At some level, those of us who have struggled with same-sex attraction have experienced a disruption in intimacy.
And today, those who have made this reality known to the public by openly identifying as LGBTQ risk aligning themselves with an entire subculture that celebrates beliefs and behaviors that are contrary to biblical morality. Being daily influenced by others within that impassioned world may have created strong bonds, beliefs, and experiences that require attention from the Lord. So, transformation and resolution can be a journey. But it doesn’t matter what has happened to us or what we have done; we do not have to walk this out alone. God longs to lead us on this intimacy journey. We don’t have to figure out exactly what to do. We don’t even have to know how to “properly” pursue intimacy with God. The Bible promises that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth (see John 16:13). So we can merely relax and accept that there are many potential aspects of our lives that could be factors in our same-sex attraction; we don’t need to have it all figured out in order to take steps forward.
This next statement might be the most painful one I will make for those with the homosexual experience. It is this: change is possible. I remember the agony of wrestling with homosexuality—with same-sex arousals—and the shame and confusion it brought. I lived with rejection and self-hatred every day. Many of us who have experienced this pain find it terrifying to hope for a change of our understanding of who we are and who we desire. But the reality is that I couldn’t have arrived at the peace and fulfillment I now enjoy without hearing this truth from a few people in my life who were able to testify that genuine, lasting transformation is available.
With the world screaming the opposite, I feel even more compelled to say that there are people who are experiencing dramatic change. We won’t seek out breakthrough for our own lives if we don’t know it’s possible. There is no condemnation for anyone, regardless of the attraction he/she is experiencing. No one needs to change one bit to experience my respect and love. That anyone would endeavor to follow God closely each day is admirable. But I cannot diminish the truth. I am compelled to proclaim that my friends and I have experienced change. Change is possible.
The very core of the Gospel carries the message of transformation. Christ came to earth to remove us from the predictable bondage of sin, illness, and death. He came to set us free so that, in our freedom, we could unite with Him and be transformed into our true identities—sons and daughters who resemble their Father. When Jesus went to the cross, He made no exceptions. He didn’t die for most sins or offer redemption to everyone except for a select few. His sacrifice rocked the world to such an extent that the sun disappeared, the rocks split, and dead people roamed above ground (see Matt. 27). The cross changed everything. All of us are invited to receive the overwhelming grace of His Gospel. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, because of that grace, our weaknesses do not escape His notice—not even our weaknesses in our identities and sexuality. Jesus came for all to be set free, for all to know Him, for all to experience the peace and transformative power of His Kingdom.
And He’s not offended by our journey of transformation. When we hand over our lives to the Lord, repenting and receiving His love, we are immediately included in the Body of Christ. The salvation of our souls is immediate. But our sanctification—the process by which we grow to look like Jesus—takes time. Some people may experience immediate transformation in certain areas of their lives when they are born again. Maybe they suddenly don’t feel so quick to anger, they might be set free from an addiction, or their self-centered motivations shift. This change is a beautiful thing. But all of us will have areas of our lives that require time to transform.
Look at the disciples. For three years, they spent every moment with Jesus, sharing the message of the Gospel and seeing miracle after miracle happen in front of their eyes. And yet Peter clearly had some issues with impulse control, James and John let their resentment rule so much that they tried to destroy a whole city with fire, and all of the disciples competed over who was the best.
Jesus knew their weaknesses before He ever chose them. He saw each disciple for who he was—warts and all—and He loved each completely. Each time they made a boneheaded move, Jesus corrected them, guiding them back to His perspective. He didn’t reject them or give up on them; He merely invested time in retraining their thinking to His perspective. That retraining is what He is offering each one of us. Jesus is not afraid of our messy process. All true followers of Christ are traveling a life-long journey of increasing our spiritual maturity. God is not impatient with us. He simply provides us with the tools we need and guides us with His Holy Spirit to the extent that we are ready and willing to allow His intervention into our lives.
Change Is Necessary
It’s not for His sake alone that God invests so much in our transformation. Sin isn’t some annoying behavior that irks the Lord, so He’d prefer it if we’d stop. Sin destroys us, isolates us, and lies to us about who we are. It is for our benefit that Jesus longs for those of us who are engaging in homosexual sex to step out of behaviors that bring us harm and into the freedom found in His way of life. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Some may think that Christianity offers an arbitrary, antiquated biblical demand handed down from a bunch of old men who hadn’t yet experienced sexual freedom. But the opposite is true. Modern science is continuously discovering and proving the truth of the Bible.
Today, Hollywood loves to portray the gay lifestyle as one big party, but the reality is that most people involved in this way of life are navigating incredible pain. Biologically, homosexual activity has proven to wreak havoc on the minds and bodies of participants. Men who have sex with men have increased risks compared to men who do not have sex with men. They have an average life expectancy reduced by 20 years, make up more than half of the population of those diagnosed with HIV, and are much more likely to experience emotional turmoil—cases of mood and anxiety disorders, substance abuse, depression, and suicide attempts. (1,2,3) Similarly, gender dysphoria—the condition of experiencing one’s psychological identity to be different from one’s biological sex—is leading men and women to irreparably damage their bodies through cross-sex hormones and cosmetic surgeries. Sexual identity is written into our beings at a chromosomal level and cannot be altered. Without addressing the root causes of the pain and confusion about their sexuality, these precious individuals are being sold a fake cure. And, when their pain is not alleviated, they are still 19 times more likely to commit suicide than the average person. Statistically, their condition has not improved despite embracing transgender identity at extreme lengths. (4)
Psychologically, many of us who have struggled with same-sex attraction also experience self-hatred, emotional pain, codependency, isolation, and an insecurity among same-sex peers. We didn’t seek same-sex desires out. Yet, relationships and family members begin to pay a price, in various ways, for our decision to live in contrast to who we were created to be. Cases of domestic violence are higher in same-sex relationships. (5) I know that there are many gay-identified people who have adopted children into their families and are providing them with lots of love. But men and women are different in so many ways, and these children do miss out on the blessing of being covered and nurtured by both a mother and a father. Over 2,500 studies indicate a married man and woman raising their own children offer clear advantages to those kids that no other family structure can. (6)
For years, the argument in support of the gay lifestyle was that some people were just born that way, and there was nothing that could be done about it. Scientifically, however, we continue to learn that this just isn’t the case. The recent Ganna Study (a 30-year collaboration among scientists at Harvard, MIT, and other reputable universities) has shed some conclusive evidence on this argument. After studying the entire human genome of 493,001 individuals over a 30-year period, they have conclusively stated that, while there are some genetic correlations (as would be expected with such a study), they found no isolated gene or genes that caused homosexuality. The study indicated that homosexual behavior cannot be predicted by looking exclusively at an individual’s genes, nobody develops a homosexual identity or behavior without the overwhelming influence of environmental factors, and gay-identified people have a completely normal human genome. (7)
These may be new discoveries for us, but they are not surprising to God. He knows the pain and negative impacts upon us and those around us when we act against our original design. That is why, in the Bible, homosexuality is always a condemned behavior. There isn’t one example of a homosexual relationship being blessed by God. He reserves that blessing for marriage between a man and a woman. The Lord is not condemning those of us who have struggled with same-sex attraction; He is offering us a way out. These advances in science are not only discovering the truth about the effects of homosexual behavior, they are also uncovering the hope that God hardwired into our very beings. Advances in brain science have revealed that the pathways in our brains—our reactions to certain stimuli, our emotional responses, our choices—can absolutely change. This is called neuroplasticity. There is no stagnant “us.” God calls each one of us to lay down our lives and be born again. Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save it (see John 3:17). And He will meet us exactly where we are. He will take us by the hand and lead us out, into His freedom.
Change Is Life-Giving
Experiencing sexual abuse as a young child, my spiritual son Gabriel Pagan grew up believing that acting out sexually was the way that he was going to get love from father figures. He grew up in a religious household, believing that he was gay, that God hated gay people, and that he was going to hell. But Gabriel met Jesus and realized that He still wanted connection with him even in his immaturity and sinfulness. His connection with God changed everything.
I used to be very depressed and constantly paranoid of what people thought about me. I explored sexuality in high school after being exposed to sexual activity and pornography as a kid. Acting out through masturbation and webcams became an obsessive habit to which I lost all control. It got to the point where I was acting out what I was seeing on screens in public.
This brought me to my lowest point, and I wanted to kill myself. I was unaware that people were praying for me, but because they did, I felt motivated to change my life. Someone reached out to me on social media and shared Jesus with me. I accepted Jesus Christ in my driveway, and the Holy Spirit fell on me like fire which brought me through a series of encounters. I went through a Bethel Sozo (listening prayer-type) ministry and saw Jesus holding me that first time I was touched inappropriately, and I told the Lord that I would never sleep with another man if I had His presence like that forever.
Gabriel knew that he was in pain, but he didn’t escape that pain by simply trying to manage the sexual expression of that pain. Instead of embracing the shame about his behavior, he began to focus on the presence and love of God. He realized that he could have a personal relationship with the Creator, with the very source of true intimacy and identity.
When Gabriel began to get to know this personal God, he began to experience real, radical love. And he began to see that God was inviting him to experience a full life with Him. He began to do outreach with his church and even went on a mission trip to Haiti.
