He Struggled With Same-Sex Attraction for Years Before Finding Freedom. Now, He Helps Others ‘Journey Out.’

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As a teenager, Ken Williams walked into a Christian bookstore looking for resources to help him overcome his same-sex attraction. He found none. 

Now, years later, Williams has authored “The Journey Out: How I Followed Jesus Away From Gay” to help other individuals seeking to leave homosexuality or struggling with same-sex attraction. 

The “book is for those that want a way out … ,” Williams says. “I'm not speaking to the people that are content with an LGBTQ life. 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.” 

Today, Williams is married with four children and is passionate about helping others find the freedom they desire. 

Williams is also a pastor at Bethel Church in Redding, California, and leads the Changed Movement with Elizabeth Woning, a Christian organization that works with people who are seeking to leave a homosexual lifestyle.

Williams joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to share his personal story and to explain how Christians can support those struggling with same-sex attraction. 

We also cover these stories: 

  • Former President Donald Trump has harsh words for his former attorney general, William Barr.
  • The Supreme Court says it won't hear a case appealing a lower court’s decision involving bathroom access for a since-graduated transgender student. 
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., says he has a plan to crack down on Big Tech companies. 

Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript. 

Virginia Allen: I am so pleased to be joined by Ken Williams. Ken is a pastor at Bethel Church in Redding, California, and the co-founder of the Changed Movement, which is a Christian organization that is based in California and works with people who are seeking to leave the LGBTQ+ lifestyle, who are struggling with same-sex attraction. Ken is also the author of the new book “The Journey Out: How I Followed Jesus Away From Gay.”

Ken, thank you so much for being here.

Ken Williams: Such an honor. Thank you, Virginia.

Allen: So, you were on the podcast with us about two years ago and you shared a little bit of your own journey, your struggle with same-sex attraction as a young person. You've now written a book telling your story, “The Journey Out.”

Just share with us a little bit of your story, just to review, as a refresher and what you experienced as a child and as a teen that really led to you thinking, “OK, I'm struggling with these same-sex attractions,” and then kind of what that journey out was.

Williams: Sure, thanks. In my experience, typically the formation of homosexual desires is multifactorial. And so that was the case with me. Looking back on what happened in my life, that's very clear.

I was the scrawny guy, so I didn't fit in with the other guys, just naturally. Boys are trained to exert their power and climb the thing the fastest or knock it over or whatever, and I was smaller. So I had a struggle there.

I also believe I was wired, called really, to be a pastor from birth. I think God's gifts and calling are like that. And so I wanted to talk deeply. Well, 7-year-olds, boys don't want to talk deeply. So I fit better with the girls just in that demeanor.

And also, and maybe most significantly, I was exposed to hardcore gay pornography just while playing with a few other boys in a field. One of the guys opened up a boot box that was just out there and what I witnessed caused me to lose respect for males. 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.

So I lost a lot of respect for males at that point. And I was already struggling because they mocked me and I was having trouble keeping up.

In addition to that, then those boys having witnessed that along with me, a couple of them initiated some touching and things like that. They were doing what they saw in those magazines. And so now, I'm dealing with shame at a very deep level because I had no intention. …

I got saved at 8 years old as well. And so I'm in a real dramatic moment in life because I'm in love with Jesus. I really wanted to follow him and please him and all of that, and yet, something entered my life I never expected.

Allen: And you're just a little kid. You have no ability to process this.

Williams: No one has ever talked to me about pornography. I didn't even know what that was until it was shown to me.

So my life just took a turn at that point. And now, I really just push masculinity away because it seemed wrong. It didn't seem godly or noble to me. And the problem is, I was male. So when you push masculinity away, I pushed me away.

Consequently, I was constantly looking for me in another male. And so there are different expressions of homosexuality or struggle. Mine was largely co-dependent. And so that search for finding me in someone else had gotten sexualized because my first sexualization was at the hands of only males.

The problem is, it's impossible to find me in someone else. And to me, that needs to be God revealing who he created me to be. And so instead of trying to find it early in him, I was trying to find it in these other guys.

