By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
GROVE CITY, PENNSYLVANIA, March 19, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A psychologist teaching at the conservative-Evangelical Grove City College has been making waves by endorsing same-sex civil union legislation, and claiming that homosexuals can live "normal, natural and healthy" lives.
In a recent interview with the Evangelical news service OneNewsNow (ONN), Dr. Warren Throckmorton reportedly said that "he opposes same-sex marriage but believes the Equal Protection Clause permits homosexual civil unions," according to the news agency.
"Throckmorton says he personally holds a 'traditional view of homosexuality and sexual ethics.' However, when asked whether he believes homosexuality is 'normal, natural and healthy,' he said he could not answer that with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response," ONN reported.
"He said 'in a professional therapy situation' it is accurate to say that 'homosexuals can live normal, natural, and healthy lives that are free of mental illness,'" added ONN.
Although Throckmorton has been known in the past as a defender of the ex-gay movement and reorientation therapy, he has been distancing himself increasingly from those positions in recent years, and has even rejected the "Day of Truth," in which high school students seek to inform their peers about the immorality of homosexual behavior, calling it "mischief," and saying that it "builds more walls than bridges."
Throckmorton's defection from the ex-gay movement has been met with condemnation by Evangelicals. "Though he works for an evangelical institution, Pennsylvania-based Grove City College, which advertises itself on faith-based websites as 'authentically Christian,' Warren promotes a new, morally neutral paradigm on homosexuality that affirms people’s ‘Sexual Identity’ according to their feelings (and comfort level with same)," laments Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH).
"Hold on…. This is wholly against Scripture: there is nothing in the Bible or the long history of Judeo-Christian tradition that even hints at ascribing a morally-neutral or worse — a 'valued identity' — to sexual sin," he adds.
Helping patients to form a gay "identity"
LaBarbera is referring to Throckmorton's "Sexual Identity Therapy," a framework for therapists treating patients who are conflicted about their sexual desires.
Published in 2007 by Throckmorton and fellow psychologist Mark A. Yarhouse, "Sexual Identity Therapy" affirms that the therapist should accept the values of the client, and then help the client to create a "sexual identity" that fits those values—including a "gay" identity, if is in accordance with the client's value system.
"Sexuality and moral values and attitudes are important aspects of personality. However, clients value each of these functions in different ways. We believe that the therapist should not attempt to persuade clients about how to value these dimensions but can assist clients to determine their own valuations," write Throckmorton and Yarhouse.
They later add that "some religious individuals will determine that their religious identity is the preferred organizing principle for them, even if it means choosing to live with sexual feelings they do not value. Conversely, some religious individuals will determine that their religious beliefs may become modified to allow integration of same-sex eroticism within their valued identity. We seek to provide therapy recommendations that respect these options."
Dr. Throckmorton's Strange About-Face
In recent years, Throckmorton has done an about-face with regard to his position on homosexual reorientation therapy. Abandoning his previous stance of defending ex-homosexuals and reorientation therapy, he has begun to express skepticism that homosexuals can change in most cases. He has also begun to backpedal on his previous emphasis on the evidence in favor of environmental causes for homosexual orientation, instead asserting biological factors as an explanation for the phenomenon.
The "cause [of homosexual orientation] is a scientific mystery," he wrote in a recent article for Britain's Independent newspaper. "However, we do know that once established sexual orientation seems to be quite durable. Several studies have found brain differences between homosexual and heterosexual people."
"While it seems unlikely that there is one biological or genetic cause for all homosexuals, there are data which suggest that genetic and hormonal factors during pre-natal development have some impact on our desires, in different ways for different people," he added.
Throckmorton's previous defense of the ex-gay movement even led him in 2004 to create a documentary, "I Do Exist," allowing former homosexuals to give their testimony regarding their transformations. However, Throckmorton is now repudiating the film, using vague references to "changes" that has says have taken place since he produced it.
In a Frequently Asked Questions posting on his website about the documentary, Throckmorton writes that "the stories of the people involved were freely offered and reflected their experience at that time. Since then, more changes have taken place. It is not appropriate to see the film as a testament to change of sexual orientation. Rather, the video has a place in the history of the ex-gay movement and may be of interest to those who study that movement."
"I believe it is important for me to say that I Do Exist is not a current depiction of what I believe to be accurate about sexual orientation," he concludes.
In addition, Throckmorton has broken off his formerly friendly relationship with the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), which supports psychologists who offer sexual reorientation therapy to homosexuals.
Although he once cited studies by NARTH psychologists in his own writings, participated in conferences, and even accepted the organization's Sigmund Freud Award, Throckmorton now regularly writes blog entries attacking the organization, after having canceled his last scheduled appearance at a 2006 NARTH conference.
Under fire from fellow Evangelicals
Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality has been denouncing Throckmorton's new "Sexual Identity Framework" on his website.
"Folks, I had to laugh the other day when heretical Grove City College Assistant Prof Warren Throckmorton accused pro-family groups advocating a walkout on the nationwide, pro-homosexual ‘Day of Silence’ with 'mischief.' You see, 'Mischief' is Throckmorton’s middle name," wrote LaBarbera in a recent post.
"Throckmorton’s and Regent University’s Mark Yarhouse’s 'Sexual Identity Therapy' model grants the possibility that some clients may come to embrace a positive 'gay identity' that 'modifies' their religious beliefs in such a way as to 'allow integration of same-sex eroticism within their valued identity,'" wrote LaBarbera.
"Would you want your child counseled at Grove City College?" he asks readers. "How can an evangelical Christian college like Grove City that claims to follow the Bible affirm a 'gay' 'sexual identity' that values 'same-sex eroticism'—especially for a person struggling in his conscience against homosexuality?"
Former homosexual Michael Glatze, who once published the national magazine Young Gay America and now speaks out against the homosexual lifestyle, is condemning Throckmorton for his permissive stance towards homosexuality, and for distorting his own statements.
"He, like so many professing Christians, peddles a false gospel about homosexual sin that includes the lie that homosexuality 'might be OK for some people.' Of course, this false gospel will seem preferable for many because it requires less moral responsibility than the true gospel. But that does not make it right."
"I have experienced Professor Throckmorton’s forked tongue, as he has pretended to seek 'my side' of the story various times, then turned around and told a biased side of the same story, in a public sphere, with the intention of discrediting my testimony and shaming my stance for Gospel truth," writes Glatze.
Throckmorton has responded to LaBarbera's criticisms by claiming that the American Psychological Association's guidelines require him to take a neutral stand with regard to the sexual morality of the client. However, the texts he cites by the APA do not mention sexual morality, and do not prohibit value judgments by the therapists, only prohibiting the imposition of values that are not directly related to the therapy.
After agreeing to an email interview with LifeSiteNews, Dr. Throckmorton refused to answer the questions submitted, claiming they were "slanted." The questions sent to Dr. Throckmorton, are available at this link. His latest rebuttal to Peter LaBarbera can be found here.
President Richard Jewell
Grove City College
Grove City College