Tag Archives: ex-gay

The Arguments Against Change

                                                By Rabbi Daniel Meir Horowitz

Note: This article was originally published at: http://www.jonahweb.org/article.php?secId=343

There has been much debate and heated discussion over the issue of changing one’s sexual orientation from that of homosexual to heterosexual. The “ex-gay” phenomenon has drawn incredulity, laughter, venom and vitriol. Emotions, however, contribute nothing to the debate except to draw attention away from the real issues. One does not need to be a scientist, doctor, theologian or protester. One merely needs to be a logical human being who attempts to analyze the pros and cons of attempting to change one’s Same-Sex Attractions (SSA) into something else.

Let us begin with the fundamental assumption that NO ONE will ever achieve real change if it is forced upon them. The person themselves must truly want it. This means that for whatever reason they feel that SSA does not fit in their lives, be it for religious, emotional, practical, or other motivations. This is a universal concept that applies to any form of behavior or personality modification. If a parent, peer, religious advisor, et al. convinces a person to attempt to change, when the person themselves does not really want to, not only will it not be effective, but can be detrimental and dangerous.

It is possible for a person be motivated by their religious beliefs to change themselves so they can live in a way that is in line with their religious dictates. But it must be an internal motivation to be in line with their values and mores, not an imposition from other human beings. G-d gave us free choice, and we must exercise it. If a person is being pressured to the point that they can’t say “No,” then their “Yes” isn’t worth too much. As soon as the pressure is released, the change will vanish. No competent therapist should be treating someone who is being forced into therapy. Only once a person truly wants to change, can any discussion of the possibility of change be entertained. It is then that they can they properly analyze the possible reasons to refrain from attempting it.

1) It’s Genetic – A hotly contested issue, of whether SSA is caused by nature, nurture, or both. I posit, however, that this is completely irrelevant! Even if it would be proven that SSA is completely genetic in origin, that fact should carry no weight in this discussion. The only thing that matters is whether it is possible to change once the SSA is there, not what caused it in the first place.

Society is full of people who attempt to override what their body naturally does. Baldness may or may not be genetic, yet most people don’t care; they merely want to deal with it. Being bald doesn’t fit the way they want to live their lives, and so they try alter their situation. One’s hair going gray as one gets older is caused by their genes, yet millions of people color their hair. If a child’s teeth grow in crooked, their parents pay thousands of dollars on braces. People’s genes gave them a certain nose, but they may choose surgery to give them a different one.

This applies to more internal things as well. Everyone has a different metabolism, and some people may be genetically predisposed to be heavier than others. That doesn’t stop people from dieting, having liposuction, or lap-band surgery. Stuttering is rarely considered a psychological problem, (although it can be exacerbated by stress), yet no one would criticize a person for seeking therapy to overcome it. Dyslexia is caused by problems with the brain’s ability to recognize and process symbols, yet we would all support someone who wanted to treat it. These people’s genes gave them certain symptoms that aren’t congruent with how they want to live their lives, or cause them discomfort or inconvenience. So they seek methods to remedy it. The only salient issue is whether those methods will be effective.

2. It Won’t Work – This is definitely a matter of extreme importance. If something definitely won’t work, then the time, effort, and expense involved are wasted. Worse, it sets one up for intense disappointment, leading to shame, depression, and perhaps even suicidal thoughts.

However, this only holds true when it is known that it won’t work. It would have to be proven to be ineffective in the vast majority of cases. Anecdotal evidence of some who have tried and failed is a poor substitute for scientific method. A true analysis must be made. It is sometimes not because the treatment doesn’t work, rather that the subject didn’t actually employ the treatment.

Imagine that a respected doctor created a new weight-loss system with strict nutritional rules and a hefty exercise regimen. If even most of the people who tried the diet fail to lose weight, it must first be examined how well they followed the rules. If they regularly cheated on the dietary requirements, or neglected their exercise, does that mean that the system is ineffective? It could mean that the system is difficult to follow, or lacking motivation mechanisms. It does not prove what would occur to someone who had followed the system properly.

