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(Printed 60 page booklet available in the
which contains footnotes not in this online version.)
See also, Homosexuality: Good & Right in the
Eyes of God?
the Wedding of Truth to Compassion & of Reason to Revelation
and Biblical Sexuality and the Battle for Science
Part I - Background
Part II - Erosion of the Common Ground
Part III - Retaking the Common Ground
Part IV - The Wider Ground
The following material is meant not only to expose an issue, but to provide resources for following up ideas and claims, and to lead the way to winning the battle for sexual sanity. The footnotes therefore are not meant to be merely decorative, but rather substantial helps to persons who wish to pursue the issues. The article taken together with the footnotes and resources in the endnote will provide the equivalent of a full scale course on the subject at hand (the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality) which should have been openly debated in and out of the Church. Through incompetence or dishonesty, that subject has found very few arenas in which truthful discussion could happen. [NOTE: the footnotes do not appear in the website edition, only in the printed edition. E. Fox]
To include discussion and quotations from all the materials referred to would have expanded this work beyond its intent -- to provide a quick introduction to the basic issues -- and would simply duplicate what others have already done well.
Resources are available on the open market to bring both sanity and common sense back to the discussion and practice of human sexuality. Many of those referenced are available from Emmaus Ministries (see endnote). In the few cases where they are not available from Emmaus Ministries, I have tried to give accurate sources. Both the Episcopal and Lutheran material examined reference works "on their side" of the issue.
Sanity and common sense are not often being promoted by the media, the government, or, sadly, the Church, so that the materials promoting such virtues are not commonly known. It is part of the purpose of this booklet to inform truth-seeking people that the Bible and impartial, competent scientific investigations and researches are in agreement on what constitutes both moral and healthy human sexuality.
'Science' comes from the Latin 'scio', 'to know'. During the middle ages, theology was considered the "queen of sciences" because knowledge of God was rightly understood to be the pinnacle of all knowledge. That was not just an honorific but unreal title. Christian philosophers believed that there was a logical and scientific connection between knowledge of God and all other knowledge, that God really was the source of all other reality. And thus to know God was to know the meaning and purpose and source of all that is.
That is a truth in which Western Christians almost universally no longer trust. Secular interests have persuaded westerners that knowledge of God is not "scientific" knowledge and is therefore bogus. Christians have believed this, by and large, and have therefore accepted the false opposition between "reason" ("real" knowledge possessed by secular folks) and "revelation" (pseudo-knowledge possessed by religious folks). I have addressed the falsehood of that belief elsewhere.1
Belief in that pseudo-cleavage prompted Christians to absent themselves from all areas of public debate, notably in psychology and sexuality, because no one wanted to appear "unreasonable", at least not in public. Secular interests were, naturally, glad (even gleeful) to take over. Secular "science" has given us the sexual devastation which has become the hallmark of the 20th (and now 21st) century. With progress like this, who needs degradation?
God is interested in science. Scientific method is a gift specifically from God to His people, who tragically did not recognize that.2 God is wholly and totally committed to truth, and to honest assessment and testing of truth. That is the meaning of "revelation". God never, not ever, stacks the deck in His own favor. He wants only believers who really, honestly believe, and so presents His case in a manner consistent with that.
It has been the purpose of those promoting the "sex revolution" to claim the high ground in reason and education and scientific expertise. The truth is that they are bankrupt in all of those categories, and by a wide margin. The expertise of those promoting the sex revolution lies in "PR", i.e., propaganda, an uncanny ability to promote matters which if openly and honestly discussed would never gain public approval.
The following is a documentation of the betrayal of Godly truth-seeking through manipulation and management of truth in the Christian community, although the practices are found in all levels of public education and government today. The common ground of discussion is dominated by a media which has all but abandoned truth-seeking and truth-telling in the most vital issues of life.
A Church not dedicated to truth has betrayed and abandoned its missionary commission. A nation whose media is dedicated to mind-control rather than truth sooner or later becomes incapable of sustaining a democratic republic. In both cases, community life is eroded because the trust level for truth-telling falls below the minimum operating level. Both the Church and the American democratic republic have moved from solid ground -- founded originally on both Biblical and scientific principles -- onto the quicksand of relative truth and propagandizing. We have abandoned scientific debate governed by honest ground rules.
A quick side look at a related issue: the occult. The word 'occult' does not necessarily mean 'spooky', it means 'hidden'. But in hidden places is where most spooky stuff takes place because it has little public acceptance. The more truth is made a priority, the more the occult has to hide in the shadows. There is a large underworld of occult societies and practices, which is at least as fractured as the rest of the world, probably more, given its commitment to pursuit of power, not truth. Any unity it has will be fragile because maintained by coercion or mind-control. But every society has its share of the occult. It has no sword of truth because truth is only a "tool" for its power struggle, not an end in itself. Persons who pursue truth in hiding due to persecution are not of the occult -- if they come out of hiding when the persecution stops, and engage in honest debate. But the occult today, and other power oriented folks, commonly use the strategies described below.
It is my hope that this booklet will assist honest people in retaking the "common ground" -- where truth-seekers of all persuasions can meet to discuss, and where the grace of God can flow most freely and substantially. (See articles on honest pluralism.) Paul links praying for our rulers with a peaceable life and the consequent spread of the Gospel (I Tim. 2:1 ff.). A primary role of government is to protect the equal access of citizens to the common ground, the commonwealth, and it is that public arena in which Christians are to preach, in open and honest competition with others, the Good News of Jesus, the Christ.
Suppose you were able to construct a forum into which your opponents would be invited to discuss issues at odds between you -- in which your opponents were not allowed to present their viewpoint, nor argue with your viewpoint. Your view would be presented as the latest in science, reasonableness, and agreed scholarship, with no obligation to prove your points?
A person of honor would be embarrassed at the suggestion. Yet that is what certain mainline denominations are offering under the guise of "dialogue".
Human sexuality has become THE topic of discussion in perhaps every Christian denomination. The Episcopal General Convention at Phoenix in 1991, for example, in an effort to determine the mind of the "people in the pew" asked in a resolution for continued dialogue on sexuality at parish level, with responses to be channeled to the next General Convention in 1994.
The resolution acknowledged that traditional sexual morality was still the accepted teaching of the Episcopal Church, that the Convention would work to resolve the discontinuity some experienced with traditional teaching, and that it had failed to do so by legislative means or by resolutions directed at "singular and various aspects of these issues". But the specific aim of the resolution was ambiguous.
The resolution asked for all congregations to enter into dialogue on the sexuality issues "to deepen their understanding", and that a dialogue process be formed, the results of which would flow from parish, to diocese, to province, and finally to the next General Convention in 1994. The flow of information and response from the dialogue process would be used by the House of Bishops to "prepare a Pastoral Teaching ... using the learning from the diocesan and provincial processes and calling upon such insights as is necessary from..." -- in effect, all interested parties.
The resolution is ambiguous because nowhere does it frame the issue for dialogue. No specific question is asked, only that Christians "dialogue" about sex, presumably about homosexual and heterosexual orientations, but that is not specified. One would expect from the nature of the controversy which bids fair to rend the Church asunder that the issue of dialogue would be clearly stated:
Is homosexual behavior good and right in the eyes of God,
or is the Biblical view of human sexuality in essence heterosexual?
That is the point at issue, and, being decided, the Church could then move ahead with a clear vision and a clear conscience. And lacking that, with neither.
But that question is never broached.
In response to General Convention, Province VII of the Episcopal Church has produced HUMAN SEXUALITY: A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE (HS:CP) to facilitate such dialogue at parish level.3
Similar efforts have been made in other denominations (we will look briefly at a Lutheran effort). The issues and conflicts flow across all parish and denominational boundaries, and indeed beyond the Church itself into secular politics and education. A review of HS:CP is thus able to shed light on many issues which concern not only all Christians but all Americans.
...have to be seen to be believed. Even most Episcopalians are not aware of a work called The Sex Atlas, published several years ago by Seabury Press, at that time the Episcopal Church publishing house. It was a several hundred page volume, in verbal and photographic detail describing and advocating nearly every form of sexual activity and perversion, limited only by one's imagination, as acceptable behavior.
