Monday, October 17, 2011

Maybe You Can't Make People Straight After All

Posted By on Mon, Oct 17, 2011 at 4:00 PM

The Daily Beast ran an interesting article this weekend on John Smid, who previously ran Love in Action, a controversial "ex-gay" organization in Memphis (somewhat similar to some of the counseling work done by Marcus Bachmann), who has turned from his previous position that homosexuality is something to be cured:

Last week, John Smid, the former director of Love in Action, the country’s oldest and largest ex-gay ministry, acknowledged on his blog that, contrary to the claims of the movement he represented for decades, gay people cannot become straight. “I’ve never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual,” he wrote. He himself certainly has not. “I would consider myself homosexual and yet in a marriage with a woman,” he explained. He loves his wife and has no plans to leave her, but wrote, “this doesn’t change the fact that I am who I am and she is who she is.”

Smid, who resigned from Love in Action in 2008, was just the latest ex-gay luminary to leave the movement, either voluntarily or in a cloud of scandal. His break with ex-gay orthodoxy is a sign that, even in the evangelical world, the notion that sexual orientation can be altered is increasingly crumbling in the face of reality. Evangelicals used to insist that “change is possible,” says Warren Throckmorton, a Grove City College psychology professor once associated with the ex-gay movement. “The new paradigm, I believe, is no, it doesn’t look like that works, and so you go with it, you accept it, and you try to make the best life you can in congruence with the rest of your beliefs,” he says.


These days, Smid, 57, supports himself through a housecleaning business that he runs with his wife, and he’s launched a new ministry, Grace Rivers, which runs a weekly fellowship meeting for gay Christians. This weekend is gay pride in Memphis, and Smid will be at the parade along with a group of Christians involved in something called the “I’m Sorry” campaign. Founded by a Chicago missionary named Andrew Marin, participants go to gay events to seek forgiveness for the church’s history of homophobia, wearing T-shirts that say, “I’m Sorry. Love Is an Orientation.”

Smid is still praying over what to write on his sign. “It’s not necessarily the generic church saying I’m sorry, it’s deeper than that,” he says. “I’m trying to figure out how to say something on a small poster.”

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