As we prepare for our annual conference and pre-conference in 2015, the board of ACBC recently drafted a statement on gender, sexuality, and counseling. Biblical counselors are ministering in a time of unprecedented controversy concerning matters of sexuality in general, and homosexuality in particular. At ACBC we are eager to clarify and reassert our biblical convictions when it comes to dealing with these issues in the context of counseling. The following statement is one attempt to do this.
I. Introduction: Source of Authority
The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors is a ministry that seeks to advance the glory of Jesus Christ by pursuing excellence in biblical counseling. Our ministry identification is located within the classic Christian tradition. Our sources of authority are the 66 books of Scripture in the Old and New Testaments, the constitution and by-laws of ACBC, the Standards of Conduct of ACBC, and the Statement of Faith of ACBC.
Our constitution specifically describes the purpose of our organization in the following ways,
The particular purpose of this Association is to encourage, acknowledge and standardize counseling and counselor training done by Christian clergymen and laymen who are committed to the Scriptures as the only authoritative rule of faith and practice.
ACBC is a private, non-profit, Christian ministry confessing that the Bible is the only authoritative rule for faith and practice. As such, we are not bound by the counseling standards of any other organization, state, or licensing agency. We are, furthermore, not required to adjust our conceptions for and practice of biblical counseling in light of any current cultural practice.
The cultural context of the Twenty First Century makes it popular, and politically expedient, to adjust traditional views of gender, sexuality, and counseling. Many fashionable views abound. In particular, numerous voices in our culture embrace, as normal and proper, same-sex desires and behavior, same-sex marriage, transgender identification, and malign—as evidence of ignorance and cruelty—efforts to counsel people away from such behaviors.
As a group bound by the authority of Scripture, and our own guiding documents which grow out of these Scriptures, ACBC rejects any demand that we conform to cultural pressure to embrace any of these unbiblical views of gender, sexuality, and counseling. We desire, instead, to reaffirm the following theological and practical commitments.
II. Theological Commitments
1. God created every person in His own image as male or female. This sexual distinction and complementarity establishes a normative connection between biological sex and gender. (Gen. 1:26-27)
2. The fall of mankind corrupts this created good in both physical and spiritual realities creating confusion and pain in the lives of each person who struggles with the difficulty of physical brokenness regarding gender, and the torment of sinful desires regarding sexuality. (Gen 3:1- 7; Rom 3:9-18; 5:12-17)
3. In the midst of a broken and fallen world, God’s Word continues to affirm the sanctity of one’s biological sex. Because of this reality, the Bible affirms that marriage is exclusively between one man and one woman for life. Marriage is thus the only proper context for sexual desire and behavior. (Mark 10:1-8)
4. The Bible regularly and consistently condemns same-sex attraction and behavior as sinful, requiring repentant faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness. (Rom 1:18-27; 1 John 1:8- 9)
5. Though we reject any triumphalism that insinuates easy, quick fixes, ACBC wholeheartedly affirms the biblical truth that the powerful grace of Jesus Christ is able to change and purify the desires of those struggling with same-sex attractions and behaviors. (1 Cor 6:9-11; 2 Cor 3:18; Col 3:1-17)
III. Counseling Practice
ACBC and all counselors and counseling centers certified by us believe that homosexual desires and behavior are at odds with human joy and flourishing. Based on that reality we believe that it is an act of Christian love to call to repentance those struggling with homosexual sin. We further believe that it is unkind and unloving to fail to point human beings to the goodness of God’s commands concerning gender, sexuality, and counseling. We do not participate with or cooperate in any efforts to prepare for or perpetuate same-sex relationships. In that light we believe that a uniquely Christian form of counseling faithfulness regarding this issue requires:
1. An affirmation of God’s goodness in creating mankind as male and female.
2. A rejection that a human being could possess a gender other than the one indicated by biological sex.
3. A rejection that homosexual desires, behavior, or marriage is an acceptable or moral lifestyle.
4. An affirmation that the Christian process of change is often lengthy and is ultimately incomplete in this life.
5. An affirmation that the powerful grace of Jesus Christ ultimately and certainly sanctifies the most engrained sinful desires, including homosexuality. A Christian can know meaningful change in this life and will know the fullness of change in the life to come.