“An identity greater than my sexual orientation”
The following is the testimony of a Christian man I know who has experienced same-sex attraction for years and has attended the sort of support that Victoria’s new “Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020” has just declared illegal.
There are many people who do not fit the narrative of “conversion therapy survivor”. Their stories are often ignored, or even silenced. I am grateful for this man’s bravery in sharing his story, and I am proud to present it here unedited.
MY EXPERIENCE OF A VICTORIAN SUPPORT GROUP FOR SAME SEX-ATTRACTED YOUNG ADULTS
I am an evangelical Christian and I have been attracted to both men and women from age thirteen.
I was a sensitive boy, creative and kind-hearted. In Grade One there was only one girl in my class and I felt sorry for her, so I became her friend. This led to my only close friends being girls, from Grade One til the end of Grade Four when my two close friends left the school. I then had to learn how to play soccer to try and fit in with the boys.
I am one of the Digital Pioneers Generation. We did not have the internet when I was a young child, but it came into popular use while I was in Primary School. We were flexible adapters and adopted this new technology as a way of life. This also made us the first generation to have access to online pornography from our homes. Our parents had no clue what we had access to or how to deal with it. This was not their fault, but it was a huge problem.
When I was thirteen, two major things happened. Firstly, I was bullied mercilessly by one boy in my class at school and did not connect at all with other boys at school. Secondly, I discovered pornography depicting men. It was actually a TV ad that was the gateway. It aired in prime time, maybe during the news or a sitcom. It was an ad for a movie they planned to air a few days later. I donâ€™t want to name it here, but it was a mainstream movie that featured sexualised menâ€™s bodies in an exciting way. This made me curious, so I logged on to our family computer and started googling. I have since reflected and have theorised that the heavy-handed rejection by the boys my own age may have confounded the problem.
This sin tormented me. I was hooked on the poison, and I remember feeling highly distressed while I was trying to get to sleep, saying â€œIâ€™ll never, ever tell anyone about this!â€ However about 6 months later the guilt got too much for me and I confessed to my parents and prayed with them that God would help me repent.
However I was still attracted to men, in particular the athletic male form. I was also attracted to girls, and asked out a couple girls during high school. For the record, I have never had a boyfriend or any sexual encounters with men.
When I was 18, still attending church, I was often plagued with guilt and shame about my orientation.
When I was 18, still attending church, I was often plagued with guilt and shame about my orientation. I went to a friend of mine who suggested I speak to another young man who had connections with a ministry to help people like me. I was referred to a support group for same sex-attracted young adults, run by a Christian organisation that does not exist anymore.
One of the reasons I am sharing my story is to describe what my experiences were in this support group. In light of the new Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020 becoming law in Victoria, I thought it may be helpful to share what it is like to be a Christian aiming to obey the Bibleâ€™s teaching on sexuality while having these attractions. And also to show you what this support was really like.
The groupâ€™s activities consisted of the following: sharing our testimonies, hanging out over a meal, praying for each other, Bible devotions, and using a video resource to fight the battle with porn. We also volunteered at a Christian conference on the topic of homosexuality which took place on the same weekend as a camp to support us. Part of that weekend were small group conversations. Those conversations consisted of tips on how to get support from your mates, even straight ones, and encouragement that God loved us and accepted us.
It is sad that at least two of those young men have “come out” since then, but I am glad that I was given the opportunity to know that I was not alone in this struggle, that it is possible to live a faithful Christian life while being same sex-attracted, and that there was help available to try to change my orientation if I wanted that.
I really wanted to change it. I wanted to obey God fully and also I feared that it would hurt my future wife emotionally if I were to marry one day.
I have since learned that God is able to change peopleâ€™s sexuality if he wishes, but for me, he did not change that part of my experience. I know that Jesus is close to the brokenhearted. I know that people are broken as a result of the global problem called sin. Gay sex is a sin and so is lust. (Just like heterosexual lust and pre-marital sex are wrong.) I aim to live a celibate single life being content, or get married to a gracious Christian woman who loves me, warts and all.
It was only in the last few years that I realised that the world would call me bisexual. I am glad I never adopted that label. God has blessed me with an identity greater than my sexual orientation, because I am a child of God, adopted into his worldwide family, the church.
God has blessed me with an identity greater than my sexual orientation because I am a child of God, adopted into his worldwide family, the church.
My experience at the support group for same sex-attracted adults was a positive one, one that was encouraging and harmless. The leaders were kindhearted people who invited us to eat at their kitchen table, volunteered copious amounts of their time and taught us from the Bible how to live Godâ€™s way. They showed us the grace and love of Jesus.
Now in my thirties, I still have these attractions. I meet weekly with a godly friend as an accountability partner and have seen great progress in becoming more like Jesus. I am a mess, but a beloved mess!
I am horrified at the idea of what my life would have looked like without the support of countless pastors and other Christians who walked with me on this journey. Let us be that support for the current generation of same-sex attracted Christians, no matter what the law says, for the law of Jesus is far greater, and it is to him that we answer to at the end of the day.
To read more testimonies of Christians who both experience same-sex attraction and seek to follow Christ, I can recommend checking out: