One Size Fits All?

Warren Throckmorton seems to agree with me that while reparative therapy *might* be useful for some people to help deal with their same-sex attraction, it shouldn’t be used as a “one size fits all” solution. Indeed, sometimes people’s stories run completely counter to the “distant father” model so often put forward.

Since many in Nicolosi’s audiences are either unhappy with their homosexual attractions or do not know many gay people, the second problem might not be so clear. In contrast to Nicolosi’s depictions of the typical family of gay males, many such men experienced loving, close relationships with their fathers throughout childhood with no break in attachment. Listen to one such father who spoke to me recently about his gay son.

When my son was 18 months to 3 years old (and on into childhood), we enjoyed a wonderfully close relationship. We explored the world behind the YMCA and called it travelling, looking for creatures in nooks and crannies. When it would snow, we bundled up and follow the same path. We hunted for snakes together in the creek, built a swamp world for various amphibians and generally loved each others’ company. Wherever I was, there was my son; as my wife would say, we were like “Peel and Stick.”

As he got older our relationship changed, but in a way that it should change. It matured into a friendship as father and son. After our son came out to us, our relationship did not change.

Does this sound like an uninvolved, detached father? This man’s son concurs with his dad’s assessment of the relationship. They were and are close, with no breaks during the period Nicolosi theorizes should cause homosexuality.

It’s important that we deal with stuff like this, not pretending that the dad (or son) is simply not telling the truth or in denial, but rather accepting that homosexuality is sometimes *really* complicated.

The father sees a bigger picture.

Dr. Nicolosi gets it wrong to reduce the thorns in our sides/lives to a human event where we have but one chance to get it right. Does that sound like the relationship we have with our heavenly Father? God has allowed all of us to experience thorns, some painfully obvious, others less so. No doubt the thorns God allows are refining our character and leading us back to Him.

In fact, sexual orientation is quite complex. Most likely, multiple pre-and post-natal factors are involved in different ways for different people. One size does not fit all. What this means for Christian groups, however, is the stuff of controversy. For some, it means that homosexuality should be affirmed and Scripture reframed. For others, it does not lead to a change of orthodoxy, but rather to greater humility regarding the need for spiritual support to live a different and often difficult calling. What is not needed is adoption of simple, but misleading, answers.

Let’s emphasise that last point – greater humility regarding the need for spiritual support to live a different and often difficult calling. Which takes me back to another point I made last year…

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3 Comments on “One Size Fits All?

  1. One of the heart breaking effects of the teaching of Dr. Nicolosi is the level of guilt and anguish it causes for the parents of lesbian and gay children. Fathers are told that they have caused / contributed to their son’s homosexuality by being distant and not providing a close masculine role model, mothers are told they were domineering – and how much misogyny underlies that theory? Peter Toscano writes very movingly of the way his mother and father felt that they had “failed” as parents. I believe he wrote that it “was as though the light went out of their lives.”

    I know of conservative parents who have lost contact with their “unrepentant” gay children, later regretted this and paid such a heavy price. When will we stop this torture of LGBT people and those who love them?

  2. Commend you for posting this, Peter – it’s a moving story. Might just see if Anglican Mainstream has linked to it… I doubt it but hope they will follow your example here.

    in friendship, Blair

  3. To be fair, Dr. Nicolosi said, identification and attachment disruptions were ‘most often’ found in background of people with same-sex sexual feelings. He has also said he most often or usually finds some sort of trauma and that the degree of trauma or hurt necessary to cause this disruption of attachment and disorientated identity varies in individuals.
    Of course one size does not fit all since each human is an unique person and each life, even among siblings and twins has infinite variations of experience and response to it. All feelings and emotions are conditioned responses, sometimes secondary, tertiary, and so on. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. We do have to trust that our maker understands our uniqueness and our complexity and that His proscriptions on our behaviour are wiser than our desires and feelings.

    What a beautiful young son! Many blessings.
    Sibyl, Tallahassee, FL

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