First, let me apologize for the week-long blog silence. This week was the last week of classes (they finished yesterday), and next week is exam finals week, so my stress level is about to reach monumental highs. Before it does that, though, I'd like to make one post that addresses a few things that have gone un-addressed on this blog. After that, I might be gone until after finals week (and that's assuming I survive my Algebra exam ;-).
I recently came across an article by Mike Ensley, posted on the Exodus Youth web site. Before I even begin, let me say that Mike has commented on my blog in the past and I find him to be a wonderful Christian man who has earned my respect. Though this post is a critique of some of the attitudes expressed in his article, it is not intended to trivialize his experiences or the work that he does. Also, since I'm always a fan of listening to both sides of any argument, I highly encourage everyone to read his article in full before proceeding. Otherwise, you'll only be getting my selected quotes of contention.
Mike's article is entitled "How Can Homosexuality Not Be The Answer?" It is, in general, a good read and an interesting insight into Mike's personal experiences concerning his SSA. But there are certain parts of it that, though I don't disagree with them at face value, I nonetheless do not appreciate how they have been extended to the entirety of the gay community. You could say that this post is not a point-by-point critique of the article, but a critique of a lot of attitudes and perceptions that the article portrays about the mindset of those in Exodus. Are these perceptions true? Well, in all my talking to Mike and others tied to Exodus, I've never experienced them. They could be projection on my part. Either way, when I read these kinds of articles, I sense them, and I don't want them to go un-addressed.
Case in point: Mike goes over the break-up between himself and his first boyfriend. Mike admits to having been very emotional at the time, while his ex-boyfriend was not. The ex said, "I've been out longer than you...I've been with lots of guys, and so will you. After you've broken up a few times, it won't hurt anymore." Hey, I don't doubt it happened. There are jerks out there and they come in quite an alarming variety. However, Mike follows up this anecdote with a personal observation: "I found that most--if not all--of the gay-identified men I met lived according to these words." And this, of course, is where I start folding my arms and giving my mother's "oh no you di'nt" glare.
Look, I don't doubt--nor have I ever doubted--that large parts of the gay community aren't all that wholesome. Then again, neither are large parts of the sexual battleground as a whole--gay or straight. Mike's article goes through his personal experience as a gay man--and is analogous to other testimonials by ex-gay men. He started out idealistic and looking for love, found himself entering passionate but short-lived relationships, and after becoming disillusioned by such a lifestyle found himself drifting into anonymous sex. Does this happen to many gay men and women? Certainly. Does it also happen to straight men and women? In our over-sexualized culture--you bet it does. And is it a requirement for one to have had such a love life for them to want to leave homosexuality? Not on your life.
Okay, that's the point I wanted to drive home. One of the biggest problems that I've had with Exodus and other ex-gay ministries is that they label the entire homosexual "lifestyle" as an emotionally unsatisfying, jaded, sex-crazed world. Once again, I'm not doubting that parts of it are, but I think the assertion leaves out the people who are monogamous and happy.
Take me for example. When it comes to relationships--and I think we can all agree that my word on this shouldn't be taken as expert advice--I am very practical. I am and have always been a straight-shooter. If you're going to be in a relationship with me, you'd better be committed, and I will, in turn, be committed to you. It's one of the things I value. If tomorrow I decided to leave celibacy altogether and actually started a relationship, you'd best believe that I'd find a gay man who shared my value of commitment. And I know that such men exist.
There's one particularly cute Marine Biology major I can think of--he doesn't drink, smoke, party, and has never had sex, and currently he's putting off all relationships until he's done with his studies (BTW, he can remove a shark's brain with the eyes still attached--if that ain't attractive, I don't know what is! ;-) Either way, he and I seem to have the same values when it comes to commitment and long-term relationships (luckily for me, that's about all we have in common).
And there are many other gay men and women like that--take all the folks at GCN, for example. I have no doubt that I could live a happy, healthy life with a partner here on this earth. In fact, that seems to be the easiest path for me. Surely this hasn't made me the happiest, and it's definitely not easy. But it has brought me closer to one thing: my God.
God--my faith--is why I do this. I do not in my heart find homosexuality immoral. I don't make gay people out to be promiscuous or insecure, nor do I think that they live lives of misery, just like I don't think that any people outside of Christ live earthly lives of misery simply because of that fact. That's a rather rare attitude amongst evangelicals. We somehow have it in our heads that being in Christ will make our lives better right now, and therefore those who aren't in Him lead earthly lives of misery. I don't think that. Sure, I think that something is missing from everyone who is not a believer, but I don't think that it is necessary to be a believer to be productive or healthy in the here and now (by society's standards, at least).
The reason I have chosen to abstain from homosexual relationships is not because I think it is healthier, or because I think I'll be happier. It is for one, simple, yet all-encompassing reason. I want to follow my God wherever I feel He is leading me, and I want to glorify Him in all I do. Perhaps there are some gay men and women out there whose goal is heterosexuality, and they use religion as a means to an end. Heterosexuality is not my end, though. If it is in God's will for my life, then it will be so. If not, though, I know where He wants me. Yes, I doubt. Yes, I question. Yes, it's hard as all get out sometimes and I don't know if I can go on. But through all things He is with me, and there is this pull that I can't shake and a voice I can't shut out telling me that this is where I belong. Granted, I'm no expert, but I don't see how anyone can leave the gay lifestyle if they don't have that in them yet. Because, to me, there is not any other reason to do this.