You are Not a Sexual Repairman

18 Jul, 2011

Sexuality is such a strange and glorious thing. It has so much good attached to it- personality, attraction, acceptance, expression, love, passion, romance, rapture; and the potential for a lot of other strings as well – fear, rejection, pain, humiliation, guilt, shame, etc. There are no guarantees, and there is no clear cut set of rules to make healthy sexuality an easy path to walk.

As much as we’d like to simplify sexuality and our relationships, we can’t. Even the Bible is full of weird stuff when it comes to sex – there is sex with angels, sex around temples and religious expression, godly heroes with multiple spouses, a wise king who bedded 1000 women, rules to impregnate your widowed sister-in-law, having offspring via servants in your household, curses for seeing your dad naked (and maybe more), women who use their sexuality to make men do what they want (Ruth and Esther), Paul saying it is better to be single in one breath and then saying it is better to marry (than to burn) in the next. It all gets rather complicated; much more than our Sunday School teachers try to delicately teach around.

Reality is that you can follow all the “rules” and restrict yourself to first and second base until you are married and still find that sex is a physical and emotional minefield.

One of the more talked about issues these days is homosexuality. In case you haven’t noticed there are some people who are attracted to their own gender- a pretty good percentage of them. I grew up being told it was all behavioral and/or spiritual. If that is the case, then the “cure” would be to change their thinking that was at the root of their misbehaving, and the “healing” would be to minister to the hole in the individual that was being filled with this counterfeit orientation. It is out of this worldview that the Reparative Therapy ministries sprung up. This is the ministry that attempts to heal people of homosexual tendencies, leanings, and behaviors. You could send your son or daughter to a weekend camp, weeklong seminar, or several months of rehab in hopes of getting them turned around.

The ministry has had mixed results. For some (especially I think those who use sex as a coping mechanism and addiction), their acting out and experimenting was more of a behavioral issue. Some of these folks found the conversion therapy to bring them some desired freedom. I have friends that fit this category. Yet there are other people who this ministry has just caused much more pain and confusion.

I don’t know if there is a gay gene or not (though I do know a gay, Gene), but I’m convinced that some people have a same-sex orientation. Again, I’ve grown up in a belief system that didn’t allow for this thinking and was told that homosexual tendencies came from outside experiences and environments. But the problem is I know homosexual men who haven’t acted out sexually, who weren’t abused, who had loving mother and fathers, who grew up in church, who love Jesus, etc. I’ve had gay friends date and marry women in order to fit in to what was acceptable to those of us around them. (These relationships didn’t end pretty and it was especially horrible for these amazing, loving girlfriends/wives.)  I have friends who have tried everything they could to change their physical, emotional, and relational orientation–including doing everything that these camps tell you to do–but it hasn’t converted them.

I was responsible for sending a couple of friends to this kind of therapy. It was not helpful for either of them, but instead brought up more hurt, confusion, and disillusionment. Through this experience I started to really question how I understood this whole issue. I’ve since apologized to both of these friends and stopped trying to “fix” them.

In this post today I am not trying to change what you believe about homosexuality (God help me, I’m trying to get over this whole fixing issue), but I am trying to bring attention to a major pitfall of what I’ve seen in Reparative Therapy. I’m hoping you can look at this ministry from a different perspective than what you may have already adopted.

Please, please, please read the story (five pages) that Kyle Luebke shares on Liz Dwyer’s blog of being forced to go to Reparative Therapy. Then once you get to the end, read the reply that his mentor in the Love in Action program, John Smid, wrote in comments section.

I’d love to hear your comments, but only if you first read what both Kyle and John have to share.

Pinging is currently not allowed5 Responses

  1. It's a very eye opening read, and for me smacks of religion that focuses on doing instead of receiving.

    I do believe that God created the world to function in a certain way, and that was reflected in the Garden of Eden.

    We were naked. We were unashamed. We were vegetarians. We were walking daily with God. We had not killed. We were not going to die.

    What ended this blissful existence, and dramatically ended the paradise of the proper order of things, was our doubt of the Father's good intentions for us, and our feeble attempts to hide our sin (and ourselves) from the All-Knowing God.

