Pray away the gay in Colorado?
A Catholic diocese in the United States is offering a twelve-step program for men "struggling with same-sex attraction." From The Colorado Springs Gazette:
The Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs is borrowing a page from Alcoholics Anonymous by launching a 12-step program that offers pastoral care and support for homosexuals.
“It’s not about therapy and not about activism,” said the Rev. Larry Brennan, diocese director of priest formation. “It’s about support.”
The Catholic Church views homosexual relations as a sin, but not homosexual thoughts. It expects those with same-sex attraction to be celibate.
“The exercise of sexuality is reserved for marriage, and that can only happen between a man and a woman,” Brennan said.
Jim Fitzgerald, executive director of Call to Action, a national progressive Catholic group headquartered in Chicago, is skeptical of Twelve Steps of Courage because he contends homosexuality isn’t sinful.
“It restricts people’s freedom to be the kind of person they were created to be,” Fitzgerald said of Courage.
But Brennan says the program is not for people comfortable with their gay lifestyle. “The people we want to reach are those who experience this as a burden,” he said.
A couple interesting points worth considering:
The article says that, "Participants admit they are powerless in overcoming same-sex attraction, ask God for help, and make amends to those they’ve hurt, among other steps." Surrendering oneself to God and seeking to repair broken relationships is probably good advice for all Christians to heed, but why are gay men singled out specifically through a 12-step program? Does the church believe there is something intrinsic in homosexual men that makes them more prone to hurting their family and friends? If so, what is it? Will these men counseled to apologize for being gay? Disappointing their families? Not living up to cultural ideals?
Also, Fr. Brennan says, “This is a population that is underserved. They are not comfortable with the gay agenda and not comfortable with family oriented (events).” This is a valid observation and one worth exploring. Some gay men may indeed be turned off by "the scene" and they may not feel welcome or comfortable at "family oriented" events. It is probably also true that some straight men don't wish to be a part of their scene, but they often find the communities they need in churches, fraternal organizations, business associations, or civic and volunteer groups. The church seems to recognize that some gay men don't want to participate in gay culture (is there such a thing?), but don't feel welcome in churches and sometimes in other venues. Offering a 12-step program may be one way to build community for these men, but are there others? Could family oriented events in our churches be retooled a bit to make all feel more welcome? Could churches reflect on better ways to make all feel as if they are part of a community, including young families with children, childless couples, widows and widowers, and even single and coupled gay people? Rather than offering programs for those who want something others than "their gay lifestyle" (again, is there one?), perhaps there are better ways to include people in communities that might be perceived as hostile or unwelcoming? There are probably many, many people who are tired of their circumstances and who long for something more. Are church's speaking to all those cohorts, in addition to gay men? Will we launch a series of 12-step programs for them as well?
What are some reactions to programs such as this? Rage that the church is equating homosexuality with certain destructive behaviors? A roll of the eyes and dismissal of the story as another example of a church painfully removed from the daily lives of ordinary women and men? Affirmation that the church must be counter-cultural? Questioning of the psychological soundness of such an approach? Worry for the emotional and spiritual well-being of participants? Acceptance of a response to individuals in need of pastoral care? An attempt to balance lofty Christian ideals with life on the ground?
Michael J. O'Loughlin
Yeah, well, I wouldn't ask a drug addict for the best way to treat drug addiction.
What I know about psychology is that that was the subject that all of the college kids who couldn't handle biology and chemistry majored in, so forgive me if I find an actual physician more credible and convincing on the health problems of homosexuals than any psychologist, homosexual or otherwise.
Psychology is not a technically a "science" - rather it is mere observation and reduction of human nature to a particular materialistic outlook - i.e., Freudian or, now, Cognitive Behavorial attributes.
As for homosexuality as a disorder, it was revised out of the DSM in the 70's only after major lobbying by special interest groups and political pressure. This was not about "science" but about the sexual revolution, politicial correctness and an attempt to redefine the conversation to benefit sexual and social liberalism.
Great article on the psychology and the modern society - "The Caring Industry":
I realize that this “lifestyle” is so very different from that of our straight siblings, neighbors and friends. Many of them don’t do half of what I have described above.
Another difference about our “lifestyle:” we don’t play around on each other. We don’t abuse each other. We don’t abuse children (ours or otherwise). We don’t do drugs or drink to excess.
I would like to see verifiable data on behavioral differences between single LGBT people and single straight individuals. I think a lot of the “horror stories” come from young single people coming to term with sexuality, some of who have to deal with it on a sub rosa basis, with all of the attendant risks due as much to ignorance as sexual orientation.
