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My Take: Let's protect religious counselors amid 'conversion therapy' debate
December 11th, 2012
02:35 PM ET

My Take: Let's protect religious counselors amid 'conversion therapy' debate

Editor's note: Gabe Lyons is author of "The Next Christians: Seven Ways You Can Live the Gospel and Restore the World" and founder of the Q, a learning community that mobilizes Christians to advance the common good in society.

By Gabe Lyons, Special to CNN

(CNN)–Can gay people become straight? Is human sexuality modifiable? Are we really still discussing this?

Yes, according to U.S. District Court Judge William Shubb, who ruled last week that three licensed psychotherapists have the right to practice therapy that attempts to change the sexual orientations of gay and lesbian minors.

In a culturally counterintuitive move, he ruled that First Amendment rights of mental health professionals who engage in "reparative" or "conversion" therapy outweigh concern that the practice poses a danger to their clients. This ruling, albeit temporary, adds a new plank to the debate over gay rights, traditional American liberties and what constitutes good therapy.

At the heart of the controversy over sexual behavior modification is the idea that same-sex attraction is not a permanent and inborn condition but rather an aberration that's often rooted in childhood trauma. As Erik Eckholm of The New York Times writes, “Homosexuality is caused, (conversion) therapists say, by a stifling of normal masculine development, often by distant fathers and overbearing mothers or by early sexual abuse.”

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Today, of course, providers of this persuasion tend to be outcast into the wilderness of the discredited. Most agree that those who once practiced masturbatory reconditioning and genital shock therapy have no place in modern psychology and psychiatry.

But what the Shubb ruling tried to do is carve out space for the non-crazies, the still controversial but credible practitioners who want to help patients who desire to do so to understand the nature of their sexual identity and expression within a larger religious framework. It's a framework that, in its fullest conception, contains psychological appreciation that is at once deeper, more supple and more holistic than the reductive sexual identity assumptions that anchor mere sexual therapy, be it one of conversion or acceptance. If a client asks for help, why would we tie the hands of a professional counselor to provide whatever help they can?

Therapists from this tradition accept that same-sex attraction is not merely a flip-the-switch choice but rather an individual-specific, complex issue that must acknowledge the mysterious interplay between nature and nurture. Because their faith dictates that adherents strive toward a particular sexual ethic - one that confines sexual relations to those between a husband and wife and requires celibacy in all other circumstances - they seek to help patients manage sexual impulses through “cognitive behavioral change.”

Few of these therapists promise that gay and lesbian patients will emerge from their programs “straight.” Rather, they seek to provide guidance, counsel and tools to help reframe desire, its nature and its ends. Such therapy exists to help clients understand the place of their sexuality in the broader conception of who they are.

For example, some Christian therapists might help a client who believes that they are made in the image of God explore what role sexuality ought to play in understanding their full identity: Is it everything, nothing or a piece of the greater whole? These conversations may lead a client to decide how dominant of a role sexual desire will play in their life. Others might counsel a client to abstain entirely from sexual relations. But in doing so, the therapist would seek to help the client find fulfillment, identity and purpose outside of romantic or sexual relationships. There is a long tradition of Christians - from priests to nuns to laypeople - who have chosen celibacy as a higher calling toward spiritual fulfillment.

Whether you like conversion therapy - or these particular outcomes - isn’t the point. Protecting the religious rights of providers who help patients make sense of their sexuality in light of faith is fundamental. And these rights are under attack. Just last week, four gay men filed a civil suit in New Jersey against a prominent counseling group who provided a form of conversion therapy, charging it with deceptive practices under the state's Consumer Fraud Act. If other states follow California's initial ruling, restrictions on religious-based therapy could become the norm.

Gay activists deplore the existence of such options, claiming that it shames patients and represses their natural desires. Yet proponents of civil liberties support it, believing the greater threat is limiting a client's right or the religious therapist’s ability to administer sound judgment in full integrity as she helps her client achieve his/her goals.

Conflicts like this are likely to keep the debate hot and fractured. Here are three big reasons the LGBTQ community may continue to oppose the rights of clients and religious-based therapists and why the religious community must persevere:

Allowing “conversion” therapy to go forward acknowledges that change is possible.

The roots of sexual attraction are hotly debated in both the scientific and psychiatric communities. No one has discovered a “gay gene,” and neither has anyone proved that same-sex attraction can be credited solely to nature and not also nurture. Research and opinions on the matter are evolving.

Credible therapists do not claim that sexual-orientation change therapy turns people into ex-gay, happily married heterosexuals. Although some who participate in this type of therapy do not experience the full transformation they hoped for, others claim conversion therapy helped them achieve the results they sought.

Dr. Nicholas Cummings, a former president of the American Psychological Association, stated, “In my twenty years at Kaiser Permanente Health Maintenance Organization, 67 percent of the homosexuals who sought help from therapists for issues such as ‘the transient nature of relationships, disgust or guilt feelings about promiscuity, fear of disease, (and) a wish to have a traditional family’ experienced various levels of success obtaining their goals.

“In some cases … individuals who initiated therapy not seeking to change their sexual orientation, actually did so through the process of working through other psychological issues,” he said.

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Everyone possesses attributes we’d like to change: behaviors, character qualities, temptation patterns. Therapy, of all kinds, can help us stare those down and create the life we desire to live. Some may learn to accept these attributes and even embrace their greater purpose, while others seek to minimize or eliminate that characteristic.

If someone is distressed over his or her sexuality, they deserve the opportunity to explore the distress in a safe, well-resourced space. It is up to the individual and the therapist to gauge how that process will best happen.

If altering sexual orientation is possible, the “born this way” ideology has to face a trickier reality.

Acceptance of sexual behavior modification presents a difficult challenge to the gay movement. Much of the ideology surrounding the civil rights defense is built on the premise that sexuality is inextricably tied to identity, just as a person’s race, gender or country of origin is. Thus, because sexuality is assumed to be an inborn trait, it requires civil rights protection. Anything else would be unjust.

To suggest that sexual orientation may be intertwined with nurture, trauma, experience or desire is to complicate the victories the LGBTQ community has won using this civil rights argument. But to ignore these mysteries not only undignifies that community, it limits another constitutionally protected class: the religious.

So we must learn to make room for both religious freedom and personal choice. The LGBTQ community can still fight for the rights it desires while conceding that not every person with same-sex attraction is at peace with their sexuality.

It may not agree with the ways an individual may seek to resolve those tensions, but the gay rights movement must respect individuals’ decisions to pursue their own paths.

In the same way, religious leaders who oppose gay rights must accept that gay Americans are afforded the same religious liberty protections. Human sexuality is a complicated spiritual, psychological and physical issue. Everyone — gay or straight — as minors or adults, deserves the right to wrestle with their sexuality in the manner most appropriate to their needs. Saying so shouldn’t become an impediment to civil rights.

Limiting choice for anyone seeking personal change restricts a fundamental human right.
Any person seeking change — whether behavioral, relational, physical, sexual or emotional — has a fundamental right to pursue it. This must remain a basic freedom for both a licensed therapist and her client to explore all possible options in the privacy and confidentiality of their relationship.

We all have friends or family members who have experienced sexual or psychological childhood trauma. This is a reality for both gay and straight individuals, and such trauma often shapes one’s view of life and the world. While not every individual or family would choose to pursue therapy that is open to the idea of questioning the innate good of one’s sexual impulses, it is a valid avenue to help adults, teenagers and families seek understanding, gain clarity and take action to live in alignment with their values.

In the same way that this therapy should not be forced on anyone, it should also not be forcibly removed. Doing so goes against our Declaration’s insistence on every American’s right to “the pursuit of happiness” and a parent’s right to help his/her child.

Any debate touching on issues of sexuality is complicated, emotional and intensely personal. But each one presents an opportunity for each of us to wrestle with how best to live alongside one another, despite deep differences. Instead of treating these debates as zero-sum games where the winner takes all, we should fight to protect the rights and opportunities for each citizen to seek out truth and wholeness. Because if that freedom goes, so do the rest.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Gabe Lyons.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Homosexuality

soundoff (391 Responses)
  1. Atheist Hunter

    It's like saying I was born to do drugs, I was born to sleep with children, I was born to sleep with animals, I was born to steal, don't try to change me because that is who God made me. Pathetic Attempt!

    December 11, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • midwest rail

      What is pathetic is your lame attempt to link being gay with bestiality and pedophilia. I'm sure you meant the comparison with all the Christian "love" you could muster though.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      nope, meant it just like it is written...it's an abomination!

