Friday, July 27, 2007

EC Founder Responds to "Ex-gay" Claims

In the current issue of Review, the quarterly publication of Evangelicals Concerned (EC), Dr. Ralph Blair, founder of EC (and pictured below) responds to two recently published articles supportive of the “ex-gay” movement and its various claims.

What’s this got to do with homosexuality and Catholicism?

Well, while it’s true that the Catholic hierarchy doesn’t espouse the more outlandish claims of the “ex-gay” movement (such as the benefits of
reparative therapy), an undeniable sense of shame around the homosexual orientation and its expression is nevertheless shared by both the “ex-gay” movement and “official” elements within the Catholic Church, such as the Courage apostolate - which disavows the term “gay” in favor of “same-sex attracted.” (See the previous Wild Reed posts: The Real Meaning of Courage and The Many Forms of Courage.)

Accordingly, Marten Woudstra’s “wise words of sound biblical scholarship and loving pastoral care” quoted towards the end of Blair’s commentary are applicable to any and all Christians – Catholic or Protestant, conservative or progressive, gay or straight.

In addition, the remarks of theologian Paul King Jewett that conclude Blair’s article are ones that many in positions of authority within the Catholic Church need to hear and reflect upon.

But don’t take my word for it, read for yourself the wisdom contained in Ralph Blair’s commentary.


Comments on
“The Road to Healing” by Anonymous

(Christianity Today, April 2007)
“My Secret Struggle with Same-Sex Attraction”
by Julie Lyons

(Charisma, May 2007)

By Dr. Ralph Blair
Summer 2007
Vol. 32. No. 3

Can we assume that the editors of Christianity Today and Charisma still believe the “ex-gay” claims they publish? Or do they publish them so that they might not perish at the hands of anti-gay constituencies? Here’s a little quiz to calculate credulity. Suppose you have a daughter at a good Christian college. She says she’s dating a very nice young man who loves the Lord and, by the way, he’s “ex-gay.” Would you be worried? Months later, she says she’s no longer dating him. Now she’s dating another very nice young man who loves the Lord and, by the way, he’s never been gay. Would you be relieved? Your honest answers to these two questions reveal your confidence in “ex-gay” claims.

And yet, even after years of “ex-gay” scandal, failed promises and naive or willful ignorance, evangelical editors and preachers continue to push the “ex-gay” claims.

Chuck Smith, Jr., evangelical leader whose father heads the Calvary Chapel movement, says: “Having spent my entire life within one Evangelical faith community or another, I am convinced that the majority of those Christians with that same background simply do not understand homosexuality.” [Believe me, the same can be said about those in the Catholic hierarchy who pen ill-informed documents such as this.]

That’s true but tragic, for he goes on to say: “On the other side of the issue, we find gays and lesbians who have become so accustomed to being slammed, denounced and rejected by Christians, that they have given up on the religion of Jesus Christ because they find its prejudice against them incapable of providing them compassion, understanding or hope.”

Indeed, as Anonymous says: “I have found very few conservative churches where it is safe to struggle in this area.”

According to Anonymous, “there’s no quick fix.” But is there a “fix” at all? His double-talk says there isn’t. First he denies that homosexual lust is the issue. Then he concludes: “In my early years, I concluded I was gay because of my thoughts and desires”. Yes — as others conclude in their early years that they’re heterosexual because of their thoughts and desires. “I no longer believe that I am gay.”

How’s that? “I am a new person in Christ.” And that means what? “I am a heterosexual man who struggles at times with homosexual thoughts.” A heterosexual man who struggles with homosexual thoughts? This is what Christianity Today heralds as “The Road to Healing”?

In the 1970s, hoopla about breasts growing back, after double mastectomy and prayer, turned out to be a hoax. Christianity Today editor Harold Lindsell then cautioned about gullibility when it comes to “healings”. But antigay editors don’t welcome such caution these days. Charisma sought my critique of “ex-gay” claims. Then they decided their article was too long to include my cautionary comments. Of course, there was plenty of room for all the “ex-gay” testimonials that fit Charisma’s agenda.

