April 24, 2014

Advertise with Stand Firm

March 18, 2011


Theo Hobson (Guardian): Gay-friendly Christianity has become a self-righteous subculture

from here

I had the same feeling when I heard Gene Robinson speak a couple of years ago, and read his memoir. His approach seemed very close to that of a secular gay-rights campaigner; he spoke and wrote as if this issue was a crusade, a holy issue, the very essence of liberal Christianity in our day. It may sound like I’m being prejudiced but it needs saying: there was a victimised stridency in his tone that I found offputting. See the piece I wrote at the time. The problem was his willingness to overuse the rhetoric of civil rights, as if the struggle for gay equality is just as righteous as the struggle for racial equality.

What’s the difference? Sexuality is more ambiguous. Gay rights is joined at the hip to cultural forces that are, from a Christian point of view, dubious. I mean sexual liberation, individualism, hedonism. We are talking about human desire, which is endlessly fallible. The language of liberation therefore does not quite apply. If a racist repents and starts a mixed-race family, that is an unambiguous story of liberation, holy progress towards the kingdom of God. If a man leaves his wife because he decides he is gay, well, that is more ambiguous. To spin it as a marvellous tale of courageous self-realisation is dubious.

The problem with the Christian gay-rights lobby is that it insists that homosexuality is something to celebrate. Shouldn’t all forms of loving relationship be celebrated? Well, we should tread very carefully when sex is involved. The reality is that this thing called “homosexuality” is ambiguous. It does not just refer to stable committed same-sex partnerships. It also refers to a culture that detaches sex from commitment. But you could say the same of “heterosexuality”. Yes: all sexuality is ambiguous. But the gay lobby implies that we should overlook the ambiguity and affirm homosexuality as a holy cause…more


Share this story:


Recent Related Posts

Comments

Facebook comments are closed.

41 comments

I appreciate his clear glimpse of the problem, but he is going to be mightily frustrated in his hope for a progressive church engaging a breadth of people and issues (with more than paper “statements”/resolutions).

Look at the evidence - churches (local, dioceses, denominations) that have gone all out for “gay friendly” become the least inclusive and most turned in on themselves, especially at the leadership level.

Just look at TEC’s statement about theology and liturgy for same-sex unions - it is all intradenominational jargon for a very small in-group.

LGBT culture is heavily inculturated in insulation (neighborhoods, clubs).  In all fairness, this is in part a reaction to cultural hostility.  But it does not serve any recognizable Christian model of “church,” even the progressive entity envisioned by Theo Hobson.

[1] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 3-18-2011 at 11:16 AM · [top]

Ya think?!  He hits the truth for EcUSA: “the very essence of liberal Christianity in our day.”  No other Gozpell will do.

[2] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 3-18-2011 at 11:19 AM · [top]

I think he is looking for something akin to the relatively “vigorous” Christian liberalism of Richard Niebuhr—but Niebuhr would never fit in with contemporary liberals. They’ll never regain that kind of clout or depth (as wrong as Niebuhr was, he had both).

[3] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 3-18-2011 at 11:21 AM · [top]

Agree, Matt, in part because Richard Niebuhr was writing at a time when church attendance was still something of a cultural norm.  With “unchurched,” “spiritual-not-religious” and other such categories - with no cultural expectation that one will be a “church goer” - there’s really no need for a “church” to serve those who don’t value Christian orthodoxy.

In fact, liberal Christianity takes a bigger hit than orthodoxy from the collapse of “Constantinian” or “Christendom” models.  Liberal Christianity is heavily invested in “baptizing” institutions and their perceived “good works” as expressions of the Gospel, and in having a place at the table they set.

Orthodoxy in post-Christendom must lean more on its foundations in the transcendant kingdom of God and serve on earth as a counter-culture.

[4] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 3-18-2011 at 11:40 AM · [top]

How can liberal Christianity move on? How can it develop a larger sense of purpose which can put the gay issue in its place? Simply by being more theologically ambitious. It must strive to articulate the entire liberal Christian vision, it must re-narrate all of modern politics and culture in terms of it. It must put away its little books about victimised minorities and read – and write – some meatier ones. It must man up.

Of course, the big question is - what if there is no “there” there for liberal “Christianity”?  Because everything that I have ever read or experienced of liberal “Christianity” is that it is the wholesale adoption of the western liberal secularist worldview with some superficial “holy” jargon sprinkled on top.

Liberal “Christianity” developed under the Baby Boomers who grew up in a culture and society in which the Church mattered.  So for many liberal-minded Boomers, it was an important goal to have the Church adopt a liberal, secularist world view.  Winning over the Church was important for them, and (to be fair), they also probably thought they were doing the Church a great favor in bringing it (so they thought) “up to speed”.  But in today’s secular world, the Church doesn’t matter, and liberal “Christians” garner only a teeny bit more approval then conservative Christians (and then, most typically, liberal “Christians” are only liked because they serve the “useful idiot” role so very nicely).  Young liberal minded people of today have no interest in Church - it is largely irrelevant for them.  As the number of Church attenders declines in western society, so the percentage of those attenders who are serious Christians (read NOT liberals) increases.

