Can You ‘Pray Away the Gay’?

It seems not, as this very intriguing report by NPR demonstrates.

Supporters call it “conversion therapy.” Critics call it “praying away the gay.” Whatever name you use, it’s creating a ruckus in Christian circles about whether a person can change his or her sexual orientation. And now the largest “ex-gay ministry” is rejecting the approach.  …

Earlier this year, Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus International, addressed the Gay Christian Network, which was notable because many in the network are more open to gay relationships. Chambers said that “99.9 percent” of the people he had met through Exodus International either had not changed their sexual attraction or still struggled with temptation. He got a laugh when he told the gathering that there are no quick fixes, “no hocus pocus, no magic wands, no ‘1-2-3, now be free, go be straight, date and mate!’ ”  Last month, Exodus International made it official: It would no longer associate with or promote therapy that focuses on changing sexual attraction.

Many years ago the Vatican commissioned a VERY thorough study of homosexuality which concluded that it is, in some cases, the result of abuse.  In some, it’s the result of choice.  And in some, the causes are unknown but may be biological.  (Mind you, that’s a very short overview of a very long and complex study).  And over the course of years I’ve come to agree with that assessment.   There are persons who are abused and injured as children who compensate by same sex attraction.  And some do indeed choose to participate in homosexual practices (think of Ellen Degeneris’ one time girlfriend who was gay for fame).  And there seem to be others who are simply biologically inclined to homosexual behavior.

Theologically all three are problematic (in the sense that they raise important theological issues concerning sin, the Imago Dei, and free will).  Such issues can’t be solved in a blog post and they have been so widely debated and widely disputed that there really seems to be no way forward at this point.

One thing I’m certain of, however, and that is this: homosexuality isn’t the unpardonable sin.  Homosexual persons, however they come to exist in that state, deserve to be shown the love of God even if we cannot agree with homosexual behavior.   They are, after all, human beings too.

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One thought on “Can You ‘Pray Away the Gay’?

  1. Deane 7 Jul 2012 at 3:54 am

    “Many years ago the Vatican commissioned a VERY thorough study of homosexuality which concluded that it is, in some cases, the result of abuse.”

    Nobody can doubt that the Vatican would have good data for both of these activities.

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