Monday, July 20, 2009

Leaving Homosexuality: A Rant

Although I know you expect much better, dear reader, this post will be a bit of a rant. I'm pushed for time but I just wanted to say a few things that have been bugging me about the ex-gay/SSA-struggling world.

Recently, Patrick Fitzgerald of XGW wrote a lengthy piece reviewing Alan Chambers' new book Leaving Homosexuality. I have read a few chapters of the book, and found it to pretty much be the typical Exodus routine all over again. Now, obviously, Fitzgerald and I come from very different worldviews when it comes to homosexuality. I believe active homosexual behavior is a sin, and he does not. At the same time, I pretty much have all the same problems with the book that he does.

There is a lot of double speak among ex-gay ministries, and it simply bothers me. One day, homosexual refers to an orientation. The next day, it's referred to as a behavior (even though that's a rather ridiculous definition since a gay virgin is still gay and a straight one is still straight -- Battling Christian recently wrote about this). The focus on emotional dependency is also just very bizarre. I dislike it very greatly when ex-gay ministries put out so many warning signs about "codependency" to men and women who struggle with same-sex attractions. I certainly understand that some people can become obsessive and idolatrous about their friendships. At the same time, as Fitzgerald pointed out, a lot of the "warning signs" of emotional dependency that Exodus puts out are, well, just typical loving thoughts.

What kind of friend would I be if I didn't depend on my friends? If I just said, "Well, I could take your or leave you. Your presence in my life doesn't really change anything" I would be a jerk. It seems sometimes that Exodus just doesn't allow people to have actual emotional intimacy with anyone (unless it's with a woman), and that simply bothers me. They also, despite what they say, really do see a deletion of SSA as a sign of holiness. If you're 50, chaste as a monk, but have never married and have no desires for women, you're essentially told you're settling for "second best," no matter what kind of blessings God has put into your life. It's horrendously patronizing and I really think that attitude is what leads so many guys to pursue dangerous things like reparative therapy.

I don't necessarily have time to write about all the things that are wrong with reparative therapy, but even staunch conservatives and ex-gays are starting to realize the problems with it. Here have been some good posts about the issue by Peter Ould, Warren Throckmorton, and TAG.

So, to me, that's the frustrating thing about Exodus and Leaving Homosexuality. The focus is so scattered. Politics, psychology, marriage, heterosexuality, and sex are talked about way more than Christ. The Chambers book barely had any Scriptural references. It relied on anecdotes and studies that weren't even named or referenced (frankly, there weren't even footnotes or annotations, and it was meant to be taken seriously?) Obviously, I'm not saying that these things aren't important. If someone has psychological wounds that need healing, they should get therapy. But don't assume that all SSA guys have them. If someone wants to vote Republican, let them. But don't make Proposition 8 the Gospel. If someone meets a girl and wants to get married, and is totally honest about his past and his current situation, awesome! But make sure that he knows he'll be considered a strong Christian man no matter what his marital status is. This, however, is where Exodus seems to fail. There is little nuance or recognition of the amazing diverstiy that exists among SSA people.

By making this issue so monolithic, they essentially cast aside Christians who don't fit into the mold. And those Christians aren't a fringe. There are lots of us, but when books like Leaving Homosexuality come out, it's pretty much shown that we aren't welcome. They think they have it all figured out and have no more to learn. And that, I think, is why Exodus often falls so short of their potential to actually proclaim the Gospel.

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