Are we nearing a consensus?

Dan Gilgoff, blogger at US News and World Report, is fascinated by the stance taken by Alan Chambers in his new book, Leaving Homosexuality.

What striking is that Chambers is not promoting so-called conversion therapy, which some religious conservatives claim can convert gays and lesbians to a straight sexual orientation. Rather, he acknowledges that, for gays and lesbians, homosexual attraction never goes away. But he suggests that homosexuals can resist those urges through Christianity (this from a Citizenlink interview):

CHAMBERS: The key thought here is the opposite of homosexuality isn’t heterosexuality. It’s holiness. There are people who are conflicted with their sexuality, involved with homosexuality, and there is a way out for those who want it. But it doesn’t say that they’re going into heterosexuality, because that’s not the point. The point is that people can leave whatever it is that God calls less than His best and move into something that is His best, becoming more like He is.

CitizenLink: Now, I’ve heard it, and you’ve heard it: Gay activists are going to read that and say, again, “Alan Chambers is living a lie. He’s suppressing who he really is.” You make a great point in the book that is very applicable to anyone who struggles with any temptation—and that is, self-denial isn’t a bad thing. How do you respond to those who say you’re just living a lie?

CHAMBERS: For so long I’ve heard gay activists say to me, “You’re just in denial. You’re not grasping the reality of the situation. You’re just denying who you really are.” The truth is, I am in denial, but it is self-denial. I’m not in denial of who I used to be. I’m not in denial of the temptations that I could still experience. I am denying the power that sin has over me.

This led Dan to interview Joe Solmonese, at the Human Rights Campaign about what seemed to Dan like a new approach. Solmonese said:

“It marks a pretty significant shift in the dangerous idea that the Exodus crowd was putting forward: that it was possible to change and to no longer be gay. They were attempting to do that by shaming people, getting them to deny who they were. Anybody who goes through that process realizes that it’s simply not possible to change who you are. So it marks an important shift that there is an acknowledgment that you can’t stop being gay.

“And I’m going to respect people’s religious views, and if someone says, ‘I acknowledge that I am gay and will always be gay, but am going to live within context of Scripture as I view it and not act on that,’ I think that’s sad—it is denying my view, which is that we are all God’s children and are formed in his image—but at the very least it’s a shift in thinking. It’s not something I agree with but something that I’m willing to respect if somebody else decides to live with it.

“Everybody is entitled to live their lives in the way they see fit. So if [Chambers] is moving to a place that says, ‘This is who we are and who we’re born to be, and it’s not possible to change us,’ then I guess one has to see that as a step in the right direction.”

Dan concludes by wondering if we are nearing some kind of common ground:

But I wonder if Chambers’s and Solmonese’s remarks reflect some common ground emerging between religious conservatives and the LGBT community around homosexuality—one that rejects conservatives’ former support for conversion therapy but also rejects the idea among some gay advocates that conservative religious homosexuals must cast off their faith and embrace their sexual orientation.

Just a note on Alan’s book (which I need to get and read), and a potential retreat from conversion therapy. Despite a more congruence-sounding framework regarding what change means, the reparative narrative is still a prominent aspect of the book (see pages 34-36 74-76 – you can search inside at Amazon.com). Many straight men have very similar histories but that is a post for another time. The point is that one oft unspoken bump in the common-ground road is the reparative view that homosexuality derives from trauma — whether it be with parents, peers, or some kind of abuse. As I have discussed here, this is a problem, not just for those on the gay side of the fence, but for evangelical parents of gay children.

Update: Here is a screen capture of the beginning of the Psychological Development section. Alan acknowledges that he is not a psychologist but then proceeds to offer the reparative narrative.

LeavingHo

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  • David Blakeslee

    Regarding Joe’s comment:

    Anybody who goes through that process realizes that it’s simply not possible to change who you are.

    If “who you are” is sensations (and complete extinction of those sensations is Joe’s definition of change), then I suppose he is right.

    Human beings are, and always have been, more than their sensations. Change has always meant more than what Joe asserts that it has meant.

    Cf. Eddy and his comments and articles for Exodus years ago.

  • Michael Bussee

    What striking is that Chambers is not promoting so-called conversion therapy, which some religious conservatives claim can convert gays and lesbians to a straight sexual orientation. Rather, he acknowledges that, for gays and lesbians, homosexual attraction never goes away. But he suggests that homosexuals can resist those urges through

    .

    That’s what I was trying to say.

    David commented:

    If “who you are” is sensations (and complete extinction of those sensations is Joe’s definition of change), then I suppose he is right.

    BTW, homosexual sentations, attractions or temptations are not exactly “who I am”. But they are true about me — just like it is true that I am right-handed. They are an aspect of me — a deep and abiding aspect of me. In that sense (and only in that sense) they are “who I am”, but surely not all of who I am or the basis for my “identity”.

  • Michael Bussee

    I think we are getting closer. Pray.

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

    I’m only part way through Alan’s book. I do acknowledge that it is better (so far) that previous writing.

    But as of yet, it still semi-endorses the reparative blame-dad explanation (Alan graciously “forgives” his father who is afterward left staring out a window in agony over causing Alan to be gay) and states that his leaving homosexuality delighted his father who felt less pain (hint, hint, you’re hurting your father who is feeling guilt, you awful son you). It was pretty obnoxious to read.

    Also, I am amused at how often Alan mentions his wife and kids. At one point he literally sets up the comparison of “my life with my wife and kids” and “whatever the gay community has to offer”. So… perhaps not exactly a common ground.

    Nonetheless, it’s an improvement.

  • Mary

    Everyone is taking Alan’s word as the only word, the only experience, the only way?

    That does not seem reasonable either.

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

    I will have more to say in the morning. I have read the whole book and can read the between-the-lines media “reporting.” Sigh. G’night.

  • Mary

    And maybe – just maybe the whole dad theory thing works for him. Haven’t we discussed this ad infinitum that there are many roads to our sexuality? Alan has a sotry and so does everyone else. Blaming him for not telling your story is strange.

  • Ann

    Blaming him for not telling your story is strange.

    Mary,

    I agree – it does not have to be everyone’s story to make it true.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Let me post the relevant section of the book in the body of the post. He makes general statements about child development that are speculative — that is what I refer to as the reparative narrative.

    The stages referred to come straight from Nicolosi’s (neo-Freudian) version of male development. Maybe it is accurate in general, maybe not. I was trained in it and accepted as true without really evaluating it. However, there are many gaps in our knowledge about this time of life and many exceptions. We know that attachment is generally relevant to adult attachment to varying degrees but we do not have evidence that sexual attraction is one of those ways. You can argue it all day long but unless you bring data, I will not trust (In God we trust, all others must bring data.)

  • David Blakeslee

    Is it Neo-Freudian?

    It is psychodynamic, object-relations focused.

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

    Mary and Ann,

    I don’t fault Alan for telling his story. I do think he has a responsiblity not to present it as though it is the only story or is representative of stories as a whole.

    Don’t you?

  • Brian

    @ Walter Throckmorton:

    Walter, may I suggest that an interesting topic for a post – and one which I have never seen discussed in any detailed and insightful way – is precisely why the issue of “conversion” is so politically important to the ant-gay side. I mean, on its face, this issue should be a simple matter of empirical investigation. It either works or it doesn’t. It really shouldn’t impact the gay rights debate at all, and gay people should have no particular beef with those who make a personal decision to try to change. So why is it such a battlefield? The answer comes from a significant misunderstanding by the anti-gay side that civil rights (i.e., statutory protections against discrimination) are dependent upon “immutability”. Therefore, they believe that if they can show that someone – anyone – has changed, then they have proven mutability and thus destroyed any claim gays have to civil rights protection or, as they sometimes put it “minority status”. This is always a subtext to any discussion of “conversion” therapy, but it is a fundamentally flawed understanding of both law and history. I think it deserves attention.

    @ Alan Chambers:

    On the off-chance you read this blog, if you know so much about how things went wrong, why aren’t you straight?

