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It’s Possible: Gays and Lesbians Can Have Happy Marriages

It’s Possible: Gays and Lesbians Can Have Happy Marriages
by  Doug Mainwaring
The Witherspoon Institute

When Christian rock star Trey Pearson announced he was coming out of the closet and separating from his wife and their two children after seven and a half years of marriage, he said that his wife had been his “biggest supporter” and that “she just hugged me and cried and said how proud of me she was.”
If this account is exactly true, it is troubling. Think about the degree of social decay required—especially within Christianity—for a Christian wife to be so conditioned by popular culture that she immediately congratulates her husband for abandoning her and their children, rather than reaching out for help to preserve their marriage and family. A man who walks away from a marriage because of same-sex attraction is no different from a man who abdicates his role as husband and father for sex with other women. We shouldn’t view Trey Pearson’s actions as heroically true-to-self, but as simply selfish.
I should know. I walked away from my marriage nearly twenty years ago because of my same-sex attraction. I made a stunning error in judgment. Thankfully, our marriage has been very happily restored for more than five years now. Along the way, I learned that marriage is more than just a tradition or a religious or social construct. Monogamous, complementary, conjugal marriage is a pearl of great price worth investing one’s entire life in, a pursuit that surpasses all its imitators and impostors.
Many Same-Sex-Attracted People Are Drawn to Complementarity and the Solemnity of Marriage
Popular culture now espouses the notion that heteronormativity is harmful to those with same-sex attraction. But many who experience same-sex attraction would disagree. In seeking conjugal, complementary marriage rather than anti-conjugal, anti-complementary relationships, we seek nothing more than to fit in with the entire universe, to be part of the wonderful ecosystem of humanity and all of nature. Non-conjugal, non-complementary sexual relationships are a synthetic lifestyle, at odds with nature and the entire cosmos. Not only do we seek marriage in the only true sense of the word, we are dedicated to its solemnity and the sanctity of our marriage vows.
One man recently told me:
Over the years, I have had passing thoughts of giving up my family and marriage for a same-sex relationship or partner, but decided that in no way is it worth destroying my family and marriage for that. There is enough unhappiness in this world without me adding to it. Life isn’t all about me; I have created a family and children and I have a responsibility to them that I could never forsake. So over time, even when feeling same-sex attraction, I have chosen not to dwell on it and to remain faithful to my marriage and family. I draw immense satisfaction from that.
I don’t think of myself according to my sexuality or sexual desires, but rather as a man, husband, and father. I’ve formed many relationships that support that self-understanding and I’m content with it. I suspect that there are many married men like me with these same-sex attractions but who choose to remain faithful to our first commitment to wife and family. It’s no big deal to. Really. In fact, it’s the greatest of honors and privileges.
Like many of the married same-sex attracted people who have spoken to me over the years, this man wants to remain anonymous, because he wants to protect the happiness and security of his marriage. He would never do anything to undermine or jeopardize his family. He is one of the many unsung heroes whom the world will never know. I wish many more would step forward publicly, but I certainly understand why they choose not to.
Last year I contributed an essay to a book, Living the Truth in Love: Pastoral Approaches to Same-Sex Attraction. Here’s what a few of the married same-sex attracted men I spoke with had to say:
Kory Koontz:
I am 52 years old, a father to five awesome kids, and have been happily married to my wife, Colleen, for 20 years. I am an actor, writer, marathon runner, and I have SSA [same-sex attraction].
I may not have chosen to have SSA but I certainly can choose to deal with it according to the dictates of my own conscious [sic], mind, and faith. I stand as a voice to an alternative choice: that a man with SSA can be fulfilled emotionally, physically, and sexually in a traditional relationship and marriage, as the provider of the family and the patriarch of the home.
Jeff Bennion:
In my twenties I would have thought it was impossible that I could ever marry a woman, and even less possible that I would be happy and fulfilled in every way in that marriage. Eleven years and counting now, and I am happier than ever. That includes sexually, relationally, and emotionally.
I don’t blame people who doubt me—if I hadn’t experienced it myself, I would find it dubious myself, it’s so counter to the dominant cultural narrative out there. People like me have always been around, but we seldom have any reason to speak up. I choose to do so now not out of any desire to help myself, but to advocate for those who are in the position I was in in my twenties and early thirties, and even more, for the children whom I believe deserve (if at all possible) to be raised by their biological parents if at all possible.
Joseph Allen Stith:
I don’t remember ever being attracted to someone of the opposite sex since my earliest memories. As a boy, I kept my feelings to myself knowing I would not be accepted if anyone knew how I felt. I joined the United States Marine Corps to learn how to be a man and learn masculine characteristics I lacked. After 6 years of service, I fell in love with the only woman I have ever been attracted to and we were married. We’ve had the privilege of seeing our children grow to maturity in a loving home as husband and wife. My greatest happiness in life has come from the privilege and responsibility of raising my family in a way I have chosen according to my beliefs. Grandchildren now visit our home and our family remains close more than thirty years since our marriage.
Had I followed my own desires and impulses toward other men, my life would be very different today. . . . My children have been told many times by their friends from single parent homes, just how fortunate they are to have both a Mom and a Dad even with our reversed non-traditional roles (I do the cooking and I hate sports—totally opposite of my dear wife, and it’s ok).
And there are others. Many others.
Dale Larsen, now father of four and grandfather of nine, recognized his attractions at an early age. After nine years of marriage, and during a period of stress, his attractions “skyrocketed.” A gay relative “convinced me that I needed to be who I was—that that’s who I am and I needed to live my life that way.” She arranged for him to go on a date with another man, and Dale recalls:
I looked over and I saw a couple, his brother and sister-in-law, and their little kids and they had the same aged kids I had and the same two boys and a girl. And all of a sudden in my mind, I saw my own family sitting there and the words that came into my mind were, ‘If you continue down this path, and you can, you will lose them.’ I made a decision that that was it—I was coming back home. I wanted a family so bad. I wanted my wife.
I loved my wife. Blaine Hickman: “my feelings don’t . . . define me. I’m not what I feel; I’m what I do.”
Bill Seger: “We can choose our destiny. We can choose the direction we want. It’s not easy . . . but the blessings are enormous.”
The Power and Beauty of Marriage
In the spring of 2015, I originated an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court that came to be known as “Same-Sex Attracted Men and Their Wives.” It was submitted in Obergefell v. Hodges in support of allowing states to maintain the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. Twelve same-sex attracted men, married to women, contributed to this effort. Our goal was to let the justices know our stories, which have been regularly suppressed. We are not supposed to exist. Our existence—and the thriving of our families—threaten to undermine the narrative that same-sex marriage is the only route to happiness for the same-sex attracted.
Here is the conclusion of our brief, which sums up the message we wanted the justices to hear:
Striking down man-woman marriage laws on the basis of constitutional discrimination would thus send a message to the same-sex attracted that there is only one choice for them, that man-woman marriage is unattainable, that they are acting against their nature for desiring it, and that pursuing it will be dangerous for them, their spouses, and their children.
But the opposite is true. The man-woman definition of marriage is not an insult; it is an ensign, beckoning to anyone—regardless of sexual orientation—that the union of a man and a woman is of unique significance in light of its procreative power and complementary capacity.
The man-woman definition of marriage—conjugal, complementary marriage—is an ensign not because it is just a good idea, or the best among many. It is a bright ensign because it is the truth, undeniably displayed in nature and in each of our physical beings. We are made male and female, as complements to each other. And when male and female come together, they unite as one flesh. When two males or two females attempt to join together sexually, they remain two males or two females. To base marriage solely on romantic or sexual interests requires averting our minds from easily discernible truth.
Our stories are not based on “reparative therapy,” so-called attempts to “pray away the gay,” or other efforts to change sexual orientation. Rather, we fully accept the reality of our same-sex attractions and fully affirm our individual self-worth, just as we are. We also attest that our attractions do not dictate our relationships. While we may not have a choice about our attractions, we do have a choice about our relationships. And rather than choose the now culturally acceptable and popularly celebrated same-sex relationship, we instead have chosen marriage. The real thing.
Here’s what the proponents of same-sex marriage and the many who have passively accepted its arrival may never be able to comprehend: sex within marriage—and marriage itself—is about generously giving of ourselves, not taking what our eyes and minds covet. I would rather live freely according to reason, in harmony with the universe, than as a prisoner living according to the dictates of nothing more than hormone-triggered impulses.
Same-sex marriage is not the only option for gays and lesbians who seek personal fulfillment and familial happiness. No matter what the Supreme Court may say, marriage to a member of the opposite sex is not some kind of meaningless impossibility for the same-sex attracted. It’s the fulfillment of our deepest longings.
Doug Mainwaring is a marriage and children’s rights activist. This article is adapted from his forthcoming book, Marriage, Ground Zero: The Real Battle Dawns.

