Statement on "Addressing Homosexuality: Clarity & Compassion" Seminar

Oct. 6, 2017 By Biola Staff

On September 29-30, 2017, Biola University’s Christian Apologetics Department hosted the weekend seminar “Addressing Homosexuality: Clarity and Compassion.” It was attended by apologetics students as well as open to the general public. Biola professor of Christian apologetics Sean McDowell taught the seminar. A guest lecturer from outside the university, Alan Shlemon, also presented certain apologetic and social perspectives, including a reference to conversion/reparative therapy. It is important to note that Shlemon did not share the research in support of conversion/reparative therapy, but rather he was sharing resources from multiple secular sources on sexual fluidity.


Articulate critics of the speakers’ positions attended the seminar, and their participation was welcomed. They responded literally dozens of times to points the speakers made, criticizing the speakers' logic, offering alternative interpretations of Scripture and bringing up additional research.


The university welcomes such discussion and also has a long history of inviting guest lecturers to speak on a variety of topics with a wide array of opinions. Guest lecturers should not be assumed to represent the positions of Biola University.


While we value academic freedom by inviting discussion on such topics, we also do not as a university endorse reparative therapy. For example, the university’s Rosemead School of Psychology has a statement against the practice of reparative therapy. This is true for the therapists Biola trains and the therapy given to Biola’s own students. This position is also consistent among Biola’s Counseling Center staff.


Additionally, Rosemead requires its doctoral students to receive their own therapy (Didactic therapy). For therapists who would like to work with Biola students they must sign, as part of their application, that they understand this non-endorsement of reparative therapy.



  • Erin Green Oct. 10, 2017 at 8:26 PM

    If Shlemon wasn’t supporting conversion therapy, why do his printed handouts prove otherwise and directly correlate to it being a viable option? Also, how about an apology to the LGBTQ community for the dissonance between your messaging. The fact that you even have to make this statement is an admital that something was not right here.

  • Reid Bode Oct. 12, 2017 at 5:54 PM

    If Biola rejects conversion therapy, yet invites a speaker who supports it to provide a "wide variety of opinions," it SHOULD NOT be up to the attendees to provide a counter-opinion. I can not believe that the University would permit this with any other stance explicitly against its policies. Why was this the exception?

  • K Jackson Oct. 12, 2017 at 7:53 PM

    I love that Biola, the Biola Counseling Center, and Rosemead have clarified that it does not endorse reparative therapy. As an LGBTQ-identified alum, I found that the BCC was a safe and caring place. I also agree with Erin that there's some dissonance here. To me, it feels like there's a hint of gaslighting in this statement. The statement seems to imply that there was an overreaction and Shlemon was not supporting conversion/reparative therapy. Shlemon is open about his approval of reparative therapy, and the study he cited was co-authored by a founder of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH.) It feels irresponsible of the university to invite Shlemon without more clearly denouncing reparative/conversion therapy. I know too many people who have been devastated by conversion therapy to allow any affirmation of the practice. From the handouts, it looks like part of the seminar was dedicated to being compassionate to the LGBTQ+ community. I appreciate Biola's emphasis on being a loving community. I hope that we can continue to be compassionate to each other.

  • Gail B Oct. 14, 2017 at 7:05 PM

    I am also relieved to hear that Biola Counseling Center no longer supports the use of reparative therapy. If reparative herapy is defined as providing counseling to change ones sexual orientation (or same-sex attraction), then I received a form of reparative therapy via two different counseling interns (one of them a Rosemead student and the other a Fuller student) during the years 1995-1998 while I was a student at Talbot School of Theology and for a year after I left the school. The therapists were both very kind people and i have no desire to say anything negative about either of them but i also feel very strongly that any form of counseling which endeavors to change something as fundamental to a person as their sexual orientation is very damaging under any circumstance.

  • Fernando Alfaro Oct. 18, 2017 at 2:38 AM

    I wish I could get back all the money and time I wasted on trips to and from Christian therapists’ camps, seminars and sessions. Many were directly or indirectly connected to Biola and other Christian organizations. Instead of an apology or even a mere acknowledgement of any wrongdoing, this nonsense and illegal for minors practice of “reparative therapy” continues to be spoken of as legitimate in Biola circles. Best thing I ever did was to leave its toxic circle of influence. My former best friend, a Biola student, told me he would NEVER have become my friend, had he known I was gay. Others were less direct, but just as noxious.

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