Sexual identity therapy: A blast from the past

In light of conversations on the Exodus-PFOX thread, I thought it might be good to review a past mainstream media article that brought SIT more into the mainstream conversation.

The LA Times article now titled “Approaching agreement in debate over homosexuality” by Stephanie Simon (now with the Wall Street Journal) was published on June 18, 2007 with the title, “New ground in debate on ‘curing’ gays.”

The article begins with some familiar ground to this blog:

Alan Chambers directs Exodus International, widely described as the nation’s largest ex-gay ministry. But when he addresses the group’s Freedom Conference at Concordia University in Irvine this month, Chambers won’t celebrate successful “ex-gays.”

Truth is, he’s not sure he’s ever met one.

With years of therapy, Chambers says, he has mostly conquered his own attraction to men; he’s a husband and a father, and he identifies as straight. But lately, he’s come to resent the term “ex-gay”: It’s too neat, implying a clean break with the past, when he still struggles at times with homosexual temptation. “By no means would we ever say change can be sudden or complete,” Chambers said.

His personal denunciation of the term “ex-gay” — his organization has yet to follow suit — is just one example of shifting ground in the polarizing debate on homosexuality.

I am not sure if I am correct, but I think Alan later nuanced the remarks about not knowing ex-gays, but I do think he has made efforts including the recent article regarding Bryce Faulkner, to paint an accurate picture of his personal situation.

This article brought to a wide audience conversations that we have been having here for quite awhile — and continue to have. The ex-gay conversation is a recurring one here. Some newer readers may want to review this post (Ex-ex-gay?) and this one ( What does change mean?) and this one (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy).

The LA Times article quoted several people who approved of the framework, including commenter Michael Bussee.

“Something’s happening. And I think it’s very positive,” agreed Michael Bussee, who founded Exodus in 1976, only to fall in love with another man — a fellow ex-gay counselor.

Now a licensed family therapist in Riverside, Bussee regularly speaks out against ex-gay therapies and is scheduled to address the Ex-Gay Survivor’s Conference at UC Irvine at the end of the month.

But Bussee put aside his protest agenda recently to endorse new guidelines to sexual identity therapy, co-written by two professors at conservative Christian colleges.

Other notable folks gave a thumbs-up to the framework as well.

He and other gay activists — along with major mental-health associations — still reject therapy aimed at “liberating” or “curing” gays. But Bussee is willing to acknowledge potential in therapy that does not promise change but instead offers patients help in managing their desires and modifying their behavior to match their religious values — even if that means a life of celibacy.

“It’s about helping clients accept that they have these same-sex attractions and then allowing them the space, free from bias, to choose how they want to act,” said Lee Beckstead, a gay psychologist in Salt Lake City who uses this approach.

The guidelines for this type of therapy — written by Warren Throckmorton of Grove City College and Mark Yarhouse of Regent University — have been endorsed by representatives on both the left and right. The list includes the provost of a conservative evangelical college and the psychiatrist whose gay-rights advocacy in the 1970s got homosexuality removed from the official medical list of mental disorders.

“What appeals to me is that it moves away from the total polarization” common in the field, said Dr. Robert Spitzer, the psychiatrist.

“For many years, mental-health professionals have taken the view that since homosexuality is not a mental disorder, any attempt to change sexual orientation is unwise,” said Spitzer, a Columbia University professor.

Some therapies are widely considered dangerous, and some rely on discredited psychological theories. “But for healthcare professionals to tell someone they don’t have the right to make an effort to bring their actions into harmony with their values is hubris,” Spitzer said.

Just over two years later, we continue to discuss very similar concerns and the tension remains.

Activists on both sides caution that the rapprochement only goes so far.

Critics of Exodus note the group still sponsors speakers who attribute homosexuality to bad parenting and assert that gays and lesbians live short, unhappy lives.

And though Chambers has disavowed the term “ex-gay,” his group’s ads give the distinct impression that it’s possible to leave homosexuality completely behind.

Haven’t we just been discussing this topic?

The article concludes with a reference to the APA Sexual Orientation Task Force.

The American Psychological Assn. set up a task force this spring to revise the group’s policy on sexual orientation therapy. The current policy is a decade old and fairly vague; it states that homosexuality is not a disorder and that therapists can’t make false claims about their treatments.

The new policy, due early next year, must help psychologists uphold two ethical principles as they work with patients unhappy about their sexuality: “Respect for the autonomy and dignity of the patient, and a duty to do no harm,” said Clinton Anderson, the association’s director for lesbian, gay and bisexual concerns. “It’s a balancing act.”

In fact, the Task Force will report soon, in August, sometime during the APA convention. Stay tuned…

Although we will soon migrate the website, more on the SIT Framework is now here.

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  • David Blakeslee

    A variety of change is possible for SSA, from remission, to opposite attraction, to ongoing SSA in a context of celibacy.

    Some of those who oppose SIT or NARTH seem to only want to focus on the low #’s associated with developing opposite sex attraction and remission of SSA.

    Much like all psychological interventions, response falls along a continuum. Longer term problems as less likely to respond fully to treatment, shorter-term problems or problems related to developmental challenges may respond more completely.

    I apologize for the clumsy terms (treatment; problems)…but they seem the best of bad choices.

  • David Blakeslee

    Limitations of the SIT may be that it only allows for accommodating the “religiously motivated” client.

    I have worked with an agnostic who held to a natural law argument for seeking to increase his heterosexual potential.

    Treating him…effectively did not refer at all to any religious value system.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Au contraire mon frere – The SIT Framework is relevant to any type of values position. The conflict is frequently religious nowadays but not exclusively. So you were prob doing SIT and didn’t know it :)

  • Michael Bussee

    To Warren:

    I am not sure if I am correct, but I think Alan later nuanced the remarks about not knowing ex-gays,

    He did. He clarified that he meant that he had never met someone who “loved the term”. http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2007/06/22/469

    He doesn’t like the term and thinks it ought to be officially retired. Instead, he refers to himself as a “former homosexual” but does not really define that. He does seem to admit that SSA is still a struggle for him.

    To David:

    A variety of change is possible for SSA, from remission, to opposite attraction, to ongoing SSA in a context of celibacy.

    The “remission” may be possible, but has not been well documented. As I have said many times, I would like to meet a man who was previously exclusively SSA who is now exclusively SSA. I accept the “possibility”. God is almighty — and anything is possible.

  • Michael Bussee

    But Bussee is willing to acknowledge potential in therapy that does not promise change but instead offers patients help in managing their desires and modifying their behavior to match their religious values — even if that means a life of celibacy.

    But Bussee put aside his protest agenda recently to endorse new guidelines to sexual identity therapy, co-written by two professors at conservative Christian colleges.

    This first quote is true. But I want to make it clear that I do not officially endorse SIT — just that it is a good step in the right direction — and that I strongly support a client’s right to self-determination.

    Do I really come across as having a protest agenda? Words like “agenda” and “activist” have always been an uncomfortable fit. I am not sure I “idenitify” with them. Oh well, I am gay and I am active — in spite of the fact that I have slowed down a bit and I now get the senior discount at Denny’s. :)

  • Michael Bussee

    To David: I

    have worked with an agnostic who held to a natural law argument for seeking to increase his heterosexual potential. Treating him…effectively did not refer at all to any religious value system.

    Hmmm. That is a very interesting concept — “heterosexual potential”. I am curious. Do you think everyone has it? How about “homosexual potential”? Does everyone have that, too?

    Did this client have any OSA to begin with? How much did he develop? DId he lose his SSA? Where would you place him on the old “0 to 6″ scale — before and after effective treatment?

    If it wasn’t religious motivation, what seemed to be the key(s) to unlocking this straight potential?

  • Michael Bussee

    Warren: I am re-reading the SIT guidelines. I am cautious about saying anything yet, except that I respect a client’s right to self-determination and in living in accordance with his/her values.

    I have problems with the “identity” part and with some of the folks you cite in support of the guidelines. I need to do a very careful re-reading before I can support the guidelines themselves.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Glad you are looking them over Michael.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    I am not sure if I am correct, but I think Alan later nuanced the remarks about not knowing ex-gays,

    He did. He clarified that he meant that he had never met someone who “loved the term”. http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2007/06/22/469

    He doesn’t like the term and thinks it ought to be officially retired. Instead, he refers to himself as a “former homosexual” but does not really define that. He does seem to admit that SSA is still a struggle for him.

    I noticed that Alan used the term “formers” a number of times ins his latest book. I can’t necessarily claim any credit for that as he and I may both have come to it naturally. I got inspired (really) by Wayne Besen’s use of the term in his own book, “Anything But Straight.” He said he just could not get the “formers” while I realize they are my peeps.

    And, I also realized the term is biblical. We hear references to Paul’s calling the early Corinthian Christians “formerly” lost in sin, or saying, “Such some of you were” (to include homosexuality) before coming to Christ. He also talked about falling back in a number of places, so that also covers the ex-ex-gay (or any ex or former) scenario.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Au contraire mon frere – The SIT Framework is relevant to any type of values position. The conflict is frequently religious nowadays but not exclusively. So you were prob doing SIT and didn’t know it :)

    Warren, I accept your explanation here, but I have to ask: Does it ever bother you to have co-developed with another Christian a therapy model that validates all sorts of client values, faith-driven or not? How do you square that with being a Christian psychologist? Some folks declare the term to be an oxymoron (I don’t, though I do see the inherent problems).

    This is something that has been bugging me for a while. Do you mind discussing it? What might I be missing (have patience with me) and what am I right about? I can’t be the only inquiring mind wanting to know.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    I suspect David Blakeslee will join in – I hope he does – because he articulates this well. And perhaps Mark Yarhouse will – you reading this thread?

    I don’t see the therapist as one who validates a client’s values. Clarify, yes, but not endorse. In practice, you may feel that clients believe their therapists endorse their values so this is not always clear to both parties. We validate our values and beliefs by living them. Otherwise, we are just talking about philosophies. They are not validated unless they are acted out. I can’t choose for a client so I can’t validate a client’s values.

    An important principle in Christianity than is distinct from other faiths is the principle of “soul liberty” – we all have an individual relationship with God. An application of that principle is client self-determination. If it means anything, it means clients are responsible for the value direction of their helping relationships.

    There are specific exceptions in the pastoral epistles where collectivist values are taught. However, on matters not covered by the teaching to the church, individuals are responsible for their convictions.

    There are some beliefs and values which clients hold however, which create such dissonance in me that I will not be the most effective helper for the client. Also, as a free agent, I may believe my actions will cause greater harm to a large number of people beyond me and the client (e.g., a counselor might refuse to counsel a military officer about returning to war). These situations erode the ability of the counselor to support soul liberty and trigger a need for referral. We have that mechanism built into the framework.

  • Katie Cannon

    It seems to me that something along the lines of SIT is being practiced by a good number of therapists — at least in cases where a person has mixed attractions and thus a difficult time in developing a satisfactory (to them) sense of identity. And that religious belief often has nothing at all to do with this.

    It seems to me that much of Queer Theory opens the way for multiple identifications, as it’s often also connected to a multiple theory of self, and Queer Theory isn’t usually associated with religious belief.

    And in the support groups for mixed orientation couples, the gay men sometimes come to identify more with aspects of themselves other than their sexual attractions. And it seems to me that, for those who are more successful at this than others, and thus come to more closely identify with their spontaneous love of their wives, they often find that they’re “gay, plus ‘wife-sexual’” — even if the acknowledge that if they ever divorced they’d almost certainly end up with a man.

    For a non-religious, gay male therapist’s perspective on this see Joe Kort at joekort.com.

    While he certainly doesn’t use the phrase SIT, it seems to me that he’s doing some form of “sexual identity therapy”.

    When Rob and I were in therapy, the issue of multiple selves and thus multiple identifications and dis-identifications was central. SIT alla Throckmorton? Don’t know, but certainly a form of identity therapy — perhaps more broadly conceived, though sexual identity was certainly part of it. Though one’s fantasies about the meanings of sex was perhaps given higher attention than Warren might give to it.

    Among gay id’d married men who would like to stay married because they genuinely also love their wives, I see a mighty block in they’re comfort with actively identifying with this love — and quite often an active dis-identification. And yet, who’s to say which is more fundamental to one’s identity at any given moment — who we love, or who we fantasize about sexually?

    At any rate, it doesn’t seem to me that a religious motivation is required.

    And that the growing trend in viewing the self as multiple rather than one, of necessity opens the way to some form of identity therapy, either generally or more specifically when it comes to sexual orientation. Simply because the conception of the self as multiple undercuts the notion of any hegemonic identificatory practice.

    K.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Katie – Well said. Sexual orientation diversity is the other reality which is moving the profession in this direction.

    Mark Yarhouse incorporates the dis-identification concept into his work with evangelicals and we use it in the SIT framework.

  • Katie Cannon

    Funny, but as a non-religious person myself, I don’t see an inherent contradiction in being a Christian therapist — anymore than in being a non-Christian therapist.

    Everyone holds and ethics, and it seems to me that the matter of ethics shouldn’t be avoided in any type of therapy, but should be brought out and made a part of therapy itself.

    K.

  • Eddy

    As one who has been involved in the unending debate about the term ‘ex-gay’, I’d like to suggest that if the term ‘former homosexual’ becomes the new Exodus replacement term, many of the objections that are levelled against ‘ex-gay’ will be levelled against ‘former homosexual’. IMHO, it’s not being done yet simply because the term isn’t yet in common use and is ‘under the radar’.

    With our current discussion (and progress) re defining ‘ex-gay’ over on the kumbaya thread, has anyone checked in with Alan to see if he still feels the term needs to be dropped or if it can be rescued. I’d hate to think that we went to all that trouble to define the term only to have it abandoned. (I’m thinking that given the timing of that thread and the annual Exodus conference, Alan may have missed that discussion.)

    Michael inquired of David:

    Hmmm. That is a very interesting concept — “heterosexual potential”. I am curious. Do you think everyone has it? How about “homosexual potential”? Does everyone have that, too?

    I take slight exception to the closing sentence only because it seems to presume that David’s answer is that ‘everyone’ has ‘heterosexual potential’. My guess is that, given the ‘right’ circumstances…almost everyone has ‘heterosexual potential’ and ‘homosexual potential’. But I feel this cheapens

    David’s term. Our immediate tendency, IMHO, is to define ‘homosexual potential’ as the ‘capacity to engage in homosexual sexual activity’. Somehow, I suspect that ‘heterosexual potential’ embraces a broader picture.

    I am amused by the fact that David tried very hard not to charge his statement with any bias, used a term that avoided the ‘orientation’ landmines, but the immediate response was to presume and insinuate bias.

    LOL. I am well aware that I can’t see Michael as he types but I’m 99% sure that I caught the intentional sarcasm implied in “HMMMM.” (Forgive me if I’m wrong, Michael, but you don’t use that often to indicate you’re thinking…you simply ask. And, it seems to echo a style of another somewhat frequent blogger who would use it in the sarcastic sense.)

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Warren, I appreciate your response, although it is a bit esoteric, i.e., psychology-speak that is relevant for a conversation between counselors, but maybe not as much for the general audience.

    You are saying that the therapist needs to help the client clarify what he/she believes so as to have congruence between those beliefs and the behaviors they choose, correct? And that a professing and advertised Christian counselor can and ought to do that the same way as any other counselor (unless there is real dissonance in that)?

    And there is not enough dissonance in that explanation to bother you? What I hear you saying would bother me as a Christian who also would have a responsibility to inject biblical truth into my counseling. Are we not allowed to hold up a Christ-centered standard for thought and behavior without worrying about overwhelming a client with guilt? It’s conviction we would be seeking, not condemning guilt. The counselor can draw the distinction for the client.

    I listen to open teaching from and am mentored in closed session by an experienced, professional, Christian counselor (with a D.Min and not a Ph.D. degree) week-in and week-out, so I am not ignorant of these things.

    Many in the church do not know what they are sending hurting people into when they refer to some Christian counselors. And I know there is professional disagreement in the ranks.

    If it means anything, it means clients are responsible for the value direction of their helping relationships.

    I’m sorry, but that is gobbledygook to me.

    “Soul liberty” can mean different things to different people. I wonder what it means to Mel White and Soulforce.

    Thanks for your attempt at clarification, but it misses the mark for me. I’d be happy to hear more if I am misunderstanding anything.

  • Brian

    I have some experience with this type of therapy. I would say that I found that it does not work, regardless of motivation. It may alter or suppress homosexual thoughts temporarily. But I never met anyone who “blossomed” into a heterosexual. Typically, the “ex-gay” will be perpetually single, forever looking for the right girl. A few are married, as exemplified by some of the movement’s spokesmen. It is interesting to note that these marriages are rarely if ever normal marital arrangements. Many involve marriages to “ex-lesbians”. (What are the odds that of all the available women in the world, that our ex-gay, fully heterosexual male leader would happen to fall madly in love with an ex-lesbian?) One ex-gay leader was hitched in one of those mass arranged marriages conducted by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. If there is a single so-called ex-gay that lives a conventionally l heterosexual life, I’d be surprised.

    More to the point, I think it is telling that 4 decades into this phenomenon, there has yet to be any reputable, peer-reviewed study that confirms that sexual orientation conversion is possible. It is all self-reported, with vague or changing definitions of success, and little or no long-term follow-up. That is why people like Blakeslee have to pepper their language with clinical-sounding abbreviations – to give the whole venture the veneer of science.

  • Ann

    Brian,

    We will never get the accurate information about people who have made the personal decision to separate themselves from a same gender attraction identity and or relationships. We only hear about people who choose to promote or validate it. We will rarely know, unless they are our friends or relatives, those individuals who quietly walked away, for their own personal reasons, and are now living different lives. They have no need or motivation to advertise or promote this as they consider it a personal decision, not one that others should follow or a standard to live by.

  • Ann

    Debbie, Karen, and anyone else -

    Here is an ongoing dilemma for me – If someone does not understand Christianity, or is of another faith, or an atheist, or has been severely injured (emotionally or physically) in the name of religion, or considers organized religion a profit making business at the expense of the vulnerable, or sees it as an elite group of people who they cannot relate to, or is now disillusioned by all the hypocrisy within organized religion by priests and ministers and their egregious transgressions – do they have the same right as a professed or authentic Christian to receive help and support in aligning their sexual ethic to be in congruence with their values? Would you accept them as they are without the caveat that they identify as a Christian? Would you speak to them in a language they understand or talk over them with all the terms and phrases that only those well versed would understand? I rarely understand all the words, phrases, and terms used in the name of Christianity on this blog – they seem out of my league -so if you chose to respond, I am humbly asking you to do it as Jesus would do – in simple language that I can understand.

  • concerned

    Ann,

    You hit it right on. Those who do not leave the gay life behind are made to be heroes in our current politically correct sex charge society. They are held up as models for others who still struggle so they too can become liberated. Yet those who have quietly gone on to change their live are held in disbelief and ridicule so why would they stand up. I know there are churches that do encourage a more traditional sexual ethic, but if they speak out too loudly they are also ridiculed. I guess this should not be surprising to me as scripture clearly describes how standing up for what is true will not be accepted. That, however, does not make it any less true it just means to many have been deceived.

    The double standard is so exeptionally obvious and yet impossible to overcome in our current narcassitic society.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    We will never get the accurate information about people who have made the personal decision to separate themselves from a same gender attraction identity and or relationships. We only hear about people who choose to promote or validate it. We will rarely know, unless they are our friends or relatives, those individuals who quietly walked away, for their own personal reasons, and are now living different lives. They have no need or motivation to advertise or promote this as they consider it a personal decision, not one that others should follow or a standard to live by.

    Hear, hear. Should be quite obvious, but isn’t. Any of us who say we don’t have an agenda of some kind are deceiving ourselves. It is natural to seek out and play up that which confirms our own views. BUT, the world is much larger than that.

    Dare I offer up my own now-healthy marriage as an example? Of course, I don’t count in the eyes of many as I am a “sexually fluid” female (love labels, like the rest of you) who was never exclusively homosexual, and on and on it goes. Back to square one, as always. Exceptions to every “rule,” and the rules are all over the map.

    My husband and I had a pretty amazing love story back before we ever dealt with my other life. So what we have today is a restored, purer version of that. I can’t help but believe the way I was raised accounted for a lot of what I was grounded in, even though I had a lot of messed-up thinking to get over.

  • David Blakeslee

    I am back

    @ Michael,

    regarding my client…exploring heterosexual potential (his goal) is exactly that. If we think of it in terms of the word “exploring”…It could be like looking for a shorter passage to India (and not finding it), but instead finding a whole new continent (way to live in the world with SSA).

    It could also be like exploring for a Northwest Passage…a noble goal, but it doesn’t exist; but we don’t know it until we explore it.

    For a small minority, exploring becomes discovering heterosexual attraction.

    I am reluctant to get into the particulars with any client’s treatment…I just wanted to highlight that a secularist participated in treatment and experienced a reduction in his SSA behavior (some of it compulsive and unwanted) and an increase in his attraction and curiosity about the opposite sex.

    He felt helped by the therapeutic support he got here.

  • Michael Bussee

    Eddy: The “Hmmmm” was not sarcastic. Actually, I was intrigued by the idea that we may all have homo and hetero potential. I was curious if David saw it this way. NO sarcasm.

