By Albert Mohler
This New York Times obituary celebrates the late Dr. Richard Friedman as having shown that sexual orientation was largely biological. I’m saying that’s not true. He did not show any such thing. He did raise patterns in research including biological factors that were used in the transformation of the American Medical Society, and by that I mean the society of doctors writ large and most importantly by the American Psychiatric Association. The research was used by those organizations in order to justify a complete 180 degree turn when it came to the understanding of homosexuality.
But in a process I’ve traced in my book, We Cannot Be Silent, published just a few years ago, it was an intensely political process and we know that because the people who were at the center of the story indicated just how political it was. Political pressure brought on groups of the American Psychiatric Association and along the same time the American Psychological Association, but you’ll notice how affected the propaganda is on this, so much so that it shows up in this obituary. If it is true that Dr. Friedman showed that sexual orientation was largely biological, then what is the biological explanation? The fact is there isn’t one and there’s no actual argument for one. It’s an argument from patterns, and by the way, no intelligent, intellectually honest Christian should deny those patterns. There are bigger issues here, but one of the things to note is that even in an obituary, the culture war goes on—an effort to try to remind Americans, oh, this is what we know. American Christians need to stop for a minute and think, wait a minute, do we really know that at all?
There’s another aspect in this obituary that’s absolutely fascinating. There are two alternative views about the origin and explanation of male homosexuality in this article. There is the so-called biological view presented by the psychiatrist, psychoanalyst Richard Friedman, and then there is the Freudian view. You’ll notice what’s completely absent from the entire perspective here and that would be say, an historic Christian view. Here you have just two plausible views presented, the Freudian and you might say the new one promoted by Richard Friedman. That’s the whole point of the obituary. This is where Christians have to pause for a moment and say, “Wait a minute. We never signed on to the Freudian understanding of homosexuality.”
Later in the obituary Severson writes, “Although the American Psychiatric Association, the dominant mental health organization in the United States, changed its diagnostic manual in 1973 and stopped classifying homosexuality as an illness, psychoanalysts continued to describe homosexuality as a perversion and many believed it could be cured.” The big issue here is as the article says that Friedman’s research and argument “led to a model in which analyst and patient simply assumed that homosexuality was intrinsic.” Well, they pretty much gave away the store with that argument. They gave their argument away. They are admitting here as is recorded in the New York Times that the analyst and the patient “simply assumed that homosexuality was intrinsic.”
Once again, what we see here is that it’s presented in the lede paragraph as biology and science, but when it comes down to it, it’s really more an act of the will when it comes to making the argument.