Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A California bill and religious liberty

"But I hold on to the cross with all my strength--one must cling to it like a kitten hanging on to a plank when it falls into the sea." The Wreath, Sigrid Undset

The Sacramento Bee has published an article, “Sacramento bill would ban gay teen ‘conversion’ therapy,” which states:
State lawmakers have approved a bill that would establish a first-of-its-kind ban on a controversial form of psychotherapy aimed at making gay teenagers straight.

The California Assembly on Tuesday approved the high-profile bill on a 52-22 vote after a heated debate, with many Republicans opposed. The bill returns to the Senate for a final vote.
The bill which is SB1172 goes to the Senate next. Within the bill is this stipulation:
865.2. Any sexual orientation change efforts attempted on a patient under 18 years of age by a mental health provider shall be considered unprofessional conduct and shall subject a mental health provider to discipline by the licensing entity for that mental health provider.
There are definitions of ‘conversion therapy—they can be found as a list of analyses with the latest listed on the 28th of August, under08/28/12- Senate Floor AnalysesThe definition of conversion therapy as it is aimed at mental health providers’ states:
Sexual Orientation Change Therapy, sometimes called reparative therapy, conversion therapy, or reorientation therapy, is an attempt to change the sexual orientation of a person from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual. According to the APA conversion therapy is a type of psychiatric treatment “based upon the assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that a patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.”
But there is an additional definition:
Others, particularly conservative Christian transformational ministries, use the term conversion therapy to refer to the utilization of prayer, religious conversion, individual and group counseling to change a person’s sexual orientation.
The analysis does not state that prayer, religious conversion, or individual and group counseling are different or outside the parameters’ of this bill. There is seemingly no provision for a Christian counselor, parent or child to insist that their religious rights are being threatened with this bill. But they are!

This is where an immoral society seeking supposed rights runs up against religious liberty. Instead of carefulness, that is, sorting out the complexity of the different definitions, is the seeming insistence that all such activity is harmful and a serious threat to individuals in the LGBT community.

With breathtaking quickness orthodox Christians are being pressed into very trying circumstances. Karl Barth, writing about the Church and theology in the totalitarian state, toward the end of his little booklet, Theological Existence To-day reminds the reader that “the Word of God abideth forever.” He goes on to point out that even in the totalitarian state the truths of the faith are needed, in fact, he calls them the “natural frontiers of everything.” And he writes:
For even in this “total state” the nation always lives by the Word of God, the content of which is “forgiveness of sins, resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.” … The church must be allowed to be true to her proper pragmatic function, and be willing to be true. (Italics the author’s)
Barth is speaking of the proclamation of the gospel to the people of a compromised and totalitarian state. All sinners, all of us, whether it is the sin of a homosexual lifestyle or the sin of greed and arrogance, must hear the word of God proclaimed over our lives no matter the laws of a total state—no matter the consequences. Christ’s cross and forgiveness are the unexpected balm in the midst of our sick society.


Anonymous said...

Mrs. Larson, this is a matter of health and prevention of abuse by quacks. No reputable medical group agrees that such so called therapy works, and there is a lot of evidence of the damage it can do.

If one (sadly) still believes that religious instruction can change someone, and that person is an adult, then certainly that is accepable, but this law and others in other states now being proposed, is being put into place to protect children from pseudo medicine and damage.

Does your religious inspired loathing of people like me (and no, you MAY NOT make the claim you both love and hate me. Being Gay is my identity, not actions that I do which you wrongly consider sinful) lead you to actually endorse the continuation of hurting gay and lesbian youth by such medically disprven and damagins therapy?
That is...there are just no words.

This is the first time I can say you actually...frighten me.


Anonymous said...

ahh, and yet, there are plenty of transgender therapies available in CA to prepubescent children who 'want to be' or 'feel they are' the other gender.
so we can give hormones, counseling and more to change a young person's gender, we can lobby and politicize today's values but we can't pray or counsel for faith to manage attraction under God. before long we'll be in homes not churches or in jail. thank you for naming this and pointing to God's greater grace.
~CA pastor in multi outreach ministry

Anonymous said...

This law is doing nothing more than demanding that mental health professionals in California abide by the standards provided by their own professional associations. One cannot be a licensed surgeon in the US if one believes that maladies are caused by an imbalance of bile rather than actual medical factors. One likewise cannot be considered a licensed mental health professional if one practices draconian methods to treat homosexuality as an illness when it is no longer recognized as such by the APA. This measure protects the integrity of the mental health field as a science. Mental health professionals are trained to diagnose and treat illnesses, not manipulate people into behaving any particular way that pleases you. The people who excel at that art have rightly been identified as bullies, abusers and torturers.

How you've made the leap to asserting that this is an affront to your religious liberty is rather astounding. This bill applies to mental health professionals. You are free to pray the gay away all you want. A parent is free to do the same for her child, and the child, poor thing, is free to do the same for herself. This bill does nothing more than assert that because the mental health sciences do not support the conclusion that homosexuality is a mental disorder, homosexuality cannot be treated as such by a licensed mental health professional. If you think that homosexuality is a spiritual disorder, then pray away.

Kathy Jackson
Virginia Beach, VA

Jeff Ogden said...

