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Be Not Deceived

Be Not Deceived: The Sacred and Sexual Struggles of Gay and Ex-gay Christian Men

Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Be Not Deceived
    Book Description:

    InBe Not Deceived,Michelle Wolkomir explores the difficult dilemma that gay Christians face in their attempts to reconcile their religious and sexual identities. She introduces the ideologies and practices of two alternative and competing ministries that offer solutions for Christians who experience homosexual desire. Through careful analysis of the groups' ideologies, interactions, and symbolic resources,Be Not Deceivedgoes far beyond the obvious differences between the ministries to uncover their similarities, namely that both continue to define heterosexuality as the normative and dominant lifestyle.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-3926-3
    Subjects: Religion, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Prologue
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    When the door opened, I saw a man of medium height and build, with dark brown hair and eyes, who just seemed used to smiling. He held the screen door open and said, “Come on in.” After I made it through the door frame, he reached over and hugged me, telling me how glad he was that I had come. I responded awkwardly, unaccustomed to hugging people I did not know well—something that I soon discovered I would have to get over pretty quickly. I followed him down a short hallway into the living room, where about fifteen people...

  5. Part I The Cultural Origins and Biographical Paths of the Dilemma

    • 1 The Problem with Being Gay and Christian
      (pp. 3-17)

      In the spring of 1995, the Reverend Jimmy Creech was a guest speaker at a meeting of gay and lesbian students on a university campus. Creech, a former Methodist minister defrocked because of his gay-affirmative ministry and activism (cf. Hartman 1996, 1–24), talked about the ridicule and harassment he had suffered because of his work and about the damage caused by his church’s tenacious assertion of heterosexist doctrine. When he finished, he invited comments and questions from the audience. Among the many speakers was a young woman, a newcomer to the group, who told a story of the confusion...

    • 2 Alternate Theologies: Sins and Solutions
      (pp. 18-38)

      The above two mission statements clearly reveal the key difference between MCC and Exodus; MCC works to integrate homosexuality into Christian life while Exodus seeks to purge it. In accord with these contrary missions, the groups are also on opposing sides of the debate over whether homosexuality is innate (MCC) or chosen (Exodus) and split on the issue of whether people can change their sexual orientation. Certainly, each group’s purpose reflects and helps to form the cornerstone of belief within each organization, and these differences are critical aspects of the groups. It can therefore be tempting, as mass media presentations...

    • 3 The Dilemmas of Christian Men Who Desire Men
      (pp. 39-53)

      One summer evening, after an Accept Bible study meeting, Chris and I stood in an apartment parking lot talking about childhood memories of the summer. At one point, he paused and then said, “You know, every once in a while it is still a little weird and scary to say the words ‘I am gay.’ I’m okay with it now, even glad, but still.” When I asked him why those words had been, and still could be, so difficult, he explained:

      I did not want to be gay. It certainly wasn’t the plan. I didn’t know a single gay person...

    • 4 Choosing a Path to Resolution
      (pp. 54-76)

      In these excerpts, Sean and Matt described their reactions to discovering Accept or Expell as right and/or wrong feeling and indicated that their decisions about joining were predicated on these feelings. When initial contact with a group “felt right,” Sean and Matt took this feeling as evidence that they had found the “right place” in which to resolve their struggle. Like Sean and Matt, all of the men in this study based their decisions about which group to join on their emotional reactions, with good feelings serving as proof of an appropriate choice. None of the men were concerned with,...

  6. Part II The Resolution of Dilemmas and the Transformative Process

    • 5 Challenging Traditional Meanings
      (pp. 79-104)

      One night, about a month into my fieldwork with the gay Christians, I offered Terry, whose car was in the shop for repairs, a ride home from an Accept meeting. Like me, Terry was a newcomer and had only been attending meetings for a short time. During the drive to his home, we initially made small talk and joked about local happenings. Then Terry suddenly got serious and asked, “Michelle, do youlikegoing to these meetings?” I was startled by the question. I had not considered whether I enjoyed the time I spent with the group, so it was...

    • 6 Learning to Be a Gay or Ex-gay Christian
      (pp. 105-131)

      An Expell member once commented, after what was a particularly difficult meeting for him, that “the road to becoming straight certainly throws you a lot of curves.” During this meeting, he had confessed that he had, after several months hiatus, returned to visiting Internet sites containing homosexual pornography. In a small group discussion, he explained that, over the course of the last few months, he had been having difficulties at work and had also been remembering more details of a childhood molestation. He felt hurt and angry as he remembered these details and prayed to God to help him handle...

    • 7 Authenticity and the Good Christian
      (pp. 132-151)

      Presentations of this research have often evoked questions from audience members about the men’s motive and intent for doing the kind of transformative work described in the last few chapters. I have often been asked if these men are not just fooling themselves and making the Bible say what they want it to so they can feel less guilty about their homosexuality. Those who ask these sorts of questions seem troubled by the men’s revised theology because it does not match their version of Christianity. The answer to these skeptics’ question is yes and no. By choosing (or being pushed)...

    • 8 The Wives of Ex-gay Christian Men
      (pp. 152-179)

      In 1998, Lisa’s friend Dan invited her to a birthday party so that he could introduce her to his friend Steve. She liked Steve from the start, and they began dating in spite of rumors that he and Dan were involved. Lisa saw these rumors as people buying into stereotypes of men who had some feminine attributes, and she paid no attention to them. After all, Dan was married with a child, and Steve had children from a previous marriage. Her relationship with Steve blossomed quickly. He was everything she was looking for: a friend who was fun and loving,...

  7. 9 Conclusion: The Parameters of Change
    (pp. 180-200)

    I followed the now familiar hallway into the living room and hugged group members in greeting. It was my last Accept meeting. We stood in small groups, talking and joking with an easy camaraderie born of intimacy and practice. There was nothing different about this meeting, except that I was having trouble concentrating on what was happening. My attention kept drifting from what group members were saying to the contours of their faces. I knew their stories. I had them written down in neatly catalogued fieldnotes and interview transcripts. But on that last day it felt more important to remember...

  8. Appendix
    (pp. 201-208)
  9. Notes
    (pp. 209-210)
  10. References
    (pp. 211-218)
  11. Index
    (pp. 219-226)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 227-228)