Are Christianity and Reparative Therapy Compatible?

“Why Christians Should Not Throw Reparative Therapy Under the Bus”

by Robert Gagnon, PhD

(Presentation given at the Evangelical Theological Society Conference, Atlanta, Ga., Nov 2015)

 

Summary:  Some Biblical counselors reject reparative therapy (RT). One such counselor says that “God’s remedy for sin is not therapeutic attunement, but repentant faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

In this speech, transcribed below, Dr. Gagnon offers a rebuttal. Evangelicals who reject RT’s insights “do that at our peril.” He says, “reparative therapy is not out to replace the Christian faith...it has a specialized ministry which is in no way incompatible.” 

In fact, “reparative therapy should be embraced by Christians...not as a total answer” but as “one valid tool” in uncovering the answers to life.

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This speech is available for download or streaming at http://www.wordmp3.com/details.aspx?id=20619

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Reparative Therapy has been mostly attacked from within by psychology, but also by fellow Christians, although from a different angle. In psychology, this attack is coming from the LGBTQ stranglehold which it possesses on that profession.

In offering their own critique, the Christian community is giving aid and comfort to their enemies and distress to our friends. This is unintentional, but it is still happening. This is collateral damage.

I first heard that there was a problem, when I heard about comments by Rosario Butterfield in a blog she did for the Gospel Coalition in Feb. 2014, “You Are What and How You Read.” She was reporting on her experiences at Wheaton College. I want to make it plain that I love Rosario Butterfield and I have read her testimony and it is extraordinarily powerful. It is a great testimony. And I give great thanks to God for her witness and the vast array of things we agree on, and yet at this point, we differ. And that is her three biblical points, her so-called “Reparative Therapy Heresy,” and she says: “...a primary goal of Christianity is to resolve homosexuality through heterosexuality, thus failing to see that repentance and victory over sin are God’s gifts and failing to remember that sons and daughters of the King can be full members of Christ’s body and still struggle with sexual temptation.”

This ‘heresy’”... [that’s a very strong term] “this heresy is a modern version of the prosperity gospel.. name it, claim it, pray the gay away.” This is a very false witness about Reparative Therapists. That may be done out of ignorance, but that is not accurate. I can tell you that I know a lot of Reparative Therapists and this is not an accurate statement. If it were an accurate statement than I too would be opposed to Reparative Therapy.

Then the second shock came to me in October of the same year. I read a statement by Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist ERLC (Evangelical Religious Liberty Commission) and this was recorded by the Religion News Service under the title of “Evangelical Leader Russell Moore denounces Ex-Gay Therapy.”

According to the article he called Reparative Therapy “severely counterproductive.”  I quote, “The Utopian idea that if you come to Christ and if you go through our program you’re going to be immediately set free from attraction or anything you’re struggling with, I don’t think that is a Christian idea.” I don’t think it is either, but neither is it an idea of Reparative Therapy. So what we are doing here is creating a straw man, beating on the straw man, and then pretending somehow we have effectively dealt with the issue. We haven’t, because these are not accurate statements but rather inaccurate depictions of Reparative Therapy.

Lets catalogue some of those distortions.

1.  Reparative therapists believe that the primary goal of the Christian is that homosexually oriented persons must become heterosexually oriented persons. That’s a false statement.

2.  Reparative therapists operate under a premise that homosexuality can be changed easily and quickly. That too, is a false statement.

3. Reparative Therapist believe that all persons who experience homosexual attractions have bad relations with their same-sex parent. That too is a false statement.

So again, we have to deal with what they actually do believe and state, rather than a parody of what they actually believe and state. 

A quote from Joseph Nicolosi who, of course-- I guess if there was a father of Reparative Therapy it would be Joseph Nicolosi-- “Reparative Therapy involves a collaborative relationship between the therapist and the client in which the therapist agrees to work with the client to reduce his unwanted attractions and explore, [note: explore] his heterosexual potential. No outcome can be guaranteed. Outcomes range along a continuum from complete change to partial change, that is management and reduction of unwanted feelings.” 

Note, the word “management”... that does not necessarily preclude the possibility of an ongoing nature to those feelings, but the ability to manage them.   We do the same thing in Alcoholics Anonymous.

