2. When did you first decide you were heterosexual?
3. Is it possible heterosexuality is a phase you will grow out of?
4. Is it possible you are heterosexual because you fear the same sex?
5. If you have never slept with anyone of the same sex, how do you know you wouldn’t prefer it? Is it possible you merely need a good gay experience?
6. To whom have you disclosed your heterosexuality? How did they react?
7. Why are heterosexuals so blatant, always making a spectacle of their heterosexuality? Why can’t they just be who they are and not flaunt their sexuality by kissing in public, wearing wedding rings, etc.?
– Part of a questionnaire students in Framingham, MA were forced to answer, challenging the validity of their heterosexuality. (John Haskins, as quoted in A Queer Thing Happened to America by Michael L. Brown; forthcoming)
EXODUS RETURNS to its BIRTHPLACE for 35th ANNIVERSARY CONFERENCE
Exodus Continues Moving Forward With Longest Running Conference On Homosexuality
Orlando, FL – Exodus International – the global Christian outreach whose mission is mobilizing the Church to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality – will celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the Exodus International Freedom Conference on June 23rd – 26th in Irvine, CA. The first gathering took place in nearby Anaheim, CA in September 1976. Amidst controversy, 63 formerly gay-identified men and women gathered together for encouragement and support and ended up birthing a movement. 35 years later controversy remains, as does the original passion, vision and purpose. One thing that has changed is the breadth of the ever-growing ministry that now encompasses outreaches on 6 continents boasting more than 300 ministries, a vibrant church association and an outreach to youth.
Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, says, “35 years later, we’re still here and we are moving forward. Thousands of individuals, including myself, continue to boldly proclaim the freedom we have found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.” While Exodus exists in an increasingly hostile environment, they remain committed to providing a biblical perspective for those who feel conflicted by their same-sex attractions and their faith as well as offering understanding, encouragement, counseling and support to friends and family members impacted by homosexuality.
Ron Dennis, one of the 63 who gathered in 1976 and a current board member will attend the event along with Frank Worthen, who embodied the heart of Exodus at the first gathering. Kent Paris, who attended his first conference in 1977, will share his story at the conference – recounting the early days of the ex-gay movement.
The Exodus International Freedom Conference is for those who desire to live in congruence with biblical teaching on sexuality as well as for families and leaders concerned about this issue. The four-day conference features 50 workshops on a variety of issues related to homosexuality, general sessions and special events for youth and married couples.
To receive media credentials to cover this event or to arrange for an interview, please call the Exodus Press Office at (407) 599-6872 or (321) 279-8965. For a schedule of events or more information of this conference, please go to: www.exodusfreedom.org
Founded in 1976, Exodus International is the largest Christian organization dealing with homosexual issues in the world today. With over 240 affiliates in its network, Exodus is a dynamic outreach ministry to sharing the hope of freedom through the power of Jesus Christ.
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
Gold delivered a heartfelt and stirring account of the difficult upbringing he and others had endured “growing up gay in America.” With a clearly pained heart, yet determined spirit, he recounted his own suicidal thoughts in middle school, how one young man he’d met dealt with his same-sex attraction by taking a razor blade to his chest to spell out the word “fag” in blood in order to “expel the demons,” (a technique which evidently his religiously based “ex-gay” counselor advised he continue), and how one woman completely cut off interaction with her lesbian daughter at the advice of her pastor, resulting in her daughter committing suicide.
Events such as these are indeed regrettable, and we need to take stories like these seriously as we examine how we as followers of Jesus deal with same-sex attracted youth. What are we to make however of Gold’s approach to parenting these youth when during the question and answer period following his lecture, he advised a high school teacher that she tell her students not to tell their parents they are same-sex attracted lest they bring them to (shudder)… an ex-gay ministry? That he desires to see parents of struggling teenagers closed out of the loop until they meet his approval as “gay-allies” is startling. Is this the face of mainstream gay leadership?
