by Darren Theoret
The following is the letter I emailed to my friends, family and Catholic Church officials advising that I have decided not to become ordained as a Deacon. It is dated 16 January, 2008.
When I rededicated my life to the Lord, I was 19 years old and living a very high-risk lifestyle. I was trying every vice in order not to feel the pain of being different from societal norms. You see, since I was a young boy, I knew that I felt things and saw things differently than other boys. As I got a little older I found the word for it. It turns out that I was gay whether I liked it or not.
When I came back to the church, I was told that God loved me just the way I was but that He had a plan for my life which included curing me of homosexuality and making me a straight man with a super testimony that would bring many people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. This happened in a Pentecostal church in Montreal.
I was 19 and had just experienced a wonderful touch on my life from the Holy Spirit and I believed everything that I was told; that as I turned control of my life over to God, He would fix my sexuality. The same-sex attractions never went away so I figured that I wasn't doing all the right things or saying all the right prayers. All I knew was that I could no longer talk about these feelings, as I was being groomed to be an ex-gay minister.
There are many groups around North America who offer this false hope to gays who want to follow God and be good Christians. I was the director of one of these ministries here in Ottawa back in the 80's called Liberty Fellowship that was under the umbrella of Exodus International - a collection of such ministries. We had as many as 40 men and women in this group. To my knowledge, only one man was able to make an adjustment to a heterosexual orientation. The rest of us could not.
I even went to New York to meet with Fr. John Harvey and Benedict Groeschel who were rolling out the Catholic response to Exodus called "Courage". The position of this group is that there are people who, through no fault of their own, are burdened with a homosexual orientation. In order for these individuals to remain in good standing with the Catholic Church, they should be prepared to remain celibate the rest of their lives with no hope of any intimacy whatsoever.
I didn't feel that that was an answer for me. I didn't feel that God would create me as a sexual being to deny me any opportunity to express myself in a legitimate relationship. Only a sadistic monster would do that, not the God of Love. So during this time I did try and date women, but as much as I appreciated them, there was no sexual attraction, so none of the relationships lasted very long. And I kept having the fear of marrying someone and ending up ruining their life because I am not straight.
The feelings of helplessness were overwhelming at times. I kept myself busy with every ministry, committee, group or cause that I could find to keep myself pre-occupied so I wouldn't remember how lonely I was. I cried myself to sleep, often wondering what I had done to deserve this situation.
I kept praying, "God, I know there's something wrong with me, but I don't know how to fix it. Please have patience with me and heal me."
I recently have come to the end of my patience with this prayer and started more "risky" prayers like, "OK God, what's going on here? How could you do this to me? Do you take some kind of pleasure in seeing this suffering?" And then I would say sorry really quickly, and the whole thing would keep repeating itself.
The Church promised me something it could not deliver; a change in orientation. Then the Church required too much by insisting that I live without love. It is my considered opinion (for what it's worth) that the church is not sufficiently motivated to really understand same-sex attraction, explore the mind of God on the subject, or to provide practical pastoral care for those of us who are gay and Catholic.
I have a very good conscience about all the efforts and attempts that I have made to be what the church would like to see. I have come to the conclusion that if I continue in this way it will kill me, and as much as I love the church, I don't feel that that love is reciprocal for openly gay Christians.
I have recently been doing research on the whole topic and in a nutshell here is what I have discovered.
* Most people who attend ex-gay groups do not change into straight people.
* Those who became straight were usually bisexual to begin with.
* Ex-gay groups are responsible for damaging thousands of lives including
suicides, self-hatred, and sense of failure when they cannot change as
* The expectation for individuals to change has caused many innocent gay
Christians to become rejected by their church, family and friends just
because they could not perform the impossible.
* People are reluctant to leave these groups due to social pressure from the
church who demands that they become straight or leave their church.
* That there is a large community of people who have successfully integrated
their gayness and their Christianity.
* There are many church groups, who after much dialogue, prayer and study
of the facts, now embrace gay Christians as full members.
* There are many, many well adjusted same-sex couples who live in mutually
supportive, loving relationships-even as Christians.
* All scripture verses that are used to condemn same-sex unions are either
mistranslated, misused, taken out of context or don't fit with the entire
Christian message of redemption for all. They are usually referring to
temple prostitution, pedophilia, straight people "indulging" in gay sex
for kicks or sexual abuse. There is no scripture against committed,
loving same-sex unions.
