Monday, March 03, 2008

A Critical Review of Sexual Healing by David Kyle Foster, part II

Part I of this review can be found here I have edited it somewhat since I first posted it so even if you read it before you may want to take a look at it again.
(this post was edieted 9:20 AM 3/4/2008)

Foster's selective use of psychological research and theory continues in part II “Specific Sin Areas” along with a fixation on homosexuality. The first two chapters of part II of the book are entitled “The cause of Sexual Identity Confusion: Homosexuality and Bisexuality” and chapter seven “ What brings healing to Homosexual confusion”. In these chapters he moves between debunking certain scientific studies and lifting up theories of how parental relationships (and other relationships) influence development of homosexual orientation. Yet, it is clear that he picks the theories and studies that agree with what he already holds to be true. This is further shown by Foster’s returning to spiritual theories and Biblical assertions that have little if anything to do with the psychological theories he espouses in these chapters. In summarizing his position on the cause of “homosexual confusion he says “suffice it to say… some form of abuse (real or perceived) and /or… some match of events to personality …in an individual… [is the cause of homosexual confusion].” His supposed explanation of what causes homosexuality is vague and it ends up seeming as if really anything negative in a child’s development could supposedly cause an interruption of “normal” sexual development. Of course as is the case throughout this book he never details what “normal” sexual development might be.

The rest of the book follows these patterns. At first glance it seems that Foster has a broader focus then homosexuality with titles like “Child Sexual Abuse: the predator.”, “Child Sexual Abuse: the Survivor”, “Sexual Addiction”, "Pornography" and finally “Masturbation”. Yet even though these topics would seemingly allow for moving beyond a focus on homosexuality Foster manages to continue to talk about how all of these sin areas can lead to homosexuality, or to in some way tie in the topic of these subsequent chapters to homosexuality. Foster misses an opportunity to speak to unhealthy and sinful choices in regards to our sexuality whatever our sexual orientation (granted Foster would deny the legitimacy of that term) and to speak directly to the problems and sin that are present in much heterosexual sexuality.

I think the emphasis on homosexuality is in large part due to that Foster bases most of his advice and teaching on sexual healing on his experience both as a male prostitute and his own recovery and spiritual journey. In so doing he is the perfect example of what is describe in the desert and monastic traditions as a bad spiritual guide to be avoided at all costs. All Foster can see is how God has worked in his life and out of what God has brought him and he projects that experience on us all (or at least on anyone he believes to have not developed “normal” sexuality). So he expects everyone to follow the same path. The wise spiritual guide recognizes that the spiritual path is an interaction between God the person and this is open to the unique path of the person’s spiritual journey. This is a journey of healing for all whether heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual etc. since we all have been born in sin.

Foster is myopically focused on homosexuality and attempts to shore up his Biblical interpretation and understanding of human sexuality he derives from that interpretation with psychological theories and research. He does so selectively and in ways that makes absolute his own experience and spiritual journey. In this he fails to recognize that heterosexuality is not perfect, and that ones sexual orientation does not necessarily mean one is more or less disordered in ones sexuality. Had he stayed with the cure of souls I would have disagreed with him on much of his interpretations of Scripture and some of his spiritual advice but it would have avoided being essentially a pseudo-scientific work created by a poor spiritual guide.