The organization, based in Memphis, TN, has been helping people of all ages overcome homosexuality, but a renewed awakening for the organization occurred in May when one teenager in Memphis wrote on his blog that he was gay and would be attending Love in Action at the request of his parents. Will Love in Action succeed turning the boy around?
Another blogger, E.J. Friedman of Memphis, chimed in (virtually,) and the boy's comments quickly spread across the Internet... eventually leading to real-time protests at the Love in Action building, as well as a state of Tennessee child abuse investigation into the family's life, which was dropped.
The 16-year-old's father, Joe Stark, told CBN News that he and his wife "felt very good about Zach coming here," to Love in Action, "to let him see for himself the destructive lifestyle, what he has to face in the future, and to give him options that society doesn't give him today."
From the boy's blog, which shows its most recent update of 3 June 2005, he posted the rules and regulations of Love in Action. Love in Action says the rules are not a public document, and Think & Ask will not reprint.
However, the boy posted a message following three days of isolation (first step of the program) at Love in Action:
Hi. I'm not sure if I'm even supposed to be on. I ran away for a short while. I came back and they took everything from me, they don't want me to have outside influences-- i dont know how long im going to be on, because if tehy wake up, im screwed. The program starts June 6 and is until either teh 17th or the 20th. I'm sorry I don't have time to write back o all of the comments and messages. I'm just here to let everyone know I am still alive, I'm sure you've left messages on my cellphone, they took that.. and my keys... and the computer.. and I've been homebound. -=sigh=- I just need this to be over. Don't worry. I'll get through this. They've promised me things will get better whether this program does anything or not. Let's hope they aren't lying. I've been through hell. I've been emotionally torn apart for three days... I can't remember which days they were.. time's not what it used to be.
As of 16 July 2005 (on myspace blog under "specialkid") 2,641 comments were added by other bloggers --mostly by young men-- and most if not all in support of his fate. (Editors at Think & Ask did not read all two thousand plus comments.)
Love in Action would not comment to the boy's blog, as they would not confirm nor deny the boy was undergoing treatment due to confidentiality agreements.
"There is no such creation as a gay or homosexual person," Love in Action's website says. "There is only homosexual attraction and behavior; accordingly, there can be no change from a sexual identity that never existed in the first place."
Love in Action contends that by one's willingness and submission to "God," the power of the Holy Spirit will "cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
As part of its mission, Love in Action calls the modern definition of homosexuality a lie, but admits there is not yet evidence to support or reject biological causation of homosexual desires.
"If we define homosexuality as an identity, and inborn characteristic or a hormonal imbalance, there is no answer or hope. If, however, we call it what it really is - a struggle with sinful desires and behavior - then throughout Scripture we're given ways to handle it," Love in Action reports.
Some myths Love in Action clears up about homosexuality include:
Love in Action provides a number of programs, ranging from 14 days to 20 weeks, and a number of testimonials of successful de-programming of the homosexual lifestyle. One program graduate, Michael Miller, details early childhood sexual abuse, which led to many childhood sexual encounters with both boys and girls. But after one relationship he encountered with a male friend, his psychologist recommended he investigate Love in Action.
Miller attended the Refuge program, for those under the age of 18. He writes, "On the third day, I gave my introduction, a powerful tool to release shame, where I share a list of my sins, a sexual-sin experience, a change, and a goal. After my introduction, my staff worker, Danny Cosby, said 'I don't think you're being real with us.' I was totally crushed. Me not being real? Who gave him permission to see behind the mask? And then reality struck and I saw that I was performing."
But it was through opening up to God, that Miller was able to unravel many private "masks" about his personality and set himself free.
Another graduate of the program, Mike Haley, describes how detachment from his father led him to seek male companionship. For a number of years Haley lived a "double life" while hiding his sexual encounters through college and seminary school. But after joining the Love in Action program, Haley writes, "God has given me a newness of life and a freedom I never thought possible. Now I can look in the mirror without feeling torn by guilt and remorse. My needs for acceptance from men are being met through the friends God has given me. And I'm experiencing His love in new ways, too. My deepest needs are finally being met."
Statics show about 4 in 100 identify as homosexual in the United States. Whether or not the teenager, whose parents say is currently in treatment for homosexuality at Love in Action, is another success testimonial will only be determined through time.
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