In the latest issue of Leadership Journal, we featured an article by Wheaton College provost Stanton Jones, entitled, "Help, I'm Gay." It was a conversation between Jones and "Todd," a composite of people Jones has counseled over the years on the topic. The piece had a polarizing effect: some lauded Jones for his wise counsel while others felt Jones's approach was wrong, even dangerous. One reader wrote Jones directly about the article and both men have granted permission for us to run their exchange. We hope their correspondence will clarify Jones's intentions with the original piece and foster productive dialogue about this crucial issue.
I read your article in Leadership Journal. Thanks for tackling a difficult subject. I wanted to share a few thoughts as someone who deals with the issue personally. I'm married (20+ years now) but still struggle with homosexuality. I've been down the Exodus road of "I'm gonna change," but have not. I cope; I guess that's the best I can hope for. Your article admitted that change doesn't happen as much as some (including me) would wish for.
There are two things, however, that I feel compelled to mention. First, Todd asks directly: "Does he (God) hate me? That's what Romans 1 seems to imply."
For someone who struggles with homosexuality, this is a very big issue. Your response — "I am not sure I have a great answer for that" — was a HUGE MISS. This is a serious question. The traditional position that God hates homosexuals is still so pervasive that most who struggle with this issue have a hard time accepting that God can even begin to love them. The pastor of my church growing up told us that homosexuals were already condemned to hell; nothing could save them. Too many in the church today still believe this. Your response showed a lack of conviction about God loving or hating Todd.
Second, I challenge your encouragement of sharing and transparency. My experience, and many others, indicates that if you are honest and transparent about your struggles, you'd better be ready to pay the price. Leadership in your local church? Forget it. Helpful sharing with brothers and sisters in Christ? Only if you want to lose them as friends. The vast majority of Christians are completely unequipped to handle someone who is same-gender attracted.
I no longer have any friends from the last church I attended. My wife and I were close friends with the pastor, his wife, several leaders, and many congregational members. After cautious revelation to selected people, as discretely as possible, now not one person, including the pastor, connects with me at all, let alone is a friend. When I see any of them in town, they shun me.
I wish I could say my case is unique, but it's not. It's amazing really. One can be a drug dealer, alcoholic, thief, even a murderer, and once cleaned up, can find a home in the church. Homosexually-oriented folks simply need not apply. If I were advising Todd, I would tell him to find helpful believing friends as far away from his normal church circles as he can. Hide, hide, hide! Nothing good comes out of being open. Nothing.
Sadly, the church is the least helpful institution for believers struggling with homosexual attraction. I believe that's one of the reasons there is so little success for folks like me. On the one side is "Christian condemnation," while on the other side, the GLBT movement is "welcoming and affirming" to those who would simply embrace their homosexual feelings. All the support comes from the wrong side. How can anyone expect a different outcome?