Dr. Russell Moore and the Homosexual Compromise: Dangerously Accommodating the Homosexual Community, Part 3

This is the third article in this series. You may see the first on Revoice here and second on Beth Moore here.

Dr. Russell Moore is the head of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Moore’s accommodation of the homosexual community is related to reparative therapy (RT). RT is a term for various therapies or Christian approaches that provide help to those with varying degrees of involvement in homosexuality so they can contentedly live as a heterosexual for those who desire to do so. Dr. Nicolosi is the originator of RT. He began his work in 1981. He said RT “was aimed at people who do not identify with their same-sex attractions.”[1] It was designed only for those who desire change. Both Nicolosi’s work and Christian ministry approaches believe change is possible, but rely heavily upon the desire of the individual for success. The same is true of evangelism. While change is available, the person’s desire is essential.

Moore is quoted as labeling RT as “severely counterproductive.”[2] There is disagreement over whether Moore fully denounced RT.[3] Even if he does see some merit in it, which is questionable, his comments have certainly misrepresented RT, many Christian ministries, and encouraged much of the homosexual community in their quest to be accepted in evangelicalism. His remarks also implicitly ignore and disparage the success that RT has had in many ex-homosexuals’ lives. Both secular and Christian approaches have had success with former homosexuals.[4] In other words, his words lacked the necessary informed clarity that is required of our ERLC leader speaking on such an important issue. Moore stated it this way. “The utopian idea if you come to Christ and if you go through our program, you’re going to be immediately set free from attraction or anything you’re struggling with, I don’t think that’s a Christian idea.”[5]

Moore’s statement is typical of his practice of arguing his position. He argues against the worst example of what he is against, or even a complete caricature of the opposing view as seen here, which makes him appear to be the open-minded and enlightened voice of reason and Scripture.[6] In this case, as other times, he uses the worst of secular approaches and ignores any evidence contrary to his position.[7] You can study the scientific research that contradicts his position and that of the American Psychological Association for yourself in the Journal of Human Sexuality.[8]

For those who desire change, even secular approaches can have a positive effect. Nicholas A. Cummings, former president of the American Psychological Association, served as chief psychologist for Kaiser Permanente from 1959 to 1979.[9] Speaking of their success rate with reparative therapy, he said, “Of the patients I oversaw who sought to change their orientation, hundreds were successful.”[10] As in everything, the sincere desire of the person counseled or spoken to will significantly determine the success of the counsel; think about sharing the gospel or marital counseling.[11]

I am unaware of any reputable secular programs that tritely offer one-hundred percent success, utopia.[12] I am also unaware of Christian ministries to homosexuals who desire change that offers such fantasy. No reputable Christian reparative approach would make a promise, such as “If you go through our program, you’re going to be immediately set free from attraction or anything you’re struggling with.” To portray either secular or Christian approaches as promoting such is misrepresenting the facts, thereby sullying the work of good therapists and Christian ministries. In logic, his argument is reduced to the fallacy of the straw man (the position you argue against and seem to defeat is not the position of the ones who disagree with you).

Additionally, what biblical Christian would present such a utopic idea about salvation, much less Christian therapy or ministry? I am not aware of any Christian who has even a rudimentary understanding of Christianity that argues salvation, much less some form of treatment or counseling, results in the absence of struggle against Satan, sin, and the flesh (1 Pet 5:8; Gal 5:17). Therefore, he has not argued against the ineffectiveness of reparative therapy, secular or Christian, but only a caricature. Christians are headed to true utopia, but our life on earth is characterized as spiritual warfare (Eph 6:10-19), which contradicts all utopic ideas.

Regarding Moore’s statements against reparative therapy, Robert Gagnon states, “This was pure slander because I know of no credentialed reparative therapist and no leader in ex-gay transformation ministry of the kind that Restored Hope Network houses who believes that a person who comes to Christ and goes through their program will be assured of being ‘immediately set free from [same-sex] attraction.’ Not one. I suppose when lacking a credible argument, yet still intent on denigrating, a straw man is one’s only recourse.”[13]

Gagnon also says, “It feeds ‘LGBTQ’ forces to ban any therapeutic help for persons experiencing unwanted same-sex attractions.”[14] Moore’s uninformed and misrepresentative accommodations facilitate the homosexual agenda. They want to be seen as legitimate as heterosexuals in every way, which the idea of being able to change undermines.

Gagnon further notes that the well-known reparative therapist Joseph J. Nicolosi said five years before Moore made his caricature, “Even the best restorative therapists say, ‘Of course, reorientation therapy is a long and difficult process, with no guarantee of success.'”[15] This understanding of RT is far more representative of both secular and Christian approaches to change than Moore’s disrespectful misrepresentation.[16]

Stephen Black is one of the founders of the Restored Hope Network and currently serves as its board chairman and executive director of First Stone Ministries, both of which are Christian ministries to the sexually broken; Stephen “lived a gay-identified life for eight years before Christ set him free in 1983.”[17]

Referring to the homosexuals who came to First Stone Ministries and were interested in help, he says, “At least 72 percent have found lasting freedom from sinful behavior . . . We see clearly from the numbers and comments that people are filled with joy and are very satisfied to have a devoted relationship with Jesus Christ as their Lord and are free from being identified as gay or homosexual.”[18]

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, Moore’s routine of arguing against the worst example, or a caricature of what he is against, along with the absence of relevant facts and an unfounded exaggeration of the claims or beliefs of those with whom he disagrees, to appear to dismantle long-held biblically-based conservative convictions, is typical. This practice is particularly true in the social and moral areas.

