“Go Straight – Go Straight” said my (homophobic?) GPS

As I was driving the other day to pet/house sit for my new clients Arlene and Patti. I was in deep thought on how God is / has been moving in my ministry. My new house sitting clients are a lesbian couple I recently met through a mutual acquaintance and my ministry is about bridging the gaps betweeen the conservative Christian church and the Gay community.  As I thought about the importance of building relationships in order to share the Love of Christ Jesus, suddenly my GPS, a Tom-Tom, brought me out of this deep thought, which is not the greatest thing to be doing while driving mind you!

“GO STRAIGHT! GO STRAIGHT!” the female voice coming from the GPS said to me.

I cracked up laughing as I could not help but remember how back in 1978 I would not have taken so kindly to this command. “Go straight indeed” is what I probably would have replied to this GPS unit. I probably would have thought: “How could they even program this machine to say something like that, how insensitive!” There is a good chance this would have set me off to writing a letter to the company who manufactures the GPS or perhaps even calling them to give them a piece of my mind.

You see from 1978 to 1995 I identified myself as a lesbian, a self-proclaimed ‘butch’.

Also I know I would have found a different voice who said “Go Straight” in a more politically correct way, though I do not know if that was an issue back in the late 70’s. Was it? I probably would have switched my GPS to the Australian Air Traffic Controller who would say in his cute accent: “Proceed forward at your discretion” The Australian’s voice is very calming and gentle and does not use the word “Straight” It would have made me more comfortable and less reactive.

Of course as far as I know there were no GPS devices back then but one thing for sure I can see that I have not really changed that much. When something upsets me I usually take immediate action, when I see or hear something that I think is an injustice I will react. Though I do not see this GPS as intentionally meaning to be offensive, it was just doing what it was programmed to do.

I could go in several directions here and for some of you, well I would imagine you already see what I am meaning but for those of you who do not see it let me unpack this just a bit further.

Back in 1978 gay folks, and as I wrote above,  I was one of them, would speak in code or double talk or between the lines, however you might want to word it. I was in the United States Air Force and although I was quite a bold lesbian airman i would cautiously have said to a person giving me direction that I would prefer to go forward rather than proceed straight. If the person was gay they would give me a smile and tell me they liked my wording better and then we both would know the other was gay.

All of this is merely a reminder to myself that all of us might want to consider the words we use in speaking to those who are not of our same mind set.

I can remember being a new Christan, my mentor, Ruth, slid into the seat next to me. As she did I was shocked at the words out of her mouth:  “S.O.B.!”  “Ruth” I said, “Why are you using that kind of language?” I had her full attention, she smiled and asked what I meant. I told her that when I heard someone say “S.O.B.!” I automactically thought she meant “Son of a Bitch” (please excuse my language) Again, she smiled, her eyes so wide and kind, “Charlene” Ruth said, “When I exclaim ‘S.O.B.’ I mean ‘Scoot Over Baby”

As I communicate today in my blogs and on facebook and twitter I am always asking folks to “define” their words for me. I do not want to assume a person is saying one thing when they mean something totally different.

Let us not allow misperceptions of what people mean by the words they use to cause us to get mad at each other and call each other hurtful names. Hurtful in that there is separation and conversations stop. You see the language and the words we use today hold even more power than they have in the past.

So let us not call my GPS “homophobic” when it is not.

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Charlene? Why Do You Identify Yourself As “Ex-Gay” ?

You would imagine that I receive a ton of questions in my line of ministry and one of them is this question. Charlene? Why do you call yourself “‘ex-gay”‘?  Should you not identify yourself as a “Christian”?

Know that I personally do not like the title or label  of  “ex-gay” yet I use it for one reason and one reason only.  That reason is because calling or identifying myself as “ex-gay” is a great witnessing tool. “Ex-gay” is a term that is quite easily understood. Well, at least at first. It is also a term that brings up many questions such as aren’t people born gay? How could you be “ex-gay” if you are born that way. You see what a great little witnessing tool it can be?

