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And who made you gay? Hmmmm? Could it be…. SATAN!?!

Timothy Kincaid

November 4th, 2011

One of the cleverest characters to have been created for Saturday Night Live was Dana Carvey’s Church Lady. Enid Strict, as host of show-within-a-show Church Chat, would interview guests focusing on their real or imagined failings and attribute them to … (pause for effect) … SATAN!

Her colorful euphemisms (e.g. “naughty parts all engorged and tingling”) and smug superiority made the Church Lady an instant cultural reference point. But the real success of Carvey’s character was based on the recognizable attitudes she espoused. Yes, Church Lady was way over the top, but only slightly more over the top than the very real people on religious television that she parodied.

And it would seem that the Church Lady’s proclivity to see Satan as the personal instigator of all manner of things is still alive and well. Take, for example, an amusing but real illustration out of Massachusetts.

The Pilot Catholic News is “America’s oldest Catholic newspaper” and the “Official Newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston”. And on October 28, the Church shared with us the wisdom of Daniel Avila, a policy adviser at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

I give Avila some credit. He has, after all, accurately articulated the problem that I have with the conservative theology on the matter of sexual orientation.

That is, if God causes same-sex attraction, and yet commands that it not be satisfied, then this is divine cruelty. Or, if God causes same-sex attraction, then it must be the divine will that those with the attraction should act on it and it is the Church that is being cruel in its teaching or at the very least tragically mistaken about what God wants.

Yeah, though I’d use different phrasing, that’s pretty much what I believe. Either the Church is misunderstanding the will of God, or the god they serve is a petty bully delighting in his own cruelty.

But Avila has discovered the flaw in my thinking. As it turns out, sexual orientation is not a naturally occurring phenomenon present in a stable minority of humans and illustrating either God’s intent or His consent. Nope. Avila’s found another culprit.

His logic goes like this: God wants us to be male or female, as evidenced by “male and female genes”. And as same-sex attraction is likely the result of “random imbalances in maternal hormone levels” and “their disruptive prenatal effects on fetal development”, then surely someone is causing those imbalances in order to thwart God’s intent.

And who is it that’s making all those male genes want to design ballgowns and those female genes want to play softball? Hmmmm? Could it be…. SATAN?!?

Why yes. It could.

Catholics do not have the luxury of being materialists. We look for ultimate explanations that transcend the strictly physical world and that stretch beyond our limited ability to mold and reshape reality as we know it. Disruptive imbalances in nature that thwart encoded processes point to supernatural actors who, unlike God, do not have the good of persons at heart.

In other words, the scientific evidence of how same-sex attraction most likely may be created provides a credible basis for a spiritual explanation that indicts the devil. Any time natural disasters occur, we as people of faith look back to Scripture’s account of those angels who rebelled and fell from grace. In their anger against God, these malcontents prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. They continue to do all they can to mar, distort and destroy God’s handiwork.

Therefore, whenever natural causes disturb otherwise typical biological development, leading to the personally unchosen beginnings of same-sex attraction, the ultimate responsibility, on a theological level, is and should be imputed to the evil one, not God.

Well that’s nice. It turns out that you are a product of Satan.

So if you think little Johnny is demon possessed because he’d rather play dolls with his sister than hit her with a toy truck, Avila’s theology is the one for you. And if you beat little Johnny to death because of his demons, well surely the Church can understand your holy stance for righteousness.

And they printed it. Really. The Editors of the Pilot Catholic News (the Official Newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston) didn’t notice any problem with an editorial that claimed gay people were created by the devil.

Well, not until those outside the enclave of the faithful read it and either were horrified or laughed their asses off. Then they recalled that the words they were supposed to use in public were “image and likeness of God” and “inviolable dignity”, not “spawn of Satan”.

Ooopsie

And so a “retraction” was issued.

“Statements made in my column, ‘Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction’ of October 28, do not represent the position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the column was not authorized for publication as is required policy for staff of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The teaching of Sacred Scripture and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church make it clear that all persons are created in the image and likeness of God and have inviolable dignity. Likewise, the Church proclaims the sanctity of marriage as the permanent, faithful, fruitful union of one man and one woman. The Church opposes, as I do too, all unjust discrimination and the violence against persons that unjust discrimination inspires. I deeply apologize for the hurt and confusion that this column has caused.”

I put retraction in quotes because, to me, if you are taking back some truly evil and vile thing you have just said about people, you don’t use the opportunity to “proclaim the sanctity” of denying those people’s rights. That is neither apology or retraction but rather a smug pat on his own back.

And, while I’m at it, I’m sick of the Catholic Church opposing “unjust discrimination.” Guess what, Avila? The distinction between “unjust” discrimination and “just” discrimination isn’t determined by whether or not you want to engage in it. Justice isn’t defined as “what the Church endorses”.

So you can stop doing your little Superior Dance.

And now the latest word is that Daniel Avila has resigned his advisor position. And the church gratefully accepted his resignation.

Which solves everything, doesn’t it?

Sure, except that behind the pretty-speak about being children of God, we know what they really think. Avila is not alone. His column passed the editorial staff without question and he’s received no rebuke from the church.

And the next time the Roman Catholic Church tries to appeal to their moral values to take away civil rights from you and those you love, remember this: they may say that they love you, but that love is the same love they would feel for any other vile creatures created by Satan himself.

Well now, isn’t that special?

- – - -
thanks to Ned for the links and the copy of the original article

The Pilot pulled the opinion piece (who could blame them) but you can read it after the break

Opinion • Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction (part 1)

The Pilot • Daniel Avila • 10/28/2011

More than once I have heard from or about Catholics upset with the Church for its insistence that sexual relations be limited to marriage between husband and wife. Does not this moral rule force people with same-sex attraction into lives of loneliness? If they are born that way, then why should they be punished by a restriction that does not account for their pre-existing condition? God wants everyone to be happy, and for persons with same-sex attraction is not their happiness to be found in the fulfillment of that attraction? Some seek to change the Church’s teaching on marriage or have left the Church because of it. They believe either that God through the Church ignores the needs of people or that the Church misunderstands what God desires.

That is, if God causes same-sex attraction, and yet commands that it not be satisfied, then this is divine cruelty. Or, if God causes same-sex attraction, then it must be the divine will that those with the attraction should act on it and it is the Church that is being cruel in its teaching or at the very least tragically mistaken about what God wants. In either case, the belief that the Church is wrong on this issue starts from a faulty premise. God does not cause same-sex attraction.

The best natural evidence of what God causes and wants for us is our genetic code. Science has isolated certain genetic combinations that are typical to human creation and development. The most basic and the first genetic expression is that which occurs at our conception, when at the same time our individual human life begins our sexual identity as male or female begins. That which is genetically encoded, for believers, points to a codifier, and communicates through its design the codifier’s intent. Interpreting from a spiritual perspective the genetic code which supplies our sexual difference, we have to conclude that God wants us to be male or female.

No one has found a “gay gene.” Identical twins are always, of course, the same sex, providing further proof of male and female genes. If there was a gay gene, then when one twin exhibits same-sex attraction, his or her identical sibling should too. But that is not the case. The incidence of finding identical twins with identical same-sex attraction is relatively rare and certainly not anywhere near one hundred percent. Something other than the hardwiring found in the genetic code must explain the variance.

So what causes the inclination to same-sex attraction if it appears early and involuntarily and “who,” if anyone, is responsible? In determining the answer to the “what” question, the most widely accepted scientific hypothesis points to random imbalances in maternal hormone levels and identifies their disruptive prenatal effects on fetal development as the likely and major cause.

The most recent and most comprehensive discussion of this research is found in a book published earlier this year by a scientist who also happens to be a gay-rights advocate. Even though it discounts other environmental factors that other scientists believe also may play a role, Simon LeVay’s publication, “Gay, Straight and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Attraction” is worth the read.

LeVay is not interested in the “who” question and describes same-sex attraction as just a variation among other human inclinations. Catholics do not have the luxury of being materialists. We look for ultimate explanations that transcend the strictly physical world and that stretch beyond our limited ability to mold and reshape reality as we know it. Disruptive imbalances in nature that thwart encoded processes point to supernatural actors who, unlike God, do not have the good of persons at heart.

In other words, the scientific evidence of how same-sex attraction most likely may be created provides a credible basis for a spiritual explanation that indicts the devil. Any time natural disasters occur, we as people of faith look back to Scripture’s account of those angels who rebelled and fell from grace. In their anger against God, these malcontents prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. They continue to do all they can to mar, distort and destroy God’s handiwork.

Therefore, whenever natural causes disturb otherwise typical biological development, leading to the personally unchosen beginnings of same-sex attraction, the ultimate responsibility, on a theological level, is and should be imputed to the evil one, not God. Applying this aspect of Catholic belief to interpret the scientific data makes more sense because it does not place God in the awkward position of blessing two mutually incompatible realities — sexual difference and same-sex attraction.

If in fact this analysis of causation and culpability is correct, then it opens new perspectives on the Church’s teaching in this area. Being born with an inclination which originates in a manner outside of one’s control is not sufficient proof that the condition is caused by God or that its satisfaction meets God’s purpose. Furthermore, a proper understanding of who is really at fault should deepen our compassion towards those who experience same-sex attraction and inform our response to the question of loneliness. Ultimately, an accurate attribution of responsibility for same-sex attraction frees us to consider more fully the urgent question of why sexual difference matters so much to God. These matters will be addressed in my next column.


Daniel Avila formerly served the Catholic Bishops in Massachusetts and now lives and works in the

Washington, D.C., area.

Comments

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Brian
November 4th, 2011 | LINK

I find it highly telling about US culture right now that it is a TV comedian who values, supports, celebrates and nurtures our loves and lives (I refer to Conan O’Brien) and it is the church who mocks and scorns us.

The depth of my disgust for Avila and his ilk is beyond words.

A reader
November 4th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, you allege “an editorial that claimed gay people were created by the devil”, “spawn of Satan” and “vile creatures created by Satan himself”.

Daniel Avila’s editorial did not make those claims. Rather, he spoke of how he thought “same-sex attraction” might be created, referring to Satan and “angels who rebelled and fell from grace” (not to be confused with same-sex attracted human persons) who he said “mar, distort and destroy God’s handiwork”.

Gregory Peterson
November 4th, 2011 | LINK

“My friend,” replied [Father] Brown, with equal seriousness, “there is one mark of genuine religions, materialism. Now devil worship is a perfectly genuine religion.”

From the G. K. Chesterton short story, “The Honour of Israel Gow.”

Dan
November 4th, 2011 | LINK

@ A reader: You’re splitting hairs. In practice, there’s no difference between saying gay people are created by Satan and saying homosexuality is created by Satan.

DN
November 4th, 2011 | LINK

I love these kinds of apologies. I only accept apologies when something was done accidentally, or when something was done maliciously but there has been real atonement afterward.

This is neither.

This is “oh woops, we shouldn’t have published that.”

But think about it. Daniel Avila wrote this. He drafted it, rewrote it a couple times (if he’s any good), edited it himself, then sent it to his editors, who took a look at it, thought about it, and decided that it fit with the editorial voice of their publication.

This was not an accident. And I don’t see any atonement.

Apology (or retraction) not accepted.

A reader
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

Dan,

Daniel Avila’s editorial did not claim what Timothy alleged that it claimed, even if it’s your “practice” to put a bag over your head and pretend it did.

Scratching a Chevrolet is not the same as creating a scratched Chevrolet. If you have the bag over your head, you might not fully appreciate the difference, but there is far more to a scratched Chevrolet than the scratch. The scratch was made by a hoodlum, but the Chevrolet was not. Not even the scratched Chevrolet was made by the hoodlum. Only the scratch.

It is not “splitting hairs” to remind of this. Rather, it’s good practice. And so, in good practice, we remind of the difference.

TomTallis
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

Let’s start an office pool: How many days before NOM announces that Avila has been added to its staff.

I don’t believe for a nanosecond that the bishops cut him loose without arranging for some other position first.

jutta
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

@A reader:
“The scratch was made by a hoodlum, but the Chevrolet was not. Not even the scratched Chevrolet was made by the hoodlum. Only the scratch.”

A scratch is on the surface. You can repair a scratch without damaging the car. But you cannot “repair” homosexuality without seriously damaging the person. Same-sex attraction is an integral part of the personality and it is there from a very early stage of life (a fact that Avila acknowledges, by the way), so saying that gay people were not created by the devil, just those integral parts of their personal existences were created by the devil *is* splitting hairs (or worse).

Argo
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

jutta, I’d go so far as to say that some people are so busy looking for scratches to repair that they don’t realize it’s a mint Ford, not the damaged Chevrolet they think it is.

Shofixti
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

Hi a reader,

Personhood is a difficult thing to define, and sexuality is a problematic concept to compartmentalise as you have. Sexuality is not a patch of skin, which may be scratched or unscratched as per your analogy. You are liable to cause grief should you insist on prescribing homosexuality as a surface affair.

The problem Avlia sets up is that absolutely any biological imperfection (no matter if it is caused by gene, chromosome, hormone or other event) can be ultimately preempted by a theological explanation that positions Satan as its root cause.

This view is fundamentally inauthentic for a Catholic. It is also faintly eugenic. Anyway – the statement has been appropriately retracted and denied as authentically Catholic so there’s not much more to say about it.

Ian
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

The omnipotent/omnipresent/omniscient God did not prevent the devil(and rebellious angels) from marring/distorting/destroying His handiwork.
Tells me what God thinks of their actions already, or what God think of us as His handiwork.

A reader
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

Jutta,

I did not say that same-sex attraction, or “homosexuality” as you may be calling it, is a “scratch”, just like I did not say that you are a Chevrolet, nor was it ever the intention to imply such a thing, nor do I imply such a thing.

Likewise, I did not speak of “repair”, nor did Daniel Avila’s editorial or Timothy’s post. “Repair” is a side issue that you have raised, and whether or not “homosexuality” can be “repaired” by some “ex-gay” program in no way refutes what I’ve said. It’s a sideshow.

Over at the sideshow, you write, “you cannot ‘repair’ homosexuality without seriously damaging the person.” That might be your belief, and indeed, it may even be the experience of many in the past, but as a negative claim, it cannot be proven, only disproven — if it were a well-defined and measurable claim, which it is not. “Repair”, “homosexuality” and “seriously damaging” are poorly defined terms of your claim that are generally very subjective in nature. For example, there are many people who report having significantly reduced homosexual desires than they formerly experienced. Does that count? We also have reports of people who had engaged in significant homosexual activity in the past but who no longer do so and are exclusively heterosexual in their sexual activities. Does that count? I think many such reports are likely true, even if there are others that are not. And there are many such reports that involve no “seriously damaging” experiences, or at least not more “seriously damaging” than things that happened during their so-called “homosexual lifestyle”.

But for discussion sake, I’ll continue to address your claim a bit more, namely, “who” can’t repair homosexuality and “when”. In light of the fact that the article addresses a religious editorial on a Catholic website, allow me to point out that an omnipotent being central to Catholicism can/could, by definition, do anything, including to “repair homosexuality”. And so, by “you”, perhaps you mean someone else, like mere mortals limited to medical science and pseudo-science as of the year 2011.

You write, “Same-sex attraction is an integral part of the personality and it is there from a very early stage of life”. According to what is called medical science, there are many disorders that are considered to be “an integral part of the personality”, and often from an early stage of life, personality disorders in particular, and they are often very difficult to treat, if they can be treated much at all. And thus, that something is “an integral part of the personality from a very early stage of life”, and difficult or even practically impossible to treat or “cure”, does not mean it is not considered to be a disorder. And indeed, the Catholic Church considers a homosexual inclination to be “objectively disordered”, and that means it is disordered regardless of whether you think it’s normal, natural, or “an integral part of the personality”. Indeed, many if not most people with personality disorders also consider their disorders to be simply an integral part of the way their persons were made to be.

Returning to your “splitting hairs”, allow me to once again remind that the article addresses a religious editorial on a Catholic website. And thus, unless the editorial explicitly stated to the contrary or is impossible to otherwise reconcile on a particular point, it is to be understood in accordance with Catholic teaching, even if one does not agree with Catholic teaching, where it is not “splitting hairs” to remind that all men are created by God and no man (“gay” or otherwise) is created by Satan. The retraction/apology makes a point to remind, “The teaching of Sacred Scripture and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church make it clear that all persons are created in the image and likeness of God and have inviolable dignity.” Not “spawn of Satan” or “vile creatures created by Satan himself”, etc.

William
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

If there is a God, I see no reason to suppose that a minority of the human race being homosexual is anything other than his intention. But if I am wrong and homosexuality is caused by the devil – assuming that such an entity exists – I can only conclude that, in this respect at least, “the devil is neither so black nor so wicked as he is generally represented.”

A reader
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

Shofixti,

You write that “personhood is a difficult thing to define”. Yes, unless perhaps one is God. Reportedly, that is why there are religious teachings to assist understanding.

You write, “sexuality is a problematic concept to compartmentalise as you have”. No, I have not compartmentalized it, and as Catholic teaching reminds, “Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul.” You have erred in your understanding of the analogy if you think I was saying that disordered sexuality is a superficial scratch or “surface affair”. No analogy demonstrates the original in all respects, nor was it intended to.

As to “the statement has been appropriately retracted and denied as authentically Catholic”, the retraction is light on specifics. It vaguely states, “Statements made in my column… do not represent the position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops” and refers to an unspecified “theological error” without detail. It does not clarify or identify which “statements” or the “theological error”. There are many statements that Catholics can make that are not so-called “positions” of the USCCB; the USCCB is not the authority on what is “authentically Catholic”; and one may also question various postings on the Pilot, including retractions. Neither the original editorial nor the retraction are infallible pronouncements or highly placed teaching documents, and the only actual name attached to it is Daniel Avila’s, though there is also an unnamed “editor’s note” on the retraction.

Joel
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

A reader,

How is homosexuality a disorder?… i fail to see the disorder or if it simply means, not ordered in the same manner as heterosexuals, which would mean it is just different.

The most commonly used approach to it being bad, if by disorder you imply something that is reasonably wrong, is that it purports to eliminate existance(AKA, no procreation). I will briefly address it in the hopes that it is answered before being raised. All advances in medicine aside, gay people can still procreate if necessary, even if we naturally dont want to. But thanks to science we no longer need to insert our sword into their sheath.

Imagine a world full of gays, necessity would derive that we set up means by which to procreate so our species does not die out. However, this is not the case.

A reader
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

Joel, I think if you read the retraction, you might get an idea of what the Catholic Church teaches as relating to ordered sexuality: “the permanent, faithful, fruitful union of one man and one woman”. And thus, for example, an inclination to have sex with animals, or with persons of the same sex, or anal sex, or masturbation, etc. would be disordered as would the associated acts. So too, artificial insemination, use of surrogates, etc.

And so even if you “set up means by which to procreate so our species does not die out”, and you succeeded in that sense to maintain the species, the sexual acts would still be immoral if not ordered through “the permanent, faithful, fruitful union of one man and one woman”, as would all the other acts not in accord with the “order”.

You might call it “just different” if you see things differently. And I respect that not everyone sees it as the Catholic Church professes it to be.

I also appreciate that in fact much good comes from same-sex couples and “gay” persons, their loving relationships, and their many contributions to society. And whatever the Big Plan may be, if you might think there is such a thing, it would seem to me that these things would all be a part of it, as would everything, including any disorder and immoral acts that would occur temporarily along the way. And that is what the Catholic Church teaches too, even if the message gets horribly garbled a lot of the time. Even wrongdoing can serve a useful purpose.

William
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

Although most people have a heterosexual orientation, a minority have a homosexual one, so their natural inclination is to form sexual and romantic relationships with people of their own sex. What’s so difficult to accept about that?

Some people’s sexual orientation is fluid and may therefore change; most people’s, and certainly most men’s, is not. The evidence that a change of sexual orientation can be deliberately engineered (e.g. by an “ex-gay” program) is flimsy in the extreme.

If some people “report having significantly reduced homosexual desires than they formerly experienced”, and if there are others “who had engaged in significant homosexual activity in the past but who no longer do so and are exclusively heterosexual in their sexual activities”, that’s fine, but no-one has any moral obligation to strive for either eventuality. Being gay is neither an illness nor a disorder and does not need correcting. There is only one reason why a gay person should perpetually abstain from gay sex, and that is that it is what he/she genuinely prefers and has freely chosen – NOT because it is what some other person or institution wants.

The Vatican’s teaching on the subject is based on the naïve and gratuitous assumption that in a perfect world uniformity would reign, and everyone would be heterosexual. Such teaching has no social value.

Priya Lynn
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy said “And, while I’m at it, I’m sick of the Catholic Church opposing “unjust discrimination.””.

Yes, that one’s one of my pet peeve’s as well. What a bunch of A*holes pretending to be moral.

“A reader” said “Scratching a Chevrolet is not the same as creating a scratched Chevrolet.”.

As your god is defined as all powerful and all knowing he knew the Chevy would be scratched when he created it and could have prevented that. If your god had wanted things to be different they would have been. Your god wanted the chevy scratched and all the evil that exists in the world. The world is exactly as your god wants it or he would have changed it.

