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Convert the Pedophile But Not the Homosexual


By Carman Bradley

Judging their own value system to be “so superior” to any paradigm that entertains sexual reorientation, Erinn Tozer and Mary McClanahan go so far as to deny the legitimacy of even the client’s desire for change:

The General Principle of Social Responsibility states, ‘Psychologists are concerned about and work to mitigate the causes of human suffering’ (APA, 1992, Principle F, p. 1600). Proponents of conversion therapy argue that the refusal to provide a service that a client voluntarily requests is tantamount to refusing to mitigate suffering. They further state that it serves a ‘prohomosexual’ ideology (Gadpaille, 1981).  Cautela and Kearney (1986) state, from both an ethical and a practical point of view it is our contention that the decision of whether or not to change an individual's sexual orientation must be made by the client rather than by society at large or subgroups of that culture.

However, several scholars have pointed out that someone who would voluntarily wish to change his or her sexual orientation is a misnomer (Davison, 1976; Halleck, 1976; Murphy, 1992; Silverstein, 1977). An individual's desire to change is a reflection of an oppressive and prejudicial society wherein lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons are considered deviant and inferior. Therefore, this request is not truly voluntary. If psychologists are complying with the Principle of Social Responsibility, they will recognize that the cause of human suffering, in this case, is the sociopolitical context wherein the gay population exists. [i]

Imagine yourself trapped, expending the prime of your life in bondage to cubical-style anonymous gay sex (with HIV positive callers), wanting personal deliverance, but finding that none in the GBLTQ community or the gay and pro-gay Christian communities offers a shred of hope.  What are we to think of a community that proclaims “experiment as you wish,” “join if you want,” and then refuses to help you exit?  How can a homosexual receive secular help or accept the grace of Jesus Christ, if he or she cannot find professional psychological counsel or Godly Christian deliverance ministry?  The tremendous cognitive dissonance caused by the deliverance of even a few from the GBLTQ lifestyle, forces those remaining to actively pursue closing all avenues of escape and to deny all evidence of such freedom.

To GBLTQ activists reorientation therapies reinforce the social doctrine that homosexuality is deviant.  In 1975, the APA issued a statement that urged "all mental health professionals to take the lead on removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with homosexual orientations."[ii]  Says Tozer:

If psychologists are to abide by this statement and the Ethical Principle of Social Responsibility, they would not implicitly agree that being gay or lesbian is deviant by acquiescing to their clients' wishes to rid themselves of this ‘condition.’ Psychologists would instead focus their energies toward changing the sociopolitical context by being proactive allies to the gay community.[iii]

Tozer and McClanahan describe the “affirmative” therapist as one who celebrates and advocates the validity of lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons and their relationships.  They write:

Such a therapist goes beyond a neutral or null environment to counteract the lifelong messages of homophobia and heterosexism that lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals have experienced and often internalized….The challenge is not to find adequate resources but, rather, to explore the client's biases as actively and honestly as possible when the client tells us, ‘I think I'm gay, but I really don't want to be. Can you help?’[iv] 

What they and most gay and pro-gay “Christians” advocate is talking the client out of his or her wish.  Tozer explains:

‘What about the client who insists, even after this discussion, that she or he wants to be heterosexual? Is it ethical to exhort someone to embrace an identity that feels untenable?’  No; yet, it is equally inappropriate to suggest to someone that feelings of same-sex attraction can be redirected into heterosexual attraction, given the absence of compelling evidence to support that reorientation.[v]

Finally, an affirmative therapist can encourage a client to focus less on the label of lesbian, gay, or bisexual than on her or his unique experience. This can help the person take the time to consider his or her needs and feelings without the perceived rush to have the ‘right’ identity.   If the therapist continues to refuse to provide conversion therapy, and the client continues to insist that he or she desires reorientation, the possibility of termination emerges. Certainly, this should not be a hasty decision; indeed, rich material can evolve from these opposing agendas. The therapist can reiterate that she or he is not attempting to recruit the client to a lesbian, gay, or bisexual orientation; at the same time, she or he is not willing to collude with the message that such an orientation is bad, immoral, invalid, or unhealthy.

If the client remains steadfast in her or his desire to reorient to heterosexuality, however, termination becomes a very real possibility. We submit that in such cases, no action (barring risk of client self-harm, of course) is better than the wrong action. The therapist can provide the client with a bibliography of resources that factually refute the prevailing myths and misconceptions and that offer positive images of lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons. The therapist also can emphasize that she or he will be available for future nonconversion work if the client wishes to resume therapy. If the client wishes to terminate rather than proceed with nonconversion therapy; however, we believe that it is more ethical to let a client continue to struggle honestly with her or his identity than to collude, even peripherally, with a practice that is discriminatory, oppressive, and ultimately ineffective in its own stated ends.[vi] [my underline]

This type of argument against ex-gay ministries was articulated by Father John McNeil, in 1976.  Wishing to stop the treatment of homosexuals, he writes:

The relation between a willingness to change and success in therapy has led some clinicians to advocate what from a Christian point of view is a morally reprehensible procedure.  Bergler, for example, speaks of ‘mobilizing any latent feelings of guilt.’[vii]  What he seems to be advocating is a deliberate effort to increase the guilt feelings and self-hatred of the patient.  Beiber, who goes along with this type of practice, reports only twenty-seven percent of his patients were cured under optimum conditions[viii].  One wonders what happened to the other seventy-three per cent who left therapy unconverted but burdened with false guilt and shame concerning their incurable condition.  To continue to hold out the false hope of a ‘cure,’ in light of almost total failure to truly effect a cure, is morally reprehensible; for nothing can be more destructive psychologically than to hold out a false hope to an already disturbed person.  Connected with the issue of false hope is the danger of false guilt in the case where analysis fails to change sexual orientation.[ix]

Donald L. Faris, author of The Homosexual Challenge – A Christian Response to an Age of Sexual Politics  writes:

Can Homosexuality be Changed.  If a prevention was discovered for AIDS which had a 30-60 percent success rate, what would happen? Would this remedy be hidden? Would it be denied? Would it be attacked because it was not 100 percent effective?  Surprisingly, something like this is actually happening.  If an individual is not already infected with AIDS, ceasing to live the ‘gay’ lifestyle is the surest way to avoid contracting the deadly disease.  But, far from being proposed as an option, changing one’s orientation is the target of negative publicity among gay rights activists.  The defenders of homosexual practice deny that homosexual orientation can be changed, despite the fact that there are scores of cases of successful reorientation.  They also suggest that practicing homosexuals can speak more objectively about homosexuality than non-homosexuals or celibate or ex-homosexuals, and therefore nobody should listen to people who say that they have changed their orientation, or that, if they have not changed their orientation, they are comfortable as celibates.  This is a little like suggesting that only practicing alcoholics can be objective about alcoholism.  Naturally, as far as the homosexual rights activists are concerned, their cause is weakened when people decide to abandon the ‘gay’ lifestyle, even if it is for the purpose of saving their lives or mental health.[x]

Faris is intrigued with the responses of authors such as John Spong and Virginia Mollenkott, who espouse a “pro-homosexual ideology,” to insights into the causes of homosexual inclination.  Both simply assert, without a shred of evidence, that homosexual orientation cannot be changed.  Mollenkott uses the argument that many famous men and women were homosexuals.  She seems to be arguing, “Look at these famous people [Oscar Wilde]; if they were homosexual, it must be normal and healthy.”  Alas, even longer lists could be prepared of “famous people” who were alcoholics, pedophiles or manic-depressives.  Fame has never been a guarantee of mental health, or even a very good argument for it.[xi]

What cognitive dissonance is this?  Referring back to the man-boy “boundary” of age 13 for gay sex (psychiatric manual: DSM-IV), one wonders what political agenda develops a construct which essentially states: “Psychiatry should give up treating homosexuals who want to change their orientation from partners thirteen and older (12 in Holland!) because there is only a 27 per cent improvement rate and the process breeds guilt; but [I assume] says continue to reform homosexual pedophiles who desire to stop seeking sex with those who are twelve years, eleven months, and younger.  Perhaps, those who think in line with Tozer, McClanahan, McNeil, would otherwise lock-up all pedophiles, as hopelessly inverted in their perverse ways and throw away the key.  The anti-reorientation thinking is based on two patently false assumptions.  First, is the notion of Bailey’s invert - that people are either exclusively a hetero – or homosexual (a 6 or 0 on Kinsey’s continuum), but never muddled in between.  And second, as previously explained, is the notion that there is a psychologically and morally significant difference between sex with a 13 year-old (pedophilia) and sex with a 14 year-old (man-man sex).  Moreover, it seems logical if experimentation can lead one into homosexuality (Oscar Wilde Effect), experimentation with reorientation should equally offer promise of freedom to those seeking escape.

Staying on the man-boy theme a little further, one must ask: When society continues to try and reform the pedophile, what should we do about the “false guilt” among the unsuccessful?  Does the GBLTQ care?  The reorientation success rate for pedophiles is even less than for man-man homosexuality.  Is this grounds to stop their treatment?  What social theory simultaneously asks 97 per cent of the population to restructure and re-culture to accept and normalize the behaviour of the other 3 per cent - the so-called “GBLTQ minority”, and also demands that treatment of men and women who wish freedom from this “minority” must stop?  This is manic political hypocrisy at best.  Why are gays and lesbians so insecure about anyone wishing to leave the fold? “Individual determinism” is okay for GBLTQ-identifying homosexuals in the face of the overwhelming heterosexual majority, but the GBLTQ community cannot afford such self-determinism among those wanting out.  The idea, that the actual and perceived hope of exodus from homosexuality is somehow guilt-tripping those who remain makes mockery of free choice, pluralism and dare I say “individual rights.”

More important, what Christian would tell another contrite heart, there is no hope - You can “come out” only in one direction or label yourself bisexual, but never again heterosexual?  The magnitude of the recovery challenge is no reason to lose hope.  Shall a declared pedophile, transvestite, addicted smoker, chronic alcoholic, or manic depressive give themselves up to their condition, just because the recovery rate is not 100 percent?  What about the bisexual who wishes to restore a monogamous marriage?  Who has the right to say “no you can’t be helped.”


Copyright © 2008 StandForGod.Org

[i] Erinn E. Tozer, Mary K. McClanahan, “Treating the Purple Menace: Ethical considerations of conversion therapy and affirmative alternatives,” Counseling Psychologist, College Park, September, 1999.

[ii] Ibid., American Psychological Association, Minutes of the Council of Representatives American Psychologist, 30, 1975, p.633.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] John J. McNeill, The Church and the Homosexual (Mission Kansas: Sheed Andrews and McMeel, 1976), p.121.

[viii] Ibid, cited Irving Beiber, Homosexuality: A Psychoanalytic Study (New York: Collier, 19560, p.24.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] Donald L. Faris, The Homosexual Christian – a Christian Response to an Age of Sexual Politics (Markham Ontario: Faith Today Publications, 1993), p103.

[xi] Ibid., p107.