God, Gays and the Church – A Brief Review

godgayscover[1]A number of people both on and off this blog have asked me repeatedly what my opinion of the book “God, Gays and the Church” is? As you know, the book was published on Wednesday and includes the first public version of my testimony. What I want to do in this post then is divide the book into “Good”, “Disappointing” and “Controversial”.

Before we do that however I want to make one thing very clear. All the contributors to the book were asked to submit pieces relevant as a response to the February 2007 General Synod debate on sexuality. Once we had contributed our piece there was minor editorial work to be done but to the best of my knowledge none of the contributors was in any way aware of the others’ contributions, nor were we asked to comment on them or endorse them. To suggest that if one contributes one essay to a book one implictly supports the others is ludicrous.

So, onto the brief review. Let’s start with…

The Good

The are a number of excellent contributions that are worth reading. The book begins with a number of testimonies of the power of God to both transform sexual orientation and also to allow the grace to live with same-sex attraction in a holy, celibate manner. These should be read and accepted as what they are – true stories of God’s Spirit at work in the life of many. They demonstrate the anecdotal evidence of what Dr Whitehead later outlines in his chapter, namely that the idea that homosexuality is hard-wired is a scientific myth with little evidence to support it. The chapter from Satinover is also good in that regard because it illustrates one hypothetical root into homosexual identity that many of us who have experienced it would identify with.

Professor Gagnon’s contribution is important because, as I repeatedly tell those who ask me my opinion on where the argument in the church should concentrate, the question of whether we as Christians should engage in homosexual practice is ultimately a theological/biblical one and not a sociological/biological one. If you haven’t already checked out Rob Gagnon’s website then do so. He is, in my humble opinion, one of the top conservative theologians in this area. His “The Bible and Homosexual Practice” is, along with Goddard and Walker’s “True Union in the Body” (available here as a free pdf download) the key biblical commentaries on this subject to be found.

Edith Humprey’s essay and Mario Bergner’s contribution are both excellent and thought-provoking pieces from recognised graceful conservative writers. In particular, Bergner shows once again that it is classic spiritual practice that is at the heart of any journey out of homosexuality. Likewise, Paul and Christine Perkin raise some key issues for Church of England conservatives in how we should respond to Civil Partnership legislation.

Lisa Nolland’s “Gay Wednesday, Gay Pain” is a very interesting examination of just where a large part of the gay Christian community is theologically at when it comes to sexual ethics. As she rightly points out, not just in her essay in the book but in her key note address to the book launch, groups like LGCM and Changing Attitude, far from promoting the gay equivalent of life-long marriage are often ready to support and condone fleeting relationships.

So, all in all, the book provides a number of excellent submissions that challenge and provoke us to grapple with the truth about sexual orientation and how we as Anglican Christians should respond.

The Disappointing

Unfortunately the book is not all good. In particular there is one full contribution and sections of another contribution that, if I were the editor, I would not have included. The first is Dr Ronald Lee’s essay, “The Books, the Porn, the Truth”. While I can understand why Chris Sugden included it in the book, there are elements of Lee’s narrative that come across not as a graceful attempt to engage with a thorny issue, but as downright homophobic. While I have no issue with the idea that many gay men (and women) do live lives of promiscuity that would make even the most hardened sex addict blush, his claim that he has never met a monogamous same-sex couple makes me wonder whether he was looking hard enough. I personally have friends, some whom I’ve shared a flat with, who have gone on to enter into, and maintain to the best of my knowledge, the same-sex equivalent of monogamous marriage.

I remember talking to Peter Walker and Andrew Goddard about their production of “True Union”. They were adamant that they wanted to engage with the absolute best case pro-gay argument used by their liberal opponents. That is, I believe, what makes True Union such a great book because it engages with the absolute best theology the other side has, and demolishes that, not the straw men of promiscuity. Unfortunately Lee’s essay does no such thing, and though he makes some interesting points about the “facades” within aspects of gay culture, ultimately his piece leaves an uncomfortable taste in the mouth.

The other area of disappointment I found was the use by some of the contributors of outdated and discredited research. Unfortunately, in the prologue the editors cite the research of Paul Cameron on the age at death of non-HIV men, research that has been rejected by many (including ultimately myself after repeated challenges and suitable evidence to the contrary being presented on another blog site) as being unsound and statistically dubious. It remains to be said that the research of Hogg et al that they also cite in passing is perhaps a better starting point for exploring this area, but until some definitive study is completed on the subject, the jury is still very much out. There are also issues surrounding the character of Cameron himself that make one wonder whether it is wise to use his work in this regard.

