A Gay Man’s Scriptural Defense of Homosexuality

See http://www.jeramyt.org/gay.html for a gay man’s scriptural defense of homosexuality.

Discussion

How different is the approach of this author from those condemning homosexuality?

How convincing is it?

Do both condemnation and justification fall short of convincing?

A Gay Man’s Scriptural Defense of Homosexuality

Hate the Sin, but Love the Sinner Position

See http://www.evangelsociety.org/francisco/gaychange.html for the Sinful, but Love the Sinner position.

Discuss

How would you summarize the “hate the sin but love the sinner” position?

What fears does it express?  How does it address those fears?

What about the scriptures it cites?  Is that appropriate use?

What points do you believe are valid?

What are your concerns about this position?

What is the practical impact of our judgment of the person we profess to love?

On us?

On them?

On our relationship with them?

On their relationship with the community?

Deepak Chopra has written in his book, The Third Jesus, “. . . [H]is teachings have been hijacked by people who hate in the name of love.” p. 7.  How does that apply or not to this position of hate the sin but love the sinner?

Hate the Sin, but Love the Sinner Position

Dr. Dobson’s Position on Homosexuality

Dr. James Dobson had been for some time the identity of Focus on the Family, and a favorite Christian “authority” on family matters, including sexuality. He has left Focus on the Family to form Family Talk, similarly stamped with his identity.  The message is much the same.

It is sometimes difficult to determine how Dr. Dobson’s scriptural principles look in practice.  Therefore, I have selected “Letter to Dr. Dobson from a Gay Man” posted on his new site at http://drjamesdobson.org/Solid-Answers/Answers?a=a361e250-c414-4bd7-bdb4-42ffc2bccacc  to give Dr. Dobson’s ideas some context. Further, I will set out.txt in this blog so that its substance is not dependent on future availability of that site.

Letter to Dr. Dobson from a Gay Man

I am gay, and I am writing on behalf of many thousands of gay people in this country who have grown to hate the church because of organizations like yours. First, however, I would like to give you a quick background on myself.

I grew up in the home of a minister. It was a very happy, nondysfunctional environment. I grew up as a Bible-believing Christian, and I always tried to put Christ first in my life and live by His commandments. Most of my childhood was spent where I knew of no other gay people.

I loved the Lord, the church, and my family–in that order. I left home and attended college, where I spent hundreds of hours studying the Bible, theology, and the history of the church. My parents were proud and thought that everything had turned out perfectly when I graduated. That’s when I told them I was gay. They were devastated!

You see, from day one of puberty, I was attracted to the same sex. I never changed. Of course, I tried to change because I thought I was the only one in the world like this, and my father preached against it. So from the sixth grade to my junior year in college, I tried everything I could to go straight–counselors, prayer vigils, reading countless books on the evils of homosexuality, and attending Homosexuals Anonymous; nothing worked. The more I tried to change, the more it seemed just natural for me to be gay.

I decided to come out of the closet. The first person I met in a gay club was the choir director’s son at my parents’ church! He introduced me to many other gays–students in seminary, Sunday school teachers, church pianists, ushers, and many preachers’ sons. There were gay people all throughout the church, but no one really knew because, like me, they were silently living their lives far from the minority of loud activists that you see on the evening news.

In the next few months, I took a course at college in Pauline Epistles, and one of our textbooks had a lengthy chapter regarding what the Bible says and does not say about homosexuals. To oversimplify a complex argument, it concluded that the Bible did not take a definite position on what we know today as committed gay relationships. I am sure you have read some of the discussions, and they are quite sophisticated. Nothing to be dismissed lightly, I’m sure you’ll agree– especially when people’s lives are at stake.

I write this letter on behalf of my many friends who come from a similar background but hate the church because of organizations like yours. Sprinkled throughout all your programs are derogatory and demeaning references to gay people. You support legislation to take away our rights and spread misleading, inaccurate information. If you are really concerned about winning people to Christ, then look to the gay community. They are ripe for harvest. They would be attentive to a voice that preaches hope, forgiveness, acceptance, and sexual morals–as long as you understand we are not perverted in our feelings of love for one another.

Dr. Dobson, I remember watching your first videotape series in my dad’s church, and I felt so strong for your message. I still do– basically. My partner and I, as well as thousands of other gay people, just wish you would be more inclusive.

Dr. Dobson’s Reply

Dear (Name),

More than anything else, I appreciate the respectful and conciliatory attitude you conveyed in broaching an extremely emotional and controversial subject with me. You have made your case sensitively and intelligently. Thank you for that. I honestly believe that if more of us would adopt your approach, we might begin to make some headway in the business of understanding one another!

In response, I want to begin by telling you how strongly I feel about the mandate we have as Christians to love and care for people from all walks of life. Even those with whom we disagree. Even those involved in lifestyles we believe to be immoral. My first reaction to your honest sharing of yourself is a sense of acceptance for you as an individual. I mean that sincerely.