Thus, liberal “Christianity” is playing to a finite audience - that of aging liberal Boomers who still think Church matters.  Liberal “Christianity” is a Dead Man Walking.  There never was any intellectual depth to it, nor can liberal “Christianity” be seriously regarded as a world view that can serve as the intellectual or theological structure for other liberal political and cultural ideology.

[5] Posted by jamesw on 3-18-2011 at 11:41 AM · [top]

One statement I would question is this:

Christianity, which teaches that you should strive to be very much better than you are

That seems very much like works righteousness instead of allowing God to work in us to make us holy as in “... it is the gift of God so none may boast..”. I’m a bassist not a theologian so someone else may have to answer this.

[6] Posted by Stefano on 3-18-2011 at 11:42 AM · [top]

Stefano #6 I think you are on target.  Liberal Christianity winds up in the same legalistic bind as some of the more “conservative” churches it critiques.  Instead of saying “Good Christians don’t dance or drink,” it says “Good Christians recycle and celebrate gay sex.”

Both end up saying, “Here’s what you have to do to make yourself a good person.”  Both obscure and neglect reliance on God’s grace.

[7] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 3-18-2011 at 11:49 AM · [top]

Come to think of it, legalisms of any sort harmonize with the devil in the Gospel on the First Sunday in Lent:

“So, if you are God’s own, here’s the stuff you gotta do to prove it.”

[8] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 3-18-2011 at 11:56 AM · [top]

Stefano: 

Christianity, which teaches that you should strive to be very much better than you are

I think that that statement gets to the heart of western civil religion (i.e. not only what liberal “Christianity” has become but also much of what passes as western Christianity has morphed into).  So many people who regard themselves as Christians in the West see religion generally, and Christianity in particular, as being primarily a self-improvement religion.  The primary purpose of Christianity (or Islam or Judaism or Buddhism or Hinduism) is to help you live a more moral life.  God’s grace is there to help you live a better life then you otherwise could.  This also is why so many western Christians no longer understand why Christianity is unique.  Exclusivist Christians sound mean and not very nice, and that’s not what Christianity is about, they think.  As long as people are nice and appear to live moral lives, a loving God will let them into heaven, they think.

There is, of course, some truth to this in that it is a partial truth (i.e. God’s grace does help us to live better lives), but it isn’t anywhere near being what Christianity is all about.  Christianity is really about accepting that left to ourselves we won’t strive to be better then we are, nor can any striving that we might do, remove the penalty of sin from us; and that only accepting what Jesus’ atoning death has done for us can restore our relationship with God; and that only the Holy Spirit can empower us to be “better then we are”.

[9] Posted by jamesw on 3-18-2011 at 12:00 PM · [top]

Timothy Fountain (#7):  Yes - true Christianity is less about what we can do for ourselves, and more about what God has done for us - especially about what Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross.

[10] Posted by jamesw on 3-18-2011 at 12:03 PM · [top]

Slightly updated version of a post I made at MCJ this morning .. updated since I am no longer rushing out the door to get my daughter to school.

So eventually he gets around to saying this:

There is no code of Christian morality other than “Be perfect” – and we are all forced to decide for ourselves how to failingly pursue this. Even when the person issuing the moral rule is St Paul we must overlook it, for his larger message is that the gospel frees us from moralism.

Did you get that? There is no Christian moral code other than an individualized call to “Be perfect” where each man decides for himself what being ‘perfect’ means. Of course, if he actually meant it he couldn’t say this…

If a racist repents…

… because the sentence implies a general category of moral fault (racism) from which all people are expected to repent. So there is a moral code out there somewhere. He assumes it, but he doesn’t define it, and he doesn’t state any authority behind it. In the meantime, he is going to try to address all those troubling moral issues in the gay community without using words like ‘immoral’ or ‘wrong.’ Instead he uses words like ‘ambiguous’ and ‘dubious.’

Gay rights is joined at the hip to cultural forces that are, from a Christian point of view, dubious.

From a Christian point of view? Wouldn’t that imply some sort of Christian moral code? And just what does ‘dubious’ mean in this sentence? Dubious means “questionable or suspect as to true nature or quality.” Since there is no moral code, and each man is left to work out his own definition of ‘being perfect’ how can anything be ‘dubious?’  Such a judgment would require some kind of binding moral standard.  But he has already ruled out such moralism.  The Gospel (as he sees it) is supposed to free men from exactly these kinds of judgmental attitudes.  I can hear the retort already. “What is dubious to you might not be dubious to me. Go work out being perfect for yourself and leave me alone.”

I mean sexual liberation, individualism, hedonism. We are talking about human desire, which is endlessly fallible.

