The “Gay”, “Ex-gay” Divide

The “Gay”, “Ex-gay” Divide

mailbag_3Dear John,

I recently read a blog that appeared to say that there is a growing public disagreement between the gay affirming community and the “ex-gay” community. I know there has always been division there but it seems to be heating up.


Are they both Christian in focus? Isn’t the gospel the main thing we should be putting our energy into? It appears to me that they are more interested in how someone is acting rather than seeking to be at work in pursuing the “Great Commission.”


In our day, it seems there are many who are missing out on the tremendous grace of God as unto salvation. Doesn’t God’s word say something about division and arguing about these kinds of things?


Joan S.


Dear Joan,


I tend to agree with you and would like to address this in a more public manner.


The “Gay” – “Ex-gay” Divide


There is a great divide between the gay community and those who ascribe to the “ex-gay” way of thinking. The ex-gays are saying God will, and needs to, provide healing for their brokenness. The gay Christian community is saying there is nothing to be healed in relationship to their homosexuality. Some on the ex-gay side can even say that if someone doesn’t agree that homosexual behavior is a sin, they may not even be Christian!


Can Christians disagree on biblical definitions of what is sin and what is not, and still follow Jesus Christ together? Does ones’ definition of any particular sin determine whether or not someone is in fact in Christ?


This is Not A New Division


This is an age old divide that has kept the Christian community distracted for over 2000 years. Can we eat pork? Do all male followers of Christ have to be circumcised? Can a Christian regularly drink wine? Is slavery an acceptable way to work our fields? Can someone be divorced and remain in fellowship? These have all been issues within the church that have caused huge conflicts throughout the years.


Can someone be homosexual in heart and in action and still be an active, God glorifying Christian?


I am not the one who can make that decision. Whether a person identifies as “ex-gay” or “gay”, they have one thing in common, they both experience attractions and relationship desires for those of their same gender. These desires will very likely never go away and will be something they must learn to accept as part of their life experience. It is between them and God to figure out what to do with the desires that rage within them. You may not understand or accept this but for many, to come to a place of saying “I’m gay”, can bring them to a wonderful freedom from condemnation through Christ.


If a person is in fact “in Christ” then this is a spiritual reality. When a person is a Christian, I believe God says “there is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1), none!


Is there any distinction between those who choose to go the ex-gay route, or a gay affirming one that would void ones faith in Christ? One may say that an unrepentant perspective of homosexuality would clearly set them apart from a faith in Christ, but I would say not. While some may be in a posture of believing any homosexual act is sin, and some may embrace same sex committed relationships; if they are “In Christ,” are we not still one Church, one Body?


Making Presumptions


Sadly, many have lumped homosexual people into one big negative bag. There are those who believe that all homosexuals are sick, sinful and in need of “healing” for their poor broken lives. Think about this for just a minute. How might you feel if you were a believer in Christ who had felt His wonder and awe enter your life, and you happened to be gay. You hear that you need to be free of your attractions and become heterosexual in order to really know Christ, and begin to wonder if Christ is enough? I would likely feel helpless, discouraged, challenged and confused. On one hand you hear that salvation is in Christ alone but it seems that others are saying there are conditions to having a relationship with Him.


A Personal Experience


I recently had the opportunity to be in a gathering of people who celebrate Christ and believe that having a faithful committed relationship with the same sex is acceptable to God. Now, before you stop reading and try to judge this scenario, I want you to hear something I observed.


This crowd of people, about 180 of them, had one really important thing in common. They were proclaiming to know Jesus, his sacrifice and his resurrection. They were excited to know that He loved them enough to embrace them wholly and completely as they are. These folks were passionate about having experienced the gospel and its power in their lives.


I was invited to hear a report on their ministries and mission efforts. The summation of what I heard was that they were excited about, and praying for, their outreach to the gay community to share the gospel of redemption through Jesus Christ. I was humbled and amazed! I thought to myself, “What is it that motivates these people to be so excited about sharing the gospel?” I looked back over conferences and church meetings I had been to in the past. I was aware that there was a blatant absence of a passion to share the gospel to those who didn’t know.


In contrast, there was an overt message within recovery meetings and conferences where the message was predominantly “we are all broken and we need to get our sorry lives together so that maybe we will be able to minister to others.” Sadly, the emphasis was more on getting our act together than the thankfulness of how much Jesus loves us and wanted us to share His love with others.


“Rene”


I met a person named “Rene.” Rene was a male to female transsexual. Oh, through my history, I have made plenty of judgments about transsexuals. I have thought they could never be able to minister if they were dressed in “drag.” I ascribed to the theories that the only way they could possibly glorify God would be to re-embrace their “birth gender.” I even struggled with whether or not to use the word “she” or “her” due to Rene’s obvious size and deep voice. I decided to leave my preconceived notions outside this conversation and hear the heart of this human being who loved Jesus.


Well, Rene blew my human theories out of the water with her humility, her love for God, and her willingness to give sacrificially of herself to others so that they would know Jesus. In our conversation I asked how she felt about being so conspicuous in this meeting. Rene told me:


“John, I see my life in Christ as that of a “war-horse.” ” A war horse is trained to go wherever the rider says to go even if it is to run into danger or a wall. I don’t like to be seen as a leader or someone out front. But my pastor saw a deep need for the gospel ministry amongst the transsexual community. He was unsuccessful in his attempts and asked me to consider starting a meeting specifically for transsexuals


I resisted but remembered my commitment to Christ. John, I decided to be obedient and start a group on Sunday afternoons. Much to my amazement, they are coming! I am willing to do whatever I can to show them Jesus and His love for them.” I know we can appear to be a messed up crowd, but I also know now much Jesus loves me and want others to see that too.”


