Pastor Ken Williams of Bethel Church in Redding, California, says that members of the LGBTQ community do not need to struggle alone against their sexuality and can, instead, turn to Jesus to deal with their same-sex attraction.
Williams — who is married with four children — details his own personal journey away from homosexuality in his new book, "The Journey Out: How I Followed Jesus Away from Gay."
What happened to him?
During an interview with the Daily Signal, Williams explained the traumatic events that took place during his formative years that he said stirred within him a homosexual urge.
"I'm not speaking to the people that are content with an LGBTQ life," he told the outlet's Virginia Allen. "But there are so many that are not fulfilled with that. It doesn't scratch the itch. And so for those that it's like, 'This feels impossible. I feel disconnected from God over it,' I'm telling you, it does not have to be that way."
Williams told Allen that he had a regular upbringing, but always felt he didn't "fit in" with other boys his age because he was smaller and weaker than his peers.
Williams said that he was also exposed to what he referred to as "hardcore gay pornography" while he was playing with a group of friends.
"[W]hat I witnessed caused me to lose respect for males," he said. "Because obviously, I wouldn't describe what I saw but ... it's worse than you would expect. And really, dishonor and degradation is what I witnessed. ... I was already struggling because they mocked me and I was having trouble keeping up."
Williams added that some of those young boys then "initiated some touching."
"They were doing what they saw in those magazines," he continued, "and so now, I'm dealing with shame at a very deep level because I had no intention."
A turning point
Williams said that he was saved when he was 8 years old, but struggled to reconcile his love for God and what he'd experienced.
"I'm in love with Jesus," he recalled of his 8-year-old self. "I really wanted to follow Him and please Him and all of that, and yet, something entered my life I never expected."
"[W]hen you push masculinity away, I pushed me away," he said. "Consequently, I was constantly looking for me in another male. ... And so that search for finding me in someone else had gotten sexualized because my first sexualization was at the hands of only males."
Williams said that by the time he turned 17, he was already suicidal over what he described as an overwhelming emptiness that permeated through his life.
In desperation, Williams said he turned to his youth pastor and told him everything that had been plaguing him.
"He's like, 'Well, Ken, you're not gay.' And I was like, 'OK, that feels good.' And at the same time, 'Well, what do I do, though?'" he recalled saying.
Williams said that the youth pastor insisted upon having a discussion with Williams' parents — a suggestion to which Williams said he was immediately opposed, but to which he ultimately agreed.
"We just kind of wept and shared and all that," he said. "[M]y life began at that moment. ... [Y]ou'll never know unconditional love until you first share your condition."
God always has a solution
Williams said though the admission was a turning point, he continued to struggle with his identity in Christ and as a sexual being, so he began seeing a counselor at 17 years old and spent five years in therapy.
"[I]f God had given directives in Scripture about sexuality, and if He had said that homosexuality is not condoned, it's considered sin, then He must have a solution for it," he added. "Because He's not crazy, He's good. He's not diabolical. So if He says something's wrong, surely, He has a solution."
Williams said that the change didn't happen overnight, but the experience ultimately prompted him to become a pastor.
"[J]ust because I had an experience and I was touched inappropriately and that catalyzed things didn't mean that was who I was," he added. "That didn't mean that was the deepest and truest version of me. Merely, a pathway in my brain was opened up because of what happened to me. And so I was able to just go deep with the Lord and by seeing more of who He was, start to find who I was."
Williams told Allen that he wrote the book for those who "want a way out."
"[F]or those that it's like, 'This feels impossible, I feel disconnected from God over it,' I'm telling you, it does not have to be that way," he insisted. "I can't promise exactly what your future looks like, but I know that God ... does exceedingly, abundantly, above all we can ask or imagine."
Williams added, "[S]o many people try to do this on their own. They don't invite their community into it because they haven't felt safe to. But then we get picked off. The enemy's strategy so often is to isolate us. And then we're not very strong alone. But boy, when we have a community that can build around ourselves intentionally, there are a lot of great people out there that God has that can be a support to us."