This blog started out as a companion piece to my book, Musings from the Christian Left (excerpts of which can be found in the July 2004 link) and to support a planned radio show. Now, its simply a long term writing project from a Christian Left Libertarian perspective (meaning I often argue for liberty within the (Catholic) Church, rather than liberty because the church takes care of a conservative view of morality.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Trying to cure gays in Arlington

The Arlington Catholic Herald reports a rather spooky conference held in the Arlington Diocese on overcoming same sex attraction on the day before Halloween. It was hosted by Fr. Paul Scalia, the chaplain for the Courage Apostolate, Deacon Bery Levy of the Meir Clinics in Rockville and Jonah, one of the Courage members. You can view the story at http://www.catholicherald.com/local_news/detail.html?sub_id=14222

Followers of this space know that I have been commenting about a series by Fr. Scalia over the past several weeks (although I am sure there are conservative Catholics who are scandalized that I would argue with a Priest, especially one whose father serves on the SCOTUS). The articles provided publicity for the conference. A few of the high points reported is the assertion that same sex attraction is more prevalent today.

I disagree with this. It is obviously more prominent, because gays and lesbians are no longer hiding from society, which in former days attached criminal penalties to homosexual acts in private and treated homosexuals as mentally ill, sometimes with incarceration in a mental health facility. Now that these sanctions have been removed, people are now out and proud - but there are not more homosexuals as a result.

Part of this conference was a focus on reparative therapy, which is largely discredited in the psychological community as a violation of the personhood of gay and lesbian individuals.

Reparative therapy is based on the assumption that gays are made, not born, and the practitioners, like Levy, deny that homosexuality is inborn. The research mostly says otherwise. Any success they do claim is likely due to the fact that sexuality is on a continuum - so they likely have reprogrammed individuals who were bisexual by nature - about a third of their clients. Another third can pretend to be heterosexual but then go back to same sex attraction while another third cannot be reached at all.

Reparative treatments might also be successful if someone is the victim of pederasty and assumed they were gay because of it - in which case some type of therapy is justified - but that is not the same thing as changing an innate trait - since most gays and lesbians were never abused.

One final bit of pseudoscience is the assertion that younger sons from large families with more brothers are more likely to be gay. I suspect that what is happening instead is that in any larger group of males you are more likely to find a few gay ones and that older sons are much more likely to hide their sexuality from their fathers if they are gay. This comes more under the heading of being more likely to hide from authority than homosexuality being more prevalent.

I think the basis for wanting to repair gays is the mistaken belief that it is necessary for their salvation to do so, so that they can avoid sin - and that the real problem is that the Church cannot face the fact that homosexual activity by people who were born gay cannot be sinful - so that the appropriate thing is to simply recognize this and teach that they should keep their sexuality within the bounds of marriage instead. Most Catholics already feel that way - which is really what frightens the hierarchy.

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