      December 11, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      No, it is not like that.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Here ya go, gay marriage opponents. Here is your prototypical contemporary Christian that you've aligned yourselves with. Enjoy the company.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • For you

      AH
      You were born to be an ignorant intolerant bigot.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Akira

      Ah, what you were born as is an intolerant bigot.
      Nope, no cure for that.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Madtown

      You're definitely not born to troll, you're not that good at it.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • sam

      Thanks for continuing to contribute to my Planned Parenthood fundraiser, AH! Every time you post on any artlice, that increases the total by $1. You're somwhere in the 40's now, dimwit. Keep it up!

      The donation will be in your name.

      December 11, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • 20-20

      @ midwest rail: You're right. Bestiality should never be lumped in the same category with sticking your member in another man's rec.tum and getting enjoyment from getting fe.ces smeared all over it. Making it with a farm animal is much cleaner.

      December 11, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      @20-20

      So, you're fine with h0m0s3xuality as long as it's not male-on-male @n@l?

      December 11, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  2. Atheist Hunter

    If you're going to outlaw conversion therapy then you should outlaw therapy period because it is all geared at changing the way someone thinks. Don't pick and choose, is it wrong to change the way someone thinks or is it not? Double Standards!

    December 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      You can't change the way someone thinks. You can force behavior on them but that will backfire. What you can do is offer a supportive and instructive environment for someone to explore their thoughts, feelings and psychological structure that allows them to come to their own conclusions about what is best for them.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Pete........then empty the prisons.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  3. Atheist Hunter

    ga y and les bian is a sin choice. Like getting drunk, stealing, lying, cheating, murder, pedophilia,etc. etc. etc. You get the idea. I may think I want to do drugs, but my choice to do them is sin. You may think you are attracted to a man if you are man, but to act on it is sin. I may think I am attracted to a married man, but to act on it is sin.

    December 11, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Delusional idiocy.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Pete

      Back in reality there is no such thing as sin.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Pete...then why you hang on a religion blog? You're obsessed with arguing about something that doesn't exist? SAD!

      December 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Pete. The Catholic Church defines sin as that which separates us from God. If there were no sin, we would all be in accord with God. So there is in fact sin else there would be no atheists who are separated from God of their own volition.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • JWT

      Religious sin belongs to certain religious type people only. Gay people are never sinners unless they belong to a religion that professes beign gay as a sin.

      Atheists are not separated from god as that imnplies god exists.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • mama k

      It is not a choice. Delusional as usual I see.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  4. Bootyfunk

    what a disgusting article. this guy is standing behind "therapists" that do unimaginable harm to g.ays, harm that can last a lifetime. these people have no place in the modern world - and they can take the writer of this piece with them. go away and come back when you're ready to join the modern, more ethical, world of secularism.

    December 11, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  5. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from "divinity".

    The point is that this is harmful, in the long run, and utter bullsh1t, clinically. It's harmful. The "therapists" are quacks. If this idiot thinks his Jeebus makes flawed people he can deal with it. It's utter quackery, as is all religion.

    December 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  6. Honey Badger Dont Care

    Here is the rub. The bible says that hom ose xuals should be kiIIed. No ifs, ands, or buts. For this reason and hundreds more this vile religion should go the way of the dinosaur. And I dont mean being left behind when Noah sailed away.

    December 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Call me crazy....but I feel like I am seeing a shift with the teenagers. They are calling B.S. more than ever. Times they are a changing, with much help from the internet. Kids are getting smarter and smarter and there B.S. filter is getting more finely tuned. Maybe it is just wishful thinking, but i see it in my kids and their friends.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Honey,
      I’ll see your “be killed”, and raise you a Thou shalt not.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      AB,

      Depends on where the grow up too. Those in Missouri or Alabama or Mississippi dont have much of a chance. They get it from both ends, in school and at home/church. They will be the ones that miss out on the future.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      HB, true, but that is true for those states in pretty much everything. Music, Fashion, etc. They are behind, always have been. I love California!

