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Free indeed

"Free indeed" Continued...

Issue: "John Roberts: Bush's pick," July 30, 2005

Mike Goeke, executive vice president of Exodus, says he would never go back either. Raised in a Christian home, he says his struggle with homosexual desire began at an early age, "but I was a good Christian and I was determined not to act out on it." He says he resisted temptation through high school, college, and law school and then married Stephanie, thinking "marriage would heal me."

Mr. and Mrs. Goeke were active in their local church, leading Bible studies and other activities. On the outside, "we were the perfect Christian couple," Mr. Goeke says, but trouble was brewing and came to a head two years into their marriage with the acquisition of a common household luxury: "I discovered AOL."

Plunging into the world of gay chat rooms, Mr. Goeke "collapsed" into sin. On a November morning in 1996, he taped a letter for his wife to the couple's front door, telling her: "I'm gay, I'll always be gay, and I want a divorce."

A shocked Mrs. Goeke refused to file for divorce, believing God could save their marriage, but her husband quit his law practice, went to work for a gay decorator, and entered into a typical male homosexual lifestyle. Things seemed hopeless until Mr. Goeke's desperate father gave him a book called You Don't Have to Be Gay.

"I couldn't not read it," Mr. Goeke says-and by the end he saw that he should go home. His wife took him back and the couple began "the arduous process of rebuilding our marriage." The keys to that process, Mr. Goeke says, were relying on Christ and serving others. Eight years later, the couple rejoices in God's work in their lives and in their three children under four years old.

Exodus International has its long-time veterans as well. Nancy Brown and her husband were married the year Exodus began, not long after Mrs. Brown's husband had come out of a homosexual lifestyle. Nearly 30 years later, the couple still finds the support of Exodus helpful and wants to help other couples with their own experience.

"I want to be able to tell the women here with their husbands that they can come through this," says Mrs. Brown. "I want them to know that though they may have been surprised by their husband's homosexuality, it didn't surprise God."

Mrs. Brown adds that she is "the woman of God that I am today because I've walked through this." A pair of yellow and red wristbands on her right arm reminds Mrs. Brown of a friend struggling with cancer, and of friend in Iraq, but the bands also remind her of the grace and hard work of the last 30 years of her marriage. One wristband reads: "Live strong." The other reads: "Freedom isn't free."

Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

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