Is NARTH the next target?

As I noted yesterday, Peter LaBarbera of American for Truth About Homosexuality doesn’t like the sexual identity therapy framework, saying

As you can see above, Throckmorton’s and Regent University’s Mark Yarhouse’s “Sexual Identity Therapy” model grants the possibility that some clients may come to embrace a positive “gay identity” that “modifies” their religious beliefs in such a way as to “allow integration of same-sex eroticism within their valued identity.”

If he is consistent, he will need to expand his crusade to include an organization and therapist he often cites approvingly. On the AFTAH website, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality is referenced at least 46 times (e.g., here). However, on the NARTH website, co-founder of NARTH, Joe Nicolosi says that gay affirming counseling should be available.

The developmental model we suggest must deeply resonate with the men we work with, or they will (rightfully) leave our office and pursue a different therapeutic approach. We explain that our position differs from the American Psychological Association, which sees homosexuality and heterosexuality as equivalent, and along the way, we encourage them to clarify and re-clarify the direction of their identity commitment. Gay-affirmative therapy should, of course, be available for any such client.

A few gay-identified clients do decide to stay with us. Out of respect for diversity and autonomy, I affirm them in their right to define themselves as they wish, and I accept them in their gay self-label.

Nicolosi affirms these clients in “their right to define themselves as they wish,” and he accepts “them in their gay self-label.” Of course, here Nicolosi is speaking as a professional therapist and as such acknowledges that such affirmations come from a respect for autonomy. There is little difference between these options and the options LaBarbera criticizes in his article on the SITF.

There are many problems with LaBarbera’s recent crusade. One, highlighted by this post, is that his critiques of the SITF are devoid of any proper context. The SITF is intended for mental health professionals and professional relationships with clients of all ideologies. Pastors and ministry workers follow a more directive line in keeping with the teachings of their faith. Will NARTH now become a target since they support acceptance of some clients “in their gay self-label” and affirmation of “them in their right to define themselves as they wish?”

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  • Phelim McIntyre

    Ladies and gentleman – the ego has landed. Yes step up Dr Throckmorton.

    Lets look at the issue here. Narth and the International Fellowship for Theraputic Choice promote reparative therapy (also called gender affirmative therapy). As Narth says they will accept people who choose to remain gay identified but that Narth does not see homosexuality and heterosexuality as equal and if the person chooses to leave reparative therapy and go gay down the gay path then they will accept that person has chosen that gay affirmative therapy is right for them and should be available for them. Does SITF do this? SITF and you allow for people to change their theological world view to accept a Christian homosexuality as the ex ex-gay movement promotes. Where is the Christian ethic of Paul here, the one that says all things are permissable but not all things are beneficial.

    Narth works from a position of allowing people to change their sexuality. SITF appears, especially through your comments, to work from a position of change of theology. As such Narth is working from a specific secular which allows Narth memebers to be Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Catholics and from all Christian denominations. SITF, in its wording, is working from a mix of theology and psychology and missing the needed targets on both sides. Nicolosi and Narh are not promoting a “Christian” pastoral message in the way that SITF comes across so your arguement is more about your wounded ego than anything else.

  • Michael Bussee

    Doesn’t NARTH still cite Scott (proud I dropped a nuclear bomb on Uganda) Lively on their homepage and Paul (maybe the Nazis had some good ides) Cameron?

    http://www.narth.com/menus/search.html?cx=007457206426124633447%3Adybvfspccfw&cof=FORID%3A11&q=llively#222

    http://www.narth.com/menus/search.html?cx=007457206426124633447%3Adybvfspccfw&cof=FORID%3A11&q=llively#222

    As long as they do, they are only “wounding” themselves.

  • Michael Bussee

    [PDF] Narth Bull-Generic Set-upFile Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – View as HTML

    Also during the luncheon, attorney Scott Lively noted that NARTH’s critics are supported by tens of millions of dollars from foundations on the left, …

    http://www.narth.com/menus/NARTHBulletinDecember2005.pdf

  • Lynn David

    Phelim McIntyre….. Nicolosi and Narh are not promoting a “Christian” pastoral message in the way that SITF comes across so your arguement is more about your wounded ego than anything else.