“A reader said “there are many people who report having significantly reduced homosexual desires than they formerly experienced. Does that count? We also have reports of people who had engaged in significant homosexual activity in the past but who no longer do so and are exclusively heterosexual in their sexual activities.”.

Restricting oneself to heterosexual sex does not make one heterosexual. Its a virtual certainty that all such folks were bisexual to begin with and are still bisexual. And of course NONE of those who’ve claimed to have significantly reduced same sex attractions have been willing to subject themselves to testing to prove their exceptional claims – there’s a reason for that, they’re lying. As virtually every “ex-gay” is deeply religious it is highly likely that many or even most making such claims believe it is a sin to allow people to believe one cannot come to Jesus by changing one’s sexual orientation.

Ned Flaherty
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

The Roman Catholic bishops pulled the article for one reason only: they do not possess even a shred of the “scientific evidence” that the author claimed he had (but refused to cite).

And note the double-speak in their “retraction”: the bishops and their employee admitted that the original article is NOT Catholic teaching, but they refused to say what IS Catholic teaching, or what has changed now that the original article is being denied.

Ultimately, nothing has changed.

The Catholic bishops still believe everything in the original article, except that they just don’t want to get caught claiming a laboratory full of “scientific evidence” when they know there’s none to be had.

Ben In Oakland
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

Damn,m I’m getting confused about what causes homosexuality.

First its our broken and fallen world, where everyone would be straight if it just weren’t for sin… and if everyone were straight.

Then it’s an intrinsic tendency towards grave moral evil, although banging little boys when you’re supposed to be a celibate– a gift from god, as it were– apparently is neither intrinsic nor a grave moral wevil, just a little giving in to temptation.

Then it’s the result of a weak or absent father and a strong, dominant mother– at least for men.

Then it’s a hormonal imbalance in gay people.

Then it’s a hormonal imbalance in their mothers– at least for men, but maybe or maybe not for women.

Then it’s the devil causing hormonal imbalances. Of course, how do you determine whether this unfound unamed, and unmapped hormonal imbalance is caused by the devil, or just is natural hormonal imbalance. How do you know it’s an imbalance, and what the proper balance is, or even what balance mreans in this case.

Then it’s a choice we make every day, just like the chambers pot calling the gay kettle black, excpet the opposite.

then its becuase we willfully and sinfully reject god’s plan.

Then it’s genetic, but maybe not.

Then it’s hardwired into us, according to Francis collins– except when it’s not.

Then its about not having masculine identities (for men)– can’t you just do some pushups or sumpin?

Then it’s all about how my mother made me a homosexual. But don’t bother with giving her the yarn. she won’t make you a homosexual, too, even if you pound her head with a tennis racket.

Then it’s about HAVING masculine identities– for women.

I’m pretty sure i didn’t miss any.

But this get’s very confusing to a ratinal mind like mine, because I start coming to the conclusion that none of these people have slightest idea of what they are talking about.

It remuinds me of what Wardell Pomeroy, co-authorof the kinsey studies, said to me some 30 years ago.

“More nonsnese has been written on the subject of homosexuality than any other subject in the history of man, except for the nature of god.”

tristram
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

In what respect is Avila not simply stating a perfectly plausible theory that is totally consistent with current RCC theology as articulated and enforced by Pope Benedict and espoused by Avila’s (former) employer, the Council of Bishops?

I was looking forward to Part II of Avila’s article; it will be interesting to see if it gets published.

William
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

Actually, Ned, the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, although it has not committed itself to any particular theory of the cause(s) of homosexuality (or of sexual orientation in general), is quite clear:

“Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.
“Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition [sic] lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.”

“It is only in the marital relationship that the use of the sexual faculty can be morally good. A person engaging in homosexual behaviour therefore acts immorally.”
– JOSPEH CARDINAL RATZINGER (Now Pope Benedict XVI), Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons #3, #7

“Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
– Catechism of the Catholic Church #2357

It is this kind of pernicious nonsense that must have blighted the lives of countless gay Catholics. Here is just one example from an Irish gay Catholic:

“I was 19 when I was in the Church and I heard one of Ratzinger’s statements read out. I went home and attempted to kill myself. Only my mother found me in time [or] I would now be dead.”

carol
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

Thanks for the laugh and bringing back the “church lady”.

ZRAinSWVA
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

““I was 19 when I was in the Church and I heard one of Ratzinger’s statements read out. I went home and attempted to kill myself. Only my mother found me in time [or] I would now be dead.”

Yeah, I understand. I was thirteen when our priest gave a sermon on the sins of homosexuality. I knew I couldn’t change, and then suddenly it didn’t matter: no matter how good I was or tried to be, I was a sinner.

It was then that the drugs and alcohol and sexual exploits began. After all, what did it matter what I did?

I am ex-Catholic and survived, thankfully. In many respects. The church can crumble and die for all I care.

tristram
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

While it might look like the Bishops threw Avila under the bus, shed to tears. The Vatican takes care of its own:

http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1378486

William – thanks for the cogent summary of RCC theology on the issue of homos. Anyone with a couple of minutes and a strong stomach should Google “Ratzinger and homosexuality” and read his entire directive – right down to the details instructing Catholic legislator how to vote and telling Catholic schools and colleges not to allow GSAs or other depraved organizations to meet on their property.

tristram
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

“shed no tears.”

Timothy Kincaid
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

For example, there are many people who report having significantly reduced homosexual desires than they formerly experienced. Does that count?

No there aren’t. There are a tiny handful who claim some “change”. but as for significant change, those people exist only in the pronouncements of anti-gay politicians and religious zealots.

We also have reports of people who had engaged in significant homosexual activity in the past but who no longer do so and are exclusively heterosexual in their sexual activities. Does that count?

Count as what?

Not for change in orientation, no.

A reader
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

William, you write, “a minority have a homosexual one, so their natural inclination is to form sexual and romantic relationships with people of their own sex. What’s so difficult to accept about that?”

Anything can be called “natural” and anyone can express an opinion. Do you find that difficult? What you call natural, someone else calls un-natural. Are you both right? Is it the common “I’m right, you’re wrong”? Or is there a higher standard.

You write, “Some people’s sexual orientation is fluid and may therefore change; most people’s, and certainly most men’s, is not.”

As there is no universally accepted definition of “sexual orientation”, it’s always as fluid as anyone chooses it to be. Many people view “sexual orientation” as a contrivance with no more permanence than one’s thinking of the moment.

And anyone can mouth words like “genuinely” and “freely”, but what is the standard? Your opinion?

If you’ve already defined yourself as a “gay man” and denied that you can or should change, where is the freedom in that?

Richard Rush
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

A reader said, “Many people view “sexual orientation” as a contrivance with no more permanence than one’s thinking of the moment.”

The only people with that view are those immersed in a fantasy world of Magic Facts and Magic Truth. Yes, there are many such people, and you, apparently, are one of them, or you couldn’t have said this: “If you’ve already defined yourself as a “gay man” and denied that you can or should change, where is the freedom in that?” Or was that intended to be a joke?

A reader
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

Priya, you write, “If your god had wanted things to be different they would have been.”

What authority have you to speak for me or for any “god”? Who says this “all powerful and all knowing” being must conform to your thinking?

You write, “Restricting oneself to heterosexual sex does not make one heterosexual. Its a virtual certainty that all such folks were bisexual to begin with and are still bisexual.”

Again, who anointed you the judge of their “sexual orientation”?

You write, “And of course NONE of those who’ve claimed to have significantly reduced same sex attractions have been willing to subject themselves to testing to prove their exceptional claims – there’s a reason for that, they’re lying.”

You might lie all you want, but there is no accepted, validated test for sexual orientation or same-sex attraction. Nevertheless, the behavior of many of these people, both before and after, as reported by credible witnesses conforms to the persons’ reported changes in same-sex attraction.

You write, “As virtually every ‘ex-gay’ is deeply religious it is highly likely that many or even most making such claims believe it is a sin to allow people to believe one cannot come to Jesus by changing one’s sexual orientation.”

You speak from ignorance. There are many so-called “ex-gays” who were anti-religious before and during their change, who openly denied that they had to change their “sexual orientation” in order to “come to Jesus”, and indeed who continue to say that they do not have to change their “sexual orientation”, who do not to this day go to church or sing kumbaya. You can say it’s not true all you want, but I personally do know that such people exist. I know that they have changed. And so do other people. We know it to be so even if you don’t accept it.

Are such persons typical of “ex-gays”? Again, there is no accepted definition of “ex-gays”. There is no database of all “ex-gays”. They may not be typical of the “ex-gays” you read about on a forum like Box Turtle, but they exist nonetheless, quietly and unseen by you.

Where did you get the idea that an “all powerful and all knowing” is dependent on your notion of how things work?

A reader
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

Richard Rush, it wasn’t a joke. I offered a question that is often posed to “gay” people. No “magic” is required.

Graham
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

A Reader,

You write

“What authority have you to speak for me or for any “god”? Who says this “all powerful and all knowing” being must conform to your thinking?”

Well it seems awfully cruel of this god to saddle some with being gay(or allow them to be so saddled) and then tell them that in seeking the kind of romantic love that is a vital need for most people at some point in their life they are being evil or sinful or whatever.

But, come to think of it, that’s a big part of the whole religion. Human nature and the human condition are bad, and in fact you have to apologize for being born in the first place because you were bad from the beginning because the lady ate the apple she wasn’t supposed to, at the behest of the talking snake. Yep, that does seem to square with the general gist of the Christian dogma.

You write,
“Again, who anointed you the judge of their “sexual orientation”?

No one is an authority of sexual orienation. It’s just a term for ones sexual attractions; a term with an accepted definition. I guess if you need an authority the APA does provide one in the diagnostic and statisitical manual. Priya’s just using that definition, the correct one.

You write,
“You might lie all you want, but there is no accepted, validated test for sexual orientation or same-sex attraction.”

No accepted, validated test pherhaps, but there are tests none the less. One involves putting the suject in one of those brain scanning devices, an MRI or CAT scan, I’ve forgotten which one, and exposing them to erotic images of both genders, and of course since the device measures brain activity, we can see which one they respond to.Un suprisingly, gay patients brains are stimulated by images of the same gender, straight by the opposite gender. If there were an example of a person whose brain exhibited gay response in such a test before ex-gay so-called therapy, and straight after in a second test, then you would have at least something to present in the way of evidence. Until you can produce something like that, all you have is “reporting”; which we all know can and often is done to placate those who wish this “treatments” to be sucessfull.

You write
“Nevertheless, the behavior of many of these people, both before and after, as reported by credible witnesses conforms to the persons’ reported changes in same-sex attraction.”

Well, often gay men and women report their orientation as heterosexual, and exhibit heterosexual behavior, without ever having gone through ex-gay anything. Later they come out and reveal it was all a front. Likewise, there are innumerable examples of those who go through the ex-gay regime and then exhibit heterosexual behavior report heterosexual orienation, only to reveal later that that was all a front. So obviously if someone says they were gay but are now engaging in straight relations and saying they are straight, the latter can’t really be taken at face value.

You write
“You speak from ignorance. There are many so-called “ex-gays” who were anti-religious before and during their change, who openly denied that they had to change their “sexual orientation” in order to “come to Jesus”, and indeed who continue to say that they do not have to change their “sexual orientation”, who do not to this day go to church or sing kumbaya. You can say it’s not true all you want, but I personally do know that such people exist. I know that they have changed. And so do other people. We know it to be so even if you don’t accept it.”

Wheather anyone “accepts” it or not is irrelevant. You must produce evidence. Unless you have something from a reputable university or other such institution to back up your claims, these are just anecdotes that for all we know, you could just be making up.

And how exactly is it that you know they have changed? Are you psychic? Can you see inside their brains and verify the heterosexual attractions first-hand?

Graham
November 5th, 2011 | LINK

As there is no universally accepted definition of “sexual orientation”, it’s always as fluid as anyone chooses it to be.

Maybe not a universally accepted one, but the validity of a scientific term in terms of its accurately describing something doesn’t hinge on it being accepted by everyone. You can find the definition of sexual orientation in the APA’s diagnostic and statistical manual, I believe.

“Many people view “sexual orientation” as a contrivance with no more permanence than one’s thinking of the moment.”

Regardless of what many people’s view is, the reality of sexual orienation is what it is. Many people used to view the sun as revolving around the earth.

A reader
November 6th, 2011 | LINK

Graham, you write, “sexual orientation [is] a term for ones sexual attractions; a term with an accepted definition.”

That’s a shell game. Neither “sexual orientation” nor “sexual attractions” is well-defined, and it is not “accepted” other than, if at all, in a vague, ill-defined, subjective way.

You write that “there are tests none the less”, and indeed anyone can make whatever test he/she pleases. You can make some up yourself.

You say that “gay patients brains are stimulated by…”, but who said they’re “gay patient brains”? It’s the tail wagging the dog.

You say “all you have is reporting”, but an MRI image and other instrument readings are also reportings. And again, like any report, it must be interpreted to have meaning. Testing has also found that machines and most particularly, their interpreters can be and are unreliable. There is no such test accepted as valid and reliable.

You allege, “which we all know can and often is done to placate those who wish this treatments to be successful.”

Even machine tests can be manipulated by the person being examined, and it is said to be not unusual. Perhaps you missed it, but I said that the reporting is supported by witnesses for validation purposes. And, fact of the matter, those witnesses were independent as far as anyone knows, blind to the so-called “program” and often quite “actively gay” / “pro gay”.

You write, “You must produce evidence.” No, I don’t. If you want evidence, that’s what you want. I’m not looking for evidence, and the people who have changed didn’t need any evidence in order to change, because they never had any evidence before they changed.

You write, “for all we know, you could just be making up”. Yup. Sure could be. Fact of the matter, you’re in the same position as all the people who have changed. They were “non-believers”. They had no evidence they trusted.

You ask, “how exactly is it that you know they have changed? Are you psychic? Can you see inside their brains and verify the heterosexual attractions first-hand?”

I listen and observe behavior in a wide variety of situations over time, sometimes decades. I very much doubt they were trying to fool me. Did I not tell you? They didn’t have to have an “I want to be straight” agenda, and none reported having any such agenda, at times laughing at the notion, deriding people who’d claim they could change. They lived their lives however they pleased, “gay” as they wanted, and that changed over time.

You write, “the validity of a scientific term in terms of its accurately describing something doesn’t hinge on it being accepted by everyone”.

“Sexual orientation” is a subjective term with a subjective definition, and so it’s so-called “validity” is subjective. It’s hardly “scientific”.

You write, “you can find the definition of sexual orientation in the APA’s diagnostic and statistical manual, I believe.”

You can believe what you want. The DSM is a manual for diagnosing mental disorders. A sexual orientation is not classified as a mental disorder, and so there is no criteria in the DSM for diagnosing it. The DSM regularly changes over time because it is continually found to be NOT “correct” and/or… vague, misleading, imprecise, subjective, etc. The DSM is not a recipe book. It is a rather vague/sketchy manual that different clinicians read and use in different ways, even though they may all read the same words.

You mention the APA, but the APA membership at large have a variety of opinions in regard to “sexual orientation”. In various writings, the APA uses a variety of vague, subjective and often contradictory phrases (e.g. when one phrase is compared with another) when describing what some people call “sexual orientation”. Just one example of the vague subjectiveness: “an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes”. Can we get any more ill-defined?

You write, “the reality of sexual orienation is what it is”. When you’re not shell swapping, you are saying nothing.

Eric in Oakland
November 6th, 2011 | LINK

“Anything can be called “natural” and anyone can express an opinion. Do you find that difficult? What you call natural, someone else calls un-natural. Are you both right? Is it the common “I’m right, you’re wrong”? Or is there a higher standard.”

Of course there is a higher standard. It is called science. The scientific method is the most reliable means of understanding the world that we have available.

Differing opinions about observable events are only equally valid if they are equally supported by scientific evidence. Such is not the case in this instance. Clearly, if something is known to occur in nature it must be natural. Isn’t that the definition of natural? Since homosexuality has been observed to occur in numerous species, in what sense could it be described as unnatural?

Cory Sampson
November 6th, 2011 | LINK

Clearly it’s unnatural, because the species homo sapiens has never been observed performing homosexu-

Wait a minute…

Neil
November 6th, 2011 | LINK

@A Reader:
According to the Mirriam-Webster Medical Dictionary, orientation refers to “a usually general or lasting direction of thought, inclination, or interest”. If you supply the adjective sexual you get “an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions” to quote the APA.

It’s all rather elementary. You appear to be investing your efforts into making something relatively straight forward sound slippery and illusive. Witness your attempts to cast all knowledge no matter how it’s acquired as relative to subjective claims made at any given moment. It’s difficult to rely on subjective claims. There are many “ex-gays” who state they’ve changed sexual orientation only to admit later they were kidding themselves. There’s an enormous social pressure on people to deny homosexual orientation.

You say,”Even machine tests can be manipulated by the person being examined”. The idea that data from brain scans should be thought no better than subjective reportage because subjects might fake their brain waves sounds like a rather desperate claim.

You go on to say, “Testing has also found that machines and most particularly, their interpreters can be and are unreliable. There is no such test accepted as valid and reliable.”

This claim is so sweeping as to be meaningless. Perhaps you’d like to explain the invalidity and unreliability of this study: http://www.ajnr.org/content/29/10/1890.full

A reader
November 6th, 2011 | LINK

Eric in Oakland,

You write, “Of course there is a higher standard. It is called science. The scientific method is the most reliable means of understanding the world that we have available… Differing opinions about observable events are only equally valid if they are equally supported by scientific evidence.”

As terms of language, even “science” and the “scientific method” may have many meanings and interpretations, including those by which your statements are false / not always true. For example, the “scientific method” is often spoken of as having no (material) visibility or testability into the supernatural, whether that be a supernatural world, supernatural being or supernatural whatever, including as the supernatural may relate to visible phenomena in the material world. Thus, your statement that “Differing opinions about observable events are only equally valid if they are equally supported by scientific evidence” would not be true as regards supernatural issues, including those relating to a “higher standard”.

Alternatively, adopting a “scientific method” that incorporated supernatural methods could/would have scientists of one religion making claims that scientists of other religions (or atheists) would not support. There’d be no “consensus” until such time as the religionists and atheists unified their belief systems.

Moreover, even in regard to the material universe, your claim is not true if by “valid” we mean “true/based in truth regardless of the amount of evidence currently collected” rather than simply going in the circle of “valid” meaning “supported by scientific evidence currently collected”. In that way, for example, it is valid to say that Jack is innocent, and indeed more valid than to say Jack is guilty, if in fact Jack is innocent, even though we may not have a shred of scientific evidence at the moment to support the claim that Jack is innocent, regardless of the amount of evidence that might have been collected supporting that Jack is guilty. As such, one needn’t have the scientific evidence in hand in order to validly state the truth, and a statement of the truth would not be less valid, no matter how much evidence we may or may not have, than a statement of falsehood, even if may have buckets of evidence in support of the falsehood. And thus, even in regard to the material world, the scientific method does not establish what is and what is not valid, nor always tell us what is “likely” to be true, nor provide us with a reliable “higher standard”. Rather, it is a tool for exploration, a tool whose own reliability and assumptions have not been established long term, considering how short a few hundred years are in the grand scheme of time.

You write, “if something is known to occur in nature it must be natural. Isn’t that the definition of natural?”

Yes and no. That is “a” definition of “natural”, and it might be “the” definition that you are using, but the language is not limited to words having but one meaning, nor has the word “natural” historically been limited to that meaning, nor does that meaning properly apply to the editorial article and much of the discussion. Indeed, the word has other meanings, including, for example, “as made/ordered by God” and “not affected by man or by civilization”, which means nothing man has affected in any way is natural. Thus, according to an interpretation of what is called the “observer effect”, where man’s act of observation has an effect upon the phenomenon being observed, if that be the case, then it is hard to say that anything observed is “natural” in that sense of the word. And of course, Christianity holds that nature was fundamentally disturbed by man in the Fall (Adam & Eve story), including our ability to properly observe, to see clearly. And so again, it may be said that just because something apparently occurs in what we might call “nature” today does not necessitate that it is “natural” as relates to the pure, original, “higher” order/nature that predates man, as ordered by God.

And for that, people turn to religion. Material science can, of course, be supportive to the extent valid evidence may exist, but when religion decrees that material science cannot override infallible religious dogma, whatever science may find that seemingly appears to contradict such dogma must be wrong, or perhaps, simply in need of proper reinterpretation so as to be in agreement with dogma. Not surprisingly, religion is oft called the Queen of Sciences.

You write, “Since homosexuality has been observed to occur in numerous species, in what sense could it be described as unnatural?”

See my earlier paragraph. Many religions hold that homosexuality is not in accord with the original/true order and nature of man and the world, regardless of any appearance of naturalness that homosexuality may appear to have in its observed occurrence today (or yesterday, or last century, or thousands of years ago) — and is thus un-natural. As the saying goes, “do not judge by appearances”.

A reader
November 6th, 2011 | LINK

Neil, you write, “If you supply the adjective sexual you get…”

No, I don’t get the phrase you claim when I add the adjective “sexual”. I tried adding it many different ways, but it simply does not create the phrase you allege. Maybe you get the phrase you allege after you add your subjective interpretation into the mix. I don’t add that, and so what I get is only another vague, subjective, poorly defined shell game, which takes us back where we started.

You write, “Witness your attempts to cast all knowledge no matter how it’s acquired as relative to subjective claims made at any given moment”.

Witness whose interpretation that is.

You write, “There are many ‘ex-gays’ who state they’ve changed sexual orientation only to admit later they were kidding themselves. There’s an enormous social pressure on people to deny homosexual orientation.”

There are many “ex-gays” who stated they were “gay” only to admit later they were kidding themselves. They don’t care if there’s enormous social pressure to not believe in the Tooth Fairy, homosexual orientation or whatever. They’ve already been there and done that years ago when they’d previously alleged they were “gay”.

You write, “The idea that data from brain scans should be thought no better than subjective reportage because subjects might fake their brain waves sounds like a rather desperate claim.”

That’s your idea, and if it “sounds like a rather desperate claim” to you, then it is a subjective “desperate” interpretation of yours. First, any interpretation that a brain scan is connected with your APA definition of “sexual orientation” is necessarily a subjective interpretation, because your APA definition of “sexual orientation” is inescapably subjective, and not even proven to really exist as something of the authentic human person. Second, Graham said that the test is “exposing people to erotic images of both genders”, but since when is whatever Graham considers “erotic” the APA standard for “sexual orientation”? I mean, if I check the APA definition of “sexual orientation”, i.e. “an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes,” I don’t see anywhere in that definition where it says temporary interest in pornography while hooked to a machine. But maybe in your dehumanized interpretation of human sexuality, you don’t recognize the difference between authentic truly enduring sexual attraction to a real human person and quickie thrills from unchaste viewing of projected porn while hooked to a machine.

You then ask about a particular study. It fails for all the problems I just finished pointing out, You purport it measures the Tooth Fairy, but it’s obviously measuring something else, even according to your own non-authoritative definition of the Tooth Fairy.

In addition, the study began with someone’s preconceived non-validated notions of “homosexual” and “heterosexual”, which again do not match the APA definition. The study furthermore did not clearly indicate exactly how they settled on the 10 apparently Chinese volunteers in each group. Were there more than 10 who applied, and if so, why were these 10 selected and not the others? The study necessarily excluded any and all persons who were religiously opposed to viewing pornography, etc. And as “All subjects were told in detail about the aims of the study”, they were all affected by that, as they were by the testing itself. Nothing about the test conforms to the APA definition, which invalidates it as any sort of test of purported “sexual orientation”. The few “immoral” Chinese pornography fans who allegedly volunteered for the study are not representative of people at large having “homosexual” or “heterosexual” “sexual orientations” under the APA definition. There is no demonstration of reliability and no validation. Notably, even the study itself did not claim that the method could actually identify anyone’s “sexual orientation”. And indeed it cannot, not even for pornosexuality.

Priya Lynn
November 6th, 2011 | LINK

“A reader” said “What authority have you to speak for me or for any “god”? Who says this “all powerful and all knowing” being must conform to your thinking?”.

Nice try, but epic fail. I don’t need any authority to express unassailable logic. If your god is all powerful and all knowing then the world is necessarily exactly as he wants it or he would have changed it. You can run and hide from your cognitive dissonance but that won’t change the truth – your theology is nonsense. Either you must accept that your god is not all powerful and all knowing or that the world is exactly as he wants it.

Your complaint applies to you rather than me. What gives you the authority to speak for your god and say he didn’t scratch the car himself and make people gay and that he doesn’t want them to be that way?

Graham
November 6th, 2011 | LINK

“That’s a shell game. Neither “sexual orientation” nor “sexual attractions” is well-defined, and it is not “accepted” other than, if at all, in a vague, ill-defined, subjective way.”

Wrong. Again, look in the APA’s journal, or any of the academic litterature on the subject.

“You write that “there are tests none the less”, and indeed anyone can make whatever test he/she pleases. You can make some up yourself.

Well, yeah, but I don’t have the education or expertise to make up a test that would be considered scientific, so my test would be worthless. I’m talking about tests done by actual researchers here.

“You say “all you have is reporting”, but an MRI image and other instrument readings are also reportings.”

But they won’t lie or have an agenda like a person can. That’s the point.

“And again, like any report, it must be interpreted to have meaning. Testing has also found that machines and most particularly, their interpreters can be and are unreliable. There is no such test accepted as valid and reliable.”

Sure, but it’s interpreted by what we know of the brain and simple logic that if a brian responds to something it must be stimulated in some way by that thing. Not a huge leap there. Machines can be unreliable, but if a test is repeated enough by enough different people, and gets the same result, then that result is considered valid until something better comes along.This is basically how science works.

“Even machine tests can be manipulated by the person being examined, and it is said to be not unusual. Perhaps you missed it, but I said that the reporting is supported by witnesses for validation purposes. And, fact of the matter, those witnesses were independent as far as anyone knows, blind to the so-called “program” and often quite “actively gay” / “pro gay”.”

How can you “witness” someones sexual orienation unless you yourself are that person, as sexual orienation describes an enduring trait of a persons inner thoughts?

And you have yet to produce such witnesses anyway.

“Sure could be. Fact of the matter, you’re in the same position as all the people who have changed. They were “non-believers”. They had no evidence they trusted.”

So present that evidence. You have presented no evidence, only claims.

“I listen and observe behavior in a wide variety of situations over time, sometimes decades. I very much doubt they were trying to fool me. Did I not tell you? They didn’t have to have an “I want to be straight” agenda, and none reported having any such agenda, at times laughing at the notion, deriding people who’d claim they could change. They lived their lives however they pleased, “gay” as they wanted, and that changed over time.”

Well one would think they would come forward with their stories because such claims would be important to the scientific community.

““Sexual orientation” is a subjective term with a subjective definition, and so it’s so-called “validity” is subjective. It’s hardly “scientific”.”

Says who? There is a wealth of litterature out there from a variety of scientific institutions all using the term in the same way. The only institutions who don’t accept the term, at least on the large scale, are religioius ones.

“You can believe what you want. The DSM is a manual for diagnosing mental disorders.”

Not only that, it helps define and order thinking on psychology.

“A sexual orientation is not classified as a mental disorder, and so there is no criteria in the DSM for diagnosing it.”
Well, yes, but you wanted a concrete definition for what “sexual orientation”is, and the DSM gives you one.

And I would think the criteria would be pretty clear…if ones sexual and romantic attracts are persistently towards the same gender, they are homosexual (gay), if towards the opposite gender, heterosexual (straight), if both bisexual (bi). This is not rocket science…and the vast majority of psychologists and other academics are using these criteria…to the point that its common knowledge now.

“The DSM regularly changes over time because it is continually found to be NOT “correct” and/or… vague, misleading, imprecise, subjective, etc.”

And over time its become more accurate and precise…that’s science. If it were a book that claimed to be the gospel and never changed according to new understanding…it would be religion.

“The DSM is not a recipe book. It is a rather vague/sketchy manual that different clinicians read and use in different ways, even though they may all read the same words.”

You judge it to be vague and sketchy, but its definition of sexual orientation, which we are disucssing here, it quite clear. You could interpret that any way you like to suit whatever your agenda is, but that would be sophistry on your part.

“You mention the APA, but the APA membership at large have a variety of opinions in regard to “sexual orientation”.”

Uh, not really, there’s a pretty broad consensus about sexual orientation at this point. Theres probably disagreement as to what the causes of sexual orientation are, or its exact locus in the human brain, but as to what the term describes…not really. Not at this point anyway, after 40+ years of research.

“In various writings, the APA uses a variety of vague, subjective and often contradictory phrases (e.g. when one phrase is compared with another) when describing what some people call “sexual orientation”. Just one example of the vague subjectiveness: “an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes”. Can we get any more ill-defined?”

It’s not ill-defined at all. It’s pretty clear. What is it you find so difficult with this definition?

Graham
November 6th, 2011 | LINK

“Second, Graham said that the test is “exposing people to erotic images of both genders”, but since when is whatever Graham considers “erotic” the APA standard for “sexual orientation”?”

Well the images have nothing to do with what I consider erotic because I didn’t administer these tests.

But, if we can speculate, I would imagine that such images could just be nude images of attractive people of both genders. If ones brain responds to the images of ones own gender, then such a subject is deemed to be gay, and that’s the APA’s standard. Pretty simple really.

Graham
November 6th, 2011 | LINK

“I don’t see anywhere in that definition where it says temporary interest in pornography while hooked to a machine.

Well don’t you have an imagination lol. I hardly think being “hooked into” a machine is going to make someone interested in porn, or that they would be doing the test for “quickie thrills.” It’s possible, but such a specific fetish is probably pretty rare and its extremely unlikely that enough peoople like that would be test subjects and thus skew the results.

“But maybe in your dehumanized interpretation of human sexuality, you don’t recognize the difference between authentic truly enduring sexual attraction to a real human person and quickie thrills from unchaste viewing of projected porn while hooked to a machine.”

I don’t think anyone is saying the two are the same, but the difference would only be important for the purposes of the test if ones brain responded to a different gender in images than would in real people. They don’t; the porn people look at and respond to reflects their general preferences and certainly their sexual orienation.

Graham
November 6th, 2011 | LINK

“There are many “ex-gays” who stated they were “gay” only to admit later they were kidding themselves.”

So they were pretending to be gay? Who pretends to be gay?

“They don’t care if there’s enormous social pressure to not believe in the Tooth Fairy, homosexual orientation or whatever. They’ve already been there and done that years ago when they’d previously alleged they were “gay”.”

Well I must have missed the enormous social pressure on people to alledge they are gay when they not. All those poor closeted straights.

Graham
November 6th, 2011 | LINK

“And for that, people turn to religion. Material science can, of course, be supportive to the extent valid evidence may exist, but when religion decrees that material science cannot override infallible religious dogma, whatever science may find that seemingly appears to contradict such dogma must be wrong,”

Well reality doesn’t conform to a religions decrees. If it did, we would assume that the sun must revolve around the earth because the heliocentric view of the solar system contradicted the churchs dogma. Of course the church just ended up changing its dogma when it could no longer be believed by anyone really, so in fact things worked in the opposite way to what you’ve described; religion had to admit it was wrong and conform to science, not the other way around.

“Not surprisingly, religion is oft called the Queen of Sciences.”

By whom?

Graham
November 6th, 2011 | LINK

“In addition, the study began with someone’s preconceived non-validated notions of “homosexual” and “heterosexual”, which again do not match the APA definition.”

Um, yes these “notions” do match the APA definition. Attraction to same sex is homosexual, opposite is heterosexual…just like what the APA says…

“The study furthermore did not clearly indicate exactly how they settled on the 10 apparently Chinese volunteers in each group. Were there more than 10 who applied, and if so, why were these 10 selected and not the others? ”

What difference does that make? Obviously their selction criteria was wheather the men were gay or straight.

“The study necessarily excluded any and all persons who were religiously opposed to viewing pornography, etc. And as “All subjects were told in detail about the aims of the study”, they were all affected by that, as they were by the testing itself. ”

So you’re saying that if they didn’t know what they study was for, or if they weren’t doing it as part of the study, their brains would have responded differently? Do you honestly think people can control their involuntary brain responses so willfully, and that it must have been done here? That’s a pretty conspiratorial claim.

And as far as those who are opposed to viewing pornography, I hardly think they would respond differently. Indeed, they probably don’t view porn precisely because it does stimulate them. It would be immoral however, to force people who think porn is immoral to undergo the test against their wishes. Maybe they could ask their deity to give them a reprieve for the purpose of science?

“Nothing about the test conforms to the APA definition, which invalidates it as any sort of test of purported “sexual orientation”.”

Sure it does. It measures how the subjects’ brains responded to different genders, which is precisely the APA definition…

“The few “immoral” Chinese pornography fans who allegedly volunteered for the study are not representative of people at large having “homosexual” or “heterosexual” “sexual orientations” under the APA definition. ”

Not respresentative in what way? The only relevant way that would be important for the test is which gender they were attracted to. Otherwise its not necessary that they be a representative sample of the gay and straight populations at large in any other way than their sexual orientation.

“There is no demonstration of reliability and no validation.”

Well unless the machine was broken or one of the rather facifull scenarios you’ve imagined took place, its reliability can be more or less assumed. Anyways if there were only one test like this, this concerns might hold water, buts its been repeated.

“Notably, even the study itself did not claim that the method could actually identify anyone’s “sexual orientation”. And indeed it cannot, not even for pornosexuality.”

They didn’t state such a claim explicitly, because that wasn’t even the purpose of the study. The study’s aim, if I’m understanding it correctly, was to identify different neural circuits involved in homosexual and heterosexual stimulation, not to take people and figure out what their sexual orientation is. Of course such a test could be used for that, but it would kinda be a waste since you could just ask someone what their sexual orientation is and it would be a lot cheaper.

William
November 6th, 2011 | LINK

Thank you, dear Reader, for your recent reply to me. I find it quite amusing.

I agree that the word “natural” can be used in a number of senses. The sense in which I used it was that of “spontaneous”, “not the result of artifice or contrivance”. Using the word in this sense, I correctly observed that the natural inclination of people with a homosexual orientation is “to form sexual and romantic relationships with people of their own sex.” I realise that there are some people who insist on calling it “unnatural”, and they are free to do so, but such a description has no objective meaning; it is merely an attempt to dress up an expression of personal dislike or disapproval as an objective fact.

Having said that “there is no universally accepted definition of ‘sexual orientation’ ”, you then proceed to make a statement about it: “it’s always as fluid as anyone chooses it to be”. But a statement of that kind about something which remains undefined is essentially meaningless.

The sense in which I have used the term “sexual orientation” is that given by the American Psychological Association: “Sexual orientation refers to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes.” In this sense, the evidence does NOT suggest that “it’s always as fluid as anyone chooses it to be.” It suggests quite the contrary. You may wish to maintain that sexual orientation in some other sense is “always as fluid as anyone chooses it to be”, but unless you have told us precisely what that other sense is, any discussion of the point would be futile.

‘Many people view “sexual orientation” as a contrivance with no more permanence than one’s thinking of the moment.’

In that case their view is divorced from reality.

‘And anyone can mouth words like “genuinely” and “freely”, but what is the standard? Your opinion?’

Actually I think I have made that pretty clear already, but I will attempt to make it clearer still. Someone genuinely prefers and has freely chosen a course of action if they are doing it because it is what THEY WANT to do – NOT just because someone else has persuaded them that they ought to do it whether they like it or not.

‘If you’ve already defined yourself as a “gay man” and denied that you can or should change, where is the freedom in that?’

No freedom whatever. If I’ve already defined myself as a blue-eyed man or as a right-handed man and denied that I can or should change, where is the freedom in that? None whatever. There are some things about ourselves that we simply don’t have the freedom to change, even if we would like to (and even if a few of them may very rarely change of their own accord). One of these is our sexual orientation (in the sense that I have indicated above). We can either accept them and learn to be comfortable with them, or we can waste our lives pining and fretting about them to no avail. I consider the former to be wiser and healthier. And by the way, I don’t DEFINE myself as a gay man; I DESCRIBE myself as a gay man; it’s just one aspect of who I am – and by no means the most important one, although it is AN important one.

Iamposterity
November 6th, 2011 | LINK

I Love U!

Neil
November 6th, 2011 | LINK

Dear A Reader, we’re making progress of a sort here. You have no beef with the words orientation and sexual used independently but only when added together as a composite term. So orientation is “a usually general or lasting direction of thought, inclination, or interest” and sexual means (Webster’s Medical)”of, relating to, or associated with sex”. Add them together and you get – a usually general or lasting direction of thought, inclination or interest relating to sex.

The APA definition is hardly the ill-defined, interpretive non-descriptor you appear to be claiming it is. You’re simply resorting to the Humpty Dumpty defence of words meaning only what you choose them to mean, nothing more and nothing less. This leaves you free to ramble with non-sequiturs because when pointed out you will simply retort that the observed illogicality is simply a matter of interpretation.

You say, “There are many “ex-gays” who stated they were “gay” only to admit later they were kidding themselves. They don’t care if there’s enormous social pressure to not believe in the Tooth Fairy, homosexual orientation or whatever. They’ve already been there and done that years ago when they’d previously alleged they were “gay”.”

Why would they seek to change their sexual orientation without social pressure? What’s the motivation? Why attempt to change something you claim many people say is “a contrivance with no more permanence than one’s thinking of the moment”? Why would there even be need for this so called reparative therapy that is apparently so far beyond the capability of medicine that religion must be invoked?

What, indeed, is even changed when you say that the definition of sexual orientation is merely “another vague, subjective, poorly defined shell game”?

From reading your words you seem to be saying that regardless of any social pressure people seek to change something that can only be subjectively understood and is a mere contrivance anyway. It hard to know what you’re saying because you insist that even relatively simple terms are outside anything other than subjective interpretation.

CPT_Doom
November 6th, 2011 | LINK

No matter how many “ex-gays” or individuals who have “left homosexuality” that can be identified, there must be@ least 10X as many people who have walked away from Catholicism (like me) or any of the other “Christian” religions. And they did it w/out therapy or “treatment.”

As for desirable terms, we do have very clear definitions of “obstruction of justice,” “aiding & abetting,” and “fraud,” all crimes committed during the decades-long and ongoing cover up perpetuated by the Church. Given that history, I think we can all be forgiven for doubting the integrity of that institution and its theology.

A reader
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

Priya, you write, “Either you must accept that [Priya's] god is not all powerful and all knowing or that the world is exactly as [Priy'’s god] wants it.”

I accept your story as your story.

You ask, “What gives you the authority to speak for [Priya's] god and say he didn’t scratch the car himself and make people gay and that he doesn’t want them to be that way?”

I didn’t.

A reader
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

Graham, for reasons of space and time, I’m only going to further address a few of your many issues.

In response to my statements where I’ve said that “sexual orientation” and “sexual attraction” are subjective, you responded: “Says who? There is a wealth of literature out there from a variety of scientific institutions all using the term in the same way… It’s pretty clear.”

Have you heard of Kinsey? His so-called “test” or scale is a subjective self-rating of 0 (exclusively heterosexual) to 6 (exclusively homosexual). Have you heard of Klein? His is also a subjective self-rating that’s a bit more complex, including factors of behavior, social preference, even “lifestyle”. Have you heard of Spitzer? His was “a subjective scale that goes from 100 (exclusively homosexual) to 0 (exclusively heterosexual).” Those are Dr. Spitzer’s words. Note the word “subjective”. Likewise, Dr. Bogaert’s words, “(subjective) sexual attraction is the psychological core of sexual orientation”. Indeed, “subjective assessment of sexual orientation” has been the norm for “sexual orientation” research throughout its history.

And as reported in the Archives of Sexual Behavior: “Defining and Measuring Sexual Orientation: A Review”, Harvard’s Dr. Sell states, “At present it is clear that researchers are confused as to what they are studying when they assess sexual orientation in their research… Many different terms and definitions have been proposed over the last 130 years to describe the sexual orientation of subjects… Obviously, definitions and preferred terms vary significantly from researcher to researcher and across time.”

In regard to the issue of using pornographic images to purportedly measure sexual attraction to persons, you wrote, “I would imagine that such images could just be nude images of attractive people of both genders.”

Why would you need to “imagine” if the standard is “clear”? What is clear about the APA’s wording is that it does not mention nudity, photos or pornography. Even if you were to make your own standard that used those things rather than the APA’s, it would still be that whatever you find “attractive” is your subjective opinion. For example, not everyone “enjoys” porno movies, or “twinks”, “bears”, “leathermen”, geriatrics, “asians” and whatever else. Indeed, there are many people who claim to be “gay” who say they’re repulsed by such things, while there are others who might “normally” not be interested in much else. In other words, the APA talks about “… attraction to men”, but is that men in general or can it be just “leathermen”. The same applies with women. It reminds of the oft heard, “But you just haven’t found the right woman yet.” How narrow/broad can/must it be? The APA definition does not say.

You wrote in regard to the “sexual orientation” criteria used in the machine testing study, “Um, yes these ‘notions’ do match the APA definition.”

As I’ve said, you can say it does if you want, but that does not necessitate that others do, or even that you consistently do.

For example, when it comes to “ex-gays”, do you believe their “sexual orientation” is validly and reliably determined by just asking them what they say it is and accepting whatever they say? Because that is what the machine study did too, and many others.

You asked, “Do you honestly think people can control their involuntary brain responses so willfully, and that it must have been done here?”

First of all, you speak of “involuntary” brain responses, but the test did not distinguish between “involuntary” and “voluntary” brain responses. Second, other research and the testimony of experts has shown that people can and do change their brain responses to pornography, particularly during testing. Third, that something can be done does not mean that it was or wasn’t done in this study or the extent that it may have been occurred.

Now let me elaborate and point out another issue, an issue that relates to the significance of such testing in regards to claims that “sexual orientation” is fixed or innate and/or valid outside of people who watch pornography. Even if the participants were not deliberately attempting to skew the study results by deliberately modifying their reactions to the pornography during the test, they were still “voluntarily” affecting their brain responses by, for example, the fact of their willingness to watch it, perhaps even eagerness to watch it, etc. In addition, there’s nothing in the study that identifies how much or what kinds of pornography these persons had previously watched, or how much and what kinds of sexual activity these persons had previously engaged in, or anything else as to how or what their previous experiences were that may have affected their brain responses in the test.