I have to say, I was deeply challenged with Rene’s commitment and her heart to reach out. But I thought, “Can God use a cross-dressing transsexual?” Well, if He can’t, then He can’t use me- or you either. If our ministry requires of us to reach a certain standard, which continues to be very ambiguous, then who of us would qualify? If He can’t use us while we are moving along in our own sanctification, than who can He use?


public-speaking

What Are We Saying to the Gay Community?


If a Christian is told over and over that their “heart is deceitful and wicked” and that they are “broken” where is redemption in Christ? Is it not a slap in the face of the torturous sacrifice and a victorious resurrection of Christ to continue berating ourselves and others who are believers in Jesus with this out-of-context quote?


I was involved in recovery ministry for over 20 years. I think one of the greatest regrets I have from those years is the many times I have tried to tell people they were broken lives and that they had a deceived heart. I did so thinking I was quoting Scripture and telling them the truth.


The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jer. 17:9


Oh, I know that we make many mistakes and there are things we could use a good spiritual healing from. I also know that we are a work in progress. But, something I have come to realize is that when the Holy Spirit makes us new, creates in us a clean new heart, He has done an amazing and awesome work in us. As David cried out, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps. 51) not only was his prayer answered, but our prayers have been answered as well, through Christ.


The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value Prov. 10:20


But, who are the wicked?


Some bible versions refer to the wicked as the “unrighteous”, those who are not in relationship with Jesus Christ. But for those who are, God has given them the new heart. Therefore, to say that a believer in Jesus has a wicked or deceived heart denies God’s restorative work in our hearts and lives.


How does this apply to our response to the gay community?


It has often been said that homosexuals have a wicked and deceived heart. Some people even go so far as to say they are an “abomination.” Really? Can we say that this means they are not saved – any of them? If a man has a wicked and deceived heart, then that says to me that they do not know Jesus. If someone has come to salvation then God has softened his heart of stone into a heart of flesh. He has given him a new, healed heart. He is no longer wicked or unrighteous, but rather, he is righteous by the blood of Christ.


Having a tremendous burden for the gay community I can see how, as Christians, we can continue to wound those we say we want to help. When we continue to proclaim to them they are broken, deceived, unsalvageable, It is like putting poison into the medicine bottle that we are hoping will provide better health. We are inadvertently tearing down the work of Christ while we are proclaiming its value.


Where is Our Focus?


Are we so busy judging one another’s lives that we are missing the point! Is our focus on a Jesus that loves us deeply, saves us radically, renews our hearts miraculously, and asks us to tell others?


We need to get our act together and quit shooting each other with our critical, dividing ways. God can and will do an amazing work amongst us if we are willing. If not, then we can waste a lot of time and energy trying to do what only God can do. He, and only He, is the judge of our lives and the works best with those we deem have a deceived heart. His word is very clear about this kind of division.


But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned. Titus 3:9-11


Take this as a warning! Stop arguing about this kind of stuff! This isn’t saying to have nothing more to do with homosexuals. It says to stop hanging around those who are spending so much time arguing and quarreling about it.


Are we trying to cut off the foreskins of those God says don’t need it done? Are we trying to grab the wine bottles out of the hands of those God says are free to drink from them? And what about those who say “I am gay?” Are we spending more time trying to tell homosexuals who know Jesus how sick they are? Or, are we embracing them, along with their gifts and talents, into the body of Christ with us while trusting the rest to God?


“Oh, boy, John. You’re really going off the rail now.”


Well, if I am, can you entrust me into God’s hands to work this out and continue walking alongside me? I’ve never been more excited about knowing Jesus than I am today. I’ve never felt freer in Him than I do now. His freedom doesn’t mean permissiveness, rather to me it means an opportunity to see Him more clearly, hear his heart more intensively, and respond accordingly.


So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36


I want everyone to know Christ, and Him crucified. I continue to pray that God sends me to share this good news with anyone who will listen. Do you have the same desire I do? Then we are of one mind and one Spirit regarding this matter. Let God work the other things out in His way, His time, and for His purpose.


To those who are gay – and to those who are struggling with these words; this is my heart and my prayer.


God loves you deeply, completely, radically and redemptively! He embraces you wholly and loves you with absolute abandon! He has given you abundant talents, amazing gifts, incredible discernment and wants you to explore all of the wonderful ways He wants to use you to share His love with others.


I choose to walk alongside you in this incredible journey of our life in Christ. I want to see the miracles He does through you. I want to pray with you, worship with you and embrace the Holy Spirit’s joy together beside you.


If we find each other to lack something, I pray we will share from our abundance with each other. If we find we are walking a crooked path I pray we will provide assistance in direction when needed. If we fall and need a stick or cane, I pray we will provide it for one another.


If either of us becomes quarrelsome, I pray we will gently warn each other and separate for a season if we don’t have the grace to stop. If we hurt each other it is my hope we will tell each other and seek to forgive.

Where Christ is uplifted between two or more of us, He is present and I pray we will enjoy wonderful fellowship.”


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33 Responses to “The “Gay”, “Ex-gay” Divide”

  1. Kathy Baldock says:

    John–wonderful post!

    I like this passage very much:
    ““What is it that motivates these people to be so excited about sharing the gospel?” I looked back over conferences and church meetings I had been to in the past. I was aware that there was a blatant absence of a passion to share the gospel to those who didn’t know.

    In contrast, there was an overt message within recovery meetings and conferences where the message was predominantly “we are all broken and we need to get our sorry lives together so that maybe we will be able to minister to others.” Sadly, the emphasis was more on getting our act together than the thankfulness of how much Jesus loves us and wanted us to share His love with others.”

    Something to really consider–if the point of us being here is to reflect Him—I DO see the gay and free in Christ groups VERY VERY passionate about sharing and being Jesus on the planet.

