Gay City News prints letter clarifying sexual identity therapy

Part of the chorus of dissent bringing down the recent APA symposium was an April 24 article in the Gay City News, called “Junk Science on Stage.” In that article, some false claims were made about sexual identity therapy and my work. I addessed themhere on the blog recently.
Generally, “junk science” is a phrase used by advocates when they want to discredit views with which they disagree. The tobacco industry used the term to describe the research on second hand smoke and generally the term is little more than an ad hominem attack. Such was the case in the GCN report.
So I am glad that Paul Schindler, editor of GCN and author of the article in question, allowed me to make the record clear about the SIT framework. At the end of the letter, he acknowledges the error.

UNDERSTANDING SEXUAL IDENTITY THERAPY
05/22/2008
To the Editor:
In “Junk Science on Stage” (by Paul Schindler, Apr. 24-30), a claim was made about the Sexual Identity Therapy framework. The SIT framework was to be presented at the cancelled May 5 American Psychiatric Association symposium on religion, therapy, and homosexuality.
Gay City News described SIT this way: “‘Sexual Identity Therapy,’ which [Throckmorton] says he has successfully applied to help patients ‘alter homosexual feelings or behaviors’ and live their lives ‘heterosexually’ with ‘only very few weak instances of homosexual attraction.'”
This is false. The article attributes to me claims about SIT I have never made. In fact, the SIT framework says this: “Prior to outlining the recommendations, let us define what they are not. They are not sexual reorientation therapy protocols in disguise.”
The SIT framework, first contemplated formally in 2005, does not provide any means to do what the Gay City article references – “alter homosexual feelings…” etc. These quotes are taken out of context from a 1999 speech. Putting these phrases in quotes makes it appear that I was interviewed for the article and quoted in reference to SIT, which is not true.
Endorsed by Robert Spitzer, the former editor of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and former American Psychological Association president Nicholas Cummings, the SIT framework provides guidance for therapists who work with clients experiencing sexual identity conflicts but does not prescribe beliefs about homosexuality or religion. The SIT framework specifically discourages several practices conducted by reparative therapists and so it is disappointing that the Gay City News wrongly suggested that my presentation would somehow support their work.
Warren Throckmorton, PhD
www.sexualidentity.blogspot.com
EDITOR’S NOTE: Paul Schindler acknowledges Dr. Warren Throckmorton’s advisory that he made the statements about the results of his therapeutic work, quoted in Schindler’s article, prior to the development of his Sexual Identity Therapy framework.

Note my statement about reparative therapy. You cannot be in compliance with the SIT framework and tell clients that you (the therapist) know why people are homosexual. Explaining a theory and helping clients find themselves in it is not the way we believe this work should be done. We likewise do not promote a view of same-sex attraction that views it as a disorder to be cured or grow out of. The GCN article created a false picture of what the symposium would discuss and falsely attacked me for trying to promote views I do not hold.

282 thoughts on “Gay City News prints letter clarifying sexual identity therapy”

  1. Evan,
    Not to be too intrusive, but it would be incredibly easy to create an email address with which to converse with Michael – one that you could get rid of immediately after your conversation – all without ever divulging any of your private information – FYI 🙂

  2. Michael: You have suggested several times over the course of our mutual blogging here that we start conversing offline. I’ve declined politely each time. I intend to be polite again but I guess I can’t escape telling you the balance of my reasoning…I am very protective of my email address and am extremely careful about who I share it with. On one level, I trust you but on others, I don’t. We have that one issue where I used the word ‘provocative’ in one sense and you continued to quote it without giving its original context even after I asked you not to and explained my reasoning. I shudder to think what you could do with an offhand comment I might make.
    Already, on the blog, I feel the pressure of having to word and say everything ‘just so’. I accept that as part of the burden of blogging. But, I’m simply not ready to open myself up to exchanging so-called ‘friendly’ emails…knowing full well that these topics are the only thing we have in common…and then essentially having to monitor my phrasings so as not to provide a sound bite.
    Beyond that, you can be a bit relentless. When something has your full attention, you seem to feel that everyone else should think and feel as you do…and you hammer. I have visions of logging in to my email and seeing a dozen or more messages. “Well, what do you think? Is that what you believe? So and so said thus and such, what’s your response?”
    LOL! I know! I can be relentless too! And there are people who wouldn’t care for me to have their personal email address. I understand that. I hope you do too. (Our mutual friend, Robbi, has been after me for several years to make a trip out to California. I told her that when I do finally make it, I’d like to rendezvous with you if at all possible. At the moment, it’s the best I can offer.)
    (Thanks, Ann, for your kind comments. Only time will tell. I’m delaying buying a new pc because 1) I want to avoid Windows Vista 2) I want to re-priortize my computer use. LOL. If I bought a new pc tomorrow, I’m sure I’d be back to blogging by Sunday. Not over the blog addiction yet.)
    Time to head out. I’ve been invited to sing karaoke at the birthday of a lesbian friend of mine…I thought they said it was her wedding so I was practicing ‘non gender specific’ love songs all week…now I find out it’s a milestone birthday so I need to tweak the mix a bit.

  3. Eddy: Still don’t get why you couldn’t shoot me a friendly email — on occasion. Maybe we could calm some of the contentious rhetoric.. Oh, well. About me always blaming the church for the pressures gays feel, I do not blame only the church or even mainly the church — but their influence has been huge. I know you don’t have to believe in God to be a homophobe.

  4. Eddy,
    I hope your “occassional” posts will come often – please don’t stay away too long.

  5. Michael–
    Please understand that I need to decline your offer of the off blog one-to-one. I began seriously re-evaluating my time spent blogging and/or focussed on these issues several months ago…I got some serious help cutting back even further when my personal hard drive died. Cutting back appears to be the right direction for me. Even here on Warren’s blog, I’ve refrained from jumping in on new topics and am only sticking around to respond to topics I was once a part of.
    I’m not saying I’m thoroughly done but, at the least, I’ve shifted from ‘regular’ to ‘occasional’…and I suspect I’ll continue to visit with a comment now and again. Or Warren will come up with some provocative topic that I just can’t resist…..
    BTW: The way you phrased your statement where you employed the 1-2-3-4, it wouldn’t have needed the disclaimers. I’ll say it one more time: it’s opinions that are stated as facts that usually get a rise out of me. An opinion can be extreme and outlandish for all I care….as long as it isn’t presented as an established fact.(Your statements weren’t extreme, outlandish or presented as fact.)
    I’m an equal-opportunity confronter, BTW. I confront people on ‘my side’ who make outlandish claims such as: it’s a demon, homosexuals are abominations, homosexuals are child molestors, homosexuality is the worst sin. Even if they say something I happen to agree with, I challenge if it’s presented as fact when I haven’t yet heard of any research or proof. (I do not agree with any of the ‘outlandish claims’ above. I do tend to believe that there is a ‘gay political agenda’ that is in direct conflict with the church at large. But it’s an opinion. We can’t yet make any solid conclusion. So I’d challenge a person who tried to say, without question, that there was a ‘gay agenda’. More than once I’ve had to say “Oh, I agree with you but I just didn’t know that that’s been proven yet. When did our opinion reach ‘fact status’?”
    Well, my library allotted time for the computer is all gone for today. Peace, all. Will likely check in again by the end of the week.

  6. Eddy: Before Warren puts this thread (mercifully) to rest, I would like to invite you to dialog one-on-one, off the blogs, to see if we might establish some common ground. Give it some thought: [email protected]

  7. I’ve been feeling that in the three threads in which I’ve been posting – LOL – and you know, I’d have to agree with him.
    Well, certainly my one liners and smiley faces would have nothing to do with his decision that nothing more of substance is being contributed and therefore the thread has run it’s course 🙂

  8. I’ve been feeling that in the three threads in which I’ve been posting – LOL – and you know, I’d have to agree with him.

  9. Just have to add that to the list of things I need to work on this year
    Jayhuck,
    Bet my list is longer than your’s 🙂
    I feel ANY moment Dr. Throckmorton is going to come in and say that this thread has run it’s course and if no one has anything substantial to say, he is going to close it down 🙂

  10. Oh Ann – if anyone should be faulted for getting off topic, its me. 🙂 Just have to add that to the list of things I need to work on this year 🙂

  11. Michael,
    You are an exceptional man to offer this – thank you. I must say that it was other people, and not you, that I was referring to so as far as I am concerned, no apology is needed. Even in our most spirited posts, I know if is ok to reason things which has enabled me to learn and understand many things.
    Dr. Throckmorton,
    Please note I tried to stay on topic and it was Michael who took me off it 🙂

  12. Evan,
    My point wasn’t to say that there haven’t been incidences of non-religious folks outlawing or discriminating against gay people, but rather to show how strong the religious component is now and has been throughout history in shaping anti-gay attitudes.

  13. Ann: I apologize for the times I may have lumped you together or assumed that I knew your motives. I offer the same apology to Eddy and any other person I may have treated in this way — and no, I will not (1-2-3-4) that. I mean the “sorry” sincerely.

  14. I don’t know if I have a precise definition – but it certainly would include those Christians who think the Bible is the inerrant word of God.

    Patrick,
    Thanks – the reason I asked was because it seems I have heard so many different definitions and descriptions within just the past year from various people. I said something recently to a friend about an American Idol contestant who is Mormon – my friend replied, “well, you know Mormons are not Christian”. It seemd very important to her to get that point across to me, without acknowledging the compliment I made about the individual – I thought that was odd and self serving. Anyway, IMHO, I think it is a real contradiction for someone to say they are a Christian (in the most basic way) and then turn against others based on personal prejudices. Jesus didn’t do that.
    Back to what this thread is about 🙂 I am glad the clarification could be made and that the error was acknowledged.

  15. Jayhuck,

    There’s always more to the story of course

    Definitely more. I could go on and say that when Hitler was a boy he attended a school where he was in the same classroom with future philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, who was Jewish, rich, very intelligent, aloof and a bit of a ‘sissy’. There are a few books that speculated and put forward a few proofs that this first encounter with a boy who was more succesful than him left an indelible mark on little Hitler’s mind. They say his hatred towards Jewish people stemmed from the fact that he came from a poor family, he demonstrated a tendency to impose himself and act as a leader in the classroom groups but felt a Jewish boy like Wittgenstein stood in his way.
    The link between Nazism and Catholicism is far-fetched. Any political regime that takes over an old regime brings a combination of change and conservation of older values. Nazism was an immanent business, that eclectically borrowed anything convenient from pagan and modern beliefs to further its violent ‘mastery’ agenda. But to extrapolate from that that the roots of anti-gay policies during Nazism were to be found in Catholicism is, again, far-fetched. There are some accounts that many Nazi officers were gay and that was no problem to the regime as long as they kept it away from the public (it was probably convenient to have reasons to eliminate them if they rebelled against the regime). But the official policy was a different issue and it was not because Nazis believed gays should change or end up in hell. The scapegoat complex has always been activated by violent regimes in times of crisis.
    How would you explain that an atheistic and materialistic regime like Communism, that aspired to destroy religious beliefs and replace them with belief in science and party ideology, also criminalised same-sex behaviour?

  16. Can you cite any stattistics or studies to back up what you are saying about unwed mothers, homeless people, tourette’s and gays? Just kidding. Wanted to beat the others to the punch.

    Funny 🙂
    I remember what wasn’t funny though and how much it hurt – when other people on this blog questioned the validity of my volunteer work (wanting locations, statistics, etc. – like I could give this out), the validity of my friends who have taken another path, calling me anti-gay, personal attacks with sarcastic remarks, commenting that I align myself with all things “ex-gay” (whatever THAT means) and other assumptions about me that couldn’t even come close to describing who I am. I do understand how important statistics and studies are to some, however, almost everything that I say has and will come from my own extensive involvement, interest and personal experiences. I am saying all this perhaps to also add my own disclaimer. Asking for clarification is very different from making assumptions.
    Words can hurt and can lead to actions that hurt – no one is excluded from this.

  17. Ann: Can you cite any stattistics or studies to back up what you are saying about unwed mothers, homeless people, tourette’s and gays? Just kidding. Wanted to beat the others to the punch.
    This is really what I was trying to convey — that people have been hurt — often by the very people or instutions that claim to care (1-2-3-4).
    Be that as it may, you express the spirit and intent of the Golden Rule very well when you ask: ““If that was someone you loved and wanted to contine or come back to having a relationship with the God you say you love and trust, would you want him/her treated like this?”

  18. sorry – this should say “met” not “meant”
    and that is meant with either indifference or ostracizing or an environment of passive/aggressive hostility,

  19. Now I can just end each comment iwth “1-2-3-4?. So here goes: I believe that negative religous pressures impact nearly every gay person and I also believe that such pressures are a contributing factor in gay depression, suicide and violence directed at gay people. — “1-2-3-4?

    Michael,
    So many people go to the church or other religious affiliations for fellowship and a sense of belonging and because it is the way they were brought up so it has become a way of life. When they are perceived or openly share a part of their life that is outside of what their particular church finds acceptable, and that is meant with either indifference or ostracizing or an environment of passive/aggressive hostility, I can absolutely see how a person would become depressed because due to injurous words or actions afflicted upon them. I have seen this with un-wed pregnant women, the young teenager who had tourettes syndrome and was asked to sit in the balcony instead of downstairs, the homeless man asked to sit out in the lobby area instead of with the congregation, and the person who has shared his/her either struggle or contentment with a same gender attraction or relationship. I have said before – “if that was someone you loved and wanted to contine or come back to having a relationship with the God you say you love and trust, would you want him/her treated like this?” The following silence is always the answer.
    I really believe more people have been loved and accepted and helped by their religious affiliation with a church than have been hurt, however, it is those that are hurting or have been hurt that we must pay attention to – Jesus did, so must we.

  20. To spare us all the hassle next time around, here is a handy list of disclaimers that I would like for all of you to keep in mind when I post somehing:
    (1) It is only my opinion.
    (2) It is based on my own personal experience based on conversations with hundreds of gay folks over the course of my lifetime, not hard science.
    (3) There are certainly exceptions to everything I state.
    (4) I may be wrong.
    Now I can just end each comment iwth “1-2-3-4”. So here goes: I believe that negative religous pressures impact nearly every gay person and I also believe that such pressures are a contributing factor in gay depression, suicide and violence directed at gay people. — “1-2-3-4”

  21. You are absolutely right Patrick – while Evan has good examples of less-than-religious anti-gay sentiments, Much of the present political, and otherwise, anti-gay rhetoric in this and other countries has been coming primarily from conservative religious groups
    And to separate Nazism from religion would be a mistake – from Wikipedia:
    “Christianity represented one of the pillars of Nazism; particularly its antisemitism was heavily inspired by the Christian ideology.[11][12][13][14][15][44] Hitler extended his rationalizations into a religious doctrine, underpinned by his criticism of traditional Catholicism. In particular, and closely related to Positive Christianity, Hitler objected to Catholicism’s ungrounded and international character — that is, it did not pertain to an exclusive race and national culture. At the same time, and somewhat contradictorily, the Nazis combined elements of Germany’s Lutheran community tradition with Ariosophy, an occult-mystical doctrine mainly inspired by Biblical and Christian mythologies. Elements of militarism found their way into Hitler’s own theology; he preached that his was a “true” or “master” religion, because it would “create mastery” and avoid comforting lies. Those who preached love and tolerance, “in contravention to the facts”, were said to be “slave” or “false” religions. The man who recognized these “truths”, Hitler continued, was said to be a “natural leader”, and those who denied it were said to be “natural slaves”. “Slaves” — especially intelligent ones, he claimed — were always attempting to hinder their masters by promoting false religious and political doctrines.”
    There’s always more to the story of course 🙂

  22. But Evan lets not forget how glbt persons are treated in Islamic countries – certainly as bad as under the Nazi’s or communists.
    I don’t think we can really let religion off the hook here.
    I don’t know if we can parse out how much antigay feelings are due to religious belief and how much due to other sources.
    Certainly when you look at the political climate in the US – almost exclusively the groups fighting against gay rights (and often outright slandering glbt persons) are groups headed by, and followed by conservative Christians. Same for exgay groups. And I am willing to bet that the overwhelming majority of members of Narth are conservative Christians.

  23. Patrick,
    We have a more extreme and not-so-distant historical example of official gay hatred that was not caused by religious teachings: Nazism. Another clearer example is former Communist regimes, which criminalised homosexuality: people went to prison if they were caught engaging in same-sex behaviour or if they admitted having had same-sex acts. At the same time, Communist regimes, which were ideologically atheist, tried to undermine religious practices and beliefs by specific propaganda that told people to believe only in materialistic ideas, backed up by science and sanctioned by party ideology.
    Again, I’m not denying that some of the hatred might be caused by religious beliefs, but I think this argument does not cover most cases in time and space. That’s why I argued for other causes that are more general to human nature and can be found in any given historical period and geographic area.

  24. I don’t know if I have a precise definition – but it certainly would include those Christians who think the Bible is the inerrant word of God.
    The wiki on conservative Christian encapsulates pretty much what I am referring to.
    How does it compare ? – hmm I am not really sure what you are asking. I don’t think the conservative/liberal divide applies to all other religions/beliefs. I think you would be hard pressed to make this distinction for pagans or secular humanists. I imagine you could make this distinction with respect to other religions like Judaism.

  25. It might be that the majority of conservative Christians are not homophobic – but that most of the homophobic/homonegative people are in fact conservative Christians.

    Patrick,
    Can you please describe what your definition of a conservative Christian is and how it would compare to other people with other religions and beliefs?

  26. Evan:
    I don’t know what exactly the connection between homophobia/homonegativitiy and religious (in particular conservative Christianity) is. I was only reporting this one study (although there are other studies that have reached the same conclusion).
    Perhaps some people that have negative opinions about homosexuals are drawn to Christianity because they feel it supports their viewpoint. Perhaps people that are drawn to conservative Christianity are not the most independent thinkers and are more suggestible to indoctrination (in this case homonegativity could be impressed upon them via sermons etc).
    And it is worth mentioning that these studies are really not about what Eddy was referring to. It might be that the majority of conservative Christians are not homophobic – but that most of the homophobic/homonegative people are in fact conservative Christians.

  27. Consider that, up til Ann attended Jeffrey’s vigil, she was regularly getting lumped in with Mary and I by bloggers here. It wasn’t a sudden change of heart that caused Ann to attend; she displayed the same heart she’s been displaying all along. It just took that occasion for some of you to see it.

    Eddy,
    Thank you Eddy – this observation and comment means a lot to me.

  28. Michael,
    The church, synagogue, mosque, etc. have, as long as I can remember, put pressure on those who are unwed mothers, those engaging in same gender sex, infidelity, pre-marital sex, pornography, and addictive substances. I think where the problem comes in is how and to what degree the church leaders and congregation want to either exclude these people (which would probably be at least half of their congregation if the truth be told) or how, they as a church, representing the body of Christ, choose to reach out and respond in love and fellowship as Jesus did. If they follow their personal rules (which most of the time have nothing to do with what Jesus taught and asked that we follow) instead of following Jesus, then the same civil unrest will continue. How often I have seen the glazed look come over someone’s face when they came looking for help or friendship and were only admonished or preached to instead. Words that had no meaning to them and drove them away. Only PEOPLE will change what needs to be changed in the church to align it with Christ’s teachings – only those that look beyond and transcend all the things that have caused the unrest and exclusion and reach out and do what Jesus taught rather than what the church teaches – THEN peace like the kind Jesus left us – “peace I give you, not as the world gives” will override all this other “stuff” and allow everyone to realize they can have the same gifts of faith and hope and redemption because someone acted toward them in a way that Jesus would. By the way, this goes for people of all religions – meet them and interact with them as Jesus did and they will respond – you or they don’t need to be identified with religious labels to do the right thing towards each other. I feel the tide turning – through natural attrition the old and outdated ways of responding to individuals with church rules instead of human relationships is being replaced with people who are following the true teachings of Jesus – IMHO, that is VERY cool.

  29. I forgot to state what I think it could be a principle in this case: No one group or representative of a group can reject a targeted category of people on grounds of personal dislike. A higher reason, of symbolic value, will always be used to keep all the members of the group in a cohesive state of attitudes, opinions and actions.

    I know, this could be turning into a chicken and egg problem.

  30. Michael,
    Perhaps you need to be open to listening to the personal testimony of those who have extremely negative experience while trying to live a gay life and the feelings of non acceptance of ones faith by those who have decided for whatever reason that religion is the route of all problems in the world and if we just get rid of it all will be right with the world, when in fact we have many examples of where a lack of faith in a culture has meant nothing but hardship for large groups of people who do not see things as the ruling authoritative powers do. I would ask you to ask yourself how gay people fair in these kinds of societies.

  31. Michael,
    If we don’t understand exactly how it works, there is a small chance of addressing the problem correctly, in all its complexity. I have no pre-defined conclusion. I raised some questions, I invited people to support and explain their point of view in detail, so we can understand how exactly do negative emotions work to produce homophobia, whether they could be simply caused by religious teachings or just justified by them, or some other combination. I don’t know empirically which one is the correct answer. I expect there are more paths by which homophobic attitudes and feelings can develop and I also suspect there are more types of homophobia. We may be focusing on a particular instance that is perceived to be motivated by religion, because people who speak up and who preach against what they think is immoral are mostly religious. The rest of the homophobic people, from the general society, may hardly be religious and may have no motivation to voice their hatred, but still they may be the ones committing acts of assault on people of different sexual orientation. Why don’t anonymous haters band together or speak up? Because there is no moral banner under which they can come together: every such grouping has a ‘highbrow’ claim, a symbolic purpose. But it’s not that that makes them hate, I argued. In this light, you may be right, if people who are brought together by a common creed can be determined to change their message into a more accepting and loving stance, they can deprive any of their members of a symbolic alibi to publicly chastise gays. But that will not remove anonymous homophobia, although it must improve things, I agree.
    Warren,
    I wonder how would students from the GCC have scored score if they were surveyed on how did they think their sexual orientation was set: a. they were born that way; b. developed that way; c. chose to be that way. The information they knew about it might have influenced how they invested an answer to be their interpretation. It’s self-rewarding and self-confirming to score according to values, but it may not say much about what caused that feeling of homophobia, even if attitude and opinion are shaped in religious terms. If most of them are religious, they might be inclined to understand their attitude as part of their beliefs, much less as a matter of personal dislike developed during their childhood or adolescence.
    PS. Call me an fMRI geek, but maybe some brainscanning studies would help to see emotional reactions and cognitive processing before checking an answer. 🙂

  32. OK. Some people say that they have experienced religious intolerance and pressures. Many gay men say that they have personally experienced this –Sorry I don’t know what the stats are.
    If a black person tells me they have experienced racial prejudice, should I ask them to cite a particular study or believe them? Is it a great leap to think that they might be telling the truth? I only know what I hear from gay men time and time and time again over many decades of listening to them. Many gay people (and no, I don’t have the stats) think the church hates them.
    They may be lying. Maybe the Holy Spirit is just convicting them of their “sin” and they are blaming the church. Would that be fair to say? What is it that I can say about his issue without someone nipicking the point to death?
    I am frankly surpised at the reluctance to admit that religious pressures have indeed negatively impacted many gay men. To me, denying that is like trying to deny that water is wet. If you really listen to their stories, it is a very frequent theme. What am I to make of these personal testimonies? Dismiss them as delusional?

  33. Michael,
    Some have been supportive and caring, some have not. It is just as unfair to make generalizations against religion as it is to make them against all gay people. It is not a matter of winning or losing it is a matter of whether we are all open to hearing what the other is saying.

  34. Here at GCC we did a survey several years ago looking at homophobia among our students. We used the Index of Homophobia which claimed to be a unidimensional measure of homophobia. We found however that there were three dimensions. One was personal dislike, two was concern about loved ones being homosexual and the third was belief/moral disagreement with homosexuality. Our students were high on 3, moderate on 2 and low on 1.

  35. OK. I give. All of the gay men I have met who tell me that they have experienced very strong anti-gay “religious” feelings, teachings and behaviors are liars or delusional. No pressure from the church. It’s all in their misguided heads. You are right. I will lay off. The church has always been supportive and caring. Somehow gay people just don’t want to see it. You win.

  36. Patrick,
    I presented a personal case of being the subject of hate conditioning against people from capitalist states when I lived under a Communist regime and confessed that it left no mark on any primary emotions on my part. I think they failed because 1. it was not credible and 2. we did not trust the manipulators. There was nothing in our minds that could be aroused against some people that we were supposed to hate in any instance – in the books we read, in the movies we watched, in the people we met and so on. There simply was no connection to what motivated our lives, so it never succeeded.
    I hope you can make a similar case of how hate conditioning can proceed from religious experiences or teachings to hate practices, violently verbal or physical. I could believe you if you told me that young boys call effeminate boys ‘sissies’ or ‘fa**ots’ because they feel those different boys are not like them in some very typical aspects, so they unconsciously like to tease them to prove themselves in front of their friends (some older brothers or fathers may teach them the words or they may pick them up from the culture). When these boys grow up they may be given more elaborate reasons to build on their scorn, some may be presented under a religious guise. They may be told or find out from older peers about the dirty kind of sex those people can have, how pervert they are because of that, that they are going to hell because of that (this would the part where they are let in on the ultimate stakes…). Do you think this brief description is more credible than simple preaching from the pulpit?
    This is one possible path, but there could be more that lead to the same result, depending on people’s motivations.

  37. All good questions Mary.
    Here were the questions used to code for the homophobia scale:
    1. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are mistreated in our society.
    (Strongly Agree = 0)
    2. It would be beneficial to society to recognize that homosexuality and bisexuality is as natural as heterosexuality. (Strongly Agree = 0)
    3. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual people should have equal opportunity in employment. (Strongly Agree = 0)
    4. Romantic relationships between people of the same sex are immoral. (Strongly Agree = 5)
    5. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual people endanger the institution of the family. (Strongly Agree = 5)
    6. Homosexuality and bisexuality are mental disorders.(Strongly Agree = 5)
    And no I don’t think that even those that score high on the homophobia scale are the same ones that commit violent acts against glbt persons. However, that isn’t to say that their actions and behaviours towards glbt persons can not be just as hurtful.

  38. I’m not denying those stats but here are some questions I wonder about.
    Of those identifying as conservative christian – how often do they attend chruch services or actvities throughout the week.
    Does seeing scripture as the definitive word of God equate to homophobia or homosexual violence?
    And how was the homophobia scaled presented and measured?
    On many scales I have taken – I come out homophobic but that could not be farther from thr reality. And does homophobia equate to anti-gay sentiments and violence against gays?

  39. When you do a search for psych literature about homophobia and religion – you do find a fair number of studies that show an association between religious belief and homonegativity.
    Here is one such article:
    The Relation of Religious Affiliation, Service Attendance, and Other Factors to Homophobic
    Attitudes among University Students
    Author(s): Barbara Finlay and Carol S. Walther
    Source: Review of Religious Research, Vol. 44, No. 4, (Jun., 2003), pp. 370-393
    In this study the group identified as non-Christian (mostly atheist, newager, pagan etc) scored more lower on the homophobia scale (2.7) as compared to Conservative protestants (15.4). [Higher numbers indicate greater homophobia]
    Now this doesn’t mean that the only source of homophobia towards glbt persons is due to religion – but certainly a significant amount is. Is this the primary source of anti-gay feelings out there – I don’t know – but I cannot see how you can deny the connection between homophobia and conservative religious belief.

  40. Michael. I know it stings. It stings me, too. And, yes, I would have attended the vigil had time, space and, finances permitted.
    Ya’ know Islamic people’s are not all bad either. We could put them all into one boat. Truth is – it is people who corrupt the religion. It is people.

  41. Michael,
    I have some trouble with what you are saying, because in the name of anti-religion much harm has been done also. When we take the actions of some and paint religion as being the problem we are passing judgement. I have never felt so judged as I do by many progay activists demanding that their right be respected and yet they show very little respect for the rights of others. Should I lump all gay people or even those who struggle with same-sex attraction but do not feel they want to be part of the gay culture into one category. I some how feel you would not like this very much and yet you seem to want to do this with those who do not see the issue of homosexuality as you do.
    What is hurting people is closemindedness not religion? There are closed minds people on both sides of this debate and within the scientific community and for that reason I have little faith in what you claim to be true science. The way science is meant to be done is very rapidly being eroded away by political correctness and power. Humility is needed so that each of us can more willingly walk in the others shoes and that walk should be from a point of where we are at today rather than where they were at 10, 20, or 30 years ago.

  42. Michael–
    I did not take exception to your statements that were expressed as opinions…I took exception to Jayhuck’s rather absolute statement that ‘religion is the primary source of anti-gay attitudes.’ I believe that religion is ‘a source’ but not ‘the primary source’.
    You asked why I seem to minimize the negative responses of the church. There are at least two reasons.
    1) Because folks like you and Jayhuck continually point fingers only at the church and ignore all other possibilities.
    2) Because, when I was in active ministry, my primary goal was to influence church attitudes to reduce homophobia and all types of anti-gay hysteria….BUT after more than a decade of pursuing that route, I began to realize that –in attempting to reach the church, I actually wasn’t speaking to the bashers. They weren’t there. So, I was impacting church attitudes but doing nothing to reduce the unacceptable treatment of gays out there, in the real world.
    Don’t read too much into my blogging. It does not reveal my entire heart or purpose. When I enter a conversation, I look to see if I have anything to contribute that isn’t already being spoken…or that simply needs to be said. So, on this blog, due to the nature of the discussions, you get to hear my take on the comments made. For the past month, I’ve barely even ventured any new opinions, I only comment on obvious exaggerations/overstatements or on comments directed to me/written about me. That’s my choice…also my right.
    In short, if you take exception to something specific that I’ve said, say so and we’ll discuss. But comments such as “why do you always seem to do thus and such?” are, IMHO, out of place. I really don’t know why it seems that way to you…ask yourself the question, not me. What I’m trying to say is, it’s fair to ask me to respond to specifics; it’s not fair to ask me why you feel a certain way about my comments.
    Also, please be careful about how you lump people together. I’ve never met Mary and I don’t know that we agree down the line on everything; it really irks me when people assume that we do. Consider that, up til Ann attended Jeffrey’s vigil, she was regularly getting lumped in with Mary and I by bloggers here. It wasn’t a sudden change of heart that caused Ann to attend; she displayed the same heart she’s been displaying all along. It just took that occasion for some of you to see it. (If I lived nearby, I likely would have attended as well.)

  43. It seems to me that those truly aligned with a faith or religion have spiritual boundries that their ethics will not allow them to cross – injuring another person either in spirit or physical harm is one of them. Unfortunately, there might be less of these people than what we expect. There might be more that claim they are aligned to their religious beliefs but their actions tell us otherwise, especially when they use their religion as a validation to justify their injurous words or actions. When this is backed up by church leaders or the injury or need of another is met with indifference (don’t get me started), it can be devastating.

  44. And God knows their hearts, too. Not you nor I. Don’t blame religion – blame the people involved in spreading the wrong message.

  45. Mary: I reallydon’t think you have any right to question whether or not I was “acting as a Christian” during the years I struggled to become “ex-gay”. God knows my heart. He knows my love for Him and how sincerely I wanted “change” — and how deeply I believed the things I taught. Thank God HE is my Savior and Judge — and not you!
    Of course, I know that it is the “people” and not the “religion” that teaches the fear and hate. But why do both you and Eddy seem to have so much trouble accepting that In the name of religion much harm has been done.? Eddy wants stats — but he knows what I am saying is true. Many churches still teach that gays choose to be gay, that they are demon-possessed, etc. Wouldn’t you call that relgious pressure?
    Perhaps I should have said that many gays have suufered persecution from folks who claimed to be religious — and that that influence has had powerful negative results for many people.

  46. Ooops,
    This may mean Michael, that you need to look at your life when you did advocate those things and probably were not acting as a christian – no matter where you THINK you heart was at the time.

  47. Michael,
    You seem most focused on the religion part when it is the people who misrepresent religion – or do things in the name of god. Truly, people of christ, do not do those things. Beware that you have not confused the two in the same way that they have.

  48. Eddy: Why are you so reluctant to admit that gays have suffered greatly at the hands of “religious” people? Haven’t you? Haven’t many of the “ex-gays” you have ministered to over the years?
    Alan Chambers says the church needs a “sudden, radical and complete change” in the way it treats gays. It’s one of the main reasons we created EXODUS in the first place — to try to change those hateful, fearful and hurtful anti-gay religious attitudes.
    Negative religious meesages, behaviors and attitudes are a major part of the stressors gays face. If you can’t see that — or are more concerned with “stats” — then, in my opinion, there is someting seriously wrong with your head and your heart. Face it, Eddy. Religious persecution and mistreatment of gays in the name of God is an undeniable fact — .even if no on has published a double-blind stastical analysis of it.

  49. Actually, Michael, if you say it’s an opinion, I don’t raise objections. I’ve challenged Jayhuck because he makes the statement as if it’s an absolute and commonly accepted fact.
    I’d be careful with how far you go with ‘face validity’…the logic behind that is what I run into from conservatives who try to say that gays recruit. Question one: Was your first homosexual experience something you initiated or did someone else approach you? AHA! You were recruited.
    Of course, the question leaves out some vitals…like whether the ‘recruitee’ was out looking to get recruited…and whether ‘recruitment’ was even in the remotest thoughts of the ‘recruiter’.
    I think the reason that Jayhuck’s statement bothers me so is that while I see some areas of the media be more accepting of gays, I still see a significant portion celebrating heterosexuality (including sinful heterosexuality) while reacting snidely to gays or to gay attractions. Since these are mainstream television programs geared for adults, I question how much they are influenced by conservative religious folks. There’s an anti gay bias but it appears more rooted in a ‘good ol’ boy’ mentality than in anything remotely religious. This more subtle homophobia is, IMHO, far more pervasive and far more insidious.
    You hear it a lot in sports talk/banter. The men can be drooling all over the cheerleader lineup (i.e lasciviousness) and, in a heartbeat, be making some joke that lets you know that, to them, gay is unacceptable. When pressed about their homophobic attitudes, I’m sure they’d play the ‘God card’…but they don’t do it because they are religious but rather because they’ll grab at anything to excuse their behavior.
    I think we’re missing something when we blame it all (or even most) on the conservative religious folks. I’m not sure what the something is but I’m thinking it’s vital to our understanding if we really want to challenge homophobia and gay-bashing.

  50. I don’t know. Can primary emotions like anger be aroused by simply knowing something (‘that person is gay’, ‘my church/belief asks me to hate gays’) or by knowing something that relates in a direct way to what a person knows he/she is (‘that person is gay-identified’, ‘I am not gay-identified’, ‘I can sacrifice for my beliefs’, ‘they don’t’)? Which one makes more sense in the way anger can be sparked in some religious people?
    Let’s imagine you are a postman and you are taught by your more experienced colleagues to hate dogs. Do you hate dogs because your colleagues taught you to or because dogs can attack postmen?
    I would say that dogmas cannot so efficiently plant primary emotions in people. I don’t know of any other example whereby a primary emotion could be instilled in people by conditioning (at least not so resiliently and in such large numbers). For instance, when I was living under a Communist regime (my entire childhood), we were each and every day taught to hate capitalists. There were books about how degraded capitalist people were (American people were the epitome of the materialistic capitalist way of life, according to Communist propaganda), that they took drugs and drank too much alcohol, that they had disordered lives, that their lifestyles lead to divorce and suicide, that their societies were cancered by unemployment, exploitation of the poor, religious sects, manipulation and so on. That left any sane person wondering how could those people manage to survive so rotten and given to waste? Most people under the Communist rule never met people from capitalist countries. Nevertheless, after the fall of Communism, we could still not identify ‘capitalist swines’ in the streets, probably because they looked like any other people. When I first travelled abroad in a couple of those capitalist countries my primary feelings were not of hate at the sight of those ‘depraved’ capitalists. I was rather curious about their lifestyles and frankly admired them for their being well-off and looking carefree about their lives. I think in time I became one of them and can just remember about the times when adult people in schools used to teach us to hate capitalists. Our parents were more targeted by those messages, by means of TV propaganda, workplace propaganda, university propaganda and so on. Still, they were the happiest to visit capitalist countries after communism collapsed in our country.
    That can leave anyone wondering how does hate conditioning works: by education or by providing a supporting framework of values for the ambiguity or conflicts people go through, that can also motivate them to sacrifice and hate? Does the framework create hate or provide meaning to a primary emotion that is already projected by a denied part of one’s self onto another person’s affirmed part of one’s self?
    I still believe that religious belief cannot create aggressive primary emotions, that they cannot cause it properly (building only on cognitions). My intuition tells me it must be quite the contrary, religious belief must have an eliberating and illuminating effect in a person, creating primary emotions of certainty and gratitude. I think people caught in a hating stance take a break from their faith and react how their primary emotions dictate them in relation to what they primarily feel about the people they hate. A trauma could create a man to hate seeing rats, but education in a stable environment seems most unlikely to cause hate towards specific categories of sexual identities.

  51. Eddy and others will probably ask for statistics and “sources” to back up my claim, so I will spare them the time and just point out: “It’s only my opinion,” just like my contention that gay teens are at high risk for suicide.
    But the contention that religion is one of the major sources of anti-gay hatred and fear, has what we call “face validity” — that is, it makes sense. Just look around. To dispute that seems very head-in-the-sand to me.

  52. Mary, I get your point, but people are religion. They bring to their religion their own fears, hopes, hatreds, dreams and prejudices. Some use God to validate their poision. This poison, given the veneer of spirituality, is often used to inflict great harm, In this sense, sadly, religion does become one of the major sources of anti-gay fear and hatred. You don’t have to look far to see that

  53. People are anti-gay. Religion has been twisted by those who hate. Let’s not confuse people as religion.

  54. I have to agree with Eddy that is is unfair to say that religion is the primary source of anti-gay attitudes. The attitudes are already there. Religion just codifies them and adds the threat of Hell.

  55. Jayhuck continues to assert this point without any substantiation or backup. I believe it’s an untrue statement.

    Its not that difficult to understand that religion is the primary source of anti-gay attitudes

    Where is the factual evidence that supports the opinion that religion is the primary source of anti-gay attitudes?

  56. Jayhuck,
    I think that you overestimate the prevalence of bisexuality in men. Please check out the actual studies. Bisexuality seems to be quite rare.
    Patrick,
    Thanks for the clarification.
    This study seems to be not about sexual orientation but rather about behavior outside of orientation.
    For example, I think it extrememly unlikely that I would engage in sexual behavior with a woman. But it wouldn’t be “quite impossible”. I’ve seen far too many “impossible” things occur.
    By Evan’s measurement, I have the capacity for heterosexual behavior. But would it be honest to say that societal pressures stop me from such behavior? No. It is that I have no sexual interest in women.
    Most gay men are probably capable of performing with a woman in the right setting with the right person, adequate amounts of alcohol, and strong enough images in their mind to keep them ‘in the mood’. But only one quite ignorant of the nature of sexual orientation would claim that they are “willing to engage in opposite sex behavior”.

  57. I pointed to the Santtila et al. study that concluded that only a tiny minority of people who would be willing to engage in same-sex actually do it.

    Looking at the study it seems a little odd. Firstly the question asked was:
    ‘‘If a, in your opinion, handsome man [to male participants]/beautiful woman [to
    female participants], whom you like, suggested sexual interaction with you,
    how likely would you be able to do it (if you could define the nature of the
    interaction and nobody else would know about it)?’
    The values were coded as follows:
    0 – Quite Impossible (~65 %)
    1 – Very Unlikely (~ 18 %)
    2 – Quite Unlikely ( ~ 5 %)
    3 – Not likely – not unlikely ( ~4 %)
    4 – Relative likely (~ 4 %)
    5 – Very Likely (~3 %)
    (The percentages are my readings off the bar chart – actual percentages are not quoted. These values are for men)
    To get the 32.8 % have a potential for homosexual behaviour he added up all the categories except 0 (Quite impossible). Of course this seems odd – are you really going to give the same potential weight to those that responded ‘Very Unlikely’ as ‘ Very likely’. I wouldn’t think so – but that is what is being done here.
    Also note that the question presupposes cultural reasons for people not engaging in homosexual behaviour (with the reference to nobody else knowing about it).
    I fail to see how this study supports your view Evan.

  58. Evan,
    Just something Timothy said that I feel merits repeating 🙂
    “And while this may all be fine and good to discuss in some theoretical realm, it is a tangent from the original point: that external pressures DO impact the discussion about sexual orientation and can lead some children to abuse others, lead some children to abuse themselves, and in some instances result in suicide.
    The question is not whether there is some individual in France that is seeking reorientation for reasons other than religion. The question is what religion can and should consider when making statements and whether there is a moral obligation to look at the consequences of the pressures it applies or whether this obligation is entirely mitigated by positions of faith.”

  59. Evan,
    I pointed to the Santtila et al. study that concluded that only a tiny minority of people who would be willing to engage in same-sex actually do it.
    When you say things like this, there is a good chance we are talking about a majority of the population. Having SOME same-sex attractions is not the same thing as predominately being attracted to members of the same sex. Societal pressures go a long way to explaining why many of these people probably don’t act on them – because its simply EASIER not to, and we tend toward the easy – but the majority of these people are likely bisexual as well. There is no mystery here

  60. Timothy,

    While you are quick to discount obvious and evident external pressures and assign unknown and undetected mystical internal motivations towards reorientation, you have provided nothing other than speculation to support these assumption.

    I did it inasmuch as present research permits. I pointed to the Santtila et al. study that concluded that only a tiny minority of people who would be willing to engage in same-sex actually do it. Researchers concluded, along the same lines I argued, that what makes people engage in same-sex behaviour may be genetically determined in a different way than what makes people able to fantasise about a possible same-sex encounter. It’s not much, but it has potential to explain a lot in the future.

  61. Timothy,
    Of course I cannot prove that yet, I was elaborating new ways to explain the same problems, but you know what? Neither can anybody prove otherwise. And no one can prove the common assumption that heterosexuality, bisexuality or homosexuality actually exist as completely separate types of attractions that can be found in completely different people. But we all agree that they exist, that people really live that, although we or they cannot fully prove it.

    external pressures DO impact the discussion about sexual orientation and can lead some children to abuse others, lead some children to abuse themselves, and in some instances result in suicide.

    I don’t dispute that, I may also not be fully aware of how dramatic the situation is in the US, but my argument pointed to a more complex development of motivations that could explain more outcomes of the same process (for instance, why some people adjust their faith to fit their new-found sexual identity). I don’t think this is just an equation of faith versus sexual identity, although I do not deny that most people might put it that way when they get vocal or public about it. When people get confrontational about what they hate in society, they can make use of their most sacred values in order to force their opponents either to come up with equally good reasons for their behaviour or to deny those beliefs and make themselves look bad. I also think people’s anger can be sparked by the fears they have and exposure to what they do not want to see in the public space. Most people are not dogmatic, they have common emotions like you and me. That’s why I believe it has more to do with their own emotions about other people’s declared sexual identity than with church dogma. Time will tell, I stand by my argument that people manipulate their beliefs against people they cannot abide. That’s why there are religious people who, although they recognise that church dogma prohibits same-sex behaviour, they have no problem with gay people as individuals. These are people who are secure enough to deal with people of different assumed sexual identity, their faith does not dictate them to harbour hate.
    But when it comes to real cases of crimes and assaults, I must say that in moral matters, any offensive act of aggression or physical abuse, regardless of motive, cannot be tolerated.

  62. Evan,
    All of us, heterosexual or homosexual, act on our attractions. That action may be courting, marriage, and domestication. It may be “sowing our wild oats”. It may be rejecting such attraction by means of spinsterhood, monastic affiliation, or reorientation. But we all act on our attractions.
    And, as Jayhuck clarified, I believe that the pressures, influences, and motivations are diverse and complex.
    However, I am unwilling to agree with you that beliefs are selected to align to some “deeper layers of motivation” or “something deeper and linked to the biological status of masculinity”. While you are quick to discount obvious and evident external pressures and assign unknown and undetected mystical internal motivations towards reorientation, you have provided nothing other than speculation to support these assumption.
    And while this may all be fine and good to discuss in some theoretical realm, it is a tangent from the original point: that external pressures DO impact the discussion about sexual orientation and can lead some children to abuse others, lead some children to abuse themselves, and in some instances result in suicide.
    The question is not whether there is some individual in France that is seeking reorientation for reasons other than religion. The question is what religion can and should consider when making statements and whether there is a moral obligation to look at the consequences of the pressures it applies or whether this obligation is entirely mitigated by positions of faith.

  63. Mary said, “However, I suspect that among gay men who wish to be straight, for non-religious reasons, you will find that the majority of them are men over 30. I.e. men who grew up in a time when the anti-gay bias was much more prominent.
    This may be the case for those who seek reorientation for religious reasons as well. The average age of the Jones and Yarhouse study was in the early 40’s.”
    We are finding the age of people who start attending our group, (Where Grace Abounds, in Denver, ) is getting younger and younger. What is true, however, is that they are addressing the issues in their lives for different reasons. Rather than primarily motivated by shame, guilt, relational pressure from families, etc., they seem to be genuinely interested in exploring alternative explanations for their feelings/attractions. They seem freer to question, whatever side of the fence they happen to be on.

  64. Evan: Thanks. We all have this wonderful promise: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. <>

  65. Michael,
    I am truly sorry for your loss. It is a great tragedy what happened with your friend and his mother. I hope you will find your peace of mind.

  66. Thanks, Jayhuck. I want folks to know that I am not “playing victim” as some have suggested. I am a survivor. Jeffery was the victim — and his mother who killed herself a month later because she could not bear the grief was a victim.
    And every gay teen who hates herself or who offs himself for being gay is a victim. Without statistics we may never know how many, so, sadly, the debate over that will continue…

  67. Michael,
    I’m so incredibly sorry about your friend and your ordeal. I can’t do much but offer you my prayers.

  68. Thanks, Ann. This time of year is always hard for me. Awhile back, Mary asked (in response to my offensive and combative tone) “Are you having trouble with a friend or something?” Yes. I guess I am. Except that it is having trouble without my friend — not with him.
    I get real testy when people appear to want to minimize the impact that anti-gay social/family/religious pressures — on adults and especially on kids. It feels like they don’t really want to believe that anti-gay pressures kill — sometimes other people kill them and sometimes, the self-loathing and shunned gay kids do it to themselves. And that makes me really angry.
    I hear them saying: “Prove that anyone is harmed. Prove that people are bullied, beaten or killed. What statistics can you cite? — nitpicking over stats — while I fight to get the sound of “faggot” out of my head and the image of five gang members beating and stabbing us out of my mind.
    Ann, I sincerely appreciate your offer of prayer. Here is the info about the vigil: June 6, 2008 Memorial Vigil in Honor Of Jeffery Owens: Remembering the June 6, 2002 attack and subsequent death of Jeffery Owens for whom this center is named begins at 7:30 pm on the steps of the First Congregational Church followed by a walk to the site of the attack that led to the founding of the JOCC. Call 951-683-2032 for more information. http://www.jocc.org

  69. Evan,
    Not all pressures to change are directly religious – I think you might have missed that in Timothy’s message. There are a multitude of subtle messages that society sends out – some directly religious, some indirectly and some non-religious – the message is, whether its in a sermon or seeing a heterosexual couple on a billboard, that heterosexuality is the acceptable norm and people should strive for that. There is something recognized in psychology called the Social Desirability Bias. You can’t underestimate all these messages that society sends out in photos, on TV, on the radio, etc. Its not just all about religion, even though the primary message that homosexuality is wrong does come from religion. I highly recommend you re-read Timothy’s message. I don’t think he was suggesting that these behaviors were to be explained by some simple answer – in fact, his message suggests something more complex

  70. Evan,
    Its not that difficult to understand that religion is the primary source of anti-gay attitudes and that most people who desire to change do so for religious reasons. I think you’re missing what Timothy was trying to say.

  71. Michael,
    If you give me the location and time, I will try to attend. If my request is overstepping a personal boundry, I apologize and will be with you in an attitude of prayer and spirit.

  72. Warren: I apologize if I have been offensive and confrontational of late. Tomorrow is the sixth anniverysary of the murder of my best friend, Jeffery Owens. http://www.riversideca.gov/rpd/press/2002releases/jun20a02.htm
    I was also stabbed and, but for the grace of God, might have died in the attack. Hate attacked us. Homophobia attacked us. Igorance attacked us. And it keeps killing adults and kids. I don’t know how many and I don’t care. One is too many.
    Timothy hit the nail on the head when he said earlier: “I think that you and Mary both care. I think that both of you are truly concerned about childhood suicide and genuinely wish there was something that you could do that would eliminate the stresses that lead to such an action by a gay kid… up to a limit. But I also think that for some reason caring was not your first and automatic response. …I am asking if the correct response to Michael’s concerns is to challenge the minutia of his claim while ignoring the heart of his concerns.”
    Timothy is right. That’s why I got angry. Tomorrow, I will attend the candlelight vigil for my friend. Perhaps you, Warren, and Mary, along with your other readers will join me in spirit — in an attitude of prayer for the many victims (no, I won’t risk guessing at how many) of anti-gay fear and hate.

  73. Timothy,
    Have you considered that how the issue of homosexuality is discussed in your country is shaped by factors that are specific to that context? Like the very strong influence religious groups can have in social and political life. But as I said earlier, this is how the issue is shaped, how it takes a meaning expressed in beliefs and interpretations, not how it is caused. No one can prove how it is caused at a personal level, but most assume that it must be a simple causation by means of direct social pressure. If you want to understand someone’s motivations you ask them a number of questions until you reconstruct some coherent account of how they understand and express their problems (or you observe their behaviour, a more difficult task). But it’s mostly cognitively processed information that at most you can verify by other tests and see how consistent they are when you ask them in different ways.
    Would you say that people’s behaviours are fully explainable in terms of beliefs (or lack of them)? If they have SSAs, do only their religious views stand between their attractions and engaging in same-sex behaviour? I find this common assumption to be too simple to explain complex behaviours. What if their beliefs are just conscious motives that people pick up from their environment to make sense of their decisions that come from deeper layers of motivation? They grow up within a framework of values that later provides them with the terms and explanations they can resort to in order to make sense of what they are going through. But why people have SSAs or why some act on them and others don’t it’s still empirically unknown. I think they go together: until you understand how attractions develop you cannot fully understand why some people act on them and why others don’t, because you don’t know how they actually work, what variables are different in what people, to be able to ascribe motivations to them. It may have more to do with some dimensions of their temperament than with what beliefs they have. After all, we can agree that people can lose beliefs but can hardly lose unwanted attractions. Some people change their values to adjust to newly adopted behaviours. They do not entirely lose them, they interpret those beliefs in a new light to permit their behaviours. So which one determines which? Does behaviour motivation determine change in beliefs or does change in beliefs determine change in behaviour? Do gays who adjust their beliefs to fit their behaviour act on social pressure to keep their beliefs, even in an adjusted form, and so demonstrate that they can be both believers and gay-identified in order to have more chances to be validated by a society in which religious groups are very powerful in shaping public morality and law?
    It seems that it’s not just a change in belief that makes people shift from one side to another, I think belief is a strong reason for some personality types, but not for most. It’s just the tip of the iceberg we’re seeing, the culturally expressed one. There is something else that makes them decide to act on their attractions and adjust what they can, namely their beliefs. So beliefs seem to play a more conscious and higher level role, but not the most determinant one in why some people engage in some behaviours or not. I don’t think that people’s behaviours can be fully predicted by the interplay between the system of beliefs they grew up with and their primary attractions. I think different personalities have different strengths and weaknesses that determine their levels of disinhibition, just to name one factor that can play an important part in the decision or impulse to engage in a behaviour.
    PS. I am considering inviting the person I mentioned here to give account of his own motivation if he wants to. He may be uneasy about this, as he is a very shy person and primarily speaks/writes in French but can manage English too. It would be interesting to hear someone’s account that does not fit our cultural assumptions.

  74. I don’t view making jokes about breeders in the same way I view ex-gays talking about gay people as perverse, sinful, in need of change, not worthy of having the same rights as us, etc…

  75. I didn’t mean to “play the just joking card” – although I suppose I did. I sure didn’t mean to suggest it was right.

  76. LOL! You’ve played the “Just joking” card! Unbelievable. Suffice to say as has been said many times on this thread – everyone experiences it differently.

  77. I’ve never met an atheist who was anti-gay, and I’ve sure never met, read about, etc. an atheist who was gay who wanted to re-orient him/herself. If that does happen, and since most people who desire to re-orient themselves ARE religious, I’m guessing this must be a very rare thing indeed.

  78. Mary,
    And when I was gay, I have even heard gays laugh at “breeders” and make fun of heterosexuals.
    I’ve heard that too Mary, and I’ve even been a part of it, but I never heard these things said when they weren’t meant to be humorous – right or wrong. Despite my past use of these words, the majority of my friends are straight, and I am very involved in their lives – well, most of them anyway. I hold no animosity towards straight people, and I don’t begrudge them anything, as long as they aren’t set on imposing their beliefs on me, or suggesting I don’t deserve the same rights as they do. 🙂

  79. ken

    However, I suspect that among gay men who wish to be straight, for non-religious reasons, you will find that the majority of them are men over 30. I.e. men who grew up in a time when the anti-gay bias was much more prominent.

    This may be the case for those who seek reorientation for religious reasons as well. The average age of the Jones and Yarhouse study was in the early 40’s.
    Evan,
    if you are not seeing the pressure of which Ken speaks, it’s because you are not looking where Ken is speaking of. Predominant religious influences in Belgium and the Netherlands tend to be affirming of gay persons.
    However, please also be aware that in addition to homophobia (animosity towards homosexuality) there is also heterosexism (assumptions that heterosexuality always applies).
    For example, even in the most supportive of families and cultures, a child is assumed to be heterosexual unless there is something presented to suggest otherwise. Nearly every fairy tale, billboard, beer ad, and neighbor presents a model of heterosexuality. Remember most gay kids are raised by heterosexual parents. There is present from birth a subtle yet relentless pressure to be heterosexual.
    Even in Belgium and the Netherlands.
    I’ve heard of similar pressures on racially minority children that were adoped by white parents and raised in all-white neighborhoods. Being different from what is presented as “usual” or “normal” cannot be easily remedied by television images or postcards – though such things do help.
    While it may be tempting to imagine an internal genetic drive towards reorientation to heterosexuality, a much more obvious and much more likely cause would be those pressures that we can see if we but glance at them. They are everywhere and all the time. Such pressures need not be conspiratorial or of evil intent to be present or to have an impact on the psyche of a kid.
    Don’t you agree?
    As for the rest of your assertions, perhaps I misunderstand them.
    You seem to be saying that there are a great many (or at least a sizeable minority) of persons seeking to change their orientation who do so absent of any pressures in that direction.
    That may well be the case in some few individuals or in some rare locations, but I am really struggling to accept the notion that there are many places in which there is not a strong pressure towards heterosexuality. Further, I am having a difficult time with the idea that there are a great many individuals who have secular values that idealize heterosexuality without any religious values affirming them.
    Frankly, that just doesn’t fit with my experiences. And I am fairly familiar with the reorientation conversations – or at least those in the United States.
    I have to conclude that you are a most peculiar person. You have multiple acquaintances with experiences that none of the rest of us have met even in single isolated instances. I dare say that very few of us here know any persons that are athiests and who have NO pressures towards heterosexuality and yet are seeking to reorient.
    I don’t say that your experiences and acquaintances are not legitimate. But considering that they are so very far outside the experiences of the rest of us at this site – and we are a diverse yet informed community – perhaps they have little relevance to the conversation.

  80. I’ve seen the pressure from both sides. And when I was gay, I have even heard gays laugh at “breeders” and make fun of heterosexuals. So….while I am not comparing amount of pressure or severity – I have watched and listend to people on both sides of this issue (well -all sides of this issue) put others down for not belonging to “their” group.

  81. Warren,
    What you say of group cohesion makes sense…. sort of. I have to disagree, however, that individuals that resolve their cognitive differences by moving towards a gay identification often generate a strong reaction against heterosexuals.
    There may be limited reactions against certain religious subgroups, but what I have mostly seen is that those who were once part of a conservative faith are more generous with their understanding of that condemning faith than are others who are less familiar with it.
    Similarly, I’ve seen often enough to detect a pattern that gay men who leave a female spouse may do so without animosity and consider that ex-spouse to be a much-valued and much-loved friend.
    Leaving cohesive groups is often preceded by cognitive dissonance. Resolving the cognitive dissonance often generates a strong reaction against the former group (whether it be going from a gay identification to ex-gay or vice versa).
    However, I do not doubt that ex-gays can be rather hostile towards gays. That does seem to be a frequent occurance.

  82. Warren,
    I was pressured and even criticised for leaving the gay “culture”. These people whom I thought were my friends were very mean, hostile etc… And I was laughed at and told I would be back. Overall, it was much like the social pressure a person feels when they want to change from the group or move on. And I still read and hear others talk about ex gays in a manner similar to how anti-gay people speak of gays.
    I do think though that the whole ex gay movement or organizations that become anti-gay have spread their shadow over those of us who have very different opinions about what it means to be gay.

  83. Patrick,
    You are right. Rural and small town areas can harbour older attitudes to gay people.

    And as for your atheist friend with unwanted SSA – sure I can see that happening. But we aren’t talking isolated cases here but in generalities – Ken did say the ‘majority’. You citing a one-off case really doesn’t undercut his point.

    I don’t know, maybe religious people are more organised or are more supported by ministries and other specific help groups. But it sure looks like the majority of people with unwanted SSAs who seek help or talk about their struggles are also believers. However, every one person counts and we should not dismiss the validity of the struggle of people who are not believers.
    Believe it or not, that friend I mentioned was the member of a Christian-based help group. He probably could not find any support from any other party. But I am thinking there must also be people who do not talk about it or seek help.

  84. Jayhuck,
    I think that actually people find a home in the values that support them. How they acquire(d) their values that support them in their struggle with unwanted attractions is not so straightforwardly manipulative or naive as many people assume. Some are ‘born’ to those values, others follow a process of identifying with them. There are many ways of getting to them and away from them. I just told you that some people actually lose their ‘native’ beliefs because of their struggle and still continue not to act on unwanted attractions, even when there is no direct pressure coming from society. I think it has something to do with how they ‘understand’ their biology or their physical integrity (remember when I was talking about the specificity of male identity?). Their values confirm and support their struggle, giving them a spiritual compass. But I do not think that their beliefs originate their inner conflicts, but they may give shape to their conflicts when they try to make sense of the purposiveness of their struggle. Some fail to make sense of it and can lose their beliefs, but they nevertheless continue the struggle trying to find a new framework of values that confirm and support their imbalance. It may work differently with different people, according to their personality. Some might give up their struggle and adjust their former values to fit a new ‘identity’ (maybe this is the case with many Christian gays).
    Let’s not think it only works one way, the way people report it or voice it in the publice space. There are some constraints in the public space that can make people lose the individuality of their struggle and band together under more common values that have strong traditional claims in the community. If you hear them talking the same lingo does not mean you have hit rock bottom in understanding what their motivations are.

