What’s the Research Supporting California’s Ban?

A fascinating piece on the lack of any scientific evidence supporting the recent law change.

To test this hypothesis, I conducted a search of the PsycARTICLES and MEDLINE databases.  PsycARTICLES is a definitive source of full text, peer-reviewed scholarly and scientific articles in psychology, including the nearly 80 journals published by the American Psychological Association.  MEDLINE provides authoritative medical information on medicine, nursing, and other related fields covering more than 1,470 journals. I searched all abstracts from these databases using combinations of key words best suited to identify studies related to the question of interest.  Below are the totals for articles on cigarettes and alcohol (words preceding an asterisk indicate that the search included all words with that stem, so that a search for “minor*” would include both “minor” and “minors”).

Key Words Total Articles Earliest Article
Children & Alcohol 4465 1917
Children & Cigarettes 883 1970
Adolescent* & Alcohol 6180 1917
Adolescent* & Cigarettes 1252 1971
Minor* & Alcohol 2670 1944
Minor* & Cigarettes 356 1973

These totals make clear that the literature regarding youth as related to alcohol and cigarettes is extensive, with studies numbering in the thousands.  With such a sizeable database, one could reasonably expect that observations relative to the harms of cigarettes and alcohol among youth reflect reliable scientific information that has been replicated in numerous ways. These results, then, form the standard by which we can evaluate the volume of scientific literature from which any claims about SOCE and youth are based.

Since SOCE is a relatively new term in the literature, I also conducted searches utilizing the terms “reparative therapy,” “conversion therapy,” and “sexual reorientation therapy,” which were in use long before SOCE was coined.  My extensive search of the databases to identify scientific literature supportive of Sen. Lieu’s comparison yielded the following findings:

Key Words Total Articles Earliest article
Children & Sexual Orientation
Change Efforts (0) —
Children & Reparative Therapy (0) —
Children & Conversion Therapy (0) —
Children & Sexual Reorientation Therapy (0) —
Adolescent* & Sexual Orientation
Change Efforts (0) —
Adolescent* & Reparative Therapy (1) 2010
Adolescent* & Conversion Therapy (0) —
Adolescent* & Sexual Reorientation Therapy (0) —
Minor* & Sexual Orientation
Change Efforts (0) —
Minor* & Reparative Therapy (0) —
Minor* & Conversion Therapy (0) —
Minor* & Sexual Reorientation Therapy (0) —
Sexual Orientation Change Efforts & Harm (0) —
Reparative Therapy & Harm (1) 2010
Conversion Therapy & Harm (1) 2002
Sexual Reorientation Therapy & Harm (0) —
Homosexual* & Psychotherapy & Harm (1) 1977
Gay & Psychotherapy & Harm (1) 1996
Lesbian & Psychotherapy & Harm (0) —
Bisexual & Psychotherapy & Harm (0) —

In stark contrast to the thousands of articles related to alcohol and cigarette usage by youth, my search of the scientific literature for references that would back up Sen. Lieu’s claims yielded a total of four articles. Interestingly, three of these articles were not research-oriented.  Hein and Matthews (2010) discussed the potential harms of reparative therapy for adolescents but cited no direct research on SOCE with adolescents to support their concerns.  They relied instead primarily on adult anecdotal accounts and did not distinguish between the provision of SOCE by licensed clinicians and unlicensed religious practitioners.  Jones(1996) described a case of self-harm by a young gay man in response to “profound” and “thematic” relationship difficulties. The author reported that psychodynamic therapy was beneficial in helping the patient deal with relational conflict without making any mention of internalized homophobia or stigmatization.

Hochberg (1977) discussed her treatment of a suicidal adolescent male who finally disclosed his homosexual experience as termination neared.  After this disclosure, Hochberg reported that, “Therapy subsequently exposed long-standing inhibitions in masculine assertiveness, longing for a love object that would increase his masculinity, (and allay his homosexual anxiety) and intense fear of physical harm” (p. 428).  This article, then, would in some respects appear to provide anecdotal support for SOCE, not surprisingly coming in an era before reports of harm gained favored status over reports of benefit within the psychological disciplines.

The only article my database search identified that could be considered quantitative research was Shidlo and Schroeder’s (2002) well-known study on reported harms from SOCE.  The Shidlo and Schroeder study suffered from many methodological limitations, including recruiting specifically for participants who had felt harmed by their SOCE, obtaining recollections of harm that occurred decades prior to the study, and not distinguishing between SOCE provided by licensed mental health professionals and unlicensed religious counselors. As the authors correctly acknowledged, the findings of this study can not be generalized beyond their specific sample of consumers.  This research can therefore tell us nothing about the prevalence of harm from SOCE provided by licensed therapists.

The best argument that can be therefore made against Reparative Therapy is “We have no evidence it works” to which one would instantly reply “Well let’s set up the studies then”.

249 Comments on “What’s the Research Supporting California’s Ban?

  1. I agree with you Peter, but isn’t it up those promoting it to set up the studies even if they are to be overseen by some independent body?

    • But far too often the response of many is “Why would you do these studies in the first place – we know it’s bad”. It’s a circular argument.
      The key issue is this – there is no evidence that Reparative Therapy causes harm beyond anecdote and the anecdotal corpus swings both ways (as it were).

      If the APA and others were really interested in getting to the bottom of this they would commission the studies necessary.

      • Psychological harm is so difficult to prove beyond the victim asserting how his life has been damaged or even ruined. I suppose if enough people subsequent to entering rerparative therapy could show that they became depressives or alcoholics it MIGHT indicate something. But how would you eliminate the candidates who would have gone down one of those routes anyway? It could be argued that fragile people are the only ones who go for therapy except in this case we are talking about children who may be coerced by their parents but have no say themselves. Isn’t this what the new law is trying safeguard?

        • Two points.

          First, there are now “industry standards” for assessing harm from psychological / therapeutic intervention (and these methods do try to correct for the issues you raise – alcoholism, drug dependency etc). These were used by Jones and Yarhouse in their “Ex-gay Study” and they found that there was no significant evidence of harm from the therapy, even from those who dropped out, reported no change or took up a “gay-affirming lifestyle”. We can measure harm from therapy and to date *no-one* has done so in a proper longitudinal study. The simple fact is that we no proper robust evidence that reparative therapy causes harm.
          Secondly, if the issue was coercion then the law should have been based around that, requiring teens to give informed consent on SOCE before engaging in them. But now, even if the teen consents, a registered therapist cannot offer the therapy that the teen wants, even though there is no evidence that it causes harm and the best study done on it shows that in a minority of cases it is successful.

          • The question is that below the age of adulthood can a child legally give consent in (American) law? I think however the law was drafted, and whatever other objections there were to the whole unproven enterprise, there was the fear was that children were simply unable to appreciate what they were being submitted to. Don’t forget that in this part of the world (SF) they were also questioning the parents’ right to circumcise their children routinely without medical necessity.

              • No, because plentiful evidence exists that therapy per se for youth can be helpful.

                Surely there are ethical issues in (for example) looking for individuals to go through reparative therapy in order to establish whether or not its harmful? In order to work, you would have to not inform the sample for the real reason for the study, which clearly has obvious ethical issues?

                Aside from which, if you accept the APA’s presuppositions on sexuality per se, then surely reparative therapy is intrinsically problematic? You might disagree with these presuppositions, but it would strange indeed for them to state that homosexuality per se is intrinsically benign but that ‘therapies’ to ‘cure’ it can work. Isn’t the burden of proof – given the weight of ‘anectodal’ evidence – to say that therapies are safe when proven to be so rather than the other way about? And risks of therapies can be tolerated to alleviate a serious disorder; plainly, this logic hardly applies if homosexuality per se is not a disorder (again, you might disagree with this, but it is the APA party line)

                Note that the DSM-IV (yes, I realise that a draft DSM-V is online, but I’d maintain it’s poor scholarship to cite a book that hasn’t actually been published yet) does have a code for sexuality/religious conflicts.

              • I think Ryan answers this pretty conclusively. The trouble with reparatists is that they won’t give up their claims for ideological rather than psychological reasons.

                • Nonsense. That may be true of some but others simply want a level playing-field for the appropriate research to clarify the question as to whether SOCE does indeed work OR cause harm.

                  • Why would such therapy be offered if homosexuality is not a disorder? Do you proposes to use such studies to show that homosexuality is not a disorder because ex-gay therapies aren’t harmful? Now that’s circular logic!

                    And again, if the ‘anectodal’ evidence points to harm, then you have to ask why therapists would risk therapies for something that is not a disorder. You can get people to try new antidepressants because the risk/benefits relationship is accepted, depression being a legitimate disorder. Although conservatives might wish it to be otherwise, that clearly isn’t true of homosexuality.

                    • The anecdotal evidence points as much to no harm (and benefit) as it does to harm. It cannot be used as a decision maker.

                      So we are left with research. There was no research provided when homosexuality was removed from the DSM in 1973 and to this day none has been provided. But let’s stop talking about “homosexuality” per se and simply concentrate on “unwanted same-sex attraction”. Is there any research that shows unwanted same-sex attraction causes distress – yes, in the same manner that a number of sexual attractions cause distress to individuals. Is there any research that therapeutic attempts to reduce same-sex attraction are successful, thereby fulfilling client-led goals in therapy? Absolutely – Jones and Yarhouse showed some very interesting results AND tackled the issue of harm at the same time.

                    • I imagine that many a straight man would say that they suffer from “unwanted other-sex attraction” and would heartily welcome therapy to unshackle them from the lunatic of sexual desire. That would not make such therapy kosher however. There are limits to ‘client led goals’. The ‘people want it, so therapists should provide it’ logic is what people use to justify spiritualism, reiki, Elim-style miraculous healings and other form of quackery. The APA, in contrast, is supposed to be scientific.

                      There is already a code, 302.9 Sexual Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, one form of which “3. Persistent and marked distress about sexual orientation”. The legitimacy of such distress – as condition warranting treatment – in no way serves as a justification for the merits of ex-gay therapy.

                    • But what if the best research said that some people with unwanted same-sex attraction who undertook therapy could reduce that attraction. Would you deny them the ability to do so?

                    • Reduce the attraction in what sense? Less erotic thoughts? Shifting on the Kinsey Scale? If the former, then problematic patterns of thought/sexual behaviours (e.g. “I try to be a evangelical Christian but I spend all day watching gay porn and feel ashamed and suicidal”and so on) can currently be treated. Seeking to ‘change’ the sexuality itself is not the answer.

