Pastor Danny Cortez
I pastored Southern Baptist churches for about 20 years. For most of that time, whenever someone confided in me that they were gay or lesbian, our church policy was to recommend conversion therapy. At the time, we believed that change in someone’s orientation was possible. However, as the years past, it became evident that calling them to change wasn’t helping. In fact, it was quite the opposite. People were falling into hopelessness, despair and self hate. There began this internal conflict I had in prescribing something that was in effect, harmful. I knew something was wrong but I had always been told that the Bible was clear. However, there were two passages of Scripture that kept standing out. The first was in Matthew 7 where Jesus says, “Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” The second one was in Romans 14, where Paul writes, “Love does no harm.” As I sought to hear more intently the stories of LGBTQ christians, it became evident that telling them they needed to change was causing harm. And as a church leaders, we were the one’s in sin. We were breaking the great commandment! Through an extended period of discernment, I saw that Jesus’ and Paul’s words spoke directly to the harmful belief of making people think that they can change. I came to a place where I disavowed the practice of conversion therapy and my belief that being gay, lesbian or bisexual was a sin.
Soon afterwards, my 15 year old son discovered that I had experienced this change of belief. It was then, that finally felt I was safe. In August of 2013 he told me that he was gay. I was stunned. I couldn’t help but think that God had brought me through my personal journey to prepare me for this. I told my son that he didn’t need to change and that I loved him just the way he was. As those words came from my mouth, I remember thinking that this was the first time speaking to a gay person where I was actually able to extend unconditional love. My son wasn’t someone that needed to be fixed. I was actually giving words of life to my son. And honestly, there was a part of me that thought, “If I didn’t change my mind, I could have destroyed my son by sending him to conversion therapy.” But it also grieved me that I had participated in the oppression of LGBTQ people in my community for so many years. I began a process of repentance in seeking the forgiveness of those that I had personally harmed. My hope now is that every LGBTQ person would never be given the burdensome message that God didn’t love them just as they are. And I am glad to say that my gay son is in a better place than ever before. He’s no longer wearing a mask. He is able to share who he truly is—a beautiful man worthy of love.