So at 17 years old, I'm suicidal because I'm just really empty inside. Felt very lonely. Felt like nobody knew me, and really they didn't because I was making sure nobody really knew me.

Allen: Yeah, yeah. And you talk in the book about [how] you kind of reached this breaking point where it was like, “All right, someone has to know.” And you sat down, you wrote out everything that was going on in your heart, in your mind, and you showed it to your youth pastor. And then his response was—

Williams: 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?”

Allen: Yeah.

Williams: Because I'm pretty sure that was pretty clear on those nine pages that that's part of my struggle. So he said, ” … We're going to tell your parents.” And I said, “Oh, no, no. We're not going to do that.”

Because this is the 1980s. You don't tell anybody this. I didn't know a single person who was gay. I had never heard a single comment about homosexuality that wasn't dramatic, that wasn't “Wow, that's the worst thing.” And so no way did I feel safe to share that even with my parents, who I knew loved me.

Fortunately, we did it that evening and they cried with me, the way I remember it, a couple of hours. We just kind of wept and shared and all that. So it was a wonderful. I mean, my life began at that moment. Because I felt like several years ago, the Lord showed me that the only way you'll ever experience unconditional—well, you'll never know unconditional love until you first share your condition.

So many people, particularly in the LGBTQ experience, are trapped in that life for decades because they've never felt a safe place to actually share it all. And as we know from Scripture, confess your sins one to another that you may be healed.

So I wasn't experiencing unconditional love because nobody knew my condition. Once I shared my condition, I was able to receive the love that my parents had for me that I didn't know that they had to that level.

Allen: Yeah. So then what was the journey from that point, age 17, to today? You're married, you have kids. So was it in an instant all right, from the time you had that conversation, now the same-sex attraction is gone? Or was it a long, long journey?

Williams: You know, I don't believe it always has to be as long as my journey was. There weren't many resources back then. I wrote “The Journey Out” book, thejourneyout.me for anybody looking for it, I wrote that to be the book that I couldn't find.

Because I didn't tell this part, but I had gone into the Christian bookstore just before I wrote the letter to my pastor looking for resource, and there were none. So my first moment of having suicidal feelings was when I was walking out of the Christian bookstore. So I wrote the book to be that answer.

And what was the question that you just asked me?

Allen: … Because now you're married and you have kids, what was that journey to get to that point where “I do have attraction for women”?

Williams: Yes. It was as journey. And it began with just being hooked up to a counselor. That was the first thing that my parents said. They were like, “Well, what are you wanting?” I said, “Well, I don't want this. It's just, I've prayed a thousand times and I've tried to change the way I feel but I can't.”

So I started seeing a Christian counselor. And I was a minor, I was 17 years old. And I was no longer suicidal after I had shared with my parents and then had a counselor I could tell absolutely anything to and I wasn't going to be rejected. I was at a safe place for me to process and just walked with him for five years, weekly. That was the beginning.

And I just learned about God's grace. I learned about, “Yeah, OK, you've got some sin, you've got some struggle. But God loves you, Ken.” I was like, “Wow, that was just warm for me.” I was really very legalistic in my understanding of God. And so that was very vital.

And then really, I had an experience where I had had a five-year illness and a friend said, “Well, Ken, God doesn't want you to be sick.” And again, I was like, “What?” But he said, “No, God doesn't want you to be sick. There's healing all throughout the Bible, even physical healing.”

He laid hands on me, prayed, and … it's a longer story, I had a total encounter with God. All of the pain left. And for the first time in five years, I was pain-free. And so I no longer have that illness.

And that was so dramatic for me that I realized, oh, my goodness, God is good. Like, he didn't want me to be sick. So if that's true, and if 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. Because he's not crazy, he's good. He's not diabolical. So if he says something's wrong, surely, he has a solution.

So I went on a journey of finding more of him, how much can he be known and what will he offer for me. Psalm 103 is my favorite passage in Scripture. It's like, forget not all his benefits. He heals all your diseases, redeems your life from destruction, all these things. And so I went after that. …

It didn't happen overnight, like you said. But it did happen to where … I then went to a ministry school for three years and … I would say I experienced the transforming by the renewing of my mind. Because I realized how many lies I had believed.

