More responses to the London Times “Ex-Gay” piece

This from Lisa Guinness:

She could not accept that times have moved on and academics and practitioners, secular and Christian, agree that sexuality is fluid and open to many influences and developments even in adulthood. Also, that many of us become stuck in this development and after puberty, genuine unmet pre-pubescent needs, become eroticised and present and, in their intensity, feel like our sexuality. We see Christians with a whole range of unwanted sexual behaviours: promiscuity, adultery, sexual addictions, using prostitutes, pornography.

and this from Mario Bergner:

Just this week her article on Exodus International, The Camp That ‘Cures’ Homosexuality appeared in the London Times Online.  It is a mix of accuracy, harsh judgments, contradiction and deception.  Her name is Lucy Bannerman and her writing style is compelling.  She tells a good story.  Her voice and point of view are crystal clear.  Miss Bannerman thinks ministries like Exodus International are, well, disgusting.   She judged all 800 people in attendance as having ‘awkwardness in common.’   At the same time she captures the sincerity of people seeking help for unwanted same-sex attractions.  From the article, quoting Michelle, Ms Bannerman’s  28 year old roommate at the conference, ‘My homosexuality is just one of many things to come from this place of pain, and all it gave me was a heart full of ache.’  So true.  Likewise, my experience of living in the gay lifestyle caused me deep heart ache.  The ache of short-term unfaithful lovers.  The ache of seeing many of my dear sweet friends die of AIDS in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  The ache of the fear of growing old realizing the gay community prizes youth and beauty and ridicules aging gay men as trolls, aunties and old queens.  The ache of never having my own biological children with the partner I love.  These are the aches that motivate many people to find a way out of homosexuality, either through the church or through psychotherapy.  For Christians, even if such attractions never go away, a life of singleness and holiness before God is better than the isolating emotional instability of the gay community. 

Go and read them both in their entirity and let me know what you think.

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18 Comments on “More responses to the London Times “Ex-Gay” piece

  1. Mario Bergner writes:
    “These are the aches that motivate many people to find a way out of homosexuality, either through the church or through psychotherapy.  For Christians, even if such attractions never go away, a life of singleness and holiness before God is better than the isolating emotional instability of the gay community.”

    I feel grateful that I discovered a much healthier LGBT community than the one that Mario Berger experienced some decades ago. No doubt gays can live a dissolute life just like straight folks can. Similarly we can live openly gay lives in integrity and with ever growing fruit of the Spirit. This has been my experience since coming out gay.

  2. Oddly enough, I’m with Peterson here. While I certainly don’t want to disregard Mario Bergner’s experiences, I’m not a fan of his insinuations that his experiences are the norm. Perhaps it’s a generational and geographical thing. From what I can see of the “gay community” in my small Southern college town, it’s fairly analogous to the straight one (at least among people my age).

    This means there’s certainly plenty of shallowness and vanity going on, but elsewhere there are people who seem pretty healthy, are partnering up faithfully, who are religious, and who have less fear about growing up old and alone because society is coming around to respect them and their relationships. This, of course, doesn’t mean that such people are less sinful than the partying crowd, but if they decided to go the post-gay route it wouldn’t be for the reasons Mr. Bergner listed.

    I’ve certainly found stories like Mr. Bergner’s common amongst post-gay testimonies, but I think that’s due to the fact that those who have lived rougher lifestyles are more likely to try to escape them. However, the stories I find most encouraging are those of people who lived pretty healthy and stable lifestyles (like Disputed Mutability), and then felt God’s call. I somewhat liken that to my own situation. I didn’t do this to be healthy or happy, and I won’t say, as Mr. Bergner does, that my road will make me happier on this Earth. That’s not the point, and as a group we really need to stop making it our point. It stinks of “prosperity gospel” to me, and I abhor that stuff.

    Also, his line about feeling sad about not having biological children is extremely immature. He makes it sound like that’s a big part of one’s life, when I think adoption is just as good (if not better). But that’s just a bit of a rant on my part.

