Our stories are powerful. YOB exists with its popularity today because we share our stories. Jesus, the Great Teacher, told stories to the masses during His earthly ministry.
There’s an old hymn that says: Tell me the story of Jesus . . .
Stories have power, and people love them for it.
As such, that power can misused. The power of a story can be wielded in a way that causes untold damage and pain.
It’s not even the choice of the person in the story either — it’s those who hear it and retell it who can twist the truth of the story for their own purposes.
This reality didn’t set in for me until recent years.
As I’ve done more and more to reach LGBTQ+ individuals outside the church, I’ve had to face a stark reality: Christians have abused select people’s stories to the detriment of the Gospel.
A decade ago, I would have thought that stories were the key to outreach. After all, didn’t Exodus International, an organization built on stories of change, thrive because it demonstrated the power of God’s redeeming power?
Hundreds of people, thousands even, were changing and finding salvation and freedom. This was all by the power of God!
Then, Exodus collapsed. New stories were told. These stories held great power as well and showed a different picture: change was faked, marriages were forced, and hopes were dashed to pieces.
The stories then pointed different directions. They fought with each other, debunked each other, and left the listeners confused and lost.
Looking back, I wonder why the answer wasn’t more obvious to us. Why did we assume that, in response to stories leading us astray, we should use stories to redirect us?
Now, please don’t hear me saying that sharing our testimonies is wrong. By no means do I believe that.
But for what purpose do we share our stories? So others can follow what we did? To demonstrate that a certain path is possible — even preferable?
Or should we share our stories to demonstrate that Jesus Christ longs to be present in every story, no matter what it is?
Exodus’ greatest sin (out of many) was not its telling of stories — it was in saying that this story of change was the only way for an LGBT or SSA person to be saved.
Christians of any sexuality do not sin in sharing their testimonies — but if they proclaim their journey is the only way Jesus brings us to God, then they make themselves another savior.
My story is simply that — a story. I am not even the star of it.
Jesus Christ is the one who leads in my story. And He did not save me by changing me — He saved me by dying for me.
I will continue to share my story.
But please — do not use it for anything other than pointing to Christ.
And do not try to follow me. God has a path just for you. Follow Him in that.
How do you share your story — or others’ stories, for that matter? Do you see your story pointing to Jesus above all else?
I’m not afraid to share my story – now. I get mixed responses. Some people admire it, and hopefully I have inspired them to follow Jesus and that He is worth it. Some people call me a traitor to the cause. Some tell me that I couldn’t possible love God because I wasn’t changed. The change came about by resisting my urges, to speak out on my weakness, to admit that I am SSA and not be afraid of what anybody might say. I am no longer alone!
You are not alone, Bradley. You are a courageous and wonderful man. I am honored to count you as a friend.
I found this very encouraging… Please keep sharing your story!
I have not yet begun to share my story with much openness. But if and when I begin to do so, may Jesus get all the credit! Most stories don’t point to an “only this certain way” strategy of life, but rather are a picture of what one life has experienced. It is when we add the layers and laws to the story that we distract from Jesus.
I’ll admit that I take it hard when I hear that someone on a Side A path can also feel the influence of the Savior in their lives…and relationships. I don’t doubt that it happens, but it makes me frustrated. Am I listening to the right voices? Are they? I know this looks like a measly comparison trap, but it does run deep. I struggle listening to Side A stories for some complex reasons.
But I think this is a good reminder to look at our motives and think about why we share. I share fairly often in my neck of the woods. Sometimes I wonder if it’s for personal attention, but most of the time I feel like maybe I can reach hearts in a way not many others can, this bringing them to Christ and feeling a greater sense of peace.
YOB has been a wonderful blessing for me. I have gained a lot from reading the stories of those who might be from different Christian traditions, but are more unified in matters of marriage and sexuality.
Excellent post Dean! Exodus is a sobering example of storytelling gone wrong. And your antidote of keeping Jesus at the center of the story is spot on.
I share my story as Jesus revealing to me to be the Father of all fathers. My brokenness, my scars, my wounds are all from one thing and that was the abusive Father I had growing up.
God has revealed to me first as the creator of heaven and Earth, I was 12 years old when he revealed to me through Jesus Christ to be Sovereign Lord and Saviour, my friend, my brother, and now my Heavenly Father.
It is because of Him that I now have men in my life who are gathering me in areas I was lacking or wounded in. Areas that weren’t fully fulfilled as a boy. I have several men in my life now that are fathering me and I am able to be a son to them.
God gave me a new name and told me being called Kyle or Jonathan that I am still his beloved son! And THAT is my message for every other man struggling with these same sex attractions! God loves you and he will Father you where your fathers failed, he will send you men to father you.
He did for me and he will do the same for you. Allow yourself to be Fathered by God!
Y’know what’s great about the stories here at YOB, it’s not so much the circumstances that are often so brutal, it’s how guys keep going. It sure gives a lotta hope & encouragement that this narrow road isn’t as lonely as it seems. Bible says that Jesus himself is that road and that we become like him, but on the journey I’ve realized I’m pretty bad at figuring out my own story. But learning Christ, you do find out about yourself. A lotta stuff doesn’t make sense along the way, but I’m believing when my story’s over it will be like completing the puzzle and what’s seen is gonna be perfect and beautiful. Till then, ya keep going and y’all’s stories help.
The longer I’ve told my story and the more I’ve shared, both on this blog and elsewhere, the more I’ve had to consciously question myself: what motivates my telling? Do I seek personal glory from any of the metaphorical goriness? Or does my story point to Christ, time and again?
Ultimately, He’s what matters. The only thing that matters. What an obvious yet difficult thing to maintain with every story told. Thanks for this reminder, Dean.
What happened to the awesome boat graphic that used to be at the top?
Gotta say I miss it
We’re in the process of a slowly-but-surely redesign of our site. Out with the old, in with the new!
Guess you’re sayin the ship has landed 🙂 Graphics have always been great, looking forward to seeing what y’all create.
The ship graphic really was good, it captured the hope and adventure of this journey.
Thanks Dean for this post.
I remember the day I graduated from a small Christian college in a very small town (it only had one traffic light). Being in a very sheltered environment had not prepared me for what lay ahead…and in many ways I hated to leave the safe “cocoon.” God had many things for me to experience:
* moving to a large city from a small town and learning how to survive in the concrete jungle. Working for a Christian Service organization that would eventually close it’s doors…and the trauma that all of that involved.
* the suicides of a number of people I knew from various places
* most of family/extended family getting married and then divorced
All of these things…and so much more…would tear my heart up and turn my life upside down.
And yet…I’ve seen the “goodness of the Lord dwelling in the land of the living” as it says in Psalms. In God’s economy nothing is ever wasted I know…even when we are down on the count and wonder how we will make it through the storm…through the night. I treasure that verse, “Why do we go through what we go through, it’s so we can comfort others with the comfort the Lord has given us.’ As I’ve told people some of these things, it’s given me “credentials” and a platform from which to speak…with compassion and no “fluff” or pat answers. I can give credit to the Lord – so our stories, unique to our lives, can be used by Him to touch others and remind them of the God who is there…
“But please — do not use it for anything other than pointing to Christ.”
This site is a community of men and women who share their innermost desires and conflicts. There is love and hate and a whole lot of in between. We have tall, short, thin and fat, all walks of life come and go from this webpage. It’s about sharing our story, and yes, we are VERY sexual at times, and we are VERY alone at other times. But we have enough “churchy, read your bible and pray people” out there and we have found that that doesn’t always work. Fellowshipping with other like mind individuals who want to be themselves and not put on a face of Christianity but it’s what the LORD reminds me to be when I am trying to be like a “Christian” should be, “Bee Yourself”. Here I am LORD, faults and failures. Masturbator and alone. At times victorious and constantly in the valley of the shadow of death. Surely goodness and mercy is mine with Him. Sometimes, we just want to talk, and sometimes the conversation might not be pointing to Christ at all. Eventually it will, but for the moment, it maybe pointing to someone else, or maybe even me.