Monday, October 30, 2006

More on "the gay lifestyle." - Glesne

UNDERSTANDING HOMOSEXUALITY meets STRAIGHT INTO GAY AMERICA, a conversation between pastor/author David Glesne and pastor/author Lars Clausen.

Dear Lars,

My wife Mona and I spent last week at a time-share exchange in central Minnesota enjoying the cool air and varied colors of the autumn season. We are approaching that time of year when we gravitate to the fireplaces in our homes and begin to settle in for the winter months. Now I’m trying to make that transition back into ministry duties and responsibilities.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I read your book a few weeks back and did so with great interest. Thanks for all the sacrifice and time and effort that went into the journey and the writing. It is a good read!

You share a continuing concern about the term “the gay lifestyle”. The point is made that it is a term used not by gay and lesbian people regarding themselves but rather by “anti-gay”, right wing, fundamentalist people, etc. which inspires fear that homosexual men are despicable persons, etc. Unhappily, there indeed may be those who use the term for such regrettable purposes. There is also the acknowledgement by looking at websites that the term is used in a variety of ways within the GLBT community. So we have a term used by both the GLBT community and the non-GLBT community often in different ways. Does that mean that the term is never used by gays and lesbians themselves with regard to the behaviors under discussion? Maybe our readers can help us answer that question. I’m not sure how we get passed this except by making sure in conversation that we define what we mean by the use of the term and always be conscious of the context in which it is used. I trust that is what we are doing in this conversation.

Might it not in many ways be the same with the common term “anti-gay?” I would suppose that many gay and lesbian persons and others might read my book, for example, and conclude that I am “anti-gay”, that is, that I am against gay people. That would be patently untrue. Yet from within one “camp” the term would be used to label all who bring into judgment homosexual behavior and from within the other “camp” would be those who feel they are being labeled unfairly. They would say that addressing homosexual behavior is not for the purpose of degrading or demeaning the people involved – any more than addressing promiscuous heterosexual behavior is for the purpose of degrading the people involved. It is not, and it is not meant to be, a judgment on homosexual persons (what we do is different from who we are) but a fair and helpful and graceful assessment of their behavior.

With regard to the gay lifestyle you say you can’t find the distinctions coming through about subculture or lifestyle, either in the book or in my explanations. I hear you saying this again and without repeating my previous post will only say that I hear your feedback and acknowledge that the distinctions could have been spelled out more explicitly in the book to avoid possible confusion. While running the risk of being redundant, however, I would reiterate that “these encounters” referred to in the book are connected in the immediate context to a lifestyle characterized by promiscuity – “many of these encounters will be with total strangers in bath houses…public restrooms and back rooms of gay bars.” (pp. 43-44) These are venues that I – and I believe many – associate with behavior of that group of gays participating in what might be called a subculture characterized by “the gay lifestyle” behaviors that are condemned by many gays.

The concern also is expressed that my research is mostly if not all, taken from within the anti-gay camp and that it therefore may be partial at best, inaccurate at worst.

In leading into the section on gay behaviors, I state that “the testimony about homosexual behavior coming from both sides of the debate paints a fairly clear picture”. Following through on our terminology of “camps”, if it is perceived that Dr. Monteith’s research (or Cameron’s behind it) comes from one camp then let us look at the testimony of the other camp by directing our attention to The Gay Report by Jay & Young (Summit Books, New York, 1979). This 850 page report is the first major survey on homosexuality and one of the largest studies ever conducted with 5,000 gay persons of all ages and from all walks of life (and Christian denominations) surveyed on various aspects of their lifestyle and subculture. The study was conducted by English Professor Karla Jay, Ph.D, and journalist Allen Young, who holds two masters degrees. Both are gay activists. (see The work is still cited today in academic work.

When one compares the figures presented by Monteith and Jay & Young, they are remarkably similar: Oral sex – Monteith 100%, Jay & Young 99%; Anal intercourse – Monteith 93%, Jay & Young 91%; Rimming – Monteith 92%, Jay & Young 83%; Fisting – Monteith 47%, Jay & Young 22%; Golden showers – Monteith 29%, Jay & Young 23%; Scat – Monteith 17%, Jay & Young 4%.

Are these surveys on the various aspects of the gay lifestyle and subculture from these “different camps” reliable? With regard to the kinds of behaviors listed, it would be extremely difficult, it seems to me, to disregard these behaviors which the gay community admits about itself and its practices. These surveys give one a glimpse into sexual behavior in a subculture which the gay community has not desired be readily disseminated into wider society. I think we have avoided an honest public discussion of homosexual behavior and in so doing have betrayed the public and especially homosexual persons themselves. Homosexual behavior is the center of the issue. I therefore would suggest we take up this discussion as we move ahead in our conversation.

With regard to the percentages who engage in these behaviors put forth by Monteith and Jay & Young, how would critics know that the information is not accurate unless they have done their own studies? And if so, where are they? This is not an argument saying that because we don’t have studies countering Monteith and Jay & Young’s figures that therefore their statistics are accurate. This is by way of simply asking the fair-minded question, how would they know? Any study can be improved upon. Both the studies by Cameron and Jay & Young have had their critics. Are the criticisms warranted? Maybe - but they are hard to sustain. So we are always open to better studies by those who criticize. Until then we deal with the evidence we have.

I am hopeful – and confident - that the goal of our exchange is not for either of us to win an argument for one camp or the other. That is not an interest of mine. We are talking about something far more important, for we are talking about the lives of real people. I trust that as truth seekers we are desirous of finding out what is true concerning homosexual behavior with regard both to its morality and behavioral consequences. In doing so, for the sake of those involved, we hopefully can move beyond being stalled over percentages and allow the evidence to lead us - not to judgment of homosexual persons - but to a fair, helpful, and graceful assessment of their behavior.

Thanks for the ongoing exchange.



Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Challenging the "Gay Lifestyle" term.

UNDERSTANDING HOMOSEXUALITY meets STRAIGHT INTO GAY AMERICA, a conversation between pastor/author David Glesne and pastor/author Lars Clausen. Today Clausen challenges the use of the term "gay lifestyle," and "homosexual lifestyle."

Dear Dave,

First I want to wish you a good return from your vacation.

Second I want to thank you for saying that you could have chosen a better wording by changing from the “lifestyle of homosexuals” to “the homosexual lifestyle.” I appreciate our willingness to learn from one another

Third, I want to keep pressing the challenge because even the change to the terms “the gay lifestyle,” or “the homosexual lifestyle” are seen by many, including myself, as highly charged sterotypes/caricatures.

I feel we’re at the third bridge in our conversations. The first was your kind acceptance of this dialogue, The second was your agreement to engage my concerns. At this third bridge, I sense the need to address camp-talk and see if we can move past it. I’ll state my concerns, set them before you, and see if we can get to a new place. If we fail, I worry we’ll be stuck in our camps.

