“Reparative Therapy,” the attempt to change a person’s innate sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual, has made the news again, though this time in a more positive way. Exodus International, a Christian organization that urged people to repress same-sex attraction, has shut down its ministry after 37 years. Its leader, Alan Chambers, apologized to the gay community, admitting that “We’ve hurt people.”
In an interview with the Associated Press, Chambers said “The church has waged the culture war, and it’s time to put the weapons down.” Exodus International previously claimed that gays’ sexual orientation could be permanently changed or “cured,” despite the opposition of professional psychologists and psychiatrists who concluded long ago that efforts to convert sexual orientation are unsuccessful and do great psychological harm. In closing his organization, Chambers expressed regret for inflicting “years of undue suffering.” He plans to launch a new initiative to promote dialogue among those on opposite sides of this issue.
Repressive methods to change innate sexual orientation are doomed to failure and may inflict irreparable harm. The fact that Alan Chambers is now publicly acknowledging these facts is extremely encouraging.
Two earlier posts on Straight Spouse Connection examined the topic of reparative therapy with additional background and case studies. To review that information, click Archives on the tool bar, August, 2009: Reparative Therapy Debunked—Again, August 19, 2009, and Emotional Damage of Reparative Therapy: One Man’s Story, August 28, 2009.
Why is the news about Exodus International important to straight spouses? It is yet another indication that public awareness and attitudes are slowly changing regarding the realities of sexual orientation. When society accepts all of its members, gay or straight or variations in between, individuals can live openly and honestly. If that day ever comes, there will be no closet of shame, no ill-fated mixed-orientation marriages based on secrecy, no more suffering of “straight spouses.” If that day ever comes, this blogger can retire!