shocking surprise — you can’t pray the gay away

Remember when Ted Haggard, the leader of America’s most powerful evangelical megachurch, was caught smoking crystal meth and making love to male prostitutes? Remember how, in the wake of the scandal, he assembled a team of religious councilors who were going to “cure” him of his homosexuality? Well, it looks like they’ve given up. Here’s a clip from today’s Colorado Confidential:

Technically, it only took three weeks of intensive “restoration” a full year ago to make Ted Haggard a “complete heterosexual.” But on Tuesday night, the new pastor of the Colorado Springs megachurch that Haggard founded has announced that Haggard is quitting the team — and that “the process of restoring Ted Haggard is incomplete…”

That’s right, they said they could make him straight in three weeks, and now, after a whole year of trying, they’ve given up. I’m as shocked as you are. I was certain that, with a little bit of hard work, homosexuality could be remedied. “Surely,” I thought, “if speech impediments and lazy eyes can be corrected, so can homosexuality.” I guess that’s not the case though. If Haggard, as motivated as he was to be straight, as close as he was to God, and with as many resources at his disposal as he had, couldn’t do it, I’m inclined to say that it can’t be done… So, if you’ve paid for the “gay cure” I want you to do three things today: stop fooling yourself, stop hating yourself, and ask for your money back.

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40 Comments

  1. Ol' E Cross
    Posted February 6, 2008 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Haggard be damned (yes, literally!), I am living proof, thanks to the tireless intercession of my wife, that you can pray the gay away.

    (FYI: You can also pray away jimmy-legs, snoring, and lethally long toe-nails.)

  2. Stella
    Posted February 7, 2008 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    They should have used a candy reward system like my grade school speech therapy program did. Candy everytime you do it right. Apparently it works, I hardly ever stutter and only lisp when I sing. They probably could have gotten him to a place of MOSTLY hetero.
    Plus all that candy makes you the unchallenged king of recess.

  3. Paw
    Posted February 7, 2008 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    I think that’s how they turned him gay in the first place, Stella. Only instead of candy it was meth amphetamine.

  4. JMeyer
    Posted February 7, 2008 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Sometimes it takes longer. A fraud like Ted who held a prominent position with national media attention, who publicly repeatedly denounced a behavior that he secretly engaged in, certainly can’t be said to be “close to God”. If you are really want to change your sexual orientation, numerous published medical research papers attest that the success rate is 30 – 50%.

  5. Mr. X
    Posted February 7, 2008 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    So, J, you’re telling me that with a little hard work, you could turn up to 50% of straight men gay? You’ll have to excuse me for saying this, but bullshit.

  6. JMeyer
    Posted February 7, 2008 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    You’re correct in stating that you’re interpretation is bullshit. The percentages previously cited are from studies that involved persons changing from homosexuality to heterosexuality, and included only those persons who wanted to change.

  7. Tommy
    Posted February 7, 2008 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Kind of like a serial murderer becoming a saved christian whilst incarcerated, meaning that heaven awaits. Excuse me if I find the changing teams is successful ‘only if you want to change’ rather humorous.

  8. Bean
    Posted February 7, 2008 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    This development gives me hope that one day yet we’ll see Ted Haggard at the front of the SF Pride parade wearing only tighty-whities and roller skates, holding hands with his boyfriend, and waving a pride flag.

  9. Mark H.
    Posted February 7, 2008 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Martin Duberman’s wonderful memoir, “Cures”, demolishes the idea that gay men who really want to become straight can be transformed by therapy or any other treatment. Duberman made every possible effort, to no avail, and he encountered some fraudulent therapists along the way who were willing to take his money. This was all back in the pre Stonewall era, but there’s no more reason today to think that these so called “cures” are anything but frauds.

  10. JMeyer
    Posted February 7, 2008 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    No more reason except the existence of hundreds of thousands of ex-gays. If sexual preference is fixed and unchangeable, how can all the members of the alphabet soup (LGBTQ) agree on anything. What does a bisexual person think when a gay man tells him/her that sexual orientation is immutable? Do you think they are all frauds?

  11. mark
    Posted February 7, 2008 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure some people, like Genesis P-Orridge, who I mentioned last night in another thread, are completely beyond sex. Good for them, I suppose. I think the other 99.9% of us, however, have our preferences when it comes to who we’d like to share our bed with. And, I don’t think any amount of prayer and therapy can change that. Sure, I suppose that some can repress the biological urge, but I don’t think they can just make it go away. At least I’m fairly certain that no one could change me.

  12. Escuerd
    Posted February 7, 2008 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    JMeyer, the fact that you equate bisexuality with a mutable sexual orientation demonstrates a very facile understanding of the subject. The existence of bisexual people doesn’t automatically entail that sexual orientation can change.

    I suspect, based on previous experience, that most people who tout gay ministries don’t really understand what people mean when they say they don’t work, because they have no concept of sexual orientation, only behavior. Obviously behavior can change, but the common practice is to conflate the two whenever they talk about “all the people that have successfully changed”.

    The only author I’m aware of who concluded that changes in sexual orientation were ever possible is Spitzer, and he did this based on telephone interviews with people whose ministries had judged to be successes, and even among this group, only concluded that on the order of 10% had changed. With the motivation for dishonesty and self-delusion that comes with those groups, I wouldn’t put much stock in those minority phone interviews.

    Even if we accept that sexual orientation can be mutable (a highly dubious claim), then it does not follow that it’s universally so (however much better that might fit with naive religious beliefs).

    [Incidentally, there is one study that seems to show that among self-identified bisexual men arousal is bimodal, but I am not aware of anyone trying to replicate it, and it had a fairly small sample size.]

  13. John on Forest
    Posted February 7, 2008 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    Maybe we’re just not praying hard enough.

    If God can raise His Son from the dead, then She can change the sexual orientation of an individual.

    Of course the question has to be asked whether God has the will or desire to make such a change in Her own creation.

    If the ‘gay haters’ would spend a little more time gaining a more thorough understanding of the God, that they claim abhors homosexuality, they would realize, that, not only does God NOT abhor homosexuality, but that God is the architect of it.

  14. Ol' E Cross
    Posted February 7, 2008 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    Friends, feel free to leave this thread, I’m just a little curious about an aside.

    Escuerd: “Obviously behavior can change.”

    Given what we are increasingly learning about genetic predispositions for any number of socially construed positive/negative behaviors, if something is deemed negative/immoral, isn’t behavior change all society is really concerned about? I.e., “I am a natural-born alcoholic, but I’ve learned to behave otherwise.” (Well, I haven’t, but, anyway…)

    I’ve been puzzled, for a while, over the debate over whether gayness is a choice or inborn. If we isolate the gay gene, and find a gentleman behaving gay who we test and discover doesn’t have the gay gene, does that mean he isn’t really gay and should become straight?

    I’m not doubting the genetic origins of orientation, but if you say it’s okay to be gay, because you were born that way, doesn’t it follow that if you weren’t “born” gay you shouldn’t be gay? Are we all forced to live within the confines of our genetic makeup? Is change ever possible or desirable? Shouldn’t people born gay have the choice to live straight and people born straight have the choice to live gay? What do we value more, choice or genetics? Does choice ever exist? Why is choosing to be gay, apparently, less admirable than being born gay?

    In short, isn’t possible Mark can change, at least for one night…

  15. Craggy
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    So you think there are people out there who don’t like gay sex, who, nonetheless, want to live as gay men? I wasn’t aware of such a phenomenon. Sure, there are straight men, who like appearing gay – they self-identify as metrosexuals – but I’m not aware of instances where they decide to take up gay sax like it was knitting. Anything is possible though.

  16. thirdcity
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Nice comment John on Forest, though you’re mixing your possessive adjectives (‘Her Son’).

    Only because sex is involved is anyone (make that everyone) interested. Get over yourselves folks – sexual preference is not a man-made design, therefore, it is natural. There are so many real issues to deal with – that’s not one of them.

    And no, you don’t get to choose who you’re attracted to.

  17. Karen Tonio
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    I have prayed for years and years that I might be attracted to ugly men. So far, no luck. Unless something happens soon, I’m going to have to leave New Jersey.

  18. Posted February 8, 2008 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    As long as bats aren’t having sex with cows, I’m ok with it. Seriously, none of my business.

    Craggy: Is picking up knitting much easier than picking up a happy saxophone? (I couldn’t pass it up, people. I just couldn’t.)

  19. John on Forest
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    Actually, thirdcity, my mixture was intentional. I believe God is both male and female, at the same time. If you’re bent on literal interpretation of the Bible (I’m not.), then the one version of the creation in Genesis which says “God created man and woman in his own image” obviously means the image of God is both man and woman.

  20. Ol' E Cross
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    Craggy,

    Let me clarify. As someone whose DNA is from a father who died when I was two and was raised, by all reports, by a very differently talented father since before I was four, I find the nature/nurture stuff interesting. As someone who should be, DNA wise, happiest building custom cabinets in the south, but instead, has followed my adopted dad’s more literary path, it’s not a stretch for me to imagine that there are men/women with straight DNA living gay lives and men/women with gay DNA living straight lives. (Addendum: I would be happier, professionally, building cabinets, just not in the south.)

