Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Abuse or Love?

This ABC News story was disturbing to me on many levels: Ex-Gay Camp Investigation Called Off.

Now when you first read it you might also be disturbed. These camps are made to sound like prison, or communist re-education camps.

The opening paragraph states:
Tennessee officials closed an investigation into a so-called ex-gay ministry because of a lack of evidence to support child abuse allegations. But the Memphis organization that says instilling Christian beliefs can keep gays from acting on their homosexual desires continues to be the center ofcontroversy.
The first sentence wastes no time in glossing over the fact that the ministry has been cleared of any wrong doing, while at the same time dismissing the very idea of an ex-gay. Instead it goes on to focus on how the controversy is still brewing and people still believe that abuses are taking place. It's the whole fake but accurate news style again: There isn't any child abuse going on, but Christianity keeps gay children from acting gay which is the same thing just not illegal.

The Gay community's reaction was predictably negative:
"They claim to present themselves as an alternative to the gay lifestyle but then say you are going to have a miserable life if you live this lifestyle," said Amanda Lefevre, spokeswoman for Queer Action Coalition.
Wayne Besen, who studies "ex-gay" camps, said that there are at least 100 ministries across the country that offer programs that attempt to make heterosexuals out of homosexuals. Some are live-in ministries while others are drop-off centers.

"These ministries are a bastion of abuse where the unqualified pose as mental health professionals," he said. "It's ruining lives and no one regulates it."
First of all the people who run these camps do not pretend to be shrinks or psychoanalysts. They don't give therapy or prescribe drugs to help you deal with your problems. These people are counselors who use wisdom gained from real life experience and Biblical training to relate to these young people. Secondly these people are regulated and held accountable. Not by an impersonal government bureaucracy. But by the parents of these kids. These young people are 17 and under, it's still the parentsjob to raise them and care for them. Not that I expected Gays to give these places the benefit of the doubt. Im just pointing out that they are protesting because the Christian answer to child homosexuality doesnt fit their paradigm.

Mr.Besen and Ms. Lefevre demonstrates an ignorance of the Christian perspective that borders on irresponsible and is unfortunately typical. Christians believe that homosexuality is a sin, something unnatural and contrary to the way God set things up. Do you see the difference? To Mr.Besen and all of the Gay activists homosexuality is more than a lifestyle, it's a physical state of being, and we should accept them the way they are regardless of our personal beliefs. Christians see homosexuality is a sinful behavior and lifestyle. The Bible does not teach tolerance of sin, it teaches ways that to have victory over sin, whether it be lying, adultery, idolatry, or anger. The Christian perspective is supported by the hundreds of thousands of ex-gays who consider homosexuality a sinful indulgence that they struggled with and conquered. Gays on the other hand point to genetic data that suggests a homosexual gene, claiming they were gay from the moment they were born. Activists like Besen and Lefevre dont see the difference, they cant understand the idea of hate the sin, love the sinner. They only see a contradiction to their views and thus think that Christians hate Gays which prompts them to go around screaming and throwing out words such as bigot or homophobe.

I would remind you that this Biblical perspective was around long before gay activists, or judicially legislated gay marriage. In fact if you look at history homosexual activity was always seen as an indulgence and is nearly always associated with a blah lifestyle.

So how do you think Christians deal with homosexuality in these camps? What qualifies as abuse to the Queer Action Coalition? Let's see:
The program, Smid said, "is to help kids to grow in their relationship with Christ."

In a May 30 entry on Zach's blog he posted the rules of the Refuge Program. Under a heading called Hygiene, it says, "1. All clients must maintain appropriate hygiene, including daily showering, use of deodorant, and brushing teeth twice daily.

Men: Men must remove all facial hair seven days weekly, and sideburns must not fall below the top of the ear (the top of the ear is defined as where the ear meets the face below the temple). Clean business-like haircuts must be worn at all times. Hair must be long enough to be pinched between two fingers.

Women: Women must shave legs and underarms at least twice weekly.

All: Only natural hair color is allowed. Hair that is colored, highlighted or streaked, must be dyed back to its original color, or the color must be cut out before entrance into the Refuge program."
Those nasty Christians are instilling discipline in those kids! Come on people! The general need for more discipline in todays young people not withstanding, this is completely in line with the Christian position on homosexuality. Any indulgence is also a temptation after you have given it up. This concept is not relegated to homosexuality, it applies to just about any excess that we engage in. On an emotional level we want to continue indulging regardless of how wrong we know it is. The obvious counter is discipline, structure and accountability. These are not bad things, these are completely necessaryfor growing up. A lack of these attributes is also consistent with most teenage homosexuals, at least the ones that I have met. And the other part of the camp "helping kids grow in their relationship with Christ" is the obvious solution to a problem with any type of sin. The counselors are not trying to turn these kids in to heterosexuals, they are trying to help them find a fulfilling relationship with Christ.

Nothing saddens me more than to hear about a parent who responds to hearing their child is gay in anger, rejection, or worse. Gays would be very right to protest this kind of reaction and abuse. But parents who send their kids to these camps do so out of love and concern. They haven't rejected their children, they do not hate their children, they want to do what they believe is right for their children. Look at Zach's parents from the article:
"They tell me that there is something psychologically wrong with me, and they 'raised me wrong.' I'm a big screw up to them, who isn't on the path God wants me to be on. So I'm sitting here in tears, [joining] the rest of those kids who complain about their parents on blogs and I can't help it," Zach wrote.
Part of his statement is true, angsty and juvenilethough it may be, his parents do not believe he is on the path that God wants him to be. As Christians they believe that God spells out his opinion of homosexuality very clearly. But his parents also take responsibility for not nurturing him as a Christian and are taking steps to correct the situation. They are not being abusive or hateful, anything along those lines would definitely have made it in to Zach's blog and would have come up in the investigation, they are doing it out of love. If not then they would most certainly have reacted differently and would never have taken any sort of responsibility for the situation.

So basically what this story boils down to is that Christians do not accept homosexuality as natural and have come up with their own non-abusive way of dealing with it. And Gay activists are protesting. Shocker.

Gays are always preaching tolerance and acceptance. Yet when Christians try to deal with homosexuality according to their beliefs Gays organize and protest. Soa Christian should tolerate them, but they aren't going to tolerate Christians unless Christians go against their own beliefs and 'accept' homosexuality? How is that tolerance?

It saddens me when I hear about Gays being abused because they are gay. But it also saddens me that Gays see these camps in the same light. I believe that homosexuality is wrong, but I dont believe that it is my job to tell all the gay people I know to change. If they ask, I am completely honest with them. Just as honest as I would be if someone asked me what I thought of him being a chronic liar. Thats not such a hard concept to grasp, is it?