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Re: Choice or No choice.




> If you want me to talk directly to you, here goes:

I appreciate your willingness to talk to me directly.

> The fundamental difference between your position and mine it seems to
> me, please correct me if I'm wrong, is that you seem to believe that
> homosexuality and sexual orientation is innate and immutable.

Actually, I believe that sexual orientation is largely a mystery.  Most
human beings appear to be capable of responding heterosexually or
homosexually as far as biological equipment allows; yet most also appear
to have one deep emotional and psychological sexual orientation more than
the other.  A mystery to me is why most prefer heterosexual partners, but
they do, and it seems to please them.  So be it.  I rejoice for them.

Some people report that they have much more choice of orientation than
others report.  By definition these are bisexuals, not because they choose
to behave both homosexually and heterosexually, but because they perceive
they have fairly strong orientation in each direction.  Most bisexuals
that I know are living in commitment to one person.

Most research, even among those who claim to be able to change one's
orientation, suggests that those 'preferences' are in place subconsciously
long before puberty, the time at which many, but not all, report that they
first become aware of them.  That does not mean that the inclinations are
innate.  They could be learned or inherited genetically.  I don't know.
And at 65, I must confess that I am not losing any sleep over the
argument, which I have always viewed as more academic than personal.

Anyone would be foolish to sit around waiting for the argument to be
resolved before deciding how to be a responsible, loving, caring human
being.  One does not discover one's sexual orientation out of a book,
thanks be to God!

> You treat that hypothesis as though it was written in tablets of stone
> and handed down by Almighty God.

Are you projecting your own certainties about creation onto me?  God put
only ten on Moses' tablets, and not one of them addresses sexual
orientation.  Nor did Jesus' big two.  What our church gets upset about
did not even make their lists.  Jesus never said anything about
homosexuality, yet he attacked many of the other practices of the Romans
who controlled Israel during his life.

Jesus did hold up for all of us two standards by which all the law and the
prophets are to be judged:  Love God with all your heart, mind (the
forgotten part), soul, and strength.  Love your neighbor (presumably your
lesbigay neighbors, and my straight neighbors) as you love yourself.
Looks like we're both stuck with each other, XXXXX.  I am grateful.

I hold to no particularly hypothesis about the etiology of homosexuality;
nor am I persuaded by any of the rival theories.

Homosexuality for me is not a theoretical issue.  I have never had that
luxury as a homosexual person.  I am reminded of the hen who said to the
pig, 'Let's make a contribution to the farmer's breakfast.'  The pig
replied, 'What for you is a contribution is for me a sacrifice.'

Almost all of your post deals with sexuality; almost all of my time as a
gay Christian deals with servant ministry.  Even in a relationship, sex is
integral, but not definitive.

Many study etiology with clear intent to engineer and control. That seems
to drive your own interest in the theories.  I am not interested in
engineering the society to be homogeneous about sexual orientation or about
any of our other diversity.

> The scientific community has not reached anything approaching that
> conclusion, nor has the Church

I agree.

> and in fact the preponderance of the evidence is on the other side at
> this point.

That depends on whom you are listening to.  The official positions of the
American Psychological Association and of the American Psychiatric
Association do not support the views in the material that you site.
While many other denominations pay little attention to medical
professionals, the Episcopal Church usually does.  Of course the medical
professionals have been wrong before about many important matters, and
they may be wrong about this one.

> As a result of numerous conversations I have had with gay men and
> lesbians, contrary to your assertion that I don't talk to them directly,
> and hearing story after story of those who have turned their back on
> that way of experiencing their sexuality through the miracle working
> power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I believe as they do that
> there is another way, and that they have a choice.

I am glad  that you have been listening.  I hope you won't restrict your
conversations to those who have reached your own conclusions.

I will gladly listen to your testimony about your own sexual choices; I do
not give the same authority to your reports of the experiences of others
since I have access to their reports directly.  Ex-gays have the freedom
to speak for themselves.  I am disappointed that so few ex-gays in this
forum are willing to take the same risks that lesbigay deputies take in
bearing witness to their experience of Jesus.

I share your conviction that people do have a choice in how we behave.  I
believe that we cannot change our plumbing, but we can choose to behave
sexually in ways that honor our partner, honor ourselves, and honor God.

I respect those who feel called to a life of celibacy.  The church has
always considered celibacy a calling, not a punishment.  The church has
always recognized that some people have that calling and that others do
not.  St.  Paul said that those who do not have that calling should live
in loving relationships rather than to burn in lust.

