Thursday, November 02, 2006

Truth Seeking Together - Clausen

Blog Post #9
UNDERSTANDING HOMOSEXUALITY meets STRAIGHT INTO GAY AMERICA, a conversation between pastor/author David Glesne and pastor/author Lars Clausen.
Dear Dave,

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

13 comments:

Dotti Berry said...

Hi Lars and Dave,

I applaud both of you for the civil tone of your correspondence as a deeper truth and understanding is sought.

Since you all said, "Maybe our readers can help with this," regarding the term "lifestyle" as used in conjunction with gay people, I would like to offer some feedback on the discussion. As a sexuality educator, trainer and consultant, I have written and educated people extensively in various settings (including churches, corporations and organizations such as the Girl Scouts) on the misuse term (as well as many in the GLBT community). The easiest way to read some of what I have written is to go to this link which is http://www.gayintostraightamerica.com/547.html. This writing explores the myths that have disempowered the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community, and the use of this term is one of them.

John Gottman and Julie Gottman have done some amazing studies with gay and lesbian couples. (See info under Myth #12 which is "You will only be happy if you are in a heterosexual relationship.")

Regarding NARTH, they have just recently had some of their own members cancel speaking at their own conference in November, as well as resign from their board due to the essay by Gerald Schoenewolf, one of their Science Advisory Board members, who published an essay Titled "Gay Rights and Political Correctness: A Brief History." (Check for full essay at http://www.splcenter.org/images/dynamic/intel/SchoenwolfEssay.pdf

Schoenewolf's essay was first published on NARTH's website in 2005. It digressed and went too far when he went from opening about the "gay rights movement," to saying the following..."There is another way, or other ways, to look at the race issue in America. Africa at the time of slavery was still primarily a jungle… Life there was savage … and those brought to America, and other countries, were in many ways better off."

He argues that Africans were fortunate to have been sold into slavery, and the civil rights movement was "irrational."

Then, in late September, the gay rights group Truth Wins Out called on Focus on the Family to cancel a speaking appearance by NARTH executive director Joseph Nicolosi scheduled for a Focus on the Family conference held September 23 in Palm Springs, Calif.

Nicolosi appeared as planned. But the Schoenewolf essay was erased from NARTH's website the same day as the Focus on the Family conference. (You can read about our correspondence and going inside to meet folks at Focus on the Family in the piece I wrote about Myths that I mentioned above)

For now, Schoenewolf remains a member of NARTH's Science Advisory Committee. This committee has "the authority of opinion and the authority of their recommendations," over what is published by NARTH, according to former committee member David Blakeslee, who resigned in protest over the Schoenewolf essay Sept. 29.

"Whenever a scientific organization speaks inaccurately about science and conflates it with politics, the general public can be significantly misled and harmed," he wrote in his letter of resigation.

Before the Schoenewolf controversy, Warren Throckmorton, a professor of psychology at Grove City College and a former member of NARTH, was slated to present at NARTH's annual conference in November in Orlando, Fla. Now, he's pulled out, and wants nothing to do with the group.

"This stuff about political correctness and slavery is very far outfield," he said. "I'm appalled by it, and a lot of people within NARTH are as well, but they don't have the authority to speak out on it. And those who do have the authority aren't."

I offer this to show the interconnectedness between people's divisive comments that demean across all types of lines, whether those relate to race, sex, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.

As well, In 2005, ex-gay therapist Richard Cohen, the author of “Coming Out Straight,” and part of NARTH, was kicked out of the American Counseling Association for malpractice. Ironically, Cohen is also the President of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX), the leading group that works to get ex-gay speakers into the public schools.

Thanks for the continued dialogue and the opportunity to contribute. May we all continue to engage hearts and minds, create authentic connections, and dissolve differences that separate us.

The light in me honors the light in both of you...dotti berry

Anonymous said...

Lars and David,
I have been keeping up with all of the posts and comments regularly. Thank you both. Right now, I am feeling as though the academic tone of the conversation does not leave me any room to respond. I am not an academic. I have not done extensive research on definitions of terms such as "gay lifestyle" or "anti-gay". The academics are what I am learning from both of you (and from Tim Fisher!). I guess I want to just throw in my two cents to keep everyone on track that we are, in fact, talking about real people.

