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20 Questions for "Ex-Gay" Ministry Leaders: A Response - Part 3b

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  • Thomas Morey
    The following is my answers to the 13th through the 15th of Anthony Venn-Brown s 20 questions off of a recent blog on his website,
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30, 2008
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      The following is my answers to the 13th through the 15th of Anthony Venn-Brown's 20 questions off of a recent blog on his website, www.alifeofunlearning.blogspot. Hopefully, I will respond very soon to the 16th through the 20th Q's, in a future post.

      13. Are you a qualified and registered psychologist or counsellor? (usually the answer is no). So if I find your program has a negative impact on my mental health, can I sue you for damages?

      Yes, I am. I have practiced professionally for 15 years, am presently licensed in the state of Ohio as an independent marriage and family therapist.

      And, yes, anyone can sue for claims to harm done, for whatever reason, and at any time (at least in the American system of justice, I believe). But, the question remains is the suit winnable? Of course, on account of the aforementioned realistic objectives and goals of Exodus ministry stated previously, and the Jones and Yarhouse evidence-based study results regarding the possibilities of due harm concerning with an Exodus-type of ex-gay ministry program (see questions 3, 4 and 11), it appears that the poser's chances of experiencing increased psychological stress with either reparative-type therapies or Exodus ministry programs, let alone an experience that would qualify as harmful, and, therefore, legally winning such a suit, are all slim to none.

      In comparison, through evidence-based research, the popular and effective combination cognitive-behavoral and medication therapies for clinical depression are known as well to not cause due harm, although many of these patients have attempted, and some have even committed, suicide while still being enrolled in this type of treatment. Does that mean that this type of therapy must be somehow responsible, and should be discouraged, or even abandoned? Of course not. (Remember, this is what the APA has officially stated about reparative-type therapies, but offers no evidence from research to make such claims about harm incurred! Yes, sadly, the APA, a science guild, made this official statement for purely political reasons; not scientific.)

      Many clinically depressed folks suffer from cognitive distortions about all sorts of life issues, including expectations regarding remission of their disorder, or any other, including SSAS, whether it be as extreme as not having any hope for relief, or just its opposite, due to unrealistic expectations or demands of total eradication for life of any further symptoms. If any suicidal act is founded not to be pharmaceutically-related, a professional's documentation of written realistic goals for treatment, in comparison to their client's own stated expectations and goals in the therapeutic process, could be the difference between the professional being held liable for malpractice, and being exonerated. Of course, the professional would also be required to show some form of documentation that they have attempted to at least offer help, or a referral, to those who admit to suicidal ideation with no intent at present, and get immediate help for someone who
      admits to experiencing suicidal ideation with intent.

      However, the legal requirements to show due harm for ministry programs and leaders concerning their participants are not even close to that stringent. Neither documentation indicating a contrast of stated objectives and goals for the participant, nor of a support plan if the participant does admit to suicidal intent, are necessary for ministry programs and/or leaders. Again, if the participant experiences harm due to their own unrealistic objective(s) and/or goal(s), not shared by the program, its leader, according to its mission statement, I venture to say that chances would be slim to none that that program and/or leader would be held liable for any harm that occurred.

      14. In some situations, like prison and other all male environments, men have sex with men, but after leaving prison they return to living as heterosexuals. It’s called ‘situational homosexuality’. How different is that to you now being married, and having sex with your wife?

      As I said, I'm not married. So I can't speak from personal experience on this subject concerning the comparison of OSAd men in prison having sex with one another, and SSAd men being sexually faithful to their wives in a traditional marriage relationship. However, objectively speaking, I find this comparison that he made as rather odd, since I think the differences between the two scenarios are so vast and numerous. Don't you? And, I believe that the comparison made is also quite telling concerning his own view of what a traditional marriage must be like for all those married with SSAs.

      It does apppear that he is revealing by implication what marriage was actually like for him, since he sadly left his wife after almost twenty years of marriage, his two children, as well as resigning from the pastorate, by choosing to live a gay lifestyle instead. Apparently, for him, becoming a self-avowed gay-identified man involved much more than just coming out of the closet to his family, the church, and the public. It seems that it also meant being released from serving what he must have experienced to be a very long prison sentence, being held behind the impenetrable walls and bars of his powerless evangelical religion and lackluster marriage! Again, how sad! :-().

      The ONLY similarity to which I believe he could be referring in utilizing this comparison, from what seems to be analogous to his own tragic experience, is the restrictions of one's sexual outlet to just that of the same sex that is imposed upon an OSAd man while incarcerated, and the inherent sexual restriction to the traditional marriage bed for that of anyone married, including, of course, a married SSAd man. But, fortunately, this is where I believe the similarities end.

      What are just some of the differences? Let me start by mentioning what God says about the two scenarios. Of course, traditional marriage is His will and plan for human sexuality (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6), and any expression of sexual relations, including with the same sex, whether it be "situational" homosexuality (those in environments lacking opposite sex availability, such as with OSAd prison inmates, students of single gendered academic institutions, sailors on a prolonged assignment asea) or "philosophical" homosexuality (SSAd folks who experience identity congruency with their sexual desires, and indeed fulfill them) are strictly forbidden (Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:18; Matthew 5:27-30; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20; 1 Timothy 1:10). So, the most important difference is that the monogamous life-long heterosexual framework for humnan sexuality, that being traditional marriage, is God our Creator's intent, and
      those who abide by such a framework are choosing to be obedient to His plan. Whereas, those who choose to have sexual relations outside of this framework, including those who have sexual relations with a member or members of the same gender, whether it be a situational or philosophical homosexual experience, are in rebellion.

