Hi There

May 12, 2010

In celebration of my new two-month-old daughter’s sleeping for eight consecutive hours (yee-hah!), I shall again attempt a return to blogging.  I know in the past I’ve threatened to post more regularly even if that means writing really really badly, but I’ve never followed through.   So, we’ll see what happens this time around.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh has a full life (that doesn’t provide a lot of opportunities for ruminating on Teh Gay) and remarkably poor time management skills.

Recent commenters, I’m going to try put up a couple of posts before I reply to your comments/questions.  Just give me a day or two.



Breeder

July 13, 2008

(This post is going to be about baby/mom stuff, and not at all gay/exgay related.  I’ll get back on track with the issues soon.  But I think some people might want to know how we’re doing.  If you don’t, just skip this.  There are no incisive criticisms or deep insights below.) 

So the big news first:  Baby DM was born almost two months ago.  :) 

She is unbelievably beautiful. I keep almost saying “perfect” and having to catch myself.  For one thing, that’s blasphemous.  For another thing, she has back hair (!), although I have been assured that will disappear with time.   She is healthy and doing well, although she’s got quite the ornery temperament,–I think she’s what people euphemistically call an “unusually sensitive” and “intense” baby.  But I can’t get too upset about that, as I myself was colicky and high-needy when I was her age, so it’s just my karma coming back to bite me.  As a man sows, so shall he reap.   She was very lanky at birth (below average in weight, well above average in height), but she has the appetite of an elephant and has been “filling out” with a vengeance.  Supposedly, they say you can’t overfeed a breastfed baby.  I’m a little skeptical about that now that she’s put on her fifth chin or so, but her pediatrician assures me that this is just marvelous.  To all those who prayed and/or wished us well, thank you. 

When she’s in a good mood, she loves to smile at me (and smile bigger when I smile back at her)  and occasionally she laughs with me too.  She’s starting to try to “talk”–i.e., make random noises at me when I’m talking to her.  She growls and squeals with delight and anticipation when she catches a glimpse of a bared breast, and lunges toward it with a gaping mouth.  (Chip off the ol’ block, I suppose.)  She’s started to pay attention to her toys, and has a favorite–a woolly mammoth that was mine when I was a baby.  She gets visibly excited when I bring him over, and she talks to him and swats him over with her hand. 

She’s awfully cute.  :)

It’s been cool to watch her evolve gradually–her hand motions getting ever so slightly more controlled, her vocal abilities getting more complex, her facial expressions getting more interesting, her eyes becoming more alert and aware and intelligent.  It’s been fun to watch her change from a completely clueless newborn, freaked out by this cold and too-bright and terribly scary world where one experiences hunger, discomfort, and pain for the first time, into a baby who has a little bit of a grip on post-womb life and seems to be starting to enjoy it!  It’s crazy to think that, Lord willing, I’m going to get to watch her progress from baby to toddler to little girl to adolescent (yikes!) to teenager and beyond.  But it’s hard to imagine that looking at this helpless little blob-person.

These past few weeks have been a bit of a rough ride.  I knew intellectually, as everyone does, that a new baby is tough.  But there’s knowing it, and then there’s living it.  In the first few weeks, I wasn’t sure how we were going to make it, and I couldn’t fathom how anyone ever intentionally has more babies after going through this once.  It was pretty humiliating to feel that I was floundering through something so ordinary, so normal– a thing that some of the dumbest and laziest of hetero underachievers manage to accomplish.  I mean, I’ve got all these achievements and distinctions, and yet I felt like I couldn’t handle this basic everyday mammalian behavior, something that billions of people have done.  I was completely exhausted, my system was thrown into shock by this new lifestyle and responsibilities, and I was frustrated by my inability to keep my baby happy.   

