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by Kilian Melloy
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Gay = ’Broken?’

The author of one book, titled "Surviving Sexual Brokenness: What Grace Can Do," recently made the assertion that gay Christians must put aside their sexuality in order to be reunited with God. The writer, Thom Hunter, also claimed that pro-GLBT equality theologians were offering lies, and not broader truths about the human condition and human connection to God, when they promoted the idea of sexual minorities as being God’s children just as they are.

"A big part of the problem, Hunter said, is that mainstream Christian churches have often turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to members who struggle with sexual issues," an Oct. 21 press release promoting Hunter’s book said. "Culture has moved into fill that void with, he said, carefully-tweaked but attractive untruths."

"The church is woefully weak in its efforts to help members who struggle with homosexual temptations and who want to know what the Bible really says and means," Hunter declared.

"The record was dismal even before the pro-gay ’theologians’ realized they could usurp the position and play with the Word of God just enough look compassionate, curling their pointing finger to lure the exhausted with promises that they can live as they ’were intended’ and shake off all the weight of centuries of Biblical ignorance," added the book’s author. "They’re not told of the sorrow that eventually unfolds in the life of any Christian who puts anything above God."

The press release said that Hunter assigns culpability to both pro- and anti-gay people of faith, saying that "one side--pro-gay theologians--twist the truth, and the other, mainline Christian leaders--neglect it."

Hunter went on to frame the issue of one not of love and commitment, but one of selfishness.

"Embracing gay theology requires we believe God wants us place our personal satisfaction above His truth," the writer stated. "That should put a new twist on ’Love your neighbor as yourself.’ "

The book’s author equated innate feelings of sexual attraction, romance, and devotion to "temptation," the suggestion being that to explore those feelings is, by necessity, to fall into sinfulness.

"Just consider for a moment what the world would be like if we decided that we are all to be guided in our choices by whatever temptation we carry," Hunter said.

The writer also implied that theologians with a loving message of inclusiveness were deliberately and cynically manipulating gay people of faith for their own ends, saying, "Gay theologians are using Christian strugglers as pawns for their flawed understanding of Biblical instruction."

But as the message gays themselves have struggled to put across to their religiously-motivated detractors gradually takes root, and as science accumulates evidence that gays are the product of prenatal and physiological factors and do not "choose" their romantic or sexual orientations, even the most religiously anti-gay equality voices have begun to take on a different tenor.

Among them is John Smid, who once headed "ex-gay" group Love in Action. Smid recently owned up in his blog to the realization that gays are not turned into heterosexuals by programs like the one he previously directed. Moreover, Smid admitted that he is a gay man who remains gay despite being in a loving marriage with a female spouse--and, Smid wrote, he knew he was never going to change into a heterosexual man.

"One cannot repent of something that is unchangeable," Smid wrote in his blog, posted on the website for his new venture, a ministry called Grace Rivers.

"I also want to reiterate here that the transformation for the vast majority of homosexuals will not include a change of sexual orientation. Actually I’ve never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual," Smid added.

Part of Smid’s own conversion came from his eventual admission that gays can be, and are, people of integrity and good will. That insight came to Smid after he met filmmaker Morgan Jon Fox, whose documentary, "This Is What Love in Action Looks Like," examined the forced admission of a young man, then 16, into one of the group’s programs to turn him straight. The young man posted a message online about being forced into the program, and protesters showed up to lend him support and draw attention to the two months that he was held in the "ex-gay" facility.

"When Morgan and I met for the very first time right after the protest, what I saw in Morgan was a man of such character," Smid said to The Daily Beast, which ran a story about Smid on Oct. 13. "I saw someone who was humble, who was open to being honest, someone that I really felt drawn to.

"It just opened me up to realize I had not been willing to admit that there were gay people like Morgan," Smid added.

Fox also spoke to the publication, saying that he had heard Smid’s private musings about the ineffectual nature of "ex-gay" programs long before Smid publicly admitted that attempts to "cure" gays are useless.

"So the fact that he is now making those statements known on a public level is a huge leap," Fox told The Daily Beast.

That leap in comprehension was accompanied by some understanding of the harm such programs can cause. Mental health professionals have long warned that when "ex-gay" therapies fail to deliver, gays who have gone through the programs--and often have been told that they are destined to go to Hell for being gay--are liable to be cast into even deeper shame and despair. Smid offered a heartfelt invitation in his blog.

"If you have been wounded by me or harmed through the hands of my leadership," he wrote, "please come to me and allow an opportunity for me to personally apologize with the hope that we can both be released from the bondage of unforgiveness."

The Daily Beast talked to one participant in the program who not only was not "cured" but also created a theatrical work about his experiences.

"I don’t think he yet understands quite the damage and the harm he has done," said Peterson Toscano, whom the Daily Beast said had put himself through two years of Love in Action. "It was a very destructive process mentally, emotionally, spiritually, sexually--all across the board."

Toscano, in an Oct. 13 comment at Box Turtle Bulletin, called the methods used by Love in Action "psychological torture," and added, "It is a complicated and delicate matter when a former abuser admits wrong and seeks to rebuild [a] relationship."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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