Friday, December 02, 2005

The Gay Issue

Well, I'm doing my final paper on homosexuality (my supervisor hates that word, and I understand her reasoning - she calls it a pathology - so I apologize but I'm just being expedient). I interviewed two classmates yesterday. I asked what it would take for them to change their minds. Interesting reponses: one said personal experience (which I also believe is the key), and the other said rational arguments. The latter will have a harder time of it, because rationality is actually so tenuous. We always come to rational arguments (and Scripture) with some biases - though I couldn't get him to admit that. There's no pure rationality. And the most dangerous people are those who think they have it!

The tide seems to be shifting somewhat at Fuller. Most of the people I talk to admit that they're basically holding on to outdated beliefs until someone comes up with a good enough argument. By the time I'm finished with them, they are rethinking (I used the story of Peter in Acts who found the Holy Spirit at work in the Gentiles - people She had no business producing fruit in - as my "proof-text"). I was able to help change their policy about requiring internship supervisors to sign the statement of belief (which says "homosexual unbiblical"), so I could have my supervisor. And now they are reconsidering that part of the statement, in acknowledgement of many of their feeder churches' stance that it is not unbiblical or at least the Bible is not clear.

Maybe I'll do some good at Fuller after all.

I'm off to my first Diocesan Convention today! Woo-hoo, Episcopal politics! Should be a blast.


saraeanderson said...

Most of the people I talk to admit that they're basically holding on to outdated beliefs until someone comes up with a good enough argument.

I find this to be a really interesting statement. If they're so sure what they believe is going to be proven wrong, why do they believe it? Why take a position on a matter which you don't think has ever been addressed correctly. I find this especially bizarre because I would hope that someone would not condemn others for doing or being something on reasons they don't believe.

Stasi said...

You're right, it's weird. My friend who consults with Evangelical churches says that they usually call her when they're ready to change but they just need that last push over the edge.

What I meant is that people can sense that the cruelty which has been inherent in the treatment of this issue is definitely wrong, and they also strongly know they need to love their gay friends. So there's a disconnect, because their beliefs about their friends' sin tell them to judge them but their love for their friends tells them to leave them alone.

People take a position on the matter that has always been taught them, by the church, their family, their culture. It's not that they are basing it on irrational spontaneous choice. The "norm" is still to believe it's wrong. This is why they are struggling.

We gasp when same-sex couples show physical affection. Is that cultural? I'd venture a yes, since in many cultures men kiss without it being any big deal, it's a handshake. America is really homophobic!

So to answer your question, it's not that they've "taken a position" on the matter, it's that they've completely been formed in one way of thinking about it. Now that way is coming into contrast with what their heart (and probably the Holy Spirit) tells them. They believe it because it's part of their worldview, it's not haphazard. So we need to gently help them to reconcile their worldview (which holds a very high view of Scripture and has been ingrained deeply) with their progression on the issue. This means OUR holding a very high view of Scripture so we can speak the same language. Luckily, I do and I can. Which is why people go away from our talks even more unsure than when we started. That's all I want: to confuse my friends even more! :)