                      You’d agree that, if the APA position is that sexuality is largely fixed/unchangeable, then there would have to be very significant evidence (looking at people reporting change a few years after therapy to establish that said changes have genuinely occured and so on) to warrant challenging that? I’m sure that many trans people would WISH that they could change their gender-discordant sense of self but, again, that would not make it necessarily legitimate to offer therapy that sought to change it. I think (and, more importantly the APA appears to accept) that sexuality is analogous.

                    • As to your first point, possibly all of those. Let’s do some research to find out!

                      As to the second, the APA’s position on mutability is NOT backed up by any research. Tell me the papers it cites to support this position? It doesn’t and it can’t.

                      And you are clouding the issue bringing in trans stuff (or as some do heteros “wanting to change to homo”). The question is whether those with a particular situation A are able to change to situation B. The inability of transport from B to A does not render void the ability to transport from A to B (as you will find it you ask any diode).

                    • Is it really ethical to offer treatment for something that isn’t a disorder? We’re not talking about “research” in an obviously benign, statistic-gathering sense.

                      Do most people experience change in sexuality? Of course not. As such, is the APA’s position a glaring failure to properly identify research context/problem etc, or rather a fairly sensible balance-of-probabilities generalisation?

                      I am not clouding the issue. The example of transgender experience is entirely relevant. It shows that, whatever else you might think about the APA, it is demonstrable untrue that they operate under “if people can or think they can change from A to B therapists ought to help them in this regard” terms that the failure to endorse ex-gay therapies represent some kind of jarring deviation from.

                    • “Is it really ethical to offer treatment for something that isn’t a disorder?”

                      I suppose you could argue that it is ethical in the same way that it’s ethical for plastic surgeons to offer people treatment for features that they don’t like about themselves, but which aren’t disorders. “There’s nothing wrong with the shape of your nose/ears/chin etc., but you don’t like it, so we’ll change it for you.” The only question then would be, “Is the procedure likely to be successful?”

                      I believe the answer in the case of SOCE to be either “No” or “Highly unlikely”, which is sufficient reason why such “treatment” should not therefore be offered. But that consideration apart, those who offer SOCE don’t adopt this approach. Oh yes, when they are interviewed in the media they often talk as though they do, but they nearly always go on to try to persuade listeners that homosexuality – or “same-sex attraction”, as they usually prefer to call it – really IS a disorder and that people SHOULD want to change it. That, in my view, is definitely not ethical.

                    • “The only question then would be, “Is the procedure likely to be successful?”… I believe the answer in the case of SOCE to be either “No” or “Highly unlikely”, which is sufficient reason why such “treatment” should not therefore be offered.”

                      This is really interesting. “I believe”. What evidence do you provide for your view beyond a hunch / naked prejudice?

                    • What evidence? Well, for starters that very Spitzer study that proponents of SOCE have been shaking in our faces for the last decade or so. Prescinding from all criticisms of its methodology and from Spitzer’s own retractation of his original conclusion, the fact remains that it took him around two years in a country the size of America, and with the co-operation of SOCE practitioners and ministries, to find 200 whose claims of change were prima facie convincing enough to merit further investigation, and 40% even of those fell through on closer scrutiny. Spitzer himself said at the time, “I think change is probably extremely rare, otherwise it would not have taken so long to find the participants.”

                    • If some generalisations are necessary to proceed, we could always ask a 100 – or 1000? – straight people whether their sexuality is fixed and unchangeable or fluid.
                      Are you really claiming that the notion that sexuality is changeable makes a more sensible assumption than the opposite view? On what basis? Can you find any study, anywhere that shows that MOST people can change sexuality via SOCE? If not, then would that not rather support the case that sexuality in most cases is indeed fixed and unchangeable? The are more ex ex-gays than there are ex-gays.

                    • I entirely agree. The dogma that sexuality is fluid seems to be the current wisdom – or should I say the current folly? Yes, some people’s sexuality may be fluid, but most men’s, at any rate, clearly is not. If a guy’s relationship breaks up, which unfortunately happens from time to time, he nearly always goes on to form (or try to form) a relationship of the same kind as previously, heterosexual or homosexual as the case may be. When the contrary happens, unless he was already known to be bi-sexual, those who know him well are surprised and wonder whether he has “turned” or whether he was “always really that way”. If sexuality in general were fluid, switches of this kind would be quite a humdrum occurrence and would occasion little or no surprise.

                    • Yes, I think there’s a degree of heterosexist solipsism behind advocacy for SOCE. The notion that straight men can turn gay after a few pints (or Quentin Crisp’s great dark man fantasy) might make for good erotica, but it’s hardly much of a common let along near-universal occurance. And yet we’re to believe that gay men can learn to love sex and primary romantic love with women if they just find the right therapist. This double standard indicates, for all the talk of studies and objectivity, that heterosexism it at work.

                      Aside from which fluidity more properly suggests someone with innate proclivities for (e.g.) a variety of points on the Kinsey scale. Someone self-identifying as Queer and having opposite sex sex is not much of a victory for the ex-gay therapy brigade.

                    • Yes. Where I live we have a gay pub at one end of the town and a gay nightclub at the other. Both, in addition to the gay clientèle, have quite a considerable straight clientèle, composed mostly of the brothers, sisters, cousins, friends etc. of the gay one. Some of the men identify as bi-sexual, as might be expected, but I have yet to see a straight-identified man pair up with another man, or a gay-identified man pair up with a woman, no matter how many pints they’ve consumed. Obviously, I can’t swear that those things never happen, but if they do they’re extremely rare occurrences.

                    • “What research evidence was provided in 1973 that homosexuality was not a disorder? Absolutely none.”

                      “There was no research provided when homosexuality was removed from the DSM in 1973 and to this day none has been provided.”

                      If it be maintained that homosexuality is a disorder, the burden is on those who maintain this to demonstrate it, not on others to demonstrate the contrary. But in any case, it is incorrect to say that no research evidence was provided. You’re forgetting about the research of Evelyn Hooker. It should also be born in mind that homosexuality was classified as a mental disorder in the first place, in the first edition of the DSM in 1952, not on the basis of any empirical evidence, but because it was politically correct at that time to take it for granted that it was a disorder (although I doubt that “politically correct” was an expression then in general use). As the Hungarian-American psychiatrist Thomas S. Szasz put it, the psychiatric establishment of that era did not discover that homosexuality was a disorder; they simply chose to define it as a disorder.

                    • Well said Guglielmo. In 1952 societal prejudice was such that providing evidence to prove homosexuality was a disorder would be a bit like asking KKK members to cite some peer-reviewed scientific articles that confirm their prejudice. When Christians point to centuries of homophobia to support suppose objective truths they ignore the point that, as Gore Vidal has pointed out, a sufficiently broad historical perspective shows that it is monotheistic sexual morality, not human nature, that is the abberation.

      • “Why would we do these studies when some evidence suggests that such therapies are harmful and homosexuality is not (according to the APA) a disorder warranting treatment?” is not circular logic. Given that homosexuality was declassified as a mental disorder in 1973 its disengenous indeed to expect there to be extensive clinical trials on ex-gay ‘therapy’.

        • What research evidence was provided in 1973 that homosexuality was not a disorder? Absolutely none.

          But take the argument further – no-one thinks that arachnophobia is a psychological disorder, but therapists are allowed to treat it.

          • What research evidence would you regard as sufficient to answer that question? Aren’t your own views on the topic theological? Bible verses aren’t exactly ‘admissable evidence’ for the APA. And surely contemporary therapists, if they disagree with the 1973 decision on homosexuality, are still bound by it – they can’t just pretend it doesn’t exist, or offer therapies diametrically opposed to APA frameworks and decisions.

            You’re wrong about arachnophobia. It’s diagnosed and treated under “300.29 Specific Phobia (formerly Simple Phobia)” Subtype : “Animal Type. This subtype should be specified if the fear is cued by animals or insects”.

              • I am one of them. My therapists did not try to convert me or repair me. She helped me to regain my low self esteem. Not that I am confident I do not want other guys to treat me like shit. I’m starting to like women more and more, which is a side effect of the therapy.

                +I am free from depression, anxiety, fear of getting caught, fear of getting an STD.
                I am the happiest person on earth. But I do not want to force other gays to change. I am venomously angry at gay activists for manipulating the media and misleading the public.

                • Straight people don’t get STDs? Sounds like they were quite the miracle worker. Or snake-oil salesman. Depression and anxiety are disorders that warrant the ‘risks’ of therapy. Sexual orientation is not.

                  • Well now I am straightish, and I don’t have a compulsive need to have sex as much as possible with strangers.

                    Some gays have sex amap for the sole purpose of getting HIV. Its called risk behavior, which is high among some gays.

                    • Some people are idiotic, does that mean you put all of us in the asylum? Reminds me of Chesterton: “the world is one vast lunatic asylum from which a few of the inmates escape into religious houses (monasteries)” Of course he was not saying the escapees were sane :-)

                    • Wrong, it’s called bug-chasing. A therapist who stops a client barebacking is not changing sexual orientation.

                    • This is a very important distinction Ryan, but at the same time distracts from the underlying issue as to whether men and women should be able to seek therapy for dealing with unwanted same-sex attraction.

                    • I’m responding to point. Shehan appears to be referring to therapists treating promiscuity and dangerous sexual behaviours as a justification for SOCE.

                    • Well, you’re claiming that people wanting to change from A to B means that such therapy should be offered or, at that very least research should be done on such therapies. I’ve pointed out repeatedly that the APA very much does not regard someone wanting to change from A to B as justification for such therapy, and that there are clear ethical issues in offering ‘treatment’ for what is not a disorder.

                    • Indeed. “If homosexuality is not a disorder then why do you treat it”? is the Elephant in the Room

                    • But it provides no research to say that people CANNOT move from A to B AND it makes therefore a moral judgement on the value of moving from A to B in the absence not just of evidence but the unwillingness to examine and commission any such evidence.

                    • Because the APA operates in the area of disorders and treatment. WHY would it research the efficacy of a ‘treatment’ for something that is not a disorder? And if there are ‘moral judgments’ being made – with the APA viewing homosexuality as benign, the conservative viewing homosexuality as wrong for biblical reasons – then the proposed studies will hardly verify or negate them.

                    • There’s the line about clinically significant impairment in occupation etc functioning. But let’s be honest. Mere ‘unwanted same sex attraction’ could be interpreted as indicating OCD style ego dystonic thoughts, low self-esteem etc etc. You don’t just have to argue for unwanted SSA being a disorder, but also that ‘treating’ the sexuality itself is the answer. To do that, you’d have to reverse the 1973 decision.

                    • To do that would create a disorder. This is where Ratzinger’s “intrinsic moral evil” is so wicked.

                    • Correct. But then the whole enterprise, as you admit yourself is dogged with the lack of verifiable data. Too many what ifs.