The Controversial

Two areas of the book are controversial, not in the sense that they are offensive or poorly researched, but rather because they raise important issues that strike right to the heart of the current debate. The first are the submissions by Joseph Nicolosi on psychotherapeutic approaches to homosexuality. I know that a number of people who read these three chapters will find the content to be at odds to their understanding of sexual formation, but for many of us who have journeyed out of the homosexuality Nicolosi’s insights concur with our own experiences. What is more controversial however is when you present such a picture of psychological formation to someone who has tried the “ex-gay” path and found it not to work. The challenge that Nicolosi and others need to answer is whether the path that they outline is something that will work for everyone or only some? If only some, then is it worth resting our argument in such approaches or rather should we be emphasising the biblical call to chastity and accompanying that with an approach that relies more on classical spiritual discipline than psychotherapy? Answers on a postcard.

The other area that some will find controversial is Lisa Nolland’s essay on the sexualisation of youth. Read together with her key note speech, her criticism of homosexual behaviour as being at the forefront of the emergence of plastic sexuality is likely to cause you to sit and think, whatever your perspective on the subject is. I guess what might cause the most concern from some is how Lisa links the liberalisation of homosexual and other practices to the future trending of increasingly immoral and dangerous sexual practices, paedophilia and beastiality being but two. I’m not sure she necessarily makes the link that some assume she does that homosexuals themselves are at the vanguard of this, but some have taken  her to mean exactly such a thing. I think that’s a little unfair and to presuppose that Nolland is engaging in innuendo at this point is to stretch the point too far. I would be interested from more liberal readers who, once they’ve read Nolland’s essay, think her thesis of the danger of the increasing sexualisation of our culture has anything going for it, even removing the placing of homosexual practice at the centre of his argument?

Conclusion

God, Gays and the Church isn’t half as bad as some are making it out to be, but neither is it completely a perfect offering, but then few edited compendiums ever are. What it certainly is is a challenging, if at some times controversial, engagement with the 2007 General Synod debate that deserves to be read widely and responded to appropriately. While some may choose to criticise the more obvious targets in the book, their failure to diminish the contribution of the vast majority of the essays will be a sign that God, Gays and the Church has made a serious input into our current debate on homosexuality in the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion.

Please read the comments and discussion here before contributing to the comment thread below

Posted in Anglican Communion, Church of England, Sexuality Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • winston

    Thank you Peter – I hope Chris Sugden reads your comments – they are very valuable.

    I have to say that, having read some of her other work I find Lisa Nolland’s writing extremely offensive, and I fear that she projects a great deal onto the type of relationship that I am in which is unwarranted and inflammatory.

    I find it ironic as well that there may be some connection being made between homosexuality and paedophilia in the light of the fact that there can be a much stronger linkage made between religious forms of celibacy and paedophila. Ironic as well in that most acts of paedophila are done by heterosexuals to children in their own close friendship circle or family. I am sure, however, Lisa would want to make such a causal link with these and paedophilia in the way that she can be accused of doing with homosexuality.

    Anyway, my prayers are with us all as we turn to the story of Nicodemus tomorrow in the lectionary, that God will continue to draw us to rebirth as we bread bread at his altar.

    • I think you’re absolutely right Winston to highlight that in parts of the RC church, celibacy has led to expressions of sexuality that are harmful and ungodly. I don’t personally think that Lisa’s writing is offensive, but it is very challenging – she certainly has a controversial thesis.

  • Jill

    Peter – I can quite understand why a lot of people don’t like Peter Lee’s contribution, and I am sure you are right in what you say about ‘monogamous’ homosexual relationships, but unfortunately most of the evidence points to the contrary. Monogamy is rare. Most gay people will admit this. Many will laugh at the very notion of it. This is not a ‘one-off’ isolated viewpoint but a very common one.

    The danger is that (just as with Shari’a Law!) if one buys into it, one buys the whole package, not just the part that one is comfortable with, so engaging with the ‘best possible’ argument is doubtless a very worthy academic exercise but a bit of a waste of time, in my view.

    The Church is being misled. The intentions may be good, and I am sure they are sincere, but once the serpent’s head is in the room the rest of the body cannot help but follow. This is already happening, largely unnoticed. Changing Attitude’s paper ‘Sexual Ethics’ is a good example. The authors have admitted that the concept of one lifelong partner is unrealistic for most gay people, and have come up with various suggestions along the lines of ‘serial commitments’ or ‘serial faithfulness’. How can you reconcile this statement, for instance: ‘we think it is important to remain open to the possibility that brief and loving sexual engagement between mature adults in special circumstances can be occasions of grace’ and that ‘the exploration of our sexual selves can be something which benefits from involvement with more than one person’.