    @ David Blakeslee:

    “Human beings are, and always have been, more than their sensations.”

    - You strike me as being disingenuous in most of your comments. This is no exception. No one has said that human beings are nothing more than their “sensations”. But their deepest feelings are an important part of what they are. That a human being’s feelings are not coextensive with a person’s entire identity does not mean that they are mutable.

  • Michael Bussee

    I still think we are getting closer to concensus. We have made progress. Let us not lose heart. I suspect there might be an increase in tension as we get closer to really saying something about all of these issues that we can actually agree on.

    AS we get closer, there will be more squabbling over words, more things taken personally, more defensiveness, more threats to leave the discussion, more dismissal of each other’s experience, more mistaken assumptions about each other’s intent — but I think it is much closer. I am feeling optimistic. Strangely optimistic.

    Regarding the father-deficit theory — it may very well make sense forAan and resonate with his experience. It makes a certain sense. I know lots of gay and straight guys that have experienced a sense of father loss — and never feel quite whole because of it. I don’t think this causes gayness — but it very well might resonate with it on a very profound level.

    I don’t think it is unreasonable, for example, for straight men to long for (in a sweetheart or wife) what they did not recieve from their Mothers.

  • Ann

    Walter Throckmorton

    I know this is completely off topic but I cannot stop giggling :-)

  • Ann

    I still think we are getting closer to concensus. We have made progress. Let us not lose heart.

    Michael,

    :-D

  • Michael Bussee

    I like the way you think, Brian:

    Therefore, they believe that if they can show that someone – anyone – has changed, then they have proven mutability and thus destroyed any claim gays have to civil rights protection or, as they sometimes put it “minority status”. This is always a subtext to any discussion of “conversion” therapy, but it is a fundamentally flawed understanding of both law and history. I think it deserves attention.

    I agree with this and I think it deserves attention too. Also appreciated your comment to David:

    No one has said that human beings are nothing more than their “sensations”. But their deepest feelings are an important part of what they are. That a human being’s feelings are not coextensive with a person’s entire identity does not mean that they are mutable.</blockquote>

  • Lynn David

    Timothy Kincaid…. (Alan graciously “forgives” his father who is afterward left staring out a window in agony over causing Alan to be gay) and states that his leaving homosexuality delighted his father who felt less pain (hint, hint, you’re hurting your father who is feeling guilt, you awful son you). It was pretty obnoxious to read.

    I had a discussion with a lawyer here in Indiana who was of the opinion that a son owed his father his sexuality. He was pretty obnoxious also.

    Who are “we” to come to this concensus? Those who are studied enough to know? Do you think it possible that Alan Chambers put off this book of his until after the November election? What it might have meant for this admission to 18,000 married couples, and more to come?

  • Lynn David

    Dang box….

  • Mary

    Timothy,

    But gays get upset if another story is told. This is the only one gays have not totally attacked.

  • Michael Bussee

    Mary: I don’t mind another story being told. Which one are we referring to? Alan’s new book?

    Wish you wouldn’t speak of “gays” as though we were all of one mind. Perhaps you could say, “many gays” or “most gays I have heard from”. I am trying not to say “ex-gays” as though they all felt the same. Let’s both try not to generalize, OK? I will try if you will.

  • Michael Bussee

    Mary: I reviewed the posts and found that you were referring to Timothy’s statement:

    I don’t fault Alan for telling his story. I do think he has a responsiblity not to present it as though it is the only story or is representative of stories as a whole.

    I have not read it. Does he present it as though “it is the only story or is representative of stories as a whole”? I would hope that he does not. Everyone’s narrative is unique.

  • http://pianomankugie.vox.com PianoManKugie

    Except for the fact that there were other boys who had the same experiences, who felt different, who were picked on, or who were put down verbally or called names by their dads or male teachers, or who were made fun of by their peers, or laughed at, made to cry etc and then taunted for crying, absolutely terrible at any sport, etc. who have never known anything in themselves except OSA. They had the same or very similar external circumstances at least at some time in their childhoods, but they have a different outcome, a different response, a different “manifestation”, like “straight male insecurity” (whatever the heck that might be). (I can’t believe I’m writing this, I guess I’m practicing “devil’s advocate” or just expanding my thinking; which would be healthy). To me this would mean that these things listed above probably do exist for many boys who end up being SSA when puberty hits, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s causative, just that it happens. Something inside me says that there MUST be some internal “wirings” (if we can endure the term) (“they” used to say “tendencies”) along with some external circumstances, with the circumstances either re-cycling (sorry, reinforcing, as in a spiral or loop) the internal that is already there, or not. I still don’t believe anyone is born “that way”, but how would I know? I had no clue to what attraction to another was until I first felt it when I was in high school and for the first time thought I had found the person I was going to get to spend the rest of my life with (yes, naive…..)

  • Mary

    MIchael,

    Wish you wouldn’t speak of ex gays as if we were all of one mind or group ie:EXODUS.

  • Michael Bussee

    Mary: I am sorry I have done that. I will not do it again. I will say “some ex-gays” or “many of the ex-gays I have spoken to”. It is not right when I do it or when you do.

  • Brian

    Re my post above. I meant Warren Throckmorton. Only his friends call him Walter.

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

    The stages referred to come straight from Nicolosi’s (neo-Freudian) version of male development. Maybe it is accurate in general, maybe not. I was trained in it and accepted as true without really evaluating it. However, there are many gaps in our knowledge about this time of life and many exceptions. We know that attachment is generally relevant to adult attachment to varying degrees but we do not have evidence that sexual attraction is one of those ways. You can argue it all day long but unless you bring data, I will not trust (In God we trust, all others must bring data.)

    I accept Warren’s analysis here. He is far more the expert in developmental psychology than am I. Some other thoughts on Alan’s book:

    I think Alan is strong in the personal narrative of his life story, and we can accept that as a valid testimony based on his perception of his struggle. One weakness in his book is in oversimplifying some of the discussion on possible etiology of SSA/homosexuality. One senses he is in a bit over his head on the psychology side of it. More qualifiers would have been in order. As Warren said, there is much we still don’t know and may never know.

    As for the discussion of change, Alan was gracious in allowing a wider berth than he or Exodus had previously.

    Some have said that Yvette Scheider’s and Mike Goecke’s chapters ought to have been appendices, but I disagree. They were important chapters that deserved their placement in the book.

    My favorite chapter of all is probably the last one (“This Is the Life We Were Created To Live”). It’s a good anchor chapter. Alan is strong throughout in his narrative about the spiritual significance of his struggle and the value of self-denial to one’s personal and spiritual growth. Folks like me can relate big-time to that.

    We also must remember that Alan began his journey out of homosexuality at a fairly young age. Had he waited much later, he might have had a far more difficult struggle and it may have turned out differently. Who can say?

    I can say I have thought many times about the very thin threads my own SSA struggle hung from. I easily could have taken a different road and become more entrenched in a gay life. Instead, I suffered silently for many years before succumbing to the overwhelming desire to know my other side. Fortunately, by then God already had sown some significant seeds of faith in me. I will always believe I was pursued by a loving and patient God and that He gave me a destiny. I believe Alan feels the same.

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

    When I did a quick read last night of Warren’s post above, I perceived that Gilgoff had been misleading in his blog post about Alan Chambers’ tack on SSA. When I read Gilgoff’s actual blog this morning, I see that is not the case. Warren, the sometimes citizen-journalist, misled — without meaning to, I hope — because he left out one or two essential bits. Warren, don’t leave your day job. :)

    Gilgoff was less “fascinated” with the possibility of a growing consensus between gays and ex-gays than he was merely curious. Naturally, he had to throw out a bone to Joe Solmonese, who then predictably went on to completely misinterpret what Alan had said in his CitizenLink interview. Gilgoff also pointed out (the part Warren left out) that Chambers wasn’t saying what Solmonese was attributing to him:

    “So if [Chambers] is moving to a place that says, ‘This is who we are and who we’re born to be, and it’s not possible to change us,’ then I guess one has to see that as a step in the right direction.”