      December 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      RB,

      You might not know this, most religious people don’t know their book that well anyway, but those rules were for Israelites dealing with other Israelites. There is no other way to justify the things in the bible, ie. slavery, all the kiIIings, infanticide, etc. without knowing this.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      I spent 4 years of my army career in Cali. East LA as a recruiter and Fort Irwin out by Barstow. Great people everywhere.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      HB, yes I am hip. The reason they don't know is because they don't care. They don't read the good book. They let preachers and web sites "interpret" it for them. They "hero-worship" the pastor and the 20-something than runs the bible school. They are truly "sheep".

      December 11, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Huebert

      AB and HBDC

      Be kind to the South. I was born and raised in Alabama and I'm a liberal atheist who is working on a PhD. You would be surprised at what is going on down here musically, It's no longer just country, and the dining and arts communities are really starting to take off. Though in all honesty some of the rule areas still stuck in the early 1980's.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Huebert, I know I am generalizing. Just saying that typically arts and culture flow inward from NY and LA.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  7. Sam Yaza

    tell me has the method change at all since

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqgZnvfJ9Jg&w=640&h=390]

    December 11, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  8. Sam Yaza

    hay i have an idea lets cure the christian in you while were at it, that's actually a choice and it is destructive to the life on this planet

    "I'm going to tie you to a chair strap electrodes to your genitals and shock you every time you see a picture of Jesus" i call id deconversion therapy, quick some on e give me a grant!!!

    December 11, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  9. SAm Yaza

    the numbers are startling 100% of men and women who have undergone this therapy, who are dead, have committed suicide

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAhb4mQ6Pj0&w=640&h=390]

    December 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Akira

      Those parents should not be allowed to breed. Period.
      Shame on them both for making this young man contemplate instead of loving him unconditionally.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Akira

      Doc:
      Of course not; look what Lot did with his daughters, AFTER he offered them up to the crowd of Sodom and Gammorah...

      December 11, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • 20-20

      That's called Darwinism in action.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  10. Apple Bush

    My daughter (16) is a lesbian. I suspected she was early in Junior High as she never "chased the boys". She is very beautiful and would have no problem in attracting boyfriends.

    She came out as a freshman in high school. This did not come as a surprise to me, but I was very pleased that she felt so comfortable telling her Mom and Dad.

    She is well adjusted, happy and feels no outside pressure from her family to be anyone she is not. Why should she? It is absolutely normal.

    December 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Akira

      What a proud papa you must be; you have every right to be, also.
      Good job, Dad!

      December 11, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Good on ya. Great parent!

      December 11, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Since I am not willing to ridicule and torture my perfectly happy and healthy daughter, I suppose God won't have me.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Huebert

      I wish my wife's parents were as kind when they learned that their youngest daughter was a lesbian.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      My partner's family are Potuguese immigrants, which means "Old World Catholic".
      One of her aunts is gay and has, by her sister's reckoning, been saying that she wants a penis since she was 6.
      She's been with the same woman for almost 15 years.
      Her brother will not speak with his gay sibling because he believes her se.x life is "unnatural".
      Meanwhile, he is married to his 1st cousin.

      God hates fa/gs, but apparantly has no issues with incest.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  11. myweightinwords

    While I gladly and willingly defend everyone's right to believe as they are led to believe, I draw the line on that belief affecting the lives of someone other than them.

    Reparative therapy has been shown to be ineffective at best, destructive and abusive at worst. Do we give pastors and ministers a pass on abusing their kids because they believe that God tells them to?

    If a gay man or woman truly wishes to change their orientation it is because someone has made them believe that there is something wrong with them, that they are sick or evil or demon possessed. What needs to be "repaired" is their opinion of themselves, not their orientation.

    Anyone who says they were "cured" of being gay is either a bisexual or lying.

    December 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      So I should never change anything about myself just because someone suggest I should?

      December 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
      • myweightinwords

        Did I say that?

        I don't think I did.

        Unless you mean me saying to you, "Hey, you should cut your hair" is the exact same thing as someone saying to you, "You are a disgusting, vile f a g g o t. God hates you. You will burn in hell if you don't stop being gay" over and over again while you are growing up is the exact same thing.

        December 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I'm old enough to remember being derided for having long hair. So, yes, to me your argument is that in order to see the need for change, someone will have first had to convince me there is something wrong with me.

      December 11, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
      • myweightinwords

        Yes, someone first has to convince you that something is wrong with you. Who is someone who isn't you to decide that for you (not counting serious health/mental issues)?

