Local woman, 70, says God helped her overcome homosexuality

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Elsie Odom has a stranger in her closet. But the two are well-acquainted.

Elsie Odom says her lifestyle included drugs and alcohol. She turned to church, and now wants to help others struggling as she did.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Elsie Odom says her lifestyle included drugs and alcohol. She turned to church, and now wants to help others struggling as she did.

Odom, now 70, was a lesbian for many years before she learned what she calls “the truth.” These days, Odom uses that stranger’s experiences to help others who are unhappy in the homosexual lifestyle.

“(From the age of 14 to 47) I struggled with it. And in 1988, God set me free. I’ve had no desires since then – none whatsoever. And it has nothing to do with my age,” she said. “I don’t even know who that person was anymore.”

Dressed in a pretty green dress with lavender floral print, matching lavender beaded necklace and dainty white sandals, Odom looks like a traditional Southern grandmother who sits on the third row of church every Sunday and hosts the garden club on Monday.

But the women of her childhood had a vastly different influence.

“I lived in a very dysfunctional family,” she said. “My parents didn’t show love because they didn’t know how. They were alcoholics.”

Because of the alcoholism, Odom said she was isolated from her peers, ashamed and bashful. Her childhood also included several traumatic experiences of molestation from extended family members, both male and female. Odom said she feels the childhood experiences caused her to reject her femininity.

Dr. Lionel Solursh, a professor of psychiatry and health behavior at Georgia Health Sciences University, said that is one reaction to childhood sexual abuse.

“If you’re afraid of sexual experiences, or mistrustful, the one thing you do is back off from intimacy because it feels dangerous,” Solursh said.

Solursh said a therapist in a case similar to Odom’s would work with the patient to cope with their trauma history so they would be able to have relationships. However, he cautioned that each individual is different, and Odom’s situation cannot be applied to all homosexuals.

“We look at individual factors,” he said. “Each person deserves the respect of being seen and treated as an individual.”

But Odom knew nothing of therapy when she was young.

Puberty came along, and Odom said she was sexually attracted to other girls, which confused her.

“Eventually, I went with them,” she said. “I was dating guys, but also acted out those feelings with girls.”

One day, she went on a blind date with a young man, and he proposed.

“So, I thought I could get married, and that’d fix things,” Odom said, saying that she told her fiancé about her homosexuality before they married. “I tried very hard to make the marriage work.”

Several years later, going through divorce and losing a child custody battle was more than Odom could bear.

“In order to cover the pain, I lived a hellish life,” she said. “I tried to heal my pain with alcohol and drugs, and I actually became an alcoholic. And I was looking for love in all the wrong places.”

She found it in a relationship with another woman. The two ended up living together for 14 years, first posing as roommates, then in an openly lesbian relationship.

“We started going to gay bars and parties, and were accepted into the gay community,” she said. “We felt fulfilled with this new family we’d found.”

When Odom’s partner gave the ultimatum that she needed to deal with her alcoholism, Odom started going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

At the meetings, she found deliverance from her alcoholism. Because some steps of the AA program suggest looking to a higher power, Odom’s partner bought her a Bible.

When she read the Bible, Odom said she learned that the Bible says homosexuality is a sin.

That was something Odom had never heard before, and as a result, Odom and her partner began looking for a church. After several failed attempts, they found one.

“When we walked in the door, we felt the love of God, and we both needed that,” Odom said. “From that day on, every time the doors opened, we were there.”

In church, Odom heard other new things she’d never known.

“I began to hear that God is not mad. He will take the rubbish of your life and make stepping stones to His destiny,” Odom said.

Claiming that the Holy Spirit separated her and her partner both emotionally and physically, Odom said she took up a celibate lifestyle, which she has kept for 23 years.

“But if God wants to bring me a husband, I will accept him,” she said with a smile.

Solursh said it’s possible that someone who is not happy with homosexuality, or who left the lifestyle, was never actually gay.

“We are not talking about a disease or a disorder. We are talking about behavior,” he said. “I know a lot of happy gay folks.”

For patients who are not happy, Solursh said a therapist works with them to help them manage their feelings and make them comfortable.

“But, if somebody is gay and happy, then he’s happy,” he said.

Odom said she wants to help people who are unhappy like she was. In April 2010, she founded a ministry called Straight Forward, which is a satellite office of Truth Ministry – a nondenominational faith-based organization whose mission is to help people who want to be free of same-sex attractions.

“I have a burden in my heart,” Odom said. “I want others who are struggling to know there is hope for them.”

