May

24

2012

Joe Carter|3:47 AM CT

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.

Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator. You can follow him on Twitter.

  • http://almostreadytogoamish.blogspot.com/ RN

    The Strudwick situation sounds like an illegal entrapment, but don't expect law enforcement to pick up on that any time soon. Makes me wonder, though, what happens if a gay person legitimately does NOT want to be gay and wants councel: is the councelor able to help them change, or will they now be mandated by law to "talk them out of" wanting to become straight?

  • MF

    This American Life's "81 Words" about how homosexuality was declassified as a mental illness is an interesting episode. I have a different set of take-aways from those of the storyteller, but it is a fascinating story nonetheless. Worth a listen to anyone interested in this issue.

    • Joe Carter

      I'll second that recommendation. "81 Words" is one of the best radio documentaries I've ever heard. Although I don't think homosexuality should have ever been classified as a mental illness in the first place, the fact that even the the homosexual psychiatrists believed it was says a lot (especially about psychiatry).

      • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

        Why shouldn't homosexuality be classified as a mental illness? Since it is "unnatural", then isn't feeling inclined to do something unnatural a psychological illness?

        • jason

          psychological "illness" is defined differently by different communities. The most prevalent theme in all the definitions is impairment of some sort, or harm. What we (as a culture) define as impairment can & does evolve. 2 generations ago, homosexuality was seen, by and large in popular society, as an impairment. Now, it's not. And it doesn't necessarily cause or result from other psychological illnesses or impairments. Hence, it can be normalized in the psychological community as the cultural mores evolve.

          • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

            Hi Jason,
            Your use of "evolve" is somewhat troubling to me as it implies improvement whereas I would see the move to legitimize homosexuality as moral degeneration.

            I think there is a fair amount of documentation that homosexuality is an "impairment." It certainly impairs them from forming relationships that are capable of reproducing. Further, the suicide rates and other indicators of dysfunction would suggest significant "impairment."

        • Joe Carter

          One of the primary reasons homosexuality shouldn't be classified as a mental illness is because it would be an unbiblical categorization. People who suffer from mental illness are not responsible for their disease or impairment (though of course they could have been the cause of it, e.g., excessive usage of mind-altering chemicals).

          A homosexual orientation is not an disease but an orientation to commit—or at least be tempted to commit—a particular set of sinful behaviors. The Bible makes it clear that people are responsible and accountable for homosexual behavior. The same would not necessarily be true for someone who suffers from a true mental illness like schizophrenia.

          In my opinion, Christians should have never condoned the mental illness model of homosexuality. I'm sure the reason for doing so was considered, at the time, reasonable and compassionate. But it undermines the legitimate side of psychiatry when non-illnesses are misclassified.

          • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

            Interesting. But your premise is wrong. You appear to be assuming that to classify something as a mental illness thereby makes acting on that mental illness free of moral guilt. That doesn't follow. Some people could have conditions considered mental illnesses that make them prone to violence, theft, etc. But most people don't then conclude that they are free of the guilt for those actions. Further, to say that it should be considered a "mental illness" is necessarily to say that the orientation is healthy. But I don't think that's what you want to imply.

            I believe that homosexuality is a mental illness and that acting on that orientation is perverse and should be criminalized by the state and proclaimed a sin by the church, for which there is forgiveness and redemption. The role of psychology would be to help those who want to turn from that perversion.

          • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

            Hi,
            To continue, to say that labeling homosexuality a mental illness is an "unBiblical categorization" is true, but not really. It's true that there is no such categorization that I'm aware of in the Bible (although they were aware of insanity). But there is also no prohibition of such a categorization. And it simply isn't true that the category denies the deeper problem of sin or that it absolves a person of responsibility. Someone like Ted Bundy could be diagnosed as a "sociopath" but still executed for his crimes. It's only when someone meets the strict legal definition of insanity that they are deemed (rightly or wrongly) not responsible.

  • Kevin

    Can you post some links of where to find evidences for homosexual attraction being mutable? Is anyone in the psychology world writing about a Christian perspective of same-sex attraction and gender identity. Ive read multiple articles on tgc from pastors and theologians I'm just uninformed in the area of psychology.