  85. Evan:
    As have been pointed out – gay-rights does not necessarily correlate with societal acceptance.
    Case in point – I am in Canada and we have gay marriage/adoption/anti-discrimination laws etc. Yet some areas (here I am thinking small town Alberta for instance – though there are many other examples) are quite openly hostile to glbt folk. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same does not hold for regions within European countries as well.
    And as for your atheist friend with unwanted SSA – sure I can see that happening. But we aren’t talking isolated cases here but in generalities – Ken did say the ‘majority’. You citing a one-off case really doesn’t undercut his point.

  86. Ann,
    I “think” Mary is saying that the general consesus from most people, including gay advocates, is that any SSA means confirmation that one is gay and should accept it.
    I don’t think that’s true. I think this can also be generalized to OSA – If a person has some OSA, do we immediately call them straight. Its amazing to me how difficult it seems to be for every group, straight, gay and on many on this blog, to deal with tthe concept of bisexuality.

  87. Evan,
    Regardless of the few non-religious people who might be struggling with unwanted SSAs, the fact remains that the VAST, VAST majority of people who search for therapy to deal with their SSAs ARE religious – the whole phenomenon of dealing with unwanted SSAs really came out of religion. Where do you think the idea that homosexuality is wrong came from? Religion for the most part
    that actual same-sex behaviour may be determined by something more than what determines same-sex attractions, in genetic terms.
    My guess is that this might also apply to heterosexuals?

  88. Ken,
    I gave you a few examples from a number of countries I’ve been to or lived in to show that the climate is not poised to stifle gay expression, not even in people who are very young (at least in those Western developed countries I’ve mentioned). I just don’t see that pressure you are talking about, at least not in a direct way. Maybe it’s something that comes out spontaneosly from people manifesting their sexual identity in a natural way, without being directed against someone in particular. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s the natural setting: there are naturally more ‘straights’ than ‘gays’. I also think that, on average, gay people can be more sensitive and, besides the real problems of discrimination or marginalisation they surely go through, they can also ascribe intentionality to other people’s natural indifference or misunderstanding of their own sexual identity.

    However, I suspect that among gay men who wish to be straight, for non-religious reasons, you will find that the majority of them are men over 30. I.e. men who grew up in a time when the anti-gay bias was much more prominent.

    The person I mentioned is an atheist and SSA struggler is in his 20s. I have recently talked to a few others that are still younger and I was impressed by the fact that some of them actually lost their faith due to hopelessly struggling with unwanted attractions. These evolutions are a bit more nuanced than some advocates assume. Personally, I do not share the common assumption that most of these people’s motivations must come from culture, values, beliefs or social pressure. I am beginning to think that there must be also some biological or genetic support for some people’s refusal to yield to their unwanted attractions (when attractions mismatch some biological logic). The Santtila et al. study I have quoted before I think it points in the same direction: that actual same-sex behaviour may be determined by something more than what determines same-sex attractions, in genetic terms.

  89. Evan said in post 106220:
    Things have changed in many countries. I can only give you examples from a few countries I lived in or visited in the last few years, Belgium, Portugal, Italy and the Netherlands. I remember when I was in Belgium, I was taking the subway train one day and two boys about 18 years old were very excited talking about some gay bars they wanted to check out.
    I don’t see how this addresses any of the issues I brought up. In the US I’m sure there are 18 year olds who would be perfectly comfortable talking about going to gay bars in certain areas. This does not disprove there is a societal anti-gay bias. And I agree that things are changing in ways to reduce that bias. However, I suspect that among gay men who wish to be straight, for non-religious reasons, you will find that the majority of them are men over 30. I.e. men who grew up in a time when the anti-gay bias was much more prominent.

  90. To keep this somewhat on topic, the SIT framework recognizes both kinds of pressure. However, I believe they operate differently and in different contexts. I think there can be no question that the society socializes heterosexuality in myriad implicit and explicit ways. There seems little question that media, religion, education, etc. focus people toward relationships with serve reproduction most efficiently. I hope all would see that as being a consequence biology as much as ideology. And so when people develop same-sex attraction, it seems hard to fathom that enduring, strong attraction could be caused by any kind of direct social learning or even psychodynamic process. Gay psychotherapist Joe Kort theorizes that some basically straight people may engage in homosexual behavior due to trauma or environmental problems of one kind or another. He looks almost reparative except that he believes any such change is behavioral due to resolution of trauma or emotional concerns.
    I mention him because it leads to the other kind of pressure I believe may exist to a lesser degree and in a narrower context than the societal/biological pressures. Within gay social groups, at least some have reported, pressure to remain gay. In other words, for people who believe they want to change, or for people who experience religious conversion, or for people who spontaneously change, some pressure may be exerted to have them remain in the group. I see this as a group cohesion kind of dynamic that probably exists in any cohesive group. If a group is cohesive, those who leave it or express a desire to leave will probably experience this kind of pressure. It is not pressure on straight people to become gay but perhaps on people of ambiguous sexuality to choose sides. This is what I often hear from ex-gay identified people. And for those who experienced the larger cultural and religious pressure to conform, I suspect this more local, group based pressure could feel remarkably similar, especially if the leaver expressed lots of hostility toward the group (as many ex-gays often do).
    Leaving cohesive groups is often preceded by cognitive dissonance. Resolving the cognitive dissonance often generates a strong reaction against the former group (whether it be going from a gay identification to ex-gay or vice versa).

  91. Mary
    You know it’s true. You heard the samething as I have in gay circles, on blogs etc… I don’t need to gather the obvious for your benefit.
    Right, just like how I know it’s true that you’re a Crumple Horned Snorkack. I know it’s true. I’ve read it on blogs, but I won’t tell you which ones, because you know which ones. You know you do. No need for you to deny the obvious.
    I “think” Mary is saying that the general consesus from most people, including gay advocates, is that any SSA means confirmation that one is gay and should accept it.. I’m not sure if it also means they will act upon it but acceptance is advocated.
    Actually, she specifically said the consensus was that one should act on whatever attractions one feels.
    But how’s this Advocates for Youth pamphlet for consensus?
    You may also feel confused or unsure about whether or not you’re a lesbian. You may feel confused because you’re attracted to both men and women, and that’s okay. Some women have relationships with both men and women throughout their lives. Some women eventually decide to be exclusively lesbian or exclusively heterosexual. Sexuality usually develops over time, so don’t worry if you aren’t sure.
    Oops. That was me actually going looking for evidence tho, instead of just asserting what I want to be true.

  92. Mary said in post 106207:
    You may read through this blog where others have said that a person cannot be truly happy unless they follow their natural sexual orientation (whatever that means) and this is only one blog. There are many more out there.
    And how does this influence a straight person to want to be gay?
    And it is funny if a gay person who is following thier natural sexual orientation commits suicide it is because society puts pressure on them to conform to being heterosexual.
    Its not funny to someone who has actually taken the time to look up the research on gay suicides. Did you bother to look up the reference I cited? Or search for others? Do you intend to?
    Has anyone considered that if a gay person commits suicide it might be because they believed what others said about following their natural sexual orientation and they just were miserable with the gay life they were living?
    How many straight people commit suicide because they have been told they can’t become gay?
    When all of the issues (depression/suicides because of orientation, desire to change etc) only apply to gays but not to straights, then there is a very strong bias. That bias is the elephant in the room you keep trying to unsuccessfully ignore.
    And your claims of social pressure are nonsense. They are insignificant compared to the types of things I’m talking about. I’m talking about a pervasive, insidious bias against gays and you are talking about nameless people who reject the notion that gays should try to become straight. You may as well be complaining about how having a few splinters in your hand is as bad as losing limbs.

  93. Ken,
    Things have changed in many countries. I can only give you examples from a few countries I lived in or visited in the last few years, Belgium, Portugal, Italy and the Netherlands. I remember when I was in Belgium, I was taking the subway train one day and two boys about 18 years old were very excited talking about some gay bars they wanted to check out. No one around was making a big fuss or frowning on them. Also, when I went in Portugal and I was walking with friends in the downtown area, there were a few postcard-selling booths scattered around and guess what? They were selling two types of postcards with people: ones with straight imagery and ones with gay imagery, ie with couples of gay males. That was a bit odd to me, I have to admit, but however unimportant it may seem, it does indicate something about what is common in the public place for people to see. In the Netherlands, Spain and Belgium, for instance, gay people have all the rights that straight people enjoy (marriage, adoption, joining the military, property and inheritance, etc). You can see it in the streets, in public events and in how many GLBT people are integrated in all areas of public and private life. If an ordinary guy like me, who is not familiar with alternative life styles (sexual or otherwise) can see a lot of it in the public space, a lot of it promoted by public institutions, I can assume that at least in the urban areas people seem to have a pacific attitude about the presence of GLBT people. I don’t know how things are in the US, but it’s the principle of ‘society pressure against gays’ that I was arguing with. I don’t see much of that in Europe, at least not in the urban areas. Maybe that’s why I also haven’t seen as much ‘gay media’ as I found on the internet coming from the US.

  94. Ken,
    You may read through this blog where others have said that a person cannot be truly happy unless they follow their natural sexual orientation (whatever that means) and this is only one blog. There are many more out there.
    You may disagree. Okay. So we see this differently.
    And it is funny if a gay person who is following thier natural sexual orientation commits suicide it is because society puts pressure on them to conform to being heterosexual. But if a person who is seeking to not be gay commits suicide then again it is society putting pressure on them. Has anyone considered that if a gay person commits suicide it might be because they believed what others said about following their natural sexual orientation and they just were miserable with the gay life they were living? Or maybe a doctor during the psychological autopsy decided that it had nothing to do with sexuality and was simply a matter of depression and other familial factors?
    I know many of see this from different angles and perspectives – having said that – it does not mean that either of our perspectives is wrong, better, worse, inaccurate etc… It means we have experienced social pressure to conform.

  95. Mary said in post 106169:
    You may be a victim for the rest of your life if you choose.
    I’m not a victim of anything. What is it you think I’m a victim of?
    I was pointing out that pressure exists on both sides.
    No, you were making unsubstantiated, exaggerated claims you have yet to support. I’ve given examples (106084 ) of how society influences/pressures gays to try to become straight. Now perhaps you can do the same to show how you believe society influences/pressures straights to try to become gay.

  96. Ken,
    No there is plenty of social pressure to accept homosexual behaviour as normal from TV, Movies, advertizing, etc. Unless one has been in a cave for the past 10-15 years I think this is extremely obvious.

  97. Ken,
    You may be a victim for the rest of your life if you choose. I was pointing out that pressure exists on both sides. That you have not experienced this pressure, does not mean it does not exist.

  98. Mary said in post 106146:
    There is social pressure from both sides.
    No Mary there isn’t social pressure from both sides. Your exaggerated and inaccurate claims about these nameless “gay activists” do not even come close to the social influences on the scale of the pervasive, life-long, overt and subliminal messages society sends that “straight is right” and “gay is wrong.”

  99. This is not a contest of who has it better or who has it worse. There is social pressure from both sides. And teenagers are a high risk group for suicide and suicidal ideation – it is not a gay issue. We should all be careful to pay attention to other people’s conserns before jumping on the bandwagon of – who has it the worst.

  100. Concerned,
    I hear your concern, but I think you are a bit off track.
    I think that we can agree that for some children the message that gays are sinners and cannot be Christians can be greatly damaging. Let me share a little of my own personal story.
    I was raised in a very conservative Christian family. All of my life my father was a pentecostal preacher, as was his father before him. As a pastor’s son I was literally raised in church, so I think that I can speak to the way in which a child hears messages about homosexuality.
    My father was not a political person – he believed it would be improper to direct the way his parishoners voted and even refused to put up the voter guides sent out by the Moral Majority. He didn’t preach much at all that I can recall about homosexuality – it wasn’t particularly relevant to the spiritual lives of his flock… or so he thought 🙂
    But occasionally the subject came up. And when it did, it was clear that those persons, those homosexuals, were not Christians. And it was also clear that this was their own doing, they were sinners just like drug addicts and murderers because they were bad people who rejected God. In one instance he told me that one gay son of another pastor we knew was homosexual because he was rebelling and trying to hurt his father.
    As a child I very strongly identified as a Christian. It was this identity that comforted me when I had to wear strange clothing in gym class or when I was dismissed from sex-ed or when I was not allowed to watch television or go to movies or any of the myriad of other differences that were embarrassing to a kid. It was Ok, I was a Christian.
    So let me make it perfectly clear. Let there be no ambiguity.
    When a child with a strong identity as a Christian is simultaeously presented with circumstances that are outside their control and when they are told that such persons cannot be Christian and are evil, there will be conflict.
    And please understand that at that time in that place this message was universal and unvarying. There was no “Gay is Good” counter-message.
    I was very lucky. I was a pretty self-sufficient child. And I was also a bit inclined to read and find out things on my own. I’m also pretty fond of myself so I never was much inclined to consider suicide as a serious option.
    But please understand that I am absolutely unwilling to have such pressures dismissed or treated as less than the serious situation that they are. This is not up for debate.
    Now as to whether the message that “one must live consistent with your orientation to be happy” is damaging, it simply does not compare. I don’t mean to put you down, but it is not the same.
    First off, there are no places that I am aware of in which this is the sole message. In every community in this nation (and probably abroad) there are those who will immediately and vocally champion your decision to live contrary to your orientation. In fact, in most places you will find more people celebrating your decision than you will find questioning it.
    Second, the decision to live contrary to your orientation does not raise conflict with your basic religious identity. You have never ever (ever – by anyone) been told that you cannot be a Christian and live heterosexually.
    Finally, I simply don’t think there is any credible source of anyone that I’ve heard of who found the message “you will be happier if you accept your orientation” to lead them to be suicidal. I’ve never heard of that and I have difficultly believing that it occurs in any significant numbers.
    But I DO think that conflict can arise between the message “you can’t change your orientation” and the message “you must change your orientation”. I think such conflict can be particularly stressful for those who chose the “you must change” direction only to find such efforts are not readily achievable.
    For those persons who are able to find a heterosexual life and maintain it, they are no doubt happy.
    But those who hear “you must be gay to be happy” and who REJECT that notion only to find that reorientation is not yielding much change, it can undoubtedly bring a great deal of emotional distress to be confronted with what can at that time appear to be the wrong decision.
    And if their religious faith REQUIRES that they reject “you must be gay to be happy” I do not doubt at all that despair can come when there is realization that perhaps that message might just be true after all. That is where identity conflict issues arise.

  101. Timothy and Michael – I can see by the way I asked for the documentation that I sounded confrontational (“I must ask that you document that…”). I regret that.
    I honestly would like to know where these stats come from. I don’t think we have a good figure but I am not at all questioning that conditions exist which make growing up difficult for same-sex attracted youth. Part of my motivation for the Golden Rule Pledge is because I recognize that and I believe it would be so powerful if straight Christian kids would lead the way against such bullying and harassment. I do not know any way around the worldview differences at the level of belief but I do think ground can be common at the level of mutual respect and behavior.

  102. Warren,

    Michael, I also think it is unfair to say that a request for accuracy implies a lack of care of concern

    Actually, it was me that raised the question of caring. So I think I should answer this.
    What Michael originally said – that which triggered this suicide discussion was

    To me, that kind of “teaching” is responsible for many adolescent suicides — a much more important concern than winning an inning at Bible baseball.

    Rather than engender a discussion about whether such teachings automatically lead to suicide or whether there are better ways to express religious faith or whether gay claims about teachings are wildly exagerated or even if discussions about ANY matters of faith can be held hostage to the reaction of the listeners, or any other possible discussion…. instead this thread devolved to a challenge of Michael’s statistics.
    Maybe he’s wrong. Maybe it isn’t 4 times as likely. Maybe it isn’t the number one killer of gay kids. But we know, we KNOW, that this is a significant issue and that gay kids do commit suicide out of fear of rejection, societal condemnation, and religious condemnation.
    So how should we respond to this fact?
    I contend that moral people care.
    In fact, I think that you and Mary both care. I think that both of you are truly concerned about childhood suicide and genuinely wish there was something that you could do that would eliminate the stresses that lead to such an action by a gay kid… up to a limit.
    But I also think that for some reason caring was not your first and automatic response. I suspect that this is not out of callousness, but rather because responding first with care deeply conflicts with other insticts – particularly the need to protect the right of religious people to express their faith and to spread their religious, social, and cultural values.
    There is no easy answer. And I, for one, would not want to place the response of children to a message that I find dangerous over the rights of another person to believe and spead that message. But, nonetheless, I still wish that message were different than it is.
    I’m not accusing you of being callous.
    But I am asking if the correct response to Michael’s concerns is to challenge the minutia of his claim while ignoring the heart of his concerns.

  103. Concerned,
    I agree with you. I think it works both ways. As Michael Bussee said, some pressure coming from society makes people who already identify as gay to think of suicide, but there are also people who I believe will never identify with their same-sex attractions no matter what policies will be carried out, simply because they want to do something different with their lives (the Santtila et al. paper about prevalence of potential for homosexual behaviour in the population is an indication of this, I think). Unfortunately misunderstanding too runs both ways when we assume that only our explanations are right for all the people involved. In real life, I think it’s more complicated. Some people will never accept options that were already tailored by the agency of different advocating or professional groups.
    Ken,
    I see what your point is though I don’t necessarily agree with it. I will not continue that line of reasoning, in order to avoid the topic drifting again. Maybe some other time it will be interesting to discuss that too.

  104. Timothy and Michael,
    I can tell you there is a great pressure on anyone who deals with SSA to conform to a certain understanding of what causes it and what one should choose to do with their life if they find themselves attracted as such. In your instance you see this pressure coming from the christian perspective as being damaging. I have heard it said by a number of you on this site that no one will find happiness unless they accept they are gay. I also know that kind of attitude can demoralize someone who does not agree with you that the only way someone who is SSA can be happy is to move towards a gay positive life. There is such a sense of hopelessness created by this. I believe that one of the main reasons for the high level of suicided among SSA teens is because of this feeling of hopelessness and a subsequent feeling of not belonging. True society needs to learn how to be more compassionate, but insisting that the only way one should deal with their SSA is to embrace homosexuality is extremely defeatist to someone who just wants to fit into the greater society. The louder this message is presented, I believe the greater the number of suicides we will see. In this case I truly hope that I am wrong.

  105. Evan said in post 105646:
    All I did in my previous messages was to provide at least one example that I know of a person who is not a believer and is not pressured by his family, peers or social setting to adopt a particular identity or behaviour.
    Really, are you sure about that? When this person was growing up how many movies, books, TV shows etc did he see situations were a boy was in love with another boy? How does that compare with the times the story was about a boy in love with a girl? Or stories dealing with mistaken gender that send a message that same gender relationships are a joke or the result of a mistake? How often did he friends make derogatory remarks about gays (perhaps even before they understood what the term meant)?
    Simply because a society doesn’t openly denigrate gays, doesn’t mean there aren’t significant aspects influencing people that they should be straight and that being gay is somehow wrong.

  106. Here’s the citation on gay teen suicide. Do with it what you will and believe what you will. I happen to strongly believe that anti-gay social, family and religious pressure increases the risk of suicide for gay teens. To me, that seems logical. But, hey, that’s just my belief. Maybe those pressures have nothing to do with it, Maybe the Earth is flat. I don’t know.
    According to the Center for Disease Control/Massachusetts Department of Education Youth Risk Behavior Survey (1999), 33% of gay youth will attempt suicide. In fact, gay teen suicide attempts are four times that of heterosexual youth, according to this study — they may be wrong of course.

