Prodigal Sons: Exodus Ex-Gays Shun the Survivors
In a June 21 press release, ex-gay network Exodus International claimed that it “welcomes dialogue on homosexuality” when Exodus and a new network of former ex-gays hold rival conferences later this month in southern California.
Exodus president Alan Chambers said:
Dialogue on this issue only benefits the community and the culture at large. It is a topic worth discussing and I am happy to share my experience as a part of a much-needed exchange of thoughts on this issue.
But just a day later, in a June 22 statement for Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink partisan political newsletter, Exodus executive vice president Randy Thomas belittled the former ex-gays’ invitation to dialogue:
Thomas said the message of that counter-conference denies people hope.”We live in a great country where people can have freedom of assembly,” he said. Unfortunately, the organizers of the counter-conference will “try to project their experience onto all of us, when in fact thousands of people, myself included, have overcome homosexuality.”
Each year, Exodus’ annual conference features keynote speakers and lectures denouncing equality and tolerance for same-sex-attracted persons; generalizing from their own sexually and spiritually irresponsible pasts to the same-sex-attracted population as a whole; and demanding that Exodus’ discredited cookie-cutter approach to sexual struggle be forced upon youths in public schools.
The Ex-Gay Survivor’s Conference, on the other hand, will feature no keynote speakers and will consist instead of workshops in which former ex-gays finally speak for themselves about their own personal and spiritual journeys.
As survivor’s conference co-organizer Peterson Toscano points out:
Our gathering next week is about people, not protest. It’s about pastoral care, not propaganda.
By Exodus’ own admission, ex-gay “therapies” either don’t work or cause further harm for more than 70 percent of participants. So if there are “thousands” of ex-gays who live celibate same-sex-attracted or bisexual lives while misidentifying themselves as former homosexuals, then by Exodus’ admission, there are tens of thousands of people, loved by God, whom Exodus member ministries shun.
Exodus’ misbehavior reminds me of the Biblical parable of the prodigal son told by Jesus of Nazareth.
In that parable, a wayward son demands his inheritance from his father, departs, and wastes the inheritance in a bout of reckless living. After coming to his senses, the son returns home seeking mercy from his father. Jesus praises the father for welcoming home the prodigal son with gifts and sacrifice, while warning against the arrogance and envy expressed by a brother who is well-behaved but ungracious and selfish.
The parable might be applied to Exodus’ treatment of former ex-gays in two different ways:
1. Former ex-gays are the father, waiting for politically wayward and reckless ex-gays to come to their senses and return home to a nonpartisan faith and honest lifestyle.
2. Ex-gays are the envious brother who obey the letter of the law while forgetting to offer grace, hospitality, and self-sacrifice when their prodigal brethren, the former ex-gays, return home in hope of reconciliation.
Exodus would be wise — albeit politically incorrect — to honor the message of Jesus by modeling the grateful and generous father or the repentant prodigal, and not the unrepentant brother.
It was inhospitable, and therefore un-Biblical, for Exodus senior leadership to reject the survivors’ dinner invitation in the especially snide and political manner demonstrated by Thomas and Focus on the Family. But it’s not too late for other Exodus-affiliated ministers to honor the Bible and return the hospitality that has been offered — if not by accepting the invitation, then at least by acknowledging the invitation and opening channels for possible future communication.
It’s About People — Not Protest
Interesting note (and I BY NO MEANS intend to spark controversy here): inhospitality is one of the WORST sins in the Jewish faith – kindness to the stranger is always stressed in the Torah (see Exodus 22:21, for example.) loving male-male sex, so often lumped into the category of “Sodomy” by the AFA, FOF and their ilk, probably has nothing to do with the literary message in the Genesis account of Sodom and Gomorrah- however, INHOSPITALITY has EVERYTHING to do with it. No matter what, whether or not homosexuality was part of the culture of S&G, rejection of strangers is absolutely a factor in the cities’ demise. When the Torah wants to prove a point, it really drives it forward: How much ruder can you be to a stranger when you say, “Get out here so I can rape you”? The so-called “sin of Sodom” has actually been described by ancient Jewish sources as inhospitality.
They think WE’RE the Sodomites, but actually, EXODUS and their allies are the true Sodomites, trading kindness for arrogance when considering the Stranger at their door.
