Over at Warren Throckmorton, Michael Bussee and others have at it over the early days of the ex-gay (or "ex-gay") organization Exodus. Scroll past the initial overheated battle over minutiae down to where Ed Hurst reports that Dr Throckmorton
suggested that Exodus adopt the phrase Sexual Identity Ministry (SIM) to replace "Ex-Gay Ministry". I've thought that one over and it sounds workable to me.
I even thought of a clever catch-phrase "SIM, just a step away from SIN." (Ok, if you don't know me, I am compulsive about word-plays and I also think a little bit of humor helps with a topic this weighty.)
The phrase only applies to the ministry not to the individual. In the past, we might have said "he's an ex-gay guy" where, with SIM, this wouldn't translate. So, I puzzled over what terminology we'd use for the individual and came up with a real winner. How about 'client'?
I was always troubled by the fact that it seemed we took people out of one box (or label) only to put them in another. The shift to Sexual Identity Ministry might actually serve to eliminate the label problem too.
I've noticed that "ex-gay" identity in some people I've met and
recoiled, perhaps not always as far as I should have done, from the
psychological stories that seem to explain everything.
Anyway, riffing off Mr Bussee's description …
You have to understand the context. It was not a mistake that EXODUS started at Melodyland. [Melodyland] was one part tent revival meeting and one part broadway musical. (Ironic that the choir director now conduts the Gay Men's Chorus of Orange County,)
There were [huge] "healing" services, lavish musical bumbers and stunning testimonies. It was alive with the energy of the Jesus Movement and Neo-pentacostalism.
Every day we heard of "ex" drug addicts and "ex" prostitutes and "ex" gang members.
1) With DPG a person can get totally removed from the source of their temptation. There isn't a bag of pot sitting on the pew beside you; there isn't someone in the church offering you money for your body and there certainly isn't anyone trying to provoke you into violent anti-societal behavior. But there may be people that you find attractive in both appearance and personality.You might work with them, pray with them, share your deepest struggles with them. (As a Bible school student, I roomed with them...saw them in their underwear. On one evangelism outreach, I even had to take group showers with them. The DPG don't go through that type of temptation!)
5) With DPG, psychology and society are in agreement that these lifestyles are dysfunctional but with homosexuality they actually debunk the notion of change. A former homosexual in the church is not immune to the sound of these voices and these voices also undercut the resolve.
Then most interestingly, Dr T writes:
Mr. Bussee says: "I am pleased to announce that Alan Chambers has asked me to join him for a joint press conference to officially RETIRE the misleading term "Ex-gay."' No word as yet if or when this might occur but from my vantage point, this would be a fine development.
For the comments, the Red Herring of the Week Award goes to the usually more thoughtful grantdale, a long-term gay couple:
Imagine telling a Hindu that unless they ate beef they could never eat at all? Imagine if their goodness depended on their willingness to eat beef? Imagine if, unless they ate beef, they would otherwise be excluded from full and equal participation in public life -- by law?
Pfft! Dr T's opponents go on to have a field day in the comment stream. Ho-hum. To my mind this is is all missing the point, as Mr Hurst eventually reminds everyone:
Mike, I found it ironic that you finished your last post with the illustration that ex-gay minstries were inappropriately using your marriage as 'proof'. Aren't you now using the failure of your marriage as 'proof' for the opposite point of view? The reality is that we are all human. We are all on a journey...learning different lessons...at different times. Failing a time or two (or three) along the way. But WE are not the measure. WE are not the standard. We do harm to ourselves and others when we lose sight of this.
I'd say this points to the peculiarly Protestant cultural underpinnings of the ex-gay movement, as Disputed Mutability was suggesting a while ago.
By the way, see her new post endorsing Christian ex-gay support groups, despite their imperfections as she experienced them. (Some of her remarks, I'd point out, would apply equally to Courage, which has never characterized itself as an ex-gay group.)
One day, a thought occurred to me. What if I thought about my homosexual temptations in the same way I thought about my temptations to every other sin? Like pride, greed, or unrighteous anger?
Rather than focusing on trying to make the temptation go away, I focused on living with the temptation, doing battle with it, gaining mastery over it. I no longer worried about how it got there.
This worked amazingly well for me. It got me to lighten up about my homosexual attractions. It helped me enjoy far greater peace and contentment than I knew before. It gave me a set of goals and a purpose that seemed more solidly Biblical to me than those recommended by these theories about what makes people homo-attracted. And, rather ironically, I got far better “change” results with this approach than I did with deliberately trying to get healing for my attractions according to those theories.
For it or agin 'em, the ex-gay claims and ex-ex-gay counterclaims are kind of irrelevant when moral codes are based not on private judgment but on the guarantee to God's people of "the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error" (CCC 890). In other words, there's a lot we don't know yet about the etiology (CCC 2357) and potential changeability of homosexual desire, but no outcome of these controversies can undermine the basic call to every last blessed one of us to live our whole lives in chastity, be it within or outside heterosexual marriage (CCC 2337-2350, esp. 2339, 2342).
Meanwhile, I've come across Jim Burroway's attempt to debunk various stats critical of the gay movement, etc. I hardly wish to offer a general endorsement--and besides, TLDR, as Eve Tushnet says--but I say good on him for tackling Paul Cameron--of whom Eve doesn't think too highly either (see her sidebar link to this).