Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mediating the Conflict Between Closeted Sexuality and Religious Beliefs

The following article recently appeared in the New York Times Magazine. I think it offers up a great deal of thought provoking rhetoric. It requires reading with close attention.

It will frustrate those who like to see problems wrapped up in neat little packages. There are no such packages offered.

As a deeply religious married bisexual man I have my own insights and experiences with this issue. Almost everything I have ever thought or experienced is contained within my blog postings. I find Denis Flanigan's work to be very worthwhile. My wife, a psychotherapist in private practice, is also a graduate of the University of Houston. The school is on the cutting edge in training therapists to deal with clients from where they are. Its interesting to me that true Christianity teaches us that Christ accepts  us just as we are and just where we are. One of the most well known hymns of the Christian faith, "Just As I Am," illustrates this basic tenet of Christianity beautifully.

Unfortunately, many on the radical Christian Right has lost sight of that Christ. Therapists like Denis Flanigan spend a lot of time dealing with the lives that have been wrecked by well meaning but woefully misinformed and misguided Christians.

I am personally thankful that Mimi Swartz has researched and written such a powerful and well informed article. I am living proof that a married bisexual man can find peace in his life while retaining a personal faith in God. I believe the key is seeking the  help of those who are trained to offer real help and ultimately learning to work out your own salvation between you and God rather than relying on some radical Christian Right evangelist to do it for you. Again, isn't it strange that is just what the Bible itself tells us we should do? (Philippians 2:12)

I have added the illustrations to the article.

Jack Scott


Should therapists help God-fearing gay people stay in the closet?
Published: June 16, 2011
The N.Y. Times Magazine

