Jeremy Marks founded Courage, a ministry for gay and lesbian people seeking to reconcile their faith and sexuality, in 1988. In 2000 Courage changed its direction dramatically, becoming affirming of loving same-sex relationships, and recognising the harm that had been done to many people subjected to the ‘ex-gay’ approach. Courage celebrated 25 years in 2012 and its formal ministry came to a close, but Jeremy continues to provide pastoral support to individuals and churches.
I began the ministry of Courage. I chose that name because I didn’t want to suggest there were easy answers. We’re on a journey to find our way through. We could promise we believed God was in the business of changing us, but how this was going to work out, we were still exploring. (People) just found out about us – and this was before the internet, before even mobile phones – but people would ring us up, they would write, and they would say, we hear you’re doing this ministry and we want to be with you.”
“I was keeping touch with all these people after they’d left, and I was seeing none of them were doing well. They’d go home and be faced with questions like when are we going to hear wedding bells then? And their thing was, there’s no way I’m going to be ready for wedding bells, and so they began to think, well what was all this about? I’ve committed these two years of my life to following Christ and nothing has happened.”
“A lot of people would love me to tell a Damascus Road experience when suddenly the scales fell of my eyes, and I realised that you could be gay. It never happened like that. The background was probably about a seven year stretch of seeing the damage that the ex-gay ministry was doing and realising how much better off people were if they accepted who they are as a gift of God and that God loves them exactly as they are, gay or straight, no partiality. ”
You can hear Jeremy’s story here.