Straight Outta LGBT

I spent plenty of time in the presence of God. I read my Bible for years, and I prayed for God to miraculously take same-sex attraction (SSA) away, but nothing happened.

I’m not saying those things don’t work because I know of people who have had an encounter with God and SSA completely vanished, but for me, it wasn’t like that.

Why did I not receive complete deliverance at one of the hundreds of altar calls I answered? Was there something wrong with me? Did God just not like me as much as others? Did I not deserve deliverance because God hated gays? Some of my questions never received answers, but I knew God didn’t play favorites and He had great gifts for His sons and daughters. I had a deliverance destined for me. I just didn’t know how to get it.

I was an openly gay teen. I loved God, but He wasn’t my only lover. For the longest time, I never understood why I was attracted to the same sex and why everyone else was born normal. Since I can remember, I have always been different from other guys. I was treated differently in elementary school. In kindergarten, it only took my first best friend one day to never speak to me again because I was too “weird.”

At the age of ten, I was molested by a guy. I didn’t have a dad to run to, so for years, I wrestled with the “why” question. Why was I the victim? Maybe my difference translated into vulnerability to him. Throughout middle school, I was bullied and labeled “gay.” At that point in my life, I had no identity. I didn’t stand for anything so I fell for everything. I accepted the label. My difference became homosexuality.

I learned fast that accepting the labels didn’t stop the labeling. Agreeing with naysayers fueled the fire rather than quieting the crowd. In the middle of all the chaos, I decided to follow Jesus. Little did I know following Jesus was not a quick fix for my life. That decision actually made everything harder. Now I had the responsibility of proving to everyone that I somehow quit cold turkey and was no longer attracted to guys. I was in a whirlwind of emotions and identities. My life started to spiral out of control. I fell into depression and started to harm myself. My family started to distance themselves from me. I didn’t blame them. I wouldn’t know what to do if I was put in their position.

Fast forward a few years, and in the midst of my messy life, God began to encounter me on a deep level. I wasn’t seeking Him in any way or desiring what He gave me. He came out of left field. I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit without knowing what it was, but from that moment on, I could sense God’s love peeling back the layers of pain and rejection that had gripped my heart. He began to speak to me in the most intimate way. It made no sense to me that a holy God would choose to encounter and speak to the heart of an openly gay teen.

Through God lavishing me with His love, I began to realize that a lot of my problems, if not all of them, were an issue with the way I thought. Ephesians 4:23 says, “… let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitude.” That’s exactly what I began to do. I began to pray, “Lord, cut on me; don’t cut me off.” This process taught me that a relationship with Jesus is just that: a relationship. It takes time and investment. It’s a journey, and in this journey, I have learned how to personally overcome homosexuality and same-sex attraction. Before you continue reading, this is not the way to see freedom in your life. This is the way God led me to freedom. Your relationship with God is personal and unique. What works for me might not work for you. After all, this is Christianity, not a one-way American dream.

1. God was taking me on my own journey that didn’t look like anyone else’s. 

I could sit down with all the counselors in the world and try to get help from them, but without God, I would never change. He created me, therefore He had the answers.

2. Homosexuality and same-sex attraction were an issue of the thoughts in my mind.

The voice in my head that spoke to me nonstop was fueling my issues. It wasn’t molestation that caused me to be gay. It wasn’t an absent father or being born different that caused same-sex attraction. My experiences didn’t cause my problems. What I thought about my experiences caused my problems. In other words, if I could change what my mind dwelled on, I could change my life. Holy Spirit led me to stop saying “I am a gay Christian” to “I struggle with same-sex attraction.” I am glad He didn’t stop there because that would’ve just been going from bondage to bondage. That small shift in mindset laid a foundation and opened the door for complete freedom. Shortly after, I began to declare, “Same-sex attraction is not a sign of a lack of love, it is a symptom of spiritual brokenness.”

3. I was attracted to what was mysterious.

The only reason I was attracted to the same sex was because I saw guys as a mystery. Therefore, I wanted to get close to what I didn’t understand. It seems weird, but remember that I was treated differently even from birth. My experience did not create this mystery, my thought processes about it did. So I decided to make what was common to me (girls) a mystery and what was a mystery to me (boys) common. I stopped hanging out with girls and starting hanging out with guys. At first, it was extremely awkward and uncomfortable, but as time went by my life began to transform. God transformed things so drastically, my appearance even began to change!

