Of course, there are dangers in celibacy, as well. People do take up the “celibacy/singleness” approach, only to discard it later when the burden becomes too heavy, and we must not wear examine celibacy through rose-tinted glasses, either. But there are two factors which should make us much more hesitant to propose orientation change.
When we do so, we offer a hope which has a significant hope of bottoming out. This, in itself, should give us some pause. This treatment is a double-edged sword, which might provide true healing, but more likely might lead to failure, self-loathing, and self-destructive tendencies.When we put this card on the table, something happens to us. By promoting celibacy, we are simply promoting what the sexual ethic of the churches demands. But by promoting orientation change, we are promoting a shift far deeper, far more rooted in someone’s particular personhood. By pressing for this “extra mile,” we incur a certain moral connection for the result. If it succeeds, well and good. But if it does not, great damage can be done, and we can end up implicated. Based on my own experience as a gay man, and as someone who has been left to pick up the pieces too often when orientation change fails, it seems to me to be far more fruitful to simply promote chastity, and keep orientation change therapy closely guarded, and to keep possibilities of orientation change as a last effort, when all else seems to have failed. The path of celibacy, in the end, is really dependent on our struggles for Christian virtue, rather than struggles for a heterosexual functioning. As a goal, heterosexual functioning too often remains elusive despite our best efforts, and is too often ephemeral even when it does seem to have been achieved for a season.
This is my commonplace book and sometime-journal.
I blog at SpiritualFriendship.org.
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My book is here: Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality.
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