Ex-Ex-Gay Minister Has Never Met an Ex-Gay

Three years after resigning as the executive director of Exodus International’s Love in Action ministry, John Smid admitted that he’s gay. In a recent blog post, Smid reflected on his updated views on homosexuality. Taken at face value, his new beliefs — that homosexuality is about more than just behavior and that sexual orientation is intrinsic — are by no means subversive. But considering the 22 years Smid spent preaching that GAY = EVIL, the acknowledgement of these basic facts could pave the way for change in evangelical and conservative Christian communities.

Smid frames his post as a response to a reader’s question about whether or not Christians should expect their homosexual friends (because as everyone who’s ever listened to a famous bigot apologize for some homophobic remark and remind everyone that They Have Gay Friends! knows, we homosexuals are gluttons for punishment and just loooove having friends who don’t believe in our basic human dignity) to repent. Unlike many Christian leaders who think a lukewarm acceptance of homosexuality will do the trick, Smid says no, they shouldn’t repent.

So often people will say someone needs to “repent” from homosexuality. It is something that actually cannot be repented of! People are, or they are not, homosexual. It is an intrinsic part of their being or personally, my being. One cannot repent of something that is unchangeable.

He understands that being gay isn’t just about having (fantastic) gay sex, it’s an identity that can be embraced or ignored but can’t be changed.

I used to define homosexuality or heterosexuality in terms describing one’s behavior. I thought it made sense and through the years often wrote articles and talked from that perspective. Today, I understand why the gay community had such an issue with my writings. My perspective denied so many facets of the homosexual experience.  I minimized a person’s life to just their sexuality but homosexuality is much more than sex.

His most candid (and damning of ex-gay ministries) confession, which undermines the years he spent in Love in Action, is that ex-gay programs are a sham: “I’ve never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual.

As Ex-Gay Watch points out, Smid still has a ways to go. His somewhat clinical use of the word “homosexual” suggests that he’s still not completely at ease with his sexuality. Critics have accused him of not working hard enough to undo the harm he caused in his ministry.

The good news is that Smid admits that he doesn’t know all the answers.

Now that I am not submerged into one sided perspectives, I am open to studying and reading the scriptures for myself, I am finding so many rich truths that I wasn’t ever made aware of before. For the first time in all of these years, the scriptures that many have said refer to homosexuality are making sense! I am reading them in context. I am asking questions about who the passages were written to. I am asking what was being talked about, and why the words were written in the first place.

Those of us who aren’t Christians may struggle to see value in his approach. Why read a 2000-year-old book when you’ve got Judith Butler and Foucault? The truth is, though, that we need biblical scholars almost as much as we need queer theorists. Like it or not, politics and day to day like in the U.S. is profoundly influenced by Christianity. The more guys and girls who are reading the Bible in context and asking the right questions on our side, the less acceptable it becomes to call yourself a Christian while holding onto hateful beliefs.

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18 Comments

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    “The truth is, though, that we need biblical scholars almost as much as we need queer theorists. Like it or not, politics and day to day like in the U.S. is profoundly influenced by Christianity. The more guys and girls who are reading the Bible in context and asking the right questions on our side, the less acceptable it becomes to call yourself a Christian while holding onto hateful beliefs.”

    I agree with this wholeheartedly. I’m one of those people who is not at all religious and not even very spiritual, but I know I’m not everyone. Religion is always going to be around, because people are always going to be interested in those questions of what happens when we die, what set everything in motion, etc. and most people are not going to be satisfied with “no one knows.” So I have little patience who think the solution is to just ignore religion rather than make it better.

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    I don’t have much of a problem with what he is saying. It’s a huge change of heart and it’s the kind of change of heart that gets us to the frame of reference where the Church can welcome us with open arms and the actual love that they felt they had to withhold.

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    To me it’s not a question of whether or not I agree with him. It’s whether or not he is sorry for his past harm. I know that this was only an excerpt, but he didn’t sound apologetic. He cannot take the words he said a wrote back, because once they are out in the world, they are no longer his own. People take his writings to be more truthful because he claimed to have been cured. He claimed to be an expert. Now he is trying to take them back? He has a lot of work to do.

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      In another posting he specifically says, “I am sorry.” http://www.gracerivers.com/im-sorry-campaign/

      Coming from this kind of background myself (actually, my background was more conservative–I’m a Bob Jones University grad) it is an immense and breathtaking act of honesty to see what he is doing. In the context of those religious communities, homosexuality is worse than a disease–it is a cancer of the soul that has to be forcibly extricated in order for the person to have a shot at avoiding eternity and damnation in hell.

      It might sound crazy, but grow up gay with this being preached at you every day–it twists everything you understand about yourself and other people (and God, if you believe in God). That he is finally able to being this conversation–of apologizing and rectifying his mistakes, towards himself and towards others, that is HUGE.

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        I agree that this is a huge step and he has done a very brave thing. I don’t fault him for his past. He has lived a life that I cannot begin to understand.