    I would say that this cannot help but have a knock-on effect on the rest of the population, (who really need no encouragement at all!) who would then be quite justified in clamouring for the Church to recognise exploration of their own ‘sexual selves’. Dr Nolland is quite right to draw attention to this.

    I haven’t finished the book yet, but have plenty more to say. However, I will stop here for now.

    • Jill,

      Here’s the problem. At some point you’re going to come across a monogamous same-sex couple and at that point an argument based around sociological criticism will evaporate in the light of an obviously happy stable gay couple. That’s why ultimately this needs to be a theological/biblical discussion and not a sociological/psychological one.

      That’s not to say that Lisa’s social critique isn’t important, but generalisations don’t help us when we bore down to the specifics of people’s lives.

      • Jill

        Sorry, Peter, but the last ‘happy, stable’ gay couple I knew both died from AIDS.

        They had been together for over a quarter of a century.

    • winston

      Dear Jill,

      Peter is right – the danger of your argument that is is very subjective and wholly relative.

      The last ‘happy, stable, heterosexual couple’ I knew both… ?

      What do you want to me fill in – got divorced, beat one another, went to swinger’s parties? All of them true, and all of them part of my experience. In fact, if I were to compare my friends, it seems heterosexuality was the dangerous of the two positions – my homosexual friends are on the whole much more monogamous. You also fail to make any mention of monogamy and lesbianism – lesbians are generally the most stable couples in our society.

      By the way, if having Aids is the indicator of anything with regards to someone’s morality – God help the millions of heterosexual Africans.

      Having said all of this, if the case for homosexuals being more promiscuous than heterosexuals were proven, I would want to ask why this might be the case. I think the reasons are for more complex than just these people are bad, look what they are going to do to our society.

      I think also some work needs to be done on the scapegoating mechanism, and how it is at work is Nolland’s work. You might want to read the fine theologian Jame Alison’s work on Girard , and on how the straight community projects its own repressed sexual fantasies onto gay people.

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  • Jill

    Peter, this isn’t a game, with winners and losers! I’m not remotely interested in ‘winning’ anything. I think that Synod is being duped. The Church should be supporting ex-gay ministries, not pro-gay organisations. You yourself know, as do countless others, that there is something much, much better for same-sex attracted people than a life filled with uncertainty, self-loathing, disease and early death. To deny this is to deny the power of the Cross.

    Would your comments also apply to a permanent, faithful and stable (consensual sexual) relationship between, say, a brother and sister?

    I disagree that the argument has nothing to do with sociology or biology. I don’t believe the Bible is a tool for theological gymnastics. I believe it is a pattern for us by which to live our lives to the best of our ability. Our bodies were not designed for homosexual activity. Homosexual practices are addictive and deadly. I have countless statistics on this, but I don’t particularly want to wheel them all out again. However, even a prominent gay activist has now admitted that HIV/AIDS is a gay disease. In the US 70% of AIDS victims are men who have sex with men.

    http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewCulture.asp?Page=/Culture/archive/200802/CUL20080215b.html

    There is also a new virulent strain of MRSA in the States which is 13 to 15 times more prevalent in gay men. Because of political correctness and new so-called ‘hate’ legislation the public health department which issued these findings has had to make a grovelling apology to the gay community – not because their research is wrong – it isn’t – but because ‘targeting the gay community could have negative repercussions’, whatever that means. This is insane, and is a direct result of ‘gay rights’ legislation – a form of tyranny which will ultimately lead to the destruction of the very people it is meant to protect if this kind of information has to be suppressed, or if the medical profession is intimidated into halting research.

    I don’t want people to die before their time of avoidable lifestyle diseases. I don’t want them to live miserable lives constantly searching for elusive happiness and fulfilment, which I don’t believe can be found in same-sex sexual relationships. I want them to know that it is possible, with God’s help, to change. My prayer is that the book will touch at least some people in that way.

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  • Jill

    Peter, I do get what you are saying about arguing against the best possible case scenario, believe me, and I don’t disagree with that, but there is more than one way to skin a cat, as my granny used to say. I would posit that most people are not interested in theological arguments but their moral compass tells them that abuses against the human body are wrong (as is proven by the high incidence of disease and injury) and cannot possibly be blessed by the body’s Creator.

    As with the incestuous couple I mentioned, making it permanent, faithful or stable doesn’t make it right, it just compounds the sin, so to speak.

