Ex-Gay: Fact, Fraud, or Fantasy?
"Ex-gay" is a term which always brings a response. For the most part, the gay community believes this is a total lie. They deny that it is possible to become ex-gay. It is their belief that "ex-gay" is a fraudulent term. Most come from the standpoint that a homosexual orientation is inborn, that it cannot be changed. They frequently equate the homosexual orientation with being left-handed, or with the color of one's skin.
Others who are not so hostile believe that ex-gays are simply engrossed in a fantasy situation. They think that one day, the "former homosexual" will come back to reality and realize that he is still just as gay as he ever was. Each time an ex-gay falls back into sexual sin, the skeptical critics hold this up as proof of their position that the ex-gay was living in a state of euphoria, that he was simply brain-washed and has finally come to his senses.
UNDERSTANDING THE TERM. What is the meaning of this term that many people are using to announce that their life has been changed? To begin to understand the meaning of "ex-gay", we can correlate it with the sanctification process described in I Cor 1:10, "Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us." The ex-gay knows that something has definitely happened in his life. Change has come. Perhaps the most important change is that he has come into agreement with God that homosexuality "misses the mark" which is the definition of sin. Attitudes have also changed, so that what was once called "love" is now seen as possessiveness. The ex-gay can agree with Paul, that he has been delivered. So there is now a new position in Christ, where the ex-gay is freed from sin by the atoning blood of Jesus on the cross. God now views that person through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. At the same time, the change that we are experiencing is also a process of growth that goes along day by day, even minute by minute.
WHAT ABOUT TEMPTATION? Becoming ex-gay does not guarantee that there will be no stumbles. Daily, each Christian needs to be delivered from tempting thoughts and sexual availability. He knows that Jesus will deliver him from these things, because Christ has already begun the change process in his life. When one has already seen the hand of God at work in his life, it is easier to trust God and to rely on Him in times of trouble.
THE FUTURE. "I will yet be delivered." The ex-gay person sees his homosexual responses diminishing and has the confident hope that he will be fully delivered in the future. But nowhere does the Bible promise that a person will come to the place where they are never again tempted. In fact, the Scriptures promise just the opposite: the Christian faces a lifetime of trials and temptations. We must rejoice in our trials, for they build Christian maturity. The former homosexual who enters into temptations also rejoices, for he has seen God deliver him and he knows that each time God provides that way out of the temptation, he becomes stronger in his faith.
OUR GOAL. At New Hope Ministry we do not attempt to make heterosexuals out of homosexuals. Rather, we attempt to change a person's identity, the way a person looks at himself. It is not biblical to use our past sin as our God-given identity. We encourage the former gay to drop the label "homosexual" from his life. However, we do not ask him to become dishonest about his struggle with homosexuality. He is a Christian who has a homosexual problem, rather than a homosexual who believes in Christ Jesus. It is our hope that a person struggling with homosexuality will come to a place of wholeness in Christ. Then, from a position of strength, he can decide whether to marry or whether to remain single. We hope that each person will keep an open mind on marriage until they come to that place of maturity where they know that they could handle a marriage situation properly, if God led them into it.
WHAT DO WE REALLY WANT? An important part of the change process is the "belief principle". Jesus said in Mark 11:24, "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." We encourage people to joyously welcome Christ into their heart, to have a positive spirit about Christ and to expect changes to occur. We point out that Christ works daily, even minute by minute. An awareness must be developed to see what He is doing. He has not abandoned us, but is daily cleansing us. If it is the desire of your heart to marry and raise a family, Christ most certainly will make this possible. We have seen this happen time and time again. It is disbelief that traps and discourages and brings on a state of hopelessness. Disbelief effectively stops the change process and blocks the Holy Spirit when he attempts to reach us, to bring important life-changing messages. II Cor. 5:17 in the Amplified Bible reads, "Therefore, if any person is in Christ, the Messiah, he is a new creature altogether, a new creation; the old previous moral and spiritual condition has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come! "
"EX-GAY". Why is it that the term "ex-gay" so threatens the gay community? It implies that one remains homosexual by choice. That the gay person need not continue in the homosexual lifestyle is an unsettling message. It is far easier to believe that there is no way out than to contemplate the rigors of the change process. Let no one deceive themselves by thinking that leaving the homosexual lifestyle is an easy thing to do. It is extremely difficult. It is only when we totally give up and say, "Lord, I can't do it on my own", that we allow God the opportunity to come in and begin to remake our lives. The process is slow and the gay person encounters much in the way of spiritual warfare. The enemy does not allow anyone to easily slip out of his control. Indeed, the ex-gay person passes through the fire.
How do we, those of us who are ex-gay, bear up under such a label? First, I have never found anyone who is enthusiastic about the label. It is a scar on the side and nail prints on the hands. It is insufficient identity and a poor trade-off for the former identity of being a homosexual. Again, just as it is not valid to use our sin as our identity, it is also not valid to use our former sin to form our identity. We are Christians who were formerly homosexuals. We may be Christians who still struggle with homosexuality, but we are first and foremost Christians. We are the property of Jesus Christ, no longer our own. Why then the label "ex-gay"? What purpose does it serve: It is our witness to the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. It is the ray of hope that flickers within the gay community that homosexuality is not a terminal condition. In itself, it says, "There IS a way out! "
CHANGE IS REAL. The changes Christ makes in a life are fact, not fraud or fantasy. The changes continue from the moment we accept Christ as Lord of our life until the day we see Him face to face. We can never expect perfection in this life, yet we can have every reason to expect continual change that brings us ever closer to the image of Christ. The idea that the ex-gay person is claiming to have arrived at perfection is a wrong comprehension of the term. What does "ex-gay" mean? It is a statement of fact: I am no longer the same. God has changed me, He is changing me, and He most certainly will continue to change me.
Copyrighted © by Frank Worthen. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
More in Resources
April 11, 2023Sabbatical for Stephen Black
August 9, 2022Recommended Books: Church and Theology
March 29, 2022Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll