The Christian Post’s Lillian Kwon writes this morning about the call from Richard Rothstein to criminalize conversion therapy. She extensively quotes Tim Wilkins about the controversies surrounding the matter.
Tim Wilkins asks a question near the end of the piece that I want to briefly address:
“Since when did the church of Jesus Christ delegate its responsibility to healing people’s hurt to some source outside the church?”
While Wilkins doesn’t negate the benefits of counseling or therapy, he pointed to the Church as “God’s primary source of healing” the hurt.
“In one sense, it is easier for evangelical Christians to passionately pound the APA right now regarding this possible move (to ban therapy) than it is to recognize and to implement our responsibility as Christians to share the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ,” Wilkins stressed.
I ask in reply: What hurt are we talking about? The gospel changes lives but as I understand orthodoxy, it may not change inclinations. I agree that the APA is not the Church of APA and I resist their efforts to take sides in religious debates. However, the mission of the church as I understand it is not primarily a therapeutic one. Health and wellness gospel adherents may take exception but I submit that a change in sexual inclinations is not an inevitable by-product of Christian conversion. I believe many people have been promised this to their eventual great frustration.
I may be misunderstanding Tim here. My reaction is based in concerns that much ex-gay ministry tries too hard to be therapeutic changers of orientation and not ministers focused on support for congruence with church teaching.
Here is a question that I hope to address and expand on in time: What is the proper focus of sexual identity ministry? Change of sexual inclination or loving support for participants to develop congruence with church teaching?
If not bumped by breaking news (e.g., Iraq, Holsinger nomination, Paris Hilton sneezes), I will be on CNN today at approximately 1:40pm Eastern Standard Time opposite psychiatrist Benjamin McCommon. Topic: The APA task force and the initiative of the religious coalition reported in last week’s AP article.
Video of the segment is now up on You Tube:
AOL’s GLBT community blog Queersighted has an article by Richard Rothstein this morning that marks tomorrow’s first meeting of the APA Sexual Orientation Task as an important date in gay history. Why? Because he hopes the task force will suggest to the APA that all reparative/conversion therapy should be banned. And what if the APA bans reparative therapy (never defined in this piece)? Well, round up the posse, boys, Mr. Rothstein has the answer:
If the APA does in fact ban reparative or conversion therapy, we will at long last have a solid legal argument for shutting down such groups as Exodus International and Homosexuals Anonymous. This will also mean that under standard and existing malpractice laws, psychologists and therapists who continue to advocate and practice such therapy would be subject to license revocation, hefty fines and even imprisonment.
So if Mr. Rothstein’s vision is realized, reparative therapists and maybe the Exodus crew will be answering questions like: “Hey, doc, what are you in for?”
This is disturbing.
One recent commenter here proposed that what I do under the framework of sexual identity therapy was really reparative. I was fired from Magellan’s Provider Advisory Board in 2005 (and later reinstated) because it was alledged that I was a reparative therapist. People who should know better in the academic community refuse to acknowledge the distinctions I make between what I do and reparative therapy. So should I set up a trust fund for the kids?
The APA may not advocate such strong legal measures, but as the recent AP story made clear, the audience for the APA’s decisions is not only a professional one. PFLAG and the Task Force are ready, presumably with lawyers.
This New York Times piece provides a summary of the stance of Dr. James Holsinger regarding his views on a number of issues.
I thought his responses to the criticisms of his 1991 paper were reasonable and, as a professor, understandable. Most of us writes tons of stuff for various audiences and I certainly do not agree with some things I wrote 16 years ago. As an academic matter, I would wonder how his views have changed and why. Those who oppose him might want to know that to since I doubt they have much trust. Those who were inclined to favor him may now feel he has vacillated.
Note his top priorities:
…tackling childhood obesity, “making America a tobacco-free nation” and improving the ability of the Public Health Service to respond to emergencies.
All three are admirable but the second is, I suspect, a pipe dream…
The hearings regarding the nomination of James Holsinger open today and promise to be contentious. I will not be able to follow them but as news comes out about his remarks and the questioning, readers, please feel free to post links, quotes and comments.
At the opening, Dr. Holsinger disputed the attacks on his view of homosexuality. No word as yet on the 1991 paper.
UPDATE: Dr. Holsinger says the 1991 paper regarding homosexuality and pathology does not represent his current views.