The biggest takeaway from the event however was Gold’s exhortation to the LGBT community to address the “big pink elephant in the room,” namely “the sin issue.” Gold is correct in stating that this is the core of the matter. If a person’s religion or belief system describes homosexual sex as a sin, then clearly this will affect how that person views homosexuality, and will indeed forbid that person from celebrating or accepting it in others. The question then is, since Gold and other LGBT activists want to destroy the idea that homosexual sex is a sin, how will they go about it? Will they come against those of us that hold to this belief, and tell us our faith is wrong in this regard? Or will they attempt to redefine our beliefs, so that it will appear that we were actually wrong all along when we believed the Bible (or other religious texts) taught that homosexuality was a sin? The first approach I can handle, the second however is where things start to get murky.
Which of these approaches will the LGBT movement take then? Following the event, I asked Matt Comer (who contributed a story to Gold’s Crisis book, and spoke at a follow-up event on Feb. 25th) the following:
During Thursday’s lecture, Mitchell Gold talked about the “big pink elephant in the room” that no one is talking about with regard to growing up gay in America, namely “the sin issue.” What do you believe is the best approach to deal with the belief in many religions and denominations that homosexuality is a sin? Do you intend to come against these religious beliefs, declaring that those that hold these beliefs are wrong in this area? Or do you intend to alter the religious beliefs so that they embrace homosexuality, regardless of what their sacred texts or traditions teach?
To which he responded:
When Mitchell Gold spoke of the “big pink elephant,” or the “sin issue,” he spoke of many LGBT organizations’ tendency to shy away from religious issues when engaging in debates on LGBT civil equality. The reason, I believe, is that LGBT people have experienced so much pain from religion and the church that they’d rather not address it or think of it.
Common experience shows us that those who know an LGBT person are more likely to support our civil and social equality. The reasons for this are clear: When one knows personally an LGBT person — whether it be a brother, sister, child, parent, other relative or close friend — a person is exposed to the truth: LGBT people are not the sick and sinful monsters the church has taught them we are. Rather, we are loving, dedicated members of our families and healthy, contributing members of our local communities.
All religion, and Christianity itself, is not monolithic. There is not one interpretation of Scripture or other religious texts. And, while we might disagree over theology or doctrine, we can all agree that no child should be harmed by those who love him. The truth is, anti-LGBT religion-based bigotry and prejudice causes damage in the lives of youth. Like other youth faced with loneliness and despair, LGBT youth fall victim to depression and mental illness or turn to drug abuse and suicide to solve their problems. Unfortunately, the rate at which LGBT youth fall victim to unhealthy behaviors is far higher than that of their heterosexual peers. Perhaps it is because LGBT youth often have nowhere — nowhere at all — to turn when they feel as though their families, friends, schools and school officials, faith communities and communities-at-large will not love them or accept them?
You asked me if it was my intent to “alter the religious beliefs so that they embrace homosexuality, regardless of what their sacred texts or traditions teach.” I challenge you to take a deeper look into Scripture, to come to really know God and his magnificently radical, inclusive love. I encourage you to understand and accept that one can have a relationship with God even if they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. One mustn’t ignore Scripture in order to understand that God loves each and every one of God’s children, without reservation, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender-identity. One can live in peace in Christ and in fulfillment of the Gospel knowing that they are who they are as God made them, or that their loved ones are just as much a brother or sister in Christ as they. Perhaps it is the “tradition” that has betrayed God, and not LGBT people or the ones who love them?
But, to directly answer your three questions:
1. The best approach to dealing with the “sin issue” is to engage in direct, one-on-one conversations with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We all agree on at least one spiritual truth: Our God is the creator of each of us, the world around us and all in the universe, and God’s son, Jesus Christ, is our savior. With this agreement, we can have truly honest, brother-to-brother and sister-to-sister conversation, recognizing that while we disagree now, and might disagree in the future, on other areas of theology and doctrine, we are all one in Christ.
2. As much as you might believe I am engaging in sin, I believe the words and actions of those under the influence of anti-LGBT religion-based bigotry and prejudice are deathly harmful, both spiritually and physically, to LGBT people and especially to LGBT young people. For many, at one point including myself, these issues are matters of life and death: LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, and those who come from rejecting, unaccepting families are nine times more likely to attempt suicide. As much as some might be tempted to see or frame these issues in the light of eternal salvation, these are serious issues of the physical here and now. People are dying, and the church has blood on its hands.
3. Christ taught us that there are two commandments upon which the entire law and prophecy must hang. First, that one should love God with all their heart, soul and mind. Second, that one should love their neighbor as oneself. I challenge you to take into consideration the personal stories and experiences of all the LGBT people you know, and even the stories in “CRISIS,” and ask yourself two questions: First, knowing that condemnation and rejection causes so much pain and despair in the lives of LGBT people, especially youth, do my words and actions serve to cause more pain and trauma, or are they creating a world in which LGBT young people can be healthy, loved, accepted and cherished, allowing them to grow into the fullness of their lives and live in peace with God and themselves? Second, if my words and actions are causing pain and trauma in the lives of others, am I living up to and living by Christ’s two greatest commandments?
Before I address some of Matt’s questions and exhortations (which I will do in a followup article), let’s first look at what appears to be his clearest answer to my question. Matt stated: “One mustn’t ignore Scripture in order to understand that God loves each and every one of God’s children, without reservation, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender-identity. One can live in peace in Christ and in fulfillment of the Gospel knowing that they are who they are as God made them, or that their loved ones are just as much a brother or sister in Christ as they. Perhaps it is the ‘tradition’ that has betrayed God, and not LGBT people or the ones who love them?” It seems from this statement that Matt is indeed taking the second approach, that “tradition” has betrayed God in calling homosexuality a sin. What tradition are we talking about? The tradition that God forbade even idol-worshiping pagan nations from engaging in homosexuality (as opposed to dietary laws for example, which were only for Israel)? The tradition that the Apostle Paul called followers of Jesus out of homosexuality (both male and female) numerous times in his letters? The tradition that Jesus reaffirmed male-female marriage as the divine order and clearly spoke against sexual immorality, which in a First Century Jewish context would have included homosexuality? We did not will these texts into being, and we dare not throw them away because some wrongly use them or others want them reinterpreted to suit their agenda.
Comer’s approach is directly in step with Gold’s. Consider the following statements made by Gold’s organization Faith in America, statements which they describe as “three basic truths” they’ve made their mission to propagate throughout the country:
• Religion-based bigotry and prejudice brings personal, social and spiritual pain and trauma to bear on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and that such harm is particularly oppressive to gay youth. This harm is brought to bear on gay Americans solely on the basis of sexual orientation and is most often justified and promoted by misguided religious teaching that is disguised as religious truth.
• History illustrates how in the past bigotry and prejudice disguised as religious truth has caused immense harm to people of color, women, interracial couples, religious minorities and society as a whole. The attitudes of condemnation and discrimination that once were produced by religion-based bigotry and prejudice toward minorities in the past have been rejected as wrong and morally indefensible.
• It has been established by both science and common sense that a person’s sexual orientation is an unchangeable and essential aspect of the human personality. Sexual orientation is as natural and innate as skin, eye and hair color, left- or right-handedness, and gender and therefore cannot be justified as a reason to subject a person to condemnation, discrimination and violence.
Are these really “basic truths?” Dr. Michael Brown, Director of the Coalition of Conscience, was shocked to see what they present as “truth,” responding thusly:
I don’t doubt that they believe what they’ve written, but do they really believe that by simply stating their opinions they have demonstrated their points? The reverse is actually true.
First, they make the utterly false claim that that the obvious and plain sense of the Scriptures (which always speaks against homosexual practice), not to mention God’s foundational male-female order, is “misguided religious teaching that is disguised as religious truth.” In reality, over the last forty years, no new evidence of any kind has been brought forth to change the Bible’s clear condemnation of homosexual practice – not linguistically, archeologically, textually, historically, or contextually – and yet we are supposed to throw out what God’s Word states simply because our society has changed. This is exercising proper faith? It is actually working against true faith.