  107. Timothy – Michael said suicide is the leading cause of death for gay teens. He did not say anything about ideation. I am aware of the research on ideation. I predicted just asking for a citation would generate a reaction and I was right.
    Michael – I also think it is unfair to say that a request for accuracy implies a lack of care of concern. Asking for citations of empirical work regarding specific assertions does not mean anyone is less important or any population should be ignored. No one contested that social/family/religious pressure on same-sex attracted kids is excruciatingly difficult to handle.
    Let me signal this. I will not allow a prolonged flame war here with people questioning motives, caring, etc.

  108. Have you ever really looked into suicide?
    Nope. All of that comes as a complete surprise to me — even though I am a licensed therapist, credentialed to teach psychology at the college level for 20 years, in the mental health field for 30 years, have taught workshops on identifying and treating suicidal patients and have done therapy with many, many depressed and suicidal patiens (on both an inpatient and outpatient basis).
    Nope. Never looked into it. Never read about it. Never researched it. Never had to take course on it to renew my license. Never had to be certified or had to “5150” (involuntarily commit) a gay teen who was determined to die. I am curious. Just what are your credentials?

  109. There have been a number of studies that agree that suicide ideation among gay teens is higher than among heterosexual teens. There is no disputing this fact. And it does not take long to track down the studies.
    We can quibble about whether this number is 2 times, 3 times, or 4 times, but I don’t know that the multiplier is particularly relevant. The fact remains that gay kids are more likely to contemplate suicide than their peers.
    We may talk about old white guys with guns or anything else that can distract us, but yet if we want to discuss this subject with honesty we have to return to the facts. Gay kids are more likely to consider suicide.
    At this point you have to decide on your response. There are more than one. You can
    1. Change the subject really quick,
    2. Deny the studies,
    3. Decide that old white guys with guns are much more important than gay kids,
    4. Argue over the multiplier,
    5. Think, “oh well, they’re gay anyway and it’s probably better they kill themselves”, or
    6. Care

  110. Have you ever really looked into suicide? You stun me with your ignorance of the whole subject. Every 16 minutes someone in this country committs suicide. Those at greatest risk are white men, who have access to a gun, are over the age of 65, and are sick. Depression is one of the obvious predictors of suicide as well as previous suicide attempt. After a person attempts a suicide – they are more likely than others in the population to complete a suicide over the next twenty years. Whites commit suicide more often than minorities. People without families also are more likely.

  111. You guys stun me with your ignorance and insensiivty to this subject. OK. No one preaches that gays will burn. Gay teens hear only positive message about being gay. Suicide for gay teens is probably no higher than their straight counterparts. Just how far can you stick your heads in the sand?
    Have either of you really ever done therapy with gay men? I have two guys in therapy right now who struggle with self-loathing, religious guilt and sucidal ideation — just for being gay. Your debating this while gay guys are trying to kill temsleves makes me so mad I could spit!

  112. OK forget the stastics. Gay teens don’t kill themsleves for being gay and social//relious/famikly pressure has nothing to do with it. Nothing. You guys are right.

  113. I’ve looked at suicide statistics – and have not found on the CDC or any other national suicide stat site those kinds of numbers for gay teens. It is not well documented – in fact – I am beginning to think that the gay teen suicide numbers are not factual and an urban myth. I AM NOT DOUBTUNG THAT GAY TEENS COMMIT SUICIDE – AND THAT TEEN ( as in all teens accounted for) SUICIDE IS HIGHER THAN IN RECENT YEARS. I am doubting the exaggerated reporting of actual numbers.

  114. Michael – It is hard to ask without being accused of being insensitive to the real violence directed at gay teens, but I must ask that you document that. I have not seen anything empirical that would allow a 4 times figure.

  115. Suicide is the leading cause of death for gay teens — 4 times the rate for straight teens. It’s is well documented.

  116. Mary asked in post 105903:
    Can you give me the link to teenage gay suicides?
    Michael was stating his opinion, not a fact, about teen suicides. If you really want information about gay teen suicide just type “teen suicide gay” into your favorite web search engine. Some other qualifiers you can use are CDC and/or MA.
    Robert Garofalo published a paper in 1999 based on an MA survey
    Sexual Orientation and Risk of Suicide Attempts Among a Representative Sample of Youth
    Robert Garofalo, M.D., R. Cameron Wolf, et al.
    Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine
    May 1999, pgs. 487-93

  117. Not interested in “evangelical inside baseball”. I just want to if you think it is potentially harmful (especially to struggling young people) to use these Biblical passages to convince them that they won’t get into Heaven if they “keep it up”. To me, that kind of “teaching” is responsible for many adolescent suicides — a much more important concern than winning an inning at Bible baseball.

  118. Timothy – I think you nailed it. I thought that is what I said in a somewhat different way. The thing that I should have said more clearly as well is that these debates about theological views often lead to off-topic discussions about details and points that lose most readers, especially those who have little desire for evangelical inside baseball. Furthermore, questions about what others believe or teach (Exodus, etc) should be directed to them and not to me to answer or speculate for them.

  119. Michael, J. James,
    Let it be.
    If I can go way out on a limb here and presume to speak for Warren’s beliefs, I’d say he probably believes that homosexual behavior is in opposition to God’s plan for the lives of individuals. He probably would categorize such behavior as sinful.
    But so what?
    There are a great many behaviors that most of us would categorize as sinful, and often with much more Scriptural support than homosexual behavior. And we see these all the time in people that we view as being Christians.
    Further, Warren is aware that a great many Christians differ with him about their understanding of how certain scriptures should be translated or appied to the lives of people today. And while I’m sure he’s confident in his own beliefs, I doubt that Warren is of the opinion that all persons who disagree with him on Scripture are damned to eternal torment.
    I think, based on enough reading here, that Warren is capable of distinguishing between persons who reject God and persons who fall short of the mark or who disagrees about theology. While there are plenty of people who are willing to say that it is impossible to follow Christ and to also be gay, I have yet to see Warren endorse that view.
    As a matter of perspective, I know individuals who believe that consuming alcohol is sin. But few of them believe that those who disagree and have wine with dinner cannot – by definition – be Christian.
    But we’re putting Warren in a position of either / or. Either he has to say that he agrees with us theologically, or he has to defend every scripture and every translation and what about slavery, and what about Paul discouraging marriage, and what about etc. etc. And I think Warren wants to avoid this non-productive and unneccessary debate.
    If I can be ever so presumptuous, I would say that Warren’s short answers would be:

    Is homosexuality sin? Yes, I think so.
    Can gay people be Christian? Yes, I think so.
    Is that a conflict? Well, that’s up to God to deal with.

    I can live with that. Can you?

  120. Warren, combative or not, I do not think you have answered my question or J. James. One last time, do you believe that First Corninthians refers to homosexuality and contains a serious warning for those who continue in such behavior? A simple yes or no would be great.

  121. Ken – As it relates to J James comments, I agree.
    Overall, this thread has drifted from the topic which is the correction in the GCN about the objectives of therapists operating consistently with the SIT framework.
    I actually very surprised no one commented on the audio clip I posted of the caller to the SIgnorile show. She indicated in contrast to claims promoted by the GCN that I did not try to alter her wife’s sexuality but rather did exactly what we later organized in the SIT framework.
    J James – your comments are repeatedly combative. I will delete any further comments that detracts from the ability to freely and safely comment. Please review the commenting guidelines. Further violations will result in being unable to comment here.

  122. Ken,
    There is another reason I thought about and forgot to mention in the previous post. I think in the case of men, a strong factor to go against homosexual attractions and behaviour is something akin to physical and moral pride, that is present in culture but it may actually have some biological support coming from what masculinity naturally is. The idea that a penetrated man is a demasculinised one has a long historical record and it’s very probably not purely cultural. I think not only men think like that, but women too see a penetrated man or even a man who has sex with men to be less credible in his masculine identity.
    Let’s say you ask such a man who goes against his attractions to clarify his reasons: you will only hear reasons that have been cognitively processed, fully reasoned out, and you could conclude that his reasons are what he told you or something related to that (like social pressure), althout they could be just rational constructions to justify something deeper and linked to the biological status of masculinity. That is both an individual gender sense and a group-regulated one.

  123. Ken,

    If a black man wanted to become white, would you not want to consider his motivations about why he wanted this?

    We still don’t know exactly what sexual orientation is to be able to compare it with anything else. True, though, that you can logically ask questions of this sort when identities are involved.

    Evan, why do you think that gays (who want to change) wish to become straight? What do you believe is behind their motivations? And what amount (not exact percentages, just generalizations will do fine: “the majority”, “most”, “very few”, “an insignificant number” etc) are influenced by different factors/motivations?

    To fully answer this question I would have to do some extensive research in more than one country (if I were qualified to). All I did in my previous messages was to provide at least one example that I know of a person who is not a believer and is not pressured by his family, peers or social setting to adopt a particular identity or behaviour. There could be a lot more than this person; if we don’t hear them talk it does not mean they do not exist. We have to take into account the profile of the person who is most likely to expose himself as someone with unwanted SSAs who wants to be able to be primarily attracted to the opposite sex. The person I know is extremely shy and prefers to use self-help books and some regular therapy, which in Europe is mostly about the old paradigm of psychoanalysis. I have been talking to this person and others I came upon in a number of online groups to hear their stories and try to make sense of how their accounts match the existing research on the subject. Most of them do motivate their resolve to change by their religious beliefs, which are not always Christian (some are Islamic or Baha’i). However a number of SSA strugglers are actually atheists who either were into gay relationships for a number of years and then pulled out completely of any gay life or never had any relationships. I don’t know about each case, but for those people I talked to or read their stories, they were actually accepted as gays by their parents or friends. There isn’t much hate towards gays going around here in Europe, the Christian groups are not so popular and society is much more secular than what it appears to be the case in the US society. So social pressure doesn’t seem to play the biggest role in the picture, at least not direct social pressure.
    I could speculate on the reasons why some people choose to go against their primary attractions (some of them actually explained their reasons):
    – desire to start a family in a traditional way for reasons other than religious or direct pressure from their own family or peers (“This is the only way I can be happy” told me one man)
    – dislike or total discomfort with the homosexual type of sexual act (whether they went through a number of acts and they were completely dissatisfied or they could not actually match their attractions with the usual way of having homosexual sex)
    – having a childhood history and a puberty devoid of any same-sex attractions – they were only attracted to girls up until the end of their puberty when they gradually started experiencing same-sex attractions they now cannot identify with, due to their complete OSA past record
    – having a long history of involvement in the gay life full of addictions, relationship volatility, loneliness, etc., and wanting to reach a new type of balance in their life, outside homosexual identity or lifestyle, even if that would not include any opposite-sex relationships
    – being in a heterosexual relationship or marriage that they find emotionally satisfying but also being troubled by their same-sex attractions
    – indirect pressure coming from the existence of a majority model in society that is also the only reproductive type of pairing (the power of the social setting can have some psychological influences as this type of reproductive pairing is, at least, perceived to be more stable than any other type).
    The last one is very interesting to discuss. I can imagine that gay advocates could argue for promoting alternative models to reduce the effect of this indirect pressure, but I am not sure if providing such a model would effectively change people’s perception that opposite-sex relationship are more life-creating by their nature, involving the interaction of different genders. But in this case, one could not blame society for actually producing more opposite-sex couples. It’s not a matter of oppression or discrimination, it’s just a natural outcome. If you have such a widespread type of opposite-sex coupling and that is perceived to be both livelier and indifferently more successful than any other type of coupling, I think that can have very profound unconscious effects on people who do not participate in that model (whether they are of alternative sexual orientation or not, whether they are single or not).

  124. Well, for all this “social pressure” for folks to come out gay….there certainly are plenty of us around who’ve been devastated in the wake of the opposite sort of pressure.

  125. Patrick writes: “Your argument would appear to try to prove too much. Since Christians believe everyone is a sinner- following your argument – everyone would be beyond being saved. Obviously #2 is in question – obviously sin does not necessarily entail complete estrangement from God.”
    Well, it would be really nice if Warren would just answer my question “What did I get wrong?”. Then we’d know exactly what he believes and we can stop guessing.

  126. Booo…..
    You know it’s true. You heard the samething as I have in gay circles, on blogs etc… I don’t need to gather the obvious for your benefit.

  127. Well, I think you can find that out. Let’s see – anyone who writes that ex gays should give up and just accept that they are gay. People who criticise those who are against homosexuality as being really gays in the closet and etc…. Booooooo ….. I did not say it was equal or the same – but there is social pressure. You know it – you’ve heard it.
    So, no links to gay activists who say any attraction you feel MUST be acted upon, then? I mean, it was your claim, so you should really be the one to back it up.

  128. Boo,
    I “think” Mary is saying that the general consesus from most people, including gay advocates, is that any SSA means confirmation that one is gay and should accept it.. I’m not sure if it also means they will act upon it but acceptance is advocated. Rearely have I seen encouragement from the gay community for those who seek another path or perspective. It is an ongoing theme on blogs.

  129. Ken – whatever. I’ve heard it all too much as an ex gay. Perhaps you have not paid attention.

  130. J James:
    Your argument would appear to try to prove too much. Since Christians believe everyone is a sinner- following your argument – everyone would be beyond being saved.
    Obviously #2 is in question – obviously sin does not necessarily entail complete estrangement from God.

  131. J. James said in post 105530:
    And, in fact, I am very interested in what you have to say. I am not “speculating” but rather trying to understand what you really believe.
    Based on the extremely confrontational comments you’ve posted previously, I don’t buy this claim that you are “trying to understand”. Rather, I think you are just looking for ammunition to denigrate Warren’s (and others) beliefs that you disagree with.

  132. Mary said in post 105511
    I did not say they were equal.
    No, you implied it by giving a vague response attempting to counter the topic of how societal influences could pressure gays into wanting to be straight.
    But there are pressures that if a person feels an inkling of same sex attraction then they MUST act on it and if they don’t they are denying who they really are and succumbing to social presurre. Isn’t that the usual mantra of gay activists?
    No this is not the “usual mantra” of gay activists. And for you to claim it is, indicates you haven’t really been paying attention. While I’m sure you could dredge up some far left nut-cases who does urge what you claim, they would not even come close to being a societal influence.

  133. Warren wrote: “I have addressed your questions. Speculate all you want, I do not think you are interested in what I have to say.”
    I disagree with you.
    To say that you have “addressed” my points is deceptive because it implies that you have given a full answer, and you have not yet done that.
    And, in fact, I am very interested in what you have to say. I am not “speculating” but rather trying to understand what you really believe. This is what I think you believe:
    1. To be saved, you must have a “personal relationship” with God.
    2. Sin leads to estrangement from God.
    3. If you are estranged from God, then you cannot have a “personal relationship” with him.
    4. Homosexual behavior is sin.
    5. Since homosexual behavior is a sin, it leads to estrangement from God (point #2).
    6. Since homosexual behavior leads to estrangement from God, people who do it cannot have a “personal relationship” with God (point #3).
    7. Since people who practice homosexual behavior cannot have a “personal relationship” with God, then they cannot be saved (point #1).
    You have said “No, you are not correct”. But from your own words, I know that points 1, 2, and 4 (above) are, in fact, what you believe because you wrote them on this very post. So I can’t be completely incorrect. My error must be in numbers 3, 5, 6, or 7. I deduce numbers 5 through 7 based on what you’ve written and I deduce number 3 based on the meanings of “estrangement” and “personal relationship”.
    Where am I wrong? I implore you to correct me. To accuse me of not being interested in what you have to say is completely incorrect. I really, really want you to tell me how I have misunderstood your beliefs.

  134. Well, I think you can find that out. Let’s see – anyone who writes that ex gays should give up and just accept that they are gay. People who criticise those who are against homosexuality as being really gays in the closet and etc…. Booooooo ….. I did not say it was equal or the same – but there is social pressure. You know it – you’ve heard it.

  135. I did not say they were equal. But there are pressures that if a person feels an inkling of same sex attraction then they MUST act on it and if they don’t they are denying who they really are and succumbing to social presurre. Isn’t that the usual mantra of gay activists?
    Please provide a link to a gay activist stating that one MUST act on whatever attraction one feels. I can’t think of any gay activists offhand who believe in compulsory sex.

  136. Ken,
    I did not say they were equal. But there are pressures that if a person feels an inkling of same sex attraction then they MUST act on it and if they don’t they are denying who they really are and succumbing to social presurre. Isn’t that the usual mantra of gay activists?

  137. Evan asked in post 105379 :
    in the US society then why do some people from the US (gay and ex-ex-gay advocates) think about other people’s motivation, to see some of their attractions unwanted, only in terms of social pressure?
    Because a person’s motivations are important. Esp. if his motivations are based on wrong information or unrealistic goals. If a black man wanted to become white, would you not want to consider his motivations about why he wanted this?
    Do SSA strugglers not have their own motivations before joining a group or another?
    I’m sure they do, the question is what motivates them, not what group they join because of those motivations.
    If people’s motivations are entirely determined by groups or society then what much scope for personal decisions do they have?
    Who is claiming people aren’t allowed to make personal decisions?
    Evan, why do you think that gays (who want to change) wish to become straight? What do you believe is behind their motivations? And what amount (not exact percentages, just generalizations will do fine: “the majority”, “most”, “very few”, “an insignificant number” etc) are influenced by different factors/motivations?

  138. Mary said in post 105294:
    I can also think of a number of social pressures that influence people to be other than totally heterosexual.
    Somehow I doubt these “social pressures” you speak of do anything to convince straight be people to seek out therapy to become gay. Nor do I think they even come close to the kind of thing Jayhuck and I (and others previously) are referring to. Maybe I’m not aware of all the pressures to be gay that you are referring to, so perhaps you can tell us of some of these social pressures you speak of and compare them to the societal influences that urge gay people to become straight.

  139. Evan,
    I was merely explaining the irony you were speaking of in your previous comment.
    I wasn’t speaking of the motivations of individuals. I certainly have no problem with that and I understand that various folks may have all sorts of reasons for being uncomfortable with their same sex attractions. I wasn’t talking at all about most of anything you addressed in that long reply….let alone the SIT. I’ve been very supportive of the SIT. (as if it really matters what I think! ha!)

  140. Pam and Jayhuck,
    The thrust behind my comment was to allow for some tolerance when we think about other people’s motivations.
    If it’s such a hoohah – Pam, as you said – in the US society then why do some people from the US (gay and ex-ex-gay advocates) think about other people’s motivation, to see some of their attractions unwanted, only in terms of social pressure? It’s not so self-evident. If you have debate, it means you actually are free to express opposing views, that is, to have different motivations. It means that your options are not predefined, nor should other people’s options define yours. Do SSA strugglers not have their own motivations before joining a group or another? Are their motivations completely shaped by what group they become part of? I am referring to how conflicts specific to one society could shape people’s motivations. I don’t think the situation is very different in Europe, what is different is that it doesn’t get so publicly confrontational as in the US. But there aren’t more gays here thanks to that. You see what I mean?
    Being an outside observer can give me a more detached view of what is going on in the US, at least at the level of communication between the opposing parties. That comes with some limitations, but at least I’m not part of the anger stirred by the debate. Whether you need to hear someone like that or not, it’s your call. I will say my opinion nevertheless.
    As for what is going on in your country, I thought that’s what it meant to live in ‘the land of the free’, to be self-determined, not a mere accessory to some opposing groups. If people’s motivations are entirely determined by groups or society then what much scope for personal decisions do they have? Is it so straightforwardly clear that we can simply put the finger on it and call it ‘social pressure’? Is that what we think about people’s value and their ability to make judgements for themselves? I think this kind of thinking looks down on people’s capacity to make decisions or think for themselves. It’s like you have a decision-making machine before you and know before by what inputs it’s fueled and what outputs it produces. I lived my early life under a Communist regime and this kind of thinking – that people should not be taken to be able to come up with their own motivations for their actions – strikes me as being terribly familiar. I know this kind of thinking that says ‘we know why you do that and what’s best for you’ very well. I just hate to see it revived in a great democracy, like the US. You never fully know why all other people do what they do, you might have an approximate idea for most of them based on what you think they think, but not for all. Where does all the anger wasted on what some people decide to do with their lives come from, then? It doesn’t limit other people’s options to identify how they please. I think it’s great that people in your country get professional support in working out their sexual identity difficulties. But I don’t understand what problem does that cause for the rest of the people. I think the SIT is a great idea and it’s a pity that so many other people from outside the US don’t benefit from its support in their struggle. The friends I mentioned here in many other messages just have to do with that ‘gender deficit’ literature coming from the Mendinger-Nicolosi camp (that’s what they told me). In this respect, people from your country get a lot better support from a therapy with no predefined outcome.

