Redeeming the Last Post

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Whenever one posts something, be it blog, twitter, facebook, whatever, if mixed feelings come before the click, it’s probably best to sleep on it.

The other day my feelings were mixed, but I shot it out anyway.

Two things happened since then.

1) I emailed a buddy across the blogosphere (Julie of Incite Faith) and asked if she thought I came on too abrasively. Her response was a great wake up call.

““But the line must be drawn between good and poisoned fruit.”

The line is love.

Love is what bridges the gap.”

2) The post was also reprinted on another site. A commenter said he felt compelled to give a response of truth because Evil flourishes when good men do nothing.”

Ouch.

I wrote about the bad fruits emerging from the ex gay industry and I meant it. The loud chorus of survivors coming out of reparative therapy doesn’t suggest a ministry of redemption. My own flirtation with it gives me insight into how the fruit tastes. I have seen too much and heard too much. I cannot cast this therapy aside as an “option” or “alternative”, because lives are literally at stake here.

And yes, I have some serious concerns about the fact that this is a business more than a ministry.

Having said that, I made the awful mistake of blurring therapy with therapists. Throwing babies out with the bathwater you could say. Maybe that’s why I had mixed feelings. And maybe I felt that the “poison apple” parallel packed a bigger punch, but in the process, I allowed a personal vendetta against Ms. Hamilton to reach a new low. And when you’re throwing low blows, you’re failing the Father.

There is something that I innately implied into yesterday’s post that is a gross mischaracterization: when I said “ex gay” I was referring to the therapy, not the clients or the therapists. It was a lazy mistake. But a big one.

I know people that have gone through the reparative process, and while they spoke of it’s damage, they never considered counselors to be cruel. Some even have fond memories of them. And we… I, need to entertain the idea that this may be true.

The words of Ms. Julie Hamilton had devastating consequences on my family, but that does not mean her intent was devastation. I don’t know her. And to be perfectly honest, she’s likely a wonderful person.

Ex gay counselors across the board may care more about gay folks than most people. It takes a special someone to trot into the trenches with strangers struggling with their sexual identity. And if that someone sincerely believes that reparative therapy is what’s best for their patient, then their reasons are rooted in love. More love than the words I wrote yesterday.

Justin Lee, author of the book, Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs Christian Debate, writes in his book… well, what I should have written in my post:

“Christians really are a compassionate bunch, even though the cultural reputation we have right now doesn’t reflect that. Because so many Christians- especially evangelical Christians like me- believed that gay relationships were sinful, they also wanted to believe that there was some way that gay people could become straight so that they could legitimately enjoy all the benefits of romance and marriage. The ex-gays wanted to believe this and to provide hope to others. Unfortunately, sometimes that desire for hope got in the way of being completely honest.”

If I start caricaturing even those with whom I most passionately disagree with, this blog is a fraud.

I missed the mark in my message. And I am sorry.

Burning bridges is always abrasive. It is always unhelpful. It is always hurtful. And it is always unchristian.

Cause bridges have no pre-reqs.

Disciples don’t divide. They put humility before vindictiveness and God before themselves.

Mother Teresa once said:

“if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

I traded a bridge for a partition in the last post, and its because I forgot their spot at the feast.

I forgot that no one is beyond redemption.

Not even me.

It’s a new day and God’s grace is fresh.

And I’ll try to be better tomorrow.

Blessings,

RR

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8 thoughts on “Redeeming the Last Post

  1. Blessings to you, friend. And we don’t bat 1,000–none of us do. That’s the beauty of this business. We’re all in this together, you know? Justin Lee is great–just bought his book a few days ago. And I think you’re great too.

    • YOU are great El! Thanks for the encouragement. We ARE all in this together and its never easy to discern when and how you may hurt people.

      Dive into Justin’s book- it was life giving and an emotional read (the good kind).

  2. This is so perfectly timed for me. My last post–excluding, naturally, today’s guest post–was one about purportedly “pet friendly” apartments. I felt fine about the tongue in cheek parts, but I wrote one part that I just didn’t feel right about. It’s not to say that I don’t believe what I wrote. I do. It’s just that wishing someone “coal and/or pointy sticks in [their] pillow” for Christmas is not a constructive way of expressing my disappointment. I, too, had misgivings before I posted, and yet I posted, only to arise the next morning cringing at my own regrettable post. I should have separated out the humor from the serious issue, which deserves care and calmness and, indeed, will not be changed by anything but.