    I was thoughtfully stroking my goatee at the time, going “hmmmm, now there is an interesting idea….I am not sure how I feel about the idea. It’s just interesting…

  • Ann

    In regards to definitions – we have had a lot of spirited discussion regarding the term “ex-gay” and after wringing it dry, have come up with some agreement. What if we had the same discussion about the definition of a Christian – how would each one of us define it – would we all be in agreement about the various layers and dimensions and what it means to each person? I am not suggesting a discussion on this thread, or even know if Dr. Throckmorton would consider a separate thread for this topic but I wanted to point out that while we THINK we are talking about the same thing, often we are not. Clarity can be an inconvenience, however, I think one that is well worthwhile.

  • Michael Bussee

    Concerned: Yet those who have quietly gone on to change their live are held in disbelief and ridicule so why would they stand up

    If I have ridiculed them, I sinderely apologize. That would have been cruel of me — and unfair. I repeat, if I have come across as ridiculing, I am very sorry. They have every right to live and believe as they please.

    I do not disbelieve that there may be many who have changed their lives, who have refrained from gay relationships, who no longer identify themselves as gay, who have experienced a profound spiritual transformation and who are now living quiet, satisfied lives.

    I do not disbelieve that they exist or that they are happier. I do not believe that they are lying to themselves or to the puiblic about that. I do not believe that “self-affirming as “gay” is the only way — or that it should be held up as the only model. I just disbelieve that these male “ex-gay” folk are now no longer same sex attracted.

    Alan seems to say they are. Eddy seems to say they are. Debbie and Karen seem to say they are. I thought we had pretty much all agreed that they probably are. Whether we call it “orientation” or “temptation” — the experience of being primarily attracted to the same-sex remains — for all but a rare few — and for whatever reason, they aren’t talking.

  • http://www.psychologyandchristianity.wordpress.com Mark

    Warren asked if I might offer a few thoughts on sexual identity therapy. My understanding of it grew out of (1) the research I was conducting on sexual identity development, (2) my clinical experience with people who had attempted change of orientation elsewhere but had not experienced as much success as they would have liked, and (3) a desire to offer an alternative to what appeared to be two polarized approaches (gay affirmative/integrative and reparative models).

    I’ll only offer thoughts on #1 for now. I had studied religious sexual minorities who integrated their experiences of SSA into a gay identity and those who did not (or dis-identified with a gay identity). What appeared helpful to them was assistance in navigating that terrain – the difficult terrain of both religious and sexual identity considerations. They seemed to benefit from more “light” to “see” the pathways that were available to them. They then had choices to make about which direction(s) were best. I thought a therapy model that gave them a place to sort that out would be beneficial to them. To create that space, however, means that some people will go in one direction, while others will go in a different direction.

    I understand the concern raised about outcomes; I can understand that tension as a Christian. However, I began to think about how I approach other therapy cases. For example, I provide a lot of marital therapy. I have in my mind an outcome, but I cannot make the decision about whether a couple stays together or not. That is their decision. I try to foster an environment in which they can make a decision about the future of their marriage. Thankfully, most often that is toward reconciliation; but sometimes they decide to separate or divorce.

    There are a lot of issues here for consideration, so I feel I am not doing it justice by posting a comment – it deserves an article or even a book!

  • Michael Bussee

    To Eddy:

    With our current discussion (and progress) re defining ‘ex-gay’ over on the kumbaya thread, has anyone checked in with Alan to see if he still feels the term needs to be dropped or if it can be rescued. I’d hate to think that we went to all that trouble to define the term only to have it abandoned.

    I really pissed him off, so he won’t talk to me. Would be cool if someone else could call and ask him. I am curious what he would say now.

    To Brian:

    More to the point, I think it is telling that 4 decades into this phenomenon, there has yet to be any reputable, peer-reviewed study that confirms that sexual orientation conversion is possible. It is all self-reported, with vague or changing definitions of success, and little or no long-term follow-up.

    Could not have said that better myself.

    To Warren:

    An important principle in Christianity than is distinct from other faiths is the principle of “soul liberty” – we all have an individual relationship with God. An application of that principle is client self-determination.

    That’s what I was talking about when I referred to the soverignty of the indiviudal conscience before God. David didn’t seem to like that much.

  • http://www.psychologyandchristianity.wordpress.com Mark

    One other thought for the article/book:

    This discussion brings to my mind the idea of being licensed as a clinician. By virtue of being licensed by the state, I think we enter into a fiduciary relationship with the public (I am using language here first introduced to me by a colleague but I find it helpful and maybe it will help in this discussion). It is a relationshp built on trust, ethics, and high standards, and the practice of psychology is going to be based on scientific findings and professional standards. (I also think the clinician’s personal values are important here, too, and inescapable in some ways, but I am focusing this comment on the other aspect of trust/ethics.) I think one way to navigate this kind of fiduciary relationshp is to be more client-centered and identity-focused when it comes to same-sex attraction (others will disagree). So I may have personal views as to what is best, and we may or may not discuss my views at times (that’s a whole other discussion), but in the end the person has decisions to make about their life and identity. I want to give them as much relevant information as I can so that they can make a decision they can live with. In the majority of cases (but not all and based on the referrals I receive), those decisions have been consistent with the traditional Christian sexual ethic. (Also important: what I would not want to do is enter into a relationshp in which I commit to walk with them through this difficult terrain and then refer them out if they went in a different direction.)

  • Ann

    I do not disbelieve that there may be many who have changed their lives, who have refrained from gay relationships, who no longer identify themselves as gay, who have experienced a profound spiritual transformation and who are now living quiet, satisfied lives.

    I do not disbelieve that they exist or that they are happier. I do not believe that they are lying to themselves or to the puiblic about that. I do not believe that “self-affirming as “gay” is the only way — or that it should be held up as the only model. I just disbelieve that these male “ex-gay” folk are now no longer same sex attracted.

    Michael,

    You are addressing things that were never said about the people who, for their own personal reasons, and without fanfare, decided to take a different life path than the one they were formerly invoved in. Just because they have separated themselves from their prior identity and way of living does always have to equate to the scenarios you suggest in the about block quote. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t – this goes for anyone.

  • Michael Bussee

    Ann: Could you restate that? I don’t understand. A little foggy this morning.

  • Ann

    Michael,

    I misread your words. I thought it said just disbelieve, when in fact you said you do NOT disbelieve. Please forgive my faux pas and disregard the last post in response to your’s. I broke my own rule and jumped the gun and am very sorry.

  • Michael Bussee

    What I meant to convey was that I have no disrespect (and am sorry if I have been disrespectful) towards those who quietly walk away from a gay identity to live quiet lives congruent with their personal beliefs and choices.

    I am satisfied that we have pretty much agreed that this does not necessarily mean that they are no longer same sex attracted — although I acknowledge the possibility that may be true for some.

  • concerned

    Michael,

    It is not you that I have felt the ridicule from, but many gay activists I have read seem to feel it is completely acceptable to do so. I realize you try to deal with your own personal biases in a fair and objective way.

  • Ann

    What I meant to convey was that I have no disrespect (and am sorry if I have been disrespectful) towards those who quietly walk away from a gay identity to live quiet lives congruent with their personal beliefs and choices.

    I am satisfied that we have pretty much agreed that this does not necessarily mean that they are no longer same sex attracted — although I acknowledge the possibility that may be true for some.

    Michael,

    Yes, now I completely understand what you said. Thank you for all your patience with me to get to this point of agreement and please forgive me for not reading it correctly the first time.

  • Michael Bussee

    I think some of them may ridicule because they feel ex-gays are lying about orientation change. If ex-gays made it clearer (for example on the EXODUS website) that this is not necessarily the “change” they are claiming, I suspect a lot of that anti-exgay sentiment would die down. And I promise I would be one of the loudest voices asking for the gay community to simmer down about it.

    They would likely say, “That’s cool if they (ex-gays) want to follow their beliefs, adopt a new identity and live as they choose — that’s all we really want, too.” Involvement in rightwing politics hurts the ex-gay cause, too. Many gays get upset because they think Christians want to strip gays of equal rights under the law and force them back into the closet.

  • Eddy

    Ann–

    In response to your post addressed to Karen, Debbie and others, I understand your concern but am uncomfortable with the proposed solution: that they learn to speak in words that we can all understand.

    My principle reason is this: The crux of our communication problem doesn’t seem to be that Christians haven’t been speaking clearly but rather that they’ve been trying to speak in both languages…that of Christianese and that of Psychological lingo (I was tempted to say ‘psycho-babble’ but didn’t). For example, it wasn’t so much the use of the word ‘change’ that was confusing but rather that it sounded like what was being promised was a ‘change of orientation’. We seem to agree on basic behaviors, responses, overall thought life; it’s that word ‘orientation’ that doesn’t have a true meaning in the Christian experience that presents the sticky wicket.

    The Christians who blog here are trying to avoid the further confusion that would be caused by being entrapped by the confines of psychological jargon. No, I’m not speaking of some fundamentalist hysterical reaction to things scientific, I speak more to things you’ve already witnessed: the compulsion of science/psychology to identify/label and box everything and everyone but it’s vulnerability to social pressure that prevents it from recognizing those who don’t quite fit its established boxes, the tendency of many, especially in the area of homosexual orientation, to presume that theory is fact.

    You have also witnessed the dynamic that comes with an ill-chosen word…how your entire point could be lost because you’ve selected one word that sets off a buzzer from the other side. Combining these various conversational hurdles, we just might be placing an unfair burden on them.

    For these reasons, I think it might not be productive for them to try to talk in terms outside of their own vernacular. Your admonition is good and I’m sure they will try to be mindful of their words but I have cautions against taking that too far. An option might be for you (or anyone else) to respond with “You used the term______, can you elaborate on its meaning.” I don’t think they’d be offended and I don’t think it would be intrusive to the discussion. In fact, it might even give them the opportunity to expand on the point(s) they were trying to make.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    (Also important: what I would not want to do is enter into a relationshp in which I commit to walk with them through this difficult terrain and then refer them out if they went in a different direction.)

    Janelle Hallman stays with her SSA/lesbian clients who want to keep working with her, even if they decide to affirm their homosexuality and go that route in their manner of living. I have really struggled with that, but then I think of Andrew Marin’s ministry approach. Dr. Y does a good job of explaining the potential dilemmas from either viewpoint.

  • Michael Bussee

    To Eddy:

    For example, it wasn’t so much the use of the word ‘change’ that was confusing but rather that it sounded like what was being promised was a ‘change of orientation’.

    Yup. You hit the nail right on the head. I sounded like that was what was being promised. Now, we know better.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    There are a lot of issues here for consideration, so I feel I am not doing it justice by posting a comment – it deserves an article or even a book!

    Go for it!

  • Michael Bussee

    So are we all in agreement now that this is NOT what is being promised? And that whether we we call the experience “temptation” or “orientation” that ex-gay males are still same sex attracted to some degree or another? Would that annoy you less?

    I won’t say they are not “heterosexual” or not “completely heterosexual” — just that they are still same sex tempted. How’s that?

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Dr. Y, would you consider writing an article covering this stuff for Christian Counseling Today? Tim Clinton wants to get more on the topic into the AACC’s resources, based on past discussions with him. Can’t remember what you have or have not written already.

  • Michael Bussee

    So I will revise it:

    For over 30 years, all “ex-gay” males I have met or interacted with report that they are still same-sex tempted to some degree or another. They do not typically identify themselves aas “heterosexual” or “straight”.

    Better?

  • Michael Bussee

    And how about this:

    Although there has been much confusion over the issue, (whether the fault of gays, ex-gays or some of both) EXODUS does not promise what some might refer to as a change in “sexual orientation”. Typically, ex-gays report that same sex temptations persist to some degree or another. Few have claimed complete freedom from such temptations or have made the claim that they are now enitrely heterosexual in orientation.

    I am trying hard to state things accurately. I want to choose my words very carefully here, so as not to be accused of “muddling”. I am trying to state something we could both agree on.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Ann, your dilemma question is a good one. I think Mark Yarhouse already addressed it from a licensed counseling perspective.

    In my case, I would likely be working with those who profess to be Christians already or have a churched background, as our small-group ministry is clearly Christ-centered. We teach and disciple from a scriptural standpoint, so people who are uncomfortable with that — and those who are seeking to understand or have not yet accepted Christ as personal savior are surely welcome — are less likely to come to our ministry-based support system.

    But folks like Warren and Mark have to be more open to working with those who are on the fence or uncertain of what they believe. We also have spiritually confused folks in our various groups, and we have to give them the freedom to make their choices at some point, even if we disagree with them. We can see them as prodigals on a journey of self-discovery or waiting for the Spirit-light to go on in the meantime. We wouldn’t cruelly turn them away. We wouldn’t be the Church if we did. We also would not let them sit on the fence indefinitely or become group junkies.

  • Michael Bussee

    Now, putting those all together:

    (1) The term”ex-gay” refers primarily to a change in “idenity”, and not to what might be typically thought of as a reversal in “sexual orientation” from homosexual to heterosexual.

    (2) Almost without exception, males who identify themselves as “ex-gay” report that same sex temptations persist to some degree or another — although many report a reduction in the intensity and/or frequency of such temptations.

    (3) Few have claimed complete freedom from such temptations or have made the claim that they are now enitrely heterosexual in orientation.

    (4) Although there has been much confusion over the issue, (whether the fault of gays, ex-gays or some of both) EXODUS does not promise what some might refer to as a change in “sexual orientation”.

    Are all those statements fair?

  • concerned

    Michael,

    I would go along with your statement, infact that is pretty much what I have always felt and have been saying for years now. For myself I hope my SSA is not gone completely as I think it is part of what draws me into human relationship. I just done want it to be considered as a focal point of who I am and I do not allow anyone else to label me according to their own standard. The level of change that is acceptable in ones live should be up to that individual and the people who mean the most to them, not up to someone who knows nothing about them. When I hear someone claim that no change ever occurs or that you have to have 100% change in order for it to be acceptable I feel many red flags going up. Maybe it is time I worked harder at letting go of these red flags so that I can better understand where that persons reasoning is coming from.

  • Eddy

    For example, it wasn’t so much the use of the word ‘change’ that was confusing but rather that it sounded like what was being promised was a ‘change of orientation’.

    Yup. You hit the nail right on the head. I sounded like that was what was being promised. Now, we know better.

    I never wanted Exodus to get involved in politics but I also had strong reservations about them getting too mixed in with psychology…Exodus did have a strong desire for the therapeutic insights they could gain from psychology but I fear they weren’t fully aware of the other baggage that would come with it. I cringed whenever I saw the word ‘orientation’ come into use in a ministry handout. “That’s their word and it doesn’t fully translate in Christian culture…we don’t say, for example, I’m dealing with a lying orientation.” Another big problem I have showed up on protest signs at the local Pride festivities: “Homosexuality is sin.” No, it isn’t. Homosexual behavior is sin. Homosexuality is sinful. (It has aspects of sin to it but is not sin, per se.) Homosexuality is ‘the condition’…the condition is ‘the orientation’. (It’s counterpart from above would be ‘liar’. If you lie, you’re a liar. If you habitually lie, you’re a liar. If you think about lying but don’t lie, you’re NOT a liar. –The qualifier here, and it actually favors ‘the other side’, is that I’d concede that if you constantly think about lying, the ‘liar’ tag might fit even if you don’t do it. I’ve said this umpteen times but psychology’s ‘condition’ and ‘orientation’ include ‘temptation’…and psychology doesn’t yet have any true measures.

    ‘Orientation’ presumes that that homosexual desire comes from within…you think that way because you ARE that way. “Temptation” recognizes that the thought or desire might be a ‘memory trigger’…an association, an outward originating ‘attack of the enemy’. Temptation does not presume that your impulses originate from ‘who you are’ but it does recognize they might come from ‘where you’ve been’.

  • Eddy

    Debbie–

    Who is Dr. Y? No one is identifying themselves as such on the blog and I’ve seen you address several comments that direction. I think Mark Yarhouse dropped in today but wasn’t here previously to my recollection.

    Sign me.

    Confused and Curious

  • http://www.psychologyandchristianity.wordpress.com Mark

    Debbie,

    Sure, if Tim thinks it would be helpful to AACC members, I’d be happy to organize my thoughts a little more on it.

  • Michael Bussee

    Concerned:

    I just don’t want it to be considered as a focal point of who I am and I do not allow anyone else to label me according to their own standard.

    That is perfectly reasonable — and to the extent that I have done that, I ask your forgiveness.

    The level of change that is acceptable in ones live should be up to that individual and the people who mean the most to them, not up to someone who knows nothing about them.

    That is reasonable too. And, again, I am sorry if I have implied that the “level of change” you have experienced was less real because it doesn’t satisfy my definiton of a change in sexual orientation from gay to straight.

    When I hear someone claim that no change ever occurs or that you have to have 100% change in order for it to be acceptable I feel many red flags going up

    Reasonable again. I hope that I have never said that “no change ever occurs”. That would be just plain stupid on my part. Everything changes, except God’s love for us. It doesn’t have to be a “100% change”. No ex-gay male I have met has made that claim anyway.

  • Eddy

    LOL. So it is Dr. Mark after all. I swear I saw Debbie address something to ‘Dr. Y’ several days ago but never noticed Mark was ‘in the house’.

  • Michael Bussee

    To Eddy:

    I never wanted Exodus to get involved in politics but I also had strong reservations about them getting too mixed in with psychology…

    I agree. I have always felt that way.

    “Homosexuality is sin.” No, it isn’t. Homosexual behavior is sin.

    Of course, we disagree on that last sentence. I don’t believe that all homosexual behavior is sin. That is our great divide. And since we do disagree on whether or not all gay behavior is sin, I understand that you have to speak of the attractions as “temptations”. I understand that. I will try to say something like, “what you call temptation”…

    I can’t call all homosexual attractions “temptation” — unless the attraction leads a person to act on their attractions in a way that would violate the Two Great Commandments.

  • Eddy

    Whatever….

  • Michael Bussee

    What does that mean? I really am trying to come up with something I can say that is both accurate and fair. Do you want me to agree that it is sin?

  • Eddy

    It means ‘please see my final comment to you’ on the other (PFOX) thread.

  • Michael Bussee

    OK, Eddy. I will respect that. I won’t bug you anymore. I promise. There are others here who still want to come to some common ground. I will talk to them.

    I maintain that these four statements are a fair and accurate summation of the things Eddy, Debbie, Concerned and Karen and other ex-gays have told me — and I sincerely thank them for their patience in helping me make it clear in my own mind. Sorry if Eddy thinks it’s all been insincere game-playing. It was not.

    1) The term”ex-gay” refers primarily to a change in “idenity”, and not to what might be typically thought of as a reversal in “sexual orientation” from homosexual to heterosexual.

    (2) Almost without exception, males who identify themselves as “ex-gay” report that same sex temptations persist to some degree or another — although many report a reduction in the intensity and/or frequency of such temptations.

    (3) Few have claimed complete freedom from such temptations or have made the claim that they are now enitrely heterosexual in orientation.

    (4) Although there has been much confusion over the issue, (whether the fault of gays, ex-gays or some of both) EXODUS does not promise what some might refer to as a change in “sexual orientation”.

    If these are not fair or accurate, I would be open to hearing how they are not.

    Once again, I mean no disrepect to those ex-gays who have chosen to take on a new identity, to resist temptation, to turn away from sin, to submit their sexuality toi God — and to live in accordance with their beliefs.

    I have no desire to demean them, ridicule them, define them or take away their hope. I pray God will bless them — and that He will forgive me if I have hurt them, discounted their experience or shown them disrespect.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Michael – I accept your statement at face value. And I think it is an important stance to take. Well said!

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Michael said:

    I can’t call all homosexual attractions “temptation” — unless the attraction leads a person to act on their attractions in a way that would violate the Two Great Commandments.

    And not one or more of the Ten? Jesus said he did not come to annul the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them. So, adultery, idolatry, covetousness, lying — all pretty applicable to gay or straight sleeping around — are still in the mix.

    On another note, Michael, I accept your attempt at understanding what ex-gay means and your reasoned (in some cases, through a torturous process, it seems) statements above. You can take yourself off the hook. Lie down with an ice pack and relax. :)

    I know feelings run strong for some of us here. We’ve been through various versions of hell. But if we love the same God — and I know we do — we can forgive and begin to move on. I am for that. Anyone else?

    Michael, I may pray for you, but it’s not in my power to change your mind. Just the ground that you have given lately in these discussions is meaningful, though. Thank you.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Debbie,

    Sure, if Tim thinks it would be helpful to AACC members, I’d be happy to organize my thoughts a little more on it.

    Thanks. I’ll pass that on.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Debbie–

    Who is Dr. Y? No one is identifying themselves as such on the blog and I’ve seen you address several comments that direction. I think Mark Yarhouse dropped in today but wasn’t here previously to my recollection.

    Eddy, Mark is Mark Yarhouse. He has a live link on his name. I checked it with the first comment I saw him make to be sure. Sorry for the confusion. I thought others knew.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Eddy, I like your comments above about the change confusion, Exodus and psychology’s baggage and all the rest. Well said.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    As one who has been involved in the unending debate about the term ‘ex-gay’, I’d like to suggest that if the term ‘former homosexual’ becomes the new Exodus replacement term, many of the objections that are levelled against ‘ex-gay’ will be levelled against ‘former homosexual’.

    Oh please please please no.

    “Homosexual” is a technical term not much open to subjective interpretation (or shouldn’t be) while “gay” is a much more open term. To say “former homosexual”, you would literally be stating that one is not attracted to persons of the same sex. And, as Michael often reminds us, that would not be particularly accurate for most strugglers.

    Unlike Michael, I don’t necessarily think the term ex-gay is all that bad. I can get that someone may be on a scale of 100% homosexual or hardly ever troubled by same-sex temptations and still be ex-gay. Because, to some extent, gay reflects not only attractions but community, identity, and association with a certain way of thinking of oneself.

    We have at this site those who are almost exclusively attracted to the same sex and those who experience little to no attraction (mostly women). And yet the term ex-gay is encompassing enough to cover both.

    Yes, I know there has been confusion with this term. But I don’t think it is inherently confusing. Perhaps we all just need to agree to use it consistently to mean “no longer (or perhaps never) believing that being gay is morally acceptable, whether or not one still retains attractions”.

    Ironically, ex-gay could refer to one who is “falling” and slutting around every Saturday night, while gay could refer to one who is choosing to live celibately. It all depends on their intentions and perspectives. But that’s an irony that I think we could live with.

    Or I could, anyway.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    On my survey of SSA people in marriages, we asked people for an identity label. The responses were all over the place. I almost think ex-gay might be as Timothy suggests a reflection of “SSA-but-not-gay-in-the-sense-that-I’m-in-the-community-and-think-gay-sex-is-ok.”

    Ex-gay is a little easier to say.

    Not sure what I think but then it is not directly relevant to me. If someone describes him/herself that way, I just ask what they mean.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Michael Bussee ~ Jul 28, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Thank you.

    I respect your drive to get clear, concise, and accurate statements of fact that cannot then be reinterpreted. Bravo.

    I agree with the first three. I am not so convinced about Exodus’ lack of promises. I think there are a lot of implied promises (which may not be overtly stated) and insinuations and hints and everything-but-exactly-coming-out-and-saying-it which lead those who come to Exodus to get a false assumption that Exodus is promising that some (maybe you!) can have a change in orientation.

    I’m reading Alan’s new book now. I’m thinking of going back and counting how many times he mentions his wife. He doesn’t promise you can have one too, but he says he “wouldn’t trade his life now with his wife and kids for anything the gay community can offer.”

    It certainly sounded like those were the two options one could choose between.

    All right. Back to kumbayah

  • Michael Bussee

    To Timothy:

    Unlike Michael, I don’t necessarily think the term ex-gay is all that bad. I can get that someone may be on a scale of 100% homosexual or hardly ever troubled by same-sex temptations and still be ex-gay. Because, to some extent, gay reflects not only attractions but community, identity, and association with a certain way of thinking of oneself.

    Me too, Timothy. I am beginning to hate it less. I think Eddy and others have explained it pretty well — and I thank them. Now I am trying to put it more concisely, but that has ruffled the kum ba yah spirit. Hope we can calm that down. I did not intend to upset the Nuns.

  • Michael Bussee

    To Warren:

    Ex-gay is a little easier to say.

    That reminds me of what Joe Dallas said back in 1991: “I don’t think that ex-gays mean that they are former homosexuals. It’s more of a convenience. It just rolls off the tongue a little easier…”

    Maybe we are coming closer to consensus. And I want to be part of that, not a hindrance to it.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Of course, we disagree on that last sentence. I don’t believe that all homosexual behavior is sin. That is our great divide. And since we do disagree on whether or not all gay behavior is sin, I understand that you have to speak of the attractions as “temptations”. I understand that. I will try to say something like, “what you call temptation”…

    I can’t call all homosexual attractions “temptation” — unless the attraction leads a person to act on their attractions in a way that would violate the Two Great Commandments.

    Michael,

    Can I offer a way out of this particular sticking point.

    I think we all know that “sin” is better understood as “falling short” or perhaps being outside God’s will. And I think that we can even conceptualize that for some, there are things that might be sinful in their life that might not be a stumbling block in the life of others – If I recall correctly Paul discussed this idea when addressing the idea of eating meat offered to idols.

    I know we all like to say “X is sin” or “X is not sin”. It makes life easier to understand. But perhaps it’s a little too simplistic.

    So perhaps we can agree that there are some people for whom at this position in their journey all expression of homosexuality would be sinful. Whether is is “universally” sinful isn’t of as much importance as is the idea that their walk with God requires that they not consider the idea of same-sex sexual expression of any sort or under any conditions.

    And anything which would entice them toward sexual expression – however remote – would be “temptation”.

    So I think we can find a way to allow that some ex-gays have homosexual temptations. You or I might find them to be natural attractions (just as a heterosexual man may be naturally attracted to the cute girl preparing their mocha latte without it being a lustful sinful situation) but to someone else they may be temptation to sin.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Michael,

    I would worry about upsetting the Nuns. Eventually they’ll always come back to Kumbayah. I think it comes from habit.

    ~snicker

  • Michael Bussee

    So perhaps we can agree that there are some people for whom at this position in their journey all expression of homosexuality would be sinful. Whether is is “universally” sinful isn’t of as much importance as is the idea that their walk with God requires that they not consider the idea of same-sex sexual expression of any sort or under any conditions. And anything which would entice them toward sexual expression – however remote – would be “temptation”.

    Yes, Timothy, I can agree with that and I think that expresses it well.

  • Michael Bussee

    To Timothy:

    Perhaps we all just need to agree to use it consistently to mean “no longer (or perhaps never) believing that being gay is morally acceptable, whether or not one still retains attractions”.</blockquote>

    This is very good. I particularly like the “whether or not” part. Maybe some ex-gays don’t retain much, if any, same sex attraction, whether or not they develop OSA. So ex-gay has not much to do with that.

    I think we need to add in that (1) the ex-gay does not “identity” as gay (since how they identify seems crucial), (2) is determined not to act on the tempations and (3) has submitted their sexuality to God in accordance with their understanding of God’s will.

    Eddy’s definition does all these things well. It just seems a ltttle too long for most conversation. That’s why I was trying to boil it down into some shorter sentences. I wasn’t trying to upset anyone or “spin”. I just don’t want to have to quote his entire essay. :)

  • Michael Bussee

    Darn that boxquote thing! I am determined to get it right. I didn’t mean to quote my own comment, just your remark.

  • carole

    @Michael,

    This might be a really bad analogy or maybe it offers a glimmer of something that works. As a straight and as someone who has never experienced a shift in which gender I am attracted to, I cannot possibly understand if what I offer here is or is not something that an ex-gay or one who is attempting to understand ex-gayness might find analogous, but here goes.

    Most of us have loved deeply someone we are no longer with. I am not talking about someone we simply dated, but someone we loved.

    It’s very common for one of my friends to say about a boyfriend who was very much a part of her life or about a former husband, the father of her children maybe, “Part of me still loves him” or more commonly, “I’ll always love him.”

    When such statements are made, I understand exactly what is meant, for in my life there is a man whom I almost married, a man for whom I will always carry love. We weren’t right for each other, but there was and is love between us. This has absolutely nothing to do with how I feel about my husband or about how much I love my husband. In no way can the two loves be compared, but they needn’t be either.

    The point I am making is that we may never forget emotionally what or whom we have loved or desired. It perhaps should not surprise us that what was once a blazing fire may leave behind a few dying embers that give off a trace of smoke. Smoke is not fire, though.

    Again, like I said, I’ve no idea if this is at all analogous to what an ex-gay may feel when it comes to the SSA he/she once felt and that which he/ she either does or doesn’t feel now, but it strikes me that these feelings or attractions in some may be no different from the feelings and attractions that we all have for people who were once central in our lives but are no longer.

    So, I am just asking? Is it possible that my feelings for my old boyfriend, for example, (I “love” him, but am not “in love” with him) or the feelings others have for those who’ve once been in their lives are somewhat analogous to what an ex-gay feels? That is, I don’t think we ever extinguish the feelings of the loves of our lives and probably we shouldn’t want to even if we could.

    The key word here is “extinguish.” You seem to want to define things in terms of “extinguished” vs. “not extinguished.” They don’t seem to want to see things using those opposites.

    The point you are focusing on is the smoke that still rises, however faintly or not, from an old fire; the point others seem to be focusing on is the new fire they have built in their lives. The two fires of their lives may have been built with different kinds of wood, might have been ignited by different means, but one has supplanted the other in their lives in the same way our present loving relationships have replaced old ones. Just maybe: perhaps the strong growth of the new fire of their lives doesn’t require the extinguishing, the total obliterations of the old one to the point that no trace of smoke ever rises. After all, for my relationship with my husband to be strong and ever-growing , it is not required that any love I feel for my old flame be extinguished or obliterated.

    I don’t think we ever extinguish much in our lives so when you ask if SSA still exists at all in these people and when many say “yes”, while they say “yes” I think (not sure, though) that they feel you are missing the point. When you demand “Show me one, show me one who has absolutely no SSA,” they may feel you miss the point. Maybe it’s kind of like asking me, “Tell me you no longer have any love at all for that former boyfriend.” Well, I can’t tell you that. It wouldn’t be true. I can only tell you it’s a different kind of love than I once felt for him, and it’s a different kind of love than the one I feel for my husband, but it’s still love.

    Don’t know if this is helpful or not.

  • Ann

    Eddy,

    Thanks for your response to me @2:45. My request for simple language was for that post and for me only, not that any language be changed for anyone else.

  • Ann

    Debbie,

    Thanks for your response to my dilemma. I guess when I see exclusion of any kind, I think of how Jesus taught and that he did not require that anyone come from a particular religious background. He taught in parables so people from all backgrounds and experiences could understand. He was humble and simple and loving and kind and asked us to be the same. When I observe or experience people representing Christianity by talking over people and using language only a learned Christian would know, they seem insincere and their message is lost. I often think of the foster children I have been involved with over many years. They live at large residential facilities and have no clue about religion. Some of them have been involved in same gender relationships. Don’t they deserve the same kind of hope that an established Christian has? Would you welcome them into your support group if they made a decision to learn another perspective about intimate relationships? Would you have the patience to teach them? If, by God’s grace, “the least of these” comes to any of us, isn’t it our responsibility to accept them as Jesus did?

  • Michael Bussee

    Michael – I accept your statement at face value. And I think it is an important stance to take. Well said!

    I think you were referring to my four summary statements. Thanks.

    To Carole: Your analogy of the two fires is good. I kinda like the metaphor. Let me ponder. (I like pondering…)

    The point you are focusing on is the smoke that still rises, however faintly or not, from an old fire; the point others seem to be focusing on is the new fire they have built in their lives. The two fires of their lives may have been built with different kinds of wood, might have been ignited by different means, but one has supplanted the other in their lives in the same way our present loving relationships have replaced old ones.

    Yeah, I think I like that. Not that the other fire is out completely or that only smoke remains. Many feel the coals are still quite hot — and may require constant diligence to contain.

    But instead of focussing on that, they are tending the other fire. As they do, the new fire glows brighter. Nice. This other fire may be, but most likely is not, the flickering flames of heterosexuality. Maybe it’s just the warmth and comfort of a new and more meaningful life — whether or not any of the new wood is OSA.

  • Michael Bussee

    This was Warren’s comment:

    Michael – I accept your statement at face value. And I think it is an important stance to take. Well said!

    I really appreacite that, Warren. I think you know my heart. I really am trying to say it as fairly and accurately as I can — based not on my own bias or desire to “spin” but on what ex-gay folks themselves have shared here on this blog about change, labels, reorientation and idenity. By George, I think I’ve got it…

    If I am off on any of the four points, I am open to revising my understanding.

  • carole

    @Michael,

    Maybe it’s just the warmth and comfort of a new and more meaningful life — whether or not any of the new wood is OSA.

    Could be. And maybe for some people, some portion of the new wood is OSA (for those Warren calls spousosexual) even if the other fire is smoking or burning. The thing is, they are not tending the first fire any longer.

    I too was thinking about the warmth of the fires–for individual reasons, some feel the need to build a second fire in hopes of finding a more comforting warmth than the first fire offered them. Or maybe the first was too hot. Maybe life is about building fires and there are lots of different kinds of fires–the fire of passion, the fire of the hearth, the fire of devotion, and many, many more.

    I’ll give the analogy a rest now.

  • http://pianomankugie.vox.com PianoManKugie

    Michael, the four statements are great. I agree. The degrees of changes (not “the change”, because you’re correct, there isn’t a removal of the past) are different for every single person, but it doesn’t ‘erase’ the past; I agree that it just adds different newer recordings to the previous recordings, which are still there, and which will always be there, if God willing I don’t lose my memory and go into dementia or alzheimers in 30 or 40 years, if I’m still around then.

    Carole, I too think that deeply emotional memories are always there. I don’t think about them and they just keep on fading but never go completely away. Kind of like memories that could seem like decades ago (actually, the memories I’m referencing are from decades ago) and at the same time could seem like only weeks ago or just last year. Something in the mind remembers, and I no longer want to lose any of my memories, because I’d have to lose all of them, and that’s not something I’d desire. (Oh yeah, my counselor said something about the limbic system…).

    Ann, a very wise person once said to me, the question is not have I stepped through the door, but am I traveling in the direction? There’s oftentimes many years of spiritual “growing in the spiritual womb” before spritual birth occurs. So hopefully those who are on a journey will be welcomed, not just those who have crossed over a state line or over a church line. I also wouldn’t be surprised if for every twenty that are outspoken about changes in their lives that there are a several hundred others who have ‘quietly without fanfare’ (you really said that quite well) experienced profound changes and are just doing their best to love God, love people, “do more good and less harm”, and ongoingly practice (because it is a practice, not a performance) in submitting themselves as in “Not my will, but Thy will be done”.

  • Michael Bussee

    Carole: I like the anology. The different kinds of fires you mentioned and that, for some, the new fire may have some of the OSA “wood”. (Boy could that be taken several ways..)

    It makes a lot of sense to me. The “spousalsexual” thing also makes sense to me. I had feelings sort of like like towards my wife. I loved her (and still love her). I thought (and still think) she is beautiful.

    I wanted to please her sexually and felt happy when I could — which was hardly ever — and unfortunately required homosexual fantasy to make it work. She was (and still is) the only girl I ever really loved. Too bad she wasn’t a guy… :)

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    I also wouldn’t be surprised if for every twenty that are outspoken about changes in their lives that there are a several hundred others who have ‘quietly without fanfare’ (you really said that quite well) experienced profound changes and are just doing their best to love God, love people, “do more good and less harm”, and ongoingly practice (because it is a practice, not a performance) in submitting themselves as in “Not my will, but Thy will be done”.

    I also believe this, Piano Man. I labored for years about coming out of the ex-gay (I am using the term until something better comes along) closet. I think those of us who have accepted whatever change has come or will come are more plentitful than the other side wants to presume. Many (on both sides) just want to be left alone, and they are entitled to it.

    This is where science comes in and mucks it up. Cries for proof and data and numbers are misplaced, in this instance. Still, we on the ex-gay side must be cautious in how we attempt to represent our numbers. We have no way of really knowing. But common sense is on our side, I think.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Ann said:

    Thanks for your response to my dilemma. I guess when I see exclusion of any kind, I think of how Jesus taught and that he did not require that anyone come from a particular religious background. He taught in parables so people from all backgrounds and experiences could understand. He was humble and simple and loving and kind and asked us to be the same. When I observe or experience people representing Christianity by talking over people and using language only a learned Christian would know, they seem insincere and their message is lost. I often think of the foster children I have been involved with over many years. They live at large residential facilities and have no clue about religion. Some of them have been involved in same gender relationships. Don’t they deserve the same kind of hope that an established Christian has? Would you welcome them into your support group if they made a decision to learn another perspective about intimate relationships? Would you have the patience to teach them? If, by God’s grace, “the least of these” comes to any of us, isn’t it our responsibility to accept them as Jesus did?

    Good questions, Ann. We Christians do have to be careful at how we come across to outsiders. The book unChristian is a slightly depressing read for us as it points out the degree to which we are perceived as haters or judgmental, especially of the gay community. It is interesting, however, that the psychology community also comes across as on a higher plane and sometimes looking down their noses at the rest of us. Would you agree?

    We should always be ready to welcome “the least of these” into our midst with open arms. Yes, we are to love them as Jesus loves us all. In the Christian vernacular, that means all are unworthy but for the saving grace of Jesus Christ, whose atonement put the fallen human race back on the right footing before a holy God. We are, then, justified and blameless before Him (perhaps a difficult doctrine for the outsider to grasp as self-condemning guilt is so pervasive among us), but still responsible for receiving the gift of salvation and all that entails as God wants us to freely come to Him and not be mere puppets on a string.

    I am learning to exercise more patience than I may have previously thought I could have in my weekly SSA women’s group. The needs are great, but I have come to love these women with more of a Christ-like love that accepts them where they are, without reservation. I love them enough to try to help them not stay where they are, as Christ has done for me, however. They are there strictly by choice, and they have voiced their desires to seek personal and spiritual growth, and the hope of whatever change that leads them to.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    I’m reading Alan’s new book now. I’m thinking of going back and counting how many times he mentions his wife. He doesn’t promise you can have one too, but he says he “wouldn’t trade his life now with his wife and kids for anything the gay community can offer.”

    It certainly sounded like those were the two options one could choose between.

    Not quite, Timothy. Read the whole book and you’ll get the whole picture. It is fair for Alan to delight in his life, which includes a loving wife and children. He is blessed in that regard, but does not promise it or attempt, as I read his book, to make others feel less whole if that is not their path. It is a deep desire in the hearts of many who are seeking to leave homosexuality, however, because we were created for relationship, first with God and then with each other. Alan knows this.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Wow, Timothy. I totally agree with your 6:11 p.m. comment from last night.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Ye olde squelcher of hope speaketh.

    Debbie said:

    This is where science comes in and mucks it up. Cries for proof and data and numbers are misplaced, in this instance. Still, we on the ex-gay side must be cautious in how we attempt to represent our numbers. We have no way of really knowing. But common sense is on our side, I think.

    Christians should have nothing to fear from inquiry. If truth is really on our side then we should be leading the way to investigate with a skeptical mind. Such a mind is encouraged when the people making the claims are gay advocates who say, change is not possible or people are born gay. However, when they ask for our proof, we can’t say data are not relevant. I like your caution on the PR aspect but disagree that the scientific mindset is misplaced.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Michael said

    I have no desire to demean them, ridicule them, define them or take away their hope. I pray God will bless them — and that He will forgive me if I have hurt them, discounted their experience or shown them disrespect.

    This is statement I meant. I think the 4 statements are pretty good but Exodus is a referral network and not a monolithic organization. Many stances mark their member organizations and some of those statements would be accurate for some and not others.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    I like your caution on the PR aspect but disagree that the scientific mindset is misplaced.

    Thanks, Warren, but I am still very skeptical of how one can get accurate data here when an unknown and possibly substantial population are going to choose to stay hidden. We are probably going to disagree somewhat on this unless you can make me smarter on surveying techniques.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    I feel a need to point something out. When I first came into this blog community, I was of the opinion that Warren had abandoned some of his previous stances and was leaning dangerously to the left ideologically. So, I openly challenged him, and was not always nice about it. I subsequently sought his forgiveness as I became more open to what I believed he was really saying and attempting to accomplish. I appreciate him very much, but I also know we can still disagree on some finer points civilly without damaging a growing comradeship. Thanks, Warren. :)

  • Ann

    In the Christian vernacular, that means all are unworthy but for the saving grace of Jesus Christ, whose atonement put the fallen human race back on the right footing before a holy God. We are, then, justified and blameless before Him (perhaps a difficult doctrine for the outsider to grasp as self-condemning guilt is so pervasive among us), but still responsible for receiving the gift of salvation and all that entails as God wants us to freely come to Him and not be mere puppets on a string.

    Debbie,

    I’m not sure what to say or ask about this. If you said this to someone who was not well versed in the Christian vernacular, do you think they would understand it or feel like you were talking over them or in a language that only certain people have the privilege to understand? I felt no connection and also realize I am perhaps asking for something that is unrealistic. I also think I am perhaps I am alone in my thinking here on this blog about this. I know what is deep in my heart, however, I see too many that are either lost or trying to navigate their way through something that should really be simple for them to understand.

  • Eddy

    Ann–

    Well put.

    Debbie–

    “Unworthy”–of what?

    “atonement”–doesn’t translate to the non-Christian and barely understood by a lot of Christians.

    “fallen human race”–where did they fall from? where have they landed? what are the ramifications of being ‘fallen’?

    “right footing”–probably communicates but when mixed in with the other stuff probably causes a glazed look.

    “justified”–common usage almost equates with ‘rationalize’…”please justify yourself, young man!”…Christian sense not clear.

    “gift of salvation”–probably clear but wouldn’t hurt from elaboration…especially since their are differing concepts of salvation (for example, can you lose it once you’ve had it? A frequent blogger here has been confronted both with “you’re no longer saved” and “you were never saved to begin with”. (“saved” is that experience that leads to the condition of ‘salvation’. For most, it means, not just acknowledging that Christ exists but the realization that you, personally, have sinned and therefore aren’t worthy of Heaven and the act of asking Him to live inside of you on a permanent basis.)

