by Bil Aulenbach

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My Aversion to Conversion

I recently read a magazine article about an acclaimed Jamaican author, Marlon James, and his award-winning book, A Brief History of Seven Killings.

My interest was piqued when he shared his “deep secret.” Before his writing career took off, Marlon became a fundamentalist Christian to deal with the fact that he was gay in a country plagued with homophobia. He went through a form of conversion therapy (really more like an exorcism) where he vomited for hours while praying to be converted to an “ex-gay.” It never happened, despite all the torture.

This is one way fundamentalists “love” others in the name of Christianity. To me, conversion therapy is comparable to waterboarding (in which water is continually poured on someone’s face) and is inhumane.

Other forms of conversion therapy consist of teaching those who are gay to hate themselves for being who they are. Unbelievable! Other versions of this therapy include electroshock, physical or emotional abuse, and dehumanization. This so-called therapy can last for six months.

The second step of this therapy, after destroying the uniqueness of that human being, is to try to reconstruct him or her into a fundamentalist robot. Where is the agape in this process? Who advocates this sort of homophobia besides fundamentalists?

Thanks to Vice President Mike Pence, conversion therapy was part of the 2016 Republican Party’s platform. Pence was and still is one of the most anti-LGBTQ elected officials in the country.

When someone is so adamantly opposed to the gay, lesbian, and transgender community, I always wonder if there is a gay person underneath that anti-LGBTQ façade. So, I have to ask: behind his so-called religiosity, could Pence be gay?

Another article in the magazine with the Marlon James story was about wealthy Roman Catholic right wingers who are trying to buy the Catholic leadership. Apparently, two of their objectives are to cure by conversion therapy all Roman Catholics who identify as gay or transgender and to pay big bucks to train bishops to be anti-LGBTQUI—in the name of their homophobic Jesus.

I feel sorry for their priests who are gay.

It pains me to see so many people who call themselves Followers of the Way be so judgmental. According to the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11–32, Followers of Jesus should practice unconditional love in every way, every day. with every human being, no matter where they are on their life’s journey.

As an ex-homophobe, I find life so much easier when I show agape to folks instead of judging them. Judgment kills. Love endures.

Conversion therapy is a perversion of the good news. What are your thoughts?

Image courtesy of Hollywata (CC BY-ND 2.0)

2 Responses to My Aversion to Conversion

  • I appreciate your thoughts,Butch!
    Takes guts and sincerity!

  • In my humble opinion, it is unbelievable that in this 21st century the LGBT community must stay underground in many parts of this world. It is not a “below the belt” issue, it is at the very least, a justice issue. Bishop Tutu of South Africa, your own Senator John McCain and so many other loving parents have honoured their children’s gifts, strength and character, not honing in on sexuality as the defining point for a human being. Shame on the Pence’s of this world who refuse to grasp what “followers of the way (of Jesus),” really means.

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