The book was quietly withdrawn, after inquiries were made as to why the Episcopal Church would be publishing sexual insanity, and perhaps because someone decided that the Episcopal Church was not yet ready for this kind of freedom. A "gentler" and more strategic approach would apparently be needed.
Some will recall the NEWARK REPORT, published by the Episcopal Diocese of Newark under Bishop John Spong. However one might disagree with its theology or sexology, the NEWARK REPORT did have the virtue of openly engaging the issues. The gauntlet was thrown down by the "liberal" wing of the Episcopal Church.4 Homosexuality, premarital sex, and post-marital sex were declared to be acceptable for any reasonable and compassionate Christian.
That work was followed by HUMAN SEXUALITY: A DIVINE GIFT, sex education material of similar nature produced by "815", the Episcopal Church Center in New York. The two created such a firestorm that at the 1988 General Convention in Detroit, the latter was discontinued. Similar events have occurred in other denominations.
Some disasters are so cleverly packaged that one can look them directly in the eye, even help design them, and be innocent and unaware of their true nature.
HS:CP promotes the same sexual morality as the NEWARK REPORT and HUMAN SEXUALITY: A DIVINE GIFT, but it is packaged within presentation techniques that raise it to a new level of sophistication. We will be looking below only briefly at the content of Christian sexual morality advocated or implied, and primarily at the dialogue process and presentation techniques which are built into the material.5
THE LIVING CHURCH, an Episcopal weekly, reporting on HS:CP, quoted the Rev. Betsy Lesieur from Rhode Island: "What we want to accomplish is to enable dialogue, not debate." And the Rev. Ron Molrine of Trexlertown, PA: "We are recommending that the congregational dialogues be exchanges, non-judgmental conversations -- and, only as a last resort, presentations."6 These themes run consistently throughout HS:CP. We will discover in the material itself why dialogue is chosen over debate.
In May of 1990, I found myself in a letter-to-the-editor exchange with Robert Selverstone, then president of the board of SIECUS, who also helped design and teach the sex-ed program at Staples High School in Westport, Ct., next door to Norwalk, where I then lived.7 Dr. Selverstone had said in a radio debate a few weeks earlier that he had two absolute laws which he would impose on any of his classes:
(1) No "killer" statements, i.e., no statements that criticized the behavior, ideas, or preferences of anyone else;
(2) Everyone is to use "I" (not "we") statements, to speak only for themselves, not to generalize to include other people.
The rules were allegedly to prevent "putting people down", and to facilitate an open atmosphere where everyone would feel free to express their feelings about sensitive matters.
I replied that his rules made impossible the very meaning of substantive education -- the passing on of previously gained truth to rising generations, and the equipping of students to find and integrate new knowledge.
It is important to know whether there is a "right" or a "wrong" way to have sexual relations, and if there is, what that might be. That is vital survival information for any culture to pass on to it's children. Rational sex education cannot be merely the technology of sex, taught often in a patently seductive way. To be called "rational", education must include moral knowledge. To omit moral training from sex education is child abuse, and ought to be called such.
Morality is often the most interesting and vital part of education. But Selverstone's rules made passing on that kind of knowledge impossible, and would spell the destruction of any culture which pursued such foolishness. One wonders how people with doctorates from prestigious universities can be unaware of these truths.
The first rule makes it impossible even to raise the question of the right- or wrongness of a behavior, thus making moral distinctions impossible. And the second rule forbids generalizations. Morality is like science -- it is the search for general rules of conduct, just as science is the search for general rules in nature. All rational knowledge involves discovery of general rules about something. Sex education and sexual morality are not an exception.
The rules imposed by Dr. Selverstone (not voted on by his class) are duplicated in sex-ed classes and values clarification classes all over America, and are becoming the basis of increasingly larger segments of education. (It is, in some growing circles, thought to be "imposing one's own viewpoint" to tell a student that he has misspelled a word or used poor grammar.)8
The rules arise out of "non-directive" techniques used in therapy begun by Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, and William Coulson in the 1960's -- which were quickly imported into education circles.
Maslow realized two years before he died in 1970 that they had spawned an educational monster which would destroy American schools, and wrote furiously, but ineffectively, to "recall" the product. Ideas do not recall as easily as cars. Rogers, "Mr. Non-Directive" himself, admitted before he died some years later, that non-directive education was a failure. And William Coulson has campaigned around the country to persuade people to stop using in education the non-directive methods the trio invented for therapy. In every documented study, he says, the evidence shows that non-directive methods produce precisely the opposite effect intended -- more drug use, not less, more sexual promiscuity, not less.9
It is these rules and this kind of process which has controlled Church thinking and discussion for over three decades.
"Ground rules" are rules which operate to structure a certain "ground" -- in this case, the arena of sexuality discussion. Rules are instituted to facilitate the purpose of the discussion. In a courtroom, certain rules of evidence and testimony are kept. Judges, juries, and attorneys each have their role to play and their limitations.
Scientific investigation likewise has it ground rules. Every academic discipline is defined by the rules of truth-seeking and truth-testing for its given area. The rules for physics will be different for those in history, or in theology. A scientific discipline is recognized by its ability to market a set of consistent rules which are acknowledged to lead to the truth of the subject matter.
The only purpose of such ground rules is to come to a true and just conclusion about the matter at hand. They are therefore the foundation upon which the rest of the truth-testing process can continue. They define the structure of the "common ground" upon which persons of differing opinions can meet to discuss their differences with the most hope of resolving those differences. It is "common" because anyone has the privilege of entering that ground to have his assertions tested.
The "common ground" is ultimately, of course, truth, reality -- whatever "really is" -- the universe we all share. The purpose of the ground rules is to mediate between our differing and conflicting perceptions of that common world, and our differing and conflicting purposes for the use of that common world.
* * *
Opening HS:CP, we find that the ground rules "for enabling caring dialogue" include:
1. These sessions are confidential. We are free to discuss our own comments or feelings with outsiders, but not those of any other person in this group.
2. We discuss issues, but we do not name persons.
3. We give all equal time to speak and to be heard. Differing view are not to be argued, but honored as valid for that person.
5. We speak from our own experience, use "I" statements instead of making generalizations about folks "out there" or speaking for each other here.10 [My emphasis.]
The rules are repeated over and again
Like Selverstone's rules, these are not optional, they are imposed. Non-directive schemes always have a very directive substructure, seldom made clear in the effort to appear open, accepting, compassionate, and inclusive.
No totally non-directive process can exist. Every process has its foundational rules of procedure. That is the meaning of a process -- there is a direction. It is my purpose here to make evident the direction in which HS:CP (and similar programs) will take its participants.
It is not the imposition of rules with which one might take issue, but rather the false impression given that this process is open and non-directive, that every participant is given freedom to express his or her viewpoint. Clearly there is at least one viewpoint that is not allowed expression: that some things really are right and some really are wrong -- any view of objective morality. The dialogue process is deceitfully imposing its own "morality" about non-morality.
Numbers 2 and 3 above have the effect of Selverstone's "no killer statements" rule. The thrust of #2 is not to promote the discussion of issues rather than personalities, as might appear, but rather to reinforce #5, the "I" statement rule, that no generalizations are to be made by way of referring to other people. #3 rules out the discussion of issues in any substantive sense. The only discussion allowed is simply each person's stating his own personal opinion or bias or experience. No generalizing to other people is allowed, and no debating or arguing of issues is allowed.
What might be the goals of a process structured by such ground rules? What kind of "ground" are we standing on? The text tells us that the ground rules are to enable "caring dialogue". One can care for persons and one can care also for truth.
Disallowing the argument of issues, however, means that the goal of the dialogue is not to discover the truth of the issue. There is no other way to discover truth than by first naming the issue, and then putting the various options on the table to assess the evidence for or against them. That is the basis of scientific method, often done in a debate mode, each side trying to defend its case. But HS:CP makes no more direct mentions of the issue than did the originating resolution from General Convention, and it strictly prohibits putting the evidence for the contending alternatives up for comparison and discussion.
If the purpose is not to discover the truth of the issue (Is homosexual behavior right or wrong?), then what is the purpose? Not many options are left to choose from.
Firstly, one might suppose that the purpose was for people to bridge emotional and cultural barriers and to begin to see each other as persons, regardless of their viewpoints, i.e., "for enabling caring dialogue". Such would be a commendable Christian objective.
