In some incredibly twisted logic, a “theologian, seminary professor, and ordained minister” named Patrick Cheng posted an article on Huffington Post entitled ‘Ex-Gays’ and the Ninth Circle of Hell in which, as Randy Thomas of Exodus International (one of the “ex-gays” Cheng is describing) describes, “he basically said that ex-gays were going to hell and really, really deserved it.”
Thomas and Exodus President Alan Chambers both provided excellent responses on the Exodus Blog to the accusations made toward John Paulk (he’s really doing great, despite popular conception) and George Rekers and Jo-Vanni Roman by Cheng. However, there was another point made by Cheng that was of particular interest that I had not seen put forth in gay activist circles previously . Below is a selection from his article that calls for those that have left homosexuality to “repent”:
The good news, however, is that Christian theology teaches us that it is never too late to repent. Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper, the two founders of Exodus International, one of the earliest and most prominent “ex-gay” organizations, ended up falling in love with each other. They have acknowledged that, as a result of their “ex-gay” ministries, many of their former clients had become “suicidal” or resorted to “self-mutilation.” They repudiated their views publicly, separated from their wives, and abandoned Exodus International. They exchanged vows and remained together for another nine years until Cooper passed away.
Nobody knows for sure if traitors are in fact consigned to the lowest circle of hell, as Dante vividly described in the Inferno. I am certain, however, that the grace of God is available even to those who have betrayed their loved ones, the LGBT community, and even themselves through the “ex-gay” movement. It is time for people involved in the “ex-gay” movement to repent of their sinful ways and to proclaim the real “truth in love,” which is that all authentic love between people — queer, straight, or in-between — should be supported and encouraged as a wonderful blessing and unmerited gift from God.
Remarkably, the example of “repentance” Cheng puts forth as the model to follow is two professing Christians who claimed to be ex-gay that left their wives, had sex with each other, and returned to gay lifestyles that ultimately resulted in the death one of them to AIDS! And keep in mind that Cheng is a “theologian, seminary professor, and ordained minister!”
As Bryan Purtle points out in his recent VOR article, “the degree to which we have come into a true knowledge of God is directly related to the measure of our own awareness of sin.” Sadly, that Cheng would put forth that those that have left homosexuality need to “repent” of the “sin” of abandoning their gay lifestyles, and embrace the model put forth by the Exodus co founders of abandoning their wives and diving back into homosexuality, is clearly evidence that he not only has no awareness of sin, but is actively calling people to abandon holiness in pursuit of sin (and perversely calling it holiness!) Whatever religious titles Cheng may have by his name, this act of open rebellion to the clear will of God disqualifies him from the position he claims to hold in the Kingdom of God, and if Bryan is right, is clear evidence that he does not have a true knowledge of God. May his eyes be opened to the truth.
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. – Isaiah 5:20
Since the passage of Question 1 in Maine which repealed a law that had redefined marriage to include same sex couples, death threats have been coming in against those affiliated with the “Yes on 1” effort. According to Matt Barber:
Michael Heath, former director of the Christian Civic League of Maine, was directly targeted with a death threat shortly after the vote on 1. An anonymous caller telephoned the League and left a message warning: “I am calling about Mr. Mike Heath, the Executive of your Christian Civic League of Maine. He thinks that gay people should have our rights revoked that we already have. Well I can tell him this – I’m a gay guy who owns guns, and he’s my next target.”
Another death threat was made against Marc Mutty, chief of the unaffiliated “Yes On One” organization: “You’re dead. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon…you’re dead.”
Death threats because these people are leading efforts to keep the institution of marriage from being radically redefined? Death threats because a vote was passed in Maine that has passed 31 out of 31 times in states where people have been asked to vote on the issue? Pray for the leaders at the forefront of this fight over family and marriage, the threats they are undergoing appear to be serious.
Here’s a sign that was held at a Boston Gay Marriage Protest from a few years ago:
Here’s the biblical text the sign is referencing in its entirety:
If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then turns against her, and charges her with shameful deeds and publicly defames her, and says, ‘I took this woman, but when I came near her, I did not find her a virgin,’ then the girl’s father and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of the girl’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate.
