Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (R – Minnesota) has recently come under fire because of some practices at two Christian counseling centers operated by her husband Marcus Bachmann (PhD, Clinical Psychology). Apparently Dr. Bachmann, or at least one or more of his employees, have counseled people struggling to leave homosexuality by telling them to turn to God.
I must admit that I don’t trust politicians much—even those who are closer to my own views. It’s difficult to trust the folks in Washington because we’ve become so accustomed to the corruption, empty promises, and lies. Since we live in a sound byte culture it is almost impossible to know when you are even getting an accurate depiction of someone because little-to-no context is provided. I am theologically and politically conservative so I may be fairly close to Michele Bachmann politically (although I don’t know enough about her to know for sure), but I still have trouble trusting her.
So let’s take a look at this story that has been all over the news. A homosexual named John Becker with a couple of hidden cameras visited one of Dr. Bachmann’s clinics and pretended to be seeking their help to leave homosexuality. Over the course of several sessions, Becker was told that God had created him for heterosexuality and he was given some advice to help him leave homosexuality, such as reading the Bible, praying, and finding a heterosexual man who could serve as an AA-type mentor. He was also referred to a Christian group that specializes in helping the sexually and relationally broken.
When this news broke, the talking heads launched their assaults at Dr. and Mrs. Bachmann decrying the notion that someone could become an “ex-gay.” MSNBC and many other organizations from the liberal side of things mocked the therapy as “pray away the gay.” Others have claimed that it is impossible to change someone’s sexual orientation because they are allegedly born that way.
My primary concern over this issue is theological in nature, but I do have a few comments to make before getting to that.
First, the notion that someone cannot become an ex-gay is contradicted by the thousands of ex-homosexuals in this country. There are numerous ministries devoted to helping people leave homosexuality and some of them have been started by ex-gays. This doesn’t mean that a person who leaves homosexuality won’t struggle with their decision or be tempted to go back to their former ways. But it is clear that a homosexual can make the decision to become straight.
Second, there is no evidence for the so-called “gay gene.” Many researchers have tried to find such a genetic trait but to no avail. I have a good friend who is married with children. He has an identical twin brother who is a homosexual. These two men have identical DNA yet one is heterosexual and the other is homosexual. I don’t deny that some people may be more predisposed to certain behaviors (e.g., alcoholism, obesity, homosexuality, etc.), but ultimately the person must decide whether he is going to give into their temptations. An alcoholic did not have to become an alcoholic, even if they were predisposed to it and grew up in an alcoholic family.
Third, John Becker came to Dr. Bachmann’s clinic asking for help to leave homosexuality. The same is true for anyone else coming to his clinics seeking help in this area. Why is it so wrong for a counselor to assist someone who comes to them for help? It seems that the main reason some people are so offended by this case is that homosexuality was being treated as something abnormal and that calling upon Jesus Christ was given as the solution. If we are supposed to be so tolerant of everyone’s beliefs, then why are those complaining about the Bachmanns so intolerant of the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality?
There are several other points that could be made about this subject, but I want to turn my attention to the attack on Scripture here. All of those people out there, including some professing Christians, who are claiming that a person cannot become an ex-gay are saying that the Bible is wrong. Let’s take a close look at what Paul said to the Corinthians.
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9–11, NKJV)
Notice that after listing all of those sinful behaviors Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit stated, “and such were some of you.” So some of the Christians in Corinth were former idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, etc. What happened to them? They were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. I don’t know if every bit of counsel provided in Dr. Bachmann’s clinics was biblically sound, but I do know if you deny that a person can become an ex-gay, then you are rejecting the teaching of God’s Word.
The Bible is very clear that homosexual behavior is a sin (see also Leviticus 18, Romans 1, 1 Timothy 1, and an article I wrote earlier this year on this subject). However, the temptation to sin is not the same as sin. James 1:14–15 states, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” A person may be predisposed to homosexuality and be tempted to engage in homosexual behavior. But the predisposition and temptation are not sinful. It becomes sinful when the person gives into those desires either mentally or physically.
Finally, let me clarify that some people in the church have done a poor job of handling this topic. They may have boldly and accurately proclaimed that homosexuality is a sin, but have they been willing to help a young person who may be struggling with these tendencies? Have they singled out homosexuality as a sin, but ignored the other sins that show up in those lists like adultery, idolatry, theft, and drunkenness?
We are all born with a sinful nature and are predisposed to sin. Yet God commands us not to sin. When I sin, I have no right to blame someone else for my sinful behavior. I need to take responsibility for my own actions. I am thankful that I serve a merciful, gracious, and loving God, who was willing to take my place on the Cross and die for my sins. The Bible tells us that God is patiently waiting before returning to judge this world and all of those who have rejected His offer of salvation. He is waiting so that more people will turn from their sins and trust in Him (2 Peter 3:9).
If you are a believer, are you speaking the truth boldly and lovingly? Are you willing to help those who struggle with sin or are you more content to condemn them? Or have you given into societal pressures and lies on this issue and compromised biblical truth? If you are an unbeliever, are you willing to forsake your sin and call out to Jesus Christ, the only one who can save you?