James Parker on BBC Today

As mentioned before, James Parker of Living Waters UK was part of a piece on Wednesday morning on SORS. The significance was that this was, to the best of my knowledge, the first time this major UK news programme had had an ex-gay as part of a report. The whole 4 minute piece can be listened to by pressing the play button below.

22 Comments on “James Parker on BBC Today

  1. It was great to hear James Parker talking its a shame they did not give him more airtime.
    I had the opportunity to take part in the resent JIM week end and to meet James personally and found him and the staff and men talking part a great inspiration to end my SSA.
    I am married with children and desperately want to lead a normal heterosexual life.

  2. Parker stated, “We see that there are more serious health implications for people who live a gay lifestyle. Even the gay research shows that this is a more fragmented lifestyle and relationship choice. So actually we are trying to equate, I believe, something, um, that is less healthy for society with something that is in the best interest of society.”

    This raises more questions for me than answers anything. Yes, I realize he had only a few seconds to speak, that is the nature of these media appearances, but what research does he mean? What was the actual conclusion of the researches and not simply the inference made by Parker? Far too many Christian leaders, who claim that thou shall not lie, bend the research on LGBT people to suit their own purposes. I expect more from a Christian.

    The broadcast mentioned the Journey into Manhood program. This to me reveals the real issue, sexism. Men are not men enough. The ex-gay movement is almost always about “saving” men. As if someone couldn’t be a man, a healthy responsible male citizen and also have a partner who also happens to be a man. Heterosexuality and Manhood are not the same thing. Just like holiness is NOT the same as heterosexuality. There are plenty of holy homosexuals. I meet them all the time.

    Yes, there are men with sexual addiction issues, men who look to meet their emotional and psychological needs in unhealthy and inappropriate ways, but that is true of men who have heterosexual as well as homosexual orientations. If the church wants to address promiscuity and sexual addiction, great. Go for it. You will find allies in this worthy work within the LGBT community.

    But please, do not slander me and my “lifestyle”. If the only people an ex-gay leader meets are the folks in his program, folks who elect to attend such a program, he is going to meet lots of hurting, dysfunction people. He never sees the healthy happy queer folks. We exist, we thrive, we are not a menance to be contained.

    Now if Christians feel their voice is not being heard and they object to the process by which a law is passed, than their concerns need to be heard. But to propagate the lie that “change is possible” and that one can engage in the process without causing harm is irresponsible and dishonest. The vast majority of people cannot change sexual orientation and the vast majority of those who tried (at least of the hunddreds I have met) have said the process caused them more harm than good.

  3. Peterson makes very cogent and temperate points. It was surely absurd of Parker to state that because the aetiology of homosexuality is as yet unknown and because a few – a very few (hundreds? more? less?) people out of the millions who find themselves homosexual have successfully achieved heterosexual functionality through such programmes, after a GREAT DEAL of effort because they are so unhappy with the same-sex desire they experience, that the government should not legislate against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation for all the rest. That kind of argument made me lose sympathy with him almost immediately because it made it clear that this whole thing is agenda-driven. Do you have to be religious to want to change your sexuality? No, but it helps, I suppose. Quite honestly the kinds of people who put themselves through these programmes have to be pretty desperate and pretty determined – like transgender people who submit to surgery to correct another of nature’s mistakes. The difference is the transgender folk haven’t fallen into the hands of the religious controllers but these guys have. It is surely telling that the NARTH conference speaker Joseph Nicolosi mentioned on the AM website is interested -exclusively? – in what he call ego-dystonic homosexuals, i.e. self-hating or people suffering internalised homophobia. (Incidentally they are the ones Fr John MacNeil in The Church & The Homosexual says can stay in the Catholic priesthood – the moment they become ego-syntonic – self-accepting – they are on their way out.) Once people have come out of the closet and have really accepted the hand nature has dealt them they are liberated and I imagine they are very hard to convert to heterosexuality. They whole thing is so mixed up with religious dogma that it needs an entirely independent panel to assess the benefits and dangers of sexual orientation realignment – something the government should really be looking into, if, as peterson suggests above it does cause more people harm than those it helps.

  4. Tom,

    Your final point is a non-sequiter (is that how you spell it??). The model espoused by James, myself and others is that heterosexuality is normative and that therefore homosexuality is an abherence from that norm and that therefore the pull is from one pole to the other (homo to hetero). Your critique suggests that the two poles (hetero / homo) are each equally normative experiences for humans.

  5. The other interview that James Parker gave for the Jeremy Vine Show last Thursday, is somewhat longer and gives a better overview than the short morning slot. The link is valid until this Thursday morning:
    Go to the ‘listen again’ box on the right hand side of the page and press ‘Thursday’
    The bbc streaming player will open up at the start of the program; jump forward to 35mins into the program.

