Wednesday, June 22, 2016

At PCUSA General Assembly, Against Reparative/Conversion Therapy

This is my testimony against reparative/conversion therapy, debated yesterday at General Assembly of the PCUSA:

For Bill/Motion #11-23

The Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell

In Psalm 139: 13-15, the Psalmist wrote, “For you yourself created my inmost parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will thank you because I am marvelously made; your works are wonderful, and I know it well.  My body was not hidden from you, while I was being made in secret and woven in the depths of the earth.”

These words from Ps. 139 are my touchstone as I came out of the gay closet I lived in for forty years and realized that our Creator made each of us: male, female and non-binary identity, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex, and it was good.  Nowhere in this Psalm or any Scripture do we read or hear that God didn’t make us as we are.  As one popular poster in the 1960s boasted proudly, “God don’t make junk.”  The Creator created us just as the Creator wanted us to be in this world.

This positive message of Holy Scripture has been conveniently forgotten by many in our faith community who promote the misconception that an individual can change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity through what was erroneously titled “reparative” or “conversion” therapy, which implies my being gay, or another person being lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or non-binary, was a mistake by God, and thus human beings needed to “repair” we who were created by the Creator. The research on such efforts has disproven their efficacy, and also has indicated that a person who is a client for one who practices reparative therapy may be harmed for life.  How is one harmed?  In this supposedly “therapeutic” approach, the LGBTQ person is filled with the societal prejudice and family rejection that many of us experienced earlier in life. Indeed, the very architect of reparative therapy, psychiatrist L. Spitzer has since denounced this very practiced and has apologized for endorsing the practice.   

I urge you to vote for #11-23 and against any motion that comes to this committee or the floor of General Assembly that endorses this rejected form of therapy. After all, the God who beheld my limbs, yet unfinished in the womb, fashioned me.  Therefore, I will thank God because I, as an out gay Presbyterian pastor, am marvelously made (Ps. 139)

The Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church
3228 SW Sunset Blvd.,
Portland, OR 97239


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