There is a ‘Christian’ website, run by a one-time fellow Kiwi now working in the U.S. and presuming to speak on behalf of all ‘Orthodox Anglicans’ around the world, under a title that might beguile readers into thinking that it is dedicated to the upholding of ‘Christian Virtue’, while at the same time haranguing any Christian who dares to challenge the traditional understanding of gender and sexuality as confined to what was once known as ‘binary’ gender/sexuality – that is; limited to the human race being either ‘male’ or female’ – with no variation or fluidity within the concept. Below the line is one such article:
What is now known, from both scientific and spiritual research, is that there is a range of different responses between genders that can draw other than purely binary attraction, exposing a different way of ‘being’ in the world. Unfortunately, there are people whose reaction to this obvious reality is that they want to claim ‘biblical evidence’ – from a series of books written two thousand years ago – to shore up their own prejudice and uncertainty about anything different from the model they perceive as being divinely ordained, claiming infallibity for a biological proposition that, though true for most people, may not be true for ten percent of all humanity.
Where homosexuality was once considered to be immoral, un-Christian, and against the ‘natural law’, it has now been recognised that there is a range of gender/sexual responses among humans (and also in the animal kingdom) that vary between absolute masculine to the absolutely feminine; which renders the possibility of a binary sexual relationship uncomfortable, if not impossible, for a significant minority of human and other sensient beings.
There are also people who, being convinced of the need for humans to conform to either the male or female sexual model, are encouraged to undergo some form of therapy – whether spiritual. chemical, or psychological – for either religious or societal reasons – and will agree to undergo such therapy, being reassured by their mentors that this is ‘the best thing’ for them. However, when such therapy fails to bring about the ‘change’ that is promised by the mentors (and this is the experience of the majority) then the person undergoing the therapy can be considered to be ‘uncooperative’, and therefore ‘delinquent’ in their inability to ‘control’ their ‘un-natural’ sexual impulses. One very unfortunate result of this outcome – which has been experienced all too often amongst younger people – can be mental illness or suicide!
The actual number of people who have survived ‘therapy’ – whether spiritual , psychological or chemical – is quite small and usually restricted to those whose spiritual conversion has encouraged them to try to assume a more acceptable ‘moral’ outcome, allowing a small number of them to enter into heterosexual marriage and to produce children. However, for a truly exclusively homosexual person, this is not possible, and could lead to an unsatisfactory outcome for such a marriage arrangement. Such persons who claim to have been ‘converted’ from homo- to heterosexuality can more logically be assumed to be ‘bi-sexual’, having the capacity to respond, sexually, to both binary gender types.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand
Banning conversion therapy will cause more harm, say experts
24 November 2021
People of all ages should have the right to seek out help for unwanted same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria and achieve their own life goals, an international symposium has heard.
The symposium, held in London on Tuesday, was organised by the International Federation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice (IFTCC), to debate the implications of the UK government’s proposed conversion therapy ban. Under government plans, therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation or gender identity will be completely banned in the case of minors and vulnerable adults, but remain available for over-18s if they give “informed consent”. Christians fear it will lead to evangelical pastors and churches being criminalised for ordinary church activities like prayer and pastoral counselling.
Dr Elizabeth Woning, pastor at Bethel Church in Redding, California, spoke about her work for the Changed Movement, a community of Christians who have left the LGBT lifestyle behind.
“This is a population that most people believe doesn’t exist,” she said.
“Anyone who’s benefitted from prayer ministries and programmes that specifically address unwanted same-sex sexual behaviours have been maybe intentionally or unintentionally excluded from the majority of the studies that are being used to substantiate the harms of so-called change-allowing therapy or conversion therapy.” Dr Woning was a lesbian and former activist for LGBT ordination before being healed by a radical encounter with Jesus and marrying her husband in 2005. She said that the lived experience of ex-gay people was “vitally important” to the current debate, and that therapy bans risked “great harm” to people looking for a way out.
“Therapy bans threaten the lives of individuals like us, whether minors or adults, who are in pain over their LGBTQ feelings,” she said. “Bans cause harm because they don’t ever allow you to address the pain. They disallow personalised exploration with a professional to address the factors that could be formitive in the development of same-sex sexual behaviour.
“LGBTQ-identifying people must have the right to follow their faith wholeheartedly and pursue their own life goals, even when it means moving away from LGBTQ or gender confusion, and identifying as heterosexual.”
She said it was important that pastors and therapists be allowed to create safe spaces and opportunities for people to explore the pain of their unwanted sexual attractions or identities. “For most of us at Changed, our religious convictions fundamentally guide our worldview and sense of personal identity. It’s important that legislators grasp the gravity of forcing a person with unwanted same-sex attraction, no matter their age, to disavow their religious faith to embrace LGBTQ identity or same-sex feeling or behaviour,” she said. Dr Woning also questioned why under-18s should not be allowed to receive such help.
“In an era when gender identity has such high stakes, pointing to life-altering drugs and surgeries that frequently cause sterilisation, shouldn’t children be given every opportunity for self-discovery and relief from trauma that might alleviate gender dysphoria,” she said. She added: “People like us want answers … saying ‘I was born this way’ just doesn’t cut it.”
The symposium was co-organised by Christian Concern, which has warned of the dangers of a conversion therapy ban not only to pastors but also parents wanting to raise their children within a traditional sexual ethic. Christian Concern CEO Andrea Williams expressed concern at the impact on free speech. “A whole load of people will just go silent,” she said. “When there’s an Act that comes in and subdues free discourse and how people interact pastorally and professionally, there will be a chilling effect. “It’s a very easy way of targeting those who seek to do good.”
Dr Laura Haynes, a psychologist and experienced therapist, said the proposed ban and the research supporting it was being driven by ideology and that the end result would be “unpractical and unsafe”. “Everyone should have the right to walk away from sexual or gender practices and experiences that don’t work for them and have support to do so without government approval for their reason and without discrimination,” she said.
“The government proposal forbids minors the right to help to live according to their religion. It is a serious attack on the human rights of minors to freedoms of speech, religion and belief. “There are rational reasons why people want and freely choose change-exploring therapy.”
Registered physician Dr Andre Van Mol warned that minors were simply too young to fully grasp the implications of losing their fertility or full sexual function forever. “Banning counselling choice condemns already at-risk sexual minority youth to experimental and unproven hormonal and surgical gender affirming therapy (GAT),” he said. “GAT permanently and prematurely medicalises minors for a condition that overwhelmingly resolves by adulthood.
“Why do that? It is not proven to be effective or safe, it does not reduce suicides, and is not the standard of care for gender dysphoric minors.” He continued, “Minors cannot give truly informed consent for a life of sterility and compromised sexual function. They have developing brains, their minds change often, and they don’t grasp long-term consequences.
“Gender Affirming Therapy’s suicide reduction claim is a myth, used as emotional blackmail against parents and the public. “The chemical castration and surgical mutilation of otherwise healthy young bodies is not health care.”
IFTCC Chairman, Dr Mike Davidson, agreed, saying: “There is no reason to believe that talking therapies for sexual orientation cause harm, yet there is a mountain of evidence that transgender affirmation, puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgery cause significant damage to adults and children. “How can the government possibly justify a ban on conversion therapy while paying for these damaging transgender treatments?”