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So what did the gay exorcism even do?

September 26, 2009
Thats what a gay demon looks like, right?

That's what a gay demon looks like, right?

A while back there was a YouTube video of a gay exorcism (or rather, the casting out of unclean spirits, as the Prophet Patricia McKinney and the “patient” Jeffrey both insist)…if you missed it, you can see it at Friendly Atheist (or directly at Youtube) along with a 40 minute interview with the “Prophet,” the…exorcee?…, and a few other people. The interview itself was quite well presented. The prophet (it’s so strange using this term outside of a Mormon or Old Testament context) and the exorcee were predictably grating…but the other speakers were breaths of fresh air, and so I was impressed enough to watch the entire ~40 minute video.

Watching the video got me thinking about a lot of things regarding to attempts to “fix” gays.

I think the video had some incriminating parts for the ex-gay movement (and to be honest, these parts sometimes “slip” out during many so-called “ex-gay” testimonies…) For example, both Prophet and “patient” believed that the unclean spirit of homosexuality was indeed banished (so, according to them, the treatment was a smashing success). However, all parties involved realized that homosexual desires were not eliminated, saying that that was a “process.”

So…wait? the homosexual demon is cast out…but it still has control over the mind?

As one other guest to the show noted, it seems that these people are reducing homosexuality to a series of actions — which, I guess, for this young man, included cross dressing, promiscuity, sex with men, etc., So, they think that if one simply acts straight and restrains oneself, then one isn’t gay.

But this just doesn’t cut it. As Tyra called the man out, when he was asked if he liked girls, he sure was awfully hesitant. Really?

Doesn’t really like girls + still likes guys + simply doesn’t engage in feelings = …ex-gay?

The next thing that struck me was the preacher/Prophet. While near the beginning of the video, she’s all about every tongue confessing and every knee bending…she seems to have missed what Jesus was about. At one point, she said that she had gay friends. Tyra was surprised, so she pressed further…eventually, the Prophet revealed that she does not hang out with her friends. She does not hang out with gays; she does not hang out with drunkards, fornicators, and adulterers. She believes that as a Christian, that’s how things should be. (Because before she gave her life to the Lord, it was OK to hang out.)

But come on? What Would Jesus Do? Who would Jesus hang out with? Who did he hang out with?

I think Prophet McKinney’s theological comments were interesting, because they came to a sort of “split in the road” with the theological framework that has evolved from the LDS church. Both the Mormon church (although it’s taken a while for Mormons) and the Manifested Glories Ministries (or, at least McKinney) do not advocate marriage for homosexuals still struggling with their attractions as an attempt to “wean” gay feelings. Both recognize this as unfair to the women involved and simply ineffective (what a surprise!). But after that, I think the answers diverged. Elder Hafen in his recent (in)famous speech to gay Mormons at Evergreen (more posts about it here, here, and here) gave his understanding (whether it is doctrinal or not, who knows?) that gays would be healed in the afterlife.

Contrast this to Prophet McKinney’s answer. Gays must be “delivered” by the Holy Spirit in this life. If they leave this life without completing the “process” (and getting rid of the gay thoughts and temptations), then they still are set for Hell.

Perhaps I’m making a logical leap, but I think the differing opinions reflect different levels of confidence. McKinney has her more restrictive position because she, for whatever reason, is confident that de-homofication can be accomplished in this life.

On the other hand, the LDS church has moved away from such a position. Truly, the church’s position once was the  full expectation that homosexuality could be “cured” for all members “afflicted” with it (or at least…all faithful members). With “God Loveth His Children,” the message toned down a bit to: “While many Latter-day Saints…overcome same-gender attraction in mortality, others may not be free of this challenge in this life.” Still, even this message had loaded descriptors — many sounds like more than others. And of course, the church still has the problem in defining what it means to overcome “same-gender attraction.”

And now, look at where we are. Now gays can hope that if they are diligent and faithful they too can become straightified in the next life.

