Reparative Therapy or Repair Our Compassion?

The following topic is likened to the intensity of a powder keg few would touch with a 10-foot pole while wearing protective gear, encased in a fortified tank.  But I am not so intimidated to approach. I trust the Holy Spirit to deliver the message as He desires.

Last week, national news outlets buzzed with fervor and perhaps a hint of excitement that would finally dismantle Christians’ positions on the conversation of homosexuality and whether someone engaging in this lifestyle could ever become “straight.”

This Washington Post piece is one of many articles published featuring Alan Chambers, Exodus International president, who said God has instructed him to shut down the 37-year-old ministry that utilized reparative therapy to help persons reduce and remove feelings of same-sex attraction. In a public letter, Chambers apologized for his treatment of gays and not acting toward them in love as God would. He also said that though he gave over years ago to Christ his same-sex attraction and that he and his wife are happily married with children, he still at times experiences attraction to men.  Furthermore, in this June 21, 2013 Christian Post interview, Chambers replies to a portion of his letter by saying, “I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage, but I do not have any desire to fight you on your beliefs or the rights that you seek.” Chambers desires to promote “peace at all costs” and share the good news of the Gospel.

Apology letter from Alan Chambers, Exodus International president

Apology letter from Alan Chambers, Exodus International president

The news of Chambers’ decision to close Exodus International (notice I’m not calling it a ‘ministry’ as he did), gained steam as CNN’s Anderson Cooper (who has been public about his homosexuality), seemed thrilled that finally a ‘Christian’ organization has recognized they are wrong to try and change or pray for someone from being gay.

In reading the Washington Post article, it appears Chambers’ issue was not his belief that same-sex attraction is not God’s way for relationships—rather, it was Chambers lack of compassion, condemnation and brow beating of homosexuals that was the problem. This is something entirely different. My concern is that if this issue is not communicated clearly, it will only increase some homosexuals’ hate toward Christians for our prayers to help those overcome such lifestyles— and encourage the unwitting to support same-sex relationships/attractions (which is the enemy’s hope and trajectory).

Let’s be real clear here. There are a few issues within this situation requiring clarity.

1. Certainly, the techniques of reparative or conversion therapy seem questionable and inhumane. The techniques seem to do little to demonstrate the love and compassion of God. Chambers’ decision to close Exodus International was likely best as he and others within the organization need to re-evaluate God’s command to love one another and show compassion. A Christian’s walk is often challenged to show compassion and love for those who express and promote opposing views that contradict God’s Word.  As God’s Elect and Ambassadors of Christ, we are asked to “deal gently with those who are ignorant or misguided since we ourselves are subject to weakness.” (Hebrews 5:2)

Salt and Light Living

2. Don’t be fooled. While a Christian’s charge is to extend compassion along with faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, joy, kindness, love, patience, peace and self-control to those we encounter (family, friends, colleagues, strangers), it doesn’t mean we shy away from instructing God’s truth—even when it is unpopular.  While many images depict Jesus as a gentle lamb, He is also a brazen and bold lion. So we must be.  Christians have been called to be “salt and light,” dispersing truth in a world that would rather pursue gods and vehicles that allow more fleshly freedoms rather than pursue freedom in Jesus Christ. Matthew 5:13-16 says,13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

3.  Since the creation of time, humans have engaged in all forms of immorality. Homosexuality is only one of these forms and is not new to the scene.  Since God has made Himself known to man, people have invariably exchanged the truth for a lie (with enticements from Satan) to satisfy their flesh. Ultimately, God’s wrath against mankind has turned many over to their lusts (Romans 1:18-32).

There are a number of scriptures (James 5:16 about confessing our faults to one another to be healed to help overcome fleshly struggles) or Deuteronomy 30:19 (I set before you life and death; blessings and curses) that indicates God presents us opportunities to choose not to accept or become slaves to our dysfunctions and tendencies; to break free from negative generational cycles. Through Christ, we have opportunity to live free from bondage. Flesh will always want it’s way over the spirit. We cannot overcome such struggles in our own strength. Only in Jesus Christ can we have this victory.

All of us are subject to battles of the flesh. Reparative therapy is not a solution.  Demonstrating compassion toward those who struggle with the flesh and have not turned it over to God, is our charge. However, this doesn’t suggest as Christians show compassion, we should also support the ways of the world. God’s Word does not change to conform to the laws and votes of our society.

Today, people wait to celebrate or shake their fists at the Supreme Court’s impending rulings on Prop 8, same-sex marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Yet, yesterday, today AND tomorrow, God’s Word remains consistent in his creation of man and woman for fruitful relationships. It is Satan’s hope that Christians will unwittingly retreat from the truth in their pursuit to keep harmony among unbelievers. But we know Satan is only interested in gaining co-workers with him instead of leaving people to become co-workers of Christ.

Today’s answer to tomorrow’s challenges: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.”

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