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Ann, we are to have childlike faith in coming to Christ or to the Word of God (the Bible), according to Jesus, himself. I guess I’d have to ask, do you read the Bible at all? How much exposure have you had to Christian teaching or preaching? If your answers are no and very little (maybe they aren’t), then there is little upon which to base common ground in speaking of spiritual things except abject human need, which we all understand.

    I am sensitive to your questions, and to the reservations of all those who do not feel a part of the church-going or Christian community. I realize there are some visiting this blog who are not Christians, but it seems most are (?). So we tend to speak a common spiritual language. Thanks for pointing out that we need to be aware of those who are not fully attuned to what we know or have experienced in our faith.

    Feel free to ask anything anytime, of me, at least. It’s Warren’s blog, of course. I do not wish to be a dominant voice here, and yet I feel I have been lately. I am sensing a Spirit-nudge (a word from God) to back off a bit. I tend to forget sometimes I have a blog of my own to keep running. It’s not quite like Warren’s. I am unapologetically passionate about the subject matter, needless to say. :)

    And, I enjoy people from all walks of life. Meaningful conversation is one of life’s most rewarding pleasures.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Eddy, I didn’t see your comment until after responding to Ann’s. LOL. I stand guilty of the same esoteric speech I pointed out in Warren’s comments yesterday. Mea culpa. I have presumed a level of knowledge that is not common here, apparently. No one but Ann has spoken up about it, but there could be others scratching their heads. Forgive me, if that is so. Perhaps I am not the best one to provide the proper level of Christian witness to the outsiders here. I am more of an apologist, I guess. If someone is sincerely seeking, we should determine the best way of handing that, i.e., where to send them for clear, sound, beginning teaching.

  • Ann

    we are to have childlike faith in coming to Christ or to the Word of God (the Bible), according to Jesus, himself. I guess I’d have to ask, do you read the Bible at all? How much exposure have you had to Christian teaching or preaching? If your answers are no and very little (maybe they aren’t), then there is little upon which to base common ground in speaking of spiritual things except abject human need, which we all understand

    Thanks Debbie – my question and concern is for others, not myself. I appreciate your responses, however, see that they validate my concern. If one answers “no” to the questions you pose above, then according to you, “there is little upon which to base common ground in speaking of spiritual things except abject human need”. My heart hurts to think that you would not be able to speak of spiritual things to another just because they are not as well versed or spiritually evolved as you are. If not you to share and teach, then who? If not now, then when? Do you think the people who listened to Jesus were all well versed in the Christian vernacular? He taught anyone who wanted to listen – he talked in simple language about faith and hope and redemption and peace and forgiveness and how to interact with each other and He taught us how to pray. People responded – big time – so much so that a new religion developed.

  • Ann

    Perhaps I am not the best one to provide the proper level of Christian witness to the outsiders here.

    Debbie,

    What is an outsider and what is Christian witness?

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Ann, I can’t seem to win for losing on this one, so I am going to stop talking. Anyone else who wishes to jump in certainly may. I don’t know what you are pushing for. We have to have some kind of common language to carry on a meaningful conversation. Sorry, I am talk-weary and tired of jumping through hoops. (“Praise God!” they all said.)

    I am going off to write now about guns and gritty stuff. My other hat. Oo-rah.

  • Ann

    Debbie,

    I appreciate the consideration you gave to my posts and appreciate the work you do with your web site and support group – I am sure many will be blessed because of them.

  • Eddy

    Ann–

    In this context “outsiders” is not Christianese…it simply refers to the folks you’ve been referring to who aren’t ‘insiders’ on the lingo.

    “Christian witness” is ‘how the Gospel/life of Christ is demonstrated in our own life and words as an example to others’.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    I also wouldn’t be surprised if for every twenty that are outspoken about changes in their lives that there are a several hundred others who have ‘quietly without fanfare’ (you really said that quite well) experienced profound changes and are just doing their best to love God, love people, “do more good and less harm”, and ongoingly practice (because it is a practice, not a performance) in submitting themselves as in “Not my will, but Thy will be done”.

    I very very much doubt that.

    Now, as Debbie cautioned, neither of us really know. There are no numbers to refer to.

    So I guess it isn’t surprising that you might imagine hundreds of ex-gays out there living their lives in peace. Your experiences suggest this.

    And it isn’t surprising that that I imagine the opposite. Having (and having had) many many many gay friends and acquaintances, I know of exactly one person from my personal life experience who persued ex-gay efforts. So my experiences suggest otherwise.

    We are both surrounded by individuals and life experiences that are likely to color our views so I don’t think either of us can make extrapolations or assumptions based solely on our own guesswork.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Debbie,

    Not quite, Timothy. Read the whole book and you’ll get the whole picture.

    I will read it in entirety. I’ll let you know what I think.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Re: spiritual-speak

    I think that this is a hinderance to the church, not only in speaking to Ann but in speaking to anyone. For the average fellow or gal wandering into many churches, they would just leave confused and not really sure what was said.

    There has been almost a secret code established which is designed to make sense only to the insider and to confound others. Yes words are similar, but they have meanings to Christians that are at times nearly the opposite of how they are used secularly. (We have gone round and round on how “change” is used in churches to mean something VERY different from its secular use)

    I wonder, at times, if this isn’t because we would not like it if scripture was read with a secular meaning to the words. I wonder if we would not at all like what it says. When scripture speaks of love or denial of self or forgiveness or even neighbor, if we took those words to mean what the world means by them then the church would have to go through a VERY drastic restructuring. Or so it seems to me at times.

    But perhaps that would be good for the church. After all, those churches that seem to be growing – regardless of theology – are those which are trying to rid themselves of the “churchiness” of church, drop the appearances, and let their words be clear.

  • Eddy

    Timothy–

    Would that be like the various ‘Rock’ churches? The one Carrie hails from and whose pastor endorsed Alan’s book? It’s my understanding that they are springing up all over and growing fast everywhere they do.

    Sometimes you come across like one of the most sensible people on the planet and then you make a nonsense statement such as this one:

    There has been almost a secret code established which is designed to make sense only to the insider and to confound others. Yes words are similar, but they have meanings to Christians that are at times nearly the opposite of how they are used secularly. (We have gone round and round on how “change” is used in churches to mean something VERY different from its secular use)

    This is a lame and unsupported suggestion on your part. It maligns the church and demands an example beyond ‘change’. Truth is the church uses ‘change’ much like they do in the secular world…I changed jobs, I changed my opinion, I changed a diaper, I changed a dollar (What???) Please support your allegation with something a bit more substantial, would you? I’d really like to see support for ‘the secret code’ whose intent or purpose is to communicate only to insiders and confuse others. Sounds interesting and is news to me.

    Maybe it’s as simple as being unfamiliar with a different culture…I kept looking around for Mary when my gay friend kept saying her name, puzzled over him talking to ‘girlfriend’ when there were only guys present, wondered who the ‘breeders’ were, likewise the ‘twinks’… Was their purposeful intent in this ‘secret code’ or was it merely the case of people who were so accustomed to speaking within their own culture?

    I’m all up for valid criticisms, this one, however, falls very very short.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Thanks, Eddy. I was just going to say, “Bull!” But you beat me to it. Clear enough, Timothy?

  • carole

    Okay,

    1.) So educate me, Eddy. I know who the “breeders” are, but who/what’s a “twink”? I have a guess, but will keep it to myself.

    2.) I was confused by Timothy’s words, but accepted what he said at face value since I’m not part of a religious community. I’d be interested in his response to you. I have been around a few very religious, fundamentalist Christians and have not noted a failure on their part to communicate to me, but I don’t know if that is what Timothy meant.

  • Eddy

    According to Wikipedia, ‘twink’ or ‘twinkie’ is a young or young looking gay man, usually of slender build and ‘hairless’. (LOL. I don’t think they mean bald or shaven ‘down there’…I’m guessing the key is ‘not hairy chested’.) They likened it to the term ‘chicken’ but I always had the impression that ‘chicken’ always referred to underage where ‘twink’ does not.

  • Michael Bussee

    I always had the impression that ‘chicken’ always referred to underage where ‘twink’ does not.

    That has always been my understanding of gay lingo. Chicken = Jail bate.

  • http://non-meta-stephen.com/blog non-metaphysical stephen

    Eddy,

    re: spiritual speak

    In grad school I read some scholarship that argued John’s Gospel does exactly Timothy mentions: giving common words new meanings that only make sense to insiders. It’s an example of anti-language that is common among society’s like John’s. See Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh, “Social Science Commentary on the Book of John” (Fortress 1998).

  • http://non-meta-stephen.com/blog non-metaphysical stephen

    my apologies for some grammatical errors in that last post — “does exactly what Timothy mentions” and “societies” — thought I had proofread it before I posted!

    By the way, the book is available on Google Books.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    “But for healthcare professionals to tell someone they don’t have the right to make an effort to bring their actions into harmony with their values is hubris,” Spitzer said.

    Was just going back and giving this post a more careful read. For the record, I do want to say that what Spitzer says above is an undeniable fact for the mental health professional. And Mark Yarhouse did a good job of explaining the “fiduciary” ramifications of the therapist framework in another thread here recently. That means the Throckmorton/Yarhouse SIT model is a legitimate “bridging” tool, IMO.

    Having said that, I also have to point out that those of us on the established ministry side operate within a slightly different set of parameters. I will ever only do what I do under the umbrella of an established church in a ministry overseen and closely supervised by a licensed, experienced, savvy Christian counselor, and with good liability coverage. Period. We need more programs like what we have at TRBC out there. And we need to be comfortably integrated with a solid professional Christian counseling network. We need solid professional counselors and therapists, from all walks. A secular psychiatrist helped to save my life many years ago. I have thanked him a number of times over the years. However, there are others I wouldn’t trust to provide therapy to my dog.

    We are quite blessed and unique at TRBC (Thomas Road Baptist Church) in Virginia. We have the AACC in our backyard and Tim Clinton in the same Sunday School class as Daryl Pitts, our counseling pastor (my class). We have Liberty University and its academic resources/personnel right there, as well. We even have the Covenant Marriage movement headquartered there. Phil and Cindy Waugh have personally counseled both our daughters and sons-on-law in preparation for marriage. How cool is that?

    Frankly, there have been legitimate complaints lodged against some inferior or naive ministry programs out there. When I speak of the tension between ministry and psychology, I do not mean to imply anything more than the necessity for checks and balances each can provide against the excesses of the other. I just wanted to make that clear. I come down more on the ministry side as that is my calling. We need both.

  • Eddy

    NM Stephen–

    While I agree that early Christianity charged words with new meaning, I maintain that it’s no different than any other culture that feels the need to set itself apart.

    Corporate pep talks give new meaning to ‘customer service’, to ‘savings’, to ‘value’. Why? To set themselves apart from the competition. So in a world where ‘customer service’ now means ‘phone bank attendant’, a company might develop a bigger picture of ‘who is the customer’ and ‘what service is’.

    So, it shouldn’t be any surprise at all that John did not invent new words to capture the essence of the Christian experience. He took existing words and infused them with new and enhanced meanings that the new Christians, due to their experience, understood.

    In any event, Timothy’s charge that the purpose was to confound still hasn’t been supported.

    Other than ‘born again’ can anyone cite any of these unique and confusing words that aren’t rooted in the Bible? For example, I know it’s regarded as Christianese when someone says “I bear witness to that, brother” but that seems like a natural extension of ‘witness’. It may sound confusing but–was it intended to confuse? Words like ‘atonement’, ‘justification’ and ‘sanctification’ also confuse many but they are clearly defined within the culture they belong to. –Much like some psychological terminology that occasionally gets used here that’s caused me to make an occasional side-trip to Wiki myself. Does the fact that I didn’t immediately grasp its meaning mean that it’s purpose was to confound? I don’t think so. Was it to demonstrate to me that I’m an outsider? Again, I don’t think so. I happen to be an outsider and I was confounded but those are simply natural by-products of not being immersed in that culture.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Eddy,

    Would that be like the various ‘Rock’ churches? The one Carrie hails from and whose pastor endorsed Alan’s book? It’s my understanding that they are springing up all over and growing fast everywhere they do.

    Yes. The Rock is huge in a large part due to McPherson’s use of direct and plain language that appeals to younger people.

    Sadly, I think he is using that growth in some ways to propogate evil (assuming that making up lies demonizing gay people in order to push a political agenda is evil).

    Maybe it’s as simple as being unfamiliar with a different culture.

    Yes. It is.

    Perhaps “secret code” was a poor selection of words. It certainly generated a lot of hostile response, which was not its intent.

    Perhaps it would be better to say that the church has created its own dialect, a dialect that those outside the faithful don’t speak. Which would be fine if the church had no desire to communicate or outreach to those outside the faithful flock.

    It’s easy to quickly dismiss this as an unfair or undue criticism. But before you write this off as unfair please consider that both Ann and carole have expressed some inability to clearly converse with some sections of Christendom. They are hardly alone.

    As to motivation for the redefinition of words, that’s just my opinion. But I’ve seen first hand the effort to make Scripture fit one’s “worldview” and how that can lead to retranslation of words not only from their original intent but even to retranslation from any reasonable resemblance to reality.

    Perhaps you haven’t.

    [p.s. Does anyone find it interesting - condisering some responses to my comments - that I'm the one regularly accused of being "rude" here? I don't mind, but I think it's ironic.]

  • Eddy

    No, I don’t see the irony. Perhaps you’d like to bring your posts that brought the criticisms along with the posts you feel were equally rude to the table and we can sort through the differences. But the ‘general accusation’ tactic when there’s no obvious post that you are referring to isn’t going to fly. At least, it shouldn’t.

    (I just did a brief review of this thread and can’t find the rudeness you allude to… bit I would like to suggest that rudeness begets rudeness. I’m generally blunt but courteous but have been provoked to rudeness when I feel someone is being rude to me and mine.) But, if we’re going to make the accusations, let’s consider that being polar opposites will likely bias our opinions, so let’s talk specific examples rather than impressions.

  • Eddy

    Timothy–

    Sorry for the double post…when I went downstairs after some juice, it suddenly occurred to me that in your posts where you are criticizing misleading or confusing word usage by Christians…you continually use the word ‘demonizing’.

    That word is rooted in religion but is rarely (if ever) used in religious circles…it seems to me you use it for its ‘added whammy’ when a word like ‘disparaging’ might fit just as well. In any event, it’s meaning might be unclear suggesting that these Christians are accusing gays of being motivated by demons. In the comments you cited by Carrie’s pastor earlier, I believe he cited some unsavory behaviors (promiscuity and pedophilia come to mind) but didn’t speak to their origins.

    Anyway, to lend credibility to your claims against confusing Christian lingo, you might want to drop ‘demonizing’ from your jargon.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Eddy,

    “Demonize” doesn’t mean “motivated by demons”. Demonizing is a tactic that is used to take the issue away from its merits and instead dehumanize your “opponent”. It’s a common tactic in war. The purpose is to turn the opponent from a human being into a vile monster with whom you cannot find empathy.

    When some gays say that conservatives are Nazis, that is demonizing. It is making the conservatives so evil that anything they say is dismissed as being associated with evil.

    So too is it demonizing when conservatives say things like, “Pedophilia has even been called central to the gay lifestyle.” The purpose is to make gay people appear so vile that there can be given no consideration to their complaints.

    In fact, McPherson is a classic example. Not only did he seek to equate gay people and pedophiles, but he made outrageous claims about disease, accused gays of trying to make preaching about homosexuality illegal, denied the existance of monogamous loving relationships, created fictitious victims of gay people, and said that any woes that gay people experience are due to God’s judgment.

    Well, surely if gay people are nothing but disease ridden, God hating, religious liberty opposing, promiscuous pedophiles whom God judges harshly, then they aren’t people like you and me. We certainly don’t have to think of them as human or treat them like we would want to be treated.

    As you see, this is quite different from disparaging.

    By the way, Eddy, are you troubled at all by the words of the Golden Boy of the Exodus Church Network?

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    By the way, Eddy, you weren’t the one I was thinking of when I made my comment about rudeness.

  • Eddy

    I didn’t think so. I believe Karen apologized for her rudeness and Warren even interjected a comment about him having the only authority to request someone to leave. I do have one person in mind who fires a little snark your way…falls under the radar though since the comments are usually quite brief…sometimes not even picked up by the casual readers. Yours become magnified by your almost poetic sarcasm. You really do know how to set it up to make it sting just a little bit more. But then it’s also more visible. Just my opinion.

    In my gay heyday, I was nicknamed ‘Queen of the Bitch’. There’s still an appreciation in me for an excellent zinger and, you can be assured that a number of zingers that cross my mind, never reach the blogpage. (If they’re really really good, I have some email friends I can send them to. Gets a little tedious though since I have to explain the whole setup and situation that led to my inspired comment.)

  • Eddy

    Timothy–

    Some of what he says is troubling. Unfortunately, the truth is we simply don’t know. Folks on both sides pick up statistics that fit their agendas. (And, yes, it does appear that he even made up a thing or two…like the bumper sticker thing…still checking.)

    Phrases like ‘The Golden Boy’ are what get you into hot water. I never heard of the man til you brought him up. Yes, he spoke at an Exodus conference. Exodus does that. They get a recommendation for a pastor/preacher to do their evening program.’s Doesn’t imply an endorsement of any kind. Yes, Alan had him do the blurb for his book. Still ‘Golden Boy’ is an overstatement. We don’t even know if that was Alan’s doing, Exodus’ doing or the publisher’s doing. Anyway, it only detracts from the conversation. IMHO. It’s simply enough, in a respectful conversation, to refer to him as the pastor of one of Exodus’ referral churches. For emphasis, okay to add that he did the blurb for Alan’s book. (If you do know that he does have special, favored ‘Golden Boy’ status, please advise. LOL. You do have an amazing ability to find stuff via the internet.)

    I did find it ironic though that you published and dismissed his concerns about the likelihood of gays in their 20′s contracting AIDS and then some more words on promiscuity…The irony was that you published this shortly after Michael cited that he had 3 partners die of AIDS and 3 others who were unfaithful.

    I honestly don’t know the statistics. I doubt that reliable ones are hard to come by but I’m still reeling that a sincere and committed, bible-reading, bible-studying, church-attending, choir singing, intelligent gay man had all that happen. I don’t doubt that it did. I’m not being sarcastic about the sincerity of Michael’s faith. I’m reeling because I’d presume that a gay Christian given to committed relationships wouldn’t be personally exposed to AIDS or promiscuity as often as the general gay population.

  • http://non-meta-stephen.com/blog non-metaphysical stephen

    Eddy,

    When we look at the divorce rate for heterosexual Christians–and I assume the same for alcoholism and drug use and for white collar crimes committed by professing Christians–it seems to me that infidelity among gay Christians isn’t anything special. Straight Christians do un-Christian things all the time. Why would you expect gay Christians to escape these problems?

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Eddy,

    Some of what he says is troubling. Unfortunately, the truth is we simply don’t know. Folks on both sides pick up statistics that fit their agendas. (And, yes, it does appear that he even made up a thing or two…like the bumper sticker thing…still checking.)

    Wrong.

    Sorry, but what he claimed isn’t opinion. It isn’t “folks on both sides”. It isn’t troubling. It’s lies.

    C’mon, you’re a smart guy. You have access to facts. None of that stuff is true.

    And if you don’t like “Golden Boy”, how about “the pastor of the largest church in Exodus’ referral network who spoke at Exodus conferences and who is quoted as an endorsement of Alan’s book”. Is that better? Do you want me to pretend that he’s just some random guy? Should we take a look at Jim Garlow or any of the others in the network?

    I honestly don’t know the statistics.

    I do. They aren’t hard to come by.

    Since 1996 and the avent of pretease inhibitors, the death rate from HIV infection has plunged. Currently most HIV positive men will live lives nearly as long as those uninfected. This quote about dead or AIDS by 30 is a flat, unbased, hate driven, uncaring lie.

    The current rates for HIV infection of gay men is about 13%. In some cities with larger African American populations they skew higher (e.g. Chicago has about 17%) because this demographic is hit hardest. Pick up the paper. That stat was right there in a headline in the Chicago Tribune this week.

    So you can defend the blatant bigotry of Miles McPherson if you want. That doesn’t make it any less evil.

    And you can pretend that Michael’s life experiences somehow suggest that gay folk are even more exposed to AIDS or promiscuity than he.

    Frankly, Eddy, I am so angry right now that I’m shaking.

    I’m angry because you know, you genuinely know, that McPherson is lying. You know his quotes are bogus. You aren’t stupid. You know what he’s doing. You know that he is deliberately demonizing gay people.

    And you are acting like it’s ok.

    This is unfathomable to me. I regularly defend Christians and other conservatives. I say, “no, they aren’t haters, they just believe what they’ve been told.” I say, “just show the facts, they’ll come around. They don’t really hate you.”

    I certainly considered you one of those who weren’t motivated by hatred.

    So I cannot understand the motivation behind defending obvious lies that are intended to do nothing other than demean and demonize. You are challenging my perspective.

    I’m going to disengage for a while. This one just blew me away. It feels like I went to take a sip of water and it was acid instead.

