Tuesday Talks:  Homosexuality a Chat –  by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

Originally posted on the 15th of September 2015.

Disclaimer:

For those of you who are not familiar with this blog.  Sunday Everyday is a blog that looks at the hard issues in a fresh way.  It is a social justice platform designed to host and explore topics, opinions and conversations.  The premise being that if we don’t start conversations and listen to the narrative of others then we can’t learn or be helpful to people who need our help. Too many times I come across people who don’t actually know what they think or why.  So before you all go mental on me, can we enter this topic with grace, love and gentleness.

Introduction:  Every single human on the planet deserves to experience Shalom.  To not be subject to abuse, to find a safe place in  community, to find respect and dignity and to not be marginalised or stigmatised.  All of us should, as Jesus instructs, treat each other the same way that we wish to be treated.

This subject is one of the most divisive issues on the planet right now especially within religious communities.

In fact it is the most conflict-ridden issue facing Christendom since slavery and the fight for women rights.  It is an emotional issue.  Propelled by homophobia, heated arguments for and against rage across communities causing major conflict, pain and threaten denominations, families and friendships all of which I have seen first hand.

Unfortunately the church is often seen as leading the anti-gay movement and not seen as leading by its embrace or love.

The Word the Definition:

The word homosexual is usually used to include gay, lesbian and bisexuals all of which form a minority group in Australia of about 2% of the population (Smith).

Summary of facts:
 1.2% of Australians identify as gay or lesbian
 1.6% of men in Australia identify as gay, 0.9% identify as bisexual
 0.8% of women identify as lesbian, 1.4% identify as bisexual
 97.9% of Victorians aged 12-24 identify as heterosexual
 Same-sex couples represented about 1% of all couples in Australia (Family Voice Australia)

The historian Michel Foucault cites “Westphal’s famous article of 1870 on ‘contrary sexual sensations'” as the “date of birth” of the categorization of the homosexual.  The term Homosexual has only been in use for just over 100 years.  This is important to remember in our biblical debates in reference to translations of the biblical texts on sexuality – otherwise known as – the clobber verses.  The original biblical texts do not use the word homosexual.

Homosexuality is a complex psychological, sociological and biological issue.
Definition:

Two definitions of “Homosexuality” (Religious Tolerance)
Religious Conservatives, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim or of another religion, often define homosexuality in terms of behaviour.  It is what a person does.  A homosexual is a person who engages in same-gender sexual behaviour, a heterosexual is one who engages only in opposite gender sexual behaviour.  They generally refer to a person who has sex with both males and females as a homosexual; bisexuality is rarely acknowledged.  Behaviours can be changed by an act of will.

  • Persons who are attracted to both men and women can chose to confine there sexual activity to opposite sex relationships.  Often referred to as ex-gay.
  • Persons who are sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex can decide to remain celibate.  They are also referred to as ex-gays.
  • By changing one’s behaviour they can switch from being homosexual to heterosexual through reparative therapy.

Most religious liberals, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, therapists, etc.  define homosexuality in terms of feelings and self-identification.

  • A homosexual is a person who is sexually attracted to only members of the same sex.
  • A bisexual is attracted to both women and men although not necessarily to the same degree.
  • A heterosexual is a person who is attracted to only persons of the opposite sex.
  • Bisexuals can choose to confine their activity to one sex or the other, however they remain bi-sesxual.
  • Homosexuals can choose to remain celibate; however they remain homosexual.
  • Adult sexual orientation is generally regarded as fixed, it cannot be changed through therapy or prayer.  The success rate of reparative therapy is close to zero and very damaging.

LGBTI:

LGBTI is an an acronym used to shorten the title: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,Transgendered and Intersex.

Sexual Orientation:

Refers to ‘an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and or sexual attractions to men, worn or both sexes’ (APA, 2002).

Homophobia:

Psychologist George Wienberg invented the word “homophobia” in his book “Society and the Healthy individual” published in 1972.  He defined it as “the dread of being in close quarters with homosexuals”, he offered a fuller definition:

“a phobia about homosexuals…It was a fear of homosexuals which seemed to be associated with a fear of contagion, a fear of reducing the things one fought for – home and family.  It was a religious fear and it had led to great brutality as fear always does.”