The girl’s father shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man for a wife, but he turned against her; and behold, he has charged her with shameful deeds, saying, “I did not find your daughter a virgin.” But this is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the garment before the elders of the city.
So the elders of that city shall take the man and chastise him, and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give it to the girl’s father, because he publicly defamed a virgin of Israel. And she shall remain his wife; he cannot divorce her all his days.
But if this charge is true, that the girl was not found a virgin, then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her father’s house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you.
How would you respond? Here are some thoughts Dr. Brown shared on the subject:
There were certain laws that God gave to ancient Israel before Jesus came into the world in order to maintain certain standards of purity and in order to keep Israel separate from the nations. Those laws are not applicable to Christians today. There were other laws based on universal principles of morality and holiness, including the prohibition against murder, the prohibition against child sacrifice, and the prohibition against homosexual practice. Those laws are still in full force today.
But I’m not so sure that using the term radical gay agenda is right, nor do I see it as beneficial to our cause. What if the use of such language is part of what is causing “much of the conflict and misunderstanding between the two groups”? (And both sides have contributed to this misunderstanding in how they talk to or about one another.) Perhaps there is a fear of legitimizing the gay activist groups who oppose us by not defaulting to that terminology. But why can’t we see the other side’s point of view here? Why is it that we can’t see that they see our use of the term radical gay agenda as another way of saying, “Oh, no, the gays are coming to get us! We can’t let them mess with our rights!” \
Can we really dismiss that as liberalism trying to caricature us unfairly? We’re NOT trying to push panic buttons and act as though homosexuality is the ultimate evil, but we ARE trying to say that homosexuality is sin. That message is offensive enough. Why do we need to add to it by reacting with words like radical gay agenda?
Should we use phrases like “radical gay agenda”? Here are some thoughts on the subject:
First of all, your statement seems to presuppose that the word “radical” is morally wrong or offensive. Is it wrong to be radical in and of itself? I would say no. We proudly declare we are putting forth a “radical Jesus agenda,” and in many other sectors, it is fine to speak of groups having agendas. As Dr. Brown puts it in his 2007 lecture series:
People have had no problem referring to a civil rights agenda, a feminist agenda, or a conservative agenda – these terms have been freely used by those within the respective movements – yet it is forbidden to speak of a gay agenda which is actually the’ rhetorical invention of anti-gay extremists seeking to portray as sinister the lesbian and gay civil rights movement.’
Secondly, a small army of gay activists are actively trying to change society substantially, thus I think it is accurate to describe what they are doing as propagating a gay agenda. Take this recent column from Jeff Lutes of SoulForce for example, where the author declares that “heterosexism,” the idea that heterosexuality is “superior or preferable” to homosexuality, is a “toxic belief system” that needs to be eradicated. Thus, according to these fairly mainstream voices in the gay activist movement, the concept that men and women were made for each other, clearly one of the foundational concepts that has run throughout all history and culture, needs to be changed in the hearts and minds of people everywhere. Is this radical? Are they putting forth an agenda? This is just one of countless examples we could give of an increasingly mainstream gay activist movement. Dr. Brown summed it up well in his lecture series: [Link to Video]
Obviously these changes did not “just happen,” and so it is not incorrect to use terminology like “radical gay agenda.” I also see no reason someone should take offense to being called “radical” or of having an “agenda.” As to whether it is beneficial to our cause or not, I suppose time will tell. But I see no reason to avoid calling a spade a spade, and I see ample reason to raise awareness in the church and society of what is going on.
A remarkable event happened earlier this year in Italy… a pop singer bucked the cultural norms that say that gay and lesbian individuals cannot change their sexual orientation, and made a public statement in support of ex-gay individuals, all on national television.