David, I grew up in the Detroit suburbs. Middle class, my mom stayed home. My parents were very involved with me, we had no issues. My brother is 2 years younger than I am and we were always close. I was an 'overachiever', involved in everything from cheerleading to National Honor Society. While in college I met and fell in love with a woman. When I came out to my parents, I was informed that my behavior was "un-Christian" and "unhealthy". They (including my brother) have not spoken to me in 8 years. Recently my brother contacted me by email and sent me a long essay full of Bible verses and telling me that he wasn't trying to change me, but was just trying to make me realize God's intention for me as a woman (namely, to bear children).

My partner and I have been together for 2.5 years. We own a house, our cars, have 2 cats and a dog, and invite our neighbors over for barbeques. We both have professional jobs and credit card debt we are working on paying off. We both sing in the gay and lesbian chorus. We went to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina to help with pet rescue. We spend holidays with friends and family. And, since my “behavior” seems important to you, yes, we have sex.

Now David, I realize that because you don’t know me personally, it is easy to continue to put me in the “those people” place – talk about my life and my sexuality from an academic perspective. So my question to you is this – have you ever had anyone that you know (college roommate, childhood friend, neighbor, etc) come out to you? Someone that you know personally and know well. Someone you consider a good friend. How did you handle that situation? I am curious to know that because I have spoken to people before who have similar beliefs to you who really struggle once their close friend or relative (someone they know) comes out to them. Oftentimes (as in the case with many politicians), people end up putting up a front to appear in public to be intolerant and unwavering on their beliefs but then in private they end up loving and accepting their friend or relative because they know them personally and realize that they are happy being who they were meant to be.

Perhaps you have not had the experience of anyone coming out to you. I assure you that you know someone who is gay. How sad that that person has not felt comfortable coming out to you, perhaps for fear that you would reject them as my parents have rejected me. Or perhaps it is just the elephant in the room that no one talks about in front of you – again, sad that you are not able to be a part of others’ lives.

This has gotten quite long, I’m sorry about that. I will go back to my lurkdom now….

--Becky Penar

Steve said...

Reading the most recent blog posted by Glesne,I was left with the feeling of where have I heard this sort of comment befor? This sort of ignoring the point that was to be responded to,and glossing over it with more blind,say nothing comments.It was like reading a response from my brother pertaining to my understanding of the Love of God for me.It makes no difference what is offered as testimony to my truth.It differs from my brothers,and is thusly wrong,because he has exclusive understanding.

When I first read Eckhart Tolle's book,A New Earth,I thought to myself,wow,Eckhart knows my brother.Glesne is not writing this book,his ego is.I intend to continue to read his posts,however,I am doubtfull that he will retract any of his comments.His ego will not permit this,and empty comments as were included in his lattest post will remain a constant.Never address the truth summitted,redirect it with more questions not pertainent to tha conversation.As indicated in the other data that is available in combination of the list of organizations that do not feel this data is worthy of consideration,it becomes apparent to me that this book of his would be an exercise in causing myself more pain and condemation if I were to read it.It also is apparent what his true intentions are in sending this book out.He knows fully that the majority of the people want to be told what they should think,instead of doing it for themselves,and experiencing it to be aware of the truth.It is a matter of convienence,and time need not be taken from already overly busy schedules.

I am left with the feeling he is more interested in discussing my sexual practices than he is in discussing what I believe about love,forgiveness,acceptance,and tollerance.By pointing out my having had oral sex,and discussing that with the world it shifts the focus of the conversation.It gived the false perception that I am tainted or less than,because it is much easier to have him tell us than to take the time to get to know me and ask me what my thoughts are.Who has the time to ride a unicycle accross the country to find this information out for themselves.I mean after all he is a minister,and he knows what God thinks,and means for us to do,and how to live our lives.There must be some truth in what he says,because that other fellow has had oral sex.

The whole conversation is for one purpose,and that is to prove he is right,and to point out that homosexual's are wrong.It also speaks very clearly that he is anti-gay.It is similar to the mind set that we are involved in a war to protect us from terroists,instead of stating the truth that we are protecting our oil interests and the fortunes that we have amassed.

Jesus comment on the cross,is as true and appropiate here as it was when He first said it.Father,forgive them,for they know not what they do.

In the over all skeem, of things this book or the people that will undoubtly read it and agree with its content,can never change the truth that God loves us all.It is amazing to me that anyone could interpet the Love of God in this fashion,and insult His Love to infer that He will not love us if we don't do as he says.To infer that anyone,homosexuals,blacks,women,Latinos,are a mistake is to infer that God does not know what He is doing.I believe that He created us in His image,or at least I think that is what I learned in Sunday School,and it wasn't just a select few.The truth is He is perfection,and to twist it around and say anything other than perfection could result is not possible.

