A Brief “Healthy Christian” Survey

Since coming out, some folks refuse to believe I am a healthy Christian and have lots of questions. I don’t answer each time because the context is usually full of argumentative landmines. That said, some of the questions are good ones in their own right. Here are a few:

How often do you read the Word of God?

I have read it more than the millions of Christians over time that will never have the current canon of scripture. I have read it less than those Christians who believe the Bible is the fourth person of the Trinity. The true test isn’t how often you read the Bible as it is today. The true test is if Jesus, the incarnated Word of God is truly alive and enough to lead us through our journey. Many without the Bible will encounter Christ’s Spirit and/or hear of Him and be just as saved as we are.

That said, over the past 26 years I have read the protestant Bible from cover to cover more than a few times; other parts of it at least hundreds of times (especially Jesus’ teachings). I still draw Light, Life, and spiritual energy/nourishment from the Spirit and His teachings through the scriptures. Plus, he isn’t limited to a printing press. Our Creator manifests in the world around us all the time. One way or another, I experience the Word of God every day.

Are you praying regularly?

Of course. Prayer is an opportunity to learn and it keeps me centered. I also believe in the positive energy and insight it generates. But, I don’t wear it on my sleeve or walk around acting like I glow like Moses. However, while scheduling prayer and being in a particular position to pray works for some people, it does not for me. I am more apt to pray while ironing, driving to work or sitting on the balcony while the breeze hits my face. Prayer is a natural part of life for me, nothing to be glorified in and of itself. Some Christians try to turn it into some weird mumbo-jumbo supernatural freak-fest or a joyless ritual; no thanks. It’s a part of life and simply is what it is, life-giving.

Being gay, do you miss the closeness to Christ and His gifts flowing through you? (yes, I have been asked that before.)

No. I don’t miss that because I still have spiritual intimacy with Christ and experience His gifts daily. Again, I just don’t parade it around like some who choose to think that somehow the New Covenant is best represented by self-stylizing as an Old Testament Prophet. It’s even more amazing how amplified, natural, and unfiltered this part of my journey has become. It’s simply beautiful watching the life and gift of the Spirit unfold without being confined to a “brand” of ministry or feeling the need to “inform” others about what “God said to/showed me…” today.

Do you go to Church?

I avoided it for the first couple of years since coming out because it was just too difficult and I felt like I was only going through the motions. Now I go whenever I can. I actually work a 10 hour shift on Sunday’s (10am to 9pm) so I can’t go to regular church services. That said, the community I have the joy to experience now is life-giving and I have found that while church is important, The Body of Christ lives in hearts, not behind four walls. My “spiritual” community also includes those who don’t follow Christ. God’s not limited to those who know all the same talking points we do.

What is Christ “convicting” you of nowadays?

“Convicting” is a legal term of being found guilty of breaking a law. I don’t live under the law but under Christ’s finished worked so it doesn’t apply. That said, in cultural Christianity what is really being asked is, “How is God convincing you to change your behavior and thinking from unhealthy to healthy (basically to repent)?

Recently, I feel the Lord has been teaching me a lot about what I am putting out into the universe and the types and ways I expend energy. I also believe I am learning a lot about how anger (a legit emotion) is best expressed, but malice toward any one person is unhealthy and counter-productive. For example, Jesus had incredibly harsh things to say about the spiritual leaders of Israel, but I don’t believe for a second He ever had malice in His heart toward them.

Lately, I recognize malice in my heart toward some of my former friends who are still ex-gay ministry leaders. It’s one thing to oppose the abuse they are perpetuating, strongly. However, it’s unhealthy and hurtful to allow malice to set up residence alongside that legitimate anger. Two wrongs don’t make a right but that doesn’t mean opposing the first wrong isn’t necessary.

Jesus said to love and pray for your enemy, not ridicule them and call them an ass. At this point I don’t feel bad for calling them an ass but … pretty sure it isn’t Jesus approved. šŸ˜‰

To conclude…

For those interested in where I am at on the topics above there you go. If you have other questions feel free to leave a comment or message me privately.

