Reparative therapy – Conversion therapy – “pray away the gay” – is on the decline and many organisations are closing their doors because they have realised that it doesn’t work. There’s a few fundamentalist die-hards that have regrouped to form even more evil and destructive “ministries”, and some of the smaller ones persist despite the overwhelming evidence that it not only doesn’t work but is extremely harmful.
So this is cause for cautious celebration isn’t it?
Well, not so fast. The problem is far deeper than these higher profile groups.
Most fundamentalist churches are extremely anti-LGBT. Perhaps they have a policy of welcoming them into the church, but it’s on the condition they change, and that’s where the fun begins.
The basic premises of reparative therapy have been accepted amongst Christendom as truth and adopted by every amateur prayer counsellor. Nearly every church has at least one “expert” ready to pray away the gay. They may be an elder who claims to have God’s anointing, a well meaning elderly woman who is regarded as the “intercessor”, the home group leader who has aspirations of running his own church some day, the prayer team who believe they can change anything if they pray long enough… many of them are really well meaning, genuinely believing they are helping people into freedom and new life. They all believe that anything outside the traditional sexual/gender stereotype is a sin – whether it’s caused by some deep emotional scar or a lifestyle choice, even if it’s from being led astray by ungodly relationships.
These are the ones that do just as much, if not more, damage as the established reparative therapy groups.
Deliverance (casting out demons) is a favourite practice in many circles, especially Pentecostal churches. Whatever methods they use, the results are the same – deep trauma, cognitive dissonance, lowered self-worth and much more – often leading to complex mental health issues and all too often chronic depression and suicide.
We may be winning the high profile battles against this evil practice, but we have yet to face the real battles. Religion itself is the enemy. A religion that is based on conditional, performance driven “love”, fuelled by traditions and dogma.
Unconditional love is the only answer – an answer that religion fails to understand at the deepest level.