Healing Line

Healing Line

Homosexuality: A Cure?

by Francis MacNutt
Fall 2000

The current debate on homosexuality in our society, particularly within the Church, is a painful one. Two positions on homosexuality are tearing apart many church denominations and Christians. These two positions are basically irreconcilable:

  1. Homosexuality is condemned by the Bible. God's Word to the homosexual is, "Repent, and get your life in order."
  2. Homosexuality is a given in some people's lives: "I can't change; this is the way I am, and I can't repent for that. Stop trying to heap shame on me! You are the one who should repent. If you were like Jesus, your compassion would lead you to accept homosexuals with open arms."

But there is a third position which we believe is the best solution: simply, homosexuality can be healed. That is, a homosexual can become a heterosexual; the homosexual orientation can be changed through prayer for inner healing and the power of the Holy Spirit. This solution, too, we believe, accords well with what Scripture teaches.

Unfortunately, it becomes hard even to discuss this third possibility. Those who favor the gay agenda often react strongly against any mention of healing, because healing implies that the person being healed is "sick." Consequently, it is hard to suggest this third view without stirring up a strong reaction. In fact, the only speaking engagements I have had canceled in the past 15 years were churches where the gay activists heard that our team believed in the healing of homosexuality.

This angry reaction can be expected and understood with empathy, because homosexuals have so often faced derision and condemnation. The reason for this anger is that many homosexuals have perhaps tried to change but couldn't. After many years of secrecy and shame, they realized that the healthiest thing to do was to admit homosexuality and "come out of the closet." We certainly can understand this anger at those of us who don't really know what it is like to be homosexual. As he sees it, we want to put him back into the dungeon of self–hatred. It is no wonder that people with homosexual orientation seek churches where they are accepted as they are.

It is sad that many Christians, in their desire to defend Biblical truth, condemn the homosexual's orientation with no concern for other factors. They may even encourage a man with homosexual tendencies to marry. This leads to disaster if the man is not sexually drawn to his wife; he will not become sexually attracted to women by a simple act of the will.

This traditional conservative Christian approach, if prayer for healing isn't also considered, usually doesn't work, and the homosexual knows it. In the past, some homosexuals have tried this approach and come out of the lifestyle, but often it has not lasted. The entire homosexual community knows about these cases. So, traditional Christians come across to them as harsh and out of touch with reality.

Conversely, many Christians, in their desire to show the love and mercy that is supposed to be evidence of the Christian walk, overlook God's Word on the subject and accept homosexuals as they are, even seeking to support homosexual unions. This position, however, does disregard Biblical teaching on marriage and the many times the Bible directly addresses homosexuality and calls it sin — not any worse than other sins, but nonetheless, a sin.

So what is the answer? If we adhere to the traditional and Biblical belief that the acting out of homosexual desires is sinful, what should the Church's response be? Perhaps a balanced approach can lead to a solution of the question that is tearing the Church apart.

In agreement with the gay rights groups, it can be conceded that the homosexual orientation is a given. A homosexual does not change by simply hearing that his same–sex orientation is evil and then making a decision to repent and change. You can be sorry for your sexual acts, but the orientation, the inclination, is another matter. Most homosexuals have not chosen their sexual orientation to the same sex.

Two theories seek to explain this orientation. The first theory insists that the orientation is genetic. Gay groups prefer this theory: "God made me gay." The second theory declares that the same–sex orientation develops as a person grows up, even if it happens so early that he can't remember when he wasn't different from most other men.

In our ministry and the work of many psychiatrists, such as Dr. William Wilson, the conclusion is that the homosexual condition is usually a result of developmental factors. The two main factors seem to be 1) the lack of love or affirmation that we all need in growing up from the parent of the same sex, and 2) negative experiences leading to an aversion to the opposite sex.

For example, if a boy is not given the affection he needs from his father, he will have an emptiness, a void, that remains and seeks to be filled. If he meets an older man who senses that longing for love, and the older, experienced man offers affection coupled with physical sex, he may be drawn into the homosexual lifestyle.

Most importantly, the orientation itself — the longing for a man's love — is not abnormal. At a certain age it is normal (in a non–sexualized way), but the longing remains until it is met, or is somehow repressed. As Elizabeth Moberly, who has written extensively on this subject, says: the need for same sex love is not the problem; instead it is part of the solution. We believe, with many others, that the homosexual's need for love from someone of the same sex (ordinarily the parent) is a normal stage of development which, unmet, has become sexualized. The Good News of the Gospel is that this normal need for the love and affection of a father or mother can be filled by God the Father when we pray for inner healing. Only when that need is filled do we move on to an attraction for the opposite sex.

The answer lies in prayer for healing. Without healing, we are demanding that homosexuals live as celibates; no doubt some can, with God's grace, but the more normal solution for ordinary Christians is prayer for inner healing to transform their sexual attraction. Our experience in actually praying for homosexuals confirms this.

Several cautions should be added:

  1. Prayer for healing of homosexuality takes time. Although I know of several healings that were nearly instantaneous, most took much longer — for example, receiving prayer once a week for six months or more.
  2. Each person has his ( or her) story of how sexuality developed, and we need to avoid quick answers and formulas of prayer.
  3. The physical, sexual attraction is only the surface of the deeper areas that need healing.
  4. Above all, we need to be sensitive to the feelings of anger, fear and shame that the person with a homosexual orientation is likely to express, because society has lacked compassion and treated him or her as an outcast.

I began this article stating that several mainline churches are being torn apart by two irreconcilable positions regarding homosexual activity. What we propose is a third position — the healing of homosexuality — which contains those elements of truth that are in both of the opposing positions. A belief in Christ's healing power is the compassionate way to preserve the traditional Biblical understanding that homosexual acts are sinful.

But very few people have even heard that a homosexual orientation can be changed through prayer and the matchless power of the Holy Spirit. We not only affirm that such transformation is possible, but we have seen it happen.

The Good News is that Christ's healing is available to anyone of homosexual orientation who wishes to change.

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Fall 2000 Issue