  3. I’ve been consistently saying for the past year or more that the best arguments against the pro-gay position are theological, not sociological. That said, I do think that for some people with same-sex attraction, their experience is one of a culture that can be highly promiscuous.

  4. I’ve been consistently saying for the past year or more that the best arguments against the pro-gay position are theological, not sociological. That said, I do think that for many people with same-sex attraction, their experience is one of a culture that can be highly promiscuous.

    I know you have, Peter.  I’m not doubting you, and I have always applauded you for your position in terms of that.  You’ve also linked to my posts that have to deal with that issue (and I’ve written about it extensively), so I’m certainly not saying this is an opinion you take.

    However, specifically quoting that segment of Mr. Bergner’s argument — in which he does not make a theological argument — kind of goes against that consistency.  Surely the gay male community (in general) has a problem with promiscuity, although like I said I know several gay men who are pretty reserved in their dating, and we surely can’t make the promiscuous argument about lesbians.  We would do better to respond to individuals’ lives on a case-by-case basis.  Ministering to a man who lived as Mr. Bergner did is going to be very different than ministering to a man who was in a stable, long-term relationship before coming to Christ.

    But surely you know that.  I guess I’m speaking out against ex-gay ministries in general who seem to treat all gays the same, and usually by “the same” I mean treating them all as if they lived the promiscuous lifestyle.

  5. Thanks for that Jay, You’re absolutely right – if you make such assumptions (promiscuity) then you miss the reality of the lives of many people with same-sex attraction.

  6. Mario being the guy that claims God healed him from AIDS, right? I don’t think you do yourself any favours by affiliating your often commensensical positions to the wackier elements of the ex-gay movement, Peter.

  7. Must be feeling particularly pugnacious this week… this is a bit snippy, but following Dr Guinness’s comment – “She could not accept that times have moved on and academics and practitioners, secular and Christian, agree that sexuality is fluid and open to many influences and developments even in adulthood” – a question. Would Dr  Guinness accept that the academics and practitioners she refers to, don’t think that being gay is a pathology?

    rybam, from the little I’ve read of Mario Bergner’s writings I think you’re right that he’s nearer the “wackier” end of the spectrum, but in fairness to him I don’t think he actually claims that “God healed him from AIDS”. In the essay of his that appears in God, gays and the church he says: “By my early twenties, I had several immunity breakdowns and landed in a hospital room in Boston with the possible diagnosis of AIDS looming over my head”. He then describes how Jesus “appeared to me” and continues, “I recovered fully from my symptoms and was never diagnosed with AIDS and later tested HIV negative” (p162). So I don’t think he quite claims healing from AIDS. Though he does say that same-sex attractions may be understood in part as “anger and envy, which may generate into homosexual feelings” (p152)…
    Pugnacious and pedantic but hey :)
    in friendship, Blair

  8.  Peter, the Begner article you yourself quoted was full of the useful venomous cliches instead of real debate.  I remember Gagnon saying that churches listening to homosexuals isn’t necessarily a good thing (I think he made the point that we wouldn’t hold listening conferences with adulterers); plainly I disagree with Gagnon’s ideology but you could argue that he has a point. Not to mention that there are more self-identifiying gay-since-birth-and-harmed-by-societal-and-religious-prejudice types than there are “successful” ex-gays so I don’t see what your team gains by investing so much time in fighting on this front.  Marginal improvement on the good old bad old anti-gay arguments though.

  9.  My homosexuality is just one of many things to come from this place of pain, and all it gave me was a heart full of ache.’  So true.

    You can argue, I suppose, that Begner is merely noting his own experience of homosexuality,but I think it’s plausible that he is endevouring to claaim that homosexuality per se comes from a place of pain. So too with the youth-obsessed culture (in contrast to straight bars and clubs, of course,) Someone can deploy a venomous cliche with apparent tact and even love; that does not stop it *being* a venomous cliche. Ache of short term unfaithfull lovers? Am sure there are many who would testify that gay promiscuity is marvellous healthy fun.
     