Thanks for posting this, Viola. Another example of the secularists redefining religious liberty. If I'm not allowed to live out my religious beliefs in my profession, if I'm only allowed to have private beliefs that make no impact on my life or those I meet, I have no "free exercise of religion". Instead I'm forced to act like a secular atheist.

Craig said...

It seems as though Gene finds the idea of Christianity be transformative problematic. It's really too bad, I thought that transformation was kind of the point.

Anonymous said...

I am very thankful that my opthamologist cannot treat my astigmatism by merely mixing mud with his spit and rubbing it in my eye. My insurance will not cover a claim for those services because they are not based on medical science. Does that mean that my opthamologist cannot pray for my eyesight? No. Does it mean that I cannot pray for my sight? No. Does it mean that my pastor cannot pray for my sight or that he or another faith healer are prohibited from offering spiritual solutions to heal my eyesight? No. All of those things remain available to me, and all of those things remain available to others to practice. They simply can't practice prayer, mud salves, exorcisms or some other form of spiritual healing as opthamology because, well, they aren't opthamology. This is no different. You cannot call yourself a practitioner of mental health science when what you are doing is not a recognized practice of the science of mental health.

Kathy, Virginia Beach

Viola Larson said...

I don't believe there will ever be a time when you will make the decisions about my emotional state. I do not hate you, although I do get a bit irritated with your constant redundancy.

Viola Larson said...

I am aware of all kinds of strange and interesting therapies used by mental health providers. What you are not acknowledging is that the main reason conversion therapy is being outlawed is because it is used as a means of changing behavior that many in secular society consider natural. And the real problem is that orthodox Christians, which are a considerable large group of people, believe LGBT sex is sinful. We believe that because we believe in the authority of Scripture. And since the definition of conversion therapy included in the documents includes prayer, religious conversion and group and individual counseling this bill becomes an attack on religious liberty. It is particularly troubling for those mental health providers who are Christians. And it is troubling for those Christian parents seeking help for children.

If you read the bill through you will see that there are no safe guards at all.

Viola Larson said...

you are exactly right.

Viola Larson said...

just to be a bit clearer- I realize that redundancy can mean loss of job as in that great movie Brassed Off, or it can mean worthless-but I wasn't saying that. I am irritated that you keep repeating yourself.

Anonymous said...

The fact that the bill addresses mental health professionals and not faith practitioners is a point that is obviously of no benefit to your cause. I understand that you need to be persecuted. I understand that you want persecution so badly as evidence that your beliefs conform to the way of the cross. I know why you want that affirmation, but this bill is not about you. It is about professional standards in a scientific field.

Your liberty to emotional and spiritual abuse others is, unfortunately, still protected.

John Stone
Chesapeake, VA

Anonymous said...

Viola, I have not been redundant. I just keep correcting your mistaken assumptions, and statements given as if they are the agreed upon teaching of the denominaiton.

when this ends, I will have no need to keep pointing them out.

As per the religious freedom argument. It does not apply when a Jehovas Witness wants to let a child bleed to death, nor should it. It does not apply (save with the occasional loopy judge getting involved) when a Christian Scientist (not Christianity or Science, as the old joke goes) wants to deny chemo that has a high chance of saving a dying child but instead demands only prayer deamnds no treatment.

And in this identical situation (yes, identical...not my opinion, the opinion of the vast majority of the medical profession) it is not appropriate to subject children to this dangerous quackery.

the three situations are the same, and in each the good of the child outweighs the religous freedom of the parent to do harm.

Mr. Ogden, if you are a Jehovas Witness member, and a physician (I have never met one who is,how could they be, since their teachings dont allow blood transfusions due to truly ignorant literal interpreation of Bible verses) your religious freedom would indeed be cutailed. rightfully so. And if you are a counselor trying to offer these 'treatments', likewise. And appropriately.

There is a long tradition of religious freedom, when it endangers kids, being curtailed appropriately.

Mr. Craig, people do need transformation. But, please remember, they need to be transformed from sinful to not sinful. 1) being gay is not a sin. If it were, I would agree with you. If you are Presbyterian, as I am, you are a member of a church that ordains GLBT people and blesses our unions. Being gay is not a sinful thing in of it self anymore than being heterosexual is. Aside from that, we can agree.

2) this is a medical issue. These kids need acceptance and love, not therapy that wont work, cannot work, and can do real damage, some of which I have had to help clean up with indivduals I know. All of whom are livid with Mr. Chambers of Exodus for admiting that conversion therapy just does not work after the have spent years of suffering enduring it. If someone wants to try to "pray away the gay", thats sad, yet thats their religious right. If they want to pretend it is a mental health problem that needs a cure, no. No. As with the other examples given above, the health of the child comes first, ahead of relgious conviction.


Viola Larson said...

Just about everything you are writing falls on whether same gender sex is sin or not. And you cannot prove that it isn't because the PCUSA is ordaining those who practice it. Neither can you prove it by how many 'scholars' in the PCUSA agree with you. Scripture is the only revelation and authority for christians, PCUSA or not.

Craig is right that our faith is a transformative faith and Jesus does transform the sinner, as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians, "Such were some of you, but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God."

Craig said...

"If one (sadly) still believes that religious instruction can change someone,..."

Gene, statements like the above would suggest that you do not place a great deal of stock in the transformative power of Christ. I could be wrong, but your words suggest otherwise.

