Tuesday Talks: Homosexuality a Chat – by Lisa Hunt-Wotton
Originally posted on the 15th of September 2015.
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).
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.
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 is an an acronym used to shorten the title: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,Transgendered and Intersex.
Refers to ‘an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and or sexual attractions to men, worn or both sexes’ (APA, 2002).
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
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.
Homosexuality is a choice
Only solution is to repent or to change homosexual behaviour
Promote prayer and therapies to change
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.
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.
Redeeming Sex by Deb Hirsch – click the book image to order through Amazon.
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Thanks for considering.
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/