ex-gays

Alan Chambers + Christian Cohorts Are OK With New Psychology Guidelines. That’s Bad

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Wouldn’t you know it: Some religious types posing as academics aren’t in uproar over the American Psychological Association’s new report that sexuality cannot be changed!

Dr. Warren Throckmorton, an associate professor of psychology at Pennsylvania’s Catholic Christian school Grove City College, isn’t necessarily appalled the APA has shot down reparative therapy as utter nonsense that’s got as much practical use as pet rocks: “Generally, I believe the paper to be a high quality report of the evidence regarding sexual orientation and therapy. The authors of the paper provide a very helpful discussion of the professional literature on sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), potential benefits and harm and the role of religion and values in sexual orientation identity exploration.”

That’s not to say Dr. Throckmorton — who insists he’s not a reparative therapist, though he’s described elsewhere as supporting the practice — is jumping up and down about the APA’s declaration that, hey, Jesus might still love you if you’re a homo (okay, the report didn’t say that exactly). But he is pleased the report took a “balanced and thoughtful” approach: “There are different assumptions about what best constitutes the answer to the question: ‘who am I?’ This paper nicely addresses these assumptions and acknowledges that people who are deeply committed to a non-gay-affirming religious position may stay same-sex attracted but not identify as gay. As the paper notes, this is an acceptable alternative.”

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And it’s not just Christian professors who aren’t demanding the APA’s 138-page report be burned in the town square. Alan Chambers, the head of Exodus International, which instructs wannabe ex-gays on how to become real ex-gays, has not let his spleen explode at the organization’s findings. That’s probably because the report, while denying sexuality can be changed, found middle ground where it can let therapists counsel patients away from their homosexual desires — but without going fully straight.

“The role of religion and the importance of faith cannot be understated when it comes to the ongoing dialogue over sexual and gender identity,” says Chambers. “It is an essential element of many people’s lives and creates great moral conflict and tension for those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction. We are grateful that the APA has acknowledged this and hope to see more done to ensure that religious diversity and personal autonomy are respected in the future.”

Well isn’t that a piece of PR-friendly jargon. But Chambers is wise not to counter the APA. His ex-gay outlet Exodus, which pairs with various faith organizations around the world to “guide” people young and old into denying their gayness for the sake of God’s love, just received a boost of support from the APA.

Chambers himself acknowledges he’s not straight, but does insist he’s no longer gay. And with the APA on board with his practice of training homos to turn their backs on their natural desires, Chambers can now point to the esteemed psychological organization’s own research and guidelines (which govern its 150,000 members) to rationalize his so-called therapy.

This is dangerous. And while we expected folks like Chambers to be able to spin the APA’s findings in their favor no matter what, that it was so effortless — and logical — is particularly alarming.