Thursday, March 7, 2013

Response to Christy McFerren

Christy McFerren is a blogger and author who claims that her same-sex attraction has "ended," but not without a fight. She has a book out called First Steps Out, with the subtitle How Christians Can Respond to a Loved One's Stuggle with Homosexuality. I have only come across her writing today, in the Prodigal Magazine article: On Homosexuality: It's OK to Fight (published in late August of 2012).

You really need to read the whole thing, but here is an excerpt:
During my struggle, I was at times almost overwhelmed by a relentless, internal pressure to make a decision that would define me in the long term. I contemplated “coming out,” not because I was suddenly proud of it, but because I was tired of fighting… particularly after a failure. I was exhausted and humiliated. I wanted to disappear; not confess to loss again. Pride’s temptation to turn struggle into statement, wrong into right, was intense. In these moments, depression weighed heavily on me. Vision for life faded in and out, like a boxer reeling from blows to the head. But I just wouldn’t lay down on the mat and quit. It felt too much like making a deal with the devil. I knew the pressure to come out was a demand for my agreement with darkness, and would turn my heart to enmity with God.
Honestly, I am at a loss on how to respond. The article has so many assumptions about who God is, what Truth is, how God feels about homosexuality, that it's actually fairly pointless to debate the subject with her. Plus, this is her story, and there is truth to that. However, I did feel the need to leave a comment. Here's what I wrote:
Hi Christy, first I want to say that I respect your story and your journey. Being a gay person (or someone you would probably prefer to call "person struggling with same-sex attraction"), I have to admit that my reaction to your post is sadness. More than sadness, I feel anger. I don't want you to feel "attacked" personally because I know that each person's journey is their own. I just want to let you know that the assumptions you make about God and about homosexuality are ones that I categorically reject. I also believe that the assumptions you make about God and about homosexuality will cause harm to LGBT youth, especially in the church. I have no doubt you have a heart that desperately wants truth and longs to please God. But you must consider that there is a considerable amount of doubt regarding this issue, even just theologically speaking. (Let alone scientifically.) Homosexuality is NOT a choice. To say so is incredibly misleading and incredibly damaging to LGBT folks. You chose a path of fighting against your sexual identity; you did not choose homosexuality in the first place. I hope that as you share your story and your meet other people, your mind will change regarding God's heart toward his LGBT children. God loves you no more and no less because you used an iron will to fight your identity. I know I won't change your mind, but I felt I must speak up. Again, your story is personal and in no way do I wish to disparage your story nor your heart. Please don't disparage my story and my heart and other LGBT individuals and families by making broad assumptions that God is displeased with us.
Christy responded to me in the comments section of her article:
Hi Kevin, I respect your story and your position. At no point did I make any assumption or indicate in any way God is displeased with you. However, I will tell my story with the same conviction you tell yours, because there are those who wish to fight, as I did. It is not for you to determine whether that will harm them; it is THEIR choice, after all, not yours, or that of the LGBT community. People need to be told it's Ok to fight if they desire to, and you won't be able to silence that message on the basis of any emotions, fears, or postulations of harmfulness, which as you say, cannot be proven. You must respect my freedom and the freedom of the many who wish to align with traditional theological interpretations to fight their homosexuality according to their convictions. I speak no condemnation to those who wish not to fight, and want to be at peace with their decision to align more with a theology like that of Justin Lee. My heart is not that we judge or condemn it as sin, it's that we continue to offer options regarding people's sexuality. Hope that makes sense and thanks for taking the time to tell your story. Christy
I responded back to Christy:
I understand, Christy. I disagree with you about what you present in your article regarding assumptions about God. It is crystal clear from your article that you believe homosexuality is a sin, so there is no need to try to sugarcoat that or step away from your position. Sin displeases God. In your eyes, I am a sinner because I "choose" to live a "homosexual lifestyle." We all have the freedom to believe what we want and say what we think is right--but this does not come without consequence. I DO agree with you, however, that it is ultimately up to the individual to decide whether to fight against it or not. In no way do I want to "silence" your story nor your point of view. However, rest assured, I will be speaking up loudly, clearly, and with conviction my own position, just as much as you intend to do with yours. People also need to be told that God loves them. This is NOT a choice. Having said all this, I do sincerely wish you the best in your personal, professional, and spiritual life.
Let me ask you, dear reader: what is your response? If you met her or someone who believed similarly, what would you say? I invite you to leave a comment here, or at the original article.


paul said...

My read of Christy is that she is, like so many fundamentalist Christians, sincere to a large degree.

I see here struggling and doing a bit of dancing. I think she sincerely wants to love and not judge, and that she thinks she is accomplishing this by not actually saying what she thinks and feels about tgt. The fact that she doesn't say what she thinks and feels bluntly is her attempt to love and not judge.

I believe she trying to maintain what feels to her like a delicate balancing act. I think she knows, at least intuitively, that the "love the sinner, hate the sin" line just doesn't work... so she is not using it. But that is where she is coming from.

The fact that she doesn't say such things, that she chooses her words, oh so carefully, indicates to me that she realizes on some level that there is something amiss with her stance.

LIke so many in her position she cannot reconcile reality with her ideas of God.

Kevin said...

I agree completely with your observations. Sincere, yet using many, many words to say "love the sinner, hate the sin." Her own story shows that THAT was how she saw her own identity--as a sin to hate and fight against at all costs. I haven't read anything else from her (I wouldn't be able to bear it), but my only hope is that she has words to parents, pastors, etc that read her book that tell them that her story is VERY much the exception. But I seriously doubt she does. And even if she DID "overcome" her same-sex attraction, at what cost? A long, painful, and unnecessary emotional lobotomy.

paul said...

I doubt any part of her message has "words to parents, pastors, etc..., that tell them her story is VERY much the exception"

I don't think that she believes she has to be the exception, which is part of the point of her writing the book, i.e. "to offer hope to those who want to change." It's like Christian apologetics, not really written to convince atheists to convert, but written to reinforce the wall around the sheep. She wrote the book (not necessarily wittingly) for people like herself who grew up in a Christian Culture that teaches both subtly and directly that gay is bad; to people who still believe that... well, people I believe are emotionally and cognitively conditioned by their predominant culture to believe that.

Kevin said...

"reinforce the wall around the sheep" - so very sad but so true. And it's the LGBT youth growing up in those churches who will suffer for it.