In this case, “that” is curing the gay. A group called “Setting Captives Free” has published an app on Google Play that they claim can cure gay people with a two month course. Well, isn’t that special? And, it’s not just those dirty homosexuals who are helped by Setting Captives Free, they have programs for gamblers, gluttons, alcoholics and sex addicts. And, every one lasting just a couple of months.
This must be a huge breakthrough in psychological circles. There are people who have dealt with these problems for years, working in 12 step programs and therapy. Now, with a 60 day interactive course, they can find freedom from their demons. And, it’s free! Why hasn’t someone done this before now?
Probably because it doesn’t work. These aren’t conditions that can be cured, only survived. In the case of homosexuality, they’re on a particularly weak limb, as the psychiatric community doesn’t consider homosexuality a mental disorder and the diagnosis was removed from the DSM in 1986. The truth is, the American Psychological Association found that “societal ignorance, prejudice and pressure to conform to heterosexual desires” are the real dangers to the mental health of LGBT people. Setting Captives Free claims over 500,000 people have benefitted from their work, yet their app only has 18 positive reviews and 204 negative ones. What’s up with that?
Setting Captives Free is where bad methodolgy and faulty theology meet and it’s on the sexual end of things where that becomes most apparent. In a day when more and more experts are telling us that not only is conversion therapy ineffective, but damaging to those it is inflicted upon (see earlier paragraph about how it works), I’m a little surprised to see something like this. More and more, we hear of people who, for years, claimed to be “ex-gay” and are now saying that it was all a sham. Probably the most well-known is John Paulk, former chairman of Exodus International, who recently said “I do not believe that reparative therapy changes sexual orientation”. In a recent survey by the group Beyond Ex-gay of ex-gay survivors, 12 out of 415 respondants identified as “straight”. That’s 3% if you don’t feel like doing the math.
They also offer a course on sexual purity, as in no nookie till marriage. Regardless of when you think sex is appropriate, the purity culture of evangelicalism is a problem. It’s a problem because it tells girls the worth is directly related to their viriginity: lose it before you tie the knot and you’re damaged goods that no one decent man will want. Any time you use the Bible to make someone feel so bad about themselves they consider suicide, I’ve got to think you’re doing it wrong.
I don’t doubt the sincerity of the people behind Setting Captives Free, but trivializing addiction by saying that one can “find freedom” through one of their courses or telling people that their worth is tied up in their sexuality isn’t helping anyone. The truth of the matter is that you can’t “fix” people; you can only love them and help them learn to love themselves. Besides, as John and Paul said, “Love is all you need”.