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Praying to be Straight? Why?

Dr. Drew discusses a religious program to "cure" gays with the program director and a gay couple.

I was walking past a TV this afternoon when a talk show topic caught my attention: “Gay to Straight with Prayer?”

The show was “Dr. Drew” on the HLN news channel. I’ve never watched the show beyond the few seconds I saw today, but I know who Dr. Drew is. He’s a psychiatrist who graduated from medical school at the University of Southern California. Before that, he graduated from Amherst College, so he’s local to Shadley and he’s smart enough to get into Amherst. In other words, he’s no random homophobic nut.

From what I could tell, his guests included a fundamentalist Christian minister who wants to “cure” gays, a gay man who he supposedly cured, and a gay minister. I didn’t watch long enough to follow the discussion, but the viewpoints are easy to predict.

The fundamentalist minister probably cited the Bible’s Book of Leviticus to say that gays will burn in Hell. The ex-gay(?) man probably told about how he’s now married to a wonderful woman. And the gay minister pointed out that Leviticus prohibited many other things besides homosexuality, such as shaving and wearing clothes made from two kinds of cloth.

I Wasn’t Quite Right

I just watched some of the show on the Web so that I could grab the picture for this blog. My earlier guess about the fundamentalist minister wasn’t quite fair. He seemed much nicer than I expected, though he’s obviously still wrong about gays needing to be “cured.” The two men on the right side of the picture are a gay couple who met at the minister’s cure-the-gays program. They’re both still gay and are very happy.

People Should Be Happy

Now, I’m probably going to get in trouble with friends for saying this, but I think people can sometimes change their sexual orientation. Not always, but sometimes. Gays can become straight. Straights can also become gay, though I’ve never heard anyone bring up that option.

What makes it so radioactive to discuss changing sexual orientation is that it gets mixed up with a lot of other issues that really have nothing to do with it. It amounts to guilt by association.

Most people who talk about gays changing their sexual orientation are either nutty homophobes or self-hating gays. They believe that gay relationships are wrong, disgusting, an abomination, and all that hateful bigotry. So people think that it’s the only context in which gays might ever want to be straight or vice-versa.

As a future physician, I have what I consider a common-sense attitude: People should be happy. Helping them be happy and healthy will be my goal.

Two Options

If a patient of mine was gay and unhappy about it, we would have two options.

The first option is better. We would try to correct any mistaken beliefs or emotional biases that cause the unhappiness. Since being gay is a perfectly healthy form of human sexual expression, it’s better not to try to change that unless absolutely necessary. I would very strongly advocate the first option.

The second option is more difficult and risks reinforcing negative beliefs. If we’ve tried the first option but the patient just can’t be happy and gay, we could try to change that. Sexual orientation (gay or straight) has multiple causes, both biological and psychological. Some people’s sexual orientation is pretty much set in stone, and the second option won’t work for them. Other people’s orientation is more flexible. If they really want to change, and are absolutely determined to do it, then they can. I’m not saying it’s right or that I’d recommend it, but it’s an option. It shouldn’t be dismissed just because some of the people who push it are hateful homophobes.

Happiness is More Important Than Stereotypes

I reiterate: People should be happy — preferably by accepting and loving themselves as they are.

But if for some reason they can’t do it, we shouldn’t let ideology or stereotypes stand in the way of helping them be the people they want to be and having the lives they want to have.

Copyright 2011 by Rinth de Shadley.

  1. David
    April 18, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    I agree completely that people should really try to be happy with what God gave them. We know God didn’t create anything ‘bad’. So the fact that there are same-sex attracted people should be viewed as good. It’s what they do with that fact that is the issue to me, and (I think) to God. It’s no worse, though than adultery or lying, or stealing.

    We all have sin in us. We all have things that attract us even though they’re bad for us. Drugs, alcohol, etc. Money and sex are also among those things. I personally believe that sex invades our society way too much. But back to the issue.

    The Church believes and suggests that same-sex attracted people should listen to God’s call to chastity, just as unmarried people should. I know plenty of same-sex attracted people who follow the Church’s teaching faithfully, and I know plenty more who do not. I think we who don’t have this issue (though there are issues with opposite-sex attraction, too, when we let it invade our psyche) should offer our hand to help them if they hold out their hand and ask for help, but otherwise, we should leave them be. People who are happy in their sins will always be happy in them, until they come to a realization in themselves, and then we should be there when they need help. All of us humans are like that in one form or another, it’s not just homosexuals.

    Bless you Rinth!

    • April 18, 2011 at 7:46 pm

      Hi David!

      Thank you for the thoughtful comment.

      I do disagree with you about it, even though I know I’m also disagreeing with the Church. Bias against gay relationships existed long before Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. It seems to me that the Church tries to do the impossible by combining that ancient bias with Christian love and respect for the individual, trying to come up with a “compromise position.”

      In my opinion, the Bible was inspired by God but written down by human beings who filtered it through their own ideas. I mean, St. Paul for example didn’t really approve sex of any kind, but he allowed that it was better to marry than to burn. Despite all the good things that Paul wrote on God’s behalf, that hostility toward sex was Paul speaking, not God.

      Apart from what seem like arbitrary prohibitions that have no essential connection to God or Christianity, I just don’t see what’s wrong with two people expressing their love for each other, unless of course one of them is married to someone else. 🙂 I fully agree that you’ve got the Church on your side in this, but I’m afraid that I have to disagree with you both.

      Bless you too, David!

  2. April 18, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Me being a Pakistani and a muslim might get you to think that i have hatred or some sort of feeling for homosexuals. But its not. I just believe that we all live our own lives and have full right to do whatever we think right for over selves. Right or wrong, we should stand by our own choices and also let the others live by their own…

    • April 18, 2011 at 7:55 pm

      Hi, Habiba!

      I agree with you completely. Live and let live. I have enough trouble messing up my own life without telling other people how to mess up their lives! 🙂

      But please don’t think that most Americans have negative stereotypes of Pakistanis or Islam. Although I’m Catholic, I’ve learned about other religions and even know the five pillars of Islam. At school, we have both a Muslim Students Association (http://www.mtholyoke.edu/org/umma/index.html) and Pakistani students (http://www.mtholyoke.edu/news/stories/5682704).

      Every country and religion has some people who are crazy and who hate other people. But most people aren’t like that. Most people are good.

      • April 21, 2011 at 3:15 am

        I’m glad to hear your enlightened and rational views Rinth 🙂
        the world needs more people like u!

  3. April 18, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    ^ yea I agree…leave people to their own choices…its more peaceful that way!

  1. April 24, 2011 at 7:48 pm
  2. August 4, 2011 at 1:17 am
  3. October 17, 2011 at 11:21 pm

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