building.jpgYet another evangelical pastor of a mega-church in Colorado has been shown to have a double life, publicly happily married – but privately engaging in sexual activity with other men. But unlike Ted Haggard and his anti-gay marriage efforts, Rev. Paul Barnes of Grace Chapel in Douglas County was not political in his efforts. And he did not try to cover up or lie when confronted.

Barnes has had a life-long conflict between what he has wanted for himself and his internal desires.

“I have struggled with homosexuality since I was a 5-year-old boy,” Barnes said in the 32- minute video, which church leaders permitted The Denver Post to view. “… I can’t tell you the number of nights I have cried myself to sleep, begging God to take this away.”

Those who have had difficulty reconciling their faith with their orientation can recognize the anguish in Barnes’ words. This is too often the experience that young gay men go through. And Barnes responded to his attractions in ways are also all too familiar.

When Barnes experienced a Christian conversion at 17, it gave him a glimmer of hope. But his homosexual feelings never went away, he said.

It is tragic and unconscionable that the evangelical Christian church still tells young people that becoming a Christian and placing faith in God will change their attractions. And yet as recently as this month, Randy Thomas, the communications director for Exodus said,

“When people can find their identity in God and not homosexuality, all their relationships shift, producing fruit–including healthy heterosexual relationships.”

It is hard to imagine that Barnes did not find his identity in God. He dedicated his life to God and doing his work and, from what we’ve heard to date, it does not appear that he did so out of a desire for his own praise or political power. And yet – though the world and his wife thought so – he did not have a “healthy heterosexual relationship”.

I wish Barnes well. And from the quotes from the other ministers associated with his church it seems that he will be treated with compassion, humility, and an effort to put the needs of the man ahead of the needs of the agenda.

But the sadness of this story is best put in Barnes’ own words.

Barnes expressed hope for a future where one can “be who you are” and be accepted and loved in the Christian community and also spoke about “separating some of the teachings from Scripture” from Jesus Christ.

I share his hope.

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