Wednesday, November 29, 2006
I am hopeful that you had a happy Thanksgiving and have enjoyed a change of pace the last few days. My wife and I were able to get away for three days and we enjoyed time with family.
I want to go back and pick up concerns expressed by you, Lars, and some of our readers, over my use of science and data in chapter three of my book. Specifically, the data cited there regarding the gay lifestyle is questioned. The judgment that Cameron (and Jay & Young’s) surveys are bad science and therefore unreliable touches on two aspects: 1) kind of gay behavior and 2) frequency of practice of that behavior.
A Look at the tree in the forest – the gay sub-culture
The male sexual practices under scrutiny in this discussion are those I cite by Dr. Stanley Monteith on pages 44-45 of my book Understanding Homosexuality. It has been pointed out that these figures are based in turn on research done by Paul Cameron. As I have stated, apart from how others may use these figures I am citing them as being descriptive of male sexual practices taking place in what might be called the gay sub-culture.
Reliable studies tell us that the over-all gay population in America numbers between 1 – 3% of the American population. For our purposes here, then, let us say that 98% are heterosexual and 2% of the population is homosexual. I do not know what percentage of this 2% homosexual population would be considered as part of the gay sub-culture.
In our discussion, I have cited alongside Cameron’s figures the figures of Jay & Young in The Gay Report, the first major survey on homosexuality and one of the largest studies conducted. By putting these figures beside one another we have survey results from different persuasions as it were, since Jay and Young are both gay activists. Their 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 – Montieth 17%, Jay & Young 4%.
These practices are cited by Monteith and Jay & Young as real and practiced in the gay sub-culture, in the ?% of the 2% gay population. A visit to gay websites will confirm the reality of these practices. Homosexual literature speaks of these behaviors as well. I am going to proceed as though we acknowledge that these male homosexual behaviors in the gay sub-culture are real and not simply figments of some anti-gay imagination. What is not under question, then, in Cameron and Jay & Young’s surveys, is the nature and reality of these practices.
Are these surveys reliable? We are proceeding as though the surveys are reliable with regard to the nature and reality of these practices. What is being challenged, then, it would appear, is the percentages of those who practice these male sexual behaviors within this gay sub-culture.
My question to those who challenge the figures is, “How do critics know that the percentages in these two studies are not accurate? How do critics know they are not accurate unless they have done their own studies?” Anyone has a right to challenge and criticize survey results. But if the challenge is made that Cameron and Jay & Young’s percentages are not reliable because they are judged to be bad science (i.e. small sample size, methodological problems, etc), then how bad is the science and how inaccurate are the percentages? Are the percentages regarding anal intercourse in the gay sub-culture (Monteith – 93%, Jay & Young – 91%), for example, totally unreliable? somewhat unreliable? slightly unreliable? Do results based on better science reveal percentages in the 70s? 50s? 30s? If those who criticize the two surveys’ results have done their research, where are the results? Any study can be improved upon. Both the surveys by Cameron and Jay & Young have had their critics. In such am emotionally and politically charged debate, that is not surprising. Are the criticisms warranted? Maybe – but they are hard to sustain. We are always open to better studies.
The objection is brought forward that I cannot argue this way. But this isn’t an argument. I am NOT arguing that because we don’t have better statistics, therefore Cameron and Jay & Young’s figures are accurate and reliable. I am NOT putting forth the absence of better and more reliable figures as proof of the reliability of Cameron and Jay & Young’s figures. I agree, that kind of logic and argument would be illegitimate. But I am NOT putting forth such an argument. I am simply inviting what would be deemed better studies by the critics to the table and remaining open to embracing better and more reliable statistics.
By way of summary then:
These two surveys are saying that these male homosexual behaviors are real and practiced in the gay sub-culture.
These two surveys are saying that the percentages are reflective of the frequency of the behaviors practiced within this gay sub-set which comprises ?% of the 2% homosexual population.
These surveys are NOT saying that all these male homosexual practices are practiced by the overall (2%) gay population.
These surveys are NOT saying that these percentages are representative of the overall gay population.
A Look at the Forest – questions raised
The male homosexual behaviors and their frequency in the gay sub-culture, however, do raise additional questions about wider realities. And here we step into the realm of the speculative. But looking toward answering these questions might be an important aspect of this discussion as well. Those questions would include the following.
Are some of these male homosexual behaviors practiced in the gay sub-culture practiced frequently in the overall gay population as well? For example, how widespread are the practices of oral sex and anal intercourse in the overall gay population? Again this is a speculative question. Might not the percentages within the gay sub-culture with regard to these two practices be relatively similar to percentages in the overall gay population? If anal intercourse, for example, is an essential element for many gay men, then this homosexual behavior practiced in the gay sub-culture may very well be practiced in a widespread fashion in the gay population as a whole. Where do research surveys weigh in on answering these questions?
To what degree is the widespread promiscuity in the gay sub-culture reflective of practices of the overall gay population as well? Andrew Sullivan, a leading proponent of gay marriage, in his 1996 book Virtually Normal wrote, “Among gay male relationships, the openness of the contract makes it more likely to survive than many heterosexual bonds. There is more likely to be a greater understanding of the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man and a woman. …Something of the gay relationship’s necessary honesty, its flexibility, and its equality could undoubtedly help strengthen and inform many heterosexual bonds.”
Troy Perry, former moderator of the largely homosexual denomination, the Metropolitan Community Church, made the same point. He told The Dallas Morning news, “Monogamy is not a word the gay community uses. We talk about fidelity. That means you live in a loving, caring, honest relationship with your partner. Because we can’t marry, we have people with widely varying opinions as to what that means. Some would say that committed couples could have multiple sexual partners as long as there’s no deception.”
In the Netherlands where gay marriage is legal, a recent study suggests that Troy Perry is correct. Even among stable homosexual partnerships, researchers found that men have an average of eight partners per year outside their “monogamous” relationship. We are now hearing about “monogamy without fidelity.” [These three testimonies are taken from an article entitled “Speaking Out: Why Gay Marriage Would Be Harmful” in Christianity Today, October 19, 2006.]
Articulating the perspective of many gays, gay author Gabriel Rotello says that “Gay liberation was founded … on a ‘sexual brotherhood of promiscuity,’ and any abandonment of that promiscuity would amount to a ‘communal betrayal of gargantuan proportions.’” (Sexual Ecology, page 112) It would be worthy of study to investigate if Rotello’s perception of gay promiscuity, which he criticizes, is supported by scientific surveys today. Or is male homosexual promiscuity the big elephant in the room that many are afraid to talk about?
