Let us begin with this important fact: Ex-Gays are myth. Simply, they do not exist. They were either never gay to begin with (rather bisexual, forced to be acting on their heterosexual tendencies) or they are homosexual who have re-entered the closet.
Second, we should distance all association between Ex-Gays and their heterosexual sponsors from the Christian faith. There are no Biblical prohibitions on homosexuality or marriage equality. The way they construe Scripture for a bigoted end combined with the lasting damage they do to their victims is irreconcilible with the Gospel.
I hope this answer satisfies.
As I had posted about on my personal blog, I was recently put in a position of being asked to undergo ex-gay therapy.
I was invited out to lunch by a friend and his family, so I happily agreed to go. I’ve known the guy for four or five years now and I thought I knew his family well enough. When we arrived at the restaurant, however, his mother began to end the conversation we were having to begin a new one. She started it with a sentence I’ll not soon forget: “Kevin, we’re very worried about your sinful nature.” My ‘sinful nature’ of course being a misnomer for my homosexuality, I was incredibly offended. My sexual orientation is no more inherently sinful than that of any straight man or woman. But more to the point, she reached into her purse and produced a few leaflets on “pray the gay away” camps and one for a euphemistic “therapist” to help ‘cure’ me. I explained to them that my faith was at peace with my sexuality and that God does not hate me for being gay, and then walked out of the diner.
But it’s been a few days and I’ve come to realize what I’ve gained from this experience. Though it may seem obvious in retrospect, I now see that many of the men and women who refer LGBT persons to these camps and therapists do it out of love and sincere concern (with an overlaying factor of ignorance), not out of hate. And that’s the most terrifying part, that they truly believe they’re helping out a friend or family member. It’s an issue that needs resolving, and we here at GCI hope to see the end of ex-gay ministries as soon as possible, as they are detrimental to the health of LGBT men and women everywhere.
In light of the upheaval in churches over the homosexuality debate since the 60’s and 70’s, we naturally analyze the factions involved. In this we see a distinction among parishioners, Christians and Conservatives. As if this distinction wasn’t already grey enough, there are 3 factions here! Side-A (Christian), Side-B (grey), and Side-X (Conservative) make up these demographics.
Side-A is based on the heightened and scholarly study and consequently holds that homosexual interaction within the context of natural, monogamous, and loving unions are not sinful according to Scripture. And rightfully so, no other form of Scriptural interpretation on homosexuality does nearly the same amount of work in exegesis and study as Side-A requires for a truthful interpretation.
Side-B and Side-X rely on surface level interpretations of scripture. This is a tradition that goes back to the first condemnation of homosexuality in 390 by St. Athanasius. The next section will explain further what I mean.
Genesis 19 is often used to condemn homosexuals (where the term ‘Sodomites’ comes from). Often people assume Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for homosexuality, but this is false. Ezekiel says, “…This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it. (Ezekiel 16:46-50)” Not a word mentioned about homosexual acts (let alone homosexual orientation)! However, we can assume the lust and intent to rape seen in Genesis 19 was one of the ‘abominable’ things mention in Ezekiel.
Then we have the Levitical texts, Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13. Both deal with homosexual acts, yes, but within a context! Leviticus 18 is prefaced with “’You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes. (Leviticus 18:3)”. This give a further context to the condemnation of the cult of Molech in 18:21, where child sacrifice is forbidden on both an ethical and religious level, and pagan practices in general. But it is also interesting that the Cult of Molech involved cult prostitution and temple rape, which is then condemned in Lev. 18:22 and 20:13. The acts committed within a non-consenting and pagan context were what were (and still are) condemned.
Romans 1:26-27 is unique in that it uses very specific language. This lays out clearly Paul’s view of what was natural for women and men sexually, and is the verse that is most often pointed to when arguing whether or not homosexuality is natural. Or does it? When looking at this passage, we should discuss the verse in its proper context. Paul describes these men and women first as people who have turned their backs on God. Paul says,
“For even though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”
These people had turned their backs on God, despite having once known him, choosing to worship man and beasts over the one true God. This is why they exchanged what was natural to them—heterosexual desires—for what was unnatural—homosexual desires.
