

    I don’t know if you remember me talking about the dream I described in the article, but you were one of the people in my dream. Actually, you were the person who stood up and said, “John, you must accept what she is saying.” I find it hard to get that image out of my mind.

    Dawn, we have had a very personal relationship. I think those of us who have experienced homosexuality must remain connected. There are so few who truly understand what we have been through.

    You said you stood up for those who were mistreated in the military. Would you do that today? Are you aware of how many gay people are isolated, abused, alienated from those they have known? Would you be an advocate for gay people having rights to fair and equal treatment?

    Then, what about those within the Christian community? What about the throngs of gay people who have been rejected, thrown out, judged and criticized for something they really had no choice about? Would you welcome them into your Christian community with no judgement? Would you embrace their gifts, talents, and whatever they bring to the community?

    Have you ever realized how the church communities have missed a huge part of their “soul” because those that are gay are certainly not welcomed?

    This is about so much more than attraction, and sex. It’s about the diversity of God’s people that make up who we are as a family. Gay people have been known for years as being extremely relationship sensitive. In this sensitivity there is a discernment for people in pain, people being hurt, or people feeling separated or for those who just need a supportive hand.

    In believing in the miracle of God’s transformation, how would or could this ever happen for all of the gays that are living in gay communities who love God. Many of them feel so judged they could never enter back into the Christian community.

    Seemingly, all of those other “straight” people are welcomed with open arms. Their lives are able to take advantage of relationships, nurturing, and common experience with each other. But once again, people within the gay community who love God are forced to gather in their own groups, their own ministries, and their own communities separated from other Christians because they are not welcome.

    Are there those who live messy lives? Yes. Are there those who are immature, lack wisdom to live healthy lives? Yes. But is this a reason to throw them out while the messy straights are sitting with other Christians as though they are ok to be there? Actually I think those in the gay community may pray more, beg more for God’s will, and are more willing to search deeply for the heart of God than many straights. As someone who has experienced homosexuality, Dawn, I think you know what I am talking about!

    Dawn, you know the abuses, the judgment, the mistreatment. Could you find it in your heart to be an advocate for others that you understand?

  15. StraightGrandmother says:

    See John, there really only is a Side A or a Side B, there is no third way no matter how much you wish that it were so.

    I listened to the second tape in the GCN session and thought you were wonderful. For some reason I could not get the first tape to play. When the video comes out I will watch that.

    I think also that it is really good that you are responding with comments in this blog.

  16. Carol A Ranney says:

    “…someone who is gay is less than someone created in God’s image.” It may just be a matter of semantics, but I believe that this statement is wrong–we are ALL created in God’s image.

  17. John Smid says:

    Thank you Carol, that is exactly my point! Through the ministry that I was a part of the overt, or covert message came across to people who are gay that they were not equal to others – as created in God’s image.

  18. StraightGrandmother says:

    John, Oh are you talking about telling a sexual minority that they are not “God’s best”?
    You are still a person, you just aren’t as “good” as we heterosexuals. Try harder to be “God’s Best”

  19. John Smid says:

    I am speaking of how the messages of many within the church and ex-gay ministries often come across as though if a person could fix their homosexuality, they would then be a better person, more acceptable to God and others.

    Therein lies the deception and the judgment.

  20. Jon Trott says:

    John,

    You and I have known each other a long time. And I’m a little confused. After all, I recall discussing with you at some length the reality that “change” re homosexual desire did *not* mean there would be zero temptations or thoughts of a homoerotic nature. Rather, it was about discovering that one could, by “denying oneself” (as all are called by Jesus to do sexually one way or another), he or she might enter into a place where heterosexual desire and orientation was possible.

    You are a married man. I take it that you experience desire for your wife. I have, as a hetersexual male with some homosexual experience in my young years, occasionally experienced homosexual desires. (That’s blunt, but I’m too old to care what people think about me or my past — I know what Jesus Christ thinks.) Desire is desire… obedience cannot eliminate desire altogether, but it can reshape it and govern it.

    As you probably also recall, I am politically on the left most of the time, and have been appalled at the politicization of homosexuality by the Christian Right in particular. I personally do not believe it wise or even biblical for Christians to attempt “marriage amendments” and the like; far better to allow freedom to my neighbor just as I want freedom to define marriage for myself.

    But that said, the Scriptures do speak to us as believers about homosexuality. And my question to you is the same one I ask myself about my own sexuality. What does the Scripture say to me? What is God saying to me via the Scriptures? The entire Bible seems quite firm and uniform re homosexual expression (that is, homosexual acts). I am hearing you speak about your experience, which I do not wish to minimize. But I also need to hear you speak to what the Word is saying, how you understand it today.

    Again, homosexuality has been used by the Christian Right as a billy club. I am not interested in either them (the CR) or in bashing gays. I have publicly supported same-sex unions as the only realistic way forward for this nation. Yet I also believe that within the *churches* we must insist upon the biblical definition of marriage outlined in Genesis 2:24 — one man, one woman, in God. I am urgently interested in your own interpretation of such Scriptures and how they impact your overall understanding.

    Thanks for listening to an old acquaintance, and I apologize for the length.

  21. John Smid says:

    Jon, my friend. Yes we’ve known each other for many a year, not that we have walked close enough to know each other deeply, but our ministries have been side by side on many occasions. I always loved the talks we’d have at the Cornerstone Festival because of who you are, honest, humble, and a good friend.

    Now regarding the scriptures. I am working through that alongside my journey. I am not confident that I want to write a biblical dissertation on homosexuality. I believe I said in a former post that though I was the “go to guy” for many seeking change from their homosexuality, I really never had the confidence that I fully understood the teaching I had heard through “ex-gay” circles from the Bible on this issue. I am still questioning these matters and once I have something figured out that I feel strongly convicted about I am sure it will show up somewhere around here.

  22. Jon Trott says:

    Thanks, John, for the quick response. If you would like some (to me, anyway) helpful theology on the issue of biblical sexuality — keeping in mind the twin issues of (1) biblical authority’s place in our theology and (2) the proper *interpretation* of Scripture re homosexuality or sexuality period.

    That is, we could totally disbelieve in biblical authority yet as historians of interpretation still come to a “conservative” conclusion re what the Bible itself seems to be saying. Or, we could claim to be totally invested in Scripture’s authority yet offer an attempt at interpretation saying homosexuality is permitted and homosexual acts are not sinful (in certain conditions).

    Linda Belleville, who wrote a far-reaching multi-part article for Cornerstone back in the day on the issue of sexuality and homosexuality in Scripture, often said that one can have any beliefs re biblical authority but as a scholar of the Hebrew and Greek one cannot have just any interpretation of what the Bible itself has to say on the subject of sexuality and homosexuality. Linda’s work as a thoroughgoing egalitarian based upon her study of the Scriptures that women can indeed teach and preach, and that marriage is meant to be an egalitarian and not patriarchal structure, did I think some unique work here.

    Here is a published (PDF) Evangelical Covenant Church document re sexuality, much of it rooted in Linda’s work:

    http://www.covchurch.org/resources/files/2010/04/ECCHumanSexuality-Final-Report-May-2007.pdf

    And here is a link to her book on human sexuality.

    http://books.google.com/books/about/Human_sexuality.html?id=pGF4GwAACAAJ

    I hope either of these is useful to you, and will look forward to more of your thoughts on this. I know your heart is to mirror grace. My prayers are with you as you continue in that journey.

  23. John Smid says:

    Thanks Jon, I have always appreciated Linda’s studies and willingness to go against the flow in deference to what she has learned and the conclusions she has some to.

  24. tim warner says:

    I had an obvious thought this morning about you, and maybe I am similar, and maybe there are many . The thought was, when we take on the ex-gay persona, or pursue the ex-gay transformation, we are actually trying to NOT BE WHO WE ARE.

    The “non-gay” person who believes that homosexuality is other than something intrinsic, something inherent, something innate, something as deep and as fixed or static as heterosexuality in a heterosexually oriented/constitutional person, will not comprehend this.

    In a sense, the ex-gay pathway is a spiritual/emotional/ psychic path of suicide to those of a homosexual-constitution.

    What would it be like for a hetero-sexually constituted male to go through an “ex-straight ” program in an attempt to become gay?

    So it is little wonder that you might be feeling the cataclysmic revolution as YOU emerge. And YOU are still a Christian.

  25. John Smid says:

    Tim,
    Thank you for sharing your insightful thoughts on these issues. I am certainly on a path, searching for an authentic “me.”

  26. Lisa Salazar says:

    Sorry John for hijacking your stream here.

    Tim Warner? Are you the guitar player I met in 1971 in San Jose/Los Gatos, Calif? Can yo send John a private message if you are? John will know how to contact me.

    John, once again, I want to thank you for your willingness to publicly express your sorrow over having led so many people to believe something you yourself doubted. It was an honor to meet you at the GCN conference.

  27. Maria says:

    When people start to understand that religion is man-made and that the Bible was written by cavemen who thought the Earth was flat, not until then will we be able to move past NON-issues such as homosexuality. It is natural. It is not a sin. I truly feel sorry for all gay people who feel less-than because of who they are, and the church does a damn good job of driving that home. So sad.

  28. John Smid says:

    Liz, I have sent Tim Warner your message.

  29. tim warner says:

    John, you have no idea how incredible it is for me to re-connect with Lisa via your blog-site. I would say it’s unreal… it is something that must be an act of God.
    I am temporarily blown away.

