Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity Statement on Faith and Therapy for Unwanted Same-Sex Attractions and Behavior
The Alliance has great respect for the religious faith and spirituality that animates many individuals experiencing unwanted same-sex attractions and behaviors. We find this dimension of human experience is often a critical factor in the motivation and persistence of clients who come to experience the reality of change. While some in the faith community have promoted a faith versus therapy dichotomy, we would respectfully disagree with such a limiting perspective. Rather, for many individuals, the interaction of their religious faith and their participation in a scientifically informed therapy for unwanted same-sex attractions and behavior is experienced as mutually beneficial.
The Alliance agrees with those in the religious community who would not want to make sexual orientation change an “idol” wherein the achievement of less than complete orientation change is viewed as failure or, still worse, an indicator of insufficient faith. We think this is a misunderstanding of the role of professional therapy. From a theological perspective, scientifically informed professional therapy for unwanted same-sex attractions and behavior can be viewed as a form of general revelation, one tool among many that God has provided to help some people in their journey toward sanctification and holiness. While neither necessary nor sufficient for these ends, professional therapy can play a valuable role in this spiritual, emotional, and relational formation process for some believers. It can do this by assisting individuals in addressing the deeper emotional or psychological factors that may be related to their same-sex attractions and behaviors.
The Alliance therefore encourages the faith community to consider professional therapy for unwanted same-sex attractions in its proper context. It is not a replacement for a broader, life-long sanctification and discipleship process. It is also not irrelevant to these processes for some individuals when conducted in an ethical and scientifically informed manner. Although some within the faith community have discouraged individuals from receiving such therapeutic assistance, this cannot be justified by either science or scripture. Consequently, the Alliance believes such psychological care should be made available to those within the faith community wanting to explore the degree to which their unwanted same-sex attractions and behavior may be subject to change.
Preparing a Foundation for the Curtailment of Religious Liberty: New Research Targets Conservative Religious Beliefs on Same-Sex Sexuality
Reviewed by Christopher Rosik, Ph.D.
A recently published study (Sowe, Taylor, & Brown, 2017) appears to move psychology’s attack on conservative religious beliefs about same-sex sexuality to a new level. The study appeared in the American Psychological Association affiliated journal, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. In what follows, I will outline the study’s methodology and findings with extensive quotations from the authors, ending with a critical review of the conclusions and implications drawn by these researchers.
As is common to nearly all research in the area of health disparities among sexual orientations, Sowe et al. ground their study exclusively on the minority stress theory. In this view, disproportionately high rates of mental and physical distress among LGB populations are exclusively attributed to the disproportionately prejudicial social conditions they experience. However, this study forges new ground by focusing specifically on traditional Christian beliefs regarding same-sex sexuality as key source of that disproportional prejudice, noting that anti-gay prejudice is frequently religious-based. Further, the authors contend that religious anti-gay prejudice negatively impacts not just LGB individuals within conservative religious contexts, but also LGB and even heterosexual persons outside these churches who are simply exposed to or anticipate being exposed to anti-gay doctrine. As Sowe et al. assert,
Indeed, from a minority stress perspective, it would be erroneous to assume that religious anti-gay prejudice is purely a “religious” phenomenon—that is, of consequence only to religious sexual minorities. Although nonreligious LGB individuals may be less likely than their religious counterparts to attend a place of worship or internalize anti-gay doctrines, they may nonetheless experience (or expect to experience) homonegativity from religious individuals and groups they encounter. (p. 692, authors’ emphases)