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Focus on the Family: Gay people still can be fixed

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The American Psychological Association's rejection of therapy intended to turn gay people straight, announced yesterday, is unlikely to change the views of Focus on the Family, the Colorado Springs-based organization, founded by James Dobson, that's made "reorientation" one of its most prominent missions. Indeed, the outfit has long been defensive about criticism of this practice, as is made clear by the following introduction to a website section entitled "Counseling for Unwanted Same-Sex Attractions:"

In recent years, there has been a marked debate in the mental health professions about both the desirability and feasibility of attempts to alter a person's homosexual orientation. Historically, such "change" was widely considered both desirable and possible.

More recently, however, an increasing number of mental health practitioners now believe that a homosexual orientation is an intrinsic part of a person's identity that can not - and should not - be changed. It is in this largely politically driven context - in contrast to a more objectively scientific or even scriptural context - that many clinicians further hold that any and all therapy practices that have as their goal sexual orientation change are harmful and should be declared professionally unethical.

Here's how Focus describes its position on "same-sex counseling:"

• Focus on the Family is dedicated to defending the honor, dignity and value of the two sexes as created in God's image - intentionally male and female - each bringing unique and complementary qualities to sexuality and relationships.

• Sexuality is a glorious gift from God - meant to be offered back to Him either in marriage for procreation, union and mutual delight or in celibacy for undivided devotion to Christ.

• Homosexual behavior violates God's intentional design for gender and sexuality.

• While we do not believe an individual typically "chooses" his or her same sex-attractions, we do believe that those who struggle with unwanted same-sex sexual temptation can choose to steward their impulses in a way that aligns with their faith convictions.

• We affirm the Scriptural teaching that homosexuals can and do change their sexual identity (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

• We support counseling and the availability of professional therapy options for unwanted homosexual attractions and behavior.

• We do not endorse or promote any one particular religious, psychiatric or psychological approach as the "one and only" way to go about changing same-sex attractions and behaviors.

• Just as there are many paths that may lead a person to experience same-sex attractions, there are likewise multiple ways out. Thus, individuals and their helping professionals are called to discern and pursue the most appropriate approach that best enables them to steward their sexuality in alignment with their chosen values.

In regard to the Corinthians verse cited above, certain groups translate the passage as an explicit attack on homosexuality. Here's one such example from BibleGateway.com:

(9) Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders (10) nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

However, the ReligiousTolerance.org site disputes the term "homosexual offenders," arguing that a truer translation is "effeminate." The implication: "Homosexual offenders" is favored by those operating in, to use a Focus phrase from above, a "largely politically driven context."

And that's unlikely to change, no matter what the APA says.

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