During the past few election cycles there has been much discussion about the lives of gay individuals and couples. And sadly some of this has come from those who are voices in the ex-gay movement. In efforts to advance partisan political goals, some ministry leaders have made claims about “change” and about “the homosexual lifestyle” that I believe are neither true nor Christian.
It is difficult to know why these ex-gay representatives have sacrificed their intergrity in this manner. Perhaps they fell victim to the notion that objective truth is less important than political spin, or perhaps they convinced themselves that what they said was true – or close enough. I suspect that they simply believe that they are right and therefore whatever they say or do is justified without any need for objective verification. Who cares if you lie about sinners?
As a result, I believe that the ex-gay movement has severed whatever connection that they had to same-sex attracted persons. Having set themselves up as condemners of gay people, they are not approachable by those whom they demonize. Exodus, Love Won Out, and other ministries have placed political advancement ahead of providing care for those who struggle with a sexual orientation that is inconsistent with their faith. And that is sad.
But the election results last night have given some reasons to reconsider these priorities. It appears that using the threat of gay marriage or the fear of gay people may not be the political motivator that it was just two years ago.
Of the eight states that voted on whether to exclude gay persons from equal treatment by the state, only two – South Carolina with 78% and Tennessee with 81% – had the overwhelming crush for gay couples that was the hall mark of prior elections. Five other states passed anti-gay amendments with support ranging from 52% to 63%. And one, Arizona, has not yet been called but at this time it appears that it will fail.
More importantly, the objective of getting out conservative Republican voters does not appear to have been successful.
Without certainty of partisan gains, it’s time for ex-gay leaders to ask themselves if its worth it. Is the constant demonization of gay persons and the further separation and rejection of those whom you claim to be your target for ministry worth it if you have no political gain to justify your efforts?
Matthew 16:26 asks the question “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” I would ask what good it is to sacrifice the soul of your ministry… for no gain at all?
I would recommend to Exodus – and if they don’t listen, then to any ex-gay ministers who will – that this might be a good time to return to your original mission. Let go of the politics. Stop lobbying and campaigning and then you won’t feel pressure to lie, spin, and redefine words. Show compassion to those whom you see as your flock. Demonstrate love – not “tough love”, or “love the sinner, ruin his life”, or “love, except…”, but love the way Christ intended.
This may cost you something. You may find financial support is not so readily available when you aren’t willing to advance someone’s political career or power play. Access to the White House or Senate offices may not be given when your message does not include fanciful tales about “lifestyles” or “secular progressives”. But in exchange you may regain something – your integrity.