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Monday, January 21, 2013

The Ex-Gay Proof-text: "And Such Were Some of You!" 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Ex-Gays: The Big Hoax

Herman Goebbels was right: tell a lie often enough and soon it will be thought to be the truth. Such a lie has been circulating for a few decades now, but is finally being held up to the light of truth, scientific truth to be exact.  It is the lie that gays can be made straight through proper counseling and prayer.  It’s been stylized as “Pray away the gay,” in many conservative Christian churches and movements.  Last January, no less an authority than Exodus International president Alan Chambers completely reversed his longstanding view that gays can be made straight. Here's the full quote: “The majority of [gay] people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them, have not experienced a change in their orientation.”    (Interestingly, that would likely include himself, who has for years claimed an orientation change.)  Exodus International is the leading organization contending that gays can change.

I have on a CD, a speech from a former member of EI's board of directors suggesting that, since a preponderance of gays don't change, EI should change its motto to "Come suffer with us."

There has been only one “scientific” study that has held that gays do change.  It was conducted by none other than the psychologist who led the American Psychological Association to remove homosexuality from the list of mental disorders in 1973, Dr. Robert Spitzer.  It was his presumed objectivity that gave the study its prestige.  Recently, Dr. Spitzer retracted his study with an apology to the gay community for the harm he had caused.

So, what drives the conservative Christian movement to applaud such studies and accept this lie at face value?  Very simply, it’s all about one short paragraph in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
This verse straightforwardly states that some in the congregation were once sodomites, but are no longer.  Sodomites, of course, are understood to be today’s homosexuals.  Many gay Christians took this verse to heart and subjected themselves to every conceivable treatment to rid themselves of this condition because they believed what they read.  (Mel White estimates he paid nearly $500,000 in efforts to change his orientation, including shock treatments.) However, this verse does not actually say anything of the kind.  The translation, sodomites, was not coined until 1000 years after the Bible was written, so its use here is anachronistic.  Therefore, a more suitable translation is required, and one is at hand: users of temple prostitutes. Male prostitutes were temple prostitutes in Corinth and they had customers/users.  These are the people under consideration in this paragraph, and no wonder Paul could claim you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ…. But to expect the same for nonheterosexuals is not warranted or even possible, and NOT under consideration in this paragraph.

Here's a sampling of what experts in the field have to say about the impossibility of changing sexual orientation and the harm it causes:
American Academy of Pediatrics (1993)
“Therapy directed specifically at changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.”
American Medical Association (2003)
“Our AMA opposes the use of ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy that is based on the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.”
American Psychoanalytic Association (2000)
“Psychoanalytic technique does not encompass purposeful efforts to ‘convert’ or ‘repair’ an individual’s sexual orientation. Such directed efforts are against fundamental principles of psychoanalytic treatment and often result in substantial psychological pain by reinforcing damaging internalized homophobic attitudes.”
American Psychiatric Association (1998)
“The American Psychiatric Association opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as reparative or conversion therapy, which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the priori assumption that a patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation.” The APA removed homosexuality from its list of disorders in 1973.
American Psychological Association (1997)
“No scientific evidence exists to support the effectiveness of any of the conversion therapies that try to change sexual orientation.” The association removed homosexuality from its list of disorders in 1975.
National Association of Social Workers (2000)
“People seek mental health services for many reasons. Accordingly, it is fair to assert that lesbians and gay men seek therapy for the same reasons that heterosexual people do. However, the increase in media campaigns, often coupled with coercive messages from family and community members, has created an environment in which lesbians and gay men often are pressured to seek reparative or conversion therapies, which cannot and will not change sexual orientation. Aligned with the American Psychological Association’s (1997) position, NCLGB believes that such treatment potentially can lead to severe emotional damage. Specifically, transformational ministries are fueled by stigmatization of lesbians and gay men, which in turn produces the social climate that pressures some people to seek change in sexual orientation. No data demonstrate that reparative or conversion therapies are effective, and in fact they may be harmful.

Gays can’t change their orientation any more than straights can.  Since God made each of us in our own special way, why would we want to?

Here's Justin Lee's take on it:

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