Unconditional Love Reparative Therapy Style

Yesterday on the Dr. Oz Show, Christopher Doyle and Julie Hamilton presented reparative therapy as one option for people with “unwanted same-sex attractions.” They also portrayed their position as accepting of GLBT people and urged unconditional love in response to young people who experience attraction to the same sex. At one point, Doyle sounded angry and shouted from the audience that a panelist was misrepresenting his position on the subject of acceptance.

Those opposing reparative therapy seemed astounded by the reparative therapists insistence that reparative therapy is not stigmatizing. If Doyle and Hamilton really believe what they said on the Oz Show, they displayed a jaw-dropping deficit in self-awareness. In fact, the definition of reparative therapy includes a theory of homosexuality that makes same-sex attraction the result of family dysfunction or childhood sexual abuse. On the program, Hamilton and Doyle seemed to apply their theory to only those men and women they see in counseling. However, when one reads reparative therapy literature, it is clear that they see all homosexual attraction as stemming from dysfunction of one kind or another.

When one of the panelists (Brad Lamm I believe) said that reparative therapists stigmatized gay youth, Doyle protested that his position was being misrepresented. However, in a 2010 WorldNetDaily article titled “Warning to Homosexual Youth: It Gets Worse“, Doyle’s stance was exactly as Lamm described.  About gay youth, Doyle said

It’s all too typical for homosexual activists to justify their behavior by claiming “we’re born that way” and then blame the tragic consequences of their actions on an intolerant society. But pushing this lie to young people is the ultimate death sentence for those who do not want to live a homosexual life. It offers no hope to youth who are struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions, and it’s unconscionable to lure young people into behavior that has so many serious risks, and then deny them the opportunity for change.

The facts reveal that even in the most gay-friendly cultures, it’s not society that is responsible for the consequences of homosexuality; it’s the behavior. It really makes one ask the question, just what about the homosexual life gets better?

If Doyle doesn’t believe this anymore then he needs to get WND to remove the article from their website or print a retraction.

At 2:45 in this clip (videos from Dr. Oz’s site cannot be embedded; click the link to watch) GLSEN’s Eliza Bayard expresses the fact that reparative therapy by definition implies that there is something about the same-sex attracted person that needs to be changed. At 2:52, the camera moves to Julie Hamilton who is shaking her head in disagreement with Bayard.

She then says she agrees with Bayard and says at 3:10:

Reparative therapy does not tell children that there is something wrong with them.

At that point Bayard and another panelist rightly interrupt Hamilton and ask how she can suggest that reparative therapy is not trying to fix an illness or a wound. In the next clip, Hamilton says that as a starting point, reparative therapy tries to help people be more comfortable with themselves.

Hamilton’s denial of the essential tenets of reparative therapy is astounding. Until he was corrected by me in 2006, Joseph Nicolosi, one of the founders of reparative therapy, told Love Won Out audiences that homosexuality is a gender identity disorder. In his newest book, Nicolosi continues to claim that homosexuality is the result of faulty parenting. Hamilton in an article on the NARTH website paints a picture of normal, healthy development and then says gays don’t experience that:

So, what happens in the development of gender identity that might lead a child to have same-sex attractions? Typically, for this child, there is something that prevents him from attaching to the father. Either he does not have a father or a father figure, or he does not have a father who he perceives as safe and/or welcoming.

In 2009, Hamilton co-edited a book called Handbook of Therapy for Unwanted Homosexual Attractions: A Guide to Treatment. In it, Nicolosi’s chapter on the meaning of same-sex attraction has this to say:

The homosexually oriented man typically carries a deep sense of shame for his strivings to make a connection with the masculine. On some level, he believes he is defective, insignificant, and depleted in his masculinity. Homosexual acting-out seems to promise reparation of those negative feelings, i.e., attention, admiration, and masculine reassurance, adding with it the reassurance that he truly does possess a worthy male body. (p. 37)

Also in this chapter, Nicolosi contrasts the “true self” (heterosexuality) with the “false self” (homosexuality). This chapter makes it very clear, in contrast to what Hamilton said on Dr. Oz, that reparative theory does tell people that something is wrong with them. Perhaps the therapist does not use those exact words and say, “there is something wrong with you,” but given what these therapists do teach, it is no wonder that Hamilton got a shocked reaction from her opponents.

If Doyle and Hamilton really believe that their theory only covers a small subset of same-sex attracted people then the burden is on them to explicitly reject their past statements and writings which indicate they believe all homosexuality is the result of dysfunctional parenting or abuse. If they really believe that GLBT people can live healthy, functional lives, then they need to explicitly reject much of what is on the NARTH and PFOX websites and make clear statements to that effect. Until then, their claims will continue to fall on skeptical ears.

 

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  • Bill

    “The homosexually oriented man typically carries a deep sense of shame for his strivings to make a connection with the masculine. On some level, he believes he is defective, insignificant, and depleted in his masculinity. Homosexual acting-out seems to promise reparation of those negative feelings, i.e., attention, admiration, and masculine reassurance, adding with it the reassurance that he truly does possess a worthy male body. (p. 37)”

    Correct me if I am wrong, but that appears to be how HETEROSEXUALS view gay people. It is not at all how gay people view OURSELVES.

    The lack of self-awareness here boggles the mind.

  • Bill

    The only thing anyone needs to know about this ‘therapy’ is that the ONLY people who condone it are those who profit financially from it.

    Ethically speaking, what else is there to know?