    Gilgoff made it clear that Alan believes some kind of change is still possible:

    Of course, Chambers isn’t going that far. He argues that it is possible for gays to leave homosexuality, even if they don’t become heterosexuals.

    That still leaves open the possibility that some might go on to become heterosexual, but as I already have said, that is not really the point if we are being intellectually honest. Alan clearly says in his book that gay is not who we are born to be. The Joe Solmoneses of the world are not going to buy that, of course. And as long as they don’t — and “they” are the activist ones trying to drive policy, opposite their conservative activist types — there is no real consensus.

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

    I don’t see the distinction you are making Debbie. Dan said the interview was fascinating and I said he was fascinated by the stance Alan had taken in the Citizenlink interview. I provided the link so readers could read the entire article which made clear they don’t agree on everything, although I thought that would be obvious from the quotes provided.

    The point of Dan’s post was not to clarify every possible point of agreement and disagreement but to note one possible consensus, namely,

    one that rejects conservatives’ former support for conversion therapy but also rejects the idea among some gay advocates that conservative religious homosexuals must cast off their faith and embrace their sexual orientation.

    This is quoted this in my post because I wanted to make sure people got what the agreement could be. Then I noted that the rejection of conversion therapy is not as complete as Dan might have portrayed by a reference to the reparative narrative. In any event, there was no intent to mislead.

  • Eddy

    Brian said:

    So why is it such a battlefield? The answer comes from a significant misunderstanding by the anti-gay side that civil rights (i.e., statutory protections against discrimination) are dependent upon “immutability”. Therefore, they believe that if they can show that someone – anyone – has changed, then they have proven mutability and thus destroyed any claim gays have to civil rights protection or, as they sometimes put it “minority status”. This is always a subtext to any discussion of “conversion” therapy, but it is a fundamentally flawed understanding of both law and history. I think it deserves attention.

    I couldn’t agree more. In my first few years of ministry, even before I had entertained any thoughts of heterosexuality, I was being attacked and my credibility questioned by, for lack of a better term, gay advocates. Since my heart was for gay people…for their souls on one level and for their right to live without threat of bullying or harassment…I could not understand this animosity. Then one day, in a conversation with one of my more friendly opponents, he disclosed that nothing else mattered…as long as I was claiming some kind of change…the ability to live beyond my gay feelings…that conservatives would use my ‘testimony’ to support their political views and that gay rights advocates would view me as ‘the enemy’. And that was before Exodus made the giant mistake of getting tangled up in politics. It is no surprise, therefore, that ‘the war’ has escalated and that the polarization is more profound.

    We can make the message about ‘what change is’ more clear and reduce that political threat AND we can extricate ourselves from political entanglements that don’t respect the rights I cited above. (Personally, I feel that it simply won’t happen that Exodus folks will get out of politics entirely, my realistic hope, though, is that they’ll recognize the difference between advancing civil rights and ‘endorsing’ a lifestyle.)

    Ann,

    Not sure if it was on this thread or one of the other current ones but I thought your reference to the invisible ex-gays…the ones who have shunned any public stance (whew! I didn’t type ‘pubic’)…was both timely and eloquent.

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

    Warren, I take the responsibility of accurate “reporting” pretty seriously because a lot of the gyrations we tend to go through to understand each other come from incomplete writing and reading — poor communications skills. Some so-called journalists (bloggers, many) do intend to mislead but most don’t. You didn’t intend to, I am sure. But you did just a tad because I was left with an incomplete impression from what you wrote. And, have you not previously stated that conversion therapy and reparative therapy are not necessarily one and the same?

    Sometimes I think you would be better off if you said less and just went more quickly to the original piece you are citing. You do that sometimes. It is often less confusing that way. Follow up with more commentary later. FWIW. Kumbayah. :)

  • Denver Todd

    There seems to be less consensus than you suggest. This is the way I see it: Alan says “gay is not my identity, holiness is.” HRC says that “as long as you concede that you are gay first, then I will sadly allow you to be celibate.” For the non-gay homosexual, religion can be the most important thing. For the gay homosexual, gay wins out over religion almost every time. I don’t see much consensus.

  • Michael Bussee

    And that was before Exodus made the giant mistake of getting tangled up in politics. It is no surprise, therefore, that ‘the war’ has escalated and that the polarization is more profound.

    I agree with Eddy. It was a giant mistake.

  • Eddy

    I had an afterthought while pulling clothes from the dryer about the politics. Although I feel that Exodus does need to pull away from it’s confusing entanglements, in actuality, they cannot go silent.

    We went with the silent approach at OUTPOST; we simply refused to speak on politics and even kept our personal views silent. (You just know that killed me!) Anyway, what happened is that religious conservatives thought they knew where we stood and sometimes took the liberty of speaking ‘for us’—not quite ‘getting it right’. Conversely, the gay rights activists also presumed that they knew where we stood and blamed us for stances we didn’t represent. I wish we lived in a world where people were far more careful about speaking the mind of others…where people didn’t presume an opinion or a stance when none was spoken…but we don’t. For that very significant reason, total silence is not an option.

    My caution to Exodus, with that in mind, is: 1) if they pronounce an Exodus viewpoint, be sure that it is representative of, at least, the bulk of the affiliates.

    2) if they pronounce an individual viewpoint, be sure to clarify that it is a personal one and not that of Exodus at large. 3) In either case, be aware that there are people with agendas and biases on both sides, if there’s any chance for confusion, for misreading your point of view, take the time to explain it or don’t speak at all.

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

    Denver – Welcome.

    I am not sure there is a consensus, hence the question mark in the title. I think you make a good point regarding what Solmonese says. Gay is the identity of choice for an SSA person whereas, it is the dis-identification with gay that marks the Exodus stance.

    To me, the fix is get folks to consider that there are different ways to define oneself that should be respected. Some define self by their beliefs and chosen values and if those are nongay-affirming, they believe that to dis-identify is “being who I am.” If they believe that the reality of their inner world is the way to define self and those are SSA and their religious faith does not disapprove, then they go with a more organismic definition of congruence.

    I think it is fine to treat these means of self-definition respectfully.

  • http://nojam75.blogspot.com Norm!

    Maybe I’m just too jaded and suspicious about Chambers, but I don’t see what the difference in his rhetoric is. Most ex-gay and Exodus leaders I’ve heard have always carefully inserted the disclaimer that they don’t promise heterosexuality. And I suspect many ex-gay leaders would deny ever promoting conversion therapy. However, the ex-gays who heterosexually marry are always upheld as ‘success stories’ while lifelong celibacy is rarely publicized in the same manner.

    Chambers:

    “The key thought here is the opposite of homosexuality isn’t heterosexuality. It’s holiness.”

    Uh, obviously we are far from common ground regarding this very offensive statement. Clearly this is an indirect way of saying homosexuality is an abomination.

    Chambers:

    “….The truth is, I am in denial, but it is self-denial. I’m not in denial of who I used to be. I’m not in denial of the temptations that I could still experience. I am denying the power that sin has over me…”

    Isn’t this just a fancy way of saying he is suppressing his natural attractions? This is nothing new. “The closet” and repression has existed throughout history. Exodus’ challenge is that the whole point of their ministry is to offer something more than merely calling conservative Christians with same-sex attractions to a life of repression. And yet, after 30+ years and very few ‘success stories’, Chambers seems to merely offer new ways to spin what is basically self denial.

    Chambers:

    Certainly parents or family and friends are well-meaning in their desire to help their loved ones dealing with these issues. But it goes back to the premise that leaving homosexuality isn’t the point. If they have a loved one who doesn’t know the Lord, homosexuality should be a very back-burner issue. The most important thing for someone who doesn’t know the Lord is that they know Christ, not that they leave homosexuality.

    Of course, Chambers’ implication is that homosexuals don’t know Christ. While it’s great to encourage a form of self-righteous, pity tolerance, why not also encourage tolerance of gay friends’ and family members’ faith? Of course Chambers will not because he and his audience are religious fundamentalists.

