Let’s try a thought experiment I hope will demonstrate the trap that gay rights activists fall into when they insist that homosexuality is biologically determined, therefore cannot be altered by any treatment, and therefore should be acted on in order to be happy. Every one of these points, and the logical progression along them, is debatable. For now, however, let us take all of that as given. Here is the trap: if a condition is biologically-based, then it may also be treated biologically. In the end, describing homosexuality as a choice (not speaking of feelings here, but as a way to live) may be the best and safest refuge for those who wish to live this way.

I am pleased to announce here for the first time the invention of a new miracle of modern medicine, the Defabulator. It has a 90% success rate in removing homosexual feelings. After a few simple treatments, 90% of patients who describe themselves as gay no longer feel that way. They report being turned on exclusively by women and completely disgusted by the idea of gay sex, Kylie Minogue, and Capri pants. There are a few side effects seen in a some patients. They include reduced communication skills, extreme interest in sports, and loss of personal hygiene. Also, of the 10% without the positive outcome, 5% report an attraction to beetles. We think in time we will be able to work out these bugs. The remaining 5% reported no change except for momentary memory loss.

I am also pleased to announce that we are putting the finishing touches on a patented drug called Probutcherone. This drug is designed to be administered to infant boys during the crucial period 4-6 weeks after birth when the final cascade of sex hormones genderizes the brain. Safe and effective, this drug ensures that the normal hormone cascade happens as it should and ensures the emergence of gender concordant behavior in boys. Work has begun on the female equivalent as well, Anti-tomboynin.

After my mock press release, some questions to ponder. How should we decide to administer this treatment? Just because we can treat homosexuality, does it mean we should in all cases? Can we even answer that question scientifically? I think not. Through science we can only learn how to administer it for maximum effectiveness, what the side effects are and the risks involved. It cannot decide what level of risk is acceptable.

Who gets to decide who should undergo this treatment? Can parents compel their teenage son with a fascination with Judy Garland to undergo the treatments? Should insurance cover the procedure? Should we insist that convicted pedophiles be administered this treatment before they are released (even if most of them aren’t actually homosexual, it’s sure to be very popular politically)? If a gay man breaks up with his lover and is disillusioned with his further prospects in the gay world, should he be allowed to try it? Should we impose a waiting period on him, to make sure he really wants it? What if some mad fundamentalist scientist zaps everyone at the Pet Shop Boys concert with the Defabulator? Should we invent a Refabulator in case we want to reverse it, or in case some heterosexual men decide they want to “go gay” for a while?

It’ll be a long time, if ever, before such a devices exist. If it ever does, it probably won’t be 90% effective. It might only be 25% effective and improve from there. Ask yourself, how effective would it need to be before it’s worthwhile? How much risk would be acceptable? And remember, we allow people to undergo all kinds of medical procedures that have risks without necessarily having good reasons. Take cosmetic surgery for things like wrinkle reduction and breast enlargement. They are painful, not always effective, and can cause side effects including death, which seems extreme for procedures some consider frivolous. And yet, we still allow it.

More likely to be possible, though still far from certain, is something like the Probutcherone I describe above. It is probably easier to prevent the susceptibility to homosexuality than to cure it after it emerges full-blown. If my theory about the cause(s) of homosexuality is right and it’s frequently the result of a complex interaction between a cluster of biological traits and various macro- and micro-environmental factors, then the emergence of homosexual attraction could be prevented even if all those factors aren’t all well understood. Something as simple as a well-timed hormone shot–either at 8-12 weeks in the fetus or perhaps 4-6 months after birth–might ensure that the male brain is strongly masculinized. This would probably eliminate many of the sensitive, artistic, and unconventional types of men, including the majority of them who are heterosexual. As you can see, this opens an even more complicated and fraught can of worms, because if I am right, homosexuality is part of a cluster of many traits, some of which I think we all appreciate in society. On the other hand, some people who oppose treating homosexuality might not be opposed to preventing it. For instance, I remember Rosie O’Donnell saying once that if she had her choice, she wouldn’t choose for any of her children to be gay. (That statement automatically doesn’t mean she’d want to administer Probutcherone to her newborn kids, but she might.)