Fallible according to what standard? Who said these things were bad .. excuse me, morally dubious or ambiguous? These are the foundation stones of modern western culture.  One might suspect that the author believes that some sexual choices are objectively morally superior to other sexual choices.  But how can that be if there is no moral code, and each man is free to work out the meaning of “being perfect” on his own?

And so we reach the conundrum at the center of the article. The author is confronted with a whole lot of destructive and immoral and selfish behaviors that cannot be addressed with the moral language of individualism. He wants to address them. He simply doesn’t know how. The langauge and concepts that would allow him to address a man deserting his wife and children for a gay lover simply no longer exist. And it troubles him. Alot.

carl

[11] Posted by carl on 3-18-2011 at 12:06 PM · [top]

#2 I kept thinking “Ya think???”
Shouldn’t all forms of loving relationship be celebrated?

Well if love == sex this would justify any kind of rape or abuse. The activist is dishonestly equivocating here and NEEDS to be called on it. English only has the one word “love”.

as if the struggle for gay equality is just as righteous as the struggle for racial equality.
What’s the difference? Sexuality is more ambiguous.
...
If a man leaves his wife because he decides he is gay, well, that is more ambiguous.

Well, it goes beyond ambiguous. If an act is immoral, then doing it is immoral. There is nothing “ambiguous” about it. And the liberal accepts unambiguous moral laws. Will the liberal turn a blind eye if someone steals from him or commits adultery with his wife? The liberal is being hypocritical when he invents an artificial distintion here.

#6 read Romans 6. And 7. And Ephesians 2:8-10. Sanctification does not earn salvation. But if you have 0 sanctification and 0 desire for it, you have to ask, “What is the God of my life? What do I really serve? What is really important to me?”

[12] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 3-18-2011 at 12:09 PM · [top]

There may be a lot wrong with this article, but the fact that The Guardian printed it at all is remarkable.

[13] Posted by Fenella J Strange on 3-18-2011 at 12:43 PM · [top]

It would be hard to imagine a better (or worse?) example of someone getting it so right and also so wrong at the same time than this Hobson guy.

I think its a may be a case of shooting in the dark. It is possible to hit the side of a barn while blindfolded. This guy is proof.

But there is always hope. I hope that he will follow his ideas to their logical conclusions. That the entire argument for gay equality is based on rotten assumptions.

[14] Posted by StayinAnglican on 3-18-2011 at 12:43 PM · [top]

Fen JS - I agree.  I think the facts that Theo Hobson had the clarity to write it and took the risk to submit it are remarkable as well. 

Folks here at SF are critiquing some of his theological leanings - can you imagine what he’s going to catch from “the other side?”  He’s going to stand in a very tough spot.  And I appreciate that he was trying to reign in excess and appeal for the good of the whole church.  Yes, we might have formidable disagreements about what that common good will look like, but for an activist Anglican to place the health of the body above the spasms of an eccentric part is another remarkable feature of this piece.

[15] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 3-18-2011 at 12:53 PM · [top]

...can you imagine what he’s going to catch from “the other side?” 

You don’t have to imagine, read the comments.  They are quite upset.

[16] Posted by JustOneVoice on 3-18-2011 at 01:30 PM · [top]

Wow - do you see the hate he is getting from progressives in the comments to the Guardian article.

[17] Posted by driver8 on 3-18-2011 at 01:31 PM · [top]

Hey!  One of the comments at the Guardian demonstrates my point here in comment #1:

There wouldn’t be a gay-friendly subculture within the church if there wasn’t a gay-intolerant culture comprising the rest of it.

The comments are full of the sensitivity, civility, understanding, open-mindedness and other high qualities which the “liberals” claim exist only in themselves (yes, I’m being ironic - just check out the comments!).  In all fairness, a good number of them do not appear to be liberal church people, but the secular types, speaking in platitudes and stereotypes and excuses.

[18] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 3-18-2011 at 02:05 PM · [top]

there was a victimised stridency in his tone that I found offputting

I imagine that Theo Hobson may think that his initial claim is evidenced in buckets full in many of the comments his article has received at the Guardian site. Amazing - since his quite clear he actually agrees with the “cause”

[19] Posted by driver8 on 3-18-2011 at 04:01 PM · [top]

[19] driver8

Amazing - since his quite clear he actually agrees with the “cause”

He has dared to suggest (however tentatively) that boundary markers should be placed around the ‘cause’ when the ‘cause’ defines itself by the eradication of boundaries.  Sexual Liberation involves the instantiation of self-gratification as the penultimate purpose of sex, and the removal of any boundaries that might limit an individual’s ability to achieve that personal gratification.  So, in a sense, Theo Hobson has apostatized. 

carl

[20] Posted by carl on 3-18-2011 at 04:20 PM · [top]

Timothy F.:

He’s going to stand in a very tough spot.  And I appreciate that he was trying to reign in excess and appeal for the good of the whole church.  Yes, we might have formidable disagreements about what that common good will look like, but for an activist Anglican to place the health of the body above the spasms of an eccentric part is another remarkable feature of this piece.

While I think Mr. Hobson should be congratulated for boldly speaking his mind, I don’t think that he was, in this article, seeking to “place the health of the [Anglican] body above the spasms of an eccentric part” nor was he “trying to reign in excess and appeal for the good of the whole church.”  Rather he realizes that liberal christianity’s obsession with the gay issue, and the exceedingly shallow, whiney and narcissistic rationalizations used to support it, will not stand the test of time, and will, in the end he believe, pull down liberal christianity.  What Hobson is doing is not appealing for moderation for the good of the whole Church, but rather appealing to liberal christians to get their theological and intellectual house in order before they disappear into the cesspool of historical irrelevancy.  Hobson is not calling for any recognition of moratoria at all - he nowhere calls for the pause in the gay agenda.  Rather, he is suggesting that liberal christianity is looking increasingly like an empty shell of a secular humanist worldview with a superficial holy varnish that has become completely captive to a specific non-Christian secular social ideology.  Hobson is correct in his diagnosis to that extent, but is mistaken, I think, that there is any intellectual or theological substance at the heart of liberal christianity.

[21] Posted by jamesw on 3-18-2011 at 04:49 PM · [top]

I still think he’s experiencing cognitive dissonance, which comes from his desire for a vibrant, world changing church.  He’s going to have to suffer much more disillusion with the “inclusive/new thing” religion before he has to jettison it for orthodoxy. 

But this piece shows that his conscience is not seared. I don’t deny your analysis of his current theology - but I see signs of hope and I pray for breakthroughs like this for many who seek world-challenging kingdom values in the church.  Many progressives start there, and are seduced by false “prophetic” voices.  It takes many falls into liberal protestantism’s abysmal emptiness before one can come back to Christ, rather than a cause, personality or personal pathology as the object of faith.

[22] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 3-18-2011 at 07:11 PM · [top]

Much of the Church has been taken in by the invented paradigm created by ‘gay’ apologists-propagandists and promoted over the decades:

A. People have a ‘sexual orientation’
B. People either ‘gay’ or ‘straight’ either hetero or homosexual (unless they are ‘bi’ or ‘poly’ or ‘Q’, or any of a whole alphabet of orientations). 
C. People cannot change their ‘orientation’.
D. All sexual orientations are normal, healthy, happy, holy alternatives to heterosexuality.
E. All sexual orientations should be accepted and affirmed.
F. Anyone who disagrees with this is bigoted, hateful and wrong (no matter how much factual evidence they may produce).

Either the ‘gay’ paradigm is true.
- OR -
Scripture, 4000 years of Judeo-Christian teaching, science research, clinical practice in medicine and mental health, CDC and police statistics are true.

Both cannot be true. 

The church needs to examine the evidence and decide whether to believe God, nature, science and facts or a cleverly constructed and violently defended deception fomented by people who cannot carry on a logical (or theological or philosophical or legal) argument.

The church also needs to learn how to minister Christ’s redemption with knowledge, wisdom and compassion, like the early Church did (see I Corinthians 6:9-20)

Homosexuality is not the only kind of sexual brokenness in Western culture.  Porn, adultery and promiscuity are addictions and are epidemic in our culture and these are usually accompanied by substance addictions. 

This creates a cycle - the addicted person cannot parent their child, the child grows up without needed love, stability and guidance, becomes addicted to some pain numbing behavior or substance, and so on…generation after generation is ravaged.

Recovery ministries are now a necessity and is fastest growing type of ministry in churches today.  Celebrate Recovery, developed at Rick Warren’s church, has a recovery ministry for adults, teens and children. 

Fuller University seminary now has a Recovery ministry training program to teach (and to heal broken, wounded) seminary students and pastors how to form and maintain healthy effective Recovery ministries in their local churches.

[23] Posted by St. Nikao on 3-19-2011 at 09:01 AM · [top]

Just noticed at T19 that ENS is trumpeting an “historic” confab of GC delegates (is any of this sentence in plain English?) to come up with SSB stuff for GC 2012.

Right there, the use of the word “historic” proves Hobson’s point about a self-righteous (one might even say delusional) subculture.  Really, the secularists see no need for religion; most Christians see no need for SSBs.  So you have this little, self-describe “historic” group claiming to be the only people on the planet with the truth.  “New thing of the Spirit” indeed.

[24] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 3-19-2011 at 12:01 PM · [top]

When I receive email updates from a certain Christian gay-rights lobby group my heart sinks a little: why are you organizing your own carol service, or Lent group or whatever? I want to ask. Why do you seek this cultish separatism? Do you not see that it does not help your cause?