The other night I was blessed to be on a panel of  “overcomers”. There were four of us “overcomers” who had come out of the homosexual lifestyle. We were attending a group meeting of Christian parents whose children identify themselves as lesbians or gays. While I personally like the label “overcomer” know that at the same time I realize that it was through my personal relationship with Christ Jesus that I now can be labeled an “overcomer”.  Jesus really gets all the praise here!  Without the healing power and strength of Jesus I would still be a prisioner to the sin of homosexuality believing that I was born that way.

My identity is in God, in Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit. I am God’s child whom He loves so much that He gave up His Son, Jesus Christ, to die in my place, to forgive me of my sins, to make me into a “New Creation”. The Holy Spirit convicted me that homosexuality was not something I was born with but something I had got lost in and must repent of it.  I did repent of it, God forgave me of it, Jesus’ blood washed me clean of it. Praise God for healing me of  it.

My identity is no longer in what I once was but is now in who I am through the healing power of Jesus Christ!

Witnessing To A Gay Friend

In today’s day and age of gay equality rights and in a culture that is affirming of homosexuality, most of us know someone who identifies themselves as gay or lesbian.  This person may be your closest friend or perhaps a neighbor or co-worker. One question that is often asked of those whose ministry is to work with the issue of homosexuality is, “How do I witness to the gays and lesbians that are in my day to day life?” The answer here is quite simple: You witness to the gay or lesbian in your life the same way you would witness to anyone else in your life. You witness by sharing God’s truth, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 Here are some thoughts to consider:                            

  • See beyond their self-labeling of “homosexual.” See this person as your friend, be they woman or man, who, just like you, has fears, hopes, and needs.
  • Be willing to listen to your friend. Let them see that you are not going to be like all the other “Christians” they have encountered who have deeply wounded them.
  • Since there is no hope for your friend to come out of homosexuality without the power of God in their life, introduce them to Jesus Christ, not heterosexuality! It is through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit that the healing begins.
  • Remember that you can not argue your friend out of their homosexuality.
  • Once the discussion starts on their homosexuality remember that you do not have to be an expert on the subject matter. If you do not know an answer say so, then tell them you will come back with an answer; then do it.
  • Be as gentle and loving as you would want to be treated.
  • Allow God’s love to shine and work through you, and be patient.
  • Change will come!                                                                                            

 Charlene Hios is a licensed minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She is also the founder and president of Bridging The Gaps Ministries which provides direction both corporately and individually to those affected by unwanted homosexuality.  

Charlene can be contacted through Bridging The Gaps Ministries.

Phone:  415.465.0517

Email:  Charlene@BridgingTheGapsMinistries.org

Check out Charlene’s free access on-line book here at the Earthen Vessel Journal. (Go to search website and type in the name “Hios” to bring up the free chapters)

Follow Charlene as she shares with us her life-changing experience out of homosexuality.

Lesbian No More:  One Woman’s Life Changing Experience

Buy Charlene’s DVD–a discussion with Kent Philpott:
Homosexuality from a Christian Perspective

Pride Parade SF 2006

Back in June of 2006 I was a student at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. I was drawn to experience the gay pride parade of San Francisco from the perspective of one who was no longer a lesbian. I also wanted to interact with the parade participants, to get a feel for what their thoughts were on some issues.

A good friend of mine at the time, Tanja Guerrero, went with me. I also made sure I told the dean of students of my plans to attend the parade and what my reasons for doing so actually were. This way if I should some how get on the news or was spotted by protestors I might know, they would not have the wrong idea.

Let me stop for a moment and say that I am not a big fan of the signs protestors hold up at the pride parades. Unless a person knows Scripture, they are not going to know what is meant with a sign which reads : Romans 1:26-27, Lev 18:20 . . .  you get the picture. If a sign is used that reads: God Created Adam and Eve Not Adam and Steve, well that just appears hateful and mean. If I ever personally see a sign that reads “God Hates Fags”  I promise you I will tear it out of the hands of the holder. I promise you! Yes, I will probally go to jail for inciting a riot. That is okay.

If you are to hold up any sign at a pride parade it should read:  God LOVES You and I Do Too! This will certainly provide a loving response, and it may also get some much needed conversation. It will certainly make the gay and lesbian reader curious.

Okay, back to my main thought here!

Tanja and I went to the staging area of the parade where we, in prayer, asked God for some divine appointments. We were blessed to have six of them. Here is what I did with Tanja there for prayer support.

At God’s prompting we walked up to six different people over the course of an hour. We did a cold interview with one woman, one man, a male couple, and a female couple pushing a bicycle built for two which sported a cute sign on the front which read “Dykes on Bikes Rejects” Smile. 

With my little Samsung digital DV camera in hand I asked each of the six these same three questions: 

“What type of spirituality did you grow up with, if any? What type of spirituality, if any, do you now practice? If you  could give a message to the Church, what would that message be?”

As I asked these questions and filmed their replies my heart broke as each of them shared their answers. I wanted to reach out to each of them and let them know how sorry I was for their experiences.  The first person was a vendor, a young man from Ireland. He was not gay, he was brought up in the church and he still attends church. The second person was a woman close to my age who I believe volunteered with such social issues as feeding the homeless and clothing them, the third and fourth people were the lesbian couple, one had her PhD and her girlfriend was a dancer, and finally, a gay couple,  one of whom would not be video taped.  All of them had been involved with the Church growning up. Only the vendor still attended church. The others expressed how the Church had hurt them and though they believed in God they now identified with other spiritualites such a Paganism.

What was their message to the Church you might be asking?

Interesting enough what made me cry was that although none of them knew each other,  these six divine appointments all seemed to have the same message. The lady who has her PhD said it best when she said: 

If ever there was an organization who has hurt more people, its the Church, they need to be more like Jesus!

Time and time again I have heard those in the LGBTQ community state this and I am torn. Being a former lesbian I still have a hard time with it but mainly because that was not my experience with the Church. I was blessed to have a loving and healing experience with the Church as a whole. I am told my experience is unique. But I do not believe this  to be so. The very fact that I experienced a church who was willing to accept me just as I was, a church who focused on telling me about Jesus and a church who did not focused on my personal sin, then one would think there are more experiences such as mine.

Either way, how do we, as the body of Christ Jesus, reach out to those who have felt pushed away by the Church. Usually when someone is hurt by the Church they want nothing to do with people who identify themselves as part of that organization.

I believe the answer is one on one relationships. Members of the Church need to reach out with the love of Jesus Christ to those in their lives who identify themselves as lesbian or gay. Invite them to lunch or for coffee. Maybe go shopping with them, or perhaps catch a game? Invite them over to your house for dinner or perhaps a barbeque. Eventually invite them to attend church with you and your family on a special day such as Easter or Christmas, or to a pagent put on by your church for such Holy Days.

Yes, there is always going to be that question asked of you by your lesbian or gay friend. “Do you think homosexuality is a sin?”  Or, “do you think I am going to hell because I am a lesbian or because I am gay?”

How do you answer these questions? I will be back in a day or so with some answers that may help you answer them. Until then, if you would like to post your thoughts on how to lovingly answer these questions, please do so!

Also I will be posting the raw video of these cold interviews soon.

Lesbian No More: One Woman’s Life-Changing Experience (Part 1)

http://www.earthenvesseljournal.com/archive/issue01/articles/Hios/Hios%2001.html

After twenty years as a lesbian, Charlene Hios was converted, left the gay life, and has developed an outreach to those who struggle with same sex attraction as well as being a consultant to churches who wish to reach out to the gay community. Her ministry is presented at http://www.BridgingTheGapsMinistries.org.

