Brisbane man, 33

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Joined in 2010
January 20, 2011, 21:38

Hi all,

I am 33 and grew up in a strongly Christian family who remain so all except me. I notice in Australia there is a kind of mainstream of Protestantism in which the theology and life-approach is very similar, and people can church-shop across denominations quite easily. So although I grew up in a Baptist church, I would describe the faith I imbibed from my parents as generic Protestant. Both my parents are loving people whose faith is an expression of that love to humanity. My father had been a church minister before I was born, then a schoolteacher through my childhood and adolescence, returning to ministry a couple of years after I started my first undergraduate degree, in music.

I wasn’t aware of being same-sex attracted as a young boy. All I knew was I was just plain horny. Although by age 12 I fully understood the facts of life, and the Christian prohibition of pre- and extra-marital sex, this did not stop my sex drive finding outlets, at first with a couple of boys my own age, then discovering the beats at 15. I still devoutly believed the faith I had been taught, so every episode was an odyssey of temptation, resistance, despairing surrender then immediate acute guilt. But instead of being deterred I found my behaviour becoming more compulsive. Finally, a few months before I turned 16, my long absences at the men’s changing rooms during a family beach holiday were so conspicuous that my father asked me directly what was going on. I was so frightened of my own behaviour I told him.

My parents, true to form, responded in love as best they knew how. They had already had contact with the Brisbane branch of Exodus, called Liberty, and knew its leader, Peter Lane, personally. Within two days, Peter visted our holiday accomodation and a six-year counselling relationship began. Most readers will know the general tenor of the teaching I came into contact with there. Homosexuality was a disordered attempt to achieve affirmation in and intimacy with your own gender, something that had been thwarted with your same-gender parent and/or peers. Healing in these areas, and breaking the “habit” of sex with men, should lead to the “recovery” of your innate heterosexuality. Despite it all, I never went longer than six weeks without a “fall”. And I dreaded the meetings with Peter in which I had to confess in explicit detail everything I had done. Later, when I went to group meetings I seemed to be the only member who ever had any sexual contact to confess.

Looking back I believe the worst harm done by the teaching was to deny that there is such a thing as a gay identity. Now I know I am truly oriented towards men. My gaze naturally turns towards them. The sight of a handsome man on the street gives me a glow of inexplicable happiness. The affectionate embrace of another man, sexual or not, carries a charge that flashes straight to my core. Looking back, I can now see that though in adolescence my closest friends were girls, I was not alive to their physical charms, while in memory I still feel a pang for every boy whose looks attracted me.

But it was a tortuous road to self-acceptance. I despaired of ever ceasing to desire men, and moved on to a Catholic support group which promoted celibacy rather than change as a valid response to same-sex attraction. Here I felt calmer, but no happier, for I was no less sexually active overall. Finally, it took my going to London, where I lived on and off for a few years, before I allowed myself the freedom to admit and explore my attraction to men. I came to a degree of acceptance of my own nature, but I found it incompatible with the New Testament.

I don’t think there’s any getting around the fact that St Paul sees it as a symptom of God-denial in Romans 1. I find the argument that he is talking about straight people who glory in peverting their own nature unconvincing. It presumes categories of straight and gay which don’t seem to have existed in the ancient mind. Also, from my reading of the NT, Jesus says nothing about sexual desire itself other than to state that the look of non-marital lust is as culpable as the act. Jesus is an asexual individual as far as the Gospels are concerned. We never hear of his having any kind of explicitly sexual relationship, not even marriage. So he is biblically silent on what has been the most pressing problem of my (and most men’s) existence: how do I live morally with a functioning sex drive?

I don’t wish to dismiss Christ. In history he is the first to place love at the centre of practical morality. In this I am wholeheartedly his disciple. But the rest of the paraphernalia of what the church calls Christian Life I cannot value.

I know there are forces governing the universe inconceivably greater than I can comprehend. But whether these forces ultimately issue from and are controlled by a single benevolent being, called for convenience “God”, I cannot claim to be sure or even “have faith”. I have had no direct revelation – the Church as a conduit of revelation, if that is what it is supposed to be, seems at best problematic – and have been offered no convincing reasons which would engender belief. And I cannot simply will belief in myself. The more you try and force yourself to believe, the more you are aware that underneath you really don’t believe or you wouldn’t need forcing. So I find I cannot worship God, or assign him the attributes of goodness, justice etc. All I know is that the best thing a human being can do is love. And I must love as best I know how, which is: kindness and respect to all, and honesty in the physical expression of my passions.

My main motivation in posting here is to find other people to speak with about these matters. I’m not sure how many believers would welcome such conversations, but I hope they as well as fellow agnostics would feel some interest. I am keen to talk to more people who have had experience of Ex-gay groups, especially Liberty here in Brisbane.

Mr Summit
Chapter Leader
Joined in 2010
January 20, 2011, 23:26

Hi Phil,

It’s great to have you on the forum. I’m always partial towards having more Queenslanders too.

Just a quick note: by placing your email in the open like that you allow crawlers to pick it up and will find lots of people spamming you. I’ve removed your email out of your post for you. If someone wants to get in touch they can PM you through the forum, which keeps your email imbox nice and safe. 🙂

You are not alone in your story. It is very common for young LGBT Christians to try and change themselves. Some of the stories I have heard are very traumatic. But it is good to hear that you now accept yourself as you are.

