A new test of orthodoxy

Yesterday, the information arm of the American Family Association, OneNewsNow published an article about my views on change of sexual orientation.  The information on the matter came from Peter LaBarbera who said

“But in the last few years, he’s basically become a pro-gay advocate who discredits the idea of change for most homosexuals,” LaBarbera explains. “He grants the idea that they can change, but he says change is very rare.

“So effectively, Warren Throckmorton has become a very useful advocate for the homosexual side because he can claim to be an evangelical and yet he’s undermining scriptural truth.”

As I understand this argument, I am wrong to claim to be an evangelical because I believe that categorical change in sexual attractions, especially for men, is rare. In addition such a belief is in itself “pro-homosexual advocacy.”

LaBarbera adds that

Christians know people can leave the lifestyle, and that through Christ, many thousands have. So he says Throckmorton’s message — that change is near impossible — is contrary to Christian thinking.

Here we have a test of orthodoxy – something that must be believed in order to be considered a Christian. In my tradition, faith in the redeeming mission of Christ is the test of faith. However, in the new orthodoxy of some in the Christian right, one must believe certain things about gays in order to be consider a Christian.

On the points raised by the ONN article, I observe that LaBarbera conflates behavior and inclination. He says I don’t think people can “leave the lifestyle” because I think categorical change of sexual attractions is rare and complex. While his description of behavior change is crude and stereotypical, I disagree with his assessment of me. I do believe that people change their behavior. They do so for a variety of reasons but in the context of this controversy, some do in order to seek conformity to their religious beliefs. That this happens is not in doubt by any researcher, pro-gay or not, that I know. The APA in their 2009 Task Force report acknowledged this and even noted that finding congruence can lead to certain positive outcomes.

However, gay and bisexual people who change their behavior infrequently lose their same-sex attractions, no matter how earnestly they pray. In my work as well as other studies, heterosexually married gay and lesbian people do not demonstrate change in attractions on average, even as they demonstrate devotion to their marriages. My critics can keep on criticizing but they have not been able to address the evidence which does not cut in their favor.

If I need to apologize for something, it is that I misled evangelicals for several years on the matter of sexual orientation. I did not intend to do so. When I made the documentary I Do Exist, I really believed the stories told. I know the people making the video did as well. I believed my clients; I believed people who told me they changed completely. In hindsight, I acknowledge that my work was complicated by the culture war. I now think the culture war is a significant stumbling block for the church.

From that time, there are a handful of people who continue to say they have changed in a comprehensive way. Many however, have acknowledged that their attractions have shifted within a range but have not really changed from one category to another. My view is that these stories are all interesting and that I desire to take people where they are and just work out a way that helps them live with integrity.

Who knows, maybe I will shift my views in different ways in the future. However, I hope it will be in response to evidence, not in order to fit into a man made definition of orthodoxy. In the mean time, I invite critics to simply deal with the evidence.

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  • http://www.sexualidentityinstitute.org Mark Yarhouse

    I share your concern about conflating behavior change with change of orientation and then treating a commitment to change of orientation as a test for orthodoxy. The idea was raised that you feel change is rare and that that is the problem, but how much change (how common would it have to be) for a person to be orthodox? It seems to me that if you adhere to a traditional Christian sexual ethic, the question is not about attaining heterosexuality (or how many people do or even how much movement along a continuum); rather, the focus is largely behavioral anyway. Also, from more of a pastoral perspective, it would seem that heightened expectations for categorical change increases the risk for disappointment, resentment, and shame for those who do not experience as many gains as they had hoped.

  • Michael Bussee

    Also, from more of a pastoral perspective, it would seem that heightened expectations for categorical change increases the risk for disappointment, resentment, and shame for those who do not experience as many gains as they had hoped.

    Thank you for this observation, Mr. Yarhouse. Many folks with a strong anti-gay agenda have used your study to prove that gays can change their sexual orientation and become straight.

    I am glad that you recognize that “heightened expectations for categorical change increases the risk for disappointment, resentment, and shame.” I deal with such people every day and it’s heartbreaking work.

    With that in mind, I wonder if you would be willing to do a study of those people — the ones who suffered (and still suffer) because they did not “experience as many gains as they had hoped.”

  • ken

    Warren,

    The article claims that you declined to comment when they contacted you. Is that true? and if so, why?

    Also, LaBarbera’s comment about how you are not exhibiting “christian thinking” made me think of another scientist accused of the same thing: Galileo.

    I certainly hope you are tenured :) or at least that Grove city college isn’t as fanatical as LaBarbera’s hopes it is.

  • Richard Willmer

    Presumably, Grove City College cannot dismiss a scientist because he has drawn conclusions from the results of scientific studies. It would be quite a big ‘story’ if they could (or thought they could)!

    This also raises deeper question about what it means to be ‘Christian’ or ‘biblical’. (Sadly, the likes of LaBarbera are terrified of questions.)

  • StraightGrandmother

    I had to read sections of Warren’s article four times to make sure I understood what he wrote. For Yarhouse’s comment I had to read it three times. I got further along when I finally gave up and looked up the word orthodoxy. I found this meaning from the Orthodox Church

    the triumph of Orthodoxy, the victory of true Christian teaching over all perversions and distortions thereof—heresies and false teachings.

    Basically LaBarbera is saying that Warren is not a true Christian because Warren says that it is rare for anyone, especially gay men, to change their sexual orientation (which sex they are attracted to). Even though Warren says that people can and do change their behavior to live in harmony with their religious beliefs, and Warren believes he knows how to help people do that, but LaBarbera chooses not to mention that part of Warren’s beliefs.

    Basically LaBarbera is saying that only heterosexuals are pleasing to God, there are no homos in heaven, and Warren and Yarhouse disagree. Mainly I pay attention to the Sexual Orientation Change research and I don’t pay much attention to the religious discussions so I have noticed if Warren or Yarhouse’s religious beliefs are that sexual minorities who do not change their behavior to heterosexuality or celibacy and instead lead a happy gay life, if they will pass through the pearly gates or not. I usually leave it to others to carry on with the religious discussions.

    I can see why Warren is incensed, and if I read Yarhouse right, him also, at being attacked and with calls for Warren’s removal from his job, especially or even particularly, when science is on their side and they see a legit 3rd way

    1) LaBarera & Friends= No homosexuals in heaven

    2) Many affirming religions = Oh sure no problem God loves everyone, even sexual minorities, and/or we don’t take those Bible passages to heart, or it is a bad interpretation we interpret it differently.

    3) I don’t think I have paid enough attention to Warren’s or Yarhouses religious views to summarize it, but I am pretty they think there is a third way.

    I’ll leave the religious discussion to others as I mostly don’t get involved in that. I am primarily here for the research and political implications of the research.

    When I read the last line of the article,

    In the mean time, I invite critics to simply deal with the evidence.

    I could hear NeNe Lakes shouting, “BAM!”

  • Michael Bussee

    Basically LaBarbera is saying that Warren is not a true Christian because Warren says that it is rare for anyone, especially gay men, to change their sexual orientation (which sex they are attracted to).

