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



Leslie M. Deatrick said...

Lars, as you know I am a big fan of debate.

Many debaters argue that every debate round is an important opportunity to contribute to the world of ideas and impact the minds of those involved. They take this responsibility very seriously. I have known people to lose debates because they advocated harmful words or ideas that the judge refused to give legitimacy to. Words have POWER. I am so glad that you are trying to encourage dialogue.

So, I thought I'd make a wish for how this discourse unfolds:

May there be respect, listening, direct argumentative clash (not two ships passing in the night, so to speak), an avoidance of logical fallacies, strong evidence, credible sources, and an understanding of the responsibility we have to contribute honorably to the universal discourse.


Jeshua Erickson said...

Certainly you will all manage a respectful and fruitful dialogue. I'm looking foward to this discussion! Jesus taught us to measure all actions by their fruits. I've seen many gay relationships bear good fruit and many straight relationships bear bad fruit. In other cases, the reverse has been true.

As Christians, we are called to carefully visit each case to consider whether each relationship is bearing good fruit or bad fruit. Making broad claims and general assumptions without considering each relationship is a mistake. Some suggest that our claiming to know what is good fruit and bad fruit requires too much hubris. But it should also be noted that claiming one possesses an infallible understanding of scipture requires a great deal of hubris as well.

Let all who involve themselves in this discussion be humbled by the reality of hubris! And let grace, forgiveness and the work of the Holy Spirit rule the day!