So I feel that this exercise is just an enjoyable event to watch.Shakespear said something to the effect that there is no evil but what the mind thinketh.The point that this man is attempting to make is ego centered and will not last forever.I am learning that there are many paths leading home,and that some are less painfull,and are a more direct route.I think forgiveness is a sure bet,and is the path that I choose to follow.

Anonymous said...

Reply to Tim Fisher.

First of all I would encourage everyone who is invested in this debate about ordination of gay and lesbian women and honoring gay and lesbian commitments to review Tim’s thoughtful response to Glesne.

He does a good job educating the reader about the problems of convenience samples in giving accurate information about the general population.

My critique is as follows:

“2)” The truth about so-called homosexual promiscuity is that we don’t know the truth. Tim seems to refute this later in his paper when he analyzes his own data (GSS): men having sex with men (MSM) approximately 20% could fit the promiscuous category. For MSW this number is approximately 6%. (greater than 20 partners).

After subpoint “3” Tim argues: “Because some-even if it’s many, even if it’s most (which I don’t believe it is)-homosexual mena are promiscuous by our standards (the church’s, this discussion’s) does not in any way support the idea that each individual homosexual is promiscuous”

This is quite an easy intellectual argument to agree with. It is the argument of individualism and exceptionalism and it has been used effectively to break down barriers to a number of taboos (every act of premarital sex is not due to lust, it could be due to love; children born into homes without both parents are not necessarily loved any less than those with two parents; abortion is not a matter of convenience or selfishness in most cases, it is sometimes a matter of medical necessity; divorce is not always a moral wrong, especially in cases of domestic violence; and so on).

So I am not convinced that it has proved good social policy or good church policy to dismantle social taboos and the conforming pressure associated with them based solely upon the “exceptionalism” argument.

Regardless of the exceptionalism argument, Fisher does a very good job of presenting research which contradicts Glesne and better informs the church as to the varied nature of homosexual behavior. Like heterosexuals, homosexuals have a varied number of sexual partners and that those who work in public policy and in the church should listen to each person as an individual in order to best address the concerns represented by that individual.

Fisher does not address my previous point that Bailey (2003) suggests that some homosexual men have a different definition of monogamy than heterosexual’s do: separating out sexual fidelity from emotional fidelity. Bailey does not cite extensive statistics in this regard…but he is certainly no right wing religious zealot. If this subset actually exists in meaningful numbers (I will demonstrate later that it does), it should be of concern to those who hypothesize that marriage will bring stability to gays. Extramarital relationships may make the marriage more at risk for this subset of gays.

Fisher cites the Laumann et. al.study of 1993 which he says only demonstrates non-statistical differences between gays and straights in terms of monogamy. It is quoted elsewhere as follows:

In their nationally representative sample, Laumann and his colleagues found that on average gay men reported 432.8 lifetime sexual partners compared to 16.5 for heterosexual men…Lesibans reported almost exactly 100% more partners than the average heterosexual woman.

….Similarly, Deenen, Gijs and van Naerssen studied 156 gay couples and reported that the majority of partners in the study (62%) had had sexual encounters outside of the relationship in the year before the survey. The average number of extrarelational sexual partners for each member of the gay couples in the year before the survey was 7.1 (From: Homosexuality: the Use of Scientific Research in the Church’s Moral Debate, Stanton L. Jones and mark A Yarhouse, pp 110).

I think Fisher makes a good argument for comparing medians rather than means.

I think Fishers use of Vierod and Dolcini is a good example of statistics which undermine Glesne’s argument of widespread gay promiscuity. I hope he will review them and include them in later editions of his book. I disagree with Fisher that these two studies can be compared given the large demographic differences between Norway and USA.

Under the II Statistics: “Having many sexual partners is associated with higher risk of contracting AIDS.” This is a bit of a dodge, perhaps unwittingly by Fisher. Aids is not just associated with higher rates of promiscuity, it is associated with certain types of sexual behaviors more likely to be practiced by gays than heterosexuals. I mention this because I think this is where Glesne’s “science” highlights problematic behavior within some parts of the gay community.

Finally, Fishers use of the GSS is enlightening, but his de-selection of married heterosexual males in his sample comparisons skews the results. I understand why he did this, he thought it would give him a more representative sample to compare gays and straights based upon a lack of institutional support by marriage. But this calculus means that the gay population in his comparison gets the benefit of including monogamous gays (those who would marry if they could) while the heterosexual population is deprived of that representative sample (married heterosexuals are excluded; those less interested in long term commitments and monogamy are over-represented in Fisher’s comparison).