    Yep. And former “ex-gays” are told the same thing. John Smid has been told that he has “abandoned Christ” for telling the truth that in over 20 years with Exodus, he never encountered a gay man who had changed his sexual orientation — including himself. In the eyes of the “orthodox” ones, only those who disregard the evidence are true Christians.

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    I appreciate this latest blog post and Dr Yarhouse’s response as well .. Its a real shame that LaBarbera and company resort to outright lying and deceit especially when the details of your view and what SITF does and does not mean are so easily viewable.

    I continue to be frustrated/ dissappointed/ embarrassed/ distrubed by the ongoing efforts by certain Christian individuals and groups to deliberately twist and distort things to satisfy their own agenda .. It will not surprise me if the eventual backlash to this is a fully affirming response from many people. In other words .. their own methadology may be the very downfall of their position.

    Dave

  • Richard Willmer

    I wouldn’t call the Throckmorton-Yarhouse thesis (assuming they really are saying the same thing) a ‘third way’; I would regard it as fundamentally orthodox: it is quite clear that, for a person’s claim to be a Christian to be credible, certain standards of behaviour are necessary. Standards, that it – not types. We all know people in same-sex relationships who have fundamentally high standards of behaviour: they are truthful, caring, faithful, courageous, just and prepared to admit when then they have acted wrongly – in other words, they display in their lives the Fruits of the Spirit.

    Take a look at LaBarbera’s frequent bouts of anti-gay invective: does one see there love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, humility, faithfulness and self-control – things against which there is no law? (Of course there are times when all of us should be ‘robust’ – and I know that I can ‘overstep the mark’ from time to time, especially when I ‘see red’ in the face of what I regard as blatantly untruthful or unjust speech or action.)

  • Dennis

    It seems to me that if you adhere to a traditional Christian sexual ethic, the question is not about attaining heterosexuality (or how many people do or even how much movement along a continuum); rather, the focus is largely behavioral anyway.

    I’ve never commented here, but — this is the single most confusing statement that I have read on this website since I started reading it about two years ago. Dr. Yarhouse, do you mind elaborating on your position?

    Do you really mean that the underlying feelings aren’t important, as long as a person behaves a certain way? To put this statement in another context, is it more important to behave as loving parents do, or to actually love your kids?

  • StraightGrandmother

    Dennis, I am glad you spoke up! See what I mean about having to read and re-read what is written to understand it? I also had to go look up the word conflate from Yarhouses comment. Most of the time I can understand Warren, but not always. There is another commentor here, Blakesly (sp?), who writes, well how to say it, at a high level that it is like deciphering a code. This is why I will frequently paraphrase what they have written to make sure I am understanding. And like you Dennis sometimes I simply can’t make heads nor tails of it and ask them to rephrase it.

    I think what Yarhouse is saying is… no wait, I don’t get it either, I give up.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Michael Bussee, is Love In Action part of Exodus?

  • Richard Willmer

    I think I do understand what Mark Yarhouse is saying (though MY can correct me if I’m wrong, of course): it is that, in the opinion of many Christians, the most important thing is how people behave, and not what their position on some continuum of sexual orientation. And I agree with that: it is completely daft to make a ‘judgement’ about someone on the basis of feelings that are not translated into actions.

    Where I might well disagree with MY (and possibly also with Warren?) is that ‘positive behaviour change’ should not be seen as ‘same-sexually-active to heterosexually-active’ or ‘same-sexually-active to celibate’. And, again, I go back to my comment about ‘standards not types’. Let us consider a fictitious character, whom I shall call ‘Pete’ (!): Pete changes his pattern of behaviour from one of promiscuity to one involving participation in a same-sex partnership within which he respects and cherishes his partner. To me, this is very positive behaviour change. I would even go so far as to say the same for moving from a series of ‘one-night-stands’ (I have never understand how people can have the physical or emotional energy for that ‘pattern of behaviour’!) to ‘involvement’ with a particular respected friend.

  • Teresa

    Being a Catholic, I sometimes have a hard time wrapping my head around some Evangelical person’s thoughts. I have some angst concerning the Catholic Church; but, one thing it does, at least, is that there is no condemnation for “just being a homosexual”. And, in fact, when push comes to shove, their is no insistence about changing from gay to str8. The Church’s big issue is behavior … celibacy, chastity is what counts for this faith belief.

    I’m quite amazed that we’re still conflating being and behavior … and, misunderstanding ‘choice’.

    However, I’m quite amazed by what comes out of some Catholic mouths, considering the latest brouhaha around Daniel Avila, and his statement that the ‘devil’ makes gay babies … very loosely paraphrased. Daniel Avila being an attorney and Bishop’s Aide for the USCCB on marriage.

    Oh, well,

  • William

    Warren, do you realise the enormity of what you’ve done? Peter LaBarbera isn’t the only one to use this deceitful little trick of continually shifting back and forth with the meaning of “change”, using it in some parts of an argument to mean change of sexual behaviour (or leaving a “lifestyle”), and in other parts of the same argument to mean change of sexual orientation. It’s used again and again by advocates of the ex-gay philosophy.

    Now you have exposed and highlighted this verbal conjuring trick, so that from now on anyone who has read this blog will recognize it every time they see it and won’t be taken in by it. Warren, you spoilsport!

  • StraightGrandmother

    Teresa, That was unbelievable on the Catholics wasn’t it? I added a comment and link onvthat on the Christians Behaving Badly topic. Kinda makes your hair curl doesn’t it?

  • Michael Bussee

    Michael Bussee, is Love In Action part of Exodus?

    Yes. LIA was the first “ministry” of its type (back about 1973) and the founder of LIA, Frank Worthen, is sometimes referred to as the “grandfather of the ex-gay movement.” Frank was one of the original founders or Exodus.

  • Michael Bussee

    Peter LaBarbera isn’t the only one to use this deceitful little trick of continually shifting back and forth with the meaning of “change”, using it in some parts of an argument to mean change of sexual behaviour (or leaving a “lifestyle”), and in other parts of the same argument to mean change of sexual orientation. It’s used again and again by advocates of the ex-gay philosophy.

    I could not agree more. The question “Can Gays Change?” depends entirely on what you mean by “change”. The real question should be “What can gays change and to what extent?”

    Another important question is “Why should they feel that they must ‘change?” Could it be that the “ex-gay”or “reparative therapy” practitioner is simply reinforcing social and internalized homophobia?

    Let’s face it, gays and straights alike can change many things about their lives: Their behavior, their values, their lifestyles, their “identities”, the labels they choose to apply or not apply to themselves. No one suggested that gays can’t change anything!

    But to conflate change of behavior with change or orienation is a huge mistake — one that does great harm to many people — and one that some “ex-gay” and “reparative therapists” make on purpose. Even Warren thinks that Exodus and NARTH know better.

  • ken

    Dennis# ~ Nov 4, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    “Do you really mean that the underlying feelings aren’t important, as long as a person behaves a certain way?”

    According to most christian churches with respect to homosexuality, yes. All Mark was doing was pointing out that most of the christian churches, which condemn homosexuality, condemn the behaviour, not the state of being gay (orientation). I.e. a man being attracted to another man isn’t a “sin”, however if he acts on that attraction and has sex with another man, that would be a sin. Mark was just showing how LaBarbera demand is inconsistent with this belief.

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    I, too, am amazed that some here apparently do not understand the unique difference between actions and feelings and how this whole issue gets polarized about this point.

    Just speaking basic Christianity here … Being a Christian / being Christlike often involves going in a direction that does not parallel or is even opposite to one’s personal feelings. If Christians waited for their feelings to come around before they acted .. it is doubtful that a change in action would occur at all. Following Christ often involves sacrifice and doing things that we might not feel like doing or feel comfortable doing. For example .. there are days when we may not feel like acting in a loving way to our children / spouse / coworker/ family member/ enemy / friend / and so forth yet we (hopefully) do it anyway out of obedience and love for Christ. Similarly .. (assuming you believe in waiting until marriage to have sexual relations) if you had to, as a single person feel like not having pre-marital sex in order to meet this requirement there woud be a scant few who could pass the test. Or to put it simply, some new rule that said we had to feel a certain way .. not just act a certain way would put most of us to shame (which is pretty much what happens to people when orientation change is demanded or expected as the litmus test for whether they are a genuine Christian. )

    Dave

  • Dennis

    According to most christian churches with respect to homosexuality, yes. All Mark was doing was pointing out that most of the christian churches, which condemn homosexuality, condemn the behaviour, not the state of being gay (orientation). I.e. a man being attracted to another man isn’t a “sin”, however if he acts on that attraction and has sex with another man, that would be a sin. Mark was just showing how LaBarbera demand is inconsistent with this belief.

    Hmm… I probably misunderstood his post then. I know what most churches say, but I thought he was describing his own views — that he feels that the goal is to change behavior. Hence the question.

  • Dennis

    Following Christ often involves sacrifice and doing things that we might not feel like doing or feel comfortable doing. For example .. there are days when we may not feel like acting in a loving way to our children / spouse / coworker/ family member/ enemy / friend / and so forth yet we (hopefully) do it anyway out of obedience and love for Christ..

    Just FYI — for the first 11 years of my life I lived in a country populated exclusively by atheists, and they do the exact same thing!

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    ME: Why would God permit the Nazi Holocaust to happen?

    CHRISTIAN: Well, the Lord works in mysterious ways.

    ME: And why does God ordain that innocent young children shall be afflicted with painful terminal cancers, while the world is full of total ***-holes who live to be 95?

    CHRISTIAN: The ways of the Lord are indeed mysterious…

    ME: Hmmm, is it possible that God isn’t particularly upset by homosexuality, and in fact He planned all along for 1-2% of the population to be homosexual, but for reasons known only to Himself, He decided not to spell all this out in the Bible?

    CHRISTIAN: Whoa, whoa — let’s not be ridiculous, now! The ways of God may be mysterious, but He ain’t THAT freakin’ mysterious!!

    (Seriously, it’s a very strange sort of theodicy that is able to rationalize famines and plagues as “part of God’s larger plan”, but balks at the idea that God might have chosen to leave some significant nuances out of Scripture, because that would be dishonest of Him.)

    P.S. I don’t mean to pick on Christians specifically . I mean, there are also Jews and Muslims who are endlessly inventive at speculating why a Just And Merciful God allows this or that catastrophe to happen — but the possibility that God might actually WANT some people to be homosexual, because He perceives some very subtle constructive purpose for gay sex, totally eludes their powers of imagination…

  • Michael Bussee

    A friend of mine said it well:

    I can imagine LaBarbera during Copernicus’ time. “Christians know the Earth is a flat chunk of land at the center of the universe. Believing what you actually see is against Christian thinking.”

  • Richard Willmer

    Throbert

    I hope that, in relation to the first two questions, I could have given rather better answers than did the ‘Christian’ in your imagine dialogue!

    (I’m not going to answer them here, as it would take me at least an hour’s worth of typing to even begin to do them justice!)

    Perhaps because I am someone who is unashamedly ‘liberal’ on the issue of same-sex relationships, I really do take the view the Bible has nothing to say about loving same-sex relationships, unless one assumes that there was a sexual element to one or more of the David-Jonathan, Ruth-Noami or Daniel-Ashpenaz friendships.

    Of course there is much biblical material that clearly points to Marriage as an ideal. But ‘ideality’ (which none of us fits) should not be confused with ‘morality’, and certainly not with ‘legality’!

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    One surprise for me — for some reason I had always pictured Dr. Throckmorton physically as a sort of cross between C. Everett Koop and Robert Bork, with a silver beard or goatee!

  • StraightGrandmother

    Ken =

    According to most christian churches with respect to homosexuality, yes. All Mark was doing was pointing out that most of the christian churches, which condemn homosexuality, condemn the behaviour, not the state of being gay (orientation). I.e. a man being attracted to another man isn’t a “sin”, however if he acts on that attraction and has sex with another man, that would be a sin. Mark was just showing how LaBarbera demand is inconsistent with this belief.

    StraightGrandmother = Well that leaves a sexual minority with only 2 choices then, Try to marry a heterosexual spouse, a mixed orientation marriage, or stay celibate. It seems rather unfair of God to encourage marriage for heterosexuals but then deny marriage for sexual minorities simply because the person they would choose to marry is of their same sex. And how many people would want to volunteer for celibacy?

    To be honest I really don’t care if Jones, Yarhouse or Throkmorton feel that same sex intimacy is a sin, as long as they are able to infiltrate the ex-gay organizations to do scientific research, not junk science but real science, in an ethical and unbiased manner, their personal religious beliefs are irrelevant. Their religious views only become relevant to me when or if they advocate for the denial of civil rights for sexual minorities based on their religious views. Just because a few rare gays could successfully live in a mixed Orientation Marriage is not a basis to deny civil rights to ALL sexual minorities in our country. I do not recall Warren speaking about his views on ENDA or Marriage Equality. I wouldn’t think that he would insist that everyone is obligated to live under his world views, but I don’t recall that he has written on the topics either.

  • sam

    So Warren,

    You gave ONN, the best possible explanation of your present views, I hope it will satisfy them.

  • Shofixti

    To Dave and Dennis – on the topic of Feelings vs Behaviours.

    I don’t think that this distinction is actually the most useful one to use. While action/orientation conflation is a real issue, these terms do not express the full range of what an ‘orientation’ might entail. An orientation does not exist solely as a feeling.

    If I look to the left or right – that is a behaviour.

    If I see an attractive person and my pupils dilate – that too is a behaviour.

    If I sweat or have strange feelings in my guts – those a physiological responses to stimuli. Also – reactions below the belt are not feelings, they are physiological too.

    When a person experiences a consistent pattern of involuntary erotic physiological responses to stimuli, it is then that they seek out or make use of social knowledge and classifications to establish and formalise an identity as gay.

