Sunday, February 03, 2019

Can Gay People Lead Straight Lives?

New York State legislature debates protecting LGBT rights (Washington Times)
When I first learned about what conversion therapy was all about, I was appalled. It seemed to amount to no less than a version of torture for purposes of ‘converting’ people with same sex attraction into people with opposite sex attraction.

Aside from the torturous form of brainwashing that is clearly inhumane it did not seem to work at all on those with clear and unambiguous attraction to members of the same sex. In those cases where it did seem to work it was probably on those that were confused or unsure about their sexuality but may have been straight in actuality. But either way, the treatment was inhumane. No matter how noble the goal of those practitioners was, this not the way to accomplish it.

But what about those people with same sex attraction that want to find ways to live that do not violate their religious beliefs? Should they not have the ability to find psychotherapists that can help them achieve that? For me the answer is very clear. Absolutely they should!  

To be absolutely clear about this, I will repeat what I believe is critical to the well being of people with same sex attractions. They are human beings created in the image of God just like everyone else and to be treated with the same human dignity and respect. What should not be treated with respect is behavior that is in clear violation of the Torah,

As it applies to the specific prohibition in the Torah about gay sex, that should be seen no differently than any other prohibition. As long as a gay person does not openly support that kind of act, he should be treated no differently than a straight person.

That said, as noted above there are gay people that want to have the same thing straight people have. They want to get married and have a family. But their homosexuality gets in the way of that. I’ll bet that there are many gay people that wish they weren’t ‘born’ that way… and could live their lives the same way the vast majority of others live their lives. They know full well that, fair or not, their sexual identities are not accepted in a religious society and therefore they would prefer not being gay.  Where should such a person turn?

It is easy to say that society is wrong and tell him to just be proud off who he is. But no matter how much encouragement they might get from gay activist organizations, they still would prefer if they weren’t gay.  Especially if they are religious.

Many such people learn to just live with who they are and in some cases can thrive as successful human beings. I know of one Orthodox Jew who is open about being gay and chooses to remain celibate. But clearly this does not work for everyone. Most people cannot live celibate lives. I recall reading that the suicide rate among gay people is very high. Despite the heavy push by gay activists to normalize homosexuality in all of its facets.

This is where a decent psychotherapist might help. Not by trying to sooth his conscience and telling him that there is nothing wrong with violating the clear prohibition in the Torah… in essence telling him to reject the archaic ‘man-made’ laws of an ancient Jewish civilization. But by teaching them how to live a normal life, possibly get married and having a family despite a sexuality that prefers members of the same sex. (I know of one gay individual that is married; has children and lives a happily married life.)

That said, the idea of a gay person ignoring his same sex attraction and getting married is a disaster waiting to happen. Unless he does so with the guidance of a trained professional that will know whether they are capable of doing it and when they are ready to do it.

This is where David Schwartz come in. From the Washington Times
A Brooklyn psychotherapist who says he has helped men overcome same-sex attraction is suing New York City over its ban on gay conversion therapy, saying the city’s prohibition is too broad and violates his religious liberty.
David Schwartz has been a professional counselor for 40 years. He is also an Orthodox Jew who says some of his clients — also Orthodox Jews — have been helped by him to resist sexual desires they find incongruent with their faith. 
The problem is that New York has banned any form of conversion therapy. Any professional that attempts to provide therapy to those that seek it - no matter how gentle of benign - in order to live lives congruent with their faith, might be in violation of the law. Dr. Schwartz fears that the severe repercussions New York City’s year old ban against conversion therapy will apply to his benign and in many cases successful form of therapy. So he is not standing idly by: 
Attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian nonprofit that advocates religious freedom, filed a lawsuit Wednesday on Mr. Schwartz’s behalf in the U.S. Eastern District Court of New York.
Dr. Schwartz fears that he may be the target of an enforcement action under the newly enacted Counseling Censorship Law,” the lawsuit states. “This knowledge in turn inevitably chills what should be a free and unfettered confidential conversation between psychotherapist and patient concerning deeply personal feelings and decisions, where candor is crucial.”
The city’s ban defines conversion therapy as “any services, offered or provided to consumers for a fee, that seek to change a person’s sexual orientation or seek to change a person’s gender identity to conform to the sex of such individual that was recorded at birth.” 
It shouldn’t matter whether or not a person is born gay and unchangeable (if that is indeed the case). It should only matter how a person chooses to lead their lives. And if they see their own sexuality as a liability, they should have the right to seek treatment that will enable them to live normal religious  lives despite their feelings. If there is someone that can help them do that, they should have the right to avail themselves to their services, provided of course that we are not talking about torture or brainwashing in any sense. I believe that Dr. Schwartz has demonstrated that he can do that.

There are gay advocates that would nevertheless categorically reject this kind of therapy no matter how benign. They want gay people to live fully unfettered openly gay lives. And disabuse them and the rest of society of their religious bible based beliefs. They would lobby hard for that based on the fact that living a lie is in itself a violation of human dignity.

This is where is part company with them. No one suggests that anyone should live a lie. For those of us that believe in the bible’s admonition against gay sex - it is one thing to treat every human being with equal dignity. It is another to promote a lifestyle that includes the very act that the Torah forbids. And worse - to actively prevent anyone who wishes to do something about it. Because denying someone the right to seek ways to live their lives in consonance with their religious convictions is the biggest violation of human dignity of all.