Chuck Colson v. Warren Throckmorton on preventing homosexuality
June 10th, 2011
In an ironic bit of timing, Watergate felon turned conservative Christian commentator Chuck Colson has recently been informing the readers of Crosswalk, a webzine for evangelical Christians, about how fathers cause their sons to be gay and what can be done to prevent it. He began his series with a now-familiar scenario:
A little boy I’ll call “Stevie” was a beautiful, healthy child. But by age five, his parents suspected something was wrong. Stevie loved Barbie dolls, the color pink, and dancing around like a ballerina.
His parents took Stevie to see Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, a psychologist who specializes in gender disorders. Nicolosi listened as they described their son’s fascination with feminine activities, which had begun when he was three. Nicolosi confirmed that Stevie was a “prehomosexual male.” Without intervention, Nicolosi said, Stevie had a 75-percent chance of growing up homosexual, bisexual, or transgender.
Colson’s articles provide a rather simple narrative about homosexuality. “Stevie” failed to adequately link with his father. Jessica had been molested by an uncle and “viewed her mother as weak.” Colson even assures us that liberals don’t really believe what they say “because deep down, most people recognize there is a moral order to the universe.”
And he knows all of this because Chuck Colson has read Dr. Joseph Nicolosi’s book, A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality.
And, yes, that would be the same Dr. Joseph Nicolosi who was on AC360 last night claiming he had no recollection whatsoever of former patient Ryan Kendall (a rather fascinating claim considering that Kendall testified in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial). And, yes, that would be the same A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality that refers to George Rekers over 20 times, and gives special emphasis to the “Kraig” case study.
Dr. Warren Throckmorton, a psychology professor at Grove City College, an evangelical Christian university, has to a large extent assumed the burden of correcting much of the inaccurate information about homosexuality that is promoted within the Christian community. Although a defender of the conservative sexual ethic, Throckmorton does not believe that the debate is enhanced by foolishness, deceit, or baseless assertions.
On June 2, several days before we broke the truth behind George Rekers’ famous “Kraig” study, Throckmorton reminded the Crosswalk readers,
Fighting a political agenda is not a good reason to promote questionable theories. There is currently no scientific consensus about why sexual orientation takes the direction it does. Homosexuality is not strongly related to genetics but that does not mean that parenting is the only alternative non-genetic factor. Other prenatal factors, such hormonal variations during prenatal development, are being investigated and might be a part of the picture. The jury is out with much more research to be done, but what has been done on parenting does not inspire confidence in the claim that distant fathers and smothering mothers create gay men.
After the research by Box Turtle Bulletin and CNN was revealed, Dr. Throckmorton returned to Crosswalk to warn evangelical Christians that theories on preventing homosexuality are not strongly based and may even harm their children.
In their book, A Parent’s Guide, the Nicolosis refer to Kirk as an illustration of Rekers success story. The following description is from Rekers 1974 paper on Kirk’s treatment:
When we first saw him, the extent of his feminine identification was so profound (his mannerisms, gestures, fantasies, flirtations, etc., as shown in his “swishing” around the home and clinic, fully dressed as a woman with long dress, wig, nail polish, high screechy voice, slovenly seductive eyes) that it suggested irreversible neurological and biochemical determinants. At the 26-month follow-up he looked and acted like any other boy. People who view the videotaped recordings of him before and after treatment talk of him as “two different boys”. (p. 38)
Rekers built his career on cases like Kirk’s and others like Nicolosi have used these studies as evidence for the efficacy of their recommendations to parents. As the reports point out, what the doctors reported was at odds with what the family recalls, and may, in some cases, have adverse effects. At the least, parents should exercise caution and ask for additional evidence and get other opinions when considering how to respond to children who display gender non-conforming actions and preferences.
I think it might be fair to say that Colson may regret the timing of his series. And those readers here with a faith background could hardly be faulted for humming the 1771 hymn by William Cowper, “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.”