Understanding is not life’s only moral requirement. Misunderstanding that critical truth helps explain the chaos of humanistic optimism based on faith in cognitive keenness. American board-certified internist and addiction medicine specialist David Drew Pinsky, radio and television’s Dr. Drew, understands homosexuality. Drew’s video entitled Understanding Homosexuality is categorical: “There’s no evidence that it can be changed.”1
Robert L. Spitzer’s understanding changed after he won the fight against labeling homosexuality a “sociopathic personality disturbance” in psychiatry’s diagnostic manual.2 Twenty-eight years he inflamed the world with a study on “reparative” or “conversion therapy,” turning most subjects toward a “predominantly or exclusively heterosexual orientation.”3
Addressing the problem such therapies create, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) recommended, inter alia, in 2012, (1) that they be denounced, (2) that public training institutions teach “respect for diversity and the elimination of attitudes of pathologization, rejection, and hate toward nonheterosexual persons,” that (3) the media expose homophobia as a public health problem and “a threat to human dignity and human rights,” and that (4) people practicing such therapies be reported “to the relevant authorities.”4
Meanwhile, Spitzer’s understanding continues to develop. He has apologized for his 2001 study, allegedly deeply flawed because, inter alia, “only half of the participants engaged with a therapist at all, while the others worked with pastoral counselors, or in independent Bible study.”5 One may or may not draw conclusions from this, on the predictive value of such nonscientific activities as pastoral counseling and independent Bible study. To judge by Spitzer’s apology, and by the PAHO directive, one may also doubt that any credibility remains within the scientific community for therapies bearing the modifier “conversion” or “reparative.”
Nevertheless, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) is a professional scientific organization that works with anyone desiring relief from the personal burden of unwanted homosexuality.6 NARTH explains, too, “that the term ‘reparative’ never referred to trying to ‘repair’ someone,” but derives from the “reparative theory” that children who receive inadequate same-sex bonding in childhood develop homosexual attractions “as a ‘reparative drive’ for those unmet needs.”7
Others besides Spitzer, PAHO, and NARTH also understand. Pastor Curtis Knapp, of New Hope Baptist Church, Seneca, Kansas, and North Carolina pastor Charles L. Worley want homosexuals all dead as quickly as possible.8
Understanding homosexuality and its explainers is no easier than understanding human nature. Available scientific frameworks cannot fathom humanity’s natural deceitfulness (Jer. 17:9). But the unfathomable God who knows our frame will teach us what we would never learn by leaning on merely human understanding (Prov. 3:5). Faith in His original authority, forgiving grace, converting power, and reparative genius gives world-conquering victory
(1 John 5:4), such as apparently experienced by people whose testimony Spitzer first received, then rejected as unscientific. Intelligence and saving grace together accomplish infinitely more than scientists and judgmental holiness seem to grasp. Understanding is not life’s only moral requirement.