Anne Paulk, executive director for the hardline ex-gay Restored Hope Network, has no formal academic certification in Christian scripture, history or doctrine; no professional expertise in mental health; no clear or singular attraction to women; and no documented personal experience with either same-sex activity or healthy same-sex romance.

Lack of competence in these areas effectively confines her online musings about homosexuality to the following lines of argument:

  • projection of her own ideological intent and behavior onto others
  • false guesses and assertions about what Christians or the Bible say, since she rarely quotes them
  • false guesses about what sexual minorities believe, since emphatically refuses to communicate with them

Case in point: The following Facebook post, published last week.

I, Anne, have this to say concerning sin struggles, identity and marriage or singleness:Another portion of the ‘gay’ Christian statements go like this, “But many of us still struggle with sin to some degree and are not intent upon marriage, ‘gay Christian’ seems to make us feel comfortable and fit us better.” These things should not fit together at all.
Few people, besides some on the Christian Right who idolize sin, obsess as Paulk does over “struggle with sin.” And few people outside the Christian Right believe that faith is primarily about what feels good. Whoever Paulk claims to speak for here, it isn’t gay Christians.
Paulk continues:
Of course people still will struggle with sin, regardless of their backgrounds! Though they will be tempted in many areas, not only in what were once life-dominating areas. They may struggle even more if they have just left homosexuality (or drugs or use of alcohol or other sinful intoxicants).
Paulk has always been of unclear heterosexual or bisexual orientation; she has never disclosed a past active homosexual relationship, and her books tell of a childhood and young adulthood in which typical lesbian attraction is absent. Therefore, until Paulk offers greater clarity and specificity about her orientation, it is reasonable to contend that she never “left” homosexuality because she never demonstrably “joined” it.
Paulk’s conflation of orientation with temptation reflects ignorance of both sexuality and the Bible, and her conflation of temptation with addiction reflects a persistent ignorance of mental health science.
As life-dominating sin gets further in the rear view mirror and becomes a more distant memory, the less likely it is to dominate one’s life choices. Yes, I always try to keep in mind that what once seemed to offer the answer to my problems in life may at some point rear its ugly head and to not be surprised, but deal with it handily. (I do devote a chapter of this topic of dealing with temptation in my book “Restoring Sexual Identity”)
Paulk projects a concern with life-dominating sin, leading critics to ask whether her own life remains dominated by sin.
What sins do critics point to? In just the past four years, Paulk has:
  • deterred ex-gay and antigay activists from opposing Uganda’s kill-the-gays movement
  • refused to affirm essential human rights and religious freedom for persons whom Paulk presumes to be unholy
  • mischaracterized and disparaged the beliefs and values of families, including Christian families, that disagree with her exclusive ideology
  • affirmed political organizations that celebrate greed, pride, racial bias, and gossip
Some background may prove informative here. Paulk was among a leadership faction within defunct ex-gay network Exodus International that sent the organization’s treasurer to Uganda in 2009, endorsed the launch of what became that nation’s kill-the-gays legislation, and then refused for more than a year to retract and apologize for those actions. Paulk has also sided with those who oppose full religious freedom for non-evangelicals in the armed services and for public and religious officials who support marriage equality. Paulk has sought to alienate and separate families by teaching closeted gay Christians to blame parents and relatives for their homosexuality — and by teaching distraught parents to blame themselves. She piously ostracizes people from her church community, and encourages other churches to do the same. And finally, Paulk has reaffirmed her former sponsor, Focus on the Family, which — since its early days when co-founder Gil Moegerle left due to the organization’s racism and sexism — has celebrated a racially, economically, and religiously exclusive prosperity gospel.
In short, Paulk’s activities are contrary to mainstream Christian values.
Does it mean that EVERYONE who leaves homosexuality will someday become attracted to a special member of the opposite gender and get married? No, yet Restored Hope does have a high percentage of men and women who have been in this field of transformation over the long haul and eventually do find such feelings emerging. These ones, by God’s great kindness, sometimes move forward into God defined marriage. We all know that marriage doesn’t prove one’s healing, but when it happens for the right reasons, it is an expression of self-giving that reflects back to the delight of the Garden of Eden and of something even more profound—the love of God for His bride, the church.
Paulk commits what some critics might consider blasphemy when she presumes to deem marriages that she likes “God defined” and marriages that she doesn’t like, well, not married at all.
Paulk also emphasizes marriage as a form of self-giving — as if marriage were ideally a kind of masturbation — and reveals a sad trivialization of Judaism and Christianity, when she reduces divine love to a binary expression of gender stereotypes. Her view of singleness, meanwhile, is ignorant of Biblical context:
Singleness that is holy and devoted to God is a wonderful outcome according to the apostle Paul, and this applies to all believers, including those who have or are leaving homosexuality behind and submitting their lives in obedience to Christ: “One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 7:32-35So may we be men and women whose lives glorify God in holy devotion, whether as single or married Christians!

Paulk forgets that unmarried apostles anticipated the imminent end of time, rendering any preparation for a long life unnecessary. She also cites an antiquated and not-very-Christlike definition of wife that neither she nor any self-respecting woman honors anymore: That of a woman as her husband’s silent, compliant, and obedient property.

Anne Paulk’s pieties suggest an egocentric spirituality associated with elements of idolatry, blasphemy, and idle gossip.

All of which are among the worst sins in the Bible.

Categorized in: