Testimony of Kris Boyer
Co-Founder & Associate Director of Strength in Weakness Ministries
Introduction: To live is Christ
To live is Christ and to die is gain. - Philippians 1:21
Philippians 1:21 has always been a verse that has called me out of mediocrity and into a life that is full of potential for love of God over love of self. This verse has always exposed my desire for glory over the desire of following Christ. This verse has also always shown me that what matters is not necessarily where we are in life or who we are. What matters in life is that we are all grounded in the revelation of Christ. What also matters, is that we all find the source of strength and understanding not from each other, or television, or books, but from the almighty God and His son, Jesus Christ, who was put here on this earth to live, suffer, and be resurrected not for his glory but for the salvation of all peoples. This verse is a call to the undeniable fact that the focus is not on our goals or us. The focus is on the cross of Christ which is the age old symbol of both grace and love, but also wrath and judgment.
This statement, "to live is Christ and to die is gain", calls us to the realization that we are to be centered in the life, death and resurrection of Christ, which I will from now on refer to as the "three stations of Christ". This conviction must be at the center of any theology or Christian ethic which is presented to the church. This verse also has much more significance for me, because I am a brother who struggles with same sex attractions. The difficulty with this comes from the fact that many people believe that I "chose" that lifestyle; whereas the truth is that I have now chosen a Christian lifestyle. What this means is that while I struggle with same sex attractions, I will not give into those desires. While I did not choose what I would be attracted to, I can choose to act on those attractions. Many readers will say, "Good that is the way it should be." These readers are correct, that is the way it should be, however, what they do not realize is that there is a great taboo on this subject.
There are very few people whom I can turn to for help. This is both a struggle and a curse that I must live every day. Every day I carry my cross, and many of those days I do not have help. I have rarely had a Simon to help me bear my cross, and what a heavy burden this cross is. There are many times that I have felt ashamed of what I struggle with, because Homosexuality is a reality in our denomination that is treated with silence. Not only is this an issue for our denomination, but it is also an issue in the greater Christian church, with a large number of "liberal denominations" who not only allow homosexuality in their church but encourage and glorify homosexuality in tandem with the secular world.
I am not writing this to create a pity party for people who struggle with same sex attractions. This testimony is not about justification of the homosexual lifestyle. This testimony is about proclaiming that Jesus Christ has given me victory and that there is a way that a brother or sister can live a Christian life, while dealing with the homosexual temptations that, for many of us, will be a part of our lives till our dying days. I am writing this testimony to show that there is hope available to people who struggle with same sex attractions.
I am doing this because of the love of Christ for all people whether they struggle with homosexuality or not. I am also writing this for the brother or sister who does not struggle with homosexuality, but they have a friend who does struggle with homosexuality. The most important command that Christ gave us is not the great commission in Mathew 28. It is Mathew 22. "Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (22:37-40).
In a sense love of others and God, being outward focused on those around us, is the basic message of the gospel that we are to live out in our lives. Through my struggle I have come to two conclusions about the Gospel. Those two conclusions are: 1) that we all are created in God's image and that 2) he loves us despite our temptations, sins, and response to his love.
Who I am
I was born in September of 1980 in Oregon and I grew up in a small town on the Oregon coast. I like soccer and rugby. I enjoy singing, drawing, and martial arts. I love to act on stage, and I also take pride in my work and school. I have my B.S. in religious studies and my Masters in Christian Theology and Islamic Studies. I am a Caucasian male in my twenties and I love to talk. I am also a brother who struggles with same sex attraction.
Not every brother who struggles with same sex attraction is the same. We all have different stories and originations. Some of us never knew the love of a father, while others were sexually abused as children by other children or adults. Still many others had both no relationships with their fathers and abuse. There are even those who do not remember having any negative experience with their father or sexual abuse in their lives. In my case, an older male sexually abused me; I also had no relationship with my own father even though I lived in the same house.
I only bring this up because my perspective and Christian ethic is developed from the lenses of a person who has been sexually abused. I also say this in order to make the point that I did not choose to be gay. I never woke up in the morning and thought, "Wouldn't life just be "swell" if I grew up to be a homosexual." For many, it is a learned lifestyle from their childhood. Other people who struggle with this lifestyle simply are not attracted to the opposite sex. They did not choose this it is just the way that they have developed for whatever reason.
Where it all began
Growing up in a small town, right next to the ocean is something that many people have told me they have dreamed of. I often hear the exclamation of how beautiful it must have been, and just how perfect life must be in a small town. However, for me, growing up in a small town was absolute hell. There is a positive side to growing up in a small town. That positive side is that everybody knows everybody. Everybody knowing everybody is also the biggest problem. It is very difficult to keep a secret in a small town.