Note that it ranges from management, to “for some people, no change at all.” That’s not what I gathered from reading Heath and Burk’s quotations. Further, along with the same article, ”What is Reparative Therapy,” which can be found online, we read: “...a male client’s homosexual behavior may be an unconscious attempt to self-repair feelings of masculine inferiority.” Lots of people misunderstand Reparative Therapy as trying to “repair” someone for having same-sex attractions. Well, that may be an element, but that’s not where the term Reparative Therapy comes from. Reparative Therapy has to do with self-repair on the part of those with same-sex attractions; an attempt-- but inaccurate and wrong--at self-repair of feelings of masculine inferiority through a sexual relationship with a person of the same sex in order to validate their own sex.

Nicolosi goes on, “such feelings represent an attempt to meet normal, healthy masculine emotional needs.” That is, there is a purpose or method to the madness which has positive features to it, but they are going about it in the wrong way.  They are attempting to do something which is good,natural and acceptable, but they are going about it the wrong way. “For such a client, understanding the reparative concept increases self-acceptance and compassion regarding his desire for this unwanted behavior, which previously evoked only confusion, shame, and self-hatred. The term reparative, then, conveys an insight that same-sex attraction may be an unconscious effort at self-reparation.”

Continuing, “Reparative Therapy views most same-sex attractions” didn’t say all, “as reparations for childhood trauma. Such trauma may be explicit, such as sexual or emotional abuse, or implicit in the form of negative parental messages regarding one’s self and gender. Exploring and resolving these childhood emotional wounds will often” (note, not always)  “result in reducing unwanted same- sex attractions. Same-sex attraction is associated with particular types of negative peer and family...” (note, not just family, but peer), “experiences. The consequent trauma can have damaging effects on gender-identity development. Some forms of homosexual orientation,” (note, not all) “some forms are based upon disturbances in gender-identity formation. The fulfillment of those needs can,” (note, not WILL), “reduce and sometimes,” (note, not always), “eliminate same-sex attraction.”  O.K., I think that is fairly well-qualified across the board.

In Nicolosi’s book “Shame and Attachment Loss” published by InterVarsity Press in 2009, he acknowledges that it not just all about trauma and childhood and that sort of thing. “Biological factors indeed probably influence some people toward homosexuality. Either genetic inherited factors that cause gender non-conformity or prenatal hormonal influences, especially in men, that may result in low-masculinized brains. Any factor in the biological or social environment that makes a male feel less secure in his maleness has the potential to effect his gender identity.”

A potential may not be necessary; some will,some won’t, because human beings are complex and undergo a complex array of environmental factors.  No single factor is always going to come in and change people. But, “none of these factors mean that homosexuality is normal and a part of human design.

These are our friends here in the Psychology profession. They acknowledge the basic point here, that we want them to acknowledge.  Further, none of them prove that homosexuality is inevitable, which is a point that I agree with. It is not a “fait accompli.”  It is not a question of biological determinism. Which is not to say that there aren’t biological factors. Nor would those factors make it necessarily unchangeable. Even somebody like J. Michael Bailey at Northwestern University who has done most of the identical twin studies and is thoroughly affirming of homosexual practice, acknowledges that last point himself, so that could hardly be a radical wrong-headed notion. Again, in “Shame and Attachment Loss,” Nicolosi summarizes by saying, “Reparative Theory holds that the origin of same-sex attraction is in unmet emotional and identification needs with the same sex.”

Now there are points of agreement and disagreement between what Heath and Denny believe and others, and what I believe. For example, we all believe that homosexual desire is sinful desire, right? If it were not sinful desire then you ought to be able to engage in it, right? You ought to be able to fulfill it. It is the fact that we know it to be sinful desire that we refrain from it. Why is it sinful desire? Very obviously it satisfies the definition of a sinful desire. It’s a desire to do something that God expressly forbids. If that is not a sinful desire then I don’t think I know what a sinful desire would be, OK, and I think I do know what a sinful desire would be! But then there is a point of disagreement at this level between us, I think.

Same-sex attracted persons, I believe that I could be misunderstanding their position, but, it seems to me they are moving in the direction of saying that same-sex attracted persons must repent for the mere experience of unwanted homosexual desire. I am not sure I go along with that. I mean, I would like to think about that some more. And I have thought about it already somewhat, and will continue to think about it in light of what you have written. If that is, in fact, what you mean. But at this point, I don’t agree with it. I don’t agree that persons are culpable from the very moment that same-sex attractions arise.  For example, in one particular case maybe the same-sex attraction might be due to early childhood sexual abuse of an adult male with a male child. OK. Am I going to blame that person and say that this person is at fault for the mere experience of same-sex attractions arising from such a horrific episode? I’m not going to do that.