And it was really challenging for Mr. DM and I as a couple, the first significant challenge for our marriage I think.  Before the baby, these past almost-three years of being together were super-easy.  Mr. DM used to describe it as “a perpetual slumber party–with sex!”  It was just easy and fun, pure delight, a little slice of heaven.  I think we probably argued or fought once every four months or so, but only for like 10 minutes before laughing at ourselves and making up.  But a baby makes things tough.  Both the sex and the slumber in our sexy slumber party have gotten much harder to come by.  And our relaxed rhythm of devotion to each other and taking care of each other has been upset by this newcomer.  Before, we had a neat give-and-take equilibrium of affection going on–somehow it usually worked out that when I needed support and a little extra TLC, he had the energy to give it to me, and vice versa.  And when we were both down we could just wait for the weekend to snuggle up together all day long and retreat from responsibility and the cold cruel world outside.  But now little Baby DM is basically a vacuum sucking up enormous quanitities of energy and love, and she can’t exactly reciprocate yet.  And there’s no retreating–her needs are relentless and non-negotiable.    Stress and tiredness really brought out the sinner in both of us.  We struggled with both wanting to be listened to more than we wanted to listen, and with wanting to be comforted and cared for more than we wanted to comfort and care.  We started getting snippy and cold with each other, and we both felt abandoned, that the other person didn’t have our back like they used to.  Secretly, I was wondering what happened to the wonderful man I had married, and he was wondering whether I still loved him.

I knew the baby would be tough, which is part of why I was so quiet over the past few months.  I guess I was hoping I could figure out some shortcut to spiritual growth–that maybe if I read the right books and prayed the right prayers, that the Lord would make me a bigger and better person by the time the baby rolled in, so I’d be able to take it all in stride.  Of course that’s not how it ever works–in these ten years of Christian life, I’ve learned that growth for me anyhow always seems to come through being overwhelmed.  It never seems to come in time to spare me the overwhelming, even when I’m smart and diligent enough to pray for it in advance. 

But gradually somehow I’m sort of getting the hang of this.  I’m sure as soon as I say that, I’m going to end up in way over my head again, but nonetheless, I’m getting somewhere.  Little Baby DM is teaching this ignoramus a little more about parenting every day.  And I’m learning to just go with the flow.  So, for example, she’s usually contented when she’s in my arms, but pretty much howls everywhere else during the day.  This drove me nuts for a while, but I’ve come to just accept it, and my arm muscles after a few days of cramping have adjusted accordingly.  (And I’ve become a master of picking things up with my unusually prehensile toes.)  And yeah, this makes it hard to do a lot of things, but I’ve come to accept that too, and just relax.  If I can get her to nap briefly on a pillow in my lap (where she is right now), great; if not, fine.  She’s my priority, and if everything else falls through the cracks, that’s okay.  For the time being, no plans or agendas, except tentative ones held loosely. 

And she and I are getting to know each other, and are getting more used to each other.  That has helped enormously.  I’ve figured out how to soothe her pretty consistently, and I’ve come to understand what upsets her, so at least some of the time we can avoid a meltdown, and I know what makes her happy.  So now I can relax and enjoy her.  When I was feeling helplessly dragged along by the current of her incomprehensible emotions, terrified of the next purple-faced screaming fit, I couldn’t even enjoy her peaceful times, because of the anxiety which hung like a cloud over my head.  But now that I understand her more, and therefore have a tiny bit of a sense of control–as much as we ever have in life–I look down at her sleeping in my lap and she is just so beautiful and wonderful.  I can’t believe something so awesome came out of me!

And in the past couple of weeks I’ve started to feel great.  Don’t get me wrong, there are rough patches, especially in the evenings, but there are also lots of times when I’ve never felt better or more alive or more focused.  Baby DM has done wonders for simplifying and improving my life.  I spend less time obsessing and pondering, and more time doing, getting pulled out of my head into my flesh and my senses.  I’ve become a morning person, because she has no interest in sleeping once she’s seen daylight, and thus I have been cured of my lazy gradstudent sleep patterns. which were far less healthy.  I’ve pretty much cleaned caffeine out of my system, because I read that the half-life of caffeine in a newborn is three to five DAYS, and it just ain’t worth it.  And even though I haven’t quite lost all of the pregnancy weight yet, I’m just so thrilled to have something vaguely resembling my old body back, so that I don’t feel like a manatee.  And I’m having fun introducing all the wonderful things in the world to my daughter, seeing/hearing/smelling/touching them again for the first time with her. 

