My story is so similar to many that I’ve read that I’ll not bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that growing up in a loving, but very conservative pentecostal church (non-denominational, but similar to AOG), going to college and seminary and eventually being ordained and pastoring for over 20 years, being gay was a secret I tried to keep…well, secret.
I know the pain. I know the games and mental gymnastics we do to balance our faith and our sexuality. I went through the ex-gay thing, spent countless hours in prayer and/or therapy and have had enough anointing oil poured on me in deliverance attempts to supply a small nation.
Ten years ago, at the point of crisis and the end of my ability to hide (which really involved fending off all the rumors. “Oh, did you know that your pastor is one of ‘them’????) I blocked out the people, the voices, my family, my upbringing, even the cries of my own mind and heart and sat, totally vulnerable and open before God. It was there that the reality got through all the BS.
I had had a relationship with God almost all of my life, but had ignored it, failed to take advantage of it and even questioned its existence, yet, the relationship remained.
In the floatsam that was my life I began to find valuable tidbits. Successes, profound and positive effect on lives that my ministry had touched, even a very present and clear anointing from God, all the while being gay. Best of all, God already knew all about it. I didn’t have to rehearse my past or recount success of failure, I just had to begin to participate in this wonderful relationship. As I did, little by little, the questions were answered and the doubts disappeared, taking with them the guilt, shame, fear and pain that had so scarred my life in the past.
I’d love to tell you that it was all smooth sailing from there, but there were the normal bumps along the way. Rejection from those you’d most given yourself to, but also, acceptance by some you never expected! For every negative, there have been waves of postives. For every friend lost, there has been a deepening of the relationship with my lovely Lord. For every church-member who turned their back, two have stopped long enough to see what God was doing. For every time someone ‘just couldn’t believe it’ there were many, many more who realized that we are who we are by God’s boundless and amazing grace and that unconditional love doesn’t love in spite of real or perceived wrongs, rather, it loves without making those judgments.
Ten years into my new life, I have a deeper connection with God and with those around me than at anytime in the days of keeping secrets. No longer can anyone threaten me with ‘outing’, or blackmail me by threats and fear. I am no longer a victim and will never be again. As has been said so eloquently by many others, I have no need for deliverance because I’m not in bondage to who I am. I don’t need healing because my sexual orientation is not a cold or the flu, it is who I was created to be. I don’t need forgiveness for my sexuality, although there have been times when I’ve failed to live the life of integrity that I want to live, those are but failures of my flesh, not failures of who I am or of my faith!
In the end, this is my theme: God did a great job and it would be offensive not to live in the wonder of divine life ‘just as I am’, continuing to that place where, from before eternity past, I was purposed in Christ to be!
Wherever you are on your jouney of faith, God is there. Regardless of how people, clergy, friends or family may or may not have treated you, God is present and a constant help in your time of need.
Further, I am there too, as are the millions of others who have fought this good fight of faith and come out victorious on the other side. We walk together, men, women, straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, curious, questioning, and unsure, we are part of each other. Rather than waste time trying to figure out who is right, or who is wrong, let us leave those questions with one who knows the end from the beginning and spend our time productively loving and supporting each other!
That my friends is my story, my song, my desire.