Commentary: Conversion therapy serves no good purpose
So-called conversion therapy programs make false promises and are based on faulty and discredited science. Conversion therapy (aka, reparative therapy) doesn’t work and, moreover, often causes harm, which is why I applaud President Obama for taking a stand against such programs.
Many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons have discovered the welcome and inclusion of a welcoming congregation. We call them open and affirming congregations in the United Church of Christ. Many of our congregations have become a sanctuary, a safe haven, for healing and wholeness for persons of different sexual orientations and gender identities who have been wrongly counseled that they must change to conform to a heterosexual or gender identity norm that conflicts with their truest sense of self. The stories are painful, gut wrenching and far too numerous which have been told to many an open and affirming pastor. The clear evidence that conversion therapy does not work, together with a testament of experiences from our open and affirming churches demonstrates that conversion therapy serves no good purpose.
The stories of grace abound, too, for persons who have had this burden lifted by the good news that God loves each of us as we are, in the fullness of our identities. Human sexuality is a gift from God. It is an integral part of the human experience from the moment we are born until the moment we die. Sexual orientation and gender identity are an important aspect of human personhood and diversity in this area is also a gift. We honor the creator when we embrace the sexuality we have been given and express it in ways that are loving and just.
I join President Obama in calling for laws and policies that protect minors from harmful, unscientific treatment of those seeking spiritual and psychological wholeness with regard to sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Rev. Geoffrey A. Black
General Minister and President
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