Should Christians encourage people with unwanted same-sex attraction to seek healing and change? Or are such efforts counterproductive? And should Christians simply aim to support people with same-sex attraction, and even accept gay identity? This week on The Roys Report, Julie explores this issue with two Christian leaders with two different perspectives. Anne Paulk of the Restored Hope Network encourages Christians to offer hope of change and healing to those with same-sex attraction. But Ty Wyss of Walls Down ministry says Christians should simply accept LGBT persons without any pressure or expectation of change.
Anne brings more than two decades as an author, speaker, spokesperson and advocate for men and women struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions to her role as executive director of Restored Hope Network. Her mission in leading the organization is to, quite literally, restore hope to those broken by sexual and relational sin, especially those impacted by homosexuality. She has appeared on Focus on the Family Radio, Dr. James Dobson’s FamilyTalk, In the Market with Janet Parshall, Equipped with Chris Brooks (Moody Radio), among others. She is the author of Restoring Sexual Identity: Hope for Women Who Struggle with Same-Sex Attraction (Harvest House Publishers), and she also has written for Spirit Led Woman, Charisma and The Gospel Coalition. Anne lives in Colorado and her greatest joy is being mom to her three sons.
Ty Wyss is the founder and president of Walls Down Ministry in Indianapolis where he helps the theologically conservative church to love LGBTQ people generously through seminars, support groups, & soul care. He also has his masters in counseling from Indiana Wesleyan University and specializes in helping people of faith find congruence in their faith and sexuality. He lives in Indy with Rachel, his wife of 11 years and 2 young boys, Beckett and Asa.
Note: This transcript has been edited slightly for continuity.
ANNOUNCER: In the midst of all of today’s noise and confusion, we need a voice that cuts through the chaos to bring wisdom and clarity. Welcome to The Roys Report with Julie Roys—an hour-long show exploring critical issues related to faith and culture from a uniquely Christian perspective. Now, here’s your host, Julie Roys.
JULIE ROYS: Should Christians encourage people with unwanted same-sex attraction to seek healing and change? Or are such efforts counterproductive and shouldn’t Christians simply aim to support people with same sex-attraction and even accept gay identity? Welcome to The Roys Report, brought to you in part by Judson University. I’m Julie Roys. And today I’m going to be discussing how to minister to people with same-sex attraction with two Christians who have two very different approaches. One of my guests, Anne Paulk, says God can heal people from same-sex attraction. In fact, it’s something she says she’s experienced herself and has helped many others experience as well. And as the Executive Director of Restored Hope Network, an organization devoted to helping people with same-sex attraction find hope and healing in Christ. My other guest, Ty Wyss, says he doesn’t encourage people to pursue trying to change their sexual orientation. He says he believes that God can change people’s sexuality. But as someone with same-sex attraction, healing or change is not something he’s personally experienced, nor is it something he’s interested in pursuing or encouraging others to pursue. Ty is the founder of Walls Down, a ministry that equips the church to reach out to LGBT people, not by offering hope of change necessarily, but by simply inviting LGBT people to experience an abundant life in Christ. So I’m really looking forward to today’s program. I think it’s going to be extremely informative. And in a way, it’s a follow up to a show that I aired a few weeks ago with two survivors of the Pulse Nightclub shooting, Luis Javier Ruiz and Angel Colon. Both Luis and Angel told me that God had delivered them from same-sex attraction. And then that claim sparked quite the debate on social media. People challenged whether the deliverance that Luis and Angel had experienced was it normative or was that just an anomaly? Someone encouraged me, actually, to reach out to Nate Collins who’s the founder of a controversial conference called Revoice. Revoice is controversial because it affirms gay identity and holds that same-sex attraction is normally immutable or an unchangeable condition. At the same time, Revoice is not gay affirming. The conference organizers are clear that they believe God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman. So we did actually reach out to Nate Collins and invited him to join us. He didn’t respond but I’m really glad that Ty Wyss has agreed to be with us. Ty supports the Revoice Conference and has actually led a workshop there. So perhaps we’ll have time today to talk about Revoice as well. But first, let me just welcome our guests. Ty, thank you so much for joining me today.
TY WYSS: Yeah, thanks so much for having me. Appreciate that.
JULIE ROYS: Sure. And Anne you’ve been on this program before, but I appreciate you being willing to come on and talk about this topic with someone who may have a very different perspective than you. So thank you.
ANNE PAULK: You bet. It’s my pleasure. Thank you so much, Julie. And thank you, Ty.
TY WYSS: Yeah. Thank you.
JULIE ROYS: And I always do appreciate it when Christians can come together and we can reason together in an agreeable manner about something that we may feel passionately about that at the same time, have different perspectives. Let me start with you, Ty. Before I ask you, I do want to know, just the topic of this whole program and how to minister to people with same-sex attraction. But I’d like to just sort of establish your position on homosexuality. You’re not gay affirming, correct?
TY WYSS: Right. That’s correct. Yeah. I believe that God created one man and one woman to be together in marriage.
JULIE ROYS: Okay. And you are married with children, but same-sex attraction is something that you personally struggle with.
TY WYSS: Yeah, that’s right. It’s kind of in that in between space. Sometimes it feels like so.
JULIE ROYS: Okay. So, you’ve obviously walked through this yourself. You’ve had churches respond to you, I’m guessing, in different ways when you admit that.
TY WYSS: Sure.
JULIE ROYS: From your experience, and also, I’m guessing, your study of the Scriptures, what do you believe is the best way to minister to a person who has same-sex attraction?
TY WYSS: Yeah, well, you know, the place that I start and the place that I enjoy when people start with, where people start with me, is hearing my story first, and seeing how that experience has, my experience with both faith and sexuality, has impacted my life both really positively and negatively. I feel most honored by that. Because I feel like somebody’s not trying to sort of have an agenda. They really just want to hear something. So I feel like that, for me, that’s the best place to start. Because I think it treats people as individuals and kind of forces you to lay down whatever agenda you might, consciously or unconsciously, have.
JULIE ROYS: So tell us a little bit about your story.
TY WYSS: Yes. So I would say, I kind of realized I had the same- sex attraction when I was, I would say 12, was probably when I realized, oh, gosh, I think I might be gay. And kind of started to accept that and started to wrestle with that quite a bit. And then at 17, that’s when I came out to friends and family. And kind of came out to everyone at that point. So it was just kind of and I wasn’t raised in faith. I wasn’t really thinking about what God thought necessarily. I really more thinking about what my community would think—what my family would think. Would I still be accepted and loved? And so that was really kind of more of where my thought process was. And then so I was out into the gay community in Columbus, Ohio. And really felt like I found a really good community. Really found great friends—dated men, marched in pride parades, went to gay rallies. And really felt like the gay community was the family that I really probably belonged with. Because it felt like these people were like me more than anybody else that I had really met up to that point. So that was kind of my experience coming out. So I don’t know that I had a bad experience with LGBT people or the LGBT community. But then, Jesus started to meddle in my life as He typically does with people. So meddled in a good way. And I thought He was drawing my heart. And I was interested in Christianity and I was a freshman in college when I felt like He barged into my life in a very beautiful way and just revealed to me His kindness and His goodness. And I really felt like that started the seeds of wanting to know what God was like and what He really thought of me. So.
JULIE ROYS: So take us from that point to the point right now where you’re married and have children yet are still pretty openly struggling with your same-sex attraction.
TY WYSS: Yeah. So gosh I was 19. And there to, I had been attending a Bible study on campus. And then there to attend a Sunday morning service where my parents had started to go to church, even though they didn’t go to church. Growing up, they had started going to church since I’d come out of the closet. And so, I went to their church on a Sunday morning, when I was in college and walked away with just an unquestionable feeling that God likes me. And which was much more powerful than God loving me for some reason. To say that God liked me, felt like He wanted proximity, wanted to be close, enjoyed and delighted in my heart. Didn’t need for anything I need to change for that to happen. Which, you know, usually people are wanting you to change. Now since I’ve come out, people are wanting, or everybody has an opinion about my life and my sexuality. And I felt like God proves that He enjoyed and delighted in me first and so that really caused me to be comfortable to at least ask the question. God, what do you think of my sexuality and is what I’m doing okay? Because I believe His heart, from that point on, I mean, I’m simplifying of course. But for Him to, for me to actually care what God thought now was a pretty profound shift. And I felt like He was speaking to my heart just really saying, this isn’t what I have for you. Will you trust me that I know what’s better for your life? And I was kind of caught with like, I think I do. I think I do trust You to do that. I don’t know why I trust You to do that, but I think I do. And so I kind of surrendered my sexuality the best way that I knew how. Not with trying to be straight. I didn’t really know if God could do that or wanted to do that. But it felt more congruent for me to just say, you know what, I’m just not going to date anyone and just see what how this Jesus thing goes. And so, the long story short is I started to follow Christ. Surrender my sexuality. Stop dating men. Not as simple as it sounds, of course. But eventually did, you know, a couple years later did. Felt like I was introduced to the woman that is now my wife. And that’s a whole journey in and of itself. But really felt like God spoke to me, before there was any feelings of attraction or desire for her, that this would be my wife and that I would need to trust Him. And so that was and again, I mean, it was just kind of like, again, I don’t know why I really trusted Him to do that. That seems very, that seemed impossible. This part of me seemed completely fixed in every way possible. And to even want to be, to desire a woman seemed really not that. I didn’t know if I wanted it.
JULIE ROYS: Hold that thought, Ty. We need to go to a break. But when we come back, I want to hear the rest of that story and then now, how that’s informed the way that you explain to the church how to minister to others who are in the position you were. I want to hear from Anne Paulk as well. What’s your story? How does it relate? Also, how it may be different and how do you approach ministering to people with same-sex attraction a little bit differently. We’ll be right back after a short break.
ANNOUNCER: We now return to The Roys Report. Here’s your host, Julie Roys.
JULIE ROYS: What’s the best way for Christians to minister to those with same-sex attraction? Welcome to The Roys Report. I’m Julie Roys. And today I’m exploring this issue with two Christian leaders with two very different approaches. One, Anne Paulk of The Restored Hope Network, encourages people with same-sex attraction to pursue personal healing and even hold out the hope that God might change their orientation. The other, Ty Wyss of Walls Down, says he doesn’t encourage Christians with same-sex attraction to pursue change. Instead, the focus of his ministry is simply equipping churches to love LGBT people and invite them to experience the abundant life in Christ. And by the way, if you’d like to comment on today’s discussion, I encourage you to go to facebook.com/ReachJulieRoys or you can join the discussion on Twitter. My Twitter handle is @ReachJulieRoys. So Ty, before the break, you were telling about your story and how you struggled with same-sex attraction. Well you didn’t struggle at first, you weren’t a believer. So you just gave in to it. And then God began to work in your heart. You came to Christ and you began to trust Him with your sexuality. Then how did that lead to you getting married? And today having kids and how does that work out in your life?
TY WYSS: Yeah, sure. So, you know, as I was saying before, God had brought this woman into my life and then said this is who I have for you, will you trust Me? And I really just said, for whatever reason, said yeah, I do trust You. And I was honest with her about that. Which I think is super important that I said, you know, this is something that I don’t know that I can ever—I certainly can’t make myself attracted to women, even though you’re very beautiful. And I’m very much still attracted to men. Like that has not changed. And so if you want to find help for that, then if you feel like this is God as well, then I’m willing to, I’m open to pursuing this and seeing what this might look like. And the long story short is, even though God did not change my attraction to men, I do feel like He opened up my heart to love Rachel, my wife. Which I think is really interesting. And I use that verbiage on purpose because He did not make me attracted to women in general. There was something about Rachel that, as I got to know her, that there was a genuine appreciation for her. That really kind of blossomed into, what I would say is, I wanted to extend intimacy into the bedroom—intimacy that we were already experiencing heart-to-heart, face-to-face. I felt like was being like I was being pulled, or invited really, to experience the sexual relationship and that was just more, maybe more of an outgrowth of that. And so I don’t know that I experienced it as an intense desire as more of it was like a longing and an openness. So we ended up getting married. We didn’t have sex until we married. And then several years later, we decided to start a family. And we have two beautiful boys, five and one. And I’m attracted to men. And she knows that and we have navigated that, I feel like pretty well, but it has definitely brought challenges without question so.
JULIE ROYS: This is a really interesting—your story is really interesting because most of the people that I’ve heard talk about this—Christians who identify as gay or say they have same-sex attraction and haven’t experienced any deliverance from that— usually say, well, we have to stay celibate for life. Which sounds, you know, pretty lonely and just not that appealing to, I think, an awful lot of people. Your story is very unique in that you went down that road despite the same-sex attraction. I want to invite Anne into this discussion now because Anne, I’m guessing there’s a lot of things that Ty just expressed that are very similar to your story. Yes?
ANNE PAULK: Yeah, actually there are. For one, I wasn’t given a command to leave homosexuality. As I embraced homosexuality, when I was a freshman in college, is when I began to embrace that I’d had the feelings for a long time. And I believe they originated out of sexual abuse and my response to it when I was younger. I was four years old when that began, and it, thankfully, didn’t continue for a long time but really created some misconceptions and judgments upon men that they didn’t deserve as a block. Anyhow, there are lots of underlying things that were going on that, praise God, He helped me walk through later on. But when I was dealing with same-sex attraction, not as a believer, believing I was a Christian, but I really didn’t have any relationship with God. So I was very much like Ty. I didn’t have a whole lot of expectations on me at that time. What was intriguing to me was I was struggling with who am I? And what’s the purpose of life and then began to have dreams about Jesus kind of like what’s happening in Iran right now. There it was. UC Santa Barbara and my first year in college and I began to have dreams about Jesus. It was not—He was not welcome. Because I was, I was pursuing other things that I had, kind of had an inkling that He didn’t support. And then I just simply said, okay, well, who does He say He is anyway? And none of my friends could answer those questions. So I ended up at an on-campus group—a Christian group, called Campus Ambassadors, that had a class called evangelism training. There I was as a non-believer in this thing trying to get my questions answered. At the end of that time, I had an encounter with the Person of God. So God was actually present the whole time. But He opened my understanding to recognize that He was actually present in the room, weaving in and out amongst the prayers of the saints. And I was pretending with my head bowed and hands together, doing what I thought you were supposed to do. And He, this remarkable Person, this Person of great authority, and yet kindness, this tender hearted one, but full of power at the same time—within the room, caring what we had to say. He was engaging with us. And there was a cut-out around me and I recognized that I had to have this Person in my life. So it was the love and kindness of God that actually drew me to Him. It wasn’t, hey, surrender your homosexuality now or feeling like that was a bad thing. I actually, you know, wasn’t sure what to do about it. I told the pastor afterwards hey, I am a lesbian and I experience this. And now what do I do about all this? How do I get this Person in my life? I was just so thankful that he told me the truth that homosexuality is sin, but that God is willing to come into my life. In that great exchange, the gospel is, you give your life to Jesus, He gives His to you. And that’s an amazing gift. Amazing. That changed everything overnight, not my sexual feelings. It changed my allegiance. It changed my affection to Him–my openness to want to please this One who’s now part of my life has filled me with joy. And so part of that was, no, I’m not bringing sin into the relationship. I’m surrendering that but I can’t do anything about it. I can’t change my feelings. I can’t do A, B or C. And, Lord, I’m yours. Do with me what you will. And so friends began to walk alongside of me who were Christians that I hadn’t really paid any attention to it prior. And a dear friend, Kirsten, taught me how to pray. We’d meet outside the food stand on campus, and we’d sit on a hill and just lift up our hearts to God out loud. And that was terrifying because I thought everybody was staring at me—this strange person sitting on a hill praying. You know, it just was interesting.
JULIE ROYS: So, you ended up getting married as well. Though I’m wondering from that point of becoming a believer to the point you got married. You know, Ty saying those same-sex attractions, that’s still there. Those feelings are still there but I’m pursuing this. Did you find, and we just have a little bit of time. We’ll probably have to continue a lot of this on the other side of the break. But did you find that the feelings went away at any point?
ANNE PAULK: Well, the first few years, no, in fact intensified. I was looking for a best friend sort of deal and with somebody who has same-sex attraction. That became more intense and caused my struggles to grow for that time. When I fell into sin, then I really, like okay God, here I am. You got to do something because I like the sin. But I’m Yours. So how are you gonna? I can’t do anything about it. I need help. And so He moved in my life to have me confide in some Christian leaders, who then walked me through a process of restoration. And connected me with a local ministry, Exodus Ministry, in the San Francisco area, which is where I was living at the time.