    In short – you do it your way, I’ll do it mine! And let the other contributors to the book do it theirs! We are all trying to achieve the same end, after all, which is to counter the spin and misinformation which is being promulgated. Why don’t you write your own book?

    I do apologise for coming along and messing up your lovely blog!

  • Winston

    Jill,

    Our bodies were not designed for many things sexually (Oral sex say, contraception?), but it does not stop people doing them or using them.

    I think that you will be find that sex is also addictive and deadly to many. For example, you will find more pornography sites with heterosexual themes than homosexual. Would you like me to reel off statistics with regard to domestic violence, rape, child sex labour etc – all of them perpetuated by heterosexuals.

    With regards to Aids, unless you have unarguable evidence that homosexuals caused it – just because it is caught by some of them by doing certain things does not mean that it is necessarily a ‘gay disease’. Again, globally, this argument is nonsense anyway.

    By the way, one prominent gay activist does not make an argument for anything.

    Your subjective understanding of gay relationships can also be counted by my subjective understanding of them. Peter is right you need more authoritative reasons than experience, Christian tradition and authority cannot be based on such things solely.

    Healing and gay people – interesting one. It has failed miserably for most of us. I can assure you as well that I gave it my all. I do not doubt Peter’s experience, but it is pretty ununsual in proportion to the number for whom this type of therapy does not work.

    Yours, one very happy homosexual.

    PS Again, you make no mention of lesbianism in your arguments – is this because their existence confounds your arguments against homosexuality.

  • Jill

    Winston, you mention the one prominent gay activist – when every responsible gay website is stuffed full of articles on HIV and how to prevent it! This is from the Terrence Higgins Trust, as you obviously don’t trust some sources: (Men who have sex with men account for) 45% of all HIV cases and 57% of all AIDS cases reported in the UK (as at the end of 2006). http://www.tht.org.uk/informationresources/factsandstatistics/uk/menwithmen/

    This figure may be out of date as there have been many new cases since. This is a huge percentage bearing in mind that MSM (arguably!) only constitute around 1% of the population.

    Have you read ‘And the Band Played On’ by Randy Shilts? This book broke my heart. The author is a gay journalist who I believe has died from AIDS since he wrote this book. He charts the heartbreaking progress of the virus in cities such as San Francisco and New York in the 1980s, and talks about how 12,000 gay men had already died by the time the word hit the headlines in 1985 with the death of movie star Rock Hudson. At that time the disease was confined to MSM. This again, just as my previous story about the new strain of MRSA, was down to political correctness – the public health authorities didn’t want to know as it involved gay men and bathhouses; the gay men themselves were in denial – or at least they didn’t want to give up the promiscuous lifestyle. The early researchers risked their livelihoods and reputations in their efforts to get funding and proper attention (just as many researchers are risking theirs today, being shouted down by the powerful gay lobby). This has left the terrible legacy which will be with us for many more decades. Hundreds of thousands more gay men have died since Rock Hudson – talented, clever, successful, brilliant men – because nobody wanted to deal with the problem – as the author himself said, the federal government viewed AIDS as a budget problem, local public health officials saw it as a political problem, gay leaders considered it a PR problem, and the news media regarded it as a homosexual problem that wouldn’t interest anybody else.

    My big fear is that if gay men do not confront this problem honestly, instead of pretending it is a heterosexual one (Africa is something different) countless thousands more will die – of ignorance. Passing ‘gay rights’ legislation merely fuels complacency and careless behaviour – look at any responsible gay website and you will see that this is true.

    This is why I am not too worried about what Peter is talking about. Theory and theology are all very well, and they are certainly needed to underpin what people like me are saying, but I am more concerned about the practical fall-out of ignoring what the Bible has to say. I’m sure he is right, but not all gay men are Christians, and many couldn’t give a stuff about what the Bible says. The present government isn’t going to listen to Andrew’s ‘best case’ theological argument, but they might notice if this new superbug hits the UK in a big way and countless more gay men die. Diseases have a habit of morphing into something bigger and better once you think you have got them under control by medication. The only sure prevention is to stop doing what it is that causes it – which is what the Bible tells you to do. For the Church to be compounding the lie that the government is perpetrating (which is what Changing Attitude is campaigning for) will just ensure that more people will die. And it’s not just AIDS, there are many other diseases common in gay men.

    The points you made about heterosexual sex are very valid, and I have seen them used many times – but as far as I am aware the Church is not trying to get ‘straight’ promiscuity made acceptable! I haven’t seen ‘Inclusive Church’ campaigning for swingers! Christians should know that promiscuity is unacceptable, whether straight or homosexual. We must build on what is right, not on what is wrong. Doing what is wrong has consequences, all of them undesirable.

    If you want to stick to Peter’s argument, just show me one place in scripture which condones homosexual practice. I can show you lots which condemn it. (Or you can read Andrew Goddard’s piece!!)

    The reason I haven’t mentioned lesbians is that disease is not such a big issue. There are many mental health and other related problems though. Did you know that there is evidence that lesbians have over four times as many male sexual partners as their straight sisters? Or that fewer than 20% of lesbian relationships last more than three years?

    It is my view that healing can only come if you want it. You describe yourself as a ‘happy homosexual’ – well, I know some who aren’t – happy, that is – but this indicates to me that you don’t want healing. That is your choice, and I can’t argue with it!

  • Winston

    Jill,

    You make too many assumptions about lots of things – I only wish that I could have your certainty.

    A few points though:

    Firstly, again if even your case was accepted about the dangers of homosexuality (obviously, I do not accept it), the government would have to apply your legal strictures to a lot of other ‘dangerous’ things before it got to homosexuality. I think the banning of smoking, and drinking would have to be top of their list since they kill far more people than gay sex. Shall I suggest some books for you on people who died with alcohol or smoking related diseases – they would break you heart too, and the links between the disease and the habit would be founded on much firmer grounds than yours and Aids and being gay. Maybe, we should expel all such people with these harmful habits from the church?

    Secondly, I am also intrigued while postive gay legislation is going to result in more Aids. Civil partnerships are good examples based on new legislation that should further mongamous relationships and not go against them.

    Thirdly, you skip over Aids in Africa. Again in terms of anger, frustration and energy, you would be better spent dealing with forced sex on wives by their husbands and its relationship to Aids than homosexuality. Again, a much stronger link and much more pressing.

    Fourthly, I wonder how many inclusive type churches you have been to – I am aware of many and not one of them promote promiscuity of any type. I also wonder how much liberal material you have read on sexuality rather than some articles on websites. It would be good if you could quote some books that you have read which are not in support of your arguments. I could then do likewise from the other perspective.

    Fifthly, I have read Andrew Goddard. I have read most of the material on all of this. Anyone who can be so clear about the biblical material, as you are, needs to read a lot more of the material again.

    Sixthly, again one or two statistics on lesbianism does not make a case. Can I have your sources please? Even if they are accepted, the reasons for them are for more complex than these people are promiscuous – greater sophistication is needed.

    Lastly, you resort to your subjective experiences again which are just as well countered by my subjective experiences – I wonder how long we should play this game for? In fact, you have no idea whether I want healing or not – you have no idea about my experience of sexual formation.

    Regards.

  • Saul

    Just a couple of comments:

    1. Confronting the best argument is of course the only way to go. Our belief is that sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, not just promiscuous activity, but even that within a monogamous gay relationship.

    2. I don’t think it’s fair or complete to say that celibacy in the RC church has led to harmful expressions of sexuality. The incidence of such expressions by Catholic priests is I believe not significantly more than Protestant pastors or teachers or scout leaders. Better formation, a better Church, etc., are what will improve the situation, not simply ending the celibacy requirement. BTW, being Orthodox, I favour the Orthodox approach of celibacy requirement for bishops and above only.

    3. Pointing out that monogamous gay male relationships are very rare is okay – it’s true – but it’s not THE theological point in question. I agree that ‘the government or ‘the masses’ may prefer simple arguments, but it’s precisely this problem that causes people to be ‘gay-affirming’ once they get to know a couple of nice gay people. This kind of ‘simple’ is what got people homophobic in the first place! Or, in general, what makes for nominal Christianity.

  • Tom

    Hi Peter

    Me again. I posted on the other thread dealing with God Gays and the Church but I’ll repost here because I am not sure if the other thread is still live. So here goes

    Can I just ask why this thread is now split in two and the first part only comes up if you do a search? It is a pity because the arguments there from William, Boo and Winston are equally important and continuity is lost if you join the debate halfway through at A brief Review and the 14 Comments. Could you put a link back to previous comments if the whole lot can’t be joined up?

    Cheers

    Tom

  • Jill

    I hadn’t realised there was an earlier thread, and have just been back to read it.

    I am shocked at the tone of some of the comments made to Peter for contributions which are not his. This is Peter’s blog, and I am sure he expects to be answerable for his own contribution, but it is a disgrace that he should be attacked in this way.

    First of all – the picture on the cover is the Prodigal Son, by Rembrandt! Very appropriate, in the circumstances.

    Secondly, Post No 14, Boo, I think the book is charting a possible (and probable) course rather than implying that people who engage in homosexual practice also engage in these other activities. I think it’s often called the ‘Slippery Slope’. But I see that Peter has dealt very ably with this particular straw man further down.

    Next – Paul Cameron. Gay activists hate Paul Cameron. Yet his statistics are not plucked from thin air. He based his work on a number previous studies, made presumably before it became politically incorrect to do so. I have no idea how accurate they are, but even the simplest google search will show that practising homosexuals suffer from a far greater incidence of not only STDs but alcohol and drug abuse, depression, suicidal ideation etc etc, and there is an upsurge in most of these even in these ‘enlightened’ times, so perceived ‘homophobia’ cannot be blamed. It is not unreasonable to assume, therefore, that practising homosexuals, especially men, are likely to die considerably before their straight brothers, especially in areas where antiretroviral medications (or indeed condoms!)are not easily available. I would add that Dr Cameron was a peer-reviewer himself and has been peer reviewed many times. He was removed because of political pressure. Read next item on the APA. Oh that his detractors would be so critical of the appalling Kinsey with his utterly skewed data, or of James Boswell, whose shameless pro-homosexual re-writing of history is STILL used, I am told, in theological colleges! Where are the cries of outrage here?

    However, I’m glad you brought the APA up,Boo. For those who don’t know, this is the American Psychological Association, whose diagnostic and statistical manual (DSM Register) is used not just in the US but in the UK too as ‘expert evidence’ in court cases involving psychiatric conditions, so it is a powerful document. They have a name for every kind of disorder under the sun, including Explosive Disorder (occasional fits of temper), Adjustment Disorder (if you don’t adapt easily to change), or Impulse-Control Disorder if you happen to be a tidy person. Well, to cut a very long story short, they decided to remove homosexuality from the list of ‘disorders’ because of a build-up of political pressure from within and without. This was widely condemned as disgraceful, and even three quarters of the membership protested as it compromised their professional integrity, and three former APA Presidents roundly condemned it. This disgraceful decision is charted in The Trojan Couch, by Jeffrey Satinover, which just shows how powerful the gay rights lobby have become.

    http://narth.com/docs/TheTrojanCouchSatinover.pdf

    However, there is now pressure for this stupendous decision to be overturned, which it will have to be at some stage, if the psychiatric profession is to retain any credibility at all.

  • Hi Tom,

    No deliberate intent on my behalf to avoid the previous discussion. I’ve added a link at the bottom of this piece to the previous one so that all can see the full debate.

  • William

    Just a few points, Jill.

    1.

    Boo, I think the book is charting a possible (and probable) course rather than implying that people who engage in homosexual practice also engage in these other activities.

    Probable? Why? On what grounds?

    Possible? Yes, of course, but so what? Take any group of people that you care to think of: Catholics, Protestants, Jews, atheists, socialists, violinists, cricketers … and, of course, homosexuals and heterosexuals. It’s possible for any of these groups to engage “in these other activities”, and you can bet your bottom dollar that you’ll find some members of each of the aforesaid groups who do. That provides no justification whatever for condemning those groups as such.

    I think it’s often called the ‘Slippery Slope’.

    Yes, it is, and you need to be very wary indeed of using this type of argument. It can be used to justify almost any indefensible thesis. Its use in this context is illogical and irresponsible.

    2. Re Paul Cameron.

    He based his work on a number [of] previous studies.

    Yes, he did to some extent. That was what, if I remember correctly, led to his expulsion from the APA. He didn’t just use these previous studies; he distorted and misrepresented them in order to give spurious support to his own anti-gay agenda. Not surprisingly, some researchers resented their work being abused in this way. I would have done, too.

    3.

    [T]here is now pressure for this stupendous decision [i.e. to delete homosexuality from the list of disorders] to be overturned, which it will have to be at some stage, if the psychiatric profession is to retain any credibility at all.

    Will it? I think that the wish is father (or mother) to the thought. I would say it’s about as unlikely (and as undesirable) as the reinstatement of laws against heresy.

    4.

    The Church should be supporting ex-gay ministries.

    No, it shouldn’t – any more than it should be supporting psychic surgery, colour healing, astrological psychotherapy, the Bates system of “better sight without glasses”, “creation science” or any of the other seemingly endless inventions of the crank fringe.

  • winston

    William,

    I agree – the whole idea that the psychiatric profession will reverse its decision on homosexuality being a mental disorder is downright ludicrous.

    Poor Cameron – he reminds of the occasional global warming denying scientist that pops up on tv. – not long before we find out that their credibility is pretty thin with the rest of the scientific community.

