We didn’t sit in staff meetings seeking out sinister ways to mislead people. Indeed, all of us at Love In Action honestly believed that pop-psychology and “inner healing” techniques complimented the Bible in helping people overcome homosexuality.
I had no problem with the psychological explanation that homosexuality resulted from a real or perceived interruption with a same sex parent and/or an over-identification with an opposite sex parent. I further accepted the theory that an inability to connect with same sex peers caused young people to sexualize the desire for companions of their own gender. I bandied around terms like “emotional dependency” and “defensive detachment” without batting an eye, seeing no tension between those paradigms and Scripture.
In agreement with Love In Action and the other ex-gay ministries associated with Exodus International, I regarded homosexuality as being simultaneously sinful rebellion against the Lord and a psychological condition that required incremental healing. I firmly believed that my counseling letters on behalf of the ministry could include Scriptures about Israel’s conquest of Canaan and apply them to the process of overcoming homosexuality…as in this example:
The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you. ~~Deuteronomy 7:22 (NIV)
I know…I read a lot into the text in order to legitimize the psychological model. Sure, I had to concoct an explanation for the part about the wild animals (I can’t remember how I manipulated that clause), but I successfully upheld the idea that repenting of homosexuality happened gradually.
But my enthusiastic embrace of Love In Action’s psychological models stopped short of accepting the techniques of inner healing that they employed. By God’s providence, my role as the correspondence counselor kept me fairly insulated from that aspect of the ministry. Still, leadership encouraged me to read the books they used in ministering to the men and women in the residential program.
One evening, as I poured over LeAnne Payne’s book, The Broken Image (which, just to be clear, I do not recommend), a close friend and co-worker came by my house to deliver stuff from the office. (I worked from home because the office was up two flights of stairs.) Instead of greeting him properly, I looked up from the book and complained, “A bunch of her stuff reminds me of the occult.”
Despite writing about her “deep concerns” regarding “Jungian Christianity,” LeAnne Payne believed heavily in many Freudian-Jungian models by which people could assess root causes of their homosexuality. Then, through techniques such as listening prayer, they could break free of the psychological forces that kept them in bondage to that sin. She particularly relied on dream interpretation as a tool for psychological healing.
My co-worker understood why I had problems with the book (as well as other inner healing methods that the ministry used), but he advised me to “chew on the meat and spit out the bones.” So I ignored my misgivings with the rationalization that the correspondence aspect of the ministry was somewhat divorced from the rest of their work.
The Lord may or may not have ministered to people through Love In Action. We honestly thought we presented a biblical response to homosexuality, and perhaps a few things we did drew people closer to Christ. He will make that judgment when we stand before Him. As for my part, I anticipate very few rewards. Yet I trust that the Lord will judge graciously.