Monday, October 30, 2006

More on "the gay lifestyle." - Glesne

POST #8
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 http://www.narth.com/docs/reporton.html) 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.

Blessings,

Dave

14 comments:

jfburroway said...

While Kay and Young's book "The Gay Report" may come from the so-called "gay camp" as you appear to put it, it doesn't mean that it is any more indicative of gay behavior.

In fact, the so-called study, (which was done by an english professor and a journalist, not demographers, statisticians, or sex behavioral experts) is deeply flawed on several front. So much so that it cannot be reasonably used to validate any other
study, especially if that other study relies on Cameron's work.

I have the details about the Jay and Young book here: http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/Articles/000,005.htm.

Anonymous said...

Jim, good to see you here. I found this because of Warren's site.

I have been blogging on ex-gay watch and their site is down. I wanted to post the below comments there in reference to an ongoing conversation. They seem marginally relevant to this conversation:

Tim, I have been out of town for a couple of days and am getting caught up on things I left hanging last week.

I spent about an hour looking over previous articles and books which appear to form the foundation for my assertion that there may be two camps in the gay marriage argument within the gay community: those who affirm the value of monogamy and long term commitment and those who decry such values as reactionary, moralistic and conceding to the values of the majority.

My hunch is that this view of mine comes from more than the following citations, but they were the ones I could find most quickly:

Bailey, The Man Who Would Be Queen. See the chapter on homosexual masculinity. He sees homosexual couples as often essentially different than heterosexual couples in that sexual fidelity is often an option for the former. Monogamy by gays, according to Bailey, is defined without including sexual behavior (you can have sex with someone as long as you don’t love them like your long term partner). At the time of the writing of the book, Bailey believed that the stability provided by gay marriage would not be sufficient to override this characteristic.

Andrew Sullivan is quoted by Justin Kurtz in National Review “One Man’s Marriage Trap,” as follows:
"The truth is, homosexuals are not entirely normal; and to flatten their varied and complicated lives into a single, moralistic model is to miss what is essential and exhilarating about their otherness." The truth that Sullivan evades is that flattening into a model is precisely marriage's social purpose--and furthermore, his arguments for same-sex marriage are in conflict with the desire he expresses in this passage to preserve homosexuality's "otherness." (hat tip to imapp.org).

The article itself has a much more lengthy response to Sullivan’s assertions on gay marriage and they are considerably more nuanced and sometime simply confusing than the above quote.

Richard Kim and Betsy Reed, in The Nation, “State of the Union,” agues for understanding gay marriage in a more complex way:
Though Donna Mikowitz writes here of her desire to marry, and Catherine Stimpson recounts the reasons she’d prefer to abstain, their essay share a wariness about what gays and lesbians may be marrying into—“a moralistic and ridiculously unitary vision of the way people ought to live,” as Minkowitz puts it. (See: Wedding Vows, by Minkowitz; I have not read the whole article and I think I got this from Maggie Gallagher’s site imapp.org).

In a recent article forwarded to me by a colleague at NARTH, depression amongst gays is explored and the following quote caught my interest:
Confronting issues like drug use, risky sexual behavior and depression among gay men often involves sensitive topics — judgment, limiting sexual liberation, attempting to appear “normal” to mainstream society — and Cox knows that plenty of gay activists tackling issues like these have been maligned as moralistic assimilationists (article by Ryan Lee, Depression, sex addiction linked in gay men: report, Washington Blade, September 15, 2006).
So, I think this is a good brief summary and hope it adds to the thoughtful debate on this site.

David Blakeslee

jfburroway said...

Good morning David!

I think you've raised some very interesting points, ones which could take me forever to explore. (Unfortunately, I have a REAL job I'm supposed to be doing right now.)

As I read your post, I went into a brief meditation on "normal". Being gay is not normal, I will readily admit. I don't think it is a normal experience to be told all the things you cannot do and all the evils that you are committing every day of your life. I could write a book about the "abnormality" of the gay experience by simply recounting all the ways in which society, family and friends have reacted to my very existence.

