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By John McKenna
[COMMENT: This is a superb summary of
homosexuality issues -- right out of the Episcopal cauldron. Read it, copy
it, and pass it around.
NOTE: J. F. McKenna is a corporate and government
communications consultant who has noticed that lay Episcopalians who
doubt the assertions of those favoring the gay agenda seemed to lack an
arsenal of good responses to it. These are written in the hope that
Episcopalians will begin arresting the rhetorical steamroller that has
contributed to the current crisis.
1. Isn't your view of gays judgmental? Even hateful?
The main point isn't to judge people but to avoid giving support to something that will cause them to do harm to themselves and to their partners or potential partners. We have to be humble enough to recognize that anyone of us might be tempted to do something that is self-destructive at some time in our lives, but that is no reason to affirm the legitimacy or normality of something that is intrinsically destructive.
The word "hateful" would certainly apply to certain people for whom any association with a homosexual would be repugnant. If the present controversy eradicates that attitude, then something good will come of it. But if the effort to distance ourselves from that attitude goes to the point where we encourage people to act on homosexual impulses, then we're doing them even greater harm. The rational path is to extend the hand of fellowship but to be open to opportunities to help them avoid behavior that is harmful to themselves and to potential partners.
We have to be compassionate when it comes to accepting people who happen to have homosexual inclinations. Is it respectful to encourage people to harm themselves and possible partners? No. Is it hateful to warn people away from that? No. We need bolder, more creative and sensitive forms of outreach.
2. Who is harmed by supporting such relationships?
Most importantly, those who are inclined toward homosexuality are harmed if they act on those impulses. A widespread myth is that AIDS is the main danger, but AIDS is actually just a small part of the health hazard. Consider some of the others:
They include 26 types of diseases other than AIDS (Journal of Adolescent Medicine); a life expectancy equal to that experienced in 1871 (Oxford University's International Journal of Epidemiology); high risk of three types of hepatitis (Centers for Disease Control); proctitis associated with the gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, & syphilis widespread among homosexuals (Journal of the American Medical Association); an incidence of anal cancer 35 times higher than usual (Dr. Joel Palefsky, an expert in that field); among lesbians, a higher prevalence of bacterial vaginosis and hepatitis C (Sexually Transmitted Infections, a journal).
Some of the health hazards exist even in the extremely unusual situations in which there is complete faithfulness with neither of the partners having had prior relationships. The inherent weakness of the body results in its inability to withstand gay sex without a serious risk of damage, including tearing of the sphincter, fistular infections of the rectum, and incontinence. Support for physical relationships among members of the same sex is a false benevolence, a well-meant gesture that is very often a death sentence.
Secondly, the society is harmed morally when it gives support to homosexual unions. Marriage, for instance, has always been a form of social support for the sake of the stability of the next generation. To give sanction to same-sex unions and to favor the benefits accruing to such unions, goes beyond a stance of live and let live and into one of providing active support. It places the whole society into the position of spreading suffering to those who might avoid it and also dilutes the urgent support needed by married couples today.
3. You make it sound like you're concerned with their well-being. Why don't you just admit that you're taking a moral position?
The two are closely related. It is only a superficial view of Scripture to think that some of it is opposed to the well-being of humanity; a deep consideration of the human condition always confirms the wisdom of Scripture, in particular in matters of sexuality.
4. Won't succeeding generations see us as narrow-minded?
Succeeding generations are more likely to see the wisdom in restoring maximum support for marriage. For one thing, the things that are obscured now will eventually become common knowledge. Error often prevails for a time, but truth prevails ultimately.
In addition, it will eventually become evident that all productive members of society pay into a common pool of benefits from which certain groups may legitimately draw - for example, military veterans and married people. It harms society to spread these benefits too thin, in particular by extending them for purposes that will harm the beneficiaries and society as a whole. Granting benefits to homosexuals falls into this category. Their rights as members of a free society, however (e.g., freedom of speech, etc.), should not be restricted.
5. Can't we just allow them to come into the church, accepting them as they are and not as we'd like them to be?
Yes, we should welcome all people as they are; Christ had fellowship with all kinds of people. To those who were about to stone the woman caught in adultery, he came to her defense - but he then commanded her not to sin again. He commands all of us likewise, and so we must find ways in all humility, acknowledging our own sinfulness, to avoid just leaving people as they are. Our duty is to love and to be channels of healing and of strength. In unusual cases, when an individual is flagrantly defiant of community norms, the possibility of exclusion from fellowship must then be considered.
6. But this is about loving relationships, not about sex!
People certainly need same-sex relationships that are edifying and encouraging. Regardless of anyone's sexual inclinations, these can be managed in ways that are approved by God. If a person has inclinations that are not within His will, then the fellowship of caring Christians is the best possible bulwark, so long as there is an uncompromising framework of accountability before God.
