Glamour magazine features ex-ex-gay

Glamour has a story about Christine Bakke, an alum of several ex-gay ministries, who is now ex-ex-gay. Although the brief historical review in the article is pointless fluff, the bulk of the piece reviews Ms. Bakke’s conflicts between her charismatic faith and upbringing, and her growing awareness of attractions to women.

There is much there of interest to those who work in this vineyard. Her experience made me wonder something that may be a point of discussion here. Perhaps it is an illusory correlation, but it appears to me that ex-ex-gay accounts often include some time in charismatic churches/ministries. Ms. Bakke was raised in such a home. I am not completely sure from the article where she now sees herself religiously, but my read between the lines makes me wonder if she could perhaps be described as “ex-charismatic” as well as ex-ex-gay.

Her story of being in a healing service and claiming her true nature as “the woman God created me to be” reminded me of the Montel segment where Peterson Toscano (also a partner in the venture) described his three exorcisms. I recall researching John Evans story and reading that he experienced “deliverance ministry” which yielded no such outcome.

I know I am venturing into deep waters here. Full disclosure; I am not a charismatic, never have been and am quite distrustful of “words of knowledge,” “deliverance ministry,” “inner healing prayer,” and the like. But with innocent curiosity, I raise a question for ex-gays and ex-ex-gays alike: Could it be that charismatically based expectations for dramatic, rapid and complete “healing” from same-sex attractions lead to unnecessary frustration, spiritual doubt and disillusionment? Another way of addressing the question might be: To properly conduct sexual identity ministry in the charismatic tradition, is it necessary to raise expectations of divine healing?

37 thoughts on “Glamour magazine features ex-ex-gay”

  1. Gordo, Believe me, I know about the stereotype…and that it IS a stereotype. My concern has long been that gay people brand so many things as coming from ‘their gay part’ when, in fact, those things aren’t sexual in themselves.

    I’ve been told I have a gay laugh…whatever that might mean…but even gay people find my laugh unusual. I’m a bit obsessive about coordinating colors but, since I do most of my clothes shopping at Target, I would hardly consider that a gay thing…but I used to think it was. I was told ‘straight men don’t wear curly hair’ but–back when I had hair–it was naturally curly.

    I’m not sure what you mean by sensuality or intimacy that isn’t about sex. I’m guessing it ties in to Timothy’s statement about holding and kissing. In my mind there are no absolutes here mostly due to cultural differences. I’ve met many people who are far more physically demonstrative than I was raised to be…they don’t just give a ‘brotherly hug-pat, pat-separate’, they hug like they mean it. I get the impression that there is a special message in the hug but that it isn’t sexual. And, largely due to my small stature, men-both Christian and not-have always had a tendency to lift me off the floor when they hug me. Occasionally this would spur a sexual response in me but usually nothing more than embarrassment. (It was an odd relief when I noticed that long hugs or kisses from any woman other than mom also made me uncomfortable.)

    I’ve known a few who ‘greeted the brethren with a holy kiss’ but I was always a bit awkward about that. Although I knew that THEY meant nothing sexual by it, my own inner-tapes couldn’t separate kissing from sex. I honestly felt like my cheek was on fire from the confused feelings the kiss would spur in me. (Note: even the confused feelings weren’t necessarily sexual…sometimes more of the embarrassment.)

    Anyway, since culturally I regard any male to male physicality beyond the brotherly hug and holy kiss as some form of foreplay to an actual encounter or a fantasy, I draw my own line right there. There were several times in bible school when I actually gave and received a back massage. I’ll admit I was probably overly cautious about this and only participated when it seemed the only option over paying for a chiropractor visit.

    I try to steer clear of sensuality but intimacy is another story. I believe there are biblical models for non-sexual intimacy…’a friend who sticketh closer than a brother’…and I’ve had a number of friends who I could literally share (confide, discuss) ANYthing with. We had no secrets; I knew their struggles and they knew mine. We ministered side by side, prayed together, attended the same classes, had friends in common. Early on, I fell in love with my ministry partner in bible school. It was another close male friend who noticed I seemed ‘agitated’ and got me to confide what was going on. He offered me brotherly support and counsel and, yes, an affirming hug and then sent me off to confess my struggle to the friend I was in love with. Both friends were amazing. No judgement, no stand-offishness; they both took pains to understand what it must be like for me and drew parallels from their own straight experiences. Both friendships actually grew as a result of this.

    The friend I was in love with said words that remain with me some 30 years later. “I know you’re kicking yourself…that you’re ashamed and embarrassed but, brother, you amaze me! Here you are living among a bunch of guys in the dorms, forming close and deep friendships, yet this is the first time I’ve seen you really struggle. If I were living in the girl’s dorm with my past sin parading around in front of me in bra and panties, I’m sure I’d be having a struggle ALL the time.” Talk about intimacy! (Up til then, even I hadn’t realized some of the unique temptations I faced in a dormitory environment.)

    The power of the sexual obsession with him diminished almost instantly. I firmly believe that the intimacy of these talks satisfied the need I felt for sexual intimacy.

    It wasn’t a one-time lesson, BTW. It seems every time that a male friend in my life would transition from ‘acquaintance’ to ‘true friend’, I would have at least momentary feelings of ‘being in’ or ‘falling in’ love.

    Other words that I learned in school also helped. One teacher asked us if we’d ever seen or heard of a counterfeit dollar bill. We hadn’t. At about $20 some of us chimed in. Then he asked if we’d be fooled by a counterfeit bill printed in the wrong color or in an odd size. Duh! “Well, that’s the way sin works. Satan always counterfeits something of value and that counterfeit always looks like the real thing.” For me, intimacy was that ‘something of value’.

