General Therapy for SSA

Richard Cohen gives perhaps the most concise and complete explanation of the general therapy process in Coming Out Straight.

Stage 1: Behavioral Therapy

Establishing a support group, curtailing addictive behaviors

My experience is many churches do a great job with behavioral therapy, but stop there.  They have 12 steps, but for an issue as big as SSA, it’s stage 1.

In addition, the client needs to begin forming a support community.  While it’s useful to have the company of other men who are also seeking to heal from SSA, it’s more useful to have a group of straight Christian friends who know how to meet the client’s love needs, and that’s based in empathy.  Without empathy from others, they will be unable to heal completely.  This is why the Recently Straight project is so important.  It can take months or years to establish the level of trust necessary for this to take place.  Watching dramatic re-enactments of true life stories leads to empathy for the viewer, projecting that empathy onto the client speeds up the process.


Stage 2: Cognitive Therapy

When successfully ending acting-out behaviors, the client becomes more aware of the underlying emotional wounds and unmet love needs.  Learning more about relevant issues, the client becomes better able to identify and articulate his own feelings.  Most church 12-step programs lack sufficient information to conduct useful cognitive therapy for SSA>


Stage 3: Psychodynamic Therapy for homo-emotional wounds

Once the underlying support framework is in place, psychodynamic therapy aims to heal deep emotional traumas.  In stark contrast to brainwashing, the client is encouraged to get in deep touch with his emotions, his goals, his inner troubles.  Psychodynamic therapy takes many forms.  One form is like role-playing, where the client can re-experience a situation in which they were wounded with the purpose of altering the ending.  For overwhelming traumas, EMDR may be employed by a trained therapist to make the recovery of suppressed memories or emotions easier to handle.  (Yes, they use that for PTSD, basically the same thing going on here.).  The goal is for the client to move from counter-emotions to core emotions, and then from fear anger and sadness to joy (anywhere from contentment to happiness).

It is during this phase that most clients begin to see an abatement of their SSA, though OSA may not develop directly.  It is important not to begin this phase until the client has ended addictive behaviors and established a vibrant support network.  Some therapies can be done one on one, others will require group participation.  “Experiential” weekends are particularly useful here.

Many churches will refuse to conduct, refer or even allow psychodynamic therapy.  Fortunately, I will demonstrate in a future post that the Biblical world view is forms a non-arbitrary rational foundation for psychodynamic therapy.


Stage 4: Psychodynamic Therapy for hetero-emotional wounds

Stage 3 saw the continuation of stages 1 & 2, and the application of psychodynamic therapies to homo-emotional and homo-social wounds, i.e. wounds that came from members of the same-sex, whereas stage 4 does approximately the same thing, but with hetero-emotional and hetero-social wounds, i.e. emotional wounds which came from the opposite sex.

It is usually during this stage that OSA will begin to develop.

Tim Cook talks about “Equality”

Apple, Inc. CEO Tim Cook received Auburn University’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement award, and gave a short acceptance speech at the UN.  First, War Eagle!, Auburn runs deep in my veins, and though we haven’t produced it yet, the tight relationship of the Auburn family features prominently in the sequel to our Act 1 video.  If you want us to produce it, click the Donate button.  Certainly Tim has achieved a high level of success in his professional life.  Besides athletes, he is probably the highest profile Auburn grad in pop culture, and rightfully deserves this lifetime achievement award.  We expect him to continue guiding Apple, Inc. on a path of innovation and making complex technology accessible to everyone.

However, Tim used this opportunity to engage in hate speech and campaign for abolishing our critical 1st-amendment-protected rights.  Drawing an analogy with his time spent in the racist south, he associated people who do not believe in same-sex marriage with cross-burning racists.  Depending on how you view the speech, he either associated LGBT with blacks who had their civil rights abridged during the decades leading up to the 1960’s, or with physically disabled persons.