You are loved,

Prayer: Blessing, Indoctrination, or Curse? What’s The Impact on Kids With LGBT+ Parents?

The other day I had my first mental argument with my partner’s ex-wife.

Dan and I have been together for almost 16 months. At first I just wholly avoided any talk about his ex-wife or what was happening with his daughter, The Magnificent Fairy Princess. It was not my right to do so. Now that we are further down the pike, I have become The Magnificent FP’s Fairy Godmother and love her so much. That said, I still tread very lightly. 99% of the time I keep quiet and only seek to support Dan as he processes what is happening with his ex and in raising The Magnificent FP.

That “I’m over here if you need me” approach was challenged when I learned that his ex-wife had two visiting “ex-lesbian” speakers at her church pray for The Magnificent FP after children’s church last Sunday.

I learned of this at work. It was driving home where I had my internal argument with Dan’s ex. But then I thought, why does this anger me so much? No doubt his ex, very conservative/legalistic Christian that stigmatizes LGBT+ people has prayed for Autumn regularly about us. I have no doubt others in that community have prayed for her along similar lines. I realized my anger came from the fact that she pulled in two women who have bought into the ex-gay/conversion ministry ideology, theology, and mythology. Words have power, and the analytical protector in me wanted to know exactly what was said so I could counter it. I was mid-way through my 14 point counter arguments when it hit me…

Wait up. Nope. Wrong response.

The Magnificent FP doesn’t need her Fairy Godmother’s past issues and assumptions transferred into the situation. What might be helpful is to stop, pray for wisdom and glean from what the Spirit brings to me and from my past experience.Ā  From there, there might be tidbits that may help Dan.

Personally, this is what keeps tumbling through my head about The Magnificent FP situation:

  • Keep it simple. Let her know if she has questions to never hesitate to ask and never be made to feel she is being put in the middle of a fight between adults.
  • That we do not directly contradict her mother to her. Just offer her the truth as we see it. We love each other, we love her, and we all love Jesus.
  • EmpowerĀ The Magnificent FP (as appropriate to her age and maturity) to decide for herself what to believe about the experience (and of course, the various issues represented). We can trust God, and our own witness to speak the truth of our reality to her. We can believe her, a very bright, loving and intelligent young girl to make up her mind. We will love her unconditionally regardless of her journey and beliefs.
  • Extend grace to Dan’s ex by not engaging in hurtful dialog or assuming the worst. Forgive and release her for the hurtful and hateful things she says about him and our relationship. Honor the forever truth that she loved and was with Dan for over two decades. They have a lot of powerful and important shared history.

On a different take, I have also seen prayer used for good and bad. I have been guilty of the bad so what is shared below is definitely learned from tumultuous experience.

Prayer as a catalyst for blessing – God wants us to pray for His will “on earth as it is in heaven.” So when we purely seek his guidance, influence, and intervention in our lives. God is love, peace, and a Good Shepherd…trusting that His will transcends our own and may not look like what we expect is crucial; He is His own Person with His own Will. Being open to seeing His Will not being dependent on our assumptions, or even strong beliefs…that’s genuinely praying for His blessings (not our assumptions or expectations) to come to us and others.

Prayer being used for indoctrination – sometimes prayer veers from honestly seeking God’s will outside of our own and is used as an eyes-closed verbal soapbox to repeat culturally conditioned talking points. It’s used to get someone on the same ideological page and not actually fulfilling the purpose of prayer; it becomes talking to oneself and others instead of talking to God.

Ironically, it was Leanne Payne’s book “Listening Prayer” that taught me this lesson (Leanne Payne was an ex-gay icon at one point in her life.) She explained how sneaky “neo-gnostic” prayer can be Neo-gnostic prayer is what she called listening to one’s own inner voice and mistaking it as God’s Spirit. In effect, it imposes personal will while masquerading as seeking God will. All the while watering the fields of delusion and steering the ones being prayed for toward a predetermined and assumed “answer to prayer.” It’s indoctrination disguised as an intimate spiritual conversation.

