“Quacks” – Special Report by the Southern Poverty Law Center on Conversion Therapy

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Quacks: ‘Conversion Therapists,’ the Anti-LGBT Right, and the Demonization of Homosexuality” is a powerful, accurate, and compelling account of the history of conversion therapy and the need to shut it down before it harms another generation of LGBT people. Many thanks to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for publishing this report.

The report centers around the successful lawsuit the SPLC brought against the conversion therapy group JONAH. They represented former JONAH participants suing to regain the money they spent on JONAH’s fraudulent claims to make them straight. The stories of what they went through at JONAH are incredibly heart-breaking. While the SPLC lawsuit is the anchor for the report, it also presented a very accurate overview of conversion therapy’s roots in history and how it manifests today.

Back in my Exodus leadership days, this kind of report would have caused incredible anxiety as I tried to do my best, phone call after phone call, email after email, conversation after conversation, to defend and protect Exodus. If this had happened back then, I would probably end up with a migraine somewhere in the first few days of this report as I would try to force fit this brutally honest expose into the accepted ex-gay narrative and ideology.

Now that I have no reason to fear the truth and have reconciled my faith and sexuality, I feel anger, guilt and grief. Anger because of being personally duped by some of the folks in the report. Guilt for not seeing what was so obvious sooner, and then when the red flags were going up and it was becoming obvious, grief for not speaking out against that whole dynamic sooner and stronger. I realize there is grace, but feelings are feelings and those are what I felt while reading the report. That said, I am also thankful. Thankful that the truth is being put out there, being documented, and that conversion therapy (in all its manifestations) is dwindling and will soon cease to exist.

I recommend this resource to you because, simply, it’s shining a necessary light onto a very dark practice. Many people, families and faith communities are thoroughly convinced conversion therapy is genuinely compassionate and helpful. In many faith communities, conversion therapy/groups, are the only option presented to LGBT people of faith. As a former “true believer” I know this to be the case. This abuse must, and will, end. LGBT people of faith deserve the same opportunities and access to resources in their faith communities as anyone else. It is my prayer that we will no longer allow ourselves to be turned into test subjects for abusive theories and counselors. That we will no longer be hidden away in a separate support group seeking to fix what isn’t broken. The church needs us for who we are and how we are created. We need the church to embrace us just as God has.

If interested, you can download the PDF of the report by clicking here.

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Live Openly, Confront Injustice, Celebrate Love

Authentic Living Compels Empathy And Compassion

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Last week something interesting happened. An activist I worked on a few projects with back between 2002 and 2008 contacted me saying they did not like my earlier blog post and the way it characterized the Liberty Counsel. I hadn’t seen or heard from this person since around 2008. When they stated, in their message, that they loved and considered me a friend, I was a little bewildered. I never realized they felt that way.

Because this person and I are no longer connected on Facebook, their message was “filtered.” Facebook doesn’t notify you of filtered messages (a problem in my opinion), I didn’t see it for over two weeks. When the message was eventually found and read (last week), I have been tempted not to respond. It had already been two weeks, and this person is a fairly high-profile conservative activist. I am not addicted to potential drama so wasn’t looking to stir up some.

The fact he took the time to send a message stuck with me. I tried avoiding thinking about it but kept feeling compelled to respond. In other situations like this, I haven’t bothered. Didn’t want to, didn’t need to. In those situations, I had no desire to be civil or polite. In those cases, the most gracious response was not to respond. However, something has changed in the past 6 or so months. Now, I do want to respond when appropriate to do so. Lately, I want to speak up and seek to end religious/cultural stigmatization of, and instead celebrate, the lives of gay people. I don’t have to respond, but I want to speak up when truly compelled to do so. I now believe I can respond from a place that is genuinely trying to be understanding and gracious. If I ever feel like my inner Sassy Randy is yelling through my keyboard, time to walk away, not respond or wait until I can see the common good again.