JULIE ROYS: Okay, I want to hear about that experience with Exodus or an Exodus related ministry because a lot of people know who are listening. Exodus folded and the leader, Allen Chambers, said that basically change is impossible. He doesn’t know anybody that’s done it. And that has changed a lot of the evangelical opinions about same-sex attraction. Again, you’re listening to The Roys Report—here today with Anne Paulk and Ty Wyss. We’ll be right back after a short break.
ANNOUNCER: Now, more of The Roys Report. Once again, here’s Julie Roys.
JULIE ROYS: Should Christians encourage people with unwanted same-sex attraction to seek healing and change? Or is same-sex attraction something that’s generally unchangeable and our efforts, counterproductive or even damaging to try and change sexual orientation. Welcome back to The Roys Report brought to you in part by Judson University. I’m Julie Roys. And today, I’m exploring how to minister to people with same-sex attraction with two Christian leaders with two different perspectives. Anne Paulk, of The Restored Hope Network, believes sexual redemption and healing is available to the person with same-sex attraction and encourages them to seek it. Ty Wyss of Walls Down doesn’t encourage Christians with same-sex attraction to necessarily seek change in their orientation. In fact, he’s okay with them embracing gay identity so long as they don’t act on that identity. And he trains churches on how to reach out to the LGBT community without pressure and without a lot of conditions. And, by the way, if you’re just joining us and would like to listen to the first part of today’s program, I’ll be posting the entire audio to my website soon after the end of today’s broadcast. Just go to JulieRoys.com and click on the podcast tab. Also, if you’d like to learn more about the different views on homosexuality within the church, there’s a blog post I’ve written that I think you’d find really helpful. You just go to my website and search for an article entitled Revoice Conference Reveals Churches Failure to Address LGBT Issues. And in that article, there’s a graphic with the four views on homosexuality within the church. And I think you’ll find it just really informative. Again, just go to JulieRoys.com and then search for Revoice Conference Reveals Churches Failure to Address LGBT Issues. And I think both my guests today, Anne and Ty, might agree with that topic. That in the past, the church hasn’t done a real stellar job of dealing with people who have same-sex attraction. Anne, I’m going to give you a chance to pick up where you left off with your story. Which, to me, brings up—you said at a certain point after you became a believer, and you began to deal with your same-sex feelings, you were referred to an Exodus related ministry. Describe what happened in that ministry.
ANNE PAULK: So it was the most helpful thing in my life as far as dealing with homosexuality. It was a tremendous time, a gift to me. I had been seeing a counselor because feelings and thoughts of the early molestation had been coming up to mind. And I wanted to begin to grapple with what was keeping me stuck in homosexuality. I knew God forbid acting upon it. So I knew the basis for it had to be—there had to be a way to surrender more and more of myself so that He could move in my life. And so I was pursuing counseling. It was very helpful. But there was a time when I was really grappling with pain and in that 50-minute segment really wasn’t all that helpful. So I got connected with a local Exodus Ministry or affiliated ministry that was run by Frank and Anita Worthen. And drove an hour each way to get to this meeting and it was so valuable. I saw men and women around me, who weren’t perfect in any way, shape or form, still struggling with homosexuality, but God was on the move in their life. I could see them changing in front of my eyes. One of the gals had been wearing—my friend dawn, she’s still a dear friend of mine—she had been wearing a tool belt around her waist coming into one of the meetings because she was a cubicle office furniture builder. So there she was, she was tough as nails I’ll tell you. But over the years’ time, I saw her soften and become more the woman of God that He intended. I could see her just beginning to lean in and trust God’s leadership in her life. And it was due to being part of this group. There was no dishonesty that we brought into the group. It was simply here I am; this is what I’m going through. And, you know, let’s pray for one another. And that was—I so appreciate that about Ty’s testimony, too. His focus is on leaning in with being honest. And that’s so primary. It’s so significant. My ex-husband was not able to be honest, and that’s what propelled his fall back into homosexuality, in my opinion. So honesty with God—honesty with one another is so profound. So I was struggling with various things. And I remember one of the leaders said