Roberto Marchesini shares this intriguing story here, and it is well worth a look. The song, entitled “Luca Era Gay,” caused quite a backlash from the gay community in Italy as singer Giuseppe Povia was preparing to sing it at “Festival di San Remo,” a key Italian music festival. According to Marchesini:
Gay activists threatened to block the festival, and Europarlimentary member Vittorio Agnoletto asked for a European resolution to stop Povia from peforming the song. Povia, himself, received death threats. The gay association “Everyone” denounced Povia to the Procura of the Republic for alleged “homophobia.” These efforts failing, gay activists then asked the Festival organizers to “counterbalance” Povia with a song by a gay singer, about “the perfection of homosexual love.” That effort too, failed.
Before Povia’s song was aired, the Italian comedian Roberto Benigni presented a twenty-minute show in which he condemned Povia, saying that homosexuality isn’t a sin and that gays have been persecuted historically “because they love someone.” He then read an excerpt from Oscar Wilde’s “De Profundis.”
After Povia’s song, contrary to all custom, the conductor gave the microphone to Franco Grillini, former parliamentary member and former president of ARCIgay, the foremost gay association in Italy. Grillini said he had received a cellphone message from a friend (although all celphones were supposed to be turned off during the festival…), who had cried when he had just heard Benigni reading “De Profundis,” because it brought to mind his partner who had died of AIDS. Grillini concluded by saying that Povia must learn what gay love is.
Then, the unforseeable happened: people in the theater started to hiss at Grillini (in Italy, hissing is like booing)! The crowd’s sympathy was with Povia, not with the gay activist.
The video of the performance is below. When was the last time you witnessed a significant statement being made like this by way of song? (The sign he holds up at the end is quite bold in its content as well.)
Over 500 followers of Jesus participated in an event known as God Has a Better Way in downtown Charlotte on July 25th, 2009. The event began at noon at First Baptist Church in Charlotte, where Dr. Michael Brown, director of the Coalition of Conscience, shared the goals and terms of involvement for the rally, described as a “Spirit-birthed response to Charlotte’s annual gay pride event.” After being required to sign their names to the terms of involvement before receiving red “God Has a Better Way” t-shirts, the group marched to the corner of Cedar St. and Trade St. for a time of worship, prayer, and preaching across the street from Pride Charlotte.
Among the news outlets covering the event was News14, which released a story that included an interview with a lesbian woman named Monica Simpson. Their article states:
One Pride Festival participant turned the tables.
“Each year, we have groups come to our pride celebrations trying to demonstrate their message of love, saying there’s a better way or we need to change who we are, and so this year I thought, what if we go to them? I think it’s time to flip the script, so to speak,” Monica Simpson said.
In the midst of the sea of red shirts stood Simpson, a yearly pride participant.
“It allowed me to see how much work still needs to be done on this earth as we really talk about the dream that god has for us to live as one and realize we are all connected as one,” she said.
What’s not recorded in the News14 story however, is that she gave this account prior to the event as the God Has a Better Way participants were on their way to their designated meeting place. Dr. Brown had this to say about what happened with Monica after the interview with News14:
She and about four of her group then came to the front of our crowd, right near the musicians, and began to worship with us. We even gave one of the ladies a jimbe to play to join in with our folks. After about an hour of prayer and worship, Monica came over to talk with me.
She explained to me that she didn’t even want to come over to our group because she had her defenses up, but what we were doing was “wonderful” and “radical love” and she “really felt God’s presence.” And she was thrilled with my expressed desire to sit down and dialogue. I have already emailed her with the hope that she and some of her church leaders will sit down together and talk.
Following a time of worship and prayer, Lou Engle of The Call led the group in a prayer of repentance for the sexual sin that has gripped the church in America, and Dr. Brown led a prayer asking for forgiveness on behalf of those in the church who have brought condemnation instead of love and hope to the homosexual community, asking God that their hearts would be filled with love and compassion instead. The rally participants gathered into small groups to intercede on behalf of friends and family who struggle with homosexual desires, and then many stayed to continue to worship and pray while others made themselves available for conversation with Pride participants by walking around the Pride event in groups of two. In addition to the main event, several small worship teams were located in other areas around Pride Charlotte, with God Has a Better Way leadership asking participants not to gather in groups larger than ten in these places to avoid disrupting the Pride event.