I believe the words “gay lifestyle” and “homosexual lifestyle,” used in the manner you suggest, function something like code language on the websites and in the talk of religious fundamentalist organizations such as “The Moral Majority,:” “Focus On The Family,” and “Exodus.” This language is part of what inspires fear that homosexual men are despicable, commonly running around licking one another’s anuses and urinating on one another.

I did google “gay lifestyle” and read the descriptions on the first two pages. I found two websites using “gay-lifestyle” in an anti-gay manner. On the other eighteens sites the term is used in a wide variety of ways within the LGBT community, addressing issues of relationship, travel, work, sex, and other facets of life. Used in this second manner, by the LGBT community, it seems comparable to the many popular lifestyle magazines that are published each month for our culture at large (Country Living, Oprah, GQ, etc)

I searched the PFLAG website (Parents, Friends, and Families of Lesbians and Gays) and found only 7 pages come up on that large website, and most of the references challenge the use of the term “gay-lifestyle,” as it is used by “ex-gay” and similar concerns to caricature LGBT people.

Dave, if you’re serious that you find the term “homosexual lifestyle,” or “gay lifestyle” to be an acceptable and descriptive term of LGBT immorality, I’m concerned that you’ve taken most or all of your research from within the anti-gay camp. If so, this leads me, regretfully, to suggest that your research may be partial at best, inaccurate at worst.

I deeply regret the need to write this concern. I believe you when you write you feel you’ve developed a deep compassion for homosexuals, but I can’t let this concern remain quiet.

In your last response you wrote that you’d made the distinction between homosexual attraction and homosexual behavior on page 19. Yet nowhere on that page is there any discussion between what you wrote last time as the

“further distinction in my mind between behaviors that are quite likely to be engaged in by male homosexual persons in general (mutual masturbation, fellatio, and anal intercourse, for example) and those behaviors which go beyond these which are more specific to what might be called a subculture characterized by the “gay lifestyle”, behaviors that are condemned by many gays. Right or wrong, the “gay lifestyle” in my mind has additional and different relational and behavioral elements in it than the what we normally think of as behaviors of “everyday” homosexual people.”

You then ask, “But do these distinctions come through in the chapter?”

I’m sorry to report Dave, but I can’t find the distinctions coming through about subculture or lifestyle, either in your book or in your explanation. You quote the question from your book, “But what really goes on in homosexual encounters,” as evidence that you’re talking about “the gay lifestyle.” This only works if one makes assumptions about the term, assumptions that are not generally held by the subject group in question. Your subsequent words make it more difficult, not less difficult to believe that you’re talking only about a sexually immoral minority and not homosexual people in general. In your third chapter you write

"homosexuals who maintain long-lasting, stable relationship in society are very, very few"
"While acknowledging the difficulty in arriving at exact figures in such a subject matter, the testimony about homosexual behavior coming from both sides of the debate paints a fairly clear picture of the kinds and frequencies of behavior engaged in by homosexual persons. I shall start with the least disturbing…"

"Ninety-two percent of homosexuals engage in something called “rimming.” "

"The homosexual acts described by Dr. Monteith are taking place regularly in homosexual lifestyle encounters. We never read or hear about them from gay activists who want us rather to think of loving, caring, monogamous homosexual couples sitting on park benches with their arms around each other. But this is the gay lifestyle homosexualists want society to accept as a perfectly acceptable alternative to the heterosexual relationship. "

When I read your question about “what really goes in homosexual encounters,” I’m thinking about Greg and Willie, Sara and Danielle, Mel and Gary, Brenda and Nancy, Sara and Cheryl and many, many other long-term faithfully monogamous couples.

If I ask the question, “What really goes on in heterosexual encounters?” I could be thinking about anything from whorehouses to high school proms to the movie Grease to the nights that my children were conceived. There’s no qualification in this question to help me know which of these heterosexual encounters we’re talking about.

To give the statistics that you do about rimming, fisting, and golden showers, and to assume that people are going to share what I understand as the ex-gay movement - fundamentalist Christian - political right understanding of “gay lifestyle” is beyond me. I can only understand your use of these statistics if I assume that you’re writing from within the camps where these terminologies are commonly used. And if you’re writing from within one or more of these camps, then we have another bridge to cross.

That bridge seems to me

  1. A need for me to better understand those camps and their “agendas.” I’m up for this journey. Perhaps my central interest in this conversation, besides my hope for equal rights, is to better understand the worldviews of these camps, and the factors that motivate these worldviews.
  2. And if I need to go into these camps to increase my understanding then perhaps, if I’m correctly catching what’s behind your assumptions and your use of the terms “gay lifestyle” and “homosexual lifestyle” then you might benefit from coming outside of these camps and hearing why the term “gay lifestyle” is so often heard as a caricature.

When I think of compassion, I think of Jesus, Mother Theresa, Desmond Tutu, Gandhi and others. And when I think of compassion, I always think of listening and the openness to come out of an encounter different from the way that I came in.

I hope that all of us involved in the journey of this conversation hold the openness to come out of this encounter changed. I feel that we are at the third bridge in this journey. I lay this at your feet, and I await your words.



Friday, October 20, 2006

Qualifying Comments on The Gay Lifestyle - Glesne

UNDERSTANDING HOMOSEXUALITY meets STRAIGHT INTO GAY AMERICA, a conversation between pastor/author David Glesne and pastor/author Lars Clausen. Today Glesne clarifies his meaning in using the term "gay lifestyle."

Also, Dave is on vacation next week and will return to the blog when he's back home. Have a good vacation!

Dear Lars,

And I thought I was a morning person!! I notice that you wrote your last post between 4:00 am and 6:30 am. You are clearly one step ahead of me on that one! But it looks like we perhaps agree that mornings are the best time of the day – although my wife Mona would definitely not agree with us.

It is good to see that there are others joining this conversation. I hope that they will stay with us as we continue.

For the sake of brevity, I will take up here a concrete aspect of the second point in your previous post having to do with the use of data and statistics and specifically the concern of comparing apples with apples.

The concern is expressed by you and other bloggers that chapter three of the book makes no - or at least inadequate - distinctions or qualifications between the sexual activities of ‘everyday’ (your terminology) homosexual persons and those involved in a promiscuous gay lifestyle.

When I first read this concern I thought, “Could this be right? Is this true? Maybe I did not communicate well what was in my mind as I wrote the chapter and the chapter is in fact saying something different than I intended or is confusing and/or unclear.” That feeling of dread came over me for – as you state – a lot of books were sent out! So with the critique upper most in my mind I went back and reread the chapter. What I found there was not as bad (in my humble estimation) as I feared and yet by putting on a different set of eyes I saw how the communication could have been clearer.

The first thing I would point out is that the entire chapter is set in a certain direction by the title itself. The entire chapter is couched in terms of “The Gay Lifestyle”. This term, of course, is not my own, but one widely used (just google it!) albeit with all too much vagueness of meaning and definition (which can be a source of confusion). As indicated by the title, what I am talking primarily about in the chapter has to do with homosexual behaviors connected to the “gay lifestyle”.

In a section of chapter 1 (page 19) I define what I mean by homosexuality by distinguishing between “homosexual orientation” which speaks of a preference for persons of the same sex involving erotic attraction, and “homosexual behavior” which refers to the physical expression of this attraction. When speaking of the behavior, there is also a further distinction in my mind between behaviors that are quite likely to be engaged in by male homosexual persons in general (mutual masturbation, fellatio, and anal intercourse, for example) and those behaviors which go beyond these which are more specific to what might be called a subculture characterized by the “gay lifestyle”, behaviors that are condemned by many gays. Right or wrong, the “gay lifestyle” in my mind has additional and different relational and behavioral elements in it than the what we normally think of as behaviors of “everyday” homosexual people. But do these distinctions come through in the chapter?

The statistics in the second paragraph of the chapter (i.e. 90% of male homosexuals are promiscuous and the average number of male partners in a year and over a lifetime given there) in my mind speak to this “gay lifestyle” that is characterized by among other things - promiscuity. These statistics have an immediate context for they are followed by “many of these encounters will be with total strangers in bath houses…public restrooms and back rooms of gay bars.” These are venues that I believe many (most?) people identify with the “gay lifestyle” and not “everyday” homosexual neighbors and friends. So this is speaking of something beyond that of faithful, monogamous homosexual relationships. Then the question is asked, “But what really goes on in homosexual encounters?” It is in response to this question in this context of the gay lifestyle that the behaviors on pages 44-46 are given. The description of these kinds and frequencies of homosexual encounters (i.e. rimming, fisting, golden showers, scat) then, are not to be read as representative of the overall gay population in America.

Within this context, in paragraph three the “fuller picture of what we are facing as a society” (page 44) speaks to the behaviors of the “gay lifestyle” which I contend is by and large not known by many in church or society (maybe I am wrong here?). Again, these are behaviors that go beyond that of “everyday” homosexual people’s practices.

Paragraph four gives a strong qualification, it seems to me. “An additional word of caution is needed. It must be kept in mind that there is a variety of homosexual persons. The following profile does not fit those same-sex attracted persons who struggle to live a Godly moral life and are determined to remain chaste. Nor does the profile describe those who are in the process of exiting homosexuality. The profile below is descriptive of sexual behavior for that group of persons who identified themselves as homosexual and who, in one degree or another, are participating in ‘the lifestyle’. Then I identify the difficulty in arriving at figures in such a subject matter.

This is a chapter on “The Gay Lifestyle and Agenda”. The very title carries within it an intended distinction and qualification which implies that it is not talking about all gays. Maybe I am assuming too much but the chapter is to be read as such. I believe that as noted above, the three paragraphs have within them distinctions and qualifications – some stronger than others to be sure. It is within the wider chapter context and that of these three paragraphs that lead up to the section describing the kinds and frequencies of behavior engaged in by those participating in the “gay lifestyle” that these behaviors on pages 44-46 are to be seen and understood.

You specifically reference the phrase, “it would be well to look briefly at the lifestyle of homosexuals” at the beginning of the chapter and comment that this reads as an overarching statement, which, as it is written, includes all homosexual people with no qualifications. I would agree with you if the phrase stood alone. If it is read by itself only, it indeed would read as an overarching statement. But it does not stand in isolation. It stands in a context and words and phrases derive their meaning from their context. The phrase is nuanced by the context of the chapter’s title, “The Gay Lifestyle”.

But here is where iron sharpens iron. Lest your concern and critique bear no fruit, I would say in this instance that it would have been phrased better if I had written, “it would be well to look briefly at the homosexual lifestyle” (reflecting more closely the chapter title and in continuity with the bold paragraph heading that follows) rather than “the lifestyle of homosexuals” as written. This is a place where a change of wording would have enhanced clarity.

You thanked me for the qualifications that I provided in my letter to you, but fear that none of these qualifications are in this section of the book. I am saying that I believe the distinctions and qualifications that I had in mind in writing these sections are present in this chapter. Could the distinctions and qualifications have been clearer and more explicitly spelled out? In light of the feedback from your initial reading, I would have to say “yes” they could have been spelled out more explicitly to avoid possible confusion in people’s minds. It is the kind of feedback that I welcome and it will help me to clarify if others share the same or a similar concern.

For the sake of relative brevity I’ll stop here. If there is need to probe this area of concern further we can still do that. Thanks for this exchange on the journey.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Early Factors and Healing Homosexuality - Clausen

, a conversation between pastor/author David Glesne and pastor/author Lars Clausen.

Last time Glesne wrote about how early childhood developments can cause homosexuality. Today Clausen responds, including comments on article by Jeffrey Satinover from the NARTH website, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.

Dear Dave,

At the beginning of this dialogue you wrote to me how busy you are these days with your building project at church and other endeavors. So I find it remarkable and wonderful that you find time for this extended conversation. Thank you. I got swamped with some projects at work this week (, but I realized what I most needed was to simply sit and spend some time with your post, and the 8 extensive comments that readers have offered us (if you’re new to blogs, you can read the comments by pressing the COMMENT link at the bottom of each post. That’s where you can also choose to add your own comment.). So, 4:00 a.m on Tuesday... Greetings and a good morning cup of coffee to you.

My goal in this post is to remain brief. You offered in your next post to take up the question of data and statistics. I’m looking forward to your words and to you helping with my concerns about the data you used to describe “the homosexual lifestyle.” In the COMMENTS, Tim Fisher is adding a lot to the conversation about data sources. It seems this topic is of general interest. I’m still concerned that the data you chose have gone out to 11,000 congregations as an incomplete and inaccurate description of the lives of people who understand themselves as lesbian or gay or bisexual.

I read three main subject areas in your last post.

  • Data about early factors on homosexual development and reiteration of Satinover’s quote that we really don’t know the causes of homosexuality.
  • Your pastoral concerns for LGBT people, and the inherent worth of all people.
  • Your understanding of God and of this broken world.

5:15 a.m… I’m looking forward to getting to our conversations on your second and third points about the inherent worth of all people, and understandings of God and world. I have hopes that these can be some very beautiful conversations. It’s rather a non-statement to say that our worldviews shape our view of the world, but I have a deep interest in what makes us adopt, hold to, and change our worldviews. I imagine you have a similar interest. I envision those conversations being still a couple of steps ahead of us.

Right now, I’m still sitting with your writing. And looking at the comments from readers. And looking at the NARTH website ( You’ve quoted Jeffrey Satinover both in your book and in our conversations, as one who writes of the complexity of the factors that cause homosexuality. (I’m in full agreement with the notion of complexity. I look at my own life and it’s filled with mystery. I know I’m glad my dad taught me to unicycle when I was twelve years old, or we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now!)

Following your lead, I found an article by Satinover on the NARTH website that I want to mention, and then I’ll sign off, because I really am looking forward to your next post about how we use data and statistics, and the statistics which you used that troubled me.

Note: I know very little about scientific studies on homosexuality, but I found the COMMENT of Nadine Anderson useful:

In one of the responses earlier, someone objected to the fact that the references Rev. Glesne uses are 13+ years old. Yes, that is a pity, but getting newer data is hard and not likely to be happening. I have a Ph.D. in social psychology -- that means I am trained to do that kind of research, though I am not now doing it. There is not a lot of support money out there for collecting recent unbiased data on homosexual behavior, so we are often left with the need to use very old data. Bell, Weinberg, and Hammersmith (1981) did one of the best studies on causes of homosexuality in that they interviewed around 3000 gay men and lesbians and about half as many straight people. They found that there is no simple answer to what causes homosexuality, but the psychoanalytic view of weak father / strong mother was not supported. They found a fair number of gay men with that combination, but they found more straight men with that experience. As they said, if you cannot differentiate homosexual from heterosexual development, you cannot say what causes either. Unfortunately, I've never seen and have been told they never published the data on heterosexual behavior. I would look at the studies he (Glesne) cites -- I think their sponsorship suggests a negative view of homosexuality. It is hard to collect unbiased data on socially sensitive issues. Thanks for the web page citation someone gave earlier on another psychologist's view, I will follow that up. Nadine

So…moving forward…Satinover’s article is entitled: The Complex Interaction of Genes and Environment: A Model for Homosexuality.

It’s full of data and graphs and I leave to others who know more than me to agree or disagree with the data specifics. What I do know is that Satinover’s conclusion raises a central point for me. I wanted to copy the last dozen paragraphs here, but the article is copyrighted at the NARTH website, so you’ll have to click to see the article for yourself. In setting out his “condensed and hypothetical scenario” for the development of a homosexual person he reaches the point of what should a person do about being homosexual, and he writes,

“The most important message he needs to hear is that "healing is possible."”

Satinover then writes:

“From the secular therapies he will come to understand what the true nature of his longings are, that they are not really about sex, and that he is not defined by his sexual appetites. In such a setting he will very possibly learn how to turn aright to other men to gain from them a genuine, nonsexualized masculine comradeship and intimacy; and how to relate aright to woman, as friend, lover, life's companion, and, God willing, mother of his children.”


“From communities of faith that turn to him in understanding, offering not only moral guidance but genuine healing, he will gain much in addition...”

There is much for us to discuss here, including your own section of UNDERSTANDING HOMOSEXUALITY titled “Helping Someone Change,” page 164ff.

What I’d like to suggest is the applicability of Nadine Anderson’s observation that it’s hard to collect unbiased data on socially sensitive issues. Satinover’s “most important” message of declaring that “healing is possible,” is very different from my own. Here’s “the most important message” I’d want to declare from the anecdotal summer I spent Unicycling Straight Into Gay America.

“A society of equal rights is possible. Removing the social, biblical, and legal stigmata against being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex, will likely create more social, psychological, and religious health. The question of Nature or Nurture will almost certainly become moot. Ex-Gay therapies may continue to exist for those who want to pursue these therapies. Importantly, though, these therapies will be offered without the social, psychological, familial, religious, and legal stigmas that serve as the pressure cooker by which many are motivate to seek change. Our sexual orientation would no longer be a categorical defining factor of whether individuals were living the good life. One wording of that good life that comes from the Judeo-Christian tradition is “doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God.” (Micah 6:8)

Satinover and I are looking for different things from the data of our experiences. And if I read UNDERSTANDING HOMOSEXUALITY right, you and I are also looking for different things from the data of our experiences. I look forward to exploring these worldviews of ours that lie behind the data, but first, I’m waiting expectantly for you to address my concerns about your data and descriptions of “the homosexual lifestyle.”

6:30 a.m. I’m signing off. Time to walk home from my office, wake up the kids, and get them ready for school. I’ll give this a proofreading sometime today and then post it for our discussion on Wednesday a.m. I appreciate this opportunity for our dialogue, and the comments we’re receiving from so many thoughtful people.

Blessings to you David, and for all of us who are participating,


Saturday, October 14, 2006

More on Early Developmental Factors - Glesne

POST #4:
a conversation between pastor/author David Glesne and pastor/author Lars Clausen. Today Glesne writes about studies of early factors leading to homosexuality. Glesne includes some of his pastoral view of God and faith, including: all people are equally worth in the sight of God, we live in a broken world, and our identity is in God and we must not be careful to confuse this by basing our identity in our sexuality.

Dear Lars,

I am grateful for the tone of this conversation and am hopeful because of it that we and our readers can benefit from the discussion.

In the spirit of narrowing our focus and proceeding step by step (a good idea!), I’ll respond here to the first of the two points in your response, that having to do with early childhood development. I intend to take up your second point in the next post.

Responding to comments regarding early factors leading to homosexuality:
The question that is being asked in chapter 2 of Understanding Homosexuality is, “What can we say about the cause(s) of homosexuality?” In addition to what is written there, let me add some additional thoughts here.

As one looks at the literature, the two main candidates for cause are 1) constitution which some call Nature, and 2) environment which some call Nurture. So here is the old Nature vs. Nurture controversy that enters into so many discussions.

Constitution, as we know, has to do with genetics, with being born that way. To put it very simply, there have been many studies and suggestive papers written saying there may be some evidence towards people with exclusive homosexual orientations having some genetic abnormalities. But if I understand correctly, most people have now come to the conclusion that there is no current conclusive evidence for chromosonal abnormality. Gay-activist researchers themselves (see Dean Hamar and Simon LeVay, for example, on pages 24-25, and Camille Paglia’s comment) have been desperately searching for a genetic element to homosexuality and have openly admitted to their failure to do so.

Steinbeck, an associate professor of medicine at New South Wales and head of the division of endochronology and metabolism at Prince of Wales & Prince Henry hospitals has written a paper entitled, “Of Homosexuality, the Current State of Knowledge,” in which he reviews quite a lot of the genetic and hormonal evidence and he concludes that there is no firm evidence to support any constitutional disposition. His conclusion fairly represents, I believe, most people’s views at this time.

On the Environment Side there is considerable evidence pointing to some influence of family life and early relationships. Though still inconclusive, yet certainly the psychoanalysts and others have come up with a pretty consistent picture.
Bieber in 1962 did a study with homosexual males who were in psychoanalysis compared with heterosexual males in psychoanalysis.
Evans in 1969 did a study with non-patient homosexual males vs. non-patient heterosexual males.
Sander and Robins in 1974 again did a study with non-patient homosexual men and women.
The picture they produced is fairly similar. It is essentially this picture I try to accurately portray on pages 34-38 which I will not reiterate here.

But I want to turn to your more specific concerns, Lars. The concern is voiced that in spite of the qualifications in the text (i.e. that honest researchers are not really sure what causes homosexuality and that early destructive family dynamics is not the only or even necessarily the greatest contributing factor to the development of homosexuality), sources are quoted in my book that argue strongly for evidence of these early family dynamics. You are then concerned that fathers (and mothers) may feel terrible that they had done something wrong upon hearing about this evidence.

