Recently on an Ex-Ex-gay Yahoo listserve group, I received a series of e-mails denouncing and trying to get their minds around a a Spanking for Jesus ministry (okay that is a gross generalization of the discussion).
I cannot help but think how this relates to “ex-gay” ministries.
Kort suggests that with “ex-gay” therapies someone in a position of authority (church or “ex-gay” leader) imposes his/her sexuality or concept of sexuality (heterosexual/”ex-gay”) on someone who looks up to them for guidance and protection. Kort concludes that this is a form of sexual abuse, not explicit where people are physically molested, but implicit where someone uses their position to force a sexual belief onto another.
When questioned, most “ex-gay” workers say they do what they do out of their spiritual convictions, as part of their ministry. They do it for God and in Jesus’ name. But like sexual predators and abusers, do they also get power over others through implicit sexual abuse?
If we consider Exodus’ shift of focus where they now explicitly target youth, this concept of sexual predator in the form of Christian ministry comes into even sharper focus.
Many times in my “ex-gay” experience, I’ve been told that there is a connection between sexual abuse and same-sex attraction. From what they say a high percentage of the folks attending “ex-gay” programs have been sexually abused. They point out that this group represents a higher percentage than the national averages. They then conclude that means the national averages are wrong proving that sexual abuse is a cause of same-sex attractions and one’s involvement in the “gay lifestyle”.
What these folks don’t take into account is that many of us who had been abused sexually as children had become vulnerable to further abuse at the hands of other abusers, including “ex-gay” ministries. Because of our abuse, we were susceptible to the messages within the conservative church and the”ex-gay” ministries that there is something fundamentally wrong with us and that we need to change, we need to be cleansed, we need to be made new.
Unwittingly playing off of the shame of unresolved sexual abuse, the “ex-gay” ministries lure those who had already been abused by others thus extended the abuse even further (and Spank us for Jesus!)
I explore this further in How Sexual Abuse Made me “Ex-Gay”.
Would love to hear other people’s thoughts and experiences.