The Clash Between Christian Counseling and the Normalization of Homosexuality
The Story: In both the U.S. and U.K, recent legal and legislative actions have attempted to discredit and ban reparative therapy (therapeutic approaches used to assist individuals in changing their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual). According to Christian Concern, the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy has informed a Christian counselor that she will lose her accreditation after she was tricked into provided counseling to a fake client who was secretly an undercover journalist. And in California, a bill is making its way through the legislature that would ban the therapy for minors and discourage it for adults.
The Background: The complaint against Lesley Pilkington, a counselor with over 20 years of experience, was brought against her by homosexual journalist Patrick Strudwick. Strudwick approached the counselor while attending a Christian conference about sexuality and pretended to be a Christian in need of help over unwanted homosexual attraction. According to the court report, Pilkington agreed to help him and they mutually agreed that the counseling would be based on Christian principles.
Throughout the two counseling sessions, Strudwick repeatedly told Pilkington that he wanted to leave his homosexual lifestyle, that it had become meaningless to him and that he wanted to change, says Christian Concern.
The Appeal Panel found this week that Pilkington should still lose her senior accredited status because she should not have assumed that Strudwick wanted to proceed under the same therapeutic approach that she offered, despite the fact they both agreed to do so. It also found that she should not have taken his claim that he was depressed because of his homosexuality at face value.
In February, Strudwick explained his goals to 'Pink News': "We want to root out therapists and psychiatrists who are practising these techniques and ultimately bring an end to them through exposing them, as well as disrupting their meetings. The ultimate aim was to prevent religious groups from offering 'counselling' which aims to change sexual orientation."
Why It Matters: "I am grateful that reparative therapy remains recognised by the BACP; but who is going to protect Christian counsellors from continued harassment?" said Pilkington. "My witnesses were not permitted to be called and they were fearful of intimidation by homosexual activists who were sending abusive phone calls."
"Regrettably, there is an attempt by some to silence Christian viewpoints on marriage, sexuality and on the upbringing of children," she added.
The attempt to silence Christian viewpoints is not limited to the U.K. In California, legislation is being considered which would prohibit reparative therapy for minors and obligate adults to sign a release form that states that the counseling is ineffectual and possibly dangerous. (Whether such counseling is ineffectual is an open question. But the claim that is it is "dangerous" has no empirical basis.)
The larger issue, however, is not about the value of reparative therapy---that should be determined on the basis of its clinical effectiveness---but about whether Christian counselors will soon be banned from helping clients overcome unwanted same-sex attraction. While the effectiveness of such treatments is debatable, there is clear evidence that homosexual orientation is sometimes mutable and that those struggling with same-sex desires can have healthy heterosexual relationships.
But such evidence is discounted by groups like the American Psychological Association (APA), an organization that has a record of making embarrassing claims about homosexuality that have no basis in science. Despite putting politics before science (or perhaps because of that reason), the APA has been able to influence both the public and lawmakers that homosexuality is an immutable trait and that "being gay is just as healthy as being straight."
The clash between the uncontestable truths of the Gospel and the non-empirical biases of secular psychologists is both inevitable and destructive. In the end, the Gospel always wins. But in the meantime, the mental health professionals who "normalize" sinful behaviors are helping to harm the people they are paid to heal.