    Huh? What no one who is ‘in attack mode’ has gotten to the point about SITF is that it is about defining a clients values and then seeking modes to live within those values. Tell me which pscychologists demand that their own value set be imposed upon the client? SITF is not promoting any pastorl message, but allows the client to define his own (as he was born into or has come to live within).

    Did anyone care to read the SITF before they lambasted it? Or maybe they just don’t have the proper understanding…..

  • David

    Dr. Throckmorton:

    I appreciate the fact that you are keeping this debate professional and not personal. But I would really appreciate it if you could let us, your readers, know how you are doing personally. Maybe it’s silly to say, but I like you and I hate to see you (or anyone) subjected to this kind of attack. As bizarre and as inaccurate as the attack, it is probably stressful to have the whack jobs who follow LaBarbera’s blog sending deranged emails to GCC.

    Anyway, I hope that you are not stressing over this (especially considering that probably no more than 2 dozen people read LaBarbera’s blog, including Mrs. LaBarbera) and are taking in the whole circus with a sense of humor. I also hope, and would appreciate your confirming, that GCC is abiding by the principle of academic freedom and is not taking this “campaign” seriously.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    David: Thanks for your concern. I really appreciate it. I am doing well although some of this is more time consuming than I like. GCC is committed to academic freedom and I am glad for their support.

  • Phelim McIntyre

    Lynn – I have read SITF before attacking and until recently advised people to consider it. So yes I have read it before going into attack mode. You have summed up why SITF is being attacked – it is counselling about values. Narth is counselling about feelings this is the difference and why Throckmorton’s question about whether Narth will be next is an attempt to cause problems which are not there

    I have asked questions of Dr Throckmorton which he has so far failed to answer. Is it because he feels he does not have to answer them or because he can not answer them?

  • http://www.collegejay.blogspot.com College Jay

    Phelim, the SITF doesn’t counsel a person to accept a certain set of values over another. It allows the individual to determine his or her values, and then the counselor helps the individual try to live a life congruent with those values.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Phelim – Could you directly state your question or cut and paste it from above? I can’t really tell what you are asking me.

    You seem to think that SITF has some theological input when in fact, the framework takes seriously the codes of ethics of the health care professions when we say the therapist is to follow the value position of the client. Someone might change their religious views in counseling, it happens all the time in all forms of counseling. I feel sure based on my interviews with ex-reparative therapy clients that it happens in RT as well.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    PS – It would help if you point us to specific pages and quotes from the SITF so I can respond to something concrete.

  • Jayhuck

    Warren,

    when we say the therapist is to follow the value position of the client.

  • Jayhuck

    Warren,

    when we say the therapist is to follow the value position of the client.

    I understand what you mean when you say this Warren, and I’m more inclined than ever to be comfortable with SITF, but this sort of undefined statement troubles me a little – therapists obviously don’t cater to ALL values that a client has, right? They do pick and choose – they have to! If the clients values are harmful to him or others then I’m guessing the therapist will not follow that sort of value position? Which, of course, leads us to other discussions about whether its more harmful to teach people that their SSA are not wrong or vice versa…

  • Phelim McIntyre

    Warren – my questions are on the Loosing My Religion thread. They are

    1) Why do you hate NARTH so much?

    2) If someone went through SITF and decided to change their orientation would you refer them to NARTH.

    3) Why do you complain about people publishing an article about you when you have not been consulted yet raise the problems recorded in an article by a pro-gay activist who used subterfuge without question?

    and I now have another one:

    4) Do you have any statistics concerning changes in theological beliefs/values concerning ssa. How many come to you feeling homosexuality is wrong or with any other view on ssa (though I guess that the homosexuality is wrong position are the greater number) and how do their beliefs/values change? Do the majority change to be able to live with their homosexuality and beliefs, do they choose to believe that celebacy is the right way forward, or do they choose to believe that homosexuality and Christianity are incompatable and they need to ditch one or the other? These statistics will tell us a lot.

