Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The Pretense of Science

Just like creationists who cover their religious views with a thin veneer of science, the same thing goes on in fields like psychology and especially in areas like ex-gay therapy. Warren Throckmorton is Professor of Psychology and Director of the College Counseling Service at Grove City College, a Christian university in Pennsylvania. He is an advocate of ex-gay therapy, but he’s got more credibility than most who advocate that. He’s been quite critical of many of the ridiculous reversion theories out there. He’s also been a harsh critic of the pseudoscience of Paul Cameron. He tends to approach things in a more scholarly manner than your average ex-gay advocate. But when push comes to shove he makes clear, as the creationists do, where his loyalties truly lie. A blogger at Pam’s House Blend links to an article in Christianity Today where Throckmorton is quoted:

“Transgender impulses are strong, but they don’t match up with the Christian sexual ethic,” says Warren Throckmorton, associate professor of psychology at Grove City College in Pennsylvania. “Desires must be brought into alignment with biblical teachings, but it will be inconvenient and distressful.”

Throckmorton, past president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, says he has advised transgendered people who are in absolute agony over their state. Typically, such individuals are desperately in search of hope and acceptance, he says. It may be uncomfortable to tell transgendered individuals that their desires don’t align with the Bible, Throckmorton says, but pastors must do so. “Even if science does determine differentiation in the brain at birth,” Throckmorton says, “even if there are prenatal influences, we can’t set aside teachings of the Bible because of research findings.”

When push comes to shove, the Bible – or rather, their interpretation of it – must take precedence over the scientific process. Throckmorton does respond to this article, attempting to explain in more detail how he feels, but I don’t think his response really changes much in terms of my analysis of it. He says that he makes a distinction between desires and attractions and actions, but that is the very core of ex-gay therapy.

He also seems to take the position that his advice applies only to those people who are Christians. He says that each person’s situation is different and that if someone is stuck in gender conflict within them but consider themselves Christian, they should consult medical and psychological experts as well as pastors. But again, I don’t think that changes the fact that, ultimately, he believes that religion trumps science in such matters.