    • Joe Carter

      I'd recommend starting with "Sexual Orientation and Reason: On the Implications of False Beliefs about Homosexuality" by Stanton Jones, professor of psychology at Wheaton College. The link can be found here: http://www.wheaton.edu/CACE/Hot-Topics

      As Jones says, "I conclude from these data and years of study that homosexual orientation is sometimes mutable. 'Homosexuality' is a multifaceted phenomenon; there are likely many homosexualities, with some perhaps more malleable than others."

      Jones' article is very balanced and helps to dispel the myths about homosexuality held by both secularists and Christians alike.

    • Mark
    • Brian Hammonds

      Dr. Mark Yarhouse has written and researched in this area as a Christian in the discipline...

      http://www.sexualidentityinstitute.org/

    • James

      The bible itself bears witness that it is mutable, through the transformative power of the Gospel.

      Remember Paul's words to the Corinthians, "And such were some of you." He's talking not just to idolaters, theives, drunkards, those disrespecting of parents, and murderers, but homosexuals as well.

      As to the more mundane, I've read and heard of several accounts from Christians who are now happily married (in the biblical definition) who once led homosexual lifestyles.

  • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

    It's interesting and alarming news. The final paragraph is true but probably out of place. Paul's point about homosexuality in Romans 1 is not merely that it is sinful but that it is so plainly wrong that even people without special revelation should recognize it's perversity and it's proliferation demonstrates that people have "suppressed the truth." Christians need to, then, put more attention into building cases against homosexuality on nature, not dependent on the Bible. The Bible, after all, tells us we can do that.

    • Jessica

      John, couldn't you use the "it's unnatural" argument toward A LOT of things Christians partake in:
      * Foods we consume
      * Our daily physical lifestyle
      We can't focus on the nature aspect. It has to be brought to the gospel. Using science/nature as evidence won't change their hearts. Maybe their minds, but not their hearts.

      • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

        Hi Jessica,
        With all due respect, Paul in Romans makes the case against homosexuality based on it being unnatural; that even people without a the Bible and the gospel can discern that it is wrong. Paul begins his unfolding of the gospel in Romans by focusing on how unnatural homosexuality is; it's evidence for the depravity of human beings that something so obviously contrary to nature is tolerated.

        As citizens, we have a responsibility to make a case against homosexuality that is capable of persuading people who do not (yet) accept the authority of the Bible.

        And, no, eating is plainly natural. We die have mouths and a digestive system designed for it and die without it.

      • Matthew Wilson

        Jessica & John ~

        Part of our problem with topics like homosexuality is that we are often afraid to draw lines. Moreover, we do not know what standard ought to be used to determine those lines.

        When we define boundaries of right and wrong by what is "nature" or "natural," we really mean that which is defined "by design". How did God design us? This goes beyond mere anatomy. It goes into the purpose of our relationships: to reflect the divine relationship between Christ and His Church. It communicates God's character in the story/plan of redemption. Therefore, Jessica, you are correct that it points back to the Gospel, and rescue from anything that rises up against that Divine design and purpose can only be found in the Person of our Lord Jesus and Him crucified.

        So, rather than talk about what humanity calls "natural," let's point back to THE standard -- God's Word -- which reveals God's design for His creation and His provision of gracious rescue for those of us who by our fallen nature have found sin's expression in a homosexual lifestyle.

        • Jessica

          Agreed, Matthew.

        • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

          Hi Matthew,

          That is exactly what Paul does NOT do in Romans 1. He doesn't say homosexuality is wrong because it violates Leviticus. He makes an argument from nature in order to prove that people without the Bible should know that homosexuality is wrong. In other words, the Bible tells us that we don't need the Bible to discern that homosexuality is wrong.

          When it comes to psychology and counselling, those professionals need to have a defense for the "dysfunctionality", the perversity, etc., of homosexuality based on natural revelation. Without that, they'll have no defense in a secular field like this. If a counselor says he considers homosexuality wrong simply because the Bible says so, the accreditation officials are likely to tell him/her that that's fine if he/she wants to be a pastor but if he/she is going to practice counseling, it has to be based on "science". That really shouldn't be a problem for a Christian, because the Bible tells us that homosexuality is unnatural (hence "unscientific"). But it is a problem today because Christians have failed to do the hard work of establishing a natural revelation argument against it.

          • Matthew Wilson

            John ~

            It seems that we are allowed to reply only a certain number of times. Therefore, I will try to hit on several of your posts in this one response.

            First, let me address an point you continue to fall back on: the ides that Paul's intent in Romans 1 is "that people without the Bible should know that homosexuality is wrong." You suggest that this is true because homosexuality violates the evidence of "nature" (i.e. it is unnatural).

            I would propose that this line of thought is slightly off mark biblically. Paul's point is not that nature, itself, gives evidence that homosexuality is wrong. Instead, he states that through the deliberate "suppression of truth by their wickedness," all "men are without excuse" of their sin because God has revealed "His eternal power and divine nature" in obvious, clear ways that are seen by all of mankind "since the creation of the world."

            This means that God's character as revealed in His creation and in the hearts and conscience of people is the evidence by which all should know right from wrong. Its basis is found in God...not in the nature of the fallen world. Even without the Bible (or any part of written Scripture as in the times of Noah), God's divine design and character were evident.

            Furthermore, the idea that "nature" is the standard of moral law falls apart, too. Homosexuality, thieving, lying, murder, survival of the fittest, greed, self-preservation, jealousy, hatred, etc. -- these are all "natural" in our fallen world. Love of others, self-sacrifice, fear of God, love of His law, holiness, righteousness -- these are NOT "natural". This is why the Bible says that love for the world or anything in the world is antagonistic to the things of God.

            Finally, I am curious if Jesus considered the necessity of psychological counseling for those He rescued from demonic possession, prostitution, life-long disabilities, etc? Surely each of these would present serious psychological "side effects" that could not be ignored. However, we do not see this in Scripture. It may have occured in the regular travels with our Lord; but, it is not specifically addressed. Instead, the exhortation is always "turn your hearts and minds toward Him who is above." Prayer and the seeking of encouragement from other believers are some others. But, secular psychological methodologies are NOT part of God's plan. He, alone, is sufficient.

            • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

              Hi Matthew,

              You're wrong about Romans 1 and fundamentally misunderstand it, perhaps revealing a spirituality assuming a false spiritual vs. nature dichotomy. In Romans 1, God has revealed certain things in nature : theological truths (like God's divine nature, etc) and certain moral laws, in particular the perversity of homosexuality.

              To dismiss the entire field of psychology, again, suggest a problematic spirituality on your part, a "narrow piety". There is no such thing as "secular science" and Christian science. All truth is God's truth.

              If we followed your lead, psychologists would have no basis on which to say that homosexuality is wrong in their field. What's worse, we would be ignoring what the Word of God itself says about homosexuality being wrong because it is against nature.

  • Jessica

    Is any sin actually "mutable," though? Old sin can reveal itself at any moment, and we have to be careful not to make someone feel SO disappointed that they didn't "succeed" at being "cured" of their sin. Even if these therapy sessions targeted towards muting homosexuality ended, that definitely doesn't mean healing can't be brought. I have to say that I think it [making homosexual therapy illegal] might move us in a different direction in this country. Where all sins are equal, and while some need different attention (homosexuality vs. lying vs. adultery), we can at least say "look...you are just as much of a sinner as I am. you aren't disgusting and God doesn't see you that way. We will fight this sin together." Thoughts?

    • Joe Carter

      I would say that sin is not mutable, but that the orientation toward sinful behavior is (at least with the help of God).

      I agree that we should, as you say, tell homosexuals, "We will fight this sin together." But that is precisely the problem. It is getting to the point that if you are a Christian counselor and you say that then you can lose your counseling license. To even imply that it is a sin may be enough to cause the loss of accreditation.

      The issue isn't that homosexuality is a worse sin that others but that it is being redefined so that to even claim it is a sin is going to be considered immoral, uncivilized, and possibly illegal. The biggest problem is the normalization, which will harm both the people suffering from the sin as well as our ability to freely proclaim the Gospel.

      • Jessica

        Totally agree. Thanks for the response, Joe.

      • Matthew Wilson

        Joe ~

        My issue with this is the implication that often accompanies Christian perspectives regarding "curing" or "fixing" persons who struggle with homosexuality. The underlying perspective is that God wants homosexuals to be heterosexual. This approach -- either from Christian counselors or well-meaning pastors/bible teachers -- misses the biblical mark.

        God's purpose is not to make homosexuals better sinners by changing them into heterosexual sinners. He demands death: a complete crucifixion and burial in Christ Jesus, so that His righteousness and life can be born in us. We become totally new.

        Therefore, all counseling must seek to align with God's purpose through His Gospel: a transformed life.

        With this in mind, speaking to a person who struggles with homosexuality does not have to focus upon "cleaning up" or "changing" his or her sexual orientation. Instead, it ought to focus on his or her need for rescue, salvation, sanctification, new life, rebirth, and the new creation. Here is the point: if God changed a person from homosexual orientation to heterosexual orientation, Jesus would still have needed to die on the cross to save that soul from sin. Thus, our counseling falls short if the goal is to merely change one's sexual orientation. We have done nothing in accomplishing this goal other than making for another heterosexual who will spend eternity in hell. NOT the point of the Gospel or the work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

        • Joe Carter

          I completely agree, and hope that most Christian counselors would to. I think most counselors make it clear that changing one's orientation is not the end goal in itself but merely a form of healing that allows a person to live more faithfully to God's word and his will.

        • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

          Psychologist and counselors have a particular responsibility, to address the needs brought to them. If a psychologist or counselor has a client come to ask for help in changing ones sexual orientation, then that's what they need to do. It's true that that won't solve their problem with God. But if I have a plumbing problem and call on a plumber to come fix it, I don't want him telling me that he'll do nothing for me than make for another person with good plumbing going to hell.

          Let's not confuse psychologists with pastors.

          • Matthew Wilson

            John ~

            With all due respect, I believe you have expressed my point in an honest, real-world way. You have divorced God from the root cause of homosexuality.

            Homosexuality, unlike your plumbing problem, is not external to the inherent nature of the person. On the contrary, homosexuality is an expression of a fallen nature. It is not a "virus" that has invaded the person's psyche. It is not a mutant gene that has corrupted the genetic make-up of the person. It is sin that indwells the heart of a fallen, rebellious, broken soul -- just like everyone else in the world. Therefore, the only "cure" is to change the indwelling nature that leads the person to live out of that brokenness in a way that the world views as being "homosexual".

            Moreover, the article (and my comments) relate to Christian counseling/counselors. What the article points out is that the world would like to divorce psychology and its methods of diagnosis and cure from a Christian worldview. It wants to make homosexuality a "problem" not an "expression of one's sinfulness". Therefore, perhaps, the conclusion ought to be "let's not confuse secular psychologists with Christian psychologists and those called to minister to the souls of fallen mankind."

            • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

              I think it is naive and fundamentally mistaken to think that homosexuality doesn't have a psychological root that needs to be dealt with. I agree that the root of that psychological root is the spiritual problem of sin. But I could also argue that plumbing problems are a sign of a fallen world! If the psychological roots of homosexuality aren't dealt with, getting someone converted is not going to instantly "cure" them of homosexuality.

              In Romans 1, the problem of homosexuality is that it is "unnatural". People should be able to discern that homosexuality is wrong just by the revelation available in nature. Christian psychologists need to make a good case for that or they will find that they are not allowed to bring in their convictions into their profession.

  • Brandon

    I find it interesting that we can talk all day about homosexuals being discriminated, and sadly that has been the case, but in this case they are doing the same thing themselves. This is often the case when someone in this day and age preaches toleration. They become infuriated with anyone who believes an absoluteness contrary to theirs, and they become the very intoleration they speak against. This counselor did not even show any derogatory demeanor towards the homosexual "patient," (praise God) but the imposter seemed to read it that way. We live in a time of identity confusion in many different forms, and we need to lovingly point each other back towards the direction of Jesus Christ.

