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3368Re: Love in Action: A Defense

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  • Norm
    Feb 1, 2005
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      Drew: >>>"...I'm not exactly sure how it came into being, but
      somehow the concept that I was inherently evil worked into my
      psyche. That somewhere inside there worked a death wish. ..."<<<

      Although I don't know your history and I'm not qualified to act as
      therapist, my knee-jerk reaction would be to hold fundamentalist
      Christianity and "ex-gay" theology responsible as the part of the
      roots of your self-loathing. I know fundamentalist Christians
      and "ex-gay" promoters claim that they are offer affirmation and not
      hell-fire sermons. However, original sin doctrine and damnation are
      major parts of most Christians' belief systems. So, it's not
      surprising that any Christian would learn from the earliest ages
      that s/he is sinful, evil, and damned. Gay Christians are
      particularly at-risk of believing that we are evil because we have
      seemingly inate "sinful" attractions.

      >>>"...I have only begun to realize that the "spirit" inside me is
      pure, having accepted the gift of a Savior and yet that "spirit" is
      housed within my soul, which is not."<<<

      For me, the most profound change in theology was the realization
      that Jesus' message was about building the kingdom of God here and
      now -- not the afterlife. As I've said before, fundamentalist
      Christianity is too death-orientated. I was raised in a "bunker"
      fundamentalist church that was just waiting for The End and was very
      dismissive of society/humanity. Even evangelical churches that
      specialize in positive community outreach often concentrate on the
      afterlife and end times. Too often, the message is that we humans
      fall short and are ultimately incapable of creating anything
      meaningful in our mortal lives -- except for recruiting new

      The idea that God created us to build God's kingdom during our
      mortal lives is very empowering. I credit many of the recent social
      advances (racial justice, gender equality, human rights,
      environmental stewardship, etc.) to the theology of being citizens
      of God's kingdom here and now. The recent MLK holiday observance
      and a special service at my local UCC celebrating its open and
      affirming pledge remind me how far our society has come in a
      relative short time and how the progress our society needs to
      continue to strive for.

      >>>...I have often pondered whether a live-in program model falls
      short in and of itself, or whether or not there is a way to make it
      work. My dream is to one day own a house or property where God
      brings others to live to learn to love each other in spirit and in
      truth. I hope that some day I have the chance to see it happen.<<<

      For some reason, I find "ex-gay" live-in programs interesting. When
      I was pursuing the "ex-gay" lifestyle, I wondered if I was "screwed-
      up" enough to join a live-in program. :-) Afterall, the weekly "ex-
      gay" meetings and daily regiment didn't seem to have any positive
      effect on me. The idea of an intensive, 24/7 program seemed
      drastic, but must work somehow. Right?

      Your dream of creating a home is beautiful and you seem to
      understand the risks and possible short-comings of the live-in
      model. Locally, we have a gay mens Christian community that
      ultimately would like to build some kind of home. The caution I and
      others have is how exactly would such a community be structured,
      would appropriate boundaries be set, and would how would such a
      community avoid codependence and other unhealthy relationships.
      Again, I assume you are considering these things so I don't mean to
      rain on your parade, but I would be interested in hearing more.