I did end up responding to him, and this is an excerpt from the message I sent:

Thank you for reaching out to me. I didn’t write my post to insult you. …

While I never want to be offensive for the sake of being offensive, what I wrote in the blog post you didn’t agree with is my honest opinion. I now believe our past actions on the projects we worked together on, and your continued actions against the LGBTQ community is destructive. I think the issues and methods you all have chosen to emphasize only serve to undermine true religious freedom and liberty in the name of protecting the same. I believe when we look to the letter of, or create, a man-made law to impose morality and disenfranchise our neighbor that activity is the antithesis of what I believe the Gospel is seeking to compel us to accomplish. Jesus modeled sacrifice, mercy, grace and service. He did not teach us to place our trust in government, boycotts, lawsuits or voting booths.

Someday I hope you will change your focus and steward your gifts in ways that include us as equals in policy and community. Again, I am not seeking to offend, just trying to be transparent and honest. …

He did respond a couple of days after my message. He said that he did not contact me to debate. He defended himself as not having a problem with people but does have a problem with an intolerant agenda (which he believes is against Christians). He said that the culture has deviated from clear right and wrong and that the Bible and Jesus are our “true north” for guiding public policy and personal morality.

I am paraphrasing his response in the above paragraph, but that is what I got out of what he had to say. I won’t be carrying this particular conversation with him any further, but am glad to have had the opportunity to send an initial response.

I am posting about this because I hope it offers some level of encouragement to the reader. The encouragement being that when opportunities present themselves, and we are in a good place, we assert ourselves toward making a positive difference. That we all, in the right time and way, square our shoulders and lift our chins with humility and strength to thoughtfully confront stigmatization and oppression. While this activist was upset with one paragraph in my long post, he had to read the rest of the post about my lovely evening on a fantastic date with an awesome man.

He might choose to ignore it, or force-fit my life into the narrative in his public policy driven world. But, at least for a moment, he was confronted with another real world example of someone he knows who happens to be gay; that I deserve equal protections and benefits under the law and in our culture.

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The South Is My Home, Too

Anti-LGBT Laws From One Gay Southern Man's Perspective

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We went to Seasons 52 off of Sand Lake Road in Orlando. Every time I looked at him, I felt an incredible connection of love flowing between us. I will never forget the evening light coming in through the windows illuminating his joyful countenance, lighting up those gorgeous blue eyes. I felt at home in his eyes. I was safe. We held hands across the table; we seemed always to be holding hands. We told jokes, talked about life stuff, and said I love you more than a few times.

We had wine and an incredibly delicious meal. After, we held hands out the door of the restaurant to the car. I stole a quick kiss just… you know… because… Then we went to the Orlando Eye, and did the cheesy tourist couple photo even though I live here. It was late, so it was easy to get our own carriage on this huge Ferris wheel. I forget what we were teasing each other about; teasing is another one of our love languages. I remember laughing and laughing. We took plenty of photos with our phones, too. When our carriage reached the very top, we shared a long romantic kiss and a heartfelt “I love you…”.

And like any couple in love, we just enjoyed the evening and each other. We enjoyed an excellent meal and the life-giving mutuality of discovering each other and enjoying a night together.

Not once during that splendid evening, or several others we had, did I spend time worrying about being a man in love with another man. I was simply in love. I wasn’t self-conscious about being on a  “gay” date or that we were a “gay” couple. We were simply a couple, in love, enjoying the evening like millions of other couples that same night.

I grew up in the south. I LOVE the south! There are many good, wonderful things about the south!! We have great food, culture, stories and more stories! There are many endearing qualities to embrace and celebrate. We have art, education, beautiful environment and many good-hearted amazing people.

Yes, we have had a horrible and bloody history. We still have huge problems, like the rest of the country, including situations in North Carolina, Mississippi, and Tennessee. These states recently passed legislation that willfully disenfranchises LGBT people from equal protections and benefits within those states. Last year, on my memorable date, we didn’t have to hide our affection and pretend to be just friends. We didn’t have to avert our eyes to avoid sending non-verbal cues to the other tables that we were romantically interested in each other. We didn’t have to worry about possibly be physically assaulted or thrown out of the establishment. We didn’t have to worry about being refused entrance to the Orlando Eye because we held hands or took a photo together as a couple.

As men who are many things including gay, we need to be careful, even today, even here. What I experienced that night is the way any couple should be able to be free to enjoy each other in safety and with the same access to services and opportunities in our community.

I have dated both men and women. I should not have to be hiding, guarded and reserved with an amazing man just because some in the community would be more comfortable with me doing the same things with an amazing woman.

The first time I came out was in Nashville Tennessee. For me, it was a much scarier time to be gay back then. When I came out, I got thrown out. I suffered being homeless then transient as a 19-year-old. I was physically assaulted many times growing up there. One severe time happened when I was around 20 years old. When the cops came, they laughed at me. They took my attackers word for it and didn’t even ask me for my version of events. As they walked back to the police car, they were laughing at me. They said I deserved being beaten for “flirting” with those guys.

Y’all, I would never have flirted with those guys … trust me.

Later when I had moved back to Texas, a group of guys and I were leaving a gay nightclub called “Britches and Bloomers.” Not kidding! That was its name! But as we were leaving, a truckload full of guys in a beat-up truck pulled up. They were brandishing rifles, cursing us in Spanish and English, and threatening to kill all of us “fags.” We all dove under cars or ran. I fell on top of my date that night shoving him under the car we were next too. All these years later, remembering that moment still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

I could go on and on, but the point is, my experience dating this wonderful man last year was so different from what I experienced 25-30+ years ago. It is such a relief to be free and who we are without fear in our local community. It’s a no-brainer that sharing a kiss at the top of the world (in Orlando) is MUCH more preferable than being targeted, beaten, and diving underneath cars to escape the line of sight coming off the end of a rifle.

When I see legislation being passed that in effect equates trans people to predators (NC), allowing licensed professional counselors to refuse professional help for LGBT clients (TN), and saying that somehow my fellow Christians deserve a right to discriminate in any and every way they see fits within their religious beliefs (MS and everywhere)… Well, that’s not acceptable.

These terrible policies harken back to a time when cops laughed at me as I bled into the snow after being beaten by homophobic bigots. It does so by enlivening a state willing to stigmatize innocent people in the name of protecting the rights of a particular group that were never in any danger to begin with. The policies are a mask. They aren’t protecting anyone from any real threat and instead empowering an unaccountable climate of fear and discrimination against the LGBT community.

Plus, I know the folks who are behind these bills, Liberty Counsel (LC). I worked with and met with them on some projects during my conservative years. Their animus toward LGBT people and false persecution complex is well documented. I know from personal experience that they are not simply interested in protected religious freedom. They want to shut down and silence the LGBT communities voice and influence. During my time as a conservative activist, I heard LC representatives, Matt Barber specifically (he was with them at that time), say that stigmatizing the gay community had to be a top priority. They had to “expose” us in unfavorable ways to advance “pro-family policy,” win back the culture, and deter people from entering into or condoning a destructive “lifestyle.”

Even back then I didn’t agree with Mr. Barber’s demeanor or focus and opposed stigmatization.

From my experience, I believe they are legalists so they will do whatever they can to craft the language in manipulative ways to appear righteous yet set up legal precedent to silence and disenfranchise LGBT people.

We have, can, and will do better than succumb to fear and manipulation. Repeal anti-LGBT laws and defeat proposed new ones.

When I read of Jesus feeding the 5,000. He didn’t say, “Now, before we get started, all the gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people need to leave quietly and go to some other luncheon. There are plenty of options over yonder where they have their ‘Samarian values.’  Unless you are with the catering crew, y’all just need to take your gay pride on down the road. Go ahead; we are going to wait till you are gone. Peter! Do NOT pass out that bread or the LGBT’s might think we condone their lifestyle!”

Nope, Jesus never said anything like that.

The Savior I know would give not just food but Living Water to LGBT people. He would lift the chin of the scared Trans person, look them in the eyes and say, “I see you. I know and love you. You do not have to fear Me.” I see Him shielding the group of gay guys outside of Britches and Bloomers from the rifle-wielding bullies. I see Him, with an understanding look, wiping the tears and blood from my face after my assault…

And you know what else? I see Him smiling as I steal a kiss from my date… just cause…  I can easily imagine His delight as I allowed myself to love another soul, truly and honestly, maybe for the first time in my life.