    We could use a very long afternoon out on a deck chatting away for hours about all this.

    The church MUST get this one. We are condemning people to hell with our treatment and take on a Holy loving God’s words.
    This cannot please Him, it sure drives me nuts. Kathy

  2. Angie says:

    John, this was very well said. I love where your focus is. Keep up the good work He has begun in you.

  3. John Smid says:

    Thank you Angie. I appreciate your affirmation.

  4. Wilson says:

    John, I am amazed to hear “Rene” words. I believe she definetely knows our Lord and Savior and it is doing His Work. Here in Brazil, I do live in a very conservative church. The possibility of evangelical churchs have division because of the gay matter is so distant from our reality. So gay (or ex-gay people) keep living like me: In silent and lonely inside the church. I put my heart in follow Christ and I am struggling to do so, no matter what. Must of the time I feel alone, even in a crowd of people. In church reatreats I don´t stay with men, because I don´t feel like feeting in. With the women, it is not apropriat. So I keep on be alone. If I am happy with this situation? Not at all. If I sense that this is the will of God? Not eaither. However, we still don´t have gay christian getting together to worship Jesus. If we had, today I can say, I would not exited in be with them. I believe that the Gospel in fact is “Good news” for those who feel lost. Keep spreading His words and encouraging groups like the one you mentioned. The Holy Spirit is alive and will lead those who loves Him to the path streight. Is not way our position to judge people, instead is our position to pray and ask God to lead us to His way. The rest is consequences of a real faith and a real love to Jesus Christ.

    In Him,

    Wilson

  5. Howard Hervey says:

    Hi John, If I am reading you right then there is no reason for anyone to stop doing anything that they do. God’s grace covers everything. I have been taught that the first word of the gospel is “Repent”. Acts tells us that God has come to bless us by setting us free turning us from out sins.

    I do not believe that having same sex attraction in and of itself is sinful, however Scripture is clear, Do not lie with a man as you do with a women, it is detestable. There is nothing in Scripture that indicates that God created a man to have any sexual attraction to another man. None of the current studies support that same sex attraction is caused only by genetics. For some one to say that God will bless a same sex union, does not have any scripture to rest that claim upon. God does love us with a love that I do not think we can fully understand. Having same sex attraction is not what God intended for us, therefore I believe that his love will move on us to begin a process that will fill the deficit we have in a healthy way. I believe that “Gay” is an identity, homosexual is an attraction. I believe that someone who chooses to identify as “gay” is missing out on what God has for him or her. Only if you believe that having same sex attraction is normal, healthy, and God given,could you believe that God, would not in His love bring change to the individual involved. Acting out in a homosexual way is sin. There is not another interpretation consistent with scripture.

    If I have misunderstood what you are saying I would really like to to that. Bless you, Howard

  6. Michael Riley says:

    Dear John,
    If I was a pastor and had two wives or was living in adultery, would you recommend that people come to my church?
    Mike

  7. Ron Smith says:

    Hi John,

    Man, you made some powerful statements; some of which could be used to call the Church into account. But, there were a couple points that you made that did concern me. The main one being…

    “One may say that an unrepentant perspective of homosexuality would clearly set them apart from a faith in Christ, but I would say not.”

    The very first step of the Gospel message is to repent. John the Baptist proclaimed it and Christ himself affirmed it. “…and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too (Lk 13:5)” Jesus’ words not mine.

    When we address issues like division we must go back to very basic priniciples of the Gospel message. It is true that we all stumble and may even fall; but with each stumble and every fall there needs to be a time of coming before God and recognizing our error…we must repent.

    In addressing questions like “Is it alright to be ‘Gay’ and “Christian’? we must remember that both are human constructs. God gave us Christ, man made Christianity. God gave us wholesomeness, the fall made us corrupt. God gave us sex and ordained our “maleness” and “femaleness”. Man made sexuality and fragmented it into heterosexuality, homosexuality and all the fragments in between. (just ask Kinsey) Therefore, the question that we should be asking is not is it alright to be Gay and Christian, but how can I be restored into right relationship with God?

    As a ministry leader I feel that I am going to be held accountable to God for the way I lead and instruct others. Therefore, I must be aware the while there is grace there is also truth and while I am not to judge, I am to correct and call into account. It is in that balance of grace and truth were true love lies. We must never forget that.

  8. Tim says:

    The critics are not grasping your point John. Just like the Religious critics of Jesus got all riled up when He was enjoying the company of “sinners and publicans”, eating with them and drinking with them.

    You might have to stress again the point that you aren’t called to “clean up the sinner”, but rather to love and live out the Gospel.

    The gay or ex-gay choice(s) are between the individual and God, part of one’s own personal working out of their salvation, with fear and trembling.

    I am/was: gay,ex-gay/asexual/totally and forever gay/totally and forever abstinent/ celibate/completely promiscuous/even heterosexually active. There are no “easy answers”. But since my conversion to Christ, I have always been a CHRISTIAN.

    I think something deeper than your previous experience has been occurring for you, John. You have paid the price of giving up your “ministry” to “ex-gays” and that has been replaced by a deeper more authentic relationship with The Living God. As long as you live and speak from that place, it may shock but it will also resonate with other True Christians.

  9. John Smid says:

    Tim,

    I felt refreshed and heard in reading your response. No where did I say, nor would I say, that God is permissive with our lives. Without connecting to Jesus, who says we are completely and totally free, none of us will find a deeper reality that He is hoping we will find – His love that transforms us day by day.

    I finally learned through my own personal experience, that laws and rules never changed anyone but only attempted to bring people into a conforming place. In many cases this just created more anxiety and fear which actually causes a separation from the grace of Christ in their hearts.

