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