    The consequence was severe; we were separated from Him, and ultimately, He died so that we might live.

    I believe now, between His resurrection and return, we must walk out this timeframe of a still shattered world, one that awaits the final restoration, with patience and grace for each other.

    And, I have come to understand that some of these struggles, or whatever we want to call them, will never be solved by any kind of program. They are, instead, a part of our journey, our heritage, the testimony of the thorns in our sides. Paul had his thorns, whatever they were, and he accredited them to God, as a means of keeping him humble.

    Some things, for whatever reason, we are destined to walk with. But I have to believe that, in spite of all this, He gives us the strength to live, daily, in accordance with His Word. Yes, there is much brokenness and atrocity, violent, sexual, blasphemous and cowardly, in the Bible, but this is not an endorsement for such behavior.

    It is, instead, simply letting the story unfold as He wills it, without controlling the image of its supposed heroes (something I greatly admire the Bible for).

    But I know many that would disagree with me on the authority and validity of what I still believe to be His Word. And that is another grace that I, as a Bible believer, must have for others.

    The only one capable of judging honestly is the One Without Sin. As for me, I cling mightily to His grace!!

  2. Karen says:

    Wow, I thank you Chad for posting the link to this story. Reading Kyle's story and the beautiful apology of his mentor, has had quite an effect on me.

  3. Crispin says:

    Thanks for the post Chad. I think this issue is much more complex than modern American Christianity has made it. My heart breaks for folks who feel they have to live a lie when it comes to their sexuality. All Christians struggle with certain things they are ashamed to bring God (even though he is already aware of them). I spent many years as a Christian trying to look like I had it all together. The truth is that I hated things about myself and certain struggles and kept my life hidden in shame for so long. Real change in my spiritual life has come as I have accepted who I am and realized that God accepts me as I am.

    A friend of mine recently attended a small group where the leader talked of wanting people to be open and honest about their struggles without fear of judgement. Then he switched to condemning Jennifer Knapp for coming out of the closet as a lesbian. My friend confronted him afterwards and the guy really couldn't see how incongruous his words and actions were. Unfortunately this seems all to common in church. A person can struggle with alcohol, drugs, food, and/or porn and find the acceptance of others yet if a person admits to having homosexual attraction the walls go up. I don't think anyone can grow in their relationship with God without realizing his love and acceptance. This is the saddest part of this issue because I feel like many are simply erecting barriers to certain members of society finding God's love.

  4. Esau says:

    I am in agreement with you Chad that human sexuality is an enormously complex issue. Consequentially Christians and the church have caused tremendous harm with over simplified answers, and hypocrisy. For example the pastor who condemns homosexuality, while committing adultery. Or the ministry leader fighting against gay rights, when she is addicted to pornography. Or that most of today's church measures their own appropriate sexual conduct by the new testament, and the LGBT community's sexual conduct by the old testament.
    Those in the church who see homosexuality as the fall of American culture, in re-examining their beliefs, might find that tolerance, patience, understanding & kindness are the root of democracy, and the foundation of Christ's love.

  5. Scott Benjamin says:

    Once again, thanks Chad for your Grace filled post and for sharing Kyle's story. The story of sexual struggle (hetero/homo) and the great blessings and devastation that go along with them are many. The complexity of addiction/orientation/other and how to walk with young people through those things is challenging, especially as a parent of two high school daughters. They have friends that are openly LGBT in high school, and I pray that we have taught them a better way than "love the sinner, hate the sin" mentality that I promoted in the church. I pray that they are able to show grace and love in the same way I would want them to show a heterosexual friend who was sexually active or struggling with thoughts/feelings/desires. I would say that I do have a concern for young people labeling/identifying themselves early on based on feelings and even sexual experimentation as I can't even imagine the complexity of being a teen today. How different may Kyle's story have turned out (and I am not saying it turned out badly, just thinking out loud…) if his parent's re-acted differently? If I am honest with myself, I would still say that the fabric of society is built upon a man/woman relationship creating a family. I am on a journey of learning and growing and this is definitely one of those areas where I am challenging long held opinions and beliefs. May the Love of Christ win in me and others.

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