The South is my home, too.

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Note: The photo in this photograph was taken at a local favorite restaurant that specializes in southern comfort food. I didn’t get thrown out of it :). I think the photo represents this topic, symbolically, perfectly.

A Joyful Response To “Making Sense Of The Bible” by Adam Hamilton

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Friday night I finished reading the book “Making Sense of the Bible” by Adam Hamilton. It feels like this has been a pivotal book in my faith journey. I posted the following on Facebook after reading chapter 29 which covered the topic of homosexuality.

I know it is late but just wanted to share something really cool. About an hour ago I finished reading the chapter on…

Posted by Randy Thomas on Thursday, March 3, 2016

Now, two days later, I have finished and meditated on the book a bit. In this post I will try to share more about how it impacted me.

I believe the Spirit has been teaching me a few things over the years regarding the scriptures that are affirmed and very eloquently stated in Hamilton’s book. Hamilton basically says that the scriptures can be categorized and placed into three different “buckets” (I will be paraphrasing):

  • Bucket #1 are the scriptures that accurately reflect the “timeless heart and will of God” – some examples would be the scriptures like the Beatitudes and the command of Jesus to “Love God with your whole being and others as yourself.” As well as, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
  • Bucket #2 are the scriptures that are the heart and will of God for a particular time. I think some examples would be the temple rituals and symbolism, and the specific miracles.
  • Bucket #3 are scriptures that reflect the subjective/biased opinions of the human authors trying to apply what they thought they knew of God, their community, and their environment at the time of their writing. Examples would be of the acceptance of slavery and misogynistic views women which is obviously not and has never been the will of God, but was often the norm in biblical times.

I had quietly and privately come to the same conclusions as the above three points before reading the book but hadn’t put them into a clear framework. After reading Hamilton’s reasoning and explanation through the whole book, it felt like a gift. The weight that fell off my soul was the heap of cursing that I have received over the years from those who claim to know the scriptures, and the legalistic standard they believe the scriptures represent, better than me.

Another thing that I hadn’t ever heard from a Christian leader/author before was that the Apostle Paul would probably have balked at the thought that his personal letters to various churches would have ever become the “holy word of God.” When Paul was inspired to write those letters, there is no doubt that the Spirit had urged him to write to those churches. There is no doubt in my mind the Spirit inspired the readers of the letters on certain points. I have been inspired by quite a few of Paul’s insights in very significant ways. But Paul wrote it just like any normal person would write a spiritual message to other people they love. We know that during the process of writing we would feel the Spirit guiding us but we would always be mindful that we make mistakes.

When I read that Paul probably wouldn’t have thought that his letters would ever be considered “divine dictation,” my jaw literally dropped as I read that. It was so clear, easy, and obvious. Of course, the authors of the various books of the bible were human and doing their best. Of course, God inspired some of what they wrote, inspire us through what they wrote, and would give them/us timeless nuggets of genuine revelation. And, of course, I now believe they injected personal bias in there along with everything else. I also believe that each generation injects personal bias into how to interpret the bible.

The biblical authors are just like us. You know, human’s trying to understand and write about God. They are spirit-inspired, and quite capable of knowingly or unknowingly injecting personal bias. It’s not one or the other; it’s both.

For the remainder of last Thursday night and since the Spirit has been reminding me of the specific epiphanies and spiritually intimate moments He and I have had in our journey together over the years. He has affirmed my experiences with Him are real but in some cases I had taken His “I”nspiration and added my own narrative/bias/agenda to contextualize it. Then all of a sudden, and this is where a flood of emotions come in, I could accept the humanity of the bible. I not only see the glory of God revealed, the Divine song within the bible, I can actually relate to the biblical authors in a much deeper and powerful way. I know what it is like to have my life completely upended by experiencing God and yet still only communicate and “see through the glass darkly.”

What I also love is that Hamilton affirms that when it comes to Jesus, He is as the Gospel of John says right at the start, Jesus is the Word Of God. Jesus is the only inerrant infallible word of God and all scriptures should pass through the “colander” of Christ to determine which “bucket” they belong in. That’s exactly where the Spirit had me on this issue and to see it explained so clearly and easily was beautifully stunning.