> In this forum we hear nothing from the thousands of gays and lesbians
> whose lives have been changed through the ministry of Exodus
> International, or Mario Bergner and Redeemed Life Ministries

When I visited a large Exodus regional gathering several years ago, it was
clear that I was among many gay brothers.  I heard much more candor there
than I hear in the report you give.  Joe Dallas, the main speaker for that
occasion, gently comforted people who expected and wanted all their
desires to become heterosexual.  He noted that for a great many that never
happens.  Instead, they learn to live faithfully in how they respond to
those desires.

> You will doubtless tell me that many of them have returned to their
> old ways.  I'm sure that's true, as it is for Alcoholics Anonymous.
> But I'm sure you would not suggest that AA is a bogus organization
> because of the backsliders.

Again, you are putting words into my mouth.  Why not ask me what I think?
You tell me what I think and then attack me for what you concluded. That's
not conversation.

I applaud ex-gays for turning their backs on 'their old ways' that they
typically describe.  I am glad when a person rediscovers attractions for
her/his heterosexual partner and stops living a double life.  I rejoice
when one discovers that there are indeed healthy alternatives to
compulsive and promiscuous sexuality.  I thank God for the gift of
celibacy which God has given to some.

I know whereof I speak.  In my youth, the Church led me to think that
there was a simplistic choice between a life of lust or a life of
celibacy.  I remained committed to celibacy until 28 and prayed fervently
of to be delivered of my homosexual desires.  I did not ask for them, nor
want them. When the desires would not go away, I felt cheated by God.
cursed God.  I was not happy with my lust and not happy with a God who
seemed to have made me defective.

God answers prayer, often in ways we least expect.

God did not deliver me from my orientation, but delivered me from
compulsive promiscuity into a relationship that is whole, that has
integrity, where my members are not at war with one another.  I made a
commitment to another human being.

How surprised I was to discover that the relationship does not match any
of the descriptions I had been told of gay unions.  It does not turn in on
itself, but frees up vast energy and love to be directed outward in
service to others.  When I was trying so hard to become straight, I
centered on myself most of the time.  After accepting the person God had
made, I was freed up to care much more about others.  Layers and layers of
neurosis slowly but surely disappeared.  It is much easier to live in the
light of honesty about who one is and Whose one is.

I applaud any person who makes a determined effort to change a life of
destructive compulsion.  I my case, the compulsions fell away not because
I fought them, but because God revealed to me how I might become whole.

Sexual orientation has little to do with sexual compulsions.  Many gay men
and almost no lesbians share my experience of sexual compulsions.  So
do not generalize about others based on my own experience.  We have
far too much idolatry in the world already.

Many heterosexuals, especially men, do share an experience of sexual
compulsions, and we should not define other heterosexuals by them either.

Given the support systems that are given to heterosexuals and denied to
lesbigays, I would not be surprised to find lesbigays, especially gay men,
having more than our share of compulsions, but no research is conclusive
about that.

We do not understand the behavior of a whole group of people by looking at
the behavior of sub-sets of that group.

If my life as a homosexual still matched some evangelicals' stereotypes of
it, I would be as lonely and broken as they think I ought to be.  For
almost three decades, I tried hard to live down to their expectations.  I
rejoice that God had much better news for me.

> Professional Psychiatric literature is full of case studies of
> homosexuals whose lives have been completely turned around.

It depends on what you mean by "turned around."  I know of no studies that
document a shift in the plumbing.  Very few persons report that their
patterns of arousal have completely shifted, especially their
involuntarily arousal pattern, such as those in erotic dreams.

Many people, straight and gay, 'turn around' how we respond to arousal
patterns.

> The Roman Catholic Article "Homosexuality and Hope", which can be found
> at http://www.cathmed.org/hhwebsite3.html has a large quantity of
> meticulously researched and cross referenced data from inside the church
> and from professional psychiatrists demonstrating both the root causes
> of same sex attraction, and the fact that lives can be changed.

This article does not describe my experience.  It has almost no
correspondence with the experience of gay Christians whom I know.

One of the real problems with your perspective is that you purport to tell
the world what our experience is.  You say that you have initiated a
conversation with me, but you come at me with your conclusions before you
ever ask any questions.

> My primary concern from day one in this debate has been what kind of
> options and direction do we give to our very young children when they
> have the capacity to make definite choices, and when they are most
> susceptible to temptations, sexual and otherwise, and the predations of
> those who would like to abuse that susceptibility.

Adults should provide young people with the clearest forms of information
appropriate for their age group.  The best way that adults can influence
the young is to live their own lives with honesty, integrity, caring......
Young people deserve huge amounts of privacy, but not the loneliness of
ignorance.  Young people deserve complete freedom from coercion.

If young people took their sexual orientation from their teachers, we
would have lots of male nuns.

