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Should Gay Conversion Therapy Be Banned?

This weeks article in Christian Today….I commend the editor for publishing it – without amending it. You can read the original here

Should Gay Conversion Therapy Be Banned?

This week Queensland became the first Australian state to ban what is known as gay conversion therapy. This is such a serious offence that if a doctor, counsellor or psychologist performs conversion therapy, they could face up to 18 months in prison. Israel, Brazil and Germany (for under 18s) have also banned the practice.

Britain will follow suit, with the Prime Minister Boris Johnson telling the BBC: “Gay conversion therapy is absolutely abhorrent and has no place in a civilised society and no place in this country.

Speaking of the BBC, they have had several news reports telling us all how evil and harmful it is (again forgetting their charter obligations, they manage to make these reports without any different perspectives).

The Church of England agrees. They too have called for it be banned. Jayne Ozanne, a gay activist in the Church of England agreed with Boris Johnson and called gay conversion therapy “unethical” and “harmful”, and said it “has no place in the modern world”. She also described it as abuse from which vulnerable people need protection.

In Scotland, Green leader Patrick Harvie, who has a penchant for wanting things he disagrees with banned (witness his attempts to ban Franklin Graham from Scotland) has called for the Catholic organisation, Courage International, to be banned because it allegedly supports gay conversion therapy.

It seems as though everyone is opposed to it and doubtless it will be banned everywhere. Given that it is hardly an issue which involves many people, this is an easy win for politicians, corporations and the woke warriors to show that they ‘care’. Doubtless in the future, being accused of supporting gay conversion therapy will be sufficient for the mob to descend and your career to be over. It is interesting how the Prime Minister and others see it as having no place in a ‘civilised society’ and yet they have no qualms about the taking of innocent life in the womb as a mark of that civilised society!

What is gay conversion therapy?

What precisely is being banned? I have read all kinds of horror stories and definitions, from the extremes involving violence, rape, exorcisms and pornography, to praying with someone who asks for prayer. Most sane people would agree that the extreme forms should be banned – but what about a talking-based therapy? Should that be banned?

Personally, I have never, nor do I think I would ever, refer someone for counselling to change their sexuality. That seems to me a road fraught with danger and not something that I would regard as biblical. But does that mean I would ban those who do seek to provide such help for those who want it? If someone wanted to go to a therapist seeking to change any aspect of their life or personality, should that be banned? Why do people argue for autonomy and choice in one area but not in another? There does seem to be a double standard at work here.

All of the people cited above who argue against gay conversion therapy because it’s not right to try to change (‘convert’) someone, are quite happy for people to get counselling which will help them change their gender. I think of the teenage boy who was told by a school counsellor that he was depressed because he was a girl trapped in the wrong body! Was that not abuse?

Stonewall’s definition of gay conversion therapy is “any form of treatment or counselling which aims to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity”.  This itself a charter for a different kind of abuse. For example, Patrick Harvie wants Courage International banned, because although they claim not to endorse the use of conversion therapy, they teach that LGBT people (as well as priests and those outside marriage) must remain chaste. This position falls within Stonewall’s definition of gay conversion therapy. Thus, the whole Catholic Church (and most Protestants and evangelicals) could be accused in the same way.

Can sexuality change?

The problem with this ideology is the foundation on which it is based. The mantra is usually stated in this way: “No treatment or practice can change a person’s sexual attraction or experience of gender.”

But is that the case? I reject the notion that people should be defined by perceived sexual identity. But I also reject the view that people cannot change, and that sexual ‘identity’ or expression is somehow fixed. Ironically some of those who are most in support of banning gay conversion therapy agree. Jayne Ozanne, for example, stated that “treating as sick or disordered someone who wants to change their sexual identity reinforces the notion that it is sinful.” She therefore agrees that someone can change their sexual identity. The LGBT activist, Peter Tatchell, has long argued, for sexual fluidity rather that fixed sexuality.

He has said: “Homosexuality as a separate, exclusive orientation and identity will begin to fade (so will its mirror opposite, heterosexuality), as humanity evolves into a sexually enlightened and accepting society. The vast majority of people will be open to the possibility of both opposite-sex and same-sex desires, even if they don’t necessarily physically express them. Moreover, they won’t feel the need to label themselves (or others) as gay or straight. In a non-homophobic culture, no one will care who loves who. That’s true queer liberation.”