You might want to check this out: http://avglbtcenter.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/Myths_Facts__Statistics_About_GLBT_People.58135904.pdf
I know full well that any of this will not change some opinions that straights have lives and LGBT people have lifestyles, but, to quote Rhett Butler: “Quite frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
* * *
My concern about Courage from a counseling perspective is that it appears, from statements by its proponents as well my experience in listening to an old friend recount the counseling he continues to receive Courage, that Courage relies on creaky neo-Freudian notions about the etiology of homosexuality (the distant same-sex parent, clinging opposite-sex parent theme being prominent, but also dubious and sometimes downright silly assumptions about the boundaries of appropriate gender roles), when the Church in general has looked askance at Freudian theories about sexuality. Odd. Even sadder was beholding my friend holding his parents parenting responsible for his situation (or then blaming himself): this Courage-encouraged dynamic was very obviously not a fruit of the Spirit.
So, I am wary of the counseling attempt being promoted here. And I don't think Catholics should rush to embrace it simply because (i) it's opposed by people who don't agree with the Catholic view of sexuality (the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily a good friend...), and (ii) the apostolate has had some waters of good words from various important people sprinkled over it.
If that were true, then we would expect the negative consequences of an active homosexual lifestyle to have declined overall within the last 40 years. During that time frame, homosexuality has gone from an abhorred perversion to something which is actively promoted and celebrated in our culture.
Yet, the higher level of physical and emotional problems in homosexuals have not gone down at all during that time.
It doesn't matter that many swaths of society now accept it to the claim that after 40 years of acceptance the destructive behavior should have subsided. What matters in the lives of gay people I know is that where acceptance really would matter in a way that would correlate to less destructive behavior later on-in their families, growing up as kids, being an adolescent-is absent. In other words, even if you find communities that accept you once you go to college or are in your twenties, it doesn't change the fact that the impact had on you by your upbringing gets played out as an adult. And by the time their families do accept them, etc., the bad behavior patterns and dispositions have taken hold.
Not coincidentally, the gays and lesbians I know who had accepting families from the beginning don't in general or in great number exhibit the pathologies that Brett and Michael think are inherent to being gay. But even then they then face the problem that society encourages promiscuity, wantonness, etc. for gays and straights alike. So of course it's not a foolproof plan to raise your kids in a certain way. Moreover, I know of gays and lesbians who have overcome the odds and have lived very respectable lives as gays and lesbians in relationships. If Brett or Michael knew gays and lesbians in long-term, committed relationships, they'd maybe be less likely to make such sweeping generalizations about the lives of gays and lesbians. As it were, I do know many. But I've always lived in big cities. Maybe you guys live the sticks or in isolated communities.
The point is not to exonerate people for bad behavior, but the point I'm trying to make is to figure out what the real influences on behavior are, not the a priori assumptions operative in Brett's or Michael's comments. We're talking about people here. Not just statistics.
I have homosexual friends, family and business associates, I've lived in big cities, and I have been a participant in muscial and theatrical productions for a many years. I know lots of gay people. I'm aware of their struggles, I'm aware of their lifestyles, I'm aware of the various ways they've arrived at calling themselves homosexual.
What I find confusing is the rejection of any attempt to even consider the notion of curing people who exhibit self-destructive behaviors, espexially when we really don't know what they cause is. Ever since the APA in the 1970s made what is well-known to have been a political decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental condition worthy of treatment, the world has followed along, unquestioningly - looking for ways to prevent the destructive behaviors not by cure or prevention of the condition itself, but through the modification of the mindset of everyone else in the population.
Research has demonstrated almost beyond a doubt that there is an environmental component to the development of sexual preference, and yet politically it is improper to suggest that perhaps controlling the environment of a child in some fashion might lead the child to never become homosexual and suffer not only the extreme destructive behavior but the negative psychological impact of just being different from the vast majority of everyone else in a hugely significant way. And in the present case the diocese is offering help to those who aren't comfortable with their sexuality, and people have the kneejerk reaction that there is something wrong with trying to cure them or deal with it in any manner other than forced tolerance and acceptance.
We're quick to medicate our kids or pour money into research for a cure when they exhibit behavior (e.g., adhd, autism) that is different from other kids, but when it comes to curing or researching a cure for people who want to have homosexual sex and end up with associated destructive behaviors, we can't even speak of it.
KentL I am therapsit, competent and have 25 years experience, but it is not my opinion that guides me in such matters. Rather the Church does. The Church instructs us: homosexuality is a disorder. The DSM may bot agree; however, I do not look to the DMS for spritual advice...
