By Justin Lee
For years, former leaders and “success stories” of the ex-gay movement have been coming out and saying that ex-gay ministries don’t really work as advertised.
But if that’s so, why are these ministries still as popular as they are, after all these years?
One of the main reasons has to do with faith. A 2007 Barna Group study found that 91% of young non-Christians and 80% of young churchgoers believe that Christianity is anti-gay. And yet, a 2003 study by Christian Community found that approximately 10% of churchgoing high schoolers identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Our churches are filled with LGBT young people who believe that their own faith is against them.
Why do they believe this? There are, of course, a handful of Bible passages that (according to some interpretations) cast negative light on same-sex relationships, but that doesn’t justify Christianity’s strong public reputation of being anti-gay. The Bible never says gay people must become straight. It never says gay people are worse sinners than anyone else. And a growing number of Christians believe that it doesn’t even condemn same-sex relationships at all when properly interpreted.
In reality, Christians are divided on Bible interpretation, and yet, the popular image of the church is that it’s not only united in its condemnation of gay people, but that it’s virtually obsessed with the subject. It’s no wonder, then, that gay kids in the church (and their parents) are willing to go to such great lengths to try to change their orientation.
But what would happen if gay-affirming Christians became more vocal? What if they could better articulate their love for gay people, and challenge this idea that gay people need to change?
We here at The Gay Christian Network want to make that happen.
Starting this weekend, we’re working with affirming churches from across denominational lines to begin a series of mini-conferences called “Reclaiming Christianity” as a way to take a stand. The events will include training in gay-positive Bible arguments, screening of a pro-LGBT Christian film called Through My Eyes, and group discussion on practical steps to take to combat homophobia in churches and local communities. We’d love the help of Ex-Gay Watch readers in getting the word out.
The kickoff event will be tomorrow, June 19, in Raleigh, NC. After that, events are scheduled in Indianapolis, Birmingham, Detroit, and Houston, with more to follow. The events are being sponsored by local LGBT-affirming churches in each of these cities, and organized by The Gay Christian Network, an interdenominational nonprofit organization serving LGBT and supportive Christians around the world.
If you’re interested, we’d love for you to be a part of what we’re doing. Details are on the conference website at ChristiansWhoLove.com.
In the meantime, I’m listening. What do you think affirming Christians should do to counter the anti-LGBT messages?
Guest author Justin Lee is the Executive Director of the Gay Christian Network.