Though Bennett recognizes that being gay is “not a choice”, he states that he made a “choice to come out of the gay lifestyle” equating it with making a choice to come out of drug and alcohol addiction.
Stating that his homosexuality was a caused by a lack of a father figure, he also associates his former homosexuality with the negative influences of alcohol, bulimia, and drug addiction. Never-mind that all reputable scientific and medical organizations reject such a claim of “parental influence” over a child’s sexual orientation. The American Psychiatric Association, for example, states that such a view is based upon “misinformation and prejudice.”
He claims, with his wife sitting next to him, that it should be okay for a homosexual man to try to like women “like 97% of the men in this entire world.”
Bennett currently runs a ministry dedicated to providing “biblical and practical support and resources for men and women looking to overcome their unwanted same-sex attraction.”
One must only ask why individuals have unwanted “same-sex attraction;” could it be because society and religious organizations vilify and demean LGBT people, causing them to feel unloved and hated? One must also recognize that his “ministry” to those who are struggling with being gay is based upon the premise that being gay is abnormal and sinful, not a healthy biological variant of the human species (the latter a position which all scientific organizations take).
As his website, Stephen Bennett Ministries, states:
According to God’s infallible Word, everyone is created male or female. We are created in His image. Sexual relations are only to be between one man and one woman – a husband and wife – within the grounds and confines of biblical marriage, for life. Anything outside of this –- fornication, adultery, pornography or anything else –- is considered impure, immoral and sin according to God’s Word.
Biblical abstinence is to be adhered to until a man or woman enter the biblical covenant of marriage with a person of the opposite sex, as husband and wife. Biblical sexual purity is the ministry’s overriding and uncompromising message.
Though his “ministry” itself does not practice reparative therapy (a therapy that attempts to turn gay people straight), his website does give links to reparative therapy organizations like Exodus International and NARTH.
I am in no position to question his own life journey and the choices that he himself has made regarding his sexual orientation. But I can say from personal experience that the therapy and the position that he advocates has direct societal and psychological impacts on LGBT people all over the world.
Additionally, though “ex-gay’s” might feel “vilified” by the LGBT community, it is not based upon any hatred for these individuals, but instead because we recognize the harm that their ideology has on LGBT youth and adults, as well as the cover it gives to religious right organizations who attempt to use the “gays can change” mantra to deny us civil rights. It is for that reason why the “ex-gay” movement is so dangerous and must be called out for what it is — a movement not based upon science, but instead having roots in societal and religious stigma.
Filed under: Views & Voices