Repackaging Evangelical Lies
𝑬𝒙𝑮𝒂𝒚 𝑨𝒊𝒏’𝒕 𝑾𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝑰𝒕 𝑼𝒔𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒐 𝑩𝒆
I can’t say what the entire article, What Comes After the Ex-Gay Movement? The Same Thing That Came Before says as it’s largely behind a pay wall and in my lifetime I will never give a penny to Christianity Today magazine. While they go out of their way to appear reasonable they still peddle the poison that is evangelicalism and I refuse to fund it, no matter how little I may be required to give—though in this cases it’s a year’s subscription.
Back in 1978 (begun in 1977) I published the first expose of the so-called “exgay” movement, entitled Homosexuality and the Miracle Makers, where I argued this movement was highly dishonest and was claiming a status members didn’t have. Some of it was lying to themselves, as part of a “name it and claim it” theology. That’s where you state the end status you want, pretend you have achieved it, and if you sufficiently lie to yourself, it will happen.
Of course, that sort of “naming it” also means consciously lying to everyone else as well. Faith, in my opinion, is exactly that, lying about reality and believing something for which there is no evidence. That’s the core problem with the faith vs. facts debate. Faith to be faith can’t rely on evidence. Hebrews 11:1 says,
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The Amplified Bible, which tries to make clearer what is being said, put it this way: Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality — faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].”
When you say you categorize something as fact, which cannot be experienced by the physical senses, that means a belief without evidence. I know the theologically inclined — I did go to seminary for the worst two years of my life — will point to things we can’t observe, such as atoms. But we do observe them by using science to amplify our sensory perceptions. There is still evidence of the senses. Science is like seeing something through a microscope. It magnifies the evidence in a way that is observable; it doesn’t just create claims out of thin air.
Greg Johnson’s book apparently admits this process of fibbing went on but its end call is still to claim being gay is a sin. The publisher of the book, an evangelical press, describes the book: “Woven throughout the book will be Richard Lovelace’s 1978 call for a “double repentance” in which gay Christians repent of their homosexual sins and the church repents of its homophobia — putting on display for all the power of the gospel.” In other words, it’s still peddling self-hate in another form.
In the brief excerpt, not behind a pay wall, Johnson writes:
Looking back on this encounter, I can see that it had all the trappings of what became known as the ex-gay movement, of which I was once an eager proponent. Most notable is my use of the ex-gay script: “I used to be gay.” The phrase implied that I wasn’t gay anymore. I had a testimony, a story to tell about leaving homosexuality behind.
To be clear, my sexual attractions at that moment were drawn as exclusively to other men as ever. I was still at the top of the Kinsey scale that researchers since the 1940s have used to classify sexual orientation. What made me ex-gay was that I used the ex-gay script. I was trying to convince myself that I was a straight man with a disease — a curable one — called homosexuality. A condition that was being healed.
My terminological maneuver was an integral component of conversion therapy. Alan Medinger, the first executive director of Exodus International, described it as “a change in self-perception in which the individual no longer identifies him- or herself as homosexual.”
What Johnson calls “using a script” was merely a version of telling the big lie. That’s what the ex-gay movement was ultimately based upon — claiming falsehoods as true regardless of evidence to the contrary. Mr. Johnson may say, “I was trying to convince myself that I was a straight man,” but he knew all along he wasn’t. The people he did convince were others who believed his claims.
Telling people something that is false, but you believe it to be true, is being wrong. Telling people something that is false, that you know to be false, isn’t being wrong, it’s lying. That’s what the ex-gay movement has been doing from the start.
Alleged exgay leaders were openly claiming to be “former homosexuals” even while being fully aware they were still having same-sex sexual encounters. They weren’t sleep sexing, they were wide awake and knew what they were doing. Then they lied to everyone else and the top leadership of evangelicalism encouraged them to do so. The whole myth Jesus could “heal the homosexual” was based on lies consciously told by alleged exgay leaders. I admit I’ve not seen every retraction but I don’t remember one I have seen where the ex-exgay admitted he was perpetrating a fraud and consciously lying.
The evangelical publisher of the Johnson book, Zondervan, says it “tells the untold story of the ‘ex-gay’ movement in the evangelical church, a 40-year failed experiment to cure homosexuality.” There are two problems with this, first the story is far from “untold.” My expose from 1978 was just the first of a line of books and articles showing the exgay movement to be a Big Lie from start to finish. Zondervan and Johnson are conceding lies exposed long ago. What they are trying to do is save evangelicalism from the obvious conclusion they were lying about gays and hurting people. Now they want to claim they are caring — exactly as they did with the original ex-gay movement—while telling gay people Jesus wants them to live a life without a partner, without love, without marriage, without sex.
The problem is being loved by evangelicals is like being liberated by George Bush, you’re lucky if you survive the experience—and many haven’t. And calling the same old anti-gay theology “care” instead of “cure” doesn’t really change a thing.
