Friday, January 05, 2007

Dave Glesne responds to readers

Post #22: A continuing discussion between pastor/author Dave Glesne (Understanding Homosexuality) and pastor/author Lars Clausen (Straight Into Gay America)

Dear Lars,

A Happy New Year to you! We enjoyed Christmas with two of our children home with us and a trip to northern Minnesota to visit family there. Between Christmas and New Years I took a week of vacation. However, when one does not leave town for vacation, one runs the risk of being called on for deaths and funerals and that week we had four deaths and three funeral!. So I’m really not feeling as though I had much of a vacation.

But life goes on and I need to respond to your latest post. You invite me to respond to some of our readers and their concerns. What I will do is respond first with some thoughts from your most recent post and then look at some of the comments by our readers to my Tuesday, December 19 post.

Robert Spitzer’s Data & Reparative therapy
You commented on reparative therapy and Spitzer’s data in your latest post. Perhaps you and our readers will note that in our conversation, I have neither used the term reparative therapy nor have I advocated for it. One reason is, I don’t like the term. Repair a person? In my mind, that is not good or helpful language. A few years ago, I was present in a conversation which included Dr. Warren Throckmorton and another Christian psychologist in Minneapolis and remember both of them saying that they did not like nor use that term.

Is there evidence that same-sex persons can and have indeed changed? I believe the answer to that question is “yes.” On pages 28-33 of Understanding Homosexuality I address this matter and give evidence from biblical teaching, from scientific studies, and from human experience that homosexual persons can and have changed. It is within this section that I speak of Robert Spitzer’s testimony that some same-sex persons can and do change. As to Spitzer’s added comments that the “likelihood of altering sexual orientation is probably rare” I am not at all surprised. Those who carefully read the book and this section of the book in particular will note that I am very careful to be a realist here. I acknowledge “the limits and problems” (page 30) of change, that change is not easy and there are varying degrees of change (page 30), that it is very unlikely that one for whom same-sex impulses run deep within their being and who are in any way pressured into treatment will benefit (page 30). I say that for the one who wants to move away from the orientation “change may and probably will be a long, difficult and painful challenge.” (pages 31-32)

Outside the Christian context, I would suspect that Spitzer is right – that change is probably rare. Within the Christian context, it is undoubtedly just as difficult. I cite that ministries which find that individuals who are being successful in their attempts at sexual reorientation, or at least sexual control, seem to hold three values in common: 1) a strong, unswerving commitment to Jesus Christ, 2) the establishment of a long-term relationship with a professional therapist, and 3) an accepting environment in which progress and healing toward sexual wholeness can be made.

A conversation over lunch a few weeks back with a friend who lived as a lesbian for 14 years but who is no longer living as such, confirmed again for me the difficulty such a one has in moving out of the lifestyle. There is a lot of pain involved. A woman in the congregation I serve, with the help of a loving Christian community and a ministry of inner healing, has struggled but has successfully left her lesbian life of 10 years and is now experiencing a different reality. The testimony of an ex-gay man who now is married to a good friend of my daughter bears witness also to the difficulty but success in moving away from the homosexual life.

For those interested, a documentary by Dr. Warren Throckmorton entitled “I Do Exist” might be helpful. From this website: “This documentary looks into the lives of five people who struggle with being attracted to those of the same sex and addresses many contemporary questions surrounding the issue of change. I Do Exist describes individual perspectives regarding the development of same sex attractions. Participants describe their journey thus far in living in accord with their personal values and beliefs. Those who tell their experiences on I Do Exist describe changing perspectives on their sexual identity and personal beliefs.”

Change is difficult, painful, and in Spitzer’s words probably rare, but the testimony of an increasing number of persons who are exiting the same-sex life are telling us it is not impossible.

Trivializing the experience of same-sex persons
Dan asks me how the Law causes me huge damage and rather believes that if I am honest, would acknowledge that it “rather provides me with a great deal of comfort and direction, that it provides me with self-discipline and fulfillment.” I would respond by saying that the Law has both effects on me.

When I state that the Law causes me and all people huge damage, I am speaking – in classical Lutheran usage – of the first use of the Law. The Law’s first and primary use by God in my life is to show me that I am a sinner. I am guilty before a holy God. In this way the Law kills me and shows me that I am spiritually dead apart from Christ. It kills my pride. It is in this sense that I say it causes me huge damage. Since we all are sinners and fall short of the glory of God, as sinners we are all equally damaged or killed by the Law. Why does the Law does this work on us? So that I find no hope in myself and am then open to help from outside myself. As Luther says, the Law is my schoolmaster that drives me to Christ. And it is a relentless task master as it whips me mercilessly as it drives me to Christ. If the Law did not do this work in me, I would not see my need for Christ and if I did not see my need for Christ, I would not turn to him for salvation and if I don’t have salvation I am lost. So even in this strange work of the Law it is good, for it points me to the need for a Savior. Heterosexual, homosexual, bi-sexual, Trans gendered, etc. – all of us without exception stand in the same place under the Law – condemned and guilty and in need of a Savior.

The second use of the Law has to do with ordering society. And the third use of the Law (disputed by some) has to do with the living of the Christian life. It is this sense that I believe Dan speaks of, that once one is in Christ, obedience to the Law is the road to remaining free and not falling back into bondage to sin. What Dan says about the Law giving me comfort and direction, etc. would be quite true when understood in this third use of the Law. I speak of this use of the Law on pages 161-162 when I say that after rescuing His people Israel from bondage in Egypt, God gave them the 10 Commandments. Why? Because God wanted his children to remain free. So too we have been rescued by Christ from bondage to Sin and he gives us the Law of love, the moral law so that by living a life of obedience to that law, we might remain free and not return to slavery to sin. Disobedience to God’s Law returns us to bondage and slavery, and eventual death. Obedience to the Law brings us freedom. No wonder Paul could say, “I delight in the law of the Lord!” for it is the law of freedom.

Dan also asserts (as well as other readers) that my entire approach trivializes the experiences of same-sex people. I do not believe that anyone who reads my book carefully can honestly come to that conclusion (and I realize that perhaps Dan has not read the book). As my book indicates time and again, I am well aware of the tremendous pain and hurt and confusion etc. experienced by same-sex persons and I do not underestimate the depth of the pain. I am going to take the liberty to quote sections of my book that speak to the issues Dan raises in his comment:

“These questions bring us face to face again with the very difficult question, ‘Can a homosexual change?’ There are extremes of view on this matter. Even within the church you have some who maintain that asking a homosexual to change is like asking a leopard to change his spots. They can’t do it. It is impossible. The orientation is too innate and fixed for there to be change. They come close to using deterministic language to describe the homosexual orientation. Therefore, it is argued, there are only two options for the homosexual person. Either, he has to accept the innateness of his condition, adjust, live with it and enjoy it, or not enjoy it but take a vow of celibacy and accept celibacy as a way of life.

There is great danger in defining homosexuality as unchangeable and fixed. The minute one does so, it almost precludes the possibility of change. The reality is that we don’t really know how much change is possible for each individual. And when we come to look at how we can help people change, there is increasingly strong evidence that homosexuals can change, that homosexual orientation may not be as fixed as we once might have thought. (page 164)

The objection is raised that the bible’s sex ethic is unfair to homosexuals. God is charged with being cruel in prohibiting homosexual acts to those whose orientation is not of their own choosing. The Christian faith is unthinkable for many in that it allows for no morally legitimate way to express homoerotic identity. How do we respond to these objections and charges?

If in fact God is cruel and unfair to homosexuals, then it must be said that he is equally cruel and unfair to all of us. Beginning with the fall into sin, every person has been born with a predisposition or orientation to sin which is not consciously or freely chosen. The Apostle Paul puts it very strongly when he says we are born slaves to sin (Rom. 6:17). Heterosexuals and homosexuals alike are born with fallen natures, a disposition to sin that we did not choose. God allows us to be born in bondage to sin and yet holds us morally accountable for our actions. It is a bondage
from which we cannot set ourselves free. That is why we need Christ’s redemption, that is, emancipation from slavery. The heterosexual and homosexual are in precisely the same place with regard to God’s prohibiting immoral sexual acts as those whose orientation is not of their own choosing.

There is in the Christian’s life this ongoing [Romans 7:15] battle with sin. It goes on
throughout the duration of the Christian’s life for both heterosexual and homosexual Christians. There is no basis in Scripture for treating the process of growing in Christian maturity for a homosexual Christian differently than for all Christians, as if homosexual Christians are in a totally unique category. All of us are fallen people, living in a fallen world and therefore predisposed to sin in different ways.

