Growing up, I was convinced that I could not be good at sports and sheepishly backed away from any activity that required athletic skill. I remember one spring afternoon my teacher insisted that I join the rest of the class in our regular game of softball. I was always picked last to play on a team, but my teacher made sure I was in the batting rotation. When I reluctantly stepped to the plate and swung at the ball, I missed and presumed that the next two pitches would go the same way as they always had. To my shock and the surprise of everyone else, I swung, hit the ball, and made a home run! From that day on, I was convinced that change is indeed possible. Even now as an adult, I believe that our scriptures encourage us to change and grow to be more like Jesus - loving, generous, truthful, and merciful.
But some things about us do not change.
But there are some things about us that God doesn’t want to change - because God made us who we are, in our “innermost being,” as the Psalmist says. And God made us for good, all created in God’s image and likeness. It is from this place that we do the difficult and nuanced work of figuring out what in us must change because it’s not like God and what is absolutely a reflection of the divine working within us.
This process is often messy, particularly when it comes to the topic of human sexuality.
There are some who believe that who we are in our innermost being, how we identify, or who we’re attracted to, is something that can be changed because of a prayer we pray or a therapy program we participate in.
There are some who believe we are supposed to “pray the gay away.”
However, there simply isn’t strong evidence that God frequently or regularly changes one's sexual orientation or gender identity. What we do have, backed by countless stories, professional opinions of both clergy and clinicians, and by research data, is a strong understanding that efforts to change one's sexual orientation or gender identity do, in fact, have harmful outcomes on the individuals who pursue these efforts.
In recent months, a new effort to tell an old myth -- that sexual orientation and gender identity change is possible -- has surfaced. And while the people involved often are simply sharing from their own understanding and likely have the best of intentions, the movement that they have created is indeed a dangerous one. This is so consistently true that several states, including my own, Illinois, have moved to outlaw conversion therapy and more states are in the process of passing similar laws as well. The reasons for this are numerous but the glaring omission of many “change is possible” efforts is that they don’t talk about the reality that the vast majority (75-99% by some estimates) never experience the promised change. What institution, business, or individual would you willingly give your money and time to with such a dismal success rate and misleading proposition?
Like all Christians, the lives of LGBTQ+ people do indeed include stories of transformative change - changes that come from the work of the Holy Spirit in us. We make personal sacrifices and conform our lives in ways that are often overlooked by the church at large. At Q Christian Fellowship, we believe that there is a unique value that exists in the lives and experiences of LGBTQ+ Christians and that the body of Christ is incomplete without us. We have perspectives about relating to God, friendship, commitment, and love that can enhance the faith journeys of all Christians of every orientation -- married, single, or celibate.
To cut off this part of the body is a loss to all of us.
The stories in this collection from Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and other Christians, along with their allies, include powerful testimonies of growth and change that God through the Holy Spirit has been authoring in their lives. Unchanged also celebrates the God who loves each of them as they are, the amazing and wonderful creations of One who makes all things good.
It also celebrates the God who loves each of them as they are, Unchanged, the amazing and wonderful creations of the One who makes all things good.