Moreover, sin in Romans 7:15&23 can be viewed at times as an alien power. At least for those who want to do God’s will. What does Paul say, “If I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who am doing it, but it is Sin dwelling in me.” It is a bifurcated with regards to the inner human, as he puts it on the one hand, and the impulse of Sin operating in human members. It’s viewed there in Romans 7 as an alien power. Now maybe some of you will disagree with me here, but I am convinced that Romans 7:7 & 25 is indeed talking about the experience of a pre-Christian life. Not that a Christian couldn’t undergo a similar experience if they stop operating in the power of the Spirit. But Paul there is defining that as existence before coming to be in Christ.

But now “being in Christ,” which incidentally is not a static concept of being in Christ, but a dynamic concept of being brought under the controlling influence of Christ’s Spirit. So if you say that you are in Christ, but you are not led by the Spirit of God and you don’t put to death the deeds of the body, then you are deceiving yourself. That’s Paul’s view in Romans 8. If you are led by the Spirit of God, he concludes in the whole section that starts in 6:1, then you are the children, the sons and daughters of God. The initial experience of sinful desire of course must be rejected. So if I experience a desire that I regard as a desire to do something that God doesn’t want me to do, I don’t immediately repent of it, because I haven’t done anything. The desire just grew up in me. What am I going to repent of? I am going to repent of an involuntary unconscious urge that arose without being solicited on my part? Am I repenting how am I going to change my behavior subsequently to prevent that from happening?  I can’t, but what I can do is the moment that I experience it is, say, ‘You know that’s a desire to do something God doesn’t want me to do. I reject it.’ And that is the point where culpability or not kicks in. But prior to that point if I am repenting, I am turning from something that I’m doing previously that I ought not to be doing.  But I didn’t do anything; it just happened.

I’m not saying that that means only conscious impulse is sin, because eventually we can be trapped in sin, enslaved by sin, and then our whole thinking process itself becomes affected; in fact, it’s already affected us to some extent from the beginning. But that’ssomewhat different thing from what I am talking about here.

Another point of agreement is that describing one’s self as a gay Christian if one experiences same-sex attraction but wants to remain faithful, we agree that this is counterproductive.  In this, we disagree with somebody like Wes Hill and others who apparently is going to be speaking here in a plenary session. I think there ought to be a rejoinder of some sort, because I have some significant disagreements with Wes Hill on a number of key points. Wes Hill, when talking about gay marriage,said he had “weeping chills” when he saw a same-sex couple getting married. That’s an unredeemed view in my opinion that needs to be addressed. But that’s another talk, for another time, which I will probably never get!

I believe thinking of oneself as a gay Christian promotes an unhealthy spiritual confusion and it shows conflicted loyalties, as their association with the Gay Christian Network indicates. A gay Christian identity is an identity based on disordered desires and that’s incompatible with an identity in Christ. Sinful desire is something that humans feel, it does not define who Christians are. We are to put off the old humanity, not to define ourselves by it. Describing oneself as a gay Christian locks one into a false permanent identity mindset, which I think is inappropriate given the possession of the Spirit. So I think those are three good reasons for not identifying oneself as a gay Christian. 

Another point of agreement is that orientation change is possible for some. We agree that empirically speaking, many same-sex attracted persons will not experience major or complete sexual- orientation change. And number three, we agree that change is a broader concept than orientation change. It may be that in God’s eyes, the biggest change possible is when God doesn’t change the direction of your desires. This is sort of like a thorn-in-the-flesh episode, right? Because God says, you know, I don’t have to take away your difficulty or deprivation in life in order for you to recognize that my grace is sufficient for you.  It’s enough. And by me not removing that difficulty in your life-- it could be an external difficulty, it could be an internal difficulty--by not doing that, you are still going to have a meaningful, secured, satisfying life just because you know me.  Right?

Used to be, we used grace as a ticket for getting out of the difficult circumstance, but Paul is using it in II Corinthians 12 as a reason for God not taking you out of the difficult circumstance. That’s how great God is, right? We all know that God can take what seemingly is the worst event in human history, namely the Son of God being crucified in a shameful ignoble death on the cross, and turn it into the greatest event in human history that will ever be recorded. That’s the kind of God we serve.  We are all in agreement on this. I guess you’re wondering why we are even here, after awhile! 

The goal of the Christian sexual life is not heterosexuality but holiness. I agree with that point. And we could add that the goal of the Christian life is not pair bonding, but purity. It’s no shame for anyone who doesn’t experience sexual-orientation change not to have experienced it, it’s not ultimately up to them. And God can use same-sex attractions, as we noted, to magnify His grace and power.

So there are two kinds of powers that can be demonstrated in the Christian scriptures.  On the one hand are these astounding miracles; people get raised from the dead: all these absolutely amazing things. And on the other hand, it is the great miracle of Paul going around the Mediterranean sharing the gospel even though he is going to be poorly sheltered, poorly clothed, poorly fed, in constant anxiety for all his churches, whipped thirty lashes minus one in the synagogue, beaten by secular authorities, shipwrecked, beaten by robbers en route (“Thanks for that, God! I wasn’t even sharing the gospel, why did that happen?”) stoned, we are not talking about drugs, this is Paul’s regular daily existence.  That he could get up in the morning and continue to share an undiluted gospel, that is a manifestation of power and probably the greatest manifestation of power. In all these things, we are in agreement.

Now we are going to go to some real, more traditional substantive disagreements, and Heath, I am going to quote you right off the bat here. Heath has an article, “What’s Wrong with Reparative Therapy?” Blew me away, Heath, the first time I read it. This is something Heath says with which I will disagree. “The goal of Reparative Therapy is heterosexuality.” I disagree. The Goal of Reparative Therapy is, actually, the goal is bringing into harmony one’s birth sex with one’s self-understanding, whether or not attractions change. That’s the goal of every reparative therapist I have ever spoken with and read about. He says, “This goal is not one that biblical counselors can embrace.” Well, the one I am presenting which is the actual goal (of Reparative Therapy) is one which we can embrace.

“The Bible never says that heterosexuality in general terms is a good thing.” I have a little bit of problem with that. I don’t think that is quite accurate; not totally wrong, but it’s not quite totally accurate in my opinion. “The Holy Spirit will not give his grace to pursue goals not prescribed in scripture.” Well, again not totally wrong, but not totally accurate in my opinion.

I do not think any of those arguments negate Reparative Therapy. God implanted in man and woman mutual desire for each other. That’s clear in Genesis 2:21-24 with the response that Adam gives to the creation of woman. And heterosexual desire clearly facilitates the command to propagate given in Genesis 1:26-28.  We have a whole book of the Bible that is devoted to the beauty of a love between a man and a woman, Song of Solomon. Women are not here interpreted metaphorically, certainly with regard toChrist and the church, it certainly also involves this properly done. And while the Bible does not command people to “have a sexual desire of the opposite sex indiscriminately,” citing from their book, “some attraction for the opposite sex or at least for one’s opposite-sex spouse is generally conducive for marriage,” which I say with a little bit of tongue in cheek. And a verse that they even cite in their book from Proverbs 5:18-19, “ Let your wife’s breast fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” That is kind of hard to do that if you don’t have any attractions for the other sex.

The heterosexual marital relationship reflects the reality of Christ’s love for the church in Ephesians 5 that is something very significant. Many same-sex attracted Christians would like to be in a God- ordained marriage to someone that they are attracted to. What’s wrong with that? Diminishing homosexual desires also reduces the intensity and difficulty of the daily battle with sinful desires. What’s wrong with that?  Most importantly the sense of gender identity deficit or incompletion in relation to the same sex should be resolved. Insofar as Reparative Therapy helps with such, What’s wrong with that?

Now I am going to say something about the common reality of homosexuality, all homosexuality, objectively speaking. It is axiomatic that homosexual desire and behavior treats one’s own sex or gender as half-intact in relation to persons of the same sex. Rather than finding one’s sexual complement or counterpart in a person of the other sex by attempting or wanting to unite sexually with a person of the same sex as one flesh, they are making a statement as though their own sex is only half-intact in relation to their own sex, not the other sex. The image of that in effect is instead of the two halves of the sexual spectrum uniting to form a single-sexual whole, you have two half males becoming a whole male, you have two half-females becoming a whole female. That’s the logic of a same-sex union. The desire for homosexual relationships is a misguided attempt to repair the sense of something missing in one’s masculinity if male, or in one’s femininity if female. Even before we answer the question of how we got to this point, that is the problem that is the question that has to be resolved.

I will always remember a story from Nicolosi about a 35-year-old male client that he had. I will read you that story. This is the client speaking: “I recall the exact moment I knew I was gay. I was twelve years old and we were taking a shortcut to class. We were walking across the gym and through the locker room and an older guy was coming out of the shower. He was wet and naked and I thought, Wow! “ Nicolosi speaking here, asked the client: “‘Tell me again exactly what that experience was.’ He became very pensive and then he answered, “ The feeling was, Wow! I wish I was him!’”