Let me respond with a number of thoughts. When I spoke about this in a sermon to my congregation, being very sensitive to this very issue, I made clear that this was not to place blame on anyone. One does need to be very sensitive when talking about the evidence. I would always point out here that the human being is a very complex creature. We are each one of us a cluster of our biology, our physiology, our hormones and our social relationships. We are each different and unique individuals influenced by different combinations of many factors. With regard to homosexuality there are those who become homosexual who had a healthy relationship with parents while growing up. Others may have a certain amount of genetic predisposition. Others may have family relationship factors. For others it may have been teaching about sex in their family. For still others factors may have included the attitudes in the church about sex mixed in with family relationships etc. etc. So a strong word of caution, it seems to me, must always be given that these contributing factors are not 100%. There are some homosexuals without these background factors as well as certainly some with these background factors who do become homosexual.

Since the complexity of the matter in my estimation is captured best by Jeffrey Satinover (page 39), I’ll quote him here:

“Like all behavioral and mental states, homosexuality is multifactorial.
It is neither biological nor exclusively psychological, but results from an
as-yet-difficult-to-quantify mixture of genetic factors, intrauterine influences, postnatal environment, and a complex series of repeatedly reinforced choices
occurring at critical phases of development.”

So as one inquires into possible causes of homosexuality, these strong qualifications need to be made as one follows where the evidence leads. The sources used in the book do point to strong evidence for factors but the qualifications are there as a strong word of caution that these contributing factors are not 100%.

The intention in pointing to the evidence must never be to hurt someone or to make them feel bad. But having said that, our therapeutic culture does us no favors with its insistence on always having to feel good. Reality is much more real than that. As a Christian I look at the world and see a world now that is abnormal and broken and sinful of which I and everyone else is a part. That is what is. In the midst of my brokenness there is pain and hurt that I inflict upon myself and others, including my children. That is why I am so thankful that Jesus Christ entered into my broken world and into the hurt that is caused by my brokenness, to bring forgiveness and healing of those hurts and pain. As a Christian I can actually embrace the brokenness and hurt without them crushing me because Christ is there facing them with me. If we as parents in our sinfulness and brokenness bring pain upon our children – including the pain of homosexuality because of negative relational dynamics - then the Good News is that Jesus came for both us and them - and that reality is our hope.

I would like to comment also on a point that comes to light at the end of this section in the dialogue with your lesbian friend. We may be running ahead of ourselves here but I believe it is worth commenting on here. The comment is made that your friend will not be taking part in these discussions because of past frustrations with having to try to convince others of the worth of her being.

My heart aches when I hear this, especially if in past discussions, people have in any way seemed to lessen her worth as a person. Lest there be any reader of this blog who like her is wavering with similar thoughts about remaining in this conversation, let me say as clearly as I can that I believe every human being has equal worth in the eyes of God and should therefore have equal worth in our eyes. Whether heterosexual or homosexual or bi-sexual or transgendered, we have equal value and worth in God’s eyes.

But I would go on and say that this value and worth is not drawn from our sexuality. Let me speak personally here. My identity is found in God’s view of me, and if I understand Scripture correctly, God sees me as a human being made in His image and likeness. My identity then is not that of a heterosexual man. For me, drawing my identity from my sexuality would be to shift the ground of my identity subtly and idolatrously away from God. Rather, my identity is drawn from God. My identity is derived from having been created in God’s image and then that broken image (because of sin which separates me from God) being restored in Christ. Let me assure you from my side of the conversation that no one in this discussion will have to try to convince me of their worth or value. In my mind, that is already a given.

I’ll press pause here and pick up my response to your second point which has to do with the use of data and statistics on my next post.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Factors leading to homosexuality and Using statistics.

POST #3:
, a conversation between pastor/author David Glesne and pastor/author Lars Clausen.

Clausen responds today by narrowing the focus to two points: Glesne’s section on early developmental factors that contribute to homosexuality, and the use of data and statistics to represent homosexual life and practice.

Dear David,

Thank you for your reply to my email, and for this gift of blogging together. Those who have read Straight Into Gay America know that journey and that book are based entirely in my experiences of life and other people. Our conversation is new territory for me, the arguments about the merits and demerits of homosexuality. Someday I expect these conversations will be relegated to the pile of arguments that include racial superiority, gender superiority, and the eugenics movement that have all been popular in our country at one time or another. For now, discussions about homosexuality remain important conversation in our church and culture, and I appreciate our engaging it together.

Thank you for replying to my questions about
  • Early abuse leading to homosexuality
  • Statistics about the gay “lifestyle.”
  • The reality of a gay agenda,
  • The statistics for change from homosexuality to heterosexuality.
In my original letter I wrote these as some of my areas of concern with Understanding Homosexuality. It’s probably good that we narrow our focus and take this conversation step by step, keeping our messages shorter in the hopes that readers will stay with us.

I’d like to reply to your comments about early developmental factors that contribute to homosexuality. (pages 34-38). I want to do this in two ways.
  • One is to consider the suggestions you make about factors leading to homosexuality.
  • The other is to look at the data and statistics you are choosing and ask what I believe are two important questions.
  1. By what criteria do you and I choose which data and statistics we hold to be reliable?
  2. Are data and statistics determinative of the way we address homosexuality, or are they simply supporting arguments for my existing understanding and your existing understanding of homosexuality?

Early factors leading to homosexuality:
Thank you for your qualifications in your book to your section on early factors leading to homosexuality, (“honest researchers are not really sure what causes homosexuality…(34)” and also “this is not to suggest that early destructive family dynamics is the only or even necessarily the greatest contributing factor to the development of homosexuality.(37)”)Still you quote sources that make very strong arguments:

Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.

“Homosexuality is a developmental problem that is almost always the result of problems in family relationships, particularly between father and son. As a result of failure with father, the boy does not fully internalize male gender identity, and develops homosexuality. This is the most commonly seen clinical model.”

I suggest that even with your qualifications, the use of this quote would make fathers of gay sons feel terrible, that they had done something wrong. Now, I’m a story guy to the core, but I admit I don’t go around asking gay men whether or not they’ve had a failure with their father. So, I’ll ask our readers now. If you’re gay and you can offer a story of whether or not the father failure model describes your homosexuality, please add a comment.

My own experience questions Nicolosi’s conclusion. Many people I talk to report knowing that they felt different as kids, and when they look back they realize that they’ve been LGBT as far back as they can remember. It’s possible the cause is from family relationship problems, but these stories from people put real questions to those who claim homosexuality is a developmental problem.

Further, I started thinking about parents I know who have gay children. You write in this section about the striking theme that fathers are often absent, critical, or rejecting, and weak when compared to the mother. So, I started thinking about my friends and acquaintances and their sons:

  • former bishop Martinson who has a gay son
  • former bishop Eggertson who has a gay son
  • former bishop Chilstrom who has a gay son
  • Mr. Johnson, the retired school administrator who is the father of Pastor Jeff Johnson
  • Mr Reitan, the lawyer who is the father of Jake Reitan. All of these are strong fathers, and all of their sons are strong leaders, whether in music, pastoral care, or activist leadership.

