Br. Gabriel, OP asks in the comments:
I want to ask a really, really, controversial question. Your post made me think about it because you didn’t say anything about it explicitly but I felt it might be lurking in the background. The question is about the inner fear of not doing everything to “fix this” issue. What if part of the fear of and ostracism of reparative therapy is that it partially restores the notion that SSA is a mental disorder even though the clinical community has formally dropped SSA from the official list of mental disorders and diseases?
You’re right, Br. Gabriel, that’s a whole can of worms!
I’d like to write a cohesive, coherent, exhaustive post on the topic, but I’m not ready to do that yet. So I’ll just reply, more or less off the cuff; let’s see where that gets me.1
To begin with, I don’t see how it is possible for anybody to simultaneously hold these two positions:
(1) Homosexual sex is an intrinsically disordered action.
(2) The desire for homosexual sex is not a disordered desire.
Those two positions couldn’t be more contradictory. If gay sex is okay, then desiring it is okay. If gay sex is disordered, then desiring it is disordered.
Or maybe someone would argue that gay sex isn’t intrinsically disordered, but that God has somehow forbidden it anyhow? That seems even more absurd than the first set of propositions. God doesn’t forbid things arbitrarily.
Notice that I’m talking only about the act of homosexual sex. I’m not saying that SSA is solely and simply the desire for gay sex. Far from it (see below)! And I do think there are many aspects of SSA which are good in themselves. Exactly what those aspects are, and how they are to be integrated into the rest of the personality — well, I’m still working that out.
Melinda Selmys has a really excellent post on the topic here. I still don’t know how much of it I agree with, but there’s a lot to think about. Here’s an excerpt:
Gayness is not reduceable to homosexual sex, or the desire to have homosexual sex. It is a way of relating to other people, a way of appreciating human beauty, and a way of relating to one’s own gender. Most people who identify as chaste, gay Christians, are referring to involuntary currents of homoeroticism and gender-queerness that run through the personality.
I love that last sentence. SSA isn’t the final word or the whole word about who I am, but I don’t think it can be thought of as a discrete part of my personality, either. Whatever it is, there are threads of it running through most of what I call myself. Some of ‘em are good are some of ‘em are decidedly bad.
Some of the bad ones: envy, insecurity, a sense of irreconcileable difference, a sense of shame. Maybe those things are intrinsically connected with SSA and maybe they aren’t, but they are absolutely central to my experience of the phenomenon. During periods of my life when I’ve felt secure in my own identity, happy with who I am, and grateful for the thing in my life, my sexual attraction to men has all but disappeared. That can’t be an accident.
Some of the good ones: a certain appreciation of masculinity as masculinity; a certain openness to same-gender emotional intimacy. Neither of those things are necessarily present in people with SSA or absent in those without it, but again, those things are very closely tied to the way I’ve always experienced SSA. And, unlike my sexual attraction to men, these things don’t disappear during the good times.
Oh boy, that was longer than I meant it to be. I don’t have any answers, but I’m interested in what y’all have to say about it.