4. When I looked into the eyes of fire, all other lovers burned away.

The glue that held my freedom together was the fact that Jesus desired to be intimate with me. The most intimate people lock eyes with each other. Watch happily married couples. They love each other so they make intimate eye contact. When I locked eyes with the One who died for me, everything changed. I began to become like the One I was daily beholding.

These short simple truths changed my life completely. Now I live in complete freedom from homosexuality and same-sex attraction. I live full of attraction for God and my wonderful girlfriend.

God did not just deliver me out of darkness, He delivered me into His marvelous light!

Zachary Holder, AL, United States

—– UPDATE ——

I wrote this blog in July of 2016. I am now married to that beautiful woman, Bayleigh Autumn Holder. We are currently starting our family and are on fire for Jesus like never before. We are missionaries who believe in finishing the Great Commission, but most of all, I no longer am attracted to men! No more thoughts. No more desires. No more confusion. What about God?!


Zachary and Bayleigh Holder are alumni of the Ramp School of Ministry in Hamilton, Alabama pursuing a lifestyle of presence and purpose. They are currently working towards nonprofit status for their ministry “One Family, Every Nation” where they will establish a 24/7 prayer and worship center in the heart of downtown Hamilton and send out missionaries to the unreached people groups of the world. 

Sex After Divorce

I remember talking to a friend right before I moved from my hometown and away from my marriage. “If there’s one piece of advice I can give you,” she said, “it would be to not rush into another relationship.” I assured her this was the furthest thing from my mind, but she insisted. She had thought the same thing when her previous relationship had ended, she explained, but she had surprised herself with becoming sexually free very quickly. At the time, I thought her advice was unnecessary. But looking back now, I’m wishing I had taken her comments to heart.

My husband and I were in our early 20’s when we married. We both came from Christian families and had both, miraculously, saved ourselves for marriage. Divorce was the furthest thing from our minds, let alone sleeping with anyone else, but within a few short years this became a reality and let me tell you, it was not pretty.

I’ve come up with all the excuses in the book for why our marriage ended. We were too busy, I was depressed, we were stressed financially, he was controlling. But really, it all boils down to the fact that neither of us was truly maintaining our relationship with the Lord. Our faith walks were religious, not personal. If God had been our focus and our passion, the worldly definitions of success wouldn’t have widdled us down and exhausted us. If God had been our center it would have been easier to fight through the dark valley we were struggling in.

To separate myself from my husband, I moved to a new city and started my life. I thought the new, carefree world I had created for myself was where I was supposed to be. My focus remained on the worldly definitions of success and happiness which quickly influenced my new relational status. Three months later, I found myself in bed with someone I should not have been with. This was the first of many casual relationships that I would enter into in the following two years of rebellion, none of which were satisfying or long lasting.

I’m surprised, looking back, how easy it was for me to jump into the lifestyle of promiscuity. I had never been that girl and it went completely against my morals and even my desires. I pretended for a while that this part of my life was fun and exciting, but deep down I knew something was wrong. Even though these encounters lead to fun girl-talk with my friends, I would cry myself to sleep at night, my heart aching for something more meaningful. I had never felt more alone, empty or directionless.

Finally, my hardened heart became soft for the Lord, and I listened to the instructions I knew He had been giving me all along. God grabbed me back with a vengeance, and I am so grateful for His unconditional grace and love.

Sex after divorce is such a difficult subject. Even if we had saved ourselves for marriage, our bodies are now awakened to the sexual world, and it’s hard to turn that tap off once it’s been opened. Even though your sex drive is a very powerful part of you, I’ve realized the drive I’ve felt after divorce goes even further than that. Sex is attractive, yes, but intimacy is even more attractive.

“Sex is attractive, yes, but intimacy is even more attractive.”

I had realized it was the search for intimacy that was driving me to get involved in casual relationships so quickly. I was craving that closeness, to be known and appreciated by someone like I had been with my husband, for my heart to be felt by someone else’s heart. It was a long and painful, even damaging, learning curve to see that these relationships wouldn’t bring anything close to the true intimacy I was actually searching for.

In coming to this realization, I knew that I had to withhold myself from sexual relationships outside of marriage. Not only was God asking me to do this, but I knew that logically it was what I had to do if I wanted to find a truly intimate relationship. God was asking me to abstain, not to enforce a rule, but because He knew how destructive non-intimate relationships were on my heart and how they weren’t where I would find what I was looking for and what I truly needed.

The world defines intimacy as a sexual encounter, to be ‘intimate’ with someone. But really, casual sex encounters have no intimacy in them, and I would argue that any sexual encounters outside of a marriage hold very little intimacy, if any. I’ve had sexual interactions within marriage and outside of marriage both in casual relationships and committed relationships. From first-hand experience, I stand firm on the opinion that sexual intimacy outside of marriage in any form cannot be compared to what it is within the boundaries of marriage.

It’s unfortunate that I had to experience this first hand in order to learn the importance of waiting for sex within the boundaries of marriage. Yet I do know that I am forgiven, and grace has been poured over me. My past sin has been erased, and I am clothed in pure white before God.

I still struggle with being a sexual creature, I am still tempted, and I will admit that I have fallen to that temptation even after God has shown me the truth of my actions. I share that honestly with you because there are so many of us who are now divorced and trying to navigate this new world of relationships. It is a difficult path but with God’s strength helping us, it’s not impossible.

-Katie Smith, 33, British Columbia, CA

Fake Dating

I’d been doing it for years, but it took me a while to realize it. One day I finally woke up to the fact that I had spent years of my life fating, or fake dating. 

I can see how the pattern developed. Growing up with brothers, I always had a natural connection with guys. They just seemed to be more relaxed about life. They accepted the world as it was, without any analyzation, suspicion, or complication. Naturally, I was flattered when men were drawn to me and wanted my attention. It wasn’t until later that it started a painful cycle.

What started out as flattery turned into empty words. Hanging out casually led to a subconscious desire for commitment. I was convinced that girls and guys could just be friends, that all the dinners for two, dancing, and spending time together didn’t have to mean anything. Deep down I started to realize I wanted something more.

After my thousandth time having a handsome guy friend take me out, kiss me, woo me, but then fail to commit to me, I finally started to believe in this thing called fating. My final breaking point came when a close male friend of mine started to show interest in me. He was at my beck and call. If I needed a cup of coffee, a dinner, or even a massage, he was my man. The only problem was…it was utterly boring. There was no chase, no mystery, no challenge!

One fateful night, as my fake- boyfriend rubbed my back, I felt the Lord speak to me and say, “This is you! This is what you do!” Shocked out of my sultry massage, I began to think about the patterns in my life. Surely all those guys in the past had liked me, and not just wanted to use me. I hadn’t gone too far over the line physically, so I had to be good, right?  I sat in denial for a few moments, but then slowly began to realize the truth. I had been giving myself not just physically, but emotionally to men for years. It took a desperate man to hold up the mirror to a formerly desperate woman, but that is where my freedom began…

Jesus started to show me I had fated my whole life, because I really didn’t know my value. I didn’t think I was worth pursuing, so I just took what I could get. I was like a starving girl, desperate for love, who’d settled for fast food hamburgers, instead of leaving room for a steak. The fake boyfriends in my life were taking the place of the man who would actually ask me out on a real date, not just use me until he found something better…

As I started this journey towards freedom, the Lord showed me that not only did I not value myself, but there was a much bigger issue. The issue was my hopelessness. At the core of my being, I did not trust the Lord. I did not believe He would do what He said He would do, and bring me a husband. If I was being totally honest, I was hopeless in the area of romantic relationships.

I had been rejected by my fake boyfriends so many times, I didn’t have any faith for a real one.

Since I didn’t trust God, I would try to make a relationship happen myself. That’s why I had dozens of men who had “fated” me, and left me broken. Let me take a step back and say men can be fake dated as well. The old saying “it takes two to tango” still rings true here. I had allowed men to fake date me. They were not the only ones to blame. As the Lord continued to uncover these root issues, it felt like the arrows that had pierced my heart were being taken out. It was painful, but the pain felt good.

As Jesus restored my heart, I started to notice other women who had fake dated. I looked around the church and saw an epidemic of beautiful, strong, spiritual women who wanted to get married, but who were still single. I realized part of the reason was because Christian guys and girls had been fake dating each other. They were getting all their emotional and physical needs met and didn’t see any reason to commit. Then the questions started to rise. What if we put an end to this fake dating? What if godly men and women learned their value in Christ, started really trusting the Lord with their love lives, and stopped getting each other’s needs met without any type of commitment?