    • Jessica

      I think that's what separates us from the rest of the world (well one of the things)...we find discrimination sinful and evil, where the rest may SAY they think it's wrong but don't truly act that way. Christianity is totally under attack, and that doesn't mean we should start preaching toleration, but we do need to be careful that we aren't magnifying homosexuality to be a larger sin than others (which has totally been done already thanks to extremist groups/people that get media attention).

      • Brandon

        You're right Jessica. It's no different than any heterosexual sin... I can't tell you how much I struggle with lust on a daily basis because it's a real battle. As you were saying earlier, we need to fight this together, not one against the other. I've needed forgiveness for a lot worse than homosexuality

    • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

      I think it is remarkable for the way (and the rapidity) which the debate over homosexuality has changed in my lifetime (and I'm only 47). Earlier in my life, homosexual practices were illegal in many states. Now a Christian posts that it is "sad" that homosexuals were discriminated against. No it isn't. Homosexuality is not a civil right. A moral wrong cannot be the basis of a civil right. In ancient Israel, it deserved death. For centuries it was penalized by law because society agreed that suppressing homosexuality was in the interest of society.

      While every sin brings spiritual death and so is equal in that way, every sin is not equal in it's effect on oneself or on society. The reason Paul singles out homosexuality from all the sins of the Roman world, was because it is uniquely perverse and destructive. Paul said that the diseases it often spawned were "the due penalty for their error". (Rom. 1:27.)

      • Dev

        John I would say that it isn't necessarily sad that homosexuality was illegal, but it is certainly sad that homosexuals have been hated by both the world and the Church. I do not argue in favor of toleration but I find it quite sad that a large majority of Christianity has discriminated in such a hateful and discriminating matter.

      • Dev

        John I would say that it isn't necessarily sad that homosexuality was illegal, but it is certainly sad that homosexuals have been hated by both the world and the Church. I do not argue in favor of toleration but I find it quite sad that a large majority of Christianity has treated homosexuals in such a hateful matter.

        • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

          Hi Dev,

          Do you understand that God Himself will damn them to hell? (1 Cor. 6:9.) It's true that "such were some of you", that they can be converted. But I believe that the social stigma on homosexuality was a way of both discouraging the practice and of confronting them with their problem (similar to the evangelical use of the law, to make people aware of their sin).

          • Dev

            Yes I understand that. But according to the scripture provided, THEM is referring to far more than homosexuals. It refers to sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, AND men who practice homosexuality. Why is it that we only must use the law to discriminate against homosexuals?

            So yes, God himself will damn them to hell. God will also damn all sinners, without Christ, to hell. So then, why is it that we have only used the law to discriminate homosexuals. We are clearly instructed to love everyone. I don't think we can use scripture to provide a basis for using political systems to single out certain sinners.

            • Brandon

              I think in order to properly address this issue, we need to exercise this term "humble orthodoxy." It means that belief matters, but attitude matters as well. We need to express that homosexuality is sinful, but we cannot use discrimination to do that. We must be patient and do it with love rather than anger (I admit I've been bad at this). Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13 that without love, we are just gongs making noise. We must also remember that God was patient with us while we were still sinners separate from Him. We must remember that we are servants and ambassadors, not bullies. Yes the Old Covenant did say to stone homosexuals, but it also said to stone other sins as well. Jeremiah 31:31-34 also promises the coming of a new covenant, which came with Christ. John said in John 8 that the one who has never sinned may throw the first stones, and no one could do it. He then tells the woman to repent when he says, "Go and sin no more." We must show that same love when we correct others, and yes there will be times in which we have to rebuke others. I've received quite a bit of anger from people because I spoke against homosexuality, so grace cannot guarantee that it will work. Paul wrote many of his letters from prison. Jesus says that if the world hates us, we must remember that the world hated him first.

