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Posts Tagged ‘homosexual’


A Life Lost to Suicide

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016


bb04fec3aa1dc09590b4dd91583b7db9Throughout the years I was involved in leadership with ExGay ministries those in the LBGT community often said that we were causing suicides. I often dismissed their accusations, as I perceived them to be attempts only to discredit our work. Sadly last week, January 15, 2016, Jim, a man that was in the Love in Action program back in 1994 committed suicide.


In 1994, Love In Action was considering a move away from San Rafael, CA. As we discussed our plans, during Jim’s  program time with us, he came to me saying that his church back in Memphis, TN would gladly welcome our ministry there. He introduced us to his church leaders, and as a result, we chose to move the entire ministry to Memphis in December of 1994. At that time, Jim was excited about being involved with an ExGay ministry. He was hopeful that he might find freedom from what he believed was a besetting sin. Jim finished the program, moved with us to Memphis and stayed in the program for a follow up year. He seemed to do well and to be thankful for his involvement.


But, along with so many who were part of the Love in Action program, after they moved on, they evaluated their participation and had mixed reactions. When I reconnected with Jim a couple of years ago I discovered he was really struggling with his life and had lost a great job because he was so discouraged. After twenty years of trying, he found his life was under severe depression. He had not had any change in his sexuality as he had heard could be his experience, and yet he was really trying to maintain his relationship with God. After so many years of hearing messages of shame and guilt about being a gay man, he just couldn’t seem to get over his internal discouragement.


A long time friend of his wrote this upon Jim’s death:


Jim left this life today. I knew him 32 years. We were in school together and moved to Gatlinburg for summer jobs from college. Jim was a survivor of the Exodus program. I blame them directly for this. Christ died for Jim, and Jim loved the Lord. No one can separate us from Christ’s love. Thankful, so very thankful we had just spoke on the phone. All my love, Jim.


I’ve reconnected with close to 200 men and women who were involved with Love In Action during the time I was there (1996-2008) I cannot tell you how many struggled intensely with depression afterwards. As I think back to the overt and covert messages that were communicated through Exodus International and through Love In Action, clearly we are accountable for laying out a message that conveyed that people were broken, deceived and wounded because they were gay. We encouraged them through messages of hope that they would experience change if they believed, followed biblical instruction, obeyed and repented of their homosexual temptations and behaviors.


LGBT people have heard messages like:


  • “If you’re gay, you are an abomination!”
  • “Until you repent, you’ll never find a good relationship with God, or others!
  • “If you’re gay, you must submit yourself to God and God will heal your brokenness.”
  • “You’re gay because you had a negative relationship with your dad, and you were overly enmeshed with your mom, or you were sexually abused.”
  • “You were emotionally dependent on that man that you were so close to. That’s sinful and you have to break that off and can never talk to him again!”
  • “Don’t believe the lies the devil tells you! You are not gay!”
  • “Maybe you could get married to a woman and that will help you to not act upon your homosexual inclinations.”
  • “Stay away from anything gay, or connected with your homosexual lifestyle.”


Hearing those messages over and over laid out a negative foundation of belief that some people never overcame. These messages were especially destructive since they were connected to one’s spirituality and relationship with God.


But it wasn’t just Exodus leaders that hold accountability for the discouragement that so many within the LGBT community face. I was part of the communities in several churches throughout my years at Love In Action. Exodus messages were not unique, but they are the messages I heard from the pulpits of many of those churches, through the fellowship discussions, and from radio and television venues. Much of the doctrine and theology I had in those days came directly from those who were teaching me how to live the Christian life and how to overcome my sinful temptations towards homosexuality. I heard the messages loud and clear.


I’m so very sorry for all of the ways I was involved in communicating these shaming and erroneous messages. Jim’s life was clearly wounded by them. He never found his freedom in this life. For this, I am deeply grieved.


