Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

SOURCE:   Focus on the Family Issue Analysts

Counseling for Unwanted Same-Sex Attractions

In recent years, there has been a marked debate in the mental health professions about both the desirability and feasibility of attempts to alter a person’s homosexual orientation. Historically, such “change” was widely considered both desirable and possible.

More recently, however, an increasing number of mental health practitioners now believe that a homosexual orientation is an intrinsic part of a person’s identity that can not – and should not – be changed. It is in this largely politically driven context – in contrast to a more objectively scientific or even scriptural context – that many clinicians further hold that any and all therapy practices that have as their goal sexual orientation change are harmful and should be declared professionally unethical.

Copyright © 2008 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

 Cause for Concern (Same-Sex Counseling)

Many who experience homosexual temptations and impulses are responding to the Gospel message that unwanted same-sex attractions can be overcome.

Bowing to the forces of political correctness, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in 1998 issued a position statement “rebuking” practices that are broadly referred to as “reparative therapy” for homosexuality. In 2000, the APA affirmed this opposition to psychiatric treatment of reparative or conversion therapy. 1Holding the view that homosexuality is a normal variant of human sexuality, their concern was with groups who were motivated by the view that homosexuality is morally wrong and harmful to society. While the 1998 statement said that there are risks to such therapies, no evidence was offered to support this claim.

What is evident, however, is that the American Psychiatric Association was simply agreeing with pro-homosexual activists and with the American Psychological Association, which had passed a similar, but broader, resolution in 1997. Here, the American Psychological Association claimed that treatment for unwanted homosexual behavior is harmful, unethical and unsuccessful. 2Of note, this resolution also supports the client’s right to self-determination and autonomy – calling for psychologists to “respect the rights of others to hold values, attitudes and opinions that differ from their own.” Clearly, this would include religious beliefs upholding the biblical view that God’s created intent for sexual expression is limited to a monogamous, covenantal marriage relationship between one man and one woman.

Significantly, both groups ignored the fact that many individuals who experience same-sex attractions are dissatisfied with the situation and seek professional help in aligning their thoughts and behaviors with their convictions and faith. In short, many who experience homosexual temptations and impulses are responding to the Gospel message that unwanted same-sex attractions can be overcome. And as they seek pastoral and professional psychological counseling, they find that change and transformation are, indeed, possible.

Copyright © 2008 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.


1Therapies Focused on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation (Reparative or Conversion Therapies) POSITION STATEMENT, May 2000,http://www.psych.org/Departments/EDU/Library/APAOfficialDocumentsandRelated/PositionStatements/200001a.aspx, August 20, 2008.

2Resolution on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, APA online, 14 August 1997, http://www.apa.org/pi/sexual.html , August 20, 2008.

Our Position (Same-Sex Counseling)

Focus on the Family is dedicated to defending the honor, dignity and value of the two sexes as created in God’s image.
  • Focus on the Family is dedicated to defending the honor, dignity and value of the two sexes as created in God’s image – intentionally male and female – each bringing unique and complementary qualities to sexuality and relationships.
  • Sexuality is a glorious gift from God – meant to be offered back to Him either in marriage for procreation, union and mutual delight or in celibacy for undivided devotion to Christ. 1
  • Homosexual behavior violates God’s intentional design for gender and sexuality.
  • While we do not believe an individual typically “chooses” his or her same sex-attractions, we do believe that those who struggle with unwanted same-sex sexual temptation can choose to steward their impulses in a way that aligns with their faith convictions.
  • We affirm the Scriptural teaching that homosexuals can and do change their sexual identity (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
  • We support counseling and the availability of professional therapy options for unwanted homosexual attractions and behavior.
  • We do not endorse or promote any one particular religious, psychiatric or psychological approach as the “one and only” way to go about changing same-sex attractions and behaviors.
  • Just as there are many paths that may lead a person to experience same-sex attractions, there are likewise multiple ways out. Thus, individuals and their helping professionals are called to discern and pursue the most appropriate approach that best enables them to steward their sexuality in alignment with their chosen values.

Copyright © 2008 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.


1Focus on the Family Mission and Vision, The Pillars,http://www.family.org/sharedassets/correspondence/pdfs/GeneralInformation/FOF_Mission_Statement_and_Pillars.pdf, August 20, 2008

 Talking Points (Same-Sex Counseling)

 Both the American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association call for practitioners to respect the religious and spiritual values of their clients and assert that clients have the right to autonomy and self determination. 1At the same time, however, both groups view the traditional biblical understanding on homosexuality with disdain and actively promote a sexual ethic opposing biblical orthodoxy. The American Psychiatric Association goes so far as to take sides in the theological debate by referencing pro-gay, biblically unorthodox, revisionist writers in its document. 2

  • The resolution by the American Psychological Association also calls into question parental rights to raise children according to their own standards – including those who encourage their children to follow a traditional biblical sexual ethic.
  • Research confirms that permanent change away from a homosexual orientation is, indeed, possible.
  • In 2007, Drs. Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse published a study confirming that long-term change away from homosexual orientation can occur through religious mediation. At the end of three years, 67 percent of men and women who had undergone group discussions, individual counseling, journaling, Scripture reading and prayer either reported a change towards heterosexual orientation or a rejection of gay identity with establishment of successful chastity, or were continuing work towards one of those two goals based on the progress they had already experienced.3
  • In 2003, pro-gay Dr. Robert Spitzer published his study of 200 men and women who had reported some change “from homosexual to heterosexual orientation that lasted at least five years.” He found that “almost all of the participants reported substantial changes in the core aspects (of) sexual orientation, not merely overt behavior.” 4
  • A major study, released in 1997, of almost 860 individuals and more than 200 psychologists and therapists who treated clients with same-sex attractions, reported that a large number had moved away from homosexual attractions, identity and behavior. 5
  • There is no valid or replicable research demonstrating the inevitability of homosexual behavior based on biological or genetic circumstances. 6
  • Not only does research confirm that permanent change is possible, but numerous testimonies declare the truth of God’s healing and redemptive power – both with and without the assistance of those in the psychiatric and psychological professions. The Apostle Paul noted the reality of change for some members of the early church in Corinth, and men and women continue to find freedom from homosexuality today. 7
  • While the process of changing one’s sexual identity is often a long and difficult journey, it is nevertheless possible for highly motivated individuals.
  • In contrast to the claims of both APAs, competent religiously mediated counseling for unwanted same-sex attraction was found not to be harmful on average, and hence the change attempt is not inherently harmful. 8
  • In America, individuals are blessed with the freedom to choose how they define themselves and to steward their sexuality as they see fit. If people want to change their sexual identity, it is their right to choose.
  • The American Psychiatric Association’s “rebuke” in 1998 of “reparative therapy” and the resolution adopted by the American Psychological Association are not – nor have they ever been – official ethical bans on therapeutic approaches to bring behavior, attractions, and identity in line with a person’s values. Individuals continue to have a right to choose counseling and therapy to help align their thoughts and behavior with their convictions and faith.

Copyright © 2008 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.


1Religious/Spiritual Commitments and Psychiatric Practice, RESOURCE DOCUMENT, December 2006,http://www.psych.org/Departments/EDU/Library/APAOfficialDocumentsandRelated/ResourceDocuments/200604.aspx, August 20, 2008; Resolution on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, APA online, and http://www.apa.org/topics/sexuality/index.aspx, section heading ‘What about therapy intended to change sexual orientation from gay to straight?” Here, the APA says “Mental health professional organizations call on their members to respect a person’s (client’s) right to self-determination;…”

2Therapies Focused on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation (Reparative or Conversion Therapies)
POSITION STATEMENT.

3Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse, Ex Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation, InterVarsity Press, 2007.

4Robert L. Spitzer, “Can some gay men and lesbians change their sexual orientation? 200 participants reporting a change from homosexual to heterosexual orientation,” Archives of Sexual Behavior, Oct. 2003, vol. 32, no. 5, pp. 403-417. See alsohttp://www.narth.com/docs/evidencefound.html.

5New Study Confirms Homosexuality Can Be Overcome, Findings Indicate that Those Who Want to Change Sexual Orientation Can Be Successful, May 17, 1997,http://www.narth.com/docs/study.html , August 20, 2008.

6Caleb H. Price, “Are People Really “Born Gay”? See http://www.citizenlink.com/2010/06/are-people-really-born-gay/

7I Corinthians 6:9-11; Personal Pageshttp://www.stonewallrevisited.com/, August 20, 2008; Real Stories, http://exodusinternational.org/resources/real-stories/, August 20, 2008.

8Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse, Ex Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation, InterVarsity Press, 2007.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: