Monday, November 05, 2007


Peterson brought up a good point in response to the video in my previous post: as unfair as Chaser's War's caricature may be to the many ex-gays who have nothing to do with the Colin Cooks or Richard Cohens of the world, it does accurately represent how many people (including more than a few within the United States) view the ex-gay movement.

When presented with such a disparity between their intentions and others' perceptions, evangelicals are quick to rattle off dismissive-sounding biblical quotes about God's wisdom appearing as foolishness or about the world hating those who follow Jesus or the like, without taking any time to reflect on why they're so misunderstood or whether there is in fact a problem on their end.

It is true that Exodus (and other evangelical endeavors) will always have detractors no matter how effectively they communicate their message, but the same can be said about virtually any movement throughout history. The existence of opposition doesn't automatically signify persecution any more than it should be considered validation on the basis of a handful of biblical proof texts.

Even though parodies like the aforementioned video are virtually inevitable, that should not diminish the fact that they provide feedback of a sort as to how outsiders view an organization. As I've pointed out before, it's Exodus' responsibility to communicate its message in a way that the rest of the world can understand. As tempting as it may be to blame others when they don't understand what we're saying, it's ultimately little more than a copout.

Evangelicals in particular seem prone to placing their own definitions on words, and then acting surprised when outsiders misconstrue their messages. At this point, however, it's extremely unlikely that any spokesperson for Exodus or Focus on the Family could still be ignorant of the fact that there's a large gap between the way they define buzzwords like "change" and "former homosexual" and the way the average member of the general public understands them. To willfully and repeatedly ignore such communication problems once they are known to exist is to engage in base dishonesty.

There was a time not long ago when Western civilization was practically synonymous with Christianity, but those days are largely over. It's time that we set aside our self-centered pride and stopped acting like the universe revolves around us and started acknowledging that we must compete in the marketplace of ideas on the same terms as every other group.

1 comment:

Communion of Glitches said...

Dialogue is so important when you're talking to anyone with opposing beliefs, whether they're religious, political, or related to what to have for dinner. Unfortunately there's a huge tendency among people to have these great, nuanced discussions with people who share their beliefs and then to dismiss those who don't as closed-minded or nonbelievers or unintellectual. If we had the nuanced discussions with our detractors and took the time to really explain our beliefs and listen to theirs, we might at least come to a better understanding of people's differences.