UNDERSTANDING HOMOSEXUALITY meets STRAIGHT INTO GAY AMERICA, 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.
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 (www.americanauthor.com), 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 (
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. http://www.narth.com/docs/1995papers/satinover.html
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. http://www.narth.com/docs/1995papers/satinover.html. 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,