Emails are running mostly positive regarding the sexual identity therapy paradigm and two most recent articles on Crosswalk. Used by permission, here is an email reaction to the column, A Valued Life:
Good morning Dr. Throckmorton:
As a 63 year old man who has struggled with same sex sexual attractions for as long as I can remember, I found the subject of the article [A Valued Life] refreshing and insightful. Like Jim, my family background fits the stereotypical view concerning bonding with the same sex parent. My father was emotionally distant as well as being verbally and physically abusive with strong opinions on what it means to be a man. No matter how hard I tried, I could not live up to his preconceived image and eventually gave up trying to change myself to conform to that image. Also like Jim, I fervently prayed that God would “snap His fingers” and “make me normal”. However, unlike Jim when God did not respond with affirmative action, I rejected my religion for over 20 years by fully accepting my gay orientation as innate, immutable, and probably genetic.
Without going into details at age 40, I became disillusioned with gay life and again turned to God to change me and again did not get the desired response. Like Jim, I sought help from the institutional church and ex-gay ministries with disastrous results. The institutional church is not equipped to deal with those dealing with same sex sexual attractions and most ex-gay ministries promote a “cure” without calling change a “cure”. Unlike Jim I never sought professional help. I had several friends who were psychiatrists or psychologists and all of them took one of two positions. One is that it is impossible to change your orientation therefore just accept it. This position is in direct opposition to my faith. The other position was that change is not only possible but mandatory to live a life acceptable to God. This position is Pollyannaish and denies the reality of dealing with SSA on a personal level. I do not know of any mental health professional who expects straight men to live “perfect” lives just as I do not know of any institutional church that denies straight men “covet” women other than their wives. Although I do know a couple of ex-gays who have lost all attraction to other men the vast majority still deal with the attractions on some level.
Long story short, I came to understand what Paul meant when God‘s response to his thorn in the flesh was: “My grace is sufficient for you, My strength is made perfect in weakness.” “Going straight” is only a dream for most who deal with SSA, but living a valued life is an obtainable goal. Over the last 23+ years my attractions to men have diminished and I am no longer obsessed by the desire to be with another man. And to my surprise I now find women attractive but have no desire to complicate my life with marriage. Celibacy is not only attainable but can contribute to a valued life that is free from sexual tension (most of the time). For some of us who struggle God’s answer is celibacy, which frees us up to concentrate on exercising our talents in areas of life that can and do replace sexual intimacy. Emotional intimacy as an aim is underrated by the institutional church and seems to be totally ignored by the gay lobby. A hug from a true friend of the same sex is more powerful than those who are sexually active will ever understand. Our society has equated love with sex, God equates love with actions that benefit our fellow man. It takes time and effort to transition from “eros” to “agapao”, however the transition is worth the peace of mind.
Sincerely: (Name removed by request of the author)