All right! I finally finished reading the book.
A few days ago a Facebook friend posted a link on the feed about a war on Christianity. That encouraged me to engage in some skeptical analysis, which ended up drilling down on the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and its leader Alan Sears. Alan Sears and Craig Olsen are authors of the book. I obtained a Kindle edition and promised to do a review. Here it is.
What the book is all about, if you have not already guessed by the title, is the homosexual agenda, said agenda being the principal threat to religious freedom. The book goes to ten chapters making its case, which I can summarize briefly: Proper Christians have nothing against homosexuals, themselves. Proper Christians just have a God-inspired objection to homosexual acts, e.g., sodomy and fellatio, supposedly involving people of the same sex, because acts between people of the opposite sex would be heterosexual and not homosexual. Come to think of it, proper Christians object to deviant sex even between people of the opposite sex. Homosexuality, we learn, is an acquired taste, and society needs to eliminate all situations that can promote acquiring this deviant attitude. Furthermore, homosexuals can unlearn their wrongful ways and revert to normal sexual lifestyles and live happily ever after. Finally, normal sex, even though it is defined as original sin in the Bible, is God’s plan for us and anything contrary goes against God and is a mournful sin.
Here is what the book is all about:
A Note from the Authors While this book deals with a difficult and contentious issue, we want to state up front that both authors and the ministry of the Alliance Defense Fund have nothing but respect, compassion, and sensitivity toward those ensnared in homosexual behavior. Both of us have family members, respected acquaintances, and friends who have been trapped in this behavior and know something of the incredible pain and sorrow it has brought to them and their families. With God’s grace we carefully balance this love and respect for these individuals with warnings about the carrying out, promotion, and demand for legal approval for homosexual behavior that will stifle religious freedom and trap millions of more people in its deadly grip. —Alan Sears and Craig Osten
Osten, Craig; Sears, Alan (2003-07-15). The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today (Kindle Locations 92-100). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way: Oops! The book skids off to a rocky start. The authors discuss two who have overthrown homosexuality through the love of Christ:
John moved to Northern California to join a church that specifically ministered to others trying to escape the trap of homosexual behavior. It was there he met his future wife, Anne, who was seeking healing from her past of lesbian behavior. The two fell in love and in 1992 they were married. As the years went by, the Lord blessed them with three sons and a relationship that would be a witness to the world of what the love of Jesus Christ can do to heal a broken heart.
Who is this person? His name is John Paulk. We both know and love him and can attest that he is one of the warmest, gentlest, and most courageous individuals we have ever met. He has faced every sling and arrow that could be thrown at him, along with numerous temptations—and some human weakness—but has remained strong in the faith. We personally know only a few ex-homosexuals, but we know there are thousands of John and Anne Paulks throughout America who have heard and responded to the redemptive love of Jesus Christ. How many more are out there who need to learn of his saving grace?
Osten, Craig; Sears, Alan (2003-07-15). The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today (Kindle Locations 131-139). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
The problem is that John and Anne Paulk have since turned out not to be exemplars of “pray away the gay” therapy:
John Paulk (born April 13, 1963) is a former advocate of the ex-gay movement and conversion therapy and author. He was the founder and former leader of the ministry Love Won Out, which was launched by the organization Focus on the Family. From 1998 to 2003, he was chairman of the board of Exodus International North America. His 1998 autobiographyNot Afraid to Change addressed his sexuality and attempts to change his same-sex desires. Later that year, after an incident in which Paulk was revealed to have attended a gay bar, both organizations disciplined him, but he remained with Focus on the Family until 2003. He resigned as Exodus board chairman but continued his elected position until his term was completed. In 2005, Paulk opened a catering business in Portland, Oregon.
In the April 2013 issue of PQ Monthly, he was quoted as stating that he no longer supports the ex-gay movement or efforts to attempt to change individuals’ sexual orientation, and that he was in the process of ending his marriage to his wife Anne.
Osten and Sears allude constantly to the practice of redeeming homosexuals through Christ. This practice has been characterized with the phrase “pray away the gay.” GLAAD stands for Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and is a group whose activities come up frequently in the book. Speaking about a related TV show episode:
GLAAD Media Strategist Justin Ward criticized “Pray the Gay Away?” for asking “a question that’s already been answered”. Noting that it has been almost 40 years since the American Psychological Association concluded that homosexuality is not a disorder, Ward called OWN “irresponsible” for broadcasting a program that he said had the potential to do harm to young people who may be enduring bullying and harassment for being gay. Ling, he added, should have included more information on the Christian denominations that accept LGBT people and that literal interpretation is only one of many ways to interpret the Bible.
Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out and a vocal critic of the ex-gay movement, faulted “Pray the Gay Away?” and Ling for an apparent lack of research into Exodus. He noted in particular the statement that “Exodus no longer promises to make you straight”, which he disputed, and the failure to note that Janet Boynes is listed as a resource on Exodus’s website. Besen called on OWN to refrain from re-broadcasting the episode.
[Extraneous links removed]
Throughout, the book continues to ignore basic facts related to the failure of Christian rehabilitation of homosexuals:
World’s Biggest ‘Pray Away the Gay’ Group Closes With an Apologyby Steve Williams June 20, 2013 7:00 pm
The apology, written by Exodus International president Alan Chambers, came in a statement issued Wednesday, June 20, under the title “I Am Sorry.”
The statement is a personal treatise on Chambers’ evolution that in the past year saw him publicly state that though he had once claimed he was cured of his homosexuality he, as a married man with kids, still has feelings for other men and recognizing that, in the vast majority of cases, a gay “cure” or, in the parlance of Exodus, “reorientation,” is not possible.
The loss of this premise fairly well guts the thrust of the book.
Unfortunately, if many homosexual activists have their way, Christ’s message of redemptive love will be silenced and those who share it through the preaching of the uncensored words of Scripture will be punished.
Osten, Craig; Sears, Alan (2003-07-15). The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today (Kindle Locations 139-141). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Melissa Fryrear is a former lesbian who, in Jesus Christ, found the love that she had been searching for all her life. Her testimony is touching and a reminder to all of us of God’s amazing and transforming grace.
Osten, Craig; Sears, Alan (2003-07-15). The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today (Kindle Locations 175-177). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Another example of a hurting individual who came to know the healing grace of Jesus Christ is Teresa Britton.
Osten, Craig; Sears, Alan (2003-07-15). The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today (Kindle Location 258). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
One day, a sweet girl named Laura came to Craig’s InterVarsity Christian Fellowship group on campus. Laura was hurting when she came to the fellowship; but the group welcomed her with open arms, and she quickly heard about the healing power in Jesus Christ. Laura accepted Christ, and one of the more mature Christian girls in the chapter started to mentor her.
Osten, Craig; Sears, Alan (2003-07-15). The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today (Kindle Locations 1821-1824). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Rather than just supposing that homosexuality is a learned inclination, serious scholars have delved into the science. This is an area the authors are not likely to tread. Here are some links:
- Homosexual orientation: The search for a biological basis
- Who’s Gay? Does It Matter?
- A difference in hypothalamic structure between heterosexual and homosexual men
- Attitude change in response to information that male homosexuality has a biological basis
More are available, but only to those who will look. Apparently this does not include Osten and Sears.
Here is one place were science and religious dogma come together. Science seems to indicate homosexuality is not strictly learned. Scripture would tell us that God controls all, indicating that if somebody is homosexual, then it’s because God wants it that way.
The authors take considerable opportunity to point out egregious transgressions of the LGBT movement, this among others:
Also in 1993, the Hamilton Square Baptist Church in San Francisco invited a well-known pro-family leader to speak at the church. Radical homosexual activists stormed the church doors, pounding on them and screaming, “We want your children! Give us your children!” The church experienced a great deal of vandalism, and again the San Francisco Police Department said it could do nothing to stop the rampaging homosexual activists. Dr. David Innes, the senior pastor, was told: “You have to understand, this is San Francisco.”86 †
Osten, Craig; Sears, Alan (2003-07-15). The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today (Kindle Locations 3656-3660). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
On the other side, the authors seek to distance themselves from the more radical of their own side:
We vehemently disagree and disassociate ourselves with the actions of individuals, such as Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kansas, who would picket the funerals of AIDS victims, post messages that “God Hates Fags” on the World Wide Web, condemn those who have compassion for those trapped in homosexual behavior,5 * and state that there is no redemption for the homosexual.
Osten, Craig; Sears, Alan (2003-07-15). The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today (Kindle Locations 276-279). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
They might also have wanted to put some distance between themselves and militant Christians in this country. About 14 years ago I met Terry Noble. He had a copy of his book.
He was preparing to participate in a panel discussion of the Waco bombing on the McCuisiton show on PBS. In his segment, Kerry told of his involvement in the CSA, The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord. He told of the time he entered a church in Missouri. It was a church that welcomed homosexuals, and Terry had a gift for them. For some time he sat in one of the pews with his satchel beside him, and he thought about what he was planning to do. Finally he decided against his original plan, and he left the church, taking the bomb with him.
Stating again: the authors state that they and their cause have no issue with homosexuals. It is homosexual acts they condemn. Not true. It is not only the sex acts that earn condemnation. It’s just about anything associated with homosexual life style. An excerpt from a letter sent to the ADF is illustrative:
Recently, we were invited to a “commitment ceremony.” When the invitation was declined I was questioned why? These friends all know our commitment to Christ and the lifestyle changes we have made. I stated that God’s word states that homosexuality is a sin and we cannot support this sinful ceremony. You can imagine the justification and denial of God’s word. We decided to end the conversation because no opinions were being changed.
Osten, Craig; Sears, Alan (2003-07-15). The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today (Kindle Locations 5076-5079). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Osten and Sears want to make the case for unwarranted persecution of those who oppose the LGBT movement, particularly those who oppose on religious grounds. They provide multiple examples:
- Ron Greer, an eighteen-year veteran of the Madison, Wisconsin, fire department handed out a tract to his fellow firefighters and friends that outlined the biblical position on homosexual behavior. Greer was suspended without pay and ordered to attend diversity training. When he refused, he was fired.83
- In April 1996, Scott Southworth was scheduled to speak at a Madison, Wisconsin, church about homosexual behavior and the Bible. About one hour before the speaking event, roughly four hundred to five hundred homosexual activists gathered across the street from the church. They chanted things (all caught on video) like “Queer mob rule,” “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, homophobia’s got to go,” “Go away,” and “Two-four-sixeight! We don’t want your Christian hate.” One demonstrator repeatedly yelled, “Bring back the lions!” Other protesters carried flags and signs that read “Bigots are Perverse,” “Gay Love is Divine,” “Haters—Repent or Perish,” “Hate is Not a Family Value,” and “God is Gay—He Loves Men.” Eventually the demonstrators found their way into the church and disrupted the entire presentation.84
- Orthodox Presbyterian minister Chuck McIlhenny dismissed his church organist when the organist divulged that he was a practicing homosexual. The organist sued the church, tying up McIlhenny in five years of legal battles in which he and the church ultimately prevailed. During that time, he and his family received death threats, had their residence firebombed, and were told by the San Francisco Police Department that there was nothing they could do to stop radical homosexual activists from threatening him and his family.*
Osten, Craig; Sears, Alan (2003-07-15). The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today (Kindle Locations 3638-3651). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
The authors push a volume of points supposedly in their favor, but there is one hurdle they have not hope of surpassing. Their basic premise is devoid of any factual merit.
We have both, one through personal experience, and the other through an immediate family member’s experience, known the pain, the shame, and the sorrow when God’s plan for the traditional family has been broken by divorce. Only by God’s grace, his forgiveness, restoration, and healing in our lives do our own families today experience the richness of living his model lifestyle.
Osten, Craig; Sears, Alan (2003-07-15). The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today (Kindle Locations 336-339). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Why is this battle so important? Because it goes to the very heart of God’s plan for marriage and the family. When anyone tinkers with that plan, the emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being of future generations is put at severe risk.
Osten, Craig; Sears, Alan (2003-07-15). The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today (Kindle Locations 2210-2211). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Still some people may be saying, “So what? Who cares what homosexuals do in their bedroom?” But as former Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote, good governments have always regulated sexual behavior. Once one state law protecting marriage and regulating sex is found to be unconstitutional, all others are fair game, such as laws against pedophilia, sex between close relatives, polygamy, bestiality, and all other distortions and violations of God’s plan. In addition, to the impact on human and marital relations, the state has a great interest in the public health costs and the moral impact on the culture.
Osten, Craig; Sears, Alan (2003-07-15). The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today (Kindle Locations 4741-4746). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
As so-called “anti-discrimination” laws are expanded to include more and more sexual minorities and an ever-expanding list of what constitutes discrimination, serious Christians will find themselves more and more isolated and discriminated against in a society that has turned its back on God’s plan for human sexual behavior.
Osten, Craig; Sears, Alan (2003-07-15). The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today (Kindle Locations 4771-4773). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
The common theme running through all of this is “God’s plan.” Really? God really has a plan for marriage and family?
At this point the first question I am tempted to ask is, “Where was God when marriage and family were first invented?” By the most generous accounts of the history of God, God first came on the scene about 6000 years ago. By that time the notion of marriage and family already existed throughout the world. And people had already been making babies, marriage or not, for millions of years. These were not just the precursors of people, but actual members of the human species.
Historical records indicate God first made his appearance as a factor in human existence about 2900 years ago when the Hebrew king Solomon picked the god of one of his many wives as the real and official god of the tribes of Judea. Did I mention Solomon had many wives? Did I also mention that the Jews of the time were notoriously polygamous? This was God’s plan?
Wait! Christianity began as an offshoot Jewish sect. The early Jews were polygamous, and so were the offshoot Christians until Roman law required them to end the practice. Subsequent Christian sects have been polygamous, most notably the LDS Church. What is most ironic is that recent presidential candidate Mitt Romney was backed by the same conservative faction opposing homosexual marriage under the heading “marriage is defined as one man and one woman.” Romney could not escape the fact this was not always so, as his own great grandfather practiced polygamy under the auspices of the LDS Church.
Wait again! I have glossed over one essential point. The “God” mentioned in the book is a myth created by people. The authors pin their entire argument on the concept of “God’s plan” without once attempting to establish the existence of the supposed God. The result is their argument is left dangling in the wind with no visible means of support.
While the book is chock full of facts, it is ultimately more rhetorical than it is factual, and it is polemical more than it is rhetorical. It is, however, an interesting read for those interested in exploring a particular mindset of a sizable chunk of the populace.