By way of refuting the conviction that homosexuality and Christianity are (so to speak) fundamentally incompatible, I (via LGBT Christians: Tell Evangelicals (And The Rest of the World) Your Story) am collecting stories wherein LGBT Christians testify about their own experiences reconciling identity with faith.
One such letter recently submitted for this project is below. If you can come away from reading this letter still believing that it’s impossible for a person to be both fully gay and fully Christian, then all I can say is that I hope your lobotomy didn’t leave behind too unsightly a scar.
I was once a proud Evangelical, African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AME Zion) Christian, the son of an AME Zion preacher, and ready to answer the call on my life to ministry. Once the faith of my father became my own, I felt a denominational identity was too constricting. I simply called myself an Evangelical Christian. This was despite the fact that I was tremendously hurt and confused by the near-daily abuse I suffered at the hands of Christian school classmates, with taunts of "faggot," "girly," "gay-gay," etc.
Clearly, everyone else had figured out my sexual orientation before I had. When I thought about the fact that, unlike my 13-year-old counterparts, I didn’t seem to be interested in girls, and that I longed to be close to and have sex with boys, I immediately reasoned, "But I can’t be gay, because Christians aren’t gay, and I’m a Christian!" It was just a phase. I was not gay.
This "phase" lasted several years (despite desperate pleas to an almighty God who would no doubt free me of this "sin" that I wanted no part of anymore than He did). After struggling with a four-year addiction to gay porn, in my senior year of college I was forced to acknowledge that this must be more than a mere phase. I did what any good, Evangelical Christian would: I sought help. After a night of bingeing on porn, I tapped out the words "gay and Christian" on the keyboard, and came across Exodus International, a ministry dedicated to helping men and women overcome "unwanted same-sex attractions."
Initially, discovering Exodus gave me hope and encouragement. I went along under the notion that this was no phase, but that it was manageable, and conquerable. I dove into ministry: Bible study founder/leader in college, president of the Christian group at pharmacy school, volunteering with the youth ministry at my local Assembly of God church.
Yet the more I explored my sexual attractions, the more dismayed I became. I fervently desired a Godly relationship with a woman, to be a dad; I yearned to live the Evangelical, American dream.
What I could not shake, though, was the debilitating loneliness that overshadowed every aspect of my life, despite a loving family, a wonderful girlfriend, a supportive ex-gay community, an adept counselor, great accountability partners, service to others, leadership in ministry, a local church community, incessant prayer, indomitable determination, and innumerable ex-gay resources. As I became increasingly aware of my unchanging orientation, the insufficient satisfaction of opposite gender intimacy, and the idea that this meant a lifetime of misery without true companionship, my depression and anxiety grew, until I was ready for God to just take me home. I simply did not want to exist anymore … and begged God to have mercy on me by ending this.
I wish I could say that my Christian community responded in Christ-like ways to me when I revealed my "struggles with same-sex attraction." And there surely were those who incarnated Christ to me. But more commonly the responses ranged from indifference to muted disgust (and everything in between).
In one pivotal encounter, I had lunch with the youth pastor at my Assembly of God church. I was sharing with him my disappointment with the way in which my revelation was received by the other young adults in the church with whom I was desperate to bond (after all, the ex-gay mantra was that "healing comes by forging healthy, same-sex relationships"). I bemoaned the fact that some were nonplussed, some were cool but silent (leaving me to wonder where I actually stood with them), and some took it upon themselves to preach to me, thinking this was "encouragement."
Full text of article available at link below –