And “Such Were Some of You;” Unpacking Exgay Speak

I am not a theologian nor the son of one. I don’t particularly appreciate getting into theological debates and now refuse to get into them. While I know my Bible backward and forwards, getting into theological “discussions” (for me) is like eating glass. Then, while chewing on the shards, people complain, criticize, and argue about the color of the glass being eaten, not whether it is incredibly painful, deadly, healthy, or reasonable.

If you want a theological perspective on 1 Cor 6:9-11, check this resource out by Matthew Vines. He explains the correct translation would be to condemn sexual exploitation, not healthy, committed LGBTQ+ relationships. I am going to respond to this with the literal reading of the verse, which is:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 9Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the LORD Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

If there ever was a verse that encapsulated the toxic theology (based on misinterpreting “men who have sex with men”) and the false hope of exgay ministry, it is this verse. It communicates right off the bat that if you are an LGBTQ+ person, you are reduced to a single act of a man having sex with a man (reductive, dismissive, erasing the LBTQ+s) and somehow that is the same as worshipping other gods. It is assumed that being gay is the same as pedophiles/exploitive sexual practices/assault, equal to people who betray their marriage vows in the sight of God, on par with thieves, greedy people, substance abusers, people who maliciously malign and lie about other people, and con artists.

The already vulnerable LGBTQ+ person in their midst is immediately shamed and burdened with being evil, and they, along with the rest of humanity listed in the verse, will not “inherit the Kingdom of God.” The other way to say this is that if you are simply LGBTQ+, you are worthy of condemnation and criminalization; that you will have a miserable life on earth and eternal damnation.

With that undue burden and shame, the LGBTQ+ person is then told that Jesus washed, sanctified, and justified them. “Washed, sanctified, and justified” is all subject to interpretation as well. If you push exgay leaders on what that looks like, you will get many different answers. They say that justifying is a gift from God, but you can’t realize that gift without behaving and believing correctly.

Talk about poison wrapped with a smile in the name of love.

The condemnation of LGBTQ+ people is obvious, their “sanctification, washing, and justifying” in Jesus’ name and Holy Spirt is not. However, exgay ministries are more than willing to assume the power over you to explain to you what that should look like for “true healing, freedom, and deliverance.” And, like magic, they will have programs and resources you can pay for that will inadequately explain what your faith, future, and relationships should look like but be crystal clear about how terrible being LGBTQ+ is in the sight of a God who likes to give free gifts that require a very high priced program (literally and metaphorically).

The truth is, LGBTQ+ people should not have been included in this verse, to begin with. We are God’s Children, and They/She/Him (God transcends gender in my opinion) loves us. We bear the image of God as well as anyone else. We are as “saved” as anyone else. To say we are no different than the other sins listed in that verse is blatant religious bigotry rooted in mistranslation and the historic cultural influence of that verse.

To learn more about unpacking “exgay speak” click here.

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