I have decided to NOT write about Indiana today. Outspoken Ally will continue to speak out about it on the Facebook page – but George Takei and other activists have this. It is truly a pleasure to watch them in action, and I have elected to refrain from writing about it until I can congratulate them on their well-earned success. Today, I’m going to talk about ‘Pray Away The Gay.’
Since the closing of Exodus International, several other ‘reparative therapy clinics’ have shut down and gone out of business. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has denounced the harmful and damaging practice, and anyone with half an ounce of empathy knows that ‘reparative therapy,’ or ‘conversion therapy’ as it’s sometimes known, is a hurtful and offensive crock. Still, the idea remains, and that’s really no surprise. If you view homosexuality as a sinful choice, then you may believe that these “sodomite sinners can be healed through the power of Jesus Christ.” Alternatively, you may think that gay people are called to a life of celibacy, and whether you use the term ‘therapy’ or not, you apparently believe that it’s possible to pray away the gay. You simply can’t have the facts about homosexuality and still believe this.
I’ve been listening to a lot of sermons on homosexuality lately, and they’ve given me a ton of material to write about. Running through all of them, regardless of denomination, are several common threads .. one being that Jesus will heal sinners, if only they repent in sincerity … and since “gay people are sinners just like the rest of us,” he will heal them too. In other words, you can pray away the gay. “But don’t discriminate them (their grammar, not mine). Preach God’s condemnation out of love. Tell them where they’re going, and tell them Jesus can save them. We don’t want them to wind up where they’re headed.”
I don’t know about you, but to me this looks an awful lot like God being used as a scapegoat to justify hatred. I’ve heard it said, many times, “don’t blame me, it’s God’s word.” As a matter of fact, I used that myself when I was a homophobic bigot. There are a number of ways to respond to this particular statement. You could point out that it’s NOT God’s word (as I argue on the ‘Think’ page). You could point to the other moral laws in the Bible (ie: adultery) and ask where the protests are against that … not disagreement, but protests. Where are the placards and street demonstrations? You could inquire as to why the rates of domestic, sexual, and child abuse are higher among the Christian population. If homosexuality is indeed an abomination under God’s moral law, perhaps they can explain why we should take that law seriously when so many Christians don’t even follow it. Finally, you could ignore the preconception that homosexuality is an unnatural sin, by asking why anybody would want to pray away a part of who they are.
Preachers, please stop doing this. Your congregation may believe every word, but if they ever mistakenly buy a book containing actual facts, they might think you a fool. There’s no honour in dishonesty. There was a time when the minister/parson/priest was revered as the most educated man in town. I am truly glad that time is past. I have no respect for those who close their minds for fear of losing faith. A mind closed to facts is a mind opposed to the whole point of education. We should embrace new knowledge when it’s discovered, not deny it to protect views that simply aren’t true.
To gay Christians who have been told they can ‘pray away the gay’: you are not broken. Being gay is not a sin, and neither is loving another person. Be proud of who you are. Turn away from the bully pulpit when you are told you’re an abomination. Know that you have value, that you have worth, and that you are better than those who condemn you. We are not obligated to respect anybody’s belief, no matter how sincerely it’s held. If it hurts, it is worthy only of contempt. If you believe in God, do not accept the notion that He condemns you for the way He made you.
You have been told there is evil in your church. There may be, but it’s not you … where ‘pray away the gay’ is preached, the evil usually sits up front.