Sexuality is such a strange and glorious thing. It has so much good attached to it- personality, attraction, acceptance, expression, love, passion, romance, rapture; and the potential for a lot of other strings as well – fear, rejection, pain, humiliation, guilt, shame, etc. There are no guarantees, and there is no clear cut set of rules to make healthy sexuality an easy path to walk.
As much as we’d like to simplify sexuality and our relationships, we can’t. Even the Bible is full of weird stuff when it comes to sex – there is sex with angels, sex around temples and religious expression, godly heroes with multiple spouses, a wise king who bedded 1000 women, rules to impregnate your widowed sister-in-law, having offspring via servants in your household, curses for seeing your dad naked (and maybe more), women who use their sexuality to make men do what they want (Ruth and Esther), Paul saying it is better to be single in one breath and then saying it is better to marry (than to burn) in the next. It all gets rather complicated; much more than our Sunday School teachers try to delicately teach around.
Reality is that you can follow all the “rules” and restrict yourself to first and second base until you are married and still find that sex is a physical and emotional minefield.
One of the more talked about issues these days is homosexuality. In case you haven’t noticed there are some people who are attracted to their own gender- a pretty good percentage of them. I grew up being told it was all behavioral and/or spiritual. If that is the case, then the “cure” would be to change their thinking that was at the root of their misbehaving, and the “healing” would be to minister to the hole in the individual that was being filled with this counterfeit orientation. It is out of this worldview that the Reparative Therapy ministries sprung up. This is the ministry that attempts to heal people of homosexual tendencies, leanings, and behaviors. You could send your son or daughter to a weekend camp, weeklong seminar, or several months of rehab in hopes of getting them turned around.
The ministry has had mixed results. For some (especially I think those who use sex as a coping mechanism and addiction), their acting out and experimenting was more of a behavioral issue. Some of these folks found the conversion therapy to bring them some desired freedom. I have friends that fit this category. Yet there are other people who this ministry has just caused much more pain and confusion.
I don’t know if there is a gay gene or not (though I do know a gay, Gene), but I’m convinced that some people have a same-sex orientation. Again, I’ve grown up in a belief system that didn’t allow for this thinking and was told that homosexual tendencies came from outside experiences and environments. But the problem is I know homosexual men who haven’t acted out sexually, who weren’t abused, who had loving mother and fathers, who grew up in church, who love Jesus, etc. I’ve had gay friends date and marry women in order to fit in to what was acceptable to those of us around them. (These relationships didn’t end pretty and it was especially horrible for these amazing, loving girlfriends/wives.) I have friends who have tried everything they could to change their physical, emotional, and relational orientation–including doing everything that these camps tell you to do–but it hasn’t converted them.
I was responsible for sending a couple of friends to this kind of therapy. It was not helpful for either of them, but instead brought up more hurt, confusion, and disillusionment. Through this experience I started to really question how I understood this whole issue. I’ve since apologized to both of these friends and stopped trying to “fix” them.
In this post today I am not trying to change what you believe about homosexuality (God help me, I’m trying to get over this whole fixing issue), but I am trying to bring attention to a major pitfall of what I’ve seen in Reparative Therapy. I’m hoping you can look at this ministry from a different perspective than what you may have already adopted.
Please, please, please read the story (five pages) that Kyle Luebke shares on Liz Dwyer’s blog of being forced to go to Reparative Therapy. Then once you get to the end, read the reply that his mentor in the Love in Action program, John Smid, wrote in comments section.
I’d love to hear your comments, but only if you first read what both Kyle and John have to share.