What surprised me in the material this week was the discussion about homosexuality being genetic (Thomas, 2018). Dr. Thomas’s position was not surprising, but I was in wonderment to hear someone argue the same position I have with the examples that he did. He talked about how there is evidence that supports that homosexuality could be genetic, but that just because it may be genetic does not mean that homosexuality is right (Thomas, 2018). I also found an article that reported on studies showing some link between genetics and having relations with individuals of the same sex (Price & Kaiser, 2018). Thomas (2018) even mentioned findings that there is a “genetic load” for individuals who rape others. I think this comparison strongly supports that just because a person is created a certain way, does not mean it is okay to behave that way. I have often agreed that I cannot truly dispute that homosexuals were not born that way, but rather that it is a sin for them to practice it. We are all born sinners (Psalm 51:5, New International Version), but the Bible tells us that when we give in to the desires of our flesh that we are deserving of God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:3). Many scriptures, like Leviticus 20:13 and Romans 1:26-27, declare that same-sex relations are sinful.
Three key themes that I took away from the presentations are with regards to change therapy, alternative approaches, and “the fall”. First, I think it is important to remember that as Dr. Thomas and Dr. Yarhouse both discussed that change can be along a continuum, where you may not see a complete change in an individual from gay to straight, but that some change has been seen in individuals from the gay community with undesirable same-sex attractions (Garzon, 2016; Thomas, 2018). Though change therapy may not be as successful as one may hope, I think it is important to understand the research and to consider whether or not it would be useful or a viable option for you and your clients.
Secondly, knowing that there are alternative approaches to working with gay clients besides gay-affirmative counseling was something else that stood out to me. Myers (2018) indicated how it is considered unethical for a counselor to refer a homosexual client based on religious beliefs. Thus, it is important to explore various ways of working with this population. Considering that change therapy may not be very effective and gay-affirmative may not be suitable, Dr. Yarhouse discussed alternative approaches that focus on things like healthy coping, identity, and celibacy (Garzon, 2016;Yarhouse & Burkett, 2002).
Lastly, as I mentioned earlier, Thomas (2018) discussed that although homosexual desires may be genetic, that does not justify acting on them. He noted that these desires are a result of Adam and Eve’s original sin, known as “the fall” (Thomas, 2018). Dr. Yarhouse also talked about how some individuals, like me, see homosexuality as part of living in a “fallen world”(Garzon, 2016). What I like about Dr. Yarhouse’s description of this position is that he says it allows one to have compassion for the homosexual individual, recognizing that their feelings may not be their fault (Garzon, 2016).
If I could ask the three presenters one question it would be what their one piece of advice or recommendation would be to future Christian counselors who do not want to necessarily work in a Christian setting, but who do not agree with counseling a gay person when their issue is related to homosexuality, such as in marriage counseling. Dr. Myers discussed evaluating and determining how your ethics work with your religious belief, but it would be interesting to hear from each of them additional recommendations and how they themselves dealt with this issue (Myers, 2018).
When I read the topic for week four as I was preparing for this course, I had a sense of dread. There are many in the church – heterosexual followers of Christ – that have caused pain and suffering to homosexuals for years. For example, their participation and attendance in church services are openly discouraged or banned, the church has played a part in the damage of familial bonds by clobbering their lifestyle, and publicly persecuting them because of sin (Gnuse, 2015).
I have seen Christians judge sin by its context and the degree of its sinfulness. Now, I admit I am guilty of this myself, “Oh, I only told a little white lie to spare her feelings” or “It was just a lustful thought, not full-blown adultery.” However, for homosexuality, the church applies absolute standards of morality that warrant an absolute penalty. Interestingly, homosexuality is the only sin that the church – heterosexual followers of Christ – is not tempted to commit. This highlights my first take away – pride. In “A Biblical Worldview of Homosexuality,” Dr. Thomas (2018) references Proverbs 6:16-19, stating, “In the seven things God says he hates, sexual immorality is not listed. Pride is listed, and it is separated to say that He [God] really hates pride.” (14:50). Pride causes us to filter out the sin in our own lives and focus on the sin of others (Lyon, 2012); which is what I see the some in the church doing.
Another point that surprised me was when Thomas (2018) stated, “They are not those people, but our people.” (14:35). Thomas (2018) stated that the principle of equifinality may apply to homosexuality; if so, then there is truth in saying, “I was born this way.” Personally, I believe that every human is born with a natural desire to sin. We are guilty of lying, stealing, fornicating, coveting, greed, drunkenness, lustful thoughts, adultery, and so on. If we were tried in a court of law for some of the abovementioned sins, we would go to jail. But, what would happen if someone came to pay the fine for our crime? We would be set free. This is precisely what I think many Christians forget. Though we are all different in some way, shape, or form… we are all children of God. These are all our people. Jesus Christ came and paid the fine for our sins – even homosexuality. I think caveat to that is, to be forgiven by God, they must first repent.
Near the end of his presentation, Dr. Myers (2018), offered this suggestion, “Don’t let these organizations speak for you.” (18:40). I am a member of both the American Counseling Association and American Association of Christian Counselors and try to stay involved with current events in the profession. I took his words as more of a challenge than merely a suggestion because when I first joined, I wanted to make a difference (at least in my place of practice) but quickly learned that I am one extraordinarily small piece of the professional counseling profession. However, if we do not take a stand for what we believe, we are failing as counselors.
My question would be for Dr. John Tomas: You seem fired up when it comes to this topic. I agree that we should love them as we have been commanded, but I see so much hate coming from those in the church. Has there been a time in your career that your position, accreditation, reputation, or freedoms have been threatened because of the issue of homosexuality?