  30. Dawn killion says:

    One of the reasons I left love it in action was that I knew in my spirit you were headed in the wrong direction. when you traded n your bible for a psychology book, and when you stopped having morning prayer, and told me that we would be running love in action as a business not a ministry, I knew in my heart Christ was not at the center of our ministry anymore. I really didn’t want to resign from ministry, but I couldn’t stay and watch what you were doing. Yes john I know all about rejection, possibly the most severe rejection I have ever experienced was when I was forced to resign from love in action in Memphis. I felt as if I had stepped on a spiritial landmine , my faith was shattered in a million pieces. it was very difficult coming back here, I was viewed as a loser, and a reject. it was always your words against mine. the truth is even then you were struggling.

    your mistakes do not nullify god’s word. you’re going on and on about all the mistakes you made regarding how are you ran the ministry, and it’s true, many things that you did were wrong, but god’s word is not wrong, and I think you know that john in your heart of hearts. I feel sad for you john, you have lost your way, you have lost god’s way. you’ve given in to itching ears John, Telling people What they want to hear Not what they need to hear Which is the truth of god’s word

  31. Dawn killion says:

    Sorry my typing stinks ..I pray that the Lord would remove this veil from your heart and mind so that you could once again see the truth. You speak of fighting for the rights of gay people, I am fighting for the rights of all people to know Gods truth and to be set free from all sin,no matter what it is. It was Jesus himself who said “if your eye causes you to sin pluck it from you,it is better for a person to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to be thrown into the pit of he’ll.no one likes to think about hell or God’s judgement, but there it is,all throughout the old and new testament.

    So what do we do, pick only the parts we think we can live with? Not all the things you taught were wrong …our spirits are wounded as children, I wanted to play sports and dress up like my dad, do I think I have to now wear. A dress to please God or prove that I heterosexual? Absolutely not,it’s what I do with my heart that pleases God. But I do know that I needed His love to heal me from the past hurts,yes,and He has,and will continue to as long as I allow Him to.John I hope someday like Paul on the road to Damascus you will encounter the truth in such a way as to turn you around. Love in Christ, always

  32. John Smid says:

    Dawn,
    Your words bring me to say once again, this is the very reason I am writing these blogs. I have been a very public figure and the things I have done have been very public in nature so I feel the need to write them publicly.

    You said you are praying for the veil to be removed. Your prayers are being answered because every day I have another revelation of truth, personal awareness, and of God’s mercy and grace. I also have revelations of God’s redemptive love, sanctification, and how present He is in our daily lives.

    Just yesterday I became more aware of how much He enjoys walking with us, teaching us, and speaking words of kindness into our hearts.

    What He is revealing to me may not be what you would like to hear but His heart next to mine is a unique and personal thing just as it is for you.

    Dawn, I acknowledge that the first year of our time in Memphis was scary, brutal, and that your heart was deeply wounded during that time. It was a very painful time for us all.

  33. Reyn says:

    It is fair for me to note in advance that, at least for males, I consider the whole ex-gay movement and the whole religious ideology underpinning it (not religion itself, simply any form of literalism) to be total poppycock. Religious objections to human sexuality, including homosexuality simply, in my view, lead to people being unhappy and self-destructive.

    That said, I appreciate the fact, and wish to express my appreciation for the fact that you have found some degree of honesty. That is something sadly lacking from nearly every fundamentalist I’ve ever met — whether because they insist on the idea that sexuality is chosen when they know deep inside that it isn’t; or whether because they insist that a book that says that a maiden who is raped must marry the man who raped her if he is caught and pays 50 shekels of silver to her father for her (it was property law of course) somehow advanced the position of women.

    Honesty, real honesty is the rarest of birds for fundamentalists, though they often do not realize it. Thank you for yours.

    Regards,

    Reyn

  34. Bruce Garner says:

    Thank you John. Unfortunately, Steve B. continues to miss the point of what you are doing. I knew long long ago that God loved me, as the old Baptist hymn says: Just as I am without one plea. God knew I was gay. I knew I was gay. My personal relationship with Jesus Christ was and remains very strong with the fire of the Holy Spirit burning brightly in my heart. God did not create me any less (or any more) than any other child of God. God did, for whatever reason, create me different in one aspect of my life.

    I have been convinced for years that no one actually ever changes sexual orientation. They may alter their responses, but their orientation never changes. I am equally convinced that those who think their orientation changed actually just came to the realization of who they were all along. Many of us have confused notions about our sexual orientation as a result of society, religion and organizations that claim to do something they can’t. Coming to the realization that you are LGBT OR that you are straight hasn’t changed what your orientation was all along. It is just realizing what was there after all the layers of junk get peeled away.

    I cringe when folks use Scripture to denigrate LGBT folks (or anyone else who is different). With regard to LGBT issues, there are only 7 verses that may be related to that. However, we MUST keep in context the time of their writing and the context of the larger and complete narrative of which they are a part. They do not stand alone. Making them or any other individual verse of Scripture a single issue creates an idol of Scripture. Someday will we learn that.

    Yesterday was Easter Sunday. We celebrated the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour and our salvation. May we continue to be saved from those who distort God’s Great Commmandments as well: Love God (with all your heart and soul and mind and strength) and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus proclaimed these when asked what the greatest commandment was. No exceptions or qualifications were provided in either case. Perhaps we just can’t believe that love can and must be unconditional!

  35. Carol Polowy says:

    Love your website. Here’s my quote:”Relationships are not a commodity, they are a gift to be savored.”

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