Why Hoping for Change Can Hurt

Why Hoping for Change Can Hurt June 13, 2013

GCN 2012 Conference“People have been badly wounded by the false hope that if they would just pray, study, and counsel, then change can occur. But it doesn’t.”

True Story is the theme of next week’s Exodus conference in CA. I’m holding out hope that this will mean less theory and more lived experience, the only thing for healing damage caused by false hope to the LGBTQ community.

If “ex-gay therapy” were pain relief medicine, it would be off the shelves with the company defending against a class-action suit. Well-meaning people  sometimes suggest “ex-gay” ministries because homosexuality makes them uncomfortable, and this lets them feel as though they’ve contributed a “positive solution.” But we must recognize that it doesn’t work. Exodus President Alan Chambers has admitted, “99.9% of people that come to Exodus do not experience change in their sexual orientation.” Same-sex attraction never leaves, he said. The original founders of Exodus are perfect examples of this. If he hasn’t seen it work, why is it even still on the table?

But like a defective pain med, it not only fails to help, it is deadly. People have been badly wounded by the false hope that if they would just pray, study, and counsel, then change can occur. But the damage that comes from that – through self-hatred and shame, through broken marriage vows made “in faith,” to kids of those marriages – is incalculable. To require such change is not loving because it leaves the LGBTQ person holding the bag, expected to change, even believing in faith that they have changed even if they don’t feel it, because they know the shame is coming if they don’t change.

Just this morning a woman emailed me about her daughter who came out to her. Their pastor said to pray because God can do anything. I have a suggestion. Ask God to change people so they are okay with LGBTQ, and to stop pushing for change. In fact, I have not seen much evidence that He is changing gay people into straight people. But I’ve seen Him change those who are not okay with it into those who become accepting allies of their LGBTQ loved ones. As a person who loves God and loves others, I think that makes a lot more sense. Perhaps, if people would just pray, study and counsel, maybe God will change them into being happy with their gay loved ones.

What should we hope for our gay loved ones? We hope for them to have a wonderful and satisfying life full of love and to know how much God loves them.

CLICK HERE to read “To Christian Parents of Gay Children.”

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  • You’re so welcome. And thank you for sharing!

  • Shirley Peek

    There is a lot written about the pain that having parents who cannot accept their gay child causes but the fracturing of the extended family can be enormous. I have essentially lost my mother and a brother due to their inability to cope with my son being gay. My mother was my best friend and this particular son was the one she was closest to. Her inability to get past this has shaken not only my belief in her but in everything she ever taught me. While I do still occasionally see my mother and brother the relationships are severely damaged.and after 5 years of discussion I see no change in their thinking. I am profoundly grateful that my husband and my son’s two brothers and the majority of our family remain loving and supportive. I appreciate the information that you provide and the support. Perhaps in time I will be able to work my way back into a relationship with Jesus that has been so fractured by what has been such a betrayal by a women who first taught me to love him.

  • Oh, I’m so sorry for the pain you are going through. It sounds very tough. I read this, and it’s so clear that it’s about her difficulty, not the wrongness or rightness of your son being gay. That’s the heartbreaking part — to act as though we’re taking a strong moral stand when, in fact, we are simply not loving. My heart goes out to you, and I hope with that things will mend. Meanwhile, bless the rest of your loving and supportive family. Thank you for sharing.

  • Dan, I understand your heart here. I have heard that same thing from people I’ve talked to. But I encourage you to re-look at the posts – where it says LGBTQ, and know that B means it applies to bis. I’m sorry it’s been such a difficult journey. Please take heart that Jesus loves every single one.

  • Dan, you stated this very well and provided a clearer understanding. Thank you so much!

  • Dear Chi, I hear your heart on this. It is a layered issue to be sure, with no simple or one-size answer. This TED talk was eye-opening for me, just to show that it’s not so simple as we think. http://new.ted.com/talks/alice_dreger_is_anatomy_destiny. I encourage you to seek out PFLAG for other parents facing this issue. It will help you greatly to be able to talk to those who have looked at this from every angle too. Best to you on this unique journey.

  • You’ve got your focus right, my friend. Best to you through it all.