    Homosexuals do not originate from homosexual “feelings”, but from physical sexual responses. Sure from then on there is a unchartable connection between behaviour, cognition, social environment and the body. The separation of behaviour from feelings is too abstracted to really represent what is going on.

  • Bruce

    Dr. Throckmorton, LaBarbera may not consider you to be a true Christian for accurately stating the scientific evidence instead of clinging to a false claim that supports the far right’s theology, but surely it is true Christianity to proclaim what you know to be factual regardless of theological considerations. Theology, after all, is merely a human construction, and hence subject to error, however much we may strive for truth in our understanding. While scientific evidence is not infallible, to deny that evidence and proclaim to false data simply because it fits our preconceived theology is to give-up on striving for truth. Thus, LaBarbera has it completely backwards; a true Christian does not knowingly proclaiming that which is false to be factual.

  • David Hart

    I don’t always agree with Warren but one thing is for sure. I have never questioned his intellectual honesty, LaBarbera, on the other hand . . . Well, let’s leave it at that.

  • Michael Bussee

    It is true Christianity to proclaim what you know to be factual regardless of theological considerations.

    A true Christian does not knowingly proclaiming that which is false to be factual.

    “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” ~ Exodus 20:16

  • ken

    Shofixti# ~ Nov 4, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    “Homosexuals do not originate from homosexual “feelings”, but from physical sexual responses. ”

    Being gay, just like being straight, is more than sexual responses/desires. While sexual responses are a part of orientation, they are certainly not the only part.

    Further, your argument about involuntary responses (behaviour) as more significant than desires (feelings) is disingenuous since it is those desires that cause the responses.

  • Shofixti

    Hi Ken,

    I agree that sexual orientation is much more than arousal. As a social constructionist, I see orientation as much, much more – however:

    I just find it fascinating that you consider a desire to be ‘prior to’ physiological signs of desire. I’m not here to tell you that you’re wrong – but to find out then, what actually a desire is made out of.

    Desire to me seems quite refined, informed, directed and more specific than arousal. Is desire conscious, or does it operate unconsciously too? Can you desire a food you’ve never eaten before?

    What I mean is that desire is more shapeable than involuntary sexual response. For instance I was once in a taxi with a man I was physically attracted to, and desired – yet after his rude treatment of our driver, my desire departed. Desire or feelings seem to bend to cultural signifiers like class and status etc. in a way that physiological arousal does not.

    It seems to me that ex-gay programmes can go a great way to impacting the way people evaluate their desire, but that it is the physical signs of arousal that contradict a permanent change in desire. (I don’t know of any pro-change research that actually measures physiological arousal to verify orientation change as in plesmograph studies).

    Maybe we’re just talking about the same thing.

  • Jayhuck

    Warren,

    If I need to apologize for something, it is that I misled evangelicals for several years on the matter of sexual orientation. I did not intend to do so. When I made the documentary I Do Exist, I really believed the stories told. I know the people making the video did as well. I believed my clients; I believed people who told me they changed completely. In hindsight, I acknowledge that my work was complicated by the culture war. I now think the culture war is a significant stumbling block for the church.

    You are the best possible sort of Christian in many ways Warren. Not least because you openly and honestly address the issue at hand with the best evidence out there to date. What perplexes and disturbs me, to some extent anyway, is how far some of these self-professed Christian groups will go to try and prove their point. They end up displaying some of the worst traits humanity has to offer, yet they should be doing the exact opposite. They end up conforming to this world when they should be doing otherwise. What really strikes me is that there are so many of them who seem to do this – granted there are exceptions – but they seem to be just that, and not the rule. So what does that say about the faithful?

  • Jayhuck

    Shofixti:

    When a person experiences a consistent pattern of involuntary erotic physiological responses to stimuli, it is then that they seek out or make use of social knowledge and classifications to establish and formalise an identity as gay.

    Homosexuals do not originate from homosexual “feelings”, but from physical sexual responses. Sure from then on there is a unchartable connection between behaviour, cognition, social environment and the body. The separation of behaviour from feelings is too abstracted to really represent what is going on

    You could easily say the same thing about straight people, could you not?

  • http://twitter.com/FruitNJ J Paul Sank

    My response to LaBarbera’s appeal:

    Hi, Brother LaBarbera,

    OK, I do the search, “Throckmorton” on AFTAH.org as you suggested. Thank you again!

    Since we’re talking about a professor, I look for his scholarly output. I find “Sexual identity therapy framework”. I read it. In spiritual reflection afterwards, I recall that with unbelievers our task is not to remove them from particular sins but to lead them to Christ. Once we have them in the fold, then we want to disciple them, which includes helping them with specific sins. We need to preserve our freedom as Christian leaders to help our own members and newbies out of same-sex attractions. Throckmorton’s framework looks compatible with this.

    The framework looks good to me, like a middle course amid the Scylla and Charybdis of various stakeholders and identity groups, including we who adhere closely to sacred Scripture. Throckmorton’s framework looks to me like a way forward in providing better, more equitable psychological services for all.

    I wish I myself had such therapists when I was experiencing some confusion in the 1970s. I thought I might be gay or bi-, but I also knew Christ and believed the Bible as I do now. With a Throckmortonist, that period of confusion would have been greatly shortened, I’m sure.

    In my own war against the homosexual agenda I see no reason to fire upon Throckmorton.

    I’m sure I’ll respond positively to some of the AFTAH appeals I receive in the future.

    J Paul Sank

    Maple Shade NJ

  • Shofixti

    Jayhuck -

    You sure can. The only difference being that heterosexuality is institutionalised in such a way that provides social resources more readily. Heterosexuality is expected and explicitly taught as normal so no one is really aware when, where or how they learned about it. I would assume the majority of homosexuals perceive they are heterosexual until sexuality “awakens”, and even then it may seem like a phase – until it is not.

    So yes, I would say heterosexuals do not come from heterosexual “feelings”.

  • Richard Willmer

    What interests me most in all this is the ‘Christian thinking’ bit.

    I rather agree with Jayhuck when he says “You are the best possible sort of Christian in many ways Warren.” This is not because I necessarily agree with Warren on everything: I suspect that, were we to sit down over a cup of tea or coffee (or whatever) and start discussing theological issues, we would find we have plenty of ‘differences of opinion’. It is because of the very nature of the Christian life, which is an ongoing process of ‘change’ from self-centredness (necessary for survival in infancy – baby screams when food is needed) to Christ-centredness (which is never completely achieved in this earthly life, except perhaps by those who are martyred for the faith or for charity). At the heart of this process is ‘seeking, asking and knocking’ (prayer, I suppose). Those who ‘have an agenda’ – however worthy that agenda may seem – are not ‘seeking, asking and knocking’ enough … and, in a way, that’s all of us. But some of us recognize the trap of being ‘caught in an agenda’, and at least try to ‘seek, ask and knock’ our way out of it.

    Christian discipline is so much about ‘process’ (my former parish priest used to say “either you grow or you die”), and not about ‘towing this or that party line’.

  • William

    Shofixti:

    Can you desire a food you’ve never eaten before?

    Can you desire to have sex with someone of the opposite sex if you’ve never had sex before? I think that most heterosexual people would answer from their experience “yes”, and I would believe them.

    Can you desire to have sex with someone of the same sex if you’ve never had sex before? Yes, definitely. I know, because I did for years.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    Who’s more typical of vocal Evangelistic christianity today – Warren Throckmorton or Peter laBarbara? Who has more political influence?

    We could have asked the same about George Rekers.

    Warren, your views are quaintly old-fashioned. I might even say 2000 years old. A new ideology has taken the place of your beliefs, and has done so for decades.

  • Lynn David

    Heaven forbid LaBarbera should now go after your reasoned views on evvolution, Warren.

    So, no longer Switzerland…. welcome to the Low Countries!

  • ken

    Shofixti# ~ Nov 5, 2011 at 12:23 am

    “I just find it fascinating that you consider a desire to be ‘prior to’ physiological signs of desire.”

    I’m surprised you would consider the reverse to be the case. Even involuntary responses are caused by the brain. The brain receives stimulus through the senses and instructs the body to respond accordingly (consciously or not). and in between that stimulus and response is where the emotions (desire, lust, fear, anger etc) come in.

    “Is desire conscious, or does it operate unconsciously too?”

    I believe it is both.

    “Can you desire a food you’ve never eaten before?”

    Of course you can. A person walking down a street smells something he likes very much. His brain causes in involuntary response of his mouth watering. However, this person can also make a conscious decision to seek out the source of this smell. All based on his desire for a food he’s never tasted.

    “What I mean is that desire is more shapeable than involuntary sexual response.”

    “shapebale” implies a conscious decision. Your example in the taxi simply shows that desire can change as more information is obtained, (i.e. desire can be based on many complex factors), not that it was consciously changed.

    “It seems to me that ex-gay programmes can go a great way to impacting the way people evaluate their desire”

    I think suppress would be a more accurate term than evaluate, in describing ex-gay programs. And that is why they tend to fail.

  • ken

    StraightGrandmother# ~ Nov 4, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    “Well that leaves a sexual minority with only 2 choices then, Try to marry a heterosexual spouse, a mixed orientation marriage, or stay celibate.”

    Or join another church (or maybe reject religion altogether).

    LaBarbera and his ilk might like to think they get to decide what gays can or cannot do, they don’t.

  • Mary

    It’s the same old test. Just feels kind of funny when the shoe is on your foot.

    Who cares anyhow. Rmember Christ’s analogy – a camel through the eye of the needle.

  • Patrocles

    Warren,

    I must beg your pardon, but haven’t read most of what you wrote in the last years.

    As for SOC, I think that the concept is oversimplifying – but, for the sake of the argument between gay activists and christian conservatives, it’s good enough; and I’m on the whole certain that SOC doesn’t occur often, if anytime at all.

    But I’m puzzled about your stance w.r.t. the people in “I do exist”. Do you want to say that those people – in the way as they presented themselves in “i do exist” – didn’t exist? And have you any reasons to believe so, which are founded in your experience with those people (and not in your general convictions)?

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    “Can you desire a food you’ve never eaten before?”

    Sure, if it smells like or looks like a food that you’ve eaten before, and that is a favorite of yours. (If you love fried chicken, then pretty much anything that’s crispy-batter-fried and smells like hot grease will get your mouth watering — at least initially, though it may turn out you don’t like deep-fried pig lungs, or whatever’s hidden inside the batter!)

    Failing that, you might also desire a strange-looking food that you’ve neither tasted or smelled if you happen see an advertisement of physically attractive, smiling people enjoying the food in question. But in this latter case, the mechanism of “desire” would be quite different! (Probably countless Westerners have gamely tried sashimi with slices of raw fish, octopus tentacles, and sea-urchin eggs for precisely this reason — and of course, some find that they really love it, while others don’t.)

  • Patrocles

    Shofixti,

    thanks for the most inspiring contribution to this blog. I’m am discontent with the “essentialist” position, as well.

    What’s “desire”? The desire to get aroused and have an orgasm – by fantasizing about practices with persons in advance of realty (or in substitution to reality)?

    If so, desire is definitely influenced by experience and learning. I wouldn’t have fantasized in my youth about practices I didn’t know then.

    “Sexual orientation” has to be taken apart like a bycicle, in order to look which pieces it contains and how these pieces are arranged. (That, of course, would be the scientific task of Narth – if you want to make something better, you have to understand its composition. If you just want to justify it, you needn’t go into details.)

  • Shofixti

    Thanks Ken and Throbert

    This prompts me to make some revisions. Also, I think perhaps the food analogy only makes sense to me as I have a number of food aversions that have taken decades to overcome in some instances. So I see my desire for some foods as only coming out of a long series of gradual exposure.

    I guess I see arousal as owing to an innate predisposition to respond to stimuli in a certain way, which is largely unconscious and undirectable. Whereas desire aligns much more to cultural conventions – consider the first date where your prospective partner tells you they are a professor, or a sex offender, a lottery winner or a recovering alcoholic. There is no way genetics can code for the huge variety of social status signals that exist, so I think desire owes a lot of its form to not-explicitly-innate mechanisms.

    In any case I do not think that either hetero-or-homosexuals can or should be defined by an ability to be aroused or desire all women or all men. It is likely a subset and this will be because of biological and social patterns (consider people who desire tattoos on others, I doubt a gene or hormone can explain this).

    What I really wanted to say is that I think it is impossible to have or experience desire without behaviours. They just cannot be separated in a way that makes any logical or scientific sense if an organisation sets out to prohibit behaviours but authorise or at least allow desires. You can prohibit sex, but you cannot prohibit all the antecedents of desire. The idea that such a dichotomy between behaviour and arousal/desire exists, I believe, is an error that allows reparative and moral hypotheses that I disagree with.

  • stephen

    Having read this post a couple of times I would suggest that the argument is backwards (same goes for the Yarhouse study). You’re not really talking about how gay men and women deal with their sexuality, you’re dealing with how gay Christians deal with their religion. Nothing I read here relates to most of the gay men I know. A more valid study of orientation change would be among men and women who live in big cities, whose lives are productive and happy, who find the whole idea of praying themselves straight ridiculous.

    If you can’t have change without religion then you don’t have change. This sentence caught my eye:

    However, gay and bisexual people who change their behavior infrequently lose their same-sex attractions, no matter how earnestly they pray.

    ‘… how earnestly they pray’? You’re talking about religion, not sexuality.

  • Richard Willmer

    It is also very important to understand the distinction between ‘behaviour’ in a functional sense and ‘behaviour’ in a moral sense.

    One of the things that annoys me intensely about the LaBarberas of the world is the refusal to understand that the ‘moral status’ of a particular sexual act depends upon the context within which the act is performed. LeB’s ‘nursery school’ morality in this regard is an stupid as it is dangerous.

  • Jayhuck

    Patro -

    If so, desire is definitely influenced by experience and learning. I wouldn’t have fantasized in my youth about practices I didn’t know then.

    No learning was required for me to desire other men in my youth. I didn’t have a name for what was going on with me, sure, but the feelings were there all the same. Perhaps I’m missing your point, but I don’t see that it requires any sort of experience or learning to simply desire other people. Does it?

  • stephen

    It must also be noted that this La Barbera person is notorious for showing up at some of the more extreme gay events, sometimes in leather drag. I know this is how he makes his living but even so, his obsession is peculiar to say the least. I don’t get into costume and go to Southern Baptist conventions.

    I think the term ‘culture war’ was invented by the extreme right-wing of American fundamentalist Protestantism to make it look as if their animus served some kind of larger purpose. Gay people aren’t in any kind of war, we’re under attack. A well-funded and relentless attack. Just why that should be – why this obsession with all things gay – is beyond me, but there it is. As the rest of the country learns that there’s nothing to see and have moved on, those committed to interfering with our lives become increasingly shrill.

    Religion has no place in the study of sexuality. Then it becomes the study of how sexuality is adapted to fit religious strictures and what effect that has on people.

  • Richard Willmer

    The danger of doing any kind of study from some kind of ‘religious’ starting point is that one end up ‘assuming the answer’ rather than properly evaluating the evidence.

    As I have said, perhaps the key point on this thread is ‘what constitutes a Christian approach?’ Well, anyone who takes God seriously understands that they can ‘never know it all’ (because ‘the truth’ is always bigger than they/we are) – and so they search and question and draw ‘conclusions’ that they know perfectly well are relative and proximate … and then they search and question and … (etc etc etc). Saint Paul, despite his propensity for seemingly ‘dogmatic’ statements, so often says “something, something, something, and yet ,,,”

  • Richard Willmer

    The danger of doing any kind of study from some kind of ‘religious’ starting point is that one end up ‘assuming the answer’ rather than properly evaluating the evidence.

    As I have said, perhaps the key point on this thread is ‘what constitutes a Christian approach?’ Well, anyone who takes God seriously understands that they can ‘never know it all’ (because ‘the truth’ is always bigger than they/we are) – and so they search and question and draw ‘conclusions’ that they know perfectly well are relative and proximate … and then they search and question and … (etc etc etc). Saint Paul, despite his propensity for seemingly ‘dogmatic’ statements, so often says “something, something, something, and yet ,,,”

  • ken

    Richard Willmer# ~ Nov 6, 2011 at 4:07 am

    “The danger of doing any kind of study from some kind of ‘religious’ starting point is that one end up ‘assuming the answer’ rather than properly evaluating the evidence.”

    To be fair, ALL studies start with an assumed answer in the hypothesis. It is just that those who have a dogmatic view are less likely to accept a negative result (i.e. one that disproves the hypothesis rather than proves it).

  • Patrocles

    Jayhucks,

    a lot of boys feel “attracted” to older, more masculine boys or men. And as far as I see, it’s extremely difficult to make out how that “attraction” differs in heterosexual boys and in homosexual boys.

    The difference gets obvious only when the boy arrives at puberty. Puberty means that he develops a rhythm of erection-ejaculation/orgasm. That bodily development is innate. Now, because orgasm is pleasure. he also develops a tendency to stimulate himself to orgasm, manually and by pictures/imaginations. At that moment, the homosexual boy gets definitely different insofar as he uses pictures/imaginations of boys/men in order to get genitally aroused.

    But as I said he may connect two pieces which have independent origins. That’s a matter of empirical research, and I hope that research is done sometime.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Ken

    That’s more or less what I was trying to say. And we all have our prejudices (which is not the same thing as a ‘starting point’) …

  • Patrocles

    I must add that my model would explain why SOC is improbable, without looking for genetical or intrauterine effects, only by means of behavioural theory.

    Orgasm is the most strong reinforcement possible. And every orgasm reinforces the connexion between boy/men (contacts or pictures or imagination or smell etc) and arousal. It’s hard to see how the connexion could get extinct again (perhaps with a gay man who tries to get an orgasm in the usual way but is constantly unsuccessful because of e.g. physiological troubles – but such a man is hard to find).

  • Michael Bussee

    I always thought real science began with a question, not a presupposed answer based on religious dogma.

  • David

    God help me, but I agree with Zoe Brain. You cannot look at Warren Throckmorton, his integrity, his commitment to seeking truth, his compassion for others – and say that he is a Christian in any modern sense of the word. Like it or not, Christianity today is Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, TBN, the American Family Association, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, AFTAH and a host of other right-wing organizations. Christianity means winking at greed and corruption and environmental degradation and war while obsessing every day about some aspect of sex. Throckmorton has nothing in common with that crowd. So LaBarbera is right to ask him to stop calling himself a Christian.

  • Tim Warner

    Regardless of where one falls on the spectrum of Homosexual – heterosexual is the issue not one of “how then shall we live” as True Christians?

  • StraightGrandmother

    So much of what I read in sexual minority news is so depressing to me. This article for example, calling someone “not a Christian” all the beatings and attacks, Hate Crimes, the sexual minority youth committing Bullycide I read about, well funded political attacks against sexual minorities- NOM et al, it just is depressing.

    But sometimes, once in a while I am uplifted, hopeful that in my lifetime things will get better and that this terrible Discrimination will end. I am very inspired by the just opened True Colors Residence in New York City, they have 30 permanent apartments for young (18 -24 yr old) sexual minority youth who have been homeless. This is not a shelter, it is permanent apartments. If this video on the project doesn’t touch your heart, man you have a cold heart.

    http://youtu.be/rpvwSY3zUho

  • Richard Willmer

    Like it or not, Christianity today is Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, TBN, the American Family Association, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, AFTAH and a host of other right-wing organizations. Christianity means winking at greed and corruption and environmental degradation and war while obsessing every day about some aspect of sex.

    Don’t agree. It seems that way because the extremists make a lot of noise.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    @Richard Wikmer – Goodle “Christian Counsellors”. Try to find one that isn’t entirely in line with NARTH’s views.

    I’m sure there must be some. Difficult finding any though. To say that this is only a “vocal minority” doesn’t match the facts.

    30% of the Chaplain Corps in the US military are graduates from Liberty University.

    In October, 2006 the university published an advertisement in The Chronicle of Higher Education in an attempt to recruit staff to its biology department. The advertisement stated that the university was “seeking faculty who can demonstrate a personal faith commitment to its evangelical Christian purpose” and specified that “compatibility with a young-earth creationist philosophy [is] required.

    They’re supposedly trying to get accreditation for a medical school. Care to guess what kind of care graduates would provide?

    Then there’s Pat Robertson’s Regent University…

    Against all the NARTHs, the Family-this’s and Family-that’s, contrast how many are like Warren. Scientific honesty, integrity, is now firmly marginalised in the Corporate Christianity that is the US Evangelical movement today. It has no place.

    Thank goodness there are still some like him. It means that I have ammunition to use against those who would condemn all Christianity as inherently evil and hypocritical. But he’s now on the fringe, and that state of affairs should be recognised.

  • http://www.sexualidentityinstitute.org Mark Yarhouse

    @Michael: The kind of study you propose would seem to replicate the Shidlo and Schroeder study that initially sought to interview only people harmed by reorientation therapy. I could see conducting a study that looked at the impact of such therapies on people – both benefits and harm – but I see design problems in only identifying people who report harm in a therapy approach. (Similar problems with only interviewing people who benefited from a therapy approach.) I do know of one or two studies like you proposed underway, however, so I think you will see those findings eventually. You wrote me on FB, too, so I can discuss it more with you there if you wish.

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    So LaBarbera is right to ask him to stop calling himself a Christian.

    I don’t entirely agree with this — to me, “Christian” implies a sincere belief in the Nicene Creed, or something like that, and thus Throckmorton and LaBarbera are presumably Christians.

    But I would agree with your point insofar as you mean that LaBarbera is less concerned with telling gays what they can or can’t do, and more concerned with staking out the boundaries between small-o “orthodox Christianity” and “heretical Christianity.”

    I mean, to Throckmorton it must seem that LaBarbera’s hyper-literal and fixated reading of “and such WERE some of you” (1 Cor. 6:11) is so excessive that it’s getting into the area of heresy, while LaBarbera thinks that Throckmorton’s LACK of attention to that verse is heretical. However, neither is challenging the other’s faith with regard to the bodily Resurrection, for example. In other words, there’s a difference between heresy and apostasy, and I think LaBarbera is only accusing Warren of the former.

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    Er, following up on my previous post — I don’t mean to suggest an “equivalence” between Throckmorton and LaBarbera; Warren has always struck me as a guy who would be very slow to use such baggage-laden terms as “heresy” and “apostasy”, because he wants to err on the side of encouraging more people to find Christ, while LaBarbera would use either term at the drop of the hat, because he wants to err on the side of “purity.”

  • Jayhuck

    Patro -

    a lot of boys feel “attracted” to older, more masculine boys or men. And as far as I see, it’s extremely difficult to make out how that “attraction” differs in heterosexual boys and in homosexual boys.

    The difference gets obvious only when the boy arrives at puberty. Puberty means that he develops a rhythm of erection-ejaculation/orgasm. That bodily development is innate. Now, because orgasm is pleasure. he also develops a tendency to stimulate himself to orgasm, manually and by pictures/imaginations. At that moment, the homosexual boy gets definitely different insofar as he uses pictures/imaginations of boys/men in order to get genitally aroused.

    I’m not sure what you are trying to say here. I think you are confusing sexual attraction with attraction of more platonic kind. As a young kid I was sexually attracted to men – not older men, just guys my age, and I think this is probably true of most gay guys. I looked at pictures of men to become aroused because men/boys is what I am/was attracted to. I’m sure that over time sex does reinforce the attraction, but the sexual, not platonic, attraction and desire were there before the act of looking at pictures or anything else.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    Query: is this Christian behaviour?

    http://lezgetreal.com/2011/11/lesbian-marine-with-severe-ptsd-harassed-by-evangelical-nurse-at-va/

    Note that it could be worse – we’ve had Indian physicians advise such patients who are transsexual to open their veins to get another spin of the karmic wheel.

    Then again, we’ve also had pastors and priests say that while suicide is a sin, under the circumstances, He would understand. This can be utterly devastating for true believers.

    The thing is – they may truly have been giving that advice out of compassion in both cases, rather than revulsion. I’d like to believe that anyway.

    “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Meanwhile, untrained amateurs like myself must do our fumbling and incompetent best to pick up the pieces and undo the damage these people – people who are supposed to be professionals – have done, as best we can. Sometimes I feel so ignorant, I really need some professional training here, anyone with a high public profile has to do so very much, there are so many anguished e-mails and phonecalls. All asking for advice I’m completely unqualified to give, and tell them so, but have to give it anyway. First, prevent harm ( a rather stronger statement than Primum Non Nocere).

    Unlimited compassion and concrete aid helps. Deeds not just words. Be unreasonably forgiving if they lash out at you in their torment. Don’t concern yourself with trifling slights. 1 Corinthians 13 cover it.

    I don’t think Evangelical Christianity as it’s practiced in Liberty and Regent universities is very big on that.

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    a lot of boys feel “attracted” to older, more masculine boys or men. And as far as I see, it’s extremely difficult to make out how that “attraction” differs in heterosexual boys and in homosexual boys.

    For me, as a boy who grew up to be homosexual, the key difference may have been in how I felt about women and femininity. I can remember that in middle school and early high school, I enjoyed drawing both naked men and naked women — but the enjoyment from drawing boobs and vaginas was rather abstract, and similar to the gratification I got from drawing a dog or a geranium or a Coke bottle and having it turn out more or less true-to-life (it was the satisfaction that I had produced something aesthetically pleasing). But drawing a naked muscular man and what I thought his penis might look like produced a much more gut-level (but paranoid) satisfaction.

  • David

    @Mark Yarhouse:

    I just wanted to congratulate you on the 1-hour videotaped seminar you gave at Liberty University, in which you affirmed your pre-existing belief that “change” is possible via the Christan “seal ethic.” It is the mark of a great Christian academic that he begins with a conclusion and then seeks evidence to bolster it. BTW, I look forward with interest to hearing about any ex-gay study that: 1) assesses “change” after the therapy or religious counseling ends, not while it is still ongoing and/or 2) measures or at least corroborates reported arousal patterns through objective measurement rather than relyiing on self-reporting alone. Please do let us know when you get around to doing that.

    @Richard Willmer and Throbert:

    You can’t call CBN, AFA, FOTF, FRC, etc. “extremist” because by every objective measurement, they are mainstream American Christianity. Throckmorton is the extremist. CBN’s last reported revenue was over $600 million, including over $200 million in contributions from supporters. This is the annual revenue that came in *after* Pat Robertson declared on the air that God sent the earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people in Haiti because Haitians had entered into a pact with Satan to free themselves from slavery. AFA brings in $20 million per year, in spite of the regular assertions by its senior policy analyst that Muslims have no First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion and that Native Americans are savages who were brutalized because they failed to accept Jesus.

    FOTF regularly brought in well over $100 million per annum for many years following James Dobson’s demand that 6 out of the 9 Justices of the US Supreme Court be impeached because they struck down an anti-gay measure that was passed in Colorado.

    How many supporters does Throckmorton have? How many supporters and how much money do evangelists like Tony Campolo have? The answer is: a tiny fraction of what Robertson, Fischer, and Dobson have. So it makes little sense to call the latter group extremists.

    As for Throbert’s point, Christianity is what Christians make of it. You can insist all you like that “real” Christianity should be determined by adherence to this or that creed, but the reality is that “Christianity” will mean what the consensus of Christians says it means. Today, the evidence is overwhelming that by consensus, Christianity means a cruel reactionary political ideology with a neurotic obsession with all matters sexual. Just for lulz, set aside a few hours and do some date-restricted google searches for “Christian and mortgage fraud” or “Christian and oil spill”. Now do date-restricted searches for “Christian and homosexuality” or “Christian and sexuality” or “Christian and lust” and compare the results, both in quantity and content.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Zoe Brain : I agree it that what’s going with regard to religious extremism in the USA is very worrying.

  • Richard Willmer

    And, with respect, Zoe, I think you missed the point I was trying to make.

    Of course, LaBarbera will say that Warren is a heretic, just I would say that people like LaBarbera are heretics.

    As for ‘Christian Counsellors’: well, it tends to be ‘that’ ilk that uses ‘Christian’ as a kind of ‘brand’. There are many Christians who don’t. And it’s this ‘branding’ exercise – and its apparent success – that is perhaps the greatest worry.

  • Lynn David

    Since when has money been a measure of truth?

  • stephen

    I think that David gets it right. I would add that the pity is that when people like LaBarbera or Fischer mouth off they are never publicly corrected, at least not as far as I can see.

    Here’s an interesting snippet about the mormons. In my admittedly limited experience, LDS kids are the most beaten up, the most traumatized by their bringing up. This is from a group of gay mormons getting together in SLC for mutual support. The conference in named – tellingly – ‘Circling the Wagons’. And I quote:… nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of the 1,600 respondents had tried to change their orientation, and 86 percent classified church counseling that sought to end their same-sex attraction as not helpful, somewhat harmful or severely harmful.

    About a third (29 percent) of the respondents said they remained active in the LDS faith, a little more than a third were inactive (36 percent) and 26 percent asked to have their names removed from the church’s membership rolls.

    Still, nearly 70 percent said they believed in God, 52 percent believed in Jesus Christ, and 36 percent believed that LDS Church founder Joseph Smith was “a prophet of God.”

    Healthy gay people don’t try to change their orientation these days. Even unhealthy gay people don’t do that. The drive to ‘change’ is almost entirely religious. As such I think it could be worthy of study. But it tells us nothing about gay men and woman as we live now. It tells us nothing about sexuality. As others have noted, I knew that men mattered to me in a way that women didn’t by the time I was 6. Nothing has changed since though I went through a period in my late teens when I dated women because I was afraid of being found out – that was the late 60s and a very different world. One of those girls I treated very badly: a matter which still makes me ashamed. However, as soon as I fell in love I knew the difference. I wasn’t experimenting with homosexuality but with heterosexuality. And believe me, life is much easier straight. It’s just not my life.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Zoe,

    Thanks for the link to that article. The nerve of some people! I would recommend that you add it to the “Christians Behaving Baldly” Topic that Warren started last week.

  • Richard Willmer

    Part of the problem is that the more ‘liberal’ parts of the Church have a tendency to be too ‘gentle’ in their response to the LaBarberas and Fischers of this world, or they are simply not sufficiently aware of their activities.

    @ David : I’m British, and the kind of rubbish one sees from LaB. and F. would be deemed ‘extremist’ over here (they could, in the UK, even face arrest for what they do). There is also a considerable number (as in millions, or even tens of millions) of Christians in the USA who are rather more ‘liberal’ than even Warren … They will ‘take it as read’ that LeB. and F. are talking rubbish, but – and here I agree with you – are not organized enough when it comes to providing a robust and convincing response.

    Don’t fall into the trap of becoming ‘anti-Christian’ per se. That won’t help people like Warren (or me, for that matter); it would also be a serious tactical error on your part. Identify the ‘villains’ and highlight the lies the tell and the damage they do … and keep the focus firmly there.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Stephen =

    The drive to ‘change’ is almost entirely religious.

    Having read this post a couple of times I would suggest that the argument is backwards (same goes for the Yarhouse study). You’re not really talking about how gay men and women deal with their sexuality, you’re dealing with how gay Christians deal with their religion.

    StraightGrandmother= Terrific observations, 1,000% agree. You juxtaposed the issues to their correct, ahmmm, “orientation”

    Zoe Brain =

    30% of the Chaplain Corps in the US military are graduates from Liberty University.

    StraightGrandmother= Oh this is scary, I wasn’t aware of that. I will remember this when I see news articles about the military chaplains protesting.

    Jayhuck =

    I’m not sure what you are trying to say here. I think you are confusing sexual attraction with attraction of more platonic kind. As a young kid I was sexually attracted to men – not older men, just guys my age, and I think this is probably true of most gay guys.

    StraightGrandmother= Jayhuck you are my guide, bet you didn’t know that. I really am a straight grandmother and I do not know these things naturally. You teach me and you guide me. I pay attention to several people here but you and Teresa (and others Zoe and Richard W), you are my guide in this foreign land that I know nothing about. I mean I know it generally, I know a lot about the politics of sexual minorities, and I prolly know more than you about the court cases that involve sexual minorities, but I don’t naturally know the things you teach me.

    David =

    God help me, but I agree with Zoe Brain. You cannot look at Warren Throckmorton, his integrity, his commitment to seeking truth, his compassion for others – and say that he is a Christian in any modern sense of the word. Like it or not, Christianity today is Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, TBN, the American Family Association, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, AFTAH and a host of other right-wing organizations.

    StraightGrandmother= And this is sad but I bet I am not the only one. Because of the religious pressure, the discrimination against sexual minorities, I honestly can say that I am way less spiritual now than even 5 years ago. All the denigration and discrimination has turned me away from my Christian Faith. Not completely but a lot. There are not enough Warren’s and to many Brians, Maggies, and LaBarberas.

    Richard Wilmer =

    The danger of doing any kind of study from some kind of ‘religious’ starting point is that one end up ‘assuming the answer’ rather than properly evaluating the evidence.

    StraightGrandmother=, yup, yup, I agree with that.

    Ken =

    To be fair, ALL studies start with an assumed answer in the hypothesis. It is just that those who have a dogmatic view are less likely to accept a negative result (i.e. one that disproves the hypothesis rather than proves it)

    StraightGrandmother= Yes, NARTH is like this. Yarhouse I am on the fence about, I’m not sure about him. Warren, until he shows me otherwise I am trusting. I hope he proves to be worthy of my trust.

    Shofixti = You can prohibit sex, but you cannot prohibit all the antecedents of desire. The idea that such a dichotomy between behaviour and arousal/desire exists, I believe, is an error that allows reparative and moral hypotheses that I disagree with.

    StraightGrandmother = Yeah, I understand what you said,and I agree with it.

    StraightGrandmother = Patrocles I just don’t “get” you at all. And I have tried. There is something different about you and I can’t figure out what it is. Different doesn’t mean bad.

  • Richard Willmer

    I don’t know if I necessarily agree with everything StraightGrandmother says (just as she probably doesn’t agree with everything I say), but I really like her! :-)

  • Zena

    “In the eyes of the “orthodox” ones, only those who disregard the evidence are true Christians.”

    Do you mean that you have to lie to yourself and others to be a considered a Christian by orthodox Christians???