7. I question your motives. Or: You're gay yourself, repressing your urges. Or: You have a holier-than-thou attitude. Or: You're a bigot, someone who just doesn't like people who are different than you are. Or: You're engaging in a form of hate.
You're absolutely free to assume all of those things. Why? Because it doesn't make any difference. All that matters is what is objectively true and real about the subject under discussion. The question is whether homosexuality is destructive to those who engage in it and to society in general.
8. I know two men who have been together as homosexual partners since 1974 and they are both healthy. They say this demonstrates that homosexual relationships are exactly the same as heterosexual relationships.
I know about a 100-year-old man who is still a smoker. However, this doesn't demonstrate that taking smoke into your lungs is a healthy as taking in nothing but air.
9. I have heard some of the stories of gays and lesbians and I have been touched. Shouldn't we open our minds to these?
Only if we maintain an abundant supply of emotional Novocain about the stories of millions of them whose lives have been shockingly painful and short.
10. But don't you think we should include all men and women in our congregations? How can we adopt a policy of exclusion? We have to care for people, don't we?"
The Rt. Rev. William Wantland, former Episcopal Bishop of Eau Claire had this to say: "First, I am deeply disturbed by the action of a number of heterophobic bigots, who encourage homosexuals to engage in a practice which is cruel and deadly. 91% of all male homosexuals engage in anal sodomy. Regular practice of anal sodomy will shorten human life an average of 26 years, even without factoring in AIDS. These people, purporting to act in the name of the Church, are as evil as those who would give whiskey to alcoholics. What 815 2nd Ave. (the national church's headquarters in New York City) is urging is death on a grand scale, and calling it care and support of their victims, without any regard for what they are doing. Don't ever say that TEC cares for or loves its homosexual members."
11. Jesus commands us to love. Isn't that what we're all called to do?
"What we find is that true love forbids us to bless homosexual relationships...Rather our task is much more difficult and more costly. We must labor alongside of those ... who put themselves and others at grave risk. We seek to do this with all the sensitivity of Out Lord...by demonstrating that it really is possible to live a new life in Christ."
12. Now, really, don't we have to be respectful about the fact that different people have their own views about what's right and wrong?
We may not know even approximately the nature of the moral requirement in a given instance, and we must remain humble about that, but that doesn't prove the nonexistence of an objectively real moral order. The danger all around us now is that people are forsaking any notion of objectivity in the moral area - even though there is unrecognized unanimity about morality in many areas. Rape isn't morally wrong just because almost every thinks it is wrong but because, as Lewis said, there exists in the world a "real Right and Wrong." It's just as real as the multiplication table and the law of gravity.
13. Even the Bible has endorsed certain things that are immoral as we understand that today. We have to go by our 21st Century understanding of morality. The Bible, for instance, endorsed slavery, didn't it?
William Wilberforce and Harriet Beecher Stowe and John Brown felt slavery was a barbaric practice, based on New Testament ideas of compassion. The central idea of slavery is that a human being can be reduced to a piece of property to be bought and sold. The central idea of the New Testament is that a human being is so valuable that the Son of God would die for him or her. A right reading of Scripture shows that that the two are in diametrical opposition. See the movie and read the book called "Amazing Grace."
14. How can we extend love and friendship to homosexuals without approving of their lifestyle?
We often have a difficult time being friends with someone when we disagree with them on some moral ground, but it is possible! Learn to see past a person's sexual orientation. Remember, even if you believe that change is good and possible, it's not something you can force anyone to do and it's not something you're responsible for.
You can help them, however, in meeting their real need: healthy same-sex affection! This is where you need to step up, even when you're uncomfortable. If you're reaching out to another young man who's struggling with this, he doesn't need to be best friends with all the girls-he needs to hang out with the guys! This is tough also because there are so many homosexuals who will say, "If you don't embrace my behavior, then you don't love me." You've got to break through this wall. You can say, "No, I won't stop believing there's something better for you. But even if you don't believe that, I really want to be your friend." (From Exodus)
b15. There doesn't seem to be any hope for our side about this. Nothing seems to work, does it?
Be patient. The acceptance of same-sex marriage will itself be the undoing of the entire movement in favor of homosexuality. Why? Because there will be two official rolls in the places where same-sex marriage exists: One recording the names of married couples and the other recording deaths. Researchers will simply start comparing the two and the truth about the unnatural character of homosexuality will be made plain, because opposite-sex couples live at least 40 percent longer. Preliminary research in Scandinavia is already surfacing to confirm this. And so the more there are official records of same-sex marriage, the more apparent will be the corruption it represents.
