Recently, there’s been a bit of a brouhaha between Exodus International’s Alan Chambers and others in the ex-gay industry due to Chambers’s rejection and criticisms of reparative therapy. Recently, NARTH president Joseph Nicolosi chimed in, correcting some of Chambers’s statements and criticizing the Exodus International president.
I want to focus on the last paragraph of Nicolosi’s email:
If homosexual acts truly constitute sin, as you say you believe, then people deserve to be able to avail themselves of all reasonable therapeutic tools to diminish unwanted SSA and explore their OSA potential. You are discouraging them from having such tools, and also as a Christian, you are reassuring them that they are OK whether they “fall” or not, which gives people very little reason to struggle against a condition which has very deeply negative implications for both themselves and for our culture.
It’s unclear to me what Nicolosi means when he suggests that Alan Chambers is “telling them [gay people] that they are OK whether they ‘fall’ or not.” Some, such as Dave Rattigan, have interpretted “OK” to mean “Will go to heaven.” I can certainly see where one might interpret the statement that way, though I’m not convinced it’s the only explanation. Nicolosi could also, for example, be suggesting that he still champions the belief that even being attracted to members of the same sex is sinful and problematic, a belief that has been discarded by most. Or he could simply be suggesting that Chambers should be encouraging gay people to feel miserable about themselves and are full of self-loathing. Quite frankly, I don’t find either of my alternate interpretations any less detestable than Rattigan’s, but I think it’s important to include them.
I think what’s more interesting is Nicolosi’s suggestion that gay people need some sort of external impetus — be it the threat of hellfire or people encouraging them to view themselves with self-loathing, to change. And while Nicolosi thinks that without such impetus, people won’t be motivated to change and avoid the “very deeply negative implications for bot themselves and for our culture.” To me, that begs a qustion though: why aren’t those “deeply negative implications” motivation enough?
If the condition of being gay negatively impacts people, then that should be sufficient reason for them to seek change. And yet, they’re not. Nicolosi is himself admitting that they’re not and won’t. I can only assume that Nicolosi simply doesn’t think people are adults and lack the maturity to do the things in what’s their best interests or that Nicolosi is being dishonest — with others and possibly even himself — about these supposedly “deeply negative implications” he mentions.