Sunday, 11 March 2007

reactions so far to GB SORs

Updated

The Telegraph reported their publication, Labour faces fresh battle over gay rights

The Daily Mail had Law to put gay rights ahead of religion

According to both these reports, the Church of England spokesperson said:

“As Ruth Kelly’s statement acknowledges, these regulations raise ‘complex issues about how to reconcile competing rights and freedoms’. The Government has gone some way to recognising the particular needs of churches and other religious organisations to act in accordance with their own convictions.

“We shall, however, want to study the regulations closely before commenting in more detail. It is a matter of regret that the decision to create new law in this way without going through the normal procedure for Parliamentary Bills means that the regulations will not have the full scrutiny that sensitive matters of this kind require.”

Faithworks welcomed them in this press release: Faithworks welcomes the publication of draft Sexual Orientation Regulations. An extract:

Faithworks welcomes the publication of the draft Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) as an attempt to ensure that goods and services are delivered inclusively and in non-discriminatory ways.

We stand by the statements we have previously made on the SORs (www.faithworks.info) and are confident that they do not pose a threat to Christians.

It is right that any organisation receiving public funds should deliver services to genuine public benefit. A commitment to diversity does not mean losing one’s distinctive faith identity: it actually presents an opportunity to develop a dialogue and demonstrate Christian love and service.

There is still a great deal of misinterpretation of the SORs, which is leading to fear and opposition. However, the draft legislation includes clear exemptions for faith-based organisations relating to doctrine, and government ministers have also publicly answered questions of concern over the scope of the proposed SORs.

We acknowledge the different contributions and views of the whole Christian church to the issue of human sexuality. The Faithworks membership is drawn from across the spectrum of the church. Our approach to the SORs and to Equality & Diversity legislation allows for Christian views of sexuality whilst encouraging unconditional love and service. This is the Jesus model: defending a person’s human rights does not involve endorsing their lifestyle choices.

Lawyers Christian Fellowship (LCF), the Evangelical Alliance, Care and the Christian Institute did not do so, New gay rules attacked from Religious Intelligence/CEN

The Evangelical Alliance issued Response to the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007

The Christian Institute said New ‘gay rights’ regulations put religious freedom in jeopardy and also a briefing note in a very smart PDF format.

CARE’s response is in a Word document here.

The Lawyers Christian Fellowship has a press release titled GOVERNMENT PUBLISH LANDMARK INTOLERANT LEGISLATION SETTING GROUND FOR CLASH OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

Giles Fraser writing for Ekklesia commented on these attitudes: Giving fundamentalism a secular boost

The National Secular Society has Government Stands Up For Equality, Forcing Religious to Back Down

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 11 March 2007 at 7:23am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: equality legislation
Comments

This follows a well established pattern.

1. Government announces gay rights legal reforms to bring equality for gay and lesbian people
2. Conservative Christian groups oppose changes, usually saying that they 'do not support discrimination' in the case of the more wishy-washy of them. Various outlandish suggestions are made as to the outcomes of this legislation
3. Government passes the legal changes
4. The world carries on, and none of the outcomes follow through
5. Everyone else gets on with life and conservative Christians continue to fulminate. Only their words appear ever more hollow and hysterical because few care about their obsessions.

Posted by: Merseymike on Sunday, 11 March 2007 at 10:30am GMT

Quite a bit of spinning has been going on here.

The regs do seem to allow a much broader religious exemption than was originally proposed, notably along the lines requested by the Church of England.

You wouldn't think so from the reactions of the Church of England and as for the 'usual suspects' LCF, EA, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph etc they could have written their reaction 12 months ago (and in fact porbably did).

Let's not forget where LCF are coming from.

They were against the Equality Act in the first place. They were against Civil Partnerships. They were against the Gender Recognition Act.

They put advice on their website to employers on ways they could sidestep the employment equality legislation.

They were against the removal of section 28 and against the equalisation of the age of consent. No doubt they still are against all of these things.

It's their worldview that dictates these extreme positions (however sincerely they are held) and sheds not a little light on the situation in Nigeria at the moment. It's all of a piece.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Sunday, 11 March 2007 at 3:42pm GMT

Helpful analysis of this emerging pattern from mm.

How they fail to realise that they alienate people form religion heaven only knows.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Sunday, 11 March 2007 at 3:46pm GMT

Laurence,

I have to say that I don't think I have ever when involved in public evangelism been told by someone that they have been put off Christianity because of our position on homosexuality.

Posted by: dave williams on Sunday, 11 March 2007 at 8:10pm GMT

I think that it is a case of religion alienating people from God.

Meanwhile we here in the USA bring freedom by amendments to our state constitutions that guarantee the right of organized religion to forbid civil unions of LGBT people.

Makes you proud. Bravo United Kingdom!

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Sunday, 11 March 2007 at 8:32pm GMT

Basically, the exemptions are those which apply to internal church matters, but not in the public sphere.
That seems entirely reasonable, and it will further mark out the church as a place for gay people to permanently avoid.

Posted by: Merseymike on Sunday, 11 March 2007 at 8:52pm GMT

Giles Fraser wrote "...fundamentalists... are (not) really threatened by... aggressive atheism - indeed that helps secure a sense of persecution that is essential to group solidarity - but the sort of robustly self-critical faith that knows the Bible and the church's traditions, and can challenge bad religion on its own terms. Fundamentalists hate what they see as the enemy within."

It reminds me of misogynists who denounce women. The look for and see the bad in women and see every decent thing as merely whitewashing or manipulative. They find women hating or avoiding them; so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Behave in a hateful manner towards a certain group and brag about your conduct. Surprise, surprise members of that group don't respect you and when your abuse gets too bad, organise ways to curtail your aggression.

There is a paradigm that anything that challenges their group thinking is evil. That paradigm makes them incredibly vulnerable to developing complacent or destructive forms of theology.

The organism has evolved to protect itself. The organism has lost the higher ability to ask if it is healthy or to recognise how it impacts on its environment. Similarly, the organism has abdicated responsibility by being silent and allowing entrenched poverty, war, deceipt, greed and oppression to be seen as inevitable and even desirable (if it is done to your "enemies" aka "sinners").

They have relied on the more ethically responsible forms of theology being discredited as "too utopian" or "insane". They have relied on controlling the means of communication so that their slander and oppression of the more ethical strains of Christianity (and ditto for the other faiths) was drowned out by the deceitful voices of power and oppression.

They have shown that they will use vulnerable souls as hostages. They have shown that they will collude to destroy or maim alternatives. They have shown that they are predatory. They have shown no remorse. They take up the legitimate perspectives (e.g. the Millenium Development Goals) but still refuse to take up that their culture is destructive. There is still no appeal mechanism for souls being abused or suppressed by church authorities.

I am pleased that the secular state have done this. God knows, the churches wouldn't have done it for themselves; even though things will go better for the churches and their parishioners for it having been done.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Sunday, 11 March 2007 at 9:33pm GMT

All of this suggests a new question: Are extreme religious believers the true, new drama queans? Now, please, someone suggest we refer this question for study to the Anglican Chicken Little Institute, funded by the USA religious right?

If we feed the queers food from Christian bed and breakfast operators, they will only get fatter; every zoo visitor knows that. Being Anglican=No Peanuts for Queer Animals.

And: Just what have all those hysterical Christian lawyers been doing in the cool of the dark night that they are afraid they cannot do, once the SOR's are enacted into law? Hmmmmmm?

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 11 March 2007 at 10:01pm GMT

Dear Merseymike and Laurence. As Faithworks said "defending a person’s human rights does not involve endorsing their lifestyle choices." In fact if you read what most people (even the more conservative evangelicals) actually said, you will see that nearly 100% are against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in provision of general goods and services. If you don't believe me, read the government's own review of the consultation responses again... 97% or respondents said that they were generally in favour of the anti-discrimination regulations, yet well over 60% were from religious people (or at least on religious themes) and were asking for greater examptions for religious people and activities in certain areas.