Within its context, we learn that this passage is describing heterosexual men and women who turned their backs on God and then chose to go against their God-given sexualities and fornicate with each other. It takes knowing a gay Christian to really understand the next concept I’m going to platform, but bear with me if you don’t personally know someone who is GLB: It’s that practicing homosexuals do not give up their natural heterosexuality for homosexuality. (wittymusicreference)
Next we see, 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10 used to condemn homosexuals. But we know that there was no word for “homosexual/ity” in any language until 1868 when it was coined by German Psychiatrist Karl-Maria Kertbeny in a critical response to a Prussian sodomy law. The word mistranslated as ‘homosexual/homosexual offender’ in certain Biblical translations, is ‘arsenokoitai’. A word meaning ‘man-bed’ (literally). It has been translated throughout history as ‘pervert’ (*the most accurate), ‘child molester’, and ‘masturbator’(during Martin Luther’s era; but that is also a mistranslation). ‘Pervert’ or ‘perversion’ is the best translation as the last time it was used in the Classical era (and specifically by a Classical church leader) in the 2nd Century AD to condemn men who were having anal sex with their wives. Not homosexual acts or homosexuality itself!
In fact, it wasn’t until 360 years after Christ that homosexuality was condemned (specifically against “born/natural eunuchs” in the official document that did so. Also seen in Matt. 19:12, where Christ briefly but does in fact, affirm the nature of male-homosexuals). This was done by St. Athanasius who blamed “natural/eunuchs” for civil unrest in Cisalpine Gaul and Milan. He suggested they be burned alive for their “sin” and, with Emperor Theodosius I under penance to Saint Ambrose, had it so. Then the decree was posted to the Roman Hall of Minerva.
Side-B and Side-X, conversely, is based on the immediate and literally interpretations of Scripture. For Side-B, this does not merit stupidity necessarily. Some Side-B’rs just haven’t had the necessary education or information that would enable them to make an educated opinion on homosexuality and Scripture. However, many of these Side-B’rs and “Ex Gays” are just terrified of being rejected and hated by their friends and family (in fact these same friends and families have their own organization, PFOXX). Often these Celibate homosexuals and “ex-gays” feel they have no choice. One can only describe their situation as marching in front of a spiritual and emotional bayonet.
It is important that we understand the position of Side-B and Side-X followers and Conservative Religion in general
I write this analysis of Conservative Religion and constituent homosexual followers to explain to those who are not familiar with the matter. Understand. I do not necessarily intend to analyze a “cure” for the people listed here, rather I intend to educate others on the malevolence of a divergent belief system originally based on Christianity and the amount of damage these two-systems of faith do to their adherents.
Moving on, some dismiss the victims of homophobic teaching as stupid or otherwise mentally stunted. Yet this is an unfair assessment! They are simply scared individuals who have seemingly no where else to turn too. Terrified of divine damnation and/or rejection by their peers, they turn to a life of misery seeking only to survive the circumstances.
So it is critically important that the Christian Church, having sat out on the side lines far too long on this matter, intervene ferociously now. The Christian Church must campaign against these abusive teachings and individual Christians should lobby together to pass legislation against organizations that are proponents for “Ex Gay” therapy. Even further, Christian Churches and Christian individuals in Conservative denominations should speak of change and bring Conservatives to Christ and turn them to a life of love and acceptance.
This latter goal must be achieved by spiritual strength and time. No legislation can touch religious institutions as to disable them(however, legislation may rescind Exodus International’s tax exempt status and it’s constituent organizations recognition as legitimate organizations by sate and federal governments). Therefore, individuals and Christian organizations must assume the fight on a personal level. This will take years, but the reward will be massive, being:
The salvation of the name of Christianity, the salvation of Conservatives, and the solid protection of LGBT+ people of faith.
One might describe these persons as the moderates of the Conservative faith tradition. Often these people have had tremendous amounts of damage done to their psyche’s and so are naturally fearful.
