By Larry Jamison
I wanted to share a story for those who are confused about their sexuality, especially in light of the recent closings of ex-gay ministries like Exodus International. Even when I was under conversion therapies, I still remember that I would pick up BTL just to see if there was anything written there that spoke to me. I was desperate. But, there is so little out there written specifically for those who are confused and questioning. Being in the closet is sometimes treated with disdain rather then sensitivity.
When I was in the closet, I was friends with a guy named Chad from Canada. He was struggling on whether it was God’s will that he come out of the closet. Of course, we didn’t refer to the issue in those rash terms: to Chad and I, the issue was about whether God was approving of us living a gay lifestyle or not. Both of us had experience in churches where being gay was on par to any other sin of the flesh (envy, stealing, alcoholism, murder) or worse. We were tied to these places of worship and bigotry by the music that moved us so deeply, and the eloquent, manipulative words in the teachings we heard about homosexuality.
If either of us had doubts, the other would call on a sermon backed up with misinterpreted scripture or powerful times of worship in these places that saw being gay as a “sin.” After all, how could these ministers who had been a part of us meeting God be wrong? For us, that meant something was wrong with us — deeply wrong — not them. Chad had been molested by his father and thrown out to the streets as a young man. He later had the misfortune of being coerced into an affair with an ex-gay minister. So much for “praying the gay” away. Chad had gotten to a point that I wasn’t at: he had had enough. He saw the manipulation and the coercion of the ministries he had been part of and shut it all down. Chad chose to stop listening to his Christian music, stop going to his present church and remove himself from ex-gay influences. He explained that he wanted to hear God’s voice for himself in the silence. I was very concerned that Chad was shutting himself away from what I considered important avenues of connection.
This is something far more foreign today in our 24-hour access to friends, news, music and more, to stay “connected.” Cell phones, tablets, Facebook, Twitter – oh my! The list is endless. The result for Chad stealing himself away was this: He came out of the closet and went on to find the life he was meant to live. It would take me nearly 15 years to do the same.
It is sometimes the people, places and things in our lives that are most precious to us that we need to disconnect from to hear that still, quiet voice. The good news is it isn’t forever. It is only for the time necessary that you know you have heard the voice of truth and love. You may need to see that you have been listening to wrong voices.
God is love and not condemnation. Jesus himself is known to have said that two most important laws are: “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:28-32). When I quoted this verse to Chad one day, he replied, “Thank you. You have no idea what that does for me.” I think I do now. It set him free to see God was more concerned about love than who you love.
15 years later it was my turn. It took me a long time to trust again, to want to hear worship music that I had loved again and to accept my new self. I never heard from Chad again, so I don’t know what the end results of coming out were for him. I do know for me that it has been a great experience of finding not only freedom within me, but a truly loving, accepting Church here in the metro Detroit area. I can listen to my worship music again, and I am happier now then I ever been in my life.
So, if you are struggling with the messages you are hearing inside you, steal yourself away. Don’t wait till you need large amounts of years to recover from false, condemning messages about who you are. It may be a few moments, a few hours or a few days. When you come back, you will not only be walking on the waters of life, but you may help others in steering their boats back to safety.