Interestingly, after loudly insisting that science proves homosexuality is innate and immutable, some gay activists are trying to prevent further research into homosexuality. The latest example is the brouhaha over Oregon State University’s study of “gay” sheep. It seems that Ennis and Jack aren’t the only ones going gay on Brokeback Mountain. There are a few rams up there who just aren’t that into ewe. Researchers are wondering why, in an attempt to improve yields in breeding stock. The simple ram has been caught in the thicket of modern politics and our obsession with “rights”, be they animal, gay, or in this case, both.

Some people say that homosexuality is just another variation like blue eyes, that its open practice has no moral or social implications. For them it is not an error, a disorder, or a deficiency. Others say it is an abomination–even just having the feelings–and it must be stamped out with all means necessary, because the very fate of civilization itself is threatened by the presence of homosexual desire.

Rather than debate the merits of either of these extreme points of view here (and I am somewhere in the middle) I would just like to say that at heart these questions are not scientific. And thank goodness for that. To attempt to answer the question scientifically is an abdication of our moral sense. If we insist on medicalizing homosexuality, then your lifestyle choice–whatever it is–is only safe until the next study is published. It forces all of us to become specialists in arcane scientific disciplines, and the poor scientists have the rest of us inserting ourselves into their debates, constantly looking over their shoulders. What “ought to be” is too large of a question to leave to scientists; we should all cast a vote in answering that question.

So we come back to choice. Why not just say that some people, however it happened, ended up gay and they would like to stay that way? Others have these feelings and don’t want to act on them–why not allow them to look for ways to accommodate their desires to their inclinations without belittling them or stuffing their heads with discouraging dubious statistics and armchair neuroscience? Let each one determine the course of his own life. Let each be free to show us the fruits of the course he has chosen. And leave the poor ram out of it.

Leave a Reply

29 comments

  1. avatar

    huh

    I thought Northern Lights was supposed to be a safe mid-ground. If this is the LDS mid-ground, then I hate to think what the future is. Can anyone post on Northern Lights? Are there editors? Does this posting reflect the views of Northern Lights?

  2. avatar

    You can post whatever as long as you don’t draw the ire of Mr. Lockheart.

    Oh, and speaking of rams…

    It’s a great piece from Time discussing eugenics and gays. In it the author supposes a anti-gay treatment “…would allow bigoted women to get what they want–straight kids–and ensure that gay kids grow up with moms who, at the very least, didn’t try to prevent their existence.”

  3. avatar

    I have a lesbian friend who said once that if she and her partner ever have kids, she hopes they’re not gay. She doesn’t want them to go through all the crap she’s gone through. I don’t know, though. I can’t say that, given the chance, I’d give my son a shot of Probutcherone. I may be overly optimistic, but I like to think that twenty years from now the world will be a more tolerant place for whatever orientation my children are and whatever choices they make.

    Hm. Yeah, I’d say I’m being overly optimistic. Still, though, I don’t think I’d give him the shot.

  4. avatar

    Should we insist that convicted pedophiles be administered this treatment before they are released (even if most of them aren?t actually homosexual, it?s sure to be very popular politically)? If

    Will we never hear the end of this false stereotype?

  5. avatar

    Ron Schow

    I was happy to see the following as part of the values statement on North Star, the organization which sponsors this blog.

    **********
    Recognizing the uniqueness of individual circumstance, North Star takes no official position on the origin or mutability of homosexual feelings and attractions
    ***********

    Accordingly, I feel there are a number of troubling suggestions included within this post.
    I would offer the following as important to keep in mind while trying to sort out what might profitably be useful here for discussion.

    I believe most who post here feel that homosexual behavior is controllable as suggested by the recent new pamphlet from the Church and by Elder Oaks and Wickman a year ago.

    I believe it is reasonable to track and try to improve our understanding of outcome measures whether one is considering back surgery, ear surgery, or some kind of therapy. When people spend money and put at risk their physical or emotional health it is not unreasonable to ask about the outcomes. Some recent discussion on this blog suggests we don’t have the final answers on outcomes with reference to therapy for SGA, but there are some trends worth considering. After being advised of what is known about results, all should be free to choose what they feel is best. Outcomes should be considered with precise language. Evergreen, for example, in their mission statement suggests “homosexual behavior can be overcome” and persons can “diminish same sex attractions.” Most LDS persons with SGA, I believe, would agree with this statement, although all would not attempt to diminish SGA because there are some very positive aspects such as creative and artistic skills often found with SGA.

