Post-Ex-Gay

I am officially no longer ex-gay identified.

Now, before anyone starts either panicking or dancing in the streets, let me say that nothing has really changed. My lifestyle, my loves, my convictions, my feelings, my views, are all pretty much where they were when I left off. I just finally realized that I haven’t been much of an ex-gay for a while now. (Which, yes, some of you have been trying to tell me for years.)

For those who are wondering why I ever snuggled up to the word in the first place, well, it did some things I needed it to do back in the day. After my religious conversion, I felt exiled from gaydom, very dyke-without-a-country, afflicted with a ridiculous traitor-guilt complex. (What a crippling loss for the gays! How will they ever get by?) I craved a new tribe to latch onto, and the ex-gays were there for me! Also, they were the folks who had been primarily responsible for bringing me to Jesus, and the folks I imprinted on as a young believer trying to figure out what it meant to walk with God, so it made sense that I would see myself as becoming one of them. And “ex-gay” allowed me to get a little emotional distance from “gay” without having to be normal. (Celibacy I could accept. Assimilation never!)

When I was going through some really difficult seasons of struggle, which was most of the time during the early years, the hardness and combativeness of “ex-gay” both reflected and reaffirmed my resolve to stay faithful to my convictions and the path that I believed most honored God, and my efforts to intentionally reject and disown “gay identity.” (No, I haven’t forgotten the series. Yep, I know I need to finish it.) Using the label “ex-gay” was my way of trying to be tough about what I was leaving behind: “Screw you, gayness! I never really liked you anyway!” And what to do about girls and my feelings for girls was, for better or worse, an issue which dominated my thought and life for years. It was my battle. “Ex-gay,” I think, did a good job of describing that. Whether or not the issue should have dominated my life so is a trickier question to answer.

I never ever thought the word meant “straight.” When a friend asked me shortly after my religious conversion what an “ex-gay” was, I replied, “Oh, that’s what evangelicals call their gay people.” It never occurred to me to consider it misleading. The self-identified ex-gays I knew were all over the map on how much attraction change they claimed to have experienced, and for the most part they all seemed honest (and obvious!) about where they were at, at least in private conversation.

I’m still unconvinced that the word is inherently deceptive. From what I’ve seen, when someone hears it for the first time, they don’t assume it means “purely heterosexual;” rather, they look puzzled and ask you what it means. In all my time blogging as an alleged so-called “ex-gay,” I’ve only had one woman mistake me for a “heterosexual,” and I wrote to her right away to clear things up, because we can’t have people thinking that!   In general, I believe that presenting ourselves and our lives with honesty and integrity and faithfulness is what matters, and I feel I’ve more or less successfully managed to do that on this blog, even though it has been infected with the dreaded “ex-gay” label for quite some time.

(There’s an interesting parallel here with evangelical hang-ups over ssa conservative Christians who have renounced homosexual sex and relationships who nevertheless call themselves “gay.” As I’ve said before, there may be issues with at least some forms of gay identity for the repentant believer. But throwing hissy fits because someone has dared to describe themselves as “gay” is missing the point completely. You have to ask what the person means; you have to discern what is going in their minds, hearts, and lives.)

Why did I stick with “ex-gay” for so many years, even as I became keenly aware of its limitations?

For a while I did it precisely because I was frustrated with and embarrassed by a lot of the stuff going on in the ex-gay movement. It seemed like a useful exercise in humility, a way of clobbering my ever-burgeoning intellectual arrogance, to force myself to identify with folks who were driving me nuts with the sorts of things they were saying and doing. Along similar lines, I kept calling myself ex-gay (at least in the blogosphere) because I didn’t want to be a coward who ran from the movement as it became increasingly scorned, pitied, and reviled. It is better for my soul for me to be counted with the unpopular, with the losers, with the fools. (Side note:  I highly recommend this Catholic prayer!) And I kept it up in part because of my dislike of the trend where more and more ex-gays insist on abandoning not only the “ex-gay” label but apparently all descriptive words for talking about our sexuality. “I’m not ex-gay, I’m not gay, I’m not straight, I’m not bisexual. I’m just me!” Or “…I’m just a child of God!” Look, I appreciate that we’re all infinitely complex and unique little snowflakes who can’t be reduced to any one label, and I appreciate that for the believer our identity in Christ is the most important thing, but I’m not cool with forsaking the use of adjectives to describe ourselves and the facts of our lives. I don’t think that’s a viable way forward.  Being a faithful Christian cannot mean that we must refuse to discuss or name any other aspect of our lives.  And honestly, I feel that this is what the anti-labelling movement among ex-gays often amounts to.  It means making coy allusions to the “possibility of being tempted again someday” and to the fact that we will “never be as though we never were.”  (And yeah I know some people argue that our same-sex attractions are irrelevant and that talking about them and answering questions about them is making too much of a concession to the world’s and the gay activists’ priorities.  But isn’t keeping silent about our same-sex attractions sometimes making too much of a concession to straight ‘phobes in the church, who want us at least to give them the freedom (by our silence) to imagine us as fully heterosexual, even if we can’t manage to actually be fully heterosexual for them?)

And I guess I also stuck with “ex-gay” because I didn’t have an alternative I preferred.

Peter Ould has been trying to introduce his concept of “post-gay” as a replacement for “ex-gay,” the fundamental idea (I think) being that we should not think of ourselves in terms of gay or straight, that we should not let ourselves or our lives or our walks with God be defined by those “un-Biblical” categories. Also, he sees “post-gay” as putting more emphasis on direction rather than position: what matters isn’t one’s precise location on the Kinsey scale, but which way one’s journey is headed. As he puts it, “I’m post-gay because I chose to leave “gay” behind. I chose to no longer accept “gay” as an explanation of who I was and instead to begin a journey away from it.” (I believe commenter “Eddy” on Warren Throckmorton’s blog has on several occasions defended a similarly directional understanding of “ex-gay,” but I don’t have a link at the moment.)  There’s some helpful stuff there, but I’m not completely sold–another post for another day. In any case, my big problem with “post-gay” is that I learned an older definition first, many years ago as a young dyke. So when I hear “post-gay,” I instinctively think of someone who doesn’t want to be burdened with gay sensibility and culture, but plans to keep on having homosexual sex. Which, if you think about it, is pretty much the opposite of an ex-gay: Camp is all we’ve got left!

As I’ve said before, “bisexual” is fine in many contexts, and I use it in those contexts, but I often found myself wanting a word that hinted at more of my story. The thing is, either I didn’t become bisexually-attracted until around my 26th birthday, or I was so stupid that I didn’t realize I was bisexually-attracted until around my 26th birthday. I had tried to find some feelings for the other half of the species on several occasions before: first as a teenager, in order to try to appease my mom and get my peers to leave me alone a little (after years of getting kicked around for being such a queer), and later as a young twenty-something evangelical convert, in order to see if I had any chance of escaping the doom of celibacy. All efforts failed dismally. So my early ex-gay years were as frustrating and scary as anybody’s, and have shaped my life, my perspectives, and my attitudes in ways which are relevant to my writing here. For example, if I had been more bisexual at the time of my conversion, and thus had an easier transition and a more hopeful attitude about the whole business, I think I would be much more pro-ex-gay than I am today, and have much less empathy with the celibate queer crowd and the former ex-gay crowd.