Do you see a trend of “retreating”? I mean, heaven is a safe place to retreat to, certainly, because it is unverifiable. Someone can always wish that heaven is like that (even if in the process, they are miserable now and hoping for the annihilation of who they are so their better resurrected form might take wings.)


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  1. Perez Christina permalink

    Are you gay?

  2. This topic came up when discussing Elder Hafen’s talk on Mormon Matters. Its something I had never really thought about before – that Mormon leaders had better be pretty darn sure of heaven and “gay fixing” in it to ask their homosexual members to abstain from same-sex marriage. Given their track record on getting things right about heaven (see: requirement of polygamy), I would be severely hesitant towards accepting that promising.

    Do I think that the LDS church is “retreating” on this issue? The answer to that would be a resounding no. They have gotten involved in Prop 8 and related constitutional amendments across the US, and will continue to do so. I think that the fight is just starting.

    The answer is not too different in terms of their doctrinal stance. I do think the message is being honed in response to an increased recognition that there are “gays among us”. I am not sure you would have heard general conference talks on same-sex attraction 25 years ago. This can be looked at in a faith-promoting or a cynical way. From the faith-promoting perspective, it is possible that they hadn’t really given intense thought to homosexuals in the past, and have now received further light and knowledge on their behalf. From a cynical perspective, perhaps they just feel they need to get the “gays on board” with the program they are proposing to the rest of the world – “Homosexuals can keep the law of chastity in this life happily, just look at the gays in our church!” I think the second is probably a little less true, just because there hasn’t really been the negative reaction to groups like Affirm that would accompany it. So, I prefer to think that reason 1 is actually closer to the truth. Or maybe I’m just an optimist.

  3. Madam Curie, who’s to say that polygamy isn’t a requirement for heaven? Remember, they actually just “retreated” on that position TOO. Polygamy on earth once WAS the norm, but then it became something that…may continue in heaven (especially since you can be sealed to multiple people, due to circumstances of death and remarriage, etc.,)

    I agree with your question: do we have time to wait for Heaven? Should we place our eggs in the heavenly basket? And my answer as well is, “No.” Because I don’t live for an afterlife. I think if I did, it would mean I no longer was living but just walking dead now (because all of my actions would not be centered on life…but on death.) Rather, I live for LIFE.

    I still think the church is retreating, but really, the issue is their retreat isn’t even across the field. Theologically and ideologically, more members now realize that sexuality is something that most likely will not change in this life. This is a retreat from past positions, where it was assumed that of course, it could be cured. (So, as toward hearing about same-sex attraction 25 years ago…uhh…homosexuality has been referenced since the 60s. The church had “electroshock conversion therapy” in the 70s. The church’s recognition of gays was still present back there — but REALLY, the change in the past several years is recognizing that “the gay” is not something that goes away after two flicks on the wrist.)

    However, as you point out, as far as *actions* are concerned, the church isn’t really retreating at all (other than to be a bit more “hopeless.” Now gays don’t have the “hope” of getting changed through electroshock therapy [because it doesn’t, and never did work]. Nor are they encouraged to get married anyway). The expectations of chastity are still what they were (but, they are double standardized with respect to straight members…no hugs, kisses, hand holding — just be an emotional void). There aren’t any accommodating options, there are still political fights, etc.,

  4. I think there is also a difference between a response to individuals versus a response to the gay community. Were gays as a community being responded to in the past, or was it more on an individual basis? Has it only been recently that the church has recognized them as a segment of society? Is it only recently that society has recognized (note that I did not say accepted) gays as a segment of society? You may know the answers to these questions better than I do.

    I can say that my sense is that the tenor of the church’s responses to the “gay problem” has increased. Perhaps that is because of increased awareness of prevalence? Or is it an awareness that society has become more accepting of them? Or have gays become more vocal.

    Sorry, Andrew, all questions and no answers today from me! LOL

  5. I’d say that it’s only been recently that *society* has recognized gays as a segment to society, so that’s why gays as a community weren’t responded too until recently.