Should we be concerned about the physical and mental consequences of the gay sexual practices of our homosexual neighbors? It needs to be said that these sexual behaviors occur among both heterosexual and homosexual persons. But the question before us here focuses on the healthy or unhealthy nature of sex among men.
In The Health Risks of Gay Sex, John R. Diggs, Jr., M.D. a board-approved Internist, quotes a British researcher, R.R. Wilcox who summarizes the physical danger of sex among men as follows:
“Male homosexual behavior is not simply either ‘active’ or ‘passive,’ since penile-anal, mouth-penile, and hand-anal sexual contact is unusual for both partners, and mouth-anal contact is not infrequent…. Mouth-anal contact is the reason for the relatively high incidence of diseases caused by bowel pathogens in male homosexuals. Trauma may encourage the entry of micro-organisms and thus lead to primary syphilitic lesions occurring in the anogenital area…. In addition to sodomy, trauma may be caused by foreign bodies, including stimulators of various kinds, penile adornments, and prostheses.”
Diggs then goes and on and in significant detail speaks of human physiology and the diseases found with extraordinary frequency among male homosexual practitioners as a result of anal intercourse. The rates of anal cancer are sobering. With regard to oral-anal behavior he documents the extremely high rate of parasitic and other intestinal infections, so numerous that a syndrome called “the Gay Bowel” is described in the medical literature.
Diggs’ summary comment is that the medical and social science evidence indicates that homosexual behavior is uniformly unhealthy, producing diseases that have consequences that range from trivial to serious to deadly, resulting often in a shortened life-span.
I would reiterate here that these male homosexual behaviors are cited not to degrade or demean the people involved. Its intention is not to be a judgment on gay persons (who we are is different from what we do) but to make possible an honest and straightforward and graceful assessment of the behaviors. The question is “Ought not love and compassion for one’s same-sex neighbor move one to address the physical and mental health consequences of gay behavior?”
Monday, November 27, 2006
Thanksgiving Blessings. I keep thinking of what a blessing it is to have this conversation. While some are emailing frustration for not receiving sufficient answers to the scientific data challenges they’ve given to Understanding Homosexuality, I’m thankful that we’re hanging in with this conversation. I too would like to hear more about how you reconcile the challenges to Narth and others, but I’m also glad because we’re moving on to the area of theology, an area where I have many questions and much to learn.
I have three issues to bring up on this writing. The first is simply to put a question mark on your discussion that finishes, “our true identity is heterosexual, for this is the way God created us.” My question is this…Why we can’t be open to understanding that the true nature of a numerical minority segment of our population actually is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender? Why does the heterosexual majority need to describe the minority as sinful and against the will of God?
Which brings me to my second point of discussion.
In your last blog post you refer to Scripture and Theology as an “objective reality.” In your book you share the vivid example of crossing the Rocky Mountains on I-80 and the great high plateau that separates the waters and the oceans to which they flow. If I understand correctly, you’re using this analogy to distinguish between two worldviews.
A subjective view of reality (experience based) that understands scripture as a kind of congealed human wisdom, a conglomeration of experience.
An objective view of reality (revelation based) that understands scripture as revealed from God.
I understand you advocating for an objective view of scripture, for the Word of God revealed in Scripture, and for a literal but not literalistic interpretation of the biblical texts. (Chapter 5 of Understanding Homosexuality, Pages 60-66)
I lean more to the subjective worldview, placing the 2,000-year-old Christ story in the broader context of the Hebrew story in the broader context of a 10,000-12,000 year old agricultural worldview, in the broader context of hundreds of thousands of years of hunting gathering worldviews that preceeded the time of crop cultivation and writing. (Straight Into Gay America: 136-143, and 223-229.)
One of my abiding questions is this:
You and I are both educated in the same Lutheran tradition. Yet we take differing starting points for our views of reality. And the difference between the two of us is exemplified throughout our ELCA Lutheran Christian tradition as well as across many other denominations. This is why it seems good to me for us to be having this discussion.
What makes some of us adopt an "experience-based, subjective view of reality?"
What makes others of us adopt a "revelation-based objective view of reality?"
You write (pg. 66)
“We need to comprehend that the authority of Scripture is the Continental DivideNot too many years ago, I might have taken these up as fighting words and tried to strike back. And these would be the reasons why.
in the homosexual debate. We are either dealing with a view of biblical
authority that sees the human interpretation of the text as the final word—and
with the setting up of this alternative authority the Scriptures can be made
finally to say something quite different than their normal and simple meaning—or
with a view that sees Scripture as God’s revelation to us whose authority rests
within itself because it is given by God. Either there is or there is not
a revelation from God.”
- To say that human interpretation of the text sets itself up as the “final word,” has a harsh edge to it. I’d much rather see human interpretation as a humble view of seeking to do the best we can with our context and tradition.
- To say that human interpretation can take us away from the normal and simple meaning of the text seems justifiable, but I’d like to consider that this can happen whether the worldview is based on experience or revelation. Who gets to decide what is normal and simple? If I were to believe in an objective view of reality and revelation, would I suddenly be equipped to understand the scriptures better? If Jesus, Peter, and Paul had been dealing with normal and simple interpretation, I don’t believe we’d have a Bible to read today. There wouldn’t be any tension in it, any grist for shaping our constantly evolving world. Those three gentlemen were dealing with hard-edged issues of how compassion, grace, politics, and power fit together, and they were coming up with very unconventional answers. Jesus gets booted from the synagogues because his interpretations aren’t the normal and simple ones of the synagogue leaders who held to the standard revelations of their day. In the book of Acts, Peter is faced with whether non-Jews could be part of the emerging Christian Community. In Paul’s letters he deals with an unending stream of issues for how the new Christian understanding would fit into the existing structures of religion and politics.
- To say “the authority of scripture rests in itself, because it is given by God” still leaves us with the subjective job of deciding what to say about the meaning of these scriptures, whether we’re advocating for human interpretation or God’s revelation.
- “Either there is or is not a revelation from God.” This may or may not be so: The reality may be less dualistic than this. Still, whatever the case, humility and truth seem to beg us to admit that asserting a Revelation from God cannot be an objective truth - it is a subjective statement of faith.
More and more, though, I’m simply interested in what makes us hold to our different worldviews.
How is it that we have come to be who we are?
This leads to my third point of discussion in this blog post.
I’d be content to leave our conversation at this level of philosophical pondering except that claiming God has revealed homosexuality as sin has had such devastating consequences for LGBT people, their friends, their families, and their faith communities.
When you say in your blog, “homosexuality is a behavior, and not an identity.”
When you write “homosexuality is a pseudo-identity.”
