You see - He's just not a God of conditional love, is He?

At the end of July, the Bishops will have an opportunity to watch a drama by Peterson Toscanoe called "Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House" so that they might see how life looks from the perspective of a gay Christian. Toscanoe will also perform at the Edinburgh Festival and the Greenbelt Christian arts festival this summer. Toscanoe will share his own spiritual story about how he survived the 'ex-gay' movement (aka Exodus, Love in Action,True Freedom Trust etc)

I know the following film will prove contentious and split opinion. It's just that I have very genuine reservations about the good that come out of the 'corrective' programmes run by organisations such as True Freedom Trust. I don't doubt the transforming power of God's love but I can't but help empathise with those gay brothers and sisters who have been encouraged to pray away their sexual orientation. I can't imagine praying away my heterosexuality . Are gay people being asked to pray to become heterosexual are they being asked to pray that they hide and deny their sexual self? I'm posting this video and I leave it to you to think about.


Jimbo said...

Thank you for pausing to consider this viewpoint. I had seen the video before, but it was good to be reminded of its contents.

Too many parts of the church have been clear cut in stating that "gay is wrong", but have not been really prepared to offer practical ways forward for those dealing with these issues within their churches. For some church leaders, it was perhaps convenient to pass this burden onto ministries that purported to offer that way forward, and so avoid addressing the issues directly.

As a Christian from age eleven, reading my bible each day, and respecting the conservative Christian viewpoints I surrounded myself with, I was left in no doubt that my increasing awareness of my sexuality raised problems.

The whole issue was laced with so much negativity and shame, that it took me to age 28 to talk to anyone about it. Over the next fifteen years I immersed myself in the "reparative therapy" that was doing the rounds, reading all the recommended books, attending weekends with Courage and Living Waters, and spending over seven years in a monthly TrueFreedomTrust group.

In one sense it was helpful. I finally met Christians who were able to fully understand where I was at, and I had somewhere where I could be totally honest and real about who I was.

Although I was very involved in my local church, I no longer "fitted in" with the young people's group - there was no place for middle aged single men (apart from being of help with all the church tasks). Plus, the collection of uneducated viewpoints on gay people made me very wary of sharing my sexuality with any church members. The TfT group was a place outside of that isolation.

Yet after all those years, I was no more heterosexual than when I started. I had effectively been in asexual limbo, repressing all my needs for human contact. It was depressing at times.

It was in early 2003 that I finally admitted to myself that I wasn't going to change my orientation. Indeed, of the hundreds of folk I'd met in these ministries, I knew of only half a dozen who had gone on to get married, and half of those had personally admitted to me that they still struggled regularly with gay feelings.

Shortly after that, the Jeffery John story blew up in the media, and to my ears, much of the objection sounded more like homophobia than theology. It forced me to completely reassess where I was at. I scrutinised the "clobber" passages with fresh eyes and realised that many had been misused. I investigated the roots of "reparative therapy" and found that much of it was quackery.

Now, five years on, truth has indeed been freedom. I am contentedly gay. The burden of shame and failure that the church (and my own take on faith) had placed on me, has been lifted. I now know of a number of gay Christian couples in stable relationships. I do not count myself post-gay, but, sadness to some of them, I count myself post-Christian.

Thanks for being open minded on this issue. Please continue to question when you have doubts.

Rachel said...

Thank you so much for sharing this with me, Jimbo. It's such a shame that you lived only half a life for so long.

It is sad that you now call yourself Post-Christian. I am wondering about whether post-Church might be another way so as to not be post-Christian. I know theologically that we can't separate Christ from the church but I guess I'm talking here more 'Church - the institution'. I think Christ probably has a lot left to say to you - keep conversing with him, I would urge you because he completely loves you - perhaps it's the church that you need to take a break from until you can 'heal' and I don't mean 'heal' in the sense of the TFT, Living Waters sense. I mean it in the sense that you have now after 28 years found wholeness, but there are perhaps still wounds you are suffering and these have been inflicted by the church.

I wish you well
God bless

Jimbo said...

Appreciated. Thanks.


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A little background reading so we might mutually flourish when there are different opinions