Since finishing this book, a joy and hope I didn’t even realize had been missing for a while has been restored in a powerful way. I highly recommend “Making Sense of the Bible” by Adam Hamilton… to everyone :).

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Making Sense of The Bible, As A Gay Man

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One concern I have for those who hold to inerrancy is that they seem to indicate that their entire faith would collapse if the Bible were found to have one real error. As I noted in a previous chapter, this seems a very weak foundation for one’s faith. The early Christians did not see an inerrant Bible as the foundation for their faith. For them, it was Jesus Christ, God’s Word enfleshed, that was the foundation of their faith.” – Excerpt From: Hamilton, Adam. Making Sense of the Bible. Harpercollins Publishers. iBooks.

Jesus has used the Bible to inspire and transform my life in many ways. The Spirit has revealed, counseled, and taught me many valuable insights from the 66 books that make up the Bible. That said, I have been silent about the scriptures for a few years now; very rarely mentioning or quoting them. There has been good reason for the silence.

The single question I am most often asked over the past 13 months is, “How do you reconcile being gay, and looking forward to your future husband, with the scriptures?” Most of the time when I get that question via a private message or email I simply don’t answer. I am wary of that question being a trojan horse for someone revving up for some verbal stone-throwing. I have seen that discussion unfold hundreds and hundreds of times over my life. I can almost script the potential conversations verbatim.

Today I am going to break the silence and speak to this quickly. The following is not comprehensive, and I certainly do not want to imply others should agree with me. Here goes…

I see it this way, given that Jesus summarized whole of scripture to love God with your whole being and your neighbor as yourself, to do unto others as you would want done unto you … my faith in Christ compels and empowers me to do that.

Plus, seeing the damaging and deadly fruit of stigmatizing legalistic theology, I could no longer ignore or deny that I was living in idealization, talking points, and behavioral modification. I was not living in the reality of what is, but instead, I was living in the fantasy of what I thought “should be.” I could no longer explain away the life-giving love of gay people and couples all around me. I slowly accepted that Christ was not condemning me for who I was as a gay man and that I wasn’t “going back” but was truly becoming free and whole. I realized that I had done everything, believed everything, and taught all things ex-gay and still had a pure love and yearning for my future husband … and that the persistence of this desire isn’t a manifestation of brokenness, it is a beautiful expression of who I am.

I now believe that desire for relational/emotional intimacy with another man didn’t change or leave me because it didn’t need to. I looked and saw the fruit of the Spirit manifesting in gay lives and relationships, not in ex-gay 501(c)3 parachurch organizations. It was the difference between grapes on a vine and grape jelly in a jar.

I am gay, and it’s not only ok but it also a life-giving gift. Being gay is not the whole of who I am, but it is a wonderful part of the gift of life our Creator has given me. I am grateful to Him for that.

Quietly I have been meditating on scripture and seeking God for knowledge and wisdom. Many conservatives have and will scoff at that thought. A few call me all manner of evil and say I have abandoned the scripture to embrace “darkness” and “brokenness.” It’s as if they believe that the scriptures are the high priest of my faith. The Bible is not my high priest and Jesus never declared it would be.

Jesus is my high priest. He is the only inerrant, infallible word of God. He is, truly, enough. And yet, some will negatively judge me as ignorant or rebellious because I have yet, and won’t, quote a scripture in this post.

Over the past few years I have come to some different conclusions about the Bible; changed my mind on quite a few things. I believe that the Holy Spirit is guiding me in all of that. Lately, I have been yearning for more spiritual readings and further study. A friend told me about a book rocking her world called “Making Sense of the Bible” by Adam Hamilton. I am halfway through it, and it is rocking my world too! Particularly in that, almost all of what Mr. Hamilton is saying are conclusions I had come to (in a more basic form) over the past couple of years. I am enthralled with this book and haven’t even gotten to the more controversial modern parts yet! The chapter on homosexuality is almost at the very end of the book! But I have been good and reading the book in order. I don’t want to limit the whole of Mr. Hamilton’s message to one part of it.

