Desert Stream Ministries Outlines Differences with Exodus

In an email this morning, Andy Comiskey delineates the differences between Desert Stream Ministries and Exodus.  They are:

A different view of the consequences of sexual sin. Whereas Exodus believes that practicing ‘gay’ Christians may well inherit the Kingdom of heaven, we beg to differ. We believe that Christ followers must reckon with homosexual behavior as a serious betrayal of their humanity and spirituality, and repent of it in order to be assured of salvation.

A different expectation of change for same-sex strugglers. Though we agree with Exodus’ desire to more accurately define ‘change’ for those with SSA, Exodus now appears tentative and unclear as to the degree to which the same-sex attracted will experience change at all in their sexuality. We believe that Jesus brings change to every Christian with SSA who seeks Him whole-heartedly. He cannot help it. Jesus is our Creator and Redeemer who made us to represent Him in our gender and sexual selves. He places such a high premium upon sexual integrity that He acts incisively to redeem our sexual disintegration. Jesus frees every repentant heart to resume the journey toward wholeness.

A different theological anthropology. Desert Stream Ministries anchors our understanding of the ‘new creation’ in the truth that we are created in God’s image as male and female. That means that every same-sex struggler who follows Jesus is reconciled to his/her capacity to be a good offering to the opposite gender. We recognize that each soul differs in how they will live out that calling. Yet differing levels of progression in mature heterosexual relating don’t change one’s capability in Christ to resume that journey. Exodus advocates the noble goal of holiness, yet offers insufficient clarity as to what sexual wholeness means for those with SSA.

A different reliance upon reparative psychology. Exodus recently broke ties with ‘reparative therapy’, a broad school of thought developed by theorists and therapists who view same-sex attraction as a symptom of the breakdown in whole gender development. While Desert Stream Ministries is founded on theological, not psychological values, we rely upon reparative insights to understand what is blocked or missing in our souls. These keys help guide our pursuit of Jesus and His community to secure what we need in order to proceed onto wholeness.

A different reliance upon moral effort in becoming whole. Exodus appears to hold a comparatively passive understanding of sanctification; we believe that hard moral effort, inspired by grace, is essential in progressing into maturity. Our morality becomes beautiful as we engage actively in the spiritual and psychological disciplines that enable us to become mature Christians.

A different approach to ‘gay’ Christians. Exodus seems intent on building bridges with practicing ‘gay’ Christians. We believe that God wants only the best for all people, including practicing homosexuals. In His love, we fight for their repentance. However, we disagree with making peace with Christians who advocate homosexual practice; to us, these are false teachers who are guilty of leading others into darkness, an offense worse than Christians caught in sin who know it.

Many people outside of the evangelical world may see little distinction between Exodus and Restored Hope. However, as Comiskey’s note makes clear, the differences are large within this world.

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  • Lynn David

    Yes, I am outside the Evangelical world. But it seems to me he is creating a difference by falsely representing some of Exodus’ views.

  • Richard Willmer

    Or maybe Exodus really HAS changed, and this ‘pea-shooting’ by Desert Stream is an indication of change on Exodus’s part.

    From above: “That means that every same-sex struggler who follows Jesus is reconciled to his/her capacity to be a good offering to the opposite gender.”

    What utter nonsense is that?! Aren’t some Christians called to be celibate?

  • Richard Willmer

    Talking of being ‘a good offering to the opposite gender [sic]‘, many woman greatly enjoy the friendship of gay men. Isn’t the offering the friendship a valuable thing in its own right?! (I certainly think so!)

  • Teresa

    Richard, I’m becoming convinced that RHN does not value celibacy for anyone, let alone persons with same sex attractions trying to live in harmony with their faith beliefs. Someone, please, correct me here if I’m wrong, but I believe all the Founders and Board of Directors of RHN are married.

    I believe this comes from the Protestant history of devaluing singleness devoted to God. There are, of course, exceptions to this, as witness the Anglicans; however, by and large, attempting holiness in a single state is not something really appreciated by our culture, in general; and, certainly not by RHN, although, they’ll deny this.

    I certainly appreciate Alan Chamber, and Exodus in general (I hope) that states that ‘change’ is not about going from gay to str8; whatever, that means … but, attempting to live a holy life … however, that plays out.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Teresa

    What you say makes sense.

    As for Alan Chambers: I believe, especially in the light of what is now being said by ‘rival’ organizations, he is genuinely trying to ‘think outside the box’ in which he once was; this is surely a good thing – involving as it does real enquiry and soul-searching.

  • Michael Bussee

    I keep wondering how Joe Dallas can be part of Exodus and RHN — considering that leaders of RHN have accused Alan Chambers of poor leadership and doctrinal heresy. Pehaps Mr. Dallas is hoping both organizations will send him clients and sell his books.

