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Be Not Deceived

The Sacred and Sexual Struggles of Gay and Ex-Gay Christian Men

Michelle Wolkomir

Publication Year: 2006

In Be Not Deceived, Michelle Wolkomir explores the difficult dilemma that gay Christians face in their attempts to reconcile their religious and sexual identities. She introduces the ideologies and practices of two alternative and competing ministries that offer solutions for Christians who experience homosexual desire. One organization-the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches-believes that God made people gay to suit divine purposes. In contrast, Exodus International preaches that homosexuality is a sin and a symptom of disordered psychological development-one that can be cured through redemptive prayer. Through careful analysis of the groups' ideologies, interactions, and symbolic resources, Be Not Deceived goes far beyond the obvious differences between the ministries to uncover their similarities, namely that both continue to define heterosexuality as the normative and dominant lifestyle.

Published by: Rutgers University Press


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

"When I was a child and worried or complained about something—or even when I achieved something at school—my father was in the habit of remarking, 'Yeah, just don’t feel too special. Look around you.' It was his way of reminding me that there is little about the human e-perience unique to me or unconnected to other people. In looking..."

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pp. xi-xiv

"When the door opened, I saw a man of medium height and build, with dark brown hair and eyes, who just seemed used to smiling. He held the screen door open and said, 'Come on in.' After I made it through the door frame, he reached over and hugged me, telling me how glad he was that I had come. I responded awkwardly, unaccustomed to..."

Part I: The Cultural Origins and Biographical Paths of the Dilemma

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Chapter 1: The Problem with Being Gay and Christian

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pp. 3-17

"In the spring of 1995, the Reverend Jimmy Creech was a guest speaker at a meeting of gay and lersbian students on a university campus. Creech, a former Methodist minister defrocked because of his gay-affirmative ministry and activism (cf. Hartman 1996, 1–24), talked about the ridicule and harassment he had suffered because of his work and about the damage caused by his church’s tenacious assertion of heterosexist doctrine. When he..."

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Chapter 2: Alternate Theologies: Sins and Solutions

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pp. 18-38

"The above two mission statements clearly reveal the key difference between MCC and Exodus; MCC works to integrate homosexuality into Christian life while Exodus seeks to purge it. In accord with these contrary missions, the groups are also on opposing sides of the debate over whether homosexuality is innate (MCC) or chosen (Exodus) and split on the issue of whether people can change their sexual orientation. Certainly, each group’s purpose..."

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Chapter 3: The Dilemmas of Christian Men Who Desire Men

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pp. 39-53

"One summer evening, after an Accept Bible study meeting, Chris and I stood in an apartment parking lot talking about childhood memories of the summer. At one point, he paused and then said, 'You know, every once in a while it is still a little weird and scary to say the words ‘I am gay.’ I’m okay with it now, even glad, but still.' When I asked him why those words..."

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Chapter 4: Choosing a Path to Resolution

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pp. 54-76

"In these excerpts, Sean and Matt described their reactions to discovering Accept or Expell as right and/or wrong feeling and indicated that their decisions about joining were predicated on these feelings. When initial contact with a group 'felt right,' Sean and Matt took this feeling as evidence that they hadfound the 'right place' in which to resolve their struggle. Like Sean and Matt, all of the men in this study based their decisions about which..."

Part II: The Resolution of Dilemmas and the Transformative Process

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Chapter 5: Challenging Traditional Meanings

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pp. 79-104

"One night about a month into my fieldwork with the gay Christians, I offered Terry, whose car was in the shop for repairs, a ride home from an Accept meeting. Like me, Terry was a newcomer and had only been attending meetings for a short time. During the drive to his home, we initially made small talkand joked about local happenings. Then Terry suddenly got serious and asked, “Michelle, do you like going to these meetings?” I was startled by the question. I had not considered whether I enjoyed the..."

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Chapter 6: Learning to Be a Gay or Ex-gay Christian

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pp. 105-131

"An Expell member once commented, after what was a particularly difficult meeting for him, that 'the road to becoming straight certainly throws you a lot of curves.' During this meeting, he had confessed that he had, after several months hiatus, returned to visiting Internet sites containing homosexual pornography. In a small group discussion, he explained that, over the course of the last few months, he had been having difficulties at work..."

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Chapter 7: Authenticity and the Good Christian

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pp. 146-151

"Presentations of this research have often evoked questions from audience members about the men’s motive and intent for doing the kind of transformative work described in the last few chapters. I have often been asked if these men are not just fooling themselves and making the Bible say what they want it to so they can feel less guilty about their homosexuality. Those who ask these sorts of questions seem troubled by the men’s revised theology..."

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Chapter 8: The Wives of Ex-gay Chrtistian Men

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pp. 152-179

"In 1998, Lisa’s friend Dan invited her to a birthday party so that he could introduce her to his friend Steve. She liked Steve from the start, and they began dating inspite of rumors that he and Dan were involved. Lisa saw these rumors as people buying into stereotypes of men who had some feminine attributes, and she paid no attention to them. After all, Dan was married with a child, and Steve had children from a previous marriage...."

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Chapter 9: Conclusion: The Parameters of Change

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pp. 180-199

"I followed the now familiar hallway into the living room and hugged group members in greeting. It was my last Accept meeting. We stood in small groups, talking and joking with an easy camaraderie born of intimacy and practice. There was nothing different about this meeting, except that..."


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pp. 200-207


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pp. 209-210


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pp. 211-218


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pp. 219-225

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About the Author

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pp. 227

"Michelle Wolkomir is an assistant professor of sociology and codirectorof the Gender Studies Program at Centenary College of Louisiana."

E-ISBN-13: 9780813539263
E-ISBN-10: 0813539269
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813538211
Print-ISBN-10: 0813538211

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2006