Some folks like “people with unwanted homosexual attractions” or some variation on that. But the thing is, I’m not sure that I “unwant” my homosexual attractions. At least, I doubt that’s a helpful way to think about it. We normally call things “unwanted” that we can at least in principle do something about. Things we can intentionally get rid of, or at least reduce significantly. Unwanted gifts, unwanted pets, unwanted pregnancies, etc. I guess I don’t think that homosexual attractions really belong with these. It’s not that we have to want them or ought to want them, it’s just that it’s not terribly helpful to dwell on whether we want them or not.

So yeah, no great ideas for a replacement.  (I have a soft spot in my heart for “failed homosexual,” but don’t really see it catching on.)  But I need to ditch “ex-gay” anyway. It just feels wrong.

Partly it’s because of an inevitable lifestyle shift and a resulting shift in spiritual focus. Gay/ex-gay stuff just isn’t my battle any more. Yes, I’m “still” attracted to women, though to be honest, what with chasing a 17 month old around all day and the nausea and exhaustion which come along with another on the way (19 weeks), I have lots of days when I feel pretty much post-sexual. But even when things are more libidinally lively, ssa just isn’t that big a deal. In fact, it’s not a deal at all. I have the utmost respect those folks who talk frankly about lifelong struggle and a need for daily prayer about this stuff, but that’s just not where I’m at. I like some girls, I like some guys, and I’m in love with my man. So the warrior-toughness of “ex-gay,” which was a big part of my motive for adopting the label in the first place, seems irrelevant now.

I’ve had people chide me for this, perhaps rightly so, but I don’t really have much interest in eradicating or diminishing my homosexual attractions. Maybe if I were radiantly holy, and the only thing that was even slightly questionable about my soul was my lingering love for the ladies. But you know, I’m not really all that sanctified. I have huge spiritual struggles with pride, greed, unrighteous anger, sloth, “fear of man,” selfishness, etc. And all of those, unlike my ssa, are a daily threat to my walking in faithfulness and obedience to God, to my enjoying close fellowship with Him, to my growing in faith. So honestly, I can’t really be bothered with growing into full heterosexual maturity and wholeness or whatever given that I’ve got all those to deal with.

But the biggest reason for ditching “ex-gay” is that my blogging journey has led me to a place of deepening alienation and confusion with respect to the broader ex-gay movement, what I have sometimes called the ex-gay mainstream, including but certainly not limited to Exodus and its referral ministries.  (I’m not suggesting that they all march in lockstep, I know there’s diversity there.  The general feel of the “movement” is what I’m talking about.)

There are two aspects to this alienation.  The first is that my dissenting views have become more fleshed out and solid.  So, for example, I think I’ve always been uncomfortable about the developmental theories and how they are used/administered in ex-gay ministry.  I’ve always thought that ex-gay involvement in the culture war and in efforts to oppose gay-rights measures was a bad idea.  And I’ve long been troubled by a tension I sense between the pursuit of healing for ssa on the one hand and the pursuit of discipleship and Christian maturity on the other.  (Of course true healing of one’s real wounds is not incompatible with discipleship and Christian growth!  But I worry that the efforts and approaches that ex-gay ministries advocate in the “healing” area may hinder and sabotage their efforts in the “discipleship” area.  My own journey had me leaving ex-gay ministry to put myself in a non-ex-gay Christian residential program in order to find meaningful growth as a believer.)  But before my blogging, my stances on these matters were relatively fuzzy, because I hadn’t taken the time to think about them.  Over these years of trying to work out my views and share them with others, these vague discomforts and worries have crystallized into strong convictions.  And this has made my sense that I don’t fit in with other ex-gays much more acute.  Whereas before my joining an ex-gay group or attending an ex-gay conference would have been fundamentally a happy and comfortable event tainted by a little awkwardness and conflict, now it would be mostly uncomfortable and perhaps even painful for me, mitigated by some sense of commonality of experience and faith.  It would not be fellowship; it would be dialogue.

The second and more serious aspect of my alienation from the ex-gay world…sigh.

I’ve written and rewritten this section of the post many times, trying to find a way to articulate my thoughts that is both charitable and gracious and gentle and yet honest about what I’m seeing and feeling.  I haven’t figured it out yet.

But maybe I can say this:  There’s a sense in which the sorts of disagreements I mention above were/are a relatively small problem.   I could understand where the ex-gays stood on those matters, and why. I could see how given their experiences and perspectives and personalities, they could arrive at the positions they did while still being fundamentally decent people and sincere lovers of Jesus.  Sure, I noticed that there were often errors in their beliefs and reasoning, and that they often put their trust in sources that didn’t deserve it, and that they were sometimes too hesitant to question things that obviously should be questioned, and that their brains would sometimes short out if someone got too close to threatening one of their sacred cows.    But these are simply intellectual foibles which afflict all of us.  I’m sure others can spot plenty of places where I am guilty of them.  Our differences didn’t used to strike me as a difference of heart.

So maybe the safest way to phrase my concern here is that I just don’t feel I understand the heart or values of Exodus any more.  I once believed that we shared the same heart, that we cared about the same things, that we cherished and pursued the same virtues, in spite of all our disagreements.  I felt that our fundamental goals were the same, even if we had some different ideas about the best ways to reach them.  That’s why I could say in my old and horrifically-out-of-date “About Me” page that I saw myself as “pro-ex-gay in the deepest, truest, and purest sense.”  Now…I just have no idea.  Sometimes I find the things they say and do so baffling that I can’t come up with a charitable interpretation.  The fault may well lie in my own lack of comprehension rather than in Exodus, but the end result is still the same:  alienation.  The confusion lamented in this post has only grown more intense.

Which brings me to the last reason for my decision to move past “ex-gay”:  I’ve found new community for thinking about these issues through this and other blogs. Yay!  I’ve encountered all these awesome gay/ssa folk who more or less share my religious convictions about homosexuality but mostly situate themselves outside of the ex-gay movement. And these are the people that especially interest me–that’s where the cool stuff is happening! These are the folks I want to think through and talk through and wrestle through these issues with.   I don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye with them all on everything, but I feel like we see the same problems and are asking the same sorts of questions.  And this is a very exciting and happy thing for me, which is why I am ending my list of reasons with it.  For so many years I felt like a minority of one, maybe sometimes part of a minority of two or three.  But mostly folks just looked at me kinda crazy when I tried to articulate my views and concerns, or worse, patronizingly assured me that I would understand someday when I had progressed further in my healing.  Now I know that while I may be wrong, I’m not crazy.  And if I’m not healed, well, I like the company I’m in!

(Gay-affirming friends and readers, please do not feel neglected by the above paragraph.  You know I love you and delight in your presence, real and/or virtual.  It’s just that I always knew that you were out there.  It was an enormous and wonderful surprise to discover that so many other people like me with my convictions exist.)

********

So where does all this leave me? Well, I don’t think I’ll be able to completely abstain from using the word “ex-gay”. It still is the most widely known expression for referring to people like me or to the issues I talk about here, and it’s certainly the easiest shorthand.  And it brings home the Google bacon, or at least it used to back when I updated this blog monthly instead of yearly. But consider this the beginning of a deliberate move away from it when possible.

This also means that I have to redo the About Me page, which is now a complete wince-fest for me anyway , given all the different ways in which my perspective has evolved.

And now I will get to work on another post.

41 Responses to Post-Ex-Gay

  1. Samantha says:

    “I have a soft spot in my heart for “failed homosexual…”

    This made me giggle–it’s what I’ve been calling myself for a few years and I have a few friends who lovingly tease me about it. Probably it won’t catch on–still I like it very much.

  2. It is wonderful to hear from you again. Keep writing. Know that you are loved.

  3. Saul says:

    Finally!! Great to hear from you. Does this mean you’re becoming Catholic, or better yet, Orthodox?!!