    I found this interesting link on him:

    http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_cameron.html

    Peter – I think you are right. Better to stick to your biblical scholars in opposing same sex relationships – they have great credibility than your scientists. Having said this, I still think that they are wrong as do many of their fellow biblical exegetes.

  • Jill

    May I just add to my previous post that the very same new criteria used by the APA to strike homosexuality from the DSM register were subsequently applied to paedophilia. This caused such a public outcry that they quickly backpedalled, and paedophilia was reinstated as abnormal.

    I can’t help but have noticed over the last few years that nothing enrages gay activists more than bringing up negative health issues. If numerous clinical reports emerged proving that eating chocolate, for example, was a serious health risk and likely to give me various diseases and knock up to 20 years off my life expectancy I would be very sad, (gutted, in fact!) and have to consider whether or not I was prepared to take this risk, as well as examine scriptural proscription on gluttony (!) or how I might safely limit my chocolate addiction, but I would certainly not pour vitriol and venom upon the authors, or on anyone who mentioned their research. Why does it happen, then, when homosex is involved? Do people who engage in homosexual practice not want to know? Or do they not want anybody else to know? I can’t fathom this one out. Poor Dr Cameron – somebody somewhere who doesn’t like his research has said that he eats babies for breakfast and before you know it he is damned as a baby-eater. I am sure he is sincere in what he has done – why else would he do it, especially knowing how unpopular it would be? Whether he is accurate or not I have no idea, but he is certainly not wrong, as there is a mountain of evidence supporting what he reports. What motive is he suspected of, for crying out loud? How can it be malicious to point out the dangers of certain practices? I would have thought it was more malicious to keep quiet about them, and just let people die of ignorance.

    If you really want to know about activism masquerading as science, crooked statistics, skewed reporting and downright lies by those wishing to remove homosexuality from the DSM register, do read the link I posted previously, the Trojan Couch. Anything Dr Cameron has done could not hold a candle to these guys. As far as accuracy goes on homosexuality, we will never get a true figure, because sexuality is so fluid – many people drift away from, or towards, homosexual tendencies. The Bible doesn’t recognise ‘homosexual’ – there is no such thing – only homosexual practice. People are either men or women, there is no ‘third sex’, gay. There is no evidence of a gay gene, quite the reverse.

    Let me say, William, that the truth will eventually out. It has to. Lies can only be promulgated for so long. It may take a bit longer yet, as people are still in thrall to (or intimidated by) the gay lobby and still believe in the ‘gay gene’. This is okay whilst there is no penalty to them, but as soon as there is, believe me, things will change. One well-known gay writer (whose name escapes me for the moment) has also recognised this, and predicts a future banging of closet doors, whether it be because of Sharia Law or other means. There will eventually be a penalty – for instance, I think this might possibly be blood. At present the Blood Service will not accept blood donations from men who have ever had sex with men. Peter Tatchell (God bless him!) is actively campaigning against this, describing it as ‘discrimination’, which of course it is. But what will happen if he is successful, and people are forced to accept blood from gay men and start dying from AIDS from receiving contaminated blood? Lawsuits – money will be involved – people will sue – you get my drift? This may not be the issue which tips the scales, but you can be sure that there will be one, sooner or later.

    Winston, I am so sorry, I quite forgot to respond to your post, so incensed was I by the rude comments on the previous thread. If you would like a copy of the book I would be more than happy to buy one for you (perhaps Peter could broker this?). I think you should have it. Let me tell you straight away that I have a same-sex attracted family member, so I do not speak from a position of ‘prejudice’, but of concern. Also I lost a dearly loved friend and colleague to AIDS, which has had a profound effect on me.

    I have a mountain of statistics, but will post just one which I happen to have handy on the health risks of gay sex, which I think you should read.

    http://www.corporateresourcecouncil.org/white_papers/Health_Risks.pdf

    This is also an interesting read.
    http://www.canadafreepress.com/2005/bates060805.htm

    Winston, nobody in the Church is advocating smoking and drinking. Changing Attidude is not trying to change Christian teaching on these matters. It does break my heart, that people die from addictions.

    As for Civil Partnerships, they contain no vows of fidelity – they are by signature only – their principal aim being to gain extra fiscal benefits. You can enter a CP and then go and do exactly what you want. Positive gay legislation is giving a green light signal to youngsters that sexual experimentation is an okay thing to do. Try gay, try straight. Whatever turns you on. This is likely to have disastrous consequences.

    Nobody should be expelled from church. The ground is level at the foot of the cross (another thing my granny used to say). We just have to recognise that we are all sinners in need of redemption, and must lay our sins before God and ask for forgiveness, NOT insist that our sins are not sinful after all.

