Fifteen years ago, I was a Southern Baptist minister and part of the “ex-gay” ministries. Today, as a free gay man who is also a Christian, I make my way inside of Focus on the Family’ Love Won Out Conference undercover for Truth Wins Out. For the unacquainted, this symposium seeks to lead men and women out of the so-called “homosexual lifestyle” and into the “heterosexual lifestyle.”
As I enter the conference, I have a foreboding sense of hesitation and anxiety, having spent three-and-a-half years ensnared in the ex-gay trap. The dreadful experience left me feeling confused, frustrated, ashamed, angry and on the verge of suicide. These awful memories flood my mind as I enter the church.
During my first session, I listen to Focus on the Family’ polished spokesperformer, Melissa Fryrear, tell her tale of going from lesbian to straight by finding Jesus Christ. She talked about her one time desire to be a man and how she learned to wear dresses, hose, make-up, and come to an understanding of her womanhood.
As I listened, I realized that she is very confused about her own sexual identity and lacks the self-confidence to be an out lesbian who is wonderfully made in God’ image. As a psychologist and a theologian, I realize she has been misinformed about human sexuality and spirituality in a healthy sense. Throughout her story she gives biblical references as: “God wants us to come to a place of repentance” quoting II Peter 3:9, which loses me as to what that has to do with being a homosexual and a Christian. As I continue to carefully listen, I try to piece it all together, but am not able due to the fact that Melissa is not only confused about her own sexual identity, but also God’ love towards her as a lesbian who happens to be a Christian.
“Love Won Out.” How can love and hate be in the same sentence? It’ a question I continued to ask myself as I looked around and listened to her story being told of how she hated who she was and that God could not ultimately love her until she came out of homosexuality. What a tragic misunderstanding of God’ love, because as a gay man who happens to be a homosexual I walk in God’ love daily and find His peace in my life.
Most of all, I can accept who God made me to be just as He made the heterosexual to be. I can be a homosexual man walking in God’ love, hope, and grace (John 3:16-17; Eph. 2:8-9). Throughout Fryrear’ theatrical lecture, she joyously giggled at inappropriate times and then histrionically burst out in tears. It seemed very staged and she appeared somewhat unstable. I did not find her conservative comedy routine to be funny, because too many people struggling with homosexuality are hurt by such rhetoric or walk away from God.
I left the session very confused about what central message she was trying to impart to the forlorn and impressionable crowd of an estimated one thousand people. It seems to me that she has a very unhealthy understanding of human sexuality and spirituality. It is her message and others that leaves more unanswered questions than answers. So, love has not won out. Instead, we see the misrepresentation of truth and the packaging and selling of outright lies masquerading as reality.
At Truth Wins Out, we continue to find this disturbing pattern within the ex-gay industry. We have also seen the pain and alienation of those crestfallen believers who peel away from the grace of God, because they cannot change into what they have been brainwashed into believing is the only healthy way of life. John 8:36 says that once they find the truth, and I add any truth that they can be homosexual and Christian in God’ eyes, then they will truly be who God made them to be. AMEN!
In my second session, “Answering Pro-Gay Theology” with Joe Dallas, I wanted to scream! This man offered the most unenlightened, pedestrian and simplistic interpretation of Scripture I had heard in a long time. I tried to find out Joe’ biblical education that made him an expert on the topic, but he has no degrees or at least they are not stated. The fact he makes no mention in his materials or books makes me, who is a genuine scholar, question his ability to answerer the subject at hand. Since when did rejecting one’ natural sexual orientation make one an “expert” on the Bible and homosexuality?
On my materials and two published books: “Out of the Closet and Into the Light” and “Over-Coming Obstacles in Life and Coming Out on Top” I state my education and schools, having earned a doctorate in theology from North Florida Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctorate in pastoral psychology from Atlantic Institute Bible College & Seminary.
Mr. Dallas did not know his basic theology or have a firm understanding of biblical hermeneutics as he took the “clobber passages” grossly out of context. As a college and seminary professor, I found him eloquent in his speaking, but lacking in theology. For a fundamentalist, he had no fundamental grounding or understanding of what he was preaching. Like a parrot, he regurgitated talking points at the expense of Scripture. He had no grasp on the Hebrew and Greek language of the Bible and took passages totally and wildly out of context. As with Fryrear, he was merely a well-trained performer — a speaker rather than a scholar.
There is so much that I could say on the subject, but it would take more time than I have to write this article. Having said that, I will make this statement: Instead of him explaining pro-gay theology he should be willing to let scholars, such as myself, debate him on the subject matter he claims to know. However, I doubt he wants a true debate. What Dallas and his sponsors are really after is staging elaborate, splashy road shows where they can fool susceptible people who do not have the education to decipher the dissembling.
I left this session frustrated, because I have a terrible time with people who claim to be experts, such as Joe Dallas, who are really deceptive dilettantes. If he had been a student in one of my classes, I would have flunked him for not using proper Biblical principles for interpretation of the Bible. His session was misleading and totally out of ignorance of the Scriptures and he lead many lay people astray from the truth of God’ Word.
The whole conference did not present the truth as a whole but only in part. Most of all the conference titled: “Love Won Out,” does not present the Agape love I know in Jesus Christ and His Word. Hopefully my report will cause people to think about this dangerous message coming out of the Love Won Out conferences that seek to lead people down a path of half truths, denial and lies about gays, lesbians and their walk with God (John 3:16-17; Romans 10:9-10; 8:38-39).
The conference did not change my mind about the ex-gay industry. It only made me thankful that I left that terrible, oppressive experience behind and now have the privilege to work with those struggling with their homosexuality and walk with Christ. When I left the ex-gay ministries, I saved my own life. Today, in my counseling practice, “The Sanctuary Inc.,” I now have the opportunity to save others who are devastated by the Biblical butchering and mental devastation wrought by the ex-gay trap.
My expert advice to those attending Love Won Out: RUN OUT!