I must say that I am amazed that someting as simple as a vote by the PCUSA can change a behavior from sinful to not sinful. That's quite a lot of power for a dwindling denomination.

As far as this being a medical issue or not, I thought we lived in a country where we were still allowed a measure of choice in what treatments we would like to engage in. While I don't necessarily agree with the choices some folks make, I certainly agree that they have the right to make the choice and must then deal with the outcome.

I realize that you have a great deal of worth wrapped up in your identity as a homosexual, and that you further embrace any one who affirms your condition. However, I believe that even within the confines of the PCUSA it is still permissable to believe that the correct interpretation of scripture is that sex between people of the same gender is sinful. I cannot imagine the champions of the scruple refusin to offer that same loophole to those with whom they disagree.

Anonymous said...

I too do not understand how you can suppose that this bill offers an affront to your religious liberties. The bill merely requires that those practicing a particular medical discipline do so under the established guidelines of that discipline's professional association. It seems like that is simple common sense.

Why not take some advantage from that? If you believe that homosexuality is a spiritual disorder or that same-gender sex is a sin that needs to be corrected, then why not applaud the opportunity to address a spiritual ill through a spiritual means? Why would you have ever wanted to seek a mental health professional for anything that you considered a spiritual issue in the first place? You don't see a psychologist for other issues of faith like doubt or discipleship. Those are things you would immediately define as the domain of your pastor or other spiritual advisor. What makes this so different?

The plain fact is that modern science neither supports defining homosexuality as a disorder nor treating it as such. You therefore cannot be considered a practitioner of that science if you operate outside the bounds of the discipline. If you continue to think that your religion convicts homosexuality as a spiritual disorder or a sin, then you are well free to pursue spiritual means to address that spiritual ill. You just can't call what you are doing medical science.

Charles Stanley
Suffolk, VA

Anonymous said...

Craig, you can call "conversion therapy" a medical practice when the New Orleans Voodoo queens can bill their services to an insurance company as well. It's not science, and to pretend that it is science is simply fraud.

Furthermore, claiming that something doesn't fall into the realm of medical science does not restrict your access to it. You are correct in stating that you should have a choice in how you seek treatment for yourself. The fact that you cannot seek conversion therapy from a licensed mental health professional does not mean that you are unable to seek it elsewhere. You remain free to seek what you consider to be a spiritual remedy from a spiritual source.

I am in agreement that you seem to be overburdening yourselves with the need to be persecuted. Demanding that mental health professionals operate within the science of their discipline does not prohibit you from engaging your religious freedom any more than demanding that doctors practice medicine prohibits anyone else from praying for an illness. These laws do no more than maintain the integrity of a professional discipline. They in no way impact the integrity of your religious convictions.

Charles Stanley
Suffolk, VA

Viola Larson said...

The affront is that if a parent takes their child to a Christian mental health provider and the mental health provider prays with and counsels the young person about their same gender sexual interest they could lose their license. I am surprised that you, Charles, Kathy and John, do not realize this. You seem to believe that faith is simply a private matter and that it has nothing to do with how we live our lives in the world.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe that faith is a private matter at all. I believe that matters of faith should be attended to by other faith practitioners and that we should not expect other professionals to distribute what they are not designated to provide. Licensed mental health professionals are bound by their license to provide mental health care, not faith healing. If that is what you seek, then don't go to a licensed professional. Instead seek treatment from a pastoral counselor or other faith practitioner. It's just that simple. You've lost nothing, and any mental health professional who feels strongly that conversion therapy is a ministry they are called to undertake is welcome to pursue it, but as a ministry, not a medical profession.

Charles Stanley
Suffolk, VA

Craig said...

Mr. Stanley,

Since I did not actually call "conversion therapy" a medical practice, I fail to see your point. Having had some experience with actual voodoo practices, I would say that those who practice certainly feel it to have medicinal properties. It also has a number of other destructive properties, but man would argue that it has no medicinal properties at all.

As to your choice "srgument" if a licensed practicioner of some branch or another wants to provide said therapy, and there are patients who engage those theraputic services, why should some outside agency restrict what is essentially a private contract between two parties. You and I may agree on the effecacy of the therapy, but that doesn't seem enough reason to ban whomever wishes to engage in it.

Again, I appreciate your need to psychoanalyze those with whom you disagree, but to presume that I am somehow feeling persecuted is really quite a stretch for this incredibly limited format. Please allow me to reassure you that I do not feel persecuted in any way. There are numerous examples of people around the world who actually are persucuted for their Christianity. For me to equate my opinions on various topics that I disagree with, to those who actually suffer is much more presumptious than I am comfortable being. I realize that it is easy to make these types of assumptions to pigeonhole or marginalize those whith who you disagree, but I would suggest that it's not the most productive assumption to make.

Viola Larson said...

Stanley & others taking this position,

It is very clear that you are attempting, from a LGBT position and agenda, to make a difference between therapies and all aspects of faith but the issue is far more complex than you allow.

When I was a philosophy major sometimes the psychology and philosophy departments would combine to have seminars. There is a great deal of competition between those two depts. What became very clear in those seminars was that many materialists believed that much of psychology (at least therapies) was totally fake and not at all scientific. The only acceptable viewpoint was Skinner’s who of course was a materialist.

