Is Paul Bayes asking the right questions about sexuality?

Andrew Goddard writes: The Bishop of Liverpool’s recent address at the launch of MoSAIC (Movement of Supporting Anglicans for an Inclusive Church) has, unsurprisingly, caused quite a stir. There have already been significant critiques of much of his central argument for same-sex marriage from Ian Paul and Martin Davie. What I want to do here is explore three other statements that he made in response to his question “What do I want to see?” in relation to inclusion “in the area of sexuality and relationships”. I do so in the hope of working out how much what he wants and what I and other evangelicals want might overlap. I also want to try to understand better where and why we differ and why in places he expressed what he wanted in ways that I find perplexing and difficult. In a subsequent piece I hope to explore what he says he wants in relation to the outcome of the LLF process.

1. Are clergy called to a ‘morally higher state’ than laity?

First, Bishop Paul said, “I want to see an abolition of the foolishness that sees the call to ordained ministry as a call to a state morally higher than that of the baptised, as though baptism called us to a lesser holiness”. I have to say that I don’t know any evangelicals or traditionalists on sexuality who would disagree with this statement. So what is the problem? No more is said, but one assumes that the problem is with his understanding of the House of Bishops’ current teaching and pastoral guidance. This, after all, is often distorted and falsely caricatured in this way because of a distinction it draws between clergy and laity as regards same-sex relationships.

That distinction originates with the final section of Issues in Human Sexuality which appeared 30 years ago this year. But the distinction there is not the one Bishop Paul makes and rightly describes as “foolish”. The distinction there is not about the call to holiness. It is about the different patterns of church discipline and forms of freedom of conscientious dissent against church teaching that the Church of England applies and recognises in relation to clergy and laity.

In chapter 5 of Issues, having set out two fundamental and equally valid principles in relation to sexuality (5.1-4), the bishops then commend the pattern of Christian holiness—“a life of abstinence”—that embodies these among what it called “Christian homophiles” and we would now refer to as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or same-sex attracted Christians. This they describe as “a path of great faithfulness…deserving of all praise and of the support of Church members through prayer, understanding and active friendship” (5.5). The bishops then recognise (in 5.6) that others “are conscientiously convinced that this way of abstinence is not the best for them”. They respond to this reality on the basis of “the historic tension in Christian ethical thinking between the God-given moral order and the freedom of the moral agent” and “respect for free conscientious judgment where the individual has seriously weighed the issues involved”. They are clear that their response as bishops to “a loving and faithful homophile partnership, in intention lifelong, where mutual self-giving includes the physical expression of their attachment” is that they are “unable to commend the way of life just described as in itself as faithful a reflection of God’s purposes in creation as the heterophile”. They are equally clear that “we do not reject those who sincerely believe it is God’s call to them”. There is here no suggestion of “a lesser holiness” but simply a respect for conscientious dissent from the church’s teaching being lived out on the part of Christians.

The bishops then place limits on that freedom of dissent in 5.7-10 before turning to consider the situation of those clergy who (like some laity) have reached a different judgement and “believe that the right way of life for them is that of an exclusive and permanent but also sexually active partnership” (5.12). The bishops’ argument in response is not that the clergy’s call is “to a state morally higher than that of the baptised” but that their representative and pastoral responsibilities lead to a different response. The key paragraph here (5.13) is worth quoting in full:

From the time of the New Testament onwards it has been expected of those appointed to the ministry of authority in the Church that they shall not only preach but also live the Gospel. These expectations are as real today as ever they were. People not only inside the Church but outside it believe rightly that in the way of life of an ordained minister they ought to be able to see a pattern which the Church commends. Inevitably, therefore, the world will assume that all ways of living which an ordained person is allowed to adopt are in Christian eyes equally valid. With regard to homophile relationships, however, this is, as we have already explained, a position which for theological reasons the Church does not hold. Justice does indeed demand that the Church should be free in its pastoral discretion to accommodate a God-given ideal to the human need, so that individuals are not turned away from God and their neighbour but helped to grow in love toward both from within their own situation. But the Church is also bound to take care that the ideal itself is not misrepresented or obscured; and to this end the example of its ordained ministers is of crucial significance. This means that certain possibilities are not open to the clergy by comparison with the laity, something that in principle has always been accepted.

