SPECIAL REPORT: Sexuality and Spirituality

Can a gay person go straight? Many Christian groups say yes. Others say a person is born gay and can't change.

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA (November 18, 2009) NBC News Augusta by: Arielle Clay – Story Published: Nov 17, 2009 at 6:14 PM EST

Can a gay person go straight? Many Christian groups say yes. Others say a person is born gay and can’t change.

In this special report, NBC Augusta 26 News takes a closer look at this debate.

“A homosexual was a neighbor of mine and came on to me and I relented and came into the homosexual lifestyle,” Interim Directorsaid.
Game used to be gay.

“Felt homosexual from a very young age, probably around 5 or 6 years old that was not sexualized until puberty,” Game said.

He is a Southern Baptist minister who lived as a gay man for three and a half years.

“Really going from relationship to relationship, and as I said at one time I put my hand to my heart and said there’s just a void,” Game said.

To fill the emptiness he felt, Game says he gave his life to Christ and started what he calls his journey to becoming a man.

“I always say I walked away from homosexuality. It didn’t walk away from me. I had to leave it,” Game said.

To understand Game’s explanation of how he was able to leave homosexuality he says you first have to understand what he thinks causes it.

“People are basically found with same sex attractions. That’s why they believe they’re born homosexual because they never made a decision,” Game said.

Game doesn’t believe a person is born gay but unlike many conservative ministers he doesn’t think it’s a choice. For Game it comes down to how you are raised.

“If my wife is way more interesting than me and I’m abusive or way more passive, then my son’s not going to be excited to be like me,” he said.

That means, Game says, his son would associate with his mother; see himself as a woman’s equal, not opposite and thus, like men.

“I realized I didn’t know what it was to be a man. I didn’t have a relationship with my father. I didn’t have a relationship with young boys or men. I thought I understood women,” Game said.

With his theory Game began his quest to manhood. To help he’s taken up traditionally masculine activities, made male friends and yes, even married a woman.

“I was actually excited to see that I was aroused by my wife but it was through the relationship building,” Game said.

But many question: Is the attraction gone or are Game and others like him willing themselves out of a lifestyle their faith has preached against since their childhood. That’s what Susan Venable thinks.

“They tried to pray the gay out but it didn’t work,” Venable said.

Venable also grew up Southern Baptist. She came out to her parents at 16.

“They wanted me to see a religious counselor much like one of the truth ministry things. I think my dad even called them for advice,” Venable said.

But it wasn’t just Venable’s parents. Even she tried to “go back into the closet” after dealing with the rejection at home and in her church. Venable believes the loneliness is why many people try to become ex-gay.

“What your beliefs are being raised and what you grow up to be are totally conflicting. That’s very tormenting and they didn’t want to feel that anymore,” Venable said.

Venable who believes homosexuality is genetic says you can’t stop being homosexual.

“I can no more make myself straight than I can will the color of my hair to change. Sure I can dye it brown but my roots are still going to be blonde,” Venable said.

Still Game insists you can stop being gay and it’s not genetic. That doesn’t mean, however, that he doesn’t feel temptations.

“When I struggle, If I’m going to struggle it’s most likely going to be after the attributes of a perfect male than it is a perfect female,” Game said.

One of those struggles led to a fall two years into his marriage. He cheated on his wife with a man.

“Coming out of homosexuality it’s like trying to learn a bike. You’re going to fall a bunch of times. I just kept getting back on the bike and riding,” Game said.

What it comes down to is a difference in fundamental beliefs. One side sees homosexuality as another sin to overcome.

“I take up my cross and I follow Him. If having same sex attractions is my cross I’m okay with that,” Game said.

The other side sees it as the life they were destined to live.

“I know if I was to find a man and marry him that still doesn’t make me straight,” Venable said.

Both say they’re at peace with their spirituality and sexuality.

Suzanne Venable is now Unitarian and attends the Unitarian Universalist Church of Augusta.

Interim Directoris the founder of Hope for Wholeness – an organization that helps deliver people from homosexuality. There’s a branch in Aiken.

We want to hear from you – can a gay person go straight? Answer our web poll on the right hand side of the NBC Augusta home page.

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