In the last decade or so a heated controversy has arisen among leaders of societies around the world over “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy” – “Sexual Orientation Change Efforts” [SOCE]. Psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists have sounded the dire warning, supposedly, about “The Lies and Dangers of Efforts to Change Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity” of the LGBTQ+ community, and are joined by human rights advocates. [See: https://www.hrc.org/resources/the-lies-and-dangers-of-reparative-therapy, https://www.wired.co.UK >Science>Health, “Resolution on Empirical, Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts” https://www.cpu.org/about/policy/sexual-orientation.]
Among the dangers cited are depression, anxiety, drug use, hopelessness, and suicide. The last link cited above affirms “the longstanding consensus of the behavioral and social sciences and the health and mental health profession is that homosexuality per se is a normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation…. Homosexuality per se is not a mental disorder… Since 1974 the American Psychological Association [APA] has opposed stigma, prejudice, discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and has taken a leadership role in supporting the equal rights of lesbians, gay, and bisexual individuals.”
The target of these professionals’ advocacy are the values held by some faith-based organizations [religious or church groups], on the one hand, and those held by lesbian, gay, and bisexual rights organizations and professional and scientific organizations, on the other. These latter organizations oppose the idea [of faith-based organizations] that homosexuality is symptomatic of developmental defects or spiritual failings and that SOCE, including psychotherapy and religious efforts, could alter homosexual feelings and behaviors.
The APA, however, encourages collaborative activities in pursuit of shared professional goals between psychologists and religious communities, when such collaboration can be done in a mutually respectful manner that is consistent with psychologists’ professional and scientific roles.
Enter the law-makers
Coming into the fray are law-makers who have moved to ban or make illegal or criminal any efforts at conversion or reparative therapy for LGBTQ+ individuals. [See: “‘Conversion Therapy’ laws – Movement Advancement Project”https/www.lgbtmap.org>equality-maps>conversion-therapy.]
In reaction to this legislation, some religious counselors or conversion practitioners are protesting such a law as violating their basic human right to freedom of religion and the right to practice their divinely ordained calling. [See: Devising Evil by Law.]
Amidst the cloud of this controversy, what can an LGBTQ+ person who sincerely wishes to change his or her sexual orientation and behavior hope for?
God’s word on SO conversion or change
Many advocates against SOCE assert that they have never found a case of a 100% conversion of an LGBTQ+ person, and dare anyone to present such a case, if any. Perhaps people who have indeed come out of such orientation and behavior are too apprehensive about their reputation to issue a detailed testimony of their sexual journey. Ephesians 5:12 says that certain secret matters are too shameful to even mention. Nevertheless, some ex-LGBTQ+ persons have courageously testified about their journey to change. [See: https://changedmovement.com.]
In addition, we have the Biblical testimony by no less than the apostle Paul himself that, apparently after having personally dealt with them, he knew that certain church members among the LGBTQ+ community of his day had changed through the power of God’s spirit to transform their minds and behavior. Since Paul’s letters have now become a part of the Holy Scriptures, whose words are truth (2 Peter 3:15-16; John 17:17) , we can be confident that Paul did not merely write what he did without actual basis in fact. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 [NKJV] Paul wrote:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed [cleansed of sin – “justified” or made just or righteous through the forgiveness in Christ’s sacrifice of His shed blood at Calvary], but you were sanctified [made holy] in the name of the Lord Jesus by the Spirit of our God.
Psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists and law makers/enforcers cannot one-sidedly dismiss the possibility of LGBTQ+ persons to ever change their orientation and behavior through efforts by faith-based practitioners. As the APA resolves, there should be mutual respect between these two camps for their differing roles.
In the ultimate analysis, each one of us will one day be called to accounting of our every thought, word, and deed before Christ’s judgment seat (Matthew 12:36-37). May we be found worthy of God’s kingdom!
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.