I do not like to be called “ex-gay”. In fact, I try not to use it in conversations. If I do use it, though, I do so with quotes. The term is faulty and misleading. This is why we (Six11 Ministries) do not define ourselves as an “ex-gay” ministry. This article attempts to re-define the word, by answering the question: What do you mean by “ex-gay”?
In today’s understanding and culture, the term “ex-gay” seems to apply total heterosexuality. One is in no way tempted by same-sex persons. The word itself has caused much debate and heartache.
The pro-gay side states that if someone is still attracted to the same-sex, then they are not fully healed, thus they are not truly ex-gay. And I agree with them – to a point. The idea that “ex-gay” equals some one turning from 100% gay to 100% straight is wrong. The idea that “ex-gay” implies marriage and having 3.5 kids, is also wrong. This is why the term “ex-gay” fails.
However, to say that no healing has taken place, is also a wrong conclusion. Just because someone is still tempted by the same-sex, or just because a gay man never marries a woman, does not imply that healing has not taken place. Is the person acting upon their attractions? Is the person in a committed relationship with the same-sex? If the answer is yes, then healing has not truly taken place. However, if the answer is no, then healing has taken place. The Church and Gay Community need to both understand that God’s idea of healing and restoration looks different for each individual.
I know a lot of people from all sides of the spectrum. Some of my friends, who once considered themselves to have a gay orientation, have no same-sex temptations whatsoever. They are happily married with kids (some with more than 3.5). Other friends are married with kids, but still struggle with same-sex attractions occasionally. They simply choose not to act upon these temptations. I would fit into this category.
Still other friends face same-sex attractions and have no desire to marry the opposite sex. They strive to live celibate lives, for the glory of God.
All three journeys are acceptable. All three imply healing has taken place. Two of them, however, would not fit into the term “ex-gay” as defined above. Therefore, I suggest we stop using the term altogether. In the second and third examples from above, hearing the term “ex-gay” sometimes implies something they know they are not, and therefore they have not achieved the “end-goal” of life – namely, married with kids and a healthy heterosexual mindset. Many people – including myself at one time – get so infatuated with becoming “ex-gay” that they are never satisfied with what God is doing, and wants to do through their lives.
If we are in Christ, our lives belong to Him. Our future is planned out according to His will and purpose. What comes may not be what we think is best, but it is the best – God’s best – for us. This is why Six11 Ministries, strives to help both the Church and Gay Community understand that the end-goal is not “straightness” or “marriage” but rather to become God’s child.
So what does this say about “ex-gay” ministries: Are they all good, do they all work, are they all bad?
Well first, I think we need to nix our expectations about “ex-gay” ministries – or wholeness ministries – like Exodus and others (including Six11). No ministry can “cure” a person. Only Christ can do that, through the work and power of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:11 … hence our name).
Now in regards to the above questions, I could honestly answer “yes” and “no” to each one.
If a person is deeply committed to finding themselves in Christ and not in their struggle, then yes, the ministry and journey will prove to be positive. If, however, the person only focuses on their struggle and finding themselves (i.e. 100% straightness and marriage), then no, the ministry and journey will prove to be negative.
Wholeness ministries are not evil in of themselves. For a person who considers themselves to be gay, but wants to live according to Christ, wholeness ministries are good to be involved with; and they will work if they are committed to the suggestions offered (biblical and authentic suggestions anyways). One can not do this journey alone. We need support and each other to keep walking this walk of faith, just like Paul says, ” So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Though, as a caution, make sure what the ministries are presenting is biblical. Check it out. Don’t simply accept something because everyone else does; rather be a Berean (Acts 17:11), and search the scriptures yourself, asking God to reveal His truth for your life. These principles are how my faith foundations were built: God’s revelation over mans.
Again, ministries to those who are gay and lesbians should have as their goal God’s Wholeness. It is only in Jesus Christ that one can and will find their wholeness – straight, gay, bi, etc. It doesn’t matter how many times one goes through an “ex-gay” ministry, if they are not pursuing wholeness (identity) with Christ, they are not truly walking out of anything but rather walking deeper into selfishness.
One can live a worthy life in Christ single, and married. One can be a disciple of Christ and still be tempted with same-sex attractions. Remember, it is the person’s heart and commitment that makes them a disciple of Christ, not their sexuality – not their “thought life”. If this were the case, then Paul certainly would not have been a disciple of Jesus (Romans 7).
When we are focused on Christ, we take the attention off of ourselves and place it back onto Him. When our focus is on Christ we are admitting to ourselves, and to Him, that our life is about Him and not about us, as Psalm 115:1 states, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to YOUR Name be the glory, because of YOUR love and faithfulness“. As Christ says in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in ME you may have peace (wholeness, security, certainty). In this world you will have trouble. But take heart (have hope, be assured, hold on to this truth)! I have overcome the world.” This was said by Christ even before He died and overcame the world and death. Which means simply these two truths: we have a God who is always in control and a God who is an overcoming Savior. In knowing this, finding our wholeness in Him is better than finding our wholeness in ourselves – especially since we are prone to fail and sub-comb to trials easily.
In answering this question about “ex-gays” – and the following question about “change” – I think the Apostle Paul sums up best what I am trying to get at:
For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me.
But (Christ) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me … For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
God’s Grace works within us to move us from point A to point Z. As stated above, the end result is Christ’s image. How that looks, is different for each person – as God wills. The point isn’t so much that we all look the same, rather that we look like Him. Each one of us, however, controls how much of God’s Grace we walk in. God gives His Grace to us freely, but it is up to us to walk in it. God will not force our feet or hands … He patiently waits for us to surrender all, so that He can be all in us.
When it comes to dealing with temptation – like same-sex attractions – all must depend on the Father’s Grace to get us through every hurdle. It is by His Grace that we have “success” – whatever that looks like. If we are truly pursuing after His heart, then we are pursuing after His best.
This page first appeared as a post on July 15, 2008. Click here to read the original comments.