Physical and emotional harm are two known forms of abuse. However, spiritual abuse is often overlooked. Spiritual and emotional mistreatment carries scars and wounds long after physical harm heals. The unseen abuse can go on for a lifetime. Although some find a level of closure, for many the door remains cracked open, just enough to allow a few demons to loiter.
Recovering from spiritual violence is a lifelong sojourn. Sojourners struggle by acting out in dysfunctional relationships, with unhealthy eating habits, and in the workplace, unable to manage ill-tempered supervisors. Anxiety and depression are constant companions.
In June, Exodus International—long-condemned by the scientific and medical community for attempting to “cure” or “heal” LGBTQ children of God—announced the closing of part of its little shop of horrors. For decades it used devilish prayer and Frankenstein science to cure LGBTQ men and women born as the Creator intended.
“Please know that I am deeply sorry,” wrote Alan Chambers of Exodus recently in a statement in their website. “I am sorry for … the pain and hurt many of you have experienced…some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change …I am sorry … there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly ‘on my side’ who called you names like sodomite … I…failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know… I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine.”
Other groups misusing religion will fill the vacuum of quack faith and medieval science left by Exodus. It is not just about saving souls. It is an industry making a fortunate selling spiritual snake oil to those who suffer. Sadly, there are no laws to prohibit spiritual charlatanism.
“Sadly, nothing will bring back the lives lost to suicide based on pseudo-psychology and corrupt theology. Any apology for past suicides, lost years and damage to families is only as good as real actions to counter the lies spread throughout the world by past Exodus action.”
“This week’s historic apology from Exodus leader, Alan Chambers, for the harm done to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people by Exodus is encouraging,” said Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, a moderator with the Metropolitan Community Church, in a press release.
Rev. Dr. Wilson, who serves as a member of President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, added, “Sadly, nothing will bring back the lives lost to suicide based on pseudo-psychology and corrupt theology. Any apology for past suicides, lost years and damage to families is only as good as real actions to counter the lies spread throughout the world by past Exodus action.”
She noted, “The theology of condemnation must be replaced with a theology of grace in the service of God’s good creation-including LGBT people. The trail of emotional, psychological and spiritual damage must be mitigated by evangelistic outreach around the world where the lives of LGBT people hang in the balance at the hands of religious and political leaders who would shed their blood, rape their bodies, and crucify their spirits for their own careers.”
Rev. Dr. Wilson is right. In addition, she infers that despite the apology, Exodus still does not get it.
According to its website, after the apology was posted, Exodus remains the “leading global outreach to churches, individuals and families offering a biblical message about same-sex attraction.”
Exodus also posted that, “any sexual expression outside of a monogamous marriage between one man and one woman falls outside of God’s creative intent for human sexual expression and is sinful.”
In the end, Exodus offered a backhanded apology while continuing a level of spiritual abuse. There is so much more work ahead.
* Paul P. Jesep, an author, attorney, and a seminary trained, ordained priest in greater Albany, NY, does spiritual health and wellness counseling for LGBTQ persons of faith. Reach him through www.CorporateChaplaincy.biz.