Lisa Ling Asks: Is It Possible to Be Both Gay and Christian?

It's a conversation that has never gone away, but on Tuesday night, journalist Lisa Ling catapulted the debate on Christianity and homosexuality back into the spotlight.

"Pray the Gay Away?" was the title of the latest episode of "Our America" with Ling.

The longtime television journalist, whose new series is on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), sought to find answers to a question that continues to be asked today: Is it possible to be gay and Christian at the same time?

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For 17 students at The Naming Project's summer camp, it is.

"Everyone in this camp has heard many times over being gay is a sin, almost as though it was a broken record," the Rev. Jay Wiesner, pastoral director at The Naming Project, told Ling. "Our hope is to be able to offer a place for kids to become at peace with you they are."

Chelsea Shamy, 19, remembered being rejected at her church and at school after coming out as a lesbian. But she is convinced that God accepts her the way she is.

"I just felt so rejected because I know that's not what God is. God is love and that's not what they were sharing at all," she said on the show.

"I don't want to force it down their throats that what they've learned is hateful, but I'm just trying to do it through example ... and showing them that I'm a good Christian girl that loves God and loves people."

Later, she was voted as the first gay prom queen her senior year.

Christine Sneeringer doesn't believe homosexuality is compatible with the Christian faith. She left homosexuality at the age of 32.

"I know there's a lot of people that say you can [be both gay and Christian]," she told Ling. "I think it's a misinterpretation of Scripture to say that the Bible would bless and affirm homosexual relationships. To me, it's just really clear.

"I've lived to try to live in accordance with my faith."

Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, may be more well-known for leaving homosexuality. He heads what claims to be the largest worldwide ministry to those struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction.

He is married to his wife and has two children. Though he admitted that he still struggles with same-sex attraction and has to be careful with what he looks at on the Internet or at the movies, he noted that the same goes for any other married man who has to be cautious.

In his interview featured on "Our America," Chambers rejected the common accusation that he is denying who he really is.

"I'm denying the power that those things had over me," he asserted. "People say once you're gay, you're always gay; you can't break from that. That's not true."

In a blog post Tuesday, Chambers maintained that individuals can and do experience change. But eliminating attractions to a person of the same gender isn't necessary to living a Christian life.

He highlighted, "Diminishing or elimination of same-sex attraction can occur to varying degrees, but Exodus does not believe that an absence of same-sex attractions is necessary in order to live a life in harmony with biblical principles. Like I said during the interview, God wants our hearts more than he wants anything else. When He has our heart then and only then can He begin the transformation process."

"Change is possible," he added.

Though that change may not necessarily be a complete elimination of same-sex desires, for Christians, Chambers noted, "change is ultimately about embracing a new identity."

"This new identity is rooted in what God says is His best plan for individuals, humanity and sexuality."

That's the identity that Ethan Martin, an Exodus student, has assumed.

"Sexuality," he told the show, "is a part of our identity ... but it is not the core of our identity."

"My identity is now in Christ."

Martin clarified that even as a homosexual, God loved him. But, he posed, "Did I think that that (homosexuality) was God's best for me? And did I think that that was really what Christianity was about? No, I don't think so."

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