“Let It Go” by Jason Wright, Valrico FL Jason’s experience at 2015 HFW Conference

I had the privilege of attending last year’s Hope for Wholeness conference entitled “Masterpiece In Process,” at Ridgecrest in North Carolina. 
I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I did go expecting to hear more from God. And I did.
The first morning session on Thursday began with an invitation to take a broken piece of china or glass from a basket. We were to use a Sharpie pen to write on it something we wanted to let go of, and then lay it down at the foot of a cross on the last morning. We were encouraged to carry our piece in our pocket over the course of the conference. I wanted to grab a bunch of pieces honestly, but I took one translucent piece of glass that I liked. The word Anger instantly came to mind as something to write down, but very quickly I sensed the Holy Spirit say to me, “Anger is a symptom or response to a deeper issue.” 
So I set out to listen for God to speak to me about the root of my anger, so I could write on my broken piece. That piece literally stayed in my pocket for the entire conference, and I occasionally took it out and held it in my hand as a way of praying.
At some point during Friday I sensed the Holy Spirit confirm to me that the root of my anger was Control. That afternoon I went to a session called “The Father’s Heart.” It was very powerful and seemed to touch everyone present. After the session, I shared with the presenter, Tom Cole, about my anger. I shared how I was concerned that my own children could be suffering “Father Wounds” because of me, and that troubled me immensely. Tom confirmed that my children will have “Father Wounds,” because it’s inevitable for everyone, due to the fact that no father is perfect, and we all make mistakes. This realization doesn’t let me off the hook as a dad, but it does release me from trying to be perfect—something I can never be.
I shared about losing my best friend when I was 13 years old, and asked if that could be a source of my feeling a “loss of control” in my life, and if that contributed to my control issues, which in turn fuels anger when I can’t control things. Tom said, “That could be it.” I already knew that significant trauma or loss can cause anyone to feel like their world is out of control and can cause us in turn to want to maintain control in our lives, wherever possible. I am learning day-by-day and step-by-step to let go of controlling things, and to simply trust Him more.
Then something happened on Saturday morning during worship that was incredibly significant for me. We were led in a worship song I had never heard before (I learned afterwards that it was added at the last minute to replace another song). The song was “It Is Well.” We sang a couple verses, then came a bridge in the song, and the words hit me like a powerful wave, so I just sang through my tears. This is what I sang: “So let go my soul and trust in Him. The waves and wind still know His name.”
As I sang these words, I was making a declaration that I would let go of my Control, and just trust in The One who truly has control over all things. And knowing confidently that the storms of my life—the ones I want to control—are in utter submission to the name of Jesus. I finally grabbed the Sharpie and wrote on my broken piece of glass. 
Saturday night we had an opportunity to come to the altar and pray. I went up and knelt down, through tears I prayed about my Control. God was truly breaking something in me. Then on Sunday morning the time came to come forward and lay down our broken pieces at the Cross, and receive communion. I got in line holding my Control. When it was my turn to lay it down at The Cross, I literally sobbed. I just didn’t realize how much Control had rooted itself deeply in me. Some bad fruit had grown in me because of that Control. It hurt to have that root pulled, but I let it go. Once the pieces were laid down, we were able to pick up a lace cross in return—a cross to symbolize what God is giving to replace the brokenness. In my case, He gave me His Cross for my Control.
As the title of the conference, I am a “Masterpiece in Process.” But, sometimes the Control wants to re-root itself back in my life. Daily, I am letting God replace that Control with His peace and assurance. God needs me to be in a place of total reliance, and utter dependence on Him, in order to receive what He wants to give me, so I can be free of something I wasn’t meant to carry. 
I hope to see you at this year’s HFW Conference. You WON’T regret it! 
In Christ, Jason

April Voice of Hope

April Voice of Hope

Dear Friend,
Are you READY to join us at our June 1-5 conference at Ridgecrest? We would love for you to be there! We don’t exaggerate to say it’s “The experience of a lifetime!” It all begins with a leaders’ conference on Wednesday, then the general conference starts Thursday morning.

We strategically fill every day and evening with a balance of worship, testimonies, teachings, and special times of social interaction, including opportunities to rest. Our desire is that when the conference is over, each person knows this: they are not alone! We want them to leave having hope, and knowing they are part of something special—a community of like-minded believers passionately pursuing Christ.

Our freedom to gather together as Christians who are walking away from homosexuality is a blessing, but that is not the case in many other countries. Here’s one young man’s story of what it’s costing him to come to our conference, and how your gifts are transforming lives.