  • Eddy

    No point in responding to Timothy since he’s disengaged again.

    I’m just always baffled how he’s been gifted to know the motives behind a man’s words. I’ve been told I have ‘the gift of discernment’ and even I don’t judge anyone with the certainty and conviction that Timothy does.

    So I cannot understand the motivation behind defending obvious lies that are intended to do nothing other than demean and demonize

    .

    Here, for example, I entertained the possibility that there were other intents behind some of the man’s words yet Timothy knows that his intent was ‘to do nothing other than demean and demonize’.

    I will let it rest at that.

  • Michael Bussee

    I’m not being sarcastic about the sincerity of Michael’s faith. I’m reeling because I’d presume that a gay Christian given to committed relationships wouldn’t be personally exposed to AIDS or promiscuity as often as the general gay population.

    Thanks, Eddy. I don’t believe your are being sarcastic. I know your heart is in the right place. God knows my faith is sincere. I pray that Christians (gay and straight) who are given to committed relationships will be comforted by the Holy Spirit, as I have been all these years, should they experience the pain of death — or infidelity — of their spouses.

  • Eddy

    NM Steven–

    yeah, when we look at those things, it sure seems like what you believe is true. However, when we look a little closer, a little deeper, I honestly believe that the level of promiscuity is higher in the gay world…well, the male gay world at least.

    I’m not even saying that gays have more promiscuous desires than heteros but rather that they act on them more often. There are some natural roadblocks in the hetero world between desire and action. A guy sees a babe in the bar and wants her in bed. He may or may not go there. If he deems her to be ‘loose’ or ‘a slut’, then he might not even think twice. It’ll either be a turn off or a turn on. But, if she’s got anything at all going for her, then he knows that a ‘one night stand’ is rarely that. He’ll have social obligations afterwards. Treat her nice in the morning. Call her to say he ‘had a good time’. Reassure her that it meant something to him too. Blah, blah, blah. So often, it isn’t worth all that and he doesn’t follow through.

    In the gay world, it’s different…especially among men. Regarding each other as ‘social equals’, neither one feels any particular responsibility for the follow-up stuff. It’s just sex, it’s just fun, no need to get emotionally tangled. So people tend to ‘get lucky’ more often.

    The ultra-promiscuous hetero is still limited in where and how he can score some sex without cost; the ultra-promiscuous homosexual can usually find a bathroom, a park, or a bookstore where he could find one or more partners depending on how much time he has to spend.

    Unfortunately, it’s not something drawing a lot of research dollars…and is an area where many are secretive…but I believe that those two circumstances alone demonstrate the likelihood that there is a major difference in the actual occurrence of promiscuous behavior. I could be wrong but it does seem logical to me.

    We also need more studies on ‘monogamy’ and what it means to heterosexuals and homosexuals. Both use the word, but gays seem to experience more ‘serial monogamy’ than heteros…being faithful to one partner but that relationship lasts for several months rather than the typical several years of a broken marriage. Again, variables make it difficult to study. Straights have that marriage thing whereas the gays announce ‘I have a partner’. So, when a marriage ends, you notice it and it translates as a bad thing…a tragedy. When a gay partnering (that isn’t a marriage) ends, it’s also a bad thing but there tends to be a focus on ‘but, gee, look how long it lasted.’ (The bracketed ‘that isn’t a marriage’ is intended to focus on partnerships that weren’t marriages. In cases where the gay couple did get married or have a committment ceremony, I think the afterthoughts don’t usually go to the celebration of how long it lasted…the tragedy of the broken relationship stays as the focus.)

    And I could be wrong. This seems to be the case from what I’ve observed…but we all know that I do have my bias…and the research simply isn’t there.

  • Eddy

    Thanks, Michael.

    We actually experienced within a few of the Exodus ministries situations where guys would ‘join the program’ with the purpose of finding a Christian partner with minimal sexual experience…thinking that the odds would be in their favor…the guy wouldn’t be a cheat and he wouldn’t have AIDS. (Naturally, they wouldn’t declare their intent up front…sometimes we were able to weed them out; sometimes they succeeded in luring someone away.

    One curious fact that struck me was that IF an ex-gay were to fall sexually, the odds were that it would be under unseemly circumstances. Not being given to actually ‘planning’ to have sex…having a conscience that prohibited him from trying to have a committed relationship…IF he fell (sorry, Christianese for ‘had sex’), it would likely be in a ‘furtive’, unseemly scenario (bookstore, park, truckstop) and he might not have a condom handy. So, in many instances, although they had sex far less frequently than others, the chances that it was ‘at risk’ sex were far greater.

  • Michael Bussee

    BTW: Did not mean I was leaving Throck. Just that I won’t criticize EXODUS any more — because it does not really help anyone. By now, I am sure everyone is sick of me repeating the same complaints. From now on, I will only contribute if I have something constructive to say — like God loves us anyway.

    Re EXODUS: “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” :)

    Goodnight and God bless.

  • http://non-meta-stephen.com/blog non-metaphysical stephen

    Thanks for the clarification Eddy. Your explanation makes sense. I’m not sure that gay men are in fact more promiscuous, but I agree that in many ways there are factors that make promiscuity easier for gay men. Obviously, before AIDS, there was nothing analogous to pregnancy to make men more cautious, so there may be biological reasons why gay men can behave more promiscuously than straight men.

    But a couple of other factors need to be addressed as well. For one, the gay liberation movement of the 1970s in many ways rejected monogamy as a repressive institution. Thus promiscuity became a political stance, as well as (presumably) a psychological stance that believed uninhibited sexual expression was healthier than the self-denial of monogamy. As a result, for many men, promiscuity became a habit, and we all know how hard habits are to break. But I want to point out that it wasn’t as simple as “gay men are sluts”–there were political and psychological factors that actively promoted promiscuity within gay culture.

    At the same time, for closeted men, promiscuity became a habit because they could not form stable, long-term relationships. Possibly many gay men stayed in the closet because they had heard the stereotype that gay men cannot be monogamous. But the closet itself leads to promiscuity, as the closeted gay man must seek out satisfaction in short-term (or one-time) encounters. Certainly this would be a factor for men in conservative religious traditions–in trying to repress their sexuality, it comes out in bursts and by necessity causes them to have more sexual partners than many straight men.

    I am reminded of Mel White’s claim that of his gay seminary colleagues, he is the only one who survived, seemingly because he was the only one who came out and found a partner. The others got married and died because the closet led them into unsafe behaviors.

    So, yes, it may be that gay men are in practice more promiscuous, but it is unclear that this is essential to being gay or simply the result of social constructions (among the pro-gay crowd) and/or social constrictions (among the anti-gay crowd).

    And obviously I am only speaking about men. Given the U-Haul stereotype for lesbians, I don’t want to make any claims about lesbian promiscuity.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Timothy – I went over and looked at the statements by McPherson.

    I hope Karen or any of the Exodus folks are reading here or at your blog. Seeing that in print should be a teachable moment for Rev. McPherson. Surely, it is to the advantage of Exodus to correct these false statements. As I have noted on this blog before, linking gays to pedophilia is not only intellectually dishonest it is harmful to EX-GAYS as well.

    It may not help, but I feel like saying I am sorry.

  • timothy Kincaid

    thank you, warren.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Timothy, I already mentioned I had been troubled by McPherson. The Carrie Prejean episode was not a total golden moment for him, either. Haven’t checked into Garlow’s public statements, but will do so. I have a good friend in his church, and she knows of my past struggles, though we have talked very little about it. Yes, all such men and women should be held accountable for their public views. That includes me, by the way. I’ve had some words tossed back at me that I had to eat at one time or another. I have mine with catsup. :)

    One of my missions is to speak out and keep these misguided folks on the straight and narrow, to the extent possible. I’ll take heat for it, but I don’t care. I think they may look at Warren with jaded eyes because he represents psychology, and there is a basic distrust of it within many conservative churches. I come from the ministry side of the house (with just enough basic knowledge of psychology to be dangerous – LOL), so I would hope it would be harder for them to discredit me. I am sure it will still be eye-opening when the stuff hits the fan after I go more public. I’ll find out who (more of) my friends and enemies are. So be it.

    FWIW, Andrew Marin has had a rough go of it lately. Catching it from all sides. It is to be expected.

    The high-wire act of balancing biblical truth (relative for you, I know) with compassion is not a mission I would wish on those I love. But in a spiritual sense, it’s not my choice, as I am compelled (as if held in a vise) to do it. Can’t turn back now.

    The above discussion between Eddy and Stephen on promiscuity, etc., is an interesting one, by the way. Some very good points made. I can briefly offer the female perspective re: the high degree of emotional entanglement lesbian relationships entail. Speaks to some basic differences in male and female sexual/emotional wiring.

    Alan Chambers writes about emotional dependency from a male perspective some in his book, which I found interesting. Apparently it happens more frequently among gay men than I would have thought. I often wondered how skewed the accepted numbers of men experiencing depression have been. I somehow believed there were more than we were being led to accept. I think men are more emotional than we or they want to admit.

    Random food for thought.

  • Michael Bussee

    I’m reeling because I’d presume that a gay Christian given to committed relationships wouldn’t be personally exposed to AIDS or promiscuity as often as the general gay population.

    Eddy: I know you did not mean to imply that if I were a true Christian and/or really given to committed relationships that I would not have experienced the death of three partners to AIDS — or the pain of finding out that the other guy in the relationship was not as “given to committed relationships” as I was.

  • Eddy

    Eddy: I know you did not mean to imply that if I were a true Christian and/or really given to committed relationships that I would not have experienced the death of three partners to AIDS — or the pain of finding out that the other guy in the relationship was not as “given to committed relationships” as I was.

    Good. Because it’s true. I’m looking at ‘the facts as we know them’…trying very hard not to read into them…trying very hard not to have my questions or statements read into. My mind keeps going to those who think ‘if only I find a Christian partner’ or ‘if only I can find a committed relationship’ then I’ll avoid the pitfalls of AIDS or promiscuity…but it seems no one is immune.

    Unfair as it may seem, I regard you as the poster-child of the ex-ex-gays. So, when I see something happen to you, my tendency is to extend that possibility to all the other ex-exes out there now and in the future.

    Of course, my bias is that I believe that both AIDS and promiscuity are more frequent in the gay community than in the hetero world. NM Steven’s statement about the ‘rejection of monogamy’ in the gay liberation movement was new to me but I have noted for years that there appears to be a different standard of sexual morality and a different definition of monogamy than in the hetero world.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Debbie,

    Thank you for your comments on McPherson.

  • http://non-meta-stephen.com/blog non-metaphysical stephen

    Eddy,

    Steven’s [sic] statement about the ‘rejection of monogamy’ in the gay liberation movement was new to me but I have noted for years that there appears to be a different standard of sexual morality and a different definition of monogamy than in the hetero world.

    The Gay Lib movement has really changed direction over the past few decades. I’ve heard older gay men talk about how in the 1970s, issues like gay marriage, gay adoption and gays in the military were exactly the opposite of what they were fighting for. They saw the movement as a chance to create a different form of society, one which they saw as being healthier, not governed by conformity and assimilation. They didn’t want marriage, they didn’t want to raise families, and they didn’t want to take part in U.S. military actions.

    This platform, interestingly enough, was not trying to destroy Western civilization but to correct it by removing the unhealthy constraints of society and allowing people to live in freedom. Marriage, family life and patriotism were seen as repressive, not only by gays, but by many hetero men and women.

    These ideas weren’t new, but had been gaining ground through the 1960s and were loosely connected to the implications of Freudian thought–so the ideas claimed some intellectual backing from psychological theory.

    I just want it to be clear that the rejection of monogamy has not always been simply an excuse for hedonism, although I’m sure many men and women have used it for that purpose. (Straight men have never needed a theoretical reason to have affairs.) Instead, it has been argued that monogamy is unhealthy and even oppressive. (Besides, can you have monogamy if you can’t be married?)

    Of course, the practice of non-monogamy creates habits within the gay community, practices that get passed down even when the philosophical underpinnings for the practice do not.

    What’s interesting is to examine why gay marriage, gay adoption and other such issues have become so important to the gay community. I wonder if the demographic of the out gay community has changed over time as gays and lesbians have been more accepted and received more protection–I wonder if the people who came out in the 1970s were a bit more radical (wanting to fight the system), whereas nowadays gay people see being gay as just a minor factor in their lives and are perfectly happy with the marriage-family tradition.

    I wonder if what we’re seeing is that the average gay man (I won’t try to speak for women) is by nature no more promiscuous than straight men, but that it’s taken a long time for pro-monogamy gays to be comfortable enough living openly to impact social science studies on the issue.

  • Eddy

    Timothy–

    It appears that you’re at least checking in….

    Frankly, Eddy, I am so angry right now that I’m shaking.

    I’m angry because you know, you genuinely know, that McPherson is lying. You know his quotes are bogus. You aren’t stupid. You know what he’s doing. You know that he is deliberately demonizing gay people.

    And you are acting like it’s ok.

    This is unfathomable to me. I regularly defend Christians and other conservatives. I say, “no, they aren’t haters, they just believe what they’ve been told.” I say, “just show the facts, they’ll come around. They don’t really hate you.”

    I certainly considered you one of those who weren’t motivated by hatred.

    So I cannot understand the motivation behind defending obvious lies that are intended to do nothing other than demean and demonize. You are challenging my perspective.

    1) If anything that I say on this blogsite gets you so angry that you shake, please assume immediately that you’ve read something wrong or read into my comments.

    2) I don’t believe in your single-minded accusations…that his intent was demonizing gay people. The quotes about AIDS and promiscuity seemed more motivated by an attempt to steer people away from very risky, potentially lethal behaviors.

    3) That’s why I wanted to separate them out from the pedophilia…to discuss other possible motivators for those words. You packed them in with pedophilia, however, and weren’t about to let them be separated from it.

    4) You yourself said later in the bit I quoted from you “no, they aren’t haters. They just believe what they’ve been told.” It was my guess that McPherson likely had someone feed him those statistics and he believed what he’d been told. I feel that Christians, in particular, are vulnerable statistics-wise. Too trusting–not realizing that the source of the statistics might have an agenda and that the statistics can’t be trusted.

    5) I have to admit that I absolutely detest your habit of spin. You are a master manipulator. Actually, this is actually not a bad trait for a pastor or a politician to have…you want to incite your people into certain behaviors or actions. (Hold onto that word ‘incite’…it’ll come up later.) I didn’t like how you dropped into this conversation ‘out of the blue’ with your comments re McPherson (not even giving us the courtesy of his name) that were actually your post at Box Turtle slightly revised (or was it the other way around). Anyway, you didn’t really tack it on as a response to anyone…it wasn’t really connected to what we’d been talking about…it certainly wasn’t connected to the topic. That ticked me off.

    Assuming the motives of others always ticks me off too. And you did it several times in that piece. We all claim to hate judges…I tend to be unilateral in my hatred of judges…I don’t like them on your side or mine.

    5) And you resorted to what I refer to as ‘flame speech’. Accused him of ‘demonizing gay people’ and of ‘hate speech’. I believe both phrases were hyperbolic. That’s my opinion. But, oh, here’s where that word ‘incite’ comes back into play. McPherson was/is a pastor. His words are designed to ‘incite’ behaviors. IF what he said was truly ‘hate speech’, it would have incited some nasty anti-gay behavior. Ahh, but it seems that you may have lifted those quotes out of a more rounded context…a sermon perhaps? Anyway, it would seem that there’s something in the context that didn’t allow for those words to inspire a hate response. I’m going to imagine a call for compassion and understanding.

    6) I was also puzzled why you’d bring a 5 year old quote into the conversation without first honestly checking to see if either his attitudes or scholarship had had an overhaul. Several times that I can recall, Exodus chose an influential pastor as their speaker who didn’t have a good record on ‘good attitudes towards gay people’. We saw a dynamic ministry and an evangelist’s heart and thought “they really need to see us up close and personal…they need to see how Jesus does see more than the sin when He sees a gay person…rather than try to explain all that needs to be conveyed in words, let’s have them see us and see what God has wrought.” We sent them home after a week at an annual conference with a changed heart.

    7) But you were single-minded, my friend. You were having a ‘bash party’…bashing McPherson as a means of bashing Alan Chambers book which of course is a means of bashing ex-gays and Exodus. I couldn’t find one word in what you said that suggested you were approachable…that possibly you were misreading or over reacting. You weren’t engaging in a discussion; you were simply dropping off a truckload of manure. Given the major strides and efforts that most of the rest of us had just come through to deal with each other more respectfully, your post felt particularly intrusive and confrontive.

    8) So you said you were puzzled about my possible motivations, I hope this has helped. I cited manipulation and have to let you know that I have a ‘manipulation’ senser that may be working on overdrive. The overdrive is now connected to a ‘patterned response’. If I sense that I’m being manipulated, my patterned response is to give anything but what I feel I’m being played for. I felt your post was playing for both ‘outrage’ and ‘grovelling’…especially the part re pedophilia. “Be outraged like I am” and “Be ashamed on his behalf.” That sensing rendered me incapable of going either route.

    9) I really have trouble putting your whole McPherson detour into any context other than that it’s sole purpose was to provoke judgement. As I said I do try to resist judging as much as possible but when I am called upon to judge, I do expect the ability to hear from both sides–to get as much as I can of the whole picture–before pronouncing. We didn’t have that here.

  • Michael Bussee

    Unfair as it may seem, I regard you as the poster-child of the ex-ex-gays. So, when I see something happen to you, my tendency is to extend that possibility to all the other ex-exes out there now and in the future.

    Eddy, please, try not to do that. Regarding me as a “poster child” or extending my experiences to to “all the other ex-exes out there now and in the future” would be a huge mistake — as it would be if presumed that one ex-gay’s life experiences should be extended”to all the other ex-gays out there now and in the future.”

    My story is entirely my own. I am not a poster child for anything. I Ilisted many of the hurts to show that it hasn’t all been bliss — as I thought you might be suggesting that I was doing. Fact is, there has been a lot of pain. Gays, ex-gays and straights, Christians and non-Christians have hurt me deeply over the years. And I have hurt people, too.

    But there has also been much joy. I have been greatly blessed but other gays, ex-gays and straights, Christians and non-Christians. In all of it, God has blessed me no matter what. These experiences have only deepened by faith in Him.

    Of course, my bias is that I believe that both AIDS and promiscuity are more frequent in the gay community than in the hetero world.

    I don’t think the facts would support that bias, but I may be wrong.

  • Michael Bussee

    It’s strange, but I have been experiencing a deep, deep sadness. I have realized how foolish it was of me to think that I could improve EXODUS — or that I knew what EXODUS should do.

    And I am also aware of how much bad feeling I have been spreading around — when I could have been talking about God’s love. . Such a sense of a waste of time. Just a waste. I am truly sorry.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Thank you for your comments on McPherson.

    One sentence out of a considerably longer comment I made, Timothy. I believe in being fair, and I know McPherson is somewhat of a lightning rod, especially because of his Prop. 8 campaign. I do think he needs some better advice (and he needed to give better advice to Carrie Prejean).

    Maybe he’s the kind of personality San Diego needs right now, considering the overt tactics gay activists there are using to move their agenda forward, even within city government. He is representative of many evangelicals. Really, it is America’s Finest city that has become more of the lightning rod. It was ground zero for the marriage battle. Since I called it home for a good chunk of my life (and it is where my biggest active struggle was in my past life), I do take a more-than-casual interest in what happens there.

    Most interesting place, San Diego. One one side, you’ve got an activist lesbian fire chief and on the other, one of the finest women Marine general officers ever to wear the uniform at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (she’s leaving soon for Quantico). Both were recognized in a particular issue of San Diego magazine a couple years ago. One is a friend of mine. We trained together many years ago in the Corps. She was probably the number one inspiration for all of us who made it through the first-ever combat-integrated officer candidate class at Quantico. There was exactly one dyke among us. We largely ignored her.

    You’ve got Andrew Marin doing it the gentle way in Chicago’s Boystown and James Hartline doing it the hell-fire and brimstone way in San Diego. Both get excoriated. Go figure.

    Then, there’s the gentle-spirited Christian lesbian daughter of my co-worker in ministry (he facilitates the ex-gay men’s group and I the women’s), who is one of the most delightful people I ever could hope to know. Whether she ever visits this blog or not, I don’t know. I think of her as my alter-ego. Michael is having epiphanies and is under heavy conviction now. But as Eddy said, you remain pretty much unmoved or unchanged, Timothy. Clearly, something is happening here that exceeds all our agendas.

    You want to take people down. Some of us want to build them up. You might try it sometime.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    RE: McPherson – Leaving aside all of the strategy and tactics, if what he says is false, it undermines anything else he does.

    I don’t care if the other side stretches the truth, it is not ok to do the same thing.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    RE: McPherson – Leaving aside all of the strategy and tactics, if what he says is false, it undermines anything else he does.

    I don’t care if the other side stretches the truth, it is not ok to do the same thing.

    I agree with your second statement, Warren. As for the first, who among us on either side of “the debate” is not likely to be misrepresenting some facts without knowing it? I have, you have, but neither of us has had underhanded motives, as far as I know.

    Timothy claims some Gnostic knowledge, but we really don’t know what McPherson knows and doesn’t know, where he is getting his information, and what his motives are other than to preserve traditional marriage and to preach the gospel. I think that’s what Eddy was trying to point out. I am critical of one or two things I know about McPherson. He is fair game as public persona, the same as you and I are. But I am not going to say that all he does is undermined by some erroneous statements unless or until I know more.

    The bigger question is what are we doing to get out of this box and take what needs to be said to the world? Or to the people who need to hear them. Any plans? I have some. Timothy did say, to his credit, he had contacted McPherson or his church. How he came across is another matter as we know how he tends to come across here.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    My first point is a general principle. When you make arguments that are false you are vulnerable to being set aside as a credible voice. Yes, we have all done it without knowing it. When it is pointed out to me, I retract and do so publicly.

    I have not contacted McPherson privately and will say no more until I do. However, I sincerely hope that someone from the Exodus leadership will do so. And I hope TImothy reports back that the church removes that sermon from its website.

  • Michael Bussee

    To Debbie:

    Michael is having epiphanies and is under heavy conviction now.

    Just want to make it clear that I have not changed my mind about EXODUS, about my Scriptural beliefs or about homosexuality. I have the same concerns I have always had. The heavy conviction is that I have been disrespectful to others — and that my complaining did no real good.

  • Eddy

    My bad! I went off on the ‘Golden Boy’ terminology and suggested that Miles McPherson was the featured speaker of the week at an annual Exodus conference. From what I gather, they’ve changed format and have a different speaker every night. Miles was their Wednesday evening speaker at one of the conferences rather than the featured speaker for an entire week.

    McPherson’s church is in the Exodus Church network…meaning if Exodus has been contacted by an individual in that area who is seeking help, besides sending them some helpful literature, they’ll recommend that church as a further source for counsel and community. McPherson himself is not the listed preferred contact.

    It would seem like a slight possibility that McPherson’s fame and public profile was the likely reason he was selected as an endorser of Alan’s book rather than any ‘Golden Boy’ status.

    I’ll trust that between Warren and Timothy we’ll get a follow up on McPherson’s untrue statements. Honest, guys, I did try searching it out but I’m not the best at internet searches. The best I could come up with was that McPherson also thought that Adam Lambert should have won this season on American Idol. I really need to learn how to refine my searches.

  • Michael Bussee

    Now that I have retired as EXODUS’s most vocal critic, I am open to suggestions as to how I might spend my spare time. Maybe some volunteer work with gay Christians? Write my book? Learn to play bridge?

    Hope Eddy will find someone new to argue with. It is sorta strange when it comes to a sudden stop…Very strong feelings of sadness and of time wasted… I don’t know what to do with myself…

    Pray for me.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    The pendulum will even out in a while, Michael. I AM praying for you. Godly sorrow is not a bad thing. It’s the other kind that gets you. But “joy comes in the morning.” :)

  • Michael Bussee

    Thanks.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Michael – I vote for a book; you have written a good bit of it right here :)

  • Ann

    Michael,

    Thank you for the awareness you raised – I hope the message of Exodus will be tempered now with integrity and they will continue to help and support many people. As far as what to do now? Take it one day at a time and keep your heart and mind open to how God will use you and what He has planned for you. Remember – To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

  • Michael Bussee

    Warren: Thanks. I think I may do that. And, if it ever gets published, I think people will be surprised at how non-confrontational it is. It is a story of God’s undying love in spite of whatever life hurls at us.

    What is will not be ia a critique of EXODUS — although I will have to include the pre and post EXODUS years to make the story make sense. I certainly do not want to make gays sound good and ex-gays bad — or to make my story seem “blissful”, glib or equal to straights.

    Ann: Thanks. Apart from helping to get EXODUS started, I realize I could not and have not shaped its message in any way. That’s what I have finally realized, with a deep sense of futility, lost time and sadness.

    EXODUS will do whatever it feels called by God to do. They should not listen to any of their critics. If EXODUS chooses to re-shape its message, it will be because they have listened to Him, not us.

  • Ann

    Apart from helping to get EXODUS started, I realize I could not and have not shaped its message in any way. That’s what I have finally realized, with a deep sense of futility, lost time and sadness.

    Michael,

    You might not realize it right now, however, I believe the awareness you have raised has not been in vain. Subtle shifts have already taken place and I hope they continue. Dr. Throckmorton said something in an earlier post to the effect of – real hope begins with realistic expectations – I like that. It is a beginning and I like that too – every new story starts with a beginning.

  • Michael Bussee

    Real hope begins with realistic expectations.

    I like that too.

  • Michael Bussee

    To Warren: What do you think people would want to know if I did write a book? Any ideas for a title?

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    My computer and my karaoke machine sit right next to each other. So many times I’ve been on my way to do some practice when I’d get distracted by the blog…so, for me, perhaps I’ll begin with another practice binge.

    BTW: If you don’t have a home karaoke machine, they’re pretty reasonable on ebay. You can usually pick one up at auction for around $50 bucks. Disc collections can be a lot of fun. One ebay seller always has ‘packages’ of about a dozen discs on auction. Savvy bidding could get you a dozen discs for around $30. Careful though, it’s addictive. Before I knew it, I had a collection of 3000 songs.

  • Michael Bussee

    Eddy: For three years after Gary died, I was a karaoke host every Friday and Saturday night at the “Frat House” — a gay bar In Garden Grove. I had the full DK set of discs, real nice Bose speakers with stands, mikes, amps, equalizer, CDG player, Sony monitor — the works.

    For two years running, I hosted a “karaoke-a-thon”. We raised over $5,000 each time for the AIDS walk. Straight and gay singers lended their talents. I sold the system — at a loss. Sure wish I still had it. Those were the days.

  • Michael Bussee

    I may go singing tonight. Gets pretty lonesome sometimes.

  • Mary

    Michael,

    Tell your story – it’s part of our story too and we all need to be heard.

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    I’ve got the solution. Join in on the “Berg V Obama Response due by December 1″ thread. Yes, that’s last December 1 and the thread simply will not die! :-)

    But, seriously, Warren does post a lot of topics that aren’t Exodus-related although many of them get turned into Exodus/ex-gay threads by virtue of detours. My point is that there’s still lots to talk about–to blog about here on the site.

    Arrrggh!!! You had DK!!! Still hunting for DK94-11…the only karaoke version of “Volare” that I like.

  • Michael Bussee

    I will try to find other posts and topics. I do enjoy blogging. I needed cash, so didn’t really mind selling the system, but I sure wish I had not sold all the DK discs!

  • http://pianomankugie.vox.com PianoManKugie

    To Timothy 7:28 pm on 7/29. I agree, my views are very much affected by my own experience. And I will agree that my experience is very limited. Thank you for your reply. I suppose that even if the U.S. Census were to attempt a survey, even it would not be complete or conclusive, due to however many folks chose not to respond etc. If there are only hundreds common to my experience and tens of thousands common to yours, that truly is OK. I’m not interested in any contest for numbers or percentages, we are all people, we all desire love and respect. I suspect human experiences, as unique and diverse as they are, in fact have more in common than not, it’s just the details that are different.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Michael, do you do any guest blogging elsewhere? I could see you contributing something meaningful at mine.

    FYI, just had a long, interesting talk with my daughter about Calvinism and reformed theology. She just took a summer intensive (she’s a college senior) on the book of Acts. Really loved it. She had a great professor.

    Ever thought about what God may have elected to do with you at this stage in life? I think you and I believe we are not necessarily our own — that the pull of grace IS irresistible. I repeat, I am praying about this, and for you.

    Apologies to Ann in advance for the theology-speak. There is lots to contemplate in the Scriptures.

  • Michael Bussee

    To Debbie:

    Michael, do you do any guest blogging elsewhere? I could see you contributing something meaningful at mine.

    Would be happy to. How?

    Ever thought about what God may have elected to do with you at this stage in life? I think you and I believe we are not necessarily our own — that the pull of grace IS irresistible.

    Actually, I think about this much of the time — and a lot more lately. I believe that there is something He wants me to do — just not sure what. I appreciate your prayers.

    I have to say that I thought your “Knock it off” comment to Ann was overly harsh. I have met Ann. She prayed with me and cried with me at the site of my best friend’s murder — at his memorial last year.

    I know her. She is a loving and gentle woman with a heart as big as Texas. She was not trying to be difficult — I think she was suggesting that closer attention to the language we use might be helpful. Only she did it more gently than I have done.

    I really think you owe her an apology. Hope that is what you meant in the post above.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    I was a bit exasperated when I made that comment to Ann, Michael. I only know her through her comments here and not as you do, obviously. It seemed a bit “out of character” for her to say what she said to me, as well. My apologies, Ann. Maybe we’d both had a long week.

  • Michael Bussee

    Thanks, Debbie. Good night.

  • http://non-meta-stephen.com/blog non-metaphysical stephen

    Michael,

    Tell your story – it’s part of our story too and we all need to be heard.

    I agree. More and more theologians are seeing the value of narrative and biography in understanding how God works in the world. God doesn’t give us propositional truths–God gives commands and God gives stories.

    You talk about wanting to build people up. I think you could tell your story from the perspective of how you’ve learned to love God and people better through your experiences. That could build people up through your story. It might also restrain your book from becoming an Exodus-bashing book. What did you gain from your time in the program? What did you learn? What did you learn after you left? etc….

  • Michael Bussee

    NMStephen:

    I think you could tell your story from the perspective of how you’ve learned to love God and people better through your experiences. That could build people up through your story. It might also restrain your book from becoming an Exodus-bashing book.

    Thanks. I really value that advice.. I will tell the truth about my EXODUS experience, but I will not bash. There is a much more interesting and more important story to be told.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Clearly, you have a story worthy of being told, Michael. God is still writing it, of course. For you and for me. Where our stories intersect is of particular interest to me.

    Getting back to my request of you to share something for my blog, I envision some value in a simple conversation between us. It might draw in others who have been reluctant to go there. I also have been talking with a young Christian lesbian whose parents I know.

    While some just can’t stomach listening to what either of you would have to say, i am of a different mind. I think you know where I stand, but I sense God urging us not to talk past one another in this. I am open to letting Him choose what to do with it. I only want to be in obedience to His call. Too often, we have “wonderful” human ideas about helping God be God. LOL. He laughs at that, for sure.

  • Michael Bussee

    Debbie: How do I find your blog?

  • Michael Bussee

    I found your blog and registered. I found this question there from one of your readers :

    For some reason in my men’s group none of us have any success yet in reducing our same-sex attractions and we have had no success in developing opposite-sex attractions.

    We have been meeting going on 4 years, we all love the Lord and have opened outselves up to Him years ago to be healed, but nothing has happened. We have forgiven those from our backgrounds that caused us pain. And still nothing. Why is it that in 1 year you opened yourself to God for healing and he healed you and we are having no success?

    And this response from another reader:

    Are you all real Christians? Have you really opened yourself up to God so that he may heal you? What about your prayer life. Do you get down on your knees and ask for Him to heal you?

    Seems like this person does not understand that “healing” does not necessarily mean that there will be a reduction or elimination of same-sex attractions and that “success” does not necessarily mean developing opposite-sex attractions — something we seemed to agree on here some time ago.

    He seems to be missing the important point that healing means a change in identity — not a switch from SSA to OSA. Sounds like nobody in his ex-gay group understands this — after four years of meeting together.

    I am also struck by the other reader’s answer — suggesting that these unchanged ex-gay men may not really be Christians, may not really have opened themselves to God, may not really be praying hard enough for God to change them, etc. This “not a real Christian, not submitting, not praying enough” theme seems pretty pervasive — also something we have discusseed here at length.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Michael, what you referenced above was in the old forum that is now in a read-only archive at TheFormers. It was replaced by the blog. That was an interesting discussion, but as I recall, the fellow who raised the question did not respond to my follow-up questions.

    Yeah, the whole “real Christian” thing is a thorny issue. I can see some people questioning whether salvation has really taken place in the lives of those who seem to be justifying what many accept as sin and a part of the old life that should be passing away with accepting Christ (not merely believing in some of the Bible as even the demons believe). Tough to discuss with folks you care about.

    One thing that Mel White and I could agree on when last we communicated several years ago was that God would have to be the one to sort out who was and wasn’t saved and who was and wasn’t misleading the vulnerable from both the gay and ex-gay sides.

  • Michael Bussee

    Debbie:

    I can see some people questioning whether salvation has really taken place in the lives of those who seem to be justifying what many accept as sin.

    I didn’t read it that way. It didn’t seem to me that the man was trying to justify sin — he just didn’t understand why he wasn’t losing his SSA and beoming OSA instead.

    It seemed that none of the men in his group really understood that either. They still seemed to be expecting a change in sexual orientation. How well was the leader of the group explaining the real goal of change?

    This is what makes me wonder how well the “holiness, not heterosexuality” message is being conveyed — not just to the general public, but even to those inside the program.

    And it was very sad to hear the “not a real Christian, not enough faith” response to what seemed to be his genuine discouragement about not changing. If this could be made very clear to participants — “do not expect to change from SSA to OSA”, there might be less disappointment and sense of failure.

    And others might not question the depth of the ex-gay’s faith in Jesus when the ex-gay remains SSA., not OSA.

  • Michael Bussee

    We have been meeting going on 4 years, we all love the Lord and have opened outselves up to Him years ago to be healed, but nothing has happened.

    He says they love the Lord and have opened themselves to Him. I don’t see any attempt to justify sin here. He wants to know why the same sex temptations have not lessened — and why they have not devloped any OSA.

  • Michael Bussee

    Is there anything in Scripture that suggests that any Christian will experience less tempation over time? Or that a person is somehow “not really saved”, is “not really open to God” or is acking in spiritual discipline and maturity if he does not?

    From my understanding of the Bible, it seems to me that we can improve our ability to resist temptation, but I don’t recall any passge that indicates temptation will decrease in frequency or intensity…

    These men don’t seem to be getting that message. They are expecting some lessening of SSA and some increase in OSA. Why isn’t that happening? And if that’s not the goal, why aren’t they understanding?

  • Michael Bussee

    Sorry. That should read: “… or is lacking in spiritual discipline and maturity if he does not?”

  • http://non-meta-stephen.com/blog non-metaphysical stephen

    This is what makes me wonder how well the “holiness, not heterosexuality” message is being conveyed — not just to the general public, but even to those inside the program.

    And it was very sad to hear the “not a real Christian, not enough faith” response to what seemed to be his genuine discouragement about not changing.

    I agree. I often test these kinds of comments by replacing them physical disabilities, which we are told time and again Jesus healed. We could call it a “holiness, not handicap” approach to inclusion and see how well it plays in today’s church.

    Is the deaf person in our congregation lacking faith because he hasn’t been healed? What about the woman with the deteriorating eyesight? Can Joni Eareckson Tada really be a Christian as long as she’s in that wheelchair? Wouldn’t she be healed if she had enough faith?

    Of course most churches don’t reject the disabled as having weak faith. In fact, many churches provide for their needs: wheelchair ramps, sign language interpreters, large-print hymnals, etc. Many of these churches will even accept the disabled as ministers–Joni has built a wonderful ministry out of her testimony as a quadriplegic. But how many of these same churches reject gay people whose lives are otherwise wonderful examples of Christ’s love?

    We never see Jesus make a gay person straight, but we see him heal plenty of people of their disabilities. Why then do we accept the calls to ministry of the disabled but not of gays and lesbians? This should not be!

  • Michael Bussee

    Before anyone thinks, “Oh, God, here Mike goes again!”, I want to clarify that I am not attacking EXODUS or ex-gays. I have promised not to do that — and I intend to keep that promise.

    But the questions raised by the man, above, were the same questions I had. Why weren’t the same-sex attractions diminishing? Why was there no increase in opposite-sex attractions?

    I think I had the mistaken idea that they would — over time. I think I conveyed this mistaken idea to the men I counseled. We believed. We hoped. We prayed. We surrendered. We forgave.

    We became discouraged. We tried harder. We read the BIble more. Went to church more. Prayed more. We became even more discouraged. We asked, “Why we weren’t changing?”

    We weren’t mad at God as though He “owed” it to us for our “works”. We wanted to know what was wrong with us. And we were asked, ” Well, did we really believe? Hope? Pray? Surrender? Forgive?

    Probably not enough. So we tried harder. No one said,

    “Quit expecting it. You may never lose the SSA and become straight. That is not what this is about. It may, it may not. Probably not — if you are a guy. We are talking about a different kind of healing. If you don’t reduce the SSA and increase the OSA, that is no indication of something wrong with you or wour faith.”

    I know that some think that such a “disclaimer” might throw a “wet blanket on hope” — but what happens to hope when the hope is misinformed or misplaced? Had we heard that “disclaimer” clearly, we might not have become discouraged. We might not have doubted our salvation — or God’s love for us. We might not have given up the faith and walked away from God.

    I think it was Warren who said:

    “Realistic expectations are the basis for real hope”.

  • Eddy

    I was intrigued by Debbie’s statement that the conversation ended there…her questions to the man went unanswered. It made me wonder whether both blog comments were ‘staged’. When you look at them, the first is probably the major premise of the ex-ex-gay position: We tried it and it didn’t work. The second is likely the loudest complaint from the ex-ex-gay position: They claimed that we didn’t have enough faith, that we didn’t try hard enough, etc. If they were part of a random mix, I wouldn’t be so suspicious but it appears that both comments surfaced rather closely…and they both illustrate ‘the cause’ so perfectly…that it makes me wonder if they were bogus. The fact that Debbie’s follow-up questions went unanswered seems to indicate something isn’t quite what it seemed. (i.e. if the guys question was as sincere as he made it sound, wouldn’t he have relished Debbie’s engagement…wouldn’t he have wanted to pursue the conversation further?)

    I can’t imagine any ex-gay ministry or group meeting assuming that ‘seeking forgiveness’ was the be all/end all. It sure is a big issue but certainly not the only one. The comment struck me as coming from an ‘outsider’ who had only a passing understanding of ex-gays. LOL. I may be dead wrong. But both comments struck me as ‘extremes’ and might have been introduced simply to thwart productive conversation.

    Michael,

    Totally off the subject. I got word tonight that the bar where my nephew’s wife works wants to introduce karaoke in the fall. I have a good ‘home machine’ and 3 corded mikes. The machine also came with audio and visual cords. I have a library of 3,000 songs. What else would I need to launch as a KJ? Machine has an excellent echo feature. Do I really need a mixing board? I’m hoping I can get by with just an auxiliary speaker or two and an extension cable to hook into their big screen TV. I do have song books printed up indexing my library by both artist and song title.

  • Michael Bussee

    I thought of that too, that it might have been “staged”. But it echoes so closely the real feelings and real disappointments of those of us who, in error, expected orientation change, not just a change in identity.

    And the response was so close to what we were told — “not real Christians, not enough, something wrong with you.”

    Maybe Debbie’s follow-up questions went unanswered because the man’s question went unanswered. No one said – “Because you were expecting the wrong change!!!…Where on earth did you get the idea that you would decrease the SSA and increase the OSA?…You may not ever develop OSA…That is not the healing we are talking about here…”

    And maybe he gave up because he got the “not real Christian, not enough faith” answer. I know many who gave up in despair for similar reasons. It’s not just ex-ex-gays with an agenda who felt these things.

    When you look at them, the first is probably the major premise of the ex-ex-gay position: We tried it and it didn’t work

    That may be a premise, a postition — an agenda point — for some, but I think we need to take it very seriously that some (I think many) really experienced this kind of despair becuase they were expecting the wrong thing – and then were told they didn’t want it badly enough when it didn’t happen.

  • Michael Bussee

    I am curious. What do you make of ex-ex-gays? Do you think they are just making excuses for their sin? Just a bunch of gay activists trying to make ex-gay programs look bad? Or did they really, sincerely, misunderstand — and therefore expect the wrong thing?

    And if they did misunderstand, is that entirely their fault — perhaps because they didn’t really want to understand? Or is it possible that they experienced profound disappointment because their ministries did not make it very clear that OSA was not the goal or measure of spiritual wholeness and healing?

    I get the feeling sometimes that you don’t think this last possibility holds much water…

  • Michael Bussee

    Just for the sake of discussion, how would you answer this if was not “bogus”? If it was the real deal? Suppose someone in your own ministry had asked it — in all humility and sincerity. How would you explain the lack of change to him? I am sure the question got asked a few times.

  • Jr

    Michael Bussee:

    You said

    “I don’t believe that all homosexual behavior is sin. “

    I follow this site occasionally, but I’m not familiar with anyone’s background or perspective. What kind of homosexual behavior do you consider not to be sinful?

  • Michael Bussee

    Jr: Sex that conforms to the two great commandments of Jesus is not sinful. It is a matter of the heart — not the specific behavior. That goes for straight sex and well as gay sex. At least, that is what I believe.

    Others believe that any sexual behavior outside of one man/one woman, married, heterosexual sex is sinful — with the possible exception of masturbation — which may or not be sinful depending upon whether or not one is “lusting” when one does it.

    If you can bring yourself to orgasm without fantasizing about anything, you may be OK with God — no more sinful than enjoying a good meal or interesting book. At least, that is how the exception has been explained to me.

  • Michael Bussee

    To Eddy on karaoke: I found that some sort of equalizer really helped, but I never had a real mixer — just bass and treble controls — which I adjusted contantly depending on song and singer. The echo is less necessary when the singer is good — but can make a weak singer sound great.

