Total Pageviews

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Gay Away the Pray!

As I strolled along London's Oxford Street one Summer in 1991, I turned into Poland Street and entered a bar specifically catering for gay men and women. Not long after buying myself a drink at the counter, two young men entered, obviously partners. The better-looking of the two caught my attention. Sporting a moustache, he was otherwise clean-shaven with long hair reaching past his shoulders. His partner, also with long hair, was fully bearded.



I approached their table and asked permission to sit with them and talk. The better looking fellow was not only willing to have my company, but also began to praise me for having such courage to approach a complete stranger to open a conversation. Shortly after, he came up with this question:
You are religious, aren't you? Into Christianity?

I gasped. How did he know? And that wasn't the first time that has happened either. I recall January 1980 whilst at a temporary job at a Reading warehouse. A female colleague who I hardly knew came up to me and affirmed that I was a Christian believer - before ever opening any conversation with her.

My new friend then went on about his involvement at his local church where his pastor was fully accepting of his lifestyle. In those days I couldn't accept any idea that this pastor, whoever he might be, was a true Christian, but one of many who just had a mere profession. Of course, I had absolutely no idea of the state of this minister's heart in relation to God. I just thought that by being friends with this person, who happens to be in a relationship with another of the same gender, has exposed this pastor to be a fake, a phoney.

This gentle, softly-spoken man must have developed a crushing fancy for me, even to the detriment of his partner, because a while later he began to ask whether I would like him to take me to his home. At this point he became more persuasive. At this I began to feel my skin crawl, as I realised that his home really meant his bedroom, and I politely turned down his offer. However, we were both clinched in a tight hug before I walked out of the bar.

I have wondered about this church minister, whoever he might be. From this time of writing, I'm going back more than a quarter of a century. Things might be different now. But who he was and where he was, he was a far cry from many of his contemporaries who preach condemnation towards homosexuals and making them the subjects of God's hatred. I wonder who is really the better representative of Jesus Christ? This unknown church minister somewhere in London, or the late Fred Phelps, the pastor of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, in the State of Kansas, who paraded the city streets with "God Hates Fags" placards. (Fags, short for Faggots, is a degrading nickname for an effeminate male homosexual.)



Fred Phelps was, of course, a representative of the extreme, the zenith of religious hatred and bigotry. But there is a general anti-gay sentiment in most churches. But their efforts to "pray away the gay" seemed to have been a disastrous failure among Christians who are homosexual or with gays seeking counselling altogether. One such advocate of "deliverance from homosexuality" is Franklin Graham, the son of the famous American evangelist Billy Graham. Franklin did not graduate in theology or in any spiritual or pastoral degrees. Instead, he graduated in business. But in his attempt to match his father's credibility, he latched on to the idea that any homosexual can be delivered from his orientation by "asking Jesus into his heart" and presto! The gay man becomes straight, that is, a "normal" hetero.

Such "successful" attempts to change one's orientation, according to what I have read, are extremely few and far between. Such rarity has made me question whether such "healing" can really be genuine. More likely that the "cured" person has married and even fathered children, and there seems to be some records of this, but his orientation is still present, although repressed. Sooner or later such arousal resurface when just the right set of circumstances were to occur, and I have read plenty of records of this too. That is why I tend to believe that the "cured" person is really bisexual, a term meaning to be attracted to both genders. This may be more of a case when it comes to having a fetish towards a particular part of the body, such as the thigh, the feet, or even the neck. Many years ago in the early 1970's, I recall an article published in The Sun national newspaper about four images of a man wearing a shirt.
The first pic was of him with his shirt fully buttoned up and wearing a tie.
The second was him without the tie and with just the top button of his shirt undone.
The third had him with the upper two shirt buttons undone.
The fourth showing him with his shirt totally unbuttoned.

A group of volunteers gave their verdict on their sexual arousal. It turned out that stimulation was strongest at the third image, meekly followed by the second. There was hardly any arousal with the first picture, and it also dropped significantly on the fourth. Gay forums on the Internet seemed to have backed this up. Under the heading Popular Fetishes, the open neck of the shirt was on the list, although not at the top of the chart. If this is true, then the bisexual, for example, could be aroused by the open-neck shirt of both man and woman, making possible for straight sex and fathering children. My point is: this praying away the gay looks to be nonsense, without any veritable evidence that it works.

The homosexual world does fascinate me. This fascination might have arisen from being bullied at school, and being accused of being homosexual in the classroom and the school playground. This accusation has reared itself over and over again throughout adult life. Yes, even right up to the present day, I actually had to answer a question asked by one of our present church elders, most likely motivated by hatred from a very English Pharisee who also attends our Sunday services. I told him that even if the Bible was to give consent to same-sex activity, I still wouldn't go for it, for the simple reason that such activity has no appeal whatsoever, as demonstrated by my refusal to go home with such a good looking fellow back in 1991. It has much more to do with personal lack of appeal rather than religious conviction.  

