Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Why sexual orientation will ultimately be universally accepted...

“A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” -- Max Planck, Nobel Prize winning Physicist

9 Comments:

Blogger TheYellowDart said...

So what are you saying? What is it that people are born with physically, mentally or emotionally that make them different than two people of opposite genders coming together and making the next generation of humans? Are you saying that there is some other way that people can be born? Seriously asking.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Danny Coleman said...

Hi YellowDart,

First off, sorry for a rather ambiguous post. What I was trying to get at is that younger generations seem more and more accepting of the view that homosexuality is an orientation from birth rather than a chosen behavior. Gay rights, gay marriage, etc. just doesn't seem to be that big of a deal for them. As older generations die off, so will resistance to full acceptance and inclusion of LGBT people. This acceptance will, I believe, gradually spread to developing nations as well. It seems inevitable to me and I think it is a good thing.

Anyway, that's what I was trying to evoke by juxtaposing the Max Planck quote with the picture of the baby.

12:27 PM  
Blogger TheYellowDart said...

Ok, thanks for the clarification.

So what if there is no such thing as an orientation let alone an orientation you are given at birth?

I honestly want to know what a follower of Jesus thinks about these things as I follow Jesus. The way we address this issue in the personal is important. This affects discipleship and community. I am not talking about the political/civil points here (marriage, survival rights, taxes, child custody, etc). I am talking about the day to day personal interactions between brothers and sisters in Christ.

As far as the political stuff goes, I strongly believe and have said for years that the govt should have nothing at all to do with "marriage". All the problems related to this issue really have a lot of heat associated with them. And for good reason; there is a lot of money at stake, but there need not be. If explicit contracts were the norm rather then the implicit contract of "marriage" between man-woman-and-state, all of the hub-bub of this as a political football would go away. The state has their hands in this, so there are money implications - taxes, inheritance, etc. And that is a completely legitimate beef. But it is a problem for all "single" people not just "gay" people.

If my wife dies and my brother and best friend move in and help me raise my three children (ala the TV show Full House), I should be able to draw up a contract between us relating to financial arrangement of the household that the govt honors. As it stands now the man and woman (in most states) are at the mercy of the state which can change the contract at will without notice or input from the other two parties who are a party to it. The govt passes a law about taxes or inheritance etc. and the man or woman disagree with it , they have to get "divorced" to not be affected by the law (welfare law immediately comes to mind). Two men or three women or a guy and four ladies should be able to arrange their civil affairs however they want regardless of what they do in the bedroom (which is really none of the govt's business).

But all that said, this issue still affects the church. It should not really be an issue at all in politics, but it is exactly a problem for us as believers. The core functions of the church are worship, discipleship, community, and mission. I think the church has been stuck on worship as the organizing function and the others revolving around it. I believe that mission should be the organizing function, but that is a whole other topic. Still if two guys are "having sex" with each other that is an issue for the church. If it is an innate phenomenon, then how do we deal with it? If it is not an innate phenomenon but learned behavior, how do we deal with it? Can we know whether it is or isn't? Does it matter if it is innate or not? Should we deal with it the same way in both cases? Sorry to have so many questions; I just really want to know people's heart on this who honestly love Jesus as you clearly do from your writings.

8:32 AM  
Blogger Danny Coleman said...

Hi YellowDart, I always appreciate your insightful comments! I pretty much agree with everything you've stated here, for example in regards to the government's involvement in marriage. It is a civil, contractual matter. I also agree with your thoughts about the core functions of the church and that the mission ought to be the organizing function (once there is agreement on what the mission is!).

Regarding whether homosexual orientation is an innate phenomenon vs. a learned behavior, I think the evidence strongly points to the former (though I don't claim to be an expert on the subject). Either way though, our responsibility is the same: to love people. If, and to what degree, it is sin--the Holy Spirit is perfectly equipped and sanctioned to deal with each individual on. Are two guys having sex with each other an issue for the church? Any more so than a man and woman having sex with each other? To what degree is the church called to manage and police behaviors, particularly very personal behaviors that are occuring within the bounds of a mutual, committed, non-destructive and non-exploitative relationship?

I recommend 3 documents that explore this topic in a much better way than I could ever hope to.