Denis Flanigan isn’t hiding anything. A 42-year-old psychotherapist in Houston, he has a straightforward manner that meshes nicely with his no-nonsense buzz cut and neatly clipped goatee. Unlike many mental-health professionals, Flanigan puts personal items on display in his office, including a photo of his partner, who is attractive, and male. For his patients’ amusement he has on hand an S-and-M Barbie as well as a Tickle Me Freud doll. (“It’s so, so . . . wrong,” Flanigan told me, in a tone that signaled he believed it was exactly right.) Flanigan’s no-secrets policy extends to his Web site, where he writes that he “has frequently been asked to speak on the gay and lesbian experience and mental health, transgender concerns and body-modification issues.” A member of the American Psychological Association, Flanigan has also served as Mr. Prime Choice Texas, winning a contest “designed for men 40 years or older who represent the masculine aesthetic embraced by the leather/Levi/uniform/fetish community.” In his own words, he identifies as a “militant homosexual.”
So it comes as a bit of a surprise to learn that when potential clients come to Flanigan’s office to discuss their sexual orientation — in particular whether they should reveal their homosexuality to friends, family or employers — his first response is to ask, in a neutral tone, “Why do you want to do that?” Flanigan has a 20-year history of gay activism behind him, so you might expect that his primary goal would be to help gay clients discover and cultivate their most authentic selves. As Jonathan Ned Katz wrote in “Gay American History” in 1976, “Therapists who do not help their homosexual patients to fully explore the possibility of homosexuality as a legitimate option have not helped to expand those individuals’ freedom.”
Flanigan doesn’t disagree with Katz. “I’m a very strong believer in people’s rights,” he said one gray morning at a Starbucks in Houston. But during his early training, he encountered a few clients who either would not come out of the closet or suffered mightily when they did. Christians of the kind who earnestly believed that the Bible deplored homosexuality were particularly troubled as they tried to reconcile their faith with their sexual orientation. The more Flanigan studied this conundrum, the more he came to see it as intractable. Some gay evangelicals truly believe that to follow their sexual orientation means abandonment by a church that provides them with emotional and social sustenance — not to mention eternal damnation. Keeping their sexual orientation a secret, however, means giving up any opportunity to have fulfilling relationships as gay men and women.
“When these clash, what do you do?” Flanigan recalled thinking, and when he began to research the topic about a decade ago, he found few answers beyond the obvious. Antigay religious groups would not condone homosexuality; they thought gays should just give up their orientation, and the most extreme among them offered frightening “conversion” practices. Nonreligious gays thought the conflicted should just walk away from churches that won’t accept homosexuals as they are. “Which trumps which?” Flanigan asked himself. “Religion or sexual orientation?”
It wasn’t until around 2004 that Flanigan found an answer, one that was given legitimacy by the American Psychological Association (A.P.A.) five years later and one that complicated the conventional wisdom about sexual identity and sexual orientation. Is it possible, he wondered, that the most psychologically sound alternative for truly devout gay men and women would be to defy both groups? It is an approach that Flanigan is sure has relieved suffering among his deeply conflicted clients, and yet he sometimes is struck by the method he has chosen. As he explained it to me, “The idea that I am helping the client stay in the closet is bizarre to me.”
The closet now seems a vestige of a much darker era. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, the godmother of the academic field known as queer theory who wrote “Epistemology of the Closet,” called its hidden world “the defining structure for gay oppression in this century.” The world in which men wore red neckties to signal their homosexuality to each other or taught themselves to speak and walk more “manfully” or risked arrest and, in turn, social and financial ruin just to be with people like themselves, now seems as archaic as segregated water fountains. And as insidious: Alan Frank, a 71-year-old analyst in Manhattan, sought professional help in the 1960s when he was an ad-agency art director. He was married with a child and realized he was gay. Three times a week he went to a psychiatrist “whose job was to make me straight,” Frank told me. “I wanted that, because I thought being gay was deviant. I was a husband and a father, and I didn’t want to destroy that.” The psychiatrist took Frank into his backyard and taught him how to throw a baseball, asserting that it would make him “more manly and a better father.” He vomited during every session from the humiliation. “There’s hardly a gay man of my age who didn’t go through some form of aversion therapy,” he said. “This was an awful, awful thing that he did.” But at the time, Frank’s choices, and even his doctor’s choices, were few.
So Frank lived his life in secret, until he couldn’t stand it anymore. “I left my wife and I left that analyst, because I realized if I continued I would commit suicide,” he said. Times changed: more gays were coming out, especially in New York City, particularly after the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its manual of mental disorders in 1973. “I think when that stigma was taken away and we could be our authentic selves, that made an enormous difference.” He fell in love with an openly gay rabbi, and the two men lived together for 16 years until his partner’s death. Frank is now married to another man. In his practice, he specializes in gender and sexuality conflicts, helping men and women to free themselves from the shame surrounding sexual issues. “The closet was necessary,” Frank said. “It’s not necessary now.”
Frank came out while living in New York City. Flanigan says it’s harder where he lives. Despite the undeniable progress — gay marriage in five states; the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell”; mainstream icons like Ellen DeGeneres — “it’s not all O.K.,” Flanigan says. There is still discrimination, still bullying of gay kids. “In many states you can still be fired for being gay,” he says. And an even deeper fear exists for a small but hidden group, those whose faith condemns their orientation. As Judith Glassgold, who was the chairwoman of the A.P.A.’s Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, told me: “Back in the ’60s and ’70s, the people who sought treatment were the ones who struggled with the discrimination and prejudice that they faced, and sensed that they couldn’t have a life. But more recently, the people who come to treatment are people who have strong religious beliefs who cannot integrate that identity into their lives.”
Flanigan’s parents were Lutheran, but religion was never an important part of his life. “I rejected the church long before I was gay,” he told me. “But I still see the value of it in other people’s lives.” Still, coming out in high school in 1986 in Frederick, Md., was wrenching: “I thought my life was over,” Flanigan said. “My thoughts of a family and happiness were ruined.” So, too, he believed, was his dream of becoming a doctor. (“They won’t let a gay person become a pediatrician,” he told himself.) But in the months that followed, he drew on support from his parents, friends, teachers and an understanding therapist. In 1988, while a student at the University of Maryland, he became president of the gay student union. “I got over the delusion that I wouldn’t be able to have a professional life,” he said.
As Flanigan pursued a career in psychology, the question of how to help those who were torn between their religious orientation and their sexual orientation became a preoccupation. One patient, in particular, haunted him. When he was getting his master’s in psychology in Florida, he counseled a young woman who was coming to the realization that she was gay but was afraid to tell her evangelical family. In talking with Flanigan, the student became more comfortable with her homosexuality, and although Flanigan suggested moving slowly, she came out to her brother. But then he told their parents, who pulled her out of school and put her in a religious program designed to change her sexual orientation. Stricken, Flanigan brooded for months over what he might have done differently. He felt plagued by a professional contradiction: “Psychological ethics say that we’re supposed to support religious beliefs and support sexual orientation,” Flanigan told me. “But there was nothing I knew of that says what to do when they conflict.” As far as he could tell, the only choice those people had was to give up one or the other.
Until relatively recently, mental-health professionals considered sexual orientation the most expendable. As Katz wrote in “Gay American History,” gay men and lesbians “were long subjected to a varied, often horrifying list of ‘cures’ at the hands of psychiatric-psychological professionals.” These included lobotomies, castration, hysterectomy, clitoridectomy, hormone therapy, LSD, sexual stimulants, sexual depressants, shock treatment, aversion therapy, electroshock and so on. That changed, of course, as mainstream attitudes about sexual orientation changed. But even as Flanigan was beginning his professional life as a counselor in the late 1990s, groups on the religious right, like Narth (then called the National Association of Research and Treatment of Homosexuality) and Exodus International were advertising that they could cure homosexuality.
One person opposed to conversion therapy was a psychologist named Douglas Haldeman, who had been working with gay men recovering from those same therapies since the early ’80s. A gay man himself, Haldeman was known as a proponent of “gay affirmative” therapy, which asserts that many of the emotional problems afflicting gays have everything to do with the antigay social stigma they face. When a conversion therapist set up shop in Seattle, where Haldeman lived, a gay rights organization sought his help. Haldeman went to the A.P.A. for guidance and discovered that it had no policy on conversion therapy. A tall, thin, intensely curious man, Haldeman took it upon himself to push for change; in 1991, he produced a survey of the psychological literature for the A.P.A. In 1994 he drew on his clinical experience and other studies to publish his first paper of many on the harms done by conversion therapy.
Haldeman found in his research that the vast majority of people seeking to change their orientation held strong religious beliefs; often, these were married men with families who grew up in a church and who felt that they had far too much to lose by coming out. “For some,” Haldeman wrote in a 2004 paper called “When Sexual and Religious Orientation Collide,” “religious identity is so important that it is more realistic to consider changing sexual orientation than abandoning one’s religion of origin.” In the case of such clients, abandoning the church meant abandoning the entire belief system by which they defined themselves.
They suspected, too, that they would be exiles in the secular gay community, in which many didn’t understand why gay evangelicals couldn’t just change churches or leave religion behind altogether. In other words, Haldeman was certain that conversion therapy didn’t work, but he wasn’t sure that gay-affirmative therapy — helping gay clients to see that their discomfort with their orientation might come from internalizing a prejudice — would help them find peace of mind, either. In these circumstances, Haldeman tried a different approach.