  141. I can also think of a number of social pressures that influence people to be other than totally heterosexual.

  142. Evan,
    I can think of a number of societal pressures and influences that might make a person – even an atheist – do what you said this person you know is doing. Its really not that hard once you think about it.

  143. Evan said in post 105090:
    I’m from Europe and I know at least one person who is an atheist and a struggler with unwanted SSAs. I’ve a very inquisitive mind when it comes to human motivation (I’m also interested in the research on this issue of sexual attractions), so I tried to understand what would make such a man go against his primary attractions.
    Are you trying to say you have no idea why this might be? that you can think of no societal influences that might cause this?

  144. Evan,
    While I appreciate Wayne Besen for many things he does, he doesn’t really speak for the entire gay community – and his views may be a bit more over to one side than those of other people.

  145. And no Mary, I am not “going through a tough time with a friend or somehting”. I am having a tough time with you guys. I am having a tough time with people saying that homosexuality is a “sin”, that it is “outside God’s will and design” — and then what looks like a stubborn refusal to follow through. What does the rest of the passage mean to you?
    Many “Bible believing” Christians have boldly insisted for years that Scripture is so clear on this issue (Alan Chambers calls it “evil”) that they should have no fellowship with such people (Frank Worthen), that they shouldn’t even eat with people like me (John Smid) — but from you guys no willingness to say whether or not you think unrepentant homosexual behavior will block one’s entrance to Heaven.
    What do your churches teach about this question? Do you have an opinion at least? Why is it “combative” to ask you to state clearly what you believe? I have no problem saying what I believe. Why do you?
    I am not asking you to “judge”. I am asking what you believe. I don’t understand what looks like Scriptural wimpiness — when you guys use the Bible to back up your strong contention that homosexual behavior is “sin” buit go soft on the last part iof this passage with the “who am I to juidge? cop-out”.

  146. It’s ironic that people who plead for sexual diversity also throw all others’ reasons to consider some desires unwanted into one narrow category of religious bigots and self-haters. It’s like you only want diversity to work in one way — your way.

    Evan,
    Yes, and this is one of the things that keeps progressive understanding between each other stagnant.

  147. So I take it none of you believe that continuing to act on homosexual attractions has eternal consequences. No Hell. No punishment for “disobeying”. Curious! So many people claim that the first part of this passage is clearly speaking of homosexuality — and they do not hesitate to say so — Frank Worhten and Alan Chambers, for example. Then when you ask, “what about the last part of the verse? Is this a salvation issue?”, everybody gets kinda vague. Very curious.
    You will say it’s “sin”, that it is “contrary to God’s will and design”, that I am outside of God’s will if I “do it” — but no one is willing to back up the END of this passage — except maybe Eddy who thinks it’s referring to consequence HERE on Earth (not experiencing God’s fullness). So if it’s not a matter of what happens to gays hereafter, why is everyone so concerned about gayness as “sin” — just because it may block us from blessing here, but not hereafter?
    If you guys ( including Mary, Eddy and Warren) don’t beieve that it has eternal, salvation-threatening consequences, would you kindly make that very clear to member of the gay Christian community? May I quote you that you think the passage does not mean “not inheriting eternal life”?
    Joihn Smid of Love In Action just told a friend of mine that Corinthians cleary forbids her from even eating with me. Frank Worthen encourages his followers to have nothing to do with us — because “light has no fellowship with darkness”.
    Maybe you guys could write EXODUS and encourage them to lay off the guilt-induction and the graphic descripions of the flames of Hell?

  148. Evan,
    The reason many tend to do this..

    It’s ironic that people who plead for sexual diversity also throw all others’ reasons to consider some desires unwanted into one narrow category of religious bigots and self-haters.

    is the very thing you discussed in your entire comment. In our country there IS a big hoohah over gays/exgays, sin/not sin, wanted/unwanted. Since we live HERE we have to function HERE. I think Europe sounds much more lovely as far as this particular issue goes. But I’m not in Europe. Over here…it’s just a GREAT BIG DEAL and we have to deal with that. You can’t very well fault U.S. citizens for not functioning as if we live in Europe when we live here and have to put up with a bunch of things that you don’t put up with over there.

  149. Wayne Besen wrote:
    The idea of “wanted” and “unwanted” attractions does not reflect reality. It is like saying, “wanted” and “unwanted” green eyes. No one except extremely troubled individuals with unresolved religious guilt can take such a “debate” seriously.
    I have to disagree with you. I don’t live in the US, where there is a particular debate about that (gays vs ex-gays), but there is more to people that meets your eye. I’m from Europe and I know at least one person who is an atheist and a struggler with unwanted SSAs. I’ve a very inquisitive mind when it comes to human motivation (I’m also interested in the research on this issue of sexual attractions), so I tried to understand what would make such a man go against his primary attractions. His family knows about his difficulty, they never pressured him to go in any direction, he was not harassed by other people to comply with a type of behaviour or identity (he never assumed one), but still he told me his motivation is to have a family with wife and kids. He says he doesn’t see himself happy in any other way. I can only respect that and I want people who keep talking as if they know better for anyone one else to become aware of human diversity even if that contradicts their own assumptions.
    I am aware of the clash of views on homosexuality in the US, but consider that in Europe there’s no such fuss of this proportion, either against it or ‘affirmative’. Maybe they go together somehow. I’m not saying it’s a positive or a negative.
    To return to the original argument and conclude with, ‘unwanted’ desire can be unwanted for more than religious reasons or direct social pressure. Some people told me, for instance, that their attractions are just ‘visual’ and they don’t feel the need to actually go further than that. I also know a number of men with same-sex attractions who are married with kids and have a good sex life. Others don’t. Diversity works in many ways for different people. It’s ironic that people who plead for sexual diversity also throw all others’ reasons to consider some desires unwanted into one narrow category of religious bigots and self-haters. It’s like you only want diversity to work in one way — your way.
    BTW, eye colour is genetically inherited, we’ll see about sexuality.

  150. This verse has brought me comfort many times – there is NO one on this blog or very many other places who has sinned or made more mistakes than myself. There seems to be some references on this thread about who is going where after we pass on from this life – I am sending this verse for no one in particular but if it is interpreted by you the way I interpret it, then I hope it brings you comfort as well. Sometimes I think we are the ones who banishe ourselves from God rather than being banished by Him.
    2 Samuel 14:14 (New International Version)
    14 Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.

  151. Michael,
    I believe that the reference in Leviticus is more pertinent to the times of the people then. All the rules dealing with food, cleanliness etc… I interpret as being ways of protecting a rather small tribe of people and growing it. I do follow some of those cleanliness rules as they will still protect a person from some infectious diseases today. That is for me. As for the scripture in Corinthians – that can be interpreted soooo many ways. I have not a conclusion for anyone on that. As for gays and homosexuals going to hell – well I’m kinda of with Pam on that. That’s not my call. God looks into the hearts of all of us and quite truthfully I have my own stuff to deal with rather than getting into some discussion about someone else’s sexuality (there’s more to it than just gay and straight issues in there). Being gay or accepting your sexual orientation as immutable does not mean God hates gays or anyone should hate themselves for being such. It means to each person who it concerns – whatever it means. Not my call. For me – homosexuality is a sin. That is to say that if Mary engaged in homosexuality it would be a sin. That is a personal understanding between myself and my God. Now, for Michael – homosexuality is not a sin. And I am not saying that because it is a sin for me it must be a sin for you – no. I am saying what is between you and your creator is between you and your creator. I am not privy to that very private relationship.

  152. I don’t have the answer either BUT many churches believe that ‘the kingdom of God’ is here on earth…while we’re alive. To them, ‘not inheriting the kingdom of God’ means that those people will not experience the fullness of God’s riches and blessings while on earth.
    I’d need to look into how Mormon’s interpret it…they are regarded as extremely conservative. They regard homosexual behavior as sin but–from something I just read this week–they don’t believe in Hell. (I never knew this.)
    Why do I suddenly have this lyric running through my head: “I can swear there ain’t no heaven and I pray there ain’t no hell.” (Ah…”And When I Die” as performed by Blood Sweat and Tears…I’m thinking Laura Nyro wrote it.) –That’s one I haven’t pulled out for karaoke yet.

  153. Michael?
    Are you going through a tough time with a friend or something? You seem more combative??
    I thought I did answer. Well before you even asked the question.

  154. Once again, I am not asking someone to “judge another person’s salvation” or “judge their heart.” I am asking what they think this passage means. There is an important difference.
    I am a Presbyterian, and we Presbyterisns put a great emphasis on clearly “saying what we believe.” It’s an important part of every service — “Now, let us say what we believe…”
    The question is a very important one. This particular passage has been used for years and years to convince gays that they had better change “or else” (not inherit the Kingdom of God) — with devastating emotional and spiritual results. In light of this, many have abandoned both faith and hope.
    But, I understand that neither Mary nor Warren really want to answer this question, so I will lay off.

  155. Michael,
    In the end, each can only speak for themselves. I can’t really imagine what course I would choose if I WERE gay. Besides, interpreting a scripture to mean that gay behavior (the sexual one) is sin still doesn’t mean the person can tell you that you’re going to hell. I may as well tell my cohort who drives a BMW while children starve in Africa that she’s going to hell if she doesn’t stop making payments on that thing and driving it around….it makes no sense to do such a thing. We can all make judgements about what sin is all day long…but none of us can judge the others heart and determine who goes to hell or not.

  156. Timothy: I disagree when you say “there’s no cause to insist that they tell you how they interpret some specific passage.” These are the passages that lead gays to self-loathing and suicide. If they don’t think it means gays will go to Hell if they keep doing it, I think they have a responsibility to not be so evasive. With gay lives at stake, why can’t they just say what they believe?

  157. In the end – we all see things differently. I’m supposin’ that God’s got everything in the right place.

  158. Guys,
    I’m with Pam and Mary on this one. Warren is under no obligation to agree with me about issues of salvation, sin, inheriting the kingdom, or any other theological mystery.
    Sure it can be fun to debate Scripture. And it can be interesting to know what others believe. But unless they are trying to beat you over the head with their faith or trying to judge you, there’s no cause to insist that they tell you how they interpret some specific passage.

  159. Here, here! Pam – I agree with you. What is the big hoopla over what others have to say about my salvation or what I think of my own salvation? The sure observer knows my heart and not anyone else really. And for the record, I too DO NOT believe that someone is going to hell because they are gay.

  160. For the record….I don’t think gay people are going to hell. That’s a conclusion I’ve made based on my interpretations.
    With that out of the way…I just can’t for the life of me understand why it matters so much what other human beings think about whether or not one of us is going to hell or not.
    “He who will not be named” has strongly implied publicly that he believes I’m going to hell just because I’m letting gay people be Christians.(as if) But, I could really care less what the guy thinks. I figure he’ll be up there, but hopefully the place will be big enough that our paths won’t cross. He might decide to leave once he sees that God let me in. 😉 (he has a website dedicated to rooting out gay Christians)
    I know that Dr. T and I have some pretty wide gaps in political and theological views, but I’m not looking to him as my judge. I don’t understand why others seem to be so concerned with it. I haven’t read ONE scripture that says any of us get to decide these things about the others.
    Furthermore, Dr. T. has presented evidence to show that not all of his clients pursue the path of denying their same sex attractions….and he continues to counsel them.
    J. James, are you a Christian? If you are, then why do you give Dr. T. such clout when there’s no scripture to back that up? If not, then why does it matter?

  161. Michael – There are lots of stuff in that Corinthians list. My stance is that I am not called to judge the standing of another (Rom 2).

  162. Warren: You still haven’t answered the question about salvation and First Corinthians. Feels like you are dodging to me. According to your own understanding of this passage, will gays “not inheriet the kingdom of God” if they continue to act on the homosexual attractions with no repentance? Please, a clear answer. EXODUS does the polka around this question. Please don’t do likewise.
    Mary: Yeah, you make yourself clear. I just see red when I hear “ex-gays” make this into a “rights” issue — when what we are calling for is honesty and justice. No one is seriously suggesting that you don’t have the right ot live any way you please. I just feel EXODUS over-uses it’s right to lie. That being said, I will butt out of your private conversation.

  163. J James wrote:

    Yes, it’s another dodge. If you don’t stop being gay, then you will fry, roasting and screaming in hell forever. Correct, Warren? A simple “yes” or “no” will suffice.

    and then…

    Warren wrote, “J James – No, you are not correct.”
    But you refuse to elaborate further. Just a blanket “wrong” and then you zip your lips. Why not open up like you did when witnessing to me?

    I have addressed your questions. Speculate all you want, I do not think you are interested in what I have to say.

  164. Michael,
    My comments were not to you – duh???? But you interjected yourself into a response I made in particular to a specific post. How much more clear can I be? You asked for clarification – I kept trying to give it to you and kept reminding you that my response was to a certain post. I am not attacking you – I am defending my life and life choices against something specific that someone else wrote. IS THAT CLEAR? Geez! It was not about you.
    And what is ex gay for a woman I have come to believe is much different than what is ex gay for a man. In fact – I am starting to believe that homosexuality for men and women are entirely different subjects.

  165. It may surprise you, Mary, but I agree with (almost) every word of your 2nd paragraph — except the word “ex-gay” (which I have gone on about endlessly because I think it is dishonest and misleading.)
    Never-the-less, I have absolutely NO PROBLEM with people who have “found peace with their lives” or who choose not to act on their ongoing homosexual orientation. NO PROBLEM. That is their right. That is their right. That is their absolute right. Do I make myself clear enough on that?
    I agree that there is nothing wrong with that nor is there anything wrong with seeking counseling for that — and I have never said otherwise, at the top of my lungs or otherwise.

  166. Warren wrote, “J James – No, you are not correct.”
    But you refuse to elaborate further. Just a blanket “wrong” and then you zip your lips. Why not open up like you did when witnessing to me?
    Let me help you along. Here is my train of logic, from what I understand about your religious beliefs:
    1. To be saved, you must have a “personal relationship” with God.
    2. Sin leads to estrangement from God.
    3. If you are estranged from God, then you cannot have a “personal relationship” with him.
    4. Homosexual behavior is sin.
    5. Since homosexual behavior is a sin, it leads to estrangement from God (point #2).
    6. Since homosexual behavior leads to estrangement from God, people who do it cannot have a “personal relationship” with God (point #3).
    7. Since people who practice homosexual behavior cannot have a “personal relationship” with God, then they cannot be saved (point #1).
    Please indicate which one is incorrect according to your religion and why.
    I think you’re trying to wiggle out of this. You certainly look like you’re being less than forthcoming.

  167. Miachael,
    You are taking this all too personal. I was referring to a particular post.

    The idea of “wanted” and “unwanted” attractions does not reflect reality. It is like saying, “wanted” and “unwanted” green eyes. No one except extremely troubled individuals with unresolved religious guilt can take such a “debate” seriously.
    For the overwhelming majority of people, what they “want” makes little difference in regard to sexual orientation. They are who they are – like it or not. Attempts to change this often do great harm and are essentially meaningless – no matter what name the therapist gives the therapy.

    I know ex gay survivor’s have suffered at the hands of not so good ministry and under suspicious doctrines and practices.
    I am talking about those of us who have not and have found peace with our lives and are ex gay. We are here and we choose these lives and we do not want to live a gay life. There is nothing wrong with that nor is there anything wrong with seeking counseling for that. There is nothing useless about that to people like myself.
    If we don’t like something about ourselves we are able to change parts of ourselves. It’s not a like it or not option. Not all of us have extreme religious guilt. We do have a different opinion about our religion than that of other people who have come to different conclusions. And there is a meaningful and personal growth for ourselves that comes from such experiences.
    I am not saying this is for everyone. I am refuting the “all people should see things my way as the right way” doctrine of any kind.

  168. Mary, you said: “Those who insist that this is harmful and useless can say so at the top of their lungs. “
    You obviously didn’t attend the Ex-gay Survivor Conference last June in Irvine CA. None of those 100 + people attending raised their voices “at the top of their lungs”. We did sing, talk and pray. No one shouted. No one insisted that the “ex-gay” experience was completely harmful or “useless” — just that it is often harmful, particularly when EXODUS is dishonest about “change” or when EXODUS groups kick them to the curb when they admit they haven’t “changed”..
    It’s not “useless”. It certainly wasn’t “useless” for me. Far from it. For many Ex-gay Survivors it was a step in self-acceptance, deeper faith in Jesus and a part of our “coming out” as gay Christians. Many gained a better understanding of Scripture, a firmer belief in God’s love and true friends. People shared both the postive and negative things they had gained through the experience.
    The most moving exercise was done in complete silence — as we wrote our own thoughts and feelings on a huge piece of paper entitled “Ex-gay Experiences — Good and Bad.” It was a very moving and healing experience. No one bashed EXODUS or yelled.
    There were quiet voices, laughter and tears. Feeling something passionately is not the same thing as “shouting it at tthe top of our lungs”. Sometimes the truth sounds loud because it is the truth. You can read more about it at beyondexgay.com.

  169. There are many issues where true believers come to different conclusions.

    Dr. T.,
    Maybe you could put this up at the top of the blog or as a tagline or something. 😉
    just an idea since it seems like i’ve seen several people off and on throughout the course of many threads try and get you to send them to hell.

  170. Michael,
    Just reiterating the point. That reality is sibjective to the individual and some people really do have unwanted attractions. That those who seek to change will experience a different outcome is reality and one that an individual can choose.
    Those who insist that this is harmful and useless can say so at the top of their lungs. Keep in mind, others experience life differently (as gays have been saying for a long time) and each has a right to do so.

  171. Mary: I do read ALL posts. I was just noticing what seems to be a pattern with you. When people disagree with you, you often tend to frame your response as a “rights” issue — as though we (or someone) is asserting that you don’t have the right to live your life the way you choose. Of course you do.
    I have noticed that EXODUS does this a lot, too. They insist they have the “right”, as though someone was insting that they don’t. For me, this is not a “rights” issue, it’s a honesty issue. I have no quarrel with EXODUS or those who choose an “ex-gay” lifestyle, as long as they are honest about it.

  172. Micahel,
    Please read ll posts. You will notice I was responding to ONE in particular.

  173. Mary: “Until such time – people have a right to self determine what they will do with their life.”
    I noticed you keep saying this over and over — as though someone is suggesting that you don’t have the right. I don’t get it. Disagreeing with you in no way implies that you don’t have the right to do whatever you please.
    What people don’t seem to have the ability to self-determine is which gender they will be attracted to. That seems pretty much built in. Behavior is a choice. Sexual orientation is not.

  174. Wanted v Unwanted. People change many things about themselves. The orign of sexuality has not been determined to be completely biological or environmental. Until such time – people have a right to self determine what they will do with their life.

