Sy Rogers

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Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
July 7, 2009, 08:49

Some of you may have read my article about Sy and his ministry when you requested that I email it to you.

Rowland Croucher has requested to put it on his site so now I’m making it public here. I’ve emailed Sy to let him know and asked if he’d like to respond.


(An Anthony Venn-Brown Perspective)

Sy Rogers is a gifted communicator and has an amazing story of redemption and the grace of God. Our dialogue has been limited but has always been gracious and respectful. I’d heard many negative things about Sy but our meeting in Sydney in 2007 dispelled many of these.

When Sy was converted in the late 70’s, even though homosexuality had been removed from the list of psychological disorders and laws were changing that had classed gay men as criminals, there was still a great deal of ignorance about sexual orientation. This was particularly so in the church. I was converted in 1969 when the concept of a gay Christian was inconceivable and my life was understandably steered in a particular direction. Was I receiving Christ today I hope that my pastor would be well informed and help me to see that my morality is a choice but my sexual orientation isn’t and that I could lead a life that honoured God as a gay young man. Today there are many fine gay Christians and a growing number of churches which welcome and affirm them.

There are still many who speak of Sy as an ‘ex-gay’ and that he preaches a re-orientation message. I don’t believe Sy would use that term to describe himself or believes that people need to be ‘healed’ of their homosexuality. His message these days is healing for all both gay and straight; a person’s sexual orientation is not the issue. I trust that these insights help dispel some of the confusion and bring a more balanced view of Sy’s ministry.

The Complexities of the Sy Rogers Story

1. Homosexuality vs trangenderism

To listen, in length, to the Sy story is to realise that it is not a simple story of gay man becomes straight. Firstly, Sy is transgender which occurs in the womb and remains with a person throughout life. If you are well informed about sexual orientation and what it means to be transgender, then you will be aware that sexual orientation and gender identity are two different wiring systems in the brain. For example, some transgender men are sexually attracted to women and some to men. This is often confusing for heterosexuals to understand as their brains are aligned harmoniously with their gender identity.

Sy lived as a woman for some time and was in the process of seeking gender re-assignment surgery when he was converted to Christ. Throw into his story years of sexual abuse, a self destructive lifestyle (not an exclusively homosexual experience), meaningless sexual encounters and a dysfunctional family upbringing (mother was an alcoholic) then it becomes a maze of issues. The sexual abuse issues are the ones Sy has most recently had to resolve. Probably the miracle in Sy’s Rogers story is similar to mine: we are still alive to tell the story.

Problems develop when Sy speaks to church audiences who are relatively uneducated about sexuality and transgenderism. I’m sure there are still are large number of people in churches who naively believe all homosexual men want to dress and live as a woman and all lesbians wish they could be men. This is far from reality for the average gay man or lesbian. When uninformed Christians, with an already negative attitude towards homosexuality, hear Sy’s story, it’s easy for them to make false assumptions.

2. Terminology

Different terms appear in Sy’s story, homosexual, gay, transsexual, transgender, all mixed together and are hard for the average person to separate. One of the myths often presented in many church cultures is that ALL gay men and lesbians are highly immoral, drug taking reprobates who live a ‘homosexual lifestyle’. Sy’s story carries much of that stereotype which, for those of us who are a part of the gay community(as opposed to the ‘gay scene’), know is only reflective of a subculture and once again not exclusively homosexual. Heterosexuals live the same ‘lifestyle’.

3. Does Marriage = Heterosexual?

My assumption is that Sy would not actually claim that he is totally heterosexual today, but, because he is married to a woman, many would try and tell us that this indicates a change in sexual orientation. “Heterosexual functionality’ is not being heterosexual any many more than heterosexual men engaging in same sex activity in prison makes them homosexual. I’ve never met an ‘ex-gay’ who can honestly say their orientation, instincts, fantasies and desires are now heterosexual. In other words, that they think and function like normal heterosexual men. I was also married to a woman for 16 years and fathered children but it didn’t make me straight. You can change behaviours, control thoughts, resist temptations and lessen same sex opportunities but you can’t change inbuilt orientation. There is a substantial amount of scientific research that demonstrates this. Sy has chosen to be in a heterosexual marriage. I have to respect Sy and his wife’s choice and anyone else who chooses to live that way.