In that 2004 paper, Haldeman laid out the case history of John, a gay, middle-aged, married and deeply religious man. John acknowledged that he was gay, but he also felt fervently that he wanted to stay married to his wife and remain an active, involved father to his three children. In professional parlance, his sexual orientation was gay, but his sexual identity — the way he saw himself, and the way he wanted to be seen — was as a straight man.
John told his wife about his sexual orientation when they were dating in college. She agreed to continue the relationship, as long as he agreed that he would never have sex with men. John kept his side of the bargain until the birth of his third child, some seven years into the relationship. At that point, he began having sex with men and couldn’t stop. Still, he didn’t want to leave his family and live as a gay man.
The approach Haldeman used was, in the therapeutic parlance, client-centered; that is, the client’s desires took precedence over any values or opinions held by the therapist. So if John wanted to be a gay man who lived as a straight man, Haldeman would help him become that person. As part of his therapy, John agreed to steer clear of any place or activity that might arouse his interest in men — the sauna at the gym, the park where he looked for sex and the Internet, which in the late 1990s was not quite as pervasive or accessible as it is now. Haldeman’s clients were taught to acknowledge rather than to deny their feelings (denial only made things worse) but to choose not to act on them. For instance, John had sex with his wife, though he did have a pass to concoct gay masturbatory fantasies. Haldeman also encouraged him to join support groups made up of what have come to be known in the psychological community as mixed-orientation marriages.
At the time Haldeman wrote his paper, John was managing this existence fairly well, mainly because of his determination to remain a good father. Not surprisingly, his wife had her doubts, particularly as she looked ahead, to the time her children would leave home. “Wives require an ability not to see themselves as failed women because of their husbands’ attraction to other men as well as a tolerance for ambiguity in the extreme,” Haldeman noted in that paper.
In Haldeman’s view, this approach wasn’t perfect, and his doubts grew over time. But for all the inherent contradictions — some might say hypocrisies — in this approach, Haldeman and others in the psychological community were talking about something that hadn’t, to that point, been addressed. And they were meeting the patient at a place he felt comfortable.
Flanigan moved to Texas in 2005 for an internship in psychology at the University of Houston (he’ll complete his doctorate this August). His supervisor was a practicing psychologist named Elizabeth Maynard, and when he eventually opened his own practice, Flanigan chose Maynard, who had been teaching at the University of St. Thomas, a Catholic school, to supervise his work again. More and more, he was coming across religious gay men who felt forced to make a choice between their faith and their sexual orientation. Maynard had a doctorate in clinical psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. A onetime charismatic Christian, Maynard felt that it was her mission to undo the damage many churches inflicted on gay men and lesbians. As she told me, the “hate the sin but love the sinner” ethos that is the norm in many evangelical churches “doesn’t seem very loving to someone who is G.L.B.T.”
On a superficial level, no two people seem more different: Flanigan is gay, atheist and cerebral; Maynard, who at 40 evokes the pert, pretty Breck girls of the 1960s, is married (to a man) with a new baby and is unshakable in her faith.
Flanigan consulted with Maynard to help him challenge his closeted clients’ view that the Bible condemned homosexuality. She once had lesbians and gay men in a therapy group perform the story of Sodom and Gomorrah — “a clobber passage within evangelical circles” she told me — to suggest to them that it wasn’t necessarily a story about men trying to have sex with one another (as many on the religious right claim) but, more likely, a ghastly rape scenario. With Maynard’s help, Flanigan began studying alternative interpretations of Leviticus (“You shall not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination” could be read more generally as a call to reproduce) and the letters of the Apostle Paul. (Even Maynard sees those as “not so easily untangled.”) He found himself in discussions with clients about whether God was vengeful and angry or loving and forgiving. Sometimes Flanigan had success in getting clients to try “reconciling” churches that were open to gay people. There were times, however, when the client held fast to the evangelical faith in which he was raised.
Flanigan read Haldeman’s 2004 paper and began trying similar treatment strategies. “I would describe my work as identity management as opposed to sexual-identity management,” he told me. He wanted to help patients feel comfortable with themselves in a way that then allowed them to make their own choices.
Those decisions could sometimes lead to unorthodox results. An assistant pastor from an evangelical church came to Flanigan seeking to manage his anxiety. He was terrified that he would be exposed as a gay man. At the time, he was fending off the advances of a woman in the church while also trying to end a clandestine affair with the son of his church’s pastor. The assistant pastor readily acknowledged that he was sexually attracted to men. (When he wasn’t involved with the pastor’s son, he told Flanigan, he had fleeting sexual encounters at conferences.) The client didn’t want to join another church, nor did he want to come out. For many therapists, the approach would have been to affirm his sexual orientation. But the man cared more about preaching than he did about having an open, intimate relationship with a man.
From Flanigan’s point of view, the assistant pastor’s most authentic self was one that somehow balanced two conflicting needs. They both agreed that the man should end his affair with the pastor’s son, which carried a great risk of discovery and stoked his anxiety. But they decided he could continue having sex with men. The client was not interested in exploring the complexities of his position; he just wanted to feel less anxious. Flanigan saw the hypocrisy of the man’s choices, but that’s not why he had come to therapy. “He was functioning fine within the church,” Flanigan told me. “He didn’t seem distressed about the incongruity.” If the man had stayed in treatment longer, Flanigan would probably have pushed, but the client stopped coming after several sessions, maybe because he got what he wanted or maybe because the therapy, however gentle, was forcing him to see some things that he didn’t want to see.
Around the same time that Haldeman was trying to help his religious clients deal with their homosexuality, two psychologists, Warren Throckmorton and Mark Yarhouse, were approaching the same issue from a very different perspective. At this time — the mid-2000s — sexual orientation was one of the most intense battlegrounds in the Bush-era culture wars. Gay-affirmative therapists saw conversion therapists as sadists; conversion therapists saw the affirmatives as, at best, godless.
Throckmorton and Yarhouse are each heterosexual evangelical Christians: Yarhouse teaches at Regent University, a school founded by Pat Robertson; Throckmorton at Grove City College, another Christian institution, just north of Pittsburgh. They were convinced that sexual orientation could be changed and tried to help their clients in that pursuit. Throckmorton accepted an award from Narth in 2002 for his support of the “ex-gay” movement, and in 2004 he made a video called “I Do Exist,” in which five people declared they changed their sexual orientation.
But unlike many of their evangelical colleagues, Yarhouse and Throckmorton reconsidered their positions. A pensive, soft-spoken man, Throckmorton still reveals anguish when he speaks of those who proclaimed their conversion worldwide in “I Do Exist” but later recanted. “What I came to find out was those people felt the pressure of the social contract and said they had completely changed when they had not,” Throckmorton said. “They were in my tradition, so I trusted them. If they said they’d changed, why would I doubt them? That was sloppy scientifically, and I regret that.” He had been too caught up in the politics, he said, and assumed that the condemnation of conversion therapy was really an effort to undermine religion. “Many theorists in the gay-affirming world have taken a view that religion is a changeable aspect of personality,” Throckmorton said. “But people don’t wake up in the morning and say, ‘I’ll be a Baptist instead of a Buddhist.’ Religion is the way the world makes sense to them, and for them that seems like a pretty stable attribute.” He began looking for a less polarized, more nuanced approach.
Yarhouse and Throckmorton came up with what they called sexual-identity therapy (SIT). At first, Yarhouse told me, many left-leaning therapists saw SIT as a trick — conversion therapy by another name, and many remain skeptical: Wayne Besen, the founder of Truth Wins Out, an organization devoted to debunking the ex-gay ministry, told me that though he respects Throckmorton, he still believes that SIT is just another way of encouraging repression. “I think Throckmorton means well and really wants to help people reconcile their faith and sexuality,” Besen said. “However, the more appropriate way is for people to find a more moderate religion that doesn’t force them to live at cross purposes with their sexual health.”
Still, Throckmorton is a long way from those who insist that being gay is a lifestyle choice. Though he comes from an evangelical perspective, he accepts that homosexuality is unchangeable and has helped clients and their families to begin to accept that, too. But acceptance goes only so far. I spoke with a woman named Susan, whose gay son went to Throckmorton. “The shame for our family started to lift,” she told me. “We stopped saying it was our fault.” They still harbor the hope that their son could somehow be transformed into a heterosexual, but “we have let go of it as best we humanly can,” she told me. As Throckmorton put it: “We are not trying to change your orientation. We are trying to help you develop the life you are trying to live” through the values that matter most to you. He said he had helped clients come out, when they wanted to, though this was rare. His clients are to a certain extent self-selecting because of his reputation for respecting those who interpret the Bible literally.
Like Flanigan’s assistant pastor, most of the men seen by Throckmorton and Yarhouse (most of their clients are men) acknowledged their homosexual attractions but also refused to live openly. Hence they use the term “same-sex attracted,” or S.S.A. “They would say they have attractions to the same sex but haven’t formed their core identity around that,” Throckmorton said.
Throckmorton and Yarhouse begin by encouraging self-acceptance. Most of their clients want to marry or stay married, and the therapists encourage them to talk about their same-sex attraction to their wives or others close to them. “My experience has been that their spouse already knows,” Yarhouse said. “That’s what has led to the consultation or therapy.”
One of Throckmorton’s former clients, Rob, shared his experience with me by telephone. He did not want to be identified. His voice was soft yet sunny. In a 45-minute conversation, he did not once use the word “gay.”
Now in his mid-40s, Rob fought the notion that he might be gay throughout his 20s and 30s. “I struggled for years after beginning to follow Jesus. I struggled and knew that I was not living up to the standard. For years I would try on my own to do better, but I was not being successful.” Rob didn’t act on his impulses, he told me, other than to masturbate to male pornography on the Web. He told no one about his sexual attraction, but as his religious faith deepened, he became more conflicted and decided to get help, which is when he contacted Throckmorton.