Here now is the introduction to her book, Lesbian No More:  One Woman’s Life-Changing Experience, and each month following the rest of the book will be serialized.

WHO ARE YOU TO SPEAK TO THIS MATTER?

An Interview

During my seminary years I had the opportunity to speak with a nationally known freelance journalist. Toni was going to do an article for the San Francisco Chronicle in which she would talk about Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. I was one of the students chosen by the school’s dean to be interviewed by the reporter.
When Toni and I met at a local library I began by sharing with her the purpose of my ministry, Bridging the Gaps. First on my list was to come alongside the Church and help them reach out to the homosexual population with the love of Christ Jesus rather than pushing them away with judgment, perceived or otherwise. The second purpose for the ministry was to reach out to those who struggle with their same sex attractions.
As Toni and I talked she seemed to be irritated. She stopped me at one point and asked,   “Who are you to speak to this matter?”

I was surprised, given my assumption that the dean would have shared some of my story with her. When asked about this she said the dean had not explained anything beyond telling her a bit about my ministry and providing my contact information.
So, I recounted to her that for almost twenty years of my life I lived and identified myself as a lesbian. And more specifically I was a self-avowed butch.  I also told Toni that I had had a life changing experience and over the course of several years had come to understand that I had been living a lie and that God had not made me a lesbian. I expressed clearly that I was convinced that I had not been born homosexual. Indeed, through the healing power of Christ Jesus, my eyes were opened to the fact that for those many years I had been living in a manner that was not what God intended, that I was, in fact, living a life of sin but believing there was nothing wrong with my life.

As Toni and I continued our conversation she seemed to relax somewhat as she understood that I had some authority to speak to the issue of homosexuality. Many publish their thoughts on the subject, but have not had the experience of actually living and breathing the life of a lesbian or gay person.  Toni could see such was not the case with me. And it was not as though my exit from the gay life was something quickly or easily done, but that I had struggled mightily in leaving that life and moving on into the life of a follower of Christ Jesus. Part of that following meant that I felt called to a work of helping others who struggle with same sex attraction.

A difference
Many books on homosexuality are written with males in mind. This book, however, focuses on the female homosexual.  In my research, I have found that lesbianism is often viewed differently than male homosexuality, to the point it is sometimes not considered to be sinful behavior at all.  Astonishingly, some writers will have no problem with female homosexuality; it is male homosexuality that is repulsive to them. To many, female homosexuality is merely interesting, even exciting or sensual—this largely coming from a male, heterosexual point of view.

By no means am I dismissing those efforts that speak more to male homosexuality, because they are tools to help us eventually understand what the core issues are.  Each person’s experience is unique to some degree, but male or female, there are similarities, so this book is really for all who struggle with homosexuality—in other words, same-sex attraction.

Words of encouragement and comfort
As a biblically-oriented Christian I have at my disposal a vast array of literature that has proven helpful to people who have confronted their same sex attraction. The apostle Paul, who possibly dealt with our issue (and it does not matter one way or the other, but there is nothing to indicate he did), nevertheless in his second letter to the Corinthian Church wrote of a God who comforts us in all our troubles so that the comforted ones may comfort others.

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.
(The Message Bible – 2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

A survey of the book
This book is written with four groups of people in mind:

  • Those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction.  Of considerable importance, these must know that having such attractions is not a sin. At first I did not understand this, and it caused me much confusion and discouragement.  Just because a person is sexually attracted to another of the same sex does not mean she or he is lesbian or gay. Additionally, it is only sinful behavior if the attraction is acted upon.
  • Those who have loved ones involved in homosexuality. There is always hope that there will be change. Since there are people like myself, and many of us actually, we learn to never give up on loved ones—we continue to trust God and pray. There is power in prayer. My older sister Joanne prayed for almost twenty years that my eyes would be open to the lie that I was born a lesbian. How thankful I am to my sister for her prayers and to all who prayed for me to come out of that life of lies. Remember, never give up, there is always hope.
  • Those in the Church who come in contact with homosexuality.  We can reach out to everyone with the love of Christ Jesus rather than push them away by judging and rejecting them. The perception that the gay community so often has of Christians is that they are doing harm and not good by not accepting homosexual behavior as normal and acceptable.  At the San Francisco Gay Pride parade in 2006, I captured this quote on my tape recorder: “If ever there was an organization that has hurt more people and pushed away more people, it is the church. Why don’t you just be more like Jesus?” And we can be more like Jesus all the while standing by the biblical truth that homosexual behavior is wrong. While he told the woman caught in adultery that he did not condemn her, he also told her to go and not repeat her sin.
  • The gay activist.  I have encountered more than my share of people in the gay community, through my blogging primarily, who question whether or not I have left lesbianism behind, and my guess is that they cannot bear to think that change away from homosexuality is possible. It is safe and comforting to think that the homosexual orientation is present at birth, built in or hard wired, genetically or in utero. These people like to tell me I am hurting myself by not living as God created me. The very ones who demand tolerance cannot seem to give it to someone who views things differently.  Indeed, former lesbians and gays must be a threat to the gay activist. If there are those who have come out of the homosexual life, then the “born gay” concept may not be actual. It seems to be a version of attacking the messenger rather than the message.

The content of this book comes from someone who lived the lie for almost twenty years.  I will speak openly, I will not hold my punches, and please know my words come straight from my heart.

Charlene Hios
December 1, 2009

How Does Same-Sex Marriage Affect The Prison System?

During Bible Study last night, my pastor made mention of this very question.

What does same-sex marriage look like in the prisons? Let’s take California for example. If indeed the federal courts allow same-sex marriages what happens when two inmates of say San Quentin fall in love and desire to express their love by marrying each other.

Hmmm?

What is involved here? Okay, first there is the need for someone to perform the marriage. Well, one would imagine there are plenty of prison chaplains at San Quentin. So will any of them be willing to perform the marriage? What if one or several of the chaplains say they will not perform the marriage because is goes against their Faith, against their Beliefs?

Will the prison chaplain be given an ultimatium? Officiate the marriage or resign your position?

Okay, what is next? Oh, housing? Where shall the new same-sex couple reside? Will they be allowed to be celled together? Will they demand privacy? What does this look like.

I am sure one could go on and on with the different scenarios.

What is your take on it?

Yes I Do Exist – Yes I Used To Be Gay – Yes Change Is Possible

Many times each day people will tell me I do not exist, that people can not come out of homosexuality. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone told me to celebrate the way God made me. “Charlene, God made you a lesbian, celebrate it . . . ” No folks, homosexuality is not innate . . .

Former Lesbian’s Thoughts On Homosexual Marriage

In 1978 I was engaged to be married to a great guy. During our engagement I realized I was not sexually attracted to men however I was sexually attracted to women. In 1987 I met the woman with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life . I asked her to marry me . In those days homosexual marriage was not in the thoughts of most folks and most certainly was not the craze it is of today.

Kathy and I loved each other deeply. Yet, both of us accepted the fact that marriage was the union of one man and one woman. Many of our friends were lesbians as well. Those who truly wanted a marriage ceremony had one. They just were not able to obtain an official marriage license. Instead they took the necessary legal action to ensure their wishes were respected. They drew up living wills and wills with the other as benefactor. All of their finances were tied together. They also obtain power of attorney for all legal matters. With the exception of being able to file their federal and state taxes jointly they had obtained the same legal rights that a heterosexual couple had with each other. On a side note, of all these lesbians couples of which I speak, only one of them are still together.