Everything in my life flipped upside down. I went from being a depressed, addicted, partier metal-head…[to being] on a mission trip, praying for friends, casting out demons, and seeing the Bible come alive.
His understanding of God was shifting dramatically, and he began to learn how to recognize His voice. He realized that God didn’t want him to live a small, boring, restricted life. God was inviting him to live like Jesus. He dove into learning how to hear God’s voice, and he connected with a pastoral counselor to walk through his pain and addiction.
Fully embarked on his intimate journey with God, one day Gabriel was on an outreach with his church in his city. He was praying for a homeless man and, afterward, wrapped his arms around the man, telling him how much Jesus loved him. Suddenly, he found himself aroused. Confused and freaked out, he wondered what had just happened. He’d been experiencing breakthroughs in his sexual identity, and this interaction hadn’t felt sexual up until that moment.
I heard a voice say, “See, God didn’t save you. You’re still a f—ing f—got.” But my pastor raised me on understanding that the voice of God is your biggest security besides the Word of God.
So, I said, “Holy Spirit, because this happened to my body, does this mean I’m gay?”
And I heard, “Son, do not listen to that voice. It came from a demon. I did deliver you.” And, so, Jesus taught me how to trust Him [even] when my body said everything else.
Gabriel landed on a valuable tool for this journey—his focus. If he had made his physical reactions the focus of his journey, that moment on outreach would have sidetracked him. But God was able to tell him otherwise. When we are desiring to separate ourselves entirely from the homosexual experience, there are so many layers of restoration happening within us. We cannot glare at our behavior or desires and expect them to change automatically. Our main motivator must be intimacy with God.
No matter where we are along our path—at the very beginning of considering change or having experienced incredible breakthrough in the areas of identity and intimacy—there is grace for everyone. And there is certainly grace for those of us who have been pursuing the Lord but have yet to experience any transformation in this area of our lives. But if you are pursuing God for wholeness and freedom, I want you to know that there is hope. Gabriel’s testimony and the testimony of thousands of others who have been transformed by God’s love prophesy to this fact: Hope is alive, and God has more than enough grace for each of our journeys. Today, Gabriel is happily married to a woman and they just had their first child. (8)
Seven years later and I’m free from being bound to same-sex attractions. I’m happy and living a wild life of adventure following Jesus Christ. Today I live knowing that what once brought me the most shame is completely taken away by a God who didn’t avoid my pain or questions. I serve as a pastor at my local church and lead people through inner healing sessions. My greatest joy is seeing Jesus crush unbelief by stepping into people’s pain and watching them encounter the God who kept me from ending my own life. I was addicted and now I’m free. I was depressed and now I’m full of joy. I was full of hate and now I’m moved by love. (9)
Change Is Happening
In early 2018, my ministry partner, Elizabeth Woning, and I, as a part of our ministry, began to get involved in opposing an assembly bill in the state of California referred to as AB2943. This bill proposed to outlaw the very books, resources, and counseling that had saved my life. Any conference, counseling modality, or literature that suggested that leaving behind a homosexual orientation was possible was on the chopping block. They argued that sexual orientation change was fraudulent. So the promotion of that kind of material would become fraudulent itself under California’s consumer protection laws. Counseling choice was already illegal in California for minors, but now an adult wouldn’t be able to receive ministry, therapy, or resources even if they were personally requesting it.
Legislation was being passed world-wide, not merely securing rights for LGBTQ-identified people, but taking away the rights of adults who were not content to live out homosexual desires. In some cases, our testimonies had been sanctioned, our social media accounts had been censored or shut down, and newspapers and TV news spewed personal attacks. Many of us had come to experience same-sex attraction or confusion about our sexual identity as a direct result of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. So I knew that protecting our rights to receive counseling and other help in a way that lined up with our faith convictions was paramount. Realizing how crucial those kinds of resources had been to our own journeys of transformation, Elizabeth and I jumped into action to share our personal stories.
Looking to lend our support to those contesting this bill, we soon found ourselves taking the witness stand and sharing our testimonies in legislative committee hearings. Having gone through five years of weekly professional Christian counseling and various ministries, I was able to share how this bill would have removed my freedom to pursue emotional healing and happiness. After hearing several testimonies from people who had left a homosexual life behind, the state Assembly majority leader stood up and said, “You know, I just don’t believe any of this.” Unconvinced by our testimonies, the Assembly members kept the bill moving forward.
Discouraged, on a drive home from a hearing, I turned to Elizabeth and said, “We need a book of testimonies. These legislators have never personally met anyone who’s changed!” With the full support of our church’s leadership, we began to plan a book that could be printed before the bill would pass by a senate vote only weeks later. To do that, though, we’d have to collect dozens of written testimonies within the following five days.
As the book creation process was beginning, we were invited to the first-ever Freedom March happening in Washington, D.C. Organized by Jeffrey McCall, the Freedom March was a chance for people who formerly identified as LGBTQ to publicly worship the Lord and share the good news of the transformation that Jesus had manifested in their lives. The organizers had heard Elizabeth and me testifying against AB2943, and they invited us to join them in Washington. We bought airline tickets immediately and flew out three days later. Suddenly, we were surrounded by people who had left homosexuality. In about six weeks, with the help of some amazing people, we held in our hands the first copies of CHANGED: #oncegay Stories. Anticipating the vote on the bill, we invited our new friends from the Freedom March to a rally in Sacramento.
There, we went door to door, handing signed copies of the book to each of the 40 state senators’ offices, talking to them openly about how our people group—oncegay people—would be affected by AB2943. Humbly, we tried to explain that adults should have the freedom to pursue the counseling that aligns with their beliefs. Erasing options for counseling and resources was discriminatory. Elizabeth again testified as part of a senate hearing along with our oncegay friend Jim Domen of Church United, and over 400 people supporting us each stepped up to the public microphone toward the end of the hearing, stating their names and vocalizing “I oppose this bill.” It was one of the largest public responses ever in a California senate hearing.
Even with all of that, the senate passed the bill. It would now pass through a couple of formalities before almost certainly being signed into law.
The assemblyman who sponsored the bill, a gay-identified man himself and the head of the California LGBT caucus, though, had listened to our stories, and he surprisingly decided to speak to several groups of pastors across California to hear their perspectives. As a result of those conversations and what must have been the influence of God Himself, shockingly, without warrant, and with zero legal requirement, when the bill was within a couple hours of being passed with a final vote, the assemblyman pulled the bill. AB2943 would not become law.
Surprised and relieved, we realized that God had used this bill like a magnet, drawing former-LGBTQ believers together, organizing us to share our stories, and uniting the Body of Christ. The momentum from that time has continued to open up conversations—inside and outside of the four walls of the church—about homosexuality, creating safe spaces for encouragement, growth, and civic engagement. Since creating our website (changedmovement.com), we have sold thousands of copies of the CHANGED: #oncegay Stories book and launched an Instagram account (@changedmvmt) so that we could share these testimonies freely with the world. Every week, we continue to receive more stories of individuals experiencing new peace and fulfillment they didn’t experience inside their LGBTQ worlds. We also have a closed Facebook group that now has thousands of people gathered testifying of Jesus’ love and intervention and encouraging one another. And it’s only just begun. God is on the move, ushering in a movement of sexual purity and wholeness that will not be stopped.
Bob Jones, a respected prophet, foresaw this moment in time. In 1989, he had an encounter with God in which he saw 100,000 people being set free from homosexuality. He saw HIV being healed and those transformed individuals dedicating their lives entirely to the Lord. From that initial wave of people breaking free from homosexuality, there would be a ripple effect of revival. “They will be totally dedicated. I saw 100,000 coming into the Kingdom. There’s no telling how many that 100,000 will impact…. They will be like new. It will be all about Jesus. Some will become doctors. They will serve the Body of Christ. We need these people.”
Truly believing this prophetic word was from God, and feeling His encouragement, I realized that I needed to expedite my dream of sharing my journey of transformation in a way that other people could take as their own. For years, I had been praying that God would show me how to communicate clearly the ways He had moved in my life—how He was eager to love and meet persons wrestling with their sexuality. I knew He’d done a work but hadn’t analyzed how He’d done it. One morning, in the shower, it hit me. Like, I literally jumped out of the shower to write down what the Lord was saying to me. There were six keys to my transformation.
Clearly, I saw how God had led me into vulnerability—learning to be seen and known by God and others—and then how I’d had to truly decide to surrender my life to His lordship. He showed me how He’d built healthy relationships around me, how He had invited me into a new identity in Him, and how He’d instilled an enduring faith to help me navigate the highs and lows of my journey into wholeness. And finally, the Lord showed me how I could change my future by catching His vision for my life and choosing not to believe a different report.
These six keys may not be in the perfect order for everyone, and there may be some keys that resonate more than others. But it took all of them for me to experience the dramatic transformation that the Lord led me into.
There is no formula or one-size-fits-all plan for how God leads us into wholeness and freedom. He’s omnipotent, He’s omniscient, and He interacts with us individually and intimately. So these six keys are offered here as probable doors of breakthrough, areas of invitation for God’s transformative grace. His love can reach into any place in our hearts to bring His affection, truth, and peace. It’s what He’s done for me and countless others.
Join our mass deliverance service for help with sexual addictions here.