    At times, I thought it would be nice to have a more sophisticated mixer, but if the amp and speakers are good, you may not need one.. A small feedback speaker is nice so the singer can hear himself.

    Cordless mikes can be fun. Wish I had had a couple. Guard those books. They’re time consuming to assemble and expensive to print up. Use plastic page protectors — people spill things. Also, sadly, some people steal the books. I started with 20 and ended up with eight — and about $20 a pop. One or two would always come missing.

    I also found that request slips got to be expensive and time consuming to print and cut up. After awhile, I kept an index card for each song from my “regular” singers. That way, I just handed them their “stack” of cards when they came in and asked them to pick three or four. They liked that I remembered them and appreciated not having to look up their favorite songs each time.

    I am sure you know that the newer systems are all digital — thousands and thousands of songs indexed and controlled with a laptop computer. How cool is that? The computer can even add graphics to the screen — like “Up next, Eddy!”

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    I think it was Warren who said:

    “Realistic expectations are the basis for real hope”

    .

    And who gets to define “realistic”? Was it not Jesus who said, “With God all things are possible”?

    This latest side-eddy discussion — seems it somehow started because of me — brings to mind one of the most intriguing of the Gospel narratives, from Matthew 19. One frequently sees references to it where gay and ex-gay ideas are clashing. This is the chapter where Jesus, when asked by the Pharisees about divorce, refers back to the Genesis creation story about the God who “created them from the beginning … male and female.” He then speaks of the one-flesh concept of marriage. A bit further along, Jesus speaks about eunuchs, saying there are three kinds, concluding that description with, “He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.” How many times did Jesus say, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”?

    Later still in Matthew 19, Jesus is approached by the rich young ruler, whom he tells to sell all his possessions and follow him. Instead, the man “went away grieved” because he couldn’t fathom trading his considerable wealth on earth for “treasure in heaven.” Jesus then utters the famous line about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. His disciples question him farther. Here is where Jesus then says, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

    Is that hyperbole? Or realistic? The Sermon on the Mount, beginning back in Matthew 5, is clearly meant to be hyperbole in order to show that we cannot possibly keep such commandments — and “be perfect” in our limited human capacity. We must realize our utter depravity apart from God — our total inability to make it on our own — in order to even get to the threshold of possibility. That’s what being “poor in spirit” means.

    When I think of the “blessed” poor in spirit, I think these days a lot about those struggling with homosexuality. I think, then, about the “wealth” that is so hard to let go of, i.e., the earthly fulfillment of this kind of sexual completion rather than the heavenly treasure that comes through denial of self (selling our possessions, as it were) and seeking relationship with Christ in all its fullness, whether or not that leads to heterosexual marriage or being a “eunuch for the kingdom.” Alan Chambers gets that, as his latest book demonstrates.

    Apparently, relatively few who struggle are able to hear the truth Jesus was speaking in Matthew 19 and elsewhere. Jesus realized and said that would be the case. Yet, we want to make a false construct of that, pitting “realistic” science against “impossible” faith. Shame on us. We’ve missed it by a mile.

    Michael, as regards the “man” who posed the question about change in TheFormers forum, I know it is realistic for you to want to apply your own experience filter to that situation, whether he was real or not. Eddy pointed out what seemed pretty obvious to me — that he may have been a poser merely seeking to turn the debate. Who knows? I even gave him an opportunity, if he were reading, to come back and discuss the situation later on in another thread. He did not. Four years and “nothing” happening? Really? I don’t think so.

    I don’t think even you can say that nothing was happening in a spiritual sense with you during your earlier journey. Only you and God know what was going on inside. Have you stopped to really consider what your life story means, Michael? Was God speaking to you through your tragic series of losses over the years? Look at what is happening now. God is bringing you under conviction. What does that mean? It’s certainly not for me to say, but I can observe the effects of it, along with everyone else here. Are you still a prodigal in some sense? Am I? How much unrest is in either of our souls?

    What about the “God thing” that has unfolded here on this blog over the past couple months? Why was I compelled to come here? Why do I have such a heart connection to you? Is this mere coincidence? I don’t think so. Is it a point of intersection that can be explained by “realistic” science? Not at all. Only a divine appointment can explain it, to me.

    I’ve seen you on video, Michael. You have a presence about you that suggests to me God is not yet finished with you. What form this unfinished business will take is yet to be seen.

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    Thanks for the karaoke info. I hadn’t given any thought to a feedback speaker.

    Re your question about what I’d say to the (I believe) hypothetical situation that was raised on Debbie’s blogsite: Your question parallels the opening to my “Roots” book and is a major theme of “Understanding Freedom”.

    As I’ve said before here on the blog, every invidividual is unique and the components of ‘their homosexuality’ are also unique. As you’ve hinted, those who were less deeply entrenched in a gay identity, are more likely to to be able to embrace some form of heterosexuality…although, I suspect that their individual ‘change’ might not be so dramatic. Those who were deeply entrenched in a gay identity or within gay culture may not experience heterosexuality but should expect some pretty dramatic, sometimes visible changes. (Subtle–or not so subtle–changes in speech, walk and mannerisms…a new ‘conscience’…perhaps still attracted strongly to men but with an awareness of ‘what’s going on’ in that attraction…most experience at least some level of self-affirmation and confidence…)

    So, in short, if they say they haven’t ‘changed’, I suspect that they are looking through a filter that prevents them from seeing the many real changes that have already taken place and from hoping for more.

    Re that second quote. I believe it to also be a ‘poser’ seeking to thwart the debate. Yes, I realize that people have spoken that but I don’t think I’ve ever heard it expressed as the opening response. “Hello, I’m wondering why after forgiving people who hurt me and 4 years of seeking God, I still haven’t changed?” “Well, hello there total stranger, I’d like to begin by not offering one single word of hope and by judging you harshly. It’s what God has called me to do.” That’s why situationally I believe both were ‘posers’.

    Michael, I do believe that response happens…I also believe that response happens far more often than it should…but I’ve also watched this debate from the sidelines long enough to know the ‘pet phrases’…the ‘pet objections’. It was several years ago when I first went onto MySpace…there were gay support groups and ex-gay support groups. Although the ex-gay groups would say right up front on their intro page what they were about, ‘well-meaning gays’ felt it was their ‘duty and responsibility’ to ‘educate’ the ex-gays about these harsh realities. I laughingly called them “ex-gay objections 101″. Yes, they have validity but I’ve been answering to them for decades…funny thing, they like posing the objections but never seem to stick around for the answers. (This blogsite being a major exception and that being somewhat recent. In the past it seems, whenever we actually got to the ‘meat and potatoes’ of the ex-gay experience, some inane detour would crop up i.e. “I see where you’re going but I’ve got this burning question…what is identity anyway?” or someone would announce they were offended or needed a break and would leave the conversation.Note: not strictly ‘inane’ but inane because it’s something that comes up in 1 out of 5 discussions and didn’t need to be brought in at that particular moment as a ‘burning question’ that couldn’t be tabled while we continued discussing.)

  • concerned

    Debbie,

    What you write here is basically what the church has been saying all along. If marriage is not the path you are being called to then commitment to the Kingdom of God is. What exactly does that mean? Living your live in the clouds. Somehow I do not think that is what Christ was calling us to. I see many single people who are caught up in all kinds of behaviours except for service to others and the work of building a better world. To me this is such a terrible waste of precious time and treasure. Do you think Christ has called them to something more? Has the church reached out to try to understand their pain and struggle in an attempt to help them find the path to that Kingdom that we are all promised. In many ways I think not. However, do they find the right path by coming into the fold and saying this is the way you should be doing things and then I will work towards the Kingdom that has been promised. What ever happened to good old fashion obiedience?

    I also see many who are single who dedicate so much of their time to service to others and try hard to do what they can to build fellowship and support for those who are less fortunate than themselves. I myself am not single, I have a family who I must focus so much of my energy towards. I have to say I am sometimes envious of the freedom to be available to serve the Kingdom without other worldly commitments, but I did make a choice many years ago and I know I have not always lived up to that commitment as I should have. I am trying to change that one day at a time by continually turning to God for a deeper understanding. I realize that the way to understanding never comes from within it only comes from an open and honest relationship with others who are also on a path towards wholeness.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    What you write here is basically what the church has been saying all along. If marriage is not the path you are being called to then commitment to the Kingdom of God is. What exactly does that mean? Living your live in the clouds.

    Concerned, I am unclear on just what you are saying here. Can you elaborate a bit? Is the Church saying it right but not doing it right? If that’s what you are saying, I would agree in large part.

    Why do you think I go back to Scripture so frequently in my comments? It’s not the Church that is the gold standard, but the Word of God. We must continually go back to the source and wrestle before God (not with God) over the truth therein.

    Yes, those of us ministering in the Church, either as pastors or laypeople, do have a grave responsibility to get it right. Those on the outside looking in or trying to understand what we are about might do well to cut as a bit of slack now and then for our failings. But, we cannot cut oursleves any slack in one sense. We who are supposed to know the truth had better be applying it in our own lives and in our ministries. Not only had we better have the mind of Christ, but the heart of Christ. Then and only then can we see clearly to “remove the specks” from others’ eyes because we will have effectively taken the logs out of our own.

    No, Christ is not calling us to any kind of ascetic life “in the clouds.” He is calling us to dirty our hands laboring with him in his work here and now. He bears one end of the yoke while we bear the other.

  • Michael Bussee

    To Debbie:

    Have you stopped to really consider what your life story means, Michael?

    Yes, I think about that every day — every time I bog here — every time I pray. That is what the book I am writing is all about — finding meaning in my life.

    Was God speaking to you through your tragic series of losses over the years?

    Yes! He has been speaking to me all my life — in the joys and in the pain. If by that you mean, “Have you considered that your losses mean that you are off the path when it comes to homosexuality?” Yes, I have considered that.

    But I don’t think that is what the losses have been about. Eddy mentioned that the losses — and in particular the hurts caused by other gays — “scream” that gayness is broken. I think they point out that the world is broken — and that pain and cruelty can come from (and to) folks of any orientation

    I think all of the losses and hurts show that God has been very loving and gracious to me through all of them — the death of my parents, the deaths of friends, the experiences of betrayal, getting fired by homophobic bosses, the murder of my friend etc.

    Life is full of pain and loss. No one is immune. I suspect that you and Eddy see the pain as proof that homosexuality is wrong. I see them as proof of God’s care. Bad things happen to good people.

    Many faithful people experience great trials — and it does not necessarily mean that God is trying to convict them of their sin. Sometimes, He is just refining their faith.

    Look at what is happening now. God is bringing you under conviction

    .

    Yes he is. But not about my gayness. He is bringing me under conviction about my rudeness — and pointing out the absolute fultilty of trying to get EXODUS to change. I realized that EXODUS must do what EXODUS feels called to do — and that I have no power whatever to change it or refine its message.

  • Michael Bussee

    Why do you think I go back to Scripture so frequently in my comments? It’s not the Church that is the gold standard, but the Word of God.

    Debbie: I think of Jesus as the Word of God. I think of the Bible as Holy Scripture.

    Eddy, I am still wondering what you would say to the man if he were real. Would you tell him he was expecting the wrong thing?

  • Michael Bussee

    Oh, and you’re welcome about the karaoke stuff. Good luck with it. :)

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    I’d do what I’ve done and said that I’ve done time and time again on this blog. I’m not sure why you keep asking…do you expect the answer to change?

    First, I’d find out what they mean by ‘change’. This goes to both their personal expectations and also to what might have already been passed on to them. Second, we’d explore the realities of their definition and expectations and reassess their progress (or lack thereof) based on the new definition and expectations.

    Please, let’s not word wrangle about this. I have stated my own definition of change and my own expectations for change quite openly, that’s the perspective that would guide me through the two steps mentioned above. It would likely guide my questions…and it would guide any ‘leading to a conclusion’ that I might attempt.

    To some, it would be perceived as ‘less than hopeful’ but I disagree. Throwing off the yoke of self-condemnation and building a strong personal relationship with Christ that can stand up against any church-based condemnation…that’s very hopeful. The removal of the weight of condemnation and the substitution of a deeper experience of Christ is extremely positive.

  • Michael Bussee

    Here are the passages that have been “convicting me”:

    “Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you. And do not make God Holy Spirit sad; for the Spirit is God’s mark of ownership on you, a guarantee that the Day will come when God will set you free.”

    “Get rid of all bitterness, passion, and anger. No hateful feelings of any sort. Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ.” Eph. 4:29-32 (Good News For Modern Man)

    “He is swollen with pride and knows nothing. He has an unhealthy desire to argue and quarrel about words, and this brings on jealousy, disputes, insults, evil suspicions, and constant arguments from people…” I TIm. 6:4-5.

    God has been convicting me about my “unhealthy deisre to argue and quarrel about words.” And I ask His forgiveness — and the forgiveness of my brothers and sisters here.

  • concerned

    Debbie,

    I guess I missed one word in that sentence. I mean commitment to service to the Kingdom of God. Not that married people are not being called to this, my point is we are all being called to this whether married or single. Too often it seems that singleness implies a person has license to do what they want and a freedom to complete independence without consequence. That to me is a misguided belief that comes from our current focus of individuality above the common good. There is a balance in there somewhere that recognizes our individual needs, but also recognizes that part of what we need is a sense of belonging to the larger community.

  • Jr

    Michael Bussee ~ Aug 4, 2009 at 4:36 am

    Jr: Sex that conforms to the two great commandments of Jesus is not sinful. It is a matter of the heart — not the specific behavior. That goes for straight sex and well as gay sex. At least, that is what I believe.

    Others believe that any sexual behavior outside of one man/one woman, married, heterosexual sex is sinful — with the possible exception of masturbation — which may or not be sinful depending upon whether or not one is “lusting” when one does it.

    If you can bring yourself to orgasm without fantasizing about anything, you may be OK with God — no more sinful than enjoying a good meal or interesting book. At least, that is how the exception has been explained to me.

    What do you make of Bible verses such as 1 Cor. 6:9 and Romans 1 24:27 that show an unfavorable view of homosexuality?

    I know a lot of people are out there who want to reconcile their religious beliefs with their feelings. I may not wholeheartedly agree, but I can see why it is so important to them.

  • Michael Bussee

    Eddy: Thanks for this response. I suspected that is what you would do. Just wanted to make sure.

    Please, let’s not word wrangle about this. I have stated my own definition of change and my own expectations for change quite openly, that’s the perspective that would guide me through the two steps mentioned above. It would likely guide my questions…and it would guide any ‘leading to a conclusion’ that I might attempt.

    I think this is very wise, truthful and kind. That is what I feel about you. You would keep realistic hope alive.

    To some, it would be perceived as ‘less than hopeful’ but I disagree. Throwing off the yoke of self-condemnation and building a strong personal relationship with Christ that can stand up against any church-based condemnation…that’s very hopeful. The removal of the weight of condemnation and the substitution of a deeper experience of Christ is extremely positive.</blockquote>

    I completely agree. I promise. No wrangling. The two Biblical passages I quoted are still very much in my mind. Let me know when I stray from them, OK?

  • Michael Bussee

    To Jr:

    What do you make of Bible verses such as 1 Cor. 6:9 and Romans 1 24:27 that show an unfavorable view of homosexuality?

    We probably don’t have the time or space here to go into all of that, but I believe Paul was speaking of particular types of homosexual behavior that were prevalent in Rome and Corinth at that time — not all forms.

    I know a lot of people are out there who want to reconcile their religious beliefs with their feelings. I may not wholeheartedly agree, but I can see why it is so important to them.

    I can too.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Thank you, Concerned, for clarifying what you meant. I certainly am in agreement with what you said.

    Michael, I’m glad for where your rereading of those Scripture passages brought you to. We all need to be convicted all over again sometimes. Did you also read Ephesians 1-3? This is some of the most beautiful writing Paul ever did, in my humble opinion. There is a wealth of “stuff” in it that all believers would be well-served to read and meditate on often.

  • Michael Bussee

    Yes. My lover, Scott, and I do about an hour of Bible study each night before we sleep. We have about ten different translations. We often lay out several side-by-side and take turns reading the passages aloud.

    He recently obtained a Greek Orthodox study Bible — which is quite beautiful to read and sheds a different light on familiar passages .Over the past few days, we have re-read Genesis, Matthew and John — and almost all of Paul’s letters. Recently, we studied Hebrews.

    My first BIble was the New Testament from Good News For Modern Man. The man who led me to Christ gave it to me the night I said “yes” — my senior year in high school.

    I had never really read the Bible before. What a life-changing experience! It literally blew my mind. I took it home and read the whole thing before dawn. I still have it, missing its cover and very worn from use — but very well loved.

    I underlined furiously and wrote comments in the margin like “Wow!” and “Yes!” and “What???” — and even “I disagree!” I still do. :)

  • Michael Bussee

    It could have been,

    “Mike!!! You have an unhealthy desire to argue and quarrel about words, and this brings on jealousy, disputes, insults, evil suspicions, and constant arguments from people! Knock it off! You are making the Holy Spirit sad…” .

    That got me right between the eyes…

  • Michael Bussee

    Back to Debbie’s question for a moment — between the possible relationship between my sin and my suffering:

    Was God speaking to you through your tragic series of losses over the years?

    I have been thinking about this a lot — not just recently — but all my Christian life. Why is there suffering, death, loss, unkind treatment by others? Is it because we have sin in our life?

    Melodyland used to teach this. And for good reason: I acknowledge that when we stray from God’s will, we place oursleves in danger. But, tragedy, death, loss, betrayal happen to the faithful as well. And sometimes, “sinful folk” seem to escape suffering and recieve blessings — at least for now. Consider these passages:

    John 9: 1-3 — As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.”

    Matthew 5:45 — He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

    Read the 11th chapter of Hebrews — sometimes referred to as the “Faithful’s Hall of Fame”. All the wonders and miracles that happened to God’s faithful people! But be certain to read the last half of this chapter:

    Hebrews 11:35-39 (New International Version) — 35Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. 39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.

    In other words, even the Godly are not immune — and tragedy does not mean they were somehow off the path, in sin or lacking in faith.

  • Eddy

    Just a further observation on the ‘condemnation’ I spoke of in my last post. Whether the feeling comes from within or without–from the church or the world, one of the biggest messages to get across is that the ‘sin meter mentality’ is mostly man’s invention. Guilt only exists when you are guilty. For a Christian, it has a remedy.

    What I’m trying to convey here is that a Christian who sits in church feeling ashamed because they have homosexual temptations…well, that Christian isn’t enjoying the fullness of their Christian experience. Didn’t God reach out to them? Didn’t He call them? Didn’t He draw them to Himself? Didn’t He forgive them? Did God somehow have temporary amnesia when He reached out to them? Most certainly NOT!

    So, the world may still laugh, titter and even harass and bully a person for having homosexual feelings. The church might shun, ignore, judge, or fear someone who admits to homosexual temptations. BUT, the One who counts is the One who called the individual to Himself in the first place. The individual needs to allow this truth to sink very, very deeply into the heart of their being so that they can withstand the pervasive efforts to shame them.

    Do I still have homosexual temptations? You bet I do! Not so many and not so intense. (Likely a combination of life lessons learned, spiritual growth with a bit of the physical aging factor thrown in) My question to anyone who would presume to judge me is: Why wouldn’t I? Has my sex drive been eliminated? Have I been castrated? Has God granted me amnesia so that I would forget what I once found alluring? Has He altered my memories so that I forget that I once found pleasure and gratification there?

    Sometimes that judgement mentality slips in quietly. How many times does the masturbation topic come up? Anecdotally, it seems to come up in the ex-gay context at least twice as often as it does in the hetero sense. (And I believe even more than twice as often.) Imagine this conversation taking place in a hetero sense: “Jimmy, do you masturbate? How often? When you do, do you masturbate with fantasy? Is that fantasy of a real person or of someone imaginary?” That conversation rarely takes place. But, with regard to ex-gays, there seems to be a preoccupation. On one side we have Christians who somehow think that having a homosexual sexual fantasy is ‘worse’ than having a heterosexual sexual fantasy. On the other, we have anti-ex-gays who see the notion of entertaining a homosexual fantasy as ‘proof’ of that thing called ‘orientation’ and negation of any sense of ‘change’. A topic that is widely considered to be intensely personal and whose discussion of would be considered TMI gets tossed into the face of ex-gays on a somewhat regular basis.

    For this reason and a host of others, it is essential to thoroughly crush the condemnation. The conviction of the Holy Spirit should be the prevailing ‘inner voice’ not the nagging and deprecating voice of condemnation.

    Okay, I know it’s not Sunday. Sorry for the sermon.

  • Michael Bussee

    No problem. It was a good one.

    How many times does the masturbation topic come up? Anecdotally, it seems to come up in the ex-gay context at least twice as often as it does in the hetero sense… But, with regard to ex-gays, there seems to be a preoccupation.

    Eddy, I think it comes up for me because, as a person who has only SSA, I cannot be heterosexually married (in the sense of meeting my wife’s healthy sexual needs) but must remain chastely single. Masturbation (or total sexual abstinence) seem to be the only options left to me. What do I do? Can masturbation be “chaste”?