No, I don't think gay men behave "normally" and I don't think it is reasonable to assume that they could, (although setting the expectation, IMO, is reasonable). I think we can explore any number of marginalized groups of people in our society and witness how they "act out" according to the expectations placed on them -- hence, the "moralistic assimilationist" charge that some toss around. There's a lot of anger on the part of those who feel rejected; one reaction is to reciprocate that rejection.

Many gay men and women today, now that they are confronted with the very real possiblity of marriage in Mass and Canada, demur. The numbers are not high, which, IMO is encouraging. They're taking it seriously.

Andrew Sullivan also points out that it may take a generation or more before gays and lesbians can truly sort out what marriage means in their own lives and value systems. We've been told we don't deserve the benefits of marriage, and IMO, the low marriage rates appear to confirm that we've internalized that message. And I can tell you that as a man of age 45, who during my entire life never considered that I could be married, it is quite a change in outlook, and one that needs considerable thought.

But that doesn't mean that Bill and Steve, a retired couple I know who have been together for 25 years, shouldn't join together just because I'm not ready.

Maybe my glass is half full, but I believe this is a good sign that we're not rushing in on a whim. I think that gay marriage, over time, will "flatten" into exactly the sort of model that has always been the hallmark of marriage.

Lars Clausen said...

Dear Jim and Dave,

I hope you'll keep offering your thoughts on this conversation about traditinal marriage that you've begun. Seems to me that the discussions about two-person same gender marriage as the ultimate goal is where activism and political calculation come into tension.

Opening traditional marriage to same gender couples feels like the golden apple right now. Deeper conversations on alternative relationships and how they can exist compassionately and serve individual, group, and global needs would seem to be perceived as threatening the current goal of extending traditional marriage.

"So much time on structure."

"So little time on compassion."

Thanks to all who are adding clarifications, comments, and challenge.
Lars

Timothy Kincaid said...

I spent about an hour looking over previous articles and books which appear to form the foundation for my assertion that there may be two camps in the gay marriage argument within the gay community: those who affirm the value of monogamy and long term commitment and those who decry such values as reactionary, moralistic and conceding to the values of the majority.

David, we've discussed this elsewhere at length (and we do hope to have the comments back up as soon as we can at XGW).

While you can always find some few people who decry values as reactionary or moralistic (just ask Maggie Gallagher - I'm sure she has a comprehensive list of every single individual), I think you misunderstand what they are saying.

There are some lesbians who - seeing marriage's historical treatment of women as goods - find marriage to be paternalistic and would never enter into the bonds of matrimony. Yet very very few say that I should not.

There are some gay men who wish to live as hedonists and sexual libertines and thus shun marriage. But they don't say that I should do the same.

You seem to be seeing some camp that opposes gay marriage. But I don't see those members of that camp. There may be some small number of gay people who harken to the days of Marx and tie-dye that oppose marriage for all but they hardly could be considered a "camp" in the gay community any more than they are a "camp" in society at large. I think you are seeing empty tents and allowing anti-marriage arguments to convince you that they are filled with people.

Anonymous said...

Tim,

glad we could connect here! I wish I had more documentation to support my assertion. But I have done all that I can.

I think there are two camps within the gay community on the issue of gay marriage. I think I have provided some small evidence of that fact. I think I have also provided some small evidence that some gays (you call hedonists or marxists) may have different ideas of what marriage is than other gays and nearly all heterosexuals.

I think what is curious and baffling to most religious conservatives on this matter is that for decades our view of morality (sexual restraint in the form of chastity and marriage and lifelong monogomy) what actively denegrated...now it seems to be embraced...by the "group" which chided us for our reactionary and outmoded beliefs!

Now we are criticized for depriving others of a right (marriage) which was previously devalued.

I do not speak for you, in this statement (that you have previously denegrated marriage).

I am praying that whatever is troubling your site will soon be mended.

David Blakeslee

Jim Burroway said...