I have written a comment on Warren Throckmorton’s blog, addressing questions there, and since these are questions/concerns we have been answering and addressing in other places, I thought I’d direct folks there in case they want to learn more about our thoughts and intentions behind the dinner.
It might be a bit before that comment shows up. He’s on vacation next week and I think he might be moderating all the comments during that time. It’s just a guess but it would explain why your comment hasn’t yet shown up there.
Considering the nuts that have dropped by over there lately, I’m not sure I blame him for giving himself a buffer during that time.
Thanks for the info, David. I’ve cross-posted it on my blog.
If nothing else, this clearly shows that Randy Thomas is much more interested in an agenda than people. I had wondered about that for some time, but I believe he just proved that to the world.
I think Randy’s message says a great deal about where he is on his journey.
Randy thomas is a misguided silly queen who thinks denial makes reality different. Go away Randy. You are an annoying thorn in the sides of gay men and lesbian women who like themselves. Take a lesson from us on that one.
Interesting thoughts by Emily K about Sodom and Gomorrah. I’ve been mentioning inhospitality in my posts at the Charisma Online Forum. Thanks for the tip about ancient Jewish sources.
Since Sodom was a typical town it had many men with wives and children. The Biblical account says that all the men of Sodom showed up at Lot’s house. This means that 95% of these men were heterosexuals.
In Romans 1, Paul condemns two groups of people for their same sex behavior. First are the men who leave their wives at home and head to the Roman baths to engage the services of young male prostitutes, a common form of birth control in the day. Second were the idol worshipers who were having sex of both kinds during the fertility ceremonies they had at the pagan temples there in Rome.
In these references it seems to me that we’re talking about heterosexuals behaving badly. Men giving up there “natural affection for women” and being with other men instead. It’s “unnatural” and therefore sinful in Biblical terms. It doesn’t speak to those who have no “natural attraction” to persons of the opposite sex in the first place.
This works both ways. When someone like Alan Chambers marries a woman and has relations with her (after nine months, was it?) this is just as unnatural and therefore sinful in Biblical terms as the same sex relations by heterosexual men that the Bible condemns. These sham marriages all too often end with disastrous effects on the spouse and especially any children involved. Former NJ Governor McGreevey is a sad example of that.
At the forum, I often ask for the chapter and verse in the gospels where Jesus has something negative to say about gays. Most agree that they can’t find anything. Lucy, however, comes up with this:
Mat 10:15 Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!
This relates to Jesus commissioning His followers to go to the surrounding towns and villages and bring them the good news He was preaching. He’s saying that if the people in these villages are inhospitable to His messengers as they were to the visitors in Sodom, their fate will be worse. This has nothing to do with gays. Instead, he’s confirming that it was inhospitality that led to Sodom’s downfall, as Emily mentioned.
I was hoping this whole new message from Alan Chambers was a positive sign. However, as I watch it unfold, unfortunately I am becoming more convinced it is political and posturing orchestrated for Public Relations Purposes.
Before Coming out of the Ex-gay movement, I worked as an assistant press secretary for US Senator Jesse HELMS 1984 Re-election campaign. I became very familiar with these tactics. My new belief system wants to look for and hope for the good in everything I see but I can’t’ help but have a bit of cynicism when I see this.
Most likely Exodus and Focus On The Family have been advised by some HUGE Public Relations Firm on how to better sell their message of false hope and lies to the World. I think it makes more sense to set up this internal fight between them, “good cop, bad cop.” This way part of the organization can be seen as compassionate and appeal to those who want to approach their loved ones with love & compassion and they can also be seen as tough love and hardcore to appeal to their base to continue to use fear to raise the Millions in not Billions of dollars they raise to push their extremist right-wing political agenda of fear and bigotry.
IT is sad that since 9/11 Americans have felt we were fight global terrorism and have been distracted from the biggest terrorist in the World those that live here in the US… The Religious Right and The Bush Administration continue to push this country down a path driven by FEAR… If that is not terror I am not sure not sure what its.
Unlike 9/11 where we saw the immediate impact in dramatic MEDIA images… THE damages and the implications of the TERROR the Religious right spreads in this country and uses to manipulate its voters, the American people, GOOD well-meaning church going people doesn’t show up on the news!