    … joke.

  4. wow, amazing blog post. thanks for your honesty and openness.

  5. AM says:

    It’s been awhile since you have blogged, and I have read (obviously), but I have to say that this entry sounds like an exercise in hearing yourself think and talk. Sounds like you’ve moved on with life to a very different place that doesn’t have much of anything to do with homosexuality or gay issues.

    Wish you the best, but what you’re saying right now is not really relevant to anything that could be called gay.

  6. Samantha–That’s awesome that you like it too. This could be the beginning of a movement! :)

    Craig, Saul, Paul: Thanks. (Saul: Not yet. :) )

    AM: Best wishes to you as well. Even though homosexuality isn’t a big part of my daily life right now, I enjoy thinking about and trying to work through issues (sometimes personal, sometimes bigger than personal) that seem to me to be connected to gay/ex-gay stuff.

  7. Brandon says:

    I was beginning to think we’d maybe heard the last from you. :)

    I can understand your feelings about Exodus and the whole ex-gay movement. I’ve thought pretty much the same things as you have.

    About titles, I think “Failed Homosexual” isn’t too bad, actually. I’ve been thinking myself lately about going with “inactive gay Christian” or perhaps “celibate gay Christian”. It’s honest on either account, and I doubt anyone would have much confusion about what either meant–well, at least the second one. It means you’re not having sex, but you’re attracted to people of the same sex, and, oh yeah, you’re a Christian.

    Anyway, good to hear from you. :)

  8. Good to see you back. Though I’ll understand, with the toddler and the baby on the way, if you’re still not up to blogging a lot.

    That Catholic prayer that you linked to is just the prayer I could use right now. And I can totally relate to “But you know, I’m not really all that sanctified. I have huge spiritual struggles with pride, greed, unrighteous anger, sloth, “fear of man,” selfishness, etc.” For me, I have some spiritual struggles that relate to my sexuality, but I don’t think they’re the ones that lead me to do the most hurtful things (after all, whatever my sexual thoughts, I’m faithful to Joel, and I can’t speak as well for how I discipline other parts of my life).

  9. Karen K says:

    hey girl, i clicked on your blog on the remote chance you might have written something, and i wasn’t disappointed! i resonate with your post. i have been thinking about the ex-gay label for awhile and wishing there was something different. post-gay felt too contrived, like it was trying too hard and it seemed it would too easily, in time, simply take on the same baggage as ex-gay. but i haven’t found a good alternative. i still use ex-gay as shorthand. though i am trying to eliminate it more from my usage. i tend to just say gay christian and then reference whether affirming or celibate etc. i have just gone back to basic dictionary definitions and what most people understand and gay is the term used to describe predominate attractions to the same-sex.
    i have changed my mind about labels so many times over the years, cycling through what fits.

    anyway, it is so good to hear something from you. i had been thinking about you and wondering how things were going with the pregnancy and all.

  10. Emma says:

    YEAH! SO glad that you’re back!!! I actually just sent a link to your blog to an good friend who is leaning the “let’s be christian AND gay” route, and i told her that “this blogger helped my spiritual/sexual journey a lot… but she doesn’t blog any more… but her old stuff is pretty sick…”

    and now there’s new stuff!!!

    SO glad!

    plus, been worrying over this info myself because unfortunately, i’ve had to come to the uncool conclusion that i’m not actually as gay as perhaps i hoped, and that my struggle will not be as epic, because i think that i’m rather more straight-out bisexual than anything else. i feel that this unhappy fact diminishes my testimony as one who has “given up women.” so all my worries and strivings to find an appropriate term has sort of flopped.

    there IS good news, however! as much as i am attracted equally to men and women, i still seem entirely unable to form any kind of friendship, let alone intimate relationship, with men. so perhaps i have a real problem, after all. we’ll see.

    ANYWAY, so, so glad that you’re back and I can’t wait to see where your thinking leads this time.

  11. Eve Tushnet says:

    Hey! Awesome as always. “You’ll do what you want,” as my father wisely says, but I’d be esp. interested in what you DO see as the most fruitful avenues for developing Christian lives in a straight-v-gay culture.

    And… congratulations!

  12. Daemon says:

    Thank you so much for sharing again. I had missed reading your posts!

    I don’t have a label right now, having shed many of mine in the last few years…but I am ok with that?

    Look forward to interacting and communicating with all the great people that I have been meeting in, near and around here.

    Thanks Jay for the recommend!

  13. Joe says:

    I still like the idea behind the original version of post-gay – which was to ditch all labels and just say what you wanna say about your same-sex feelings. Of course, everyone will assume you are gay before they realise you are in fact post-ex-gay but hey, that’s their problem :)

    It’s great to have you back DM.

  14. Allan says:

    What a great post. The first time I have visited your blog (via Jay).
    Being a gay reformed presbyterian from Scotland (and someone who only became a Christian 18 months ago) i’ve always struggled with the terms ex-gay and SSA. They seem to me to be peculiarly American terms. I’m gay and although now a Christian who leads a celibate lifestyle, i personally find ex-gay a fantastical expression and SSA makes me think of the SAS. Why would someone want to refer to themselves as an abbreviation? Good to hear i’m not in my own really tiny minority!

  15. Miss Ogilvy says:

    DM,

    Yay for posting!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Re: redo-ing your “About Me” page, I think you should find some way to make it palimpsestic, a reflection of what you used to think as well as what you think now. It would be interesting and helpful for old and new readers alike to see a boiled-down version of how your thinking has changed.

    I’m interested in hearing a bit about those situations in which a shorthand like “ex-gay” is actually necessary for you. Who are the people who need such a shorthand from you? What kinds of conversations does such a term make easier?

    It seems like terminology flattens out and erases the really interesting messy details of our lives. What about just sharing your story and your present reflections on it whenever it’s relevant, and saying something allusive like “I have a super-complicated story re: same-sex attraction that I can tell you about later” whenever it would be easier to use shorthand instead?

    I hear you on the problem with “post-gay.” I think any use of the label should honor its origins (James Collard etc.) – otherwise it becomes an empty vessel into which we pour whatever we want, and at that point it’s unclear to me why one would pick post-gay over queer.

  16. wendy says:

    Yay you’re back! Not quite back myself – working on my first humdinger of a post though :)

    Thanks for your ongoing contribution (even if in infrequent posts) to the larger conversation.

    Big congrats on baby #2 – pace yourself as the exhaustion is only likely to increase.

  17. Brandon:

    Hey, thanks! Good to hear from you too! I dunno about “inactive.” In addition to possible confusion with the active/passive distinction, I worry that it makes our “inactive” condition sounds like a mere absence of activity, a dormant state which we’re about to erupt from at any time. While that might accurately describe some of us, I’m not sure it’s a helpful way to think of ourselves, or a helpful ideal.

    I like “celibate gay Christian” much better because “celibate” has a connotation of positive commitment and conviction about it. It’s not just that you’re sitting on the sidelines at the moment! Of course *then* we run into the trouble of confusion with traditions of vowed celibacy. Our attitude toward singleness/celibacy isn’t quite like the average Christian single’s attitude towards it, where it’s just a temporary rest stop on the road to almost-certain marital bliss. But neither are we true vowed celibates–if the opportunity for a good hetero marriage arrives, we tend to go for it, with no moral hesitation.

    Lynn:

    Thanks for the welcome back. Yeah, it’s not that I don’t have any spiritual struggles with my sexuality at all…it’s just that they seem very minor now in comparison with that other stuff. And in comparison to what they used to be. I mean, back in the day, well before I started this blog, there was a season when I wrestled daily with whether or not I was going to ditch God on account of my sexuality. So back then focusing on sexuality issues made sense. Now, not so much.