    When I am free in Christ I can embrace His presence into every facet of my life including my most rebellious choices because I know He will not reject me there. But He will show me His truth in a way I know I can receive it. It is in this very delicate place where the deepest transformation can occur. Not a transformation that can necessarily be measured by my outward behavior. But, rather, a transformation that is invoked in a deeper relationship with my Savior.

    Oh, there is so much more that can be found in these truths. I could write for days and still not get to the depth of what I am finding in Christ.

    And yes, there is a fear in these words, and trembling before a Holy God. But my fear and trembling do not cause me to run from Him, rather they cause me to run to Him.

  10. Michael says:

    John, the main thing that your post does is it challenges me on is my tendency to be judgemental. For as long as I can remember, I have always believed and still believe that salvation is by grace alone through faith…not by works….so, why do I want to place …a works mentality on people’s spiritual life and whether or not they are “qualified” to serve the Lord. I’m sure there are Christians who look at me and see that I like secular music, I go to R rated movies and when I feel frustrated I either cuss under my breath or out loud when I’m by myself…..they probably judge me and think “how in the world can he serve the Lord and how could God possibly bless him and be working in his life if he does those things.” They don’t know my heart and they don’t know what God is doing in my life…..and I don’t know what God is doing in someone’s life that I may not agree with some of the things they do. Every time I hear you tell the story of Rene, I am encouraged by his/her heart for those that the Church generally wants nothing to do with. I’m learning to love others where they are at and share my life with them, but leave the judging to God and the convicting to the Holy Spirit.

  11. Jessica says:

    Dear John,
    My name is Jessica and I am Paul Poulin’s wife. I read your latest blog and I want you to know that I was very upset and saddened by it. As you know, Paul went to Love in Action in hopes to that he would find freedom and healing from his same sex attractions through Jesus Christ. I am saddened by your view that there can be such a thing as a “gay Christian”. The two just seem contrary to each other. If my husband would not have surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and died to his flesh, we wouldn’t be happily married today. If he would have listened to someone who told him it was okay to be a “gay Christian” then we would have never found each other. If other Christian men, especially in that program, had not rallied around him and shown him that healing and freedom were possible then he would still be struggling with same sex attractions, suicidal attempts, depression,and emotional dependency.

    Which brings me to a question. Which Jesus are we serving? The God of the Bible who hates sin and says “Go and sin no more” or a self-serving, ear tickling God who says “it’s okay, I love you, you can serve me and identify yourself by your sin.. gay Christian, Adulterer Christian, Lying Christian… The last time I checked, God wants us to live fruitful, victorious lives. How can living in disobedience to God be fruitful or victorious, it produces just the opposite. God wants us to be free so that we can serve Him completely. Hebrews 12:1-2 says “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

    My Bible teaches that I cannot live in sin and call myself a Christian. A true Christian is not just merely someone who believes in Jesus but follows Him, follows His example and lives as He lived on the earth

    1 John 1:5-10 says “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins he is He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    1 John 2:15-23 says “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes,and the pride of life is not of the Father but of this world. And the world is passing away and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

    1 John 3:1-9 says “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called the children of God! Therefore the world does not know us because it did not know Him. Beloved now we are children of God and it has not been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure. Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins and in Him there is no sin at all. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous. He who sins is of the devil for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the son of man was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

    My Bible teaches me that serving Christ isn’t easy. There are a lot of things that one must give up in order to serve Christ. Matthew 7:13-14 says “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way the leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” I am not saying that once a person who has come out of homosexuality will never have a same sex thought, but I am saying that freedom is possible. Freedom to live a holy lifestyle.

    Please don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to single out homosexuality. I’m talking about sin in general. This topic got me thinking about Jesus’ death and resurrection. If we could just continue in our sin than what was the point of Him dying? If one could be a “gay Christian” or a “Murdering Christian” than He died in vain. If you are saying that it’s okay for a person to live a “gay Christian” lifestyle than is it okay for a person to live as a murder and identify themselves as a follower of Christ? What’s the difference, they are both living out their “faith”.

    In Galatians 5:16-21 I think it makes things clear when it says “I say then: walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murder, drunkenness,revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

    As Christians, are we not called to offer hope and healing to those who are without Christ? I know that you have a heart to reach out to the GLBT community, however in an attempt to not want to offend them you are watering down the True Gospel. Jesus never told a person that it was okay to live in their sin and He never made any excuses either. He came to fulfill the law and do the will of the Father. We aren’t doing anyone any justice by offering them Grace, Grace, Grace. We need to tell them the truth and sometimes the truth hurts. We have to love people enough to tell them the truth.

  12. Anita Worthen says:

    WOW! as a wife of an ex-gay,I just had to respond, you said it so well, I think we wives have a double hurt when the truth of our husbands testimony is challenged. If you wonder what my husband (Frank)feels his scripture is Ezekiel 13:22 (esp. in Amplified).

    And John I First I love you…you know that BUT your just plain off here. It’s hard being on the side of truth because people don’t want to hear it but we just can’t compromise it. Frank say’s you might not want to look up his scripture:) love Anita

  13. Tim says:

    Hi again, John and others,

    I must write this again: Those who are critical of what you express in your blog on this issue, are clearly not responding to the point(s) you are making. Perhaps they are not even reading all that you write. The gay/ex-gay Christian issue is either being “attacked” or supported, while all the while, your extremely Biblical and Christian points are being ignored. This bothers me.

    If I may try to sum up what you are expressing, it might be this: Whether or not you are a “gay Christian” or an “ex-gay Christian”, the gospel still applies. The issue is not about being gay nor ex-gay, the issue is about being a Christian. The issue is about knowing, trusting, serving, loving,obeying, following, The Lord,Jesus.The issue is about knowing the Lord, having a deep life-changing encounter with the Living ever-existing God and subsequently and unavoidably living out one’s life from that ultimate transformation.

