Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

Guy Hammond does a lot of talking, but not a lot of explaining

Andrew Henry | The Free Press

Posted on April 15, 2013 in Henry's Head, Perspectives
By Andrew Henry

Guy Hammond says a lot in his seminars and sermons. He preaches for Christians to be polite and passionate in their tolerance of gay people.

And he definitely does a lot of talking, but not a lot of explaining.

Hammond, who calls himself an “ex-gay,” runs the Strength in Weakness Ministry and its accompanying website. He was brought to the USM campus as a guest speaker on Friday by the Alpha Omega student group and the Casco Bay Church of Christ.

It’s worth noting that the instant I told some Alpha Omega members I worked for the Free Press, I felt a lot less welcome by those same people who had happily greeted me minutes earlier. In fact, one of the members yelled “Make sure you don’t misquote!” as I walked out of the lecture hall.

“Strength in Weakness” refers to finding strength within the “weakness” of being gay. Much of his speech on Friday was an exercise in talking in circles, topic avoidance and tactically-worded rhetoric. In fact, the only thing that’s more important than what he said is what he didn’t say.

Hammond’s arguments hinge on never making explicit statements about his own stance on homosexuality in Christianity. He constantly reiterates that Christians need to be tolerant, accepting and patient with gay people in the church, but he never says that he believes being a “disciple of Christ” means being heterosexual. For example, Strength in Weakness’ website says that Christians should be “tenderly patient with those who have been trapped in sinful and dysfunctional activities that separate them from the will that God has for their lives.” The implication is that the people who would be engaging in those activities are gay people, but he never explicitly says that.
This same website states that the ministry exists for people who want to “learn how to deny [same gender attractions] daily in submission to God.” I want to make it clear that Hammond is protected by the same First Amendment that lets me write this article and publish it in a newspaper, so to those who have a problem with him saying it at USM – he actually can.

Hammond is well-practiced in doublespeak. He uses “healing” instead of “conversion therapy” and “support” instead of “counseling.” He wants to “remind” gay people that submission to God is crucial if “true healing is ever to be fully realized.” He wants them to “recognize” that “though they did not choose this as their sexual orientation, they do have the freedom in Christ to choose the path of self-denial and obedience to God in the daily decisions they make.”

Taken literally, the freedom to choose God is one of Hammond’s ‘answers’ to being gay. We also have the freedom to juggle machetes, walk everywhere on our hands and urinate in the cafeteria – but we choose not to.

Hammond’s ministry takes on same-sex relationships according to the “biblical sexual ethic.” The Strength in Weakness website explains that “We assert that God’s Biblical design for sexual intimacy is to be exclusively reserved between that of a man and woman bound together in marriage.”

Referring to “those” for whom the biblical sexual ethic is unimportant, who “don’t care to follow it anyway,” Hammond reminded everyone during his speech that “it should be none of our business how they’ve chosen to live their lives.”

That leads me to wonder: Why bother to tell “those” people how to live their lives then, and why here at USM?

The biggest problem I have with Hammond, to paraphrase Louis C.K., is that he thinks he can tell other people how to live like he’s got the keys to how to be happy. I fundamentally disagree with Hammond’s stance that being gay is something that can be altered in any way. It’s not a temporary feeling, a one-time thing or any “weakness,” as Hammond calls it. Being gay is as much a part of someone’s being as their brain, limbs and personality. For someone that preaches the “unconditional love of Jesus,” Hammond doesn’t seem to be exhibiting a lot of it himself. Teaching others that it’s okay to try and change your sexual orientation is heinous and immoral. Being straight isn’t a prerequisite to being Christian.

It might seem at first that Hammond’s message is one of self-improvement, but his claim that he is an “ex-gay” and that his sermons focus on being gay, changes the message from one of compassion and tolerance to one of, ‘We’ll wait for you to realize that being gay is wrong. When you find that out, come join Strength in Weakness!’

But, to his credit, Hammond’s rhetoric is precise and tactical. He’s careful not to use buzzwords, but that doesn’t make it any more difficult to see that he’s essentially targeting gay people.

He said toward the end of his speech, “The issue really isn’t homosexuality or same-sex attraction. The issue is that every single living human being is broken somehow,” directly implying that being gay is being broken. Essentially, he believes being gay is like being born with brown eyes – he thinks you’d rather have green eyes, and he has the contact lenses that can change the color for you. But a contact lens is just an aesthetic fix, and you will always have your original color. Brown eyes are part of your personal identity, and is something that can never truly be changed. Guy Hammond is a perfect example of what not to do when you are facing questions of sexual identity.

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  • Pam Johnson

    With regard to the part of your article talking about homosexuals not having a choice to change, I am going to go out on a limb and ask if you are one of many who believe that people are born with a gay gene (so to speak) and that it is not their choice to be gay.
    I really do not understand how anyone can believe that God would knit someone in their mother’s womb (from the bible) with a gay gene, considering how God feels with regard to homosexuality (again, in the Bible). I believe that people have the choice to not encourage or entertain the thoughts of being with someone of the same sex.
    Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe that we are not to condemn or harass people who are homosexual. God calls us to love others and the only way to impact someone to turn from anything that is harming them (i.e., adultery, stealing, etc.) is to love them. But, it is also not our place to make them feel horrible or judge them.
    I thoroughly believe that God loves those who are homosexual, as well as those who are not. It is no different than a parent who loves their child, but does not agree with or condone their lifestyle.

  • Rebecca

    Dear Mr. Henry

    To begin, I do want to say I am a Disciple or “Christian” in a very broad classification and I wanted to address some opinions that appeared in your article, Guy Hammond does a lot of talking, but not a lot of explaining. I present this to you with the utmost humility.

    Firstly, “Being gay is as much a part of someone’s being as their brain, limbs and personality.” I don’t believe that there is any scientific proof of this. I know Biblically that view isn’t supported.

    Secondly, “Teaching others that it’s okay to try and change your sexual orientation is heinous and immoral. Being straight isn’t a prerequisite to being Christian.” If you read the Bible for further research, you would see stated is God’s view of a persons sexual orientation When God created the world He created Adam and Eve and He BROUGHT Eve to Adam and that is the very first example of marriage we have (Genesis 3:21-25). Then if you continue to read through the Old Testament (you don’t even have to go to the New Testament) you will see that there was two cities that were participating in a sexually immoral lifestyle- Sodom and Gommorah. If you start in Genesis 18:16 through to Genesis 19:1-19 you will see that God provided time for change and repentance of their sinful ways and had told Abraham if he found even 10 righteous people God would not destroy the cities. We know that these people were living a life style of homosexuality as shown in Genesis 19:4-5. Then God goes on to destroy them leaving no one but Lot and his daughters were saved. In this time God was setting up what He expects from us, His creations, and what would be tolerated and what would not be.

    Thirdly, ““The issue really isn’t homosexuality or same-sex attraction. The issue is that every single living human being is broken somehow,” ” again, the Bible is very clear that we, you and I, are broken. We have a sinful nature that seperates us from God and that’s the brokeness Mr.Hammond is referring to. That brokenness can be repaired but that’s another discussion different from this one.

    In conclusion, as I mentioned when I opened this I am submitting them humbly for your thought and reflection. Thank you

  • esther

    She’s right. What can you do with scriptures like this when you make a commitment to follow Jesus but obey them. You can’t change the bible.
    1 Timothy 1:9-11New International Version (NIV)
    9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

  • Pheidippides

    ‘Modern psychology’ says nothing of the sort. Get your facts straight.

  • Ambassador

    It seems like the LGBTQ community often gets love and acceptance confused. Love is not acceptance for a Christian. Jesus was a very unaccepting person. He straight up told people they couldn’t be his disciples if they didn’t ________ (multiple examples) (Luke 9, 14).

    But Jesus says to love people. What does that mean? For a Christian, the ultimate love would be to try to help someone escape their sinful life style and find the truest form of fulfillment possible – the fulfillment that comes from a relationship with Christ (I want to emphasis that this is what a CHRISTIAN believes is the truest fulfillment). This goes for regardless of if their sinful lifestyle is characterized by murder, thievery, adultery, sexual immorality, or homosexual ACTIONS. I emphasize actions here because the sin is acting upon homosexual temptations, not the temptations themselves.

    But if someone came up to me and said “I’m a murderer”, you wouldn’t expect me to be accepting of that. If someone said “I’m a rapist”, you wouldn’t expect me to be accepting of that. If someone said “I a con artist” or “I rob banks” or “I’m a womanizer” or “I fight everyone that makes me mad” or “I don’t answer to anyone but myself” or “I take advantage of people” or “I’m controlling of everyone around me” of “I lie to everyone” or “I still on a couch all day and do absolutely nothing” or “I play 18 hours of video games a day” you wouldn’t expect me to just say “That is completely okay. There is nothing wrong with that.”

    But even if you did expect me to do that, I will not accept those things because Jesus didn’t accept those things. BUT Jesus does expect me to love those people. So I am going to love those people. What does that mean? I’m not going to treat them as outcasts. I’m not going to treat them like they’re weird (because they’re not – everyone has sin). I’m not going to belittle or make fun. I’m not going to condemn – that is not my job.

    But I will find a way to speak the truth. Because the truth sets free (John 8). And because I love them all, I want them to be set free. Because I love murderers, rapists, thieves, liars, slanderers, the sexually immoral, people who act homosexually, people who are lazy, people who are idolatrous, etc. I want them to be set free. I want each of them to have the fulfillment of a relationship with Christ because I love them. I love them because Christ loves them and commands me to as well.

    So then, acceptance is actually the opposite of love. Because, if I believe that unatoned for sin leads to hell and I believe that homosexuality is sin that needs atonement, then how loving am I truly being if I say to someone who commits homosexual acts (or any sin), “You’re okay. I accept your behavior.” What I would really be saying is, “It is okay with me if you miss out on what I believe is the most incredible life possible and it’s also okay with me if you go to hell.” I personally am not okay with that. And so I won’t be accepting of sin.

    Now, I want to just state, so that no one thinks otherwise, that I myself have sin. And I am not accepting of the sin in my life either. This does not mean I’m perfect, it means I’m trying to please God.

    Also, please understand that this is coming from the perspective of a Christian who believes that homosexual activity is sin. If you don’t think it is sin then I’m willing to explain why I do. But either way, the post remains true because I believe it is sinful. Therefore I would not be showing love to accept it. I hope this helps.

    (Bold for emphasis b/c italics don’t exist)

  • Sharon D

    It’s about Godly holiness, not man’s version. That’s what he is talking about.

  • Mark

    but you’re right. Being with God is hell to those who doesn’t want to be with him. Biblical submission is a choice and it leads to freedom because your heart changes. So it isn’t hell for someone who wants to submit. It’s hell for someone who because of pride wants to live their own life and would not give up how they want to live.

  • Denise

    Guy is doing a great job. And of of course he is out there, so he is up for persecution. So the person who wrote this article- I can see why they wrote this article the way they did- because it comes from their view point- not a Christian view point. Its like when I read a book – I like to find out about the background of the author to see where they are coming from. Keep up the work Guy of bringing people , all people to the Lord.

  • That’s Too Bad

    I’ve known Guy for a long time, and I’ve been a part of the church he goes to, in the past. Andrew sloppily writes about his subject, but he is not incorrect. Guy very bravely came out as gay in a church that regularly made fun of gay people from he pulpit as if there was nothing more normal up until Guy came out. I was here long, long before, after and now. That could not have been easy and I don’t envy him, even now.

    His stance on homosexuality and Christianity is as backwards and wrong as it gets. For all the supporters of what he said, what possible evidence could you have for such bizarre statements? Guy believes (or believed in the past) that all homosexuals are a result of sexual abuse as a young child. This is a more or less popular belief held by many people trying to not deal with the reality of biology. There are probably a lot of men who are gay and were sexually abused or experienced sexual playing with peers when they were young. There are even more straight men that way, too. Various people in the past have commented and noted that men’s first sexual experiences are usually with other males and when they are young. Not pedophilia, sexual abuse or anything. Sexual experiences within your own peer group and with people of your general age.

    People who use the sexual abuse argument are grasping at straws and hoping to pin what they perceive as sin as the result of someone else’s sin..This is much like the argument that no animals in nature have long-term gay relationships. Since many Christians don’t even take evolution into account, I can’t see how this could matter as evidence. But, for those that do, the brand of animal humans are – chimps – do not have monogamous relationships of any kind and do participate in sexual play if all sorts as a way to be social, among other things. The point being that monogamy is a construct in that context, so a long term gay relationship is very much the kind of construct a human might adopt. As is a long term hetero relationship, yet another construct.

    The bottom line is this: Guy Hammond does not spend his time with gay people. He spends it with straight people apologizing for gay people. His sample size for gay experience is himself and any other gay people feeling like they should be Christian and not gay in that specific fashion. But as a life-lesson for all gay men he is way, way off. He is delicately not dealing with reality.

    And he knows it. Which is why I feel bad for him.

  • Curious

    It is completely illogical to think anyone can write without bias. There is no definitive way to measure the amount one is influenced by something as to negate its effect by being influenced the same amount by its opposite (which in itself is impossible to say unless one were to go extremely vague: chocolate vs. not chocolate). So the writer said what he had to say, with which the premise is being gay is not a problem or something to be fixed. But I feel that chalking up sexual orientation up to a limited number of choices is foolish in itself. People with purely heterosexual desires differ in how they are attracted to the opposite sex as do people with purely homosexual desires (I’m speculating on this point.) So the ways in which someone is heterosexual and homosexual differs in there own “subgroups.” But “sexual orientation” is kind of an ignorant classification when I think about it at least. Everybody I have ever met has some sort of attraction for both sexes be it sexual or platonic and they all differ. To boil attraction into same sex vs. opposite sex is both vague and ineffective, but in order to do it properly a large number of subgroups would be needed to describe ones sexuality. And mind you this is still a small part of what makes up a person’s self. All the parts effect each other part so the whole is different then just the sum of its parts because of the interactions. Now, I say all of that to say this, an individual’s sexuality is the result of that individual’s life and experience, be it they have had the inclination towards same or opposite sex since they could realize attraction or if it developed through circumstances.

    I am a Christian and I have heterosexual desires but I am unmarried so any sexual activity is sinful ( or contrary to God’s nature). Only until am I married am I able to have sex within a godly context. God has said for man he is to marry woman, unite with her to become one flesh actually. But the God of the Bible does not condone marriage to one of the same sex, thus sex between the same sex is sin.

    If you are not a Christian I have no idea what moral compass you follow (and I mean that with genuine ignorance, because I can’t read minds) and as a result your definition, let alone standard, of right and wrong differs vastly from my own. Having a discussion of right and wrong without addressing the source of the dichotomy is like arguing why Van Gogh is better than Picasso. So… yeah:)

    If you read this I apologize if my grammar or spelling is wrong please feel free to correct me as you see fit:)

  • L.A. Christian

    I can understand how you can have a view such as this, but it’s not about imprisonment. Submission to God means understanding his love for us 1st. and how deep it runs. Understanding this makes it easy to live God’s way. -Unfortunately most don’t care about understanding this love first, nor do they care about investigating.

    God creates order and simplicity in life. However, most of the world does not submit to God, and what kind of state is it in? Unwanted pregnancy, STD’s, broken homes and so on. If this is the best we can do with our own thinking, don’t you think it’s time we considered God’s point of view?

    Modern psychology points to a breakdown of father/son and mother/daughter bonding relationships in early childhood resulting in homosexuality. God doesn’t make mistakes, you may want to consider that he would not create someone with same sex desires from the womb. The choice is up to you to investigate. I hope you chose to.

  • Dave

    As someone who knows Guy personally,I can say that it would be difficult to find a more kind and compassionate human being.I only wish Andrew could have spent some time with Guy.I find it interesting that Andrew’s emotionally-charges article is filled with the things that do not define Guy such as bitterness,resentfulness,intollerance and selfrighteousness.Andrew you need to consider what defines you and not allow your writing as a platform to discredit others,but instead to relay other people’s opinions objectively.

  • Outwiththeoldinwith Denoux

    Well if you study out the subjects of the Old and New Testaments you would find that the Old Testament doesn’t apply (in terms of the laws) to anyone after the death and Resurrection of Jesus. Testament means covenant or promise. Therefore the Old Testament was for the people of that time and when Jesus came He provided a new promise for everyone and took on our sin so that those laws don’t apply to us. This is why Jesus constantly talks about the heart opposed to the law, unlike the Pharisees. (Matthew 12:1-14) (Matthew 9:14-17) There are scriptures that directly speak on the law of the Old Testament and how Jesus changed the view the law. (Romans 3:9-20 being one)

    The Old Testament describes the sacrificial system God gave the Israelites to temporarily cover their sins. The New Testament clarifies that this system alluded to the sacrifice of Christ through whom alone salvation is found (Acts 4:12; Hebrews 10:4-10). The Old Testament saw paradise lost; the New Testament shows how paradise was regained for mankind through the Christ and how it will one day be restored. The Old Testament declares that man was separated from God through sin (Genesis chapter 3), and the New Testament declares that man can now be restored in his relationship to God (Romans chapters 3–6). The Old Testament predicted the Messiah’s life. The Gospels primarily record Jesus’ life, and the disciples interpret His life and how we are to respond to all He has done.

    In summary, the Old Testament lays the foundation for, and was meant to prepare the Israelites for, the coming of the Messiah who would sacrifice Himself for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). The New Testament shares the life of Jesus Christ and then looks back on what He did and how we are to respond to His gift of eternal life and live our lives in gratitude for all He has done for us (Romans 12). Both testaments reveal the same holy, merciful, and righteous God who must condemn sin but who desires to bring to Himself a fallen human race of sinners through the forgiveness only possible through Christ’s atoning sacrifice. In both testaments, God reveals Himself to us and how we are to come to Him through Jesus Christ. In both testaments, we find all we need for eternal life and godly living (2 Timothy 3:15-17). Following the Bible is great! Hope this helps your view.

  • honesty

    wow…I’m sorry you felt unwelcome as one who would be proud to claim the Alpha and Omega group as brothers and sisters, I’m sure they were more afraid that a true point would be missed in the context of our generation then of you being someone who they just wouldn’t associate with. after reading this, it would seem that the one thing separating the reader, the writer and the speaker would be context. its hard to speak of Godly things when people only want to to hear what will cure the itch in their ears. and by nature and biblical definition that is never the case. You made some interesting assessments but it seems that you may have been a bit exploitative as well as, having an idea of what you were looking for and only adhering to that. An unadulterated article is probably what i had more in mind when i saw the article.

  • NonStr8Christian

    Sounds like Hell to me. You sign on the dotted line and hand that along with your soul over to Satan….. and….poof….. your hetero.

  • NonStr8Christian

    agreed!

  • NonStr8Christian

    Darwin was at least bisexual himself. If I am correct in my high school history lessons. His primary job whilest on his voyage was to keep the captain “happy”. And no homosexuality does not lead to the survival of a species, but it also doesn’t negatively impact said species you fucking twit.

  • Bill M.

    “Gays CAN help being the way they are.”

    You, sir, are a grade-A homophobe. Not everything is about survival, dickwad.

  • Ken

    This is the most ignorant thing I’ve ever read.

  • ContextSensitive

    Leviticus 3:17 says in context that we can’t eat any fat. I hope you’ve never eaten bacon. Exodus 21:15 says in context that if we hit our parents, we must die. I hope you’ve never hit your parents, even as a baby or child.

    Have fun following the Bible!

  • NoThanks

    So I just submit myself to another person who I have to constantly recognize as omnipotent and ever-powerful over me, undergo extensive repentance for the things I do “wrong,” and deny myself of my true personal sexuality? Where do I sign up!

  • Biased Reporter

    Hey, genius. It’s an opinion piece. Clearly marked as such. Andrew isn’t afraid to express his opinion under his own name, unlike anyone else who has posted here. And he knows how to use ‘you’re’. Andrew Henry win.

  • amazed

    Spot on.

  • amazed

    How can you even use the words “heinous and immoral?”. I hope you enjoyed your freedom to express your thoughts. That was irresponsible. On this subject, you obviously don’t read the bible, in context. “Being straight isn’t a prerequisite to being Christian”…NO, being homosexual “is” a prerequisite to “not” being a Christian. Can’t get into heaven by living that way, and that simply says it’s not natural…it’s choice. Context. Read the bible on this subject in context.