I would encourage Fisher to redo the calculations to include marriage and maybe we can overlap the two comparisons and split the difference. :-).

David Blakeslee

Anonymous said...

Might I suggest looking here for some statistics:

http://volokh.com/2003_05_18_volokh_archive.html#200329266


It's only a blog post, but it's by law professor Eugene Volokh, a moderate intellectually honest blogger I've been reading for a long time. He had a person run statistics on the General Social Survey datasets from 1991-2002 to find the average and median sexual partners since age 18 of homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual men and women. The General Social Survey is randomly-selected, so it doesn't have the sample bias issues that other studies experience. I'm sure if you repeated the statistics running you would find the same answer (though by now you expand the datasets to 2005, instead of 2002, and get better numbers).

Anonymous said...

(Note: if it doesn't take you directly to the post, do a "find" for "General Social Survey"--it'll take you immediately to the post.)

JOe Norquist said...

To Dr. Dave Glesne, in response to your statement to Tim after Post #4. I think one of the most profound statements that have been made in this conversation has been your, "Maybe the way forward through this tangled sexual mess is the Chursh repenting and asking gays and lesbians for forgiveness for the way we have treated them." YES! But that repentance will mean nothing if it is accompanied by "we love you but we hate your sin." It will be meaningless if we insist "One cannot derive an OUGHT from an IS", because if we arrogantly say, "We find... that same-sex behavior...is contrary to the will of God", meaning that ANY sexual expression of love between two committed people of the same sex is sin,it will be completely unacceptable to them and to many Christians. Let me think of several OUGHTS that have come from IS. Although Jesus said a person OUGHT never marry after divorce, the reality of life and Christian love and understanding has led many churches to accept that in many cases it is better to be able to get on with a new life and share that life with a new person in a loving, caring, mutually enriching marriage. Although Paul said women OUGHT NOT speak in the church, the modern church has been greatly blessed and enriched by the acceptance of ordination of some women called into Ministry. Although God said people OUGHT NOT do any work on the Sabbath, the early church came to substitute the Lord's Day of Resurrection on the 1st day for the Sabbath of the 7th day, and the modern Church has accepted, in light of Jesus' statment of the Sabbath being made for people rather than the other way around,that it is not harmful nor sinful for Christians to go to the lake or putter in the yard or travel on Sundays. The circumstances of today and our understandign of God's intention, that is the IS, has changed our understanding of that OUGHT. Probably noone today believes that anyone who does any work on the Sabbath or any woman found to be a non-virgin by her bridegroom OUGHT to be put to death. Dr. Glesne, my wife and I are very thankful that our gay son has a loving partner with whom he is sharing his life. They have just bought a home and their first car after 10 years. We are happy that they can share some of the things that we enjoy in our marriage, including sex. I would think it very wrong, selfish, unkind, and mean-spirited to tell them that God says that any loving,caring, mutually pleasing sexual activity would be sinful for them, just because a few ancient irrelevant passages of the Bible may seem to say so. In one of my blogs I hoped that you would be willing to have a conversation persoanlly with 6 members of Lutheran Concerned to learn what fine people they are and to discuss your difficulty in accepting some of the things you are hearing in this conversation. Dr. Glesne, I am a 77 year old retired family physician, very active in my church, a former medical missiionary in Tanzania, father of 4 children (except one of them, our daughter died fo cancer 9 years ago). I do not consider my beliefs to be radical in any way. But i DO woish that we in the CHurch could be more compassionate and understanding fo the normalcy of various sexual orientations. Shalom, Joe Norquist

Dotti Berry said...