Although sexual orientation in women is more fluid than in men, in Lyons’ story for Charisma, it doesn’t appear that she ever was attracted sexually to women. Recalling what she calls “a strong
attraction for other girls,” she’s clear “it had nothing to do with sex” and notes repeatedly that, in adolescence, she experienced “sexual attraction to boys.” She asserts: “I never had a sexual relationship with a woman, adopted a lesbian identity or participated in that lifestyle.” And yet, she adds: “the desire for a woman’s love and affection remained, compounded by fantasizing and continued loneliness.”

Then, just before she married, she says a “Spirit-filled Christian counselor broke off me a curse of ‘sexual perversion’ in my family.” Lyons doesn’t explain further what that was about, though she says her relationship with her parents was “very good,” contrary to what she notes Christian counselors purport to be true for gay men and lesbians. Lyons testimony is a bit confusing. But she admits “sexual orientation is a mystery” and warns that, “many ministers and Christian teachers arrogantly assume there are easy answers to these questions. There aren’t.”

And while many ministers and Christian teachers arrogant1y assume there are easy answers to these questions in a few woodenly applied Bible verses [or in Roman Catholicism’s case, a number of ill-informed church teachings] on “homosexuality,” there aren’t. For example, in the mid-l980s, Marten Woudstra was asked by fellow conservatives to give his insights on homosexuality and the Bible. As chair of Old Testament translation for the NW Bible, president of the Evangelical Theological Society, longtime professor at Calvin Seminary and author of the New International Commentary on Joshua, he was, obviously, a recognized evangelical scholar. He stated: “I do not think the Old Testament and New Testament texts are all that clear to warrant a strongly negative stand of the Christian church.”

He said there was, rather, a real need to raise “the more general question of love that is the fulfillment of law and of love doing no harm to the neighbor. (Rom 13:10).” Woudstra concluded: “I think, as those who love the inerrant Word of God, we want to be doubly sure that we read that Word correctly. Jesus says that His yoke is easy and His burden light. Let us make sure that as we put a burden on anyone such as complete celibacy we do so because we are 100% sure that this is Jesus’ burden. Otherwise we should leave this to the individual conscience.”

Those were wise words of sound biblical scholarship and loving pastoral care. They should instruct us these days. With over three decades of tortured testimonies from “ex-gays” and the disillusionment of former “ex-gays” who now want nothing more to do with a Christianity that hyped hypocrisy and peddled a “snake oil” of self-help instead of the salve of salvation and sanctification by grace, it’s high time for serious Christians to extend Golden Rule love to all — as Christ calls us to do in a crystal clear commandment.

It’s well to recall the words of Fuller Seminary theologian Paul King Jewett: “We are left with the feeling that the church has overdone it, no matter how you cut it, and that homosexuals have certainly suffered more wrong than they have committed, and that there must be flaws in whatever theology of nature or hierarchy of sins has made homosexuality be viewed as the nadir of depravity. This feeling increases when one becomes acquainted with responsible, Christian, homosexual people.”

Ralph Blair

A special “thank you” to my friend Rick for bringing this commentary by Ralph Blair to my attention.

Recommended Off-site Links:
Evangelicals Concerned
Box Turtle Bulletin

See also the related Wild Reed posts:
The Stumbling Block of Fundamentalism
The Quackery of Paul Cameron Exposed – Again!
Johnson and Tushnet Debate is as Much About Revelation as it is Homosexuality
The Dreaded “Same-Sex Attracted” View of Catholicism
The Real Meaning of Courage
The Many Forms of Courage
Trusting God’s Generous Invitation
A Catholic Bibliography on Gay Issues


Anonymous said...

C'mon Michael! Everyone knows that SSA happens when you masturbate too much. It's been well documented.

just kidding... Thanks for sharing. B

Anonymous said...

Woudstra concluded: “I think, as those who love the inerrant Word of God, we want to be doubly sure that we read that Word correctly. Jesus says that His yoke is easy and His burden light. Let us make sure that as we put a burden on anyone such as complete celibacy we do so because we are 100% sure that this is Jesus’ burden. Otherwise we should leave this to the individual conscience.”

A powerful quote applicable to many, many things in life.


Rick Brentlinger said...


Thank you for posting Ralph Blair's interesting article. One gets the impression the Holy Spirit is constantly speaking to the church universal through people like Dr. Blair, Dr. Woudstra, Dr. Jewett, Chuck Smith and so many others and the church just turns a deaf ear to their message.

Rick Brentlinger