    Why did God give me a fully functioning sexual system — complete with all the parts and hormones — and then ask me never, ever to use it? It would be like Him giving me eyes and then asking me never to open them.

    As an ex-gay, I was told numerous times that it might be OK if I didn’t think about anything sexual. David Blakeslee says it’s morally neutral — like a good book or tasty meal. Are all “SSA only” Christians called to complete and total celibacy if they can’t or don’t develop OSA?

    I ask this in all seriousness, not to “wrangle”. I promise. I really want to know.

  • Michael Bussee

    You don’t have to answer if it’s too personal, but how do you deal with this issue?

  • Michael Bussee

    I also ask because guys at EXODUS and EXIT asked me the same question a lot — and I never had a good answer for them. Maybe because you have stuck with it all these years, you have found one? Again, not trying to be difficult. I really don’t know the answer to this. I never have.

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    Why did God give me a fully functioning sexual system — complete with all the parts and hormones — and then ask me never, ever to use it?

    I don’t know. But then why did God give Jesus a fully functioning sexual system and then ask Him never ever to use it?

    And what about those people called to celibacy? The Pope, Mother Teresa (and a whole bunch more but I don’t want to encourage a detour on priests who make a mockery of their celibacy vow.)

    I deal with the issue as hinted at above. I strive for no fantasy or minimal. I don’t clobber myself with guilt if gay imagery sneaks in. And, being the odd duck that I am, sometimes I even try to learn about myself from the stuff that creeps into my imagination. “Gee, you usually go for vanilla with sprinkles, why the sudden hankering for raspberry?” Many times, I learn something about myself or my sexuality from those ‘afterglow’ musings.

    At times when I’ve felt that my inclination to masturbate exceeded my natural sex drive, I’ve asked God to show me if I was trying to meet some other need via the masturbation. In my early Christian days, when images of a real person or porn star came to mind, rather than try to drive the image from my mind (akin to ‘Don’t imagine a pink elephant in a polka dot tutu’) I started praying for the person behind the image. I don’t imagine that most porn stars have a lot of people praying for them. This tactic defused the power of the image.

    I don’t know if it’s still in print in anyone’s archives…or if I can locate my copy…but I wrote a ‘teaching sheet’ entitled “Masturbation Dilemma” where I made some of the above comments and suggestions. (We had it printed out on a rich deep blue paper so that it would stand out from some of our more generic titles…sometimes to make sure we included it with a lit pack…sometimes to make sure we didn’t. We started referring to the color as ‘masturbation blue’ much to the dismay of our Christian printer.)

  • Michael Bussee

    I don’t know. But then why did God give Jesus a fully functioning sexual system and then ask Him never ever to use it?

    Me either. I don’t know anything about Jesus’s sexuality. I only know He was not married, but was “tempted in all things, just as we are, yet without sin” — Hebrews 4:15.

    The Bible seems silent on the topic of masturbation specifically — but it does seem to caution against sexual addictions, misuse of sex. adultery, lust, etc. So He did none of those.

    I assume He was probably so consumed with His ministry and the cross before Him that he was completely celibate — most likely did not masturbate — but that is only speculation. In any event, we SSA only folk are fully human. He was fully divine and fully human — so His experience of sexuality must have differed from ours.

    Thank you for your very candid explanation of how you deal with this issue. The best I have heard.

    Real LOL — This is a bust up: (We started referring to the color as ‘masturbation blue’ much to the dismay of our Christian printer.) At EXIT, gays were “Code 13” — to correspond with the log sheet at the hotline — “1″ for Drugs, “2″ for Alcohol, “3)” for Divorce, etc.

    Sometimes, we ex-gays at Melodyland would speculate about which church members or church staff might be “code 13″. Turned out the choir director was. He now directs the Orange County Gay Men’s Chorus. I want to join!

  • Mary

    Okay guys – we don’t know much about Jesus’ sexual system or his looks.

    To follow that God gave someone a fully functioning sexuality to be used makes a lot of assumptions in theology that we don’t agree with.

    1) That homosexuality was God made

    2) That since it was God made it is to be used

    3) Since it is God made, to be used, it cannot be sinful

    Michael – I’m not picking on you – just pointing out that the logic you use is obviously not the same logic that others with SSA have used and that others draw very different conclusions about sexuality.

    There are other theologies that people have about their sexuality (God given or not, sinful or not etc…) that do not assume that just because it is there it must be used.

  • AM

    Not sure if I want to jump into this about the fully functioning system, desires, etc.. :-)

    But the first verse that popped into my mind was, “It is better to marry than to burn in lust.” There are others like it: behaving unseemly toward one’s virgin. (Don’t have the references at hand.)

    Clearly, those in circumstances such as those above, would have fully functioning systems *and* the remedy of what to do with them. So, using that logic, I can fully understand where Michael is coming from. Straights have a stated alternative. Curiously, the verses do not state to strive harder for celibacy, i.e. surrender more, etc…

    And that I have always wondered about when Paul (and Jesus to some extent) seems to extol celibacy as a better way. The conumdrum for me is why so many ssa or gay Christians who want to embrace celibacy (because of their beliefs) don’t seem to be given the gift of celibacy. I have had some folks tell me there is no such thing as a “gift of celibacy” but to me it seems that Paul must have had it to some substantial degree — at least I infer that — and I am not the only one who sees that in his writings. :-)

  • Michael Bussee

    Mary, actually, I am not saying that:

    1) That homosexuality was God made

    2) That since it was God made it is to be used

    3) Since it is God made, to be used, it cannot be sinful

    I was only asking what an SSA-only male was supposed to do with his sexual urges. Nothing? Never touch it? I could have asked the same question about straight single men — is masturbation ever morally OK for single men?

  • Michael Bussee

    To AM:

    So, using that logic, I can fully understand where Michael is coming from. Straights have a stated alternative.

    Exactly. Straights have the option of “marrying rather than burning” — and I think that “burning” here refers to being overwhlemed by sexual desire — not Hell — correct?

    Are we to assume that SSA-only males (like me) are all “eunuchs” and never to do anything sexually? In understand the “no gay sex” part. But also, no straight marriage — at least not for the “SSA-only” ones like me? Here is what I mean:

    I was married and loved my wife deeply. I tried to be “heterosexual enough” to please by wife, but could not create any sexual arousal. I thought God might create some — over time — at least enough to keep us relatively happy together as husband and wife.

    But that did not happen. She often cried herself to sleep, wondering what was wrong with her. What was wrong with her faith? Was she an inadequate woman? A bad wife? She thought so.

    I had to think about men to function. She wondered what was wrong with her. Nothing was. She was straight.

    So for us SSA-only guys, who cannot be a proper husband sexually, we must reamin single and chaste. What alternative is left for sexual release? Is it not even OK to relieve sexual tension through masturbation?

    I sought advice from our minitsry leaders. They suggested that masturbation might bne OK if I “didn’t think about anything”. I never, ever managed to do it without thinking about something erotic. That would have seemed oddly disconnected if I could.

    To not connect sexual thought to sexual beahvior? Is that even healthy? It sounds dissociative. And yet, that is what I was counseled to do — the only way to relieve myself without sin.

    Nothing at all?

  • Eddy

    Re:

    the only way to relieve myself without sin.

    Not that it’s anyone’s first choice but we can’t rule out ‘wet dreams’. Some would rather avoid them for fear that the dreams would be more erotic than a controlled fantasy but the element of choice and willfulness is absent. And…as odd as it may seem, God can work through dreams. I’ve known one or two ex-gay men who practiced resisting masturbation and they even wound up having a hetero wet dream or two. Shocked ‘em!!! They hadn’t been aware on a cognitive level that some of their barriers and aversions to heterosexuality had fallen by the wayside.

  • Michael Bussee

    Not that it’s anyone’s first choice but we can’t rule out ‘wet dreams’.

    You can rule them out for me. Never had one. Asked a lot of guys why — I thought everyone did. They said I should stop all masturbation for at least three months. Nothing. Go to bed with a full bladder. Nothing. Pray for one. Nothing. Don’t pray for one. Nothing. One guy said I should wear boxers shorts to bed since the friction of the fabric might… Nothing.

    God can work through dreams. I’ve known one or two ex-gay men who practiced resisting masturbation and they even wound up having a hetero wet dream or two. Shocked ‘em!!!

    That would shock me too! Had some dreams with women in them, but kept waiting for them to leave… I guess none of my barriers and aversions have fallen… I have tried to find women attractive sexually. Nothing. Nude female form evokes no response.

    So, no wet dreams — have waited since age 12 or so for that. Am almost 56 now. Can’t satisfy a woman heterosexually in marriage. No gay sex. Masturbation maybe OK sometimes… But complete sexual abstinence would be preferable for the SSA-only male like me. Am I getting this right?

  • Eddy

    I’m having an open discussion, what are you having? You know, if I’m not offering conclusions, it’s really kind of rude of you to presume that I am and to assume what they are. I tend to withhold conclusions until I have all the facts or pretty complete discussion at least, we’re not there yet.

  • Michael Bussee

    How about having a gay lover and living together if we had no sex? I ask, because I actually have two close friends, Steve and Mark, who are in such a relationship. Both are deeply committed Christians. They started out as a sexually monogamous gay couple.

    Then, they felt convicted that gay sex was sin. Theyreally mean it. So they stopped having sex — but they still live together, eat together and fall asleep together, cuddling in the same bed. I don’t know what they wear to bed, if that matters. Maybe sleep naked together.

    They think of each other as spouses. I think they hug and kiss a little too. I don’t know if they masturbate — together or separately. Would their example be an morally acceptable option for two exclusively SSA Christian men?

  • ??

    -Very interesting conversation! Also, and it is very timely. More young people seem confused about their gender and sexual feelings and science must identify what makes them have this experience.

    Genetic and medical research can tell us more on what makes men and women have sexual emotion and maybe find therapies for very specific problems, in my opinion.

    I read about the therapy called SIT on this site and would like to ask: Is there any scientific study to see the results of this therapy? Thank you.

    My name is written: Takeo.

  • carole

    I’ve known one or two ex-gay men who practiced resisting masturbation and they even wound up having a hetero wet dream or two. Shocked ‘em!!!

    Okay, I admit to curiosity about this. I read the posts about masturbation earlier today and wondered, even asked my husband, “Do you suppose a wet dream is the first time a boy actually realizes he must be gay–because his dream includes a guy, not a girl?” He looked at me with raised eyebrows, a shaking of the head, a little shrug accompanied by his lovable grin, the one he always exhibits when his wife asks him something he cannot answer.

    A minute passed before he asked, “What do they talk about on that blog, Carole?”

    Now it was my turn to shrug…and grin.

    Anyway, just a point– women can masturbate w/out fantasizing. I would imagine men can too as long as their circulatory system and equipment is in tip-top shape. Obviously the experience is probably more intense for both with fantasizing.

  • carole

    @MIchael,

    Question, if you don’t mind answering and I surely understand if you don’t wish to.

    You have mentioned that you married when you were young. I wondered why you didn’t wait a few years. That is, when you dated your wife-to-be, surely you knew that you didn’t feel any lust for her even if you did feel love for her as a person. What made you think that a marriage ceremony would make a physical difference in your lack of sexual attraction to her?

  • Michael Bussee

    Anyway, just a point– women can masturbate w/out fantasizing. I would imagine men can too as long as their circulatory system and equipment is in tip-top shape.

    I don’t know tip-top mine is, but I simply cannot do this. Wonder how many guys can? And would that be holier if they could?

    What is it like to be totally devoid of any sexual thought when stimulating oneself to orgasm? To cut off sexual pleasure from emotion or thought — it still seems dissociative, as I mentioned earlier. Would be interesting though…

    In therapy with straight couples, I sometimes help them to put emotion, healthy fantasy and thought back in — when sex has become “empty” — rather disconnected, stirictly physical or somehow automatic.

  • Michael Bussee

    “Do you suppose a wet dream is the first time a boy actually realizes he must be gay–because his dream includes a guy, not a girl?”

    I don’t know. As I said, I have never had one. I have met many men, straight and gay, who haven’t. I wonder what percentage of men don’t?

    As far as the first time I realized? First grade was the first definite emotional/sexual crush. Didn’t realize that having SSA meant I was gay until I heard the words “queer” and “homo” in 5th grade.

    Went to the library and looked up “homo” — I found “homosexual” — a person attracted to their own sex, not the opposite sex. I actually didn’t hear “gay” until High School.

    I didn’t start having sexual dreams until about age 13. Would just get started and then see a female nearby in the dream. Wanted her to leave. Felt uncomfortable having her watch us. Yuck!

    Always woke up dry.

  • Michael Bussee

    I’m having an open discussion, what are you having? You know, if I’m not offering conclusions, it’s really kind of rude of you to presume that I am and to assume what they are.

    I am sorry, Eddy. I did not realize I was coming across that way. I thought were were having an open discussion. I was not presuming that you were offering conclusions. Did not mean to be rude or assume anything.

    I was trying to clarify in my own mind what might be acceptable for the SSA-only male — where the proper boundaries might be. I really did not mean to imply that I thought you were offering conclusions. I took your comments as your thoughts on the matter, not conclusions for others.

    I thought we were just kicking around ideas. Sorry if I came across in a rude manner. You know I am trying to avoid that. I have really appreciated your willingness to discuss these issues so openly. Thanks.

  • Michael Bussee

    Kum ba yah is still alive and well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqsW_noBIjQ

  • Eddy

    Thanks, Michael.

    I guess statements similar to “So you’re saying thus and such” really get under my skin. I feel like I’m simply saying what I’m saying…but people tend to assume that I’ve got an agenda. (Okay, sometimes, like all of us, I do.) But I’m here exploring too. Sometimes I’m just tossing in another piece of the puzzle that I found lying around.

  • Mary

    Michael,

    I suppose different people come to different consclusions as to what they shall do with their sexual urges. And religions are built from those ideas. LOL!! I obviously came to a different conclusion for mine than you did for yours. My beleif system did shift in a way I never expected. But it certainly does not follow the same logic as yours does.

  • Pingback: APA sexual orientation task force report: Analysis — Warren Throckmorton

  • Michael Bussee

    I guess statements similar to “So you’re saying thus and such” really get under my skin.

    When I do it, I am usually just trying to sum up what I understand the other person to be saying — to check if I am getting it right. I don’t assume you have an agenda.

    I should probably phrase it like — “I think I understand you to be saying “X”…Is that correct?”

  • Michael Bussee

    Mary:

    My belief system did shift in a way I never expected. But it certainly does not follow the same logic as yours does.

    What logic do you mean? How does our belief system differ? Do you mean BIblically?

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    This is all that I said about ‘wet dreams’:

    Not that it’s anyone’s first choice but we can’t rule out ‘wet dreams’. Some would rather avoid them for fear that the dreams would be more erotic than a controlled fantasy but the element of choice and willfulness is absent. And…as odd as it may seem, God can work through dreams. I’ve known one or two ex-gay men who practiced resisting masturbation and they even wound up having a hetero wet dream or two. Shocked ‘em!!! They hadn’t been aware on a cognitive level that some of their barriers and aversions to heterosexuality had fallen by the wayside.

    But it led to this response from you

    :

    So, no wet dreams — have waited since age 12 or so for that. Am almost 56 now. Can’t satisfy a woman heterosexually in marriage. No gay sex. Masturbation maybe OK sometimes… But complete sexual abstinence would be preferable for the SSA-only male like me. Am I getting this right?

    So this doesn’t quite explain what you do:

    When I do it, I am usually just trying to sum up what I understand the other person to be saying — to check if I am getting it right. I don’t assume you have an agenda.

    I should probably phrase it like — “I think I understand you to be saying “X”…Is that correct?”

    So, although I was still discussing…provided a good bit on masturbation (at your request) and thought I’d round out the topic with ‘wet dreams’ as another option we hadn’t discussed…you tried to sum up what you thought I was saying with:

    But complete sexual abstinence would be preferable for the SSA-only male like me. Am I getting this right?

    Did I speak a word about a ‘conclusion’? How can you be ‘getting this right’–my conclusion on the matter when I haven’t spoken it?

  • Eddy

    Hello Takeo–

    We didn’t mean to ignore you. We often get very involved in these discussions and sometimes don’t notice when someone else drops in.

    I think we all agree that science ought to be doing more study in the area of ‘the origins of sexual orientation’. Some of us here feel that science has caved in to societal pressure and that they aren’t researching as thoroughly as they could. We believe they have a bias that would likely affect the outcome of their studies.

    At this point, science hasn’t yet determined if homosexuality is inborn, genetic, learned or a combination of factors. It’s all still theory. But all of us here feel pretty strongly about our points of view so, in reading, you’d think we were talking facts not opinions. I, for example, hold to what’s been termed a ‘conservative religious’ viewpoint and feel very strongly that while there may be some pre-natal influences that it’s a learned or conditioned behavior. Others are quite adamant that they were ‘born this way’.

    Some say that this polarization–both sides feeling so strongly about their views–has impacted the scientific study. But it does go on. Warren, our website host, has a pretty good eye for what’s being done and, if it’s significant and newsworthy, he’ll usually bring it here as a topic for discussion. So, please, keep checking back in and if a topic hits close to your concerns, feel free to join in on the conversation.

    I am guessing that English is not your native language. That’s okay. Your involvement would help us to speak more clearly.

  • Michael Bussee

    Eddy: As I said, I was trying to figure out what, if any, kind of sexual behavior might be morally OK for the SSA-only male, like me.

    You had mentioned wet dreams as one alternative. For me, they are not. I know that gay sex with another person is out. For me, so is heterosexual marriage.

    So what’s left? It seems that only masturbation would be — and that it would be desireable, morally, to be able to do this without gay fantasy.

    I was not trying to accuse you of coming to a conclusion. I was trying to come to one for myself — something that would still be Biblically OK.

  • Eddy

    But Michael,

    If that isn’t the topic

    and

    if I haven’t pronounced any conclusions

    then

    why do you address questions to me based on your preconceived conclusions about my conclusions?

    That would be similar to me responding to any point you made with ‘so you’re saying that ex-gays are misguided and mistaken’? LOL. That may well be your point but I give you the space to ask your questions, to make your observations, to build your case if that’s what you’re doing without forcing you to announce a conclusion before you decide to.

    As I’ve said, I’m exploring. I’m asking questions. The Lord knows ‘wet dreams’ are an infrequent topic of conversation. I made no value judgements. I’ve announced that I try not to pronounce them. I have freely stated my bias and yet you continue to request that I also pronounce value judgements. I choose not to go there. God has convicted you to lighten up on ‘attacks and attitude’; He’s convicted me to lighten up on ‘pronouncing judgement’. Just as your attacks and attitude weren’t conducing to furthering productive converstation, neither is my pronouncing judgement or stating what is or isn’t sin. Always leads to a detour and never furthers the conversation.

  • Eddy

    “conducing” should have been “conducive” and “conversation” is normally spelled with only one ‘t’. My apologies!!!! :-)

  • Michael Bussee

    Me:

    As I said, I was trying to figure out what, if any, kind of sexual behavior might be morally OK for the SSA-only male, like me.

    You:

    I made no value judgements. I’ve announced that I try not to pronounce them. I have freely stated my bias and yet you continue to request that I also pronounce value judgements. I choose not to go there.

    Fair enough, Eddy. I was just asking for your opinion. I respect your decision to avoid value judgements. I won’t push for one. I guess each person will have to work this out between himself and God. We can leave it at that, OK?

  • http://non-meta-stephen.com/blog non-metaphysical stephen

    But the first verse that popped into my mind was, “It is better to marry than to burn in lust.” There are others like it: behaving unseemly toward one’s virgin. (Don’t have the references at hand.)

    Clearly, those in circumstances such as those above, would have fully functioning systems *and* the remedy of what to do with them. So, using that logic, I can fully understand where Michael is coming from. Straights have a stated alternative. Curiously, the verses do not state to strive harder for celibacy, i.e. surrender more, etc…

    And that I have always wondered about when Paul (and Jesus to some extent) seems to extol celibacy as a better way. The conumdrum for me is why so many ssa or gay Christians who want to embrace celibacy (because of their beliefs) don’t seem to be given the gift of celibacy. I have had some folks tell me there is no such thing as a “gift of celibacy” but to me it seems that Paul must have had it to some substantial degree — at least I infer that — and I am not the only one who sees that in his writings. :-)

    AM, I like your style!

    These passages have been very important in helping me see how badly the church has mangled scriptural teaching about marriage and sexuality. I cannot see that Paul in these passages is saying that marriage is about procreation–in his comments here and in his comments about widows remarrying, he is clearly saying that marriage is an acceptable means for people to release their sexual urges. (He doesn’t tell widows that it’s okay for them to remarry–he DEMANDS they remarry, even if they’re clearly past menopause, on account of their sexual desires.) Marriage maybe a poor second-place option to chastity, but that’s all it is–certainly not the foundation of civilization!

    So, yah, gays and lesbians either get left out in the cold or (as I believe) should be given the option of marriage.

    I also agree with you about the gift of celibacy. Martin Luther pointed out that the calling to ministry quite plainly did not always come with the calling to celibacy; it was only the church who made that extra burden on the monks and priests. Again, the lack of understanding on this issue has left gays and lesbians out in the cold. It is unreasonable and (I believe) legalistic to demand they remain chaste.


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