• January 2012

    This year began with a rather exceptional event for me—a great beginning to the New Year which is so often rather dull in the UK with short days and dismal weather! I was invited to be keynote speaker at the GCN (Gay Christian Network) conference in Orlando, Florida for the first weekend (5th - 8th January). GCN kindly paid for Bren to come with me too. You can find out more about GCN and the conference here.

    Here we are, enjoying one of the sessions.

    The title for my talk was, “Crossing the Rubicon”—an old-fashioned idiom which essentially means to pass the point of no return. My message for the conference was basically that, although so many gay people experience a profound sense of “Crossing the Rubicon” when they come out as gay, knowing that once this is known people will never forget it and will judge them accordingly, there is a much more important sense for us as Christians: this is the point where we give our lives to Christ. Because most of us live in “Christian” nations, where at least the churches have long been established and we are not persecuted for our faith in Christ, nevertheless, that decision we make to follow Christ is also a point of no return, the point when our lives change forever. And if we are not careful, as gay Christians, we can get so preoccupied with trying to work our life and faith out in churches that don’t want us or accept us, that we can forget the real impetus for our lives—which must always be our own personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Nobody can take that away from us.

    In the workshop that followed, we had a fascinating 90-minute Q&A session that was very far-ranging in scope. One of the great things about speaking in the USA is that the Americans are always so enthusiastic, appreciative and never shy to speak up! So we had a great time.

    Another very significant part of the conference for me was sitting on a panel with Justin Lee and several other key leaders known to me, to interview Alan Chambers, the current president of Exodus North America. Having been part of the ex-gay movement myself in the past and President of Exodus Europe back in the 1990's, I was quite surprised that Alan Chambers even came to the conference since, as gay Christians, we are very much perceived as “the enemy” in Exodus circles. His own compatriots would almost certainly see him as “supping with the devil” in coming, and I wonder how long he will keep his job?! On the other hand, many Christians who have suffered greatly at the hands of the ex-gay movement seemed horrified that Justin Lee should even have invited Alan for discussion. I should note here that those who protested the loudest were not present at the event itself, where Justin Lee was given a standing ovation at the end. I don’t think that Alan gave anything away really, except to admit that 99% of people he knew in the ex-gay movement had never actually experienced a change of sexual orientation. However, I believe Justin’s motives were very honourable, in attempting to build bridges and reduce the polarisation that is so damaging in Christian circles.

    We have all been on a long and sometime tortuous journey to self-acceptance, by the grace of God, and we have to respect that not everybody has yet reached that point of acceptance.

    Jeremy Marks, 24th January 2012

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