The first is an essay by Dr. Walter Wink (author of 'The Powers That Be') which examines Biblical sexual mores, including homosexuality:
http://www.soulforce.org/article.php?keyword_title=homosexuality-bible-walter-wink&action=print

The second, by Kathy Baldock, offers 10 thought-provoking insights on the dialogue regarding GLBT Christians: http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/2011/06/07/dear-church-ten-insights-on-the-glbt-christian-dialogue/

The last, by Dr. Sylvia Keesmaat, looks at how we might apply the same methodology used by the disciples at the "Jerusalem Council" in Acts 10-15 regarding Gentile Christians to the question of GLBT Christians: http://empireremixed.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/welcoming-the-gentiles.pdf

These three articles pretty much encapsulate my view on the topic.

5:39 PM  
Blogger TheYellowDart said...

"our responsibility is the same: to love people"

Amen to that!

"If, and to what degree, it is sin--the Holy Spirit is perfectly equipped and sanctioned to deal with each individual on"

Yes, but we are also called to disciple each other in love.

"Are two guys having sex with each other an issue for the church?"

Yes! (and by "church" I mean NOT an institution but rather nearby fellow followers)

"Any more so than a man and woman having sex with each other?"

Again Yes!

"To what degree is the church called to manage and police behaviors, particularly very personal behaviors that are occurring?"

The universal church (especially the institutional expression) has done a horrible job of being judgmental, nosy, busybodies from outside of relationship, so I definitely get the sensitivity to such shenanigans. But real discipleship between well-related fellow followers can and should occur. My close brother who is involved in destructive behavior of any kind should be able to receive some counseling from me and vice-versa if we are in the discipling relationship with each other (and every follower should be in those kinds of relationships - this is a fundamental function of the church).

Too often the institutional church preaches to an audience about "bad" behavior. This is NOT discipleship. The is emotionally and spiritually unhealthy, but unfortunately this is what passes for discipleship in many local expressions of the church. This is lazy and destructive.

Back to the original point though...

I have seen homosexual behavior destroy two marriages and a total of four children's lives in the church. Unrelatedly, I have seen abused children grow up to engage in homosexual behavior. I have known a lot of other people who are are involved homosexual behavior while not home wreckers or abused (that I know of) lead lives of pain and serial relationships.

I am open to the possibility that people can be born this "way", but in my own experience, I have never seen a non-destructive and/or non-abused person involved in this behavior. This is a behavior that does not produce fruit. This behavior is not common anywhere in nature. This is not evolutionarily interesting behavior.

I am very interested to learn more from the references you provided, and I hope some or all of these concerns are addressed.

Bottomline: My question isn't about to love or not to love. I truly love people as people and am totally unconcerned with their behavior especially as they exist in general in the community. My questions are specifically about the believer who I am relationship with in close community. We ARE concerned about behavior. Would we let a brother of the hook entirely if he went around stealing cars in the community? Of course not! We would address it in a loving thoughtful private way. Same goes for a brother/sister sleeping around all over town. Same goes for all destructive behavior (and I have never seen someone involved in homosexual behavior that wasn't destructive even if carried on by two people voluntarily). Under the law, the concern is the physical (life, liberty, and property). But in the church, the concern is more (emotional, intellectual, spiritual). Voluntary behavior between two people has ramifications in these areas that does not concern the law but does concern the church. I'm talking about followers of Christ involved in this behavior not the general public.

Sorry this is getting long..

Thank you for including the reference. I am eager to learn more.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Danny Coleman said...

Hi YellowDart,

Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I apologize for taking so long to respond. I've been on vacation, etc., etc. I probably can't add much more to the discussion beyond the links that I previously provided, but I did want to focus in on one particular part of your last reply. You wrote:

"I have seen homosexual behavior destroy two marriages and a total of four children's lives in the church. Unrelatedly, I have seen abused children grow up to engage in homosexual behavior. I have known a lot of other people who are are involved homosexual behavior while not home wreckers or abused (that I know of) lead lives of pain and serial relationships.

I am open to the possibility that people can be born this "way", but in my own experience, I have never seen a non-destructive and/or non-abused person involved in this behavior. This is a behavior that does not produce fruit. This behavior is not common anywhere in nature. This is not evolutionarily interesting behavior."

Take a moment and imagine with me an alternate world. In this world, homosexuality has not been considered a sin, or a mental disorder, or a perversion. People who have a homosexual orientation--for whatever reason--have always been free to openly express it and to enter into relationships, including marriage, that mirror heterosexual relationships. Now, let's look at the acquantances you mentioned above. In this alternate world, would we have seen the same level of destruction and pain? Perhaps, if they had been socially free to be themselves, the homosexual persons mentioned above would never have married opposite sex partners. Is it possible that the root reason for the destroyed marriages you mentioned is not homosexuality *in and of itself* but rather is that homosexual people tried desperately to live a heterosexual lifestyle and ultimately failed?

