This is my report on the events surrounding the movie “Journey Interrupted” in Pasadena. I’ve become new friends with Michael Carducci and Wayne Blakely, two of the four members of the independent ministry called “Coming Out Ministries” (COM). Both Michael and Wayne were present for this event.
The day before the screening (Friday) I was invited to lunch with the Pasadena SDA head Pastor along with Michael, Wayne, and the head elder. Over lunch we discussed the soon-to-erupt “protest” to the film, as well as various persons calling on the pastor to cancel the event. You read that correctly, the pastor was asked to cancel this event, citing the desire to avoid too much controversy (when has our SDA message ever been anything but controversial?). The Pastor smiled and said to us at the lunch table; “No way are we cancelling this!”
All throughout lunch, we talked about theology, distortions from within the church (ONE Project, anti-trinitarian message), and how the Holy Spirit had been opening up door after door for Coming out Ministries (side note: COM does NOT mean “coming out of the closet” but rather coming out of our former lives of sin and into the service for the Body of Christ - a truly universal Gospel message).
We also discussed that there were a growing number of secular foes to this event from a group called change.org as well as from SDA Kinship and Loma Linda University Professors and employees. A petition was planned to force this event from happening via pressure on the conference as well as to the City of Pasadena. You can see one of the petitions here:
That Friday afternoon, I went to check on FaceBook about this “petition.” What I read was simply unbelievable.
There were numerous accusations of “reparative therapy” being lobbed at COM, as well as the possible suicidal results that would take place among young gay children if they hear this message. Post after post NEVER discussed what was actually in the movie, but were full of overt and misleading statements.
“My son, an ally in his school, learned of a film being showed at Pasadena SDA Church this next Sabbath. He, and I are sick to our stomachs. This film is hurtful to the friends he supports and to all of you. Pray for the teens that will watch it, some out of choice, some because they have to!” This poster never actually saw the movie.
If you have a FaceBook account you can read for yourself the volume of false statements against “Journey Interrupted.” People were reiterating over and over everything EXCEPT what was actually in the film. The Pasadena SDA Church page on FaceBook, where the event was also announced, had some negative statements as well.
COM has NEVER endorsed reparative therapy or “change ministry” style of conversions. Wayne explained to me that these focus on the mechanicals of sex and often resultant forced marriage to the opposite gender as a “cure” for sin. This doesn’t work and it never will. Both Wayne and Michael have come into contact with numerous souls where this was forced on them, often with good intentions, only to end in spiritual and emotional disaster. COM proposes something so radical yet so biblical, I will explain this later on.
So, what is the film about? It’s about a journey of four individuals, all with different stories about various forms of physical, emotional, and spiritual trauma that lived deep within the gay culture. These testimonies are heart-wrenching and you could hear audible sobbing from the audience as their stories unrolled. Each COM ministry team talked about their background and joining the gay culture only to find more hurt and pain. The emptiness was the same, whether it be within a monogamous relationship or within the depths of sexual addiction. Each felt the call of the Holy Spirit to seek out “another way” which they were not living, sometimes even after coming to know Jesus.
The hard-hitting questions were well addressed; “Why was I born this way?”, “Why can’t I pray away the gay”, "Why didn't Jesus make this go away?" and so on. We witnessed their internal struggle of being pulled in the direction of God versus the direction of the world. Even the dusty old chestnuts of ignorance are discussed openly: “marriage is never a fix for sin”, and simply avoiding sexual behavior does not change one’s orientation. Michael’s dialogue in the film talked about his coming to Christ, being baptized and fully asking the Lord to help him, yet the temptations continued.
Triumphantly these journeys did NOT lead to depression, rejection, and failure, but led to a totally different understanding of what God wants for His children marked with the stain of sin. One of the COM speakers stated in the movie; "Some may have been born this way, but Jesus asks us to be born again.", There’s no more powerful statement to all of mankind. Yes, we are to change, but only through Christ and never of our own flaccid efforts.
The film packs in almost too much to process in one sitting. People in the audience were whispering; “I’m not gay, but this battle speaks to me as well”. After all, we are ALL to submit as servants to the Lord who died for us and promises a better inheritance (see Romans 6:13-16). The message is really about living the Gospel and not living according to the flesh. There is no theological or spiritual fault in this whatsoever.
Many who have no understanding of the struggles that our gay members have simply dismissed their battles; “You haven’t met the right girl yet”, or “you didn’t pray hard enough.” Imagine telling the paraplegic that, or someone who lost a child to an untimely death. Truly our understanding of sin and its affect must change in order to understand what God’s love is and how we are to overcome sin. Gay SDAs have had tremendous struggles - some committing suicide, others walking out the doors never to return.
Others have grappled onto“affirmation theology” that allows gay sex with the person you love: “After all, God made me this way, and God made sex so we can relish in that.” This rationalization and type of “open theology” has infected nearly every pillar of SDA beliefs - not just our ridiculous understanding of human sexuality. Is not Scripture our source of truth and not ourselves?
So what is left for the gay SDA soul who seeks deliverance? Both Michael and Wayne openly admitted that it is a day-to-day journey fraught with temptation and pitfalls — don’t we all go through the same? Each day is a renewal to share God’s love and to live a pure life. They have chosen celibacy and service to the Body of Christ through their ministry. Another COM member got married to a loving wife and now serves as an ordained SDA pastor. Each member has their own experiences but all have embraced the celebration in the unity of Christ rather than the embracing the worldly message of “diversity”.
During the movie, a crowd of about 30 assembled outside the front doors at the side walk. They were present with banners and waved to passing cars which caused continuous car horn-honking. It was pretty noisy, but as the movie progressed it became easy to ignore. The church set out snacks and bottled water on a table for the protestors, and offered them the use of toilet facilities. The protestors were also invited in to watch the movie. I’m not sure if any did, but after the movie a Q/A session was presented and one of the questions to the presenters was rendered by one of the protesters. Complete love and hospitality by the Pasadena SDA church was given - this was love in action and I left completely impressed with this Body of Christ. They lived their faith and love - even to the protestors. Also, I counted 5 SDA ministers in the audience and one non-SDA pastor— who I was able to speak with afterwards.
I won’t go any deeper into the movie because it’s imperative that all SDAs see this movie for themselves and engage in the conversation we all really need to have. We can no longer call out the speck in others’ eyes. We can no longer marginalize those who are struggling with SIN, but rather approach them as Jesus lived - loving all and inviting them to partake of His true spring of living waters. We must help each other in that journey. Love will ALWAYS "guard the edges" and protect our message, and help it go further into this broken world for healing. It’s time to live that life and show others that there is a better way, and the COM team are doing just that.
I encourage all to visit COM website and to watch the trailer “Journey Interrupted.” If you are interested, speak with your paster or church board and ask them to host a screening. You will be blessed.
Greg Cox, PT
Clinical Director, Master Clinician / California Education Connection