President of DignityUSA
During February, 2006 we are seeing billboards along St. Louis, MO highways advertising the "Love Won Out" conference sponsored by Focus on the Family and Exodus International, two related Christian organizations. The signs show a man saying: "I Questioned Homosexuality. Change is Possible. Discover How."
It is vitally important to present an alternative Christian faith perspective. My Catholic faith tradition and many other religious traditions teach that faith is not contrary to reason or scientific knowledge, but in harmony with them.
The American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association and many other professional medical, psychiatric, social science, and teaching organizations oppose any psychiatric treatments and therapies to change one's homosexual orientation. Officials with both Focus and Exodus say those stances are politically motivated and are not shared by everyone in their respective professions. This is a serious distortion of the truth. There is no non-religious, scientific, professional organization that endorses the Exodus stance. Indeed, many consider it professionally unethical. Telling someone who has no illness that they must undergo a “cure” is an extremely dishonest use of the serious responsibilities of anyone offering spiritual guidance or other counseling.
It is true that a small number of bisexual persons may be able to live a healthy heterosexual lifestyle. Exodus has several such anecdotal stories. However, that does not change the fact that these individuals are still bisexual. For the much larger community of homosexuals, no change can occur in their sexual identity. Analogously, wearing brown-colored contact lenses does not change the underlying color of the eyes of a blue-eyed person. Advocating such change for homosexuals is emotional and spiritual violence. Would you really want your daughter to marry a gay man or your son to marry a lesbian woman? How much better it would be for everyone if homosexual people were more widely supported by society and our churches in finding the love and intimacy of marriage with a person of the same gender.
Exodus refuses to conduct or to publish peer-reviewed professional studies that show the long-term success and failure rate of the treatments they advocate. On the other hand, professional studies do attest to the damage their approach can cause. Furthermore, we know that two men actively involved in the early founding days of Exodus eventually divorced their wives and entered into the equivalent of a homosexual marriage. Suppressing the self-knowledge and wisdom and love these two men gained as they attempted to live what they preached in Exodus is a further distortion of the truth.
It is now well established by the medical, biological and social sciences that homosexuality is a natural, normal variation of human sexuality and that it occurs among other sexual creatures as well. To believe otherwise is far outside the mainstream of human knowledge about sexuality as it has developed over the past century. Many people of faith now also understand that homosexuality is part of God’s creation and a divine gift -- as is all healthy sexuality. Sexuality is not nasty or dirty; God does not create junk. Heterosexuals, bisexuals and homosexuals are all created in God’s image. God’s ways are beyond human understanding. Unfortunately, some religious extremists seem determined to remake God in their own narrow image.
Some bisexual and homosexual persons and their families come to Focus and Exodus to reconcile their sexuality with their spirituality. The Focus and Exodus stance presents serious misinformation in not clearly acknowledging that all major Christian denominations, as well as other faiths, have open and affirming faith communities that love and fully accept gay and lesbian individuals and couples as they are. Love and intimacy and faith can and do occur in homosexual couples and families as well as in heterosexual ones. To disavow or hide this is further misinformation.
Telling a person who is struggling to integrate their sexuality with their spirituality that they must change to be loved by God or by their neighbor is a deeply hostile and damaging act. This most certainly is not based in any scriptural understanding of God as brought to the world in the new covenant of Jesus Christ in the Christian Testament of the Bible, where God is pure love and only love. Love is unconditional or it is not love at all.
Truth, love and faith all lead to a healthy approach to life for homosexuals much different from the distorted, emotionally and spiritually violent path advocated by Focus on the Family and Exodus. Love needs no cure.