Thousands living the homosexual lifestyle along with thousands not actively involved in a relationship, but who are dealing with same-sex attraction, are looking for a way out. Frequently the Christian church isn't equipped to deal with it, and often doesn't want to deal with it. Under political pressure from LGBT activists, the professional community is also backing away from counseling, which helps many who desire to leave the homosexual lifestyle to do so.

Now is not the time for either the church or the profession to run and hide. It’s time to engage.

Quite often, we treat the symptoms instead of finding the root cause. I was a lesbian for 14 years. I was walking around wounded, and knew that I wasn’t going to find healing on my own. My struggle is all too common. My mother had seven children by four fathers. None of those men stayed. I was a young, fatherless girl looking for stability, belonging and love. I ended up sexually abused, high on drugs and dealing cocaine. I was so lacking in self-worth that I retreated to the LGBT community to find acceptance.

Choosing that lifestyle did not solve my problems. In order to deal with all the baggage I carried, I needed to seek help. What that looked like for me might be different from what someone else needs. While the involvement of professionals is important, the role that Christian churches play is also critical when helping someone leave the homosexual lifestyle.

In my own experience, a group of women invited me to join them in their weekly Bible study. They knew my struggle, but they were willing to reach out and show love, patience and forgiveness toward me. Godly relationships are key in this transformation.

A person with same-sex attraction develops thought patterns that become strongholds. It takes consistent teaching, love, and the word of God to bring about transformation. This is a process. In many cases, deep wounds are involved and the behavior is just a reflection of those hurts.

David Pruden, executive director of NARTH, the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, said, “In the case of individuals with unwanted same-sex attractions, there are typically additional and even associated issues that must be resolved, such as depression or obsessive compulsive disorder. Then the hom­­­­­­­osexual feelings can be addressed.”

I wrote the story of my transformation in my book "Called Out." It was featured in Charisma magazine. I've also given my testimony many times on television as well as in many churches across our nation.

I am devoted to helping people come out of unwanted homosexuality. But while I and others are devoted to this cause, the apathy and unpreparedness of the church must change. Alarmingly, California and New Jersey laws have banned “conversion therapy” counseling for minors who want to leave homosexual lifestyles.

Although a challenge to the California law is on appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court, efforts to protect the right of families and therapists to make their own therapeutic choices have been successful in 12 states, including Maryland, Illinois and Washington.

This topic can no longer be ignored. Many churches have closed their eyes, hoping it would just go away. Or they have inwardly convinced themselves that they shouldn't address something so controversial. Our culture is forcing us to take a stand and to set things straight that have been confused.

Media and school programs promoting tolerance, equality, fairness and love are drawing our youths into the gay lifestyle. Most programs are prohibited from suggesting that it was Jesus himself who showed the way: “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

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People deserve truthful answers to questions. Gay activists say that change is impossible. I’m a living example that change is possible.

We may not have chosen this battle, but it has been thrust upon us. I urge the faith-based and professional communities to become informed and involved.

Janet Boynes is the director of the nondenominational ministry in Minneapolis, Minn., and Fort Worth, Texas. She is speaking at the SLCC Larry H. Miller Free Enterprise Auditorium in Sandy on Thursday, June 26.