And Mr. DM and I are learning to adjust and redefine our relationship to make room for baby.  There’s no chance we’re going to get back to our perpetual slumber party any time in the next 20 years, maybe 25 as we hope to add a few more arrows to Mr. DM’s quiver before we’re done.  So we’ve got to be creative.  We’re learning that we have to be aggressive and determined in making time for us, because it’s not going to come about naturally.  And, we’re learning to accept each other, to not be angry/bitter at the other person for being as tired and frazzled as we are and therefore not in a really great position to bail us out.  Rather than expecting the other person to be the “strong” one when we need them to, we’re learning to be “weak” together, and to accommodate ourselves to each other’s weaknesses, and carry each other’s burdens.  The coldness and the snippiness are gone, and our fears are allayed.  We remember why we got ourselves into this, and it’s worth it.

And something in me just goes wild in the best possible way when I see him with Baby DM, watching him play with her, smile with her, or attempt to feed her.  (She isn’t really a big fan of bottles of expressed breastmilk, especially if she knows I’m in the vicinity with the real thing on tap, so these attempts have very mixed success.)  It stirs up something in me, and adds a whole new layer and dimension to my love for him, in a way that I hadn’t anticipated.  He is going to be a wonderful father–so gentle and patient and sensitive. 

 So that’s the personal update.  I’m sure the parts where I talk about my new life as a parent are laughable, as I’m sure I don’t really know anything yet, and that I haven’t seen nothing yet.  But it seems right to talk about how things look to me now, clueless as I am, and I suppose we can all look back on this post and laugh at me together when I am older and wiser.

And I will say something gay-related soon.  :)


Personal Update / Apology

January 27, 2008

Hi everybody,

To all the people I owe email to, I’m sorry, and thanks for being patient and understanding.  Life has been crazy lately.  I know I always say that, but it seems to be always true.  And yeah, I do realize it’s only going to get truer. 

I’m going away with Mr. DM for a few days–I’m not sure what my internet access will be like.  I hope to 1) answer all unanswered email that needs replies and 2) post something when I get back if not sooner.  If you haven’t gotten a reply to your email by the next time I post to this blog, and you would like one, please send me a gentle friendly reminder. 

And…oh yeah, it’s a girl.  :)  (NNR, I can hear you laughing from here!)  I can feel her kicking and squirming inside me, which is pretty cool.  I thought it would be freaky, but it’s not like that at all. 


Irvine and Other Stuff

June 23, 2007

A bunch of folks have asked whether I will be in Irvine next week, for one reason or another. 

Alas, the answer is no.  I know I told some people last year I was sure I was going to make this year my first Exodus Freedom Conference.  And then the bXg conference would have simply been the icing on the cake–with a chance to meet the Christine Bakke (as seen in Glamour and on Good Morning America!!!)  But it’s just not going to work out.  Finances are tight, and neither Mr. DM nor I can really spare a week now .   If we could, we would take a vacation with it.  (I’m sure I would get a lot out of the various conferences, but I don’t think they would be especially relaxing or recreational for me, and Mr. DM would just be bored silly.) 

For those who are going to be there, Peterson asked if I would mention his open invitation to Exodus leaders to join some “ex-gay survivors” for dinner on Friday, June 29th.  The link is to the invitation, you can read more there and RSVP if you so desire.  I’ll be honest–I do have mixed feelings about it.  But…if it were me I would go.   

**********

On a side note, I have been alternately wildly busy and completely exhausted.  So I apologize for the even worse than usual delays in replies to emails and comments, and I will deal with them as I can.  “Real life” is real crazy right now. 


Okay, here we go!

March 29, 2007

From last September:

I’m not quite ready to take on “Why did I forsake gay identity?” yet.  I’ve been putting off thinking about how to articulate the answer to that question for years because I’ve always suspected that it would be really tough to do, and it sure is. I’m basically trying to translate intuitions and hunches and gut feelings into coherent reasons and principles.  Which is probably as futile an endeavor as it sounds, but I’m gonna try anyway!

The next post (tomorrow morning) will begin a series on why I ditched my gay identity which will probably span seven or so (!) posts.  

This has been a tough and prickly issue for me.  So tough that the only way to work up the nerve to make myself write about it has been to resolve not to write any other posts until I do so.  It’s that tough…

…partly because it involves taking a pre-established side in an existing controversy.  If you haven’t noticed yet, I prefer to sidestep the traditional partisan divides in what I write.  I like being slippery, tough to peg. Well, no matter how hard I try to qualify or soften it, there’s nothing slippery or maverick about my stance here. My position, at least regarding myself and my own life, is textbook exgay.  All the edginess I can muster is to say that perhaps my experience shouldn’t be generalized.    Wow.  Way to color outside the lines, DM. 

…partly because it’s so intensely personal.  I don’t intend to do much wallowing-in-the-past in this series, but since my decision emerged from some heavy-duty spiritual struggle, thinking about why I did what I did involves reliving some of the ugly parts of my life, even if I mercifully opt to spare you the details. (How low would you have to sink before you would sign yourself up for a humiliating residential program?)  And even if I could have made the decision in happier circumstances, the very nature of the choice has a kind of existential terribleness about it. 

…partly because my abandoning of gay identity has been a rather partial and incomplete process, and one I’m not in a huge hurry to finish.  I’m sure through this filter of plain text I come across as a paragon of straightness, but few who have actually met me in person take me seriously when I profess to have given up “gay identification.”  Suppressed chuckles are not uncommon.  As one friend retorted after I tried to explain why I no longer identified as gay, “Well, you’re queer enough.” Even my husband, when talking to me about gay-related issues, refers to the LGB community as “you people.”  None of that bothers me; in fact, I not-so-secretly relish it.  But it does make me feel awkward writing this stuff–who am I to talk about giving up gay identity? 

…and partly because I don’t really have clear answers.  As I said in the quote above, the decision was not an overtly intellectual one.  I gave up my gay identity because it felt like what I had to do.  In trying to write about it, I first hoped that once I really buckled down and thought it through, the rationality of it all would become obvious to me.  That didn’t quite happen.  Part of me wants to wait until I attain greater clarity of vision on the subject before posting anything.  But the other comment threads have proven so helpful to me that I think I’m better off thrashing blindly in the presence of others than holing up inside my head trying to figure it all out on my own. 

So, here we go.

Comment replies on previous threads will be my next priority once I get this new series of posts a little bit underway.  For those who don’t keep on top of the comments, I note that Jon Trott of BlueChristian.com and JPUSA (yay!) and Ron Belgau have reopened discussion on the Irresistible Force/Immovable Object thread, and I’ll be diving in shortly.  Not-so-new Reader, you’re going to have to wait a little while for my verdict on birth control.  That’ll feel like a cakewalk after this.
 


Haggard Update

March 11, 2007

Ron Belgau alerted me to this:

Another overseer, the Rev. Tim Ralph of New Covenant Fellowship in Larkspur, Colo., said he was “misquoted” recently as saying Haggard was “completely heterosexual.” He said he meant to say that therapy “gave Ted the tools to help to embrace his heterosexual side.

 So, I guess it was all a big misunderstanding.  In any case, I don’t think my previous thoughts on the subject are entirely without value, even though they may not apply to Haggard or the church he pastored.

Otherwise, things are quiet over here, as I’ve realized that I keep writing the easy posts in order to avoid thinking about and working on the hard ones.  There are all kinds of things I could say, and hope to say at some point, about stuff like this, this, this, and this.  But there are some tougher questions I need to wrestle with first.

 


Reflections on Tushnet’s Thoughts about Exgay Ministries

July 12, 2006

As I said a couple of posts ago, I thoroughly enjoyed Eve Tushnet’s blog posts about her visit to a Love Won Out conference and her thoughts on the ex-gay movement. Now that I finally have a little spare time, I’m going to use her thoughts as a springboard for some thinking aloud of my own. (Note: I’m not discussing what I thought was the most interesting part of her posts–her thoughts on same-sex attraction, alienation, and beauty. I tried, but I’m simply unequal to the task–it’s too lofty and intimidating a subject for me right now. So I devote myself to these humbler and more trivial matters instead: eschaton immanentization, salvation-through-pantyhose, parental reactions to their child’s homosexuality, why the ex-gay movement is a Protestant thing, and putting homosexuality on the back burner.)

