Thursday, July 28, 2005

Conversion Camps

The following is an article reprinted from and written by Ron Reagan Jr. I saw a report on these on last night/this morning similar to this on CNN.

Summer’s here, meaning thousands of kids are heading off to camp and participating in a host of familiar activities: hiking, canoeing, archery, re-programming their sexual orientation. Don’t you remember that from your summers at camp?

It’s part of the so-called refuge program, one of several similar efforts to turn gay teens straight. When a 16-year-old gay Tennessean known only as Zach blogged about being forced to attend one of these camps, other bloggers jumped in and the issue reached new prominence.

According to the Reverend John J. Smid who runs the program in question, the goal is to put “guardrails” around the teens’ sexual impulses. To that end, there are rules: no secular music, no more then fifteen minutes behind a closed bathroom door, no contact with other gay folks, and, for reasons I’d rather prefer not to imagine, no Calvin Klein underwear.

Reverend Smid himself claims to be a recovered homosexual. He goes on to say, “I may see a man and say, he’s handsome, he’s attractive, and it might touch a part of me that is different from someone else.” Reverend, that would be the gay part.

At the heart of this is the notion that people choose to be gay so they can chose to switchback. Common sense suggests otherwise. Remember coming home from school and telling your parents you decided to be heterosexual? I didn’t think so.

But the homophobic fringe clings to this mean-spirited fiction so they can deny that issues like same sex marriage are matters of civil rights. After all, if certain people are simply born gay, it wouldn’t be fair to persecute them. So, to stave off this uncomfortable reality, they induce in vulnerable teens the same self-loathing that so obviously troubles men like Reverend Smid.

The report on CNN included a conversation with 2 different attendees of the 'Reverend' Smid's camp. One became convinced at the camp that G-D had made him gay and that was how he planned on living. He current lives in TN and attends Church with his boyfriend and works to help others improve their lives. The second one has been at the camp for several weeks and plans to be there for at least another 8 months and plans on possible going on to seminary to become a Pastor/Reverend. He stated to the reporter that he could now see himself marring a woman and having kids and being happy.

I really don't know what to think about this issue. Ron Reagan made several good observations about the reasons for this type of camp existing in his final paragraph. I know the biblical prohibition, but I also have a good friend from college that is gay. I have to say I am torn on this issue. I would never tell my friend that he is wrong, but at the same time I wonder about the situation.

If one accepts the Torah as being divinely written, then can you really say that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. G-D said it was wrong.

If you do not accept the Torah as being divinely written, then you can start to analyze. The first thing you need to do is to decide whether the Torah is divinely inspired but written by man and corrupted to their idea. Or you could look at the Torah as being nothing more than a book, if this is the way you look at it then perhaps the prohibition is nothing more than our ancient forefathers way of differentiating us from the many cultures around ours that allowed or even encourage same sex relationships.

I guess I will just have to spend more time and thought, not to mention prayer and meditation, trying to comes to gripes with both my secular thinking and my religious thinking. And maybe, just maybe, one day I will have the type of epiphany that will resolve the issue in my own head.