You wrote, “And as far as those who are opposed to viewing pornography, I hardly think they would respond differently.”

I don’t think they’d respond by sitting there and voluntarily watching it, and that alone would affect their brain responses in some way.

You asked, “[The participants were] not representative [of the general public] in what way?”

To name just a few, they were apparently Chinese only (no other countries/cultures), men only (no women), apparently into watching porn (no participants opposed to it), ages (only middle 20’s or thereabouts), students and “a homosexual club”, etc.

A reader
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

William, you wrote, “I correctly observed that the natural inclination of people with a homosexual orientation is ‘to form sexual and romantic relationships with people of their own sex.’ I realise that there are some people who insist on calling it ‘unnatural’, and they are free to do so, but such a description has no objective meaning.”

I don’t think you’re adding much new to the conversation with that “observation”. I’ve already addressed distinctions regarding “natural” and “objective” that extend beyond physicalism/materialism.

You wrote, “it is merely an attempt to dress up an expression of personal dislike or disapproval as an objective fact.”

Yes, I’ve heard that opinion before.

You wrote, “Having said that ‘there is no universally accepted definition of ‘sexual orientation’’, you then proceed to make a statement about it: ‘it’s always as fluid as anyone chooses it to be’. But a statement of that kind about something which remains undefined is essentially meaningless.”

I did not say it “remains undefined”. I said you can define and redefine the term as you please, just as someone else can as it pleases him.

You wrote, “The sense in which I have used the term ‘sexual orientation’ is that given by the American Psychological Association: ‘Sexual orientation refers to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes.’ In this sense, the evidence does NOT suggest that ‘it’s always as fluid as anyone chooses it to be.’”

Even if that is the so-called sense in which someone uses the term, it remains that: (1) “an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes” means different things to different people, and as fluid as anyone chooses it to be; (2) the body of “evidence” was and continues to be built upon fluid assessments; and (3) as “it” purportedly pertains to a single particular person (as in Jack’s sexual orientation rather than Jack and Jill’s joint sexual orientation) and as “it” is most often accepted based upon that person’s self-report (or some clinician’s subjective assessment), “it” is always as fluid as that person chooses it to be.

You wrote, “I don’t DEFINE myself as a gay man… it’s just one aspect of who I am.”

And someone may say that by you believing that, you are defining yourself.

You wrote, “I DESCRIBE myself as a gay man”.

And someone can pull out a dictionary and say that to “define” can mean to “describe”. And even that to “describe” is to “define”.

BlackDog
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

Well, Reader, when someone starts trying to play games with the definitions of words I tend to think they’re probably up to no good.

Funny, but the only one I see doing that here is you.

As I said in my last post here, I think, sit down and shut up or take your bullshit somewhere where it’s wanted.

Erin
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

A Reader is full of crap and we all know it. Bisexuality easily explains his reference to those with fluid sexuality and those who change their behavior. Those of us who are homosexual and bisexual know damn well who we are and that we never made a conscious choice to be that way. We simply find some members of our own sex attractive. Should I one day break up with my girlfriend, meet, and fall in love with a man, I’ll know I was inherently bisexual, otherwise I would have not possessed the ability to find members of both sexes attractive. Even if there is only ever one man I love and later find another woman to love, I’ll know I never changed my orientation, because the ability existed within my personality to find both men and women attractive. All forms of sexual preference are innate for all people. I believe in the scale.

A reader
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

Neil, you asked, “Why… Why… Why… What’s the motivation?”

Yourself. A spontaneous inclination.

You asked, “What, indeed, is even changed…?”

Yourself. A spontaneous inclination.

A reader
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

“Because the ability existed within my personality”, change is possible.

Christopher^
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

Even if “change is possible,” as you put it… Why do you feel it is even necessary?

I don’t.

A reader
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

Q: “Why do you feel [change] is even necessary?”
A: I didn’t say that I did.

William
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

Reader:

‘You wrote, “it is merely an attempt to dress up an expression of personal dislike or disapproval as an objective fact.”

‘Yes, I’ve heard that opinion before.’

No doubt you have, and I would reiterate it here. If, however, by “unnatural” in this context you mean that it doesn’t conform to the state of nature before the Fall, I must reply that I see no more reason to take that any more seriously than I would take an assertion about the state of nature before the opening of Pandora’s Box.

‘I did not say [sexual orientation] “remains undefined”. I said you can define and redefine the term as you please, just as someone else can as it pleases him.’

Perhaps so, but you are now playing puerile games with language. It must have been obvious to you, unless you are unusually obtuse, that I meant that it remained undefined by YOU; in other words, you had not told us what definition, if any, YOU attached to the term. That being so, any further statement of yours about it, e.g. about its supposed “fluidity”, has no discernible meaning to anyone else.

You say that ‘ “an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes” means different things to different people and as fluid as anyone chooses it to be ’. Can you specify just a few of the different things that it means to different people, so that we can see how fluid it is? And please don’t try to evade the question by irrelevant talk about Asians, twinks, bears, leathermen, etc. Parallels can be found among heterosexuals: a female relative of mine has a “thing” about men with beards; a white male friend of mine has a definite preference for Asian women; another male friend has told me that he prefers significantly older women; some men really “go for” red-haired women; and the preference of many men for blonde women (“Gentlemen prefer blondes”) is legendary. (Similarly, some heterosexuals engage in sexual practices that other heterosexuals have no interest in or would find repulsive.) But no-one, I imagine, would think of asking, “If being a heterosexual man means being sexually attracted to women, is that women in general, or can it just be Asian women/red-haired women etc.?” Nor would any reasonable person argue from these things that the meaning of the term “heterosexual orientation” is “as fluid as anyone chooses it to be”.

I gather from some of your remarks that you are a Roman Catholic. Cardinal Ratzinger’s Letter on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons speaks of “the particular inclination of the homosexual person” and of “this orientation”, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in its paragraphs on “Chastity and homosexuality”, speaks of those who “experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex” and have “deep-seated homosexual tendencies”, and describes “this inclination” as “objectively disordered”. If the definition of sexual orientation given by the APA is susceptible of so many meanings, are the above terms used by the Vatican also as fluid in meaning as anyone chooses them to be? If not, why not? How are they any clearer or more specific?

‘You wrote, “I don’t DEFINE myself as a gay man… it’s just one aspect of who I am.”
‘And someone may say that by you believing that, you are defining yourself.’

And someone who says that would also presumably say of a heterosexual man who states that his heterosexuality is just one aspect of who he is, that by believing that he is defining himself – and the said someone, if he or she is logical, would be either equally approving or equally disapproving of both beliefs.

‘And someone can pull out a dictionary and say that to “define” can mean to “describe”. And even that to “describe” is to “define”.’

No doubt some people would. Some people use “infer” to mean “imply”, “substitute” to mean “replace” and “anticipate” to mean “expect”. Although many modern dictionaries and thesauruses allow for such slipshod use of language, it is to be deplored since it militates (or, as some would say, “mitigates”) against clarity of thought.

Timothy Kincaid
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

Okay, I’ve read enough.

a reader is not engaging in an exchange of ideas and thought. Rather, a reader is presenting provocation in order to be disagreeable and instigate response.

The primary method appears to be pretense that commonly understood and clearly defined words and phrases have no accepted meaning. (a reader assumes that if one removes the tools of debate – language – then any assertion can have equal standing. He errs. Words are not ideas, they are symbols that represent ideas. An apple is not dependent upon language to exist, nor are distinctions around sexual attraction.)

I’m not sure of a reader’s goal. It may be for self reward (“look at how intelligent I am to make these oh so intellectual arguments”) or out of personal animus (“I sure showed them homos”) or it may be in hopes of eliciting abuse (“when I told them the truth they attacked me with hate speech”) or perhaps its in hopes of becoming a martyr (“they banned me! and they claim to be tolerant!).

But whatever the ultimate goal, a reader has shown himself – again – to be a troll.

And so my response is the same: DON’T FEED THE TROLL

Ben In Oakland
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

Orientation may be fluid, but that doesn’t mean that there is any choice in that fluidity. I have known many people who were hetero for a good portion of their lives, went to the gay side after that period, and said they found the thing that had been missing their whole previous experience.

And vice versa, though relatively few of those.

Carl
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

I really detest guys like this Avila jerk,mostly because there are idiots out there that will believe his type of bullsh_t retoric.What a bunch of hypocrates the Catholics are!! So you think it’s okay to create your own God?

Carl
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

Hey William, WELL PUT !

Timothy Kincaid
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

And…

a reader’s Troll Tool Number 2 is asserting facts without substantiation which are contrary to known and observed facts which are documented at BTB.

For example, the “many” non-religious ex-gays, the “witnesses” of behavior, and the “many” who report change in same-sex attraction.

These are claims made which undoubtedly would pass initial glance on most sites. They are, however, of little greater value than claims about Unicorns or Elvis.

They are of less value, even, than claims about “what God wants”, as those have some subjective value which allow for parameters of debate. Most people do believe God assertions when they make them. But as there is very little likelihood that a reader truly believes the make-believe evidence he’s presenting, they are of no practical use whatsoever (other than for a reader’s purposes).

So, again, DON’T FEED THE TROLL

Graham
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

“Have you heard of Kinsey? His so-called “test” or scale is a subjective self-rating of 0 (exclusively heterosexual) to 6 (exclusively homosexual). Have you heard of Klein? His is also a subjective self-rating that’s a bit more complex, including factors of behavior, social preference, even “lifestyle”. Have you heard of Spitzer? His was “a subjective scale that goes from 100 (exclusively homosexual) to 0 (exclusively heterosexual).””

All of those methods are just different scales used to measure the same thing: which gender one is attracted to vis-à-vis ones own gender. They don’t change the definition of the term, simply add gradations between the different sexual orientation to reflect the fact that ones orientation may not be so steeply stilted for one or the other. Spitzer’s 1 to 100 scale is subjective insofar as it relies on what a person would say their orientation is on that scale; he has no way to “measure” exactly how much any individual is attracted to men or women. That doesn’t mean that the term “homosexual” doesn’t unambiguously describe one who is more or less exclusively attracted to ones own gender, however.

“Those are Dr. Spitzer’s words. Note the word “subjective”. Likewise, Dr. Bogaert’s words, “(subjective) sexual attraction is the psychological core of sexual orientation”. Indeed, “subjective assessment of sexual orientation” has been the norm for “sexual orientation” research throughout its history.”
Subjective in the sense that it relies on people to describe their sexual orientations; not in terms of the terminology itself being open to different definitions.
“And as reported in the Archives of Sexual Behavior: “Defining and Measuring Sexual Orientation: A Review”, Harvard’s Dr. Sell states, “At present it is clear that researchers are confused as to what they are studying when they assess sexual orientation in their research… Many different terms and definitions have been proposed over the last 130 years to describe the sexual orientation of subjects… Obviously, definitions and preferred terms vary significantly from researcher to researcher and across time.””