I admitted that I wasn't familiar with with Rigg's article. That said, I presume that since the author is a doc, he's a pretty bright guy and the fact that he cited nearly 150 publications to support his conclusions, I think it would be better to judge his conclusions based on what he wrote and how he supported it, not merely prejudging on his political leanings.
Many people will tell you that the APA is a liberal political organization with a substantial homosexual membership and leadership, yet that doesn't hinder leftist activists to cite its conclusions as undeniable fact. Research and bias cuts in all directions, Kent.
As a therapist, shouldn't you also take into account what the APA says of homosexuality? Here's part of what the American Psychological Association page on sexuality has (http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/sexual-orientation.aspx) ...
Is sexual orientation a choice?
No, human beings cannot choose to be either gay or straight. For most people, sexual orientation emerges in early adolescence without any prior sexual experience. Although we can choose whether to act on our feelings, psychologists do not consider sexual orientation to be a conscious choice that can be voluntarily changed.
Can therapy change sexual orientation?
No; even though most homosexuals live successful, happy lives, some homosexual or bisexual people may seek to change their sexual orientation through therapy, often coerced by family members or religious groups to try and do so. The reality is that homosexuality is not an illness. It does not require treatment and is not changeable. However, not all gay, lesbian, and bisexual people who seek assistance from a mental health professional want to change their sexual orientation. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual people may seek psychological help with the coming out process or for strategies to deal with prejudice, but most go into therapy for the same reasons and life issues that bring straight people to mental health professionals.
What about so-called "conversion therapies"?
Some therapists who undertake so-called conversion therapy report that they have been able to change their clients' sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. Close scrutiny of these reports, however show several factors that cast doubt on their claims. For example, many of these claims come from organizations with an ideological perspective that condemns homosexuality. Furthermore, their claims are poorly documented; for example, treatment outcome is not followed and reported over time, as would be the standard to test the validity of any mental health intervention.
The American Psychological Association is concerned about such therapies and their potential harm to patients. In 1997, the Association's Council of Representatives passed a resolution reaffirming psychology's opposition to homophobia in treatment and spelling out a client's right to unbiased treatment and self-determination. Any person who enters into therapy to deal with issues of sexual orientation has a right to expect that such therapy will take place in a professionally neutral environment, without any social bias.
Is homosexuality a mental illness or emotional problem?
No. Psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals agree that homosexuality is not an illness, a mental disorder, or an emotional problem. More than 35 years of objective, well-designed scientific research has shown that homosexuality, in and itself, is not associated with mental disorders or emotional or social problems. Homosexuality was once thought to be a mental illness because mental health professionals and society had biased information.
In the past, the studies of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people involved only those in therapy, thus biasing the resulting conclusions. When researchers examined data about such people who were not in therapy, the idea that homosexuality was a mental illness was quickly found to be untrue.
In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association confirmed the importance of the new, better-designed research and removed homosexuality from the official manual that lists mental and emotional disorders. Two years later, the American Psychological Association passed a resolution supporting this removal.
For more than 25 years, both associations have urged all mental health professionals to help dispel the stigma of mental illness that some people still associate with homosexual orientation.
Michael makes a good point in stating that the church should address other modern problems in a similar manner; however, he fails to understand what basic social science/ social work have known for years: there is a much, much higher rate of self-destructive behavior among homosexuals than in the general population.
Higher domestic violence, substance abuse, std infection rate and greater instances of mental illness despite ever increasing acceptance of homosexuality in social settings.
Why does the author avoid these basic stats? The church is addressing the issue the roots of self-destructive transgresive behavior that the rest of society would rather avoid discussing.
And the proof of this is ?????
I said proof, not opinion.
"Substantially higher proportions of the homosexual sample used alcohol, marijuana, or cocaine than was the case in the general population."
Also, the infection rates of HIV, HPV etc. etc. are much, much higher within the homosexual community.
I'll refrain from giving my personal experiences with the gay lifestyle (yes, there is one); but suffice it to say that the Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs is doing a good thing.
That being said, here we go again, one more time: To put it bluntly: No competent astrophysicist would declare the earth as the center of the universe, and no competent therapist views being homosexual as a disorder. Same-sex attraction is considered within the normal human range of sexual arousal patterns. So-called "reparative" therapy is malpractice.
I'm also perplexed as to why this old chestnut of nutty thinking keeps reappearing every so often. What's the agenda, I have to wonder, of those who would periodically resurrect this outdated and discriminatory mindset?
"Eppur si muove," anyone?
The reductionists these days are the APA and their denial of the vertical/transcendent aspects of human desire. They may not think the earth is flat, but they sure believe human nature and desire are.