I guess it just goes to show the dangers of painting any group with broad brushstrokes. I know of many straight people who have deemed marriage outmoded (those same "marxists" and feminists, etc.), but it doesn't mean they speak for all straight people. Same with gays.

The only reason I can imagine for this to be baffling to some conservatives would be if they refuse to see gays as individuals. Instead, we are routinely painted as a faceless, homogenous hoarde, all thinking alike in lockstep with carefully selected "homosexual advocates" (like Jay and Young or Michelangelo Signorile) to stand in as strawmen for all gay people. Groupthink like that is always baffled when it confronts the complexity and richness of reality.

I am always amused (and that's putting it very mildly) when people express a diversity of opinions represents some sort of shift or change in tactics -- or worse, a sign of disingenuousness, as some have claimed. It is not, not by a long shot.

Tim Fisher said...

Dear all,

An excellent critique of David Glesne's book can be found at
http://www.nisswa.net/~critiques/misho.abb.html

An abbreviated and a full version are available.

Here's the first paragraph:

"The recently published book, Understanding Homosexuality, by Pastor David Glesne, is a good example of another misrepresentation of the consensus scientific understanding of homosexuality. Glesne does this primarily by presenting only the scientific stance of a small and dissident minority of medical and behavioral scientists without a fair representation of the consensus view. This bias gives the impression that among scientists the dissident view is equivalent in substance and credibility to the consensus view, which it is not. From a scientific perspective the book is more a propaganda instrument than a book that is useful for homosexual persons or useful for those who wish to help them lead responsible and healthy lives. "

Information about the authors, Dr. Charles Peterson and Dr. Douglas Hedlund, can be found at www.nisswa.net/~critiques/auth.html


Tim Fisher

Tim Fisher said...

November 1, 2006

Dear Dave and Lars,

I must say, I am experiencing a good deal of frustration with this discussion. Part of it has to do with the blogging/comment system that we are using. The system seems great for basic blogging, where one person writes long notes, and others comment briefly. But it is not well set up for extensive comments and subsequent responses to comments. (A "forum" format, as opposed to a blog/comment format, would work much better for what we are trying to do. But we work with what we have.)

The larger part of my frustration, Dave, is that you don't seem to engage substantively with my comments. As I say above, part of that probably comes from the general awkwardness of our discussion format. But I'm not sure how much more time I want to put into this if you are just going to gloss over what I find to be highly substantive critiques and challenges to your work, offered by me and others.

That being said, let me continue my critique.

In your post #8, you defend the figures provided by Monteith and Jay & Young. Your defense rests mostly on the fact that they show similar results. Yet when both studies in question are ludicrously non-representational (that is, when they are not generalizable to the overall population of gay/lesbian people), then your continued use of these studies to pursue your arguments is simply bad science.

Let's at least be clear about where Monteith got his statistics. He is simply repeating Paul Cameron's "research." As has been said before, Paul Cameron's work is obviously bad. He has been thrown out of all the relevant, mainstream scientific organizations for his shoddy work. He has been reprimanded in state-level district courts of law for lying. The extent of this shoddiness, in the opinion of what would otherwise be known as his peers, includes falsifying results. (For a well done expose of Cameron, see Jim Burroway's "Box Turtle Bulletin" at http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com.)

Normally, I might question a particular study's methods, but I would not question a researcher's honesty. In this case, though, Cameron is so obviously in thrall to an illogical anti-gay bias, and he has so obviously dealt falsely with the facts in many situations, that we must question his honesty. (And yes, Dave, in this case the "anti-gay" label fits.) So the fact that the Jay and Young's statistics are remarkably similar to Paul Cameron's numbers does not surprise me at all. (Note that Cameron published his stats about 3 or 4 years after Jay and Young's.)

>>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 throw up my hands in frustration with you, Dave. How can you talk this way just moments after our discussion about using "the gay community" in generalized ways? When you start talking about what "the gay community admits about itself and its practices," you again seem to elide from a discussion about what some do to a discussion about what is done generally among a population. The effect of this is, intended or not, is to smear all homosexual people as a category. That is simply not acceptable.

