By Doug Mainwaring
Netflix recently debuted a documentary titled Pray Away, aimed at discrediting reparative therapy for those who experience unwanted same-sex attraction while also undermining and impugning the testimonies of legions of men and women who have left homosexual lives behind and who continue to experience freedom in Christ.
The movie profiles several early leaders of the “ex-gay” movement — epitomized in the now defunct Exodus International organization — which began in the 1970s, and who have since disavowed their participation and returned to homosexual lives.
Pray Away comes at a time when the number of people who formerly identified as homosexual or transgender is on the rise and are becoming increasingly visible in the public square via the “Changed Movement” and “Freedom Marches” which have been held in major cities across America.
It also comes at a time when new research studies are underscoring the damage being done by the widespread suppression of sexual orientation change efforts for those seeking to deal with unwanted same-sex attraction.
Nobody was told go home and ‘pray away the gay’
“I was first struck by the misleading nature of the title, ‘Pray Away,’” said Joe Dallas, director of Genesis Christian Counseling in California, in an online video discussion hosted by Restored Hope Network. “I don’t recall anybody telling anyone that if you were dealing with same-sex attractions, just go home and pray them away.”
As a young man, Dallas, now 66, was an active homosexual and has since devoted his life to ministering to the same-sex attracted.
“As I recall, we had sponsored conferences for decades to help equip people to deal with their sexual feelings,” said Dallas. “So, it’s quite a misrepresentation to say that we that we have simply offered the advice, ‘pray away.’”
The end game is to tell the Church what it may or may not say about sin
Those behind the film “are misleading people into believing what God has declared a sin is in fact now something that God has declared to be righteous,” noted Dallas.
Dallas said that the term “conversion therapy” is misleading and used as a pejorative to describe counseling offered to those dealing with unwanted same-sex attractions.
“As long as homosexual people exist, there will be homosexual people who come to Christ. As long as homosexual people are coming to Christ, there will be people who realize that homosexuality is not God’s will. And as long as there are [homosexual] people coming to the church who realize that homosexuality is not God’s will, they’re going to look for support and direction.”
“The end game is to tell the Church what it may or may not say about sin.”
Bottom line of Pray Away: Punishing the same-sex attracted who follow their convictions
“The bottom of this film is that if you’re gay, and your convictions would lead you out of the gay community and towards a life that would be ‘heteronormative,’ that would reflect a biblical sexual ethic, you are internalizing your own homophobia, and you are at fault,” she observed.
Members of Changed unanimously declare, “We left LGBTQ beacause we wanted to.”
Ann Paulk, founder of Restored Hope Network drew attention to the stunning similarity of Pray Away’s makers’ messaging to that of the Westboro Baptist Church, whose members have displayed protest placards proclaiming “F*gs can’t repent.”
Interestingly, Paulk, a former lesbian, was once married to John Paulk, one of the former leaders of Exodus International prominently featured in Pray Away.
The movie asserts that large numbers of those who try to escape homosexuality become suicidal because they are deny their true selves.
“Nothing made me more suicidal than believing my life and whole identity was wrapped up in having sex with men,” said Gabriel Pagan, pastor at Love Revolution Church and a former homosexual man, now married to his wife and the father of one with two on the way.
“I have yet to be convinced or shown what makes someone gay outside of sex and knowing that – I was dying from lack of purpose and identity until Jesus saved me,” continued Pagan in a Facebook posting. “My story is literally one of thousands of people who are daily waking up to the goodness of God and choosing to carry our cross out of love for Jesus.”
Don’t pray away the gay; pray away pride and repent
Pray Away is “yet another thinly veiled attack on Christianity by Hollywood,” said Beckett Cook, another former homosexual in a commentary titled, Netflix’s ‘Pray Away’ Seethes with Contempt for Christianity.
Cook should know: He spent much of his career working in Hollywood.
“The secular world will eagerly lap up this one-dimensional film with a side of relish,” he continued. “Misunderstanding and mischaracterizing the Christian life is a favorite pastime of Hollywood—as I know from experience. Faithful Christians are consistently portrayed as buffoons while, in this particular film, the ex-ex-gays are beacons of enlightenment.”
“But do not be deceived,” cautioned Cook, author of A Change of Affection: A Gay Man’s Incredible Story of Redemption and host of The Becket Cook Show on YouTube. “Eternity will show that those who choose to live according to God’s beautiful purposes for sexuality — rather than taking pride in their own self-made sexual morality, however acceptable it becomes — are the ones on the real right side of history.”
“My plea to those in the LGBTQ community is to realize this before it’s too late — not to ‘pray away the gay,’ but to pray away your pride and repent. The treasure of eternal life with Jesus is worth the struggle of living a wisp of time here with longings unresolved and desires denied,” he concluded.
Greg Quinlan, one of many former LGBTQ who came to Washington, D.C. in June to lobby against the so-called “Equality Act,” which threatens to hinder severely those seeking to deal with unwanted same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria, made a simple statement which crumbles the foundation of Pray Away.