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06/10/2008

SBC: Gender issues office engenders unease within us

by Jeremy Hooper

Within the Southern Baptist Convention, there is a centralized gender issues office whose sole purpose is to “inform, educate and encourage our people to be proactive and redemptive in reaching out to those who struggle with unwanted same sex attractions.” So one would assume that since this group is taking on super weighty issues involving human gender and sexuality and taking it upon themselves to encourage a seismic shift in people's lives, then the coalition formulating the ideas would be a diverse coalition representing folks from all genders, sexualities, backgrounds, walks of life, religious outlooks, and scientific knowledge bases, yes? After all, biological realities are biological realities. Regardless of faith, such issues should be addressed from an informed standpoint in which the actuality of the world is reasonably considered, with learned minds with a broad focus guiding the conversation. The stakes are just too important to be guided by personal bias. Right?

Well, not within the SBC, where fact takes a back seat to faith. For when that body leads on issues like gender, they prefer to rely on a group of like-minded males (and one female) whose conclusion is predetermined. Their only goal? To somehow come up a data set that backs up their religious-driven idea that "gays can change."

Here, check out this "diverse" coalition of reasoned minds:

 Clientimages 40905 Sbc Task Force 2-1
(Clockwise from lower right: Dr. Ted Warren-Lifeway, John Revell-Executive Committee, Tim Wilkins-Director of Cross Ministries in South Carolina, Tal Thompson-Director of Missions in Tennessee, Alan Chambers-President of Exodus International, Christine Sneeringer-Worthy Creations in Florida, Dr. Jimmy Draper, Dr. Barret Duke and Richard Holloman.)
 Clientimages 40905 Sbc Task Force 1-1
(Clockwise from lower right: Dr. Jimmy Draper-Lifeway, Dr. Barret Duke-Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Richard Holloman-Director of Sight Ministries housed at Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, John Revell-Executive Committee, Tim Wilkins-Director of Cross Ministries in South Carolina, Tal Thompson-Director of Missions in Tennessee, Alan Chambers-President of Exodus International and Bob Stith-Pastor of Carroll Baptist Church in Southlake, TX. Bob has since accepted the position of SBC National Strategist for Gender Issues.)

Yes, this is the group who is going to guide confused young gays and lesbians on how to live their truths. White, Southern, Baptist men (and one female) who only connection with actual gay life is what the "ex-gays" on their panel (Alan Chambers and Tim WIlkins among them) tell them. There isn't one out and proud, well-adjusted gay person. There isn't an actual gender issues expert. There are no scientific professionals. Because what the hell could these kinds of people possibly bring to the subject?

::eye roll, head shake, forehead slap::

The short-sightedness would be comically frustrating, if not for the fact that there are scores of scared teens whose parents will be guided by the above coalition into a state of unsupportive, non-understanding bias rather than acceptance. Those of us who have actually lives in those frightened adolescent shoes can't help but see the unnecessary strife that is being generated in the above photos.

One News Now is today running a story on this coalition and its wanton desire to equip even more pastors and laypeople on how to deal with these issues:

'Gender' issues on So. Baptist agenda [ONN]

Which is exactly why we are running our own piece on the ever-important need to look irrational bias in the eye and call it out for what it truly is!

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Your thoughts

I don't want to be anywhere near the men's room adjacent to this group of self-denying closet cases. If you can't "fix" yourself, try screwing up everyone else.

Posted by: andrew williams | Jun 10, 2008 11:17:52 AM

Sigh,

This org. is housed where I was born and raised, and continue to live to this day. Oh Nashville, why don't you kick them and their scary Jesus tower to Mississippi.

Nashville really isn't this homophobic, I find it to be very diverse and gay friendly.

-zak

Posted by: zak | Jun 10, 2008 11:49:09 AM

I've never struggled with unwanted sexual attraction to members of the same sex. Hell, I actively pursued.

Posted by: Tony P | Jun 10, 2008 11:55:06 AM

What they don't know is that Bob Stith is wearing a nice pair of hot-pink fishnet & lace cheeky panties, because they don't ride up in the crotch as much as his usual hiphuggers do.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Jun 10, 2008 12:49:04 PM

lol struggled? They really don't leave much room for any other take on the sexuality thing.

Posted by: Chris | Jun 10, 2008 3:10:46 PM

Your ideas on "Diverse Coalitions" is really interesting and important.. so tell me.. how many post gay men and women does the gay community include in the decision making processes of yout outreach programs..? none??? well I guess that makes your article a bit of the pot calling the kettle black now doesn't it?

Posted by: Nan Brown | Jun 12, 2008 12:23:00 PM

Nan: That's because "post-gay" or "ex-gay" is not an actual orientation. It is a scientifically unsound construct designed to stigmatize gay lives and loves. No amount of well-finance far-right spin is going to change that.

But that being said, we in the gay community HAVE considered the "ex-gay" movement. Many of us have studied it within an inch of its life, learning the facts behind it. That is how we know we do not support it -- because we understand what it is and why it exists! That is the difference between the gay and anti-gay side: We have actually considered, acknowledged, dealt with, and refuted all of the "evidence" used against us, while the anti-gays merely ignore what is not convenient.

Thanks for writing. If you'd like to read our 3.5 years of acknowledging the "ex-gay" movement, you can go here:

http://www.goodasyou.org/good_as_you/exgays/

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jun 12, 2008 12:27:41 PM

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