What’s the Divide?

A great little bit of research from the Gay Christian Network.

Posted in Sexuality
  • Peter Den Haan

    Are the headings in the video the questions that were actually asked? For example, “Can gays become straight?” could be read as (1) “Do you believe that every gay person could become straight if they wanted?” or, alternatively, as the rather different (2) “Do you think God may answer some people praying to be free from unwanted same-sex attraction?” This might shed some light on the 69% of orthodox Christians answering “Yes” (1:10 into the video).

    I trawled GCN’s website for the actual study but couldn’t find it. Am I missing something?

    Some sobering statistics in there regardless. There’s clearly some work to do whatever side of the debate you might find yourself on.

    • I think that’s a very good question Peter. Let me ask Justin and see what he says.

      P+

    • Fiddlesticks

      I had similar questions. Though he did address the problem of definition at the end. Although I’d have said that Christians tend to see ‘gay’ as a label that people use to self-identify rather than necessarily behaviour – it’s the question of whether you should self-identify that way if your a Christian that celibate Christians seem to be debating.

      Another big question was the ‘are people born gay?’ question. Not even all gay people agree on that. It doesn’t mean that it’s a choice either. And then there’s the are ALL people born gay or are there different factors question.

      I think it’s great that Justin is trying to have this conversation, though. He’s in a unique position to do it. Unfortunately, most LGBTQ education goes something like ‘let us tell you what’s going on and you have to listen and if anybody else comes along with a different story we’ll shout about how offended we are’. I know, I’m terribly cynical, but I find LGBTQ organisations (not Justin’s) to be awful bullies towards their own who don’t tie the line. A bit like the feminists who seem to despise most women because they don’t completely fit their radical ideology.

    • Joe_R6

      You might be right but overall this video sums up what I have experienced. Christians and gay people talk past each other most of the time.

      • Peter Den Haan

        Not surprised. Certainly the video highlighted some ways we talk past one another that I hadn’t given much thought so far.

      • Fiddlesticks

        Actually, I think it missed out a really big way in which Christians and gay people talk past one another.

        Q. What defines a gay relationship?

        Gay answer: Love. How the two people go about expressing that love sexually isn’t very important and doesn’t differ much from most heterosexual relationships.

        Christian answer: Sex. There’s nothing wrong with two men or two women loving one another, but when the Bible says ‘love your neighbour’ it means ‘agape’ love. Sex is designed to be between a man and a woman who are married.

        The reason we are where we’re at now with cases going to court and Christian conscience dismissed as a smoke screen for homophobia is because the gay answer makes perfect sense in our secular culture, whereas the Christian answer tends to produce a ‘WTF?’ response.

        • Joe_R6

          I’m not aware that gay people differ so much on the definition of a relationship. If two guys are a “couple”, then sex is part (but by no means all) of the story. It’s often an issue of privacy. Not all gay people want to talk about sex. Straight people (and Christians) often step over a courtesy line when talking about gay relationships. They jump from “gay” to “gay sex” – partly because they do not realise that gay people restrict the definition of “gay” to the orientation.

          • Fiddlesticks

            That’s just what I said. For gay people the sex isn’t that important, but for Christians the sex, and the sex of the people involved is crucially important.

            Gay people react angrily when the ‘courtesy line’ is stepped over and say ‘you don’t see me as a human being. you see me as sex on a stick!’ But what they’re failing to understand is that sexual morality and it’s boundaries for Christians isn’t defined by how we feel (gay or straight), and we can’t just overlook these things – no matter how small a part of the relationship.

            At some point we’ve got to stop saying ‘this is all the Christians’ fault – they should be more understanding’ – and recognise that Christians are being defensive because the rest of society has become very insensitive and ignorant (ugly word, but people insist on using it) about the things that Christians cherish.

            • Joe_R6

              Sorry – I thought you were implying that some gay couples deny the sexual component to their relationships – rather than just compartmentalising it.

              • Fiddlesticks

                Oh, I see what you mean. Yes, just to clarify, I mean they don’t see the differences between their sex life and those of heterosexuals as being significant. Eg. More heterosexuals have anal intercourse – some gay couples don’t at all. Lots of of heterosexuals have sex even though they can’t or have no intention of having children.

  • The divide is between the body and the mind. The body is a God-given gift. The body cannot be changed. This can be seen as a limitation but is actually a gift since, if we could physically be whatever we wanted to be, it would in fact be impossible to know what we are. Instead, we know we are made male and female. We all have a “heterosexual” body.
    If we are, say, a female who experiences sexual desire towards other females, has God “made us gay”? The God-given body says No. The human mind says Yes. If mind and body are in opposition, which should be our source of authority? Are we what God has made us to be, or are we what we will ourselves to be? If we are what we will ourselves to be, we can be anything. If we can be anything, we are nothing.
    The body is our God-given reference point. It allows us to be something, rather than nothing.

    • Peter Den Haan

      Is this divorce of “body” and “mind” biblical, though? So much of our mental framework still owes more to Plato than to Jesus or even Paul. My own stab at a biblical answer would be that, if mind and body are in opposition, we are looking at a fundamental brokenness in one’s humanity.

      Put differently, to suggest that the “body” should have authority over the “mind” in this situation is (1) to drive an artificial wedge in our createdness as human beings, and (2) to treat the physical world as a purer, more reliable expression of God’s will than our will and emotion, whereas in reality both are suffering the effects of the Fall (Rom 8:22, etc).

      • It’s a matter of relationships, Peter: what is the nature of the relationship between body and mind? If we were body with no mind, we would not know we had a body. If we were mind with no body, we would have no limits – we would not know what we were. The body and mind are different, and it is their difference that allows us to know that we exist. The physical world cannot be “purer” since it is only the mind that allows us to know that there is a physical world :) I am simply pointing out that when body and mind are not in harmony, it is the unchanging, unchangeable nature of the body that allows us to know that the disharmony is coming from the mind. That doesn’t mean that the body is “superior”. It’s just a recognition that the body/mind relationship is non-symmetrical.

        • Peter Den Haan

          We’re straying into somewhat esoteric territory that’s pretty tangential to Peter’s blog post, so I’ll say something briefly and leave it at that; tell me where I’m going wrong. It seems to me that the moment you speculate about a “mind with no body”, you have already exchanged biblical categories for a neoplatonic framework.

          But let’s accept this framework for argument’s sake. Why should we say that the mind is at fault? What is so unchangeable about the body? All of creation is fallen. Is the mind any less God-given than the body is? Maybe I was always meant to be female, but had the misfortune that in this broken world a gamete with an Y chromosome elbowed in at conception, and things went downhill from there.

          No, I don’t expect you to buy that. I don’t actually think that’s true either. But I do so not on the basis of a platonic division of body and soul (or mind), nor even on the basis of a scriptural argument. It is my limited, materialistic understanding of human development that would lead me to agree with you. Which makes me a bit circumspect about my own dogmatism on this.

          • Romans 1:24 “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural,”

            The created body exchanged for the creature’s mind. That is central to Peter’s post. Are we created, or is the creature its own creation? Duality is a misunderstanding of body and mind. The proper understanding is that body and mind have a relationship. Duality is at odds with the Bible. Relationality is a proper understanding, which is why it is in accord with the Bible. Paul said that men and women served their own minds, instead of respecting their created body. If we are our minds, then we have no nature, and nothing can be unnatural. The very fact that Paul recognises unnaturalness shows that we have a fixed physical nature. Give me Paul over Plato any day :)

    • Guglielmo Marinaro

      ‘We all have a “heterosexual” body.’

