Southern Seminary leaders underscore rejection of ‘superficial’ reparative therapy in response to LGBT protesters at ACBC conference
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — Reparative therapy is a “superficial” response to homosexual and transgender change and Christian ministers must instead call all people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, said leaders of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors in an Oct. 5 news conference.
“We don’t think the main thing that is needed is merely repair but rather redemption,” said Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. “When it comes to sexuality, we do believe that wholeness and holiness can come, and will come, to the one who faithfully follows Christ.”
Mohler and ACBC executive director Heath Lambert addressed local and national media to refute the claims of the Fairness Campaign, a Louisville LGBT advocacy group alleging the conference promoted reparative therapy, which is a secular method of converting sexual orientation and gender identity. Nearly 40 LGBT activists stood on the sidewalk near the seminary’s Alumni Memorial Chapel in the first of two planned protests as a record 2,300 conference attendees registered for the three-day conference on homosexuality and transgenderism.
“The Christian church has sinned against the LGBT community by responding to this challenge in a superficial way,” Mohler said. “It’s not something that is so simple as converting from homosexual to heterosexual, and from our gospel-centered theological understanding that would not be sufficient.”
He continued: “Our message is the gospel for all people and that means we call all people to be converted to faith in Christ and then as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ to live in holiness and wholeness, which is defined by obedience to him, each in our own way.”
Lambert, who is also associate professor of biblical counseling at Southern Seminary and Boyce College, said he recognized the “cultural voice” embraces homosexuality and transgenderism but the Bible is what “authoritatively declares” moral behavior. He said the conference will demonstrate for ministers and counselors a “Christian compassion” for those struggling with homosexuality and gender identity.
“We don’t call people to embrace heterosexuality,” Lambert said. “We call people to embrace Christian faithfulness.”
Lambert clarified the existence of three approaches to counseling homosexuality and gender identity: a secular position embracing all forms of sexuality, the secular position of reparative therapy, and the Christian position of repentance and faith.
Lambert said the biblical position is that those who come to faith in Christ must respond by leaving behind sinful patterns in Christian obedience as they experience transformative change from the Holy Spirit. What that looks like, Lambert said, is a transformed Christian sexuality manifesting itself either in heterosexual monogamy or celibacy.
“The standard for sexuality in the Bible is one man and one woman in the context of Christian marriage,” Lambert said. “If you are not in that one man, one woman relationship of marriage, then the call on your life is joyful, faithful, Christian celibacy, and that is what we’re calling people to — Christian faithfulness regardless of what your sin is and regardless of what your situation is.”
Fairness Campaign protesters say reparative therapy increases the rate of depression and suicide in the LGBT community. According to a news report by local TV station WDRB, Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman said such therapy is a dangerous attempt to persuade the LGBT community “to change the nature of who they are.” Following the evening protest, activists plan to attend a worship service for the LGBT community at Crescent Hill Baptist Church, which was recently removed from the Kentucky Baptist Convention for its acceptance of same-sex marriage.
The ACBC annual conference ends Oct. 7 with Sam Allberry, a pastor and author who describes himself as a same-sex attracted Christian living in celibacy. Plenary sessions can be live streamed at sbts.edu/live and a news recap will follow shortly after the conclusion of the conference.