Autobiography With Purpose: The “Dear Abby” Of The Ex-Gay World

Dear DebbieLynneA little over a month after I returned to California from Wales (and a ten-day vacation in London), I sat at my typewriter excitedly ready to write my first counseling letter for Love In Action. The letter I had to answer brimmed with confusion and heartache. The writer’s husband had just told her that he struggled with homosexual feelings.

Suddenly, despite all the reading I’d done and all the instruction Anita had given me, I crumbled under the weight of inadequacy. I stared at the blank piece of paper in my typewriter, wondering how to fill it. As I prayed, the Lord helped me to remember those Bible Studies back in my high school years. Kent had taught that the Bible could answer any situation.

 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~~Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)

Once I determined that Scripture would form the basis of my counseling, the words filled the pages easily. At the end of the week, I handed in three letters, all of which satisfied the office staff that I could handle the responsibility.

Like any new worker, I made a few missteps in those early days, such as sympathetically agreeing with one emotionally abused wife that divorce might be her best option. That particular letter brought the first of only two actual corrections I received during my twelve years on staff. Gently but firmly, Anita informed me that, as a representative of Love In Action, I must never recommend divorce.

By the end of that summer, Love In Action asked me to go beyond writing to friends and family of homosexual “strugglers” (as we called them) to writing strugglers themselves. At that point, I’d grown fairly familiar with the ministry’s basic teachings. Once in a while I’d find myself taking Scriptures out of context in order to substantiate those teachings. I rationalized that I was helping people, and I still affirmed the Bible’s authority.

As time progressed and leadership applauded my use of God’s Word (although I actually misused it), I grew more comfortable with the practice. Leaders from other ex-gay ministries under the Exodus International umbrella began to notice my articles in the Love In Action newsletters, and none of them questioned my use of God’s Word. I enjoyed my notoriety, and praised the Lord that He allowed me to be the “Dear Abby” of the ex-gay world.

To be fair, I believe I honestly wanted to uphold the Bible in my counseling letters, and there were many times I used it accurately. I regret much about my self-serving attitude that led me to take Bible verses out of context, but I hope that God used me in spite of my failings to draw people to His Word.

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