Saturday, July 7, 2012

Ixnay on the Ex-Gay

I remember when I was doing research for my radio documentary on Anita Bryant's 1977 crusade against the gay community in Miami, I read about her fall from grace not just on the national scene, but amongst her ultra-conservative, holier-than-thou backers.  She and her husband, the late Bob Green, were divorcing.  And in her Baptist, bible-thumping circles that was considered an abomination.

I mean, really: she might as well have said she was a lesbian.  People stopped talking to her, wouldn't acknowledge her presence in a room.  To them, she was dead.

Given all that the former Miss Oklahoma had done to demonize the LGBT community, it was hard to feel sorry for her.  And yet a part of me did not like to read about her suffering isolation and hatred. No one should be treated that way. 

That same isolation and hatred seems to be the fate facing the leader of the harmful and homophobic Exodus International.  Alan Chambers, the 40 year-old leader of the Christian consortium that touted reparative therapy for gays who wanted "out of the life", has now said that the group has been wrong to push for gays to change, and has even said that people who are LGBT can also be Christian without having to renounce and repent the very core of their sexual beings.  This has not gone over well with the Exodus International crowd, and many are calling for his head.  To be clear, Chambers, who says that he struggles with his own sexual identity, is hanging on to some of his conservative credentials, but he is realizing the hypocrisy of the message:

“I believe that any sexual expression outside of heterosexual, monogamous marriage is sinful according to the Bible,” Mr. Chambers emphasized. “But we’ve been asking people with same-sex attractions to overcome something in a way that we don’t ask of anyone else,” he said, noting that Christians with other sins, whether heterosexual lust, pornography, pride or gluttony, do not receive the same blanket condemnations. 

That's because there is nothing to overcome.  That's the point.  There is nothing, absolutely, positively nothing sinful about being a same-sex loving person.  Just like there is nothing, absolutely, positively nothing sinful about being an opposite-sex loving person.  Sin happens in how we treat the person we purport to love.  If we are using them as a means to an end, and not respecting their dignity and their humanity, then we are sinning.  Sexual expression is a gift from God.  Our sexual beings are good gifts, given freely, in the hopes that we will enjoy them in a way that is mutually loving.

But because Mr. Chambers has evolved in his own understanding that LGBT people can not be cured and can be part of the kingdom of God, many of his cohorts have gone sour on him, and are denouncing him.  Just as society, and even faith institutions, are growing more and more comfortable with LGBT people there will always be those who will ratchet up the rhetoric to denounce us and call us products of the devil.  And their voices will get louder and more strident.  The key to overcoming their hatred is not to descend to their level, but to continue ascending to the place where we are headed: full equality.

I am sorry that Mr. Chambers is now feeling the heat from his hot-headed once-friends.  No one deserves to be isolated or alone.  And yet, he helped make the monster that now wants to devour him.   That's sad.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As usual you are being thoughtful and understanding. Good blog.