But that does not explain why the dialogue results will be brought to the House of Bishops as an aid to a Pastoral Teaching. The information that many people had gotten together and made friends, even learned to love one another might contribute toward a Pastoral Teaching on love, but it would contribute nothing at all toward a teaching on the right- or wrongness of homosexuality. It is part of the foolishness of our times that people think they can "care for" people apart from caring for truth. But if I attempt to care for my friend with no concern for the truth, my caring will end up destroying him. As we say, With friends like these, who needs enemies?
Clearly, the point of parish dialogue is to help resolve the conflict which has been raised specifically by efforts of the gay lobby to legitimize homosexuality in the Christian community. The bishops are asking: "What do you think?" And that means that, one way or another, the issue will be decided. If it is not decided openly and in principle, nevertheless, it will be decided in actual practice: homosexuality is right, or it is wrong.
Or, secondly, and ominously, one might suppose (see rule 3 above) that the framers of the material were convinced that truth is all relative, and that therefore there is no issue to debate. Each person can have his own private and personalized truth. Everyone wins and everyone gets a prize. The purpose then would be to have everyone experience the relativity of truth in sexuality issues, and thereby become convinced of it. The dialogue process in that case is a training process in the relativity of truth.
Or, thirdly, and more ominously, one wonders if persons behind the material had their own version of the truth which they were interested in putting over -- without other folks knowing what was being done to them. In that case, talk about pluralism and relative truth is simply a ploy to get one's own "truth" established into law by deceitful means. "Everyone's truth is relative, except mine." As Richard John Neuhaus said in another context: "He appears to leave no doubt that the question should be open so that it can be closed in the direction he favors."11
Goals are listed for this dialogue process (p. 5-6), but nowhere is there indicated a concern for truth-seeking. The effect, and therefore (one assumes) the purpose, is not by open examination to resolve the primary issue: Is homosexuality right or wrong?
Page 3 of HS:PC is a full page, two column comparison entitled "Dialogue vs. Debate":
1. The goal of dialogue is increased understanding of myself and others.
2. I listen with a view toward understanding.
3. I listen for strengths so as to affirm and learn.
4. I speak for myself from my own understanding and experience.
5. I ask questions to increase understanding.
6. I allow others to complete their communications.
7. I concentrate on others' words and feelings.
8. I accept others' experiences as real and valid for them.
9. I allow the expression of real feelings for understanding and catharsis.
10. I honor silence.
1. The goal of debate is the successful argument of my position over that of my opponent.
2. I listen with a view of countering what I hear.
3. I listen for weaknesses so as to discount and devalue.
4. I speak based on assumptions made about others' positions and motivations.
5. I ask questions to trip up or confuse.
6. I interrupt or change the subject.
7. I focus on my own next point.
8. I critique others' experiences as distorted or invalid.
9. I express my feelings to manipulate others; I deny their feelings as legitimate.
10. I use silence to gain advantage.
The above absurdly prejudiced comparison, prompts one to feel guilty for even suggesting that we ought to "debate" the issues, that is, that we should have an open and honest comparison of the viewpoints with the evidence for each. "Who, me?! I would not think of wanting to start a fight!"
The negative description is not of a debate but of a rude person. We are all familiar with situations in which debate becomes adversarial and vicious, such as criminal trials, college debates, or even "friendly" bull sessions. That is why in trials we have judges and juries, "referees" to ensure that hostile parties, who cannot be trusted to maintain their objectivity, have an honest debate. If we were all unalterably dedicated to truth, there would be no need for courts, judges, and juries.
The impression of "debate" changes dramatically if we put 'scientific' in front of it. A "scientific debate", we all know, is an attempt through honest presentation of evidence to get the truth of a matter. Everyone is allowed to present his case, no one is given coercive force to compel his case, anyone can critique the other person's case or evidence -- i.e. cross-examine the presenter. Any case must win on its merits tested in open examination.
There is no hint of "putting anyone down" in such a process, because it presupposes that participants do not have their egos or their personal identities invested in "winning". We trust the process because we understand that everyone wins if the truth is found.
Positions are therefore plural. Everyone is invited into the arena of debate. But truth is not plural, it is singular. Singular truth is selected from among the plurality of candidates.
Not everyone, therefore, can win their position, but all truth-seekers win nevertheless if truth is found. They win reality. Those who are not seeking truth but merely wanting to "have their way" will lose reality, and eventually, their eternal life.
Only in that sense can there "be no outcasts" in deciding issues. In the economy of God, truth-seekers will never be outcasts. But those who persist as unrepentant manipulators and charlatans will indeed be outcast.
The goal of debate therefore is not to "win my point", but to find the truth of the matter. "Is the accused guilty or not?" Revealing the truth may not be the defendant's goal, but it is the goal of the trial process, and of any honest debate procedure.
The Christian has one commitment prior to his commitment to God: to find the truth, at any cost to himself. There is no statement of faith to which a Christian is not first obligated to say: "I want to know the truth of the matter." God is a God of truth. Or, as Elijah put it, "How long will you go limping on two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him."12 And then Elijah conducted an empirical experiment to find out who indeed is God.
HS:CP is programmed precisely to prevent any open discussion of the issues. Commitment to God is not Godly commitment if it is not based on truth-seeking. God is willing to risk His case on an open presentation of the truth (we call it "revelation" and "reason"), and He expects us to do no less.
At a clergy conference in the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut in the late 1980's, some fifty clergy were gathered in a circle with an "open-ended" agenda. Since the Church was engaged in far-reaching decisions on sexuality, and had never to my knowledge had an open discussion on the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality, I proposed such a discussion.
I knew that there were homosexual clergy there, and that it would be difficult for them. But it is wrong to allow fear of pain to undercut the honesty and openness of a discussion upon which policy, public or private, will be based. The truth is seldom painless, but we are obligated nevertheless to find the truth -- at any cost to ourselves.
There was a visible flinch from the assembled clergy. The first response flew back to my raising the issue: "Well, we know where that comes from -- homophobia." I replied that the issue raised was the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality, not my whether I was homophobic, and that I would not allow an evasion of the issue.
It became quickly apparent that, try as I might, the discussion would not happen. The spiritual, moral, and intellectual leaders of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut were incapable of openly addressing an issue of paramount importance for which decisions were being forced by the aggressive homosexual lobby. (To be fair, it does not appear that the leadership of many other religious constituencies are capable either. I pick on the Episcopal Church because I know it best, and I love it.) We were being pushed into a decision and not allowed a clear discussion of the issues. Only a pathological and dysfunctional community will allow that to happen to itself.
Why this was so became apparent as I walked out of the room at the end. One of the women approached me and asked, "How could you do that to people?" Somewhat perplexed, I asked, "Do what?" I had raised "the issue". I fumbled about for an answer, and finally said, "Well, I feel comfortable with my position." To my utter amazement, she replied, "Well, OK," and walked off. Whether my view was true or false made no difference. So long as it made me feel good, it was "OK".
The corporate psyche has been poisoned with a guilt complex about causing pain to homosexual persons (or anyone else) by asking out loud whether their life style is right or wrong. The Selverstone-SIECUS approach has done its work well, and is being employed by groups such as Integrity (the Episcopal pro-homosexual organization) to prevent the discussion of the very moral issues upon which the Church was being called to make decisions. Given the gravity of AIDS and the spiritual health of the Church, that is criminal irresponsibility on the part of Church leadership.
The truth is that the open discussion has yet to happen, not only in the Episcopal Church, but almost any place in the Christian community or anywhere in America. That is an appalling truth for a society which thinks of itself as sophisticated, intellectual, scientific, and objective. We are none of those things. But apparently we feel good about it.
And if we are not truth-seekers, then to that degree, neither are we Christian. The God of Scripture is not interested in any other than truth-seekers for His kingdom. Yet the Christian community has thrown overboard its charts and compass, and our captains (both political and ecclesiastical) are calling, "Full steam ahead!"
