Al Mohler and Exodus: Agree or disagree?

As noted last week, Southern Baptist Seminary’s President Rev. Albert Mohler recently told a reporter that evangelicals have “lied about the nature of homosexuality” and reinforced his sentiments at the recent Southern Baptist Convention conference. I think it is going to take awhile for Rev. Al Mohler’s words about evangelicals and homosexuality to sink in – even for those who say they agree with him.
In this Baptist Press article, Exodus International President, Alan Chambers, came to Rev. Mohler’s defense against critics who say Mohler is going soft on gays, saying

“I grew up in a Southern Baptist church, and I am eternally grateful for what I learned there — the truth that I learned and the biblical foundation that I have,” Chambers said. “But there was no way that I was ever going to tell anybody in my church growing up that I struggled with these things. I am very thankful to say that that has changed [in that church]…. But we’ve still all got to do better.”

Alan correctly identifies his church as a problem. Although he doesn’t say exactly why, he is clear that he could not be open about his situation in his church. Apparently, they would not have handled it in a loving, accepting way. Chambers then says, we need to do better. I agree and I think one great example of that is a recent post – of all places – on the Exodus blog.
In a June 21 post, Matthew Walker says:

I felt like killing myself as a teen not because of the church, but because of a very real spiritual enemy that was trying to destroy me anyway that he could.  His whispers and lies twisted the Bible into a condemnation of me, not of the sin that was overtaking me.

Sounds to me like this man attended a church like Alan’s. However, Walker seems to think that his church was just fine, even though he was bothered enough to consider suicide. Reading this article, I am confused. Is Walker’s narrative an illustration of the church getting it right, or is this the kind of church that kept Alan silent and struggling?
Walker’s entire article, to me, seems like an illustration of just the kind of approach that Mohler critiques. Mohler wants evangelicals to be honest about homosexuality. Instead Walker stereotypes gays as miserable, and in denial about why they are gay.

I was honest with myself about how homosexuality developed in my life.  Many gay men and women use the act of “coming out” as a great dismissal of the developmental history that shaped their gay identity.  Genetics becomes the great enabler that keeps many bound to a life of destruction.

According to Walker’s narrative, gays have been crafted by some kind of knowable “developmental history” which they repress via coming out. Genetic research is not scientific inquiry but a devious means of keeping gays in denial.
In 2007, Rev. Mohler wrote that evangelicals should be prepared to acknowledge that biological factors may operate in forming same-sex attraction. By taking seriously biological factors, is Mohler facing facts honestly as he calls evangelicals to do? Or is he improperly enabling gays as described by Exodus’ Mr. Walker?
I am glad that Rev. Mohler voiced his views about evangelicals and honesty when it comes to sexual orientation. I have been raising these issues for several years now, but it takes someone of Mohler’s stature to keep the conversation going. Despite Mohler’s influential position, his views are not universally accepted in SBC circles. Furthermore, it appears to me that even those who generally agree with Mohler need to work out, practically speaking, what that agreement means.

Policy statement: Exodus International opposes criminalization of homosexuality

Today, Exodus International issued a policy statement regarding the criminalization of homosexuality.

Criminalization of Homosexuality

Exodus International opposes the criminalization of homosexual behavior as conducted by consensual adults in private. We strongly oppose the imprisonment, mistreatment, or death of homosexual men and women on the basis of their perceived or known sexual orientation. These actions breed cultural violence and institutionalized shame, neither of which reflect God’s redemptive heart.

In the blog post, Alan Chambers also expressed regret for the delayed response to information he received about the Ugandan ex-gay conference as well as the potential fall out.

That said, and without a wordy explanation or excuse, this public post is way overdue and I sincerely hope it clears up any speculation about how I really feel about gay and lesbian people, Ugandan or otherwise, the criminalization of homosexuality, Exodus’s connection to the now infamous Ugandan conference where Exodus board member, Don Schmierer spoke, and most importantly the grace of God.