Is the Christian faith uncharitable because it does not allow for homoerotic expression? The argument is put forth that whereas heterosexuals who are single (unmarried, widowed, divorcees) are under the same admonitions as homosexuals to honor God with their bodies by remaining chaste, there is at least the hope and possibility of one day enjoying sex within legitimate marriage. But such a hope is not a possibility for the homosexual person. It needs to be acknowledged that this may be true for some homosexually orientated persons whose orientation runs deep within their being. But it must be pointed out that the unmarried woman who has strong sexual desires, whom no one asks to marry, is in the same place. She too is denied sexual expression. Both situations are a part of the abnormality of the fallen world. What is needed in both cases is compassionate understanding which moves the church to help the individual in every way possible.” (Pages 180-181)

Loving God? and Data
Nadine asks a question regarding Jesus’ words, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments?” She wonders if I am implying that GLBTIQA people do not love God if they do not follow my views of God’s commands. First, it needs to be said, that my views are not at issue here. What one is faced with are Jesus’ words about obeying his commandments. If we take Jesus straightforwardly here and in the normal meaning of words, it seems to me Jesus is saying that when we obey his commandments, we are expressing love for him and if we are not obeying his commandments, we are not expressing love for him. In other words, when I am disobedient to Jesus’ commands (which is far too often in my case) in those instances I am not loving Christ. That is why I confessed to Ronald (in the Prologue of my book) individually and why I confess corporately on Sundays with other believers that I do not love God as I ought – and I ask for forgiveness. Yes, as with myself, I do believe that GLBTIQA people who are disobedient to Jesus’ commandments likewise are in those instances not loving Christ. I see no biblical grounds to say something different with regard to GLBTIQA people than all other persons.

Nadine also comments on my use of data: “Rev. Glesne is saying give us better data or he’ll use what he has. BAD DATA IS NOT WORTH USING.” Then I appreciate her next comment – question: “If data is collected to find out about risky behavior to try to address that risky behavior, how can you then use that data to describe the entire group?” I feel as thought I have been heard here. Thank you, Nadine. There is only one purpose for bringing to light the risky nature of same-sex behavior, and it is not to demean people, or to make them feel bad, or to cause them hurt or pain, or to degrade people. I find no delight in directing attention to these behaviors. The purpose for doing so is to point out the health risks of such behavior in the hope that people will make different choices in their behavior. In my mind, that is expressing love for my neighbor, for love desires the good of the neighbor and there is same-sex behavior that is not good for one’s health.

Let me use anal intercourse of gay men as an example. The rectum was not built for intercourse. When that occurs, the rectal mucosa is torn and, in many cases, the sphincter muscles are stretched with can lead to fecal incontinence. It is not a healthy activity because tears in the rectal mucosa result in such a high incidence of disease. Now I suppose one can simply deny that this takes place. To me that is turning a blind eye. I am rather persuaded that this is what can happen. It is a risk of the activity. I would go on to say that it is a risk of the entire group of gay men who engage in such activity. (Yes, yes, heterosexuals who engage in such behavior run the same risk.) But while I can describe this activity as risky for the entire group, do all individuals within that group end up with some disease? I don’t know, but I would guess not – happily. All people who smoke cigarettes engage is risky behavior health-wise. Does that mean they all die of lung cancer? Again, happily not! I think, however, it is legitimate to speak of the risky behavior and activity of an entire group while acknowledging that not all individuals within the group will experience the results of the risky activity.

Regarding bad data is not worth using. I don’t think it is going to move the discussion forward by going over this ground yet one more time. At face value, who could really disagree with that statement? But unfortunately it is not quite that easy in my mind. Is it indeed bad data? How does one know it is in fact bad? How bad is it? If we are back to talking about Cameron and Jay & Young’s studies, I have responded to the concerns. If newer studies have been done on the kinds of behaviors and frequency of those behaviors in the gay subculture (so we are comparing apples with apples), then they can be brought forth and we can all look at these studies and evaluate them. If they are deemed better and more accurate than Cameron and Jay & Young’s, then we have improved statistics that we all welcome and are looking for.

Discredited Sources, Data, and Studies
Tim Fisher strongly criticizes the data put forward by Dr. Stanley Monteith (Paul Cameron) and the Gay Report by Jay & Young as junk science. We have gone over this ground before so I’ll only reiterate some central points. If the criticism is that these two studies are not representative of the overall population, it is a misrepresentation of what I am saying because I am making no such claim. These are studies done in what I refer to as the gay subculture and are not meant to be representative of the gay population as a whole. As such I doubt that the kinds of behavior are being denied (I may be wrong) and the percentages are always open to better data. What I have been missing from Tim and others is the bringing forth of scientific studies of the gay subculture that can then be brought along side the studies by Cameron and Jay & Young to challenge or confirm their reliability. I have always said we are open to better and improved data if further studies so warrant.

To answer Tim’s question of whether I have read all that he has written, the answer is “yes.” To refresh my thoughts, I just went back and quickly read over all the correspondence I have had with Tim (I hope I did not miss any, but that is a possibility). What I find is an impressive litany by Tim and many people of criticism of Cameron’s work and the conclusion that his work has been totally discredited. The line of thinking then follows that because Cameron’s work has been so totally discredited, therefore, the specific study I refer to in my book (the only reference made in the book to any of Cameron’s work – through Monteith) and which is in line with Jay & Young’s work is equally discredited – which may not be the case. What I do not find are studies of the gay subculture being brought to the table. Not to belabor the point, but let’s bring forth other studies of the gay subculture to see if these conclusions are confirmed or need to be modified.

