Friday, 17 July 2009

CofE and the Church of Sweden

My report for the Church Times on this subject is published today. It can be read at
English bishops say Swedish proposal redefines marriage.

For the General Synod questions which announced this to the world, go here.

For the original of the CofE letter, see this PDF file.

Other reports covering this:

George Conger Religious Intelligence English Church attacks Swedish same-sex blessing move

Ruth Gledhill also dealt with it towards the end of her blog entry Princely Bishop of Durham rides to the rescue.

Since all these articles were written, there have been reports in the Swedish press too. The following are in English:

Stockholm News The Anglican Church criticizes homosexual marriage in Sweden

The Local Anglo-Swedish rift over church gay marriage

….Sven Thidevall, the Church of Sweden’s bishop in Växjö in south central Sweden, was surprised by the letter, which he called “not especially flattering”.

He interpreted it as a warning that Sweden’s church risks being isolated if it moves forward with the proposal.

“How we handle the marriage question affects so much more than how we refer to same-sex church weddings,” he said in a statement.

“Now it’s also about our place in the community of Christian churches.”

Thidevall went on to say that, while he is in favour of the proposal to allow same-sex couples to be wed in Churches, he thinks it’s important for the Church of Sweden to listen to other churches.

“The Church of England has made some polite but critical reflections on how the Swedish church is addressing important theological questions,” he said.

“We need to listen carefully to our sister churches before we decide how we can best do things. What else is a communion of churches for anyway?”

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"The Archbishops’ Council responded that 'as we understand the situation' what was now being proposed was a 'fundamental re-definition of marriage and of basic Christian anthropology.' Making marriage gender neutral was 'at odds with the Biblical teaching about the significance of God’s creation of human beings as male and female as this has been received by the Church of England and by the Catholic tradition in general."

I really do try to avoid being "snarky", but "Christian anthropology"? Really! The esteemed gentlemen who authored this letter from the Archbishop's Council to the Church of Sweden need to board the nearest time machine and set the dial for the twenty-first century.

Among the greatest obstacles for the C of E, the FCA, and the ACNA is their collective indifference to the human sciences. There is, first of all, no such thing as "Christian anthropology", not at least since the late Middle Ages. Anthropology is now a scientific term denoting a discipline that has no denominational allegiance.

I know that theologically inclined people are not always interested in the sciences. But the studied ignorance of scientific knowledge about human sexuality which characterises many of the prelates of the above referenced Churches in really inexcusable. Before one takes a position that could damage other human beings and rupture the relationships between Churches, one ought to know what one is talking about.

It is the generally held view among scientific experts that bisexuality and homosexuality are normal variants in the spectrum of human sexual orientation; that they are, like varieties of heterosexuality, formed very early in the development of a person; that they have organic components (genetic, hormonal, variant brain structures); that they are constitutive of individual identity; and that they can only be forcibly suppressed, not really changed, as far as is presently known.

It is simply cruel for the Churches to continue to attempt to be the "sex police" for the human race; prohibiting whatever they find uncomfortable, a challenge to tradition, or banned by a very overgeneralized view of a few passages in Scripture, interpretations which are not shared by the majority of credible Scripture scholars.

It is also more than foolish for the Churches to continue to paint themeselves into a corner that they will have great difficulty getting out of. Are we to believe that the majority of the bishops and theologians in the C of E share the views expressed in the letter to the Church of Sweden? If that is the case, then you have much more serious problems that the changes in Sweden or TEC. With respect, I think that you need to undertake an extensive study of human sexuality, utilizing the expertise the qualified scientists, as you review your theological positions. Simple charity should cause you to refrain from further verbal attacks on LGBT persons and other Churches until you have done that necessary work.

Posted by: karen macqueen+ on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 8:44am BST

Let me also remind you that there has never been a "doctrine" of Human Sexuality like the late modern, anti Modern.

The traditional view from the 10th century in East and West was Chastity for all, and (for the West from Lateran III in 1139 Abstinences ("sexual" abstinence not being the foremost among them) for the ordained.

This lasted up to 1966 when it was supplanted by anti Modern Social Politics in the West, and is still the law in the East.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 10:46am BST

I would expect that the Church of Sweden will politely request that the Church of England mind its own business.

