Saturday, February 10, 2007

Equis, Dos-Equis Agree

The CRC's complaint to the state school board had a couple of central issues. One was, they objected to the inclusion of a statement that sexual orientation is innate. To argue that, they changed the subject and talked about genetics, I guess assuming that "genetics" and "innateness" are the same thing. Aren't they assuming that evolutionary theory, which posits that genes are responsible for the characteristics of a species, is correct? I somehow would not have expected them to be big defenders of Darwin.

Hey, what's a little self-contradiction among true believers?

The other main complaint, if you dig through the text, is that the new curriculum doesn't say anything about "ex-gays." They talk about "ex-gays" or "former homosexuals" as if there were another point on the continuum of sexual orientation: heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual ... "ex-gay." They insist this makes sense. It's not that a person who used to be gay and now isn't would be called ... heterosexual. They get their own point on the scale, wherever that would go.

This is a made-up debate, a cruel hoax, as they say. It creates an excuse to discuss whether gay people can pray the gay away. They can't, but groups like the CRC cruelly want to keep the false hope alive for those poor guys who find themselves out of synch with their religion's dogma.

The fact is, there are a lot more ex-ex-gays, "dos equis" as someone in our comments section called them, than ex-gays.

This brings us to the miraculous recovery of the former president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Ted Haggard, who after being outed by a gay hooker, went into some kind of treatment place in Arizona and came out after three weeks "completely heterosexual."

Here we will quote the Associated Baptist Press:
WASHINGTON (ABP) -- Claims by one of Ted Haggard's spiritual overseers that he is now "100 percent heterosexual" should be taken with a significant grain of salt, according to experts with differing opinions on the value of "ex-gay" or sexual-reorientation therapy.

Haggard stepped down as president of the National Association of Evangelicals -- and was forced to resign as pastor of the Colorado Springs, Colo., megachurch he founded 22 years before -- in November. The moves came following allegations from a Denver male prostitute that Haggard had paid him for sex and crystal methamphetamine over a three-year period.

Haggard initially denied the claims but later admitted "sexual immorality" to his congregation. He then went into a period of counseling with a board of overseers appointed by his congregation, New Life Church. Experts on both sides of 'ex-gay' debate skeptical about Haggard cure claim

A significant grain of salt. Yes, that is very restrained language in this religious publication, and we appreciate their prudence. We, on the other hand, are not so constrained. We would be more likely here to say that Haggard's change of heart is a "crock," or something like that.
In an e-mail circulated to members of New Life on Feb. 4, Haggard broke his three-month silence on the subject. "We all wanted to know why I developed such incongruity in my life," he wrote. "Thankfully, with the tools we gained there, along with the powerful way God has been illuminating his Word and the Holy Spirit has been convicting me and healing me, we now have growing understanding which is giving me some hope for the future."

Haggard has reportedly reached a settlement with church leaders that forbids him from speaking publicly about the matter. But two experts -- one supportive, one not -- of therapy designed to change the sexual orientation of gays said Ralph's claim about Haggard may strain credulity.

Mmm, yes, that's handy, he's promised not to talk about it.

Look, I want to know something. Did Haggard ever actually say he was gay? Is he saying that he switched from gay to straight in three weeks of counseling, or is his story that he wasn't gay at all, he just ... went downtown every once in a while for recreational, you know, sex and drugs with a gay hooker? Like ... who doesn't?
"To be honest, I'm not aware of the specifics of what Mr. Haggard went through. But in my own personal experience that's not the case -- and in the experience of everyone I've talked to," said Randy Thomas, vice president of the Florida-based group Exodus International. Exodus' website says the organization believes that "reorientation of same-sex attraction is possible" through therapy "based upon a personal relationship with Jesus Christ."

But Thomas, who says he formerly struggled with a gay orientation, said successfully re-orienting one's sexuality typically takes much longer.

Yes, we have heard that, too. Much longer. Like, longer than a lifetime.
Likewise, Utah psychologist Lee Beckstead said one's perception of his or her own sexuality may not square with one's actual physical attractions.

"The problem with this whole phenomenon is, it’s a complex thing -- the way people describe themselves and describe their sexuality, if you take it at face value, there's lots of ways to be misled," he said.

Beckstead, like the majority of mental-health professionals, believes much of "ex-gay" therapy is psychologically harmful for people with homosexual orientations. However, he has done extensive research into the effects of sexual-reorientation therapy on people who have strong religious motivations for avoiding homosexual contact. Beckstead has argued among his peers for a more nuanced understanding of the psyches of such people before dismissing all aspects of "ex-gay" therapy.

People with religiously based antipathy toward homosexuality "need to see themselves as heterosexual, and their communities need to see them as heterosexual," he said. "And so that kind of pressure kind of distorts the facts and distorts the information they present to other people."

Beckstead also noted the distinctions between different kinds of understandings of sexuality. "If someone says they're heterosexual, does that mean their sexual identity, their sexual orientation or their sexual behavior?" he asked.

OK, we're cool with that, nuance. Complexity. Agreed. He's nicer about it than we'd be, but that's OK. To this guy, it's not a cruel hoax, it just oversimplifies a little bit.

Hmmm, here's one I hadn't thought of:
"Sexuality doesn't go away -- people have learned how to suppress it or repress it or distract themselves from it or repackage it," he said. But the sexual drive and attractions -- it's almost like putting a beach ball underwater. It's always going to pop back up."

And that would be because sexual orientation is innate.

Thanks to ExGay Watch for catching this one. I just might not have read this week's Associated Baptist Press if they hadn't linked to it. ExGay Watch went the extra mile and looked into this Beckworth fellow. As they note:
Although the Associated Baptist Press presents Lee Beckstead as having a “differing opinion” on sexual-reorientation therapy, it should be understood that Beckstead is a defender of some change therapy (under certain circumstances) and is a referred and presents himself as a source for from the LDS Church (the Mormons).
Much of Beckstead’s thinking appears to me to be similar to the values-based counseling currently being discussed by Dr. Warren Throckmorton. We may discuss Beckstead further in that context.

I suggest you read the comments to that post, as well. As usual, ExGay Watch has a serious, honest discussion of this therapist and his work within the Mormon community. Very interesting. Nuance. Complexity, yes.


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