August 28, 2009

Encouraging Words 8/28/09-Encouragement From an Ex-Gay Survivor

We have posted links to numerous pieces written by Peterson Toscano here over the years, and here's another outstanding one where Peterson responds to a letter from a young lady who is fighting her lesbian orientation with determination and prayer, yet is not "changing" into being straight. An excerpt:

After 15 years of living like this, it was with great sadness that I came to the conclusion that I could never actually change my orientation. Five years of marriage with a wonderful Christian woman proved that to me. I still labored on though for another two years to at least live a celibate life, one that I called a repentant life, although that seemed like a cop out compared to an actual transformation. But the misery continued and increased. I begged and pleaded God to give me victory. I cut out every gay contact in my life. I sought to destroy the gay part of me for Jesus. I found it was not possible or necessary. God did not answer my prayer. Sometimes when we ask something of God, and the answer is no.

I assumed I knew what the Bible said about gays, but I was wrong. In no passage does it forbid two men or two women to be in a loving relationship. Lust, idolatry, abuse are all condemned for straights and gays, but a loving relationship is not. In fact, it makes it clear that man (and women) should not be alone. We are designed for companionship, but an unequal orientation almost always ends disastrously–like being unequally yoked, with the two pulling in different directions. Also, I had not understood how people misused the scriptures to reinforce a bias they already held. We have seen this with slavery, where white Christians misread the passages to support the slave trade. They went to the scriptures with their minds made up instead of openly seeking God’s will. That is how I approached the scriptures for years not allowing the possibility of any other way.

In my own life I settled into a place of listening to God, asking questions without demanding certain answers. I brought to the Light what was hidden in my heart and asked the Spirit, “What about this? What about that?” I waited and listened trusting that God would lead me and guide me even though initally after I came out I still preferred to be straight. I came to an outrageous conclusion, not only was it okay to be gay, but my orientation is one of the many gifts that God has given me, one that I continually attempted to return for almost 20 years of my adult life, one that I violently attacked and tried to tear to a million pieces. God is so patient and so gracious with me! How long I coveted my straight neighbor’s life rejecting my own saying it was not good enough.

Many people will tell you they know what God’s will is for your life. Ultimately you have to discover this for yourself. Perhaps to a straight minister, the idea of loving someone of the same gender is completely foreign. Based on his or her experience that minister may say that God would never decree such a thing. Perhaps not for them because they are straight; they don’t get it. So they put burdens on other people’s backs often confusing sexual desire with intimacy with sin with companionship thus demanding people live lives without family other than church family without the day in and day out closeness of an actual partner. In the end this is not just about sex. It is about honesty. It is about intimacy.

God cannot fully bless a life that is not lived honestly, and it is not His desire to make you in a way that you will be denied the opportunity for intimacy and wholeness. That's not the God that some right-wing fundamentalists preach about, but it the God that we worship in full equality with Peterson. He's also the God who loves you and has His arms open waiting for you.

Click here to read the rest of Peterson's response.

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