NARTH Reference – Discrediting Science – Sexual Orientation – Holiness Code
Dr. Chapman is surprised that I once again use a Narth reference - and I am assuming he is speaking of referencing the Cummings article on the NARTH website on the Tuesday, December 19 post. I don’t believe you can be saying this but is the article by Dr. Cummings less credible if referenced and read on the NARTH website over against another website where it could be located – like Throckmorton’s for example? You undoubtedly realize the article is not a Narth writing, but a writing by Cummings that is made available for reading on their website. You have been respectful of me and I in turn want to be respectful of you. So please read this in the spirit in which it is written: dumb me for pointing eyes to the NARTH website rather than another one.

Dr. Chapman speaks of evangelical Christianity spending a lot of time discrediting science. My response is that when evangelical Christianity does so it needs to be criticized. There is no reason why evangelical Christianity should be criticizing science. Modern science grew up within a Christian context, it was birthed within that context, for Christianity provided the view of God creating an orderly cause and effect world outside of Himself which gave confidence that if one started an experiment today it could be continued tomorrow. Modern science arose in the West and not in the East for very good reasons. Speaking for myself, then, I am on the side of science. There is an objective world out there and we have the adventure of exploring that world through science. Now naturalistic science is a different issue, that is, science that is done within a view of the uniformity of causes in a closed system. But … that would be a different discussion which we cannot have here.

I am glad to know that you have not read my book (that didn’t quite sound right, but you know what I mean) because if you had done so, you would not have misrepresented what I am saying when you say that I do not believe homosexual orientation exists. I acknowledge the reality of homosexual orientation throughout the entire book. I make it very clear that I do not believe the great majority of same-sex persons choose their sexual orientation. Individuals choose their sexual behavior, but they do not choose their sexual orientation.

Dr. Chapman asks of me two specific questions: First, why is lesbianism never mentioned in the Old Testament? I am not sure. Robert Gagnon has much deeper study than myself and so I’ll share here what he says in this regard. He too is not sure but offers these possibilities (The Bible and Homosexual Practice, pages 144-145): “The primacy of penetration for defining sexual intercourse may partly explain why the Holiness Code leaves out lesbian relationships….It may have been thought of as a transgression of the covenant but one meriting a punishment less severe than death….Possibly lesbianism was unknown to the Israelites and/or Canaanites (it goes unmentioned in other legal materials from the ancient Near East) so there was no need to legislate it out of existence. We hear of male homosexual cult prostitutes in ancient Israel but not female homosexual cult prostitutes. In a society dominated by men and with a high view of chastity it might have been impossible for a sustained lesbian relationship to develop….In the end one cannot know what the precise reason for its exclusion from Lev. 18:22; 20:13 was.”

Second, why are the only two Old Testament references to male-male sex found in the Purity Code? Perhaps the primacy of the Holiness Code in the life of Israel gives us a hint at why it is found here and not elsewhere. God’s people in the land of Canaan were to be distinctively holy with respect to other peoples. The Holiness Code (Leviticus 17-26) was a law code which urged all Israelites to keep the land unpolluted through holy obedience to the commands. It was to govern and regulate the behavior of God’s people. So in addition to the 10 Commandments and specifically Commandment 6 which speaks directly and indirectly to all the issues and behaviors of human sexuality, the Holiness Code reiterates God’s moral code as well as speaking of civil and ceremonial laws of Israel.

Thank you to all the readers that have been with Lars and me on this journey.



Anonymous said...

I appreciate your response to my concerns. My criticism, however, is not about your treatment of homosexual pain. My criticism is that you are not dealing frankly with their options. Dr. Spitzer is quoted as estimating the percentage of homosexuals for whom change is possible at around 3%. I have conducted a very thorough examination of the literature, and, while definitive studies are lacking, I think that that number is probably about right. In short: the frequency of change in underlying sexual orientation verges on statistical insignificance.

The excerpts you quoted from your book, by contrast, convey exactly the opposite: "There is great danger in defining homosexuality as unchangeable and fixed. ...[T]here is increasingly strong evidence that homosexuals can change, that homosexual orientation may not be as fixed as we once might have thought."