During the rally, a small group was gathered across the street in protest. Some of their signs included “There Is No ‘Better Way’ Than Being Human,” “Focus on Your Own Family,” and “God Is a Militant Transgender Feminist.” In an interview with the leader of this protest, the protester said that the last sign was written to:
Poke fun at the concept that there could be any better way than what is just the human way. We’re all people, and so to say that one way is any better than any other way is foolish, to say that there’s someone whose job it is to determine what that way is, is foolish.
The protest leader was confused however by the peaceful, loving event he was witnessing across the street, expecting something quite different after reading what had been said about Brown, Engle, and the people involved with God Has a Better Way in the weeks prior to the event (see the World Net Daily article Opposing rally has ‘pridefest’ fans enraged for some examples), saying:
If you compare their rhetoric to their presence … reading the publications they release, they come with a message of hate and intolerance, and the manifestation of that is clearly not violent, not aggressive.
Not knowing what publications he could have been referring to, we probed further:
VOR: Can you quickly talk about what you read that you thought was violent or
Protester: From accounts of “God Has a Better Way” demonstrations in the past,
where red-shirted individuals would scream hateful things at people or their
children, specifically about how they’re an abomination, or that they’re
less than human, or not human, [and also] the writings of several people that are part
of the organization.
One can completely understand the need to protest an organization that is doing these sorts of things year-in, year-out. But are these allegations true? Dr. Brown responds:
Everything the protester said is completely fictional. The only other time we had red-shirted individuals in the midst of a gay pride event was 2005, and they were required to conduct themselves in accordance with the same terms of involvement as the ones we handed out yesterday. Throughout the event, their conduct and speech were exemplary. In fact, their instructions were to make it their goal to be invited to someone’s house to hang out after the event as a friend.
Unfortunately, there were some quotes in the Charlotte Observer’s coverage of the event from Charlotte Pride participants (not the Observer reporter) that spoke of red-shirted protesters hitting people over the head with the Bible and telling them they were going to hell. The reality is that the story was so one-sided that the Observer invited me to write an editorial giving the other side of the story. My editorial was entitled, “Pushing the Hate Button Again,” and I pointed out how people accuse us of speaking hatefully rather than interact honestly with the things we say in a gracious spirit. (Click here to read the editorial.)
More unfortunate are the recent quotes in a wildly misleading article that appeared on the gay blog Interstate Q, where an anonymous source claims that we told the children of GLBT participants at Charlotte Pride in 2005 that their parents were going to hell, and it was this bogus report – note that it is anonymous and surfaces for the first time more than four years after the event! – that was repeated in stories on other websites, like Box Turtle Bulletin and 365Gay. Thankfully, these last two websites had the integrity to print my responses to these charges, despite our obvious differences, and Interstate Q allowed me to print comments refuting the false accusations. (Click here for the BTB article that includes my response, and here for the 365Gay article with my response).
As for the notion that the writings of several people that are part of God Has a Better Way leadership were hateful and violent, that is also 100% false and, sadly, fueled by some of the reports that were published on some of the aforementioned websites. The good news is that they are verifiably false, as opposed to the accusations and denials regarding the demeanor and speech of our participants in Charlotte Pride 2005. There’s not a syllable in anything I have ever written concerning LGBT issues that is either hateful or violent. (Of course, I am consistently branded as “hateful” for saying that, according to the Bible, homosexual practice is sinful and that I differ with many of the goals of gay activism, but by no rational definition can that be considered hateful). As for advocating violence, that is as mythical as me (or Lou Engle, another leader who participated in GBW) advocating that lambs go to battle and tear up lions with their teeth! (Just to be clear, I’m not calling GLBT’s “lions”; I’m simply exposing the absurdity of the “violent” charge.) Again, some writings having to do with spiritual warfare or the like were massively misconstrued in some recent gay articles, but Lou addressed that in a VOR interview and I addressed it in an article.
I must say, however, that some of the “violent” accusations were quite laughable, akin to the National Guard being called out because the Salvation Army was coming to town. I think readers would enjoy listening to my two-hour interview with a young gay journalist named Matt Comer where we discussed these very issues last week. (Click here to listen.) I think listeners will find it insightful that he agreed that in all the time he has known me and/or heard me speak, and in all my writings regarding GLBT issues, I have never once said or written anything that could be called hateful.
