Who Says You Can Pray Your Gay Away?
Out of all of my friends, I have always been considered "the short one." When I was in middle school, I regularly played basketball during recess. Throughout these youthful days, not a single one of my shots made it in the hoop. All of my friends were significantly taller than me and blocked every shot I made. I'd come home from school aggravated by my poor performance and complained to my mother about my short stature problems. She reminded me that I needed patience and that soon, I would grow.
"I don't want to wait to be taller. I need to be taller now!" I foolishly yelled. My mother just looked at me, smiled, and told me to pray. The idea of asking God to give me the power to rapidly grow was, in my mind, absurd, but I prayed regardless and lo and behold, I grew to be the mammoth height of 5'8" (barely).
Let's be honest: God doesn't answer all of our prayers and some things just can't be solved through prayer, but not everyone thinks that way.
Several right-wing religious groups endorse the notion that a person can go as far to change their sexual orientation through faith. I've seen several articles in past months about clinics that practice "reparative" therapy and use prayer to supposedly turn gay people straight (it is important to note that every major psychological and psychiatric organization has rejected the idea homosexuality can be "cured"). Although the research concerning "reparative" or "conversion" therapy is limited, findings prove that these tactics are not only ineffective but also significantly damaging.
It's not hard to understand why these so-called "clinics" continue to see confused and distressed men and women walk through their doors. For those who face intolerance and bigotry on a daily basis, in the form of societal prejudice or family rejection, life is a constant struggle. But the issue at stake isn't the fact that these "clinics" exist or that faith groups are claiming that they can change a person's sexual orientation through prayer. The problem we face is that some people look at homosexuality as an illness or defect.
Jewish tradition teaches, "And God created humans in God's own image, in the image of God, God created them; male and female God created them." (Genesis 1:27) It is imperative that people embraces this sentiment. Treating our gay brothers and sisters as patients who need treatment isn't healthy, sane, or Jewish.