    Much of the public debate on gayness is focused around whether folks are “born that way.” My question is, why do we care? Who cares if gender preference is biological or a result of environment/choice or, at times, a mixture of the two?

    We’re all born with DNA that is deemed socially positive (sense of humor, let’s say) and all born with DNA that, at least by society, is deemed negative (violent tempter, for example). We are rewarded for some of our innate behaviors, diminished for others.

    I like the idea that I can change some of my less beneficial behavior through prayer, transcendental meditation, spousal intervention or the criminal justice system. I like the idea that I can enhance some of my more positive traits through the same things. There’s much I love about the DNA I was given. But, I like to pretend I have the choice of wrestling beyond its lesser traits. And, if I find satisfaction in things that weren’t predestined when the sperm hit the egg, I’d like to think that they have as much “moral value” as following the ancestral train.

    So, back on topic, why does it matter if you were born gay or chose gay? Why is that even a concern?

    Aw, heck. Nevermind. I just realized. That’s not me, it’s just my DNA talking…

    (Oh, and JoF, God isn’t both male and female, I know God, and God is neither male nor female…now it’s on!)

  21. Posted February 9, 2008 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    “”God created man and woman in his own image” obviously means the image of God is both man and woman.”

    “(Oh, and JoF, God isn’t both male and female, I know God, and God is neither male nor female…now it’s on!)”

    This type of thinking is exactly why Christianity never stuck to me, no matter how much my mother tried to indoctrinate me. Most of the worlds philosophies (mythologies) are all to anthropocentric for me to get into. Who’s to say that a god has to look like anything we can comprehend? Who’s to say that the dolphin or a lab rat isn’t smarter than the average human. Who’s to say that god can’t look like a duck-billed platypus? It’s selfish to think that man is the only creature worth a damn on this planet. It’s exactly that type of thinking that has gotten us into the environmental nightmare we’re in now. (ie fuck the spotted owl, man needs more paper; fuck Alaskan wildlife, man needs more oil). We are not alone on this planet and it would be advisable to remember that. We have a symbiotic relationship with this planet and it’s other denizens. Man is not above the animals. He is one. And as Burroughs once said, “Man is a bad animal.”

    PS. The answer to the meaning of life is 42. I read that in my bible. Which is a far funnier and often times saner view of the world than the one found in Thee Bible.

  22. John on Forest
    Posted February 9, 2008 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Edweird,

    I know where my towel is, so keep banging the rocks together. And, what about that bowl of petunias?

    “bent on literal interpretation of the Bible (I’m not.)” Everyone seemed to miss this part of my post.

    I really do support your interpretation, Edweird, regarding the largeness of God. Also, very nice sermon on stewardship too. :)

    I wonder if banging rocks together is a gay reference. ?

    Does the corner brewery have pan-galactic gargle blasters?

  23. Posted February 9, 2008 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    “Does the corner brewery have pan-galactic gargle blasters?”

    No, but wouldn’t it be awesome if they did?

    Yeah, I don’t usually get that huffy about the whole thing, but I woke up remembering how a 24 percenter once told me I needed to get out of America because I didn’t believe in Jesus and that I thought there was nothing wrong with being gay.

  24. BinaryBob
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Karen Tonio,

    Check out Des Moines.

  25. Little Dick Dave
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    What’s wrong with Jersey men? If you’ve got problems with men like these, I think the problem is you.

  26. Posted February 18, 2008 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    so, i read through all of these comments multiple times and gagged. study/schmudy.

    if you do not get it on with a person of the same sex (or two or three people) then please do not hypothesize about what it means to be gay or not to be gay or if it is curable or not.

    first, go and have sex with someone who has the same genitalia as you have and then, then, you can have a word in on the debate.

  27. mark
    Posted February 18, 2008 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think you need to be gay to say bullshit when you see people selling a “gay cure,” the same way I don’t think you need to be a Scientologist to say that there’s probably something wrong with a religion that charges its practitioners. I get where you’re coming from. I personally cringe when I read what people unlike me write about things I care about. But I don’t think the answer is to say that they aren’t entitled to join the conversation. I think that’s a bad long term strategy. You run the risk of alienating people that could very well be on your side… I’m sick, and I’m up too late, but I hope that makes some sense… If not, I’m sorry.

  28. Posted February 19, 2008 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    My comment was not directed at your post. Your post was funny and sarcastic. it was directed at the comments referring to study upon study upon study.

