In an article that appeared in the August 7, 2009 edition of “Mother Jones” entitled, “The APA Nixes ‘Ex-Gay Therapy’: A Win for the Religious Right?” there is a reiteration of the fact that fundamentalism of all stripes, particularly including that which invokes “religion” and its view of God, are antithetical to any kind of meaningful dialogue. Facts don’t matter to “true believers”; they will often twist facts with which they are confronted to meet their preconceived prejudices and mind-sets. An excerpt from this article reads as follows:
“On Wednesday, the American Psychological Association made headlines by repudiating gay-to-straight therapy. In a report, the APA found that not only is there no evidence that the practice actually works, but it can also lead to depression and suicidal tendencies. Considering that so-called ‘reparative therapy’ has been enthusiastically championed by the religious right, you might be surprised to learn that they’re touting the report as a major victory.”
One tragedy of the conclusion of the American Psychological Association’s findings regarding the harm of “ex-gay therapies” is that the APA saw that “religion” could adversely impact a person’s identity as being Gay and, therefore, one could legitimately deny a Gay identity, and deny him/herself a life as a Gay man or woman, for the sake of that religious belief. So, we have the following possible outcome regarding a fundamentalist mind-set, be it from assorted religious leaders or from those who wish to accommodate such fundamentalists: In the August 6, 2009 edition of the “Wall Street Journal,” in an article entitled, “A New Therapy on Faith and Sexual Identity,” the following appears:
“According to new APA guidelines, the therapist must make clear that homosexuality doesn’t signal a mental or emotional disorder. The counselor must advise clients that gay men and women can lead happy and healthy lives, and emphasize that there is no evidence therapy can change sexual orientation. “But if the client still believes that affirming his same-sex attractions would be sinful or destructive to his faith, psychologists can help him construct an identity that rejects the power of those attractions, the APA says. That might require living celibately, learning to deflect sexual impulses or framing a life of struggle as an opportunity to grow closer to God. “We’re not trying to encourage people to become ‘ex-gay,’ said Judith Glassgold, who chaired the APA’s task force on the issue. But we have to acknowledge that, for some people, religious identity is such an important part of their lives, it may transcend everything else.”
So, even the APA gives the startling conclusion to its unsurprising findings as to the harm of “ex-gay therapies” that it’s OK to redirect one’s sexuality to other pursuits for the sake of “religion,” even, as in the case of fundamentalism, even toxic religion! And they give this conclusion, despite their statement:
“No solid evidence exists that such change is likely, says the resolution, adopted by a 125-to-4 vote. The association said some research suggested that efforts to produce change could be harmful, inducing depression and suicidal tendencies.”
As Frederick Schiller once remarked, “Against stupidity, even the gods contend in vain!” So, they have the temerity to state that when one’s being Gay counters the client’s perception of what it means to be a Christian: “That might require living celibately, learning to deflect sexual impulses or framing a life of struggle as an opportunity to grow closer to God.” Apparently, in its attempt to accommodate toxic religion, and even their client’s misunderstanding of God, faith, and sexuality, the APA affirms that it might be OK to suppress these primal needs in spite of the fact that any attempt to “change could be harmful, inducing depression and suicidal tendencies.” This seeming attempt to accommodate those religious true believers who see a contradiction between sexuality and religiosity just goes to show how toxic religion has impacted our culture, even impacting behavioral and social scientists who should know better than to make such an accommodation. The Chair of the APA’s task force stated the veritably inconceivable as a presumed attempt to accommodate fundamentalists and other misdirected people: “But we have to acknowledge that, for some people, religious identity is such an important part of their lives, it may transcend everything else.” Rather than confront the destructive lie that “religious identity” and “sexuality” are not inconsistent with each other, save for those whom God gifted with the call to celibacy, the APA allows toxic religion to rear its ugly head in the name of “mental health.” I’ll never know why they wouldn’t confront this destructive lie by redirecting their client to, or working in tandem with, a credible clergy person who could help their client see that being Gay is consistent with God’s will for that person’s life; being Gay is certainly not a sin! The “client still believes that affirming his same-sex attractions would be sinful or destructive to his faith” because he/she has been taught that lie! What kind of “faith” is it that in order to claim one of God’s gifts to us, God’s grace, we have to relinquish another one of God’s gifts to us, our sexuality? It is incumbent upon all clinicians and clergy to affirm God’s Gay children as having been gifted with their sexuality and the capacity to love, the latter of which is tragically missing in many self-professed “Christians.” And it is not the clinician’s business to help his or her client accommodate to any warped view of faith or to the toxic religion that teaches that warped view! Indeed, the client, LGBT people, and Straight people must learn that the attempt to deny what God has made shows a decided lack of faith, a faith without which it is impossible to please God! (Hebrews 11:6)
Professor Emeritus of Sociology at California State University, Chico, Rev. Dr. Jerry S. Maneker served as an ordained priest in the Congregational Catholic Church, a division of the Independent Catholic Churches International (ICCI). For many years he published a weekly column in the Sacramento Valley Mirror titled “Christianity and Society” where he dealt with a variety of social issues from a biblical and sociological perspective. He also published a blog called “A Christian Voice for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Rights” and the website Radical Christianity.