Yesterday, I woke up to the news of Bethel’s new project, the Changed Movement. They describe it as “a community of friends who once identified as LGBTQ+.” These are stories range from people who are gay to people who were simply gender-nonconforming, all insisting they are better off denying who they are based on Bethel’s doctrine. I spent the day in tears, literally sickened at the thought that anyone could consciously advocate for something as harmful as conversion therapy.
First, my fellow Jesus followers, lets address the biblical argument. The word “homosexual” literally was not in the Bible until 1900s. Depending on what language, dates I’ve found range from 1946 to 1983. Before then, the passages like Leviticus 18:22 that are often used to bash the LGBT+ community were actually condemning pedophilia. There was a common practice at the time that involved young, sometimes prepubescent, boys being coupled with older men. That is what Scripture is condemning, not a loving, consensual relationship between two same-sex adults.
Scripture condemns pedophilia and assault, not the LGBT+ community.Tweet
Decades ago, perhaps this type of doctrine could be more easily credited to ignorance. Now, however, we have the internet. There are so many resources put out by Christians that go into the history of the church’s relationship with the LGBT+ community, that show this doctrine to be a faulty translation at best and a deeply damaging doctrine at worst.
Bethel, you should know better.
You know that, as one of the most well-known churches in the country, your leadership carries weight. You know how we are called to love, and the severe consequences of leading little ones astray. This doctrine is doing just that. LGBT+ teens who go through conversion therapy and consume related doctrine are over 8 times more likely to kill themselves than LGBT+ teens who don’t. That is not something the Jesus I know would advocate for.
Bethel, you are abusing the least of these, those who are young and vulnerable, shamed and downtrodden, hurt, discriminated against, and many times carrying generational trauma in their bones.
Outside of the biblical argument for LGBT+ affirmation, we know that conversion therapy actively harms people. There is no shortage of people and organizations calling out the way it abuses minors, especially in states where there is still no legal protection against it. It is harmful, it is evil, and it traumatizes children for being who they are.
Some types of conversion therapy are more mild, simply using severe shaming and manipulation, which seems to be what Bethel is vocally advocating for. This type of conversion therapy is still harmful, traumatizing, and increases risk of depression and suicide in those who go. (This is all beside the fact that conversion therapy has a failure rate of at least 99.99%, not including people who are still choosing to live a lie.) More severe methods have included treatments that advocate for self harm, as well as direct physical abuse of children in desperate attempts to make them not be gay. These types of conversion therapy not only carry the same mental health risks, but pose a direct physical danger to children and teens who go through them. All forms have been shown to leave survivors with PTSD and difficulty healthily expressing their sexual orientation and gender identity later in life.
Follow Jesus, and love.