When you write in your book, “the only alternative to heterosexual marriage is sexual abstinence.” (168) and “Ought the church bless same-sex unions? No.” (173.)
And when you write in your book. “Even if 90% of the population were exclusively homosexual, that would prove nothing about whether it is right or morally neutral.”
Then, in the light of these statements, I question the interpretations about homosexuality as sin that are ascribed as revelation from God.
Yes, if 90% of people are involved in some evil such as murder, then its still an evil. But as you’ve agreed to with me, many homosexual people are simply looking for the peace and freedom to live a loving caring live with a person of the same gender. Many are faithful members of churches, and caring members of society. If we don’t listen to those stories, then, if there is a revelation from God about homosexuality, I’m afraid we’re missing it. Jesus, if anything, seems to me to have been a good listener.
A close listening would also seem to raise questions about the desire to make our churches stand against the celebration of love and the blessing of that love.
A close listening would hear homosexuality as more than simply an act, a behavior, and a pseudo-identity.
My own statement of faith is that the foundation of Scripture, the foundation of my Jesus understanding and my God understanding, the foundation of my world-understanding, the foundation of my people relationship is centered in one word - compassion. And compassion includes the openness to changing one’s views based on the experience at hand. Compassion without the possibility of being changed seems dangerously close to coercion.
This is my interpretive dynamic, and because of this dynamic, I find it easy to listen to the stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. I sense I’m finding authenticity rather than pseudo-identity in these stories. Since I believe these stories to be authentic, it follows easily for me to advocate for equal rights so these people can live with the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as Anne and I and our children have.
So, I’ve added three issues to our little conversational campfire.
- Understanding that the heterosexual emphasis in Scripture can just as easily be open to INCLUDING lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender identity. In fact, the Old Testament major emphasis on hospitality to strangers might be a good way of acknowledging the heterosexual numerical majority as well as the need for welcoming and full participation of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender numerical minority.
- My ongoing question of what makes us take up and keep the worldviews we hold?
- My distrust of ascribing to any “revelation from God,” that is not woven inextricably into the web of the world’s experience. In the case of homosexuality, my distrust of calling homosexuality a revealed sin.
As I’ve said a number of times, there are scientific and data questions in your book that still haven’t been answered as deeply as I’d wish. And now we’re moving to Scripture and God. I’m excited, but I’m also a little scared, as always, when discussing faith, scripture, and theology. Personally, I hesitate to use the word God anymore. So often the term seems to bring up more questions than it answers and to cause more division than communication. It will be good to have as many comments as people feel inclined to make. Hopefully they will help keep us grounded as we move forward.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Because of schedule I have not been able to log in to this blog since my last post of November 9. When I logged on yesterday (November 17), I see that I have been missing a lot of reader activity! Feeling the pressure of sending in my next post, I actually wrote the majority of this post before reading the comments. Only then did I sit down to read the 22 entries of the last two posts. I’m probably a fool for not running for cover!
Although my last post obviously provoked a strong but not totally unexpected reaction, I am encouraged that there seems to be some agreement at least that we were able to get to at least one root of the differences. As a rookie blogger, while I see the positives of writing exchanges back and forth, I also see the inherent weakness in not being able to sit face to face with a reader and clarify meanings, agreements, misrepresentations, nuances, etc. I’m not sure how finally successful that can be by the very nature of the medium we are using.
In spite of a barrage of comments, the best I can do is to focus on our exchanges, Lars. I’m sorry if that is not acceptable to some. So I am responding to your last post here.
Identity vs. Behavior: heterosexuality and homosexuality – a response: Following up on the statement that there is no scientific, medical, or biological evidence that homosexuality is inborn or unchangeable, you ask the question whether or not the same could be said of heterosexuality.
I believe there is a difference and would cite the following: As I state on page 82f of my book, from God’s revelation in the Scriptures I understand that when God created Man (collective noun) in his own image, he created male and female. In other words, there is a sexual differentiation within Man. Man is properly understood when seen as ‘male and female.’ So as created by God, then, Man is heterosexual by nature. Science then shows us that this sexual differentiation within Man is biological. An XY chromosome combination is a boy and an XX chromosome combination a girl. Genetically, we are born either male or female. (I speak to the issue of hermaphrodites in this section.) So I see science and biology (which investigates created reality, i.e. natural revelation) confirming the truth of the Scripture’s teaching on creation (which we know as special revelation). I am suggesting from this that within the worldview of Christian revelation science and biology give evidence that heterosexuality is inborn.
Having said that, I go on and say (page 83) that from creation there is something even prior to our creation as male and female. I say that from creation, gender precedes sex. By ‘gender’ I mean masculine and feminine, a wider concept than sex, something more like an ‘emotional identity’. There is an identity that is rooted in ultimate reality, the very being and nature of God. God is Spirit. As such there is no physical or sexual aspect to God. But there appears to be an emotional identity in God (maleness and femaleness) which is the pattern for our sexual nature as male and female. This gender pattern is our true gender identity because this is the way God created us and sees us. (This is what I would understand as objective reality). Gender then is a given. It is given in the most secure and purposeful way possible, in the very image of God Himself. It is a gift from God. The first man and woman’s gender identities were consistent with their biological sex – their sexual identity as male and female. This is why, on the basis of Scripture and the testimony of science, I am saying that our true identity is heterosexual, for this is the way God created us (natural revelation and the testimony of science) and this is who God tells us we are (special revelation), image bearers of God – male and female.
But the fall into sin has spoiled everything. Everything in creation is now marred and abnormal. Now in this fallen, abnormal world biological abnormalities appear (as with the phenomenon of hermaphrodites). Sexual identity can also become touched and marred and twisted. The very image of God in Man is marred and spoiled (but I don’t believe destroyed). At this point I’m going to quote myself on page 84:
“Our true nature then is not what presently exists, but what God originally created and intended. After the fall, the nature that existed was no longer pure. Neither human beings nor the created earth escaped the curse. Identity, sexuality, and all the created order are now broken and disordered. Nowhere does nature now reflect the perfect will of God, and the divine intent can never be established merely by observing human behavior. That is why our true nature as human beings cannot be known apart from revelation nor separated from the Doctrine of creation.”
The comment is made that if I argue that no one can authenticate that he or she is homosexual then no one can authenticate the he or she is heterosexual either. If we are talking about identity here I would agree. I cannot authenticate that I am heterosexual. In this fallen, abnormal world I can look at my human experience and declare myself heterosexual but is this my true identity and nature? It is only a self-declared identity wherein I am trying to make sense of and give meaning to my experience. I do not think that human experience is finally self-authenticating for it never breaks out of the circle of the finite.