A gentleman from Australia has been emailing us for a few weeks. He feels isolated in his country and when he came across our website, he felt hope! He reached out to us and expressed his desire to attend our upcoming conference. He was trying to figure out how to make it. Thanks to one of our ministry partners, we were able to give him his registration. He was excited! He told us that he had already sold his car to cover the travel and expenses, and his registration was the remaining piece of the puzzle in him making the trip. 
We have amazing people we work with! People like Jason, featured in this month’s newsletter, do not always see what the Father sees in them when initially attending a Hope for Wholeness conference. But as they experience Jesus’ great love through His people at the conference, they shine! 

Would you help us to continue our efforts and help more men and women experience freedom in Christ? We hope you will join us at the conference, and we hope you will prayerfully give towards our conference scholarship fund so other’s, like our new friend from Australia, can attend. Thank you!

In order to serve you all, our small staff is working franticly towards getting ready for the conference—there’s so much planned that I don’t have space to share, so please check-out all the details on our website. We hope to see YOU at the conference!
NOTE: We’ve made a number of changes to our newsletter mailings, which means you are either on our monthly (active contributors), or quarterly (inactive contributors) mailing list. Additionally, we’ve moved to a verified mailing system (hence the new bar code). Our fantastic Office Manager, Nylene Wilds, diligently went through our database, and she found many people who had never been added to our list. WELCOME! Please let us know your interest in remaining on our list by sending in the enclosed reply card, so we can know how to best manage your information. Thank you! 

The Experience of a Lifetime!

Bob & McKraeThe Experience of a Lifetime!

By McKrae Game

Conferences have always played an important role in my introduction and growth into Christianity.

I remember my very first conference, 25 years ago. This past February 24, was  that anniversary. It was a Friday through Sunday Amway conference, called Freedom Conference. Sunday was a church service. It was intimidating, exhilarating, inspiring, and certainly drawing. Friday and Saturday, they were getting us all pumped up about dreaming and growing our Amway businesses. Then it got serious really quick. Saturday evening, around nine o’clock, Brigg Heart, the head of the organization came out on stage. “I just got word that our planes are in the air. We are getting ready to cross enemy airspace (the Desert Storm invasion). If you are a Christian and want to join us in prayer, come now. We are going to join together and pray that the Hand of God goes before our troops, protects them, and gives them victory.”

This experience was life changing! In an instant, God came down on me like a flood! I started crying uncontrollably! My friends didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know what was going on! God was doing a work! He was pressing into me to the point that I could not refuse. He was introducing Himself to me in such a strong, overwhelming way that it was really undeniable.

The next day, Sunday morning’s church service, the tens of thousands had cleared out. Now, it was a more relatable crowd of about three thousand. Story after story was shared about God’s amazing love, His drawing, and interventions. Seeing these faces in praise and worship, I thought to myself, “These people have what I’ve been searching for.” Still then, I did not yet know exactly what it was. I’d been raised in church my whole young life, but I’d never asked Jesus into my heart. Up till then, my life seemed to repeatedly go from the mundane to crisis. This was now something completely different! The gospel was presented and I went for it. I was the first up to the stage. I never really thought it through. God had so primed me, it was as if we were doing it together. Still to this day, I believe He pulled my chair out for me and walked with me to the front. He was there. But now, He is here, with me always.

I cannot explain to you how much this experience impacted my life. Still to this day, I cry every time I write or speak of this experience. Yes, even as I wrote this.

It didn’t end there, though; this was just the start of my journey with Christian conferences. Next up was Promise Keepers.

Two years later, 1993, I was on a bus with a group of men from my church, headed to Boulder, Colorado. Some men had gone the year before; they wanted us to experience what they had. A few on the bus knew of my past, but it wasn’t a public thing for me at the time.

I can’t tell you what it was like being there together with thousands of other men, about forty thousand in all. This time, instead of dreaming of being rich and growing a business, we were celebrating Jesus. From all across the country, all types of backgrounds, different colors and denominations, collectively lifting our hands, our hearts, our voices to praise our Lord and King—Jesus Christ. Going to lunch together, having college kids and thousands of charcoal grills cooking some of the best grilled chicken I’ve ever eaten. Sitting on the grass, hanging out, and just enjoying being with one another.

Life started happening, good things and bad. I continued going to Promise Keepers conferences. Eventually I met Julie; we dated and married. We started trying to have children, really trying. She was charting her cycle, going to the doctor, eventually starting hormone therapy. Nothing was happening! We were going crazy! We were both a mess! I was a mess! A long story—I got back involved in gay porn and ended up having a one-time sexual fall with a man. Julie had caught me with the porn, and forgiven me, and was loving me through it. How though, could she forgive the adultery?!

She wasn’t surprised, and agreed, when I told her that I needed to get back involved in counseling. It was there that I learned about a regional Exodus conference, in Harrisonburg, Virginia. I knew in that moment that I needed to be there. God had always met me at Christian conferences in the past. Julie still didn’t know of my fall and I was terrified.

Both scared, we drove the five and a half hours to Virginia. We didn’t know what we were getting into. What type of people would be there? I asked Julie if her stomach was turning flips like mine was, “Yes!” she replied. We knew no one there.

When we arrived, we were greeted with very warm and normal faces. We instantly felt at ease, knowing we were in the right place. There were not thousands, about one hundred fifty in all. We put our things away in our cozy cinder-blocked room, with two twin beds, linoleum tiled floor, and a shared bathroom with the next room. The room had not been decorated since its construction in assumedly 1950. This was NOT a hotel room like we were used to. I’d never been to jail, but this was the closest I’d ever wanted to come to it. We went to meal time, the food thankfully, was very good. But the praise and worship? The testimonies and teachings? Like nothing I’d EVER experienced! These people knew me! This wasn’t Amway, this wasn’t Promise Keepers. This wasn’t my church. We ALL could relate to one another. We were there because we struggled with or had a past in same-sex attraction and homosexuality, or were someone who had a family member caught up in homosexuality and/or the struggle.

This alone, changed the atmosphere. There was none of this—“What would these people think if they knew my struggle?” There was a relaxed atmosphere of being okay with not being okay. I cannot express to you how that felt.

God met me in such a powerful way that long weekend. My wife still didn’t know of my fall. I was counseled by a leader at the event to wait and tell her when we got home. I was pretty scared, but through it all, God spoke to me. It was at this event that I heard Him say that this was the ministry He had called me to.

BonfireIt was also at this conference that I learned about the Exodus national conference in Seattle, Washington. I knew then that we would be going, it was just a matter of working out the finances. I asked my mom and my church for help. There again, the same experience, but larger. I was hooked! I never missed another Exodus conference. I spoke at the last one. When hearing of our new network, people’s main concerns to me were, would the conferences continue? I understood their concern. These conferences had become a lifeblood to each of us.