First things first, I was personally lax in investigating thoroughly the pre-conference intelligence that was coming in from Timothy Kincaid, David Roberts and Warren Throckmorton, to name a few.  My initial belief was that their major concern was over Caleb Lee Brundidge’s association with Richard Cohen.  Again, no excuses, I was negligent in digging deeper and heeding their warnings.  While I did share my concerns with Don Schmierer prior to the event, he was on the ground in Uganda and I saw this as an issue that didn’t warrant him canceling his appearance there—after all, in my mind, Don was simply sharing his normal talk on parenting.  I do realize that his mere presence there, even as a private citizen, did give the appearance that Exodus was endorsing the conference and eventually the horrific political position that was fueled by that event.

I appreciate this acknowledgement. Alan is correct that some of the initial concern related to the involvement of Brundidge but as he says here, it was much deeper. The events in Uganda, played out over the last 16 months, have required U.S. Christians to rethink their stance toward homosexuals. As Alan’s remarks indicate, it is now necessary to articulate one’s position on criminalization. The Uganda situation unearthed a division among social conservatives about the law and homosexuality. Just yesterday, one of the voices of the American Family Association, Bryan Fischer, again said that he favors a return to laws penalizing homosexual conduct.  The Ugandan initiative has touched many American evangelicals in a way that few issues have, forcing many ministries and leaders to choose sides. While I personally had little doubt that the policy of Exodus was to oppose criminalization, today’s announcement makes that clear. I applaud them.

Exodus International denounces calls for gay executions

Last night, on the organization blog, Exodus International denounced recent statements by Bradlee Dean and You Can Run International regarding the morality of gay executions. The post Randy Thomas begins:

I was alerted to Dr. Warren Throckmorton’s post about Bradlee Dean’s (pictured) public comments saying that Muslim countries who call for homosexuals to be killed are more “moral” than American Christians. I listened to the segment of Mr. Dean’s radio program and was shocked. Click here to visit Warren’s blog and listen to Mr. Dean’s comments.

We called our contacts in Minnesota and apparently Mr. Dean is somewhat known in Christian circles there. They have run into him a couple of times but have not appreciated his strident tone. They were as upset by his statements as we are. I would imagine he will be getting a few phone calls.

What might those phone callers say?

Using Old Testament scriptures to condemn a person to death is not “loving” … it is incomplete theology and powerfully irresponsible. To say that murderous actions are more “moral” than tolerating free will is to completely ignore that Jesus did not call for the deaths of sinners. He died and paid the price for all of our sin, including those of us who have or do struggle with homosexuality.   He paid that transcendent price and still left us with the free will to believe in Him or not. That’s what makes faith in Him authentic and not coerced.

Putting down the stones of condemnation and serving others with humility, dignity and respect is the Christlike response. According to Jesus Himself, selfless sacrifice  has much more moral authority than the false piety of humans judging other humans guilty of breaking the law and deserving of social stigmatization and/or death.

As an aside, homosexuality seems to bring out the inner-Moses in a lot Christians these days. Calls to harshly criminalize homosexuality based on Mosaic law leave lots of questions about what other actions would be included in the long arm of current law (e.g., adultery, parent cursing, bearing false witness).  Thomas goes on to summarize the behavior of Christ toward those who were outcasts in his society and shunned by the Pharisees — any casual reader of the New Testament knows that legislative solutions were not in Christ’s playbook.

On the other hand, the You Can Run folks are hung up on law being the remedy. On their YouTube page, one of the Sons of Liberty (except for people you disagree with) calls for the state of Minnesota to enforce the sodomy law which was set aside by the Supreme Court. This video is consistent with their recent statements, made from the Heritage Foundation, praising African nations for prosecuting homosexuals.

Liberty is not just for people of your faith. Freedom, if it means anything, means the freedom to choose your beliefs and guide your moral life.