    BTW, Chambers missed a great opportunity to inform his conservative Christians audience that referring to gay and lesbian friends and family members as “homosexuals” is probably not the best approach.

  • Eddy

    LOL. On first reading, I thought you said ‘then they go with a more orgasmic definition of congruence.’

    I think it is fine to treat these means of self-definition respectfully.

    Warren, I agree with this, especially as it applies to understanding one another in dialogue. Could it be that our latest ‘disruptive to kumbaya’ issues are that some are trying to make statements on behalf of both points of view but favoring the language and concepts of one side over the other?

    Perhaps we’re able to talk respectfully, to hear each other respectfully but we’re not yet ready to present joint position statements.

  • Eddy

    I’m not with Norm! all the way (I really think Alan is onto something with the ‘self-denial’ approach but I also find this quote rather obtuse.

    “The key thought here is the opposite of homosexuality isn’t heterosexuality. It’s holiness.”

    Let’s take a look at opposites, shall we? The opposite of up is down. Conversely, the opposite of down is up. The opposite of in is out…again, you turn it around and it’s completely true…the opposite of out is in. Fat/thin, light/dark, white/black, tall/short. Homosexuality/Holiness…holiness/homosexuality. Nah…it doesn’t fill the bill as far as understaning opposites goes.

    I’ll forgive it though since I realize his emphasis was actually on the first part…he wanted to convey that heterosexuality wasn’t what they were pushing. I think, way back then, we first said ‘the opposite of homosexuality isn’t heterosexuality, it’s godly sexuality’. That’s a bit closer but there’s still this sense of singling out homosexuality for special sin focus while ignoring the sinful expressions of heterosexuality.

  • Mary

    The only concensus that I will agree to is that each person’s experience is different.

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

    Eddy,

    Gosh!

    I never realized that the opposite of holiness is homosexuality. I guess this is a pretty holy world after all. Good catch!

    ;)

  • Eddy

    I do try to be an equal-opportunity critic. Not all of my critiquing appears hear on the blog…been known to fire off an email or two (a letter or two in the olden days). Put all the other issues aside and I think my top cause is ‘preservation of the english language’…I really get ticked at the liberties people take with it…words get rendered essentially meaningless through repeated careless usage.

    Anyway, this was a very bad use of the word ‘opposite’. Turning the phrase around proves it. (I’m gauging from the smiley face that you did catch that I was saying they weren’t opposites. I thought it was so obvious that I took a grammatical shortcut but that could have been misleading.)

  • Michael Bussee

    Anyway, what happened is that religious conservatives thought they knew where we stood and sometimes took the liberty of speaking ‘for us’—not quite ‘getting it right’. Conversely, the gay rights activists also presumed that they knew where we stood and blamed us for stances we didn’t represent.

    My response to this?

    Say, “Too bad. We hate to disappoint you conservatives and gay rights activists — but EXODUS does not and will not take an official stance on politics. That’s not what we are about!

    Assume whatever you please, but we are a ministry – officially NON-political — and we intend to keep it that way. Look elsewhere for support of your opposing agendas, you conservatives and activists! We are staying out of it.

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

    First time visitor to this site — I found it while looking up some of the references listed in the Wikipedia article for Sexual Identity Therapy.

    After reading this article and a few others like it here, I’m wondering why, with so many scholars now arguing that the scriptures are very vague about homosexuality, with so many pastors and church leaders stating that they have become convinced through prayer and study that homosexuality is not a problem, and with so many gay and lesbian individuals testifying that they have encountered God’s love and peace with no call to change their sexuality — with all these movements going in within the church, why do we worry about trying to refute someone like Alan Chambers?

    I recognize that there are many, many gays and lesbians growing up in conservative Christian families in which homosexuality is viewed as a sin, and that these families will turn to ex-gay therapies for “help.” So that battle will not end anytime soon.

    But it seems to me that more and more, ex-gay therapies aren’t factoring into Christian’s perceptions of homosexuality. Instead, academic biblical scholarship and individual/group Bible study and prayer are becoming more important means for Christians to accept the inclusion of gays and lesbians as active ministers of Christ’s love for all people. And as more gays and lesbians attend gay-friendly churches and experience God’s love directly, the issue of “can it be changed” will become less important, eventually to be replaced by the consideration “does it really need to be changed,” and more importantly by the question “how can God use me in my present situation”?

    I guess what I’m sensing as I read these conversations is that they don’t address the emerging situation in which gays and lesbians grow up in affirming environments, create families of their own, and partake in full ministry within the Christian church. For many gays and lesbians, these arguments about ex-gay therapy are pretty much irrelevant. So, how do we make the shift from arguing about psychology to acknowledging a more direct affirmation from God of gay and lesbian relationships?

  • Michael Bussee

    And as more gays and lesbians attend gay-friendly churches and experience God’s love directly, the issue of “can it be changed” will become less important, eventually to be replaced by the consideration “does it really need to be changed,” and more importantly by the question “how can God use me in my present situation”?

    N.M.Stephen: That’s exactly what I think is happening. There will always be those who take the ex-gay path as is their perfect rigtht, but I think more and more SSA folk are becoming more concerned about that last question. Whether identified as “gay” or “ex-gay” — the most important question really is: “How can God use me?”

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

    So, how do we make the shift from arguing about psychology to acknowledging a more direct affirmation from God of gay and lesbian relationships?

    I believe the answer to your question, N-M Stephen, is when enough of us give ourselves permission to play God. Many have crossed that threshold and see not one iota wrong with it. I see plenty wrong with it, however.

    Yes, we have seen a big cultural shift impacting the Church. You are right about that. Christians who feel guilty, to the extent it is justifiable, of past injustices and disenfranchisement of our gay brothers and sisters may now desire to ameliorate that guilt with being more open, loving and accepting. But that perfectly legitimate response has crossed over into fully affirming gayness as God’s created intent in the minds of many because of a growing and effective PR campaign by some pretty smart gay activist types to convince them that is so.

    To the extent that Christians no longer are literate in their own Scriptures, they are capable of being deceived. Paul wrote to the church at Colossi, “See that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world rather than according to Christ” (2 Col. 2:8).

    What you speak of, Stephen, is in accordance with worldly philosophy and the “tradition of men.” It will succeed or fail on the backs of those who make up the Church. They will either see the truth or they won’t. I am no prophet, so I cannot call it. But I am living it, the same as you are. You and I will be on different sides in this struggle.

  • Eddy

    I guess what I’m sensing as I read these conversations is that they don’t address the emerging situation in which gays and lesbians grow up in affirming environments, create families of their own, and partake in full ministry within the Christian church. For many gays and lesbians, these arguments about ex-gay therapy are pretty much irrelevant. So, how do we make the shift from arguing about psychology to acknowledging a more direct affirmation from God of gay and lesbian relationships?

    We don’t.

    This website is an open-forum where both sides come to speak. Just as we’ve never really gotten past the surface on the specifics of the affirmation and support that Exodus offers, we’ll likely not get into the specifics of the affirmations offered by the ‘gay church’.

    I agree, though, that it might be interesting for Warren to run two separate topic threads where we try to curtail the ‘blame’ and ‘sin’ talk and focus primarily on the benefits and affirmations offered by the opposing theologies.

  • Eddy

    Too bad. We hate to disappoint you conservatives and gay rights activists — but EXODUS does not and will not take an official stance on politics. That’s not what we are about!

    A few clarifications. My anecdote came from personal experience. It was in my experience with OUTPOST. While it’s true that OUTPOST became an EXODUS affiliate; OUTPOST did exist before it’s EXODUS involvement. In short, it means little whether EXODUS does not or will not take a stance. EXODUS does NOT speak for it’s individual affiliates; neither does it censor them. Are you suggesting it should?

