Do efforts to change sexual orientation (‘conversion therapy’) cause harm?


The UK Government has been holding a consultation on the possibility of making illegal ‘conversion therapy’, a provocative term for what is more widely known (in the literature) as SOCE (sexual orientation change efforts), which ends tonight (4th February 2022). Because the term is poorly defined, and explicitly includes ‘talking therapies’ which could include pastoral conversation, several thousand Christian ministers from across churches and traditions have signed a letter to the Home Secretary which you can read here.

There have also been serious questions raised about the methodology involved in framing the questions in the consultation itself, for example issues around the definition of terms, the language used, and the research based, posed by Dr Vincent Harinam of the Cambridge Centre for Evidence-based Policing.

I was therefore very interested when I came across this new research evidence, published two days ago, on the overall harm of SOCE amongst those for whom it has not had the desired effect. The paper concluded:

Despite higher exposure to factors predicting behavioral harm—minority stress, childhood adversity, and lower socioeconomic background—sexual minority persons who had undergone failed SOCE therapy did not suffer higher psychological or social harm. Concerns to restrict or ban SOCE due to elevated harm are unfounded. Further study is needed to clarify the reasons for the absence of harm from SOCE.

Since this appears to be such a sharp contrast to anecdotal accounts of stress and harm from SOCE, I was grateful to be able to ask the author, Dr Paul Sullins, about his research.

IP: What is your background in this area? Why do you have an interest in the question of ’sexual orientation change efforts’ (SOCE), sometimes described as ‘conversion therapy’?

PS: I am a retired professor of sociology from the Catholic University of America.  In my active academic career I studied the intersection of gender and religion, publishing studies on such things as women clergy career paths (“The Stained Glass Ceiling”, 2000) and why women are considered more religious than men (“Gender and Religion” 2006).  In 2015 I retired early to devote myself to addressing issues of sexuality and gender that are entwined with Christian faith and witness today, such as child well-being with same-sex  parents, the effects of divorce on children and of abortion on women, the link between homosexual clergy and child sex abuse in Catholic settings, and whether homosexuality is a fixed innate condition.  The debate over “conversion therapy” goes directly to this last issue.  If someone can change their sexual orientation, and do so intentionally with therapeutic help, then it cannot be a fixed innate condition for that person, and perhaps persons are more free to reject being homosexual than is currently believed in mainstream culture.

IP: How did you undertake this particular piece of research? What was striking about its findings—and how does it differ from previous research? Is there an explanation for these differences?

PS: The premise of almost all research on SOCE therapy outcomes is that homosexual orientation cannot really be changed, so that an attempt to do so results only in self-deception and serious psychological harm.  We hear many stories of LGBT persons about having become suicidal after undergoing SOCE, which pretty accurately reflects the prevailing research evidence, almost all anecdotal or qualitative reports based on small samples.

IP: The article has been published in a peer-reviewed online journal. Why is this important in the current context?

PS: Peer review provides some level of assurance that a study meets minimum standards for quality and objectivity.  It will encourage those skeptical of the study to pay more attention to it.  However, in research on same-sex issues peer review has become highly politicized, with the result that many weak studies are prominently published while strong studies that challenge the prevailing narrative are rejected out of hand for spurious reasons.

On surveys, a majority of secular social scientists say they would consider rejecting a study that they disagreed with, even if it had strong evidence behind it.  Social scientist Jonathan Haidt has written a couple of books about the problem of trenchant confirmation bias throughout the social sciences, which often vitiates the value of peer review today. Some have already predicted that LGBT advocates will call for this study to be retracted.  We will see. 

IP: Here in the UK, we read frequent reports of examples of ‘conversion therapy’ which those involved subsequently regret and, with hindsight, feel were harmful or abusive. How do these examples relate to your overall findings?

PS: Those frequent reports are highly biased and do not present an accurate picture.  This is obvious in two ways.  First, all or almost all the persons we hear expressing regretful hindsight are currently LGBT, which means that (by definition) the SOCE was not successful in their case.  This is like evaluating marriage counseling by getting reports only from couples who subsequently divorced.  Could it be that persons who went through SOCE more successfully, and now identify themselves as heterosexual or ex-gay, might have had a more positive experience?  The LGBT fundamentalists, abetted by media who screen out and cancel such stories, want us to believe such persons don’t exist, but several books of their stories have now been published.  Two academic studies of successful SOCE alumni have come out in the past year, both reporting net positive psychological effects (Sullins and Rosik 2021, “Efficacy and Risk of SOCE“; Pela and Sutton 2021, “Sexual Attraction Fluidity and Well-being in Men“).  British population data tell us that more people have left same-sex partnerings to take up heterosexual partnerships than have remained with that behavior (the linked article reports (p. 1784) that while 8% of currently sexually active British men have ever had a same-sex partner, only 2.6% have done so in the past five years.  The corresponding figures for women (p. 1786) are 11.5% lifetime, 3.2% past five years).  But have you ever heard even one popular media story of a happy ex-gay who is thankful for his SOCE experience? We are only getting one side.

The other indication of bias is the infrequency of accounts, and the complete absence of any negative accounts, of outcomes following gay-affirming therapy.  We know that affirming same-sex attraction or gay identity has negative results for some people.  Ex-gays often report that this was true for them.  In my recent findings, almost a third of LGB persons, four times more than underwent SOCE, reported that they had tried to stop being attracted to persons of the same sex.  A study by pro-gay scholars last Spring reported that suicide attempts were 45% higher among LGB persons who came of age in the early 2000s, when society was more affirming of homosexuality, than they were among those who came of age in the 1960s, when intolerance was much higher. This bias is absolute in the scholarly literature; while there have been dozens of studies of outcomes following SOCE, I do not know of a single study of outcomes following gay-affirming therapy.  In the data I examined, which came from the Williams Institute, a large pro-gay advocacy and research institute, they did not even ask about it.

Every therapy strategy has successes and failures, and you can always find someone to praise or blame it.  The importance of my recent findings is that they look at a random sample of the relevant population, to compare the rate of benefit and harm for LGB persons who have undergone SOCE and those who haven’t, and finds that, on balance, the two groups are statistically identical for multiple measures of current behavioral harm, including suicidal morbidity, self-harm (cutting), and substance abuse. The probability of harm is not increased by having undergone SOCE.

This finding is notable because the SOCE participants experienced higher minority stress, negative childhood conditions and lower socioeconomic status, all of which predict higher harm or lower well-being, yet following SOCE their level of harm was no higher than their peers who had not experienced these conditions.  This suggests that undergoing SOCE may alleviate or protect against harm from other causes.

This conclusion contradicts a large number of studies that report substantial harm following SOCE, particularly increased suicidal behavior.  Only four such studies used a representative (random) sample, however, and all four failed to distinguish suicidal behavior before SOCE from that following it.  I found that suicidal behavior is much higher before SOCE (perhaps prompting the recourse to therapy) but not afterward.  In fact, suicide attempts are significantly reduced following SOCE—the opposite of what is widely claimed.

IP: What can churches and those involved in ministry learn from both your research and the examples we hear about?

PS: I think the most important result of my research for ministry is that it confirms that what the Bible teaches about homosexuality is true.  Isolation, struggle, the importance of men and women for each other and for their children, the power of the truth of the body and consequences for rejecting it, all are highlighted both in scripture and in the empirical data.  We are bombarded with so much propaganda to accept homosexuality as normal, even benevolent, for persons who experience it.  In many settings there are calls for the Biblical understanding to be “updated” with a supposedly softer approach to homosexuality that does not see it as sinful.  My research confirms the idea that this is actually more harmful to homosexual persons, whether struggling or not, than the Bible’s account of sin, grace and redemption.  If I don’t think my sin is really sin, then I am stuck in it forever, but when I learn the truth, even hard truth, I can be set free.  I recently saw a sign at a church that says it well on this point: “Don’t change the message; let the message change you.”

IP: You might be aware that the UK Government is currently undertaking a consultation on outlawing ‘conversion therapy’—and other countries have already enacted such laws. Does your research have any bearing on these proposals?

PS: Certainly.  To the extent that a ban is motivated by avoiding harm it is unnecessary, if my findings are correct.  In fact, such a ban may do more harm than good.  For at least two of the four other representative sample studies in this area, the failure to account for pre-existing distress is not inadvertent, but intentional, by scholars who maintain that even prior distress invalidates SOCE.  This backwards logic may bring about the very harm such scholars and advocates say they want to prevent. I argue: “It would be a perverse policy indeed, for example, for heart surgery to be discouraged or even banned because those undergoing it experienced higher rates of cardiac dysfunction than the general population before the surgery.” And conclude: “Concerns to restrict or ban SOCE due to elevated harm are unfounded.”

IP: What further areas of research do you think are needed here? What further research are you planning?

PS: The politicized debate over SOCE has distracted research and policy from the startling fact that the suicide rate for LGB persons is over five times that of the general population, and is growing.  Almost a third (30%) of under-30 LGB persons have attempted suicide, compared to under 5% of all youth.  Meyer (2021) calls that fact “alarming”, and calls for further research on why LGB persons are prone to suicide.  I agree.  I think part of the problem, though, is Meyer’s minority stress theory, the idea that negative outcomes for LGB persons are due largely or wholly to societal stigma, which forestalls research into the real reasons, or more likely causes, that LGB persons are prone to suicide.  If you have already decided that LGB persons’ problems are due entirely to their social environment, you end up not exploring things that they could do to better their own health and wellbeing.  I am currently working on this question, as well as an examination of population trends in sexual orientation change.

IP: Thanks so much for your time, and sharing the results of your research. I hope we can keep in touch and keep the conversation going!


Dr. Paul Sullins is Senior Research Associate of the Ruth Institute and Research Professor of Sociology at the Catholic University of America.  He has written four books and over 150 scientific journal articles, book chapters and research reports on issues of faith and culture, including “Absence of Behavioral Harm Following Non-efficacious Sexual Orientation Change Efforts”, “SOCE reduces suicide: Correcting a false research narrative” (conditionally forthcoming, Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2022);  “Efficacy and risk of sexual orientation change efforts” (F1000Research, March 2021; with Christopher Rosik and Paul Santero) and “The Case for Mom and Dad” (Linacre Quarterly, May 2021).  He has also published “Invisible Victims: Delayed Onset Depression among Adults with Same-Sex Parents” (Depression and Research Treatment, Sept 2016), “Emotional Problems among Children with Same-sex Parents: Difference by Definition” (British Journal of Education, Society and Behavioural Science 7(2):99-120 (February 2015), and “The Unexpected Harm of Same-Sex Marriage” (British Journal of Education, Society and Behavioural Science (August 2015),  all available via Pubmed or at http://ssrn.com/author=2097328. Formerly Episcopalian, Dr. Sullins is a married Catholic priest. He and his wife Patricia have an inter-racial family of three children, two adopted.