This principled argument on the basis of the calling of clergy in relation to the teaching of the church combined with pastoral accommodation for those not ordained is followed by a more pragmatic argument from the pastoral acceptability of clergy in same-sex sexual relationships. This, although still important, has much less weight today than in 1991. What is key is that at no point is there established the “foolishness” that Bishop Paul believes exists and needs to be abolished.

This is confirmed by the discussion of this matter in Some Issues in Human Sexuality from 2003 which states (8.4.28, p. 267):

the Church could not call upon its clergy to act as teachers and exemplars of the Christian way of life, and yet say that they are free to live in ways that are contrary to that way of life as this is understood by the Church.

Here it is clear that there is “the Christian way of life” and that same-sex sexual relationships are not open to the clergy because they are contrary to this way of life. It is this – rather than that “baptism called us to a lesser holiness” – which explains the church’s position. The bishops then clearly articulate this by using a quotation from the Anglican moral theologian Michael Banner which directly repudiates what Bishop Paul appears to be alleging is the current Church of England position:

This is not a matter of the religious being subject to counsels of perfection which do not apply to the laity, for the Bishops do not say that it is right for the laity to have homosexual relationships and wrong for the clergy, but only that where the clergy have such relationships they, unlike the laity, create a scandal which consists in the fact that one whose authority is derived from the authority of the Church challenges that very authority.

The “foolishness” that Bishop Paul wants to see abolished is therefore not a reality in terms of the Church’s teaching and practice. It is though a reality in terms of many people’s understanding of that teaching and practice. It is so, in large part, because those like Bishop Paul who disagree with the church’s teaching have created and perpetuated the myth of a moral “double standard”. They have done so in order to then ridicule and discredit it as Bishop Paul does here and to advance the argument that the supposed more inclusive ethical call of the baptised needs now to be extended to the church’s ordained ministers. Framed in this way the proposal represents a removal of incoherence in the church’s position. In fact, the logic of the church’s position, is that to permit clergy to enter any form of sexual relationship outside marriage requires either a change in the church’s teaching concerning holiness or the abandonment of the principle that the clergy should be seeking to live holy lives in accordance with that teaching.

2. Are LGBTQ+ people hiding their identity?

Secondly, Bishop Paul said, “I want to see an end to LGBTQ+ people hiding who they are for fear of being exposed to conversion therapy or to being forbidden to minister in churches”. Understood in its plain sense this is something which I—and I believe the overwhelming majority of those committed to the church’s teaching—also want to see.

This wish of Bishop Paul is not, it has to be acknowledged, something that evangelicals have always shared and embodied and is still not a wish always present among evangelicals. As illustrated in the recent controversy in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA, which I discussed here) language concerning terminology describing oneself as a “gay Christian” or “same-sex attracted Christian”, is under attack in some circles committed to traditional sexual ethics even when the person concerned is also committed to that traditional ethic . Even more disturbing there is the recent move by the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) to require that “Men who self-identify as “gay Christian,” “same-sex attracted Christian,” homosexual Christian,” or like term shall be deemed not qualified for ordination in the Presbyterian Church in America (a detailed, technical account of the PCA process is in this Twitter thread).

There is a real problem here which needs confronting wherever it is found. However, while evangelical Anglicans are still certainly not perfect in practice, I see no evidence that these developments are gaining traction in the Church of England. In fact, the evidence points in the opposite direction. The Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) now has as its co-Chair, Ed Shaw, a same-sex attracted leader of a Bishops’ Mission Order. He is Director of Living Out whose vision is “to see Christians living out their sexuality and identity in ways that enable all to flourish in Christ-like faithfulness”. Living Out has made clear it does not support conversion therapy and has created a church audit to help church leaders evaluate how “biblically inclusive” their churches are. Among the areas it asks people to consider are whether “Your church family meetings include people who could be labelled LGBTQI+/ are same-sex attracted”, “A godly Christian’s sexual orientation would never prevent them from exercising their spiritual gifts or serving in leadership in your church” and “No-one would be pressurised into expecting or seeking any “healing” or change that God has not promised any of us until the renewal of all things”. The work of Living Out and these goals which seem to fit with what Bishop Paul says he wants are now mainstream thinking and viewed as essential good practice among UK evangelicals.

In the light of this, I have two questions for Bishop Paul. Firstly, does this not show we are on the same page here? Or, when you say “hiding who they are” are you really speaking about decisions about how to live in the light of who you are that are viewed by the church as wrong? When you refer to “conversion therapy” do you extend this beyond seeking to change people’s sexual orientation to include offering LGBTQ+ people forms of pastoral care and support that help them live in the ways they believe that Scripture and the church teaches that followers of Jesus should live?

Secondly, if we are on the same page—or nearly on the same page—are you and those who share MoSAIC’s vision able to welcome Living Out’s vision of “biblical inclusion” which is committed to the church’s current teaching? Can you and others help those of us who share that vision of inclusion to understand what more we need to do, within our theological framework and the current teaching of the church, “to see an end to LGBTQ+ people hiding who they are for fear of being exposed to conversion therapy or to being forbidden to minister in churches”?

3. Are ordinands subject to an inquisition about their private lives?

Thirdly, Bishop Paul wants “to see an end to the inquisition of ordinands about their private lives”. Here again there are few defenders of inquisition in the Church of England and questions therefore arise as to what in practice is being referred to in this comment given the bishops’ clear and consistent statements in this area.

In Issues (5.18) the bishops note that “some may propose that bishops should be more rigorous in searching out and exposing clergy who may be in sexually active homophile relationships. We reject this approach”. In explaining this they are clear that “Any general inquisition into the conduct of the clergy would not only infringe their right to privacy but would manifest a distrust not consonant with the commission entrusted to them, and likely to undermine their confidence and morale”. This is reaffirmed in Some Issues which notes that

it is…primarily the responsibility of the clergy concerned to respect their ordination vows by being obedient to the Church’s teaching and, as Issues notes, it would be wrong for the Church to ‘carry out intrusive interrogations in order to make sure that they are behaving themselves’. Nevertheless, it is right that the Church should set out what it expects from its clergy in terms of their personal behaviour as it always has done from biblical times, and that this expectation should reflect the Church’s moral standpoint” (8.4.29).

The summary in Living in Love and Faith (at p.142) also quotes Issues (the later para 5.22) saying that bishops “do not think it right to interrogate individuals on their sexual lives”.

So, is the claim that this longstanding commitment is being ignored by bishops and if so what is the evidence for this? Or is the language of “inquisition of ordinands” describing the process set down in documents such as the Guidelines for DDOs and Bishops’ Advisers about Candidates in Civil Partnerships (2017, pp.10-11) or Sending Candidates to BAP (2017)? These are clear that “all candidates are required to give assurance that they have read Issues in Human Sexuality and they are willing to live according to its guidelines”. Within this universal requirement, for those in civil partnerships or intending to enter into them, the 2005 Pastoral Statement from the bishops was clear (para 21, repeated as para 24 of the 2019 Pastoral Statement) that it “would be inconsistent with the teaching of the Church for the public character of the commitment expressed in a civil partnership to be regarded as of no consequence in relation to someone in—or seeking to enter—the ordained ministry” and such partnerships are widely seen as “sexually active relationships”. As a result, “Members of the clergy and candidates for ordination who decide to enter into partnerships must therefore expect to be asked for assurances that their relationship will be consistent with the teaching set out in Issues in Human Sexuality”.

DDOs completing Sponsoring Papers therefore need to spell out “How the diocese has addressed the issue of the civil partnership with the candidate”, “That the candidate is aware of the House of Bishops’ Guidelines and has agreed that he/she will live within them” and “That the candidate and their civil partnership have been discussed fully with the sponsoring bishop and that he is satisfied that the candidate’s situation is in line with the House of Bishops’ Guidelines”.

If it is these guidelines which are the problem then two questions arise: Is simply being asked to agree to live within the church’s teaching to be seen as equivalent to an “inquisition”? If so, is the proposed alternative that no assurances should be sought from any ordinand concerning their sexual conduct being consonant with the church’s teaching or is it the specific guidance on assurances in relation to civil partnerships (same-sex and/or opposite-sex) which is unacceptable?

