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?
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.
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.
December 1, 2009