Conversion Therapy Complexity

Conversion Therapy Complexity

The January 2020 issue of Scientific American (page 10) carried an editorial titled “Time’s Up for ‘Anti-Gay Therapy.’” The article gives data on the destructive nature of attempted conversion therapy. It cites a study by the Trevor Project, a crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people, showing that 42% of young people who received conversion therapy attempted suicide. The American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have stated that conversion therapy is useless and harmful. Much of the Scientific American editorial blames Christianity as the source of much of the destructive actions caused by conversion therapy.

It is essential to understand that no one knows all the causes of LGBTQ behavior, and in reality, there is no single cause. Some young people exhibit gay behavior as a rebellion against their parents or the Church. There is no question that abuse figures into a person’s sexual choices and behavior in some cases. In today’s society, nearly everyone has a family member or close friend who is struggling with their sexual identity. No Christian wants to hurt anyone or be a cause of pain of any kind to our fellow human beings, much less to cause someone to attempt suicide. All Christians should reject the violent and abusive techniques of conversion therapy programs cited in the Scientific American editorial.

Christians and non-Christians need to understand the issues and work together to promote healthy lifestyles for everyone. We have pointed out studies that show that many LGBTQ behaviors are unhealthy. Life expectancies of people practicing many of those behaviors are very low, and some require constant treatments with harsh drugs for a person’s entire life.

We all need to understand that there is a difference between same-sex attraction and overt gay behavior. Data concerning the demographics of STDs show clearly a higher incidence of those diseases in the LGBTQ community. We have referenced Guy Hammond’s book Caring Beyond the Margins as a good perspective on same-sex attraction without destructive gay behavior. You can read our review of that book HERE.

The Bible has much to say about heterosexual behavior and how God wants us to express our sexual desires. Counselors regularly deal with heterosexual conduct involving abstinence and self-control. There have also been past abusive practices in counseling people with heterosexual problems, including shock therapy, chemical therapies, and forced hormonal treatments. We need to work together to help everyone live as God has called us to live, and forced abusive treatment is not a way to do that. Living out God’s plan will lead to longer and more stable lives.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Is God Masculine or Feminine?

Is God Masculine or Feminine?
In our day of great sensitivity to the abuse that many women have endured in the past, there is a tendency to over-react and add other issues to protect women’s rights. Is God masculine or feminine?

The Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Washington D.C. passed a resolution to stop using masculine pronouns for God in future updates to its Book of Common Prayer. The phrase “Heavenly Father” will be changed to “Heavenly Parent.” Gender neutrality also involves mistranslating specific biblical words to fit a female gender image. The Reverend Linda R. Calkins, an Episcopal Church minister, has a different interpretation of Genesis 17:1. God said to Abraham, “I am El Shaddai.” That is normally translated as “God Almighty.” Calkins maintains that this phrase means “God with breasts.” There is no scholarly support for that claim according to Dr. Michael Brown who is a specialist in Hebrew words and meanings. He wrote that “There’s not a stitch of scholarly evidence to support this.”

An Episcopal bishop in New York even defended a crucifix with a female Jesus called Christa. Other groups have replaced “God as Father” with ‘God as Creator” in their hymns and publications. The God of Israel identified Himself with male pronouns and masculine verbs, so we should also. When God took on human flesh, it was as a man, not a woman or transgender person. That is not to deny that both women and men are created in God’s image, but that is not a physical image.

God is not physical. God is a Spirit (John 4:24). He does not have a sexual identity–masculine or feminine. Sometimes the context of the passage makes mention of God in a female gender manner. An example of this is Luke 13:34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to you; how often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her chicks, and you would not have it.” That is certainly not a male image!

Is God masculine or feminine? The correct answer is that God is complete with the best of masculine characteristics and the best of feminine characteristics. Trying to re-write the Scriptures to fit our biases is to miss much of the message God has for us.
–John N. Clayton and Roland Earnst © 2018