Love In Action dominated the first two decades of my adult life. The ministry sought to bring freedom to men and (to a lesser extent) women in bondage to homosexuality. In the now over two decades since I left my volunteer staff position with LiA, I’ve wrestled through a lot of feelings and questions about the ministry, as have most people who went through the program and/or served with the ministry.
Perhaps no one has been more soul searching about Love In Action than John Smid. John spent 20 years in leadership positions with the ministry, eventually becoming its executive director. A series of events in the early 2000s, however, led him to admit his own inability to overcome homosexuality and to question the validity of ex-gay ministry. Today John Smid embraces his identity as a gay man, rejecting the Biblical truth that God condemns homosexuality.
Occasionally I read John’s blog. I love him, remembering our years of friendship before he banned me from his Facebook and Twitter feeds. My husband John and I pray for him often, brokenhearted by decisions he’s made in the last nine years. His blog informs our prayers.
Last week I visited John Smid’s blog, and read his fascinating article, Was Love In Action Double-Minded? I have read it three times now, and I actually agree with most of his points. While we assured the general public that our goal was holiness rather than heterosexuality, much of our teaching implied that our clients would experience a changed sexual orientation. I believe he correctly says that we spoke out of both sides of our mouths.
But I believe the double-mindedness goes a lot deeper than John Smid realizes. In writing this, please understand that I don’t mean to judge the motives of anyone in leadership at LiA. We received inadequate teaching that dulled our discernment, causing us to believe that psychology and Charismatic mysticism enhanced the power of the Holy Spirit to deliver people from sin.
Sure, we gave lip-service to the Bible’s teaching that homosexuality is sin, but in practice we followed the addiction models popularized by 12-Step programs. During my tenure as their Correspondence Counselor, I struggled off and on with feelings that we depended more on Charismatic mysticism than on God’s Word, but I feared that voicing my concerns would result in my dismissal.
About a month before I left Love In Action (for reasons completely unrelated to its approach to ministry, I’m sorry to say), I overheard another staff member tell someone, “Yes, Love In Action is a Bible-based ministry…” In my head, I argued, “No it’s not. It’s pop-psychology with Bible verses taped on to make it look Christian.”
Most of us, I hasten to say, genuinely loved Jesus and wanted to serve Him. Our mingling of worldly techniques with Scripture came more from ignorance than from cunning or malice. But the fact remains that we compromised with the world when we should have leaned on the Lord.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. ~~James 4:1-10 (ESV)