PASTORS STOPPING THE HARM
Few spiritual interventions cause the degree of harm that efforts to change someone’s sexual or gender identity do. From deeply internalized shame and self-loathing, to depression, high risk behaviours like substance abuse, and suicidal ideation, attempts, and death by suicide, sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts (SOGICE) have caused profound trauma. When these efforts are practiced in the context of one’s faith community, by the spiritual authority figure, the harm goes incredibly deep.
Recently, efforts to ban the practice of conversion therapy, particularly for minors, have intensified. Two Canada-wide petitions asking the government for a federal ban have garnered thousands of signatures. The challenge with legislative efforts is that many SOGICE experiences do not take place in therapists’ offices.
Much of the harm is experienced in churches – perpetrated by well-meaning pastors.
For decades there has been a steady stream of Christian resources published to equip the local pastor to believe they could be used of God to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Exorcisms. Prayer sessions. Bible memorization. Accountability. Church discipline. Counselling attempts.
Energized by a theology that taught that LGBTQ2+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, Two-Spirit, plus people) were inherently sinful, disordered, and in need of repair, the damage caused by the Christian community is unfathomable.
Psychological trauma. Emotional trauma. Spiritual trauma. Physical trauma. Financial trauma
It is more than time for: Pastors Stopping The Harm
“After 30 years pursuing SOGICE, and nearly 6 years after coming out, I continue to experience visceral barriers to dating men and I now hate myself for my inability to get over my own homophobia. I feel deeply alone and hopeless, fearing that I will not be able to love another man after 3 decades of hating the gay man I saw in the mirror every day. All of the rules of ex-gay ministry penetrated so deeply into my psyche. I don’t like being with myself. I can’t befriend my worst enemy yet: the gay man that looks back at me from the mirror.” ~ a SOGICE Survivor
We are calling on Canadian pastors to speak up for the prevention of sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts.
Sign on to commit to the following statements:
We believe LGBTQ2S+ people are created in the image of God.
We believe LGBTQ2S+ people are Beloved of God.
We believe that God’s plans and purposes for people are good and do not result in shame, self-hatred, depression, suicidal ideation, or death by suicide.
We acknowledge that efforts to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity have proven ineffective and harmful.*
We repent of the harm done to LGBTQ2S+ people in the name of Jesus.
We pledge to participate in pursuing justice for LGBTQ2+ people.
We call on our fellow pastors to cease any spiritual interventions with the purpose of changing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Are you a pastor or church leader? Sign up in support!
Are you a church member? Ask your pastor to sign on!
Spread the Word on Social Media
Regardless of how long you attempted SOGICE or the degree to which you feel the ongoing impact of those experiences, please know:
We are sorry. No one should have ever been made to feel that they needed to change an intrinsic part of themselves to be loved by God.
You are Beloved. You have inestimable dignity and value just as you are.
You are not alone. If you would like to get connected with other survivors, please contact us.
There is support. If you would like to talk with someone about your experiences, please contact us.
Your voice matters. If you would like to share your story, please contact us.
Generous Space is sponsoring this campaign as part of our ongoing commitment to be a living apology for the harm LGBTQ2+ people experienced in the history of our ministry. From its beginning in 1985 until the mid-2000’s, people came to the ministry (then known as New Direction) to pursue SOGICE.
More about our history
This letter written to survivors – 2013
This article in Macleans Magazine – July, 2013
This blog post – October, 2018
This article in Broadview Magazine – June, 2019