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Coming Out as Conversion Language

Posted by Matt Postiff April 17, 2018 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Gospel  Society 

I was speaking with an elderly Christian lady on Sunday afternoon. She is more than 90 years old. When we spoke about a certain person's Christian salvation story, she expressed the idea using "coming out" language. This person "really came out for the Lord." This struck me as a bit curious given the baggage of that phrase today, but I said nothing about it to her in our conversation.

Afterward, I pondered some more. Obviously, she comes from a generation where "coming out" had nothing to do with the sexual revolution that is going on in the most recent generation. Today, the phrase "come out" refers to an act or time in a person's life where they express that they do not conform to the "assumed" (hetero-) sexual behavior or (birth) gender.

My elderly friend used "coming out" language to refer to someone turning from sin and living for Christ, with even the implication of "coming out" to the church instead of keeping a distance from the church. The connotation was that someone really took a stand for Christ, and became an outspoken Christian.

The LGBTQ movement has borrowed this terminology to express the conversion or change that they feel as they express their behavior and preferences to the world outside of themselves. It is a religious experience for them.

I wondered further if this has implications for "conversion therapy" that has become a hot-button issue these days. If someone "comes out" gay, then should they not also be able to "come out" from their prior "coming out"? In other words, I would think that they should be able to come out as a Christian, and thus leave behind their conformity to the gay or trans lifestyle. Maybe we should call it "deconversion" therapy.

No doubt, some will argue that "coming out" as gay or transgender is simply making a statement as to what the person always has been, so it is not as much a conversion as it is a realization or open expression. I understand the difference. Christian "coming out" is not "expressing what I always have been," for no one starts out life as a true Christian. Christian conversion is miraculous; it is deeply transformative. It is very different than "coming out" as it is used today.

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