                    • Yes, the notion that straight men don’t want to have sex with strangers is a good one. Makes about as much sense as claiming that straight people don’t watch pornography.

                    • I agree Ryan. A great friend of mine who is straight honestly admits that it is because women won’t play by and large with some exceptions. Evolutionarily it was most costly for women to put it about.

                    • Yes, i recall Dan Savage making the point (and on this at least conservative poster boy Robert Gagnon is in full agreement!) that horniness is the male condition, not the gay male condition.
                      There’s an irony in HIV is, if one must generalise, fairly hard to catch, whereas a woman who has (say) five unprotected vaginal sexual encounters will likely have some significant negative consequences. And yet the homophobe still cites minority cases of AIDS and bowl cancer to demonise the gay act per se.

                • “I am free from…fear of getting caught”

                  Fear of getting caught doing what? Gay sex has long ceased to be a criminal offence in this country.

                  “Gay activists ironically, point blank deny the right of people to change.”

                  I certainly wouldn’t deny anyone’s right to change, and I’ve never heard any gay activist deny it either. But right and possibility are two different things. The right to do something isn’t of much use if you can’t actually do it.

                  • “Fear of getting caught doing what? ”

                    Given that Shehan appears to be beholden to stereotypes: accesorising? ;)

                  • I respect you if you dont do that. But most gays are very dogmatic and they behave as if they have the sole access to the truth. They cant understand that people come from different socio-cultural-familial backgrounds.

                    It is possible but quite hard. Hope you dont believe that all are born gay. There are some who are born gay. (They dont want to change.) Most are not. There is nothing wrong with them giving it a try.

            • Interesting thread. Plastic surgery is used for cosmetic enhancement and, in many cases, it is not employed to remedy an acknowledged medical disorder.

              What if we wanted a study commissioned to uncover the long term effects of, say, a new strain of botox? Are you saying that, without justification as a therapy for pathological illness, a treatment shouldn’t warrant extensive clinical trials?

              • cosmetic is exactly that; botox should be subject to extensive pre-release trials. Would you agree that a distinction should be made between cosmetic and medical treatments, where (to give one example) nasty side-effects of a new SSRI can be deemed acceptable as the ‘benefit’ (treating a disorder, clinical depression) outweighs the cost? That calculation hardly applies to a hypothetical ‘treatment’ for something that isn’t a disorder. Note also that some advocate ex-gay therapy as necessary for saving people from the supposed “horrors of the gay ifestyle” (hello Jill! ;-)). But of course there’s nothing stopping therapists treating people with a destructive thirst for fisting, CBT, etc etc, which is hardly the same thing as seeking to ‘treat’ an orientation per se. It is true that any psychologist worth their salt would laugh out loud at homophobic nonsense on those nasty, drug-taking gays. Your average NHS addiction ward or caseload of a CAT doesn’t exactly have the demographics of Saturday night in G.A.Y.

                • But it’s only the desired effect that’s cosmetic, not the treatment.

                  Botox A, a toxin, prevents wrinkles (cosmetic effect) by causing the paralysis of facial muscles. It’s therefore a medical treatment that can cause nasty side-effects for treating something that is not classed as a disorder. Also, it is dispensed on request, rather than for pathological reasons.

                  I can’t see why commissioning a peer-reviewed clinical study to test the benefits and side-effects of Reparative Therapy on a group of willing candidates would be deemed unnecessary, just because homosexual orientation is not classed as a disorder.

                    • Just considering the botox example for now, a clinical trial would look for a significant reduction in wrinkles between the eyes, not whether botox has reversed the complete facial aging process (which it doesn’t treat). BTW, the side-effects of botox range from drooping eyelids and double vision to uneven smile and loss of ability to close eyelids. So why haven’t the Government pulled it off the market and replaced it with self-acceptance therapy for this naturally occurring process?

                      To respond to your gauntlet, would a clinical trial also have to engineer increased facial rugosity in order to demonstrate that wrinkling is (a) not a disorder and (b) is a malleable characteristic? I don’t think so.

                      The important issue is that a change in sexual orientation is measured by a change in self-perception and resultant behaviour. According to the APA, sexual orientation is not just attraction, it also refers to a person’s sense of “personal and social identity based on those attractions, behaviors expressing them, and membership in a community of others who share them’. So, the question is whether the sexual orientation identity can change.

                      As Peter explained in his May 31st blog entry, the Spitzer conclusions were retracted because it didn’t prove that people can change, but that people self-report that they can change. In what other areas of psychological study do we treat personal responses with such a high bar of scepticism regarding a change in ‘personal and social identity…, behaviors expressing them, and membership in a community of others who share them’?

  2. Any kind of psychotherapy is harmful. There are harmful side effects but the positive side effects are more.

    Trying to forcefully convert someone in to be straight can be harmful. But the patient wishes to change, there is nothing wrong with that.

    Funny that people are allowed to take surgery/psychotherapy, with its obvious harmful side effects, to transform themselves in to a another gender.

    • There is plenty wrong if such change is not medically documented. I’m sure lots of people would love to be cured of Personality Disorder. That does not make any therapy that promises such a miracle cure a legitimate treatment.

      • Falling out of the wagon is apart of the treatment.

        If therapy doesn’t work, why do therapists practice them since the beginning of psychology?

        Cure vs therapy. Different.

            • Yes, it has evolved away from superstition into something more evidence-based, reflected in its non-advocacy for sexual orientation change and similar quackery.

              • There are lots of people who changed with therapy. Most of them do not want to tell their story. What evidence? Can you cite me some? Psychologists do not use any special “cure” to help people with unwanted SSAs.

      • There may be evidence that is not DOCUMENTED. Like me. Most of those people are very secretive about their experiences.

        • So, what, the supposed merits of SOCE should just be taken on trust? I know someone who knows someone who’s anyonymous who’s 100% hetero these days?

          You claimed that, through threapy, you no longer want men to treat you like shit. I’m happy for you. But pathologically low self-esteem is not a sexual orientation.

          • no, One can always go an ask a therapist about the progress about their clients. Im sure there are plenty.

            I agree. Thats why I always tell that my therapist never tried to cure me. of homosexuality The decision to change was something I took.

            • Wrong. Doctor/patient confidentiality. I’m sure you’re sure (as they say) but that tells us precisely nothing. You won’t even elaborate usefully on your own therapy, let alone provide details of all these supposed other ‘successfully’ treated patients!

            • The decision being? Again, if you were only ‘cured’ of wanting guys to treat you like shit then what, precisely, does that tell us about the merits or otherwise of SOCE?

    • “But the patient wishes to change, there is nothing wrong with that.”

      Certainly there is nothing wrong with someone wishing to change, but there may be something wrong with their REASON for wishing to change, e.g. that they are being subjected to improper pressure designed to MAKE them want to change, or they have been wrongly told that their sexual orientation is a disorder that NEEDS to be changed.

      But even if they are entirely self-directed, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the desired change is actually possible, and even if it is, it may still be highly improbable. Take Robert Spitzer’s famous study, for instance. Even if one ignores his eventual admission that it didn’t really demonstrate what he initially did thought it did, his original conclusion was a very modest one, that SOME people had successfully modified their sexual attractions, and he said at the time that he had to conclude that change of this kind was quite rare. There are people who have wasted years, even sometimes decades, of their lives on this wild-goose chase. O.K., they have the right to do that if they insist, but it isn’t ethical to encourage them to do it by misleading them about the likelihood of change.

      • I agree to some extent. Some people do not change. But you know what, none of them regret going for therapy. In fact the therapy turned them in to decent homosexuals.

        But in most cases people want to become “hetero” enough. Nobody wants to completely rid themselves of homosexuality. That is an unrealistic goal. But there are people who turned out to become very very hetero.

      • Can we change that reason? The reason could be religion, family, girlfriend, wife, dreams, wanting to have children, hygenity, sex without pain, or any other personal viewpoint. Who are we to decide what is important for a patient.

        Most ego-dystonic homosexuals just want to be heterosexual enough. Sometimes, some people completly rid themselves of SSAs.

        So why do you thin sexuality is so concrete, fixed and unchangeable? Your answer would help me to understand you.

        • Why do you assume that the fact that sexuality *can* change means that such change is the norm, or possibly the norm? Make a group of straight men disgusted by gay sex, add it to the group of cock-lovin’ gay men disgusted by the though of straight sex. Compare it a group of the sexuality fluid and/or self-declared bisexuals. You really think group b will be bigger than group a?

        • ”Sex without pain” ?! Therapists decide whether a treatment can be offered all the time. Someone wanting to be heterosexual for issues of ”hygiene” (!) would rightly find their ”reasoning’ challenged by a patient.

        • ShehanR: Actually, I think my answers to what you say are already contained in what I have written above. However, if that is too complicated to follow, I will endeavour to simplify it.

          If someone wishes to change their sexual orientation, then that is their affair. Whether or not I happen to agree with their reasons for wanting to change it is neither here nor there, and it is certainly not for me to decide what is important for a patient [sic]. But I do regard it as highly improper, nay immoral, to try to MAKE someone want to change their sexual orientation by putting pressure of any kind on them or by giving them misinformation.

          “Most ego-dystonic homosexuals just want to be heterosexual enough.” Fine. But heterosexual enough for what? You don’t say.

          Neither the goodness nor the importance of a person’s REASONS for wishing to change their sexual orientation, no matter what their personal viewpoint may be, can tell us whether or not they CAN in fact change it. That is a completely different question. I don’t know what you mean by asking why I think that sexuality is so “concrete”, so I cannot give any meaningful answer to that. As for its being fixed and unchangeable, it would no doubt be reckless to assert its fixedness and unchangeableness as an unbreakable law of nature. But the empirical evidence which we have to date indicates that change of sexual orientation, in males at any rate, is very definitely the exception, not the rule, and that deliberate attempts to engineer a change of this kind are very seldom successful, if ever. As the late Rev. Sylvia Pennington (a Pentecostal pastor who had at one time been involved in ex-gay ministry) put it, disappointment is the most realistic expectation.

      • Absolutely. That’s called “affirmative” therapy. Thats what gay activists are promoting by denying the right of people to “change”

        • Not necessarily, ShehanR. Gay people just don’t like the translation “This couple of unhappy Christians reached some degree of heterosexual functioning SO it is possible and desirable for EVERYONE; there is no excuse YOU MUST TOO” which is the Mantra we hear all the time from reparative lobby and their supporters in AM. To use one of the favourite rhetorical expressions of AM, it is perceived as a slippery slope.

