Published: 20th December 2011
The churches need to update their counselling and pastoral care to ensure that they support gay and bisexual people, according to a report published earlier this month.
The report which was produced for the Christian Medical Fellowship says that churches must re-evaluate their understanding of sexuality, and reject the prejudices of the past by recognising that the picture is more complicated than a simple choice of 'gay' or 'straight' as this ignores bisexuals or people who define their sexuality as 'post label', or 'liquid'.
It calls on the churches to welcome people into Christian discipleship whatever their sexual interests, or background and engage pastorally with the needs of many people with Same Sex Attraction who choose to follow traditional biblical teaching.
And it says that the churches must review the evidence objectively to ensure that gay, lesbian and bisexual people receive good quality pastoral care and support.
The report Unwanted Same-Sex Attraction – Issues of pastoral and counselling support, says that it is written in a Christian context, but the churches' old binary concept of sexuality is outdated and should be reviewed.
The report's authors, the Reverend Dr Andrew Goddard and Professor Glynn Harrison, recognise the limited evidence base, but conclude that what data there is suggests that issues around sexuality are far more complicated and subtle than had been previously thought.
They argue that the churches and society need to pay attention to those who choose to integrate their sexual desires with their faith identity not only those who adapt their faith identity to pursue their sexual attractions and interests.
And given the lack of knowledge in this area, more research and theological reflection is needed on how the resources and insights of psychology and counselling may be ethically integrated with pastoral skills to support Christians choosing to live faithfully within traditional Christian boundaries for sexual behaviours and relationships.
For media enquiries, please contact Alistair Thompson of Media Intelligence Partners Ltd on 07970 162225 or 0203 008 8145 or the CMF Office on 020 7234 9675.
Dr Peter Saunders (CMF Chief Executive) 020 7234 9660
Philippa Taylor (CMF Head of Public Policy) 020 7234 9664
John Martin (CMF Head of Communications) 020 7234 9665
Alistair Thompson on 020 3008 8145 or 07970 162 225
Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) was founded in 1949 and is an interdenominational organisation with over 4,000 British doctor members in all branches of medicine. A registered charity, it is linked to about 65 similar bodies in other countries throughout the world.
CMF exists to unite Christian doctors to pursue the highest ethical standards in Christian and professional life and to increase faith in Christ and acceptance of his ethical teaching.