Monday, February 11, 2013

Q&A on Alan's Statement about Reparative Therapy

I received this question from an Anonymous comment to my last post: "What Does Ex-Gay or Change Mean to Me":  
"What do you think about Alan Chambers saying Reparative Therapy doesn't work, that 99.9% of 'ex-gays' still have SSA, and that gays can go to heaven just by believing in Jesus?"
I appreciate your questions. I have corresponded with Alan via email about his statements a few times.  For brevity’s sake, I will respond to the first question here and the second question in a second post (See Part 2: Question on Salvation). First I’d like to start out with the areas where I agree with Alan. My faith in Christ and my moral convictions are independent of whether or not my SSA (Same-Sex Attraction) is ever “cured.”

When I was in High School and in my 20’s, I came to a conclusion based on the fact that I had not been able to “Pray Away the Gay” and my assumption that Reparative Therapy could “work” (provide a complete cure). I concluded that the modern gay construct was my permanent identity and that people with SSA (Same-Sex Attraction) should claim that identity and pursue gay relationships.   

After twelve years, I realized that all of my gay relationships and all of those I witnessed in others (including several long-term ones) were actually causing me and others real emotional (and sometimes physical) harm. The LOVE and male connection that we were all seeking seemed to be more and more elusive. I realized that real Love (as defined in 1Corinthians 13) requires sacrifice and putting others first. My homosexual inclinations (both romantic and sexual) run counter to that. I can choose to indulge my selfish wants OR I can choose to give and receive REAL LOVE, but I cannot do both at the same time.

Judeo-Christian moral teaching is very clear that sexual relationships are reserved for heterosexual marriage and that any acts outside of that sacred bond are harmful physically, emotionally, and spiritually to everyone involved. I learned the hard way that they were correct in this. God’s word is the Lighthouse, I can ignore it if I want – but the rocks along the shore aren’t going anywhere. Objective Truth doesn’t  change. My choices to pursue romantic and sexual relationships with other guys made me (and them) more isolated, more insecure, and more wounded emotionally.  In 2009, I began to realize that whether Reparative Therapy “works” or not is completely IRRELEVANT because the gay construct and the gay lifestyle also do not work.

Q1) Alan’s comments on Reparative Therapy.
OK, I'll stop rambling and get back to the actual question: Alan's statements about Reparative Therapy. This a secondary issue of lesser importance than the issue above on which agree. 

I want to start by pointing out that the work of Exodus International is distinctly different from Reparative Therapy. They have occasionally invited guest speakers and sold books about it, but they do not actually practiced or experienced it. This is OK because their primary ministry and intention is not about “becoming straight” – although some churches and people on the outside may have interpreted it that and certainly some individuals have made statements that would give that impression. 

It is important to note though that Alan’s descriptions of Reparative Therapy demonstrate very clearly that he is misinformed about what Reparative Therapy is and what it does. His statement that 99.9% do not experience a complete elimination of SSA (Same-Sex Attraction) was specifically referring to individuals he has ministered to within Exodus - and most (if not all) of them have never participated in any form of actual Reparative Therapy. That does not mean that Reparative Therapy "works" or does "not work." It simply means that Alan has no bases of information to make any claims about the efficacy of or pros and cons of Reparative Therapy. He has chosen to distance Exodus from the concept of "Change" for many reasons (some of which I agree with), but none of this has anything to do with the actual work of Reparative Therapy.

I personally HAVE experienced significant benefits from Reparative Therapy. It was a godsend for me and everyone I know who has actually participated in Reparative Therapy would say it benefited them in many ways. It does not claim to be a “cure” or to remove all traces of SSA (Same-Sex Attraction) but it is very beneficial for healing emotional wounds and relational disconnection that many of us with SSA experience.  It has improved EVERY aspect of life significantly. It has also reduced my SSA significantly.

My sister has epilepsy and takes a prescription. While this prescription is not a complete “cure” (she STILL has epilepsy), she has not had a seizure in over ten years and is able to live a pretty normal life. I cannot imagine banning her prescription (or discouraging her taking it) simply because it is not a complete cure. IF they did not currently have medications to help with Epilepsy, I would say the most charitable and loving course of action for medical researchers would be to continue researching to find effective treatments. I would say the same for Homosexuality and any other potentially debilitating condition.

As I mentioned above, I will respond to the second question (Alan's comments on Salvation) is a separate post. While I might disagree with Alan on some theological points, I also believe his critics went way too far in their criticism. I will expound on that in the next post.

Pax Christi,

1 comment:

  1. Jeremy, just found your site. This is really insightful. Thanks!