A great piece by Brian Pengelly as I come back from a few days away.
Recently I was asked to speak to a gathering of youth. The group was made up of youth from a variety of churches and denominations, and after I shared my story a number of youth and pastors came to talk with me and express how grateful they were. One woman told about having a gay brother, and how every time she mentioned him the Christians in her church became cold. Another young man came up to me with tears in his eyes, shaking visibly. He could only say “Thank-you! You don’t know how much that needed to be said” before he fled from the room.
In the hour from the end of my talk to when they locked the door, I made myself available to talk to any who wished, as well as left information about where I could be reached by email if others wished to talk more. I went home feeling tired and drained, but pleased with how things had gone.
A week later, the pastor who had asked me to come to speak forwarded an email that had been going around one of the youth groups. It was written by two leaders from that group denouncing me and my teaching. The email was long and written with a great deal of capital letters for extra emphasis. The crux of the letter was this: the authors were furious that I honestly admitted that I was still attracted to the same sex, that my sexual orientation had not changed, and that I had accepted that, in all likelihood, my experience of same-gender attraction would continue to be my reality for the rest of my life.
To these leaders, this honest story of who I was and what I was experiencing was threatening and dangerous. They apologized to their youth for bringing them to hear it. They made it clear to their youth that they did not believe God would allow anyone to continue to be attracted to the same sex if they really wanted to change. To them, what I had shared about what God had done in my life simply wasn’t enough.
The authors then went on to say:
“God did not make us depressed, or suicidal, or full of sickness in our bodies. God did not make homosexuals. We have done it to ourselves. At some point in each of our lives doors open to the demonic, whether by our own decisions or by the devil planting someone in our paths to set a trap. The outcome of each trap is determined by our decisions, or if we are children, our parents decision of how to handle each situation.“
It became clear to me that these youth leaders had bought into a stream of theology often known as Word of Faith theology. They believed that God has promised to heal every area of a believer’s life right now and given them the authority to command that healing into existence. Because of this, my testimony was a great threat to them because God had simply not done enough in my life. Despite the fact that I could testify that I had not been in a relationship with another male since high school, despite the fact that I was able to enjoy a happy marriage to a woman, despite the fact that God had clearly been using me in ministry for over a decade….my testimony was not acceptable because God had not completely taken away my attraction to men.
Brian raises some great issues about how we respond when we don’t experience God working how we want him to. Go and read it all and then comment below.