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“Conversion Therapy”

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they may accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.

This week some Cambridge churches had posters stuck on their railings accusing them of supporting “Gay Conversion Therapy”.  Is this accusation true?

What is known as “Gay Conversion Therapy” refers to attempts which there have been in some churches or religious groupings to manipulate or coerce people who experience same-sex attraction to change these desires to opposite-sex attraction. 

As far as I’m aware, no such practices have ever taken place at StAG, or any other Cambridge church.  It is also vital to say that at StAG we truly want to be a church with a welcome for all, and include in our number some who experience same-sex attraction.

So the allegation as stated is untrue.  Why, then, has it been brought?  I think it goes back a year, when motions were brought to the Cambridge University Students’ Union against us, and our friends at Holy Trinity.  Some time previously, their Vicar and I had, quite independently, joined with over two thousand ministers and church workers signing an open letter to HM Government registering our concern about a Conversion Therapy Bill to be brought to Parliament – a draft form of which may be in this coming November’s King’s Speech.

Our concern is not with the criminalisation of coercion or manipulation, which we would of course condemn in any pastoral setting.  It is that the proposed legislation appears to be being hijacked by activists who would criminalise anyone who articulates the historic teaching of the churches over millennia, since Jesus and before, that the only right place for sexual intimacy is in a marriage between a man and a woman.

Labelling churches which hold to this view as per se indulging in gay conversion therapy is not only slanderous, but could have a dangerous gagging effect on preaching. We were concerned that, unless very carefully drafted, Bible preaching on marriage could somehow fall foul of a new law, as could attempts by ministers to offer prayerful pastoral support to those who experience same-sex attraction.  Again, our aim in this is not to attempt to change people’s orientation but to help them live – as we ALL must – the lives of repentance and purity that the Lord Jesus calls us to, and which are so at the heart of our flourishing, and to experience the freedom He offers.

So, then, the poster campaign is based on a misleading confusion – between “conversion therapy” and the clear articulation of Christ’s teaching – which is made much more dangerous by its possible passage into legislation.  The campaign is clear evidence of how some people would like to use a new law.

May we continue to live the good lives the Apostle Peter exhorts us to in the verse above – even if, at times, it brings us false accusations!