It’s really a very private and personal thing, but I wanted to take opportunity, for those of you who have known me over the past years, to invite you to my wedding this summer. If you would like to come, please reach out to me and I will send you an invitation.
I hope you can celebrate that with me.
Some of you have known me over the course of many years. Over the course of those years, you have known me as one who:
- Served as counseling pastor in our conservative, evangelical megachurch context;
- Served as the leader of an Exodus International North American, Inc. member ministry;
- Served as a member the Board of Directors of Exodus International North America, Inc.;
- Served as the founder and leader of a conservative, evangelical oriented addiction treatment and recovery program – The HopeQuest Ministry Group, Inc.,
- Has lived alongside of you as your brother in Christ in the Woodstock area since 1990; and
- Who has been a Southern Baptist since I was born.
Today, I want you to know that I am the same person you have always known. I still love God. I still believe that Jesus came to earth as the incarnate Son of God, who made the atoning sacrifice for all of our sin in dying on the cross, who was resurrected from the dead on the third day, who then ascended to Heaven, who now sits at the right hand of the Father, and who will come again to earth one day and establish a new world kingdom.
And today, I want you to know that the Holy Spirit remains faithful to me in His empowering, in His guidance, and in His comforting and provision.
There are also some things that most of you don’t know about me:
- I have experienced same-sex oriented sexual desires and attractions since I was 10 years old;
- I experienced molestation by an adult male in my family when I was 13 years old;
- Concerning my same-sex orientation, I came-out to myself when I was 17 and explored the same-sex relationship opportunity to the degree possible in that day and in the place where we lived; and
- However, by the time I was 23, I had fallen in love with Nancy, who became my best friend and I was able to successfully repress my same-sex orientated desires and attractions and remain faithful in my marriage from the time I married Nancy at age 24, until she died 35 years later when I was 59.
I reiterate that I am the same person you have always known. I still love God. I still believe that Jesus came to earth as the incarnate Son of God, made the atoning sacrifice for all of our sin in dying on the cross, was resurrected from the dead on the third day, ascended to Heaven, now sits at the right hand of the Father, and will come again to earth one day.
Many of my brothers in Christ who served with me on the Senior Staff at our church really should (maybe could) have known this. I really was totally hidden about it, but neither was I “in your face” direct about it either. It wasn’t safe. What I mean is, that over the years, I would often let it be known that I was bisexual, and that I understood what it was like to have desires for and be attracted toward the same sex. This would often come up when I would feel the need to advocate for someone in our church who was a Christian person who was struggling with this personal issue.
Today though, I am being direct. I want everyone to know – especially a reminder for those who do know me – that I have experienced God’s work in my life personally:
- I was 10 years old when God called me to Himself and I was saved. I still remember the time and the place;
- It was later though, when I was 24, that God called me again and I was able to move beyond my earthly father’s harsh reactions towards me as a Christian to the place where I could freely embrace Christian life and discipleship; and
- Again when I was 37 (almost 25 years ago), God called me to leave the the corporate world to pursue His purpose for me in vocational ministry. In those 25 years, I have witnessed God do miraculous things to validate His calling upon my life, but also to support and provide for the ministry purpose to which He called me.
During my entire ministry focus over the last 25 years, I have always been sensitive to people who struggle with same-sex orientations – and I have served faithfully helping them to learn to accept themselves while working to resolve the conflict between their own self-acceptance and their (and their family’s) conservative, evangelical, fundamental oriented faith convictions;
And I have served faithfully all of these years to support the theology and doctrinal position as stated in the Baptist Faith and Message. However, God began calling me again at age 59 and today, after Nancy’s death, my theological position has changed. And I am confident that many will not understand how such a change could occur.
I hope and pray that some may be motivated, because of their love for me and our past years of relationship, to better understand how such a theological shift could take place. In future writings that I make available on my FaceBook posts and my personal website, I will share how this process occurred. In addition, I will share specifics on the the part of my theological convictions that have changed. .
But for today, I wanted you to know that what you are hearing today is not a quick or rash decision that I have made. Rather, I have spent the last 2 years, since Nancy’s death in early 2017, earnestly searching the Holy Scriptures and agonizing before God in prayer. And, I am announcing that I am at peace with God as I have accepted that I am – and have always been – a gay man, not just a man with bisexual capacities.
Also, I am announcing that I am at peace with God in my decision to be engaged to Mike. We will be married in the summer of 2019. Again, if you would like to celebrate with us and share in that life experience, please accept this as your invitation to share that special time with us.
Today, I am looking forward to my life together with Mike. And, I will continue using my professional education, training, skills, and life experience in helping LGBTQ individuals and their families discover God’s love rather than experiencing the church’s rejection.
In addition, I will continue to work with individuals, couples, and families suffering from the effects and consequences of drug, alcohol, and sex addiction and their cooccurring disorders.
I will continue to work with precious ones who are suffering from past trauma and abuse, helping them to not only survive, but overcome the horrendous effects of their past life experiences and move toward a place of health and personal well-being.
I will continue to help people improve their relationships while discovering sexual health and while also developing greater capacities for intimacy.
Finally, I will continue to provide clinical supervision services for persons pursuing a national certification in sex addiction therapy through IITAP, Inc. and also for persons pursuing a license in professional counseling in the State of Georgia.
There are two major differences. One is that I will do the same work I have always done at a much slower pace. And secondly, because I have not been in active leadership at HopeQuest for the past two years (my role has been more of a consultant in helping Troy transition to the place of taking the leadership role as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors), people can be assured that the theological shifts they are reading about are about me, not about the HopeQuest.
The best source of further information about this is from me directly.
To the degree that I can, I will engage with those who are rightly motivated in their desire to hear more from me.
New announcements and information will be made available via my FaceBook posts and my personal website. Look on the “Blog Posts” page under “Resources” at http://www.royablankenship.com.
My love and goodwill to all of you.