    I challenge those who are critical here of your stance to go back and re-read what you wrote and try to see beneath the “gay Christian- vs – ex-gay Christian” position.

    The exchange here on your website is a necessary dialog within the church, the Body of Christ, by the way. But it is nothing new. It has been going on since the Pharisees attacked Jesus for consorting with those they felt – if He were truly the Messiah – He should be condemning, or healing, or “changing” or rejecting. Instead He was embracing, forgiving, loving and liberating the very ones who were judged as unworthy by the religious leaders.

    And now, my deepest challenge to your critics here; How deeply ex-gay are the ex-gays who claim to be ex-gay? That is a question I have been compelled to ask of myself, and compelled to honestly answer, even if I shrink at the question, and hate the answer.

    Yours and His,
    Tim

  14. Paul says:

    Tim and John,
    I’m Jessica’s husband Paul. First of all I read what my wife wrote and I support what she wrote one hundred percent. For the record Tim, Jessica read John’s entire blog a few times actually. Tim, I cannot speak for other individuals who have walked away from the glbt lifestyle,and or same sex attractions, but I can speak for my own life. I had an abusive alcoholic father figure growing up, was sexually abused by an adult male throughout my childhood, and started having same sex attractions and emotional dependency issues as a preteen. Along with that I struggled with depression, shame and became suicidal. I became a born again christian at the age of 23 and started becoming transparent with others about what happened to me and the deep emotional wounds that I carried for several years without telling a single person.

    The first couple years of my walk with Christ were very hard. The same sex attractions, emotional dependency, and shame were still very much there. I ruined friendships I had because of my dependency issues. After another round of deep depression and considering taking my own life, I was sent to Love In Action by a friend who was the president of the local ministry I had reached out to. It was there where God started to bring healing into my heart as I was forced to confront the issues of my heart on a day to day basis.

    I felt like a new man when I left the program three months later. I never had an emotional dependency issue ever again since leaving love In Action. I had the power from God to walk in the spirit and to starve the flesh. I was able to live a much more sexually pure life and my same sex attractions decreased more and more. The depression that plagued me for years lifted more and more. I began to be able to actually live.

    I met my wife nine months after leaving Love and Action and developed sexual attractions for her as our relationship blossomed. My wife and I have been married for over two years now and I have to say God has brought both of us so far. I love my wife in a way that would have been impossible just a few years ago. I am completely sexually attracted to my wife which would of been impossible just a few years ago. In every way, relationally, sexually, intimately, we have an incredible marriage. My wife is my best friend, I love her so deeply. I am so happy. God has given me so much and I am so blessed. The things I once struggled with are not a struggle anymore. Once my wife and I married and we started having a sexual relationship, the same sex attractions decreased to the point now that it has no control over me. My sexual attraction is for my beautiful wife.

    To answer your question Tim about how much an “ex – gay” really is an “ex – gay”, once again I will speak only for myself. Today I feel very much like a heterosexual man but more importantly, a man who has been given the ability through the healing power of Jesus Christ to live a holy lifestyle sexually. And for the record, calling a born again believer “ex-gay christian”, or “gay christian” is not even biblical.

    How about giving born again believers the title of Child of God, or a New Creation in Christ. I don’t understand labeling people who are followers of Christ by their sin issues. That is like calling a recovering alcoholic “ex – drunk”, or a person who has walked away from drugs “ex – druggie” when they are trying to leave those things in the past to serve God.

    Did Jesus tell the woman who was caught in adultery “I love you, you are fine just how you are”? No, he said “I don’t condemn you, go and sin no more. We are coming to a place in the body of Christ where if we call sin for what it is, we are labeled “judgmental pharisee”. Last time I checked, a pharisee was a Jewish leader who did not believe Jesus was who he was, and tried to heap the law on people’s backs when Jesus came to fulfill the law. But Jesus did not give everyone that chose to follow him a license to sin. My wife and I are NOT judgmental pharisees but we believe in the balance of the scriptures which are truth and grace. Romans ch. 6: 1-4 says “What shall we say then, shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live in it any longer? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus, were baptized into his death? Therefore we were buried with him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” 2 Timothy 2:19 – 21 says “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity” But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor, and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”

    Does that scripture say, you can be a cross dresser and be useful to the master? (using the Rene example)Or you can be living in deliberate sin and be useful to the master? It is clear that the scriptures say you have to turn,repent, and be sanctified, then you can be useful to the master.

    My wife and I stand on what the word actually says. We have written many scriptures to support what we are saying. I guess our biblical stance makes my wife and I “Judgmental, bible thumping pharisees” right? I think that being called that by other Christians is sad. We cannot even say what a real Christian is and what the true gospel is anymore even within the body of Christ.

    John, please, if you have concrete scripture to support your new “gracie grace” gospel, then prove me wrong. I don’t want to hear you or anyone elses “heart”, or what you “think” things should be. Show me the scriptures in the bible which support your new gospel. I also think your scripture reference saying we cannot dispute these things is like tying our hands from telling actual biblical truth. I feel that if you are not being biblical as a teacher, I should voice my concern and vice versus. I still love you, but you are not being biblical in your stance of the “gay” and “ex gay” issue.

  15. John Smid says:

    If you are following these comments, please allow me to direct you to four other articles I have written that may shed more light on what I have said.

    http://www.gracerivers.com/change-heart

    http://www.gracerivers.com/gay-christian

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

    http://www.gracerivers.com/pastor-letter

    As I read through the comments, it is blatantly clear that I have not effectively communicated all that I would have wanted the readers to hear. Some of the reason for the lack of clarity is that there are other articles that give more of the background.

    If you will, please read through the other pages with links above.