16. Isn't it obvious that in raising children, all that matters is love, regardless of gender? Why not two mommies?
The fact remains that gender matters--perhaps nowhere more than in regard to child rearing. The unique value of fathers has been explained by Dr. Kyle Pruett of Yale Medical School in his book Fatherneed: Why Father Care Is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child. Pruett says dads are critically important simply because "fathers do not mother." Psychology Today explained in 1996 that "fatherhood turns out to be a complex and unique phenomenon with huge consequences for the emotional and intellectual growth of children."
A father, as a male parent, makes unique contributions to the task of parenting that a mother cannot emulate, and vice versa. According to Harvard educational psychologist Carol Gilligan, mothers tend to stress sympathy, grace and care to their children, while fathers accent justice, fairness and duty. Moms give a child a sense of hopefulness; dads provide a sense of right and wrong and its consequences. Other researchers have determined that boys are not born with an understanding of "maleness." They have to learn it, ideally from their fathers. (Research done by Focus on the Family)
17. But supporting gay rights in the church and in general is really very benign. Where's the real harm?
Let's say there are six million American gays dying at the usual American death rate of .8%, and so 48,000 are dying each year. According to the official Danish statistical agency, 80% of married gays do not reach old age, and if that applies to the U.S., then 38,400 American gays are dying young each year. (Compared to fewer than 4000 Americans over the entire history of the Iraq war.)
Now you have to ask something that can't be calculated, which is: How many of these gays would have stayed out of harm's way if they hadn't been influenced by some clergy member who is essentially saying that they should act on their urges? After all, religious considerations may be the largest and last hindrance keeping certain people from forming such relationships. If these clergy are posing as the defenders and supporters of those inclined toward homosexuality, should they be taken seriously? How proud should they to be about promoting or facilitating this hidden holocaust?
18. Isn't this a matter of justice? Gays are being maligned, for instance by suggesting that they are predatory when it comes to children!
Sometimes they are indeed maligned, and that is of course deeply to be regretted. On the matter of being predatory, however, consider these findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association: * 50 percent of male AIDS victims reported having sex with an adult male by the age of 16. * 20 percent of male AIDS victims had sex with an adult male by age 10.
Also, "The Advocate," a popular homosexual newsmagazine, conducted a survey of its readers. Of the 2,500 responses obtained, 21 percent admitted that an adult man committed a sexual act with them by the time they were 15.
19. But won't same-sex marriage alter the whole social pattern of homosexuality?
According to researchers studying same-sex marriage in Scandinavia over the past 15 years, marriage has had no discernible impact on homosexual patterns of instability. The rapid breakup of same-sex marriages is parallel to the rapid breakup of same-sex couples who haven't been married. Very few avail themselves of same-sex marriage to begin with, and of those who do, the liaisons have usually been quite short-lived.
20. I have read something by a clergyman who has interpreted the Biblical texts relating to homosexuality in a way that makes them appear not to be condemning that behavior at all. How can this be?
The implication is usually was that once texts are were reinterpreted, or rendered irrelevant, the gay rights apologists have prevailed, and the door is open for practicing homosexuals to hold their heads up high in church. And there is a certain sense in which that has proved to be true. To the extent that the debate has focused on interpreting texts, the gay apologists have won for themselves a remarkable degree of legitimacy. But that is because the interpretation of texts is an interminable process. The efforts of such people don't need to be persuasive. They only need to be useful.
This is how it works. The clergyman reinterprets the story of Sodom, claiming that it does not condemn homosexuality, but gang rape. Orthodox theologians respond, in a commendable but na´ve attempt to rebut him, na´ve because these theologians presume that the clergyman believes his own arguments, and is writing as a scholar, not as a propagandist. The clergyman ignores the arguments of his critics, dismissing their objections as based on homophobia, and repeats his original position.
The orthodox respond again as if they were really dealing with a theologian. And back and forth for a few more rounds. Until finally someone stands up and announces, "You know, this is getting us nowhere. We have our exegesis and our theology. You have yours. Why can't we just agree to disagree?" That sounds so reasonable, so ecumenical. And if the orthodox buy into it, they have lost, because the gay rights apologists have earned a place at the table from which they will never be dislodged. Getting at the truth about Sodom and Gomorrah, or correctly parsing the sexual ethics of St. Thomas, was never really the issue. Winning admittance to Holy Communion was the issue. (From an article in New Oxford Review)
--- John F. McKenna is a member of St. Paul's Church in Darien, Connecticut, one of the "Connecticut Six" churches that oppose their bishop's stand in favor of a non-celibate gay bishop consecrated as bishop of New Hampshire.
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