        There is nothing wrong with someone who is gay. Nor someone with long hair. Nor someone who does not believe in gods.

        December 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'Bill Deacon' is an instance of the Begging The Question fallacy and contains non sequitur elements.

      http://fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      December 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Removed the word gay and orientation. Why does this apply to this type of therapy and not all others?

      If man or woman truly wishes to change it is because someone has made them believe that there is something wrong with them, that they are sick or evil or demon possessed.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
      • myweightinwords

        Because it has been proven to be damaging.

        Even for those who go into it truly wanting to change, it causes more damage because it doesn't work. All it manages to do is cause shame, humiliation, terror, and further degradation of the person's self worth.

        Therapy should result in a person who is more balanced, not create more mental health issues than it solves.

        December 11, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • JWT

      Well put mywieght.

      Conversion councellors are out and out frauds and deserve zero protection. The sad part is that frauds like this are generally allowed to exist and perform their dangerous and dishonest practices. Stopping these people is a good step in the right direction.

      Anyone that says to a gay person that they are worng and need to change is the one in need of some correction and therapy. At the very least it is none of their business and nothign good can come of it. Their words are harmfull and can be dangerous.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Agreed my weight. It is not for you nor I to decide that a person's orientation is acceptable or not. It is for them. For those who would like to explore those areas of their own life's, why should they be denied the opportunity?

      December 11, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      JWT what if it is the person themselves who wants help to change?

      December 11, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Akira

      "If man or woman truly wishes to change it is because someone has made them believe that there is something wrong with them, that they are sick or evil or demon possessed."

      Exactly!
      None of which is true in the case of being gay, and the people who try to convinve gays that they are sick, evil, and demon-posessed are the ones who are actually sick.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • JWT

      The question I would ask Bill is why do they want to change ? There is enough negativity in society to give some gays the inpression that they are wrong in what they are, pressure not to be gay. They can get this from parents, friends, teachers, ministers, politicians, many of whom would know better .

      What they need is help to accept themselves as who they are. That who they are is right and the scoiety who judges them is beyond merely wrong.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Is that the answer you would give to a transgender candidate?

      December 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
      • myweightinwords

        My nephew is transgender. He is currently in counseling to determine how he wants to handle it.

        Not to be told he is wrong.

        Not to change what he feels.

        To understand who he is and how far through the process he needs to go to be his genuine self.

        That's what good counseling does. It helps you become and accept who you genuinely are.

        Can you even see the difference?

        December 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • JWT

      The answer to get from a transgender candidate is what s ex are they internally ? If it does not match what they are externally then something perhaps needs to be done. Unlike being gay the surgery and drugs are intrusive and people need to be sure.

      I see nothing wrong with being transgendered at all. It happens and the question is what can we do about it. There are a number of valid options and which one works best for someone is an indivdual decision.

      The questions I would ask are not the same as the situation is not at all the same.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I find it interesting that you have no qualms about a radical surgical procedure to allow someone to alter their physical reality to match their internal perception of themselves but would disallow a psychological process for a person who would rather change their orientation internally to their choice.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
      • myweightinwords

        A person who is gay, is gay. No amount of therapy is going to change that.

        A person who is transgendered is transgendered. No amount of therapy is going to change that.

        All therapy should be to help a person understand themselves, accept who they are.

        Gender reassignment surgery is the next step in becoming who you are if you are transgendered. It is aligning your body with who you truly are.

        December 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
      • myweightinwords

        A person who is gay is gay. No amount of therapy of any kind is going to change that.

        A person who is transgendered is transgendered. No amount of therapy is going to change that.

        The job of therapy should not be changing something that is fundamentally a part of who you are. It should be learning to accept who you are and learning to live as your genuine self.

        Gender re-assignment surgery is about becoming your genuine self, about bringing unity between the body and the mind.

        December 11, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • JWT

      I find it apalling that anyone thinks there is something wrong with being gay.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Who said that?

      December 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  12. the AnViL

    those who seek change are guaranteed the same rights as everyone else to do so.

    if you're pro-choice in other matters – then this one is easy.

    i would also add – there are psychotherapists devoted to helping people break free from the god delusion.

    cha cha cha

    December 11, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  13. Apple Bush

    This whole thing has given me an excellent idea and I am only half kidding.

