Seeking the Straight and Narrow

I have a review in this week’s issue of The Christian Century, taking a look at this book:

Here’s how it begins:

Last year a furor erupted when Alix Spiegel’s story “Can Therapy Help Change Sexual Orientation?” aired on NPR’s Morning Edition. Spiegel talked to two men who had undergone what is sometimes called conversion therapy, briefly exploring the ethical questions raised by the controversial practice, which the vast majority of health practitioners regard as not only ineffective but harmful. For Rich Wyler, one of the men Spiegel interviewed, being gay and Christian simply cost too much; despite the substantial criticisms of “reparative” therapy, he wanted it. “How dare they tell me that my goal is not legitimate,” he said. “That is unethical.”

Some listeners complained that NPR was giving a hearing to a project that was discredited by the American Psychological Association in 1975. Others suggested that people wishing to become “ex-gay” have the right to engage even in disputed projects like reorientation.

Most people outside evangelical culture contest the legitimacy of groups like Exodus International, the world’s largest conversion therapy organization, with over 260 local organizations. But most people unquestioningly support and even share, at least in principle, the goals of groups like First Place, a weight-loss program associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, even though permanent weight loss is nearly as problematic and unsuccessful as sexual reorientation.

And you can read the rest here.