Reconciliation is something most of us experience in some part of our lives. Reconciliation is the process of making two seeming opposite beliefs, ideas, or situations agree or, at least, co-exist in harmony. It is about allowing these opposing beliefs, ideas or situations to continue together.
As a child, my first belief, idea or situation that I lived by was that there was a God – a Father in heaven – who loved me. He was the ultimate source of everything. He was the one who controlled everything and made everything happen. He was the one to whom I would ultimately return and live with forever. And most importantly, He loved me and said I was His son. I felt secure.
My second belief, idea, or situation was that I was different. As a child I didn’t understand this difference in sexual terms, but I knew I was not like other boys. I also knew that I found men fascinating. I wanted handsome men, such as pop stars or older teenage boys in my street, to like me. I thought it would be wonderful if they wanted me to be their friend. By puberty, I realised that I was attracted to men sexually – but I also knew that I must not tell anyone this fact. Those like me, if discovered, were liable to be ostracised, beaten, maybe killed.
I was unsure of how the future might play out, but at least God loved me. These two beliefs, ideas, or situations were not – at that time – irreconcilable.
Then as a 15 year old, I decided to make my love for God very real. I was not just going to be a church or Sunday School attendee. No, I was 100% committed. So, through an evangelical youth group (called Young Life) I prayed the sinner’s prayer and my born again life began.
At around this time, I discovered a Christian bookstore near my home and I purchased a book called The Jesus People Speak Out. The Jesus People were 1970s hippies who related to Jesus in a new way. Their “best friend” Jesus “took a bad rap” from the established religious authorities. The Jesus People made religion “cool”, experiential and real. Besides, old boring people thought the Jesus People were disrespectful, hence I was ready to side with the future of Christianity – the Jesus People side.
This book was compelling reading for a young man who wanted to show that he was 100% given to God – even despite this lingering, hidden realisation that he was homosexual. At this time, the homosexual part wasn’t too troublesome – I just had to make sure no one knew.
Then while I was reading, the question posed for comment was “what about homosexuals and the new gay lib movement?” This is when I learned that the Jesus People – “my people” – held that “the Bible teaches that homosexuals will not enter the kingdom of heaven”. And they quoted the Bible verse that appeared to state that very thing.
I remember reading those lines in the book and feeling the enormous drop in my stomach as if someone had just forced two bricks down my throat. I was an abomination. The God whom I thought loved me no matter what, couldn’t love me. And the Bible proved it.
It was a devastating moment. My two beliefs, ideas or situations were irreconcilable. I had to be cured.
Hence for the next 30 years, I prayed, fasted, sought counselling and even went through exorcisms (I was told by Pentecostals that the reason I was homosexual is that I had opened myself – at some time – to a demon of homosexuality). There posed two rather devastating irreconcilable issues. The first was that there was a demonic force within me. Secondly, that I had allowed the demon in. I didn’t know when I did or how I did it, but it was my fault that a demon of homosexuality was affecting my life. The next devastating reality was that despite the number of exorcisms I went through, I was still attracted to men. Was I holding onto this demon? I didn’t know how I was – but surely if I had faith the size of a mustard seed – then the demon would be gone.
Those 30 years were long and exhausting. Why didn’t God heal me? I was earnest. I believed. Once I even fasted for seven days (no food – just water) to demonstrate how earnest I was at wanting to be healed. But nothing.
I know my story is not unique. Many LGBTIQ+ Christians have experienced the same journey and experienced the same silence about healing from God, despite begging for God to make you “straight”.
Some people never reconcile their experience of the love of God with the stony silence and withheld healing. Many friends from my Christian teens and early 20s who, like me, begged God to make them straight, ask me why, given the stony silence of God in the face of earnest pleading, I still hold to the story of God who loves me and makes me His son.
Perhaps it was that I was able to reconcile who God is and to reach a serious and informed understanding of Scripture that led to reconciliation. Maybe it is just that I always knew that my Father in heaven – who loves me – must understood my homosexuality is nothing more than part of the identity with which I was born, and no – I didn’t allow a demon to enter my life. Perhaps it was coming to understand that God didn’t heal me because I never needed healing. In many ways this was the path to reconciliation. How could a God who loved me as the Scriptures taught withhold a healing if I needed to be healed?
I was able to reconcile daily life as it was with the lived message of Jesus. That message that the love of God is not preserved for the majority or the “ritually clean”. Rather the love of God looks for us when we are far off – when we aren’t pious and righteous – and comes running towards us to welcome us.
Now I am reconciled to God who welcomes me and my husband. We both know we are welcome in His all-encompassing love.
This (slightly updated) reflection was first published in the December 2022 edition of The Eagle, the magazine of St John’s Cathedral. Read the latest edition of The Eagle online.Jump to next article