It’s the one time a year when you can fellowship with people that truly “get” you. You can be yourself and not worry what anyone thinks. You can collectively worship unashamed; your struggle, your inclinations, your failures are understood by everyone around you.

Your opportunity to attend a life-changing conference is approaching quickly. It’s not what we do, though. Sure, we work very hard on the details, so that everything is perfect for you. We understand that it is a sacrifice of cost and time, and we also understand the apprehensions of coming to an event like this for the first time. But, once you make it through the doors, that all goes away. In an instant, you know you’re in the right place. You’re in an “elite fellowship that gets you.” This was how my wife phrased it, when I tried to explain to her how much the fellowship at the conferences meant to me.

This is way more than a conference. You’ve never been to anything like this! This is not some serious, boring, rigorous conference. This is actually a lot of fun! Yes, it can be overwhelming. God’s power, His pressing, His drawing, will be there in such a way that you may have not experienced before. There will be testimonies, teachings, classes, conversations, prayer times, that touch you in such a profound way that you won’t be able to hold back the tears. But there will equally be such fun times around the camp fire, conversations around the couches in the lobby, and meal times with new friends that you don’t want to leave. You’ll not want to go back to life as it was.

You won’t have to, because you will have been changed. The old you is gone. The new you now has a hope that you did not have before: for yourself, for your family member, for your sanity. 

You’re accepted. You’re loved. You’re changed.

These stories and much more are in my book, The Transparent Life

These conferences laid a foundation of who I was to become. They aided in awakening the man I have become, the man I’ve learned to enjoy that has accomplished so much. Your journey awaits you at the HFW Conference!

DO NOT MISS THIS LIFE-CHANGING EVENT!

Jesus Above All Register 

What the Church needs: Community

CommunityWhat the Church needs: Community

My Experience at Hope for Wholeness’s Annual Conference

By Mark Buzard, Lisbon OH

If you have ever gone on any kind of Christian retreat or stayed at a Christian camp, I believe that is a bit what community looks like, though more than that. When I think about church community, I envision Christians being more involved with each other, really caring about each other, taking care of each other, and being around each other outside of the church walls.F

I go to church Sunday morning and Sunday evening. I usually speak to a few people and carry on some conversation, usually with the same people. (We do tend to have our cliques.) I don’t go to church on Wednesday evenings for reasons I won’t share here, so most of the 52 weeks of the year, I only see my fellow church attendees on Sundays. There is no deep conversation, no sharing, no personal time.

I have a problem with that. We need fellowship, not just a few brief conversations in passing while at church for worship services. As a single guy, I may feel that void more than married people, and have less chances of filling that void; though I am sure married people may feel the same way.

The last two summers, I was able to experience a time of real community. Hope for Wholeness is a ministry/network for men and women dealing with unwanted same-sex attractions. I am one of those with same-sex attractions, that Hope for Wholeness ministers to.

They have a 4-day conference in June, and I was fortunate enough to go the last two years. What an amazing time.

Imagine you have a secret you want no one to know about. You hide it for years, afraid people will find out and condemn and ostracize you. Now imagine being at a conference center surrounded by people who have the same secret or struggle, or are family members of someone who has the same secret. It is amazing and freeing!

I found the times of worship helpful and very encouraging. The speakers, and the workshops were worth going for, and it was profitable to my soul and Christian walk to be a part of. I don’t want to minimize those blessings and what they did for me. Those things are not the most memorable parts of the conference for me though.

If you have never had a major struggle such as mine, then you cannot imagine sitting down at a table with 8-9 guys who have the same struggle. You can’t imagine what it is like to be able to freely discuss your struggles and your story, to hear their struggles and story, and have no fear of being condemned, judged, or ostracized. To look around at the tables full of people just like you: messed up people, broken people, imperfect people, people with no masks.

porchEvery afternoon before supper, there were different groups you could go to. The group I participated in was for men only and met on the large porch of one of the conference buildings. There were usually at least 30 or so guys sitting in a circle. There was a leader that facilitated the group. Men openly shared their struggles, their past. Some had lived the gay lifestyle, some were married and cheated on their spouse with another man. One man had started the transgender process and then became a Christian,

There were times we’d gather around and pray for a man after he brokenly confessed how discouraged and how he was hurting. Hugs were freely given and words of encouragement were shared. This was community like I had never experienced! This was sharing, caring, and loving on a level I had never had among Christian brothers.

I’ve stood by while people joked about gay people. I’ve heard the hateful comments, even from Christians. I had a friend lean up to me in church after a speaker mentioned the issue and tell me that “they should just hang all those homos.”

I’ve sat in the pew for years needing love and encouragement, deathly afraid people would find out my secret. I was lonely, scared, hurting, confused, and working overtime to appear “normal” to everyone. I’d hear people’s prayer requests and knew I could never stand up and request prayer for THAT.

But at this conference, there was none of that! Masks were left off campus. New friends were made, friends who could relate to what I deal with, friends who weren’t afraid they’d catch something. I had no fears of praying about my struggles and someone hearing.didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to go back to wearing a mask, having superficial conversations with Christian brothers and sisters who I only see at church on Sundays. I want more! I need more! I got a taste of true community that I never had at any church or campground. People had time for each other, people were honest and open and caring with no need for masks.

Mine has pretty much been ripped off out of weariness of wearing it, and thanks to Hope for Wholeness.

Facebook Groups website iconThanks to Facebook, I can continue to engage with this community of the men and womenmet there, and by way of Hope for Wholeness’s Facebook groups, I can share, ask for prayer, and pray for them.

This is a “life changing event,” as they say it is. I hope you will join me in June at Jesus Above All, this year’s HFW Conference theme. I can’t wait! And consider joining us on Facebook. I’m thankful for Hope for Wholeness, the conference, and the groups. I’m thankful it provides me with encouragement and community.

The God Ask

McKrae AnniversaryThe God Ask

By McKrae Game

As I’m writing this, we are in the last few days of getting ready to travel to Fort Myers, for our very first Hope Rising conference in Fort Myer’s, FL.

We’re wanting to take this one day conference around the country. We’re excited to have just found out that we received a grant from a local organization to help offset some of the costs to bringing Hope Rising to our hometown, Spartanburg, SC. Our goal is to bring Hope Rising’s educational and encouraging message to individuals and families around the country. Hope Rising is just one of the many things we have on our “God-ask” list.

Recently I sent out a financial appeal via social media and email, due to being unable to pay salaries and rent. I said in the announcement, “Many of you DO support us on a regular or semi-regular basis. But the reality is that a few times a year our coffers are empty, and this is one of those times.” I received a book in the mail—The God Ask—by a ministry partner with a check for $200 and an encouraging note. The book is for mission organizations and individuals who are tasked with raising their own support. This gentleman knows what it’s like, having to raise his own support for his ministry. It centers on being fully funded, focusing on “the God ask.” As I’m reading the book, I realize that we have a LARGE job ahead of us.

