Although only one mainstream newspaper has picked up the Exodus study, blogosphere is providing some dialogue. A particularly civil exhange can be found on BoxTurtleBulletin. Stanton Jones has gotten involved as well…
Box Turtle Bulletin civil? Dr. T., you must have a different definition of the word than I do.
I find the other side’s insinuations about particpant lying really interesting. Much in the same way that Scripture’s honest accounts of really screwed up people tends to support its veracity, the significant – though less than stellar – change results in the study also point to its reality and reliability.
If people were on the “Exodus payroll” and motivated to cheat, I’d expect to see far better results. But then, the participants would have been accused of lying about that, too. It’s a Catch 22 all around.
Karen – Hope you are doing well!
It was civil in the sense that Jim made a civil critique and Stan replied in kind. After that it kind of went downhill.
The study is a good one and much better than anything else we have. If massive harm was being done on a wide scale basis, this design would have found it. The results are actually modest but reflect what I have been seeing clinically for years. There is a variation in how people experience attractions to the same sex and there are variations in how flexible sexuality is for different people. This is essentially what they found. They also found that Exodus programs offer benefit to some who dont change much at all. I think as a ministry, the next step would be for Exodus to take a consumer approach and survey those who have expressed dissatisfaction and see if there are any practices that associate with those who don’t do well.
The study is a good one and much better than anything else we have.
I’m not sure that’s really saying much 😉
I don’t know where the accusations of lying came from, but I think we would be naive not to realize that people in such a ministry tend to carry on an optimism because for some, admitting negatives or defeat is giving in to the enemy.
My own reading of the responses leads me to believe a lot of the positive “change” might come from relief from shame and isolation, more so than from change of orientation, which seems to have been quite small when it did happen.
I’m not trained to interpret such things, but my own instincts tell me that not much depth can be gained from a study of 73 people with which one speaks once a year. How many believers have you known who went up and down in basic life situations? How much more can one expect that out of these? How long can one stay in a specialized ministry for maintenance?
I still have a lot of questions that are not being answered by this book, but to quote a phrase, this “irrational exuberance” does not seem warranted. If one can’t get more change out of a group of bisexuals than this, I’m not sure one can ever expect much from truly homosexual people, beyond of course celibacy.
I’m also very curious as to how anyone can be so certain that the dropouts did not experience harm. What if they dropped out because they experienced harm? Isn’t it rather careless to proclaim “no harm” when we don’t really know?
Speaking for “the other side” for a moment: I do not believe that the study participants lied. Nor do I believe that Michael Bussee lied when he was part of a study that also found 11 people to have become straight. Nor do I believe Noe Gutierez lied on Warren’s video I Do Exist. Nor do I believe that Darlene Bogle or Anthony Vinn-Brown lied.
I believe that each of those individuals sincerly wanted to believe that their sexual orientation had changed. And I believe that they allowed themselves to believe that indeed it had.
But it hadn’t.
I am not claiming that any of the 11 participants who reported reduced same-sex attraction and increase opposite sex functionality were not reporting what they believed to be true. And I’m not even claiming that they are deluded.
But I am illustrating that if you insist that what they are saying is proof, then it isn’t entirely compelling. We’ve seen self-reporting before and have learned to apply a health amount of suspicion.
Perhaps there is someone amongst the 98 persons who now is fully heterosexual – but this is not what the summary reported. So to ask the question – do Exodus programs turn gay people into straight people? … Not according to this study.
But it does show that some small percentage of highly motivated Exodus participants are able to report that they are experiencing a reduction to same sex attraction and increase in opposite sex attraction – at least over four years. I hope that Yarhouse and Jones follow up again in a year or so and let us know how things are going.
I must disagree with two things that you said:
This study is better than anything that preceeded it, but it is far from “a good one”. And the way in which the study has been falsely portrayed in the conservative and Christian press – without the slightest objection from Yarhouse, Jones, yourself or anyone else attached to they study is truly sinful.
Melissa Fryrear is suggesting that 67% of those who enter Exodus are successful. Is it moral to let her continue to imply, suggest, hint, and outright lie?
If massive harm was being done on a wide scale basis, this design would have found it.
That is simply untrue. Surely we all can agree that if harm was being done it would most likely show up in two places: 1) those who left the program, and 2) those who have become disillusioned.
There is, as best I can tell, no evaluation of those who left the program. There has not been enough time passed to evaluate those who will become disillusioned.
You claim is little better than saying: This drug was taken by 98 participants. The 73 still alive at the conclusion of the trial did not show harm.
Timothy – So are you saying I am sinning by calling it a good study? You seem to go from disagreement to sin in short order.
The researchers can only get information from subjects who will answer questions. The subjects were simply unwilling to provide it.
The design was prospective. If people are harmed on a wide scale basis, I would expect that to show up in ways that are not seen. The drop out rate would have been higher. Those harmed would have reported their harm. The people still in the study who were continuing on would have demonstrated increased distress on the measures. If going to Exodus groups was a complete fools errand, the measures they used and tracking would catch it among those that remained. I am convinced that Jones and Yarhouse would love to talk to those who dropped out. If anyone knows any of them, plead with them to contact the researchers. They are still collecting data and will be through a few more years. No one, especially me or Jones or Yarhouse is suggesting that horror stories are not true; however, to discount the study completely is just as inappropriate as those who are using it to say that large numbers change.
How people use the study is another matter to which I will turn in a future post. But those who dismiss it completely as being of no value are doing so on ideological grounds. If Jones and Yarhouse have no merit, then pitch Shidlo and Schroeder as well since that study was not prospective, did not determine what was harmful about the subject reports, lumped religious, aversive therapy and talk therapies all in one big concept, did not follow up subjects over the same length of time, and was not in any way representative of people seeking value/sexuality congruence. I also expect bloggers and researchers beyond BoxTurtle to excoriate Montel’s Alicia Salzar (science tells us that only 4% change) and the lame psychologist on the recent Michael and Juliet Show who says no one changes. In fact, if we pitch Jones and Yarhouse, then we basically start over and have nothing. Nothing that exists can inform the APA task force or any other body that says we have evidence of anything. Big black hole.
I’m going to withhold a lot of comment about the study itself until I get the opportunity to read the book – hopefully sometime next week. It’s difficult for me to form an opinion based only on the summary presentation I heard in Nashville and the resulting commentary pro and con.
I realize that many folk on this blog and others are really into parsing words and concepts. Some of that is to the good, some not as helpful in my opinion. At the presentation/press conferences, especially the one at Exodus, it was made crystal clear what Exodus and its related ministries consider “success.”
Is success defined the same way Timothy does – turning gay people into straight people? No. Is it even defined in a way that the broader culture is going to understand or appreciate? Probably not.
While Drs. Yarhouse and Jones express concern for building bridges within the theraputic community and broader culture, which is a commendable effort, that’s not a real big motivator for me. I mainly care that the Church understands and wisely and compassionately applies the research findings. And I frankly don’t expect it will ever convince or convert anyone entrenched in pro-gay fundamentalism.
I would still argue that the less than stellar results that are reported indicate more rather than less veracity in the study.
I realize how ignorant I am of the Jones and Yarhouse study here – but did there study show any real change? Perhaps it all comes down to our operational definitions for these words.
No one, especially me or Jones or Yarhouse is suggesting that horror stories are not true;
If both the results of the study are true, and the reports of horror stories are true, then how can that be? Are the people in the study incredibly lucky to have avoided the horror stories, or the others incredibly unlucky?
Are we only looking at this study in light of the current APA deliberations? Does anyone know why it was released now instead of after the full 5 years? I have to be honest, the idea that no harm is present seems a bit difficult to believe; I would have an easier time trusting the results if just a few reported harm. If we know that incredible harm can result (because we believe the stories of it), then where is it?
This seems conflicted.
I thought the 15% conversion rate was a bit low. Is this your experience in clinical practice–that is, about 15% who seek help actually attain to heterosexual attraction/functioning? Not just celibacy, but strong enough heterosexual attraction to enjoy a solid heterosexual marriage?
Also, I am wondering how the percentage rate would compare to professional therapy. Exodus is a support group and obviously doesn’t go into some of the reparative therapy work that a therapist would do . . .
Additionally, this study only covers people for four years. In your experience, how long do you work with someone before you see them developing actual conversion? It seems it usually takes longer than 4 years.
I am interested in your thoughts. Karen Keen
I will reserve any further claims about the “harm” part of the study until I read the book. I still think it unlikely that the study gives any assurance… but I’ll leave myself open to pursuation.
Nope. Read it again: “And the way in which the study has been falsely portrayed in the conservative and Christian press – without the slightest objection from Yarhouse, Jones, yourself or anyone else attached to they study is truly sinful.”
I’m saying that those who are deliberately misquoting the study to claim it proves things that it does not (or ever deliberately giving that impression) are sinning. I guess I’m old fashioned, but I do still believe that lying is sin.
By the way, I do not dismiss this study out of hand. I just don’t think it says the things that are being claimed about it. I’m sure you would agree that reports about the study should limit themselves to that which is true.
And I’ll go further. I think that Yarhouse and Jones do have some moral obligation to ensure that those for whom they did the study are not misrepresenting it. Don’t you?
That’s one of my problems. If one sets out to disprove someone else’s claim (ie the claim that a change in sexual orientation is impossible), then you have to use the same definitions that they do. If you change “success” to be something other than what they mean, you haven’t disproved them.
I don’t say that this report doesn’t tell us something. It does. It even tells something useful for those who seek to find a fulfilling life that complies with their beliefs on the subject.
But it does not refute the hypothesis that they set out to disprove.
If the study does only cover 4 years – in my mind, that doesn’t seem like a very “longitudinal” kind of study – not, at least for a subject matter of this type. I know I keep bringing this up, but I think most Ex-Ex Gay people were in Exodus and related groups longer than that weren’t they – doesn’t this say something about the study?
Karen Keen wrote:
“I thought the 15% conversion rate was a bit low. Is this your experience in clinical practice–that is, about 15% who seek help actually attain to heterosexual attraction/functioning? Not just celibacy, but strong enough heterosexual attraction to enjoy a solid heterosexual marriage?Also, I am wondering how the percentage rate would compare to professional therapy. Exodus is a support group and obviously doesn’t go into some of the reparative therapy work that a therapist would do . . .Additionally, this study only covers people for four years. In your experience, how long do you work with someone before you see them developing actual conversion? It seems it usually takes longer than 4 years.“
“I thought the 15% conversion rate was a bit low. Is this your experience in clinical practice–that is, about 15% who seek help actually attain to heterosexual attraction/functioning? Not just celibacy, but strong enough heterosexual attraction to enjoy a solid heterosexual marriage?
Additionally, this study only covers people for four years. In your experience, how long do you work with someone before you see them developing actual conversion? It seems it usually takes longer than 4 years.“
You seem to be confused like a number of those who think this works. It’s not 15% of ALL gay people who seek heterosexual functioning. Possibley 100% of those in the study thought they could get there because of the empty rhetoric of Focus on the Family, evangelicals and Exodus. Well, that’s not true. And these numbers are in no way representative of what can be done in the greater population of gay peoples. This population was one which iis “highly motivated” by parents, society, guilt, religion, or what hav you to “get the gay out.” And that population of persons is but a small fraction of the gay community, somewhere probably less than 1% – so that is 15% of 1% or a number closer to 0.15%. But remember even Drs. Jones and Yarhouse have said the numbers in this stufy are meaningless except to indicate existance of a “class” – which classes were constructed by Jones and Yarhouse to pump of the good numbers for Exodus….. but the numbers are meaningless….
Furthermore many of those in Exodus are also in therapy. But then what kind of therapy can there be for something that isn’t an illness? Thus the low numbers which probably are bisexuals in the first place or the real psycho-gays who were sexually abused as kids.
Lastly…. how much of a chunk out of your life should a person take to attempt to rid themselves of what is natural in the first place? And it is the waste of all those years which finally comes to define harm.
Jayhuck, my understanding is that the findings have been reported for the first three years of an intended five year study. Yarhouse and Jones did not indicate they would be following the participants beyond that, but that they would be publishing findings for years 4 and 5 sometime in the future.
From the other information they shared in Nashville, this study is the first of its kind to track prospective (in real time) self-report rather than relying solely on retrospective report as past studies have done. I don’t know enough about behavioral studies in general to know if five years is considered a long time longitudinally.
Timothy, I’m not sure I follow you in your last post. If the hypothesis for study is “change in sexual orientation is impossible” then any change at all (however it is measured and reported and regardless of scale) refutes that absolutist claim. And Yarhouse and Jones used other measures besides the movement on the Kinsey scale, all of which reflected some change.
As long as Jones and Yarhouse clearly define what “success” means in their reporting, I don’t see the problem with that, either. It’s more a matter of you not agreeing with the definition.
David, I remember Yarhouse and Jones saying specifically that “on average” participants did not experience the change attempt as harmful. That doesn’t rule out that some participants might have. I don’t think that makes it conflicted; it means different people had different experiences. They presented one graphic that compared the participants’ average level of stress (and maybe another descriptive term I can’t remember late tonight), but it was less than the mean average of folk involved in general theraputic processes.
I guess the problem I’m having then is with the relatively short length of time for this study. We have all sorts of Ex-Ex Gay people who were in Exodus longer than this study – who claimed to have been changed during their time there – basically claiming all of the things that participants in this study or who are still in Exodus claim today – only to say or find out years later that what they were experiencing wasn’t change so much as it was a suppression of their feelings/desires. To me, these kinds of testimonies, along with the short time period of the study, and the very real possibility for Social Desirability Bias, throws even more doubt and questions on the results.
My other issue with the study is probably the same as many other people have. You have a group of “highly motivated individuals” who have an intense need and belief to change – these people are members of a groups with a strong conservative political and theological stance, being studied by two unapologetic conservative Christian Evangelicals who have made their beliefs on homosexuality known to all. Now, is it possible for them to produce unbiased results in a study of this type – yes. It is also highly unlikely. I’m not suggesting that people are lying, but when you have as many parties as you do in this study who are “highly motivated” – that includes the researchers – that should all give us some pause and raise more than just a few eyebrows – People don’t have to outright lie in order to stretch, twist or distort the Truth. For the record, I have no doubt that the intentions of the researchers and participants are good – that doesn’t mean the results are showing us Truth.
I agree with you, Jayhuck, that there is probably a risk of bias in the findings. And Yarhouse and Jones publicly acknowledged that, and, I believe, deal with it in the book. (Just got word from Amazon that it won’t be delivered until maybe the first week of October, so I won’t comment about it until I read it.)
Correct me if I’m wrong, Dr. T., but I think the study used a “convenience sample,” as did the Schidlo and Schroeder (sp?) study of harm. But whereas Schidlo/Schroeder deliberately sought out those who retrospectively believed they experienced harm, Yarhouse/Jones did not overtly seek a foregone result. And they made every attempt they could to have a broadly representative sample of those within an admittedly limited category – 1-3 years involvement in an Exodus ministry.
I think almost all of us can acknowledge that there is some bias in ALL psychological studies, which is one of my major problems in putting too much stock in any of them. As I said to Dr. T in Nashville – psychology is not a hard science like chemistry or physics where one can usually expect to see the same outcome for the same input. (See Wikipedia entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_science) The study of personality and behavior isn’t going to be as exact. It seems to me to be more of an “art.”
From the limited exposure I’ve had thus far to the study, my two main concerns are these, and they’re largely theological/pastoral in nature and based on anecdotal experience I’ve had with gays, ex-gays and ex-ex-gays.
First, almost all of the guys on my Board of Directors experienced the most profound change in their lives previous to ever getting involved with Exodus or another kind of support group. One came to faith in Christ in the MCC church under Troy Perry’s leadership, came to believe Troy was lying to him about homosexuality, and went on to growth and change in another local church through prayer and Bible study. Much the same is true for another former member of our Board. I’ve heard similar stories from other folk and it makes me wonder if there is a certain something about those that seek out a more therapeutic approach. And could Yarhouse and Jones control for that or did they consider or explain it? I’d like to see a study find those kind of people and report on them.
Second (and I’ve posted here and elsewhere about this before), my anecdotal experience with ex-ex-gays has observed a consistent pattern of them reporting a laundry list of things they did to try to change and then indicate they expected God to take their temptations or desires away because of their performance. In pastoral care, that’s called “bargaining” or even “magical thinking,” and it’s often based on a “works righteousness” understanding of Christianity.
For many of the “formers” I know, it didn’t work that way. Change happened when the willingly submitted their sexuality and discipleship/sanctification to the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit, come what may. I’ve never heard an ex-ex-gay talk that way. So, I hope Yarhouse and Jones’ book will give some explanation as to what approaches the various ministries used. I don’t think a “works” approach will do it.
I agree with you. My own experience of trying to change my desires for many years left me feeling quite helpless, but once I chose to surrender to the will of God the benefits of that spiritual journey began to reveal much change in my life and in my orientation. Some may want to negate that as simply a shift in behaviour, but I would contend that the shift in my behaviour opened up the door for a definite shift in my orientation.
I hope that this book will be looked at and open the door for further studies and for funds to be provided to help researchers look at the possibility of change. This to me would provide an important balance in this debate.
As you are not understanding me, let me explain further.
Suppose that you claim that XYZ is impossible. And suppose that I set out to prove you wrong. In order for me to prove you wrong I must prove that XYZ occured AND it must be the same XYZ that you claim is impossible.
For example, suppose that you claim that it is impossible to change one’s eye color. I cannot simply put on colored contacts and claim I proved you incorrect – because this in not what you meant when you said that eye color cannot change.
That’s obvious. But let me give a slightly less clear example. I have an eye condition that causes some of the pigment of my eye to flake off. Consequently, my eye color has significantly changed over the past decade from hazel with light green edges to a dark mossy green.
This would seem to prove you wrong. But does it? We would have to go back to what your original claim was and the context in which I set out to prove you wrong.
So let’s revisit this study. According to the authors, “These questions were framed in the context of strong declarations by sectors of the mental health community that change of sexual orientation is impossible”. Thus we understand that to be meaningful to the study’s original intent, “success” has to be defined as refuting the strong declarations of the mental health community.
I think we can agree that a life of celibacy does not refute the strong declarations. So to claim that this is “success” shows a disconnect between the results and what they set out to do. Such a result may be valuable to strugglers, but it does nothing to refute the mental health community.
So, then, how about the 11 people who decreased same-sex attractions and increased heterosexual functioning? Is that a successful result in the context of refuting the mental health community? Well that depends on whether the mental health community was arguing that this could not happen. As far as I can tell, it was not.
Unless I’m mistaken, when those in the mental health community claimed that “change of sexual orientation is impossible” (what Jones and Yarhouse set out to dispute), they meant from homosexual to heterosexual. They did not mean quasi-heterosexual who still has same sex attractions but they are less disruptive. Or so I understand.
So we have two categories of “success” (or three if you believe Melissa Fryrear)… but none of them meet the criteria of what the study set out to do. So while “success” as declared by Yarhouse and Jones may indeed be success from the perspective of the participant, as far as proving the declarations of the mental health community wrong, I see no categories of success.
It is not, Karen, a matter of whether you and I define success differently. It is very simply a question of whether the study does what it set out to do. And for that to occur, we must go to how “sectors of the mental health community” define success.
So while I believe that the results are valuable – especially to those who seek to change their lives, behavior patterns, and identity – what it says about sexual orientation change is probably not what Exodus would like us to focus on.
My own experience of trying to change my desires for many years left me feeling quite helpless, but once I chose to surrender to the will of God the benefits of that spiritual journey began to reveal much change in my life and in my orientation.
With the exception of a change in sexual orientation, my experience is very similar. The struggle almost killed me, but giving it up to God gave me peace and clarity. My concern about which sex I am attracted to has given way to concerns about the person, does he share my faith, is he kind and thoughtful — all those things which are important to me and my relationship with God.
If you are happy and believe that you are doing as God would have you do, I wouldn’t suggest otherwise. I wouldn’t use a study of 73 people to validate or invalidate either of our lives. However, neither would I use it to give license to those who believe than the rest of us, or as it seems even a small minority, can experience an honest to goodness, major shift in the sex to whom we are attracted.
And even worse, that to force such thinking, reinforced with the idea that our very eternal souls depend on the continuation of such a struggle, can be done without serious harm.
The same is true of those who chose not to look at change or who have tried and found that it did not work for them. Is it the will of God that you should say that no one can change because change did not occur for you or is this simply a justification for the position you have taken.
I understand you, but I find your argument illogical. Even just from the sentence you quoted from the study, the “strong statements from the mental health community” is the context for the study, not the hypothetical claims Jones and Yarhouse were addressing and attempting to answer.
One of the hypotheses was the pretty straightforward, ABSOLUTIST contention that orientation change is IMPOSSIBLE. (By their very nature, absolutist claims are universal – at all times, in all places, for all people.) So, if the “life of celibacy” RESULTS FROM a shift in orientation – as I believe the Yarhouse/Jones study shows on several measurable scales – then yes, that refutes the hypothetical claim. You mix apples and oranges when you blur behavior and desire. I don’t buy it.
And some people in the mental health field have classified anyone above a 2 on the Kinsey scale as homosexual. So you’re generalizations about mental health professionals don’t convince me, either.
David, thank you for sharing your story, but you and I are not describing the same thing at all in regard to submission
You seem to suggest that Ex-Ex gay people haven’t sought out therapy or long-term strategies for solving their issues – on the contrary, many Ex-Ex gay people have been in therapy, and sought help for years or even decades. I’m not sure exactly what you mean when you said it is your experience that Ex-Ex Gays expected God to take away their feelings, but it has been my experience that ALL ex-gay people hope that God, in one way or another – through therapy or another avenue – will take away their unwanted feelings.
You didn’t really address the problem I brought up with ex-ex gay people, bias, and the subjectivity of psychology. What I said was that Ex-Ex Gay people, when they were in groups like Exodus, reported exactly the same types of change, relief, “movement in desired direction”, what have you, feelings that the people in the study are reporting – basically the exact same things. SO, my issue here is, when there is no true objective way of telling whether people are repressing, suppressing, or actually changing their orientation, what do we say about results like these? Do we simply do as we do now and pick the side we want to be on? You have no way of telling whether anyone in this study will one day be an Ex-Ex Gay person – you don’t know if they already are. There are so many problems with this study that go beyond the inherent bias of the study, that I find it hard to believe we can actually take it at all seriously.
And for the record, I know that the researchers mentioned the possibility of bias in their study, but what did they really do to “address it”, as you say?
One last thought – before the results of a study done in any other area of science are accepted or are taken seriously, they have to be repeated in studies done by many other groups – I’m guessing this isn’t going to happen in this study? I’m also guessing that one study is going to be assumed to be good enough for whoever wants to believe in the results of this study?
David, thank you for sharing your story, but you and I are not describing the same thing at all in regard to submission.
Interesting, how do you know?
And some people in the mental health field have classified anyone above a 2 on the Kinsey scale as homosexual.
Obviously, 2 in a scale of 0-6, 6 being fully homosexual, would be bisexual. Saying otherwise is simply wrong, no matter who says so. For the sake of the discussion, could you please quote the “people in the mental health field” who have said this? I’m not doubting that someone might, but I think it best we know what we are dealing with.
Sorry, everyone, for all the posts. I think you’re missing a crucial point with Ex-Ex Gays. When they believed they HAD changed and were still considering themselves to be Ex-Gay, they DID talk in the way you say you haven’t heard them speak. It is only natural that their “talk” and emphases would change when they decided they were Ex-Ex Gay.
So, if the “life of celibacy” RESULTS FROM a shift in orientation – as I believe the Yarhouse/Jones study shows on several measurable scales…
This is, with all due respect, sheer and utter nonsense. A change in orientation results in no attraction to the opposite sex???
If you persist in claiming that someone with absolutely no opposite-sex attraction whatsoever somehow proves those claims wrong, then I don’t know what to say.
If you went to ANY of those claimants and said “do you believe that same-sex attracted persons can, through religious efforts, achieve celibacy”, I doubt you’d find one that said, “no”. That doesn’t disprove ANYTHING.
Further, if you asked, “can efforts, religious or theraputic, help reduce immediate same-sex attractions and improve heterosexual functioning?”, I imagine that everone would say, “yes, at least for a while”.
Your argument about absolutism is nothing but a strawman argument. This study didn’t disprove anything that anyone was ACTUALLY claiming, as far as I can tell.
If you want to measure the success of proving a claim false, you can’t misstate the claim. Well, unless you care more about your agenda than you do about truth. Which I sincerly hope that you do not.
Timothy and Karen,
I hope you don’t mind me stepping in, but I think most of the problems in this debate come down to our operational definitions of words like change and orientation.
I do have to agree with Timothy regarding celibacy – leading a life of celibacy doesn’t require ANY change in unwanted attractions. That doesn’t mean its not a holy state to be in – but it doesn’t require any change, of the kind mentioned in the J&Y study.
There have been a number of studies that have been presented in respectable scientific journals that have given supported to the arguements that many pro-gay activists put forward as evidence, when in fact they are not evidence at all (eg. Simon LeVay and Dean Hamer). The media picks up on a portion of these studies and blasts it on the headlines “Gay-Gene” is found, when in fact these studies have not in anyway supported or even suggested that this is the case and yet this is what is being held onto as scientific evidence.
Now the onus falls back on those who want to change to prove that it is possible. I suggest that no one has yet proven scientifically that orientation cannot be changed.
Timothy Kincaid said
And I’ll go further. I think that Yarhouse and Jones do have some moral obligation to ensure that those for whom they did the study are not misrepresenting it.Don’t you?
Honestly, I am not sure it would be possible to keep up with all of the silly things that will be said. Inasmuch as they become aware of inaccuracies, it would be proper to say so and ask for accurate reporting.
I believe however, there is a double standard. I do not recall anyone calling for Shidlo and Schroeder to publicly call out Alicia Salzar or others who have misused their study. I realize BTB made a post about it, but (and correct me here if I am wrong), I do not recall you guys calling on Shidlo and Schroeder to do something about it. Let me remind you that S&S opened their study by saying the professional associations had been making pronouncements about the harm involved in reorientation without any data and they said their study addressed that need.
It is not correct to do to others what they have done to you and I work to resist this. However, I sure would like to see this attention to accuracy go both ways.
Karen Keen – Since I do not work for change in a direct fashion, I cannot answer well your question.
I do see that change is highly variable and hard to predict (I do not know who will change much and who will not).
David R – In a study of twins done by Bailey, there were two groups, heterosexual and non-heterosexual (2+). Bell and Weinberg classified as those K4+ (if recollection serves, it may have been K5+) as gay. These measures have been quite variable across studies. Measured sexual orientation shifted some along a continuum for some of the participants. Future assessments will help address whether those shifts widen, stay the same or reverse.
As I said, I think that’s absurd (classifying K2+ as gay), I don’t care who did it. But thanks for adding the factual reference 😉
You said: “There have been a number of studies that have been presented in respectable scientific journals that have given supported to the arguements that many pro-gay activists put forward as evidence, when in fact they are not evidence at all (eg. Simon LeVay and Dean Hamer)”
Please elaborate on how these are “not evidence at all”! I’m curious to know what you mean
You have it backwards – NO ONE has proven scientifically that orientation CAN be changed. The ONLY thing that has been proven scientifically is that behavior changes – and that is ALL!
Dr. T., thank you for answering David’s question about the Kinsey ratings. I would have had to dig out some books to do it. To the other posters, I am going to answer some of the other questions addressed to me (above), but it will take a bit of time.
First of all, Dr. T., this post is long and if it’s too off topic for this thread, feel free to pull it or put it somewhere else.
I want to respond first to Jayhuck and then to others in separate posts.
He writes, “You seem to suggest that Ex-Ex gay people haven’t sought out therapy or long-term strategies for solving their issues – on the contrary, many Ex-Ex gay people have been in therapy, and sought help for years or even decades. I’m not sure exactly what you mean when you said it is your experience that Ex-Ex Gays expected God to take away their feelings, but it has been my experience that ALL ex-gay people hope that God, in one way or another – through therapy or another avenue – will take away their unwanted feelings.”
I’m not suggesting that at all. I have no doubt that ex-ex-gays may have sought out therapy or long-term strategies. My concerns are with a perceived approach to those strategies and therapies. From the folk I have spoken with, I have noticed a pattern of behavior that seems to point to a works righteousness understanding of Christianity and a “bargaining” or “magical thinking” mindset. I see that all the time as a pastor in my local church, and it usually doesn’t work.
I have concerns as to how that approach/worldview could play out in Exodus ministries (though again, I have no direct knowledge) and in the Yarhouse/Jones study results. I’m not attempting to universalize my observations or concerns to all ex-ex-gays. I think you other guys are the ones doing that.
Perhaps the following might help to explain my thoughts and concerns, though it also might just further muddy the waters.
First, elsewhere on this blog, Dr. T. said something along the lines of he would like Exodus to now take a consumer approach and see which techniques work best for people who are trying to change. I somewhat agree with that statement, but it also concerns me. There is a risk that folk would be encouarged to put their trust in the techniques. That’s not what Christian ministry is (or should be) about; it’s about inviting people into a living relationship with Jesus Christ and thereby connecting them to the saving, justifying, healing, freeing, sanctifying grace of God by the Holy Spirit. And then it’s about letting God do the work of transformation. I agree that we need to weed out (or at least warn against) consistently and blatantly harmful methods, but that’s about as far as I would go in trying to “consumerize” the change process. And even saying that, I also know that Richard Cohen (through his writings and work) has had a profound healing effect on several people I know, probably more than anything else they have experienced. As have some charismatic approaches that I’m personally uncomfortable with. God is going to work uniquely with each individual – even through experiences of perceived suffering and stress – to bring them into conformity with His best intentions for them.
Second, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my own struggle with obesity. (I know – it’s not fully comparable to dealing with same-sex issues, so no one even think about going there. I’m trying to make a more general point.) I could if I wanted to easily attribute it all to genes. When I do my genealogy, a slew of very large women stare back at me from family photos. My Mom has been overweight ever since I can remember; my Dad and both of my other two sisters are thin. Fifteen years ago before my 25th class reunion, I lost 70+ pounds (in 9 months) through Weight Watchers. Since that time, I have put all the weight back on and then some.
A year and a half ago, several health issues forced me to take a deeper look at my life and to try again to make some changes so I could be healthier and also have a better Christian witness regarding my stewardship of my body. I’ve lost 30 pounds, but that’s just the “icing on the cake” to other changes. For the first time in my adult life, I’ve been “convicted” about the sinfulness of gluttony and sloth. That’s resulted in a continual process of repentance and re-submission of my will and desires to God. (I know you’ll all be surprised to hear I have control issues.) Because prior to this I wanted techniques – ANY technique – an eating plan, an exercise routine, a pill, a lap band, for crying out loud. (Didn’t get one, just wanted to.) Has my desire to overeat changed? Yes, some. (Well, actually a lot.) But I didn’t enter into it this time “bargaining” with God for that outcome.
I don’t argue that all ex-ex-gays approached the change process this way. The folk that I have spoken with seem to have done so. I’m concerned others involved in the Exodus change process may do so as well. I’d like to see a study address that. Haven’t a clue how that could happen.
And … “You didn’t really address the problem I brought up with ex-ex gay people, bias, and the subjectivity of psychology. What I said was that Ex-Ex Gay people, when they were in groups like Exodus, reported exactly the same types of change, relief, “movement in desired direction”, what have you, feelings that the people in the study are reporting – basically the exact same things. SO, my issue here is, when there is no true objective way of telling whether people are repressing, suppressing, or actually changing their orientation, what do we say about results like these? Do we simply do as we do now and pick the side we want to be on? You have no way of telling whether anyone in this study will one day be an Ex-Ex Gay person – you don’t know if they already are. There are so many problems with this study that go beyond the inherent bias of the study, that I find it hard to believe we can actually take it at all seriously.”
I take the study seriously in that I think it answered its two hypothetical questions. Like others, I will look forward to what Jones and Yarhouse report a bit further down the road. I’ve posted elsewhere that I don’t have a whole-hearted love affair either with psychology or with research studies in general. As you seem to be, I am a skeptic. But psychologists will have to answer and address your other concerns.
And … “for the record, I know that the researchers mentioned the possibility of bias in their study, but what did they really do to “address it”, as you say?”
Again, let me reiterate that I haven’t yet read the book. From the presentation (and my notes) I remember them saying they addressed methodological criticisms and concerns in their narrative. I’m trusting they’ve done that.
And … “One last thought – before the results of a study done in any other area of science are accepted or are taken seriously, they have to be repeated in studies done by many other groups – I’m guessing this isn’t going to happen in this study? I’m also guessing that one study is going to be assumed to be good enough for whoever wants to believe in the results of this study?”
Dr. Yarhouse said that he currently intends not to do any more studies along these lines. I don’t know if anyone else is planning to or if he might change his mind.
And finally … “leading a life of celibacy doesn’t require ANY change in unwanted attractions.”
Yes, it does.
In this study, it usually required a decrease in homosexual attraction – which Yarhouse/Jones documented. That IS a change, though as you wrote above, we all seem to be defining change differently.
But isn’t that what we do on this blog, anyway?
Karen wrote, “David, thank you for sharing your story, but you and I are not describing the same thing at all in regard to submission.”
And David responded, “Interesting, how do you know?”
See above, David. Now it’s back to you to share what you mean by submission. For me, it also includes submitting to the will of God as revealed in Scripture. Does it mean the same for you?
Karen wrote, “So, if the “life of celibacy” RESULTS FROM a shift in orientation – as I believe the Yarhouse/Jones study shows on several measurable scales…”
And Timothy responded, “This is, with all due respect, sheer and utter nonsense. A change in orientation results in no attraction to the opposite sex??? … If you persist in claiming that someone with absolutely no opposite-sex attraction whatsoever somehow proves those claims wrong, then I don’t know what to say.”
Timohty, I’m saying that even one person who changes to any degree refutes the absolutist claim that change is impossible.
But you do raise another general concern that I have with what I know so far about the study. (And again, won’t have answered until I read the book.) I forget which scale they used to measure sexual attraction – there was another one besides Kinsey. (Help, Dr. T.!)
I wonder if what was measured was a generalized heterosexual attraction – for lack of a better term, a “lusting after” women or men in general.
Again, anecdotally, the men and women I know best DID NOT develop/experience that. They fell in love with one individual and experienced sexual feelings for that person, to whatever degree. I don’t know whether or not the study attempted to measure that (or if there’s a standard, accepted tool for doing so) or whether it’s reflected in the research results.
My more profound theological musings are – isn’t that closer to what God intended all along? Isn’t an un-mixed attraction to your spouse – without the generalized lust (or even emotional attraction) for others – a really deeper healing and freedom?
You mean submitting to the will of God as you INTERPRET it in Scripture, right? I think this might be where some of the problems with understanding submission are coming from.
You still failed to address my main point with Ex-Ex Gays and change. Perhaps I am not making my point clear – a problem I often have – so if that is the case, let me know. But my contention still stands – there is NO real OBJECTIVE way of proving a change of orientation has taken place. The ONLY thing we can prove for certain is that behaviors change. And, I’m sorry here, but this is an indisputable fact, and a real problem that these researchers, and others, just simply don’t want to – understandably – admit to.
As far as how Ex-Ex Gays approached therapy – granted, I haven’t talked to a great many Ex-Ex Gays, but in MY experience, they approached it exactly like almost all Ex-Gay people do or did. Thank you for at least not generalizing your own experience to all Ex-Ex Gay people – I will try and refrain from doing the same.
When it comes right down to it though, when you have people with an intense desire to change – you are frequently going to be dealing with people who want that change so badly they are willing to believe change has taken place, convince themselves of that – even if it hasn’t. That may be my biggest problem with this study and this type of research. The bias runs so deep and is so powerful, we really need to try and remove religion on the part of the researchers as much as possible to create any kind of respectable scientific study – and then we have to show that the results can be repeated in other studies before we actually accept them – otherwise, this isn’t science – this is just rationalizing ideology.
Karen Booth wrote:
“And finally … “leading a life of celibacy doesn’t require ANY change in unwanted attractions.” — Yes, it does.
In this study, it usually required a decrease in homosexual attraction – which Yarhouse/Jones documented. That IS a change, though as you wrote above, we all seem to be defining change differently.”
While a lessening of attaction was apparently seen in this study and was commensurate with a propensity towards celibacy, in no way is a lessening of attraction necessary for a life of celibacy. All that is necessary to be celibate is to decide not to engage in any sexual contact. Furthermore, I would venture a guess that what Jones & Yarhouse are reporting (actually the individual is reporting) is not a lessening of attraction (as a function of sexual orientation, but see below) but a lessening of the general sexual drive, which mimics a lowering of sexual attractions.
It is for this reason that persons are not able to have a commensurate rise in heterosexual attaction as even Jones & Yarhouse reported. So it is likely that no one is suppressing their attactions, they are suppressing their sexual drive and reporting that as a lessening of a same-sex attactions. And thus attraction (sexual orientation, again see below) remains the same. It is further likely for this reason that persons are vulnerable to returning to same-sex sexual activity or simply stating their attempts at “change“ failed.
“You have it backwards – NO ONE has proven scientifically that orientation CAN be changed. The ONLY thing that has been proven scientifically is that behavior changes – and that is ALL!”
Perhaps this is correct… and yet, no one has proven what sexual orienation is! Since we do not know exactly what sexual orientation is, we cannot exactly say that it cannot be changed. What is sexual orientation (SO) then?
Is it biological? If so, is SO the result of the consequences of a hormonal cycle in the first trimester fetal hypothalamus which when interrupted results in a homosexual orientation? Or is SO the result of an ordering of neurons in the brain due to early developmental occurrances (what are those?) in a young persons (under 4 years?) brain?
Or is an anomalous SO simply due to a mature brain being trained to enjoy a sexual activity? Which is somewhat more akin to a created mental illness in the individual and since many a young man has reported same-sex orientations long before sexual contact this seems to be not true. Or is SO a true mental illness – a psychological pattern that occuring in the individual that results in a disability that is not expected as part of normal development or culture (ie. desire for same-gender sexual contact) and due to lost daddy-love or sexual abuse?
But let’s assume it is biological, which I think is an imiplication of the Jones & Yarhouse study when they report lessening of same-sex “orientation” (or attractions, but what I consider to likely be the general sexual drive) without a rise in heterosexual attractions (orientation). Let’s even assume that it is the first trimester hormonal cycle in the fetal hypothalamus.
Man’s brain is a composite structure. Certainly, reason and other higher functions of consciousness – the mind of man – is/are present in the neocortex which surrounds the limbic system (including the hypothalamus) which is the seat of our emotions. What the Christian ministries of Exodus are then asking of their participants is to use reason to overcome what is essentially the animal in us, the emotional limbic system where sexual orientation would reside. Certainly some (all?) people should be able to use their reason and a reasoning, which for Exodus is supplied in the form of condemnation of the behavior resultant of the anomalous SO by a supreme being’s plan for mankind.
But then are we humans reason alone or are we the amalgam of all biological drives of mind? Is not our human spirit representative of the totality of mind, the work of all our brain? Even Dr Throckmorton has suggested that we separate out ourselves in this respect by suggesting that a person may seek only reason, to lead “a life of value rather than seeking out a life of happiness.”
If a person cannot do so, if a person cannot separate out the biologically sourced elements of his human spirit and commit only to reason, then is less a man in the eyes of his creator? Why is the anomolous SO a “fallen” state; does the supreme being lie only in the neocotical functions? Then what of these certain values man espouses, when they are a function of a reason whose SO of the lower brain function fits the stated values?
But hey, reason it out.
Ok… sue me I got a little OT philosophical…..
Sexual orientation: the direction of an individual’s sexuality with respect to the sex of the persons the individual finds sexually attractive.
Perhaps it can’t be measured precisely enough to please some but changes in sexual orientation (direction) DO occur and CAN be objectively proved. Karen cited some who did enter marriage having found one person of the opposite sex attractive. If their previous experience allowed NO possibility of being sexually attracted to ANY woman and they are now attracted to ONE…that’s a perceivable objective shift in direction. (The needle would have inched a bit towards center…)
I believe that behaviors can and do speak to shifts in the direction of sexual orientation. I don’t think they tell the whole story but they do indicate shifts.
“Karen cited some who did enter marriage having found one person of the opposite sex attractive. If their previous experience allowed NO possibility of being sexually attracted to ANY woman and they are now attracted to ONE…that’s a perceivable objective shift in direction. (The needle would have inched a bit towards center…)”
I would have to agree that the needle has to inch a bit towards the center…closer to what most might define as bisexuality, it seems.
From the majority of research that I have read (and please point out others if scientifically credible), it appears that even in most cases considered “successful,” individuals who have an exclusively same-sex attraction do not ever entirely extinguish their same-sex orientation…they simply gain the ability to also find some members of the opposite sex attractive. To me, this is hardly the “change” of orientation many christians believe is possible or might expect of their gay congregants.
When we say that “change is possible” I think what most believe (and are led to believe) is that you can go from exclusively homosexual attractions to exclusively heterosexual ones…I have not seen the research support this. I think what might be possible for some (and what you allude to), is for them to add enough heterosexual attractions to live the life they feel is consistent with their beliefs.
I’m not sure the church realizes that when they state that change is possible, what they mean is that you may be able (and still, not everyone will be able to do this) to go from a homosexual orientation to a more bisexual affectional inclination.
This is interesting to me, because the same groups that may support or encourage you in essentially becoming bisexual (which may or may not be arguably a more accurate term than ex-gay for many) but would simultaneously not support rights for these groups in preventing housing or employment discrimination, etc…
It seems that there may be a sense (and I cannot speak to this directly) of never feeling “heterosexual enough,” as someone might who always felt inclined to someone of the opposite sex, without any same-sex attractions.
Jayhuck, I mean submitting to the will of God as revealed in Scripture as interpreted by the majority of Christians for 2,000 years and also the majority of Christians outside Western culture. And, yes, I agree with them.
Lynn David writes … “Furthermore, I would venture a guess that what Jones & Yarhouse are reporting (actually the individual is reporting) is not a lessening of attraction (as a function of sexual orientation, but see below) but a lessening of the general sexual drive, which mimics a lowering of sexual attractions.”
Not being snide here and really interested in a professional answer. If they mimic each other, then how do you ever know the difference? Again, as in this general overall discussion, how do you know anyone is reporting accurately or truthfully?
Jones and Yarhouse showed graphs, etc. at the presentation that showed participant results from more than one widely accepted psychological measuring tool for sexual desire and feelings (what most people would dub attraction) and behavior. (Don’t know which they were, because AGAIN, I haven’t read the book yet.)
I totally agree with you that there is, including within the gay activist community, little consensus on the meaning of sexual orientation. So why are we all even having this conversation?
Lynn David writes … “What the Christian ministries of Exodus are then asking of their participants is to use reason to overcome what is essentially the animal in us, the emotional limbic system where sexual orientation would reside. Certainly some (all?) people should be able to use their reason and a reasoning, which for Exodus is supplied in the form of condemnation of the behavior resultant of the anomalous SO by a supreme being’s plan for mankind.”
Are you serious? Is this really your understanding of both Christianity and Exodus?
Yes, Christianity teaches that we should be willing to overcome our so-called animal instincts if they conflict with the will of God. But it’s not done solely – or even primarily – through reasoning. In actuality, it isn’t done BY us at all, but rather by Jesus through the Holy Spirit working in us.
Yes, Paul indicated that change could occur through the “renewing” of our minds, but by “mind” he meant far more than just biological processes. That’s too simplistic.
Your generalization that Exodus ministries rely mainly on condemnation is false and highly insulting.
Jayhuck writes … “The bias runs so deep and is so powerful, we really need to try and remove religion on the part of the researchers as much as possible to create any kind of respectable scientific study.”
Do you mean that only card-carrying atheists should do research or be trusted? Should all religion be expunged? Or only Christianity in general? Or specifically, evangelical, conservative Christianity?
For me, “religion” is “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe,” its primary dictionary definition. Even Darwinists, for example, have that. So won’t every researcher have some broadly defined religious bias that may influence his or her research?
The notion of ‘change’ that you described is NOT the definition espoused by Exodus. Change is change. For some, it might be a reduction in compulsiveness; for others, a shift from NEED to WANT. Still others do find a capacity to enjoy the opposite sex in ways they never could before. “Change’ is the word they use to describe these shiftings; I believe its a fair and true word.
Our problem seems to be twofold (and I hope I remember #2 by the time I get there…): You are correct when you say that many define ‘change’ as ‘complete change’. I’ve known only a few though, both ex-gays and concerned church members, who believed in the ‘complete change’ notion. (I asked one dear church lady if she was ever tempted to envy or to tell a little white-lie after all her years in the church. Did she ever expect a day when she’d NEVER be tempted again?) Most believed in decreased compulsivity, decreased frequency and intensity of temptation and a capacity for opposite sex attraction. Without exception, they believed that it was most likely they’d have homosexual temptations again–but that these would be infrequent and incidental.(I don’t have a bible handy but “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” seems to be the gist of the reference.) This is my definition of ‘change’ and it’s also the one frequently cited by Exodus leaders (Joe Dallas, Alan Chambers, Frank Worthen, to name a few).
#2–(I remembered!): You’ll note that I used the Christian word ‘temptation’ above. Notice how it ‘ties in–but not quite’ with the word ‘orientation’. It’s the ‘not quite’ part that seems to be the stumblingblock. Science can’t adequately speak to religion and religion refuses to be bound by terminology that doesn’t recognize its validity. Most ex-gays don’t care what label psychology or science puts on ‘where they are’ but they won’t use those labels themselves. (To call myself ‘bi-sexual’ because I became ‘open to’ heterosexuality–with little or no actual sexual attraction–would be untrue. Yet, the lack of aversive thoughts was quite a change!) The companion word ‘freedom’ meant ‘freedom from the life-dominating effects of a sin. (You didn’t obsess about it; you weren’t living under a cloud of guilt or self-hatred; that issue didn’t create undue obstacles to your daily walk as a Christian.)
Bonus Round. #3: It seems that the nuances of our words shift depending on whether we’re talking religiously, politically, psychologically or scientifically. (I could use the word ‘change’ in-house–within Exodus circles–and they’d interpret the word religiously as I described above. But, if I used the same word in a brief press release read by outsiders, it was often taken with the ‘complete’ sense added in. And this was after I’d handed them a packet of ‘teaching sheets’ with topics like: Reality of Temptation, Wayward Emotions, Masturbation Dilemma–all about the daily experience of ‘change’.)
the fact that we all have to remember is this – regardless of any studies, research, percentages, organizations, religions, etc. – there are some people who are not in harmony with their same gender attractions and want theraputic or other resources to help them align how they live to their personal values and beliefs. I see so much support, encouragement and resources available for the individuals who are in harmony with their same gender attractions and relationships but not so much for the individuals who are not. Don’t they deserve the same and what are we doing to facilitate them with support and resources and encouragement to live the kind of life they want to? If the current organizations, studies, research, resources, etc. that have received so much criticism are that unethical, immoral or impotent, then what suggestions or resources are available for the people who are asking for and deserving of them?
Historical interpretation is certainly one factor in understanding scripture, but using it as the single or even main factor would have prevented the protestant reformation, among other things. Now we are discussing only a tiny issue in comparison, but being a female pastor, I’m surprised you are so willing to make that claim.
And as a protestant, I would say that for about 1000 of those years we (the Church) got things pretty screwed up – even the core doctrine of salvation by grace was distorted.
Now it’s back to you to share what you mean by submission. For me, it also includes submitting to the will of God as revealed in Scripture. Does it mean the same for you?
I continue to believe that Jones and Yarhouse have a moral obligation to make certain that Exodus International and Focus on the Family are accurate in their portrayal of the study that they funded.
This is NOT comparable to Salzar. As far as I’m aware, Shidlo and Schroeder never received any payment from Salzar nor did they provide information directly to her. They didn’t go on stage with her and lend their authority to Salzar. So when she made her comments some decade later based on what she thought that she read, I didn’t think it necessary for them to personally confront her.
Timothy – I agree with Exodus but why do you think FOTF funded it? Exodus funded it and not even as much as needed. 100k was promised and they delivered on about 65k. This was announced at the AACC presentation/press conference. But unless I missed something there, I did not hear anything about FOTF funding.
Maybe it wasn’t you but I thought I was getting the idea from somewhere that J&Y should police how people in general used their work.
Karen Booth writes:
“Not being snide here and really interested in a professional answer. If they mimic each other, then how do you ever know the difference? Again, as in this general overall discussion, how do you know anyone is reporting accurately or truthfully?”
Eh… I cannot give you a “professional answer” as I am a geologist [one of those guys who keeps digging up facts about evolution and the 4.5 billion year age of the earth along with an oil well now and then]. What I am speaking from is simply my understanding of the extant science and scientific thought, as much as a geologist commenting upon psychology/neurobiology might, which you may consider to be nil. Also what seems to be a rather obvious to me from what is anecdotally and scientifically reported. And yes, my own experience as a gay man (and for that I’m not even considering lesbians here, I don’t understand them). Among that anecdotal information is the recent statement from Alan Chambers that he has never met an ex-gay and that even he has moments when he needs his support system. Along with… I am not sure but I believe it was Mr Chambers who also said of his marriage that it was a year (few years?) before intimacy with his wife was possible.
My point is that a “sexual attraction” is likely a complexity of the mind, a perception, among which includes sexual orientation (SO). It depends on what you believe and I am not sure anyone has given factual proof what sexual orientation is. For some psychologists, and I think Jones & Yarhouse tend towards this idea, sexual orientation is analogous to and measurable by sexual attaction. They will point out afterall that is about all they can measure, but what they are measuring is a psychological factor which has its origin in both mind and biology – or does it? I consider that the point Jones & Yarhouse made and Dr Throckmorton voiced as, “diminishment of homosexual attractions were more pronounced than acquisition of heterosexual attractions,” is an indication that sexual orientation is a reality separate from – but a part of the experimentally perceived psychological factor of sexual attraction.
In other words for some (many, most?) sexuality (sexual attaction) is not a “fluid” state (again, I am speaking only of men here). Yet for many others it apparently is, bisexuals and those who are truly psychogays (for want of a better word, those who experienced daddy issues, sexual abuse, etc). But for those in the Jones & Yarhouse study and for others who must first reduce homosexual attraction and then build heterosexual attractions, it seems rather obvious to me that there is a component, which I call sexual orientation, which is not a psychological factor. I can only assume that sexual orientation is a component factor, likely derived of neurobiology.
Sexual attaction is thus a psychological factor which is made up of several things, sexual orientation is at its base, however one’s life experiences, socialization, etc, come to bear on how one translates from sexual orientation, which I have come to consider to be of the limbic system (early mammalian brain) to sexual attraction, which is a function of the work of our entire brain which is the cognitive human mind. Thus sexual attraction becomes a more complex issue for humans than sexual orientation might be for a sheep. So I think people are reporting correctly that their sexual attractions are reduced but via a reduction in their sexual drive another component, like sexual orientation, of sexual attraction. Thus I do not think that means their sexual orientation is changing or ever changes; however one may develop different sexual attractions via higher brain functions. I just tend to think a person should be a whole.
Ok…. I get wordy…. and next we have…
“Are you serious? Is this really your understanding of both Christianity and Exodus?”
It was a cold, impersonal, rather clinical statement of what I think happens when one changes their sexual attractions. One uses the higher states of cognitive mind to overcome biological imperative of sexual orientation (as for the sake of that discussion of mine I have defined it to be, a neurobiological function of the limbic system [mammalian brain]).
And Karen Booth further wrote:
“Yes, Christianity teaches that we should be willing to overcome our so-called animal instincts if they conflict with the will of God. But it’s not done solely – or even primarily – through reasoning. In actuality, it isn’t done BY us at all, but rather by Jesus through the Holy Spirit working in us.”
Ok… you believe the human spirit is supernatural, I happen to believe the human spirit is purely natural. Man is a spiritual animal due to his consciousness.
And Karen Booth even further wrote:
“Yes, Paul indicated that change could occur through the “renewing” of our minds, but by “mind” he meant far more than just biological processes. That’s too simplistic.”
There is a philosophical point in science that truth is beauty, beauty, truth…. and beauty is derived of simplicity (the KISS principle, Keep It Simple Stupid). If you want to add a supernatural aspect to it then you are going outside the realm of science and adding a level of complexity which defies beauty.
And Karen Booth even, more further wrote:
“Your generalization that Exodus ministries rely mainly on condemnation is false and highly insulting.”
Uh, ok… get rid of the Biblical “clobber” passages concerning homosexuality and then tell me why Exodus should even exist. Because heterosexuals have the “ick factor” concerning homosexuality? I said the reasoning was supplied by the “condemnation of the behavior … by a supreme being’s plan for mankind.” I am not saying that any human (Exodus) condemns homosexual people or uses it in any manner to elicit guilt (though Alan Chambers’ recent politicization of the issue in Tampa as Exodus president seems to be getting into the condemnatory side).
Timothy – Do you think Shidlo and Schroeder have an obligation to correct the way the NGLTF used their research here?
S&S conducted their study in association with the NGLTF and the NGLTF in citing the study quotes percentages of people who benefitted as if this is some indication of how prevalent benefit really is.
…and then the S&S study is used to promote a prevalence number, implying that all the other people experience harm such as in this article quoting Jason Cianciotto of the NGLTF.
He pointed to a study of 202 individuals who had participated in conversion therapy. The study, conducted by two psychologists, Dr. Ariel Shidlo and Dr. Michael Schroeder, found that only 26 of the participants (13 percent) reported believing that they had successfully changed their sexual orientation. But of that 26, only eight reported that they were not experiencing “slips” back into same-sex attraction.Of the 176 participants in the self-perceived failure group, 155 (or 88 percent) reported significant long-term harm, including depression, “some to the point of wanting or attempting to commit suicide,” Cianciotto said.
He pointed to a study of 202 individuals who had participated in conversion therapy. The study, conducted by two psychologists, Dr. Ariel Shidlo and Dr. Michael Schroeder, found that only 26 of the participants (13 percent) reported believing that they had successfully changed their sexual orientation. But of that 26, only eight reported that they were not experiencing “slips” back into same-sex attraction.
Of the 176 participants in the self-perceived failure group, 155 (or 88 percent) reported significant long-term harm, including depression, “some to the point of wanting or attempting to commit suicide,” Cianciotto said.
No mention of the recruitment bias, no mention that these numbers are meaningless, no mention that the types of interventions were religious and non-religious, therapy and non-therapy, no controls for pre-existing mental and emotional conditions, etc. With sincere respect to those who went through reparative therapy and were harmed by it, there is no way to tell from S&S beyond self-report, what caused the emotional problems of the participants.
When is someone doing a study to demonstrate the harm that has been done to those who do want to change or at least cannot live with the idea that no change is possible. When will there be a study to show the damage done by those who are so insistent that the way they have experienced their sexual orientation is the only way anyone can find happiness. Please keep me informed I want to enlist. I spent years in conflict and depression because of the hopelessness I felt trying to reconcile my feelings and behaviour with my faith and being told over and over that it was my faith that had it wrong. Now I understand that it was not my faith that was wrong, but the faith of those who were trying to convince me that their way was better.
I truly look forward to the release of the J & Y study but I hope that someone has the courage to do another study to look at the damage done by the other side. My feeling is there are still many who are struggling in silence and could really benefit from such a study.
Concerned – The closest I guess is my study with Welton where we reported that reorientation clients who were pushed toward gay affirming therapy did not find the experience helpful or preferred.
I suppose we could do such a study but it would be about as meaningless regarding how the extent of harm such practices create. It would be as meaningless as S&S when it comes to documenting the prevalence damage in reverse.
Your question reminded me that no prospective outcome studies have documented the benefit of gay affirming therapy. If I am wrong, readers, point to it.
Timothy said – “You claim is little better than saying: This drug was taken by 98 participants. The 73 still alive at the conclusion of the trial did not show harm.”
Except in this case, the drop outs were not all unreachable. They did not want to participate. I have no trouble assuming some of them were not successful, may have experienced some harm, but it cannot be assumed that all did. Furthermore, it is meaningful that those remaining did not demonstrate compromised mental health because this group included those who had not changed appreciably. I believe this is important. Now, when the data is collected for future waves, this finding may change. You can be assured that whatever happens, Jones and Yarhouse will report it.
Timothy – Do you think Shidlo and Schroeder have an obligation to correct the way the NGLTF used their research here?
This doesn’t appear to be a live link.
I do think S & S is misused all over the place. I never quote it myself, and frankly I don’t think it tell us anything more significant than J & Y did: “Some small subset of a carefully selected population of … self-reported … etc.”
S & S is not representative and cannot be used to talk about percentages or suggest the same.
And I do think that if NGLTF (also a group I place little faith in) misused the report to then S & S had an obligation to correct them. Within reason – I’m not sure how many years this needs to be done but definitely for the first release and the immediate time thereafter. (was Jason Cianciotto around when it was released?)
. . . .
Timothy – I agree with Exodus but why do you think FOTF funded it?
Unless I am mistaken, FOTF is a significant funder of Exodus. Also, we do know that Exodus and FOTF are collaborative on LWO and other efforts. Up through the release of the study, the Chairman of Exodus’ Board has been held by a Focus employee. Yes they are separate, but it’s not hard to see the interlinking.
I have no trouble assuming some of them were not successful, may have experienced some harm, but it cannot be assumed that all did.
Quite true. Just as we cannot assume that none did.
My point is this: if half of those who left experienced harm, then more people were harmed than experienced improved heterosexual functioning. If J & Y are going to report 11 folks as significant, I’m not sure how we can discount 25 (or some unknown portion thereof) as not significant.
But I’ll wait to read the book before I make any statements about harm.
Timothy – The link is now live – sorry about that
Jason Cianciotto is one of the authors of the report that quotes S&S as if it were a representative study.
I do not think FOTF funds Exodus in any direct manner. I suspect they allow staff to attend Exodus functions, etc, on company time but I am pretty sure there was no FOTF connection to the funding of this study. In any event, I do think researchers should correct what they become aware of. My reactions here are based in the observation that I rarely see that same zeal in the other direction.
Can you describe what “harm” was incurred by the individuals who cited it? Also, isn’t this subjective and personal or is it the same “harm” for everyone? I have never known any therapy or rehabilitation that isn’t painful. More for some than others. I am wondering whether the word “painful” can cross the line into “harmful” and is it a matter of personal sensitivities, perception, and temperment that accommodate it. The individual who is resolved in their decision to live according to their values and seeking therapy for a shift in unwanted same gender attractions might look at it differently. They know what they want and that keeps them focused during the difficult and painful times of therapy.
Ah yes, Youth in the Crosshairs. I think you’ll find my opinion of that particular document here (a clue: I wasn’t impressed).
I believe that NGLTF should have made clear that S&S was not representative nor could quantification be drawn. They did not. Further, their “get a lawyer” advice was, I believe, insensitive to those who might have experienced harm and be in need of counseling, not a legal fight.
But as you know, Warren, that was prepared quite some time after S&S was released. Should Shidlo or Schroeder have responded? Well, it certainly couldn’t have hurt. But as I’ve said over and over, it’s not the same scenario. It’s not the same time frame. It’s just not the same.
In any event, I do think researchers should correct what they become aware of.
Then we agree.
And my answer is this … Scripture is mixed in its message about women in leadership, and different churches have come to different conclusions about it.
You are correct, however for the most part that has only been recently. Should we call this a liberal agenda, social Gospel, etc? Some churches are coming to different conclusions on monogamous, same-sex relationships, and even ordaination of gays. While my own denomination, Southern Baptists, has not come to this point yet, here is what they say about female pastors.
The revised statement on female pastors reads: "While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.""We, as Baptists, are people of the Book," explained the Rev Richard Land, a leader of the Southern Baptists’ national organization."We stand with over 19 centuries of Christian history. Most Christian traditions, in most places, in most of the centuries of the Christian faith, have understood that the office of pastor is to be filled by a man," he told CNN prior to the vote.
The revised statement on female pastors reads: "While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture."
"We, as Baptists, are people of the Book," explained the Rev Richard Land, a leader of the Southern Baptists’ national organization.
"We stand with over 19 centuries of Christian history. Most Christian traditions, in most places, in most of the centuries of the Christian faith, have understood that the office of pastor is to be filled by a man," he told CNN prior to the vote.
Sound familiar? Why are you not going with 2000 years of church history here? And why am I not out campaigning against the idea that you would hold such a position in the church? The answer to both questions is the same.
The freedom of denominations and even local congregations to make their own decisions about certain issues in scripture which are not core to salvation is important, as is the priesthood of the believer. Concerning my sexuality, I am doing exactly as I believe God wants me to do at this time. If she should tell me otherwise, I will follow. I’m willing to accept that you are in the same situation, but I won’t override my relationship with God on your say so.
David, the “woman pastor” thing is a straw-man (or maybe straw-woman) argument that I’ve encountered many, many times before.
And my answer is this … Scripture is mixed in its message about women in leadership, and different churches have come to different conclusions about it. (I personally like church polity that lets each there is also a trajectory (Paul’s statement about “neither male nor female” and his reference to one woman who may have been an apostle in the early church, for example) that points to the possibility of a broader understanding.
There is no mixed message about sex. From Genesis to Revelation, the only sexual expression that is unreservedly confirmed is that within life-long, heterosexual marriage.
Biblical Scholar Luke Timothy Johnson (who is fairly conservative) was refreshingly honest when he wrote, “I think it important to state clearly that we (gay-affirming Christians) do, in fact, reject the straightforward command of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us.”
Lynn David, thank you for the more detailed answers to some of my questions. I don’t know enough about the current research on the brain to be able to follow most of the distinctions you are trying to make.
What made most sense to me in your response was your statement … “Ok… you believe the human spirit is supernatural, I happen to believe the human spirit is purely natural. Man is a spiritual animal due to his consciousness.”
Our worldviews are so very different but you’ve never expressed that quite so pointedly before.
Sorry. Messed up paragraph above.
It should read …
And my answer is this … Scripture is mixed in its message about women in leadership, and different churches have come to different conclusions about it. (I personally like church polity that lets each local church decide through their discernment by the Spirit.) There is also a trajectory (Paul’s statement about “neither male nor female” and his reference to one woman who may have been an apostle in the early church, for example) that points to the possibility of a broader understanding.
Eddy, thank you for your post #49015. You write some great stuff.
Your definition of the word change is a good one – I think I can agree with that. I wanted to elaborate a little more on what that means though. We definitely see changes in feelings/desires in Exodus, and we see changes in behaviors – all these things are absolutely changes in almost any sense of the word – However, these changes don’t prove a change in orientation – and that, to me, is at the heart of many of these arguments. Science has not and cannot prove an actual change in orientation – ALL it can prove is that feelings, behaviors, desires, etc change. That is most certainly not the same thing as orientation changing. Even ever Ex-Ex Gay I’ve ever heard speak reported these exact same kinds of changes.
You said: “And as a protestant, I would say that for about 1000 of those years we (the Church) got things pretty screwed up – even the core doctrine of salvation by grace was distorted.”
That is your right – to believe that – I happen to disagree with you – because if the Church got it wrong the first 1,000 years of its existence, than the Bible is wrong. The CHURCH is who put the Bible together – the Book, as you know it today, was put together at one of the great Ecumenical Councils of the Church –
AND, if you think the Church is mixed in its message of women in leadership, then you might want to revisit what it says about marriage.- I come from a tradition that recognizes other authorities besides Scripture – in part because the early Church had no Bible and only infrequently had some of the letters of the Apostles.
I won’t get us any further off topic by talking about how you interpret scripture or history – because we could argue that forever, and I’m sure Eddy would end up hurting me if I did
“Your question reminded me that no prospective outcome studies have documented the benefit of gay affirming therapy. If I am wrong, readers, point to it.”
No problem Warren, that’s an easy one.
This is an odd thing to say…”gay affirming therapy.” No one worth their salt practices “gay affirming” therapy, or “straight affirming” therapy. For example, I would never say “it is good that you are gay” or “it is good that you are straight” – that’s ridiculous. We affirm clients in who they are as people living their lives…however, for example, if by “gay affirming” you mean that we let gay/lesbian clients know that they do not have a “mental illness” because of their orientation…we need only to refer to the multitude of studies referenced in the very first guideline of APA therapy with GLBT clients to see the benefits of that (my explanation below this portion):
“For over a century, homosexuality and bisexuality were assumed to be mental illnesses. Hooker’s (1957) study was the first to question this assumption. She found no difference between nonclinical samples of heterosexual and homosexual men on projective test responses. Subsequent studies have shown no difference between heterosexual and homosexual groups on measures of cognitive abilities (Tuttle & Pillard, 1991) and psychological well-being and self-esteem (Coyle, 1993; Herek, 1990; Savin-Williams, 1990). Fox (1996) found no evidence of psychopathology in nonclinical studies of bisexual men and women. Further, an extensive body of literature has emerged that identifies few significant differences between heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual people on a wide range of variables associated with overall psychological functioning (Pillard, 1988; Rothblum, 1994; Gonsiorek, 1991). When studies have noted differences between homosexual and heterosexual subjects with regard to psychological functioning (DiPlacido, 1998; Ross, 1990; Rotheram-Borus, Hunter, & Rosario, 1994; Savin-Williams, 1994), these differences have been attributed to the effects of stress related to stigmatization based on sexual orientation. This stress may lead to increased risk for suicide attempts, substance abuse, and emotional distress.
The literature that classifies homosexuality and bisexuality as mental illness has been found to be methodologically unsound. Gonsiorek (1991) reviewed this literature and found serious methodological flaws including unclear definition of terms, inaccurate classification of subjects, inappropriate comparison of groups, discrepant sampling procedures, an ignorance of confounding social factors, and questionable outcome measures. The results from these flawed studies have been used to support theories of homosexuality as mental illness and/or arrested psychosexual development. Although these studies concluded that homosexuality is a mental illness, they have no valid empirical support and serve as the foundation for beliefs that lead to inaccurate representations of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.
All major American mental health associations have affirmed that homosexuality is not a mental illness. In 1975, the American Psychological Association (APA) urged all psychologists to “take the lead in removing the stigma long associated with homosexual orientations” (Conger, 1975, p. 633). Subsequently, the APA and all other major mental health associations adopted a number of resolutions and policy statements founded on this basic principle, which has also been embodied in their ethical codes (cf. American Association for Marriage & Family Therapy, 1991; American Counseling Association, 1996; Canadian Psychological Association, 1995: National Association of Social Workers, 1996). In addition, this principle has informed a number of APA amicus curiae briefs (Bersoff & Ogden, 1987).
Thus, psychologists affirm that a homosexual or bisexual orientation is not a mental illness (APA, 1998). “In their work-related activities, psychologists do not engage in unfair discrimination based on … sexual orientation…” (APA, 1992). Furthermore, psychologists assist clients in overcoming the effects of stigmatization that may lead to emotional distress.”
So, Warren, if you mean for someone to show you the benefits of “gay affirming therapy,” one thing that is quite obviously beneficial to the client, and has been supported by research, is helping the clients cope with the stress around their orientation (coming out issues with family, etc..). Informing clients that they are not mentally ill, that nothing is “wrong with them,” and helping them to cope with the stress related to stigmatization of sexual orientation does indeed prove beneficial in addressing the risks related to stress.
If you need research that links stress to both psychological and physical consequences, I’d be happy to provide that.
Helping clients to cope, address and deal with the stress around living as a GLBT person in a relatively unfriendly, judgmental, often times discriminatory and rejecting environment definitely proves beneficial.
This may be a repeat of what I wrote above, but you said: “Perhaps it can’t be measured precisely enough to please some but changes in sexual orientation (direction) DO occur and CAN be objectively proved. ”
Its not just that it can’t be measured precisely Eddy – Changing orientation has not been proven objectively at all – ALL we can prove is a change in behaviors, feelings, desires, etc. These things do not necessarily indicate a change in orientation, and they most certainly do not prove any thing of the kind.
My apology – I just realized you didn’t make the claim about the church getting things wrong for about 1,000 years – that was David Roberts
Thank you for what you wrote above. I sometimes get very frustrated with these new terms that Evangelicals have constructed – mostly for their benefit and to suit their needs – like “gay affirming therapy”.
jag – not sure why you would not know that there is a literature surrounding gay affirming therapy also and more frequenty referred to as GLB affirmative therapy.
Experiencing gay affirmative therapy: An exploration of clients’ views of what is helpful. Pixton, Susan. Counselling & Psychotherapy Research. 2003 Sep Vol 3(3) 211-215
The Handbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy With Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Clients, Second Edition, significantly builds on the areas of knowledge mapped in the award-winning first edition and explores the practical ramifications of changes in thinking regarding effective therapy with this population. In this thoroughly updated edition, the editors explore new material on identity formation, transgender issues, public policy, and clinical supervision of therapists. They also examine new areas of scholarship and reflect on implications of recent societal changes, including political struggles for gay civil unions, marriage, and adoption rights. This volume focuses on the complex cultural contexts of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and explores how to provide them with effective and affirmative psychotherapy across a range of presenting concerns. This second edition of the handbook will be an essential resource for therapists, counselors, and researchers. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)FROM – Handbook of counseling and psychotherapy with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender clients (2nd ed.).Bieschke, Kathleen J. (Ed); Perez, Ruperto M. (Ed); DeBord, Kurt A. (Ed) Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association (2007) xviii, 442 pp.
The Handbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy With Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Clients, Second Edition, significantly builds on the areas of knowledge mapped in the award-winning first edition and explores the practical ramifications of changes in thinking regarding effective therapy with this population. In this thoroughly updated edition, the editors explore new material on identity formation, transgender issues, public policy, and clinical supervision of therapists. They also examine new areas of scholarship and reflect on implications of recent societal changes, including political struggles for gay civil unions, marriage, and adoption rights. This volume focuses on the complex cultural contexts of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and explores how to provide them with effective and affirmative psychotherapy across a range of presenting concerns. This second edition of the handbook will be an essential resource for therapists, counselors, and researchers. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)
FROM – Handbook of counseling and psychotherapy with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender clients (2nd ed.).
Bieschke, Kathleen J. (Ed); Perez, Ruperto M. (Ed); DeBord, Kurt A. (Ed) Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association (2007) xviii, 442 pp.
Affirmative Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy With Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual People. Balsam, Kimberly F.; Martell, Christopher R.; Safren, Steven A. [Book; Edited Book]
Hays, Pamela A. (Ed); Iwamasa, Gayle Y. (Ed). Culturally responsive cognitive-behavioral therapy: Assessment, practice, and supervision. (pp. 223-243). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association (2006) xiii, 307 pp.
And yes, if you have references showing outcome studies of glb affirmative therapy for clients with religious conflicts, I would like to see them.
jayhuck – gay affirming therapy or gay affirmative therapy are not terms evangelicals have constructed. Please read before you comment.
I’m just curious – Can a therapist treat homosexuality as a non-sinful, non-pathological, normal state of being/orientation without being labeled “gay affirmative”?
It sounds, from what you wrote above, that gay-affirmative might mean more than this.
And gay psychotherapist Joe Kort might surprised to learn there is no gay affirmative therapy:
Gay Affirmative Therapy for the Straight Clinician: The Essential Guide (Hardcover) by Joe Kort (Author)
See this also – there is more but there is a model of therapy that promotes coming out as the mentally healthy option. If applied to people who are in conflict and do not wish this approach, the little bit of research that we have suggests this is not a beneficial approach. jag, you apparently dont practice this way; but why assert that such an approach does not exist?
I’m not trying to be glib here – but does this mean that there is a straight-affirming therapy too? If being gay is not pathological, is not a disease – is considered a norm – then why would a therapist not treat any homosexual person, as they would a straight person? – Unless, the gay/homosexual person has values that simply can’t be reconciled any other way than to seek alternative therapies such as Reparative Therapy or SIT? This just sounds reasonable to me.
In rebuttal to my comments re ‘change in orientiation’, Jayhuck said: Its not just that it can’t be measured precisely Eddy – Changing orientation has not been proven objectively at all – ALL we can prove is a change in behaviors, feelings, desires, etc. These things do not necessarily indicate a change in orientation, and they most certainly do not prove any thing of the kind.
I believe we’ve reached the point in this particular discussion where you have to back up your strongly held opinions. I take exception to your statements that they ‘do not necessarily indicate a change in orientation’ and ‘they most certainly do not prove any thing of the kind.’ I experienced a change–a very small one but still a change. It was in the area of my orientation. To continue challenging my, Karen’s or Mary’s statements re orientation, please define what is wrong with our definition of change or orientation or provide substantive backing for your own definition.
It’s statements like that one that make me question your level of expertise.
I don’t have to back up anything – its just a fact. The only things we can show that have been changed are feelings, desires, and behaviors (in my mind, this isn’t orientation) – and the only way we can do it are through two very subjective methods of research: observation and self-reporting. I have not said that change isn’t happening Eddy – I’m simply saying that until we can come up with a truly objective way of determining what has really changed – the only things that we can say have changed for certain are the ones I listed above. I’m not sure how to make this any clearer.
Level of expertise?????
Maybe this will make it a little more clear what I’m trying to say: Self-reporting that my feelings and desires have changed is one thing. The problem is that there is no tool, that I know of, in psychology to show us what caused the feelings to change – is it suppression, repression or real change? – even the people reporting the change can’t tell us for certain, much less the researchers. They might have their beliefs and feelings, but those aren’t scientific and objective measurements. This is the limitation of self-reporting and observation – and is really problematic in this case where you have a biased political and religious group like Exodus reporting to and being observed by two like-minded researchers.
jayhuck — if your point is that sexual orientation can’t be objectively measured, then and thus, we cannot know whether there is such a thing to change or not, then I agree. I am agnostic about it all.
I tend to focus on the aspects of what is called orientation. However, instead of saying it can’t change which I thought I read from you somewhere above, it would be more accurate to say, we cannot know if there is some trait of humans known as orientation that undergirds/motivates attractions and behaviors — and thus, we are not sure if such a trait changes or not.
Those who see orientation as attraction and intent to behave will no doubt differ with the agnostic view. And those who have experienced change in both are bolder to say orientation has changed, because it happened in their case. It is all a matter of operational definition. If we define orientation as a social science construct, then we are going to need more categories than glb. There will need to be the mostlygaymanwhoisattractedtoonewoman orientation and the lesbianforawhilewhofallsinlovewiththemanatworkandthengeneralizesthattoothermen orientation. If we don’t do that then we are probably going to have see orientation as a description of what one is doing right now – which would be more behavioral.
Well, I had better go get some work done…
Well, one more comment
You cannot limit the problems of self-report to religious people (in this case, ex-gays). If you accept self-report for ex-ex-gays without much concern, then you have to accept it in the other direction.
You said: “tend to focus on the aspects of what is called orientation. However, instead of saying it can’t change which I thought I read from you somewhere above, it would be more accurate to say, we cannot know if there is some trait of humans known as orientation that undergirds/motivates attractions and behaviors — and thus, we are not sure if such a trait changes or not.”
“Those who see orientation as attraction and intent to behave will no doubt differ with the agnostic view. And those who have experienced change in both are bolder to say orientation has changed, because it happened in their case.”
What is the agnostic view? I would have to agree with that first paragraph in a sense. The problem is we have no good operational definition for the term orientation, which may be causing all this confusion.
I am not limiting the problems of self-reporting to Conservative Evangelicals – it is why some consider psychology to be a “soft science”. It does have to go both ways. I am ALSO not saying self-reporting doesn’t have any merit – but it sure can’t tell us if a real “trait” is changing as the J&Y study claims. All it can show us is that feelings and behaviors have changed – IF those feelings and behaviors do change, but are merely being repressed, is that what you would call a change in orientation????? You seemed to dodge that main point of mine.
My point, is that helping clients cope with stressors in their lives has well-documented benefits in both physical and psychological health. There is no dispute in the scientific community around the benefits of coping more effectively with stress. If you need these, however, I am happy to provide them..as stated earlier.
We know that individuals who are gay or lesbian do sometimes seek therapy for the stress around “coming out,” etc…thus, when helped to cope with these stressors more effectively, we know that there are psychological and physical benefits. We know that because the SOURCE of the stress isn’t as important as that we cope effectively with it. More effective coping with any type of stress (regardless of origin), is shown to have benefits. I trust that you know this.
You slip in a little statement that changes everything, however. You say “And yes, if you have references showing outcome studies of glb affirmative therapy **for clients with religious conflicts**, I would like to see them.”
I never mentioned that who I was referring to were clients with religious conflicts, and I didn’t get that from your original question either. Affirming someone in who they are has benefit (see work on “unconditional positive regard,” etc..).
If someone is conflicted because they do not believe that they are “right,” and are repeatedly given the message by their faith or other sources that there is something in them that is sinful…I’m not sure how much benefit there is in affirming their “gay identity,” if they believe they want to change it. I also don’t think it is your place as a therapist to lead your client in one direction or another. I give them the facts…it is not a mental disorder, it is not considered “sinful” in many places of worship, etc..
You are accurate when you state that I don’t practice gay-affirming therapy…just as I don’t practice straight-affirming therapy….which, in many ways, could theoretically be seen as an Exodus-type praise of the “straight” life over the gay one. I would say that they practice “straight-affirming” therapy to similar ends.
The difference is, Warren, that I abhore both. If you don’t find “gay affirming therapy,” to be beneficial, why do you find “straight affirming” therapy to be so? We have such poor studies on both sides.
I have no personal investment in whether my client is gay or straight…it is their life to live. Maybe others need to rethink how much their own internal issues interfere with client well-being and the ability to conduct ethical therapy.
I also don’t think it is your place as a therapist to lead your client in one direction or another. I give them the facts…it is not a mental disorder, it is not considered “sinful” in many places of worship, etc…
Do you give them ALL the facts. Or just partial facts? To someone who is having anxiety about their faith and sexuality and then you throw a “…it is not considered sinful in many places of worship…” statment in there … seems like leading to me. Do you also throw in there that some people do change, some people do not and learn to live a fulfilling productive life either as an out gay person or as a celibate person with their faith intact? No need to answer me – just food for your own thoughts.
Do you also give them the statisics on the level of sexually transmitted disease in those who practice homosexual behaviour? Do you reveal to them the level of sexual promiscuity or sex addiction that can be found? Do you reveal the high level of sexually transmitted disease in the Bonobon Chimps, which are being looked at as an example of a species that does demonstrate homosexual behaviour commonly? Do you leave out any of the “Facts” that are being reported in other scientific papers? Or are these all unimportant information that will only get in the way of them making a well rounded decision about how to live their live.
I was surprised at your comment: “if your point is that sexual orientation can’t be objectively measured, then and thus, we cannot know whether there is such a thing to change or not, then I agree. I am agnostic about it all.” You seldom admit your sympathies for the “there is no such thing as orientation” declarations of anti-gay activists.
The problem with those who deny orientation as real are two-fold.
1. In order to argue against orientation, one must focus on the exceptions, the what ifs. To say that some people do not fit completely within one box does not argue that the box does not exist. The truth is that most heterosexuals are at all relevant times attracted only to the opposite sex. And the truth is that most homosexual persons are attracted at all relevant times to only the same sex. And this truth cannot be denied by finding someone who is an exception to this rule.
2. Behind all the talk about “there is no orientation” or “there’s no homosexuals, only homosexual behavior” or whatever anti-gays use do change the subject, a truth remains: some people are attracted to the same sex. And this trait distinguishes them from those who are attracted to the opposite sex.
We can say, “it’s not orientation” or “they are only heterosexuals that struggle with same-sex attractions” or whatever we want. But ultimately these people differ in a significant way. We can call them “gay” or “hwswssa” (heterosexuals who struggle with same sex attractions) or “giant purple people eaters”.
But there is a difference. And you can say this difference is not orientation but is only “temptation to sin” or anything one likes.
But anti-gays have to admit that there is something (most call it orientation) that drives the direction of the attraction that some people (most call them gay) have so that they are attracted emotionally, sexually, physically, and romantically to the same sex. And for the vast overwhelming majority of these people, it ain’t changing – no matter how many abusive and punitive laws you pass.
“Do you give them ALL the facts. Or just partial facts? ”
Fear not Mary, I do give them all the facts…but there are far too many to list here.
Notice the Ecetera after my statement?
“Do you also give them the statisics on the level of sexually transmitted disease in those who practice homosexual behaviour? ”
Actually, I don’t.
I could, I suppose, tell them that they had the lowest risk of catching HIV if they were a lesbian, but I think that is a bit leading, don’t you? I would, however, advise any client who verbalizes promiscuity (gay or straight) that they should be wary of STDs, including HIV.
Concerned, I don’t lead my clients. It isn’t my place to make decisions for them. My point is that often times, clients have poor information coming in…for example, beliefs that they can never have a solid relationship if they are gay, or that there are no options for them if they wish to pursue changing their orientation.
People have the right to self-determination, and to attempt to live consistently with their beliefs….this means, it is up to them. It seems that you have a specific idea as to what the end result should be and how they should live, but I don’t.
I thought the meaning of agnostic was “I’m not certain” or “I’m withholding judgement at this time until I have more information” or even, “I’m open to changing my mind if someone can convince me otherwise.”
So, how does Warren’s admission that he is agnostic about sexual orientation (as I am) put him (and me, I suppose) in the anti-gay activist camp?
Warren is not witholding judgment or stating as you are “I’m not certain.” He places himself in an anti-gay activist camp by what he says…and it doesn’t seem like an “I’m not certain,” but an “I do not support this” kind of stance…
1. there are many churches which bless same-sex unions, and do believe that being gay/lesbian is not in conflict with the teachings of the Bible…he does not believe this or consider it:
He states “thus, if one supports same-sex relations or unions as sound ecclesiastical policy, one must do it with some other philosophical base than can be found in these teachings of Jesus.”
Gay christians “do exist,” perhaps we should make a video on them as well.
2. The nonsupport of efforts to end discrimination and harassment of GLBT individuals. If you were “witholding judgment,” you’d at least not advocate against respecting everyone….unless you had a specific perspective.
“No Name-Calling Week [a week for schools] was by no means specific to gays. It encouraged civil speech and respect for all students. Nevertheless, the Christian Right condemned the program and labeled it another attempt to push “the homosexual agenda.” But as the director of the National Education Association’s Health Information Network, Jerald Newberry, noted, “People who would criticize this [program], regardless of who came out with it, are people with bad hearts.”
One of those “bad hearts” belonged to none other than Warren Throckmorton: “It appears that No Name Calling Week may be another effort on the part of GLSEN and other event organizers to tell those who object to homosexuality on religious or philosophical grounds to ‘drop dead’”
I have never heard Warren advocate for equal treatment across the board, with no discrimination in housing or employment based on orientation….even on nonthinking issues, like protecting kids who are perceived (or perceive themselves) as GLBT.
He is viewed as anti-gay, for those who have heard of him, even he must know this. To be frank, many just associate him with organizations like NARTH or Exodus-type stuff and disregard it. He does much “preaching to the choir.”
I do, however, think that we should give an ear to everyone, regardless of whether we agree or disagree, or whether anyone else takes them seriously.
You said: “I also don’t think it is your place as a therapist to lead your client in one direction or another. I give them the facts…it is not a mental disorder, it is not considered “sinful” in many places of worship, etc…”
– I strongly disagree with you here. Therapists should not instruct a client down any direction other than the proved normal, non-pathologic one. What I’m trying to say is that in the same way therapists don’t offer up unsolicited information to heterosexuals on how to change the direction of their orientation (forgive the hyperbole here), therapists also shouldn’t simply offer unsolicited resources or advice to gay people on being Ex-gay – The only time a therapist should do this is if the client is having a real problem with their values and their orientation, and there is no other way to help them. Information on ex-gay groups and therapy is a last resort kind of thing – it doesn’t merit being offered as a regular part of therapy – Clients only need that information if they specifically seek it or truly need it. And even if they DO want it, more rigorous questions need to be asked to make sure that person really wants change or is just unhappy being gay but not because of conflicting values – Religious ideology and therapies don’t belong in regular therapy. Hopefully, I didn’t misunderstand you here.
Karen and Warren,
I know what agnosticism is – I am a traditional Christian though, and I’m still puzzled by what Warren meant by the Agnostic View above.
I also just wanted to reiterate my argument above – there is absolutely no way of objectively showing that REAL change – the kind Evangelicals speak of, has taken place. Change happens, but there is no way of proving that what is happening is what Evangelicals claim it is – and THAT is a problem. Hopefully this language will work better than using orientation as I tried to above.
You might want to talk to Jag about that – since that was a quote from one of her posts.
Ah – sorry – I initially misread this, but it makes sense. Thanks
“I thought the meaning of agnostic was “I’m not certain” or “I’m withholding judgement at this time until I have more information” or even, “I’m open to changing my mind if someone can convince me otherwise.””
The simplest definition of ‘agnostic’ is “I don’t know”. The adjective still holds this meaning but we’ve ‘nounified’ it so that the term ‘agnostic’ means someone who doesn’t know if they believe in God. Warren, however, was using the word in its valid adjective sense and elaborated: ‘we cannot know if there is some trait of humans known as orientation that undergirds/motivates attractions and behaviors — and thus, we are not sure if such a trait changes or not.’ It’s the ‘we cannot know’ and the ‘we are not sure’ part of his statement that support his use of the term ‘agnostic’.
Read again what I wrote:
You seldom admit your sympathies for the “there is no such thing as orientation” declarations of anti-gay activists.
I did not say that Warren makes such declarations, but that he has sympathies for them.. symathies that are not often shared here.
Similarly, Warren does not often share his views on how civil government should respond to those persons who are same-sex attracted but do not share his religious views.
For clarity: i do not categorize those who are believe that homosexual behavior is contrary to scripture as “anti-gay”. I do, however, believe that title is due to those who seek civil legislation that is punative or discriminatory against gay persons solely because they are gay persons.
The following is not directed exactly at either you or Dr. Throckmorton, but it is relevant, I think.
I was thinking earlier this week about those who “love the sinner, hate the sin”. Yet they also go out of their way to be spiteful to “the sinner”. Let me give you a small inconsequential – yet illustrative – example.
Suppose that I met you and you said, “please call me Karen”. If I responded by calling you “Ms. Booth”, you would rightly view this a hostile and deliberately insulting.
Yet there are plenty of people who “love the sinner” yet refuse to call gay people “gay” unless it’s in quotes. Why? Simply because they want to insult gay people. “It’s not gay!”, they say, “it’s homoSEXuality”.
These people demonstrate quite easily that there is not love in their “love the sinner”, only a desire to hurt others.
So too is it with “anti-gay”. So many people say, “I’m not anti-gay. I love gay people and want them to leave this destructive lifestyle”. Yet their behavior towards gay people demonstrates contempt and a desire to be hurtful and insulting.
It isn’t love. It is hateful and anti-gay. And it is demonstrated by their behavior, regardless of what they claim.
Isn’t therapy serendipitous as well? In other words, don’t some people come in thinking or believing or behaving one way and through the theraputic process of exploring and discovering, end up thinking or believing or behaving another way? Something they never could have expected?
Does the term “anti-gay” equate to someone who does not endorse or embrace same gender relationships? When I refer to relationships, I am not referring to an individual who has same sex attractions and feelings, rather, the endorsement or encouragement of active same gender relationships. It seems like quite a leap to call someone anti-gay if they have a different thought than another about this.
I agree with you about how people can describe change. I don’t think it should ever be talked about in boastful or general terms – ever! It is such a personal issue and has so many dimensions to it that it can be difficult to describe by even the most sincere and articulate person. I think it is something that should be felt in a quiet and measured way and shared with only the most intimate and trusted people.
I agree with you about sharing in a most quiet and intimate way. When I have tried to explain, my words were twisted around. If I shared among supposedly christian people then- well – they cannot all be trusted as rumors and gossip still exist in the church. And as far as any man in your church knowing – unfortunately – many men still have this idea that women are too be “ever pure” before their life with Christ and quickly discount any woman who is ex gay.
I am learning to stay ever more private about the issue.
My apologies then – you didn’t quote it or attribute it to Jag so I thought it was something you said. Having you say these things would mean something far different than having Jag say them. With all the different discussions going on I haven’t had time to read everyone’s post. My response still stands though 😉
“Warren, however, was using the word in its valid adjective sense and elaborated: ‘we cannot know if there is some trait of humans known as orientation that undergirds/motivates attractions and behaviors”
– Thanks for reiterating this. Karen shed light on this as well. I should have caught that, but you are right, we use the word in such a different way most of the time.
Just wanted to let you all know that I’m not going to post anymore about the Jones/Yarhouse study unless a thread starts for those of us who are actually reading the book. The conversations seem to me to be getting both more personal and less logical.
Sorry … I shouldn’t have used that word “logical.” It’s too judgmental. Make that “the conversations seem to me to be getting both more personal and less fruitful.”
I was just thinking that would be a good idea, Karen. I have no problem with asking questions and commenting on what people know about it, but to really discuss the study, reading it would be a plus
Is there any way to get ahold of the study for those of us who may be too poor to purchase it?
Just wanted to let you all know that I’m not going to post anymore about the Jones/Yarhouse study unless a thread starts for those of us who are actually reading the book.
Good grief, a 5th thread on this? Who can keep up, lol. Well, my post to you here wasn’t really directly about the study, does that mean you aren’t going to reply to that either?
Karen, Warren, I agree. I have my copy here and just started reading it tonight.
Glad to see you back on the board.
“Isn’t therapy serendipitous as well? In other words, don’t some people come in thinking or believing or behaving one way and through the theraputic process of exploring and discovering, end up thinking or believing or behaving another way? Something they never could have expected?”
Absolutely, that is why, to me…it is so important to allow this to be the client’s process – not me having a particular end-game in mind for them. That’s why I say “People have the right to self-determination, and to attempt to live consistently with their beliefs….this means, it is up to them. ”
Some clients will resolve their conflicts in sexuality by acknowledging that their conflict was more over environmental pressures than about internal conflict. Others will discover that it was about a misalignment of self with who they perceive themselves to be, etc..there are limitless variations.
I hope that they ultimately discover a way in which they will choose to live their life that will make them happy and find satisfaction…sometimes it takes hanging in there with them for quite some time while they go through this. Sometimes the end result is much different than they may have expected going in.
You are absolutely right about that….it is an evolution, sometimes in the same direction as when they walked in the door…and othertimes, in the completely opposite way as they initially expected.
David writes, “Good grief, a 5th thread on this? Who can keep up, lol. Well, my post to you here wasn’t really directly about the study, does that mean you aren’t going to reply to that either?”
I can’t link to the “here” to see what you’d like me to reply to. Please give me a reference number or repost your comments/questions.
I’m not going to quit posting on the blog (except for next week when I’m on vacation), just not going to engage in conversation about the J/Y study with folk that haven’t or don’t intend to read the book.
I also apologize for the initial post with which I started this thread. Jim Burroway did write a very civil response. Subsequent posters took it off kilter. But my comment didn’t help either.
Thank you for that explanation. It made me realize how difficult uncovering the truth of why someone is having conflicts with their orientation could be. There are so many reasons a client might have a conflict other than religion.
there are limitless variations.
These are such important words that Jag writes – no one should be put in any particular catagory with others – we all come with our own individual and personal story. When a therapist understands their client’s individuality, a very good service has been done.
Does the term “anti-gay” equate to someone who does not endorse or embrace same gender relationships? When I refer to relationships, I am not referring to an individual who has same sex attractions and feelings, rather, the endorsement or encouragement of active same gender relationships. It seems like quite a leap to call someone anti-gay if they have a different thought than another about this.
If one is opposed to a gay relationship, I would call them anti-gay-relationships.
However, whether they are “anti-gay” is determined by how they respond to their own opposition, ie. how they treat gay people. If they then decide that they are to be the one that determines whether a gay person has a relationship then yes, they are anti-gay. They have decided that their opposition overrules the decisions of a gay person about the gay person’s own life – because as a gay person their decisions are not to be valued or, indeed, allowed. This is, without question, anti-gay.
You can oppose a notion. But when you decide that your opposition overrules the freedoms of gay people to control their own lives, you have become anti-gay.
To make a comparison: I am not Catholic and I disagree with much of the doctrine and tradition of Catholicism. That doesn’t make me anti-Catholic.
But if I try to pass laws that Catholic churches not be tax exempt, or that Catholic schools not be credentialed, or that Catholic priests not use clergy parking at a hospital, or that Catholic priest be barred from being a chaplian in the military, then it is clear that I’m anti-Catholic.
I can claim, “I’m not anti-Catholic, I’m pro-Pentecostal”. But it would not be true. And I could say, “I love Catholics but I just want them to be free from that idolitrous practice”. But again my actions deny my claims of “love”.
But this raises for me an interesting question. Why is it that so many people who are anti-gay (as demonstrated by their actions) hate being called anti-gay?
Timothy, by the same token, if someone takes political action to overrule or overturn laws (ie, traditional marriage) that many Christians believe reflect their Judeo-Christian worldview, thereby inflicting an incompatible worldview upon them, does that make that activist anti-Christian?
When a parent reprimands a child or sets restrictions…i.e. curfew, acceptable school attire, parties, dating, TV/video/computer use…does that mean they are ‘anti-Johnny’ or ‘anti-Suzie’?
It’s another debate entirely whether Christians ought to be using politics to play ‘parent to the world’ but it does explain the motivation of many. That’s why many are able to endure the railings (tantrums?) of those who don’t understand why they do what they do.
My own belief is that this simply isn’t the right way to do it. Everybody might be forced to toe the line we’ve drawn but, if it’s by legal force, then nothing has been gained spiritually. It seems to be a major area of confusion for politically conservative Christians. On one hand, they believe that ‘nothing we do apart from Christ has any eternal significance’ while on the other, they try to change external behaviors by law rather than by the transforming power of the gospel.
So, while my parent/child analogy may explain the motivation of many, the reality is that we aren’t in a parent/child relationship with the rest of the world and shouldn’t try to enforce our religious codes on others.
Karen, the post you could not link to is 49275. Don’t know why that link didn’t work.
Karen, if someone took political action to deny a Christian their traditional marriage (because they were Christian) or even to to insist that they have some worldview other than their Christian worldview then yes absolutely they would be anti-Christian.
This is what I meant in the discussion above about Catholics. For a period in Brittian the state did not recognize a marriage that was performed by Catholics.
Fortunately there is no effort by anyone in the US to deny traditional Christians their traditional marriages nor to infringe on their worldview.
(Quite naturally I question the worldview of someone who thinks that wiccan rituals that cast spells and call on pagan goddesses, unions between athiests and the very devout, drunken Vegas weddings of the newly met, marriages between those who are working on husband or wife number 15, and Anna Nicole marriages to octogenarians are all to be recognized by the state … but not Christian same-sex vows before God and community. However, we are all entitled to our own worldview.)
I question young women who marry old, old men.
David, thank you for the reference to the post, but I think I already answered most of your question about women in ministry when I wrote about consistency and Scriptural trajectory (#49264 above).
I’m really still not sure what else you want me to answer or clarify. I agree with you that each individual needs to come to his or her own conclusion about sexuality. But that doesn’t negate my responsibility and call as a pastor and teacher to share what I believe is God’s revealed will. That’s what I’m doing. I don’t see any contradiction there.
My point is that with issues which are not core to the faith, and I hope we can all agree that this is not a core issue, you should relay your beliefs or understanding of scripture as just that – this is the way I see it, not “thus sayeth.” Doing otherwise is arrogant (and I mean generally, this is not a personal smear) and there is a handy set of mill stones awaiting those who do.
Doing so leads to the demonization of good people on both sides for their own, sincere understanding of scripture. Suppose the Southern Baptists were to actively target Methodists for their “heresy” of allowing women to pastor congregations? Only a few years back, and in some cases still, this would have been considered just that. Your understanding of scripture allows you to think otherwise, but someone could say that you came to that conclusion to rationalize your own desire to be a pastor.
Would you be willing to stop pastoring, admit that it was wrong to do so in the first place, and actively preach against any other women doing so, all because the Southern Baptists told you so?
“Timothy, by the same token, if someone takes political action to overrule or overturn laws (ie, traditional marriage) that many Christians believe reflect their Judeo-Christian worldview, thereby inflicting an incompatible worldview upon them, does that make that activist anti-Christian?”
I think if someone were to try to pass legislation that would not allow Christians to have traditional christian marriages, then they would indeed be anti-christian. GLBT people do not want to change those marriages, but simply have marriages as well…because they will certainly not be opposite-sexed marriages, you’ve got nothing to fear.
Gay advocacy groups also do not require your church to bless them, or have them in your churches if your church does not wish to. Churches who are exclusionary, and choose to restrict the blessing of their unions are, indeed, anti-gay.
I suppose, by your definition, since I am a woman married to another woman (legally in Canada, and in a home church here in the states), then I am anti-christian? Funny, because I am a member of a christian church, support family values, and have always seen making a commitment under God as far more Christian than taking the option of simply shacking up.
Extending marriage rights doesn’t change what you are capable of or restrict anyone. Passing exclusionary laws does. If I don’t stand in your way of living exactly the type of life you choose, I am hardly anti-anything. On the other hand, if you vote against me being able to have the life I wish, and want to restrict me, leave me unable to legally be responsible for my property, spouse or child…that’s anti-gay. It’s also hoping for a theocracy…which, fortunately for me, we don’t have. All religious beliefs should be respected…and some, don’t have the issues with same-sex unions that yours may.
David, in line with what I wrote in post 49264, about the mixed Scriptural message of women in leadership and the trajectory toward a broader understanding of it, I don’t think it’s a core issue, essential to salvation as you put it earlier. So while I can honor the Southern Baptists – and others – who conclude differently than I do, I also don’t have to give much regard to their “say so.”
Again, I don’t think the Scriptural message about sexuality is mixed. I think how we live our sexual lives is a core issue. Possibly for salvation – or at least for eternal life. (For example, in 1 Corinthians 6 Paul writes that those engaged in homosexual behavior – among other behavior – will not inherit the Kindgom of God.)
For me, it’s far more a core issue of sanctification, the maturing in Christian faith and molding into Christ-likeness. (1 Thessalonians 4.)
Because I believe sexuality is a core issue, I have a duty as a pastor to address it through teaching, pastoral care, etc. I don’t “impose” that on anyone, unless the very teaching itself is an imposition.
Well at least you agree that one must personally deal with these issues as God leads in one’s own life. I think your reading of the role of woman as pastors is a bit convenient, and I don’t see any support for it in Scripture, but then times change don’t they.
If you truly see that word Paul used as having anything to do with what we are talking about here, well we just have to disagree. It’s been interpreted as so many things throughout the years that I find it strange anyone would use it to anchor a core tenant – certainly not a salvation issue. I don’t even think Alan Chambers holds such a view.
I’m extremely secure in my faith, and God has a right to correct me at any time. Just make sure you give Him the same right.
“Churches who are exclusionary, and choose to restrict the blessing of their unions are, indeed, anti-gay”
Wow – This is a very telling statment about how a gay person sees gayness as an identity. Of course a person is going to feel that a church is anti -them if that church does not accept their core being. And this is where the conflict arises because in contrast there are those who do not think/feel/believe that homosexuality is a core essence of being and (like alot sexuality that) goes beyond the intention of God’s creation. So esssentiall that their core being is something other than their sexuality.
Sorry… your comment slipped in there while I was responding to Karen and I didn’t see it until this morning.
I think your illustration about children is spot on. That is EXACTLY how many anti-gays view gay people – as incompetent and willful children who need someone else to make their decisions for them. Needless to say, I find that condescention and arrogance to be irrational, offensive, and – at it’s very core – anti-Christian.
This is exactly the same as how “good Christians” saw American Indians, how they viewed African slaves (and even African Americans after slavery), and how they viewed women. This “white man’s burden” has for the most part now been recognized as being contrary to the proclamation that “there is neither jew nor greek…”. I hope the time will be soon that Christians will come to realize that God has not called them to make life decisions for others.
Further, I think that you touch on something interesting when you contrast spiritual influence with force by law.
I think that many religious leaders are frustrated that their preaching seems to have so little effect on the world. Rather than their constituents responding to their fire and brimstone sermons by dropping to their knees, they say, “thanks but I don’t need that. See ya” and stay in bed on Sunday.
Some respond by trying to find a way to make the message of Christ relevant to the lives of their parishoners. Others seek to pass laws to force people to do what their persuasion will not cause them to do. I guess they think that if the Holy Spirit will not convict people, then the court will.
“I guess they think that if the Holy Spirit will not convict people, then the court will”
I agree – this kind of mandating of behavior is not right as it makes it an imposition rather than a choice.
Interestingly, I am currently reading 1 Corinthians in my morning devotions.
I’m certain that you know that the Greek used in chapter 6 cannot be translated as homosexual behavior without question. We all know that Paul coined a new word here and that there is not contemporary literature to validate our current translations.
I know that there are good reasons for your understanding of the word. But you must accept that there are also good reasons for this word to be understood otherwise. Therefore, your insistence that this is a core belief is (for want of a better word) a little arrogant. It says that you are absolutely correct and that those who study scripture and come to a different conclusion than you are not seeking God’s meaning but instead distorting a core belief of Christianity.
I won’t try to change your understanding of Corinthians – I’m sure it’s based on sincere study. But in reading Corinthians again I’m finding that my understanding of the letter to the church in Corinth is very different than how you are portraying that single scripture.
Much of the letter is devoted to the notion that differences in faith are to be accepted and that we are not to lord over others or insist they change to believe as we do. In fact, Paul cautions that proclaiming our wisdom and insisting on our correct understanding is foolishness.
We are especially directed that if our beliefs drive others from Christ – or cause them to stumble – then we are to be humble. (Now is probably not the time for me to express how I think the church has driven gay people away from Christ).
And further, Paul immediately following verses 9 – 11 expounds on sexual immorality. He does so again in the 10th chapter (this morning’s devotion). In both expounding discussions he is talking about prostitution.
Additionally, every other wickedness listed in 9 – 11 (sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, slanderers, and swindlers) are all discussed more than once in this book.
If the words malakoi and arsenokoitai are in reference to homosexual relationships, per se, then they would stand alone in this letter as the only thing that isn’t parallelled and discussed in multiple places. If they are understood to be temple prostitution then they would be consistent with the rest of the letter.
This is not to be argumentative or to open up the clobber passages to debate. And I’m aware that you have religious authorities (Dr. Gagnon for example) who argue your interpretation. It’s just what I was thinking while reading this week and I thought I’d share it.
If a young, unmarried, pregnant girl went into a synagogue, church, temple or other religious establishment and that establishment chose to not endorse her life choices, would they be considered anti-unmaried, young, pregnant girls? FYI – I am using this as an example only – it is not my personal opinion. Also, is this blog only Christian oriented or can others feel included who are not Christian and do not relate to all the Christian references?
“So esssentiall that their core being is something other than their sexuality.”
I agree, but I think we have a misunderstanding. When I say that a church is antigay who does not bless same-sex unions, I don’t mean that they reject my “sexuality,” but that they are rejecting everything that is a part of my life due to that.
As you have mentioned many times, and I agree with, your orientation is far more than who you prefer to sleep with.
By not blessing the unions, or actively working against them, the church demeans the emotional connection, commitment to another, and family that I have as being equal to their own or worthy of God’s blessing. By not supporting legislation that would allow it not to be legal for someone to throw me and my family out of an apartment simply for being a same-sex family. That is not about sex at all…it’s about a right to live amongst other people as equals, to be treated the same even though we make different life decisions.
That I am a gay women rarely comes up…because the person I sleep with is the person I love…i don’t think of it as “gay sex,” but the union with the person God has blessed me with, who I have made a commitment to. I don’t see my life in gay/straight terms, only when reminded that I CANNOT do something because of it or am threatened because of it, does it seem to matter at all.
In fact, I would argue that my orientation seems to matter far more to everyone else than it does to me. My core being is not my sexuality, everyone just seems to see me only through that lens. I am a wife, professor, therapist, sister, and oneday a mother. But others? They are so focused on how I live, who I live with, if I would adopt children, that they constantly bring it up. Heck, I’m just a christian woman living her life…who happens to love another woman.
If I could just hold my wife’s hand and walk in any door feeling welcomed, not lose my job or housing over it, be able to make legal commitments for my family’s stability, etc..it wouldn’t really be an issue at all.
Do we have an understanding about this?
” I don’t mean that they reject my “sexuality,” but that they are rejecting everything that is a part of my life due to that. ”
I still read that you are saying that your whole life is due to your sexuality.
People in the church may be anti-gay (I feel that) but Christ and his church are not anti gay. The church from a conservative religious perspective welcomes all but that homosexuality as a practice is outside of God’s intended purpose of sexual relationship.
I know you believe with your whole heart in the sexual/romantic/sacredness of your marriage. I really do see that. I am not arguing that that is what you feel/believe/think/know. But that others see differently does not mean they care less about gays or harbor ill will, or hate. It means they interpret the biblical passages of sexuality/romance/relationship between the sexes and among the same sexes differently than do you.
How can this be articulated to anyone and everyone in a way that you are asking for their respect not their approval? I really think this is the area that most people get stuck in. If they feel they are not crossing the line that compromises their beliefs, then I think respect will come easily and then wanting friendship and rights for their friends even easier. I honestly believe this. I’m going to put on my thinking cap too.
Am I misunderstanding – You moved from talking about anti gay churches to ending with the statment of civil rights??? Are these two different issues?
But that others see differently does not mean they care less about gays or harbor ill will, or hate.
That is quite true. There are many who comment here who do not harbor ill will or hate.
Unfortunately, many in the church (I would say most of those who are vocal in the conservative church) do evidence their ill will towards gay persons. They seek to deny them services and housing, take their children from them, deny them the ability to make decisions about their own relationships and lives, refuse them the dignity of defending their nation, and rejoice in reporting any misbehavior by any single gay person as though it were indicative of all gay people.
I look forward to the day where those who oppose homosexuality on religious grounds will grant to gay people the same measure of consideration that they grant to hindus or to the greedy.
Special thanks for posts 49913 and 49919. Clear, insightful and a zero on the ‘snarky’ scale. The latter was the clearest rebuttal to the traditional interpretation I’ve heard to date.
I think these two posts are well worth the read. I can vouch for the fact that they don’t contain any of the ‘extra baggage’ that disturbs you. I support you in your decision BTW…I’ve got a few people I won’t read either unless someone else let’s me know it’s worth it.
Ann, Jag, Timothy, Mary–
If we could manage to keep to the focus and tone of our political discussion of the past few days, I think we might actually get somewhere with it. (JAG–I think I warned you that we might need a bigger ‘center table’.)
Thanks all. Very good stuff!
Thank you for your comments. I understand and respect that people have viewpoints that differ from my own. I respect that some believe that my choices are not in God’s will, and others believe it is. No problem for me. My only issue has been, when the conservative church doesn’t just espouse its own perspective, but attempts to restrict the choices of others who do not share their beliefs.
I agree with your statements…it is a difficult matter. How do we have individuals respect each other and their choices without feeling like we are violating each other? I’m not sure. We are equally Christian with different interpretations of Biblical truths, we should be able to support each other. I don’t want to violate anyone…I just want to be free to live my truth…as I hope others do.
I just wanted to say that this statement you made really hit me:
“And as far as any man in your church knowing – unfortunately – many men still have this idea that women are too be “ever pure” before their life with Christ and quickly discount any woman who is ex gay.
I am learning to stay ever more private about the issue.”
I hope that there comes a time when you will not feel that you have to be stifled by your environment and that you will not feel that people will judge you. It makes your place of worship feel restricted, suffocating and not the accepting, free place it should be to just “be yourself.” You’ve made choices in your life to live the life you wanted for yourself and saw most consistent with your view of your faith – and that should never be something to be ashamed about. I hope that people will be more open to you, and the unique position of all exgay people.
Until then, you have my thoughts and prayers.
David, I don’t know what “one word” you’re talking about, though I assume you mean arsenokotai in teh Corinthians passage.
The one word, however, that I anchor it on is porniea, as in the 1 Thessalonians passage. Paul’s hearers would have understood that to include same-sex behavior.
“I still read that you are saying that your whole life is due to your sexuality.”
Would you say this about a straight married woman. That her life focus is to be able to *keep* her kids, husband, work, and housing doesn’t seem to focused on her “sexuality,” yet that’s all I was trying to say. I see that heterosexual woman as a “family woman,” just as I see the same concerns of a gay woman being a “family woman.”
The only difference is what others call you, and how others treat you. The heterosexual woman would be seen as family oriented, and I am seen as “gay” oriented.
Timothy, I”m not sure we’re connecting on the scriptural stuff – or ever will. (Maybe because I didn’t write as fully or clearly as I could have.) I believe teaching on human sexuality – and how we live in light of that – is core to our faith, not just that one passage in Corinthians based on one disputed Greek word. And I am aware of how (for lack of a better term) the revisionists or progressives interpret those passages, because I used to subscribe to their worldview.
I’m not surprised that you and I differ here and I’m not unduly bothered by it.
I am surprised, though, that you imply it is “slightly arrogant” to hold firmly to your convictions, and apparently, to preach and teach them as a pastor. And I doubt very much that you would judge a forthright gay-affirming pastor the same way.
What’s the alternative? Would you prefer to have someone in the pulpit who doesn’t really know what he or she believes? Or delivers a message based on what’s going to be most acceptable to the largest crowd?
I tried that for the first 5-6 years after seminary, and it’s a sure fire method for killing a church.
I agree with this: “It means they interpret the biblical passages of sexuality/romance/relationship between the sexes and among the same sexes differently than do you.” – I really do
I’ve met some really wonderful and loving Christians who don’t really support what many gay people do.
I think its important to note, though, that out of that same conservatism – which can spawn love and caring – the message about gay people is too often twisted by pastors and lay people alike and used to subjugate gay people, to abuse them or make them feel inferior. I know this happens because I saw it growing up.
Wow – I couldn’t have said this any better myself: “So, while my parent/child analogy may explain the motivation of many, the reality is that we aren’t in a parent/child relationship with the rest of the world and shouldn’t try to enforce our religious codes on others.”
“I think your illustration about children is spot on. That is EXACTLY how many anti-gays view gay people – as incompetent and willful children who need someone else to make their decisions for them. Needless to say, I find that condescention and arrogance to be irrational, offensive, and – at it’s very core – anti-Christian.”
Thanks Jag – I know things will change – it just gets frustrating at times.
(I’m really tired right now – and will respond to the other post either later – or next day)
Karen Booth wrote”
“The one word, however, that I anchor it on is porniea [sic], as in the 1 Thessalonians passage. Paul’s hearers would have understood that to include same-sex behavior.”
The Greek word, porneia, appears in various all over the New Testament from the Gospels, Acts, Corinthians and especially in Revelation. Why you should pick out a minor occurrance in Thessalonians and demand there that it apply to same-sex activity when in every other spot it simply is accorded the idea of general immoral sexual behavior, ie. fornication, is beyond my ken. There is nothing in the context of 1 Thess 4 that would indicate that it mean sexual activity between men.
My point, again probably badly made, is that Paul’s hearers (and Jesus’ and John’s hearers, for that matter) would have included same-sex behavior within the broader category of porneia, which can also be spelled pornea if we want to get picky about it. (Gagnon and others have a full treatise on this, and if you want more information, I can give you the sources.)
The 1 Thessalonians passage, which includes the word pornea, colors my understanding of human sexuality choices being key in the Christian sanctification process.
That’s how I connect the two, and you can disagree, which is, of course, your right.
Unfortunately, a straight woman’s life does focus on her sexuality (her husband, children, family etc…) And the conservative perspective on sexual relationships has had a huge impact on her life and choices. So does yours.
A church or organization of faith that you do not belong to – does not have to accept your vision. For you or I to impose our own biblical interpretation onto another group is exactly what we do not want have done to us. That’s why there are SOOOOO many denominations of the Christian faith.
I don’t like it when a church tries to make legislation, either.
You said: “My point, again probably badly made, is that Paul’s hearers (and Jesus’ and John’s hearers, for that matter) would have included same-sex behavior within the broader category of porneia”
I hope you’ll forgive me for jumping into this discussion, but the way you crafted the sentence above makes it sound like its your educated belief that they would have done this, but you don’t know for certain?????
I hate getting into discussions like this because there are good, educated and knowledgeable people of faith on both sides of the issue – but I wanted to clear up that one sentence
Please don’t be offended at this, but sometimes I think you object to things I did not say rather than to the things I actually did say. For example:
I am surprised, though, that you imply it is “slightly arrogant” to hold firmly to your convictions, and apparently, to preach and teach them as a pastor.
I do not claim that it is arrogant to hold to your convictions. Rather, my comment was based on the following
I think how we live our sexual lives is a core issue. Possibly for salvation – or at least for eternal life. (For example, in 1 Corinthians 6 Paul writes that those engaged in homosexual behavior – among other behavior – will not inherit the Kindgom of God.)
in which it seems you are saying that it is a core belief that those who engage in homosexual behavior will not inherit the kingdom of God. It is this assignment of “core belief” to your interpretation of 1 Corinthians 6 – and the dismissal of those who disagree – that I find slightly arrogant.
Certainly you should believe and teach what you think is right. But to assign “core beliefs” of Christianity to one’s interpretation of three verses seems to me to be in contradiction to the epistle you reference.
But perhaps that is not what you meant.
Karen Booth wrote;
“The 1 Thessalonians passage, which includes the word pornea, colors my understanding of human sexuality choices being key in the Christian sanctification process.
That’s how I connect the two, and you can disagree, which is, of course, your right.”
LOL! Being an atheist I naturally disagree. But I can take the viewpoint of the Christian and I do see your point. But the point is what is fornication? Simply any illicit sexual act outside of a committed relationship? Whoops… that could conceivably encompass committed gay relationships also. What… no?
Jayhuck, I meant that my point in the previous post (to which the other poster responded) had been badly made.
And no, I’m not saying that I’m uncertain Paul, Jesus and John would have included homosexual behavior within their understanding of pornea. They would have.
This interchange with you and Timothy is getting more and more confusing – to me, and probably to other readers as well. If I have time before leaving for vacation, I’ll try to respond more fully to Timothy’s post above, but it may have to wait until I return home.
You asked a good question:
“If a young, unmarried, pregnant girl went into a synagogue, church, temple or other religious establishment and that establishment chose to not endorse her life choices, would they be considered anti-unmaried, young, pregnant girls?”
Perhaps in the instance you give above…the sin is perceived as behind her, and we can all relate to have been a sinner “once,” and now attempting to go on a better path. The homosexual who is happy in their life presents a problem…they are “active” in their sin. But then again…
I think this illustrates well the differences in how the church has elected to treat some “sinful” behavior differently than others. For example, there are opposite-sexed couples who attend church together, and are actively having premarital sex…but people aren’t complaining or making them feel unwelcome. They don’t ask them to “hide” their relationship by not holding hands in church, etc. There is a type of selective enforcement of morality.
In most instances, I think christians have a good ability to “love the sinner.” I’m not sure why homosexuality is treated differently, do you?
I don’t know homosexuality is treated differently. There need to be some changes made in that area.
I guess I’m confused. Since they did not specifically include homosexual behavior, how is it that you know they would have?
I have a question for you – was child molestation included?? If you do not read something specifically – item by item – how might the biblical writers and readers determine from the scriptures what is sexually appropriate?
Good question – but it leads us back to where the real problem is, and that is that ALL of us interpret the Bible. Sometimes, whether we are conservative or liberal, we interpret it the way we want it to be – NOT that I don’t believe there are more correct interpretations out there than others.
I take a LITTLE offense at your example of child molestation and somehow equating that with homosexuality.
Jayhuck stated…”Since they did not specifically include homosexual behavior, how is it that you know they would have?”
You stated: “I have a question for you – was child molestation included?? If you do not read something specifically – item by item – how might the biblical writers and readers determine from the scriptures what is sexually appropriate?”
I really hope that you are not drawing parallels between homosexuality and child molestation.
Let me give a stab at the question you pose to Jayhuck…how would “I” know if it wasn’t specifically included. Because children cannot give consent to participate in sexual acts, and any sexual activity between a child and adult has a necessary power differential.
Homosexual acts (like heterosexual ones) should be between two consenting adults.
Lynn David … since as an atheist you would logically disavow the authority of Scripture, I wonder why you desire to have this particular conversation with me. If you sincerely seek a deeper knowledge of the Bible and also intend to apply its teachings to your life, then I’m more than willing to continue. If not, then this is little more than a “war of words.” I have no time or desire to engage in that.
Jayhuck … The “plain sense of Scripture” (as John Wesley, founder of Methodism, termed it) involves a consistent reading of the entire Old and New Testaments. From Genesis to Revelation, God’s revealed will is that sexual intimacy should occur only within the life-long covenant of a heterosexual marriage. It’s the only sexual expression Jesus affirmed, and it’s the only one that mystically reflects His relationship with His Church (Ephesians 5) and God’s husband-like relationship with Israel.
The New Testament doesn’t chronicle Jesus, Paul or John specifically mentioning rape, adult/child sexual intimacy, bestiality or a host of other possible sexual behaviors, either. It wasn’t necessary in the context of their times and their Jewish teaching. Their Jewish-Christian followers would have already known (and their Greco-Roman Gentile hearers would have been taught – Acts 15) that pornea/sexual immorality included ANY and ALL sexual behavior outside the covenantal heterosexual bond. Jesus did not hesitate to reinterpret or reapply Old Testament or traditional teachings according to his own authority. To me it makes far more logical sense to conclude he therefore didn’t intend to change traditional Jewish teaching on sexuality.
Now, I think I have made my position more than clear and I’m not willing to debate it any longer. I suggest that if you (or any of the other bloggers) want a thorough, scholarly treatment from someone whose views I share, you examine Robert Gagnon’s book – The Bible and Homosexual Practice. Or, for a shorter version of his scholarship (112 pages), check out his website – http://www.robgagnon.net/ArticlesOnline.htm
(The article is about a third of the way down the page and is titled “Why the Disagreement over the Biblical Witness on Homosexual Practice?”)
The “plain sense of scripture”? With all due respect, the Bible is complex enough that there are over 20,000 different denominations of Christianity, each with a different interpretation of Scripture.
Are there some things in scripture that are clear – Sure – but homosexuality, as some scholars have shown us, isn’t one of them.
are the various interpretations of the bible and various religions the only reasons why someone would question practicing or continuing to practice homosexuality? Couldn’t there be a myriad of other reasons that are individual and personal?
I’m not real big on organized religion – I think the bigger it is, the more insincere it becomes. Anyway, the only reason I can think that homosexuality is treated differently is because of the activism behind it. Other perceived “sin” is not advocated like homosexuality is. If you and your partner (wife) came to a church, synagogue, temple, etc. where I was also in attendance, I would welcome you with open arms and ask if you wanted to have brunch afterward. If another couple or person began to become radical or contemptuous or coercive in their communication with me about this subject, I would not feel the same way about them. Therein lies the hiccup that most people experience and find offensive. Sin is defined so differently for so many people. I believe there are 7 listed in the bible and one stands out more than the others – that is PRIDE. I really believe if everyone stopped trying to change each other and just took care of each other, things would be different. Yes, I am an optomist. There is plenty of support for the people who are content in their life as same gendered couples – my heart is with the person who is unhappy, like Jamie, and is seeking support and an unbiased audience to listen to him. I continue to hope and pray that their unheard pleas will reach the hearts of many who will offer support and resources to help them, even if it is not in harmony with how they think or feel or live.
No Jag I was not drawing a parrallel (sp?) of actions when I made that statment to Jayhuck – and I made it to him for him to think about.
The point being I ASSUME Jayhuck thinks pedophelia is bad. And yet it is not mentioned in the bible. So does that mean it is okay?? Of course not. I just wanted to see how he answered the question.
It’s just that the old statement of Jesus did not mention homosexuality, and/ or it is not mentioned in the bible logic just seems to not work if you start to to question a lot of other behaviors that are not mentioned in the bible (that we as a society pretty much agree is wrong). That’s all. I don’t think it (that logic) is a good test for the acceptance of homosexuality – in my world.
#50512 is my response to your earlier post – sorry I didn’t put your name on it.
If that were the only Biblical “test” for the acceptance of homosexuality, you would be right – but it is not! I can see how that statement, by itself, would be wrong to use.
Karen Booth commented:
“Lynn David … since as an atheist you would logically disavow the authority of Scripture, I wonder why you desire to have this particular conversation with me. If you sincerely seek a deeper knowledge of the Bible and also intend to apply its teachings to your life, then I’m more than willing to continue. If not, then this is little more than a “war of words.” I have no time or desire to engage in that.”
I “logically disavow the authority of Scripture” as the wisdom/directives of a god. However I do see the Bible as the collected social wisdom of a late-bronze age/early-iron age people (for the Old Testament) and that of the “New Age” New Testament. Are you saying I cannot interpret the Bible as a religio-sociological work without having a faith belief (as I once did, BTW)?
So it’s difficult to get into a “deeper meaning” in that respect. Also if by a “deeper meaning” you want out of the Bible certain eisegetical interpretations, then I would rather limit the reading of the Bible to an exegesis. Eisegetical “knowledge” seems to be nothing more than the prejudices which a people should like to impose such as the idea that anyone at Sodom was homosexual or that Corinthians mentions homosexuals/homosexuality. Or what you and Gagnon would do with the word porneia and its variations.
So I guess we’re done?
I am aware of other biblical arguments being used – I was just pointing to one.