I personally know of a man who recently gave up trying to overcome his SSA and moved in with a boyfriend. Yet, I recall two years ago visiting his apartment and seeing a pile of gay-porn DVD’s. When I questioned him about why he hadn’t thrown them out, he said, “I like them.” Is it any wonder that he ultimately didn’t succeed? It’s akin to an alcoholic keeping his favorite liquor in a cabinet, “just in case.” Of course, this is also anecdotal, and proves nothing. But without scientific evidence through a proper study, we can never know the whole story.

Furthermore, even if there is only a slight chance of change being effective, it is still that person’s right to try. Those who truly want to change feel that homosexual urges are incongruous with how they want to live their lives. For many, they are desperate for a way out. If so, is it wrong for them to try a therapy even if it would work only 10% of the time? It is common for people with various illnesses (G-d forbid) to seek therapies outside of the traditional mainstream approach. (Reparative therapists might bristle at this comparison, saying that their approach is mainstream. But let us assume otherwise, for the sake of argument.) This endeavor is only dangerous if that person neglects traditional medications that generally are effective. To attempt alternative therapies is their right. And they should be allowed to exercise it if they chose to do so.

Of course, this must be tempered with a dose of realism. No therapy is 100% effective. And those who seek alternative therapies need to remain grounded with the actual possibility of success. Entering the therapy with complete hope, while accepting the possibility of failure, is the dichotomy that must be employed. But, if those who wish to change understand that it is a long, hard, road and one that ultimately may not succeed, who are we to judge them for forging on?

3) It’s Discriminatory – There are those who say that if one pursues change from SSA that they are discriminating against those who live a gay lifestyle. This defies logic.

As mentioned above, people routinely have their hair dyed, their wrinkles touched up, and their receding hair lines proceeded. Are these people ageists, who discriminate against the elderly? Are those who diet considered insulting to the obese? Are those who learn methods to deal with their dyslexia prejudiced against other dyslexics?

The absurdity speaks for itself. How one chooses to live one’s life, with the choices they make for themselves, does not reflect on anyone else. I may choose a blue shirt, and you may choose green. Neither one is discriminatory. If someone feels that SSA does not belong in their life, it should not insult in any way those who live a gay lifestyle. While it may not feel right for this person, if it feels right to another, they should go right ahead. In America, everyone can choose to live their lives for themselves. Just as one may want the right to live as gay, one also has the right to choose not to.

4) It’s Expensive – Agreed. Any psychological therapy will be. This is something that one must evaluate and decide for themselves: Is it worth it to try? All of the pros and cons need to be carefully weighed together with all of the various investments of time, money, and effort. That calculation is something that each person must make for themselves.

In conclusion, it appears that there is no logical reason for recrimination against those who choose to change. No peer-reviewed study (or any study, for that matter) has proven reparative therapy to be totally ineffective. So long as someone goes into it with a clear motivation, an understanding of the probable outcomes and a commitment to do what is necessary, who are we to impugn them? There are no universal truths for what works best for every person. Let us allow those who choose to be gay to live in peace, and let us allow those who choose to attempt change to live in peace as well. And most importantly, let us allow all those who are undecided to know of BOTH options, so that they can make informed choices for themselves.

Former Homosexuals Exist in South Africa, But Who Are They?

_60149039_saflag Discussing the subject of Homosexuality, to say the least, it is one of the most controversial and politicized subjects to be discussed in our day. However, a discussion that is needed and very seldom, if ever discussed is the matter of people coming out of homosexuality, and those who live with unwanted same-sex attraction. These are referred to as former homosexuals.

People with political driven agendas want us to believe that former homosexuals do not exist, because, according to them, people are born gay and cannot change. Persons who do not identifying themselves as gay, are often labelled as people with internalized homophobia, liars, pretenders, frauds, fakes and more. The truth is that we do exist. We are right here in South Africa. We are here to stay, and people will have to get use to it.

Who is a former homosexual?

It is important that we first define what we understand a gay person to be. The term “gay” is a social-political term. It refers to that population of people in society who believe they are born homosexual and identify themselves as such. To them homosexuality is innate. They believe they are born homosexual and cannot change.

Not so with former homosexuals. Former homosexuals do not believe that homosexuality is innate, have left the homosexual life and believe change is possible. Many have experienced complete sexual orientation change, but some still have same-sex attractions. Therefore, it may be difficult for them to identify as heterosexual. However, they do not identify as “gay.” They are stuck in the middle, especially for those who choose to live lives of chastity but have remaining same-sex attractions.

Talking about change, needs more clarification, seeing that there are very often contradicting opinions about sexual orientation change. Change should not be seen in strictly categorical terms, where change is an all-or-nothing-experience. NARTH points out:

“When change is viewed in absolute terms, then any future experience of same-sex attraction (or any other challenge), however fleeting or diminished, is considered a refutation of change. Such assertions likely reflect an underlying categorical view of change, probably grounded in an essentialist view of homosexual sexual orientation that assumes same-sex attractions are the natural and immutable essence of a person.  What needs to be remembered is that the de-legitimizing of change solely on the basis of a categorical view of change is virtually unparalleled for any challenge in the psychiatric literature.”[i]

Change should rather be seen as something occurring on a continuum.

“This is in fact how sexual orientation is defined in most modern research, starting with the well known Kinsey scales, even as subsequent findings pertinent to change are often described in categorical terms. NARTH affirms that some individuals who seek care for unwanted same-sex attractions do report categorical change of sexual orientation.  Moreover, NARTH acknowledges that others have reported no change. The experience of NARTH clinicians suggests that the majority of individuals who report unwanted same-sex attractions and pursue psychological care will be best served by conceptualizing change as occurring on a continuum, with many being able to achieve sustained shifts in the direction and intensity of their sexual attractions, fantasy, and arousal that they consider to be satisfying and meaningful.”[ii]

 To read more, click here.

André Bekker is an Advisory Board Member of Voice of the Voiceless and a Theological Counselor with New Living Way Ministry in South Africa, ministering to people with Unwanted Same-Sex Attraction, their families, and loved ones.

Will Lisa Ling Misrepresent Sexual Orientation Change Effort Therapy Again?

Host of Our America to Revisit Exodus International’s New Stance, Fails to Interview Therapists

Lisa Ling, host of Our America is at it once again with an upcoming show featuring Christian ex-gays. It’s an interesting topic, one that I have a great deal of interest in, since I am myself an ex-gay and a Christian. According to the show’s teaser, which can be viewed by clicking here, Ling plans to revisit Exodus International’s new branding with President Alan Chambers and a group of so-called “ex-gay survivors” who have purportedly been hurt by Exodus and similar ministries over the last forty years.

Although the sneak peak was rather short, it appears that Exodus Founder Michael Bussee, who is seemingly the poster boy for ex-ex-gays (ex-gays who no longer consider themselves former homosexuals, and have returned to the gay life), plays a prominent role in the show. In the sneak peak, Bussee angrily says to Chambers:

The organization needs to shut down. Don’t tweak it, don’t try to improve it. Shut it down!

The show appears to center around Alan Chambers apologizing to these so-called “ex-gay survivors” for the role that Exodus has played in hurting gays and lesbians with the “Change Is Possible” message over the last forty years. Sadly, Ling combines the work of Exodus and similar religious ministries that focus on prayer, deliverance, and religious devotion with Sexual Orientation Change Effort (SOCE) therapy, or what she calls “Gay-Reparative Therapy.”

Let me be clear when I say this. I like Lisa Ling. I like Our America. I also like Alan Chambers personally, although I do not agree with the direction he is taking Exodus International. But what is most troubling to me is that Ling refuses to interview actual psychotherapists who practice SOCE and/or clients who have gone through SOCE, either via individual therapy or through group therapy programs such as Journey Into Manhood. These programs differ dramatically than the Exodus programs, but the average person would not know that unless a reporter makes this distinction.

I have personally reached out to Lisa Ling’s Facebook page and offered to be interviewed. I also contacted Alan Chambers and to see if Ling interviewed SOCE therapists for the “God and Gays” program, and he told me he believes she did not. Sadly, many will watch this program and get the perception that psychotherapists who practice SOCE are really just helping clients “pray away the gay” and harming gays and lesbians in the process.

Only time will tell if Ling decides to give a complete portrayal of ex-gays and the actual therapists who help them experience real change.

Christopher Doyle, M.A. is the Co-Founder and Acting Director of Voice of the Voiceless, the only anti-defamation league for former homosexuals, individuals with unwanted same-sex attractions, and their families. For more information, visit: www.VoiceoftheVoiceless.info