  • Michael Bussee

    I keep wondering how Joe Dallas can reconcile being part of Exodus and Restored Hope Network — considering that leaders of RHN have accused Alan Chambers of poor leadership and doctrinal heresy. Perhaps Mr. Dallas hopes that both organzations will send him paying clients and continue to promote and sell his books.

  • Michael Bussee

    Change means becoming “a good offering to the opposite gender”?

    Wow. Sounds like some wierd, cultic sacrifice, not genuine attraction, romance or love.

  • Murray Downie

    What rubbish some of these people write.How pharasitical …that they put themselves above others that God has created…..Each one of us is unique and as David said in Psalm 139 God knew us before we were born. he knit us together in our mothers womb..He knew our lives and the way they would go…..I am unique as each of us..and made in his likeness…..SSA is not a learned thing Many like myself have never been attracted to the opposite sex.. I cannott live a lie and as in Gods word it is stated that liers will not enter the kingdom…..I know that Jesus wants us to believe in him..John 3:16 The word Whoever is whom Jesus said would be saved… No exclusions……As to “Being given as an offering to the oposite sex. stop their SSA attraction..What rubbish That person would be living a lie.. You might stop acts committed by SSA but what about the roving eye..The mind is part of that creation which is God given…..I am sure and I know that Married SSA people still have the roving eye and they lust in their mind when seeing another of their sex that the like.. Does not Jesus say that a man that lusts for someone other than their spouse has already committed adultery…..I know also that those that have come under peer pressure to marry have advised that they live in dread of slipping……I feel so much for the spouse The torment that she or he must be in not knowing if their partner would revert….God did not expect us to live under a mantle of Guilt as thes people seem to want……I smiled as there was a advert on this page covering a book ” Bullycide ” These people have a lot to account for in their bullying and it is known that many peole put in their care have ended commiting suicide…..Remember we all eventall will have to stand before the Great Judge…….If I am wrong it is between myself and God not myself and man……All i want to do is show Gods unconditional love to others….Is it wrong to do that… It is the holy spirit with in that does the convicting of wrongs not man.. Remember we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

  • David M.

    So what if a person is born with man-parts and woman-parts. What’s the opposite of that?

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Michael – Well put! It really is a most odd statement, and a rather creepy one too.

  • Gus

    “We believe that Jesus brings change to every Christian with SSA who seeks Him whole-heartedly.”

    Translation: When you fail it is not OUR fault.

  • David M.

    I regret the way I phrased my earlier post. It might come across as flip, as not taking sexual variations seriously. That’s the opposite of my intention. The way Andy Comiskey phrased his email doesn’t even correspond to reality. The idea that we are all born either male or female and that all of us are somehow innately heterosexual is preposterous to me. I was trying to point out the absurdity of his language, and his simplistic ideas.

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

    All – I was struck by the phrase “good offering to the opposite gender” too. I think people become unclear the farther away from the point of Christianity they get. Christianity is about the drama of redemption, not making sure every boy gets a girl.

    To me, this statement of faith elevates heterosexual compatibility over grace and redemption. It makes heterosexuality a measure of one’s spiritual depth and relationship with God.

    This mindset once (and may still be in some quarters) permeated Exodus. I recall speaking at an ex-gay event where I talked about the research on sexual orientation change. I am sure it seemed discouraging to the crowd, many of whom would be at home in the new Restored Hope Network. One man asked the question: “If a relationship with Christ can’t change your orientation, then why would anyone want to be a Christian?” I am pretty sure he meant, why would a SSA person want to be a Christian, but his frustration with my speech came out in that absolute manner. There is a viewpoint (Joel Osteen – Your Best Life NOW) within Christianity that a relationship with Christ is only good for the benefits it brings to my life now — more money, more influence, better kids, better marriage, and in this case – sexual orientation change. Without the benefit now, then why would anyone want it.

    Back to the “good offering” business, this gets too close to Unification theology for me. In that view, the reason Sun Myung Moon had to be the third Adam was because Adam and Eve failed (dang serpent), and Christ failed (dang crucifixion) to institute the perfect heterosexual family on earth. The Moons, as True Parents, stepped forward to fulfill the Messianic duty. This is “every boy gets a girl” as the purpose of life at the extreme and I am not calling Comiskey a Unificationist, but I think there is value in pointing out how close to redemptive this statement of faith makes opposite sex pairing.

  • William

    @ Teresa:

    I think that this lot DO value celibacy, but as second best; in other words, something that should be accepted and welcomed on the principle of not making the perfect the enemy of the good. But I suspect that the ultimate aim, the ideal towards which they strive even if it may never be achieved in this world, is to have every gay/lesbian person sooner or later permanently shacked up with someone of the sex to which he/she has no sexual attraction.

