Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
As the Executive Director and on behalf of the Board of Directors of Grace Rivers Ministry, I’d like to make the following statement regarding the banning of Sexual Orientation Conversion Therapy.
At Grace Rivers Ministry, we believe that a person must make healthy, authentic, and respectful decisions about how they will act upon their sexual desires. We believe people should be given the freedom by loved ones, the culture, and religious institutions to make those decisions without condemnation or coercion within appropriate limitations such as rape, pedophilia, sex slavery or sexual acts that will emotionally or physically damage another person. We also believe that a person considering marriage to a person who has a different sexual orientation should do so with great caution, counsel, and honesty with themselves and the one they are considering marrying.
We know that within religious culture there is vast disagreement as to what the Bible says or doesn’t say about homosexuality or transsexuality. Due to these diverse perspectives we believe a person should also have the freedom to believe and to follow their religious convictions in their actions and sexual relationships. However, we do not believe that a person’s sexual orientation can be changed through counseling, conversion therapy, Reparative Therapy or religious practices such as deliverance, or exorcism.
We believe that messages that communicate that someone’s sexual orientation can be changed through such processes or that one’s orientation should attempt to be changed to conform to society or religious belief can be tremendously harmful. At times these messages or practices can even be toxic to a person’s sense of self and psychological well being.
It is also our experience that when a person marries someone with a different sexual orientation (“Mixed Orientation Marriage”) that this marriage is destined to have great complications including the probability of divorce in time. We advise an honest evaluation of the potential effects prior to making the decision to enter into a mixed orientation marriage.
We stand against counseling practices aimed at changing one’s sexual orientation. It is our conviction that it is far better to provide support, counsel, and mentors to help people accept their sexual orientation as it is. It is within these supportive actions and relationships that we believe a person can far better make healthy and appropriate decisions as to their sexual practice and relationships.
Psychological problems, addictions, unhealthy relationships and the potential for suicidal ideations and actions can come as a result of coercion to change, or condemnation for individuals whose sexual orientations are different from the hetero-normative. When youth struggle with accepting their homosexuality or transsexualism and they do not have healthy and supportive mentoring, this can delay their emotional and sexual development causing immature, harmful and potentially damaging consequences.
I have personally been negatively impacted and I’ve experienced the consequences brought about by sexual conversion therapy. I also have led hundreds of men and women through sexual conversion therapy over a period of two decades. I’ve seen the harm and painful outcome of this inappropriate attempt to alter or change a person’s sexual orientation or identity.
We believe that sexual conversion therapy should be considered harmful, destructive, and should be banned as the toxic practice that it is.
John J. Smid, Executive Director
Board of Directors, Grace Rivers Ministry
We support of the Born Perfect campaign. NCLR (National Center for Lesbian Rights) has launched #BornPerfect: The Campaign to End Conversion Therapy in the next five years by passing laws across the country to protect LGBT kids, fighting in courtrooms to ensure their safety, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by these dangerous practices.
Monday, June 9th, 2014
Having spent 22 years of my life working with counselors, leaders, and clients who have been subjected to “Reparative Therapy”, as well as having utilized forms of it in counseling individuals and being subjected to this myself, I think this is inexcusable for a government platform to include this in their agenda.
Reparative Therapy is a specific model of treatment that is based on theories that it is the family system. parental relationships and childhood damage that causes one to become homosexual. This model teaches that with repentance, healing damaged childhood abuse and realigning one’s social experiences to their birth gender norms, there will be a change in the sexual orientation. There has not been any evidence that this model of therapy has changed anyones sexual orientation. The therapy causes damage to the client as well as never ending guilt for parents and family members as they live underneath the idea that they have caused their child to “suffer” from homosexuality.
There is NO treatment available that provides healing or wholeness from homosexuality. This is deceptive and gives false hope for people who are at their lowest point of hopelessness and despair. Every ExGay leader I’ve known clearly knows they have never seen a person’s orientation change from gay to straight. It is akin to a doctor saying he can cure illness for which there has never been a proven cure and taking in susceptible and naive people to their care while knowing they will never cure their illness.