And when you do get to the celibacy requirement, your statement is so qualified that it leaves the impression that the requirement is relevant for only a small minority of homosexuals, when the truth is the opposite: "It needs to be acknowledged that [a celibacy requirement] may be true for some homosexually orientated persons whose orientation runs deep within their being." (Emphasis added).

A reality-oriented conservative response to homosexual persons must accept the fact that most homosexuals are incapable of modifying their sexual orientation. I would respect your position a great deal more if you would (1) acknowledge a celibacy requirement for 90%+ of homosexuals, (2) devise a strategy for how the Church should promote homosexual celibate living, and (3) articulate a plan for how the Church might best assist individuals willing to bear that burden.

My question for you with respect to the scientific data is: why is the "gay subculture" (more properly, the sex-crazed subculture within gay male culture) relevant to this discussion? Everyone here believes that this subculture is destructive and should be avoided by any moral and prudent person. But this subculture constitutes only a minority of homosexual persons, so I don't understand why this subculture dominates your treatment of the empirical evidence. Wouldn't it be far more useful and productive to discuss homosexuals as a whole rather than fixate on the sex-crazed minority?

The only argument that I can see as relevant when discussing this subculture is an extrapolation to gay culture at large, which you attempted to do in post #15. You argued that the promiscuity and absence of monogamy in the subculture pervades in the culture as well. Mr. Fisher's statistics show that such an extrapolation is unfounded. The question is then: do you continue to defend the extrapolations you made in post #15? If so, please defend them and respond to Mr. Fisher's statistics. If not, please explain why examining this subculture is a productive enterprise.


Dr. Joe Norquist said...

I want to thank Lars and David for these discussions. I believe they have resulted in some good give-and-take, mutual respect, some new agreements, and sharing of thoughts. We have made some concessions and compromises on both sides, which is often the most effective way of coming to an eventual consensus.
Lars' side has learned not to say sexual orinetatiion is immutable, nor to dsay sexual orientation is genetic. Dave's side has learned that, though not specifically genetic, sexual orientation is apparently determined by several of many influences, including genetic, intrauterine hormones, order of birth, family history, parenting, environment, variouos experiences of childhood. We cannot say, "It's genetic" any more than we can say,"It's from a strong, domineering mother and a weak or absent father." No one can really say they know the causes of sexual oreintation. And this ambigujity is difficult for some persons who want definite absolute answers. Dave has conceded that in "the great majority" of GLBT persons, sexual orientation is not chosen.
Those are areas where we have become closer to each other. But, Pastor Dave, when you say the purpose in "describing unsafe sexual behavior is the hope that people will make different choices in their behavior", it's important to know that this is also the same desire of every public health and Christian GLBT organization; but wise choices for safe sexual expression does not need to be a radical change of one's sexual orientation, if that is possible. Efforts to encourage monogamous, committed relationships, both in heterosexual and homosexual people and to avoid unsafe sexual practices, will accomplish the same purpose. Remember, there is much more STD and HIV transmissiion and unwanted pregnancies among heterosexual than homosexual people throughout the world. The governments of the world and the churches and mission organizations are promoting the ABC programs with fairly good effectiveness. A- Abstiinance, B- Be Faithful, and C- Use Condoms.
Both sides still harbor some disagreements, but we have moved forward. Some of us believe that the Holy Spirit is leading the Church to more acceptance and less bigotry. Others believe that God has spoken and there we must stand.
H>aving said that, now, I'd like to look at several items from the last Post.
1. David, it seems inappropriate to say that the disease and risky behavior is a "gay" problem when you also say that the risk-takers are a minority of GLBT peopleand that the "gay lifestyle" is not about the Lutheran Christian GLBT people we know in the church but a minority of gay people found through inquiries in gay magazines, gay bars, and a gay porno magazine. We wonder why it is told then so graphicically in a book meant to increase understanding in congregations of the Lutheran Church.
2. If "the great majority of same-sex persons do not chose their sexual orientation" and if gays consist of only some 3% of the population (and not 10%, as previously thought), why is there so much fuss, concern, and attention about this entire subject of gays and lesbians wanting the same privilege of marriage anmd ordination as all other people?
3. When you talk about your compassion, it seems so shallow to me; it sounds in my ears something like, "I'm well aware of the tremendous pain, hurt, and confusion you are experiencing because you are too poor to buy food. I do not underestimate your pain, especially when others are free to eat as much as they want. But really, if you cannot afford bread and nourishing food, why, then can you not eat cake?" It is so unkind, uncompassionate to insist that these people, who generally cannot marry, must be celbate all their lives. We used to do that to divorced persons, but not any more.
4. Many gays, including our son, would not want to change even if they could. They are happy just the way they are, except for the negative readings they see in the Christian book store or the messages they may hear in their churches or from radio evangelists. They are not heterosexual. A left-handed person is not a right-handed . A left-handed person wants only to be accepted and accomodated at the left end of the table.
5. I agree with you that it is not "God being charged with being cruel"; it is people who interpret an ancient, archaic, and irrelevant writing as approproiate for gay people in the 21st century desiring a life-long, committed and blessed relationship with the love of their life. The Christian Church could easily "allow for morally, legitimate ways to express homoerotic identity" and that is in a blessed union or same-sex marriage. You are right that there "is no basic Scripture for treating the process of growth in Christian maturity for a homosexual Christian differently than for all Christians". They ARE the same in Christ! Neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, gay nor straight. Your choice of words is beautiful when you say, "What is compassionate understanding which moves the Church to help the individual in every way possible." Amen. That is exactly what Lutherans Concerned offers. Regarding Jesus' commandments, you already know that Jesus said nothing about homosexuality, and you also know that GLBT Christians can and do love Jesus Christ.
Joe Norquist

