‘Changing attitudes’ – why not changing desires?

Apr 7, 2015 by

By Andrew Symes, Anglican Mainstream,

from Church of England Newspaper.

Sally waved to her husband and two children as they drove off for the normal convenient routine of school run on the way to work. She had time to reflect as she cleared up and got ready for the shift at the office, which began at 10. Life was going well: a lovely family, enough money (if they were careful), and the new church plant they had started going to. Sally and Richard both felt they were growing in their faith, and the kids enjoyed the well-organised activities.

But there was a problem. Maybe it was a test? Twenty years earlier Sally had come to faith amid the usual turbulent teenage issues: fighting with her parents, anxious about her appearance, stressed about exams, and of course a chaotic love life, most of it in her head; brief relationships with boys – and girls. For a short time she had identified as gay – her parents had been surprisingly tolerant about that. As long as it didn’t affect her studies, they had said.

But this had changed as she made a commitment to Christ early on at University, to put aside what she knew to be sin, and to live in the freedom of the Gospel. She had met Richard at the CU and they had married a couple of years after graduation. Richard knew about her same-sex attraction, and it fact it diminished almost entirely in the first years of marriage and the onset of motherhood.

What Richard didn’t know was that it was now back.

He hadn’t done anything wrong, but Sally now had feelings for a female colleague at work, something that she knew was adulterous, immoral and potentially destructive. What was the matter with her? Prayer did not reduce the desire. Could someone else help her?

Sally knew about exclusively same-sex attracted Christians in Britain who insisted on celibacy, and she had tremendous admiration for them. From her reading of the Bible and her own experience, she disagreed with those who argued that gay relationships were OK for Christians. On the internet she had found out about support groups in the USA for people who had turned away from gay desires, identity and lifestyle. Many of them shared a common experience: they had not been able to leave on their own, but had been helped by counselling and therapy.

But there was also a cost. A furious backlash from LGBT activists had led to harassment of ex-gays and the demanding of legal prohibition of what was disparagingly called “conversion therapy”. It can cause harm, they argued, and besides, homosexuality is normal and no one should want to diminish it.

Not wanting to confide in anyone at church, Sally approached a Christian counsellor operating through a well-known network in the city. She had explained her situation: “I am in a good marriage. I love my husband. No one is pressurising me to be here. I want someone to help me explore what might have caused my same-sex attraction, to manage or even reduce it so it doesn’t trouble me”.

The response of the counsellor shocked Sally. “Well it appears you are bisexual, and I can’t help you”.

“But I don’t want to be bisexual. If I came here and said I was unhappy for any other reason, you would help me to change. Even gender reassignments are on the NHS. Why is it different with sexual orientation?”

“Well, as a member of the Institute of Faith-Based Therapists, going further would violate my accreditation with the Professional Standards Authority”.

“What? You can’t be serious?”

“It might be harmful to try to change from gay to straight.We wouldn’t try to change you from black to white”.

Sally was fortunately prepared from her research. “But my sexual orientation isn’t fixed from birth like the colour of my skin. Even the Royal College of Psychiatrists has changed its mind on this – they now admit that sexuality is fluid and has many environmental causes. People change all the time!”

The counsellor thought for a moment and said: “Maybe you’ve got internalised homophobia? You think people – even God – will love you more if you are totally straight? It’s often better to embrace who you really are”.

Fighting back the tears, Sally spoke in a low voice “as a Christian you should be helping me follow God who has already accepted me. And as a counsellor you should help me get where I want to be, not deny that my desire for change is valid”.

As she got ready for work, Sally reflected that she would have to deal with this another way. Richard would need to be in on it, and some wise folk from church. But for others who don’t have these advantages – where could they get help?


For further information see www.core-issues.org




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