Therapies are always in competition and one mental health worker tends toward one or another. When one is talking or writing of psychology or therapies, scientific can be a very loose word indeed. There is not always good empirical data for what works and what doesn’t work. We now know from physical knowledge that a lobotomy is not helpful but harmful. There have been all kinds of mistakes. But you, in your attempt to make a difference between therapies-which you conclude are scientific, and faith which is outside of scientific are being ridiculous. You have an agenda-that is one thing, but your attempt to compartmentalize everything shows that you do not necessarily know what you are talking about.

Good therapy will allow the client to talk about themselves, their fears, needs and past-this has nothing to do with science but instead with the ability of humans to pull out of themselves their own reality. Good therapy will be compassionate, interested and as we Presbyterians say about ministry imaginative-that also has little to do with scientific theory but is both humanitarian and transcendent. None of this divorces faith, prayer, counseling against same gender sex from a mental health workers position. If they are Christian, it in fact all works together. Nothing of what you are saying is helpful or makes sense.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how gay sexuality is becoming an "identity" to be protected by law in the same way that religion may not be proscribed. How long before glbt advocates declare themselves a religion? Can Christians similarly protect their practices by playing the identity card? I am a Christian, therefore I and my congregation must be allowed to assist teenagers in their healing from a sinful sexual identity.

Craig said...


First, I apologize for leaving out my city and state.

Second, is it possible to clarify something you posted on earlier via e mail?


Craig N.
Twin Cities MN

Anonymous said...

Viola...thank you for your thoughtful blog. I have never felt the need to jump into the fray. But today's discussion changed that.

I find it fascinating that Gene, Kathy and Charles all argue basically from the assumption that homosexuality is immutable - which it is not. It is only by holding an assumption of immutability that one can even begin to entertain an argument that Sexual Orientation Change Therapy does not work. No study, twin or otherwise, has found a gene that determines homosexuality. In fact most recent studies, including a meta-analysis of twin studies has suggested just the opposite.

Fundamentally, homosexuality, as well as bisexual and transgender sexual identity is mutable and is more than likely a result of complex cognitive interactions, both conscious and nonconscious, with one's nature and nurturing. At some level, again conscious, but more than likely nonconscious, homosexuality is a volitional act. And to deny an individual the opportunity to seek psychological or psychiatric therapy to change sexual behavior is itself, nonscientific, ideologically driven and basically, quackery.

The California bill, if it is passed while not addressing pastoral counseling per se, could easily migrate into the pastor's study and the Christian counseling center. It is a legitimate caution to be raised regarding potential restriction of religious liberty.

Anonymous said...

oops...sorry I left off my name and state on the most recent post.

Charles F.

Viola Larson said...

Yes, if you comment on a posting that is past 14 days the comment will come to me and if I approve I can then publish it. If it isn't yet 14 days it should automatically publish.

Viola Larson said...

Charles F.,
Thank you that information and your thoughts were very helpful.

Anonymous said...

Craig, I am not a literalist. If I was, I would not recognize women as elders (an arguemtn I have had with many a fundamentalist relative), I would believe in 6 day creationism, I would stone disobedient children, I would not even eat with half the people I work with, and I would believe that Methusala lived to be 969 years old.

Same applies to someone ceasing to be GLBT.

Viola, I will just point out that while you say I cannot prove being gay is not a sin, nor can you say it is. Both sides in this debate in our shared church home use the Bible to make our case. And much like issues varrying from womens ordination to (oddly) drinking, Christians do not speak with one voice on this issue.

But the denomination is certainly making it's collective voice heard on the issue.

In any case, on the issue of childrens mental health, my earlier comparisons to Christian Scientists and Jehovahs Witnesses is apt, and stands. When religion can lead to damage of a childs health, the law is pretty clear and has ample precedent.


Anonymous said...

One last thing...

Craig, I do not suffer from a "condition".

Unbelievable...telling, but unbelievable.


Viola Larson said...

I qualified my statement by saying that neither PCUSA scholars nor the vote of the denomination made same gender sex okay. I said the Bible had the authority to do so. You misconstrued what I said. The Bible in both the Old Testament and the New says that same gender sex is a sin. You cannot change that. I already wrote about how that is different than women in ministry and you ignored what I wrote and did not respond to it. That is your problem not mine.

Viola Larson said...

That last comment of mine was to Gene.

L. Lee said...

There is another side to this when cultural mores and
Counselors accept and act as if this "homosexual orientation" cannot be changed. Twenty years ago, I remember reading an article about the cause of suicide amount the gay community. While some were saying that t his increase was due to the fact that gays could not " come out" and be accepted, this article said that the increase may be due to the fact that there was a movement to proclaim that one could not change. That meant that troubled youth, working on their identity at an impressionable time in their development, were with out hope. People seek counseloring because they are
troubled, but taking one point of view.....that there is not hope of change or reason to change for those who want help changing.....
may be the cause for greater anxiety and hopelessness.

Parents should be aware of how important it is to stay connected to their kids in this growing up process.

Thanks Viola,

L. Lee.

Craig said...


Perhaps I wasn't clear in my earlier comment. I did not mean to imply that you were suffering a condition in any medical sense, I was using the term condition to describe what you seem to consider your state of being. I hope this clarifies your confusion.