    Beyond that, I feel that my Christian experience has taught me that when I’m to the point of CRAVING intimacy, it’s usually a sign that ‘something’s amiss’ within me. I want that other person to affirm me, anchor me, reassure me, validate me. So, more often than not, I’ll do a little self-examination and see if me and God can’t fix that emotional glitch ourselves. In my mind, everything short of the ‘craving’ is not sexual and is not temptation. The ‘craving’ is the point of temptation but even IT isn’t necessarily sexual…depends what turns up in the self-exam. If the ‘craving’ IS sexual, God sure isn’t surprised that my thoughts or your thoughts will be thinking ‘another man’. And, if you or I give in to the ‘craving’ or temptation, I don’t see it as any more sinful than a straight Christian man doing the same things with a woman he’s not married to. (Well, THEY might even get away with kissing but are supposed to avoid 2nd base.)

    Gordo, I’ve appreciated your comments and challenges for their sincerity. You’ve actually made me think this through and articulate it as I’ve never had to before. I know you might not agree but I hope, at least, you’ll understand why I see it as I do.

  2. Gordo and Timothy, I see the distinction BEFORE desire rather than after. Desire is usually the precise point when temptation begins.

    You made an interesting side comment to Tim. My thinking is that if you ONLY ‘want to be their best friend’, then I don’t know why you see that as gay? Don’t straight men have other males they spend time with? Don’t they often even have a close bud? (He’s the one often called to be best man at a wedding.) Seems to me you can admire, respect, joke with, confide in, dine with, attend concerts, movies or shows, hug, laugh, cry, gripe, fish, bike, swim, canoe with…another man without it being sexual or sexually motivated. Now, if it isn’t even sexual, why would you perceive it as homosexual? And if it’s neither sexual or homosexual, I can’t see it as temptation until DESIRE comes into play. Sin would be determined by how you responded to the desire. Did you toy with it? Did you fan the flames a bit? IMHO, that would be sin. Otherwise, not.

    So, if you’re having a pleasant conversation with a handsome man and 1) you’re not trying to seduce him 2) you’re not sizing him up as a potential husband-short or long term 3) the focus of your conversation is not sex, guys or gay-gossip and 4) you aren’t planning to use fantasies of him later, I simply can’t see that as sexual, at all. And certainly not sin.

  3. Ed,

    I’m fascinated by men in the same ways that straight men are fascinated by women. I desire intimacy with men. Unfortunately there’s this ugly sterotype that gay men are about sex, sex, sex. The desire that Tim and I are joking about is not about sex but it is sensual and intimate.

  4. Calling it “incoherent” is a discussion stopper; attacking the belief won’t get us anywhere either.

    I’m not attacking anyone’s beliefs. I’m just asking whether this distinction between desire and what?! – I don’t know – makes any sense at all.

    You have to conceed that it’s pretty important to Ed’s statement. I’m not willing to let him get away with separating sin from non-sin on a quibble.

    @Tim – I read somewhere where a man said, and I’m paraphrasing, “I’m gay not because I want to have sex with every attractive man I meet, but because I want to be their best friend.” At the ripe old and geriatric age of 48 I’d agree 100%.

  5. Let’s say I’m walking down the street and I notice a good-looking guy and then I go right back to what I was thinking about. That’s orientation but it isn’t temptation. I didn’t think to look twice, to undress him with my eyes, to fantasize being with him, to get his phone number, to ‘hook up’…I simply ‘noticed’. Even ‘looking twice’ might not qualify as temptation…depends why you’re looking.

    A bit of a segue…

    Perhaps it’s a factor of aging (now that I’m at the geriatric age of 43) or maturing, but for me there is very little temptation when I see an attractive man to undress him with my eyes, get his phone number, or hook up. I do however have a desire to take him to dinner, find out about his life, his dreams, his personality, and see whether his eyes crinkle when he smiles. Maybe even go so far as to hold or kiss him. But I never have fantasies about sex pop into my head when I see an attractive man.

    Since we’re discussing the distinction between temptation and sin, I wonder how my response to beauty fits in with the definitions of sin. I suspect it would depend on the individual. Some might say that there is nothing explicitly sinful about my initial response, others might say that it leads to sinful sexual desire, and others might say that it is of itself a sinful relationship desire.

    I suspect that because it is a response driven by same-sex attraction, most evangelicals would simply say “sin” without giving the slightest thought as to what scriptural support they have for that position. I imagine that most who participate here would be more nuanced.

  6. There is an ideological conflict here as I see it. This is much less about science than religious belief. Traditional Christian view is that temptation is not sin but entertaining or planning to pursue the temptation may be. One may “lust in the heart.” The gold standard is pursuit of God in contrast to everything that hormones and brain suggests. However, no one reaches gold standard in this life so we muddle through trusting not in our ability to achieve gold standard but rather the redemption of Christ.

    Agree or disagree; celebrate or deny, but that is a point of view that evangelicals hold. We can discuss how that plays out in practice but I do not want to get into attacks on religious beliefs. Calling it “incoherent” is a discussion stopper; attacking the belief won’t get us anywhere either.

  7. Michael, I just went to great lengths to explain that homosexual desires were NOT sin; I took great pains to differentiate between ‘temptation’ and ‘sin’ and yet you write “I still find it sad that you think of your sexual orientation as…’sin’.” I’ll say it again: The desires (i.e. the ‘sexual orientation’) are NOT sin…it is the toying, the nurturing, the acting on them that is sin.

    Now I can tend to your real point. “I still find it sad that you think of your sexual orientation as ‘temptation’.” (Period!) I can see how you’d feel that but it isn’t the case.

