John Paulk and the politicization of homosexuality – Mero Moment, 6/24/14

This post is a transcript of a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations.

GayBusEarlier this month, the Texas Republican Party adopted as a part of its latest platform a provision in support of what is called “reparative therapy,” whereby individuals struggling with homosexuality can receive professional counseling to help distance themselves from that behavior – if that is what they truly desire.

You might wonder what any of this has to do with politics, and the answer is that homosexual activists and their progressive friends have politicized “gay rights” so much that there’s hardly anything about homosexuality that remains a matter of privacy. The Texas Republican Party included this provision in its platform precisely because homosexual activists insist that homosexuality is immutable – and, if immutable, deserving of all civil rights protections and a matter of law and politics.

Most people don’t want to talk about this stuff. After all, it’s private. Most of us believe in live and let live. But when the Texas Republican Party did its thing, the liberal online report Politico ran a big story about a homosexual man named John Paulk who, for years, had a revolving door on his sexual closet and, in his estimation, finally came to realize that none of this so-called reparative therapy actually works. The fact is we talk about this stuff because these issues are symbolic of huge cultural shifts in the American psyche about right and wrong.

As fate would have it, I first met John Paulk in 1997 at the campus of Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs. Back then, John was a bit of a cause célèbre having renounced his homosexuality, crediting faith-based reparative therapy for helping him overcome his struggle. He was big news. He even made the cover of Time magazine in 1998. But shortly after that, in 2000, his world came apart at the seams. He was photographed at a homosexual bar in Washington, D.C., and not only was his reputation in ruins, the reparative therapy he had championed, even written a book about, was seriously questioned in the media.

Frankly, it all seemed a bit odd to me at the time. Too much in the debate over “gay rights” seemed to be riding on this one guy. Not to mention, I’ve never thought that a person can “pray away” such difficult personal struggles – a person’s faith can be important, but real professional help is needed for matters like addictions and depression-related behaviors.

There remain today two camps in the world of what is loosely called reparative therapy. One camp remains deeply devoted to praying away the sin of homosexuality. The other camp is comprised of professionals who treat homosexuality just like any other behavior-based addiction for which a person seeks honest treatment. A friend of mine, a professional in the latter camp, shared with me his thoughts. He said, “John Paulk may well carry those attractions throughout a lifetime with little emotional relief. And, if you become a ‘ministry star’ where you speak, travel and write books about your journey out of homosexuality, how do you tell someone that you are still hurting and really need assistance? … These are private and very personal matters that would be inhibited by the ‘spotlight’ of media attention. They are best addressed in a quiet and confidential setting.”

Politicizing homosexuality only serves two interests: Progressives seeking to change traditional culture, and homosexual activists seeking to justify their lifestyle. And neither interest serves the common good or real people struggling with these deeply personal issues.

For Sutherland Institute, I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.

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