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22 - Coming Out Ministries: Sexual Identity & Adventism

Ronald Woolsey Wayne Blakely Michael Carducci Danielle Harrison Esther Louw

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Christianity hasn’t historically talked about same-sex attraction much. But in this generation, same-sex attraction has become a much more public issue. Perhaps you’ve got questions related to a gay family member, friend, or yourself. How does being an Adventist impact sexual identity? How can you reach out to a friend who is struggling in this area or bring your own struggle to Jesus? In this episode of the GYC Beyond Podcast Esther Louw and members of Coming Out Ministries unravel some of these sensitive questions in an open and honest dialogue.

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  • December 16, 2018
    12:00 PM

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Christianity hasn't historically talked about same sex attraction much but in this generation same sex attraction has become a much more public issue perhaps you've got questions related to a gay family member a friend or a self how does being an Adventist impact sexual identity how can you reach out to a friend who is struggling in this area or bring your own struggle to Jesus Hi this is Esther the in this episode at the beyond pod cast members of coming up ministries unravel some of these sensitive questions in an open and honest dialogue. Hi welcome to the rest of my class and thank you so much for being here and today we have coming out ministries I have more than one of you here so each of you could just quickly share you know your name and a brief testimony of why your party. Sorry Ron OK I am rather was a guy a pastor in Arkansas Louisiana conference I came out of the gay life 27 years ago it was the something I have in this message that brought me out I studied the Bible and the spirit of prophecy and found all of the answers to questions I have had all of my life there is truly power in God's word transforming power and that's what brought me out I was launched into ministry the very night I was baptized and that's been 27 years ago we form coming out ministries about 8 years ago now and do the order just to goes around the world with our message of victory over sim because this is a sin issue and God's remedy for soon. Is God's remedy for the gay issue. Yeah my name is Danielle Harrison. My experience with same sex attraction started early for me I was about 6 years old when my parents separated because they were struggling in their marriage and I moved in down the street from a girl who was being sexually abused so she was sharing that knowledge with me through consensual experimentation I started having these sexual experiences with her at a very young age so this would of course create an addictive drive in myself for sexual sin and also create a lot of confusion so growing up into my teens and trying to navigate through that challenging time of understanding my my own sexuality I really just embraced it and it was very easy to do sell moving to Washington state where it celebrated and rather much expressed so that was through my teeny errors I really didn't put back in being who I thought I was entitled to be and just who I thought that I was self for and became just a natural thing and a very accepted among that community which felt like home. For me which was really a safe place because I didn't feel like I had home being that my own home dissolved when I was very young and it wasn't until I was invited to and I've been to health institution with my sister that I really saw who Christ was I had had this idea that Christianity was either of the SOB that you hide behind or a checklist that you mark off and I didn't think that I could just do my devotions and say Chuck I'm not a lesbian. But I recognize that it was more about meeting God in a single as a base and saying Lord I need you to come here and meet with me and talk with me and developing that personal relationship I saw all of the things that I was looking for in the face of Jesus Christ so my burden has to share this message because I know how challenging it is to navigate through those youthful years and struggle and some things we need we don't feel confident to talk to other people about awesome. Yeah Michael Carducci also conning member of coming out ministries we started off with 5 members what I came into a relationship with Christ at 40 years old after I had left for 20 years of being identified as homosexual I really had a lot of strong questions for God that I really demanded answers for and as I started to continue to do studies the Lord started to reveal different things that happen in my life that it wasn't just nature or nurture it was really a combination and I found that it makes a lot of references to hereditary and cultivated tendencies which the law really revealed that to me I had rejected my father as my gender role model before I was even conscious between the ages of $1.00 and $3.00 I was transgendered till I was 20 thinking that I was unacceptable as a male and that the only way that I would be accepted and loved by men was if I was female then when I came out at 20 years old after what I walked away from the administration I realized that masculinity was more valuable than femininity so by which stood up a little bit more I found that I got the love and affection that I needed from men but again it was off the wrong and as well so 20 years of that and up in sexual addiction addicted to pornography unfaithful in the 5 relationships that I had in 20 years that were about as long term as home a sexual relationship can last but as I came into a relationship with Christ I think for the 1st time as I started to experience the intimacy that he provided which was earth shattering for me I've never experienced anything like that for the 1st time I realized that that piece was better than any sexual encounter or relationship that I had ever experienced it was a tough road coming into that fullness of what God's expectation for my sexuality or identity was but as he was more faithful to me than I was to him he showed me that that I could trust him and he earned back my trust and eventually we started coming out ministries 8 years ago the desire of our messy. Which is really