Thursday, May 19, 2005

ex-gay not easy but worth it

Susan Payne, 46, was a committed lesbian who had her first same-sex relationship at age 13. The hardship of being an adolescent "who didn't want to go the prom" led Payne into alcohol and drug abuse, she said. But at age 23, she discovered a lunchtime Bible study at her workplace. Not previously religious, she said, "I heard a lot of truth there."

Payne gradually left her hard-partying life, but was afraid to discuss her same-sex relationships with fellow Christians. When she did divulge her own background to another woman in her Bible study, the woman "didn't bat an eyelash," said Payne. "She just said, 'Let's pray together and see what the Bible says.'

"From reading the [book of] Romans, I realized that I was settling for less. God designed us to be for the opposite sex," Payne said. In the first chapter of St. Paul's letter to the Romans, found in the New Testament, Paul describes God's wrath against a faithless people, whom he punished by "giving them over to shameful lusts" such as homosexual desires.

That conversation started Payne down a path of spiritual transformation that eventually led to her now-12-year-old marriage. In the mid-'80s, she joined a group for Christians struggling with "unwanted" same-sex attractions called Regeneration, which started in Baltimore in 1979.

Self, sex and Christ: For some gays, sexual preference can be decided through faith

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