Wednesday, December 01, 2010

From Captivity to Community

I just attended a conference in Wisconsin called Exodus International Regional Conference. It was a great time to connect with people who have been impacted in some way with same gender attraction. Some people came because of a spouse struggling with gender identity; some came to understand their friends or relatives who identify as gay. Most of the people who graced the conference, however, struggle themselves with same gender attraction. They have realized that fixing themselves is impossible and they are desperate to find healing and understanding of why they struggle. In that desperation they long to find a safe community.

On Sunday, people shared how the weekend had impacted them. A few people said they were scared to come. "What if I am attracted to someone?" "What happens if someone finds me attractive?" One man stood up and said, "It's like saying to an alcoholic, to find your healing you need to go to a bar and be faced with your temptation." Yet that is the very thing that someone who has a disconnect with his/her gender needs to do. When you struggle with same gender attraction, often you feel that you need to get away from that which tempts you-your own gender. Yet that is the very place you find your greatest healing. These men and women faced real fear to come to the conference in search of an accepting community.

I heard heart-wrenching stories that weekend. Many who struggle with same gender attraction have been rejected within their church communities because people are worried about inappropriate attraction. Men and women who struggle with same gender attraction are often tempted by their own genders, but those relationships are also the place where they find the greatest healing.

A Safe Place to Heal:

In my own journey out of a gay paradigm, I realized that in order to heal I had to be known and know other men in healthy ways. I couldn't allow my fear to dictate how I related to them. I had to step out into an unknown place, first with an utter dependence on God, my source of strength. Without that, I had no foundation. I had to have men who took the risk to be my friend. Who shared their own journey into manhood and their own struggles, allowing me to see that I am not as "different" as I had always assumed I was. I needed men to give me physical touch. To be unafraid to offer a hug, to embrace me as a brother, pure, healthy and whole. When I left the gay identity, I was walking away from a lot of physical touch. Physical touch that I needed - and it is a legitimate need - but it was found in unhealthy ways and outside the boundary lines of God's intent for me.

I am always encouraged as I attend conferences such as this where people know their need, face their fears and know that they are in a safe community. Sadly, this is often not found in their own communities of faith. More often, they feel pressure to be something they are not. To hide their struggle. This goes even beyond someone who struggles with their gender, but also with parents who have gay or lesbian children, or spouses of those who struggle. They fear judgement on who they are. This keeps them bound in secret and held captive by the enemy.

We all need each other. We need authentic, safe places to walk out our healing and face every issue that life may spring on us. If we don't find that authentic community within the Body of Christ, we will find it outside of that. We will find that in the arms of culture who will embrace our false identities, who will validate our anger, our unforgiveness, and our own ways of getting our needs met. May God give us the strength to rise up and take our place as safe and honest healing communities.


Sarah said...

Good word ... I hope to one day attend another Exodus conference myself.

I was just thinking about some of these points you had written on this blog. Sometimes I tend to think I'm way out to lunch with some of what I'm thinking but then I see that I'm actually not out to lunch but paradigm shift beginning to take place in my thinking... in a good way.

kenny said...

Sarah, i so appreciate your comments and ones that you post on the BTG blog. You are not out to lunch, and God is speaking through your life and your testimony. May the Lord be continued glorified in and through your life that is submitted to him. You are His precious daughter.