  • Patrocles

    There’s a lot of middle ground here. Nobody knows if the “Nicolosi types” of homosexuals (that is, people like me) are really a tiny minority, or a big minority, or a majority. That’s till now a mere matter of belief.

    Eventually, generalizations are important only for theorists (and most theorists tend to overestimate the number of personalities who are covered by their theory).

    But practical therapists have no need to generalize. And in fact there’s no quote in this article, which tells us that Hamilton or Doyle did generalize. In particular, if you read the quote from Doyle, you can see that he doesn’t promote a generalization on his side, but attacks a generalization by his opponents.

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  • me

    if the want to be gay let them if they dont let them leave it alone poeple

  • Teresa

    Warren, et. al.,

    Actually, Warren, in reading Dr. Julie Hamilton’s linked article, I found quite a bit that I agreed with; and, of course, some I found a bit disturbing, but not much. What I’m noticing about Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) or usually labeled Reparative Therapy (which I don’t think is a proper labeling) is that it is changing … and, what’s fascinating, it’s changing towards your approach Warren: SITF.

    Hamilton’s article did, in fact, note that there are many children who undergo abuse, neglect, abandonment, and whatnot from their same sex parent and do not deal with same sex attractions. That’s a big admission, and not to be overlooked. Additionally, the essay, also, mentions that ‘change’ doesn’t necessarily mean same sex attractions will disappear: another big admission.

    What’s fascinating and at the same time puzzling is that we all seem to be stuck in some sort of time warp regarding opposing views on same sex attractions. Warren, your therapeutic approach is really what NARTH is moving toward, if not already there incognito, and it’s a darned shame NARTH won’t fess up to it.

    There is a place for therapists offering help to those of us who want to align our faith beliefs with our same sex attraction, and for many of us that means living a celibate life. All I would seek and ask for in a therapist is to help me live that choice as a beloved child of God without shame, with joy and gratitude, whatever the cost and sacrifice; and, what’s more, we should have access to said therapists without being excoriated, criticized, demeaned, and condemned by anyone for our choices.

    BTW, Warren, how are you feeling since your surgery? Where’s your blog on your family?

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

      Teresa: I am feeling well these days, thanks for asking. Recovery is going well.

      On Hamilton, I agree she says things that sound like SITF. However, I don’t believe it. Reparative therapists need to acknowledge what they tell most clients instead of say what we want to hear from them.

  • Teresa

    Whew, Warren, thanks for setting up the dynamic of what one says vis-a-vis what what one actually does. I confess, I normally tend to believe what one says unless I witness behavior to the contrary … or, hear from people that know, like you, Warren.

    So, here, what’s left for those of us who are minorities within a minority, therapy wise … very little. And, for therapists, also, who value truth and their clients, it must be somewhat of a nightmare.

    Thanks, again, Warren for your wisdom, kindness, care for the truth, and just being overall a ‘voice crying in the wilderness’. It is Advent, after all.

  • Christopher Doyle

    Warren,

    I have stopped writing such articles a couple of years ago, after I had a change of heart and mind regarding the LGBT community. I apologized for my insensitive remarks, a couple of times: http://www.christianpost.com/news/day-of-silence-revisited-73597 and also once in our IHF newsletter in 2011.

    I find it amazing that you can criticize others for making disparaging comments towards the LGBT community, when you yourself have done the same thing in years past. See: http://www.glapn.org/sodomylaws/lawrence/lweditorials084.htm

    You’re well-known for playing “gotcha”…shall we dig up all the articles you have wrote in the past and slam you for them? Judge not, lest you be judged.

    Sincerely,

    Christopher

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

    Christopher: I did not recall the Christian Post article, but I appreciate the sentiment expressed in it. Having said that, it will take more than one article to undo the legacy of IHF.

    I don’t think there is a comparison to my work. I have removed a video from the market and written weekly about my change of views. You can find lots of articles where I thought same-sex attraction was more fluid as a characteristic than I do now. However, even in the article you cited, I do not slander gays or teach that SSA is the product of deficits in upbringing or due to trauma. You still teach these things and you appeared on a program with Julie Hamilton who definitely teaches those things.

    Are you still on the PFOX board? Are you still a NARTH member? Do you still refer people to these groups? Do you still teach that homosexuality is a gender related problem? Cohen coined the term Same Sex Attraction Disorder; do you disavow his teachings about homosexuality?

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  • Christopher Doyle

    Warren,

    I believe in a world where people can disagree, in subtle ways, about complex issues. I also believe in second chances, and sincerely regret having said and wrote several things in the past. I am no longer a board member of PFOX, and have not been involved with them for over a year. I am still involved with NARTH, and believe they are an important organization for therapists who seek to help clients with unwanted same-sex attractions. Do I believe or agree with everything they do or say? No. but I can agree with some aspects of their findings and opinions, while disagreeing with others. This is called tolerance, and you seem to exhibit little for anyone with whom you disagree with.

    You routinely mock and deride my colleagues and use your academic position to belittle others. Your bullying initiative “The Golden Rule” is contrary to your behavior. On the other hand, my bullying prevention campaign is an honest effort to reach out to all students who experience SSA and present a message of love and acceptance, a place for everyone at the table to discuss sexual orientation and value everyone’s experiences. Since changing your views, you have switched from marginalizing the LGBT community to marginalizing those with unwanted SSA. Your views may have changed, but your lack of respect and tolerance of those who you disagree with stays the same. So much treating others the way you want to be treated.

  • ken

    Christopher Doyle says:

    December 8, 2012 at 9:50 am

    “Do I believe or agree with everything they do or say? No. but I can agree with some aspects of their findings and opinions, while disagreeing with others. ”

    Warren asked you some very specific questions about what you do and do not still believe. You never answered them. Do you plan to?