    Last night I actually handwrote a follow up post expressing things to “cleanse the palate.” I was too tired to post it before I went to sleep, but the opening sentiment is similar to these post in that it’s driven by a sense of repentance. I know, as El said, that we never can bat 1,000, but I sure would like to get a little closer tomorrow and in all the tomorrows after that.

    I feel a little better about all of this now. There’s always hope for doing better tomorrow. Thank you.

    • I have found that it is the worst feeling to regret posting something online! My voice was crass and I don’t think I understood how some may take it. I think I was more or less frustrated that there was a return to this conversation, so, subconsciously, I tried to do my part to nip it in the bud. In any case, we don’t bat 1,000. We’re human, even in the blogosphere. You’re great Deborah, I am always happy to see your posts and your comments!

  3. For the record, I don’t think that your previous post was off the mark. The issue with ex-gay therapy and ex-gay therapists is one of truth in advertising. Mental health professionals agree 1) that homosexuality is a normal variation of sexual attraction and not associated with any psychological defect and 2) that therapy designed to change orientation is rarely successful and is more likely to do harm than bring about the desired result. These two things NEED to be communicated to anyone seeking to change orientation. If a person is passing themselves off as a therapist and claiming that they can change someone’s orientation, they are practicing bad medicine. They should be called out for it, and there should be consequences.

    Consider if someone was claiming to be a doctor who could cure cancer. But in truth, they aren’t licensed to treat cancer and administer an unproven treatment that causes harm and doesn’t work. The “doctor” has the best of intentions and really does want to cure the patient and believes that they can, but the problem is they don’t have evidence that their treatment works nor do they inform the patient of this. And they ignore other medical professionals who have shown that it doesn’t work. There are serious consquences for the “doctor’s” actions, and there should be.

    Ex-gay “therapists” are making similar claims, and we should call them out for that. In fact, I think it’s necessary. If we don’t expose fraud in the name of keeping peace, it will mean that others are will be hurt.

    On a spiritual level, neither the false doctor nor the false therapist is beyond redemption. Spiritually, they both really are trying to do good and love their neighbor. But intentions don’t matter in the face of false claims. We shouldn’t be shy about naming the lie because lives do depend on it.

    • I completely agree with you and I really appreciate your support. What I didn’t want to write in this post was a retreat from the points I laid out: The jury is out on ex gay therapy and we shouldn’t stick our heads in the sand every time it is brought up.

      I am, usually, a non confrontational person, and even though I am greatly disturbed by the actions of these therapists, I still should have found a way to speak about them in a loving manner. If any meaningful change is to occur, we have to stop sending grenades over the wall and instead sit have meaningful dialogue. That’s how I missed the mark. I killed any potential dialogue with those that for whatever reason promote reparative therapy.

      Again, I greatly appreciate your support and I really really liked the way you laid out the argument against this type of practice. We need more voices like you in the conversation.

      • I understand the desire to be non-confrontational. It’s almost a survival instinct for some of us who are gay, but there are times when that instinct is less useful. There are times when we need to express how we feel in order to protect ourselves or others.

        If someone were to physically threaten you and there was no option to get away, your anger would be useful. It’s the fight in the fight or flight.

        What I saw in your previous post was anger and frustration. I didn’t see any misrepresentation of the ex-gay therapist. You are probably right that anger and frustration are not going to convince the therapist that they’re doing something wrong. But was that really the purpose of the post?

        I see the “poisoned fruit” as a warning to stay away from something harmful. It’s a good warning, and the power of your emotion only serves to bring that message home–maybe not to the ex gay therapist, but it will speak to person wondering about whether or not they should consider the “therapy.”

      • And that’s the mistake I made. I should’ve extended the olive branch to therapists too.. No one is beyond redemption. And I think it’s possible to accomplish both, warning and winning over. We need to take Rick Warren’s advice when he said, “you call me an idiot, I’m not gonna listen to you, you just called me an idiot!” (Paraphrase). My point is that healing can’t be sectioned off to one party. We should strive for healing across the board without letting our anger become vindictive. I’m with you, just trying to bubble wrap that passion into something the opposed can understand.

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