What is faith? The Oxford Dictionary defines faith firstly as “complete trust or confidence in someone or something” and secondly as “strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.”
As a Christian I have a faith in God, and for me, that faith is a complete trust and confidence in Him and in what His word teaches me. And my faith is fully based on spiritual conviction, a conviction which I received six years ago which empowered me to turn my back on my past life and start afresh, completely trusting that God was going to lead me into a life that would be more meaningful and rewarding than the life I had been living. And I suppose you could say that the conviction I received from God was my “conversion” experience.
My testimony is well documented, I have written a book and there are some videos already present on the internet, so it will come as no surprise when I say that my conversion came solely from the Lord. There was no church or no person who told me what I had to do, no one who preached that I was going to hell because of my sexual orientation, no one who told me I had to change. My conversion was as simple as meeting with God, seeking a relationship with him and allowing him full access to my life.
You might ask what full access meant, quite literally for me it was giving permission to God to look at every aspect of my life and show me where things could be better, what was I doing that didn’t fit in with his best for me and how could I address those areas. Trust me, there was a lot to be sifted through, but God isn’t oppressive, he doesn’t expect us to be perfect overnight. We come to him as we are and he works in our lives gradually, addressing issues in his timing, giving us grace to work through the nitty gritty and the messes of our own lives.
If anyone is serious about surrender and allowing God full access to their lives, they don’t have to get cleaned up before they become a Christian. Of course not, otherwise not one of us would ever be “cleaned up” enough to come into God’s family. But I do believe that each one who makes a commitment has to be intentional about truly seeking out what God says about our lives with a preparedness to make changes in line with God’s word.
So why do I write this? With all the press coverage over conversion therapy I suppose my first intention is to show that people change their sexual orientation without outside intervention. I personally changed from gay to straight of my own free will (and was happy to fill out my 2021 census form this week and for the first time in my life tick the heterosexual box!) We surely cannot be so blinkered as a society to suggest that it is impossible for people to change, nor to suggest that those who have changed have been coerced in some way. In fact I would go so far as to say that conversion therapy in any form, would not work because the only conversion possible is through a personal conviction from God. I don’t believe in conversion therapy, but I do believe in God’s ability to transform any sinner to become a saint. I do fear that those pursuing a ban on conversion therapy have got very muddled over the difference between practices that are clearly coercive and wrong and practices that are good and needed such as pastoral care, supportive prayer, peer support groups and the ability of a Pastor to honestly share the word of God without being subjected to the cancel culture which is so prevalent today.
And what do I say to others, who like me, experience same sex attraction and want to pursue a relationship with God? My answer to them is, what’s stopping you? If you truly want to pursue a relationship with God then do exactly that, bring your questions and your concerns to him, come to Him with an open heart and mind, with a commitment to pursuing him with all your heart and wait to see what he says to you as you pursue your faith.
Sounds simple, and it is (although painful and hard work at times). God has helped me work through self-harm, bulimia, sexual sin, judgmental attitudes, selfishness, un-forgiveness, greed and materialism and I’m sure there’s still more areas to address. But I never want to say to God, don’t go there, or I don’t want to surrender that part of my life to you, because that’s not what Christianity is all about, it’s not what I signed up to.
Doesn’t it simply boil down to our mind-set? I go back to the definition of faith at the start of this blog. Do we come to Jesus with “complete trust and confidence”, trusting that if we follow his advice and ways our lives will be enhanced, or do we come to Jesus looking for proof or evidence that he really wants us to change and put up barriers which inevitably lead us to walk a different path from the one he asks us to walk?
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Matthew 7:13 NKJV