Monday, 19 October 2009

Fulcrum analyses the APA report

Fulcrum has published this article:
Changing Sexual Orientation and Identity? The APA Report by Andrew Goddard and Glynn Harrison.

This is a discussion of this report:
Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 19 October 2009 at 6:31pm BST | TrackBack
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According to this testimony the rebellion of humankind against God darkens our mind and subverts our understanding of God and creation (

And why do these words not apply to Evo understandings of homosexuality. It very well could be that they have misread creation and fellow creatures. That it is their idolatry of heterosexuality and self that leads them to such misreading.

The real questions are how does grace look like in the life of a homosexual person rather than how do we fit those people into our Evo-heterosexual program.

Many people seem blind to the grace that is found in our lives. That blindness is not our fault, but their own darkened minds.

Posted by: Christopher on Monday, 19 October 2009 at 7:59pm BST

Charlotte originally drew attention to this article on an earlier thread, where she said:
Somewhat related to the Gledhill-and-Spong matter: Over at the Fulcrum Forums, Andrew Goddard and Glynn Harrison attack the American Psychiatric Association for saying that attempts to turn gays straight are hurtful: http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/page.cfm?ID=475

According to Goddard and Harrison, the APA's science is bad. Reason? It doesn't give them the answer they want: "To every theory, however, [the Church] must put the question whether it is adequate to the understanding of human nature and its redemption that the Gospel proclaims." (Which Church, which Gospel, you might well ask -- well, theirs, of course!)

Is there any difference between the British evos and the American Six-Day Creationists? Not a whit. Both say they always know all the answers in advance. Both say: If science doesn't give us the answer we want, then science must be wrong, because we are always right.

Complete lack of understanding of the purpose of science there -- not to mention arrogance, self-centeredness, and lack of charity and humility.

But these are the people who now run the Church of England, so be warned, North Americans.

Then Fr Ron Smith posted this comment about the topic:

The 'Fulcrum' article (mentioned, above, by Charlotte) by Messrs Andrew Goddard and Glynn Harrison appears to be a quasi-scientific and circumlocutious attempt to discredit serious research, undertaken by professional psychiatric institutions of both the UK and the USA, on the unsatisfactory outcome of attempts by so-called Christian 'therapists' to change sexual orientation.

What they still cannot, or are unwilling, to understand about sexual identity is that it really is not a matter of choice - whether to be homo- hetero- or bisexual. They seem so desperate to prove that gays can be 'cured' by spiritual manipulation, that they are willing to go to any lengths to prove that sexual identity is a choice. Tell that to any intrinsically straight, gay or bi-sexual person and the simply will not believe you. God can, of course, perform miracles but, if God has created a gay- hetero- or bisexual person in God's own image and likeness, why would a loving God wish to change them? And here we get to the real problem at the heart of the matter; people like Goddard and Harrison, both Evangelical Christian apologists, firmly believe that sex is somehow 'sinful' and only to be acted upon for the explicit purpose of 'making babies'. This is such a diminished understanding of our God-given sexuality as to be laughed out of court by anyone who can get to grips with the powerful sexual images contained in the Song of Solomon. Lets hope the 'New Puritans' never get into a position of absolute control over the Church.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 19 October 2009 at 10:16pm BST

RE American 6-Day Creationists and British Evos: "Both say they always know all the answers in advance. Both say: If science doesn't give us the answer we want, then science must be wrong, because we are always right. Complete lack of understanding of the purpose of science there -- not to mention arrogance, self-centeredness, and lack of charity and humility."

That sums it up as neatly as I've ever heard it Simon, and says it all.

And this will certainly be the long-term undoing of Christianity, if these types keep up this nonsense.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Monday, 19 October 2009 at 11:23pm BST

"According to Goddard and Harrison, the APA's science is bad. Reason? It doesn't give them the answer they want..."

Well put indeed, Simon!

Sadly - tragically - the price of their blind devotion to the (hermeneutical) assumption that Christianity MUST exclude homosexuality (and, oddly, that medical science is thus wrong) is far too often exacted in human flesh. Tell a lesbian/gay teenager often enough that s/he is "in need of healing", "fundamentally disordered", or - effectively - shouldn't really exist in the first place and the effect on that young person's emotional well-being will be predictably bad. Anyone who thinks that they, in preaching such purported "Gospel truth", are not playing a role in driving people to despair (and often suicide) - while indirectly encouraging violence of all kinds against them by others - is quite simply kidding themselves.

That, of course, includes those amongst us preaching time and again "in love" the ostensible "mind" of the Anglican Communion (that is, the mind of a voting majority of the Communion's bishops gathered at the 1998 Lambeth Conference).