    @ Warren:

    “To me, this statement of faith elevates heterosexual compatibility over grace and redemption. It makes heterosexuality a measure of one’s spiritual depth and relationship with God.”

    Perhaps this could be summed up as: “Faith, hope and heterosexuality. And the greatest of these is heterosexuality.”

  • Ann

    All – I was struck by the phrase “good offering to the opposite gender” too.

    Perhaps this does not refer to sex. Perhaps there are men in marriages where sex is not the priority, yet being a good husband is. Being a good husband or good offering to the opposite gender can include a myriad of qualities other than sex.

  • Teresa

    Excellent point, Ann. But, what about those of us who are not married; and, can never achieve marriage because God has something else in mind for us … equally as good, if not better, in many cases?

    RHN, in my opinion only, does not value celibacy … even as second-best, as William thinks. They don’t seem to be able to wrap their heads around being ‘single and chaste’ as quite a spectacular calling. I believe, again my opinion, they see singleness for persons with same sex attractions as ‘copping out of full healing’. I think they fail to realize that a “good offering to the opposite gender” can be truly part of a single life in many ways.

    Actually, as Christians we make of ourselves “a good offering” to Our Lord … in any way He sees as our best.

  • Richard Willmer

    Maybe some people are just supposed to be “good offerings to the same gender [sic]” … whatever that might mean?

    (By the way, I assume that Comiskey meant ‘sex’ rather than ‘gender’ … but never mind. I think what he meant is clear … or, then again, is it?)

  • http://exgaywatch.com Emily K

    Warren – don’t forget, ex-gay “guru” Richard Cohen is a Unificationist.

  • Michael Bussee

    “Being a good husband or good offering to the opposite gender can include a myriad of qualities other than sex.”

    True enough, Ann. But when a man CAN’T feel that sort of attraction to his wife — and she senses it — it can be very painful and destructive for both. Both ending up feeling inadequate in some way. I know from personal experience. She deserved a heterosexual man.

  • David M.

    Michael, I share your experience. After 23 years in a heterosexual marriage I realized I would never be able to love her in the way she deserves and needs to be loved, that is, in the way marriage requires me to love her.

  • Ann

    But, what about those of us who are not married; and, can never achieve marriage because God has something else in mind for us … equally as good, if not better, in many cases?

    Teresa,

    Celibacy is to be valued as is the person who is celibate. One does not have to be married or coupled, whether they are same sex attracted or not, to live a very valuable life and be happy and content. Often it is the preference to be a single person being fully connected with a life chosen that will bring out the best in them. Others have their opinion and that is all it is – an opinion. Do you think anyone ever thought Jesus should be married or coupled? If so, did their opinion change what He valued most and how He lived His life according to those values? If one is not a Christian, it is still a good example of how awesome a single life can be if lived according to one’s values.

    Just because another might have a standard they want to impose on us, does not make it right.

  • Ann

    Actually, as Christians we make of ourselves “a good offering” to Our Lord … in any way He sees as our best.

    Teresa,

    Awesome!

    When we can come to this level of understanding, and do it with a humble and authentic surrender, we can then have a lot of things to look forward to.

  • Ann

    But when a man CAN’T feel that sort of attraction to his wife — and she senses it — it can be very painful and destructive for both

    Michael Bussee,

    Right – and if this kind of marriage was entered into based on these expectations that either person knows cannot be met, at least to the degree the other person is expecting, then a marriage with this kind of pressure is probably not a good idea. When a marriage or other coupling is entered into with a clear understanding of what the expectations are, and are not, and a mature and authentic decision is made based on those realities, then all the other reasons for two people making the personal decision to be a couple will have a much better chance of working . Mainly because pressure is off to meet an expectation they do not feel comfortable with and knowing the other person is genuinely ok with that.

  • David M.

    Ann, I don’t agree. Before my former wife and I married in the early ’80s, I told her that I dealt with a distraction toward guys, and that I did not know what that would mean for our marriage. We were both attending a Christian college, and frankly, the evangelical community at the time did not understand homosexuality very well at all. So technically, I suppose I met your criteria. I informed my wife-to-be and she still married me. But over the years of our marriage, I watched her shrivel as a person. And my homosexuality could not be simply put into a locked closet. It came out, it had to come out, in certain ways, the most offensive to my wife being my use of pornography. (The shadow will always get you.) For the most part, I could not make love to her without thinking of men — which meant that in lovemaking, I was not as attentive to her as I needed to be. Further, I was feeling like a failure to her because I could never give my whole self to her. My sexuality simply would not bend to the good-faith commitment I had made. I was always desiring something else, someone else. I could not “keep myself only unto her.” It wasn’t possible.

