November 16, 2006
Ex-gay programs spiritually corrosive, Gay Anglicans tell Archbishop
Gay and lesbian Anglicans have rebuffed suggestions that they must reject their sexuality to follow Jesus Christ. On the contrary, they say, attempts to change sexual orientation are both ineffective and unnecessary because "authentic and biblical Christian faith simply does not require it."
Members of Integrity Canada, a gay-affirming Anglican support group, have written an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, following suggestions that the Archbishop advocated "ex-gay" therapy in an interview for a Dutch newspaper in August.
The newspaper reported that when asked about gay relationships and the limits of inclusiveness in the Anglican Church, the Archbishop replied, "We welcome people into the Church, we say: 'You can come in, and that decision will change you.' We don't say: 'Come in and we ask no questions.' I do believe conversion means conversion of habits, behaviours, ideas, emotions."
Headlines around the world trumpeted the comment as a U-turn in the Archbishop's support for gay relationships, and a Canadian ex-gay group applauded Williams' interview as support for their cause.
Gay Anglicans say they do not want to "spin" the Archbishop's words but to reflect on the meaning of authentic Christian conversion for gay people. "Same-sex sexual orientation has as its essential nature the intrinsically good motivation to intimate communion with another person," they write. "This is not to say that sexual attitudes, impulses, and behaviours should not change - indeed, life in Christ makes change inevitable! We believe that all who bring their sexuality into their relationship with the Living God will find it transformed to be ever more life-giving for self and others."
But some Integrity members initially believed they had to try to change their sexual orientation itself. "We would be remiss, however, if we did not acknowledge the scientific evidence that programs aimed at 're-orientation' have not demonstrated efficacy and, perhaps more importantly, the testimony of those whose experiences in such programs were far from benign." Many former participants report that ex-gay programs can have a "corrosive effect" on the faith of gay Christians.
Integrity members therefore offer support for those who now "feel led by the Holy Spirit to affirm their homosexuality and to embrace the wholeness offered to all of God's children in Jesus Christ," a conversion they say is more likely to result in an authentic, loving, and life-giving Christian faith.
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Integrity's letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury is available online at http://www.integritycanada.org/docs/ABpCantebury-Letter-October2006.pdf/
Media Contact: Dr. Donald Meen - (604) 432-1230 - firstname.lastname@example.org