Commenting on Eve Tushnet’s recent piece for NRO, Dave Rattigan at Ex-Gay Watch raises the issue of exaggerated claims by some ex-gay leaders. This has led to the posting of a series of comments on wide ranging topics from recent killings of autistic children by their own parents to the culture of dishonesty in the ex-gay movement. With the recent revelations of Focus on the Family distorting scientific data for their own purpose and Paul Cameroon doing much of the same (except without actual scientific data), I thought I would expand on comments I posted on Ex-Gay Watch.
Is it lying if one is deceived and really believes the message, even with all its duplicity?
Contemporary Evangelical Conservative Christianity can be an incredibly complex belief system with inconsistencies believers massaged away through myriad linguistic and interpretive devices.
The duality that exists of being in the world but not of the world, of being wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove, of being children of the Light in a world of darkness, automatically creates a double-speak. Elusive meanings in the recorded words of Jesus welcomes a sneakiness on the part of some Christians who pursue an agenda to save a lost and dying world–even by stealth and dishonesty.
When asked something in public, Jesus often provides ambiguous answers with multiple meanings. Jesus also presents a private message to his disciples in different words and nuance then he presents for the consumption of the masses.
Lots of ex-gay leaders believe that “change is possible” and skirt around the ambiguity of what that actually means. They question homosexuality, but can they question their own ex-gay ideology?
Even in their own churches, when they confess that God delivered them from homosexuality, they may mean something very different from what their ever-straight brethren interpret them saying.
I remember sharing my testimony of how God saved me from homosexuality. I conveniently left out the fact that I still experienced strong sexual attractions towards other men, sexual dreams (and daydreams) and at times masturbation that included fantasies of men.
I did not intend to be deceptive, but without fully realizing it, I capitalized on my audiences’ assumptions of what I chose to share with them. It is in this way many of us who lived as ex-gays were able to survive and even thrive in a Christian culture that violently opposes same-gender loving people.
Ex-gay leaders also desperately need to believe their message because it is more than a political platform, it is the basis of their lives and ministries. By questioning the duplicity of their words, they can lose so much, not only acceptance by the straight conservative church, but even the American dream of spouse and family they strive to enjoy. They believe their message with all its contradictions. Being deceived makes that much more effective in deceiving others.
With the stakes so high–the loss of support by conservative leaders, the loss of livelihood and family, the jeers of gay activists and the gay press that seize upon every inconsistency spoken by ex-gay leaders–I don’t doubt why many of these intelligent and creative men and women with same-sex desires adhere to teachings and talking points that mix “Biblical truth” with desperate fallacy.
In the words of Jesus,
The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.
Seems like the children of the light have since learned a trickery or two.