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What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
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Some of the most compassionate and courageous—and least politically correct—people in the country are mental health providers who assist clients with unwanted same-sex attractions. I had the privilege of spending time with some of them on October 5 and 6 in Orlando, at the annual conference of the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity (“The Alliance,” formerly known as the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, or “NARTH”).Although LGBT activists have been critical of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) for decades, the threat to such therapy has become an existential one only in the last six years, as several states have enacted laws prohibiting licensed mental health providers from engaging in SOCE (often referred to by critics and the media with an outdated term, “conversion therapy”) with minors. However, this year’s Alliance conference came in the wake of an unexpected win, when an even more extreme therapy ban proposal in California was withdrawn by its sponsor, Assemblyman Evan Low, on August 31 (the last day of the legislative session).The conference featured a variety of presentations and workshops touching on medical, clinical, and cultural issues, as well as research. Attorney Geoff Heath gave an overview of the therapy bans—including several different arguments as to why they should be found unconstitutional. He touched on ways in which they infringe freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion, in addition to noting the more technical legal principle that they may be “void for vagueness.”It is ironic that attacks upon such therapies have grown ever more extreme, even as the therapists themselves are becoming ever more scrupulous about following “best practices” that avoid the kind of behaviors (such as “coercion” of clients or “guarantees” of complete transformation) of which they are regularly accused. Christopher Rosik, Ph.D., introduced an updated set of Guidelines for the Practice of Sexual Attraction Fluidity Exploration in Therapy (or “SAFE-T,” an acronym coined by the Alliance to better describe the actual focus of such therapy). This carefully reasoned and thoroughly documented 62-page document (not yet available on the Alliance website, at last check—an older version is here) features 13 specific guidelines to ensure that client goals are respected, fully informed consent is obtained, and any potential harm is avoided.Several sessions addressed research questions. Philip Sutton, Ph.D., gave an introductory presentation with the explanatory title, “Are Same-Sex Attractions and Behaviors (SSA) REALLY Innate, Inconsequential, and Immutable? What Research and Demonstrable Clinical Experience Does and Does Not Show.” Key research findings he explained show that:SSA is not innate.SSA is consequential (that is, it does have many significant negative consequences and co-occurring difficulties—undermining claims that it is a “normal, positive variant of human sexuality”).SSA is mutable (that is, it can change).Some intended and beneficial changes in SSA (often along a continuum) occur through professional and pastoral assistance.Therapeutically assisted change is not invariably harmful.One of the conference keynote speakers, the Rev. D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D., discussed several research questions. He described existing research showing that the genetic influence on the development of homosexuality is relatively small, while showing that the influence of being a victim of child sexual abuse on developing a later same-sex orientation is significant—both of which undermine the theory that people are “born gay.” He discussed follow-up research he has done (but not yet published) concerning children in same-sex or opposite-sex parent households. He also discussed findings regarding the crisis involving sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests. (Dr. Sullins is a Catholic priest himself, albeit an unusual one—he is married, having been a married Episcopal priest before converting to Roman Catholicism.)Carolyn Pela, Ph.D., provided useful training on how to evaluate published research studies. She noted the existence of several different types of studies—exploratory, observational, quasi-experimental, and experimental. Exploratory studies are just that—they simply explore a topic, often through anecdotal accounts, but are incapable of arriving at conclusions that can be generalized to a larger population. Ironically, an often-cited 2002 article on the potential harms of change therapies by Ariel Shidlo and Michael Schroeder was, by its own account, merely an exploratory study, and thus offered no conclusions about the actual prevalence or likelihood of such harm.Observational studies can demonstrate correlations between variables (“A is often accompanied by B”), but cannot definitively prove causation (“A causes B”). However, correlational studies can still be highly important—the conclusion that smoking is associated with lung cancer was based on correlational studies, for example. Only an experimental design can scientifically prove a causal relationship, but that requires the existence of a control group and random assignment to the study group or control group (this is how studies of new drugs are conducted, for instance). But for some research questions, a truly experimental design is either not practical or not ethical—studies of parenting outcomes, for example, would require that children be randomly assigned at birth to parents! Pela also reviewed questionable research practices that can be found in the areas of recruiting, research procedures, and reporting of results.One of the clinical presentations was offered by Joseph Nicolosi, Jr., Ph.D. His father, one of the founders of the Alliance, died suddenly in 2017. Dr. Nicolosi, Jr. is carrying on his father’s work, but re-branding it—quite literally, in that he has trademarked the term “reintegrative therapy” to describe his approach (and to distinguish it from the ill-defined term “conversion therapy”). His father had coined the term “reparative therapy” in the 1990’s, but this was often (mistakenly) taken as implying a view that homosexuals were broken and needed to be “repaired.” Nicolosi, Jr. introduced an approach he calls the “reintegrative protocol,” which he insisted is not premised on any particular view of sexual orientation and can be used by therapists of any ideological persuasion. Its goal, he said, is not to change sexual orientation, but to heal trauma and sexual addiction—but a change in same-sex attractions may sometimes result when the protocol is followed. Two films were also screened at the conference. One, Voices of the Silenced, is an international effort produced by British expert Michael Davidson. It features personal testimonies from clients as well as from experts about the potential for sexual orientation change, while also placing the issue in a larger cultural and historical context, noting how the sexual revolution represents an effort to undo the advances made by Judeo-Christian culture and return to the pagan worldview of ancient Greece and Rome. The other, Free to Love (a 38-minute documentary that can be viewed free online), presents an overview of the debate over SOCE in the American context, and includes interviews with four ex-gay men as well as the views of attendees at a Gay Pride event.Although geared largely for therapists, the Alliance conference is an important event every year for public education and networking as well. With the freedom to seek change ever more under attack, the Alliance is a vital ally in promoting the truth and protecting clients’ rights to self-determination.