“I went to him and explained where I was and that that was not where I wanted to be,” Rob said. He wanted to date women, but he feared telling a woman whom he might become serious about that he was sexually attracted to men. Rob expected to begin a process akin to psychoanalysis, but within just a few sessions the two were focused on the life Rob imagined for himself. “My faith was very important to me,” he recalled. “I didn’t want to be alone all my life, and I wanted to be married and share that kind of life with someone else in the context of my Christian faith.” He never considered having a male partner or attending a more liberal church, because neither conformed to his religious beliefs. “I can’t pursue being a follower of Jesus and picking and choosing from what it is in Scripture that I want to follow,” he told me. For him, there is only one way to read the Bible. He said he believed that his attractions to men were “the way Satan wants to tempt me for that sin” of homosexuality.
Throckmorton’s approach was, first of all, not to argue. “If we try to subtly or directly advocate for our personal loyalties, then we’ve stopped doing the kind of therapy that we advocate,” he said. Rather than challenge Rob’s desire to marry a woman, as other therapists might have done, Throckmorton felt the important thing was to help him accept that his thoughts were his own. Rob’s language was, to Throckmorton, “a kind of religious imagery,” and he noted that religious clients with eating disorders use the same words. Throckmorton didn’t engage in a discourse about good and evil but simply said “this sounds like something that feels really out of control to you, something you haven’t been able to manage.”
Throckmorton wanted to know how much of Rob’s identity was wrapped up in being attracted to men. “It didn’t seem like a vital part of him,” Throckmorton told me confidently. He found support for his conclusion in Rob’s mild attraction to the opposite sex; this suggested to Throckmorton that he might be bisexual. “I wasn’t devoid of feelings for women, but I also had a same-sex attraction,” was the way Rob explained his orientation to me. This sort of therapy necessarily leads to some fine parsing of terms. Rob didn’t have to suppress his same-sex attractions, which just made his desires more intense, but he did have to develop avoidance methods to keep them in check.
What Rob saw as “encouragement” from his psychologist — Throckmorton blanches at the word, with its suggestion of conversion therapy — Throckmorton saw as helping a client prioritize. Rob’s Christian values, and his desire to spend his life with a partner of the opposite sex, came first.
Throckmorton saw Rob for the next year and a half, as he began to date. Eventually Rob found himself in a serious relationship with a woman. “At that point I had to sit down and lay out all the cards on the table — the good, the bad, the ugly,” he told me. “She needed to know, so that if that was a deal breaker then we weren’t any further down the road. That was the only fair thing.” Rob told her about his same-sex attraction and also offered to meet jointly with Throckmorton, which they did, once. Then they married. When I asked whether they had a happy sex life, Rob hesitated, before answering yes. His reply was much more emphatic when I asked which was more important to him, his sexual orientation or his religious orientation: “My faith,” he said.
Several years after completing therapy, Rob told me, his attraction to men is reduced but still present. He has stayed away from gay porn on the Internet and remains married. “My mind-set, praise God, is very different than it used to be,” he told me. “The longer I choose to walk the road that I’m on, the less temptation there is, but I’m not foolish enough to think I’m quote-unquote cured. I would be foolish to think I’ve overcome this and it will never rear its ugly head again. But things are much different than when I started with Warren. The longer I walk this road, the easier it seems to be.”
Many people who are openly gay or straight and secular can’t grasp how desperately evangelicals do not want to be gay or the lengths to which they will go to try to change. Last fall, Jim Swilley, the bishop of the Church in the Now, in Conyers, Ga., gave a moving, hourlong coming-out sermon to his congregation, his response to a spate of suicides by gay teenagers and, perhaps, to rumors in his church about his own sexual orientation. “There are two things in my life that I didn’t ask for . . . one is the call of God in my life, and the other is my orientation. I didn’t think that those two things could ever be compatible,” he told his congregation.
“There is nothing I haven’t done,” he told the crowd about his attempts to change his orientation. “I’ve cast out demons, made myself vomit, I’ve quoted Scripture.” Many in the congregation wept as Swilley spoke. He said he spent years practicing the directive of an evangelical preacher who promised that “if you say 1,000 times every day, ‘I like to kiss girls,’ that will fix it.” Swilley also tried marriage — twice; once for five years and then again for 21 — because he desperately wanted a conventional life with a wife and children (he has three sons and a daughter).
In fact, it was his second wife, Debye, who persuaded Swilley to come out. When they started dating, Swilley told her about his attractions to men. “Let’s get married; we’ll figure it out,” Debye said. Once they agreed to divorce, he intended to remain celibate for the rest of his life and to take his secret to his grave, but Debye challenged his hypocrisy. “You tell people to experience the real God in the real world, but you’re not real,” she told him. “You don’t believe God loves you as you are.”
Swilley, who is writing a book about his experience, says that any therapy that doesn’t involve coming out is pointless. “You can’t believe the stuff I watched people go through,” he said “and they are all still gay all those years later. And all the people we married off to the opposite sex are divorced.”
After years of experimenting with various treatments, Douglas Haldeman came to the same conclusion. “The clients keep trying,” Haldeman said. “The danger is that it promotes fraudulent relationships, and their mates finally leave them.” He saw too many gay men pressuring themselves to be someone they weren’t and saw spouses trying to adapt to marriages that cheated them of emotional and sexual intimacy. Even John, who was the subject of his 2004 case study, went back to seeking out sexual encounters with men.
Swilley hoped that his honesty would touch his congregants, and the coming-out sermon gave him a measure of relief. But some people walked out during the sermon and did not come back, and the International Communion of Charismatic Churches asked him to leave. That’s one reason he is cautious about advising others to follow his path. “I’ve faced the worst fear in my life,” he said, but he remains sympathetic to those who lived as he did, “walking around holding a secret, knowing that you’re just one piece of information away from the closest people in your life abandoning you.”
Swilley is still the bishop of the Church in the Now and has the support of his family; Debye still preaches with him. When closeted gay ministers come to him for advice, he asks if friends and family will stay true. If not, he tells those in hiding to consider the costs carefully. “Man,” he said, “there’s quite a few of them out there.”
By 2007, there was enough confusion and dissent about what had come to be known as “sexual-orientation-change efforts” that psychologists were clamoring for guidance. The American Psychological Association formed a task force of gay and straight members to investigate and develop guidelines. A small brush fire erupted when no members of the evangelical community were asked to serve, but they needn’t have worried. “Over time we evolved,” said Lee Beckstead, a task-force member and psychologist who works with Mormons conflicted about their homosexuality. “We were trying to integrate the psychology of religion with the psychology of sexual orientation.” They wanted a client-centered approach that was also based on scientific research. “The science says that being gay is not an illness,” Beckstead told me. “You don’t need another treatment model, because there’s nothing to treat. The important thing is meeting where the client is — honoring them, validating them, supporting them, giving them the ability to decide for themselves.”
In the final document, the A.P.A. clearly stated its opposition to conversion therapy and unequivocally described homosexuality as normal. But it also offered a nuanced view of religious gay people who did not want to come out. The A.P.A. considered the kind of identity therapy proposed by Throckmorton and Yarhouse to be a viable option. No effort needed to be expended trying to change a client’s religion or sexual orientation. Therapy, in fact, was to have no particular outcome either way, other than to guide the client closer to self-acceptance, whatever the client believed that to be. The difference between sexual orientation and sexual identity was microscopically parsed. “Acceptance of same-sex sexual attractions and sexual orientation may not mean the formation of an L.G.B. sexual-orientation identity,” the report stated. “Alternate identities may develop instead.” It further stated that acting on same-sex attractions might not be a fulfilling solution for everyone. “I called up Mark, and I said: ‘Can you believe this? Am I reading this right?’ ” Throckmorton told me.
The chairwoman of the task force, Judith Glassgold, remains pleased with the outcome. “People might want to adopt an identity that fits with what their religion proscribes,” she explained. “Or they might want to be celibate rather than identify as a gay person. Some people prioritize their religion over their sexuality, like priests and nuns. That’s an identity.” The goal was to help the client come up with an identity that worked for them. “The dialogue has changed in the last decade,” she continued. “Among therapists — both among gay activists and the religious — we can have a discussion. We all agree that arousal and orientation are not under someone’s volition. What we can work on is self-acceptance, integration identity and reducing stigma.”
Clinton Anderson, director of the A.P.A.’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns Office, put it another way: “The task-force report is more of an acknowledgment than was true in the past that not everyone who is coming to this dilemma with a strong religious background is going to find an adaptation that is positive with regard to their sexuality. There may be people who are just not going to get there.”
Denis Flanigan has come to the same conclusion. Over time, he has found that clients are shifting and experimenting with sexual identities. “There’s crazy stuff out there,” is the way he puts it. “The terminology we have doesn’t work for a lot of people.”
For two years, Flanigan has been treating a man who is sexually attracted to men but emotionally attracted to women. It’s been a frustrating case: the client had relationships with women for a period of years, but they ended when he refused to marry them, knowing, without confessing to them, that he was gay. At the same time, however, he had no interest in exploring life in the gay community, despite Flanigan’s encouragement. “I honestly believe his life would be more fulfilling if he would express that part of himself,” Flanigan told me. “He needs to forgive his sexual orientation for what he thinks it did to him.” Still, Flanigan can’t see the benefits of guiding the man to come out. “He will feel the loss of a weight, but beyond that?” he asked, opening his palms and shrugging. By giving up one identity without a willingness to embrace a new one, he may find himself lonelier than he is now. “He’s actually pretty happy,” Flanigan said, “except for a nagging voice in his head that tells him he’s not being honest about who he should be.”
The 162 comments about this article are as fascinating as the article. They can be found at:

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Arrival of the Age of Aquarius

A few decades ago (its hard to believe it has been more than 40 years) there was a very popular song, "The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius," which spoke of an age of piece, harmony and understanding.

You can listen to the song on this You Tube Video:

The song made it debut in the 1967 musical hit "Hair" at a time when the war in Viet Nam was raging and American streets and neighborhoods were on fire fueled by both the opposition to the war and the continuing civil rights battles. It was a time when many longed for peace, but there were few signs that a new age of peace and understanding was actually dawning.

Fast forward to the present and the average American would say we're still pretty far removed from an age of peace, harmony and understanding. Wars are still being faught in Afghanistan and Iraq. The whole arab middle east is in turmoil throwing off military dictators but morn likely than not voluntarily shackling themselves to radical muslim clerics. Across the globe cities are racked with protests and streets are on fire from the acts of those who are disenchanted with modernity but whose goals are not well defined.

Sometimes it feels as if the whole world has gone mad and that chaos reigns. But amidst all the public protests and the wars that have exhausted even the most hawkish of Americans there is another side to the story. In the Houston Chronicle last week there was a report of a recent scientific study which found that the feeling we are surrounded by chaos and war and protest on every side is more the product of the 24/7 news television news machine than the product of anything real.

According to the study, all crime rates are down in the United States and throughout much of the world. Violent crimes are down particularly. And while wars are being faught in several places around the world, the study confirms that the world is more at peace than at any time in the past. While we hear much about crime and violence and wars in the never ending new cycles, crime and violence and wars are actually becoming less and less the reality.

Local statistics support the studies assertions. Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States. The economy of the city is in bad shape as is the economy of the nation and the world. In such times crime usually rises but that is not happening. Crime rates are actually falling and violent crime rates are plummeting in Houston, but also in American cities where major crimes have long been a problem.

When I look around me, I see that even in today's economic catastrophe, most of my friends are not only working but doing well. That includes even my gay friends. Four of my gay friends who were living deep in the closet ten years ago are now living openly as partnered gay men. They have good jobs and their bosses don't give a damn that they are gay. Two of them are church members and attend services regularly in accepting congregations. Out of the four, all but one enjoys the support and love of their families.

On the national level the news is much the same for gays. The United States armed services has ended DADT over the last few weeks. In reality it was just the formal end to a program that had ceased to be of any consequence. My own son is career military and a commander. He has always told me he knows full well who the gay men and women are in his command, but he doesn't give a damn what they do on their own time as long as they do their job when they are on the job.

