Saturday, August 8, 2009

Faith and Sexual Identity

The Wall Street Journal had an article this week entitled


For years there has been a serious wall erected by the American Psychological Association and other groups, insisting (based upon what many consider questionable science, or soft science, or just plain anecdotal evidence) that sexual orientation is fixed and unalterable. The direction this position tended to take was to tell people who are struggling with being homosexual that there was and should be no way to change, and that gays should embrace their identity.

This provoked a lot of conflict within some people vis a vis their faith. If the shrinks were right, did this mean their faith teachings were wrong? For many, this was the conclusion they came to, and then went about reshaping their doctrinal positions to accomodate the teachings of the psychologists and psychiatrists and gay activists. For others, the conflict just kept getting deeper, with many men and women unable to reconcile their sexual feelings with their beliefs.

To the credit of the association, there are new APA guidelines that have amended the longstanding practices of counselors somewhat. It came about as a result of a task force, initially formed to respond to the increasing numbers of "change therapists" out there--presumably mostly Christian--who were claiming that arousal patterns could be changed. The article goes on:

"But the task force also gained an appreciaiton for the pain some men and women feel in trying to reconcile their sexual attractions with their faith...The task force acknowledged that for those from conservative faiths, affirming a gay identity could feel very much like renouncing their religious identity..."
The new guidelines aren't without many glass walls.
"...The therapist must make clear that homosexuality doesn't signal a mental or emotional disorder. The counselor must advise clients that gay men and women can lead happy and healthy lives, and emphasize that there is no evidence therapy can change sexual orientation.
"But if the client still believes that affirming his same-sex attractions would be sinful or destructive to his faith, psychologists can help him construct an identity that rejects the power of those attractions, the APA says. That might require living celibately, learning to deflect sexual impulses or framing a life of struggle as an opportunity to grow closer to God."
Well. Progress. Gay rights activists aren't necessarily thrilled about the new guidelines. Some call them incredibly misguided, likely to cause great suffering. They make statements like, "People have their lives destroyed." I personally think too many experts are telling too many people they are having their lives destroyed, usually because these poor sops aren't lining up behind the experts' agendas. These people also don't understand the import of faith, and how faith shapes lives.


Jill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jill said...

Sometimes I wonder if God just sits back sometimes, shaking His head and having a good chuckle. Like He has a lit match right next to the earth and asks himself, "Should I do it now or wait until they've gone after the farm animals, as well?"

Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake said...

It's safe to assume the APA is familiar with suicide rates of various demographics, suicide being to a psychologist as a heart attack is to a cardiologist.

So, considering the suicide rates of open homosexuals, precisely whose lives are being destroyed, again?

In my opinion, the issue goes beyond the assertion of homosexuality as a valid identity. I'm more bothered overall by the conflation of sexual identity with, well, one's identity in general. There's this idea that what goes on between your navel and your knees is the end-all and be-all of your existence. This is the ideological underpinning for the horror that right-thinking modern people feel at the idea that someone would willfully suppress their sexual desires for religious reasons. And it's quite frankly rubbish.