Jim’s struggle in this life is over, but the horrific and negative effects on Jim’s life while he was here, will be remembered for a very long time through those who knew him and most closely heard his pain. Jim’s sweet temperament, his kind soul, his beautiful voice will also stand out as unforgettable.


We must continue to evaluate how we have dealt with LGBT people wrongly. We must continue to look deeply into ways we have been complicit in shameful, degrading, and accusatory ways we have spoken towards the LGBT community. We must be willing to admit where we have judged LGBT people as being worse, more depraved, and in need of deeper repentance than others.


join_the_fight_against_lgbt_suicide_button-r70f400623e1948cf88320df5785c5651_x7s24_1024How many more beautiful lives are we willing to lose?


An excellent article by a friend, Stephen Long,  on this very struggle.


Homosexuality, Depression and the Church by Stephen Long


 

Real People – Real Lives

Friday, January 7th, 2011



mailbag_3

John, how much of your ministry deals with homosexuality?


Current Reader


Dear Current,


Interesting that you would ask.  I think this will answer some of your questions.


Real lives, Real questions, Real faith, Real people, Real challenges, Real feelings, Real needs


Profiling and personal prejudice occurs daily for most of us. We make assessments of a person when we know of their career, their skin color, their gender, and many other outward physical attributes. When we look at other people or hear about someone, our minds make quick judgments as to who they might be or what they might be like. When we were children we were taught to judge. Black and white, tall and short, deep or shallow were often opposites that helped us to learn to compare and contrast things in our lives. This is just the way it is to be and it is a good thing.


But, when we judge, what do we do with our findings? Our filters get all clogged up with life experience, cultural teaching and schooling material. As a Christian, I find it extremely important to put Christ into the mix of my judging practice. I also believe it is significant to put myself into others shoes as I see them from across the room, or from across the street.


Over the holidays I have been doing some evaluation of my life, my time, my heart. I realized that I am often rapt with a burden for certain people. They call upon my heart often, in person, and in spirit. Yesterday I sat down and compiled a list of people that t fit a specific slot in life.  I have met some of them in person, some of them over the phone, some through social media like FaceBook. These are people who are often pre-judged, profiled and laid aside from preconceived notions as to who they are.


I felt compelled to develop the list because I want to remember them in prayer this year. I want to bring them before the father in intercession. I have connected with them in heart, and in my soul. These men are questioning life at a very deep level.


Feeling alone much of the time, sometimes lost, and often confused but even in the midst of all of this they are survivors at the core. They seem to get up each day and make it through to their pillow that night whether or not they feel resolved with life. Some of the questions will never be fully answered. Many of their desires will go unfulfilled and their questions about faith may never find solid answers. But they continue on with life stumbling over rocks, tripping into the ditch sometimes and a times exhaustion that requires rest that doesn’t always refresh.


Some of these men are Christians. They believe deeply in the gospel of Jesus Christ and they know they have received His eternal forgiveness. Others are not so sure but they keep trying to understand God’s grace more fully. Then there are those who are searching for what God is really all about.


They range in age from 18 to 60. Living all around the world their cultures drive their lives with what seems to cause even more of a daily struggle. Some have great family relationships, others have ongoing battles that never seem to find an end. There are also those whose families are far away and not connected much at all.


Professionals, hard laborers, students, and the unemployed they are pretty normal in their daily lives. Trying to pay bills, manage their homes and life sustenance brings another level of struggle and conflict but each one on the list seems to eat, sleep, and move through the piles of daily needs. God seems to be providing for them even when sometimes it may be only like the manna the Israelites ate while in the dessert.


They all have one very significant thing in common. They struggle with homosexuality , Jesus, God and their faith. They are not “ex-gay” meaning they have resolved their homosexuality with Christ and have made a clear cross over the divide away from any homosexual associations. Neither have they come to a place where they have found peace with being gay and live in a gay affirming world.  Most of them are in the mysterious and uncomfortable middle ground searching for some resolve to their quandary.


Aren’t They Just a Bunch of Queers?