Regardless of what the media may say, Family Talk has no interest in promoting hatred toward homosexuals or any other group of our fellow human beings. We have not supported, and will never support, legislation aimed at depriving them of their basic constitutional rights–rights they share with every citizen. On the contrary, we want to reach out to gay and lesbian people whenever and wherever we can. If I had the time, I could describe for you many situations in which we’ve done exactly that. It’s a commandment we’ve received from the Lord Jesus.

Beyond that, I have to acknowledge that you and I have a very different understanding of Scripture. It is my firm conviction that sex outside of marriage (whether homosexual or heterosexual) is not permitted by those who call themselves “believers.”

Yes, I’m aware that some biblical scholars have conducted elaborate studies to show that Scripture takes no decisive position on the issue. This is neither new nor surprising. Biblical studies have been done to support a wide variety of unbiblical ideas!

But from our perspective, the truth remains clear. You’ve obviously been over that ground, and I will not use this reply to belabor the point.

Let me simply say that the same Scriptures that condemn homosexuality and premarital heterosexuality also tell us to accept those who are in violation of these ordinances. Jesus was more compassionate toward the woman caught in the very act of intercourse–a capital offense in those days–than He was toward the hypocrites in the church. This is our model and our mandate.

Whereas we have never attempted to hurt or ridicule the individual homosexual or lesbian, I do find myself in sharp disagreement with the more radical elements of the movement. The effort to redefine the family, qualify for adoption, promote the homosexual lifestyle in the schools, etc., are objectives with which I disagree. And I will oppose them when the issues are raised. Does that make me a hatemonger? I think not.

Concerning the passage of Amendment 2 here in Colorado (which would have prohibited ordinances and legislation creating “special rights” for homosexuals, equating them with those needing civil rights protection), let me explain why we strongly favored that legislation. To understand our position, you must know that many Christians also feel they have been victimized by society’s hostility to traditional religious views.

A dear friend of mine, Bob Vernon, former assistant chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, was driven from office because of his faith. No charges were ever brought against him. The pressure was political, resulting solely from his fundamental beliefs. He is but one of thousands of people being discriminated against today because of their Christian beliefs.

How would you and your homosexual companions feel if we, as Christians, began lobbying for special, protected legal status? How would you react if we asserted that we should be given a job and shielded from termination just because we are Christians? I can predict that you would fight such ordinances tooth and nail. Why?

Because when one person wins in these kinds of struggles, someone else (the nonbeliever) loses. Thus, we must be very careful before creating new “minorities” based on behavior or beliefs–as opposed to those who have been discriminated against historically based on their race.

That raises the question: Have homosexuals faced this kind of uphill battle? Perhaps in the past, but there is no evidence of which I’m aware that they are disadvantaged now. The average homosexual earns $55,000 per year, compared with $32,000 for heterosexuals.1

Gays also have a much higher percentage of college degrees than the straight population.2 And when it comes to political clout, how can they claim to be shortchanged? Dozens of objectives of the gay and lesbian community are being achieved today.

Look at the issue of funding for AIDS research and treatment. I had a heart attack several years ago, and I am very concerned about support for research on coronary artery disease. After all, heart attacks and strokes kill more people than AIDS, cancer, TB, and several other diseases combined. But as you may know, the federal government spent thirty-nine times as much on AIDS last year as it did on heart disease.3 Why? Because of the clout of homosexuals who turned their powerful guns on Congress and the White House.

My point is not to decry money being spent on the horrible AIDS epidemic. I’m simply making the point that the homosexual community is hardly an oppressed, powerless minority seeking protection under the law. You have Hollywood, the press, the media, the universities, the publishers, the professionals (in the Ameri- can Bar Association, American Medical Association, etc.), and the judiciary enforcing your “politically correct” agenda.

Conservative Christians, by contrast, are stranded pretty much on their own. Given this undergirding, I hope you can see that our opposition to the gay and lesbian tidal wave is not an expression of hate but one of social justice and common sense.

One more thought about expressions of hatred. The question is: Who is endeavoring to hurt whom? Have we brought caskets to your front door? Have we thrown bricks through your windows? Have we left bloody animal parts on your property? Have we spread untrue rumors about your activities and motives? Have we spray-painted your buildings or made bomb threats at your offices?

No, but all of these hostilities have been inflicted on us by the homosexual community and its supporters in Colorado Springs. Nevertheless, we have not returned evil for evil, nor do we intend to do so. Thus, the charge that we are hateful is simply not rooted in fact.

I hope this clarifies my position for you. Again, I’m grateful that you cared enough to write, and I want you to know that we’re here for you if you need us. God bless you.