          The therapist is surely using the four-fold medical model – diagnosis, aetiology, prognosis, prescription. It may not always be in the patient’s best recovery interests to press on with a treatment that the doctor/therapist in his professional capacity judges to have a completely unlikely beneficial outcome. Sometimes a patient has to be helped to come to terms with the reality of his situation. I know nowadays everyone thinks they can be made perfect-looking surgically but I think it may be actually more difficult psychologically. And aren’t Christians supposed to accept their lot, bear the thorn in the flesh that Paul talks about? Vaughan Roberts has a psychologically more wholesome AND a more Christian attitude than the reparatists at NARTH and their AM henchmen.

          • Well I dont give a rat’s arse about Christianity or god. But I respect and pity if someone decides to change because of their religious beliefs.

            I agree, there are some who inherently look down upon gays. Thats bullshit. I dont support them.

            Thats a generalization. That model of therapy is outdated. Now a days therapists use MBCT, CBT in helping patients and helps them to improve their self confidence.

            Homosexuality is natural but its not normal for everybody. We should stop weighing everybody on the same scale.

            Why do you think that people develop SSA?

            • You’ll recall that Gore Vidal made the point that seeking to ‘cure’ homosexuality was like straightening black hair or ‘fixing’ obvious Jewish features in order to pass better in prejudiced society. Capitulating to prejudice is not the answer, and viewing one’s sexuality as a disorder to be cured is capitulating (or internalising) to homophobic prejudice.

              • I dont want to cure homosexuality. Sexuality is a developed preference. Some do not want it. They can seek help.

                If you are gay and want to be gay, there is nothin wrong with that. But you should not force others to be gay, if they do not want to.

                I’m sure Vidal, wouldn’t be offended if someone wanted to “change” a bit.

                Im used to be called a homophobic. Not much different from being called a homo 5 years ago.

                • People not wanting to be gay was the rule rather than the exception in homophobic culture for decades (why have a preference that could lead you being locked up?). That does not make therapies that seek to ‘cure’ homosexuality valid, sensible or necessary.
                  You’ll recall that Vidal did use the term “homosexualist” for those with exclusively same sex tastes.

                  • This absolutely right…and it has shrunk down now more or less solely to religious communities with some texts that they have to square up to. But unfortunately secular society has still a long way to go on the acceptance front, due in large part to vestigial homophobia. But our religious friends, Widecombe and Carey must be helping society realise that homophobia is just barmy….

                    • Is the world full of Atheists For SOCE? As with creationism, pseudo-science is the cover for religious dogma. I find it striking that Peter regards it as irrelevant when I ask about straight people turning gay. In other words, gay sexuality is to be assumed to be a disorder that can be treated (unlike straight to gay) in the supposedly objective studies that are being called for!

                    • Exactly. Heterosexual privlege. Some people with a sexuality that was (relatively speaking) illegal until relatively recently wish (for religious reasons) to ‘change’. You really view it as ethical for the APA to give a ‘go ahead’ to such therapies? Isn’t that a bit inconsistent with (for example) not using transphobia as a reason to discourage indivduals from making peace with what they perceive to be their real gender identity?

                    • No. Heterosexual privelige is just one theory. Another is that heterosexuality is the biological norm and homosexuality is a deviation from that norm. It makes intrinsic sense to want to move back to that norm, not away from it.

                    • Most people view their real gender to be that which they’re born into. That’s the ‘norm’. It in no way follows that deviations from this norm are expressions of disorders warranting ‘treatment’.

                    • Because particular things that run afoul of Biblical morality can not, given that APA is (or at least wants to be) a scientific body, assumed to be “disorders until proven otherwise”.

                      When it comes to paraphilias, one criteria is that they
                      cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning

                      The conservative might respond with an ” a ha!” and claim homosexuality per se counts. But of course it would in no way logically follow that someone suffering such impairment, for example missing work due to being out all night cruising, or being socially rejected in a homophobic environment they’re not free to escape, needs their sexuality itself ‘cured’

                    • Sounds like OCD style ego-dystonic thoughts. No ethical therapists would assume that ‘curing’ a person’s sexuality was the answer. And you’d agree that there may be many cases when a therapists has to challenge a patient’s claim as to what and how is causing their distress? A patient talking about how “other people” make them angry will soon find their beliefs challenges.

                    • Who talked about “curing” a person’s sexuality. I’m talking about someone coming to a therapist with unwanted same-sex attraction and that therapist working with the client to see if there might be factors around that attraction that could be explored through therapy.

                      The problem here is that you start with the idea that same-sex attraction should never be changed. I start from the basis that in some individuals it can be changed and that therefore, in the right framework and with the correct expectations, such a possibility should be examined.

                    • No, I start with the APA’s position on sexuality per se and the commonsensical point (that I hope you’ll concede?) that being distressed over x does not necessarily mean that x is something that can and should be changed by the therapist.

                      There is already a DSM code that can encompass distress caused by religious/sexuality conflicts. We both know that advocating SOCE is not the same thing at all.

                    • In some cases? Perhaps. Do such a point where it can be universally recommended? No. (and, again, the burden of proof is on those making grandiose claims for gay people turning straight). And then we have the issue of recommending treatment for something that isn’t a disorder (which, like it or not, is how psychiatry and clinical psychology work – the patient does not show up saying they want rid of x and the therapists complies, “when I say jump ask ‘how high?’ on the way up’ style)

                    • As I’ve said, repeatedly, side-effects of treatment can be tolerated because they outweigh the negative effects of the disorder itself. That calculation hardly applies for treating things that aren’t disorders.

                    • I did, but you ducked mine. Surely you see the ethical concerns for researching treatments for things that are not disorders? Aside from which I was reading (having an interest in such topics) in some of the thoughts associated with OCD:

                      Unwanted Sexual Thoughts:Forbidden or perverse sexual thoughts or imagesForbidden or perverse sexual impulses about othersObsessions about homosexuality On top of which we have the aforementioned DSM code for sexuality/religion conflicts. You know and I know that SOCE is all about having homosexuality reclassified as a disorder (why else would you ‘treat’ it?), not all these supposed poor, poor individuals who suffer distressing SSA and are being let down by PC-bound therapists. Such thoughts can already be treated – just not in a way that identifies homosexuality per se as a disorder.

                    • Who is to define what is a disorde and what is not. These disorders are defined by the APA for academic purposes. A doctor would never tell a patient that you have that disorder or this dosorders. These calssifications of disorders and very unrealistic. We cannot frame a patient in to certain disorder. There are so many people who seeks psychological councelling without any “disorder”.

                    • No, they’re not. Aside from which we have the ICD instead of the DSM on this side of the bond. It is true that there is a move away from overt diagnosis to treatment of symptoms – but then, as many a mental health advocate wag pointed out, renaming schizophrenia ”fluffy lovely disorder” would not alter its most harrowing manifestations.
                      And we still come back to the same problem. Distress or anxiety or depression relating to sexuality does not mean that the sexuality itself is the problem, nor, if it did, would that make seeking to ‘cure’ the sexuality advisable/permissable. Psychologists are not ”you say jump, I’ll ask how high on the way up” life-choice enablers.

                    • What happens most of the time is that when people are sucessfully treated for anxiety and depression they want to develop their heterosexual potential. Now that they are confident and with self esteem, there is no need for them to be homosexual anymore.

                      Psychologists are moralists. They have to be neutrual. They have respect the socio-cultural-religious values of the patients.

                      To treat any kind of “disorder” including shizophernia– a combination of CBT + drugs are used.

                      Is the gay identity so fragile that it cannot bear the thought that some people may not wish to be gay? Sexuality is highly fluid, and reversals are theoretically possible. However, habit is refractory, once the sensory pathways have been blazed and deepened by repetition – a phenomenon obvious in the struggle with obesity, smoking, alcoholism or drug addiction…helping gays to learn how to function heterosexually, if they wish, is a perfectly worthy aim.

                    • i) Specious generalisation. ”’Most;” (!) gay people treated for anxiety and depression want to develop their heterosexual potential? Really? Got some evidence? Your lines about low self esteem suggest a spurious ‘aetiology’ for something which, again, is not a disorder.

                      ii) To a point. A patient from a subculture where hearing voices is considered normal, say, will not be prevented from citing hallucinations in a (provisional) diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizophreniform disorder.

                      iii) CBT is not the first port of call for schizophrenia in a way in may be for, say, anxiety or depression.

                      iv) Wrong. The fact that people want to change x does not mean that such change is possible nor that psychologists are obliged to comply. There is an intensive process before someone can qualify for gender realignment surgery ; the patient can’t just ask the doc for a medical note so that the patient gets what they want. Take also personality disorder: lots of people would love a cure for personality disorder. That wouldn’t alter the fact that a psychologists who advertised such a cure would (based on the best current research and thinking on personality disorders) be engaged in quackery.

                      v) Alcoholism, drug addiction and obesity are all medical disorders. Homosexuality is not. You are simply wrong in your view that medical science, rather than working from symptoms, treatments and outcomes, is instead obliged to offer spurious ‘cures’ for things such as sexuality.

                    • There are people but they dont parade their former-“homosexuality”.

                      What is that subculture? Its a straw man argument. Your arguments are full of fallacies.

                      CBT is used.

                      Are you a popular believer of the “born gay” myth. Well the Oxford university disagrees with you. Sexuality is most of the time not innate. There are innate facts that can help to develop SSA, but they are not decisive factors.

                      An ethical psychologist will not start therapy with an intention to “cure”. Im talking about ethical psychotherapy. Not about reprative therapists.

                      ok, so what causes homosexuality? That would explain your dogmatic views.

                    • Perhaps you could identify some of these fallacies instead of just making crap up, including wide-scale generalisations that you offer no evidence for. How handy that this sub-culture doesn’t parade their former homosexuality, so we can just take it on trust (!) that they exist in numbers sufficient to have obvious implications for sexuality orientation therapy per se, because you said so. As if.

                      Fallacies? Were did I say I believed in the gay gene? Straw man. You are the one claiming that doctors should offer medical treatment for something that isn’t a disorder (and I have to lol at the notion that ”Oxford university” – ! – disagrees with me, especially since I said nothing about a gay gene. Our illustrious universities host individuals who produce specific research that those interested in serious discussion – i.e.: not you – cite. They do not have ex cathedra party lines which you can cite to butress your ideology.)

                      So-called ethical psychotherapy for sexual orientation was indeed examined by the APA


                      “This framework is consistent with multicultural and

                      evidence-based practices in psychotherapy (EBPP) and

                      is built on three key findings:

                      • Our systematic review of the early research found

                      that enduring change to an individual’s sexual

                      orientation was unlikely.

                      • Our review of the scholarly literature on individuals

                      distressed by their sexual orientation indicated that

                      clients perceived a benefit when offered interventions

                      that emphasize acceptance, support, and recognition

                      of important values and concerns.