hey, you need to forgive your mom. And I thought what do I need to forgive my mom for? That was just kind of lame I thought. But I just went along. And so okay, look, I’ll pray. You need to thank God for your hips. I’m like, I will not thank God for these big hips. (Laughter) And so anyway, it was just funny. There were a couple of funny little things. The weird thing about it is when I followed through and said, alright, You’re leading, I will follow. I’m just going to go for this. Actually, significant things changed in my heart. Like, the next day, I remember thinking, Mom, let’s go clothes shopping. That’s antithetical to everything I’d felt before. It was the oddest thing. And I wanted to buy very feminine clothing. It was just really a weird thing. And all I did was trust the leadership to take me down this road towards healing. And the trust resulted in this heart change that began. Over time when I dealt with the molestation when I was young, and forgave the individual from my heart. Which was impossible to do. God had to do it. And I told him so. Look, you know, this is it. To forgive legally is one matter, to forgive from the heart is a whole different thing. So You’re going to have to do this in my soul. And He indeed did it. And I remember having joy at the mention of the person—the name the next time. And I thought, whoa, okay, that’s like never happened. So I knew He was at work in these critical things. As a result of being at work in those things, I began to enjoy being a woman. I began to enjoy bonding with other women as a woman, like a sister. Like one beautiful gal, she was an airline attendant, she threw her arm around me and said, “Anne, people say we look like sisters.” And I thought, oh, yeah, sure. (Laughter) You’ve got to be joking. And I think I said that out loud. She said, ‘No, I feel so privileged that they think we look alike.” And every little bit was like putting love and affection and kindness into my cup. And over time, I remember one time I was at, it was a Vineyard Church, and I was admiring this female worship leader. And I thought, you know, normally I would have had feelings towards her—same sex attraction. And, in my mind, something weird happened. It was, I don’t want her. I want to be like her. Huge difference. Huge. And these things began to set the stage for noticing how different men and women were. And that I felt I began to feel like just another woman. And that set the stage for potential of getting married.
JULIE ROYS: So you found over time, and we have to go to break. I hate to do this. But over time, your feelings did change as God began to work on some of those broken areas of your heart.
ANNE PAULK: Right. That’s right. And so my goal is, of course, in giving care, is to provide people opportunity to allow God to work in those pretty intimate areas of their lives and heart.
JULIE ROYS: Okay, we need to go to break but when we come back, I want to hear more about that. I also want to hear from Ty as well. What he thinks of that. Again, you’re listening to The Roys Report. I’m Julie Roys. And we will be right back after a short break.
ANNOUNCER: This is The Roys Report with Julie Roys.
JULIE ROYS: How should Christians and churches minister to people with same-sex attraction? Should they simply accept and affirm gay identity while encouraging them to remain celibate? Or should they hold out hope of change and sexual redemption and encourage people with same-sex attraction to seek healing? Welcome back to The Roys Report. I’m Julie Roys. And today I’m discussing this controversial issue with two Christian leaders with different perspectives. Anne Paulk, of The Restored Hope Network, has experienced change in her orientation and says churches need to offer hope of healing and equip leaders to help people find that healing. Ty Wyss of Walls Down says focusing on healing and change can be, especially when it’s the focus on change, can be counterproductive and can push people, LGBT people, away from the church. And he says the church needs to be more welcoming and avoid pressuring LGBT people to change. And by the way, if you are just joining the program and want to hear anything that you’ve missed, I’ll be posting the complete audio to my website about an hour after the end of this program. Just go to JulieRoys.com and then click on the podcast tab. So Anne, before the break, you were telling your story. I thought it was fascinating how you said you got in this ministry. And as you began to deal with your abuse that you had from childhood, as you began to deal with feelings of unforgiveness towards your mother, you just began to change. And you began to accept your feminine identity. You began to embrace that.
ANNE PAULK: And actually, enjoy it. Not just accept. It was amazing. Yeah.
JULIE ROYS: And through that process, your same-sex feelings went away? Or were they still there and do you still struggle? I mean, what’s the degree?