1. Eschaton immanentization

Yeah it’s a problem. I wouldn’t say that those exgays try to “yank Heaven down” by force. It’s more that they genuinely believe that this is what God is doing now, that these really are special and awesome times, and you can either get with the program or miss out on the blessing. It’s not that you can “make” God “fix” you, it’s that God really really wants to “fix” you, if only you’d cooperate in faith. (Look at all the other people He’s fixing! Why not you?!) Now, maybe they’re subconsciously “yanking Heaven down” in leaning toward the interpretations that they do. But I don’t think they consciously see themselves as manipulating God.

Still, the perspective is problematic because (in my humble opinion) it sets an unrealistic goal for many of us, and it blames our failure to achieve it on our spiritual state. This is partly why exgay “failure” to change can be a really painful thing, I think. The implication is often that change would happen if you really had true faith, if you really trusted God, if you really desired to please Him, if you were really obedient in stewarding your sexual desires, if you were really earnest in pursuing holiness–in other words, if you were really His child, if you were really saved. I know ex-gay ministries don’t explicitly say or believe this, but isn’t it a logical conclusion to draw from things they do say, about change being possible for everyone, about change being something God wants to work in the life of every same-sex attracted believer, about change being a product of intimacy with Christ?

I suspect that there are at least four factors contributing to this problem: (1) the influence of Charismatic/Pentecostal beliefs to the effect that healing and miracles are available to all with sufficient faith; (2) a bad exegesis of 1 Cor. 6:11 where “And such were some of you” is read by many exgays, in defiance of all logic and reason, as talking about a change in sexual attraction rather than a change in sexual behavior; (3) a split-mindedness within the exgay movement over whether homosexual attraction is a spiritual issue or merely a psychological one (and therefore capable of being psychologically “cured”); and (4) a sense of entitlement and conviction that God wants His people to be happy and successful. I think there’s an implicit view sometimes that being a good witness means having a life that is attractive in the world’s eyes, so that they’ll want to be just like you. (I personally was more drawn to the faith by those total losers who gave up everything for Jesus, but what do I know?)

In any case, I dissent from that view. I do not believe that God has promised everyone attraction change. I feel kind of Scrooge-like saying this, after having been blessed as I have, but the evidence seems compelling to me. I simply know too many men and women who tried too hard, men and women who followed the exgay teaching far more assiduously and wholeheartedly than I. I will not dishonor them by claiming that they just didn’t have enough faith, or pray the right prayer, or try hard enough.

2. “Salvation-through-pantyhose”

From what I’ve seen, there is considerable disagreement among exgays on this issue. I am officially on the “anti-pantyhose” side. I think the emphasis on gender stereotypes is misguided even by mainstream exgay theology’s own lights. After all, they believe that a key cause of same-sex attraction is feeling insecure in one’s gender as a child. Well, what better way to make kids (or adults) feel insecure and inadequate in their gender than to set forth a very rigid notion of what it means to be a woman or a man, which will likely be hard for them to live up to or feel comfortable with?

Nonetheless, I think there’s a kernel of truth in the pro-pantyhose position for some women, probably including Ms. Fryrear. I know there are many women who are cool with themselves as women but just don’t like the girly stuff, and that’s great. But I also know that there are some other women who don’t like the girly stuff because they are uncomfortable with themselves as women. For these women, I think their discomfort with pantyhose (or whatever) might be a dragon that needs slaying, as part of embracing and accepting themselves as women, as God created them. Of course, I wouldn’t put any pressure on anyone. God showed me what I needed to do when I needed to do it, in no uncertain terms.

3. Parental reactions to a child’s homosexuality.

Like Tushnet, my intuitive sympathies are with the kid, for obvious reasons. I get pretty agitated by parents who are devastated by and mourn and grieve over their child’s gaiety. I want to grab them by the neck and yell all kinds of stuff at them, like about how being a queer kid is plenty stressful enough without having to worry about dealing with your parents while they’re self-indulgently bewailing the demise of their bourgeois fantasies of normalcy and grandparenthood….GRRRRRRR.

<deep, cleansing breaths>

But, all that being said, the fact is that parents do have those kinds of ridiculously overblown feelings and reactions. I don’t fully understand why they do, and I sure wish they didn’t, but there it is. And if I’ve learned anything from observing the homo-struggle, surely it’s that Beating Up On People For Feeling What They Shouldn’t Feel isn’t terribly productive. Sure, if she really had it together as she ought to, the mother of a gay son wouldn’t feel that his being gay was tantamount to his being dead. And if I really had it together as I ought to, Zhang Ziyi wouldn’t do that thing she does to my insides. So I need to restrain my killer instincts, and cut unto others the slack I would have them cut unto me.

Tushnet’s take seems to be “well, the kid will be able to tell how you feel anyway, so why bother telling them?” My take is more “well, since the kid is probably going to be able to tell how you feel anyway, don’t b.s. them about how you’re taking it.” To illustrate, I offer a not-so-hypothetical tale of two parents.

When I came out to my mom, she appeared to take it just fine. Sure, she looked a little stunned, but her voice was composed and moderate as she shared her extraordinarily low opinions of the female genitalia and cunnilingus, and informed me that I needed go out and get some sexual experience with boys before coming to any conclusions. I breathed a huge sigh of relief over how well she handled it. But she then proceeded to spend the next three years passive-aggressively snarking at me over the subject at every opportunity, all the while insisting that she “didn’t have a problem with it,” until one day she just snapped and her sorrow, fear, frustration, and horror exploded all over me like a slime-filled balloon. (If anyone’s trying to piece together a chronology, this was about a year before before she asked God to kill me on account of my queerness.)

In contrast, when I came out to my father, I (and the rest of my family) expected him to react angrily, kick me out of the house, and disown me. Well, that didn’t happen, but what did happen was even more horrifying to me at the time. He cried. I don’t mean a wistful solitary tear streaking down his rugged, stoic, masculine cheek. I mean he bawled hysterically and incoherently like a little girl. For a loooong time. I had never seen anything like that from him in my entire life, and I hope never to again. But all the same, his pain and anguish and sense of unfathomable loss were palpably real. Trying to cover them up would have been both futile and insulting.

Anyway, I guess my point is simply that I preferred my father’s handling of the news to my mother’s. So yeah it would be fantastic if parents could be level-headed and control themselves, if they could successfully protect their kids from their emotions. But I worry that expecting that of parents in general would be a little bit like, well, immanentizing the eschaton.

4. Why the Ex-Gay Movement is a Protestant Phenomenon

So some guy named John wrote to Tushnet wondering about why the ex-gay movement is overwhelmingly a Protestant thing. (But let’s not forget Joseph Nicolosi! And that lovely jewel of a statement from the Vatican a while back–as far as I’m concerned, once you’ve declared that homosexual attractions are necessarily a manifestation of spiritual and emotional immaturity, you’re nine-tenths of the way to the very worst kind of ex-gay viewpoint.)

He was specifically wondering whether it had something to do with a Reformation view that homosexual desire itself was sin. So, the thinking might run: because the desire is sin, the desire must be got rid of, which brings us to ex-gay ministries.

I am pretty certain this is not the case. For a few different reasons, but I’ll just give the simplest one: The explicit view of every exgay leader I have ever heard is that homosexual desire is not sin. They are quite emphatic and unequivocal about that.

Do I have an alternative answer? I don’t claim to know the exact whys and wherefores, but in my humble opinion the biggest reason by far is this:

Protestants have no meaningfully fleshed-out concept of intentional, joyful celibacy to work with. Period.

Thus, we have to change homosexuals’ orientations and marry them off, because we don’t have any real alternatives for them.

The Reformers and their heirs were so eager to uphold and exalt the holiness and sanctity and spiritual excellences of marriage that celibacy got buried and was largely forgotten. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe with all my heart that the Reformers were wonderfully and profoundly right about emphasizing the highness of the calling of marriage and the spiritual importance of “ordinary” secular life. But, there’s a problem lurking in the neighborhood.

Traditionally, Protestants have held that the solution to sexual temptation is sex in marriage. This was a claim Luther and Calvin made, and it is repeated over and over again throughout our history. If you are sexually struggling and you are unmarried, then you need to get married. If you are sexually struggling and you are married, then you and your spouse need to be having more and/or better sex. (The Reformers and Puritans were very insistent upon the value of sexual pleasure and the importance of mutual satisfaction in the marriage bed.) The general feeling one gets from reading them is that sexual desire cannot be tamed or subdued at all, but only corralled in marriage.
The problem of course is that this approach has nothing to offer those who don’t see hetero marriage as a viable option, but who still find themselves excruciatingly sexually tempted–i.e., the exclusively homosexually attracted. Unless it can make heteros out of them.

I would love to be proven wrong on this–I’d love for someone to point me to secret treasure troves of Reformed teaching on the subject of celibacy. But this is my impression as someone who spent several years earnestly trying to find support and resources for celibacy from the evangelical Protestant traditions and coming up empty-handed. There is simply not much of a place in the evangelical church for someone who isn’t trying to get married. Our great celibate role-models (Amy Carmichael, John Stott, etc.) were all accidental celibates who were earnestly hoping to get married until it was simply too late.

Evangelicals do acknowledge that a tiny handful of people are called to lifelong “singleness”, but we generally seem to think that those people will have such special grace and revelation from the Lord (in accordance with their exceedingly rare and special calling) that they will know what to do and how to handle it themselves without any advice from mere mortals. So it’s treated like a mysterious superpower, and not spoken about much. If you’re struggling sexually, you weren’t meant to be celibate. A suitable spouse will be coming along shortly, have no fear.

Given all this, I think it’s not hard to see why the ex-gay movement is the primary evangelical method of helping homosexually-attracted believers. It’s also not hard to see why this is a difficult context for homosexually attracted people to try to exist in. This is another reason why I think ex-gay “failure” (or lack of “success”) can be so painful: the Church doesn’t know what to do with you!

On top of this, exgays are sometimes told that their “healing” will not be complete if they don’t go onto heterosexual attraction and marriage. (See this Exodus article and this one as well.) That they are cowards for not desiring or pursuing hetero marriage, afraid to step out of their same-sex attracted comfort zone. So sometimes I wonder if the exgay movement seems reluctant to offer “too much” support for celibate chastity, lest exgays become too comfortable in that place without pursuing further change. In any case, I blame the historic Protestant discomfort with celibacy for the whole darn mess. And I do think it is a mess, a mess that needs to be cleaned up if we’re going to effectively minister to gay people.

5. Putting homosexuality on the back burner

“She also said–to much applause–that the Christian who made the biggest impression on her when she was still a lesbian “put homosexuality on the back burner,” presenting Christ as her Savior first rather than talking about her sexuality. It is not my impression that the ex-gay movement, in general, actually takes this approach.”

For what it’s worth, my own experience is that the ex-gay movement, in general, actually does take that approach. I spent a lot of time before becoming a Christian conversing online with many exgays and exgay leaders. Without exception, they all put Christ front-and-center and never brought up my sexuality issues.

It is certainly true that plenty of other Christians fail to put Christ ahead of a person’s homosexuality in talking to them. But I have never seen that in the ex-gay movement. Which makes me very glad. Because really, it’s stupid. As a pastor involved in exgay ministry said affectionately to me shortly after my conversion “Jesus has to catch the fish before He can clean them.” And as I’ve said before:

The way to lead gays to Christ is not through arguing with them about homosexuality. If I know you have one deaf ear, I won’t speak in it if I’m trying to get you to hear me. If I know you have a blind spot, I won’t display something in front of it if I’m trying to get you to see. “But they must be convinced of their sin before they will see their need for a Savior!” True enough. But it’s not as though homosexual sex is the only sin that gay people commit. On the contrary, like everybody else, most of them struggle with many things that they themselves wouldn’t hesitate to call wrong. So why not address those matters instead?

Speaking personally, when I first keenly felt my need for a Savior, I felt it because of my pride, because of my greed, because of my hatred, because of my lack of self-control, because of my selfishness, because of my unrighteous anger, because of my impatience, because of how I had hardened my heart against the Lord of the Universe and blasphemed His name. These things condemned me. I did not yet see the sinfulness of homosexuality, or any [consensual] sexual sin for that matter. It was not until after I became a Christian by God’s grace that my eyes were more fully opened and I could see the truth in the Scriptures and in the witness of the Holy Spirit within my heart.


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