I do not remember much of my childhood. What I do remember is not the most pleasant experience to recount; however, this experience is important so that people will be able to understand where I am coming from. I moved with my family to this town when I was four years old. On the outside my family looked as though it was a normal, happy family. This was not the true picture. During this time we use to go to a neighbors house. They had three kids, two boys and a girl. I became friends with the youngest boy who was four years older than I.
I do not remember how it started or even why. All I know is that it did happen. There was probably about an acre of forest behind our houses, and we use to go into the woods to play almost daily. In the woods, the neighbor boy and I would do secret things. We would take off all of our clothes and touch each other. There are many other things that he had done to me that are not important to recount, things that at this point are too painful still to put into writing.
This sexual exploitation would continue for at least four years until this neighbor abruptly cut off our "friendship". This was such a commonplace occurrence in my life that I actually thought this was how friends showed love for each other. I had no idea what real love between friends was. I never felt love from my father. In fact my perception of my father was that he did not love me or want me. So, my assumption was that what happened between me and this neighbor was out of love. Needless to say, I copied these occurrences in other relationships with other guys. I really did not understand that this was wrong and that this is what a gay person does and likes. I didn't even know what gay people were and who they were except for what I learned in church, which was that God hated them, they were going to burn in Hell, and that there was no hope.
I did not really learn what a gay person was, and did, until the sixth grade. I had always heard people say how disgusting gay people were. As I said before, I knew where gay people were going to go from church. I did what ever I could to cover up my homosexual desires. I went to church with my mom very regularly, up until I was sixteen. During this time, church was both a haven and a prison for me. It was a haven, because I could go and feel close to God, or what I thought God was. It was a prison; because I was never free to discuss who I was or that I really did not know God. I only wanted to hide.
My mom is Pentecostal. I grew up believing that true Christians could speak in tongues and prophecy. I also grew up believing that God regularly possessed his believers with the Holy Spirit so that they would feel an extra touch from his love. These encounters with the spirit often left people knocked out on the ground, or at least shaking in convulsions.
During this time I never had a boyfriend or a lover. I only had a series of destroyed relationships. There was one occurrence where I touched another boy and he responded. He started to call me up and tell me how much he loved me. I freaked. I did not want an open relationship. He was the last boy until college whom I had touched in a sexual way.
After High school, I was accepted to a private university in Minnesota. This was my opportunity to flee from my life and start over. It was nice going where nobody knew me. It was also a relief for me to go someplace where I thought that God was not present. How wrong I was. I remember the last thing that my mom said to me was, "please don't turn gay on me son." That plea echoed in my memory for my entire freshman year in college. I did well in school. I received respectable grades, I had a girlfriend for a month (even though I really was not attracted to her), I was pretty popular, and I felt free from God. However, that would change.
My life felt empty and I could not quite figure out why. I tried dating, and my girlfriend and I tried to have a spiritual relationship. While we did make out a lot, we never had sex. I could never bring myself to go that far. In reality, I was only using her, so that I could prove to myself that I was not gay. However, that was living in a fantasy world. I soon came to realize that I could not escape from the reality of who I had grown up to become. Like I said earlier, I did not choose this life. This was just something that I grew up with. The only real "gay encounter" that I had was one time college. I never really tried to have any kind of sexual encounters after that experience.
It was after my first term that I realized that I needed God's help. It was not that I wanted to not be gay. It was just that my life felt empty. I knew that my life was going somewhere, but I did not know exactly where it was going. That is when I began to realize that maybe God was not such a bad "thing" after all. My first goal was to search the scriptures to say that it was okay for me to be gay. I wanted to prove to my mom (and myself) that I was not going to "burn in hell" for being the person I felt I was. I even declared a Religion major to go along with my Educations and Social Studies majors to force my self to read the Bible.
I soon began to realize that living a life that was active in homosexuality was not okay by biblical standards. That was when I started looking for churches that could help me live a life that was Godly. I did not want to struggle with homosexuality any more. I wanted to struggle with what everybody else struggled with. I spent my entire spring semester looking for churches to go to. I just could not find a church that I fit in with. When I left for home during the summer, I went to church with my mom and I saw a counselor at this church. She prayed the "spirit of homosexuality" out of me after our third session, and that was supposed to fix all of my problems. It did not work. I still struggled with my sexuality, but I did not want to admit that it was still a problem.
When I returned to school for the fall, I prayed specifically that God would send the church that would take care of me, and help me, to me. A week later I was reached out to by a married couple. They took me to church that Sunday. The following February, I was baptized. I thought that would be the end of my struggles. It was not the end of my struggles, because I was not truthful with where I was at, and what I struggled with. I did not open up about the abuse that I endured as a child, which at that time I blamed myself for, I was also not open about the homosexual desires that I still felt.
Eventually, I was caught in a lie. With not being open with the sin and depression in my life, I soon began to live a double life. In response to being caught, I wrote a seven-page letter confessing all of my sin that I had not been open with, including the abuse that I went through. This all happened in the beginning of the summer of 2001. By the end of that summer, I had come to the realization that I had never repented of my sins, I had not been open with my life and I had been lying to everyone, including God. With this in mind, I began to study the Bible again. That November I was baptized on the nineteenth at ten o'clock in the evening in an indoor swimming pool. I actually thought that with a real baptism my same sex desires would just go away. The problem is that they did not go away. I still struggled and that struggle became an every day battle.
The problem was that no one in my church was ready to help me deal with these things. I was always told that I would have to make a choice not to struggle with men. I was also told that someday I would just wake up and no longer have these attractions. I was even told that this was just Satan getting into my mind and making me think that I was still a homosexual. Some people even counseled me that all I would have to do is change the way that I dress, speak, and walk and I would no longer struggle with homosexuality. The crux of the matter is that I was still a homosexual. Because people did not know how to help me, and I did not know how to walk that tight rope of hetero vs. homo in my sexual orientation and walk with God, I soon began to fade in and out of depression and anger. I could never share my struggle for fear of being told that I was not trying hard enough. Pretty soon it began to be easier to just ignore the attractions and pretend to be completely heterosexual. This strategy seemed to work and nobody in my church who knew me questioned it. As the saying goes, "out of sight, out of mind."
After two years of theological studies and private reflection, I came to the realization that what I was doing was still lying and not bringing glory to God. I needed to do what Jesus would have told me to do. I needed to admit to myself that I still struggled and I needed to be honest with my friends, evangelist, and the person who was "discipling" me. Although I did not tell my "discipler' until February of 2005, I had told everyone else whom I was close to in October. I got some interesting responses from excitement that I was facing this head on, to being told that I really was not gay and that I was not feeling the things that I was feeling. This is where Strength in Weakness Ministries comes into play. People like me need to understand that God's grace is still valid for us, and that even though most of us will struggle with same sex desires for the rest of our lives, we are still loved by God and we are still disciples of Christ, even though we struggle with this particular sin.
"Simmul eustis et peccator" is a reformation statement that means: simultaneously saint and sinner. This was the position of the Christian, as laid out by Martin Luther during the reformation. What this means is that we have been justified and made pure by the blood of Christ, however, we are still, at the same time, sinners who sin and will continue to sin till we die or Christ returns. "Simmul eustis et peccator" is a confessional statement that all Christians need to believe about themselves, especially those Christians who struggle with same sex attraction. The idea is that we are not perfect, but God in his wisdom and grace is preparing us for the return of Christ, and through that preparation, we are slowly changed into his image. This is called sanctification. This is the hope that Christians who struggle with same sex attraction must cling to.
It was not until recently that I began to see a counselor through an ex-gay ministry in the Twin Cities. This ministry group is not part of the Churches of Christ, and has been reaching out to the gay community for over 30 years. Much of what I will be presenting on this web site is in response to these counseling sessions. The first thing that I have learned is that the opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality. The opposite of homosexuality is holiness. In fact, it is holiness that we are called to repeatedly in both the Old and New Testaments. Paul always addressed the churches that he wrote to as "saints". The word translated from the Greek hagios to mean saint, is the same word used to translate the Hebrew word qodes. Qodes was a word that typically was used only in reference to God, and it is rendered in English to mean Holy. Holy is who we are made to be in Christ, and what we are becoming in Christ. We are the Holy of God. That is the Christian title.
My desires use to be wrapped up in a world in which I could have the normal struggles that are sanctioned by Christian churches. These would include lusting after women and fantasizing after women. The problem with this outlook is that it takes one form of lust and sin and replaces it with another form of sin. The outlook that one must automatically become heterosexual does not take into account that Christ came to set us free from sin. Romans 6:22 says, "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life." Please note that this holiness does not happen just because we were baptized, the holiness comes because we have been set free and is a work in progress.
The struggles that we had before we were baptized do not go away easily. We must wrestle with our struggles one at a time. When we wrestle with our struggles the Holy Spirit will begin the sanctification process and the Holy Spirit will allow us to be humble before God through prayer, service, fasting, and relationships. This takes honesty and honesty means that you must be a part of a community that fosters this honesty. It is my hope that I can become a resource to those who are struggling in silence and to help people find freedom from shame and guilt. By striving for holiness in our lives and by striving to become like Christ, centering our identities in Him and not in our earthly desires will we live a life of freedom.
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