It seems that when one really looks at the world around us objectively, harmony and understanding are ascending. One might say the age of Aquarius has in fact arrived.

Here in the United States we are already well into the campaign for the 2012 Presidential election. There are certainly partisans on each side of the political equation, but those who are honest with themselves admit that the hope and change many voted for in 2008 has not worked out as well as might have been hoped.

In spite of that there are positives. If it proved nothing else, the 2008 Presidential elections proved that in a real sense America has entered a post racial era. If President Obama is not elected for a second term it will not be because he is black. It will be because he has failed at leadership. Indeed one of his leading opponents at this time is a man who is himself black, yet enjoying wide support among even the most conservative whites.

While political bickering from the extreme right and the extreme left is getting all the headline attention in the 24/7 news cycle the story not being told is that the average American as he has always been is a political moderate just right of center and expects the country to be governed not from either extreme but from the middle through compromise.

For the first time in the history of its existence, even the radical Christian Right is beginning to see members fall away and close their pocketbooks as people are finally getting fed up on their message of hate and bigotry. In particular, young people are coming to the realization that no organized religion at all in their lives is better than one which preaches hate and the promise of God's wrath.

Maybe, just maybe we truly are living in the Age of Aquarius. Where people are judged on their merits and not on their skin color or who they have sex with. Perhaps we are entering an era when those are religious are known more for who they love that what they hate. Let us hope.

Jack Scott

Monday, October 17, 2011

Deferring to Reality?

Reality is not always a neat little package. I guess for some reason I don't understand, I've always pretty much known that. I don't know why that should be. It's not that I'm the sharpest tack in the drawer. I'm not by any stretch. But I've always had a very well developed intuition. Even as a kid, my intuition was already serving me, and I think intuition played a part in my realizing at an early age that reality was often chaotic. I use the word chaotic to describe a quality of anarchy and/or lawlessness that, it seems to me, has always been a part of, reality.

People are funny. They really are. Art Linkletter recognized this fact more than 60 years ago and was able to parlay his insight into a personal fortune while proving the point on various television shows. To me one of the funniest things about people has always been that few have a well developed sense of reality.

This is funny because we all live in a real world that surrounds us completely, but then again we don't. We don't because we're always going to great lengths and to a great deal of trouble to deny reality of one sort or another. Even the laziest of human beings will go to a great deal of trouble and effort to deny reality and to build up some  fantastic alternate version of reality to cling to rather than do the simple thing and just embrace reality.

One of my college professors once told me that having a degree, even an advanced degree was not at all proof of ones intellect. Instead, it was simply proof one had the discipline to commit to a goal and carry out the steps necessary to meet that goal. I think he was right. Some of the dumbest people I've ever encountered have been people with PhDs. On the other  hand, some of the smartest people I've ever known have been people with very little formal education at all, including my Dad.

In the last few weeks, the world has seen the passing of a great man, an unusually successful man who is also an example of the principle that intelligence and success in life does not necessarily spring from higher education. Steve Jobs was a college dropout, but also one of the men most instrumental if affecting change in the lives of people around the world in our time.

Reading about Steve Jobs in the articles that were written about him after his death, one thing was pointed out over and over. It was not that Steve Jobs didn't fail. He failed often. But what made him different and what made him so overwhelmingly successful was he was a realist. He was quick to recognize his failures, kick them to the curb and start over.

That sounds simple, but its not; and most people simply cannot do it. Most people cling to their failures. They cling to their false hopes and desires. They cling to the way they have been told things should be and refuse to deal with things as they are. They get hung up on the seeming unfairness of the lawlessness and anarchy that are frequently a part of reality. They may even get sidetracked altogether and start devoting themselves to leveling the playing field to make things more fair for more people. Personally, I think this very thing is part of the problem in our country today. We're spending too much time trying to make things fair and level and not enough time preparing people for the realities of life and its inherent unfairness.

This has never made sense to me. I've never understood the unwillingness of people to adapt to change, the unwillingness of people to embrace reality. In my opinion much of what we are seeing play out in the current economic downturn is a refusal of most people to accept and realize the implications of reality. Of course there were a number of things that contributed to the current economic downturn; but one of the barely understood facts of the downturn is that many of the jobs that have been lost are simply not gong to come back. That is a reality people do not accept.

The reality is, what skills many of the unemployed in the country have are no longer needed and will never be needed within the economic engine again. Instead of facing that reality, people are sitting back collecting unemployment benefits rather than trying to acquire skills that will make them employable again. The fact is, the unemployment rate among college educated people who have a higher level of skills is less than half the overall employment rate. These people will eventually be called back into work. Those on the lower rungs can never expect to make a living wage again unless they accept reality and learn new skills.

To complicate the matter further, thousands of high school kids are dropping out of school every year and swelling the ranks of the unskilled and unemployable. These young kids simply refuse to recognize reality, something of value must be traded for a living wage, and in our society the accepted medium of exchange is a skill valued by the economic engine that powers the country.

Looking back over my life and my bisexuality, I have come to something of a realization. To the extent that I had a problem with my bisexuality, it was due to my inability to accept the reality of it. I was sexually active with guys from the age of six and continued to be sexually active with them.

I began to have a sexual interest in girls right on schedule at about age twelve. The truth is my sexual interests in guys did nothing to lessen or inhibit my sexual interest in girls. And my sexual interest in girls did nothing to lessen or inhibit my sexual interests in guys. In reality, it was as simple as the fact that I liked both beef and chicken for dinner. My appreciation of one did not preclude my appreciation of the other.

All through high school I functioned just fine as a bisexual guy. There were no real problems at all. Even though, at that time, I didn't know my sexuality by its name, bisexuality, I was dealing with it quite well.

The problems began when I married and tried to live monogamously. I didn't have any trouble staying away from other women. Staying away from guys was a big problem, even though I had a fantastic and fulfilling sex life with my wife. The sex I had with her simply did not satisfy my need for male/male sexual bonds.

Looking back, the lessons of reality are clear. For a bisexual man, the need for male/male sex and a male/male bond is real and there is no substitute for it. Society fails to recognize reality when it implies that bisexuality is a learned behavior and that one can make the choice to step away from it. Those who make the decisions on what are behavioral norms simply have not talked to enough bisexual men, or they have not talked to them with an open mind.

There is so much one has to understand to live a successful bisexual life. Looking back what amazes me is that I pretty much instinctually knew what I needed to do to live a happy and successful life. The problems didn't come from me living life as a bisexual man. The problems came from trying to fit my living life as a bisexual man within the false notions society has about male sexuality and all the implications of male sexuality.

