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3365Re: Love in Action: A Defense

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  • Norm
    Feb 1, 2005
      Interesting article, Drew. I understand that you feel your article
      from two years ago was too harsh, so I'll try to restrain my

      Your article defends Love In Action from an allegation that its
      leader, John Smid, encouraged a participant, Tom Ottosen, to commit
      suicide rather than accept his homosexuality. From my own
      experience in a similar "ex-gay" ministry and fundamentalist
      Christianity, the promotion of suicide as an alternative to
      homosexuality is very unusual. It seems likely that there was a
      miscommunication or a misunderstanding. Since both provide
      differing accounts of the conversation, only Smid and Ottosen know
      what was said and intended in their conversation.

      It's not far-fetched for me to believe mortality was explicitly or
      implicitly part of Smid's or LIA's message. Fundamentalist
      Christianity often has a death-fixation on heaven/hell, eternal
      life/damnation, etc. Hell is still a major part of most Christians'
      doctrines even if it is usually unspoken. So, it's not unreasonable
      to think that a frustrated "ex-gay" participant could conclude that
      prematurely dying as a struggling-but-saved-Christian is better than
      dying as an unsaved-homosexual. The implicit message I received in
      my "ex-gay" experience was that if I accepted my homosexuality, I
      would contract HIV/AIDS, live without a family, and/or die alone.

      After reading your defense of LIA and your experience there, I have
      to ask, Drew: Would you recommend LIA to others? If so, what type
      of person would you refer? What cautions would you have about LIA?


