(Focus on the Family (FoF), is the mega-evangelical-organization founded by Dr. James Dobson, which claims to “nurture and defend” the family while promoting his interpretation of biblical truth. Love Won Out (LWO) is the ministry at FoF that claims to help gays and lesbians “who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions.” On Saturday, Oct 25, I attended the LWO conference held on the FoF campus in Colorado Springs (COS) because I wanted to better understand their positions, knowing that people of good faith can profoundly disagree.)
I wasn't certain I was going to be admitted, as they could have reason to know that I am not a fan of Dr. Dobson. However, the introductory speaker noted that “if you're a gay activist and angry with Focus, we welcome you!"
Dr Dobson was not present, but gave a pre-recorded welcome. The week before, I read Joe Dallas's book: "The Gay Gospel - How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread the Bible.” He is ex-gay and now married 21 years. Dallas spoke and emphasized that being gay is not a choice and for most it was felt from early childhood. However, he insisted that no one is “born gay.” He and LWO assert that even if being gay was found to have a genetic component, that wouldn't change the clear biblical prohibition (in their reading). Their going-in premise is that one cannot be both gay and Christian. He acknowledged that while one can change his behavior, it is very difficult to change one's sexual orientation, which could take years - and he continues to struggle with same-sex attraction to one degree or another.
I was surprised that there was never an opportunity to ask questions. During lunch I joined a large informal assemblage of parents who have a gay child. (LWO insists that parents should love their gay child unconditionally - while still "upholding Biblical truth.") I was drawn into a group of three pairs of parents. I could grieve with the dad next to me that all the dreams he had for his son now appear shattered. When they wanted to know if I too had a gay child, I think they were stunned, but remained very welcoming, when I said: “No, I’m a single gay Christian.”
Someone commented: "Don't you find it hard living here?" I chuckled: “No, I love living here because of the mountain access and as it’s easy to demonstrate at FOF." I told the dad that, irrespective of whether or not his son stayed gay, I could join him in praying that his son not lose his faith. I emphasized to the group that it really mattered that we listen to each other's sacred stories, also discovering how much we hold in common.
Surprisingly, Joe Dallas kept admonishing the conservative Christian church that it needed to repent of the anti-gay stance it has commonly taken and provide a welcoming home to gay people, though not accepting their "behavior.” I wish Dr. Dobson had been present, for his often untruthful and misleading statements have certainly contributed to a fear and loathing of gays, although he also claims to love them. It is my fervent prayer that someday the Lord would enlarge his heart that he could Focus on all God’s Families.
Bill Oliver is the leader of the COS chapter of Integrity, a national organization of GLBT Episcopalians and their supporters.
An excellent resource here: http://www.soulforce.org/article/false-focus-family