Curses disguised as prayers – If a conservative Christian is praying that Dan and my eyes would be opened to the selfishness and darkness of our relationship, that person is not praying for God’s love and will for us. They are assuming very nasty things based on cultural and religious stigma and not reality. That’s just one example. Another would be if someone is praying that The Magnificent FP is not “deluded” by us, they are not accepting the fact that God formed our family, that we are actually healthy and positive influences on her. They are in effect “cursing” us and our relationship with her and creating a sense of alienation. Instead of praying for the best, they are using their spiritual influence to bear false witness and undermine/alienate our family.

Again, Dan and I believe in Christ as our Lord and Savior. We are just as “saved” as any other Christian. We are also “light in the darkness.” To call us anything other is to dishonor God’s image in us and His sovereignty in forming our family. To say we are spiritually blind, unhealthy, broken, selfish (or anything along those lines) are lies (curses) and untrue.

To conclude this post šŸ˜‰

This whole Fairy Godmothering thing is … a trip! I am so grateful God has allowed me to be in our little family and to go through life with each other. Even though this situation was a bit unnerving, there is no other place I would rather be than in Dan’s loving embrace, enjoy watching The Magnificent FP’s Grand Adventure and living out God’s abundant blessings.

On that note, my conservative Christian siblings… if you are praying for us…Ā  thanks for the blessing of seeking (not assuming) God’s will for our family and us.

Being Free is Good,

The Death of Billy Graham

Today, Billy Graham ended his long run on this earth at 99 years of age.Ā I have seen a number of posts from beloved Christian conservative friends who idealize the man. I have seen posts from beloved LGBT+ friends (Christian and otherwise) villainizing the man.

Both groups have made some really good points.

When I heard the news of his passing, I got a little emotional but the overall sense of peace realizing Mr. Graham is home with the One he loves the most, Jesus. I spent too much time hating Mr. Graham the first time I was out in the ’80’s. However, while I was in the church closet from ’92 to ‘2015, I actually read a LOT about his life story and teachings. I fell in love with his heart for Christ. I forgave him his ignorance toward the gay community and God’s love for us but of course while in the closet I agreed with him about “sexual sin and brokenness.” Since I came back out in 2015 I forgave him the bad and hold on to the good I had learned about him. It’s what I hope people will do with me so it’s important to extend the same.

It is public record that Mr. Graham dishonored the image of God in LGBT+ people (saying we are disordered and sinful) and disrespected the deaths of our HIV+ friends as possible “punishment from God.” I can completely understand the broken hearts further tortured and stigmatized by those words wanting to dishonor his death with similar curses. I don’t agree with doing that unless it is for a beneficial end of getting to a point of releasing, forgiving, and working toward the greater good. Meaning, if a wound needs to be vented and cleaned, do it. I am here to help if you want.

I am a Christian. I am Gay. Today instead of dishonoring an imperfect man, I would rather visualize what I believe to be true. That today Mr. Graham met Jesus face to face and his tears were wiped away with peace and joy. I choose to believe that meeting is the most beautiful moment of Mr. Graham’s passing. I also choose to visualize LGBT+ saints who have passed from this earth before him are greeting Mr. Graham with open arms. That the ones who passed from AIDS are extending loving embraces of forgiveness to a man who was, on earth, seen as an enemy. I choose to believe that Billy Graham has experienced his first day of complete peace including the truth that we LGBT+ people are as much a part of God’s family as he is.

Now, if his children would get a clue… the world would be a little better place.

Being free is good,

When Finding a Church Home, What’s A Conservative Christian Gay Guy To Do?

With permission, here is a very thoughtful message I got from Mr. M. It’s a bit long but I want to include all of it for context. I will parse it out and respond to each section.