Peter Sprigg said, “I think it would be helpful for Dr. Moore and others unfamiliar with the details of sexual reorientation therapy to meet with some therapists and their clients to become more familiar with what is and is not involved in the actual process of therapy, and how it can serve as a complement to spiritual transformation.”[19]

As with Beth Moore, we see an incremental accommodation to the desires of the homosexual community while still maintaining that homosexuality is sin. I think these unnecessary and unbiblical accommodations contribute significantly to the erosion of the church’s clear and unashamed biblical message regarding homosexuality. I pray for Moore’s repentance for misrepresenting RT, thereby bolstering the claims of the innateness of homosexual orientation.

[1] “Dr. Nicolosi began this work in 1981 as the originator of reparative therapy® . . . It has nothing to do with shaming the client, forcing any kind of change, alienating families, or giving clients shock treatments and nausea-inducing drugs, as activists claim. Also, reparative therapy was never intended for people who identify as gay and are content with their gay self-identification. It was aimed at people who do not identify with their same-sex attractions.” https://www.josephnicolosi.com/, accessed 3/24/20.
[2] Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “Evangelical leader Russell Moore denounces ex-gay therapy,” 10/28/14, WashingtonPost.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/evangelical-leader-russell-moore-denounces-ex-gay-therapy/2014/10/28/3323eb42-5ec8-11e4-827b-2d813561bdfd_story.html, accessed 3/21/20. See also Will Hall, SBC leader clarifies colleagues’ statements about homosexuality; experts offer corrections, 1/2/15, ChristianExaminer.com, https://www.christianexaminer.com/article/sbc-leader-clarifies-colleagues-statements-about-homosexuality-experts-offer-their-views/47961.htm, accessed 3/24/20.
[3] See Kirsten Anderson, “Did the Southern Baptist Church really denounce reparative therapy for homosexuals?,” 10/29/14, LifeSiteNews.com, https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/did-the-southern-baptist-church-really-denounce-reparative-therapy-for-homo, accessed 3/24/20 and Joe Carter, “The LGBT Movement’s Dangerous Hypocrisy on Conversion Therapy,” 2/5/20, TheGospelCoalition.org, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-lgbt-movements-dangerous-hypocrisy-on-conversion-therapy/, accessed 3/24/20. Moore also signed the Nashville Statement on human sexuality https://cbmw.org/nashville-statement/, accessed 3/24/20.
[4] For secular success, see Nicholas A. Cummings, “Sexual reorientation therapy not unethical: Column,” 7/30/13, USAToday.com, https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/07/30/sexual-reorientation-therapy-not-unethical-column/2601159/ , accessed 3/25/20. For Christian success, see the book by Stephen H. Black, Freedom Realized: Finding Freedom From Homosexuality and Living A Life Free From Labels, (Enumclaw, WA: Redemption Press, 2017).
[5] Bailey, “Evangelical leader Russell Moore denounces ex-gay therapy.”
[6] He has done this with regard to things like the rise and influence of the Moral Majority in the 80s, people who voted for Trump, and people who oppose his liberal illegal immigration policies.
[7] Sometimes conversion therapy is seen as a form of reparative therapy, although, many reject such an inclusion.
[8] James E. Phelan, Neil Whitehead, Philip M. Sutton “What Research Shows: NARTH’s Response to the APA Claims on Homosexuality,” Journal of Human Sexuality vol 1, 2009.
https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5527394ae4b0ab26ec1c196b/t/557b0f80e4b08777d54df70c/1434128256329/What-research-shows-homosexuality.NARTH_.pdf, accessed 3/24/20.
[9] https://www.josephnicolosi.com/, accessed 3/24/20.
[10] Cummings, “Sexual reorientation therapy not unethical: Column.”
[11] I am not contending that secular therapy can deal with sin, one’s spiritual needs, deliver one to Christ, or bring total personal freedom. But, at the same time, I cannot deny that some have been helped by secular means. As some unbelievers are helped by unbelievers in such areas as marriage, depression, or suicidal thoughts; this does not mean they are delivered as they would be and need to be by trusting Christ.
[12] https://www.josephnicolosi.com/, accessed 3/24/20.
[13] Robert A.J. Gagnon “Dr. Robert Gagnon provided the following excellent review of this situation.” Facebook, 12/8/19, 6:38 am. https://www.facebook.com/112954648751555/posts/dr-robert-gagnon-provided-the-following-excellent-review-of-this-situationthis-m/2560491237331205/. Accessed 12/12/19.
[14] Robert A.J. Gagnon “Dr. Robert Gagnon provided the following excellent review of this situation.” Facebook, 12/8/19, 6:38 am. https://www.facebook.com/112954648751555/posts/dr-robert-gagnon-provided-the-following-excellent-review-of-this-situationthis-m/2560491237331205/. Accessed 12/12/19.
[15] Joseph J. Nicolosi and H. Newton Malony, Shame and Attachment Loss: The Practical Work of Reparative Therapy, (Liberal Mind Publishers Publish Date: July 2016), 23-24. See also https://www.josephnicolosi.com/what-if-i-dont-change accessed 10/16/20.
[16] See this article for scientific evidence that change is possible, https://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=PV19D01 science says, accessed 5/4/20.
[17] Stephen H. Black, The Complete First Stone Ministries Effectiveness Survey Report: Freedom Realized (Enumclaw, WA: Redemption Press, 2017), back cover.
[18] Stephen H. Black, The Complete First Stone Ministries Effectiveness Survey Report: Freedom Realized (Enumclaw, WA: Redemption Press, 2017), 109.
[19] Peter Sprigg with the Family Research Council, https://www.christianexaminer.com/article/sbc-leader-clarifies-colleagues-statements-about-homosexuality-experts-offer-their-views/47961.htm, accessed 3/24/20.

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Ronnie W. Rogers