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The Torah Declaration: Orthodox Judaism’s impossible position

Timothy Kincaid

January 18th, 2012

One of the more fascinating things to watch is the peculiar struggle that Orthodox Jews are going though in their effort to determine where gay Jews fit in the world, the family, and the tribe.

While conservative Christians may be content with “well the Bible says”, the Jewish tradition requires that an observant Jew carefully seek to understand the nuances of the Torah, the realities of the world, the condition of their own heart, run it through the sieve of tradition, and come to a place that reflects G-d’s intention.

Sometimes this can be a bit absurd, like the determination that if one uses a pen for work, then any use of a pen – even moving a pen so as to read a book it lies on – is forbidden on the Sabbath (my apologies if I got that wrong). But that’s a Jewish issue and doesn’t need to make sense to a goy fagela.

But it also can have subtleties that “well the Bible says” simply cannot handle. Take, for example, Rabbi Zev Farber discussion about the “morality question”:

Unfortunately, much of the rhetoric traditionally surrounding homosexuality seems to derive from a confusion of categories. For the believing Orthodox Jew, homosexual congress is a religious offense, akin to eating shrimp or driving on the Sabbath. It is not a moral offense, akin to assaulting women or cheating in business. Much of the rhetoric around homosexuality seems to center on moral discourse, and I feel this is a serious mistake.

But Farber is on one end of the spectrum. And in times of uncertainty on issues of discomfort, extremes arise. And within Orthodox Judaism, there are some pretty drastic extremes, especially on the subject of homosexuality. Peter LaBarbera’s hate-fest yesterday was endorsed by Rabbi Yehuda Levin’s Rabbinical Alliance of America / Igud Harabbonim. And we all know of the ultra-Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn who show up to protest gay marriage, usually toting signs that make little sense to anyone outside their particular community.

But even crazy sign-wielding Jews who seek to condemn the gay community and deny gay people of civil equality hold to the Jewish tradition of intellectual approach. And so it is with an appeal to logic that the more conservative wing of Orthodox Judaism presented their latest anti-gay screed, the Torah Declaration:

Same-Sex Attractions Can Be Modified And Healed

From a Torah perspective, the question whether homosexual inclinations and behaviors are changeable is extremely relevant. The concept that G-d created a human being who is unable to find happiness in a loving relationship unless he violates a biblical prohibition is neither plausible nor acceptable. G-d is loving and merciful. Struggles, and yes, difficult struggles, along with healing and personal growth are part and parcel of this world. Impossible, life long, Torah prohibited situations with no achievable solutions are not.

We emphatically reject the notion that a homosexually inclined person cannot overcome his or her inclination and desire. Behaviors are changeable. The Torah does not forbid something which is impossible to avoid. Abandoning people to lifelong loneliness and despair by denying all hope of overcoming and healing their same-sex attraction is heartlessly cruel. Such an attitude also violates the biblical prohibition in Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:14 “and you shall not place a stumbling block before the blind.”

This is actually similar to the thought process I utilized when dealing with my own sexuality and spirituality. Mine went something like: 1) God created me same-sex attracted; 2) Despite my best efforts and sincere prayers He seems to have no intention of changing me; 3) therefore either 3a) God is perfectly fine with me the way I am, or 3b) God is a monster. (And yes I know, atheists, that “God doesn’t exist” also works as a possible 3c.)

The logic in the Torah Declaration ultimately leads to the same paradox which I found. In the words of the Declaration, the following concepts all must stand in order for there to be logic and consistency:

  • The Torah makes a clear statement that homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle or a genuine identity by severely prohibiting its conduct.
  • G-d is loving and merciful. The concept that G-d created a human being who is unable to find happiness in a loving relationship unless he violates a biblical prohibition is neither plausible nor acceptable. Abandoning people to lifelong loneliness and despair by denying all hope of overcoming and healing their same-sex attraction is heartlessly cruel.
  • Same-sex attractions can be modified and healed. The Torah does not forbid something which is impossible to avoid. The only viable course of action that is consistent with the Torah is therapy and teshuvah. The therapy consists of reinforcing the natural gender-identity of the individual by helping him or her understand and repair the emotional wounds that led to its disorientation and weakening, thus enabling the resumption and completion of the individual’s emotional development.