    I don’t know about you but it really galls me when people speak publicly on my behalf and get me wrong. One of the principle freedoms I regained after leaving the ministry was to be able to speak and discuss my political views again. (It was the OUTPOST Board of Directors who established a ‘no politics’ policy.)

    Michael–

    I strongly believe that your position comes from your bias. Haven’t you said things to the effect of “I believe Exodus should stay out of politics, period!” So, first, I’d like to remind you that several weeks ago, it was you who said that we should acknowledge our bias up front and that you’d be a leader in this. I’ve now posted at least a half dozen times where I’ve said ‘this comes from my bias’ and haven’t noticed you do it once? Am I missing something?

    You bolded the words “we are a ministry“. I presume that you feel that being a ministry, EXODUS, or an individual minister involved (you didn’t separate out the individual statements that I specifically cited in my post in your rebuttal) is the reason to stay out of politics and to refrain from endorsing or criticizing political causes. Do I have that right? (Please answer this quietly to yourself before proceeding.)

    Pause….pause…pause.

    So, gay churches and ministries (MCC, Lutherans Concerned, etc.) should likewise refrain from any political connections and from endorsing or criticizing any political causes. Have you been addressing this with them as vigorously as you have been addressing Exodus? If not, why not?

  • concerned

    Eddy,

    Am I the only one that sees such a hypocracy in someone saying Exodus should stay out of politics while gay activists or other progay groups are all about political influence. I would agree Eddy, groups like MCC, Lutherans Concerned, Dignity, should remain out of politics as much as they are insisting that Exodus backs off. Individuals who belong to such groups may have opinions on a number of issues but they can only speak for themselves. When such faith based groups attempt to influence or change the position of their representative institutions they are getting into political ground that is unacceptable and they do this all of the time. Just look at what is happening in the Anglican church today, it is being split apart by a very vocal political force that has only its own interest in mind. This is extremely sad and it has only damaged the faith community that both sides are claiming as their own.

  • Eddy

    Concerned–

    It sure smells like hypocrisy and bias to me. That’s why I’m anxiously awaiting the reply. I think if they felt that Exodus supported all of their causes and agendas, then the cry would be ‘Speak up. Speak up.” But it is fun to see the great stretches of logic they’ll go to to support the one and decry the other.

    If I were a betting man, I’d be willing to wager that if I get a response, this direct question will NOT be answered:

    Have you been addressing this with them as vigorously as you have been addressing Exodus? If not, why not?

    In fact, we’re about due for a personal attack on my motives for asking the question and a general rant about past political involvement mistakes.

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

    I’m gauging from the smiley face that you did catch that I was saying they weren’t opposites.

    Yes, I did. Your comment made me chuckle.

  • Eddy

    LOL. I thought so but wanted to make sure that our brevity didn’t confuse others. I certainly don’t want to be branded as someone who thinks that homosexuality and holiness are true opposites…it wouldn’t speak well of my personal theology or of my apprehension of the English language.

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

    I believe the answer to your question, N-M Stephen, is when enough of us give ourselves permission to play God. Many have crossed that threshold and see not one iota wrong with it. I see plenty wrong with it, however.

    Debbie,

    Please realize that you are making a serious accusation. And please also realize that this is an accusation that could as easily be directed back at you.

    Stephen was not speaking of guilt, of accomodation, or of watering down or ignoring Scripture. He certainly was not speaking of playing God. Rather, he noted that many Christians are finding through serious study and careful prayer that God is bringing them to a different conclusion about a handful of scriptures than you think He should.

    Do be careful, Debbie, that you not seek to usurp the roll of the Holy Spirit and declare that it is you, not He, that guide the direction of the faithful. Be careful not to assume that those who conclude differently than you are just victims of a cultural shift, a PR campaign, or scriptural illiteracy and that it is you that know the true meaning of Scripture and God’s intent for individuals.

    To do so is, indeed, to play God.

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

    You bolded the words “we are a ministry“. I presume that you feel that being a ministry, EXODUS, or an individual minister involved (you didn’t separate out the individual statements that I specifically cited in my post in your rebuttal) is the reason to stay out of politics and to refrain from endorsing or criticizing political causes. Do I have that right? (Please answer this quietly to yourself before proceeding.)

    Pause….pause…pause.

    So, gay churches and ministries (MCC, Lutherans Concerned, etc.) should likewise refrain from any political connections and from endorsing or criticizing any political causes.

    I do not believe that churches and ministries must, by definition, stay out of politics. After all, many social justice movements were born, nurtured, and conducted from within the body of faith.

    I don’t think that Exodus should – out of some moral obligation – avoid all politics. But I think that it cannot effectively be both an anti-gay advocacy organization and also an outreach to gay and lesbian persons. That’s pretty intuitive and I suspect that deep down most of us probably agree.

    One priority will rise above the other.

    It is my impression that during this decade Exodus International – the umbrella group – has placed a great deal of priority in political efforts. As a consequence, many gay people see them not as a ministry to those who wish to live a life based on values but rather as a political group whose every utterance is couched so as to harm the lives and freedoms of gay men and women.

    They are suspect. And if we’re honest we’ll recognize that the suspicion has been earned.

    I do not think that the same is necessarily true of individual ministries. It is my impression that ministries – especially the smaller ones – are more interested in the spiritual lives of their clients. While they may be politically anti-gay individually, they can see first hand that being perceived as homophobic builds a wall that many people have no interest in scaling.

    I’ve spoken to more than one head of individual ministry that wishes that Exodus would drop politics altogether.

    And eventually, I think Exodus is going to have to choose: will they be ex-gay so as to testify against gay civil rights, or will they be ex-gay so as to provide moral guidance to those who wish to live in accordance with their own religious values.

  • Eddy

    Rather, he noted that many Christians are finding through serious study and careful prayer that God is bringing them to a different conclusion about a handful of scriptures than you think He should.

    Actually, Timothy, Steven did not say anything about serious study or careful prayer. In fact, he didn’t even indicate whether the study was of the Bible or of something else like psychology or culture. He cited scholars that argue that the scriptures are vague before making his very general statement re ‘pastors and church leaders stating that they have become convinced through prayer and study that homosexuality is not a problem’. I actually found it interesting that the word ‘study’ was not clarified as either ‘Bible study’, ‘study of the Bible’, or perhaps even ‘linguistic or cultural study’.

    What NMSteven actually said:

    I’m wondering why, with so many scholars now arguing that the scriptures are very vague about homosexuality, with so many pastors and church leaders stating that they have become convinced through prayer and study that homosexuality is not a problem

    I believe that Debbie has been very clear to her bias. Those who accuse her of the dangers of intolerance or of presuming that she’s right need to recognize their own potential for intolerance and their own presumption that they are right. Many of us see very clear examples of it right here quite frequently.

  • Eddy

    Timothy–

    The post that Michael responded to was one where I cited a very specific personal quandary. He globalized his response to ” ‘EXODUS’ should.”

    I feel this skirted the real issue somewhat just as I feel that your answer skirted the issue of bias somewhat. The demand that ‘EXODUS get out of politics’ comes up frequently on this blog. Some of the criticisms I recall were of statements Alan Chambers made on his personal blog.

    So, please, let’s clear the waters. Should EXODUS feel as free to engage in political speech or involvement as any gay church or ministry? Should individuals known to be a part of EXODUS feel free to engage in political speech or involvement? When I suggested that they could as long as they declared that they were not speaking on EXODUS behalf, I got Michael’s response that seemed to indicate that silence was in order for all. I feel like I’m asking very direct questions but the answers go loop de loop.

    Should EXODUS feel as free to engage in political speech or involvement as any gay church or ministry? (Please begin your answer with ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘maybe’)

    Should individuals known to be a part of EXODUS feel free to engage in political speech or involvement? (Please begin your answer with ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘maybe’)

    And while I do appreciate your response, it was Michael who offered rebuttal to my answer and it’s also Michael who seems to bring up EXODUS and politics most often…so this question to Michael still stands:

    Have you been addressing this with them as vigorously as you have been addressing Exodus? If not, why not?