ANNE PAULK: Good question. They primarily went away. A huge change had happened in them. That was probably when, gosh, 25 years ago. So that created the opportunity for me to notice that men were really different and then to be kind of intrigued by that. Whereas I had been around them for so long, but didn’t feel complete as a woman. So, my same-sex attraction remained but it was very minimal at that point. It dominated most of my days, even before Christ and for the first few years afterwards, till I got some help. And then it became lessened. It became kind of muted to some degree. And then as I grew as a woman and felt more secure as a woman, my struggles diminished. But if any insecurity popped up, that would be the go-to comfort zone. All of a sudden, I’d find myself—it didn’t matter what area of insecurity I was dealing with, I would probably struggle with some degree of same-sex attraction with who knows who or nobody. It just popped up. But over time, amazingly, the more I exercised the good things in my life, the less the old dominated. And it took a backseat and then basically got out of the car. Now that’s not really—there can be times of struggle when I went through the divorce with my husband. And realized he was, you know, not being faithful, over a long period of time, and really fighting for our marriage. It created an environment of great vulnerability, and I struggled with same-sex feelings, but not actions at all. So, yeah.
JULIE ROYS: So, I find this fascinating, but it’s also—I worked in a ministry, I volunteered in a ministry, where we had a number of people who dealt with same-sex attraction. And I’ve seen people walk through that similar process. So, I do believe in healing. I am curious, though, Anne. Would you call what you experienced reparative therapy or conversion therapy?
ANNE PAULK: No, actually, I wouldn’t call it either. I would call it transformation. Because God’s in the business of transforming lives. He really—He’s not in any business, per se. He is in—He is just actively involved in bringing sons and daughters more into the likeness of Christ. That is exactly what He does. And leaving behind sin is part of that equation.
JULIE ROYS: So, Ty, I’m curious as you’re hearing this story. I know you said specifically, in some of the pre-correspondence that we had to the show, that you don’t believe in conversion therapy or reparative therapy. And I think that any—I know Restored Hope Network gets sort of labeled as, you know, conversion therapy, or reparative therapy. Anytime you say that there’s hope of change, that seems to be the pejorative term that’s used for a ministry. But how do you respond to her story and this idea that, you know, as she worked on these issues, they began to change? I know that you haven’t experienced that. So it might be like, well, it’s great for you. But, you know, stinks to be me, you know, kind of thing. So, tell me how you respond.
TY WYSS: Yeah, well, I think as a counselor, I have learned to respond to people’s stories in reserving judgment. And saying, you know what, I’m going to take the things that you’re saying, and I’m going to at least consider them. Even if part of that makes me want to respond with rejection or things like that. So I certainly don’t doubt Anne’s story by any stretch. I would say that there are similar things that I’ve experienced in the way that really God has encountered me, or that I’ve encountered Him rather—in that the vows that I made against masculinity because of abuse that I experienced as a young boy, or just my own hatred of masculinity, I think plays a part in how I experienced men. And I think that God has, certainly, in my walk with Him, has certainly come to me and asked me to forgive men, masculine men. And to surrender the vow that I made against masculinity. And not in a way that says, and if you do this, then you won’t experience as much or any attraction to men. But really just as a way of relating better to my brothers. And I have followed Him, not somewhat reluctantly. Sometimes angrily and sometimes in surrender. Eventually in surrender in that. And I have a much better relationship with straight men and allow them into my life in ways that has been very, very healing for me. To her and again, I think it’s similar to Anne, where I actually enjoying my gender and enjoy my gender representation in ways that I didn’t really think was possible. But that has not changed my attraction towards men. I think it has made me a more whole person. And I enjoy my life more. I enjoy relationships and friendships more. But as far as attraction to men, I just don’t think that that has really, it just hasn’t, for me, hasn’t affected my sexual orientation. And I think that so for some women, I think that, from my understanding of some of the evidence of sexual orientation, that women’s orientation is a little bit more fluid than men. And men seem to be a bit more fixed. Not that we want to paint people in categories, or paint with people broad brushes but necessarily. But that has been my experience, not just with me, but with a number of other people that I have come across—has been that men’s orientation seem to be a bit more fixed. Whereas, women seem to be a little bit more fluid.
ANNE PAULK: I mentioned that in my book, but research since then, has actually come out by a lesbian researcher in Utah. Have you heard of Lisa Diamond?
TY WYSS: I haven’t.
ANNE PAULK: Okay, she’s a lesbian researcher. She’s on the committee, the task force for homosexuality for the APA. And her research has shown that men and women both have more likely to have sexual fluidity. In fact, that’s a common component amongst LGBT identity is that it’s not necessarily fixed. It’s like the Kinsey scale one to seven. But that over a lifetime, people tend towards heterosexual identity in their changes. And this is from a completely secular research perspective. Fascinating, I thought.