              Now some might say the Bible has a biased translation when it talks about homosexuality, and even if the original language does not explicitly talk about it, there is still too much in Scripture to suggest that it is not sin. In Genesis 1 and 2, God clearly sets the definition of marriage between a man as the leader and woman as the glad helper. I like the way Paul describes marriage in Ephesians 5:22-33

            • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

              Hi Dev,

              Actually, in the past all those other things were illegal too! But homosexuality is uniquely in that it is "unnatural". Adultery is wrong but the act itself is not unnatural. It's the context -- out of marriage -- that makes it wrong. Whereas for homosexuality, the very acts are unnatural and have no context that makes them acceptable. Hence, Paul writes that those who practice it receive in their bodies "the due penalty for their error."

            • Dev

              To return to my original concern, I would still say that regardless of the nature of homosexual as a sin, I don't think our discrimination has been all that fruitful in turning homosexuals towards Christ. I would argue that the current model of punishing homosexuals by law and by hate is showing Christ's love for them, among all other sinners.

              Yes, homosexuality is sinful. I don't think it is fair to say that homosexuality is unique in that it is the only unnatural sin in the context of the verse provided.

              I would still say that it the historical treatment of homosexuals is very, very sad. Sure, we may not agree with it, but using the law to convict homosexuals of their sin may not be the best approach. It is by the Holy Spirit that we are convicted of our sins, not a jail sentence or fine.

            • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

              Hi Dev,

              I guess back to my original point. Do you understand that God's approach to homosexuality is to damn them to hell? Do you understand that God told Israel to execute homosexuals?

              It sounds like to me that you've allowed the world to set what is the best way to deal with this perversion.

            • Dev

              Yes I do understand that God's approach to homosexuality is to damn them to hell. I also understand that God's approach to SIN is to send us to hell. That's why Jesus died, to forgive us of our sins so that doesn't have to be the case. I do understand that Israel was instructed to execute homosexuals. I think that to refer back to the OT law in regards to this manner would be leaving out numerous practices which neither you or I perform.

              Homosexuality is a sin. I don't understand how I am allowing the world to influence my view. It is a sin. I don't think we, as Christians, need should execute our biblical views via law & punishment. That would be to confuse our duty as citizen's of the Kingdom of God with our citizenship of this world.

              Where does Christ, or Paul, command us to punish & execute homosexuals? Where are we commanded to punish sinners through the use of law? Yes, as Christians we hate sin itself, but not the sinner. Yes, Church disciplines have occurred and are called for. But not in the form of worldly law and punishment. We are called to love ALL, because we are all sinful, broken, and in need of Christ's love.

              "Above all, love each other deeply" (1 Peter 4:8). Sin is sin. Some sins have more worldly consequences. Some are seemingly natural or unnatural as you say. Regardless, we are all sinners and we must all love everyone.

            • Dev

              I will not continue to respond, as I am not sure that this conversation is beneficial for either of us.

              Regardless of our slight disagreement, blessings to you brother and may the love and peace of Christ be with you.

  • http://chrisjulien.wordpress.com/ Chris Julien

    For those who may have skipped over it, if you want to read more about this topic and especially read an excellent review of the secular work that's been done, check out the "record of making embarrassing claims about homosexuality" link in the article. It links you to a very good article by Stanton L. Jones.

  • jason

    Is "reparative therapy" the best christian option? As a serious believer, interested in psychology, I'm wondering: is reparative therapy even real? I am not positive it is. It's usually nothing more than repression. Which is really, really dangerous. It kills people. There must be a better way than mere repression of urges.

    • Truth Unites… and Divides

      Is "reparative therapy" the best christian option?"

      Celibacy is a fine Scriptural option that's also affordable.

    • deezee

      Is reparative therapy real? Well within a Christian context God is at work - therefore it is not merely the words of the counsellor in talking therapy but the love of Christ and the Holy Spirit working through prayer. God promises us to renew our minds, so in what sense is it any less real than the other desires like having a bad temper and explosive anger ministered to by counselling prayer and through God ministering. I do not hear that a Christian is simply repressing his anger (unless the comments are from a cynical unbeliever). These are personality traits that lead to sin.To an unbeliever this is nonsense, yet Jesus Christ lives as the risen saviour.