The leader of the dialogue is told in the first session to acknowledge that "This entire course is biblically based":
An example of this is that we believe Jesus modeled the best possible method for adult learning. Our Lord's method was the opposite of Moses'. Moses first handed down the law, made a point or a pronouncement, usually occasioning resistance and deeply hostile questions from his hearers. Jesus first asked questions, and then offered a statement or a parable. We will use Jesus' method throughout this course. (P. 6)
This preposterous contrast between the Old and New Testaments has the effect (if accepted) of promoting guilt feelings about objective truth, truth-seeking, and handing down the law -- as though they were not Christ-like. To suggest that Jesus did not give commands, or that He did not occasion vigorous and hostile responses is to suggest that the writer had not read the New Testament. Jesus handed down the toughest commands anyone will ever have to obey: Pick up your cross daily and follow me -- Love one another as I have loved you. And His words occasioned a (somewhat) hostile crucifixion.
The leader is then told to recall that:
When we Anglicans/Episcopalians are seeking to discern God's will for us, we start with our biblical base and then add tradition and reason.
An unsuspecting and untrained parishioner might not discern that there is nothing Biblical, traditional, or reasonable about dialogue which subverts honest truth-gathering. The "tyranny of the expert" holds an astonishing sway over people who have all but forgotten the rules and skills of honest public debate, and are thus impotent to publicly challenge such pretentions.
* * *
In session III, the material declares that the Venite (Psalm 95) and Eucharistic prayer C (Book of Common Prayer, page 370) present two opposing worldviews, along the lines of the contrast between Moses and Jesus.
The psalmist sees earth from the ground level, so to speak, and god [sic] as one among many deities, though for him the greatest.
The Eucharistic prayer sees earth from outer space and God as the one creator of all, a concept that would be inconceivable to the psalmist. (p. 42-3)
The psalmist is, of course, saying precisely what the writer denies him to be saying. The fundamental point of the Old Testament is that there is only one God, and that all other beings are created and dependent beings. Radical Old Testament monotheism was assumed, not invented, by the New Testament. But not to worry:
We can rejoice in both views, because we have had both views in our experience.
In other words, the simple experience of a view is sufficient to make it true. One does not need to bother about all that adversarial truth-testing. We can all be friends and honor one another's "experience". Nevermind that making truth relative destroys the very meaning of truth.
The text goes on to imply that Christians who really are Biblically rooted on the sexuality issues are comparable to the "Flat Earth Society", out of date and of no rational consequence. They simply do not like having their "Flat Earth" sexuality challenged.13
We in our time, have similar reactions when our world view is challenged --- this time on sexuality. We have available to us new learning, new revelation, new truth that calls on us to re-think some of the traditional teachings of the Church. We have just gone through such a process in the area of women's ordination and now we are going through it again in the area of sexual orientation.
The promoters of this dialogue apparently believe that the congregation has been sufficiently lobotomized so they will no longer challenge anyone's viewpoint, and so feel free to present an interpretation of Christian history which will not bear open inspection.
It is nowhere stated just what the "new learning, new revelation, and new truth" might be. One suspects that they mean the work of Freud, Kinsey, Masters and Johnson, John Money, SIECUS, Planned Parenthood, et al. The work neither of these persons nor of any other has provided evidence to justify the claim that homosexuality is either morally right or medically healthy, but few laymen will challenge the authority of the experts from the diocese or national Church.14 The illusion of truth has been a media construction, not a scientific discovery.15
The assertion that HS:CP is "biblical" is simply untrue.
The program begun in THE SEX ATLAS, THE NEWARK REPORT, and HUMAN SEXUALITY: A DIVINE GIFT has been fine-tuned to become a much "gentler" psychological mind-control program. Techniques which can have legitimacy in therapy sessions have been applied to public debate to undercut resistance and control the outcome.
The three therapeutic techniques are - you guessed it - (1) confidentiality (rule 1), (20 forbidding criticism of someone else's behavior, feelings, or experience (rules 2 and 3), and (3) confinement to "I" statements (rule 5).
In a therapeutic process, these rules are sometimes helpful. Confidentiality between client and therapist, or among members of a group therapy, is necessary because one is being encouraged to divulge personal, intimate, and perhaps painful information. Forbidding criticism can be helpful because therapy aims to provide an arena in which the client will feel free to bring to the surface even those events of which he might be ashamed. A non-judgemental atmosphere is therefore necessary.
But "non-judgemental" does not (in Christian counseling, at least) entail the abandonment of moral standards. Any reasonable standard of health presupposes moral as well as psychological integrity. Sinful behavior does not cease to be sinful in the counseling chamber. Non-judgementalism means "not condemning people". It does not mean "not condemning immoral actions". Non-judgementalism offers forgiveness, not a whitewash. A psychologically healthy person faces his sins and seeks forgiveness. Moral denial is a sign of spiritual and/or psychological dysfunction, not liberation.
And, to minimize evasion of one's own problems and issues, a therapist may tell the client: "talk about yourself, not your spouse (boss, kids, parents, etc.), i.e., use "I" statements. He does not limit the client to "I" statements in order to save offenders from the pain of their legitimate guilt.
Therapy investigates what is psychologically "inside" the person, so the rules make sense. But when one takes these techniques and applies them to an arena, the point of which is to find the truth of a matter of public concern, they become unreasonable and destructive -- as follows:
(1) Imposing confidentiality in a public debate situation encourages the sharing of things that are personal and intimate by creating an atmosphere of safe vulnerability. If then a homosexual person shares confidential experiences and feelings, the other participants are inhibited from dealing with the homosexual issue because they do not want to hurt the homosexual person.
One might equally forbid a plaintiff's testimony at a trial on the grounds that it causes the defendant pain. In the sexuality debate, not persons, but ideas and policies, are on trial. But, if the debate goes against homosexual behavior, then by implication some persons will be "on trial" for their behavior. That fear drives the distortion of the dialogue process. Many in the fallen world would rather live in darkness than face the judgement:
that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19)
Some may not know that their deeds are evil, but many are not even willing to risk finding out.
The use of imagination is another therapeutic technique reinforcing this introduction of private and confidential material. Participants are asked to imagine various emotionally charged scenes (page 75-6), and to use private visualization to explore feelings about alternate life-styles (p. 35-6). Therapeutic techniques are used to open the door to the "possibility" of alternative (i.e. homosexual) life styles devoid of any objective critique of the issues.
These methods promote the sharing of personal and intimate material, sometimes out of the unconscious, and are, one must suppose, being used purposively to create what every competent therapist knows they do in fact create -- an arena of vulnerability. Persons who want to skew the debate then can use the introduction of painful and intimate material to do just that.
Feelings are thus separated from relationship, the arena of clear moral commitment, and are treated as independent and self-authenticating ("this is my experience"). It is one thing to bring feelings to the surface for healing, it is quite another to bring them to the surface as a manipulative tool to justify a questionable moral stance.
(2) Imposing a stop card against debate on the spurious grounds that debate is inherently hostile, gives an illusion of kindness, all the while subverting the goal reasonable people would enter the dialogue in the first place -- to discover the truth of the matter. Truth-seeking requires putting the various options on the table and assessing the evidence for them, the basis of scientific method.
This skewed procedure allows the facilitator to bring in his own viewpoint, now protected from challenge -- precisely what happens in HS:CP. The pseudo-Biblical viewpoint is inserted into the discussion as though it were not to be argued with, when it has no positive relation to the Bible, but considerable relation to the pro-homosexual program.
(3) Imposing "I" statements prevents moral discussion, because, as already noted, moral discussion by its very nature is about generalizations which include all people, not just myself -- just as natural science searches for general principles about how all nature works.
The effect of turning inward to one's privatized feelings is to isolate oneself from significant dependency and authority relations (parents, family, church, etc.). One becomes an "autonomous, independent decision maker" ("de-satelliting" is the buzz word). So people are led to make far-reaching moral decisions in the absence of objective moral standards.
Production of guilt is the underlying tool which makes the techniques work. One who objects to the program or raises relevant inquiries is likely to be told that he is homophobic, sexist, uncompassionate, engaged in "black/white, either/or thinking", rigid, fundamentalist, etc. He will be portrayed as one who discounts and devalues the other, asks questions to trip up or confuse, etc., or as a "Moses", not a "Jesus".
Techniques and rules which, rightly used, are appropriate to a therapeutic session are thus being employed in what is advertised as open dialogue to aid the House of Bishops in constructing their Pastoral Teaching.
The actual effect, however, of using this "therapeutic mind-control" will be a tidal wave of pro-homosexual sentimentality washing into the House of Bishops as though it were a legitimate expression from the "man in the pew". If one's problem is a need to control the minds of one's fellow parishioners, this is indeed the material of choice. It is very effective.