How would you summarize Dr. Dobson’s position on homosexuality ?

What fears does it express?  How does it address those fears?

How would you summarize the purpose of the letter of this gay man to Dr. Dobson?

Does the writer have a valid point  about being excluded?

Do you know of any other group of Christians in a similar situation?

What points of Dobson do you believe are valid?

What are your concerns about his position?

Do you think that legal recognition of the union of two gays or lesbians threatens the foundations of the family?  Why or why not?

What do you think of Dr. Dobson’s claim that homosexuals are not the victims of hate associated with him, but rather he and his group are the victims of homosexual radicalism.

Does it make a difference that “the religious right” has become increasingly aligned to the political right?

In what ways is the religio-political right comparable to the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, straining at nats and become a stumbling block?  In what ways are they distinguishable?

Is there any significance to the inclusion of the words, ” solid – answers “in the name of Dr. Dobson site?

Does uncertainty have its place in genuine faith?

ee http://drjamesdobson.org/Solid-Answers/Answers?a=99e0b966-9b01-4615-99d6-b9d0374525cefor several more of Dr. James Dobson’s articles concerning homosexuality.

Dr. Dobson’s Position on Homosexuality

A Fundamentalist Protestant’s Condemnation of Homosexual Christians

See http://www.ovrlnd.com/FalseDoctrine/Gay_Christians.html for a fundamentalist Response to the ‘Gay Christian’ Movement.

Scripture

John 8:3 –  Woman Caught in Adultery

Matthew 18:21-22 – Forgive

 Discuss

We often hear Christians soften the message of “neither do I condemn you” by emphasis on the last parting statement, “Go and sin no more.”  If that person, in our judgement, does sin again, do we then have the right to condemn the person?  To punish?  What is the meaning of forgiving 70 X 7?

Who is really affected by the act?  Whose job is it to forgive?  What is the significance of forgiving?  For the forgiver?  For the forgiven?

What then is the significance of judging what is sinful if we are not to judge others?  Does it mean that we must judge what is right action for us, but not judge for others?

A Fundamentalist Protestant’s Condemnation of Homosexual Christians

Catholic Judgment on Homosexuality

See http://www.catholic.com/library/Homosexuality.asp

Its publication is officially authorized by the Catholic Church as being consistent with official Church doctrine:

NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials
presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors.
Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004

IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827
permission to publish this work is hereby granted.
+Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004

Scripture References

Micah 6:8 Justice and Mercy

What does it mean in the context of social and religious relations with GLBT people to act justly? To love mercy?  To walk humbly with your God?

How does one “walk humble” among those of the GLBT community?

What does mercy for people of that community look like?

Mark 12 The Greatest Commandment

Discuss

What does it mean to love another as yourself? Can one love another without showing compassion for that person?

How does judging another’s actions impact our ability to love and to be compassionate with that person?

Further Discussion

What is divine law?  Natural law?  How are they different?  How are they related, if at all?

The official Catholic position acknowledges legitimate desires in some people to homosexual acts, but declares them to be, like all other sinful desires, something that one can, and must, choose to reject.

Is homosexuality really a matter of choice, as other ordinary temptations present?

What is the significance of framing homosexuality as a temptation that can be overcome?

Does this representation legitimately address the “temptations” of the hermaphrodite?  Of those with Klinefelter’s syndrome (XXY, XXXY). or Turner’s syndrome (one X and no Y chromosome)?

Catholic Judgment on Homosexuality

This Marvelous Creation

Genesis 1:27, 31a

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. 

And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. . . .

 Psalm 8 – How excellent is thy name

 1                    O Jehovah, our Lord, How excellent is thy name in all the earth, Who hast set thy glory upon the heavens!

2                    Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou established strength, Because of thine adversaries, That thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. 

3                    When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, The moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 

4                    What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him?

5                    For thou hast made him but little lower than God, And crownest him with glory and honor.

6                    Thou makest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet:

7                    All sheep and oxen, Yea, and the beasts of the field,

8                    The birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, Whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

9                    O Jehovah, our Lord, How excellent is thy name in all the earth!

See, also 1 Corinthians 12 – We are one body.

Genetic mixes of male and female

Hermaphrodite — — XX/XY

Klinefelter’s syndrome — A condition in which a genetic male actually has one or more extra X chromosomes (XXY, XXXY). The individual appears anatomically male but would not be male according to XY=boy formula. Neither could such a person impregnate a female, being sterile.

Turner’s syndrome — Condition in which an individual has one X and no Y chromosome, thus they are neither an XY male nor an XX female. In addition, the gonads degenerate before birth. In most respects the person will be anatomically female, however without hormone treatment there will be no secondary sexual characteristics.

DISCUSS

What does the Genesis 1:27 statement that man is “created in God’s image” mean to you?

What does it mean in Psalm 8:5 that man was made “but little lower than God”?

If a child is born a hermaphrodite or gender-ambiguous, but the one gender can be enhanced to the minimization or elimination of the other, should it be?  Who should make that decision?  When?

Whose responsibility is it to determine whether corrective measures should be taken for an infant suffering the results of such mixed or ambiguous genetic defects?  When?

What about the hermaphrodite who is not physically altered and who chooses to express and celebrate both sexual functions of his/her body?

What about the person who is scarred in his or her sexual identity by circumstances, such as infant sexual abuse?

If that person cannot, or will not, receive help to correct the scars of abuse, should we accept and love that person as he or she is?

What impact can prenatal care, including mother’s habits, alcohol or drugs, emotions, or hormones, have upon the development of a fetus?  Later in life?

Is that scarred child/ adult still made in the image of God?  What does that mean?

To the degree that a child’s sexual orientation is determined by prenatal, even post-natal, conditions, how should we treat that person as a child/ as an adult?

If the cause of a person’s homosexuality cannot be explained naturally, should we determine the difference to be unnatural and sinful?

This Marvelous Creation

What Do We Really Know About Gender Identification or “Normal” Sexual Orientation?

One of the difficulties of all people is distinguishing “what is” from “what is not.”  Our expectations of others are often determined by our assumptions about them or their situation.  Sexuality and issues of gender are so personal to each of us that our judgments of others in such matters are often more reflective of our own sense of security or insecurity about who we are and confusion about what is our business and what is not.

In 2009, the gold medal won by Caster Semenya in the women’s 800 meter race in Berlin was challenged on the basis of what others claimed was her “intersex conditions:”  that she was not a woman, and therefore had an unfair advantage in obtaining her gold medal.  See http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/blog/fourth_place_medal/post/Semenya-withdraws-from-race-amidst-gender-questi?urn=oly-188930

For an engaging discussion of the common view that gender is easily identified, see http://www.spectacle.org/1209/swazo.html . Dr. Swazo wryly notes the circumstantial nature of the inquiry: “The medical subjectivation of Semenya itself unavoidably and irrevocably introduces her to a prospect of sustained gender dysphoria, when otherwise Semenya would be quite “herself” as before the ruckus elicited from Berlin.”  In that commentary, he  addresses whether intersex conditions, from a competitive posture, makes that competition with other “normal” women  unfair.  He notes the unfair treatment of Caster Semenya and concludes, “There is no injustice done when nature itself makes Semenya a woman manly, though nurture makes her a woman pure and simple.”

As an introduction to a study of what the Bible and other Christian “authorities” have said about sexual orientation and gender, I ask, “What do we really know about another’s gender, sexual orientation or what is “normal” in their unknown special circumstances?

If we are going to make judgments that are fair and appropriate, I suggest that we assure at least two conditions: (1) fair knowledge of the conditions and circumstance of the act or thing that is being judged, and (2) the right to judge that circumstance (i.e. it is a matter that directly effects us or that we have a social duty or right to judge).

Perhaps to illustrate this, let me suggest, as I had previously in a post in my initial blog, Heal Our Church:

A person who is blessed by God to be a hermaphrodite (both male and female physical characteristics), or has a genetic makeup of an extra X chromosome as in XXY or XXXY, or is XY male but is androgen insensitive and therefore has the default physical appearance of a female, doesn’t fit our common assignments of what is gender or what is the normal relationship between male and female. (Now within the last observation lies an interesting question for me: if the XY male who is androgen insensitive and therefore has a female body falls in love with a woman who has XX genetics, are they homosexuals or heterosexuals?) If it is confusing for you, imagine what it is like for the GLBT individual. Who are we to judge another person for the way they relate sexually with others just because it is different for them than for us and we can’t pinpoint a physical explanation of the difference. We would do well to recognize that we are the only one who can determine what God’s gift of gender and sexuality is for us.

Discussion:

What are your reactions to the story of Caster?

What can we expect of its impact on Caster?

Imagine you were Caster’s parents at her birth.

Whose business is it to determine her sex?  Parents at birth?  Child when an adult?

“Discuss:

Former IAAF medical commission chairman Arne Ljungqvist cautioned that a person’s gender is not always easy to define.”

“’There is no simple, single lab test that can tell if you are a man or a woman. It is not black and white,’” Ljungqvist told The Associated Press.

What about her later photoshoot to demonstrate that she is in fact a beautiful woman?  If she is genetically a male despite all physical appearances, what does that make her in this photo shoot?

The IAAF will make its determination for purposes of international sports competition.  How fair would it be for society to use that decision as a basis for its social determination?

Let us Open our Hearts, Minds and Doors to our community, and be enriched by its diverse experience of the divine.

Robert Wheeler

What Do We Really Know About Gender Identification or “Normal” Sexual Orientation?