—Luis Javier Ruiz, a survivor of the Pulse nightclub massacre, speaking to The Christian Post at the “Freedom March” at the Sylvan Theatre in Washington, D.C. on Saturday. The march attracted a few dozen people who shared their stories of leaving behind the LGBTQ “lifestyle” and shedding their LGBTQ identity by embracing Christ.
Ruiz, who says he no longer identifies as gay, apparently wants to help welcome people who are LGBTQ-identifying back into the church by spreading the message that they are loved by God. And he clarified that his message was not intended to express hatred or hostility toward the LGBTQ community.
“I come as a pastor’s child to ask forgiveness of the Church,” he said. “Because we have kicked out, we have thrown [LGBTQ persons] out, including myself, and I want to ask [for] forgiveness, and I want to welcome the LGBTQ, I want to welcome anybody to come into the Church, to come worship in a safe place.”
Ruiz added that if LGBTQ people follow Christian teachings, God will “cause you to come out [of the LGBTQ life].”
“I feel like God’s heart right now is that he wants your heart. He wants to fall in love with you,” he said. “You are His creation, you are His child, no matter what you’re going through. And I believe that as soon as you forget about everything and fall in love with Christ deeply, everything is going to change. It’s going to cause you to come out [of the LGBTQ life], and His perfect love that will cast out fear, and boldness.”
When asked about conversion therapy, Ruiz denied ever having gone through it, and expressed skepticism of media coverage on the issue — including that the therapy has been debunked or denounced by most major medical and mental health organizations.
“Honestly, I don’t know what that is,” he said of what the media defines as conversion therapy.
He added: “Jesus said ‘Follow me.’ He didn’t give you a list of rules. He said: ‘Follow me.’ So trust Him to do the rest.”
The Freedom March was cosponsored by Voice of the Voiceless, an organization who advocates on behalf of “former homosexuals, individuals with unwanted same-sex attraction, and their families,” and has previously spoken favorably about conversion therapy.
Darren Mehl, the group’s president, told NBC News that he personally never underwent conversion therapy in his “choice” to leave homosexuality, but simply embraced God.
“I didn’t convert, as in go through a program,” he said. “I saw Jesus about who I am. I found grace to Jesus to live according to my values and belief.”
Jeffrey McCall, the chief organizer of the Freedom Match, was among those who shared their stories of shedding their LGBTQ identity. McCall claims to have once lived as a gay male prostitute, and then as a transgender woman named Scarlett.
McCall says the march served as “a public pushback that people can be free not only from homosexuality and transgender lives but from anything. That it is through the power of the Holy Spirit, and it’s through the grace of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.”
Editor’s Note: This article’s headline has been updated.
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