Wall Street Journal: Bridging the Gay-Evangelical Divide
- Bridging the Gay-Evangelical Divide
Extreme opinions move toward the middle.
By DAVID <http://online.wsj.com/search/search_center.html?KEYWORDS=DAVID+G.+MYERS&ARTICLESEARCHQUERY_PARSER=bylineAND> G. MYERS
'Efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm." So says a new American Psychological Association report affirmed by its governing body in a 125-to-4 vote. No surprise there, given the past advice of the APA—and of other mental-health associations—against sexual-reorientation therapies.
What has raised some eyebrows was the APA's olive branch to religious conservatives. Reaffirming "individuals' right to their own religious beliefs," the report provides guidance to counselors whose religious clients feel distressed about their same-sex attractions. It encourages them to remind their clients that gay people can live happy lives and that there is no evidence to support the belief that sexual orientation can change. But if clients reject a gay identity anyway, declared the APA, then it would be ethical to help them reconcile their religious and sexual identities and to assist them in managing their behavior, including refraining from sexual activity.
Applause for the APA's sensitivity to religious diversity has come from previously opposing sides within evangelicalism. Psychotherapist Ralph Blair, the founder of Evangelicals Concerned, the gay-supporting "national network of gay and lesbian evangelical Christians and friends," welcomes APA's "clear rejection of 'reparative therapy.' " But he also welcomes its openness to supporting homosexual people "who nonetheless think that it's wrong for them to act on their same-sex desires." Grove City College psychologist-blogger Warren Throckmorton, who supports those who want to control same-sex attractions and reject a gay identity, sees hope for "a larger middle and smaller numbers of people at the opinion extremes. People on both sides, he says, "can agree that erotic responsiveness is extremely durable."
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