    Let’s say I’m walking down the street and I notice a good-looking guy and then I go right back to what I was thinking about. That’s orientation but it isn’t temptation. I didn’t think to look twice, to undress him with my eyes, to fantasize being with him, to get his phone number, to ‘hook up’…I simply ‘noticed’. Even ‘looking twice’ might not qualify as temptation…depends why you’re looking.

    I don’t believe God expects more out of an ex-gay Christian than he does out of a single straight Christian. THEY wouldn’t call it a temptation until maybe the ‘looking twice’; why should I?

    Even temptations, I was taught, weren’t a negative thing. “What a chance to grow!”, quipped one. “Boy, God sure must think a lot of me!”, said another referring to “God won’t allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear”. If I’M going to have a sexual temptation, it’s going to be homosexual. I found pleasure with men and have never been with a woman; why would it be otherwise? No extra-portion of guilt for me, please.

    ….Oh, and since sloth and gluttony are no longer sins, I’m going to veg-out on the couch with dark chocolate and strawberry swirl watching “Thank God, You’re Here”.

  8. Homosexual desires are not sin. … It is the toying with…the nurturing…the acting on the desire that would be considered sin.

    Does anyone else find this statement incoherent? Desires imply the toying, the nurturing, the acting. I don’t know how you can have the desire without something happening.

    If I say i desire eggplant but never think about it, never look at it at the grocery store, never google for recipies for eggplant, never taste it, never watch a cooking show which uses eggplant, then how can I say I desire it?

    Sexuality is about hormones and physical states – things which can be studied and quantified. Its not about toying or nurturing. If you are aroused by someone of the same sex is that sin? If you’re never arounsed then can you say you are same sex attracted?

  9. Eddy said: “It is the toying with…the nurturing…the acting on the desire that would be considered sin.”

    I still find it sad that you think of your sexual orientation as “temptation” or “sin”. Sin is treating other people unjustly or unlovingly. Period.

  10. Homosexual desires are not sin. A quote I’ve always remembered: “You can’t stop the sparrows from flying over your head but you CAN stop them from building a nest in your hair.” It is the toying with…the nurturing…the acting on the desire that would be considered sin. One of my bible school advisors responded to temptation/desire with “What a chance to grow!” You turned a temptation or desire into an opportunity to learn…to grow in your Christian faith and character. Even yielding to a temptation, if and when it happened, led to an opportunity to learn about grace, repentance and redemption. You don’t exploit grace/forgiveness. We knew the irony of “Forgive me, Lord, for the thing I’m about to do.” Repentance was less about guilt or shame and more about sorrow for sin and a desire to do better.

    Re shutting down the libido. That’s not what we recommended in any way. In my own experience, I was part of a group of young Christians were pretty much ‘knit together’ for approximately three years…attended the same church, later the same small bible school. None of them was from a homosexual background but, as single Christians, they didn’t have a sexual outlet either. Yet, they survived.

    The big difference was they were most likely going to have a far shorter wait for sin-free sexual expression. Two of them got married after 5 or more years of sexual abstinence; two others were still single (and celibate) when I lost touch.

    Of the single Christian males I’d been able to ask, opinions varied. Most felt it was okay to masturbate occasionally–as long as you tried to do it without fantasy. Others felt that was ‘opening a door to temptation’. More than one joked that, due to my homosexual background, it would probably be okay for me to TRY to have a heterosexual fantasy.

    Other standard advice when faced with ‘urges’ included prayer, strenuous excercise, creativity, absorption in a project or cause, fellowship. So, while none of us were ‘getting any’, we were all quite happy and fulfilled. Personally, I refused to set up a timetable for how long I might be single. I wavered between thinking ‘forever’ and ‘about ten years’. (Current status is midway ‘tween the two!)

  11. “The goal was to live a fulfilled Christian life not dominated by struggles with homosexual or any other sinful desires.”

    Hmm….the sex drive in and of itself seems to be ever present in humans. In my forty something years of life I have known *maybe* 2 asexuals.

    So, for a homosexually oriented Christian to feel “those feelings” makes him/her human. To shut down one’s sex drive, libido, whatever that compelling force is that drives us to one another….well, *is* to shut down. Talk about a disembodied, dystonic life!

    Which is probably why after 10 or so years of celibacy, when I made contact with numerous ex-gay ministries, came to find out that, yes, indeedy, ex-gays by and large are not/were not celibate. No wonder they were able to function in life.

    And of course this goes ditto for our straight Christian friends — it seems to be the rare birds that go to their wedding beds virgins. We can talk culture, expectations, birth control, ad infinitum — but that is largely a fact, Jack!

    Maybe that is why “extra” grace is given to the divorced straights, wanting to remarry — even those who fall outside of Jesus’ prescribed framework of adultery. Celibacy seems like a cruel venture indeed.

    So…are homosexual desires in and of themselves “sinful”? If one is to see their etymology stemming from unforgiveness, denial of one’s maleness/femaleness, etc… as opposed to biological — pehaps the ex-gay ministries have a leg to stand on.

    Unfortunately, the “success” of change seems to be limited, fleeting, seasonal, and temporary.

  12. Eddy said:

    Heterosexuality was never our primary goal and, for many, wasn’t a goal at all. The goal was to live a fulfilled Christian life not dominated by struggles with homosexual-or any other-sinful desires. It’s probably the main reason we needed the term ‘ex-gay’.

    For one who genuinely believes that God considers homosexual acts a sin, this seems perfectly reasonable. What is appalling to me is what others have done with that goal and that term in the mean time. If ex-gays were comprised mainly of people with this goal and attitude, I doubt there would be a need for Ex-Gay Watch.