Psychology professor Lisa M Diamond wrote an influential book, Sexual Fluidity, in which she demonstrated from her research that over a period of ten years, a significant number of women involved in that research had reported changing their sexual orientation. I know several people who have done the same. So why should it be that if someone seeks help in trying to come to terms with their feelings and their temptations, they should be denied that? Do people not have the right to seek help? Or does choice and autonomy only apply if we want to make what our moral guardians regard as the right choice?

What will be banned?

The formerly evangelical Baptist minister Steve Chalke alarmingly tweeted this week: “Gay conversion therapy will be banned in coming months, but that must include all coercive practices disguised as the ‘pastoral care’ of those with so called ‘same-sex attraction’ within some religious groups if the psychological abuse being done to so many gay people is to end.”

I asked Steve to define what he means but as yet, he has not done so. Those who understand the code will know that this is a dog whistle to people who want to prosecute anyone who believes that people can change. Praying with someone who asks for prayer to help them change could soon be illegal.

Conversion

I believe in conversion. All Christians do. It’s how we become Christians. We are converted to Christ and away from self, sin and Satan. It’s possible to believe in conversion in that way, and not be an advocate of gay conversion therapy. But it is not possible to believe that becoming a Christian does not change everything – including your sexual expression and behaviour – see, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-11)

We no longer live as we once did. For an inspiring and thoughtful example of that, read the former Queer Studies professor, Rosario Butterfield’s testimony in her outstanding book The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. Rosario is now a Christian author and wife of a Reformed Presbyterian minister, and you can watch her testimony here.

The trouble with those professing Christians who adhere to the idea that people’s sexual identity and expression is fixed and cannot change is that, as well as limiting the Holy Spirit, they are seeking to convert the standards of Christ to the standards of this age. It should be the other way round. We believe that everyone needs the ultimate therapy – conversion to Christ.

David Robertson is director of Third Space in Sydney and blogs at www.theweeflea.com

Views and opinions published in Christian Today are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.

Scotland’s Hate Crime Bill is a charter for the suppression of free speech

Jayne Ozanne – Just Love – A Journey of Self-Acceptance (and ITV on Conversion Therapy)

53 comments

  1. Most certainly not if by ‘conversion’ therapy one is referring to support to individuals voluntarily wishing to address unwanted thoughts and feelings! Alcoholics Anonymous should also be permitted to assist those wishing to address unwanted thoughts!

  2. Perhaps a greater call from authentic Christian converts from the homosexual lifestyle to testify publically by whatever means of their conversion to Christ along with a subsequent loss of same sex desire (if experienced) is in order. If not to help and encourage others with similar struggles but at the very least to be a rebuke to those in authority that deny such is possible.

      1. Unless he has changed his message substantially in the last year, David Bennet does not claim to have loss of same sex desire. I’m not convinced Butterfield has ever claimed this about themselves.

        One is a gay person committed to being single and the other is a female who appears (judging purely from his relationship history) to be attracted to both sexes and is faithfully married to a man

      2. Pete – thats the point. They both are Christians who live faithful Christian lives without needing to change their orientation -because they do not define themselves by it – nor act upon it.

      3. I’d agree with that, but Shane was talking about people who had experienced loss of same sex desire and I know that isnt Bennet and I’m pretty sure it isnt Butterfield either.

    1. Shane – I think you have touched on something interesting here. What do you mean by ‘homosexual lifestyle’?

      Forgive me if I’m mistaken – it sounds like the kind generalisation and judgement the LGBTQ community receive from people who simply do not understand much of our experiences.

      The homosexual ‘lifestyle’ can mean self-harm when the Church (who represent Christ) judge, condemn and exclude. It can mean years of crying yourself to sleep. It can mean a lifetime of guilt and shame. It can mean drug and alcohol abuse – simply to silence the voices of condemnation.

      Is that the lifestyle you mean?

