The above photo showed up in my “memories” on Facebook from this day eight years ago. In the comments on this post, I state how I thought it was a great statement and how it applied to every believer dealing with whatever. When I read it all these years later, I am struck by how my views have drastically changed. How, now, I see manipulation and what I call “The Hook” sunk deep in the attendee’s psyche. Let’s break down Patrick Peyton’s (a pastor from Midland Texas) quote:
The objective is to grow up into a brand new identity…it is this brand new identity the Enemy is hell-bent on keeping you from discovering and growing in through the God-ordained, orchestrated, and masterfully planned seasons of growth intended to enforce who you are and grow you into who you are meant to be…not remind you of who you were.Patrick Peyton, 2012 Exodus International Conference Keynote
Other than being a run-on sentence, it sounds great, right? And at first glance, it is just another evangelical talking point that has been said a million different ways by a million different people from a million various pulpits. In reality, though, it is religious, cultural conditioning that keeps vulnerable LGBTQ+ people of faith on “the hook” in pursuing the false promise of “freedom from” homosexuality.
First of all, we are objectified into an as of yet unknown “brand new identity” that God and Satan (the Enemy) know about, but we are still trying to figure out. Funny thing though, we know what was expected of that “brand new identity” … acting like a heterosexual or remain celibate. It’s what the whole conference centered around. That said, it’s presented as this grand quest of ongoing epiphanies as to who our glorious selves are in Christ. We are supposed to believe that God has willfully chosen the good times and hard times, at appointed times (ordained) to “reveal” who we are meant to be… NOT remind us of who we were.
In other words, still, struggling with being gay? That’s just the Devil, and God is allowing you to fight (spiritual warfare) so you will grow. Don’t think about the past, don’t consider going back to being gay or the Devil wins, and you will never know who you are. The hook that strings us along is the idea that we will never fully be ourselves until we go Home to Heaven. All the while, our souls, our spirits, ache with the inward knowing that there is nothing demonic or needing to grow into with regard to being gay. We just are. But now, we are frightened as hell (literally) to embrace the truth that God created us the way we are and that is a good thing.
In truth, if there is a Satan, he won when he introduced this toxic strain of theology against LGBTQ+ people into the fold. Instead of worshipping the amazing Divine Creator and Their intent for us as LGBTQ+ people, as we are, we are enslaved by modern legalists into futile pursuits and unnecessary burdens.
Instead, I haven’t read Nouwen in a while, but something he said stood out to me as I was writing the above. This quote seems more accurate and applies to everyone who is of faith or not.
“A person’s past gives context for the present and hope for the future.”Henri Nouwen, Paraphrased from his book “The Wounded Healer” in describing the “Nuclear Man.”
I am now a big believer in self-actualization and spiritual growth. However, I have come to believe that the divine core of who we are is eternal, an ever-present state of now. So while we are learning and growing guided by Divine energy, The Holy Spirit, we have always been and will always be who we are. Being gay is just one part of the overall miracle known as you, as us. Our innate sense of self is not something that can be stolen from us or altered by us. We are who we are, and there is nothing wrong with embracing our past to give context to the present. There is nothing wrong with integrating our journey to date with our divine core to continue to blossom into the fullness of who the Divine created us to be.
I also believe in darkness or negative energy (you can call it Satan, bigotry, hatred… all the above or something else) that derives pleasure from keeping us (children of Light) in a state of learned helplessness. Systemic stigma wants to control through fear and keeps us on some futile hamster wheel of “If I could only learn my lesson!?” It does not want to embrace the truth that being LGBTQ+ is a gift, not a curse.
Go ahead, let go of chasing the wind. You are who you are and you are beautiful.
LGBTQ+ people have nothing to be ashamed of from their past. Good or bad, it gives us an honest context for who we are today. Our hope is not in false promises or reworded platitudes. Our hope is in the truth that we are children of the Divine (or the greater good if you prefer) who continue to walk forward with our heads up, shoulders back, stable, joyful, and with clear vision.