  13. Even as a charismatic/pentecostal (Assembly of God Sundays & Wednesdays, charismatic prayer & praise meetings Tuesdays, Fridays & Saturdays), I recall that my motivation for going to bible school was to ‘find some answers on how to deal with my homosexual attractions.’ Then, I spent two years in a charismatic bible school before going into ex-gay ministry. In all of that experience, I encountered less than a dozen people who believed in a total switch to heterosexuality with no further homosexual attractions. The charismatic grace or miracle that we believed in was ‘the ability to say ‘no’ to a temptation’. Beyond that, we had another expectation that, although we’d still be homosexually tempted, the day would come when saying ‘no’ would be easy.

    When I wondered if God expected me to become heterosexual, nearly every spiritual advisor said it was possible but only a few sounded genuinely hopeful. I got the impression that a whole lot of factors were involved: committment, fellowship, prayer & bible study, discipline, avoiding places of obvious temptation, daily attitude of repentance, willingness to have ‘inner hurts healed’, praying daily in my prayer language, submission to a local church, having accountability to a spiritual advisor. And, then, MAYBE, IF it’s God’s plan for your life, you will meet a woman who you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with.

    When I revealed that I was heading off to help lead an ‘ex-gay ministry’, I received advice on ‘spiritual warfare’ and was cautioned that homosexual temptations were likely to increase in both intensity and frequency. (Satan would try to destroy God’s good work.) A few thought that God might have a woman in store for me…as testimony to God’s healing power… but most thought that the combination of ‘being on the front lines’ in the ministry and adjusting to heterosexuality would be more than God would ask.

    This is quite different from the ‘name it and claim it’ brand of charismatics described above. I’ve been essentially out of touch with Exodus for well over ten years but, in the early days, when the foundations were being laid, I’d estimate that it was 65% charismatic. Of the charismatics, I estimate that 10 to 5% were of the ‘name it or claim it’ type; perhaps 10% had the ‘inner healing/deliverance’ focus; the remainder, I feel, would relate more to what I described in the preceding paragraphs.

    And, except for the praying in tongues and some of the spiritual warfare stuff, I believe the non-charismatics would relate more to the above also. For this reason, early Exodus (at least the first 10 years) was cautious about promoting or promising heterosexuality. Although I’m no longer involved, I’ve read through their ‘about us’ links and it seems that the theological mix within Exodus hasn’t changed that much.

    I can’t speak for the make-up of the other ministries within Exodus but my earliest clients were mostly non-charismatics…several Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Catholics, one Baptist and one Methodist. Our Board of Directors was similarly mixed. Except for a few of the charismatics, most embraced the Christian perspective I described above. At the bottom line, we figured that some would go all the way to heterosexual marriage while many would not. Did God promise to change homosexually-inclined individuals into heterosexuals? I can’t find that promise in the Bible so I never made it to anyone. I did find a promise that ‘sin shall no more have dominion over you’ and explored that promise with people who believed that homosexual behavior was sin. Heterosexuality was never our primary goal and, for many, wasn’t a goal at all. The goal was to live a fulfilled Christian life not dominated by struggles with homosexual-or any other-sinful desires. It’s probably the main reason we needed the term ‘ex-gay’. I can’t call myself homosexual if I’m trying to stop living that life. I’m not heterosexual if I don’t respond sexually to women. Not ego-dystonic (spelling?) either since I’d have been happy being gay if I felt God was. (hmmm…hey Warren, any chance we could work on biblio-dystonic as a new classification?)

  14. I was raised/churched Pentecostal and Southern Baptist. I thought at age 5 I was going to be a girl. As each subsequent year passed I realized I wasn’t changing into a girl at 9 or 10 I read a Medical Journal and realized I was homosexual and tried to pray it out of me. I never told anybody anything, I never asked for prayer to have the homosexuality removed- I was too afraid in my home or community to risk saying it out loud so I prayed and prayed for myself- nothing ever changed. At summer camp when I was 15 I got “filled with the Holy Spirit” and that experience never stopped me from feeling homosexual- I can’t tell you how many times I accepted a preacher telling me I was demon possessed, was vile, was filth to God and stood in a line to be free of the “demon of homosexuality” or had an “exorcism,” because I just lost count. In my early twenties after the last time I allowed myself to be miraculously healed or delivered from the demon of homosexuality I gave up- I left church, I left the struggle to not be GAY and along the way I tried drugs, alcohol and suicide- fortunately I never lost a job, never succeeded in killing myself, never got AIDS, I got counseling through my insurance and arrived at self-actualization with much of my mind intact. I saw either a licensed psychiatrist or a therapist for 3 years solid- I would never have survived if I had gone to one of these religious hacks without degrees who are making money off the misery of others and reinforcing self-hatred. I have survived, no thanks to organized religion and the misconceptions taught by the churches I had attended. But, I am still a Christian, in fact I serve at my church, I am a member and a deacon of the PCUSA- I have been accused of being a heretic by mainstream Christian standards in fact some religionists have even judged me by the content of my blog and assume by their standards it’s perverse- I’m not a bible literalist, a religious zealot or a legalist- I believe what Jesus taught and practiced- I don’t worship doctrine.

    And I think if God could do all these Earthly-minded miracles that so many of his “followers” claim, expect, or sell others, than the results should factually manifest. It’s not truthful or positive of a religion when you charge for those miracles and claim weak faith when they fail to manifest- Jesus didn’t “heal” me of homosexuality, he didn’t have to, he healed me when I accepted myself and started loving myself- in the same way he said he did- Just as I am. If we are his hands and feet why are we waiting for supernatural miracles and healings and things? WE need to first accept ourselves and then manifest his love to others as we would have others love us.