Hey Randy, I’d appreciate your perspective as someone who has walked the same path as I have. After many years of involvement in “ex-gay” ministries I have come to realize how negatively that experience has impacted me, my faith, my ability to find a community where I feel like I belong, and most importantly my relationship with Jesus. I recently ended a four year relationship. While there were other issues in our relationship, I know my experience in ex-gay ministries negatively impacted my commitment to make things work. In the back of my mind I always, in a way, viewed the relationship as temporary. I subconsciously told myself: My relationship with Jesus has to be my priority, and in order for Jesus to accept me, I’ll have to end things at some point and “return” to the Lord. In the breakup’s aftermath, I have determined to do two things: Find healing to ensure that I am fully committed in future relationships, and return to my faith, which I felt I would have to abandon if I were to accept who I am as a gay man. I believe I need a Christian community to help me achieve both goals.

Your message already reveals a great deal of wisdom, insight, and humility. I am sorry you had this hanging overĀ your relationship. Four years is a longĀ time and if it is possible, I hope things will work themselves out to bring you back together. If not, I hope you will be blessed with ongoing insights as to how the relationship has helped you become a better person. I don’t know you or the relationship but if for some reason your prayers/meditations reveal the need to make amends to your former partner, don’t hesitate to do so.

One thing that pops out immediately to me is that mankind was not created to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Things went a little off the rails once we did in Genesis 3. We were created to eat of the Tree of Life. It is the fruit of the Spirit that brings life. Where the Spirit’s fruit exists (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.), we clearly see life in Christ whether it is being done in His name or not. Relationally, I have experienced the fruit of the Spirit in even more profound ways since accepting who I am as a gay man, being in a relationship with Dan, and at “home” in the LGBT+ community.

That said, I totally get that “feeling” that somehow this may be too good to be true.Ā  The dark cloud of old curses come up looming from behind. I call them the muffled voices of the stained glass closet trying to convince us that somehow we “fell away” and have “rejected God.” The truth is, we didn’t fall away because Christ is our Good Shepherd. He promised to never leave or forsake us; we can’t fall out of His hand even if we jumped! To think we can is to assume we have more power than a loving and omnipotent God. That said,Ā it’s obvious we still love Him and have zero desire to leave Him. Being our true self, our core relational sense of being is our way of honoring Him. By living out how He created us to bring relational and creative beauty into the world we are fulfilling part of His intent for our lives. Reject the culturally conditioned lies. The truth isĀ He is leading us forward into life; we have not and are not “going back” to anything. We are not broken. This is the next stage of our spiritual maturity and we can walk forward with confidence.

That need brings me to my dilemma, for which I would appreciate your advice: I know I can’t go back to evangelical churches. It would be a shame factory for me, and I know I would need to live in a closet to avoid conflict and judgement.

Agreed. The evangelical churches have been culturally conditioned to believe they are the only churches with the “right” set of answers and beliefs. As weird as it sounds, even while being booted out the door, many of us carry that belief with us even though we can’t in good conscience attend there anymore. They are not the only churches and in truth, we (and so many more) are as much the church as they believe they are. Our communication right here and now is accomplishing a function of the Body of Christ. Expanding our view of what God intended in establishing the Body of Christ will free us from the idea that evangelical churches (or any denominational churches) are our only true “home” or the template to evaluate other churches by.

I have equal hesitations about going to gay-affirming churches. While I accept that I am a gay man who is loved by God, I am still conservative in a lot of my beliefs and ways of thinking. There is just so much of liberal theology that I cannot accept. For example, a local gay-affirming church affiliated with the UCC won’t preach on the Cross because of the violence it represents. The type of philosophy behind such positions is something I’m not sure I could ever support. So my question to you is, how can I find my place in a community of faith? Is there a place for me? Did/do you have those kind of difficulties? If you did/do, how do you overcome these obstacles to live your life authentically from both sides of the equation?

