Wikipedia on Reparative Therapy

One of the common problems I find with groups/websites decrying ex-gay ministries is a strange muddle of widely varying techniques, some current and not, and a healthy dose of personal prejudice and opinion.  You’ll see what I mean when this series of posts on ex-gay and anti-ex-gay groups gets going later.  (I’m amazed that I took this project on as in order to do it justice, I’m going to have to go in-depth.)

So in the research for these articles, I go to the Wikipedia looking for something that might pass for a standard definition.  I find this:

Reparative therapists have used many techniques over time, but the current focus is on counseling, both individually and in groups. Often this involves identifying subliminal emotional needs behind same gender desires and attempting to replace them with non-sexual means of expression, usually by encouraging the subject to form a non-sexual, emotional bond with another adult of the same gender. Counselling might stress perceived health and other risks of same-sex attraction. Most therapists come from a religious, usually Christian, perspective, and implement religious instruction, prayer, fasting, and meditation into their methodology. Secular techniques include reading and sports or other physical activities.

Some techniques (which were also used for a wide array of other perceived psychological and psychiatric issues) are no longer used, such as electroconvulsive therapy and aversion therapy (such as showing subjects homoerotic material whilst inducing nausea and vomiting through drugs).

At least they make a differentiation between secular and Christian therapies.  That’s more than I’ve seen in my reading thus far.  We’re fortunate at Mars Hill in that the supervising Pastor has training in counseling; our church is busy training other counselors for not only same sex attraction issues, but other issues such as sexual abuse and sexual addiction.  We recognize that Satan has a vested interest in destroying the men of the church and that it can easily come through sexual means.  Other churches are beginning to see the light.  I’m hopeful that through these programs, and seeing the problem in their own churches, other members of the church can see that gay and transgendered people aren’t some hot button issue for Republican politicians to jiggle, but that they’re real flesh and blood people with souls that God cares deeply for.  That it’s not an us vs. them issue, but a matter of being real, reflecing Christ, and being compassionate because those men and women in their congregation who deal with this issue are watching — constantly — and wondering if it’s safe to seek help.

Okay.  Off the soapbox and off the diversion.  Onward.

I admit, freely and cheerfully, that I am biased towards Jesus.  My own sense of masculinity is a journey between He and I, but also in the larger context of community.  This is one area I don’t see enough of.  In some respects, having homosexuality being such a mainstream issue these days is opening up social barriers and allowing straight men to talk about this issue freely.  I see it happening in my church, somewhat, and I’m grateful for the men who have stepped forward and volunteered to be mentors and friends to guys who are dealing with same sex attractions.  But there needs to be more of this, much more.  At some point, we need to get past the official organizations that are designed to help men and women find freedom and strength in Christ to deal with this issue, and we have to open it up to the larger church and encourage straight men to stand up and be counted in this area, to volunteer to provide guidance and community for those of us who are struggling.  I hear it happening some, but I lean heavy to believing that Christ created community for his people and to live outside of that community, to self-isolate, is to become a defeated believer.  I want to see men, on a casual and not official sort of basis, start to open up their groups, their communities, and make them a safe place for men to confess, repent, and find acceptance and identity as God, their creator, designed for them.  I believe this will happen as former gay men and women step out and make themselves known, and as straight men take up their challenge to be substantial mentors for these men and to encourage and accept them; maybe, even, walk along side them.  Maybe a night out at the ballpark, a BBQ at their home, a buncha guys just sitting around smoking cigars, shooting the breeze.

There are ways to find health and change that even the Wiki glosses over.  Somebody should offer to write a few paragraphs about this that aren’t so laden with bias.  Then again, when you’re watching alleged news shows that show male patients being spanked by their therapists, or told to beat a pillow with a tennis racket and scream out their anger towards their mother, I’m surprised the ex-gay movement is alive at all.  It will take people being strong and courageous, willing to step forward in their churches and make themselves, and their needs, known.

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~ by WriterRand on December 21, 2006.

4 Responses to “Wikipedia on Reparative Therapy”

  1. It is a lovely piece of rehtoric but is flawed from your basic premis that you have it right and people who are different from you are wrong and YOU are going to correct God’s cretion.
    In short you are engaging in religious abuse of you fellow man,using you religious beleifs to batter them.
    A person doesn’t have to be any lable,straight ,gay or trans to love Jesus thsy just have to be.Stop trying to play GOD.If I recall my Bible reading Jesus didn’t have a very high opinion of people like you,but he loved you just as much as any other person.Peace on Earth & a Holy CHRISTMAS to ALL

  2. I hear you. I wwas right with you.

    But the problem, as I came to see it, was to BE that which God created and to not be something that was not that person. I came to see that things happened to me…or, more precisely, *didn’t* happen to me…early on in my life that altered my emotional and sexual development and scarred my self identity so early, before I became self-aware of my situation, that the only thing I could do was sexualize feelings on a primal level that I didn’t understand. It didn’t make sense to me until I fell in love with someone I thought was my Mr. Right and realized that he was the fulfillment of so much of what I thought I wanted and yet I was still hungry. Very hungry. When God offered me a glimpse of the man I so longed to become, I understood that I labelled myself gay when that was not the deepest desire I had.

    I’m not pummeling my faith on anyone, just expressing it publicly on a blog that’s doing some interesting business. I will pray that you’ll find a nonjudgmental space to converse here, to share your opinions and experiences, and that you’ll allow others their journey while similarly withholding judgment. As C.S. Lewis once said, “God himself does not presume to judge a man until he dies. Why should I?”

    Blessings to you, friend.

  3. It was so right what you said about heterosexuals in church opening up their lives to people fighting same sex attraction. Along with prayer and Scripture this has been a great help to me. This not only takes the form of mentoring, but also non-mentoring friendships where we both confess our faults and pray for each other.

  4. Amen.

    From what I hear, Mars Hill is leading well in the realm of church-based recovery. I’d trade an Exodus ministry for an open-and-honest church environment without hesitation; however, that should be the functional goal of Exodus ministries in the first place: educating and training the local church to assist those struggling with same-sex attractions.

    I hope to play a larger role in informing the leadership of my church home — a recently-planted Bible church near the university campus — about these issues. Now that I’ve confirmed my return to Seattle this summer, I look forward to observing and, Lord-willing, participating in the recovery ministry at MHC.

    Blessings to you, my brother in Christ.

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