Tag Archives: Dr. Joseph Nicolosi

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Salient Joe

‘I will send you the prophet…who will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers’ (Mal. 4:5, 6).

The late Dr. Joseph Nicolosi popularized the ideal of a ‘salient’ father who embodies both tenderness and strength. His point? Children who grow up respecting such a dad while welcoming his kindness proceed successfully into adulthood and are less likely than detached children to spin out into sexual and relational brokenness.

I had the privilege of honoring Joe at his memorial service last week in California and recalled him as a prophet who never lost focus on repairing the wound–the gap in connection between fathers and children that render us vulnerable to seeking sexualized mothers and fathers. In sunny immoralist Southern California, Joe stood as a prophet who insisted that restoring breaches in father/child relating could redirect the wandering of pleasure-seeking orphans.

He was and still is demonized by the professional community he represents for coining the term ‘reparative therapy’, which simply means that same-sex attraction is a symptom of an early attachment wound and sound psychotherapy can begin to heal it. Joe made a way for us to name the wound and access real mercy—‘my feelings are not my fault’—and at the same time to challenge us to resume the journey to gender wholeness. Joe was salient: equal parts tenderness and strength. The host of spiritual sons and daughters who honored him last week—mostly psychotherapists who trained under him at The Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic he founded in 1980—bore witness of his fruitfulness as a spiritual and clinical father.

The most moving part of the memorial was Joseph Jr.’s tribute to his dad. I witnessed a grateful son grieving for a father he loved and respected who was taken away too soon, without warning. Salient Joe imparted the whole of his life to his only child who proceeded on to become a devout Christian and psychologist and who now heads the Aquinas Center. Joseph Jr. spoke eloquently and honestly—equal parts tears and joy—of the adventures he shared with his father. The elder passed on to the younger a vocation of fathering vulnerable ones into wholeness. All the while, salient Joe loved his son well. His final witness lies in the fact that the ideals he taught he also lived. Bravo, salient Joe.

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Love and Wisdom 2: Why Mercy Must Inform the Homosexual Wound

‘Love Molds Wisdom’ Joseph Pieper

The nearly uniform acceptance of homosexuality today cannot hide the wound at its core. No amount of societal celebration cures the wound; it masks it, thereby exploiting persons who buy the lie of ‘gay goodness’.

Citing the disconnect between an age that celebrates ‘gay marriage’ while astronomical rates of depression, loneliness, and substance abuse continue unabated for ‘gay’ men, Michael Hobbes (himself ‘gay’-identified) ponders without answers why the liberated are still enslaved to self-destructive behaviors. (Together Alone: The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness, Huffington Post; Mar. 2nd, ‘17). TO his credit he refuses to cite homophobia as the scapegoat for a recent survey of ‘gay’ men in New York City in which 75% defined themselves as anxious, depressed, chemically addicted and having risky sex.

Hobbes stops short of citing the homosexual condition itself as the problem. He does however give anecdotal evidence to the early wound in the gender identity development of men who later ‘gay’-identify. One man wonders if the fickle cruelty of peers in San Francisco is due to ‘the bullied having become the bullies. You grow up with all this baggage then realize that all the men around you share the same baggage.’ Hobbes quotes a sociologist who surmises that a male-only community ‘magnifies the challenges of masculinity. Masculinity is precarious. It has to be continually enacted or defended…’ In other words, a group of men trying to work out their masculinity by seeking to prove themselves sexually is a high risk, no win equation.

The late Dr. Joseph Nicolosi knows why. In his excellent article, ‘The Traumatic Foundation of Male Homosexuality’ (Crisis Magazine, Dec. 19th, ’16), he convincingly charts how adult homosexual behavior is rooted in early gender trauma and thus has an undeniable dimension of hostility. Think about it: how could a person who has rejected his gender value due to a break in early bonds, sexual abuse, or other sources of traumatic shame, find harmony with a similarly fractured person? The eroticization of the wound electrifies then burns out an already vulnerable person. ‘Gay is good’ defies wisdom and sound judgment.