Tim Fisher said...


>> What I find is an impressive litany by Tim and many people of criticism of Cameron’s work and the conclusion that his work has been totally discredited. The line of thinking then follows that because Cameron’s work has been so totally discredited, therefore, the specific study I refer to in my book (the only reference made in the book to any of Cameron’s work – through Monteith) and which is in line with Jay & Young’s work is equally discredited – which may not be the case.>>

Well, you certainly seem to follow a very, very similar "line of thinking" when you discredit just about all of the "helping professions" (as you yourself told me) and just about all they they have to say about homosexuality.

But the more important point is that YOU are obliged to show how these studies might be seen as credible. Can you tell us how you find the specific studies you are interested in might be considered to be well done? Please, if you would, show us how their sampling methods should be considered credible. I don't think you can, or anyone, do it, but I've been wrong before.

Yes, the litany against Cameron and Jay and Young's work is long and well substantiated. Why do you suppose that is? Even Warren Throckmorton has spoken against Cameron and the sort of "advocacy" research that he does.

>>What I do not find are studies of the gay subculture being brought to the table. >>

First, as we have said before, you really need to drop this "gay subculture" terminology because it is almost impossible to define. You seem to define it far too broadly, to include all gay and lesbian people who have same-sex sex. At other times, you seem to define it way too narrowly, wherein your argument ends up being, essentially, "Studies find promiscuous gay men to be promiscuous." Yes, we have gone over this ground before, but you have studiously avoided actually responding substantively to my and others' comments on this issue.

Second, I've ALREADY brought a number of other studies and comparisons to the table. What are you talking about? I can only conclude that you haven't read them. I posted one of longer posts on this topic on my website, since this blog comment box doesn't work well for long comments. In case you haven't seen it, the link is

Third, I have posted on other substantial issues having nothing to do with the science. For instance, one such post was on "Personhood and Behavior." I've yet to see any response to my work in that regard, either.

Tim Fisher
Minneapolis, MN

Anonymous said...

Unlike Dr. Norquist, I do not doubt that your compassion for homosexual pain is real, that it is not shallow. Dr. Norquist is right, though, that nature of your compassion is--or, at least, seems--problematic.

At the root of your compassion seems to be a conviction that the experience of being a homosexual is inherently, essentially, and necessarily tragic. You seem to regard the proper existence for homosexuals to be one of unending emotional and spiritual agony.

While I am sure that gays' experience in today's culture undoubtedly is frequently attended by significant pain, you will win over few gay people by implying that the price of your compassion is that they must permenantly regard themselves as wretched.

In short, your compassion seems to be indistinguishable from mere pity. Even more problematic, that seems to be the extent of your response to their experience. You seem to be saying to gays: Be celibate and you earn my pity. Have an agonized existence, and you earn the right to have me feel sorry for you.

You do not seem to offer homosexuals even the glimmer of the possibility of earthly happiness--outside of in trying to "change," which in most cases simply serves only to intensify the misery--and then you wonder why your message is so poorly received.

While I do not doubt that your compassion is sincere, I would urge you to reflect on the form it takes. And, since I know the chances of you reversing your theological position here are minimal, I would urge you to reflect on how that compassion might take more productive forms while being true to your own stance.

I have often thought that conservatives would do well to heed the counsel of the handful of celibate gay Christian writers in their midst. While fundamentally both have the same position, the chasm between the two in what they say and how they say it is striking.

The following essay was written by Ron Belgau, a celibate gay Christian writer. I think you might find reading it instructive.


Nadine Anderson said...

