By John Paulk
A warm July greeting to you! My name is John Paulk and I have been asked by Dr. Dobson to write to you in his stead this month. Dr. and Mrs. Dobson are away for a few weeks while he is working on a book on child raising. He is very excited about this project and extends his best regards to you all.
I head division of Focus on the Family whose purpose is to introduce homosexuals to Jesus Christ and to offer a wayout of the lifestyle that ensnares them. We also provide hope, information and support to_their friends and family members. We have found that many homosexuals who seem so angry are actually desperate to escape, but have never been told that God loves them. Many are intimidated from seeking a solution to their pain.
You may have heard about my personal story. (My wife Anne and I were pictured on the cover of Newsweek in 1998.) As a lost and confused teenager, I found friendship and acceptance in the gay and lesbian world. It would be inappropriate to tell you how deeply I descended into that lifestyle. I became a homosexual activist who rode in gay pride marches, picked up “lovers” in gay bars and considered Christians to be the most evil people on earth. But thanks to the love and guidance of some godly friends, I found a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and He revolutionized my life. Anne was a lesbian who experienced a similar transformation about the same time, and we were married a few years later. We now have two wonderful children and are eternally grateful for the miracle that has occurred.
Our great passion these days is for those who are still trapped in the sordid world we left. My colleagues and I speak around the country at Focus on the Family events called “Love Won Out,” which are designed to disseminate the truth about homosexuality. Although we are often picketed by gay and lesbian activists, and the press often misrepresents what we are doing, wonderful things happen at these events. It is not unusual for homosexuals to attend the conference expecting to hear hate and anger, but instead hear a message of love and hope. Some approach us at the conclusion with tears in their eyes, asking for more information.
After our recent conference in Dallas, one of the attendees quietly came forward to thank me for the disarming message we had presented. He said, “I came here hating you and Focus on the Family, but now I have decided to leave homosexuality. One day I am going to be working with you guys.” Isn’t that incredible?
Virtually every conference participant is impacted by being there. An attendee from a Love Won Out gathering in Sacramento wrote: “I am so thankful that you are addressing this issue. We have (as the church) avoided this for too long. I have been putting off dealing with my own homosexuality for over 30 years. Now I am able to understand my problem and have hope to deal with it and be fully healed.”
After our Dallas conference, my colleague Mike Haley received this e-mail: “[Your testimony] offered so much hope. I believe God can reach our son and it is such a relief to know all I have to do is love our son and pray for him .. . After the conference I felt so much love and hope and excitement for living. This is a big deal, because I have been depressed for almost 7 years. It was Christmas of ’93 when we first heard our son refer to himself as gay.”
Mike is able to connect with parents and young people at these conferences because of his own tragic background. He grew up in a Christian home, but never experienced the intimacy he longed for with his father. At the vulnerable age of 11, when another man began to pay attention to Mike, he fell victim to sexual abuse. A public school counselor convinced Mike that embracing homosexuality was his only option, so Mike did that for a decade. It was not until Mike, Colorado Springs, CO 80995, became involved with a local chapter of Exodus International that he discovered change was truly possible. As a result, he realized that a call he had received from God at age 15 to minister to youth had been restored, and he went on staff with one of the largest churches in Memphis, Tennessee. Today, Mike is the happily married father of a seven-month-old son.
Let me add just a word about Exodus, the largest homosexual-recovery organization in the world, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. I have the privilege of serving as chairman of that organization. The last Exodus conference was the best attended ever, a 27 percent increase over the previous year. As a result of Exodus and other efforts to reach the homosexual community, thousands of men and women have found the same type of healing and grace that Mike and I have experienced.
That good news, however, is nearly drowned out by the incessant media propaganda that distorts the meaning of homosexuality. Regardless of what you may have heard, this inclination, in and of itself, is not genetically determined. There is no scientific evidence to indicate that it is.l Furthermore, homosexuality can often be treated successfully. Despite these well-established facts, the forces that promote the activist movement are almost irresistible. The media, the rock music and film industries, the universities, the judiciary, and now more commonly, the Congress itself con-spire to reposition homosexuality as just another normal lifestyle. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Our president, Bill Clinton, is the most influential proponent of homosexual activism. He is the first chief executive to speak at fundraising events and lend the prestige of the White House to the movement. He appears determined to continue this campaign to his last day in office. Late on Friday afternoon, June 2, 2000, after the evening news had been put to bed and many reporters were gone for the weekend, Mr. Clinton issued a proclamation designating June as “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.” He lauded homosexuals effusively and ended with this statement: “Now, therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2000 as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. I encourage all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities that celebrate our diversity and recognize the gay and lesbian Americans whose many and varied contributions have enriched our national life. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this second day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-fourth. William J. Clinton.”2
By the way, Mrs. Dobson had to beg the White House for a proclamation designating May 4th as National Day of Prayer. It finally arrived on the afternoon of the actual day, when it was too late to be useful. It is clear where the president’s priorities lie.
How tragic that the most powerful man in the world has devoted his presidency to this unfortunate purpose. I know the other side of the story. I’ve been there. Homosexuality is a lonely and disillusioning way of life. There is a reason why this behavior has been considered morally wrong throughout most of human history. Can you think of any other form of immorality which has been set aside for a month of celebration by an American president? How indicative of his character and our depravity as a nation.
Many of you are familiar with the vicious attacks that have been initiated against popular radio talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger.3 Dr. Laura, an orthodox Jew, has dared to present the truth that homosexual behavior is in conflict with Judeo-Christian morality, in other words, sinful. In retaliation, gay activists have launched a campaign to intimidate advertisers to keep them from supporting her program. Corporations such as Procter & Gamble, United Airlines,4 Toys ‘R Us and Xerox5 have already caved in to the pressure. What an indictment of the church that advertisers are more concerned about incurring the wrath of a small percentage of homosexuals than they are about offending the tens of millions of Christians in this country! (Addresses and phone numbers for the companies listed above are provided at the end of this letter. I hope you will call or write to express your disagreement with their decision to pull the rug out from under Dr. Laura.)
Publication’s title: Family News From Dr. James Dobson ‘ Issue date: July 2000 Statement of frequency: Published monthly Authorized organization’s name and address: Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO 80995 ”” Issue number: 7 Many of these companies continue to support television programs that present ever more blatant exhibitions of homosexual conduct. In the three years since the main character on the sitcom Ellen “came out of the closet” (and subsequently saw ratings plummet and the show cancelled), numerous TV programs now attempt to advance the radical gay agenda. A recent episode of “Dawson’s Creek” featured the “first romantic kiss between two gay men on primetime network TV.”6 Lesbian kisses have been televised on “Roseanne,” “Ally McBeal” and “Party of Five.”7 A tally by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) counted 28 homosexual and transgendered characters on this year’s line-up of network and cable primetime television programming.8 As if that is not enough, NBC’s “Will and Grace” devoted an entire episode in May to ridiculing individuals (like myself) who have overcome homosexuality.9
Many colleges and universities also have become aggressive purveyors of pro-gay propaganda. This fall, the University of Michigan will offer a course entitled “How to Be Gay.”10 At San Diego State University, a mandatory multicultural education course for aspiring teachers requires them to take “cultural plunges,” including trips to homosexual bars and forcing heterosexual students to publicly identify themselves as gay or lesian.l Earlier this year, school officials at Tufts University in Massachusetts banned an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter from their campus after the group refused to allow a lesbian to hold a leadership position.’2 At least four other colleges have applied similar sanctions against IVCF for its biblical stand against homosexual behavior.13
This unprecedented cultural onslaught is taking a toll on our young people. In a 1991 poll by Seventeen magazine, only 17 percent of teens said they felt homosexuality was acceptable. By last year, more than half – 54 percent said they saw nothing wrong with homosexual behavior.14
Let me share one last aspect of the present cultural situation that I think is very important. This past May, at its annual convention, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) agreed to stage an historic and much-anticipated debate. The issue: whether treatment for unwanted homosexual behavior is “ethical.”15 Unfortunately, that event was canceled just weeks before it was scheduled to take place. A brief history of this issue will help explain why.
In 1973, the APA removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. Now, the forces of political correctness have so overwhelmed the APA that those who even suggest the mere possibility of treatment for homosexuals are
seen as virtual pariahs. In fact, two years ago, the APA issued a position statement “rebuking” psychiatric treatment for homosexuality.16
Dr. Robert Spitzer, a highly respected psychiatric researcher at Columbia University, drafted the 1973 APA justification for declassifying homosexuality as a mental disorder.17 Ironically, at last year’s APA convention, Dr. Spitzer had the opportunity to meet and interact with several former homosexuals who have been greatly impacted by that decision. During those conversations, he became intrigued by the idea of reparative therapy, or treatment designed to help gays and lesbians overcome their homosexuality by addressing the root causes of such behavior. Dr. Spitzer is not a Christian, and he holds very liberal positions on most social issues. However, as a scientist and researcher, he felt compelled to undertake a fair examination of this treatment that the APA feels is so unworthy of attention.
Dr. Spitzer found his initial research so fascinating that he proposed that the APA schedule a symposium on the topic at this year’s convention in Chicago. He arranged for speakers, received approval from the program committee and agreed to moderate the debate. Gay activists inside the APA recoiled at even discussing the subject. Weeks before the debate, they succeeded in canceling it. Meanwhile, a workshop entitled “Is Homophobia a Mental Disorder?”1S proceeded without opposition.
The homosexual advocates hoped to quietly scuttle the reparative therapy debate without attracting attention. They would have been successful, were it not for the dedicated efforts of a number of ex-gay leaders, several of whom are my colleagues here at Focus on the Family, and Dr. Spitzer. These individuals organized a protest and press conference at the Chicago Convention Center, where the APA meeting was being held. The demonstration featured dozens of people who have benefited from reparative therapy. Also taking part was my young son, Timmy. A photo of his participation appears below.
Then, along with a number of other groups, Focus on the Family ran a full-page ad in USA Today exposing the APA’s cowardice. More importantly, the ad communicated to millions of Americans the joy and freedom that so many ex-gays have experienced upon leaving homosexuality. Many of us were helped by the same type of treatment that the APA now denounces. Dr. Dobson found the ad so uplifting that he asked that we enclose a copy of it with this letter. I urge you to read it and share it with others.
Focus on the Family is committed to the thousands of individuals who are ensnared by homosexuality but are desperately seeking a way out. We will continue to do everything in our power to help these men and women. But our efforts will be of minimal consequence unless the church as a whole rises to the challenge.
Virtually every Christian has a responsibility to address this issue in some manner. As the church, we must continue to speak out boldly against the radical homosexual agenda while we minister to those who are trapped in this lifestyle. Some Christians see an inherent conflict between exhibiting compassion and speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). But it is compassionate to warn about the dangers of homosexuality in order to spare individuals the heartache and grief of that behavior. At the same time, we must always remember that many turn to homosexuality precisely because they have experienced rejection from the people closest to them. The church must not compound that rejection, but rather be an oasis of grace, healing and hope.
In fact, because of the rejection many homosexuals perceive from the Christian community, churches must make a concerted effort to demonstrate concern for individuals struggling with their sexual identity. Along those lines, some congregations have begun AIDS ministries. Others have begun support groups for men and women coming out of homosexuality. Still others address this issue compassionately from the pulpit, in Sunday school classes, and in their singles ministries. Some churches are helping to host our Love Won Out conferences in their area. There are many options, but the one option churches simply must not choose is to continue pretending that the issue does not exist.
To those of you who are parents, I say, “Be aware!” Your children are being inundated with inaccurate, but enticing, messages about homosexuality. Television, movies, music and an increasing number of public schools constantly reinforce the idea that “gay is good.” Monitor the influences your children are receiving, and address the subject of homosexuality directly with them.
Perhaps you, as an individual, struggle with the sin of homosexuality or homosexual temptations, or maybe someone close to you, a child or another loved one, finds him or herself in that predicament. If so, our hearts and prayers go out to you. In addition to our Love Won Out conferences, we have created a wealth of printed resources designed to help you. Several of these are listed on the enclosed resource sheet.
God is still in the business of redeeming lives from every type of sin and brokenness. Gay activists and their col-leagues in the media have no defense to explain these lives that have been transformed by God’s amazing grace. That is why they try to silence this message of hope, and why I am so thrilled to share with you the exciting work Focus on the Family is doing in this area.
I trust you and your loved ones are enjoying your summer and making quality time to spend together. Dr. and Mrs. Dobson will be back the first week of August. May I ask you to drop them a line to thank them for the work they do? They carry a heavy burden on behalf of the family, and I know they would appreciate hearing from you.
Thank you for letting me share my heart with you. Pray for us when you think of our mission, won’t you?
Manager, Homosexuality and Gender Division
This article “Dear Friends” written by John Paulk is excerpted from Focus On The Family: Family News From Dr. James Dobson distributed in 2000.