Even as the debunked concept of so-called reparative therapy — which purports to change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity — seems to be on its last legs, some of those with anti-LGBT religious views seek to “choose” a heterosexual life. This week, one person whose decision to do so garnered headlines was a Presbyterian minister in Pennsylvania named Allan Edwards.
On NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday, Edwards discussed his “conscious choices” about sexuality and relationships. Although he is attracted to men, Edwards does not identify as gay or bisexual, and he is married to a woman he met at a Christian camp where both worked as teens. Like many with anti-LGBT religious beliefs, Edwards uses nomenclature about “experiencing same-sex attractions” rather than being an LGBT person.
“I think I made conscious choices along the way to say this is something I experience, but this isn't the thing that defines who I am personally,” Edwards told NPR.
Edwards is a minister in the conservative Presbyterian Church in America, which due to theological differences broke away from a predecessor of the Presbyterian Church (USA). The Presbyterian Church (USA) is more generally LGBT-affirming, as it ordains LGBT clergy and allows ministers to officiate same-sex marriage rites (though not all congregations are welcoming).
The idea of same-sex attraction as an obstacle to be overcome rather than an inherent part of one’s identity is also evident in the TLC documentary My Husband’s Not Gay, which features Mormon men who are attracted to other men but who do not think of themselves as gay or bisexual and who are married to or dating women. The idea of attraction as something to conquer, through faith of with divine assistance, was also at the root of the “Not Gay No More” video that went viral late last year.