Ugandan university hosts dialogue; Exodus letter plays a role

On November 18, 2009, the Human Rights and Peace Center at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda hosted a public dialogue on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The blogger, GayUganda, has an extensive report here and I want to also call your attention to the remarks of Sylvia Tamale, law professor at Makerere University. Her paper presents a compelling case for the setting aside of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. From GayUganda, we also learn that the Exodus letter to President Museveni was a significant issue in the dialogue.

Dr. Tamale begins by discussing history of family in Africa. The she notes other issues which are more important to the family than homosexuality.

Thus, while I agree with you Hon. Bahati that we must seek ways of dealing with issues that threaten our families, I do not agree that homosexuality is one of those issues. Mr. Chairperson, Ladies and gentlemen, what issues currently threaten our families here in Uganda? I will name a few:

a) Blood thirsty Ugandans and traditional healers that believe that their good fortune will multiply through rituals of child sacrifice.

b) Rapists and child molesters who pounce on unsuspecting family members. Research undertaken by the NGO, Hope after Rape (HAR) shows that over 50% of child sexual abuse reports involve children below 10 years of age, and the perpetrators are heterosexual men who are known to the victims.[1]

c) Sexual predators that breach the trust placed in them as fathers, teachers, religious leaders, doctors, uncles and sexually exploit young girls and boys. A 2005 report by Raising Voices and Save the Children revealed that 90% of

Ugandan children experienced domestic violence and defilement.[2]

d) Abusive partners who engage in domestic violence whether physical, sexual or emotional. The 2006 national study on Domestic Violence by the Law Reform Commission confirmed the DV was pervasive in our communities. 66% of people in all regions of Uganda reported that DV occurred in their homes and the majority of the perpetrators were “male heads of households.”[3] The Uganda Demographic Health Survey of 2006 put the figure slightly higher at 68%.[4]

e) Parents who force their 14-year old daughters to get married in exchange for bride price and marriage gifts.

f) A whole generation of children who were either born and bred in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps or abducted by the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) in the northern sub-region of Kitgum, Gulu and Pader districts.

g) The millions of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. The Uganda Aids Commission puts the cumulative number of orphans due to AIDS at 2 million.[5]

h) The all powerful patriarchs that demand total submission and rule their households with an iron hand.

i) Rising poverty levels and growing food insecurity which lead to hunger, disease, suffering and undignified living. Figures from the latest report from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics show that over 60% of Ugandans living in rural areas live below the poverty line.[6]

Professor Tamale makes a clear case that all Ugandans are at risk if this bill passes.

III. The Social Implications of the Bill to the Average Ugandan

You may think that this bill targets only homosexual individuals. However, homosexuality is defined in such a broad fashion as to include “touching another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.” This is a provision highly prone to abuse and puts all citizens (both hetero and homosexuals) at great risk. Such a provision would make it very easy for a person to witch-hunt or bring false accusations against their enemies simply to “destroy” their reputations and cause scandal. We all have not forgotten what happened to Pastor Kayanja and other men of God in the recent past.

Moreover, the bill imposes a stiff fine and term of imprisonment for up to three years for any person in authority over a homosexual who fails to report the offender within 24 hours of acquiring such knowledge. Hence the bill requires family members to “spy” on one another. This provision obviously does not strengthen the family unit in the manner that Hon. Bahati claims his bill wants to do, but rather promotes the breaking up of the family. This provision further threatens relationships beyond family members. What do I mean? If a gay person talks to his priest or his doctor in confidence, seeking advice, the bill requires that such person breaches their trust and confidentiality with the gay individual and immediately hands them over to the police within 24 hours. Failure to do so draws the risk of arrest to themselves.

Or a mother who is trying to come to terms with her child’s sexual orientation may be dragged to police cells for not turning in her child to the authorities. The same fate would befall teachers, priests, local councilors, counselors, doctors, landlords, elders, employers, MPs, lawyers, etc.