                      • Studies indicate that experiences of felt stigma—

                      such as self-stigma, shame, isolation and rejection

                      from relationships and valued communities, lack of

                      emotional support and accurate information, and

                      conflicts between multiple identities and between

                      values and attractions—played a role in creating

                      distress in individuals. Many religious individuals’

                      desired to live their lives in a manner consistent

                      with their values (telic congruence); however, telic

                      congruence based on stigma and shame is unlikely to

                      result in psychological well-being.”

                      And let me reiterate these points, because they’re crucial, and you keep ignoring them

                      iv) Wrong. The fact that people want to change x does not mean that such change is possible nor that psychologists are obliged to comply. There is an intensive process before someone can qualify for gender realignment surgery ; the patient can’t just ask the doc for a medical note so that the patient gets what they want. Take also personality disorder: lots of people would love a cure for personality disorder. That wouldn’t alter the fact that a psychologists who advertised such a cure would (based on the best current research and thinking on personality disorders) be engaged in quackery.

                      v) Alcoholism, drug addiction and obesity are all medical disorders. Homosexuality is not. You are simply wrong in your view that medical science, rather than working from symptoms, treatments and outcomes, is instead obliged to offer spurious ‘cures’ for things such as sexuality.

                    • Let me reiterate that it is you, not me, who is engaging in wide-scale generalisations with no evidence offered to support them. For example, you said:

                      “But most gays are very dogmatic and they behave as if they have the sole access to the truth.”

                      Most gays very dogmatic? Really? Your evidence for this is what exactly? Did ‘Oxford university’ (!) say so? NB I’m not actually gay myself, so you might want to dial down the attacks on what you presume to be a born-this-way selfish defensiveness.

                    • Here:


                      Maybe you can cite particular comments that you regard as fallacious?Anybody can simply state that an argument is wrong, but mere name calling gets us nowhere. As for your other factual errors – does the Larry Summers broo-ha-ha mean that one can state that Harvard University supports essentialist sexism? Of course not.

                      NB there is, as I’m sure an APA fan like youself will know, already a code in the DSM for sexuality etc conflicts that may lead to distress. If you’re not talking about sexual orientation change, then why spout nonsense like : “Now that they are confident and with self esteem, there is no need for them to be homosexual anymore.” ? (“gee, I’m feeling more confident now thanks to that psychotherapy. No more cock for me!” inane)

                    • ‘Are you a popular believer of the “born gay” myth. Well the Oxford university disagrees with you.’

                      Oxford University does no such thing. Oxford University has no collective view on the matter, nor has any other genuine university.

                    • Hear hear!
                      I am glad to see that the ban due to take place in the New Year in California has now been blocked by the Appeals Court so that the issue can be looked into further. Of course that is why the gay activists wanted it rushed through before a microscope can be put to the whole issue, and the general public begin to realise that it is perfectly possible for people to change.

                    • The fact they can change doesn’t mean that it’s the job of doctors to allow such change. Are you in favour of medical treatment for others things that aren’t disorders, or (let me guess) just homosexuality?

                    • A microscope? Jill, the problem is not that people don’t want to look at teh evidence, the problem is that the ‘best’ you (as type) can do is Satinover and Cameron. Although, I must confess, I do have to laugh at someone seeking to change their sexual orientation because of what you and Lisa Nollan presume to be the ”horrors of the gay lifestyle” ( ”Uh, I spend all day having male/male/female double anal, and ejaculating on the faces of women with my pals. Any chance you could make me straight?” )

                      There are more ex-ex gays than there are ex-gays. What does that tell us?

                    • APA is not against SOCE. APA is against therapies done with the priory assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder. Thats what ethical therapists do, which includes probably the majority of APA members.

                    • Providing a ‘treatment plan’ for an orientation is indicative of a priory assumption that the orientation is a disorder.

                    • you dont have a basic knowledge of ethics in the psychological and psychiatric community. You may go and ask a psychologist.

                    • I ‘may’ go and do all sorts of things. I quoted the APA. I could go get the DSM-IV off the shelf. Again, you’re the one making outlandish claims on what therapists can and can’t do. Burden of proof?

                    • Well If you live in USA you may quote from APA. But keep in mind that APA is a just a small organization. The government doesnt listen to APA. APA is the lauging stock here in my country. APA is limited to USA. It has no authority over the other geographies. And there are APA members who helps people to divert their sexual feelings to the disired stimuli. APA just barely needs 1/3 of the votes to pass a bill or whatever.

                      Here in my country, there is no issue with a person trying to do something about their sexuality. I dont know why the hell Im arguing with you.

                    • So what is your country so we, the readers, can look at its psychological bodies and decide who is,and is not, the laughing stock? Are Harvard and Yale (say) any less prestigious in the field of psychology than they are in other disciplines?

                      I’m not in the USA, as mentioned, we indeed have the ICD instead of the DSM but they have more similarities than differences. Do keep up.

                      I suspect you’re arguing because you’re required to believe that your positions are rational despite being apparently incapable of articulating them.

                    • Christmas Time, Mistletoe and Wine
                      Children singing Christian rhyme…
                      With logs on the fire and gifts on the tree
                      A time to rejoice in the good that we see


                    • Sorry! I know that haterz gonna hate, and my identification with St. Stephen can perhaps lead to excessive defensiveness (;-)) but point taken. I apologise unreservedly to anyone who may have misperceived any of my comments as offensive. Pax! :)

                    • Brilliant! I love the marriage of Cliff Richard’s sweetness with the threat of Al Capone’s capsice!

                    • You can ask a psychology student from yale or harward and get to know what they are taught about homosexuality.

                      I dont support any kind of categorization of mental “disorders”.

                    • Well, we are on a religious blog it seems. Given that you don’t give a rat’s arse about God or Christianity, the question arises can’t you find enough fellow travellers among secularists or atheists? Not criticising, just curious what you are doing here. Not all of us are practicing Christians who post here but we all have an interest one way or another in religious questions.

            • There was BBC documentary a couple of years back about a guy who was not religious trying to move his sexuality towards straight. It seemed all of the therapists he went to had a Christian agenda under the professional stance.

                • You don’t find it of interest that (broadly speaking) the only lobbyists with an interest in changing gays to straights have theological ‘reasons’ for doing so? May I ask (seriously, no offense meant, I’m interested) why you felt the need to seek orientation change therapy?

                • Interesting though. The Buddha did not say anything that could be construed as homophobic.The Buddhist Precepts simply eschew the misuse of sex. For monks that would be any sex and for laity it would mean sex with inappropriate people, children, close relatives, someone avowed to another. But there is no mention of sexuality as such in the earliest texts. sGam-po-pa the Tibetan commentator (1079-1183 AD) in his Jewel Ornament of Liberation did make some statements specifically against gay sex but that is very much later and not considered scripture by the Theravadin School as practised in Thailand and Sri Lanka. In my experience of a number of Sri Lankan friends who are gay, they admit that the Island has a culture of homophobia but we should not blame Buddhism for this but our own colonialist ancestors who exported contemporary British bigotry; although otherwise unsuccessful in their attempts to missionise the island for Christ they managed to bring a Christian view of sexuality. The same thing happened in India, but there are some glorious carvings of sex of all kinds on the temples at Khajuraho from back in the 10th century which shows an entirely different attitude to sexuality before the British came to impose their prudery. The Thais, on the other hand, have never been colonised, so are largely free of Western concepts of sex. Gay men and Lady Boys are much more accepted and have a easier time of it in Thailand than in Sri Lanka.

        • Gay-affirmative therapy does not force anyone to embrace a gay identity, whatever that may mean. It is simply therapy which rejects the unwarranted assumptions (1) that homosexuality is a disorder which needs “correcting” and (2) that any psychological or emotional problems which gays have are caused by their sexual orientation and would be solved by changing it; and which helps gays (if they need such help) towards a healthy acceptance of their natural sexuality. No-one has to go to a gay-affirmative therapist; it’s a completely free choice; so there’s no question of forcing anyone to embrace any “identity”.

          No-one is denying the right of people to “change”. Telling people that something isn’t possible isn’t denying their right to do it; it’s just saying that it isn’t possible. Anyone who disagrees is perfectly at liberty to go ahead and prove otherwise. If I say that conversion therapy is trash, I’m not denying anyone’s right to change, just as, for example, if I say that fortune-telling is trash, I’m not denying anyone’s right to know their future.

    • Really? How so. The gay identity being what exactly? I must have missed all the “Force Closet Cases to Have Risky Sex!” campaigns from teh gay lobby.

      • There are men in prisons having sex. They engage in homosexual activity. But they are not gay. There are MSM’s who are not gay. There are animals which engage in homosexual activity. But they are not gay. There were many people in the history who engage in homosexual activity. But they were not gay.

        The term homosexual is fairly new. The term gay is even more new. Both of them are pure unrealistic social constructs.

        Gore Vidal always rejected the terms of “homosexual” and “heterosexual” as inherently false.

        • I think enforced prison sex is a great evil. But it is enforced and practised by heterosexuals in the vast majority of cases.

          • It is not always rape. Homosexuality can occur in any situation where males/females are institutionalized. Military, boys hostels, girls hostels, church to name a few.

            You comment proves the uselessness of such labels. There are no such people as heterosexuals or homosexuals. People can change over the time, over the context.

            • situational homosexuality does not make someone primarily SSA. As Tony Sopranos said, you get a pass for that ;)

              • sexuality is always situational. It involves another human being. There is no such thing as situational or permanent SSA. Sexuality can be very fluid.

                There are no such people called homo/heterosexual but people who engages in homosexual activities. If someone decides to be out and proud, they are called gay.

                Sexual orientation is commonly discussed as if it were solely a
                characteristic of an individual, like biological sex, gender identity,
                or age. This perspective is incomplete because sexual orientation is
                defined in terms of relationships with others. People express their
                sexual orientation through behaviors with others, including such simple
                actions as holding hands or kissing. – APA

                • And no, sexuality does not always involve another human being. A teenage virgin masturbating furiously to straight (and only straight) porn can be called heterosexual; so, too, with his gay porn-consuming coevals.

                  And it makes very little logical sense to claim that sexuality is always situational whereas SSA is never situational (!). Which is it?

