Good booksNicolosi, Joseph and Nicolosi, Linda Ames (2002). 
A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality. 
Illinois: InterVarsity Press. 253 pp.

The book begins with a disturbing scene of a young depressed man confrontin his mother, “Mom, you saw me play with Barbie dolls. You allowed me to use makeup and to fix my hair in front of the mirror for hours. . . . Why didn’t you stop me? What were you thinking?” (p. 11). The mother could have intervened to stop his gender nonconformity behaviour in his childhood experience and according to a study cited by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, “little boys who have a fascination and preoccupation with feminine activities have at least 75% percent chance of growing up to be homosexual, bisexual, or transsexual” (p. 33). The unhappy homosexual was one of the author’s clients. The book is the product of more than two decades of Joseph’s therapy work with men struggling to heal their unwanted homosexuality.  He is an experienced Psychologist and the President of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. It is considered a leading “national association of professional psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists devoted to providing professional help and treatment to individuals struggling with undesirable same-sex attraction, gender-identity disorders and other homosexual behavioural issues.” 

Homosexuality is diagnosed as a developmental disorder that can be prevented and treated. The claim is supported by numerous case study reports and transcripts of real life stories (note chapters 9 and 10). It is also substantiated by research studies written in layman’s language inviting readers to exam the facts for themselves. The focus of the book, however, is on the role of parents because they have the power to “influence [their] child’s future sexual orientation. They are strongly advised to intervene where intervention is necessary to bring up their sons and daughters as males and females and there is no third gender (p.12). Parents who fail to intervene when it is necessary “could lay the foundation for future homosexuality” (p. 15). The concern and warning is based on the authors’ conviction that, “to live well, humankind must live in conformity with the natural order. Gender complementarity and heterosexuality are, we believe, foundational to the natural order. When we deny the importance of gender differences, we fail to respect an integral part of what makes us human” (p. 240).

The root problem for the developmental disorder is “some distortion of the fundamental concept of gender” (p. 22) and terms such as “gender-confusion, gender-disturbed, gender-confused, gender-identity problem and gender-identity disorder” are used interchangeably in the book. There are five markers to determine whether the child has the disorder (p. 44):

  1. Repeatedly stated desire to be, or insistence that he or she is, the other sex.

  2. In boys, preference for cross dressing, or stimulating female attire. In girls, insistence on wearing only stereotypical masculine clothing.

  3. Strong and persistent preference for cross-sexual roles in make-believe play, or persistent fantasies of being the other sex.

  4. Intense desire to participate in the stereotypical games and pastimes of the other sex.

  5. Strong preference for playmates of the other sex.

 The cross-gender behaviour is also classified as “gender-nonconforming” when the boy [girl] makes the unconscious decision to detach himself [herself] from his [her] own male [female] body” (p, 24).  The onset of such behaviour can occur during the “preschool years between the ages of two and four [and] cross-dressing, as Dr.Richard Green’s research indicates, is one of the first signs” (p. 45). The startling fact is that “gender nonconformity in childhood, most researchers agree, is the single most common factor associated with homosexuality” (pp.24, 33). Parents and caregivers are warned not to dismiss these prehomosexual signs as a “passing phase” for the child is on his or her way to developing a homosexual orientation. Factors leading to a child’s gender nonconformity may be biological (the temperamental make-up of the child), sociological (mother-dominated father, closeness to mother, strong mother and low level of identification with father) and psychological (peer rejection, poor gender esteem, childhood sexual abuse or premature exposure to sexual experience). These factors are discussed in chapters one, four and five. The same factors contributing to the making of a lesbian is presented in chapter seven. The discussion of these factors clearly indicates that the family and social influences have the most powerful influence in the development of homosexuality. Thus, the family and social influences can have a powerful influence on affirming the child’s natural gender identity. That is, change is possible. The gay community’s attempt to argue that change is impossible because they believe that homosexuals are born is dismissed in chapter three,

No one is “born gay”. There is no evidence demonstrating that homosexuality is genetically or prenatal-hormonally set in stone simply because that child has gender-atypical interests. In fact, none of the research claims that  homosexuality is mandated by biology. Only the press and certain researchers do, when speaking in sound bites to the public (p. 62)