    LinCA gave me an idea, legitimate "reparative therapy" for Christians and other religions.

    I would be very interested to see what the market would be like. Is there already such a thing?

    December 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Yes, it's called a strip club

      December 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Bill Deacon

      You said, "Yes, it's called a strip club"
      If a visit to a strip club would cure believers of their delusion, there wouldn't be nearly as many christians in this country.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Maybe they are just born that way.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Bill, are you saying what if "believers" are born believers? Please tell me you are smarter than that.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Well I said it as a joke but you do know there are studies under way to determine if brain structure is different among religious people than non-religious. So, yeah maybe there is something to it. In the event it is discovered there is a difference in physiology, I wonder which side will be the first to claim "special" status.

      On another note, there is a story on other sites saying a researcher theorizes that hom o seexuality is an epigenetic dynamic. This means that while it is not a gay gene that certain hereditary traits can switch on and off over generations. Very interesting.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • mama k

      I would not be surprised, Bill. I know there are many that shudder when whenever someone compares humans to other species, but we certain see some very interesting things along those lines in other species. There are, of course, insects that can change sex (and be several generations contained within the outer-most host) within very short time periods based on the outside temperature, humidity and other factors.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  14. Akira

    If they are the oones seeking the personal change, go for it; unfortunately, for most of these cases, they are being forced to by outside influemces.
    Such as their church, or their devoutly religious family who canot accept their sons/daughter's s e x u a l i t y.

    This man is wholly full of it.

    December 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Hey Akira, yeah it always comes to this question for me, who would CHOOSE to be persecuted, despised, discriminated against and disowned? Dumby dumb dumb dumb.

      December 11, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Akira

      Hey, Apple, I agree.
      Some people have no bloody sense if they think they have a choice in gender attraction...

      December 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  15. Apple Bush

    Stop trying to take our Gays away!!

    If you like movies, theater, T.V. and fashion, you can kiss it all goodby if they keep messing with the Gay folks!

    December 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      "You're gays"? That's not patronizing at all is it?

      December 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • midwest rail

      now patronizing bothers you, Bill ? Why now, all of a sudden ?

      December 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Bill, if you knew anything about the Gay community you would understand that is a term of endearment. You don't know and you don't want to. Fair enough, but why don't you just butt out?

      December 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Oh Ok I'll check with "my gays" and see if they appreciate me taking ownership of them and all their cute little contributions to society.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • midwest rail

      More patronizing and disingenuous nonsense. Well done, Bill.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      "all their cute little contributions to society." Dude, that is messed up.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      movies, theater, T.V. and fashion

      December 11, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  16. LinCA

    Any "reparative therapy" is built on the premise that there is something in need of repair. If there is a need to "repair" someone's sexuality, it stands to reason that the incidence rate of such problems would be about evenly distributed across all people. That would mean that there would be a need to "repair" the sexuality of heterosexuals in far greater numbers than that of homosexuals. The fact that those therapies aren't used in proportional numbers shows that it isn't the sexuality that is the problem.

    The problem is clearly with the religion that, based on some interpretation of some ancient text, discriminates against a disliked minority. The problem is with religion being used to justify the hate held by the believers who chooses to follow this religion.

    December 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Nothing in the premise of this article prevents you from opening a practice devoted to helping people become hom o seexual and content with that.

      December 11, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      LinCA,
      “The problem is with religion being used to justify the hate held by the believers who chooses to follow this religion.”
      Christians don’t hate you. Christians love you and encourage you to seek Jesus while he may be found. Peace, Hope, & Joy.

      December 11, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Akira

      Oh, good grief.
      Stop acting as if you can catch 'gay'.
      The PROBLEM is people seeing someone's s e x life instead of the person.

      December 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Clarence Brown

      Robert Brown, you are a hateful, bigoted individual. Please stop shoving your disgusting religion at us, however obsequiously.

      December 11, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Robert Brown

      You said, "Christians don’t hate you."
      You may want to go talk to the people at WBC and other bigots. They clearly didn't get the message.

      You said, "Christians love you and encourage you to seek Jesus while he may be found."
      Since the dude never said a thing about homosexuality, why do so many christians have any issue with it?

