July 09, 2012 1:34 pm ET - by Carlos Maza
Robert Gagnon, the anti-gay bible “expert” speaking at the National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM) “It Takes A Family” (ITAF) conference later this month, published a scathing, 35-page critique last week in response to an interview with “ex-gay” leader Alan Chambers, which appeared in June 20 in The Atlantic.
In the interview, Chambers – who is the president of “ex-gay” group Exodus International – appeared to soften his position on homosexuality, stating that even homosexual behavior could not “interrupt someone’s relationship with Christ.”
In his response, Gagnon went into great detail rebutting Chambers, arguing that gay people will face “the wrath of God” if they choose to participate in homosexual behavior:
The wrath of God is still coming on the disobedient. Those who profess to be Christians but live sexually immoral lives will be classed with the disobedient and left “no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” Any other claim is deception (“let no one deceive you with empty words”). Note too that in Rom 1:24-27 Paul explicitly labels homosexual practice as a particularly egregious instance of sexual impurity (akatharsia), one of the terms used in the passage from Ephesians cited above. [emphasis added]
Though most of Gagnon’s response is dedicated to finding biblical justifications for targeting and condemning homosexuality, he also criticized Chambers for distancing himself from the National Association for the Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), one of the most widely discredited “ex-gay” research organizations in America. According to Gagnon, Chambers’ decision to dissociate with reparative therapy goes “too far”:
I feel that Alan has gone too far in trying to disassociate Exodus from reparative therapy.
The purge mentality that Alan appears to be operating with strikes me as an overreaction: an attempt by Alan at inoculating Exodus and himself from the intemperate reactions of strident homosexualists. It is not necessary that reparative therapy achieve complete transformation from “gay” to straight in order to be helpful. One or two shifts along the Kinsey spectrum or a change in intensity of homosexual impulses can be beneficial. Alan’s anecdotal comment that “99.9 percent” of the people that he has come across in Exodus have not been able to eliminate every vestige of same-sex attraction is great press for homosexualist advocacy groups but otherwise meaningless. It would be a different story if Alan claimed that not even incremental changes in orientation occur but that appears not to be the case. (I have heard from a reliable source that he acknowledged recently to Exodus leaders that “deep and lasting change does occur in numerous ways for maturing believers.”)
Not everyone will have experienced same-sex attractions as a result of a perceived distance with a same-sex parent or peers. But apparently some do and experience significant help from such a therapeutic model. I can understand that some believers who have not experienced the shift in orientation that they hoped for from reparative therapy would not be high on its use. Yet since the narrative “reparative therapy didn’t help me (or help me enough)” is not true for everyone in the “ex-gay” movement, why be so all-or-nothing and close off opportunities for others? In shutting off Exodus completely from NARTH and any orientation-change approach, Alan Chambers is making the issue of reparative therapy all one thing or all the other. [emphasis added]
Gagnon’s response to the Chambers’ interview is just the latest of the anti-gay comments he’s made in the weeks leading up to this month’s NOM ITAF conference, where he’ll be talking to students about biblical views on homosexuality.
In a recent radio interview, Gagnon claimed that homosexuality carries “disproportionately high rates of measurable harm” and compared acceptance of homosexuality to allowing a child to walk into a busy intersection.
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