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

    True.

    “Serious” study and “careful” prayer were my words.

    If it clarifies, the 2008 Clergy Voices Survey found that 45% of mainline clergy report that their theology has become more supportive of gays and lesbians than 10 years ago (14% were less supportive).

    Among clergy who reported becoming more liberal on gay and lesbian issues, the top factors they cited as being very or extremely important to this change were discernment through prayer and reflection (66%), having a friend, congregant or colleague who is gay or lesbian (58%), and additional Bible study (55%).

    So while culture does play a role, it appears that it sparks more prayer and reflection and additional Bible study.

    The clergy surveyed were the more “mainstream Christian” (liberal) churches: United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, The Christain Church (Disciples of Christ), Presbyterian (PCUSA), Lutheran (ECLA), Methodist (UMC), and the American Baptist Church. These are the ministers that Debbie has accused of feeling guilty because of a growing and effective PR campaign and being no longer are literate in their own Scriptures, they are capable of being deceived and so they give themselves permission to play God.

  • SharkNo1

    Debbie wrote:

    Paul wrote to the church at Colossi, “See that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world rather than according to Christ” (2 Col. 2:8).

    Paul did a great job, because he never met Jesus Christ in person. Neither did Ireneus, Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius and other notable figures in early Christianity who built a cleansed canon of Christian gospels (see Clement’s famous letter to Theodore) and history. They helped nudge the early texts toward an ethical understanding of the Christic messages, because the masses weren’t spiritually prepared to understand the “mystery of the kingdom of God.” All this happened on the background of a collapsing Roman Empire. (Coincidentally, this debate on change in sexuality takes place on the background of a number of global crises.)

    This is what Clement wrote about some ambiguous passages from an early gospel, that could be misunderstood by those given to carnal sins:

    To them, therefore, as I said above, one must never give way; nor, when they put forward their falsifications, should one concede that the secret Gospel is by Mark, but should even deny it on oath.

    My translation — the gospel was written by Mark, but it’s better to tell a lie even under oath than let people become acquainted with it. Because people could understand according to their carnal nature and –

    “Not all true things are to be said to all men.”

    So Jesus did some things that Clement thought ordinary people shouldn’t know, because they aren’t spiritually prepared for them and they could understand according to their lustful side. Then Paul from the quote you provided said that people should follow the tradition according to Christ. But they were the ones who established that tradition, not Jesus Christ in person. So what he says is, follow the tradition of Jesus Christ, as we wrote it and reported it.

    An example provided by Clement, one of the early Church fathers, describes how it was practically done:

    As for Mark, then, during Peter’s stay in Rome he wrote an account of the Lord’s doings, not, however, declaring all of them, nor yet hinting at the secret ones, but selecting what he thought most useful for increasing the faith of those who were being instructed.

    RE: the discussion on ordinary language and intersubjectivity on spiritual and sexual topics. No wonder people are confused about what the CHristian tradition says about sex, because the official version of the canonical texts was made so that ordinary people would only hear what they were supposed to, and not the truth that they could filter through their sexual inclinations. It seems the early church fathers were concerned with censoring some of Jesus teachings that could fall into that category. Too bad, because now people are even more confused and divided.

  • Eddy

    Whoa! I’m very very confused. Never been a statistician and math was my worst subject throughout my schooling.

    If it clarifies, the 2008 Clergy Voices Survey found that 45% of mainline clergy report that their theology has become more supportive of gays and lesbians than 10 years ago (14% were less supportive).

    Among clergy who reported becoming more liberal on gay and lesbian issues, the top factors they cited as being very or extremely important to this change were discernment through prayer and reflection (66%), having a friend, congregant or colleague who is gay or lesbian (58%), and additional Bible study (55%).

    1) 45% more supportive, 14% less supportive. That’s 59%. What can we presume if anything about the remaining 41%? That they stayed the same in their beliefs? Do we know what the split was on those who were for and those who were against?

    2) Of the 45% who went more supportive, we’ve got 179% responses. HUH? (66% prayer and reflection, 58% gay friend or colleague, 55% additional Bible study). I’m also intrigued that only ‘additional Bible study’ even hints at further theological consideration of ‘the verses’.

    Your comment could have done well without the snarky aside re Debbie at the end. Haven’t you made it once or twice already? (The person I referred to in my last response…nameless for blog purposes…I do send an occasional personal email saying ‘Let it go…you’ve said that already…let it go.’)

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

    @ Eddy:

    Instead, academic biblical scholarship and individual/group Bible study and prayer are becoming more important means for Christians to accept the inclusion of gays and lesbians…

    But I did use the term Bible study later in the post, and I certainly had that in mind when I was writing the earlier paragraph as well. In fact, I am frustrated with the number of gays and lesbians who turn to psychology for affirmation instead of allowing God to speak words of peace into their hearts.

    It is my firm belief–based on studying the scriptures, reading biblical scholarship and, yes, praying over the issues–that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality. And I believe that it is this argument–rather than the testimony of scientists–that needs to become most important for gays and lesbians growing up withing conservative churches.

    I am wary of the church turning to psychology or to other forms of spirituality to build a pro-gay theology. Let us allow God to show us through the scriptures and through God’s action in the world, using gays and lesbians in ministry, that homosexuality does not separate people from God.

    I hope that clarifies my position.

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

    Eddy,

    Let me clear the waters as to what I believe.

    Should EXODUS feel as free to engage in political speech or involvement as any gay church or ministry?

    That depends (yeah I know that isn’t a “yes” or a “no” but let me explain).

    From a practical point of view, if Exodus continues to be an anti-gay political action group, there’s no legal reason they can’t. But if they do so it will eventually kill their ability to reach any gay people – or even many young people of any orientation. I think we all know that. So “should” they? Not if they want to exist.

    Secondarily, if Exodus wants to testify as to their religious faith – like any gay church – then that’s something I wouldn’t necessarily fault them on.

    But that isn’t what Exodus does.

    Truthfully, Eddy, you and I and everyone here knows that what Exodus does is stand up and say things like, “No one has to be gay. Homosexuality can be overcome. I’ve found freedom in Christ. Which is why you should vote against marriage or hate crimes or whatever it is.”

    They don’t say, “I live celibately so the government should demand that all gay people be celibate.” Do they? Nor do they clarify what they mean by “be gay”, “overcome”, “change”, or “freedom.”

    So it’s not quite the same thing. Gay churches give their religous or moral or civil views, and Exodus presents testimony about the mutability of orientation. One is claiming faith, the other is claiming fact – and fact, I might add, that is based in misunderstanding.

    We’ve all heard politicians that say that they oppose marriage because gay people can change. They can overcome their homosexuality and marry someone of the opposite sex. Where do they get that idea?

    I might not object as much to Exodus’ political activism if it wasn’t tied to misperception.

    And besides, when it really comes down to it, there is no moral equivalency between arguing for civil rights and arguing against them. So “should” Exodus argue against equality? No. No one who calls themself a child of God should.

    Should individuals known to be a part of EXODUS feel free to engage in political speech or involvement? When I suggested that they could as long as they declared that they were not speaking on EXODUS behalf, I got Michael’s response that seemed to indicate that silence was in order for all.

    No one sees the difference. When the Steve Jobs speaks, it is never as “an individual”. It’s always a reflection on his company. It’s the same with Exodus.

    When Don Schmeirer went to Uganda as part of the seminar that encouraged harsher punishment for gays, it wasn’t possible to extricate himself from the fact that he’s on Exodus’ Board. While Alan said he was there “as an individual”, he was introduced as an Exodus Board Member and that was the authority he spoke under. And the new law that Uganda is voting on this week to make it illegal to even advocate for gays is a direct consequence of this anti-gay push and thus a direct reflection on Exodus.

    So, no. Exodus doesn’t get a special exclusion whereby their leaders get to be treated unlike anyone else and we all pretend that they speak only for themselves.

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

    Eddy

    1) Yes, the remained hadn’t shifted.

