It’s been a while since I’ve been here. As I mentioned last year, I left my admin job at my church. The young gal who took my place had a baby in October so I’ve been filling in and will be there until early January. That’s part of the reason why I’ve been extra busy lately. It seems like there have been lots of babies born or announcements of babies coming next year. It brings back so many memories of when I was expecting. I heard SO MANY stories…some good and some horrific…to the point where I was afraid to give birth (smile).
When I was pregnant with my son, my go to book was “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” Not sure if that book is still around, but it was chock full of information from the day you found out you were expecting until you gave birth. But I have to say…no person and no book can really prepare you for what’s to come. You realize that you are going to be sleep deprived. You realize that your time is not going to be your own any longer. You realize that you are going to love your child. But there really isn’t any amount of preparation that can truly get you ready. Mainly because every body and every baby is unique.
I had no idea that my baby boy would be so stubborn about being born. I didn’t know that I was going to have to be induced…twice. I didn’t know that my labor was going to take 22 hours…that I would push for 4 of those hours. I didn’t know that the doctor would have several young residents in the delivery room showing them how to deliver a baby with forceps. I didn’t know that my little baby boy would have colic so bad that he would cry for hours on most days. I felt so helpless and many days cried along with him as I paced the floors with him. I didn’t know what tired was until I had my baby boy. I didn’t know that I would feel the intense protective feelings that I had for him. I didn’t know that I could love someone with such fierceness. It’s a different kind of love.
No amount of reading, video watching, or people talking prepared me for what it was like to be a mom. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do all of those things because it is helpful. Just expect the unexpected along the way.
I can tell you that I never expected the journey that I’ve been on once that little baby boy got to adolescence. Talk about being unprepared! I’ve shared the beginning of that journey with you already, but there is a part of that journey that I haven’t shared. My husband and I didn’t know what to do with the information we learned about our son. We wanted to help him because it was so obvious that he was in desperate need of help. So we read books, and visited websites, and talked to elders in the Christian faith. The thing that was recommended over and over again is what we later learned to be called conversion therapy (or reparative therapy). A simple definition of it is this:
Conversion therapy is the pseudoscientific practice of trying to change an individual’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual using psychological or spiritual interventions.
Specifically what was recommended to us was an organization called Exodus International:
Exodus International was a non-profit, interdenominational ex-gay Christian umbrella organization connecting organizations that sought to “help people who wished to limit their homosexual desires”. It was founded in 1976 and ceased activities in June 2013.
Remember the feelings of protecting my child I mentioned earlier? Well I was willing to do whatever it took to help him change… because that had been his prayer for years. I’ve mentioned before that I never thought being gay was a choice. I had known too many gay people along the way to hold that belief. I did, however, think that something happened along the way to cause them to be gay. The problem was that I had been wracking my brain for how this happened to my son and I was coming up empty. So some help from an organization that dealt with this issue seemed reasonable. My husband spoke to someone from Exodus for several hours one evening. He relayed the conversation to me and something in our spirit told us this was not the route we should take with our son.
This type of therapy comes in many different forms. It wasn’t until years later when I actually met people who had been through conversion therapy that I realized the disaster we had avoided.
I know a young man who went to his pastor and told him of his same-sex attractions. His pastor told him to attend a meeting at his church. Here he met other men from his congregation that struggled…with pornography. He was confused because he didn’t struggle with pornography. It wasn’t helpful to him at all. He was told that his “sexual sin” would be cured if he would just marry a woman. “Fake to you make it” school of thought. So, he started dating a young lady from his church and they did get married. He stayed in the marriage for several years until he just couldn’t take it any longer. He loved his wife…but not in the way a wife should be loved. She was more of a friend. He had zero sexual desire for her. She was devastated when he asked for a divorce. It wasn’t easy on him either. He felt terrible hurting her. Yet his church is what got him into this mess. It’s what his pastor recommended he do. When he went to his pastor to let him know he could no longer pretend, he was promptly told he could no longer worship there.
I know a woman who went to counseling for same-sex attraction and gender confusion. This was many years ago. The solution they had for her was shock therapy. Imagine signing up for that! Yet she did. She was desperate to change and her prayers weren’t working so she didn’t know what else to do. She trusted the therapist. I forget how long she subjected herself to the therapy, but it didn’t work. It took her decades to step into another therapist office. She was terrified. But hiding her identity was killing her, so she felt like she had no choice. Thankfully she got one that knew conversion therapy is harmful and she is doing much better today trying to live out her last years as her authentic self. She is in her sixties.
I know of another person that went through 30 exorcisms to not be gay. 30.
If you look, you will find very severe cases of conversion therapy and then some that seem less harmful. They are all harmful. It has been proven to not work. Yet this practice is still legal in many states…even for minors. Alan Chambers, one of the leaders of Exodus International issued this apology when they closed their doors.
Last month, I went to see the movie Boy Erased based on the book by the same name written by Garrard Conley. I found myself holding my breath as I watched knowing that we came so close to exposing our son to this kind of treatment. The program was called “Love In Action.” Sounds good right? It wasn’t. I’ve read articles whose authors say that the movie took liberties and it was over-dramatic. In an interview, Garrard tells the audience that they left things out because they didn’t think people would believe it. In fact, he said the scene where his mom comes to take him out of the program was much more dramatic in real life. In the movie, his mom played by Nicole Kidman, says, “A mother knows when something isn’t right.” I totally agree with that statement. It was an informative movie. It was hard to watch, but I think it’s important for the information to be out there.
The critics say that there are people who have changed. I say check with them several years from now. Alan Chambers from Exodus admits that he still has same-sex attractions even though he is married to a woman. And John Smid, the leader of Love in Action, left the program and married a man. Mel White, the author of “Stranger at the Gate,” was married to a woman for 25 years. He was counseled, exorcised, electric shocked, prayed for, and nearly driven to suicide trying to be straight.
Praying the gay away looks good on paper. It seems simple. Love God, believe that He can guide you, have faith that He can change you and you are good to go. Follow these steps and you will be on the path to happiness. What works on paper or in theory doesn’t always translate to an expected outcome. Sometimes we are faced with the unexpected. Like when a person embraces how God made them to be and the bad fruit is cleared away and good fruit sprouts and grows.
There really is SO much to this topic. Even I don’t completely understand it because I have never been through it. I can tell you that I’ve seen first hand the damage that it has done. I’ve seen people try their best to do what was expected of them and it brought them nothing but pain and almost (and in some cases did) destroy their relationships with God and their families. Let’s let God be God and not assume we know His plan. Let’s expect the unexpected. And let’s love with an expectation that it will heal those who have been hurt.
Because love matters…