    My belief is that, however sensitively one may try to work out expectations, marriage itself has expectations. Call them cultural, call them religious, call them God-given. It doesn’t matter. Marriage means certain things. And one can never foresee all the implications of such a commitment, or what the commitment may require 10 or 20 years in.

    A mixed-orientation marriage is simply a lie. As much as I cried, prayed, fasted, did therapy, and all the rest, I could not give my sexuality to my wife and keep myself only unto her. I don’t believe any truly gay man can do that with a woman. His sexuality can’t be twisted in that direction over the long term. Eventually, something has to snap.

  • Richard Willmer

    I think I understand Ann’s point about a ‘marriage based on a certain understanding’, but we must not forget that the Christian concept of Marriage includes consummation. Obviously, all marriages, whether or not they have consummated, must be respected, and the commitment one to another celebrated, but consummation is still, in the eyes of the Church, considered ‘part of the deal’. (An interesting aside: there are, I believe, just two legal differences between Civil Marriages and [same sex] Civil Partnerships in the UK: (1) a Civil Partnership – unlike a Civil Marriage – ceremony is not open to the general public; (2) a Civil Partnership, unlike a Civil Marriage, cannot be dissolved [unless by mutual agreement] on the grounds of non-consummation alone [i.e. something else, e.g. 'unreasonable behaviour', must additionally be cited]. I mention this aside to show that, even in UK civil laws, the issue of consummation features. Whether this should be so is a matter for debate, and there is such a debate taking place in the UK right now.)

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    @David M – very good points about those of us who are Intersex.

    On another topic, I was led to believe that sex outside marriage was wrong. Not (just) because some “Holy Book” said so, but on very pragmatic grounds. It can lead to hurting others.

    No distinction was made between pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, or any sex whatsoever outside of marriage. Single people who had never married were supposed to be virgins. Those not currently married, celibate.

    I’ve had a mountain of evidence showing that this view doesn’t correspond with reality very well. It does correspond with what is preached from pulpits, but in practice, I doubt it applies to even 10% of the community. And that means the whole shibboleth of Christian belief regarding sex is hypocrisy, morally bankrupt.

  • Teresa

    Zoe said:

    Single people who had never married were supposed to be virgins. Those not currently married, celibate.

    I’ve had a mountain of evidence showing that this view doesn’t correspond with reality very well. It does correspond with what is preached from pulpits, but in practice, I doubt it applies to even 10% of the community.

    Using what former President Bill Clinton stated: it depends on what your definition of “is” is. I’m assuming, Zoe, you’re including “sex with self” as sex?

    The definition of ‘sex’ within the current generation has morphed considerably, so that now it only includes “the real deal” … quite a bastardized definition, in my opinion.

    Zoe again:

    And that means the whole shibboleth of Christian belief regarding sex is hypocrisy, morally bankrupt.

    Zoe, do numbers determine morality, truth or scientific truth? I don’t think I understand your conclusion, Zoe, regarding the Christian belief on sex and its believers behavior. Why is it hypocritical?

  • Ann

    Before my former wife and I married in the early ’80s, I told her that I dealt with a distraction toward guys, and that I did not know what that would mean for our marriage

    David M,

    Thanks for your comment – I do understand your position and agree with you except for the above statement. When it is known that there is a same sex attraction element included in a opposite sex marriage or other coupling, then that must be part of the understanding. As to how it will directly affect the marriage or other coupling must also be included in the decision. When you say you did not know what that would mean for your marriage, then I am not sure what the expection was except that you did not know, which is honorable in itself as you were being truthful. My point is that I think a marriage or coupling has a much better chance of working if both people involved make the decision together based on what they know can be expected and what cannot. More importantly, what they can agree on as far as what they both want together and if that is realistic or not. People are together for their own motivations, and if those motivations are genuine and bring out the best in each other, then it is a very good thing.

  • Ann

    but we must not forget that the Christian concept of Marriage includes consummation.

    Richard,

    Yes, I believe this is correct, although, I am not sure because there are so many differing Christian beliefs at any given time. How would it be handled if a soldier returned from Afghanistan severly wounded and he and his finance had planned a wedding prior to his deployment – would the church consider their desire to still get married valid even thought it was obvious they would not be able to consumate this marriage in the way the church wanted?

  • Richard Willmer

    Ann

    The example you cite involves a couple who intended to consummate their marriage, but were not able to do so because of the prospective husband’s wounds.

    My concern would relate in particular to Christians advising Holy Matrimony for people who, because of who they are, do not, and would never, desire ‘consummation’. There must be serious theological and/or philosophical flaws here, mustn’t there? (When it comes to civil law, I might regard marriages and civil partnerships more as ‘contracts’, but Holy Matrimony is sacramental and covenantal in nature, and [at least the desire for] consummation is an integral part of that sacramental / covenantal character.)

  • Ann

    Richard Willmer,

    I defer to your knowledgment on this as it makes sense.

