Christians Who Oppose Conversion Therapy Need a Reality Check

To be loving does not mean to be gullible.  Jesus Christ mentions that we will come across dishonest people, especially among those who have prestige (or are seeking it).  We should love people, but that does not mean we should let them take advantage of us.  Or fool us.  Or trick us.

In that spirit, I want Rosaria Butterfield, Sam Allberry, and Jackie Hill Perry to answer a simple yes-or-no question.  No long filibustering paragraphs.  No detours into extensive complaints about what other Christians are supposedly doing.  No lifeline block-quotes from Augustine.  Just yes or no.  Here:

Do you agree with the Anglican church's ban on conversion therapy?

Yes or no.

Here's why this question is urgent.  Butterfield, Allberry, and Perry are currently superstars in the world of Protestant Christianity, constantly summoned to discuss issues of sexuality in the church.  They all had experience with same-sex attraction.  They all say they believe in Christ.

And they all attack conversion therapy.  According to her profile on Alchetron, Rosaria Butterfield believes the following:

She does not identify herself as "ex-gay" and does not think any Christians should identify themselves as "gay Christians."  She notes that "[t]he job of the adjective is to change the noun."  Butterfield has criticized conversion therapy for contending that the "primary goal of Christianity is to resolve homosexuality through heterosexuality, thus failing to see that repentance and victory over sin are God's gifts and failing to remember that sons and daughters of the King can be full members of Christ's body and still struggle with sexual temptation."  Butterfield suggests this is a version of the prosperity gospel.

The Alchetron page classes Butterfield with Matthew Vines and Alan Chambers.  What a club.

Sam Allberry's group in London, Living Out, makes similar swipes at conversion therapy, though the prose below is actually attributed to Sean Doherty:

Why we do not support the idea of 'gay cure'

1) Homosexuality is not an illness.  But using the language of 'cure' makes it sound like it is, which could be very damaging to vulnerable people (such as a young person coming to terms with their sexuality), making them feel ashamed of who they are at a very deep and fundamental level, and perhaps in some cases even contributing to suicidal feelings.  Thankfully, we are not aware of any organisations in the UK which do support the idea of a 'gay cure'.  Our belief is that all of us have fallen sexual desires (whether heterosexual or homosexual), and that what we need isn't more heterosexuality or less homosexuality, but the holiness found in Jesus Christ.

Lastly, Jackie Hill Perry has come forward with a statement entitled "Don't Preach a Heterosexual Gospel," which also blasts the notion of conversion therapy:

Perry, who used to be a lesbian but is now married to a man and has two daughters, warns that the "heterosexual gospel" is problematic because it "tends to put more emphasis on marriage as the goal of the Christian life than on knowing Jesus."

"What the gay community needs to hear is not that God will make them straight, but that Christ can make them his," she continues.

"Someone trying to pursue heterosexuality and not Christ is just as far from a right standing with God as someone actively pursuing homosexuality.  They have put their faith in a new 'orientation' rather than in knowing the living God."

Unfortunately, all three of them arrogate to themselves the right to speak for "same-sex-attracted" Christians.  They do not speak for me.  In fact, I doubt that they speak for almost anybody.

People who see themselves as gay, and who do not want to become straight, exist in a social world different from mine.  They have both Vines and Chambers as go-to people to emulate.  Neither Vines nor Chambers will tell them that sodomy itself poses any problem at all.

But let us think through who these gay affirmers are and what they want to hear.  They do not want Allberry's tortured celibacy.  Nor do they want Butterfield and Perry to exhaust them with long filibusters about how their identity is sinful but they have no hope of ever becoming straight, either.  People who see themselves as gay and who do not want to become straight generally want to be "gay Christians.” They want to hear about how they can walk with Jesus Christ while still having gay relationships, period.  They will not generally be fans of Allberry, Butterfield, or Perry.

So Allberry, Butterfield, and Perry’s popularity comes largely because straight Christians like to hear them talk about how they dealt with their homosexuality.  It makes straight Christians feel tolerant for giving them platforms.  Straight Christians imagine that gay people will respond positively to their message and will not reject the Christian position on sexuality as hateful.

People in the gay community who like being gay do not need their message since many churches are already okay with active, practicing homosexuals.  If gay people have a problem with their sexual orientation and want to change, they will likely want to cease homosexual behavior and be freed of homosexual thoughts and identity.  Allberry, Butterfield, and Perry denounce homosexual acts while claiming that it is equally wrong for them to engage in heterosexuality.

(It is not equally wrong, or wrong at all, for someone struggling with homosexuality to seek self-modification in hopes of getting married – again, to a member of the opposite sex, with whom alone marriage is possible.)

Butterfield and Perry, both of whom are married and raising children, come across as particularly annoying in that regard.  They tell gay people that it's somehow ungodly for them to want the same godly life – marriage, parenthood – that both Butterfield and Perry have.