Personally, at the age of 40, I could no longer live with the inconsistency of presenting one thing to those around me and being another person inside. It was unsustainable and the disconnect created unhealthy behaviours and mental health issues.

The Ambiguities

To assume that Sy is an ‘ex-gay’ and that he believes all gay men and lesbians must become heterosexual raises several ambiguities.

1. Ambiguity No. 1. Sy has not been on the board of Exodus for quite some time. Possibly not actively involved at a board level for 15 years. He has spoken at some Exodus conferences though. He is last mentioned on the history page of their website in 1996.

2. Ambiguity No. 2. The Sy Rogers website makes no mention of homosexuality or ex-gay ministries.

3. Ambiguity No. 3. The Choices ex-gay ministry established by Sy (I believe), at the Singaporean Church of Our Saviour in 1991 still exists, but Sy is no longer involved and his name is not mentioned on records of it’s history.

4. Ambiguity No. 4. Sitting in the Sense and Sexuality Seminar at Hillsong in 2007, Sy spoke about purity of thought life, addictions, sexual abuse and wholeness without ever identifying heterosexuality as being more wholesome than homosexuality. From memory, I can’t really remember the word homosexual being used at the seminar. (Although he did mention those words of course when he told his story at the Sunday services). At the Sense & Sexuality Seminar, he spoke only of living a life that is pleasing to God and healthy for the individual. Was that because I’d been sitting with him in the front row of the church? I tend to think not.

What about all the books, tapes and videos?

There are still Sy Rogers videos and publications out there which tell a different story and people promote him as an ‘ex-gay’. It’s been over two decades now since some of that original material was created and during that time there has been much scientific research on the subject of sexual orientation. It’s unfortunate that some of these resources are being used to promote a falsehood that God miraculously makes gay people straight. Sadly some Christians have used these materials to push their own agenda which has resulted in untold suffering and even suicides. I’m currently working with a 40 year old man who has been involved in Exodus here in Australia for 20 years. His words to me tell it all. ‘I was sold a very cruel lie’. One his wife and children are currently trying to unravel.

If you’d like to read more about the changes in the Christian world’s attitude towards and thinking about homosexuality, you can read this article on my blog. Celebrating Our Future – the times, they are a changin’.

Please feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Joined in 2006
July 7, 2009, 10:49

Been a while since I popped in

Sy is currently a news story in the Advertiser in Adelaide,22606,25743178-5006301,00.html

He’ll be speaking at a conference at the Enfield Baptist Church next month

I hope he responds to you. Having been at conferences where he has spoken I feel you have insight in to his story

Joined in 2008
July 7, 2009, 11:34

This is a brilliant insight for people who don’t understand the complexity of human sexuality and gender, great work Anthony!

Thanks so much for posting this, it will be great to see it on Rowlands site 🙂

Penny 8)

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
July 7, 2009, 23:34

thanks Penny…I’m sure many of us have an insight into human sexuality and gender issues….way beyond the average conservative Christian. We have had to read and research to try and get understanding of who we are.

I am really keen to see if Sy sees things the same way I do… least in most of the article. I know he is also well researched. I guess we’ll have to wait and see…..I know he very much avoids controversy and really gets involved in anything outside church meetings like the media. So basically he is regularly crucified in articles and the comments that follow.

Joined in 2006
July 10, 2009, 08:55

I can see why now Sy hasnt been invited back to my old church, I may just send this to the counselling dept. & one of their affiliates. As far as I know they still hold to the fact that you can be “healed”…dear o dear.

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
July 10, 2009, 21:50

I may be totally wrong…..I guess time will tell.

Joined in 2009
August 4, 2009, 08:15

This is an excellent article!

But Sy has been active with Exodus since at least 2007:

Still, you may be on to something.

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
August 4, 2009, 09:55

thanks Ephilei.

yep….he still speaks at Exodus conferences.

It would be interesting to get a copy of the session to analyse exactly what he said.

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
August 4, 2009, 10:13

BTW Ephilei……would love to hear your story if you feel comfortable doing that.

Joined in 2006
October 10, 2009, 12:30


has Sy Rogers ever responded to what you have written?

He is here atm on the Sunshine Coast and I have had a few text messages from ex friends (their choice not mine) inviting me to hear a great preacher called Sy Rogers.They think it will do me the world of good. funny that, considering they (the people sending the invites) have not talked to me in up to 2 years and sometimes have shunned me when they bump into me at the local shop ctrs.

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