Mel White's biography "Strangers at the Gate" really illuminates the agonizing situation that so many gay people of previous generations found themselves in. He describes the confusion and self-loathing that set in as he, in his prepubescent years, began to be aware that he was attracted to boys instead of girls--and his attempts across multiple decades to deny, fix or hide that orientation. It is a sad and harrowing tale. He too married a woman--who he truly loved as a close friend--in hopes that he might evolve into heterosexuality. He even helped to promote staunchly anti-gay people and causes--a common pattern among self-hating homosexuals.

(to be cont'd)

5:45 PM  
Blogger Danny Coleman said...

(cont'd)

When people are pushed into margins and dark corners, they engage in marginal and dark activities. Could it be that much of the "gay lifestyle" which we Christians find so disturbing (and often rightly so) is, in actuality, a consequence of how we Christians--and "Christian" society as a whole--have treated people who are gay? Since they were not allowed to be full participants in the culture at large, they created their own "counter-culture" as a reaction. Counter-cultures often act out against the dominant culture that spawned them. Think about the "hippie" culture of the 70's with its drug use and promiscuity. One of my favorite slogans of the pro-Gay Marriage movement is "Help make gay people boring."

I too have known many gay people who are deeply wounded. The question is, are they homosexual because of their wounding or are they wounded because of their homosexuality?

As far as homosexual behavior not being common anywhere in nature, you are mistaken on that one. In actuality, homosexual behavior has been observed and recorded in hundreds of species, including dolphins and apes. This includes species who "mate for life". There are gradations of various physiological traits in any species, with the majority possessing the most common traits the middle of the bell curve. Why would sexual orientation not be one of those traits? A common hypothesis is that as a population grows and begins to stress its habitat, the percentage of homosexuals within that population increases, which then slows procreation. If true, this means that homosexual orientation actually *does* serve an evolutionary purpose of sorts--it acts as a governing mechanism.

5:46 PM  
Blogger TheYellowDart said...

"Could it be that much of the "gay lifestyle" which we Christians find so disturbing (and often rightly so) is, in actuality, a consequence of how we Christians--and "Christian" society as a whole--have treated people who are gay?" ...

Maybe. I think the institutional church has fouled up a lot of people. But this is not unique to our culture or religious background. This behavior is not normalized in even non-theist traditions such as Buddhism.

I made the point about it not being found in other species as a procreating behavior. I realize that same-gender stimulation occurs widely. The point being - is it PRODUCTIVE? Is it ever fruitful? (in both the productive sense and the Christian way we mean that)

Maybe in an alternate universe where that behavior has always been completed accepted socially, it could have a productive expression (of course not in any physical sense, but at least in other ways).

Again, I just want to make sure you understand my heart. This is truly a question of how to counsel fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Our face to the non-believing community we are set in should always be one of sacrificial, unconditional love. Behavior should never be an issue to stop us from loving people. But when a person we have personal relationship with in our faith community comes with a question about this topic, how do we counsel? Or even more pressing, how do we answer one evolved in this behavior asking the question? These are difficult situations that people in the church face. I reject the fundamentalist answer - "God hates fags" line. This is grotesque and surely makes the spirit of Christ within me cringe. And I also reject the progressive answer of complete normalization of this behavior in our faith community especially as it relates to Mary has two mommys, and Danny has two dads. This is surely not what we see as God's express will in Scripture, in Christ's teaching, or a traditional history to support it. I am open to Jesus' will now in this time in my community. I believe in ongoing revelation. I hope to hear from him soon :)

6:35 AM  
Blogger Danny Coleman said...

Hi YellowDart,

I really appreciate the approach you're taking on this! It is a difficult topic to wrestle with--especially when we want to be both faithful to scripture *and* show love, compassion and mercy. It took me several years of wrestling to come to the place that I have. You may come to a different place, but I think your gentle heart as a follower of Jesus is evident in the way that you are sorting through this so carefully.

I ask for God's continued blessing upon you and may we *both* have our eyes opened more to see what He is doing; have our ears opened to hear His voice; have our hearts opened to receive Him and those He sends our way. May He make us more and more aware of His presence and will in our lives, day-by-day, moment-by-moment!

6:55 AM  

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