Specifically, Tim Cook is backing Federal legislation, called “ENDA”, which would be a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution’s 1st amendment, which prohibits the Federal Congress from passing legislation respecting the free exercise of religion.  In this legislation, called “Employment Non-Discrimination Act”, employers are prohibited from not employing self-identified members of the “LGBT” community.


Business policy vs. Love vs. Law.

Please understand, here at Recently Straight LLC, we do not use a person’s self-identitfied membership as L, G, B or T as a sole determining factor as to whether we will contract with them, but that’s policy, not law.  The main reason I don’t use someone’s self-identified membership in LGBT community is because, as actors, their job is portray someone else, or as crew their job is to help me produce art.  Those kinds of jobs don’t see a lot of interference from someone’s unmet love needs and unhealed emotional wounds which lead to eroticized same-sex attractions.  That’s also why I don’t advocate discrimination in other business associations, unless for some reason it’s directly tied to their ability to fulfill their job.

As someone who experienced unwanted eroticized same-sex attractions I know how scary it could be that if someone discovered my “inner” feelings that I might be let go, or kicked out of Church, or shot, or abused, or end our friendship, or well anything really.  Anticipatory shame, and defensive detachment are hallmark symptoms of eroticized same-sex attractions.  Far beyond anticipating,  working the Recently Straight project, we’ve been discriminated against on several occasions.  We’ve been black-balled by some Dallas talent agencies, actors and actress have failed to fulfill their roles after deciding they don’t like the purpose of the project, marketing agencies have decided not to take us on as clients, and supposedly-conservative websites have decided not to allow us to advertise, Google has “disapproved” our ads, Vimeo has cancelled the accounts of other ex-gay clients, and even pastors have told me not to tell my testimony.  We’ve seen more than our share of prejudice and discrimination.  But I don’t complain much, because as a private business, that’s their right.  I wonder how those businesses will feel once they realize I can sue for $M’s when they use our stance on the origin of eroticized same-sex attractions as the sole reason they don’t work with us, which is pretty much all we are.  Lest they forget a Federal court has ruled that if L, G, B and T are protected gender identities, so is ex-gay.

The difference between business policy and law is that business associations are always voluntary.  Governments use coercion to enforce laws.  What level of coercion is appropriate to force a Christian Counseling group to continue employing a therapist claiming to provide Reparative Therapy for homosexuality after he announces that he identifies as “gay” and continues to engage in a gay-partner relationship?  (Don’t laugh, it happens.)  What level of coercion is appropriate to force a cake baker to bake a cake for a gay wedding when the cake baker does not believe that same-sex marriage can exist?  (Don’t laugh, it happens.)  Under this law, the Federal government would be in the position of prosecuting a religious organization which refuses to perform a same-sex wedding ceremony.  Don’t laugh, it’s already happened to public facilities.  They react by discontinuing all marriage ceremonies.  These situations are already happening under some state laws, if ENDA is passed, they will begin happening in all states.


ENDA presumes truth contrary to science

The ENDA legislation is problematic for another reason: it hinges on the concept that “gay is how someone is born” by using the term “sexual orientation”.  Science shows this isn’t true.  Studied on identical twins have found that if one twin identifies as ‘gay’, in approximately 90% of cases, the other one does not.   Instead, we know that eroticized same-sex attractions are the result of unmet love needs and unhealed emotional wounds.  That’s why we promote love and acceptance of persons with eroticized same-sex attractions – because that’s what they deserve as being made in the image of God, it’s what Jesus commands us to share with each other, and it’s what they need to heal.


The need for “equality” has already been met

It is not coincidental that the gay lobby, of which Cook is clearly a proponent, uses the flag of “equality”, and is yet never satiated by their achievements.  They’ve now moved beyond wanting tolerance, and acceptance: now they want to harm others who do not believe as they do.  The sad truth is that they already are equal.  There is no such thing as a “gay man” or a “lesbian”, but instead all human beings are inherently heterosexual. We are all created “men” and “women”.  But not feeling the equality is a major contributing factor leading to the eroticized same-sex attractions.  It is in fact the goal of Recently Straight to help them feel the belonging, the oneness, the equality.  My motivation has been to do that with love, I see now that if we fail: their ‘stick’ will be to use the powers of government to coerce us.

Why it doesn’t matter if eroticized same-sex attractions are caused entirely by biology

Science cannot make statements about “healthy” or “good”. You must have theology for that.

Examples of biological conditions which are generally recognized as “unhealthy”:
Sickle-cell anemia: genetic
Cancer: genetic, radiation, bacterial, viral
Alzheimer’s: genetic
Deafness resulting from in utero alcohol: chemical

So, as you can see, there are plenty of examples of conditions, caused entirely by biology, chemistry and physics which we do not regard as healthy. It is not valid to make the statement: “if it is biologically caused, it is healthy,” yet that is what the gay lobby wants us to believe. This has been their strategy for moving forward: use the civil rights movement as a model: to do that they must convince you “gay” is another kind of person, that “sexual orientation” is an immutable aspect of a person, like sex or race, or that they didn’t choose these feelings… The last one I believe, yet it doesn’t imply that their eroticized same-sex attractions are healthy.

So am I saying the causation of SSA doesn’t matter?  No of course not.  I’m saying if you are in a scientific argument with someone who is using a variety of facts against your position, facts you can neither verify or disprove, you don’t have to end up with “my authority says” vs. “your authority says”: you can use a presuppositional argument instead.  Show that in their worldview their argument wouldn’t be valid even if their facts are true using the above evidential critiques.

So what does tell you “healthy”?  Your worldview, your religion, your theology.  The Bible explicitly forbids erotic same-sex activities in numerous passages Old and New Testament.  There have been those who attempt to re-write the Bible to not say things it does, but a rigorous application of proper hermeneutics comes back to the original plain reading of scripture: no, two men are not allowed to have sex.  Even under grace of Christ where “all things are permissible” still “not all things are beneficial”, and now we’re back to this concept of healthy – does something build you up or tear you down?  According to Christianity, erotic same-sex activities tear us down.  According to Christ, the sexes were inherently designed for heterosexual marriage, or as the case is: just “marriage” is inherently heterosexual.  There is no such thing as a homosexual marriage: God never invented it.  He didn’t do it then, and contrary to what some say, homosexual marriage is not a new work of the holy spirit.

The Bible places no conditions on its prohibition of erotic same-sex activities: in that way there are no valid arguments to be made in the Biblical worldview that result is supporting the ‘ok”-ness of erotic-same-sex activities.

So when does causality matter?

Causality matters once you realize you have a problem.  I should stop for a second and explain why is seems odd that I alternately say that causation doesn’t matter but then it does.  God has used a technique called “memoization” to tell us that same-sex erotic activities are not “ok”.  In reality whether anything is good is only one thing: if it follows God’s plan.  Zip zero end of story.  Fortunately, for humans, he has clarified his plans for us: 1) love God with everything you are, and 2) love your neighbor as yourself.  Jesus didn’t give these commands for the first time in the New Testament: these had been the highest laws the whole time.  Jesus further clarifies “all of the law and the prophets hang on these”.  Catch that? everything does relate back to a single goal.  The law gives us lists of ways we can fail to comply with these top two commands.  Computer scientists call this “memoization”, when an answer is very difficult to figure out, once you figure it out, you store it in memory (write a “memo”) so that the next time you need the answer, it’s there waiting for you.  In reality, none of the 10 commandments present any kind of an action in which something other than loving God or loving your neighbor has gone wrong: think of them as a top-ten list of ways to fail God’s top command.  So does the causality of erotic same-sex attractions matter in whether it’s healthy?  of course, but God already gave us the answer, so whatever else you think you’ve come up with, sorry, you’re wrong.