>> 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.>>

So what is "homosexual behavior"? Is it all about fisting and eating feces? Yes? No? It seems the only honest public discussion we are avoiding is the one about how gay and lesbian couples, many of them, DON'T engage in what you misleadingly term "the gay lifestyle." Why don't we talk about THAT? Why don't we talk about the love and companionship and care that gay and lesbian people can and do offer each other in their committed relationships—just as do straight people in their relationships? Why is fisting and feces the terms by which we are discussing the "health" of gay and lesbian couples?

>>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?>>

Um, Dave, you are treading on very, very thin scientific ice here. It simply doesn't matter if there are no representative (i.e. "population") studies done that counter the studies you trumpet. Bad science is bad science, period. Your use of these studies amounts to gossip. Let's put this in a smaller context. What if you heard someone say, "I've heard it from two different people that Mary Johnson is having an affair with the pastor. I will proceed with the assumption that this affair is true, and I will repeat this information to others, unless and until I am shown evidence to the contrary." What would you call that sort of statement? This is essentially how you are using Jay/Young and Monteith.

>>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. ??>>

Really? Have you actually read through the critiques I sent you? I can't believe you are defending these studies as representative samples.

>>So we are always open to better studies by those who criticize. Until then we deal with the evidence we have.>>


Wait, wait, wait, wait. You can't get away with this kind of argument, Dave. I'm sorry. What we are looking at are two studies, which no researcher would ever say can be deemed statistically representative. Not even close. Your argument, then, says essentially this: "Here, I have made some statements. Now I challenge anyone to prove them wrong." That is a bogus approach, I'm sorry. The burden of proof is on you. That is just the way it is, if you want to don the mantle of scientific integrity. **A study that is not representative is not representative, no matter if there exists other studies to refute its claims or not.**

Remember, Dave, we are talking about people here. Honest social science does not make categorical (or even mostly categorical) statements about people when all it has are non-representative statistics. Sure, such studies can provide us with some useful information. They might provide helpful hints about further useful research. I certainly agree that there is a subculture among gay men that is highly problematic. There is also a similar subculture among straight men. We can talk about these things, sure. But as soon as we slide from such a discussion to one about a category of person (e.g. "gay" or "straight") then we have to be far, far more careful than you have been.

Part of being appropriately careful is to make the make sure that proper caveats are made when presenting information. You have not even come close. Instead, you continue to defend obviously substandard research, and you continue to allow your concerns about pedophilia, promiscuity, and disgusting sexual practices to apply to general terms like "the gay community."

This, my friend, is false witness.

>>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. >>

If that is not an interest of yours, than why did you go to the trouble and expense of mailing copies of your book to every delegate attending the ELCA's 2005 Churchwide Assembly? Of course you want to win the argument for your camp. Your efforts in this regard are too obvious to deny.

>> 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.>>

A fair, helpful, and graceful assessment of "their behavior" is not possible if we accept what you provide in your book, Dave. We cannot avoid hearing your chapter 3 material ("The Gay Lifestyle and Agenda") when we read the later chapters. It is just way, way too easy for the "research" you present about the "gay lifestyle" to be read as God's reasons for condemning all gay and lesbian relationships. That's bad science, bad writing, and bad theology.

Grace and peace,

Tim Fisher
Minneapolis, MN

Tim Fisher said...

Dear all,

Dave Glesne has insisted that if we want to argue that his statistics are not representative, we will need to present other studies that refute them. Of course, Dave's approach here is illogical, since bad science (or a bad use of science) is simply that: bad. Unrepresentative studies are . . . unrepresentative. But to respond to his challenge . . . I would like to present some statistics that do not support the claims about promiscuity that he makes in his book.

Because my notes are long, I have posted them on a website. Please find them at http://timrfisher.tripod.com/dgstats.htm

(Note that there is no www in the address above. And sorry about the popup ads; they can't be helped.)

Tim Fisher
Minneapolis, MN

Anonymous said...

Tim Fisher, thanks for you hard work pulling together this piece; I will review it.