  175. The idea of “wanted” and “unwanted” attractions does not reflect reality. It is like saying, “wanted” and “unwanted” green eyes. No one except extremely troubled individuals with unresolved religious guilt can take such a “debate” seriously.
    For the overwhelming majority of people, what they “want” makes little difference in regard to sexual orientation. They are who they are – like it or not. Attempts to change this often do great harm and are essentially meaningless – no matter what name the therapist gives the therapy.

  176. I can’t believe I didn’t catch this.
    Warren wrote:
    “Not a dodge Michael but an oversight. No, I do not agree with what you say Evangelicals believe. Salvation is a matter of relationship to Christ. A personal relationship with God is established then and judgment is not mine.”
    Okay, you’re saved by a “personal relationship”. However, Warren has already stated the following: “Sin leads to estrangement from God.”
    Warren already stated that a “personal realtionship” saves, and “estrangement” obviously prevents a “personal relationship”. In other words, if you keep sinning, then you will be “estranged” from God (by definition) and thus can’t have a “personal relationship” with God (by definition) and thus will braise in hell, tortured by fire, forever and ever.
    Yes, it’s another dodge. If you don’t stop being gay, then you will fry, roasting and screaming in hell forever. Correct, Warren? A simple “yes” or “no” will suffice.

  177. Michael and Warren,
    I am REALLY sorry for butting in like this, but I just wanted to say that the Orthodox Church, to which I belong – which is by any definition very conservative – doesn’t ever make pronouncements about someone’s salvation. No one can know another person’s heart. Many people in the Bible were taken to be with God who didn’t follow what might be considered prescribed paths. I’m guessing most Christians – at least those working really hard on BEING Christians, wouldn’t make such a pronouncement either. Of course the OC doesn’t really believe in the saved concept either – at least not in the way that Evangelicals do as a single point in time event – we see Salvation in past, present and future tenses – you usually hear people say, I was saved, I’m being saved, I will be saved.
    However – I will say that while growing up in an Evangelical community and church, I did hear my fair share of sermons regarding fire and brimstone for homosexuals, as well as hearing more than a few, almost gleeful, people talk about how they were saved and how homosexuals and the like would be going to hell. Hell has been used by Christians at times to make themselves feel better – or to feel superior

  178. Not a dodge Michael but an oversight.
    No, I do not agree with what you say Evangelicals believe. Salvation is a matter of relationship to Christ. A personal relationship with God is established then and judgment is not mine.

  179. Warren is right. It is true that Evangelicals are not monolithic. There are a growing number of evangelicals like me (both gay and straight) who fully believe in the diety of Christ, His payment for sin on the cross, his physical resurrection from the dead, etc. — all of the basic tenets of Christianity — but who have come to the conclusion, after much study, discussion and prayer, that homosexuality is not always sinful.
    We gay affirming evangelicals believe that it CAN be sin — just as heterosexuality CAN be sin. For us, “sin” is a matter of the heart, a question of motivation and intent. We do not pick and choose which Old Testament laws to obey, which to ignore and which to impose on others — as most other evangelicals do. We base our morality not on Old Testament Law, but on the New Testament teachings of Christ — in particular the over-arching principle of the Golden Rule.
    Warren is right that I agree with him on all of the other theological points, above. You will notice that he did dodge a bit in his response. He didn’t address the question of whether or not folks go to Hell if they “keep doing it”. Evangelicals almost always believe that they will. How about you, Warren?

  180. Jayhuck – Evangelicals are not monolithic (although I think it is 80-20) on homosexuality. I suspect for example, that Michael believes what I wrote there. However, via study of the Bible he comes to different conclusions. There are many issues where true believers come to different conclusions.

  181. Warren,
    You actually did a pretty good job of describing a general Christian view of the human condition – even gay Christians for the most part. I grew up in an Evangelical church/town but have moved to a more historically/traditional/liturgic church and in my walk I’ve heard many describe their belief that man’s sin – in the Garden – was one of disobedience (wanting to be God though wasn’t the important part) – The disagreement seems to be on what the Bible actually says about homosexuality – especially as we understand it today – the words that were used to describe it – other parts of the Bible that are complicated and problematic- and what it doesn’t say about homosexuality – as well as who never talked about it at all.
    I know you were just giving the Evangelical perspective, but I thought it worth mentioning these other things. What conservative Evangelicals might have in common with more liberal Evangelicals or other Churches and how they seem to differ around the subject of homosexuality.

  182. J James
    I do not get the sense that you have read the SIT framework. It does nothing you attribute to it. I would like to see references from the framework which support your allegations about it.
    However, I will address your question.
    Evangelicals (I am one) on the whole view human nature as inherently flawed due to the choice of Adam and Eve to disobey God’s injunction to avoid a certain fruit. Wanting to be God, they disobeyed. Because of this act, subsequent humans inherit a nature that leads people away from trusting and communing with God (fallen human nature). Out of that state, people are prone to commit many sins, homosexual behavior being just one. For an evangelical Christian, acting on homosexual desire is wrong, not because of its consequences (often there are none) nor because of some inherent disorder (i.e., natural law), but because the Bible teaches it is. No sin is more sinful than any other in that they all grow out of the same human nature. Sin leads to estrangement from God. However, people may enter a personal relationship with God when they believe the death of Christ, God’s Son was done to satisfy God’s need for justice. That death was God’s sacrifice of love in place of humans who deserve the punishment for their sins and their sinful condition, so that God could look at the person whose sins are forgiven as if that person had never sinned. The Just for the unjust; the Lamb for sinners slain. The capacity to sin in real time is not erased, however, but a new relationship with God is established. I once was lost but now I am found, was blind but now I see.
    Pretty fantastical, huh?
    I give that detail because your question about homosexuality being a sin requires you have some understanding of how Evangelicals view the human condition. Considering an action a sin doesn’t of necessity lead to any of the consequences you believe flow from such a view. All people are sinners in the Evangelical mindset. However, all people, being in God’s image and the objects of redemption, are of immense worth and value as well. No sin is greater than any other; we are all in the same boat.
    My view of human nature also leads me to believe everyone has an individual relationship with God. I cannot and should not try to make someone else comply with how I see things. I also think this is the way the counseling profession has developed. One may not impose values or beliefs on another and in fact, it is pointless to try. And so the SIT framework operates from the basis that the therapist does not impose values or beliefs on clients. We believe this is important for all clients. We believe people whose core beliefs forbid homosexual behavior as well as those who determine there is no viable prohibition should be respected and offered therapeutic support. That is what the SIT framework values.
    As an indicator of how success in SIT can go a variety of ways, listen to this clip of a caller to the Michaelangelo Signorile show who described my work with a female client.

  183. First, Mary: “I just know I and others, as has been documented on this blog and others, did not have this kind of experience.”
    Then, it should have been documented with whatever government agency issues the therapist’s license, not here on this blog. In California, if you felt I had treated you in an unprofessional manner, you could and should report me to the Board of Behavioral Science Examiners in Sacramento. Believe me, they do look into complaints from consumers and do take action if there is a clear violation of professional ethics. SIT guidelines have no power. Sacramento does.
    Regarding J. James question for Warren — “is homosexuality sin?” Warren will probably dodge a direct answer and say it is “outside God’s will or design”. Same thing. Nicer words. Interesting that pro-change therapists and EXODUS leaders can’t seem to make up their minds about it — or won’t be completely honest about it.
    For example, Mike Ensley of EXODUS was recently on a national radio talk show. I asked him directly, “is homosexuality evil?” He said “no”. (Alan Chambers, EXODUS President” told me definitely “yes.”) I asked Ensley if people go to hell if they keep doing it. He said “no”. (This was shocking since EXODUS has always taught that the Bible says “yes”. ) You see, they don’t want to sound unloving, so they soften it. Sugar coat it.
    They say, “We are only helping people live in accordance with their values.” Translation: “We are involved in an evangelistic effort to save people from the evil of homosexuality in this life and the flames of hell thereafter.” But they won’t say it straight out. Why do you suppose that is?

  184. Warren writes, “Michael – I get it. You don’t think the SIT framework is necessary.”
    Obviously Warren thinks it is “necessary”. But “necessary” requires an object. Necessary FOR WHAT?
    I will supply the missing information.
    Many people have a faith-based (as in, NOT science, NOT reason, NOT evidence) belief that “homosexuality is sin”. In fact, for many millions of people, this belief is central to the integrity of their entire world-view. They simply MUST believe that gays are trash or else their entire world comes tumbling down. Therefore, any homosexual must be either “fixed” or eliminated in some way (prison, exile, execution — all have been practiced and/or promoted in this country in days past, days for which many Christians pine).
    However, other people realize that these efforts to “fix” are, in fact, religious garbage and have no basis in science.
    Therefore, the SIT is necessary to provide a scientific veneer on a purely religious practice. Notice how defensive Warren gets about this issue. It’s because he’s standing on tenuous ground. The SIT is Christian garbage. Period.
    Warren, how am I wrong? I expect you to mince words. How about you answer a simple question for us?
    Do you believe that homosexuality is a sin?

  185. But that is precisely what professional ethics and simple good manners demand.

    Yes, I know and hopefully it is getting better – I just know I and others, as has been documented on this blog and others, did not have this kind of experience. If I came in for grief therapy or marriage counseling or anxiety or depression, I know I would have probably had a traditional kind of response from the therapist followed with traditional therapy. This particular subject, however, is different and people, no matter how professional and updated they profess to be, do not all act in a professional manner. I think a set of guidelines like SIT would help a therapist stay within ethical and well mannered territory and protect the client.

  186. Mary: Sometimes, people like to discount my experience with EXODUS by saying “that was long ago and EXODUS has changed a lot since then.” No doubt there have been some changes, but it still happens. Married gays with children are still held up as shining examples of “change”.
    But, you are right. Both sides still say it and both are mistaken.

  187. But on the other hand, there are gay people wo say if you had gay sex once and liked it – then that is proof enough that you are gay.
    Same coin – different side.

  188. Michael,
    Those statemnts were from a long time ago. A lot has been learned since then and I doubt anyone would say the samething today.

  189. “…this might be a fairly common experience for some gay men.”
    I would tend to agree, considering how many gay men I meet who are also fathers. What EXODUS tends to do is to take these cases as evidence of orientation change. In my own case, I was told that the fact that I could love and woman and father a child was “proof” that the Holy Spirit had “changed” me,

  190. I remember when I reading Dr. Tom Waddell (organized the gay games) – that he had a few sexual experiences with women and when asked how this was possible because he was gay – he commented that he was able to sexualize ‘warm feelings’. I don’t know if that is the same thing you are talking about or not Michael.
    Also the phenomena of gay men being able to fall in love with one women only (but still be attracted to many other men) – was commented on in a section of ‘The Joy of Gay Sex’ – this was written about long before the exgay operations really took off – so I am wonder if this might be a fairly common experience for some gay men.

  191. I wonder if their experience is similar to my own? I loved and admired my wife deeply. I valued her companionship, her intellect and her heart. I was “attracted to her” in that I wanted to hold her, felt “safe” sleeping naked next to her, wanted her to carry our child. We were both sincere about our vows and we both loved Jesus. We both sincerely believed God would “change” me.
    Sadly, true sexual hunger for her never developed. So when these guys say they are “attracted” to their wives, is that what they mean? Or are they guys who are primarily homosexual, who already had some bisexual component who have been able to focus that desire only on their wives?

  192. Michael – Right. That is true. I meant only to their wife among opposite sex people. But they are more generally attracted to the same sex. In my survey, we had lots of people who said they were straight but still have SSA. We are breaking that out into a category of its own.

  193. There is a group of men that seem to be only attracted to their opposite sex partner
    This is a common theme in the stories of married “ex-gays” — they claim sexual attraction only to their wife, but when pressed, they admit that they also continue to “struggle with same sex attraction”.

  194. I don’t know – partnerosexual isn’t bad – where’s Rachal Ray when you need a new word or acronym? 🙂

  195. This is just a story about one college friend of mine and definitely doesn’t apply to all situations. My friend always identified as bisexual and said that one day he really wanted to get married to a woman and have kids. Several years ago, he started dating a girl, they eventually got married and now have two kids. Every time I see him he seems unhappy. His wife has called me twice because she’s been so upset about the relationship she’s thought about leaving. I know that his unhappiness is spilling over into his marriage and his kids. I’m not saying that a gay relationship would have made his life any better, but I DO think he latched onto a DREAM, or rather an IDEAL of something he thought would complete his life and make him happy, and it has not. There is also the real possibility that in pursuing this dream, he has brought others in who will be affected by his unhappiness. I just wonder, how many gay men who seek such therapy are doing that because they believe such a life will make them happy? I’m sure Pam would have something to say about that as well if she were here.
    I know we can’t prevent people from making mistakes, but in counseling sessions, is it possible to help a client be certain that they are making life altering decisions for the best of reasons? Is that even realistic?

  196. There is a group of men that seem to be only attracted to their opposite sex partner and no other opposite person. Partnerosexual? I need a good label…

  197. “I suspect we are talking about bisexually oriented people for the most part.”
    So we should not be surprised that ambidextrous people can use both hands.

  198. I agree Warren! That would explain the shifts. And you are absolutely right – it is a matter of degrees. But a person who is primarily attracted to men could still have a relationship with a women and identify as “heterosexual” – it happens frequently. I would still call them a gay man, regardless of with whom they are in a relationship

  199. I am not talking about completely gay to completely straight. I am talking about shifts in degrees. Cummings did not assess degrees of shift. I suspect we are talking about bisexually oriented people for the most part.

  200. I said vice versa but I think its MUCH less likely that a mostly straight guy would identify as a gay person whereas I think its much more likely a gay person would try to identify as a heterosexual person – but that’s the whole social desirability thing/desire to be part of the “norm”

  201. And its hard to say what CHANGE actually means. It may not mean that a person shifted from pure homosexuality to heterosexuality. The vast majority of the population is bisexual on some level right? Many, many – more than I realized – gay men have been married at some point – So being in a heterosexual relationship or defining oneself as heterosexual doesn’t necessarily make one so and vice versa. This is where labels can get confusing.

  202. I would agree that there is no clear generalizable way to offer people regarding change. This is not to say that it does not happen. When it does, we cannot say why it does.

  203. Good question, Jayhuck. Why would a therapist be any less obligated to share this than say, a physician?

  204. While the science may be vague on whether therapy helps or hinders those who wish to try and change their orientation, it is also very true that there is NO PROVEN WAY to help a client move from homosexual to heterosexual.

  205. Warren,
    I think Michael brings up a really good point about the science and the state of current research – should this be shared with the client?
    If they wanted to lose their homosexual orientation and become heterosexual, I would tell them that current science does not give us any clear way of doing that

  206. Ann, you said: “If it was always handled the way you say it simply should be , that would be a blessing – unfortunately, it is not.”
    But that is precisely what professional ethics and simple good manners demand. If a therapist can’t give honest information about the most reliable research — or respectfully offer a referral — then that therapist ought to turn in their license. These things are basic. If they can’t handle these simple tasks, they are not a “therapist” — and I don’t think SIT guidelines will help them become one.
    A therapist is under no obligation, morally or ethically, to give the client whatever the client wants or to say what the client wants to hear. In fact, I think we often have the opposite obligation. For example, if a client wanted me to give them an instant solution to grief (and many do) I would gently inform them about grief being a natural process that takes time.
    If they wanted to lose their homosexual orientation and become heterosexual, I would tell them that current science does not give us any clear way of doing that — and that I personally do not know how to do it. I would tell them that homosexuality is not a mental disorder — so I cannot “treat” it.
    If they were having big conflicts regarding faith and sexuality, I might suggest they seek pastoral counseling. What I would not do is promise some sort of ill-defined “change” or refer to organizations like EXODUS or NARTH.

  207. I understand what you are saying Warren – and I agree. I just want to make sure that a client that comes in is given ALL available and pertinent information so that they can make a well-educated decision. Many Ex-Ex gays did receive therapy.

  208. Jayhuck – expressing the information is one thing but quoting percentages as if they generalize is poor practice. Some in the JY study were receiving therapy but they could not capture the necessary data to determine if therapy hindered or helped any of the outcome measures.
    Of course, we should note what the ex-gays and ex-ex-gays are saying. However, we do not know the prevalence of either groups or how or why they got there.

  209. Warren,
    But at the same time, should we not share these results? And what would make up a quality study? Should we also not share the information gleaned from those who are Ex-Ex Gay?

  210. Just a reminder, we do not know if any change therapy has a success rate. The Jones and Yarhouse study was not about therapy. The closest we have to a success rate is the anecdotal recollection of Nick Cummings of the Kaiser-Permanente experience. He reported 13% change to the point of heterosexual functioning. Still infrequent but when we are talking therapy, it is important to make it clear that no quality study has been done.

  211. I appreciate the perspective shared earlier about good therapy. I agree that good therapy does address values much in the way they are discussed in the framework. For good or for ill, not all therapists approach therapy in this way. For a discussion of approaches to values in therapy, I recommend Alan Tjeltveit’s book, Ethics and Values in Psychotherapy. In it he discusses a number of positions professionals hold to the topic of values in counseling. There is one approach I am aware of that explicitly attempts to address values in therapy. Perhaps mental health professionals or students in training have seen the video by William Doherty in which he discusses and practices what he refers to as Values Sensitive Therapy. He does a nice job looking at levels of addressing values, ranging from (or at least including) recognizing that values are a part of the discussion that is occurring to explicitly sharing one’s values as a therapist. The opening segment in which he discusses his approach explains some of the rationale – after all, isn’t all therapy value-laden? Yes, and he shares that he named it Values-Sensitive for the purposes of the video but would like it to be a part of all good therapy. It has not been adopted in all approaches to therapy, even though it is a very good introduction to the issues. In some ways I see the SIT framework as recognizing and applying some of the issues associated with identifying values in therapy to the topic of sexual identity concerns. It is also a framework to help those who provide services in this area and who recognize the complexities associated with these issues and who do not readily identify with some of the existing models. I understand that it isn’t for everyone. But I do believe there is something to be gained from offering counselors suggestions (reminders, perhaps, from the perspective noted above) on how to work in a controversial area.

  212. Ann,
    No research that I can think of can tell a FULL story – but that is not the purpose of research.
    Science has already given us a good deal of information to work with (depending on what we are talking about ) – and while there is still a great deal left to learn, sharing research with clients should an important part of any therapeutic process.
    I hope any form of therapy one seeks out to reconcile their thoughts on it will be ethical and effective for their well being.
    I have the same hopes

  213. Jayhuck,
    I want you to know that I do understand your stance on research – my experience with what it has to say about the full breadth of this subject and the participants has left me feeling very different because IMHO it does not tell the complete or truthful story. At this point I am much more interested in what science will tell us about the possible causes, pre-dispositions, etc. and I think with that knowledge, a lot of what everyone has been talking about will take care of itself. Until then, I hope any form of therapy one seeks out to reconcile their thoughts on it will be ethical and effective for their well being.

  214. Research is the best determination we have of how current efforts will effect YOU.

    This diminishes my personal story. Please refer to #103647.

    Or rather may effect you.

    This does not. Thank you for the clarification.

    If I know that current research suggests that a current type of therapy only has a 15% success rate and requires alot of sacrifice and work – for little hope of effectiveness – I might very well change my course of action.

    Yes, you might – I and others might not. I think it is imperative to give the research along with options and then allow the client to figure out what course they want to take. One can go into therapy with one mindset and change that several times during the course of treatment. The important thing is that it is about them and their life and the decisions they will ultimately make. I think a set of guidelines, like SIT, that addresses this particular issue, or any part of it, will help therapists, if they need it, and protect clients from harm – I see that as only a good thing.