to let people know that they are loved by a merciful and forgiving God and that he he has room for us to come back. I love hearing your testimony to say really quickly and from each of you you all have a very personal reason to be part of this ministry I just mean aren't you going into some the question that we have what is it that coming up ministries actually does and I have heard of some people say millions of conversion therapy you know is that what you do or could you clarify we have a statement that we've put out about coming up ministries and conversion therapy though we do not participate in or believe in or practice conversion therapy we do believe that every person coming to Jesus seeking salvation from sin joyfully accepts or is looking for a conversion of the heart and so we acknowledge that homosexuality is a sin issue and we again we apply the remedy for sin looking for a conversion of the heart by beholding Jesus we've become changed into his image so that that's an area where we are very often falsely represented we are considered to be anti-gay we have if we were anti-gay we wouldn't be doing what we're doing and we're accused of being homophobic but if you have a phobic we would be too afraid to do it to do what we're doing so we're going to phrase we're not homophobic we're home or got picked on love and evil and therefore and a lot of Christ we have the compassion we were there and we know what it is like to be drowning in this sea of confusion and despair and addiction and we have a love and compassion for the same community that we once per dissipated him so it's in our GAAP a love that we are reaching out to the addressing the gauge not homophobic but Homo of the. OPIC you know the misunderstanding that I think with conversion therapy is we as a ministry recognise the the the ill treatment of conversion therapy that were done years ago that are now outlawed in many states and I think that for people trying to affirm their attractions and to to stray away from what God's word says about identity that they usually penned that honest you know it using of so that what I like not only what Ron said but another term is is it's a restoration you know it's not a conversion so much as it is a restoration of back to the original design that God had intended each one of us to be and I think also another issue with that conversion therapy argument is that conversion therapy is driven towards becoming Hatteras that you have but that really isn't our focus on our focus is creating a relationship with Jesus Christ with God And as we focus on hand we come in line with His Spirit and with his well then the peripheral issues in our lives the symptoms of our sinful are resolved so we acknowledge that that there can be changes in a person's life so we're quite his conversion therapist but our focus is just on Jesus it isn't on sexuality that we feel that those issues can be resolved in time and in different ways for different people there's a girl that says she has this kind of bumper sticker and says it's not gay to straight it's lost to save and that I think is a really beautiful son a suitable way to put it is my mention the word restoration and that is very powerful because we believe that the entire plan of salvation is about restoring us through what God meant for us to be in the 1st place that's beautiful OK so you've all kind of focusing on Christ right and for his restoration and transformation and the way that he wants do you believe that every single person who has some kind of sexual problem or struggle do you think that they will all experience a change that no Happened STROEBEL. I could address that we have real quickly too because people have come to me and said So are you never tempted that way anymore Elijah said listen I was baptized on February 7th 1902 Satan wasn't. I changed the direction of my life Satan didn't change his plan for my life but we know how to meet him through the Word of God and the tools that God has given us and so we know how to deal with temptation temptation is not sin we don't allow detention to define who we are because Jesus himself was tempted in all points like as we are how are we going to label him yet without sin. You know Jesus was also tempted until the very last moments of his life and who are we to think that you know we would be rid of temptation even while we're here on this planet also another good friend of ours says you know well would that be fair for God to take away my temptations but not take away yours and the devil knows how to tempt each one of us according to the things that we are our sinful nature is drawn to so again temptation does not equal sin and a lot of people misunderstand that if you're tempted that you haven't been reading. Yeah and that's one of the burdens that I think we all have in moving forward with this ministries not only to share our personal experiences but also to equip people with the things that we've learned and use the tools that we've learned to use in order to move through those moments where our temptation is so big in front of us that everything kind of borders out which is how to reconnect with Christ and to really persevered through the snowman's and find ourselves because we have got a 3 fold approach to this issue we're not through our testimonies we inspire and then we go beyond the inspiring beyond our testimonies because the Lord has given. The wealth of information because of our study but also because of our experience and so from inspiring we go to enlightening and educating the church and then as we grew up in the church those of us who did there were no resources there was no discussion there was no one to talk to so the Lord is now using us to create the very resources that we needed and so now we're equipping the church so we inspire in life and he quit the church OK and he just brought something up which is exactly where I want to go now he's mentioned some of you grew up in the church and their inner resources and I think for myself growing up in the church I never heard any of these things talked about and so every And I think sometimes he also had this idea that if you grew up in a church you didn't have that kind of STROEBEL. What would you say to a young person maybe they're a Bible worker maybe they're going to finish a whole life and yet they feel attraction