  • Phelim McIntyre

    College Jay – does it? Surely by counselling concerning values we are make a value judgement about what we believe to be right or wrong. I have asked for statistics of outcomes of value changes and this will tell us the fruit of SITF. If the majority come to a position of believing that homosexuality and Christianity are compatable they are usually led this way through the questioning of the counsellor/therapist. If the statistics show that no one who goes through SITF chooses reparative therapy or a similar treatment surely this says as much about the therapist and their beliefs as it does about the position of the client. If SITF is surely about helping people live with their chosen values surely then the logical step is that for those who choose to believe that homosexual feeling is unnatural and unBiblical to refer them to people who can help them change just as if they choose to believe ssa and their religious faith is to refer them to a gay affirmative therapist. If this is part of the SITF then surely it is both gay affirming and reparative depending on the client. If this is the case then why not say so? If it is not that case then the definition you gave is actually a false promise.

    To ask this question in a different way – in next edition of the Diagnositcal Statistical Manual it is very possible that all reference to paraphilias will be removed. Paraphilia include activities such a bestiality (zoophilia), necrophilia, paedosexuality/paedophilia, bdsm and sexual fetishes concernign inanimate objects or even car crashes. If these things are removed from the DSM and the paedosexual is a church goer but has problems with his sexual activity would you use SITF with them, that is counsel them concerning their values? What if they are happy? Would people use SITF with them? What if they are a zoophile or a necrophile? What about a polyamorist? At least with ssa we have the psychiatric diagnosis of ego-dystonic sexuality.

    This question is also true of the Golden Rule – are you willing to accept the peadosexuals, zoos, necrophiliacs, polyamorists and others for who they are as Christ loves them? If not the golden rule is hypocritical because it does not do as it claims.

    This is the reality that those of us trying to work in this complicated field have to face – and I regularly meet and fellowship as a professional counsellor with people who are gay affirming because of the work I do with eating disorders.

  • Phelim McIntyre

    Warren – there is another question. What do you think of the chapter in Andrew Marin’s book where he argues that we have misinterpreted the Bible and homosexuality is not sinful (the chapter entitled the Big Five)?

  • http://www.collegejay.blogspot.com College Jay

    If SITF is surely about helping people live with their chosen values surely then the logical step is that for those who choose to believe that homosexual feeling is unnatural and unBiblical to refer them to people who can help them change just as if they choose to believe ssa and their religious faith is to refer them to a gay affirmative therapist.

    Again, you are ignoring the fact that those are not the only two options. There are many, many same-sex attracted Christian men and women who are not trying to change their orientation, but still want to live according to their values and remain celibate or seek out heterosexual relationships without going through RT. My same-sex attraction is compatible with my religious faith even though I feel that homosexual behavior is prohibited by God. This does not mean that I would seek out a gay-affirmative therapist. For someone who claims to know so much about this issue, you are coming across as completely oblivious that there are many people who exist outside of your black and white paradigm.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Phelim asked:

    1) Why do you hate NARTH so much?

    Non-starter, presumes I do. Silly question.

    2) If someone went through SITF and decided to change their orientation would you refer them to NARTH.

    I have another network I work through. There are a couple of NARTH affiliated therapists I would consider.

    3) Why do you complain about people publishing an article about you when you have not been consulted yet raise the problems recorded in an article by a pro-gay activist who used subterfuge without question?

    I have no idea what you are talking about.

    and I now have another one:

    4) Do you have any statistics concerning changes in theological beliefs/values concerning ssa. How many come to you feeling homosexuality is wrong or with any other view on ssa (though I guess that the homosexuality is wrong position are the greater number) and how do their beliefs/values change? Do the majority change to be able to live with their homosexuality and beliefs, do they choose to believe that celebacy is the right way forward, or do they choose to believe that homosexuality and Christianity are incompatable and they need to ditch one or the other? These statistics will tell us a lot.

    In my situation (I have no formalized data from research – Yarhouse is working on that), most people stay within the religious framework they began with. SITF provides for informed consent and some therapists will work toward change once they have informed clients of the important issues we specify in the framework.

    One of my current clients wrote to me today just amazed at the current controversy because in practice, I help him stay true to what he told me he wanted to do — stay monogamous with his wife. We use biblical resources to help accomplish this.

    If you have other questions, please refer to the SITF and provide page numbers with your specific questions.

  • William

    Well, Phelim, I’d certainly agree with your suggestion in the previous thread (“Losing my religion?”) that people should be encouraged to read Jeremy Marks’s book, Exchanging the Truth for a Lie. It gives a very readable account of how he finally saw the light, facing the fact that his earlier declaration that he was now “able to walk free of the struggle with homosexuality” and that he was able “to help show the way out of homosexuality to others in similar need” was simply self-deception; that his ex-gay ministry’s conversion rate from homosexuality to heterosexuality was zero; and that attempts to tamper with people’s natural homosexuality were not only futile and unnecessary but also frequently deleterious.

    You speak of “reparative therapy (also called gender affirmative therapy)”. What exactly is meant by the phrase “gender affirmative therapy” and in what way is it reparative? Reparative of whom or of what?

  • Eddy

    Cross-culturally we need to be careful of a number of words or terms. Homosexuality, when defined as the condition of being sexually attracted to the same gender, is not sin. Attractions, in themselves, are not sin or sinful; in a religious context, they would be viewed as temptations to sin but not sin in and of themselves.

    It seems Reparative Therapy has garnered a status similar to Kleenex…it’s a specific brand name that is generically applied to similar products that may differ dramatically. SIT Therapy is not Reparative Therapy; neither is much of the therapy offered within the Exodus network of affiliated ministries. In a similar vein, some in NARTH ascribe to the Reparative Therapy framework while others do not.

    I believe that some Reparative Therapists may employ ‘gender affirmation therapy’ but, as I understand it, gender affirmation therapy is one specific angle, one specific tool that is sometimes employed. (If it appears that a person’s homosexual attractions are rooted in a conflict they have relating to their own gender or in identifying with the generalized traits of their own gender–then gender affirmation therapy may be called for.) I believe that it may be employed, to some degree, across the board…Reparative Therapists, NARTH, Exodus…perhaps even SIT. If it is also a trademark, i.e. a therapy with a specific framework and expectations, would someone please address that?

    Comments attributed to Jeremy Marks note that ‘his ex-gay ministry’s conversion rate from homosexuality to heterosexuality was zero’. There is still much debate over whether an ‘orientation’ is inborn or natural. (This notion changes the expectation from ‘successfully dealing with attractions’ to ‘a change of basic orientation’…expecting an absence of temptation and the development of predominant feelings towards the opposite gender. The two different understandings have led to much confusion in dialogue over the years. Jeremy’s statement also presumes ‘people’s natural homosexuality’. Science hasn’t yet concluded that it’s inborn or, if it is, in what way…thus making the word ‘natural’ presumptive. (I realize that many defenses for ‘natural’ can be offered; I submit that defenses for ‘unnatural’ can be offered as well. My only concern here is that we don’t trip into conclusions that have yet to be firmly established.) And, perhaps it’s based in bias, but I have extreme difficulty with regarding certain behaviors as ‘natural’–particularly rimming and fisting–whether practiced homosexually or heterosexually.

    (My apologies in advance…I feel that my comments may be addressing some issues raised in several concurrent topics presented here on Warren’s blogsite.)

