A Facebook friend private messaged me some screen caps of their conversation with an ex-gay/conversion ministry leader. Their conversation was about a link that person shared attacking another person who left the ex-gay/conversion ministry world. My friend was defending the man it attacked. It was a vicious old article that keeps popping up every once in a while. My friend asked (paraphrased):
Why do they do this!? Why are they SO mean?
I responded with, “It’s the only way they can numb their own conscience.” That is where the conversation stopped on Facebook but it has been sticking with me, and I wanted to elaborate.
Most people in the ex-gay/conversion ministry world…
Do not want to be mean. Yes, believing in and defending The Gospel According to Conversion Therapy is wrong but most people in that world think it is the only option for LGBTQ+ people to receive the love of God here and now as well as in the hereafter.
The problem is that it is a very formidable lie. Cultural conditioning within the church for generations teaches them that the only way to actually love LGBTQ+ people is to teach us to destroy our core relational sense of being and identity. After having been in that world for so long, I do believe that most genuinely want to love their gay neighbor and/or embrace their own God-given sense of relational being. However, they are oppressed by systemic teachings in every sector of society to hate even the thought of learning that God, Our Father, loves His LGBTQ+ children just as they are for who He created them to be.
To have the “right” answers to allegedly defend this abusive application of the gospel literally keeps the blinders in place and the conscience numbed into thinking they are loving. They want to believe otherwise but simply won’t allow themselves to do so for a variety of reasons within this context.
Most ex-gay/conversion ministry leaders in that world…
Are not mean…until you disagree, then … to hell with you #Buh-Bye. Many of us who were once leaders saw this happen with heart-breaking repetition and even to ourselves. We, who helped build the ex-gay/conversion ministry movement, are now dismissed out of hand for ridiculous reasons that have nothing to do with the fact that we did everything they claim works and none of it “changed” us. Rejection and vilification was immediate from the ex-gay theological thought police.
Plus, we committed blasphemy against The Gospel according to Ex-Gay/Conversion Ministry by moving forward into normal healthy Christian lives and relationships. We didn’t end up following the ex-gay curse of “going back” to a lecherous and dangerous life. Yes, we are gay and many of us who hold onto our faith love Jesus, even more, today. Instead of “going back” to being a substance abusing, hedonistic, neurotic weirdo like I was in the ’80’s… I am actually kind of a healthy individual with a loving partner who likes to watch Netflix on Friday nights and mow the yard early Saturday morning.
Who knew “apostasy” would be … you know … boring? :::laugh:::
To be affirming and accepting of our reality (past and present) is something most ex-gay leaders would never do because it reveals their foundation of “homosexual brokenness” they claim to be converting to “holiness” is actually built on quicksand, not “The Rock” of Christ. It’s hard for them to believe that I as a gay man enjoy the benefits of God’s love, the love of my partner and community…without shame, unhealthiness, and darkness lurking around every corner.
…They are uncomfortable with the thought that I stand upright and as an equal with them before the Lord whether they like it or not.
Permission to love…
Again, I believe most people in the ex-gay/conversion world or even conservative Christians as a whole know that condemning LGBTQ+ people, our relationships, and families is wrong. They know that we are just like they are; humans. They know that our love and loyalty to family is just like theirs. They know that God loves and accepts us, that He blesses us… they just don’t know that they can freely love us as God’s LGBTQ+ children and not through the lens of open-arms stigma and bigotry.
Unfortunately, it is still a heavily consequential decision to be supportive and affirming. However, the time has come when they, maybe you, truly don’t have to hide your support and affirmation any longer. My world was completely turned inside out by accepting who I am as a gay man. I literally lost, am still losing to this day, every relationship that came out of that world. It sucks. It hurts in ways we shouldn’t have to endure.
But the truth is, what I thought I had in the past was “fast food” legalistic spirituality…not actually nourishing and life-giving. Life isn’t perfect coming out of the closet as an LGBTQ+ person, or as an ally of us, but it is worth it, to be honest with self, others and God. The love I have in my life today overshadows, by far, anything the ex-gay world once offered as answers and hope to me.
Give yourself permission to love and affirm who you truly are and the LGBTQ+ people in your life. You don’t need my or anyone else’s permission, just your own. We look forward to the overflow of love that happens as a result.