  3. The problem here is that you want religions and religious organizations to be the moral guardians.

    You think you wouldn’t refer anyone because it would be unbiblical. That tells us everything. About you. People should be referred for treatment for clinical needs not for what religions regard as aberrations.

    What is it with you and gay sex, David? It’s all you ever talk about.

    1. I suspect your take on reality is best summed up by your statement that all I ever talk about is gay sex….I hardly ever talk about gay sex – sometimes I respond to our societies obsession with it. I looked at my last 25 articles – only one is about homosexuality (and even then it is not about homosexuality but about GCT – and only because the BBC, Queensland and others were discussing it – would you accuse them of being obsessed?). I guess in your surreal world 4% is ‘all you ever talk about’!

    2. This doesn’t make sense to me. I’m unsure of what you’re questioning. I wonder if you could be clearer for thickos like me.

    3. The problem is, Mark, that secularism has no basis for moral judgements, has no moral GPS.
      It is not like changing your name to seek to hide your true identity.

  4. The fuss about Homosexuals made by Leftist media is always directed against Christianity, a religion for which I have more sympathy than i sometimes express.

    The West’s oldest legal system , the Hammurabi code , mandated stoning to death for homosexual acts around 1800 BC in Babylon.

    Match that , Christians.

    1. We’ll see your Code of Hammurabi and raise you death to anyone caught in adultery, worshipping other gods, or blasphemy.

  5. “Stonewall’s definition of gay conversion therapy is “any form of treatment or counselling which aims to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity”.

    By this definition the treatment of increasing numbers of children and young people, especially girls, with counselling, drugs and hormones who believe that they are in the wrong body and need to change gender and sexual expression, should become illegal.

    But we are so far down the rabbit hole that it wont.

    From a Christian point of view I think this is a full frontal attack on Christian conversion. This is only the start.

  6. You might find it helpful to talk to someone who has been through this kind of “therapy” to understand how destructive it can be even when it is only talking.

    I don’t agree that Stonewall includes teaching that gay people must remain abstinent in conversion therapy. They very clearly state this is about orientation, not behavior. Probably Stonewall wouldn’t agree with saying gay people shouldn’t have sex, but I don’t agree they are are including such prohibitions under the umbrella of conversion therapy.

    If a law comes in then it will likely follow the majority of similar laws around the world and be a prohibition on licensed professionals carrying out such therapy on minors.

    The Tories have been promising to do this for at least five years and haven’t done anything about it so I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you!

    1. I have talked to people who have gone through this – one who found it harmful – and others who found it helpful. Should I only listen to those who share your point of view? Stonewall does include teaching any denial of your sexual expression is GCT – I gave you the quote which is very clear. The proposed law in Victoria (and I suspect the one in the UK) will be far stricter than you suggest.

      1. The question is on what basis do homosexuals themselves (and others) feel they need to seek therapy?

        We know why some Christians feel homosexuals need it.

        It’s a lot more difficult to understand and identify the reasons why homosexuals themselves would seek out such “treatment”.

      2. I think you should listen to everyone!

        I’m surprised that you found multiple people for whom it worked. I dont think I’ve ever come across anyone who claims that therapy changed their orientation.

        They should come forward to the government because part of the rationale of banning this is that it doesn’t actually work, which means that it is effectively fraudulent.

      3. Thats why you should not base your comments just on your limited experience! Just because you have not come across anyone does not mean they don’t exist. The government are not remotely interested in whether this works or not – they are only interested in virtue signalling their wokeness. If they even suggested having a study to see if this works they would be howled down. Don’t assume that policy is made on the basis of whether something works or not! I also never claimed that therapy changed someone’s orientation….just as I would not claim that therapy could change someones sexual orientation towards children – but it may be able to help and I am unsure as to why therapy is permitted in some cases (want to change your gender – go ahead!), want to change your sexuality? – its a sin!

      4. There isn’t any “conversion therapy”.

        Nobody whom you challenge to do so will be able name any therapist who is offering any such therapy in the UK today. It’s a witchhunt.

      5. There isn’t any therapy that changes anybody’s “sexual orientation”. There isn’t even any therapy that causes a change in sexual behaviour. There are only regular psychotherapeutic techniques, applied to those who are transitioning the sexual orientations. People who don’t want to transition access these therapies in order to complain against those who provide them. It’s a withhunt.

