Healing Line

Healing Line

Why I Wrote a Book on Homosexuality

by Francis MacNutt
Sep/Oct 2006

Like most of you, Judith and I share the pain of many friends who are members of churches that are being torn apart by the issue of homosexuality. We have dear friends on both sides of the divide. We also think we have learned something about healing that could lead to solving the conflicting opinions about homosexuality. We also believe that we haven’t as yet had a real opportunity to share what we have learned and experienced.

That’s the reason I wrote a short, easy to read, book entitled Can Homosexuality Be Healed? (Chosen Books). In it I share several key ideas which some Christians have not yet heard. The basic key we want to share with you, naturally, in relation to the healing ministry, is that homosexuality can be healed. By this we mean that someone whose sexual orientation is directed to the same sex, can become a heterosexual through Jesus’ saving power when we pray. We believe this, not only theoretically but we have seen it happen over a period of many years.

Again, in our experience, most church leaders are not aware that such a change is even possible!

The common belief, reinforced by gay activists, is that their orientation is 1) genetic, and 2) unchangeable.

Therefore, they propose that the true Christian response is for the church to accept the homosexual community and also to accept their homosexual lifestyle. “Inclusivity” is the key word. To those churches who disagree with them and teach that sexual activity directed to the same sex is forbidden by Scripture (e.g. Leviticus 20:13 and Romans 1:26-27), the homosexual activists respond by saying, “I was born this way, and this orientation just doesn’t change. I was born as a sexual human being, and my emotional drive to union with the person I love needs to be expressed. I am not a celibate, and it’s wrong for you to demand that I live without a sexual companion.” Otherwise, as one older homosexual wrote to me, “The loneliness that I feel in my life is overwhelming.” This man is living a single life but “the discouragement and loneliness at times are unbearable.”

For traditionalists who support the stand that same-sex intercourse is wrong, it seems harsh to insist on living out this norm with only the help of willpower. A few homosexuals, like the elderly man I just quoted, can sustain a sexless lifestyle, but most cannot sustain such a lonely life.

In our experience, the homosexual orientation can be changed, but most church leaders have never heard of this possibility, so they face a dilemma: they either have to accept an active homosexual lifestyle, or they simply condemn homosexual actions without offering the help that most homosexuals need to change. Where are the church leaders who can say, “We understand your pain. We also know that you probably didn’t choose the homosexual lifestyle. We understand why you are angry with us because we simply condemn your lifestyle without reaching out to help you. But now we are here to help you if only you will give us a chance to pray with you for healing.”

This is the great secret that we would like to share with the church in a way that makes sense — spiritual, scriptural and human. Unfortunately, only a few Christians know that homosexuals who wish to change their orientation can actually change and become heterosexual.

Consequently, when we speak to homosexual audiences about the possibility of healing, they often become angry — understandably so, because by speaking about their healing you are implying that they are sick. They reject the label of being considered sick because they have so often been condemned by Christians; they naturally react strongly to one more condemnation.

The evangelist Tony Campolo, who struggles between the desire to be faithful to Scripture and, at the same time, to be loving to homosexuals, writes about his interior conflict:

  During a particular research project, I interviewed more than 300 gay men and found not one who had chosen to be homosexual…. For the 300 men I interviewed, the imprinting of the orientation occurred so early in their psychosocial development that none could remember ever making a choice. Yet I often hear Christian preachers say that homosexuals have decided to be other than God intended them to be.1  

No wonder most homosexuals believe their orientation was given by nature, and thereby God–given, rather than something they purposely chose. Since they usually have had to face a painful struggle to accept their orientation — and to accept themselves — we can understand why they fight to keep their hard-earned sexual identity and eagerly join the homosexual community, who will understand and love them.

Understandable as these strong feelings are, we also know that homosexuality can be changed. In order, however, for church leaders to come to realize that change is possible, several misunderstandings have to be directly confronted, the most obvious being the misconception that homosexuality is a condition that cannot be changed.

What most people don’t realize is that even secular psychotherapy has a considerable success rate in re–directing the homosexual’s lifestyle. For example, a summary of scientific studies from 1930 to 1986 reveals a composite success rate of more than 50% — success meaning anywhere from “considerable” to complete success. Even so, the American Psychiatric Association (in 1973) struck homosexuality from its list of illnesses. This dramatic change was largely due to gay activists exerting extreme pressure on the Association, even at a time when 69% of psychiatrists disagreed with the vote and still considered homosexuality a disorder.2 The same kind of pressure is now inside the churches, and anyone who states that the homosexual lifestyle is wrong will risk being labeled homophobic and is likely to be asked, “If scientists and the APA consider homosexuality normal, why do you stubbornly remain in your prejudiced ignorance?”