Furthermore, if your job is in any way related to human rights activism, advocacy, education and training, research, capacity building, and related issues this bill should be a cause for serious alarm. In a very undemocratic and unconstitutional fashion, the bill seeks to silence human rights activists, academics, students, donors and non-governmental organizations. If passed into law it will stifle the space of civil society. The bill also undermines the pivotal role of the media to report freely on any issue. The point I am trying to make is that we are all potential victims of this draconian bill.

Tamale then provides a legal analysis of the bill which finds much of it unconstitutional and confusing. She concludes by saying

Mr. Chairperson, distinguished participants, I wish to end by appealing to members of parliament and all Ugandans that believe in human rights and the dignity of all human beings to reject the Anti-homosexuality bill. I am imploring Hon. Bahati to withdraw his private members bill. Do we really in our hearts of hearts want our country to be the first on the continent to demand that mothers spy on their children, that teachers refuse to talk about what is, after all, “out there” and that our gay and lesbian citizens are systematically and legally terrorized into suicide? Ladies and gentlemen, you may strongly disagree with the phenomenon of same-sex erotics; you may be repulsed by what you imagine homosexuals do behind their bedroom doors; you may think that all homosexuals deserve to burn in hell. However, it is quite clear that this Bill will cause more problems around the issue of homosexuality than it will solve. I suggest that Hon. Bahati’s bill be quietly forgotten. It is no more or less than an embarrassment to our intelligence, our sense of justice and our hearts.

The remarks are amended to include some thoughts on the question and answer period. To get a more complete sense of this meeting, you should also consult GayUganda’s eyewitness description. There he describes talks by David Bahati and Stephen Langa. Langa in particular was described as referring to the Pink Swastika by Scott Lively and materials from Exodus International.

However, according to GayUganda, during the question and answer session, a questioner asked Stephen Langa why he referred to Exodus International material in his defense of the bill when Exodus had recently denounced the bill. I’ll let Gug describe it:

The Exodus letter is a particular foil. Why, even Exodus does not support the Bill! That is a shock, to Steven Langa. An unpleasant one. Because he is using information published by some of the signatories of this letter. He quotes them. And, very embarassing that they don’t support his bill! Even his allies see that his action is un-Christian. He also quotes Lively, extensively. Yes, he does. This Lively. To Langa, the true intellectual mind behind the Bahati Bill, Lively is THE prophet of his crusade. And he promotes his books. Repeateldy. Even yesterday. (It was the Pink Swastika)

I will always remember Langa’s face when he was challenged that Exodus was not supporting the bill. That they were not supporting him, though he was quoting them. And, it was a fellow pastor, I believe, who challenged him. Could he answer? Ha!

Americans with a connection to Ugandans who support or promote the bill have a special responsibility to come along side their Ugandan brothers and ask them to put down their stones.

Exodus opposes Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009: Open letter to the President of Uganda

This letter was sent this afternoon from Exodus to the President of Uganda. It is also on the Exodus website and an open letter expressing reasons why the proposed bill is wrong and counter to Christian principles.

Exodus Sends Letter Opposing Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill  

 November 16, 2009 

Exodus International sent the following letter to Uganda’s President Museveni regarding The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 currently being considered in the Parliament. The bill would criminalize and prosecute homosexual behavior and would require pastors, missionaries, health care providers and counselors to report those suspected of such behavior. Exodus International, along with its board members and broader network, opposes this legislation as it inhibits the global Christian church’s mission to share the life-giving truth of the Gospel and extend the compassion of Christ to all.

President & Mrs. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

c/o Principal Private Secretary, Amelia Kyambadde

State House Nakasero

P.O. Box 24594

Kampala, Uganda

Dear President & Mrs. Museveni,

As evangelical Christian leaders dedicated to advancing the truths of the Bible worldwide, we commend your work to promote ethics in Uganda. In addition, your efforts to eradicate the HIV/AIDS epidemic have been appropriately praised internationally and we are praying for your continued success.

