From Tuesday’s Exodus Spotlights:
Today’s youth are bombarded with conflicting messages concerning sexuality and identity. The culture war has created such a clamor that it can place inordinate pressure on an already “pressurized” time in young people’s lives.
Very true, but the Exodus spotlight overlooks its role in fueling the culture war against same-sex-attracted youths and tolerant people of faith.
This public obsession coupled with quiet times of inner turmoil can be unbearable when being harassed at school or pressured to “come out.”
Exodus Spotlights ignores a key source of pressure to “come out”: antigay youths, parents, and school employees whose verbally and physically violent actions make secrecy about one’s same-sex attraction unethical — and unsafe.
The situation can be even more difficult if they do not feel they can approach authority figures for unconditional love and protection.
Exodus Spotlights does not express unconditional love for youth. Its “love” is conditioned upon the choice to “transcend the pressure to identify or be identified by homosexuality” — in other words, the writer loves youth more if they keep their same-sex attraction a secret.
Exodus Spotlights reflects on a series of early October articles in the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Argus Leader:
Growing Up Gay
Students Try to Foster Support, Understanding
Churches, Teens Struggle with Their Beliefs
Schools Ban Harassment, But Students Still Worry
In response to death threats issued against same-sex-attracted students, Exodus Spotlights responds:
What an opportunity for Christians to not be “against” homosexuality but to speak up for and protect the harassed. If we don’t, there are plenty of pro-gay voices who already have.
Exodus Spotlights is opposed to harassment — in word only. The organization’s leaders have opposed not only school-based antiharassment programs, but also gay-straight alliances where students simply talk about their struggles for tolerance. Exodus also declines to assist in creating alternative antibullying programs that might be more consistent with conservative Christian politics.
Exodus Youth director Scott Davis:
…Harassment is an open door for gay-straight alliance student groups that promote homosexuality in the public schools under the guise of protecting gay students. Where are all the Christians when gay students are being attacked and harassed? We should be the first to their rescue, the first to offer comfort, the first to invite them to join our student groups. Pro-gay activists will lose their power in our schools when we start acting like the people of God.
Self-righteous absolutism persistently prevents Exodus national staff from viewing their rivals as something other than godless predators. In truth, pro-tolerance activists are people of faith, and in working actively to stop harassment, they act more like people of God than those, like Exodus, who stand on the sidelines wagging their fingers.
Mr. Davis continues:
Harassment is unacceptable. It is also unacceptable to limit the emerging soul to only one point of view as proposed by gay activists and the Gay Straight Alliances (GSA’s) that Scott refers to do.
This is a strawman argument. Antigay faculty and parents are free to support and participate in antiharassment and pro-tolerance programs, but they choose not to. Often, unfortunately, they seek to shut the programs down.
Exodus Spotlights quotes a community pastor mentioned in the articles:
“I’d say anyone whose first response to somebody is ‘you’re going to hell’ needs to probably spend more time looking at Jesus’ teachings,” says Shelby Boese, a young adult and community pastor at First Assembly of God. “I think (gays) need to understand that they’re welcome in the church along with all people, but that doesn’t mean the church will back away from calling them to be transformed by the spirit of God.”
All Christians are, by their own definition, sinners. And given the thousands of sins listed in the Bible, it is inevitable that all Christians will be unrepentant of various acts whose sinfulness is in dispute.
It is hypocritical for Mr. Boese — and the Exodus national staff — to presume that same-sex-attracted churchgoers are sinners and to single them out for repentance and discrimination, while the bulk of a church’s unrepentant sinners qualify for positions of authority.
Gay activism of the past simply wanted the real violence and abusive disrespect to end. Today it is about power and maintaining influence in all sectors of public opinion and discourse.
Exodus national staff frequently demonstrate a poor grip on history and politics, and this is one such occasion.
There is no single strain of “gay activism.” Some gay activist groups have always been focused on stopping harassment and discrimination, while others have always sought equality under the law, and still others have consistently espoused a variety of progressive or separatist viewpoints.
To tell a person to “come out” because it is supposed to be important for them and in the same breath tell them to do it for the good of all homosexual identifying people as a whole is extreme pressure indeed. It would appear that living life defined by anything other than homosexuality doesn’t cross the HRC radar.
The Exodus writer again overlooks the pressure that the ex-gay movement and its allies create upon youth. Youth are compelled by integrity and self-respect to rebel against the character attacks of antigay and ex-gay advocates who falsely assert that being honest about one’s sexual attraction is the equivalent of agreeing with ultraliberal politics, anti-Christian or antifamily values, sexual promiscuity, disease, or pedophilia.
The writer also resorts to strawman argumentation in asserting (falsely) that HRC calls upon anyone to define themselves solely, or even primarily, on the basis of their sexuality.
By multiplying personal pain into group power they [HRC] are afforded tremendous momentum to promote a political agenda that serves their best interests, not the individuals.
HRC is the nation’s largest gay-affiliated equal-rights lobbying organization because it enjoys the political support of some 2 million to 4 million Americans, gay and straight. That number, even if HRC’s supporters were primarily gay (same-sex-attracted), represents a fraction of the nation’s 10 million to 25 million predominantly same-sex-attracted individuals, but there can be little doubt that HRC’s equal-rights agenda does represent the interests of its individual supporters.
Instead of “coming out” I propose we “opt out” and choose to live life beyond homosexuality.
The writer, Exodus spokesman Randy Thomas, proposes that individuals not admit that they are same-sex-attracted.
We opt out of being told that we only have one option concerning the stewardship of our sexuality. We opt out of being led to believe that we have to force our ourselves, our family and society to look at us only through the filter of a homosexual belief system crafted by gay activists in Washington DC.
It is Mr. Thomas and his political allies who assert that same-sex-attracted individuals have only one option, one choice of belief systems — neofundamentalist absolutism or amoral homosexual sleaze. Oddly enough, Exodus has been calling this choice of two extremes “self-determination.”
Tolerance advocates, on the other hand, allow SSA individuals to maturely choose their own political, moral, and spiritual beliefs, and to choose appropriate and mature sexual behavior within the guidelines of their moral and religious beliefs.
We opt for choosing our own identity in Christ and we opt for personal empowerment to honor God and others the way we know He would want us to.
Mr. Thomas falsely implies that those people of faith who choose a path other than the Exodus way are not choosing an identity in Christ.
Tens of thousands over 28 years have benefited from Exodus.
Mr. Thomas fails to explain why Dr. Robert Spitzer (whose study was praised by Mr. Thomas last week) and his aides in the ex-gay movement were only able to locate 200 people who could report a five-year benefit from ex-gay therapies.
We never lived in a closet and are not afraid to be transparent today.
By encouraging people to conceal their apolitical same-sex-attraction and to describe their sexual attraction as “heterosexual,” Mr. Thomas is indeed encouraging people to live life in a closet surrounded by a growing maze of verbal and logical obfuscation.
But Exodus does not have to promote a lifestyle of obfuscation, excommunication, and inaction toward harassment.
If the Exodus national staff opposes violence in the schools, then it should propose antibullying programs that it can live with. Exodus should halt its false assertions that “coming out” as same-sex-attracted amounts to “identification” with homosexuality or “gay activism.” And if Exodus is really opposed to the culture war, then it should stop attempting to shut down gay-straight efforts at dialogue and nonviolence.