We are very comfortable with people from a variety of spiritual backgrounds. I don’t mind that your agnostic and we wont feel uncomfortable to talk about it. We are not here to send you down any particular path. 🙂 BTW, there are more ways of explaining Romans 1 than what you have described. There should be information about that in our resources section if you are ever interested.

I notice in Australia there is a kind of mainstream of Protestantism in which the theology and life-approach is very similar, and people can church-shop across denominations quite easily. So although I grew up in a Baptist church, I would describe the faith I imbibed from my parents as generic Protestant.

I’ve noticed that too. I denomination hop pretty often these days.

Nice to have you here.

Ann Maree
Joined in 2008
January 21, 2011, 07:51

Hi TimP

Welcome to freedom 2 b!

You might be relieved to know there are more of us who lean toward your agnostic line than you think. I guess I’m one of those in that I’m reasonably comfortable with uncertainty and love these types of discussions with others who also gain from them.

I second what Mr Summit has suggested in your checking out a couple of the articles in the resource section of our site.

I look forward to hearing more from you and opening up further discussion. You’ve given me some interesting stuff to ponder already and I’ll enjoy getting back to you. 🙂


Ann Maree

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
January 21, 2011, 10:46

welcome welcome welcome. very much enjoyed reading your story. Looks like you have down the rounds…..hehe.

but in a good place now……thats great…..and yes you have come to right place. This is the largest online group like this in Oz.

i do know the people you have mentioned and probably know many more that you have had contact with in your journey to rid yourself of…..and finally accept the gay you.

I was interviewed with Paul Wagner from Liberty in Brisbane some time back when the first edition of my autobiography“>″>autobiography came out. You can read the transcript here I have tried to find the podcast but can’t at this stage.

you might also know some of the former ex-gay leaders in this post on my blog.

BTW……how did you find us

Joined in 2007
January 22, 2011, 00:57

Hi TimP

Welcome to the forums. I enjoyed reading your story.

Like Ann Maree, I’d have to say I am quite comfortable with the notion of Agnosticism. I’ve only recently decided to go back to church, but up until that time, and probably still, at this point, I considered that I was agnostic rather than strictly Christian. I don’t dismiss Christ in history either. I think there is plenty of reason to believe he did exist. I do wrestle somewhat with the Biblical accounts of him though and wonder how much of what is ascribed to him is creative embellishment. *glances around uneasily* :X I currently have a book titled “God, Actually” sitting on my bedside table which I am purportedly reading… which goes into the reasons for believing that Christ really is fully human and fully divine. I will get back to it one day, I’m sure. I just find I have a bit of a mental block about such things.

I’m sure my pastor must despair of me, sometimes. :bigsmile:

Anyway, just wanted to let you know that the agnostic viewpoint is not completely foreign around here.


Joined in 2007
January 22, 2011, 11:12

Hi TimP

Welcome to F2B. Like you I grew up in a Christian family home, and I haven’t dismissed God / JC out of my life. I’ve just made a distinction between them and the church organisation, and the ‘messages’ that I heard throughout my childhood and adult life in the churches. I suppose it can be a little like ‘working out our faith’. 🙂

Like so many of the other posts here, I am quite comfortable with the agnostic view point, and understand and accept that we are all walking a unique life walk. 🙂

And it is good to have someone, from QLD on the forum, too. 🙂 There are quite a few of us, here in Brisbane, too. :bigsmile:

Will be good to hear more from you, too – and chat / discuss more about the interesting things that you mentioned in your story.

Ann Maree
Joined in 2008
January 22, 2011, 11:32

Hi Boi70

you said:

. I suppose it can be a little like ‘working out our faith’

Yes, I agree. I think this process of separating out what we’ve been taught from that which we really know to be true is quite a task. It’s my belief that the scripture of working out our salvation with fear and trembling refers to this process of sifting through the teachings, taking personal responibility for learning and carefully checking the sources, developing insight, intuition and investigative skills and owning that which fits while chucking out the rest. For me, it’s a very personal, experiential and complex undertaking of discovering truth. It can be really difficult at times but I believe my spirituality is richer for the process.


Ann Maree

Joined in 2008
January 28, 2011, 23:06

Hi TimP – I liked your testimony. I especially liked the conspicuous part 🙂

Frankly I’d love to have a good conversation about these things. Like you – and probably more than a few people here – I did the ex-gay thing as a teen. I gave up after a short while and embraced the homosexualist program with gay abandon but still never really worked out where life as we know it fits with Christ’s agenda (or the Church’s interpretation of it).

I’m also always thrilled to find another Qld’er and their sunny disposition posting on the forum. Hope you’ve been able to keep dry in the big wet.


Mr Summit
Chapter Leader
Joined in 2010
January 29, 2011, 16:59

Yep, there are a fair few of us up here in Brisbane / QLD. You are all invited to a casual weekend in April if you are keen:

Youth Coordinator
Joined in 2008
February 6, 2011, 23:19

Hey TimP,

Welcome to the forum.

I’ve had experience with ex-gay ministries. They did more harm than good.

Congrats on sharing your story. It’s powerful.

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