I wonder how many nights that because of the data that Nicolosi presents and which you use in your book, that even these strong fathers have gone to bed at night wondering how they have failed their child and caused their homosexuality. For the two sons I know out of these five examples (Reitan and Johnson), neither would report that father failure caused their homosexuality. For gay readers of this blog, please add a comment about whether you perceive your homosexuality to be a developmental problem stemming from family relationship problems.

There’s another quote I find troublesome in the text of Understanding Homosexuality. Despite the qualifications about not knowing the dynamics that cause homosexuality, this quote from author/counselor Robert Hicks is included in the strong closing position of the sections on early family experience and early homosexual experience. As a reader, one might easily infer that this statement speaks more loudly than your qualifications.

“In counseling gay men for twenty years, I have not had one yet whom I would say had a normative childhood or a normative adolescent development in the sexual arena…”

Wow. Again, I think of parents reading this. Would they find your careful qualifications in the text consoling, or would they take this “expert data” with them, to bed at night, wondering at what they or others had wrought upon their beloved son or daughter who turns up gay. Readers…any comments…any stories of normative adolescent development in the sexual arena? I’m sorry I didn’t ask every person I met on my Straight into Gay America tour about their family development and their norming sexual experiences. But if I did, and if I was told what a normative childhood was, I bet I could find many who had normative childhoods.

Hicks is dealing with counselees. This group doesn’t seem to be a good representative sample for which to close your extremely important sections on early family development and early homosexual experiences. I’ve been in counseling myself, and I’ve studied deeply into my own family dynamics. Those family dynamics helped me learn about my qualitites and characteristics (anger, compassion, relationship to rules and institutions, love of adventure, etc) Still, no counselor ever said to me, “Ah, this is why you’re heterosexual.” My sexuality was normative, heterosexual, therefore not a malady to be dissected and fixed. My lesbian friend Ellen Maxon wrote me last week, at the beginning of this dialogue

"I have been involved with several of these discussions on ecunet and for me they very quickly become too insulting and frustrating - trying to convience someone about the worth of my being - soooo I most likely will not be joining -"

The use of Hick’s data brings me to my second points:
By what criteria do you and I choose which data and statistics we hold to be reliable? Shall data and statistics determine the we address homosexuality, or are they supporting arguments for my existing understanding and your existing understanding of homosexuality?

I’ve heard from knowledgeable LGBT friends that they don’t agree with the NARTH data. (The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.) I haven’t looked into NARTH myself, because I’ve simply spent my time listening to people’s stories, but since you suggested them as a source of your data, I’m going to take a look and learn a little more. I’ll get back to you on what I discover and we can dialogue about NARTH. Perhaps some of you readers can help all of us understand NARTH better ( For the purposes of this discussion it would be good for us to know the sources we’re basing our comments on.
As I do this, I ask you to share what makes for good data and good statistics in your work of understanding homosexuality. The various players in the debate about homosexuality are using widely divergent data and statistics to support their viewpoints. If you and I can agree on what constitutes reliable data, this may help us move forward.

One thing that seems important to me is comparing apples to apples. For example with the Hicks data you’re quoting a counselor talking about twenty years of clinical situations. But the subtitle of your book is “perspectives for the local church.” I think that data representing everyday society or everyday church members would be more suitable for a book that is providing perspectives for the local church.

As another example of comparing apples with apples, a section of the book that I found very challenging was your description of a “fuller picture of what we are facing as a society (44)”
You wrote to me, “I surely don't mean to imply that all homosexual persons are involved in the gay lifestyle,” but this is not at all clear from this section of your book, pg. 43 ff. You write at the beginning of the section, “it would be well to look briefly at the lifestyle of homosexuals.” This reads as an over-arching statement, which, as it is written, includes all homosexual people. I find no qualifications listed in this section.

In my first reading of your book I assumed you were talking about homosexual people in general, and I believe most of your readers would assume the same. In your letter to me you nuance this by calling it the “gay-lifestyle.” In the book I see no qualifications that an average reader in the pew would pick up on. Instead, you write that you are offering this section as an antidote to “gay propagandists” who “would like to portray homosexuals as mature, monogamous, loving individuals who form and maintain long-lasting, stable relationships in society.”

In your letter to me you quote Gregory Rogers in his report on "The Gay Report.." "It needs to be said that we are not asserting that all, or even a majority of gays partake of the above practices. Yet in the book you write that some follow the monogamous life, but “very, very few.” You then go on to cite the Institute for Sex Research.

Dave, I’m very concerned here. Your letter to me states some needed qualifications, but the book which has gone out to every church in the ELCA appears to have none of these qualifications included as it presents this data.

If I read page 43, it appears that I fall into the category of a gay propogandist. Why? Because I can name dozens of long term same sex partnerships, including many that I wrote of in Straight Into Gay America. Again, I did not ask each LGBT person I met whether they did what you report as statistics: that 90% are promiscuous, that men average between 20 to 106 partners in a year, that 92% of homosexuals lick one another’s anus, that 29% urinate on one another, etc, etc. Blog comments welcome. If you’re LGBT do these statistics represent you or those you know? I’m not trying to be either funny or mean by asking for comments here. But I didn’t ask these questions of the people I met, and you’re citing them as statistics to give a picture of “the lifestyle of homosexuals.” Bloggers, help us understand.

One more note. Even if gay men like to lick one another’s anus, what does that prove? I’m in a loving sexual relationship with my wife. Would a list of our sexual motions and activities be germane to this present discussion?

When I read through this section the first time, I asked myself, are these the fidelity statistics and activities of everyday LGBT people? You have acknowledged in your letter that these are not the everyday statistics, yet they are presented in your book, without qualification as the “lifestyle of homosexuals,” with “very, very few,” exceptions.

After the presentation of your statistics you write, “The homosexual acts described by Dr. Monteith are taking place regularly in homosexual lifestyle encounters. We never read or hear about them from gay activists who want us rather to think of loving, caring, monogamous homosexual couples sitting on park benches with their arms around each other. But this is the gay lifestyle.”

I admit it Dave, I get hot and bothered when I read this section. It is so extremely different from the picture I gained with everyday LGBT life during my tour Straight Into Gay America and the many LGBT people I have come to know over the years.

Thank you for the qualifications that you provided in your letter, but I fear that none of these qualifications are in this section of the book. 11,000 ELCA congregations now have these statistics as their guide for Understanding Homosexuality. This troubles me.

We have much to chew on together. Thanks for hearing these concerns about the secitions on early development, early homosexual encounters, the use and representation of data, and my question about what data we should consider acceptable for this discussion.

I look forward to your words, and to our journey ahead.


Monday, October 09, 2006

The Talking Begins

Understanding Homosexuality meets Straight Into Gay America: (Post #2)

Here is Dr. David Glesne’s response to Lars Clausen’s request for a conversation. (October 3)Subsequent to this letter, Dave and Lars agreed to conduct our dialogue on this blog in order to enjoy a wider participation.

From now on we’ll be posting directly as we write our responses to one another. Thank you for comments to our first posting. I hope this will be a useful dialogue for many of us. If you know of others who will benefit from this conversation, please invite them to check in here at the blog. I hope to have my response by Wednesday or Thursday. Lars (Oct 9)

Dr. David Glesen agrees to conversation and addresses,

  • early abuse leading to homosexuality.
  • statistics about the gay "lifestyle."
  • the reality of a gay agenda.

Dear Lars,

Your book and letter arrived a couple days ago. First of all, thanks for a copy of Straight Into Gay America: My Unicycle Journey for Equal Rights. I am looking forward to carving out some time to sit down and read it. I have asked my assistant to send you a complimentary copy as well so hopefully within a week or so you will be receiving a copy.

I very much appreciated the sincerity and tone of your letter. I am always a learner and I sense that you are as well. As you know, the homosexual issue is an extremely complex and emotionally charged issue. I always welcome honest dialogue and conversation.

Your biographical information was very helpful - thanks. It gives me a little glimpse, at least, into you as a person, your approach to life, and your experiences.

Perhaps the best way forward is for me to begin by responding to the specific questions you voiced. Since we have the use of cyberspace, we can go back and forth more readily.

Your first question has to do with the common assertion that LGBT people develop their orientation because of early abuse. First of all, a couple clarifications that may be important. The book centers predominantly on homosexuals. I do not take up the matter of bi-sexuality or transgender issues. I realize these are related to homosexuality but the distinction needs to be made. Second, the book is not asserting that all - or even a majority - of homosexual persons develop their orientation as the result of early abuse. As stated in the first paragraph of chapter 2, honest researchers are not really sure what causes homosexuality. However, they have been able to identify evidence pointing to contributing factors. Among those contributing factors is early homosexual experiences. On pages 37-38 I reference four studies that give evidence that sexual early homosexual experiences are such a contributing factor. On pages 39-41 I try to point out that contributing factors, however, vary from individual to individual. There are homosexual persons who have had no negative childhood homosexual experiences but rather a combination of other factors, etc., etc. The quote from Jeffrey Satinover on page 39 is about the best description of the complexity of the causes of homsoexuality that I have come across. (I realize you may have to wait for the book to arrive for you to check these pages if you have already returned the other copy.)

Again, a clarification. I do not address the matter of whether or not LGBT parents abuse their children if that is what you are saying. Maybe I am misunderstanding you here. I am not asserting that LGBT parents abuse their children. The studies referred to on page 38 speak of being abused by older men. They don't identify these older men as the fathers of these children.

Your second question challenges the statistics about the gay lifestyle on pages 44-46. As referenced there, the statistics come from a Dr. Stanley Monteith on the video commentary The Gay Agenda: The Report by Ty & Jeannette Beeson, 1993. Obtaining wholly accurate figures for such behavior is always going to be questionable but a second set of figures compares reasonably close to Monteith's statistics. One of the largest surveys ever conducted of homosexual sex practices was published by two homosexual researchers in 1979. In The Gay Report by Jay and Young, they reported that 99% engaged in oral sex; 91% had anal intercourse; 83% engaged in rimming; 22% had done fisting; 23% admitted to public or groups sex; 73% admitted having sex with boys; and 4% admitted to eating feces. [Reported by the Traditional Values Coalition in an article, "Homosexual Behavior Fuels AIDS and STD Epidemic". Website: Address: 139 C. St. SE, Washington, DC 2003] When you compare the two sets of figures they compare reasonably closely.

Now let me say a word of clarificaton. I need to make clear that I am not saying that all homosexual persons participate in these practices described by Monteith and Jay & Young. And I am not saying the figures are representative of the overall gay population. Both Monteith's figures and The Gay Report's figures, if I understand them correctly, would be descriptive not of the overall gay population but of that segment of the gay population that is involved in what they themselves refer to as "the gay lifestyle". At least, that is the way I am using them in the book. I surely don't mean to imply that all homosexual persons are involved in the gay lifestyle

As Gregory Rogers in his report on "The Gay Report" states, "It needs to be said that we are not asserting that all, or even a majority of gays partake of the above practices [referencing the figures in The Gay Report]. Indeed, as the study indicates, many such practices are condemned by many gays - but also openly praised by many [his italics]. If public opinion felt that all gays so partook, it was indeed in error." (

Also, Dr. Monteith's figures are based, as I understand it, upon the research done by Paul Cameron who has been criticized by some scientists as not doing reliable research. It is hard to put a great deal of weight on their criticisms. They might be right but figures like Monteith's and Jay & Young are the best figures we have and those who criticize them need to come forth with better and more reliable figures. That is what we all are after, after all, the best and most reliable figures. Can it be that the reason so many researchers refuse to study homosexual behavior and its frequency is because it is not politically correct to do so? It is not enough to criticize without providing better statistics.

Thirdly, you question the reality of a gay agenda. I would encourage you to read After the Ball by Harvard graduates and homosexual activists Marshal Kirk and Hunter Madsen (1989) and the 1987 article titled "The Overhauling of Straight America" by Kirk and Erastes Pill, who sell out very clearly the homosexual agenda for America. This is an agenda that comes from homosexual activistis themselves. I would also recommend The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today by Alan Sears and Craig Osten.

You also ask for clarity regarding ex-gay programs and their success rates. There are numerous testimonies of those who knew themselves to be gay and who know equally that their sexual orientation has changed. For someone to say that they weren't really gay in the first place just rings hollow and, it seems to me, betrays a bias that change is not possible. On pages 29-31 I point to biblical teaching, scientific studies and human experience all testifying to the reality that homosexuals can change. I would recommend going to the NARTH website as well for evidence that change is possible.

These are brief responses, but I hope they can move the conversation along.

Dave Glesne

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Clausen asks Glesne for Conversation


Dr. David Glesne's book UNDERSTANDING HOMOSEXUALITY, has been provided free to pastors of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, throughout America. I read Glesne's book, wrote him a letter, and asked for a conversation.

Glesne agreed including also that it would be good for us to communicate publically via blog. So here it is, a conversation we can all participate in. Today I'm posting the letter that I first wrote to David Glesne. On Monday I'll post his reply to me. From then on we'll be posting directly to this blog. Please use the comments and add your thoughts and experiences. In these terribly polarized days, I hope this conversation can be of use.

David Glesne and I are both trained in the same Lutheran Christian tradition, yet Glesne's book is very different from my own STRAIGHT INTO GAY AMERICA. How do we establish our viewpoints and beliefs? How do we change them? I expect to learn much from this conversation. Thank you in advance for your participation. Please invite others.


Dr. David Glesne
Redeemer Lutheran Church
61 Mississippi Way, NE
Fridley, MN 55432-4348

September 22, 2006
Dear David,

I’m writing as a pastor, an author, and another straight person who has also given much time to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender concerns in our country.

Last summer I completed 1,000 miles of unicycling Straight Into Gay America, just in time to come to Orlando’s assembly. I attended your talk sponsored by Solid Rock.