Towards the end of the event, an official statement to the media was read by Dr. Brown, followed by prayer and proclamation from Lou Engle for righteousness to be restored to the nation, and for the homosexual agenda to be carried no further, calling specifically for a “stone wall of intercession” to rise from the church concerning these issues.
During the prayer, a protester who had previously driven by the event honking and waving a “Stop Preaching Hate” sign, went across the street from the event and started shouting at the rally participants to look at her in an effort to disrupt the prayer. Intrigued by the sign, considering the love that other protesters had seen from the God Has a Better Way rally, we asked her what “hate” she had heard from the people preaching at the rally. She replied:
They’re preaching hate because they’re coming against who we are, they’re against who we are as human beings, it’s not really about gay rights, it’s about human rights, and they’re against human rights, obviously.
Thus, according to the protester, the GBW participants and leaders were “coming against who [GLBT people] are” when they say that God has a better way than homosexuality, and that this was “preaching hate.” Is this true? As mentioned in Dr. Brown’s article from 2005, the verb hate is defined as “to feel hostility or animosity toward; to detest.” Were the people at the God Has a Better Way rally hostile towards gay people? Clearly not. Were they hostile towards the ideologies and spiritual powers that propagate what they see as a “radical gay agenda”? Yes. And here-in lies much of the conflict and misunderstanding between the groups.
The event ended with GBW participants linking arms to form a “stone wall” of prayer, declaring together “IT STOPS HERE, GOD HAS A BETTER WAY!” After the event, one woman who had come to experience both Pride Charlotte and God Has a Better Way said of the latter: “I was blessed. I think everybody is loved here. This is a very moving event, that I think everybody should be a part of.”
Reports have been coming in since the event concluded that show that many Pride Charlotte attendees were quite open to and welcoming of receiving prayer from the GBW participants (whether they were in red shirts or not), and a few testimonies have been circulating of people at the Pride event coming to faith in Jesus and getting healed of physical injuries and ailments.
What significance will God Has a Better Way end up having? Dr. Brown had the following perspective: “I’ve been saying for years that God’s going to do something in Charlotte that’s going to get the attention of the nation. Believe me, this is the first salvo. By God’s grace, this is just the beginning.”
We are here today to reach out and resist – to reach out to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community with compassion, as neighbors and friends and fellow-workers, and to declare God’s great love for GLBT people. And we are here to resist the gay activist agenda and to send a message to the nation.
As followers of Jesus, we first confess our own sins – our lack of ardent love for homosexual men and women, our lack of compassion for their struggles, our adding to their sense of rejection through insensitive words and deeds. We acknowledge the fact that homophobia is alive and well in some churches, and we renounce and repudiate that hateful and destructive attitude.
Our love also compels us to speak the truth, and we do not believe that all sexual orientations should be celebrated. We do not celebrate the fact that some people believe they are women trapped in men’s bodies; we do not celebrate the fact that two men or two women cannot reproduce their own unique offspring and that same-sex families guarantee that a child will never have either a mother or a father; we do not celebrate the fact that some people choose to surgically mutilate their God-given organs and must take hormones for the rest of their lives just to be at peace with themselves; we do not celebrate the sexual confusion that exists in many young people today, to the point that they can only identify themselves “as genderqueer”; we do not celebrate the pain and brokenness that exists in the lives of many of those attending Pride Charlotte today – completely apart from societal rejection – and we proclaim to our GLBT friends that God has a better way, that there is a place of wholeness and transformation to be found in Jesus. And we are here for the long-term to help them on that journey.
And because of our sense of justice and rightness, we take strong exception to the gay activist agenda. We watch its trajectory, we see where it has gone and where it is going, and we say, “It stops here in Charlotte.”
Since gay pride events have been rallying points for GLBT activism, we take our stand here today and declare:
We don’t believe that elementary school children should be taught to find their “inner-trannie” (meaning their inner transgender identity) as advocated in GLSEN’s training materials
We don’t believe that it is in the best interest of our society to seek to eradicate gender or to multiply it exponentially.