    It seems, Winston, that you read things which feed you, but not things which nourish you. There is plenty of material, which I could send you if you want it.

    My last church I left because of the new ‘inclusive’ vicar who overturned 5000 years of Judaeo/Christian teaching in favour of his new version. As to not promoting promiscuity – well, as gay relationships are rarely monogamous, then I think promiscuity has to be accepted. A pity us heterosexuals don’t have that luxury! (Chance would be a fine thing, some of us might say!)

    AIDS in Africa is a huge subject. I don’t mind taking this on, but it needs a long thread of its own.

    If you have read Andrew Goddard and are not impressed by his ‘best case’ scenario, then there is not much I can say.

    I am not playing games, Winston. I don’t just have one or two statistics, I actually have hundreds. I don’t know if you want healing, that is true. You describe yourself as a happy homosexual, and I hope that you are, (happy, that is) but as you revealed in an earlier post that you have sought healing I am not so sure. I am just very sorry that it did not work, but great strides have been made in recent years and there are a lot of people on your side (including me!). The Living Waters team would, I am sure, be happy to guide you, but first you have to put your trust in God.

  • winston

    Dear Jill,

    It seems to me that discussion between us is futile.

    In the end, I begin to wonder if we worship the same God – you may feel the same about me. Certainly, as a priest, I think if people of your tradition were to lead my church, everyone would leave.

    Also, your demonisation and overt sexualisation of homosexuality seems to me to be deeply offensive. Your worse case scenario is not only widely fantastical, but also seems to be scare-mongering of the worst type. Anyway, let them kill us, I say, but they will be killing a lot of other people with us – including many of our friends and family who would not want to live in world where people kill other people because they might be ill.

    Ultimately your posts make me think of Carter Heyward’s great book ‘Saving Jesus from those who think they are Right.’ I will continue to work hard to help my congregation, and the students that I teach, to do this, but I think you are too far gone and you do not want healing-salvation anyway.

    So, no more posts for me in relationship to our conversation.

    Winston.

    PS. If you think this is because I cannot answer you, so be it. Tiredness, and lack of energy and the utter futility of it all are the real reasons, and ultimately you just seem obsessed with homosexuality, and being human seems more important to me.

  • Tom

    Thanks Peter

    Without wishing to get into the whole “gays breed disease” thing something just struck me in a post above: “I am sure he is sincere in what he has done”. Really? Well that’s all right then. Now we can give a perfect alibi for Hitler: “At least he believed the Jews were hurting the German economy” or some such bilge. It’s called demonisation and it is usually accompanied by slippery slopes, probablilities and all the other generalisations and universal applications Winston has ably noted. Another word is scapegoating. It is worth reading René Girard on the subject of religious scapegoating – a necessary impetus in the religious psyche; once it was Christ, then the Jews, now it seems to be the gays.

  • Hi Tom,

    Sorry for the delay in answering – your comment got posted just before my holiday.

    I agree that sincerity is not a valid excuse for anything, but equally that doesn’t discount someone’s research either. I’m concerned that some of the criticism of Cameron’s work (and remember I too criticise it) comes less from statistical concerns and more from knee-jerk refusal to accept his conclusions.

  • CM

    Peter,

    it’s good to see a review and discussion of ‘God, Gays and the church’, which I’ve also read.

    Re: choice of articles for the book, I’d say there were too many American ones, and too many by Nicolosi. There are a number of psychologists and psychiatrists out there over the years who have helped people with unwanted homosexual attraction. It would have been good, for example, to have had a piece mentioning the work of Anna Freud and Melanie Klein, two prominent figures in psychoanalytic therapy, in helping men leave behind unwanted homosexual attraction,
    and also the omission of anything about the British psychiatrist Frank Lake’s extensive work in helping Christian men with unwanted homosexual attraction. Lake said back in the 1960s that pastoral training for British clergy could not afford to overlook homosexuality, by which he meant healing from unwanted homosexuality.

    Perhaps I am asking too much in asking for a review of British/European work on homosexuality, but it would be really helpful because the cultural assumptions are different than in the USA. It’s struck me recently that a possible problem with the ex-gay movement is that it originated in the USA, and as a result has a tendency towards Pelagianism of sorts – you can get healed if you really want to. European countries, particularly Britain, have the oppposite problem, of tending towards moral fatalism:
    nothing can be done, and of lacking the goal-oriented mentality that pervades American culture.

    the article ‘An older, wiser ex-gay movement’ in Christianity Today recently does suggest that some people have shifted away from naive Pelagianism, hopefully to a more ‘Augustinian’ position.