It does not help the cause if the cause is really acceptance and integration but what if the cause is accumulation of power?

[25] Posted by Betty See on 3-19-2011 at 04:20 PM · [top]

“An accumulation of power,” Betty See?  You bet it is, and they gloat in it!

[26] Posted by cennydd13 on 3-19-2011 at 04:36 PM · [top]

St. Nikao:

Either the ‘gay’ paradigm is true. - OR - Scripture, 4000 years of Judeo-Christian teaching, science research, clinical practice in medicine and mental health, CDC and police statistics are true.

So allow me, as a clinical mental-health practioner, to comment on this supposed gay paradigm:

A. People have a ‘sexual orientation’
Mostly true. For adults, of course. Wiki: Sexual orientation describes a pattern of emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to men, women, both genders, neither gender, or another gender. A very small group of people, asexuals, experience little or no sexual desire, so they could be described as lacking sexual orientation.


B. People either ‘gay’ or ‘straight’ either hetero or homosexual (unless they are ‘bi’ or ‘poly’ or ‘Q’, or any of a whole alphabet of orientations).
Not sure about that, as there’s a verb missing; but it seems to be saying the same as A. So, true, I think…

C. People cannot change their ‘orientation’.
True. People can change their behaviour, but they can’t change their desire. Attempts by therapists to change their patients’ orientation via Conversion Therapy, aka Reparative Therapy, don’t work. (However, a person’s orientation may change over time; but it’s not known why this happens and it’s not subject to conscious control).

D. All sexual orientations are normal, healthy, happy, holy alternatives to heterosexuality.
Obviously untrue; paedophilia is none of those things. But I don’t know of any gay non-paedophile activists who would include that statement as part of their paradigm. So that seems like a strawman.


E. All sexual orientations should be accepted and affirmed.
As with D, there is the crucial issue of consent. Lack of consent renders paedophilia, rape and bestiality etc unacceptable. But what consenting adults get up to behind closed doors is their business. So, basically true.

There is an ethical issue concerning sado-masochism; the current legal position in Britain is that people are allowed to hurt each other as long as there is no permanent harm. (It’s the same issue with boxing, where people consent to being attacked and hurt in the ring).


F. Anyone who disagrees with this is bigoted, hateful and wrong (no matter how much factual evidence they may produce).
Not sure who’s saying that…

So on the whole, from a clinical viewpoint, this ‘gay paradigm’ seems to be mostly true, and the bits that are untrue seem to be strawmen

[27] Posted by Gnu Ordure on 3-19-2011 at 09:00 PM · [top]

I guess that in a secular humanist society, what 2 (or more) consenting adults do in privacy probably doesn’t matter much at all. To the secular humanists, anyway.

However, the Church cannot affirm homosexual practice, or the various other types of defiling sexual immorality, since the punishment for unrepentant sin is eternal death - separate from God in unquenchable fire. Christianity cannot be friendly to sin, because God hates sin.

God lovingly calls us to salvation, and God heals. Reparative therapy does work, if the patient really wants to change. To say that it doesn’t work would be to put God into an awfully small box.

Homosexual practice is a choice. A decision.

[28] Posted by Ralph on 3-19-2011 at 10:47 PM · [top]

Same sex attraction is a conditioned compensatory response and one that God, in His Word and creation, shows is unhealthy, unholy and maladaptive, that is, they lead to negative outcomes. 

Science (just a smattering of the evidence) and statistics (See CDC March 2010 report) have affirmed and reinforced Scripture in this. 

God’s Law and Word are merely statements of fact, what harms human beings, their relationships and societies, and what helps us thrive as individuals and groups.  God’s Commandments are expressions of His love and concern, warnings of danger and guidance to The More Excellent Way of Truth, Love, Life, Joy and Peace with God and other human beings.

It is foolishness to stand against God and worship one’s own destructive feelings and desires.

[29] Posted by St. Nikao on 3-20-2011 at 07:00 AM · [top]

God can and does change our hearts, feelings and desires as we heal from the problems that cause them.  Same as with any addiction or compulsion.

Slavery to any compulsive pervasive sin is not fun and takes over our souls, identities, lives.  It begins small, with thoughts, then beliefs, then actions, then compulsions, slavery, mental distress, disease and finally death.

God has provided the power, the love and the way out.  There is help.  It is hard, but absolutely worth it.
The people who have allowed God to change their desires and are exceedingly, joyfully, thoroughly glad they did!

[30] Posted by St. Nikao on 3-20-2011 at 07:11 AM · [top]

Same-sex attraction is probably more like alcoholism than anything else, as being an habituated response of “self-medication” to ease the pain of dysfunctional parenting (often a physically or emotionally absent father in the case of same-sex attracted males) or a traumatic event such as being the victim of sexual abuse.