Posted by: jnwall on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 11:18am BST

There's a certain degree of dishonesty in this debate. The reaction from the CoE could easily be anticipated. Other, similar reactions will come from conservative lutherans in Finland, Estonia, Latvia and the third world.

The Church of Sweden has no reason to apologize and it's disheartening to see that two Swedish bishop are already caving in, indicating that the Church of Sweden can be blamed.

Conservatives in Sweden will try to create a drumbeat, with the help of other conservative churches, in order to stop the decision (Kyrkomötet) in favour of same sex marriage this autumn. Let's hope they fail.

Posted by: Swedish Lutheran on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 1:36pm BST

Karen,

"Among the greatest obstacles for the C of E, the FCA, and the ACNA is their collective indifference to the human sciences. There is, first of all, no such thing as "Christian anthropology", not at least since the late Middle Ages. Anthropology is now a scientific term denoting a discipline that has no denominational allegiance."

Methinks that the "anthropology" being referred to here is not the science of anthropology, but the Christian doctrine of the nature of humanity. Back in the day, when I was thinking about attending seminary, I looked through a variety of seminary catalogues at course offerings. A number of them had offerings for courses titled "Biblical anthropology" and "Christian anthropology." These offerings were all taught in the theology departments, not the New Testament or Old Testament departments (which sometimes treat of archeological issues).

What the archbishops are arguing is that making marriage gender neutral is at odds with the the Christian understanding of the nature of humankind. I don't agree, but that's what they mean when they talk about Christian anthropology.

Posted by: Thomas Peters on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 1:37pm BST

And yet, their argument, which hints at late JPII two natures proposals, flies in the face of Chalcedonian anthropology--there is one human nature--not male and female natures. Thomas Laquerc's "Making Sex" is the finest history of ideas on these matters. Goran is correct that this is a late-Modern piece.

And let me also suggest that they're not dealing with fellow Anglicans here, but Lutherans. And a Church known for its smarts, at that. The smarties among these folks in terms of systematics and biblical theology make Rowan Williams and NT Wright look soft and squishy scholars.

Posted by: Christopher on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 1:50pm BST

Peter, Karen: I also was skeptical when I saw the phrase, but wikipedia seems to know quite a lot: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_anthropology

I vaguely remember encountering `monism' and had a mental note to investigate the area a bit more - just didn't know it fell under the name of "anthropology". Interesting.

Posted by: Tim on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 2:36pm BST

""Christian anthropology"?"

This is an unfortunate term. It is NOT speaking about "anthropology" as we understand the term today, but about something different and totally relevant to the current debate. It informs the debate about sexuality, or it should. But it isn't what is meant by the modern term "anthropology". But you knew that.

"It is simply cruel for the Churches to continue to attempt to be the "sex police" for the human race"

Well, not necessarily so. Sexual relationships are a very important part of what it is to be human, of how we relate to each other and of how we understand ourselves. Given our understanding of what Redemption is, our need for it, and how it is carried out, I would expect the Church would be very interested in these issues. All the same, interest does not necessarily entail a "policing" function, you're right there.

Posted by: Ford elms on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 2:58pm BST

Sorry to see C of E bishops spouting such rigid stuff.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 4:47pm BST

Bishop Sven Thidevall of Växjö is quite right about this, in any event:

“We need to listen carefully to our sister churches before we decide how we can best do things. What else is a communion of churches for anyway?”

But listening carefully and being in a communion of churches does *not* mean having to do simply what people in another church tell one to do because they do not want to listen themselves and thus seek to maintain the status quo (or at least not rock the boat) no matter what. That is not - and cannot be - the proper definition of mutually respectful communion amongst Christian churches.

Posted by: christopher+ on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 4:56pm BST

Conservatives in Sweden will try to create a drumbeat, with the help of other conservative churches, in order to stop the decision (Kyrkomötet) in favour of same sex marriage this autumn. Let's hope they fail.

Posted by: Swedish Lutheran on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 1:36pm BST
Karen,


I had no idea it could be overthrown like this. It sounded like a 'done deal'. Very disappointing. I do hope all will be well with this necessary and long overdue reform

The religious spirit is served by such steps. As is the human.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 5:35pm BST

karen macqueen's writes with clarity, honesty and real understanding of the issues - and then helps the likes of me, to get a handle on things in TEC.

Her passion for Christianity and justice presented with such clarity, and honesty, is a pleasure to be able to read.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 5:46pm BST

The statement "Male and female he created them" is wrong and has caused much mischief. Biology indicates that he created them female, then set up processes that adapt about half of them in a masculine direction. The process is variable, and there seems to be no ideal development. If the individuals are viable, they live on and join the community.

Was it Bacon who urged dogmatists of his day to consult the book of God's work, as well as the books of God's supposed words?

Posted by: murdoch on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 6:32pm BST

The theo anthro drumbeat - that categorical, separate, polarized notions of male-female are sacred (summed up, short hand, as complementarity?) - is a really recent religious ideology, historically considered.

As a new idea, it seems to emerge as a reframe (thus a finalized answer?) to change dilemmas. Especially in domains of shifted ideas about women, sex, gender, sex roles, power. Once we let women have power, access, resources – you can expect their queer offspring to be, not very far behind.

Women are far less knee jerk anxious about gay men, for example. They already know what it is like, to be attracted to men, so in a sense women are prepared to extrapolate more quickly for common sense reasons. Powerful women, often mothers but not always, do indeed hold up half the Queer Sky.

This idealized model re-emphasizes male-female differences - a belated effort in response to the fading of males only-males first policies and practices in many western democracies? A creepy notion of 'male headship' is very, very popular among USA rights. Thus, top down hierarchy trumps equality, closing doors. Glossed as presupposing an unsavory Sameness, equality then gets further dissed as an icky or foolish business. All this is now playing out in Anglican ConRealign work.

Partly, the point is that believers do not have to read science. Gender, sex, sex roles, male-female stuff?Believers already have what God says, period. Ignore data or ideas, pointing to these domains as continuums of differentiation, begun from a prior common human matrix.

God's wonderful plan is (straight only) males first. In most circumstances God means for males to be highly idealized benevolent tyrants, mirroring deity in their nearly infinite wisdom plus patience plus authoritative guidance.

Go further, you conclude that science is a total crock, because all science can do is study a fallen and evil creation; so back to this very clever reframing of scriptures and traditions as special revelation which stands utterly high and alone as truth.

Such beliefs are mind-numbing in their aspiration to be God; and to that extent, dangerous or risky to real truth and real faith. Especially in Anglican contexts which have historically been more open than nearly everybody else to empirical data and critical scholarship.

Posted by: drdanfee on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 7:29pm BST

"Biology indicates that he created them female, then set up processes that adapt about half of them in a masculine direction."

Biology indicates no such thing. Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny? It is not ideal, and is variable, you are right on that point. I once read an Orthodox source that describes Creation as ongoing, that everything comes into being and is sustained in being by God's creative will. So when does the creation of human beings actually start? Having our bloomers in a knot over abortion for so long has led us to the msitaken idea that there is a "moment of conception", but it ain't so. The Psalmist speaks of God knowing all our bones "when there was yet none of them". We all start out with female parts, but some of us carry certain genetic material that stimulates these parts to develop differently. Is this not just another step in the creation of a male human being? You could say our creation takes a few more steps, or something like that, but I fail to see how God's creation of a human being stops at the female and the hormonal process that subsequently determine male development are somehow outside of God's creative act. He's still creating, for the past several years, He's been creating a heck of a lot of grey hair on my head!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 7:52pm BST

Okay, so the English letter to Sweden puts a hot finger on some sore points of disagreement. So what?

We might notice that the theological anthro being referenced by the English traditionalists lifts up an idealized explication of gender differences, mainly from a pre-existing pure male point of view. Thus, male is male and female is female, each an allegedly separate piece of the large puzzle. Holy Matrimony fits the two pieces together, and we have a sacred whole, a blessed humanity picture. These basics are supposed to be sacred, final, eternal revelation truth. Given that, legacy believers get to raise holy hell every time anybody “messes with the sacred definition of (exclusively heterosexual, opposite-gender, opposite-sexed) marriage.”

Gay men? - not real men, not categorically pure. See how the model works?

Problems? Let's start with the known data. Male and female actually develop out of a prior common human matrix, the fertilized ovum aka Zygote. Left unmasculinized (mainly by prenatal hormones) the zygote will grow spontaneously into an anatomical female.

Realignment looks at these hot button domains of human nature, through presuppositional, categorical, and top down frameworks. But those frames violate the data, claiming to be superior. What sly editing? Why should we continue to bow down in closed, low worship of a falsely self-regarding theo anthro that is actually lying about its historicity? Why should we bend low, so that this odd model can bless and sanctify a pre-existing selection which renders any and all data, secondary?

How long can we ignore the second creation story in Genesis?

Corrective impulses return us to reading that second creation story, wherein relationship and creaturely choice to acknowledge the beloved as suitable or fitting, mutuality (in a word, short hand), trump and bridge the male-female puzzle trope in the first creation story.

More? Yes, but not in blog post limits. PS, how tiresome to always have to pause, back up, and correct conservative frames and methods which are nearly always faked, presuppositional set ups. These faked legacy preachments are nearly always a pale imitation of thinking, let alone of reading the sciences or critical scholarship.

Bishops who preach a gospel that needs us to be ignorant in these male-female hot button domains - depends on us being ignorant? - should face inquiry and questions. I think they should be ashamed of themselves for counting on us being uninformed.

Posted by: drdanfee on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 8:14pm BST

To my mind,a "Christian Anthropology" ought to be measured by how closely it hews to the standard of Gal 3:28.

Other teaching, though it be attributed to St Paul himself, might be, on its best face, an adaptation to contemporary social mores, a defensable inculturation, maybe, but it is surely no "Christian Anthropology," for it subverts the outworking of the Gospel.

Posted by: Oriscus on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 8:42pm BST

This highlights the inadequacy of using verses from Scripture to prove that you are right and your opponent is wrong.

These bishops (and many others) use the Genesis imagery of Man and Woman to support "traditional" marriage. Like you say Christopher, flying in the face of the imagery of the "one human nature".

What happens when you put that imagery alongside that of St Paul?

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus"

Posted by: Nick Lincoln on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 9:58pm BST

"We all start out with female parts, but some of us carry certain genetic material that stimulates these parts to develop differently."

Ford, I don't think you're really saying anything much different from murdoch here.

There are many evolutionary biologists, FWIW, who believe that the fragile Y chromosome is destined to fade away in human reproduction eventually (and that's WITHOUT an artificial assist!)

No matter: human (which is to say, sentient) beings will continue on, one way or another---as long as we don't kill ourselves via weapons or pollution! (That's MY "Christian Anthropology" ;-/)

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 18 July 2009 at 6:33am BST

Drdanfee on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 7:29pm BST hits the proverbial nail on its head, methinks.

“Thus, male is male and female is female, each an allegedly separate piece of the large puzzle. Holy Matrimony fits the two pieces together, and we have a sacred whole, a blessed humanity picture.”

Oh, oh! The half spheres of Plato come to mind ;=) Heathen!

“These basics are supposed to be sacred, final, eternal revelation truth.”

Platonism, again! Heathen! Culture ;=)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 18 July 2009 at 6:55am BST

The Church of England criticising the Church of Sweden. Pot to kettle.

There are more women priests in the Church of England than clergy in the whole Church of Sweden. Yet in 1960, the Church of England criticised the Church of Sweden for ordaining women.

The Church of England allows the re-marriage of divorced persons.It has changed its view of adultery. As Bishop Saul stated at general convention this was the most significant restructuring of marriage.


Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Saturday, 18 July 2009 at 7:23am BST

Well, I for one have written to the Church of Sweden, indicating my wish to serve it on the basis of this enlightened approach, and I hope such messages of support go directly to it from anyone else with the same feeling.

I am glad of this episode - at this moment there is still a persistent undercurrent in my psyche to seek out ordination; as I have mentioned this more and more the reply filtering back to me is that not only will it take a long, long time before anyone is likely to validate this undercurrent but that essentially, you have to be able to 'speak nicely to the Bishop'.

So, I have been rescued from respectability because I honestly know that my sexuality is just more complex than present Anglican structures and policy will allow, and this honesty means I cannot and ought not capitulate to what is being adhered to by the Anglican Church. Frankly it would be wonderful (I know it will never happen) if the Church of Sweden started to missionize...

Posted by: MikeM on Saturday, 18 July 2009 at 7:24am BST

The Church of England will no more be able to break communion with the Church of Sweden than the Episcopal Church.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Saturday, 18 July 2009 at 10:40pm BST

"Ford, I don't think you're really saying anything much different from murdoch here."

Murdoch seemed to imply, or I inferred, that God created us all female, and then His creative initiative stopped and males arose because of some procedure He had put in place for that to happen. I am arguing that God created ALL things, and that that process cannot be seen as a single one time event, but is continuous. Thus, the creation of male from female, which we know to take place in utero, is NOT something extra to God's creative acts, it is one of God's creative acts. His point that the process is variable and doesn't always produce viable results is well taken, but that is a basic part of the process whereby creation works overall. Female organisms aren't always viable either. And I know this isn't a discussion about the superiority of one or the other, either, at least not for me.

"the fragile Y chromosome is destined to fade away"

The point being? Sexual reproduction is about mixing the genetic material of two individuals to allow for greater genetic variability. Whether that takes place in organisms with X and Y chromosomes or some other way is immaterial. Whether or not it is even necessary depends on the time and place. Frequently in the past, asexual reproduction has been more advantageous.

"human (which is to say, sentient) beings will continue on, one way or another---as long as we don't kill ourselves via weapons or pollution! (That's MY "Christian Anthropology" ;-/)"

Which isn't an "anthropology" at all. Who are we? Where do we come from? Do we have a purpose? What is it? Is there a Creator? What is our relationship to Him/Her/It? Is there anything after we die? Does our life here have any effect on that? What is our role in Creation? These are the kinds of questions addressed by what we have been calling Christian "anthropology". I don't see an answer to any of them in what you have said.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 20 July 2009 at 1:49pm BST

Hi Karen-
Obviously the things that are 'normal' include many that are good and many others that are not good, so I wonder why it should be relevant that a given behaviour is (like window-breaking, as well as helping old ladies across roads) part fo the 'normal' spectrum. My answer: because the professionals in question are trained to ask the question 'is it normal?' while excluding other equally relevant questions. And since truth is about comprehensiveness and multi-dimensionality, that is not as it should be.

What is the age or average age at which homosexual orientation is considered to be determined. One can always rightly say 'I haven't met many homosexual babies or indeed childen'; or poiont to the fact that self-identified homosexuals arise more from those groups that encounter campuses promoting same thamn from those that do not; or point to those who might turn to the same gender out of disillusionment with (or revenge on) the opposite gender. But what are the actual data?
So far you are speaking at a high level of generalisation.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 2:20pm BST

"One can always rightly say 'I haven't met many homosexual babies or indeed childen'"

From the things you say, Christopher, I'd say you haven't met many homosexuals at all. But you've been very good at ignoring anything that real honest to God homosexuals have told you on this site, so who knows? I don't understand it either. I mean, the message that God calls homosexuals to celebacy and repentance does not require you to ignore our experiences, nor to promote falsehood against us. You'd get more of an audience if you dealt with us honestly and with respect than you do continually asserting falsehoods we have spent a considerable amount of time trying to give you the truth of. So, if it isn't about truth or the redemption of gay people, what is it about?

"self-identified homosexuals arise more from those groups that encounter campuses promoting same thamn from those that do not"

Please define "promoting". Many of us only publically acknowledge our sexuality in when it is safe to do so. But keeping it a secret doesn't mean it doesn't exist, Christopher. In places that do not "promote" homosexuality, gay people are usually too scared to admit it, so we carry on a charade. We get very good at it. We have to be, since conservatives make the consequences of failure so high. There's places in the world, some of them here in North America, where one slip up would mean death. Just how many gay people do you think would admit it in those circumstances? Again, just because something is not publically acknowledged doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It's amazing how the skill of "passing" never leaves you.

"what are the actual data?"

Indeed. Show me the studies that show people becoming gay in response to "promotion". To be valid, such studies must distinguish between those people who actually experience a change in their sexuality from those who were gay all along and who feel it can be safely admitted in such an environment. These latter cannot be said to have become anything other than honest.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 8:37pm BST

Hi Ford-
You misunderstand. In saying 'What are the data?' I was not implying that there were none (of course data exist for all sorts of things!), but rather asking for chapter and verse. Karen was giving a misleadingly one-sided picture, and I was pointing out that the reality is more complex.

