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Thought provoking questions that
we have received, with our responses

Part 8:

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This topic continues from the previous essay

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Interesting Emails discussed in this essay:

bullet Are you just a bunch of wackos?

bullet Can therapy change gays?

bullet You have to stand for something or fall.

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Are you just a bunch of wackos?

Incoming Email: Are any of you people actually Christians or just a bunch of wackos trying to please everyone?

Our response: It sounds like you are harboring a lot of hatred and anger against us. That may well be bad for your health generally, and for your heart in particular.

We are a group of five people, an Agnostic, Atheist, Christian, Wiccan and Zen Buddhist. Obviously, we hold almost no theological beliefs in common. But we share a concern for the future of the world. We feel that the future looks rather bleak until people learn to coexist with followers of other religions.

One interpretation of your email is that there are two kinds of people in the world: Christians and wackos. We assume that you are a Christian. Has it ever occurred to you that if the stork that delivered you as a newborn was blown off course, you might be a non-Christian today. One's religion as an adult is very much influenced by the religion of the family into which they are born.

We do not try to please everyone. In fact, our policy is to explain all sides to each question. This means that we describe controversial questions including abortion, the LGB community (Lesbians, gays, bisexuals), the transgender community, the virgin birth, the resurrection, and many other topics from the viewpoint of religious conservatives, religious liberals and even the beliefs of 1st and 2nd century Christians. This means that whatever your faith, you will be certain to see material on our web site that you disagree with and other material with which you agree. We are trying to educate everyone; to please everyone is impossible. We are quite certain that there are lots of visitors to our web site that violently disagree with what we write. Down through the years, we have received lots of hate emails, and the occasional death threat.

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Can therapy change gays?

Incoming Email: In one of your essays, you write: "No therapy has succeeded." But homosexuals can change and become heterosexual. A testimony of one such person is online at: http://www.newdirection.ca/

Our response: Before discussing changes of this sort, one has to define carefully what is meant by "homosexual" and "heterosexual."

bullet Some groups and individuals define "homosexual" as a person who has engaged in sexual behavior with member(s) of the same gender in the recent past. A "heterosexual" is a person who is not a homosexual.

bullet Medical researchers, gays, lesbians, bisexual, religious liberals, mental health professionals generally define "homosexual" in terms of sexual orientation. A homosexual is a person who is sexually attracted only to members of the same gender. They may or may not have engaged in sexual activity with a member of the same sex.

The first definition describes homosexuals in terms of what they do; the latter in terms of what they are. We use the latter definition in our web site.

The testimony that you cite describes a fairly typical experience for a person with a bisexual orientation:

bullet At puberty, he had a bisexual orientation, and was later sexually active with women and perhaps with men.

bullet At age 20, he continued to have a bisexual orientation. He was sexually active with a male lover.

bullet More recently, he continues to have a bisexual orientation. He is sexually active with a female lover.

bullet He will be a bisexual until his death, and may or may not continue to be sexually active

Many people seem programmed to expect only two possibilities: abortion is moral or immoral; a person is either male or female; a person has either a homosexual or heterosexual sexual orientation. But life is not that simple. Many people believe that an abortion is moral under some circumstances, but is not a moral choice under others. Intersexual people exist -- persons who are not obviously male or female. Finally, there are not two sexual orientations, there are three.

What is normal among humans is that in a group of 100 newborns:

bullet About 90, as adults, will find that they are only attracted to the opposite gender; they are heterosexuals.

bullet About 5 will find, later in life, that they are only attracted to the same gender; they are are lesbians or gays.

bullet About 5 will find that they are attracted to both men and women; they are bisexuals.

There are many testimonies on conservative Christian web sites that seem to indicate that a person has changed from homosexual to heterosexual. Further examination reveals that all fall into one of two groups:

  • Some entered therapy as lesbians or gays and exit therapy unchanged, except that they have decided to remain celibate for the rest of their lives, in loneliness without an intimate partner.

  • Some entered therapy as bisexuals and who exit therapy unchanged, except that they have decided to ignore their attraction to members of the same-sex and seek relationships only with members of the opposite-sex.

The largest group dedicated to converting lesbians and gays into heterosexuals by far was Exodus International. After 36 years of operation Exodus International made a number of major changes in their beliefs and policies. As of mid-2012:

  • They no longer taught that reparative therapy is effective.

  • They taught than lesbian and gay adults will always have feelings of attraction to members of the same gender.

  • They taught that reparative therapy can be dangerous.

  • They taught that sexually active persons with same-sex attraction can still attain Heaven after death.

During an eventful 24 hour interval in mid-2013-JUN:

  • The president of Exodus offered a sincere apology for all of the harm that his organization had done to individuals members of the LGBT community, and

  • The organization announced that it was ceasing its ministry to "cure" gays and lesbians after 37 years of operation.

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You have to stand for something or fall.

Incoming Email: "Tolerance is being used here just like the Trojan Horse. You have to stand for something or fall."

Our response: The precise meaning of your comment is unclear. However, I think that your concern is based on the precise definition of "religious tolerance." You seem to assign a different meaning to this term than we do.

bullet We define "religious intolerance" as discriminating or oppressing people on the basis of their religion. This happens all over the world. The Muslim government in the Sudan has been accused of literally crucifying some Christians. The Serbian Orthodox Christians in Bosnia were found guilty of genocide against the Muslims. These are particularly evil examples of religious intolerance. The ultimate manifestation of religious intolerance is 9-11 where radical, extremist, fundamentalist Muslim terrorists killed about three thousand people. Religious tolerance allows persons of all religions to follow their faith tradition without discrimination or oppression. Two examples, although with some imperfections, are the U.S. and Canada.

bullet I suspect that you define religious tolerance as accepting all of the religious belief systems in the world as equally true. This is called pluralism by most people, not religious tolerance.

We have noted that conservative Protestants often assign a different definition to commonly used words than others do. This makes dialog very difficult.

You said that we "have to stand for something or fall." You seem to be implying that the staff at this web site have no firm religious beliefs. In our group, we have five individuals with very strongly held beliefs: an Agnostic, Atheist, Christian, Wiccan and Zen Buddhist. We differ on almost everything theologically. We have diverse beliefs about the origins of the world, its life forms and the rest of the universe; about the existence of God or deities; about when abortions should be legal; about the nature and cause of homosexuality; and about dozens of other topics. But are united in our drive to promote religious tolerance.

Perhaps we are biased. But we see the 21st century as a time of conflict over religious tolerance on a national and international level. If religious intolerance wins out, then we will see what has happened in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Cyprus, Nigeria, Sudan, Middle East, Iraq/Iran, Afghanistan, India, Sri Lanka, Philippines, etc. expanded to a world-wide phenomenon.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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Site navigation: Home page > Comments > Questions > here

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Copyright © 2002 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-NOV-10
Latest update: 2014-OCT-02
Author: B.A. Robinson

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