Second, they wrongly compare the misuse of the Bible in the past to hurt and persecute others with the right use of the Bible to uphold sexual morality and family stability. And they forget that while the Bible does, as stated, categorically condemn homosexual practice whenever it is mentioned, the Bible never says a negative word about people of color (some of whom apparently played an important role in biblical history), and it has much good to say about women and their role in the Church and the society. Where then is the comparison?
Third, they claim that “both science and common sense” establish the innateness and immutability of “a person’s sexual orientation,” whereas science has absolutely not determined that anyone is born gay and many of us personally know former-homosexuals (with science confirming their existence as well). Moreover, the whole argument that alleged innateness and immutability somehow justify behavior breaks down the moment we mention the forbidden subject of pedophilia, since the pedophile makes the identical claim about being born that way and being unable to change. To be perfectly clear, I’m not equating pedophilia with homosexuality. But I am pointing out the obvious: If we are to accept the one behavior based solely on alleged innateness and immutability, then how can we reject the other behavior, based solely on that same criteria?
And to think: Those making these self-evidently flimsy and false arguments are doing so in the name of true religion, branding those holding to the words of Scripture as misguided bigots. If ever light was being called darkness and darkness called light, it is here.
We welcome Gold, Comer, and the LGBT movement’s desire to address the “big pink elephant in the room.” We are hopeful the attention will work to refine our motives and sensitize us to the struggles of so many. We cannot change truth however. God really does have a better way.
Note: Given the breadth of Comer’s response, I’ll look at the bulk of his points in a followup article dedicated to that purpose.
Update: Martin Ssempa provided some in depth analysis of the show on his blog here.
The interview with controversial Ugandan Pastor Martin Ssempa on the “Anti-Homosexuality” bill is available here: http://lineoffireradio.askdrbrown.org/2010/03/11/march-11-2010/. Various gay activists were invited to participate in the discussion, but declined. Jim Burroway, one of the individuals that declined, had this to say about Ssempa:
There is a reason we don’t take the word of liars like Martin Ssempa at face value. The man of “the Word” willfully misrepresents the very words of the “Kill the Gays Bill” — yes, I said it again — and what they really mean. That’s why we have the full text of the bill posted here (PDF: 847KB/16 pages), straight from the official governmental Uganda Gazette in which all bills are published before being voted on. We posted the full text of the bill for a very simple reason — so that you can see for yourself exactly what the bill says.
Ssempa, on the other hand, is too cowardly to post the text of the bill on any of his web sites. And the truth is he can’t, because if he did those very words would show Ssempa’s followers exactly what a compulsive liar he really is. He cannot post the bill, and he desperately hopes that nobody else reads it to learn what it actually says.
“Liar”? “Cowardly”? “Compulsive liar”? Listen to the interview below, and decide for yourself if Ssempa is indeed all of these things.
A Ugandan Pastor named Martin Ssempa will be appearing on Dr. Michael Brown’s live radio program, The Line of Fire, on Thursday, March 11th, from 3:00-4:00 PM, EST, discussing the Ugandan ‘anti-homosexuality’ bill. Dr. Brown will be taking calls during the program at 866-348-7884. Listeners will be able to listen live online by clicking HERE. The program will be available to download shortly after it airs.
Last year, Harry Knox, Director of the Religion and Faith Program at the Human Rights Campaign, was appointed to President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and subsequently drew criticism from Catholics for referring to the Pope and some Catholic bishops as “discredited leaders.” Below is a debate Dr. Brown had with him in 2008.
Controversial filmmaker Molotov Mitchell (often featured on WorldNetDaily) recently released a video entitled “Uganda is right, Rick Warren is Wrong” concerning Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill which would criminalize homosexuality, allowing for the death penalty in certain situations.