  215. Or rather may effect you. If I know that current research suggests that a current type of therapy only has a 15% success rate and requires alot of sacrifice and work – for little hope of effectiveness – I might very well change my course of action. Research DOES apply to you, me, all of us

  216. Research is the best determination we have of how current efforts will effect YOU.

  217. Being honest about research trumps everything else. I’m not sure what you meant about “diminishing a client’s own personal story” but the research should never be presented in a way that diminishes the client – but it should never be withheld from the client for the fear it might.

    Yes, research is important, however, it refers to other people – not me.

  218. Ann,
    Its not just about assessing whether the request is “dangerous” but about assessing whether it is right and good – about whether it is potentially damaging or not.

  219. Ann,
    My apologies – I did not mean to offend. Being honest about research trumps everything else. I’m not sure what you meant about “diminishing a client’s own personal story” but the research should never be presented in a way that diminishes the client – but it should never be withheld from the client for the fear it might. There is a good chance that research might change the client’s mind – at the very least it is information that the client MUST have.

  220. If it is not a “match”, it doesn’t have to be “devastating” or traumatic. The client and therapist can simply agree that some other clinician might be better suited to the case. This is standard therapeutic ethics, not rocket science.

    If it was always handled the way you say it simply should be, that would be a blessing – unfortunately, it is not. I think you wrote some time back about “what hurts”. It still happens and not just with organized ministries and not just from one perspective. If I am incorrect about you being the person who wrote that, I apologize.

  221. I understand assessment and the importance of it – some therapists do a better job of it than others – some offer their opinions instead. I don’t think organized ministries do assessments. You do not have to keep saying it because I really do understand. I also think a therapist can use common sense to discern extreme requests from clients and determine whether it is a dangerous request or not – I think most lay people can do this as well. As far as being honest about research, yes, that is very important, however, it should not compromise or diminish a client’s own personal story.

  222. Jayhuck, me too. If a therapist cannot in good conscience support what a client wants to do, the therapist should be up front and say so — with kindness and respect. And if the therapist knows of a good therapist who is more in allignment with the client’s beliefs and/or goals, the therapist can always refer.
    If it is not a “match”, it doesn’t have to be “devastating” or traumatic. The client and therapist can simply agree that some other clinician might be better suited to the case. This is standard therapeutic ethics, not rocket science.

  223. Ann,
    But its not SOLELY about the clients choice – I thought we had been through this? It is to a great degree, but the therapist – or any healthcare worker for that matter – has to perform a good and detailed assessment to make sure that the client’s wishes are indeed what is best for the client – If the client comes in wanting to commit suicide we don’t just help them do it, do we? No self respecting professional just helps the client do what they want when they want it – that’s where the assessment comes in – even Warren has said as much
    And Michael has some excellent points about being HONEST with clients – even if the client wants to go a certain direction, it is up to the therapist to be honest about the research out there regarding what the client wants to do.

  224. Unfortunately there are therapists, religious counselors, ministry organizations and professional organizations who do not respect a client’s choice and as has been described on this blog and others, the consequences can be devastating.

  225. Besides which, it is not really the therapist’s job to tell “clients and individuals what is possible and what isn’t”. It’s the therapist’s job to be honest about what the best research has to say about any given condition. For example, I would never tell a client that a spontaneous and permanent recovery from major depression was not possible — but I would be honest about what science has to say.

  226. If a therapist needs guidelines to respect a client’s choice to live in accordance with his/her beliefs, perhaps therapy is not the right field for them. That respect is basic to all good therapy — and if a therapist doesn’t show it, the client should find one who does.

  227. Because so many people have been hurt by other’s good intentions, either in professional therapy, religious counseling, organizational ministries, etc., telling clients and individuals what is possible and what isn’t, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have a set of guidelines that transcends this and focuses on the client figuring out what they want and then finding ways to live in accordance with that instead? I would think the guidelines could always be updated as new information comes out, wouldn’t it?

  228. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I get the strong impression that the real reason some folks want the APA to endorse SIT guidelines (or something like them) is because they are afraid that “gay activists” within the APA will come after them and that they will be officially/professionally/financially punished in some way if they are not seen as “gay supportive”.
    They seem to be afraid of legal or professional consequences (1) if they help a gay client who wants to remain celibate, or (2) if they support the client’s belief that gayness may be “brokeness” after all and that some sort of adaptation (or “change”) is both desireable and possible.
    I think that some of the things you have said about SIT are certainly true: (1) science does not know what “causes” sexual orientation, (2) there is no clear evidence that one’s basic sexual orientation can be changed from gay to straight and (3) with points # 1 and #2 in mind, a therapist is not out of line in helping a client who still wants to conform their behavior to their beliefs. That things these things are true, however, does not make a compelling argument as to why the APA should do what you would like it to do.

  229. Warren,
    I’m curious – I was hoping that at the APA Forum you would be further clarifying SIT and answering questions about it? Is that part of what was to happen?

  230. Warren,
    But does depolarization require the SIT framework? That would be the next logical question to ask? Is it necessary for depolarization or will it further depolarize the situation? These are questions that haven’t been adequately answered yet. I’m sure some do believe it will and I’m sure there are others who believe it will not and may only further add to the problem.
    The problem with SIT, at least for some, is that there are SO many unanswered questions surrounding it. The example you give of SIT in action on your site is troublesome. I think you could diffuse the situation by answering many people’s questions – the same sound bites you send out about it not being Reparative Therapy aren’t going to cut it for many.

  231. I have been asking the same thing, but I will lay off. I wanted you to explain why you believe these guidelines are needed — above and beyond the ethical standards that already guide our profession. That’s the part I don’t get.

  232. Michael – I get it. You don’t think the SIT framework is necessary. Others who have endorsed it believe it is necessary and helps depolarized what has obviously becomes a polarized area. We quote several leaders in the framework within the APA community who believe depolarization would be a good thing.
    I want to encourage those who have something new or constructive to offer to do so. Otherwise, what is the point of saying the same thing?

  233. Suggestion on congruence and being values focussed — get rid of all copies of “I Do Exist”. Don’t sell them. Don’t give them away. Be honest that you were so eager to present evidence of “change” that you didn’t really do your homework.
    AMEN Michael

  234. Suggestion on congruence and being values focussed — get rid of all copies of “I Do Exist”. Don’t sell them. Don’t give them away. Be honest that you were so eager to present evidence of “change” that you didn’t really do your homework. Big oops.

  235. Congruence Therapy? Values focused therapy? Isn’t that what all good therapy is supposed to be? I still don’t understand why we need additional guidelines. Be honest with your client, treat them with respect., try to do no harm. Who’s unclear on that? That’s enough.

  236. Why not call it Sexual Values Therapy? I think that name is less likely to make people associate it with reparative therapy. And from the comments I’ve read, it seems more descriptive of what it is.

  237. One of the most common tragedies Transsexual people face is the breakup of longstanding marriages.
    Loving, caring relationships of 20 years and more duration usually founder when one partner reveals they are trans. It’s quite common for Trans people to be driven to the depths of despair over this. They can face the societal opprobrium, the loss of job, the disowning by parents, the medical problems… but not the loss of the love that very often was the only thing that kept them going.
    How do you cope when you find the the great love of your life, the partner you wanted to grow old with, is the wrong sex?
    That question is faced by both parties.
    In many ways, it’s hardest for the non-transitioning spouse. How does any woman cope when she finds she’s been married to another woman all along? How does any man cope when he finds that the mother of his children is another man?
    A feeling of betrayal, while not justified, is perfectly understandable, and in those cases, the marriage is broken beyond repair. It’s seen as the ultimate in cheating, worse by far than mere adultery, or even bisexual adultery. The greater the love, the greater the betrayal.
    Often though the love is more than the clothes that they wore, and the main problem is one of sexuality. A Transitioning woman must face the fact that her behaviour has always been unquestionably lesbian. Her partner is left with the unanswerable question as to whether she’s been lesbian too, and that dichotomy and uncertainty causes her even more stress.
    There is a need for help in such cases. I see them every day, and it breaks my heart.
    Most marriages that survive become, not so much same-sex relationships, as monosexual. Two people who love each other become sexually attracted to one another, despite externals. This is best llustrated by the following crie de coeur

    MONOSEXUAL MANIFESTO
    by Miriam Scott
    If a heterosexual is a person who loves/wants to have sex with someone of the opposite gender
    And a homosexual is a person who loves/wants to have sex with someone of the same gender
    Then we are monosexuals – people who love/want to have sex with only one person, regardless of gender
    So, Monosexuals, we need to fight for our rights –
    Our right to our confusion and our right to resist pigeonholing
    Our right to stay in our relationships no matter what family, friends, church, society thinks
    Our right to be supportive of each other
    Our right to mourn the loss of our husbands/wives, our right to embrace our gain
    Our right to emotionally down days without judgment
    Our right to our senses of humor
    Our right to be an equal in our relationships, our right to consideration of our feelings during the transition

    Such marriages are the exception though. The usual tragedy is one partner feels this way, and the other doesn’t. Sometimes they want to though. Perhaps the SIT may have a role in helping them.
    It’s complicated (of course) by legal issues. In some jurisdictions, such as Australia, transition by one or both partners has no effect – and to divorce, a couple may have to totally separate, contrary to their wishes, especially if children are involved. In others, such as the UK, transition automatically gives the right for either party to have the marriage dissolved, with none of the usual requirements for separation. In many of these jurisdictions, the marriage can be converted seamlessly to a same-sex “civil union”. And in other jurisdictions, the state steps in and dissolves the marriage, regardless of the wishes of the partners.
    Often marriages survive, at least for a while, as chaste relationships. Rather than split cleanly, they slowly dissolve, and usually only end when one or both partners find someone new to love, someone of the right sex this time. That sometimes never happens, and although each partner may have a succession of lovers, they never find anyone who they love as much as the one they’re married to, but no longer sexually interested in.
    All of these people could do with some help.

  238. At what point is the therapist obliged to interject in what he/she sees as an unhealthy situation? Are their hands tied by the faith of the client, or do they just keep taking the referral option and pass them on from therapist to therapist?
    Excellent questions!!!

  239. Values Identity Therapy would be FAR better because the issue has much more to do with Values than it does with Sexual Identity – Even the term Sexual Identity seems fraught with misunderstanding. Values – not so much

  240. That’s a heavily biased statement. I’m gay, I have no problems with that and I’m living in congruence with my faith and values.

    David,
    That was an error on my part – I corrected it after Mark gave the clarification – I’m sorry for the mis-wording as that was before the clarification. I also want to say what a true blessing it is that you are happy and I hope others can come to that same place and have the same blessing.

  241. Ann
    As far as I know, this is the way most (if not all) fields which are tied in to academics and research work. Doctors (i.e. MDs) constantly read Medical Journals and go to conferences that pertain to the areas they work in. I believe Psychology and Psychiatry work in more or less the same way. A good therapist, even though they are not actively doing research, keeps up with the literature, as a good physician does (and must). The reason for this is that our knowledge of medicine and psychology change over time as new research is done, as people rethink old approaches to things, and as new problems show up (or are finally recognized as problems). If a doctor, for example, never read journals, he would not be up to date on any treatment options that had developed (or been discredited) since he graduated from Med School. The same is true for psychiatry and psychology. The research going on in the field changes over time, and practitioners have to keep current in it in order to be adequately prepared to help their patients.
    A problem arises, though, when groups or popular new outlets start interfering with this process. If the APA will cancel a symposium because Drowssap’s ‘average guy’ can’t understand the name of something, then they will eventually wind up crippling their ability to best serve ‘the average guy.’

  242. “Therapy designed to address and treat the unique needs of individuals with unwanted sexual identity issues who choose to live in congruence with their faith and values.”
    That’s a heavily biased statement. I’m gay, I have no problems with that and I’m living in congruence with my faith and values. The more I delve into trying to understand these “guidelines” the more strongly I feel that a therapist simply has no business aligning themselves with a client’s faith – for any reason.
    A therapist should be a neutral corner for anyone who finds themselves between the expectations of their faith and the realities of their earthly existence. At what point is the therapist obliged to interject in what he/she sees as an unhealthy situation? Are their hands tied by the faith of the client, or do they just keep taking the referral option and pass them on from therapist to therapist?

  243. If psychologists are doing their jobs correctly they should be keeping abreast of the latest developments in their field. They should be doing this by reading journal articles (i.e. peer reviewed, scientific journals, not newspapers/magazines) as well as attending conferences where the latest ideas are being discussed.

    Ellie,
    This is a really good point. I am not sure if the majority are doing this but would be very interested to know. Am also wondering if they would be truthful about it if asked. Are these requirements or just something that a good therapist would do? How would a potential client know?

  244. Drowssap
    If psychologists are doing their jobs correctly they should be keeping abreast of the latest developments in their field. They should be doing this by reading journal articles (i.e. peer reviewed, scientific journals, not newspapers/magazines) as well as attending conferences where the latest ideas are being discussed. The popular view of SIT Therapy should have very little bearing on what the psychologists themselves decide about it. If physicists had rejected Special Relativity because they saw a journalist’s negative take on it and the name wasn’t marketable, then we wouldn’t have been able to move into the age of Einsteinian physics.

  245. In other words, a person would not have to have “unwanted” attractions (not sure if that was what was meant by “unwanted sexual identity issues”) but could be working through conflict with family members, religious beliefs, and so on.

    Thank you for the clarification – then the word “unwanted” should definitely not be used – perhaps by eliminating it, the phrase would address all those interested for their own reasons.

  246. Pam,
    Thanks for asking for clarification. I cannot speak for Warren, but when I work with individuals, couples, and families in which sexual identity is undecided when they come to see me, I come alongside them and help them think through the issues that would be relevant to their decision about identity and behavior. They really do go in one or the other general trajectory – either towards identifying publicly and privately as GLB or not. I do not drop people or refer them out if they come to identify publicly and/or privately as GLB. In terms of family therapy, I often see young adults and their parents – all of whom often want a better relationship with one another – and in those cases typically the young adult is identifying as GLB and just wanting to improve family relations.

  247. I think I already used too many words, or not enough, in that question. When I say, “affirm that they are gay” I mean that their values lead them to conclude that their same sex attractions are no longer unwanted, and they seek to live in a way that reconciles this with their faith.

  248. Mark,
    Are you saying that you guys do continue to work with clients whose values affirm that they are gay? Or, do you only work with those whose values are in accordance with a traditional sexual ethic? I’m just wondering, because that would affect how you name it.
    The more words used, the worse it gets. That’s for sure. If any of us have learned anything at all in all this, surely it’s that! *lol*

  249. These are helpful comments and reflections on the meaning of SIT. I think the framework is intended to also allow for therapy even if the attractions are not the concern. In other words, a person would not have to have “unwanted” attractions (not sure if that was what was meant by “unwanted sexual identity issues”) but could be working through conflict with family members, religious beliefs, and so on. I think some people might think the focus is on “unwanted” attractions because Warren and I may receive those referrals, but I (and I assume Warren) also receive referrals where the conflict is really among family members or with religious communities and not with sexuality or attractions at all.

  250. Therapy designed to address unwanted sexual identity issues to help people live in congruence with their values.
    Drowssap,
    I think this is great – succinct and yet descriptive.

  251. Ann
    Not bad. I would try to get rid of every extra word I could. The shorter it is (and still gets the point across) the better.
    Castrol:
    Engineered For Today’s Smaller Cars
    You probably can’t get SIT therapy down to something that short. But if you could, that would be best.
    Your example
    Therapy designed to address and treat the unique needs of individuals with unwanted sexual identity issues who choose to live in congruence with their faith and values.
    I’d cut it to this
    Therapy designed to address unwanted sexual identity issues to help people live in congruence with their values.
    I don’t think mine is that great. Just that the shorter you can make it, the better.

  252. Drowssap,
    how does this sound?
    SIT – Sexual Identity Therapy
    Therapy designed to address and treat the unique needs of individuals with unwanted sexual identity issues who choose to live in congruence with their faith and values.

  253. SIT – Sexual Identity Therapy
    Therapy designed to address and treat the unique needs of individuals with unwanted sexual identity issues. The focus is on identifying a client’s personal values and ways in which a client can live in congruence with those values.

  254. Ellie
    Anybody writing an article about it should read the (easily accessible) explanation in order to find out what it is.
    Every cell in my body wishes that you were correct. But media types and people in general are lazy. Even psychologists that might hear about Warren’s concepts are lazy. Unless he gets their attention in a way that’s credible they’ll dismiss his work in 1 second flat and go right back to doing something else.
    How I rate those examples from an average guy’s point of view
    Special Relativity: Something about science (thumbs down)
    Lesbian Feminist Critical Theory: Sounds angry but it contains enough buzzwords to attract it’s core audiance. (thumbs sort of up)
    Queer Theory: Something about gay people (it’s ok)
    Double-Double: Food or beverage item (it’s ok)
    Any name will work if you can get it on The Tonight Show every day of the week. But if you’re a little guy starting out you don’t have that luxury. Your name and tagline have to sell sell sell.

  255. Ann
    You are on the right track but it needs to be shorter and it can’t contain a knock on Reparative therapy.
    Example
    Pepsi might knock Coke all day long but you’ll never see an ad campaign when the first line is, “Pepsi, we’re better than Coke.” Comparison’s are typically in the body of an ad unless it’s a special case.
    Maybe something like…
    SIT Therapy helps people with alternative sexual feelings live according to their traditional values.
    I’m not sure about the word alternative (maybe I’m not hip enough), but something that means the same thing. Nonmainstream contains a negative so I’d probably look for something better. Just something that implies sexual feelings that are different from the norm. But in any case a phrase thats positive, easily understandable by everyone and can be said in one sentence.

  256. Ann said it best: SIT: Sexual Identity Therapy.
    The need for therapy suggests you have issues…and the issues are with your sexual identity. To attempt to define it further would likely compound the confusion.

  257. Drowssap
    Who is it being marketed to? If it’s being ‘marketed’ to trained psychologists then it needs a name they can understand, not a name everyone can understand. If everything had to have a name which succinctly set out what it was while simultaneously conveying its nuances, almost nothing would have a name. Do you know what Special Relativity is just from the name? Or what separates Lesbian Feminist Critical Theory from Queer Theory? Would someone from Ohio be able to cook up a Double-Double just by hearing the name? These are concepts that have to be explained in order for them to be fully understood. Why should SIT be any different? Anybody writing an article about it should read the (easily accessible) explanation in order to find out what it is. Their refusal to do that, not its name, is what allows them to misrepresent it. And the psychologists who choose whether to adopt or dismiss it should do so based on their understanding of the full concept (which traditionally in academic circles is fostered via things like paper talks and symposia discussing a new idea), not on what the name sounds like to a journalist.

  258. SIT – Sexual Identity Therapy
    Therapy designed to address and treat individuals with unwanted sexual identity issues. SIT is not reparative therapy, it’s focus is on client values and how to live in congruence with those values.

  259. Ok, here is the root of the problem.
    From a marketing standpoint SIT Therapy doesn’t tell me what it is. People need to understand what SIT Therapy means from it’s name or from an explanation no longer than a phrase or single sentence. Once you’ve made your point, those that are interested will look for additional information. If they can’t quickly understand where you are coming from they will move onto something else.
    Example
    Blue Collar Comedy Tour
    The name is so brilliant it doesn’t need an explanation
    SIT Therapy needs to be that obvious. If you can’t pack an explanation into the name write a short phrase that tells the story.
    Even the BEST idea needs a hook or simple, understandable concept so it can spread.

  260. I’d have to say the same when gay researchers say definitively that homosexuality is biological. Or when a conservative says – all a person has to do is repent of their sin and change. No evidence.

  261. “Generally, “junk science” is a phrase used by advocates when they want to discredit views with which they disagree.”
    True. But often, especially on the topic of homosexuality and “change”, it is an apt description of shoddy research and prejudice packaged to look like real science.

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