Ascending Mount Carmel – One Step at a Time – Part Four
It is my contention that the gay revisionist movement has been in some senses internally betrayed. An initial struggle (to some degrees I would argue rightly) against rampant homophobia in the church, against the experience of inadequate and sometimes derogative psychiatric and medical treatment and social ostracising both within and beyond the congregation, has now moved to a rejection of the very dynamic it first embodied. Far from being a movement that struggles against the dominance of the oppressive forces of society, it has become aligned with the power centres of the culture. Today the revisionist party is at one with the dominant secular viewpoint that homosexuality is not in any sense dissonant to "normal" humanity. Society holds this view despite the presence of any evidence to support the claim that homosexuality is immutable. For example, Hamer’s claim of a gay gene on Xq28 has been discredited over a decade ago but the claim of proof of natural determination of homosexuality is continually made in the mainstream media and some revisionist groups within the church continue to promote this unscientific assertion. Another example is of some Christian groups producing sensationalist figures of previous persecution like the claim that 250,000 homosexuals died in the Nazi Concentration camps despite the fact that there were less than a fifth of that number of recorded convictions for violation of section 175 during the Nazi regime, of which the vast majority served their jail terms in normal prisons. That there was persecution of men practising homosexuality in Nazi Germany is undeniable (and to be condemned unequivocally), but that it existed to the genocidal level some claim is fiction. What this amounts to is that today a sexual orthodoxy exists in the world that the Western Church dwells and operates in, a sexual orthodoxy that is in opposition to the Biblical vision of husband and wife uniquely signifying Christ and the Church. The promotion of homosexual practice is not in any sense the "chief" of the sexual deviances (the normative position today of sex outside marriage is a far more serious continual denial of the undilutable union of Christ and the Church), but it is one of them. As such, the truly "prophetic" voices in the church and amongst the Soul Friends are those who speak Biblical truth and traditional spiritual practice into the life of the believer. Leech notes in his conclusion to Soul Friend that:
"Spiritual direction is involved with clarity of perception, with consciousness and awareness, with reality … To say this however is at once to recognise that frequently spirituality and justice do not walk hand in hand … ‘A resource against the culture’, ‘a witness against the world’: the work of spiritual direction has brought us to the point of krisis, or conflict with the world organized apart from God and from spiritual values".
I would argue, from both a comparison of the practices, publications and experience of the likes of Mario Bergner, and from personal experience, that the ex-gay approach to homosexuality stands in the line of classical spiritual direction, in that it exhibits and sees fruit from the one over-arching theme of the classical spirituality writers – the engagement with God, purgation and then sanctification. Further, the absence of these "basics of basics" in the current revisionist spirituality is a further evidence that the perspective taken by many within the church does not cohere with the experience and practice of Christians for the past 2,000 years. I leave the last words to Kenneth Leech, for I believe they describe the writings of Bergner and others perfectly:
"The spiritual director exists to be a friend of the soul, a guide on the way to the City of God. Her ministry is one of diakrisis, discernment of events, and of liberation, enabling individuals and communities to move towards freedom, the freedom of the children of God. She is not a leader but a guide, and she points always beyond herself to the Kingdom and the Glory. Through her love, her silence, her prayer, she seeks to be a light for people in their search, but she must always remember the demands of freedom."