Reparative Therapy analogy from Catholic Culture and more


Phil Lawler over at Catholic Culture wrote the following recently:*Some people, it seems, are especially susceptible alcohol abuse. The root causes of this predisposition are not well understood. But even without rushing in where psychologists fear to tread, we can say two things. A tendency toward alcoholism is a disorder, not a sin. Yet getting drunk remains sinful—even for those who may have some innate weakness.

Now with that in mind, would anyone suggest barring psychologists from helping people to overcome a tendency toward alcoholism? Let’s hope not; such a ban would be a gross violation of individual freedoms. So is the ban on “reparative therapy.”*There exist testimonies that say reparative therapy works. There are studies cited by the likes of Gov. Christie that say reparative therapy is harmful (even though data in those studies themselves admit to a diversity of causes, inconsistencies, and psychological mystery surrounding some person’s sexual tendencies).

Thoughts on the analogy or otherwise?

Also, is it fair to say, even from the most secular perspective, that someone with same-gendered attraction can at least in some sense be said to be “disordered” because his emotional search seeks something contrary to what is complementary to his own body? Is there a conflict between his body and mind. I would think a secular response might be what about priests not seeking that which is complementary to their body. If so, could we respond to that with, well, from a secular perspective then, both celibacy and homosexuality are therefore disordered. Correct?

Random thoughts… :o


I’ve been using the analogy of alcoholism with same sex attraction for years. I think it’s very helpful in explaining the “hating the sin, loving the sinner” concept. I think it also underscores the reality that it simply does not matter whether or not gay people were “born that way.”

Honestly, I’m not up to speed on the strengths or weaknesses of reparative therapy. But Governor Christie’s stated reasons for the ban miss the point entirely. If mental health is the goal and people have concerns, then fund some studies or create regulations that evaluate the continued mental health of those in such therapy programs over time. But to just squash it entirely is unfortunate.

It just seems to me that more and more the message being sent is that the only option for someone with homoesxual tendencies is to embrace them and live them out to the fullest extent possible. There’s less and less space for any other alternative.


Sadly, this socio-political pressure may influence the blind eye turned to any contrary science, kind of like how the government could care less that oral contraceptives increase the risk of several varieties of cancer in women. In that case, socio-political pressures trump science.


Indeed. Very sad.


There are more alcoholics in my family than I’d prefer. As analogies go, this one actually militates AGAINST attempts at ‘reparative therapy.’ Most alcohol treatment programs do NOT try to turn people into “former alcoholics” and return them to a state where they can utilize alcohol in a healthy and productive manner. On the contrary, most include the step of confronting the truth about one’s alcoholism and a disciplined commitment to abstaining from alcohol altogether as a means of controlling their appetites.

I agree that alcoholism is an excellent analogy in many fronts: genetic predispositions that aren’t celebrated, demonstration of human ability to love the person without supporting the destructive behavior, etc. But that includes the realization that there most likely is no such thing as a former alcoholic.

By definition, “reparative therapy” tries to eliminate the SSA and cultivate heterosexuality in the patients. Perhaps it’s more healthy to both explore the root causes (if discernible) and provide support for controlling it instead of it controlling the person. Pretty much like alcoholism is treated.


Indeed, it’s important to examine the root cause, if that psychology is discernible. If someone should be heterosexual but fallen into homosexual habits or maybe experienced abuse, or whatever social stimuli that may have distorted that person’s own understanding of self, then some sort of therapy could help them sift through their identity, as numerous testimonies indicate. And if there are those who have “in-born” homosexual tendencies, similarly to any other person not-married, would be called to celibacy.


Good point.


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