  15. Thanks for these comments. This is helpful. Appreciate Christine stopping by and adding to her comments in the interview. Now on the other hand, some have wondered if the reformed side of the house also insists on being “over it.” Is this a theological inconsistency on the part of those who take this point of view?

  16. I “got saved” by charismatic/Pentecostal types, and spent my first year as a believer under their discipleship. So I have some very limited experience. I’ve also known quite a few charismatic exgays and exexgays, so I’ve tried to learn from their observations. Here are my impressions of the particular difficulties of a charismatic exgay journey.

    Looking for miraculous healing

    Expectations of miraculous healing often do not materialize. (I don’t think there’s a problem with believing miracles to be possible. The potential for devastating discouragement comes when you think you are definitely going to get a miracle.) What bugs me especially about some charismatics is that they assume that God wants to heal everyone, and that if you aren’t healed, therefore you must be standing in God’s way. So not only do you have the disappointment of not being healed, but you get the blame for it as well. Bonus!

    2. Name-it-and-claim-it theology, and milder versions of the same thing

    One is roped into what I believe to be a pattern of deceit, declaring oneself to be healed when one is not. In milder variations, admission of a struggle is considered to be a sign of a lack of faith. It has a negative communal effect as well–you hear everyone around you proclaiming how healed they are, but who knows what the reality is?

    3. Emphasis on victorious living

    I think charismatics generally have a higher standard for what the believer’s life should look like, in terms of sunshiny happiness. They are less likely to accept that the Christian life is a struggle to the grave. This makes it harder for the one whose life doesn’t look picture perfect, especially after the first year or two of faith. (You’re expected to be a mess when you come into the church. But then, your faith is supposed to make a “real difference.”)

    4. Expectations of exciting faith experience. (e.g. Holy Ghost Orgasms)

    Charismatic Christianity is very experience focused, and when the river of experience runs dry, the believer can get depressed and discouraged. When I first converted, my experiential life, my sense of the presence of God was very rich and exciting. When that dwindled eventually, it sent me into a crisis of confusion, worrying about what was wrong. It also left me very disappointed, as I had been led to believe that the spiritual ecstasy I would get as a Christian would more than make up for whatever physical ecstasy I was giving up.

    5. Belief in deliverances

    I know many people who have gone to get delivered from the demon of homosexuality over and over and over again, each time assured of a complete deliverance, a complete cure. Eventually, they come to find their faith altogether incredible, because they can’t sort out the good parts and the bad parts into neat little piles. (Most of us tend to experience our faith as an integrated whole, I think.) I think that’s part of the overarching difficulty with some charismatic views–people don’t just tell you that you will be “healed”, they tell you that you ARE “healed”, that you’ve already been “changed.” Along those lines…

    6. Prophecy

    People you trust in the church will tell you that they see you healed, that they see you married, etc. They will have a “word from the Lord” for you to that effect. This gets really frustrating, as your own perception of where you are at doesn’t seem to count for very much.


    However, all that being said…

    ..I would agree with CK that while there isn’t the same emphasis on miraculous healing in Reformed circles, the end results may not be all that different.

    A charismatic is likely to see homosexuality as a brokenness problem or a bondage problem, and the appropriate solution as therefore being healing or deliverance. A Reformed Christian on the other hand is more likely to see it straightforwardly as a sin problem, and the appropriate solution as therefore being repentance, putting sin to death, and “making straight paths for your feet.” This can lead to the assumption that if you are truly repentant, it’s not going to be a problem anymore.

    In other words, while the charismatic may think your sexual attractions will be trivially easy to “heal” or change, at least they acknowledge that your attractions exist and need to be reckoned with. In Reformed circles, people are more inclined to just ignore your attractions, which is good in some ways (they don’t nag you about whether or not you’re “healed” yet) , but not so good in others (when they suggest that you ought to pursue marriage, they will tend to view your protestations about not being turned on by the opposite sex as mere whining and coddling of your sin nature.)

    So, in the end, in my experience, both groups have a tendency to think that you should be “so over that” in a rather unrealistic timeframe, which is of course really frustrating for the exgay.

    And CK, there is no such thing as too much John Owen. 🙂

  17. “Ed Hurst commented: “We came to expect a process…a journey…and reckoned that SOME might make it all the way into a heterosexual identity.””

    Read it again, Michael. Ed’s only talking about “identity”, whatever the heck that is.

    That’s the problem with the fuzzy language adopted by the ex-gay movement as a whole. It would be equally true to say “We came to expect a process… a journey… and reckoned that SOME might make it all the way into an identity as a dolphin.”

  18. Ed Hurst commented: “We came to expect a process…a journey…and reckoned that SOME might make it all the way into a heterosexual identity.”

    That’s a very interesting choice of words: “all the way into a heterosexual identity.” What does that mean? It sounds like an admission that MOST will never really become heterosexual, but that “some” might get PART way there.

    What would that be? Bisexuality? Joe Dallas said something similar on the Joan Rivers show when he clarifed that “ex-gays” are not at the heterosexual end of the spectrum but “somewhere in between” since “we all have BOTH” (gay and straight feelings.)

    As for the “some” who will make it all the way, how many would that be? What is “SOME”? 10%? 20%? By saying that “some” would, does this mean that you are admitting that most would NOT? If so, how about some good old-fashioned “informed consent” — like telling clients “MOST of you won’t make it all the way”?

    How far could most be expected to make it? And do you think EXODUS has done a fair job of telling clients and the media that most will NOT make it “all the way into a heterosexual identity.”

