Guest post by Arthur Goldberg
(A response to this post: link. While it should be obvious, let me clearly state that the views expressed here are those of the author and not the blog-owner -- Gil)
I was delighted to learn that Rabbi Gil Student believes that my book Light in the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change (Los Angeles: Red Heifer Press, 2008) is accurate concerning “the discussions of Judaism regarding homosexual acts and repentance” (an area where Rabbi Student is highly qualified) and further finds the book a “very interesting read” that is not only written clearly but also covers “many relevant subjects.” However, after admitting that “when it comes to the parts about which I have the least competence,” he opines that he lacks “confidence in the author’s presentation,” and essentially takes issue with several basic premises of the book: (1) that there is no scientific evidence that anyone is born gay, (2) that change of sexual orientation occurs frequently, and (3) that gender affirming processes (GAP) is not only effective but is also beneficial for many underlying pathologies and without significant risk of harm.
Click here to read moreTo reinforce his conclusions, he argues that he did not see within the book the kind of statistics and information proving that gender affirming processes work, suggesting that the “absence” of such data implies a basic weakness of the book. He compounds this faulty conclusion by being dismissive of the innumerable personal testimonies reported throughout the book when he contends that “anecdotes might be emotionally powerful but they don’t prove much because there are always unusual cases.” (I might parenthetically ask how many cases would be needed to overcome such a conclusion? Additionally, since it is without dispute that medical science has never established a valid or reliable scientific method to distinguish between the genes or hormones of gay or straight men, aren’t all studies of same-sex attraction or opposite-sex attraction based on anecdotal reports?)
To the contrary, the book clearly sets forth a host of studies showing positive outcome reports of clinicians and researchers who either utilized or investigated the many varieties of reorientation approaches (as well as providing innumerable testimonies of those who successfully changed sexual orientation.) To simply cite one example of statistical data, the reviewer should reread pages 314-318 of the book.
Fortifying the findings within Light in the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change, is the just released (June 10, 2009) landscape review entitled “What Research Shows” which appears in Volume I of the peer-reviewed Journal of Human Sexuality. Such study provides a historical review of documented success in sexual reorientation that has appeared in the clinical and scholarly literature over the past 125 years. Anyone interested in studying the plethora of studies should order this document from NARTH by either calling 1-888-364-4744 or ordering the document online at www.narth.com.
As stated in my text, the purpose of Light in the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change was simply to “show the emerging synthesis between traditional Judaism’s view of homosexuality and the gender affirming processes employed by the many health practitioners and faith based organizations who help people affected by unwanted same sex attractions” and not to walk a reader through the 125 years of documentation cited in the NARTH literature review. I accept the premise---based upon personal experience and a decade of work with those struggling with sexual confusion—that any number of conventional therapeutic modalities can be used to assist those who are uncomfortable with their homosexual feelings and/or behavior and allow them to lead comfortable heterosexual lives consistent with Torah commandments.
To raise the specter, as the review appears to do, that individuals pursuing sexual reorientation may find themselves in a “dead end that will crush them emotionally and might even lead to suicide” is simply a repetition of the canard and scare tactics of the gay activists and their liberal allies which evidences either a clear bias or a lack of knowledge on the part of the reviewer. While Light in the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change provides evidence that interventions aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation are effective and not harmful, the aforementioned “What Research Shows,” after a detailed and systematic review of the literature, concludes “the professional and scientific literature document that homosexuality is not immutable and that psychological care for individuals with unwanted homosexual attractions is not only beneficial but also is without significant risk of harm.”
Indeed, in contrast to the innuendo of harm allegedly caused by gender affirmation processes, it is curious that the review does not mention any of the harms cited throughout the book caused by gay-affirmative therapy. There is a detailed analysis (pages 27-46) of a case study published by a gay- affirming Stanford University professor to illustrate the way in which clients can be harmed by treating them for "internalized homophobia" (disapproval of homosexuality) and by not providing clients with treatment options so he/she can truly exercise the right of informed consent. Instead of suggesting that the book may have the “markings of a fringe manifesto” without providing any substantiation or detail, the review neglects to cite the detailed documentation on the harm caused by ongoing efforts to reeducate our youth within the public school systems on sexuality issues and to lower the age of consent for sexual activity – not to mention that massive amount of physical and emotional illness which is prevalent in the gay community and is mistakenly blamed by gay activists on homophobia. To not educate our youth, and their families, and society, about the dangers posed by a gay lifestyle has been properly referred to as “child abuse” by educated authors who have studied the literature.
It is also curious how the review lacks any comment on how homosexual politics actually obstruct freedom of choice, or of the number of testimonials by the people who reported how they became victims of the one-sided agenda of gay activism.
The only way someone can determine the truth or falsity of the competing assertions found within my book and Rabbi Student’s blog is to study the literature. Anyone desiring a bibliography of material to review may call me at 201 433 3444 and I will be happy to supply one.
As an aside, it would be interesting to learn whom Rabbi Student consulted as the “expert” that agreed with his evaluation. I question why such “expert” was not named nor provided with an explanation of his credentials other than the statement that he is an “expert.” (This is particularly curious since Rabbi Student complains in his review that I overemphasize the credentials of individuals when referencing and identifying my sources.) Both Rabbi Student's and his expert’s opinion is contrary to that of a person who may be in a better position to understand the pain and anguish of those with unwanted same-sex attractions, that is, a “frum” gay identified man who graciously shared his personal perspective after reading the book, a person who is a position to comment on whether the book misunderstands “our fellow Jews and Gentiles who have homosexual tendencies” and whether we are “fools by insisting that something false is true and accusing those who are correct of being gullible.” In a January 28, 2009, Jewish Press column (link), this “frum” gay identified Jewish man stated he found the book to be “a well-researched sensitive analysis” of the subject matter and was “impressed that the author did not insult gays” but rather expressed “genuine respect for gays as human beings.” He also expressed the belief that the book would greatly benefit those are “unsure, unhappy and ill at ease with their sexual orientation” as it opens up an entirely new perspective on issues of sexual confusion and how people may change sexual orientation consistent with the Torah commandments.
A fundamental problem existing within our society has been (as I show repeatedly throughout Light in the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change) the steady stream of gay affirmative propaganda with which we have been inundated over the past decades. These false messages have so infiltrated the popular conscientiousness that it is apparently difficult for someone like Rabbi Student to objectively review the substance of the material.
I truly appreciate Rabbi Student’s skepticism as it provides a forum to realize my fondest hope: to begin to create a meaningful dialogue within the Jewish world and Western society in general that will enhance our collective understanding of the sexual orientation change process and its consistency with authentic Jewish teachings. The good news is Rabbi Student’s blog and the reader comments that followed provide us with a stark contrast to the current politically correct posture that says those with homosexual feelings or behavior have only one choice: to come out of the closet and embrace a gay lifestyle. Instead, all of us need to shine as many lights as possible into the closet, and thus explore the real possibilities of change of sexual orientation.
Arthur Goldberg, author of Light in the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Guest post by Arthur Goldberg