    There is a very simplistic idea in the first paragraph of this essay which is easily demonstrated to be false. Because something is biologically based, does not mean it cannot be controlled. Psycho-biologists give a simple example of this. Most men shave every day. A beard is biologically determined for practially all men and yet most of us do not have one. Shaving controls the biology.

    Practically all scientists believe the data show the origin of homosexuality is complex. Biology and environment (perhaps most importantly the hormonal environment of the uterus) are considered crucial.

    The new Church pamphlet urges persons not to blame themselves or their parents for their SGA. It would be nice, in my opinion, to follow that advice and simply deal with the reality persons face in their lives and not debate about what the origins might be.

    Elder Oaks and Wickman also emphasize that the Church takes no position on nature or nurture.

  6. avatar

    Excelsior

    There is something you mentioned Ron in your response and also in the post that I’ve heard other places that I think is not correct reasoning. Its not a major point but something I’ve taken note of over time. There seems to be a belief that by diminishing sga we will somehow diminish a persons good characteristics such as being creative or artistic or sensative and that we will in turn develop some sort of stereotypical male characteristics. A person’s attraction to the same sex, in my mind is not directly connected to how creative they are or how compassionate they might be or how clean they might be. As I said not a huge point but something I’ve noticed cropping up from time to time in comments or the implications of people’s comments.

  7. avatar

    I agree with the basic sentiment of this post. I think it is a mistake to make appeals to science and biology when making the case for gay rights. Whether I was born gay (and I think I probably was) or chose to be gay (and I certainly do make choices about my lifestyle and behavior) should have no bearing on my legal and civil rights.

  8. avatar

    I’ve never liked using “nature” to justify anything human.

    Nature does all sorts of creepy things. Higher-primates kill their young to increase the odds of having sex. Let’s not use that to justify anything!

  9. avatar

    -L-

    Regarding comment #1, you can find lots of fascinating info about the blog by clicking on the links at the top of the screen: about, authors, etc. The group of bloggers who regularly contribute here collectively moderate compliance with the policies (not just poor Mr. Lockheart whose ired ire gets Playa’s apparent scorn). This post, while funny (and therefore at stark contrast to the comments), does not form any kind of “position” for the blog. It is merely the views (tongue in cheek, speculative, and playful as they may variously be) of the individual author. A blog has some flexibility for changes in tone and style from post to post, so people need to stay on their toes. Basically, lighten up, people.

    :-)

  10. avatar

    -L-

    In case you don’t find the pages linked from the banner to be as fascinating as I do, here are a few key points:

    Northern Lights is to be a place where we and our readers can openly explore and discuss topics and issues of interest to the LDS community?and particularly as they relate to homosexuality and the Church?in an edifying and uplifting manner and within the framework of commitment to the beliefs and ideals of the Church.

    Anyone who would like can submit guest submissions on whatever topic you choose (doesn’t have to be all gay all the time). The “blog yourself” page has more details on that. I just want to point out that the point of view of posts can be anywhere among a liberal or conservative continuum, as long as they are written “within the framework of commitment to the beliefs and ideals of the Church.”

  11. avatar

    Isn’t there something in the site policy about how Chris can’t agree with anything Borealis or L says? There you go violating established norms again, Chris. Gosh! :)

  12. avatar

    -L-

    But, you see, Mr. Fob, the site policy has always been vague about how Chris should comment when Borealis and -L- aren’t quite on the same page. Given that awkward position, I’m glad Chris chose to loyally disagree with me. (I’ll refrain from recapping our previous sparring on civil rights.) Be careful, Chris. We both know that I’m training to be a cage fighter.

  13. avatar

    Borealis

    If my post has disturbed you, then mission accomplished. Some who are upset may be confused, thinking that I’m advocating when I’m simply discussing possibilities. I’m disturbed by all this myself, and I don’t know what I’d do with a Defabulator or Probutcherone.

    We look to science and technology to solve our moral quandaries for us, but more often than not, they only end up creating more. The more we get God-like powers, the more we have God-like responsibilities. With our modern resuscitation technologies, families are faced with the dilemma of whether and how to “pull the plug” and guess at what the person’s wishes would be–when before, the person would just have died, dilemma-free. And genetic testing reveals a certain predisposition to Huntington’s disease, or Downs syndrome. Do you abort or not? Before, you’d just have a baby and deal with it then, rather than 9 months of anxiety. Increased knowledge is good, I’m all for it, but let’s not pretend it makes things easier.