The fact is sex for men is kind of a wild thing.  I think at some level society recognizes the wildness but makes it its business to tame male sexuality and make it suitable for heterosexual monogamy and it is at that point the problems begin.

Admittedly, male/male sexuality can get to a point that even I consider it to be out of bounds. There are things that go on in male/male sexuality that are simply not healthy and rather sadistic and depraved. But I think the real question is what came first, the sadistic and depraved behavior or society failing to recognize the realities of male sexuality.  I think it was the latter. In failing to recognize male sexuality and male/male sexuality for what it should be, society has helped to contribute to making it something it shouldn't be in many cases. The little fetishes we all  have and the big sadistic and depraved fetishes that some of us have result from our having to deal in some way with what is denied us and even what is denied about us by society.

For men in particular sex has several functions. It has the procreational function which is the only function religion really recognizes as legitimate. It also has the recreational function which society condones within the bounds of heterosexual matrimony. But it also has the male/male bonding function which society does not recognize at all and does not admit exists much less condone.

Yet, if one talks to men who have sex with men, he will hear over and over about the need for bonding. Society simply refuses to recognize the reality of the need.

Personally, I believe society's wrestling with this issue is just beginning. The fact is male/male sexuality has been repressed for some time. But just as the internet and interpersonal communications via the internet have played a part in revolutions around the world in the last several months, I believe the internet is helping to arm a revolution in male/male sexuality. A subject that has been repressed and taboo is now open for discussion in tens of thousands of blogs and groups and one to one male encounters on the internet. Men are quickly coming to see that the urges and desires they have had all their lives are not unique to them. They exist in many if not in most men at one time or the other. Knowledge of such a thing cannot be contained. It will spread like wild fire and it already is.

The implications are profound. I believe that they will result in a new order of things and in a new awareness of the normality of male/male sexuality. The implications are so profound that I believe the may even transcend the terminology we currently use to describe men as straight, gay or bi. In talking to the number of guys that I do, I am beginning to see signs of something I had not really thought much about, the straight guy that is capable of a sexual encounter with another man. This seems to be particularly common in young guys today who see themselves as unquestionably straight but who also have no qualms at all about a sexual encounter with a trusted friend.

Once we would have written such a thing off simply by saying the reality was clear, the guy was never straight in the first place. I'm beginning not to be so sure of that. It is a phenomenon that is going to need a great deal of study, but I'm becoming more and more convinced that there are such things as straight men who can and do act sexually from time to time with other men in a frot type of sexual exchange and yet retain all that essentially makes them heterosexual. The sex is secondary to the bond and the bond is all male.

This bond is not new. It has existed only on societies before. It has simply been repressed now for several centuries. I believe that repression is coming to an end.

Reality is a complex issue. To understand reality, we must be willing to contemplate that which transcends current concepts of reality.

Jack Scott

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Tug Toner

Greg Cycles who is a member of my BisexualBuddies Yahoo Group and a reader of my blog sent this You Tube Video to me. It's too good not to share.

Be sure to watch the whole thing.

It's funny!

Jack Scott

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

An Open Letter to Evangelicals on Homosexuality

The following open letter to Evangelicals on homosexuality is not mine. It was posted recently on The Bi Married Mafia blog at

I am reposting the letter on my own blog because I think it is a letter that needs to be read and taken seriously. The people who need to read it most, of course, will never read it. Even if they did read it they would not see themselves in it or they would consider it just another attack from Godless heathens.

But I know that more than 70% of Americans consider themselves to be Christians, and I know that Christian men are not exempt from the ranks of married bisexual and homosexual men. Perhaps reading the letter will be helpful to some of you. Perhaps it will impress upon you there are many Protestant denominations which are not Evangelical who see bisexual and homosexual men and women as people God loves rather than as people God hates. 

I found, the letter, written by a Canadian citizen, to be interesting because he pointed out that in Canada even their Conservative Party is more liberal than our main stream Democrat Party here in the U.S. 

I have admitted before that I am a moderate Republican. Frankly, I'm not comfortable discussing politics to any great extent, and I'm certainly not comfortable suggesting to someone for whom he should vote. But I can shed some additional light on my own thinking. As a moderate Republican, I am not a fan of or a supporter of the conservative wing of the Republican Party. Of course, that means I have little regard at all for the Radical Right wing of the Republican Party. They see themselves as God's spokesmen and even as His enforcers. I want no part of anyone who is audacious enough to see themselves in that roll.

I don't want the Republican Party deciding what should go on in the privacy of my bedroom. I don't want the Republican Party deciding the conditions under which any woman may have an abortion. I don't want the Republican Party deciding another Republican is not qualified to be President based on the fact that he is a Mormon. I don't want the Republican Party deciding what my grandchildren will study in their science classes in school. I don't want the Republican Party deciding which books will be in the school library. I don't want the Republican Party to see itself as the morality police. I don't want the Republican Party deciding which religions are real and which are cults. In short these things are all part of the agenda of the Radical Right wing of the Republican Party and I want nothing to do with any of it.

At the same time, the country is reeling from the lack of leadership and from the underlying assumptions behind many of the policies and practices of the Obama administration. The reality is Obama simply does not have the background or the experience to be President of the United States, and unlike Chris Christie, he didn't have the wisdom to admit that to himself or to us. Yet President Obama does not want to put the government of the United States in our bedrooms. He fully supports the separation of church and state. He fully supports abortion as a matter of choice. He supports science over religious dogma and he is against censorship in school libraries. His stand on these issues is important to me and, I believe, in the best interests of this country. However, the Nation simply cannot take another Obama term. If what we have now is "Change we can believe in," what we need from the next Presidential administration is change we can count on to get this country turned around. 

That kind of change can't come from President Obama. He simply no longer has the confidence of the country behind him and he doesn't have the life experience to lead. Neither can such change come from any of the three Republican candidates who are members of the Radical Christian Right as identified by their thinking and their religious agenda. In all honesty, I'd rather have a highly qualified, can do President who is an atheist than either Obama or any of the Republican candidates who are ultra religious in their thinking. I'm a Texan and a moderate Republican, and I include Governor Perry of Texas in the list of those who are too much a part of the evangelical Christian Right in their thinking and in their campaigning to be an effective President.

As a bisexual man, a Christian and as an American I can already see that entering the voting booth in 2012 and deciding for whom I will cast my vote will be a tough decision. 

It is time for all Americans to make the same tough decision. The radicals on both sides of the political divide see the political center as wimpish and ineffective. But it is the political center as well as the religious center which has made this country great and which will return it to greatness.