    I do not think any religious organization should be advising anyone on anything. They can offer their beliefs, however, unless someone has those same beliefs, whether they come natural or are motivated by discipline, then it will not matter what anyone tells them.

  • David M.

    Ann, Richard, et al,

    As a matter of civil law, I believe a marriage entered into without consummation and without intent to consummate would be considered a fraud, at least in the US. The two persons would be taking advantage of tax law that favors married couples. Socially, it would be considered a sham. Theologically, wow, I’m not sure it would qualify as a legitimate marriage.

    As for the scenario Ann proposes, out of compassion, people might make an exception, and as Richard has pointed out there is a sincere intention to consumate. But an exception in a compassionable case does not provide warrant for changing the meaning of marriage. (And if one says that homosexuality is a handicap or impairment, in what sense could this possibly be true? It is not a psychological illness.)

    But my basic question still stands: Is it legitimate/wise/advisable for a man to enter into a covenant with a woman “to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of matrimony… and forsaking all others, keep [himself[ only unto her, so long as [they] both shall live”? There are several problems here: 1) the ordinance referred to, what some would consider a sacrament, necessarily implies the acting out of a physical union; 2) a gay man cannot give up his affectional and sexual preference for men. The promise to forsake all others and keep himself only unto her may not be one he is truly free to make, and for a marriage to be valid, it must be entered into freely. I am not arguing here that we must act on our desires. I am arguing that the giving of oneself to the other implied by these words is not something a gay man can offer a woman. He is not capable of such a gift, any more than a straight man could give himself, sexuality and all, completely to another man. The unchangable desire of a gay man to be with another man is a serious impediment to living out the role of Christ toward this woman, laying down his life for her, as Paul says.

  • David M.

    Correction: “Is it legitimage/wise/advisable for a GAY man…”

  • David M.

    Ann, yes we know more now about homosexuality than we did in 1983, but there seems still to be a great deal we don’t know. How much knowledge, you you think, is enough to make the marriage advisable?

  • David M.

    Final comment for now: Ann, I do not agree that “any religious organization should [not] be advising anyone on anything.” I really am trying to imagine where you are coming from on this. If a person, for instance, is a Christian, they have committed to live their whole lives in a way that conforms to the teaching and spirit of Christ. Beliefs matter. The church is definitely in a place to advise its members on all kinds of matters — theological, ethical, etc. I would welcome your explaining your comment.

  • Ann

    yes we know more now about homosexuality than we did in 1983, but there seems still to be a great deal we don’t know.

    David M,

    Yes, this is so true. If more people would admit this instead of opining, it would be so much better in all ways.

    How much knowledge, you you think, is enough to make the marriage advisable?

    I am not sure anyone can say except the couple who are making this decision. This is for all situations – what can someone live with and what will they not live with. More important than this limitation is what do they want together and can this transcend and supercede any other circumstance. I think it can.

  • Ann

    If a person, for instance, is a Christian, they have committed to live their whole lives in a way that conforms to the teaching and spirit of Christ. Beliefs matter. The church is definitely in a place to advise its members on all kinds of matters — theological, ethical, etc.

    David M.

    In the scenario you present, I completely agree that the church should advise a couple. My comment was directed toward those individuals who do not seek out the advice of a church, yet the church offers their advice and, often, judgment.

  • Richard Willmer

    David M

    On that point of civil law you mention, you are correct as far as some states in the USA, and, I believe, the entire United Kingdom, are concerned. However, as I suggested above, there are plans to remove the legal requirement to consummate a civil marriage in the UK as (probably the most significant) part of the proposed changes in the law to bring about ‘marriage equality’.

    Perhaps the most ‘interesting’ aspect of the proposed changes in the UK might be the positions of the Church of England and the Scottish Presbyterians – the two de jure ‘state churches’ in the UK. (The Church in Wales was disestablished way back in 1920.)

  • David M.

    Ann, your comment about churches trying force their teachings on others is understandable, and well taken by me at least.

  • Richard Willmer

    I too understand Ann’s point here – a point that is perhaps very relevant with respect to the whole issue of ‘separation of Church and State’.

  • Ann

    David M.,

    I have been thinking about your earlier question regarding how much knowledge is needed to advise about marriage. I still stand by my response to this very important question and want to include this addendum – if there is any doubt or hesitation or pressure involved from either person that would impose an expectation that one does not want to meet in an authentic way, then I would stop and address those issues to see if they can be reasoned out in any decision that is being made between the two people.

  • Michael Bussee

    Ann said: “[If this] kind of marriage was entered into based on these expectations that either person knows cannot be met, at least to the degree the other person is expecting, then a marriage with this kind of pressure is probably not a good idea.”