In conclusion, I find myself in the strange position of disagreeing strongly with much of what Bishop Paul said in his address but I am able, I think, to agree with these three goals he sets out. I am, however, to varying degrees, confused as to why he has highlighted these and expressed his concerns in ways that seem to me to misrepresent the policies of the House of Bishops and the approach of those he disagrees with in relation to sexual ethics. When, therefore, he insists “These things must be done and I hope and believe that LLF will awaken the church and open the door to them” I am left asking myself, “Have I misunderstood him because in fact he means something quite different from me when he says what he wants or is there actually potential here for greater agreement or at least more constructive dialogue than we often realise?”

In a further article I will explore what Bishop Paul says he wants from LLF in relation to questions of conscience and unity and how much agreement there may potentially be in relation to these areas.

Revd Dr Andrew Goddard is Assistant Minister, St James the Less, Pimlico, Tutor in Christian Ethics, Westminster Theological Centre (WTC) and Tutor in Ethics at Ridley Hall, Cambridge.  He is a member of the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) and was a member of the Co-Ordinating Group of LLF.

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39 thoughts on “Is Paul Bayes asking the right questions about sexuality?”

  1. Surely, the following excerpt from ‘Issues’ is where the problem lies: “Justice does indeed demand that the Church should be free in its pastoral discretion to accommodate a God-given ideal to the human need, so that individuals are not turned away from God and their neighbour but helped to grow in love toward both from within their own situation.”

    Yet, numerous CoE evangelical commentators have accepted ‘Issues’, while insisting that same-sex sexual relationships cannot be pastorally accommodated in the same way that, for example, church re-marriage after divorce is pastorally accommodated.

    The validity of the latter position is open to dispute. However, it would be useful for Andrew Goddard (or others here) can unpack what the HoB meant by “justice does indeed demand”.

    Is that justice according to secular principles? Is there a scriptural precedent or warrant for accommodating a “God-given ideal to a human need” in relation to just the laity?

    Or is such an accommodation more related to the established Church tradition of avoiding ‘scandal’ (in the medieval sense, via a negotiated toleration that avoids causing widespread public disenchantment with and defection from the Church to the extent of rendering it ineffectual)?

  2. ‘Private lives’ is a secular way of looking at things, and also a cliche. One may as well cap it off with that other parroted cliche (whose unoriginality shows the lack of thought behind it) ‘What people get up to in their own bedrooms is no concern of mine.’

    Besides being (a) secularist, and (b) a cliche, it is also (c) very convenient for those who wish to live their lives in a selfish manner. Which is presumably the reason why people press this stance.

    Whereas Hebrews 4.13 ‘Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.’;

    Mark 4.22 ‘Nothing is hidden except to be revealed, and nothing kept secret unless to come to light.’ Matthew 10.27 expands this with shouting from the housetops.

  3. As for the double standards between ‘clergy’ and ‘laity’ it was already obvious at the time that this would cause problems. Although the Pastorals require a certain standard from leaders, how on earth does that mean that laity are encouraged that they need never meet that standard but that a more worldly or sinful standard is fine for them? That is to confirm people in their sin.

    • You’re absolutely right, Christopher. It’s not that clergy have been set a higher standard of behaviour than that which is expected of all of us; but the particular role of Christian leadership is such that those who cannot or will not meet the high standards God has set for everyone are not fitted for that role. However, the obligation for meeting those standards still applies equally to everyone.

      Of course when judgement comes only God sees the full picture, and he has every right to be merciful in whatever way he chooses. But who in their right mind would want to take the risk that the justification they assumed could still be theirs with a little latitude on God’s part was a certain prospect? And what Christian teacher in his or her right mind would dare risk leading others astray for the sake of such a temporary and dubious reward as being applauded by those who have already rejected the very notion of God’s sovereignty?

      The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I’m deliberately not engaged with LLF, but in all the artful differentiation and integration of many words which seems to characterise that project it’s hard to discern a heartfelt fear of the Lord about those who are driving it (and the CofE) to its unknown destination.

  4. Holiness:
    Here we have it as set out by Andrew Goodard: same sex activity whether in long term realtionship or not is not holy.
    Holiness in homosexually is recognised as a “one of faithful (to God)
    abstinencee”. 5.5
    In contradistinction (5.6) homosexual activity can not be ” commended” as faithfully reflecting God’s purposes in creation as the heterosexual.
    I’d suggest that by extension they are God’s holy purposes in creation. One is seen as holy, one as unholy, outwith God’s purposes.