    And if you believe that your genes, or your interstitial nuclei in your corpus callosum, or your prenatal testosterone levels means you have absolutely no control over your sexual behavior, then what happens when we can control those things?

    Ron, I don’t think I disagree with anything you say in comment #5. My first paragraph is simplistic, but I recite the argument as I hear it parroted to me ad nauseum. I don’t know what causes homosexuality, nor do I know what causes heterosexuality (an even bigger mystery). I don’t think anyone else does either. However, there are a number of temperamental traits that are common to many (not all) homosexuals. These personality traits would be necessary, but not sufficient for many forms of homosexuality to emerge. My point was, you wouldn’t have to necessarily even understand the causes of homosexuality in order to prevent some common forms of it from emerging. That would likely also prevent the emergence of most non-stereotyped male behaviors as well (that are very common among heterosexuals as well), which I think would be a great loss to the world and the Church and not worth whatever “benefits” might be imagined by doing so. (And who says that homosexuals merely existing is a problem anyway?) But others, perhaps even some homosexual parents (as Mr. Fob’s lesbian friend wonders) might not feel the same way. If I had a Defabulator I don’t think I’d use it on myself. I’m pretty happy (for the moment, anyway) with how things have turned out so far, and I recognize the many gifts and blessings same-sex attraction has given me and those around me. I would be reluctant to turn those gifts back in. But I haven’t always felt that way. There were times I would have taken a defabulating blast in a second. Would I deny it to others? That’s a tough one. And knowing what it would put a child of mine through if (s)he were to deal with it, I’d think long and hard before (likely) deciding to forgo the Probutcherone. What I do know is I would greet the emergence of Defabulators and Probutcherone with a great deal of dread and anxiety. In many ways, this casting about in half-ignorance and guesses we do today is preferable to the really terrible power and choices increased knowledge would force on us.

    I don’t see anything wrong in principle with discussing the risks and effectiveness of purported “treatments” of homosexuality. Where we differ is on the quality of the data so far. No point in rehashing it here, but I think all of us can think of examples where the received medical wisdom has proven to be 180 degrees wrong. Everything from the value of trans-fats, to the usefulness of hormone replacement therapy in post-menopausal women, to the effectiveness of back surgery. Many of these beliefs were founded on reasonable and logical suppositions, and some of them supported by clinical data. Yet further research showed the opposite of what was believed. (There is altogether a lot of panic around these that isn’t justified either. The pendulum can swing too far the other way. Hormone replacement therapy probably didn’t do much good, but the increased risk of heart disease was very slight, which is why it took such a large study to discover it.)

    Social science research is even harder to do, and more poorly funded, than medical research. Outcome research might help us discover ineffective treatments or determine the populations that respond best to a given treatment. But even if we could conclusively demonstrate the ineffectiveness of a certain treatment in use today, that doesn’t mean a more effective treatment couldn’t be designed tomorrow. Just because there’s a million bogus hair regrowth products out there doesn’t mean Rogaine and Propecia don’t work pretty well for some people. Maybe reparative therapy is the therapeutic equivalent of hair in a can. Gender wholeness therapy might be Propecia. Whether we should keep looking for a better treatment or not isn’t a scientific question, but a moral one. My feeling is that we should keep looking, so long as those treatments, and the research around it, conform to the principles of the gospel as well as medical ethics and informed consent. And we should make the treatments available to those who want it but it shouldn’t be forced on anyone. I have no idea what to think about the whether parents should be allowed to force it on their children.

    And howller, I agree with you that it’s a damaging and false stereotype to suppose that all homosexuals are pedophiles, but it’s still quite common. I cite it as a likely case where technology would outrun enlightened opinion. Do you know that a lot of Koreans are having plastic surgery to remove their epicanthic folds around their eyes? Why do they want to look more western? Here the very latest in modern technology reinforces what I think is a retrograde perception.

  14. avatar

    Ron Schow

    Borealis

    Thanks for clarifying and saying more about your thoughts on this post.

