SIX months into her marriage, the then 21-year-old Deedee was faced with a tough reality.
Her husband, whom she had dated for five years before marriage, started getting secretive, changing his passwords, and was constantly working. He would get angry all the time and start arguments as an excuse not to be around her. And he would confide in his male friends about her.
“I found out he had cheated through a number on Facebook and BB messages and texts that were on his phone. After I moved out, he confessed that he had been unfaithful for a very long time — with a male friend of his,” she said.
Like Deedee, a devout Christian, her husband had been involved in a number of church ministries, and had fooled everyone about his sexuality.
“It broke my heart, but a bigger betrayal happened after we decided to work on our marriage and his boyfriend tried to bash my head in when I found out that they had been living together and sleeping in what was supposed to be our bed. Being cheated on is a terrible experience for any woman, but when you’re cheated on with another man, it takes the heartbreak to another level. I wanted to die and I tried to kill myself. I cried every day and often cried myself to sleep.”
There had been whispers in the church before about Deedee’s husband, and she had been warned to take things slow. But because of his involvement in the church, she attributed the speculations to mere malicious gossip.
Three pastors had no problem marrying the couple, and their union was consummated in the usual way. And even after she was beaten by her husband’s lover, the church did not address the issue, and it was kept under the carpet until she gave a testimonial one day in service. After she spoke the church prayed for her, and the issue was never discussed again.
Deedee is now single and looking to migrate, and her ex-husband has left their church to minister at another.
Many churches believe that homosexuality is the kind of ‘sin’ that can be overcome by prayer or fasting, and that once ‘saved’ by prayer, a confessed former homosexual can embrace heterosexuality, go on to marry, and have a family. And many churches have the statistics and the confessions to back this belief up, confessions that are made at crusades and in testimonials at church.
But clinical sexologist and marriage and family therapist Dr Sidney McGill said it is a fallacy for churches to believe that they can pray the spirit of homosexuality out of an individual.
“Churches often turn a blind eye to these situations; it’s like a collective coping mechanism or even denial. Lots of gays are attracted to the church; it’s often a safe haven for them,” he said.
“And if you don’t enquire, the issue will not be raised. The Jamaican church is schizophrenic about ways of dealing with the homosexual church member. Many see homosexuality as a choice or an addiction that can be overcome by prayer, fasting and admonition. Others turn a blind eye to the person’s obvious homosexual behaviours and focus instead on the attributes and gifts of the person that enhance the church’s ministries — leading the praise and worship team, playing the organ, singing in the choir, teaching Sunday school or even preaching.”
A problem surfaces, however, when it comes time for coupling, and having been transformed, some of these former homosexuals pair with straight women as they continue their Christian journey. For some, they are able to build families; but for others, the struggle to leave their true nature behind affects them every day.
“Spouses who discover that their partners are homosexual have no alternative but to face them and facilitate an open and honest discussion on the future of the covenantal relationship,” said Reverend Karl Johnson, general secretary for the Jamaica Baptist Union.
“Such a relationship would have been based on the premise, a belief, in the fact that physical intimacy is demonstrated only in a heterosexual context, a premise which would now be under threat.”
Where cases like Deedee’s are concerned, Johnson suggests that an open discussion should occur between both parties who might have to face the reality of divorce.
He said though, that the issue of homosexuality in the church is a fact of life that should not be denied.
In cases where there are homosexuals in the church, Johnson said they should be treated with compassion and counselled.
“Seized and guided by the understanding of our missional mandate to reach and minister to all, we neither lash out nor cover up. Persons who are wrestling with issues of sexual orientation are treated with care and sensitivity as would anyone else. If a member of the church has contracted HIV/AIDS, for example, his or her membership status would not be affected or privileges of membership denied. Persons living with HIV/AIDS are accepted as members of the church through the normal routes.”
He added: “We do pray for them, as well as for ourselves, who struggle with living the gospel life, that God, by God’s spirit, will equip us with the strength and resources to do so faithfully. So we don’t waste much time debating the question of how one becomes a homosexual. Instead, we affirm that God isn’t lacking in resources to assist us, and in the instant case God is able to help us to resist, abstain and be celibate.”
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Modern churches have some serious problems–relative to their suppression of homosexuality. The biggest issue has to do with the fact that a lot of prominent church leaders are closeted homosexuals/lesbians…