In conjunction with the 'Theology in the Pub' crew led by Penny Badwal (Marriage, Family and Life Office, Melbourne), Marie and Alan Mason and the members of Courage and EnCourage Melbourne hosted a public talk late last year by US Catholic psychologist, Dr Timothy Lock, at the Cardinal Knox Centre and Campion House, Kew.
Dr Lock opened saying, 'I come as an ambassador of hope.' He said there is much cause for hope because the three big myths, that some people are born gay, that one cannot change one's sexual orientation, and that trying to change the homosexual orientation is harmful, are just that, myths.
Citing scientific research, he exposed nine gay myths.
* Gay persons are born that way (there is a gay gene).
According to Dr Francis S. Collins, a leading scientist in DNA research, 'There is an inescapable component of heritability to many behavioural traits - however, for virtually none of them is heredity even close to predictive.' For example, twin studies show that the likelihood of the identical twin of a homosexual male also being homosexual is about 20% (the Australian Twin Registry shows 11%), indicating that the role of genes is a predisposition to homosexuality, not a predetermination.
* Once gay, always gay.
Sexual orientation can actually change. First, there is 'change without intervention'. Most change occurs outside therapy. Second, there is 'change with active intervention', through spiritual healing and psychotherapy.
* 10% of the general population is gay.
The fact is that only 2-3% are homosexually inclined. 'The myth gained credence from Alfred Kinsey who made conclusions regarding 'normal' human sexual behaviour based on his findings from selected groups of individuals, for example, prisoners. If you want to learn about 'normal' sexual behaviour you don't ask prisoners, or any other specialised groups; you obtain a random sample of the whole population (something Kinsey didn't do).'
* In terms of psychological and emotional health, the gay person is identical to the heterosexual person.
In fact, homosexual persons suffer about 66% more psychological and emotional ill-health than do heterosexuals.
A 2005 survey by D.M. Ferguson and associates of adults aged 21- 26 found contrasts between the rates of various signs of mental illness in homosexual versus heterosexual individuals. Major depression was found in 71.4% of homosexuals and only 14.5% in heterosexuals. The contrast for suicidal ideation was 70% and 10.9% (for homo- and heterosexuals, respectively). For suicidal acts the contrast was 28% to 1.6%, for illicit drug dependence it was 42.9% to 11.1%.
Other studies found similar results.
* Psychopathology amongst the gay population is due to cultural intolerance.
But studies from gay-tolerant cultures, such as those in the Netherlands, show the same findings of increased depression, anxiety, suicidality and so on in homosexuals compared with heterosexuals. Psychopathology cannot then be explained simply by a 'homophobic' culture.
* 'Gay' is the same as 'homo- sexual'.
'Gay' is a socio-political term. A non-gay homosexual should be called 'an individual with same-sex attraction (or SSA)'.
* Some animals are homosexual, and therefore homosexuality is natural.
However, homosexual activity in animals is anomalous, only occurring in times of extreme stress or in unnatural conditions. In any case (one might add), the specific dignity of the human person means that the behaviour of animals is an inappropriate guide for human norms.
* All cultures throughout history have accepted homosexuality.
This is false: before modern times, no culture has ever elevated homosexuality to the same dignity or level as heterosexuality, as is happening today (one hesitates even to use the term 'heterosexuality', which might imply that this is just one option or variation in sexuality, when it is in fact the God-given norm). The embracing of homosexuality, 'gay marriage' and 'gay adoption' as equivalent to traditional structures of marriage and family is an unprecedented social experiment.
* Gay men have long term monogamous relationships too.
In fact, 93 to 100% of gay male couples behave with infidelity, as opposed to 25% in heterosexual couples.
Dr Lock next referred to the ground-breaking research and therapeutic work of US psychologist, Dr Joseph Nicolosi, who is a world- eminent authority on same-sex attraction. Briefly, factors in the development of SSA in men are mainly: child conflict with mother and father, the wound of peer rejection (often associated with inadequacy when it comes to sport), sexual abuse, poor body image, the failure of the parents to encourage same-sex identification and support gender identity, and parental loss. For women, these are: conflict with mother and father, peer rejection wound, sexual abuse, poor body image, male betrayal and extreme loneliness.
Finally, Dr Lock gave positive guidelines for pastoral support. Individuals with SSA are encouraged to find healing intimacy with God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to get to know Our Lady and the saints, to meditate on Scripture, to pray the Rosary daily, to adore our Lord in the Eucharist, etc. Support groups are vital.
For friends and family of those with SSA, Dr Lock above all recommended being 'a father to the fatherless', to have respect and a listening ear (without compromising truth). He exhorted all to live chastely.
Contacts for Courage:
Brisbane: Brendan Scarce; Sydney: Fr Peter Joseph; Adelaide: Pauline Schooling; Melbourne: Fr Laurie Leonard and Alan and Marie Mason, encouragemelbourne_at_yahoo.com