But with this declaration, the ultra-Orthodox rabbis have backed themselves into a corner. They have placed their interpretation of G-d’s intent in the Torah subject to an objectively testable reality: reorientation.

Unlike other prohibitions – dietary law, for example – they have not made this a Jewish issue that can be resolved by “it may not make sense to you but this is what G-d said”. They expressly contradicted the position taken by the Statement of Principles of some less extremely conservative Orthodox Jews a year before that declared that while G-d might have created innately same-sex attracted persons, they should nevertheless remain celibate.

Rather they have declared that it is not possible that God would have simultaneously banned same-sex relationships and created humans who naturally, innately, and irreparably long for them. They recognize this to be heartlessly cruel. On this, they are right.

So, having worked out their logic they signed the declaration. Reorientation is the solution. Done.

But they have one little problem. Reorientation doesn’t work. And eventually these rabbis will have to come to that realization. There are far too many orthodox therapists and researchers and professors who value objective reality over rabbinical declarations.

And if these rabbis plug their ears and insist that – contrary to all evidence – reorientation works, they may find themselves without congregations. And that is exactly what happened in the Netherlands.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the Orthodox community in Amsterdam suspended their chief rabbi from his post after he signed the Torah Declaration. Disavowing the notion of reorientation, they issued a press release lest “Rabbi Ralbag’s signature may give the impression the Orthodox Jewish community of Amsterdam shares his view.” Rabbi Aryeh Ralbag (who appears to be headquarted in Brooklyn) was relieved of his duties until he goes to Amesterdam and “discusses the issue.”

And they will not be the last congregation to point out that it ain’t working. And then what? Unlike their less strident brothers, these rabbis are left with only two options. Either God is heartlessly cruel or the Torah’s statement on homosexuality may not be so clear after all.

Of these, it would seem to me that finding nuance in the Torah’s prohibitions might be the likelier eventuality.

Comments

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Mark F.
January 18th, 2012 | LINK

You could interpret the Torah as just prohibiting anal sex. Seems a like a reasonable position which most gay people could live with (I’m not a Jew, btw)

Timothy Kincaid
January 18th, 2012 | LINK

Mark F, some Rabbis do.

Steve
January 18th, 2012 | LINK

The way they interpret their holy book is why I have some respect for Judaism, while I have zero respect for Christianity. Yeah, it may seem pedantic, but unlike Christian Bible interpretation it can lead to practical rules that make some sense in the modern world. Especially in the hands of non-Orthodox Jews

Charles
January 18th, 2012 | LINK

So gays should be healed and become heterosexuals. Facepalm, eyeroll and head-pounding on desk. This getting extremely repetitive. You would think that intelligent people would consult experts on this issue. But they don’t.

Charles
January 18th, 2012 | LINK

“The way they interpret their holy book is why I have some respect for Judaism, while I have zero respect for Christianity.” – Steve

Some major Protestant Christian denominations have changed their stance on homosexuality. For example Episcopalians and Lutherans. What we do encounter are the denominations that are ardently opposed to accepting us for whom we are. It is frustrating, but does seem to be changing.

Steve
January 18th, 2012 | LINK

It isn’t just about homosexuality, but about their entire attitude towards “divine law” and their rules. It’s just more practical and human-oriented than anything Christianity does.

Ben in Oakland
January 18th, 2012 | LINK

The problem of course IS the interpretation of Leviticus. And here is where they have really backed themselves into the proverbial corner.

Sodom is no more about homosexuality than it is about unicorns. One would have to twist the story completely out of reason to make it anything about homosexuality.