These reformed evangelicals have the same agenda as when perpetrating the exgay fraud. The difference is now they are being forced to concede the first attempt was a fraud, even if they call it as an “experiment.” Experiments are done to draw conclusions, evangelicals start with conclusions and then cram the evidence into a mould to force it to fit the predetermined conclusion. “Experiment” is the language of science but no scientific method is used by evangelicals, if anything science is ridiculed and attacked.
The approach they wish to hype now, in place of the scandal-riddled fraud of the gay cure movement, is “care” for the evil sinners. For them being gay is “a fallen condition experienced by some Christians who needed care more than cure.” To them sexual orientation is more like smallpox—something to be contained by a caring, trained elite.
The purpose of Johnson’s book is to save the anti-gay message of evangelicalism by calling it something else. They also seem to assert this new denigration of gay people is the right one theologically and Christians had it wrong previously. “Despite the best of intentions, the movement ended with very troubling results. Yet the ex-gay movement died not because it had the wrong sex ethic. It died because it was founded on a practice that diminished the beauty of the gospel.” So it wasn’t they started with wrong premises at all. I’m with Ayn Rand when she urged, “Check your premises.” Wrong premises lead to wrong conclusions but evangelicals can’t question their premises without questioning their god. Their own system of logic effectively bans critical thinking.
Zondervan says the book’s goal is to get evangelicals to admit they were wrong — implying it was a mistake more than lie, and at the same time gay people have to grovel before the deity who made them gay and beg forgiveness for what he did to them. As Zondervan put it, “gay Christians repent of their homosexual sins and the church repents of its homophobia — putting on display for all the power of the gospel.”
Some 40 years ago evangelicals were saying the ex-gay movement displayed the power of the gospel, in spite of its failure. Now they have another strategy which they claim will do exactly the same thing. Nothing has really changed, it’s just being marketed differently.
Evangelicals are trapped by their own belief system. What they can’t admit is the gospel doesn’t have the “power” they claim it did. That premise remains no matter the evidence to the contrary, that’s what makes it faith — believing something without evidence, and even continuing to believe it in the face of actual evidence to the contrary.
Their starting premises—that people are sinners by virtue of being gay—remains, and their pre-determined conclusion that the gospels can solve this imaginary problem also remains. They are just repackaging it in a new form. It’s the same old lie told with new words. Johnson’s call is the same one the exgay movement was trying to peddle: celibacy. He described himself as a “gay atheist kid who experienced a conversion to Jesus in college and has joyfully walked with him in celibacy ever since.”
This is really little different from what the so-called exgays were saying. In 1978 I quoted the most well-known “exgay ministry” Love in Action: “We hold firm the belief that He will lead us through this valley, give us the victory over homosexual desires and give us new life and a new walk that is within His will, even if it means remaining single and celibate…” One of the leading “exgays” of the day, Frank Worthen said, “I’ve become a celibate and learned to live happily. I have a contented, fulfilling life without sex.” I should point out that gay relationships, like a heterosexual ones, are more than sex, but evangelicals are a sexually obsessed people.
I made this very point to Anita Bryant’s husband, Bob Green when I spent a day with the couple in South Bend, Indiana (October 27, 1977). I put it to him: “So an “ex-gay” may be somebody who is only living a celibate life?”
Green stuttered and stammered in reply:
I suppose, yeah. I think, according to our beliefs, I believe that when somebody is delivered from the sin of homosexuality he becomes a new creature. And I know a lot of ex-homosexuals we’ve met, the press will put them on the spot and say: “Well, you say you’re not a homosexual; are you a heterosexual?” and they say “No” because there is a point, it seems to me, I’m not an expert, that there is a whole point there of, they’re not a homosexual, they’re not a heterosexual. It’s not like all of a sudden you can, you know when we were kids we used to say you could straighten out the homosexual, just fix him up with a girl and overnight he’ll become a heterosexual. Well, that’s not true, but I think it takes a lot of prayer, a lot of love, and a lot of fellowship and staying close to them. And I think that the persons who minister to the ex-homosexual have to be ready for a lot of disappointment, because there is a lot of backsliding, but then they’ll come back. You have to be very patient with them.”
The final bizarre problem with Johnson’s repackaging of anti gay theology is that it’s still based on the assumption LGBT people are sinful by virtue of being LGBT. Heterosexuals are not sinful by virtue of being heterosexual. They still have the recourse of marriage and sanctioned sex within that relationship, but not the gay “sinner.” Their sin is a much a trait as eye color, and just as one can wear contacts lenses making blue eyes appear brown, they’re still blue in reality, no matter how much you pretend otherwise.
Apparently the god of evangelical Christianity gave gay people a nature which damns them as sinners and requires of them something not required from the majority — a life of celibacy without the option of marriage and commitment. It is really not unlike another movement that plunged the world into darkness with the theory that Jews are evil by virtue of being Jewish. If anything the Johnson theory is worse, one can convert from Judaism, but one can’t convert from their sexual orientation. Instead they are “sick” from birth to death, needing “care” whether they want it or not. From what I’ve seen these care-givers are destructive, and in many cases, deadly. It’s a fraudulent cure relabeled as care for a non-existent disease.
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