When I was tipped off that an “ex-gay” writer for the Christian Post may have been using a dating site for gay men, I had two options. I could keep quiet and let others handle this, or I could do something about it. And when I saw that no one else was going to address this, I made the decision to go public about it. I first wrote about the simple facts of the matter: that someone on Grindr was using the name, age, location, and photo of Matt Moore, a self-declared former homosexual. I then contacted Moore himself, who personally confirmed to me that this was his own profile, and I published this admission as well.
Some people have argued that outing Moore was an invasion of his privacy and an unnecessary exposure of his personal life. Others say this is little more than shaming someone who’s obviously struggling with his sexuality and his faith. Some have even claimed that since Moore regards his orientation as an addiction he’s fighting, much like that of an alcoholic or drug user, exposing him publicly is tantamount to criticizing someone for “falling off the wagon”.
I don’t see any of these critiques as legitimate. Matt Moore has already made what would otherwise be his private life into the cornerstone of a very public argument. As recently as last week, Moore was writing about the “real power” of his testimony of “leaving homosexuality”. Moore stated:
…what I believe speaks volumes of the grace of God and the power of the gospel, is that year by year, month by month, week by week, day by day – I continue to fight the fight of faith. I have sought after Jesus and I have turned from sin daily.
This is not merely a personal stance of his. It is a message to a wider audience. In his earlier document, “A Biblical Perspective on Homosexuality”, Moore wrote:
The Spirit of Christ transforms the persons life – day by day, making them more and more into the likeness of their Lord – and ridding them more and more of the corruption that the presence of sin has caused in their hearts.
He’s also targeted children with his call to “conversion”. In a post titled “Dear Gay Kid”, he describes his life as an openly gay man as being full of meaningless and unsafe sex, and devoid of healthy and fulfilling relationships. He claims this “lifestyle” is “driven by sex and indulgence, not by ‘love’”. And he tells queer youth that they need God to “rescue” them from “eternal condemnation”.
So, how has that been working out for him? This is a relevant question. Of course, there are already plenty of other angles from which to attack the Christian “ex-gay” movement. Its metaphysics are just as unproven as those of any other religion, its interpretation of the Bible is just one among very many, and its notion that celibacy is the proper response to homosexuality contradicts both scientific evidence and human decency. These are all completely valid points, and even if Matt Moore did remain entirely abstinent, this would in no way support these ex-gay beliefs. But when he and the Christian Post have turned his personal testimony into a promotion for this movement, it’s equally crucial that we examine just how true that testimony really is.
Moore has set out to engage in a discussion about the morality of homosexuality, the desires of God, and the possibility of personal sexual change through faith. He has cited his own experience in support of the notion that devout Christianity can help people diminish and resist their homosexual inclinations. But if he has any interest whatsoever in an open and honest discussion about that, why should he be the only one who’s privy to the fact that this religious program has failed even himself? This fundamentally compromises the value of his testimony as evidence.
Why should the rest of us have to remain unaware of this, while he continues to deceive people about whether religion can change their sexuality? Not only is it hypocritical to present oneself as a model of sexual reformation when one is clearly anything but reformed. Such a substantial omission is just unfair to all the participants in a public debate such as this. He knows something we don’t, and he’s withholding information that impacts the soundness of his argument.
Revealing this vital information is anything but an act of shaming, and this is not some malicious and arbitrary outing of a random person who was simply going about their business. Plenty of people go looking for partners all the time, and this is certainly not deserving of shame. It’s not a problem that a gay man happened to be seeking the company of other gay men. Indeed, I hope he enjoyed himself. But his public complicity in the ex-gay movement is what makes this publicly relevant, and that complicity is what’s truly deserving of shame here.
I also don’t care if Moore regards his own inclinations as an “addiction”. I might consider it unhealthy and maladjusted of him, but that’s his business. However, it’s no longer just his business when he proposes that the rest of us ought to regard ourselves similarly. And we are in no way obligated to humor a twisted belief that treats our own loving relationships as no more than a relapse into an “addiction” that we would have resisted, if only we had been stronger.
This is about more than just Moore. There are people who are going to read his story, and it will lead them to believe that their gay son or daughter could become straight if they were just willing to try hard enough. By keeping up this charade, he continued to promote the idea that prayer was an effective remedy to homosexuality. Now, people can see for themselves just how effective this really is. And the sooner people understand that sexual orientation can’t be forcibly changed by this or any other means, the sooner they’ll stop trying to force such ineffective change on themselves and others.