I will admit to weeping a few times during my reading of the book so far. It has been so relieving to see what I thought the Spirit was telling me echoed in this Pastor’s wisdom about the scripture and his experience with our living Christ.

So, how do I fully reconcile my beliefs about being gay with the scriptures? I don’t have a full theological answer that will satisfy most people who might care to know what I think. What I do know is that I am reconciled to Christ, and He is more than enough.

I have a feeling I might be writing more about this in the future…maybe. 🙂

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Turning Grief Into LifeGiving Action – Remembering Michael

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Hello, friends. I hope you are doing well this morning. Today is a somber one for me and anyone who knew and loved Michael. Today marks the third anniversary of his taking his life. The memory is still as fresh and painful as the day it happened but my understanding of it has deepened over the past three years. While there are still, will always be, plenty of tears at the memory, my resolve to focus on the many loving memories we had over 23 years of friendship strengthens. I remember Michael’s great capacity to love. I remember his bright and unique laughter;  those big brown expressive eyes. It’s easy to remember his compassion and his many ways of bringing beauty into the world.

I also want to honor Michael by also asking you to consider two things.

First, please consider supporting The Trevor Project,

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.

I have researched and talked with the incredible leaders there, and The Trevor Project is an amazing resource that is saving lives.

Secondly, please think about and do what you can to help end religious discrimination and stigmatization of LGBT people. If your church or religious organization is not willing to affirm all of who you are, including the LGBT part, and offer you equal access to resources and opportunities as any other son or daughter of God, it’s time to lovingly, graciously, take a stand. Specifically for my siblings in Christ, our faith in Christ is as authentic as anyone sitting next to us in the pew, and it’s time to take our rightful place in the Body of Christ.

Some of us may have the courage to take our talent, energy and donation money elsewhere. Good! There is plenty of need and opportunity in this great big world. Some may boldly choose to engage church or denominational battles. More power to you; how can we help? Others of us will bravely leave invalidating and sometimes abusive environments. How can we best support you and your transition?

Let’s choose to invest in “the Kingdom” by living honestly, loving God with our whole being and loving others with sacrificial service and humility.

Do what you have to do, but please do something.

In closing, I want to share this dream again. I had a dream shortly after Michael’s passing that completely reframes how I see this situation. In it, Michael came to me, held my hand, and we sat on a bench in a beautiful park surrounded by sunlight. He was radiant, and he sang the most beautiful otherworldly song. I believe our Heavenly Father allowed that to happen so that I would remember the beautiful Michael and not let the tragedy of suicide define him in my mind. Holding his strong hand, hearing his amazing song.

Michael’s song, his life in this world and the next, is so clear, so vivid, and beautiful, … just like him.

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Respecting Each Other’s Journey & Process

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Last week I came out pretty strong against current ex-gay ministry networks, especially the Restored Hope Network (RHN). As a result, some good conversation happened on Facebook and especially in private messages. Today, I want to make it clear that I have total respect for someone’s personal journey. What I don’t respect are organizations who feel the need to perpetuate cultural bias and stigma in the name of spiritual growth, and “biblical truth.”

I still have conservative Christian friends that I love dearly. Some of whom are ex-gay, same gender attracted and married to the opposite sex, or gay and/or celibate because of their spiritual beliefs. I would do anything to help them and make no apologies for supporting them in the ways that I can. Some of these friends have been my friends since my early 20’s. I love them; they love me… that’s what matters.

If someone tells me, I am wrong and that they can’t live with the “gay” label. Ok, thanks for or your opinion and more power to you. I am more interested in you than labels, too. If they share that they believe that same gender physical expressions of love within the context of a committed, loving relationship are sinful, ok, again thanks for your opinion. If they want my thoughts, which isn’t always the case, my views are clearly expressed on this blog or we can have a conversation.

However, what I won’t do is judge them in my heart and try to manipulate my way into changing their mind. <–period. Where appropriate (like this post) or asked, I will share my experience but not try to impose it as a template for anyone else to follow.

