I was never a fan of JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing). Even as I believe they had good intentions - if ill conceived methods. JONAH is a New Jersey based organization that offers therapy claiming it can change a homosexual’s sexual orientation from gay to straight. As I have said in the past, I believe that in cases where they have been successful, it was not with actual homosexuals but with either bisexuals or those who were confused about their sexual orientation.
I don’t know whether sexual orientation is caused by nature or nurture. But I’m pretty sure that whichever the case may be, once ingrained, it is highly unlikely if not impossible to change which sex you are exclusively attracted to: same or opposite.
I became more opposed to them after reading an account of their ‘therapy’. Chaim Levin described it as one of the most humiliating experiences in his life.
I understand why a gay man or woman might want to undergo such therapy. Even in the age of acceptance, they are still shunned by significant numbers of people. And if a gay man is an Orthodox Jew, he realizes that acting on his inclinations is Halachicly forbidden. There’s lots of motivation in that. But the results of JONAH’s therapy for many of its clients was - failure. Their orientation did not change at all.
A lawsuit was filed against JONAH by some of those former clients. Yesterday the jury handed down a verdict. From the Forward:
In a first-of-its-kind decision, the jury awarded $72,000 to several mostly Jewish victims who said Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing and co-founder Arthur Goldberg made bogus promises that they could ‘cure’ gays…
The jury determined that JONAH violated New Jersey’s consumer fraud law by marketing homosexuality as a mental illness and by claiming that their conversion therapy services could successfully turn a gay person straight – and that they had done so many times before.
I am happy for the litigants. It is very likely that JONAH will be shut down. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has already signed into a law a ban against conversion therapy organizations like JONAH for clients under the age of 18. That is a good thing.
But there is a part of me that says that there may actually be a place for such clinics – if handled by professionals. Because there are bisexuals that can be treated to seek only heterosexual partners – thus avoiding the sin of male to male anal sex that is so common among gay men.
There are also those that are confused about their sexual orientation – having perhaps experimented with gay sex as a teenager. I believe that clinic should be allowed to practice therapy for those people. Why deny them the right to seek a program designed to help them achieve what they want? Provided – as I said – that the people running those programs are mental health professionals trained to do so. And who realize that actual homosexuals will likely not be changed. And make that clear their clients.
All of this said, I am dismayed that we are living in a society – a world – that is determined to normalize gay behavior. This event is yet another cog in that wheel. Mainstream media personalities of all types are sending a message to the public. Which says that gay behavior should not be seen in any kind of negative light. As though they want to write that prohibition out of the bible. That is a problem for me. The gay sexual act of male to male anal intercourse is forbidden by the Torah. No matter how many people want to now ignore that fact. If you believe in the bible, you must believe in that.
I have spilled a lot of virtual ink sympathizing with gay people who feel they are being discriminated against. I have publicly condemned that kind of discrimination. Many times. Gay people have the right to be treated with the same dignity as straight people. Being gay is not a sin. It is only male to male anal sex that is.
But treating a gay lifestyle as normal means normalizing that sin. Which is why I am for example opposed to gay marriage. And yet as the influence of media personalities grows, so too does the abandonment of the biblical commandment against gay sex.
The Supreme Court has just taken another step in that direction. They have ruled in a 5-4 decision that permitting gay marriage should be the law of the land. States prohibiting it would be denying their civil rights - making them guilty of illegal discrimination. States will also be required to recognize the marriage of gay couples married in other states.
This is not a good thing in my view. As I have said many times, there is a difference between treating human beings with dignity regardless of their sexual orientation – and normalizing their lifestyles. I enthusiastically support the former, and I am absolutely opposed to the latter. In my view any bible believing individual ought to feel the same way.