Rev. Paul M. Turner, Founding and Senior Pastor, Gentle Spirit Christian Church

The Desperate House of Cards Known as “Love Won Out”

Let me start by saying there is no one who is running for the Presidency of the United States on the Republican side of the aisle that is going to be helpful to the LGBTQIA community. In fact, the vast majority of them if they get their way are flat dangerous to our community. We will find all if not most of the progress we have made over that last 30 years washed away in an over whelming wave of fundamental conservatism such as we have never seen.

If one listens closely to their rhetoric, we hear that all that is wrong with the world, ethically, economically, and spiritually, can be traced back to the LGBTQIA community. God, almighty is raging God’s wrath upon the earth because of our desire to have life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

They will never admit the problems we face as a nation are due to greed, arrogance, hypocrisy, and the desire for absolute power. Nope-it is too easy to blame us.

Nor will they ever admit homophobia is a sure moneymaker. As long as they preach their fear of the LGBTQIA community, the donations roll in. The politicians use us as a wedge issue while the Christian churches have conferences designed to put God and us in a box. I will say again both groups use each other with one common goal, our destruction.

As long as the “Christian Church” allows the lies about us to continue and even teaches them, then we will continue to die, get killed, lose our best health care, our mental health, our jobs, our kids, our right to visitation, and our property. We will continue to be thought of as “not God’s best”. That last phrase is where the most powerful lie of the church gets its power; “love the sinner and hate the sin.” Damn it folks our love is NOT a sin.

Can we not see this is all connected? Have we not seen that when we as a community continue to support these fools with our presences, our money, our votes and our membership in their organizations and churches, we are only hurting ourselves?

Next month on February 18th here comes the biggest Christian liar in the country, Exodus International. They will arrive in Atlanta to do another one of their “Love Won Out” conferences. Under the guise of love they will tell anyone who will listen how they can help a person who is unhappy and struggling with their homosexuality.

First, if it wasn’t for people like them and their equine fecal matter, most LGBTQIA folks would not be struggling and unhappy. This group flat knows people’s sexual orientation cannot be changed. The great tool they use is something called “reparative therapy”

In order for reparative therapy to work, one must assume that “homosexuality” is a disorder of some kind or a personality defect to be corrected. These assumptions are:

1. We are called to love gay and lesbian people “struggling with sexual orientation”

2. homosexual orientation is chosen or is the result of bad childhood experiences; and

3. people cannot condone this “sinful” behavior that was chosen by their loved ones, and therefore “cannot accept their gay, lesbian and bisexual family members”.

These 3 points are countered by:

1. Sexual orientation is not a disease. In 1973. The American Psychiatric Association removed the term “homosexuality” from the list of mental and emotional disorders. Therefore, it does not need to be cured.

2. “Reparative therapy” doesn’t work. In 1990, the American Psychological Association stated that scientific evidence does not show that conversion therapy works and that it can do more harm than good.

3. “Reparative therapy” is dangerous. In 1998, the American Psychiatric Association stated it was opposed to reparative therapy, stating, “Psychiatric literature strongly demonstrates that treatment attempts to change sexual orientation are ineffective. However, the potential risks are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior…”

4. According to the American Medical Association, “most of the emotional disturbance experienced by gay men and lesbians around their sexual identity is not based on physiological causes but rather is due more to a sense of alienation in an un-accepting environment. For this reason, aversion therapy is no longer recommended for gay men and lesbians.”

5. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior (2001) asserts that homosexuality is not “a reversible lifestyle choice.” (Information supplied from: “Reparative” Therapy or “Ex-Gay” Ministries page of P-Flag website: http://www.pflag.org/education/reparative.html)

I would like to note for the record that “struggling with sexual orientation” is a key card in the “house of cards therapy”. To this I will offer this. I am 56-year-old gay man who has been with my partner for 30 years. I also am the Pastor of an inner-city Christian Church, own a home, pay my taxes, contribute to the national economy, vote in every election, and live a full, loving, and exciting life. What struggles I have had are from fighting to have the same rights and privileges of those so-called heterosexuals who think my love is a sin.

It should also be noted this whole idea of “reparative therapy” or conversion therapy is a religious question trapped inside a psychological costume. Since the religious right no longer has a strong theological argument for condemning homosexuality…they have turned to the secular world to help them.

Even Exodus International leader Alan Chambers has been quoted as saying, “The majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9 percent of them, have not experienced a change in their orientation or have gotten to a place where they could say that they could never be tempted or are not tempted in some way or experience some level of same-sex attraction.”

“Reparative Therapy” is based upon several religious lies or more correctly “Christian” lies. Examples:

A LIE:
The Book of Leviticus expressly forbids homosexual sex.

THE TRUTH:
The purity laws of the ancient priesthood are a code of ethics rooted in a time and culture that is far removed from today’s world. Among other things, it forbids shaving, wearing clothing made of two different materials, eating rare meat, and many other things. The edict against homosexual sex is part of this code, no more or no less important than the verse that forbids harvesting an entire field of grain or piercing an ear. It is important only as a historical document, not as a set of rules to follow in this time.

A LIE:
Sodom was destroyed for the sin of homosexuality.

THE TRUTH
Sodom and homosexuality were not connected until the Middle Ages. In Biblical days it was acknowledged that Sodom was destroyed for greed and inhospitality. While some believe that it was probable that the men of Sodom were bent on raping Lot’s visitors, this was an act of violence, not an indication of the sexual preference of the male population of the city. There are many references of Sodom in the Bible (Ezekiel 16:49; Mark 6:11; 2 Peter 2:6-8, among others) but none of them mention homosexuality.

A LIE:
There are scriptures affirming the Biblical condemnation of homosexual sex.

THE TRUTH
Many of the references to eunuchs in the Bible refer to homosexual men, not necessarily to castrated males. Jesus himself said: “For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:12). The book of Isaiah holds one of the greatest promises to us. “To the eunuchs that keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.” (Isaiah 56: 4-5.)

The Bible is a collection of sacred writings that come from different time periods and are written by different authors trying to explain from their point of view who God is and how we as humans relate to and journey with God. The views of each of these authors are as varied as the authors themselves.

One must always remember that the Bible is a history and guide to a faith. The Bible is not the end- all and be-all on any subject of faith. It may be divinely inspired but hardly divinely written.

One’s psychological sanity and safety should never be set aside for the sake of a particular religious belief, particularly when there is on going evidence for one’s sexual orientation being formed at an early age and having far more to do with genetics then religion. The “religious right” and Exodus International have spent so much time trying to eliminate the LGBTQIA community; they have missed the vast majority of people in the community who lead wonderfully wholesome lives.

If today’s post seems especially cranky, I apologize. However, I am very tired of having to justify my love for my partner. I am in agony over watching people in my community spiritually beaten into submission because of the church’s lack of courage and its sexual insecurities. I hope on the 18th of February there will be many who will express the same thing.

Rev. Paul M. Turner

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at http://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.