Over the winter I wrote Straight Into Gay America: My Unicycle Journey for Equal Rights. The book was released in July, a compilation of peoples stories along with my own journey of advocating for equality. I read your book, Understanding Homosexuality last week and found it very different from my own. I would like to be in conversation with you and I hope you will reply.

I read the core premise of your position as, “we cannot argue from an IS to an OUGHT.” Your reiterated this in strong terms at the conclusion of your book, “even if 90% of people were exclusively homosexual, that would prove nothing about whether it was right or morally neutral,” I

The reasons I’d like to be in conversation are:

  1. My own approach to life is dominated by IS, by experience, in conversation with the OUGHTs of life. I approach life and conversations and encounters with the possibility of core changes to my life resulting from these encounters. We seem to have different presupposition and I believe I could learn much from you.
  2. My understanding from seminary is that our perceptions of life evolves, our understanding of Revelation also evolves, and we use terms such as created co-creator, historical criticism, narrative criticism, and oral tradition to address the evolutionary character of our faith and our traditions. I would like to better understand your statement that there is no new revelation outside of scripture and the implications of these statements.
  3. My own relationship with my father is conflicted between my IS approach and his OUGHT approach to life. Although we respect one another, we see things differently. Yes, I am a straight ally of LGBTI interests, but I am also very personally involved in the intersections of world views within my own family.
  4. Exploring the dynamics of our worldviews seems key to finding bridges of understanding. I believe these inter-worldview explorations are our best approach to honoring all people and achieving equality in our society.

There are also places of concern in your book that I would like to discuss. Among them:
Your repeated stating that LGBT are for the most part not happy could be understood as you propose, that LGBT are somehow intrinsically unhappy and disordered because of the fall. My own sense is that LGBT unhappiness is better understood from the perspective of an oppressive and damning society that makes it difficult to survive.

The common assertion that LGBT people develop their orientation because of early abuse. Where are these statistics from? I know both LGBT people and non-LGBT people who have suffered abuse or neglect in childhood, but I have not been able to correlate the occurrence of abuse as a cause of LGBT identity. I know many LGBT parents who have not abused their children, but who love and accept them fully for their LGBT identity. The assertion of abuse for these parents is a devastating accusation. Where are these statistics, and how were they gathered?

Your statistics about gay lifestyle are very different from my own experience with the LGBT community. 90% promiscuity rates – averages of 300 to 500 lifetime partners, fisting by 47% of gay men, golden showers, and mud rolling by 17%. To me they sound like a surveyor going into a whorehouse to gather heterosexual fidelity statistics. Where do these data come from? Are they reputable. They are completely different from my experience of LGBT people. Again, if these are not reputable, they are devastating stereotypes to be putting on the people that we want to welcome to the life of our congregations.

Your definition of a gay agenda. Taking the two reports you cite as definitive raises questions for me. In my talk with hundreds of LGBT people, the agenda I hear is simply to have the same rights and responsibilities afforded to our non-LGBT members of society.

One place that begs for clarity in the discussion of LGBT is the ex-gay programs and their success rates. Each side would like to claim that these programs definitively work or don’t work. There must be a way to better define what we’re talking about so that we can reach some understandings. As it stands, LGBT researchers report few successes while Christian groups with interest in change report high success rates. Are successes mostly with people who identify as bisexual to start with?

I borrowed a copy of your book from the local church in town and would very much like my own copy. I am enclosing a copy of Straight Into Gay America. I hope that you’ll consider an exchange (PO Box 74, Chelan, WA 98816).

I look forward to hearing from you when you have opportunity.

Kind regards,

Lars Clausen
PO Box 74
Chelan, WA 98816


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Moral Convenience

The reactions to Congressman Mark Foley’s sexual misconduct scare me more than the actions of Foley.

Emails from the progressive organizations I subscribe to are filled with calls to remove the Republican speaker of the house and demonize the Republican party. As much as anyone else I want a progressive shift at this November’s election. Yet when I see the Republican and the Democratic reactions to Mark Foley’s transgressions, I fear we’re all missing the boat, grabbing at the moral convenience of both cover-ups and exposes. Is it all in the name of who controls the rudder after November?

Progressives had a recent president who covered up sexual activity. That debacle consumed huge resources from our national leadership over the same maneuvering for power. In times like these I believe we can use our energy better if we shut off the TV and open our copies of Desmond Tutu’s NO FUTURE WITHOUT FORGIVENESS.

Charged with heading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission after the end of Apartheid in South Africa, Tutu’s understanding was so great that he realized:

“No matter how terrible the crime of the person appearing for the commission, I had to remember that inside of me I possessed the same capacities, and I had to realize that under different circumstances our roles might be reversed.” (paraphrased as best I can remember)

It would have been so understandable for the man who had been tortured and who had watched so many family members killed, and who had presided at so many funerals caused by apartheid…it would have been understandable for a man like this to want vengeance and to secure power. Instead of moral convenience he went to the moral bedrock of humanity and spoke the words of truth, that we are all one, the best and the worst of us. At times I’d prefer not to hear this truth.

If we shut off the TV and took a long walk, our time might be better used

…to walk the streets and see the people and know that in the crowd we see, tragically many have been raped or abused, men too, but especially women. Foley’s abuse is one piece of the multi-generational damage that flows as an undercurrent in our families and communities and our whole nation.

…to walk the streets and see the people and know that in the crowd we see are stories of disaster and heroism, good deeds and bad, that would take days to hear from any single person that we stopped to really get to know.

…to walk the streets and know that some in this crowd have lost loved ones in war, and some who are now in war will come home and never again have a full night’s sleep or walk their streets with interior peace.

…to know that we are a walking wounded nation and world where we need so much more than moral convenience.

We need to know that at our core we are all dependent on one another, abuser and abused alike, powerful and powerless alike, enemy and friend alike. Oh, how I’d prefer not to hear this truth.

I grieve that many will now use Mark Foley’s story to hurl charges and judgments of pedophilia against gay men. Many will use moral convenience and forget or ignore that sexual abuse is not the equal right that LGBT people strive for (or that heterosexual people strive for either.)

When I go on that walk this afternoon I plan to rededicate myself to love, to recognizing it in others, to naming it, celebrating it, advocating for that love and the rights and responsibilities that create a society which nurtures love. I plan to name the names of the multitude of people I know who teach me what that love is about: single people, men who love men, women who love women, men who love women, women who love men, men who carry the feminine inside, women who carry the masculine inside, those who carry both. I mean to count my blessings and to recall what makes for a blessed life.

Blessings to you,


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Documentary Premiere!

The Straight Into Gay America documentary is FINISHED!

It premieres on October 19th at the 2006 Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in Seattle. The show is at 6:00 p.m. in the Har Exit Theater.

Congratulations to Producer Jenny Ting on a heroic year of work to put 90 hours of taping into a 60 minute documentary. Thanks to all who agreed to share experiences for the video. If you'll be in Seattle on October 19th, come and see the premier.

Anne and I will be there with our kids KariAnna and Kai. After the show we can hopefully all find a place to visit and chat. And yes, I'll have books along to sign.

Here's the link to order tickets.