Yay! Accepting Gay man loved by God… yay! Love hearing that! šŸ™‚

And, is there really any church that will ever fully align with our beliefs? Some might come very close but there is always *something*…right? The example you give is a highly consequential belief so …sure… keep looking. Again, I don’t know you, but I would caution to not judge them harshly or close your heart to what they are offering. Because what I have also learned is that while there is always that *something* to disagree with, there is always another thing to be blessed by and/or invest in. Maybe their theology on the Cross prevents you from attending on Sundays, but what about their heart of service to feed the poor on Tuesdays? Maybe you don’t go there but their Pastor passionately advocates for justice for the LGBT+ community or some other issue you do agree with. What, if anything, do you see the fruit of the Spirit in?

One thing that helps is to realize that I can still believe what I want to believe and not worry about being rejected by others. Other people only have the power I give them. It’s not up to other believers to provide me a spiritual home. I am home; Christ abides in me. I think it is very much like Christ to try to find the life-giving good in any situation and invest in it. Unlike authoritarian churches and religious leaders, I reclaim the power Christ has given me back from them to decide where I invest my heart, time and resources. I don’t have to fulfill a formulaic approach to “kingdom” participation. Even if we have yet to find a church “home.” In Christ, we are never spiritually homeless.

Again, don’t go somewhere you can’t support, just be careful to not let the muffled voices tell you that somehow the struggle to find an affirming faith community is evidence that there isn’t a “legitimate” one. YOU are the legitimacy; we are the Body of Christ even with our wild, weird and sometimes strange arrangements. For me it isn’t about either vs. or, it’s about love plus life.

I have definitely gone back to my more liberal’ish origins of my young adult life. That said, I am still quite conservative on my theology and even on some social issues (that aren’t LGBT+) related. I do believe in the Atonement; the reasons for it and the circumstances that fulfilled it. But I have shed my need to follow the culturally driven conservative playbook. It’s not my job, nor within my capabilities to try to make others believe the way I do. I am not perfect and slowly getting better at my default being, “Where is evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in this person or situation?” Honor them and respect their beliefs and build from there.

Also, keep in mind that LGBT+ people have all the same beauty and frailty as any other community of people. The muffled voices have placed inordinate consequences on us that is neither fair or accurate. It’s ok that the LGBT+ church and community are just like every other human on the planet. We cannot escape the frailties of what it means to be human even though we are living our “authentic” selves. I say this because it is easy to try to idealize, and then be disappointed by, those we agree with in the LGBT+ community. However, those old voices love it when that happens so remember if we do experience hurt and disappointment, it’s not because we are LGBT+ …it’s because we are humans among other humans trying to work at and figure things out.

All that said, what you do know and who you are is the key. You know you love Christ. He loves *YOU* not what you do or because of whose name you write on a tithe check. He is faithful and good. He wants you to be content in Him regardless of circumstance. He wants you to reflect His image; to know and be known, to love and be loved. I believe He wants you to know that with your future partner and He will bring him to you and you to him.

I have no doubt you will find an affirming faith community soon. Until then, be at peace.Ā I believe the Spirit wants the absolute best for you in this life and I have no doubt you will have “eyes to see” that the church is already all around you; you have not been, and will never again, be alone.

Being free is good,

P.S. Two books that really helped along these lines are How To Make Sense of The Bible by Adam Hamilton, and God And The Gay Christian by Matthew Vines.

The Scapegoating of Ex-gays

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Ex-gays will repeat stigma and religious bigotry to fit into the conservative church, but they are not ever going to win over fellow church-goer because their “brokenness” is seen as so completely “other” than what the average church-goer goes through. There will be plenty of platitudes about “all sin is equal at the foot of the cross” and “no sin is stronger than the blood of Christ.” But in the practical day to day, the conservative church is very quick to say, “I have NO idea what it is like to go through what you go through with… you know… THAT struggle.”

Like the “scapegoats” in the Old Testament that had the sins of Israel placed on them and turned out into the desert to take away those sins, ex-gay/conversion ministries are handed the “sexual brokenness sin” issues so the church doesn’t have to look at, accept, or deal with the gift of God’s LGBT+ Children in their midst.