We want to humbly share our concerns regarding The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, introduced before the Ugandan parliament on October 14, 2009.  First, we believe that sexual crimes against children, homosexual or heterosexual, are the most serious of offenses and should be punished accordingly. Homosexual behavior in consensual relationships, however, is another matter.

While we do not believe that homosexual behavior is what God intended for individuals, we believe that deprivation of life and liberty is not an appropriate or helpful response to this issue. Furthermore, the Christian church must be a safe, compassionate place for gay-identified people as well as those who are confused about and conflicted by their sexuality. If homosexual behavior and knowledge of such behavior is criminalized and prosecuted, as proposed in this bill, church and ministry leaders will be unable to assist hurting men, women and youth who might otherwise seek help in addressing this personal issue. The Christian church cannot and should not condone homosexual living or gay-identified clergy within its leadership, but it must be permitted to extend the love and compassion of Christ to all. We believe that this legislation would make this mission a difficult if not impossible task to carry out.

Many of us and those we know and work with have personally struggled with unwanted homosexual attractions and once lived as gay individuals, but have since found a new identity in Jesus Christ and have gone on to live lives that reflect the teaching of the Christian faith. We sincerely believe that such transformations cannot best be achieved in an environment of government coercion where the vital support, care and compassion of others in the Christian community is discouraged and prosecuted.

Please consider the influence this law will have upon those who may seek help in dealing with this difficult issue as well as church and ministry leaders committed to demonstrating the compassion of Christ to all. We are praying for you, for this matter and for the people of Uganda.

Sincerely,

Alan Chambers

President of Exodus International, Orlando, Florida

Former homosexual

Randy Thomas

Executive Vice President, Exodus International, Orlando, Florida

Former homosexual

Christopher Yuan

Adjunct Instructor, Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois

HIV Survivor

AIDS Activist

Former homosexual

Warren Throckmorton, Ph.D.

Member of the Clinical Advisory Board of the American Association of Christian Counselors

Grove City, Pennsylvania

Here’s hoping it helps…

UPDATE: 11/19/09 – Here is one eyewitness report of the effect of the Exodus letter:

The Exodus letter is a particular foil. Why, even Exodus does not support the Bill! That is a shock, to Steven Langa. An unpleasant one. Because he is using information published by some of the signatories of this letter. He quotes them. And, very embarassing that they dont support his bill! Even his allies see that his action is un-Christian. He also quotes Lively, extensively. Yes, he does. This Lively. To Langa, the true intellectual mind behind the Bahati Bill, Lively is THE prophet of his crusade. And he promotes his books. Repeateldy. Even yesterday. (It was the Pink Swastika)

I will always remember Langa’s face when he was challenged that Exodus was not supporting the bill. That they were not supporting him, though he was quoting them. And, it was a fellow pastor, I believe, who challenged him. Could he answer? Ha!

Exodus comments about Ugandan situation on blog

On their blog, Exodus International commented today about the proposed “Anti-Homosexuality 2009” bill.

The Ugandan government is seeking to further stigmatize and criminalize (to death or extreme punishment) people who deal with homosexuality. It seems that the government has no respect for freedom.  Especially as it pertains to free will or self-determination on what a person does with their own same sex attractions. This sweeping, hateful, public policy being promoted threatens anyone struggling with same sex attractions, and their loved ones, with death or imprisonment.

Then the post refers to Don Schmierer, one of the American participants in the infamous ex-gay conference in Kampala, Uganda back in March.

I asked Don, who travels all around the world, about his thoughts on what is happening now in Uganda.  He responded:

“What this David Bahati is introducing does not reflect the Ugandans that I have ministered too.  The only place where I have run into this thinking is from some former Russian hardliners and that was only a very small percentage of the participants attending my seminars. After some challenges from me (except for one person) they softened up and came around to a more redemptive position.”

