Originally seen on: TALKHILLCREST
Sean Sala a national LGBT policy activist and a survivor of gay reparative therapy who was featured on “God and Gays” with Lisa Ling is speaking out on the pastoral work of Kegan Wesley.
Sala’s open letter to Kegan Wesley is below:
I remember sitting in a church energized, on fire and ready to make a stand for God in my generation. Nothing seemed to be able to stand in my way and I would let nothing alter me from that path.
I also remember sitting in the small chapel at (the former) Christian Life Assembly and weeping – crying out to God from the deepest part of my person, “why am I like this when I don’t want it at all?”
The week prior I had shared my “struggle” with being gay to my youth group. I even told them God had “delivered me.” That following Sunday I was removed from every position of leadership, called a “fag” in front of adults in my church and was systematically forced out of that church for simply sharing the most common thing that I had with other people, that I am a human.
I left Christian Life Assembly and began working under a new youth pastor at an Assemblies of God Church down the road under a pastor who became one of my most dear friends. During those years, I had a very troubled home life.
Many of the affiliates of the now debunked Exodus International and Living Hope Ministries said that my attractions to men were due to my parent’s divorce. The reality was, I grew up with two brothers and a father who was very present in my life. A Christian counselor told me years before I even went to Exodus that “you’re spending too much time with you mother” when she ended up being the bedrock of my family a just, good, righteous woman who put her needs before my own for years.
This was another of many attempts to justify, rationalize or pin-point “some reason” for me being gay. Hell, being young at that age growing up in Dallas, Texas in the midst of the Bible belt, I too wanted a “way out”! I would do anything.
Years later, I became a pillar of not only my church but also regionally as the poster-child for youth to “come to Christ.” In high school I dedicated almost 60-hours a week to ministry and by the time I left, I had been a major participant in church and the ministry for almost a decade. I gave my life, and sold out to the Lord.
I began training on “Mega Church/Mega Youth” ministry. I was ready and by the time that I was about to open the door to my “great life” in ministry, I had a realization. One night, I was setting up chairs for a youth service and a voice hit me like a ton of bricks: “Get out of the Church!”
I was stunned. I will never forget that moment.
Before I joined the military, Exodus International’s books had been a pivotal part of my life. I had read the books, participated in the online discussions and finally in a leap of faith, I started to attend counseling sessions with other people who shared a similar struggle. The promotions were flashy, much like your promotions of “Such Were Some Of You.” They branded “Change is possible, I have changed and Christ can set you free.” The shiny glamorous promise was on the outside, but within were men and women who had been in these programs for decades, pouring their money, blood sweat and tears into reparative therapy – to no avail.
I have heard your heartbreaking story of your 10th birthday party. It was similar to the heartbreaking story of Ricky, the “reparative therapy expert,” I was working under in Living Hope. Ricky had shared that his grandfather had molested him for decades which lead to his “confusion,” just like you have stated.
He said he gave his life to Jesus and one day “in the shower” he just realized that he “liked boobs.” On top of that, he wanted to know (especially within the younger group sessions) how many times we masturbated during the week, what we thought about and more prying details that have zero Biblical foundations in the life of Christ.
When I came to a Exodus International I initially met a different affiliate minister to find this group, it was a weird and awkward phone call. I called the number listed on Exodus’ website and explained that I wanted to change, and I was given an address to go to a local Church of Christ in the area and in walked a “delivered” minister (who was, as they say, “gayer than a two-dollar bill”). At this moment I had not yet met Ricky, who was “gay”as well. Much like you try to say that you “used to swish” as if Jesus Christ, who loves humanity, would give a damn if someone “swished their hips” like you “used to.”
How petty we make the message of God’s unconditional love about the outward appearance, huh? How the message of grace has been mired in the works of the flesh. Or is righteousness in God weighed in how good you decorate an apartment? You better hide your feminine traits or the church won’t accept you! That should have been your first red flag.
He explained to me that change was possible; that he and many were “living proof.” When he began to pry into my life he seemed disappointed.
“Do you have a father?”
“Are your family believers?”
Finally after trying and trying again to find “some reason” that I was “struggling” with being gay he said to me, “were you molested as a child?”
My answer was no.
“I think you were… you’re probably suppressing it,” he declared.
Later on, people like Ricky and others cited my arrogance and my further denial was the full reason why “God would never deliver me.” I knew this was not true. Yet as a young man, all I wanted to do was serve the Lord. I had an incredible relationship with God.
Kegan, I was you.
As I watched you say, “I was not born this way,” I remember saying the same thing. When I watched you saying, “shut up Lady Gaga,” I remember the anger at the world “trying to define me.”
I remember the secret reality of my situation when I stood on stage and spoke to crowds. It was all a lie. (See 2:00)
Kegan, I believe am loved and saved by the same unwavering (emphasis on unwavering) grace and love that you have been saved by. I truly believe from deep within me that you are sincere. I believe that you truly think that you are doing good.
And so did I. But the damage I did was vast.
When you demean the way people “walk and talk” and affiliate that with “being gay” and the need for people to “act one way” and not the other, you are doing irrevocable harm to thousands of youth. Where I once thought I was helping them, I realized that I was damaging every single lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender person coming through the doors of my church – which were supposed to be the doors of grace. Instead, I traded the Gospel of Jesus for cheap behavior modification and rules. You are doing the same.
By insisting that being gay is the same as your addiction to drugs, as much as I sympathize with addiction and those who suffer from it, it has nothing to do with being gay or being molested. In fact, you actually are furthering the social damage of those who are molested. I have met many, including those in my own family, who were subject to molestation and they are straight. The lie that being molested will make you gay is as logical as the debunked groups you affiliate with. I must have missed the piece of Christianity that says “leave your brain at the door.” Your personal addiction is one in billions and the institutions that have told you that you personally define the standard for billions is allowing you a Christianity focused on selfish gain due to your pain. Your story is not special, grace is.
You are preaching this all as if it is new. After decades of abuse from Exodus, after decades of false testimony, after leader, after leader, after leader, has confessed that it was all a lie – I regret to inform you that you are no different. The God that loves us all has not done you a special favor that only you have a key to. He, as confirmed by many, is no respecter of persons.
In its “best intentions,” Exodus International has been responsible for global damage and the furthering of hate of LGBT people. It categorized millions of people like you are doing now. Your story is not a blanket for all. Your story is just one. You say church lead you to Jesus, but I will rejoice in the day that you realize that Jesus lead you to Him. Not a system of religion. Not a Church that says “don’t swish your hips.” The Jesus that broke every gender, social and religious stereotype of His day loves you. He loves the gayest rainbow squeal you make when you hear your favorite pop song – whether you like it or not. There is no shame in who you are friend.
In Christ, I love you brother. I have been in your shoes. Thanks to the grace of God, not the church, He reached into my life and heart and pulled me into a place of hope, restoration and love. Pull back the veil of “Pop Culture Evangelical Machine” and it’s lies and you will find that God loves you the same.
Even after Exodus is gone, in true fashion, the obsessed groups of the same people have reformatted the lie and put you at the forefront. You are nothing but a weapon for behavior modification.
You must say, “but the Bible says…”
I said that once too.
You had no choice in your sexual attractions. We all know that. I am here to say God loves you – your sexuality is a beautiful, wonderful piece of His vast Creation. The road you are on, is a road debunked – from this point on you for one “soul you save” you will turn thousands against innocent LGBT people who love the Lord too.
You had no choice in who you were. Remember though, you have full choice of what you believe. End the damage.
Full videos of “God and Gays” with Lisa Ling: The story of the International lies and take down of the World’s largest Ex-Gay Ministry can be seen here.