In a cost cutting effort, we have had to remove some 400 recipients from our monthly mailing and moved them to quarterly. We’re hoping to receive their gift, to continue their monthly newsletter or at least move to e-news to stay in touch.

I’m also reminded that we ALL have our own God-asks, and God-asks are what this ministry is ALL about, and it has been since the beginning.

This is the month for anniversaries! My wife and I just celebrated our 20th anniversary, 21 years since our first kiss, and the 24th of February is my       25th year as a Christian and away from the homosexual life. It’s also this ministry’s 17th anniversary since its launch in 1999, and the same month as our first Hope Rising.

When I walked away from homosexuality, 25 years ago, I had never even heard of a former homosexual. I’d certainly never heard of Exodus. My world didn’t come crashing down when Exodus closed, as I’d like to believe, I grabbed its torch before it even hit the ground. This month, we’re featuring a blog from one of the men that I’ve quoted before. Mark has certainly come out of his shell being a part of Hope for Wholeness and I’m very proud of him for all his progress.

Please consider all of our anniversaries in this month’s giving. We’ve got a   God-ask, for sure. He’s the only One that can move upon the hearts of those we serve for change in their lives, and He’s the only One that can move upon the hearts of those who He’s already set in place to support this ministry’s work. We each have our own personal God-ask, for our lives, for our journey, and for our own finances. Our ministry’s God-ask is to help us move past the financial shortcomings; to actually have a surplus so we can help more people, hire more staff, and help those He places in our path. Help us to pray, work, and bring in the resources that God has provided.

The God Ask

McKrae AnniversaryThe God Ask 

By McKrae Game

As I’m writing this, we are in the last few days of getting ready to travel to Fort Myers, for our very first Hope Rising conference in Fort Myer’s, FL.

We’re wanting to take this one day conference around the country. We’re excited to have just found out that we received a grant from a local organization to help offset some of the costs to bringing Hope Rising to our hometown, Spartanburg, SC. Our goal is to bring Hope Rising’s educational and encouraging message to individuals and families around the country. Hope Rising is just one of the many things we have on our “God-ask” list.

Recently I sent out a financial appeal via social media and email, due to being unable to pay salaries and rent. I said in the announcement, “Many of you DO support us on a regular or semi-regular basis. But the reality is that a few times a year our coffers are empty, and this is one of those times.” I received a book in the mail—The God Ask—by a ministry partner with a check for $200 and an encouraging note. The book is for mission organizations and individuals who are tasked with raising their own support. This gentleman knows what it’s like, having to raise his own support for his ministry. It centers on being fully funded, focusing on “the God ask.” As I’m reading the book, I realize that we have a LARGE job ahead of us.

In a cost cutting effort, we have had to remove some 400 recipients from our monthly mailing and moved them to quarterly. We’re hoping to receive their gift, to continue their monthly newsletter or at least move to e-news to stay in touch.

I’m also reminded that we ALL have our own God-asks, and God-asks are what this ministry is ALL about, and it has been since the beginning.

This is the month for anniversaries! My wife and I just celebrated our 20th anniversary, 21 years since our first kiss, and the 24th of February is my       25th year as a Christian and away from the homosexual life. It’s also this ministry’s 17th anniversary since its launch in 1999, and the same month as our first Hope Rising.

When I walked away from homosexuality, 25 years ago, I had never even heard of a former homosexual. I’d certainly never heard of Exodus. My world didn’t come crashing down when Exodus closed, as I’d like to believe, I grabbed its torch before it even hit the ground. This month, we’re featuring a blog from one of the men that I’ve quoted before. Mark has certainly come out of his shell being a part of Hope for Wholeness and I’m very proud of him for all his progress.

Please consider all of our anniversaries in this month’s giving. We’ve got a   God-ask, for sure. He’s the only One that can move upon the hearts of those we serve for change in their lives, and He’s the only One that can move upon the hearts of those who He’s already set in place to support this ministry’s work. We each have our own personal God-ask, for our lives, for our journey, and for our own finances. Our ministry’s God-ask is to help us move past the financial shortcomings; to actually have a surplus so we can help more people, hire more staff, and help those He places in our path. Help us to pray, work, and bring in the resources that God has provided.

Helping Others Walk Away From Homosexuality

Helping Others Walk Away From Homosexuality

By McKrae guys huggingGame

A few months ago, I shared that I wanted to start educating our readers better on understanding homosexuality and same-sex attractions. A big part of my ministry is encouragement to those who, like myself, continue to struggle despite their devotion to Christ and their seemingly best intentions to do right. This is the purpose for my book, The Transparent Life, where I vulnerably share that, despite struggles and failures, I fight on.

This January 27, my wife and I will celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary. On February 24, I’ll be celebrating my twenty-fifth year in the Lord and twenty-fifth year out of the homosexual life I led for over three years. Yet, despite these incredible milestones, my wife is the only woman I desire and I’m okay with that—and she’s thankful for that. Next month, I will be writing about what all I’ve gone through to get to where I am today.

Throughout my Christian life, I’ve noticed that many do not seem to want to hear about ongoing struggles. I feel that many leaders and pastors are very nonchalant in how they refer to the Christian life as seeming to be easy. As if, all you have to do is follow Jesus and your problems go away. He lifts your burdens, right? All things are old, the new has come, right? And those of us who have a past in homosexuality need to just give it to God, walk away, get delivered, go to counseling, read some books, go to a conference, or all the above. And then it’ll all be in the past. It’s no big deal—just do it and you’ll see, right? This is the message that I, and many others I’ve heard from, are irritated by.

It seems like it’s not proper church etiquette to admit struggles. The reality is, our burdens don’t disappear when we follow Jesus, but they are now shared with Him. However, the old thought patterns and struggles don’t just go away. It’s not as easy as getting “delivered” and never having another problem again. There is the reality of struggle with the mind, the body, the enemy, and the world we live in every day.

I often feel alone, like The Lone Ranger. Am I the only leader sharing about having ongoing struggles with the flesh—specifically with same-sex attractions? I rarely hear others talk about their own struggles, the struggles that we ALL experience.

I get frustrated when men and women give up on their faith, or compromise their beliefs, because their struggles haven’t changed to their satisfaction. I hurt for them. I want to help them, but many have given up. What you and I can do differently is why I’m writing this article. 

Why do we continue to struggle? Why is it so hard for people to walk away from homosexuality? It’s my personal belief that it’s so hard to walk away, because this issue is taboo to talk about (for a related article, see Homosexuality: The Leprosy of Christianity). It’s taboo to admit struggles, period, much less homosexuality. People want to be normal and to fit in. Many in the church don’t make it easy, though. I and others are doing our part to be real. How about you? Are you ready to step out and allow yourself to be vulnerable so that others may be free?