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185 thoughts on “Do efforts to change sexual orientation (‘conversion therapy’) cause harm?”

  1. What an immensely helpful article. The very existence of information provides encouragement to people to stand up for what is true and most helpful to people who are same sex attracted.

    Thank you Dr. Paul Sullins and thank you Ian.

    I just want to make a few general comments about the place of conversion therapy.

    Is there any reason to think of same sex attraction as being of a fundamentally different nature to other forms of brokenness (note that I didn’t call it sin – but note that I am not calling it part of God’s design either)? I do not believe so. And since we don’t prescribe particular solutions for other ways in which people are less than whole (for example how many churches would consider the right path forward for a person with a short temper that they have therapy?) I cannot see any reason why we would treat same sex attraction differently.

    The older I get the more convinced I am about the fact that rummaging around within people where their brokenness and pain exists can be very unhelpful. Taking for example a broken marriage whatever it reveals about me I am currently of the opinion that there is really only one way for broken marriages to move towards unity – and that isn’t by talking a lot of things through. The solution with situations of disunity, brokenness and sin is to draw a line – the line being repentance – one or both parties choosing complete unity with God. This having happened the only reason to look backward – namely to consider the relationship of the past to being right with God – has been given its place – no other reason for looking back has any guaranteed benefit. The important thing is to ‘change the game’ – to ensure that whatever happens in a broken marriage is from that point on only positive. If one party is not committed to seeking God things may remain divided. However when both parties are on their own path towards change then the marriage is benefiting from new ongoing resources – the key one being God’s transforming love. If in any situation of brokenness time sees no new harm being done – and whatever is happening being positive – it stands to reason that even if it takes a long time the person or persons must be on a path to healing. Whereas therapy – or “talking it over” – provides no such guarantee.

    Better to adopt a path forward which is led by God – and which is constantly dependent on people actively choosing to submit only to him.

    I have in recent times been thinking about how secondary schools can best deal with issues relating to same sex attraction. My conclusion is that to take the blunt instrument approach of exploring everyone’s sexuality – thereby turning people’s emerging sexuality into something which is made primary – and taken too seriously when it is changing – leading to it becoming a matter of identity – is a completely disastrous approach. Schools should instead focus on their students having healthy relationships with both boys and girls – and them being shown how to grow in the character necessary to have successful relationships. But this approach should not stop with young adults – I believe the same counsel applies to how churches should handle the same issues with adults – it’s going to be unhelpful if issues with people’s sexuality are majored on while their common humanity is minored on. Many people will find a path to healing if they can just find a circumstance where they are connected with God – where things are stable – where they are not treated as “special”. We are all sinners – we are all broken.

    The way in which the C of E has chosen to put sexuality centre stage is by its very nature (no matter what decisions it makes) deeply unloving – incredibly selfish. No-one who was sensitive to the needs of people dealing with various attractions would choose this path. But we know from any amount of evidence that current decisions aren’t being made in the name of seeking the best welfare of people sorting through issues with their sexuality.

    Reply
    • You are right about the counterproductivity of airing grievances.
      (1) Psychiatrists (and agony aunts and uncles) are below the average person in marital stability, which defeats their object and really puts their profession in question insofar as it touches on that area.
      (2) To air grievances is to take sin and unsteadfastness seriously as one of the viable options!! Rather than having done with it,as would happen even in the context of schoolchildren. This is a facet of adult immaturity.

      Reply
  2. Lots about this is troubling.

    1. The general bias trends in social-science scholarship, which go both ways.

    2. The dismissal of research, even peer-reviewed, on the basis of the (assumed) political/religious/activist affiliation of the person(s) who wrote it. I have read Haidts book, it’s very good.

    3. The ambiguity of language meaning two people can be debating fundamentally the same thing but unable to understand it.

    4. The appeal to emotion and anecdote to overturn statistics and research, again something that runs both ways.

    5. The ever-increasing in volume voice of those with little to no experience of the field, so that the debate is not being shaped by those with the skills and knowledge to make informed and reasoned decisions, but by majority (or sometimes even minority) rule.

    This could be said of many areas of academia of course, but it is frustrating that our post-modern culture makes reaching a consensus damn near impossible, to the detriment of those that real need clarity.

    Reply
    • Good to see you yesterday, and thanks for the comments. Paul himself might comment, but just to note he is not disagreeing with Haidt, but highlighting the problem with much ‘peer reviewed research’. You might be interested in this, which shows that even in the hard sciences the ‘peer review’ process is failing. https://youtu.be/42QuXLucH3Q

      I am not sure that Paul would disagree with your other points; all he is saying is that the claims of campaigners on this don’t stand up to scrutiny.

      (I now realise, on re-reading your question, that you might mean the article highlights troubling things, rather than, this article is faulty…)

      Reply
      • Peer review,
        Even a number of years ago, due to his concern over the extent of poor or no peer review and none disclosure in research in the NHS Sir Muir Grey was instrumental in establishing the Cochrane Library.
        A personal example was that after a stroke I was asked to complete a questionnaire asking on a scale of 1-10 could I carry out certain activities. And the huge fla? I was not asked the extent I could do them before the stroke!

        As for suicide ideation there needs to be comparisons with suicide ideation in different population demographics and uses of different scales of depression.
        It is not always down to biology, if I read Christopher correctly?

        Reply
      • “(I now realise, on re-reading your question, that you might mean the article highlights troubling things, rather than, this article is faulty…)”

        Yes, I am in broad agreement with the article, as usual. I am troubled because I do not think it is going to be as easy to convince others of these statistics as it perhaps should be, and because I worry that the piece of research behind this article is likely to be dismissed out of hand by the government on the grounds that the people it upsets (that is to say, the lobby groups claiming to speak on behalf of LBGT people) are likely to cause more problems for them….

        Reply
  3. While this is really interesting, there are a number of concerns with this work which, sadly, reduce its significance:

    1. The sample number for those undertaking conversion therapy is small. This is important because psychiatric and social sciences peer-reviewed articles are rather famous for being unreproducible (one study at least noted that 90% of all articles in these fields cannot be replicated) and as it stands the study would be of questionable significance. This does rather feed into the Royal College of Psychiatrists narrative that states “Systematic reviews carried out by both the APA5 and Serovich et al suggest that studies which have shown conversion therapies to be successful are seriously methodologically flawed”.

    2. By contrast, another study does seek to imply harm (this, itself could be questioned, but it shows the wider issues) https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/press/lgb-suicide-ct-press-release/

    3. Articles seeking to raise concerns with Conversion Therapy in legal journals focus on whether the therapy is not only tortuous (this feeds into the author’s article) but also *degrading* treatment… which this study does not address.

    https://academic.oup.com/ojls/advance-article/doi/10.1093/ojls/gqab024/6333646

    https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/legal-studies/article/abs/is-conversion-therapy-tortious/6C8C4EDF829BE722AB7A7184E0CE6EBD,

    Reply
  4. It has long been known that LGBT suicidality, which is very high, does not become lower with acceptance or in accepting countries. However, suicidality by nature is to do with being out of kilter or mixed up or estranged, and acting out of kilter with one’s biology is already one absolutely fundamental way that a person could (or: very likely would) feel out of kilter.

    Reply
    • Yes. If we are talking about people whose despair reaches the point of their choosing to taking their own life – or their asking if life is worth living – it’s clear that only responses which provide real input in respect of what it means to exist will provide any help. Which is why for the sake of best helping same sex attracted people churches must be strong – speak up.

      Reply
  5. A timely and helpful article. Moments before I read it I had written to Avaaz in response to their campaign email against conversion therapy. I noted they had not footnoted any references and so I have asked them to provide them for their claims of ‘torture’, numbers offered therapy and numbers of those who accepted (‘Roughly 7% of LGBTQ+ people have been offered or undergone conversion practises’), or that those seeking to speak on the other side of the argument were ‘homophobes and hatemongers’. I await with interest their response.

    Reply
  6. Here’s a timely and well-researched book relevant to this discussion, recently published in the US:

    Still Time to Care: What We Can Learn from the Church’s Failed Attempt to Cure Homosexuality (Zondervan 2021), by Greg Johnson (M.Div., Ph.D.)

    https://www.amazon.com/Still-Time-Care-Churchs-Homosexuality/dp/0310140935/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3SZXTR59CXFY0&keywords=still+time+to+care+greg+johnson&qid=1643979150&s=books&sprefix=still+time+to+c%2Cstripbooks%2C219&sr=1-1

    Reply
    • Excellent prioritisation of care, though any dichotomy between care and cure is not as excellent. The 2 words and concepts overlap closely. Care is often remedial.

      Reply
  7. Well, I haven’t seen any reference to SOCE in the Holy Writ – and I have read all of it. I’m therefore at a loss to know what it entails and how it works.

    Do they show pictures of nice girls – and play some nice music by Mozart (or one of that crowd) in the background – thus associating girls with nice things in the mind of the gay man? And do they then show pictures of men – and play some horrible punk rock music – thus associating men with bad things?

    If so, then what happens if the ex-gay man then falls in love with a woman who turns out to be a dead head (someone who enjoys listening to punk rock music by a rock group called The Grateful Dead) and who does not like Mozart?

    I’m curious as to what this therapy is supposed to entail – especially if it is done under the auspices of some church – because I haven’t seen the slightest mention of this sort of thing in Scripture.

    Reply
    • Does this mean that you avoid asprin…. and ignore approaching buses? Neither is in scripture as far as I recall… And I’ve read it all.

      Winks… I can’t fathom your logic.

      Reply
      • Ian – my problem is that I really haven’t a clue what this conversion therapy entails.

        Imagine that you were on the council of elders of a church and the council took the view that two of the brothers (say semmit and drawers) seemed to have an unhealthy liaison.

        Suppose it were tasked to you to explain to semmit that his association with drawers wasn’t in his best interest and he’d be much better off taking an interest in women.

        How would you go about doing this?

        You see, I have no idea how this conversion therapy is supposed to work.

        Reply
  8. The ‘mentalist’ Derren Brown is on record as saying that he underwent Christian SOCE, saying that whilst it did not change his orientation he had valued the opportunity it gave him for serious discussion. It may be significant that his ‘testimony’ is never referred to by anti-SOCE proponents.

    Reply
  9. Alongside (so to speak) more than 600 people, I was privileged recently to be present at a webinar organised by The Christian Institute. The two key speakers were Ian (Paul) and Matthew Roberts.Both gave concise yet thorough insights on the theme of “Conversion Therapy”; with particular reference to the current (and possible future ) state of play between church and state.
    I am grateful to Ian , Matthew and the Christian Institute for a worthwhile evening; informative – but also a tad foreboding!And additional thanks to Ian for including this
    worthwhile sequel on his blogsite!

    Reply
  10. Bias in scholarship goes both ways; and I can tell you from my own participation in SOCE that the result was that nobody changed in the programs I attended. Those that do initially report change generally can’t sustain it as it seems to be more “suppression” and positive thought than actual long term change. I know numbers of people who married women and for whom it ended in divorce. The overall results I’ve heard reported are similar. For me, it did cause lasting harm, perhaps because I’m more sensitive than some, and perhaps not helped by other tragedy in my life. The reality though is that many of us just want to live normal lives, not in any crazy “lifestyle” – maybe a partner, a dog, some good experiences, and for some us, a chance to make a difference for Christ.

    If it’s helpful, there are meta-studies on success of SOCE available. The failure rate in itself gives a clue as to whether it’s harmful, but I guess the fundamental question has to be whether it’s worth continuing a practice that has a virtually nonexistent success rate, apart from the occasional bi-sexual person.

    Reply
    • Thank you for sharing your experience. Can I ask if you participated willingly, and at whose initiative?

      As with all these areas, the data around efficacy is highly contested, and Sullins explores why that is in the discussion.

      Personally, I have never been involved in any kind of SOCE, and would certainly not propose this. As far as I can read the Scriptures, God is not interested in whether any of us is straight or gay—in fact those are categories with which Scripture will not deal.

      What matters is our obedience to God’s call to live out our identity as humans, made in the image of God male and female, and therefore in either faithful and fruitful male-female marriage or fruitful singleness.

      Reply
      • Hi Ian, I participated via general recommendation (“it would be a good idea to find something”) from the very few friends and leaders I’d told. And it was at my initiative.

        Reply
      • Yet you have published a damaging letter to the secretary of state! Me thinks you’re lying – why would you go to such lengths as organising an open letter in support of conversion therapy if in fact you wouldn’t actually propose this? Liar.

        Reply
    • Brian ….. in other words, SOCE applied to men is something that can be very harmful for women. Gay man undergoes SOCE, marries a woman and has children, then decides that he is gay after all, comes out to himself one day and then comes out to God and to his wife the next day – and they end up getting divorced. I think that this is despicable behaviour on the part of the man – although it may ultimately be the fault of the Orwellian brain police who are advocating the SOCE.

      I have one acquaintance who is gay. We do not talk about this aspect of his life very much at all – we’re much more likely to talk about whether the grave should be repeated in the sonata pathetique or how to do a reasonable fingering for the sonata by Alban Berg (or whether indeed the Alban Berg piano sonata really should have been arranged as a string quintet in the first place), but he has made one or two cryptic remarks on this topic: (a) preference for other men was something he was born with and (b) in a relationship, what goes on over the kitchen table has much more significance than anything that goes on in the bedroom (he seems to be well organised – and he does have a life partner).

      I’m left thinking that all this SOCE business looks like some sort of Orwellian nightmare – and that it would be much better for the church to accept that some men would prefer their life partner to be another man – the constraint that this should be done within the context of Christian ethics (eg Leviticus 18:22).

      Reply
  11. I have no idea what SOCE entails, but I’d say it doesn’t fall within the framework of what the church should be doing.

    The main function of the church is to proclaim the gospel message, which includes what sin is (and this includes Leviticus 18:22), the call to repentance, the message of the crucifixion and resurrection.

    There are various phases in the response to this message:

    1. The person hearing doesn’t take it seriously, `I don’t need to repent’. They may go to church because friends and family are there, just out of curiosity, etc …., but basically nothing happens.

    2. The person begins to understand that he/she needs to repent, but at the same time, `I don’t want to repent.’ This is when you get a serious reaction against the gospel message, for example the Apostle Paul before his conversion on the road to Damascus. While he was persecuting the Christians, he was not behaving like a man who thought that the gospel message was of any value; people who thought this were convinced that Christianity would be a passing phase and that the followers would disperse. While he was persecuting the Christians, the gospel message was acting on his heart and mind, he was beginning to understand that it applied to him, he did need to repent, but he rejected this with every fibre of his being.

    3. The person then comes to the understanding that they do need to repent, but they find that they cannot repent.

    4. At this stage, through the work of the Holy Spirit, they can repent and they come to faith.

    With this conversion therapy business – this is something completely new, which was never in existence throughout either Old Testament times or right up to the year 2000. It didn’t exist. Suddenly this completely new idea breaks in on the scene.

    So you can forgive me for being sceptical (although nobody has explained to me what it entails).

    It seems to me that people who volunteer to undergo SOCE are probably basically already there – understood their need for repentance – so that the Holy Spirit is already working on their hearts and minds to make this effective and bring them to faith.

    So this (a) seems to me like a completely new idea and (b) an idea that is probably of little value.

    Reply
  12. Sullins says “British population data tell us that more people have left same-sex partnerings to take up heterosexual partnerships than have remained with that behaviour” with a link to an article in The Lancet. I have read through that article and cannot find anything backing up this statement. It sounds completely false to me. Can you clarify please?

    Reply
  13. “British population data tell us that more people have left same-sex partnerings to take up heterosexual partnerships than have remained with that behavior. ”
    This sounds highly significant but the link takes me to a paper in the Lancet in which I cannot find any trace of what is asserted. Is the link wrong?

    Reply
    • No, it is correct. A couple of us were also surprised on reading this, and asked Paul for support. I have added into the text his explanation of it, from the data about past and recent sexual experience.

      Peter Ould commented on Facebook: ‘I was intrigued by this claim as well Gary and asked for it to be backed up. FWIW, I agree with you that it can mean anything from teenage experimentation to a long term relationship, so I think Sullin is overstretching here. That said, Ian is right to point us to good research on sexual fluidity. I like to go to Lisa Diamond on this subject who surprised herself when she researched and found much higher levels of fluidity amongst men than she had expected.

      The true position is probably somewhere between thinking of orientation as ‘fixed’ and Sullin’s and certainly demands further specific study.’

      Reply
  14. A wider point here is that at its basic level a crime is an act against the the State. In England and Wales, that involves tax payer funded prosecution by the police and Crown Prosecution service v the individual. The would be no equal access to the law.
    And, unless there is a strict liability crime, criminal intent is required, express or implied. So far, the way it is proposed, from what was described on the Christian Institute hosted vlog it seems that criminal intent will be automatically inferred, probably also switching the burden of proof (as to lack of intent) onto the accused, or making the offence to be a one of strict liablity.
    And the idea that it has been lumped in with a range of Offences against the Person including a sexual offence of rape, seems to me to be indicative the political push and clout of minority activists and paucity of thoughtful, logical balance, with the primary target being Christianity, with a complete ignorance or dismissal of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Hostility, ridicule, mockery, persecution, indifference. It was ever thus.
    We all need Jesus even while we were his enemies.
    And prayer can not be banned – But when you pray go into your room… Matthew 6:6

    Reply
  15. I do not know what SOCE entails but I suspect it has huge variations, from shouting and seeking the exorcise the “gay demon” to quiet discussion and prayer about somones orientation. In some instances it could be traumatic. I sounds as if any proposed ban intends to draw a wide net. It is troubling as a volunteer youth worker how do I respond to young person concerned about their sexual oreintation?

    Reply
    • The way to avoid being caught in that wide net is to stop having conversations about sexual orientations and identities. Simply teach the Christian sexual ethic – which is abstinence as a single person and fidelity as a married person (original definition of marriage). If anyone wants to talk about their sexuality, let them but remind them that the Bible doesn’t have a lot to say about that topic (because it’s a modern idea).

      Reply
          • As Joe adhered to the original definition of marriage (man and woman), and as you dispute that same-sex marriage is an aberration, how can you agree with him?

          • Where he described “the Christian sexual ethic – which is abstinence as a single person and fidelity as a married person (original definition of marriage)”, of course.

          • Can you stop this dishonesty, Penelope, of attributing words and thoughts to people that you know are so very distant from any they would lay claim to.

          • Anton

            All the married same-sex couples I know are faithful.

            Christopher

            I think it’s Anton who is attributing things that weren’t said.

          • I could also, of course quibble with the ‘original definition of marriage’, which is a bit – unnuanced – shall we say.
            But I didn’t.

          • Penelope: The original meaning of marriage came from Genesis 2:24 (and yes I have checked the Hebrew). That’s man and woman.

          • I am asking you what you think the meaning of marriage is. Then we can compare with what is said in Genesis 2:24: man and woman in a relationship that is intimate, exclusive, permanent and public.

          • Ah, I see. The passage refers to union, but not specifically to marriage. Nor is it ‘wife’ in the original.
            But also the second human is flesh of my flesh. That is a delighted recognition of similarity, not difference.

          • But also the second human is flesh of my flesh. That is a delighted recognition of similarity, not difference.

            It’s a recognition that she is the missing part of him. That’s what ‘flesh of my flesh’ means: she was literally (in the story) made from a piece of him, the rib, which was removed. The part which was taken out of him, and whose reintegration into one flesh re-makes the whole. Another man, identical to him, made from the dust as he was would not have been ‘flesh of my flesh’; but a woman, the missing part of him, removed and now restored, is ‘flesh of my flesh’

            So similarity, yes, but complementarity not sameness: two of the same thing don’t fit together to make a whole; for that you need a nut and a bolt, a plug and a socket, a yin and a yang, not two bolt, two socket, or two yins.

        • So silencing a section of the population who would like to talk things over is progress?

          Discriminating against them by saying that they alone have no access to such talking-over is also progress?

          Not allowing a married man to chat about lessening his potentially disruptive feelings is progress?

          Do you think the later the date the greater the progress? I wish it were true, rather than being true in some ways and not others. At the Proms &c, there is a preponderance of 18th-19th century to this day.

          Reply
          • Andrew,
            There is ideed a gulf between us if you prefer the lyrics if any Abba song to those of Kendrick’s, *All I once held dear built my life upon…*
            We have a number of Steely Dan vinyls from our pre-Christian life, and jazz, but they are far off the mark when it comes to the worship of Jesus. Even Coltrane’s Love Supreme would be incoherent and incomprehensible in a Christian worship service.
            Admit it, Andrew- you a just an old throwback, seeking to superimposed the sexual mores and post-modern cultures of those days as absolutes on the Christian Church today.

          • Hi Chris

            It is possible to have eclectic musical tastes. I spent three and a half hours last night listening to the best opera ever written (IMHO) – Don Giovanni.
            Doesn’t stop me liking ABBA though!

          • Geoff: With the Abba song “Knowing me, knowing you” in mind, I have trouble not singing “Uh-huuuh” immediately after the line “Knowing you, Jesus” in Kendrick’s song.

            Penelope: Good to agree with you about something. The masked trio in Don Giovanni is out of this world.

          • Anton,
            If you were on the way to the operating theatre for a triple bypass surgery I’m not sure you’d be singing any of Abba’s theology, as my wife, a sister in the Lord, and I sang together,
            Kendrick’s, All I once held dear…
            And as for Andrew saying that I’d not recalled this correctly, his preference for Abba. I really can’t be bothered to trace in Ian’s blog posts over the years ( if still there) what was written and detail of the context (and on one occasion I did mention the the song in withbrefernce to my operation. But AG was deriding modern songs and lyrics either by Kendrick or Townend, by stating a preference for Abba. The context was wordship songs.

