This Has Got To Stop: Ending Conversion Therapy, Opposing Ex-Gay Ministry

My friend Daniel Karslake posted the below on Facebook  this past Tuesday; will share some more thoughts after the embed:

There is a LOT of ground covered in the interview with Daniel that I hope will make it into the film.  It is my consistent prayer that Daniel’s documentary (For They Know Not What They Will Do) will stop the damage, heal the unnecessary hurt and literally save lives.

When I talk about “this has GOT to stop” it is in response to ex-gay ministry/conversion therapy. To be clear, I don’t see a real difference between ex-gay ministry and conversion therapy anymore. They may have different environments, different lingo, but the same underlying beliefs are imposed as a cure or “healing” for something that should be recognized as a gift, not a wound. Ex-gay ministry and conversion therapy both provide false hope, unnecessary hurt on top of already existing pain, and possibly personal/relational destruction on every level.

It has to stop.

Specifically, conversion therapy for minors needs to be against the law, across the board. For adults in conversion therapy or ex-gay ministries, we all have freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religious conscience. However, we can have all those freedoms while also:

  • Placing stricter guidelines/policies for state-issued professional licensing programs for counselors.
  • Hold churches that promote and financially support ex-gay ministries accountable through public scrutiny of their support.
  • We don’t have to provide the financial incentive for conversion therapy/ex-gay ministry via the state through the granting of non-profit status. Let the current ex-gay 501(c)3 model go “for profit” instead and see how that works out.
  • If ex-gay ministries/conversion therapists are allowed to go for a non-profit status, don’t let their by-laws get away with being a general “Christian discipleship” ministry either. Their goals of “overcoming” homosexuality should be overt and clear in their legal documents. Their specific ministry approach to accomplishing these goals should be crystal clear in their legal documents as well.
  • In our own spheres of influence, we can expose the legalistic/religious fear exploiting real issues that then funnels hurting and vulnerable people into conversion therapy and ex-gay ministries. For many in the church, they are taught and told that they are broken and these destructive paths are their only option. NOT true. We need to invest in positive, affirming, and life-giving resources (faith-based and secular); resources that provide help, healthy community, and opportunities for personal growth.

Ex-gay ministries and conversion therapy aren’t necessary. While there are real issues every human deals with, conversion therapy and ex-gay ministries confound and sometimes exacerbate existing pain, contextualizes who we are and our relational sense of being through stigma infused teachings, and then creates false expectations and goals with highly pressurized consequences.

This has got to stop and it will. It will the day when we realize that the only difference between us, in Christ and not, is… nothing. We all need love, help, support, and hope. We all struggle with our core relational sense of being, identity, hopes, joys, and fears. We all need each other and safe places of support and community.

While we press onward to live, grow, and love in our non-perfect lives, this unnecessary destruction stops when we embrace that we are not broken, we are beautiful. 


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