I believe that your argument seems more a statement of faith than a statement of logic. Your argument is that Jesus intended to condemn homosexuality because, well, primarily because you wish that he had. It is circular and self referential:
1. homosexuality is immoral
2. Christ condemned immorality
3. therefore Christ condemned homosexuality (as part of overall immorality)
4. Because Christ condemned it, homosexuality is immoral, Start again at point 1
You claim that Jesus condemned homosexuality and pedophilia because YOU believe that they are wrong and therefore they are part of what YOU would call “sexual immorality”. In other words, your condemnation is an appeal to your beliefs rather that an appeal to Scripture. Then your argument has the hubris to read back into Scripture your own self-referenced condemnation and use it as justification for your position. Or so it seems to me.
It reminds me of the Anne Lamotte quote that never seems to go stale: “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
But Mary’s (and your) comparisons to pedophilia, while initially a bit insulting, are actually interesting parallels. You assume that Jesus condemned such coupling. You assume that Jewish tradition condemned such coupling. Yet a glance at history suggests that mores of ancient people about the sexuality of children were QUITE different than our own.
We would be horrified if some man in his 50s were to marry a 14 year old. Pedophilia!! And if the girl did not consent we would call it child rape.
Surely this is what Jesus meant, isn’t it?
Nope. Child brides and age disparity were quite common in ancient times and the only way we can believe that Jesus condemned them is though our own personal beliefs and those of our culture being read backwards into scripture.
I am not saying this to defend child brides or pedophilia. Nor am I trying to say that Jesus was a big fan of homosexuality.
But what I am saying is that reading condemnations of homosexuality into a place where it doesn’t exist and then using that non-existant condemnation as validation of your own beliefs (ie those that put it there in the first place) is illogical. And certainly not convincing.
Pedophilia has been redefined over the centuries – no doubt. However, in Jewish tradition I believe a girl once she reached mentruation she is no longer a child and considered child bearing age (a woman). So the pedophilia example still stands. It was illegal for a man to take someone who was not married to him.
I am NOT saying that pedophilia and homosexuality are the same kind of act – One exploits a child and the other is between consenting people. These two acts are very different.
Pedophilia has been redefined over the centuries – no doubt. However, in Jewish tradition I believe a girl once she reached mentruation she is no longer a child and considered child bearing age (a woman). So the pedophilia example still stands.
Yes. That is my point exactly.
Those things that we find abhorent may not necessarily have been viewed that way in another time and culture. Thus we have to careful about what we read into scripture assuming that things were condemned that may well not have been.
You asked an interesting question:
“are the various interpretations of the bible and various religions the only reasons why someone would question practicing or continuing to practice homosexuality? Couldn’t there be a myriad of other reasons that are individual and personal?”
I think Biblical/religious reasons are likely a great percentage of those who wish to change their orientation attempt this…and religious affiliated organizations are the majority providing the assistance with their attempts at reorientation.
But certainly, I think that there could be many other reasons to attempt it. Societal/family acceptance, wanting an “easier” life, just feeling incongruous with your orientation, etc…I’m sure there are a thousand I can’t think of.
Also, I wanted to address this…you stated:
“if you and your partner (wife) came to a church, synagogue, temple, etc. where I was also in attendance, I would welcome you with open arms and ask if you wanted to have brunch afterward.”
wow, that’s fantastic. We had an extraordinary time finding a church for the reasons I had described above. No offense to anyone, but many churches we found that accepted us, were “gay churches,” not just “everybody” churches…we didn’t want to be separatists. We’re actually pretty conservative, and also were looking for the traditional hymns we liked, service structure, but well-connected and warm community with a progressive message. It was a real trial and error that led to almost giving up on organized religion entirely. I share much of your thoughts about it.
But this statement really stood out to me:
“Sin is defined so differently for so many people. I believe there are 7 listed in the bible and one stands out more than the others – that is PRIDE. I really believe if everyone stopped trying to change each other and just took care of each other, things would be different.”
It would be so very different. Perhaps allow people to determine their own path, support them in their struggles and triumphs, and be a true community.
Perhaps we’ve let “pride,” and being “righteous” get in the way of truly practicing our faith.
Thank you for illustrating the power of what community, in its ideal form, could be.
Um Timothy, I did not want to be too graphic but I think a man having sexual intercourse with an infant or toddler would have been as abhorent yesteryear as it is today. Having said that in such a graphic tone – pedophelia was looked down on then as it is today. However in today’s culture girls are not in anyway psychologically prepared for marriage, raising a family, leaving her mother etc… as she would have been prepared by the family, culture etc… of those periods. So the line of demarcation as to where pedophelia takes place would have been different but not the idea of pedophelia.
So the example of pedophelia being absent in Jesus’ remarks as well as homosexuality being absent (to some readers) still holds my position that absence does not mean acceptance of a behavior.
Are you not understanding my point?
I’m not claiming that absense of comment means acceptance – regardless of the issue. But it amazes me that some a claiming that absense of comment means condemnation. Surely that is a greater stretch.
No- we are talking about pedophelia not being mentioned and homosexuality not being mentioned. And that that arguement in my boook does not hold water. I however do read different passages in the bible differently than do you and feel/believe that heterosexuality is God’s intention for humankind. I was pointing out ONE argument that is used by gay christians that does not make logical sense to me.
One argument – that is all I was focusing on.
I think we are all in need of some more understanding of eachother and of God’s love/desire/intention etc… for us all. I do believe that pedophelia ought to be condemned. As for grown people who are homosexuals? No. People are free to choose and have their belief system.
You may as well go bang your head against a brick wall brother 😉
If I have veered away from the point of focus (from your perspective) then let me know.
What is that red smear on the brick wall? Is my head bleeding?
Perhaps using examples is causing confusion so I’ll state my point without any examples whatsoever. Let’s not discuss this while thinking of any examples at all. OK?
My point is this: we cannot decide that Scripture includes condemnations of things simply because WE condemn them.
These may be good things, bad things, morally neutral things, or whatever. And we can argue that they are. But we cannot say that Scripture supports our argument unless it’s in Scripture. Wouldn’t you agree?
I would agree.
Now your turn.
Would you say that there are also explicit and implied passages of scripture?
I’m sorry. I really don’t know what you are asking. Perhaps it’s because we are from a different Christian tradition, but I need more clarification of your question.
No – let me clarify.
Jesus gives us this new command to love your neighbor as you would love yourself. Fairly simple and maybe obvious to some. It says explicitly to treat others as I would be treated. But that implies a whole lot of behaviors. Do you really want to be treated in the same manner I want to be treated???
Sorry. I still don’t understand. In fact, I’m more confused now. Are you saying that Jesus was implying that you are NOT to treat your neighbor as yourself?
Or is this the great justification that I’ve heard which goes something like: “Well if I were the awful sinner that you are, I’d want someone to tell me the TRUTH about my sin”. This, to me, is about as valid as saying, “well, if I were as disrespectful of a wife as you are, I’d want someone to beat some sense into me”.
I hope that isn’t what you are saying.
Do you think that treating your nieghbor as you would be treated can be ambiguous? In other words – when we set out to define how to treat your neighbor as yourself – what does that look like??? Does John like to be treated the same as Jane? If not, then do you think John will treat Jane differently than the way Jane treats John??
I have lost track of where this thread is going. It started as a thread about the study. I think it has gone away from that.
I would like to cap this if no one has more comments about the study based on comments raised here.
Regarding the study – will there ever be a way to talk with those individuals, in an anonymous way, who have made the choice to no longer be connected to homosexuality either through identity or active same gender relationships? They have made a personal decision not to expose themselves and I can understand why. I think they would also be an important consideration to factor into this or any other study. I really don’t know how it could be done to protect one’s safety and anonymity.
No I don’t think the commandment is ambiguous at all. I think I can pretty well tell what Jesus meant by treating my neighbor as myself. I think that when we try to read some other meaning in there we need to question our motivations for this ‘discovered’ ambiguity.
Good question. There are sooo many that just never say a word and go on about their private life and unfortunately no one is the wiser.
It IS unfortunate because I believe they have a story to tell that can benefit so many people. It adds a whole other component to the equasion. I really don’t blame them for walking away quietly though and wanting to stay anonymous.
Ann, Mary: I’ve always wanted to meet a Nielsen family… But I really don’t blame them for walking away quietly and wanting to remain anonymous. (Am I reacting to a new season of bad TV? or worse, am I admitting to TV?)
–I thought if Warren was going to cap this one, I might try to sneak in some lame humor under the wire.
Ann & Mary –
Ann stated in her above post “It IS unfortunate because I believe they have a story to tell that can benefit so many people. It adds a whole other component to the equasion. I really don’t blame them for walking away quietly though and wanting to stay anonymous.”
I agree wholeheartedly, and I’d love to know more about the people we will never hear from. I know that for every person like Mary (exgay) or Myself (same-sex relationship), there are thousands who will never speak for fear of being “outed,” who are not safe or accepted for who they are.
I hope that oneday, people will not have such fear of telling their story – we all have a lot to learn from each other.
Jag, Ann, Eddy
thanks for understanding. (is t.v. really that bad this year?? – looking around – I watch HEROES) Yeah, I’m 12.
It’s true that many will not speak up for fear of being ‘outed’ but there are others who simply choose not to have their sexual issues at the forefront of their lives.
“but there are others who simply choose not to have their sexual issues at the forefront of their lives.”
It seems less about “sexual issues” than it does about the person, when questions of orientation come to light. When someone talks about me, as a gay woman, they are usually not talking about my sex (I’m hoping) but usually are speaking to a myriad of other things – my family structure, the gender of my partner, my perceived ability a parent, etc..
When people are speaking about the gay community, or gay/lesbian people, sometimes I suppose they talk about the sex…but I think heterosexual people have caught on that we participate in many of the same sexual acts, and have really dropped a lot of that.
So, when I say that many fear speaking up…I don’t think they are afraid of having their “sexual issues” at the forefront, I think they are afraid of losing their job, their place in the community, their housing, their children, etc.
Is tv really THAT bad this year? (that made me laugh)…but honestly, I wouldn’t know. I don’t own one and haven’t for over a year now…very freeing.
I found television to be a real time-suck (although this is competing for sure), very negative, and just full of images and messages I really didn’t agree with.
Also – I’m cheap.
Hahahaha – I love visual media and own a plasma! Soooo…. I still read!
I see your point but, as a previous ex-gay insider, I did wamt to expose you to our ‘borderline clients’. While our groups were largely populated by guys with an average apprehension of the faith they subscribed to, we had other clients–often in church leadership positions–who actually taught the Bible…they’d just never applied it to THAT area of their lives. Once we showed them how–they were out the door. Once they had the truth they needed, they could find their support in their local congregation. These people come in for one or two visits and are virtually invisible in any stats or studies. Quite simply, they’ve moved on.
You’re open-minded. I just wanted you to know that they are out there even though they don’t show up in ‘the studies’. If we ever get that middle table off the ground, I’ll invite a few to join us. BTW: from that same grouping, some went ex-ex as well; I think I could call in a chip or two there also. You don’t want our conservations to get boring, do you?
You really ought to get a 42″ flat screen of some sort and watch the Living Planet on it. It’s fantastic!
I am available to help with the middle table as well!
Jag, Mary, Eddy,
Love the tv comments I think I am a cable snob now and rarely watch regular tv. The shows I used to watch and enjoy have all been replaced with exactly what Jag describes. Oh, there is American Idol which I have only seen one season of and was an source of laughter during the tryouts! Let’s not forget the two greatest sports teams in the world either – Dodgers and Lakers – must see tv!
I understand what you’re saying but consider that most ex-gays are single and are not in a relationship with anyone of either gender. Beyond that, they aren’t pursuing a relationship either. Sexuality may be an annoying temptation once in awhile or it could surface in the longing for a committed relationshp…but, for many, they are managing their sexuality much as they would handle overeating. They perceive that they are sexual and they also perceive that they’ve got some issues to deal with…but it isn’t the biggest part of their life.
I was writing letters to the editor when I was 13…on a variety of issues: hypocrisy, conformity, racism, pledging the flag, prayer in school. In high school, I was editor of our underground newspaper. So many issues that I wanted to speak to. In college, I participated in peace marches, sit-ins and protests. That’s also when I started getting involved in gay lib issues. A few years later, I had a ‘born-again’ experience. “Ex-gay” hadn’t been invented yet so most in my church recognized that I was ‘from a homosexual background’.
Our church sponsored the local Teen Challenge so we had a vivid assortment of ‘sordid, sinful pasts’ mixed in with ‘just regular sinners’. (True Story: After I came out, I moved into an apartment in the city. It had a small, vine covered back porch that looked out over an alley. I was most intrigued by this house across the alley, full of young men in their late teens and early 20’s. In the evenings, I’d often see them fill up a van and take off. So, a year or more later I have my conversion experience and I’m feeling alone and trapped…after all, I chose my apartment for its convenient access to the local gay life. I was about to tell my spiritual advisor that I even suspected there was some sort of male brothel right across the alley when he informed me that he was pretty sure that I lived very close to the local Teen Challenge. Boy, did I read that one wrong!) ANYWAY, for the next few years, I was just ‘one of the gang’…we ALL had our issues to deal with but they seldom surfaced outside a counseling session. While I had identified myself by my sexuality prior to becoming a Christian, I now referred to myself by the label that expressed our commonness. Whatever our backgrounds had been, we were now ‘New Creations’. That label sufficed all the way through my first year in Bible School until word got out that I was a ‘former homosexual’.
It became tragically comical. Both guys and girls would seek me out for advice and support. In my second year, three freshmen had already found me before orientation had even started! Total strangers, they’d suddenly be standing in the midst of me and my friends. Awkward eye language and nervousness tipped my friends off that they should wander away long enough for the ‘disclosure’. ANYWAY, from that point on, the issue of homosexuality dominated my life again. I was pretty much free from sexual thoughts altogether (except for that week when I fell in love with my ministry partner) but the issue itself became a focus. “Ex-Gay” was coined the following year and embraced officially by Exodus at large another year after that. It became my identity.
Over the course of the next ten or more years, no one seemed to be interested in my opinions on any subject other than homosexuality. I’d be trying to connect with friends in the lobby after church, only to be detained by some needy soul in want of my expertise. World peace? hypocrisy? the moonies? applied Christian ethics? Nah! All they wanted to talk about and focus on was sex…if not directly, then indirectly. So, I can see plenty of justification for an ex-gay person 1) preferring not to view themselves in terms of their sexuality 2) not wanting their sexuality to be a public matter.
Of the people I alluded to a few posts ago, one is a pastor of a large church. He already had enough things on his plate without the additional burden of being thought of as the regional expert/referral for this issue. Another was a youth counselor in an inner city program. He said they could handle the gay/ex-gay part but, if discussing it, he couldn’t bring in the Christian aspect. (Please, tell us all about yourself…just leave out the most important part…)
Revelation to ALL: I think I’ve just figured something out. There’s no way I’ll ever catch up to Timothy or Mary on the number of postings so I think I’ve been shooting for longest. I realize this one isn’t going to cinch it though. It’s Friday night karaoke time.
Thank you for your comments, and your story (it has been a busy test-grading time for me)…but I wanted to respond.
This sums up nicely how I view the ex-gay community (and the gay individuals who struggle with their orientation):
“They perceive that they are sexual and they also perceive that they’ve got some issues to deal with…but it isn’t the biggest part of their life.”
I think that sometimes the sexual aspect of it is exacerbated because:
– it seems that everyone is interested in sensationalizing.
– people have a natural curiosity, and a need to differentiate themselves from “those people,” whoever those people are.
– sex tends to be a tempting factor for all people at some point – even those who are settled on their sexuality talk about “when” and issues around “virginity,” etc…we are very focused on it as a faith.
– Sex is everywhere in culture…just try to get away from it…
So, truth is, I get it. Thank you for your history…we have some common elements – although I have never struggled with my orientation.
I grew up in a very conservative religious evangelical family and church. Dated mostly men most of my life…went to a christian college where I met my first girlfriend (a minister’s daughter), and BAM…I finally understood what all the fuss was about. I was smitten in a way I had never been before.
Unfortunately, I also realized that although nothing changed about me…I was the same student getting great grades, working, on sports teams, etc..the whole world seemed to have shifted at my Christian school for me. An environment that seemed initially loving went a bit sour. I watched as professors showed clips from “gay pride parades” and used it to represent the community…etc…those people weren’t like me at all.
Here I was, a christian woman, interested in women, who was trying to live the most moral life I could. Deciding how “far” to go, what the stages of dating would be for me, etc…and there was really no resource there. I had to meld my own beliefs with my attractions…and after attempting to attend numerous churches – all with messages telling me I would die from AIDS (I wasn’t having “sex” or using drugs), that gay individuals are not monogamous, could not be parents, etc….I finally, years later, found a church that I could attend openly. I didn’t want a “gay church,” just a church open that would accept me for who I was – who I felt God meant me to be.
There are so many sides to this issue, and I do try to be open. I realize that my experience isn’t everyone’s experience – and hope to never judge others, as others have judged me.
Eddy – Thank you for your open, and heartfelt message and for sharing a bit of your experiences with me.
“You really ought to get a 42? flat screen of some sort and watch the Living Planet on it. It’s fantastic!”
You tempt me with your words.
I have no doubt that it is fantastic…the picture quality, sound, etc…must be amazing. It makes movie-going a real treat to have absolutely nothing at home that can compare. For example, I’m going to an IMAX to see a show on space that should be really amazing…
I have an experiment for you…give up television for one week…you’ll be fascinated how much time you have in your days!
That is, unless you start commenting here (as I have).
Haha – I don’t watch that much network tv. Also, I am not one for crowds and prefer for movies to come out on DVD. I have a movie friend who comes over for dinner and movies. (I think she owns everything under the sun) And my neighbors drop in for Sunday football.
I do go to the IMAX for the specials – which is always great. When I upgrade – I sell you mine!