      6. I think you are misunderstanding the Stonewall quote. I’m pretty certain that they would not include sexual behavior in the term “orientation”.

        I agree that they oppose teaching that says gay people must be abstinent, but not that they are claiming such teaching is conversion therapy. In fact I’d say their quote is attempting to clearly define that this is about orientation change, not about who you do or do not have sex with.

  7. Discussion, is not sought, will not be entered into by Chalke or Ozanne. It is a ready ploy for those who only seek change and to speak in generalisations.
    It’s fine to transition, flow from one to the next, for youngsters to be converted to a different gender, with counselling and chemicals, but not counsel adults in their chosen free will desire to no longer have a same sex desire, and/or act on it.
    And if everything is fluid, as promoted by Tatchell, where’s the problem with helping someone who is seeking to change direction, re-orient to heterosexuality?
    It seems that heterosexuality is the only option off the table, not an option at all.

    1. There has already been a lot of consultation on this!

      On the back of consultation Cameron promised to ban this in 2015. Then May held a large survey of British lgbt people and was so shocked at the results that they announced a widespread agenda (with funding) for change – none of which has happened.

      Now Johnson has announced this I predict another consultation before the matter is quietly dropped yet again

      1. Much consultation?
        Who with? What was the methodology? The results? The analysis? By whom?
        Anyone who has been engaged in Public service organisations know all about the effective sham it largely is.
        As was consultation on SSM when it was steamrollered through by Cameron, when all of the signatures in opposition garnered by Coalition for Marriage, were counted as only one, not as individuals.

      2. There has been a consultation. I contributed to it. The responses have not been published yet. The consultation wasn’t well-advertised, except to LGBT groups.

      3. Cameron consulted the LGBT community

        May carried out a very large public survey and created some sort of consultative group on the back of it. The results are probably available online somewhere.

        Johnson now says there needs to be yet more consultation

        Forgive me if I think it’s just pretending to act while kicking the issue into the long grass.

  8. But does that mean I would ban those who do seek to provide such help for those who want it?

    I’ll be honest , I don’t know many gay people but none that I do know or even those I have encountered in blogland have expressed or even suggested any desire to have therapy to ”change” their sexual orientation, and aside from the prejudice that so often accompanies homosexuals/homosexuality all have seemed perfectly comfortable as they are.

    Therefore, it begs the question: What would be the motivation behind an individual seeking such ”conversion therapy”, in whatever form?

    1. Your lack of knowledge or experience of gay people does not form the basis for begging any question. The obvious answer to your question – who would want therapy seeking to change their desires is – someone who wants to change their desires.

    2. Society has changed a lot rapidly with its attitudes towards gay people.

      A lot of gay people struggle to accept their own orientation (it can be hard for anyone with any minority characteristic to feel they have a place in society), but they may also face pressure from work, religious community or family.

      I’d argue (with no data) that almost no gay person wants to be gay when they first discover they are (typically aged around 13) and it can take decades or never for them to come to a place of acceptance of self.

    3. It has become fairly clear to me that there isn’t any such thing as “conversion therapy” in the UK nowadays, if there has been, but that it has become the rhetoric of a certain lobby to try to persecute religion that teaches doctrines that dissent from LGBT dogma.

      1. Listen up folks ..Its Gods Way or No Way !

        We either want God or we don’t want God .

        Argue all you want ! About what you think is acceptable in Satans domain .

        God cares about our behaviour for our own good .Lots of broken hearts out there !Look we have free choice : if you want to defy God with selfish refusal,action and defiance ,so be it !

        You e been given a choose ….

  9. Help ! Help ! Help ! There is no such thing as a homosexual or lesbian and so forth …But we have to give ‘ Our Evil Desires ‘ a name !…

    GOD didn’t create Adam and Eve to be homosexual or to be Lesbian.
    So where does it all come from ?

    Well we know ….If we do it our way with sex we will pleasure ourselves …
    And call it ‘ LOVE ‘…

    GOD knows what we have done and are doing without him …
    It’s all about ‘selfsex’ a new word …

    GOD is LOVE .GOD will not be mocked but we have mocked his beautiful creation with our continuous selfishness and evil desires.