If I could send a message to the beautiful, strong women who have found themselves in this same cycle, here’s what I would say: When you find your value in Jesus, when you trust Him with your love life, and when you realize you deserve to be pursued and not just used, something strange happens. You start attracting godly men, who recognize a woman who values not only God, but who values herself. You honor the Lord and you honor the beauty of relationships and intimacy. You start getting a real fancy dinner date, instead of a cheap make-out session. So let’s stop the fake dating (because we deserve better) and let’s go after what’s real.

-Anna, 27, Tennessee, US

Seeking the Best For Others

Growing up, when my parents would ask me a question like, “Why did you put that there?” I’d hear an attack. I also learned as a little child that when the chocolate got put out, I should shove as much as I could into my mouth or else I’d miss out. These lessons seem funny to me now, but I carried them with me into my marriage.

When I married Louise, I resolved that it would be for life, and even more, that it would be better day by day. It didn’t take me long to realize that the lessons I had learned as a child weren’t serving me well in marriage. If Louise asked me a basic question, my self-preservation instincts flared up and I would be very defensive. Later, we would talk it through and I would realize that she had just asked a perfectly normal question. Over time, I came to really know that Louise is totally for me. That’s not something she just says—she means it. As I began to discover the truth that I was safe with Louise, I stopped using “self-preservation” and started to be intentional about hearing her questions as questions rather than attacks. This has been really significant for our relationship and taken us to new levels of health in our marriage (and to be honest, with other relationships as well). I am free to concentrate on being the best husband I can be and meet all of her life needs that I can. It is a thrill to look to heaven to see how we can strengthen our marriage. In just a few months we will have been married 12 years, and I can honestly say that I loved Louise with all my heart on the day I said “I do”, and that I love her more today than ever before. And this isn’t the end. God says there is even more to come.


– Shane, 33, Australia

Restoration of Love

About three and a half years ago, a sequence of events began that would ultimately change my life forever. About that time, I was living with my girlfriend who, in all honesty, I hooked up with in a one night stand. We both grew up in church and knew that how we were living was wrong, but we wanted it to work so we made up every excuse we could to make it seem ok.

Fast-forward to right now. We are still together, we are madly in love with each other, and even greater, we are insanely in love with God. We have huge hearts to help others transform their relationships to allow God to be at the center. How did all of this happen? God. Only God could pour out enough grace in our relationship to completely transform it to one of purity, honor, and covenant.

We allowed God to basically put our relationship in reverse and then slowly rebuild it, all the while changing our beliefs and mindsets. This isn’t an easy process, especially when couples stay together like Libby and I did. We moved out and became physically pure with each other, which meant no sex, no foreplay, and during certain time periods, no kissing and no hand-holding. During this time God taught me I needed to know myself before I could attempt to understand someone else. I had Libby in my “God spot.” I looked to her for everything—joy, happiness, value, confirmation, and even guidance. I had to come to the understanding that only God can be in the God spot. I had to learn what it meant to have an identity as a son to God.


– John, 23, Florida, US

Breaking Up With the Timeline

About three years ago, I stood at the altar, pink bridesmaid dress, curled hair and bouquet of pink and white roses. My friend since high school stood next to me, same dress, shiny wedding ring on her left hand. We were there to celebrate one of our closest friends as she stood across from her groom, making a promise to stay by his side. Right there, in the middle of the most significant moments of her life, a thought dropped into my mind making my heart race:

“Your two best friends are married. You should at least be engaged by now.

We all have an idea of how our lives will turn out. I remember dreaming about it with the same friends that were standing at the altar next to me that day. I felt a strong desire to reach life’s milestones around the same time they did. As time passed, I started to realize this wasn’t going to happen. The sting of disappointment worsened with the feeling that I had failed in some way.

Disappointment turned to pressure. I felt anxious when I saw other people getting engaged or entering into relationships. I felt my heart sink into my chest when I saw baby announcements. Instead of celebrating friends getting married and bringing new life into the world, I became worried about being behind schedule. I started to be mad at God too. I had trusted Him, why was He keeping things from me?