As I have stated in a previous post, my true identity is communicated to me through divine revelation in God’s view of me, that I am a human being made in His image and likeness. My identity then is not rooted in my sexuality, in the created, in being a heterosexual man. For me, drawing my identity from my sexuality, i.e. from something created, would be to shift the ground of my identity subtly and idolatrously away from God. Rather, my identity is drawn 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 – the very image of God Himself. That is why I state above that our true nature or identity as human beings – male and female – cannot be known apart from revelation nor separated from the Doctrine of creation.
It may be worthy of note here that in the Scriptures there is no Hebrew or Greek word for a homosexual person as such. Scripture simply does not identify people by their sexual orientation as our culture does now. It does not identify any of us by our besetting temptations or sins. Rather, all of the bible’s references to homosexuality specify homosexual behavior or acts.
You state, Lars, that “biblically, I hear you saying heterosexuality is good. Homosexuality is bad.” I am saying that, as above, God created us male and female in his image and that creation is good. I am also saying that since the fall into sin, ALL OF US to some extent are sexual deviants with aberrations of fantasy and behavior. There is not one of us that are the perfect sexual being that God intended us to be when He made us male and female. We are ALL broken and fallen. I am saying that the norm for sexuality is heterosexuality which is firmly rooted in the Scriptural teaching on creation and reinforced over and over again by the negative condemnation of homosexual behavior. Homosexual tendencies like, for example, extreme expressions of anger are the result of the brokenness of the fallen world. Homosexual practice represents a move away from the one flesh ideal that God intends for the most intimate of human relationships and heterosexuality represents a move toward the one flesh ideal God intended. So if we allow our homosexual orientation to govern our lifestyle, our behavior is moving us away from God’s ideal. If we allow our heterosexuality to govern our lifestyle – within the right context – our behavior is moving us toward God’s ideal. Then I would add that sexual sin (heterosexual or homosexual) basically is not worse that other sins. In fact, Jesus condemns sins of the spirit (pride, self-righteousness, etc) more strongly than he does sins of the flesh. Obviously, heterosexual and homosexual sin does involve other people and therefore it can and most assuredly does produce worse effects but before God sins such as pride and jealousy are just as bad.
Women and black people: I think we both agree on the rightness of equal rights for women and black people. I would understand those rights to be rooted in women and black people being equally created in the image of God and as such equally valued in the eyes of God. I would disagree with your statement, however, that the Bible says it’s fine to regard women as property and to hold people as slaves. I would not understand that as God’s intention from the beginning. I do not believe it is his intention for life within the Christian community, the church, which exists in this in-between time between the “already” and the “not yet”. It will not be a reality in the new heavens and earth. In this in-between time, the Bible records realities, many of which are descriptive of life lived under the burden of sin and injustice and brokenness and which are not prescriptive of the way he desires us to live with each other.
When the bible says to the woman after the Fall, “Your desire shall be for your husband and he will rule over you” (Gen. 3:16), I believe that is descriptive of what life lived under sin will be like not prescriptive of the way God desires it to be. Likewise, in dealing with the slavery analogy on pages 136-137, I point out that nowhere does Scripture command or encourage or sanction slavery. There is no enforcement of slavery in Scripture the transgression of which would incur a penalty. Rather, the Scriptures regulate existing situations. The Bible’s teaching is always in the direction of the curtailment and eradication of slavery. The Church, to be sure, has at times in its history failed miserably in appropriating the bible’s teachings and living out those teachings and we are all undoubtedly glad when we see progress being made in bringing its practices more closely in alignment with God’s desires. We are glad also for the progress towards equality that has been made in society in these areas.
Looking at social policy: Gender and race are categories of persons who display unchangeable characteristics of being. History would testify that it has been in the best interests of societies to legislate protection for such classes of people. A growing number of ex-gay persons today are testifying to the reality, however, that homosexuality is not an unchangeable characteristic such as gender or race. (This is not to speak to the degree of difficulty in changing or to the numbers who do so.) So what we are being confronted with in the drive for equality with regard to homosexuality, it seems to me, is something entirely new. For the first time we are confronted by a group of persons who are demanding special laws because of their behavior – having sex with partners of the same sex. (The argument that same-sex marriage is about loving relationships – which few would deny - rather than sex doesn’t change the sexual aspect of the relationship and what is involved here). Persons who engage in same-sex behavior already have the same legal protection against abuse and the same rights as other citizens. The question before us then is, “Because of the moral, health, and social issues involved with homosexual behaviors, should this group be allowed special legal protections?” Were we to open the door by giving special legal protection to this group based on their behavior rather than on state of being, there also would be no logical reason for denying special protections for other minority groups such as polygamists, etc.
Orientation and behavior: I’m a bit confused as to meaning when you say that, “Now I see you writing about gay orientation as a lethally dangerous pseudo identity.” But let me take a stab at clarification. I do make a clear distinction between homosexual orientation and homosexual behavior. Individuals do not choose their sexual orientation but they do choose their sexual behavior. The homosexual condition is a result of being part of a broken, fallen world just as the male heterosexual propensity to promiscuity is a part of a broken, fallen world. It is the practice of homosexuality (as with illicit heterosexual practice), however, rather than the orientation which is contrary to the will of God. So I am not saying that the orientation in itself is medically risky but rather the behavior (i.e. anal intercourse, etc.) that physically expresses itself from out of that orientation.
Relook at my understanding of homosexuality: Your challenge to relook at the way I understand homosexuality is a good one. That ought to be something that one does ever so often lest one becomes locked into a mode of thinking that is not open to other information, lest we find ourselves saying, “My mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.” That’s why this discussion we are having with each other – and our readers – is so good and healthy. It is a good challenge.
The argument that it is the quality of the relationship (i.e. loving, caring, nurturing, faithful, etc.) rather than the kind of relationship (man and man and woman and woman) that is all important at first has such appeal because in God’s eyes and in human experience love and care is so central and good and it seems so in sync with the two great commandments of our Lord – loving God and neighbor. And indeed, love is the greatest good. But love separated from truth is not love and as I understand it, God’s revelation says that sexual love is to be expressed only within the bonds of the marriage of a man and a woman. The quality of the relationship is extremely important and always needs to be worked at but the kind of relationship is equally important.
The book of creation still confronts me with the complimentarity of the male and female bodies, that the structure of our bodies does not appear made for homosexual intercourse, and that the medical consequences of homosexual behavior – AIDS, STD’s as gonorrhea, syphilis, hepatitis A and B, anal cancer, amoebic “gay” bowel disease, and herpes, to name a few - are destructive of human life. These medical conditions do not come from homosexual orientation but from sexual behavior. In his book Straight and Narrow, Thomas Schmidt rather meticulously documents the myriad of health problems connected to gay sexual behavior and the reason why male homosexual life expectancy, even without AIDS, is so much shorter than heterosexual male life expectancy. Readers might also benefit from looking at The Health Risks of Gay Sex by John R. Diggs, Jr., M.D., a board-certified Internist.
