Dear Rev. Gibson:
Thank you for the thoughtful article on CT's recent editorial.
Words do matter. Actions affect others.
I think that the Right (and I'm a card-carrying member of such) has been too shrill and condemning, in general. We both understand (if I assume, pardon me) that Exodus and Transforming ministries are very careful in what they promise and expect.
Most folks in the pews really do think that Christianity to the "active in homosexually oriented genital and emotional relations (feel better?)" man or woman who claims faith or no faith is just a matter of "take one altar call" and be straight, lusting after babes on the TV! I'm a pastor. How many times have I heard: "Why don't they just stop that behavior?"
In a way, that's what the RC ministry you mentioned is about. Stopping the behavior. It's weakness, as you well noted, is that it is widely understood as not dealing with the underlying "kink" in human nature that leads ot the behavior condemned (see above for name of the behavior). Transforming and Exodus ministries are most public and vocal about changing underlying needs and emotional problems which lead to THE behavior.
Exodus and Transforming ministries DO promise freedom from both the behavior, and eventually, a plateau in which fantasies and temptations are minimized. Is this wise to universalize some Christians' experience for all strugglers? My experience in ministering in this area shows that it may be unwise in the extreme. What the RC ministry noted in your article does is focus on what Scripture focuses: i.e., behavior. Both sides in the debate recognize (although I'm certain there are exceptions) that both the Torah, and the Letters focus on homosexually focused, genital and role-mixing behavior (whew!). IN THAT THE PROTESTANT MINISTRIES SEEM FOCUSED ON PSYCHOLOGY AND SUBJECTIVE STATES AND PERCEPTONS, THEY BETRAY A GRAVE WEAKNESS! Witness the brouhaha over Paulk being spotted in a gay bar. We should all say, "So what? He was tempted, wasn't he? Let's admonish him, pray for him, and support him, but let's NEVER claim that Paulk (or any other struggler) is free from temptation in this area."
I believe that we are afraid to deal with the Achilles' heel of the so-called "Ex-Gay" Movement; i.e., the fact that so many graduates, participants, and leaders have gone back into the "lifestyle (as it's called)." Maybe we need to recognize that some persons will wrestle with this SIN until the day they die, and provide ongoing, continual places for dealing with all that entails (sorta like "class meetings?" Hmmmm...)
Maybe U.M. Christians should be at the fore here with our rich heritage of "acounntable, optimistic grace," that was hammered out against both Reformed pessimism and Holiness gnosticism.
Well, that's enough.
Once again it is evident that the issue that gives conservatives fits is that, according to them, we are dealing with a sinful BEHAVIOR, and not gender ORIENTATION. For them it is a matter of doing, not being. Until that issue is resolved, and I doubt it ever will be, the split will continue ad nauseum. Two of our sons are gay. Gay is who they are, not what they do. I don't know what they do in their relationships, but I also don't know what Mr. Gibson does in his. Would he want to be judged by his sexual practices.....or lack thereof? I don't think so.
Russell Hawkins Hawker4283@aol.com
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