      No, we haven’t. Human bodies are either male or female (with a small number of exceptions which don’t fit into this binary classification). My body is male, but it isn’t a heterosexual body, with or without the inverted commas. Why? Not because I am in fact homosexual, because there is no such thing as a heterosexual body, any more that there is such a thing as a homosexual body.

      • Guglielmo, the concept of Homosexuality could not even exist without the pre-existing physical reality of the heterosexual body.

        • Guglielmo Marinaro

          gentlemind, without the pre-existing physical reality of male and female bodies neither the concept of heterosexuality nor that of homosexuality could exist. The idea that we have HETEROSEXUAL bodies, on the other hand, is nothing but a bizarre fantasy. I don’t suppose that it does too much harm, if it keeps you amused.

          • It’s an interesting division isn’t it, based around natural law. Are human bodies created intrinsically for heterosexual coitus or not. So it’s less a matter of saying bodies are heterosexual and rather saying that bodies are created for heterosexuality.

            • Guglielmo Marinaro

              Well, whether or not one agrees with that – and I don’t entirely – it certainly makes sense, whereas “gentlemind’s” assertion that we all have heterosexual bodies makes none at all.

              • Fiddlesticks

                For me, feeling comfortable about my body and how it works – including pregnancy, but not just that – is more important to me than who I’m attracted to. And I’ve suffered from depression and eating disorders. I’ve found that somehow these things are connected at some deep level, but I couldn’t fully explain to you how.

                But as to have a ‘heterosexual body’, I’ve got to say, Gentlemind is shooting over my head here. I’ve never thought of my body as being heterosexual or homosexual. I think it’s a bit reductionist to think of our bodies solely in terms of sexual attraction.

                • It is reductive unless, male and female are more than a bodily dichotomy of sexual attraction, but as scripture indicates, a fundamental aspect of the divine ordering of our earthly humanity.

                  The heterosexual purpose of genitalia in culminating sexual union is as self-evident as the revelation of God’s supreme power and transcendence through nature. This is why St. Paul, in Romans 1, identifies homosexual acts as the final stage of mankind’s idolatrous rejection of self-evident divine order. It is ‘against nature’: para phusis.

                  • Fiddlesticks

                    I think we need to define this better. If by saying that the body is ‘heterosexual’ we mean that it’s designed for sex with the opposite sex, then I’d agree with you (though I’m sure Guglielmo would disagree). But if we’re using ‘heterosexual’ and ‘homosexual’ in the way that it’s commonly used in current language to mean desire, I’m with Guglielmo. It makes no sense to talk about a ‘heterosexual body’.

                    • To be exact, even if the purpose of part of the body is the self-evident purpose of heterosexual union, as you emphasise, the body is designed for a lot more than sex. So, defining the body as heterosexual, or homosexual is reductive.

                      The danger that St. Paul recognises is that sex culminates in acts of mutual bodily surrender to each other. Even in a fairly indiscriminate encounter, it can engender a deep level of mental and emotional coordination between morally mismatched partners. The body could even become the willing extremity of a prostitute. If any relationship is out of harmony with God’s self-evident purpose, for Christians who should know better, the sexual act becomes more intentionally and suicidally counter-redemptive than any other:

                      ‘Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
                      Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Cor 6:15 – 20)

            • Yes, which is why I put the word Heterosexual in inverted commas. Heterosexuality pertains to sexual difference, and sexual difference is not present in individuals, only relationships. When it comes to the sexual identity of our bodies, our bodies themselves are defined in relation to the bodies of other people. That’s pretty much how we know the identity of anything: when we say what something is, we are really saying what it is not. Did Adam know he was Human before the creation of Eve? Yes. Did he know he was Male?? Males are able to know they are male, because they are able to know they are not female. Ever body is sexually define-able in relation to the other sex. So, our bodies are indeed heterosexual, since they exist in relation to a different sex.

  • I had a Facebook chat with Justin (GCN) yesterday and they’re going to publish some more details about the survey shortly. Yes, it is a convenience sample but it’s still very interesting.