  16. Anne Paulk says:

    Hello John, I think you will find a more complete response in the email that we sent to you. But the bottom line is that this is not about the label “ex-gay” rather this is about living a life obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ in all our ways surrendered to him, including sexuality.

    It is important to me that I live in ways that please Him, not my old ways of thinking, for it is no longer I who lives, but Christ in me. If a person lives in direct rebellion to God and expects entrance to His kingdom by simply saying he or she is a Christian, he or she is lying to themselves. Repentance is needed. Neglecting to obey Him is a way to fast track entrance to another kingdom…the wide way that leads to destruction. Advising anyone that they can continue in sin and still go to heaven sure sounds like helping them on their merry way to that destruction.

    Proverbs advises that telling others the truth in the right heart and timing is like apples of gold in settings of silver. May we all be a blessing to the God of all truth, redeeming the time and not contributing to evil in the lives of others!

  17. Wilson says:

    Paul,

    We haven´t met, but I was reading your so STRONG AND ASSERTIVE response and the response of your wife. I am a former client from LIA, and as you and others brothers and sisters, I do believe in the whole Scripture and I am fighting the good fight to serve our Lord. I believe in repentance and I believe in the bible and I am not against a ex-gay ministry because I was truly blessed by LIA and even New Hope. I have my limitations and falls, but keep fighting. However, your response was so affirmative about your rehabilitation that made me wonder… I was almost three years in LIA and I am still struggling. And never had a desire towards women. NEVER.

    Did you act out on your sinful life having sexual contact with another man, brother? You did do not mention any sexual contact in your past.

    I am afraid that your assertiveness can make some truly faithful people that serves the Lord, but did not have your so sure rehabilitation, to doubt about their salvation or even their relationship with God. I use to be in a place that some times I forced my convictions towards others to help the Lord and the scriptures. Did you realize what I just said? That was true. I thought the Lord needed that. Then I realized that what I was doing was a huge sin. It could be sin as to put a burden on others shoulders.

    If you acted out with another man brother, and have such a sure rehabilitation, let us know please, that I will get a new ticket from Brazil and will RETURN to LIA again. Because I maybe have missed something that the two and a half years that I stayed there was not enough.

    Don´t get me wrong. I love the Lord, and I did not abandoned my faith as most of my friends. Actually none of them want´s to be in contact with me because I keep defending the program and the scripture. However, I have noticed that almost all the people that give such a strong testimony as you, NEVER DID ACT OUT with other person in a same sex relationship. Consider that.

    May our Lord help us all.

  18. Paul Poulin says:

    Wilson,
    Thanks for sharing your heart with me. I never said that in order to be a true christian or to have a real testimony that a person had to receive opposite sex attractions and never struggle with same sex attractions ever again. As Christians we are called to strive to live holy lifestyles and that’s including in our sexual thought life. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.”

    Whether I acted out in my adulthood with other men or not is irrelevant. My testimony is my unique personal life story and I don’t think it is better or worse than any other story. I would have struggled with the same issues of same sex attractions, emotional dependency, and depression either way. I know several men, one of whom is a good friend of mine, who lived the gay lifestyle in their adulthood, received Christ, saw a significant shift in their sexual thought life from same sex to opposite sex over a period of time, and are now happily married and completely in love with their wives. However again, the measure of the fruit in a follower of Christ relating to people walking away from the gay lifestyle is not heterosexuality. It’s the measure you walk in holiness by the power of the holy spirit. I shared my testimony because I think people should not limit God in what he wants to do in peoples lives. That is what seems to be going on in some of the posts. How dare we limit God. Wilson, whether you ever experience heterosexual attractions or not, you are no more or less of a Christian than you are now.

    From what you wrote, you seem to have a heart to want to serve God and walk in his spirit. I think that is honorable. I think it is honorable that when you have fallen, you have gotten back up and kept walking with the Lord. That is awesome! 1 Peter 1:15,16 says – “But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” That scripture does not say be heterosexual for I am heterosexual. This issue is holiness and sin, not homosexuality and heterosexuality. What I was being strong and assertive about was that there is no scriptural backing anywhere in the word of God that says we can live in bondage to our sin, remain unrepentant and call ourselves Christians. We also cannot call ourselves Christians and label ourselves by a sin issue that we are commanded to turn away from in order to follow Christ. I can write a million scriptures to support those statements.

    I am sorry if I have offended or hurt anyone in their walk with Christ, but I’m not going to ever apologize for what scripture actually says and water it down to make someone else feel better. Many ministries have very much been compromising what the scriptures actually say. I think the sin of homosexuality is being treated like a “special sin”. If you become a born again Christian, than you are called to make every effort to stay as far away from sin as possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. That is including same sex attractions. If you’d like to look at my blog it’s at genesis224-paul.blogspot.com My wife and I will pray for you that the Holy Spirit will strengthen you to walk out and live a life of holiness and victory.

  19. Jessica says:

    Anita,

    Thank you so much for your response. I agree, I think that it is very important that we back up our husbands! I looked up the scripture in Ezekiel that you reference and I have to say that it sums things up so well! My husband and I viewed your website and we want you to know that we support you and your ministry fully! May God continue to bless you!

  20. John Albert Thomas says:

    John,

    I enjoyed reading your post and the comments. Just for clarification, are you saying:

    1) When a homosexual comes to Christ they are given a new heart by the Holy Spirit.

    2) The Holy Spirit sanctifies them over time in His way.

    3) Because of the nature of sexual sin, sanctification in the area of sexuality may take longer or follow a different path than most Christians feel comfortable with.

    4) The length and speed of the sanctifying process does not negate the believers standing in Christ.

    5) The change is initiated and progresses by the power of Christ, not by their own will power.

    6) Fellow believers should treat them as a brother/sister in Christ through this long transition, reminding them of their new identity in Him, and trusting that God will rightly judge them in the end.