Prayer for Healing

Well beyond what counseling can do, what we want to add to the issue of homosexuality is the possibility of Jesus changing the homosexual’s sexual orientation and re–directing it to the opposite sex. Except for a few strong Christian organizations like Exodus and Regeneration, and authors such as Leanne Payne and David Kyle Foster, few prominent Christians speak of the very real possibility of homosexuals receiving inner healing to help them become heterosexual.

To us, healing prayer seems to be the only viable option for those Christians who believe that living a homosexual lifestyle is wrong. Without a real belief in healing, a Christian traditionalist can only offer homosexuals a command to repent, which will lead the homosexual to respond in anger or despair. Our belief and experience leads us to proclaim that healing does take place when we pray for inner healing and, occasionally, deliverance. We personally believe that the success rate of this approach is close to 100%.

The one caution, and it is a big one, is that this usually takes time. Rarely have we seen a homosexual healed with only one prayer or one session;  the ordinary process takes perhaps six months, with an hour’s session once a week. The basic issue does not usually stay in the physical, sexual level but goes much deeper. For example, the male homosexual may not have received the love he needed from his father, and his homosexual activities are an attempt to fill up that void in his life.

But where do we find Christians who do not condemn homosexuals themselves but do not agree with them that homosexual activities (some 80% engage in anal intercourse) are morally acceptable? In addition, where do we find mature Christians who understand how to pray for inner healing and are willing to spend the time to pray the homosexual into the fullness of life?

And that’s why I wrote the book, Can Homosexuality Be Healed? I wanted to offer hope to those churches who believe that Jesus can change the homosexual’s orientation and, beyond that, will raise up a whole generation of wise prayer ministers who will see the homosexual through to his or her complete transformation.

Unless we really believe in prayer for healing, we are condemning the homosexual community into accepting their condition and the churches into being tempted into accepting their lifestyle.

(Footnotes)
1 "Holding it Together," Sojourners, May-June 1999, p. 28,30.
2 Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, p. 218. This is an excellent book by a Jewish psychiatrist, it gives much of the background of the inner struggles of the psychiatrists in the face of the gay activism.


Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Sep/Oct 2006 Issue


A Return to an Old Battleground

by Francis MacNutt
Sep/Oct 2006

We have received many letters commenting on the article I wrote in The Healing Line two issues ago (May–June), in which I critiqued the study that the Templeton Foundation sponsored. This study claimed that their researchers found no evidence that distant healing prayer actually helped patients recover from heart operations. We could let it go at what I already have written, but I think we need to say more about that study (titled STEP), because it seems to have influenced some already skeptical Christian leaders and now gives them a “scientific” basis for discouraging people from expectantly praying for the sick. As one clever cynic once said: “Blessed are those who expect nothing, for they shall not be disappointed.” (Naturally, since we have given our lives to help in restoring Jesus’ healing ministry, we react when people suggest that nothing happens when we pray.)

As an example of how some pastors have been affected, one friend of mine requested that a friend who was emotionally ill and suicidal be anointed in the Sacrament of the Sick; the priest in charge of the service refused him because one requirement for the Last Rites is that the sick person be “in danger of death.” A short time later, the patient killed himself. You cannot, of course, prove that he still would be alive if he had been anointed, but I suggest that it is spiritual abuse to withhold prayer when the prayer might have helped remove his depression.

And others have told me that their desire to hold healing services has been turned down because the STEP study “proves that intercessory prayer” doesn’t help. As the Associated Press headline claimed, “Prayer has no Effect in Study.” If you are a Christian, you certainly would wonder how you reconcile that statement with what you read in Scripture: “The prayer of faith will heal the sick man” (James 5:15a).

Beyond this, my problem with the STEP study is not simply religious, it’s scientific. And it’s precisely this: “What were the qualifications of the intercessors who were chosen to pray?” In our experience, it makes a great deal of difference whether or not the ones praying for healing have expectant faith.  (“Expectant faith” does not mean that the intercessors are certain that every physically sick person they pray for will be healed.) What we do know from reading Scripture is that:

1)    God encourages us to pray for healing (e.g. Luke 10:9).

2)    Jesus tells us to expect that the prayer will be answered (Mt. 7:7-11). (Will God hand us a stone when we ask for bread?)

3)    Jesus blames his followers when they do not heal the epileptic demoniac (Mt. 17:14-20), and he tells them that they failed because “you have little faith.”