    Totally agree. And yet, that is what these ministries encourage either directly or by showing off their marriages as proof of “change” — telling the couple to take that “step of faith” and assuring them that God will do a miracle IF they believe in Him deeply enough.

    When the man doesn’t “change”, it’s his fault (and to a certain extent his wife’s) when his orientation remains homosexual. I know. It happened to me. It happens to many couples.

    I grow weary of hearing the stories of the failures of these ill-advised mixed orientation marriages — and yet that’s what groups like Exodus and RHN hold out as a lure for people with “unwanted SSA”. Totally irresponsible, but it makes for good magazine covers, billboards and ads.

  • William

    Michael you would know more about this (I’ve never had any involvement with an ex-gay program, I’m glad to say), but I seem to remember reading that would-be ex-gays sometimes used to be urged to “seal their healing” by getting married. Is that correct?

  • David M.

    Why, though, would a gay man want to marry a woman (or a lesbian marry a man)? Let’s be honest. Usually the answer has to do with social pressure. Your family and friends all expect you to marry, heterosexually. Heterosexual marriage carries with it a certain social status. Mom wants grandkids. A man wants to be one of “the guys.” The religious group says it’s what a man or woman is supposed to do. Or maybe the person just can’t imagine a different path in life.

    Regardless of what the couple may agree on, I don’t think these reasons are good enough. I think they represent a fatal flaw in the foundation of a marriage. A marriage needs to be about the relationship between the two people, and in real life, mixed orientation marriages often have a lot of other reasons entering in, whether or not the gay person is consciously aware of them.

    The only situation I can conceive at this point when it might be a good thing is late in life when the paramount concern is companionship and mutual care. Then maybe. I’m still not sure.

  • Ann

    . And yet, that is what these ministries encourage either directly or by showing off their marriages as proof of “change” — telling the couple to take that “step of faith” and assuring them that God will do a miracle IF they believe in Him deeply enough.

    Michael Bussee,

    This might be the case, however, don’t you think some degree of personal responsibility is at play if someone believes them – like you did?

  • Michael Bussee

    Seriously Ann? Personal responsibility for a just barely 21 year old who has been brainwashed my his church to believe that he isn’t “really gay”, that he will go to Hell if he acts on his “SSA” and is told God will reward him with heterosexuality if only he has enough faith?

    How does a scared, guilt-ridden (and hopeful) gay young man who yearns to be “holy” and “normal” turn something like that down — especially when he is being promised by Church Leaders he trusts that the “miracle” will happen.

  • Michael Bussee

    David M. said it beautifully:

    “Let’s be honest. Usually the answer has to do with social pressure. Your family and friends all expect you to marry, heterosexually. Heterosexual marriage carries with it a certain social status. Mom wants grandkids. A man wants to be one of “the guys.” The religious group says it’s what a man or woman is supposed to do. Or maybe the person just can’t imagine a different path in life.”

    Personal responsibility seems to assume that the yong man in question had:

    (1) The mental and emotional resources to evaluate everything he was being told about “change” — accurate scientific information for example and not religiously motivated “junk science”.

    (2) That someone in a real position of “responsibility” was honest with him about the poor outcomes and high risks of SOCE and mixed-orientation marriages .

    (3) That he had other options available to him — for example good counseling, supportive family, healthy gay role models, a welcoming church community and being able to legally marry the person he was really in love with and attracted to.

  • David M.

    Michael, I know whereof you speak. The only book about gays I had read before I got married was Tim LaHaye’s The Unhappy Gays. Today I know that book was a load of, well, you know. But I had no reason to doubt that gays were disease-ridden, mentally diseased, furtive, promiscuous, filthy animals. Plus they were given over by God to be reprobates destined for the fires of hell. I told my best friend before I got married that I was struggling with the temptation to lead a gay life. His response: “Well, I think you need to talk to [your fiancee] about that.” Meaning not that she needed to be informed of my struggle, but that she is the one who could cure me of my insanity. I didn’t know any better.

    Yet, Michael, it is not the likes of Tim LaHaye who have suffered for all the lies and false promises. It is people like you and me, and our wives and families. Whether the bulk of the responsibility is ours or not, we certainly have suffered the consequences.

    Responsibility? There’s a long line of presumably well-intentioned persons who each bear some responsibility, and yet they were led to believe lies as well. I recently finished reading The Invention of Sodomy. The author traces the history of this fabricated word from its first usage by Peter Damian (d. 1072). It’s an enlightening read. Is Peter Damian responsible? Well, it goes back further than that. Forget responsibility. The thing now is to clean up the mess.

  • Ann

    Michael,

    I posed the question of responsibility to you because I wanted to hear what your perspective on it was now – not who you were then. I thought you might answer with something like – yes, knowing what I do now, I would have made a completely different decision about believing what I did – I chose out of desperation and realize now that it was my vulnerability and goodness that wanted to believe – I would certainly make a different choice today because I am different now compared to back then”.

    This ongoing blame that continues toward ex-gay ministries, does not change the fact that you were willing to believe them based on your set of circumstances. You also chose to become a leader in that organization and tell the same things to other vulnerable people. You went through your own process to think differently about those decisions – are you willing to allow others to do the same?

    Blaming others for the choices we willfullly made, and now regret, never makes us better – in any way. Realizing and acknowledging we had responsibility in making those choices, and all the reasons why we did, allows us to have understanding – and that makes us better.

  • David M.

    Ann, by your logic, blacks who sat in the back of the bus were responsible for segregation. A rape victim who goes along with her attacker rather than getting herself killed is responsible for her rape. Apparently you have no understanding of what it’s like to be betrayed by the whole culture in which you were raised, to find out that the most basic things you were made to believe about yourself are not true.

  • Richard Willmer

    I don’t like it when anyone plays the ‘blame game’, but I see nothing wrong with being honest about the responsibility of those who influence others in ‘leading’ them to make inappropriate choices. No person is an island, and the power of ‘group dynamics’, particularly in religious contexts, can be very strong (I often wonder if ‘religion’ can be something of an impediment to personal responsibility, and if this was one reason why the Man Himself often appeared to be really rather ‘anti-religion’!).

    As far as this specific issue is concerned: I believe that is necessary to point out that ‘using’ the Sacrament of Marriage to advance an ‘agenda’ such as ‘sexuality change’ is, quite simply, wrong. If one person is being encouraged to ‘use’ Marriage in order to try to achieve some kind of ‘pseudo-therapeutic outcome’, that strikes as both unrealistic (given the ‘shared” nature of Marriage and the fallibility of both people in a marriage) and unfair on the other person.

    Of course we should reflect on choices we have made and ‘make the best’ of the results of those choices, and many people do (e.g. by maintaining, as far as possible, good relations with ex-spouses, and caring for their children, grandchildren, in-laws, etc). I suspect that both Michael and David are such people.

  • David M.

    Richard, in my view, tracing the threads of antigay beliefs and actions through history is a useful academic exercise. There are things we may learn, dangers we may be made aware of. For my part, in the end, all I can do is forgive my church, parents, exgay organizations and all the rest. As you say, how do we make the best of what we have. That’s not always easy to figure out. It seems the best I can do now for my ex-wife is to give her space. With institutions that continue to purpetuate destructive and false claims, however, there is an obligation, it seems to me, to do what we can to prevent harm to others. It is in this sense that I hope for the death of ex-gay ministries — not because I wish harm on the people involved, but because I wish the end of harm to those who even now are drawn into the web of deceit.

  • Ann

    Ann, by your logic, blacks who sat in the back of the bus were responsible for segregation. A rape victim who goes along with her attacker rather than getting herself killed is responsible for her rape. Apparently you have no understanding of what it’s like to be betrayed by the whole culture in which you were raised, to find out that the most basic things you were made to believe about yourself are not true.

    David M,

    No one makes us believe things about ourself – we either accept that what others say is true or we reject it. Often it takes years of developing wisdom and discernment as well as applying critical thought before we believe what is told to us – either about us or others. My question about accepting some element of responsibility for the choice to believe what you hear is far different from the examples you cite, although it takes discernment and wisdom and critical thought to understand the difference.

  • David M.

    Ann, beliefs about gender and sexuality are inculcated in us from infancy. A child has no frame of reference to defend against what he/she is taught. Your self-help sound bite (“No one makes us believe things about ourself”) doesn’t correspond to reality. Now, lest I say something I regret, or that gets me banned from this blog, I’m done with this conversation.

  • Ann

    A child has no frame of reference to defend against what he/she is taught.

    David M.,

    Yes, and that is why I said it often can take years of developing wisdom, etc. to not believe what we once did. Wisdom is just one component of what is needed to think differently.

    I know you are done with this conversation – I just felt it was important to respond to this very important statement you made.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ David M

    Yes, one is indeed obliged to follow the genuine promptings of one’s conscience, and, like you, I would tend to view that ‘ex-gay ministries’ shown be opposed.

  • Richard Willmer

    ‘should be opposed.’

  • ken

    Ann says:

    August 11, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    “No one makes us believe things about ourself – we either accept that what others say is true or we reject it. ‘

    Con men make people believe things all the time. Clients of ex-gay ministries are vulnerable people. To blame these vulnerable people for being deceived while ignoring the culpability of those who deceived them seems pretty callous to me.

  • Ann

    To blame these vulnerable people for being deceived while ignoring the culpability of those who deceived them seems pretty callous to me.

    Ken,

    I agree. Also, when you use the word “blame”, I believe you are attaching it to the vulnerable people who chose to believe what was told to them. In using the word “blame, I was referring to attaching it to the ex-gay ministries. There is quite a difference. In my original question about realizing some element of responsibility in choosing to believe what some unethical gay ministires tell us, I still think there is value and a personal benefit in understanding our element of responsibility in wanting to, and subsequently, believing what we hear. If we continue to only blame others for our choices, no matter how well intended they were/are, we will always be at their mercy to change or be different in order for us to feel better. In accepting our element of responsibility, we can then change ourselves and be better, in spite of them or anyone else.

  • ken

    Ann says:

    August 12, 2012 at 11:21 am

    “In using the word “blame, I was referring to attaching it to the ex-gay ministries. There is quite a difference.”

    then perhaps you can explain that difference because I don’t see it.

    Lets try a different example. A person goes to the doctor with severe pain in his side. The dr. diagnosis appendicitis, but the patient is terrified of the idea of surgery. So the dr. says he could probably clear it up with antibiotics. If the patient chooses to forgo surgery, who is responsible (“to blame”) if he ends up dying from a ruptured appendix? The scared patient or the dr. who told him what he wanted to hear, rather than what he needed to hear?

  • Ann

    Ken,

    Ok, in using the word blame, I am referring to the ex-gay ministries being blamed. I think your perception of my comment was that I was using it toward the individual who chose to believe, which is not true.

    In your example, I believe the doctor is a credentialed professional who can diagnose illnesses and suggest remedies. Ex-gay ministries do not have those kind of credentials. Even in the best case scenario, the individual still has a choice and that is why it is often recommended to have a second opinion. In almost every decision or choice we make, it is based on trust – often it involves other people and sometimes just ourselves. Some of those choices are good ones and enrich our lives, others do not. In realizing we were part of the decision, we can learn from either.

  • Michael Bussee

    Ann: Yes, knowing what I do now, I CERTAINLY would have made a completely different decision. Back then I was deeply confused, in a lot of pain and hugely misinformed about orientation change and the risks of mixed orientation marriage. I was given very bad advice which I believed. I passed that confusion onto others with terrible results. More than 40 years have passed. I am older and wiser now.

  • ken

    Ann says:

    August 12, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    “I believe the doctor is a credentialed professional who can diagnose illnesses and suggest remedies. Ex-gay ministries do not have those kind of credentials.”

    Yet many of these ex-gay ministries present themselves as experts, Ann. Are you trying to argue that it is okay to give dangerous, misleading treatment. as long as the person doesn’t have any credentials?

    “the individual still has a choice and that is why it is often recommended to have a second opinion.”

    And what is the “choice” these people are being given Ann? What is the choice these ex-gay ministries are offering? From what I see the choice is “accept our treatment or burn in hell for all eternity” that isn’t much of a choice.

  • Ann

    Yet many of these ex-gay ministries present themselves as experts, Ann. Are you trying to argue that it is okay to give dangerous, misleading treatment. as long as the person doesn’t have any credentials?

    Ken,

    No, I am not trying to make that argument – not even close. In fact, I am not trynig to aruge anything. My earlier question as to what responsibility, if any, should an individual take as to what they choose to believe was limited to that – I believe there is a personal benefit to realizing and understanding our part in making the choices we do. I think you have already answered my initial question earlier up on the thread.

    And what is the “choice” these people are being given Ann? What is the choice these ex-gay ministries are offering? From what I see the choice is “accept our treatment or burn in hell for all eternity” that isn’t much of a choice.

    Ken,

    I am not sure this is what all ex-gay ministries say.

  • ken

    Ann says:

    August 13, 2012 at 8:37 am

    “I am not sure this is what all ex-gay ministries say.”

    Chambers is trying to move Exodus away from that message and a splinter group has formed to “stay the course.” And it isn’t just ex-gay ministries giving that message. However, you never answered my question about what “choice” these people are being given.

  • AJ

    Ann,

    I am someone who was involved in ex-gay ministry. I was lied to. I don’t take any responsibility for that, and your comments deeply offend me. These so called “experts” lied! That is 100% on them and 0% my responsibility.

    I believe that the earth revolves around the sun. Why do I believe that? Because that is what I was taught and that is what everyone repeats. If it turns out that the opposite is true, and all of the scientists, teachers, and textbooks were lying to me, do I bear any responsibility for believing that lie? No I do not.

  • Ann

    However, you never answered my question about what “choice” these people are being given.

    Ken,

    Are you referring to individuals who’s sexual orientation is not in congruence with other aspects of their life? If so, there are other alternatives to help them live within their faith, values, etc. I think SIT might be one.

  • Ann

    A.J.,

    Thanks for your answer and perspective on the question I asked. I can certainly understand your point of view. Please let me know what comment I made that offended you so I can apologize.


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