By Leon Suprenant | March 13, 2008
Yesterday, I discussed the “born that way” myth as the first pillar of the argument in favor of same-sex marriage. The second pillar goes a step farther and asserts that homosexuality is also a fixed and permanent condition.
This is a pivotal component of the argument. If the condition were admittedly a correctable disorder, the public would be less inclined to support the creation of new laws to accommodate this alternative lifestyle. Instead, we’d encourage those with same-sex attractions (SSA) to get whatever treatment they need. But if we say they’re that way from birth with no hope of change, then the public will think of those with SSA as victims, as an oppressed minority that simply desires “equal rights.” (Of course that reasoning wrongly treats marital intercourse and sodomy as functional equivalents, but most people don’t think it through that deeply.)
There are many good psychologists out there who recognize that SSA are a treatable disorder, and there are countless case studies of individuals with SSA who not only left behind the “gay lifestyle,” but whose underlying sexual orientation has been healed. I’ve personally met people who have definitively left behind the homosexual lifestyle with the help of such professional counselors. In this regard, organizations such as NARTH, Courage, and Exodus spring to mind.
A major obstacle for opponents of same-sex marriage is the fact that in 1973 the American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality as a diagnosis from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), under intense pressure from gay activists who staged noisy protests at their annual meetings, shouted down speakers, and the like. Let’s be clear, though: This unfortunate position of the APA was motivated by ideology and politics, not science. It has never been proven that change is not possible.
How did the APA justify doing this? Dale O’Leary in her book One Man, One Woman explains that in removing homosexuality from the DSM, the APA changed the way it looks at psychological disorders. Before 1973, a behavior was considered disordered if it arose from an irrational reaction to childhood trauma or deficits, even if the person had found ways to function successfully in society. The new criteria discounted the origins and considered only present distress, disability, and disadvantage. If the person claimed to be “comfortable” with his condition, then it was no longer to be considered a psychological disorder. If he wasn’t comfortable, then his discomfort must be attributed to “internalized homophobia” caused by societal oppression–for which the prescribed cure is “gay affirming therapy.”
Those who have received effective treatment and have come out of homosexuality are understandably frustrated by the denial of their very existence, or at least the assumption that they are frauds. For this reason, some protested the 1999 meeting of APA.
That protest led Robert Spitzer, one of the original supporters of the APA’s 1973 action, to conduct independent research. He found that “the subjects’ self-reports of change appear to be, by and large, valid, rather than glowing exaggerations, brainwashing or wishful thinking . . . we therefore conclude that some individuals who participate in a sexual reorientation therapy apparently make sustained changes in sexual orientation. . . . Like most psychiatrists I thought that homosexual behavior could be resisted [think about that for a minute!] but that sexual orientation could not be changed. I now believe that’s untrue–some people can and do change.”
The key of course is how it is approached by health care professionals, many of whom sadly have been swayed by various political and religious biases and agendas rather than science. Obviously if it’s not seen as a disorder but as an alternative lifestyle, those who do want to treat those with SSA are persecuted by the politically correct professional community, such as the APA.
Surely people with SSA did not choose their childhood and the combination of factors that led to their condition. Not an insignificant number were abused as minors. It’s a struggle for them, especially when they understand the truth about their condition and not only want to live chastely but to change their underlying orientation. They deserve the help not only of professional counselors but of all the People of God.