    The main interview lasts for about 15mins and then after some pieces of music there are two sets of listener’s responses – total time 25mins. There are also some responses written on the website.

  6. Peter, even if it is as you say that “heterosexuality is normative and that therefore homosexuality is an abherence from that norm and that therefore the pull is from one pole to the other (homo to hetero)” it is possible then to test that this is true i.e that no one could move in the opposite direction. It means once hetero you could never be gay but I think that simply doesn’t stand up if you take the evidence of married people who ‘discover ‘ their gayness later.

  7. You sent a huge amount of comments Tom so some got trapped in my spam filter. I’ve rescued them from there and you should now be able to comment freely.

    I’m quite happy to chat to you about my desires etc, but frankly I’m not impressed by the language of ascribing me a “super-ego”. You’re not going to get anywhere in fostering conversation by insulting those you want to talk to.

    So here’s what we’ll do – Give it a day or so and if you still want to chat to me about my personal experience, contact me via the Contact Form on this website with some IM details (Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo, Skype or the like) and we’ll chat online.

  8. Peter

    No offence meant. Super-ego is Freudian technical term for the guardian of the ego controlling how much of the desires of the id are allowed expression. According to the theory the super-ego acts as the conscience, maintaining our sense of morality and the prohibition of taboos. I didn’t mean to suggest that you’d got a whopping great ego!

    (BTW I think one of my posts has dropped out – the one you answer at 6.09 about the non-sequitur)

  9. I’ve got friends who also say miracles DO sometimes happen at Lourdes – just not for most people. But to be fair to botth sides, I think there is some cognitive dissonance going on in Peter’s comment since he has invested his life’s work in the process.

  10. There is a very sensitive and non-abusive discussion of the issue of ex-gay – in this case Love Won Out – from the point of view of people who tried ex-gay and found it wanting. It is worth reading whichever side of the ex-gay argument you are on: http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2007/03/06/243

    Also on the same Box Turtle website there is a response to Paul Cameron’s claims about gay lifespans from the Danish epidemiologist Morton Frisch.

  11. William I was concerned about what you said about James, as I have heard some people say similar things about him. But I am interested if you have ever told these things to him personally, as he probably needs to hear them. I think if it was said in the right manner it could bless him and also show him the error of some of his ways.

    PLEASE NOTE – The comment to which this comment refers has been removed

  12. While some people may by sheer force of will and self denial alter their behaviour, no one can change their sexual orientation. James Parker himself, on BBC, admitted that he was still attracted to men. Sexual orientation is innate, it is part of the self, and is therefore of God’s.

  13. I would say the same thing about paedophilic attraction. While perhaps the act of paedophilia itself may be wrong, the attraction paedophiles experience to children is something innate – just as homosexuality is, in the same way that James Parker admitted he was still attracted to men.

  14. Thanks *almost* Anon. You make a very good point. Would we call someone who still sometimes has sexual thoughts about children but hasn’t done anything with them for two decades, a “paedophile”?

  15. *banging same drum as I often have before*
    …but still, a question Peter – why do you draw the analogy with paedophilia? Am wondering what the link you see is between it and being gay. I’m not sure if anon is right that “the attraction paedophiles experience to children is something innate – just as homosexuality is”: without getting bogged down in semantics, what does ‘innate’ mean here? And in any case is it true that paedophiles’ attractions are something innate – what do expert organisations think (…ok, not that I’ve bothered to look that up myself!). Not sure how to answer your question in the last comment Peter (not that it’s to me, I know…) – maybe another one for a specialist, but perhaps one would also need to consider the possible effects of calling such a person a paedophile: vigilantes, being ostracised, and a loss of reputation far worse than anything associated with being known for being gay, for instance. So even if strictly speaking it could be said that such a person is a paedophile or has such desires, it could be important to be very careful about using the word.
    Sorry if this is too blunt or not coherent – look at the time…
    in friendship, blair

  16. The reason we compare with paedophilia is NOT because homosexuals are paedophiles. Far from it. It’s because for both sexual attractions we don’t know the causation and also both sexual attractions can be exhibited in consensual sexual relationships. By applying the arguments in favour of homosexuality to paedophilia, we can assess whether those arguments are actually robust.