I didn't write the following letter, but I wish I had. Letters like this are why I have come to love blogging. One has the opportunity to express his own opinions and at the same time is exposed to thoughtful opinions from other. This open letter of evangelicals on homosexuality is well worth some thought.

Jack Scott

An Open Letter to Evangelicals on Homosexuality

Here in Canada there is an Evangelical call in TV program run by a large Evangelical organization that invites individuals to call in and express their opinions regarding the topic of the evening. In fairness to them, I have seen them try to give time to all opinions, but of course, true to their agenda, after they have disconnected their caller, the host responds with, “well the Bible says....” and that is to be taken “as that” as though their interpretation of scripture is the ultimate trump card.

Unlike the United States, Evangelicals actually constitute a very small percentage of the Canadian population (just under 2 million of the total population). Canadians have historically shied away from dogmatic and polarizing theologies and this has probably been a positive factor in the progressive growth of this nation that so many Canadians are so proud of.

Still bolstered by American type evangelicalisms, they can be a small but vocal group that rides the coat tails of what is happening in the States. The likes of James Dobson, (of the Focus on the Family group), and so many other TV evangelists, eventually make their way into Canada to promote their right wing agendas to the hungry following here.

It needs to be noted that in Canada we are far more progressive than even we ourselves realize. We have three main political parties (the Conservatives, The Liberals and the very left leaning New Democratic Party). Saying that, typically even our Conservatives (with notable exceptions) tend to be more liberal than the Democrats of the US with the Ontario Conservative Party being the government that installed gay marriage in Canada a decade ago.

Recently this TV Program hosted a show on the topic of “The Church and Hypocrisy.” The Program was on the theme of “The Church and Hypocrisy” but somehow ended up as a Program addressing the “homosexual agenda." Somehow the question just seemed as an occasion for extremists to voice anti–homosexual rhetoric instead of addressing the Evangelical Church`s actual hypocrisies.

Without the benefit of a call in Program, please allow me to address my concerns about the Evangelical Church and the way it condemns (yes I do mean it is the Church that condemns) the homosexual community. Here is my Open Letter to Canadian Evangelicals.

The first hypocrisy of the church that I must point out is found in a concern for the individual`s that have been deeply, deeply wounded and scarred by the churches unfathomed message, its leaders and its members, with regards to this teaching on homosexuality. The Church is simply unwilling to recognize or acknowledge their negative impact on people. That the teachings they impart on individuals ... human lives has actually damaged people. The Evangelical Church will not hold itself accountable for their role in suicides by overwhelmed gay individuals, encouraging gay individuals to marry into straight marriages (only to judge them when they fail), and emotionally damaging people with so called reparative therapies. 

As counsellors and therapists have long acknowledged, this nation has seen tens of thousands of gay individuals broken by a faith culture of guilt and shame placed on them by a very vocal evangelical community. The hypocrisy that this faith sect claims a reparative message is simply not substantiated by actual evidence. Whereas the damage inflicted is substantiated outside but never acknowledged, examined or addressed within their community. Simply said their message is terribly destructive to the personhood of individuals that do not hold to their endorsed orientation and the Church is unwilling to look at this evidence.

Secondly I have to take exception to the constant nuances about the “homosexual agenda”, Pride Parades and as groups like Focus on the Family alludes, `teaching 10 year olds to be gay. `` Here’s the hypocrisy. That Evangelicals and specifically such Programs and such Broadcasting Networks have a blatant agenda to spread their message and their teachings. That they are clearly trying to influence the thoughts, thinking and minds of children and adults alike. Yet they find it abhorrent when others would in any way attempt to address the thought process of individuals as well. They find it morally evil when others take their place on the podium to address the crowds of a free nation, when their people (and the evangelical community as a whole) do it every day and put forth Billions of dollars to do such? Who has an agenda??? 

Contrary to the practical actions of many evangelicals, I do maintain that truth with eventually float to the top and that “the truth will set you free.” As with all such social agendas historically, I challenge them to let their version of truth stand amongst what others see as such, and let freedom reign of its own accord. Above all things truth shall persevere.

I would be remiss I was not also to point out the hypocrisy of the evangelical church with regards to its own history in social reform. Unfortunately instead of being a bastion of social reform the evangelicals have typically been stalwarts against social growth. Historically the Evangelicals have been on the wrong side of the battle with regards to slavery and emancipation, the suffragette movement, the civil rights movement, divorce, The HIV Crisis, the environment and agendas as simple as feeding the poor (so often seen as the “Social Gospel. “) 

Yes in fairness eventually even these hardened hearts, came around and many of the evangelical faiths eventually came to understand what countless people had been trying in vain to articulate to them for years. But not before the church had left a huge furrow of broken individuals in their wake. Yes folks, in time, even your denominations will understand that in fact it is you that is “hurting the heart of God” and as history has proved over and over again, your grandchildren will come to understand what you cannot and will not now.

Which brings me to my last point of contention regarding hypocrisies... truth. Please understand that I am well versed in evangelical theology. I understand the worldview that says that “Christ, as expressed in Scripture is the truth.” Unfortunately what is not articulated well by evangelicals is that the crux of their “truth” is still ultimately held in their own interpretations. Unfortunately this has always been the Achilles heel of the Evangelicals... a culture of “selective literalism.” 

I am not going to get into a theological discussion about this at this time, but I am going to articulate what is glaringly evident to an outsider watching them. THEY NEED THEIR INTERPRETATIONS AND MESSAGE TO BE TRUE! There are so many institutions, credentials, careers and individuals that are dependent on their interpretations being true. Personally I see a culture of fear, which will not allow faithful believers to challenge long held interpretations. There is a mentality of “if this interpretation is not true then all of the interpretations must be incorrect." 

As noted, in reality the Evangelical community is a very small segment of Canadian Society. In fact it is a dying segment with the largest denominations like the PAOC, The Christian and Missionary Alliance, The Baptist Conventions, losing members daily and closing dozens of congregations annually. Yes it is hypocrisy to be unwilling to acknowledge that increasingly Canadians are opening their minds to bigger theologies, inclusive atmospheres, and gracious acceptance when followers of their message are in fact dwindling away. Frankly is speaks of sour grapes not concern. 

In rereading this letter, I am realizing it may come across far more critical sounding than gracious. I do hope that one can receive my letter in a grace that I may be lacking and in the spirit intended. I truly believe that fundamentally most Evangelicals are individuals that care and want the best for Canadians. Unfortunately I am seeing that they at this time are unable to see their own hypocrisies or the way that they are fostering such in their communities, along with the damage and pain they are instigating. That really is truly tragic and yes I do believe “hurts the heart of God.”
Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.

But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.

The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jack Scott