One of the most prominent figures in the “ex-gay” community has left the movement, and apologized to anyone he’ hurt. For more than two decades, John Smid ran “Love in Action,” Exodus International’ flagship ministry based in Memphis, Tennessee. Last week, he explained the realization that led him to LEAVE “Love in Action” — and why he won’t be practicing conversion therapy anymore.
Smid: “I think it’ a very personal issue. I think it has to be between us and God in terms of how we live our lives. And ultimately, if someone knows that Jesus loves them, he’ going to work it out, and I can’t be the judge and jury on that.”
Smid says he is himself “ex-gay”. He says his new ministry, Grace Rivers, will HELP people who are, in his words, “impacted by homosexuality” — but he says he won’t try to change them.
Smid: “The threshhold of change, and I looked back all through the years, realizing everyone who had dramatic change was because they touched the heart of Jesus, me included. And so that’ the point. I’m not trying to contrive change anymore.”
Smid says while he no longer believes in conversion therapy — he still considers gay sex and homosexuality to be a sin. And this is where activists like Wayne Besen of Ex-gay watchdog “Truth Wins Out” say Smid comes up short.
Besen: “The core of his message still remains in tact, and that’ that homosexuality is wrong, and that gay couples are committing sin. And really that part of the message is what’ so damaging — and until he disavows that part of his message, his apology remains incomplete.”
Besen says the apology was a step in the right direction for Smid — and is an indicator that the Ex-Gay movement is on the decline. He says leaders in the Ex-Gay movement have not yet responded to Smid’ statement, and that they are probably “not in any rush” to do so.