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?