What are the Issues?

There are a few paradigms: These descriptions were published in Religious Tolerance.org 23/6/10

One can divide most of the public into six groups, depending upon their fundamental beliefs about homosexuality and/or their main emphasis.
ViewPoint                              Description or Main Emphasis

“Abomination”                        Homosexuality is profoundly immoral at all times

“Change is expected”            Homosexuals can change their sexual orientation, with effort

“Marginally acceptable”         Committed homosexual relationships are the least awful option

“Celibacy is expected”           Homosexuals must either change their orientation or be celibate

“Affirmation”                           Seek equal rights.  Homosexuality is morally neutral

“Liberation”                            Reinterpret the Bible.  Homophobia, not being gay, is the main evil

Current Thinking:

There exists now a very wide gap between secular understanding and the outlook of the Church.  If the secular world views homosexuality as genetic encoded orientation, then most Religious groups would say that homosexuality is a choice and a sin.

Lets look at three views on the continuum of belief.

Conservative Approach:

Homosexuality is a choice

Only solution is to repent or to change homosexual behaviour

Promote prayer and therapies to change

Middle Road:

Dont openly condemn homosexuality

Agree that it is not a choice

Believe a homosexual can be part of the community of faith.  Churches with this stance are called ‘welcoming but not affirming’ churches and homosexuals would be welcome but not allowed to become a member or a leader.

Homosexuals should remain celebate.

Liberal Approach:

Support and affirm homosexuals

Believe in gay civil rights

Believe in equal rights within the church community

Believe in same sex marriage within a loving monogamous relationship.

The sad truth is that most Christians are silent and vague on the subject.  Most Christians leaders will not openly discuss it with their congregations.    Unfortunately the church at large has not lived alongside homosexuals in sacrificial love, it has instead used its Church muscle and power to enforce its will causing many homosexuals to see Jesus as the enemy and not the instrument of Gods love (Campolo, 2009:97,98).

I agree with Deb Hirsch when she says:  “When it comes to these sorts of issues I find that Christians on the traditional side of things tend to lead with their theological position, often making it hard to embrace the person.  Remember the the old slogan “Love the sinner, hate the sin”?  The problem is that very few in the church ever got around to love the sinner – it became a cheap slogan.

We must lead with our embrace, not our theology.  When we lead with our theology, we tend to get caught up in the ‘wrongness’ of some peoples behaviour, and the humanness of that person is easily lost.

Jesus didn’t wait for us to get our behaviours cleaned up before he embraced us; he embraced us first, with open arms.

These are some of the questions that I wrestle with:

Is there a totem pole of sin?

Why did Jesus say nothing about homosexuality and quite a bit about divorce?

Why is divorce okay?

1:6 Corinthians is one of the verses used against homosexuals .  Also listed are the sexual immoral, adulterers, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, liars and extortioners.  Is there a biblical model for excluding all of  these people from church membership/attendance or just homosexuals?

I do recommend you getting Deb’s new book “Redeeming Sex” if you haven’t already.  It is a great solid look at this topic.

Love Lisa

Recommended Reading:

Redeeming Sex by Deb Hirsch – click the book image to order through Amazon.

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Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people.Sunday Everyday has been on line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month.  Every bit helps.

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Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

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Bibliography:

APA. (2002). For a better understanding of sexual orientation and homosexuality.

     American Psychological Association, 1-6

Campolo, T. (2009).  Chose love not power.  Ventura, California: Gospel Light Worldwide.
Religious Tolerance.  Brief descriptions of the six belief systems regarding homosexuality and bisexuality.  http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom6beli1htm

Smith, A. (2003).  Sexual experience and identity.  Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 138-145.

Family Voice Australia:  http://www.fava.org.au/news/2012/how-many-homosexuals-are-there-in-australia/

10 Comments on “Homosexuality a Chat by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

  1. Framing homosexual behaviour as a sin is just another form of shaming (which is basically social rejection), but done in the service of god.

    Homosexuality was labelled a sin in a time when we did not know what we know now about human sexuality.

    We now know that unnecessary shaming is harmful to mental health, and that there is nothing damaging from being in a same sex relationship.

    Knowing the impact of such shaming, the only true sinners are those that refuse to accept the latest knowledge about homosexuality, and refuse to open their hearts and apologise for past shame-based attacks on homosexuals.

    As a gay person, one of my major shark cage bars is to not trust anyone that calls my loving relationship sinful. I have met so many well meaning religious people who think this is ok. But it is not ok. And it never will be.

    Lisa, it is NOT ok to hold onto theology and doctrine that homosexual behaviour is a sin. If you label homosexual behaviour as a sin you are equivalent to a murderer, for your words are driving people to suicide.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You wrote: “Remember the the old slogan “Love the sinner, hate the sin”? The problem is that very few in the church ever got around to love the sinner – it became a cheap slogan.”

    If the fault is in not doing the slogan, then do it. Don’t change the slogan.

    If that so called cheap slogan were actually put into practice, do you see anything else wrong with it? What can be wrong with a Christian, holding the conservative stance of homosexuality being a sin, but being friends with gay people, accepting them, and loving them as people – but showing them that the gospel asks them to seek God for changing sinful things in their life? Do you see anything faulty with that approach?

    Like

    • Dear hot potatoe, I would jump for joy if people showed more love, this kind of love:
      “Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always ‘me first’, doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end. Love never dies” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

      It’s really describing JESUS. Of course you can hold your theology and doctrine on sin. I think we should be more challenged about with the sin/plank in our own lives.

      Thanks for adding to the conversation x Lisa

      Like

      • A characteristic of the new theology is forcing an “INSTEAD OF” when it should be an “AND”.

        For example, if you’re a mother, it’d be like someone telling you: “As a mother, INSTEAD OF giving your children guidance on the right way to go, you should ONLY live by example and never, ever tell them what to do.”

        This is foolishness.

        It’s actually an AND.

        i.e. “As a mother, you should live a good example AND give verbal guidance to your children when needed.”

        Notice that Jesus never just told people to ONLY and EXCLUSIVELY focus on their own sin – which we should and must do. Jesus also told us to bring the message of repentance and faith to the world (Luke 24:47).

        The same Jesus who said, don’t judge (Matt 7:1), also said go tell your brother his fault in a brotherly way with no condemnation (Matt 18:15). So do you see that it is both, not just one side.

        Do you see that Matt 7:1 and Matt 18:15 go hand in hand. To emphasise one without the other is to be imbalanced.

        When truth contains two parts, it is error to just emphasise one side.

        Now, the fact is, many Christians may be skewed to one side — and it’s good to remind them of the other side — but history has shown that the church has a tendency of swinging from one extreme to the other.

        Lisa. would you be open to consider that many Christians in the gay debate are replicating history by swinging from one extreme to the other? It’s said that if we don’t learn the lessons of history, we’re bound to repeat it ourselves.

        Like

        • Hi there Hotpotato, I hope that you are well.

          Firstly it would be nice to know your name. I’m not fond of anonymous to tell the truth.

          I really appreciate you joining the conversation.
          In reference to the scripture on LOVE, I didn’t realise that it was a new theology.

          I do think there has been an emphasis on one side. In reference to the topic of homosexuality, which is what I assume you are referring to, I think that it has been very one sided and not a balanced approach at all. In fact in general I think that it is far from swinging too far the other way as you allude to.

          There has not been a lot of grace at all in this issue. Most people get very hot under the collar and can get very vitriolic very fast.

          I don’t believe in a totem pole for sin, I don’t believe the bible does either, but for some reason homosexuality has been placed at the top of the totem pole by quite a few Christians.
          Anyway, interesting conversation and I appreciate your considered approach, it is pretty refreshing.
          Lisa

          Like

  3. Very balanced and sane introduction to the subject…may the discussion begin.

    Like

  4. Great introduction to this topic, Lisa. Looking forward to you unpacking it some more. Brilliant!

    Like

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