  19. “I am not completely sure from the article where she now sees herself religiously, but my read between the lines makes me wonder if she could perhaps be described as “ex-charismatic” as well as ex-ex-gay”

    The short answer to that is very much a yes. In fact, at this point, I don’t really identify as a Christian, even though I am still involved heavily at It’s not a knee-jerk reaction to my experiences, but I think my experiences did make me question much more about my spirituality than I would have otherwise.

    I think there is some kind of link to the charismatic thing (these are the people after all who tend to believe that people can be changed/healed the most, and they expect it regularly), although there are ex-ex-gays I’ve met who don’t necessarily come from these backgrounds. Of course, it’s all purely anecdotal.

    It does seem to me though, that people who are involved in pentecostal churches are more all or nothing in their thinking. Some of the people I’ve met who are not charismatic still seemed to have the expectation of change, but they didn’t seem as rocked when it didn’t happen. Again, I can’t know for sure, just going on a few conversations I’ve had.

    I think it’s also important to remember that many ex-gay groups are affiliated with pentecostal churches, so many of us end up in these churches just because of the association of the ministry to the church.

    I also don’t know if Exodus would consider themselves a charismatic organization, but they are the ones who promise “change is possible” and give wildly varying numbers of people who have changed, and they almost never distinguish between behavior and orientation.

    From my knowledge of WGA (Where Grace Abounds) they are very relationship focused for one’s “healing”, not primarily “name it and claim it”.

    Regarding WGA, this statement from AM is correct. In fact they are very much the opposite of name it and claim it. The founder, Mary, and long-time staff member Scott, are not pentecostal. They definitely believe in the reparative stuff, and (at least when I was there) recommended both Leanne Payne and Moberly. However, none of the name-it-and-claim-it stuff goes on in the meetings.

    That’s why I actually started attending Living Waters. I thought WGA’s stuff was a lot of talk, and I wanted something that seemed more powerful…the Holy Spirit and Jesus healing me and the like…

  20. Warren,

    I communicate with Doug Houck several times a week. He was the founding director of Metanoia and Robbi Kenney worked with him after she left Outpost. I’m not sure if he ever served on the Exodus Board of Directors but he was a key player for a number of years after I moved on. Let me know if you need to get in contact with him and I’ll see what I can do.


    Re the charismatic discussion. Early Exodus was, in my opinion, dominated by charismatic theology and I MOSTLY agree with the theological assessments made in this thread. The one exception is that a number of the charismatics began to feel that it was neither a demon or a sickness but rather a ‘learned response’.

    Response to what? to parenting. to sibling relationships. to peer relationships and peer pressure, to societal images (TV, magazines, music), to societal standards. The conclusion was that learned responses don’t call for ‘healing’; they call for ‘unlearning’ and reconditioning.

    We came to expect a process…a journey…and reckoned that SOME might make it all the way into a heterosexual identity. I was always personally sceptical of anyone who had a dramatic ‘inner healing’…believing that even after the hurts had been healed, an individual still had memories and patterned responses to contend with.

    Notice all of the ‘ing’ words in the Exodus healing statement that CK linked…all ‘process’ terminology. In fact, I was pretty amazed by the statement until the final sentence which, I feel, is definitely slanted towards heterosexuality although it does acknowledge that SOME will live responsible single lives.

    Anyway…this new approach presented a 4th possibility to add to Timothy’s list. “Satan twisted my life but now, through my relationship with Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, I am cooperating with God in undoing sin’s domination over my life.” (As I recall, a few of our clients were okay with believing homosexuality was sinful; they were even okay with forsaking ‘the lifestyle’ whatever that meant to them…just so we didn’t tell them they’d HAVE to go hetero. They preferred the notion of celibacy to heterosexuality.)

  21. AM hit it on the head: “Perhaps the issue is not so much how “charismatic” the person is, but how many routes they have tried with no success” and “how long does one realistically wait to see results”. I asked myself the same questions: Were my wife and I expected to live out a sexless marriage waitng indefinitely for the promised “change” and trying yet another route?

    We started EXODUS believing that (1) God loved ALL his Children equally, (2) The Church wasn’t acting like it — particularly when it came to gays and lesbians, (3) Salvation and sanctification would result in a real change in sexual orientation — we would become heterosexual as He intended.

    We had no reason to doubt that God could (and would) do anything less. When we did not lose gay feelings and still had the gay ones as strong (or stronger) than ever, we began to doubt and despair. Some doubted God. Some doubted their salvation. Some doubted their faith. Some gave up entirely.

    Others, like me and so many others over the years, began to question whether or not we were asking the right question. If God didn’t “heal” me, maybe He thought I was OK as I was and what He was really concerned about was how I loved, not who.

  22. Thanks, Lynn. Leanne Payne is the author I was trying to remember. I realize that it was probably more than 20 years ago when I talked with her about my own situation, during one of her visits to our community. I just found her web site through Google, and see that two of her current hot topics are gay bishops and Harry Potter. She’s against them both.

  23. Yes of course Pam!

    We do get it, really, but from our perspective it is like arguing how many angels can fit on the head of a pin. 1 million or ten million only appear to be “vastly different” at such times.

    For us, it’s more like “11” or “10.95” — both of which are off-scale in any case!

    But we certainly do understand some of the, umm, different attitudes that are within that “0.05”. At times even we fall asleep on the couch and wake in the wee hours to the loud voices of a TV charismatic prayer-demanding (as you said) “Dear God, send me money. And a new dress. And more hair. And…”

    Why ask God? People, go to Wal-mart if you want something! 🙂

  24. Christine’s story is indeed an interesting one. Especially as it pertains to how long does one realistically wait to see results. From my knowledge of WGA (Where Grace Abounds) they are very relationship focused for one’s “healing”, not primarily “name it and claim it”. As to how much they subscribe to “reparative therapy” as curative, that I would not be able to answer.

    Perhaps the issue is not so much how “charismatic” the person is, but how many routes they have tried with no success. Were the story about someone from a mainline denomination, I am surmising that the focus of help would be different — i.e. reparative therapy, not necessarily the degree of success.

    What is telling is how many have run the gamut of trying to change.

  25. Grantdale,

    Believing God can do anything in an instant and being charismatic are WORLDS apart. Really. I’m a “reformed charismatic’….and even though I know you don’t really care about the differences, since you brought it up, I think I’ll flesh it out a bit….having been on both sides of that spiritual coin. The differences are just that vast.

    As a non-charismatic I believe absolutely in the power of God to do or NOT do whatever He wants. I will accept whatever outcome and say “Bless-ed be the name of the Lord.”

    As a charismatic there seemed to be more “power” in my belief and in my conviction about what God was doing, would do, or could do….to the point of even demanding things from God. Which now seems absurd to me. It seemed like it was more up to ME to just pray, believe, or demand that God perform in certain ways based on my belief and/or conviction. There was much more guilt/blame associated with that line of thinking.

    It’s just two very very different perspectives and it really does matter, even if it doesn’t to you. It makes a complete and total difference than just a “yes or no” answer can provide to the question of God’s ability to do whatever the “heck” he wants.

    Hope that’s helpful and taken in the spirit of friendship in which I offer it. 🙂

    love and grace,


  26. NickC wrote: I’ve been trying to remember the name of a woman who was an author and inner healing practitioner–Episcopalian, I believe–who published a book in the 80s that dealt with inner healing for homosexuality. I knew her personally and can see the face, but can’t remembe[r] the name.

    Could that be Leanne Payne or one of the Sanfords – Agnes Sanford?

  27. I’m sure a careful history of ex-gay ministries would find many points of contact with the charismatic movement. Although there are still plenty of fast-growing charismatic and pentecostal churches, the cross-denomination charismatic movement was at its peak from about 1965 to 1985–the same period when Christian ex-gay ministries began to appear.

    I myself had a dramatic conversion at a charismatic prayer meeting in 1972. I believed God singled me out through a prophecy from the meeting leader, telling me to renounce homosexuality. I was a 20-year-old gay hippie at the time, living on Castro Street. I never went back to San Francisco, and spent the next 19 years living in a charismatic community in Michigan. I eventually became executive editor of the Catholic charismatic magazine, New Covenant. My own personal story appeared in New Covenant (anonymously) about 1980, in an issue headlined “Healing for the Homosexual.”

    The idea of healing homosexuality was pretty revolutionary for the time. Prior to that, most churches regarded homosexuality just as a sin: you were supposed to repent, and that was that. Understanding homosexuality as a condition that needed to be healed was supposed to be a more compassionate approach.

    Healing was also central to pentecostal and charismatic beliefs. Old time pentecostal healers emphasized miraculous physical cures. The charismatic movement went a little squishier with “inner healing,” which fell somewhere between prayer and counseling. The idea was to ask God to identify and heal the childhood traumas that created adult pain and behavioral problems. You can see how easily that led to “reparative therapy” for homosexuality.

    (I’ve been trying to remember the name of a woman who was an author and inner healing practitioner–Episcopalian, I believe–who published a book in the 80s that dealt with inner healing for homosexuality. I knew her personally and can see the face, but can’t remembe the name.)

    Charismatics also believed that evil spirits played a big part in every kind of difficulty. If you were in a car accident on your way to church, even that was probably Satan trying to keep you away from worship. Certainly, homosexual temptations were the devil’s work as well. “Spiritual warfare”–meaning exorcism and “casting out”–was a constant theme in our approach to problems. My father was a prominent charismatic leader, and at one point he wouldn’t go anywhere without his well-thumbed copy of the Roman Ritual, which included the Catholic rite of exorcism. I myself was exorcised a number of times–although it was much less dramatic than it sounds. Not at all helpful, either.

    Warren asks: “Could it be that charismatically based expectations for dramatic, rapid and complete “healing” from same-sex attractions lead to unnecessary frustration, spiritual doubt and disillusionment? ” Certainly. Charismatics did not always expect healing to be dramatic and rapid, but we absolutely expected it to be complete. For a long time, you could tell yourself, “I just need more faith.” But it was hard to keep that up for 20 years without doubt and disillusionment creeping in.

    However, I do question Warren’s modifier of “unnecessary.” After 30 years as an ex-gay, approaching the issue from every possible angle from the search for healing to simply trying to “live by my values,” I firmly believe that any approach that excludes the possibility of embracing your orientation and accepting an openly gay identity is necessarily doomed to frustration, spiritual doubt, and disillusionment.

  28. I have three generations of Pentecostal roots going back to around 1914. My grandfather, uncle, father, and both brothers all were or still are Pentecostal pastors, evangelists, or missionaries.

    In the church my father pastored all through my youth – Pentecostal Church of God (out of Joplin, Mo – not the snake handlers) there was much emphasis on divine healing and God’s intervention in our daily lives. I was raised on stories of the miraculous – and there are some things I cannot discount or explain away.

    My family firmly believed that if you prayed in faith that God would meet your needs. While a doctor might be useful for some diagnosis, examination, or to set a broken bone, for healing you relied on the hand of God rather than the hand of man. Our house had band-aids, but not aspirin. And while it wasn’t sinful to go to a doctor, it did suggest a lack of faith in God. Needless to say, psychotherapy was akin to witch-doctory.