    “This is called tolerance, and you seem to exhibit little for anyone with whom you disagree with. ”

    Warren has been quite tolerant of those with views that disagree with his. I’ve followed this blog for years and seen it 1st hand. That is in part why his views on sexual orientation have changed over the years.

    “You routinely mock and deride my colleagues and use your academic position to belittle others.”

    Your “colleagues” at NARTH deserve to be mocked and derided. However, that isn’t what Warren is doing, he is pointing out their mis-representations and challenging their claims. NARTH has been leading an anti-gay campaign for decades. They have (and continue to do so) made it a policy to distort any science that doesn’t fit with their view of sexual orientation and when confronted about their distortions, the common tactic is to avoid questions and claim they are being persecuted.

  • Teresa

    Christopher Doyle said of Warren:

    Since changing your views, you have switched from marginalizing the LGBT community to marginalizing those with unwanted SSA.

    Mr. Doyle, first, and I’m speaking for myself only, I don’t like the term ‘unwanted SSA’. I prefer the view of harmonizing my faith belief with my same sex attractions. I do realize for some that ‘unwanted SSA’ amply describes what their going through. So be it.

    Primarily, you’re quite wrong in what you’ve said about Warren and marginalizing those with unwanted SSA. Dead Wrong. NARTH, and Nicolosi in particular, is horribly wrong when he tells clients “let me tell you what a principle cause of your SSA is”, and then beats the drum of you had a smothering mother, and an absent father. This is dishonest and unfair to all parties involved.

    Warren, and SITF, is a place of rest and hope for those of us marginalized by NARTH and, in some sense, some LGBT voices.

    Let’s talk about ‘change’ Christopher and the ‘change’ that’s happening at NARTH. And, ‘change’ they are, in some ways, if Pruden is telling the truth; and, I believe he is. ‘Change’, you also have undergone Mr. Doyle; and, so has Warren. Mr. Doyle, if you think NARTH is the last hope for persons struggling with unwanted same sex attractions, you’re simply wrong. Warren proves that, and so do a lot of other Christian therapists.

  • Teresa

    @Christopher Doyle,

    Hello, agan, Mr. Doyle. A few last questions for you, if you choose to respond:

    Do you believe that having same sex attractions is a ‘mental/emotional disorder’? If you believe that just being gay (shorthand for same sex attracted) is an illness, do you, as a therapist, see your job as ‘curing’ the individual from this ‘disorder’?

    I believe NARTH sees gays as mentally ill individuals, are you on-board with that view, since you continue to be a member of that Association?

  • Warren Throckmorton

    Chris – Your ad hominems aside, I hope you will address the matters raised by ken and Teresa. Do you agree with most NARTH leaders that SSA is a mental disorder or the result of something that went wrong during childhood? If you have stopped stigmatizing gays, then why you are a part of an organization that excels at it?

    Furthermore, if you are serious, you must face the legacy of IHF. Beating pillows and cuddling clients as a means of repairing childhood damage cannot be wished away by saying that now you love everyone. You need to be much more clear that reparative therapy has harmed many. I personally know people who have been harmed by IHF. What is your message to them?

    If you are serious, you can’t react like the wounded party when people call you out or are skeptical. Doing so makes it appear that you are unaware of the implications of your prior position.

  • Christopher Doyle

    Warren,

    IHF has helped hundreds of SSA persons pursue their dreams of living heterosexual lives and helped just as many families reconcile with their SSA loved ones and become closer as a family. We have a history of successful programs and protocols that is growing throughout the world and helping even more than ever before. Why would I disavow or apologize for this?

    The use of healthy touch and holding are practices that have strict ethical guidelines by the US Association of Body Psychotherapy, of which we subscribe to, and bio-energetics is a common therapeutic practice for anger release. These techniques are used to help clients access deeper emotions, often underlying the feelings of same-sex attractions. You often misrepresent the purpose for such techniques. If you do not care for the practice, that’s fine, but you’re not the authority on whether they are or are not effective, so please stop casting judgement. This does not help anyone.

    Your assertions of harm are unfounded and anecdotal, at best. You know very well that our methods and techniques are not inherently harmful, nor is there scientific proof that sexual reorientation therapy is harmful, aside from a couple of studies that are derived from convenience samples from activists with pre-conceived goals. As you know, if a biased researcher wants to find a certain conclusion, they will recruit subjects to do just that. No credible, unbiased study with a random sample has proven that this therapy causes harm, and you know what. On the contrary, many studies show that same-sex attraction can and does change on a continuum/kinsey scale (although I do agree there needs to be random samples to confirm much of what the current research shows).

    I do not believe that homosexuality is a mental disorder, nor do I believe that most NARTH members think this, although I have no way of really knowing this, except for the conversations I have had with many colleagues for five years. My overall impression of the NARTH members I know of, is that they have a deep love and desire to help those with SSA. I don’t think you can judge the hearts of 1000 members and proclaim judgement, nor can you judge my or IHF’s motivation. I became involved in this field to help people, and I take my oath as a therapist to “do no harm” very seriously. It offends me that you claim that I and my colleagues at IHF are harming people. We have helped so many persons resolve their unwanted SSA. Our success stories don’t come out publicly due to fear of pressure from activists and shame from their own communities for having these feelings, which is a great tragedy.

