Good As You blogger Jeremy Hooper was copied on correspondence from a listserv of socially conservative activists last week — correspondence that reveals less-than-healing and far-from-gracious opinions of Restored Hope Network board member Robert Gagnon.
It is worth reminding readers that RHN is, according to its own mission, supposed to share God’s love and heal broken people — not mangle Bible verses and vent defensive judgments upon everyone who has been cheated or injured by the advocacy of fraudulent and unbiblical treatments for homosexuality.
Responding to Exodus International president Alan Chambers and executive vice president Randy Thomas via email, Gagnon pontificated at length (italics are mine) about the contempt that he feels for his target audience:
It should occasion no surprise that I regard homosexual practice as perverse behavior, quite simply because this is a basic scriptural view. The verb “to pervert” is from the Latin meaning “to turn thoroughly,” i.e. away from the truth or right course of action. Applied to sexual practice, a perversion is “any of various means of obtaining sexual gratification that are generally regarded as being unnatural or abnormal.” Paul in Scripture makes a point of singling out homosexual practice as sexual behavior that is manifestly contrary to nature in that it is clear that a man and a woman are sexual complements or counterparts, not males with males or females with females. He also refers to such behavior as self-“dishonoring” (atimazo/atimia) and as “indecent/shameful behavior” (askhemosune). The Levitical prohibitions and some Deuteronomistic texts add the description of to’evah, something abominable or abhorrent to God. The latter (along with Revelation) adds the epithet of “dogs” to men who actively emasculate their appearance to attract male sex partners in a cultic context, treating themselves as “sacred” (hence the Hebrew name qedeshim). Bestiality is an even more unnatural form of sexual practice since it is cross-species. Adult-consensual incest is also a particularly perverse form of sexual practice since it involves sex with someone who is too much of a familial same. But Scripture treats homosexual practice as even more severely unnatural because the male-female requirement for sexual relations is foundational for all that follows (so Genesis and Jesus) and because sex or gender is a more constituent feature of sexual behavior than kinship.
This is a different way of looking at homosexual practice than Mr. Chambers does, who has frequently compared homosexual practice with gluttony (imagine comparing having sexual intercourse on a given evening with a person of the same sex on the one hand and eating an overly large meal on the other) and has repeatedly stated the manifestly absurd notion that no sin is more severe than any other in God’s eyes, in any respect, certainly not homosexual practice. In Mr. Chambers’ own words, “there’s no place in the Bible that says this sin [of homosexual practice] is worse than any other. We’re guilty in the church of creating a hierarchy of sin, and that’s done tremendous damage.” Except that Jesus told us that the male-female requirement is foundational and Paul singled homosexual practice as “abhorrent” to God, etc. Now we see that not even Mr. Chambers believes the absurdity that all sin is equal in all respects. For if all behavior were equally bad, then Mr. Chambers should never have become so upset with things said on this thread, using such shock terms as “disgusting,” “horrific,” “shameful,” “anti-Christlike,” “evil,” “vile,” “awful,” “inhumane,” and “hypocrisy.” It is obvious that Mr. Chambers regards what he has heard on this thread as really bad, not just run-of-the-mill bad. But then Mr. Chambers has never been known for his logical consistency in theological thinking (he is a scriptural cherrypicker, pulling particular texts out of context and distorting their meaning to conform to his own particular agenda). He is, by his own public admission, just a “simple-minded Jesus follower,” a self-tag that has justified to himself his shoddy exegesis of the biblical text, notably his cheap grace philosophy. I wish it were not so but sadly it is so.
So, technically, those who willfully engage in unrepentant homosexual practice could be labelled “perverts” (note that I am not referring to persons who struggle to resist same-sex attractions but occasionally fall into temptation, much less to those who merely experience same-sex attractions but don’t act on or actively entertain such impulses). However, I generally steer clear of such a label, not because it does not accurately describe the self-affirming behavior (it does: the behavior is an extreme unnatural behavior in terms of attempting to unite two discordant bodies) but because it leads to an objectifying of persons that may promote hate for the person and not just for the behavior.
