Thursday, September 23, 2010

Possible Benefits of Ex-Gay Ministry

This NPR interview discusses aspects of various Ex-Gay Ministries. Issues covered include the use of Reparative Therapy, the power of communal living, and accountability. The various groups in the Ex-Gay movement are is many ways similar to various Alcoholics Anonymous groups. For someone who wants to change, the 12 steps are often effective. Forcing someone to join an Ex-Gay ministry could potentially cause more harm (or only harm) rather than good; however, the person that does fit the criteria for Reparative Therapy and does not want to be gay, or maybe wants to learn more about himself, could benefit from the various aspects of the program.

Accountability is a beneficial aspect of life. Confession sounds bad, but being able to tell the truth about yourself is extremely liberating. Having a group of people to share your downfalls with is powerful. You are able to learn that you are not as strange or messed up as you think. I am not sure if the Ex-Gay ministry focuses on grace, but as a Christian organization, it should.* In a group that understands the **grace of God, people will not judge you, nor will they shun you. If there is not mutual respect and brotherly love there is no community or accountability. The accountability would be transmogrified into forced actions.

If there is a habit that you want to change, having people who want to support you and want you to be healthier is going to help. The person who is quitting smoking, can not do it on his own. There are various forms of help include: the patch, for the nicotine cravings; candy cigarettes, for the person addicted to the action of lifting the cigarette; and people, who are willing to encourage you and ease your guilt. Everyone needs someone to talk to at some time.

We need to be supporting each other through our struggles, but in order for us to fully support one another, we need to be open. I was a camp counselor for a couple summers***. One of the camps is set up like an 1880’s style log fort. You live here with around 40 people for 5 nights a week and you live in cabin on the weekends. You shower about once a week. The weeks consist of around 40 miles of hiking. You also have horses popping their noses in you cabin window. Basically, you smell. You get to know your staff very well. You experience the “happies and the crappies” of life with these people and they love you no matter what.

Various types of therapy (I would argue group therapy) are beneficial for most people. If you have access to free therapy as a benefit of you work or school, go. Going to therapy does not make you crazy. That belief is a stigma that our society has inaccurately created. On the other side of that maybe we are all crazy and that is why therapy benefits us all. We all have our issues and mis-beliefs. Why not challenge ourselves to improve these fallacies?

Regardless of my personal thoughts on Ex-Gay ministries and the movement, some of the same aspects that are beneficial in the 12 step programs may also benefit members of the Ex-Gay ministries.

Future Posts - If you want me to address these soon, just ask.
*I will address it later but read The Ragamuffin Gospels or What’s so Amazing about Grace if you don’t understand the arguments that say it is wonderful.
**Christ was 95% grace, and someone labeling themselves with his name should attempt to be as well.
***I am in this camp video.  It is a bit of a big deal, not really, but my hair was sweet. - go to 5:02.

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