I recently experienced the exquisitely painful movie, ‘Boy Erased.’ The film dramatizes the real-life odyssey of Garrard Conley, the son of a pastor couple who struggles with same-sex attraction.
I can only base my impressions on the film itself, but Conley stands by this rendering of his story. It is full of pain for all concerned and – for those of us who know the issues addressed – it is equally shameful for the Church and the gay lobby.
The boy – Jared in the film – at first resists his attractions, honoring what his church and the Word of God say about acting on them; anyone thinking this easy is not getting it.
He befriends a gay fellow student who forces sex with him and then outs him to his family. His parents persuade him to enter what amounts to a de-programming facility.
The prevailing philosophy of this so-called Christian treatment center is to condition the male patients to become more masculine and the females to become more feminine – as though that were all there is to it. Inmates are routinely shamed, bullied and marched up and down with military precision.
At one point Jared is beaten with bibles by staff members. The center’s director will later be revealed as a closeted gay man who eventually resigns to live the gay life. This revelation intends to symbolize what producers label the hypocrisy of all conversion therapies.
Eventually the boy calls his mother to rescue him. Even then the staff attempts to hold him until one of the other inmates intervenes by force to aid his escape. At the end we are told the boy is happily married to another man and his family has at last accepted him as he is.
The film is well acted and produced; I have no reason to believe it is anything but accurately portraying this particular case.
I said it was shameful for the Church and it is. Such facilities and philosophies do exist within the Body of Christ; they are as brutal and twisted and ignorant as anything they might seek to cure.
I wish I had a dollar for every judgmental pronouncement I’ve heard to the effect the struggler with gay affections need only turn to prayer and the Word to be cleansed. Were it that simple there would be neither drunk drivers nor sexual predators in the churches.
I clearly recall the speaker at a massive rally some years ago chronicling his years-long struggle with same sex attractions and his conviction only God’s pre-victorious forgiveness and love sustained him until he could break free from the bondage.
This beneficiary of God’s unconditional love finished his address saying there is no forgiveness for gays until they get it together to be straight or celibate. The hypocrisy is nauseating.
I said it should shame gay lobbyists, and it should. This film managed to incorporate virtually every false stereotype the gay lobby publishes about itself.
A partial list would include the myth of health issues associated with homosexuality going away once gays find acceptance; they do not.
Another would be peace in the family; domestic violence is much more common in gay relationships; child molestation and abuse are likewise proportionately higher.
The implication those who oppose the gay agenda are all or mostly closeted gays themselves is patently absurd; the idea reparative therapy is universally abusive is just as ridiculous.
But the biggest fiction the film promotes is the lie that there is no healing for homosexuality.
I know too many healed homosexual people to take seriously such claims. I know of too many successful ministries combining authentic compassion, unconditional love and support, and a good grasp of addiction dynamics.
I have too much firsthand experience with the power of acceptance without an unnecessary endorsement of a lifestyle that kills its adherents. The weapons we use in the fight for – not against – people in this kind of pain are blessing, forgiveness and engagement-communion. These are the weapons Jesus employs; Christians have no other legitimate resources.
God loves all of us – gay and straight – without limit just the way we are. He loves us so much He has no intention of leaving us in the condition in which He finds us – gay or straight.
The film is to be commended for exposing a dark side of the Church; those exposed need to repent. The film-makers need to repent of the lies they push.
All of us need to wake up and smell the coffee – the heart of our God is a lot bigger and a lot more relentless in loving than we are. God be praised for that.
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