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Cure for Love: When Sex and Scriptures Clash

Cure for Love: When Sex and Scriptures Clash

Cure for Love: When Sex and Scriptures Clash

While many films end with weddings, our feature documentary Cure for Love (2008) opens with one.

In appearance, this wedding is like any other. There’s the church, the blushing bride in a white gown, the beaming groom, the assorted friends and relatives.

The reality, however, is a little different. As we soon learn, the groom and bride, Brian and Anna, are both devout evangelical Christians. They are also both gay.

Seated in the pews are more people who share their predicament. Born into strict evangelical families, their lives were upended when, often at a young age, they realized they loved both Jesus Christ and people who were the same gender as them. A true impasse for youngsters raised in total fear of sin and Hell.

“Wow, that’s what I am,” Brian recalls thinking, after reading a definition of homosexuality in a dictionary when he was in 8th grade. “Oh crap. That’s me. Oh crap.”

His friend Darren, who described his childhood as dotted with “repeated Born Again altar experiences,” flat-out rejected the reality of homosexuality for 7 years, based on the fact it was incompatible with his faith. “I’m not gay!” he remembers thinking. “I can’t be gay because I am a Christian, and it doesn’t even work that way – it can’t. So I’m not gay. […] I’m not gay. I’m not gay.”

Focusing on Brian, Anna, Darren and Joel, another friend of theirs, Cure for Love explores the many ways these evangelical Christians manage the clash between their sexual orientation and their religious beliefs.

Many, the film informs us, find hope and direction in the (so-called) Ex-Gay movement.

Spearheaded by Exodus International, a mega-organisation that promotes “freedom from homosexuality worldwide”, the Ex-Gay movement views homosexuality not as fatality (something you were born with), but as choice (something you’re encouraged to do something about).

The Ex-Gay movement is full of semantic workarounds. In its parlance, homosexuality is euphemised as SSAD, or Same Sex Attraction Disorder. Within that framework, no one is gay; everyone struggles with “unwanted” SSAs, or Same Sex Attractions.

With the help of dedicated prayer, behaviour modification, and even reparative therapy (also known as conversion therapy), the Ex-Gay movement offers SSAD sufferers the comfort of living in full accordance with the evangelical gospel.

Yet, the solace offered by such ministries is often short-lived. The internal conflict, spawned by the necessity of forever combatting one’s leanings (combined with possible “relapses”) can be depressing and alienating, even leading to suicidal thoughts.

“To be evangelical to me was to end my life,” Joel says, recounting the dark self-cutting days during which he flirted with suicide. “To hold these beliefs meant I would have to destroy myself, because I was filthy in the eyes of God.”

As the film progresses, protagonists reach different conclusions about the Ex-Gay movement and lifestyle.

Mid-film, Brian and Anna are still together. While Anna’s states marriage is “like having a perma-roommate”, Brian openly admits being “totally still attracted to guys.”

“Everyone who knows me knows that. My wife knows that. My church knows that,” he says.

Others, like Darren and Joel, have left the fold and embraced a new beginning in the Ex-Ex-Gay movement, a network of groups that seek to help and heal “Ex-Gay survivors”, people who came out of Ex-Gay ministries bruised and confused and who have returned to identifying as gay or lesbian.

Cure for Love is a profoundly human film that provides no easy answers. Filled with candid interviews, it powerfully demonstrates how the pursuit of heaven can sometimes render life on Earth a living Hell.

Cure for Love, Francine Pelletier & Christina Willings, provided by the National Film Board of Canada


  • Canada’s largest Protestant denomination, the United Church of Canada, affirmed in 2000 that: “human sexual orientations, whether heterosexual or homosexual, are a gift from God and part of the marvellous diversity of creation.”
  • 56% of American Catholics believe that sexual relationships between 2 people of the same sex are not sinful, according to a 2011 telephone survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute.
  • In May 2012, the Pan American Health Organization stated that services that purport to “cure” people with non-heterosexual orientation lack medical justification and represent a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people, noting that the professional consensus is that homosexuality is a natural variation of human sexuality and cannot be regarded as a pathological condition.

* Header image credit: when sally met sally. All rights reserved.

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  1. It’s not only homosexual men and women trying to reconcile with their faith who drive themselves asking “Am I good enough.”

    I was abused by a classmate in elementary school. For decades afterwards I desperately tried to erase the shame and shock by looking for the perfect life, being the best son, the best professional. I’ll spare you the details; sufficient to say I didn’t find what I was looking for.

    I’ve just attended an Advent mission at a nearby parish. It was based on the Divine Mercy chaplet. What gave me the idea that I was probably in a better place for me was the opening remarks of the speaker who said that God does not hate and will not reject the sinner who falls a thousand times. The only person that Christ said in scripture will be lost are the people who do not ask for forgiveness because they believe they are “good enough.”

    About happiness — C.S. Lewis wrote in a different context that God doesn’t want us to be happy but He wants to make us lovable, lovable by Him. If we pray for health, wealth, or any earthly good, can we really honestly say that we would still look for God after we have gotten everything we asked for? Lewis, who got tried in the furnace of grief after the death of his wife, said, “Pain is God’s megaphone calling a deaf world.” If God is reality, than we will never, ever, be satisfied even if we get everything we want.

    Someone might say, ” we are as God made us.”

    I don’t think so. If I mistate the following, if what I say next is an error, please correct me.

    The effect of the fall of man is that we are not as God made us. The break, our attempt to set up for ourselves and say to God, “This is mine, not yours.” We actually became different from the creature God made.

    That doesn’t mean I believe in the doctrine of total depravity — Like Lewis wrote, if we were totally depraved we wouldn’t know it. And God won’t restore us to our original state because He would have to keep doing it again and again. Homosexuality didn’t take God by surprise. He saw Auschwitz when he made the first star. Better, He saw Calvary when he said, “Let there be light.”

    We also have good dispositions as well as sinful ones. God is not looking to turn people out by template. We even see it in friendships when we find people who allow us to talk and do what we didn’t consider possible alone.

    We just had a horrible example down here in the U.S. of a pro-football player who killed his wife and child and then went to the team’s stadium and shot himself in front of his coach. I do not know what led to this disaster.

    — Steven John Bosch,
    1. Thanks, James.

      — Julie Matlin,
  2. What a beautiful film. I believe Jesus’s message was one of love. This film shows the pain that is caused when religion makes someone feel wrong for loving. How could love possibly be wrong?

    — JB,
    1. As much as this is sweet, nice and emotional film, it will always be the case that homosexuality is wrong by design. The human body and its design is enough to show that by design alone, homosexuality is unnatural. God doesn’t play tricks with functionality and our bodies were designed for functionality. Homosexuality has no functionality. We all understand function and we all understand design.

      — Peter,
    2. It is an oft-presented argument that homosexuality is “unnatural.” This is a purely biological view. The problem with it is that homosexuality exists in nature (in humans and other species.) Or, if you choose, It is apparently part of God’s design. So how can we deem it unnatural? Perhaps it is our understanding of the role of homosexuality in nature that is, at present, “unnatural.” It exists. It hasn’t been eliminated either by evolution or God’s hand. I’d say that’s pretty natural.

      — Alex,
  3. What an amazing personal documentary, well-edited and crafted beautifully. I appreciate each of of these people who are true to themselves and can truly understand the struggle for identity and self-actualization, (I am coming from a non-same-sex relationship view). As much as I love God, I can see how we humans judge each other and sponge each others thoughts, assuming their interpretation of the bible is true. But if its not true to you, then its not true at all.

    — Cam,

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