Why Romans 1:18-32 doesn’t apply to everyone

Once the ministry of a church told me that eroticized same-sex attractions were a “sin attraction” and were the result of “replacing a desire for God with man.”  I asked for scripture on this, and they sent Romans 1:20-32.  How wrong can someone get when quoting the Bible, let me count the ways:


1) Their quote ignored the antecedent of “them”

Verse 18 contains the antecedent of the pronoun “them”.  It is “men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”  Verse 22-23 further narrows the set of men about whom this verse applies to men who have engaged in idol worship.  It bothers me greatly that you expect this verse to explain equally the origin of same-sex attractions in men who have never accepted Christ as Lord, and in those who accepted Christ at age 8, and developed same-sex attractions at age 14, since it would appear not to describe their actions.


2) This passage does not report the origin of the “Desires”

Supposing my previous point is incorrect, and this verse does apply to everyone, it does not indicate the creation of new “sinful” desires in these men, rather that God is not protecting them from these desires anymore.  Thus, it does not explain the origin of same-sex attractions, but the aside-from-God’s-intervention-unbreakable hold of sin in their lives, similar to Romans 6:20.  The origin of these precise desires lies elsewhere, not mentioned in this scripture.

I specifically consulted with theologian & researcher Robert Gagnon, author of “The Bible and Homosexual Practice:…”, on this point.  He replied, “Romans 1:18-32 does not explain how sinful impulses originate but rather how in the Gentile world they become overriding controlling influences particularly among those who don’t honor God as God. When impulses to do what God expressly forbids overtake us to a point where we act on them, it is because we do not find fellowship with God sufficient for our happiness and so seek God substitutes. In 1:29 the offender list continues with such things as greed and envy. We wouldn’t say that greed and envy as sinful impulses originate with a turning from God but rather becoming controlling and enslaving impulses when there is a rupture in our relationship with God and we seek gratification from God-substitutes. Scripture does not explain how homosexual impulses originate. Sin in general is viewed as an innate impulse passed on by an ancestor. But no explanation is given in Scripture as to why some experience homosexual attraction while others do not.”

While I do not agree with everything he writes in that book, or even his perception of scripture, on this one point, I agree.  What he does do in that text, however, is blow the “gay-lobby’s” arguments for Biblically-compatible same-sex erotic activities out of the water using the most liberal possible interpretation of scripture.  The response I quoted above, is in personal response to my question, not a quote from the book.  He gave a very good plenary lecture about how a Christian led by the Holy Spirit would never be led into the “gay lifestyle” at the Restored Hope Network Conference in June.  The video, or at least the audio, should be available online, somewhere. If you can’t find it, let me know, the videographer is a friend of mine.  His comments are in stark contrast to Alan Chambers, who led Exodus into a ditch the day before, about whom your pastor seemed to agree whole heartedly in his blog post a few days later.


3) The passage does not claim to be all-encompassing

Supposing that this passage does imply the creation of new same-sex lusts which were not pre-existent, this scripture does not claim to provide an all-encompassing origin for what you call “sin attractions”.  Instead it claims to document how some sins became widely practiced.  In other words, it says “If A then B”, where A is “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” and B is “gay sex & other stuff”.  It does not follow that “If B then A”.  Your argument, “same-sex attractions are a sin-attraction caused by the individual suppressing the truth in unrighteousness” is “if B then A”.  You would need other supporting scripture for that.  After spending 11 years looking for such a passage, I discovered there isn’t any.


4) You presume same-sex attractions are inherently lust

You presume that same-sex attractions are a lust.  In reality, lust obscures the underlying emotional wounds, but it’s the underlying wounds which percolate to same-sex attractions as a symptom.  This is why overcoming same-sex attractions is so difficult – because it is a confusion of your very perception of yourself and the “other”.  I suppose I should really stop using the phrase “same-sex attractions”, since there isn’t any such thing.  There is no feeling, no emotion, no desire which is in itself an erotic desire for the same sex.  God created us male and female, not male, female, gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual.  This may seem like a far too minute detail since the end result is men with SSA see other men as “hot”, “sexy”, or “cute”.  But, it’s actually critical in understanding how to help these men.  The desires which have become mixed up are not a need God placed in us for Himself being replaced by a man, but instead a desire God placed in us for a sense of belonging with members of our own sex getting bound to the erotic desire (not lust) God placed in us for our complement.  That’s why “pray-away-the-gay” is so statistically ineffective at removing same-sex attractions – there isn’t anything to remove.  Instead there’s something to fill and two things to untwist, and God has commanded us that parts of it are to be filled by our fathers, brothers and other same-sex peers, as I will demonstrate throughout the rest of this letter:  (oh, yeah, and I know enough to know that lesbianism is somewhat different, so please don’t mistake my statements as having applicability to that.)


