Robert A. Gagnon

In an article that appeared Wednesday in the conservative Catholic blog, First Things, Robert A. Gagnon expressed his profound displeasure with a piece in the Independent titled Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to find a gay cure. Gagnon refers to the Independent piece as a a “juvenile op-ed piece” and a “hatchet job.” That reference seems rather odd (if not ballsy) given the fact that Gagnon is a one-man walking hate group.

In the way of background, Robert A. J. Gagnon is an associate professor of theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. For a thorough review of Gagnon’s personality disorder, Equality Matters
has an extensive fact sheet. Suffice
it to say, Gagnon has linked homosexuality to pedophilia and has even
asserted that they are the same thing. According to him, “[Homosexual]
relationships are offensive to God and are repulsively contrary to
nature. Homosexual relationships are far worse than polyamory, worse
even than adultery ….” In short, Gagnon is an anti-gay bigot.

Getting back to current matters, the piece in the Independent that Gagnon finds so depressing was about, according to the piece, the “Transformation Potential conference, a meeting organised by three right-wing British Christian groups to campaign for gay conversion therapy.” What probably most irritated Gagnon was that the piece claims that Gagnon implies that biblical quotes are about homosexuality when they are not (more on this later). The Independent piece concludes:

Refusing to accept the evidence presented by scores of respected medical bodies, retired GP Dr Peter May asks: “Is it unethical to help someone modify sexual desires if they request it?” before mentioning “sexual sins” including affairs, polygamy and paedophilia.

Conference organisers stressed this was not about judging gay people, but helping those who wanted to reject same-sex desires. Dr May’s casual juxtaposition of homosexuality with infidelity and sexual crimes suggested such judgements may not have been that far away.

According to Gagnon:

The absurdities start with the title. No one referred to a “gay cure.”
Rather the conference was about the possibility of leading transformed
lives, not enslaved to same-sex attractions or any other desires to do
what God expressly forbids.

The title of Gagnon’s retort is “Smearing Sexual Orientation Change.” How would that differ from a cure? According to the Independent at least one male presenter claimed to have changed and is married to a woman. How is that not proffered as a cure?

Gagnon then indulges in some sophistry. Were Gagnon anywhere near as smart as he thinks he is then he would not be a biblical literalist. Gagnon continues:

Speakers at the conference were quite clear that change of sexual orientation for all meant no longer living under the control of sinful desires. This is basic Christian doctrine, Christianity 101. We recognize the possibility for some to experience some degree of change on a 0 to 6 Kinsey spectrum of same-sex attraction (as the Kinsey Institute itself did). We also recognize that God often doesn’t see fit to remove sinful desires but manifests his life by empowering obedience in spite of the retention of such desires. As with Paul’s discussion of the “thorn in the flesh,” God often does not remove the deprivations and difficulties of our lives, in order to show us that knowing him and his grace more than offsets these distractions.

Homosexuals have a romantic attraction to the same sex. To suggest that people can be free of those “desires” means no longer being gay — no matter how you try to position it. Gagnon basically says that gays should give it the old college try. Pray with all of their might and they may experience some change on the sexual orientation continuum. The extent of that change is up to God. I wonder how God chooses the extent to which he will frustrate these people. This is a subset of (when all else fails to explain) “God works in mysterious ways.” Gagnon continues:

We believe in the right of self-determination on the part of clients, including their right to seek therapeutic help for management of same-sex attractions. We abhor the totalitarian thuggery of the state that seeks to eliminate the choice of the client.

We don’t let podiatrists do brain surgery no matter how much the patient wants it. Sometimes the state protects people from their own stupidity and superstition. Then there is this gem relating back to the Independent’s assertion that Gagnon was disingenuous:

I presented on the scriptural evidence regarding homosexuality, of which Dugan [the Independent] wrote: “There is just one catch [to Gagnon’s citation of scripture texts from Jesus]: not one of the passages he quotes from actually mentions gay relationships.”

As Robert George aptly commented, “This kind of manipulation and defamation is as predictable as the sun’s rising in the east. It is not rooted in innocent mistakes. Quite the contrary. It represents a tried and true strategy designed to stigmatize and marginalize anyone who dares to dissent from sexual liberationist orthodoxy. Its aim is to silence dissent by raising its cost.”

A quote attributed (perhaps falsely) to Benjamin Franklin at the signing of the Declaration of Independence may be apropos here, taken in a metaphorical sense: “We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

That’s a defense to a charge of intellectual dishonesty? I doubt that Robert George’s self-serving comment had anything to do with Gagnon but it’s always nice if these folks can quote Robby and make it sound as if the “great man” is talking about them. Gagnon never really responds to the fact that he misleads his audience. Ben Franklin? Ben Fucking Franklin is somehow relevant? This is all typical Gagnon. Gagnon has a superior intellect. Gagnon is a beloved of God. Gagnon is never wrong. Does Gagnon think that Gagnon is a god?

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.