by Monte Sahlin
From Adventist News Network, March 20, 2014
“We tend to see things in terms of black and white. The shades of gray between them provoke a lot of anxiety,” Dr. Curtis Fox, chair of the Department of Counseling and Family Sciences at Loma Linda University, warned leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination attending the council studying sexuality this week (March 17-20). He addressed theories put forward by some Christians that family dysfunction, sexual trauma and other environmental factors are triggers for homosexuality. Reality may be more nuanced than some faith communities will be comfortable acknowledging, the Adventist behavioral scientist said.
Fox’s presentation provided a perspective from social science on the challenges facing the Adventist Church on issues related to sexuality. “Reality is complex,” Fox said. “Simple explanations will not suffice, and will be seen as less than helpful by those who are dealing with this,” Fox said. So-called “reparative therapy” Fox said, assumes that sexual orientation for every individual is exclusively a matter of choice that can be reversed through the exercise of willpower in a supportive, Christian environment. While some people say they have found personal transformation through such therapy, others report no change and, in many cases, exacerbated psychological and emotional trauma, Fox said. Such outcomes have raised “serious concerns” and prompted major health organizations to “denounce” reparative therapy.
Fox also outlined the effects of “societal prejudice” against LGBT youth. Marginalized gay and lesbian young people are more likely, he said, to attempt suicide, have high levels of depression and drug abuse and are more vulnerable to HIV and STIs. He went on to counter widespread myths about members of the gay and lesbian community, among them that most pedophiles are gay; that gay relationships are transient; and that gay parents typically raise gay children.
“My role as a behavioral scientist is to get people to think, inspire dialogue and be inquisitive in the pursuit of knowledge,” Fox said, acknowledging that he brings his own “set of assumptions” to the discussion. “My biblical worldview takes into account creation by God and the fall. Hence chance, variation, anomaly and degeneration are now part of human reality,” he said. “God works with humans in their imperfections, but the church need not be apologetic for its stance on relationships.” Rather, it should become “skillful in interpreting and declaring truths as revealed in a highly defensive, politically charged and radically individualistic environment.”
The church’s approach, then, Fox said, “should be characterized by humility, not bigotry, hatred and marginalization. We must adopt not just the message of Jesus, but the ministry methods of Jesus as well. It is the high calling of the church to love homosexuals as our neighbors, no less than we do our heterosexual neighbors.”
The Adventist News Network (ANN) is the official news service of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. ANN has supplied Adventist Today with a series of six releases about the conference on sexuality attended March 17-20 by denominational officials from around the world. Adventist Today has published these with only light editing and made no attempt to confirm the reported information.