Tuesday, March 2, 2021

"Aqua Man", Conversion, Therapy, and the Truth

In Singapore, there is a growing movement to discredit and ultimately ban reparative therapy, falsely referred to as "conversion therapy". Part of the reason LGBT activists insist on calling this life-saving therapy "conversion therapy" is that they want to discredit this life-saving practice as a figment of religious superstition, and nothing more.

Reparative therapy has a number of professional clinicians around the world, and the therapy involves cognitive, vocal, and emotional practices. There is no physical harm used, and there is no shaming or dishonor employed. The lies of the LGBT hate groups around the world have spread nonstop lies to dissuade countries and psychological associations to reject this therapy.

In the United States, more courts are striking down reparative therapy bans, but sadly in other parts of the world, the lies remain pervasive and persist that "conversion therapy" is inherently flawed, false, and harmful.

A number of reparative therapists are providing more consistent research to combat these falsehoods, as well.

Now, in Singapore, a new five-minute documentary has come out: "Aqua Man."

"Aqua" is a play on words, meaning "weak or broken" but also "homosexual" in Chinese.

It's a movie short, five minutes, focused on the intense conflict of a young man, Junjie, who is struggling with same-sex attraction.  As he walks into his HDB flat after a long day at school, he sees his mother and a local pastor. The mother beckons her son to come to the pastor, who then gently places his hands on the son's head, and so does the mother. The pastor then leads a prayer, asking God to help the young Junjie break free of the "demon of homosexuality."

Clearly torn and writhing in pain, the boy pushes away the hands of his mother and the pastor, then retreats to the side of the room. The mother aggressively grabs his shoulders, confronts him for pushing away the pastor. The boy starts crying, he admits that he has tried to stop the same-sex feelings that he struggles with, but he still is attracted to other males.

The mother tries to bring her son back to the pastor. In the struggle to resist her, the son inadvertently pushes his mother to the ground. He tries to apologize, but overcome with frustration as well as grief, he just walks out of the HDB flat.

This is a very poignant film short, and yet its very pointed message is wrong on so many levels. There is proper criticism of the so-called "conversion therapy" that takes place, but the larger problems lie in the ... lies about what Christianity, what the Gospel is really about.

There are elements in this film short which inadvertently provide better insight into what Junjie is really struggling with, too.

First, I want to deal with some accurate criticisms portrayed in the movie.

True reparative therapy is not "pray the gay away." It's understandable that people of faith that prayer works, and it does, but people have to pray with a proper understanding of who they are in Christ, and how He wants us to receive all things from Him (Romans 8:32). Despite all of htis, the LGBT lobby relies heavily on atired, fraudulent trope regarding "pray the gay away" precisely to discredit the truth that people are not "born that way" and that proper therapeutic treatment can help people break free from unwanted same-sex temptations. There is no evidence that people are born gay, that it is a genetic trait of some kind, or that people are born in the wrong body and require some kind of corrective surgeries.

Sadly, though, there are too many religious groups that rely on prayer or the power of suggestion to deal with the emotional and mental traumas which individuals are grappling with, which undergird those same-sex temptations. When they are in the midst of their struggles with same-sex temptations, they need truth, and prayer that amounts to nothing more than "begging God" is not helpful.

Also, people of faith are not dealing with the true origins of the conflict if they label homosexual feelings "demonic". True, there are demonic forces in the world, but they transmit lies, and make people believing the wrong things, which induce bad thoughts, negative emotions, and unwanted desires. 

Jesus said to the Israelites of His day: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." (John 8:32)

Just setting people down, praying over them with a droning pattern of psychological suggestion does not set people free. There is real pain, real torment for people who are struggling with these feelings, and they need someone to speak to those concerns, something else besides "be changed". The answer is the Love of God, yes indeed, and prayer can open their eyes to see the grace of God more fully working in their lives. But this arbitrary "pray the gay away" is not the way that the "gay" goes away.

Now, for the criticism regarding the presentation of Christianity, or more precisely, the Gospel.

At the outset of this film short, the mother says "I think God is punishing me." That is wrong. The Lord Jesus took all our sins, all the punishment that we deserve, on the Cross. Clearly, this woman does not have a clear understanding of all that Jesus is and all that He has done at the Cross. Whether that is a deliberate slight against faith in Christ by the film maker, or an objective dramatization by the director, is another story.

When Junjie comes into the HDB flat, she tells her son: "The pastor will wash your sins away."

That is the most blasphemous remark in the whole movie. It is not any man who takes away sins from another, but the perfect, incorruptible, eternal Blood of Jesus Christ, which was shed at the Cross, and His blood cleanses (present tense) and speaks "better things than the blood of Abel" (Hebrews 12:24).

