The legalist ex-gays of the Restored Hope Network have been using Facebook to lob charges of “antinomianism” against Exodus International, fomenting gossip and schism within the ranks of RHN members’ former parent organization.
“Antinomianism” is a pejorative label that is used by legalists against people who contend that Christians are saved first by grace, not works. The label is especially popular among those who reduce the Bible into an antisex manual — rather than a collection of spiritual journeys, traditions, and moral codes regulating economic and social life — and who then gossip about the alleged sexual impurity of other people and promise to summon God’s power and rain eternal hellfire upon their victims.
Over the past year, Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, has made two moderate assertions that have incited scandal among the self-righteous:
- gay Christians are no more damned than other Christian sinners saved by grace, and
- the sexual-orientation-change therapies being sold by RHN member “ministries” (some of which are for-profit) have never successfully “transformed” anyone from gay to straight, and sometimes have the opposite effect — reinforcing same-sex attraction while exacerbating dysfunctional attitudes and unhealthy behavior.
These two moderate Christian statements prompted RHN leaders — who in 2009 supported Exodus involvement in an evangelical campaign to execute Uganda’s sexual minorities, and who to this day show no regret for that support — to cry, “Heresy!”
RHN describes itself as a defender of partial Biblical sexual morality, not Biblical economic morality nor Biblical social morality. RHN’s members subscribe to economic and social policies — survival of the fittest, regressive taxation of the poor, unregulated pollution of the environment, detention-without-trial of selected sinners, and pre-emptive war against Muslims, to name a few policies — that most Christians around the world agree are immoral.
Even regarding RHN’s supposed specialty, sexual morality, RHN fails to adhere to its own standards. Why, for example, is RHN silent regarding the Bible’s assertions that:
- women are the property of their fathers until marriage
- fathers may exchange daughters to potential suitors in exchange for farm animals
- widows may become the involuntary property of the deceased man’s brother
- rape victims must marry the rapist, or be punished just as severely.
RHN is, in fact, both legalistic and antinomian:
Cheap grace: RHN peddles a cheapened Biblical morality and selective grace that transforms its own economic and social sins into supposed virtues. Obsessed with lust, RHN’s cheap grace excuses wrath, envy, pride, greed, gluttony, and deceit. It also ignores certain barbaric Biblical codes regarding marriage.
Legalism: RHN singles out one subject for pathological obsession. RHN butchers Bible verses as well as scientific fact in order to condemn gender-nonconforming and sexually nonconforming people under Biblical codes that RHN itself refuses to follow. RHN claims Biblical fidelity, yet lacks the courage (at least in the United States) to publicly support the Bible’s only “cure” for “effeminate” men and for independent women: Execution.
Un-Biblical counseling: Instead of providing a Biblical solution — or acknowledging that the Bible is an imperfect and sometimes-unethical document — RHN sees an opportunity in un-Biblical but profitable products: literature blaming parents, liberals, freedom of thought, heterosexual predators, moderate Christians, and other bogeymen for their own uncured bisexuality or homosexuality; expensive ex-gay boot camps that detain people (sometimes involuntarily) with counselors who seek to alienate counselees from their parents and friends; and political endorsements for ultraconservative politicians like Rep. Sally Kern (R-Okla.).
Who, again, are the real heretics of the ex-gay movement?