    I sometimes think about a few of my qualities that could be improved and look at others, with envy perhaps, when they can do this or that better than me. At times I wonder would I really trade ME in for something different if I had the chance? So far, I always at the end of this process think, Oh, I like who I am and I want to keep me as a total package. I wouldn’t give up who I am in this way, even if I could improve on this other part of me. I can never find anyone who I would trade with, if I had to trade one total package for another.

    Does anyone else ever have that experience?

  15. avatar

    John Gustav-Wrathall

    Ron, that’s exactly how I feel. There is not a single thing about myself I can imagine wanting to be different. I have regrets about some past choices I’ve made. I’ve had to avail myself many, many times of the process of repentance, and I anticipate having to avail myself again in the future.

    But overall, I look back and I can see how “all things” are working toward my good. When I was coming out, coming to terms with my homosexuality, I remember finding the words of Psalm 139 particularly poignant:

    I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written…

    It is all a part of the same package… Every struggle has made me who and what I am. When I reflect on this, I am both humbled and filled with gratitude.

  16. avatar

    “If my post has disturbed you, then mission accomplished.” -Borealis

    Interesting. I believe two can play at that game! >:)

    And L, Mr. Lockheart whose ired ire gets Playa?s apparent scorney scorn.

  17. avatar

    While duty to truth and authenticity are important to me, duty to taking the opposite position of the one taken by L trumps all.

    :)

  18. avatar

    Well I’m glad to know we’re all keeping with site policy here.

  19. avatar

    Hmm.. Given that I’ve met many a butch gay man, I’m afraid the Probutcherone might simply reduce the overall male population’s natural spectrum of traits, and leave us with the same number of gays.

    Butch they may be, but it’s not a dependable indicator of straightness. ;)

    Your biggest opposition might come from the straight female demographic. I can’t imagine they’d enjoy having all men bio-engineered into emotional reclusion.

  20. avatar

    Ron Schow

    Borealis you said…

    **********
    I don?t see anything wrong in principle with discussing the risks and effectiveness of purported ?treatments? of homosexuality. Where we differ is on the quality of the data so far.
    *********

    I think we should carefully examine what we do know about recent therapy outcomes for SGA. I favor a discussion of the LDS data first, but I would be interested to have anyone suggest what they think are the most important studies.

    LDS Family Services: The only data I know of are reported on our web site (www.LDSResources.info). The 2004 data are divided into 200 single and 200 married male clients and involved therapy of 1-3 years which initially involved 800 male clients. Based on LDS persons who voluntarily come to therapy.

    Evergreen: There are two reports on this that I know about. One is on the current Evergreen web site. One is on our site (dated 2004). Both come from leaders of Evergreen. Based on LDS persons who voluntarily came to the LDS Evergreen support group.

    Beverly Shaw (past president of AMCAP–Mormon counselors/psychotherapists) reported on her therapy in the LA area on our site (dated 2004). Based on her LDS clients who voluntarily came to her therapy.

    Nicolosi, Byrd and Potts (2000). This involves 800 plus clients who were cherry picked from all across the country by NARTH among counselors who affiliate with NARTH. In my mind it shows the BEST POSSIBLE outcomes but is nothing like a random sample. Only a small portion were LDS clients…I think about 40-60 even though two of the authors of this study were LDS therapists from Utah. The data on the LDS clients cannot be separted from the larger sample.

    The Ron Schow (1994) study on 136 LDS persons cherry picked at an Affirmation conference. 112 reported their efforts to change. Based on LDS clients (71% RMs) who attended an Affirmation conference. This is not a random sample.

    Lee Beckstead’s 1999 and 2001 studies at the U of U on 50 LDS clients who were in reparative therapy. Based on half the clients who felt they had benefitted from therapy and half who felt they had not. This sample was carefully designed to allow a carefully designed qualitative study.

    So, what other studies would anyone feel should be included?

    I don’t think it makes sense to include the one person here or there who we really know about only by word of mouth and where we have no systematic way to evaluate their outcomes. The studies above involve large samples of 50-100 or more.

    Once we have a consensus on the data/studies that should be included, I will be happy to discuss at least the studies above for a guest post on NorthernLights if L or Ty (or whoever approves guest posts) will allow it

  21. avatar

    Ron Schow

    Borealis

    Alas, your Defabulator with it’s 90% cure rate along with a few negative side effects is not available.

