Rev. Karen Booth of the Transforming Congregation Movement corrects my statement in a comment below. She states that the organization has disavowed reparative therapy because it is Freudian and not Christian-based.
My statement was based on my interpretation of an article Rev. Booth wrote entitled "Transformation Is Still Possible: The Closure of Exodus International." Rev. Booth's article says the Transforming Congregation Movement believes in "a more strenuous and lengthy process involving various counseling approaches and spiritual disciplines to foster emotional and spiritual growth and healing."
I encourage everyone to read Rev. Booth's essay for clarity on the position of the Transforming Congregation Movement.
a more strenuous and lengthy process involving various counseling approaches and spiritual disciplines to foster emotional and spiritual growth and healing. - See more at: http://goodnewsmag.org/2013/07/transformation-is-still-possible-the-closure-of-exodus-international/#sthash.r1BP8c85.dpuf
I apologize for any misunderstanding I may have communicated.
For many years, Transforming Congregations was an Exodus affiliate member and even merged with Exodus at one point. Within the last several years, however, there has been a dramatic shift in the theological and ministerial perspective at Exodus. - See more at: http://goodnewsmag.org/2013/07/transformation-is-still-possible-the-closure-of-exodus-international/#sthash.r1BP8c85.dpuf
|Pastor Frank Schaefer and his son Tim.|
The prosecutor Rev. Christopher Fisher had a drum he consistently beat as well. His mantra: There is a rule against United Methodist pastors doing same-sex weddings; Schaefer broke the rule; he will not promise not to break it again; ergo he cannot remain a United Methodist pastor.
Only once during the trial did Fisher leave his main point. It was during his closing argument in the verdict portion of the trial.
Fisher seemed irritated by my friend Bob's emphasis on a father's love for his son. He had to set us straight. He spoke rapidly so it was hard to take notes and we have no transcript of the trial yet, but I thought his message was clear. It is not loving, he argued, for a father to endorse his son's "disordered" sexuality by doing his same-sex wedding. He seemed piqued that we couldn't understand this. He repeated the word "disordered" at least 5 or 6 times, maybe more.
Fisher said that all sexuality is disordered unless it is redeemed by Christ. He said his own sexuality before he became a Christian had been disordered. "I know what it is to be dead. I know what it is to be redeemed by the savior," he said.
|Rev. Christopher Fisher|
For Fisher, loving ministry with LGBTQ persons means changing or suppressing their "disordered" sexual behavior.
Sitting at the prosecution table with Fisher was Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, vice-president and general manager of the Good News Movement. Good News and the Transforming Congregation Movement recently merged, according to an article by Rev. Karen Booth in Good News Magazine.The Transforming Congregations Movement was the unofficial organization of United Methodists who believe that persons who experience same-sex attractions are "sexually broken."
In an editorial in Good News Magazine entitled "What Does Love Require?" Robert Renfroe, executive director of Good News, articulates the viewpoint that Fisher tried to get us to grasp at the trial. He is responding to an essay by Rev. Sandy Brown, pastor of First UMC of Seattle. Renfroe writes:
For example, the word “love.” Brown uses the word 18 times in his article and along with “listening,” he states that love should be the determining factor in how we think about homosexuality. But he never defines “love.”
We must love our neighbors, Brown rightly contends, but he never defines what it means to love another person. The closest he gets is that love requires us to be in “an attitude of compassionate service” to those around us. But that simply begs the question, “What does it mean to serve someone?” “What does it mean to love?”
I facilitate a course at our church titled “How to Love and Help Your Adult Child.” Parents attend who have children who are alcoholic, guilty of criminal behavior, and/or repeating bad decisions regarding their love life. And every parent who attends, no matter how much pain he or she has experienced, still loves his or her child.
But the question becomes: “What does it mean to love a child who is making poor decisions?” Some want to give the child money and shelter so he or she will be safe. They’re certain that’s what love would do. Others feel they must let the child live with the consequences of his or her choices, even if it means living on the streets. These parents believe that’s the loving thing to do. Both sets of parents love their child, but they disagree about what love requires.
I think in some ways that’s where the church is.
Does loving others mean that we must celebrate their lifestyle? Does serving another person mean we must accept and support every choice he or she makes?For Fisher and Good News, same-sex love is a "poor decision" and loving ministry means getting gay and lesbian people to stop loving someone of the same gender.
Along with mainstream medicine and a growing majority of Americans, some of us believe that traditional western negative attitudes toward gay and lesbian persons were simply wrong. Same-sex attraction is not disordered for those who are gay and lesbian. A loving committed relationship with someone of the same gender is healthy for those who are gay and lesbian..
The idea that homosexuality is a disorder or perversion (excuse me for using such ugly words) is a prejudice. The American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a disorder in 1973 and the American Psychological Association followed suit in 1975. Thinking gay and lesbian people are disordered is a prejudice that may have worked itself into a few verses of the Bible like some other prejudices have, but it is still a prejudice.
The American Psychological Association says:
Since 1975, the American Psychological Association has called on psychologists to take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with lesbian, gay and bisexual orientations. The discipline of psychology is concerned with the well-being of people and groups and therefore with threats to that well-being. The prejudice and discrimination that people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual regularly experience have been shown to have negative psychological effects.
For those of us who are convinced by contemporary medical thinking, loving ministry with LGBTQ people means listening, accepting, supporting gay Christians as they work out how traditional Christian teaching about relationship applies to the lives of gay and lesbian Christians, and celebrating same-sex loving, committed relationships.
Admittedly, the belief that same-sex affection is disordered is not the entirety of the reason good pastors like Frank Schaefer are being tried and exited. Some United Methodists are just very literal about the inviolability of a rule no matter the context, circumstance, or even the existence of conflicting rules. Others who help facilitate the trials, like bishops, may think they are fulfilling their obligation as a bishop or they are afraid of their authority being threatened.
Nonetheless, the two different meanings of loving ministry is the crux of the current divide between United Methodists. Either we agree with Rev. Christopher Fisher that loving committed relationships between gay persons are disordered and loving ministry means helping them live straight or celibate lives.
Or else we agree with the overwhelming majority of psychological and psychiatric medicinal professionals and our own experience that lesbian and gay persons are just as capable of mature loving relationships as straight people are.
We have learned to transcend our prejudices before. Jewish persons are not Christ-killers. Persons with epilepsy are not demon possessed. Self-affirming women are not witches. People who use wheel chairs are not too lacking in faith to be healed.
Listen, we need to understand that we can't have it both ways. We can't find a good pastor like Frank Schaefer guilty and still claim we accept our LGBTQ members and neighbors.