  10. Ryan,

    I can’t see how it’s venemous to suggest that someone’s emotions today might partly derive themselves from conscious or sub-conscious experiences in the past? It’s not in any sense a cliche, it’s a pastoral insight.

  11. Peter,
             Any attitude that does not applaud all choices as morally neutral (or increasingly morally positive) is deemed “venomous” these days. But you knew that already.

    I will say though, that as someone with same-sex attractions; I still get annoyed when Christians approach this problem as if all of us are coming from the same place–active involvement in what is known to be the dominant/steretypical gay culture.

    And so we hear about “leaving that lifestyle behind”.

    What “lifestyle”?

  12. I still get annoyed when Christians approach this problem as if all of us are coming from the same place–active involvement in what is known to be the dominant/steretypical gay culture.

    Jon, I think Peter and I already went over that early in the thread… Of course, it’s something that certainly should be pressed, but perhaps we should be directing that energy at the Christians who would paint us all with that brush.

    I agree, though; it’s extremely annoying and frustrating!

  13. That said, I do think that for some people with same-sex attraction, their experience is one of a culture that can be highly promiscuous.
    Some Argument from manys:
    For centurys, gay men who stand to ist, stand outside from every moral standard about sexuality.
    Yet kids learn from there parents and from the schoolground that gays have all times sex. (And also in a example-sentence in a german schoolbook). When you are gay you have to had all times sex. This is the scripture from the outside world.
    The interaction was historcally mostly limited. At work in daytime, sometimes at bars in nighttime. Many where there only somtimes and shortly. The places was in many cities in the red light district. There such a pub was allowed, at other places only very hidden locals.
    Sex can go quick. Next hour or next morning, there is the daily life. Sex encounters can be well held hidden.
    Most gays have from the first time attraction to coming out a span of 4 years. Hetero-youth learn step by step to deal with partners. A gay in history and today have a coming out at ~18-20. He is like a pressure cooker when you take the cover away. They had their first sexual encounter before there coming out.
    Many christians, espacially roman-catholic, say the only bad is the sex. But there is forgiveness. Single encounters (with mostly different people) are not soooo bad. (Love Sinner – hate Sin)
    The worst things are:

    The coming out, to live openly and not ashamed.
    To have a stady relationship, this cannot be so well held hidden.

    To such things, there where and are the most effort to prevent it, to controvert it.
    Nicolosi say in one video, he had nothing against, that his clients have gay sex, they can learn from this. Today i read from a catholic bishop at a school discussion: It is bad that homosexuality is a grat discussion. Now people outing all the time. They should silently  do what they do. (Which also means finally also no discussion about violance and prejudice, where the christians take no action anyway. They go to court, because they will say that gays burn in hell. (Like in “Prayers for bobby”) They make a “Day of truth” in opposition of the “Day of silence”. But gay slurs affect also heterosexual people. One statistic say, that the suicide attemtion rate from students is the same.) I had never see an effort to make critics about a advertisment ore something other that has a very bad view of (mostly effiminate) homosexuals. Or not so much critic about things with very promiscuitive gays. But i see many afforts when gay people are displayed correctly (in my view) or diversitive. And i see critic about manly gays with deep relationship.
    The violence as a little child is also one point that has an affect to partnerships. For Ex-gays this is the cause primaly of homosexuality and not only for unstady relationships.
    The solution from the conservatives: Against gay-straight-alliances or such thing, against coming-out, make struggling positive, lifelong struggle is positive, nothing specific doing aginst violence (verbal and physical), speak to the partents that there is change, healing, freedom, partnership is bad.
    At ~ 1990 i heard a discussion from two young boys (i think one was hetero and a friend) about 17 years old in the dark of a cruising aerea. One say he had not fucked. He wait for the right men. Now more and more youth have the coming out bevore there first sexual encounters. With the internet they can make  easer friends as go to the gay bar. I think there is a chanching.

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