TY WYSS: That is really interesting. I do think that’s really interesting. I do think that our sexual orientations, or our sexual feelings or just how we experience our sexuality, is really fluid— much more than what culture would want us to believe. As if it’s this fixed, immutable, 100% unchanging thing forever. And I think, yeah, even secular science says this proves that so. But I would love to look into that. So thanks for that.
ANNE PAULK: Yeah, that would be fascinating. Can I ask you one other thing? If you don’t mind, Julie.
JULIE ROYS: No, go ahead.
ANNE PAULK: Ty. You mentioned that your sexual attraction hasn’t changed towards men. I understand that you’re attracted to your wife and that’s wonderful. But I was wondering if there’s been any minor changes in the frequency of your attraction—the intensity of your attraction? I mean, I guess the thing that I’ve been frustrated with over the last 10 years, probably has been this soundbite philosophy where it’s all or nothing or it’s this or that. I mean, it’s almost like that there’s a light switch opportunity rather than a dial of options of answers. And I prefer to have the dial because I don’t think life is generally made up of light switches on human sexuality or identity or feelings or thoughts. And so, where would you—compare yourself now to the man you were 10 years ago or when you first came to Christ? What’s the difference in, actually, maybe the intensity or frequency or whatever of your attractions to men? Even though you still have them.
TY WYSS: Yeah, so I love that metaphor of a dial. I think that that’s really helpful. Actually, so I didn’t even deal with the sexual abuse until about five years ago in my story. And so, I actually felt like things were, probably in my mid to probably my early to mid-20s was very relatively not as—my attractions weren’t as intense. And then once when I experienced them, and it wasn’t reparative therapy. It was just really therapy for the sexual abuse. That really, in many ways, it has healed my soul in beautiful, beautiful ways. A lot of ways it has also stirred up a lot of things as well. And so I would say where I’m at today, as a 34-year-old man, is that I experience probably more intense attraction to men than I did in my mid-20s. But I would also caveat that with I feel like my heart is a lot more healthy and whole. Which I know sounds like a paradox. And if you’re asking me, I think that’s not what I was expecting. I was expecting maybe a little bit more, a little bit less attraction to men once I dealt with these issues. And maybe that is to come. I don’t know. But as a 34-year-old man, sitting here doing this interview, my attraction to men is actually more intense.
JULIE ROYS: So let me, we just have two minutes. I hate to do this, but we have two minutes left. Really quickly, Ty. So based on your experience, and how your understanding of Scripture and God working, you say to the church, what? When you have a person with same-sex attraction. What if you could just boil it down to one thing? What would you say to the church?
TY WYSS: Yeah. Walk alongside them in a way that relieves them of shame where they’re able to be open about their experience and they don’t have to edit their life. And let God be the dictator, almost a dictator, but the leader, the shepherd, of how they steward and how they identify. And let that really be a journey without all the agendas and expectations.
JULIE ROYS: Okay, let me throw it to Anne. If you can do this one thing. You’ve got about 30 seconds,
ANNE PAULK: Okay. I would recommend to the church to keep the door of transformed lives open. The gospel is nothing if it doesn’t include everyone in that picture of come to Jesus, surrender your life, be made new into His image. And that includes forsaking sin—sin-based identity. And it’s not the either/or, us/them. It’s let’s all walk into Jesus together and walk in faithfulness, indeed stewardship. But also surrender and let Him move and even in the area of feeling. It’s possible.
JULIE ROYS: Thank you. And thank you Anne and thank you Ty for just openly sharing with your experience. I appreciate that so much. There’s one scripture that comes to mind with this issue for me. It’s II Corinthians 5:17—”If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.” Does that mean that when we get saved, we automatically become this new creation that has no sin nature, that has none of these bad desires? No. But I do believe in progressive sanctification and I always leave open the possibility that God can change anything, and that includes sexuality. That’s my view. I’d love to hear from you. Again, you can go to JulieRoys.com. Thanks again to Anne Paulk and Ty Wyss. Thanks so much for joining me. Hope you have a great weekend and God bless.