Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Heart of the Ex-Gay Movement

Last fall, Erin Marie Daley wrote a thoughtful 3-page article on the Focus on the Family/Exodus/NARTH traveling conference "Love Won Out" when it came through Boston on September. I was quite impressed with the article.

Erin documents the organizational and political history of ex-gay ministry, including the surges of donations and attendance the ministries has experienced as big evangelical organizations like Focus on the Family have begun talking about Exodus in their national campaigns against homosexuality in America. She records some of the standard messages often heard in the programs, such as "fathers, if you don't hug your sons, another man will," the message that "homosexuality is not immutable," and the sweeping and grotesque characterizations of the "gay lifestyle" as "a life of bulimia, obsessive workouts, and steroids." She comments on the confusion and misunderstanding between the conference attendees and the crowd of loud, often offensive pro-gay protesters outside.

Moreover, Erin gives the article a decidedly human touch by following two young participants--Tom, a college-age Christian from Cleveland "in an argyle sweater and glasses" who just came out, and Josh, a 28-year old Jew from Manhattan "in a tight white T-shirt and yarmulke." Throughout the article, Erin provides more and more details of these two guys' stories and records the questions they ask of the conference speakers (including a particularly pointed confrontation between Tom and Exodus president Alan Chambers) and their thoughts of the amassed protesters outside.

I found the most insightful paragraph in the entire article came near the end, when Erin recounts the heavily emotional "altar call" given by Joe Dallas inviting ex-gay strugglers to come forward to receive prayer and encouragement from the conference leaders.
As people crowd the alter, tears streaming down their faces, and others sit in the audience weeping, the crux of the ex-gay movement emerges, the simple reason it can exist at all in modern America: People are sad. They're fearful in an age of uncertainty, they feel far away from God, they're wrestling with personal demons, and the ex-gay world offers them a forum to explore their pain.
Right on.

Hat tip: Peterson Toscano

1 comment:

Pomoprophet said...

Hey buddy :)

LWO is coming to San Jose in April. I havent been in a few years. I may take my friend Ryan with me. I want to see my friends there but I also think it would be interesting to experience it with where I am at now. I wonder how much I will agree vs. disagree with.