One of the most divisive issues in the church and society today is homosexual orientation. Are people born gay? Is it possible to change? Focus on the Family tackled this topic Nov. 2 at its Love Won Out conference in Washington, D.C.

 

"We are motivated out of concern for those who feel trapped by homosexuality," says John Paulk, a former homosexual who hosted the one-day conference. "Contrary to popular opinion, many people struggle with unwanted homosexuality and do not know that change is possible. This conference is a place for them to find the help and hope that I and thousands of other men and women have found."

 

Love Won Out is led by former homosexuals who are experts in the field of gender identity. They address topics such as the clinical development of homosexuality; the relationship between homosexuality and genetics; the pro-homosexual agenda in public schools; homosexual recovery; and the responsibility of Christians to offer an appropriate, compassionate response to the homosexual community. Special sessions for teachers, pastors and parents are available and local ministries and organizations offer resources.

 

Focus on the Family has shared this message with more than 14,000 men and women who have attended the ministry's Love Won Out conferences since 1998. In the last year, the conference has seen nearly a 25 percent increase in attendance; future conferences are scheduled through 2003.

 

Meet One Who Has

 

"But can homosexuals really change?" you may wonder. If so, listen to Mike Haley's response: "Absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt. There are thousands of men and women that I personally know who have. It is possible and the church needs to begin to believe it and help those who really want out."

 

In an interview with Crosswalk.com, Haley, a former homosexual, shared his story of struggle and transformation. "It is proven that while it is very hard to come out of homosexuality, those who are driven and find hope and support and help from those around them are the ones who make it out."

 

Haley was raised in the church - born into a family with a very strong Christian heritage. "But," says Haley, "the church that I grew up in had the attitude that there is a hotter place in hell for those who struggle with homosexuality. It became a very uncomfortable place to be for me as a young boy and adolescent struggling with this issue. It wasn't a place where I felt I could go for help. It wasn't a church that stood the ground of being truthful about what God says in regards to the issue of homosexuality. And it was not loving to those who are lost.

 

"I think had the church done that," he adds, "I might have searched for help. But, instead, I got a one-sided story."