In short, the New Testament teaches that faith is a key ingredient in the success of our prayers for the sick. What has always challenged me has been to consider that although Jesus’ disciples did believe in him, and they were a chosen group, their measure of faith was still not enough. Faith-in-healing, according to the Gospels, is clearly a necessary condition for healing to take place. “Your faith has restored you to health, Jesus tells the woman with the flow of blood who touched the hem of his garment” (Mt. 9:22b).1

If an intercessor’s faith in prayer is a major factor in whether or not a sick person actually gets better, you would think that anyone doing a rigorous study on the effectiveness of intercessory prayer would check on the belief systems of the intercessors.

As far as we can judge, this was not done. What kind of faith did the three groups of intercessors have who prayed for the 1,802 cardiac patients? What did they believe?

As we mentioned in my earlier article in The Healing Line, two of the three groups chosen as intercessors were Catholic contemplative nuns. These groups pray for hours every day, and their lives center on prayer. They surely are wonderful, dedicated communities of Christian women. None of that is being called into question.

What is at question is whether or not they had expectant faith for healing — in other words, whether they believed that physical healing would commonly take place when they prayed. Unless they have been introduced to charismatic renewal, Catholic nuns brought up in traditional spirituality tend to see sickness as a God–sent trial; they may simply pray that the sick patients will endure their suffering with patience. If the sick can peacefully accept their pain, it’s proof of their love, a kind of martyrdom.

Way back in 1974, I wrote that Catholics typically seemed to have little belief that their prayers would have any extraordinary effect.2 This might still hold true for the two groups of nuns chosen as intercessors for the study. At the very least, their beliefs should have been checked out. I think it extraordinary, too, that the researchers claimed that they “were unable to locate other Christian, Jewish, or non–Christian groups that could receive the daily prayer list required for this multi–year study.”3 We here at CHM have about 550 intercessors to whom we send prayer requests for healing, and we are in touch with numerous other groups who believe in the effectiveness of distant prayer.

The third group chosen as intercessors was the Unity Church. A number of people have written to point out, rightly, that I confused this group with the Unitarian church. Half a dozen mentioned that they had benefited from the prayers they had requested from the Unity group in Lee’s Summit, MO. So, I apologize for that confusion.

The Unity Church stresses love, the basic goodness of all creation, and definitely believes in praying for healing. Their prayers are addressed to God, but they do not single out Jesus as being the Son of God and our Savior. Whether or not this makes a difference would make a prayer-study in itself, but does it make a difference here?

All these questions need to be asked in regard to choosing the intercessors in this, the most extensive study ever undertaken on this subject, which is now being used to cast doubt on the value of intercessory prayer.

Beyond that, a further, scientific question that must be asked is: How can people jump from the results of a study which examines the results of praying in a way which most of us

 

do not pray (namely, a double-blind study, just receiving a person’s name without ever meeting the patient),

while not examining the results of praying in the way most of us actually do pray (namely, meeting the patients, talking with them, learning to love them, saying a prayer in their presence while also laying hands on them).

 

We understand the need for researchers to do double-blind studies, but it means they cannot study how we actually pray; instead, they examine what we do not do. Then they conclude that intercessory prayer doesn’t work. Because this study of what–we–don’t–do indicates that not much happens, skeptics can now leap to an illogical, irrational conclusion: how we really pray is scientifically shown to be ineffective.

“Intercessory prayer doesn’t work” in the AP headline is assumed by skeptics to show that intercessory prayer is a waste of time. They don’t seem to realize that they are making a demonstrably illogical leap. In the name of science, they are being unscientific.

Just because they studied 1,802 cardiac patients, the impression given is that this STEP study is the ultimate, exhaustive, conclusive work. But you can see that there is a crack in its very foundation.

The Rheumatoid Arthritis Study

We actually did conduct a medical study investigating the results of praying for the sick in the way we ordinarily do.

To show that prayer for healing really does produce results, we collaborated with Dale Matthews, M.D., and Sally Marlowe, N.P. (who directed a pain–arthritis clinic in Florida) and prayed for about 40 patients who were suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.4 We chose this disease simply because there is no known medical cure for the condition. We thought that if the patients received demonstrable healing, it would be worthy of scientific attention. After all, if a medically incurable disease gets cured, the normal human response is to ask why. We worked with these patients in the way in which we ordinarily do: we talked with them spent time with them and prayed with them. Furthermore, we tried to discover if there were any underlying spiritual conditions that might have caused the arthritis. The results were astonishing and were published in the Southern Medical Journal, December 2000.

Of course, this was not a double-blind study. We reasoned that if the patients improved following prayer, the logical conclusion would be that prayer probably does have an effect. Most of the patients did experience measurable changes, and four seem to have been totally cured. The chances of all this happening by chance were .0001 (and anything better than .04 is statistically significant).