    7) God will use the unconditional love and forgiveness of fellow believers to further heal and sanctify them.

    I think that gathers your points, but please correct me if I’m misunderstanding.

    John

  21. John Smid says:

    John Thomas,

    Yes, those points do summarize my thoughts very well.

    I have been in deep thought and prayer regarding all that has been said through these comments as well as many deep discussions and dialogue that I am engaged in outside of what is being said here.

    Thank you for your comment. It helps me to continue my own evaluation of what I am saying through the articles I have written.

    John

  22. McKrae Game says:

    Dear John, first let me say I love and respect you. I was glad to see Anita and Ann’s points shared but also the last post that attempted to summarize your points. Also, the admonishments to encourage you to not share so much your thoughts but what God’s word says. Scripture says it best for us. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

    We cannot say that everyone with a homosexual past will always have these attractions. While I, and I assume you, by what you’ve shared with me, deeply love our wives and are satisfied in them despite our SSA background. Struggles and temptations and occasional attractions an identity does NOT make.

    My friend Alan Chambers said to a college group the other day, “there are those that choose to live their lives out of the filter of their sexuality, and there are those that choose to live their lives through the filter of their faith.”. He also said that,’”some in Christ come to or into agreement with God’s revelation for their life some sooner and some it takes longer (close).”

    Sharing our thoughts, new ideas, feelings, etc. is good even great as long as they do NOT conflict with scripture and does not twist and overlook scriptures to make ourselves or others feel better. While God is our healer and Redeemer, He tells us to turn from our sin and to humble ourself and to separate ourself. If we fall or if we struggle, we are to turn from our sin in confession. This includes identifying ourself with that sin in a prideful way as today’s homosexuals do. James tells us how to be free in 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Someone may still struggle but that does NOT invalidate God’s word and call for righteousness. I have fallen many times in my past and can have days I struggle more than others but that does NOT mean that God gives me grace to fall in or live in sin. There’s grace if I do but I am to turn from my sin in confession.

    Truth is you know all of this stuff. Just because many fell back and gave up that we have helped does NOT invalidate our work if we do not deviate from God’s word. My honest prayer for you is that God brings you clarity and this page be taken down. This message leads people to believe that they can continue in a damnable lifestyle and God will be just fine with that.

    Praying for you my brother in Christ.

    Love McKrae

  23. Tim says:

    I address this to Ron Smith,Michael Riley,Howard Hervey, Paul and Jessica Poulin, Anita Worthen, Anne Paulk and McKrae Game whose comments above I have read and re-read in this ongoing stimulating and necessary discussion.

    What exactly and precisely is the sin of homosexuality for which one must repent?

  24. Jessica says:

    Tim,
    “The sin of homosexuality for which one must repent”, is exactly that. Living in that sin! Living in any sin would require one to repent. The word repent means to turn away from sin. A true follower of Christ is one who has turned away from their sin to follow Him. God detests sin! We must repent and strive to live holy lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, if He dwells in a person (which He does if you are truly born again), would convict you of sin, that is His job.

    We could continue to go round and round on this subject and never come to an agreement. The fact of the matter is we must study our Bibles and know what God’s Word says! We can always justify our actions if we go according to how we feel or what we consider to be true. The Bible has to be our final authority and we must obey what it says! We cannot pick and choose what we believe the Bible says and what it doesn’t. If it’s in there, then God means it! If we are true followers of Christ then we would want to obey Him in every area of our lives.

    Please take some time and really dig into the Bible and let God show you His truth. We must take the Word at face value and not make it say what we want it to.

  25. Tim says:

    Dear Jessica,

    I appreciate your response, but you haven’t specifically answered my specific question.
    Tim

  26. Joshua says:

    First of all, I really enjoyed reading your passage. Its actually quite funny how I came around to reading it.. My name is Joshua but my “Drag” name is Jessica Grace Rivers.. I have had that name for four years. I for the first time today decided to Google my drag name to help my boredom. And ironically enough, this site was the first link posted. When I read the “Division of ex gay/gay” I was in awe! So i clicked and read and enjoyed!! All I have to say is, is that Now I have a reason to be proud of Jessica Grace Rivers..lol it has a very well meaning to me now. Thank u so much

  27. Jessica says:

    Tim,
    What exactly are you looking for? An answer that makes you feel better or the truth of what the Bible says? Please read the Bible and get a good commentary to go with it, this will help with your understanding. I think that I have given you my best straight forward answer, I don’t know what else to tell you.

  28. John Smid says:

    Jessica, I think what Tim is asking for is to define homosexuality in terms of sin. This very question “What exactly is the sin of homosexuality?” is what makes homosexuality so complicated in a Christian context. When someone says, “repent of homosexuality” there are myriads of ways that statement can be taken, and it can be easily misunderstood.

    Are you saying to repent of behavior? Or repent of the desires? Is it to repent of the orientation, or the attractions?

    Would you consider it a sin to say “I’m gay” so as to identify with others who can understand the struggle? Would it be considered the same if a man is attracted a women’s body vs. a man who is attracted to another man’s body? Would both of these be considered sin to repent of?

    Is there a difference between a man who is stuck in a pattern of having anonymous sexual encounters with other men, vs. a man who says “I’m gay” but is intentionally celibate. Are we asking the celibate man to repent? Or the man who has serial sexual encounters.

    I see Tim’s question as a very provocative one. In an attempt to answer it we can either provide a simple answer which does not give the individual a real understanding of what we are asking of them – or, we can understand that defining homosexuality is not simple with regards to the issue of repentance.

    I must admit that after 50 years of experiencing homosexuality myself and over 25 of those years in ministry with those who also experience homosexuality, there are NO easy answers to this issue.