There came a point when I needed to break up with the timeline. At first, I thought it was keeping me on track. I thought it was helping me pursue the happy life I wanted. Although there were certain things in my control, like being social and open to meet guys and go on dates, ultimately I couldn’t control when I would meet the right person. The timeline I was holding over my head wasn’t helping me; it was stealing from me. I had to stop waiting around like my life wasn’t going to start until I met someone, and start living. I wanted my life to be rich and full, not just during my married years, but for all my single years as well.

“I had to stop waiting around like my life wasn’t going to start until I met someone, and start living.”

It’s hard to find words to describe the rest I felt when I finally broke up with the timeline. I realized my goals to reach certain points by certain times were burdens that my heavenly Father never asked me to carry. I prayed what felt like a risky, but necessary prayer: “God, you’re a good God. I believe You will fulfill every desire You’ve placed in my heart. If that’s tomorrow or ten years from now, that’s okay with me. I’m not letting my life be ruled by a timeline. I’m not going to compare my story to anyone else’s. I’m not going to miss out on this season of my life because I’m so anxious about when the next one’s going to start.” I felt the pressure lift off and my soul quiet for the first time in a while.

I now find peace in the truth that I have my own story unfolding, and it isn’t going to look like anyone else’s. Even though things didn’t work out like I thought they would, God is trustworthy. He tells us in Psalm 84:11 that He will not withhold any good thing from us, and I stand on that promise. I am learning to rest in the heartbeat of the good Shepherd. He leads me beside quiet waters and makes me lie down in green pastures. He restores my very soul. He doesn’t put weight on me but takes my weight upon His shoulders (Psalm 23:1-2, Matthew 11:28-30).

When I feel my anxiety start to rise or like I’m falling three steps behind, I take a moment to picture His face. He’s not worried, and He’s not in a rush. He’s not concerned that I won’t make it to my destination on time, but has peace for me at all times. I breath in deep knowing my trust in Him is secure and he holds my dreams in His capable hands.

-Andrea Alley, Intern

For more on this topic, check out some of our other blogposts:

Seriously Single

19 Lies Churched Kids Believe About Dating

10 Ways to Not Hate Being Single


Finding Freedom from Anxiety

One night, exhausted from a long, hard week of work as an automotive technician managing a repair shop in the Bay Area, I got in the bathtub to relax my tired body while my wife Kathy lay sick in her eighth month of pregnancy on the sofa. An hour or so later, I started to get out of the tub to dry off. But as I stood up, an intense thought hit me: I am going to die!

Like everyone else in the world, bad thoughts were not foreign to me, but this was different. This thought was so strong that it caused panic to rush through my whole being like stampeding cattle! My entire body began to tremble as my heart pounded out of my chest and my pulse raced uncontrollably. All my strength drained from my limbs, and I struggled to get out of the tub. I fell back into the water, shouting desperately for Kathy to help me. Eight months pregnant, she labored to get up off the couch, then she rushed into the bathroom where I lay helpless, scared and white as a ghost. I could barely talk, but I managed to mumble something about having a heart attack. She strained to help me out of the bathtub and onto the couch. Then she ran into the kitchen to call our family doctor, who was a customer of ours at the auto shop. He relayed a few questions to me through Kathy and concluded that I was having a panic attack, not a heart attack. Little did I know that this was the beginning of a three-and-a-half-year journey through hell.



That first panic attack initiated a constant state of fear in me. Going to work became really tough. It took all the strength I could muster just to get out of bed each morning. All throughout the day at the shop, high levels of anxiety overwhelmed my soul like waves crashing on the seashore in a violent storm. It was everything I could do just to concentrate on my job. As difficult as the days were, the nights were much worse. The panic attacks continued, turning into endless, tormenting nightmares. Horrible images filled my mind as I imagined terrible things happening to me or envisioned myself doing dreadful acts. Although I knew in my heart that these images and thoughts were illusions, they still felt so real. I often wondered if I were losing my mind. I could not sleep much, and I soaked the sheets with sweat every night.

A year passed without any relief. Finally, Kathy and I decided to quit our jobs and move up into the mountains to find a slower pace of life. We relocated to Lewiston, California, a town of about nine hundred people way up in the Trinity Alps. Living in the wilderness was definitely slower than the traffic-packed city we left behind. But it turned out that this only served to heighten my awareness of the rat race that was going on inside me.