    Justice: 5:12 sets out that justice “demands” that people are not turned away from God and neighbour but with the caveat that “the ideal itself is not misrepresented or obscured.” It is in this caveat context that sexual lifestyles are to be placed. Do those of ordained ministers misrepresent or obscure God’s purposes? ” It is of crucial significance. This means that certain possibilities are not open to clergy that are open to laity.”
    Their calling including a role as teachers requires it.
    Although Andrew Goddard writes that there is less emphasis on this today than in 1991.
    If so, I’d suggest that is evidence of submission, succumbing to the secular world.
    And to be clear the bishops undersding of the meaning of “world” is to be determined from the context of The World Council of Churches in the 1960’s
    It is at and on this point that Martin Davie has, with accedemic rigor, clearly drawn out that meaning and it is at odds with the manner and purpose which the Bishop seeks to attribute.

    (This is a separate issue from church discipline.)

    • Hi Herschel,

      thnks for joining in. I think we are on the same page. However, can I gently suggest that argument by slogan is not the best way to proceed. The ‘other side’ are adept at this kind of thing – see the references to the slogan ‘Love is love’ in Andrew’s second article published on this blog today. “That’s homophobic” is another example of an attempt to close down the argument.

      Deeper arguments are needed in this area of our nature as human beings, human relationships, sexual activity and the purposes of God. Also, anyone in a place of church leadership needs to recognise the pastoral issues that arise, for which slogans are very unhelpful. There are people both inside and outside the church who need help to live well in accordance with God’s best will, even if that seems to conflict with their innate desires, or their “identity”.

  5. I would point out that in regards to sexual relationships exactly the same kind of constraints apply to heterosexual clergy. A candidate for ordination who is living in a sexual relationship with a member of the opposite sex to whom they are not married would not be considered. If an unmarried clergyman were to start such a relationship with a woman, that should attract the ire of his bishop. (I know of a case of someone coming forward to train as an LLM who was found to be in such a heterosexual relationship. They were rejected.)

    If a candidate for ordination is divorced and the former spouse is alive, then there are significant hoops to jump through, lest the circumstances of the divorce would be a scandal in the Church.

    However, we do not drive out those coming to our churches who are divorced and remarried (although the Roman Catholic Church does have issues with such) nor those ‘living in sin’. However, we do so without affirming divorce or that lifestyle.

  6. “Living Out does not support conversion therapy”. This is such a controversial statement that it needs unpacking. Do Andrew Goddard and Living Out support the criminalising of any biblically-based pastoral or therapeutic response to expressed hoped-for change in desires of sexual orientation or gender confusion, as well-known campaigners inside the C of E leadership and in Parliament propose? If not, and if there isn’t room in this piece to expand further, then it probably shouldn’t be there.

    Also, I’m hearing from this piece that friendly, reasonable dialogue with the likes of Paul Bayes in the spirit of LLF is the way forward, while fellowship with ACNA and Nigeria is broken because of their ‘homophobia’? Mmmm…not sure.

    • There is no such thing as non coercive conversion therapy, however ‘biblically based’ or ‘therapeutic’ it purports to be.

      • 1 How about Tavistock?
        2 Define therapeutic? Is it objective and or subjective? Science based? Biological? Psychological? Merely affirmative?
        3 Define coersion? Does it include free- will request? Does it include informed consent?

        • 1) what has the Tavistock to do with conversion therapy?

          2) I didn’t use the term ‘therapeutic’; I was quoting Andrew.

          3)coercion means forcible persuasion; people can and do request conversion therapy and it still be coerced because the assumption is that being gay or bi is evil or disordered.

          • Hi Penelope,

            The American Psychological Association’s definitive study ‘Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation’ ( states:
            “Same-sex sexual attractions and behavior occur in the context of a variety of sexual orientations and sexual orientation identities, and for some, sexual orientation identity (i.e., individual or group membership and affiliation, self-labeling) is fluid or has an indefinite outcome.”

            “Some individuals choose to live their lives in accordance with personal or religious values (e.g., telic congruence). however, telic congruence based on stigma and shame is unlikely to result in psychological well-being.”

            “The available evidence, from both early and recent studies, suggests that although sexual orientation is unlikely to change, some individuals modified their sexual orientation identity (i.e., individual or group membership and affiliation, self-labeling) and other aspects of sexuality (i.e., values and behavior). They did so in a variety of ways and with varied and unpredictable outcomes, some of which were temporary.”

            “Sexual orientation identity exploration can help clients create a valued personal and social identity that provides self-esteem, belonging, meaning, direction, and future purpose, including the redefining of religious beliefs, identity, and motivations and the redefining of sexual values, norms, and behaviors (Beckstead & Israel, 2007; Glassgold, 2008; Haldeman, 2004; Mark, 2008; Tan, 2008; Yarhouse, 2008).”

            “We encourage LMHP (Licensed Mental Health Professionals) to support clients in determining their own:
            (a) goals for their identity process;
            (b) behavioral expression of sexual orientation;
            (c) public and private social roles;
            (d) gender role, identity, and expression;
            (e) sex and gender of partner; and
            (f) form of relationship(s)”

            Prof. Marie-Amelie George (who is LGBT-affirming, has exposed the shortsightedness of LGBT advocacy groups condemning even this kind of requested sexual identity therapy as conversion therapy:
            “ Despite its ubiquity and success in securing rights, many scholars have criticized the legal strategy as unduly confining, exclusionary, and legally fraught. Requiring individuals’ sexual identities to be immutable implies that being LGBT would otherwise be invalid, with civil rights depending on an empirical premise that scientists may later prove incorrect. Scholars have also claimed that pursuing immutability may have subverted the movement’s interests, which should have challenged gendered and sexual categories rather than essentializing them.”

            “The anti-conversion therapy campaign, by using the bans to emphasize immutability and discounting sexual identity therapy, reinforces the contours of the mainstream LGBT rights movement.”

            “The campaign should oppose efforts to change sexual orientation. However, it must also recognize that sexual expression is a choice, and one deserving of respect. This also means the campaign must distinguish between the sexual identity therapy that licensed mental health professionals offer in supportive and nonjudgmental environments and behavioral modification rooted in moralistic and stigmatizing assumptions about homosexuality, rather than simply dismiss sexual identity therapy by licensed mental health professionals“

            Geoff’s question does probe whether this kind of therapy is included in your definition of conversion therapy.

            And if the wrong of conversion therapy is that it involves coercion (i.e. illegitimate forms of persuasion that overrides genuine legitimate consent), then the case of Bell v Tavistock is indeed relevant to this discussion.

          • coercion means forcible persuasion; people can and do request conversion therapy and it still be coerced because the assumption is that being gay or bi is evil or disordered.

            You may very well think that ‘the assumption is that being gay or bi is evil or disordered’ is incorrect; but even accepting that, it is obviously possible to come to an incorrect view without being forced.

            So the fact that someone believes something incorrect does not in itself mean that they were forced into that belief. They may have come to that incorrect conclusion entirely of their own free will, ie, without any forcing or coercion.

          • Hi David

            Yes it is. Even the APA admit it is of limited value.
            My question would be: why do (some) religious denominations teach queer folk that being queer is intrinsically wrong? If they did not, no one would see their orientation as disordered and want to be ‘cured’.
            Trying to convince people that they aren’t trans is another form of cruel conversion therapy. The outcome of the Bell/Tavistock appeal will be interesting.

          • Hi Penelope,

            “Limited value” is not the same as harmful. Grief counselling is also of limited value ( That certainly hasn’t warranted a wholesale declaration that any and every form of it is harmful and deserving an outright ban.

            Even the value of homoeopathy is highly questionable, but Parliamentary scrutiny hasn’t resulted in banning its practitioners.

            And, as Prof. M-A. George has explained, the overused litigation tactic of essentialising sexual identities as immutable (while conflating sex and gender) will eventually (and needlessly) alienate many of the earlier allies of the LGBT movement through the doctrinaire rejection of perfectly rational scientific inferences which contradict such ideological dogma.

          • Hi David

            i didn’t claim that all sexual identities are immuntable, but where they are conversion therapy is actively harmful and ineffective, cf. Turing.

            Many gay or ssa Chrisitians have stories of willingly undergoing conversion therapy because they thought it would cure a hateful orientation. Hateful because they had been taught that being queer is hateful to God. None of these attempts worked. All acused long lasting trauma.

            I have great respect for gay Christians who believe that they are called to celibacy because of their reading of scripture. I have utter contempt for churches which attempt to make gay people straight and for organisations which sell snake oil.

          • Penelope,

            No, you didn’t claim that all sexual identities are immutable, but the question is on what basis you would demand that the APA’s recommendation of requested sexual identity therapy (as described above) to be either banned or permitted.

            “Of limited value” really doesn’t justify a ban, does it?

          • Hi David

            It does if the therapy being offered has the potential to do great harm.
            If grief therapy has limited efficacy, then at least it does no harm (so far as I know).
            Besides which, the analogy fails because we would all agree (I hope) that grief needs ameliorating, whereas we would not all agree that being queer is something which can – or should be – cured.

          • Hi Penelope,

            “We would all agree that grief needs ameliorating” Er, the whole point of the APA recommendation is that the client (rather than other people’s opinions) has discretion in deciding whether amelioration is required.

            And while you can really entertain the possibility that “the therapy being offered has the potential to cause great harm” when my question about what should be banned was specifically related to the peer-reviewed APA’s recommendation on sexual identity therapy.

            Are you suggesting that the APA’s recommendations are potentially harmful? And, if so, where’s the evidence that contradicts their position?

          • I meant to write: “ And how you can really entertain the possibility that “the therapy being offered has the potential to cause great harm” when my question about what should be banned was specifically related to the peer-reviewed APA’s recommendation on sexual identity therapy?”

          • The evidence is in the lives of people who have been traumatised by reparative therapy: both secular and religious.
            And it doesn’t work.
            If someone invented a cure for cancer which didn’t work, the medical profession wouldn’t continue using it. Though snake oil salesmen might.

          • Straw man. Now, you’re conflating sexual identity therapy (as recommended by the APA) with reparative therapy.

            They’re not synonymous. So, however you may decry the latter, it has no relevance to the efficacy of the former.

            APA’s peer-reviewed evidence-based recommendations (some of which LGBT advocacy groups have so readily leveraged in furtherance of their cause) are hardly tantamount to snake oil.

          • Penelope:

            My question to you would be this: Why do some folk – including some who call themselves Christians – persist in referring to gay people as “queer”? That word has been used for many decades by anti-gay abusers to signal their thoroughly vile attitude to gay people. It has been used to terrorize generations of gay adolescents and to cast a pall over their lives, by sending them the message that their natural sexuality is “wrong” and “perverted”, and that they therefore don’t have the same moral right as other people to be treated fairly and decently, but deserve to be despised and maltreated. It is the word used by those who harass, beat up and even murder gay people. It is a word used in other contexts to mean odd, grotesque, undesirable, sinister, even criminal.

            So if people who ought to know better didn’t keep using such language, perhaps fewer young gay people would mistakenly see their orientation as “disordered” and want to be “cured”.

          • Hi William

            I’ve only just seen your question, havinbg left this thread. Sorry.
            Why do I persist in using the term queer?

            Because many LGBTIQ+ people use this term to describe their identities, their lives and their episetemologies.
            True, it used to be a slur, but marginalised groups sometimes reappropriate slurs which have demeaned and othered them, as badges of pride and identity.

            Cf. Jesus’ appropriation of the slur ‘eunuchs’ in Matthew 19.12.

          • Hi, Penelope.

            It is not helpful for gay people – and least of all for young gay people who are in the process of coming to terms with their minority sexuality – to think and speak of themselves as “queer”. To encourage them to do so is irresponsible and abusive. Those who suggest that we “reappropriate” the term can work it.

            There are no such entities as LGBTIQ+ people. The illogical and misleading LGBT initialism was invented to try to con people who are gay, lesbian or bisexual into thinking that they are ipso facto obliged to support the crackpot “gender” ideology and unreasonable demands of trans extremists, and that they are being traitors to an imaginary “LGBT community” if they decline to do so. (I need hardly add that we have no such obligation.) The I has been included of late in order to play the same manipulative and dishonest trick on intersex people. That ridiculous initialism and all its extensions need ditching, and the sooner the better.

      • For conversion therapy, you’ve identified the use of illegitimate (forcible) persuasion as wrong

        As the aforementioned case shows, Tavistock has also perpetrated illegitimate persuasion.

        To paraphrase your earlier comment: “ “people can and do request puberty blockers and it [can] still be coerced because the assumption is that a gender-confused child continuing in their native sex without medical interventions, like puberty blockers, (until lawful consent can be given) is evil or disordered.”

        • The case is at Appeal.

          What is wrong is persuading anyone that to remain in the sex to which they do not belong is either ethical or effective. That is conversion therapy.

          Lawful consent is Gillick competence.

          Puberty blockers are reversible.

          The waiting lists at GID clinics are years long, so no-one is being rushed into medical interventions.

          • “What is wrong is persuading anyone that to remain in the sex to which they do not belong is either ethical or effective.”

            And it’s just as wrong to assume thar gender dysphoria is ample proof that those affected by it do not “belong” to their native sex.

            Despite the appeal, at the very least, the Tavistock judgment casts serous doubt on whether 14 or 15 year olds could understand the long-term risks and consequences of puberty blockers..

            We don’t need to rehearse our previous debate on the Gender Identity Service’s admission that it had no knowledge of the effect of puberty blockers on adolescent brain development.

          • It was questioned whether the original court judgment was in line with Gillick. See my response to Geoff below citing the Good Law Project.

            A real concern in the original case is that Transgender Trend were allowed to give evidence as ‘experts’.

      • Penelope:

        The GIDS at the Tavistock has encouraged young people to believe that they can “transition” to the other sex (which is impossible), and has had them taking puberty blockers, which impede their natural development, followed in most cases by cross-sex hormones, which irreversibly distort it.

        To use your own words to me of July 2019: Sorry, Penelope, that ship has sailed. People are using the term conversion therapy for that.

  7. It certainly does. Some may in good describe conversion as state sponsored child abuse with no fully informed consent, children, who are highly suggestible to peer, professional and parent pressure.
    As a matter of statute of limitations, a child would have 3 years after their 18 th birthday to sue their parent or whoever is in loco parentis or negligent advice.

  8. A clear misuse and misunderstanding of the word based on ideology.
    And a high handed dismissal of some who in freedom of individual conscience would so describe it.
    However, the point made in relation to the law can not be so readily dismissed by your mere opinion, let alone a poor understanding of malice in contrast to good conscience and the law of defamation.
    You are wrong about it not being conversion therapy.
    According to your view, the High Court decision was defamatory, and malicious of… who?
    And Kiera Bell … had conversion therapy practiced on her. And the exercise of her legal right was not struck out for being, “scandelous. frivolous or vexatious.”

    • We do not yet know the results of the Appeal.
      However, they did express concern about whether the original judgment was in line with the Gillick principles, and queried whether the Court should have provided that guidance at all given that the Tavistock had not been found to be acting illegally. The judges also raised questions about whether judicial review was the correct way for the Respondent to have challenged issues it may have with the pre-existing regulatory guidance, emphasising that it is not the role of the Court to redraft it or to make a professional assessment of conflicting expert evidence.

      “Our intervention, backed by a coalition of health organisations and LGBTQ+ charities, including the world’s leading authority on hormones, the Endocrine Society, young people’s sexual health organisation Brook, and Gendered Intelligence, was submitted in writing and will be considered alongside the other materials when the judges make their decision.

      Overall, although we will not know until the Court of Appeal hands down its decision, our impression is that we had a good hearing and at least some, and we hope much, of the harm done by the Divisional Court to the rights of gender incongruent young people to access medical care is likely to be undone.”
      Good Law Project

  9. None of that negates the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim.
    And as I pointed out in ents on the High Court case, an unwritten public policy which the courts take into account is the avoidance of the multiplicy of cases.
    And of course it is one sided a smidgeon of the conclusion.
    But it remains conversion therapy.
    And I could comment further on the Gillick principle, and its application for irreversible life changing interventions, but it is pointless, as it has been argued in Court..
    Apart from the serious unequal matter of funding litigation it could go to the Supreme Court.


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