The book of Scripture confronts me with the teaching that God created us male and female and his desire and intention for the human race is that human sexuality be expressed within the marriage relationship of a man and a woman. This teaching on creation is then reinforced over and over again by the negative condemnations of homosexual behavior.
Science tells me some of the reasons ‘why’ a compassionate and loving God does not approve of same-sex behavior. However, Scripture alone can answer the moral question. I am not persuaded either by Scripture or science as yet, however, to begin saying ‘yes’ to what God has said ‘no’.
As with many of the people you met on your fascinating journey, I too am happy that gay and lesbian persons that I know have not outwardly appeared to experience health consequences of homosexual behavior. I hope that that will continue in the future as well. We and they are still faced with the moral question, however.
Where do we go from here? Although I will be traveling over Thanksgiving, I will try to steal time and work on a response to your concern about science and data.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Continuing thanks for continuing conversation, and for your last post trying to name our agreements and also to name “the root” of our disagreements. I think you did a good job of this, and I’ll try to reply as directly as I can.
I agree it’s hard to manage our dialogue because of the many possible directions. I’m thankful we’re still trying. A cleanup area for me would be to go back and address the science concerns I worked on in the last blog post. You write in your last post that your goal is to put forth a "reflective and reasoned argument that is informed both by science and Scripture." I raised a number of questions about the science and the data you’re quoting, as well as about the reliability of NARTH. Those are continuing questions for me.
But…to your blog. In the area of disagreements you begin with an issue being the failure to “distinguish between personhood and behavior.” You then state your understanding that homosexuality is a behavior and not an identity.
Behavior vs. Identity:
I don’t mean to be flip here, Dave, but I want to ask what happens in this section on disagreements when we replace the word homosexual by heterosexual. If we then ask the same question, “Is a heterosexual identifiable by identity rather than behavior?” we might conclude, “Since there is no scientific, medical, or biological evidence that heterosexuality is inborn or unchangeable, no one can authenticate that he or she is heterosexual. It is only declared.”
I don’t agree with your statement about homosexuality, but insofar as the statement stands, I believe this statement works as well with the term heterosexual as with the term homosexual. Which brings us to Scripture and the ways that you write about God ordering life as heterosexual even from the Genesis story, so that homosexuality is evidence of the brokenness of the world. Biblically, I hear you saying heterosexuality is good. Homosexuality is bad.
I want to follow with the example you gave about women and black people. Yes, these are physical characteristics, but the issue at hand was not the physical characteristic, it was whether women and black people were rightfully regarded as property, or whether they should have equality. The Bible says it’s fine to regard women as property and to hold people as slaves. To use your example, “no one can authenticate” (as a woman or as a slave), that the Bible or science entitles them to equality. “It is only declared.” Society eventually chose to honor this declaration of women’s rights at the ballot box, at work, and in the family. Society eventually chose to honor this declaration of African Americans that slavery was wrong and equality was needed.
I feel like I’m heading too far over in the logical arguments arena, but I do so to say that I believe you’re right about homosexual people claiming their declared identity. Homosexual people, like women’s rights activists before them and abolitionists before them are simply declaring their identity and claiming its equal value. As a heterosexual person I’m not feeling threatened about a gay takeover. To the contrary, I’m feeling excited that the long march of justice for serfs, religious freedom, sexual equality, and racial equality is now including same-gender oriented people. Just as we celebrate these past victories for justice, I am confident we’ll some day celebrate the victory of equal rights for LGBT and Intersex and perhaps other sexual minority people. Ultimately, this question will be answered by neither science nor by specific Biblical verses. It will be answered by the great arc of compassion and justice that weaves through the time tested religious and spiritual expressions of humanity’s journey on earth.
And because of this journey, I can speculate on why people might address you as anti-gay. I can understand two reasons why you might be labeled anti-gay:
- I don’t hear you being on this arc toward justice and equality LGBT people. Instead I hear you judging homosexuality as behavior. In times past, I imagine that suffragists and abolitionists dealt with people who were good hearted and loving Christians, yet whose assumptions stood in the way of achieving equality.
- The second reason I can imagine you being labeled anti-gay goes back to our early blog posts when I challenged you about the overarching use of homosexual as you described your list of behaviors. We went back and forth on the term “homosexual lifestyle,” but your last blog post makes me think we need to return to those posts. You wrote.
“Disease-causing behavior, coupled with denial of lethal dangers, provides
strong evidence that gay orientation is a compulsive and addictive condition –
with practitioners looking for self-justification in a pseudo-identity.”
I thought in the earlier blogs you were trying to carefully distinguish between your understandings of homosexual people and aberrant behavior. Now I see you writing about gay orientation as a lethally dangerous pseudo identity.
Dave, here’s my challenge. If you’re going to really use that term “love the sinner, and hate the sin,” will you relook at the way that you understand homosexuality?
If you make one simple switch – if you accept the testimony of millions of LGBT people – if you accept LGBT life as identity, and if you look for loving, compassionate, caring relationships between LGBT people, then I wonder if you would write what you did, including:
“In their declaration, such persons only lay claim to being a practitioner of
sodomy in one of more of its many forms.”
“Given the compulsive and addictive nature of homosexuality and its destructive
and lethal consequences, would a loving person – be that God or a compassionate
legislator – approve homosexual behavior, or reject and forbid it? ...I contend that a loving and
compassionate person would say “no” to the behavior.”
Dave, you write, “Love not based on objective truth is no love at all. It is betrayal.” I agree. I’m hopeful that together we’re really looking at discovering objective truth, as best we can. You read my book, Straight Into Gay America, so you know the people that I met, and their stories. They simply don’t fit the mold of disease causing, danger denying, compulsive, addicted, pseudo-identified individuals.
Let me know how we should move forward. After all the blogs to this point, and the care with which we have tried to address language and science, I was surprised to read your last blog post. But…I believe you’re right…you’ve named one of the root areas of our disagreement.
How shall we proceed?
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Dave Glesne takes a look at some of the agreements and disagreements in our dialogue so far, including listening, distingushing between personhood and behavior, and loving the sinner but hating the sin.
I continue to value our dialogue. I do admit, however, it is getting increasingly more difficult to decide what aspects to focus on since more and more issues are arising – from ourselves and others. I am trying to guard against becoming overly frustrated with not being able to respond to all concerns and I hope that others will guard themselves also.
