Sy Rogers – is his message homosexual re-orientation?

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Sy Rogers – is his message homosexual re-orientation?

Sy Rogers is back in the country, speaking on Christian radio, Christian City Churches and the Hillsong Colour Conference.

Since I first published The Sy Rogers Story (An Anthony Venn-Brown Perspective) in 2010 it has become one of the top five most read articles on my site.  It’s definitely time for an update.

Sy Rogers was actually at the forefront of the ex-gay/reparative therapy (later to be known as conversion therapy or gay conversion therapy) movement globally and was particularly involved in the setting of up of Exodus here in Australia, Asia and South America. In 1990 he based himself in Singapore and established an ex-gay ministry called Choices.

I first met with Sy in 2007 when he responded to my request for a meeting. He was presenting his Sense and Sexuality seminar at Hillsong Church. When I spoke about my deep concern for young LGBT people growing up in Pentecostal and Evangelical churches, one of the things he said to me was “I no longer preach a re-orientation message” and proceeded to talk about the many years it had been since he had any involvement with Exodus International. Whilst it may have been true that he hadn’t been involved at a leadership level for some time he did speak at the Exodus Freedom Conference in Marion, Indiana only the year before.

Sy’s statement the night we met, “I no longer preach a re-orientation message” of course means I no longer preach that gay people can become straight. This had been his message for decades.

We had agreed on confidentiality at our meeting, so I didn’t feel at liberty to share this revelation publicly. Knowing his audio and video resources were treated as the final word/authority on homosexuality I encouraged Sy via email to state his new belief publicly and clearly.  He ignored my requests except once, when he had moved his family into a new church home in Auckland, and said that it was not his preferred time to cause any public controversy.

Over the years, several minister friends have told me that Sy made the same statement to them about no longer preaching a reorientation message.  So, the question remains “why hasn’t Sy clearly and publicly stated his current belief?” (If he has done this publicly then I stand corrected.)

Considering his entire ministry has been built on the false premise that he was once gay but is now straight, Christian congregations continue to make very damaging assumptions. His messages are clouded with non-defined spiritual terminology such as sexual brokenness, same-sex attraction and transformation that is vague and far from helpful. The implications of these veiled messages harms way more than just gay and lesbian people themselves. I know Sy Rogers would not preach a completely affirming message, but to no longer say “God makes gay people straight”, is a step in the right direction. This of course also means that the term “gay Christian” is not an oxymoron.

Many people have contacted me whose lives were negatively affected by Sy’s “God can change you message.” A mid 20-year-old man told me that his parents forced him to listen to Sy Rogers tapes. He says these caused immense internal conflict which led to depression. Now he has accepted the fact that he is gay, he no longer has a relationship with his parents. they still hold on to their original position “If Sy can change so can you. You didn’t  try hard enough”.

Another, a 40-year-old man who had been involved in Exodus here in Australia for 20 years and used to promote the Sy Rogers story and resources. His words tell it all. “I was sold a very cruel lie’. One my wife and children are currently trying to painfully unravel.”

These are not isolated incidences. There have been four decades of this and it is still going on. A Pentecostal minister from the Central Coast recently said on Facebook “once gay always gay is completely unproven and a lie trapping people into something that is unchangeable….. perhaps you should review the Sy Rogers story as a means of understanding much of what my view is like”

Personally, if I knew that my outdated materials were splitting up  Christian parents and their children, creating depression, mental health issues, thoughts of and attempts to suicide, I’d be horrified and do all I could to correct that. It just needs a simple and very clear statement. At the very least a clear and simple statement. What, of course, would be far better would be a sincere and genuine apology for the decades of devastation his message “you are broken, God can heal you” has wrought in the lives of countless LGBT people.

John Smid did it. Alan Chambers did it. Randy Thomas did it.

Sy…..you have my email address. Contact me.

© Anthony Venn-Brown

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By | 2017-07-07T03:43:45+00:00 March 6th, 2017|Categories: Church, Conversion therapy|Tags: , |7 Comments

About the Author:

Anthony Venn-Brown
Anthony Venn-Brown is one of Australia’s foremost commentators on faith and sexuality. His best-selling autobiography 'A Life of Unlearning – a preacher’s struggle with his homosexuality, church and faith', detailing his journey from married, high profile preacher in Australia's growing mega-churches, such as Hillsong, to living as an openly gay man, has impacted 1,000's globally. Anthony was the co-founder and former leader of Freedom 2 b[e], Australia’s largest network of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people from Christian backgrounds. He is also an educator and consultant on LGBT/faith issues and leader in deconstructing the 'ex-gay' myth. Anthony is the founder and CEO of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International and has been twice voted ‘One of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians’ (2007 & 2009).

7 Comments

  1. Steve Erickson March 6, 2017 at 11:27 pm - Reply

    Any chance you’ve heard from Sy? Your description of his behavior sounds like common two-faced hypocrisy: telling LGBT people and/or progressive ministers what they want to hear while allowing conservative homophobes to continue believing in his earlier message. I hope he comes to the point that the former leaders of Exodus have.

    • Anthony Venn-Brown
      Anthony Venn-Brown March 8, 2017 at 4:30 am - Reply

      Not at this stage. I’m keen to talk one on one with him privately as we have done before.

  2. Janelle March 19, 2017 at 4:33 am - Reply

    As a Christian mum of a trans gay teen I’m very concerned about what people may be hearing this weekend at the colour conference. It’s too late once it’s been said but will you be able to get a copy of his talk? Thanks

    • Anthony Venn-Brown
      Anthony Venn-Brown March 23, 2017 at 11:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks Janelle……and what they might hear could quite possibly reinforce negative preconceived ideas and ignorance on the topic.

  3. Marty March 24, 2017 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    I can assure you the intention of well intended Christians is to continue the “Sy Rogers story” of redemption from homosexuality. I was invited to a Sy Rogers message at a South Australian church a few years ago by a well meaning fellow worker. At the time she did not tell me Sy was the speaker. To assume I needed to hear his story was the height of Christian arrogance. I “played the Pentecostal” game and many who don’t know me thought I was an exemplary evangelical example. Suffice to conclude I was offended by my inviter and Sy Rogers ultimate message; while he didn’t specifically spell it out, the implications of his story remain unchanged. As a ‘mature aged’ person I can deflect the confusion this would cause for someone less spiritually, emotionally, and mentally mature.
    I remain unimpressed by both Sy and any church that seeks his message.

  4. Gary May 9, 2017 at 5:10 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing this. This is HUGE! I did my time being lied to at Exodus conferences, massaged by Colin Cook (Homosexuals Annonymous co founder) and counseling with a couple of Exodus board members for about 5-6 years back in the 80’s. Joseph Nicolosi died 2 months ago, and an American prime time (“20/20”) segment on reparitive therapy aired in March. Your news re: Sy and his deliberate doublespeak is
    fraught with important implications for vunerable youth and “You can become straight” party line of so many churches and quack Christian counselors! Incidentally, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard that Sy, (on the “downlow”) has backpeddled on his message in private with some Christian heavy hitters! Thanks again, Gary

    • Anthony Venn-Brown
      Anthony Venn-Brown May 9, 2017 at 5:33 am - Reply

      thanks Gary….if it is true as a number of us have either heard or are assuming and Sy continues to keep it out of the public arena….well I guess we would all have to come to our own conclusions as to why he would do that.

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