Exposing the Exposé, Part 1
By Marco Casanova and Andrew Comiskey
Eve Tushnet recently wrote an article in America Magazine titled ‘Conversion Therapy is Still Happening in Catholic Spaces – and its effects on L.G.B.T. people can be devastating.’ Throughout, her supposition seems to be that some people are fundamentally (naturally) homosexual. In other words, homosexuality is an immutable aspect of the human nature in certain persons, especially her interviewees. Any effort to grow beyond their homosexual condition is impossible and therefore hurtful to them.
Tushnet’s anthropology (‘LGBT people’) skews her effort. She misuses the language of ‘orientation,’ claiming that some (mostly) Catholic organizations seek to ‘change people’s ‘sexual orientation,’ and ‘create a heterosexual identity for someone who experiences same-sex attraction.’ Tushnet is herself a ‘gay-identified’ Catholic. She extends that mantle over each ‘victim’ of reparative therapy who she mines for anecdotal evidence. She gets what she assumes. Examining brokenness that undergirds same-sex desires and seeking restoration for core contributors (family-of-origin fractures, sexual trauma, early peer rejection and isolation, etc.) is futile. Why? These persons have a fixed, immutable same-sex orientation. She concludes what she presumes: attempting to move beyond a homosexual ‘orientation’ damages ‘gay’ people and anyone who encourages such repair is abusive.
In challenging Eve’s faulty starting point, we must look at the essence of human nature. Pope Benedict XVI prophetically spells out the pivotal call to revere man’s nature. He says: ‘Man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will. Man is not merely self-creating freedom. Man does not create himself. He is intellect and will, but he is also nature, and his will is rightly ordered if he respects his nature, listens to it and accepts himself for who he is, as one who did not create himself. In this way, and in no other, is true human freedom fulfilled.’
We as human beings do not determine our orientation. Humanity’s orientation is determined by the One who created us. Our orientation is not ‘gay’ or ‘straight.’ Our orientation is determined by the design written in our beings. Our bodies are the key to our orientation. To claim that orientation is fixed by mere sexual appetites forfeits the design.
When we look at the nature of the human person, we can then determine our destiny, direction, orientation. J. Budziszewski writes: ‘A natural inclination is not whatever I desire…the point of the adjective “natural” is precisely to call attention to design. It is natural for me to be attracted to the opposite sex, even if I am attracted to my own…it is natural for me to eat a varied diet, even if I prefer nothing but donuts. It is natural for me to use my lungs to take in oxygen, even if I am addicted to sniffing glue. The mere fact that I want something means little by itself…what matters is not how we incline…what matters is how we naturally incline – by the design, according to the Designer.’
We cannot say that one who experiences disordered desire (e.g., same-sex desires) is somehow disqualified from these foundational starting points. To presume so mars human nature. We mar our nature when we deem a ‘gay’ identity natural. The ‘gay’ identity manipulates orientation as to accommodate a sexual desire not written in the logic of the design. Wrong presuppositions skew reality. To do so binds our freedom, poisons our Catholic ethos, and offends the Designer.
It also throws thoroughbred healers under the bus, as Eve does in her article. We at DSM take issue with her indictment of caregivers whom she sullies by ascribing questionable ‘anecdotes’ to them. Next week we shall examine how persons who change their narratives, e.g., ‘I used to seek restoration for wounds related to my same-sex desires but now I just want to be “gay”’ revise history and demonize the healers who once helped them.
 Pope Benedict XVI, Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI: Reichstag Building, Berlin (22 September 2011), at The Holy See, www.vatican.va.  J. Budziszewski, What We Can’t Not Know (Dallas: Spence Publishing Company, 2003).