If you haven't yet seen the video of a "formerly" gay man renouncing homosexuality and declaring that he likes wimenwimenwimenwimen during a church service, take a moment after you're done reading this to thank me for introducing this to your life. It is, without a doubt, the most ridiculous thing I've seen this year.
Part of the clip's ridiculousness is due to the star of the clip. The way he's dressed and the way he speaks and acts makes it seem like someone created a fourth wall wormhole and transported a character from a Key & Peele sketch into a real Black church. At one point, he literally starts growling. But, it's also ridiculous because of what this man claims happened to him. Give or take a percentage point or two, exactly 00.00% of the people watching this believe he has effectively prayed away the gay. One, because…come on, man. Just stop it. And also because no one — well, no one reading this (including the person writing this) — seems to believe its possible for anyone. Even if that guy wasn't as bizarre and effeminate as he was, there still would have been a tremendous amount of skepticism about his claim. My reaction would be the same, regardless of who it was: "I don't believe you. You need more people."
But — and this is largely addressed to the Christians out there — why wouldn't it be possible? If we believe that prayer helped an aunt battle cancer or helped our family grow closer or helped us get a new job or provided any other spiritual assist in our physical world, why wouldn't prayer be able to change someone's sexual orientation? If God can do everything else, why wouldn't He do that? Especially if this man was obviously tormented enough by being gay that he wished to pray it away.
I understand why those who consider themselves to be Christian and progressive — basically, the type of Christian who reads VSB — would be loath to entertain this possibility. Implicit in the idea of "praying away the gay" is that gayness is an affliction that needs to be remedied. In this sense, being gay is no different than having cancer or being a Black republican. Obviously, this is a dangerously wrong implication; one no progressive person believes and no intelligent person would bother defending. Homosexuality isn't a bad thing or a good thing. It's just a thing — another one of the hundreds of characteristics a person can be born with. This is an inarguable fact not even worth debating.
That said, if you claim to be Christian, you should be aware of how crucial prayer is to Christianity. Basically, if you do not pray and do not believe in the power of prayer (and that you're praying to an omnipotent God), you're not really a true Christian. If this is true, why is it so difficult to believe that what he said happened to him is within the realm of possibility?
I'm addressing you all today with this topic, but this isn't just another thought exercise with no investment in the subject. In the last 15 months I've been baptized, joined a church, watched my mother die from cancer, and got married. Each act has brought forth a new series of questions and feelings about God, the Church, and prayer. I wouldn't call this spiritual journey an evolution (yet) as much as an experience. While I won't even attempt to understand why God does the things He does, I remain curious about the constraints within Christianity and prayer we build and put on ourselves.
The belief that some things are "acceptable" and "practical" prayer subjects while others are not is one of them.