For Christian bakery owners Amy and Daniel McArthur, one chapter of their fight for religious freedom has come to a close. The owners of the Ashers Baking Company in Northern Ireland received a unanimous ruling from the UK’s highest court that they were entitled to decline baking a cake that spoke a message of support for same-sex marriage.In 2014, Gareth Lee, a gay rights activist, approached the Belfast branch of the bakery with a request for a cake that would include a slogan that read “Support gay marriage” along with the Sesame Street characters Ernie and Bert. While the bakery had initially taken the request, it later canceled the order and refunded Lee’s money. Immediately, the Northern Irish Equality Commission stepped in, inciting that Lee had been discriminated against based on his sexuality. The bakery stated it didn’t want to make a cake that displayed a message that was against their Christian beliefs. Originally, a Belfast court had ruled favorably for Lee, but the case was taken all the way to the Supreme Court, where all five justices ruled in favor of the McArthurs. One of the judges, Brenda Hale, wrote in her decision: “In a nutshell, the objection was to the message and not to any particular person or persons.” The general manager of Ashers, Daniel McArthur, said “I want to start by thanking God … he has been with us during the challenges of the last four years."This case comes only a few months after Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood Colorado, won his U.S. Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. As with Jack Phillips, the McArthurs have no issue with serving Mr. Lee, as they have said, “We didn’t say no because of the customer; we’d served him before, we’d serve him again. It was because of the message. But some people want the law to make us support something with which we disagree.” It isn’t an objection to Mr. Lee’s character or sexual orientation, but rather the context of the message of his order. The McArthurs are implementing their business by living out the values they conscientiously believe in. They are free to run their business as a Christian business, and there should be no one who can tell them to work differently.The Bible says in James 1:23-25 that “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” The McArthurs are laboring to use their liberty and religious rights to serve Christ in all capacities of their lives, not just in private. Let us pray that they will continue to be strong in obedience to God in what He is calling them to do, as it is highly probable that the McArthurs have not heard the last of this case.We’re all called as Christians to live in the world, but not to live like it. We all have a commitment to God to live as He is calling us to live. In a time where many schools and businesses are curtailing the freedom to live out one’s beliefs, this calling will become more of a challenge. But when we stay committed to following Jesus Christ and trust that He is the Savior, we see the fulfillment it brings to our lives and further confirms the truth of God’s laws. President Ronald Reagan said it best: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” May we fight for these freedoms in each of our unique callings for our children and future generations.James Selvey is an intern at FRC Action.
Peter exhibited GREAT faith when he stepped out on the water... but then he allowed his immediate surroundings to hinder his walk! Peter's faith began with a tremendous bold step, but it required a level of focus that he wasn't used to. Follow through.... that was the problem; those pesky waves, and the way he usually thought about and experienced water; (not something that generally supports your feet)...The post Walk on Water!?! appeared first on Worthy Christian Devotional - Daily Devotions.
UN Secretary-General: Denying Israel's Right To Exist Is Anti-Semitism UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a UNESCO conference on anti-Semitism on Wednesday (26th): “Jews continue to be attacked for no other ... Read MoreThe post October 1, 2018 appeared first on The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.
Your weekly Dose of SpurgeonThe PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 13, sermon number 742, "A sermon to open neglecters and nominal followers of religion." Image result for charles spurgeon"As clearly as actions can speak, you say by your neglect of the Sabbath, by your disregard of prayer, by your never reading the Bible, by your perseverance in known sin, and by the whole course of your life, "I will not.'" Like Pharaoh, you have demanded, “Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice?” You are of the same mind as those of old, who said, “It is vain to serve God, and what profit is there if we keep his ordinances?” Moreover, my friend, you have not as yet given an assent to the doctrines of God's Word; on the contrary, intellectually as well as practically, you go not at God's bidding. You have set up in your mind the idea that you must understand everything before you will believe it—an idea, let me tell you, which you will never be able to carry out, for you cannot understand your own existence; and there are ten thousand other things around you which you never can comprehend, but which you must believe or remain for ever a gigantic fool. Still you cavil at this doctrine and that doctrine, railing at the gospel system in general; and if you were asked at a working man's conference, why you did not go to a place of worship, you would perhaps say that you kept away from worship because you did not like this doctrine or that. Let me say on my own account, that as far as I am personally concerned, it is a very small consideration to me whether you do like my doctrine or do not; for your own sake I am anxious above measure that you should believe the truth as it is in Jesus; but while you live in sin, your dislike of a doctrine, will very probably only make me feel the more sure of its truth, and lead me to preach it with more confidence and vehemence.Think you that we are to learn God's truth from the likings or dislikings of those who refuse to worship him, and want an excuse for their sins. O unconverted men and women, it is very long before we shall come to you to learn what you would have us preach, and when we fall so low as to do that, you yourselves will despise us. What! shall the physician ask his patient what kind of medicine he would wish to have prescribed? Then the man needs no physician, he can prescribe for himself. Show the doctor out at the back door directly. What is the use of such a physician? Of what service is a minister who will truckle to depraved tastes and sinful appetites, and say, “How would you like me to preach to you? What smooth things shall I offer you?” Ah souls! we have some higher end to be served than merely pleasing you. We would save you by distasteful truths, for honeyed lies will ruin you. That teaching which the carnal mind most delights in, is the most deadly and delusive. With many of you, your beliefs, and tastes, and likes, must be changed, or else you will never enter heaven. I admit that in a measure I like your honesty in having said outright, “I will not serve God;” but it is an honesty which makes me shudder, for it betrays a heart hard as the nether millstone.
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