    I deeply respect your investment in the Word of God and it’s admonition for our lives, Jessica, but it isn’t always as simple as saying, “you must repent of homosexuality.” Repentance is a gift of God and can only be understood through a trusting relationship with Him.

    I would venture to say that many men who wrestle with homosexuality have repented of homosexuality but remain in a battle with it. Sometimes to say, “God, I’m gay, ok? You deal with this, I’m done trying to figure this out!” may be an act of repentance. This would be similar to saying, “God, You deal with this life of mine. I can’t make head nor tails out of it!” as it leads to initial salvation. It is a giving up our self will and giving Him permission to deal with us as He thinks best.

    John

  29. Morgan Jon Fox says:

    Personally what I read in John’s blog is a loving voice so humble and willing to be open and quite vulnerable. It’s unfortunate that for some it seems that such a quality is undesirable. A quality that begins to really think about what it truly means to live a Godly life and how that effects the ways we treat and speak of those we share this world with. It seems to me that some people are so coldly steadfast in their one way of thinking that they must quickly jump towards the declaration that “YOU ARE WRONG”, in so much a way that they tend to define their beliefs and who they are by what they are not.

    I see nowhere in John’s blog him proclaiming that ex-gays or gays are unworthy of God’s love. However, what I do see is him asking the tough and difficult questions that it seems our creator begs us to ask…

    It is certainly a fair question to ask… where would we be today if no one asked these difficult questions? What if no one challenged, and asked questions about the ways in which current cultural biases have shaped, influenced, or distorted the messages of Christ. It is not very hard to look to our near past and see how easily this has happened, and how unfortunate it is that this has too often been to the detriment of our brothers and sisters.

    I can remember last year when John made wrote an apology letter on this blog. Many in the gay community cried foul and proclaimed he had not come along far enough yet and that he needed to say more, do more. Many said that John had written his apology and turned about-face as a publicity stunt of sorts… Something I remember asking him about directly, to which he responded. he explained that the way he felt, and the place he stood, was in such a middle ground that he was very aware he’d not have a lot of fans on either side of the issue.

    Sure enough, he is now being heavily criticized by people in the ex-gay community… People who obviously are not happy with him asking some tough questions. People who believe something so strongly, that they seem to be having a hard time seeing that he’s also believing something very strongly. People who maybe feel a little betrayed because someone who used to think exactly like them just might be in the midst of looking at things in a different way…

    So much could be discussed here, but one overall theme seems to be emanating in the blog above, and in many of John’s blogs as of late… A theme that revolves around the idea of trying ones hardest to find the best ways to relate to, and love our fellow brothers and sisters. Not perfect, but trying. A message I applaud.

  30. Tim says:

    John, Thanks for clarifying my question “what is the sin of homosexuality that must be repented of?” I couldn’t have stated it better.

  31. Ian says:

    To all,
    a very interesting discussion. Let me share in short a very summarized version of my testimony. I am a follower of Jesus Christ now. As far as i can remember i am attracted to my own gender. I did not ask for that. Having gay feelings was never ever on my wish list.

    i NEVER chose to be gay.

    Now since about a year i decided to dedicate my life to God, ask God for forgiveness for my sins.And decided to reach out for celibacy in obedience to the word of God.I personally believe that practicing sexual acts with my own gender is a sin. Since i cannot do anything about my feelings i don’t feel a judgement on my feelings. i cant help having the attraction feelings, so i believe that having the feelings is not a sin. but there is a choice of ACTING upon the feelings or not acting upon them.
    Since i reach out for celibacy and develop a relationship with God i experience Him very close. Most of the time i lead a victorious life now , but that all depends on , if i am “in Christ, or not “.

    Before i came to the point of giving my heart to God, i worked with Christians. i was struck by the love and warmth they welcomed me in their midst as a colleague ( in a christian theatre company ) because of a lack of players i as a secular actor helped them out in their productions.

    what struck me most was that they NEVER EVER were judgmental towards me. accepted me just as i was. there was only display of love, acceptance, and showing me JESUS through their lives and their attitude towards me. Whatever they thought about the “gay”issue . they kept it to themselves maybe. They respected me as one of their own while working with them. In the mean time God worked in my heart. i got a desire to know Him. and i started seeking God. reading the bible.

    In my case God showed me that giving in to my gay feelings would only bring me further away from Him. so here i am , about a year ago i asked God to help me lead a victorious life, reach out for celibacy. Some people may reach a point where all gay feelings disappear. But i know a lot of brothers and sisters who still after years and years have to fight against the feelings.

    So not everyone will experience total delivery from the feelings. Although i believe that God can take them away. Why He does not do it ?? i do not have an answer.

    i see it as a cross i must carry. it is my thorn in the flesh. and i am happy. i feel it is a privilege that i can surrender myself to God and choose to sacrifice my sexuality. and stay celibate.

    Who knows what God has for me in the future?

    I am a stage artist and i would love to use my talents to communicate to the world about Gods power and love.

    Ian

  32. Tim says:

    Ian, I appreciate your testimony here. Thanks for posting it. It comprehensively covers the issue under discussion, providing the clearest focused response to the argument in the most explicit and dramatic way.

    Tim

  33. Gentle Lamb says:

    It is a artificial divide because the notion of ex-gay is something being continually built up by the church. By itself, it will fall overnight because it is an unnatural choice to be ex-gay and needs energy to maintain.

    Ex-gay people don’t last very long being ex-gay and they will soon come out and identify themselves as gays.

    But the serious damage is being done and many have left the church. Harm is caused when we try to force a change when it is an innate same sex orientation and it is not a trivial matter of eating and not eating pork.

    It is the church that needs grace for judgement is coming for those we have wounded will demand justice. We have put innocent people in closets and the same closets will one day bind us and the ministry of Christ.

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