Posted by: Beverly Dale | October 19, 2009

Can religious acceptance be a way out of legalism?

With all the religious brou-ha-ha about whether or not gays can become straight, one would think that there would be more publicity of the two-year research of 83 studies going back as far as the 1960’s that was done recently by the American Psychological Association.

The Association, with its 150,000 professional members, concluded the study by affirming its opposition to the so-called “reparative therapy” that tries to change gays into straight people. They noted the lack of documentation of its success as well as the data that suggests sometimes damage is created.

However, the report is unique because it suggests that since some clients may value their religion more than their own sexual expression, professionals should work within the religious framework rather than simply dismiss it. If therapists focus instead on hope, forgiveness, or the option of celibacy it allows their struggling clients to remain religiously faithful. In addition, by accepting the premise that faith is important, therapists can  alternatively suggest finding a gay-friendly faith and a tradition that does not demand celibacy or require them to become straight.

I think that by starting with an acceptance of the religious framework of their clients, therapists might build a bridge to self-acceptance away from self-loathing. And, it just might lead to a willingness to move toward a creative spiritual exploration rather than jsut getting stuck in legalistic obedience.

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Responses

  1. Rev Bev,
    Thank you for bringing to the surface one of the main deficiencies in clinical training; whether of psychologists, social workers, physicians, pastors, counselors or other “healing” professionals. There is a dearth – if not a complete absence – of focus on personal issues of faith. It is generally not accepted within the clinical disciplines that matters of personal faith have any merit in considering the complete context of the person seeking help. Unless that is, the issue relates to sexuality or sexual orientation in which case the theology of condemnation generally is applied. This is a situation that must be addressed by the 150,000 members of the APA and the billions of members of the human race worldwide. Renewed calls from portions of the community of faith in Global South for the imprisonment of practicing homosexuals is unconscionable. Our creator intended for us to be healers and good stewards of creation, not destroyers. The cry “Physician [therapist, clergy] heal thyself” is most apt in this instance. Your call for a“creative spiritual exploration” is most welcomed, appreciated, and needed in times such as these. I will join with you in engaging in such an exploration at any time in any place.
    Peace.
    Rob


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