The year was 1999, and a denominational publishing house heard my conversion story from homosexuality, and asked me to submit my story for publication, as a resource for our denomination. I was given a deadline of four weeks.
After much prayer and fourteen-hour days of writing, I met their deadline. After many months, I finally called for a status report.
“Oh! You haven’t received your manuscript? It was supposed to have been returned to you.”
“Why would it be returned?” I asked.
“It was rejected. The book committee decided they wanted a more balanced view.”
“Balanced view of what?” I asked. “I was asked to submit my story. Are you suggesting it is unbalanced?” I was alarmed.
“No, they just thought it would be better to have more stories to put into one book in order to present a balanced view,” came the reply.
I wondered aloud, “So stories of victory and success must be balanced out with stories of failure? Why?”
For fifteen years now I have continued to face the conundrum of the balanced view, this puzzle, as time after time I have been inhibited by the need to present a balanced view of the subject of homosexuality and the church. Ironically, I had to have my book published by an outside publisher who in turn sold it back to the denominational publisher to facilitate placing it in all the English-speaking ABCs around the world.
A few years ago I was invited to share my testimony at a conference on Marriage, Homosexuality and the Church. Sadly, I was discredited by one who promoted a view of “once gay, always gay,” and my presentation was therefore reduced to a mere interview. During the conference, this same individual replaced me on a panel addressing the university student body to present “a balanced view”. Critics and skeptics have repeatedly dismissed me as a perfectionist because I share of my personal experience of victory over homosexuality and how God offers salvation from sin rather than in sin.
Through the years, as opportunities to share were becoming less and less, I had made it a matter of prayer to ask God that whatever time I am given, the Lord will make it count. And at this specific conference on Marriage, Homosexuality and the Church, He did. In the closing presentation the speaker stated, “When Ron Woolsey stood here opening night, held up his Bible, and said that he found everything he needed in the word of God to turn and walk away from homosexuality, that set the tone for this entire conference.”
Once again I faced the conundrum of the balanced view when invited to speak at one of our denominational universities. This time the invitation was held up in committees for months, because of the very “controversial” nature of my story.
“But there are two sides to this issue…” they insisted.
“OK! So, why don’t we present the second side, God’s side…?”
I pointed out that I had graduated from their university, with a degree in theology, with honors, and that I was a conference pastor. Therefore, if straight/gay alliances are allowed on campus, why can’t I be trusted on campus with God’s perspective? Eventually approval came through, and the student body, filled with great interest and appreciation for my message, warmly received me.
Two issues especially caught my attention at the recent North American Division Ministers Convention and break out sessions preceding the General Conference Session--women’s ordination and homosexuality.
Though leadership had commissioned much study over the past few years, the “pro side” of the issue was promoted while the “con side” was ignored and even suppressed. The absence of a balanced view was noteworthy.
There were three different seminars addressing the LGBT issue. My ministry, “Coming Out Ministries”, was originally scheduled to have two of these sessions, but one was taken away due to “controversy”. Again, we prayed that the Lord would make whatever time we had, really count, and I truly believe He did.
However, when another seminar, with a very different message, was given more than twice the time we were given, many people who attended both sessions expressed confusion. I explained that both seminars were in fact presenting the same message, but only to a point. Both seminars presented a message of love and acceptance. However, Coming Out Ministries teaches the full gospel - that acceptance from God is conditional upon an entire surrender of the will, including the need of repentance, surrender, discipleship, transformation of character and victory over the sin of homosexuality, as with any other sin issue. Therefore, along these lines, the two seminars parted ways.
At the same North American Division Ministers’ Convention, a lesbian Adventist, a gay Adventist church elder, and the parents of a gay man married to another man presented testimonies. In fact, a gay Adventist was given time for a power point presentation denouncing all efforts to lead homosexuals to victory and transformation. Sadly, no testimony of victory was given. A psychologist even testified that she had never seen anyone overcome homosexuality. Some in attendance turned and waved at me, for I was redeemed 24 years ago and have been married now for 23 years and am the father of five children.
One of the organizers defended these presentations, saying that the gay issue has more than one ideology and therefore, they needed to present a balanced view. However, such a balanced view left many unsettled.
Do we need to present a balanced view by giving equal time to political correctness, conventional wisdom or social sciences?
Is not God’s view balanced in itself? God teaches us that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (King James Version, Jeremiah 17:9).
In 1 Corinthians 3:18-20 we read, “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.”
THE BIBLE SPEAKS OF BALANCE
In Proverbs 20:23 we read, “Divers weights are an abomination unto the Lord; and a false balance is not good.” God help us if we are weighed in the balances, and found wanting.
We read in Revelation 6:5, “And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.”
Sadly, “not everyone that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven…Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock” (Matthew 7:21-24).
Apparently, balance with God is not found between two opposing views, but rather between truth and acceptance, between the law and obedience, between God’s expressed will and our compliance.
You see, “we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6). The only way we can be found righteous is in the Lord, (Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16). Perfect balance is found within justification and sanctification, and within pardon/forgiveness and cleansing/transformation.
Christ’s righteousness is imputed, or attributed to us at the point of confession and repentance. In addition, Christ’s righteousness is imparted, or created in us through His grace, His transforming power, when we surrender to Him and to the process. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Notice the balance here.
Micah 7:19 reads, “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”
Ellen White explains, “Satan stands at the head of all the accusers of the brethren; but when he presents the sins of the people of God, what does the Lord answer? He says, ‘The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?... They were therefore standing before God clothed with the garments of Christ’s righteousness…Every sin of which they had been guilty was forgiven, and they stood before God as chosen and true, as innocent, as perfect, as though they had never sinned” (RH August 29, 1893).
We read in Acts of the Apostles that “John saw the mercy, the tenderness and the love of God blending with His holiness, justice, and power” (White,489)
“When we study the divine character in the light of the cross we see mercy, tenderness, and forgiveness blended with equity and justice.” (White, 333).
Now this, I contend, is a balanced view.