Comments (71) Add comment
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InChristLove
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InChristLove 09/05/11 - 12:30 pm
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Cassandra, it is never okay

Cassandra, it is never okay for anyone to shame, bully, ostracize, or physically attack anyone, straight or gay. No where in this article did Ms. Odom mention anyone treating her this way. Individuals who mistreat or abuse anyone can not be called Christian or at least not behave in the characteristics of Christ. That being said, just because someone believes that homosexuality is wrong according to God Word and tries to witness to someone does not mean they are trying to oppress somone. Quit the opposite. They are trying to set that person free of the bondage of sin. We are all slaves to sin unless we lay them at the Father's feet and let Him free us from this worlds oppressive nature. There are many who claim the name of Christ who truly care about people that don't shame, bully, ostracize or attack people. Lumping us all as bigots is painting with a mighty broad brush.

Cassandra Harris
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Cassandra Harris 09/05/11 - 12:48 pm
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hmmm....someone lumps

hmmm....someone lumps themself into the term bigot when they were not placed there by me. Possibly realize something about your beliefs concerning lifestyles and your speech. You can be naive enough to believe a woman her age living openly as a lesbian did not go through the abuse that is thrown daily at those of the homosexual community by the christian community if you want. Conversion therapy has worked quite well for many Christians, Ted Haggard can tell you all about it.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 09/05/11 - 01:00 pm
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From past experience and

From past experience and conversations with you, yes it was my opinion that you lump all Christians as bigots. I am not naive enough to think this woman didn't have some rough times with all people (is not only just Christians who disagree with homosexuality) but nothing was mentioned in her interview for this article. Do you know more about her life than what is stated or is it only speculation on your part. She may have lived a very happy lesbian life. Seems to me it stated her partner was the one who offered her a bible and attended church with her. Was her partner also a bigot in your eyes or someone who loved her and was trying their best to help her with the issues going on in her life. I know little about conversion therapy. All I know is that my God is all powerful and if someone comes to Him and is seeking relief from torment, He is Awesome enough and caring enough to help that person find peace (which it seems Ms. Odom has). If you call that conversion therapy, then so be it. No one can change until they release themselves into His hands.

I will say that I have had many conversations with you and you appear from your many comments to be a very angry person. I do pray someday you find the One who will give you peace. I know, you've heard it all before and you don't believe. All I can do is to continue to pray for you as I do almost every night.

Cassandra Harris
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Cassandra Harris 09/05/11 - 01:21 pm
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ICL - correction - you have

ICL - correction - you have traded internet postings with me, but you have never had an actual conversation with me. I am a very cheerful person. You have a very short memory, I quite often speak highly of Christians who actually quote Jesus and don't cherry pick around the rest of the Bible for reasons to exclude/ ostracize/ criticize and in general just hate on other. I've seen many Christians who speak out against intolerance, you just don't believe they are real Christians because they don't think like you do.

That said, whenever there is anything about alternate lifestyles, even a simple little parade, the people who say the ugliest things are the ones who most loudly profess their religion as their excuse and parade a bunch of things Jesus never said they've taken from the Bible for their excuse. You seem to post more than any on this issue. In the words of the Bard, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

rytch
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rytch 09/05/11 - 01:32 pm
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Utter nonsense!!

Utter nonsense!!

InChristLove
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InChristLove 09/05/11 - 01:50 pm
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My error Casssandra, for

My error Casssandra, for interpreting exchange of ideas (even through internet postings) as a form of conversation. My memory may not be as good as it once was in my younger years but this I am assured of, I have never heard you speak highly of Christians. I’ve never stated someone is not a real Christian for speaking out against intolerance. In fact, intolerance of someone is not Christ like behavior. I can disapprove of someone’s behavior and still tolerate them (I have with you many a time). My authority is not to judge someone’s salvation or lack thereof, but to teach about Christ and what He can do for you. Seem as though someone else might have an issue with their memory.
I have posted my opinion on the gay pride parade and that according to God’s Word homosexuality is a sin (it’s been proven in the Bible plenty of times using scripture) but I challenge you to post any of my comments where I have excluded/ostracized/criticized or hated someone who claims to be homosexual. Talk about degrading someone’s character….how about tell another lie, you seem to have this down pat. Stating you don’t approve of a behavior or a public parade honoring that behavior is not being ugly or intolerant it is only stating my dislike for it.

I would appreciate it from now on to keep your lies to yourself and do not degrade my character. I don't speak ugly of you, please afford me the same courtesy.

Cassandra Harris
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Cassandra Harris 09/05/11 - 02:14 pm
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ICL - rather than stooping to

ICL - rather than stooping to calling you a liar, I will just suggest that if you don't remember things I've said you apparently have memory issues. If you are accepting of letting consenting adults of all lifestyles live their lives in peace without intrusion into their life then I'm glad to hear it. I seem to remember you having a different attitude, my mistake. As to my lies, could you please point then out exactly? My memory is obviously so poor, I distinctly recall several times I've seen people post openly as Christians and you quote (or misquote, depending on the pov) from the Bible (yet, I've yet to see you quote Jesus himself in these posts) showing the Christian who disagreed with you that they were not following "the word of God". I agree with the earlier poster who questioned how certain people are the absolute authority on what God is truly saying.

