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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Questions and Answers

I’m impressed with your website, a true gem in today’s perverted world. My question is what do you think of [changing sexual orientation with psychotherapy]. I suffer from a male identity problem and have homosexual tendencies and have been tormented with this secret condition all my life and want to seek help but don’t know how? Can you please advise me?

Outline of the Answer
• Changing Sexual Orientation with Psychotherapy
• Beware the Techniques of Change
• Your Reasons for Wanting Change
• Bringing About the Change
     Chastity
     The Psychological Work
     Resisting Interior Temptations
     Resisting Exterior Temptations

 
The organization (NARTH) to which you refer does not represent any particular treatment modality; it’s simply an association of psychotherapists who assert that, through psychotherapy, sexual “orientation” can be changed; that is, homosexual desires can be altered to heterosexual desires. As far as that goes, I agree with them.

I see two issues in all this that are critical to the Catholic Faith, however.

 
Beware the Techniques of Change

First, it is important to understand what sort of techniques will be used in the treatment and if those techniques are faithful to the Magisterium of the Church. For example, forcing a person to look at heterosexual pornography to increase heterosexual desires is a grave mistake, because pornography is a mortal sin. Christ himself said that whoever looks with lust at another person commits adultery. Telling a person to masturbate to heterosexual fantasies rather than homosexual fantasies is also a grave mistake, because masturbation is a mortal sin: it focuses purely on bodily pleasure, thereby defiling the sacred, reproductive purpose for which God created sexuality. 

So be careful here, because calling something a “scientific” treatment does not shield it from being a sin. If, however, you can get to the deep, unconscious conflicts that have led to your developing your particular erotic desires as a psychological defense, and by rigorous treatment resolve those conflicts, your sexual “orientation” can change, and the work can be fruitful.[1]

 
Your Reasons for Wanting Change

Second, it is important to consider your reasons for wanting to change your “identity.” If you want to be able to get married and have children so as to live a devout Catholic family life and raise your children as sincere Catholics, then fine. But if, in acquiring heterosexual attractions you merely start committing heterosexual sins, rather than homosexual ones, then what have you accomplished?

 
Bringing About the Change

Below are some fundamental concepts necessary to bring about a change from a homosexual identity to a true Christian identity.

 
Chastity

Chastity is a fundamental component to a Christian lifestyle, and anyone who is committed to a lifestyle that defiles chastity has no place in the Kingdom of Heaven. Yes, gay and lesbian lifestyles, by definition, are committed to offending chastity; but heterosexual sins (such as sexual activity outside Holy Matrimony, and lustful sexual activity within Holy Matrimony) also offend chastity.

The real issue here, then, is to live a life of pure chastity, regardless of the nature and origin of underlying “attractions” for anyone or anything. 

  

For all its research and theoretical speculation, psychology finds itself in the place of having to admit that the origin of homosexuality in any person is a complex matter; that is, there are so many factors (family dynamics, social conditioning, and genetics) so intertwined, that no single explanation can fit all cases.

For the most part, homosexual feelings, like all feelings, are not something an individual necessarily chooses consciously. Such feelings often derive from subtle unconscious conflicts in childhood resulting from parental empathic failures.[2]

Moreover, especially in the modern world, we can be “brainwashed” by the prevailing culture—through entertainment, advertising, and political advocacy in education—to accept homosexual desires as “perfectly natural.”

In addition, homosexual feelings are frequently planted directly in a person through an experience of childhood abuse or by homosexual seduction as an adult.

  

Therefore, it doesn’t really matter how homosexuality begins. We are all called to chastity no matter who we are or what has happened to us. A person with homosexual desires is no less capable of living in chastity than a person with heterosexual desires.

  

Christ did not tell us that we have to grow to seven feet tall in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. No. He does not ask us something impossible. All He asks of us is that we come to Him with chaste bodies and with pure hearts: hearts filled with love, purged of pride and self-interest, sorrowful for our sins, and trusting in His infinite mercy. Anyone can do this who sincerely wants to do this.

  

 
The Psychological Work

In your psychological work, endeavor to bring to consciousness and take command of the underlying basis for your outward behavior.

Through personal scrutiny (and psychotherapy if necessary) work to resolve the unconscious conflicts that are residual effects of childhood emotional wounds and that underlie homosexual behavior: hostility and anger; resentment for hypocritical parental authority; fear of conflict; life dissatisfaction and depression; fear of love; risky self-destructive behavior; promiscuity; the “buying” of friendship with sexual services; problems with gender identity; and discomfort with non-sexual same-sex emotional closeness (often called homophobia).