IT shows in our daily lives through the hate crimes, the discrimination, the bigotry and the second class citizenship that many of us are forced to live in. IT shows in the large number of Teen Suicides as families–although well-intentioned–drive their GLBTQ or just exploring children to SUICIDE… for fear and desperation for lack of being able to conform to this PERFECT IDEAL standard that the Fear Mongers push on us.
I say, my heart aches every day for those still caught up in the ex-gay movement. I lost many friends when I can out of it nearly 19 years ago. They told me never to contact them again… I ache, because I love & care about them and I know the torture of trying to change who we are created to be and become something else–it’s not possible!
I say there may be “success stories” in the Ex-gay movement…. but those folks were never Gay to begin with… They were still exploring, developing, and or were bisexual… I rely on the Kinsey Continuum of Sexuality… and for those of us at either end… Exclusively Gay or Exclusively Non-gay in ORIENTATION…. There is no chance of changing that orientation… but for those who fall in the middle of the two–more towards the bisexual ORIENTATION… they may indeed change their BEHAVIORS… and lead very satisfied and fulfilled lives if they are blessed enough to fall in love—and it happens that the person they fall in love with happens to be the opposite sex instead of the same sex.
Thanks for letting me share my comments. I hope everyone who follows Ex-Gay Watch will be at the Wonderful Survivors Conference In Irvine, CA this weekend–Friday through Sunday… you can still register on line through http://www.SOULFORCE.org or http://www.BEYONDEXGAY.com This will be a great opportunity for love, hope, and healing to be close to lies, and false hope… if someone from the Exodus conferences wants and alternative… we will be there… and it is less than a mile away… Something me & my friends didn’t have in 1988 when we attended Exodus in Los Angeles–no where to go for help–by the grace of God, I found a way out two years later… but many of my friends are still suffering.
Blessings of love, joy, peace and Health to all,
Over at TownHall, Matt Barber’s bleat about the marriage legislative vote in MA generated a lot of posts on their blog thread. And pretty much the same people commented.
I tried something more diplomatic. That when someone comes to you and says that you misunderstand them and are hurting them in the process of that misunderstanding, then how can this be called compassion to turn a cold ear to that person’s own experience?
Then I told them about my gay soldier friend I was worried about who is serving in Iraq. How young he was and how long he’d been serving.
And that he had hopes and dreams….and was risking life and limb just so that those on the thread could just dismiss his bravery and courage…and claim moral superiority an not reciprocate the rights this young man was fighting for.
I told them to pray for him, pray for them all.
And guess what?
I might as well have said nothing. They all got into another petty squabble, and didn’t even MENTION him or respond to the post!
Except the one gay man that’s there regularly. He was the only one.
So I went back and told them it was hard to be civil to such miserly ingrates, who didn’t even invoke a prayer for those soldiers in Iraq, let alone the gay ones.
I said they hadn’t considered if THEY were worth the risks he and the other soldiers were taking. I said I was so worried because there were so many casualities this month.
Inhospitable is right. Ungrateful is right. What a bunch of arrogant people over there.
It’s true…it’s a moral impossibility to benefit and a justifiable vilification of an entire group of people.
And any benefit at all, requires the moral application of equal justice and protection.
And nothing less.
They do spout a lot of religious text and Scripture over there….except the part about treating your neighbor as you’d be treated.
Let alone saying thank you and welcome….when they are being treated BETTER than they are treating their gay neighbor.
Could these conferences be held in the capital of what might be called the nerve-center of the new anti-gay regime: Salt Lake City. What American religion has the breadth and scope of influence that the Mormon Church has on homosexuals? It’s not to the degree of what Islamic gays might endure in some middle-eastern countries but Salt Lake City comes close. Every facet of life in Utah is modeled on some “ideal” family and the homosexual community is constantly embroiled in defending their civil rights…(the gay/straight alliances in high schools debacle, for one example, happened to start with a high school located in Salt Lake City). The next new leader of NARTH is a Mormon. The money paid to influence anti-gay legislation is funneled from a bank account resting in a vault in Salt Lake City. The Boy Scout Councils are heavily manipulated by the local LDS “wards” and we all know where most young boys are indoctrinated about the evils of homosexuality and any impressionable male homosexual scout is affected by LDS dogma.
When will we see this sort of a conference in the shadows of the spires of the Mormon Temple?