Effective, that is, until the cover is blown. Then it looks like what it is: an attempt to promote a cause which has no hope of public acceptance if presented openly and honestly.
Who, one asks, was responsible for producing material that violates both intellectual integrity and Christian sexuality? Who would produce material the process of which is deceitful and the content of which is not Christian? Who would propose such inept (or dishonest) Biblical interpretation? Who would be skilled sufficiently in group dynamics and psychological processes to be able to weave together the entrapment to be sprung on well educated parishioners?
"He commits high treason against the faith who fears the results of any investigation," said Frederick Temple, a 19th century scholar and the father of the great William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury. It is clear that the originators of HS:CP fear an open inspection of their own presuppositions and beliefs. It is also clear that, despite their advertised advocacy of compassion, inclusiveness, and "caring dialogue", they show little honest respect for those virtues.
If this is not a betrayal of our covenant relation with God, what more needs to be added to make it so?
One does not want to believe that either General Convention, Province VII, "815" (the Episcopal Church Center), Consultant/Trainers Southwest (the consulting organization16), or even Integrity (the Episcopal pro-homosexual organization) deliberately and knowingly set out to produce a mind-control program aimed at the paganization of the Church. But the program is there, and many people at high level were involved in its production and approval.
It is my opinion that only a few of those involved have really understood the pernicious nature of this program, but that those few who did used their "techniques" very effectively on the many others engaged in the process, who were unable or unwilling to raise a hue and cry.
Nevertheless, how can it be that intelligent clergy and parishioners can be led into such programs and not realize they have had rings put in their noses? How has it come about that we are willing to tolerate such abuse of ourselves by persons who have either no capacity or no desire for truth-seeking?
A part of the answer was given by Alan Bloom in THE CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND, in which he demonstrates the collapse in modern culture of our grasp on objective reality. Anyone raised in America in the last five decades will not have escaped the steady drift into relative truth and morality. Students are no longer taught to think or write clearly, to examine evidence for its merits, and to come to clear, logical conclusions. How that happened is another long story, but, if one was in doubt, Bloom has demonstrated the fact of it.17
There is a tragic blindness of persons who have come to believe their own press, who so want the homosexual agenda to be acceptable that they see anything contrary as evil. The same logic has fed the programs of every fascist and totalitarian regime since the beginning of time. "If you disagree with me, you must be crazy."
And that, then, justifies the use of dishonest and manipulative means to promote their cause. Like the idolater of Isaiah 44:
He feeds on ashes; a deluded mind has led him astray,
and he cannot deliver himself or say,
"Is there not a lie in my right hand?"
The Church deals in the market place of truth. The Church's currency is worth little on today's "truth" market because the Church has pursued policies, which if pursued in the commercial market place would lead to bankruptcy or jail. As one pastor was told: "There are only two places in the world where one could act as stupidly as you have and survive -- in government and in the Church."
The dialogue results are to be sent to the House of Bishops to assist in a Pastoral Teaching. The bishops have publicly admitted their own dysfunctional state and are themselves embarking on a new direction in mutual dialogue. One wonders whether the same, or like-minded, persons are managing that process. Will the bishops come to substantive discussion about the nature and mission of the Gospel, or will they get stuck in another endless "feel good" maze of smoke, mirrors, and relative truth? Therapy and healing of relations is necessary. But an honest therapeutic process is rooted in prior truth commitments. For Christians that requires an understanding of and commitment to Gospel truth.
Churches, like governments, gravitate into a self-preservation mode, systematically insulating themselves from competition, honest dialogue, and dealing with real issues. Only direct confrontation with the Word of God and with one another will keep either government or the Church honest.
I asked above what kind of "ground" we are standing on defined by such a process. We are clearly standing on lethal ground, the quicksand of relative truth. As the hymn says: "All other ground is sinking sand."
Human Sexuality and the Christian Faith is a Lutheran product aiming at producing the dialogue and study in the Lutheran Church.18 They have produced an "Episcopal edition" with the only change apparently being the substitution of an "Episcopal" chapter III by the Rt. Rev. Edward W. Jones, Episcopal bishop of Indianapolis, for a Lutheran chapter.
The Lutheran effort, true to their tradition, focuses more heavily on Scripture study than does HS:CP. It claims a "central role of Scripture in our deliberations." (p. 11)
There are no clearly marked out "ground rules" as in the Episcopal production. There is a recommendation that
Such sharing requires an atmosphere of safety and confidentiality. (p. 6)
But it is allowed that
[Such sharing] also requires an environment of candor in which we can challenge one another's perspectives and positions.
It therefore allows, at least in principle, the kind of openness necessary for debate. But the impression given is of a study and teaching device rather than "dialogue" material.
Yet despite its Biblical pretentions and apparent willingness to have open discussion, the material comes out of the same philosophical mold as HS:CP. The work harps on the cultural bondage of Scripture, so that whatever authority the Bible has, it is not much help with the severe moral and spiritual dilemmas of today -- other than to support the drift toward relative truth and situational ethics.
Although the "Biblical" aspect is much more sophisticatedly carried out and does not contain the blunders of the Episcopal material, it is at the same time pro-homosexual with no hint that there is another perspective which needs to be considered. The rightness of the conclusion is already assumed with no debate allowed.
That is irresponsible and unprofessional scholarship under any conditions. Given the gravity of the issues, that is criminal irresponsibility.
The work has a radical feminist bias, with hardly a good word for men in the whole of the text, and with women consistently portrayed as "victims" -- although the truth of the matter is that men and women are equally victims and victimizers, with sometimes different ways of going about it.
There is a consistent assumption that to be fully human one has to be sexually active, and that to require sexual activity to be limited to a faithful monogamous marriage between a man and a woman is "cruel and unusual punishment". And so we are asked to "rethink" our positions on pre-marital sex, post-marital sex, etc., as per the "correct" conclusion of our times. The "rethinking" is not done with both sides of the issue validly presented in the material.
In short, the Lutheran is for all practical purposes identical to the Episcopal material, with differences only in style and emphasis. The ground rules are not openly deployed, but one gets the impression that they would be quietly in place just the same. They would have to be -- because the pro-homosexual program presented in the Lutheran material would survive no better than the Episcopal, given an open and honest assessment of the Biblical and medical evidence.
If the common ground is structured by the "ground rules", and if the ground rules being used serve, not the cause of truth and justice, but rather of manipulation and deceit, then clearly we must look in other directions for rules which will accomplish what is necessary.
When the ground rules twist the truth, the ground is no longer "common" because one viewpoint is controlling the discussion to eliminate the competition. There is no level playing field. Equal opportunity to present one's viewpoint is subverted.
Honest scientific debate, the attempt to surmount the subjective biases and blind spots with which the human race is so afflicted, requires four fundamental items to be in place. These are the basic and beginning ground rules of legitimate truth testing.
First required is belief in and passionate love of objective truth. If there is no truth "out there" to be discovered, then the process, whether debate or dialogue, is empty of meaning, and will become the target and tool of charlatans and manipulators.
Truth is objective, not relative, even though we all understand that there are some relative truths. My preference for fried chicken does not obligate anyone else to like it. And if someone else proclaims that roast beef is the best meal in the world, I will not be inclined to fight with him. But decisions of public policy involve objective truths affecting many other people, things that are true whether or not anyone likes it. Some of those are moral truths which obligate all of us.
Objective truth is based on the "law of non-contradiction": no statement which contradicts itself can be true. That is the basis of all logical and reasonable thinking. If contradictions can be true, then anything can be true, and then there is no longer a distinction between truth and falsehood. John MacMurray, a Scottish philosopher of the early 1900's, said that -- all thought is for the sake of action, and all action is for the sake of relationship. The reasonableness of our actions and the health of our relationships thus requires clear, logical, and articulate thinking.
"Everyone has a right to his own opinion," it is said. That seems like good American fair play. Every man gets his day in court. But the phrase is being used to promote the notion of relative truth. Relative truth has not a teaspoon of intellectual credence because it is a position logically impossible to hold. The very holding of any position says that at least something is really true, even if the only position being held is that "truth is relative". A truth that contradicts itself is no truth at all. It is the quicksand of nonsense.
