Everything that one tries to hide in darkness will eventually be brought to light. We know this all too well. Call it karma. Call it whatever you like. But whatever it is, it isn’t good news for Reverend Ryan J. Muehlhauser of Cambridge, Minnesota. He recently had his dirty laundry unwillingly displayed to everyone in his community and congregation. He was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting two young adult males over the period of two years. Want to know his self-proclaimed area of expertise? Why, of course, it was helping those with same-sex attraction overcome their homosexual desires!
Muehlhauser was also a counselor with a company called Outpost Ministries. Their website claims to help men and women “break away from gay life”. Innumerable atrocities have been drudged up in lieu of this tragedy. Most evidently, of course, are the emotional wounds inflicted on the two victims. These men were seeking help from someone they deemed as a trusted individual. I cannot imagine the confusion they must have felt when introduced to Muehlhauser’s “therapy” methods. Here is an excerpt from the criminal complaint, as reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
One of the men told investigators that Muehlhauser “blessed” him by cupping his genitals outside of his clothing several times and that Muehlhauser asked the man to masturbate in front of him for “spiritual strength.” Muehlhauser would also fondle the man at times. Their encounters occurred over a period of nearly two years.
Another man told investigators of similar encounters spanning most of this year, adding that Muehlhauser feared he would “lose everything” if anyone found out. At one encounter, Muehlhauser fondled the man and then the two joined the pastor’s wife for a dinner outing.
The assaults of the two men occurred at the church, its prayer cabin and at a home belonging to a relative of one of the victims. The criminal complaint made a point to note that “consent by the complainant is not a defense,” given Muehlhauser is a clergy member.
Muehlhauser was a senior pastor at Lakeside Christian Church. He was taken into custody on November 4th. If convicted, he could spend up to 10 years in prison for each charge, and face a fine of $20,000.
Isanti County Assistant Attorney Stacy St. George adequately issued the following statement, as reported by The County Star:
“There is nothing more predatory than taking two individuals whose faith and whose trust is put into their minister and their spiritual leader and then abusing them in the name of the Lord. The very predatory nature is what makes Mr. Muehlhauser dangerous to the public. He preyed on the vulnerability of these men who are so confused and have turned to him in a time that they have been rejected by their family, their friends and by their religion. They asked him to assist them, they trusted him with their most deepest and vulnerable feelings, and he used that power to sexually abuse them for upwards of two years.”
Nothing depresses me more than cruelties like this. It saddens me because it is so unnecessary. If the two young men who were victimized were celebrated in their spiritual community rather than shunned, they would have no reason to seek counseling for the purpose of “curing” their sexuality. Reparative therapy is damaging; the research simply just doesn’t hold up. According to the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality. This has been the official and scientific stance since 1973 when they declassified homosexuality as a mental illness. Any licensed counselor who tells you otherwise is practicing far outside of their ethical boundaries. California governor Jerry Brown passed a bill just this past September which prohibits children and teenagers from participating in any type of conversion therapy. It is my desperate hope that this trend continues to be a reality for our remaining states.
What are your thoughts on this case? Is the lack of education within our churches an indirect cause of crimes such as these? What if those with same-sex attraction weren’t shamed into hiding? What if all Christians had opportunities to discuss homosexual issues from a loving, non-judgmental perspective? I think we’d have a lot less Ted Haggards, George Rekers, or well… any of the guys on this list.