The I newspaper recently reported a very distressing case of a woman claiming that her pastor raped her in order to “cure” her of her Lesbianism. If true, then this is another horrendous example of abuse in the church. It may not be possible now to establish the truth concerning the allegations about he pastor so long after the event but it should be possible for the churches concerned and the Evangelical Alliance who are named in the report to establish the veracity of the events surround it. If there was a failure to properly engage with a serious case of abuse then that is a matter for repentance.
However, it is worth pausing for a moment to look at the point that the article comes to. The reason that this story has emerged is that the Evangelical Alliance have been involved in responding to proposed legislation to criminalise and outlaw Gay Conversion Therapies. Such therapies are rooted in the presupposition that it is possible for someone to experience change in their sexual orientation. Historically, this has included manipulative and potentially abusive techniques.
The EA, like most evangelical organisations would reject and condemn so called therapies that are themselves, manipulative abusive and harmful. However, they’ve argued that the legislation as proposed would outlaw even the practice of agreeing to pray with someone who asked for prayer and specifically wanted God to change their sexual orientation.
Now here’s the point. What the I have done is instead of responding to the EA’s case is to use a previous story to attempt to discredit people like Peter Lynas and their argument now by pointing to an alleged failure in practice. But in fact the story here is not relevant to the point being made. The sole outcome of any investigation that establishes failings here should be once again for the church to look at how it deals with allegations of abuse.
You see, if there was rape and sexual abuse in this case, then we are dealing with matters that are already subject to criminal prosecution. In fact the supposed intent of the crime is not the relevant issue here. The reality is that a man is alleged to have coerced and abused a vulnerable young woman within his pastoral care. The idea that such activities would in any way cause someone to change their sexual orientation is ridiculous, it is clearly a lie made up by evil people to justify their wicked behaviour. Let’s be blunt about it, the allegation is not that a kindly pastor did something terrible in the mistaken belief that he was helping and healing someone. No, the story here, the allegation is that a middle aged man was willing to betray his wife and harm a young, vulnerable woman in his care for his own sexual gratification. That’s what this story is about. The story is not about Gay Conversion Therapy, it is about sexual abuse.
Therefore, the case is completely irrelevant to the question of whether or not someone should be able of their own free volition to say to a Christian friend or their pastor “I don’t want to wrestle with same-sex sexual attraction anymore. Will you pray with me.” And it has nothing to do with that friend responding by saying “You know that God loves you, you are justified by faith and that is not going to change whatever happens. It may be that God is calling you to live a celibate life whilst continuing to be same-sex attracted. But we trust in Christ to do more than we can ask or imagine, so yes I’ll pray with you and we’ll ask God for what you desire.”