As time passed, the fear intensified, affecting every aspect of our lives. I became claustrophobic to such an extent that I had to drive with the windows down in our car (even in the winter) so I would not panic. Although my personality is naturally outgoing, I became reclusive and never wanted to be around people. When friends came over to visit, I had Kathy get rid of them. I could not be in crowds, which eliminated shopping, restaurants, movies or doing anything in public. Although I continued to attend church, I sat in the back and got up to go outside several times during each service in order to reduce some of my crowd anxiety.



Two more years passed with no relief. Then, just when I thought it could not get any worse, I began to experience demonic visitations. Demons literally would come into our room at night and torment me. Lights went on and off, and pictures spontaneously fell off the wall! The phone rang every few minutes with people saying crazy things on the other end of the line. I am aware that many people do not believe in spirits, demons and angels, so this paragraph may be a little hard to swallow. But if you are reading this book and have had or are having these experiences, I hope you believe in them now.

Then, early one cold winter morning, something startling happened. The four of us were still living in Lewiston, and as usual, I could not sleep. I got up about 3:00 a.m., wrapped a blanket around myself and went into the living room. I turned the stereo on low and lay down next to the speaker so I would not wake my family. We did not get very good radio reception in the mountains, but I thought I would try to find a late-night talk show to help get my mind off my condition.

Finally, I tuned in to some preacher. The static was so bad that I could only make out about every third or fourth word of his message. Yet, in the midst of the noise, I heard him say something that would forever change my life. He quoted Paul’s exhortation to Timothy: “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7, nkjv). Then he went on to explain, “Fear is a spirit! Some of you are thinking you are going insane, but you are just listening to the spirit of insanity! Not all your thoughts are your own. Evil spirits talk to you by giving you their thoughts.”

I was stunned! I had been taught that Christians could be mentally ill but could not be demonized. What I did not realize until that night was that I had been educated right out of my solution.

I turned off the radio and asked Jesus what I should do. Immediately I heard a Voice inside my spirit say,“You have been listening to the spirit of insanity and the spirit of fear. Tell them to leave you right now!”

Lying on my back on the living room floor, I said in a quiet but confident voice, “You spirit of fear and you spirit of insanity, get off me right now in Jesus’ name!”

I could not see anything, but suddenly I felt something get up off my body. It physically felt like a lead blanket, the kind dentists use during X-rays, and it was being lifted off me. My shaking completely stopped, peace filled my soul and my mind was clear again. Joy overwhelmed my heart, and I laughed out loud for the first time in more than three years. A miracle had happened in my life, and I was eager to tell Kathy and the world about it.

What I experienced that night was not some kind of spiritual hype or psychosomatic occurrence. I was set free! I enjoyed complete freedom for more than a week. After three years of hell, it was amazing to be filled with peace. My joy returned, my appetite came back and all my physical symptoms disappeared. The demonic visitations left, and for the first time in years, I slept through the night.

Almost three decades have passed since that fateful night when I had lain on the floor in our little house way up in the woods and had found freedom. Over these last thirty years, I have helped thousands of people get free, find solace and learn to live in peace.

For more on this subject, check out my book Spirit Wars.

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Insecurity, Pride and Past Relationship Failures

When I recall my previous relationships, I cringe because I was so immature in the way I communicated and processed my feelings. I would project my feelings and issues onto the guy I was dating, leaving me with little-to-no responsibility in any area. My insecurity and pride would always affirm that it was him who had to change to make everything better.

In most recent years, God has been my relationship guide, and since giving Him room to speak and humbling myself in my current relationship, I am able to see what needs to change in me. I am able to ask for forgiveness and admit when I am in the wrong. In the past when I was hurt, anger was my first response. Now I am able to identify what the root issue is in the heat of the moment. However, I did not get here overnight and I am still in process.

Allowing a boyfriend, girlfriend, family member, or friend to speak into your life will absolutely challenge you and help you see things inside that you aren’t always aware of. I am enabling myself to mature into a more teachable, powerful, and aware woman by receiving correction from the Holy Spirit and those who love me.

Seeing my reactions, insecurities, and hurts isn’t always pretty, and the process isn’t easy, but the woman I am morphing into is the beautiful woman God has designed and created me to be. Being in relationship has exposed me to myself, like holding up an internal mirror. I am so glad that I do not have to live in deception any longer and can allow God and my boyfriend to help me to identify and fill the cracks in my foundation.