      By the way, good luck on your quest. The dude, if he ever actually existed, is long dead.

      December 11, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Bill Deacon

      You said, "Nothing in the premise of this article prevents you from opening a practice devoted to helping people become hom o seexual and content with that."
      Since the problem is not with the sexuality but religion, welcome to my clinic.

      Unfortunately, I seem to be having about the same success rate as these conversion clinics that try to "help" homosexuals.

      December 11, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Well you have to want to change

      December 11, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Bill Deacon

      You said, "Well you have to want to change"
      ... and have the capacity for rational thought.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      LinCA,
      Ok fair enough, please allow me to rephrase my statement. Anyone who follows the teachings of Jesus should love, not hate, others.
      Most Christians I know don’t have an issue with it. What happens is they get presented with having to be for, or against, things. The thinking is if I vote to allow people of the same s e x to marry, then I am for sin. So, given that context most say they are against sin and vote against initiatives allowing it. The reason they feel compelled to be against sin is because of the examples in the bible of how God judges entire nations for the sin of the people.
      Jesus kept things very simple. He didn’t focus on individual sins, because we are all sinners in need of a savior. He said and is still saying, come to me all you who are burdened and I will give you rest.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I would say that the ratio of believers who have no capacity for rational thought is only exceeded by that of atheist with no comprehension of the divine.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by Bill Deacon is an instance of the ad hominem fallacy.

      http://fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      December 11, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Bill Deacon

      You said, "I would say that the ratio of believers who have no capacity for rational thought is only exceeded by that of atheist with no comprehension of the divine."
      Comprehension and belief are two very different things. Not believing the nonsense doesn't mean not comprehending the phenomenon.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I'm using the term to mean an ability to understand the meaning or importance of something (or the knowledge acquired as a result);

      Interesting that fallacy spotting noted my ad hominem but ignored yours. Is that an instance of selective sequestration?

      December 11, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • fred

      LinCA
      There are no statistics that would show how many soft boys were forced or bullied into ho-mo$exual lifestyles by those who like you continue to promote $ex with children. These boys are bullied at an early age and are targeted not just by ho-mophobes or Christians. You and the American $ex industry have done irreprebale harm to innocent lives. If there is a God there will be consequence to those who promote children into lifestyles they are not ready to handle. If there is no God then your animalistic thoughts are just as normal as the instincts of the dogs and apes that do what comes natural.

      So Lin after you are done setting up the playing field for maximum $exualization of children please pat yourself on back.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Good grief, fred. Your post borders on the insane – could you possibly be more misinformed ?

      December 11, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Pete

      I would place Fred's post clearly inside the insane border.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Are you saying there is no over seexualization of children in America?

      December 11, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • mama k

      I am confident that science will soon prove that natural homosexual tendency is as naturally occurring in mammals as it has already been proven to be naturally occurring in non-mammalian living things on this planet. I don't buy into this conversion therapy one bit. Sure the mind can be strong enough to allow a person to be celibate or even delude itself into believing it can always override natural tendency, but to what end? To prove to a bunch of religious fanatics that one can fit in? Thankfully, in the U.S., people have the option of ignoring this nonsense and those who claim it to be of any value.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • fred

      Midwest rail
      Pete
      Sorry, but the government has been pounding the safe $ex drum for 25 years and exactly what message does that send? The LGBT community has been pounding the soundbite $ex is normal and fun. The media floods the mind with $exualized messages. I think it amazing our politicians saw the problem with Joe Camel and the impact on children yet close their eye to promotion of $ex.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Sorry, but the government has been pounding the safe $ex drum for 25 years and exactly what message does that send?

      Safe sex is about saving lives. It has absolutely nothing to do with sexualizing children. Nothing. And to insinuate that it does is disingenuous at best. Flat out lying at worst.

      The LGBT community has been pounding the soundbite $ex is normal and fun.

      1) I've never see that or heard that sound bite.
      2) Sex, when done properly, IS fun.

      The media floods the mind with $exualized messages.

      And this is somehow the LGBT community's fault....how exactly?

      I think it amazing our politicians saw the problem with Joe Camel and the impact on children yet close their eye to promotion of $ex.