  • Phelim McIntyre

    College Jay – so what is your decision? Surely there are only three options – change (whether by Christian healing or reparative therapy), to live a celebate life – to ignore your homosexual feelings and marry is an alternative to this but is to ignore your feelings and cope with them it does not actually deal with the issue of ssa – or two affirm homosexuality. As someone who lived a gay lifestyle for over 10 years (including BDSM), I identified as gay at the age of 12, and now helps people deal with these feelings the biggest danger to facing these issues is actually marriage without dealing with the psychological factors because the person’s ssa becomes a barrier between them and their spouse. Whether there are gay fantasies , use of gay porn or whatever these feelings create a lack of intimacy and are a form of adultery. I have been out of the gay lifestyle for just over 10 years, and work with people who have married but still struggle with ssa and have found in every case the homosexual feelings causing a barrier between propper intimacy even if the spouse with ssa doesn’t realise it (the other spouse does recognise it). So rather than working from a black and white paradigm as you suggest I am speaking from clinical experience. It is because of this clinical experience of the effects of unresolved ssa on marriage I am willing to be critical of the values based work of SITF.

  • Phelim McIntyre

    Warren – I said at the start of this thread that you have a huge ego but you are also naive. On the thread where you complain about CORE issues use of SITF on their site you mention the issue of the Paul Miller and the article in the Independent. On the Loosing My Religion thread you ask me whether I agree with the practices claimed about Dr Miller in the Independent article. Have you made any effort to check whether these complaints are valid, to get Dr Miller’s side of the story? If not you are surely taking the Independent article as truth and then complaining about people doing the same with the article about you. There is a word for this – hypocracy. As for my question about Narth maybe I should change that to Joseph Nicolosi, Dean Byrd, Arthur Goldberg (who uses the term Gender Affirmative Therapy). You may not hate Narth but you appear to hate a lot of people who are leadership in Narth.

    I notice that you also ignore my question about Andrew Marin.

    William – as for the book by Jeremy Marks. If you come to the UK I can introduce you to people who have changed from homosexual to heterosexual through the work of Courage. Most of them feel hurt by Jeremy’s remark as would Jeremy as he actually says int he book he saw some healing but not the number he was expecting.

  • Eddy

    I’m sure that College Jay will answer this for himself but, for myself, I took exception to the phrase ‘to ignore your homosexual feelings and marry’. I don’t think any of us speak to ‘ignoring’ the feelings. We deal with them; we assess them; we learn from them.

    And, while there may be some barriers in the heterosexual bedroom, there can also be benefits to the marriage that shouldn’t be overlooked. Some appreciate a spouse who ‘doesn’t already know it all’; some learn to appreciate the emotional and conversational intimacy aspects more than focussing on the sexual. Some women have maintained that they appreciate having a transparent partner who understands those other aspects of intimacy…it seems it’s an area where many straight men are a bit deficient.

    This is not intended to be a rebuttal. I do see some real value in your observations; I just felt that these observations ought to be considered in the mix.

  • Phelim McIntyre

    Thanks for that Eddy, I’ll just ignore my experience as a counsellor especially when some of the clients will say that they appreciate a spouse who deosn’t know it all and then qualify it with a but “I don’t feel any attachment when it comes to sexual intimacy”. Two signs of the same coin.

  • Phelim McIntyre

    Warren – I will keep looking for honest answers but won’t bother with my time replying until I get them from you

  • Eddy

    Given that I specifically said that I just wanted to add those clarifications(as add-ons to what you said) rather than have them stand as a rebuttal, I have a bit of a problem with your ‘attitude’. You’ve taken a confrontive stance with Warren and, now, a sarcastic tone with me. Good luck with that.

    BTW, you want to be appear educated and credentialled, however you accuse Warren of hating people when I know that not to be true. He disagrees with and disapproves of the methods of a few but, if you are incapable of distinguishing that from hate, you’ve got a perceptional bias. And the word is hypocrisy not hypocracy and it’s two sides of the same coin not two signs.

  • Ann

    And, while there may be some barriers in the heterosexual bedroom, there can also be benefits to the marriage that shouldn’t be overlooked. Some appreciate a spouse who ‘doesn’t already know it all’; some learn to appreciate the emotional and conversational intimacy aspects more than focussing on the sexual. Some women have maintained that they appreciate having a transparent partner who understands those other aspects of intimacy…it seems it’s an area where many straight men are a bit deficient.