You do seem to be responding to someone else in many of your other comments. It is quite obvious that you are not a literalist. Certainly not as regards the Bible. My confusion arises since I did not suggest that you were.

I did express awe in the power of the PCUSA's ability to determine what is and is not sin. I rather thought that might be God's prerogative, not a dwindling denomination. It seems as though I am wrong. It also seems as though you are not willing to give those on the other side the same grace your side had been demanding for several years. Yes, there has been a vote. There may be others. For quite some time those on the pro-gay side of the PCUSA have ignored and defied the polity as it existed prior to the last GA. Will your side now insist on a strict reading of the law? I suspect there will be little room for those who don't toe the line in your PCUSA. Sad, really.

Anonymous said...

No Viola, I responded by stating how it is EXACTLY the same issue as women in ministry. Exactly, and how the vast majority of the world church, which you seem to value for it's opinion on GLBT issues, would agree with me.

I made several references to my PCA associate, and how he pointed out the same "ignore the exact quotes you do not like to get to the greater message" (his terms) approach to the issues was the hallmark of liberal protestantism, and how hilarious he correctly finds it that the same approach to GLBT people in ministry is fought by some conservative women in the PCUSA.

I have, repeatedly, pointed this out and responded to your point, and the irony of your position as a female elder having fought against GLBT ordination.

You quoted Calvin to me on GLBT issues.

I quoted Calvin to you on Womens ordination, remember?

You make reference to the scripture on GLBT people.

I point out that our theologians use the same scriptures messages of love and acceptance to point to a God whom we now see as more loving and gracious than we had earlier though God to be...on this issue...on womens issues...on many issues.

And, I point out, in response to specific passages (like the ones that would prevent us BOTH from being ordained) that the denomination, among many others, approaches scripture in the manner I described above, looking for the greater message of Gods love, and realizing that, as the Bible is God inspired but "nevertheless the words of men" (confession of 67), we must work to overcome the prejudices and errors in it...

such as the ones that would prevent womens ordination...
such as the ones that would prevent GLBT ordination...

Same issues...
and yes...several times, I have addressed your arguement that the are different issues..

I have not ignored your arguement.
I just pointed out that you are wrong, and that people from the liberal and moderate parts of the PCUSA to conservatives in the PCA would agree with me.


Anonymous said...

Craig, the PCUSA, as it happens, is NOT acting alone on this.
Evangelical Lutheran Church, Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ, and others are with us..and even if they were not, this is, from usury to slavery, not the first time that what was once considered sin, ceased to be.

Give it time....and read Mr. Haberers' article "crest of the hill" and some Barna research. Church historans (looong view) can tell you it's nothing less than amazing how what we view as sinful has changed over time, even with (not ignored to the point of aversion) biblical quotes being quite specific on it. On this issue, we are just earlier in the process.


Viola Larson said...

You are still ignoring my argument-you are simply saying I am wrong without addressing the issue that women are called to ministry in the Bible which must be reconciled with those places where it seems that they are not, while there is no text in the Bible which calls practicing LGBT persons to ministry. Where in the Bible does it say that unrepentant LGBT people may be ordained or be in ministry?

And this, the Confession of 67 does not in any way state that “we must work to overcome the prejudices and errors” in the Bible.

I will not answer these anymore, unless you respond to what I write- if you put up the same thing again I will delete it because you are wasting my time.

Craig said...


You keep repeating yourself as though that is an argument. the fact remains that the PCUSA or the ECLA or the name your denominations here does not determine which behavior is sinful. They have offered an opinion, yet it is still God's prerogative to determine what is sin. You seem to be suggesting that this (these) votes somehow carry some significance to God. Given how much stock you put in votes, I can't help but wonder if you agreed that the behavior in question was sinful when the vote went against you. I can't help but wonder if you'll meekly submit if the vote goes against you at some future date. I suspect I know, and I suspect that the liberal double standard will be alive and well in the PCUSA.

Anonymous said...

Viola, there is a very clear, legal distinction between the work that a licensed mental health professional does, (and the liability/accountability she carries), and the work that any counselor, therapist, minister, etc. might engage. It is the same distinction that we make between someone who is licensed to practice medicine and someone who offers advice on homeopathic remedies or massage therapy. That distinction is not necessarily a disparagement of the non- or quasi-scientific practices. In fact, for some they can be quite useful. This distinction is in kind, and your bill only applies to the area of the licensed mental health professional, those working in the science of mental health and not the art of faith healing or spiritual counsel. You are all completely free to seek anti-gay therapy from those equipped to pursue a faith-based approach, even those who might blend that approach with research and methods from the mental health world. You are simply barred from any longer pretending that conversion therapy is a science practiced by licensed mental health professionals.

Your religious liberties are simply not at risk. You are free to believe that homosexuality is a sin. You are free to combat homosexual behavior in others. You are free to lobby your denomination with your biblical and theological arguments against homosexuality. Not even I have asked you to stop doing any of those things. This is a simple matter of licensed professionals working within the definitions set by their own professional organization. If you disagree with that definition, fine. Instead seek help from a group of professionals who share your opinions. There are obviously plenty of folks in agreement with you who would be happy to join you in your charge.

Charles Stanley
Suffolk, VA

Anonymous said...

Sorry Viola...whether you like it or not, both the main body of our own church, and even the conservatives in other churches like the PCA point out I am right.