I’m glad Rev. Glesne feels heard, but I do not. My point in saying
“If data is collected to find
out about risky behavior to try
to address that risky behavior,
how can you then use that data
to describe the entire group?”
was that the studies of same sex sexual behavior Rev. Glesne cites have frequently been of gay swingers – usually gay men seeking to maximize their sexual opportunities.

Whether one is heterosexual or homosexual if one engages in sexual behavior with a lot of people, especially with strangers, one is engaging in risky behavior. I would suggest that if one is living a monogamous life in a relationship with someone else committed to monogamy, one’s sexual behavior is no more risky with a same sex partner than with an other sex partner. To speak of studies of gay swingers, then attribute the risk of that lifestyle to all who have a same sex partner is as reasonable as finding the local red light district, asking the prostitutes one finds about their behavior, then attributing such behavior and risks to all heterosexual people.

Rev. Glesne, however, felt he had been heard with my reference to risky behavior because he took my statement on risky behavior to apply to any sexual behavior with a same sex other. That was not my meaning.

Nadine Anderson

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is just too difficult for Dr. Glesne to put a face on all of this and that is why he chooses to not respond to my posts or to Lars' writing of my story and family history. It is difficult to look down from that chaste and holy podium and acknowledge that the words that you use, Dr. Glesne, have a direct impact on hurting gays and families of gays in the Lutheran church.

I'm glad you had a good holiday and new years. Cheryl and I had friends over for Christmas Eve dinner and then spent Christmas Day on our own. Her mother came to visit for Thanksgiving and we didn't want to travel for Christmas, as we are fostering 5 kittens right now. I received no Christmas card from my family. No phone call. No acknowledgement of my existence.

Cheryl sings in a group of 10 women and they were invited to sing at the local MCC church last Sunday (Lars - you know the one!). I rarely attend the MCC church, but as I sat there, I was thinking about this entire conversation and was really struck by the people that were in church. Dr. Glesne, I have challenged you before to think about what it would be like to have a gay son or daughter. I don't know how seriously you took that, as your response was "I would sit my kid down and tell them they were wrong." So even though I think that you did not REALLY think about what your relationship with your child would be, I am going to challenge you again. Attend a service at an MCC church for 1 month. Not just 1 week. I think it is important that you see the same people attending church week after week. People who love God, love Jesus, are deeply spiritual, and have been rejected by their families (in some cases) and by their churches. I don't know whether you are currently pastoring a church and this is not possible. If it is not, please attend a bible study or some other MCC event. I really think you need to lay your eyes and ears on Christian gays. Perhaps then you can begin to see where the words you use can cause so much hurt.

--Becky Penar

Anonymous said...

One last thing that I thought needed to be discussed: you are clear that the definition of the word "ex-gay" does not necessarily indicate even a claimed change in sexual orientation, right? For clarification, I am not claiming that all ex-gays are liars or anything of the kind. The term "ex-gay" as they use it, however, means only that a person (1) no longer pursues romantic relationships with persons of the same sex, and (2) no longer uses the word "gay" to describe themselves. It does not necessarily indicate even a claimed change in sexual orientation. (Of course, many of these groups deny the existence of sexual orientation itself, which further complicates things. An unchanged homosexual orientation is frequently referred to as "lingering same-sex attractions" or other similar terminology.)

There is an important distinction between "moving away from the homosexual life" and actually experiencing a change in sexual orientation. The majority of ex-gays would be described, using the common definition for the word 'gay', as "gay and celibate" or "gay and in a heterosexual marriage."

I am opposed generally to the use of terminology in this manner, mostly because it is so confusing. How many people even understand the difference between the terms "homosexually oriented man" and "gay man" (a distinction that is very important to conservative thought about homosexuality)? People assume things from these words that are not necessarily true. The words describing Dr. Throckmorton's video, for example, are very carefully chosen--careful choices that are undoubtedly lost on most people: "Participants describe their journey thus far in living in accord with their personal values and beliefs. Those who tell their experiences...describe changing perspectives on their sexual identity and personal beliefs." There is nothing in this to indicate even a claim that any of these people have experience a change in sexual orientation.

I raise this because this raises a number of important moral issues. Chiefly among them that I would like to see addressed: is a homosexual orientation a moral obstacle to heterosexual marriage? That is to say, if a homosexually oriented man could make a heterosexual marriage "work" does he nevertheless have a moral obligation not to marry? I believe that he does. Even assuming that deception is not involved, a woman deserves to have in a marriage what a homosexually oriented man cannot give her, and vice-versa. If you are going to endorse the ex-gay route, you need to address these issues, because the majority of ex-gay marriages are actually going to be mixed orientation marriages.


Dr Chapman said...

I greatly appreciate the time you took to address the concerns of the readers. If nothing else, it allows us to know that you are aware of these concerns and do not brush them off lightly.

