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From Despair to Hope for the Church: Gary’s Story

As part of Equip’s “More Than (just) True” campaign, we’re sharing the stories of LGBT+ people and loved ones about their search for God’s good and beautiful. Check out this reflection from Gary, a Licensed Marriage And Family Therapist and gay man happily married to his wife.

I was in my 50’s before I ever heard a pastor say, “Being attracted to a person of the same sex is not sin, it is what you do with that attraction.”

That was like a breath of fresh air because the only thing I ever heard about my attractions was that they were sinful, and, by default, I was a horrible sinner. I had attended church all my life, and I had been led to believe that just experiencing same sex attraction made me unacceptable to God and unacceptable among the people of God. I had shared about my same sex attractions with pastors and other trusted people in the churches I attended. They all responded well in the moment. They offered assistance, accountability, and to walk with me through the struggle, but after our initial conversation we never spoke about it again.

They never asked me how I was doing, asked how they could pray for me, or even inquired about my journey and how difficult it must be to be dealing with something most local churches do not want to talk about. Not only not talk about, but seemingly put their collective heads in the sand and hope all the LGBT+ issues will just go away.

One pastor of a 600-person congregation told me, “We don’t have that problem here.”

It hurts to be thought of as a problem for the Church simply because I happen to deal with something I never asked for, I never signed up for, and I certainly never raised my hand and said, “Pick me, pick me!” for. It hurts to share a secret with someone only to be ignored. It makes one feel rejected, dirty, and broken when someone cannot even muster the courage to bring up the issue with you again. All of this leads to a very lonely existence within the Church.

I think we–people who experience same-sex attractions–long to be known, accepted and valued by fellow believers, but how do we do that when the Church seems to push all things LGBT+ related away? It seems that same-sex attraction is rarely mentioned in most churches unless it is to tell the congregation that “homosexuality is a sin.” I still hear Christian men make fun of gay people. I hear disgust in their voices when they talk about transgender people.

Imagine being a young junior high student just realizing that you are attracted to members of the same sex. Who would you go to? Maybe if you had enough courage you would go to the pastor, yet the only thing you have ever heard from the pastor is how horrible homosexuality is and how God does not like homosexuals. Would you go to your parents and face possible rejection? Would you go to your friends in youth group? Where is the safe place to talk about these issues in the Church?

Sadly, from my perspective, there is no safe place in the Church.

The very institution Jesus left on earth to be His hands and feet just does not seem capable of addressing these issues in a way that embodies Christ’s beauty and goodness. The Church teaches that we must speak truth and love, and it does a great job of speaking truth but falls short of love, especially when it comes to LGBT+ issues. Starved of the love of Jesus, too many LGBT+ people are robbed of the goodness and beauty of knowing Jesus.

For years, I didn’t have much hope for the Church. Then I got connected with Equip.

I learned more about how the team teaches churches how to respond in love to those who experience same-sex attraction or gender incongruence. I saw how they seek to teach parents how to respond in love to their children who come out. Equip helps churches understand and respond in loving ways to all sexual and gender minorities.

Many pastors may believe that “we don’t have that problem here,” but they must begin to realize that there are people sitting in front of them every Sunday who do experience same-sex attraction or gender incongruence. These are sheep of the fold who need love, understanding, care, and hope. Today I’m hopeful, knowing that Equip is helping pastors and churches convey that message to those in the church who struggle to be known and accepted and who wonder if the gospel could be more than just true for them.

Discover Equip’s vision for LGBT+ Christian thriving, read the stories of communities leading the way, and give today to help more churches offer LGBT+ people something more than just true at

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