    As far as causation of same-sex attraction, no meaningful studies exist (to my knowledge) after the early 1970s, when much of the research ceased to exist on this subject due to homosexuality being removed from the DSM. Before this time, dozens of studies confirmed Freud’s theory that male homosexuality often results from a detached relationship with the father, and about half of the studies performed found a contribution from an over-attached mother. For an excellent review of these studies, see: “The scientific credibility of Freud’s theories and therapy” (Fisher & Greenberg, 1985).

    However, that aside, I believe SSA (in my clients) results mostly from a genetic pre-disposition of a sensitive temperament (which is the only biological factor I can see) and is combined with environmental and familial factors. I don’t believe it’s a result of “poor parenting” or abuse, although studies do confirm that homosexuals (myself included) are more likely to experience sexual abuse in their childhood/adolescence. However, I think there needs to be more research on this because often there is correlation but not always a cause and effect nature in these studies.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Mr. Doyle

    Warren has clearly changed his mind on the basis of the ‘evidence’. I call that being truthful and courageous. It takes great depth of character to leave behind what one might come to believe is ‘wrong thinking’ and venture into ‘new and better pastures’.

    By all means point out what he might have said in the past. But the real point is that those things are ‘in the past’! Some of us are more interested in the present … and the future. :-)

  • Boo

    “We have helped so many persons resolve their unwanted SSA. Our success stories don’t come out publicly due to fear of pressure from activists and shame from their own communities for having these feelings, which is a great tragedy. ”

    Is that like how the fact that we have no evidence of a massive Jewish conspiracy to dominate the world just proves how insidious the conspiracy really is?

  • Warren Throckmorton

    Chris – Do you have any empirical evidence for the effectiveness of bioenergetic as a modality? Do you any evidence to support the central claims about breathing and catharsis?

    Also, are you aware that Fisher and Greenberg updated their book in 1995?

  • Christopher Doyle

    Warren –

    Not for a basis of use with client with unwanted SSA, although there may be some empirical evidence for other populations. However, I’m not sure that a lack of evidence necessarily makes its use ineffective, we must might not be able to say that we know this practice is effective.

    Regarding Fisher and Greenberg, I did not know they updated their book. Looks like a quick search comes up with 1992. Is that correct? If so, does this change any of their fundamental conclusions on the origins of male homosexuality?

    Christopher

  • Warren Throckmorton

    Catharsis has been rejected as effective for quite awhile in psychology. See this article for just one of many empirical studies on the topic: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bbushman/bbs99.pdf.

    Regarding Fisher and Greenberg, the publication date is Dec. 1995 and they do not concur with their earlier position.

    In this post: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2007/11/28/psychoanalytic-theory-and-the-etiology-of-homosexuality-what-does-research-say/ – I review briefly what Fisher and Greenberg had to say. While the note studies which point to father-son problems, they also note that the research is questionable.

    Given the fact that so many gays report average to good relationships with their same sex parents, the universal nature of the reparative therapy has to be questioned. Even in the old research (e.g., Evans, 1965), there were many gays who reported relationships with parents on par with the straights. If therapists at the time were not so biased about homosexuality, what they would have said is, wow, there is not much here.

    More recent evidence fails to find expected relationships between paternal distance and male homosexuality and in one study (Alanko, et al – http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2010/03/25/alankonarth/), fathers of gay sons were rated as being warmer to their sons than the fathers of straight sons.

    Chris – what reparative therapists do is latch on to the exceptions and call them the rule. They do this, in my opinion, because some of them had father issues of their own or because the few clients they have seen have had these issues. When one gets a hammer, all of a sudden everything looks like a nail.

  • Boo

    Chris- You, who are gay (sorry, ex-gay) practice and defend cuddling. Richard Cohen, who is gay (sorry, ex-gay) practices and defends cuddling. Nicolosi, who as far as I know is not gay, as far as I know does not practice cuddling. It seems to me that every time I read of ex-gay programs that involve cuddling or nudity, the practitioners are themselves gay (sorry, ex-gay). Can you see how a cynical person might come to believe that all the cuddling and nudity is just another way for people to get their rocks off?

  • Ann

    Reparative therapists need to acknowledge what they tell most clients instead of say what we want to hear from them.

    Dr. Throckmorton,

    How is it known what a therapist says to their client? Unless we are in the session and understand what is said, and in what context, how can we determine whether they need to acknowledge anything?

  • Ann

    what reparative therapists do is latch on to the exceptions and call them the rule. They do this, in my opinion, because some of them had father issues of their own or because the few clients they have seen have had these issues. When one gets a hammer, all of a sudden everything looks like a nail.

    Dr. Throckmorton,

    Is there a survey or study or factual undated evidence that indicates how many therapists refer to themself as a “reparative therapist” as opposed to just a therapist?

  • Teresa

    Warren said:

    Chris – what reparative therapists do is latch on to the exceptions and call them the rule. They do this, in my opinion, because some of them had father issues of their own or because the few clients they have seen have had these issues. When one gets a hammer, all of a sudden everything looks like a nail.

    Warren, I would add some of those few clients may or may not have had father issues. If you go to a therapist because you’re in some type of emotional pain, one is apt to be in a very vulnerable spot. If your therapist tells you: “I know why you’re gay … and here’s why”; the vulnerable client who may not have had father/mother issues (or just normal ones) will begin to believe that narrative, and manufacture a family history corresponding to the therapist’s belief.

    That delusional story about one’s childhood, brings for a time, some emotional comfort. The client, struggling/hating being gay, now has an answer, or so he/she thinks, and the rest of the story, one can only imagine.

    If NARTH therapists, certainly Nicolosi, does this to gullible, hurting clients; what an awful thing to subject the client and the family to. How many years will it take to undo this emotional abuse in a client/family’s life?

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

    Ann – The number is very small, probably under 200 but I can’t prove that. What I am reporting is what reparative therapists have written and told me and what clients have told me.

  • Ann

    What I am reporting is what reparative therapists have written and told me and what clients have told me.

    Ok, as usual, I am going to apply critical thought by asking this question – “what determines who you choose to believe and then subsequently write in factual knowledge about”?

  • Warren Throckmorton

    Ann – I believe what reparative therapists tell me, what they tell each other and what they say in print. Why would I question what they say about themselves?

  • Ann

    You shouldn’t. I thought from what you wrote that reparative therapists need to acknowledge what they tell most clients instead of saying what we want to hear from them as two different things and was wondering how you discern which one to believe.

    Thanks for your response and so glad to hear your are feeling well.

  • Christopher Doyle

    Warren,

    I’ll need to explore some of this research and your previous article and get back to you.

    Thanks,

    Christopher

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  • Matt

    Might I ask a couple of questions Dr. Warren, Christopher Doyle and others…

    1) There is obviously some contention about whether or not SSA is a disorder or not, but not necessarily a lot of clarification about in what way. To say that SSA is a ‘disorder’ psychologically means one thing; to say that SSA is a ‘disordering’ of the Creation order is another (in a philosophical-theological sense). Even if you don’t see SSA as a psychological or developmental disorder, do you see SSA as a disorder of the created order?

    2) If so (if you do view it as an disorder of the creation order, a ‘fall’ from the original Creational intention for sexuality), why exclude the possibility that there might be a sense in which SSA is a psychological disordering, even if there is currently no consensus or conclusive research recognized by the modern psychological and psychiatric communities?

    What I’m trying to get at is: it a conscious choice on your or others’ part to restrict the definition of ‘disorder’ to how the psychological community would define it (if indeed you would see SSA against the backdrop of a created order that dis-includes homosexuality). I am trained in theology, not in psychology, and want to understand and respect the discipline of psychology – even while knowing that Christian psychologists must live in the tension between their discipline’s framework and a biblical/theological vision of the world.

  • Dave

    Homosexuality /SSA was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1974. So, from the professional medical standpoint .. it is not a disorder.

    As for theology .. medical analysis and theology are two different things. They are not related. The theological term “disorder” is a Catholic term. Catholics would call anything “disordered” that is not according to design. For example .. Using a form of birth control (other than the rhythmn method) is also disordered because it goes against God’s creative design. In other words .. their term has nothing to do with the psychological term. I know of celibate gay Catholics who are not too happy with the term “disordered”.

    As a pastor (not a Catholic one) I don’t see it as disordered in either sense. It just is…like being left handed just is .. or like being heterosexual just is. While scripture does say that we can choose what to do with our desires .. it does not guarantee a change of desire. To claim that it does .. or claim any sort of moral imperative that a particular desire (in the case SSA) can and must be changed is to go outside of what scripture guarantees. These types of attitudes or ideals typically produce a lot of false guilt or shame that is not helpful to people. It is my personal opinion that groups such as these (reparative therapists) and others have built a house of cards based on certain assumptions they are making that are not biblical. I call it the Galileo effect .. re: where people take an assumed (but not true to scripture) idea and try to inform science with it.

    Blessings,

    Dave

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

    What Dave said…

    I will add that disorder in the psychological sense does not describe homosexuality because the simple fact of being attracted to the same sex does not inherently lead to psychological distress or other problems in adapting to occupations or relationships. The one exception of course is the lack of interest in the opposite sex which leads to relatively low reproductive success. One might consider same-sex attraction to put one at a disadvantage if one wants to procreate in the natural way but it does not trigger the psychological definition of disorder.

    Distress about one’s orientation has historically been considered an adjustment type of disorder. I don’t know if it still will be in the DSM-V.

  • Matt

    Thanks, that was helpful re the psychological definition of disorder!

    From a moral or theological standpoint I think, however, it would be legitimate to critique the currently orthodox definition of ‘disorder’ of today’s psychological community. For example, its inherent individualism and staunch anti-telic nature. Not that a critique would aim at changing how public therapists should be doing something differently (given the pluralist world we live in). I think it would be something more like: if there is a telos to human existence, if ‘health’ and human flourishing is something much deeper than the absence of psychological ‘distress’ and the ability to adapt to relationships and occupations, then as helpful as psychology is it is constrained in its present form, it is currently unable (due to its faith-neutral methodology) to describe unhealth or disorder from a broader framework – except of course that of modernity’s vision of individualistic freedom and flourishing. And, possibly, that physicians and therapists are needed who understand that broader framework and help individuals pursue health according to its vision of health. And if inherent within that vision is a system or order, of course anything within it that deviates or falls short is a disorder.

    I guess my qualm (as a philosophically inclined person) is that we shouldn’t *have to say* that since something is normal, common, average, and doesn’t prevent us from having happy relationships and occupations, that it isn’t disordered. That there are some variants given within the structures of Creation, and some variants that are distortions of the structures of Creation. From a theological perspective, I think its completely legitimate to say that homoerotic desire is a disordered desire in that its fulfillment leads directly against God’s plan for sexuality. Just as does the fulfillment of coveting, or wrath, or (fill in the blank)… To say that its simply a varient like any other thing, but then to say it falls outside of God’s boundaries to fulfill that desires, seem to me to be a bit of double-speak.