      The poser also appears to be assuming wrongly that both scenarios entail personal constraintment (repression of impulses towards the desired sex) as the only option and response to the respective external restraints. Of course, the traditional marriage relationship in itself does not necessitate a lack of access nor availability of sexual outlets which correspond with one's particular predelictions, as situational homosexuality may. By reading his autobiography "A Life of Unlearning", I know for a fact that the poser had these outlets available, and accessed them, while he was married. Most prison inmates do not have this option, and are constrained to abstain from such.

      Then, there's the issue of exorability of one's orientation. The poser apparently presumes wrongly that both an OSAd prison inmate's brain, nor a faithfully married SSAd person's, couldn't possibly be altered by both their respective and particular experiences concerning sexual abstinence of their predelictions, and sexual involvement otherwise, since he apparently believes, with no scientific research to back his claim, in a false, although politically popular, construct that one's sexual orientation is fixed, and genetic in origin. However, contemporary research, even though it is still in its infancy (e.g., "An Introduction To Brain and Behavior" by Kold and Wenshaw, 2nd Ed. (2005) Pgs. 430-431 The Hypothalamus, the Amygdala, and Sexual Behavior / Sexual Orientation, Sexual Identity, and Brain Organization), indicates that the neuroplasticity theory of the human brain is credible, that being the relationship between particular sexual behavioral
      patterns and the altering of its cortical structures, although just how strong the correlation is between this type of behavior and brain chemistry change is still much in debate.

      Therefore, as the theory goes, an OSAd inmate participating in frequent homosexual activity while incarcerated will experience at least some form of neurochemical and structural change to his or her brain, leading to possibly a shift, or maybe even a significant change, in sexual orientation, even if the OSAd prison inmate just returns to only heterosexual outlets after being released. Likewise, according to the theory, an SSA'd married person who abstains from their predelictions, and remains sexually faithful to their spouse, not only would condition themselves towards heterosexual functioning, but also possibly experience some measure of neurochemical and/or structural change in their brain as well, and a corresponding sexual orientation shift.

      Having worked with those with unwanted SSAs in ministry, and sex offenders in clinical settings for decades, I can recall quite a few participants and clients who reported to having been homosexually active while incarcerated, and admitted to only developing some sort of attraction for those of the same sex after they actually had been actively involved homosexually for awhile. Contrary to the poser's presumption, most admitted that their new found predelictions continued even after they were released. Those who did admit to this had been either in a juvenile detention center, or were still young adults in the state prison system. And, most reported, just as the poser had stated in this question, that they only resorted to heterosexual relations after being released. Although, two individuals, who also denied having any SSAs before being incarcerated, admitted to homosexual activity after being released, and were participants in an Exodus ministry
      program in order to address
      this issue.

      Lastly, the main objective of the sexual activity that the OSA prison inmates experienced appeared to be strictly copulative in nature, for the purpose of gaining a libidinal, or sexual, release; devoid of any conjugal, or relational, value. Whereas, the objectives of marital sex that lead to the goal of consummating a one flesh union, whether or not one of the spouses is SSA'd, are comprehensive and wholistic in nature, entailing all the human aspects of each individual: the sexual, relational and spiritual. The woman highlights the relational, the man the sexual, resulting in both creating a deep spiritual bond.

      15. How frequently are you tempted to have sex with someone of the opposite sex like any ‘normal’ heterosexual man would?

      Sometimes, but much less frequent than with someone of the same sex; and in comparison to what an "ever-straight" male ("0" on the Kinsey Scale), might experience. It is why I now categorize myself as between a "4" and a "5" on the Kinsey scale sexual orientation continuum ("3" being bisexual). Whereas, I used to be exclusively SSAd, a "6", when I was a young adult.

      Although, just as I had mentioned in my answer to questions 3 &4, attempting to carry out an objective towards a goal of becoming more lustful heterosexually, such as intentionally exposing oneself to straight porn, and determining to have sexual intercourse with various females, while abstaining from all forms of homosexual activity, may actually result in having some success, as many did in the Masters and Johnson behavioral treatment studies of the 60's and 70's. But, this really doesn't prepare an SSAd person for traditional marriage. Rather, it creates more psychosexual developmental damage, than it does maturity; as if one was going from the frying pan to the fire!

      Why is this? Because, one must remember that marriage is not all about sexual performance, as fornication tends to be, as I mentioned in my response to question 14. It is so much more! It also about relational and spiritual bonding, with one aspect of humanity in the marital institution not being more important than another. And, it is my observation that most SSAd males are BETTER relationally with their wives, and more romantic than most ever-straight men, when their sexual drive is awakened, which does indeed lead to a deeper spiritual tie with their wives. So, if the poser is implying in this question that an SSAd husband couldn't ever be as successful, or even more successful, loving his wife as would an ever-straight; well, he B wrong! :-)
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