Ex-gay/Conversion ministries don’t mind this at all. They benefit from this arrangement. It carves them out a niche “ministry” without much competition for attention or donation dollars. With an ex-gay ministry at the bottom of a church’s local resources directory the church can say, “Yes! We love the same-sex attracted enough to help them not be that anymore with our special ministry on Thursdays at 7pm in the back room of the education building.” And as long as The LGBT+’s don’t make a show of it on Sundays and nobody gets caught in a gay bar on Saturday, the church (in practice) has absolutely nothing to do with “that very difficult and challenging sin.” They are in affect saying, “We love you but just don’t be you anymore. And if you need to ‘deal with’ your … stuff…Ā  do it over there and don’t distract from everything else we are doing.”

The “scapegoats” are burdned and sent away to their “groups.”

When Alan, the staff and myself started developing a church network within Exodus, some of the old-guard member ministries (now a part of Restored Hope Network) had absolute meltdowns about how “the church” doesn’t get it. I remember clearly one very agitated leader saying, “They can’t possibly do what we do because they can’t and won’t relate. People won’t feel safe there!”

But in front of church leaders, their song was sung to a very different tune. They (we) would say the church is a great place! Especially if they support The Gospel According to Conversion Therapy. The Church is a loving “home” if theyĀ let ex-gay ministries have access to that churches sphere of influence, receive affirmation from its leadership, receive validation as a unique and powerful work, and of course financially.

Early on, the church was more than happy to hand off “that issue” but in some cases toward the latter 90’s and ’00’s, churches would try to do their own thing only to have an Exodus referralĀ leader tell them they couldn’t because of the alleged nuanced needs of “the sexually broken.” One leader in Texas was called by a good number of churches to help them start groups but he told them they couldn’t unless they hired him (at a very high “honorarium”) to come speak to and train the staff. None of them did start their own groups, but all of them did start referring to him.

See how that works? Either way benefitted that leader.

When I was a part of that world, many of us thought we were fulfilling our “calling.” We were true believers and those of us who did eventually make what might be considered a good salary was very rare. However, in a stigmatized and legalistic environment, as long as we said the right things, behaved the right way and didn’t challenge religious stigma against LGBT+ people, we had what we thought was an honored place in the Body of Christ.

Only, eventually after all the pomp/circumstance/ritual, we found ourselves all alone in the desert carrying hurt and burdens we were never meant to carry. We realized we are still LGBT+ and still Christian. That all of this religious stigma/abuse was perpetuated through closed meetings in a room at the back of the church and fueled by inauthentic affirmation and funds. We realize that we shouldn’t be treated as a scapegoat turned away from full acceptance and affirmation in the Church. We are as much daughters and sons of Christ as anyone else. We left the desert and refuse to be locked in the stained glass closet of shame and condemnation.Ā We give our hurts to Christ, extend forgiveness when able, and take our place abiding as full members of the Body of Christ.

Life is so much better not being someone else’s goat wandering around the desert of rejection carrying systemic bigotry on our shoulders.

Being free is good,

“What Are We Supposed To Do?” – An Exodus Supporter’s Confrontational Email

Received this email from K over the weekend. I will post the whole message (it’s short) so you can see the full context. Then I will parse out each point they are making and respond. First, the complete message:

Randy, I cannot begin to tell you the pain, hurt, and confusion that you caused me. I went to Exodus conferences. You were my favorite speaker. I have your DVD’s from the conference. I trusted you. Now you are saying that everything you said, and all the promises you made, were all false. That may be good for you, but what about people like me? The ones that are now living with the fall out of what you did. Living daily with all the confusion and pain. What are we supposed to do? K

First off, thank you for emailing me. Given what you have written, you have been upset with me for a long time and needed to get this off your chest. I am glad you did and while my responses below may not be in alignment with your current beliefs. I hope that you will know I never intend to cause pain. Plus, the following may not be to your liking but I cannot ignore the truth; the “ex-gay” world is one I believe we all need to leave. It is possible to accept ourselves as both LGBT+ (wherever you fit in our community) and a Christ follower.

