Tikhon, I agreed with everything you said until:
"You simply cannot change the sexual orientation of people. I think any type of aversion therapy that seeks to change gay people into "straight" people is misguided and damaging, and will eventually lead gay people to hate and despise themselves. And I abhor the idea that all a gay man needs to do is marry a woman and that will somehow "cure" him."
The problem is, people often have shades of sexual orientation; I once learned in a psychology class that there are really not many people who are 100% gay or 100% straight; most people lean one way or the other but through life or circumstances, some people do flip flop and some (bisexuals) even enjoy both. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š So in the case of someone who has dated women but has some homosexual inclinations, should we tell him not to marry because he might end up deciding he actually leans gay? Or would it be better to encourage him to persue the straight side of him?
I would agree with your assessment of Focus on the Family as well, I think that reparative therapy is strange, but at the same time, if people exist who claim to have once been gay but who are now straight, shouldn't we give them the benefit of the doubt? Is each and every person who professes to be ex-gay lying? ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I don't think a priest should ever suggest to a person that they try to "stop being gay" but if someone believes they can do it and is willing to try, shouldn't a priest help him in that endeavor considering that **if** it is God's will, a temptation can be taken away? (although even St Paul did not have his removed).
I guess what I am saying is that while I agree with everything else you said, I am unsure about your strict deliniation of gay vs. straight and I am also unsure if we should generalize and say that all gay people should never try to become straight. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I think most won't, most shouldn't even try perhaps, but if someone is gay but really has some reason for wanting to change over (such as sharing an intimate relationship with another human being and having children) and they approach the priest for assistance, I think the priest would be obligated to help him--although as I have said, I don't think priests should ever peddle fundamentalist protestant style "reparation therapy."
Have I misunderstood any of your positions or points of view, Tikhon? Because I actually am just interested in this subject from a pastoral point of view, am interested sincerely in the dialogue, and would simply like to learn more about the subject.