    GOD cries for his creation but there’s nothing more he can do …
    The CROSS is the only way back …

    1. In this case homosexual refers to a person who is attracted to the same sex and not attracted to the opposite sex. So called “conversion therapy ” claims to make such people attracted to the opposite sex.

      The medical profession says it doesn’t work and is potentially harmful

      1. God Loves everybody the same ,he has no favourites however he repells sin .
        Gods Love doesn’t choose who he Loves ,He is Love ❤️
        So many broken hearted human beings all want to be Loved in any way or form ,Oh ! Love that will not let me go …..is for every one .
        However ,we live in a fallen world ,with broken people .
        Love is a lonely pathway and finding Love seems out of reach in this fallen world !
        Gods Love is reachable ,free and available to every one who asks him not for differentiation but for Wonder !

      2. Firstly, there is no “conversion therapy” in the UK, nor any claims that “it” works as you describe.

        Secondly, I thought we’d progressed beyond the primitive stage at which the fact that something didn’t work and was potentially harmful was a reason for persecuting consenting adults who engaged in that behaviour in private.

      3. Please cite an example of the alleged claim that “conversion therapy” makes anybody attracted to the opposite sex.

        Please cite an example of any medical science to the effect that an ineffective therapy that isn’t otherwise and intrinsically harmful because of whatever violence it does, becomes harmful if and because the intention and expectation of the health professional prescribing it and the patient receiving it include attraction of the patient to the opposite sex.

  10. Once again this shows politicians dancing to the tune of a vocal minority in order to be ‘popular’. Maybe what’s needed is a proper investigation into ‘conversion therapy’ (who invented that term anyway?) Regulation of any harmful practices could be rooted out, but if people undertake any counselling by their own free will then freedom of choice is surely better than the nanny state.

    1. There isn’t any “conversion therapy”. This is a classic witchhunt. A moral panic against an imagined evil. The real target isn’t health professionals at all. The real target is unbelievers in LGBT dogma.

      1. ‘I Believe ‘ I think was a song ,sung,by Elvis Presley .
        ‘I don’t believe ‘song has never been written.
        Gods word ,the holy scriptures which have been written are to believed or not believed ,God gave us a choice .
        Once again I want to make anyone who is reading this very clear that God loves everyone the same but he repells sin.
        This means if we refuse to Believe God and his holy scriptures we can not know what God is referring to ,as sin.
        Sin separates us from God .
        It is not ‘ unbelievers ‘ in the LGBT community !
        Rather ,it is Believers in Gods holy scripture to be heard in the LGBT !
        The misconception is it is not conceived in the heart ….
        And the heart is desperately wicked according to Gods holy scriptures.
        Which means we are fighting Gods word .

  11. ‘-Offering pastoral care to Christians with unwanted SSA feelings-‘ may be a better form of words….

    ‘Conversion’ and ‘therapy’ (in combo) is a problematic. God ‘converts’. Healthcare does ‘therapy’.

  12. I think the problems come from the use of the word ‘therapy’. As Christians we never attempt ‘therapy’ on anyone for any condition but instead preach, as our Lord Jesus did, repentance from sin. Now that may be just as unpalatable for some but that is the Christian message. Jesus ministry assumes we can repent of sin (all sin, including homosexual sin) and believe the gospel (with the Holy Spirit’s help of course) and we preach that sme message of joy, as joy is what results in finding God’s Grace and mercy. The generic name for this experience is ‘conversion’ but the ban is nonsensical because I know of no church anywhere that actually offers ‘gay conversion therapy’. Is this a sinister plot to try and rename the preaching of repentance and faith so that becomes a criminal offence?

    1. “… I know of no church anywhere that actually offers ‘gay conversion therapy’. Is this a sinister plot to try and rename the preaching of repentance and faith so that becomes a criminal offence?”

      Yes. Of course. That is exactly what it is.

      1. Of course it is John. Sadly the politicians have been sucked in by political correctness and an extremely vocal minority, as is so often the case these days. If any opponents got this vocal they’d be vilified as we know. The tail has been wagging the dog for some time now!

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