5) There are other Biblically-valid causal factors for wounds than the sin of the individual

Ultimately, mankind’s original sin was trusting himself more than God.  That sin, and God’s punishment for it, negatively affected everyone.  But that’s not all.  Ephesians 6:11-12 indicates the devil actively schemes against us.  Sin’s influence frequently reaches beyond the person who commits it.  So although attempted usurping God’s place in our lives would be bad for us, it could also lead to bad for other people – people who didn’t commit the sin.  If that weren’t the case, I submit Romans 12:19 doesn’t have full context in which to function.  To assert that “If B then A” – for each individual – above ignores this path for damage.  Colossians 3:21 supports this notion, that a father can sin in a way which negatively affects his child emotionally.

Why I never say “childish” needs.

I’ve referenced on this website over and over again that eroticized same-sex attractions are caused by needs for love that haven’t been met.  Specifically, for pre-Oedipal disorder, these needs are those which arrive in early childhood.  Others have criticized our belief that meeting these needs as children have them met in healthy ways is inappropriate.  Thought not everyone uses the term “childish” needs, this is a similar implication.  Or rather, the implication is that you don’t need to get your childhood needs met.  And certainly, the fact that a man is full-grown complicates matters physically, but not psychologically.  Childhood needs can’t be skipped over, they are not silly: they are more fundamental.  That’s why God has us need them first.  It is on top of meeting our childhood needs that we build the rest of our lives.  When people haven’t had their childhood needs filled, they aren’t able to begin the next step in their psychological growth, at least not in a healthy way.


I’ve heard many well-meaning Christians offer terrible advice when someone with SSA reveals their troubles in life.  They hear unhelpful messages like “man up”, “grow up”, or the infuriating reference to completely inappropriate 1 Corinthians 13:11.  Little do they realize it’s through meeting our childhood needs – our more fundamental needs – that our ability to “man up” comes.

Why we don’t call ourselves “ex-gay”, or Why we call ourselves “recently straight”.

Our culture wants to stick this label on us; even the Federal courts have actually used the “ex-gay” label when enumerating the kinds of sexual orientation to which non-discrimination laws apply.  But for many of us, “ex-gay” may be true, it doesn’t feel like who we are.


Positive self statements

“Ex-” is a negative label.  When we do our emotional work, one thing we learn is that emotions don’t really understand “not”.  We learn that one core need of any man is to be affirmed by other men.  This involves making value statements.  Frequently, we’ve believed statements like “I’m stupid.” or “I’m not good enough.”, or “I’m fat”, or “My muscles are too small to be a man” or other shaming statements.  Because the wounds we have are at the core of who we are, “not” statements can’t provide something we can hang on to and say “ah, that’s me”.  The limbic system does not function as a complex web of logical statements, as the pre-frontal cortex does, it works on general association.  I.e. one thing is kind of like another, they are associated.  So when we are looking for something that “feels like it fits”, we need positive statements.  Instead of encouraging us with negatives, like “You’re not fat.”, what we need to know is something worded in a positive way, such as “You’re fit” or as the case may be, “your body is masculine in appearance”, which is actually far more applicable to what’s going on inside than the actual body-fat percentage.

For some of us, “ex-gay” isn’t even true, because we believe gay is a socio-political label, not a “way to be”, we never applied that label to ourselves, but many did.  For the ones who have decided not to continue in the gay lifestyle, “gay” itself becomes a negative label.  Bottom line, identifying ourselves as something we are not, and as something we have chosen not to be is not psychologically-healthy.  We need our identity to be positive.