And of course,cthat is what some Have done, but the twisting is obvious. And of course, it doesn’t apply to gay women at all. which leaves only tired old Leviticus– instructions to the priestly class, as I understand it. so not a general prohibition at all.

The passage translates literally to “sleep the sleep of a woman.” we don’t actually know what it means. We only know what people writing hundreds of years later thought it meant, and I suspect they didn’t knw, either, but had their own long, haggard issues, or had to deal with the Greek world which defined the Mediterranean at the time. However self important the Jews may have considered themselves to be, they were still a smallish backwater in the larger greekcworld.

But if they are going to insist Leviticus means what they say it means, then they’re also going to have to deal with what it does say: it prescribes the death penalty, and says nothing about gay women at all.

Only the yehuda levin’s Of the world are willing to go that far, which mean the rabbis are more than willing to change the word o’ god to suit their particular sensibilities. Indeed, they have done so when they insist that the passages apply to women at all.

Ah, hermeneutics– the genteelcartifice of getting your holy book to say exactly what you want it to say. Or, as Rabbii Humpty Dumpy to famously observed, words mean what I say they mean. Nothing more and nothing less.

WMDKitty
January 19th, 2012 | LINK

Um, I thought the passages in Leviticus referred to temple prostitution, and not a loving homosexual relationship.

Erin
January 19th, 2012 | LINK

No, WMDKitty, you’re thinking of the passage in Romans or first Corinthians. I think it was Romans. Anyway, Paul wrote it, and it talks about idolatry and temple prostitution, and people cite it as against all homosexuality. At least, that’s what others have said. The bible remains up to interpretation as it was written so long ago and retranslated so many times into so many new languages and even several different versions of the English language.

Erin
January 19th, 2012 | LINK

Leviticus definitely does condemn all sex between two men. It also condemns sex between a husband and wife if the wife is menstruating. Depending on your interpretation, it may also say the husband cannot simply sleep in the same bed during her menstruation. It goes on to refer to a woman’s menstrual cycle as completely disgusting. Yeah…..This is one of hundreds of reasons why I have no use for the book. I can only agree on some of the principles found in it.

Ben in Oakland
January 19th, 2012 | LINK

Erin, a few years ago a panel of conservative rabbits decided it referred only to anal sex. That way, gay men could be ordained as conservative rabbis if they abstained from that. Of course, the rabbinical police aren’t really policing it.

Ezam
January 19th, 2012 | LINK

When it comes to bigotry and lies, Orthodox Jews are no different from Fundamentalist Christians.

Just look at AishHaTorah. They have two articles written by a plant from JONAH, using the same fallacies and distortions common from the ex-gay industry:

http://www.aish.com/sp/so/48949396.html
http://www.aish.com/sp/so/48949601.html

I posed as someone supporting the author who also had “overcome” my same-sex attractions. They gladly posted that comment, but even when I let them know they had been played and told them my real opinion, they still retained my previous comment as if I was being serious (needless to say they didn’t publish the *real* me).

Timothy Kincaid
January 19th, 2012 | LINK

Erin and WMDKitty,

Actually you are both mistaken. The temple prostitute references are all the “sodomite” references in the King James translation in the Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament). It was deliberate mistranslation (and probably for political reasons – the church didn’t like james’ dallying with the fellows, ya know). When the text used the male and female version of the word next to each other, the translators put prostitute for female and sodomite for male.

No one other than scripturally illiterate backwoods preachers still think that those passages refer to gay people, per se.

What Paul did was just make up words. Although there were plenty of words for homosexuals in Greek, he didn’t use them. Translators have traditionally decided that they mean homosexuals. But slang is peculiar and does not lend itself easily to guesswork. Paul could have as easily meant wife swappers, cattle rustlers, mimes, or Barbara Streisand fans.

But whatever it was that he was condemning it was a consequence of idolatry, and not a stand alone transgression.