In conversational circles I often hear people refer to “the homosexuals” or  “gays” and it can be connected to thoughts of promiscuity, political activism, perversion and other negative associations. While there may be some who do some of those things.  But to judge someone as extreme just because of their sexual orientation is to profile, to act in unreasonable prejudice.


I thought one of the best ways to break this observation would be to let you see a little bit of what I see in their lives each week would be to excerpt some of the things that they have written. A bird’s eye view will help you to understand a little bit of what I am talking about.


This guy wrote me with some questions and I replied back. This is what he said:


I have been thinking about what you said and I am ready to hear your view points on life, being gay, etc.


I am just so glad to have a trusted friend to bounce my random thoughts to. Thanks it is a great honor to call you a friend. I hope you enjoyed the holidays and look forward to hearing back from you.


One man shared some things and ended up with this comment:


All I could really do is cry and say “I need help. Whatever you can do. Thanks.” Too much to go into.

To be quite honest, I am a doubting Thomas. I guess I always have been. Not that it is a bad thing. I don’t think a deity wants a robot that doesn’t think. Just trying to find God or have it find me. Depending on the day, it seems to be harder for me I think. :)


I often refer people to things I have written when talking with them. A comment that came back showed me some of the heart issues that they faced:


I must say your last message brought tears to my eyes. It’s been so long that someone who claimed to be a Christian (besides my partner) talked/wrote something to me that showed any respect for me as a person. So many are willing to try and convert me but unwilling to listen to what I have to say. I don’t know how many books/novels are sent to me and when I say that I’ve read similar books many times, they tend to get mad. I can see their point, but when I bring up questions, they don’t want to hear it as I said before.

As I said, I ask some tough questions. This one you may or may not be able to answer. Many people see that I am a “realist” or “agnostic” and automatically thinks that means I’m an atheist. I have had many people who call themselves Christians say some of the nastiest things to me about me questioning matters of faith. Some of them have hurt so much that I don’t even want to discuss matters of faith since when I ask a tough question, I get attacked normally.

Now I realize that I’m in the minority and don’t expect a warm welcome, but I do expect people who call themselves Christians to show some basic honesty and respect. I’ve given up on expecting love and kindness. Any ideas on why this happens?


A young guy that is in college caught up with me on FaceBook. I knew him when he was just a teenager. I just asked him how he had been and he sent me a pretty thorough update.


I left Christianity because I couldn’t reconcile the inconsistencies that I have seen in scripture, Christians, and my life in general. I know that’s a pretty broad statement, but it took me easily three years to come to that conclusion, through all of my readings and such. Though it’s not perfect, I feel that Judaism gives me a belief system that is more rational as well as a religion that “changes” with human understanding…if that makes any sense. I find that organized “religion” does stifle relationship.

My parents on the other hand are an interesting story…they have at least opened up to allowing my partner to visit and meet the entire family, which is a very big step. But the relationship is still strained at the same time, since I am “living in sin” as they like to say. I sense their displeasure very strongly. My partner is pretty nervous about meeting them for that reason directly, as well as he isn’t too keen on being “witnessed” to…since as a Jew he has a lot of baggage when it comes to Christianity.


There are times when someone moves towards the desires to connect with someone who understands even when it goes against his personal conviction. This guy is a very conservative Christian who has fought for years to remain close to his convictions to remain celibate. He struggles terribly with loneliness and desires to feel connected to someone he can relate to.


I feel torn about this relationship but at the same time I want to be with him. I like him as a person and enjoy his company. However, he is “out” in the gay community, which is something I don’t really care for or subscribe to. I know that the end result, should I remain sensitive to my convictions, will be major hurt and pain for both of us. Maybe I just want some relief from the pressure I feel and this is the way I am seeking it. Maybe it’s just time to enter this world that has been knocking on my door for so long. I feel so selfish, yet it feels OK.


