I often have the opportunity of working with clients who identify as LGBTQIA+ who were raised within conservative Christian religions, predominately the LDS and the Jehovah Witness faith traditions.
As an affirming therapist I'm always looking for the latest research and resources to support clients who hope to own and celebrate their LGBTQ identity while simultaneously hoping to maintain their spiritual identities as Christians. One of the challenges many LGBTQIA+ Christians experience is push back regarding their faith's narrative on sexual orientation and/or gender identity as a choice versus being firmly rooted in biology. Also, the interpretations of religious scripture related to their orientations and identity are often used against them.
The following two books have proven meaningful to multiple clients and I wanted to share them on the blog to support others in exploring if these resources would beneficial for them or their loved ones in an affirming and alternative way.
For those LGBTQIA+ members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and their loves ones, Gregory Prince's new book Gay Rights and the Mormon Church: Intended Actions, Unintended Consequences can support the reader in better understanding the evolution of both understanding homosexuality as well as the shifts and changes of the church policies related to it.
Another meaningful way to review if this book could be supportive to your or your loved one, the following link is to Prince's University of Utah Press and Equality Utah's QTalks series: https://www.facebook.com/LatterGayStories/videos/1201956379968759/
I especially appreciated Prince's conversation regarding the increased evidence of biology and epigenetics regarding sexual orientation that offers a more affirming perspective than previous narratives that sexual orientation and gender identity are a choice and could be effectively treated by conversion therapy - both of which have been proven incorrect. In his lecture, Prince states: "The genesis of sexual orientation is an area of science that is undergoing much cutting-edge research, and it is certain that future discoveries will elucidate more examples of homosexuality being biologically determined, whether through genetics, epigenetics, or a combination. But the bottom line has already been written: homosexuals are, indeed, “born that way.”"
In the lecture above, Prince highlights a second book that I've seen as meaningful for LGBTQ Christian clients who want to better understand the actual of homosexual references in the Bible. Entitled, Homosexuality: A Conversion: How A Conservative Pastor Outgrew The Idea That Homosexuality Is A Sin by Dr. John H Tyson. It traces a growing understanding of the interplay between God's love, scripture, the Christian Church, and homosexuality. This books combines both new scientific information and places it within a theological context in a way that for the first time many LGBTQ clients are re-considering and relearning the actual affirming scriptural context of Biblical scriptures that were previously used against them.
As the book's description suggests "The central message of this book is that God wants every LGBTQI person to know of God's tender and seeking care for you. The Lord Jesus sees you and loves you. You are precious in the sight of the Lord."
As a therapist, it's my ethical responsibility to honor and support clients where they are in their identity development. When LGBTQ clients are hoping to maintain their Christian faith traditions while proudly owning their sexual and gender identities, it can be challenging at times to offer them resources that affirm both. I'm really grateful that the above resources have been created to offer a variety of LGBTQ clients and their loved ones an affirming perspective of who they are in relationship to their Christian identity.
It's an important reminder that while the therapists here at Symmetry Solutions, LLC are culturally competent in working with clients from a variety of faith traditions, our providers do NOT have an agenda regarding what a person does related to their faith or transition away from a faith tradition. We acknowledge that many LGBTQIA+ individuals may not feel safe within the faith traditions in which they were raised and we support clients in making choices related to faith and belief that are right for them, without presuming to know what that path may be.
Sara Hughes-Zabawa, LCSW
Sara works from a holistic approach, focusing on issues such as depression, anxiety, grief, chronic pain, disordered eating, faith transitions, stress management and serving the LGBTQ+ community. She offers coaching/consultation and therapy services to individuals, couples and families.