The video certainly contains some food for thought and some important American and Ugandan historical information, but one section gave me particular pause. At the 35 second mark, Mitchell states:
According to the Bible, God created the death penalty, not man. And it was God who determined what crimes deserved it.
So unless there’s some passage in scripture that I have missed where Jesus said “I have come to abolish the law,” then Ugandans are right, and Rick Warren is wrong.
During this segment, he displays a reference to Leviticus 20:13 which states:
If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.
Mitchell, then, is claiming that since Jesus did not come to “abolish the law,” then the Old Testament law that requires the death penalty for those caught engaging in homosexual acts should be enforced in obedience to God. Thus, “Uganda is right, and Rick Warren is wrong.”
It is true that Jesus did not come to abolish the Old Testament law, as Michael Brown has stated in response to the Anti-Missionary claim that “Jesus abolished the Law”:
“As Messiah, Yeshua was the ultimate Torah teacher, showing us how the entire Hebrew Bible reached fulfillment in him and also giving us deep spiritual insights into how the Torah could remain relevant for the Jewish people in generations to come, even when we would be scattered throughout the world, without a Temple, a sacrificial system, or a functioning (earthly) priesthood…”
– Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: Volume 4
Does this mean, however, that all nations are bound to issue the laws of capital punishment given to Israel through Moses? If so, when governments refuse to carry out the judgments required in the Old Testament, are Christians required to perform them in their stead? (Gay activist sites have been concerned about this very thing, stating “This is what incitement to violence looks like” and “It’s this nation’s conservative movement, who must condemn this kind of behavior wholly and loudly before someone’s literal blood permanently stains their movement!”)
In the video, Mitchell seems to be quite at ease with this conclusion. But if we are required to put homosexuals to death for the OT laws they have broken, then are we not also required to put adulterers, Sabbath breakers, and rebellious teenagers to death? All of these are capital offenses according to the Old Testament. Does Mitchell really want to go in this direction? (Would Mitchell himself be alive under such a regime?)
As Frank Turek has pointed out, governments have three choices when it comes to legislating a behavior. They can prohibit it, permit it or promote it. Serving as salt and light in the places in which we reside as believers in Jesus, we stand firmly against governmental promotion of homosexuality, adultery, and other behaviors that are detrimental to society. Reasonable minds can disagree as to whether detrimental behaviors should be permitted or prohibited (take the use of alcohol and drugs for instance), and reasonable minds can also disagree with regard to which (if any) behaviors should require the death penalty (for example, first degree murder). The idea however that governments (and perhaps even individual Christians) are required to put homosexuals to death because God required it of ancient Israel, and, after all, Jesus did not come to “abolish the law,” is one that, if it is followed through consistently, would result in either a theocratic state consisting of very few people (imagine loading everyone that has worked on a Saturday into trucks and hauling them off to the electric chair) or a chaotic Christian killing spree (is this at all consistent with the model put forth in the New Testament of Jesus and the early Church?)
Such scenarios are, of course, completely ludicrous, and that is the point. It is true that Colonial America criminalized homosexuality, but they also criminalized adultery and sex outside of wedlock. How many conservatives would hold up to such requirements today? (Need I mention the number of conservative politicians that have failed in this area? Should they be put to death?) Gay activists often unfairly accuse believers in Jesus of “cherry-picking” Bible verses to suit their needs, using scripture as a “prop behind which to hide their bigotry.” I’m afraid statements like the ones made in this video regarding the application of Old Testament law must come from either a place of ignorance (perhaps he had not fully thought through his argument before making it) or as a direct fulfillment of these very accusations. One thing is clear, the scriptures are not to be used in some cavalier fashion, as if we were free to use these precious divine words to attack others and justify ourselves as we please. In the end, “in the same way [we] judge others, [we ourselves] will be judged, and with the measure [we] use, it will be measured to [us].” Let us therefore judge rightly… resisting the homosexual agenda with courage, and reaching out to the homosexual community with compassion.