October 2016 – “I used to be gay,” a man said matter-of-factly from across the table.
Used to be gay? Is that possible? Can a person’s sexual orientation change?
Over lunch at this professional conference, I became acquainted with Ben Spratling. The conversation was fascinating. He shared about both childhood and adult confusion related to gender and sexuality.
Spratling had been exclusively sexually attracted to other males. He was ashamed and incredibly confused by feelings that were inconsistent with both physiology and the biblical teachings he believed.
He pursued change for his attractions, and over an 11-year period, he received healing through a variety of avenues. Through that period of time, Spratling, who has a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering, realized that Scripture and science are not in opposition.
He now serves on the advisory board of Voice of the Voiceless, an organization that defends the rights of those who have been set free from homosexual attraction and those who desire to be set free. These individuals, their families, and others who support them routinely find themselves marginalized, misrepresented, and condemned by the media, gay activists, and others.
Countless Bible-believing Christians have experienced similar treatment. VOTV supports the faith-based community and defends the constitutional rights of all Americans to publicly share their views on homosexuality.
Christopher Doyle is cofounder of VOTV and a licensed professional counselor. His training and past personal experience with same sex attraction (SSA) has uniquely equipped him to help heterosexuals who struggle with unwanted SSA.
“Those who have gone through therapy on this issue tend to be in counseling for quite a long time,” Doyle explained to AFA Journal. “They typically have a lot of issues to work through.”
After his own 11-year journey, Doyle has become determined to fight for others who choose the road of healing. He works to block legislative efforts to ban “talk therapy,” the term used to identify ethically sound methods employed by counselors and psychologists for helping inherent heterosexuals identify the causes and resolve the underlying factors that lead to SSA.
Over the last three years, 20 states have rejected legislative efforts to ban talk therapy. However, the District of Columbia and five states (California, Oregon, Illinois, New Jersey, and Vermont) have passed bills into law that effectively prohibit licensed professional counselors from accommodating minors seeking help to resolve issues causing SSA.
“We have seen a drop in the number of therapy ban bills introduced in state legislatures this year,” said Doyle. “Last year, there were approximately 18 states that introduced therapy ban legislation. In 2016, there were only 10, and the bills were rejected in nine of those states.”
According to Doyle, legislative bans have been successful in a few liberal states in part because Republicans have hesitated to challenge gay activists in fear that they will be dragged through the mud in the media. The gay activist agenda has established a clear pattern to impact public opinion whenever a state is considering a therapy ban bill. Just before such a bill is introduced in a state legislature, a highly circulated regional newspaper often publishes a story about someone who was electroshocked. Then, an unverified story usually takes center stage during legislative committee hearings.
In California, for example, a bill was passed with the help of an openly gay legislator who told horror stories of electroshock therapy and aversive methods. Although such methods have not been used since the 1960s, this narrative often prevails. As a result, legislators and the general public are left to believe that parents are constraining LGBT identified children and forcing them into licensed therapy using aversive methods, a type of behavior therapy designed to make patients give up an undesirable habit by causing them to associate it with an unpleasant effect.
Two years ago, in Washington state, a line of people appeared before a legislative committee claiming they had been electroshocked. Of course, everyone present responded with horror. As a result, the bill was rewritten to allow for talk therapy while specifically banning electroshock and aversion therapy.
“And they presented this to the Democrats in committee as a compromise,” explained Doyle, “to say ‘If you are really concerned about protecting youth from harmful and barbaric practices, we are with you.’ But the Democrats opposed it.”
The electroshock therapy claims are clearly used as the lure in a bait and switch scheme. “When they find out all the stories are fabricated,” explained Doyle, “we call them out on it. They say, ‘Oh well, maybe that’s not happening, but we should still ban talk therapy as well.’”
Although the bills are usually very similar, nuances in language can be significant.
“The worst bill we've ever seen was introduced in Massachusetts this year,” said Doyle. Within its language, therapy to help minors resolve SSA was equated to child abuse. The bill never made it to a vote.
“The penalty for violating the law has always been on the practitioner, not the parent or the child,” he explained. “[Had it passed], parents could actually have their child taken away from them by the state if found to have taken their child to therapy for this issue – even if the child wanted to go to therapy.”
On the other side of the coin, the American Counseling Association in Tennessee passed a rule barring member counselors from referring clients based on religious beliefs. In other words, the ruling prohibited a licensed counselor from referring a client who sought affirmation for homosexuality or transgenderism to another counselor.
“We believe the rule is clearly unconstitutional and against the ethics of the profession,” said Doyle. “It is a longstanding ethical tradition of the mental health field for both counselor and clients that if they reach an impasse where they can't support a client, the ethical duty is to refer a client to someone who can.”
The state of Tennessee agreed. Practitioners celebrated a victory when SB 1556 was signed into law on April 27, superseding the ACA’s ruling.
A family approach
According to Doyle, dysfunctional dynamics are often present within the family. In his work through the Institute for Healthy Families, the families of LGBT-identified children receive coaching on how to love their kids the right way. Promotion of bonding and family healing often brings about healing for the child.
When it comes to LGBT-identified children, it's not hopeless. There are more loving solutions for these families than simply accepting that a child is gay.
Dennis Jernigan’s story, Sing over Me, reveals his years-long struggle with SSA and how, through faith in Christ, he found victory. The DVD is available at afastore.net.
Stand for Truth Conference
Equality and Justice for All
P.O. Box 15898
Arlington, VA 22215
Institute for Healthy Families
IHF healing weekend retreats for parents of LGBT-identified children