More on the ex-“ex-gay” apology

July 4, 2007

Coverage on this story can be found everywhere, but this exerpt from an article in the Advocate is what I found most miraculous:

Ex-gay survivor Eric Leocadio was on hand to witness the official apology in Los Angeles. As a high school freshman Leocadio ingested two fistfuls of pills, hoping to kill himself so that he would not have to struggle with his sexual orientation. “When I survived,” said Leocadio, now 31, “I realized that God wasn’t done with me. There was so much more that God had planned for me.”

But his journey of self-acceptance was arduous. After his suicide attempt Leocadio became a devoted Christian and used his spirituality to stifle his same-sex attractions. At 26 he ended up at the Desert Stream Ministries in Anaheim, Calif., where he underwent an intensive ex-gay program to heal his “brokenness” (along with masturbators, prostitutes, and fellow gays), yearning to live a straight and “normal” life.

“I received a lot of mixed signals from the church,” he said. “Everyone gets unconditional love from God but only conditional love from the church, based on the concept of ‘wholeness.’ ”

Leocadio left Desert Stream in 2004 when he realized the promise of an ex-gay life devoid of same-sex attraction wasn’t true. It became clear to him that one could not just shed sexuality and that he would have to devote the rest of his life to praying against his sexual urges. The following year Leoncadio started his TwoWorldCollision blog to document the conflict between being gay and being Christian; his posts have been known to move people to tears and inspire e-mail responses from around the world.

“I wanted to get to the point where I owned my belief,” he said. “What I knew about Christianity was the only thing I was taught. I decided to take a step back and learn more. I met other gay Christians who had a genuine faith and love for God. Through meeting them, I have been able to truly learn the love of God and own it for myself.”

It is amazing both the damage and the restoration that the church can provide.  Let’s pray that with God’s help we can eliminate those pieces which cause damage.  Read the whole article here.

j

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5 Responses to “More on the ex-“ex-gay” apology”

  1. FrMichael Says:

    “his posts have been known to move people to tears and inspire e-mail responses from around the world.”

    I followed the link to the 2Worlds blog and spent quite a while reading various posts and writings. It reminded me very much of the Garden of Eden and Eve’s musings that she had to eat of the fruit. One can read the progression of his posts from “Christian and celibate” to “Long Beach Pride Day publicizer.” I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but niceness is no substitute for holiness.

    Interesting too how the braindead branch of conservative Evangelicalism– as opposed to intelligent conservative Evangelicalism, which does exist– was a midwife of this man’s soul to the Devil.

    Very Protestant, though: he alone has the ultimate right to interpret Scripture for himself. I’m surprised he hasn’t found his way to mainline Protestantism, but I suppose his anti-liturgical bias must be a huge stumbling block.

    After a few months’ absence from the comments boxes, it’s good to be back as the resident curmudgeon.

  2. Jeff Says:

    It’s good to have you back, Fr Michael.

    I do believe that Exodus and its similar “ministries” are primarily evangelical. The Roman Catholic church has its own horror stories, though, with its authoritarian structure, so I’m not sure what the point is- are you back-handing Protestantism or this poor guy who struggled to come to terms with his identity when his community gave him no support?

    j

  3. Ambrose Says:

    Cripes, it makes my skin crawl when people pass judgment on others’ “holiness,” or rather, lack thereof. Anyone remember the story of Lazarus and the Pharisee?

  4. FrMichael Says:

    Jeff, good to be back.

    My commentary wasn’t so much on his gayness than on how his story reflects several strong currents in contemporary American Protestantism as I view it as an outsider, to wit:

    1) That finding out the truth about God is primarily done through individual interpretation; past interpretations/traditions have little normative weight.

    2) Closely related to #1, that individual experience (primarily emotional) is necessary for all aspects of a faith journey. Thus my comment about Eve– she didn’t accept God’s command based on His authority, she had to experience evil itself before she learned his lesson.

    3) Desert Stream is an example of what I call “brain dead conservative Protestantism.” That is, “if you love Jesus, He will take away your suffering.”

    4) He demonstrates the strong anti-mainline bias among evangelicals: even though he must know that there are branches of Protestantism amenable to his developing position, he seems to evidence no desire to explore the mainline churches.

    Hope that clears up my comment– I wrote it in haste and see it wasn’t too clear.

    Ambrose:

    Lazarus and the Pharisee? Please fill me in.

    As an RC priest, what do you expect me to say when I read about a guy who thinks that the key to his spiritual growth is engaging in homosexual activity? His spiritual questioning is a good thing given the faith community he was in, but he’s looking in the wrong place for answers.

  5. Jeff Says:

    Fr. Michael – emotional experience is not a Protestant characteristic of interpretation in any systematic mainline denomination I have experienced; I find your characterization of Protestant interpretation as such to be a stretch. As you must know, there are many different forms of spirituality, across Roman Catholicism, mainline Protestantism, and evangelicism. To raise one up (tradition, liturgy, etc) while castigating another (emotional, spirit-driven) is to cast doubt on the diversity of the creation. To live together in this world we have to find ways to balance that diversity.

    Across the board use of tradition without anything else allows tradition to become the same kind of monolith that Jesus repeatedly preached against– the kind of teaching which rallied the temple leaders to conspire to kill him. Their “tradition” of interpretation of Mosaic law had gotten twisted. If we have no other channels for keeping our ‘ears open’ for God’s continued revelation then we are no better.

    Whether or not this particular person is “overly emotional” is yet a different question. That is an answer I’m not sure either of us are equipped to judge, as the other poster has pointed out. What is particularly relevant is that the quality of this person’s spiritual life has been dramatically improved now that he is freed of the burden of thinking that his God-given identity– his creation as a gay man– is a sinful identity in and of itself. He may be a sinner, but the reason for being in a sinful state is not because he is gay. It is because he is human, like the rest of us.

    j


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