Pray the Gay Away

Conversion therapy is pseudoscience lacking any evidence that it is safe and effective while there is a substantial amount of evidence that it is futile and harmful.

Family Research Council, an anti-LGBTQ hate group, is featuring a post from someone identified only as Erica. The title: How Biden’s Therapy Bans Will Harm “LGBT Youth” Like Me. Oh, do tell!

I am not entirely sure why “Erica” felt it necessary to be anonymous. Yet here she is:

Specifically, one of Biden’s promises states that he will support legislative efforts to ban what critics of the practice call “conversion therapy”—counseling to help a person resist and overcome unwanted same-sex attractions.
[…]

I adamantly believe that Biden’s LGBT platform will cause harm to the very people it aims to help.

The above is about right. Furthermore, sexuality becomes “unwanted” due to religious doctrine based upon litteralist biblical beliefs. She is free to believe anything that suits her no matter how ridiculous.

Donald Trump’s one-inch penis is probably unwanted but there’s not much he can do about it. But I digress. She does not:

High school and college years are a season of life where identity formation is so critical. … I am all for learning different sides and opinions of any topic. I believe that young people are smart and equipped to weigh alternatives and make decisions for themselves. We owe it to them, as a nation founded on freedom, to have the opportunity to explore what they want their life to look like.

One’s sexual orientation and gender identity are not opinions. Nor are they choices subject to decisions and alternatives. Our sexuality is what it is and science has conclusively determined that sexual orientation and gender identity are immutable.

Some people experience some fluidity in their sexuality but there is no external means of influencing that fluidity. As I have said many times, it is like outdoor temperature. It may fluctuate but those fluctuations cannot be altered by anything man is capable of doing.
Erica seems to be in her early 20s and she has already learned how to claim victimhood. She has also learned how to torture logic and science:

The issue is that when it comes to sexuality, this freedom to explore only seems to extend as far as what fits within the pro-LGBT agenda. With the push of legislation like the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act that seeks to ban all sexual orientation change efforts, youth will be left hearing only one view and one set of answers when it comes to sexuality. These bans will eliminate the ability for Christians like me with questions about same-sex attraction to hear a perspective that greatly helped me to find freedom and grow in my faith.

The above is rather stilted. Young people “explore” their sexuality to determine its makeup. They do not explore their sexuality to make decisions over its composition. Again, sexual orientation and gender identity are not a “view” to be debated.

What is a scientific certainty is that efforts to change sexual orientation and gender identity are both futile and harmful. At best, according to the American Psychological Association, conversion therapy teaches gay people how to pretend to be straight. In other words, to lie.

The APA’s task force was established in February, 2007 and published its conclusions in 2009. In the 12 years since, no research has emerged to scientifically challenge the APA’s initial findings.

The only reason that conversion therapy continues to exist and to be promoted by Christian pressure groups is that it serves as a pretext for discrimination:

  1. If conversion therapy works then sexual orientation and gender identity are choices.
  2. If sexual orientation and gender identity are choices then they are not entitled to protected class status.
  3. If sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected classes then they are not protected by nondiscrimination laws.

Accessing resources to help me discern a biblical sexual ethic and receiving discipleship on how to live that out, from both staff at my college and a ministry group, has been far from the harmful experience often depicted in media and promoted by LGBT activists. In stark contrast to these dramatic and harmful stories of “conversion therapy” often told, my experiences in these communities are where I have found some of the most Christ-like love.

That sounds like pray away your gay (which is generally not subject to conversion therapy bans). Depending upon her level of bisexuality, Erica is as gay today as she ever was. The attractions are the same but her conduct is driven by religious convictions.

The Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act was introduced in 2019. According to the summary:

This bill prohibits commercial conversion therapy, which is a practice or treatment designed to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or otherwise change behaviors, thoughts, or expressions related to gender or sexual attraction. This prohibition does not apply to treatment that assists an individual undergoing a gender transition or facilitates identity exploration and development.

For what it is worth, I agree with the premise because commercial conversion therapy is consumer fraud. My concern is that applying this to the treatment of adults might not be sustainable if challenged in the courts.

Therefore, the best course of action might be to prohibit commercial conversion therapy for minors allowing adults to make their own decisions. However, rational arguments that address my concern could be persuasive.

In any event, religious counseling is not included in the one bill introduced in Congress.

I really do not know how to interpret the following:

Through enacting these proposals, Joe Biden will be opposing the very places and people that have embraced me in deep and meaningful ways. Had there been a ban on “conversion therapy” while I was seeking these resources, I firmly believe my story would be drastically different—and I would identify as gay. This is something that I now believe is incongruent with my faith and I have found deeper satisfaction and overall well-being in walking out my biblical convictions.

The principal levers for religious conformity are approval and shame. Sexuality is not influenced by either. Dr. Warren Throckmorton, an evangelical Christian professor of psychology at Grove City College, a conservative Christian school, was once a proponent of conversion therapy.

Dr. Throckmorton has suggested that it is probably healthier to change religious beliefs rather than to attempt to change sexual orientation or gender identity. That approach seems more likely to succeed.

I have not spoken with Erica nor exchanged email. It seems to me that she is enjoying the acceptance of others as “ex-gay” at the cost of not accepting herself for who she really is. Presumably she is in her early 20s. There is a very good chance that she will change because the pretense is toxic.

Meanwhile it is probably a very good idea to outlaw an intervention that is far more likely to harm people than to help them.

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