    Karen:

    Yeah, I think I’m just going to move away from the labels myself as much as possible. I mean, that’s what I’ve been doing in real life forever, or at least since Mr. DM came along and “dyke” just didn’t quite cut it any more.

    I think I’ve just held out this long in the blogosphere as a kind of personal protest against certain individuals and organizations making superficial changes in how they label without making meaningful changes in how they think or operate. :)

    ******

    okay, more comment replies tomorrow. eyelids drooping.

  18. [...] [Disputed Mutability, via Eve Tushnet]   [...]

  19. Emma:

    Hey, thanks for commenting! (finally?)

    unfortunately, i’ve had to come to the uncool conclusion that i’m not actually as gay as perhaps i hoped, and that my struggle will not be as epic,

    Oh honey, I feel your pain. I once dreamed of being epic. Or at least tragic.

    Eve:

    I’d be esp. interested in what you DO see as the most fruitful avenues for developing Christian lives in a straight-v-gay culture.

    For you, anything. I think I might have a few more bowls of wrath to pour out on the earth first, though. (I just gotta get some of this stuff out of my system!)

    Daemon: Thanks for the encouragement. I’ve just added your blog to my reader. It’s exciting, all the voices out there.

    Joe: Oh yay you are still around! This pleases me greatly. :) I dunno, I don’t think I’m mature enough to want to be *really* post-gay yet.

  20. Grace says:

    Heterosexually challenged! How’z that sound?? (Hey, I tied.) :)

    Wow this is a really complex issue. But I think we need to get our heads out of it and go to God—that’s what I always say; although I’ll admit it’s very hard to convince people to do it.

    I guess we all already know that if we deny we have sin we deceive ourselves; but can’t we see that God’s Word already gives us the answer as to whether or not we, as homosexuality dis-affirming Christians, are to identify as gay in the first place.

    Folks, this is not something we need to devise an answer for. God has already given it to us.

    We don’t reeeaaally want label’s…but we’re completely lost without them. Maybe the real difficulty is that we’ve removed homosexuality out of the sin category; but not lying, adultery, fornication, pedophilia, bestiality, etc.

    Hmmm. Homosexuality isn’t sin, it’s not a physical illness, disease, or syndrome (so far anyway).

    It’s not genetic…but then again it “might” be. Newsflash: ALL sinful desire is rooted in physiology.

    But wait…if we just refer to being gay as “attractions” (veeery clever, adversary)…we can simply attribute it to a mysterious force beyond our powers. Cuz now we’re talking physics–stuff like coercive force, equality and inseperability of poles, flux, gradients, gaussmeters, etc. Ack!!! Mental overload!

    OK so, homosexuality is not an allergy…then again maybe we’re allergic to the opposite sex huh? (Is there a scratch test for that?) Could it be some form of malnutrition, or a vitamin deficiency?

    Estrogen-like chemicals from plastics, pharmaceuticals, and birth control hormones seeping into our waterways would be worth considering; if homosexuality hadn’t been around so long, that is.

    It’s probably developmental (we all know that) give or take, and it definitely operates primarily through psychological means (that’s in the brain right?)…but then, no one has control over it to effect change.

    No wait…sorry, we CAN actually control our “behavior”—but the buck stops at having any ablility to control our “desires” for that behavior. (Yup, there’s a distinct difference.)

    I almost left something out… maybe it’s a disorder, or mental illness! (Define that please.) Ahhh…then, hey, I guess everything else is these days too.

    I marvel. I honestly do. How can we hope to label things if we have no clue what they even are?

  21. Allan:

    Hi! Great to see a reformed guy, and a convert! I agree with you about the weirdness of SSA, but I do find it sometimes valuable (when used carefully) as sort of a least-offensive alternative when speaking among Christians. I don’t want to go after people (in my opinion without Biblical warrant) for calling themselves gay, but neither do I want to shove it down their throats, especially if their conscience is uncomfortable with it.

    Miss Ogilvy:

    My thought had been to “archive” the old “About Me” in a regular post, and offer a link to it from the new “About Me.” Not sure if that’s quite palimpsestic enough? I don’t believe in memory-holing, but at the same time I don’t want to confine myself to interjecting and footnoting what I used to be. I’ve been thinking about doing the new one more like a FAQ, now that I’ve been around long enough to know what questions get asked. :)

    I don’t think I’ve used “ex-gay” as shorthand for personal identification in real life since ’98 or ’99…the first year or two of my conversion. I’ve mostly just used it online around folks who are familiar with these issues, where it does seem convenient. I agree with you about the flattening tendencies of terminology though. Just prone to laziness sometimes. :) And in online conversation

    But even though I talked about ease of shorthand, I think the bigger motivations have been some of the others discussed above…puzzles of loyalty and community and liminality. Where do I situate myself as a critic of the ex-gay movement–inside or out? Am I a clear-eyed foreigner, a jilted lover, or a wayward child?

    “Queer” is lovely, isn’t it?

    Wendy:

    Hey, great to hear from you. Looking forward to the humdinger!

    Grace:

    “Heterosexually challenged” does have quite the ring to it. :)

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I don’t think I know you well enough to parse all the (apparent) rhetorical questions and irony (and snarkiness?) in your post, so you’ll have to forgive any boneheaded errors of interpretation.

    I’m not interested in the origins of homosexual attraction/orientation at all, though I’m puzzled by your parenthetical remark that “we all know that” it’s probably developmental. (Uh, I don’t think I know that?) I don’t find secular “illness” models helpful at all either, as I’ve discussed elsewhere.

    You seem to think it’s obvious that those of who believe that homosexual sex is sin should not use the word gay in reference to ourselves under any circumstances. It’s not obvious to me, in our present context, so I’d be interested in hearing more of your reasoning here. What is the answer you believe God has given us? (References to Scripture obviously appreciated.)

    You talk about the deceptiveness of the adversary with talk about “attractions”. I’m not sure I agree. Obviously in trying to sort out what’s going on in our feelings and hearts is a tricky business. But in my limited, fallible understanding…hopefully gradually being improved by the Word and the Spirit…I believe that homosexuality can encompass a whole spectrum of mind/heart activities (in addition to the obvious physical/relational acts), some of which are clearly sinful and can clearly be changed (regardless of whether the developmental theories of causation and treatment of homosexuality are accurate!) and some of which I am honestly less sure about.

    I believe that all homosexual inclination is a product of the Fall and thus a flaw, an infirmity, a fallen thing, not what God designed. In this sense I do not believe that homosexual attractions are neutral or just fine and dandy, as some do. However, I am not yet convinced that we have any reliable method for altering the direction of the underlying inclination, and so I am wary of ascribing moral guilt and responsibility for that and call it sin.

    What we undoubtedly do have responsibility and control over is how we conduct our mental and emotional lives. We ought not to indulge ourselves in lust. We ought to avoid situations and activities that we know will inflame our lust. We ought to be training our minds to dwell on better things. We ought to be training our eyes not to “feast” in a sinful way. We ought to be prayerfully striving to see others through a lens of agape, as Jesus would see them. We ought to give up our selfish obsessions with our own desires and needs. We ought to submit our daydreams and wishes to God. We ought to forsake all the “Oh if I only I could…” rebellious paths of thinking. We ought to deny all rationalizations and self-justifications that lead us to coddle our sin “Oh, I’ve given up this and this and this for the Lord, surely He has to allow me this.” We ought to refrain from getting ourselves into relationship situations that we know are going to get carried away down the road even though “we’re not sinning YET.” Etc., etc. Where we fall short in these areas and many others, we are sinning.

    So I hope this makes clear that even though I don’t feel I have grounds for declaring the underlying attraction/orientation to be sin, that doesn’t mean I think anything goes in our thought-lives and heart-lives, or that I think that all change in our thought-lives and heart-lives is impossible! I know from experience (and I believe Scripture teaches this) that we can radically alter the force of our desires and the nature of our struggle by God’s grace and with appropriate spiritual discipline. When we strengthen our reverent fear of the Lord and our love of the Lord, when we allow our mind to be shaped by frequent prayer and meditation on His word, when we surround ourselves with earnest fellowship of believers striving for the same things, when we exercise a disciplined abstinence from the things which tend to weaken and compromise our obedience…our hearts change, our minds change, our desires change, our lives change. I’m just not sure that this change has much connection to the hetero-ness or homo-ness of our underlying sexuality.

    Anyway, sorry if any of that is too scatterbrained or incoherent or just plain wrong, but I gotta run for now. I know that there is a danger and a temptation for us to compromise with a gay-affirming way of looking at sexuality and ourselves and our walk with God…so that even though we proclaim that homosexual sex is sin, our thinking becomes double-minded and half-baked, weakening and undermining our faith and obedience. I think this is a real danger and a real risk…but I feel at times I am navigating a minefield of dangers and risks in writing about this stuff.

  22. Grace says:

    Hi Disputedmutability,

    As for the sarkiness… it’s all in good humor :), and the rhetorical questions and irony was to draw attention to the rationalizations we do make.

    You refer to the homosexual “inclination”; and it was very well stated in para. #7 of your reply that, “We undoubtedly do have responsibility and control…”

    You also asked for Bible verses supporting why we should not embrace a homosexual identity. While there are many, I’ll refer to a few that pop into my head and provide an explanation.

    “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” (Ephesians 5:3)

    It boils down to the question: Is this and other such verses referring to immoral “behavior” only or does it extend to that “inclination” of our thoughts and desires you spoke of?

    In 2 Corinthians 7:1, Paul tells us, “Therefore having these promises let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.”

    Since the gift holy spirit within us is has no filthiness, so we know that the word “spirit” is referring to our souls in relation to our character (thoughts of the heart).

    In one breath the Bible tells us that every man is a “liar” (Rom 3:4); but in another, that there should not be a hint of impurity among us. Think about this. It sounds like a contradiction.

    Certainly, God and the writers of scripture know full well that, innately, we ALL have an inclination toward ALL sin due to the fall. Remember, they are the ones who informed us of this in the first place, or we would have never have known. ;) Although, it is acknowleged that there are some sins that more easily beset us.

    So if we are all sinners anyway, we need to ask why they repeatedly tell to cleanse ourselves? After all, we know that we can’t make sin go away. Ephesians 5:3 tells us: But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not once be named among you as becomes saints.

    The above verses are telling us that we must not embrace or be named by sinful inclinations in any form.

    Again, scripture tells us in one breath that EVERY man is innately a liar (unclean), but then that it should not be named among us, and that we should cleanse ourselves from all filthiness. Is this a contradiction in the Word of God?

    Why does God tell us these things? Scripture also answers this for us many times over.

    Proverbs 27:19 tells us, “As in water face [reflects] face, So a man’s heart [reveals] the man.” And Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he,”

    God is telling us that thought produces thought. And that thought “ultimately” produces tangible results in some form—emotional, physical, or spiritual suffering. We know from scripture that it even impacts our quality (rewards or lack thereof) of life in the resurrection.

    Galatians 6:5 tells us that a man reaps what he sows. And I believe a wise person knows that their thoughts and actions impact not only their own lives, but in some way will extend to the lives of those in their sphere of influence.

    Which is why Paul tells us to cleanse ourselves of all uncleanness and that there must not be even a hint of impurity named among us.

    You questioned my reference to spiritual deception. In regards to that, I will note that while many Christians have the wisdom you demonstrated in paragraph 7 of your comments, many do not. I would also point out that both you and I still greatly lack wisdom, and that God’s ways are far above our ways.

    Referring to spiritual food Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:2, “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,”

    In 1 Corinthians 8:9 he says, ” Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block [sin] to the weak.”

    In Romans 14:20-21 he says, “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of [physical] food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

    I do understand people wanting to—and thinking they need—to find a word to describe the things they are experiencing. But we also must heed the wisdom God has outlined for us clearly in His Word. We do not need to identify as sinners in any form and God instructs us AGAINST this.

    We carefully need to weight whether or not using the term “gay” is really worth the long term or hidden effects it has on ourselves and others.

    Serious consideration must be given to the implications of ever doing this, for any sin, and even more so based on what is believed and propagated about homosexuality in our culture.

    The question of whether or not people actually can change is of course the subject of another discussion. But regardless of whether it’s possible or not, we see in scripture that we must cleanse ourselves of all of it, and further, we must not let it be named among us.

    Again, we have seen that this relates not only to behavior, but to all of our sinful inclinations (2 Corinthians 7:1). And you validated this in your comments.

    I will also note that, although they both are the result of the fall, God clearly differentiates between issues relating to sin and those relating to physical infirmities. Likewise, we should not place them into the same box (this happens often). Both are fruit, but we’re talking apples and oranges.

    As for the origins of homosexuality, I personally believe that, yes, it is very important and relevant that we understand. I would recommend that those who believe they don’t know what homosexuality is (aside from the effect it has on them) probably should not attempt to say what it is not.

    Regarding whether or not homosexuality is the result of developmental issues: I do not believe there are really any single determining factors for the causation of homosexuality, but that there are many “contributing” factors—to include physiological, psychological and spiritual. When we leave any of these factors out of the equation we miss the mark completely.

    Nothing occurs in a vacuum. The perfect storm is a culmination of many events leading to it. But I think we would be extremely naive not to recognize the powerful role that development plays in relation to ALL sinful inclinations at every stage of our lives.

    On that topic I would also place emphasis on the fact that we tend to greatly overlook the spiritual influences behind it.

    I also hope I did not come across too scatterbrained… :)

  23. Mendy says:

    As a Christian with little exposure to homosexuality, I must say that your blog has been most educational. Without any real research in this area, I have none the less been uncomfortable with most Conservative Christian responses to the gay movement… or just gay people in general. I appreciate your openness and just wanted to let you know that your blog has impacted my life in a very positive way. Thank You… and congrats on the new baby!

  24. sonia says:

    DM, it is delightful to hear from you again! This is a most thoughtful post, as always. For my part, I’ve continued with the “same gender attracted, celibate” description that sidesteps confusing meanings associated with other terms. Please keep us posted on the ushering-in of the second baby. His blessings to you and the entire DM household this Advent and always!

  25. Andrew says:

    I just stumbled across your blog tonight when I googled “ex-gay married”. I just want you to know I love it so far.

    I love this entry because I can relate in not knowing what to label yourself. I was never involved in the gay community (I’m 23), but I used to be exclusively attracted to men (I do now have some burgeoning attractions to women…). But I never considered myself gay. You see, If I’m gay, I’m the worst gay ever. I don’t dress gay, I don’t look gay, and I don’t talk gay (now, I DID recently take a job at Express, but I assure you it was only out of desperation). I hate attention, and out-and-proud gay men are kind of annoying to me (as is the entire gay community and gay rights movement). I know that makes me sound ignorant to some, but I always felt that there was a lot of illogical, angry rhetoric coming from the whole “gay rights movement” thing. (I also felt the same about a lot of the angry, anti-gay Christian movements as well).