                  • Sexual orientation refers to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes. Sexual orientation also refers to a person’s sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions. Research over several decades has demonstrated that sexual orientation ranges along a continuum, from exclusive attraction to the other sex to exclusive attraction to the same sex. However, sexual orientation is usually discussed in terms of three categories: heterosexual (having emotional, romantic, or sexual attractions to members of the other sex), gay/lesbian (having emotional, romantic, or sexual attractions to members of one’s own sex), and bisexual (having emotional, romantic, or sexual attractions to both men and women). This range of behaviors and attractions has been described in various cultures and nations throughout the world. Many cultures use identity labels to describe people who express these attractions. In the United States the most frequent labels are lesbians (women attracted to women), gay men (men attracted to men), and bisexual people (men or women attracted to both sexes). However, some people may use different labels or none at all.
                    Sexual orientation is distinct from other components of sex and gender, including biological sex (the anatomical, physiological, and genetic characteristics associated with being male or female), gender identity (the psychological sense of being male or female),* and social gender role (the cultural norms that define feminine and masculine behavior).
                    Sexual orientation is commonly discussed as if it were solely a characteristic of an individual, like biological sex, gender identity, or age. This perspective is incomplete because sexual orientation is defined in terms of relationships with others.

                    ________People express their sexual orientation through behaviors with others,______ including such simple actions as holding hands or kissing. Thus, sexual orientation is closely tied to the intimate personal relationships that meet deeply felt needs for love, attachment, and intimacy. Source : APA

                    • Uh, sexual orientation being expressed through behaviours with others in no way means that said expression is necessary before said orientation can be said to exist, Mr Logic Fan.

                    • Sorry, will try and do so. I’m painfully monolingual!

                      Would you agree that sexual orientation being expressed *through* behaviours (i.e. going on dates, kissing, anal sex etc) isn’t the same thing as saying that those behaviours are somehow necessary proofs of an orientation? Take a gay guy going on his first same sex date – is he not gay the night before this date?

                    • everything changes. You are not the same as you were yesterday. Our body is in a continuos change. Your hat is always changing. moon is always changing. every physical object changes. so does our mental behaviours. It is a myth to believe that sexuality something fixed. So why do you think some people get SSA?

                      I have no concern about gays. But I dont want to deny the right of ego-dystonic homosexuals to seek therapy (which might change them (most of the times)or might not) just to please the gay community.

                    • Everything changes? Surely you’re aware of the psychological consensus in areas such as personality, as expressed in personality disorders?

                      Why do I think some people get SSA? Does it matter? Again, burden of proof. ”My hat changes so people not only can change their sexual orientation, therapists are obliged to help them” is no kind of serious argument.. I fully support the right of people to be treated under e.g. DSM code

                      302.9 Sexual Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
                      which can include
                      “3. Persistent and marked distress about sexual orientation”

                      The issue is not the existence of people with ego-dystonic homosexuality. The issue is plausible/ethical modes of treatment.

        • Yes, Gore VIdal (RIP) is one of my heroes. I think, however, it should be obvious that his all-marines-and-most-boys-at-private-schools (c.f. Palimpsest or Vidal’s comments on Fitzgerald) are up for homosexuality claims are a bit ego-inflated and, in many cases, formulated in the interests of tactical seduction.

          • ego-inflated. Thats what you would say about Camille Paglia as well as other dissent gay academics. Unfortunately I cannot find anyother worthy gay rolemodel to quote from.

  3. “If a gay man wants to marry and sire children, why should he be harassed
    by gay activists accusing him of ‘self-hatred’? He is more mature than they
    are, for he knows that woman’s power cannot be ignored. If counseling can
    allow a gay man to respond sexually to women, it should be encouraged and
    applauded, not strafed by gay artillery fire of reverse moralism.

    “Homosexuality is not ‘normal.’ On the contrary, it is a challenge
    to the norm; therein rests its eternally revolutionary character Queer
    theorists – that wizened crew of flimflamming free-loaders – have tried
    to take the post structuralist tack of claiming that there is no norm, since
    everything is relative and contingent. This is the kind of silly bind that
    word-obsessed people get into when they are deaf, dumb, and blind to the
    outside world. Nature exists, whether academics like it or not. And in nature,
    procreation is the single, relentless rule. That is the norm. Our sexual
    bodies were designed for reproduction. Penis fits vagina; no fancy linguistic
    game-playing can change that biologic fact.”

    “…ACT-UP’s hysteria made me reconsider those vilified therapists
    and ministers who think change of homosexual orientation is possible and
    whose meetings are constantly disrupted by gay agitators. Is gay identity
    so fragile that it cannot bear the thought that some people may not wish
    to be gay. Sexuality is highly fluid, and reversals are theoretically possible.
    However, habit is refractory…a phenomenon obvious in the struggle with
    obesity, smoking, alcoholism, or drug addiction… Helping gays learn how
    to function heterosexually, if they so wish, is a perfectly worthy aim.
    We should be honest enough to consider whether homosexuality may not indeed
    be a pausing at the prepubescent stage when children anxiously band together
    by gender.”

    Quotes by Homosexual Activist – Camille Paglia

    • Let’s not get into one of those tedious etymological arguments about the meaning of normal. Left-handedness in that sense is not normal.

    • Camille Paglia is a homosexual activist? I don’t think so. She’s a professional contrarian. And, of course, a lesbian, so I dare say her tongue was firmly in her (or someone else’s? ;)) cheek when she wrote the One True Penis and Vagina lines.

      Most sex is recreational not procreational. This is as true of straights as gays. Were our eyes ‘designed’ to wear glasses? Were our backs ‘designed’ to sit at desks all day? Were woman’s mouths “designed” to perform fellatio in a way male mouths are not? Absurd.

    • I think “Professional Winder-Upper” would be a better description of Paglia. Cf. her recent claim that Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is the greatest work of art, in any medium, in recent history (even a Star Wars geek like me wouldn’t go that far ;-))
      ‘Penis fits vagina’? Penis also fits male anus and female anus, and male and female mouths equally. Now we know that, what do we know?

      • no penis doesnt (though nothing wrong in doing so, but very silly to say that its normal) fit the vagina. that is a fact. anus muscles are made to excrete. These are basic facts. You may ask a 5 year old.

        • muscles tend to strengthen, not weaken, through use. You may ask a MD, or perhaps merely a PhD


          And what about all the straight people, including some of the conservative evangelical Christians on this blog, who are (albeit perhaps just theoretically) down with up the bum action?

          NB if you’re getting your “knowledge” from a five year old that does, perhaps, explain a lot ;)

          • yes, even straight people having anal sex is unnatural. But there is nothing wrong with it. But its still unnatural.

            • It’s been around longer than spectacles or false teeth or heart bypasses. What do you mean by unnatural? It is unnatural to put your elbow in your ear – because you can’t unless you dislocate your shoulder first. Is it unnatural to to put the penis anywhere but in the vagina? Is it unnatural NEVER to put your penis in a vagina – is the Pope unnatural? Is anything that humans, or other animals for that matter, do that they CAN do ever unnatural? It seems you wish to imply something pejorative, like yucky or tacky, but dress it up in a word with a long philosophical history – para physin, contra naturam, etc.

              • Well said Tom. I suspect Shehan will be the latest in a long line of gay-sex-bashers on this blog incapable of mounting an argument, taking our focus outwith the anal sphere (er, so to speak), on why and how heterosexual blowjobs, handjobs and kissing are ‘natural’ but the gay variety are not. I imagine women don’t appreciate the implications that vaginal sex is the only natural kind and ought to be jumped into, two feet first (er, as it were), without the opening oral et all starter courses ;-)

              • As far as I understand it, within the argument from nature anything which helps the body to function in its natural way is natural. So aspirin is natural because it helps the body to heal; contraceptive pills are unnatural because they make the body function in a way that goes against its nature. Foreplay leading to reproductive sex is natural, according to this argument. I’m not sure whether anal sex counts as foreplay …

                • FS, I see a bit of special pleading over contraceptive pills – supposing a pregnancy would be seriously harmful to the woman’s health? Aspirin is not natural to cats – it kills them! – but in minute traces it can be given to thin the blood where a heart murmur has been detected. My cat was on a child’s aspirin each week for years but I had to be very careful not to forget I’d given it to him. I think your intimated selection of which foreplay is acceptable is precisely that, a selection. All medical intervention is unnatural in the sense that humans are altering the consequences of natural states, if Dame Nature were left to her own devices.

                  • Pope Pius XII was reputed to have received injections of monkey glands to rejuvenate him in old age. Was that natural or unnatural? Pretty disgusting, however you look at it; how many monkey’s deaths are worth a pope’s life?

                    • Gore Vidal recounted the story, passed on by a Jesuit friend, of said Pope turning ”emerald green” whilst lying in state before finally exploding! All is vanity… ;)

                  • Philosophy not my area of expertise, but I think the argument is more complicated than leaving nature to its own devices – after all, if we left nature to its own devices we would never clean the house or use fridges – things naturally rot. I believe the Catholic Church does allow for contraception in cases of illness of the mother – but then that’s medical intervention to stop ill health, rather than to stop a healthy pregnancy. The point is to help, rather than to hinder, the natural functioning of the body – so contraceptive pills ok for the sick woman (or perhaps the teenager having very heavy periods), but adult doses of aspirin are bad for cats or adult humans.

                    The argument about foreplay might go something like this: if it increases lubrication of the vagina or induces erection then its leading to ‘natural’ sex. Therefore I’m not sure anal sex would could in that argument as I don’t imagine sticking it in the ‘wrong’ hole leads in any immediate way to sticking it in the ‘right’ hole (but then, not an expert on these things). What Shehan seems to mean by ‘natural’ is what the body has been designed to do with most ease. So foreplay tends to lead to the vagina becoming lubricated in the expectation of sex, but not the anus. Therefore it may not be wrong to then stick it in the anus, but the more natural thing to do would be to stick it in the vagina because the vagina has prepared itself for sex in a way that the anus hasn’t.

                    • Until I read this article in the Telegraph I’d have contradicted what you say about the Catholic Church and condoms:


                      Up to now the rule has been that every act of sexual intercourse has to take place within marriage, can only involve vaginal sex, which must not be impeded mechanically or chemically, and must be completed to male orgasm within the vagina. (The woman’s orgasm was considered immaterial). Thus coitus interruptus where the man withdrew to ejaculate outside the vagina is a mortal sin.

                    • In fairness to Fiddle Sticks (not the fairest of individuals herself of course, but it’s Christmas! ish) I would agree that the stereotypical ‘sex running order’ is, in some instances,conducive to increasing vaginal lubrication. The woman is turned on by kissing, things progress to some light fingering, mutual oral, then the main event (as it were). But of course that cycle is only ‘natural’ for some women. I know quite as many who regard performing blowjobs as more a grim duty they tolerate for their partner (not necessarily a bad thing – Dan Savage has little time for guys/girls who don’t go down on their partner!) , and there’s also the wags who would joke that a shoe catalogue, say, is to hoe-moistening what porn is to male arousal. And then we have the women who do not regard penetration as the main event (understandable, given the most obvious routes to clitoral stimulation), but rather cunnilingus. And of course it’s worth noting that lubricants are not ‘just’ sold for anal sex – is their use in the vaginal sphere ‘natural’ or ‘unnatural’?

