Monday, June 11, 2018

MONDAY: WHY DO WE KEEP HEARING THAT EX-GAY MEN HAVE INCREDIBLY HIGH FAILURE RATES? HERE'S WHY

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Among people who wish to promote various versions of "gay Christianity," they often refer to the high failure rate of men who try to leave the gay lifestyle. This high failure rate is usually calculated by looking at a pool of people who sought conversion therapy or counseling.

I always had difficulty figuring out those statistics, because in my personal life I know so many people who went from gay to straight. But I think after several months of getting deeper into this issue I can see what is going on.

The problem is not that these people cannot change. The problem is that these people went to seek counseling. For the last 30-40 years, counseling has been terrible in this area. Not just the awful APA-licensed psychologists who believe people have to stay gay if they are supposedly born that way. Also, the faith-based counselors who impart a shame about sex in general.

This is why I phrased my resolution to the SBC as "Ministry and Counseling to Lead People from Homosexuality to Heterosexuality." We need to support counseling that knows what is goals are: to get people out of gay living into a straight life. This includes changing the way they understand their own purpose, and therefore, their identity. I don't think we need to end the little counseling that exists--we need more counseling that can provide different options. And we want to find options that work to get people to overcome their loss of morale.

I don't think that the failure rates for ex-gay men come from inside ex-gay men. It is not that they really are gay and cannot change. The failure rates come from everyone's inability to boost their morale.

Men in general are not being encouraged to find women. Feminists are the major part of this problem, followed by the LGBT movement. The LGBT movement works with the feminist rejection of male heterosexuality by offering men two ways to indulge their sex urges without incurring a punitive backlash. One way is to have sex with men. The other way is to become trans. The Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists, or TERFS, are the worst possible allies in the fight against trans, because they want to stop men from becoming trans but they do not want men to remain men and pursue women. So TERFs may help you in fighting trans bathrooms but all you are doing, by working with them, is contributing to the homosexuality problem.

We have already seen how a misguided strand of Christianity fears all heterosexual sex as dirty. Hawthorne wasn't inventing stories out of thin air. Christian male fears of women's sexuality led some Christians, I believe, to over-emphasize the male role as the moral enforcer. Women who had healthy sexual desires were slut-shamed. Men who had healthy sexual desires were criminalized. Women bore the brand of sin, men bore the brand of sin and crime. Men bore a heavier burden in this, even though the vast majority of women (and men) tend to assume that women were the biggest victims.

Christian contempt for sexuality in general became toxic when it found common ground with feminist and LGBT anti-male thinking. Christianity was already disproportionately punishing and vilifying male sex urges. It is not difficult to merge this with the feminist view that men who feel sexual urges toward women are evil. Oppression and lust become synonymous with each other, but ONLY for heterosexual men. For women and LGBTs, their sex urges were also subject to criticism, but they did not bear the added taint of being accused of oppression.

Working through this in my mind helped me to understand the last 2 years, and the waves of public scandals that caused me to feel uneasy with what many conservatives were saying about Donald Trump, Milo Yiannopoulos, Hugh Hefner, Roy Moore, and finally this most recent round of MeToo declarations against men for things that fell far below the threshold of rape.

I remember reading the articles of people I respect, like David French, and gradually realizing that they were part of the problem even though they were conservative. They write at the crossroads of Christianity's puritanism and the feminist anti-male spirit. Where you get all of this merged together in the church, you will have the perfect storm.

So back to the failure rate of ex-gay men. They cannot, in large numbers, push back against the storm by themselves. The option for them should not be to pretend they do not have sexual urges. That will bottle things up inside and they will end up going back to being gay (hence the failure rate).

They should not become trans as a safe way to pursue females. That's unhealthy. Not because I want to agree with TERFs on this--I think TERFs are driven by a punitive belief that men are "getting away with" going after women by becoming women, which is exactly what men are doing, but only because feminists have made male heterosexuality something that men have to indulge like smoking in the bathroom. Feminists are not entirely to blame for the disgust at male heterosexuality, but they play a big role. So they cannot claim outrage against trans males while still maintaining their vicious anti-male position regarding men who want to be with women. (Yet if they fight against trans bathrooms and war against vague "harassment" simultaneously, this is in fact what they are doing.)

The church is stuck having to solve a problem that it is only about half responsible for. The church can reform its own theology but has no power to roll back feminism or the LGBT movement that moved in to take care of feminism's casualties.

In an immediate sense the most important thing, I think, is to keep up men's morale. Men in general, not just ex-gay men. We have to have some way of communicating hope to them even as a set of forces beyond their control have rendered them in a powerless and unhappy state where suicide or violent outbursts loom as constant dangerous possibilities.

In the end, this is what can explain the "high failure rate" of ex-gay therapy. These are not men who were born to be gay. These are men. Society has failed them the way that everyone has failed men in general.