I just returned from the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) International Conference in Atlanta. The theme of the conference was Critical Breakthroughs. I made a presentation titled “Navigating Sexual Identity Issues on Christian College Campuses.” It was a talk based on the past several years of visiting CCCU-affiliated institutions, speaking to faculty, staff, and students at these schools and providing consultations in the area of sexual identity. The talk also features some of the findings from the study of 104 Christian sexual minorities on three CCCU campuses.
The reason I am noting this talk on the SIT Framework site is that toward the end of the session I introduced Sexual Identity Therapy as an approach I prefer and discuss with campus counseling centers as the way I approach it is based on theoretical and research understandings of the four key concepts. First, I discussed the three-tier distinction between same-sex attraction, a homosexual orientation, and a gay identity. Such a distinction creates ‘intellectual space’ for using descriptive language while exploring identity considerations. Second, I discussed weighted aspects of identity, by which I mean that people consider many factors when they make decisions about public and private sexual identity labels. These ‘aspects of identity’ include biological sex, gender identity, attractions, intentions, behaviors, and beliefs/values. Third, I discussed joining people on an ‘attributional search’ for identity. This means exploring with students the meaning that they make out of the fact that they are attracted to the same sex. The fourth and final key concept for me is congruence. This means helping people line up their beliefs/values and behavior/identity. I have found this to be a natural result of the first three key concepts. Read more
Next week I will be travelling to Asbury College and Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, for a series of talks. At Asbury I’ll be giving chapel addresses, meeting with Student Development staff, and participating in various panel discussions and coffee shop discussions.
The time as Asbury Theological Seminary will focus on pastoral care and applications of the three-tier distinction between same-sex attractions, homosexual orientation, and gay identity and how that distinction can be a helpful reference point in Sexual Identity Therapy. I will also contrast an emphasis on orientation with an emphasis on sexual identity, look at the potential benefits and drawbacks, as well as the importance of achieving personal congruence through pastoral care.