As an example, one person, who I shall not identify, was, prior, a male-prostitute. This experience leaving him under the impression that all homosexual interactions are bad and he should deny his natural way lest he be damned.
But most notably are the cases where there was no antecedent of promiscuity in these individuals’ lives. Merely, they buckled to pressure from clergy or their parents to stay celibate. Leading these campaigns into the lives of otherwise healthy homosexuals (who are often quite young and vulnerable based on my observation) are two men: Jason Evert (for the Catholic Conservatives, Leader of Chasity.com) and Wesley Hill (For the protestant Conservatives, Author of Washed and Waiting). These individuals pervay Side-B theology and spread material and information on it’s practice.
What we often find, however, that Side-B has an insidious effect on those whom pertain to it. ‘Chapter 12 in C. Bagley & R. Ramsay, Eds. (1997) Suicidal Behaviours in adolescent and adults…’records the results of a study taken in England and Wales in which celibate homosexuals had a rampantly high rate of suicidal tendency. The study states:
Celibate homosexual men had the highest serious suicide attempt rate (2/13: 15.5%). For the 10.9 percent of males classified as homosexually oriented (currently homosexually active males, and celibate homosexual males), the risk ratio for a life-threatening suicide attempt was 13.86 : 1; that is, these males were almost fourteen times (5/82: 6.1% vs. 3/688: 0 .44%) more likely to have made a serious suicide attempt at some point in their lives than their heterosexually oriented counterparts. They also accounted for 62.5% (5/8) of the serious suicide attempters
It is important to remember the religious connotation of celibacy when reading this and to remember that forced-celibacy is the same idea as an artificial “coming out”. Wherein sexuality is repressed, the doctors at LGBT Drug Rehab and the American Psychological Association record that drug abuse and self-degradation which all lead to future health problems can stem from repression of one’s sexuality.
The APA states on it’s official website that “Coming out is often an important psychological step for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. Research has shown that feeling positively about one’s sexual orientation and integrating it into one’s life fosters greater well-being and mental health." However, the positivity of sexual repression are nil as previously shown.
Side-B fosters self-harm, mental degradation and sickness. Versus where Christian (or even secular) doctrine of self-acceptance promotes health and inner-peace in the realm of sexual orientation.
Side-X refers to the “Ex -gay” myth. “Ex-Gays” claim to have been “cured” of their homosexuality. They think two things a) that homosexuality is a disease (or a “disorder” as Conservative Catholics call it) however every major medical academic conglomerate, including the World Health Organization, affirms the natural occurrence of homosexuality and the fact it should not be treated as anything else but natural. The American Medical Association’s position states, “The AMA reaffirms its long-standing policy that there is no basis for the denial to any human being of equal rights, privileges, and responsibilities commensurate with his or her individual capabilities and ethical character because of …sexual orientation…or transgender status…..” (BOT Rep. LL, I-86; Amended by Sunset Report, I-96; Modified: Res. 410, A-03) Indeed, the American Psychological Association’s website states it’s stance in the matter as well saying, “Since 1975, the American Psychological Association has called on psychologists to take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations.” To quote the World Health Organizations “Disorders of sexual preference are clearly differentiated from disorders of gender identity, and homosexuality in itself is no longer included as a category.” (The ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders).
Medically, and on a biological level, sex research has shown the anal region (which is most often spoken of when speaking of homosexual sex) is equipped with numerous erotic nerve endings serving no other purpose but to be used in intercourse. Damage and infection can be rendered to that region in sex, injuries similar that of vaginal sex, but not if practiced safely and with the desire of the other person. Lesbian sex is an extended form of foreplay as no natural penetration occurs.
The American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association have both condemned the use of “Reparative Therapy” on homosexuals in order to “change” their sexual orientation. I would hope that one day a law is passed restricting the practice of “Reparative Therapy” and that the government also would hold an inquiry into the “ex gay” industry and prosecute it’s proponents (of administrators of these groups in question).
