Since the ’80s and ’90s, conversion therapy has been condemned by most psychiatrists and psychologists, and the Canadian Psychological Association formally opposed its techniques in a statement released in 2015—due not only to the lack of scientific research supporting its efficacy, but more importantly because of the documented mental health consequences, including anxiety, distress, depression, difficulty sustaining relationships and sexual dysfunction.
Gajdics eventually stopped therapy in 1995, but it left him with a number of severe mental health issues. “On top of the slow process of recovering from the addiction to the debilitating medication, I had insomnia, panic attacks and a fear of the doctor stalking me, because it was a small town and I lived close to where his office was,” he says. To heal from the six-year ordeal, Gajdics began writing as a way of making sense of what he had experienced. “I had to get over the shame not only from the childhood sexual abuse, but also from the lie that it made me gay.”
Vancouver has become the first Canadian city to ban the controversial, discredited, and anti-queer practice of conversion therapy.
Today (June 6), city council voted unanimously for a prohibition bylaw that will prevent businesses from offering conversion therapy, or the pseudoscientific attempt to change the sexual orientation of a person from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual. (Conversion therapy is also known as reparation therapy or the ex-gay movement.)
“Local author Peter Gadjics talked about his experience of six years in conversion therapy in Vancouver in the 1990s which he detailed in his 2017 memoir, The Inheritance of Shame.” – Vancouver becomes first Canadian city to ban anti-LGBT conversion therapy
Photo credit: Daniel Tobias/Flickr Creative Commons
“The City of Vancouver will soon decide whether or not to ban anti-queer conversion therapy, as recommended by its LGBT advisory committee.”
And from October of 2017:
“It’s time for Canada to ban anti-gay conversion therapy
Only Ontario and Manitoba have taken legal steps to limit the practice”
Lately, I’ve had some push back from some folks who doubt that the Alliance Church is anti-gay. I’ve been looking into the issue of harm and hate for so long that I’ve forgotten that some folks don’t simply know the very basic teachings of the church.
To some degree, I understand the confusion. Alliance Church leaders are becoming cagey in public about their views on gay behaviour, homosexual praxis, and same-sex marriage. This is, in some ways, good. It’s good because I think the Alliance Church leaders are seeing the social and ethical consequences of their official doctrine. But it also makes it a little trickier to explain to people what the impact of the Alliance Church is.
- “The term “violation of scriptural moral standards” as used by The Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada shall include, but not be limited to, sexual activity outside of a monogamous heterosexual marriage, sexual harassment or assault, homosexuality, misappropriation of funds, dishonesty or fraud in business and legal transactions, and guilt in a criminal offense.” (Page 38)
- “The Old Testament reveals God’s original design to make human beings in his image, male and female (Genesis 2:10-24). In the New Testament, Jesus confirms the heterosexual creation of human beings: “God made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4). Throughout Scripture heterosexual families are the norm of society. Through this family unit the human race finds its survival and men, women and children find their home. The New Testament reinforces the teaching of heterosexual love and sexual relations within marriage alone (Ephesians 5:22-23; Hebrews 13:4; I Corinthians 7:1-5).” (page 41)
- “Alongside this clear biblical teaching on God’s design for heterosexual marriage are found specific instructions in Old and New Testaments that prohibit homosexual conduct as out of harmony with the purpose for which God created human beings (e.g. Romans 1:18-27; I Timothy 1:9-11). Homosexual conduct, like all forms of sexual behavior that violate God’s original design, is sin.” (page 41)
- “In addition to the affirmation of heterosexual sexual expression within marriage alone and the prohibition of homosexual behavior, the Scriptures strongly affirm the liberating power of the Christian gospel from all former sinful patterns of life, including homosexual behavior: “Neither the sexually immoral nor idolators nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 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” (I Corinthians 6:9b-12).” (page 41)
- “The highest standards of life and conduct are required of those who serve in official and ministerial capacities in the Church of Jesus Christ and also of those who are received as members of local churches. Homosexual conduct is incompatible with the orthodox interpretation of Scripture as set forth in the Statement of Faith of The Christian and Missionary Alliance and cannot be condoned.” (page 41)
- “Persons who engage in, or endorse, homosexual conduct and/or relationships shall not be accepted as candidates for ministry, issued licenses, ordained or consecrated as ministers, or appointed to serve in The Christian and Missionary Alliance. Neither shall they serve in local church ministries, nor shall they be issued membership in an Alliance church. Likewise, in conformity with The Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada’s Statement on Human Sexuality, and its Statement on Marriage-DivorceRemarriage, which states that “[I]n no case ought any person to enter into any so-called ‘marriage’ with a person of the same sex,” no licensed worker or staff member in any Christian and Missionary Alliance ministry or local church shall, under any circumstances, sanction, bless, conduct, or officially participate in a marriage ceremony, civil or religious, nor are Alliance local church facilities or other properties belonging to any aspect of the life and work of The Christian and Missionary Alliance to be used in any way that would result in a marriage or civil union of persons of the same sex.” (page 41)
- “Individuals in active violation of scriptural moral standards shall not be licensed. The term “violation of scriptural moral standards” as used by The Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada shall include, but not be limited to, guilt in a criminal offense, misappropriation of funds, dishonesty or fraud in business or legal transactions, sexual activity outside of a monogamous heterosexual marriage and sexual-harassment or assault. The implications for eligibility for licensing of previous violations of scriptural moral standards shall be assessed on a case by case basis through the approval process. The innocent party in a divorce or a person married to the innocent party in a divorce may be considered for licensing and appointment to district or national offices. The decision shall be informed by, and be in accordance with, our statement on “Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage.”” (page 42)
