On March 10 and 11, best-selling author and director of the Institute for Sexual Identity at Regent University, Mark A. Yarhouse, was in Salem to provide insights into issues of same sex attraction and gay identity.
On March 10, he spoke to Corban University students and the public about sexual identity and lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered (LGBT) issues and an alternate, new Christian response during the school’s Chapel service. The next day he spoke to 170 local pastors, ministry leaders, Christian counselors and others during a forum at Broadway Commons in Salem, Ore. titled Sexual Identity Issues: Dialogue with Christian Ministries and Practitioners.
“This is an overwhelmingly important discussion to have with Corban students and in the church community,” said Associate Professor of Ministry Sam Baker, Ed.D. “We need to understand the broader context of sexual identity issues and create a framework for dialog as well as develop the language we use in these discussions.”
As he spoke, Yarhouse said it was important to have open, civil dialog with not only those who may be struggling with own sexual identity, particularly America’s youth, but also with those in the LGBT community.
“We’re steeped in a culture war where so much of what you learn about this topic is from people lobbing verbal insults at one another and reducing the complexity to the culture wars,” Yarhouse said during the school’s chapel service. “It’s reducing its complexity in a culture war where there really are casualties…and the church can do better than that and it has to do better than that.” Baker said Yarhouse’s message hit home for many of the attendees.
“I’ve heard from many theologians, pastors, academics and others who agree that this is the most polarizing issue in the church today,” Baker said. “This was reinforced when I saw so many people in the church and counseling community attending this forum. What they learned are new ways to approach the subject of sexual identity with humility and grace. They learned ways to respond that may have been foreign to them, but they were very receptive to what Dr. Yarhouse was saying.”
Yarhouse is a professor of psychology and the director of the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity at Regent University. He is also part of a group practice in the Virginia Beach, Va. area, providing individual, couples, family and group counseling. He received his Psy.D. from Wheaton College and has worked collaboratively on a number of books. He and his family live in Virginia Beach, Va.
His book, “Homosexuality and the Christian: A Guide for Pastor, Parents and Friends,” helps readers understand and separate the concepts of same sex attraction and gay identity. The book explains his research on the causes of same sex attraction, and the best ways for Christians to respond when someone opens up to them about their homosexual attractions.