      --- In exexgayministry@yahoogroups.com, Drew VanDyche
      <vandyche@y...> wrote:
      > Below is an article that I wrote back in January 2002 in response
      to a fanatically liberal statement by a gay professor. Although I
      think maybe I came down too harsh on Tom Ottosen, sorry Tom, I think
      it shows that no matter which side we fall on, we all can get a
      little bit out of hand. And please don't beat me up over it, even I
      cringe at how arrogantly judgemental I was being. But my professor
      made me sooooo mad! :-)
      > Love in Action: A Defense by Drew VanDyche
      > "Christianity's goal throughout history has always been the
      annihilation of the homosexual," Professor X stated calmly and then
      sat back in self-satisfaction to watch my reaction.
      > `What an absurd statement!' I thought and `Where did that come
      from?' sped through my mind.
      > "You're saying that Christians want to kill homosexuals?" I choked
      > "Well, don't you think so?" His eyes peered down at me over his
      > "No!" I looked at him in stupefaction.
      > "Well, you have to admit that they would all breathe a collective
      sigh of relief if we would just go away altogether." He quipped, an
      under-current of mockery in his tone.
      > Now I couldn't exactly disagree with him on this point.
      Christianity or the "Church" as I shall hereafter interchangeably
      refer to it, has been for the most part antithetical to
      homosexuality. People who purport to be Christians have committed
      horrendous atrocities in the name of God. And the Church, as an
      institution, has often passed judgement on homosexuals with both
      overt and covert hatred in word and action.
      > But is this the only testimony that we have from the Christian
      sector? Today we see the Church around us constantly changing and
      adapting to life in the new millennium. We hear of gays and lesbians
      accepted as priests and pastors in local congregations and abroad.
      States are slowly accepting concepts of same-sex marriage with
      licensed ministers able to perform them. And some churches are even
      actively seeking homosexuals for membership. Are these not examples
      of positive change for homosexuals by the Church?
      > But to compare those who claim Christianity with a Nazi regime of
      homosexual extinction? I find the concept appalling! The proverbial
      statement most often quoted by Christians is "love the sinner, hate
      the sin." Albeit living the proverb is an entirely different thing
      than just speaking it.
      > As I wandered into class the following day Professor X handed me
      an article that he had printed off the Internet. An article that he
      claimed proved his point.
      > "Love in Action: The Final Indoctrination" (Anderson) documents an
      interview done with Tom Ottosen, a former ex-gay who spent some time
      living in a ministry house run by Love in Action (San Rafael, CA).
      Tom claims that John Smid, a primary leader of Love in Action,
      warned him that "I would rather you commit suicide than have you
      leave Love in Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle. In a
      physical death you could still have a spiritual resurrection;
      whereas, returning to homosexuality you are yielding yourself to a
      spiritual death from which there is no recovery." Ottosen goes on to
      say that at this time, Smid was clearly aware of his suicidal
      tendencies and extreme depression. This was Ottosen's second year in
      Love in Action.
      > If this statement is true, then I am deeply grieved and ashamed
      that John, not a trained psychotherapist, but an administrator type,
      in attempting to convey the gravity that he felt regarding the
      situation, took such an extreme position. But is an equally
      incendiary response from the left warranted? And should all
      Christianity be condemned by one man's actions?
      > It is on this one man's testimony alone and one article alone that
      Professor X takes his position. How do I know this? Because I have
      done the research and find no corroboration for Ottosen's claims.
      Not one person has ever stepped forward to give credence to
      Ottosen's claims. Dennis Anderson, himself, is untraceable via the
      world wide web except in reference to this one article, written back
      in 1994 for a pro-gay Sonoma County publication called "We the
      People" who it would seem hold the copyright. All other references
      to Dennis Anderson on the Internet lead directly back to this one
      article and this article is even cited as a source for other pro-gay
      anti-Christian propaganda. There are no citations given except this
      one interview, no references to any other documentation supporting
      it, nor has the article been peer-reviewed.
      > John Smid has continuously denied all allegations regarding this
      article. And even ex-ex-gays Jeffrey Coates and Gary Hayashi, former
      members of the Anaheim based ministry "Desert Stream," respond that
      they have never heard anyone from within ex-gay circles recommend
      suicide. The idea is preposterous. Without more evidence how can
      anyone be anything but skeptical about the veracity of this article?
      The other reason that I remain dubious of this accusation stems from
      my own experience with Love in Action. (I was a graduate of the 1988
      live in program along with well-known "Love Won Out" conference
      speaker and ex-gay poster boy John Paulk.)
      > Love in Action and other ex-gay ministries were birthed in the
      early 70's in response to the waning free-love generation and on the
      rising popularity of the Jesus movement. During this time, many self-
      help and twelve steps programs were instituted and a population of
      maturing hippies and flower children sought solace in answers other
      than that of instant gratification and open relationships. Many "ego-
      dystonic" homosexuals, (A psychological catch-phrase describing
      those with an internal or external statement of identity that is not
      syntonic or compatible with one's belief system) with roots in
      Christian middle-class suburbia, began seeking resolution to the
      conflict within them by the hope of changing what they considered to
      be their sexual orientation. The philosophy fueling these efforts
      consisted of a mixture of biblical fundamentalism, Freudian
      psychology, and an in-depth scrutiny of self, followed by teaching
      in regards to sex roles and gender identification. In other words, a
      > "why we do the things we do" approach to habitual behavior and
      its modification. This was accomplished primarily through a 24-hour
      live-in accountability program for those wanting to follow a "Steps
      Out of Homosexuality" program run by Frank Worthen, founder of Love
      in Action and considered to be the father of all ex-gay ministries.
