Influential Southern Baptist leader Albert Mohler has defended gay-to-straight conversion therapy by telling readers of his latest column that being gay is in itself “deeply sinful.”
Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, wrote in the context of the controversy over the ex-gay views of therapist Marcus Bachmann, husband of Republican presidential runner Michele Bachmann.
Most conservative Christians are careful to distinguish between orientation and behavior, or at least they keep the language very fuzzy, but Mohler firmly nails his colors to the mast:
Actually, the Bible speaks rather directly to the sinfulness of the homosexual orientation — defined as a pattern of sexual attraction to a person of the same sex. … Paul identifies the sinful sexual passion as a major concern — not just the behavior. … The New Testament reveals that a homosexual sexual orientation, whatever its shape or causation, is essentially wrong, contrary to the Creator’s purpose, and deeply sinful. Everyone, whatever his or her sexual orientation, is a sinner need of redemption. … But those whose sexual orientation is homosexual face the fact that they also need a fundamental reordering of their sexual attractions. About this the Bible is clear. [Emphases mine.]
Mohler’s message to gays is that they are sinning simply by having the desires. They must change.
CNN Religion yesterday suggested Mohler was one of “many Christians cool to conversion therapy for gays.” Well, he is, in a sense, but not in the way CNN portrayed. Mohler admits secular scientists and therapists are almost unanimously against reparative therapy, and he describes in detail just how many scientific and professional organizations have denounced or cautioned against it recently. His hazy response is this:
Christians cannot avoid the debate over reparative therapy, nor can we enter the debate on secular terms.
It is, as my colleague David Roberts just said to me, “the final cop-out.” So what is Mohler’s answer to the sin of same-sex attractions?
We must bring to this conversation everything we know from God’s Word about our sin and God’s provision for sinners in Christ. We will hold no hope for any sinner’s ability to change his or her own heart, and we will hold little hope for any secular therapy to offer more than marginal improvement in a sinner’s life. … We know that something as deeply entrenched as a pattern of sexual attraction is not easily changed, but we know that with Christ all things are possible.
Well, at least Mohler is honest. His answer to the sin of homosexuality is effectively what Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out has said time and again is the essential message of the ex-gay movement: Pray away the gay.
Photo: Timmy Brister