You ask for verses backing up my argument. Again, as I said, if we are going to quote verses, the vast majority of the church (universal) would say that there are no verses that negate the ones that PLAINLY state women cannot teach and should be silent. I follow the same argument for both womens and GLBT ordination.

There is an article by Rev. Al Mohler you might find interesting...Go to his blog AlbertMohler.com. Search for

'Women Preachers, Divorce, and a Gay Bishop-Whats the Link?' Tuesday, August 5, 2003

The article makes the arguement better than I can. I dont agree with Dr. Mohler on his exclusion of women, but, the man is sharp and an astute observer, and his argument is solid. Utterly so.

From the article:

"the author gave me the opportunity to deny Rev. Russels linkage of these two issues (womens ordination and GLBT ordination)but I had no intention of denying this link. As a matter of fact, this linkage is about the only argument upon which honest conservatives and liberals can agree. It comes down to this: The arguements used in support of the ordination of women require the dismissal or "reinterpretation" of specific Biblical texts which disallow women in the teaching office. The same is true for the ordination of divorced persons - and of homosexuals (sic).

"I am not accusing all proponants of womens ordination of supporting the ordination of homosexuals (sic) ButI am insisting that the basic hermeneutical approach (the method of interpreting scriptures) behind these arguments has a common core; a relativizing of prohibitive biblical texts in the name of liberation. Whether of women, of divorced persons, or of homosexuals (sic).

He makes the case rather well. Better than I could. And on the floor of the majority of the 170 presbyteries, I am told this was part of the arguement that won the day there also. A good thing.

Craig, I turned down the offer to be ordained as elder twice before the GA, moved by the Spirit, after study and education, voted to change the ordination standards to be inclusive. While I respect those who say a bad law is not enforcable, I myself disgree.


Viola Larson said...

You are still putting people in boxes and not really making good sense. I know people who are both Christians and professional licensed mental health workers. If parents brought young people to them or if young people came to them with a request for help to overcome same sex attraction this bill would keep them from providing professional help. That would be a violation of their religious freedom. We are not talking here about homeopathic remedies or massage therapy but about professionals. Also this bill takes away the freedom of both parents and young people to ask for that kind of help.
But let us go further then that. You surely read both the definitions that the Senate gave to conversion therapy. The last one I quoted was this, “Others, particularly conservative Christian transformational ministries, use the term conversion therapy to refer to the utilization of prayer, religious conversion, individual and group counseling to change a person’s sexual orientation.” You must know that often Christian transformational ministries” do use licensed professionals. So in reality this law would also curtail such ministries. This is a loss of religious freedom.

Viola Larson said...

It cannot be both ways, proper biblical exegesis requires that troubling Scripture be reconciled or answered using Scripture. Otherwise there is contradiction, but it is the word of God.

It seems to me that you have little excuse for holding on to your same gender attraction if you want to use the very conservative view that women not be in ministry. The solution then is to either deny the whole word of God throwing aside any semblance of true Christianity or throw all aside and cry out for forgiveness because of your disobedience. It is really you that are in the hard spot.

Myself, I do not deny that it is God's word I simply reconcile the verses which hold up women in ministry with those which seem not to. But as I have stated already, there are no Scripture texts which affirm same sex attraction.

May you seek the transformation of Christ in obedience to the word of God.

Anonymous said...

This is a weird discussion. The law clearly stipulates the penalty for non compliance:

it "shall subject a mental health provider to discipline by the licensing entity for that mental health provider."

I wonder what that discipline would be if the licensing entity were a religious organization devoted to brainwashing gays and lesbians into becoming heterosexuals?

Chas Jay said...

Gene, you state that this is a matter of health. The CDC reports that about 50,000 new infection rate of HIV. Gay and bisexual men remain the population most heavily affected by HIV in the United States. CDC estimates MSM represent approximately 2% of the US population, but accounted for more than 50% of all new HIV infections annually from 2006 to 2009 –56% in 2006 (27,000), 58% in 2007 (32,300), 56% in 2008 (26,900) and 61% (29,300) in 2009.

This looks like a lot of damage done. Do you want the government to punish all who promote the behavior that does this great damage?

Anonymous said...

Chas, I have no desire to see conservative politicians who work to prevent sex ed punished. they need education, not punishment. I was lucky. One of my teachers broke the rules and talked about safe sex, and I was prepared to ensure I avoided the disease. Also, I found, very young, a PCUSA church that honored my relationship with my husband, and under that influence, I became happy and monogomous.

So, no, I neither want the conservative lawmakers, or the irresponsible religious conservatives who did their best to prevent AIDS education to be punished, even though without them, our rates of HIV infection among gay men here int he US would otherwise probably be as low as in northern Europe where we did not have to face this ignorance enforced by religious bigotry.


Craig said...


I'm not sure that I should continue to respond to you. You seem to be constantly addressing issues that I am not raising. As I hope you see thins can be a little frustrating. The fact that you chose not to be ordained has no bearing on the fact that those on your side were quite content to flout the rules in place it the time. I am extremely confident that your side will be incredibly zealous in enforcing the current rules.

Anonymous said...

Craig, you asked about me personally, or so I thought. I responded with my personal answer.

As per the current rules, they are just, unlike the earlier ones. So, yes, I do hope so.

