Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, has criticized gay conversion therapy and outlined how the church can better respond to the LGBT community using the "full wisdom of the Christian faith."
Speaking ahead of the Southern Baptist theological seminary's three-day conference, "Homosexuality - compassion, care and counsel for struggling people" on Monday, Mohler said that psychological therapy, including reparative therapy, is a "superficial" response to the struggle people face in dealing with same-sex attraction and transgender identity.
"In the case of many people struggling with this particular sin, we do not believe that some kind of superficial answer whereby they can turn a switch from being attracted to persons of the same sex to being attracted to persons of the opposite sex," he said, the Washington Post reports.
However, Mohler reinforced the Biblical idea that marriage should be only between a man and a woman and charged that gay people are able to turn from their ways through the grace of God.
"By God's grace, that might happen over time as a sign of God's work within the life of that individual. But ... for many, many people struggling with these patterns of sin, it will be a lifelong battle," he contended.
Mohler also lamented that in the past, Christians have sinned against the gay community by "ignoring their presence among us, by remaining silent when we should speak the truth and by reducing a massive human struggle to simplistic explanations."
Heath Lambert, executive director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, said the conference is expected to draw 2,000 people, would showcase how "uniquely biblical" counseling can lead to repentance.
"We believe that repentant faith is the means of change," Lambert told the AP, explaining that the conference is adamantly opposed to reparative therapy.
The conference's goal, he said, is to give counselors "a growing love and care for people who struggle with sexual sin, homosexual sin. We want people to have a growing wisdom about how to come alongside them and walk with them through a process of care."
According to the AP, dozens of gay rights protesters outside the conference called for prayers for love, inclusion and respect and held up placards that read: "Love Needs No Cure."
Continuing his comments on Monday, Mohler said the conference comes at a time when Christian's belief that marriage should remain between a man and a woman is "decidedly not what is heard in the larger secular culture."
However, this conference will give churches an opportunity to discuss "what this moral revolution will demand of us and how we can respond with the full wisdom of the Christian faith."
"Our message is the Gospel for all people, and that means that we call all people ... to be converted to faith in Christ," he said.
A joint statement later released by Mohler and Lambert reinforced the idea that those in the LGBT community can find "wholeness and holiness" through faith in Jesus.
In an interview Tuesday, Mohler said his view is not new: "I don't think repair comes any way other than through redemption. I have been consistent through the years in saying reparative therapy is not the way to go."