Beyond Ex-Gay

Jesus and the Precious Rubble

By Peterson Toscano


So many people I meet who have had ex-gay experiences consider themselves post-Christians. Perhaps they do not use that term, but many who once had an Evangelical Conservative belief in Jesus now do not belong to any faith community and do not practice any religion. A friend recently mentioned that when she goes to a church service she experiences post traumatic stress.

Picture of rubbleI know that feeling. Hearing a song we used to sing in a church where I now do not feel welcome anymore, my throat closes up and a muddiness rises in my heart. Even in rainbow-clad friendly churches, I can experience flashbacks to the days when I struggled with God to deliver me from my homosexual desires believing that if I didn't get free, I could not serve Him or enjoy his presence.

I have to say that after years of living as an Evangelical Fundamentalist and sometimes Pentecostal/Charismatic Christian, I struggle with understanding and expressing my current faith and spirituality. I am a Christ-centered Quaker, but I am not sure what that means—at least for me.

Recently at Pendle Hill, a Quaker study center outside of Philadelphia, I sat down with the words of the Quaker Isaac Penington.

From the Pendle Hill Pamphlet 29 The Inward Journey of Isaac Penington:

Therefore take heed of the fleshly wisdom; take heed of thine own understanding; take heed of thy reasoning or disputing; for these are weapons wherewith the witness is slain. That wisdom must be destroyed, and that understanding brought to naught, and thou become a child, and learn as a child if ever thou know the things of God.

These words comfort me right now. He writes about how we have to give up our old ways of thinking about God and become like little children.
Peterson as a child on the porch
I feel like a little child with my faith right now. I don't have vocabulary like I once did. I live with more questions than answers, and my spiritual needs seem basic. Christ be near me, feed me, hold me. I deconstructed much of my belief system and now stand on a pile of rubble—precious rubble—but rubble all the same. Even so, I do not feel ill at ease about where I stand, rather I have a strange peace.

As I sit in the silence of Quaker meeting and my own worship times, I let the Light wash over me, search me, know me, absorb my questions, hear my groans that words cannot express, and communicate with me spirit to spirit bypassing the messy mind, getting to the heart of the matter. Be still; know God.