What would you do?
My church is an ex-gay, Exodus-connected church, and I'm not so sure how to feel about that. I actually thought about going to their program, but I'm pretty sure God pulled at my heart and told me not to do it, so I did not. I decided that I am proud of who I am, God loves me for who I am, and I will be who I am, no matter what response that may get from my peers. I am a little concerned about speaking out against the ex-gay stuff because I am going on a mission trip with this church and I do not want that to be compromised, but I'm leaving it in His hands.
With that said, I'm not sure if I will stay with the church after I return from the mission trip. I'm leaving that in His hands as well. I'm going to check out the churches around me and see what's available, because I feel a little misunderstood within my group of friends. :/
What would y'all do if you were in my shoes?
Both of those are excellent. Keep up the prayer, and discussion with God, He's always listening!
PS- do you have a circle of friends at this church to whom you are close?
Dr. Mark Pope had this to say about so called ex-gay conversion therapy. "After months or even years in conversion therapies, these former ex-gays report such therapy was not only ineffective in changing their same-sex attractions, but in many cases it did considerable harm to their mental and emotional health."
The following is Mark Pope's entire statement on conversion therapy:
Statement on Sexual Orientation and Conversion Therapies
by Mark Pope, Ed. D.
First let me present my qualifications to speak on these matters. I am a Professor of Counseling and Family Therapy at the University of Missouri - St. Louis. I am a Fellow of both the American Psychological Association and American Counseling Association and a past president of the American Counseling Association. I am a licensed psychologist in Missouri and Illinois and a licensed professional counselor in Missouri. As the author of five books, dozens of chapters in books as well as articles in professional journals, and presenter at over 100 symposia at professional meetings of psychologists and professional counselors - many of these on issues reacted to sexual orientation, I have been invited to speak briefly to you regarding the upcoming "Love Won Out" Conference to be held in St. Louis on February 25, 2006.
I think that it is very important to differentiate between the organizers of this conference ( "Love Won Out" ) and the attendees. I want to acknowledge that over the years thousands of gay Christians (this is a Christian conference) have found themselves struggling with the issue of whether God accepts them just as they are, or if a change in sexual orientation is required for salvation. The apparent contradiction between faith and sexuality has taken a high toll on many sincere Christians who have spent considerable time, energy, and money trying to change, often with no favorable results. Outward behavior may be modified, but the same-sex attractions remain. The attendees, whether they are those who are questioning their sexual orientation or their family and friends who love them, are hurting and seeking truth. Unfortunately they will not find it at this conference.
The organizers of this conference state that homosexuality is both "preventable and treatable". They are trying to confuse science with religion. Like the anti-evolution religious fanatics who created "creation science" as cover for their theological beliefs, the practitioners of so-called "conversion or reparative therapies" have little if any data to support their claims.
They try to cloak themselves in the language of science ("prevention and treatment") to give credence to their message. But you can't prevent or treat something that isn't a disease. ( Bayer, 1981, Halderman, 1994 )
The claims of these "ex-gays" ministries has been repeatedly repudiated by authoritative and credible scientific groups. Not one such professional society supports their work. The American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, the American Counseling Association, the National of Social Workers, the National Association of School Psychologists, the American School Health Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics - all have issued strongly worded admonitions combating the idea that homosexuality 1) is a disease, 2) can be effectively treated, 3) even needs to be treated. The main approach to counseling with gay and lesbian people is help them accept and love themselves. ( pope & Barret, 2002 )
Even before 1973, when the American Psychiatric Association eliminated homosexuality as a mental disorder ( Bayer, 1981 ), repeated studies by top mental health researchers confirmed it was virtually impossible to change someone's sexual orientation, even though behavioral therapy measures such as electro-shock treatments and pain therapy (aversive conditioning), hypnosis, psychotropic medications, clinical/religious individual and group therapy, and others had been employed (Shidlo & Schroeder, 2002, Spitzer, 2003 ).
The American Psychological Association passed a 1997 resolution stating that "that there is no sound evidence on the efficacy of 'reparative therapy' which seeks to 'cure' homosexuals."
In response to similar "ex-gay" advertising campaign that we are experiencing here in St. Louis, the American Psychiatric Association also released a December 1998 position statement. "the potential risks of 'reparative' therapy are great, including depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient."
Furthermore, none of these ex-gay groups followup with any of the participants in their therapy, eliminating any statistics on their success ratio.
Several founders of "ex-gay" ministries, including Exodus international, one of the sponsoring organizations for this "Love Won Out" conference have since renounced their behavior and denounced the ministries and their methods (Besen, 2003).
Jeffery G. Ford, M.A., a licensed psychotherapist, was formerly the director of Outpost, a Minnesota-based ex-gay ministry. After years of traumatically forcing others, already stigmatized by society, through the program, Ford quit his job, came out of the closet, and debunked Outpost.