Randy, I cannot begin to tell you the pain, hurt, and confusion that you caused me. I went to Exodus conferences. You were my favorite speaker. I have your DVD’s from the conference. I trusted you.

Thank you for sharing that and believe me, I trusted what I was saying was the truth, too. It was very hard, still is, to realize that I spoke about and taught so many erroneous things.

Now you are saying that everything you said, and all the promises you made, were all false.

Not everything I said was false. God is good. I love Jesus and He loves me :). My spiritual intimacy with Him was and is true. I did overcome whole hostsĀ of dysfunctions like emotional dependency and PTSD (through peripheral resources). I also learned a great deal about spirituality, personal responsibility, my skillset (calling) and maturing as a person (again, mostly through peripheral resources). But, saying that being gay is “broken” was absolutely untrue. Being gay is not “sexual brokenness” or sinful. Being in a loving mutually life-giving relationship with someone of the same or opposite sex is not sinful. Living out your core sense of relational being is not sinful. I no longer believe that you can find freedom from being gay because it’s not something to be freed from. It’s not something we should view through systemic stigmatized religious views. I don’t remember making any “promises, ” but I do know I said a lot of things that gave people hope that they could “overcome homosexuality, ” and I regret having passed along erroneous and harmful teaching. It’s cliche but still true, now that I know better I intend to do better.

That may be good for you, but what about people like me? The ones that are now living with the fall out of what you did. Living daily with all the confusion and pain. What are we supposed to do? K

Don’t empower the wall of noise and smiling people on stage to tell you what to think or believe. Scrutinize everything you hear. There are lots of people with lots of sharp opinions who are more than willing to tell you what to do and think. I do not have the ability to think on your behalf and tell you what you are supposed to do.

Each person comes into theirĀ authentic selves in various ways. In my own experience, the process started with being honest with God and self. After losing a friend of 23 years to suicide and being accused of all manner of evil and ill by people over my view of God’s grace it was like blinders had been ripped off. As a result, I began a search for the real manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 New International Version (NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,Ā gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

I discovered that the genuine fruit of the Spirit was not to be found in The Gospel According to Conversion Therapy (conversion therapy adapted for “ministerial” use.) I realized all my old “favorites” didn’t have an ounce of grace, respect, or unconditional love for those that disagreed with or questioned them.

I did, however, find that true health, wholeness, and fruit of the Spirit did exist with the LGBT+ people I started having honest and open conversations with. This led to a personal epiphany that God will never leave or forsake me. He knew that my relational sense of being (to know and be known, to love and be loved) would be as a gay man. He knows this is part of how I reflect our Creator’s beauty into the world. Once I received that truth, I realized that finding peace with being a gay man in Christ wasn’t “going back” to brokenness and dysfunction. I was moving forward with the Good Shepherd leading me out of the ex-gay/conversion world.

The freedom to embrace who I honestly am in Christ is not what I thought it would look like back when I spoke at Exodus conferences. It’s even better. And please, do not let my response add to any confusion. Who you saw on stage years ago was being as honest and free as I knew how to be at the time. I am still the same person but with eyes fully open now.

You may think I am deluded and “fallen” and that is fine. However, I hope you will hear me say that whatever honestly manifests the fruit of the Spirit, while being mindful that there is never too much grace, hold tenaciously onto and keep looking for the good evidence of the Spirit. Looking for those qualities in everything around us, and hanging onto them, was a very important anchor and helped me recenter my focus on Christ.

I trust you will find your way to peace. That you will find contentment in Christ regardless of circumstance.

Being free is good,

If you would like to message me, please feel free to leave a comment below or contact me privately through the contact form here on the blog. If you are considering leaving the ex-gay/conversion world, I have a list of resources with plenty of helpful information right here on the blog.Ā It’s what I find helpful at least šŸ™‚ and it is consistently being updated and edited.