We completely reject the Los Angeles Unified School District Reference Guide when it states that Gender identity “refers to one’s understanding, interests, outlook, and feelings about whether one is female or male, or both, or neither, regardless of one’s biological sex.”
We don’t believe it is good or right for four-year-old children to have their preschool teachers read them books like One Dad, Two Dads, or to be lined up by sneaker color rather than gender so they don’t feel “boxed in.”
We don’t believe in “Queering Elementary Education,” to use the title of a well-known book.
We believe it is outrageous when an African American woman is fired from her university position of vice-president of human resources because she writes an editorial objecting to the concept that sexual orientation is equivalent to skin color.
We believe it is outrageous for the media to cover up the gay identity of a sexual predator who repeatedly raped his adopted, five-year-old African American son and offered him for sex through the internet – for fear of making homosexual couples look bad.
We believe it is outrageous for the mayor of San Francisco to welcome warmly a public fair featuring nude, sado-masochistic displays, and to do so in the name of “diversity.” And what does it say of our country today when our president, in the White House, could say “We are very proud of you” to a man who leads an organization devoted to making harder core pornography more readily available and who says that bestiality is fine as long as the animal doesn’t mind?
We don’t believe in fining a Christian photographer in New Mexico for politely declining to shoot a lesbian commitment ceremony, or punishing an Anglican bishop in England for choosing not to hire an openly gay youth worker, or for putting a lifetime ban on Christian leaders in Canada, forbidding them from expressing the biblical teaching on homosexual practice and threatening them with imprisonment.
We don’t believe in laws that could jail the owner of a Christian bookstore for choosing not to hire a cross-dresser as a receptionist.
We don’t believe in a Hate Crimes bill that is so flawed that even the ACLU is concerned that it could restrict freedom of speech.
We don’t believe it is right for major Charlotte-based companies like Bank of America and Wachovia and Duke Energy to pour tens of thousands of dollars into a radical organization like the Human Rights Campaign, an organization that has stated that supporters of male-female marriage are “right wing extremists” and that mandates that businesses must have special bathroom accommodations for employees undergoing sex-change surgery.
We are saddened by the fact that some of those who came out of the closet forty years now are now trying to put conservative Christians in the closet.
We don’t believe in tampering with the foundations of human society – male-female marriage and family – and creating a new institution previously unknown in human history.
We utterly reject the new theologies that advocate “Queering Christ” and writing “Queer Commentaries” on the Bible, and we say to Charlotte and the nation, “By God’s grace, it stops here.”
So, we say “Enough is enough” to the destructive goals of gay activism, and we say to the GLBT community, “Jesus loves you and God has a better way!”
Homosexuals planning for tomorrow’s Pride Charlotte festival in Charlotte, N.C., are enraged because the Coalition of Conscience has set up a Christian event, called “God Has a Better Way” nearby at the same time.
Michael Brown, who is director of the Charlotte-based coalition, said hundreds of people from area churches are coordinating the rally that will be unique.
“Nothing like this has ever been done in conjunction with a gay pride event in any city before, and those who join together on this day will be part of history in the making,” he said.
Brown told WND that when his ministry moved into Charlotte several years ago, his goal was to reach out to individuals with compassion and resist homosexual activism with courage.
Charisma put out a story on God Has a Better Way, providing a good overview of the event, including an interview with Dr. Brown:
In what is being called the largest outreach of its kind in Charlotte, N.C., more than 1,000 Christians are expected to pray and evangelize at the city’s annual gay pride event Saturday to proclaim that “God has a better way.”
“Our statement is that God has a better way,” said organizer Michael L. Brown, a former Brownsville Revival leader and president of the FIRE School of Ministry, which relocated to the Charlotte area in 2004.
“We won’t be yelling at people through loudspeakers,” added Brown, who leads the citywide Coalition of Conscience that is behind Saturday’s outreach. “We’ll be praying, worshiping, believing that the presence of God will touch hearts and will make a difference in the city.”