National Library of New Zealand
Harvested by the National Library of New Zealand on: Oct 10 2015 at 15:14:20 GMT
Search boxes and external links may not function. Having trouble viewing this page? Click here
Close Minimize Help
Wayback Machine
GayNZ Logo & Link
Sunday 11 October 2015

X is for ... Non-Existent?

Posted in: Comment, Features
By Politics and religion commentator Craig Young - 23rd July 2015

Why has the New Zealand 'exgay' movement quietly curled up and died? Why did it fail in the first place?

It's certainly true that the global 'exgay' movement is experiencing a morale and membership crisis across most of the western world, with serious retrenchment in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. Even in its United States homeland, "Exodus International" has had to close down, as have the UK True Freedom Trust and Australia's Living Waters organisation. True, there are still some militant outcrops visible, such as the bellicose UK Core Issues Trust, and US Restored Help Network, but this has never applied to New Zealand.

Originally, there were 'exgay' groups in each of the main centres - Exodus Ministries New Zealand (Auckland) and New Image/Lion of Judah Ministries/the Immaculate Heart of Mary Community (Wellington), with a weak transient Rock of Life Ministries in Christchurch. In the case of the Wellington exgay node, the founder Noel Mosen lost most of his support from fundamentalist Protestants when he and his wife converted to Catholicism and eventually had to close down. Mosen lost his wife to heart disease and is now a German monastery cook. In Auckland, Exodus Ministries lingered on, mostly attracting recidivist and conflicted elderly fundamentalist men who had sex with men but who were conflicted about it.

As time went on, Christian religious observance has also declined, which renders the 'exgay' movement further weakened. In the lower North Island, Briar and Neil Whitehead and Sy Rogers were active 'exgays' during the heyday of the Human Rights Act in 1993, but have restricted their activities to overseas since then, appearing at Exodus International conferences before its closure. Rogers has a music career in the fundamentalist Christian 'contemporary music' industry.

More recently, the small Seventh Day Adventist Church has been airing "Coming Out," a series of Adventist exgay discussions on the Adventist Freeview religious channel "Firstlight."

As for Exodus Ministries, apparently its existence is intermittent. The closure of conservative Christian media outlets such as Challenge Weekly have reduced its opportunities for uncritical news articles, propaganda and favourable reception. It lost charitable status in 2010 and does not seem to have a website, email address, or substantial online presence. Nothing has been heard from the organisation since 2013. It used to be associated with fundamentalist Grace Presbyterian Church in Manurewa.

So, what happened? The answer seems to lie in the field of fundamentalist "counselling and psychotherapy." Now, one would think that even conservative Christians would accept the professional authority and usefulness of psychotherapy and counselling if it could be manipulated to convince vulnerable people that any past abortions or gay sex were 'sinful' and 'wrong,' but that isn't the whole story. Certainly, some of them do, but others believe that the Bible contains "all" the necessary "resources" to engage in manipulative redirection and insuring that a newly converted individual complies with fundamentalist behavioural codes. Apart from fundamentalist US "universities" (broader curriculum former US fundamentalist theological colleges and seminaries), these 'qualifications' can do more harm than good, resulting in self-harm, injury, suicide attempts and premature death. This is called "nouthetic" counselling and it was very much in vogue during the eighties and nineties. It may explain why this absence of mainstream psychotherapeutic professional authority and practice eventually results in the impermanence, weakness or dissolution of New Zealand fundamentalist 'exgay' groups. The Pentecostal Living Waters group was supposed to hold a conference in 2014 but there were few details on its mostly incomplete website, so it may also have dissipated.

This has certain happy implications for us here. California, Oregon, New Jersey, Washington DC, Illinois and Ontario have had to go to the trouble of banning 'exgay' organisations from proximity to vulnerable US LGBTI youth, and similar proposals exist in the United Kingdom. Many medical organisations question the ethics and practice of reparative therapy in the United States, such as the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Counselling Association, National Association for Social Workers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, National Association of Schools of Psychologyy and the American Academy of Physician Assistants all condemn the practice.

However, if there is no "Exodus Ministries" left in New Zealand, then there is no point in banning something that no longer exists.

Not Recommended:
Jay Adams: The Christian Counsellors Manual: The Practice of Nouthetic Counselling: Zondervan: 1988.
John McArthur and Wayne Mack: An Introduction to Biblical Counselling: Thomas Nelson: 1994.
David Powlison: Seeing With New Eyes: Counselling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture: Presbyterian and Reformed Press: 2003.
Joe Dallas: When Homosexuality Hits Home: What to Do When A Loved One Says They're Gay: Eugene: Harvest House: 2004.
Timothy Christian and David Oschlager: Competent Christian Counselling: Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press: 1984

Politics and religion commentator Craig Young - 23rd July 2015

   Bookmark and Share