    Homosexuality was either willful rebellion or demon possession. And since it didn’t exist in our town, much less our church, it wasn’t much discussed (this was before the lavender menace became the greatest threat to the family and the nation).

    Within the Pentecostal mindset, there is an expectation that if you pray with faith and believe then God will honor his promise and heal you.

    Homosexuality, being a demon, would require casting out (not exorcism – that was Catholic) with laying on of hands and a spiritual battle between the prayer warriors and the demon. Much of the outcome relied on the desire of the afflicted to be freed.

    Assuming that the understanding of homosexuality is now that it is a form of sickness or physical flaw rather than a demon, it would fall under the divine healing category.

    I can’t speak for all charismatics, but in my family’s beliefs if you prayed in faith, believing on the power of God, he would be faithful to heal you. It might take more than one prayer, but ultimately if there was no healing… well, it wasn’t God’s fault.

    Using the formula Prayer + Faith + God = Healing, the ex-gay struggler who has not seen healing of his same-sex attractions ultimately (after a lot of prayer) has to come to one of the following three conclusions:

    1. God doesn’t answer prayer,

    2. God won’t answer his prayer because there’s something wrong with him (perhaps not enough faith), or

    3. The formula (ie the doctrine) is wrong.

    Answer 1 can lead to atheism – or at least a reluctance to believe in a personal God.

    Answer 2 can lead to depression or suicide.

    Answer 3 can lead the struggler to re-question all of his doctrine and often can result in dramatic changes in beliefs – including the belief that same-sex relationships are sin.

    Ironically, considering that very few persons are healed of their same-sex attractions, in the Pentecostal mindset in which I was raised almost every eventual result of ex-gay ministries leads to an undesired conclusion.

  29. Warren,

    No. We don’t “believe” in anything. We need it to be categorically proved by science, at which point it ceases to be a “belief”. You may use your distaste for the concept of “born gay” as a direct anology.

    Given you think of a God, and given you think that concept of a God can do anything in an instant — we don’t see why you should have such harsh words for charismatic christians.

    Harsh, because if they are at “11” on a volume knob that only goes up to “10”, you’re still indicating that you think it goes up to “10.95”.

    And that’s an unnoticeable differerence in religious opinion to people like us who neither care nor wonder how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.

    That’s why we asked.

  30. In my own case, I finally concluded that God wasn’t “fixing it” because it wasn’t broken.

  31. I know of one charismatic ex-gay via the Net – at least he claims to be ex-gay. Supposedly it came about via the Toronto Blessing, where he laughed the gay away. He is still in a Pentacostal ministry in another country now.

    What I don’t get is that he is among the most homophobic people I have ever come across. On the forum on which I encountered him, he will bring out the most Cameronesque statistics and then most often claim all gays are actually pedophiles. I usually ask him how many young boys he molested during his supposed 14 years as a gay. He has never answered. Like I said, I don’t understand that attitude.

    For them who expects much from their god, the greater their disappointment need be.

  32. Warren,

    Do you believe God can alter anything in an instant if He so desires?

    (Yes, or No, will do.)

  33. I’m not charismatic either (Catholics rarely are!), but coincidentally, I was developing a very similar question in my own mind as well. My question, however, isn’t limited to the charismatic movement though.

    Broadly speaking, miraculous healing to varying degrees appears to be a well-accepted among many Christians of all stripes. There was a presumed assumption of this sort of transformation at Love Won Out. Only one speaker was completely overt about it, but all the others (except Nicolosi, of course) alluded to it.

    So the question forming in my mind was a little broader: to what extend does an expectation or presumption of miraculous works generally correlate to disappointment when it doesn’t occur with one’s sexuality specifically?

  34. Great questions. I am ex-ex-gay and remain Charismatic — in the sense that I believe that the Spritual Gifts mentioned in the New Testament are still functioning today. I was raised Reorganized Latter Day Saint. Then, in 1971, I accepted Christ as my Savior and “recieved the Baptism of the Holy Spirit” at a Pentcost Sunday service conducted by Calvary Chapel. My life was forever changed. I got my Biblical “roots” at a wonderful Southern Baptist church, but never told them that I (still) pray in tongues. They also didn’t know I still liked to dance 🙂

    Melodyland, on the other hand, was definitely charasmatic. Lots of instant healings — but actually more empahsis on “claiming” healing in the “now” as Christ’s finished work — and then waiting and trusting that the actual healing would come, if you had enough faith. “Name-it-and-claim it” was everywhere. It happend to drug addicts all the time. Why couldn’t it happen to us? If they could be “delivered”, why couldn’t we?

    Then, I realized that my sexual orientation was not changing. I was not “ex-gay”. After years of prayer, “deliverances”, study, devotion, tears, counseling (both pastoral and secular), fasting, Bible study — in spite of wanting it with all my heart, soul and mind — I still had NO heterosexual feelings. My wife felt inadequate and depressed. And the guys I was counseling werent changing either. They were getting more and more hopeless, self-destruactive and confused. Then, I fell in love with Gary — my wife’s best friend’s husband. You know the rest. Now I’m Presbyterian. 🙂

  35. This raises a good point, Dr. Throckmorton. I’ve noticed the exact same thing when it comes to “ex-ex-gay” accounts. I was raised in the Methodist tradition, so I’m much more mainline and haven’t had to deal with as much open vitriol towards homosexuality as I’m sure SSA individuals in charismatic churches have. It most definitely has shaped my own perceptions and feelings regarding the entire situation.

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