                    • You are right Ryan, and some women may even get as turned on as gay guys by the thought of a cock in the mouth…..I just thought the exclusion of anal sex as an aid to lubrication depends on the subject; some women are turned off but some may get quite juiced up by pegging the man first before unclipping the dildo and rolling over.

                      Meantime, FS, on the Daily Telegraph article, I think I might have been misleading if I thought it was reporting any real change in the Vatican’s objections to contraception. Scrolling down to the comments one commentator says it quite plainly – worth repeating here:

                      “Others have said as much, but it does not harm to say it again: this article is miserably inaccurate and highly misleading – perhaps even intentionally so. How am I otherwise supposed to explain the following sentence: “He [the pope] said it was acceptable to use a prophylactic when the sole intention was to “reduce the risk of infection” from Aids.”?

                      Well, he didn’t say that, did he – as becomes clear from the very words cited later in the article. It becomes clear that “permission” is given in certain determined cases only. The one the pope mentions is prostitution. Now, the Catholic Church considers prostitution as a grave sin. The Church does not “permit” prostitution. Hence, it does not “permit” the use of condoms either, since the only context in which they can be used is prostitution, which is forbidden from a moral point of view. (We might imagine some far-fetched cases of rape too, or more obviously in any homosexual act, where the same conclusion could be drawn from similar principles.)…..”

                    • I guess that’s why there’s an argument over whether anal sex is foreplay or not.

                      Yes, I thought the article was quite misleading too. I thought the Pope’s main point was that the RC Church still intends to fight HIV by teaching chastity. The context he was talking about was prostitution, and he was speaking hypothetically.

                      Protestant charities argue over whether to supply condoms to prostitutes. Many Protestant charities working with prostitutes do this as it’s the most practical way to help the workers protect themselves from STDs in the short term, while the long term aim is to help them get out of the drug/prostitution cycle. I think Protestant charities can often be more pragmatic than RC.

                      I’m surprised the Church bans contraception for married couples where one is infected with HIV, but then I feel very sorry for a couple having to make the choice between having children (who will also be infected) and saving the other partner from the disease.

                    • Hmm, don’t they get rubbed-in? Hardly ideal. I’m reminded of a (best pop-Christianity author and devotee of heterosexual back door action) Frank Skinner line about the perils of hotel moisturiser or even the tried-and-trusted vaseline! Worth noting in this context also that this blog has seen conservatives cite the supposedly laborious and artifical preparations required for anal sex as indicative of its ‘unnatural’ nature – but surely a gay man could say that guys in clubs, parks (and seminaries? ;)) are 24/7 rock hard ready for to-the-point (er, so to speak) action, and, in contrast, stereotypical heterosexual foreplay makes straight sex look like the laborious kind? I recall an Aiden Shaw interview in Atttitude where he spoke of his (albeit somewhat stereotypical) disgust at the slimy circuitous ”put a finger in, get her wet” vistas of heterosexual sex.

                    • It doesn’t. (Well, it might for some people – according to Ryan). Unless it’s used to stimulate erection before vaginal penetration. If the man ejaculates it’s difficult to see how it helps in the process at all. It’s hardly natural to swallow a lot of seminal fluid. I had a friend who claimed she once took a girl to A&E to have her stomach pumped after she gave every guy in her class a blow job (but then, this is a friend who tends to make quite a lot of stuff up …)

                    • POPE: “There may be justified individual cases, for example when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be … a first bit of responsibility, to redevelop the understanding that not everything is permitted and that one may not do everything one wishes.

                      “But it is not the proper way to deal with the horror of HIV infection.”

                      I’m not entirely convinced that this represents an ‘historic shift’. An historic shift towards what? Would this really shock traditionalists? It seems that you would have to be following a pretty legalistic form of Christianity to imagine that having anal sex without a condom, and infecting someone with HIV as a result, was more moral than having anal sex with a condom. The condom is hardly being used as a contraceptive.

                      However, I’m not a RC, so perhaps I don’t always follow the nuances of these things. It is possible that I misinterpreted this section of Humanae Vitae (1968):

                      “Lawful Therapeutic Means

                      15. On the other hand, the Church does not consider at all illicit the use of those therapeutic means necessary to cure bodily diseases, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result there from—provided such impediment is not directly intended for any motive whatsoever.”

                      The Protestant church has seen condoms as part of the solution to HIV for a long time now, but only secondarily to chastity – perhaps the RC Church is moving towards this position? Some claim that opposition and lack of international funding for the Protestant AIDS prevention schemes is largely motivated by racism (a view that African men are incapable of controlling their sexual urges).

                    • Not having read most of the posts on this thread, and not wishing to get involved in conversations about blow jobs, etc, I may have missed something here, but it is evident that you, Tom, totally misunderstand the Catholic Church’s teaching about birth control, or at least the Pope’s condom comments. While it may be true that, without slipups, condom use may help prevent AIDS in individual cases, it is the ‘condom culture’ which is responsible for the spread of it if you look at the big picture. Do read the work of Edward C Green. Sorry, but the Pope is right and you are wrong.


                    • Come now Jill, joining in the blow-job talk might do you good. It would help you see that the things you rail against as parts of the ”gay lifestyle” are rather more universal than you think. Pornography, say, is not a multi billion dollar industry because of teh gays. What’s the alternative to the ‘condom culture’ – abstinence, which works on the ludicrous and (given that the desires of man’s heart is evil from its youth) unbliblical notion that people won’t have sex if you scare them sufficiently?

                      Cherry picking Africa is not looking at the ‘big picture’. Current deaths from AIDS in the US, say, compare favourably to the ”we die, you do nothing” days before widespread Government safer-sex campaigns.

                    • Thanks for the link, Jill. I think there is another side to this story. While Protestants can be a bit more pragmatic about these things (eg. see my comments on working with prostitutes below), they too simply don’t buy into Ryan’s argument that abstinence is impossible. Lots of people manage it. Personally, I was never scared into it, but reasoned into it from a ‘why would you want to have sex with someone who doesn’t love you anyway?’ argument. Perhaps this suits my personality, but I find the idea of having sex with someone I don’t fully trust (ie. someone who’s not my husband) a horrible idea.

                      What really confuses me about all this, though, is why, having broken the Church’s rules on chastity you would then follow the Church’s teaching on contraception. This thinking just doesn’t make any sense to me. Why would you think it was more moral to contract HIV or conceive a child outside marriage than to use contraception in an extra-marital relationship?

                    • Impossible for whom? I’m abstinent (sometimes even by choice!). We’re discussing public policy which has in a sense to work from (factually-sourced) generalisations. What percentage of teenagers, say, do you think can be scared into never having sex? 1%? 10% 50%?

                    • Oh, I see what you mean. Well, then the question has to be will teaching contraception discourage abstinence by giving people a false sense of security – ‘risk compensation’ behaviour, the article calls it. That could put the Church in a difficult position by undermining its own teaching. Like I said, Protestants can be more pragmatic on this one – in Africa they teach ABc – the little ‘c’ standing for ‘condom’ for those who fail at ‘Abstinence’ and ‘Be faithful’. They must do something similar in Catholic schools in Britain where it’s against the law not to include contraceptive instruction as part of sex education.

                      The point in Jill’s article, though, was that condoms aren’t working in Africa because culturally you don’t use contraception with a long-term partner (presumably because the assumption is that you want to get pregnant with a long-term partner). So what works better is to persuade people to practice monogamy. The churches (Catholic and Protestant) are doing this. The international aid organisations are ignoring the evidence that condoms alone aren’t working. why?

                    • Well thanks for putting me right! Which part of the Catholic Church’s teaching about birth control have I misrepresented or failed to understand? I have said to Fiddlesticks that I think the Telegraph article is misleading – did you read that bit of the post? – and that the only form of family planning allowed is the so-called Rhythm Method. I have stated that (according to Humanae Vitae) nothing must get between the act of sexual intercourse and its reproductive purpose, which means no mechanical or chemical intervention in the form of condoms, pills to suppress ovulation, the morning-after pill (which would stop a fertilsed egg imbedding in the wall of the womb), or indeed withdrawal before ejaculation (coitus interruptus). If that is wrong then what do you allege is the proper Catholic teaching?

                    • As far as I know (again, might be wrong), the not very effective Rhythm Method is now out-dated. Catholic Church now promotes natural family planning based on reading the signs of the woman’s body to detect when it is fertile. According to the NHS this can be up to 99% effective (http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Natural-family-planning/Pages/Introduction.aspx). Couples sometimes choose this method to avoid the side-effects of the pill. Apart from that, I’d say that was a pretty good summary of Catholic teaching, as far as I understand it.

                    • Well isn’t that what the Rhythm Method is supposed to do?


                      It is all very well for Western women with thermometers and time on their hands and patient husbands but honestly can you really see it working well in the cultures where a man usually gets what he wants? It used to be said by priests in the parishes themselves that the celibate bishops in their ivory palaces hadn’t a clue about the poor in our own cities of Gt Britain and Ireland; what woman was going to be able to resist her husband when he came home bevvied up on a Friday night.

                    • I thought the Rhythm Method was based around the calendar? But never mind, I personally don’t believe artificial contraception is a sin, I’m just not convinced the RC position is as stupid as people make out.

                      Surely the type of husband you describe would also be averse to putting on a condom? At some point, the couple have got to start communicating and caring for one another. Poor people are just as capable of that as the middle classes.

                    • It is calendrical insofar as a woman’s menses is monthly but it is not liturgical or linked to the Roman Martyrology :-) The rhythms in question are the woman’s biorhythms – so it is supposed to be natural. All it really means is calculating when a woman is least likely to be fertile in her cycle and limiting sexual intercourse to those periods. It’s not thought of as cheating nature* (or God) but imposing a discipline or limitation on marital enjoyment. Christianity, unlike Judaism isn’t really a sex-positive religion -at least that’s what my rabbi friends tell me. But then they can talk – they must avoid all contact with a woman in her period, even their own wives. That’s why a religious Jew won’t sit next to a woman on a bus – not because she’s a woman or a stranger but because she might be having a period. Menstrual blood is polluting, they think. It is not limited to Judaism I came across this in Northern Thailand too. In a temple outside Chang Rai on the banks of the wonderful Mekhong river women were forbidden to go upstairs over the shrine with the simple notice “LADY DON’T” – for the same reasons that if they were menstruating it would pollute the shrine. But I have even come across it in Christianity. A woman I knew had converted from RC to Greek Orthodoxy but she was attending High Mass with some friends at Westminster Cathedral. At the Communion she started to weep. She said she was having her period and unlike the Catholic women in the group she was forbidden to approach Holy Communion when she was having her period and she found it very upsetting.