I do not have a right to my opinion -- if that means that my opinion has a right to be considered just as true as your opinion. We have, not a right, but on the contrary, an obligation -- to speak the truth. "Speaking the truth" means speaking opinions that have been disciplined by the search for truth in an open and public manner. My only right is to find out in the public testing arena whether my opinion is true. I have a right to enter the arena of truth testing. That is the legitimate pluralism of positions. But I do not have a right to be taken as a truth-speaker without having put my position to the test. Positions are plural. Truth is singular.
The commonness of the ground does not mean that truth is plural, but rather that all persons commonly have a right to test their viewpoints against each other to see which view is true. The commonness refers to the fact that reality is in fact common to all of us, but not that all of us are in touch with it. Who is in touch with reality is precisely the issue to be decided by the testing.
Relative truth has been supported by the notion of "progressive" revelation. "God is saying new things to us today," we are told, and "science has discovered new truths inaccessible to the writers of Scripture." Scripture is "therefore" in a cultural bondage to which we are not obligated to submit.
If God chooses to say something more than He has already said, that is up to Him, and one might call that "progressive" revelation. But there is a difference between progressive revelation and progressive confusion. Revelation in the present will not contradict revelation already given. One cannot support relative truth either through objectifying "experience" as self-validating apart from honest critique, nor by making revelation in a contradictory sense "progressive".
The "liberal" program wants to have "win-win" rather than "win-lose" situations. "There will be no outcasts", as some have naively said. But one does not avoid "win-lose" situations by making truth relative -- "You have your truth, I have mine" We then have only "lose-lose" situations. When truth is subverted, everyone's "win" is a loss. Relative truth is like paper money, the more you make of it, the less you have. Objective truth is the hard currency of life. A "win-win" situation can occur only when the parties in debate are honestly looking for the truth -- and when the truth is in fact found.
Secondly required for honest debate is a commitment to unconditional love. We must love people as much as we love truth because persons are the ultimate embodiment of truth. Persons are loved, not by having their immoral behavior ratified, but by being told the hard truth, and the speaker continuing to honor them as persons nevertheless. Honoring a sinner as a person does not mean ignoring his sin, but correcting and forgiving it. Being an enabler in sin is not honoring to anyone.
We can love another person in the open exchange of ideas only if our personhood, our sense of personal being, is not invested in the outcome of the debate. I must be free to be myself whether or not my position wins. Our egos must be invested in someone who is wholly truthful and loving himself. There is, of course, only one Candidate. If my life is hid in Christ, then I can afford, because I am safe, to love other persons wholly and without condition. I will both speak the hard truth to them and work for their welfare, support, and comfort at any cost to myself. I will not have to "win" the issue.
The Christian community (and the true scientific community) is built on these two foundation stones of objective truth and unconditional love. If either is undermined, the community becomes dysfunctional.
A third condition for the open arena is that any proposal, however absurd, can in principle be offered for discussion. One will not be ridiculed for honestly proposing a matter.
A fourth condition is that no one has to agree with the proposal, which is open for critique from anyone else. The basis of scientific debate is "peer review", which is impossible if confidentiality is imposed.
The critique is on the proposal (or behavior), not on the person. Persons are already justified -- in creation and in salvation. But proposals have to prove themselves in the furnace of open discussion.
Persons are not protected by pluralizing or relativizing truth, but by keeping a clear distinction between who I am and what I propose. Edmond Browning, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, was quoted as saying that the gay and lesbian people are tired of being treated as issues, and want to be treated as people. And indeed, who would not want to be treated as a person, not an issue?
But being so treated requires that I keep the distinction clear between my being (who I am) and my doing (what I propose, or how I behave). Homosexual people tend to respond to criticism of their behavior: "My homosexuality is my being. You are attacking me."
That response precludes criticizing homosexual behavior because criticism is always taken as an attack on their being. And so unconditional love becomes impossible to maintain without agreeing that homosexuality is good and right. One then cannot condemn homosexual behavior and also be loving.
That is the artificial dilemma upon which the pro-homosexual movement wants to impale the dialogue. We conclude on our question without ever having had the necessary presentation of evidence on both sides because the conclusion is forced by the presence of pain and guilt deftly introduced into the discussion.
If homosexual persons wish to be treated as people, not issues, they must agree to disengage within themselves "who they" are from the homosexual issue. Otherwise they force the rest of us to, as they say, attack their being because they make it impossible to get at the issue without "getting at" them.
That there is enormous pain is evident. But the pain cannot be allowed to determine the rules of dealing with the pain, nor the pathology be allowed to decide what is pathological. "He who chooses himself for a doctor has a fool for a patient."
The issues of objective truth must be hammered out in the open arena with rules designed for that purpose, precisely to avoid the subjectivity and bias to which pain makes us vulnerable. Only then can the pain and pathology can be dealt with in the therapeutic arena with rules appropriate there. But if truth is subverted, then pathology will only compound itself -- as all available statistics since 1962 have proven.19
Applying the Rules
When the above ground rules of truth-seeking and truth-testing are forgotten, ignored, or subverted, we are dialoguing and debating in darkness:
If we say that we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His son, cleanses us from all sin. (I John 1:6 ff.)
Walking in the light requires confession of sin, repentance, and receiving forgiveness.
Walking in the light also requires maintaining an arena in which truth can be spoken, the arena of objective truth and unconditional love. Maintaining that arena is the first rule of spiritual warfare and therefore requires the discipline of the above ground rules. We have a right to enter that arena of discussion only if we are willing to abide by the rules.
The primary target of the father of lies is the nature of truth and truth-testing. His major victory in the 20th century has been the massive slide into a relative view of truth and the subversion of honest science. "Truth" is the main switch which effects everything else. If you throw the "truth" switch over from "objective" to "relative", you have already won the battle because you can keep using the same language, institutions, liturgy, and Bibles as before but you have made all the words now mean something radically opposed to what they really mean. With a few psychological and linguistic tricks (see "ground rules"), many will continue to think that you are saying the same thing.
It was said at the Episcopal General Convention at Phoenix in 1991: "There are two religions on the floor!" Some were shocked and dismayed, pointing to the common heritage which we all share. But the truth was out. We only used to share it. Those for whom the switch remained on "objective" were in spiritual warfare with those for whom the truth switch had been flipped to "relative" .
It is idle to claim a commitment to truth without a commitment also to the discipline of truth-testing. Objective truth is found (1) by experiencing something of life, and then (2) reasoning carefully about that experience. That requires debate in the scientific sense. All knowledge, religious or otherwise, comes through experience and reasoning about our experience. The "discipline of truth-testing" is that imposed by the proper ground rules. "All other ground is sinking sand...."
The supporters of relative and subjective truth want to make "experience" the sole criteria without ever submitting the interpretation of the experience to a review. That means simply that they want their interpretation of the experience to ride rough shod over anyone else's interpretation because they insist that their "experience" is self-validating without any objective reasoning about it. They accomplish their purpose in the "dialogue" by shutting down the reasoning half of the process.
The Church has a position on homosexuality -- consistently for over three millennia. There is not a single favorable reference in Scripture nor from any orthodox theologian or pastor in the early Church. Everyone knew that -- until the sex revolution of the last three decades successfully invaded the Church.
Christians must be open to talking with anyone about any issue. But Christians come to a discussion with the Christian position. Thus, the issue is not whether some people experience their homosexuality as compatible with the Christian faith, but whether it really and objectively is compatible.
The burden of proof is on those who want to change an established position, to bring evidence that their case is correct and that the tradition has been mistaken. The case must rest on an open assessment of the Biblical evidence and of the empirical medical or biological evidence.
* * *
William Coulson, a co-founder with Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow of non-directive therapy, describes the negative effects of using non-directiveness in drug and sex education.20 Students in a non-directive setting are told to forget about what they have heard from the authorities in the lives (parents, church, etc.) from whom they are encouraged to "de-satellite". They are told that "they have a choice" about using drugs, and that they should "consider the choices" so that they can decide for themselves which is the right choice. Non-directive education does not tell the student that there is a "right" or a "wrong" way, but rather that the student must consider all the options and decide for himself what "right" or "wrong" means in that situation. This is calculated and deceitful teaching to be irresponsible.
This is called "situational" ethics because each situation is alleged to be so unique that no generalizations can be made, and therefore each situation must be judged independently by the person in it. Non-directive education promises to teach students how to make those judgements "responsibly". But responsible to what or whom? By what possible principles would one ever know if one was right or wrong -- since no since no generalizations are allowed?
As every alert parent and teacher knows, there is a sense in which a child or student must make his own decision. No one can make my decisions for me. Only I can decide to do the right thing or the wrong thing. And then I am "responsible" for that decision. That is the meaning of personal "responsibility".
But that is quite different from saying to a child that he not only must decide whether to do the right or the wrong thing, but that it is his independent and autonomous decision as to what right and wrong is. The first everyone is obligated to do, the second we are all logically incapable of doing. We are obligated to choose the right and to reject the wrong, we are incapable of making up our own meaning of right and wrong. That is a decision God, and only God, can make -- a logical fact from which there is no escape. [See Defining 'Oughtness' and 'Love' in the Ethics Library.]
The only being in the universe who logically can decide what right and wrong is God. If God exists, and if God has given us a purpose for existence, then that decision is made. We can obey or disobey it, but we cannot make or unmake it. Objective morality is a standard which is true and to which we are responsible -- whether or not we like it.
Coulson tells of a German student who had brought his family to America to get a Ph. D. He was quite disturbed to find his young child coming home from school with a notice that there would be a program to help the children decide whether or not to take drugs. He went to the school and informed the principle that that decision had already been made -- by the child's parents. The child would not take drugs.
The non-directive approach tells us to "consider all the options", as though certain things, like taking drugs or being in favor of the homosexual lifestyle, were options -- when they are not. God has already made those decisions, and it is not up to us to remake them.
* * *
The same principles apply in determining the nature of the Christian faith. Some things are already decided. The Bible defines the meaning of the word 'Christian'. Christianity is the faith in God as given in Scripture interpreted through the creeds and the great ecumenical councils. That is an objective fact. Christianity is not (any more than Hinduism, Islam, or, for that matter, secularism) merely what anyone "experiences" it to be.
Those who support homosexuality then do not have the "option" of deciding what Christianity or its morality is. The burden of proof is on them to show objectively that homosexuality is consistent both with Scripture (is it moral or immoral?) and with medical and psychological science (is it healthy or pathological?).21 It is not a sign of homophobia to demand of pro-homosexual people clear and objective evidence. It is the common sense expectation which we should all place on each other.
The content of Christianity has been preached from the housetops for centuries. There are indeed in-house disputes which have caused division and pain within the Church. But when one lines up Christianity beside secularism or paganism, there is no question as to which is which. The confusion into which some people have fallen about the nature and content of Christianity over the last century does not obligate anyone else to become confused. Confusion does not give license to call one's doubts "Christianity". And if some choose not to drink from the Christian waters, that does not give them license to trample and muddy the waters of honest discussion so no one else wants to drink there either.
Christians are bound to honor honest discussion with any person. That is so because Christians are irrevocably committed to truth, and because that arena of truth telling is the primary common ground of life where honest people can meet to discuss their differences. It is true also because in any honest arena, Biblical truth can more than hold its own. God can defend His case and will use His servants to do so if we will but trust and obey Him.
Hidden behind the sexuality debate, and most other issues of our times, is the question of the sovereignty of God. Does God, or does He not, own the world? Does the will and purpose of God reign supreme in our lives, or not? Most of the sound and fury of dialogue and debate is a smoke screen to keep the rebellion from being called by its proper name.
And most of the "liberal" sexuality material has an uncanny knack for factoring the will of God out of the equation. They want everything else God offers, the whole world, but not His will. We will decide for ourselves, thank you.22
In spiritual warfare, the Christian is issued only one offensive weapon -- the two-edged Sword of the Spirit. The first edge is revelation, the Word of God -- which is above all else the revelation of the nature and will of God. That is what commandments are all about. The second edge is reason and scientific method. Clear thinking is as much a gift of the Spirit as is revelation. Reason is no possession, still less monopoly, of the secular world. When the two edges, revelation and reason, are welded together, the results are stunning. Both are a gift of God to His people -- to take the world back for Him from the forces of darkness.
Whenever honesty and truth are subverted, we are cast into spiritual warfare. We must then unsheathe the Sword of the Spirit (both edges) to keep the arena of discussion open and honest. Christians must honor the request of their leaders to promote dialogue on the sexuality issues. But we must make it clear that no one has authority to redefine the rules of discussion, debate, or dialogue so as to pervert the quest for truth. We will indeed enter the dialogue, but (a) on terms of spiritual, moral, and intellectual integrity, and (b) with the accepted Christian position until that is proven (not merely "experienced") to be wrong, and a better provided.
The "terms of spiritual, moral, and intellectual integrity" include the following "revised" (i.e. original) ground rules:
Confidentiality is not legitimate for persons engaged in deciding Church or civil policy -- who must be publicly responsible for their intentions.
The issues must be argued openly and directly, the best from all sides being tested against each other.
"I" statements are legitimate in any situation, but not sufficient in decisions of truth or policy -- for the rather obvious reason that public policy decisions affect others beyond oneself.
Debate is not inherently hostile. It becomes so when persons not willing to submit beliefs or behavior to honest investigation enter the debate (as HS:CP).
In discussions today, we must quickly ascertain whether the purpose of the parties is to find out the truth. In bygone times, that would have been assumed, and anyone caught doing otherwise would have been considered deceitful. But relative truth has relieved many of that concern. We must therefore inquire of those with whom we dialogue whether that is indeed the purpose of the conversation. "Are we looking for the truth of the matter? If we are not looking for truth, why are we having this conversation?"
* * *
Like the poor, we will always have self-centered, spoiled-brat attitudes with us, unwilling or unable to say "no" to themselves, who will cynically manipulate hurt and pain to their own ends. Given the Fall, it is not surprising that people engage in deceit. The surprising thing is that such people increasingly are invited to rule in the highest levels of education, church, and government.
When the rule of law breaks down, so does grace and love -- which means that heavy storm clouds are rolling in for the Church and for America. The rule of law provides the foundation, structure, and "space" within which grace and love can operate. Love and grace cannot function in chaos. [NOTE: the above was written in 1993. We have seen some of those storm clouds in the intervening decade. There is much more to come....]
Nevertheless, though hidden by confusion, truth does not go away. And so persons who set themselves to clearing away the confusion of procedure and of ground rules will find themselves back again on the solid ground of reality, and hence able -- in the long run -- to restore honesty and candor to public discussion.
The present condition has resulted from the Church's failure to understand the necessary links between reason and revelation, and therefore the two edges of the Sword were matched against each other. Indeed a "house divided...." Reason was thought to be the possession of secular folks and revelation of religious folks, whereas God owns both.
The Church's failure to digest "reason" defaulted the public square over to secular and pagan forces almost unopposed. Rather than moving out to retake the public common ground for truth and for God, Christians retreated into Christian hothouses so that "evangelism" turned into making bigger and better hothouses.
The forces of rebellion against God gained cultural supremacy because the Christian community lost heart in the battle for the 20th century -- by default, not defeat. There have been, in America at least, no guns to our heads. They spanked our hands, told us that "reason" did not belong to us, and to wield "revelation" only on Sunday mornings in church. We have been dutifully obedient.
When Christians are unwilling to risk their beliefs in an honest confrontation with other beliefs, they show lack of commitment to truth and lack of trust that Christianity is the truth. Nothing else has so devastated the cause of Christ in the last two hundred years.
God, nevertheless, is the only totally reasonable being in the whole universe, and He is trying to teach the rest of us how to be. Putting truth-seeking before one's position is the road back to honest dialogue and vital Christianity. God has issued Christians their offensive weapon, the two-edged Sword of the Spirit. He has honed the two, reason and revelation, to a razor sharp edge. It is time Christians strapped on their swords and marched back into the market place.
The techniques described above are neither new nor unique to the Episcopal situation. They are evident in the Lutheran material, and will be found in most "modernized" mainline denominations. They are being employed all across America in public school sex-ed and drug-ed courses, and interspersed into general curriculum material so as to be nearly impossible to eradicate.
