Posts Tagged ‘Reparative Therapy’

Well, it’s time to start going “public” a bit more.  I’ve started a YouTube channel because I really feel a calling to get my story out and to speak to the damage that ex-gay ministries cause.  Please subscribe to my YouTube channel…more great things to come!

Sorry for my lack of posting for the last few weeks.  Life has been crazy.  I will get back to my regular updates shortly.  But today I want to pause and add this post as a part of The More Excellent Way blog carnival on the subject of “inclusion”.

I am in my 40’s and have been “in the closet” for most of my life.  I lived a straight life, got married, had kids, and have been a pastor for 17 years.  All along, though, I knew I was gay.  But the message that I got from churches and from seminary was that being gay is not ok…and therefore I had to do whatever it took for me not to live as a gay man.  During the past 20+ years, I have silently struggled, constantly trying to suppress my sexuality so that I could be a “good Christian”, a pastor with integrity, and a husband and father.  Unfortunately, the result is that I ended up depressed, withdrawn, and acting out in unhealthy ways because I was trying to be something that I was not…straight!  You can only suppress your identity for so long before it affects your emotional health in negative ways.  My negative emotional health crippled me, my marriage, my parenting, my relationships, and my ministry.

18 months ago, I began a journey towards emotional health.  With the help of a counselor, I came to grips with my identity, my sexual orientation, and how living a lie has caused tremendous damage to me, my family, and my ministry.  As a result, I have recently quit my job at a large Evangelical church in our area, had to find new employment, am moving out next week, and will be getting divorced from my wife.  After so many years in the closet, I am now beginning to live a new life out of the context of who I believe God created me to be.  There has been tremendous cost to become who I already was…but I now believe it was worth it so that I can be true to myself and how I am wired.

I am in the process of planting a new church that is radically inclusive and I have found that there are many people in our city who have been a part of conservative Evangelical churches and have suffered a similar lack of emotional health due to the lack of a message of inclusivity in those churches.  Many are very wounded by the lack of acceptance…and even downright rejection…that they have felt.  It is so sad that so many of us have had to live a lie because we couldn’t be accepted a Christians in any other way!

I often wonder how my life would have been different, had full inclusion for the LGBT community been a value in churches 20 years ago.  While I am thankful for the blessings that have come out of the last 20 years of my life, I know that the pain and damage done could have been avoided if I had had even one Christian tell me that I was ok.  If only I had known that God loved me just the way I was!  If only I had learned that I could be gay AND a pastor!  If only.

My new little church plant seeks to be inclusive of everyone.  I pray that other people’s lives will be touched by the message of Grace that I hope we always communicate.  And maybe…just maybe…a life will be saved from the damage that I had to go through in the past 20 years.

Full inclusion of the LGBT community in Christian churches can LITERALLY save lives from the irreparable damage that is caused when a person tries to suppress who they are for the purpose of acceptance by God and other Christians.  While people my age can’t go backwards to fix the past, we can certain fix the future for the sake of our brothers and sisters who desperately need to know they are loved by God and others!

Some interesting perspectives on ex-gay ministry…

 

 

 

Comments or thoughts?

In the past few months, I have become acquainted with Michael Bussee and have talked to him on the phone a few times.  He is one of the original founders of Exodus International but left the ministry early on and came out as a gay man.  There are a series of videos that were made last Spring of him answering questions about ex-gay ministry.  I wanted to share some of them with all of you.  The one’s below I’m simply posting without any comment.  My next post will be a single video and my thoughts on that video.  So here are a few for you to watch…they are each very short.  But they provide Michael’s thoughts on ex-gay ministry.

INITIAL EXCITEMENT OF BEING IN EX-GAY PROGRAM

REGRET TEACHING THAT BEING GAY IS DUE TO BAD PARENTING

WE WERE ALL STRUGGLING SILENTLY WHILE PREACHING CHANGE

I NEVER SAW ONE PERSON BECOME HETEROSEXUAL

THE INHERENT HARM OF EX-GAY MINISTRIES

I just watched this video and it saddened my heart.  There is so much pent-up hurt in this guy because of what he has gone through.  I relate so much with his story…so I had to post it.

 

“Reparative Therapy” is the name for the type of counseling that claims to help people to “change” their sexual orientation.  Over the years there has been a lot of controversy surrounding this type of therapy.  The claims have “changed” (pun intended) over the years so that now reparative therapists only say that that “change” is a possibility…not an eventuality.  Regardless, the whole point of the therapy is to help a person “overcome” being gay so that they can live a straight life.

I spent two years in reparative therapy back in the early 90’s.  By the end of the two years, I thought that I had come to a place where I knew enough that I was able to “control” my sexual urges and I believed I could live a fairly normal straight existence.  Ultimately, what I learned was to deny my orientation and to suppress those feelings and desires.  I was taught to fulfill my need for men through close, non-sexual friendships with other men.  And I learned that if I stayed close to God and give my desires for men over to Him, then over time, there would be more and more healing in my life.

Guess what?  Nearly 20 years have passed and there has been no change in my desires.  I have experienced some tremendous fulfillment in close friendships with other men…and I have clung to God during those years.  But at the core of my being, nothing has changed.  All I have done is learned to “play straight”.  I’ve played the role semi-well.  After all, I AM married with children!  But to this day, I have zero attraction to women.  And I find that all of my energy goes into connecting with men.  Deep down, I know that change has been totally elusive.

You know what else?  I’ve never met another person for whom reparative therapy has worked.  Everyone I know (and I know MANY) who has been through such programs, has simply learned to “control” their desires.  They may live straight lives, but at their core, their desire to be with men has not gone away.  They have learned to suppress it but in their minds and hearts, they know that the desires will not go away.

So I’ve come to a conclusion…and it is based on my experience and the experience of many others:  REPARATIVE THERAPY DOESN’T WORK!  I desperately wanted to believe that it would work.  But it didn’t.  There may be a few out there for whom it has worked and I would guess that they were not as exclusively homosexual as those for whom it hasn’t worked.  But on the whole, I don’t believe it works.

In good conscience, I can no longer recommend it to people.  Ultimately, I know that I will need to withdraw from some of my professional connections to Exodus International and other gay-to-straight groups.  In time, that will come.  At the very least, I personally feel released from “trying to change”.

Praise God!