Many in this type of ministry will tell of their journey, but they leave out the hardship. And worse, I rarely hear them tell the whole story of where they are today. They say, “I’ve changed,” but typically are not specific.

I think every day about the men and women who are on this journey, who are listening to us, reading what we write, and desiring what we have. What do we have? Do they think we have a struggle-free life? Do we act or talk like we have a struggle-free life? Have we become just like every other shallow man or woman who is vague about their temptations and falls? Far too often, our vagueness leads to very wrong assumptions. I don’t want to do that to people. Maybe I did that in the early part of my ministry, and if I did, I apologize.

Because I’m not vague, there are people who accuse me of being gay, all because I’m honest of where I’m at in my journey. They say, “See, it doesn’t work, listen to him…” That’s fine. I’d rather be honest than tell half-truths, leading to false assumptions. To tell half of the story is to tell a half-truth, and in my book, to tell a half-truth is to tell a lie.

The truth is—this journey isn’t easy. Regardless of your struggle, following Christ as Lord and dying to self is NOT easy. Coming out of a past of homosexuality is wrought with identity struggles, past hurts of abuse and neglect, insecurities, debilitating fears, and compulsive habits as coping mechanisms for the pain.

The reality, though, is many people have these same issues, just not related to same-gender attraction. 

We don’t make it easy for people who are attempting to walk away by keeping our struggles to ourselves. When we don’t admit to others what we came out of and what we currently deal with, we contribute to the ongoing fear of sexual issues, especially the phobia of homosexuality. Notice I didn’t use “homophobia.” I’m not saying we need to be “okay” with homosexuality. I am saying we need to be a safe person for men and women who experience same-sex attraction to be able to admit their struggles, as well as their failures. How are any of us EVER going to win this fight if we are supposed to keep it all inside?

I know many men and women who feel ashamed for simply being tempted towards homosexuality. I firmly believe that JESUS IS NOT ASHAMED OF OUR TEMPATIONS. We shouldn’t be ashamed, either! He’s not ashamed of what He has brought us out of and what He is walking us through. As in Isaiah 61:3, where He says He makes “beauty from ashes…for the display of His splendor.” What makes your struggle with pride, anger, judgmentalism, adulterous thoughts and possible actions, sexual compulsions, gluttony, blasphemy, greed, and on and on, any better? It ISN’T! But, if we would share our past, our burdens, our struggles, and help the person who experiences same-sex sexual attractions know they are not alone, they will be able to bear their burdens more easily. It will make this life doable, and we’ll hear fewer people say, “It didn’t work.” We’ll have fewer suicides, fewer people returning to homosexuality, and more people finding victory over their compulsions.

Does this sound crazy? Good. In a recent interview, Bono of U2, was asked about his belief of Jesus. He said, “Jesus was either the Son of God or He was like Charles Manson-crazy. He couldn’t have just been a good teacher and say all those things.” The gospel message is crazy to the world and to our flesh. If we’re going to live successfully, we will need to daily die to self, share each other’s burdens, and confess our sins to one another. That is the Christian life!

You may think it’s crazy, or I’m crazy, but if you love people, then you’ll stop hiding.  And if you want people to find victory, then you’ll stop treating this issue as worse than your issues. Please do not stigmatize people for having a struggle that’s different than your own! If you do, then you are rejecting someone who needs your help. Whether you’re a pastor sharing a message from the pulpit, or a regular person in the community, please share your story. We all have an opportunity to be real and share our story—our whole story. Will you join me?

A few scriptures on sharing our stories are: 1 Corinthians 10:13, Rev. 12:11, James 5:16, along with Matthew 5:14-16:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” 

“I Have Always Felt Different”

“I Have Always Felt Different” 

Understanding the Root Issues of Same-Sex Attractions

Manger2This month’s article is a follow-up on last month’s titled “Why Did You Choose This?” Contact us if you have a suggestion for a future article on helping you and others better understand this often confusing issue.

People have sought me out for answers to the “why” questions of homosexuality for over twenty years; sixteen in formal ministry. The information I’ve gathered comes from an eclectic knowledge base, including, but not limited to: the Bible, scientific research, conferences, workshops, my own personal journey, and most of all—helping other people of all ages and mentoring leaders.

As I’ve said many times, transparency is key to freedom, so I continue to share my life in order to help others become free. As I listen to people’s stories, I hear the same phrase, “I have always felt different.” Combined with that is their feeling of being all alone—of not knowing anyone else who really understands them. Many in today’s culture believe that those who experience same-sex attractions have only one option—to live homosexually.Hope for Wholeness does NOT attempt to alter people’s attractions. Rather, we are here to help people align their lives—relationally and sexually—with God’s Word. This is the beginning of true freedom.

What does aligning one’s self with Scripture look like? For many of us, it began by simply admitting to someone that we had attractions and feelings we didn’t understand. With this admission, we released the burden of our secret. And we either experienced gaining a trusted friend, or endured an even deeper hurt and rejection through our confidence being betrayed.

A big portion of our journey is discovering what it truly means to be a man or a woman. This journey is filled with both terrifying and exhilarating opportunities that challenge and mature us.

An excellent example of what it means to be a man is Joseph. He demonstrated what it took to be a man: he was a faithful follower of God, he deeply loved his wife, and worked hard as a carpenter to provide for his family. This took daily effort on Joseph’s part to demonstrate who and what a man is. This is not a concept children are born with. Rather, boys and girls develop their understanding of their gender as they watch and interact with Mom and Dad, especially their same-sex parent. They, in turn, learn from interacting with their same-sex peers, as well.

Many leaders do not wish to site the “developmental model” because not everyone fits the “mold.” I agree that we are all unique. However, I cannot ignore the overwhelming number of men and women who actually do fit the development model. A model that attempts to answer the question, “Why does a person experience homosexual attractions?”

Here is an excerpt from Dr. James Dobson’s November 22, 2006 interview with Larry King Live (CNN). Dr. Dobson, an acclaimed child psychologist and founder of Focus on the Family, often speaks on genetics and development.

KING: Do you still believe that being gay is a choice rather than a given?

DOBSON: I never did believe that. Neither do I believe it’s genetic.

KING: Then what is it?

DOBSON: I don’t blame homosexuals for being angry when people say they’ve made a choice to be gay because they don’t.

It usually comes out of very, very early childhood, and this is very controversial, but this is what I believe and many other people believe, that is has to do with an identity crisis that occurs too early to remember it, where a boy is born with an attachment to his mother and she is everything to him for about 18 months, and between 18 months and five years, he needs to detach from her and to reattach to his father.

