UPDATE 2: Is NARTH the next target for Peter LaBarbera? Since NARTH’s website also allows for client self-determination regarding goals and objectives, they are the next logical target. Also, Dr. Nicolosi, co-founder of NARTH does not discourage homosexual behavior in his clients.
UPDATE: Jim Brown at ONN published a follow up article to the one which is the subject of this post.
Dr. Warren Throckmorton of Grove City College says he has not lost faith in God’s ability to change people who are struggling with homosexuality, but believes most of those people are not likely to experience a “diminishment” in same-sex attraction.
“To say that because it appears from the research that change is infrequent in attractions doesn’t mean I’ve lost my faith in God’s ability to change people,” he states.
In an article from OneNewsNow this morning, Peter LaBarbera says that I have lost my “faith in God’s ability to change people.”
Strange that no one asked me what I thought about this. OneNewsNow did not ask me what I think of change. LaBarbera paraphrases something I did not say and they printed it. If you were doing an article about someone, wouldn’t you make an effort to get that person’s views? (UPDATE: I am glad to report that OneNewsNow reporter Jim Brown just called and did seek my perspective)
Regular readers of the blog will understand the difference between the change and congruence paradigms of sexual identity ministry. The change paradigm seeks change of orientation as a goal and a standard of success. Some who hold to this paradigm believe that such change is an indicator of spiritual growth and what is known in Christian theology as “sanctification” – i.e., becoming holy and without sin.
On the other hand, the congruence paradigm seeks alignment with one’s understanding of Christian teaching. Change in the direction of essential attractions is viewed as infrequent and may actually be better describe as better behavioral control. A smaller subset of those people may change their attractions in a more dramatic and abrupt manner. This latter experience may be more common among women than men. Whether it happens or not is not deemed important to the objective of congruence. An assumption is that essential human desires are not likely to change much in this life and so the objective is to align behavior and will to Christian teachings.
The congruence paradigm defines change in ideological terms with meaningful cognitive and behavioral implications. Being converted to Christianity or experiencing a recommitment to one’s faith is a profound change and from the perspective of my Christian tradition is the most important kind of change.
So this accusation that I have lost my “faith in God’s ability to change people” is flat wrong. It also ignores the body of my work and efforts to bring evangelical concerns to the professions. I have been working to make the professional bodies aware that religious identity is powerful and for many evangelicals so vital that it overwhelms all other considerations. The chair of the recent American Psychological Association task force on sexual orientation acknowledged this in an interview with the Wall Street Journal:
“We’re not trying to encourage people to become ‘ex-gay,'” said Judith Glassgold, who chaired the APA’s task force on the issue. “But we have to acknowledge that, for some people, religious identity is such an important part of their lives, it may transcend everything else.”
Earlier today I posted a more detailed rebuttal to attacks on the sexual identity therapy framework. Co-author Mark Yarhouse also posted today on the same subject.