Anglican Mainstream, Christian Concern and Core Issues Trust are promoting a debate tomorrow morning in the Houses of Parliament on the legitimacy and freedom to offer therapy for those with unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction.
They are promoting a false therapy based on the discredited theories of psychologist Irving Bieber from the 1960s, taken up by Elizabeth Moberley in the 1980s and then by Joseph Nicolosi in the 1990s.
The debate is being held ahead of an inquiry into a complaint against Dr Mike Davidson, who supports of change therapy for people suffering with unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction. The debate is important, claims Christian concern, because at stake is the freedom of people to choose to have this kind of therapy if they want it. The advert for the event says many professional bodies are banning such therapies. So do the huge majority of lesbian and gay organizations and individuals, Christian and secular.
The four speakers are: Prof Michael King (Director of Mental Health Sciences Unit, University College London) Peter Tatchell (Human Rights Campaigner/Advocate) Dr Joseph Berger (Consultant Psychiatrist, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Canada) Dr Mike Davidson (Director, Core Issues Trust).
As it happens, I’m in the middle of reading Un-conditional by Justin Lee. Justin grew up in conservative evangelical American culture where to be gay was thought to be sinful, evil, and a choice. As Justin says, conservative evangelical Christians have become more famous for their opposition to homosexuality than for their belief in the unconditional love of God.
Justin couldn’t bring himself to use the word gay about himself. He was emotionally and physically attracted to other guys but dated girls. Eventually he found a way of telling his parents and there followed encounters with ex-gay ministries. The focus was on finding ways for Justin to become straight. Secrecy and dishonesty was encouraged.
Justin distinguishes between those who say the meaning of gay is someone who is attracted to the same sex and someone who has sex with members of the same sex. Justin says the meaning of gay is when a person is attracted to someone on the same sex. This has nothing to do with behaviour. Justin called himself gay because of his emotions, before he had any kind of sexual or romantic relationship with another guy.
Therapy designed to deal with unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction doesn’t work and can’t work. All it can do is suppress feelings. It cannot turn someone straight. After such therapy the person is still gay even if they subsequently marry and have children. I know I’m writing about what is obvious to the majority of those reading this blog.
Anglican Mainstream has introduced me to a number of people over the past decade who are, they think, living proof that unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction can be dealt with by therapy of through an ex-gay programme. Every one of the people I met, single or married, was clearly still gay. Those who were honest enough still admitted to same-sex attraction.
The unwanted feelings are only a problem for those infected by conservative evangelical teaching. They are indoctrinated into believing or accepting that feelings for someone of the same sex are evil, taboo, sinful, hated by God.
Anglican Mainstream, Christian Concern and Core Issues Trust are doing immense damage.
Vulnerable lesbian and gay Christians are being sold three lies. The first is that God detests people who feel attraction to someone of the same sex. The second is that it is possible to deal with these feelings in a way that enables you to marry. The third is that the result of doing this is to become ‘normal’.
Even greater damage is being done to Christian mission and evangelism. The result of the campaigns being waged by Anglican Mainstream, Christian Concern and Core Issues Trust is to give the impression to the population of the UK that God and the Church are obsessed with sex, deeply prejudiced and worship a god (with a very small g) who treats as abnormal those whom the huge majority of people have come to know as ordinary, healthy, integrated members of society.
The disgrace for the Church of England is the toleration shown by some bishops to such scandalous views. Ex-gay groups and therapy for those with unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction do immense harm verging on evil. Christianity should be proclaiming love and justice for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, affirming God’s creative love for us and celebrating our commitments in faithful, covenanted, life-long relationships.