The book should arrest the conscience of fathers since the main bulk of research and discussion presented is about boys. There appears to be more male homosexuals than female homosexuals, therefore, the “boy’s father has to do his part. He needs to mirror and affirm his son’s maleness” (p. 24). This crucial aspect is found wanting in a number of male homosexuals undergoing treatment who are “still searching for the masculine sense of self that should have been established in early childhood and then solidified through adolescence: (p. 25). Detachment from their masculinity begins with a weak relationship with the father,

Some fathers find a way to get involved in everything but their sons. They lose themselves in their careers, in travel, in golf, or in any number of activities that become so all-important to them that they have no time for their boys. Or they fail to see that this particular son interprets criticism as personal rejection (p. 26).

All fathers should take note that chapter four is a wake-up call if they aim for “heterosexuality for their sons!” (p. 74). The authors have listed three ways for single mothers to help their boys’ gender-identity development (pp. 75-76). The advice of finding a substitute for the absent father has strong implications for the church. Males teachers for Christian education of preschoolers and primary children are very few in numbers! Special attention should be given to boys and youths who lack a fatherly figure in their homes. Secondly, chapter six provides useful information for leaders of youth ministries.  

Parenting comes with many challenges and “one of the greatest challenges faced by parents is the political war that rages around homosexuality” (p. 167). In chapter eight, the authors warn against the pressure to accept homosexuals as “born that way” by psychologists, media, teachers, talk show hosts, sex education curriculum and others that reflect a pro-gay perspective. Parents should not be swayed by them to believe that their “child’s sexual orientation just should not matter to [them] (p. 181).

The book should be a required reading for parents, counsellors, teachers and pastors who share similar concern to help children develop a gender identity that conforms to God’s design to develop a healthy heterosexual orientation in their adolescent years and in adulthood. 

(Reviewed by Dr Ng Peh Cheng)

CHAPEL NOTES

Chapel last week was led by Dr John Lim. He provided the following summary.

He began with a question asked by a church member, "Pastor, why doesn't God answer my prayer?" This is a tough question and the many spiritual platitudes are not sufficient to answer it. He drew on his understanding of Job and his own experience to answer the question. From the book of Job, Dr Lim discovered there is hope and help we can draw from Job's experience. In spite of the many difficulties and unanswered prayers, Job made at least three affirmations:

  1. Affirm what you know is true about God.  "I know that my redeemer lives" (Job 19:25).

  2. Keep an eternal perspective. "In the end He will stand upon earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God" (Job 19:25-26).

  3. Believe in God's control and purposes for your life.  "But He knows the way I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold" (Job 23:10).  "I know that You can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted .... Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know"  (Job 42:2-3).

Likewise, Habakkuk affirms a similar attitude Christians should adopt when experiencing difficulties and unanswered prayers,   "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior" (Habakkuk 3: 17,18).

As next Wednesday is Christmas Eve, there will be no Chapel till 31 Dec.

NEWS BITS

  1. Courses commencing in 2004. The course schedule for 2004 is available from our website or you may pick up your copy from the Library. In particular, we would like you to prayerfully consider registering for the intensive courses taught by Guest Lecturer Rev Dr Douglas Milne:

  • Theological Foundations II, Jan 12-31 
    (Note to BGST MDiv students: This is a required course).

  • Apologetics, Jan 12-31

  1. Closed for Christmas. The Library and Offices will be closed from 1pm on 24 Dec to 25 Dec. Normal operating hours will resume on 26 Dec (Friday).

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A BLESSED 
BIRTHDAY TO ...

Mrs Catherine Cheng  15/12
Mr Peter Manimuthu  15/12
Ms Lily Chen  16/12
Mdm Joyce Tan  16/12
Mr Ian Chng  17/12
Mr Edwin Chua  17/12
Ms Patsy Lim Theng  17/12
Mr Royston Koh  17/12
Ms Elaine Ng  18/12
Mr Teo Chee Khiang  18/12
Mr Chua Mun Kiong  19/12
Ms April Sim  19/12
Ms Penny Teo  20/12

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