So just because I had an experience and I was touched inappropriately and that catalyzed things, didn't mean that was who I was. 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.

Allen: Yeah, yeah.

We are talking with Ken Williams, author of “The Journey Out: How I Followed Jesus Away From Gay.” So, Ken, share a little bit about now. You co-lead the Changed Movement. You journey with individuals who are really kind of walking through the same thing that you did. How exactly did that come about to where you said, “OK, this is actually my ministry, in a way that I want to journey with people who are living this like I did?”

Williams: Yeah. I had been part of the leadership of a men's purity group at my church. So this is starting probably 12 years ago or 13 years ago. And I found so much fulfillment in that. I've been married to my wife now for 15 years. We have four kids. And so, boy, when God does something in your own life, it just feels really good to help other people who are where you used to be.

So I was able to do that in that men's ministry and started to just realize, “Wow, I have passion here. Wow, I have a sense of destiny when I'm able to—” You know, probably every eight weeks or so, I would be the featured speaker that week in that group. And I would just come alive. And I would realize, “Oh, my goodness, there are so many people out there that don't know what I know and really need that encouragement.”

I started there and then I ended up meeting Elizabeth Woning—another guest on your podcast—and we started comparing notes, another friend of ours, as well. … Weekly, we would have coffee and talk about what has God done for us, how did we find this version of ourselves and come out of an LGBTQ experience, and started ministering together.

And then in 2018, when California tried to pass a therapy ban that would have … made my book illegal, it would have shut down all the help that I got from my therapist, … there was no way we weren't going to stand up against that bill because that bill would have cost people their lives. There would have been people ending their lives like I almost did because they couldn't find hope. And it shut down the Gospel. It would have made it illegal allowing people to walk in the direction that God has called us to walk.

So, as we started speaking out against that legislation, it went viral on social media and people saw, “Wow, there are a bunch of people.” We had 30 people standing on the Capitol steps in Sacramento sharing their testimonies and picked up by the news and all that. So now, we have thousands of people traveling along together in a closed Facebook group, for example, that have the same experience.

Allen: It's so powerful. And legislatively, where do things stand right now? Obviously, in society, we're seeing an increase of conversations about LGBTQ and gender identity. What are some of the pieces of legislation that you all are watching? And I know you've been in D.C. this week talking with legislatures. What are you focused on?

Williams: Very much on the Equality Act and Fairness for All [Act]. … They have sweet names but when you look deeper than that, they're very harmful, very controlling. It's really the government stepping in and controlling people's sexuality.

And I understand that the effort is to provide protections for LGBTQ-identified people and I'm all in favor of them being treated with the dignity that every person deserves. Nobody should be discriminated against or treated unfairly. I think we're seeing in culture right now that, actually, an LGBTQ-identified person is on the verge here of maybe having even more liberties than some of the rest of us. I mean, certainly more than I do, to be quite frank.

We are cast as villains quite often because we're countercultural. And that, obviously, is not our heart. But I'm unable to accept a worldview that says that if someone has experienced confusion over their sexuality or has had a moment of homosexual desire that that's who they are because I know that that's not true.

And I know the fulfillment that I and so many of my friends have experienced by, as I talk about in the book, surrendering wholeheartedly, wholesale, to what God has called us to live and … what the confines are for our sexuality and then finding the piece that came with that. The joy, the feeling of connection and bonding with God that I wasn't able to experience when I still had my own plan for my sexuality in my back pocket that I could dip into if I was wanting to medicate myself.

So the Equality Act, Fairness for All … restrict rights of conscience, could potentially take away some freedoms of speech. They definitely interfere with my practice of my religion. And it's literally the government stepping in and saying, “These are the options for your sexuality, if you had had this experience.” …

It would create a scenario where doctors could be forced to violate their own conscience in giving treatment to people that let's say were requesting an attempt to change their sex. And would disallow them from being able to say, “No, I don't believe … Do no harm, I can't offer you this.”

So that's one of the major ones. There are ones that are also focused on the transgender situation that would be very harmful.