The techniques are promoted by the NEA, Planned Parenthood, SIECUS, and in so-called "Outcomes Based Education", which is being sent down from the Federal Department of Education through state departments of education to be imposed on local school boards.24 The techniques were promoted for a time under the label of "values clarification" until parents objected. Then the label was changed, but the process continues.25
Not only is the Christian faith attacked, but the common ground of reasonable discussion on which differing but reasonable parties of any persuasion can meet is eroded. That is high treason not only against the Christian faith, but against faith itself, the teachable spirit, openness to truth and life -- the kind by which alone we are saved.26
Both the Church and America have come far down the path toward educational self-destruction -- for the same reasons, and promoted by people of the same "relative truth" philosophy. Honest education and pursuit of truth has become nearly impossible in either Church or government in America.27
The only beneficiaries of such programs are the self-centered, the manipulative, and the charlatan. Honest truth-seekers of any persuasion will strike quickly to remedy such incompetence and dishonesty, and to protect the common ground of free discussion.
The deeper issue is not homo-sexuality, but pan-sexuality -- the theory that any form of sexual gratification is good so long as it "works" for you. There are no moral distinctions between kinds of sexual experiences. One's "orientation" is one's natural entitlement. Christians typically enter the dialogue almost totally naive of the true nature of homosexuality, of the deceitful process often employed, and of the pan-sexual ground out of which the homosexual lifestyle springs.28
The homosexual lobby is pushing not only its own case. It is riding point for the other "orientations" such as paedophilia, incest, sadomasochism, bestiality, et al, every one of which is being defended publicly in print today, not in sleazy brown-wrapper publications, but increasingly by well known researchers in professional journals and public school textbooks.29 Homosexuality is only one of many poisoned fruits available on the pan-sexual tree.30
Laws are already (1993) in place in New Jersey and Hawaii inhibiting employers, including churches, from refusing employment on the grounds of sexual orientation, which by logical implication means not only homosexuality, but any orientation. That is tyranny by any reasonable interpretation.
Homosexual rights groups will not openly criticize other "orientations" (pedophilia, incest, sado-masochism, fetishism, bestiality, etc.) because much of their power base comes from the alliance between these groups, each of which is only a small percentage of the population. No study ever, not even the misquoted and unscientific Kinsey study, verified that 10% of the population was homosexual. All recent studies from all sources have verified in the neighborhood of 2-3%. The political clout of the pro-homosexual lobby can exist therefore only because they have support from the many who see sexual "liberation" as the goal of life -- whether hetero-, homo-, or pan- makes no difference. And that is clearly a much larger percent of the population.
It is also clear that the hierarchies of the mainline churches are increasingly being ruled by persons who want "sexual liberation", or who are severely compromised on the issue. The epidemic of sexual abuse that continues to surface among clergy is certainly related to the growing acceptance of pansexual attitudes, and to the rejection of the Bible as the standard for Christian belief and practice.
Pan-sexuality can operate only to the degree we have cut our feelings off from our relationships. Feelings are meant to be "relationship information", or "relationship knowledge". We feel sad because a relationship has let us down. We feel joyful because someone is a blessing to us.
Many addictive behaviors attempt to make one feel good by divorcing feelings from relationships. An alcoholic tries to feel good by drinking rather than by resolving his relationships. Gambling tries to resolve painful feelings by "winning". Sexual escapades do the same for others.
In each case, feelings are divorced from relationship, and therefore begin to function in a pathological, compulsive manner. To improve our feelings in a realistic, healthy way, therefore, we must work first on our relationships, not on the feelings themselves. AA is successful in overcoming alcoholism precisely because its members hold each other morally and spiritually accountable for their relationships through the 12 step program.
In healthy persons, feelings are a means to relationships, that is, they give information about relationships. Feelings connect us with relationships. The meaning of life is pursued in relationships, not feelings per se.
The pansexual view reverses the order. Feelings are not a means to relationships, rather relationships are means to good feelings. Relations connect us with feelings. Good feelings require only a proper "trigger" to give one an orgasm or other "high". Any object will do as a trigger, so long as it produces the feeling -- male or female, animal, vegetable, or mineral.
Pan-sexuality cuts feelings off from essential relationships so that persons are valued according to how they "turn one on". Feelings count, not relationships, which helps explain the legendary promiscuity of homosexual persons.31
Life energy then is "sexualized". We become incapable of normal, healthy gender relationship because we are unable to see meaning in life apart from sexual feelings. Gender relationships are overrun by sexual feelings. Substituting autonomous feelings for relationships impels the homosexual (or pan-sexual) person into the obsessive-compulsive behavior which had led hundreds of thousands to their death.
We thus see in the Church the worship of sexual orgasm rather than of God. As one Episcopal bishop put it, "Sex is too powerful a religious experience to limit to marriage." Sex is sovereign.
Or to put it more accurately, "feeling good" rather than right relationship is sovereign. Feelings have been divorced from relationship, and the logic of freewheeling feeling taken as ontological reality is dictating to theology, education, and government.
We have therefore arrived at a philosophy of life in which the basic social contract reads:
Each person will protect the other's right to his own circle of self-centeredness.
That is the philosophy of "enlightened narcissism", an agreement on the part of the self-centered to support rather than compete against each other.
And that is a prescription for the death of a culture.
The primary force driving the secularization of western culture has not been the illusory "philosophical victory" of secularism over the Biblical view. The driving force has been the quest for sexual liberation which, of course, requires the destruction of the Biblical view with its objective morality and insistence on containing sexual activity within the marriage relationship.32 The victory of secularism has been a moral choice, not a philosophical conclusion. That is, there is more rebellion in the swing to secularism than there is honest belief -- as verified by the deceit and dishonesty in the current dialogue process and in the media.
What, then, are we to say to the world. What is the Christian attitude to be toward persons who are sexually attracted toward others of the same sex?
The answer is obvious, but perhaps too painful readily to be seen:
Christians must invite homosexual persons into their fellowship and into the Kingdom of God on precisely the same terms as anyone else. "Come to church with us -- but know that you will be expected to deal honestly with your issues of sin and immaturity along with the rest of us."
The painful part, however, is not the inviting of homosexuals into Christian fellowship. The painful part is that very few Christians live in congregations where "the rest of us" are dealing with our own sin and immaturity. To very few Christian parishes could one with assurance send a person in deep trouble, knowing that he would find a strong, healing, nurturing, and maturing community.
Christians do not typically invite homosexuals into their community any more than they do murderers, robbers, or drug addicts. We simply do not know how to handle them. And for the most part do not want to find out.
We have discovered that the "experts" will handle that for us -- government, social programs, institutions, etc. And we are happy to give them the task so that our "comfort zone" is not too greatly disturbed.
There are many persons struggling with inner turmoil of sin and brokenness of all sorts who would welcome fellowship in a Christian community of moral and spiritual integrity -- if they could but find it -- where others were honestly confessing their sins and inner needs, honestly growing in the life of Christ.
But persons looking for truth and wholeness will not feel drawn to a church whose primary aim is the preservation of its endowment, a "correct" liturgy, "whoopee" charismatic worship, or a service limited to an hour so that one's Sunday activities are not unduly interrupted. Or to a church in which the spiritual climate is set among the leadership by denial of their own sin and inner brokenness.
Until the Christian community is willing to lay down its comfort and liturgy and other Sunday activities to get real with God and with life, it will continue to be, as one pastor put it, small threat to the kingdom of Satan, and small assistance to the Kingdom of God.
There is only one way to know how many homosexual persons would respond to such moral and spiritual integrity -- by living that way and inviting them in. It is our task to be obedient, not successful. The success is up to God. If we are obedient, He will work His success through us.
But none of that will happen until the Church resolves its commitment to truth and the process of truth-testing -- and so restores "science" to its true meaning and restores to the public arena the honor of God.
It is impossible to "get real" apart from an honest discipline to truth. Everything else is smoke and mirrors. The Church will have to clean house of deceit, manipulation, and poison in the wells of learning. It will have to clean house of bishops and other leadership who do not preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and do not understand, or want to understand, the Biblical view of life.
Our hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ from whose mouth issues the Sword of the Spirit, whose commanding, cleansing word of truth draws us continually to Himself, to the foot of the cross, and beyond into the Kingdom of Light. The judgement can go either way. When the Light shines, we can run for the dark corners and shadows, or, we can repent, run for the Light, and learn by the grace of God to delight in His will and to live in His light.
Homosexuality: Good & Right in the Eyes of
the Wedding of Truth to Compassion & of Reason to Revelation
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