Exodus International Repents; Why Deep Resistance among Christians Remains
It’s a momentous reversal (“repentance” – change of mind): The largest organization pushing methods for gays to change orientation calling it quits, its leader apologizing.
Anyone familiar with the most common position on homosexual orientation (same-sex attraction, regardless how it is expressed) among traditional Christians in the US will realize that this move by Exodus International will create a big stir, and no doubt some strong backlash from various quarters.
One has to ask, “Why?” And we should be asking why!
The failure to ask “why” is part of the reason the problem of gay intolerance and opposition to gay rights exists, along with massive failure to understand even dedicated “conservative” Christians who are gay, let alone non-Christians. The presumption has been, as Exodus admits, that sexual orientation is a choice (or possibly a learned aberration via family dysfunction, abuse, etc.) and not a natural thing. There has been, among Evangelicals and others, a failure (I’ll add “refusal”) to see that it need not be considered “abnormal” although it is less common than heterosexual orientation. And with that, not “sinful.”
We are far from a mature, highly functioning society until we can openly address the full range of sexual issues confronting adolescents and young adults. All parents, including Christian ones, must proactively gain the knowledge and skills necessary to address these issues at the proper time with each of their children, including that of sexual orientation and how to deal with it… an issue for straights as well as gays. Kids get information on their own, yes, but usually not correct or sufficient information, nor the wise support and direction that only an experienced older person can give.
So does most of “the” Christian church, institutionally – Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox – stand in the way of Christian parents, church leaders and various educators gaining the needed knowledge and skills? Yes, I’m afraid it does!
Here are just a few of the issues as to why, so anyone listening may know better where to work: Sexuality is a highly emotionally charged issue that takes some effort, especially for religious people, to come to objectively and calmly deal with. Gaining much deeper knowledge is part of that effort. Sometimes counseling for oneself or one’s marriage is another. As a marriage counselor earlier in my career I was appalled at the level of ignorance among most people.
Yet another is a renewed, fresh and open look at what the real issues are in the Bible re. sexual morality – the fact that even in the most literally-applied interpretations, little has to do with homosexual orientation; none in more viable interpretations. Where is the energy put toward more faithful, healthy heterosexual relationships of the concerned adults themselves? And toward youth understanding effective management of sex drive and relationships regardless of their orientation? It’s avoided because of embarrassment, fear, laziness, etc.
It’s not the Bible which avoids bringing up sexual issues, to the extent they were understood or typically discussed in the times/places of its writing. It’s layers of encrustation via church and culture, layers of dysfunction.
Christians and anyone else fearing the “activist agenda” of gays need to realize a couple things: It’s probably your own subconscious fears of the explosiveness or seeming “uncontrollability” of your sexuality behind this; or maybe mere shame.
Another thing they must realize is that, in admitting that sexual orientation is not chosen and not easily changed, if it can be at all (Exodus’ admission seems to be that it cannot), they can be reassured! Reassured that the proportion of gays in any society has biological bounds… it is not going to actually rise much, if at all. “Recruitment,” if it were to be happening, will not work! And although it may seem as if there are more gays now because they are able to be open and sometimes are vocal and active in pursuing further rights and acceptance, there most likely is not more of them. And the activism of some does not mean they are expecting special treatment beyond that given others. In other words, the common fears are unfounded; often downright irrational.
Even if these beliefs and attitudes are corrected, it doesn’t mean we won’t still have some difficult work to do as a society in better understanding and handling the developing sexual identity of children, teens and young adults, and in handling it appropriately in schools, churches, etc…. We will (and we certainly do now)!
Let’s get about the job of working on such issues, along with our own, so we are better prepared to understand and be of help to our kids and younger members who need the maturity we have, or should have.