Three hardline “ex-gay” board members of the Restored Hope Network — Anne Paulk, Stephen Black, and Robert Gagnon — responded Tuesday to veteran “ex-gay” leader John Paulk’s public repudiation of deceitful ex-gay ideology.
Anne Paulk, estranged wife of John, is a bisexual woman with no apparent lesbian experience who nevertheless claims to be a “former lesbian.” She also is a former Exodus International board member. Anne kept her failed marriage secret from RHN supporters for several years, as she continued to use the marriage as proof that she isn’t lesbian or bisexual. On Monday she posted to Facebook:
“Challenges have been mine over the past several years… not of my own design, but I have stood true in the profound strength I found in Christ Jesus. I have walked the path that God has put before me, alongside those I love. There are also certain paths I have refused to walk down, dark and dangerous paths of deceit and sin. Someone dear to me has made different choices followed by very different words. And there, on that path, our ways part sadly.
“Many of you already know, and some have yet to know, that John and I are in the process of divorce. I do pray the very best for John and I have a greater love and affection than can be expressed in words. He is the father of my children, the man with whom I spent the past 21 years building a life together. His conclusions and mine are very different in key ways. I would ask that you join me in praying for his decisions regarding his future, hope, God’s truest freedom, and love to direct his decisions. Please also pray for the boys and myself as we also find our way forward.
“Besides the personal statement above, I will be releasing a public statement as it becomes relevant. This is all that I would like to share concerning my marriage on Facebook… As I do media interviews, my focus is on getting the word out about Restored Hope Network and what God can do in a surrendered life. Christ is still at work changing lives into conformity with God’s will expressed in the Bible. I also realize that my life experiences have given me an invaluable empathy for those who suffer various types of grief and loss.”
But then Anne added an accusatory footnote:
“All questions regarding John’s personal life and words should be directed to him. I have been true to my marriage vows and true to Christ. Though my heart has been tremendously grieved by John’s words and moral choices, I have chosen–and will continue to choose–to follow Christ, care for my boys, and serve Restored Hope Network. Please pray for John as he makes choices regarding his future.”
What words and what moral choices? Anne insinuates, but doesn’t explain. Nor does she provide a link to John’s words, so that readers may develop their own informed opinions.
And what’s that about “my boys”? How about “our boys,” since John isn’t dead?
Meanwhile Stephen Black, also a co-leader of RHN, posted a lengthy rant on his “ex-gay” website against those who leave behind the ex-gay movement, citing its false promises and its smear campaigns. Black patches together numerous Bible verses that have nothing to do with sexual orientation; falsifies statistics about “ex-gay” success rates; presents a series of unsupported strawman arguments which he says represent a monolithic and evil gay ideology; and presents his own misguided gossip and incompetent Biblical scholarship as God’s true word.
Robert Gagnon, yet another Restored Hope Network leader, posted to Facebook:
Here’s the approach of Exodus to John Paulk who refused to commit to his wife Anne to remain sexually faithful to her and is now embracing a sinful identity, minimizing sin, and legitimizing it to some degree. It will give you an idea of how much Exodus has strayed from its original mission: The article is by Randy Thomas, the Executive Vice President of Exodus International.
“I told him that while I related to him more after his gay bar visit in 2000, I could relate to him even more now that he is genuinely questioning past actions and motivations. While I don’t agree with all of his conclusions he shared on the phone, I can say I agree with about 95% of what he shared including renouncing the term ‘ex-gay.’’ I love that he is pursuing the true meaning of God’s grace…. Listening to John and his apparent newfound depth of honesty made me happy for him…. He is a beautiful soul, committed to excellence, and now more authentic than I have ever known him to be…. John, … I love that you are wrestling with various issues with humility and honesty. In His grip of grace, you are safe. I will pray for you as you seek to serve, love, and honor God and others.”
Doesn’t much sound like Paul’s treatment of the case of the incestuous man at Corinth (1 Cor 5; cp. 6:9-11), does it? Randy plays the role of judge by assuring John that he is “safe in the grip of God’s grace” no matter what path of immorality he pursues. And yet Paul warned the Corinthians, the Galatians, and the Thessalonians of exactly the opposite, namely: As I told you when I was with you and am telling you again: The sexually immoral and other offenders will not inherit the kingdom of God. Are Randy and the Exodus folk just more loving than Paul, the apostle who told us to speak the truth in love and wrote the great love chapter in 1 Cor 13? I don’t think the leadership at Exodus knows anymore what love truly is. There is nothing to celebrate in John Paulk’s actions and yet the gist of the post is celebratory. There ought to be mourning instead, as Paul warned the Corinthians (1 Cor 5:2). I mourn for our brother John Paulk.
This just illustrates the need for an alternative to Exodus.
Grace, humility — appreciation for John Paulk’s honesty — all are lacking here.
What isn’t lacking: Sentiments that border on blasphemy.
RHN board members claim to speak for God, butcher Bible verses, alienate children from their gay parents, blame straight parents for their children’s sexual orientation, gossip about departed colleagues, condemn honesty about one’s orientation, play host to Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, and in 2009 — while leaders of Exodus ministries — they prolonged Exodus’ involvement in Uganda’s push to enact “kill-the-gays” legislation.
The extreme words and deeds of RHN exemplify all Seven Deadly Sins:
- A proud look
- A lying tongue
- Hands that shed innocent blood
- A heart that devises wicked plots
- Feet that are swift to run into mischief
- A deceitful witness that uttereth lies
- Him that soweth discord among brethren
Until RHN leaders realize and acknowledge this, other former leaders will continue to repudiate “ex-gay” extremism, and Christians and the general public will continue their gradual march away from socially conservative laws and the fake-healing merchants that profit from them.