  • Adam Hawkins

    John, I am trying to understand your point. I thought that all sin is unnatural in that it is not part of the world God oringinally created. However, I may be misunderstanding the term as Paul used it in Romans. It seems like you are suggesting somehow Paul's reference to it being unnatural makes homosexuality unique. Im not sure any sin is, in its essence, any more or less unique than any other sin (that was a mouthful). At its core, sin is rebellion against God, and we are all guilty of that right? Are you suggested that we treat homosexuality different than other sins, based upon this categorization?

    Second, are you nostalgic for a time when these "things" were illegal. "Actually, in the past all those other things were illegal too!" This really scares me. I do not believe that sins should be illegal, and I do not believe the law is a barrier to sin. It certainly can show us, and may restrain us, but Jesus completed the picture, fufilled the law, and set us free from it. The law is not the answer, and making sin illegal is not the answer - Jesus Christ is. To be clear I am not saying that no sins should be illegal, Im saying that whether something is sinful should not be the basis for whether we make it illegal. Lying, lusting, anger, laziness, pride, envy, etc. - Im not for making these things illegal. Nor am I for forcing folks to conform to a pattern of behavior at the expense of real heart change. (ie not talking about murder, or issues where direct harm to others is at stake).

    • Adam Hawkins

      "Im not saying no sins should be illegal" Lets make that positive - Im not saying all sins should be legal- thats better.

    • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

      Hi,
      The point of Paul in Romans 1 is that homosexuality is something to so plainly unnatural that even the pagan Romans should be able to discern that it is wrong just based on the evidence of natural revelation.

      Sadly, today modern Christians have such a spirituality -- assuming often that nature doesn't really reveal anything about God, etc -- that they can't understand what Paul is doing in Romans 1.

      Yes, no sin was part of God's plan. But that does not mean the acts themselves are always "unnatural." A heterosexual couple committing adultery are sinning but the act they are doing itself is not "unnatural". They are doing what their bodies were designed by God to do, it is only the context (the lack of the marriage covenant) that makes it wrong. However, for homosexual acts, the acts themselves are unnatural. There is no context that makes them natural or without sin.

      So are you in favor of legalizing murder? Murder is a sin. You say criminalizing sin isn't a barrier to sin. "The law is not the answer." Of course, the answer is "no, murder is a danger to other people and to society at large." But so is homosexuality. It is a direct threat to the family and it hurts the people in it. The reason Paul uses it as his example in Romans 1 is that it is such an obvious example of sin, contrary to nature, that even the pagans without the Bible should know to suppress it. That they don't is testimony to their depravity.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    The Clash Between Christian Counseling and the Normalization of Homosexuality

    This is indeed troubling. Just as troublesome, if not more so, is the mighty clash between faithful Christians (and faithful churches) and liberal Protestants (and liberal churches) on the Normalization of Homosexuality.

    • Truth Unites… and Divides

      Extending prior comment.

      For Christians who affirm that same-sex behavior is sin:

      Have you ever engaged a liberal Protestant either on-line or in person who doesn't believe that homosexual behavior is sin? If so, did you try to change their mind? If you did try to change their mind that same-sex behavior is sin, did it go well, and did they eventually change their mind?

      I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing a LibProt change their mind that homosexual behavior is sin. If anyone has, can you please tell me how it was done?

      My unsuccessful methodology is to establish the doctrine of the Authority of Scripture. From there, a faithful hermeneutic and careful exegesis of various passages. Always making sure to balance out Law/Gospel.

      For whatever reason, it's never worked.

      Can anyone tell me how God changes a LibProt's mind that homosexual behavior is sin?

      • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

        Hi,
        I sympathize with you. Perhaps the most brilliant, sensitive and Biblical presentations of the gospel I've heard is one of our church elders witnessed to a homosexual young man at a post-Christian university. It was a model not only of personal evangelism but of how to lovingly handle the homosexuality issue. The result? Not only was the homosexual guy not converted, he complained to the university about us resulting in our church being banned from campus.

        I've come to the opinion that, as in Romans 1, homosexuality is an expression of a "suppression of the truth" and so rational arguments don't work. For evangelism and the church, we'll still need to be reasonable but we'll need the power of the Holy Spirit. For our country, we'll need to stop thinking that homosexuality can live peacefully with the rest of society. It is inherently a hostile and destructive force which will suppress us if it is not suppressed.