Posted by: christopher+ on Tuesday, 20 October 2009 at 12:02am BST

Imagine if the word "Jewish" replaced "homosexual" in this tortured piece, which presents itself as refining on the scientific methodology of the APA but is actually motivated by scriptural fundamentalism of the most barren kind. Bishop Spong is right -- these people are not bona fide academic inquirers or even fatuous sillies. They are in bad faith. Their discourse deserves not a respectful hearing but the analysis and condemnation that many similar Anti-Semitic discourses of the past receive.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Tuesday, 20 October 2009 at 1:50am BST

I don't think any of the God arguments will do, simply because there is enough nasty in the world that the loving God would not want, and the nonsense of a 'fall' allows that in the human sphere.

The argument has to be evolutionary, that the most successful creatures that evolve are those that evolve evolvability - that means having in any population minorities of all kinds of flexible kinds, all of which are nurtured within the group, so to be able to adapt to rapid environmental change.

Goddard and company just want to maintain the status of writings of the Holy Book despite the fact that these writings say nothing of relevance on the subject.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 20 October 2009 at 2:35am BST

I fear I'm as concerned with methodological problems in the Fulcrum post as in the APA article. They place a lot of importance on the lack of randomized controlled trials. However, they miss a point. Psychological studies do not, indeed, lend themselves to randomized controlled trials because the patients have a choice in seeking care, in the problem for which they seek care, and in the treatment they choose for it. Thus, the patient ends up predisposed to one treatment or another prior to seeking help in the first place.

Moreover, these are persons seeking help. That is, these are not prospective studies but retrospective studies, reviewing outcomes of one form of treatment or another. That's because in a treatment setting it is unethical to offer a treatment that the professional considers ineffective. This is an important issue in that those who believe in SOCE have a significantly different opinion of the effect they want to see. While I myself fear SOCE is unethical, I can appreciate that one who believes the healthy effect to be pursued is change would consider it unethical to offer a different therapy. Because the presenting situation is treatment and not research, the only professional who might offer a choice, randomized or not, would be one who believes either program is equally effective. If we could find such a rare professional, well and good; but that's the only way a controlled trial, much less a randomized controlled trial, might occur. Otherwise, professional bias, expressed as an ethically appropriate decision to choose the treatment the professional believes most likely to bring about the appropriate effect, precludes a controlled study.

So, retrospective studies that review effects of treatments are the best we have. Now, if there is no evidence regarding SOCE (one way or the other), and there is some evidence that traditional therapy does result in adaptation and adjustment (including, if it is the client's wish, adjustment that is appropriate within the client's religious beliefs), on what basis would a professional recommend SOCE? Only if that professional begins convinced that adaptation and adjustment is not enough.

We can have this discussion at length; but the differences in conviction about what constitutes the healthy result will prevent any alternatives in therapy, much less a controlled trial. This is a methodological issue that the Fulcrum authors simply gloss over themselves.


Posted by: Marshall Scott on Tuesday, 20 October 2009 at 3:35am BST

To follow what Simon sez, for those who think it is a choice to be gay, ask those folk if THEY could CHOOSE to be gay....the response will be (duh!, and horrified!), 'of course not"....SO! Why do they think it is a choice?

Posted by: Patsy Kay on Tuesday, 20 October 2009 at 4:31am BST

"For the biblical writers the phenomena of homosexual behaviour are not addressed solely as wilfully perverse acts but in
generalised terms, and are located within the broader context of human idolatry."

All the attempts of Goddard and Harrison to present themselves as persons who take seriously the findings of social science and are well versed in Scripture scholarship fall to pieces in the utterly homophobic statement above, which seems to form the kernel of their view of lesbians and gay men. For these writers there are no persons whose same sex affectivity is fundamental to who they are. Actually, there are really no gay people to them. There is just "homosexual behaviour", "wilfully perverse acts".

These religiously based attempts to disregard and treat as nonexistent the personhood of gay people is morally appalling. We know where this kind of thinking leads, those of us who have endured the verbal and phsysical violence that has come with being different. The ultimate end of this kind of thinking can be found in the recent legislation pending in Uganda which promises long prison sentences and execution for gay people.

Fulcrum might have some credibility as a moral voice if they had foregone comparing loving same sex relationships to "homosexual behavior" which scripture locates in the context of "idolatry" (about as nonsensical a statement as one will ever hear) in favour of a paper that offers a firm criticique of the actions of the government of Uganda and calls upon the Primate of that province and the ABC to denounce the genocidal legislation against gay people proposed in that country.

But, don't hold your breath friends. We will hear no such thing from Fulcrum or their friends Nazir Ali or Wright, and most significantly Rowan Williams. We will hear only immoral silence from them. They will not defend the lives of gay people. And they wonder why so few are interested in their churches. They imagine that if only they are more conservative and more passionate in their evangelization of views like those in the quote above, they will draw all people to themselves.

