Thursday, June 22, 2006

Christ Sanctioned Lying?

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.


At 2:33 PM , Blogger Jonathan said...

I recently read somewhere that Ted Haggart, Senior Pastor of the 11k member New Life Church in Colorado Springs and President of the NEA (National Evangelical Association) said that there are things that don't need to be made public. It's not actually "lying" according to him, just doesn't serve the "purpose" so no need to put it out for public consumption. Hmmmm...

In James Dobson's War on America former Dobson right hand man, Gil Alexander-Moegerle observed that "one of Jim's worst traits is that of demonizing those who differ with him by exaggerating or omitting part of their reasoning in order to make their views seem preposterous."

I don't see how this is following the teachings of Christ at all. I don't see how twisting people's words is anything more than scurrilous, wrapped in the name of Christianity. If Christians are and should be held to a higher standard, then bearing false witness is wrong...plain and simple. My brother recently said to me that the most perplexing thing about christendom today is it's move toward the idea that "the end justifies the means." The church world use to decry that type of behavior...but now, it appears more and more like it's accepting it.

Why lie if you've got Christ on your side?


At 8:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suspect that many of these folks are well-meaning. However, the deliberately, egregiously unscientific "scientific" research (I use the term lightly here) is of a sort that wouldn't pass muster in a high-school psychology class. It is clearly very deliberate. And the sheer ignorance of it scares me.

1) the folks writing these articles (Cameron, et al) are GROSSLY uneducated; or
2) deliberately malicious/slandering

There is no other explanation. It seems quite clear to me, too, that #2 is what is going on here. Definitely a "by any means necessary" kind of survival tactic.

Tom D.
(who is still trying to recover psychologically from the fact that you won't be visiting him this weekend)

At 9:35 AM , Blogger Eugene said...

It's the same reasoning that the Church once employed to justify the torture and execution of heretics and Jews - namely, the ends (saving people's souls from eternal damnation and ushering in the Kingdom of God) are so overridingly urgent as to justify any and all means of achieving them. With such goals in mind, Christian ethics can't be allowed to get in the way.

At 10:15 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me see if I can add insight from a straight spouse's point of view. In our early years (35+ years ago), my gay husband (who was not my husband yet) was told that if he married a good woman, acted straight, had kids, behaved "normally," then he would not be homosexual. He would be accepted, and he believed this lie.

Now, I will say that he married a very good woman! We had 4 great kids, and we lived a successful life.

What I didn't know was that he was and is gay. He has lived with this unfortunate lie and he has suffered tremendously by not being able to live his identity. He has lived with depression, self-hatred, and shame - just because he was hiding his homosexuality, and trying to be someone he was not and is not. No longer can he continue to lie. He is out to a new group of friends, and he is starting to make a new life. I commend him for this, even though we are separated and my/our hurt is beyond description.

He holds Christians to blame - because he was never told the truth by those he trusted. His faith is shattered, we live apart, and we can't share this pain with our friends because most put their heads in the sand and don't understand why he can't just keep pretending.

Keep speaking out in truth. Some will hear and some will not. Just keep on!

At 5:05 PM , Blogger Peterson Toscano said...

Anonymous, thank you for sharing your experience. Often it is the straight spouses of queer folks and ex-gays who become the invisible and often silenced victims of homophobia in the world.

As I write in my post What About the Spouse?, "Now I know there are married "ex-gay" leaders who claim they have successful and happy marriages. I cannot say if that is really the case; only time will tell. The motivation for a family and the accountability of a national ministry can help hold a couple together for many years.

But isn't it beyond cruel to sanction a union between a man and a woman when one of the two knows and feels daily that s/he does nothing to arouse the sensual passion in the other? They proceed in the sex act out of obedience and obligation and a stretch of faith, but neither can be fully present in the love making.

(Gay marriage DOES undermined the sanctity of marriage--that is when a gay man and a heterosexual woman enter into the marriage contract and are expected to perform miracles in the bedroom.)"

Thanks again for sharing so much of yourself.


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