I think I would even host/cater it if you did come. I make a mean Jell-0 salad. Just tell me how many to expect?
Thank you, Bill, for your follow-up. I had thought that Jesus might have mentioned the inhospitality of S&G, but I couldn’t remember what book and verse. Thank you for quoting just that.
Jerry, your analysis brings about an alarming new perspective on things. I’m very appreciative of that.
Regan, I’ll send up a prayer for your gay soldier friend.
Along with Mr. Thomas’ dismissive comment is this little gem from the author of the article, Wendy Cloyd:
I detect a lot of disdain and sarcasm in this quote. But am I surprised? Not at all, this is unfortunately typical of Focus. They treat any and all discussion of GLBT issues as some plot by activists to spread an agenda. They are cynical and suspicious. I used to think critics of Focus were exaggerating regarding how this organization responds to issues and people it disagrees with. Now I know they weren’t. This kind of casual dismissal of people in service of a political agenda, particularly from an organization claiming Christian values and principles is chilling and troubling. It casts a shadow on everything Focus does. If Ms. Cloyd thinks she served the cause, she’s dead wrong; she’s merely reinforced the notion that Focus cares only about winning the culture war and doesn’t care who it hurts in the process.
Luke 18:9-14 — maybe?
In the recent post about the 700 Club, Pat Robertson said that gay is a misnomer, and that most gay people live unhappy and lonely lives (I hope I got it right since I did not want to listen to it again). However, these issues happening in the exgay world suggest a group of people who are very unhappy (I am not saying most or all–just the Thomas, Exodus, etc. types). The idea that a dialogue is a threatening thing suggests people who are not comfortable with the actual message they are presenting.
As I have said before, I have never seen from Thomas any sense of joy or happiness. He seems like a shell. His ideas are overly simplistic. His blogs are quite depressing. I hope that is not the case, but I am not convinced that Thomas is a very happy person.
When you stage two views against each other, there is great potential to recognize one as being good and another being evil. Any institution that would stage itself against something has great possibility of creating this dynamic. I believe it’s key to understand that evil does not exist outside of good. Evil, could be considered a bent good, I don’t understand evil to be it’s own institution. By all of this I mean that we should call to question any institution that stages itself against anything. We should always be within and environment, radically identified and radically different, bringing redemption to the bent good in creation through Christ.
So the Ex-Gay institution staging itself against gay people would be considered evil? 🙂
This brings a radical new perspective to the phrase “Get bent!”
Any institution, as you suggest, that is bent against those who are created in the image of God, is bent good, which can be called evil. No matter what is in it’s name, no matter what it claims as a message. Bent good, is always bent good. Evil is always evil. Christ needs no defense for the choices he made, he stands unbent. Only a message that proclaims no evil stands tall, only a message unbent. Take the time to digest that. Woe to those who cause little ones to become bent. We all have this responsibility. I think you caught my vibe 🙂
I wish I could attend the survivors gathering, as it’s called. My prayers with you all. Our God hears our voice, He does listen. Our God hears the voices of His children.
If Christians followed only what Jesus said, there wouldn’t be any mention of homosexuality – just like nothing was mentioned of it in all of his “unbent” words in the gospels.
People loving other people – forget their gender, just people loving people – the expression of love – is a complete good. Organizations that seek to destroy that love seek to destroy good – and destruction of good is evil.
When I see the girl I love, I feel I can only do good in this world! She has that loving effect on me. I can do no harm to my fellow humans, and I praise God for allowing our paths to cross. 😀
Now, I’m a religious Jew and I could say, “I’m going to pray for you” but that would seem boastful of my faithfulness and condescending to those who don’t believe in what I believe- and I’m not going to do it (unless requested, as Regan did a couple days ago).
However, YOU might want to pray doubly hard for me: I’m a gay AND a Jew. The whole “transformation through Christ” thing does nothing for me! [not to offend all the gay and gay-friendly Christians who post here] *wink* 😉
I actually think we’re on the same page, but the bent and unbent analogies still confused me – but I am easily confused 😉
I think Thomas’s reply is indicative of what I mean by that side running, and not really wanting to participate in a forum or situation where they are not in total control.
I’m trying to figure out what would happen in the anonymity of a blog discussion.
I’ve been spending some time over at TownHall. com, and each and every article on gay issues, written by Matt Barber or LaShawn Barber….brings out a lot of emotions. More than any other subject.
