Monday, December 5, 2016

Another so-called "ex-gay" Christian attributes sexual orientation to childhood abuse

Bob Fife
Bob Fife has a book to sell. Fife claims to be a gay man who was transformed into a straight man through prayer. Sure. Audra Jennings contributes pieces to Charisma News without disclosing in those pieces who she is. Turns out that Jennings is a publicist with an outfit known as Litfuse. Litfuse specializes is Christian book publicity. Apparently Jennings is Fife's publicist.

Monday, Jennings is writing about Bob Fife in a piece titled “5 Things Every Christian Struggling With Same-Sex Attraction Should Know.” Before I get into Five Easy Pieces, this is a dishonest enterprise. It gives the impression that Jennings is interviewing Fife as a journalist without disclosing her real role. We continue to learn much from conservative Christians about integrity.

Furthermore, the term “same-sex attraction” has no meaning in social science. It is a made-up description intended to liken homosexuality to a predisposition to drink to excess or to a bad habit. The simplest and soundest solution for a gay man “struggling” with his homosexuality is to find a more accepting church which causes an end to the struggle.

Sexual orientation is a continuum with heterosexual and homosexual at the extreme ends. There is some fluidity which means that people around the center of the continuum can change from gay to straight or from straight to gay. (I experience these swings myself.) However, there is no proven means of influencing those changes through counseling, prayer, diet, herbs or whatever else the crackpots are selling these days.
Bob Fife was raised in a dysfunctional home and, despite an early conversion to Christianity, had an uneasy young life. Nothing prepared Bob for being sexually molested by an older boy he trusted—or for what happened in his heart afterward.

From the confusion of his teen years, to his marriage and fatherhood, to his discovery and embrace of the flamboyant Toronto gay scene, the path Bob took became increasingly indulgent. He even abandoned his young family to follow his new lifestyle
Fife is a gay man. He did not become gay because of childhood abuse (if that really happened at all). It is the prevailing excuse of every Christian gay man out to earn a buck from claiming to be ex-gay. Indeed it seems that every ex-gay we meet has an economic interest in claiming to be ex-gay. More importantly there is absolutely no peer reviewed research to support the hypothesis that childhood abuse causes homosexuality. However, these zealots need a non-organic cause because if gayness is programming (in contrast to wiring) it can be cured. Again, research demonstrates that sexual orientation is innate and that efforts to change sexual orientation are potentially harmful.

The notion that Fife is confused because he is a gay man is absurd. Jennings (the author) has indulged in stereotyping with the use of “flamboyant” and suggesting that gay men use their dick as some sort of direction finder for life's vectors. And, of course, suggesting that a sexual orientation that she disapproves of is a “lifestyle” is dishonest and offensive. Gay men have the same assortment of lifestyles as straight men. Lifestyle is often defined by economics and what we do for a living.

What follows are selected passages. Commentary relates to the preceding quote unless specified otherwise. Publicist Jenning pitches softballs to Fife. Quotes are from Fife unless indicated otherwise:
I want the book to offer hope to those who are reluctantly same-sex attracted. I want it to give an example of how a church might provide support to them. I hope it will help begin a calm loving conversation the church needs to have about ministering to same-sex attracted individuals.
“Reluctantly” means unwillingly and hesitant which suggests that there is some choices involved in our sexual orientation. Fife's idea of loving support is for the church to assist gay people to be heterosexual. True love is acceptance of a normal variant of human sexuality.
My father was very abusive to my mother, my siblings and me. … I never had a healthy male role model and didn't want to be like any of the males in my family. I didn't respect them for a variety of reasons.

Much is sometimes made of the relationship between same-sex attracted boys and their mothers. I can't say I identified with my mom, though she often defended me against my father.… My family during my childhood could only be described as dysfunctional, with the ruling emotions being anger and fear. I understood affection as expressed in the care of my mother, …
In other words these are things that contributed to my being gay. It's right out of one of Dobson's books. It's all bullshit.