Hard to see where anyone softened. 

The individuals who hosted the conference where Mr. Schmierer spoke, Family Life Network, were identified today by conservative Ultimate Media as “fighting against what they call a proliferation of homosexuality in the country…”

We can agree with Thomas when he writes:

We definitely need to be praying for Uganda and working with whatever contacts we have there to try and stop this horrible legislation from passing.

Additional links:

Uganda’s strange ex-gay conference

More on the Ugandan ex-gay conference

Ugandan ex-gay conference goes political: Presenter suggests law to force gays into therapy

Reparative therapy takes center stage at Ugandan homosexuality conference

Gay Ugandan man seeks asylum in UK: EU group condemns Ugandan ex-gay conference

Open forum: Report from the Ugandan conference on homosexuality

Christian Post article on the Ugandan ex-gay conference

Scott Lively on criminalization and forced therapy of homosexuality

Christianity, homosexuality and the law

Uganda anti-gay group holds first meeting

Follow the money: Pro-family Charitable Trust

NARTH removes references to Scott Lively from their website

Aftermath of the Ugandan conference on homosexuality

Uganda: The other shoe drops

Ugandan travelogue from Caleb Brundidge and the International Healing Foundation

Dispatch from Uganda: Family Life Network identified as backing effort

Love Won Out transitions to Exodus International

This just in…

The Associated Press has a story on topic…

Focus on the Family’s conference on homosexuality joins Exodus’ expanding church outreach

Orlando, FL. — Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out conference on homosexuality will be moving to Exodus International starting November, the longtime allies announced today. The move is a logical step not only for both organizations, but also for a movement that has educated and equipped Christians for decades about the reality that unwanted same-sex attractions can be overcome.

Exodus is making church education a priority effort. Recently, Exodus announced it was merging with outreach ministries of the Presbyterian and Reformed faith communities as well as The United Methodist Church. Those new partnerships will focus on equipping churches with a biblical perspective of sexuality and gender – efforts critical in continuing the original mission of the Love Won Out conference.

“Exodus is thrilled with this opportunity as the Love Won Out conference is a natural fit in our ongoing efforts to share the hope we’ve found,” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International. “Love Won Out has been and will continue to be a powerful event dedicated to helping the global Christian church better understand and more effectively reflect biblical truth and Christ-like compassion to a hurting world.”

Focus on the Family launched Love Won Out in 1998 to educate and equip Christians on how to respond to the issue of homosexuality in a biblical way, and has traveled to more than 50 cities worldwide with its message of truth and grace. The conference has always featured Exodus speakers and highlighted Exodus member ministries.

“There is no one better equipped to take over the operation of Love Won Out than Alan and his team,” said Focus on the Family’s Melissa Fryrear, a Love Won Out speaker and host for more than six years. “They have been with us since the beginning. They have stood alongside us in sharing the hope that, with Christ, transformation is possible for those unhappy with same-sex attractions. And we will stand alongside them as they continue to share that message as the organizer of Love Won Out.”

Focus on the Family’s gender team will continue its efforts tracking and analyzing homosexuality and its surrounding issues, as well as providing expert support to other Focus departments and practical help to its constituents.

Gary Schneeberger, vice president of media and public relations for the ministry, acknowledged that financial realities played a role in the conference’s transition to Exodus.

“Everyone knows these are challenging times for organizations and individuals all across the globe,” he said. “It is not an inexpensive undertaking to put on a Love Won Out event; and contrary to what our detractors say, the conferences rarely have recouped the financial investment made in them. That is a cost we have always paid because of the positive impact the events have had.

“With Exodus moving aggressively to strengthen its church outreach, though, they are the ones who ought to be shepherding Love Won Out as it continues on in its second decade. Our financial challenges have led us to recognize a strategic opportunity that makes sense independent of economic circumstances.”

