A final dispatch from the Family Impact Summit:
The session on Homosexuality and Youth was dominated by the youth division of Exodus, an organization that believes gays can and should be “healed” and that LGBT people should not be protected against legal discrimination. Exodus opposes legal recognition of same-sex couples, same-sex parenting and adoption, and hate crimes laws.
The session drew attention to efforts by Exodus and others to put a friendly face on its anti-gay message. In response to pro-tolerance and anti-harassment campaigns by pro-equality students, like the Day of Silence, Exodus is promoting a product called “Truth and Tolerance,” (truthandtolerance.net) designed to put anti-gay students on record against bullying (alliestoo.org), and calling for tolerance of students who want to make the case that gay youth need to be straightened out by God.
The session was moderated by Scott Davis from Exodus’ youth division. Davis, a former campus minister, blamed homosexuality on the sexual revolution and broken families, and said that young people are searching for intimacy. He said young people need to be taught a “biblical view of gender” and called on participants to help rescue teens by teaching and modeling “correct” genders, mentoring, and giving them a reason to be pure – a deep intimacy with God. (Some “reparative” therapies work on turning gays straight by making the women wear makeup and use purses, while men play football and learn to fix cars as the first step to becoming “real men.”)
Mike Ensley, also affiliated with the Exodus youth section, called himself a “former homosexual” who “never wanted to be gay.” Ensley said relational ministry has helped him correct his “misperceptions” of gender and that Exodus “rescued” him, though he said change is not a 180 degree turnaround but an “ongoing process.” Ensley, like many other conference speakers, also argued that hate crimes laws are being used to “silence” Christians.
Christine, a young woman who leads Worthy Creations, a “recovery” ministry affiliated with Exodus, said she was homosexual at age 15. She criticized church leaders who don’t want to talk about homosexuality, saying pro-gay “propaganda” is everywhere. Like other conference speakers, Christine said there are new reasons for teens to be involved in homosexuality.
In contrast to “classic lesbianism,” to use Ensley’s terminology, where women who experienced abuse or were taught that men aren’t safe, girls are now becoming lesbians because of a “try it out and see if you like it” mentality. Christine’s message to young women who try it and like it is that their conclusion shouldn’t be that they are gay, but that “everything works” physically: “Even very unhealthy relationships can feel good,” she said, drawing a parallel to some abused children she said experience pleasure from sexual abuse.
Christine argued that there are four types of homosexuals that need to be dealt with:
1. Militant – Christians need to defend against activists without attacking gays.
2. Moderate – gays who are not ‘out and proud;’ Christians should reach out to them as ambassadors for Christ.
3. Repentant – people who are struggling with being gay or “coming out of homosexuality” and attracted to groups like Exodus. Kristine says she is appalled that some Christians don’t offer them more support.
4. Gay and Christian – sincere but part of “the deception” because they are believing a lie.
Regina Griggs heads PFOX, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays, though her own son came out nine years ago and apparently shows no interest in becoming “ex-gay.” She blames school counselors and Gay-Straight Alliance clubs for giving young people information that leads to affirmation of a gay identity. The biggest problem, she said, is that parents aren’t standing up to schools and need to be more involved.
Our thanks to YP4 Fellows Mychel Estevez and Zachary Dryden for their coverage of this event.