A gay man from Sydney, Australia, says six months of Christian programs to heal his homosexuality only confirmed his sexuality rather than curing it.

According to an article in Sunday’s Sydney Morning Herald, “Shaun,” now 35, attended two three-month programs with Liberty Christian Ministries, in the Sydney suburb of East Balmain. He said he tried the ex-gay ministry because he wanted to live up to the expectations of his family, friends and church. He was 21 at the time and had been referred to the group by a minister.

Every week for three months, he met about 40 homosexual men and women at inner-Sydney churches. They sat on pews, sang worship songs and watched videos that explained the ”causes” of their homosexuality, which were usually linked to abuse or rejection in their childhoods. The group’s leader, Christopher Keane, told of his personal journey from ”active homosexual” to married heterosexual. To close each session they confessed their weekly sins. Admissions of gay thoughts, gay pornography and gay sex were followed by prayer.

Keane presented himself as a former homosexual, Shaun says, but “admitted to the group that he still had sexual thoughts about men.” Keane is now retired from Liberty, and the ministry is angry that the Herald tried persistently to contact him in relation to the story.

In its official response to the article, Liberty Christian Ministries also objects to the suggestion that it promises “‘cures’ and easy solutions to homosexuality”:

We believe in overcoming, cleansing, and healing, not ‘cures’ or ‘fixes’.  Change is often long-term and hard effort and more of a marathon than a sprint, as I acknowledged in my response to Swan.  Yet for Paul Martin in the article, this is just a ‘semantic’ word game.  However, it makes an enormous amount of difference when it comes to having healthy or unhealthy expectations of change and how likely a person is to last the distance.  Since Martin and Venn-Brown didn’t last the distance in overcoming their same-sex attractions it’s little wonder that they think the difference between ‘healing’ and ‘cure’ are just semantic.  But neither do they have the final word on it.

Yet “semantic word game” is exactly right. What is the goal of this lengthy struggle if not, essentially, a cure? It’s a cure that takes time and effort, according to its proponents, but still, essentially, a cure. Not a quick fix, but a fix nevertheless. Your homosexuality is a problem, a disorder, but last the course and you’ll be free of it. Why pretend it’s anything other than a promise of a cure?

As the basis for its message of healing for same-sex attraction, Liberty relies on a biblical passage long used by Exodus International to prop up its teaching that “change is possible.” “Same-sex healing does occur in this day,” the group says, citing 1 Corinthians 6:9-12 (with emphasis in original):

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (ESV)

Liberty Christian Ministries, Inc, is part of Exodus Asia Pacific and one of eight Exodus ministries in Australia.

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