Yesterday I had the good pleasure to join a courageous group of people for a conference entitled “Transformation Potential” held at the Emmanuel Centre in London. The conference was spearheaded by Michael Davidson, a man of God who came out of the homosexual life many years ago and heads up a group called Core Issues Trust (“a non-profit Christian ministry supporting men and women with homosexual issues who voluntarily seek change in sexual preference and expression”) and by Andrea Williams, dynamic barrister and CEO of Christian Concern (an organization that seeks to be “a strong Christian voice in the public sphere”) and the Christian Legal Centre (a legal defense team for British Christians persecuted for their faith). Speakers at the event included (in addition to Davidson, Williams, and me) Andrew Comiskey (Executive Director and Founder of Desert Stream / Living Waters), Dr. Christopher Rosik (former president of NARTH), Floyd Godfrey (a licensed professional counselor in Arizona and author, who has come out of the homosexual life), Dr. Peter May (a general practitioner of medicine for over thirty years), and Martin Davie (a Tutor in Christian Doctrine at Wycliffe Hall at Oxford University who has written an important response to the Pilling Report).
I wasn’t expecting totally unbiased reporting on the talks by the British media but this article in the British publication The Independent reached new lows: “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to find a gay cure” by Emily Dugan. This heavily biased, irresponsible hatchet-job poses as “reporting” but it is really a juvenile op-ed piece.
The absurdities start with the title. No one referred to a “gay cure.” Rather the conference was about the possibility of leading transformed lives, not enslaved to same-sex attractions or any other desires to do what God expressly forbids.
Speakers at the conference were quite clear that change of sexual orientation for all meant no longer living under the control of sinful desires. This is basic Christian doctrine, Christianity 101. We recognize the possibility for some to experience some degree of change on a 0 to 6 Kinsey spectrum of same-sex attraction (as the Kinsey Institute itself did). We also recognize that God often doesn't see fit to remove sinful desires but manifests his life by empowering obedience in spite of the retention of such desires. As with Paul's discussion of the “thorn in the flesh,” God often does not remove the deprivations and difficulties of our lives, in order to show us that knowing him and his grace more than offsets these distractions.
We believe in the right of self-determination on the part of clients, including their right to seek therapeutic help for management of same-sex attractions. We abhor the totalitarian thuggery of the state that seeks to eliminate the choice of the client.
I presented on the scriptural evidence regarding homosexuality, of which Dugan wrote: “There is just one catch [to Gagnon’s citation of scripture texts from Jesus]: not one of the passages he quotes from actually mentions gay relationships.”
The point, which she apparently missed, is that Jesus extrapolated his position about limiting the number of partners in a sexual union to two based on the twoness of the sexes, “male and female,” which in turn establishes a male-female prerequisite as foundational. Jesus regarded the Genesis creation texts as essential for defining sexual ethics, which texts also depict man and woman as the two parts comprising a sexual whole. Had I had more time (I only had a half hour), I could easily have adduced other texts from Scripture that speak directly to homosexual practice. I chose instead to focus on the figure (Jesus) to whom so many appeal erroneously for support of their homosexual relations.
As Robert George aptly commented, “This kind of manipulation and defamation is as predictable as the sun's rising in the east. It is not rooted in innocent mistakes. Quite the contrary. It represents a tried and true strategy designed to stigmatize and marginalize anyone who dares to dissent from sexual liberationist orthodoxy. Its aim is to silence dissent by raising its cost.”
A quote attributed (perhaps falsely) to Benjamin Franklin at the signing of the Declaration of Independence may be apropos here, taken in a metaphorical sense: “We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
Robert A. J. Gagnon is an Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (Abingdon Press).