to the same sex or maybe they're kind of a mixture going on in the confused how should they handle that should they decide to embrace that side of themselves and label themselves and come out should they just continue to try and force themselves to follow the path that everyone else is doing how should they relate to that you know the Bible says that our words have the power of life and death and whatsoever a man to give in his heart that so is so by embracing these attractions that according to the Bible are not according to God's will then what we do is by embracing them they again become our identities so that's why coming out ministries we do not identify ourselves as gay Christians or or homosexual Adventists whatever because why would we attach a sin temptation to the identity that we're walking in with Christ I love the story of Jacob wrestling with Jesus all night long and Jacob means liar and deceiver and after all night Jesus says you know what's your name and he said deceiver a liar and he said No your name is Israel meaning redeemed in the said I give you a new name before you demonstrate it he said but now walk in the new identity that I give you so again I think that we get a lot of you know grief because of that is like all you know you're still gay if you still have the attractions but again you know our identity now is in crises says that we are a new creature and that the old things have passed away so that's where I have really found the most conflict with a lot of pro gay ministries or people again what is our proper identity in Christ. You know everyone who's coming to Christ is having to deal with some issue having to let something go and having to be transformed. When there were conversion simply means change we have to change direction and when we are living a Christian life. We have to realize that there is always something that Satan is going to use to try to come between us and the Lord and we have to my policy is we have to die daily heterosexuals have just as much temptation as homosexuals do and as a Christian we put God 1st we submit to His Will trusting that his grace is sufficient for our struggles lust is lust whether it is for the opposite sex I have same gender it's still sin and we all have to surrender our of the lusts of the flesh to the Lord and put his will his desires his emotions his feelings ahead of our own so our struggle I really is not unlike anyone else's struggle. But it is it is being portrayed as something that is set in concrete they cannot be dealt with the God Himself cannot deal with it and that that is a message that God is impotent we say now he's an omnipotent that our sin is can be dealt with in the same way that any other sin issue can our temptations can be dealt with many the same way do you think that someone who is growing up in the church someone who might even be working for the church if they have these kind of struggles doesn't help for them to talk to somebody you recommend that. And who Khushi talk to you I think you have to be really careful Yeah that's what I would say to there are there are people who are going to support you and moving forward in Christ and there are others as we've discussed before that are just going to encourage you to embrace that part of yourself and so it is very important I think to find find someone that you see the fruits of the spirit manifest in their own walk in experience and really really wrestle to find someone who is going to encourage you in the right direction because sometimes people will come to someone looking for counsel and direction and instead it just this person wants to help them come out wants to help them settle into this and that can be more hurtful than it really is helpful and what about the opposite reaction wears you go to somebody else and they condemn you is that is that something to worry about as well. I think so yeah you can have someone being supportive in the wrong direction and you cannot stop selling is just going to make you focus on then make it aspects and that and that's not helpful either I mean as we were talking about the perseverance of the Christian experience if we're focusing so much on our feelings our thoughts no matter what those are as long as they are not in harmony with the will of God it's going to be something that harasses us and it's going to become a nightmare for us so we need to look to someone who's going to point us towards the solution point us towards moving past that and we really find that in the Word of God I have have clung to the promise that Christ wants to give us the way of escape from every temptation and so we need someone who is going to help us find that escape in those moments you brought up something awhile ago that I think really is needs attention because this is an accusation we hear all the time that or there are people that say just embrace yourself acknowledge who you are just you know grow up in yourself and be yourself and yet the Bible says we are to deny self and there are those that accuse us of really denying who we are we're living in denial I say Amen yes we are we are fallen human beings and to be a Christian means to deny yourself take up our cross and follow Jesus because if we just embrace who we are that means we embrace our fallen humanity that's not the plan of salvation I think it's I think it's really important to say though that that's not like a flip of a switch either own that it's not to be taken you know in a cavalier way that all you know I decided to deny my flesh and that was it because because we do know that what that struggle means and so when people are able to share are willing to you know it's not something that we chastise them about or flippantly just tell them all you know just don't act that. Way and I think that that's really important too that's what coming out ministries wants to provide and a lot of our our programs that we have recorded and have available as well as our documentary journey interrupted we talk about what that's like and and that transition and it's not an easy process but the victory is guaranteed to Christ how do you say you know it's a call to deny solve how do you actually do that without at the same time kind of just suppressing yourself I think fullerenes to verse 5 is powerful many times you know a temptation will come into my head a sexual and one of my going to do with that and I personally don't have the power to to withstand that temptation but Jesus says submitting to you know influence you were survive Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus meaning just give me permission and every time I've claimed that promise it works 100 percent asking for the mind of Christ and then my thoughts change and James tells us also submit yourself therefore to God resist the devil then he will flee from you it's a 3 step process and if we try suppression on our own will fail we are always humans trying to combat supernatural temptation but the secret is submit ourselves to God as the divinity. And then resist the devil and we are told that when the will of man cooperates with the will of God It becomes omnipotent and that's because we are plugged in to develop it by submitting 1st to God and then resisting our own lives are about resisting temptation and what's the verse about renewing of the mind. Yes and Romans 12 we have to be transformed by the renewing of the mind and that also comes through you know reading the Word of God in accessing you know the power that is there in the Word of God and I think a lot of that really hinges on faith it's we're not going to make a lot of progress if we just don't believe that it's possible and we won't even ask for it from the water but that we turn to him and we say we're I don't just want to bury this I'm acknowledging to you because you already know what's there what I'm going through and Lord I just I need your help in this and you can just come make it beforehand and acknowledge what's going on and and he's going to help create that shift in in our paradigm we can't react we can't create ourselves so when we believe that he is able to do it that's when we will finally start to experience it he said that you have more resources to go deeper into this right that finitely Where can we get in touch with some of that well you can visit our website which is coming out Ministries dot org We also have a number of presentations that are available on audio verse awesome let's just kind of change focus a little bit now from the perspective of someone who might have friends who have these struggles and have come to you and they they want TALF or they just telling you what's going on how should I respond or how should they respond to their friend in a crisis loving way. They should be loving Be compassionate they should be good friends and you don't hit them over the head with the gate issue not from Jesus said Seek ye 1st the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added on to you so what we encourage people to do is to help someone develop an intimate relationship with the Lord I know in my case and I think it was true right with all of us through our study of God's Word we developed a relationship with the Lord long before we had the courage to step out and leave our relationships and start a new life I know that was the move it was true with me and I got to the point that I love the Lord more than I love my my life my gay live and my my relationship and I had to make a choice between the 2 men that I love and I chose who want to died for me rather than the one who just wanted to have an illicit relationship with me. Well and often I think we we feel it's our responsibility as well meaning brothers to show people what they're doing is wrong and convince them of that and illuminate that for them but a lot of the times people are there's an innate sense there's a restlessness inside a lot of the times for people the thing that's going to help them most is just have to be able to express what they've been going through what they've been thinking and wrestling with that they've been holding inside so listening just listening and not waiting for your turn to speak so that you can say what you want to say just just really actively listening to someone and giving them an ear that you that will listen can be so helpful for someone and also I think praying with them praying for that and especially praying for the Spirit to guide you as to when to step forward and when to step back when to speak when to be silent when to when together and when to take because it's a unique experience that every person has had that's a lie. That and the same sex attraction so it's going to be a unique experience for me to journey out of it so we have to be sensitive to the. Street a great example that we heard about a year ago a girl I've been studying with a gay male couple for 2 years and they had never talked about you know same sex attraction and what the Bible said and they love the Sabbath they accepted the state of the dead they were ready to move forward they're like you know why can't we get baptized and she was like. This said Well is it because we're gay and he said she said Would you like to know what the Bible says about that and they said Yeah sure and she said Well I haven't really studied it let me you know think about it or whatever study and they said Sure no problem but when she called Coming up ministries we really recommended that instead of her giving her own interpretation because the Holy Spirit had been moving and she established a relationship and she said that she didn't want to do anything that would hurt them or drive them away because she loved them because they've been studying for 2 years all of the foundational groundwork I believe had been set and she'd already won their confidence she'd be friended them they trusted her you know and she was meeting their needs by showing them Christ was so what she did is she opened up the Bible and she said instead of you accepting my interpretation about what the word says let's open it up together but it wasn't her 1st bible study it was the one she did 2 years after they started studying and when they came to each of those Bible verses talking about same sex attraction and homo sexual practice one of the gentleman his response always was oh my god then I go through another verse Oh my and so they're under conviction and the beautiful thing that that coming out ministries I think really represents is the power of choice and if somebody doesn't want to message we're not offended we're not here to drag them into our understanding kicking and screaming the idea is to give them the option of what the Bible represents and and