Eric Helmuth

LGBTQ

Brought up in a loving, evangelical Christian home, I entered Cedarville in 1983 with a burning desire to serve God with my life, and deep traditional convictions about the Bible. I graduated four years later having received a solid education, having grown to love the Cedarville family, and having had many rewarding experiences.

On the outside, I was a model student – a hard-working double major (music and psychology), a resident assistant at Lawlor Hall, president of Pi Delta, and well-known for my piano and organ playing in chapel and for concert groups. I was proud to accompany President Dixon to preaching engagements as “special music,” and to receive academic honors in both majors.

But on the inside, I was tormented by a single question: “What if they knew?” What if they knew that ever since puberty, I was never attracted to girls but instead had crushes on boys? That countless hours of tearful prayer, counseling, daily devotions, and attempts at dating girls could not eradicate this sinful “sickness?” What if they knew that, despite wanting to be heterosexual in the very depths of my soul and firmly believing homosexuality to be a corruption of God’s plan, I kept falling in love with men instead of women?

A couple of close friends and trusted faculty members did know. To their credit, their response to my frightened disclosure was compassionate, but they agreed with me – I must keep fighting. I must never believe that being gay was good. So I soldiered on, bearing the torturous burden of believing my commitment to Christ was somehow not strong enough, despite every conscious desire willing me to try harder. And when trying hard failed, I “let go and let God” in “absolute surrender.” But, nope: after all that, still gay. I graduated believing something inexplicably dark and terrible was wrong with me. In graduate school, while working with an evangelical psychotherapist and a spiritual advisor from an “ex-gay” ministry, I finally reached the breaking point. I looked down the road and saw a lifetime of despair. And I said no: I will no longer believe that I am defective, or wonder if God is cruel. I will stop beating down my innermost longings at every turn. I will dare to trust my own heart.

Fearfully, gingerly, I decided to try embracing the whole person I knew myself to be, and to stop defining my heart’s desire as sick. A Cedarville faculty friend with whom I was still in contact warned me, “Eric, I fear that if you do this, it will destroy you.” I was afraid, too. Afraid that once I crossed this Rubicon I’d be swallowed up by a sea of iniquity, or that my soul and psyche would slowly rot away. Afraid that I would end up broken and alone.

Almost twenty years later, I am blessed to be sharing my life with a wonderful, loving man. I have a rewarding professional career at the Boston University School of Public Health, where my colleagues all know and like my husband, Jordan. I’ve continued to pursue my music as a pianist, organist and composer, and have had the pleasure of hearing my work performed in Carnegie Hall. Jordan and I bought a house in a community where our being a same-sex couple is a complete non-issue – in fact, we were the third on our short street, mixed in with young traditional families. I know many accepting, Christ-like people of strong faith who understand the Bible quite differently – but with no less love for God – than those I knew at Cedarville.

I now understand that my desire for an intimate, loving and committed same-sex relationship harms absolutely no one, myself included. Indeed, embracing it has been my path to peace. Along the way, I learned of mounting scientific evidence strongly suggesting that sexual orientation is not chosen, and may well be at least partially inborn. I found out that same-sex romantic love has been expressed in an astonishing array of civilizations across time and around the world. I saw that Biblical proof texts have been used to “clearly” defend slavery, persecute Galileo, and deny women the right to any position in church or society. But as encouraging as these facts were, the real proof has been in my own life. I have never looked back.

Sexuality is a gift that must be used wisely to life-affirming ends. Gay and lesbian people are no more immune to immature, unsatisfying expressions of their sexuality than are heterosexuals. But perhaps the greatest damage of all is done when gay people cannot embrace who they are, and in their self-loathing are driven to live a lie, or even to destructive and predatory behavior. The church has witnessed this within its ranks too many times.

But the stories on this website paint a very different picture, one that has remained hidden at Cedarville for too long. We love people who happen to be of the same gender. We love ourselves. We love God. And this has brought us joy.