          • Geoff: if I were on my way to the operating theatre for a major operation then I wouldn’t be singing Kendrick.

          • Anton,
            Would you be singing at all, expessing your faith how, internally inarticulate, bringing scripture to mind. Faith to die, to know Jesus even more; nearer my God to thee? Blessed Assurance Jesus is mine, O what a foretaste of glory divine?

          • I don’t know. If it felt right for the two of us to sing something devotional, it wouldn’t be Kendrick is all I’m saying.

          • But it is for entirely classical reasons that ABBA are appreciated, since they share with classical writers and almost no-one else the threefold mastery of melody, harmony and rhythm.

            The lyrics are not by any means in the same class, the words kitsch and naff springing to mind.

          • The lyrics are not by any means in the same class, the words kitsch and naff springing to mind.

            Shut your mouth! There’s a chutzpah to Abba’s lyrics that almost no one else can match. Who else would have the sheer gall to contort the syntax of a line like ‘You were, I felt, robbing me of ,y rightful chances’? Or to rhyme ‘Glasgow’ with ‘last show’?

        • Dear me Andrew, that is such a facile, simplistic, fallacy and error if category that it has the sound of tedious trolling, just for the sake of it.

          Reply
          • Didn’t you know AG has moved on to like Abba, perhaps singing their hymn to postmodernity, Money. Money, Money (unredacted) in his preference to Graham Kendrick’s, All I once held, dear, Knowing you Jesus.

          • That’s a fair point Joe.
            Love, of course, is the greatest value and that is why our relationships with each other and God need to exhibit that value above all else. Same sex relationships *can* exhibit that value. LLF is called Living in Love and Faith for a good reason. And of course it attests to the love that is found in same sex relationships.
            And whilst the bible may not use the term sexuality one only has to read the Song of Songs to realise that the concept was known.

            Geoff: if you are going to repeat things please be accurate. I said that particular Graham Kendrick song sounded like an Abba title – Knowing me, knowing you – and that I preferred the music of Abba to that of Kendrick. I don’t happen to like the Abba song you mention. Personal choice you see? I much prefer the music of Steely Dan to either.
            We discovered at the cathedral where I worked that jazz worked extremely well for our central Sunday morning service on several occasions.

          • AG: Love, of course, is the greatest value and that is why our relationships with each other and God need to exhibit that value above all else. Same sex relationships *can* exhibit that value.

            Nobody is going to disagree with the first sentance but you know your second sentance requires (in part) a switch to a different meaning of love. There remain forms of ‘love’ that, if expressed in a sexual way, are considered sinful by all Christians and sometimes also illegal.

          • Well I guess therein lies the debate Joe. I’m not sure what you are meaning when you say that some forms of love are illegal so you will need to spell that out.
            Same sex love is not considered sinful by all Christians. Again, LLF makes this clear.

          • Love, of course, is the greatest value

            This seems awfully close to setting ‘love’ up as an idol.

            God is love. Love is not god.

          • Andrew: I’m not sure what you are meaning when you say that some forms of love are illegal.

            Incest is still illegal – even when individuals first meet each other as adults (typically following adoption). Polygamy is still illegal in this country – although tolerated at a functional level.

            The law now assumes an ethic based on autonomy + consent but the taboo on some non-normative sexualities is more expansive than a restriction on non-consensual acts. People who are attracted to children or animals are still considered disordered even when they don’t express those sexual orientations.

          • Joe I’m not sure of your point.
            Same sex attracted people are quite capable of loving each other without causing harm to others. There is nothing illegal. The other possibilities you raise are illegal because they are capable of causing harm to others.

          • <iSame sex attracted people are quite capable of loving each other without causing harm to others. There is nothing illegal. The other possibilities you raise are illegal because they are capable of causing harm to others.

            (a) that’s not true. Incest is not capable of causing harm to others (especially if contraception is used so there are no offspring) yet it is still illegal.

            (b) not all things that are sinful are illegal (lying is sinful but not illegal; adultery is sinful but not illegal) and ‘harm’ has never been the criteria by which Christians have judged whether things are sinful or not, so whether things are not capable of causing harm is irrelevant to whether things are sinful.

          • Andrew: The other posibilities you raise are illegal because they are capable of causing harm to others.
            In reference to my first example – when biological close relatives first meet as adults what harm is caused when they fall in love (strong sexual and emotional attractions are a real risk when adopted/fostered individuals trace their birth families)?
            Do polygamous family units necessarily agree that their living arrangements are harmful?

          • S: ‘harm’ has never been the criteria by which Christians have judged whether things are sinful or not

            You are inviting others to play more word games. But yeah, atheism is profoundly sinful yet ‘harmless’.

          • Joe – yes of course you are correct. But that’s why I carefully worded my answer and used the phrase *capable of*.
            It’s a question of where the line is drawn. *On balance* those things which are made illegal are likely to cause greater harm than greater good. *On balance* same sex relationships will not. If conversion therapy is made illegal it will be because *on balance* it is likely to cause greater harm.
            I think efforts to define love are fraught with complexity in the English language.

          • I think efforts to define love are fraught with complexity in the English language.

            If that is true than you can’t use ‘Love is the greatest value; X exhibits love; therefore X must be good’ as a knock-down argument, as you did in https://www.psephizo.com/sexuality-2/do-efforts-to-change-sexual-orientation-conversion-therapy-cause-harm/comment-page-1/#comment-403694

            You can’t base your knock-down argument on a concept that you are unable to define because trying to do so is ‘fraught with complexity’.

            If you can’t define it, then you have no idea what you are or are not admitting under its aegis. You cannot then be sure that it is including al you think should be included and excluding all you wish to exclude.

            What is more, if defining it is ‘fraught with complexity’ then you cannot know that someone else is not using a completely different definition of it to you.

            If you really think that defining ‘love’ is ‘fraught with complexity’ then you must stop using it as a basis of your arguments.

          • If conversion therapy is made illegal it will be because *on balance* it is likely to cause greater harm.

            Not necessarily. Lots of things are made illegal not because of any harm they cause but because of the politician’s fallacy: ‘we must do something; this is something; therefore we must do this’.

            If conversion therapy is made illegal it may just be because a beleaguered Downing Street needed a couple of days of positive headlines from an anti-Christian media.

          • S: If conversion therapy is made illegal it may just be because a beleaguered Downing Street needed a couple of days of positive headlines from an anti-Christian media.

            There is a risk of that happening. Conversion therapy doesn’t exist anymore – so the supporters of the ban must be aiming for something else (some of the key players are keen on controlling what anyone can say about sexual ethics). Too bad they coupled their ban with the gender identity stuff – which is getting far more push-back from groups (secular feminist) that the government isn’t so willing to dismiss as irrelevant.

          • Too bad they coupled their ban with the gender identity stuff – which is getting far more push-back from groups (secular feminist) that the government isn’t so willing to dismiss as irrelevant.

            Fascinating, isn’t it? It seems that the ultimate goal of the ‘queering’ project, to entirely divorce words from material reality so that new social structures can be constructed simply by redefining and enforcing particular language usage without reference to the real world — a sort of weaponised Sapir–Whorf hypothesis — has run up against the fact that some material realities are so plain and obvious to all but the extremely highly-educated that people will rebel on being told they have to pretend they don’t exist for the sake of linguistic conformity.

            Things it makes me wonder include: is this a hard limit to people’s credulity? Are the real differences between the sexes simply so obvious that people would never accept that they could be replaced by ‘gender identity’? Or did they overreach themselves and, high on their success with redefining marriage (a process which started in the 1920s, remember, and moved slowly through the institutions), think they could simply impose the redefinition of the sexes in a few years by stealth, and therefore failed when they might have succeeded had they taken their time to soften up public opinion?

            Clearly they realised that public opinion was against the project, hence the attempts to go ‘under the radar’ and convince legislators to do the deed on the Q.T., hence the strategies in the Dentons report I linked to in https://www.psephizo.com/sexuality-2/can-the-c-of-e-ever-bridge-its-differences-on-sexuality/comment-page-1/#comment-403205 — so presumably they had at that point a choice over whether to go quickly and attempt to push the redefinitions in law through before people realised, or slowly and try to win over the public. They chose the quick method and its blown up in their faces: was it impatience? Arrogance? Sheer contempt for normal people or ‘deplorables’ as they call them?

            Or was it a deliberate attempt to move to a post-totalitarian state of the kind Vaçlav Havel described, where people are forced to mouth statements they don’t believe, and in so doing become complicit in dishonesty and lose all moral standing to insist on truth in any area?

            Either way, thank goodness the queering project has hit what seems to be a brick wall.

          • S: Either way, thank goodness the queering project has hit what seems to be a brick wall.

            There is a faddish element to being an LGBTQ ally. In some respects it’s a bit passé like getting a tattoo. It’s still an easy way for middle-aged people to gain virtue points but younger people seem to be a bit bored with it all (except the controlling, moralistic cancel culture types)

          • There is a faddish element to being an LGBTQ ally. In some respects it’s a bit passé like getting a tattoo. It’s still an easy way for middle-aged people to gain virtue points but younger people seem to be a bit bored with it all (except the controlling, moralistic cancel culture types)

            I’ve certainly heard that support for the madness is broad amongst the young but not deep: most of them parrot the mantras not because they believe them but just because it’s what you are supposed to say these days.

            If true — and I have no real way to tell — then in one way it’s good as it suggests that the whole movement might well crumble from underneath once enough of them start to point out that the emperor has no clothes on to start a cascade effect. At that point it doesn’t matter how much the billionaires backing the movement spend.

            Hm. Perhaps that’s why they tried to rush through the legal changes. They know that if enough people point out the flaws in the ideology that it stop being socially unacceptable to question, then the whole edifice falls apart under its own contradictions. They needed before that happened to get laws on the books so that people could be prosecuted for questioning the ideology in order to provide the necessary chilling effect that would stop the voices of sanity ever reaching a critical mass.

            Also of course regardless of what it means for the outcome, it would be nice to know that the vast majority of young people aren’t utterly insane.

            The flip-side of that coin though is that it’s depressing, then, how many will go along with something they know to be rubbish just in order to fit in with their friends, who also know it to be rubbish but are going along with it in order to fit in, so there’s been a kind of peer-pressure-driven mass psychosis. To be clear I’m not singling out this generation as any worse than others in that regard: I don’t mean it’s depressing in terms of what it tells us about ‘kids these days’ but because of what it tells us about universal human nature, and how susceptible most people always have been throughout history and always will be to going along with crazy ideas for the sake of a quiet life, instead of standing up for truth even if it makes you unpopular.

        • Andrew – the bible does give good principles – so if it is necessary to have people break the Sabbath by looking after the National Grid on a Sunday, then perhaps we should think twice about having it provided by the national grid.

          Biblical principles clearly extend to SOCE – if indeed it does harm people (especially women – who are married to an ex-gay who underwent SOCE and who then decides that he really is gay after all, comes out as such to his wife – and they end up getting divorced for this reason) then there is a good case (from Scripture) to suggest that SOCE is a serious problem.

          Of course, for people with a smutty mind, who think that Song of Solomon is a book that touches on George Best’s favourite subject, I wouldn’t recommend such people to use Scripture as guidance for anything.

          Reply
          • I think Best’s favourite subjets were drinking and football!

            And Song of Songs is delightfully smutty. (Erotic, if you prefer.)

          • I think Best’s favourite subjets were drinking and football!

            ‘ I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered.’

            You’d be wrong.

          • “Andrew – the bible does give good principles – so if it is necessary to have people break the Sabbath by looking after the National Grid on a Sunday, then perhaps we should think twice about having it provided by the national grid.”

            Jock are you being serious here about work on Sunday? So you don’t watch TV or listen to Radio on a Sunday?

            If you think the Song of Songs is not erotic you must be reading a very different bible……

          • If you think the Song of Songs is not erotic you must be reading a very different bible……

            ‘ Old books can be indecent books,
            Though recent books are bolder.
            For filth, I’m glad to say,
            Is in the mind of the beholder.
            When correctly viewed,
            Everything is lewd.
            I could tell you things about Peter Pan
            And the Wizard of Oz – there’s a dirty old man!’

          • Tom Lehrer is 93. Does anybody know if he is in good health? I got his autograph outside the stage door of the Lyceum in London on June 8th 1998 at Hey Mr Producer!

          • Anton – I haven’t heard anything. But if he’s 93 then he’ll have to change the preamble to his song about Alma to, `it’s a sobering thought, isn’t it, that when Mozart was my age he had been dead for 58 years.’

            The Alma song does have some relevance on a thread about sexuality:

            There was a composer named Mahler,
            Known to his buddies as Gustav.
            Whenever he saw her he’d holler,
            `Ach das ist die frauline I must have.’
            But living with Alma was murder,
            He’d scream to the heavens above:
            `I’m writing das lied von der erde,
            And she only wants to make love!’

            I hope he’s going strong – and absolute genius who gave much pleasure!

          • Andrew – sort of serious, yes. My rule of thumb is that Sunday ought to be a day of rest for myself (and family) – and, very importantly, it ought to be the same thing for everybody else. If anyone is working on Sunday, then I try to make sure that I’m not responsible for this (or rather try to limit this as much as possible). So, if a restaurant or bar is open on Sunday, then they’re not going to get any custom out of me.

            As you can see, I do use an internet connection on Sunday – but perhaps I shouldn’t. In general I don’t watch much TV (and if you knew what the TV was like here, you’d appreciate that it is absolute rubbish). I use youtube to get programmes for my son (who watches the things that I watched when I was his age – Camberwick Green, Trumpton, Chigley, The Herbs, Mr Benn) and I also use it to get some light entertainment for myself (from time to time an episode from The Goon Show – together with a script – it’s easier with a script and they’re all up on the internet).

            In short – I’m not a complete loony in this regard, but I do try to limit it, with the principle that Sunday should be a day of rest – and it should basically be a quiet day for the whole society.

          • Jock: in the 1980s I worked for the BBC World and External Services as a studio manager. Do you think that the 37 different countries we broadcast to should have been deprived of news – the primary output of the services – because the BBC should not have asked staff to work on a Sunday?

          • Andrew – probably not – a decent view of Sabbath observance doesn’t exclude important things (c/f Jesus preaching the gospel on the Sabbath, the disciples gathering corn to feed themselves on the Sabbath, etc …)

            I don’t (of course) know exactly what your job entailed – but it sounds important.

            What do you think (though) about the fact that the Goon shows were recorded (with a live studio audience) on Sundays and then broadcast the following Tuesday? Couldn’t they have recorded them on a different day?

          • I think The Good Life was also recorded on a Sunday evening.
            It depends where one draws the line. I think the concept of sabbath is essential for a healthy society and I’ve never been in favour of Sunday trading. But I am not so much of a puritan to rule out a recording of the Goons. And my work in the 1980s was operating the radio studios. They don’t operate themselves.

        • Or perhaps explain what you mean by love – where the definition disqualifies anyone from claiming that they experience those attractions as a form of love.

          Reply
      • In fact, nowhere in the Bible is the topic of sexuality even discussed. Rather than that being because sexuality is a modern phenomenon which wasn’t around in biblical times, it’s more probably because the biblical writers, if they thought about it at all, took it for granted that everyone had the same sexuality – heterosexual. Which isn’t really much help to that small minority whose sexuality isn’t heterosexual.

        Reply
        • William: it’s more probably because the biblical writers, if they thought about it at all, took it for granted that everyone had the same sexuality

          Which biblical writers do you have in mind?

          Reply
          • William: Any biblical writers

            I find it hard to believe any of the New Testament writers weren’t aware of a variety of sexual ‘preferences’ in a Roman culture that allowed for such things (admittedly they could only be expressed within a very different moral framework).

        • it’s more probably because the biblical writers, if they thought about it at all, took it for granted that everyone had the same sexuality – heterosexual

          Now that is chronological snobbery: the belief that just because people lived a long time ago, they must have been stupider than us.

          Reply
          • If people who lived a long time ago made assumptions which we now know to be incorrect, that does not mean that they must have been stupider than us, any more than we will be shown to be stupider than future generations if assumptions which we commonly make today are eventually shown to be incorrect. The accusation of “chronological snobbery” is just a piece of silliness. If taken seriously, it would mean that no advance in knowledge or understanding could be admitted.

          • If people who lived a long time ago made assumptions which we now know to be incorrect, that does not mean that they must have been stupider than us, any more than we will be shown to be stupider than future generations if assumptions which we commonly make today are eventually shown to be incorrect

            That is true.

            However, there is no evidence at all that Biblical writers made these assumptions that you claim they made.

            Your only reason for thinking they might have made these assumptions seems to be that you think that they were incapable of noticing what was going on in the world around them, whereas we are capable.

            In other words, you’re claiming they were stupider than us because they failed to nothing what was going on right in front of their eyes.

            This isn’t like heliocentrism, where special instruments were needed to make the required observations and those instruments didn’t exist until the seventeenth century. In that case it’s perfectly reasonable for those in the past to have thought differently to us, because the evidence otherwise was not available to them, and we can be sure that had such evidence been available they would have recognised it and come to the same conclusions that we do.

            But you’re saying that all the evidence for this aspect of human nature was right there, available for them just as it is available for us — we have no instruments, unavailable to the Biblical writers, that give us more detailed evidence about human nature and sexuality in the way that, say, microscopes give us more detailed evidence about bacteria — but they just… didn’t notice it? And we do? Because we’re smarter than them?

            That is chronological snobbery.

          • S:
            Perhaps you’d like to tell us, then, where any biblical writer displays any knowledge of sexuality – as distinct from sexual behaviour – which is not heterosexual.

          • Perhaps you’d like to tell us, then, where any biblical writer displays any knowledge of sexuality – as distinct from sexual behaviour – which is not heterosexual.

            Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. I would have thought you’d know that.

          • S:
            If my suggestion is wrong, then Joe S’.s suggestion that sexuality is “a modern idea” is also wrong: it’s just that none of the biblical writers discuss the subject or use the term.

          • If my suggestion is wrong, then Joe S’.s suggestion that sexuality is “a modern idea” is also wrong: it’s just that none of the biblical writers discuss the subject or use the term.

            Doesn’t follow. Sexuality in the sense of something that is an essential part of one’s identity is definitely a modern idea; but that doesn’t mean that the Bible writers thought that ‘everyone had the same sexuality – heterosexual’ if by that you mean that they thought that everyone was only sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex, and were totally ignorant of the idea that some people were more, or exclusively, sexually attracted to members of their own sex.

            I mean, why would it have ever been prohibited if they couldn’t conceive of the idea that some people might want to do it?

          • S:

            “…why would it have ever been prohibited if they couldn’t conceive of the idea that some people might want to do it?”

            Oh, of course they could conceive of the idea that some people might want to do it. But what did they think that the reason was for some people wanting to do it? Just a desire to be naughty for the sake of it? As part of some idolatrous pagan ritual? Sheer boredom with routine heterosexual behaviour and a desire for a spot of variety? We don’t know, since the biblical writers don’t discuss that question.

          • Oh, of course they could conceive of the idea that some people might want to do it. But what did they think that the reason was for some people wanting to do it?

            Well, what do we think the reason is for some people wanting to do it? We think it’s because they enjoy it, don’t we?

            I mean, that seems like the obvious answer.

            It certainly holds true for other sexual sins: why do people commit adultery? Fornication? Because they enjoy it.

            So why would the writers of the bible have thought any different to us, given it’s the single most obvious answer?

          • S:

            The main reason why people engage in sexual behaviour of ANY kind – including sexual behaviour which you would presumably regard as non-sinful – is that they enjoy it (although obviously people may do so for other or additional reasons). Obviously the biblical writers knew that as well as we do. But that doesn’t really get us very far.

            The biblical writers must have known that most people not only did not engage in homosexual behaviour, but had no desire to engage in it, and did not think that they would enjoy it. Did they enquire what it was that caused a small minority to enjoy it? Were they aware that some people, unlike themselves, never experienced sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex but only to people of the same sex? Did they know that there were people who actually fell in love with other people of the same sex, just as they fell in love with people of the opposite sex? We don’t know the answers to those questions, since the biblical writers don’t discuss such matters.

          • The biblical writers must have known that most people not only did not engage in homosexual behaviour, but had no desire to engage in it, and did not think that they would enjoy it. Did they enquire what it was that caused a small minority to enjoy it? Were they aware that some people, unlike themselves, never experienced sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex but only to people of the same sex?

            Presumably they were. Given that, as mentioned, they are as smart as us, and we have noticed that such people exist, so presumably they noticed it too.

            Like I wrote above, it’s not like we need any special instruments to discern the existence of such people. All it takes to notice that such people exist is to observe how they act, ie, that they preferentially engage in sexual acts with members of their own sex rather than members of the opposite sex. And the writers of the Bible were just as capable of such observations as we are.

            We don’t know the answers to those questions, since the biblical writers don’t discuss such matters.

            We don’t know, no, but unless we have evidence to the contrary surely we should assume that they had the same level of understanding as us?

            Otherwise you’re in danger of making the mistake of those silly people who thought that people in the past believed the Earth was flat, when in fact we know that they not only know that the Earth was a sphere, but accurately calculated its radius.

            So unless you can find actual evidence that they had a different understanding to us, we should not assume they did.

          • “We don’t know, no, but unless we have evidence to the contrary surely we should assume that they had the same level of understanding as us?”

