'Ex'-lesbian and an 'ex'-gay man – both pastors – launch 'Changed is Possible'
ELIZABETH Woning and Ken Williams have a simple message to LGBT communities: God can radically transform their sexual orientation.
The two pastors at Bethel Church, an independent charismatic megachurch in Redding, California, are trying to breathe new life into the discredited notion that gays can become “straight” with a new website – Changed is Possible – that features stories of people who consider themselves #oncegay.
The pair — both are married to other people of the opposite sex — reject the term “conversion therapy” and say they have no particular programme or curriculum. They do not offer therapy, they say, but “testimony”.
Neither are they licensed counselors — but they said they will meet with individuals wanting to become heterosexual to offer discipleship and prayer.
The effort comes at a time when 18 states have banned conversion therapy for minors — California was the first and remains the leader in the effort to expand the ban — and amid revelations that yet another prominent Christian ex-gay leader – McKrae Game – recently came out as gay after 27 years of denying his homosexuality.
Game, 51, above, founded and led Hope for Wholeness, a Spartanburg, South Carolina-based ex-gay ministry, until he was fired in 2017.
Game, who has apologised profusely for the harm he’s done, is just the latest in a long string of ex-gay leaders who now say the whole enterprise is fraudulent.
Though he started out a zealot to the cause, Game said he slowly came to realise he could not change his sexual attraction to men. The most he could do was change his behaviour. He did that, ultimately marrying a woman. He is still married.
But he also realised that repressing his attraction to men has negative consequences, which he saw in many of the men he counseled. He said:
Fighting your sexual orientation develops mental illness and other addictions and mental behaviors like depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, agoraphobic behaviors and eating disorders.
Many “gay cure” charlatans rely on the work of the late psychologist Joseph Nicolosi, who practiced what he called “reparative therapy”,” which he proposed was caused by childhood alienation from either the father or mother, a process that interrupted a child’s normal masculine or feminine identity formation.
That theory has been debunked by every major medical and mental health association, including the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, the American Counseling Association, and a host of others. All have issued statements opposing the practice.
In the absence of trained clinical therapists, some churches have begun referring people with same-sex attractions to Celebrate Recovery, a popular 12-step program that churches have offered to help people suffering from addiction.
Leaders of the Changed platform acknowledge that some ex-gays still struggle with same-sex attraction.
Williams, the co-founder of the Changed network, seemed to acknowledge that his attraction to men is not entirely gone. He said he experiences “almost” no same-sex attraction.
He and Woning said they also support Christians who decide they prefer celibacy, believing the Bible allows and even encourages those who want to avoid sexual sin through abstinence.
That the Changed platform emerged in California is perhaps not surprising given that the State Assembly, which is predominantly Democratic, has offered up a raft of bills to strengthen the ban on the practice.
Woning said she and Williams traveled to Sacramento to protest some of those bills. Last year they testified in an Assembly committee hearing and staged a two-hour rally to demonstrate against a bill that would have classified conversion therapy as a fraudulent business practice. That bill was withdrawn.
At the most fundamental level, Woning said, she sees efforts to ban the practice as a matter of religious freedom.
We should all have a right to shape our own personal sexuality as we feel led by our convictions.
Bethel Church promotes idiotic ideas such as prophesy, healing, demon exorcism and other Pentecostal bullshit. It is perhaps best known for its Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, an unaccredited programme that draws 2,000 students from 64 countries.
All that we can do is connect people to the loving, hopeful God we encountered and that we continue to know personally; We want to help reconnect them back to the God that helped us.