My response to him was to see Jesus first and foremost. I asked him to consider leaving all of this to Him and that he would find his way through this. In the end, amazingly, the new guy broke off the relationship sensing that there was a spiritual and emotional struggle. He just didn’t “feel it” so called an end to the relationship. My reply was to encourage my friend to look at God’s grace in this, protecting both of them from unhealthy ambivalence when engaging in an intimate relationship.


A Heart of Love

Some men really call my heart out. This guy was only 19 when I first met him. He is now in his thirties. He has wandered all around in his life but it seems he has settled into a same sex relationship. He told me that he is not satisfied being in this relationship but that is where he is at this time.


I’ve been in an 8yr relationship now with my partner (name withheld), and I knew going into it that it wasn’t what God wanted, yet my life HAS indeed changed for the better, and it hasn’t all been bad. I think God works even when we choose to go our way. Now, my mustard seed of faith is all that keeps me bound to God’s truths… Please just pray for me as I believe I’m beginning to question things a little more… Thanks John… and take care. Love, your bro.


This dear friend is someone who is really searching and trying to live a life of faith in Christ.


It is my goal to get to know God and his love. I’m enrolled in a 9-month ministry course that has me studying the word daily. So hopefully I’ll get to know Jesus through reading His word and by spending time with Him. I’ve found that I’ve looked for God’s love through people. For example my perception of God, in a negative way, is from the relationship I have with my father. For example my father is controlling sometimes and mean. Well naturally I assume that God is like that. Sometimes I feel like I love Jesus so much (especially with helping the needy etc.) and then sometimes I feel like I don’t love Him at all. For example when I seriously think about drinking a glass of wine I wonder if He is going to get angry with me. I do serve him with my WHOLE heart though.


You asked me about having a person that I can be vulnerable around and the answer is yes. I went out on a limb and shared with my friend, that I live with, that I have same sex attractions and that I feel like I’m living a double life. He said he accepts me for who I am. That made me feel good. There are times when I want to say to people….”man he’s cute or did you see that guy?” of course I never do. I just hold it inside and wonder what will happen.


It was someone’s birthday and I felt led to share this comment with them, “I just wanted you to know how special you are and that you are deeply loved, friend. I am not sure how often you hear that and just wanted you to know.” His reply touched me.


That is sweet of you! Thank you. I don’t hear it enough.


A couple of summers ago this man came to meet me with his dad. We had a rich conversation and he became very vulnerable about his conviction of being an agnostic. He was highly intelligent and I just listened to him. Several months later I contacted him to follow up and this was his reply:


I made one of my New Year’s Resolutions to give God another chance, and I got off to a fairly strong start by reading the book of Matthew. The problem is – and this is what I was referring to in my last email – that I feel like I need to spend a long time studying and thinking about this stuff to make any sense of it. There is so much in this book that confuses me. I’ve been so busy and there just isn’t enough time so I just lay it aside and dig into my daily work.


Real life, real stories, real people.


What is the answer? I struggle each time I talk to someone or write them to try to encourage them. What do I say? What is the word, or the response that will touch their heart in a place where they will move closer to Christ. I know He is the answer. I understand that He, and only He, will be able to set them free into what He has for them.


In truth, the best thing I can do is to show them I love them and that I will listen without judgment. I want so much to show them that I care about what they are going through and what they feel. And to add to that, I understand the struggle with homosexuality. I wrestle with it too. Sometimes I am on top of it and other times it really bothers me. There are times I have some of the same questions. What would Jesus have to say about this? What do I do about what I am feeling right now? Will this last until my dying breath?


I remember those days when I tried to give the simple answer. But today, those answers don’t fly any longer. Too often typical Christian answers are “repent” or “trust God” but in the end, those don’t typically bring the real hope needed in order to connect with Christ.


I want to spend extra time this year focusing on these guys and others that I come into contact with. They deserve to hear of Jesus love for them! I want to be one of the vessels to let them know that. I pray there are others!


Every homosexual man and woman deserves to know that Jesus loves them! We must learn to love each one and then trust Him to show them the way.