Nearly all services don't indicate approval of homosexuality, or anything else, and so were no real issue to 97% of the respondents! The issue is really about narrow areas where Christians, or Christian organisations, will be obliged to behave as if they affirm and approve of same-sex sexuality. The trouble is, I guess, that many people do not want Christians, or anyone else, speaking or acting as if there is anything wrong with homosexuality. I would go so far as to say that many campaigners wanted (and have to some extent been given) laws that discriminate against moral views that they find repugnant.

The Morality that most Christians want to be free to uphold is not the same as discrimination.

Posted by: Dave on Sunday, 11 March 2007 at 10:18pm GMT

ps Merseymike wrote "4. The world carries on, and none of the outcomes follow through". Generally (not specifically on "gay rights") I would say that conservative Christians' warnings on sexual liberation have proven right. Booming relationship breakdown, massive STD rates, poor childhoods etc etc can all be laid at the feet of the liberal "sexual revolution". I wonder how much worse things are going to have to get before people realise that they should stop asking "how can we address these problems" and start asking "how can we stop creating these problems"!

Posted by: Dave on Sunday, 11 March 2007 at 10:25pm GMT

Dave,

I think one of the ways is to stop stressing sex and start emphasizing relationship. I remember reading an article back in '97 about dating among teenagers. The artical bemoaned the fact that teen-agers were having sex outside of marriage. Their solution - lower the age requiring parental consent so that these children would then be having sex within marriage.

We need to stop seeing sex as the root of all evil and start on focusing on the good in it and the situations/circumstances that promote that good.

The Anglican Church of Canada's Primates Theological Commission has put out some interesting papers on marriage and sexuality. I think they are a step in the right direction.

Posted by: Ann Marie on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 12:21am GMT

Nowadays, conservative views of human sexuality offer us a vexed and impoverished choice - between the gritted teeth and cold baths of traditional celibacy unless you are straight and married and making babies, and MTV-type gangsta rap booty calls.

But there are other, alternative views about just how to be healthy in one's sexuality without necessarily falling into either extreme's narrow trap of self-fulfilling prophecies. Indeed, discerning minds and hearts will sense the hidden connects between the traditional celibacy/married valences (which denigrate all except one form of ordained sexuality) and the gangsta rap stuff which makes it all meaningless because Anything Goes. From alternative points of view, we are hardly surprised that the Roman Catholics blew a tire in the horrors of the church child abuse scandals, because after all their teachings do not have much to say about sexuality except: Just say no. (And so be a good boy or girl.)

One clue is abstain from patriarchy and get equal and mutual.

Another clue is pay attention to lifelong biopsychosocial development as embodiment unfolds, ever sexual, ever erotic. In the best senses.

Another clue is tease out your potty training mores and customs from sexuality, and maybe try to exhaustively apply all the regular ethical frameworks and cases before you turn to a specialized sexual ethics.

The shift is still emerging. Not beholden to either end of the simplified conservative Either/Or. Alas. Don't conservatives ever pause to wonder why everything important only comes in two high-minded colors, good=white, and bad=black?

Posted by: drdanfee on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 1:20am GMT

"how can we stop creating these problems"! Dave

Ask Akinola because he simply endorses throwing some Christian/Anglicans and their loved ones/family in jail to be sodomized and/or murdered if they want to live in/have a committed relationship!

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 3:21am GMT

Dave Williams

People are not likely to tell you in public evangelising that they are put off by your position on homosexuality.

There are very few people who will air their private concerns in a public forum with strangers. The souls who do it are usually of the more flamboyant and extroverted nature, and you would avoid them because they are so obviously gay and proud of it.

Usually the people who are put off are the ones you never seem to quite be able to engage in a conversation in the first place, they move out of range too quickly and subtly for you to even start.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 10:15am GMT

'...that conservative Christians' warnings on sexual liberation have proven right. Booming relationship breakdown....'
dave

And yet all this is 'booming' among the families of 'conserative Christians'. A lot of divorce and re-marriage -- ask George Carey. Or any other 'conserative Christian' leader or minister of a congregation.

It saddens me that instead of facing human sexuality and people's xex lives on the ground, it all has to be hidden away. So that there can be no open sharing, no real reflection , and ahrd to ask for or receive help or support. But then it all breaks down --or perhaps 'break through' would be a better term---when a conservative evangelical pastor is shopped by a 'rent boy' with a conscience,or RC priests are investigated by the police for sex with minors;or a minister 'runs away' with someone's else's husband or wife; or sex enters the public sphere in some unplanned and stressful way.

Hypocricy and deception ultimately wrecks lives.

Many young people (and others) think "if they can't be trusted on relationships and sex ---what on earth can the Church be trusted on ?" Not spirituality surely ? If they get relationships, the body and sex wrong, then you have lost out on spirituality also. Spirituality cannot be divorced from the life of heart and body.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 1:11pm GMT

Cheryl,

1. I'm not talking about internet public forum discussion but the regular opportunities through personal friendship evangelism, door knocking, questionnaires etc

2. You assume that people don't say why they don't want to become Christians. There are many reasons why someone might have been put off/or chosen not to become Christians -my personal assessment is that "gay rights" don't register on the scale

Posted by: dave williams on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 4:15pm GMT

Cheryl,

Furthermore, no, neither I, nor many of the conservative evangelicals I know would avoid the "flamboyant, extraverted people who are "obviosly gay and proud of it." Incidently, I don't think that being flamboyant/etrovert neccessarily means you are any more comfortable with your sexuality.

Posted by: dave williams on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 4:20pm GMT

May I suggest to Dave that the Christian Lawyers position in relation to conscientious objections to sexual equality ("biblically based") parallels that of those who objected on grounds of religious conscience to racial equality ("biblically based")? I also hope that it meets with the same end, that is to be totally unacceptable socially, morally, ethically, and intellectually. Perhaps then those who claim the 'theological high ground' will realise what low ground they actually inhabit and change their ways.

I am amazed that those whose professional training is in Common Law and precedence seem unable to recognise the similarity of these positions. There are many 'untrained' minds in the general public who have seen this parallel and it has opened for them a new way of thinking and understanding sexuality and equality.

Posted by: Anglicanus on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 5:21pm GMT

Anglicanus
There is chasm of difference bewteen racial equality and sexual equality socially, morally, ethically and intellectually. I am constantly amazed that folk seem to lump the two together without discriminating between the two as they inhabit two differing planes of reality. A lot more work and listening has got to take place in precisely this area. For a start sexual ethics is rooted in behaviour in a way that racial issues are not. I know I am going to be slain by this tolerant, open-minded website for saying that but as yet my LGBT friends still need to make a case for positively identifying themselves with the race issue..the two issues although superficillay the same are in fact distinct.

Posted by: Athos on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 6:32pm GMT

Hello again, Athos,
Given that sexuality is as innate as colour why do you not see a moral parallel?
Now that we understand that sexuality is not a behavioural choice as formerly thought, but something we're born with that defines our whole personhood, we have to adjust our ethics accordingly.
I think we no longer have to make a case for positively identifying ourselves with the race issue. It's really up to you to explain why you believe that modern psychology and science should not change our way of thinking.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 6:55pm GMT

Dave W

I am glad to hear that you would not avoid the flamboyant souls.

The disclosure on avoiding churches due to their stance on homosexuality is still valid. For example in the last month, a friend's 19-year old son has just "come out", to both his parents surprise. If he hadn't told his parents, do you think he would tell a stranger? Another acquaintance found out only last week that his flat mate of the last year or so is gay (the first boyfriend stayed over while he was there). Do you think this person, who with-held information from a flat mate would have shared it with you? It is naive to think that people share their deeper concerns or issues frankly on an early or initial encounter.

In fact, this belief that your core issues should be in a commercial script regurgitated at the first opportunity is seen as vulgar. This is one meaning of term "ugly American" (although it can apply to people of other nations too :-)). It is why some people are not respected in more modest countries, their frankness is seen as uncouth, their attempts to share information seen as presumptuous. Also, such souls are seen as opportunistic and insincere in such cultures. Their questions after modest souls' welfare seen as insincere white washing and there is no trust that they are there for the long haul. There is a belief that their support is will-of-the-wisp and will dissipate at the first strong wind or chance to make a bigger profit elsewhere.

The sad thing is that the brash people are unaware that the quiet people hold them in disrespect or don't trust them.

One of the healings that came from the SE Asian Tsunami was an awareness that Australians "really did care" about them, as blurted out by the Indonesian leader on the PMs first visit to ravaged Aceh. Mind you, the uncouth have done a lot to dissipate that since then by being inconsiderate of the Indonesians' feelings and priorities whenever a political swaggering opportunity comes there way.

The same dynamic applies to churches. We do welfare and say we care about you, but if there is a chance to swagger, then stuff the feelings of the vulnerable (e.g. orphans). Then you complain that we don't trust you? Duh.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 8:27pm GMT

Those who say there is no parallel between race and sexual orientation are somewhat wide of the mark.

One parallel is that both groups face discrimination, prejudice and harassment and therefore should be given equal protections.

While sexual orientation probably is innate for most people (the vast majority of either gay or straight people don't seem to have to work very hard to maintain their sexual orientation - it seems to come naturally to most people!) that itself is not the point and we shouldn't spend too long debating it.

In UK law, and in most European law, religious belief is given identical protection from discrimination; clearly religious belief isn't an innate characteristic, yet we protect it from discrimination in both employment and goods and services (from April 30th at any rate) - we don't demand people change their religion to avoid discrimination.

And quite rightly - we protect the things about people that are important to them and their lives, their ability to do well in the world.

Unfortunately though the religious seem to be the one group in society that believe in protections against discrimination for themselves, whilst being at pains to lobby for the ability to discriminate against and deny legal protections to other groups.

From the point of view of the State all are equal. If you choose a religious view that pleases you and makes you inferior that's your choice and should be respected, but the government has no business making its own citizens inferior just because a given religious worldview - however vocal and raucus they are, and so therefore accords them equality of treatment, equality before the law.

It's a precious thing that religious zealots will never comprehend.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 8:43pm GMT

Dave (as in Wiliams);

I don't see how your replies really answer the issue. My gay friends and acquaintances 'know' that there are Respectable reasons for not being a Christian - ie ones which will produce, at worst, a quick blather from Holy Writ about intellectual matters ("The fool hath said in his heart, 'There is no God'" sort of thing) which do not touch on personhood and identity - will see off the God-botherer quite nicely without having to run the risk of being taken to task for one's perceived moral shortcomings. It takes a brave soul to risk moral opprobrium (especially in the light of the more bizarre pronouncements of Anglican Primates equating homosexuality with sexual abuse and with murder): hence the presenting objection will only rarely be the genuine one. When you actually talk with gays who know you're not out to score cheap points a very different impression comes through.

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 9:54pm GMT

Hi Erika
I guess its because I am unconvinced that modern psychology and science have proved anywhere near as much as you claim.

Posted by: Athos on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 10:55pm GMT

"... socially, morally, ethically and intellectually."

mmmmm, synonyms...

;=)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 1:28am GMT

dave williams, you say that "my personal assessment is that "gay rights" don't register on the scale" of why people don't become Christians...

my personal experience is that for LGBT people who have left the church or don't want to become Christian, our perceived and real attitudes towards homosexuality are probably the main reasons they made their choice. of course, for the general population, Christian attitudes towards homosexuality aren't usually at the top of the scale.

Posted by: Weiwen on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 2:24am GMT

The obvious empirical parallels between racial characteristics and sexual orientation are fairly obvious as posters assert.

One similarity is, indeed, the full force of prejudice, stigma, and subtle or gross discrimination which is used to hinder one from resources or opportunities to which one would otherwise be granted access, if only one were .... fill in the blank? White, straight, male, English-speaking, middle class or richer, ...

A second similarity is the intractability of color, rather similarly durable in fact as is sexual orientation. Stories of people who become ex-gays rather neatly run similar to old - and now almost forgotten - race stories about people of color who for some reason - lightness of skin? facial features? - could pass as white. To this day, color rankings persist, along with ethnicity feature rankings - rather as to this day, one reads how highly straight-acting appearances and behaviors are highly regarded, either by straight people who like being protected from stark differences and/or by non-straight people who are bearing sufficient stigma that they may feel they cannot bear even one iota more that might be loaded upon them if they failed to appear and act, straight.

Thirdly, we come to two aspects of values and spirit. One needs to live one's innate embodiment as something more than a dirty occasion of sin or of Total Human Depravity. Think Imago Dei.

The older associations of skin color with dirt are obvious, and quite painful. Just go back and read the things that whites said and wrote - into essays, articles, everyday speech, public policy, and law and religion - about people of color. We now have almost completely forgotten the vigorous narratives of how dirty and cursed by God people of color were presumed to be, based on scripture and on long-standing traditions. Jack Rogers book, for one, offers a review. Not pretty.

The old associations of not being straight with dirt are equally strong, if not these days for the moment, stronger. The scriptural and traditional bases for negatively defining people who are not straight are being loudly preached among us still, as the only possible godly opinion.

As with race and equality and human community, we are yet again being solemnly instructed that any change will simply bring the cosmos and all possibilities of morality down upon our heads like a fallen house of sin.

Posted by: drdanfee on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 2:55am GMT

Erika wrote "...sexuality is not a behavioural choice..."

I have to admit that I find this to not be so clear cut. I rather think as human beings being on continuum. Sex drive being very high for some people and very low in others with the most tending towards the middle.

Simlarly, homosexuality probably follows a bell curve, I know some men who simply cringe at the idea of having sex with a woman, but others are comfortable either way and their attraction also takes into account personality and circumstances.

It is possible to call on all souls to be celibate, it's just that some souls are going to find it easier to do than others. It is hypocrisy for a priesthood who allows its priests to marry so they can safely satisfy their sexual urges to then deny it to another group.

The really messy part is to do with mutual consent and respect. The sex needs to be entered into by two fully informed and consenting adults. We need to have that caveat, or we say that sex in all circumstances is okay e.g. rape or pedophilia or abuse of the intellectually disabled. I don't think either camp would like that extreme.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 8:18am GMT

Weiven

The issue about making a stand on homosexuality/GLBTs is not constricted to the affected souls alone.

I know of many people who shun the churches because of the mistreatment or implications for their aunts, uncles, brothers, sistersm daughtersm sons, close friends or even previous marriage partners.

The thing I ask myself is what would I do if any of my children turned out to be gay? What would I want for them? How would God want me to treat them?

God would want me to love them, God would want me to want them to be happy, God would want me to continue to invite them to family gatherings, Christmas and weddings. I would want no less for them than I would want for any of my children, "pure" or "afflicted". I want all my children to be able to grow up safely and well. That is what every reasonable parent wants for each and every of their children.

Wisdom teaches us that if the expectations for our children are too disparate to the rest of the population they risk being attacked. For example, some private schools in Sydney now allow their students to commute in "mufti" because students were literally being killed because they went to a "good" school but lived in a "bad" neighbourhood.

The living standard we want for our own children must be attainable for others as well. Otherwise we simply end up in tribal conflicts.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 8:23am GMT

We don't choose who we fall in love with.....
any one remember love? I know the majority culture tends to wish to forget that lgbt people fall in love and live in love. Too threatening I guess. Why should love be such a threat ? But then, why are minority cultures and languages such a threat to the majorities ?

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 8:48am GMT

A timely reminder, Laurence. thank you.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 10:26am GMT

Cheryl,

I have "shunned the church" because I didn't want my children taught that the Bible can be changed to suit our cultural/sexual whims.
At the same time, I have a niece who is gay. Do I love her and welcome her at family gatherings? Of course. And she is loving enough to respect our position and not flaunt her lover in front of our children.
My oldest daughter lives with her boyfriend. Do I not love her and want her happiness? Of course!
At the same time, I don't tell either of them that their relationships are blessed by God nor do I think they should be able to be bishops (or priests for that matter.
I don't understand why all of the progressives feel that those of the orthodox persuasion are all bigots and homophobes! The problem, as I see it, is that those who yell the most about not being "listened to" are the ones most unwilling to listen.

Posted by: Cyndee on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 10:37am GMT

Mystified by the inability of some ConsEvs to see sexuality as anything other than a matter of 'lifestyle choice', I took to looking for influences and sources of this bizarre belief - and I have found it.

The highly disreputable Tom Sharpe novel 'indecent exposure', set in apartheid South Africa, contains a scene where the racially impure heterosexuality of policemen is modified by ECT - whereupon the entire police force becomes gay, and has to be subjected to another course of ECT to 'cure them'. (The line, "I'll never touch another rhino as long as I live," still delights me.)

I suggest some confusion in ConsEv circles about the canonical status of the novels of Tom Sharpe: would such repeat after me (hat tip to 'A Fish Caled Wanda'):

"The London Underground is not a political movement. 'Every man for himself' is not the central tenet of Buddhism. 'Indecent Exposure' is not part of the canon of Scripture. Tom Sharpe is not an authority on human sexuality."

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 11:05am GMT

Hi David Rowett-

I very much doubt that the anglican primates 'equated' homosexual practice with murder or with sexual abuse, since to 'equate' is to treat as being actually the same thing.

They certainly spoke of them in the same breath. But that should occasion no surprise: everything in the world has many dimensions and associations; and there must be at least one dimension or association which will allow these things to be spoken of in the same breath.

In the case of murder, the association is not hard to find. Both homosexual practice and murder are things strongly condemned in scripture whenever they are mentioned therein. Indeed (a very uncomfortable truth, and one which would not persuade me to become a Jew if we had only OT and no NT) genocide is sometimes treated in a non-negative light, which suggests to me that, whether or not we agree with scripture, its condemnation of homosexual practice is more total and uniform than its condemnation of murder. But let's forget OT and turn to NT. Both are condemned there 100% of the time. Therefore, in this regard (supposing our topic to be 'things that are condemned in scripture'), we can speak of them in the same breath. Whether the NT is right on this point is a separate question; but this does not prevent our speaking of the two together where this is our topic.

As for sexual abuse, it is one of the deviations from a wholesome family pattern which (together with their statistically devastating social consequences) have often been listed: abortion, divorce, and so on. So is homosexual practice. Therefore, to this extent, they can be spoken of in the same breath. That does not mean they can be spoken of in the same breath with regard to other matters.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 6:23pm GMT

We need to be very careful about getting bogged down about choice and not-choice.

Clearly religion is chosen at some level.

Similarly saying that black people should be protected from discrimination on the ground that they can't change or didn't choose their ethnicity is probably the worst possible basis on which to argue for anti-discrimination.

Seems to me that a solid basis for anti-discrimination laws is:

- discrimination exists
- it affects a distinct group within society
- the discrimination adversley affects the well being of that group and reduces their opportunities to participate fully in society

As regards choices, that doesn't open the flood gate for discrimination but in a free society we recognise that lifestyle choices, decisions about family life, decisions about religious belief and practice are to be protected wherever their is evidence of discriminatory behaviours and attitudes.

The choices made by individuals are what makes that person's life their own. To deny people the right to make choices about their faith their family and their sexuality is a fundamental denial of our humanity.

I also feel it wrong in principle to only compare homophobic discrimination to race discrimination. All grounds of dicrimination have differences and similarities - we shouldn't be arguing over whether something is like something else to be an area where we should act against discrimination.

To put it at its starkest, we have seen the murders of people simply because they are gay and also simply because they are black. I am not sure how you can maintain that one is more serious than another.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 6:28pm GMT

Hi Erika-

You wrote: 'given that sexuality is as innate as colour'.

This is to treat the demonstrandum as a 'given', to treat the presupposition as a conclusion. This practice is at the root of the majority of faulty argumentation. Is it honest to go with the crowd, with the preferred ideologies that are being thrust upon us?

It is only a minority of identical twins of a self-styled homosexual person who would self-style themselves as 'homosexual'. This tends to show that the majority of homosexual orientation is not genetic. Data like this are relatively factual, and all discussion on this matter needs to be based on factual / statistical findings.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 6:28pm GMT

This is, however, the view of the vast majority of the medical profession, Christopher, also the view of the BMA.

You are entitled to disagree with it, but then, creationists are also entitled to disagree with evolution - it doesn't stop them being regarded as largely deluded and silly by everyone else.

Posted by: Merseymike on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 7:58pm GMT

Cyndee

Do you realise what you said "...the Bible can be changed to suit our cultural/sexual whims..."

What do you think the Apostle Paul was doing? He was telling people to stop having sex whenever and wherever they wanted with whoever they felt attracted to at the time. Paul punched through the sexual morality of his times with an alternative vision - of lifelong monogamous relationships.

And if we are worried about chopping and changing, then we should re-institute the conventions that applied to eunuchs/oddballs in the Old Testament.

There was a social innovation to "purify" sexuality - and we now say that is inviolate???

We are not asking for the standard to be dropped for heterosexuals, we are asking for the same standard to be made available to GLBTs. That is life-long mutually-respectful non-abusive monogamous relationships.

And if we want to go back to inviolate rules. Someone bring me the evidence that every Anglican minister who has ever committed adultery (even a one night stand) has been stoned to death. Once you can prove that every one has been found and treated biblically correctly, then I will allow you to demand biblical correctness from GLBTs. If you are not prepared to apply it to yourselves, do not impose upon others at a higher standard than you demand of yourselves. Hypocrites!

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 8:35pm GMT

This site sheds interesting light on the issues Christopher and others' raised .

http://borndifferent.com/

Posted by: Laurence Roberts... on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 9:17pm GMT

Craig, I find your contributions fascinating and completely appropriate to this thread that deals with the SORs.

But your arguments allow as given that religions may choose to discrimminate internally if they so wish. As I would dearly like to see the full acceptance of ALL people in the Anglican Community I would still like to be allowed to state that sexuality is fixed from birth (Cheryl -so is bisexuality and any other sexuality on the bell curve) and that it should therefore not be used as an argument to discriminated against people who love.
As Lawrence pointed out - we love. And we love people, not their genitals!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 9:18pm GMT

Athos - I should not be surprised. Do you think anything might make you change your mind? I'm fascinated. Unlike some obvious conservatives who post here, you appear to be truly interested in a conversation. You read TA, you correspond regularly with everyone on this list, and most of your correspondents are highly trained theologians and priests. Yet, nothing you read seems to chime with you. You don't hold liberal theology, modern science and psychology in high esteem, nor the witness of your lgbt "friends". Can I ask why you are continuing this conversation on this forum?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 9:52pm GMT

Cheryl
What a perverse upside down reading of the Apostle Paul!! Paul wasn't changing the Bible to fit in with the sexual practises of the Pagans. He was applying the sexual ethic of the Bible to a godless society. As Martin Luther King wrote "there was a time when the Church was powerful..when she was not just a themometer that recorded the ideas..of popular opinion; she was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society."
Also I think you had better study the way in which Christ and the Apostles laid aside Civic Old Testament law..

Posted by: Athos on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 9:53pm GMT

Cheryl,
we are not asking for the standard to be "dropped" for heterosexuals, but as for LGBTs, we are asking for the meaning of the law to be recognised rather than the letter. If Cyndee's daughter lives with her boyfriend in a loving, faithful and hopefuly life long relationship, then God will accept and bless it, whether they have formalised it or not.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 10:08pm GMT

CS: to deal with them as morally equivalent (yes, 'equate' was a poor shorthand)(equivalent = 'equal value' or lack of same) is to taint by association.

I can't help but feel that your posting seeks to veil a belief that murder and homosexuality are equally morally repugnant, but actually to say so out loud would reveal the moral bankruptcy of such a position. It has to be admitted, though, that the Nigerian legislation would seem to back up such an attitude.

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Tuesday, 13 March 2007 at 10:33pm GMT

Genetic predisposition is thought to be a factor in the formation of homosexuality - in an unknown proportion of homosexual people to varying degrees and probably (in mind of the complexity of genetic causality) in varying ways.

Importantly the environment in the womb (particularly hormonal) is ALSO thought to be a factor in homosexuality - in an unknown proportion of homosexual people to varying degrees and in varying ways.

Also infancy and very early childhood bring important factors in shaping sexuality. This is bound to be even more complex than the genetic and antenatal factors, with influences both internal (psychological, biological, chemical, hormonal development) and external (familial, sociological, chemical, hormonal); there being a complex interplay with the internal and external.

You'll find many studies indicating that all these can be shown to have some influence in the development of homosexuality in that category of individuals who identify as being homosexual.

The most consistent view you will find in all this research, across various fields, is that in most people it is most probably a combination of these factors, in varying degrees and in varying ways according to the individual.

Once emerged from early childhood, most people will have their sexuality set, or hardwired, until the next important factor - where it is activated - puberty. A confusing period for which I've not seen research in this context, and I don't know whether the underlying 'hardwiring' is actually affected by it.

After this, then you have to adapt to what you have found yourself with. You can't adapt it. You can't 'transform' it. There may be a handful of folks that may say they have in some way, but I can tell you they must have a very differently formed homosexuality to mine. I'm forty, and I've tried everything. I KNOW. I also know I do not have it within me - with or without Christ, to be celibate. I've tried very, very hard. No go. I have not been given the gift of celibacy. Some have, some ain't.

Some Christians will treat me as if I were unclean and refuse to serve me; some Christians will wash my feet.

That's Christianity for ya. SOR do not limit the right to live by Christian conscience, because Christ did not deny serving anyone - however they were formed (or malformed, if that is your mindset).

Posted by: matthew hunt on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 2:48am GMT

Cheryl says that we should say that sexuality is fixed from birth because that way we can more clearly banish discrimination.

I do think that for the vast majority of people sexual orientation is a given.

I think that is obvious by reflecting on how straight people get to be straight (answer they don't they just are and the rest flows naturally).

I will comment on some of the biological data when I've had a chance to review some of it.

Even if sexuality is more or less fixed (as it surely is for most people) then how we live our lives is part of the realm of the choices we make.

In any case I don't think that we'll ever get to the point where religions will accept scientific facts about sexual orientation so we'll never get the degree of religious certainty on this.

Certainty in the non-religious world was achieved several decades ago.

I must confess though that I find the discussion of the etiology of sexual orientation a little arid and not much to the point as I don't think it gets us any where.

People who don't get their reality from reading the Bible (as opposed say to creationists) just know that gay people exist full stop. It's only religionists that have bizarre and archaic discussions about it.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 9:16am GMT

People continue to post messages here which imply a belief that Christian sexual mores have never changed. Cyndee's animadversions on her family members are a case in point.
Please, folks, remember that marriage customs have changed often: vows, which we regard as an essential part of marriage, are less than a thousand years old. As late as the early 19th century it was common, even semi-officially sanctioned, that a couple slept together before marriage to demonstrate their fertility, and once the girl was pregnant, they proceeded to make their marriage vows. It is still the practice in some European cultures, including strict Calvinist ones.
As has often been remarked, even the most conservative read the scriptures through their own cultural spectacles.

Posted by: cryptogram on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 10:00am GMT

Hi David Rowett-
I don't see any way that they could be 'equally' morally repugnant. After all, murder is pretty final, whereas other sins allow room for reconciliation, remedy and repentance. Murder and/or abortion deprives someone of every ability to do anything at all in the future.
But they are equal in the relevant respect, the respect with regard to which the bishops and others were citing them. Namely: they are things 100% forbidden in the NT. Neither is nore forbidden than the other.

Hi Merseymike-
Of all the professions, the medical (which sanctions 500 abortions a day in one small island) is the last one I would go to for ethical guidance. In accepting such things the medical profession is not making a moral point. They are simply describing phenomena. Their whole mindset is 'is it normal?'. They are not trained to think 'Is it beneficial?'. Nor does society currently encourage them to do so. But in the days when it did, the doctors once again followed suit. So they are followers not leaders in this matter.
This is all very odd, because 'Is it normal?' and 'Is it beneficial?' are two equally meaningful questions whcih are scarcely mutually exclusive. One needs to ask both - but it is hard to find people who actually do ask both. All sorts of things - including really dreadful things - are (alas) normal.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 12:50pm GMT

Erika
I want to be convinced. But as yet I have heard NOTHING that is able to overthrow the wisdom of the ages. And the more I read libleral or feminst of gay theology it all seems to be special pleading and not based on truth and very superficial. I guess I want to know what it is that grips you so powerfully.

Posted by: Athos on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 12:57pm GMT

C. Nelson : "It's only religionists that have bizarre and archaic discussions about it."

How sadly apparently true. Today we have a top military leader here in the U.S. that is refusing to appologize for calling LGBT people "immoral". This is a person whose career has been a product resulting in the ultimate focus of his lifelong training, to kill.

That a person can be raised with this twisted and sick perversion of moral logic shows just how far from God we truly are. It is simply more acceptable here in the U.S. to turn the television on and see two men killing one another but to revile at two men kissing one another.

Even if sexuality were a choice (which I believe it is not), do we see the horrific and selective fallacy of God's children we've become?

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 1:14pm GMT

That's a fascinating question Christopher!
Who might benefit from stable same sex relationships? Possibly the fractured society you so deplore.
Also those individuals who are allowed to live in true love together - as you are already allowed to do.
Who looses out? I have absolutely no idea! I have never understood why you all feel so threatened by sharing a blessing you already enjoy.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 1:42pm GMT

You weren't talking about ethical guidance, Christopher - and I would prefer to seek that from almost anyone but the church.

You were talking about beliefs regarding sexual orientation. The overwhelming view of the medical profession is that 1) it exists, and 2) is largely fixed by the mid-teens

Not an ethical view, but a medical one.

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 2:31pm GMT

Sigh. Here we go again. You conservatives need to learn something about human genetics besides eye color.

Just because something has a genetic component does not mean it is absolute. identical twins have different fingerprints, too. If you want to go look at a genetics textbook, you can check in the index for "expressivity" and "penetrance". (yes, that last is not a gay pun it is a real term). Moreover, no one is suggesting that homosexuality is an immutable single-locus trait. It's far more complicated than that. There is stochastic variation possible.

The correlation in twin studies is also much higher than chance. From the "Religious tolerence" site:
http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_caus3.htm

"Consider two identical newborn twin boys who were separated at birth and raised in different homes without any contact with each other. If homosexuality were caused by something in the environment, then, if twin #1 turned out to be gay, the chances of the other twin becoming a gay adults would only be about 5%. That is because the second twin would have been exposed to a totally different environment during his upbringing. So his chances of being gay would be the same as for any other male -- about 5%. But, studies have reliably shown that if one twin is gay, there is about a 55% chance that the other twin will be gay."

I suggest that all the conservatives consider the changes in Biblical interpretation on divorce, slavery, and usury, to name a few. Oh, and the view of women.

Meanwhile, even if you choose to dwell in a 2000-year old book, the rest of us are in the here and now. I'm not giving up antibiotics and cures for leprosy just because they aren't Biblically sanctioned. And in a free society, your religion doesn't trump mine--or my lack of it.


IT


Posted by: IT on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 3:31pm GMT

" the wisdom of the ages" - no, that's the irrational prejudice and lack of knowledge and understanding of the ages....

Why are conservative religionists so fearful of progress?

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 5:31pm GMT

Athos, your question is utterly unbelievable.
The conservatives look at the small part of my life they know about and decide without any personal knowledge of me, without a shred of doubt and without any humility of their own that I am immoral, that God will judge me so harshly that it would be better if I left his church straight away, that I have no right to stable and life giving love.

And you seriously ask what it is that grips me so powerfully??

It's not often that I'm left speechless!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 5:39pm GMT

Erika
What is your problem? Where am I judging you? I want to see the theological justification that you are employing to overthrow the wisdom of the ages. AS yet I have not heard it and all I get from folk like you is that I am being judgemental. This is not a rational response to theological questions and it makes me wonder if your position is as secure as you try to make out.

Posted by: Athos on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 7:40pm GMT

Merseymike
Why are do you emoloy such blatant chronological snobbery? On what basis do you think that our culture in our time is so much more advanced than the past? Honestly the barbarity of the twentieth century makes pagan Rome look like a vicar's tea party. You seem to rely a lot so called progress and I honestly do not consider us more morally or ethically or spiritually advanced than our ancestors. Technologically yes but this dos not go hand in hand with spiritual or moral insight.

Posted by: Athos on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 8:14pm GMT

No, Athos, I accept that for some inexplicable reason not a shred of our arguments has touched you in the slightest.

I have asked you why, if you are not touched by our arguments, you are interested in this conversation. And you have replied that all arguments in favour of women and same sex equality are "special pleading" without theological merit, but that you would like to understand what grips us so powerfully.

You really have to be a straight white male to walk so blindly and live so happily when half of humankind tell you they feel oppressed by your Christianity. (Although you don't explicitly exclude black concerns in your list of what does NOT impress you I suppose in years past black theology would have left you cold too).

So once again - whatever you think of our arguments, what drives us is clear: the wish to be as effortlessly accepted as conservatives think they are! Because although we appear to be unable to convince you, we know we are as moral or immoral as you, as loving or unloving as you, and as genuine in our desire to follow Christ and our hope in doing just that.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 8:27pm GMT

Erika

I agree with your comment about the continuum applying to other characteristics as well.

There is a nature/nurture element too. IT partly covered it. Daniel Goleman's book "Emotional Intelligence" is also worth a read.

For those people who are closet to the middle, it is easier to "normalise" their behaviours than it is for the people on the extremes.

Once again, there is an attempt to dumb down the debate to infere that acknowledging genetics means abdicating social responsibility.

That is not the case. What is in question is what is menacing to society?

Rapists and murderers? Yes. Child abusers? Yes.

There is a difference between someone who imposes their will upon other (either within the home or public sphere) and two parties mutually consenting to an encounter. If those two parties do not then impose their will upon a third (or more) other party, then it is no one else's business.

The sticky part is when we then discuss what is imposing in the public arena. The wearing of veils and crosses, exposed skin, holding hands, kissing. Single men and women talking to each other. Sharing of art or knowledge.

There is the other end of the spectrum where there are psycholigical disorders that do not want to acknowledge others and demand that others only exist within their reality constructs. These are the neighbourhood nightmares we see in mediation centres of noise intolerant or other busy bodies that interfere in the wellbeing of others because it is displeasing to them.

We put in place laws to have reasonable boundaries. Parties are allowed to be loud, but not past a certain time of night. People are allowed to walk down the laneway (as much as the grumpy neighbour might fume). People are not allowed to throw rubbish on other peoples' gardens.

We can choose to have a society that has arts, communication, safety on the streets. Or we can choose to have society that bans art, education and communication (especially to women) and randomly violates people on the street. Our societies will reflect how far down either end of the spectrum we have travelled. The question is what kind of society to we want to have?

I want a society where each child can be born safely, grow up safely, be happy, love, live and have a full life. I do not want a few to have it at the expense of the majority, nor do I want it denied to a few because they become the precedent to justify denying it to the majority.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 9:00pm GMT

Merseymike wrote: "...... regarding sexual orientation. The overwhelming view of the medical profession is that 1) it exists, and 2) is largely fixed by the mid-teens. Not an ethical view, but a medical one.

Dear Merseymike, All,

Sexuality is certainly not "fixed" in *most* people by mid-teens, and there is strong evidence that a major factor is the environment that we experience as children, rather than just genetics. Don't believe me ? Below are links to an abstract and a paper reporting studies in Denmark and New Zealand (both relatively open & gay friendly countries). Sexual orientation seems to be more often 'what we are made by people' rather than by birth. It is hard to change in adulthood, for some people, but for others it just changes! Orientation is by no stretch of the imagination a "given" in the way that Race or Gender are.

http://lib.bioinfo.pl/pmid:17039403 To quote "For men, homosexual marriage [legal since 1989 in Denmark] was associated with having older mothers, divorced parents, absent fathers, and being the youngest child. For women, maternal death during adolescence and being the only or youngest child or the only girl in the family increased the likelihood of homosexual marriage. Our study provides population-based, prospective evidence that childhood family experiences are important determinants of heterosexual and homosexual marriage decisions in adulthood."

http://www.outthere.org.nz/documents/Otago.Prevalence.2003.pdf "By age 26, 10.7% of men and 24.5% of women reported being attracted to their own sex at some time. This dropped to 5.6% of men and 16.4% of women who reported some current same-sex attraction. Current attraction predominantly to their own sex or equally to both sexes (major attraction) was reported by 1.6% of men and 2.1% of women.... Between age 21 and 26, slightly more men moved away from an exclusive heterosexual attraction (1.9% of all men [ie 25% of the 5.6%]) than moved towards it (1.0%), while for women, many more moved away (9.5% [ie more than half the 16.4%]) than towards (1.3%) exclusive heterosexual attraction."

Posted by: Dave on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 10:57pm GMT

Erika
Please would you point out to me in any of the posts that I have ever written where I have ever suggested that traditionlalits are more moral, more loving, or more genuine in their desire to follow Jesus and that LGBT folk are less moral, less loving and less genuine in thier desire to follow Christ? I wish to engage with the underlying theological assumptions that pervade this fundamentalist website but folk seem to be so blinkered that 1) they either assume I am attacking them personally or 2) they asssume that their theological positions are so water tight that they have no case to answer. Which is Totalitrianism with a vengance.

Posted by: Athos on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 11:27pm GMT

Considering that one of those articles has nothing to do with sexual orientation, and the other suggests that a quarter of the population may have some sort of attraction to the same sex (which doesn't make them gay!) I can't see the relevance - is that the best you could come up with, Dave? Particularly as the second paper indicates that there is a biological root to those who are firmly gay by sexual orientation.

I'm quite prepared to accept that someone can be basically straight but have some degree of attraction to the same sex at times in their lives - or the other way around. Doesn't mean that people's basic sexual orientation isn't fixed, though. Argue with the BMA, not me - its a red herring. I couldn't care less what the 'causes ' of any sexual orientation are, just that gay people are not discriminated against.

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 11:43pm GMT

You may not believe in enlightenment or human progress, Athos. But I do. Thus, I haven't a lot of time for your premodern superstitious religion.

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 14 March 2007 at 11:45pm GMT

Sigh, again.

Dave, like most conservatives, you want life to be lived in binaries. Either/or. Male/female. Black/white. Gay/Straight.

However, sexuality is a continuum. For some, fixed. For others, flexible. BUT NOT THE SAME FOR ALL.

you guys have to stop trying to fit everyone in a little either/or box. YES, some people identify as gay very young, and will forever. YES, some people have a more fluid sexual identity. NO, it's not BECAUSE of upbringing. (I'll let the statisticians go after these studies, which are too often a post hoc, ergo propter hoc thing).

And a large fraction are asexuals, too.

And young people often experiment to find where they fit.

SO WHAT?

Some people are left handed. Some people are right handed. Some people are ambidextrous. And some people switch.

Get over it.

Oh yeah, but the Church used to preach that to use the left hand made you satanic, and you should be cured....


Posted by: IT on Thursday, 15 March 2007 at 2:09am GMT

Dave, the second paper you link to (and quote from) looks at a birth-date/geographical cohort of 1000 otherwise random people. NOT a group of 1000 people who self-identify as being currently homosexual (i.e., largely exclusively so).

It is commonly understood that many people will have some attraction in their lives to someone of a sex that *they are not usually attracted to*, which is what the paper looks at – this is does not address the *underlying* hardwired (by adulthood) sexuality. Of course our movement through life is going to bring flux in any facet of our personalities, but, by and large, I’m still that kid who stood in the playground thirty years ago.

The paragraph from which you quote ends: ‘Overall these findings argue against any single explanation for homosexual attraction.’ Which is precisely the main point of my last comment (the ‘set by mid-childhood’ being secondary). The three main areas of influence: genetic, antenatal and infancy/childhood. The second of your papers agrees with me on this.

As does the first of your linked papers, which agrees with infancy/childhood being one of the possible contributing fields of influence to the formation of sexuality.

These two papers actually support the general consensus that the formation of sexuality is extremely complex and will differ between individuals – even between individuals who would self-identify as being of the same broad sexual category, such as ‘homosexual’.

That is to say, one person who identifies as being homosexual may (either spontaneously or by some means), be able to cease to self-identify as being homosexual. Whereas another person will not be able to do so because his/her sexuality has been *differently formed* to the first. Even the evidence you cite helps to prove that we cannot say, ‘because this one changed, all can.’

Therefore, for a proportion of those adults who self-identify as being homosexual, their sexuality (albeit subject to normal, superficial flux) is as unchangeable as the colour of their skin. The experience of various people who have set out to change people’s sexuality, from scientists to religionists, shows us that those who are able to change are in the minority. For most adult people, it is fixed – hardwired.

This is why I use terms such as ‘most people’, and not ‘all’.

Posted by: matthew hunt on Thursday, 15 March 2007 at 2:40am GMT

Dave wrote: "Orientation is by no stretch of the imagination a "given" in the way that Race or Gender are."

Dear Dave, when will you start listening to what people say? There is not such thing as "Race".

All humanity is one Race, the same. As to skin colour... as long as marriage and mixing is free, this is not a "given" the way you imagine, not an immutable Neo Platonist category out of the World of Ideas.

I don't understand what you are up to.

The same goes for Gender, which, as the Eunuchoi example in a thread above should tell you, is anything but clear cut. Quite a few are neither male or female, but inter-sexed one way or another (or a third or a forth).

In Sweden only, 1000 children are born each year who do not fit into your little neo platonist boxes.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 15 March 2007 at 8:39am GMT

Merseymike
I think you misunderstand me. Of course I believe in progress. Technologically we have seen stunning progress. But wold you honestly say, after the 20th Century that we as a human race are more advanced morally and ethically than our forefathers? Surely what a lot of folk have been saying after the wars of the 20th century is that we have not progressed much at all.

Posted by: Athos on Thursday, 15 March 2007 at 3:20pm GMT

Whyever would we be that, Athos?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 15 March 2007 at 3:41pm GMT

IT wrote: "Sigh, again. Dave, like most conservatives, you want life to be lived in binaries. Either/or. Male/female. Black/white. Gay/Straight. However, sexuality is a continuum."

Dear IT, You are wrong to assert that I think "in binaries" on sexuality. In fact I would go further than you when you say the there is a continuum - I think it is a better model to say that there is a multi-dimensional universe of desires/orientations/behaviours.

When you look at it that way a lot of the arguement is just about one part of the whole sexuality universe. In most areas there is wide-spread agreement on what is acceptable and what is intolerable (eg abusive, unequal relationships, predatory or violent behavior etc). All the liberal "tolerance" arguement is just about one or two areas - arguing that any sexual desire/behaviour is ok if all the parties involved are happy with it.. but the way many liberals argue you would think that they are for absolute tolerance/freedom in sexual behaviour, and conservatives for an absolute ban!

Apart from the obvious clash with what all the major religions have taught for thousands of years, and the observation that some desires/behaviours bring about an insoluble incongruity between what we are and what we desire, I am not at all convinced by the liberal arguement that sees to be "how can X be immoral if a significant number of people real want to do it?"

Posted by: Dave on Thursday, 15 March 2007 at 11:18pm GMT

I'm not at least persuaded by an argument of what all the major religions have taught for thousands of years given that they have at some time supported slavery, torture and the inquisition, the oppression of women, the evils of left-handedness, and the earth revolving around the sun. And that's just for starters.

Not much of a trackrecord of infallibility.

Once again, you are being binary and absolutist, Dave. "arguing that any sexual desire/behaviour is okay". No one says that, and you know it.

now, where did I put my blended fabric jacket?


Posted by: IT on Thursday, 15 March 2007 at 11:42pm GMT

Matthew Hunt wrote: "These two papers actually support the general consensus that the formation of sexuality is extremely complex and will differ between individuals – even between individuals who would self-identify as being of the same broad sexual category, such as ‘homosexual’...... Therefore, for a proportion of those adults who self-identify as being homosexual, their sexuality (albeit subject to normal, superficial flux) is as unchangeable as the colour of their skin. The experience of various people who have set out to change people’s sexuality, from scientists to religionists, shows us that those who are able to change are in the minority. For most adult people, it is fixed – hardwired."

Dear Matthew, You might like to see more information posted here: http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/002288.html#comments on 15 March 2007 at 6:05pm GMT

Yes, Sexual orientation is very complex, which was exactly my point. Orientation is shown by these studies to be at least as much a "made", it is certainly not a "given" like race or Sex. Maybe to some extent it is a "chosen" - since even identical twins raised together do not necessarily share the same orientation! That isn't in contradiction with the fact that, for most people, sexual orientation in adulthood is a more-or-less fixed experience.

My point is that many extreme liberals are arguing for the exclusion from the public square of behaviours and views that do not affirm and approve homosexual activity, on the grounds that Sexual Orientation is a "given" like Race and Sex, and so can't logically (in their logic) be subject to moral judgements without discriminating. This is demonstrably not true.


ps Even if predispositions to some behaviours (sexual or otherwise) are inherent it does not mean that they are all morally good. Otherwise we would all be perfect..

pps You might also note that Race and Sex are purely human characteristics (unlike culture, say). Non-discrimination on grounds of Race does not imply that you must approve or disapprove of any particular culture!

Posted by: Dave on Thursday, 15 March 2007 at 11:51pm GMT

Göran wrote: "Dear Dave, when will you start listening to what people say? There is not such thing as "Race"."

Dear Göran, Maybe not in Sweden! But I was referring to the European Convention on Human Rights. You can argue with them about the existence or otherwise of "Races"! ARTICLE 14 states "The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status."

Posted by: Dave on Friday, 16 March 2007 at 12:13am GMT

Dave wrote: "My point is that many extreme liberals are arguing for the exclusion from the public square of behaviours and views that do not affirm and approve homosexual activity, on the grounds that Sexual Orientation is a "given"..."

Whichever way you turn, dear Dave, "orientation" will always be more "given" than bad manners.

"... and so can't logically (in their logic) be subject to moral judgements without discriminating. This is demonstrably not true."

No it is not true, dear Dave. So why do you say it is? Don't you realize that being honest is the first requirement in conversation?

Why do you smear people with views you know they don't hold?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 16 March 2007 at 9:19am GMT

"Orientation is shown by these studies to be at least as much a "made"

No, they clearly don't show that.

"it is certainly not a "given" like race or Sex"

For some people it is. Without doubt.

"the fact that, for most people, sexual orientation in adulthood is a more-or-less fixed experience"

Hurrah! Well done. We agree on that then.

Posted by: matthew hunt on Friday, 16 March 2007 at 9:52am GMT

So irrelevant. The issue is not why gay people are gay, but, should they be discriminated against because they are gay.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 16 March 2007 at 11:03am GMT

Hi Merseymike-
No-one is debating that 'it exists'. After all, plenty of good things and plenty of bad things exist. So this is not much of a start in determining whether it is good or bad.

in the mid-teens it is well known that people are at their most anti-social and unsavoury. They are also experimenting with how far they can go against fuddy-duddy tradition. It is also well-known that behaviour-habits once formed are hard to break. You do the math: if people start behaving in such a way in the mid-teens (rebellious phase) then they will find it hard to stop.

But as for the issue of 'orientation', those same mid-teens will be attracted in many cases, in the first instance, to those below the age of consent. This too many never grow out of. paedophile tendencies are incredibly common according to internet search figures. It's normal. It takes root in the mid-teens. (So do smoking, drinking and drug-taking, for that matter.) Sound familiar?

So I agree with the doctors that such things are normal and widely-attested. Who would disagree? What has that got to do with the question we are asking? The question we are asking is the quite separate one of whether they are good, right or beneficial.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 16 March 2007 at 12:33pm GMT

Christopher, I'm glad you're coming back to asking what is beneficial.
I did post a reply to you on that which you so far have not commented on.

But please, let's not start out by comparing a potentially beneficial equal and stable relationship to paedophelia, not even in an abstract "example" for orientation. I should take that as a very deep personal insult indeed, because there is absolutely no possibility that paedophelia is ever anything other than the most horrendous abuse of trust, power and inequality with the most damaging consequences for the innocent victim. If you continue to mention stable same sex relationships in that context, in whatever theoretical argument, you completely disqualiy yourself from this conversation.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 16 March 2007 at 2:09pm GMT

Merely holding a stick is neither 'good, right or beneficial'

You can, however, either toast marshmellows with it or poke it in someone's eye.

As much as I might sometimes have the inexplicable urge to poke someone in the eye, I don't.

Trouble is, I don't really like my marshmellows toasted.

So I use it to scratch my back and throw at house lizards.

But I don't poke people's eyes.

Therefore, the stick that I hold is not bad, wrong or of no benefit.

The problem arises when someone else sees my stick and starts screaming, 'Evil eye poker, evil eye poker, burn the evil eye poker'.

Posted by: matthew hunt on Friday, 16 March 2007 at 5:00pm GMT

And thats a matter of opinion. From my own experience, I think all three. I would certainly be a lot less happy, fulfilled and complete without my relationship

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 16 March 2007 at 8:11pm GMT

Merseymike wrote: "So irrelevant. The issue is not why gay people are gay, but, should they be discriminated against because they are gay."

Dear Merseymike, I don't know of anyone who thinks that any individual should be discriminated against purely because of the sexual orientation they experience, as such. The issue is whether a particular sexual *orientation* is natural and good, and whether people should be legally obliged to affirm and approve of it's expression.

The findings about clear dominant environmental influences on sexuality, show that it is can't possibly be a 100% genetic "given" in the same way that Race and Sex are. No-one is inevitably gay at birth. Sexuality turns out to be in many ways like Culture - something that *becomes* very deep rooted in us, but is predominantly due to childhood environment and upbringing. Sexual behaviour choices are even more a matter of upbringing and volition.

There is a Reasoned arguement, based on measurable facts, (as well as Scripural and Traditional arguements) for questioning whether different sexual *orientations* are actually natural and good.

The JCHR's report argues erroneously that Sexuality is like Race and Sex, and that it therefore completely overrides 'lesser' rights whenever they clash in the public square. The measurable facts say otherwise, and Human Rights theory would then dictate that the clash of rights in the public square should be resolved proportionately, according to tests such as maximising all freedoms, and minimum restrictions - to just avoid serious harm.

Posted by: Dave on Saturday, 17 March 2007 at 12:42am GMT

Hi Erika-
Mmmm, that was a predictable response, but it does you no justice, since you understand the issues better than that. Wherever in life we have two things, there is not just one respect in which they can be compared and contrasted, but thousands of respects. In respect of 'when did you feel such urges?' the two things in question can easily be compared and spoken of in the same breath, since these two things, together with a lot of other things both good and bad (though let it be said that a high proportion of bad things and addictions and habits find their roots precisely here: in adolescence) both tend to originate in adolescence.

I've seen the reply you refer to. But why do you think the fracturing of our western society and the mainstreaming of homosexuality (among many other things) date from approx the same time? This seems to go against your argument. It could be argued that both are symptoms of an anti-family culture which sees doing what comes naturally or feels good as preferable to doing what is demonstrably beneficial for the common good (ie the christian way). |Whatever the truth, it seems likely that the best available way of seeking causative roots is to look at the ruling worldview of a given society.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 17 March 2007 at 12:44pm GMT

Hi Christopher
I'm sorry, I don't really see how your response is helping. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you appear to separate the world into active heterosexuals, who are sometimes good people and sometimes not, and active homosexuals who are always more likely to contribute to the fractured society we live in. I just find that view far too simplistic!

A real life, true and recent example from my own neck of the woods: A terribly screwed up married mother of 5 recently and very suddenly threw her own 10 year old boy out because she couldn't cope with a number of issues. The boy suddenly found himself living with his father, who is doing his very best but who is not used to bringing up children and has only ever had weekend visits. A same sex couple with children at the same school stepped in and is now providing lots of support to the father, the boy they've known and loved very well for 6 years, and the helpless mother.

Now, please, tell me: Who, in this case, is contributing to strengthening a fractured society?
Why does your Christianity condemn the same sex couple automatically, while the heterosexual people are judged each on their own merit?

Rules and guidelines are made for people, not people for rulse and guidlines.
Would you not agree it's time we all looked at individuals and formed our opinions about them, rather than shower groups of people with blanket condemnation?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 17 March 2007 at 8:12pm GMT

"anti family"?
I weary of this. Trust me, my faithful and committed not to mention devoted lesbian partnership is very pro family.

I have the grey hairs and the teenagers to prove it.

I am so sick of this canard being thrown about. As though gay couples are all having sex in the streets, rather than raising children, paying their taxes, mowing their lawns, contributing to charities, and all the other "common good" things that certain Christians erroneously claim as theirs and theirs alone.

There is no point of arguing with this bigotry any longer.

Not to mention the deficits inherent to a "post hoc ergo propter hoc" argument. I bet you could make the same argument for antibiotics being a cause of moral breakdown.

Feh.


Posted by: IT on Saturday, 17 March 2007 at 9:26pm GMT

Hi Erika-
The answer is, I guess, that you are committed to having no moral absolutes but assessing everything on a case-by-case basis. My approach is one degree more subtle than that: it is to applaud the case-by-case method while also not ruling out, without argument, the existence of any moral absolutes. The way one identified moral absolutes would be that a given practice always caused greater good (or harm) on the broad scale, there being few if any exceptions.

The 'case-by-case' approach seems too much like an unthinking dogma to me, and as such is another kind of absolutism, even though it sets itself up against absolutism. By approving what it denies it refutes itself as a general principle, and therefore no theory can be based on it, however useful it may be (and is) on a secondary level.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 19 March 2007 at 12:49pm GMT
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