autumnEvangelical leaders spoke out against “reparative” mental health therapy for LGBT people in October but still called on them to “change,” saying that only through faith in Jesus could they find “wholeness and holiness.”

The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood that met at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., had been under fire from LGBT activists for failing to condemn reparative therapy, sometimes also called “conversion” therapy.

Oregon, California, New Jersey and the District of Columbia prohibit licensed therapists from attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a minor. However, the Biblical Counselors group, as religious advisers, is not necessarily subject to those bans.

Dozens of activists from the Fairness Campaign, a Louisville LGBT advocacy group, demonstrated near the campus, saying reparative therapy increases the rate of depression and suicide in the LGBT community and objecting to religious calls to “change.”

In a press conference, Albert Mohler, president of the seminary, and Heath Lambert, ACBC executive director, said psychological therapy, including reparative therapy, is a “superficial” response to the “struggle” people face in dealing with same-sex attraction and transgender identity.

A joint statement later released by Mohler and Lambert still used the language of “change” and “repair” for LGBT people who, Mohler said, can only find “wholeness and holiness” through faith in Jesus.

In an interview, Mohler said: “We are not saying homosexuality can’t change or shouldn’t change. This is not something that can be reduced to deciding or choosing an object of sexual attraction. That’s simplistic and a sin against those who are in the struggle (with sexual attraction and gender identity).”

Every person struggling with sin — whether it’s pride or anger or sexual attraction — faces the same kind of battle, Mohler added. Only the gospel promises transformation because it can “make us desire things we have never desired before and it will give us progressively the ability to follow him in obedience.”

He dismissed the argument by LGBT activists that they, too, can be faithful Christians.

Lambert told RNS before the conference, “We’re in a culture where Christians are the only ones that can teach moral sanity in the midst of the moral craziness we’re in.” BT

By Cathy Lynn Grossman, Religion News Service