Tag Archives: ex gay

Swiss Bishop’s Apology (?) for Gay ‘Cure’ Remark

It cannot be repeated often enough: same – sex affectional orientation is entirely natural, is not some kind of “disease”, and cannot be “cured”.

It’s good news that a Swiss bishop who claimed the opposite last week, has clearly seen enough of a backlash against his remarks, that he’s now issued an apology – but it’s not at all clear to me that he’s made things any better.

As reported by Gay Star News, this is the “apology”:


Photo by Diocese of Sion

Bishop of Sion Jean-Marie Lovely says he now regrets saying homosexuals can be ‘cured’ of their sexual orientation through prayer, adding that he only meant people with a partial homosexual inclination.

A Catholic bishop in a French speaking part of Switzerland says he regrets how comments he made about homosexuality have been ‘misunderstood’ after he said that sexual orientation could be ‘cured’ through prayer.

However in an interview with Le Matin newspaper published this week the bishop said that his comments had been misunderstood and he regretted that.

‘I never wanted to hurt or stigmatize anyone,’ Bishop Lovely said.

‘I don’t consider homosexuality to be an illness. But I do know people whose homosexual tendencies were fleeting, without claiming this is the case for everyone.

via Gay Star News.

So far, so good – up to a point, if one rather generously assumes that what he is referring to as people with “fleeting homosexual tendencies” are straight people, tempted by homosexual adventures. (There is a school of thought which suggests that these are the people apparently condemned by Paul in Romans 1, and not those who are naturally gay).

But to my mind, this makes things much worse – unless the original French has been seriously lost in translation. (I’m attempting to track down an original source).

I used the term “cure” for a person who was homosexual and who talks in these terms about his personal experience.’



Here’s the original French for the questionable sentence (translated by Gay Star as above. The Google translation is almost identical).

J’ai emprunté le terme de «guérison» à une personne qui était homosexuelle et qui parle en ces termes de son expérience personnelle.

In the full text of his clarification, Bishop Lovey insists that he never intended to hurt or offend anyone, points out quite correctly that in the original interview he clearly stated that homosexualiy is NOT a disease, and that the broader context of the interview had been to encourage a welcome for “homosexuals” in the Church. Yet even in his attempted apology, he once again used the word “cure”, which he said he had used specifically with reference to “a person who was homosexual and who talks in these terms about his personal experience”.

So if a “cure” is not appropriate for homosexuals in general, because it is not a disease, then when exactly does it become appropriate? It seems that his distinction applies to one who “talks in these terms about his personal experience”, which I suspect is a reference to those who are honest enough to identify openly as gay. We should also note that while it is certainly true that in his original interview, he denied that homosexuality is a disease – but he coupled this with a scarcely less offensive rider. Replying to the question, “For you, so it is a disease?” his answer was

No, it is a weakness of nature.

This second statement he did not retract, nor has he retracted his earlier claim that “psychological cures exist” (in French “Des guérisons psychologiques existent. L’homosexualité peut être guérie.”)


Exodus International: Ex-Gay Efforts Are Un-Christian

Exodus International has finally accepted reality. It has acknowledged that “ex – gay” reparative therapy does not work, it has apologised for the harm it has done by insisting that gay men and lesbians should attempt to become straight, and has voted to close down the organisation – and replace it with one which is more authentically Christian, safe and welcoming to all.


Alan Chambers and his wife, Leslie, respond to survivors of ex-gay therapy. (Picture – Advocate)

This does not come as a complete surprise. In recent years, a steady stream of individual Exodus leaders have recanted, and admitted that there are no ex – gays, only gays who have modified their behaviour, not their intrinsic orientation. This is the first time however that the group as a whole has accepted what those individuals have been saying. It is also notable for two specific admissions – that the attempts to change orientation can be harmful, and that their past approach, while supposedly based on Christian principles, was in fact profoundly un – Christian

Exodus International, ex-gays: Way Out, or In? Cure, or Disease?

Ex-gays, “cures” for homosexuality and the possibility of change in orientation are back in the news, with the APA conference now under way in Toronto.  One study, due for presentation this morning, is said to present evidence that contrary to the conventional view over the past few decades, “change” is indeed possible. This paper, by an openly evangelical Christian, was a longitudinal study of men who had undergone change therapy with Exodus .  The study was funded by Exodus, but results, he says, were not influenced by them. These showed that although the program was not successful in all cases, it was so with some of the subjects.Are you surprised?

Exodus Billboard
Exodus Billboard

Now, I am not particularly bothered by claims that change is “possible”.  Some LGBT commentators get worked up at the very suggestion, but I do not.  After all, it is fairly clear that we are not all uniformly “homo” or “hetero” -sexual:  most people sit somewhere on a spectrum.  Just a quick look at the very many out gay & lesbian people who have been married, and become parents, shows that it is at least possible to function in the hetero role. Change is possible in many areas of human behaviour.  Meat eaters routinely become vegetarians – and sometimes back again.  Lifelong couch potatoes can acquire an enthusiasm for the gym. And many people routinely change religious faith.  Christians become Muslims, Jews become Catholics, Catholics become Evangelicals, Evangelicals give up religion all the time.

And yes, even heterosexuality can be cured!

So I am not at all surprised by claims that there can be change in sexual practice.  Where I take strong exception, though, is with the idea that this can be called “therapy”, or is even desirable.   In fact, it is quite the reverse. The evidence from neutral psychotherapists, those with neither a religious nor sexual axe to grind, is that the best route to mental health is to live within your natural, primary orientation.  The evidence from personal stories of millions of gay men and lesbians around the world who have come out, confirms this. Nor is sexual “conversion” good for one’s spiritual health. Even within the Catholic tradition, theologians who are also professional psychotherapists confirms this. (See, for instance, Daniel Helminiak and John McNeill).   Exodus International is mistaking  the disease for the cure.  What is particularly scandalous in my mind, is the name they have chosen.

Moses Crossing Red Sea - Sistine Chapel
Moses Crossing Red Sea  (Cosimo Roselli, Sistine Chapel)

The Biblical story of the Exodus is one of liberation from slavery and oppression.  ”Let my people go” was a slogan taken from Exodus, freely adopted by the American civil rights movement, and by early black nationalists in South Africa.  Many LGBT commentators have proposed that gay Christians should use the book of Exodus as a theme for regular prayer and reflection in our own struggle against oppression by church and state and in our continual, endless process of coming out. (“Ex-odos”  is from the Greek for “way out”). More, in standard theology one of the primary tasks of the church is to take the “prophetic role” – that is , to speak up against evil and injustice. During my involvement with the Catholic Justice & Peace Commission back in South Africa, two texts that were endlessly repeated were  from Luke, and from Micah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Yet here we have a so-called Christian organisation appropriating the name to lead us not away from the oppression of the closet, but back into it.   If coming out is a spiritual experience, what words are appropriate for being led back in?

Am I going too far in suggesting “diabolical”?

Recommended Books

Daniel Helminiak: Sex and the Sacred

John McNeill: Taking a Chance on God

John McNeill: Sex and the Sacred

Richard Cleaver:Know My Name

Related Posts:

The Intimate Dance of Sexuality and Spirituality

Homoerotic Spirituality

Truth Wins Out Leviticus International Peter Toscano (Quaker, queer, and ex ex-gay)