Furthermore, the study was financed by the Templeton Foundation, the same Foundation that financed the STEP study! And yet, as far as we know, the AP did not publicize the results to the same extent as the STEP study.

If all these studies were simply speculative, we really wouldn’t care that much. Just let it go. But here it makes a huge difference, because many sick people who might be healed through prayer may be deprived of the prayer they need because doctors, ministers, priests, counselors, nurses, and just ordinary people might be discouraged from praying for the sick. Besides, all this comes just at a time when ordinary people are discovering that Jesus really did come to our hurting world with “healing in his wings.”

That’s the reason why we take issue to what some people are assuming that the STEP study is proving. And we object not just on religious grounds. We object to its conclusions on the researchers’ own grounds —

the very grounds of science and reason.

(Footnotes)
1 In my book Power to Heal (Ave Maria Press, 1977) I wrote extensively on the faith-to-be-healed issue in Chapter 10, “What is God’s Will in Relation to Healing?” and in the two Appendices.
2 Power to Heal, p. 128.
3American Heart Journal, Vol. 151, No. 4, p. 935.
4 A touching video record of this study, showing how the arthritis sufferers responded to prayer, is entitled “Shall We Pray? and is available from our CHM bookstore.


Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Sep/Oct 2006 Issue


Praise the Lord and Give Thanks

Compiled by Anne Early
Sep/Oct 2006

School of Healing Prayer Level II:

•    “It was a gift of God for me to be at the School of Healing Prayer Level II at all, because I did not have any money after paying bills.  The Lord provided every cent, and I was able to go.  During worship one morning, a friend asked if she could pray for me while I worshipped.  The power of the Lord came strongly, and when she finished praying, I sat down and laughed.  The Lord said, ‘I’ve restored your joy.’  The next morning when we heard the teaching on depression, I realized I had been in depression for a couple of months.  The Lord healed it without my being aware it was even there.  Praise Him!  After several more prayer sessions I feel lighter, taller, more peaceful, and, for the first time in my life, I am thrilled to be a woman.  I had no idea what was in store for me at CHM.  I now have a deeper understanding of God’s desire and power to abundantly bless beyond what we can ask or imagine.  Hallelujah!”

IPM, May 2006:

•    “My prayer ministers helped me deal with long-time issues stemming from my relationship with my parents.  There was an unresolved forgiveness issue when my dad died.  I now feel his forgiveness and have offered mine.  I feel very encouraged and very powerful in prayer.  All doubts and trepidation about the power of prayer have been removed.”

•    “I came here feeling like the worst person in the world, feeling very guilty.  I found out there were about 40 other guilty ones!  I have forgiven myself, and I am going home a happy person.”

•    “’I have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!’  I’ve sung it everywhere.  My friend came for intensive prayer ministry in January, and she has been different in such a good way — living in a different level.  I want to thank the prayer ministers, because you not only have prayed for us, you set an example.  You are on the journey, too.”

•    “I came from California to learn about the healing ministry because of a prophecy that was spoken over me, saying that I would be given a healing ministry.  I have encountered two major losses in my life, so have been seeking healing of grief.  The Lord has done much more than expected; He has healed my ‘woundedness’ — a healing God started years ago, but this one is much deeper.”  

From Our Mail and Email:

•    “When Francis and Judith laid hands on me and prayed during Randy Clark’s training in St. Louis, Missouri, my tumor shrank from a 2.5 to a 1.5.  God is truly working miracles.”

•    “After attending a healing prayer group with a patient of mine, her necrotic/gangrenous foot healed within two days.  I had been treating her for more than a year, then I stumbled across your book Healing.  My medical talents from God have increased and I have experienced patient healings that I, as a physician, could not do.  As a Roman Catholic Christian with faith, I see no bounds.  I have watched my uncle, Fr. John Campoli in New Jersey, heal with the Spirit but never thought it could happen through me — until I read your book.”

•    “While at the Fishnet Conference in Vermont this year, Fr. Nigel Mumford had a word of knowledge about someone’s right hip being healed.  Up until that night I had suffered with pain in my right hip, especially while walking or doing any physical activity.  I claimed my healing and I noticed, that evening, that the pain was gone.  The following morning, the same thing; later that night, no pain.  Back home and on vacation, still no pain; and as I type this to you, yes, you’re right, NO PAIN!  Praise the Lord.”

•    “Praise be to God the Father, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, and the Paraclete — the Holy Spirit!  Your prayers at CHM have changed me, my whole family, and the friends around me.  Thank you, thank you.  Thank you, Francis and Judith, for being such a wonderful inspiration for young people who want to help others.  Amen!  Thanks for giving a young guy hope that it will all work out, somehow, and that God loves me.  Amen.”