Twice, the American Psychiatric Association has condemned reparative therapy treatments: 1) 1997;”The American Psychiatric Association addressed ‘ex-gay’ therapy by stating, “The potential risks of ‘reparative therapy’ are great and include depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior…Further, APA calls on these organizations and individuals to do all that is possible to decrease the stigma related to homosexuality wherever and whenever it may occur. 2) 2000; “The American Psychiatric Association issued yet another statement and recommended ‘that ethical practitioners refrain from attempts to change individuals’ sexual orientation, keeping in mind the medical dictum, to ‘first do no harm.’”
The APA put forth a statement in December of 1998 that it opposes “reparative” or conversion therapy on the basis that homosexuality is a disease to begin with, an assumption that the APA refuted in 1975 and that the American Psychiatric Association refuted as well in 1973. Both esteemed psychological institutions have deemed any attempt at changing one’s sexual orientation as ineffective and the American Psychological Association holds “reparative therapy” as unethical (Therapies Focused on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation…Position Statement; December 1998.)
The Council of Representatives of the American Psychological Association passed a resolution on August 14, 1997 affirming four basic principles with regard to treatments to alter sexual orientation. Those for being:
1. Homosexuality is not a mental disorder and the APA opposes all portrayals of lesbian, gay and bisexual people as mentally ill and in need of treatment due to their sexual orientation;
2. Psychologists do not knowingly participate in or condone discriminatory practices with lesbian, gay and bisexual clients;
3. Psychologists respect the rights of individuals, including lesbian, gay and bisexual clients to privacy, confidentiality, self-determination and autonomy;
4. Psychologists obtain appropriate informed consent to therapy in their work with lesbian, gay and bisexual clients.
The APA also added that “urges all mental health professionals to take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with homosexual orientation.”
In addition, the AMA (American Medical Association) also vehemently opposes the practice of attempting to change one’s sexual orientation). That is in its official statement on GLBT persons, “[The AMA] opposes, the use of ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy that is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.” (GLBT Advisory Committee; AMA Policy on GLBT Issues; General policies; H-160.991; 1,C)
Internationally, the BMA (British Medical Association) made a resolution in the summer of 2010 at its annual conference to condemn the use of conversion therapy to change one’s sexual orientation. An overwhelming two-thirds of the doctors at the meeting passed the resolution.
They also also assume b) that homosexuality is a sin. However, as I explained earlier, there is no scriptural evidence that this is the case according to Scripture.
Conclusion: How to Address Side-B’rs and Ex-Gays
The site BeyondExGay.com goes into detail that when dealing with Conservatives, it is best to be patient and gracious. But remember, at the same time their programs (Like “Ex Gay” organizations and Chastity.com) enables homophobia and ignorance about sexuality.
This is evidenced in the suicide epidemics in districts with a high amount of Conservative congregations. The most notable is the one recorded and is on-going suicide epidemic in Michelle Bachmann’s former Congressional district where the FBI is currently holding a civil rights abuse investigation by Conservative school staff who were notorious for their “neutrality policy” in cases where GLBT+/GLB perceived students were being bullied to death.
It is crucial for Christians to engage Conservatives as we do with any other faith or religion. With grace and patience. Any other approach will merely push them farther away. It is important to rebuke when necessary and provide a strong front to oppression and injustice as the Church has always done in the case of Abolition and Sexism, whilst still encouraging dialogue.
I pray that my readers go with God’s grace and affirmation. I pray that you all use your knowledge to either challenge your beliefs and/or affirm all those who struggle with their sexual orientation and their faith.
World Health Organization. (2004). International Classification of Diseases 10 (2nd ed). Geneva: WHO.
Seriously considering a career not only in Constitutional Law, but also a PH.D in New Testament Studies for the sake of the safety of homosexuals and transgender people in the Church.
I say this primarily as I want to counter-weight Wesley Hill’s
damage influence and promotion of the Conservative Religion across the world.
I think I’m going to enjoy this career choice (the Bible and Constitutional Law are already my amateur professions for that matter)!