    Eddy,

    I appreciate these wise words and know they apply to many couples from all walks of life and experiences. At the end of the day (yes, I know it is an overrated phrase), emotional and conversational intimacy trumps everything – it is the glue that holds everything else together. It is sexy with or without sex. Without emotional intimacy, the relationship is shallow – with it, the foundation is set for anything else that might be built from it.

  • Michael Bussee

    Some mixed orientation marriages seem to be happy and some are not — due to the lack of sexual intimacy. Some manage to work it out, others cannot. Emotional, spiritual, romantic and sexual intimacy between two persons? The whole thing? Something wonderful. Something God intended, I believe.

  • Michael Bussee

    I had an opportunity last weekend to meet this remarkable woman and to hear her experience as the wife of a gay man. She has written a book about it.

    “This valuable source of information for spouses, families, and professionals is based on Dr. Buxton’s eight years of research, including interviews with 1,000 straight spouses and children, her own personal experience, and her counseling work with spouses of gay, lesbian and bisexual partners.”

    http://www.straightspouse.org/theother.php

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Phelim – Your style is offensive. I am asking you to comment without criticizing character or assuming the motives of others if you want to continue.

    I gave you honest answers.

    Regarding Miller, yes I know more than what I read in the Independent. I am not able to go into how I know but I do. That is vague I know, and I doubt you will believe it but I am not speaking out of school. Because of the situation, I have to be vague. Even so, I never said he was egotistical or a heretic or attacked his honesty or his character. You on the other hand have done so. Again, if you really want to discuss matters in a civil manner, then you may continue posting, if not, then I will not allow it.

  • Michael Bussee
  • William

    As a matter of fact, Phelim, I do live in the UK, although nowhere near you: I live up in the so-called barbarous north. What I said about the gay to straight conversion rate in Jeremy Marks’s ministry was, of course, my own paraphrase. His actual words, as reported (at the time when Courage UK changed direction) in both The Pink Paper and Christianity Today, were: “None of the people we’ve counselled have converted no matter how much effort and prayer they’ve put into it.”

    I’ll be frank with you. I regard the homophobic environment in which I grew up as abusive. (Some might like to describe it by a “nicer” sounding word than homophobic, but I adhere to that statement no matter what word they prefer to use.) I can’t actually blame those responsible for it: the abuse was passive rather than active – that’s “just the way things were” then – and those who inflicted it didn’t realise what they were doing, still less to whom they were doing it, but it was still abuse. Fortunately, if there were any ex-gay ministries in the UK at that time, they had such a low profile that I was unaware of them – a piece of ignorance for which I cannot express my gratitude with any approach to adequacy; I certainly didn’t need that form of spiritual abuse piled on top of everything else.

    But I think that I had things easy compared to some people; I have to confess that I still occasionally find myself shedding tears when I hear some of my gay friends describing to me how their teenage years and early twenties were likewise stolen from them as a result of the homophobic ethos which was prevalent even until comparatively recently, and which led to years of psychological pain and self-destructive behaviour. I just thank God that all the ones whom I know have got through it in one piece and have achieved healthy self-acceptance.

    Homophobic abuse during one’s youth is not unlike sexual abuse in childhood: like the latter, it is liable to have extremely damaging effects on the lives of those who are subjected to it, causing psychological injuries from which it can sometimes take many years to recover. There is fortunately, however, an effective balm which can heal the deep wounds caused by such abuse, as well as being thoroughly good and beautiful in itself – a loving gay relationship.

  • http://www.collegejay.blogspot.com College Jay

    Phelim, no one is saying that same-sex attracted people should just “ignore” their homosexual feelings in a marriage. Again, you are being very black and white. Are you saying that the only way to effectively deal with same-sex attraction from a conservative Christian point of view is to go the “change” route?

    Also, I agree with Warren and Eddy. Your tone is getting out of hand and, to be frank, it probably hurts your arguments more than anything else.

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