WMDKitty
January 19th, 2012 | LINK

Thanks for the clarification, Timothy.

Lightning Baltimore
January 19th, 2012 | LINK

Does’t thou not know that mimes will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven?

:-D

iDavid
January 19th, 2012 | LINK

It’s unfortunate that people would actually pray to a god who has no more empathy for gays than Rick Santorum.

Timothy (TRiG)
January 19th, 2012 | LINK

Well, one assumes that, to an Orthodox Jew, anything Paul said in Romans is at best an extremely heterodox commentary on Jewish Law, and is not to be taken as the basis of any doctrine.

It’s odd that there’s so much variation within Orthodox Judaism. Some Orthodox Jews participated in a Pride Parade in Israel last year.

TRiG.

Henri
January 19th, 2012 | LINK

Very interesting and insightful piece, Timothy. You might be a goy fagele, but you are blessed with a yidishe kop!

TampaZeke
January 19th, 2012 | LINK

http://www.paulonhomosexuality.com has a new look at what Paul AND Leviticus REALLY had to say about homosexuality. It is based on accurate translations of the original texts including accounting for the nuances of translating ancient Hebrew texts into first century Greek.

As for Judaism allowing for questioning and reconsidering sacred texts, in Buddhism questioning is a REQUIREMENT. In a sermon to the Kalamas of Kesaputta (known as the Kalama Sutta) the Buddha demanded that followers of the Dhamma not believe things just because they were written in sacred texts or spoken by religious leaders or wise men, nor because they had long been believed, nor because of tradition, nor because of passion, nor based on faulty reasoning, nor based on thinking but based on TESTING AND EXPERIENCE. He even said that if HE told them something but when they tested it against reason and experience it didn’t prove to be true, then REJECT it because it isn’t true. But if they tested it against reason and experience and it proved to be true then LIVE by it because it is true.

Having grown up Southern Baptist where I wasn’t even allowed to consider considering questioning what I was being taught (even if it was different from what was being taught at the Baptist church down the street) the moment I heard this sermon by the Buddha I knew that Buddhism was the path for me.

Iamposterity
January 19th, 2012 | LINK

It would seem to me that 1st the word homosexuality would need to be dissected within the Hebrew context or at least correctly translated into english within the Hebrew context: Are we talking temple worship, prostitution, or is it in reference to a monogamous union (YES GAY MARRIAGE IS THE ANSWER). It is my belief the Torah is silent on Gay Marriage so maybe that means G-d is leaving it up to the individuals (allowing free will) and the community. I also believe hearing that the Jewish People are taught to respect the governmental laws of any particular region they live in (as well as honoring Hebrew religious law). Just thinking out-loud! Thanks for the Atheist 3c option!

JohnAGJ
January 19th, 2012 | LINK

You know there is a book I’ve been meaning to get that could provide some interesting views on the Pauline passages at least. A group of Jewish scholars put this together:

The Jewish Annotated New Testament

I bought a similar book years ago called “Rabbis Look At The New Testament”, or something like that. I’ll have to look around for it, it’s ina box somewhere…

JohnAGJ
January 19th, 2012 | LINK

Actually, I think this might be the book I’m remembering:

A Rabbinic Commentary On The New Testament

Unfortunately it only covers the Synoptic Gospels though. From what I remember reading it, I found it to be an interesting and useful resource overall. I’ll still have to find my copy… somewhere around here… to confirm that this is the one I actually have. It’s been a few years since I read it.

Ben in Oakland
January 19th, 2012 | LINK

Timothy–Anent  your comment about Romans… The most interesting word in the whole passage to me is the word “wherefore”, also tranSlated as “for this reason” it says clearly that god turned those people, who were heterosexual, into homosexuals, against their natures. We all know what having to be something you are not feels like. It is also perhaps the only moment in recorded history where god changed anyone’s sexual orientation.