For example, if someone believes they are called to celibacy, great. I did too and lived it for 23 years. I learned MANY things about celibacy scripturally and in a real practical application sense. I believe living that way helped me think through things, have *amazing* spiritual intimacy with God, and develop real lasting character strengths. I also lived that way because of a ton of overwhelming fear and idealization. My motivation and experience were a mixed bag, but I don’t regret that decision because of the truly aforementioned benefits. Overall, I do not regret my time, two decades plus, as a celibate person. I believe it worked to make me a better person. However, people have to decide for themselves if that way of living is going to be a life-giving decision or lifelong commitment or not.

Also, one of my best friends is Alan Chambers. He has shared that he is attracted to other men and also attracted, much more so, to his wife, Leslie. I have known Alan for almost 21 years and met Leslie right after they married 18 years ago this month. Their marriage is beautiful and if two people were ever made for each other… I believe they are. Because of Alan’s same-sex attractions, some people don’t understand their marriage and unfairly criticize them in various ways. That’s not just unfair, it is unfortunate for the person falsely judging them. They are missing how love and relationship aren’t limited to our modern perceptions of what’s possible. Alan and Leslie are amazing friends as individuals, but they are also incredibly life-giving to each other, their kids, and their community… I am so happy for and blessed by them. They have become like family to me.

The problem with groups like RHN is this, they make a career out of repeating the cultural bigotry against gay people of faith and distort the above two examples (celibacy and opposite sex marriage) as the ONLY way gay people of faith can properly live in relationship to God. Not only that, they say that if you are not happy, healthy and whole living as a celibate or married to the opposite sex, then you still need *them* to help fix whatever else is still broken. Because in their world (that I used to be a part of) you wouldn’t desire “sexual sin” if you were truly healthy and in relationship with Christ.

Here’s the truth. Gay people aren’t broken because they are gay. Just like the rest of humanity, of course, we have issues, but being gay is not a negative, it is a gift. Gay people of faith don’t need to be fixed to be “right with God.” We need the same respect, opportunities, and resources straight people and couples have access too. That’s it.

I have often shared that when I was thrown out of the house at the age of 19 (the first time I came out), I was suicidal. What I don’t often share is that I was also suicidal at the end of 2013. Also, we are coming up on the third anniversary of my beloved friend Michael taking his life in January of 2013. In some ways, his decision to do that dissuaded me from doing the same later that year. And now, I am incredibly grateful to be alive.

I was suicidal because I realized I had been living a legalistic lie on many levels. I couldn’t see the good of the past (and there is plenty) and was spiraling into despair. Living a celibate life was no longer life-giving to me. Intimacy with God was still there, as it is now, and I felt Him guiding me to question … everything. He’s always made it very clear that I could trust Him; that He loved me for all of who I am including that I was gay. I knew in my heart and soul that the season of living celibately had ended, and initially I was deathly afraid of what that meant.  I had been taught for over two decades that all I could do was be celibate or find a wife. Yet, in my heart, my desire for my future husband was stronger than ever before.

I fought it tooth and nail, but I fell in love with my future husband without even knowing who he would be. I found my eyes were constantly drawn to the horizon in search of him. Then the Spirit removed my blinders and showed that the yearning and desire I had in my heart was a beautiful expression of love. One that I was afraid to look at honestly. Instead of being scared and alone, I could see it as a genuine healthy extension of the whole person in Christ I had grown to be.

My transformation in Christ has been comprehensive, across the board, amazing. This includes being set free to love as He created me to love. To serve as He created me to serve. To move from one finished season of life to the next amazing chapter still in love with and trusting Him to be my Good Shepherd.

I can also trust Him to take care, protect and shepherd the man of my dreams. That when I look to the horizon, one day he will be standing there with Jesus pointing him to me and drawing me to him.

That said, my process and journey are my own, and I have zero interest in trying to make my life a template for someone else to follow. I only seek to be the best friend I can be as you seek to live in a manner you feel compelled to live. I trust in a God, who is the Author of every single breath. I trust in His gift of you to us, and His gifts in you to manifest beauty and grace in the world.

Let’s look for the beauty of God, not the faults of others.
randy_sig

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