Accepting the help of a Christian support group is a legitimate alternative.
John Townsend, a writer for Lavender magazine, wrote a commentary ("What I wrote in Lavender, and why," July 5) attacking me and the Catholic support group Courage, which I was attending. This is a group for Christian men who struggle to overcome same-sex attraction.
Townsend had lied his way into this confidential group in order to attend and expose my presence there. This was done because of my public stance against homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage.
It is true that I attended this group. But contrary to what Townsend and the Lavender article strongly implied, I have never engaged in homosexual behavior. An internal investigation by my congregation concluded: "We find no evidence from any sources we examined or people we interviewed to indicate that Pastor Brock had engaged in any physical contact or in a homosexual relationship of any type."
The truth is that I have been celibate my whole life.
Townsend also states that we believe "unrepentant homosexual activity damns to hellfire." I do believe this, as it is the teaching of the Bible and the historic teaching of the Church that persisting in any lifestyle of sin (not only homosexuality) without repentance and faith in Christ will exclude people from the kingdom of God (I Corinthians 6:9-11). Townsend states there is "psychological abuse" going on in this Catholic support group. No -- we pray together and counsel each other how to remain pure.
While I am disappointed that the reporter and Lavender magazine have breached journalistic ethics, I have chosen to forgive them. My prayer is that some good can come out of this. I hope people will discover that there are thousands of people with unwanted same-sex attraction who have joined similar groups around the country and have found there is hope in Jesus Christ for transformation of life. In other words, there are options other than simply "giving in" to these attractions.
This is also supported by empirical research. An article published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior by Columbia University Prof. Robert Spitzer found in a study of 200 men and women who had received counseling that they were able to change their orientation from homosexual to heterosexual in varying degrees.
Even if strong change in orientation does not come, it is evident that one's attractions do not define one's identity. For instance, merely being tempted to steal does not make one a thief. In the same way, having same-sex attraction does not make one a homosexual. The biblical condemnation of homosexuality is directed towards those who engage in same-sex behavior, not those who are merely tempted.
After this story broke, a member of my support group called me and said that the one thing the homosexual community never hears from a person in the Christian community is, "I have this struggle, but you can have this struggle, still say 'no' to it, and follow Jesus."
This is a message I believe I will now be able to share.
Tom Brock is pastor at Hope Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.