I’ve often brought this up in conversations with antigay religious people, and I have yet to hear one person refute it.

John
January 19th, 2012 | LINK

The comments were interesting but they, and the article itself overlooks one thing. It is all predicated on the assumption that being gay is a choice. I know absolutely nothing about the Torah but is there anything in it that clarifies this? And, remember thousands of years ago, people had basically no knowledge of genetics. My understanding is that the Torah, like the Bible, so much of it is a matter of interpretation, in which case, who’s to say who is right and who is wrong?

Timothy Kincaid
January 19th, 2012 | LINK

Ben,

When one starts actually looking at the words in context of language, time, culture, and history, scripture study can truly be fascinating. The ancient texts (I’m only familiar with the Torah/Bible, but I suspect it is true of any religious text that survived for millenia) have far more meaning and nuance than we often give them. The scholars and thinkers who wrote them didn’t have the distraction of television or speaking engagements and were not on a timeline.

William
January 19th, 2012 | LINK

Ben in Oakland,

What I think is equally interesting – assuming that Paul is referring in Romans 1to homosexuality as such, which biblical fundamentalists always insist that he is, and not more specifically to pederasty or temple prostitution, for example – is the REASON that he gives for the transformation of these heterosexuals into homosexuals, viz. that they had stopped worshipping God and had instead started worshipping “the image of mortal man, of birds, of quadrupeds and reptiles.” (Jerusalem Bible translation) How many gay people on here can remember engaging in that bizarre practice before they realised that they were gay? I know that I never did.

Ben In Oakland
January 19th, 2012 | LINK

William, That’s what I mean about the word “wherefore”.

I’d love to worship George clooney or Ryan Reynolds. I’d even get down on my knees to do it.

TMI?

Reed Boyer
January 19th, 2012 | LINK

Given that Ralbag “appears to be headquarted in Brooklyn,” I note that American Christians no longer have a monopoly on exporting this specious “pray away the gay” stuff.

Yosef
January 20th, 2012 | LINK

You guys are really mistaken.

I personally know over 20 formerly gay people and three who are married or engaged.

There are people who put in the work, who wanted to change. For some of them had they given up after a short attempt would not have been successful. It took 4 years for some – just like the struggle for alcoholism or any other difficult issue.
Go to http://www.Torahdec.org read the evidence in the links on the site.

There is real information – see both sides of the issue.

People CAN change!

olterigo
January 20th, 2012 | LINK

Yosef,

Why don’t those people actually show their faces and go on record and submit to science, so that we can actually test scientifically your claims and theirs? Of course, if they actually do exist. Something tells me they may not.

Yosef
January 20th, 2012 | LINK

I realize that it will hard to convince you if you don’t actually see the people who have moved on.

This is a disadvantage that we have.

Most of the people that moved on don’t really want to come to the public and announce their names. They have kids in schools or are looking to get married and even if married their wives are not so keen on such an announcement.

On the other hand, those who are happy remaining gay are much more likely to announce it.

I know that my statement is still not putting the people in front of you and might not convince you but its really true and I know a good few people whom if this wasn’t an issue and they would come out and publicly tell their stories it would certainly change the PR tide.

On the other hand some are willing to go privately and speak to people.

Jonah – http://www.Jonahweb.org
has helped over 2000 people in the last 10 years.

Ben In Oakland
January 20th, 2012 | LINK

Yosef…

And yet alan Chambers, head of exodus international, claims that 99.9% of people DON’T CHANGE.

So, you’re probably right. you know that .1%.

Meanwihile, we hear people all of the times telling us that they know people who have changed. and yet, and yet…
Those people never seem to be speaking for themselves.

Could it be that they are telling you what they, and you, and their congregations want to hear? Who are we going to believe– you, an anonymous person on the internet,or alan chambers and John schmid, who ARE willing to stand up in public and admit that the whole thing is a myth.

You’re really going to have to do better than that.

Ezam
January 20th, 2012 | LINK

I know people who know people who lost weight with Magic Bracelets™. They said it, so it must be true! Who cares about actual scientific evidence? Order now!

Magic Bracelets – http:www.Junkscienceweb.org
has helped gazillions of people lose the extra fat.

Richard Rush
January 20th, 2012 | LINK

Yosef said,

I personally know over 20 formerly gay people and three who are married or engaged.

Three out of twenty is not very convincing. Actually twenty out of twenty wouldn’t be convincing. I can’t even begin to count the number of gay people I know who have been married, or are still married while having homosex on the side. Gay people have been getting married for eons as a means of surviving in a hostile world. If you think that society benefits from gays marrying op-sex partners, instead of each other, you are sick.

Most of the people that moved on don’t really want to come to the public and announce their names.

Exactly. They have internalized society’s efforts to make them feel ashamed, and that’s the reason they “moved on.” So now, in addition to feeling ashamed, they have deluded themselves into believing they are no longer gay.

They have kids in schools or are looking to get married and even if married their wives are not so keen on such an announcement.

There’s that shame again. When gay guys propose marriage to their girlfriends, how many of them do you think say, “Honey, I want to marry you, but you need to know that I’m sexually attracted to guys. That’s not a problem, is it?” But you seem to think that deceiving a woman into a dysfunctional marriage that’s likely to fail is somehow best for society.

Yosef, I’ve been living as a gay man since 1969, and with the same partner since 1981. If you think it would have been better if I had married a woman and/or lived a lonely loveless life, then you are truly sick and/or evil. Society’s full acceptance of gays not only benefits us, it benefits families, and all of society. Legitimate arguments against full acceptance simply do not exist.

olterigo
January 20th, 2012 | LINK

Yoysef,

Is this the same JONAH as headed by Arthur Abba Goldberg, who was indicted on “52 counts of bribery, conspiracy and fraud in connection with $2 billion in municipal bonds.”[8] He pleaded guilty to three counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States of America. In 1989, Goldberg was fined $100,000 and sentenced to 18 months in prison on conviction of fraud. (Info from Wikipedia).

Is this the same JONAH, that “does not employ certified mental health professionals “has no accountability,” and is not subject to peer review or lawsuits when professional standards are violated” (quote from a New York Jewish Week article).

Is this the same JONAH whose “therapists” have been accused of abuse? (Like having the person remove their clothes in front of a mirror).

Yes, it is the same JONAH.

olterigo
January 20th, 2012 | LINK

Yosef,

One more thing. Being actually scientifically assessed does not require showing your face to your community. That research is done usually with many precautions on release of names. And yet, in the many years of work of various “conversion” “therapy” Christian and non-Christian organizations, there’s been no research showing support that change in attraction is actually possible for even a significant minority of LGBTs (at least, people who are not afraid to show their face on TV, like Alan Chambers of Exodus, have said pretty much the same thing).

Marc
January 20th, 2012 | LINK

Yosef
I have personally meant dozens of, uh, supposedly married straights who come to the gay bar where I work to find that guy to have sex with. You see, the wife is out of town, and they just “have that need once in while.” Oh, and by the way, “I’m not gay.”
How sad that groups like yours are leading the destruction of not only these scared men but the unknowing wives and children who really don’t the person that comes home to their house each night. Of the two of us, I would say I sleep better at nights.

Yosef
January 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Ezam and Ben in Oakland, Olterigo,

“And yet alan Chambers, head of exodus international, claims that 99.9% of people DON’T CHANGE.”

-he has no basis show a me a study. See a study on my side below.

“But you seem to think that deceiving a woman”

- I never said that.

All the people I know have told their wives exactly what they went through and what they have done and their status now.

All 20 were successful only 3 have gotten married as of yet.

“Is this the same JONAH whose “therapists” have been accused of abuse? ”

-that’s all nonsense. If there was any truth to the accusation why weren’t charges brought? Why are they still helping thousands of people legally?

Therapy has helped many people overcome this issue; just like treatment for alcohol abuse is successful 1/3 – 2/3 of the time and is also unsuccessful – so too here.

Jonah does not employ therapists.
It is a resource and it refers and works with licensed therapists.

Here is a real study from 2010 in a peer-reviewed journal that found success in reparative therapy.

Karten, E. Y., & Wade, J. A. Y. C. (2010). Sexual orientation change efforts in men: A client perspective. The Journal of Men’s Studies, 18, 84-102.

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/46942282/SEXUAL-ORIENTATION-CHANGE-EFFORTS-IN-MEN-A-CLIENT-PERSPECTIVE

Timothy Kincaid
January 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Yosef,

I don’t think that study says what you think it says.

Additionally, we explored what motivated the participants to seek SOCE, and what therapeutic interventions and techniques they found to be most and least helpful. Results showed that being married, feeling disconnected with other men prior
to seeking help, and reduced conflict in expressing nonsexual affection toward
other men related to goals consistent with SOCE. Intrinsic religiosity and a
heterosexual identity were related to reports of not changing one’s sexual feelings and behavior.

In other words, if you want to “be married”, make some guy friends, or learn how to hang with guys and not hit on them, well you could do that. I mean if Oscar Wilde could get married, why not you?

But if your goal was changing your sexual feelings (ie your orientation), sorry but no banana.

Yosef,
January 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Timothy,

The abstract is not full enough. The problem is that the link only allows the first page with the abstract. But there were many findings. It’s a rather large paper. This following from page 97 (Page 14 of the study):

“On average, the men in our sample reported: a decrease in homosexual feelings and
behavior, an increase in heterosexual feelings and behavior, and a positive change in
their psychological functioning. Analysis of the self-report data indicated that on av-
erage the men in our sample made positive gains as a result of SOCE; and several of
the variables we examined related positively to change in functioning while others re-
lated negatively. Consistent with our hypothesis, the analysis showed that married men
had greater reduction in sexual feelings and behavior toward men than single men. One
possibility is that men who are married are more invested in this work because they …”

Yosef,
January 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Here is a another study:

Can Some Gay Men and Lesbians Change Their Sexual Orientation? 200 Participants Reporting a Change from Homosexual to Heterosexual Orientation

Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 32, No. 5, October 2003, pp. 403-417 (2003)

Jim Burroway
January 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Yosef,

We are very familiar with Spitzer’s 2003 study, in particular his speaking out against those who have misrepresented his study:

http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/tag/robert-spitzer

He told the New York Times that he thought change was exceedingly rare: “Although I suspect change occurs, I suspect it’s very rare,” he said. “Is it 1 percent, 2 percent? I don’t think it’s 10 percent.”

http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2007/02/14/223

Yosef
January 24th, 2012 | LINK

Jim,

His point is that he really doesn’t know since his study did not focus on that. His study started off with people who were helped by therapy. That was the given.

In this interview: http://www.drthrockmorton.com/interviewdrspitzer.pdf

he says: “But I’ve asked two of the more well known practitioners of this kind of therapy how often are they successful, and they say, well it depends on the way you define success, but if you define success in terms of a change in behavior, and in feelings, there’s about 30 percent or something like that. Now I suspect it’s much lower, but I could be wrong. So whether it’s 2 %, 10%, or 15%, but what I am sure is that it’s not 0%. And that’s what this study was about, whether it’s actually 0 percent.”

You can easily see that he himself said that maybe the practitioners who claim 30% are right – and maybe they are wrong. He is not making any claims about that point.

He simply didn’t study it and wants to make sure he is quoted accurately.

He began with people who claimed that they changed and he wanted to verify it. That’s all.

Timothy Kincaid
January 25th, 2012 | LINK

Yosef,

He “doesn’t know” because his “study” wasn’t a study. Literally, all he did was have people tell him over the telephone “I’ve changed.”

