Debbie Thurman responds to ex-exgay change fallacies

Excellent responses and spiritual insight from Debbie Thurman, founder of The Formers website. She refutes weak arguments by Anthony Venn-Brown, who we’ve also taken to task over his spreading fear about the overcoming process. The following is from The Formers discussion forum:

[Venn-Brown]: Before you invest the time, money, emotional energy and possibly years of your life trying to go from gay to straight, ask the ex-gay leaders what guarantee they can give you that it will work. If they are honest with you, the best they will be able to offer you is a degree of ‘heterosexual functionality’, but the gay never actually goes away. Then ask yourself what would be the best way to spend your life, time, money and emotional energy…..rejecting yourself or accepting yourself. Obviously loving yourself is far healthier emotionally, psychologically and spiritually, than self-loathing. After 22 years of trying to change including ex-gay programs, exorcisms and 16 years of marriage, I came to the realization that, in order to live a truly fulfilling life, the latter is a far better option than the former. Like 1,000’s of others today, I finally discovered I can live a wonderfully rewarding, moral life as an openly gay man and …………still have my faith. …

I want to address some fallacies in Venn-Brown’s argument:

It should also be noted that some people suffering from sexual abuse or addiction gain support and relief through some “ex-gay” organisations. We need to understand though, that heterosexuals who have experienced sexual abuse don’t say it made them heterosexual. Also heterosexuals with a sexual addiction never blame their sexual orientation or try to reject it. They understand that the addiction and their orientation are two separate things.

1. That the only alternative to being gay is being straight or fully heterosexual. This leaves out the perfectly legitimate option of choosing celibacy, even if all same-sex feelings are not eradicated. Why should we believe God would eliminate this temptation, which goes to deeply rooted psychological and spiritual brokenness, when He doesn’t eliminate others, like heterosexual temptation, pride, greed and other lusts of the flesh? Did God eliminate Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”? He did not. He merely said, “My grace is sufficient for you for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). This is a truth Christian gay activists (or “ambassadors,” to use Venn-Brown’s self-moniker) choose to ignore, at the peril of judgment.

2. That the gay never goes away. The gay can and does go away. “Gay” is a social, political and now a religious identity. That can disappear when one decides to stop belonging to that community. Same-sex attraction or homosexual thoughts may not ever fully go away. What if they don’t? See the above. That’s no excuse.

3. That you must reject or hate yourself if you eschew homosexuality or a gay identity. What we are all called to do, when we come to Christ, is to deny our right to ourselves–to take up our cross and follow him. We are no longer ours but his. What we must reject is our sin nature, realizing, as Paul did, that we will still want to do the very things we hate from time to time (see Romans 7:15-25). The world and its ruler pull at us nonstop, but we are not defenseless. We have spiritual weapons (Ephesians 6). Note, they are not carnal weapons. There is no self-actualization in Christianity. That is idolatry. If you love God (the first commandment), you will naturally come to love and be at peace with yourself. Enthrone yourself above Him, and you get chaos.

4. That affirming or accepting yourself as a homosexual is consistent with faith in Christ. You may choose to live as openly gay and still have “your” faith. The question is: faith in what or whom? You are saying you believe God can do many things, but changing you is not one of them. This is too hard for the God of the universe? Please! It is too hard for you. Many things are too hard for us. We don’t give in to them all.

The second paragraph I quoted from Venn-Brown is about the most ludicrous thing I have ever seen. Childhood sexual abuse causes one to be disordered in several predictable ways. Heterosexual abuse (that’s mostly a male abusing a female) may lead to a hyper-sexualized personality that is basically heterosexual. It also can lead to a rejection of the feminine (i.e., an identification with the masculine in order to be stronger) in girls, which also closely correlates with same-sex attraction. In boys abused by males, the abuse can lead to a fear of the loss of masculinity, and a conventional theory is that homosexual coupling is a means of meshing with or seeking the masculine. Other family or environmental dynamics can add to the confusion or brokenness. This is all widely available in the psychiatric literature and certainly not my theory or pontificating.

The straw man argument that sexual abuse doesn’t make one heterosexual is meaningless. It makes one heterosexually disordered, the same as it can make one homosexually disordered. But we don’t have a movement trying to normalize sexual addictions of the straight variety (except by NAMBLA and the like) because it is obvious to most that they are not a good thing. They are self-destructive behaviors, often leading to a cycle of abuse. We know about the “bad” gays. But gays setting up house just like straight couples are increasingly viewed as normal. Few want to address the soul-destructiveness of even these “good” relationships. Physical and emotional dependency (a sort of psychic cannibalism) where there is no natural gender complementarity is unhealthy, no matter how lovely it appears. It’s fool’s gold. And Satan is an angel of light, as well as the father of lies.


10 thoughts on “Debbie Thurman responds to ex-exgay change fallacies

  1. This is well written. I never really considered the temptations of homosexual attraction like I have considered my own temptations to lust after guys. God didn’t take away the temptation, but He provided a way of escape in the midst of it. I use His word and pray, and I flee potentially compromising situations. This article gave me new insight to the struggles of someone battling same-sex attractions.

  2. Why should we believe God would eliminate this temptation, which goes to deeply rooted psychological and spiritual brokenness…

    I personally believe that God can do anything, so why wouldn’t he deliver his people from this? I think it’s an error to even say something like “why should we believe God…” Afterall we have wonderful testimonies like those of Pastor Foster that gives hope that people can be changed…but if there’s a possibility that it won’t be eliminated, then what’s the point of trying? How are people to know what’s goiing to be eliminated and what’s not?

    Is it accurate to say from reading this article that bible beleving Christians who struggle with same sex attraction that hasn’t gone away only option is to live a life of celibacy?

    Or are they to marry the opposite sex regardless of the attraction…just so they can have an intimate relationship with someone…anyone?

  3. Much like you Camille I’ve battled with opposite sex attraction for all of my life, but I’ve never seen it as a struggle, and not much is said about opposite sex attractions and battles as a single person.

    But if same sex attraction battles and temptations are anything like opposite sex attractions and tempations, then I guess we’re in the same boat, because it’s not easy.

    God help us all!

  4. Good question/observation.

    I think that Debbie was first responding to the extreme fallacy offered by Venn-Brown to Christian people with ssa. Notice that he builds a false parallel i.e. If you struggle with same sex attraction its not going away so “accept yourself”. What does that mean? To Venn-Brown it means that engaging in homosexual relations are free and clear of the need to repent.

    Is that the answer for any Christian? Because you have a struggle with lust or temptation or attraction with something you release yourself to enjoy it?
    The “may never go away” is one of the wilderness lie temptation twists.

    Additionally, the word “struggle” may have various nuances with people. Struggle should mean an earnest desire to please God and repent of one’ s sinful actions even if they continue for a period of time.
    Conversely, Venn-Brown is saying give in and do what feels good to you. Peter’s struggle to accept the gentiles is an example of this. There may be better ones.

    The propensity to sin will never completely go away for any Christian until Jesus comes and our redemption is complete. Until that time, our response to the >i> invitation to sin is what is important and critical, just as it was to Jesus in the wilderness. Our reward for denying ourselves, disciplining our flesh and making mature spritual choices which please God is to hear the Lord say “well done”. He’s not going to say, “wow you lived a perfect life and that qualifies you for heaven.”

    The struggles with the flesh are an expected part of Christian living. Yet God has given us power (through the indwelling Spirit) and commanded us to discipline our flesh and the appetites of the flesh so that it does not master us.

    Freedom from homosexuality is submission to Christ.

    The only issue worth noting is that homosexuality is always inherently wrong in all forms, whereas heterosexuality is not wrong in all contexes. Only outside of male-female convenant marriage.

    The points of commonality is that no matter what the object of one’s sexual struggle, the Bible gives the same process of dealing with it.

  5. Good article. God delivered me out of a homosexual life. I understand and know first hand how difficult it is to “come out” of it and stay out. But, I have come to a couple of milestones.

    The pain of staying in homosexaulity is much greater than the pain of staying out. And though the desire to with another man is strong at times, the desire to stay in Jesus’s arms is much greater.

    I used to pray and wish God would cure me instantly. That it would all go away and I could wake up and be straight, be the man God created me to me.

    Over time I have realized God is not going to do “sexual surgery” on my desires and give me “heterosexaul implant”. I did’nt choose to have same sex attractions and I did’nt develope them over night. Transformation is not going to happen over night either. I am trusting in his power and grace to do the work. But, just like moses had to lift his staff over the red sea for the waters to part, God is expects us to lift our faith over the ocean of homosexuallity and watch the waters separate. And even still then we have to cross over..God makes us apart of the process and mircle. He does’nt do it all for us.

  6. I believe God has greater concerns than who loves whom – gay – straight or otherwise – there are questionable verses throughout the bible and if you read something enough you will find a way to make it mean what you want it to mean – but from my own experience I knew I was gay from a very young age and while it was discouraged and I hid it – I never said ‘please take this away’ – I wasn’t abused, quite the contrary I was loved and nurtured with the normal bumps along the way of growing up in Southern California – now close to 39 years of living I feel that those of you who are gay and feel that homosexuality is wrong – I have to ask – you probably weren’t born with biblical knowledge, you had to be taught, you had to sit down and read and for whatever reason you think that should override your natural feelings – something that you knew from the beginning – something that was as natural to you as breathing – some 2000 year old verses that have probably been twisted with translation, editing and thousands of years at the core of an organization that has had more than its fair share of corruption, treachery and lies – why would you put that over the truth in your heart? I pay my taxes, go to work, abide the laws, exercise regularly – I don’t smoke, drink alcohol or do drugs – I’ve never been promiscuous – why do I do that? Because the bible tells me? No, because I choose to live that way – yet I am condemned because I am in a commited relationship with another man? The reason I am even on this site is because I saw this today:

    so I did some searching and figured to put in my two cents – I hope that you realize that if homosexual feelings never truly go away – maybe its God telling you its OK to be yourself – the truth always ‘comes out’ so to speak – Hey – if you want to deny yourself your feelings, to not share your lfe with someone that understands you, to not love someone and be loved back – to deny yourself a chance at happiness – well – I guess that’s your perogative – don’t get me wrong – relationships are tough and you will meet a BUNCH of losers – you’ll probably have your heart ripped out – when it’s bad – its bad but when it’s great – ahhh – it’s heaven on earth – at least give that good old ‘gay life’ a chance and see if the world comes to an end…I’m guessing it won’t – be strong – live as you want – choose as you wish – but don’t be afraid to take a chance – you can always go back to denying your feelings and eating lots of ice cream later =;) Oh and one more thing – if gay people can become straight – then the opposite should also be true correct? If you straight people tried really hard, could you become gay? Now you understand how ludicrous it sounds to us!

  7. You wrote, “you probably weren’t born with biblical knowledge, you had to be taught, you had to sit down and read and for whatever reason you think that should override your natural feelings”.
    When Jesus Christ began to draw me the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin and it was not all about my same sex attractions, I became well aware that Jesus Christ is Lord and he loved me and died for my sins so that I could be forgiven by God and brought back into a relationship with Him and enjoy eternal life. After I finally gave my heart and my life to the Lord, the Holy Spirit baptized me and I was filled with the Holy Spirit. In that very instance when I experience the power of God inside me and all around me, I did not sit down for a biblical study and read verses about homosexuality being a sin. The Holy Spirit inside me told me it was a Sin! I thank God for the Bible. But I tell you from that day until now, if I never had a bible to read, if I never had a church to attend, or a pastor to preach a sermon to me– the Holy Spirit would lead me into ALL truth. Not just doctrine, but truth for my life and the way God desires me to live. And I assure you I speak the truth, the Holy Spirit convicted me that homosexuality is wrong and a sin in the sight of God.

    Just because you feel something is right for you doesn’t mean that it is. You said “2000 year old verses that have probably been twisted with translation, editing and thousands of years at the core of an organization that has had more than its fair share of corruption, treachery and lies – why would you put that over the truth in your heart?”
    There is NO, NO proof that the bible’s verses have been twisted from their original words. On the contrary the oldest transcripts found match what we have today. Oh, but like you said, “if you read something enough you will find a way to make it mean what you want it to mean”. I guess that is what you have done. You believe what is convenient for you to believe so you don’t have to surrender your life to God’s will and repent.

    You said, “I hope that you realize that if homosexual feelings never truly go away – maybe its God telling you its OK”. So just because I have “feelings” about something that means it’s okay? Give me a break. So when “I feel” i need to lie, that’s God saying it’s okay?
    I am not trying to be a smarty pants, but your logic is wishy washy–It will never stand before the throne of God.
    Here is the Truth about Homosexuality.
    Homosexuality is a sin.
    God loves the homosexual
    Jesus was crucified for the homosexual
    Jesus was buried to bury the sin of homosexuality
    Jesus was raised to life to raise the homosexual a “New Creature”

    Just because I struggle with same sex attractions at times doesn’t mean that all the above is not true. God uses my weakness to make me strong.
    Homosexuality is not just a natural phenomenon. It’s spiritual warfare. And the demonic powers behind it will never stop their tempting and harassing. But Jesus gives me the victory over the battle.
    Jesus was the Son of God and yet the devil himself tempted him. If the devil was allowed to tempt Jesus how much more me!!
    You are miss identifying temptations for “feelings”!

  8. Someone anonymous: Thank you for your reply. Let me make this clear, I don’t think I can change anyone’s mind about being gay, how can I? I am just words on a screen. I am mainly on this site because of the video (see youtube link in my original posting) I saw regarding ex-ex-gays and how for the most part, denying homosexuality leads spiritual gay people down a very dark road, according to their testimony and even in my own observations through people I’ve met who have struggled with reconciling being gay with religious beliefs. I would like to say this is more of an exchange of ideas in the hopes of promoting understanding.

    I seem to have struck a nerve when I said ‘If you read something enough…’ – well – I must say I have to stand by that – I see that all the time – people cherry picking verses of scripture to suit their needs – I’m sure you’ve head the arguments: well what about the eating shellfish thing? Wearing garments made of two materials? Sleeping in a bed where a woman’s had her period? Touching pig skin? I’ve never heard anyone deny those yet the homosexual verses just keep being thrown at us…I also saw a History channel documentary about works not included in the Bible – Stories of Thelca – that was interesting – and the secret passages of Mark? that was intersting too- yet why were they not incorporated into what we know as the Bible today? And there is some proof that the words are being twisted because I have picked up bibles from different companies/editions and when looking up passages, they are not the same word for word – which one is correct? So from a practical stand point, you must admit the possibility that in 2000 years something may have been changed…

    GCMW: Edited…

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