According to Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out, Living Hope Ministries falsely portrays being gay as an “addiction”, “sickness”, and “sin;” promotes “dangerous, homophobic garbage;” and must be silenced “so LGBT youth won’t be tormented by hateful bigots and bullies.” Apple agrees (as does Amazon). Google has been less cooperative: despite over 135,000 signatures and counting on a Change.org petition, the Living Hope Ministries app is still available on Android. Should the Google Play store bend the knee to Truth Wins Out, LHM would effectively be shut out of the mobile market.
So who are these horrible people anyway? In their own words:
Living Hope Ministries is a non-profit, non-denominational, 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to proclaim God’s truth as we journey with those who are seeking sexual and relational wholeness through a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. We provide free in-person support groups, one-on-one pastoral counseling and mentoring, online support forums, and education and training for the church and community. LHM proclaims a Christ-centered, Biblical world-view of sexual expression rooted in one man and one woman in a committed, monogamous, heterosexual marriage for life. Anything less than this ideal, falls short of God’s best for humanity.
Much of Besen’s activism is inspired directly or indirectly by a fellow I discussed recently in Pendulum, Herbert Marcuse. Marcuse promoted rigid intolerance of “groups and movements which promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism, discrimination on the grounds of race and religion, or which oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care, etc.” To speak of homosexuality as sinful is discriminatory: indeed Marcuse saw homosexuals as front line warriors in the Cultural Revolution and champions of the “pleasure principle.” He hoped for a utopia where a liberated humanity lived peacefully with full bellies and frequent orgasms, and saw conventional governmental and family structures as obstacles standing in its way.
Though Besen may not be familiar with Christianity, LHM’s ideas on marriage and sexuality are in keeping with Christian tradition. Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox alike have long considered homosexuality a sin. You may disagree with them on the issue and many do: over 50% of American Christians believe homosexuality should be accepted rather than discouraged by society. Still LHM’s statements of faith are neither ahistorical nor particularly extreme. More importantly, they are statements of faith.
After several bloody centuries of Reformation and Counter-Reformation, the West has come to place a premium on religious freedom. This is especially true in America. Religious dissenters founded Massachusetts and a counter-dissenter founded Rhode Island: they were joined by Quakers in Pennsylvania, Catholics in Maryland and later Mormons in Utah. Thomas Jefferson famously noted that his neighbor’s worship habits neither picked his pocket nor broke his leg. In 1993 the Supreme Court found that the Constitution protected a Lukumi Church’s right to animal sacrifice. It is hard to see what pressing danger exists such that LHM’s religious rights should be curtailed.
The LHM app was not force-loaded onto anyone’s phone. It did not create pop ups advertising its services in all caps alongside a blinking GOD HATES FAGS gif. LHM representatives did not spam gay sites telling people to download this app and get right with Jesus. Those iPhone users using the LHM app were doing so of their own volition after a conscious decision to download it. You may disagree with their choice but freedom of religion cuts both ways. The right to walk away from the church also includes the right to walk towards it.
Alas, for some human rights are neither inalienable nor self-evident. Besen’s objection to LHM is rooted in another concept popularized by Marcuse — the idea that the brainwashed oppressed are incapable of acting in their own interests. The solution proposed by Marcuse, and Besen, encourages the intellectual vanguard to act on their behalf until they awaken to the wealth of personal choices and sexual adventures awaiting them. By taking away their right to choose, the Marxist-Freudians hope to create subjects who can be trusted to make the right choices. (Opinions vary on whether this will happen before or after the state withers away).
Cishet Patriarchal Persecution hasn’t stopped a generation from creating a dictionary’s worth of shiny new “Queer” identities. Queers in the military are free to tell and most COs wouldn’t bother asking anyway: gay couples can marry and adopt while transgender children can attend school and even participate in athletic events. For LGBT people, especially prosperous White homosexuals, things are better than ever. (This has not gone unnoticed on the Intersectional Left). Growing acceptance of alternative lifestyles has made “ex-gay ministries” look as quaint as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Besen paints traditional Christianity as a hostile existential threat to the queer community: an objective observer might suggest his placement is reversed.