Friday, December 01, 2006

Closing out the Science Discussion? Lars

Hi Dave,

Thanks for your concluding section addressing science and data. I’ll try and summarize my concerns and then look forward to moving on to theology and Bible. My sense is that where you finally rest, anyway, is in theology and scriptural interpretation.

  1. DATA: I still wish you would take a hard look at the data you're using and the objections that have been raised to these sources by scientific sources. Doctors and scientists, Hedlund and Peterson evaluate the sources that you are citing as "pseudo-science." Because of this dialogue, I have looked carefully at the NARTH website and read some of the articles posted there. I have followed up on the sources that commentators have offered during this blog conversation. I have done online research on my own and I have carefully read your book and others.
  2. EXTRAPOLATION: With your last post I finally understand the missing link that I couldn't find in Understanding Homosexuality. In your book, with as careful a reading as possible, I understood you to be talking to people in the pews about understanding homosexuality in general, and the picture painted was one of depraved sexual promiscuity. I never found any distinctions that would help the reader to know your data were referring to what you have labeled "the gay subculture." In these blog postings I’ve heard your intention to make that a clearer distinction.

    Finally, in this post, I see what I think is your reasoning -- a.) begin with a study of gay subculture. (your Tree in the Forest) b) extrapolate this to the general gay population. (your Look at the Forest) Although you qualify this look as speculative, I find it revealing and disturbing.

    Why do you start with what you consider reprehensible and then extrapolate to the general population by way of speculation? Is this pastoral?

    Why do you not make this process crystal clear in your book? This is a very important interpretive dynamic you're choosing to follow, and by not naming it, I fear you've mislead many well-meaning readers. It seems akin to studying sexual behavior of some select group (drug addicts, prostitutes, nudist colonies, or whatever) and then projecting that behavior onto the general population. Yes, that truly is speculative, and I believe it’s a stretch to call this science...especially when your book hasn't been clear about this extrapolated interpretation that you're using...and specifically when you're calling this data scientific when the broader scientific community is not accepting these studies as representative. If the studies were once accurate, they no longer are. (These studies are mostly from the 70's, a time when most LGBT were living closeted lives. These studies cannot have come close to being representative of the general population. These studies were done before the AIDS crisis in this country, an event of such magnitude that "gay culture" underwent dramatic change) Science is a progressing field. We no longer use flat earth theory to study our planet or to launch our satellites. NARTH data and processes have been rejected by group after group of health, social, medical, and scientific groups.
  3. STUDIES: At this point I don't want to go and research the various studies that you've cited in your latest post. I and other commenters have done that extensively in your earlier posts. The critiques of your cited studies seem to warrant a careful consideration, something more than a call for better data to replace what you’ve used. I am still interested in your response to those critiques. There are better studies out there, as our commentators have made clear.

    Let me know if you want to go backwards into the data again. For myself, I'm willing if you are, but if you're not, then it seems better to move forward. . I feel I've said my piece about science and data, you've said your piece, and we can let our words stand for themselves.

    It seems to me, anyway, that the data is important for you mostly as a backup and confirmation of what you believe the Bible to say about homosexuality -- that homosexual activity is sinful and against God's intended order of creation, and that homosexual people should be celibate.
  4. BEHAVIOR. In your last and other posts I've been surprised at how large the issue of homosexual behavior has been in our conversation. I've written more about gay sex in these blogs ever before in my life. Maybe it says something naive about me, but in the extensive conversations I've had with LGBT people we've never talked about "rimming," "golden showers," or, in fact any other "sex acts." Your book is the first time that I ever read the words "rimming" and "golden showers," and I've read many other books and studies. On the other hand, in terms of naiveté, I guess I haven’t had conversations with heterosexual friends about the quantity, and characteristics of their sexual acts.

    In your first paragraph you open by addressing "kind of gay behavior," and "frequency of gay behavior."

It's difficult to go down this track, because it seems to lead to stereotypes. I know so many excellent contributors to our society (gay and straight alike). Of these people, let me say this.

  1. I don't judge them by the type of sex act they are engaging in, unless I discover they are harming others. The cases I know of where sexual and emotional and physcial harm have been done has happened overwhelmingly in heterosexual relationships.
  2. More significantly, I don't judge the sexual behavior of an individual by the statistics of the broader society. In Understanding Homosexuality, you've led readers to believe, that "with very few exceptions," homosexual people are exceedingly promiscuous and sexually repulsive. You've been more clear in this last post about your extrapolative technique, but you're still tilting toward the same place, and this still strikes me as stereotyping. It is not reflective of my personal experience with LGBT people, nor does it seem representative of the studies of those works that have been accepted by the wider scientific and social community. For example, go to the site and you can find reputable studies showing that same sex parents do as good a job, and in some cases a better job of parenting than do male-female couples. As a pastor, these are far more interesting to me than studies about rimming.

If I understand right, LGBT people are not asking for special rights to forward the "gay agenda" that was so frighteningly presented in your book. I understand that the journey for equal rights is to enjoy the legal protections that others enjoy with regards to housing, jobs, protection from hate crimes, and access to the rights and responsibilities of committing one's life to another person by the laws of civil marriage.

I dont' understand how these protections in any way depend upon the percentage of people who engage in rimming or other specific sexual acts.

As in my last post, I asked in all seriousness, what makes us start with differing worldviews? Now I need to ask, what, if anything, would let you release your focus on sexual acts in this discussion of equal rights and biblical acceptance of homosexuality?

If you focusing on sexual acts really is important for us, then I need to ask whether we should change access to marriage for all heterosexuals because of high societal rates of the acts of infidelity, divorce, rape, child abuse, and incest?

The best way I can understand you accepting heterosexual marriage in light of these statistics, and forbidding homosexual marriage because of their statistics is because of a prior interpretation that the Bible blesses heterosexual married relationships and calls homosexuality a sin.

If that is the case, then it seems fitting that we let this peripheral discussion of science rest, and move to the core issues of why we choose to affirm heterosexual relationships and sex, and why we label homosexual sex as sin and we forbid the formal and legal blessing of these relationships.

Blessings, Dave, and thanks for continuing to do this work together.


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