Robert Oscar Lopez

Last week, Robert Oscar Lopez wrote: Christians Who Oppose Conversion Therapy Need a Reality Check. It is Lopez who needs the reality check — and a competent shrink. Lopez is an individual who is smart and well educated. He could, and should, be doing better.

The guy is incapable of writing a paragraph without claiming that people are determined to persecute him (“Us” means R.O. Lopez.):

To be loving does not mean to be gullible. … We should love people, but that does not mean we should let them take advantage of us. Or fool us. Or trick us.

And just who is out to deceive Lopez?

In that spirit, I want Rosaria Butterfield, Sam Allberry, and Jackie Hill Perry to answer a simple yes-or-no question. No long filibustering paragraphs. No detours into extensive complaints about what other Christians are supposedly doing. No lifeline block-quotes from Augustine. Just yes or no. Here:

Do you agree with the Anglican church’s ban on conversion therapy?

Yes or no.

Butterfield is an author and intellectual. Allberry is a gay man who considers homosexuality a sin. Perry, a poet, has in the past claimed to be ex-gay.

Here’s why this question is urgent. Butterfield, Allberry, and Perry are currently superstars in the world of Protestant Christianity, constantly summoned to discuss issues of sexuality in the church. They all had experience with same-sex attraction. They all say they believe in Christ.

Whether or not three conservative Christians believe that conversion therapy is good or bad is entirely irrelevant. Even Christians should know when to defer to experts. In this case the experts are doctors and mental health professionals. The overwhelming consensus among the people we should listen to is that conversion therapy is ineffective and potentially harmful.

The three addressed by Lopez have attacked conversion therapy.

These three people seem to present an outsized problem for Lopez:

Unfortunately, all three of them arrogate to themselves the right to speak for “same-sex-attracted” Christians. They do not speak for me. In fact, I doubt that they speak for almost anybody.

People who see themselves as gay, and who do not want to become straight, exist in a social world different from mine. They have both Vines and Chambers as go-to people to emulate. Neither Vines nor Chambers will tell them that sodomy itself poses any problem at all.

The hypocrisy is obvious. Lopez claims to speak for Christians and he advocates for something that is possibly harmful. I would think that these people have the right to voice their opinions. I do not think that any of them have asserted that they speak for anyone other than themselves.

Frankly I am stunned to learn that Lopez claims to exist in a “social world.” Furthermore, Lopez is unable to appreciate the difference between a gay Christian and a Christian who happens to be gay. This leads to his arrogant argument ad hominem.

But let us think through who these gay affirmers are and what they want to hear. They do not want Allberry’s tortured celibacy. Nor do they want Butterfield and Perry to exhaust them with long filibusters about how their identity is sinful but they have no hope of ever becoming straight, either. People who see themselves as gay and who do not want to become straight generally want to be “gay Christians.” They want to hear about how they can walk with Jesus Christ while still having gay relationships, period. They will not generally be fans of Allberry, Butterfield, or Perry.

Lopez, by the way, is ex-bisexual. In point of fact, gay people have almost no hope of ever being straight. Belief in Jesus Christ is unlikely to change sexual orientation. I am not a mind reader and, therefore, have no clue what Christians who are gay think. For that matter, I cannot say that they are all of similar mind which is what Lopez is asserting.

If gay people have a problem with their sexual orientation and want to change, they will likely want to cease homosexual behavior and be freed of homosexual thoughts and identity. Allberry, Butterfield, and Perry denounce homosexual acts while claiming that it is equally wrong for them to engage in heterosexuality.

Gay people do not naturally have a problem with their sexual orientation. The problem that exists for some is the criticism from others. I think that around third grade I realized that I don’t care what other people think of me. (That does not mean that I am detached from meaningful criticism.) The primary lever of conservative Christians is shame. Therefore, if someone has a problem with their sexual orientation what they should really do is to divorce themselves from the effects of sanctimonious shame.

I won’t try to speak for others, but I can speak for where I am. I find the rhetoric of Allberry, Butterfield, and Perry tiresome and callous. Their reasons for rejecting conversion to heterosexuality feel muddled yet judgmental. And terribly wrong.

“Judgmental?” Exactly who is being judgmental?

Yes, many people claim to have failed at going from gay to straight, just as many obese people decide that after so much dieting and exercise, they will never lose weight. Jesus Christ shares the powerful message that with faith, hope, and love, such great things do happen. They have happened in my life. Rosaria Butterfield has no place to tell me faith can’t make me straight.

He is actually comparing sexual orientation to eating too much. It’s not “many people.” Rather it is almost all people who have attempted to convert from gay to straight have failed. Lopez doesn’t address the obvious question: Why did God make them gay in the first place? Not only do people generally not change their sexual orientation but some people are damaged by the attempt. I have no idea whether or not Lopez is ex-bi and I do not really care. Why does he feel it is important to convince others?

Skipping over a great deal of religious dogma (I am not in the mood), I arrive at:

The gay movement is trying to ban homosexuals from getting help so they can turn toward heterosexuality.

That is pretty idiotic. Gay people oppose conversion therapy for many reasons. It perpetuates the mythology that a sexual orientation that some Christians disapprove of is actually a mental disorder which can be cured. Gay people are not ill.

Many of us (including me) are trying to keep children from being permanently damaged by psychological approaches based on nothing more than pseudo-science. The idea that kids need to be straight to have the full and unconditional approval of their parents is dangerous and moronic.

But I tell you what. When “Bobby” comes up with a peer-reviewed study published to a respectable mainstream academic journal that sustains the effectiveness of conversion therapy while proving that it is not harmful, I could always change my mind.

Ex-gays like Stephen Black have been fighting a lonely battle for conversion therapy. I have worked hard to help gay men who want to go straight. It would mean the world to a lot of people if they could get off their high horses and encourage people instead of shooting down hopes and dreams that match God’s promises. It would also hearten us to see them stand up to gay activists instead of just helping gay activists beat up on God-fearing Christians.

Mr. Lopez is not qualified to help anyone change their sexual orientation. Therefore he is promoting pray-away-the-gay. It seems to me that it is Lopez who needs to change. “It would mean the world to a lot of people” if he and his ilk would accept people for who they are. That passage in Leviticus (if it survived intact through multiple translations) reflects the disapproval of straight men forcing slaves to be recipients of anal sex. I wrote the following to Austin Ruse just a few days ago:

I have read a number of Dr. [Mary] Beard’s books over the last few years. According to her, homosexual acts were entirely permissible by the upper classes providing that the elite were responsible for penetration rather than being penetrated. Furthermore, it was socially unacceptable for elites to have homosexual sex with other elites. There had to be a power disparity which is why much of this activity was with young slave boys.

In contrast, if two men in the legions were caught having sex they would both be crucified.

In summary, gay sex by straight men was permissible while gay sex by (presumably) gay men was impermissible. The harshness of punishment and societal opprobrium kept gay men from being identified as such.

Therefore, one might reasonably question whether that passage in Leviticus relates to men having sex with slave boys (which was essentially rape).

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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.