Reparative Therapy

Posted: November 29, 2010 in Uncategorized
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“Reparative Therapy” is the name for the type of counseling that claims to help people to “change” their sexual orientation.  Over the years there has been a lot of controversy surrounding this type of therapy.  The claims have “changed” (pun intended) over the years so that now reparative therapists only say that that “change” is a possibility…not an eventuality.  Regardless, the whole point of the therapy is to help a person “overcome” being gay so that they can live a straight life.

I spent two years in reparative therapy back in the early 90’s.  By the end of the two years, I thought that I had come to a place where I knew enough that I was able to “control” my sexual urges and I believed I could live a fairly normal straight existence.  Ultimately, what I learned was to deny my orientation and to suppress those feelings and desires.  I was taught to fulfill my need for men through close, non-sexual friendships with other men.  And I learned that if I stayed close to God and give my desires for men over to Him, then over time, there would be more and more healing in my life.

Guess what?  Nearly 20 years have passed and there has been no change in my desires.  I have experienced some tremendous fulfillment in close friendships with other men…and I have clung to God during those years.  But at the core of my being, nothing has changed.  All I have done is learned to “play straight”.  I’ve played the role semi-well.  After all, I AM married with children!  But to this day, I have zero attraction to women.  And I find that all of my energy goes into connecting with men.  Deep down, I know that change has been totally elusive.

You know what else?  I’ve never met another person for whom reparative therapy has worked.  Everyone I know (and I know MANY) who has been through such programs, has simply learned to “control” their desires.  They may live straight lives, but at their core, their desire to be with men has not gone away.  They have learned to suppress it but in their minds and hearts, they know that the desires will not go away.

So I’ve come to a conclusion…and it is based on my experience and the experience of many others:  REPARATIVE THERAPY DOESN’T WORK!  I desperately wanted to believe that it would work.  But it didn’t.  There may be a few out there for whom it has worked and I would guess that they were not as exclusively homosexual as those for whom it hasn’t worked.  But on the whole, I don’t believe it works.

In good conscience, I can no longer recommend it to people.  Ultimately, I know that I will need to withdraw from some of my professional connections to Exodus International and other gay-to-straight groups.  In time, that will come.  At the very least, I personally feel released from “trying to change”.

Praise God!

  1. JD says:

    My understanding of the concept of “change” has…. well changed. At first I thought my homosexual attractions would just vanish into a cloud of thin air because of my salvation experience. Then I thought it was a matter of me fighting real hard and behaving real good to overcome the attractions. After screwing up time and time again I broke down and cried out to the Lord. I asked Him if I was just gay and that was that. In that time of brokeness before God, I felt like He spoke to my heart. It was something to the effect of Him telling me that He did not view and identify me by my actions. 2nd Corinthians 5:17 took on new meaning for me. I realized that it said whoever is in Christ IS a new creation, the old has gone and the new HAS come. It didn’t say whoever was in Christ had to fight real hard TO BECOME a new creation. You’re a pastor so you don’t need a bible lesson, but for me at 19 years old this was a new concept. This experience with the Lord settled my confusion about wether or not “I was gay”. I decided to just continue walking with Him and trying to let Him deal with my sexuality. It was shortly after that experience that I started attending a local Exodus support group. This particular group was always the “black sheep” of Exodus and actually recently broke their ties with the organization. Getting involved there was one of the most profound, important, and encouraging experiences of my entire life. I don’t think they would view their ministry as “reparative therapy” necessarily. But it was in the context of this group that I started to view “change” as something different then the attractions just going away. In fact, I came to a place of peace in accepting the fact that this issue will most likely never “go away” completely. I think the best way to describe what I believe now about all of it is that, in regards to my same sex attractions, I have to learn how to be faithful as a child of God, a husband, and a father. However, I’m a very messy un-finished product at this time!

  2. JD says:

    that’s what I’ve been afraid of…

  3. I am gay, and I am a beloved child of God. Thanks be to God. A decade of ex-gay therapy didn’t change me. Nothing will, because there’s nothing to be changed. Were you actually referring people to them? What are these “professional connections” you talk about?

    • Pastor Chris says:

      Yes, I was actually doing pastoral counseling and leading other people through the same general steps that I went through in the reparative therapy. I was also involved in online groups and was connected with a group of ministers who all “struggled with SSA”. Ugh…it’s hard for me even to write that now!

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