CP: I'm guessing based on your work at CenterPeace that you've heard about Alan Chambers of Exodus International and him shutting down the organization and apologizing for whatever hurt might have been caused throught its practices. Do you have any thoughts on that, and perhaps even the debate concerning reparative, or conversion therapy?
Gary: I certainly appreciated what Alan said. I loved his heart and his desire to not be hurtful and to help people grow in their relationship with God. That certainly has been the purpose and goal of CenterPeace. CenterPeace has never been affiliated with Exodus and I did that purposefully from the start because I saw that as problematic when we first were thinking and talking about another type of ministry that would simply help people find safe places to have conversations. If the goal is trying to "fix" people, then that's not helpful. I'm glad that the folks at Exodus have seen that and have wanted to kind of fall back and regroup and let the focus be on bringing people into deeper relationship with the Lord in seeking what He wants for their lives. The truth is that it may look different for each of us.
I don't know anything about reparative therapy. I'm not a counselor (and) that's certainly not what I went through in the counseling that I did. I didn't even know that term until I had finished and done some reading elsewhere. I've not met anyone who has ever experienced a total lifelong reversal of feelings of same-sex attraction – not that that's not possible, because all things are possible with God. I believe that wholeheartedly. But my experience and the experience of so many people I know has been that He works in our lives differently and it's not necessarily the removal of the things that…whether you view it as a struggle, a temptation or just who you are, He doesn't typically work that way in our lives. So I'm thankful that the folks at Exodus have seen that.
CP: What do you make of the debates and noise today concerning marriage, especially considering the Supreme Court decisions on two major marriage-related cases (DOMA and Proposition 8)?
Gary: I think that we hurt ourselves when we focus on political remedies, focus on legal conversations that most of us are not equipped to really discuss from a legal standpoint. Wouldn't it be nice, again, if we could take Jesus' approach? He came to change hearts, not laws. He didn't go through the systems that people expected him to go through, and yet what he did was transformational beyond anything anyone's ever done. I think that's what we need to be about. If we would have less noise about decisions that are made in courts, and really focused on people's lives, the person who is in our family, the person who lives next door who's really wrestling with these issues and yet may not know God at all. Wouldn't it be better to start there? Which is more likely to open a conversation about what it means to be a follower of Christ – arguing and debating whether same-sex marriage is okay? Or just simply having a conversation about what's life been like for you and what's difficult now and where could we be more helpful? Being good neighbors, loving our neighbors as ourselves – what would happen if that became our focus, rather than all of the arguing? Some of the things that we say in response when we truly believe that we're trying to do a good thing, I don't doubt the sincerely of my brothers and sisters at all, but the way that we approach people is more off-putting. It alienates the very folks that we claim to want to reach. It does more to distance ourselves from them, and that's what I find most hurtful about all of that.
CP: That was my final question. Was there anything else you wanted to highlight or put out there for readers that we didn't touch on?
Gary: I hope this book will be a conversation starter, that it will open eyes both in the pews and outside to see that this is not something that we have to be afraid of. It's a conversation that's long overdue, especially in the church.