Our Objection to a Current Exodus Policy
By Ron and Joanne Highley
Published April 2000
As the issue of freedom from homosexuality is debated daily, Exodus International is more in the public view and looked to for answers. A recent issue of the Exodus Update features the testimony of a woman who continues to live with her former lover. They have never separated, yet she claims to have worked through their dependency issues. We have spoken to Exodus leaders and written letters on the subject of the need for separation from former lovers and “gay” friends. Our last letter in September 1996 was acknowledged but never answered. This is a vital issue and we are taking this means to express our disagreement and our concern.
She says in her testimony, “We continue to share a home, which has puzzled some people who ask; ‘How can you live with your former lover and claim to be free of homosexuality?’ If I were still battling attractions and unhealthy emotional entanglements, I definitely could not live with _______ and remain a strong, peaceful Christian. But for the past sixteen years, we both have been increasingly healed and now relate to each other as heterosexual women. It is not sinful for heterosexual women to share a home.”
These women not only share a home but also direct a ministry to help others out of homosexuality, and one now serves on the Exodus board.
We can’t presume to know their hearts, and do not impute any sin to them. We do know that (1) without a period of separation, it is impossible to know you are no longer dependent; (2) whatever freedom they may have, the situation still tells other couples who are, of course, in varying degrees of freedom that they don’t need to separate.
She says that they found a ministry in New York City who taught them they were not born gay, and that they are maturing into normal heterosexual women. She may have avoided stating that it was LIFE Ministry because we had also told them that to be free, and mature into heterosexuality, they would need to separate and allow God to work on their long-standing emotionally dependent relationship. We assured them He would strengthen them in their own identity, break the ungodly soul tie, and help them bring down the idol of their 9-year lesbian relationship.
The two women disregarded our counsel and continued to live together. They were encouraged in this by their pastor who, like many pastors, did not understand the addictive, dependent nature of homosexuality.
When these women applied for ministry status, Exodus flew them to California from the east coast for an interview and determined that they were free of homosexual and emotional entanglement. They were approved as a ministry and are now representing Exodus, modeling the premise that no one needs to separate from former lovers either to show freedom or to function in ministry to others. Further, this policy is questioned by some Exodus leaders and conflicts with the advice about separation in its popular booklet, “Emotional Dependency”. Why is this approved?
The reason may be in the ambivalent advice given by the executive director of Exodus, Bob Davies, in his book, “Coming Out of Homosexuality” – “Should you and your former lover separate? There is no simple answer that fits all situations. …are you growing as a Christian through this friendship, or are you slipping back into old habits and feelings through its influence?”
We believe that using the word “friendship” when one person is still in the homosexual life (as in his example) is a serious error. Davies mentions the Scripture about light having no fellowship with darkness, and then seems to compromise it. Homosexuality is not friendship, but an addictive, dependent relationship based on neediness, deception, and unreality. To try to build a friendship without total separation and cleansing of these ungodly aspects is to deceive oneself. Doing what is right is often the most difficult, but always the most rewarding route to take.
Another Exodus author, Joe Dallas, writes, “Some would consider it wrong to maintain relations of any kind with gay friends or ex-lovers, but there’s no hard and fast rule saying you should simply cut off those who disagree with you. The acid test is always this: If you can maintain a relationship that doesn’t compromise your own beliefs, then do so.”
However, this is not a matter of “those who disagree”. Although we may care about those still caught in that life, the one who is being set free is not a likely candidate to help them because there are too many hazards and pitfalls. Since homosexuality has nothing good in it, there is nothing to be gained and much to be lost by trying to maintain relationships that were so twisted and unreal that same-sex attractions and unions seemed healthy. Many even believed the lie that homosexuality was the answer and the Bible was the problem! This was not only a perversion of truth but also a demonic answer to our buried pain and alienation.
It may seem to some that homosexual lovers are friends, but we must remember the deceptive and dependent quality of this attachment. Though these women are not lovers any longer, there is great benefit in separation, because then the emotions can come to the surface and be processed. One can only find out how to become an individual person when free of dependency on another. During this separation, the person can ask God to reveal and break up any old resentments or other blockages to loving Him and to help us deal with the feelings that were covered by the idolatry. We can then go to God with our needs and learn the boundaries of true friendship and love. It is a precious time not to be missed, and we believe that everyone who has had homosexual desires and/or activity should have a period of separation for repentance, cleansing, and making peace with God.
Therefore, allowing former lovers to minister to others while living together is folly. Seeing the other person regularly maintains the “fix” that covers the feelings. One then feels strong and is deceived into thinking he/she is free of dependency. Separation would allow the addiction/idolatry and soul ties to be broken, the persons could go through emotional withdrawal, deal with the wounds and ungodly reactions that are at the root of the problem, and find their true selfhood in the Lord.
Frankly, if we are truly free, we won’t even want to live with a former lover. As long as we stay connected, our feelings will continue to deceive and draw us away from God, His truth, and His freedom. This is a complex syndrome of buried feelings that requires an objective appraisal. Compromised counsel will not bring the wholesome results the Lord wants for us. We know it is difficult, but are convinced the principle is right.
Therefore, we say no one in ministry should be living with someone with whom they have had homosexual sex. It is a bad example to those wanting to be free because it fosters the compromise our emotions want and it gives the unsaved an object to deride. The example of these two women has encouraged other former homosexual couples to remain together and be endorsed by Exodus to minister from that situation. This is very serious and we believe this counsel does not come from the Lord, but from some unfinished emotional work that, if done, will produce true freedom and valid ministry.
Ron and Joanne Highley
“Your manual, which I carry often with me to read portions of, in the commuter train or during breaks, helps me a lot. I find it clear and challenging. When I struggled to break free from an emotionally dependent relationship to an older man (non-sexual), the pages on emotional dependency were like a thorn in my flesh: some statements sounded hard at the time and I did not want to hear it – but I felt that they were true and the day came when I was ready to follow this advice. It was a deep experience of gaining freedom and strengthening my relationship to God. Those difficult and challenging days gave me insights into the reality of life, belief, obedience, freedom, and joy amidst pain which I have never had before. Precious!” (Letter from a counselee in Europe.)