  • Theophilus

    Yours is a curious column, Andrew. It appears you haven’t thought things through very well. The Bible clearly condemns the practice of homosexuality as sinful (just like it condemns adultery, murder, lying and so on). I do not believe at all that people are born with homosexual leanings. Instead, I think they are “imprinted” that way in early childhood by quasi-erotic experiences. I have know many male homosexuals in my life and, to a man, they were all sexually abused as children. I myself was sexually abused by a married man for 3 years as a pre-teen. Why wasn’t I imprinted with such a leaning then? Because when I was 7, one year before I began getting abused, a pretty blond girl 4 years my senior invited me to her house one day and, when we were there, pulled up my shirt and tickled me for about 10 minutes. I have never had a homosexual desire in my life, despite being molested by a man (who gave me pornography as a kind of carrot). God does not find being born blind (or retarded or with a particular skin color) sinful. They can’t help that. Gays CAN help being they way they are. It is admittedly sad that many people are imprinted in the wrong way by the sinful actions of others – especially since it is SO agonizing to have to fight a battle you did not choose. But Guy is proof positive that homosexual leanings can, in fact, be overcome. I believe he is happily married with children.

    What befuddles me about people such as yourself, who adamantly advance a contrary position, is that long term homosexuality is not practiced in the animal world (the only “scientific study” claiming one species appears to do just that was written by a homosexual) and, from a Darwinian perspective (for those who believe in Darwin’s theory), homosexual relations do NOT lead to the survival of a species. It is, in short, a maladaptive form of behavior (ironically, humans are the only species that can circumvent this reality by artificial means). In short, your views make NO logical sense. They are merely the outpouring of emotion. Use your head, please.

  • holinessistheanswer

    Guy never said that being heterosexual was a prerequisite to being Christian because that is not what he believes, you were right in that. He believes in the pursuit of holiness, not heterosexuality…thus the term “same-sex attracted”. The goal is holiness, and according to the bible choosing to engage in homosexual activity is not striving toward holiness, just like a heterosexual choosing to have sex outside of marriage is not holy. The temptation may always be there, but when you live for God, you no longer care about satisfying the desires of your flesh. If you expect others to be open-minded about your position, try doing the same instead of making assumptions based on an already biased/defensive position.

  • L.A. Christian

    I think it’s refreshing to see someone stand up for God for a change. Unfortunately, some people seem to choose skepticism and mistrust as a first response such as the writer of this article and many with a pro-gay position. If only those individuals would take the time to consider that God wants to a better life for all of us, and homosexuality is just one of many things on a long list many of us can struggle with. Ask any devoted Christian and they will say that submission to God brings true freedom, even though it comes at the cost of denying oneself of what most people would consider accepted by most society. A paradox I know, but it works!

  • You go Guy!

    So true! If you have read what God’s word says and believe it is truly the written words of God and value it, none of this would be an issue. Sonthisnis realluly a matter of ‘do you believe the bible?’

  • Just sharing

    Well, Andrew you took a good shot at demeaning Guy’s message, to be considerate is a unique quality, in this self centered world,. Andrew do you know anything about the bible? Guy’s message had biblical references, where did yours come from?
    to God be the Glory

  • thecostofthecross

    I couldn’t have said it better.

  • A Believer

    My question is, “What do you expect a Christian minister to say about homosexuality?” Do you expect for him to change what the Bible says about it if the Bible is his standard? I think that what he is doing is admirable…and much like Jesus – teaching people to love the person while hating the sin. Of course, if you haven’t made a decision to make the Bible the standard for your life, then this teaching wouldn’t make sense. Jesus’ teachings of grace AND truth didn’t make sense to the majority of the people in his generation either!

  • God

    Actually, I think this article is pretty spot-on.

  • Brett

    Great…another biased reporter in training using the freedom of press for his own personal, self righteous platform. It’s pretty clear for this reader why you were asked to not misquote. You might try citing some facts impartially next time. Or at least judge yourself with the same criticality your using on others.

  • Bam