    Of course, all of this is an (important!) theological clarification worth having. I’m not defending reparative therapy. I’m not for singling out SSA or SS relationships as distinct than any other desire or relationship that isn’t God’s fullest intention for us. I’m certainly not for promoting guilt or shame in those who face SSA in their lives. I just think it can be done without surrendering a coherent Christian vision of human flourishing that would see SSA as not something God intended within his created order (a confessional statement). And I wouldn’t see it as appropriate on the part of psychologists to demand that Christians refrain from using the word ‘disorder’ simply because their own discipline works with a different definition.

    Thanks for your patience as I try and express my thoughts. On a personal note (so you have an idea of where I’m coming from) I grew up Catholic, studied Reformed philosophy in undergrad, and history of theology in grad school. I have close friends and work with many students facing SSA in their lives, as do I. So I ask these questions in sincerity, from both a personal and vocational perspective. Thanks, and I’ve love to hear your response.

  • Teresa

    Matt, what you’ve described is exactly what the Catholic Church teaches in the Catechism of the Catholic Church … actually, using the ‘theological’ description of same sex attractions as ‘objectively disordered’.

    The point is Matt, licensed therapists have an obligation to ascribe to the DSM. If religious counselors, clinicians, spiritual directors are going to ‘therapize’ clients; then they’re obliged to state upfront that they are not licensed therapists following the DSM. This is perfectly OK to me.

    These folks can’t have it both ways. They can’t claim to be in the secular licensed world; and, yet, mix and match when and how they want with their religious beliefs; and, then claim they’re victims.

    NARTH is a religious organization. They have a belief that homosexuality is not God’s design. I’d be happy if they simply stated that; and, then went about their business in an honest way. They need to stop the appearance and camouflage of being a scientific organization.

    They simply should state we’re not abiding by the DSM. We (NARTH) offer help to men and women with SSA that want to live chaste lives. If a client manages to develop OSA, and then marry … good for the client.

    NARTH needs to follow the path that Exodus and the Mormons are now on.

  • Dave

    @Matt ..I don’t think you get it .. Psychology is not theology. But since you want it to be faith based .. which faith tradition should it follow .. Muslim?? .. Mormon?? .. Affirming Christian?? ..Non-affirming Christian?? Not so easy is it? I assume here that you assume that your particular Christian view is the only view .. but it is not . Take a different example .. Medical breakthroughs open the door to a lot of Christian ethical questions ..such as .. end of life decisions ….. and/or .. choosing whether to save the life of a mother or the chld in her womb in certain critical medical situations ..and/or .. stem cell research ethical questions .. and so forth. Granted the medical field has some ethics to it .. But those ethics also include the patient’s choices based on the patient’s moral / value ethical (faith) values. The medical field cannot answer those equestions which are solely personal or faith based. It can only provide a framework. A similar analogy can be applied to psychological issues.

    @ Teresea .. Sorry but though Exodus has shuffled around a bit .. I don’t think Exodus is on a good path.. they have not apologized to people like Wendy Gritter has .. they still have a moral imperative on how you should identify .. and they still have orientation change ministries under their umbrella .. My conscience is not clear on them so I could not, in good conscience, refer anyone to them.

    Peace and God bless,

    Dave

  • Matt

    Thanks Dave – I hear where you’re coming from. The practice of therapy in a pluralist community can’t and shouldn’t be restrained to any one given expression of faith. Its best that therapy be religiously neutral and allow for clients to self-determine. I get that. And it would be wrong for any one given expression of faith (or worldview, or religious perspective. etc.) to demand that psychology be practiced from its particular perspective. Agreed.

    However, I also would think this applies equally to the reverse scenario. I don’t believe the psychological community can/should expect religious communities with their own understanding of human nature to play by the rules of the DSM when asking, for example, what is disordered in our experience as humans. As a psychologist I might say that according to the DSM homosexuality is not a psychological disorder. However, particular religious communities are using a different set of rule and may in fact “legitimately” see homosexuality as disordered from their perspetive – not because of a growing body of APA-approved research but because of a theological vision of human nature (which, if true, might someday correspond with APA-approved literature but also might not… for various reasons).

    So as a psychologist I might say that in therapy and public address I will not approach homosexuality as a disorder. But I might also acknowledge that I have no professional authority to tell a religious community that they may never use or apply the word ‘disorder’ to homosexuality (according to their meaning). That would exceed the scope of my discipline. That would be expecting them to play by my rules. (Of course, give my perspective I may never refer any clients to them but that’s another thing entirely).

    I don’t want to argue that psychology and theology are entirely separate spheres, as if they aren’t trying to describe the same phenomenon: us. They do overlap – in important ways. And its probably true that “reparative therapists” have violated the methodological boundaries of their discipline… at times by religiously drive reasons. And that SSA in and of itself might present no symptoms of a psychological disorder. And that SIT really is a fantastic model that would allow a space for religiously oriented clients to pursue their goals and accept the reality of SSA in their lives (I’m totally on board with that one!)

    However, what your final comments sounded to me like, Dave, was that you are expecting Exodus (clearly a theologically confessing and oriented organization) to play by the rules of the psychological community, to no longer consider SSA as ‘objectively disordered’, and in fact to see such a statement an inherently damaging and therefore worthy of public apology (a la Wendy Gritter). That may be your own personal evaluation of Exodus’s approach, which is totally fine. But I am wary that a bit too often we cross the line, expecting religiously oriented communities or organizations to play by the rules of the DSM and to speak and minister accordingly.

    @Theresa, your comments on NARTH were helpful. I didn’t realize that part of the issue was their refusal to acknowledge that they aren’t actually following the DSM.