That said, before marriage, I tended to gravitate towards a gay bar in order to seek friendship of the "bromance" level. Bromance is a level of companionship without the sex. The friendship between David and Jonathan recorded in the Old Testament is a good example of bromance. And according to reading gay forums posted on the Internet, there is a considerable number of gay men who are also put off various same-sex activity, particularly anal-intercourse, but still have a preference of same-sex friendship over opposite sex relationships. As for myself, I believe that church attitude against excess showing of emotion was what made the gay bar attractive, especially in London, a city where I was able to remain anonymous. As for the church, according to my own experience, is generally very reserved, with emotion frowned upon, middle class, very heterosexual, and tend to be judgemental over those who don't fit the ideal English model.

Exactly like back in 1978. As the Summer of that year approached, a small number from the singles group were preparing to hire a narrow boat to ply the canals of the Broads of East Anglia for a week. The group consisted of both young men and women, each sharing cabins according to gender, and each contributing to the common purse. While the team was still in formation, I approached one of them with my share of the financial contribution. I was told flatly "No!"

I felt crushed as I wallowed in such rejection. But at least God was good to me, and I walked into a travel agent to book a flight across the Atlantic to New York, the start of a month-long backpacking trip across the States, taking in the Grand Canyon and California. But still the rejection had a long term effect. How much more intense would this be to the average homosexual?



No homosexual chooses such a way of life. Even psychologists admit that one can be born with a predisposition towards homosexuality, later developing towards full same-sex orientation. Although the ratio of the gay population to the straight population is only about 4%, the rate of suicide among gays can be as high as 40% - which is much higher than among heterosexuals. They are the ones who suffer social rejection and harassment - even falling victim of murder, family rejection, shame and embarrassment, loneliness, a want of a family of his own, church condemnation and a feeling of alienation from God, a fear of Hell disguised as scepticism, together with unfulfilled sexual desires, along with the threat of disease. Indeed, no child would have chosen this way of life if the alternate straight life was of easy choosing.

And so to see church leaders condemning gays - even if they don't necessarily practice the sex - driving them away from God and towards atheism. Their anger towards God can be so intense that it is impossible to turn their hearts towards him short of a miracle. And the negative spirit felt towards them is continued to be felt in the assembly. And that what makes this so wretchedly unfair. He feels alienated and condemned because of who he is, and not just what he might have done. A gay person walks into a church for the first time and he is ghosted by someone who, just by glancing, has decided that this person is evil and is to be avoided. Yet this same judgemental person may be a lover of money and tend to give in to greed as well as to nurture snobbish superiority. He may be standing next to someone with a history of adultery, but is looked upon as "one of those human weaknesses" and so far better tolerated. And there could be someone else who has suffered a divorce, or his son is divorced, and that's too is reasonably okay. Another standing in the church may have a constant affray with his next door neighbour, another wishes he could quietly poison his boss and secretly dispose of his body, yet still looks calm and collected while he is singing a hymn. Yet another cannot control his temper whilst driving his car. And not to pass over the young man who keeps glancing at a pretty lass standing by her husband.

The reality of human nature, whether in church or outside. Yet all can take comfort with the Biblical fact that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses against them (2 Corinthians 5:19). God's wrath was lifted from the whole world the day Jesus Christ died on the cross, and by his resurrection, eternal life is given to all believers, including homosexuals. God is no longer angry with us. If only a trace of anger remained, then nobody would be saved, as everyone of us have broken the Law, even by a minor stumble (James 2:10). If God is no longer angry with us, then we have no grounds for homophobia, whichever form it takes. No person has any right to shun a homosexual, or to refuse friendship. If God loves that person enough for Christ to die for him, then he is no worse than anyone else, for without Christ, we are all guilty of sin. That's why I find people like Franklin Graham, alongside with Fred Phelps of Topeka, Steven Anderson of Phoenix, and Roger Jimenes of Sacramento, to have taken a bad attitude towards gays, singling out their sin for special condemnation and to hold special prayers to "pray away the gay" in them without paying too much attention to these other "secret sins" lurking among their hearers. Then we wonder why gays are so hostile to the Gospel.

2 comments:

  1. Dear Frank,
    Even once we are saved, we continue to struggle with our sin nature. Each of us has a different "besetting" sin, as the author of Hebrews writes, by which we are most easily tempted. God does not rank sins as we do, for He finds all sin an abomination and a reason to keep us from Heaven. Yet once we are saved, the shed blood of Jesus washes away all our sins. We tend to judge others' sins while excusing our own, but it is not for us to judge, but to continue to preach His truth in love and to let His love flow through us to bless others.
    God bless you and Alex,
    Laurie

    ReplyDelete