Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Anti-Gay, In a Nice Way

As much as possible, I am going to try to post after work, rather than during the few minute breaks I am able to squeeze in at work. I guess we will see how that goes.

On another note, I have been watching more of the Terry Schaivo case, and I have made up my mind that she should live. As I said, the husband has moved on, and her family obviously is in severe pain (Terry pretty obviously doesn't have enough cognition to be in pain), so why not let her live?

Now on to the topic at hand. I was on the Exodus Blog again, and I came across this article. I read the article the other day, and I have had some time to think about it.

When I first read the story and saw that the Pastor of this church had sent out over 40,000 mailings to advertise his sermon, I really started to question the event as nothing more than a publicity stunt. Add to that that Stephen Bennet, an ex-gay that I adamantly disagree with (while he claims to love gays, his website and stories about gays offer mostly negative portrayals of gays), and I was even more skeptical.

Then I read the story, and I admit that I was happy to see how the pastor handled the issue. Keeping things kind, loving, etc. I thought to myself that this was the Christianity that I had grown up in and loved. It is this type of attitude that really does help bring people to the religion and show them the love of God. From what I saw, the pastor did a great job of handling his views on the issue in a loving way. I still hold that opinion of the events.

However, the message of "man and woman being made for one another" still seems a bit off point to me. Sure, if you tell a group of straight people that man and woman are made for each other, most of them are going to agree. How can they not? But, where does that leave a gay person? Where does that leave a person that is only attracted to the same sex?

Personally, someone can tell me all day that men should only love and marry women. But, when I look at my own life, my own attractions, the people that I fall in love with, women do not come in to play, and since puberty they never really have. With this sermon in mind, then, where does that leave me? I have heard about how sinful gay activity is (although not from this sermon), I have heard how God made man for woman in his plan, but I haven't really heard where that leaves someone that does not have the attractions that are assumed to be so normal and God-ordained by many people.

Actually, I take that back. I have heard from groups like Exodus where that leaves a gay person. The answer primarily is change. Stephen Bennett says "complete change is completely possible," and I assume that is why he was invited to speak. Ok, so let's assume that some people can and do change. That is great for them. But what about the majority of people that try to change but can't? What is the option then? From what I have read from many others, the option is celibacy.

This is where the problem lies for me. Now the message turns from one of a loving, "God wants men to be with women," to one of, "if you are straight, you are allowed to fall in love, start a family, spend your life with your soulmate, etc. But, if you are gay, you must be celibate, never allowed to fall in love, romantically hug, cuddle, or kiss anyone that you are attracted to, never find that soulmate for life, etc." Basically, you are asked to be alone. I'm sure some more skeptical folks will say that gays are allowed to do all that straights can do, as long as they do it with the opposite sex. Of course, I'd like to point out that this is a pretty absurd request for most gays, and this is supported by the research and a few studies done on whether gays can become straight.

Moving from that point, my message has all along been that most straight people (especially the anti-gay folks) don't really put themselves in the shoes of a gay person like me. I wonder if this pastor has put himself in my shoes. Has he really thought to himself and wondered what his life would be without his wife? Has my dad ever wondered what he would do if he fell in love with my step-mom, only to be told that he had to deny this. That he could never make a life with her, hug her and kiss her?

As well-intentioned and well-handled as this sermon was, I wonder if the pastor has ever considered these thoughts. I know he was looking for love, acceptance and forgiveness, but I wonder if he has ever sat down with a gay person and actually listened and understood the feelings that come with being told that you can never have a romantic or love life, a sould mate, etc. for the rest of your life. I also wonder if he has ever tried to even consider putting himself in that position. You know what would be a great "bridging" experience? To have someone that "disagrees" with homosexuality to step out and say, "you know what, I think being gay is wrong, but I realize you didn't choose this, and I realize we are asking a lot from you. Since you are unable to make these types of relationships, I too will forego having a family, a wife, etc. as a symbollic gesture to you." That would be really nice to see. Yes, I realize priests and some others do become celibate. But here I am talking about Protestants, pastors, youth directors, someone that is not actually becoming celibate as part of a "religious career path."

On a last note, the pastor brought on Stephen Bennett as a speaker. I still have great pause for this, because I assume the message was that gays can change. I wonder if the pastor did his research and found that most gays that try to change are unable to. I wonder if they told the congregation that even though Stephen and some others have changed, most are unable to. In the spirit of honesty, I would hope that this message would have been told to the congregation, lest someone think that choosing to be straight is a quick option, or even a possible one for everyone.


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