– Dawn, 24, Canada

Co-Ruling and Co-Leading With Your Spouse

In my conservative, evangelical background, girls were raised to believe that we weren’t as important as men. Only men got the “good” gifts, like leadership and teaching. Our job as women was to teach children’s Sunday school and bake casseroles for various functions. We were taught to be silent and submissive, and never to question “God’s order” of things.


After marriage, my husband and I began attending a charismatic church where we were introduced to The 10 Lies the Church Tell Women by J. Lee Grady and Why Not Women? by Loren Cunningham, the founder of YWAM. Many of the Scriptures that had been used to teach submission were explained in the Greek, and they were not what we had been taught to believe.


We learned that Christ died to free women from every curse, even those brought on by the Fall (Gal. 3:13). God’s original plan for me was to co-lead and co-rule alongside my husband, and Christ died to restore that order (Gen. 1:26-28). For the first time in my life I felt affirmed—I was just as powerful and as important as a man! It took me a while to accept those truths. I felt rebellious just reading those books. “Submission” had been hammered in hard.


My husband had some un-learning to do, but with a minor in Women’s Studies, he was quick to champion me. He supported me as I led the prayer ministry at our church for seven years, designed an inner healing ministry (which turned out to be the most popular class at church), and eventually coordinated county prayer events under the National Day of Prayer. He now fervently backs women and violently opposes them marrying “below” themselves just to get a husband.


– Holly, 44, California, US

She is 16

She is 16 years old.

This is her first real relationship.  She’s dated some boys before, but this one has lasted through five months, two dances, Christmas and spring break, and it was a big deal to her. He also told her that he loved her; she has never been in love before.  All of her friends told her it was the “real and forever” kind of love. She had the classic teenage complaints about her parents.  She felt like the idea that she was in love would be silly to them.  She always felt like they never truly understood her.


This is not the first heart-to-heart we’ve had.  She has been in our living room a number of times, and she has always come to us when she needed direction. Her relationship with her parents was good and they had always encouraged her to come to us, her youth pastors, for spiritual advice. But when she sat down, I knew this one was going to be different.  She had never been this serious about a boy before.  We had met him when he’d come with her to youth group activities and over to the house when the kids hung out.  He was a nice guy but didn’t connect with her deep spiritual beliefs.  He said he was a Christian and went to church, but never really had much else to say on the subject.


As she sat there, I could tell she was nervous.  I could tell that she had something weighing heavily on her heart, but she was dancing around the subject.  In my straight-to-the-point, no-time-for-games, loving way, I asked her, “What is really going on? Why did you want to talk to us?” She was used to this type of conversation from us; the kids actually seemed to appreciate when we talked to them like adults.


“He wants me to…” She paused slightly. “Sleep with him.” Her head dropped and she stared at her feet in silence.
“Ok?” I probed, breaking the silence. “What do you think about that?”


Her head popped up, wide eyes full of surprise. She looked like no one had ever asked her that question before, like she hadn’t expected it. She began to tell us what her friends were saying, and that everyone was doing it, and that if she didn’t do it, she was worried he would dump her.  Some of her friends had lost their virginity and they kept telling her how great it was.  This went on for a few minutes.  Then I asked her the question again, “That’s what your friends think, but what do you think?”


She paused. “I know that God designed sex for marriage. I know that there is so much more connected to it than what my friends say. I know I have always wanted to save myself for marriage, but I’m so confused. He says he loves me and that the only way to show him how much I love him is to sleep with him.  But sex is such a big deal!”


She reviewed all the things that her parents had taught her and what we had said about how God designed sex for marriage and how beautiful it was in that context. She told us about the consequences of sex before marriage, STD’s and pregnancy– all the answers she thought were right.  “I am still so confused!” she said with exasperation, bursting into tears.


I leaned in toward her and asked one question — four simple words. Four simple words that would change her life for the next 8 years:

“What is God saying?”



I am 17 years old.

It’s been two months since he broke up with me. Two months since I told him that I wanted to wait till marriage to have sex. Two months since he tried to pressure me into sex. Two months since he said, “If you really love me, you will sleep with me. Waiting till marriage is so old fashioned.  Everyone is doing it. It’s what teenagers do!” Two months since I heard the voice of God so deep in my heart say, “Wait. I have so much more for you.”