> The first time a young boy is faced with the temptation to perform a
> homosexual act with another male he does have a choice, unless he is the
> victim of rape, as many are.

It is also true that "The first time a young boy is faced with the
temptation to perform a sexual act with a female, he does have a choice."

If the young man is primarily heterosexual, the first choice is not likely
to be very tempting.  If he is comfortable with himself, he is likely to
say, "Huh?  Well, no, but thanks for the affirmation."  The second
situation will be a bigger test of his character.

Your wording suggests that first sexual experiences are always initiated
or at least offered by someone else.  Are you projecting your own
experience onto others?  Many report that in their first time, they were
the one initiating or making the offer.

I agree with you that a person has a choice and should exercise it wisely
-- not just for gay sexuality but for also for straight sexuality. Many
elements should enter into that choice:

*  Will your decision respect all of the other commitments that you have
   made -- to God, to yourself, to other people?

If choosing to have sex will respect those commitments, or even if you
insist on skipping that important first question, still ask:

*  Does this person really care about you as a whole person?

*  Do you really care about her/him as a whole person, or just for sex?

*  Is the offer exploitative or mutual?

*  Do you want to experiment, or are you prepared to save yourself for
   a committed relationship?

*  Would you be wise to say "No" or "No thank you"?

And if you decide to have sex:

*  Will both of you protect yourselves against disease?  How can you
   respect yourself and the other person if you do not?

*  Will both of you protect yourselves against an unwanted third party,
   and are you prepared to take the responsibility of caring for that
   third party if it arrives anyway?

XXXXX, you use the word TEMPTATION, suggesting that an offer of sexuality
is always wrong.  Most of us turn down all opportunities except those
within a life-long commitment, but does that mean we have to treat the
offer of affection from someone else evil?

Most attraction is a compliment.  In most cases, someone making an offer
is acting on a generous impulse, an affirmative impulse.  Even if it is
not wanted or welcome, a simple 'No' or even "No, thank you' respects the
the dignity of the other person more does a response that is
holier-than-thou and reduces the other person to a an evil tempter.

To respond with hostility to the sexual kindness of others reflects
insecurity quite unrelated to the kindness.

Of course, the young are entitled to be insecure, and that is why we must
assure that they cannot be coerced and that they have a non-threatening
environment as well as all the time they need to develop their own sense
of self.

> Do we tell him "If it feels good, do it".

XXXXX, have you been watching too many commercials or bad movies? I know no
Christian, gay or straight, who gives such glib counsel.

> Do young boys have a choice, or don't they?

Of course they do.  And so do young girls.

We in the United States often rob the young of their choices by trying to
make their choices for them; some compound the abuse by trying to force
young people to say they really made the choices we made for them.

We also allow commercial exploitation of sex and youth to appalling
degrees, giving advertisers major opportunities to influence the sexual
choices of the young.

> Here is where we clearly disagree.

Regarding the right of young people to be free of adult manipulation?  We
could not agree more.

Again, you are trying hard to tell me what I believe or represent.
Instead, why not ask me?

> I am not going to change your mind, nor you mine, on such a fundamental
> question.  We can't both be right, (but of course we could both be
> wrong!).  I am not interested in proving a point or winning an argument,

Everything you have said suggests that you are trying to prove a point or
win an argument.  And why not?  What is wrong with trying to be right?

I agree that neither of us is likely to change his mind significantly on
essential points:  we are not butterflies flitting from idea to idea.  On
the other hand, we can become better at moderating our positions when
someone with whom we disagree opens up a new point of view for us to
consider. The Exodus gathering did that for me when I listened without my
blinders and my preconceived opinions.  You will be similarly enlarged and
enriched when you visit a group of lesbigay Episcopalians and hear them
tell of Jesus's work in their lesbigay commitments and in their
commitments to serve even their enemies.

> but I am interested in plumbing the depths of what the miracle-working
> power of Jesus Christ can do in my life and the lives of others, and in
> the life of our Church.

I rejoice that Jesus is working miracles in your life, and I rejoice that
Jesus cares about us both, deeply.  Each of us must be careful not to
prescribe for Jesus the miracles that he can and cannot perform in the
life of the other.

> When the tumult and the shouting dies, it is my hope and prayer that at
> convention we will make the choice that Almighty God wants us to make,
> which is not necessarily the one that you or I might prefer.

What resolution do you plan to present?

In the long list of resolutions that I am considering, only one has
anything to do with lesbigays, and it will be to support some variation on
the 8th resolve of D039 that came so close to passing in Denver.  You can
see one version of it in the Grew Amendment at
http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/grew.html

Call on me if I can help you connect in any way.

Best wishes.

L.









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