    Yet, my hunch is that at least 90% of those who blog on this site who have SGA would like to be cured of it. For them, this is not a trivial issue. They must decide what their goal is with reference to SGA and how to achieve it.

    What are the options? One might logically say there are three acceptable goals one might accept for this life and remain active within the Church.

    1. Overcome/eliminate SGA behavior AND attractions if that is possible and live basically a heterosexual life

    2.. Overcome/Control SGA behavior and seek to diminish SG attractions.

    3. Overcome/Control SGA behavior and accept the SG attractions as part of one’s life.

    The decision to focus on number 3 is now acceptable because the recent Church pamphlet makes it very clear that “attractions alone do not make you unworthy” and because virtually all here agree that controlling behavior is possible as is also stressed by the new pamphlet.

    Nevertheless, focusing on goals 1 or 2 above might be considered by many who blog here. Outcomes are very crucial to any who choose goals 1 or 2 and the questions are a) is it possible to eliminate SGA and how often does that happen and b) if diminishing SGA is possible how often does that happen and how much diminishment can be expected.

    Once informed, anyone can, of course, ignore the outcomes with the hope of better outcomes in the future, but people are entitled to be informed of what is known from LDS sources.

    I know 12-15 year olds who shoveled snow all winter and saved their money to pay $100s for therapy with the hope that they could eliminate SGA. I know single RMs and those in MOMs who also spent $1000s on therapy. Many have put their time, money and hopes on the line for goals 1 and 2. Some are in the next few months spending major amounts on conferences and weekend retreats. It really is important to know what kind of outcomes can be expected from expensive conferences and retreats.

    Focusing on goal 3 might not require any therapy and it might help people focus on achievable goals if they do enter therapy

    It seems like the least that might be done here is to examine carefully the evidence and see what it suggests.

    I have suggested 6 major sources of evidence on nearly 2000 mostly LDS cases altogether and suggested you offer any other major data you know of that we should consider. I might add another source also before we come up with a final list..

    If you are going to say that we differ on the quality of the data so far, I think you should at least be willing to talk about the LDS data and explain what you think of the quality of the various studies. I don’t believe there has yet been a consideration of all the available data on this site.

    I believe all the LDS data are quite consistent and show basically the same thing but I think it would work better to include more studies if you think there are some I’ve overlooked before we overview the findings.

    I don’t know whether you have read the major studies done at BYU, UofU and USU and in the other literature but I have and propose that we have an enlightened and informed and collegial discussion and examine what we do know for the benefit of those trying to choose from the goals above. When my students get ready to do a dissertation or thesis and answer an important question, the first thing we try to do is make certain we have carefully reviewed everything that is known. That is basically what I’m proposing here.

  22. avatar

    Ron Schow

    Borealis

    You crack me up!!!!

    You have focused our attention in this discussion on the subject of treatment for SGA. In your original post and followup responses you have devoted 18 paragraphs (some rather long) to two (or three–one less developed) completely fictional “treatments” for SGA. In the course of expressing your thoughts on this you pose a number of serious issues with respect to treatment—whether parents should use this for their children, who should be trusted to administer the treatments, and when, etc.

    Your central thesis seems to be this….

    “…why not allow (the person with SGA to) …. determine the course of his own life. Let each be free to show us the fruits of the course he has chosen. …”

    You also suggest science is “acane” and this is a “moral” issue.

    What you seem to be overlooking, is that each person on this blog who is here because of SGA or a loved one who experiences SGA, must actually face these treatment issues. Unlike the question of what caused it (where that matter is way in the past), whether and how to treat SGA with present methods and the outcomes expected is not just fodder for discussion. Many, many here face these questions.

    You further say that….

    “I don?t see anything wrong in principle with discussing the risks and effectiveness of purported ?treatments? of homosexuality. Where we differ is on the quality of the data so far.”

    You then seem to say that, because science is not 100% accurate there is no point in discussing what we know about treatment outcomes..????????

    Where does this leave the person who is trying to decide if they should spend $500 (give or take) on a weekend retreat (or conference) in the next few weeks wherein the LDS organizers are promising certain outcomes???

    What does it say about your intitial suggestion that..” … each (should) be free to show us the fruits of the course he has chosen..”

    We have more than 1000 of our LDS brothers and sisters whose outcomes are known as reported by at least 6 LDS “experienced observers’ …most of whom have spent years gathering these findings from other LDS about the fruits from the courses they have chosen.”

    Are you just “blowing” off the results without even considering them? Is this a head in the sand? Have you actually studied and carefully considered all the relevant data but you refuse to say what you have studied and which studies/reports have the most to recommend them?

    These findings are not those in some clinic in the Midwest or on the East Coast where they were putting unmarried persons in cubicles to practice sex while the therapists watched and coached. These are the strategies used in the last decade or so in our own LDS organizations.

    Does your 5 days of silence following my invitation to examine the data mean you only are willing to consider completely “bogus, hypothetical treatments??” and not willing to consider carefully the recent reports from our own LDS clinicians and scientists who have the same ethical standards you recommend? These scientists believe behavior is controllable and see the advantage of successful methods for those who wish to live the gospel and stay in the Church. They have been watching carefully the position of our Church leaders on the questions surrounding therapy and whether failure in treating SGA means someone is unworthy.

    I am quite amazed by your silence after 18 paragraphs in which you seem to suggest this “SGA treatment topic” is worthy of discussion.

  23. avatar

    Borealis

    Sorry for coming back and responding late. I was on vacation for the past week and away from a computer. It was very refreshing and I recommend it to everyone.

    Ron, you misunderstood if you thought this post was about treating homosexuality. It wasn’t. It was about biological determinism and a rejoinder to those who believe that their sexual activity cannot be controlled.

    I have examined the data you have mentioned, and for reasons I have already elucidated elsewhere, I think it is all seriously flawed. We needn’t go over it here, which isn’t relevant to my post. We can’t wait for perfect data, as you and I both know, but to present the information you have as anything more than preliminary and tentative is to abuse and distort this information. To say otherwise, to say that the data are overwhelming, definitive, or even consistent, is to commit scientific malpractice. They are not.

    The science is arcane in this sense because if we go down this road, as we have before, we will get into a discussion on sample bias, statistical significance, concepts like validity and reliability, measurement of treatment methods, and the even more arcane field of therapeutic outcome research. I can do it, but before long everyone’s eyes would glaze over before long except you and me. It’s too much to expect the average person to be able to follow it, and in this case it’s not worth it, because at the end, anything we could give them would be provisional and incomplete. It could change tomorrow, which WAS the point of this post. We are agreed that no one should feel they must seek psychological treatment for homosexuality, and also that behavior can be controlled. My belief is you should base your decisions about how to behave on something more solid than the research you are citing. You seem also to have missed my point that these data are useful for guiding what treatment you might seek but not whether to seek treatment. The problem with your data, such as it is, is it lumps all of the treatment methods into a single bucket, called “reorientation therapy”. There is no such thing. Even if I did accept your data at face value, it couldn’t tell us whether you should go on that $500 retreat either. If it’ll get you a dose of good mountain air and some time away from these dang computers, then I’d say do it if you can afford it, even if you still come home gay.

    Let’s conclude with what Jesus said when he inserted himself into another “arcane” debate among the scribes:

    Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
    And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
    And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
    And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
    And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:
    For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

  24. avatar

    Ron Schow

    Borealis

    It is apparent that you are going to put your own spin on your post, which is your perfect right. We all know your post talked about treatments for SGA, but if you wish to ignore that, then so be it.

    I think your unwillingness to discuss the evidence is extremely revealing.

    You say,

    “…to say that the data are …even consistent, is to commit scientific malpractice. They are not.”

    In the above sentences you accuse me of malpractice, but I will ignore that because it is simply an unkind and unwarranted attempt to belittle me while insisting on your own superiority in scientific matters.

    Fortunately, 48 hours of fresh air in the mountains does not cost $500 in the parts of Utah and Idaho where I hang out. I feel LDS young men and young women are being taken advantage of, because of those who hide the very evidence you refuse to discuss with me, but that does not seem to be a concern of yours. You want to act as if the available evidence is of no interest to anyone and that for you and me to discuss it on some remote part of the internet would impose a great hardship on someone. Who, I wonder would need to read it if they didn’t want to?

    We can all quote scriptures, in an effort to say God is on my side of this issue, but you should understand that God is on the side of truth and it is apparent our Church leaders have moved away from the position of 15 years ago when positive SGA outcomes were promised IN THIS LIFE to ALL who were worthy. That adjustment in our Church position is EXTREMELY important, but it did not come about by people saying, oh we can’t talk about that. It would be a waste of time. Our Church leaders have been inspired to make this adjustment and they know it is important.