There are very few gay people and even fewer supporters that stay around for long. I think I’m one of two supporters. And there are only two gay men that I can find.
But the response is the same and has a distinct patter. Despite long threads by individuals, there is still a canned quality to what they are saying.
And I think there are only two responses to whether being gay is a choice or not.
That it is, and gay people can choose NOT to have sex, or they can choose to perform like a heterosexual.
There is no consideration at all that
1 : this tends to be tried, and fails because both of those situations are not natural, or comfortable or should be expected of any human being over an entire lifetime.
2. That to make someone do that, also requires a disincentive to be honest.
Choice, is the LEAST of options, on any level.
And Exodus, has made a lot of straight people base their entire response to homosexuality on the option and ABILITY to choose.
Can someone please tell me why, that no matter how many times you remind such people. Even those who wear their Christianity on their sleeve and spout sermons and judgements….do not employ the prime directive of treating someone as you’d be treated. Or even acknowleging when that neighbor is treating you BETTER than you are treating them.
Several people there have said that they have tried to have an honest and open dialogue.
Finally I told them that honesty and truth have been the first casualties in discussions on gay people.
And as far as the few gay people and their supporters are concerned, it was as if we were never there.
I think some of you have noticed how Dr. Throckmorton has treated me. Long before I said something that he got offended or defensive about.
He and Alan Chambers have also treated me as if I wasn’t there.
I don’t have much, as far as gaydar is concerned.
But I have realized there is a smugness that ex gays have developed. As if their situation is a major accomplishment of which they feel very superior to those still trapped in the bondage and struggle of their homosexuality.
Maybe as an ever straight person, I’m almost amused by that kind of behavior. I don’t wave my heterosexuality around like a flag, nor do I expect a pat on the back for it.
Relationships are difficult and aren’t any easier for straight people. But bailing altogether on any relationship, or such gymnastics to try and prove that your worth is IN the opposite sex relationship you display doesn’t seem a healthy way to represent heterosexuality either.
I wouldn’t dare lecture or throw sermons at gay people, especially when straight lives are such a mess.
And I don’t know what it’s like to be gay or carry that. I only know that I have been on the receiving end of prejudice. As a black person, or woman…or gay supportive person.
But as a straight person. You either have it or you don’t. And I think I”m assuming rightly, it’s the same for gay people.
I really can’t abide that ‘we’re so wonderful cause we’re straight’ attitude, or the betrayals that Randy Thomas represents in civil law.
And how horribly misinformed straight people are about their gay counterparts. No thanks to Thomas, Chambers or any other ex gay.
Honesty really is impossible. And that is the tragedy.
Because it’s also the first thing required to establish and maintain trust in ANY working and successful relationship.
I appreciate your post, pointing out some of the contentions and inconsistencies in how we manifest a message to a people group.
I want to make one small point about something you said regarding choice. I believe it is of our humanity that we have choice. We have not only the choice to love but also to choose the expressions of love. I would never tell someone that orientation dictates choice. Straight or gay. In other words, I consider it fully legitimate for someone to choose not to have sex, being gay, just as much as a heterosexual choosing not to have sex. It should be for the same reason, in fact, because they have chosen not to. To talk about it being not natural or uncomfortable is to push off responsibility in a choice that is built in to humanity. I would hope most people don’t make choices purely based on nature or comfort. Albeit, we all do make choices based on that, but it might not be the best in choice. I would argue Jesus raised the non-married status more than the married status, indicating that the Kingdom of Heaven did not operate on such terms. Some might argue one-flesh relationship, in this regard, is of an old order of things as far as the Kingdom of Heaven is concerned.
Just my thoughts on choice and humanity. Any orientation should not dictate whether or not someone has sex. That would be reducing the human sexual experience to something else, stripping our humanity from us.
Oh yeah, the choice is there. And since sex- specifically, making love to your loved one – can be thrilling and feel fulfilling and natural and good and right, humans (gay, straight, bi, trans, whatever) often choose to do it.
That given, just what exactly is the difference between a hetero choosing to have a loving sex life and a homo choosing to have a loving sex life?
Unless the only difference is what ppl personally find repulsive, or what they believe their god finds repulsive.
The great thing about choice is that it’s personal, and nobody else can make it.