Two states have banned so-called “Sexual Orientation Change Efforts”. Now, first of all, there is no mutually-agreed-upon definition of what that means. Even many Christian counselors would claim to provide counseling for unwanted same-sex attractions, yet skip important pieces of effective therapy. So let’s look at authentic therapy as defined by some of the most well-known psychologists and therapists, see what it entails and look in the Bible to see if it fits in with religion somehow.
Shame & Empathy
While Dr. Joseph Nicolosi gives accounts of 4 typical life stories of men who experience eroticized same-sex attractions and Richard Cohen lists 10 categories of potential contributing factors, Cohen’s list looks like an expanded list of the items in Nicolosi’s list. Nicolosi then describes in “Shame and Attachment Loss”, that what ties all these contributing factors together is shame and … You guessed it… Attachment loss (grief due to broken relationship). Suddenly, hearing this, anyone familiar with their New Testament will recognize new scripture relevant to homosexuality they’d not realized before. Passages such as “blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”, “mourn with those who mourn, weep with those who weep”, become more relevant. When it comes to the psychological jargon for words like “shame”, we need to recognize a distinction between “guilt” which means “I have done something wrong”, and shame, which means “I am something wrong”. Guilt is sometimes appropriate in a Biblical world view, but shame is not. God has created us in His image, and created us to exist in relationships which reflect His nature. As king David says, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”! And lastly, as if this wasn’t the beginning of our value, God loves us enough to send His son to die to redeem us!
So what heals the shame traumas which cause homosexuality (as a feeling)? Empathy. Dr. Brené Brown describes in her research that shame shuts down relationships, while empathy binds us together. Vulnerability is what can take us from one to the other. As she describes in her materials, “empathy” means feeling the same thing as someone, not “sympathy”, which is feeling sorry for someone, but with empathy, you are genuinely sad when someone else is sad, and happy that they are happy. In this way, we fulfill the command in Romans 12:15, and Christ’s blessing in Matthew 5:4. Now, it turns out that in order to do that, you actually have to love them, proactively. We’re talking about both phileo love, and agape love.
Loving our neighbor as ourselves is the #2 command in Christianity, and Judaism, while the #1 command is to love God, and unless someone forget, Christ reminds us that if we aren’t loving our neighbor, we don’t love God, because He loves our neighbor. So what does this have to do with therapy for homosexuality? It takes us back to the origin of the definition of “Reparative Therapy”. Nicolosi constantly reminds us that this dos not mean the therapy itself “repairs” but instead that homosexuality itself is the subconscious mind’s attempt to repair the shame trauma. Therapy, thus, entails going back to find the shame trauma, and healing it through empathy. This is why we need the Church to be actively involved in supporting those affected by same-sex attractions, because no on can heal relational brokenness by themselves, it can only be healed in a relationship: healthy, loving and empathetic relationships: relationships following Christ’s explicit commands.
So what about minors? It turns out, if you go buy a copy of “Gay Children, Straight Parents” by Cohen or “Parents Guide to Preventing Homosexuality” by Nicolosi, you’re going to discover that their instructions are basically Ephesians 6:4, “fathers, do not exasperate your children, but raise them with the nurture and admonition of the Lord”. This command comes to us through Paul’s writing twice, with the other one issuing a warning: “fathers, do not exasperate your children, lest they lose heart.” Colossians 3:21. First I want to draw you attention to the parallel between the word “exasperate” as the psychological jargon of a “double-bind”: a “darned if you do, darned if you don’t” situation. God himself promises never to create such situations, instead promising He will “always provide a way out”, and He instructs parents to do the same. It is well known, that part of the trauma necessary to create homosexuality is a double-bind. It is this double-bind which causes the subconscious to essentially say “then fuck them!, I’ll find a way to get my needs met anyway!” It’s a parent’s responsibility to provide these ways out for their child. Shall we follow the laws of the state and NOT provide these paths out when God has directly commanded us to do otherwise?
In other words, “Reparative Therapy” is what Christian love looks like in the life of someone who, as Richard Cohen puts it, has a “same-sex attachment disorder”. Banning Reparative Therapy under an umbrella of “Sexual Orientation Change Efforts” bans Christian love.
What does ‘Change’ mean?
But wait!!! Stop the presses!!! Reparative Therapy does NOT seek to change “sexual orientation”. What??? How can that be? I just spent several paragraphs describing how that works? Well, the phrase “sexual orientation” is actually not a scientifically-established concept. I.e. It‘s a phrase developed to persuade people to accept a particular political (and religious) agenda. In other words, the phrase “sexual orientation” is a propaganda phrase. People do not exist as “homosexual” and “heterosexual”. Instead, everyone is actually heterosexual in their core, and homosexuality is a combination of two emotional drives: everyone’s basic heterosexual drive for the “other than self” and everyone‘s drive to form emotional connections with members of the same sex. That’s pre-Oedipal disorder homosexuality. Post-Oedipal disorder sees the concept of the “other” distorted into something unsafe. There are several forms of homosexuality, check out other posts on recentlystraight.com for more details, but all reparative therapy looks like bringing the client more in touch with who they are in their core, a core which has generally been repressed through emotional trauma. Trauma, which has generally gone unrecognized as trauma, which prevents the grief process from completing, which prevents the blessing Christ pronounces in Matthew 5:4.
No, Reparative Therapy does not seek to “change” “sexual orientation”, in fact, authentic successful reparative therapy relies on the fact that the true sexual orientation remains intact under the emotional wounds.
Yet, the legislation which bans SOCE in New Jersey also ensures that castration for minors remain legal. Yes, you read that right. People who want to ban empathy want to maintain the legality of castrating minors. An activity explicitly forbidden in the Bible. That’s right, these laws are 100% totally and completely anti-Biblical.
Another way of saying this is: laws banning SOCE are anti-Semitic. That’s right, you heard me. Laws banning SOCE are anti-Christian, they directly ban the most fundamental aspects of Christ’s commands for a Christian, they also explicitly maintain the legality of activities God commands us not to do, and not to let happen in our land. All Christians, do not be deceived, laws banning therapy are not protecting “who we really are”. They are directly banning the most fundamental activities of Christianity, and when the law of man conflicts with the law of God, it’s our responsibility to follow God’s law. It is our responsibility as Christians to break laws banning SOCE.
An alternate title for this blog post could’ve been “banning SOCE makes loving gays illegal.”