    So you may have the last word on this thread. I promise to say no more in response to your post at this time.

  25. avatar

    When I read what Borealis had written I thought he had accused Ron Schow of malpractice but I dismissed the idea thinking I was reading too much into it.

    But if Ron Schow noticed too…

  26. avatar

    Borealis

    There isn’t too much I would add to this post either, Ron. There are points I feel you still aren’t understanding, but further verbiage is unlikely to change that. Two clarifications are worth a shot, however.

    I wasn’t citing my scripture to prove that I am right and you are wrong. I was making the point that if either of us is trying to say that science (as we understand it) should trump the revealed word of God, then we are wrong. I like what Abraham Lincoln said when he was asked if God was on the side of the North in the Civil War:

    “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

    And that goes for me as much as you. If you thought I was implying otherwise, I apologize.

    The second point of clarification is I am happy to discuss the outcome data with you. I just don’t think here is the place. Since we actually seem to agree on a lot, to have a good debate we have to make sure we formulate a proposition that we can get on opposite sides of. I’ll make a stab at ones I could take one side of, though I can’t say whether you’d take the other side of them.

    One I can think of is, “If an LDS person dealing with homosexual attraction wanted to know whether to undergo reorientation therapy, we could tell him or her with overwhelming confidence, based on currently available information on LDS outcomes, that it doesn’t work. Further outcome data or refinements in reorientation therapy are very unlikely to change this picture materially.”

    I would be happy to take the negative side of that question. I think I could persuasively show that the proposition was not only wrong, but that as formulated it was a serious exaggeration of therapeutic practice in mental health specifically and a distortion of science in general. Since you brought up “unkind and unwarranted,” I think if you or your colleagues at Family Fellowship or the folks at Affirmation tell confused and troubled young gay LDS or their parents this, often in an even more cavalier and derogatory fashion than I have phrased it here, then I think THAT is unkind and unwarranted. It would be safer to just leave questions about outcome data out of it, rather than distorting and overselling a conclusion that could only be tentative and hopelessly bowdlerized anyway. That, by the way, is what I mean by “scientific malpractice.” It’s telling someone that a question is settled when it hasn’t even been properly asked and is a very complicated and difficult one in the first place. Do people on the other side sometimes do the same thing? Yes.

    Or I would be happy to defend the affirmative side of this proposition: “While the data we have so far are preliminary and much of it suffers from serious flaws, we can say with some confidence that among those who freely choose to begin and complete one of the several versions of reorientation therapy available, between 20 and 80 percent of them will see improvement in their symptoms, defined as a reduction in both homosexual behavior and attractions. While we are unhappy with such a wide statistical range, providing a higher degree of precision at this time is unwarranted.”

    Here is one possible place, if we could talk them into it, where we could have this discussion, called the Blogalogue on Beliefnet. Though that’s more generically Christian, so they might find our debate “arcane” as well!

  27. avatar

    Ron Schow

    Borealis

    Since you have asked for a response I will provide it.

    I have no interest in a “debate” and, in fact, my first suggestion was that we talk in a friendly way about existing evidence using any information we would collaboratively choose. (check my earlier response here)
    I am much more interested in consensus than argument. And neither of the propositions you propose as possibly being my position are my position. I may not understand your position, as you note above, but you certainly don’t understand mine. For instance, I surely would not disagree with the idea that up to 80% who enter and complete a therapy program can reduce their homosexual behavior. By the way, I have nothing to do with advice about therapy given at Affirmation or Evergreen. I do have many good friends who are therapists and I strongly support therapy provided by responsible therapists.

    I work with a web site called http://www.LDSResources.info I am looking to see if blogging can be developed on that site and if so maybe we could have some discussions there which would lead to a statement both of us would agree on and feel good about. I will let you know if this can be developed on the site.

    I expect if we were in the same ward working on a ward dinner or going home teaching we’d get along very well. I propose that we keep working to understand each other because this is a difficult topic and requires some patience by both of us.

    All the best to you.

  28. avatar

    “It would be safer to just leave questions about outcome data out of it…” Borealis

    What?!? No way!

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