Discussion Starter from August 14, 2009 FYI

Check out this article from The Wall Street Journal shared with me by my friend Will Cordis.  Read the article here and add your comments to mine below.


New Therapy on Faith & Sexual Identity:
Psychological Association Revises Treatment Guidelines to Allow Counselors to Help Clients Reject Their Same-Sex Attractions

by Stephanie Simon, August 6, 2009


The men who seek help from evangelical counselor Warren Throckmorton often are deeply distressed. They have prayed, read Scripture, even married, but they haven’t been able to shake sexual attractions to other men — impulses they believe to be immoral.


Dr. Throckmorton is a psychology professor at a Christian college in Pennsylvania and past president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association. He specializes in working with clients conflicted about their sexual identity.

The first thing he tells them is this: Your attractions aren’t a sign of mental illness or a punishment for insufficient faith. He tells them that he cannot turn them straight.


But he also tells them they don’t have to be gay.  Finish Article Here
  • See this week’s FYI, the weekly newsletter for Canton Adventist, here.
  • See Ted Haggard’s interview with Oprah Winfrey here.  This is a YouTube page where you can watch the entire interview, broken into five segments.  I have not reviewed each YouTube video to see if there is any content added outside of the show.  I do not take responsibility for what is added or deleted from these clips.

One thought on “Discussion Starter from August 14, 2009 FYI

  1. I am impressed the APA is suggesting this approach. It is wise to understand the cultural environment in which a person exists when determining a course of therapy. It reminds me of a situation I have had to face in ministry. My faith tradition has historically placed a high priority on helping people lead healthy lives. It has encouraged a vegetarian, non-caffeinated, non-inebriated and non-tarred lifestyle. While I am proud of this emphasis in my faith tradition, I also saw it abused when pastors and church leaders would not allow people to be a part of the church unless they had successfully conformed to these health habits. So if you smoked, you couldn\’t be a church member.My entire ministry I have taught and modeled that people engaging in these less-than-desirable practices should still be welcomed into the faith community with open arms. It doesn\’t mean that we no longer believe that smoking is bad for you. We just believe that Christ accepts smokers and drinkers, so we should accept them too.One time, in a church I used to serve, there was a couple who attended church regularly but were not members. The woman\’s mother had raised her in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but the daughter had stopped attending as an adult. This couple was feeling the need to start going to church again and had really become part of the church family. I talked to them and invited them to "make it official" and become church members. But the woman would not do it because she "knew" that she had to stop smoking before she could become a member. I told her that we would pray for and support her in trying to kick that habit, but that she and her husband were welcome as members in the meantime. But, she would have none of it. She would be a hypocrite in her own eyes if she had her name on the books while still engaging in this habit. A wise, older pastor, seeing my frustration in not being able to convince her to join and experience being accepted as she was, told me that I needed to minister to her where she was, not where I wanted her to be. I need to help her overcome her habit so that she could join and then hopefully she would come to a fuller understanding of grace and acceptance.I see the issue with counseling people who have a homosexual orientation in the same light.I am convinced from my understanding of Scripture in light of the life of Jesus would have engaged and loved a homosexual in the same way as he loved the leper, the Samaritan, the tax collector and all societal/religious outcasts. Therefore, I believe the church, Christ\’s body, should be equally accepting of practicing homosexuals in their faith fellowship. As a pastor, I have no qualms about doing that and will never exclude someone from the churches I serve based upon their orientation.The problem is that for the homosexual who is raised in a conservative, fundamentalist home and attends a church that reflects those values, and never expresses an open, accepting love of gays or lesbians, the homosexual will grow up learning that they are sinful, outside the grace of God and not deserving of church fellowship. And then, if they were to meet a pastor within their denomination who told them that God accepted them as they were and was not condemning of their orientation or practice, they would reject the counsel of that pastor because the pastor would not be reflecting the deep convictions the fundamentalist homosexual acquired during his/her upbringing.I watched a fascinating interview that Oprah Winfrey had with Ted Haggard, the high-profile evangelical preacher and activist, who was fired from his church due to revelations of his homosexual trysts with a male prostitute. It was interesting to observe that Haggard was being restored in relationship with his wife and children. He and they accepted that he had a complex mix of homosexual and heterosexual tendencies. He would not categorize himself as straight, gay or bi-sexual. He didn\’t want to be put into a box, but begged to be understood, accepted and loved as Ted. He had people from each orientation trying to force him to label himself, but he refused. He wants to be Ted.As our society moves forward, we have to be willing to move past living under labels and begin to interact with one another as unique creations of God, a unique double-helix of DNA and a unique story of experience that requires time and investment to know the person for themselves, to love them for who they are, and, when necessary, to counsel them in where they should go. The APA\’s decision is one more step in this direction.

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