I do have a particular concern in making this post. What I am attempting to do is to put forth a reflective and reasoned argument that is informed both by science and Scripture and I am concerned that emotional responses might prevent some from seeing into my thinking and following that thinking through to its end. At the same time I am hopeful that the concern is unwarranted.
I am going to focus here on a few important themes that I see reoccurring in the first and third sections of your most recent post. (I am currently in San Diego, the capital campaign is cresting back home, we’ll be hosting a national conference next week, and so time does not presently allow me to give an adequate response to Tim’s concerns. Therefore your call to devote a post solely and extensively to answering Tim will have to wait for another day.)
One of the keys to a good conversation is the willingness of the participants to listen attentively to one another. Thanks for being a good listener, Lars. As I listen to some of the comments of those who have joined the discussion, I hear pain and frustration and anger at what is perceived to be injustices and discrimination against same-sex persons. The anger and pain and hurt is very real. I have heard it time and again in the voices of same-sex persons.
At the same time I am struck by how much agreement there is in this discussion. The charge is made that there is discrimination in society against same-sex persons. I agree and believe it is an injustice we need to fight against. The charge is made that there is homophobia and ill-will shown against same-sex persons in the church. I agree there are such attitudes and behavior and believe it is sin and must be condemned. I would like to think that we equally support the call in my book for the church to repent of its attitude and behavior toward same-sex persons and to amend its ways toward them. I believe we both agree that the Christian’s call to love one’s neighbor unconditionally includes one’s homosexual neighbor. I believe we both agree that we are to fully accept one another as God accepts us, to have compassion for one another as God has had compassion on us, to show humility before one another. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think we are in full agreement on these matters.
Where then are the disagreements? Let me try to flesh out a root of the disagreement between us as I see it – and I look forward to whether or not you see it the same way.
Might not a major difference stem from not distinguishing between personhood and behavior? For example, when same-sex couples – because they cannot legally marry – are denied a number of significant benefits available to those who may legally marry, that is, opposite sex couples who fall within certain restrictions set by law, e.g., age, relationship, etc., it is called discrimination.
In response I would say that while the complaints are true, they are legally frivolous and irrelevant because same-sex persons are defined by their behavior, not by any identifiable state of being. Since there is no scientific, medical, or biological evidence that homosexuality is inborn or unchangeable, no one can authenticate that he or she is homosexual. It is only declared. In their declaration, such persons only lay claim to being a practitioner of sodomy in one of more of its many forms. As such, any claim that same-sex couples are entitled to certain rights granted to a legally married husband and wife has no more legal merit than that of persons engaged in such similarly aberrant sexual behaviors as consensual adultery, incest, or polygamy.
When society discriminates against black people or women by denying them equal rights, it is wrong because it denies them rights granted to other persons on the basis of their state of being. Black people and women are defined by their state of being. As such, discrimination denigrates them as persons. This is wrong. But, I would argue, homosexuality is not a civil rights issue because skin color has no correlation to sexual behavior. Same-sex persons are not identified by any identifiable state of being, but by their behavior. If it is good for society and public policy to conjoin truth, righteousness, and compassion, then honest public policy will not discriminate against persons but it will have a vested interest in the behavior of its people for the good of society – whether that be the destructive effects of homosexual behavior or even perhaps second-hand smoke.
(At this point the objection often rises, “But you can’t legislate morality?” But to say that “we cannot legislate morality” is disingenuous, illogical, and contrary to historical fact. All law is based on someone’s moral code, on someone’s understanding of right and wrong. Except in cases of arbitrary power struggle, morality is the only thing we legislate.)
“Love the sinner, hate the sin.”
The comment is put forth that “love the sinner and hate the sin” is really anti-gay. I would agree IF the distinction between personhood and behavior is not made. But it is precisely this distinction that I am making.
There is a reality of which I am absolutely certain and that is that I am a sinner. There is just too much empirical and logical evidence for me to deny it. That is my condition and because this condition is real, I commit sins. But when I ask myself, “Because God is holy and therefore hates my sin, does that in any way diminish his unfathomable and radical love for me? As a parent, when I disapprove of my child’s sinful behavior, does that in any way diminish my love for my child?” I have to answer “no”. God hates my sin while simultaneously loving me the sinner. I believe this is the very reality that God teaches us in the Scriptures and in the person and life of Jesus Christ. God hates my sin but God loves me and so sent Jesus to the cross that my sins might be forgiven.
Jesus demonstrated this attitude of love and acceptance one day while sitting at a well with a woman of Samaria. (John 4:4-26) The woman had been married five times. Jesus never approved of her multiple marriages, but he didn’t allow them to disqualify her from receiving Living Water from him. He accepted her. He accepted her without approving of her behavior. And this woman’s life was drastically changed when she realized she was accepted. Jesus shows us there is huge difference between accepting and approving. We are to be as accepting of others as Jesus is accepting of us.
I believe it is therefore also my calling to hate sin (first of all in myself and then when appropriate in others) but to love the sinner, to accept myself and others but not necessarily approve of my and their behavior. Given the compulsive and addictive nature of homosexuality and its destructive and lethal consequences, would a loving person – be that God or a compassionate legislator – approve homosexual behavior, or reject and forbid it? If love seeks the welfare of the beloved and not emotional bondage, then it seems to me that love speaks the hard truth even when it causes pain and it will not allow a person caught in bondage to define the diagnosis. I contend that a loving and compassionate person would say “no” to the behavior.
Love not based on objective truth is no love at all. It is betrayal. A loving response does not condemn persons, but gives a candid assessment of behavior. “What we do” is different from “who we are”. I believe we are required to judge behavior, whereas only God can judge persons. The truth does hurt. It does cause pain. That is why we are to speak it in love. A loving response condemns sin precisely so that the sinner will not be condemned, neither by God nor by the behavior itself. Tough love just says “no”.
While I believe “love the sinner, hate the sin” is good advice, then, when done the way Jesus does it for all of us, I must admit, I often cringe inside when I hear it spoken. It is often spoken so flippantly and casually by religious people with very little reality behind it. If it is spoken when in fact the sinner is not loved, it is dishonest and hypocritical. If it is spoken when in fact the sinner is loved, it conveys the same reality as Jesus loving us while at the same time hating our sin.
Before going on, I want to say something else anecdotally which I think is important. I really like my homosexual friends. Some months back I developed a friendship with a young lesbian woman here in the area. We agreed to meet monthly for lunch and did so for many months. We got to know each other, our backgrounds, our families, our interests and hopes and dreams. I have grown very fond of her as a friend. She is fun to be with and has so many great qualities. We disagree on certain matters, but we are comfortable with and like each other – at least I like her (I’d better not speak for her!) This is true of my relationship with other homosexual friends as well. This distinction between “who we are” and “what we do” is critically important, it seems to me, in all our relationships.