As I watch the celebrations in the streets of San Francisco I can understand their excitement. Many times I have pondered on what life would have been like if Kathy and I could have married. Would marriage vows have kept us from separating after living with each other for a few years. Would we both still be ‘in the life’ of a lesbian. You see both Kathy and I came out of that life. Kathy actually was bi-sexual. Now she identifies herself as straight (heterosexual). We are still friends and will speak to each other about twice a year.

In 1995 I accepted Christ Jesus into my life. Since that moment I no longer felt the emptiness of homosexuality. The Holy Spirit filled me with God’s love. The Holy Spirit also started convicting me that my life as a lesbian was not God’s intention, it was / is against God, it is sinful. It took me several years to come into agreement with God’s word on this matter. You see the grip of homosexuality is tight but not inescapable. For almost twenty years I was captive to homosexuality believing I was born that way. Many in the world believe homosexuality is innate. However that is a falsehood pushed strongly these past 30 odd years by the gay agenda and its activists. Change is possible. Thousands upon thousands have come out of that life.

Again, let me say that I still can relate to the homosexual person of today. Relate to those who desire to express their love for their same-sex lover. In a way it is honorable that a life long commitment wants to be made. However, marriage has been and should always be between a man and a woman. Only those of the opposite sex are able to join sexually and become one flesh. No other sexual union is capable of this miracle.

When those of the same-sex attempt to join together sexually, damage is often sustained to certain body parts. God has built-in consequences to those to whom go against His design, against His original creation. And here I speak not only of homosexual sex but many other kinds as well.

Click on the video below to watch a short 6 minute video I did with my pastor back in 2007. In it we discuss same-sex marriages and other legal issues that follow along with same-sex marriages.

Has The Church Sinned Against Lesbians, Ex-Lesbians, Gays, Ex-Gays, And If So How Has It Sinned Against Them?

This is an open question, open to all who want to answer. I invite answers from those who identify themselves as homosexuals who believe they have been sinned against by the Church. I invite answers from those who are in unity with the Church. I invite those who have come out of homosexuality to comment as well.
Here are some questions which I believe we as a Church need to considered: 
  • Have some churches not been welcoming to spiritually searching gays and lesbians?
  • Do we, as a church, think more along the lines that acting out on one’s same sex attractions is a worse sin than gossip and private idolatries which do run rampant in our churches?
  • Do some of our churches experience homophobia and or even hatred towards those who act out their same sex attractions?

Know that I am not saying that acting out on one’s same sex attractions sexually is not a sin.  The Bible specifically says it, homosexuality, is sinful.  And I do believe personally that yes it, homosexuality, is a sin.  I am merely asking if the Church is being sinful towards fellow sinners?

I believe that God instructs us to not judge the lost (those who have not accepted His Son Christ Jesus as their personal Savior) Judging the lost is actually one of God’s tasks. 

For those homosexuals who profess to be followers of Jesus, the Bible instructs us to rebuke them in and with love after we have examined our own sins first. I believe that even if, as individuals, we have not personally sinned against anyone who identifies themselves as a homosexual, we need to realize that we are in unity with the Church and because of this unity there are actually corporate sins in which we share.

And, again, even though I am not condoning homosexuality I do believe that in many instances the Church has indeed corporately sinned against many homosexuals. If you do believe the Church has sinned against those who sexually act out their same sex attractions what do you believe the Church should do with this matter, with this corporate sin?

Is Homosexuality Like Any Other Sin?

There are many sins, one of which is homosexuality. Is homosexuality just like any other branch on the tree of sin or is it it’s own tree!

Lately I am hearing a lot of people saying that homosexuality is no different than any other sin out there. Well, I would imagine that in God’s eyes that might be true (not that I know how God thinks mind you.) However I, personally, believe that it is a much different sin than others in that it is a sin that more than 1% of the world population has taken on as an identity. You do not see ‘thieves”, “liars”, etc asking for special rights. The other sins do not push themselves upon society and ask to be accepted, or rather should I say make it that it is forced upon us to accept it. So, with that said, allow me to think on this some more and I invite your thoughts . . . till then!