But wisdom is not enough; it can only highlight what we need. Or rather Who we need. The only hope for the ‘gay’ wounded is the healing, saving love of Jesus. Persons whose fractures run deep and who fear no healing exists anyway are prone to defenses that guard their wounds. The wound then becomes the basis for an identity and a host of bad habits. Only Divine Mercy conveyed by loving, wise friends can function like ‘living water’; as Jesus astonished the Samaritan woman, let us surprise the wounded with kindness that frees them to admit their suffering and open to Mercy Himself.

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Exuberant Joe

My good friend and colleague Dr. Joseph Nicolosi passed away yesterday from an unexpected, swift illness. I am in shock. He is the man who gave men like me courage to name the wounds related to our early gender identity, get on a healing track, and proceed onto all we were created for. As a devout Catholic, he held fast to our fruitfulness and eschewed the false solutions offered by the LGBT community; as an astute clinician, he persevered to ensure that the healing arts and sciences still applied to persons with same-sex attraction who knew that they were stuck and needed to get on with life.

He did it all with panache. He was a force of nature—youthful at 70-years-old, mouthy, colorful, an unflagging provocateur of truth. He never lost focus. The last time I saw him was a year ago at his home in Thousand Oaks home with wife Linda; he exuberantly rehearsed a new paper he was presenting at NARTH, which he co-founded and designed as the only enduring network offering clinical care for persons with unwanted SSA.

The sheer volume of his output in papers, books, and presentations around the globe is staggering and can be summed up in these words: humanity is created to realize its heterosexual potential and homosexual behavior is a symptomatic attempt to repair early wounds that left the boy alienated from that potential–the innate masculinity that he has failed to claim. Sound psychotherapy is thus one means through which we can welcome the confirmation that eluded us in our wounds and recover our dignity as men from the illusion of seeking ‘completion’ in homoeroticism. I would urge you all to secure any of his books or articles. My personal favorite: Shame and Attachment Loss, IVP.

Joe got it right. He never apologized for the light he shone. In 1980, he founded the Thomas Aquinas Counseling Center in Los Angeles the same year Desert Stream began in LA. He provided for me and my colleagues studying psychology a reasonable, clear direction amid irrational forces. Ever exuberant, he seemed to enjoy the challenges he faced. He was born to burn calories caused by his contention that humanity has a direction born of God, a track no activist can alter.

God made Joe fit for the fight and he did so brightly and boldly in the face of adversity. Some did not know what to do with him. We did know. We loved him. His gift freed us to embrace life. Exuberantly.

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Fighting fire with Fire

‘For you did not receive a spirit that enslaves you to fear, but you have received the Spirit of sonship, and by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’(Rom. 8: 15)

Have you ever consider the truth that many persons who face intense same-gender longings are actually motivated by fear: original experiences of rejection for personal and gender inadequacy–the threat that their offering to parents or peers may be rebuffed? Fear intermingles with shame, goes underground, then resurfaces in a kind of homosexual entrancement in which the rejected one plays out a kind of sensual reconciliation with his own gender.

The futility of this effort is obvious: the fearful one is compensating for a trauma, not complementing another person as a valuable counterpart. But bonds forged in fear and lust can be more binding and blinding than those conceived in wholeness. My friends and I agreed that our efforts at gay love only distorted what could have been good friendships with bright, searching guys.

We resonated at a recent seminar with Dr. Joseph Nicolosi as he described the early experiences of sensitive souls who in the face of early shaming experiences faced a ‘dropping, sinking and collapsing’ of body and spirit then retreated for years into a kind of ‘no man’s land’ until same-sex feelings emerged and became another reason for self-hatred.

Gay fantasy, identity, and relationships assuage the fear and shame and self-hatred temporarily but cannot dissolve the truth that something more basic is happening: an effort to resolve a wound that no amount of civil liberties can heal. Even therapy has its limits here. Through undoubtedly helpful, it cannot wholly answer the cry of body and spirit.

Only Jesus can unlock the dungeon of self-rejection and hatred. Only He can enter into our darkest memories and current temptations and grant us a way of escape (1COR 10:13). His ‘perfect love casts out fear’ (1 JN 4:18) and gives us, perhaps for the first time, the fight we need to arise in our original dignity and resume the journey to wholeness.

After the seminar, I encountered a bulky guy to whom I might previously have abdicated my own masculinity—my chest sinking and collapsing–through a flash of homosexual lust. But not this time. Conscious of anxiety, I breathed deeply and practiced the Presence of the One ‘who has stooped down to make me great’ (PS 18: 35b).This David blessed the Goliath before me and walked on, unencumbered and grateful for the man I am and the God I worship.

‘We overcome the fire of lust by entering into an infinitely greater Fire, that of God’s Eros-Agape love.’ (Christopher West, The Heart of the Gospel)

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Downward Ascent 2: Good Grief

Downward Ascent 2: Good Grief

‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.’ (Matt. 5:4)

Happy are the sad. Real joy comes from Christ, and Christ comes for the sorrowful. Not just any kind of sorrow: I mean the grief which results from poverty of spirit. To look inside and out and to know all is lost, except for the Savior who came to seek and save the lost (LK 19:10).

He waits for us to weary of our self-justifications, the hollow of our own laughter. He intercedes for us as our ‘fun’ digresses into dehumanizing others. We are exposed in the glare of Another’s nakedness.

He waits for us to admit that the ‘gay marriage’ we have championed has no real foundation and will not stand.

The law of gravity never fails: sin’s road goes down and down.

We can go a long way on our own happiness. Yet the ache of conscience can intensify too. Happy are the sad, good is the grief associated with genuine moral loss—the loss of innocence and core values that can only be reclaimed by divine help.

God dwells with the destitute but resists the ‘house-proud,’ those secure in their own defenses. While fools roost in the ‘house of pleasure, the heart of the wise is in the house of mourning.’ (EC. 7:4) He enters the temple desecrated by sin and surrendered to Mercy. He gives real comfort to those who cry: ‘Jesus!’

Dr. Joseph Nicolosi writes of how the pursuit of sexy idols is no match for the authentic longings of the grief-stricken heart. Addictions fall away when one unites original injuries with trustworthy sources of comfort. Attachment to real love displaces counterfeits. Yet union with Love Himself necessitates real grief: I am wounded! I am alone! I need a Savior, the Advocate who will never fail me!

Divine comfort now is never complete. The promise is ‘will be comforted.’ We live between the ages: the Comforter has come and is coming again. In the meantime, we can mediate that comfort one to another, always directing our hearts to the time when we shall grieve no more. In the meantime, we agree with St. Paul who describes himself as ‘sorrowful yet always rejoicing.’ (2COR. 6:10)

Happy are the sad. Our losses welcome holy love.

‘Come near to God and He will come near to you…Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up.’ (James 4: 8, 9)

Prayer for Monday, March 10th: ‘Father, we welcome the reminder of our poverty, and the good grief that accompanies it. Teach us to make the Valley of Baca (weeping) a place of springs. (PS 84:6) ‘

Prayer for Tuesday, March 11th: ‘Father, we grieve over the unresponsive parts of our hearts: the weak and vulnerable areas that we hate and hide. Teach us to welcome Your love where we need it most.’

Prayer for Wednesday, March 12th: ‘Father, remind us of our original injuries and the ways You have shown Yourself faithful as the God of all comfort and understanding. This Lent, secure us in the Father/child bond that breaks fear and shame and frees us to rest in You.’

Prayer for Thursday, March 13th: ‘Father, we grieve over hearts unresponsive to Your mercy, especially our loved ones. We admit that we can hate those we love most due to how deeply they impact us. We are reactive creatures, poor in love: comfort us so that we might comfort those who need Your love through us.’

Prayer for Friday, March 14th: ‘Father, we grieve over the sexual immorality all around us. We cry out for repentance, beginning with ourselves, and ask that we might manifest holy comfort to sinners; hasten their turning back to You.’

Prayer for Saturday, March 15th: ‘Out of sorrow, let joy arise. Remind us of all the ways that You have comforted us in our afflictions.’

Prayer for Sunday, March 16th: ‘Help Your Church to be the site where we recognize sin and grieve over it. Let Your Church also be the juncture where we exchange our grave clothes for robes of righteousness.’

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