Difficulty in accepting love. I have been asking myself as I have been reading this blog and its comments, “Why is it that same-sex persons have such difficulty accepting a person’s love for them? I am saying – and hopefully demonstrating in practice albeit ever so imperfectly – that I have compassion and love for same-sex persons, but some don’t seem to be able to accept it. They don’t believe me.” Could the reason again lie in their not making a distinction between personhood and behavior? When I speak against homosexual behavior, there is an intimation that I don’t really love and am not really compassionate toward same-sex persons. I am anti-gay. My words are taken as showing hostility and hatred for same-sex persons.
Here is my question. “Is hostility and hatred often wrongly attributed because same-sex persons tend to identify ‘what they do’ with ‘who they are’?” In doing so it becomes impossible to criticize their behavior without it seeming to them to be an attack on their personhood. Becoming free of a behavioral addiction requires that one separate “what I do” from “who I am.”
When I feel the sadness of loving a same-sex person and that person not accepting or receiving that love, I wonder if that is just a small glimpse into feeling how God feels when He loves sinners so much that He sent His Son to die for them and then they turn their back on that love and say they don’t want his love or forgiveness.
Created gay. A variation of this failure to make the proper distinction between “what we do” and “who we are” is to assert that gay people are created gay. As such, it is argued, homosexuality is a person’s true identity because God created them gay. With all due respect to Dr. Cameron, his assertion that same-sex people are created gay finds no support in science. Therefore, no “gay-identity” can be established on the basis of genetics or biology. As I state above, since no scientific, medical, or biological evidence exists that homosexuality is either inborn or unchangeable, no one can authenticate that he or she is homosexual – it is only declared.
If my understanding of recent history is correct, it was not until the 1990’s that advocates discovered the “PR” value of getting people to believe that their condition was “genetic” or “biologically determined”. During the early and middle ‘90’s several studies were alleged to prove such. (I refer you to pp. 23-25 of Understanding Homosexuality) The claim was false. Those studies have not survived scientific peer review, and few, if any researchers today will support that claim.
It is important to realize that prior to the 1990’s, no researchers on either side of the fence said either that homosexuality was genetic, inborn, or otherwise “hardwired”, or that one could not change one’s orientation. Alfred Kinsey, John Money, Masters and Johnson, all pansexual proponents, said that persons could change, and that it was their own business – difficult, but possible. Recently, Robert Spitzer, the chief decision-maker in the 1973 APA decision that removed homosexuality from the official diagnostic manual of mental disorders, has changed his view on homosexuality. He says, “Like most psychiatrists, I thought that homosexual behavior could only be resisted, and that no one could really change their sexual orientation. I now believe that to be false. Some people can and do change.” (Page 31).
Disease-causing behavior, coupled with denial of lethal dangers, provides strong evidence that gay orientation is a compulsive and addictive condition – with practitioners looking for self-justification in a pseudo-identity.
That is why I state on page 59 that many prefer not to talk about “homosexual people” as such. They believe that designation tends to define persons by only one small, particular, aspect of their identity. Rather, they prefer to talk about persons with homosexual thoughts and feelings and desires just as they talk about people who struggle with anger and pride and covetousness.
This got longer than I anticipated. My apologies. Yet, I believe it gets to a root issue in our discussion.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
UNDERSTANDING HOMOSEXUALITY meets STRAIGHT INTO GAY AMERICA, a conversation between pastor/author David Glesne and pastor/author Lars Clausen.
Thank you again. The challenge of a dialogue such as this is how easily we can open a can of worms. I think of Benjamin Franklin who I believe said something like, “If I’d had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” I’d better get right to it.
Let me begin again, with thanks for your openness to wishing you’d published your book with a clearer use of terms. I, too, wish this had been the case.
Let me also add thanks for this sentence from your last post: “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.”
Yes, thankfully, we are seekers. My interest, though, may be different. I'm not really interested in homosexual sexual "behaviors," just like I'm not interested in heterosexual sexual "behaviors." I'm interested in discovering, supporting, and promoting compassionate relationships wherever I can, on the personal, group, and global level.
My interest is in compassionate listening, modeled as best I can after the stories I read about Jesus and others like him—people who in their lives kept stepping beyond traditional moral boundaries to offer love-filled connections—people who seemed to get a better hearing at the margins of society than from the center of society.
I think maybe you and I approach truth seeking from different vantage points, both of which have Judeo/Christian backing, and I thank you for the opportunity we have to learn from each other. Worldview comments keep dripping into our dialogue, enticing me forward. This time, though, I’m sticking to
- Substantive Blog Comments.
- Tim Fisher’s Remarks on Homosexual Behavior.
- Dealing with the “Anti-Gay” camp term.
SUBSTANTIVE BLOG COMMENTS:
Comments in the last blog raised very interesting points about homosexual behavior, including conversation that the goal of many LGBT people, but not all gay people, is monogamous marriage. Commenters talk about the social progression from societal repression, to the 1969 Stonewall protest and the beginning of gay pride, to this time when they note the assimilationist goals of gay marriage and full equality. David Blakelee writes
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.
Here’s another use of the word camp, and additional texture to the conversations about equality and assimilation. Perhaps at some point we can extend out conversation in these directions.
At this point, I’d just like to note that in your book I’m missing the connection between behaviors you cite about LGBT people, and the likelihood that these behaviors stem from society’s non-acceptance of homosexuality.
- For instance you write that gay people are not happy, yet I don’t see attention given to how living in a repressive society, or with unaccepting parents, or an unaccepting religion might be grounds for some unhappiness.
- Also, you write about promiscuity, yet I don’t see attention to how society and religious institutions are only recently beginning to offer affirmations, celebrations, and benefits for LGBT people who make long term relational commitments.
You start your book by saying that churches should apologize to homosexual people for the hatred shown and for the lack of welcome by churches. I thank you for this statement. A next step might be imagining a society free from discrimination, as equally affirming of LGBT people as non-LGBT people. If LGBT people lived in this kind of society, perhaps we'd discover that unhappiness was more a result of societal pressure rather than a characteristic of gayness. Perhaps promiscuity would be found to be a personal characteristic (as it is for individuals in the non-LGBT community) rather than a label of a lifestlye for LGBT people.
