Lakeside Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, Miss., is hosting a conference led by Refuge461, an ex-gay "ministry." Members of GetEQUAL Mississippi, Walk Fellowship, and OMEGA Mississippi have organized a rally to send a message of love, acceptance, and hope to those attending this conference.
Exodus International and similar organizations may not be performing frontal lobotomies to try to alter one's sexual orientation, but the psychological damage that has been inflicted on countless people is indisputable.
We told our son that he had to choose between Jesus and his sexuality. Choosing God, practically, meant living a lifetime condemned to being alone. So, just before his 18th birthday, Ryan, depressed, suicidal and disillusioned, made a new choice.
I know that my gender identity is most definitely not a choice. Had I been given a choice, I would have chosen a gender identity congruent with my body's sex. I have suffered enormous, unspeakable pain for decades from having my real gender identity in conflict with my birth sex.
Exodus International leader Alan Chambers apologized recently for the harm done to LGBT people by the so-called "ex-gay" movement. In that moment, the face that came to mind for me was the bruised, burned and emaciated face of 15-year-old Raymond Buys.
His apology reads as sincere and heartfelt, to be sure. But it raises some bigger questions: What are the possibilities and limits of forgiveness? What does true redemption look like? Do the people hurt by Chambers' actions have an obligation to forgive?
I heard you say that you regret the way in which Exodus communicated its message. And I definitely heard you repeatedly say that it's high time for the church to start welcoming gay people. But I never heard you say that it's OK for people to be gay.
There are not enough words in the world to undo the harm done to LGBT people who have been damaged, devalued and, in far too many cases, destroyed by the toxic narrative that their sexual orientation was an illness to be cured.
Let me say this as a fellow evangelical: Brothers and sisters, whether you support or oppose same-sex relationships, one fact is undeniable. No ministry can turn same-sex-attracted people into opposite-sex-attracted people. It simply doesn't happen.