Over 130 years, yeah. 130 years ago phernology was still a “science”, I believe. Many different terms may have been proposed, but the terms homosexual, heterosexual, and bisexual are at this point the accepted terms.
No one is using Magnus Hirshfields terms now lol.

“Why would you need to “imagine” if the standard is “clear”?”

Because I don’t know exactly what was used in the test. Duh! Anyway we know that the subjects were subjected to both males and females, and which gender they responded to, by definition, is reveals their sexual orientaiton. That’s the very clear, and very simple standard.

“What is clear about the APA’s wording is that it does not mention nudity, photos or pornography.”

Because the APA’s wording describes ones attractions in regards to gender, not uh, medium of presentation I guess. It would make no difference for the test anyway since one does not respond to men in pictures if they don’t respond to men in the
flesh.

“Even if you were to make your own standard that used those things rather than the APA’s, it would still be that whatever you find “attractive” is your subjective opinion.”

I don’t have a subjective opinion about what the male anatomy is and what the female anatomy is.

“For example, not everyone “enjoys” porno movies,”

And if someone just categorically couldn’t get excited from a movie, then in the test they just wouldn’t respond at all. That wouldn’t cause them to respond to the opposite gender than what they would normally though.

“or “twinks”, “bears”, “leathermen”, geriatrics, “asians” and whatever else. Indeed, there are many people who claim to be “gay” who say they’re repulsed by such things, while there are others who might “normally” not be interested in much else.”

And all of those things are specific body type preferences or other fetishes, not sexual orienation. If a subject was just into bears, and none of the images were of bears, then he or she simply wouln’t strongly respond to any of the images. But they wouldn’t resond to the opposite gender of what they would normally.

“In other words, the APA talks about “… attraction to men”, but is that men in general or can it be just “leathermen”.”

Men in general, the male gender, the male body type, the male anatomy. A gay man who is into leathermen is still a gay man, he just has a rather particular fetish in addition to his sexual orientation.

“The same applies with women. It reminds of the oft heard, “But you just haven’t found the right woman yet.” How narrow/broad can/must it be? The APA definition does not say.”

Well as far as the saying does we have no idea how narrow or broad the “right woman” for an individual would be. That immaterial to the APA’s defintion though…if the “right” significant other is a woman at all for a man, then he is straight, or at least bi. Simple as that.

“As I’ve said, you can say it does if you want, but that does not necessitate that others do, or even that you consistently do.
For example, when it comes to “ex-gays”, do you believe their “sexual orientation” is validly and reliably determined by just asking them what they say it is and accepting whatever they say? Because that is what the machine study did too, and many others.”

Someones responses can be manipulated by them; someones involuntary brain resopnses can not. Big difference. When we reach puberty, we don’t decide that our brains are going to start responding sexually; it just happens as a result of hormones acting on our brain, the object of that sexual attraction is determined by the structure of the brain. This is well-established.

“First of all, you speak of “involuntary” brain responses, but the test did not distinguish between “involuntary” and “voluntary” brain responses.”

Well yeah, as I said earlier, you can’t control what you respond to in terms of attraction. Could you will that you be attracted to the opposite gender than what you are? Just try it and see how that works.
If someone could, and could demonstrate this, it would be a pretty significant.

“Second, other research and the testimony of experts has shown that people can and do change their brain responses to pornography, particularly during testing. Third, that something can be done does not mean that it was or wasn’t done in this study or the extent that it may have been occurred.”

Has the research shown that men who are attracted to men can be make themselves be sexually stimulated by women in pornography, or vice versa? Otherwise however they control their response would be irrelevant. In what way did they control their responses? Did they change what they responded to or just wheather they responded?

And anyway, since the test was designed to measure what one finds stimulating without coercion of any sort, then if they did force themselves to respond or not respond to something…it would screw up the whole affair.

“Now let me elaborate and point out another issue, an issue that relates to the significance of such testing in regards to claims that “sexual orientation” is fixed or innate and/or valid outside of people who watch pornography.”

Trust me, its valid outside porn-watchers. There are plenty of men who love men and women who love women but don’t love porn.

“Even if the participants were not deliberately attempting to skew the study results by deliberately modifying their reactions to the pornography during the test, they were still “voluntarily” affecting their brain responses by, for example, the fact of their willingness to watch it, perhaps even eagerness to watch it, etc.”

How is that? I mean, people watch porn because they enjoy it, they don’t enjoy it because they watch it.

“In addition, there’s nothing in the study that identifies how much or what kinds of pornography these persons had previously watched, or how much and what kinds of sexual activity these persons had previously engaged in, or anything else as to how or what their previous experiences were that may have affected their brain responses in the test.”

There is no evidence that any of those things affect ones brain responses in terms of which gender someone will respond to. Do you have some evidence like that? I mean, our media is saturated with images of scantily-clad women that we all grew up with…and yet some of us still turn out liking the fellas.

“I don’t think they’d respond by sitting there and voluntarily watching it, and that alone would affect their brain responses in some way.”

Pherhaps then they just wouldn’t respond. I don’t think they would respond to the opposite gender than they would outside the test though.

“To name just a few, they were apparently Chinese only (no other countries/cultures), men only (no women), apparently into watching porn (no participants opposed to it), ages (only middle 20’s or thereabouts), students and “a homosexual club”, etc.”

Do any of those things make a difference for the test? How so? Do chinese brains respond differently? That sounds racist; the architecture of the human brain is the same across cultures.

Also since purpose of the test was to see how different circuits respond in the brians of gay and straight men, women would kinda be irrelevant. That’s like objecting to a survey of prostate health by complaining there were no women in the study lol.

The rest of your objects are equally irrelevant; I can agree that those factors would make them not a representative sample of the gay male population, but as long as the straight participants and gay participants were equally matched in terms of those things, then that’s actually helping the test. Since its only gay men and straight men being compared, you would want to control for all other factors, assuming you believe they would make a difference, which they wouldn’t anyways.

I suppose you could use a representative sample of the gay and straight populations, but that sample would have to be much much larger than 10 guys. Furthermore, that study would be examining more than neural circuit differences between gay and straight men; it would examine neural circuit differences between gay and straight men, across cultures and age groups, and between the genders. While those may indeed be worthy of study, that just wasn’t the aim of the test.Also, the results when comparing the gay partcipants to the straight ones would likely be the same mathematically as with the smaller experiment,.

Graham
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

My god that was a doozy of a post. Sorry everyone.

Priya Lynn
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

“A reader” reminds me of Quo/Kwo/QuoIII who was put on moderation for similar commenting patterns and who stopped commenting after that (until now?).

Ben In Oakland
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

Right, Priya. I was trying to remember who it reminded me of.

William
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

Yes, Priya, I too see the similarity in some respects. But I don’t think that “A Reader” is Quo/Kwo/QuoIII. His style and the other internal evidence in his posts suggests otherwise.

Priya Lynn
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

You could be right, william, I haven’t read most of his posts. On the other hand it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if they were one in the same.

Timothy Kincaid
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

Reader,

You have been placed on moderation.

You have established a pattern of stating unsubstantiated claims with a clear intent to instigate rather than communicate.

No, you have not been “censored for your views”. You are not a martyr. You have simply been stopped from hijacking this site with extremist and ludicrous nonsense.

We’ll review such comments as you make and should they be free of nonsense like “there’s no definition for sexual orientation” or “many ex-gays are non-religious” or “my pet unicorn poops candy corn” or anything else of equal value, are not designed to instigate drama, and are truly an effort to communicate and exchange ideas, we’ll let them post.

Of course, if you can provide adequate legitimate support for your unicorn statements (or other bizarre claims), then you can make them.

So far, not so good.

Neil
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

Oh, Timothy, no. I was so looking forward to a protracted discussion about the nebulous, unreliable and invalid definition of the word unicorn.

…so anyway, some single-horned, magic ponies poop candy corn and others eliminate whole toffee apples. Can we really say they’re both unicorns if I can identify minor differences in their behaviour? Many people say a unicorn can drop its horn and turn into a little horse. That makes the whole idea of the unicorn pretty dubious, right? There’s just a fluidity of quadruped, surely.

Erin
November 8th, 2011 | LINK

A Reader said: ‘“Because the ability existed within my personality”’, change is possible.’
No, in my example, changing the simple fact that I had such an ability is not possible. Only changing behavior is possible, but only for those with the propensity to engage in more than one kind of sexual behavior, and/or those who were coerced by external pressures to engage in certain behaviors. You’ve been making the silly argument that sexual orientation is an invalid or subjective idea. The only explanation I can think of for your thoughts on this is you are yourself bisexual and conflating behavior with the bisexual characteristic, and you’re also assuming this is true for everyone else. You may have changed back and forth from one interest to the next, but that is based on who you meet, not that you are erasing your very ability to have such interests, and you should not assume the same is true for everyone else. I have met plenty of bisexuals, both open and mostly closeted. I also have gay friends with limited heterosexual experience. I am a “goldstar” lesbian with no heterosexual experiences, and I do not desire them. I’m not going to change my behavior, because I don’t want to. I also have gay male friends who swear they couldn’t “get it up” for a girl if they tried. I know the sexual preference continuum is valid because real life reflects it. Face it, there is reality, and then there is your, denial, masked as skepticism of reality.

Joan
November 12th, 2011 | LINK

I never thought people were born homosexual until I went on the web site for “Courage” and I realized how hard some homosexuals were trying to live a chaste and celibate life. Fr. Harvey who founded “Courage” gave the best explanation that I have read. He said once people get into the Gay life style it is very hard to leave. After reading some of the stories on the “Courage” web site I saw that it is possible.

William
November 12th, 2011 | LINK

Joan, you appear to be confusing two different things, viz. sexual orientation and sexual lifestyle. Anyone can change a lifestyle, whether they find it easy or difficult to do so. One can exchange a promiscuous or polygamous sexual lifestyle (heterosexual or homosexual) for a monogamous one, and either of the foregoing for a celibate one. That doesn’t mean that one’s sexual orientation has changed. People have every right to adopt a celibate lifestyle if that is what they prefer. They don’t have any moral OBLIGATION to adopt such a lifestyle just because they’re gay.

People don’t normally “get into the Gay life style” unless they’re gay, just as people don’t normally get into the straight lifestyle unless they’re straight – although some gay people do unfortunately feel pressured into adopting a straight lifestyle, usually with minimal success. Although much progress remains to be made, both the extent of such pressure and the number of gay people who succumb to it are diminishing almost daily, thank God.

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