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"Is There Really Such A
Thing As Ex-Gay?"
A Paper in Which
8 Observations Are Made of the
Ex-Gay Movement

see below

For the ex-gay movement, "change," "healing," "coming out of    
homosexuality," and being "ex-gay" is about behavior modification.    
There is no change in sexual orientation, only lifestyle.    
                          
                                 Is There Really Such A Thing As Ex-Gay?
                        An Evaluation of the Evangelical Ex-Gay Movement in America based on
                              the author's own experiences as an "ex-gay,"  and
                         upon the writings of the leaders of the ex-gay movement.
                                             by Stephen Parelli, ThB, MDiv
                                            Executive Director, Other Sheep
                                                          June, 2006


    Tears coursed down my check as I drove toward my destination. For the first time in my life I
    believed I had found someone who  could help me with my same-sex attractions.   .
    .   .   In addition to the regular ex-gay group meetings, I began weekly private phone
    sessions with therapist Joseph Nicolosi  which continued for nine months.  Nicolosi is
    co-founder of the controversial National Association for Research & Therapy of
    Homosexuality (NARTH).  . . .
                                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                            Go to the Paper

    What follows is my personal evaluation of the evangelical ex-gay movement as I experienced
    it  and have come to understand it.  In all, I make eight observations.  

    First, the ex-gay movement's origin is rooted in traditional cultural norms rather than
    good Bible exegesis and the social sciences.

    Evangelical ex-gay ministries began in the mid 70's as a faith-based knee-jerk
    reaction to the exploding gay-culture on the American scene.  The movement
    entered upon a rescue mission to save homosexuals without first doing it's
    homework in two essential and practical areas:  (a) sound exegesis  and (b) the
    social and psychological sciences related to homosexuality.   . . .
                                                                                                                                  Go to the Paper

    Second, their use of psychology is selective and appears overly dominant for a religious
    movement that otherwise rejects most of modern psychology's findings on homosexuality.

    . . . Their selective use of psychology upon the heels of their inadequate exegesis
    of Bible texts is indicative of the movement's culturally-based bias.  . . .
                                                                                                                                  Go to the Paper

    Third, while the movement promises "change" and "healing" on the surface, its leaders
    readily admit that these changes are external and behavioral only.

    From the footnote:  How ex-gay leaders speak of "change:"  Tim Wilkins, in  his
    article "Why I Won't See Brokeback Mountain," says "[I'm] still tempted with same-sex
    attractions!  I do not deny it." Bob Davies, in his book Coming Our of Homosexuality,
    says, "A strong, even passionate, lust when looking at an attractive member of the
    opposite sex on the beach . . . this certainly is not our goal in being healed," page 27.  
    William Consiglio, in his book Homosexual No More, says "What do I mean by
    recovery? . . . Recovery is able to go on . . . with minimally bothersome homosexual
    feelings . . . avoiding all homosexual behavior . . . recovery means the ability to
    manage . . . "  page 34.  Consiglio also says, "My experience as a Christian therapist
    . . . is that overcomers . . . .
    . . . [and more]

    Written ex-gay testimonies of "change" by in large fall into one of two  categories.

                                                                                                                                  Go to the Paper

    Fourth, the movement maintains a strong stereotypical male/female view of gender
    roles and sees the cause of homosexuality, in part, as the individual's failure to embrace his
    or her gender.

    The ex-gay movement's emphasis on reparative therapy and traditional, stereotypical
    male/female gender roles  fails to allow for the question "Which came first, the chicken
    or the egg?"  .  .  .  This theoretical process of boy-rejects-masculinity-and-male-
    society fails to ask the obvious.  Is the boy rejecting society's culturally-"correct"
    definition of masculinity, or has society rejected the boy for his culturally-
    "incorrect" style of masculinity?  
                                                                                                                                  Go to the Paper

    Fifth, honesty from group members is often the missing factor in the dynamics of ex-gay
    meetings.

    While attending the weekly meetings of an ex-gay group in New Jersey, I
    remember how surprised I was the first time it dawned on me that members were not
    being totally honest about their setbacks.  . . . I realized that evening that the ex-gay
    movement's "religious" expectation of "healing" was encroaching upon the realities
    and honesty of the various individuals present in that room so that to share
    setbacks was to admit spiritual defeat or spiritual failure.

                                                                                                                          Go to the Paper

    Sixth, the evangelical ex-gay movement makes claims of success that go unsub-
    stantiated.  

    "Over the years, we have seen many lives turned around and have been greatly
    encouraged by so many individuals who have won the victory and gained a new
    freedom.  We do believe that Jesus Christ is the healer and worker of miracles and we
    have seen many of those miracles of change among us."  Quite a claim!   

    HOPE, the ex-gay support group of Calvary Baptist Church, Manhattan, New
    York, makes the foregoing claim on their website.   Yet nothing on the website
    substantiates their claim.   My now-domestic partner José and I attended this group for
    . . .

                                                                                                                                  Go to the Paper

    Seventh, a "realignment of the will"  and the regulation of prayer, Bible reading, church
    attendance,  accountability  and more  are all essential tasks to be observed religiously in
    the  unending process of overcoming.

    . . . For three years, with a broken spirit, I rose daily from my bed and immediately left
    the house unnoticed to enter upon my prayer walk.   Whatever else my thoughts and
    meditations, this one prayer, with unceasing tears, was repeatedly uttered:  "Lord,
    send me  loving male arms to hold me; I cannot wait 'til I see Jesus."  I needed
    non-sexual male physical touch which not even the sense of Jesus' spiritual presence
    could fulfill.

                                                                                                                          Go to the Paper

    Eighth, the ex-gay movement views non-sexual close male relationships as essential for
    "healing" (for male homosexuals).

    .  .  .  By  my mid-forties, I was experiencing a chronic need for appropriately
    affectionate male touch.  It was so acute I could think of nothing else.  Every cell of my
    body seemed relationally isolated and  emotionally starved.  . . .  I desperately needed
    to be held by loving, human, male arms.  .   .  .   to have every cell of my body
    merged with every cell of his body, whoever he may be.   To be infused with
    male life-giving touch, face to face, body along the body of the other, foot over foot,
    palm against palm.  Two bodies, yet one healing holding intertwining.  That was my
    need and I told my therapist, Joseph Nicolosi.

    From the footnote:  Steven Farmer quotes Robert Bly, author of Iron John, in "A
    Gathering of Men," a PBS program in which Robert Bly is interviewed by Bill Moyers:  
    "When we stand physically close to our father, something -- something moves
    over that can't be described in material terms, . . . of receiving a food from him . . .
    Now, when the father went out of the house in the Industrial Revolution, that food
    ended . . . " [emphasis mine].  The Wounded Male, p. 29-30.


                                                                                                                                  Go to the Paper

    Conclusion to Is There Really Such A Thing As Ex-Gay?

    When all is said and done . . . no one turns my head like José (except for other
    great looking guys; oops!).   And by that I mean, wow! isn't José hot!  I've not read
    one ex-gay testimony where the so-called ex-gay male refers to sex with women with . .
    .
    From the footnote:  [According to ex-gay leader Bob Davies] Ex-gay men may find that
    this common pattern [that men are sexually stimulated by what they see] is untrue for
    their marital relationship.  Even if the ex-gay man continues to be vulnerable to
    sexual stimulation toward other men through sight, he may find that the
    principle turn-on in marriage is touch. . . . He may never have the same level
    of raw sensuality in looking at his fiancée/wife that he had with stimulation
    toward other men . . .

                                                                                                                          Go to the Paper
This website is the website of the Executive Director of Other Sheep.  Other Sheep  
can be visited at
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