Conversion therapy is one of the primary ways many Christians struggling with same sex attractions attempt to change their undesired orientation. Had I been open and honest with my friends and family about my struggles earlier in life and began exploring the questions that have only recently presented themselves to me, I imagine I would have likely attempted conversion therapy or at least seriously considered it. However, my first real exposure to it was in college when I first saw the movie Saved. In the movie, the main character’s boy friend is found to be attracted to other men and sent to the fictional Mercy House where they “deal with all kinds of problems, like drug addiction and alcoholism to de-gayification and unwed mothers.” This farcical view of conversion therapy where the movie subtlety points out the humor of placing young men struggling with these issues in a private room together gave me a fairly negative view of this method. Not that I didn’t have the same end goal, but deep down, I really didn’t think that God would allow me to suffer this type of temptation only to have it to be removed by a 12 step program (here I may be showing my ignorance of the actual processes involved in this therapy as I must admit I am not familiar with the standard methods).
The more I prayed and begged God to remove these sinful desires, the more hopeless I became when it didn’t work. I thought maybe I just had to say the right words or ask in the right way with my body in the proper posture. I eventually became convinced by sermons given in my youth group that sin’s power over me would be broken by confessing my sins out loud to a brother in Christ. Due to my fear and self-loathing, it took years of agonizing over this thought before I was finally able to vocalize my struggles and, while this did significantly decrease my burden and relieve much of my loneliness, the desires remained as strong as ever. I began to realize that if it was in God’s plan for me to reorient myself to being attracted to women, it would happen in His time and that all I had to do was to devote myself to Him and live the best life I could. I began to identify with Paul and his “thorn in the flesh” which he prayed to be taken from him, but to no avail. While I would never try to make a case for Paul struggling with homosexuality, it is encouraging to imagine the possibility of such an inspirational biblical figure having once walked the path I now find myself on.
Instead of praying for God to remove these desires and take this cup from me, I now pray that His will would be manifest in my life and that I would follow the path He has planned for me, but that doesn’t stop me from slipping in the occasional prayer that, if it could maybe possibly fit into the plan, that I find a wife to grow old with.