DATING THE DATA:
The data you quote from Jay and Young to back up your data from Monteith is published in 1979. I assume that data collection took place for many years before the publication date. The 60’s and 70’s were a very different era regarding sexuality, for both LGBT and non-LGBT parts of society. With the AIDS crisis that decimated the gay male population beginning in the 80’s, gay male sexual behavior underwent yet another change. More thoughts later on behavior – first the data.
Commenter Tim Fisher has apparently done detailed study on existing data and he’s expressing frustration with your use of data, including the Monteith and Jay&Young studies. He’s offered numerous comments to your last post, including creating an essay on his website http://timrfisher.tripod.com/dgstats.htm that gives alternative statistics, directly answering your statement,
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.
Tim cites studies from the 1990’s and he qualifies these studies with great care. He’s done a far more thorough job than me of pressing the issue of source validity, and data use. Tim Fisher continues the challenge to your data and writes that the publication of your book has consequences of misinforming your target audience. I think it might be worth a blog post from you, dedicated solely and extensively to answering Tim. It might help us get past data and statistics and onto worldviews.
If our dialogue discovers that your publication had unintended consequences of misinforming your target audience, I assume you’ll find ways to correct the misperceptions that have gone to each pastor and congregation of the ELCA. Based on the comments to the editor in The Lutheran magazine and commenters on this blog, many take this issue seriously and would appreciate the corrections.
As a segue to talking about camps, I note that you continue to reference NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homsexuality) as a source for your data, including Paul Cameron. Tim Fisher and others have discussed at length the credibility issues raised for many when NARTH data is employed. A lengthy discussion on NARTH is available at the Religious Tolerance website, http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_nart.htm Some may find this useful. I don’t want to argue details of their description, but I do want to list the organizations that find NARTH’s aims and methods unacceptable. The list is formidable. This page, http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_expr.htm, includes statements from the organizations. I quote only the following:
According to the National Association for Research and Therapy of
Homosexuality, (NARTH) the only mental health professional organization that
promotes reparative therapy, a number of organizations formed a coalition to
oppose reparative therapy. The group includes:
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- American Counseling Association
- American Federation of Teachers
- American Medical Association
- American Psychiatric Association
- American Psychological Association
- The Interfaith Alliance
- National Association of School Psychologists
- National Association of Social Workers
- National Association of Secondary School Principals
- National Education Association
- New Ways Ministries
- People for the American Way.
To choose NARTH in the face of the concerns of all these organizations makes me wonder about what kind of truth seeking we’re doing. Are you aware of the level of concern about NARTH by mainstream organizations? (10 of these organizations are non-religious national professional organizations.) Help me out here, please. I read on the NARTH website of a "gay takeover" theory of why the American Psychological Association dropped homosexuality from its list of maladies. I find it difficult to believe that medical professionals would be so easily swayed in this one organization, much less in the long list of organizations cited here.
For many in the LGBT equality movement, NARTH sits at the center of what is often called “the anti-gay camp.” I’ll address that term momentarily.
First, though, you wrote in your last post, that unless we have better data, we're constrained to dealing with the evidence we have. As I've confessed before, I'm not a data guru, but I was recently introduced to this website, www.nisswa.net/~critiques. Here Dr. Peterson and Dr. Hedlund address the divide between "consensus science" and "dissident minority science." As you likely know, they include a review of your book as representing "dissident minority science."
In the spirit of truthseeking, I suggest we consider that perhaps some better data does exist, and perhaps NARTH is not the place to be taking our data from.
Pro-Gay, Anti-Gay, and Camp Talk:
Dave, thanks for finding time to read Straight Into Gay America. You may remember Roger, the gay priest in Philadelphia who told me,
"Pro-gay means providing whatever it takes for gay people to feel safe and
accepted. Pro-gay is not a detriment to straight folks.”
You wrote in your last post,
"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. "
First, thanks for inviting me to be careful about my use of this term, “anti-gay.” I agree that the term is loaded, I take the admonition, and I am trying to think this through.
I hear you saying you have a deep compassion for gay people, and I accept that this is your understanding. I also hear your compassion as framed in a moral context that calls homosexual activity
- a sin,
- a deviation from God’s intended order,
- and that faithful living would include either changing one’s orientation to heterosexuality,
- or, failing that, living a celibate life.
I’m not in any way trying to put words in your mouth (and I appreciate that you are being so careful to do the same for me – continuing thanks) Is this a fair summary of the moral writing of your book?
A soundbyte used by many, including those that I’ve called “anti-gay” is “Love the sinner. Hate the sin.”
I’m open to not using the word “anti-gay,” but I want to explore that the term, “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” is “against lgbt people," and even perhaps "anti-gay."
When I visited Dean Euan Cameron of Union Theological Seminary I asked him about “Love the sinner. Hate the sin.” I included his response in my book.
“Love the sinner, hate the sin, is not really love.
It’s only love if -- love if you will do this or be this
Or live this way. We can’t ask this of people
If it goes against who they are created to be.”
He preceeded this with
“The doctrine of creation affirms
God accepts us as we are created.
Clearly some people are created gay,
or lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
“The doctrine of redemption,” he continues,
“is not about God forgiving or tolerating the sin
of homosexuality. The doctrine of redemption
concerns all of us coming up short of being fully
who we are created to be, fully loving, fully
compassionate. Redemption helps us understand
there’s a place for everyone in this world.”
Dr. Cameron talks about the great challenge
of respecting and honoring diversity. “It’s far easier
to create exclusionary laws, especially
around sexual practice.”
In other words, “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” is, in its effect, “anti-gay.” This may not be its intention - the person holding this view may be filled with compassion. Still, the effect is against the identity of LGBT people.
What I like about the term anti-gay is that it presses a person to evaluate the effect caused when using a term that can be used so compassionately – “Love the sinner. Hate the sin.” It stops us from using this term without thought. And too often, this term is used to discount LGBT relationships.
If the identity of a person is LGBT, and then the normal behaviors of attraction, commitment, and sexual activity associated with being LGBT are hated, how can this be love for a person whose identity, beyond any behaviors, is LGBT?
Decades ago one could hear people saying with compassion that they loved black people, but they needed to stick to their own drinking fountains. Scriptural, scientific, and cultural justification was given for this view.
Decades ago one could hear people saying with compassion that they loved women, but they needed to stay home on election day. Scriptural, scientific, and cultural justification was given for this view.
Both African American people and women now have full legal equality in our society, and work continues on actualizing equality of opportunity. We look back and say that separation and inequality, in retrospect, was not compassionate.
I believe we’re on the journey toward that day when compassion for LGBT people includes acceptance of LGBT identity and the granting of full legal equality.
Thanks Dave, for continuing this conversation.
Thanks to all who are adding thoughts and clarity to this discussion. Blessings, Lars