    I get tired of folks hypothesizing about desire when perhaps they have never actually tasted the desire that they hypothesize about. I was a bit drunk when i commented, no alienation intended. I guess I just want folks to stop trying to box up gender and sexuality and sexual desire into scientific terms and sociological studies and let people live their lives the way they are inclined or constructed to live em.

  29. mark
    Posted February 19, 2008 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for taking the time to come back and leave another comment. I completely understand where you’re coming from.

  30. i hate em
    Posted April 1, 2008 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Kill gays

  31. i hate em
    Posted April 1, 2008 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    kill em kill gays

  32. mark
    Posted April 1, 2008 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for clarifying with your second point, i hate em. I wasn’t persuaded by your first comment, but it’s clear from your second comment that you’ve given this some serious thought.

  33. Posted April 1, 2008 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    kill gay haters.

    mark, I hope you don’t need a second post to know I’ve given this a good deal of serious thought.

  34. If gays ruled
    Posted April 2, 2008 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    If only gays ruled the world there wouldn’t be any more wars!

  35. Brackache
    Posted April 2, 2008 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Just passive-aggressive pouting fits that last years for no reason.

  36. Anonymatt
    Posted April 2, 2008 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    I’m surprised “i hate em” not only hates gays, but specific characters from the Wizard of Oz as well.

  37. mark
    Posted April 2, 2008 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    I had to take his Professor Marvel comments down altogether. They were too inflammatory.

  38. Posted April 3, 2008 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    “Curing” gay people is so much crap, the terminology alone is offensive.

    Human sexual behavior is flexible but the focus of human sexual desire is usually not. Given sufficient motivation (living in prison, starvation, need for drugs) men who desire women will have sex with other men. They have not been “cured” of their heterosexual desires but have decided that, given the circumstances, they will engage in homosexual behavior.

    In a similar way, given sufficient motivation (threat of prison, burning at the stake, eternity in the Lake of Fire, ostracism from family and community, guilt), men who desire other men will have sex with and marry women. They have not been “cured” of their homosexual desires but have decided that, given the circumstances, they will engage in heterosexual behavior.

    These guys will claim they have been “cured” and no longer have any desire for men, but given the motivation for their “cure” this is not surprising.

  39. Escuerd
    Posted September 27, 2008 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Ol’ E Cross:

    I’ve been puzzled, for a while, over the debate over whether gayness is a choice or inborn. If we isolate the gay gene, and find a gentleman behaving gay who we test and discover doesn’t have the gay gene, does that mean he isn’t really gay and should become straight?

    It would be evidence that there are other causes for gay behavior. It has absolutely no implications for what he “should” do.

    Just for the record, we’re pretty sure that there’s no single gay gene, but there is a genetic influence. That is because the heritability is neither zero nor one. It’s large enough to be significant, though. Compare it to left-handedness.

    I’m not doubting the genetic origins of orientation, but if you say it’s okay to be gay, because you were born that way, doesn’t it follow that if you weren’t “born” gay you shouldn’t be gay?

    No, it doesn’t follow. This is a logical fallacy called “denying the antecedent”.

    Given a statement like “X implies Y,” it does NOT follow that “(not X) implies (not Y).”

    And in any case I have never held that it’s OK to be gay because that’s how people were born. The question of whether sexual orientation is innate or mutable is morally irrelevant. I think it’s OK to have gay relationships and sex because people capable of thinking as rational adults should have a large amount of autonomy over their bodies.

    Moreover, any action ought to be morally acceptable by default. There must be a reason for it NOT to be. The vast majority of reasons for moral condemnation of homosexuality are just based on superstition/religion, and obviously I don’t find those credible.

    Are we all forced to live within the confines of our genetic makeup?

    That’s not how genetics works. Even so, some things are not really changeable. Left-handedness is a good model. Keep in mind that it’s only partly heritable, but is determined before birth and not mutable (though people can learn to imitate right-handed behavior).

    Is change ever possible or desirable? Shouldn’t people born gay have the choice to live straight and people born straight have the choice to live gay?

    Well, sure, I believe in personal autonomy, but this is like asking “Shouldn’t people who don’t like asparagus have the choice to eat asparagus?” Well of course, but no one is trying to deny them that choice. Pointing out that there are biological causes for some preferences doesn’t amount to taking choice away from anyone, but simply trying to understand the truth.

    Does choice ever exist? Why is choosing to be gay, apparently, less admirable than being born gay?

    Did I say anything like that? I didn’t even begin to address values. Don’t confuse what is true with what you’d like to be true.

  40. Much love
    Posted September 27, 2008 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s okay to make love to a dog as long as the dog likes it, and it’s up to you to prove there’s something morally wrong with that.

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