A word on orientation change or reparative therapy: there are differing opinions as to whether the JiM weekend is reparative therapy. Furthermore, there are differing opinions as to what reparative therapy even is. Is it a change in behavior? A change in sexual feelings? A change in sexual identity Reframing our sexuality? Healing from the shame surrounding same-sex attraction? Some people consider mixed-orientation marriage to be “reparative therapy,” yet many gay men I know who are married to women are still as gay as can be. Just like Pride month has several interpretations, so too will everyone probably have a different spin on what constitutes “change."
There have been some news stories recently about banning conversion therapy in California. I don't know what news sources to rely on. Everything is so heated and biased, especially cause we can't seem to nail down the definition. Below is something I shared in a group after some conflict on this topic and how it relates to me and my life (reworded as needed)...
I have my own feelings about various types of conversion therapy, but I also don't agree with banning it or whatever is going on. I can't speak much to that for reasons mentioned further on.
Here goes: I don't want to change my sexual orientation.
It's easy to say, "Don't let others tell you want to do." "Don't do it if it's not for you," "don't beat yourself up," or quote more up to date religious statements on same-sex attraction. But it's not that easy. There have been many ex-gays, or people who have experienced a shift, who have graciously said that they wouldn't recommend such things to everyone and who do not want to push their experiences on others. There are many voices, even from church leaders, who say, "You are fine/perfect the way you are." That's appreciated and I encourage it, but there's *still* a bunch of cultural shame and other programming to be overcome.
Since I have friends or know others who have experienced a shift AND/OR have been able to marry...I've somehow developed a shaming voice that says,
"Well...even if it's impossible to shift your feelings, you should still try."
"You should still desire to be straight."
"You should still desire to marry and have a family..."
It's easy to believe this in a religious culture. Wanting to "stay gay" could be compared to being lazy or not working to overcome an addiction or other trial. That's how I've sometimes seen it. Wanting to "stay gay" can easily be seen as an "unrighteous desire"...part of the natural man, against God's will. This has NOT been helpful!
I acknowledge that I have the potential to make babies. I have the potential to probably grow close to and love a woman adequately enough to travel that path. I know my sexuality is fluid. So knowing all this can pile up even MORE shame on myself. Great, now I know I have the potential to do all these things...but I simply don't want to...and that makes me wrong or a bad person...or so the shame tells me.
It's taken a LONG time to get to this point...to believe that God is okay with me not wanting to change my sexual orientation. It's taken a long time to believe that even though I don't know WHY I don't want to change, that this desire is enough for God. Is it hard to be gay/SSA? Yes! Is it hard to be gay/SSA and remain celibate and Side B? Yes! But I don't want to give it up either. It's a blessing in my life. I wouldn't know myself without it.
Ironically enough, I feel more committed to my covenants with God and more at home in church and more optimistic about life in general when I accept and see myself as a gay man, rather than hold this expectation over myself that I should pursue becoming straight, that I should at least want it, or that I should at least desire to marry a woman. The Spirit testifies to me of the sacredness of marriage, the uniting of a man and a woman in part to bear and rear children in love and righteousness, but it's also evident that I don't want that for myself. At least not right now.
Maybe God can communicate with me through wants and desires. Maybe my wants are not always against God's will.