It’s a very important developmental task and if his dad is gone or abusive or disinterested or maybe there’s just not a good fit there. What’s he going to do? He remains bonded to his mother.

KING: Is that clinically true or is that theory? 

DOBSON: No, it’s clinically true, but it’s controversial. What homosexual activists, especially, would like everybody to believe is that it is genetic, that they don’t have any choice. If it were genetic, talking about twin studies, identical twins would all have it. Identical twins, if you have homosexuality in one twin, it would be there in the other.

KING: Right.

DOBSON: So, it can’t be simply genetic. I do believe that there are temperaments that individuals are born with that make them more vulnerable and maybe more likely to move in that direction, but it usually is related to a sexual identity crisis.

There have been a number of resources I’ve drawn upon over the years to help solidify my thoughts regarding the “why?” of same-sex (sexual) attraction. I’ve heard many people defending their side of the argument, while real men and women—stuck in the middle—remain hurting and confused. Let’s stop debating and start coming alongside those in need.

Before a young man or woman decides to identify as gay, each one did the same thing we all do: they sought for meaning in their lives. They wanted to be “normal” and craved to “belong,” yet, they repeatedly ended up on-the-outside-looking-in. They see men and women together, boys talking about girls, and girls talking about boys. They want to be just like everyone else, but instead feel very “different.” This is a terribly confusing mind-set to experience—especially when one feels like they cannot openly share their feelings of being different.

Too often when people have opened up about their homosexual feelings to someone in their life, they have been ostracized or demonized. Today, young people are being swayed over to the “dark side” of liberal thinking that basically says, “Children confused in their gender should align with homosexuality as soon as possible.” Both of these reactions are incorrect, unloving, and unbiblical.

Then, what is correct, loving, and biblical? This is part of answering the “why” questions. Let me share a bit of what I’ve learned on this subject, in what’s called the developmental model.

Starting at birth, it’s a mother’s job to nurture and protect her children. However, a boy must move past this protection. He CAN’T grow and mature into a man and remain a boy. In order for a boy to start launching into manhood, he must push away from his mother. When Seth was about two, I remember my wife crying to me, “He doesn’t love me anymore! He thinks you hung the moon!” I replied, “Sweetie, he’s supposed to separate from you. Didn’t you know? I did hang the moon.”

Over the years, I’ve seen a pattern called the “kitchen-window-boy.” Mom’s little boy is scared and yet, for whatever reasons, he’s not running to Dad to embrace what Dad has to offer. Instead, the little boy remains afraid and attached to Mom. He’s also often Mom’s closest relationship, instead of her husband.

I vividly remember this occurring when I was a boy. I remember looking at my dad and not knowing what to think of him. I was really not a part of his life. I always wondered why he didn’t play with me in the creeks, or with my Legos, or whatever I was into. He was into his things and I was into mine. We lived two very separate lives. I was so envious of my sister, who always seemed to have Mom and Dad’s attention. I put my sister’s dresses on, wondering what it was like to be her. Consequently, I’d be around strong boys and fearful of them, yet very much envious.

Putting on my sister’s clothes seemed to be an unusual response to being scared and feeling isolated. I later discovered that my thoughts and feelings were actually very common among men that ended up developing same-sex attractions. We didn’t understand or connect with our dads, which led to our not identifying as “one of the boys.” Instead, we feared and typically very much envied them. These interactions in young children enforced the lie that they were “different.”

One reason many homosexuals believe they are born gay is because of interactions that occurred prior to five years old, which is earlier than most people are able to consciously remember. So, when a person says, “All I ever remember is feeling different,” then their assumption is they were born this way. This is NOT about parents causing homosexual attractions. It is how a person interprets their environment, of how they felt they measured up to everyone else, and where they fit in with their same-sex peers.

Contrary to many people’s speculations, not all people who have been sexually molested develop same-sex attractions or become gay-identified. (This topic is so important topic, it needs more attention.)

A key issue in the development of male same-sex attraction, is a lack of separating from Mom and attaching to Dad. With women, it’s somewhat more complicated. Girls are not supposed to leave mom, but rather, bond with Mom, as well as be blessed in her femininity by Dad.

Alan Medinger states in his book, Growth into Manhood, that boys who develop same-sex (sexual) attractions did not go through the phase that is commonly known as adolescence. This is the period when boys prove themselves to themselves and others, developing a sense of self. In turn, this helps them to believe they are equal to their peers.  The kitchen-window-boy is too fearful to launch out and engage in rough play, or even if he does, he still remains feeling isolated from his father and other males. A boy who “feels different” can begin to see males as more “other” than “same.” In puberty this “otherness” can become sexualized. If not appropriately dealt with, these feelings will continue into adulthood.

When a child doesn’t know that other children have insecurities, they feel “different.” When they feel different, they often isolate themselves—and often others shun them because of their supposed differentness. This isolation breeds more internalizing of their feelings, causing them to fixate on their perceived inadequacies. Many people have experienced these same patterns, without developing homosexual attractions. Instead, they might deal with hyper-masculinity, or hyper-femininity within women, where they feel they have to prove their sexuality through flirting, sexual conquests, and/or pornography. Some turn to gambling, drinking, drugs, and other forms of escape. Others seem to develop normally, but their issues are just not as obvious.

As followers of Christ, we are to continuously admit our struggles, temptations, and failures, AND surrender them to God. Ever-straight men and women are not encumbered with trying to understand their gender—this already developed naturally in their life. For those of us where this did not happen, we must do two things simultaneously: not surrender to what may feel natural—same-sex sexual attractions—while also learning to intimately trust our same-sex in healthy relationships so we can “become.”

In order for any of us to become the man or woman God created us to be, we must deny our flesh, take up our cross, and follow Him. In this way our needs WILL be satisfied, and when we are satisfied, we mature. Maturing is much more satisfying than fixating and worshiping another.

The truth is that no one chooses to have homosexual thoughts, feelings, or attractions, but each are faced with what to do with them. The important thing is—you or your son or daughter are not alone. We are here for you and your family. You have someone to talk with who understands. 

To join one of our groups, please complete our online form at www.hopeforwholeness.org > Connect > Facebook Groups. You’ll find a loving and encouraging group of men, women, and family members—of all ages and from around the world—ready and desiring to encourage and pray for and with you.

Contact McKrae

Why Did You Choose This?” Understanding Same-Sex Attractions: How Best to Respond

Why Did You Choose This?”

Understanding Same-Sex Attractions: How Best to Respond

Kid finger in earsIn last month’s article, Homosexuality: The Leprosy of Christianity, I shared my plans to  educate more on the confusing issue of homosexuality. This is the first article in this venture. If you want to help, please submit your questions and/or suggestions on the reply card.