      I think we are WAY, WAY too hung up on sex in this country and we need to start minding our own naughty bits and let other grown adults mind their own as well.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Bill Deacon

      You said, "I'm using the term to mean an ability to understand the meaning or importance of something (or the knowledge acquired as a result);"
      And you are suggesting that one is more apt to understand the meaning or importance of the divine if one is a believer?

      I contend that atheists are more likely to understand religion and the divine because they don't believe the foundational assumptions of them. It is far easier to rationally evaluate the beliefs and practices associated with them if one isn't emotionally invested in them. It is relatively easy to understand the need for an explanation for things poorly understood, and how someone in a position of authority can make up an explanation by claiming a divine plan (and, of course, this divine operator works in mysterious ways, it is not for us mortals to question his plan or who he has entrusted with spreading his message,yada, yada, yada).

      December 11, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • fred

      myweightinwords
      “Safe $ex is about saving lives. It has absolutely nothing to do with $exualizing children.”
      =>Then why promote it to children. Tell children of the pain and suffering associated with $ex and that abstinence is the only sure way to avoid pain and suffering until they are adults and married.
      Let me see “safe $ex” tells an immature child that $ex is dangereous? No wonder we are in the mess we are in. The government says it is safe just do it like this………….what!!!!!!!
      How about AIDS kills, how about the average cost of AIDS is $658,720 per infected person that heard about safe $ex from the federal government just to find out it’s not that safe.
      Is this the safety net liberals always brag about? Oh, safe and a net to boot so why bother to work or pay for insurance there is a safety net out there just for the children of the world
      .
      "2) $ex, when done properly, IS fun.”
      =>What did you just say….it is fun thanks for the sound bite. Please tell kids that snakes bite and give them a snake bite kit, don't show em how to put a raincoat on bananna bob

      “The media floods the mind with $exualized messages.And this is somehow the LGBT community's fault....how exactly?”
      =>How about they tell the truth about the pain, suffering, bullying that goes along with all that safe $ex. How about some education about how vulnerable children are tricked into $ex that really is not safe. How about abstinence instead fun fun fun in sun.

      “I think we are WAY, WAY too hung up on $ex in this country and we need to start minding our own naughty bits and let other grown adults mind their own as well.”
      =>then tell the adults to stop pushing $ex on kids. You just do not understand the Joe Camel problem do you. We are hung up on it because it is profitable. $ex is the oldest game in the book to bring down a society and you think it is fun? At whose expense?

      December 11, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  17. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    Are You There, God? It’s Me, Pat Robertson

    Read more: http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/12/04/top-10-news-lists/slide/are-you-there-god-its-me-pat-robertson/#ixzz2Em0F7Fi3

    December 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  18. Religion is Not Heathly for children or ANY living things

    This author is downright delusional! There is NO debate about so-called "conversion therapy" as this is well known to be QUACKERY! There is absolutely NO clinical evidence whatsoever to support this thinly veiled "Gay exorcism" baloney! But, of course these are the same delusional minions who claim that there is ALSO a "controversy" over evolution vs. creation! LOL! But, there is NO such controversy as the creationism myth is also well known to be quite impossible and blatantly false...

    December 11, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Religion is Not Heathly for children or ANY living things,
      Do you know everything? Were you present at the beginning of time? What convinced you there was no creator?

      December 11, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  19. coriolana

    no thank you deluded theocracy. there are no religious counselors, only vicious conartists

    December 11, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Coriolana,
      God loves you.

      December 11, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  20. Honey Badger Dont Care

    F "religious counselors". They are biggots who hide behind a fake diety.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • The Life of 3.14

      I'm sorry, do we care what you think?

      December 11, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Honey Badger Dont Care,
      Why would anyone care enough to counsel someone if they hated them?

      December 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I know a number of counselors with varying degrees of personal religiosity. Anecdotal as my sample is, I find all of them to be compassionate, sensitive, informed and ethical folks who deeply desire to ease the suffering of their clients and patients. For every religious zealot who manages somehow to navigate therapist training, I am sure an equal number of raving libertines exist as well.

      December 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Karen

      Robert, for the same reason Jimmy Swaggart and the other con artist televangies do their game: for the money, stupid.

      December 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Are you kidding?

      "Why would anyone care enough to counsel someone if they hated them?"
      Why? Do you think your therapist LOVES you???? They're in it for the bloody money. What a stupid thing to say!

      December 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.