PCUSA: Panelists dismiss sex 'change' therapy
- From the PCUSA News Service.
Panelists dismiss sex 'change' therapy
'When fear rules our decisions, the devil is in control'
By Nancy Rodman
DENVER, May 27 - A panel discussion of "reparative" or "change"
therapy, which endeavors to change a person's sexual orientation, was
the topic of a General Assembly luncheon co-hosted by three
organizations working for the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in
the life of the Presbyterian church - More Light Presbyterians, That
All May Freely Serve and the Shower of Stoles Project.
Panelist Kate Van Brocklin, a student at Union Theological
Seminary/Presbyterian School of Christian Education, presented a
historical overview of the theological traditions of sexual
orientation. People of faith have had a variety of understandings
of what it means to be created in the image of God, she said, but our
theology does not support the idea that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and
transgendered people are inferior.
"We are all justified by grace," she said. "We can't alter that
reality. We were placed in right relationship with God before the
foundations of the world were laid. There is nothing we can do to
make ourselves more or less acceptable in God's eyes."
However, she said, "our tradition has been hijacked" by people in
power who "are allowing the children of God to be crucified. We are
all part of the injustice, and it is we who are unfaithful."
Another panelist, the Rev. Chuck McLain, told the story of his
personal journey. He said his own homophobia made him feel that he
was "deviant, aberrant, sick," with the result that he let other
people define who he was. "Homophobia distorts God's truth that sets
us free," said McLain, a More Light coordinator for Montclair
Presbyterian Church, of Oakland, CA.
A clinical psychologist, Dr. Jenny Stone, said, "When fear rules our
decisions, the devil is in control." She said many people, acting
from fear, treat homosexuals as if they are an infringement upon
others and "are bad persons from whom children, holy places,
churches, the pulpit should be protected."
Dr. Cleve Evans, a professor of psychology at Bellevue University and
elder at Love Avenue Presbyterian Church, of Omaha, NE, said most
mental-health professionals believe change therapy is ineffective and
that claims of success made for it are based on faulty research.
It may change behavior, he said, but it doesn't change orientation -
and it always causes harm in the forms of depression, guilt, broken
family relationships, loneliness, low self-esteem and loss of faith.
When such treatment fails, Evans said, subjects are told that they
are to blame because they haven't tried hard enough. He said people
should celebrate strong, healthy relationships, rather than promoting