Dutch Christians accused of trying to heal homosexuals

Dutch society is one of the first to openly talk about Christianity and homosexuality. The Government allocates money to support Christian gays. But some Christian communities are accused of attempts to heal homosexuals.

The emancipation minister of Holland gave subsidies to Christian organizations to make sure homosexuality was openly discussed in their circles. However one group recently lost its €50,000 annual grant.

The Christian Dutch organisation Onze Weg which means ‘our way’ was accused of using state money for its own purposes, rather than accepting homosexuals into their circle and trying to heal them.

Richard Oustrim, board member of Onze Weg, denies they wanted to cure or convert homosexuals. He says they are helping only those who come to them voluntarily and know what the organisation stands for.

“We believe that sexuality is the gift of God for one woman and one man in the context of marriage, not one woman and one woman in the context of marriage,” Richard Oostrum said.

Johan Quist, chairman of another Christian organization Refo Anders, which was also accused of misusing state money, says there is a difference to having homosexual feelings, and practicing them.

“Love can have different interpretations. Love there is not a problem, but the sexual practice of it, that’s the trouble,” Johan Quist said.

Both Oustrim and Quist understand what it’s like to be gay.

“I was very involved in the gay lifestyle,” Richard Oostrum confessed.

“Oh yes, I am also a man with temptation. I have homosexual feelings, but the practice – that’s the trouble for me,” Johan Quist said.

Now both men have families, and even though they admit they still have homosexual feelings, they say they also love their wives and this, they think, is the way the Bible wants it. Others however, find that concept ridiculous.

“When you are, you should be. You know. I’m gay and it’s part of who I am. So when you suppress a part of what you are in the deepest of your being – that’s not healthy,” Wouter Neerings, President of COC Netherland, said.

Rauter Eerings from LGBT organisation COC says both Christian groups paint a picture that being gay is not normal and thus create more problems for gays being accepted in society. However, it’s contrary to what the organizations say they are trying to achieve. While for some the transformation was possible, others couldn’t take that road.

“I went through an organization which proclaims that it is possible to change from gay orientation to heterosexual, so I very much was in contact with this organization but didn’t start the actual therapy because I also knew people that were going there but left, and were mentally damaged because of it, or very close to. So for me it was a very high risk to join that therapy,” Robert Daverschot of gay Christian organization Contrario, said.

Robert is a Christian and gay. He thinks the Bible is too unclear about homosexuality and he is still searching for an answer.