    Anyway, I got really involved in Exodus (I went to conferences, was involved with local Exodus ministries etc.). I never knew how to label myself though. Ex-gay didn’t work since I had never considered myself gay. I tried to call myself ex-gay because Exodus was the first time I had ever met people who felt the same as I did. But, I had always considered myself straight whenever I would casually categorize myself in conversation or thoughts.

    Anyway, this is getting really long. I basically just never knew how to label myself. And I still don’t. But you know what’s cool? I don’t care anymore. I feel like I now identify myself with… myself and the story of my life God has given me.

    I know I want to go on to grad school, get married one day and move on with life. The fact that people say I’m not being “true to myself” annoys me less and less since there is nothing they can do about it. I know the kind of life I want to live, and I’m going to live it.

  26. Neo says:

    Hey! I’m one of those mythical bisexually attracted males and a fellow exgay/postgay/sideB (as I have been labeling it in my head recently) guy. I’ve been a Christian from a very young age, attracted to both sexes as long as I’ve had sexual attractions, and never been in a romantic or sexual relationship with anyone of either sex up to this point in my life. (In fact, unlike most guys I know, gay or straight, I’ve never used porn, either.) I expect I’ll end up married to a woman. (My theological views would have to change a lot for me to consider such a relationship with another guy.) I’ve been reading blogs about SSA and such since summer 2008 and had been familiar with yours, but had only read a few of the posts. I actually just went through all your archives (don’t worry, over the course of a few weeks, not in one sitting!) and have found myself saying “Amen!” to a lot of what you have to say. I was, however, a bit disappointed at the missing promised posts and unfinished WIFGI series. Anyway, I understand that life gets busy – I have actually thought about starting a blog, but at my current stage of life I am just too busy, and like you, I would probably tend to want to go through too much thinking and too many editing cycles on each post. Anyway, if you do have time to get around to more blogging, it will make me very happy!

    The very short version of the dealing with SSA part of my life is that I initially wanted to change my sexual orientation and only feel attracted to females, so I just wouldn’t have to deal with this and wouldn’t ever have to tell anyone. I never went through an ex-gay ministry, although I did do some counseling at the conservative Christian college in the Midwest from which I graduated last May. I also had a good experience learning to relate to other guys on my floor and to start seeing myself as more masculine than I had before. (That sounds like a standard “ex-gay” story, but it’s really not: I never had significant issues relating to my father growing up, although I did with peers early on, and my sexual feelings didn’t really change all that much from my experiences.) I eventually got to a point of realizing that my feelings weren’t changing, and given that I was already attracted to females, it wasn’t a big deal. My “ex-gay experience” (or whatever you want to call it) did teach me to overcome shame and did a lot of good things for me. If you want to know more and have time to read it, I discussed this with Jay on Karen’s blog: http://pursuegod.wordpress.com/2009/03/18/reparative-therapy-whats-your-opinion/

    The latest stage has been getting to know some awesome bloggers in “real life” (namely Jay and Karen, since I live in NC) and getting involved in learning to minister to people whose experiences aren’t exactly like mine. For instance, I’ve gotten involved in the Facebook group that Jeff S. helps facilitate for guys who deal with SSA but are theologically conservative.

    I don’t really know how to label myself, so I usually stick to descriptors when talking to people. There, my contribution to the direct topic of the post! ;-)

  27. [...] Mutability is the name of a post-ex-gay blogger who’s one of my favorites in the “trying to handle any gay and lesbian [...]

  28. Paul Douglas says:

    “I believe that all homosexual inclination is a product of the Fall and thus a flaw, an infirmity, a fallen thing, not what God designed. In this sense I do not believe that homosexual attractions are neutral or just fine and dandy, as some do.”
    I’m curious Disputed: when did this “Fall” supposedly take place? I mean in real time? If the planet is reliably dateable to about 4.5 billion years ago, with the first signs of multicellular life showing up in the fossil record 550 million years ago, when did this cataclysmic spiritual catastrophe occur? The earliest fossilized environments show that multicellular organisms were devouring other organisms, and that theme persists inexorably in the fossil record through the development of the fishes (Devonian- 400,000,000 years ago), ascendency of the dinosaurs (Mesozoic-250,000,000-165,000,000 years ago) and the proliferation of mammals (Cenozoic-65,000,000 years ago). The first fossil evidence of hominids we can identify as relatives pops up about 200,000 years ago (homo sapiens sapiens) and these fossilized remains show humans suffering disease and injury. Given the robust & well-documented fossil record, where does the “Fall” fit in the timeline? And what were the practical consequences of this “Fall”other than causing homosexuality that “fallen thing” that God supposedly “did not design”? Did this fall occur when the planet was first formed, when the first amphibians started living part-time on dry land, or when our ancestors moved from forest to savannah? And what other examples of flaws and infirmities occurred after this flaw? Would you be able to pinpoint in the geological record evidences of a “pre-Fall environment”? (I assume from your post that you take the Holocene as an example of a post-Fall environment). If I am sounding pedantic, it is because I read a breathtakingly enormous supposition in the statement you wrote prefaced with “I believe”, and I would like to challenge you to really consider the ramifications of what you are saying.
    Sincerely, Paul Douglas

  29. Emma says:

    Paul, I’d suggest looking around biologos.org for some of the opinions about the Fall and evolution. As a Christian and also as, hopefully, a scientifically interested soul, I find nothing incompatible with original sin, evolution, and a creator God.

    Seriously, some interesting things on this site if you’re willing to check it out. Even if not to convince yourself, at least you can get an idea of what those of us who affirm God and Original Sin, as well as affirm the science of evolution, believe about the compatibility of the two.

  30. Paul Douglas says:

    Hello Emma:
    Reminds me of young Mormon missionaries who, when they get questions which require any critical thinking, offer to refer you to the elders who “know the answer to that!”. I cannot imagine Disputed referring someone to an Exodus website because they asked a question that challenged her worldview about human sexuality. I have too much respect for the intelligence and personal integrity she consistently shows on her blog to not give her a chance to a formulate a response in her own words of what she believes and why, to my challenge. I know she is busy chasing a toddler and suffering from nausea so I will empathetically and patiently wait for her thoughts.
    Sincerely, Paul Douglas

    • Legien says:

      Paul,
      While certainly there are some mormon missionaries who have not thought through their positions thoroughly, I think this blanket statement goes too far. I would think that deference to someone with a deeper experiential base would be a good thing. Indeed, I think that a lack of deference is a bit scary. (To disclose, I was a Mormon missionary.) I didn’t always have the answer, and would often consult with others. That being said, any time you have questions of faith, there are going to be areas in which answers are not available. This is why faith is required. If the answers were there, we wouldn’t have to exercise our faith.
      There is simply insufficient data to make conclusive statements one way or the other. But then we should remember that a lack of evidence for something is not evidence of a lack of said something. This is why we continue to question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear. (borrowed from T.J.)

  31. Emma says:

    Ouch! Actually, I have thought really deeply about this issue and consider it sort of central to my faith and understanding of God. Lots of Christians disagree about the issue of original sin and evolution, and there is no “kosher” about what’s acceptable and what isn’t acceptable. In my questioning, I read a lot of books and I asked a lot of people for advice. I found this website interesting and informative. :-/ The reason I mentioned it was because this is a huge issue for me, and the website I mentioned gave me a lot of interesting things to think about. Guess that’s all I can offer! :-)

    On another note, I miss you, DM. :-( I also had a question – I’m starting to dig deeply into the question of homosexuality from a theological standpoint (instead of a cultural one, I guess) and I’m looking for good, smart, informative books from BOTH sides of this as I’m figuring it out. I’m worried that I’m getting more easily swayed by current popular church opinion (and who’s “cool” and who’s “not cool”) and, since it’s my life at stake and not just another philosophical conundrum, I think the issue deserves more consideration from me.

