Friday, August 29, 2014

To the Gay Christian Whose Friend Wants to Give Him an Exorcism...

I discovered another frightening discussion thread over on the GCN threads. Here is the gist: A gay Christian from a nearby community here in Iowa has a couple friends who attend a nondenominational church. Those two men are convinced that this GCNer (let's call him "Joe") is possessed by "demons and/or spirits of homosexuality." These friends want to try to exorcise these demons away from Joe.

Joe was seeking input from other GCNers. He was "fairly confident" that he is not possessed and he really doesn't look forward to sitting through an exorcism. However, he has some minor doubts and figures it couldn't hurt to undergo an exorcism "just in case." Secondly, he believes that he will serve as a witness and a testimony to his friends that they are wrong about him being possessed by an evil spirit if/when they fail at exorcising a demon. He thinks that these men will come to the realization that "maybe you can be gay AND Christian, and maybe God does bless committed, monogamous same-sex marriages." Joe then sought opinions from the rest of GCN.

Most people thought that Joe was crazy for considering this. A few had participated in similar exorcisms before. Most of those folks were traumatized by the effort and none of them experienced any change. At least two people noted that Joe himself will be blamed if the exorcism fails. It will be seen as evidence of his lack of faith and of the power of that particular demon.

But then this one GCNer (let's call him "Blaine") stepped up and encouraged Joe to let them perform the exorcism. Blaine believes that this failure will surely shake the faith of these two Christian friends. He believes that Joe should be fine if he undergoes this exorcism because obviously there is no spirit of homosexuality inhabiting him.

And Joe agreed with Blaine. He is certain that these two friends mean well. They just want to help him.

Anyway, this is where I lost my patience!

I have my own experience with a well-meaning Christian who once wanted to help someone out with the assistance of an exorcism. Several years ago, I worked with a young nonverbal teen who's diagnosed with a severe intellectual disability and who frequently displayed aggressive behaviors. He was in foster care and his foster mother once sought money from my department to help her travel with him to a guy who is experienced with performing exorcisms on disabled kids with behavioral problems. My department turned down her funding request and I threatened to report her to the DHS if she ever followed through with her exorcism plans on her own. But can you imagine?

I pointed out to Joe that I don't believe that his friends actually mean well. There is enough evidence out there in the world and within the church for anyone with an open mind and an open heart to realize that this type of thing doesn't actually help LGBT people. In fact, it usually kills their faith. All because of well-meaning Christians.

Who goes up to someone and recommends that they get an exorcism? And why would you allow them to perform an exorcism just because they asked? Did Joe need an exorcism two weeks ago? If so, why? If not, why now? Because his "friend" believes that he is infected with demons? Based on what? What are the signs of demon possession? Not only that, but what makes Joe believe that these guys actually have the spiritual gifts needed to successfully perform an exorcism? Have they done this before?

And then I went off on Blaine. I mean, if Blaine believes that Joe should offer himself up for an exorcism just because his friend demands it of him and Blaine believes that this would be a wonderful teaching tool for would-be homo-spiritbusters, why doesn't Blaine himself offer himself up for an exorcism at his nearest anti-gay nondenominational church? It's easy to tell someone else to allow a bunch of religious nuts to gang up on him for hours at a time and yell and scream and do everything in their power to rip supposed spirits from his soul. But it's not so easy to follow your own advise.

My final message to Joe: You don't own these people an exorcism. Don't do it. And then find some new friends.

1 comment:

Donny Jacobs said...

Good advice, Jon. Unfortunately, it is always possible to find Gay people who urge you to accommodate bigotry and ignorance in one way or another. Case in point: Have you read this Washington Post op-ed?