•    “My wife and I were joyous when we learned we were expecting our first child.  Sadly, after seven weeks we lost that child through a miscarriage.  Our hearts were broken.  The day after the miscarriage, your book Praying for Your Unborn Child arrived.  It had been ordered a week earlier.  Although our hearts were filled with grief, your book provided much comfort and healing.  Praise God for your book.”

•    “My 19-year-old son was delivered of spirits of betrayal and addiction following the Emerging Leaders in Healing Conference held in Falls Church, Virginia, in May 2005.   For 12 months he has remained free of methamphetamine addiction and other destructive behaviors, has finished high school, and now is in college and working 30 hours each week.  He testifies to his healing with great joy.  Family relationships have mended.  Praise God.”

•    “I have been breast-cancer free for 13 years.  I received healing prayer in your ministry.  Praise God!”

Azusa Street Centennial Celebration:

•    From a CHM board member/volunteer prayer minister:  “Just before Judith spoke, another prayer minister and I prayed for Shelly, a victim of multiple sclerosis who had been confined to a wheelchair for 30 years.  Two other CHM prayer ministers and the whole section of attendees in front of whom we were praying joined us in prayer. Shelly stood up and took ten steps forward, then ten steps backward!  There was so much rejoicing and praising God as Shelly stood up and took those ten baby steps, forward and backward.  It was awesome!  The doctor was in the house!  Thank you, Jesus!”  

More Miracles as verbally reported:

•    A CHM prayer minister (who we will call Sue*) visited a charismatic church while on vacation.  As she glanced around and saw a particular young man (who we will call Dave*), the Lord told her He wanted to heal him.  A moment later she heard from the Lord that Dave’s legs were of uneven length, one shorter than the other.  Fifteen minutes before the service ended, Dave got up and left.  Since Sue felt that the Lord wanted her to pray with Dave, she inquired of a few people (all strangers to her) if they knew him.  When they said they did, she asked, “Is one of his legs longer than the other?”  They looked surprised and said, “Yes, but how did you know?”  (Sue had noticed only a slight unevenness in Dave’s gait as he had walked out of the church.)  Sue then shared with Dave’s friends what she had heard from the Lord, and they arranged for her to have an appointment to pray for him.   

One other woman, a strong believer in healing, joined Sue as she met to pray with Dave.  As Sue took Dave’s feet in her hands and slightly pulled on his legs, she could see that one leg was three to five inches shorter than the other.  Sue and her companion started praying, with Dave’s feet resting on Sue’s knees as she held his ankles and heels in her hands.  She prayed fervently in the Spirit for the Lord to lengthen the shorter leg, and prayed for inner healing, too, as she talked with Dave and learned that his leg and foot had been like that from birth.  He told of having suffered a lot of rejection.  A few minutes into the praying time Dave started experiencing pain.  Sue rebuked the pain but it did not immediately go away.  She asked the Lord where it was coming from.  The Lord replied to Dave rather than to Sue, saying that it was “growing pain.”  Prayers for inner healing continued.  Dave shared with Sue that he always had thought the Lord made him that way to help him sympathize with other people.  In the course of the prayer, the Lord came to him and let him know that He was sad that Dave had felt that way, because He had NOT wanted him to suffer.  When the Lord told Dave He did not want him to suffer, the shorter leg started growing and continued to grow until it was the same length as the other one.  Dave quietly cried tears of thankfulness as his leg gradually grew — described by Sue as “a quiet, sweet, gentle man praising God.”

The Lord told Sue to stop praying for the growing and to wash Dave’s feet.  Dave’s socks had not been removed, and he told Sue he was embarrassed for her to see his feet.  Sue replied, “Do you know who is not?”  Realizing God’s love for him, Dave removed his socks to reveal a seriously flat foot that was curved from the side, almost in the shape of a half-moon, and a twisted ankle.  Sue obeyed the Lord’s instruction and poured water over the foot.  As she and the other woman prayed, the flat, curved foot slowly began to change.  The arch began to fill out and the abnormal side curve began to straighten.  Sue then poured water over the twisted ankle, and it also started straightening.  By the time the prayer and the washing of the foot were finished, Dave’s legs were the same length and his foot and ankle appeared to be normal.  No longer would he have to wear a lift in his left shoe.  Praise God!

*Pseudonyms have been used for the purpose of confidentiality.

Speak, for your servant is listening (1 Samuel 3:10b NIV).

And whatever you ask in my name, that I will do,
 that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:13 NKJV).

 

(The Praise Reports have been edited for readability.)


Sep/Oct 2006 Issue