  • Dave

    @ Matt .. I am expecting Exodus to act like Christians .. so there is no crossing of the line here. If you mislead people and promise what you cannot deliver .. and cause hurt in the process then you need to repent. That’s biblical. If you shame people by claiming that their inability to change (and by change I am talking feelings / attractions) is due to a lack of faith or lack of honesty then you need to repent. A point you may be missing here is that most of the change language is used politically.. re: gay people can change therefore there is no need for gay rights and so forth. Even Exodus’s current language will lend itself to that .. You are not allowed to identify as gay in Exodus .. Therefore .. they can still say and do say that people can come out of homosexuality. This can be used politically (claiming to have come out of homosexuality .. claiming to be a former homosexualy and so forth) . Deception is *not* a Christian quality. While we are on the topic of deception you might check out this group.. the American College of Pediatricians that pretends to be the American Academy of Pediatrics ..see post http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2011/08/08/bartonacpeds/

    Like Teresa outlines with NARTH .. there are plenty of groups putting out deceptive information pretending to be in line with mainstream mental health organizations. Again .. deception is *not* a Christian trait. The church/ Christianity can certainly put out beliefs concerning actions .. re: what is moral and what is not .. but I do not believe they/we are qualified to put out absolute statements about something that scripture does not guarantee. To use a different example .. do you think a church or denomination is qualified to tell a parishioner to go off their anti-depressant medications? I suspect your answer would be ‘No’. So why should they distort science here or assume to have scientific authority on something they have no authority on?

    The church and para-church organizations (Exodus , Narth, et all) could embrace the most recent (unbiased) research regarding homosexuality while maintaining her moral stance. There is nothing in psychology that prevents her from doing so. Unfortunately the more typical response is the deceptions we have been talking about and the unbiblical guarantees along with false claims about the faithfulness of gay couples .. gay parenting and so forth.. I know many gay folks who are indeed celibate per their Christian beliefs. But they often do not find church to be very welcoming .. Not only do they fall into the lack of support that singles often find in churches .. they also often find themselves under the extra burden of being misunderstood and of being told they must change their orientation. They also end up being stereotyped and not regarded as unique individuals. The false ideology put out by NARTH, the ACP and Exodus .. does not help their situation. (I am assuming a conservative view here but I would also add that not all churches believe the same thing regarding the morality of same sex relationships and marriage.)

    In short .. the church (IMHO) has made a mess of this situation using deception and slander to fight a political culture war while ignoring her mission to actually pastorally care for people. And I am coming to the place in my own musings of concluding that even if the church is silent on these issues of deception .. that silence is not neutral .. It is going to take major action on the part of church denominations to undo the damage that has already been done (ie. speaking .. not being silent). If we had stayed in our field of influence in following the great commission of Christ and demonstrated holiness and Christlikeness we wouldn’t (IMO) be in the mess we are now.

    Blessings,

    Dave

  • Dave

    @ Matt .. I am expecting Exodus to act like Christians .. so there is no crossing of the line here. If you mislead people and promise what you cannot deliver .. and cause hurt in the process then you need to repent. That’s biblical. If you shame people by claiming that their inability to change (and by change I am talking feelings / attractions) is due to a lack of faith or lack of honesty then you need to repent. A point you may be missing here is that most of the change language is used politically.. re: gay people can change therefore there is no need for gay rights and so forth. Even Exodus’s current language will lend itself to that .. You are not allowed to identify as gay in Exodus .. Therefore .. they can still say and do say that people can come out of homosexuality. This can be used politically (claiming to have come out of homosexuality .. claiming to be a former homosexualy and so forth) . Deception is *not* a Christian quality. While we are on the topic of deception you might check out this group.. the American College of Pediatricians that pretends to be the American Academy of Pediatrics .. Look up AmericanColloeg of Pediatricians on this blog to see more on this.

    Like Teresa outlines with NARTH .. there are plenty of groups putting out deceptive information pretending to be in line with mainstream mental health organizations. Again .. deception is *not* a Christian trait. The church/ Christianity can certainly put out beliefs concerning actions .. re: what is moral and what is not .. but I do not believe they/we are qualified to put out absolute statements about something that scripture does not guarantee. To use a different example .. do you think a church or denomination is qualified to tell a parishioner to go off their anti-depressant medications? I suspect your answer would be ‘No’. So why should they distort science here or assume to have scientific authority on something they have no authority on?

    The church and para-church organizations (Exodus , Narth, et all) could embrace the most recent (unbiased) research regarding homosexuality while maintaining her moral stance. There is nothing in psychology that prevents her from doing so. Unfortunately the more typical response is the deceptions we have been talking about and the unbiblical guarantees along with false claims about the faithfulness of gay couples .. gay parenting and so forth.. I know many gay folks who are indeed celibate per their Christian beliefs. But they often do not find church to be very welcoming .. Not only do they fall into the lack of support that singles often find in churches .. they also often find themselves under the extra burden of being misunderstood and of being told they must change their orientation. They also end up being stereotyped and not regarded as unique individuals. The false ideology put out by NARTH, the ACP and Exodus .. does not help their situation. (I am assuming a conservative view here but I would also add that not all churches believe the same thing regarding the morality of same sex relationships and marriage.)

    In short .. the church (IMHO) has made a mess of this situation using deception and slander to fight a political culture war while ignoring her mission to actually pastorally care for people. And I am coming to the place in my own musings of concluding that even if the church is silent on these issues of deception .. that silence is not neutral .. It is going to take major action on the part of church denominations to undo the damage that has already been done (ie. speaking .. not being silent). If we had stayed in our field of influence in following the great commission of Christ and demonstrated holiness and Christlikeness we wouldn’t (IMO) be in the mess we are now.