And His blood pays for the sins of the entire world! (1 John 2:2)

As the pastor prays over the boy, he says: "You have to believe that the Lord is able to forgive your sins,"

Wow! This pastor hasn't heard the full message of the Gospel! Not at all! How can he minister to this troubled boy when he does not understand the fullness and goodness of the Good News!

Paul the Apostle could not have made it clearer:

"38Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man [Jesus Christ] is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 39And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts 13:38-39)

Jesus did a perfect work! Our sins have all been paid for!

"And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;" (Colossians 2:13)


"3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:" (Ephesians 1:3)

Consider also this description of what Jesus did at the Cross:

"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Jesus became sin, that we could become sons of God, beloved of our loving FATHER in Heaven! That is Good News! Instead of hearing the fullness of all that Jesus has done for him, Junjie gets levelled with these demands to "stop feeling that way", and to live up to certain expectations laid out by his mother.

And the prayer that the Pastor prays! First, He calls God "Father". In fact, in the original Chinese, he clearly says "Abba", which is the more intimate way to call on God. It's like saying "Daddy!":

"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." (Romans 8:15)

Then the Pastor says "We, your humble servants call on you." 

This prayer makes no sense! God cannot be "Daddy", but then you approach Him as some kind of harsh taskmaster! That is not walking in the truth. Such prayers are double-minded, to put in mildly:

"5If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." (James 1:5-7)

I have pointed out the errors regarding what reparative therapy truly is, and what it is not. I have also pointed out what wrong believing that the pastor, the mother, and even the son are in bondage to.

Now, let's speak to elements in the film which help explain why Junjie, most likely, is struggling with same-sex temptations.

At the outset of the film, the mother mentions "Ah Huang". I presume that is the mother's husband, her son's father. 

Males who struggle with same-sex temptations did not have that emotional bond with their fathers. That loss can be devastating, an emotional need which turns into a sexual longing for other men.

Throughout the film, we see a very overbearing mother, as well. She orders her son around, tell him what to do, placing demands on him. This dynamic also foments same-sex temptations in males, since they are becoming so emotionally dependent on their mothers, without developing their own identities as males.

Dr. Thio Li-Ann, while serving as a nominated member of the Singapore parliament, discussed this phenomenon when she spoke in defense of Singapore Penal Code 377a in a 2007 parliamentary hearing:

An article by an ex-gay in the New Statesmen this July identified the roots of his emotional hurts, like a distant father, overbearing mother and sexual abuse by a family friend; after working through his pain, his unwanted same-sex attractions left. While difficult, change is possible and a compassionate society would help those wanting to fulfill their heterosexual potential. There is hope.

Clearly, Junjie is dealing with a "smothering mother", which has inhibited his development as a male. This lack of growth induces a yearning for intimacy with other males.

Then she levels a set of demands. She wants him to be "normal", to get married and have children. This boy is in need, and placing more demands on him only deepens the pain.

This boy deserves help, and it is indeed very sad to see such a painful conflict break out the way that it does in the movie.

The larger problem ensues, however, from the fact that such films want to push false narratives from sound-bites and brief emotional exchanges. The etiology of homosexuality is more complicated than most people realize, but by no means are people "born that way", and thus stuck in an identity. No one should doubt what the boy says, that he has tried to stop the feelings, but he cannot help himself. This is a struggle that cannot be resolved with will-power, with "trying hard." It takes a revelation of deep, unconditional love--the Love of The Father (1 John 2:15), which cannot be taken away or shaken away, no matter how trying to difficult one's circumstances may become.

When those emotional needs get met, the same-sex temptations subside and go away.

Sadly, films like this will continue to serve as propaganda by LGBT militants to promotes their lies:

1. People are born gay.
2. They cannot change.
3. It's cruel to help them change.
4. Organized religion plays a large part in promoting the cruel practice to help people break free of same-sex temptations.

For the record, I wanted to put my thoughts out there on this short film and the complex issues which it deals with. There is some truth to the portrayals of "conversion therapy" scene, true, but the notion that true faith in Christ only leads to such contentious outcomes is not true at all.

Also, the sad outcome of this film suggests that this just a fraught tragedy, when there are clear elements even within the film itself which outline why Junjie struggles with same-sex attraction. No father figure, overbearing mother, a sense of unremitting shame without any information or understanding for what he is going through, and there one has the perfect environment for a child who struggles with homosexuality.

I can only hope that my thoughts on this film (and others like it certain to come out) will shed light on the very contentious issue of homosexuality, conversion, therapy, and the truth that sets people free.

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