That exactly symbolizes the problem experienced by persons with same-sex attractions: the feeling of gender-identity deficit in relation to persons of the same sex, which is remedied by uniting and drawing from those elements in the person with whom one unites sexually. Of course that is the wrong way to go, because that only normalizes the misconception that you are not whole or intact in terms of your own sex. You are, and to think otherwise that God has made you only a half male or half female, is as Paul talks about it in Romans 1:24 to 1:27, passions of dishonor. Because homosexual acts as Paul says, “dishonor their bodies among them,”  treating themselves as only half-intact in relation to their own sex.

And that is by definition a form of sexual narcissism, because you are erotically aroused or attracted by all the elements of your sex that you share in common with that person. Even if you don’t recognize that you share it in common with that person you do, and if you don’t recognize it then it’s sexual self-deception. 

Homosexually attracted Christians, contrary to what Wes Hill sometimes states, should not simply wait for their resurrection bodies. They must reform daily the mental narrative of sexual incompletion and of viewing someone who is sexually same... and here I will use the term used by Dr. Hill himself.. of viewing a sexual same as one’s, quote, “significant other.”

Now where does Reparative Therapy help with this? Even when Reparative Therapy does not reduce same-sex attractions and/or develop heterosexual attractions, the recipient learns to appreciate the integrity and the wholeness of his masculine self or her feminine self as given to that one by God. “I wish I was Him,” is then replaced by, “God has already given to me what others of the same sex have,” which helps with management of same-sex attractions and a sense of gender-identity inferiority. The purpose of all this is to meet unmet needs of affirmation and affection. That is, Reparative Therapy helps with that process.

Nicolosi again, citing from “Shame and Attachment Loss”: 

“Of course, Reorientation Therapy is a long and difficult process with no guarantee of success. What if the man doesn’t change... will he have gained anything of value? There is far more to Reparative Therapy than change of sexual behavior and attractions. He can explore past trauma, he can liberate himself for old patterns of shame and self-sabotage, he can grow beyond the emotional isolation and chronic loneliness that have so long limited him, he can develop genuine male friendships without an erotic attachment and he can discover healthier relationships with females even if he doesn’t have a relationship with them sexually. Rather than focusing on sexual-orientation change,” this is Nicolosi speaking, “rather than focusing on sexual-orientation change, the primary work of therapy,” are we hearing this??...  “ the primary work of therapy is to teach the client to relate from a place of authenticity, openness and honesty with regard to his gender integrity.”

There are unreasonable expectations that are placed on Reparative Therapy, I think, by my esteemed colleagues here.

Another unreasonable expectation is that “Reparative Therapy must cure everyone in order to be credible.”  That doesn’t happen with Alcoholics Anonymous or any other form of therapy, so why would we expect it from Reparative Therapy?

And here’s the key argument they make, which I am going to spend a little bit of time focusing on, which is that “Reparative Therapy as secular therapy denies Christ by replacing redemption with mere moral repair.” A quote from a person who I highly esteem, Albert Mohler, President of Southern Seminary, in comments made in an October 5, (2015) news conference preceding the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors conference on homosexuality. “We don’t think that the main thing that is needed is merely repair, but rather redemption. When it comes to sexuality we do believe that wholeness and holiness can come and will come to the one who faithfully follows Christ. The Christian Church has sinned against the LGBT community by responding to this challenge in a superficial way, i.e., with Reparative Therapy. It’s not something that is so simple as converting from homosexual to heterosexual, and from our gospel- centered theological understanding, that would not be sufficient.”

Quoting from Heath in his article, “What’s Wrong with Reparative Therapy?”:   “God’s remedy for sin is not therapeutic attunement, but repentant faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” By the way, I am not opposed to repentance in Christ. I made that clear right at the beginning. This is the crucial matter:

“If the core problem of homosexuality is something other than sin, the solution will be something other than the grace of Jesus Christ. This is an unacceptable concession for Christians. The gospel is truly at stake in this issue. Any counseling approach that ignores the importance of repentance and the consequent centrality of Christ as Reparative Therapy does, is not worthy to be called Christian. We should reject Reparative Therapy as an approach to change.”

OK, my response. Reparative Therapy is not out to replace the Christian faith! And that’s what those arguments seem to imply. Reparative Therapy does not pretend to have all the answers to all of life’s problems. It simply asking too much of Reparative Therapy, and it is thinking that Reparative Therapy is claiming too much. Reparative Therapy has a specialized ministry which is in no necessary way incompatible with the Christian faith. 