    Blessings,

    Dave

  • ken

    Matt says:

    December 22, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    “From a theological perspective, I think its completely legitimate to say that homoerotic desire is a disordered desire in that its fulfillment leads directly against God’s plan for sexuality.”

    and you don’t think it arrogant to proclaim you “know god’s plan” so well as to be able to proclaim homosexuality as being disordered. Since you know “god’s plan” so well, perhaps you can explain how the recent tragedy in Newtown fits into “his plan”?

  • Teresa

    Ken replied to Matt:

    and you don’t think it arrogant to proclaim you “know god’s plan” so well as to be able to proclaim homosexuality as being disordered.

    Ken, you do realize that there are any number of us persons with same sex attraction that quite agree with Matt, right? This will continue to be an unbridgeable divide as long as man lives on this planet; regardless, of what Wendy Gritter (whom I admire immensely) or Justin Lee (another favorite of mine) contend.

    That being said, I don’t think Matt was being unkind in his comments. Nor, do I think what Matt said was in any way “arrogant”. Matt can certainly speak for himself; but, I find it somewhat confusing that a sizeable number of persons with same sex attraction continue to be threatened by those of us that choose a celibate life … and, I suspect those of us with SSA choosing a chaste life are not an insignificant number, btw.

    Exactly, Ken, how is our choice of life threatening to your choice?

  • ken

    Teresa says:

    December 23, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    “you do realize that there are any number of us persons with same sex attraction that quite agree with Matt, right?”

    You believe you have the authority to speak for god? You know his “plans” that well?

    “how is our choice of life threatening to your choice?”

    I am not threatened by your choice, and I believe you should be free to live your life however you choose as long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others.

  • Matt

    Hi Ken,

    Sorry you feel angered by my comments. I don’t mean to pretend like I have some kind of “in” on God’s will, or that I know more than anyone else. I do agree, though, with what much of the historical church has come to think in light of the Scriptures and from thinking about nature… and about how we’re now called to live in this pretty messed up, broken world. (I’m thinking specifically of evil events such as in Newtown, but also so many of the other ‘after-effects’ of the Fall, including how it seems that human sexuality can get pretty out of wack).

    So no, I don’t pretend to totally understand the mystery of evil, or God’s will, or how God designed sexuality and how we’re supposed to live in it now. But I do my best with the little knowledge I (think I) have. I think that’s all we can do… know that we’re living life, which is a mystery, and to try and seek God and trust him as best we can with the fragments of knowledge we have.

    Blessings!

    Matt

  • Matt

    Dave,

    Thanks so much for your response! It was very thoughtful and helpful, particularly your point about the political nature of maintaining a stance of needing to ‘convert’ or change orientation. And the expectation the Christian organizations would speak truthfully about who they are, what they do, and what they can and can’t promise. I totally agree.

    One thought I have is how much Fear must be a powerful force behind all of this… systemic, long-standing, culturally ingrained fear. I think the fear of the loss of certainty, of being right, of being in control or having authority, and the fear of the world not being understandably ordered like we thought, really does drive us – as individuals, churches and a culture. It is sad – and I admit I’m just as driven by fear at times than the next person! I’m afraid to admit how much of a fundamentalist I would be were it not for having to reckon the difficult realities of life, including SSA. Dealing with SSA has in some ways saved me from a very black and white, neat and tidy theology, and made me reckon with mystery of God, his revelation, and messiness of life.

    Your right – Christians can and should reckon with the latest research in psychology and still remain faithful to the mystery of the Gospel. Where the work of the Holy Spirit is really needed, I believe, is to help people (me, us, church leaders, etc.) discern between what is truly revealed in the mystery of the Gospel and what we’ve come to think needs to be true in order for the Gospel to “work” – all the things we use to prop up the Gospel to try and prove its effectiveness to our culture (eg. baptized reparative therapy).

    Thanks again Dave & Theresa for all your helpful thoughts!

  • Richard Willmer

    People should be free to hold their opinions, as long as they don’t harm others in the process. The problem that many see with ‘reparative therapy’ is that it is harmful: it can lead to self-denial; it can raise unrealistic expectations; it’s ‘methods’ can be highly dubious. And here is my worry with the use of the term ‘disordered’ – if something is deemed to be ‘disordered’, then the implication is that ‘reparative therapy’ might then be ‘appropriate’. I think a different dialectic is required when talking of ‘observed variations’ in human sexuality – a dialectic that is not so ‘loaded’.

    Of course, if people believe it is not right for them, despite their own preferences, to engage in same-sex relations, their choice should be respected.

  • Jeremy

    I was originally asked to be on the Dr. Oz show. I declined due to family pressure, but also because I could not agree to the line that SSA is only a disorder for some.

    “it is clear that they see all homosexual attraction as stemming from dysfunction of one kind or another.”

    I don’t see how this can be denied. I think this is where Warren’s bias is clear. He believe SSA is normal and natural. I realize that the pro-gay side wants to believe this, but people in Exodus and Courage should wake up and see this blog for what it is – PRO-gay propaganda.

    Homosexuality is undeniably a disorder. It is not chosen and the root cause are disputed – and may always be. It may not be completely curable, but neither is Epilepsy. No responsible person would tell an Epileptic to stop taking their medication simply because it isn’t a complete “cure.” Likewise, no loving person would tell someone to NOT seeking healing of their SSA – and/or to embrace a “gay” identity or pursue gay “relationships” simply because they hadn’t found a complete cure.


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