Viola, I don't agree with the flawed conservative view that women should now preach. I think you know that, and thus I know why you wrote what you did as a form of self defense.

I merely pointed out, corrrectly, that scholars from as far left as Rogers in the PCUSA to the President of the Flagship SBC seminary correctly observe that the exact process you used (appropriately)to justify your ordination as woman, can be used (appropriately) to ordain me as a Gay person. And was.

AND, I will point out that the same spectrum of scholars, from left to far right, will look at the arguement where you parse out the "women must be silent" verses and pro womens ordination verses, as opposed to the anti gay and inclusive verses arguement as specious. As Dr. Mohler pointed out, it's the same theological approach.

You want it both ways.

Verses on Gods love, the inclusive nature of that love, and the concept of the priesthood of all believers are the verses that Presbyterian theologians have used to correctly make the case for GLBT ordination.

You don't LIKE it, but as even conservative Southern Baptists AND liberal Presbyterian Professors point out, it's the same process as lead to womens ordination, and used properly, justifies not only GLBT ordination of those God calls, but ordination of women called by God also.

It is not either or, it's both or neither, and pretty much everyone but a few conservative women who want it both ways see this.

If you are going to demand we quote specific verses to relating to defending GLBT ordination, well, I will point out that the world church, which you so often refer to, says you don't have ANY on your side, and misintepret the ones you see as supporting you either. They are wrong there...and you are wrong in your approach also.

Viola, I got an email from the conservative southern Baptist who read here and sent me the link to the article I referenced from Dr. Mohler. "When you show her that and point out that both sides see that both ordination issues are the same and quote the president of a major seminary I bet she just says 'your lost and wrong and I wish you the best'. I mean, hey, what else can she say at that point when you show her that the left and my side (he is a Baptist) see the obvious, and that it don't back her up"

Nah, I said. She will come up with better than that.
Seems I owe my friend a coke.

Once again, as conservatives from Dr. Mohler of the Southern Baptists to the progressives of our own denomination point out,the SAME approach that lead to womens ordination correctly can be used (and has been) to justify GLBT ordination. It is not either or, it's both or neither. And when people looking at the issue see conservative women who benefited from using the same hermeunitical approach that lead to their own ordination fighting against GLBT ordination, they see the irony, and the hypocricy of it.

In the end, that helps the cause of GLBT ordination, for the logic flows well between the justification for them both.

Oh, and I never did, or will, acknowledge that the Bible says being gay is sinful. As we all know, the Bible is inspired by God, but nevertheless written by men and prone to error. On this topic...just as where it says women should be silent in Church.


Viola Larson said...

This, “Verses on Gods love, the inclusive nature of that love, and the concept of the priesthood of all believers are the verses that Presbyterian theologians have used to correctly make the case for GLBT ordination,” is what theologians and others have used, but they are not the verses themselves. And the ideas do not work.

For instance, God’s love is found in Jesus with a requirement that he be trusted and Lord. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” And that word ‘believes’ has the quality of total trust, meaning all that is in our lives we lay on Him giving up our own selfish desires. It is Christ’s work in us-but we do and must die to self. God’s love is constant but it has boundaries—it isn’t the kind of inclusion where nothing matters—it isn’t universalism and it doesn’t encourage non-repentance.

The concept of the priesthood of believers has nothing to do with ordination. Or with marriage. Instead it implies that joined to Christ, which we are, we with Jesus can come before the Father without fear. Since we have been purified by his blood, in Christ we can intercede for brothers and sisters.

“Therefore brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he inaugurated for us through the veil that is, His flesh, and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. “ (Hebrews 10:19-22) that is part of our priesthood in our union with Christ-but as you see it has nothing to do with ordination.

You need to listen to Scripture not false teachers.

Chas Jay said...

Gene, you play the victim card so well but you are no victim. You blame conservatives for the continued spread of HIV, new strains of syphillis and various other diseases. There isn't a lack of education that is spreading disease. The numbers are highest in the most liberal cities of New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. It the behavior within the group that you claim is your identity. Gay bars, sex clubs, bathhouses, the various white, red, blue and black parties, Folsom Street, Decadence and the very worst - AIDS fundraising parties. That is where many well educated men are doing things that you and I know about. You are lying to yourself by blaming others for what is the truth.
Also, there is no such thing as safe sex and that is something quacks have told you.
John 8:31-32. To the Jews who believed Him, Jesus said "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free."

Viola Larson said...

I would like the conversation on this thread to return to the topic I wrote about.

Chas Jay said...

Viola, this will tie it together.
As Gene and others push for the government to intrude into the mental health areas under the guise of "protecting" we are about to have Obamacare come into full being. We've already seen people like Mayor Bloomberg creating laws to regulate the amount of soft drink you can purchase, salt intake, and even breastfeeding.
The authoritarian government that Gene supports that takes away the freedom to seek counseling as you choose, is the very authoritarian government that is going in the very near future the activities of gay men. There are people in government that are tired of money being spent on HIV/AIDS that is being wasted because the spread of it can easily be stopped and they are going to stop the behavior because it is a health issue that must be carried through for the protection of everyone.