* Up until the 13th century, From Ireland to Istanbul and in the heart of
Rome itself, homosexual relationships were accepted as valid expressions
of a God-given ability to love and commit to another person, a love that
could be celebrated, honoured and blessed both in the name of and through
the Eucharist in the presence of Jesus Christ.
From: Gay Christian 101
I have written this and sent it to those who I thought needed to know or who would wonder why I have decided to withdraw from the Deaconate Program. I don't feel that the Catholic Church is ready to welcome an openly gay Deacon, and I am at a point in my life that I have to accept myself and make the best of an unwelcome situation.
I shake my head when I hear people say such stupid things as, "It's a choice one makes." What kind of crazy person would choose this?
The scriptures that keep coming back to me are: "My yoke is easy, my burden is light." The burden the church places on gay people is not light or easy, and so cannot be from God.
"If you ask God for an egg, will He give you a scorpion? Even you wicked men do better than that!" If I ask for love, will God condemn me?
"You did not receive the spirit that makes you slaves to fear, but you received a Spirit of sonship whereby we cry Abba."
I will not continue to live in fear of what will happen if the church finds out I'm gay and a Deacon. And I will not listen to anyone who wants me to feel shame or guilt. I have worked harder at this than one could ask. For twenty-six years I have tried to change. I think it's time to take the hint that change won't happen. I have sought the face of God and His will for my life daily, and I am satisfied that He is well pleased with me.
I am still single at the time of this writing, but I am open to the possibility that God will send someone to me who would be an appropriate partner as I continue to serve Him.
I know that this is awkward for a lot of Christians to accept, and I know that the church does not support this kind of thinking. Well, I'm sorry, but I employed my God-given intelligence and conscience to come to this conclusion.
I also realize that this decision will cost me my standing in the church, my ministry in the Diaconate, and many friendships that I value. That makes me very sad. It is my hope that those of you who love me enough will take the time to pray and ask God to reveal His heart on the matter. I have, and I received the answer that God accepts me as a gay man if I remain responsible to live out the gospel the best way I can.
If this has been helpful to you, I'm glad. If it has caused you concern, pray for me. I'm not interested in changing the church or persuading anyone's opinion. I am simply relaying one person's experience and explaining how I have come to be in this painful situation.
It is funny though. Over all these years (and still) I have always had a very close sense that God loved me and had a purpose for me. God uses me every day to touch lives, and I expect that will continue; I don't need a title for that. I felt that I have good contributions to make to the church, and I am disappointed that that likely will not happen now.
You know, it's easy to say, "Jesus, I trust in You!" when everything is going well. I have the challenge of trusting Jesus while the majority of the church would condemn me as an immoral deviant.
Many of you who know me well know that I am Spirit-filled and flow in many spiritual gifts, including the ability to hear "words" from the Lord. I am reminded of one such "word" I received very early on in my formation. The Spirit said to me, "There are many who are willing to serve Me and be successful. Are you willing to be a failure for Me?" I wasn't sure what that was supposed to mean, but I have never forgotten it.
I remain your servant,
Update from Darren 2 years later:
This is Darren 2 years after I wrote this initial story. I thought I would give you all an update of how things are now going.
After I sent that letter via email, most of my Catholic friends returned a very positive response but I have not heard from most of them again; so that has been sad for me.
I have been extremely blessed to find a partner that I love with my whole heart. We have been together since 15 Aug 2008 and recently we bought a house. We have been worshiping at St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church in Ottawa and both of us serve on Parish Council.
We were formally received as a gay couple by the Bishop and we were overwhelmed with cards, gifts and expressions of love and acceptance. Also, at synod last fall, I was elected to the Diocesan Council for a 3 year term to assist the Bishop in governing the Diocese of Ottawa.
I won't lie and tell you that this transition has been easy, I've lost a lot of friendships that I valued. But then what kind of friends will only be friends if you fit their ideas and not allow people to grow into what God has made them.
I also have some acquaintances who choose to stay in the Catholic Church and live below the radar and they try to persuade me to do the same. My response to them has not been well received and so they also choose to avoid me.
My response is, "We have a responsibility to those who come after us to be witnesses to the truth even if it causes us a little discomfort".
Gay teenagers who grow up in Christian homes are committing suicide at alarming rates because they lack these witnesses to tell them God loves them as they are.
We are commanded to let our light shine so I hope I'm doing my part. If you are deciding to come out as a gay Christian all I can tell you is its difficult, you will have losses but you will be making an honest witness to the love of God - Its so worth it.
God bless you all and we'll check in again soon.