Listening to ex-ex-gays

At times I can be hard on ex-ex-gays. In particular I’m a bit annoyed at the moment by Peterson Toscano who says that he wants to “help foster a deeper discussion”, but whose website that he has created (Beyond Ex-Gay) has no interactive component whatsoever (forum or comment threads). That’s hardly facilitating a discussion and his failure to engage with some of the questions I’ve raised makes me wonder whether he shouldn’t just be clearer that his is a position of advocacy, not dialogue.

That said, another of the contributors to Beyond Ex-Gay, Jimbo, has responded on the same thread and one thing he has written in particular is worth highlighting:

My “issue” was eventually with the church (in the wider sense). At least those parts of the church that seemed unwilling to accept gay people (lay/clergy) even if they were in a ”traditional chaste life”. Like many in the groups I was in, I knew how suspicious the church was of those who were anything other than heterosexual. That was an immense pressure on most of us to “act straight” to fit in, even though we knew that wasn’t who we really were.

Please note, Jimbo’s issue wasn’t that he made different choices about lifestyle, or that he interpreted the “clobber passages” in a different way. Ultimately it was that he met men and women in the church who simply couldn’t abide having somebody in their midst who wasn’t attracted to people of the opposite sex, or who didn’t act in a manner they wanted.

Shameful, my friends, shameful, because what Jimbo experienced is homophobia, pure and simple. Perhaps there is yet some good listening to be done.

Thanks Jimbo for sharing this with us.

32 Comments on “Listening to ex-ex-gays

  1.  Jill : I’m not sneering at *you* merely at your use of ugly cliches that have been bandied about for 20 years or so and which (frankly) I don’t think do the conservative cause much favour.  And surely you concede that there are lots of *straight* couples into BDSM? If someone says they’re gay and  you take it as denoting a passion for orgies or “pig sex” rather than mere same-sex attraction then the problem is yours, not theirs.  

     Am not going to deny the gorgeousity of babies generally or Reuben specifically, but I’m curious if you regard childless heterosexual relationships as inferior. 

  2. Dear Blair,

    taking your question very narrowly the only place that leaps to mind is Sodom. However I had a broader concept in mind than that very specific example (and do note I wasn’t giving blanket approval to all heterosexual lifestyles either!) Rather I was struggling to find language to recognise there is an inevitable asymmetry about how the church will respond to heterosexuals and homosexuals. For instance, the church is unlikely to criticise spouses holding hands, giving each other a kiss, or hugging, in ways they would not to third parties, whereas these would be criticized if they were carried out by same sex partners as being inappropriate.  And I think that even for heterosexuals, our sex-obsessed society is way over the line about what is appropriate behaviour (and certainly so as far as Christians are concerned) in public.
    There may be other distinctions that can be drawn between heterosexual and homosexual lifestyles but it’s not something I’ve dwelt on particularly and so continue to read this blog, and its comments, with interest.
    John Foxe

  3. Jill – just quickly, I accept that I’ve no idea what you’ve struggled with in your life – I haven’t walked in your shoes – but I wasn’t asking about that. I asked a specific question partly out of slight exasperation – you admit that you “haven’t had this particular problem to deal with” but come across as quite negative and judgmental about same-sex attracted people. Your top paragraph above suggests you don’t see any moral distinction between being attracted to other adults of the same sex, and being attracted to children – are you willing to say why you see things this way?

    in friendship, Blair

  4. Dear Blair,

    we’re all busy people so don’t even think about any offence being taken on my part :)



  5. Blair, I am not the one to judge on ‘moral equivalence’ but it depends where you take your moral pattern from.  (By ‘you’ I don’t mean you personally, so please don’t take offence.)  Is it from your own desires, or from God?  If it is from your own desires, then this must also apply to those attracted to children.  And I know from close scrutiny of the NAMBLA website some years ago that these men really do not feel they are doing anything wrong; they think it is we who are stifling our children’s natural sexuality.  They love children, they say.  There were on the site a number of stories of suicides by men who had previously run children’s homes or were in some position of authority involving children, committed serial sexual abuse, and who saw no other way out when the law finally caught up with them, public perception being what it is.  They clearly thought this was unjust.

    As Peter ably pointed out on this blog a while ago, there is nothing in the Bible about when a child stops being a child – Jesus’s teaching on the treatment of children is clear, but there is no mention of an age of consent.  I think most people would agree that this is after puberty, but that is not an overnight event, so there is a considerable grey area over what constitutes a child or an adult. The Bible has a lot more to say about homosexual practice – and all of it negative.  This is rather muddled, but what I am trying to say is that (heterosexual) Christian paedophiles (if this is not an oxymoron!) could probably dig up a lot more scriptural support for their cause than practising homosexuals.

    (Please, nobody accuse me of supporting paedophilia!!  I most assuredly do not!)

    Ryan, although Reuben does score rather high on the cute-ometer, and I do tend to turn to goo over babies, the main point is that he is here, in this world, among us, and so are many other children like him who would not have been born had one or other of their parents not heard, and been healed by, God. 

  6.  True, but it’s also worth noting that – although prohibitions against wasting “seed” by homosexuality/masturbation/heterosexual intercourse that doesn’t lead to childbirth etc – would have made sense for nomadic tribes fearful of their own survival, they’re hardly as convincing in an overpopulated world.

  7. Morning all.

    John, thanks  for your reponse. I do see you weren’t “giving blanket approval” to all things heterosexual, but would like to question a thing or two. What similarities do you see between what happens in Sodom, and the lives of gay people – gay Christians, particularly? It’s just it seems to me that Sodom is a story of attempted gang rape of visitors to whom a ‘resident alien’ was giving hospitality – it doesn’t seem to be about same-sex attracted people. I’m sure you’re right that there’s an “asymmetry about how the church will respond to heterosexuals and homosexuals” – but it’s worth questioning where this comes from: to what extent might it be the kind of discrimination that Peter referred to at the start of this topic, or that Jay’s friend faced? Also, you make distinctions between ways of being heterosexual (as implied in your comment about not giving blanket approval), but would you do the same thing for gay people – i.e. do you think all same-sex sexual acts are to be equally condemned, whatever the context?

    Jill, thank you too – I understand you’re not remotely “supporting paedophilia”. And as far as I’m aware you’re right about what NAMBLA (and others) would say and about how they’d justify themselves (and their actions). But there’s a question of discernment here isn’t there? I would suggest that those of us who are gay, are not simply taking our “moral pattern” from our desires – it’s not that we just take our desires at face value, but (among other things) that some have found, over time, that they really can love as gay people, and that same-sex sex is not inherently destructive of self or of another person. Moreover, psychiatric and other professionals have come to the view that being gay is not a pathology. I realise that this isn’t a unanimous view or one without controversy – but there’s no such debate with paedophilia that I know of; it’s deemed pathological, destructive. This discernment is one reason why I don’t think “this must also apply to those attracted to children”.

    On Scripture, I think it’s important to ask what exactly is being condemned, and why – the ‘clobber texts’ usually cited don’t condemn the same things, and not for the same reasons either. I realise that in itself is nowhere near a knockdown argument, but it’s one useful building block…

    in friendship, Blair

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