Others,

I have been making the argument that their are multiple camps within the gay community who have different goals in mind when seeking affirmation of same-sex marriage.

For example, please see the document: BEYOND SAME-SEX MARRIAGE for an example of much less conservative goals for the same-sex marriage movement. I do not assert that these are the goals of the posters here on this blog, but that these views are held by scholars and other academics which wish to broadly redefine marriage and see the same-sex marriage debate as the next rung on that ladder.

Stanley Kurtz has discussed this document here: http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZDY4Y2U4MGJkODRlZTFhNjk2MjZhZTZlMGMyNmUzZWE

Eager to here other's thoughts.

David Blakeslee

Jim Burroway said...

Stanly Kurtz is famous for selectively quoting whomever supports his views a priori. For example:

"A few advocates who back a ‘conservative’ interpretation of same-sex marriage may regularly engage you in debate, yet their views carry relatively little weight within the gay community. Some of these ‘conservative’ supporters of same-sex marriage have claimed that there is no significant political constituency for polygamy-polyamory, or for a general legal deconstruction of marriage. That’s just wrong"

Wrong? How? Where is the proof that the gay consensus supports polygamy? It seems that the most visible supporters of polygamy are deeply religous heterosexuals in the Southwest who are adamantly anti-gay. Kurtz cites Gloria Steinem, Cornel West and Michael Lerner, but I don't any evidence that they "carry much weight within the gay community".

Remember, nearly a quarter of gay/lesbians voted for Bush in 2004 despite his stance on the Federal Marriage Amendment. I know of may more who are Republicans in temperment but refused to vote for him because of his stance. I think it can be argued that absent the FMA stance, Bush may have garnered much more support from the gay community. These are hardly folks who will give Stienhem, West, or Lerner the time of day.

Left-wing radicals have been calling for polyamory for decades; some of them call for gay marriage as well. But this is merely guilt by association, and a rather tenuous one at that. It reminds me of many other political tactics that both the left and the right use to smear their opponents. I can very easily find virulently racist supporters of anti-gay platforms, but it doesn't men that those who oppose same-sex marriage are secretly working on the first step of a slippery slope towards segregation.

This is the classic definition of a red herring.

Dr.Joe Norquist said...

Any time I have heard gay or lesbian people use the words "gay lifestyle" it has been in the context of responding to some anti-gay literature and saying, "Well, my lifestyle is pretty boring. We go to work, we shop, we prepare and eat meals, we sleep, we travel, we go to the theater or ball game or concert." It doesn't seem to be much different from our straight friends. They are reacting to the bizarre things from conservitive Christian writings. There isn't such a thing as a gay lifestyle, any more than there is a straight lifestyle. One wouldn't make a survery of Mardi Gras celebrants and call that the American straight lifestyle, would one? Dr. Joe Norquist

Tim Fisher said...

Dear David Blakeslee,

Thanks for your comments.

I remind you, and anyone else, that the context for this conversation is the church—-specifically, the branch of the Lutheran church called the ELCA. Sure, the broader discussions about "the gay marriage movement" intersect with our context in certain ways. Sure, there are more "radical" activists (of all political, social, and religious stripes) who are calling for all sorts of things. I’m not sure, though, how that really matters here.

For the most part, our context poses two questions: Should same-sex relationships be blessed by the church (or at least by individual pastors of the church)? If so, how? The second question is related, but yet distinct: Should partnered gay and lesbian people be ordained for the pastoral ministry? Why or why not?

I’ve engaged in too many conversations before that bogged down on the how and why and who and what of a supposed slippery slope. "Spokespeople" are trotted out on all sides to prove how evil or crazy the other side is. On that count, it basically seems to me that each of us will find what we are looking for. I don’t find it a very fruitful discussion in our context.

Most immediately, what we are discussing is how David Glesne uses the social science information in his book. I, for one, would like to focus on that for the time being. Otherwise, our conversation threatens to splinter off into a hundred different directions at once. I've seen it happen with this topic many, many times.

Just my two cents . . . .

Tim Fisher
Minneapolis, MN