Other readers have already addressed many of my concerns. Thus, I will touch on a few in passing, just to lend my support to their comments.

Regarding Spitzer and ex-gay reparative therapy: "Exiting the same-sex life" is largely a meaningless statement. Anytime I desire I can choose to stop eating meat and become a vegetarian. Many of my family members have done so. Changing a lifestyle is not all that difficult. However, ex-gay groups essentially promise more than that by keeping their terms and intent vague. For the people who "exit the same-sex life", are their desires still homosexually oriented? If so, and I believe in over 99% of the cases they are, what exactly changed? They are still homosexual. It seems to me that you and the ex-gay people only care about sex. There is no concern for the emotional well-being of a person. There is no concern what a lack of intimacy does to a person. I have never been in a serious relationship. The emotional toll of that has been very noticeable. I am also aware of the studies that indicate I will have a shorter life-span on average than those in a relationship. The ex-gay group I belonged to promised change. It did not deliver. I can tell African-Americans they do not have to be black. After all, Michael Jackson changed, so I have proof. But why should they have to change? What exactly is wrong with their natural state of being? You say it is because you love the homosexual, but then you use data that is outlandish and discredited to portray homosexuals in a negative light. You say change is possible, and apparently necessary - otherwise why would you address it - but also admit that the vast majority will be unable to change. Have you ever stopped to think of what that does to those who cannot change?

Your supposed love for homosexuals is highlighted in the following statement: "There is only one purpose for bringing to light the risky nature of same-sex behavior..." But heterosexuals engage in the same behavior. In fact, in a study of over 100,000 Americans published by the CDC, 33-40% of heterosexuals 18-44 have engaged in anal sex. Should I then declare opposite-sex behavior risky and encourage everyone to stop having intimate relationships? I'm simply loving them by doing so. Or, is that a faulty conclusion drawn from the data?

Please, Dave, stop with your references to the gay subculture, homosexual lifestyle, etc. There is no single gay subculture, no single homosexual lifestyle, etc. Your use of them, especially when combined with dishonest statistics, confuses people and brings harm to homosexuals. If you love us, you will stop using these terms. You will stop justifying the use of those terms by saying in private that the statistics reference only a small percentage of gay men. I wonder, if I consistently used data from female prostitutes, but said it represented an aspect of "female subculture", do you think people would start looking at all females differently? Do you think violence against them might increase? Even if I were careful in passing to mention that I collected data solely from prostitutes, if the rest of my comments discussed the "female subculture", a general term, would I then be able to claim I was acting above reproach? Could I claim I was acting out of love for all females by bringing public attention to their actions (oh, sorry, the actions of a very small percent of females, but I'll leave that qualifier out most of the time)? Is that love? Is that honest? Is that respectable behavior on my part?

Regarding Cameron: Just because you do not have more recent data does not justify you using discredited data. Here is how your actions come across: "while Cameron's other studies have been shown unethical, it does not mean this one is also. Therefore I will use it because I want data to show how unhealthy homosexuals are in their sexual behavior. I know the data is probably wrong, but I will use it anyway because I believe homosexuals are unhealthy people who are inherently immoral." You appear to use the data solely because of your bias. And then you say you love homosexuals?

Finally, regarding the Cummings article on the NARTH website, here is my primary objection: Cummings criticizes the APA for supporting same-sex marriage and for trying to declare reparative therapy unethical by claiming they use flimsy evidence for the former, and do the latter solely out of political correctness. Neither statement is true. There is abundant evidence that same-sex marriage causes no harm - evidence from psychology, sociology, and anthropology, which documents same-sex marriages have existed throughout known history in cultures throughout the world with no ill effects. Regarding the latter, the reason they vote on considering it unethical is because it does not work, and this has been demonstrated time and again. One is born with their sexual orientation, although the APA believes post-natal factors are also responsible, although they have not been able to conclusively identify any. Attempts to change one's orientation lead to considerable harm for the majority who try. I participated in ex-gay therapy and I know first hand the damage it causes. Yet, some prefer the testimony of the very few individuals who "exit the same-sex lifestyle" to the vast majority who do not and are scarred by reparative therapy. The APA focuses on the majority. Cummings misrepresents the APA, attempting to discredit the organization by attacking the motivations of the scientists. It does not surprise me that NARTH would include this on their website - they are not concerned with the scientific method nor with fairly representing opposing views. This is an example of a point I made previously regarding the evangelical assault on science. When they cannot discredit the science, they attack the motivations of the scientists. But when it comes to Cameron, they do the opposite - the science was discredited, but they use it anyway because it supports their bias.

Thank you for listening.