"In a society that denies basic human rights and allows the heterosexual majority power to determine our validity," Ford stated, "it is understandable that people would want to escape that kind of persecution. It saddens me deeply to watch as people deny their true nature and strive to find love and acceptance by conforming to the conditions and demands of those who hate and fear that very part of them that is the core of their being....In the five years I was directly involved with the change movement, I do not believe that I saw one genuine change or shift in sexual orientation."
The organizers of the ex-gay conference will not provide you with data about their success rate in changing an individual's sexual orientation. And they will not tell you the story of the founders of their group ( exodus International) - Micheal Bussee and Gary Cooper, who began the prominent "ex-gay" ministry in the mid-1970s, eventually they left their jobs as co-chairs of Exodus International, divorced their respective wives, and celebrated their own marriage ceremony. Until Cooper's untimely death in 1991, they were among the ex-gay" movement's most vocal opponents. Their ex-wives now run Exodus.
Dr. John Money (1990), a professor of psychiatry at John Hopkins University who has conducted decades of research on the origins of sexual orientation in human beings said: "The concept of voluntary choice is as much in error (as applied to sexual orientation) as in its application to handedness or to native language. You do not choose your native language as a preference, even though you are born without it. You assimilate it into a brain pre-natally made ready to receive a native language from those who constitute your primate troop and who speak that lauguage to you and listen to you when you speak it. Once assimilated through the ears into the brain, a native language becomes secuerly locked in - as securely as if it has been phylogenetically preordained to be locked in prenatally by process of genetics pre-determined or by the determinism of fetal hormonal or other brain chemistries. So also with sexual status or orientation, which, whatever its genesis, also may become assimilated and locked into the brain as mono sexuality homosexuality or heterosexuality or as bisexuality a mixture of both" (pp. 43-44).
Sexual orientation is more like a trait than a state, more like a person's rather immutable personality than just simply a behavior. "It's like being left-handed and having someone trying to change 'those poor left-handed people to the true and correct trait of humanity: right handed.' We know that, when that has been attempted, it just seems to cause more problems than it solves. Sure, you can learn this new behavior. Sure, you are more acceptable outwardly to society, but now you get these little unconscious tremors that you never had before and can't figure out where they came from." (Pope, 2005). It never feels natural. You might get real good at it, but you always want to go back to what's natural for you - being left handed. It's an identity, it's a trait, it's a personality characteristic, it's core.
What the organizers of this conference are really trying to do with this type of conference is to prevent people from discovering who they really are, because the organizers of this conference are, at their core, anti-science, anti-sex, and anti-freedom. They really do want people to suffer, as they think that suffering is good for you and that you will be a better person if you suffer.
They think that all things are possible through faith in Jesus. Note "possible." But they won't talk about the statistical probablity of a person changing their sexual orientation, giving up their same-sex attraction and fully adopting the mantle of a fully functioning heterosexually-oriented person.
The damage they are doing to all gay, lesbian, and bisexual people (especially young people) and those who love them is huge. By giving them false hope, they create more pain and suffering for those whom they claim to help.
And even worse outcomes have been documented.
Dr. Ariel Shidlo and Dr. Michael Schroeder in a 2003 article published in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice surveyed 202 individuals who had participated in sexual orientation conversion interventions. They found that only 4% of those individuals were able to successfully "manage their homosexual behavior," with over 74% of group experiencing "significant long-term (psychological) damage from conversion therapy" (p. 254). They blame themselves for not being able to change and report feeling worse than when they originally sought conversion therapy.
After months or even years in conversion therapies, these former ex-gays report such therapy was not only ineffective in changing their same-sex attractions, but in many cases it did considerable harm to their mental and emotional health. "I've seen too many people come out of it suicidal...they say you have to be a certain way and, if you're not, you're going to Hell. How do you reconcile that?" ( Roberts, 1995 ). Most Christians would find it hard to believe that the ex-gay ministries they support often produce mental and emotional suffering for the individuals involved, but the psychological trauma endured by ex-gays is increasingly being documented in studies, articles, and films.
Bayer, R. (1981) Homosexuality and American psychiatry: The politics of diagnosis. New york: Basic Books.
Besen, W. (2003) Anything but straight: Unmasking the scandles and lies behind the ex-gay myth. Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press.
Haldenman, D.C. (1994). The practice and ethics of sexual orientation conversion therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62, 221-227.
Money J. (1990). Agenda and credenda of the Kinsey scale. In D.P. McWhirter, S. A. Sanders, &J.M. Reinish (Eds.) Homosexuality/heterosexuality: Concepts of sexual orientation (pp. 4 1-60). New York: Oxford University Press.
