The "Dr. Phil" TV program & sexual orientation
Analysis of the "I'm gay, OK?"
|That genes and hormones while in-utero have no influence in determining a person's sexual
orientation as an adult.|
|That same-sex attraction and sexual behavior is a choice that a person
|That her daughter's bisexuality is a lifestyle. The term "lifestyle"
generally refers to a item that a person chooses: whether to live in a city,
suburbs, town or rural area; whether to work for a large company, small
business, or be self-employed. etc. Most therapists, human sexuality
researchers, and GLBs believe that sexual orientation is something that one
discovers, not one that is chosen.|
|That through reparative therapy or transformational ministries, a person
can change their sexual orientation and become heterosexual.|
Em, her sister, is concerned: "... that Anjela will take the Bible and
take pieces of what she wants to believe from the Bible and leave the rest
The Bible has about six passages that deal with same-sex behavior. Bible scholars more or less agree on what these passages say. However, they have been unable to reach a consensus on what they mean:
|Most religious conservatives believe that all six passages condemn all
forms of same-sex sexual behavior today, whether it is a one-night stand
or a long-term, loving, committed relationship. |
|Most religious liberals and secularists believe that these six passages
They conclude that the Bible is silent on sexual behavior within loving, committed same-sex relationships. although they sometimes wonder about Ruth & Naomi, David & Jonathan, and Daniel & Ashpenaz....
Em also said that: "... if she [Anjela] has accepted Jesus Christ as her savior, she is pure before the eyes of God. And that's all that matters to me."
A common belief among many conservative Christians is that one is saved by repenting of their sin and trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior. Many further believe that once a lesbian, gay, or bisexual person is saved, their same-sex attractions fade away. This is based on their interpretation of 1 Corinthians 6:11. We have never found any long-range studies that evaluate this belief.
An unstated concern in Anjela's family might be her fate after death. Most Christians believe that people go either to Heaven or Hell. But many, perhaps most, fundamentalists and other evangelical Christians believe that persons who have engaged in same-sex behavior will go to Hell. To believe that a family member will spend eternity being tortured in Hell with no hope of relief is an immense emotional load to handle.
Dr. Phil asked: "What do you have to do to find the common ground to say, 'Each is entitled to their position, and we're going to love each other around that' ?"
He suggested that the mother and sisters set boundaries and say:
"'Let's get together where we don't talk about our sexual orientation. We don't talk about our sex lives. We talk about kids.' You don't go there until you begin to get some foundation under yourselves as far as your relationship is concerned."
Debates between people who disagree about sexual orientation are rare. Sincere, open dialogue is almost non-existent.
The Dr. Phil program broadcast a debate between two persons, a priest who identified himself as an "ex-gay" and another male who identified himself as "gay."
|About David: He is the ex-gay. He apparently has a bisexual, not a homosexual,
engaged in same-sex behavior for ten years, including being a male
prostitute for seven. About 1980, he went to seminary and immediately stopped
his same-sex behavior. He said that he does not
have a girlfriend or a wife because he was ordained a priest circa 1995. This
was presumably in the Roman Catholic Church, which requires celibacy of its
clergy, and has ordained few married men.|
It is clear that David successfully changed his sexual behavior and became
celibate. He said that he has been "...out of homosexuality for 25 years now
and I haven't relapsed." What is not clear is whether he changed his sexual
orientation as well.
All of the testimonies of ex-gays that we have read seem to indicate that
the individual's original sexual orientation, whether bisexual or homosexual,
has remained intact, even as they have decided to not engage in same-sex
behavior. That is, they have changed in their behavior, but not their orientation.
|About Jusin: He is gay. While in college, he realized that he was attracted to men.
In a desperate effort to change his orientation to heterosexual, he attended
a number of ex-gay programs. He feels that they were ineffective. He said:|
|David suggested: There are many possible reasons why the ex-gay programs that Justin's
attended might have been unsuccessful. It:
When Dr. Phil asked David whether he believed that transformational ministries change behavior or sexual orientation/attraction, he seems to have dodged the question:
David appears to have admitted that, decades ago, he was a bisexual: he
certainly had an attraction towards men. His attraction towards women was
always present, but was "... just damaged and unformed."
|Sandy Williams spoke: She is a coordinator for the Gay-Straight Alliance Network
for Southern California. 2
GSANetwork's mission statement is to be:|
That is, she does not try to change a youth's sexual orientation; she tries to make them comfortable and accepting with the sexual orientation that they have been given.
|Dr. Phil: He attempted to distinguish between conversion therapies changing
behavior and changing orientation. He commented to Justin:|
|Beliefs of critics of ex-Gay ministries, etc.: They generally feel, like Justin, that the
ministries sometimes succeed at changing behaviors, but that sexual
orientations are always or almost always fixed. Thus, a person with a bisexual orientation who enters one of these groups is
sexually attracted to both men and women. They may be convinced to confine
their future sexual behavior to the opposite sex. Their behavior
is changed and they try to not engage in sex with persons of the same
sex. But their sexual orientation remains bisexual. They are still
attracted to both men and women. A person with a homosexual orientation who enters one of these groups
is sexually attracted only to persons of the same sex. They may be
convinced to lead a celibate life. Thus, their behavior is changed
and they try to not engage in sex with persons of the same sex. But their
sexual orientation remains homosexual. They are still attracted to persons
of the same sex.|
These debate highlighted a difference of opinion over ex-gay groups, reparative therapy, transformational ministries, etc. that is often seen in the media:
Representatives of ex-gay ministries and reparative therapists strongly
stress that they can help gays and lesbians change. They use that
word a lot. But they are often vague about what it is precisely that they change. They certainly try to change
behaviors and sometimes succeed. But whether they can actually succeed at changing a person's
sexual orientation is controversial. There are lots of claims, but it seems
that nobody has ever bothered to do a properly designed, long-term study.
David's comparison of sexual orientation with alcoholism is interesting. It might be interpreted that just as an alcoholic cannot suppress their hunger for alcohol, a person cannot suppress their sexual attraction to men and/or women. However, in both cases, they can try to control their behavior if that is their goal.
|Open debate being rare,|
|Genuine dialogue being essentially non-existent,|
|No high quality long range studies being made,|
it seems obvious that this conflict will not be resolved soon.
Meanwhile, according to Dr. Phil, gay youth experience 4 times the normal suicide rate -- and even much higher than this if the relationship with their families is poor. The dead bodies are piling up.
Copyright © 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2009-OCT-21
Latest update: 2009-OCT-21
Author: B.A. Robinson
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