No̩ Gutierrez РWhat needs to change

I’ve known Noé for a number of years, and this recent piece of his on exgaywatch.com has some really important points about the future direction of ministry amongst LGBT. Noé’s site is Deep Blue Fusion and is well worth checking out.

Noe GutierrezEx-gay ministries depend on certain adversarial elements to inspire the commitment of their members. Although the majority will agree their members did not have a choice in their homosexual feelings, ex-gay ministries emphasize choice as the key factor in the re-orientation of these feelings. Biblical emphasis on purity, chastity, and self-sacrifice give the ex-gay person a sense of process. By making consistently “biblical” choices in the expression of their sexuality, the ex-gay person can experience a level of “freedom from homosexuality” albeit paid for in their own blood, sweat and tears.

As if it weren’t enough to instill such burdensome expectations, the constant emphasis on thought and behavior modification will in most cases develop into a deep-seated internal conflict. If feelings of sexual attraction are not a choice but acting on them is, the split between feelings and actions can leave a person feeling segmented, even disconnected from their true self. Ex-gay groups affirm this disconnect in their members, perhaps unwittingly convincing them heterosexuality is within their reach. If groomed properly, this disconnect can become so pronounced that in some cases the “reformed” homosexual will in fact be so far removed from their sexual attractions that to say they are “no longer gay” seems perfectly within reason.

In my opinion this may be one of the greatest flaws in ex-gay doctrine; that is, the idea that heterosexuality can be arrived at through the process of distancing one’s self from what are natural, intrinsic feelings of attraction. This is just not the norm in the process of development in human sexuality. In fact it is quite the opposite, as most people would agree a person’s sexuality is at the center of their identity and of the human experience. Self-dissociation from this core element would therefore lead to a loss of identity rather than the discovery of true self. I believe it is for this reason that those who subscribe to ex-gay thinking must remain connected somehow to ex-gay ministries in order to remain “ex-gay”. Without a strong internalized sense of self-identity, a person becomes dependent on external cues to help define their experience. The idea of the heterosexual goal must constantly be repeated, reminded, and reaffirmed. Group accountability sessions, prayer meetings, national conferences and the never-ending list of books, CDs, DVDs are resources proving vital to the survival of ex-gay ideology. I am personally acquainted with the prominence of ex-gay media (see I Do Exist) and can attest to the importance of their role in helping to promote the ex-gay movement.

Noé raises a crucial point that the emphasis on "achieving heterosexuality" within many ex-gay groups is what sets many up to fail. If one doesn’t become straight, has one failed? Is that even what one needs to be aiming for?

That was part of my switching to the terminology "post-gay" as described in this post. The end target for those who struggle with same-sex attraction, or any emotional or sexual issue isn’t "straight" or "good sex" or any other similar concept. It is Jesus and holy living, the fundamentals of orthodoxy (as it were).

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7 Comments on “Noé Gutierrez – What needs to change

  1. I saw Noé’s post @ XGW and found it quite well written. But, then I’ve never been in an ex-gay ministry or “struggled with same-sex attraction” so I didn’t know how accurate or fair his observations were. So, thanks for posting this, Peter.

  2. Thanks,

    Would you believe that the peeps at Exgay Watch wanted me to take it down?! Apparently the fact that I copied the whole piece meant that I was damaging their google ranking…

  3. Good grief.

    I’ve always felt that there was something counter-intuitive about ex-gay ministry — just reflecting on this from my own “struggle with other-gender attraction.” Focusing attention and guilt on the sexual urge clearly makes matters worse, not better. When someone actually told me some biological realities about male sexuality that actually helped! And, I could stop obsessing.

  4. Thanks Peter for this post. It seems that in all this story, we have forgotten that Jesus is King, and He is in the business of restoring his children. Very few would say today that all is possible for King Jesus, probably thanks to the (overwhelming?) evidence that many of us don’t end-up heterosexuals! But that’s not the point at all to measure this in a scale of sexual attraction.
    I agree that there is room in the Lord’s Table for every background and person. Not only ex-gay ministries, but the Church in general should change some approaches, words and actions, to be like the Master. Yet, I wonder what happened with the radical “sin no more” and “such you were”. If Christian life isn’t about God driven change, then, why should we bother even praying?
    Be blessed bro!

  5. Thanks for posting this Peter. This isn’t meant to sound patronising, but i think it’s a brave move given that Noe’s criticisms of the ex-gay movement are far-reaching. I was moved by some parts of the longer piece on his blog, and recognised myself in the bit about thinking that I can control God in some ways, that it’s about bargaining. Noe’s words showed me how very reluctant I am to accept grace, gratuity.
    in friendship, Blair

  6. The thing that I really like about Noé’s piece is that he highlights the obsession in some ex-gay groups to achieve “straight”. I think that’s a fair point to raise.

  7. Hi Peter,

    Fully agree. The point to raise is that ex-gay groups should not offer “heterosexuality” as goal ;-) When I did LW, I only wanted to know if there were actual roots for the behaviours and the same sex desires, and also wanted to know whether it was possible to remain “clean”. I’m glad that at that moment nobody rushed me into “become straight”. After some years, I can say that I’m experiencing a different place that I would have never thought before. Although I still feel attracted to men, my thoughts are less and less focused on sex and homosexual desires. I can now look at another man, and not lust. God has provided the right accountability, the friendship and relations to get to a point where I don’t act out anymore, and believe me it is already a huge change.
    I still hope that I would be able to once get married and have a family, but if not, I’m not desperate or fool. My deepest desire is to remain in Christ.
    Be blessed!

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