Opoe, M. (2005, January 25). Pope on changing sexual orientation. Posted on CESNET, a listserv for professors of counseling sponsored by the Association for Councselor Education and Supervision.
Pope, M., & Barret, B. (2002) Counseling gay men toward an integrated sexualitity. In L.D. Burlew & D. Capuzzi (eds.), Sexuality counseling (pp. 149-176). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers.
Roberts, D.J. ( 1995, November 15). The Exodus aftermath, EDGE magazine.
Shidlo, A., & Schroeder, M. (2002). Changing sexual orientation: A consumers' report. Professional Psychology: research and Practice, 33, 249-259.
Dr. Pope may be contacted at Division of Counseling & Family Therapy, University of Missouri - St. Louis, One University Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63121-4400
I do have a group of close friends at church. They know about my sexuality, and I told them I was getting help for it, before I realized that was a ridiculous little idea. I hope they can understand my reasons for changing my mind.
Guess my sexuality may be a bigger issue than I thought.
I updated my status on facebook to say, '"I found out my dad admitted he has a problem with "flamers." Guess he didn't think about ME when he said that. :[ At least God still loves me."
Shortly after, I got a phone call from a friend from church, kindly warning that, since I am part of a missions team, it may not be a good idea to mention that stuff, whether online or around the church group. I thanked him for being kind enough and honest enough to say something, but I felt like crying. I'm not one to cease from expressing myself in my truest form, yet I feel like, with this missions trip, I may have to. I also have a possible job with a missions organization that would send me overseas to teach, and I do not want to risk that for anything; I seriously believe that's where God wants me to be. But one simple comment could change that all, simply because I am who I am. That seriously makes me mad. I'm not gay [I'm bi] but I could be perceived that way, and since my church is ex-gay, and possibly my new co-workers/bosses gay-wary, some things about me just won't jive. :(
I don't know guys; I just didn't expect this. It hurts. I don't understand why so many people have to see us in the wrong. All I know is that I am not a sinner because of my sexuality; maybe someday the ones against us will figure that out. :pray:
I suggest you choose your greatest priority of the moment and commit to it.
It sounds like your priority at this time is the mission. If you still wish to follow through with that, if all your heart is in it, then nurture the little flame of your new self-discovery and new self-worth in privacy for a while as you finish up with your mission. Your priority may change with time, and being open may become more important. If it does, then respect that and let your circumstances change.
Best to you.
After thinking about your response, I agree that my priority in this moment is the mission trip to Haiti, even though it's not till June. So for now, I'm keeping my thoughts to myself [except on myspace - no church friends there], and plugging along until I'm back home. Once that moment arrives, I'll deal with the issue head on.
Please keep praying for me, please. Lord knows I need it.
Years ago I was asked by a nurse who worked for me if i could give her some ideas of how she could help with a "mission" by her church to deliver medical care in a "clinic" and spiritual "assistance in Haiti."
So I asked her:
"What type of medical problems are you expecting to encounter?"
"I don't know"
"What medical treatment will you be rendering then?"
"Well, they said we we would give an aspirin or something and that's why they asked me to come with them."
At this point the pit in my stomach wrenched and a cold sweat passed over my neck and shoulders. I didn't want to offend her but I felt I had to say something.
"I have a very uneasy feeling about this whole thing, don't you?"
"It sounds like they are drawing people in with a false promise of real medical care in order to preach gospel."
At this point she became very embarassed.
She backed out, and months later confided to me that she was grateful that she had. She so wanted to be valued by the members of her church that she ignored her gut feeling that what they were doing was very insincere.
Your situation sounds equally toxic to me by what you have said in your posts. I'll bet that if you search your feelings, you will find something very morally wrong about this situation also.
Haitians are very vulnerable people who are being visited by these people who outwardly psychologically prey on another very vulnerable group......gay folk
I feel a twist in my gut again.
First off, of course, I must say that if my advice doesn't feel right, and/or if exploring the idea doesn't seem to lead you to where you think you want to go, don't give it another thought.
Have you thought about moving to a big city, far enough from your former life so that you have some freedom of movement? A place where there will be communities of faith that you can explore, get some support from, and find one that nurtures and accepts you.
There will also be an LGBT community, with many different aspects, that will appeal to many different types of people. I have found such a community to be a wonderful place to sort out what my own inclinations are, and what types of people are a best fit for me.
There should also be organizations and groups that focus on gay Christian people, and those who want to grow as gay Christians.
This is what seems to have worked for me, and I don't know what will work for you, but if you need these resources, a big city is about the only place you will find them.
O.K., I admit that gay people rarely get hasseled in Minneapolis, and I'm hopelessly biased, but that is the best I have to offer. I wish you good luck on your quest.
One More Gay Friendly Church Resource:
Peace and Love, Bruce Chris
I think the twist in your gut is correct once again.
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