            Well, perhaps we should, but since there are still plenty of people around whose knowledge and understanding of homosexuality is clearly very limited, that’s not really saying much.

          • Well, perhaps we should, but since there are still plenty of people around whose knowledge and understanding of homosexuality is clearly very limited, that’s not really saying much.

            In what way? Explain.

          • S:

            To list all the items of ill-informed claptrap that one hears or reads about homosexuality, even in these supposedly enlightened times, would be a lengthy task, but here are a few that spring immediately to mind:

            (1) Being homosexual is a choice. Homosexuals have perversely chosen not to be sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex, but to be sexually attracted to people of the same sex instead.

            (2) Homosexuals would like everyone to be homosexual, and they try to “convert” or “recruit” as many heterosexuals as possible to homosexuality.

            (3) Homosexual men hate women and/or are afraid of women.

            (4) Despite (3) above, homosexual men either wish that they were women, or even think that they actually ARE women.

            (5) All homosexual men are either actual or potential child molesters.

          • I went through 1-5 and they were all false. How is that relevant to the fact that in statistics on central matters like STI rates, promiscuity rates, rates of unhealthy sexual practices, life expectancy, mental health, drug use, and even the sexual abuse of minors, self-styled homosexual men ‘score’ so clearly beyond the average? It just depends which issues you include and which ones you leave out.

          • Yes, Mr Shell, I know that that’s one of your favourite themes, but it’s not relevant to the point that I was making.

          • here are a few that spring immediately to mind

            Right. So even today people have a range of views about same-sex relationships.

            So it seems even more unlikely, doesn’t it, that your claim that all the writers of the Bible — and there were a lot of them — had the same views as each other, doesn’t it?

            I seems far more likely that most if not all all the views of such behaviour that we find in the modern world would also be represented among the writers of the Bible — does it not?

          • S:

            Yes, even today people have a range of views about same-sex relationships. And even today many people, whatever their views, have little actual knowledge concerning either same-sex relationships or homosexuality generally.

            I never suggested that all the writers of the Bible had the same views as each other. We don’t know what the views of all the biblical writers were. There were a lot of them – as you rightly point out – and most of them never mention the subject at all. Some of them may have had no views on the subject, because they never thought about it. We simply don’t know.

          • William: And even today many people, whatever their views, have little actual knowledge concerning either same-sex relationships or homosexuality generally.

            You seem committed to this point of view. I would have said your list of 1-5 misunderstandings are rather rare in the UK today.

          • No, William.

            (1) I did not mention a theme, but rather a large number of themes.

            (2) The things I mentioned could have been on your list but weren’t.

            (3) That means your list was cherry picked.

            (4) Besides being cherry picked, it is unclear how many people hold to the misconceptions you listed – hence, ‘straw man’ and ‘stereotype’ spring to mind.

            It is unclear why you should want to highlight this list of things that very few people would be likely to think when there are some highly important things that are actually true.

          • I never suggested that all the writers of the Bible had the same views as each other.

            Um, I’m afraid you did.

            ‘ it’s more probably because the biblical writers, if they thought about it at all, took it for granted that everyone had the same sexuality – heterosexual’

            https://www.psephizo.com/sexuality-2/do-efforts-to-change-sexual-orientation-conversion-therapy-cause-harm/#comment-403818

            That’s ascribing one single view to ‘the biblical writers’, without qualification, ie, all of them.

            Perhaps you meant ‘some of the biblical writers’, but you didn’t write that, so you did in fact in what you wrote suggest that all the writers of the Bible had a single view, specifically the view ‘that everyone had the same sexuality – heterosexual’

          • S:

            Yes, I did assume that the biblical writers in general, not just some of them, took it for granted that everyone’s sexuality was heterosexual. And you may be right: perhaps they didn’t. But we have no means of knowing for certain, since sexuality – as distinct from sexual BEHAVIOUR – is never discussed by any of them.

          • Yes, I did assume that the biblical writers in general, not just some of them, took it for granted that everyone’s sexuality was heterosexual. And you may be right: perhaps they didn’t. But we have no means of knowing for certain, since sexuality – as distinct from sexual BEHAVIOUR – is never discussed by any of them.

            Right, but in fact it’s stronger than just ‘we have no means of knowing for certain’, isn’t it? We really have no evidence even to sway us one way or the other. It’s not like, ‘well, we can’t know for certain, but the evidence suggests’, is it?

            In fact you had absolutely no basis at all for making the claim that ‘probably because the biblical writers, if they thought about it at all, took it for granted that everyone had the same sexuality – heterosexual’, did you?

          • Joe:

            The five misunderstandings, as you charitably call them, are still around, but I agree that they are far rarer in the UK today than they used to be. Let us be thankful for that.

          • O.K., Christopher.

            (1) I concede that you mentioned not just one but several of your favourite themes.

            (2) Since you presumably maintain that those things which you mentioned are true, there was no reason for you to expect me to include them in my list of falsehoods.

            (3) Since my stated intention was to list some of the items of “ill-informed claptrap that one hears or reads about homosexuality”, I deliberately picked precisely such items. If that is what you mean by “cherry-picking”, it is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

            (4) I agree that it is unclear how many people hold to the falsehoods which I listed. That is why I did not make any claim to know.

            You say that “very few people would be likely to think” those things, but you don’t tell us how you made that a priori calculation. And how few is “very few”? About as few as those who believe in a flat earth, for example? Whatever, they are things which I have heard and/or read repeatedly during my lifetime, although less frequently, thank God, than when I was a teenager.

          • The falsity of the false things is of no import given that the true things are true. After all, the false things were only listed in the first place with a view to giving the message ‘avoid homosexuality’, and the true things demonstrate that that is the right message.

            You say this is a list of my ‘favourite’ facts; it obviously is the opposite – namely, facts that require repeated warnings.

          • So, since truths are true, it doesn’t matter that falsehoods are false. Thank you for that imparting that sterling piece of wisdom to us, Mr Shell.

          • S:

            No basis at all? Well, actually I did have some basis. If Paul in Romans 1 was talking about homosexual people *in general*, as many insist that he was, then he does appear to have taken for granted that everyone’s sexuality is naturally heterosexual, but to have theorized that some people have abandoned their former heterosexual “lifestyle” and have taken up a homosexual one, as the result of worshipping images of mortal man, birds, quadrupeds and reptiles (Romans 1:23). But that rather quaint theory may have been Paul’s alone, and I concede that I was over-hasty in assuming that the biblical writers as a whole shared his premiss.

          • No basis at all? Well, actually I did have some basis. If Paul in Romans 1 was talking about homosexual people *in general*, as many insist that he was, then he does appear to have taken for granted that everyone’s sexuality is naturally heterosexual, but to have theorized that some people have abandoned their former heterosexual “lifestyle” and have taken up a homosexual one, as the result of worshipping images of mortal man, birds, quadrupeds and reptiles (Romans 1:23).

            Um, you seem to have stopped reading a verse early. Your claim, as I understand it, is that Paul thinks everyone desires sexual activity with members of the opposite sex, but some decide to act against that desire and engage in sexual activity with members of the same sex instead. Correct?

            Romans 1:24: ‘Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another’

            So this seems to me that Paul is perfectly aware that some people’s desires are actually for sexual impurity (not just same-sex activity, of course, but all different kinds of sexual impurity).

            You say Paul thinks that people who engage in same-sex sexual activity are acting against their true desires; this verse seems to me to prove the opposite, that Paul is fully aware that these people are in fact acting in accordance with their true (disordered, sinful) desires.

            And again, of course, this isn’t just about sex. We all have disordered, sinful desires that, in the absence of Christ, God gives us over to. Some people’s disordered desires are in the area of sex, but others are in other areas. Total depravity, remember, doesn’t mean that all our desires are disordered, but that all areas of our life, including our desires, are intrinsically disordered.

          • To repeat: The falsehoods’ falsity would have been relevant only if the conclusion they pointed to was untrue. Since the conclusion they pointed to was true, then that does not apply. The falsehoods had no import in themselves other than as possible answers to the question of whether people should pursue or avoid homosexual practice.

            You to the contrary took me to be saying something about all falsehoods in existence (but it’s well known that I could not have been, for whose mind is equal to that?). Rather than about the subtype of falsehoods which accord with a true conclusion.

          • S:

            It should be noted, however, that in v. 27 Paul speaks of men “giving up normal relations with women”. Since one can hardly have given up something which one never had, this implies that they were previously living a heterosexual “lifestyle”. So did Paul believe that, until they started worshipping images of mortal man and animals, the men were opposite-sex attracted? Or did he believe that they were same-sex attracted all along, as you apparently maintain, but had nonetheless shoe-horned themselves into heterosexual relationships? If it was the latter, did Paul think that this was a good thing? Even if he did, I don’t.

          • The point about a falsehood, as the very term indicates, Mr Shell, is that it is false. It is false no matter what conclusion anyone considers that it points to. And a falsehood is not a “possible answer” to anything.

          • It should be noted, however, that in v. 27 Paul speaks of men “giving up normal relations with women”. Since one can hardly have given up something which one never had, this implies that they were previously living a heterosexual “lifestyle”. So did Paul believe that, until they started worshipping images of mortal man and animals, the men were opposite-sex attracted?

            Two points to this. Firstly, I think Paul is speaking here of men (and women) in general, rather than particular individuals. So he’s not saying that any particular man started off one way and ended up another; rather he’s saying the human race as a whole was given over to unnatural desires.

            Secondly, I don’t think he’s speaking temporally in terms of a single human lifespan: he’s writing about the Fall, which I don’t think was a single event in linear time (I know some people do) but is rather a description of our constant state of corruption. So in our uncorrupted state we don’t have unnatural, sinful desires. But in our corrupted state we do. But people don’t ‘become’ corrupted at some point in their lives: we are conceived and born corrupted.

            Nevertheless it still makes sense to speak of being ‘given over’ to unnatural desires because if we were in our uncorrupted state we would not have them. So although in our temporal lives we have never been in an uncorrupted state, that state still exists as the thing we are supposed to have been, if we had not been conceived and born corrupted by sin.

            So when Paul writes of people being ‘abandoning natural relations, I don’t think he means that they started off with natural desires and then one day their desires got corrupted. I think he means that we (because of course Paul is talking about everybody here, every single one of us has had our desires corrupted by sin) were meant to have natural desires, but because of sin our desires were corrupted from the moment of our conception. That’s what he means by ‘exchanged’ or ‘given up’; not that we used to desire right and they changed to desire evil, but that because of sin our natures were changed to desire evil from the moment of our conception.

            In that way we all exchanged natural desires for unnatural ones before we were ever born.

    • I think youre right. The impression given is that the proposed ban is not just about those practices which most people would consider harmful, such as those youve described, but also simply discussing or praying about an individual’s feelings, if the person they are talking to holds the view that gay sex is not appropriate for a Christian. It is invariably within a Christian environment in which such discussions take place.

      It comes down to the basic belief for those who want a ban that gay sex is perfectly good, and any other view is wrong. As the leader of the EA said in a discussion, it seems odd that talking about the possibility of changing is immoral and harmful and should be outlawed, but the belief upon which it is based is not being criminalised. But then again perhaps that is the next step if this ban succeeds – criminalising the public teaching of such views? Time will tell.

      Peter

      Reply
      • You can legally hold views which others would find abhorrent (I don’t mean ‘you’ personally here), but you cannot necessarily publish or state those views without conssequences. Cf. Jimmy Carr’s recent ‘joke’.

        Reply
        • You can legally hold views which others would find abhorrent (I don’t mean ‘you’ personally here), but you cannot necessarily publish or state those views without conssequences.

          You can (or at least ought to) be able to punish or state those views without being in legal jeopardy, though. Note that nobody is demanding Carr be criminally prosecuted.

          The law should also step in to stop those who find such views offensive creating such a fuss that expressing such views becomes, if not illegal, impractical — the American term is ‘heckler’s veto’, I suggest you look it up.

          The only speech which ought to be illegal is actual incitement to violence. The excision of a view — even a totally abhorrent one which has led directly to the deaths of millions, like Communism — should not only never be illegal but should be actively protected by the law.

          Reply
          • Dear “S”- “The only speeech which ought to be illegal is actual incitement to violence”. Whether the incitement to violence is *actual* or not, you still have the problem, within the context of allowing for (a) the diversity of ideologies, beliefs, opinions and , yes, prejudices – not to mention(b) the multiplicity of psychological orientations and disorders, exactly how to calibrate terms such as “incitement”?

          • still have the problem, within the context of allowing for (a) the diversity of ideologies, beliefs, opinions and , yes, prejudices – not to mention(b) the multiplicity of psychological orientations and disorders, exactly how to calibrate terms such as “incitement”?

            I don’t think it’s that much of a problem? Standing up at Speaker’s Corner ranting that the rich are parasites who ought to be killed isn’t incitement, but standing outside a mansion yelling ‘Come on, let’s take what’s ours!’ is.

            Anyway, it’s well within the scope of things that courts can determine how to apply the law to specific circumstances.

        • Yes but I wasnt talking about ‘holding’ certain views but rather expressing them in a public forum. I thought I read some time ago about a street preacher who talked about the sinfulness of gay sex, and he was cautioned by the police. Perhaps I mis-remembered.

          Reply
          • There have been many street preachers who have suffered a lot worse than that in recent years, usually for that same reason. And usually orchestrated.

          • PC1 do you actually think street preaching has any effect? I personally think it very counterproductive.

          • In 90% of the cases I have seen I have not been too impressed. The other 10% is well worth it, and it tends to depend on the individual who is doing it, whether they have something that people want.

          • PC1 do you actually think street preaching has any effect?

            Depends on whether God wants it to, doesn’t it? Do you understand the mind of God?

          • I would be interested to know of anyone who has been converted to Christianity (or to any other religion) by a street preacher.

            A couple of years ago, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the local Jehovah’s Witnesses set up their stall, offering issues of The Watchtower, Awake!, etc., in a pedestrian street in the centre of my home city. A local street preacher then moved from his usual position at the corner of the street and stationed himself directly opposite the JWs. I looked at the JWs and they seemed highly amused, as I have to confess that I was too. I have no brief for the JWs, but I suspect they make more converts with their literature than street preachers do by ranting.

          • I would be interested to know of anyone who has been converted to Christianity (or to any other religion) by a street preacher.

            I think it’s highly unsual for anyone to be able to point to a single person or event and say, ‘this one thing converted me to Christianity’. Almost universally there are many steps along the way, things that make one thing, until one final straw breaks the camel’s back.

            Perhaps a street preacher has never been the final straw for anyone (though can you be sure?). But that doesn’t mean no one has ever been passing by a street preacher, heard something they were saying, and thought, ‘actually… that ties in with something else that’s been on my mind recently… perhaps I should look into this thing further…’

            And don’t street preachers usually invite their listeners to somewhere where they can find out more, such as a mission, or even just one of the local churches’ Sunday service? In which case while the street preacher might not themselves convert anyone, if they interest someone enough for them to come along to whatever mission the street preacher is advertising, they can still be key in their eventual conversion.

  16. I hope being free to teach what the Bible says about heterosexual marriage being the only acceptable sphere of sexual activity will continue to be allowed. However pastorally it seems likely that it will be necessary to say that the Bible forbids homosexual relationships etc. we must pray for wisdom and courage.

    Reply
    • John I share the reservations you have expressed in this post (Feb.5 at 5-14pm); not least as other opinions in this post, suggesting that we should concentrate on the biblical teaching and not focus on opposition arguments, could well be guilty of minimising the magnitude (numerical and “political”) of the opposition.
      *The ministers’ statemen*t [ “Minister’s Statement Response.com] is a good rejoinder to the government’s consultation on Conversion Therapy. However, given that it begins affirming “we uphold to orthodox, historic Christian teaching”; it could end up having a different impact, less conducive than the one hoped for . I suspect that even in government circles, not only is there widespread ignorance about what the ministers’ statement means,but where understanding does exist there could be even greater opposition. Why? Because my guess is that many *clued in* politicians are supportive of issues such as SSM and as a consequence could mark down the orthodox understanding in favour of a more modern, more”sympathetic”, less “dogmatic” approach. And let’s not forget that there is strong opposition to traditional teaching relating to sexual matters in general *within* the churches; and no doubt there will be in instances, on this particular issue, of these alternative viewpoints being propagated . Active prayer needs to be supplemented by “Be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves”.

      Reply
  17. Mathew Parris…

    In an iconoclastic piece in the Times, titled ‘Who’s totally gay? There’s no straight answer’(£) the former Tory MP turned columnist provocatively lamented that ‘Same-sex male attraction used to be something you do, not something you are’.

    Reply
    • As a gay man I can say that’s nonsense. Indeed in the past many men hid their attractions and did not act on them due to the general view of society. But they still had such attractions even if others did not know of it.

      As for being ‘totally gay’ I can honestly say that I just dont find the female body sexually or physically attractive, but have the opposite feelings towards the male body, or at least men I find attractive (there are quite a few I wouldnt look twice at). With a woman there isnt even a quiver.

      I havent read Parris’ tome, but perhaps Ive misunderstood.

      Reply
      • Hi Andrew you can find it online. He admits there is a scale however he argues it is less fixed than supposed. An study article I read suggested that there was a fairly high level who cross from homosexual to heterosexual. You will no doubt have researched this more than me.

        The American Rosaria Butterfield who was once a lesbian and a university professor of ‘queer theory’ is strongly of the view that homosexuality is a matter of feeling rather than being. She argues it is not identity.

        I think it is important for a Christian to argue it is not identity or being especially when this identity is the new person we become by faith in Christ. To recognise a temptation is not at the root of who I am gives us hope. If I am given to losing my temper i will be helped to resist this by recognising this is a feature belonging to the old me and not the new me I am in Christ.

        Andrew I do not know your struggles but for all of us the way forwards is applying the implications of having died with Christ and now living in newness of life. For all of us this is the fight we are in if we are Christians.

        I hope this doesn’t seem dismissive or make light of your strong homosexual feelings/inclinations.

        Reply
  18. Andrew

    In a comment above to Joe, you said “I dont think such things are love”.

    Whilst I understand that in relation to child abuse, can you really maintain that for polygamous and incestual relations amongst adults? Those involved would argue they are very much loving relationships and doing no harm. You seem to view ‘causing harm’ as the key criteria. What harm are they doing and why do you view them as unloving?

    Peter

    Reply
    • PC1

      1. I think they harm God whose laws they defy.
      2. Secondly they harm themselves. They will be judged by God for their actions. Indeed i have no doubt they experience angst that flows from their irregular relationships. Jealousy is a regular feature of polygamy. Read the Bible examples.
      3. They harm others. Their lifestyle becomes an encouragement to others. It aims to normalise what God has forbidden.

      They seek to love in ways that God has forbidden. It is unloving to one wife to take a second wife and rob the first of her right to exclusive affection. It is unloving of a brother to be incestuously involved with his sister. It is hardly in her best interests.

      Reply
      • 1. Is it possible for humans to ‘harm’ God? Offend possibly.
        2. “Jealousy is a regular feature of polygamy.” But some polygamous families will disagree.
        3. “It is unloving of a brother to be incestuously involved with his sister. It is hardly in her best interests.” Again this stands and falls on personal testimony.

        I’m not defending any of these positions (I agree they are all sinful) but questioning whether ‘harm’ should be the limit of what is sinful.

        Reply
      • Thanks, though my question was directed at Andrew Godsall who said such relationships were wrong because they were unloving. I am interested to know why he thinks that for these relationships but not for gay relationships.

        Reply
  19. To “S” Your illustrations are somewhat Promethan: presented in such a way as to fit the theory.The theory should be tested by the evidence. For example “incitement to violence” could be interpreted as criticising a holy book.

    Reply
      • And what pray is a *sane * jury? One in which there are no lunatics ? And clearly it cannot include those ( and they actually do exist) whose religious beliefs do include the use of violence towards those who they deem to be criticising their core beliefs. Are such people therefore sane or insane?
        Once again you are providing *illustrations* without giving clear *definitions* of your terminology(“sane” being the prime example). I shall draw this series of circular arguments to a close. Best wishes.

        Reply
        • And clearly it cannot include those ( and they actually do exist) whose religious beliefs do include the use of violence towards those who they deem to be criticising their core beliefs. Are such people therefore sane or insane?

          Jurors do not judge according to their own religious beliefs, but according to the law of the land. So it’s irrelevant what a juror’s own religious beliefs are.

          Once again you are providing *illustrations* without giving clear *definitions* of your terminology(“sane” being the prime example).

          Once again you seem to be ignoring the fact that we already trust juries (and, in higher courts, judges) to interpert and apply the law to individual cases.

          If your concern were valid, then we could not have any law that contained any ambiguity whatsoever — and as all language contains ambiguity, that would mean we could have no laws at all.

          Obviously in statutes ambiguity must be removed whenever possible. But the fact that some will necessarily remain does not invalidate the whole statutory process.

          Reply
        • Colin – I think we all know what a sane jury is – even though a decent definition might be hard to put down.

          A sane jury is the sort of jury consisting of decent level-headed people who acquitted Michael Randle and Pat Pottle when they were being tried for their part in springing George Blake – even though the judge basically ordered the jury to find them guilty.

          The trouble is that nowadays the judiciary have decided that juries are an annoying inconvenience, because sane level headed people often do not convict those whom the judges would really like to see banged up. They have therefore dispensed with them in an alarming number of situations.

          For example, I have no doubt that Julian Assange would have been a free man by now if he had been subjected to trial by jury – his problem is that they have decided that in such cases a jury will give the wrong answer, so these cases are decided by judges only.

          So when S talks about `any sane jury’ he is correct, but `any sane jury’ often goes against the wishes of the insane judiciary, so their services have, by and large, been dispensed with.

          Reply
          • A sane jury is the sort of jury consisting of decent level-headed people who acquitted Michael Randle and Pat Pottle when they were being tried for their part in springing George Blake – even though the judge basically ordered the jury to find them guilty.

            I think we call that a ‘perverse’ or an ‘obnoxious’ jury actually, given that they were guilty as sin (by their own admission) and should obviously have been banged up.

            Similar to the celebrated case last year of the damp statue.

            For example, I have no doubt that Julian Assange would have been a free man by now if he had been subjected to trial by jury – his problem is that they have decided that in such cases a jury will give the wrong answer, so these cases are decided by judges only.

            Um, he would have been subjected to a trial by jury (in Sweden) if he had just handed himself over to be extradited. You can’t say that the fact he hasn’t been tried by a jury is anyone else’s fault but his own, given the extreme lengths he has gone to to avoid ever having to face one.

            So when S talks about `any sane jury’ he is correct, but `any sane jury’ often goes against the wishes of the insane judiciary, so their services have, by and large, been dispensed with.

            Again, the statue-in-the-harbour case rather proves that that is not true; and the occasional perverse, and obviously wrong, verdict is the price we pay for a system that guards our freedoms.

          • S – ummm ….. I was trying to be helpful – agreeing with you about any sane jury, but pointing out the sad demise of said jury system.

            By the way, there are no jury trials in Sweden – where they pretty much figured out long ago that juries are liable to return unsatisfactory verdicts.

            The Swedes never actually charged Assange with anything – the prosecutors basically decided that they didn’t have a case, but Kier Starmer put pressure on them to keep the pot boiling anyway.

            His behaviour with women was clearly reprehensible, but that isn’t what he is currently banged up for.

            The damp statue was probably a reprehensible business – but I wasn’t following that one. I fundamentally disagree with you on the other things – and I thoroughly enjoyed `The Blake Escape’ by Pottle and Randle – but I get the impression that we’re going way off topic here – and my apologies for mucking up the thread which is supposed to be about SOCE.

          • By the way, there are no jury trials in Sweden – where they pretty much figured out long ago that juries are liable to return unsatisfactory verdicts.

            That, I wasn’t aware of; one imagines the Vikings as being sensible on those sorts of matters, us having got a lot of our tradition of standing up to rulers from them.

            The Swedes never actually charged Assange with anything – the prosecutors basically decided that they didn’t have a case, but Kier Starmer put pressure on them to keep the pot boiling anyway.

            Now, you know that’s a rather misleading summary. A warrant was issued for Assange’s arrest, which under the terms of our extradition treaty with Sweden (ie, the European Arrest Warrant system) required us to hand him over.

            It would make no sense for an extradition system to require a subject to have been charged, because often charges can only be made after a suspect has been questioned; if charges would required it would allow a loophol whereby the guilty could avoid prosecution by absconding across a border before being questioned.

            Now, there are undoubtedly flaws with the EAW system in that, for example, it obliges us to treat all the legal systems covered as if they were of a similar standard to ours; but I don’t think anyone has suggested that the Swedish justice system is as corrupt as, say, the Cypriot one has recently been proven to be.

            The investigation in Sweden was discontinued after Mr Assange had successfully evaded justice for almost a decade, on the grounds that the allegations would be difficult to prove after such a long time. That is not at all the same as deciding ‘they didn’t have a case’: it’s entirely possible that had they managed to apprehend Mr Assange at the time, the case could have been proved and he would not have escaped justice.

            His behaviour with women was clearly reprehensible, but that isn’t what he is currently banged up for.

            No; he’s currently banged up because he’s proven himself to be a flight risk. Which, again, is entirely his own fault.

            He is also fighting extradition to the United States — and while I may have been wrong to assume it of Sweden, I know for a fact that the United States has a strong tradition of jury trials (stronger than ours — they use juries for civil cases) so if you think he would definitely be acquitted should he face a jury, then again you should be in favour of him surrendering to that extradition.

            The damp statue was probably a reprehensible business – but I wasn’t following that one. I fundamentally disagree with you on the other things – and I thoroughly enjoyed `The Blake Escape’ by Pottle and Randle – but I get the impression that we’re going way off topic here – and my apologies for mucking up the thread which is supposed to be about SOCE.

            Fortunately the owner of this web-site seems remarkably tolerant of conversational drift. Far more than I would be.

          • S – well, I could respond to all your points – and we’d end up with a reasonably interesting discussion – but I won’t – because this really would be w-a-y off topic.

            I suppose we could discuss whether or not Julian Assange might have benefitted from SOCE (making him less interested in women), but perhaps best not to go down that path ……

    • I mean, let’s put it this way: it’s no more mad to ask a jury to interpret whether a given utterance was incitement to violence than whether a given act was reasonably necessary for self-defence. And nobody has a problem with that.

      Reply
  20. For Jock and S,, who seem to have disappeared down a rabbit hole just a small but substantial point relating the jury system in the criminal justice system in England and Wales: there is a basic split in roles and functions: Judges determine the law juries decide on fact according to the evidence, and the Judge directs the jury in summing up. There are laws and rules relating to matters of evidence to seek to ensure as far as possible, its reliability. And the standard of proof the prosecution is required reach, is a high bar: the jury must be sure that the defendant has committed the offence.
    But for lower level offences, a jury trial isn’t available: there is only a trial by local magistrates assisted by a legally qualified clerk on matters of law. Though both have been replaced in many towns, by one Stipendiary Magistrate, a lawyer, who determines fact and law.
    It’s basic stuff.

    Reply
    • there is a basic split in roles and functions: Judges determine the law juries decide on fact according to the evidence, and the Judge directs the jury in summing up.

      Yes, I know. The point is that in order to convict for incitement the jury must be sure that the accused intended to cause someone to commit a crime.

      But for lower level offences, a jury trial isn’t available: there is only a trial by local magistrates assisted by a legally qualified clerk on matters of law.

      Looking it up, venue for trial for incitement is the same as the venue for the crime incited. So, true, if the charge were incitement to commit a summary offence, then it would be up to a magistrate’s judgement, not a jury’s whether the accused really did incite.

      Reply
  21. In the 1950s homosexual men used to get injected with hormones. Did it work? I think not.

    Conversion therapy is pseudo-science. Brainwashing in all but name. You can ask someone to believe brown is in fact the colour green and pigs can fly but someone’s sexual orientation is hard wired in their brain. LGBT whatever, being friendly with animals in Denmark is legal, but maybe banning conversion therapy would not be a bad idea.

    If all closet homosexuals were forced to leave the C of E I wonder how many priests would be left….

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  22. I read with interest the article and comments on “conversion therapies”. I am very much of the view that the beliefs within some strands of religion, that gay people are on a misguided trajectory, such that we can be cured if we find Jesus, is a sad misunderstanding of the human condition and what is truly viable.

    We LGBTQI people don’t need curing, thank you. We don’t need to be directed at the fork in the roads for what is right for you. (The picture that accompanies this article is a curious one, as if it is the religious way or the fallen way.) What is right for you is seldom what is right for me.

    We can love God and be loved by God and let him into our lives without an established religion approving of it. But it is nice all the same to be part of a religious community, for those who gain benefit from it.

    Sone human beings do experiment with sexuality, while others don’t because they know who they are. I came to have a personal understanding of my sexuality and identity early on. I knew by the age of 12 that women didn’t interest me at all; while men did. Sexual and spiritual attraction to other males feels entirely normal to me.

    Scripture is often used to berate me but the world is more complex than scripture provides remedies for. I have had a few sexual encounters with women (yes, experimentation) and have not enjoyed it. I don’t need to be married to a woman to test whether it would work; it won’t – on any level.

    I am a happy homosexual, quite comfortable with who I am. I am married to a man, and the relationship I enjoy with my husband is pure joy, and on an equal par with heterosexual marriage. We look after one another and look out for one another. Our mental health is good, and we have many friends (hetero and homo) some of whom are deeply religious. We occasionally go to church and are welcomed.

    J and I grew up in religious families, within England, and they have fully accepted and enjoy the solidity of our relationship. Many of them feel that scripture was written at a time that the human condition was not fully understood. To accommodate gay people in the church, now, is the right thing to do. But please stop peddling conversion therapies, just love us as Jesus would love us. We don’t need to be cured.

    Some gay people take a long time to understand who they are. One of my colleagues recently left his wife because he knew he was gay, and yet it had been the pressure of society and religion that caused him to marry a woman. The divorce hurt his wife, understandably. She is devastated. Religion played a big part in pressuring him to marry a woman and stay with her despite him not being happy. He is soon to marry a man and is the happiest he’s ever been. If religion had not caused him to marry a woman, his wife would perhaps have found someone who would be compatible and stay with her for life.

    Being hidebound to scripture appears to cause harm to LGBTQI people, because of the way we are undermined by people with unshifting, fundamental religious beliefs. I have had friends who have been subjected as children to religious indoctrination: that there is something fundamentally wrong with them for being different. The wider societal stigma is thankfully ebbing away, as is the religious one. And we gay people now have legal protections that we did not enjoy a few years ago. But one of my friends was forced to see a psychologist at age 13, and was advised to masturbate thinking only of girls (among other therapies -some of which were toxic and constitute child abuse). He was given girly mags, of women showing their vaginas, and told to masturbate to them. He was forced to see a Vicar who admonished him for his gay thoughts. Eventually, he was so harmed by all of this that he ended up lying to everyone that he was now cured. He wasn’t and he knew he wasn’t but kept up the pretence until his mid-20s. Yet the religious community used it as an example of the success of the conversion therapies. He feels that religion damaged his journey of self-discovery. He often felt suicidal because he could not ever be what his religious community wanted him to be. Incidentally, he’s now happily married to a man.

    Mental health is deeply affected by the reactions of our peers, our communities, and society – particularly when we are looking for answers. This reaction is often dismissed as having a trivial impact on gay people. But it remains a daily issue. Coming out doesn’t happen just once. It happens daily when we meet people. Some people react badly when they find out J and I are a couple and shun us or actively discriminate. This should not be the case in a truly free society.

    So please, let us get rid of fanciful ideas of cure, or that we can be one with Jesus if only we would stop our sinful conduct. It’s just ridiculous to say that we need conversion.
    merely because we fall in love with someone of the same sex, and have a sex life. A sex life is bonding, and good for one’s health. We are monogamous. Statistics in the UK show that gay men divorce the least. We are good for society in being stable and nurturing.

    Let us get rid of the notion that people can be cured by conversion therapies. Such therapies are harmful. Let gay people get on with their lives. Yes, help us on our spiritual journey but don’t pretend you know that we can be cured of our sexuality. We can’t be.

    Liam

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