Reparative Therapy actually applies Christian principles of manhood and womanhood. For example, again, Nicolosi in Shame and Attachment Loss: “Gender identity and sexual orientation are grounded in biological reality.” You would think we are reading from Paul in Romans 1 here! Again:

“The body tells us who we are, and we cannot construct a different reality in which gender and sexual identity are out of synchrony with biology. The belief that humanity is designed for heterosexuality has been shaped by age-old religious and cultural forces which must be respected as a welcome aspect of intellectual diversity.” By the way, Nicolosi is Catholic.  He continues: “This viewpoint is not a phobia or pathological fear. Natural-law philosophy says this view derives from humankind’s collective, intuitive knowledge --a sort of natural, instinctive unconscious” and that as a result, “gay identity is a false construct.” Sounds good to me.  Simply calling people to “repent” of their involuntary same-sex attractions is unhelpful.

Again the example is of sexual abuse that I noted earlier. Uncovering experiences in life that create or reinforce a sense of gender incompletion can actually be a positive thing, providing the struggler with insights into why he is closing off the Gospel to this aspect of his existence. All right, we all bifurcate--compartmentalize-- our lives in various ways. And we walk around still mouthing the platitudes of the Christian faith, and yet we walk around as wounded warriors because we have not made a connection between the Gospel and whatever specific area of our lives that it is we are having problems in. And sometimes, by going back into a person’s history, you can uncover reasons for why that may be the case-- a lightbulb can go off, and you can then not feel so disempowered or unconscious or unaware about the way in which we are blocking the gospel. These insights may help the struggler to lower resistance to the gospel of God’s love in Christ. How can that be a negative?

The Bible doesn’t make a claim to close off further acquisition of knowledge for all time after the Bible was written. Were that the case, all institutions of higher learning would need to close down including Boyce College. Are we supposed to believe that no secular therapy has ever helped anyone? That those counselors who claim to use only the Bible have never used any information not drawn explicitly from the Bible? If you think that, you are kidding yourself.

Again Nicolosi, “It is the work of therapy to undo the shame stemming from perceived deficiency in one’s gendered self...to repair the attachment loss arising from a failure to bond with persons of the same sex,” and to bond non-sexually, “and reconnect the man back to the gendered being he was designed to be.” Who do you think he was designed to be by Nicolosi’s view? God!  How is that anti-Christian?

Conclusion. Descriptions of “Reparative Therapy Heresy” and denunciations of Reparative Therapies (there are actually more than one, really) as “non-Christian” or even “anti-Christian” are not helpful.

Reparative Therapy should be embraced by Christians, not as a total answer to life, not as an alternative to the Christian faith, but as one valid tool for dealing with same sex attractions. Which again, it does not primarily have in view the altering of the attractions, but the altering of the dissonance between their understanding of their gendered self and their actual gendered self given to them by the Creator.

Finally, the church including Southern Baptist leadership, and I say this with all due respect....I actually love Southern Baptists....but there is sort of a phalynx not even of the whole Southern Baptist leadership, but the leadership for some reason at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and those associated with it. But I talk with many other leaders of the Southern Baptist communion and they don’t agree with that position.

The church should utilize the wealth of experience of Christian ministries open to orientation change such as those within, and here I have to indicate my own prejudices, within the Restored Hope Network, where I served as a member of the Board for many years and helped to found that group when Exodus was imploding. I do not think that the implosion of Exodus was a good thing. I mourned the implosion of Exodus, because Exodus had been a valued ministry that collapsed in light of the lack of doctrinal orthodoxy and fidelity of the leaders.

Restored Hope Network rose up to replace that. And that includes great people like Ann Paulk, Andrew Cominskey, Stephen Black, Gary Ingraham and others who have been shut out from a number of events in Southern Baptist leadership and yet they have years and years of experience working on their own same-sex attraction issues, working in ministries, counseling persons with same-sex attractions, applying some of the insights of Reparative Therapy in a very overtly Christian context. Why should we leave that whole side of the Church out of this discussion?

I think we do that at our peril. 

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Robert A. J. Gagnon is an American associate professor of the New Testament at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He holds a BA from Dartmouth, a MTS from Harvard Divinity School, and a PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is considered "the foremost traditionalist interpreter" on the issue of homosexuality in relation to Christianity and the Bible, and has published several books and articles on the subject, such as The Bible and Homosexual Practice.