It's time for Christians to stand up, lovingly, and say “no.” To put the right people into office, to vote. To go show up at their school boards and say, “Well, you know what? If you're going to be implementing queer theory into the curriculum, if you're going to do comprehensive sex ed that's going to suggest to my elementary students, maybe even in kindergarten, that maybe this boy is a girl, then this is time for us to not only push back against that with the school board, but it's time to stand up and say, ‘OK, I want my medical doctor to be able to come in and talk about what does biology say about human sexuality. I want opportunity to talk about what it means to be a confident, healthy man and a confident and healthy female.'” Those types of things.

That's what's on my heart today. It's going to take pushing back with legislation but also just a grassroots, “No, I'm going to make a stand for Christian morality.”

Allen: Yeah. And as you're doing that, as you're sharing your story, as you're seeing others share their story through the Changed Movement, do you feel like you're being heard? Do you feel like lawmakers are, “OK, yeah, I'm hearing what you're saying. I'm paying attention.” Do you feel a positive momentum forward?

Williams: I do, I do. We have a long way to go. I'll be candid, we do have a long way to go. There are a lot of voices out there and major media is shutting down our voices.

When I post something on Facebook that is anything related to this issue, I have four likes, and two years ago, I had 200. So I'm being censored and my friends as well, our books canceled—fortunately, my book is not canceled, it's out there on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and things. But most of my friends' books are. So there are forces that we have to reckon with.

But I am very encouraged that Washington has begun to listen to us. We were able to start being known by some different legislative offices and different groups in D.C. And then in different states that are starting to realize, “Wow, if we don't kind of stand up now and if we don't start looking out for the welfare of people rather than just towing the line of woke culture, we're going to lose a lot. And there's going to be a lot of people left in the wake that are damaged.”

Allen: Yeah, yeah. Well, the book, “The Journey Out,” as you mentioned, it's available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Share a little bit just about who this book is for.

Williams: This book, I wrote it in the beginning of, dedicating it, this book is for those that want a way out. … You buy it if you want it. I'm not speaking to the people that are content with an LGBTQ life. 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.

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. That's his words, not mine. … “All things are possible to them that believe” is in the Bible.

So, when we come to the Lord and lay down everything, like I talked about in the “Surrender” chapter, it's amazing what he can do with our lives and how he can show us a version of ourselves—like the real, the deepest version of ourselves—that we've lived however many decades and are completely unaware of, when we really meet him in the places, like I point out in the book, where he's wanting to meet with us.

Allen: Yeah. Well, I love both that you share your story in the book but then, I feel like you just offer some really practical tools. Talking about vulnerability, talking about surrender, that encouragement that change is possible. Why did you decide to craft it the way that you did?

Williams: Well, I felt like I needed that.

Allen: Yeah.

Williams: … That's what I was always looking for. I'd be like, “Oh, well, you just got to follow the Lord,” or, “You just got to hear God.” I'm like, “Well, how do I do all that?” I really needed to be handheld a bit in my discipleship.

So, I broke it down in the way that I, thankfully, eventually, was able to experience it. And I put practical things in there like … how do you remove triggers from your life that are unnecessary. Because it's amazing how the enemy can convince us that we are something. He's a liar, right? We can see from the Garden of Eden, in the very beginning, that … the enemy was whispering into Adam and Eve's ears and lying to them about who they were and what was to be their future or what they needed and all that.

So, we need practicals about how we can understand what the lying voice is and how we can help ourselves. How do we remove the things from our lives that we're not ready to navigate right now? And probably more importantly, how do we add into our daily lives the things that are going to be necessary?

Because again, so 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 we can build around ourselves intentionally, there are a lot of great people out there that God has that can be a support to us. And so I put that kind of practical wisdom into the book.

Allen: That's so good. And for those who are thinking, “I really want to get connected with the Changed Movement,” how can they do that?

Williams: Yeah. You can follow along with us on Instagram. Just look for “Changed Movement.” Or on Facebook we have a public page by that name as well and then also a private group. And you can request to join that group as well.

Allen: Great, awesome. Well, again, for all of our listeners, the book is “The Journey Out: How I Followed Jesus Away From Gay.” You can get it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon. Ken, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate you coming on the show.

Williams: Thanks, Virginia.

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