Last weekend I appeared in a radio interview on ABC radio to discuss the issue of recent Californian legislation on reparative therapy. Another guest appeared on the show, a so-called ‘gay Christian’ and former pastor named Anthony who left his wife, family, and ministry to live a gay life. At the outset of the interview, Anthony commented on my journey of leaving homosexuality by saying with unsurprising condescension something along the lines of, “Oh, when I listened to Haydn’s story I get a feeling of déjà vu! I was exactly the same 30 years ago”.
The implication, hint hint, is Change did not work for me, and therefore it cannot for Haydn. We have many things in common: both were/are married, have two daughters, identify as Christian, and even once/do attend the same church, therefore expect him to go down the same track that I have. Haydn’s really gay, and nothing he can say or do to the contrary will change that. Haydn, why fight yourself? There is no integrity in that. Why stick to your wife and children and deny ‘who you are’ and live with a ‘lack of integrity’ when you can join others who ‘understand you’? You’re ‘lying’ to yourself and everybody else and one day you can and should leave your family because it’s all a hopeless sham.
While I cannot speak for Anthony’s story or for anyone else’s I can speak for myself:
1) My story is (you guessed it) my story. Ultimately, it is God’s story in me and He interprets it. While the details of my story may have many things in common with that of others, no-one else has been through exactly what I have been through, felt what I have felt, and made decisions as I decided to make them. God has intervened in my life in ways unique to me and suited to my circumstances (because the God of Judeo-Christian Scripture meets people where they’re at and pursues them with loving patience), and not necessarily the same as others. So there really is no déjà vu at all: in fact, one pastor that I have met in Sydney who came out of homosexuality and now ministers to those with sexual addiction, Ron Brookman, has a testimony which seems to have much more in common with Anthony’s than mine, but has resulted in an outcome that is quite similar to where I am now at. So no two things that look the same necessarily are, in much the same way that simply because a table has 4 legs and a turtle has 4 legs that therefore a turtle is a table.
Yet even if my story was identitcal to someone else’s, like Anthony’s, it would still never stand to reason why I would feel the same things and make the same decisions as others because all individuals are complex and unique, making good and bad decisions for both good and bad reasons. There are families with identical twins, where one twin becomes gay and another one is heterosexual. Why? Because even two people who may be similar or almost exactly the same are both at the same time unique individuals. So no, outcomes are not the same even if many details seems to be.
2) My integrity is found in sticking with my wife and keeping to the marriage vows that I made to her and others. It is very true that I was not always faithful to my wife after we got married and we are working through those things in individual and marriage counselling. A lot of my unresolved brokenness has affected our marriage and I am responsible for it. But we’re working at it and our relationship is getting stronger because GOD is with us and very much been the instigator and sustainer of our marriage. He’s healing me through being a husband as well as a father to my two daughters and none of them are a mistake; indeed it is personally offensive and scurrilous to suggest that those whom I love and give me so much joy are a ‘sham’. And their very existence begs the question that if I was ‘born gay’ how could it be that I would have the biological ‘equipment’ to sire two children and enjoy sexual intimacy with a woman? If there is integrity in ‘being gay’ it seems to be lost on me because my own circumstances by the power of God demonstrate that gay identity is not a reality. Marriage is teaching me to live selflessly for others and to look not only to my own needs but also to the needs of others, something that was the very opposite of the gay community that I had encountered where everything was about me and what I needed. And yes, many heterosexuals are like that too but I found it much more pronounced in the gay world; but now I am living for Christ and others and that is where integrity lies.
Integrity too is about admitting who I am to God (that I am weak and need a Saviour), what desires there are in me (which are separate to who I am and war against the man which God is calling me to be), surrendering myself to Him momentarily, and living beyond myself. It’s not giving up on those who love and need me the most but growing out of my same-sex attraction, selfish desires, self-entitlement, and other things.
Though I cannot guarantee the future and where my heart and feet will be in 30 years’ time, I do know that God never does things by halves (Philippians 1:6), and those who naively believe that I will be living as a gay man one day obviously do not understand that power of God’s. It is sad that others have given up their freedom in Christ to live in slavery to self and sexual desire (and there are often complex and understandable, though not justifiable, reasons for doing so) but God has been very good to me so far in lavishing grace on me, a very unworthy man and I know that He will keep me. It says in Psalm 55 that the talk of the enemy ” … is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords”. I’ve no trust in the words of men who know not the power of Christ and the futre, and by God’s grace I will be standing stronger than I am now in thirty years’ time as I guard my heart (Prov. 4:23), allow God to mould me, and allow God to be my vindication.
“Lust is a poor, weak, whimpering whispering thing compared with that richness and energy of desire which will arise when lust has been killed. [But] what needs could I have … now that I have all? I am full now, not empty. I am in Love Himself, not lonely. Strong, not weak. You shall be the same. Come and see. We shall have no need for one another now: we can begin to love truly”
~ C.S. Lewis, ‘The Great Divorce’.