Kinship International statement on reparative therapy and 'change ministries'

For nearly 40 years, Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International has worked worldwide with current and former Seventh-day Adventist lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people and their families, friends, and allies.

Adventist Kinship members today are as diverse as the rest of the Adventist community. What we share is the conviction that God loves all His children equally and unconditionally, no matter our gender identity or sexual orientation.* God created each of us with the healthy desire for companionship (e.g. Gen. 2:18), and He uses our social and intimate relationships to teach us what daily lives of love and self-sacrifice look like (e.g. Eph. 5:1-2; 1 Jn. 4:11-12; Col. 3:12-14; 1 Cor. 13).

From Colin Cook’s Quest Learning Center and Homosexuals Anonymous (1980) to today’s Coming Out Ministries, the Seventh-day Adventist church has subsidized or promoted reparative or change “therapy” and so-called “ex-gay” ministries that target vulnerable LGBTI people, same gender couples, and the congregations they participate in.

Adventist Kinship members who’ve graduated from these ministries know their teachings and accounts of abuse, addiction, and “change” through spirituality or divine intervention. We also know these ministries’ outcomes all too well. We will never confuse destructive patterns of substance abuse, domestic violence, or sex addiction with a person’s underlying gender or sexual orientation, and we’re happy for those who, with therapy, have lessened their distress about who they are. Having picked up the pieces these ministries left behind, however, we also know that “interventions” based on treating non-heterosexual orientations as essentially sinful, deviant, or inferior have devastating psychological, relational, and spiritual impacts on youth and adults alike.

We appreciate the consensus of the American Medical Association (2003), National Association of Social Workers (2000), American Psychiatric Association (1998), American Psychological Association (1997), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (1993): non-heterosexual orientations are not in themselves a problem and so do not merit therapy, suppression, or change. These clinical professionals, medics, and scientists have learned from study what SDA Kinship members have learned from experience.

Because of God’s work in our lives and families, our knowledge of change organizations, and our experiences with thousands of LGBTI and heterosexual people since 1976, we encourage our members to accept their baseline orientation, and we affirm loving, committed same gender or mixed gender relationships for members who choose them. At a recent Kinship conference, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of one same gender couple—not because of their gender or orientation but because they’ve sustained a time-tested relationship of loyalty, mutual care, and healthy affection, and they’ve done this despite persistent demonization from their religious community.

We respect our members enough to honor their consciences about their faith and what they believe God requires of them in this life. Some have chosen committed relationships, some have built families with children, and others are celibate; all must be convinced in their own mind as the Lord leads them. Whatever our members and friends choose, we believe love is worth celebrating, and we support all of them as they grow in grace.

*Gender identity is a person's deeply felt psychological sense of whether or how they fit into cultural gender categories. This identification may or may not correspond to the person's designated sex at birth. (APA. 2011. “Definition of Terms” http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/sexuality-definitions.pdf)

Sexual orientation is an enduring pattern of affectional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction to men, women, or people of either gender. Heterosexual, gay and lesbian, bisexual orientations are three of the most common. (APA. 2008. “Sexual Orientation” http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/sexual-orientation.aspx)

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Sat, 09/13/2014 | San Diego Adventist Forum
Terrie Dopp Aamodt, PhD

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