      > Based in the small town of San Rafael, California, just north of
      the Golden Gate and just twenty minutes from the gay Mecca of San
      Francisco, Frank found his converts by advertising in San Francisco
      alternative papers with just a simple "Gay? Want Out? Call Frank"
      and his phone number. He was soon overwhelmed by the number of calls
      that he was receiving. The ministry began as a way to provide call-
      in support as well as small group meetings for those desiring an
      > Love in Action quickly became a media target by militant gays who
      felt that such constituents of their community should not even be
      given the right to attempt to change their sexual orientation even
      if they were conflicted about it. Gay proponents responded with a
      disdainful "get over it" and "give in" rhetoric to those struggling
      to accept their sexual identity. After all, the American Psychiatric
      Association removed homosexuality from the deviant behavior list,
      why shouldn't every individual with homosexual tendencies? Again, we
      see another knee-jerk, oversimplified and polarized response to what
      is really a personal and complex issue.
      > When Frank first started out, changing a person's orientation
      wasn't his primary focus. A statement that was often heard out of
      his mouth was "It's not my goal to change you. If you come out of
      this year having a closer relationship with Jesus, then I am
      > Anita Worthen, a woman he married after she came to him for
      counseling regarding her gay son, also proved to be a powerful
      influence upon the ministry. We now jokingly state that she "put the
      pants on" Love in Action. Her masculine qualities, clearly the
      dominant of her gender and character traits, often invalidated the
      feminine and often campy sides of our personalities and she had no
      tolerance for anyone manifesting affectations of "our old life."
      Many, no scratch that, "I" still bear the scars of emotional
      wounding by her moral superiority, righteous indignation and
      forthright personality. (Resolution doesn't come easily once one
      falls out of grace with Exodus or any of its affiliations.)
      > But the majority of the problems for the ministry did not begin
      happening until John Smid joined the ministry and the live-in
      program was born. John, a strict disciplinarian with a tendency to
      utilize his own conversion experience as an ideal grid for change,
      was quick with a frown of disapproval and ostracizing sanctions for
      those unable, or as he usually defined it "unwilling" to conform to
      > However, even with his faults in view, I do not believe that John
      would ever encourage a person to suicide. With his track record of
      judging others by his own standards, it would be easy for one
      already prone to self-condemnation to turn John's personal
      conviction statement into a condemnatory mandate.
      > In my opinion, Tom wanted a way out. He could have walked away at
      any time, but maybe did not have the resources or wherewithal to
      make such a drastic life change, after all, he'd given up so much to
      put himself into the situation; twice even. John's mistake afforded
      Tom the opportunity to solidify his choice by projecting blame on
      Love in Action. I am not saying that Love in Action is entirely
      without fault. But by turning it into a life or death, fight or
      flight situation, Tom didn't have to take full responsibility for
      his choice. Tom Ottosen used this situation to catapult him out into
      a new reality. He got more than his 15 minutes of fame, but where is
      he now? Is he better off? Did his internal conflicts simply
      disappear because he escaped what he and others still consider to be
      a cult?
      > The media loves to polarize issues and conflict is drama. If you
      can bump up the conflict, you increase the drama and multiply your
      audience. Love in Action became a high profile debate in the bay
      area and Frank Worthen, a wonderfully kind man, was exalted by the
      Christian media to a pedestal, not of his own choosing, and then was
      subsequently cast down from it by its secular counterpart.
      > For most of those that I know through Love in Action, we have come
      out from the experience stronger than we were before. Many of us
      have integrated our homosexual identities into our over-all
      existence. Many still manifest a bi-polar behavioral modification
      syndrome of addiction and repression. Some are still not sure where
      exactly we fit on the Kinsey scale, and yes, some of us have even
      married women and had children. Regardless, we have not given up our
      faith, or our hope, nor do we think that our time with Love in
      Action was wasted. A very wise one once said, "It's not what happens
      to you in life that matters, but how you respond to it." Some of us
      still attempt to live by that motto.
      > Whether you are a Christian or non-Christian, I leave you with
      these thoughts. Christian mythology and philosophy says that man
      fell from grace and was cast out of paradise when he partook of the
      Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. I believe that when we
      polarize, posture ourselves faction against faction, one against
      another, turn everything into all black and all white, we continue
      to partake of that tree. God never wanted us to be good he wanted us
      to be real. (Hayashi) Reality is not black and white. Reality can
      only be portrayed fully in the rainbow of all its glory.
      > Works Cited
      > Anderson, Dennis "Love in Action: The Final Indoctrination" We the
      People March 1994
      > Hayashi, Gary "Free to be Loved" Conference Speaker, San Francisco
      Vineyard Nov 1996
      > Bio: Drew VanDyche
      > Drew VanDyche (ASCAP) holds a Bachelors degree in Performing Arts
      from the University of Tampa. His artistry, articles, reviews and
      editorials have appeared in various publications including what he
      warmly calls local "gay" rags. His poetry has been published in
      numerous anthologies including the Library of Poetry's Millennium
      Edition and most recently, the University of Tampa's "Quilt"
      anthology 2002. In 2000, he teamed up with composer Chuck Whiting
      (BMI/ASCAP), Nashville, TN and formed VanDyche/Whiting Productions
      to foster their love for music and even had the opportunity to work
      with Nashville Star winner, Buddy Jewell, on his poignant country
      balled "The One." Chuck is currently pitching songs to the powers
      that be in Music City, while Drew is taking time off in California
      before he returns to grad school.
      > Drew VanDyche
      > aka: Drewcifer, Drewski, Drewblood...
      > http://profiles.yahoo.com/vandyche
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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