Have a nice day, a family outing awaits.

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 09/05/11 - 02:21 pm
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Cassandra, how do you know

Cassandra, how do you know Jesus never spoke about homosexuality? You are aware that the Gospels are far from exhaustive regarding Jesus' words, aren't you? The Gospels admit that very openly. There is absolutely no way you can say Jesus NEVER addressed homosexualty.

We do know that Jesus condemned sin, and died so that we'd not have to suffer the penalty of our sin. That's the great love of Christianity. You love God back by obeying Him (as He tells us very plainly). You are also aware, I'm sure, that God's word condemns homosexuality as a sin -- very directly so, and from cover to cover. To say that homosexuality is OK as an "alternate lifestyle" is the same as openly denying God's word and telling God he is hating on people. Well, God does not hate people. But, God does hate sin.

If you believe you are more of an expert on sin than God's word, go ahead. That is your right. But, just know you are walking on very shaky ground indeed. I'd let God be the Judge (not you), and simply obey what He says.

Cassandra Harris
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Cassandra Harris 09/05/11 - 02:37 pm
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As a matter of fact, one need

As a matter of fact, one need only go back to page 1 of this thread to see this behavior being used on Mr. Deddo when he disagreed with you.

Cassandra Harris
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Cassandra Harris 09/05/11 - 02:19 pm
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hkwk - how do you know he

hkwk - how do you know he did? It's not in the Bible. You have no idea what he said about the subject. Thank you for pointing that out to us.

We also know that he stopped the stoning of the woman, that he gathered grain on the Sabbath, that he hung around with people that the OT laws expressly forbid a "clean" person from dealing with, such as lepers.

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 09/05/11 - 02:22 pm
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Cassandra, I'd suggest

Cassandra, I'd suggest READING the Bible for a change, instead of just injecting your opinion. Do you deny that Jesus' Apostles condemned homosexuality as a sin? Are you more of an authority on the subject that the Apostles? Please tell me you are not so arrogant to believe that......

Cassandra Harris
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Cassandra Harris 09/05/11 - 02:30 pm
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hkwk - read it, all the way

hkwk - read it, all the way through, multiple times, know what is in it. I don't know what the apostles did nor did not do concerning homosexuality and neither do you, it's not in there. You are confusing the 12 with Paul, the same man who held up Lot (how about Lot's grandkids eh?) and Jepthah (lovely daughter he had by the way) as examples of religious elite.

Thank you for providing an example of what I was speaking of earlier. That said, if this lady truly is happy, then good for her. However so sad that a certain group likes to ensure that until they become celibate those who fit her former lifestyle suffer "Hell" here on earth as well as the threat of "Hell" when they die.

Cassandra Harris
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Cassandra Harris 09/05/11 - 02:32 pm
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hcwk - I'm definitely leaving

hcwk - I'm definitely leaving the house now. You will be talking to yourself. Having read your past posts, I have seen that you have a history of waiting until someone says they are leaving to dive into a diatribe against that person. Have at it, you will be speaking to yourself and everyone will see what you are doing. Same for the rest that have that lovely little habit.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 09/05/11 - 02:47 pm
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"As a matter of fact, one

"As a matter of fact, one need only go back to page 1 of this thread to see this behavior being used on Mr. Odom when he disagreed with you."

Cassandra, I'm sorry, you must really be loosing it because I went back to page 1 of this thread and please show me where a Mr. Odom made a comment and what behavior did I do. I can not agree or disagree with someone who doesn't exisit on this thread.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 09/05/11 - 02:34 pm
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Typical behavior Cassandra.

Typical behavior Cassandra. Can't prove your point, can't provide any truth in what you say, so you close the discussion. Hope you have a wonderful time at the family outing.

Cassandra Harris
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Cassandra Harris 09/05/11 - 02:38 pm
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ICL, you are so predictable!

ICL, you are so predictable! I fixed the name, off to my son's have a nice rest of the day.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 09/05/11 - 02:48 pm
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Cassandra, I do believe that

Cassandra, I do believe that two responses to Mr. Deddo was polite. First response I asked him who was hating Ms. Odom in the article. Second response I showed him I was not worried about hell because my salvation in Jesus Christ is secure. I also pointed out the fact that he was lying.

Please show me where I was hateful or ugly to Mr. Deddo? You must see something that is invisible to whomever reads it except yourself.