I have met, I guess, the same number of homosexuals as the next guy, but am hopefully more homest than average in not letting personal considerations and friendships get in the way of thought. We have all groaned at the mutual back-slapping from in-groups on book cover recommendations. A good definition of an honest person: one who can distinguish between whether they like a person or not and whether they calculate that person's actions to be good or not.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 24 July 2009 at 1:48pm BST

"point to the fact that self-identified homosexuals arise more from those groups that encounter campuses promoting same than from those that do not;"

Christopher, I don't understand this. Could you rephrase it?

Posted by: BillyD on Friday, 24 July 2009 at 2:30pm BST

"asking for chapter and verse"

And in response to your claim that:

"self-identified homosexuals arise more from those groups that encounter campuses promoting same thamn from those that do not"

I was asking you for chapter and verse. What's more, your use of the word 'promote' and the overall statement itself certainly implies that people "become" homosexuals in response to the "promotion" of homosexuality in the society around them. If that is not what you meant, please clarify. I was also asking you to consider the possibility that gay people avoid situations that are hostile to them, and, if they find themselves in such situations, hide their sexuality out of fear. So, it would come as no surprise that you would find more openly gay people in accepting environments. The problem is that you seem to be implying that this means, not that gay people in hostile environments hide their sexuality, which we all know to be true, but that gay people are somehow "created" or "made gay" by being in positive environments. I was, and am, asking you to back up this apparently illogical belief with concrete data.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 24 July 2009 at 7:37pm BST

Wait - gay people arise from environments that promote homosexuality? Is that what Christopher Shell meant? But that doesn't make any sense. Certainly none of the gay people I knew back home in Ft. Worth, Texas, were encouraged to be gay - in fact, it was one of the least encouraging places in the United States for gay people that I can think of.

Posted by: BillyD on Saturday, 25 July 2009 at 2:14am BST

The answer to all these points is important, since Karen's impression that the genetic/inborn factor predominates needs modification/correction from so many different factors that she does not mention.

The research I referred to was the [USA] 1992 National Health and Social Life Survey, published as E.O. Laumann et al., The Social Organisation of Sexuality (Univ. of Chicago '94). 3159 adults were questioned, making this the largest USA survey to that date. If there's been a more recent one I'd be grateful for the info.
-I should correct what I said in one minor respect: the contrast was not between some campuses and others but between college educated and non college educated. There was an 83% increase in self-identifed homosexuals among men and 800% among women.
-Also 600% increase from rural to urban (this is not essentially, though it will be partly, down to migration - since the same applied to 14-16 year olds);
-And 2.5 to 3 times greater chance that self-identified homosexuals had previously been abused.
Other 'environment' factors that cannot possibly be left out of the equation:
-Turning to one gender out of disillusionment with or revenge on the other;
-Intrinsic rebelliousness at college age;
-Greater normalisation of such things on college campuses - people will go with those options that have been suggested to them as live options and/or portrayed as normal, not with those that have not, or those that have not occurred to them;
-Identical twins studies previously mentioned greatly favour environment above genetics.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 25 July 2009 at 6:28pm BST

Another thing to consider about studies like the one Christopher refers is whether or not they accurately reflect how people actually view their sexuality, or whether they reflect how people want others to view their sexuality. Consider this (via Wikipedia):

"...the Hamburg Institute for Sexual Research conducted a survey over the sexual behavior of young people in 1970, and repeated it in 1990. Whereas in 1970 18% of the boys aged 16 and 17 reported to have had same-sex sexual experiences, the number had dropped to 2% by 1990. "Ever since homosexuality became publicly argued to be an innate sexual orientation, boys' fear of being seen as gay has, if anything, increased", the director of the institute, Volkmar Sigusch, suggested in a 1998 article for a German medical journal."

Posted by: BillyD on Saturday, 25 July 2009 at 7:49pm BST

Hi Billy-
Thanks. That is an important factor which should go alongside the seven others I mentioned. Of course, as you note, the interpretation of the figures by Volkmar Sigusch is just that: interpretation.

Rural to urban increase was actually 600% for males and 86% for females.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 12:37pm BST

Christopher, there really isn't any point in showing you the various possible causes for the statistics you cite, is there? You seem to be saying, or I am inferring, that society encourages homosexuality, so more people choose to be gay. Is that it? And you won't consider other possibilities?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 4:13pm BST
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