to to show that through at least 3 examples we have many people that we work with now in the ministry is who. Well that have come out of same sex attraction and practiced and you know it's amazing to see all of these testimonies but again the sad news is that if we're slandered and if you know people are saying these things that we don't have a true experience then the idea is to drive them away from the option that we believe is the one that not only brings us into an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ but also authentically gives us an happiness. That's really like a shared sharing from the Bible not just your own perspective what do you do if you're if this person is coming to you is attracted to you and you want to help them how do you do that and helpful way. Well there's safeguards that you know with that we've learned that we need to implant and usually that's by going you know at least 2 people you know a minister in with some money and if it comes to our attention that somebody is attracted to one of us which is unlikely for me since I'm all but and if that were to happen again you would want to make sure the safeguards are in place to to protect them as well as to protect yourself and any other words of advice for someone who has another thing you just pops in the modern out of there it might be good to bring by the Says another person but divert that person to study to someone with someone where there is not that chemistry there is not that attraction so they still get the word of God and you are not a distraction their attraction to use not a distraction to them OK. Well that's because I really appreciate all the things that you kind of brought up tonight in this episode but I just want to ask is there one thing that if you had been younger you'd have loved someone to share with you. But with me. I grew up feeling rejected. And I believe my observation it's not an infallible observation that in my observation is that every gay person that I've ever observed and when you dig deep enough they have dealt with and maybe still are dealing with a perception a rejection and rejection drives you to where ever you can find acceptance and and resolve that and I feel that if I had had. A perception of acceptance by my father and the men in my life in my period it would have helped me it would have helped me embrace my masculinity and grow up fully accepting my manhood so that's a very big deal with me has this perception of rejection. You know I think that one of the this definitely swims against the tide of what is commonly stated in our world today but I think one of the most important things for us to remember is that what we feel and what we are what our thoughts are constantly returning to doesn't define who we are and Michael stressed identity earlier I think that someone Porton because once I settled into believing that I was just bisexual and that's who I was and telling all my friends and that's who I was it creates a great challenge in the future even if we feel conflicted to walk in a different direction it creates a challenge to do that because you create this sense of this is just who I am so it's hard to walk away from that so. I think we all have to struggle to place those repetitive thoughts in an area where we see them as objective and 2 we train our mind to meditate upon the things that are pure and holy family and true it's a struggle of that is a daily challenge I still have to manage without and maybe my sexuality isn't the thing that my mind is constantly from his time down but I have other things that I wrestle with so I think it's a journey so we have to remember that it's a process that sometimes takes time all right thank you I think for me definitely the issues of rejection but I think what I really battled with was I didn't think I was valuable enough and the rejection that experience from my when I rejected my father at a young age and just feeling like I could never be man enough to be you know approved by him and then the kids in school that teased me and ridiculed me so all I did is push even further away these feelings that I had value and I think that what would have been incredible is if I could have heard someone say that homosexuality could be redeemed and that you know even verse 8 of 2nd Christine chapter. 6 You know why wasn't anyone talking about that 1st because that would have given me hope Did you know that in a situation where child's been physically abused not only do they have physical scars but emotional scars to work through but a child has been a band then are neglected or ignored has the same emotional scars and so we've been living in an era where the church has either not talked about it because it was uncomfortable or maybe they didn't have the resources to know how to talk about it but even the fact that we refused to talk about sexual sin in the church and it's not limited to homosexuality I mean what about masturbation pornography premarital sex those are really the big issues that are going on and that hurts now but if we refuse to talk about it then more people like me feel like well like us on the only one the struggles with it and they end up being driven out of the church because of neglect. But thank you so much for just as short time with us to sharing from your perspective you know how to minister to your friends or how to go through that experience personally we think you just for being here and sharing and if you can remind us your website Yes it's coming out Ministries dot org That's coming up ministries that arc and you have resources on there that people can go through as well yet we have a shop there they can purchase we recommend that you watch our documentary it's only an hour long OK but it tells 5 amazing stories of redemption in Christ and the documentaries on the website journey in Iraq this dot com and very interested in combat and extreme a conversion Yeah simply reveals an extreme God. All right well thank you very much. We're so glad you were able to join us for this episode if you have questions comments or I'd like to find out more you can connect to see on Facebook and stick RAM or Twitter for more episodes of this podcast follow us on i Tunes or go to G I C bad dot au or G slash beyond we look forward to hearing from you.

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