We are free to follow Jesus. He doesn't make us but he tells us that we all have a master we serve but we all will eventually bow to God. The rich heritage of our faith in which our nation was founded up reflects the free will that God gave us, were we are responsible for our own lives. When we stand before God, we are held accountable for our actions and what we did in our lives. We stand and we cannot blame anyone else for what we did.
I think of Moses telling Pharaoh that he will decree the tenth plague. Pharaoh, without thinking of any consequences to what he decrees, believing he is a god that makes such decisions, called for the death of his own and every Egytians first born son. The LGBT, in their blind hatred for God's truth, thinking that our rights come from government instead of God our creator, are decreeing tyrannical authority over their own lives yet do not realize it.

Viola Larson said...

I don't really feel that what you are writing about brings the conversation back to the topic. But about your thoughts you reminded me of an edition of Christianity Today published in 1987. If I remember correctly it was entitled, "Christians in Plague time." Here is a link to the best connection I could find.

Viola Larson said...

It just isn't going but the link is the right one

Anonymous said...

viola, here is the take home message

1) the approach taken to scripture that allows you to be ordained, also allows for me to be ordained.
Liberals on the far left admit this
Conservatives like Dr. Mohler on the far right admit it.

I can understand why you can't with out thinking of the full ramifications.

2) a lot of things we used to think of as sinful, we now don't. Being gay is now among that list. Despite your desperate attempts to pretend that a) this is not the case, and to b) to use verbatum verse quotes to make you case...an attempt I rightly liken to the approach to scripture that would prevent your own ordination and DOES in the VAST majority of the church. The church was wrong about women for 1850 years. Most of it, here and especially abroad, still is, but progess is being made. Same as with this issue

3) when religious liberty goes againts childrens mental health, the kids mental health wins. There is ample legal precedent for this. Which, I noticed, no one addressed.

4) The PCUSA has changed. It wont be changing back. Other denominations are following, as are the kids of even those who belong to still conservative churches. Haberer is right. In not to long a time, our grand kids and great grand kids will look back at this the way we look at our grandparents in the south who still sometimes quietly support racism. We love them, but there is embarassment and shame at the bigotry. When I had mentioned this in the past, you just deigned me insulting. I am glad Haberer brought it up.

The "false teachers" (sic) you refer to are the leaders of your own denomination Viola. They are the people who teach our pastors. They are the majority of elders you sit with who vote in Presbytery. Calling them false teachers is no better than those who said the same of these same groups when they voted to change womens ordination rules. And before you say (again, out of stubborness perhaps) that the two are not the same, when Rogers and Mohler, liberals and conservatives across the board point out that yes, they are, then yes, they are.

If you are so dedicated to the idea that GLBT inclusion is wrong, why are you still a part of a denomination which wont even deny such persons ordination, and blesses our Holy Unions at its alters?

Being gay is not an illness needing counseling. It is not a sinful thing needing healing. If you want to think it illness, the medical community disagrees. If you want to call it sinful, you will be reminded that the same literalist approach to scripture you use to come to that conclusion is used by most conservatives (wrongheadedly) to prevent people like you (women) from the eldership and pulpit.

I remind this to you because you are far from the first conservative women whom I have pointed this out to...and most of the ones, the ones whom Dr. Mohler refers to as the honest ones, have had to admit their error. What I write to you, I do so in love with hope you might find correcton and understanding.

The logic I have pointed out has carried the day in most of our Presbyteries, and even, as Haberer has pointed out, among our conservative youth who are faithful. As many people who read here do not post, and some may be struggling, it is important they know this.


Anonymous said...

Chas...sorry. that dog dont hunt.

In places which had good sex ed, and taught about safer sex, AIDS infections rates are low...just as in such places, teen pregnancy rates are lower than in the "Bible belt". Education works.
I notice you had nothing to say about my church home, and the safety it gave me.

As per the rates being higher in cities...is that surprising? Gay kids come to Atlanta all the time. I work with them at a local Gay Youth group. The lucky ones find their way to us after being kicked out of homes for being gay (yes...this still happens folks..but a lot less rarely, thank God!) and they ALL want to leave small town life to be around other gay people. Gay people largely live in cities. Like Atlanta. A city where the black church has largely fougth tooth and nail to prevent any discussion of AIDS prevention in church, and where African Americans, by far the largest group of new infections, live in the most homophobic segment of the community, and unlike me, who was taught as a youngster how to avoid the disease, are often on the "down low", know little about safer sex, and take the disease back to the girlfriends and wives they have married to attain respectability in their community. I, sadly, know many such men.

You ARE right about some gay men living debased, partying lives. Much like..oh..much of straight America. Happily, most of us do not. Most of us are not HIV positive. And, more and more of us, like me, and my husband, live quiet lives with our families, involved in our churches which love and accept us, and enjoy the blessings of family and community and faith God offers to us all.

I hope you find that also Chas... I really do

Chas Jay said...

My heart breaks because you are willfully blind, not just to scripture but also deny the the very facts provided by the Centers for Disease in their reports. You are a lost man and I am weeping thinking you are just another described in Romans 1:28. I weep for your lostness that I see in most gay men. A lostness that I have had as well.

Chas Jay said...

that is Centers for Disease Control.

Viola Larson said...

I believe most who have read my posting are finished commenting here. And since you don't seem to have anything new to add--you have repeated yourself several times and I don't wish to repeat myself I am closing the thread.