Have you ever seen those infomercials with people in the mall announcing how changed they are after wearing the magical bracelet with magnets or batteries or made of copper or doused in snake oil? Yep, that would the the equivalent of Spitzer’s study.

Spitzer is a good man. He was just trying to validate what some people were telling him. And his study proves that yes, some people really do tell researchers that they have changed. That’s all. Not proof they’ve changed, just proof that they were at one point willing to claim so.

Yosef, it comes down to this: reorientation doesn’t work. I used to think that while it wasn’t for me, maybe some people might actually experience some change in orientation. But, they just simply don’t. You can really, really, really want it to – and believe me many Exodus people really really really want it to – but it reorientation doesn’t work.

You can even cling to “well it might be true cuz Spitzer didn’t study that it wasn’t so, ummm, I choose to believe that if he had studied it he would have found 30% success.” It doesn’t work. He wouldn’t have.

Yes, he verified that after looking for three years he was able to find 200 people to say that they had some change. Some of them were pressured to do so by their therapist (one of our writers was pressured this way). Some later retracted what they told him.

But Yosef, I don’t think you are trying to convince us here. I think you are desperately trying to convince yourself. And I don’t think that you believe it nearly as much as you want to believe it’s true.

Richard Rush
January 25th, 2012 | LINK

Yosef,

Since you are so desperate to believe that homosexuals can transform themselves into heterosexuals, I assume you believe we should seek to do so. But, why should we? Please tell us. If you can present a compelling reason to do so, along with reasonable assurance that I would be successful, I will seek change.

chars
January 26th, 2012 | LINK

Has anyone besides Yosef read the 2010 study? Who were behind it and what methods were used?

Ezam
January 26th, 2012 | LINK

The problem with the Karten & Wade study is that it relies on self-report data. What assures us that the respondents are being completely truthful?

mrmstur
January 26th, 2012 | LINK

Why do ex-gay proponents rely on those useless “studies” that don’t go beyond asking questions and publishing testimonies?

If you want objective results, there are machines that measure sexual arousal.

Erin
January 26th, 2012 | LINK

I don’t need a study to tell me what I already know is logically impossible. If a man possesses the ability to find other men attractive, he’s never going to erase that simple fact. Even if he only ever finds one man attractive, and all his other feelings/attractions are for women, well then that man is bisexual. Bisexuality is an easy answer for some of those respondents who said they “changed” and became genuinely happy with a woman. It’s because they had the ability to fall for both men and women all along. That is an innate orientation, just like gay and straight are. So many people have gross misconceptions about bisexuality, though. They really don’t understand that those people don’t have the ability to choose either. Attraction is not a choice. You wouldn’t experience a type of attraction if your brain did not have the capacity for it. Ex-gay therapy would have to physically alter the wiring of the brain to change orientation, and since the neurosciences still can’t access, measure, and fully understand every single area of the brain, there’ll never be 100% proof that changing orientation is possible. So no, self-reported “change” in the very type of therapy people seek because they desperately don’t want to be who they are, isn’t going to convince a whole lot of sane, intelligent people.

Jean-Pierre Katz
May 13th, 2012 | LINK

Both this rabbi from Amsterdam and all the rabbis in the original “Declaration” are seriously mistaken.

They are steering teenagers and others to Jonah, as is evidenced by the signature of Arthur Goldberg. This executive and founder of the organization , Jonah, was disbarred and spent 18 months in jail for defrauding investors out of millions of dollars. He dropped his middle name Abba to disguise himself.It was one month after he got out of jail that he started Jonah to help himself to the money all these desperate families would give him. Aside from all the psychological harm this junk science therapy does to its clients, Jonah is using Christian evangelicals who specifically want to “shmad” Jews. Let everyone in this matter be clear when saying that “change” is possible. Yes you can become celibate but you can’t change your attractions and desires!

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