    I’ve combed your blog looking for reading material, but couldn’t find much – did you ever read any books on the question of homosexuality itself? I’m not looking for Exodus/Love in Action vs. Soulforce – more like different ways of reading/interpreting Scripture that are deeply theological and thoughtful without relying heavily on culture, catch phrases, or appeals to science or movies or whatever.

    Basically, on the hunt for truth on this. At least, a truth that I can know I’ve acquired honestly and with some effort, not the truth that I had placed on me passively (either from my upbringing – conservative – or my current relationships – liberal).

    And mostly, you should just keep writing cuz we all miss you deeply.

  32. Legien says:

    I think I love you. (don’t worry, nothing creepy, just a love for your writing and your intellectual prowess.)
    I’ve been working on my own blog about such things. I don’t know that I’ve come quite as far as you, but I do appreciate that there are others out there in similar boats. (yes, I enjoy mixing my metaphors.)
    I’d appreciate your thoughts on my thoughts, should you get a moment.

    http://penitance.wordpress.com/why

    Thanks,
    Legien

  33. Teresa says:

    Disputedmutability,

    Have you read the Catholic Catechism on the topic of homosexuality? I think it is the best spiritual direction for me, at least, as a ssa, celibate Christian. I think to dabble with the idea that a complex, objectively disordered condition, that developed beyond the control of the person in that developmental process is sinful in itself is very dangerous and harmful. Certainly, as you make clear, we are responsible for our response in our thoughts and in our deeds. We absolutely need to grow spiritually and respond to Our Lord in all areas of our life in ways pleasing to Him. How much altering or change will occur is ultimately up to the Lord. As Mother Theresa stated: “It’s not about being successful, only faithful”.

    It’s also good to remember the pre-1973 DSM definition of homosexuality: “a serious, psychosexual disorder”. This places us in the realm of better understanding for ourselves and others. We also must realize where we’re at on our spiritual journey. You have been blessed by God to allow a marriage with children (appears easier for women to move back and forth) so your natural inclination is to distance yourself in some manner (often unconsciously) from those of us unable to do so … this may not be true, my interpretation of this post (your initial post seems to indicate that you have many gay/ssa friends you are in contact with).

    Anyway, do you have any further comments about “our thinking becoming double-minded and half-baked”? As I resist my own near occasions of sin to same-sex attractions, I find myself isolated, lonely and without any support from any community. I am either reviled, scorned and considered demonically possessed, or I am dragged into a maelstrom of “do what you want”.

    Looking forward to your thoughts.

  34. Teresa says:

    Disputedmutability,

    The Catholic Group Courage has something that may be helpful for you in separating your thoughts on inclination vs. action.

    http://couragerc.net/FAQs.html

  35. Teresa says:

    Hey DM,

    I’ve just written a somewhat long post on the Courage website (Catholic homosexual ministry) on why we use the term SSA instead of homosexual, and why the emphasis on calling us ‘child of God’ when str8’s seldom refer to themselves as ‘child of God’ unless it’s in some catechism class. I think ssa is minimizing, trivializing, and somehow demeaning. However, I’m in no way dismissing that as a homosexual woman I need to live a chaste life and avoid circumstances that would arouse my attractions rather than avoid them.

    I’ve been tossing around the idea that maybe most ‘lesbians’ are really ‘bi’ but just haven’t found the right guy. Any thoughts about this?

  36. Okay, catching up with comments. Gonna start with 2010, just to give myself a chance. 2009 people, my apologies for falling off the face of the blogosphere as I am wont to do, email me if you want to discuss.

    Andrew:

    If you’re still around, I’m glad you like the blog so far. It’s always nice to hear from folks who are also in label limbo. We’re coming from very different places…I was a rather good gay, if I do say so myself, and I have a lot of affection for out-and-proud gay folk. For me, my sense of my queerness and my connection to that community have been things I’ve cherished deeply, which has left me kind of unnerved as my life drifts in a straight-ward direction. I might even be undergoing a slow-motion identity crisis of sorts, though being so busy with the babies keeps that from getting too heavy. But I can understand how someone else’s experience and journey might be different. I’m sure you’ve been nagged a thousand times about how you can be gay without dressing, looking, or talking a certain way, so I’ll spare you that. :)

    And I agree you ought not to feel pressured by other people’s expectations for your life, and that the “true to oneself” rhetoric can be overdone. You know your heart (as well as any human can) and you have to discern what you believe and what God’s plans are for you. Just…if/when you’re thinking about getting married, make sure you’re being true to your [prospective] wife as well as yourself.

    Neo:

    Thanks so much for sharing some of your story, especially via that link to Karen’s blog…I don’t know how I missed that thread. I seem to miss a lot of good conversations!

    Sorry about the dropped series and unfulfilled post-promises. It’s hard because this blog is such a place of processing for me that I often find my views and thoughts changing as I try to put posts together. I’m always rethinking stuff. I probably just need to learn to write and post faster, so I can freeze the idea in text before thinking better of it. And sometimes I have to jettison potential posts because I find I simply don’t have the charity to write them in a way that could honor God–this is what happened with the LWO series. Melissa Fryrear just made me sooooo mad!

    I’ll respond more via email. :)

  37. Paul:

    I think I went too far in that sentence you quoted (and probably would have thought so at the time if I had taken a moment to pause over it). I oscillate quite a bit on the how-to-view-homosexual-desire question, even as my understanding of what the Bible teaches and what God is calling us to when it comes to sexual activity remains fairly stable. Some days I’m very “Since gay sex is a sin, and homosexual desire therefore serves as a hindrance to our communion with and devotion to God, it must not be part of God’s creative intent, etc.” And some days I question that…wondering if my imagination just isn’t powerful enough, if there’s something I’m missing, if God intends to use it (and us) in ways I don’t fully understand, even if He doesn’t want it leading us into bed with members of the same sex, if there’s some special value from God’s perspective in a queer way of seeing the world. Not quite sure why I felt so firmly in the first camp when I wrote that.

    But your comment was more about the Fall generally, rather than homosexuality in particular. I don’t have a specific settled view of the Fall, though I’m aware of a range of interpretive options. I studied and pondered the issue for a while several years ago, but didn’t come to any conclusions. I guess I’m content with a considerable degree of mystery and unknownness here, in part because the doctrine resonates with things I sense about myself and humanity more generally (I like Francis Schaeffer’s image of “glorious ruins”). I do have my own philosophical perplexities and unanswered questions about it, but I guess I’m not so much concerned with the geological record in the way that you are. In response to your specific “challenge” questions, all I can say is that I see it as something primarily involving humans and having primarily moral/spiritual effects. (I don’t think the “no physical death until after the Fall” view is particularly plausible, even on strictly Biblical grounds.)

    In any case, I think could rephrase the main thrust of my words in context without appeal to the Fall at all. In response to Grace’s implicitly pushing what I took to be a false dilemma–either homosexual desires must be sin or homosexual acts must be good in God’s sight–I was claiming there were options between those two. I think we can see a desire as problematic, as one that should not be fulfilled (at least in the obvious ways) without insisting that a person is responsible for that desire or obligated to try to eradicate it, especially in a case where we don’t seem to have reliable methods for doing so available to us. This is the heart of my concern with this issue and perspectives like Grace’s. It seems to me both unwise and cruel to demand that people pursue a change which they cannot control (and which may well not happen of its own accord) and forbid them to accept in any way or make any peace whatsoever with a part of themselves they are likely never to be rid of. I have seen and heard so many hopeful ex-gays make foolish choices because they are “obediently” and “faithfully” expecting heterosexuality to arrive. (e.g., marrying someone they are not compatible with, refusing to do the hard work of developing a healthy sense of contentment and self-acceptance, delaying coming out to loved ones because “why bother them when I’m going to be over this soon?”)

    I cannot imagine Disputed referring someone to an Exodus website because they asked a question that challenged her worldview about human sexuality.

    Yeah, so…I wouldn’t refer someone to Exodus on a question of sexuality because I know I disagree with them. If I knew of resources which articulate a perspective I share, I’d refer without hesitation. I really don’t have a burning desire to reinvent the wheel. In any case, I’m clearly inferior to the Mormon missionaries (and Emma!), as I don’t even know where I’d send you on this topic. :)

    Emma:

    Thanks for the Biologos link…a lot of cool stuff, especially on the blog. I’d be interested in hearing more about how this issue has fit into your own faith. It’s been hard for me to get excited about it…but I know lots more people like you, so I suspect there’s something wrong with me. :)

    Regarding “the question of homosexuality from a theological standpoint”…this is going to sound more arrogant than I mean it to, but I’m not sure I’m in love with any of the books out there. Also, I haven’t seriously revisited the scholarly literature for like a decade or so, so all kinds of crazy things could be happening and I wouldn’t know about it. And the things that other people I know recommend, I haven’t actually read myself. (I haven’t even read Gagnon, whom it seems like everybody has read and considers a mixed bag but somewhat useful, because I kind of have a grudge against him. I went to a talk he was giving that was supposedly going to be on homosexuality and creation, and I seem to remember feeling like he spent most of the time just griping about gay activists and how persecuted he is. Which, I dunno, maybe he is, but that’s not what I went hoping to hear about. Anyway, I know that’s rather petty on my part, but every time I pick up his book, I just hear his bitching!) I liked Sexual Authenticity a lot better than Eve (scroll down to Mar. 5 if the link doesn’t work right–hers never do for me) did (posts forthcoming)…but it’s not really what you’re looking for, and it’s frightfully Catholic in any case. (But hey, maybe you’re frightfully Catholic.)

    In any case, I’ll look over my shelf and ask around and see if I can come up with something. I feel like I should start reading (or rereading) relevant books (even the not very good ones) and reviewing them, at least so I can remember what I’ve read and what I thought about it. I have a sort of toilet brain that flushes whatever it deems not immediately useful.

    Also, I’m sure this will annoy the heck out of you, but I’d totally appreciate any recommendations/suggestions for books that you have. :)

    Legien:

    Thanks for the love! And thanks for sharing the link to your blog. I took a quick peek at your blog…I will try to read more thoroughly and comment when I have a chance. It is always good to hear from others on this journey.

    Teresa:

    I think you might be attributing some of the commenter Grace’s remarks to me–I reallly don’t think homosexual desires are sinful in themselves! That’s the very view I was trying to explain that I didn’t hold. I know this blog theme doesn’t do the greatest job of making comments easy to read and follow…I’m planning to switch soon, but I feel silly tinkering with appearances when I’ve written so little for so long.

    I have read the Roman Catholic Catechism on this subject, and I do think what little is said there is well said. I admit I get weirded out by the “disordered” language, but that’s only because the psychopathologizers have ruined it. I’m not really a fan of the “serious psychosexual disorder” view…it might provide for compassion of a sort, but it also leads to a sentence of condescension and disrespect, and worse, it provides fodder for undeserved fear and discrimination. If we are “sick,” then there are all sorts of responsibilities we shouldn’t be allowed to have. If we are “sick,” then our personal reflections and senses of self are likely to be neither trusted nor valued. If we are “sick,” then perhaps we shouldn’t be allowed near children. Anyway, I just find the psychopathologizing views troubling, because I feel they not only mess with our own heads, but also lead the church not to trust or respect us, but instead to treat us like second-class Christians.

    I absolutely agree with you about growth and change and obedience, and I love that Mother Teresa quote.

    I don’t want to distance myself from anyone…certainly not other believers with strong desires for the same sex and none for the opposite sex. I apologize if I gave that impression. That’s soooo not what I’m about.

    Anyway, do you have any further comments about “our thinking becoming double-minded and half-baked”? As I resist my own near occasions of sin to same-sex attractions, I find myself isolated, lonely and without any support from any community. I am either reviled, scorned and considered demonically possessed, or I am dragged into a maelstrom of “do what you want”.

    As far as “double-minded and half-baked” goes…well, that’s sort of what my still-unfinished WIFGI series was/is about. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.1, Part 4.2)

    At least speaking for myself, there were times when I was very much in a mindset of “Well, as long as I’m not actually sleeping with girls, I can be as gay as I want and think however I want”…or maybe even, “Because I’m not sleeping with girls, I’m entitled to be as gay as I want and think however I want”. I would get so obsessed with obeying “the letter of the law” and avoiding one particular sin, and believing that because of that sacrifice I had the right to do whatever I wanted besides that, that I would fail to realize that I was making a lot of choices in how I interacted with others and thought about myself which were making it harder for me to obey consistently and wholeheartedly.
    I’m sorry you are so isolated and have had so many bad experiences. I know there are some online groups but I don’t know much about them, and I know a lot are guys-only. You mentioned Courage–do they have any resources they could connect you with? You could also perhaps try an Exodus affiliate…I really don’t recommend a lot of what some of them teach, but it can be a good way to find fellowship with people in a similar situation, and it’s better than being “reviled, scorned, and considered demonically possessed” as I wrote here. Even if you don’t have a community per se, I am praying for some good connections and relationships that would make you feel cherished and supported.

    In your last comment, you mention “I’ve just written a somewhat long post on the Courage website”…any chance you could provide a link to that? As to whether most lesbians are bi but “just haven’t found the right guy,” I don’t think so, but I don’t really know. It doesn’t seem like the sort of question one could settle. It does seem that female sexual orientation is much more ambiguous than the male version, but I think for myself there were shifts in how I felt about guys generally. I don’t think I would have been able to appreciate my husband if he’d shown up at a different time in my life. In fact, we were in the same student fellowship for several years before I even gave him a second thought. :) In any case, I’m wary of the “just haven’t found the right guy” line, because I think it can lead to insensitivity toward gay/ssa women, if people insist that they just need to keep going on more dates and meeting more guys.

  38. Kurmudge says:

    Quoting DM: “I like some girls, I like some guys, and I’m in love with my man.”

    Just out of curiosity, shouldn’t SSA for a Christian desiring to please God be “easier” (I don’t know what word to use here without sounding condescending and dismissive) to deal with if you are more sexually emotionally-driven as opposed to being sexually biochemically-driven? That is to say, in general, testosterone is the primary driver for physiologically-average males to seek sexual release, and emotions are a stronger driver for physiologically-average females, even thought each group has some degree of the other’s motivation.

    In practice, wouldn’t that make it easier for a female with a strong love bond to accept a level of sexual expression contrary to her initial nature, but more difficult for a male? She craves affection, he craves getting off, put baldly.

  39. Fiona says:

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    therefore he/she desires to be available that in detail, so that thing is
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