It wasn’t easy growing up with same-sex attraction. At a very vulnerable age I faced rejection and alienation both inside and outside the Church. I was thought of as peculiar—an outsider, someone you couldn’t trust. It’s ironic that today we face exactly the same thing. But this time the hostility, distrust and shaming isn’t coming from those who fear or hate gay people; it's coming from people who claim to be defenders of those of us who experience same-sex attraction.
A recent incident in London illustrates just how much hostility there is towards Christians with same-sex attraction who have decided to obey God’s law.
My colleagues and I were scheduled to present seminars on “Holy Sexuality” in London earlier this year. Prior to our arrival, the inviting church produced flyers and posters announcing our seminars. Almost immediately an intense campaign to smear us began. In just 24 hours more than 40,000 Londoners signed a petition to ban us from speaking there.
We were falsely tagged as promoting “reparative therapy”. These programs claim to “cure” gay people and make them “straight”. Such therapies have no regulations and many of the tactics can be bizarre. I’ve never associated with such therapies and, in fact, I think they are deeply damaging. Our seminars about sexuality are drawn from God’s Word and what He desires of us—and have nothing whatsoever in common with these dubious “therapies”. We only want to respond to God’s call on our lives. In every way we want to be faithful to God’s Word.
The signatures were presented to the event organisers. They cancelled the event. None of them reached out to us. For two days we were in a state of shock, feeling like we had been kicked in the stomach. And then one of our speakers was summarily removed from another speaking appointment in the UK.
It was like we were back in our youth—ostracised and marginalised because we are different. To say it was immensely painful is an understatement. It rocked our world.
If those of us with same-sex attraction can’t talk openly about our struggles and decisions to follow Jesus no matter what the cost, what hope is there for the millions of men and women facing the same struggle that we face? If our community wilts at the first sign of opposition what future do we have? Where is the courage of our convictions? Where are those men and women who will be true to duty like the needle to the pole? Ellen White foresaw this era when she wrote:
“The world is fast approaching that point in iniquity and human depravity when God’s interference will become necessary. And at that time His professed followers should be more marked for their fidelity to His holy law . . . Soon God’s people will be tested by fiery trials, and the great proportion of those who now appear to be genuine and true will prove to be base metal. Instead of being strengthened and confirmed by opposition, threats and abuse, they will cowardly take the side of the opposers. The promise is: 'Them that honour Me I will honour.' Shall we be less firmly attached to God’s law because the world at large have attempted to make it void? . . . Now is the time for God’s people to show themselves true to principle. When the religion of Christ is most held in contempt, when His law is most despised, then should our zeal be the warmest and our courage and firmness the most unflinching. To stand in defence of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few—this will be our test” (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol 5, pp 135,136).
But God has a strange way of turning human disaster into divine victory. Not long after we arrived in Italy, Helena Horton, a journalist for the UK’s Daily Mirror newspaper, contacted us. The Daily Mirror has an average daily circulation of almost a million copies and a very popular news website to accompany it. Helena has close ties to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community and found the accusations about us disturbing. But rather than believe secondhand sources, she searched us out and invited us to talk with her. We talked via Skype and shared what Coming Out Ministries is all about. While she did not agree with everything we shared, she confirmed that we had been falsely accused and that the truth about Coming Out Ministries needed to be presented to the public.
Here was a journalist who had no connection with Adventists but was dedicated to telling the truth and clearing our names from false reporting. This, even as some in our own community repeated the false accusations. So ironically we were treated much more fairly and decently by the secular press than we were by some who claimed to be part of our church family. And despite being banned we reached a much larger audience than we ever could have hoped with the wonderful news that Jesus forgives sin, gives new life and through Him every person on earth has value and hope—and if we only accept His life-changing love we will have eternal life!
You can read the reporter's story here: <http://www.mirror.co.uk/usvsth3m/imagine-being-christia-thinking-god-5570230>.
Wayne Blakely has spoken in Adventist churches across the world, including in Australia, and is part of Coming Out Ministries. Visit their website at <www.comingoutministries.org>.