  17. Hello again Peter,
    I’m aware you never argue or suggest that ‘homosexuals are paedophiles’ – wasn’t thinking that. But I don’t think you have a strong case here. Granted that “for both sexual attractions we don’t know the causation” – though even then, the analogy’s not quite watertight. The site minddisorders.com says, “As far as genetic factors are concerned, as of 2002 no researchers have claimed to have discovered or mapped a gene for pedophilia” – that’s not the case for homosexuality though I’m not pushing that point too hard, given that no ‘gay gene’ has been pinned down and perhaps won’t be. I can also glimpse that it’s a bit absurd for me to quote from that site as though 2 minutes’ research made me an authority :)
    I think it’s much more problematic when you say “both sexual attractions can be exhibited in consensual sexual relationships”. The implication is that you believe that pre-pubertal children can give genuine consent to sexual acts – is this really what you mean, and if so, how would you make a case for believing it? If you had in mind as an example, sexual acts between an adult and a 13- or 14-year old, I don’t see how these can truly be called paedophilia given the likelihood that such a young person would have started puberty, and their likely understanding of sex. I’m not trying to justify such acts, just trying to point out the differences between (say) an 8-year old and a 13- or 14-year old. Notably the law in this area does also make a distinction between young people aged over and under 13, I think.
    Also, paedophilia is (scuse the obvious) about adults and children of either gender, but homosexuality is about same-sex attraction. And there is surely an inbuilt power imbalance in paedophilic acts, which there isn’t in homosexual relationships – largely but perhaps not wholly to do with consent (I fear I’ve held forth on that one before). When you say, “By applying the arguments in favour of homosexuality to paedophilia, we can assess whether those arguments are actually robust”, it implies that in any given argument one could change every instance of the word ‘homosexuality’ to ‘paedophilia’ because there is a good analogy between the two, and so this would be a test of an argument in favour of homosexuality. But there isn’t a good analogy between the two, it seems to me. And testing arguments for homosexuality in the way you suggest seems to me in tension with your own position – if you can test arguments for homosexuality by applying them to paedophilia that suggests the two are almost interchangeable, or could be equated. But you’re absolutely clear that homosexuals (…don’t like that word yet have kept using it…) are not paedophiles, and you’ve said you wouldn’t campaign against civil partnerships – those positions don’t sit comfortably with the way you’ve argued above, as far as i can see.
    OK, end of righteous tirade…
    in friendship, Blair

  18. Blair,

    Let me give you an example. Some people argue in favour of homosexual relationships on the basis that they’re consensual. However, those of us who pastor in the area of sexual brokenness know that some relationships between adults and children are consensual as well. We speak to the partners in those relationships. If one argues that the homosexual relationship is moral because it is consensual, why not the one between say a 30 yo and a 13 yo.

    The “power imbalance” argument is a weak one because many of these underage/overage relationships don’t exhibit such distortions. If such an imbalance doesn’t exist, is the relationship moral?

    The obvious answer is “no”, so we are left rejecting consent or power balance as a validator for the morality of a specific relationship, whether paedophilic, homosexual or heterosexual.

  19. Hi again,
    at the risk of being too argumentative, I think you’ve sidestepped some of the points I made. Also, I’ve never heard anyone ground a pro-gay argument in the fact that gay relationships can be consensual – isn’t that taken as read, in a sense, as nobody’s arguing for non-consensual gay relationships? You say above that you “know that some relationships between adults and children are consensual”, but as I said before if the example is one involving a young person of 13, why call this paedophilia (and not ‘ephebophilia’ or whatever the word is)?
    Was surprised at your comment that “many of these underage/overage relationships don’t exhibit such distortions” – if you’re willing to say I’d be interested to know what ages of people we’re talking here, and what kinds of “distortions” you’re thinking of. I don’t think either of your examples above mean that issues of consent or balance of power within a relationship have no bearing on how moral it is. To an extent I agree with you in that “consent and power balance” aren’t the only grounds for ‘validating’ the morality of a specific relationship – but that doesn’t take us far in argument about gay (or any?) relationships and as i say I have not heard anybody use these as a sole grounding for a pro-gay argument. I’m sure you’re aware that there are far richer ‘pro-gay’ arguments (from Rowan Williams and James Alison), which can’t be dismissed by applying them to paedophilia as it simply wouldn’t work. I don’t think you’ve made a case for a close analogy of homosexuality to paedophilia.
    [steps off soapbox – about time…]

  20. Blair,

    I do actually agree with what you wrote. The “consent” or “non-abusive” argument for validating gay relationships is shallow and easily dismissed. That means that we need to engage with the much better stuff that comes from Williams et al, though I think you’ll find that Rowan has shifted his position since writing “The Body’s Grace” is his 2005 address to the ACC is anything to go by.

  21. oops, sorry, went off on one a bit there as they say. I think i see more where you’re coming from – applying weak arguments to the issue of paedophilia to expose them as “shallow and easily dismissed” – is that fair? Not so sure that Rowan has changed his position as such……… Ok, one say I will leave a comment without disagreeing with something!

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