        I looked at your link and I really like his idea, but he never admits to his own wrong doing. He speaks about Christians as a whole and doesn’t seem to acknowledge his own part in that. He got a hug from a man in tighty whiteys but did he tell that man that he is sorry for what he specifically did?

        I’m not saying that what he is doing isn’t good enough, therefore its useless. I think what he is doing is great. I’m just saying that he needs to admit and apologize for what he specifically has done and said. As long as he ignores it someone else will come along and think that what he has done is something he still believes and promotes. He can’t take it back but he can begin to amend.

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    “He understands that being gay isn’t just about having (fantastic) gay sex, it’s an identity that can be embraced or ignored but can’t be changed.” HERE HE IS CONFESSING THAT HE ALREADY KNEW THIS DURING HIS 22 YEARS OF LYING! OR WAS HE HAVING “FANTASTIC” GAY SEX. EITHER WAY A HYPOCRITE AND A JOKE. WHERE IS JESUS CHRIST IN ALL OF THIS??? ALL I SEE IS SATAN!!!

    “I used to define homosexuality or heterosexuality in terms describing one’s behavior. I thought it made sense and through the years often wrote articles and talked from that perspective. SEE ABOVE!!! Those who have the misfortune to find any of his “articles” can be harmed, damaged, or God forbid, want to commit suicide. THINK LONG AND HARD BEFORE YOU GIVE HIM YOUR “FREE PASS”!

    ”I’ve never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual.” SO THEN YOU NEVER BELIEVED WHAT WAS “COMING” OUT OF YOUR MOUTH.

    Three years after resigning as the executive director of Exodus International’s Love in Action ministry, John Smid admitted that he’s gay. SO EVEN AFTER HE HAD THESE INSIGHTS FROM ABOVE IT STILL TOOK 3 YEARS TO ADMIT???

    I BELIEVE THAT YOU MUST “COME OUT OF THE CLOSET” NO MATTER THE RATIONALE. I don’t have the CHOICE to not be BLACK even though I could be killed, not get the job, etc. simply for being so by any “low life” , but I can’t choose the “luxury” of a closet. Nor should gays. All this to say that this POOR EXCUSE FOR A HUMAN BEING/MAN should GET BACK IN THE CLOSET AND THROW AWAY THE KEY!!!

    ANY EARNINGS HE HAS MADE DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY SHOULD BE GIVEN TO NON-PROFITS SERVING THE NEEDS OF GAY YOUTH.

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        Most insightful of you! Now please move on since, obviously, you have NOTHING OF VALUE to offer in this serious discussion. Children have been sexually abused, suffer various mental disorders, and some have even killed themselves. What’s most disturbing is why you aren’t “very angry?”

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          I believe the point in acknowledging your anger was surprise at your own unrecognized hypocrisy. Growing up in a devout Baptist home, I was taught that God taught us to love one another. After all, didn’t His own son spend time with prostitutes and criminals? He loved them to the point that Judas was able to betray him.

          I was also taught that we are meant to leave the judgment to our Lord. Whether or not someone makes it into Heaven is between them & God, just as you will be held accountable for your actions on that day.

          I’ve many homosexual friends who show a true & honest love (not in a sexual way) toward their fellow men. They give freely of themselves; anything they have to offer someone in need is given without question. I can honestly say that’s more in line with what Christ taught than the anger I hear spewing from the mouths of anyone who protests homosexuality.

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    ”I’ve never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual.”

    Cool thing to not acknowledge for over 22 years…. until you finally decide to be like “Oh hey, by the way, I’m gay. I mean, homosexual, because I don’t say gay.”

    Still will chalk it up as a win though!

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    You know now that he’s finally come out, you have to wonder how many thousands of people have taken this little secret to the grave with them. :(

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    Hey, I really understand your fury. I’m a man with two X chromosomes who grew up in the Bible Belt. It blows.

    You have to have a little bit of pity for him, too, though. To the church, any LGBT+ feeling or whatever is straight from Satan. That’s instilled in you from birth. Figuring out that you don’t fit the cis/straight box is terrifying and heartbreaking (in many cases) really, because they tell you that this stuff is against the will of God, the perfect plan of God. You feel like you’ve wrecked something pure, and with something that you’ve learned is a sick perversion.

    When I figured out I was into girls, Exodus was the first place I went – I was mortified. I threw myself into it as much as I could without my parents knowing. It made me feel like I wasn’t “giving in” and quite frankly, it did still the fears that stemmed from my conservative religious upbringing.

    The story does have a happy ending, though. I calmed down enough to think rationally. I now accept myself fully and do everything I can to fix this screwed up world and make it better for kids like me. But it took time for me to come around after only months of Exodus lies. For him, with years of experience, it’s going to take a long time. Coming from where he is, even more. Give him time. He hurt a lot of people, yeah. Me included. But he’s a victim of the same system we are.

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