These two months have not been fun for me.  “Not fun” is an understatement. He said he loved me, but I saw quickly how conditional that love was. After our huge fight, where he called me a lot of horrible names and told me I owed him, he stopped talking to me. Just like that, it was over. It’s amazing that someone can say that they love you and then when you don’t do what they want, how quickly that “love” goes away. The next day his friends began to share with me what they thought of my choice. I never knew how creative high school boys could be with words and gestures. If I hear the word “prude” one more time, I might go crazy.


My friends haven’t been much better. I really have uncovered the meaning of true friendship.  Some were there to dry my tears as I went through the break up, some just stopped talking to me after I made my choice. Some joined in with the name-calling.  I think the girls are worse than the boys. Usually, I can go into the girls locker room to escape what the guys are saying, but that doesn’t stop my old friends once I’m in there.  Most of the time, it’s said in whispers or behind my back, but it cuts deep. Those that wanted me to do it in the first place seem to be the ones that left the quickest.


My birthday is today.  My best friend is still around and is still supportive. Tonight we are going to see a movie and go out to eat with my family.  The hardest part is how lonely I feel.  Two months ago, I thought that I would be spending this day with him. Two months ago, I thought that I would be spending all my birthdays with him. After all, as my “friends” said, love is forever.


So no, these last two months have not been easy.  They have sucked, actually. But I don’t regret my choice.  I know that day, when I sat in my youth pastor’s living room, I heard God.  I heard that He has a plan for me and that I should wait.  Every day since then I keep asking Him the same question: “Did I make the right choice?” That is when His love fills me and He reminds me to wait, because He has so much more for me.


She is 24 years old.

From the caller ID, I can tell it’s her.  I still have the silly contact picture we took of her when she graduated from high school.  The one with her tongue sticking out of her mouth, silly string on top of her grad hat and life in her eyes.  She calls me from the other side of the country.  She has graduated from college and has begun to follow her calling, her destiny.


She’s no longer the unsure teen who sat on my couch; she’s now a young woman, vibrant and in love, calling me to talk about wedding plans.  She has asked that my husband perform the ceremony.  She is giddy and talking a million miles an hour.  But I sense there is something deeper lingering, something reminiscent of all the times she came to us for direction throughout the years.


“Three months until I’m married!  I am so excited!” she squeals.  We discuss the place where the wedding is being held. She met her fiancé in college, at her church.  He shares the same values and beliefs she does.  He actually grew up in a small town only thirty minutes from us, so the wedding will be here, at our church.  She always wanted it that way.


As her excitement winds down, what she really called to talk about comes to the surface. “We are struggling,” she says, finally.


“What do you mean, ‘you’re struggling’?” I ask.


“We are so close to the wedding, but honestly it’s so hard to… you know….” her voice trails off. I’m sure her eyes have fallen to her feet and her face is flushed; some things never change. She and her fiancé are both virgins.  He had victory in his purity all through high school and college as well, though his frat brothers hadn’t made it easy.


“Ok? So tell me what’s going on.”


“Well, we both know that God wants us to be together. It’s just that knowing that, it’s so hard to wait. It’s hardest when we are alone and…he…he is just such a good kisser!”


I have to admit, I laugh at that.


“Both of you made an agreement when you started dating, one where you asked us and your current pastors to keep you accountable. Has something changed?” I ask.


“No, that’s why I am calling you. How do we do this?  How do we keep ourselves off each other?” she asks, obviously very frustrated. I stifle a laugh.


We begin to discuss the boundaries they had set for themselves; what’s okay and what’s not okay to do.  Then, I ask her some hard questions.  Where were they when they found themselves in these situations? Had they gone too far? How far is too far for them?  They hadn’t had sex, but they had gotten close and it was usually when they are alone in his or her apartment. We explore that a little further as well.


“Well, I guess we shouldn’t be alone in each others apartments anymore,” she concluded with a sigh. “It’s just so hard!”


Then I asked her that same question that I had asked eight years ago:


“What is God saying?”


Three months later, she walked down the aisle to meet her soon-to-be husband in the whitest of white wedding dress. They had won the battle! They had made it! She had been through it all. She had lost boyfriends, friends and her popularity, but she had made it and no one was going to take that away from her. God truly had so much more for her!


– Johanna Wilson, Volunteer