Focus on the Family will continue to support the Love Won Out conference financially, and by providing speakers and marketing support. “Focus remains very committed to sharing biblical view of homosexuality,” said Fryrear. “After all, we’re still in the truth and grace business.”

Focus on the Family will lead its last Love Won Out conference in Birmingham, Ala. on Nov. 7.

The Washington Blade already has a story up about the move.

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

Exodus no longer affiliated with PFOX

According to Exodus President, Alan Chambers, you won’t be able to find this reference to PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-gays and Gays) on the Exodus website much longer.

PFOX

Within the last couple of weeks, PFOX gave up affiliation with Exodus. While Chambers declined to give reasons for the PFOX move, he indicated that Exodus would not seek any future relationship. He noted that PFOX is a public policy organization and their activities do not fit in with the mission and direction of Exodus. I have asked Regina Griggs, Executive Director at PFOX, for comment and will report the reason for their decision if disclosed.

PFOX seems to be alone among conservative groups in advocating for ex-gays using civil rights language. I recall thinking this was a strange framework for a group that really doesn’t believe homosexual orientation exists. In any event, PFOX and Exodus has not been a good fit on many levels so this separation is a good move.

Multiple pathways to sexual orientation, Part 1

On other threads, we have discussed why reparative therapy vignettes and ex-gay testimonies are so often alike. I have suggested that there are different causal pathways which lead to different sexual orientation outcomes. Also, therapists like Joe Nicolosi and Richard Cohen have strong public positions which promote a particular causal narrative. Clients who may have histories in line with those narratives seek counseling from those therapists. The same dynamic likely occurs in Exodus ministries where unhappy people seek help based on reading or hearing public testimonies.
People seeking help for unhappiness might be more likely to have life circumstances which they view as causal. Therapists looking for such causes ask questions which validate the hunches. It seems easy enough to imagine how therapists and clients can arrive at a common narrative without even trying to do so.
Same-sex attracted people who have not been traumatized in some way often react with puzzlement and frustration when, like palm readers, therapists go through a litany of questions about non-existent past trauma, seeking some confirmation of the predicted narrative. Eventually small, forgotten hurts and deprivations are identified as evidence for the expected patterns.
While I believe this occurs often, I have no idea how often. I also am pretty sure that the histories of some people are relevant to their sexual attractions. The research on the variability of pathways to sexual orientation is sparse but there is some and it demonstrates that on average same-sex attracted people who seek help of some kind (therapy or Exodus) recall more troubling relationships with parents than same-sex attracted people who have not sought therapy or ministry help.
The primary reference in this regard is Bell, Weinberg & Hammersmith (1981) Sexual preference: Its development in men and women. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. An important section on the differences between clinical and nonclinical groups is reprinted here from pages 202-203.