Asa result, even though our culture wants to tag us with it, “ex-gay” is an undesirable label for most men in that category.


Why we need labels

There are tons of men who don’t like boxing themselves in with labels.  I personally don’t have any problem with labels: without them, we couldn’t communicate; words are labels.  Some men don’t like that as a label, deciding to only take on the label “child of God”.  That’s their choice.  When I label a project such as this, I want to be clear and effective at getting the message out. Labels need to be both accurate and precise.  Accurate means true, precise means communicating only what we intend, not over-stating or understating the meaning.  As an engineer, my primary problem with spoken and written English is its huge imprecision.  Scientists and engineers have an agreed-upon method of specifying precision, while psychologists do have very precise statements of conditions, causes, effects and therapies for eroticized same-sex attractions, just look at that phrase, it literally doesn’t fit in a google ad-words title line.  We need something short, sweet, precise, accurate, and as a website address memorable.


A Little History

I would love to say that my initial thought was to take “ex-gay”, reverse both words, and come up with “recently straight”, but that’s not how it happened.  It actually stemmed from Nicolosi’s term “ever-straight”.  I supposed that if I couldn’t claim to be “ever-straight”, I might as well put up the next best thing, maybe not “ever”, but “recently”.  It stuck; pretty well, it seems.  I was quite shocked no one had ever used the term.  I loved that it turned out to be a rephrasing of “ex-gay” into two positive terms.  It’s a cogent label, means what we intend.

“Is it possible for anyone to change?”

I believe yes, but it is not easy, nor guaranteed.  It won’t come on it’s own, it must be guided and nurtured.  There is much talk about the definition of “change”, and much speculation as to what factors make it easier / more difficult.  We never graduate from the Holy Spirit sanctifying us in this life, anyway.  Everyone I know who has “tried everything” and “it didn’t work” are actually people who have flatly and continually refused to try what worked best for me.


“Isn’t this just a psychological issue, not a religious one?”

There is no standard of healthy/unhealthy or good/bad outside of religion, so one must consult religion to determine whether SSA is unhealthy in the first place.  Furthermore, the kind of “all acceptance” that is critical in successful counseling for SSA seems to me to come truly from one place only: salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ.  The Bible tells us that “there is now no condemnation” for someone who has trusted Jesus, who says “Blessed are the broken-hearted, for they will be comforted.” And let me tell you, these are some broken-hearted men.  That’s why we promote love, grace, healing and comfort for them.


“What is this about higher suicide rates amongst married gays in The Netherlands?”

That’s just science.  Bottom line is The Netherlands have a very “accepting” culture, and same-sex marriage has been legal there since 1996.  Not only are suicide rates higher amongst the gay population, but it’s even higher amongst the married gay population.  I don’t believe that gay marriage leads to suicide: I believe the same emotional wounds which lead to same-sex attractions can also lead to suicide.  It’s when those wounded people realize that the gay marriage isn’t what they really want, they tend to give up completely.  The Church can share what they truly need, what will truly fulfill them; it’s incumbent on us to share that.

Read about it here.

“Aren’t you just blaming parents?”

Commonly, in childhood our parents have the most influence on how we see ourselves, others & God for good & bad.  In some men’s lives, other custodian/authority figures have a more significant impact.  But emotional wounds come not just from people who love us, but also from others we seek to love.  Our peers can have as much of an impact on us as our parents.  God has set up specific responsibilities for parents, and it’s easy for parents with very good intentions to go very wrong in our corrupted culture.  Far in contrast to ‘blaming’ our parents, we seek to help men find the true root of their wounds, and seek reconciliation when it is possible & beneficial, whether that is with parents, other childhood authority figures, peers, etc…  Reconciling a relationship with a parent is always God-honoring, though not always humanly possible.  Pretending problems didn’t happen does not lead to a Biblical model for reconciliation.