Back in Virginia Beach

wheatonI’m back from a week teaching up at Wheaton College. I was teaching a course for them on Sexuality & Sex Therapy. Sixteen graduate students from at least three of their clinical programs joined me in an extended discussion and examination of human sexuality and applied services.

We opened with four sessions that focus on essentially perspectives on matters of sexuality: theological, sociocultural, biological, and clinical. The last perspective serves as a transition to the rest of the week’s topics: sexual dysfunctions (e.g., painful intercourse), atypical sexual behaviors (e.g., the paraphilias), sexual addiction, gender dysphoria, and sexual identity concerns. Sexual identity issues are not pathology, of course, but they are not an uncommon presentation for counseling, and we explore good clinical practice in response to some of the more common issues that can arise.

Students also read chapters from a book I’m working on. It is a Christian integration textbook that could be used in a similar course. It is scheduled for publication in March 2014.

So it wasn’t the best week to have all of the issues surrounding Exodus International and the Supreme Court come up. Because the class went from 8am-5pm, there was not a lot of extra time to comment on these other issues as important as they were.

CCCU 2013On top of that, I had agreed in advance to do a workshop for the Chicago Area Christian Training Consortium (CACTC) on working with sexual minority youth. That went very well. It was interesting to hear of a case presented briefly by someone who had provided Sexual Identity Therapy to a young person who was navigating sexual and religious identity conflicts.

On Thursday evening I also presented (via Skype) a talk to the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). They had a session for their communications officers. In the photo above, I am in the little box on the upper right-hand side of the PowerPoint slide (speaking from Wheaton) and talking to those in attendance in Seattle.

Before I left, I did a brief interview with CBN:

It was an interesting interview. I got the questions about 3 min before we started, and I was surprised we were going to talk about reparative therapy. I tried to get the Christian audience to think about this: although their theology holds that God can do anything, there is a biblical precedent for a prayer going “unanswered” and that the person (in this case, the apostle Paul) found that God provided for him. Then I tried to focus on the study I worked on. The results of that study did not please anyone on either side of the culture wars. The findings challenged those who hold that orientation is immutable, but it did not provide as much support for change as I think proponents expected. We then discussed Alan Chambers, and we are all going to have to see how this unfolds, but I sympathized with his desire to acknowledge and apologize for ways in which people have been harmed.

I don’t comment much on political issues, so I am not going to get into the Supreme Court rulings. I’ll leave that to others in the blogosphere.

UPDATE: Another story on Exodus from CBN.

6 thoughts on “Back in Virginia Beach

  1. Thank you Dr. Yarhouse! Beautifully done and a wonderful example of how we ought to be responding in light of recent cultural events. Helpful to me personally and professionally.

  2. I was going to criticize you for equating homosexuality with a thorn in your side (Paul). But OTOH, I guess from people with deeply religious backgrounds who believe that homosexuality is a sin, I guess from that perspective, it can seem like a thorn in your side. This being the difference between a Side a & a Side B Christian I suppose. In an earlier topic I already shared my thoughts on your video so no need to repeat.

  3. This is related. Mark, I hope you watch this and consider if you are aiding and abetting this or not. When you throw around the word change, what the recipients are hearing.
    With God all things are possible. What saying that to a gay person or their close family members, what that actually does *to them*.
    “He met with is youth Pastor every week”
    Mark what are you teaching the youth Pastors?
    Is it worth it, is it really worth it?

    • SG: I have heard this couple’s tragic story, and I am glad they were able to share their experiences at the recent Exodus conference. Julie Rodgers blogged about them here:

      Having worked with many families facing similar circumstances (a teen who comes out), what I can tell you is that families navigate those issues in remarkably different ways, as do youth ministers. I try to help them respond out of the love they hold as Christians, while also being respectful of their values.

      When it comes to explaining the research findings, that is certainly one of the most challenging conversations. I know you want me to interpret the findings one way; others want me to interpret the findings in quite another way. I don’t know that there is much more I can say to you about that.

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