This is a big blow to the "ex-gay movement"
Sully points out that the leading British pastoral couseling movement to steer self-loathing gays to psychotherapy or religion, Courage, has thrown in the towel. They’ve gotten a sign from above to stop trying to “cure” gay folks.
New Developments at Courage by Jeremy Marks: …When Courage began in 1988, I shared the view commonly held amongst conservative evangelical Christians that, according to the Bible, we are all made male and female and that the union of a man and a woman fulfils God’s purposes for mankind with godly marriage and family life forming the essential building blocks for a stable society. I still hold firmly to that view.
…After ten years, however, six spent running residential discipleship courses, followed by years of weekly group meetings, it was increasingly clear that however repentant people were, and however much dedication and effort they put into seeking change, none were really ‘successful’ in the long term in ‘dealing with the deeper issues’. This is not to say that people gained no benefit! Many matured greatly. A few married (though their same-sex attractions remain an ongoing issue for them). But the kind of change everyone really hoped for – to re-orientate and reach a point where their struggle with being gay was over – remained elusive. We never saw the fruit we longed for.
But many gay Christians have suffered too, facing a life of inner conflict and loneliness with courage, as they renounced the possibility of a gay relationship. Celibacy, it seemed, was still the only option for a gay Christian.
Yet the word celibacy is not to be found anywhere in the Bible. The idea of ‘renouncing marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven’ was introduced by Jesus (Matthew 19:12) and supported by Paul (1 Corinthians 7:7). But they are clear: singleness is a gift. In fact, insistence upon celibacy has no biblical support.
Nevertheless the Church still demands celibacy for all unmarried people. Under this pressure, I’ve seen many folk become seriously disillusioned over the years. Some became deeply depressed and hopeless, even suicidal; others embraced a more ‘liberal’ theology and sought gay relationships. Some just lost their faith altogether – a tragic conclusion that I found heart-breaking, as a pastor committed to helping people find their hope in Christ.
In contrast, I saw that those who began, on their own initiative, to embrace the possibility of a gay relationship, benefited greatly. Common to all was an underlying longing for companionship and intimacy – a heart-longing, not merely a craving to pursue gay sex! So I realised that to dismiss erotic intimacy between gay men merely as the pursuit of lust was to seriously misjudge the situation. Gay relationships, entered into sincerely, with mutual commitment, provide value and a sense of belonging. And when Christ has central place, people’s morale – above all their hope in God – recovers.
So, where does that leave the ex-gay movement here in the States? Do they have any other, more effective tricks up their sleeve? What do brethren Falwell and Phelps think of this?
Falwell and Rev. Fred “God Hates Fags” Phelps.