- “Therefore, the church today must do everything in its power to encourage and maintain the institution of marriage and on God-given grounds. Some today would set standards for conduct in this area other than by the authority of the Word of God. Even among those who seek to hold to biblical authority there are divergent opinions, particularly with respect to the right of divorced persons to remarry. It seems imperative, therefore, that The Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada set forth what we understand to be the scriptural teaching on these subjects.” (page 64)
- “2.2 God intended marriage to be a monogamous, life-long union as clearly implied in Genesis 2:24. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.” Jesus recalled this original order of creation to overthrow the lax interpretation and practice of the Mosaic law (Mark 10:6ff). Although polygamy was sometimes practiced in Old Testament times, the Bible makes clear that God intended marriage to exist between one man and one woman for as long as both of them remain alive. In Romans 7:2 the Apostle Paul wrote: “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth: but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.” (See also I Cor. 7:39)” (page 64)
- “2.5 In no case ought any person to enter into any so-called “marriage” with a person of the same sex. Homosexual unions are specifically forbidden in Scripture (see Lev. 20:13; Rom. 1:26-27, 32; I Cor. 6:9).” (page 65)
- “2. God-honouring Expression of Sexuality: All human activity, including the expression of sexuality, should have as its end the honouring of God. Those pursuing godliness are to live lives of purity in thought, word and deed, including purity with reference to sexuality. God is honoured by the mutually intimate physical expression of sexuality when this expression occurs between a man and a woman within a monogamous marriage.” (page 69)
- “4. God-dishonouring Expression of Sexuality: God is dishonoured by anything which displaces him from his rightful place of priority in one’s life. Therefore, He is dishonoured, for example, by sexual obsession, the intimate physical expression of sexuality outside of marriage, sexual activity between persons of the same sex, between an adult and a child, between close relatives, or between a person and an animal.” (page 69)
- “5. Forgiveness and Sexuality: While some temporal effects of sexual sins may remain, sexual sins, like any other sins, can be forgiven by God through Jesus Christ, upon confession and repentance.” (page 69)
- “Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and his Church, and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel for sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.” (page 70)
- “Christian understanding of human identity is grounded in the Word of God. The significance of human sexuality is particularly evident in the account of creation. Human beings, fashioned by God in His own image, are created male and female (Genesis 1:27). This complementary nature of human sexuality is affirmed again in the second chapter of Genesis. Woman is fashioned out of man (Genesis 3:18-24). Thus, from the beginning human sexual identity is reciprocal. That is, one’s own human nature is properly understood in complementary relationship to another who is alike in nature, but opposite sexually. Like the rest of God’s creation, the sexual differences between man and woman are pronounced “very good” (Genesis 1:31). We therefore affirm human sexuality to be a gift of God. By God’s grace, human sexuality both enriches and fulfills our personhood.”
- “In the New Testament, Jesus confirms the heterosexual creation of human beings: God made them male and female (Matthew 19:4). Throughout Scripture heterosexual families consisting of a father, mother, and their children (unless they are unable to bear children) are the norm of society. The New Testament reinforces the teaching of heterosexual love and sexual relations within marriage (Ephesians 5:22-33; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Corinthians 7:1-5).”
- “Alongside this clear biblical teaching on God’s design for heterosexual marriage are found specific instructions that prohibit homosexual conduct, for example: Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable(Leviticus 18:22, 20:13). Homosexual conduct is declared to be detestable because it is out of harmony with the purpose for which God created human beings.”
- “The New Testament states: They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion (Romans 1:25-27). Worshipping the creation more than the Creator not only alienated human beings from God but also distorted their heterosexual identity as created by God. Homosexual conduct gives evidence of the universal human rejection of God’s supreme glory and, like all forms of sexual behavior that violate God’s original design, it is sin.”
- “The New Testament further states: 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 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).”
- “Like all other sins, the corruption of sexual sin can be fully forgiven through repentance and faith in Christ’s atoning work even though physical and psychological scars caused by sexual sin cannot always be erased in this life. We grieve with those who suffer hardships caused by sexual immorality, even if it is caused by their sinful acts. We strive to give aid in ways that do not deny personal responsibility for sexual behavior. We believe Christ set an example of loving ministry to those who suffer from the results of their own acts of sin in the example of the woman caught in adultery, “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:3-11).”
- You can find the CMA manual here and also the 2014 version here. ↩
- Just to be super clear, I find the values expressed in these points of doctrine repugnant and regrettable. ↩
- https://www.cmalliance.org/about/beliefs/perspectives/human-sexuality ↩
- It’s worth pointing out that these points of doctrine were decided on by the board of governors of the Alliance Church in 2012 (C&MA Board of Directors, Feb. 23, 2012). So these teachings are commitments that the church has taken recently, and by the core of its spiritual and ethical leadership. ↩
One hundred years ago you could probably get away with raising your child to hate themselves. You could beat them, for example, for being left handed. And maybe everyone knew, but no one really cared.
One hundred years ago you could teach your students that other people, maybe people of other “races” or cultures, were sinners. Hell, you could teach your own children that others were evil.
But as a community we have learned to express disapproval of these kinds of things. It’s not okay to teach kids to hate themselves. It’s not okay to teach kids harmful ideas.
But for some reason we give the Alliance Church, and others, a pass on their anti-gay ideologies. I don’t get it.
As you know I’m very interested in the way that the Alliance Church positions itself as a church that loves gay people but remains anti-gay. They’re not alone in this, of course. The Catholic Church has a very similar position. And, apparently, so does the Salvation Army, which is a charity, formed by a church; the Methodist Church.