Thanks, Becky, for speaking from your heart. Your sharing is what we encouraged people to do throughout our year long journey, Gay Into Straight America.com (inspired by Lars Clausen's journey, which was one of the catalysts). We said, "You can't hate someone whose story you know." That worked both ways, as we got to know folks on our journey and also shared our authentic selves. I honor that each person participating in this dialogue has a desire to bridge the divide as we wrestle with our understanding of self and others. Even deeper beneath most "tension or conflict" is a dream that each of us has. The discussion that is taking place is such an important one. Recent events cause me to realize even more deeply why it is important to be authentic in these ways. I feel sad for Ted Haggard, and all those who have been impacted. Hi particular situation emphasizes the deeper problem in our society of denying parts of ourself that are not bad or shameful, but that have been taught to be so by some religious teachings. Rather than being empowered with living authentically (an essential characteristic of all major faiths) , we submerge our true selves (to please others and be who/what they want us to be). Then, we find ourselves speaking one way and behaving another, exposing ourselves by flying the red flag of one who "protests too loudly" in order to navigate away from truth. Before passing judgment, however, we might look deeper to determine how our own past denials (about anything) might have contributed to the environment in our society where people such as Jim West (former mayor of Spokane who has since died), Jim McGreevey (fromer NJ governor who resigned), Mark Foley (who resigned from Congress), and Ted Haggard, were impacted by the climate we have all been a part of building each time we move further away from living as our authentic selves. How we do help those who have been impacted (on all sides), and help them to begin to heal and live authentic lives such as Jim McGreevey is now doing? True, he, like the others was "forced out," but should that be held against them? Unfortunately, the cost of internal homonegativity, still perpetuated in many ways in society, takes an inner toil against the spirit.

We might consider seeking a compassionate and forgiving stance (while still holding a person to accountability), rather than a judging stance, asking ourselves: "Have I ever had my words and actions not match?" And, "What was beneath the submersion of my authentic self?" The stuffing of our authentic self and not "speaking our truth" often leads to withdrawal of emotions, leading to numbing of self. This, in turn, often leads to inappropriate choices under the circumstances in order to feel relevant in our being. The cover-up and deception then has its own cost and consequences.

We might look to consider how Dave has been affected in his understanding of who we are because of these same cultural and religious teachings that led these others to deny self.

May we each endeavor to lift up, not tear down, one another. The intention of our year long journey, Gay Into Straight America, (begun on September 11, 2005) was to engage hearts and minds, create authentic connections, and dissolve differences that separate us as we reached out to bridge the divide regarding people's understanding of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons.
Two Women & a Poodle (Dott Berry, Robynne Sapp, and Rylee Joy)...www.GayIntoStraightAmerica.com

Martin Luther said...

"Sin boldly, but believe and rejoice more boldly still."

Tim Fisher said...

Dear David Blakeslee and all,

For ease of reading, I have posted a response to your response at

http://timrfisher.tripod.com/blakesle.htm

Thanks,

Tim Fisher

Nadine said...

1) VALIDITY OF DATA: Rev. Glesne, you say in the last posting, “So we are always open to better studies by those who criticize. Until then we deal with the evidence we have.”

The question is, how do we deal with it? That really means how can we g neralize from the data – who can we say it describes? Let us suppose that at the Assembly in Orlando you, Rev. Glesne, and I went to a Solid Rock meeting and gave an attitude survey to 200 people who were attending their gathering. Let us suppose that we also went to a Soulforce meeting and gave an attitude survey to 200 people who were attending their gathering. Let us further suppose that these numbers are large enough to accurat ely indicate the attitudes of the group we have sampled. Would we have a valid survey of the attitudes of Lutherans in the US? Obviously not as we would have no Missouri or Wisconsin Synod people. Would we have a valid survey of the attitudes of ELCA Lutherans in the US? Obviously not as we would have the views only of those who are involved enough to be sent as a voting delegate or to go on their own because of interest in / concern over what would happen there. Let us even assume that we got everyone present to fill out our attit ude survey. That would be a very large sample size, but the same limitations would apply: it would not tell us about the attitudes of Lutherans in general as that is not the group answering the attitude survey.

Similarly, we can look at the source of data on GLBT folks and conclude that it is from such a narrow sample of the group that nothing can be said about the total population of GLBT people from that data. We do NOT need to provide alternate data to say one group of data does not apply to a whole group. What would you say if we used this data to draw conclusions about Americans in general? Obviously it is not a representative sample of Americans in general. Nor is a lot of data cited a representative sample of GLBT's so it says nothing about the total group.

Data is cheap. I can go stand on any street corner and get lots of data from people that walk by. Good data is very expensive and hard to get as one needs a way to adequately sample the total group about which one wishes to speak. So saying that the data cited parallels that from a group of pro-gay people is really beside the point. The question is whether the group from whom the data was obtained is a fair sample of the group about which you wish to speak. Neither set of data seems to be representative.

2) GAY TAKE OVER OF APA: After the American Psychiatric Association (not the American Psychological Association) removed homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses, both these APAs polled their members in the late 1970s. Of those who responded, over 60% agreed that homosexuality should not be considered a mental illness. Yes, that leaves under 40% who responded that said they thought homosexuality should continue to be on the list of mental illnesses. Generally those with a strong pro or con attitude are the ones that are sure to return their vote, so probably these results include most of those with a strong opinion and some of those who are indifferent. If that poll were repeated today I am certain that those agreeing that homosexuality is not a mental illness would be much higher. I have e-mailed APA asking for specific information about that poll and where to find that information.