There are now state laws enacted that have made Reparative Therapy illegal to practice on minors due to the evidence there is harm done by utilizing this inappropriate therapeutic model.
There is, however, hope for gay people to come to accept themselves as they are and to shed the shame of believing that because they are gay, they are broken goods and damaged people. it is only within these realities that gay people find wholeness and healthy relationships. Any message that says they need healing and that they are not whole people is deceptive and harmful. This only exacerbates their sense of being created damaged and broken and the outcome can often be negative choices based on an unhealthy sense of being.
Understand that my statement is not addressing how one choses to live within their sexuality. This is an entirely different matter regarding ones sexual and relational choices. Each individual must have the freedom to make those choices for themselves based on a healthy acceptance of their innate sexual orientation and not be subjected to false theories of change.
Their statement also refers to “healing and wholeness from their homosexual lifestyle.” This statement is extremely offensive to people who are gay. What is the homosexual lifestyle? Ironically, no one can effectively define what that means. There are gay people who experience many diverse lifestyles, careers, hobbies, ministries. Gay people are married, single and have families. Vegans, meat eaters, and many of us enjoy ice cream as often as we can have it!
To say there there is healing and wholeness offered for gay people who are lawyers, doctors, dentists, grocery store clerks, is ridiculous! There are no common lifestyles among gay people any more than there are common lifestyles among heterosexual people.
For a GOP platform to make a statement like they have made here is offensive, minimizing of the lives of all gay people as well as those who love them.
Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014
On a friend’s FaceBook page I saw this comment written by a man in response to an article by Albert Mohler, (There Is No ‘Third Way’ — Southern Baptists Face a Moment of Decision (and so will you) This is a recent article about the Southern Baptists moving into another discussion about homosexuality.
“No decision to be made for me. I hold to the Biblical teachings that Homosexuality is an Abomination before God. No debate, no compromise, no double thinking, it’s just plain wrong and will never be accepted by my Value System no matter what any Church may say. They can turn their backs on the Word of God, but I never will!”
One thing that I’ve seen and find challenging is that there are so many diverse interpretations of what the bible says, and doesn’t say about homosexuality. There are now many, many books in circulation that seem to find passion, and yet difference in the way we look at homosexuality. Well-studied and wise men and women are changing their opinions based on further research and understanding.
This man has said, “I hold to biblical teachings on homosexuality”. Honestly, there are no biblical teachings on homosexual relationships, as we know them today, committed and faithful marriages. They just didn’t exist in the times when the bible was written. Rather there are biblical reflections on man/boy slavery, on temple shrine prostitution that are clearly revealing the culture of the day. But nothing specific that reflects our current culture regarding this very challenging and difficult issue.
To say one is unwavering, says one is not open to new understanding, or new awareness. Another statement he has made is that “they” have turned their backs on the word of God. I don’t see it this way at all! Many churches who have changed their positions on things throughout the years have deeply valued the word of God; therefore have continued to seek God’s wisdom and understanding. As they have done this, some find their perceptions have changed.
I would fear holding so fast to something that I am unwilling to continue to look deeper and wider into what it says and doesn’t say. To say one would be unwilling to change would mean slaves would still be considered biblical and women would still be seen as property because of the way that culture saw those issues at the time these words were written. Thankfully, there have been leaders of the faith who have been willing to change – going against the grain of the culture to their own demise. If we cannot change, then we don’t allow the Holy Spirit of God to move us closer to being like Christ and to understand further His heart for mankind.
This comment is an example of how fundamentalism is pushing people away from churches that are staid, unwilling to say “let’s look at this again” and truly open their hearts to God’s heart. Thankfully, there are communities of faith that are growing, searching, and open to the changing dynamics we are facing today.
The third way is to remain open to change, as scary as this is to do. The third way is to first consider loving God, loving each other as we love ourselves. The third way brings transformation, life, growth, depth of faith and community.