Homosexuals in Therapy
More than half of the WHMs [white homosexual males] (58%) said that at one time or another they had sought help for a personal or emotional problem from a professional counselor such as a psychiatrist or a psychologist. Most previous studies of the development of male homosexuality have been based on the reports of homosexuals “in treatment,” and many scholars have tried to generalize their findings to other homosexuals as well. When our own findings failed to support so many widely held clinical views, we were curious to see whether the reports of respondents who had been in therapy would differ from those made by respondents who had never sought professional counseling or therapy.
What we found was that those respondents “ever in treatment” did indeed have the kinds of paternal variables in their model that were consistent with what clinicians have always thought to be typical of homosexual males. The path model of those “never in treatment,” on the other hand, either did not contain such variables or showed their influence to be weaker. For example, as the literature suggests, the “therapy” group tended to have Detached-Hostile Father (t.e.= .29), a variable that is tied to the son’s gender nonconformity and early homosexual experiences. This variable does not even appear in the model for the men who have never been in therapy, however. Moreover, although the “nontherapy” group had more Negative Relationships with their Fathers, this variable (t.e.= .11) did not influence their gender nonconformity at all. In addition, two other variables that were important for the therapy group — Cold father and Negative Image of Father — do not appear at all for the nontherapy males. Although the rest of the path model is much the same for both groups, clearly the model for the therapy group corresponds much more closely to the way fathers have been considered in theories about the etiology of male homosexuality.
How might this discrepancy be explained? On the one hand, it could be supposed that cold, detached fathers make for troubled sons who are likely to seek psychological treatment at some point in their lives. Likewise, it could be argued that “therapy” often involves an “education” of client by the therapist in which the client comes to believe what the therapist supposes must be true of the client’s parents. Alternatively, it could also be argued that fathers tend to withdraw (become detached) from psychologically troubled sons, who are later to seek psychological counseling.
Whatever the case may be, at least on the basis of what our respondents could remember about their parents, Cold or Detached-Hostile Fathers cannot be regarded as important in the development of male homosexuality in general, since their alleged influence does not even appear among those who neve sought therapy or counseling. Finally, it should be noted that the differences between the therapy and non-therapy groups do not stem from differences between these two groups in terms of effeminacy or bisexuality. We found no significant correlations between being exclusively homosexual and having been in therapy, the more effeminate WHMs were only somewhat more likely than the non-effeminate WHMs ever to have been in therapy (64% versus 54%).

Bell et al, also compared WHMs and WHTMs (white, heterosexual males) who had and had not been in therapy. The findings regarding these comparisons are not drawn out in the same manner as above. However, there is a footnote on page 202 briefly describing the analysis.

The path analysis on which these findings were based included all the white heterosexual males, whether or not they had been “in treatment.” Separate analyses, one comparing only those WHMs and WHTMs “ever in treatment” and and one comparing those WHMs and WHTMs “never in treatment” replicated the results reported above.

For women, the picture was somewhat different. The authors noted that 2/3rds of the WHW had been in therapy and then on page 209, they wrote:

We do find some differences between the path model for the women who had been in therapy and those who had not. Notably, Childhood Gender Nonconformity appears to have been a more important factor for the respondents who had been in therapy or counseling (t.e.= .71 versus .52 for the women who had never been in therapy or counseling.)
In addition, the path model for the homosexual women who had in therapy or counseling includes two variables pertaining to a sense of estrangement or unhappiness while they were growing up: Unhappiness in Adolescence (B=.14) and Felt Different from Other Girls in High School (B=.11). The path model for the nontherapy group contains no comparable measures.
Finally the path model for the women who had been in therapy or counseling includes two variables pertaining to an unhappy recollection of the mothers: Negative Relationship with Mothers (t.e. = .24) and Unpleasant Mother (t.e. = .22). The nontherapy group on the other hand, appear to have been slightly more influenced by their fathers. Their path shows significant — but weak — paths from Weak Father (t.e. = .20), Aloof Father (t.e. = .14), Controlling Father (t.e. = -.10), and Mother Dominated Father (t.e. = .14). Otherwise, the differences between the women in therapy or counseling and those with no such experience show little pattern.

In the path analysis procedure used in Bell et al’s research, the “t.e.” you see repeated throughout this passage refers to the “total effect” of one variable on another, in this case sexual preference. Think of it as a measure of the strength of effect of each variable mentioned and sexual orientation, with the larger numbers representing a larger effect. While there are many points we could discuss here, the primary reason for this series is to examine the possibility that multiple paths exist which yield the direction of sexual attractions. A practical implication is that therapists who frequently counsel those who are seeking help probably get a skewed picture of same-sex attracted people in general. Another implication is the effects noted by the reparative drive theorists are not huge and must rely on other pre- and post-natal factors. Also, those who take a solely biological perspective should expand the complexity of their model to consider that the sexual behavior of some people are influenced by certain environment experiences.
The next posts in this series will include additional research as well as more results from Bell et al. Some research does find differences between gay and straight groups on developmental recollections. What do these differences mean? Stay tuned…