                      *But don’t you find an awful lot of religion is about not walking on the cracks in the pavement, like Christopher Robin? Just consider the Jewish eruv….


                    • Indeed Tom, and this is something that those who adopt the Christ-analogy-bingo approach to explain away OT passages fail to grasp. We know that Christians are not required to observe kosher or (if male) to refuse to shake hands with women, lest they have the painters in. But the questions remain: are such aws (as with the death penalty for homosexuality) moral? Moral, but only within a specific context? Not moral at all ergo indicating the need for liberal reading strategies? and so on

                    • The problem is that not every woman’s periods are as regular as a calendar month, so they’ve switched to the method of reading the woman’s body. Also helps if you’re trying to get pregnant as you’re more aware of signs of fertility.

                      Yes, I certainly do think religion can very quickly becoming not stepping on the cracks in the pavement, if you’re not careful – hence Jesus’ rebuke to the Pharisees for ‘straining out a gnat’. However, when Sheehan was talking about what sex was most ‘natural’, he seemed to mean something quite practical. Don’t want to put words into his mouth, but he seemed to be saying that, for him, it had become quite important to develop his heterosexual side in order to have sex in the way that was most natural for the body – by which he seemed to mean what the body had been designed to do most easily by nature. He also said that he didn’t think there was anything morally wrong in having ‘unnatural sex’ (whether heterosexual or homosexual), but he seemed to associate it with greater risk and pain, which he personally wanted to avoid. Do you think there’s anything in what he’s saying, or is he being offensive?

                    • Sheehan isn’t merely talking about his personal preferences, he’s elaborating on the supposed unnaturalness of gay sex per se and is hardly supplying evidence sufficient to establish his thesis. Does subsequent neck pain make cunnilngus unnatural? Does stubble rash mean it’s more natural for girls to only kiss other girls? These are some of the absurdities that follow from Sheehan’s ”logic”. If we take the line that some aspect of sex is pleasing one’s partner – which is, assuming we’re talking about marriage of course, Christian – then does that not also perhaps entail a degree of putting up with pain, or at least discomfort? I’d imagine that losing-one’s-virginity-on-the-wedding-night-as-God-intended isn’t exactly (physiologically speaking) a bed of roses!

                    • A second response to you, Jill. Now I’ve read your link I really don’t really see how this supports the position Catholic Church when it set its face against condoms at all costs. I can see there is an argument that no sex is the best protection, followed by faithfully monogamy (or even polygamy)…but there the question is trust. The wife has to trust her man not to ‘graze” or play around and apparently in the culture of Africa that seems to get a pass, even among Catholic clergy. I have been told as much by the Mill Hill Fathers with whom I used to work, and who themselves are devoted to the African mission. Condoms are a (maybe poor) third option if the wife can insist on their use and if she can’t trust her husband, but as Green argues there are cultural issues at stake that makes Africa more difficult than Thailand. That still doesn’t make the Catholic Church’s absolute ban right or humane, and nor does it justify the downright lies told by Cardinal Trujillo.

                    • Well, I’m not going to defend every legalistic (or medically inaccurate) little piece of Catholic teaching. I would certainly be of the hand condoms out to prostitutes party of thinking. However, perhaps you could explain what you mean by ban? The Catholic Church can’t actually stop people getting hold of condoms, can it? Does it even try? Genuine question.

                    • It says their use is a mortal sin. Simple folk believe what the clergy say. The Cardinal Trujillo adds his pseudo-science. The power of the Catholic Church tops governments supporting AIDs programmes that promote the use of condoms. Condoms cost money and unless free condoms get support how can poor people get hold of them?

                    • I can see how a version of the theology without any real understanding could lead to disastrous results.

                      On the other hand, I’ve had friends working in Africa teaching people how to put on a condom who’ve given up. They’ve come to the same conclusion as the article – that the problem is a culture of multiple partners and that condoms are like a sticky plaster on a great wound. And, if you believe the ‘risk compensation’ theory, they might even promote infidelity and worsen the problem.

                    • But that doesn’t mean condoms are wrong or prove the Catholic Church is right in its condemnation of their use as a mortal sin, as Jill’s mistaken logic leads her to say; (though if she really thought the Pope was right, as she so often vaunts on this thread, she fails to show the courage of that conviction; instead she finds excuses to stay in her comfortable neck of the Anglican cafeteria even though she thinks all the bishops are twerps and half the clergy are schismatic and heretical or just women who can’t do the magic).

                    • Indeed. The curious thing also is that one seldom finds Jill invoking serious and respectable theological arguments on homosexuality, preferring instead secular pseudo-scientific anti-gay arguments. Orthodox Christianity deserves respect, a toxic mixture of dodgy statistics (Cameron et all), overt absurdities (male male female double anal and bukkake being ”horrors of the gay lifestyle”) and absurd dehumanising generalisations ( Jill concurring with Jan Moir that being gay caused Stephen Gately’s death from pulmonary oedemo) does not.

                    • Being a foot soldier for Anglican Mainstream is not the same as being a Miles Christi; nor is drinking at sludgy estuarine water the same as drinking the living waters of Fons Bonitatis.

                    • Actually it’s not a religion of belief but a religion of what you are against. Rabbi Hugo Gryn used to talk about this kind of theological mindset – yes they have in Judaism too. On a desert island such a Jew would build two synagogues, a fine one and and a poor tumble-down one. When asked about the second synagogue he answered “That’s the synagogue I don’t go to”. This is the kind of Church Jill and her pals at Anglican Mainstream want – (the major anglican) churches with women priests and bishops which they won’t go to and another smaller more prickly church group which agrees with all the things that they don’t agree with.

                    • Tom, now that I have a little more time on my hands than I had over Christmas and the New Year, I was thinking of doing a little fisking of this ludicrous, upside down and back to front piece written by someone with no apparent knowledge at all of Christian moral teaching which you have commended to me for reading (which I had already seen, by the way) but I have been spared the trouble by someone who has done it ten times better than I could have!

                      So here’s link for you.


                    • So you DO think he is good? Your patheos guy misses the point. If a Pope can’t speak up for the abused against oppression as the Catechism says we all should then what kind of sign of Christ is he? But enough of that. You still haven’t told us why you stay in the Anglican Church only to grumble endlessly about its awful bishops and terrible times coming when those amazon women clap the mitres on their heads with a triumphant cry? Surely the Church of Sua Santità il Papa would suit you better where bishops are men and women know their place? But both of us know why, don’t we, Jill? Once inside you would not find the Catholic Church much to your liking. You would find the clergy might not be that interesting in debating theology with you and the vast sensible Catholic laity who don’t jump to do the bidding of Cardinals and bishops wouldn’t necessarily agree with your straight-laced moral take on the world. It wouldn’t be nearly as cosy as the Anglican Church – that’s such a nice place to grouse and grumble – and it is going to provide you with plenty more to grouse about.

                    • You miss the point Tom. The Pope blesses all kinds of people not to affirm them but simply to act as a conduit of grace. Remember that chap who told us to pray for our enemies?

                      If you wanted to see what the RC stance on the Ugandan law proposals are, go and look what the RC Church in Uganda has been saying about it. You might be pleasantly surprised.

                    • One thing the Catholic Church is really worried about is giving scandal, giving scandal to the Faithful. Don’t you think the Pope is doing that already by his silence on the matter of what may amount to a genocide if the law gets passed as intended? The Pope can be all the things you say about being a channel of grace but if he doesn’t also say “Go, and sin no more” when justice demanded it he is not doing what Jesus did to the woman taken in adultery – and adultery may be mortal as far as sins go, but not nearly as mortal to gay people as the Uganda Bill threatens to be. But of course Rebecca Kadoga is hardly the repentant sinner – in fact she glories in her murderous ambitions and has done so publicly. The audience was also fairly public, or became so. A bit of Christian teaching on compassion would hardly contradict a blessing from the Pope, now would it?

                    • Genocide?

                      Even the Nazi persecution of some active homosexuals was not genocide.
                      Have you read what the RC Church in Uganda has said about the proposed laws?

                    • You may think that. Let others abide the question. But don’t get like Jill, Peter. and strain at gnats to avoid facing the principle.

                      Can you post a link?

                    • The Principle is very clear – The Pope is happy to love his enemies. The RC Church makes formal statements as and when necessary.

                      For the third time, have you read what the RC Church in Uganda has said about the poposed laws, or would such information ruin your thesis? :-)

                    • You are so bombastic. Yes I have just found it, and yes, it does restate the Catechism’s approach to homosexuality largely, amidst a lot of other stuff about loving the sinner but hating the sin and homosexuals called to chastity. In fact on that score there is nothing new, It is a move in the right direction as far as the proposed legislation but it still doesn’t answer the point that you and Jill are so blinkered about, namely that the Pope himself, head of the Church did not say all this publicly at what would have been an appropriate moment to get Kadoga to drop the bill. That’s the point however much you refuse to see it.

                    • I know you want the Pope to do the things that you want at a time you want, but unfortunately international diplomacy doesn’t work like that.
                      Bombastic… Nice touch.

                    • Well you are. I know you speak your mind in and out of season – sometimes out of it :-)

                    • Interesting that Lwanga’s “pro”-gay letter is hidden away on http://www.uecon.org and I had to Google it but when the French bishops or our own Vincent Nichols says something anti-gay it gets on the BBC, like the recent announcement stopping the “Gay Masses” at this opportune moment. Why doesn’t the World know about it? You had to tell me – and the World doesn’t exactly read your website, (however much we all think it ought to).

                    • I read that +Vincent, tired of not having a red hat, is finally cleaving to the party line.

                    • Just listened to a fascinating interview on Premier Radio with one of the Mass organisers. The move was agreed a while back and has the full support of the Soho Mass peeps. No conspiracy, no-one being moved out against their will, very happy with new location etc.

                    • Ummm. I wonder why Nichols didn’t say it had been agreed a while back? Was his statement framed to appeal to us the British public, the Catholic gays and friends and families concerned…or the Vatican?

                    • If you are still looking for a Church job, Peter, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference desperately needs an apologist…oops, I mean Spokesman. Interested?

                    • Of course they did. But hardly the German bishops – there a photos of them giving the Nazi salute.

            • high to the point of invalidating the practice? Really? Bear in mind that the ”best” anti-anal paper of recent years rather dishonestly counted flatulence as incontinence. And of course the prostate is the male g-spot – are orgasms unnatural?

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