    I mean, in general society, the gay rights movement only got “jumpstarted” really with the Stonewall riots…and that was in 1969. For Mormons, Affirmation came about in 1977 (and Evergreen after that). And all of these things took time to build momentum.

    I think that the way the church has responded is indicative of a few things. They are trying to defend their position in light of 1) more vocal gays (because in the past, there was no “organized gay community” that could muster the clout to speak out), 2) awareness that many people in society don’t see the big deal (this isn’t to say that society is pro-gay…obviously, America is still rather socially conservative. But the church does need to make a stand on its position here. Even if in 10, 20, 30+ years, that position changes)..and 3) awareness that old answers aren’t working. So, while I think Hafen makes a gaffe in saying that “Homosexuality is not in DNA,” OVERALL, I don’t think this is key to his message. Rather, whatever he believes, he is retreating from this idea that everyone, or 98% or even a percentage over, say…60% (these are all arbitrary) can just go and change sexuality.

    So, instead of the older answer of “fix it,” he retreats to the idea that one should simply LIVE celibately (though the thoughts probably won’t change or stop) and hope for the best in the afterlife. If this answer works for a particular member, good. If not, then they are at odds with the church and worst of all, they don’t have a way of “falsifying” Hafen. Because while you can point out to whatever science that says homosexuality is innate…there is and can be no science that says how the afterlife will work (or if the afterlife even exists), and if you buy the LDS framework, then there is no science that can justify that just because something is innate, it should be pursued (cue all kinds of irreverent analogies that many members compare gay people with).

    But still, there is that retreat, I believe.

  6. I gotcha. I agree that there has been a retreat, when phrased in that way.

    The question then becomes, Do you think the LDS church will further retreat in the future? Can you foresee a time when homosexual Mormons are permitted the same degree of affection with the same sex as heterosexual Mormons are with the opposite sex? (I can’t tell you how much I would welcome that!!) Or would you argue that the entire house of cards would come crumbling down?

  7. The thing is, Madam Curie, that “the future” includes a loooong time. So, I can safely say that yes, I believe it will happen. But that could be 100 years or 1000. If you made the question, “do you think the church will retreat in our *lifetime*,” I don’t know how to answer. I am not optimistic enough to think that the church will have a new revelation SOON, because I don’t even think that SOCIETY is accepting enough. So, as of now, the church can stick to its guns and alienate all gay rights supporters and still have an AMPLE body of people who are interested in the church (quite simply: most people would not be turned off by this issue.)

    I am cynical enough to believe that if a change came, it would probably be due to some big legal changes — for example, *if* the federal government threatened to eliminate tax exempt status (which is really, really, really unlikely) over discriminating against gays.

    I don’t know what is “essential” for the church and what is not. The one thing I have learned from the Bloggernacle is that the foundation of the LDS house of cards isn’t what you’d expect. Book of Abraham translation issues? No one cares. Book of Mormon historicity? Not essential or important. So, even though the Proclamation on the family and doctrines about eternal marriage SEEM central to everything about the church, I get the feeling they could last through such a huge change, if it came.

  8. Hey Andrew,

    I just stumbled onto your site from Little Miss Judgemental’s site and was just wondering what made you come out of the church’s teachings? I’m from Utah, was never LDS, but have met plenty of people like you that were raised Mormon and don’t hate on the church, they simply don’t believe it’s teachings. Maybe I am misreading you….as you state you are still somewhat of a cultural mormon..? I’m just curious if it was your homosexuality that made you doubt it, or if you had doubts before that? Very well written and thoughtful posts, by the way.

  9. I can’t point to any one issue (not even sexuality) that was decisive. Really, the issue was not that anything made me come out of the church’s teachings, but that there was nothing personally persuasive (IMO) to keep me in. Does that distinction make sense? I didn’t have any personal compelling reasons to believe, so I did (and do) not believe.

    It still is my culture and upbringing, so of course that gives me a lot to think and talk about; I simply do not believe.

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