a surprising move, one of Australia's remaining ex-gay/reparative/conversion
organisations, Liberty Christian Ministries (LCM) has invited a gay Christian, Dr Wesley Hill, to
speak at their conference
one of Australia's oldest ex-gay organisations, has been operating
for over twenty years. Previous
leaders have preached the message that it is impossible to be gay and Christian, no one is born gay and that sexual orientation change is possible.
Simon Riches, the second last leader in his testimonial on the Sydney
Anglicans site, 10 years ago, commented that he still experiences same sex
attraction but encourages people "Don't
give up. Don't give up walking with Christ and don't give up on your journey of
healing and wholeness".
leader, Haydn Sennitt in his lengthy testimonial
states emphatically "No one is born
gay. No one can be a gay Christian because God has made us for
heterosexual sexual unity. Jesus, His Father, and the Holy Spirit can
heal and change people and it's not just me. There's no excuse for failing to
trust God because He does transform".
four decades, ex-gay organisations, said that being gay was a sin and that
God's power could transform homosexuals into heterosexuals. That message, which created a false hope and compounded shame left a trail of damaged lives and suicides. Finally in 2012, Alan Chambers,
former president of Exodus International, admitted that "99.9%" of the people
he knew "have not experienced a
change in their orientation". Whilst some still refuse to believe Alan
Chambers statement, it was the death knell of Christian ex-gay ministries. In Australia ex-gay organizations like LCM vowed
to maintain their message. David Peterson, Chairman of Liberty Ministries, said
at this time “The breakup of Exodus International is very much an American event,
generated by unresolved theological and methodological approaches. New
organisations have already sprung up in the US, pursuing the original goal of
trying to help those with unwanted same-sex attraction live as faithful
Ron Brookman, leader of Living Waters, also made claims
the battle. Within 12 months though Living Waters, mysteriously closed
like LCM have only two choices; to close down or change their message.
The LCM conference
speaker this week, Dr Wesley Hills, has a different message it appears. He seems to have
no problem with the term "gay Christian" which has previously been
rejected by these organizations as impossible. In
an interview Wesley is asked "You also describe yourself as a "celibate gay
Christian." Walk us through your scriptural journey to that term". He responds
thoughtfully to that and with a very different rhetoric to the one we are
familiar with from American evangelicals.
There has been an
increasing number of churches and people willing to accept that a person is gay
innately and it can't be changed, but at this stage, that is a far as it goes.
From the ashes of the failed ex-gay movement comes the new celibate gay Christian
Of course I'm
grateful that these people have accepted
the reality that being gay is okay and not in conflict with a person's faith
and I have to respect peoples personal choice like Wesley to be celibate. But
the new message " you can't act on it" is problematic. I believe this
continues to have a negative impact on young gay and lesbian people in
churches. To put this in everyday terms, the message now is essentially
"you can never fall in love or have a life partner like others in the
church". It is like a sentence inflicted by people who only see sexual
orientation in terms of a sex act and not as it truly is. Our sexual
orientation is fundamental to the core of our being and profoundly influences
who we love and people we would want to spend the rest of our lives with. The
most beautiful experiences we can have as human beings, such as love and
intimacy, flow from our same sex or opposite sex orientation. As with being
gay, love should never be something we are ashamed of.
What I do find
interesting, actually sad, is that these groups in Australia, having changed
their position now from "unwanted same sex attraction" to "gay
celibate Christian", have not taken the time to publicly state the change
or apologize to the individuals they preached a false message to for years. A simple "sorry we were wrong" would be a start. But only the
beginning. Essentially they are unaware of the heartache, trauma or damage
their previous message produced.
Venn-Brown, has monitored ex-gay activities in Australia, challenged false
claims made by individuals and organisations and spoken out about the dangers
for over fifteen years.
© Anthony Venn-Brown
Anthony Venn-Brown is one of Australia's foremost commentators on faith and sexuality. His autobiography '"A Life of Unlearnin - a preacher's struggle with his homosexuality, church and faith", detailing his journey from married, high profile
preacher in Australia’s growing mega-churches, such as Hillsong, to living as
an openly gay man, has impacted 1,000';s globally. Anthony was the co-founder and former leader of Freedom 2 b[e], Australia’s largest
network of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people from Christian
backgrounds. He is also an educator
and consultant on LGBT/faith issues and leader in deconstructing
the ‘ex-gay’ myth.
Anthony is the founder and CEO of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders
International whose mission is to end the unnecessary suffering
caused by ignorance and misinformation about sexual orientation by empowering
LGBT community members, building bridges with the Church, providing resources
and media/social networking activities.
Anthony has been twice voted ‘One of the 25 Most Influential
Gay and Lesbian Australians’ (2007 & 2009) and was a finalist for the 2011
ACON Community Hero Award.
Labels: ex-gay, gay christian, Liberty Christian Ministries