Silence kills—secrets aren’t kept forever. There are some things you can say, and there are other things you can’t, especially inside the Church. We hear incredible stories of the drug addicts being set free, stories about preachers who fall into immorality but find forgiveness; there are stories of freedom from alcohol and everything imaginable. You’d think in today’s society there wouldn’t be many taboos inside the Church, but the sad reality is that there is. You can mention everything from pornography to masturbation to drug addiction and everything in between and find some sort of hope of forgiveness and acceptance from the Church (not acceptance that it’s okay, but acceptance that there is hope), BUT—and it’s a big but—there’s one word that turns people red in the face and shuts their mouths. It’s one of the sins usually listed “unforgivable” in churches today. I’m talking about homosexuality.
Already your mind is racing with a million thoughts. In the day and age in which we live, that single word evokes many thoughts, feelings and emotions. GAY. FAG. HOMO. SISSY. By the time I was seven, I had heard a good deal of those words spoken my direction and many more I don’t care to repeat. You know the old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? Well, as we all know, words can do much long-lasting damage.
I was the youngest child in my family—a momma’s boy at heart and not exactly into things that boys my age were. My dad and I had a very distant relationship—he left the ministry when I was 6 and from that point pretty much wasn’t very much a part of my life. My older brother went to college when I was in kindergarten. So the future wasn’t looking too promising. Without the male relationships I needed in my life, combined with an early exposure to homosexuality, my battle against homosexuality began.
I was very active at church, and in my heart I thought, The more I do, the more likely this will go away. It didn’t … it just got worse. In a place where you think you could talk to someone and be real with what was going on, the only feeling I got when I’d even think I could muster up the courage to talk about it was one of fear. What would people say? How would they react?
Growing up in youth group, you always deal with all the issues … the guys and girls split up, and the guys talk about the guy stuff, and girls talk about the girl stuff … we’ve all been there. What I was struggling with was different though. I wished I could look at a Playboy and struggle with that—at least I would be somewhat “normal.” How, as a kid in high school, do you go to your youth pastor and tell him you are struggling with homosexuality? Especially when he does a great “gay” impersonation, and everyone in your circle of friends jokes about it.
I kept quiet. I didn’t say a word, just thinking that at some time it would pass. I tried everything I knew to do—fasting, praying, reading the Bible—everything I thought I could do I did. I was desperate.
I moved out to the West Coast after high school to intern at a church. During my time out there, it got a lot worse. I was crying out for freedom, but still, if I were to say anything, I would be asked to leave—or worse. Who knew what would happen? Three days before I was scheduled to go home at the conclusion of my internship, I got found out. I was pretty good at covering up, but the Internet history told a wild tale. I was busted.
For the first time in 15 years, in the company of people who I loved, trusted and had been in ministry with for the past nine months, I talked about abuse that happened when I was younger; I told about my struggle with silence. I bore my soul and all of the pain of my silence. As difficult as that moment was, it was a moment that I had longed for such a long time. I felt freedom for the first time. The silence had been broken; there were no more secrets.
But instead of finding hope, I was told to box up everything I had and leave. I couldn’t leave, though—I didn’t have any money; my money for the trip back was coming when a friend was going to fly out to drive with me. I ended up spending my last three days alone in a $29.99/night motel on the south side of town, surrounded by barbed wire, with only $15 to my name.
My story, sadly, is not uncommon; in fact, mine is probably really a lot less traumatic than that of others who have struggled with homosexuality and confessed it. The Church has done our generation an injustice. Casualties are everywhere. I bet a few names even come to your mind right now of people you know of.
Sin is sin, and it separates us from the relationship that God intends each one of us to have with Him. Sexual sins are different in that they affect the body, but regardless, all sin is forgivable, and no sin is too great that God cannot forgive. We’ve classified sins and said that this is okay and that is not. But in God’s eyes, it’s black and white—and regardless of what we’ve done, He offers us hope and forgiveness.
The night before my friend was going to fly out to drive back with me, I happened upon a church. My heart was broken, I was hurting, and honestly, church was one of the last places I wanted to be. Someone in the service got up and began talking about a vision that they had—of someone who had been living in silence. They went on to say that God had brought it to the light, the silence had been broken, God was not through with me, and the very best was yet to come. This person said, “You are beginning a journey—this isn’t the end; it’s just the beginning. While your physical journey may end soon, God is embarking you on a spiritual journey, one back to the fullness that He desires for you to live in, a place you haven’t been because of your silence.”
It’s been over a year since that fateful day, and while I did make it back home, the spiritual journey is still ongoing. Like all sin, you’ll never get rid of it overnight—it’s a process, and mine has been a journey of healing from the emotional scars of childhood and embracing the future that God has for me. There is hope. There is freedom. Freedom is found in breaking the silence.
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