3) GAY LIFESTYLE: What do people mean by the phrase “The gay lifestyle”? That is an interesting question that one could answer by asking a lot of people – but to be able to generalize we’d have to have a representative sample of our population, which brings up the question that has been present throughout this discussion, the concerns about the validity of data cited.

Instead let’s ask readers of this blog to respond by indicating what they mean when they use the term gay lifestyle, and how frequently they use it. What I mean is living as a lesbian or gay man, which requires identifying yourself as such to yourself and to at least some others so that you can make contact with and be a part of a gay community. It does NOT mean a promiscuous, swinger type of lifestyle when I use it. I would specify that if I was discussing promiscuous sexual behavior. It means having a community to which you relate emotionally which understands and finds acceptable the fact that you are attracted to same sex others rather than to other different sex others. However, I do not use the term very often.

4) Comments on Steve’s thoughts: I understand where you are coming from and my response to Glesne’s book when I read it are as strong as your comments above, indeed probably more so as my response is private and I did not try to restrain myself with politeness. I think, Steve, that you are making an important point in saying your experience of Glesne’s work is as an anti-gay attack. I believe when Rev. Glesne says that he is not anti-gay, he believes that. However, I have trouble experiencing something as supportive when the person starts by saying be diffe rent from who you are and the person will fully support you in your efforts to be that different person.

In my view Rev. Glesne has taken a narrow part of the Bible and decided that this is the whole truth about how GLBTIQ people are to live and then offered support for those willing to live in that manner. What is needed is an acceptance of the way GLBTIQ people were created as OK. Steve says what many are trying to hear affirmed:

It is amazing to me that anyone could interpret the Love of God in this fashion, and insult His Love to infer that He will not love us if we don't do as he says. To infer that anyone, … [is] a mistake is to infer that God does not know what He is doing. I believe that He created us in His image, or at least I think that is what I learned in Sunday School, and it wasn't just a select few. The truth is He is perfection, and to twist it around and say anything other than perfection could result is not possible.

Rev. Glesne, you say that you will support GLBTIQs in what you acknowledge is a difficult task, to control their sexual drive. What that says is that some people (in this case gay men and lesbians) were made sexually bad and have to control themselves forever, are never to have the closeness and intimacy with a life partner that is usually expressed through sexual behavior. How can anyone see that as supportive?

Support would be a parallel message that I presume you give to straight people, remain celibate until you know this other well enough to be confident and get married. Then develop a life together for the rest of your life. I know married couples who have not had sex in years and that is because their marriage really no longer exists. They stay together for reasons other than the closeness of their relationship. Being in a couple is hard, requiring doing things you don’t want to do because it is important to the other person. I think that God gave us sex as a way to hold us together and make it worth while to get through the rough stretches in the relationship.

So you are asking gay men and lesbians to refrain from sexual behavior. Rev. Glesne , you have not said otherwise so I guess you would allow a life partner relationship as long as it does not include sex, but there is little that you are providing or asking the church to provide to support this relationship. Yes, I read your book and I remember that you would have small support groups. These were presented for the purpose of providing gay men with the male bonding you state they did not get from their father, which I guess is to make them heterosexual. (I did not figure out what women would get from such groups as you presented them, you seemed only focused on men.) I think it would be very hard to find or develop such a group that would provide the support that a life partner would provide. Would they accompany the person on vacations? Would they invite the person to their house for major holidays? True, gay men and lesbians can go to their home of origin for these meals – at least as long as their parents continue to live and have such gatherings and have not rejected them – but that does not provide the supportive feeling of having a person that is the love of your life, of making that person a part of your extended family and having that person make you a part of their extended family, and sharing your life with that pe rson.

Steve gives a good feel for the pain that your approach gives, Rev. Glesne. I do not think that is Jesus’ way. I accept that you do not want to give pain, but you do.

Anonymous said...

A reminder that Dave is alone in his "camp" residing and engaging in this one. Perhaps that speaks more loudly than any of his words regarding his integrity and compassion for persons of homosexual persuasion?

Tim Fisher said...

Der all,

I posted an addendum to my response to David Blakeslee. Again, I invite you to go to

http://timrfisher.tripod.com/blakesle.htm

if you are interested.

Tim Fisher