Pray the Gay Away

It’s the year 2011 and people still don’t get it.  Right now, in the 21st century, there are several groups dedicated to “ex” gay ministry.  What’s more, there are plenty of people willing to pay for therapy that will “cure” them or their children of “deviant behavior” like loving someone of the same sex.  Personally, I think the deviant behavior being evidenced here is exposing yourself or your child to the soul-crushing idea that, because they’re not straight, there’s something wrong with them.  In a way, families that shun LGBT relatives are kinder because, while they also think being gay is terribly wrong, they’re not constantly reinforcing the notion. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying what they’re doing is good or acceptable or okay; more like,  on a scale of fucked-upness, shunning is an 8 while ex-gay therapy is 10+.  I realize that families of LGBT people who push their relatives into this stuff do so out of love.  But, I think it’s a sick, twisted kind of love and not at all like the unconditional love Christ called us to show to everyone.  Not just those who don’t make us uncomfortable.

Why do I have such an issue with “ex” gay therapy?  You mean, besides the fact that it causes us to tell children of God that, because of who they love, they’re somehow less than we are?  Or that I believe these people are the way God made them and that trying to change that means that we know better than He does how things should be?  We don’t really need to mention that all of the LGBT people I’ve had the honor to know and call friend are good, decent and loving people.  Nor that calling them an “abomination” is incredibly offensive.  Same for the idea that the Bible says all of this is true; when, in reality, you have to do some pretty heavy proof-texting and pretty much ignore everything Jesus ever said to back that up.  No, the biggest problem that I have with the abomination that is the “ex” gay movement is exemplified in the story of George Rekers and Kirk Murphy.  In case you don’t remember, Rekers is the psychologist and Southern Baptist minister who was recently caught hiring a male prostitute as a travel companion on a trip to Europe.  Kirk Murphy is someone you’ve probably never heard of and that’s a shame.  It’s a shame because, after years of struggle with his sexuality, he hung himself in 2003.  What’s the tie-in between the two?  Back in the 70’s, Kirk Murphy participated in a study titled Behavioral Treatment of Deviant Sex Roles Behaviors in a Male Child.  The person conducting the study?  A grad student at UCLA named George Rekers.  In the study, “Rekers had attempted to cure a 5-year-old boy of exaggerated feminine behavior with an increasingly aggressive regimen of psychological and physical rewards and punishment, first in a lab, and then in the boy’s home.”{{1}}.  That’s right, the same George Rekers of “Rentboy” (the name of the company from whom he hired the escort) fame did his utmost to “cure” a young man deemed too effeminate by his family and society.  In fact, Rekers claimed his therapy a success and even got his PhD on the strength of it.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t true.  Murphy’s sister, Maris, said he was never able to fully come to terms with his sexuality and, no matter what accomplishments he achieved in life, he was never satisfied.  In her words, he lived “under a pall”{{1}} until his suicide.  Does my visceral hatred of such pseudo-psychological bullshit make a little more sense now?

Right now, in the United States, gay teens and young adults are killing themselves in record numbers all because some people can’t let go of a few old ideas about what the Bible says God thinks about this particular aspect of life.  For my part, I always think about what Jay Bakker said at the Big Tent Christianity conference in Raleigh, N. C. in 2010.  He held up a Bible and said “If this ever gets in the way of loving people, then I’ll throw it away”.  He tossed it to the stage behind himself and continued “Because I don’t worship the Bible, I worship Jesus.”  Amen, brother Jay.  Amen.