I can remember when I “came out” to my family when I was nineteen. I didn’t use the words, “I’m gay.” I think it was more like, “I like guys more than girls.” I remember how emotional it was on both sides and the questions asked of me. I also vividly remember what led up to me finally risking sharing with my family. I was terrified.

If you’re a parent whose child has “come out” to you, you might not have had any warning. All of a sudden, you’re thrown into this world and are understandably upset. Everything was going as normal, and suddenly, it all changed. One day, out of nowhere, an incident rocked your world. Perhaps you found something on your son or daughter’s computer, they sent you a letter or an email or had a talk with you, or they made a public announcement and you found out, along with the rest of your friends and family. To say the least, you’re shocked.

“Why? Gay? That’s disgusting! Don’t you know what the Bible says? Why did you go in this direction? What will everyone think? WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS?”

Your son or daughter is upset, too. They finally got up the nerve to tell you, and now they feel assaulted by what seems like crazy questions. This is what they feared most, or worse—to be thrown out.

“CHOOSE?! I didn’t choose these feelings! I didn’t choose to have these attractions! I didn’t choose to think and feel this way! This is who I am!”

Your child may have been told that their Mom and Dad wouldn’t understand. “No one does, unless they’re gay.” The subject about “choices” is steeped in both ignorance and propaganda. Those are powerful motivating factors in my writing this article.

Typically I ask people I work with, “Why do you believe people are gay or have same-sex (sexual) attractions?” Very few have any idea. One young man started crying when I asked him this question. “I don’t know. I have just always felt this way. I’ve always felt different.”

Homosexuality—feelings, attractions, behaviors, identity—is an extremely emotional subject. People, especially young people, want to feel “normal.” They want to belong—to fit-in, be accepted, and respected. How you and I respond to them will either be helpful or harmful, so to accuse them of “choosing” sexual responses to their same gender is very UNhelpful.

Where did this word choose come from? Often, it’s what parents have heard from church, friends, or simply what makes sense to them. The assumption is that everyone has heterosexual attractions. Anything else seems a willful choice of rebellion against God and their parents.

Not only did I live as a gay man for a few years of my young life (19-22), but I also struggled with gender-identity issues from my earliest memories, and in some ways still do. It started off with struggles of not understanding my dad, as well as coveting my sister and all the attention she had. Part of this coveting was played out through my secretly and habitually dressing in my sister’s clothes from age 5-12. I wanted to be her—or at least, I wanted all the attention she received. I definitely wondered what it was like to be her.

As I entered the sixth grade, I started envying strong males to the point of fixating on them. When puberty hit, all this confusion with the same gender became sexualized. My attractions seemed fixed towards guys. At age 22, though, I walked away from homosexuality and began following Christ as Lord. However, my attractions didn’t leave. My desires for a wife and family motivated me to grow and eventually led me to start dating. I fell in love with Julie, we married, and had a family. I’m thankful and content. I’m blessed beyond measure! This did not, however, negate my experiencing same-sex (sexual) attractions.

So, when someone says people choose to have homosexual feelings, I can speak personally that this could not be further from the truth.

So, what are people supposedly choosing? Are they actually choosing the romantic and/or sexual attractions? Are they choosing to act out homosexually? These questions contain simple words, but the reality is: the answers are anything BUT simple.

Those who experience same-sex (sexual) attractions and/or feelings go through a series of occurrences, a series of thought processes, and a series of influences, which often start early in childhood. Each child develops personal perceptions regarding life—their family, friends, environment, and particularly, themselves. Their perception of themselves as a boy or girl is often the main area where they “feel different.”

Many people who experience same-sex (sexual) attractions accepted Christ into their life at an early age; yet, still end up developing sexual attractions to their same gender. A simple, realistic, and fair statement is: NO ONE chooses to have homosexual feelings. No one.

Even choosing to act out on one’s feelings doesn’t have a simple answer, because it is SO DIFFICULT to know what to do when the hormones are raging and the temptations are piling up. A person can just get tired of fighting, and many give up.

So, when someone finally risks in sharing with you their struggles, inclinations, or how they’re living, PLEASE do not shame them. Shaming is NEVER helpful.

Just as importantly, we shouldn’t have a “coming out” party and celebrate, either. Instead, we need to listen. We need to honestly examine and share about our OWN relational/sexual struggles, rather than simply focusing on theirs. Only then can we authentically encourage God’s plan over what may feel natural. Condoning what is against God’s natural order and plan is not helpful and is extremely reckless. Just glancing at these statistics is proof of that.

The 2011 CDC HIV Infection among Adolescents and Young Males shows an infection rate of 92.8% for homosexual males ages 13-19 years old and 90.8% rate for ages 20-24, with only a 3.7% to 4.2% rate of infection for heterosexual males. Condoning and encouraging homosexuality in a child’s life may be what the culture promotes, but is not what’s best. Encouraging and loving a child, family member, or friend toward God’s plan of holiness and wholeness IS what’s loving and best. Actually, YOUR living a life of holiness and wholeness is what’s going to speak louder than your words.

Reacting in rage, guilt, or shame is NOT helpful. Many of us are WAY TOO QUICK to jump on our soapbox, when what is really needed is to just listen and/or cry with someone who is hurting and confused. Our friend or family member simply needs someone who cares enough to shut-up, sit down, and listen. Their life is literally on the line.

I implore you to be patient, kind, and attentive. Listen. This IS the best chance at helping your child, family member, or friend. Pray that God softens their heart and opens their mind for His plan for their life. Offer to walk alongside them, even if you don’t personally understand.

I believe those who struggle with same-sex issues tend to have a heightened need for healthy, intimate relationships. They tend to not understand them and tend to not have them. They desperately long for them, but are equally afraid of them.

Being someone’s friend who has same-sex attractions is INCREDIBLY VALUABLE! Calling for no reason, texting to check-in, asking them out to lunch or a movie, means more than you realize. Invite them into your home with your family. Be willing to listen. Don’t get impatient. Be a friend. In the end, you will have saved someone’s life, because you will have given life. You will have shown what true love is.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16).

Thankfully we serve a patient God (2 Peter 3:9), who loves us (John 3:16), and walks with us (Leviticus 26:12). The biggest thing we need to be concerned about is whether our child, family member, or friend knows Jesus. If they truly know Him, despite failures or wayward ways, He will direct their hearts. I can promise you it won’t be an easy road or simple process, but whose life is? Let’s choose true love and friendship over inspecting someone’s life. It’s NOT about having to win an argument.

In the end, God’s Spirit is the only true One with any real chance of convicting of sinful choices, and convincing someone of His plan and purpose for their life. Can we be used in the process? Absolutely! Yet, God tends to work best through those who accurately reflect His love.

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).

How will YOU choose to speak?

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