Deacon Jim Russell
Deacon Jim Russell

Wednesday, Deacon Jim Russell decides that, with the death of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, now would be a good time to explain the Church’s position on gay conversion therapy. Crisis Magazine provides the outlet for Russell’s dissertation.

First, we Catholics must be willing to affirm unswervingly that those
experiencing same-sex attraction deserve more dignity than the label
“gay” affords them and that the psychological sciences can indeed help
many people experience some semblance of liberation from the attractions
themselves and more readily lead a life of authentic chastity.

What a pompous ass. He should save the “dignity” crap. According to Church doctrine, gays are “objectively disordered.” As ridiculous as that is and sounds, sadly some people believe it to be true. “Experiencing same-sex attraction” is religious-speak for gay. The objective is to liken a sexual orientation that they don’t approve of to a bad habit or a predisposition to abuse alcohol or drugs. 

This all defies the fact that sexual orientation is at the very core of who we are as individuals. As for the “psychological sciences” it is the opinion of every professional counseling and psychological peer organization that sexual orientation is innate and that efforts to change sexual orientation are ineffective and potentially harmful. “Authentic chastity” means celibacy. Testicles in a jar.

“Reparative therapy” is a contradiction in terms. Attempting to change sexual orientation is not therapy. It is an extension of religious belief. Moreover, gay people are not broken. They do not require repair. Conversion therapy, by any name, exists — at least in part — to justify discrimination against gay people.

Next, we Catholics must be willing to acknowledge that, unlike the Catholic
foundation of Dr. Nicolosi’s pioneering work, some approaches to
reparative therapy that are not based on Catholic anthropology have
significantly missed the mark because of a fatal flaw in their
understanding of the human person. In fact, the garden-variety
perceptions of so-called “conversion therapy” or the notions of “ex-gay”
and “pray-away-the-gay” really arise from this issue.

Really? Nicolosi, as I recall, went out of his way to frame repaarative therapy as a secular enterprise. But perhaps Russell can explain why Catholic-centered conversion efforts are safe and effective.

Here is the major distinction Catholics need to make between the Catholic understanding
of reparative therapy and the understanding espoused by at least some
Protestant Christian reparative therapy supporters: The competent and
informed therapist will ground therapy in the understanding that the
homosexual inclination itself is not an instance of personal sin but is a temptation to sin. As such, the Christian’s goal of therapy will be shifted—the goal will not be to completely eliminate the erroneously perceived personal “sin” of having
the inclination, by stopping the inclinations altogether. Rather, it
will be to move the person toward a less-difficult pursuit of chastity despite whatever may remain of the inclination itself after therapy.

Really? If one visits the Courage Apostolate’s website, we find links to “research” advancing, in one case, the efficacy of reparative therapy and, in another case, the non-toxicity of reparative therapy. Both of these articles are published by Linacre which is the journal of the Catholic Medical Association. Courage calls these “Resources for Mental Health Professionals and Physicians.” So someone is not being truthful. Is it Jim Russell or the Courage Ministry?

If a therapist misunderstands the fundamental truth that the objectively disordered homosexual inclination is not a form of personal sin, someone can indeed be harmed by such therapies, even in a Christian setting.

Disordered? So much for that dignity stuff. Yeah, people are harmed by such therapies. Courage employs 12-step pseudo-science to convert people. Celibacy is the backup plan and the currency of the celibacy effort is shame. The people who submit to these crackpots are going to stay just as gay as they have ever been. Every time they have an “impure thought” they are going to feel shame. The Church is, perhaps, the wealthiest organization in the world. I find it odd that they have never funded a study by Courage to ascertain just how effective their aposolate is. They could then publish the results to a mainstream, peer-reviewed scholarly journal (something other than Linacre). I think that we all know why the Church does not make that investment.

One of the rabbit-holes of misguided reparative therapy among some Christians is a basic mistrust of celibacy for the sake of the kingdom, as well as a dim view of being single in general (and it is important to recognize that these are two different categories). And yet the Catholic view is that chastity is fully attainable both for a single person who is open to marriage as well as for a single person who believes he or she is called to not pursue marriage and instead chooses to build up God’s Kingdom through the gift of celibacy.

The Church takes a dim view of single people other than priests (most of whom are apparently not really celibate). Church doctrine holds that people are supposed to unite in marriage (all that “one flesh” fetishism) and then crank out children.

Thus, there is a need to make a vital distinction between the hope that even a person with deep-seated homosexual inclinations might heal sufficiently to enter into a life-giving and fruitful marriage and the false mandate that marriage is somehow the measure of whether a particular form of reparative therapy is deemed successful.

Gay people are not sick. They do not need to be healed. Sufficient healing to enter into a heterosexual marriage is precisely what Russell claims the Church does not do. Only a few paragraphs earlier he wrote “it
will be to move the person toward a less-difficult pursuit of chastity.”

Here, have a big helping of BS:

Though I am not in the field of reparative therapy,* I would offer this hypothesis: in some people the homosexual inclination could be the consequence of some form of same-sex relational deficit that is eroticized within the person. Successful therapy would then seek to discover the nature of that deficit and then look for ways to “de-eroticize” it in favor of authentic chastity and healthy same-sex friendships.

Nonsensical gibberish. “If we find the psychological cause for that individual’s gayness we can cure his homosexuality.” I doubt that there exists any research published in the last 40 years to a mainstream journal which supports the notion that there is a psychological cause behind sexual orientation. Furthermore, if they can find the psychological cause, why limit the outcome to chastity? The simple fact is that the Church might be more subtle but they sell the same false nonsense as other Christians and Jews: A cure and then marriage to someone of the opposite sex and then children. It is seductive and they know it. Gay people do not need to be cured. We are fine just the way we are, thank you very much.

In my hypothesis, with some cases of same-sex attraction, a man can experience some kind of relational deficit first within himself—he feels he does not fully possess that which he really “is”—he seems at odds with his own manhood. Thus, when he encounters another man who appears to be that which he “is not,” he experiences the desire to enter into communion with the other man and thereby possess or receive his manhood. He eroticizes his interior desire for self-completion.

That hypothesis would not survive the rigors of a junior high science project. It has no basis in science. None whatsoever.

Skipping over several repetitive paragraphs:

Reparative Therapy: A Vital Resource for Many

If this hypothesis has merit, then clearly there are circumstances under which and ways in which psychological counseling and reparative therapy would be absolutely appropriate helps for those with same-sex attraction who seek authentic chastity. Chastity is utterly dependent upon self-mastery, and self-mastery is dependent upon self-possession of our sexual identities as either man or woman.

The only reason that anyone would seek to be celibate is because of superstitious guilt. Self-mastery? Priests seem to have considerable difficulty keeping their flies zipped. Now we are also getting into gender and why the Church insists that transgender people do not exist.

To a conclusion:

With these distinctions in place, Catholic—and non-Catholic—practitioners of reparative therapy can honor the pioneering and ground-breaking efforts of people like the late Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, and faithful Catholics everywhere can help stem the secular tide that seeks to prevent this kind of healing in the name of preserving a corrupt and dangerous sexual ideology. Together, we can help our same-sex-attracted brothers and sisters move closer to self-mastery and chaste living.

Where is the pioneering and ground-breaking research published? Where are all of the studies? Furthermore, trying to pass off Nicolosi as someone who was not offering the gay cure is insultingly dishonest. Sexual orientation is not an ideology. Omitted from this screed is the simple fact that sexual orientation is not a binary construct. Rather, it is a continuum with homosexual and heterosexual at the extreme ends.

I love this part:

Author’s Note: While I’m not a therapist, the hypothesis I present is
based largely upon what I continue to read from those who are
professional Catholic therapists—this includes a timely April 1 interview in the National Catholic Register of therapist David Pickup, himself a board member of the National Association for the Research and Treatment of Homosexuality ( Pickup’s interview appears to echo and align with the hypothesis I present above.

Pickup and NARTH both sell the gay cure in contrast to celibacy.  Pickup’s piece is titled: Healing the Wounds that Cause Homosexuality which essentially means that gays had bad parenting. Mom, Dad, have a helping of guilt for doing this to me. I left the link in place. Feel free.

Nicolosi was a quack. I am only surprised that there is no conspiracy theory that gays murdered him, knowing that he was about to introduce a breakthrough cure.

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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.