Many of us, especially LGBT persons, their families and those who love them, will have none of this. When the lives of many thousands of innocent people are at stake, so many of them young persons, this kind of ignorance and inaction is inexcusable. This is not the time to defend one's point of view, or to ask those at risk of their futures and their lives for a long period of "listening". This is the time to act to save lives from being destroyed.

Posted by: karen macqueen+ on Tuesday, 20 October 2009 at 8:50am BST

Very well said Karen -- it is human beings who are at stake in these fatuous mind-games. Perhaps when Hitler et al. discussed "the Jewish problem" they had similarly reduced the human beings concerned to pawns or ciphers of their ideological ponderings. Just as a bright contrast, here's a Lloyd Webber composition sung by the late Stephen Gately: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogjFSW7PqRY

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Tuesday, 20 October 2009 at 11:22am BST

Fundamentalists do not reason like other people: they begin with a conclusion and then work backwards from it.

That is what we are seeing here.

Can someone please explain to me how such people managed to take over the Church of England?

Posted by: JPM on Tuesday, 20 October 2009 at 2:03pm BST

TA readers will understand how shocked we (LGCM) were in the run up Lambeth 2008 to discover that the same Prof Glyn Harrison had been made the official rapporteur on medical matters by the listening guy Canon Phil Groves.

We expressed our outrage but were met with the claim that only someone like Harrison would be accepted by the wider Communion and given the categorical assurance that Harrison would have nothing to do with the extremists at NARTH and did not support reparative therapy. We found out for ourselves that this was all lies, but unfortunately too many liberal “leaders” cosied up to Groves and the ACO establishment and made life very difficult for those who wanted to expose the truth. The result was predictably awful.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Tuesday, 20 October 2009 at 6:59pm BST

"TA readers will understand how shocked we (LGCM) were in the run up Lambeth 2008 to discover that the same Prof Glyn Harrison had been made the official rapporteur on medical matters by the listening guy Canon Phil Groves." Martin Reynolds

Thank you, Martin, for letting the cat out of the bag on this one. I guess not many of us who were not privy to the arrangement made for Harrison to represent evidence of the medical view at Lambeth 2008 would have been aware of this important fact

This begs the question: "Who arranged for this obviously biassed interpreter of the LGBT situation to be the sole accredited 'medical' reporter to the Lambeth Conference? It would seem to have been overly provocative to not have a balanced medical team - preferably from the properly-accredited British or US Psychiatric Association - whose report has now been released on the subject, to offer a more credible and feasible survey of the subject under review.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 20 October 2009 at 11:14pm BST

The fact that the church is not prepared to accept the view which is overwhelmingly believed by the medical, scientific and caring professions explains why it is becoming so very marginalised, and why its view is not regarded with respect

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 21 October 2009 at 10:42pm BST

I've just about stopped reading those Fulcrum essays in any great detail. Why? Because when they stoop to bother reading modern science - especially that hot button queer stuff - they always end up trying to put available data and heuristics back into their old presuppositional negative wine skins.

Naturally, as some parable or other said so long ago - this bursts the old wine skins, split asunder, and confirms a lingering Fulcrum deep suspicion that new wine is always destructive or dangerous.

Bravo to Pluralist again, for noting that the key element that needs theological reflection is no longer so much sex or gender, but capacities single and communal for evolve-ability, adaptation. Dinosaurs did not adapt, but died. Mammals got a chance, including the branches of the "human" lines, because they did change, did adapt. Fulcrum believers just cannot think that one through, for now at least.

Most church thinkers still have not deeply come to grips with evolution, any more than we have theologically worked through our post-Ptolemy cosmology. We're all, just right in the big middle of all of it. Messy, unfinished.

Posted by: drdanfee on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 12:00am BST

"Can someone please explain to me how such people managed to take over the Church of England?"


They came speaking a language we did not understand, expounding concepts we had never heard of as though acceptance of them were basic to being Christian, with the assumption that their brand of Christianity was the only right path, backed up with the novel idea, which we had never dealt with before but which seemed to make a kind of sense, that if it wasn't in the Bible, it wasn't Christianity. Included with it was highly emotional worship that some people no doubt found cathartic, and that swept poeple along without much thought about what was happening. That was combined with our complacency that comes from assuming that people are just Christians as a matter of course. In short, they blindsided us, and we have never caught up with them. We've even accepted the superiority of their position. I remember the way fundamentalists behaved when I was growing up. It was a clash of cultures, after its fashion, and we lost becuse we couldn't even see it happening. It has similarities to the way western culture ran roughshod over indigenous cultures around the world, actually. I perceive it as a kind of religious colonization process, but perhaps that's because it is a style of Christianity brought here by American missionaries who a little over a century ago come into a society that was almost entirely Christian and proceeded to "evangelize" that society because, as they clearly stated, none of us were actually Christians and had never really heard the Gospel. I suspect the British situation is different, that it is something homegrown, but I also bet the mindset is the same.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 24 October 2009 at 5:50pm BST
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