I do not believe that all or most active/self-affirming homosexual persons are pedophiles or rapists, not by a long stretch. I do believe that men are generally more perverse in their sexual expression as a group and that in the absence of a socializing influence of a woman in a sexual relationship men are even more given to perverse activity (including attractions to developed adolescents). Here the issue is not so much that they have homosexual attractions per se as the fact that they are males and males interacting sexually in the absence of a true sexual counterpart (a woman). I also believe (and this is just basic common sense) that having homosexual males as boy scout leaders is as stupid as having heterosexual males as girl scout leaders. It is a recipe for sexual abuse.
Now as for John Paulk. … Randy Thomas, your VP, posted an appalling write-up of John Paulk that was generally celebratory for John (no doubt because he spoke harshly against reparative therapy, even though he has never undergone reparative therapy; and this pleases Mr. Thomas and Mr. Chambers) rather than mourning John’s new state. You say: “As for my dear friend of 20 years, John Paulk. Get the story right. He isn’t perfect or without fault, but he didn’t seek divorce. He hasn’t “come out.” He is living a celibate life. He is involved in a wonderful Church in Portland and deserves better from all of you. Or were you just using him to promote his agenda? From most of what I have seen below, I will assume the worst.”
I think it is you, Mr. Chambers, who must get the story straight. John is being divorced because for years he refused to commit to monogamy and sexual faithfulness to his wife Anne Paulk. You say that he is “living a celibate life.” Perhaps he is, but if that is so it conflicts with his refusal to be commit (sic) to monogamy in relation to Anne. Why would someone for years refuse to commit to monogamy and fidelity to his wife and then, as the divorce process was under way, choose to live a celibate life? Why doesn’t he just go back to Anne and tell her that he repents and now will make that commitment? Makes no sense to me.
There is certainly nothing in John Paulk’s recent statement that would lead one to believe that he still regards homosexual practice as sin. He does nothing but apologize for the “ex-gay lie” and appears to speak of same-sex desires as a beautiful thing given by God and wants to do as much as he can to “give back to” the community of persons who want to promote homosexual activity. Even if he now wants to claim only that his sexual orientation never changed one would expect some clarification that he is not renouncing abstinence from homosexual practice. One searches in vain for such a statement. Instead he rejects everything he once said and did as a person who left behind a homosexual life. “I know there are still accounts of my ‘ex-gay’ testimony out there being publicized by various groups, including two books that I wrote about my journey. … I discourage anyone from purchasing and selling these books or promoting my ‘ex-gay’ story because they do not reflect who I am now or what I believe today.” That doesn’t sound like someone who has no intent of having a homosexual relationship.
Dr. Robert Gagnon
Upcoming posts will dissect Gagnon’s thoughts in greater detail. For now, it is sufficient to point out that Gagnon’s thoughts reflect the same wrongs that he condemns:
- Pervasive Biblical cherry-picking, with sloppy exegesis
- Graceless and highly selective legalism
- Sexual obsession
- Projection of bizarre and predatory lusts (his own?) onto all males who lack a woman
As Jeremy Hooper notes, “THIS. IS. WHO. NOM. IS. PAYING. TO. SPEAK. TO. YOUNG. CONSERVATIVES. ON. THE. SUBJECT. OF. MARRIAGE. Is there any lingering question on how NOM, senior staffer Jennifer Roback Morse, and the associated ‘protect marriage’ agenda truly sees us? I mean, how can NOM possibly deny animus when their FIVE-TIME STAR SPEAKER says this kind of thing about people like us?”
Indeed. Gagnon views sexually honest, moral, and authentic LGBT persons as repulsive, depraved, a threat to society, and worthy of harsh prosecution. His view of marriage as a sexual tool — virtually the only hope a man has to avoid pedophilia and bestiality — is contemptible. And the outcome of his half-logic about scouting — that gay men should lead the Girl Scouts and lesbians should lead the Boy Scouts — will come as a surprise to many of his peers.