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 09/05/11 - 02:43 pm
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Run, Cassandra, run. That's

Run, Cassandra, run. That's what those with a liberal interpretation of the Bible usually do. When confronted with the facts, they run, run, run.

By the way, I hope you can come back. I'll be checking later on. I'm not running away from the truth as you seem to be doing.

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 09/05/11 - 02:46 pm
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Cassandra, so you are saying

Cassandra, so you are saying that Paul was a liar? Now, that's really interesting of you. Paul says many many times that he was an apostole, just like Peter, James, John, etc. But, I guess you know best. Again, arrogance is a very poor substitute for truth. You know much better than Paul, don't you?

By the way, Jude also condemns homosexuality in his little book of the Bible. But, I guess you believe that Judea is a liar like Paul?

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 09/05/11 - 03:04 pm
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Hey Cassandra, I know you've

Hey Cassandra, I know you've read the Bible and you'll remember Acts 22:14 where we are told that Paul knows God's will, hears the sound of God's voice, and will be a witness of God to people.

So, it is very clear that Paul speaks for God.

It is equally clear that Casandra denies that Paul speaks for God.

Because Paul was commissioned directly as God's spokesman but Cassandra was not, I'd rather believe what Paul writes than what Cassandra says.

tanbaby
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tanbaby 09/05/11 - 03:06 pm
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here's a thought...how about
Unpublished

here's a thought...how about how she lives her life now or before is nobody else's business......just between her and God....

InChristLove
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InChristLove 09/05/11 - 03:38 pm
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tanbaby, I believe the

tanbaby, I believe the article showed how this woman overcame a troubling lifestyle and addiction through the grace of God and now she is happy and wants to help others who may have gone or is going through the same things she went through. Her testimony is her witness for Christ and when something wonderful happens to us when we accept Christ, we can't keep it between us and God. He tells us to go out into the world and be a witness for Him. I'm happy she has a personal relationship with Christ and is reaching out to others. This is our great commission.

Willow Bailey
20603
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Willow Bailey 09/05/11 - 03:40 pm
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If you have never had the

If you have never had the pleasure of meeting Elsie Odum, you have missed a wonderful treat. I have had the honor of meeting Elsie, talking with her and hearing her personal testimony. May God continue to bless you Elsie in everything that you do. Our Lord has truly been glorifed by your life. To know you is to love you, and I am so glad that I have had that opportunity.

142
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Dan White 09/05/11 - 03:57 pm
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Taylor B - it's newsworthy as

Taylor B - it's newsworthy as a human interest story and obviously a lot of human interest has been generated judging by just the comments in here.

142
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Dan White 09/05/11 - 04:15 pm
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Most everyone in here is

Most everyone in here is missing the point of Ms. Odom's testimony. The point is this and in her own words. "“When we walked in the door, we felt the love of God, and we both needed that." It was the love of God expressed through that church flowing into her like a river of life that changed her. Paul said in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, "The greatest of these is love." Christ is the pure essence of God's love on earth and when the church incarnates Christ love, people are healed and liberated from all addictions. Life becomes abundant, full, and free from the pain of a scarred childhood that drove Ms. Odom to seek pain relief in drugs, alcohol, and co-dependent relationships which led to her addictions creating even more pain for her. Thank God, she is whole, well, and free through the love of Christ.

Taylor B
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Taylor B 09/05/11 - 04:32 pm
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Do you ever think they put

Do you ever think they put stuff up here just to see you folks fight in the comments? Its genius, really, pushing the site hits up. Id doubt many of these posters would care about a 70 year old lesbian if it didnt fit their agenda. Religion and sexuality are supposed to be personal, and here it is, blasted in the paper for everyone to use to throw rocks at each other. This is 700 club stuff, at best...

InChristLove
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InChristLove 09/05/11 - 05:05 pm
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Willow, I just went on-line

Willow, I just went on-line and searched for information the ministry Ms. Odom started, Straight-forward ministry, and there is so much more information on Ms. Odom and her testimony that what is given here. What an amazing journey she has been on and what a testimony to God's awesome love.

Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 09/05/11 - 05:18 pm
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ICL, she is ministering to so

ICL, she is ministering to so many people all over the world. God is really working in and through her life. Elsie is genuine and real.

When you have a moment, email me, I have several things that I want to share with you.

Thanks,
W

InChristLove
22481
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InChristLove 09/05/11 - 05:52 pm
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Willow, sent you a

Willow, sent you a message....notice the email contact in the message where you can write me. Look forward to corresponding with you.

lawyerdude
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lawyerdude 09/05/11 - 06:31 pm
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What a crock. Both the story

What a crock. Both the story and the comments. The woman went through menopause and lost interest in sex. Simple.

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