In confession, confess your past sins related to a gay or lesbian lifestyle. But don’t just confess the surface sins of sexual practices. Go beneath the surface to confess that, in living a gay or lesbian lifestyle, you were expressing a hatred for God. You hated God by rejecting the reproductive nature of sexuality. Moreover, you hated God by rejecting the core of Christian society: the mother-father bond of family life.

Purge your life of homosexual affectations: the hair styles, clothing styles, mannerisms, and linguistic patterns that characterize homosexual psycho-social identifiers.

 
Resisting Inner Temptations

To live a Christian lifestyle, train your will—in accord with God’s will—to overcome all inner temptations by dying to the world and desiring Christ more than anything—or anyone—else. The spiritual counsels on this website will direct you onto this path. Especially note the following:

Develop a devout prayer life that draws you away from worldly attractions. Drink of the living water Christ offers, not of the impiety of the heathen social world around you.

In confession, reveal all of your current temptations.

Develop the practice of Eucharistic Adoration. Remind yourself that God Himself—your most precious yearning—is hidden within the Sacrament and that His hidden presence is a Real Presence that more than compensates for anything lacking in your life.

Foster particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Read Saint Louis de Montfort’s book, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and make the consecration described therein. Wear the Miraculous Medal around your neck always.

Maintain a firm loyalty to the Magisterium of the Church.

 
Resisting Exterior Temptations

Overcome all exterior temptations by the following:

Avoid specific temptations by avoiding sexually provocative neighborhoods and entertainment (movies, television, magazines, newspapers, pornography, etc.).

Develop a “modesty of the eye” that does not seek to be “seen” in the world or to “see” others as sexual objects.

In so far as possible, avoid all co-called “Christian” friends committed to lifestyles defiant of chastity. Such persons blatantly disobey the Magisterium of the Church, and in their disobedience they remove themselves from a state of grace. Now, as Saint Paul said, when you have to live in the world, you can’t avoid associating with immoral people, but you can at least avoid associating with “anyone named a brother, if he is immoral” (1 Corinthians 5:11). “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who create dissensions and obstacles, in opposition to the teaching that you learned; avoid them” (Romans 16:17).
 

Yes, Jesus ate with sinners, but He did so to convert them, not to wink at their sins. Therefore, He told His disciples that whenever someone would not receive them or listen to their words, they should leave that house or town and shake the dust from their feet (cf. Matthew 10:14; Luke 9:5, 10:10-11 and Acts 13:51, 18:6).
 
Similarly, Paul told Titus, “After a first and second warning, break off contact with a heretic, realizing that such a person is perverted and sinful and stands self-condemned” (Titus 3:10-11).
 

Now, if such persons are family or religious community members you will not be able to avoid them. In such a case, tolerate them with mercy, ceaselessly reminding them that their behavior is sinful, and constantly enduring the suffering of intercessory prayers for their repentance and conversion.
 

Remember here that the point of distancing yourself from another Christian who, despite being warned persists in sin, is not to punish that person but to protect yourself  from the negative influence of his or her evil ways. After all, someone who lives a lifestyle of disobedience and sin is imitating the devil, not Christ.

 

When they tell you
that the Catholic Church is wrong
about sexuality

 

Who wrote this web page?
 

Notes

1. These conflicts often result from a love-hate relation with a father. On the one hand the father is desired as a source of guidance and wisdom; on the other hand, the father is hated either for being too critical and authoritarian or for being too weak to defend the boy against an overbearing, critical mother.
     Such a conflict about his father can cause a man—even a man of heterosexual desires—to be attracted to another man’s attractiveness (as a symbolic yearning for what the father failed to provide) while also secretly disliking the other man because of some personality flaw he has.
     This explains why gay men—that is, those men who act out the male-to-male love-hate conflict sexually—adopt behavior characterized by both vanity (the desire to be desired) and jealousy (unconscious hatred). Moreover, the highly effeminate behavior of some gay men can be explained as an unconscious identification with the feared mother, a defense technically called identification with the aggressor. It’s as if the pretense of being a woman provides a cloak of stealth by which the man hopes to avoid detection by his mother’s male-hating “radar.”
     Lesbian sexuality can be explained by other unconscious conflicts.

2. Many persons fail to recognize these conflicts for what they are because psychological conflicts are often extremely subtle and have unconscious meanings that are discovered primarily through psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy. Rather than do all this hard work, it’s far easier to shrug your shoulders and say, “I was born this way,” and let it go at that.
     Activists, therefore, will often point to cases of “homosexual bonds” in animals as evidence for their claim that “homosexuality is natural.” On the contrary, such cases only demonstrate that so-called homosexual behavior in animals is a socially defensive reaction to abnormal situations, such as captivity and periods of social tension. Besides, the fact that animals act like animals does not mean that humans should act like animals.

 

What the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
 
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
 
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
 

 


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