Moving Out of Homosexuality: Two Men Share What Science Now Supports
The secular world is buzzing - recent study results now provide scientific evidence that "some gays can go straight if they really want to." The Associated Press reported last week that Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University, released study results indicating "a percentage of highly motivated gay people can change their sexual orientation."
"The research shows some people can change from gay to straight, and we ought to acknowledge that,'' said Spitzer May 9 in New Orleans, at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). He also plans to submit his work to a psychiatric journal for publication. It was Spitzer who spearheaded the APA's 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. At the time, he said homosexuality does not meet the criteria for a mental disorder, and he called for more research to determine whether some people can change their sexuality. Of course, this is not news to the growing number of Christian ministries that offer support to people who desire to move out of the homosexual lifestyle. Tomorrow we'll look at a few of those ministries. Today, two former homosexuals share their individual stories of struggle and transformation.
He Was "SSAD," Not Gay
After the news broke in the mainstream press last week, Richard Cohen found himself juggling secular media appearances. The founder and director of the International Healing Foundation is a nationally recognized sexual reorientation therapist. He is also Christian and a former homosexual.
Cohen doesn't use the word "gay" - he calls it the SSAD (Same Sex Attraction Disorder) lifestyle. How, when and why did he reach the place where he wanted to change? "I always had a dream as a kid," Cohen shares, "of wanting to be married and raising a family. Having the SSAD condition did not allow me to fulfill that dream."
He struggled enough to try psychotherapy: "I was in therapy trying to come out of this. At the same time, I had a lover for three years who was a believer. And I was Jewish. It was through him that I met Christ. And through reading the Word, we both got convicted that what we were doing was wrong. So we stopped our physical behavior, but unfortunately, the same-sex attractions continued. "
It took Cohen many years to figure out where the desires originated, and then find healing to really break free. He points to three factors that helped him change: The first was his faith, or really, "His faith in me."
Because Cohen had low self-esteem, he found that being loved by God for who he was, not what he did, was transformational. "As a Jew, I never understood about grace and forgiveness. That was a whole new reality for me, that I was forgiven and blessed, just for being His son."
The second factor was coming to grips with what created the same sex attractions in the first place. "I never chose it; I never asked for it," Cohen says. "Through prayer and the Holy Spirit, and through the help of other people, I came to understand the meaning of my same-sex attraction."
The final part of his recovery was the love he received from other people. "And I needed men to stand in the gap," Cohen continues, "because my dad was unable to give me the love that I needed. I needed men who loved God to stand for me as Jesus would and mentor me. And by grieving with them, I broke through."
As a child, Cohen was sexually abused by a man. So in the arms of a Christian brother, Cohen says, "the Holy Spirit came and sliced my heart open. I was relieved of the guilt and the shame and the pain of that experience. In that moment, my same-sex attractions were taken out of me."
That was 18 years ago. Cohen says he has not struggled with a same-sex attraction since. He is married with three children.
From Death to Life
It was the death of his 18-year-old brother that started Stephen Black, director of First Stone Ministries, on his journey out of homosexuality. The tragedy caused Black to think about eternity, but also led him down a confusing path.
"The priest who did my brother's funeral was a gay priest," says Black. "I contacted him to find out if it's OK to be gay and a follower of God." The priest responded, "Of course, God loves you anyhow."
Black says the priest's answer did not sit well with him. "I started getting really depressed and went through a really difficult time for about a year, experimenting with a girl who wanted to make me straight." That didn't work out either.
Finally, he met some people who were totally in love with Christ. "That encounter caused me to realize there was a whole lot more to knowing God than I had ever realized before."
The Lord seemed to nudge Black one particular night: "If you do not accept Me tonight, you are going to die." He did accept Christ, which was in February 1983. A few months later, newspapers started talking about something called GRID, later known as AIDS. More than half of the people that Black knew in the gay community are now dead. "I believe that if I had not totally surrendered my life to the Lord that night, I would be dead too."
Salvation didn't mean immediate transformation, but Black was open to change. The night he accepted Christ, Black asked God to show him where in the Bible it says homosexuality is a sin. "I didn't even know where it was but I prayed and He showed me. I was thumbing though Scripture and it just fell open to Leviticus 18:22, which says that man shall not lie with man as he does with woman."
When Black saw the verse, he was "just blown away." He was amazed it was really in the Bible. Then he found another verse a few chapters over. So that night, he knelt down beside his bed and told the Lord he didn't know how to change, "all I know is that I need you, and I need you to help me, and I am willing to do anything you want me to do."
That began his journey in earnest. "That first year was a really, really hard year. But I got involved with some people who really helped me, and had a great pastor who mentored me. It was a loving, godly church that really made a difference."
Black admits that moving out of homosexuality was the most difficult thing he has ever done, but it was well worth the pain. "My heavenly Father has given me a beautiful, merciful wife. We have been married now since May 25, 1986, and we have three beautiful children."
By Janet Chismar, Religion Today,
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Religion Today - May 14, 2001
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