Another group of people has struggled with homosexuality and knows that it is a sin incompatible with Christianity.  Similarly in this position are people like Stephen Black, Daren Mehl, myself, and the people who follow David Pickup or Restored Hope Network.  

I won't try to speak for others, but I can speak for where I am.  I find the rhetoric of Allberry, Butterfield, and Perry tiresome and callous.  Their reasons for rejecting conversion to heterosexuality feel muddled yet judgmental.  And terribly wrong.  Jesus Christ said faith can move mountains.  Jesus Christ also tells a parable about a persistent widow winning over a judge, as an exhortation to continue seeking the good things in life rather than surrender to discouragement.  Jesus consistently advises His believers to ask, so that they shall receive, noting that no father, if his son asked for an egg, would give him a snake.

Yes, many people claim to have failed at going from gay to straight, just as many obese people decide that after so much dieting and exercise, they will never lose weight.  Jesus Christ shares the powerful message that with faith, hope, and love, such great things do happen.  They have happened in my life.  Rosaria Butterfield has no place to tell me faith can't make me straight.

The Apostle Paul said faith, hope, and love are the most enduring of all human feelings.  Allberry, Butterfield, and Perry suffocate all three.  They deny the power of people's faith to heal themselves and live in obedience to God, largely because they assume too much when they predict that people's attempts to change toward heterosexuality will necessarily fail.  They stifle people's hope by telling them, falsely, that God will not answer their prayers if they pray for something godly and fair.  And they place stumbling blocks before people so they cannot feel love in the way God intended it, including the beauty of love for the opposite sex in all its splendor.

Also, they use straw man fallacies.  They say they oppose conversion therapy because other Christians who support it supposedly engage in bad doctrine. In truth they err in doctrine and the Christians they criticize speak righteously.  Hence, the Living Out statement accuses conversion therapy of harming young people, as if such young people do not already know, in many cases, that something is wrong with homosexuality anyway.

Rosaria Butterfield compares Christians who want to lead heterosexual lives to the widely reviled "prosperity gospel."  She assumes that for others to have a goal – becoming heterosexual – their goal must necessarily be "the primary goal." Nobody I know has ever said that Christianity's primary goal is turning people into heterosexuals.  The parallel to the prosperity gospel is wildly unfair, since poverty is not a sin, but homosexuality is.  Also, heterosexuality is simply a word describing male-female intimacy, which is God's design as set down in Genesis and upheld by Jesus in Matthew 19 and Mark 10.

Jackie Hill Perry conflates people who want to become heterosexual with people who "want to pursue heterosexuality and not Christ." If someone is suffering in homosexuality, I bring glory to God by helping him out of it even if the person is not yet ready to confess belief in Christ. My charity may endear them to my God, and their better life may leave them more capable of drawing near to Jesus Christ later.

And what about people who want to pursue heterosexuality and Christ?  By ignoring the existence of such people, she creates an exaggerated extreme to distract people from the real crisis at hand, the crisis that all three of these speakers fail to acknowledge and end up worsening:

The gay movement is trying to ban homosexuals from getting help so they can turn toward heterosexuality.

While a dozen American states, many foreign governments, and the Church of England have banned conversion therapy, no widespread movement exists anywhere to force churches to exalt heterosexuality more than they honor Christ.

So why, when ex-gays are being besieged from all sides, do we have to deal with Allberry, Butterfield, and Perry attacking us, too? By setting themselves up as Christians with same-sex attraction, they can discredit conversion therapy.  The LGBT movement loves that.  The LGBT movement can afford to have three Christian speakers denounce sodomy in Biblical terms if they get three resounding denunciations of conversion therapy.

The LGBT movement wants there to be no conversion therapy, so the maximum number of people stays identified as "gay."  Such an outcome would give the LGBT movement a huge population base, which translates into massive financial and political power.

But I could rest my doubts about their motives if they could answer one yes-or-no question.  In 2017, the Church of England banned conversion therapy.  Do they support this move?

If yes, then we know where Allberry, Butterfield, and Perry are taking us.  They serve the LGBT community, regardless of what they may claim.  They want gay people to remain identified with that community, even if they may take on some other name like "same sex-attracted."  They want to block strugglers from identifying as straight so that the gay community can continue to have a large constituency deprived of any exit strategy.

If the answer is no, then I wonder where they have been for all these years.  Ex-gays like Stephen Black have been fighting a lonely battle for conversion therapy.  I have worked hard to help gay men who want to go straight.  It would mean the world to a lot of people if they could get off their high horses and encourage people instead of shooting down hopes and dreams that match God's promises.  It would also hearten us to see them stand up to gay activists instead of just helping gay activists beat up on God-fearing Christians.

Follow Robert Oscar Lopez at English Manif.  Also, check out his new series at Mass Resistance, called "Save Our Churches."

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