    2) It’s not exclusive. That’s the percentage that said this was a factor.

    The full study is found here

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

    Eddy,

    Sorry for the double post. But prayer also is a theological consideration.

    Some people come to a different understanding on a scripture (any scripture) because they study original texts or compare to other scriptures. Others seek God’s direction in prayer as to how to understand a passage. Some will discuss it with theologians. Some will seek evidence of God’s meaning in the real world. Some will try and see how the church has been led on other sticky issues historically.

    All of these are legitimate efforts to understand God’s revelation through the Word.

    Wouldn’t you agree?

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

    Do be careful, Debbie, that you not seek to usurp the roll of the Holy Spirit and declare that it is you, not He, that guide the direction of the faithful. Be careful not to assume that those who conclude differently than you are just victims of a cultural shift, a PR campaign, or scriptural illiteracy and that it is you that know the true meaning of Scripture and God’s intent for individuals.

    To do so is, indeed, to play God.

    Oh, please, Timothy. Dislike me all you want. It’s OK. Just be intellectually honest.

  • Michael Bussee

    Eddy:

    I have thought and prayed about this a lot over the past few days. I have changed my mind. EXODUS should do whatever EXODUS wants to do. Stay political if it wants to — or stick entirely to ministry — or a combination of both — or go in some completely new direction. So should any other group, gay or ex-gay, religious or non-religious.

    Use whatever language it wants. Stay invloved with NARTH — or not. Cite dubious science — or not. Use Christianese — or not. Promise orientation change, or the hope that it may happen for some — or for hardly anyone — or say it never happens. EXODUS should do whatever it feels called by God to do..

    Define or not define any term it pleases. Use”ex-gay”, “former homosexual” or any other term or phrase it pleases. Or use no terms at all.

    It doesn’t really matter to me anymore. I am tired of critcizing EXODUS — and I am sure they are mighty tired of me. And it is of no real value to anyone. It just keeps the animosity going. I think I will just stick to talking about my faith in God and sharing it with others who may not know Him.

    When all is said and done, EXODUS will do what EXODUS will do. I will not attack it anymore. Ex-gays have every right to do and say and believe whatever they please. I have no right to “demand” anything. It was wrong of me to push all these years. Please forgive. me.

    Thanks for the opportunity to share with all of you. The conversation has really made me think. Hope you all have a very good summer. Stay cool.

  • Michael Bussee

    I especially wanted to thank Eddy.

  • Eddy

    Dang, you’re leaving and my simple question remains unanswered.just as I suspected it would.

    Michael, there was enough snarkiness in your answer to indicate that prayer likely wasn’t the motivator for your response. YOU refuted my response re politics with nothing more than personal opinion and I challenged you on that.

    This is the paragraph that was particularly laden with snarkiness IMHO:

    Use whatever language it wants. Stay invloved with NARTH — or not. Cite dubious science — or not. Use Christianese — or not. Promise orientation change, or the hope that it may happen for some — or for hardly anyone — or say it never happens. EXODUS should do whatever it feels called by God to do

  • Michael Bussee

    No snarkiness intended. I really meant every word I said, above. EXODUS must do what EXODUS feels called to do. I just have better things to do. Think what you will. It doesn’t matter. Prayer is what has motivated this decision. God knows it was.

    As I prayed, I realized I was called, many years ago, to preach God’s love to gays and lesbians who may think that God doesn’t or couldn’t love them — not to criticize EXODUS.

    Now, back to the important work… :)

  • David Blakeslee

    “Mainline Protestant Theology” is a specific category of denominations. It implies, in its title that it includes a much larger group than it actually does.

    In this regard, the general public can be misled by labels, much as NARTH has.

    It is heavily weighed toward what they refer to as modernist theology.

    It is important to note that women in these denominations reflect the most ardent support for Marriage.

    Look closely at the paper, it is much more informative than any brief description we make here.

    Thanks for providing this Tim.

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

    As I prayed, I realized I was called, many years ago, to preach God’s love to gays and lesbians who may think that God doesn’t or couldn’t love them — not to criticize EXODUS.

    Michael, if you’re still reading this (you don’t have to feel compelled to comment if you don’t want to), I sat down Wednesday, after a very powerful prayer session of my own, and wrote a first draft of what I considered to be a divinely inspired mission and ministry statement for me. Here is one element of it:

    I must do all I can, aided by God’s power, to reach across the divide to those who believe the Church no longer wants them — the “least of these” in biblical terms — or who feel they are damaged goods or are angry at being rejected by hypocritical, judgmental or ignorant Christians.

    That statement applies to all “lepers” in the eyes of many in the Church, and not just the GLBT community. But, they are the larger focus for me, for obvious reasons.

    So, brother, it appears God may be speaking a similar message to both of us. What will He do with the fact that yours is more gay-affirming and mine is not? Is the love we feel in our hearts any less genuine? I doubt it.

    Remember that little revival moment we had on another thread here earlier in the summer? Was that real? Time will tell. Please do reach out to those who are hurting and lost. And bless you in your efforts. Remember that others also are praying for you.

  • David Blakeslee

    Problems with Mainline Protestant Clergy Views on Theology and Gay

    and Lesbian Issues: Findings from the 2008 Clergy Voices Survey

    We report these comparisons as “over?time comparisons” rather than “trends” because the denominational composition of the samples in the three surveys varied. The current CVS provided the

    most complete sample of Mainline clergy, including samples from each of the seven largest denominations: UMC, ELCA, PCUSA, ABCUSA, Episcopal, UCC and DOC (representing 77% of the Mainline Protestant population). The 2001 clergy survey included five denominations in the sample: UMC, ELCA,

    PCUSA, ABCUSA and DOC. The 1989 clergy survey included just three denominations: UMC, ELCA and PCUSA. While these samples are not directly comparable, each constitutes the best snapshot of Mainline

    Protestant clergy opinion for that time period.

  • David Blakeslee

    Does this make it Like NARTH?

    Public Religion Research LLC is a national strategic consulting firm that specializes in research and polling to help clients understand the complex ways religion and values shape American politics and public life. We specialize in turning research into strategic campaigns.

  • David Blakeslee

    More Political than Scientific:

    Previously, Dr. Jones served as an affiliated scholar at the Center for American Progress and as the founding director and senior fellow at the Center for American Values in Public Life at People for the American Way Foundation.

    This study is more of a white paper, by a politically driven consulting group….don’t you think so Timothy?

    The agenda is to create surveys which blurr distinctions in the public mind about what religious leaders believe. By blurring distinctions, while appearing scientific, they hope to pursuade others….

    This is what I thought we were fighting against in this blog.

  • Michael Bussee

    To Debbie:

    So, brother, it appears God may be speaking a similar message to both of us. What will He do with the fact that yours is more gay-affirming and mine is not? Is the love we feel in our hearts any less genuine? I doubt it.

    Me either. I think it is just as genuine. God knows our hearts.

    Remember that little revival moment we had on another thread here earlier in the summer? Was that real? Time will tell. Please do reach out to those who are hurting and lost. And bless you in your efforts. Remember that others also are praying for you.

    Thanks! think it was real. And, I think I am back on the right path now. The constant wrangling about EXODUS and change and words…. very frustrating and not very fruitful. Reaching out to the disenfranchised with God’s love? Much more likely to reap a good harvest.

    And God bless you,. too.

  • Ann

    Please do reach out to those who are hurting and lost.

    Is this with the caveat that they are established Christians and understand the vernacular that only those learned Christians speak and understand?

  • concerned

    Michael,

    Reaching out to others who are disenfranchised is commendable as long as we are allowing them to find the love of God and allow them to discern Gods will for themselves without us trying to influence the direction their live should go. Are we able to accept them whether they choose gay or ex-gay on their path to finding this relationship with God? Does Gods love mean that we do not challenge them if we see them doing destructive things to themselves (ie. promiscuity, drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc.) or do we just let them continue on their own path waiting for them to turn back? Just asking, I really do not know.

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

    Ann, we old evangelicals all likely know what is called “the Romans road.” That refers to some specific scripture references in the book/epistle of Romans (there are many more, of course) that are applicable to evangelizing or reaching out to others with the message of salvation and even sanctification. Some folks ask for this kind of help. There’s no better place to take them than to God’s Word (the Bible). We are not going to be doing this with people who are not open to the searching.

    Christian terminology may seem cloudy to many folks, but all the common terms we use are easily searchable online these days. Anyone who regularly visits an Internet blog likely also has the ability to use Google. Might help.

    Everybody has to start somewhere if they want to understand. All languages are confusing until we study them a bit.

  • Ann

    Christian terminology may seem cloudy to many folks, but all the common terms we use are easily searchable online these days. Anyone who regularly visits an Internet blog likely also has the ability to use Google. Might help.

    Everybody has to start somewhere if they want to understand. All languages are confusing until we study them a bit.

    Debbie,

    Again, I am not referring to myself – it is others that you call “outsiders” that I am trying to give a voice to. It is ok – I just don’t think we are on the same page with this, letting alone reading the same book. Where do you suggest a prostitute or orphan living on the streets or a homeless man get access to a computer and automatically know about google? Right now I am thanking God for all the people who do not consider themselves above bending down to those who need to be ministered to in a way that gives them hope and a foundation to go from.

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

    Ann,

    I like your point about the prostitutes, orphans and homeless folks. I wonder, when Jesus shared his meals with the hookers and IRS folks, if he spoke to them in Pharisee-speak, or if he found ways of communicating God’s love that didn’t rely on their knowing a set of vocabulary terms?

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

    Again, I am not referring to myself – it is others that you call “outsiders” that I am trying to give a voice to. It is ok – I just don’t think we are on the same page with this, letting alone reading the same book. Where do you suggest a prostitute or orphan living on the streets or a homeless man get access to a computer and automatically know about google? Right now I am thanking God for all the people who do not consider themselves above bending down to those who need to be ministered to in a way that gives them hope and a foundation to go from.

    Sigh. … Ann, I know you can do better than this at a response. We are not only not on the page in the book, we have yet to discover the writing instrument in this exchange, apparently.

    Frankly, I have no idea what you know or don’t know in the way of Christianspeak because you keep weaving in and out. If no one else here on this blog is concerned, why are you? Why must you keep bringing it up here?

    Do you honestly think I would refer an orphan on the streets to the Internet? I do resent your implying that I am “above” getting in the trenches with the least of these. Knock it off, please. You are confusing the issue.

    It’s Friday. I am so out of here. A pleasant weekend to all.

  • Mary

    Ann,Good points. There are many, many disenfranchised people who do not have access to the internet. Homeless families do not have the wherewithall to get it together to get to the library on any consistent basis -= let alone get anywhere on a consistent basis. As well, homeless people do not have adequate health care and/or counseling for the myriad of mental and heatlh issues they face daily.

  • Eddy

    Not sure what’s going on here. Ann, I’m as confused as Debbie about these repeated jibes about the verbage. I’ve seen her language become clearer…less infused with Christianese…and I do understand her point…people can ‘google’ it.

    The appeal to the homeless, etc. doesn’t make sense in this context. Debbie is saying these words that you object to right here on Warren’s internet blogsite. To be reading Debbie’s words and getting confused by them, one already has computer access and is savvy enough to have found Warren’s page.

  • Ann

    Debbie and Eddy,

    Ok, I will not address this any more unless someone wants me to. It is not in my character or motivation to further a discussion if it is not being received well. If I can clarify anything further, just let me know or read my original posts where I voiced a valid concern, not for myself – for others. My original intent was to identity what I know is a stumbling block for some who are thirsty for the message of Christ. I thought it would be understood and received in the manner I presented it. I thought it would be reasoned out, not told to “knock it off”. Perhaps I am off base and will respectfully ponder that possibility.

    Mary and non-methaphysical Stephan,

    Thank you for your responses and for understanding what I meant – both of you were right on target.

  • Michael Bussee

    To Concerned:

    Michael, Reaching out to others who are disenfranchised is commendable as long as we are allowing them to find the love of God and allow them to discern Gods will for themselves without us trying to influence the direction their live should go. Are we able to accept them whether they choose gay or ex-gay on their path to finding this relationship with God?

    I promise, with God’s help, that from now on, I will try not to dictate the direction they should go. I will tell my own story as truthfully and lovingly as I can — but but I will leave the influence and the direction to God.

    And, yes, I will try to accept them as they walk their path towards finding their deepest personal relationship to God. That’s between them and the Holy Spirit.

    I know it is going to be hard for everyone to believe, but I am done, done, done with criticizing EXODUS. It has never done any good. Im fact, I believe it was a complete waste of time. I apologize.

    EXODUS must do what EXODUS believes God wants it to do. EXODUS has every right to speak, believe and act in any way it chooses. I have promised to lay off — and I will keep that promise.

    Does Gods love mean that we do not challenge them if we see them doing destructive things to themselves (ie. promiscuity, drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc.) or do we just let them continue on their own path waiting for them to turn back? Just asking, I really do not know.

    No. I believe that we should, as lovingly as possible, point out when the “bridge is out” ahead. I do not think it would be loving to not warn fellow travelers of the dangers of promiscuity, drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc. We can warn, but we cannot direct their choices or live their lives. Unfortunately, some life lessons have to be learned the hard way…

  • concerned

    Michael,

    I could not agree with you more some of the hardest lessons are the ones that have the greatest impact on our lives, hopefully for the positive.

  • Michael Bussee

    Hello Ann. Wanted to respond to this:

    Ok, I will not address this any more unless someone wants me to. It is not in my character or motivation to further a discussion if it is not being received well… thought it would be understood and received in the manner I presented it. I thought it would be reasoned out, not told to “knock it off”. Perhaps I am off base and will respectfully ponder that possibility

    .

    I know your heart is in the right place, but perhaps it best to just let these things drop. Let’s talk about happy things. How was your day? Any plans for the weekend?

  • Ann

    Hi Michael,

    I wrote that to Debbie and Eddy – two people I respect – because I realized I was not being effective and that perhaps the timing was not propicious to continue.

    Regarding my plans for today – I am out of town visiting a friend :-) and am going to New Orleans for the day. Can you hear “When the Saints Come Marching In”?

    I hope you and everyone else here has a wonderful and peaceful day.

  • Michael Bussee

    Ann: I think I have had the same realization that I was “not being effective and that perhaps the timing was not propicious to continue.” That’s why I stopped. I know there must be more useful and more uplifting things to talk about. Maybe that’s the concensus we are reaching…

    Our church choir is off for the summer, so I am the soloist today — anthem and offeratory. It is a small but loving church. And, literally across the street from my house. After that, I hope to visits family and friends. It’s not like being straight, but I love them anyway. :)

    Enjoy your day. Love the Big Easy! I can hear those saints….

  • Michael Bussee

    This is the passage that hit me, from the 4th Chapter of Ephesians:

    Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption.

    Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

    Hope you all have a blessed day! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpTSPFoGO-w&feature=related

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

    David Blakeslee,

    I appologize for not responding to the questions you have addressed to me. I am choosing to disengage for a time and will not be participating in the conversation here at this site.

  • Michael Bussee

    I am choosing to disengage for a time and will not be participating in the conversation here at this site

    .

    Tim, it seems like several of us are disengaging. Might get mighty quiet around Throck for awhile. Fewer of us to stir the pot.

    This seems similar to Ann’s comment:

    I realized I was not being effective and that perhaps the timing was not propicious to continue.

    And similiar to what I have been feeling. You start to question your use of time and energy. Is it time to add it up and take account of the things where we do agree? Is it tIme for concensus? Or have we gone about as far as we can go with this?

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Timothy,

    No problem…I just think that if I scanned the article correctly, it is a piece of advocacy masquerading as science,,,

    As I said earlier…I thought we were trying to avoid that kind of misinformation.


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