      --- In exexgayministry@yahoogroups.com, Drew VanDyche
      <vandyche@y...> wrote:
      > Norm:
      > Thanks for being understanding.
      > I know what it is like to feel self-loathing and it is a
      programming that I am unraveling with my therapist. I'm not exactly
      sure how it came into being, but somehow the concept that I was
      inherently evil worked into my psyche. That somewhere inside there
      worked a death wish. I have only begun to realize that the "spirit"
      inside me is pure, having accepted the gift of a Savior and yet
      that "spirit" is housed within my soul, which is not.
      > Would I recommend LIA to others? No. There are other ministries
      that I would recommend prior to any kind of live in
      experience. "Theotherapy" being one of them. Theotherapy utilizes a
      lay person facilitated gestalt therapy (role-playing) model and was
      highly beneficial on my journey towards becoming a whole person.
      > I think you can get information about theotherapy through the
      Belmont Church in Nashville.
      > http://www.belmont.org/
      > And yet my heart is to provide a "family" for others, something
      that I never truly had, a safe place for growth into the fullness
      and wholeness as children of God. I have often pondered whether a
      live-in program model falls short in and of itself, or whether or
      not there is a way to make it work. My dream is to one day own a
      house or property where God brings others to live to learn to love
      each other in spirit and in truth. I hope that some day I have the
      chance to see it happen.
      > In His Care,
      > Drew
      > Norm <nojam75@y...> wrote:
      > Interesting article, Drew. I understand that you feel your
      > from two years ago was too harsh, so I'll try to restrain my
      > reaction.
      > Your article defends Love In Action from an allegation that its
      > leader, John Smid, encouraged a participant, Tom Ottosen, to
      > 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
      > doctrines even if it is usually unspoken. So, it's not
      > to think that a frustrated "ex-gay" participant could conclude
      > prematurely dying as a struggling-but-saved-Christian is better
      > dying as an unsaved-homosexual. The implicit message I received
      > 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
      > to ask, Drew: Would you recommend LIA to others? If so, what type
      > of person would you refer? What cautions would you have about
      > Norm!
      > --- In exexgayministry@yahoogroups.com, Drew VanDyche
      > <vandyche@y...> wrote:
      > > Below is an article that I wrote back in January 2002 in
      > to a fanatically liberal statement by a gay professor. Although I
      > think maybe I came down too harsh on Tom Ottosen, sorry Tom, I
      > 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
      > 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
      > 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
      > out.
      > >
      > > "Well, don't you think so?" His eyes peered down at me over his
      > glasses.
      > >
      > > "No!" I looked at him in stupefaction.
      > >
      > > "Well, you have to admit that they would all breathe a
      > sigh of relief if we would just go away altogether." He quipped,
      > 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
      > 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
      > actively seeking homosexuals for membership. Are these not
      > of positive change for homosexuals by the Church?
      > >
      > > But to compare those who claim Christianity with a Nazi regime
      > homosexual extinction? I find the concept appalling! The
      > statement most often quoted by Christians is "love the sinner,
      > 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
      > claimed proved his point.
      > >
      > > "Love in Action: The Final Indoctrination" (Anderson) documents
      > interview done with Tom Ottosen, a former ex-gay who spent some
      > 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
      > say that at this time, Smid was clearly aware of his suicidal
      > tendencies and extreme depression. This was Ottosen's second year
      > Love in Action.
      > >
      > > If this statement is true, then I am deeply grieved and ashamed
      > that John, not a trained psychotherapist, but an administrator
      > 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
      > 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
      > 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-
      > anti-Christian propaganda. There are no citations given except
      > 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,
      > members of the Anaheim based ministry "Desert Stream," respond
      > 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
      > The other reason that I remain dubious of this accusation stems
      > my own experience with Love in Action. (I was a graduate of the
      > 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
      > rising popularity of the Jesus movement. During this time, many
      > help and twelve steps programs were instituted and a population of
      > maturing hippies and flower children sought solace in answers
      > 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
      > 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
      > 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,
      > > "why we do the things we do" approach to habitual behavior and
      > its modification. This was accomplished primarily through a 24-
      > live-in accountability program for those wanting to follow
      a "Steps
      > Out of Homosexuality" program run by Frank Worthen, founder of
      > 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
      > alternative papers with just a simple "Gay? Want Out? Call Frank"
      > and his phone number. He was soon overwhelmed by the number of
      > 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
      > out.
      > >
      > > Love in Action quickly became a media target by militant gays
      > 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
      > to accept their sexual identity. After all, the American
      > Association removed homosexuality from the deviant behavior list,
      > why shouldn't every individual with homosexual tendencies? Again,
      > see another knee-jerk, oversimplified and polarized response to
      > 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
      > satisfied."
      > >
      > > 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
      > 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
      > those unable, or as he usually defined it "unwilling" to conform
      > it.
      > >
      > > However, even with his faults in view, I do not believe that
      > 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
      > 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
      > put himself into the situation; twice even. John's mistake
      > 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
      > a new reality. He got more than his 15 minutes of fame, but where
      > he now? Is he better off? Did his internal conflicts simply
      > disappear because he escaped what he and others still consider to
      > 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
      > subsequently cast down from it by its secular counterpart.
      > >
      > > For most of those that I know through Love in Action, we have
      > 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
      > 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
      > 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
      > to you in life that matters, but how you respond to it." Some of
      > 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
      > 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
      > 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
      > People March 1994
      > >
      > > Hayashi, Gary "Free to be Loved" Conference Speaker, San
      > Vineyard Nov 1996
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > Bio: Drew VanDyche
      > >
      > > Drew VanDyche (ASCAP) holds a Bachelors degree in Performing
      > 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
      > 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
      > >
      > >
      > >
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