        • Truth Unites… and Divides

          "The result? Not only was the homosexual guy not converted, he complained to the university about us resulting in our church being banned from campus."

          That's just terrible. A post-Christian university banning a Biblically-faithful church from its campus.

          A Liberal Post-Christian institution clashing with a Biblically-faithful church ... the fight, the conflict, the clash, the war is INSIDE the Church.

          It's not just Secular vs. Christian.

          It's Remnant vs. Professing Christians INSIDE the Church.

          • SirBrass

            It's not war "within" the church when it is between apostate groups calling themselves "Christian" and actual Christian churches.

          • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

            If you're interested a fuller account of the encounter, it is here: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10150591505718269&id=209898478268&ref=notif&notif_t=like

            I know of no other sin that considers calling it a "sin" a violation of someone's civil rights. I think it is instructive that homosexuality cannot live tolerantly with righteousness and truth (no matter how respectfully and lovingly presented).

  • Kyle

    Mark Yarhouse makes a good point that a Christian counselor ought to engage in any reparative therapy only when there is "informed consent" from the client, wherein the client has been briefed about the scientific research on the effectiveness of such therapies as well as their possible dangers. This seems to be a responsible course of action given the lack of clarity regarding the effectiveness of reparative therapy.

    • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

      Regardless of the effectiveness of therapy to cure homosexuality, the dangers of remaining a practicing homosexual are far higher, not only in this life -- with suicide rates, higher rates of diseases, less likelihood of stable, long-term relationships, etc -- but also in the age to come. No homosexual enters the Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6). The failure rate of homosexuality is 100%.

      • Jordan

        John, the failure rate of SIN is 100%. The success rate of the saving power of our justification through Christ's death and resurrection is 100%. Saying no homosexual enters the Kingdom of God is no different than saying that no sinner enters the Kingdom of God.

        Jesus calls the one who is without sin to cast the first stone. There is no way we can so quickly condemn homosexuals to hell.

        I am a sinner, you are a sinner, homosexuals are sinners, we are all sinful, broken people. That's why Jesus died on the cross, to forgive us of our sins.

        • vj

          Amen! At the moment we acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior we are welcomed into His Kingdom... whatever filth still needs to be washed off us in the world, we are eternally clothed in His righteousness.

      • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

        Hi Jordan,

        Since God "so quickly condemn[s] homosexuals to hell", then we can echo what He said (1 Corinthians 6). It's true that people who were homosexuals (and various other sins) can be "washed", etc., and so saved. But they cannot continue in homosexuality and be saved. "Such WERE [past tense] some of you." If someone apparently acknowledges Jesus as Lord and Savior but then continues in that (and many other willful sins), they will not enter the Kingdom of God.

        The difference with homosexuality is its uniquely perverse character. What they do is inherently unnatural. Whereas if one is committing pre-marital or extra-marital sex, while those too are damnable sins, what they are doing is something they can legitimately do if only they enter the context of marriage.

        It's popular among evangelicals today to say "homosexuality is a sin like any other, no worse." That's untrue, unBiblical and an indicator of how deeply the push to legitimize homosexuality has effected even the evangelical church.

  • Sean Wilson

    "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."

    Funny how these people are hellbent on criminalising non-harmful exchanges between two consenting adults.

  • Pingback: Can Your Sexual Desires Be Changed? « Ministry Musings

  • Jean-Pierre

    The issue is not at all about the normalization of homosexuality.

    It is about a question of fact. Does reparative-conversion therapy change someone's sexual orientation as claimed by its supporters?

    Does it help or hurt the patient?

    Besides all the leading mental health organizations that state that there is no credible evidence that it does, (these same groups all consider it harmful to the patient.) major figures associated with this therapy also have admitted that the patient continues with same sex attraction.

    Dr Spitzer, Warren Throckmorten, Mark Yarhouse, Alan Chambers, Dr. Nicolosi.

    All the remaining support tends to be based on a theological-political reasons that put the interest of the concerned person far
    behind their agenda.

    This failed therapy is a disgraceful tool for a Christian.