March 15, 2009

All God's Children, Week Four

Week One: "Our Families"
Wekk Two: "Gay and Christian"
Week Three: "The Science of Sexuality"

What the Bible Says About Sexuality

One of the class members arrived early, armed with a grocery bag filled with blue clasp folders. Apparently she had read the Blue Book, a resource I displayed every week on the class information table. The Blue Book is a report that explains “What We Wish We Had Known” from a church task force that studied the science and Christian view of homosexuality. She was so excited about its welcoming message that she made ten copies for her study group. Then she made twenty more copies and gave them to her friends. And then she made thirty more copies and passed them out to class members as they arrived. I have to agree that it answers many basic questions that most people have as they approach the issue for the first time. It is wonderful to see someone newly afire with enthusiasm.

Our presenter was a seminary professor of Old Testament studies. She went through the standard passages that are the core argument for calling homosexuality a sin and presented arguments for each side. (I hesitate to call this a two-sided argument, for that is too simple for such a complex issue. But this is not a hermeneutics lesson.) I had heard pretty much everything she presented but one thing was new to me: she said that there is a school of thought that says Old Testament law is utopian literature, that it is something to reach for but impossible to attain. That is something to think about.

Attendance remained high but not what I expected for this most difficult topic of the series: 76 came, still three times higher than normal attendance. The audience was rapt as always, but the speaker used every minute available. Still, no one would leave as class time came to an end and hands were raised. After a discussion on grace came the question I expected: “Doesn’t homosexuality destroy the family?” I could see four heads nod with agreement.

The professor explained that this was an empirical question; that is, we can examine this with evidence before us today. This is not answered in the Bible. She mentioned a social services study of families who adopted children. Children adopted by same-sex couples were compared in a years-long study to children adopted by hetero couples. The study concluded that those children who were adopted by same-sex parents were “more successful” than those adopted by hetero parents. She could not name the study or what “successful” meant in the terms of the study, and mumbling was heard from the audience. She calmly asserted that each of us is obliged to find the facts and not just take someone’s word.

I was sorry that the real discussion was only beginning as the class was ending. Clusters of people continued to converse at length after class ended. One of the dissenting men talked for a long time with Abe, who was able to tell about his own journey of discovery. I am grateful he was there. The man complained at how one-sided the series was, and Abe said it was that way on purpose. The man was taken aback. Abe continued, “We’ve had four weeks—four hours—of this point of view. Balance that against 170 years of the other point of view.” They continued in a calm discussion, agreeing to disagree on a couple of key points.

Some people were uncomfortable with the potential for conflict, but how can we grow without it? If we are complacent, we have no reason to change. If we’re arguing, it means we are talking. That is the goal for now. We have to let the dust settle before we move forward, but we are talking.

10 comments:

the hobbit said...

Bridie,

I'm so glad you're running this discussion and not me. I have no patience for the head nodders. I would probably burn the room down if I saw that. ;)

Thank you thank you thank you again.

LiftThineEyes said...

Wonderful work you are doing, Birdie. Especially as it gets to the rough part. This is where the growth will take place.

Yes, I believe it is better for us straight advocates to hear the things like that, to meet people where they are, take their hand and lead them to examine things in ways they haven't thought about before; unfortunately, it's the only way many people can move forward. The questions need to be asked, the perspectives acknowledged, so that people will feel safe enough to open their hearts. But it's not fair for the people who are very hurt by these questions to have to field them. LGBT folk have suffered enough. Leave it to us.

Now, if people want to ask questions about children's behaviour, it's another story. ADHD is not a lifestyle choice. Don't get me started.....

Ur-spo said...

I hope it can do some good.
I still fear people believe what they want to believe and no good argument will sway them.

tornwordo said...

How can a person believe they are truly loving and then purport that homosexuality destroys families? We are people, darnit! I admire the work you are doing and I hope that one day this issue is as much a non-issue as "equal or sweet 'n low". Sadly, I doubt this will occur in my lifetime.

Oh dear lord, my word verification is "prick".

Greg said...

Oh, my...

Well, I do appreciate someone else being willing to field these questions, as they do tend to set one on edge to hear them again and again. But I also know from many of those experiences that the change does come with discussion.

Continued blessings on your ministry, Birdie!

Patrick said...

Bravo for Abe's response to the 'one-sided' issue. Yes, conflict is necessary, feelings on this issue run to strongly and deeply for resolution to come any other way. Like Greg, I know I get impatient having to respond to the same questions over and over ('Don't quote Leviticus at me unless you have never eaten a cheeseburger or shellfish, have never worn mixed fibers and have never worked on the sabbath!')but I keep in mind that everyone has to find his/her own way through these issues. Blogging has shown me just how many people DO change their views, so I'm heartened to know there are people out there doing the work to reach them.

Bear Me Out said...

"Does homosexuality destroy the family?"

As global things, NO. Homosexuality just is. Family just is.

Does the homosexuality of some person destroy his/her family. Very possibly, at first glance.

Yes, my family has been severely disrupted by it, but not destroyed. I have left my wife, now divorced. There has been a great deal of pain. We are working through it. We are surviving through some very painful times.

The attempt these days is to use a utopian, traditional view of family to destroy homosexuality. "All he needs is the love of a good woman." "Just choose differently. Don't be like that." "God will change you."

I was married to a good woman for over 22 years. I prayed. I tried to choose differently. Years of therapy, prayer, love.

I have not changed. I've wanted to, and I've tried. But I haven't. And I can't.

The only choice I've made is to be who God created me to be. The old model of "family" which many thought would change me did not.

My family would have been much more severely fractured had I commited suicide. And I came close enough.

But I love them too much for that. And I love them too much to live a lie.

Merton: "To be born again is not to become somebody else; it is to become who you are."

Bear Me Out said...

I found the correct link for the Blue Book:
http://www.pcmk.org/blue_book.pdf

bigislandjeepguy said...

thank you for people like abe. i'm so NOT quick on my feet when it comes to comebacks. his was PER-FECT.

thanks for keeping us updated on this...it is truly interesting reading. (i might not comment on all of it, but i sure do read and absorb it)

David said...

Abe is awesome and so are you. I love what you are creating at your church.