Former Chairman of Exodus International Turns His Back on the “Ex-Gay” Movement

LGBTQ Nation reports that “John Paulk, the former chairman of Exodus International, a Christian ministry devoted to performing controversial gay-to-straight “reparative therapy” has formally renounced his past and says he is “truly, truly sorry” for the pain he’s caused by advocating that gays could change their sexual orientation through prayer and therapy.” His statement is as follows:

“For the better part of 10 years, I was an advocate and spokesman for what’s known as the ‘ex-gay movement,’ where we declared that sexual orientation could be changed through a close-knit relationship with God, intensive therapy and strong determination.

“At the time, I truly believed that it would happen. And while many things in my life did change as a Christian, my sexual orientation did not.”

[…]

“Today, I do not consider myself “ex-gay” and I no longer support or promote the movement. Please allow me to be clear: I do not believe that reparative therapy changes sexual orientation; in fact, it does great harm to many people.”

[…]

“Today, I see LGBT people for who they are–beloved, cherished children of God. I offer my most sincere and heartfelt apology to men, women, and especially children and teens who felt unlovable, unworthy, shamed or thrown away by God or the church.”

In 2011, John Smid, a former “ex-gay” leader of Exodus International’s oldest ministry “Love in Action,” also admitted he is gay and took a stand against the message he preached for years.  More on John Smid here: http://www.truthwinsout.org/blog/2012/09/29471/

 

Soldiers for Christ

I’ve been speaking to a friend of mine almost nightly about some deep topics–you know, letting someone into some of those secret caverns people haven’t really gone in awhile. He spent years in the military and after I’d explained some of my feelings to him about my cult experience (and yes, cried, which I haven’t actually done in awhile), he shared some of his military experiences. It was sort of comforting to know that we related so well.

He spoke to me in particular about some intense combat training he received in order to keep him and his team hyped and going, running on adreneline and getting revved up easily. He said it served a purpose in combat situations because they’d be up for days at a time, operating on little to no sleep. What happened when he left the military and resumed civilian life was that he realized he could easily get really amped up over something and it was hard to mellow himself out or not find himself reactionary.

I could certainly relate. On a much smaller, less intense scale, there are similarities to my cult experience and some aspects of military life.

For example, when we joined we went through a few intense weeks where we were emotionally stripped of certain barriers and rights, and we were checked into dorms with a strict set of rules and guidelines to live by each day. Then, each day was regimented as if we lived in barracks (they were dorms) and we had dorm leaders coming in each morning and night making sure we were in bed and out of bed on time (on the dot), dressed in something suitable (our uniforms), in prayer (on the dot), at breakfast, cleaning up (to perfection), and so forth to a specific schedule.

Our training was not combat, but it was all about hype and getting prepped emotionally for a “spiritual battle.” We were soldiers for Christ and we trained like such. When a conference would come up, we’d spend a month prior to the conference fasting and praying intensely, on top of studying, marketing, networking, planning and rehearsing our performances. Our rehearsals were labor intensive, because we were putting on an entire production–a creative representation of Christ–and those productions could last for hours, but typically the conference success or failure landed on us so we were hyper aware of every detail from the sound equipment and microphones to the lighting set up and placement. At any moment, I was on call with the speaker information, his or her whereabouts, their car and hotel information and their personal assistant on the line, if needed.

We’d stay up for days on end before the conference getting ready for “spritual battle” and by the time the actual event rolled around, we’d be operating on very little to no sleep. Coffee and energy drinks became our constant companion, and so did the smiley-happy-hyped up Christian sales persona that we were known to be. We had to pull the smiles out because we believed what we were pushing onto these teens. We believed it intently. We believed we were at war for their souls.

Meditation

I spent five minutes before work in my car meditating today. Nothing to it, although for years I’d been thinking you had to do certain things to get it right (and you probably do), but for now this works.

I was at the doctor’s office the other day and some actress (of course, it’s LA…we are the hub for all-things “zen”. I kid.) said she pulls over in her car for 10 minutes and just tunes things out. I think she used the Twitter app all the kids are using to meditate now, but that’s irrelevant.

After years of praying an hour in the morning, before meals and essentially allowing my mind to be a wind turbine full of prayers, guilt-ridden assessements of myself and my performance and how those didn’t measure up to “God”, I was of course completely opposed to anything resembling prayer or “quiet time” as we used to call it. However, meditation has many benefits and I’ve found that I’ve been able to work through some of my issues surrounding the similarities.

Either way, it’s time to reinvent the “quiet time” portion of my life. The zen. The peace. The sitting outside by the beach WITHOUT smoking a bowl, perhaps.

I have some FUCKING ANXIETY, ya’ll. Which has actually gone away rather rapidly in the past month, but I do deal with it and many people suggest meditation as a therapy for anxiety, so home cures it is!