On a recent episode of Our America, Lisa Ling explored being gay in the Christian faith. The topic was explored using several different angles, interviewing pastors and followers of ex-gay ministries, as well as those who had attempted conversion therapy unsuccessfully. Threaded into these testimonials was an exploration of a Christian youth camp for out homosexual teens. I think it was an interesting look at how gay Christians reconcile their faith with their sexual orientation and the deeper philosophical and psychological struggles that are involved in such a choice.
The most notable theme for me was that many of the people in the ex-gay ministries were there because they had grown up desiring marriage and children. Sadly none of these folks believe, even in this day and age, that they can have a committed relationship and a family within the confines of a same sex relationship. The question that wasn’t asked of them was “what happens when you get married and the same sex attraction doesn’t go away?”. I was married to a man who tried to suppress his sexual orientation, because his faith told him it was a sin and he was an aberration. He was not successful in praying away the gay and the internal conflict became so difficult that he turned to drugs to escape his self-hatred and his pain. The emotional devastation bled into our family and the children and I are the unwitting victims of a choice that none of us should have to make.
Another story that touched me personally was that of a young man in his twenties, who talked about being celibate for the last 4 years. He had previously lived a gay lifestyle but walked away from that life because he was troubled by his promiscuity and always believed that the act was a sin. Watching him had me in tears. All I wanted to do was tell him that the promiscuity was a symptom of his self-hatred. If you don’t believe you’re worthy of love then you will not be able to find or sustain a loving relationship. Random sexual encounters become the norm because you don’t think you deserve any better. It was gut wrenching watching this young man – a boy really – in so much turmoil about his value as a human being. Didn’t God create us in his image? Didn’t he create us all out of love?
I think the show tried to be balanced in that they showed out gay people who were still rooted in their Christian faith, but they could have done a better job of showing examples of the many ministries in this country that are inclusive and accepting of all lifestyles. The fact that they exist means that no one should ever have to choose between spirituality and sexuality, 2 fundamental elements of our human condition. Ultimately we live in a country where there is freedom of choice. The question then becomes, is sexual orientation really a choice? Is it really possible to deny the primitive drive of sexuality that is within all of us? I think this show was the beginning of a very interesting dialogue. To paraphrase Lisa Ling, “‘is the Bible a set of rules to be followed dogmatically or is it more of a guidebook on how to live a moral life?”.
The Straight Spouse Network invites the perspectives of various individuals who wish to share their unique experiences. We thank Kajal (not her real name) for being our Guest Blogger today and permitting us to print this article.