A Private Member’s Motion proposed by Jayne Ozanne, above, saying that conversion therapy had ‘no place in the modern world’ has been backed by the Church of England.
According to the Guardian, Ozanne – who underwent conversion therapy resulting in two breakdowns and two spells in hospital – said conversion therapy was:
Abuse from which vulnerable adults need protecting.
At the end of an emotional debate in which two members of the C of E synod – Ozanne and Ed Cox, of the C of E’s youth council – described their experiences as “spiritual abuse”, the church’s governing body overwhelmingly backed the motion.
Ahead of the General Synod, currently taking place in York, the motion was roundly condemned by Christian Concern’s demented Andrea Minichiello Williams, above. She ranted:
Jayne Ozanne is acting in her exclusive capacity as a homosexual rights advocate, not on behalf of the Church, but in order to undermine the Church. Her disdain for authentic Christianity can be found in her published material on so-called ‘spiritual abuse’.
Spiritual abuse is a very serious matter, no allegation of which should be made lightly. But according to Jayne Ozanne, spiritual abuse can be just about anything found in orthodox Christianity that she doesn’t agree with: promoting purity before marriage, preaching that sexual expression belongs within life-long marriage between one man and one woman, or therapeutic help to deal with unwanted same-sex attraction.
But the larger question here is why someone participating in the General Synod is even permitted to pursue a Private Member’s Motion which would do enormous damage to the Church’s teaching on biblical sexuality.
There are any number of valid reasons that an individual would seek help with unwanted same-sex attraction – loving Jesus passionately and wanting to be faithful to Him and His teaching, maintaining a heterosexual marriage and preventing a family breakup, or to maintain vows of religious celibacy, to name only a few.
The notion that therapy for unwanted same-sex attraction is harmful and lacking in evidence is simply not true.
And she warned that the C of E:
Is now giving a national platform to ideologies which want to destroy biblical Christianity. The Synod is also to debate a motion called ‘Welcoming Transgender People‘, which will consider introducing transgender ‘baptisms’ to ‘reaffirm’ those who have decided to identify as the opposite gender to which they are born. This is nothing short of a heretical assault on God’s creation ordinance and the very meaning of baptism.
These ideologies are a poison seeping into the very roots of the Church, and if left unchecked, the roots will rot. We must recognise Jayne Ozanne’s Private Member’s Motion for the deception that it is, and the existential threat that it poses.
Discredited by the government, the NHS, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of General Practitioners and many other senior health care bodies.
Quoting from a statement issued earlier this year by the UK Council for Psychotherapy and other bodies, she said:
Exclusion, stigma and prejudice may precipitate mental health issues for any person subjected to these abuses.
Ozanne referred to an online survey she recently conducted in the LGBTI community, in which just under 40 percent of her 553 respondents said they had undergone some form of conversion therapy.
More than two-thirds said they had chosen to do so because they believed their sexual orientation to be “sinful”. Just under three-quarters were under the age of 20 when they began conversion therapy.
Ed Cox struggled to maintain composure as he spoke of his personal experience of being told his sexual orientation was a lifestyle choice or phase and needed prayer.
“This fundamentally says I was made wrong,” he told the synod. As a result of what he described as spiritual abuse, he suffered severe depression.
John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, said conversion therapy was:
Theologically unsound, so the sooner the practice of [it] is banned, I can sleep at night.
Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool, said LGBT orientation was neither a crime nor a sin.
We don’t need to engage people in healing therapy if they are not sick.
Fenella Cannings-Jurd, a student at Durham university, said she found it hard to believe that:
In 2017 we are seriously debating the pros and cons of conversion therapy.
It was “by and large” seen as a violation of basic human rights, she said.
But some synod members expressed concern that the motion would limit the church’s ability to offer pastoral care and prayer for people struggling with issues of sexual desire and orientation.
The final vote, after a complicated series of amendments, was 298 to 74, with 26 abstentions. The motion had the backing of all three houses of the synod, the bishops, clergy and laity.
Speaking before the debate, Ozanne said she wanted the church to make a clear public statement. As the established church “we can encourage other denominations and faiths to consider their positions on this”, she said.
Conversion therapy was particularly prevalent in minority ethnic Pentecostal denominations.
Ozanne quoted from a letter she had received from a 90-year-old C of E priest, who said:
I am a celibate homosexual and have suffered a lifetime of reactive depression resulting from my inability to accept my sexual orientation …
I was brought up an evangelical Christian. The trouble started for real when in my early 20s a fundamentalist Christian sought to exorcise my ‘demon’ as he called [it], but failed to do so. This resulted in a breakdown and hospitalisation where I was administered electric current therapy. After that I had testosterone injections for a year administered by my local GP.
There followed two years of Freudian analysis in the hope that my sexual orientation would be redirected. I was then given lithium … followed by no end of personal counselling, therapy and prayer, all of which totally failed to make one jot of difference to my sexual inclinations … On two occasions, I have contemplated suicide.
Hat tip: Trevor Blake