The more a person has engaged in same-sex sexual activity, the harder it is to cease such activity.  The various member ministries of Exodus International have learned that behavior ceases first, but, like alcoholism, the attraction takes time to fade away - and vigilance, along with the support of others. Regeneration Ministries (of Baltimore and No Va, which is the group I know best) has a series of courses and support groups to help recovering same-sex attracted individuals, and their families, in the process.  It is not easy or instant, but many people do emerge whole and healthy. As in AA, some fall back.  That should not be surprising; the condition is not a surface issue, and sometimes the pain of changing is more than a person wants to bear - but there are many people who thankfully can say that, in Christ, they have escaped a bleak wilderness and now have life, and life far better than they had hoped.

[31] Posted by AnglicanXn on 3-21-2011 at 02:10 PM · [top]

St. Nikao, you seem to be missing the point I was making. You said that:

Either the ‘gay’ paradigm is true. - OR - Scripture, 4000 years of Judeo-Christian teaching, science research, clinical practice in medicine and mental health, CDC and police statistics are true.

I’m pointing out that much of what you claim to be the gay paradigm is in fact endorsed by science and clinical medical practice. Particularly with regard to Conversion/Reparative Therapy. Wiki:

No major mental health professional organization has sanctioned efforts to change sexual orientation and most of them have adopted policy statements cautioning the profession and the public about treatments that purport to change sexual orientation. These include the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Counseling Association, National Association of Social Workers in the USA,, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and the Australian Psychological Society.

AnglicanXn:

Same-sex attraction is probably more like alcoholism than anything else, as being an habituated response of “self-medication” to ease the pain of dysfunctional parenting (often a physically or emotionally absent father in the case of same-sex attracted males) or a traumatic event such as being the victim of sexual abuse.

St. Nikao:

Same sex attraction is a conditioned compensatory response

I was looking through Exodus International’s website. They say this about the origins of homosexual orientation.:

Is there any male out there who has struggled with unwanted same-sex attractions who has not wondered, “How did this become a part of me?” Didn’t think so.  Indeed, that question haunted me for years and years. Let me immediately give you the answer you have longed to learn:  no one knows! There … are you satisfied?  Didn’t think so.

Unfortunately, that is the answer.  Despite centuries of attempts to learn, neither the Bible nor science has given the individual man his answer.  Thus, whenever you hear a counselor or researcher or pastor pronounce with certainty as to what causes homosexuality – beware.  Oh sure, there are a lot of theories that claim to know the answer.  They don’t.

I agree with them. And the mainstream medical establishment also agrees with them:

The American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association stated in 2006: “Currently, there is no scientific consensus about the specific factors that cause an individual to become heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual—including possible biological, psychological, or social effects of the parents’ sexual orientation”.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists stated in 2007: “Despite almost a century of psychoanalytic and psychological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person’s fundamental heterosexual or homosexual orientation. It would appear that sexual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment.

The American Academy of Pediatrics stated in 2004: Sexual orientation probably is not determined by any one factor but by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences. In recent decades, biologically based theories have been favored by experts. Although there continues to be controversy and uncertainty as to the genesis of the variety of human sexual orientations, there is no scientific evidence that abnormal parenting, sexual abuse, or other adverse life events influence sexual orientation. Current knowledge suggests that sexual orientation is usually established during early childhood.

The experts aren’t sure; Exodus International aren’t sure. So on what basis or evidence do you guys contradict them and so confidently claim to know the true answers?

Gnu.

[32] Posted by Gnu Ordure on 3-24-2011 at 05:14 PM · [top]

The gnu writes:

I’m pointing out that much of what you claim to be the gay paradigm is in fact endorsed by science and clinical medical practice.

However, there’s no science backing that endorsement. It’s only opinions, and fairly recent ones at that, formulated by liberals (some of whom were closeted homosexuals) who had been berated by homosexual activists. There’s a good deal of opinionated pseudoscience on the topic as well as on various types of conversion therapy. I would thus agree that nobody knows exactly what causes same sex attraction.

However, we know EXACTLY what causes homosexual practice - it’s a conscious decision, usually made after some years of pornographic fantasy.

As for reparative therapy, a person facing UNWANTED sexual impulses can certainly learn how to resist them, via the power of prayer. I’m not aware of any evidence that forced conversion therapy works, and agree that it could be psychologically damaging.

I don’t know if same sex attraction can be changed (there are scientific and pseudoscientific articles, as well as anecdotal reports, on either side of that question), but I do know that to say sexual temptation cannot be resisted, or same sex attraction cannot be changed would put God into an awfully small box.

Anyone openly supporting ex-gay ministry these days incurs a firestorm of unrestrained hate speech from homosexual activists, as was recently the case for Exodus International and their iPhone app. But Exodus Interntional is only one of several who claim success, and these ministries must continue. Souls depend on them.

[33] Posted by Ralph on 3-24-2011 at 07:59 PM · [top]

Sorry for the double-post…but I forgot to add something. Here’s a link to what I think is a well-written article that describes how the Church might respond to SSA vs. homosexual practice. The full article can be downloaded from the bottom of that page. Though it was prepared by the Roman Catholic Church, I see it as being compatible with Lambeth I.10. The distinction between SSA and homosexual practice is CRITICALLY important, yet blurred by the homosexual activists.

[34] Posted by Ralph on 3-24-2011 at 08:16 PM · [top]

Gnu, you seem to be talking out of both sides of your mouth.

You claim not to know what causes SSA, yet all the examples you cite lean towards a biological explanation.

And yet those words contradict the empirical evidence we have of identical twins, one of which grows up straight the other of which grows up gay. Clearly biology, though it may contribute a tendency towards SSAs cannot be the determining factor. No matter how “complex [the] interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment”, twins have the same genes and same environment.

So my question to you would be, why are you so eager to ditch empirical evidence in favor of a loaded “theory” whose only merit is that it would bolster your talking points? Ever hear of confirmation bias? And as has been repeated ad nauseum here in response to you: why would you think that an innate tendency towards an action would justify that action? Talking innate tendencies is a red herring, really. You must confront the morality of the action itself.

[35] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 3-26-2011 at 09:07 AM · [top]

Ralph:

However, there’s no science backing that endorsement.

Why do you say that? Do you really think psychologists and psychiatrists just spout opinions? They are scientists, y’know.

I would thus agree that nobody knows exactly what causes same sex attraction.

Agreed. So why do St Nikao and AnglicanXn claim that they know the causes?

However, we know EXACTLY what causes homosexual practice - it’s a conscious decision

Agreed, but that’s not the issue - the issue is whether the orientation itself is a conscious decision. Some of you believe it is, without any evidence at all.

As for reparative therapy, a person facing UNWANTED sexual impulses can certainly learn how to resist them, via the power of prayer.

The fact that Reparative Therapy requires the use of prayer disqualifies it from being psychotherapy. If I applied to Exodus International to be one of their recommended psychotherapists, they wouldn’t accept me because I’m not a Christian. So Reparative Therapy is a religious procedure more than a medical one.

But Exodus Interntional is only one of several who claim success,

Their claims have not been substantiated.

Gnu.

[36] Posted by Gnu Ordure on 3-27-2011 at 03:53 PM · [top]

SpongJohn:

You claim not to know what causes SSA, yet all the examples you cite lean towards a biological explanation.

Not entirely, though. As I said, the American Academy of Pediatrics stated in 2004: Sexual orientation probably is not determined by any one factor but by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences.

They say ‘probably’ because they don’t know for sure, but that’s the way the evidence points.

And yet those words contradict the empirical evidence we have of identical twins, one of which grows up straight the other of which grows up gay.

So in those cases, the difference would be due to environmental influences of some kind.

So my question to you would be, why are you so eager to ditch empirical evidence in favor of a loaded “theory” whose only merit is that it would bolster your talking points?

Nice try, SpongJohn. I’m happy with empirical evidence, and I’m not pushing a theory - the current scientific consensus is that the exact causes of SSA are unknown, though the evidence points in certain directions.

On the other hand, some of you confidently claim to know the causes of SSA - even though Exodus International agree with the scientists.

Why are some of you so eager to believe in the theory that sexual orientation is a conscious choice?

Possibly because it has the merit of bolstering your religious doctrines?

Gnu.

[37] Posted by Gnu Ordure on 3-27-2011 at 04:36 PM · [top]

Do you really think psychologists and psychiatrists just spout opinions? They are scientists, y’know.

Scientists often spout opinions, in ignorance of proven fact. I’ve even done that myself. Science doesn’t know everything. A bad scientist pretends that he does.

Agreed, but that’s not the issue - the issue is whether the orientation itself is a conscious decision. Some of you believe it is, without any evidence at all.

That’s what you (and many other liberals) have made the issue. We all face temptation to various kinds of sin. The issue is the consequences of what happens when we succumb to temptation, and don’t repent. The Bible speaks to those who have same-sex attraction, in that it says that if you’ve got it, don’t do it. The Bible doesn’t condemn same-sex attraction, but it universally condemns homosexual practice.

The secular-humanist viewpoint of sex, as far as I understand it, is that sex is nothing more than a really pleasurable, fun activity - and if 2 or more people want to do it together, let them do it. The secular-humanist would properly be concerned about the possibility of physical harm, illness, and psychological damage in sexual relationships. These are serious, but temporal. The real concern for the Church is spiritual damage. Quenching of the Holy Spirit. God leaving the Temple. To the point: eternal hell-fire.

The fact that Reparative Therapy requires the use of prayer disqualifies it from being psychotherapy. If I applied to Exodus International to be one of their recommended psychotherapists, they wouldn’t accept me because I’m not a Christian. So Reparative Therapy is a religious procedure more than a medical one.

Nobody can be healed of homosexual practice without wanting to be healed, and praying. Nobody can do it alone, without God. God is the source of all healing.

I wouldn’t send someone to a therapist who would smilingly affirm same-sex attraction, and the progression to homosexual practice. A secular-humanist approach to psychotherapy? Separating the spirit from the body and the mind? Yikes!

Their claims have not been substantiated.

Scientifically, you mean. A biased scientist can consciously or unconsciously design and carry out a study to show anything. Some sort of long-term controlled clinical trial, with a rigorous experimental design approved in advance and overseen by all concerned parties, I suppose? That would be nice. But, such a study has never been done. All we have is the testimonials of persons who have (so far) responded to faith-based therapy, and the testimonials of those who have (so far) not.

[38] Posted by Ralph on 3-27-2011 at 08:42 PM · [top]

Science doesn’t know everything. A bad scientist pretends that he does.

Ralph, how dare you speak such BLASPHEMY!!!!! You have contravened the creed of the humanist religion, and you must be punished with all the rigour that their dogma requires.

We must start with your re-education (which will not avoid your ritual burning in the name of secular “religion”, but lets not worry about that just yet).

Instead I want you to memorise this:

Creed
We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin.
We believe everything is OK
as long as you don’t hurt anyone,
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before during
and after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy’s OK
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything’s getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated.
You can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there’s something in horoscopes,
UFO’s and bent spoons;
Jesus was a good man just like Buddha
Mohammed and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher although we think
his good morals were bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same,
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of
creation sin heaven hell God and salvation.

We believe that after death comes The Nothing
because when you ask the dead what happens
they say Nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied,
then it’s compulsory heaven for all
excepting perhaps Hitler, Stalin and Genghis Khan.

We believe in Masters and Johnson.
What’s selected is average.
What’s average is normal.
What’s normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between
warfare and bloodshed.
Americans should beat their guns into tractors
and the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It’s only his behaviour that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth
that is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust. History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds and flowering of individual thought.
[Steve Turner]

Many many people believe all this. YOU MUST BELIEVE IT TOO. Without question. The “majority” (take that anyway you like) must be right. And on no account THINK about it - just believe it!

[39] Posted by MichaelA on 3-27-2011 at 09:33 PM · [top]

I bow to your eloquence.

[40] Posted by Ralph on 3-28-2011 at 05:57 AM · [top]

Ralph:

Scientists often spout opinions, in ignorance of proven fact.

Maybe so, but in this case, they’re all agreed that the exact causes of SSA are currently unknown. The evidence points to genetic, hormonal and environmental influences; and there’s no evidence that SSA is subject to conscious decision.

“the issue is whether the orientation itself is a conscious decision. Some of you believe it is, without any evidence at all.”

That’s what you (and many other liberals) have made the issue.

No, you make it the issue by making the claim. It’s your claim, you back it up. 

Science doesn’t know everything.

True. Who’s claiming it does?

The secular-humanist viewpoint of sex, as far as I understand it, is that sex is nothing more than a really pleasurable, fun activity

Then your understanding is limited.

Nobody can be healed of homosexual practice without wanting to be healed, and praying.

As I said, if praying is required then it’s a religious procedure, not a medical one.

“Their claims have not been substantiated.”

Scientifically, you mean

I mean statistically. Medical procedures vary according to their success rate. Some simple procedures may be 100% effective, others may be 90%, or 50%, others so low that the ‘success’ may be explained in terms of the placebo effect or natural healing. So the question is, what’s the success rate for Reparative Therapy? If you go to their site, you’ll see that the first question in their FAQ section is this crucial question: What’s the success rate for turning gays into straights?

And if you read their answer, you’ll see that they refuse to answer it! (Here)

Let’s rephrase that question. Is there realistic hope that men and women who experience same-sex attraction can overcome those temptations and lead a life of sexual integrity? Can they reasonably expect a time when same-sex attraction will no longer dominate their existence, determine their behavior, or define their identity? The answer to those questions is yes!

Why does the question have to be rephrased? Why not just answer it? As it stands, that’s just a dodge.

Gnu.

[41] Posted by Gnu Ordure on 3-28-2011 at 05:32 PM · [top]

Registered members are welcome to leave comments. Log in here, or register here.

Comment Policy: We pride ourselves on having some of the most open, honest debate anywhere. However, we do have a few rules that we enforce strictly. They are: No over-the-top profanity, no racial or ethnic slurs, and no threats real or implied of physical violence. Please see this post for more explanation, and the posts here, here, and here for advice on becoming a valued commenter as opposed to an ex-commenter. Although we rarely do so, we reserve the right to remove or edit comments, as well as suspend users' accounts, solely at the discretion of site administrators. Since we try to err on the side of open debate, you may sometimes see comments which you believe strain the boundaries of our rules. Comments are the opinions of visitors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Stand Firm site administrators or Gri5th Media, LLC.