Though you didn't recognize it as such at the time, you were molested by your sister's boyfriend when you were a child. What role did that experience play in you later identifying as gay?
That loss of innocence had a profound effect on me. While I had no real idea of what was happening to me, it came to represent masculine acceptance. Because of the unfamiliar and powerful sexual urges of adolescent males, I bonded strongly to Roger. …
These folks have a book to sell. There must be reasons that Fife is gay or bisexual.
My decision to leave the gay community was not really affected by the church, since I hadn't been in one for years. However, once that decision was made, the church where I sought to rebuild my relationship with the Lord played a huge role in my following through on that decision. The believers in that fellowship gave me the spiritual support I needed as I learned how to develop and maintain non-sexual relationships with men and to relate in a meaningful way to women.
“My decision to leave the gay community” really translates to my decision not to be gay anymore which is as ridiculous as it sounds. Apparently Jesus has now cured him. If praying to Jesus can make gay men straight then we can dispense with doctors. Who needs an oncologist when cancer can be cured by prayer? The logical extension is that the amount of prayer and the quality of those prayers (along with following the rules) determine how much Jesus loves you. The more he loves you the more he will do for you. It is all so child-like and so palpably silly. It offers comfort to some people which is fine by me. Just don't use this gibberish to suggest that people are needlessly gay — and that is the danger of this stuff. This is particularly true when parents with gay teens buy into this rubbish.
In my late teens, I was looking for acceptance and relationships. I had not been successful in developing lasting homosexual connections, so I was looking anywhere to get my emotional needs met. When the opportunity to join this home Bible study group came along, I took advantage of it. It offered much of what I was looking for. I saw Audrey as a beautiful person, both physically and spiritually.
The intended inference is that gay relationships are inherently unstable or unsatisfying. There is no evidence to suggest that gay couples are much different from straight couples. Anyway in his teens, Fife goes gay and then straight but were not done yet. Not by a long shot.
The less time I spent with Audrey, the less appealing she seemed. We were also young parents at the time, and while I loved little Sean, I preferred to avoid the aspects of his care that required constant devoted attention. Secondly, I had never faced and dealt properly with my childhood experiences and attractions. They were a secret part of me, and secrets have a way of festering in the dark, neglected parts of our minds. My memories turned into imaginings, and my imaginings became fantasies. When I was introduced to Toronto's gay scene, all of these were unleashed in a torrent of experimentation and experience. Dear Audrey didn't stand a chance!
In other words, Fife goes gay again. Of course we already know that Fife has now gone straight again through prayer. It doesn't take Sigmund Freud to figure out that Fife is probably a bisexual experiencing fluidity.
… "the struggling" thing is really important. Lots of LGBTQ people are perfectly happy where they are and defend their lifestyle choices loudly and proudly. There's no struggle for them. I know about this, as do other people I mentioned in the book. I felt this way myself for years.
This is a lie. Fife knows perfectly well that gay people are not making “lifestyle choices” pertaining to their sexuality, What he is admitting to are feelings of satisfaction with his sexual orientation while implying that those feelings are either not genuine or self-delusion or both.
If you are struggling with temptations regarding homosexuality and you want out, I'm here to tell you there is hope. You'll hear a lot of voices these days tell you sexuality is fluid and can be changed. Other voices tell you sexuality is fixed and cannot be changed. Still other voices will say you can only change in one direction but not the other. It certainly is confusing. My experience is that meaningful change can be experienced, so don't give up!
One more time: Fluidity does not mean that sexual orientation can be changed. If you read this carefully you realize that Fife has experienced fluidity and is reacting to the changes in contrast to causing the changes. Fife lacks the introspection to understand what is going on.

Q: What would you say to the individual who is as immersed in the gay culture and lifestyle as you were and who wants to get out? What resources are available to him or her?
Ugh. Fife:
  1. Cry out to God and ask for forgiveness and deliverance.
  2. Seek out a few Christians who will support you (ideally an understanding church).
  3. Seek a ministry that can help you develop the identity you long for and deal with the issues, whether issues of the past (such as childhood molestation) or of the present (sexual addiction and so on).
  4. Take time to grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ. This is most important!
  5. Share your story only with a few you can trust, until you are strong enough to come out to the world.
God, fellow Christians and a “relationship with Jesus” are unlikely to do anything more than creating guilt for being gay or bisexual. The issues Fife refers to have no relationship to his sexual orientation but he is correct in saying that they should be dealt with. However, the absolute worst choice is to use a ministry for psychological counseling and therapy. That is the job of trained professionals, usually with PhDs in psychology. There is also the potential that one requires a psychiatrist who will prescribe medications. In the absence of meds (if necessary) and talk therapy, people are destined to repeat the same pathology.

The bottom line is that if someone is “struggling” with their sexuality they need help to accept who they are. Attempts to change sexual orientation only introduce more guilt. The best that can be accomplished through prayer or any form of conversion therapy is to teach people how to pretend to be heterosexual and then to commit them to the pretense.

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