The “Conversion Therapy” Controversy Part 1

Are you “pro-choice?”

Those on the left side of the political spectrum often like to describe themselves by this title, loudly proclaiming that medical decisions should be between an individual and their doctor or service provider. Yet if you support a (sic) “woman’s right to choose” in regards to abortion, why would you not also support the rights of consenting adults with unwanted same sex attraction (hereafter referred to as SSA) to get help if they so choose?

Banning so-called “Conversion Therapy” has become a rallying cry in the modern political establishment. Yet “Conversion Therapy” is a pejorative term with no concrete definition. It is used almost exclusively by those seeking to discredit anyone offering support to those with unwanted SSA. No distinction is recognized between genuine licensed therapists and fringe groups such as those depicted in films like Boy Erased. In his book The War on Psychotherapy, Christopher John Doyle writes:

Because the term “conversion therapy” deceptively associates religious practice, “conversion,” with the term appropriate for licensed professions, “therapy.” This is yet another bait and switch strategy. The reality is that religious practices are not psychotherapy, and psychotherapy is not religious practice… The term “conversion therapy” also helps opponents lump unlicensed and licensed actors into one group. In this way, (opponents) can collect smears on a lay counselor, member of the clergy, or coach, none of whom are licensed psychotherapy professionals, and make it appear that such smears apply to all unlicensed and licensed actors. ¹

The fact is that we have only been allowed to hear one side of the debate. For example, Amazon and other book dealers have made the controversial decision to remove books on ex-gay topics (yet interestingly, continue to sell Mein Kemph, The Anarchist Cookbook and The Satanic Bible). Further, YouTube has also been known to censor or remove videos related to this topic. Since America has always been about the free and open exchange of ideas, one must ask why one side is so desperate to suppress the voice of the other?²

Much of the controversy stems from the belief that homosexuality is innately fixed at birth and consequentially, can never change. While this theory has been around for decades, it became increasingly popular in the early 1990s through the work of homosexual researchers Dean Hamer, who attempted to link male homosexuality to a bit of DNA located at the tip of the X chromosome, and Simon LeVay, who studied the hypothalamic differences between the brains of homosexual and heterosexual men. However, both researchers have openly stated that their findings have been greatly exaggerated.

For example, Hamer writes that “Homosexuality is not purely genetic…environmental factors play a role. There is not a single master gene that makes people gay. . . . I don’t think we will ever be able to predict who will be gay³”. In LeVay’s words, “It’s important to stress what I didn’t find. I did not prove that homosexuality is genetic, or find a genetic cause for being gay. I didn’t show that gay men are born that way, the most common mistake people make in interpreting my work. Nor did I locate a gay center in the brain .⁴”
The fact is that people’s experiences with SSA vary widely. Some do indeed have these feelings from a very young age, while others develop them later in life. Still others experience them for a season, then cease to have them. This fluidity is acknowledged with increasing candor by many within the gay community.

Nonetheless, not everyone who experiences SSA wishes to act on it. Their reasons may be religious, cultural, hygienic or based on any number of factors. For those who find themselves in this situation, qualified therapists in these fields provide a vital service.

This very helpful FAQ features an in-depth examination of what this therapy is and is not. But in short, it is counseling. That’s it. Furthermore, it is done by licensed, professional therapists using very mainstream techniques. The purpose is simply to provide support to people who have unwanted same sex attraction. No one is tortured, lobotomized or subjected to shock therapy, nor is it simply an attempt to “Pray the Gay Away.” In the words of noted practitioner Joe Dallas, himself a former homosexual:

“… we never do, nor have, referred to it as “Conversion Therapy”… We don’t yell at people. We don’t hit them with Bibles. We don’t (as some people amazingly charge) offer shock treatment as a bonus. We take Biblical principles and help people apply them to all aspects of their lives, sexuality included. We talk, we listen, we advise.⁵”

It is also important to acknowledge that the therapy is voluntary. No ethical therapist of any discipline would attempt to treat someone against their will, especially a child. Even if they did, it would be a waste of time for everyone involved because the intended subject would not be receptive to it. Dallas further explains:

For the past 31 years I’ve disappointed parents who wanted to force their kids into the Biblical counseling I do, unwilling to take someone under coercion… It’s akin to paying for someone’s gym membership when they themselves don’t want to work out…. Besides, there is something violating about forcing, or even pressuring, anyone to get help you feel they need, but they themselves have no desire for.⁶

So, as we have seen, the actual work of therapists in this area is a far cry from the media caricatures. Rather, the practitioner simply provides insight, encouragement and moral support. Ideally, the person seeking help will eventually transition successfully into a heterosexual lifestyle. But even if they don’t, the support continues as they seek a life of faithful celibacy. We will examine how this works further in part 2 of this discussion.

Keep It real,

James

NOTES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY:

1. Doyle, Christopher John. The War on Psychotherapy, Kindle edition.

2. For more information on the ongoing propaganda campaign that has brought us to this point, see the 1988 essay The Overhauling of Straight America which was further expanded into the 1989 book After the Ball.
3. Byrd, A. Dean. Cox, Shirley E. Robinson, Jeffrey W. Homosexuality: The Innate-Immutability Argument Finds No Basis in Science., http://www.adherents.com/misc/glbt_science.html The Salt Lake Tribune. Sunday, May 27, 2001.
4. Ibid.

5. Dallas, Joe. Man Engraved: A Response to “Boy Erased.” 2018.

6. Ibid.
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