Photo by Kwaku Alston/For Sports Illustrated. Click here for the original article.

There were two big stories in the sporting world today. The first story was about NBA center Jason Collins, who became the first player in a major American team sport to be openly gay. In an article for Sport Illustrated, Collins writes:

“I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation.” “I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, ‘I’m different.’ If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”

Speaking to his spiritual grounding, Collins continues,

“I’m from a close-knit family. My parents instilled Christian values in me. They taught Sunday school, and I enjoyed lending a hand. I take the teachings of Jesus seriously, particularly the ones that touch on tolerance and understanding. On family trips, my parents made a point to expose us to new things, religious and cultural. In Utah, we visited the Mormon Salt Lake Temple. In Atlanta, the house of Martin Luther King Jr. That early exposure to otherness made me the guy who accepts everyone unconditionally. (1)”

Sounds to me like he would make a great United Methodist.

While many of the early, public, responses from players, coaches and owners in the NBA was positive, the conversation on the internet quickly turned to whether Collins, currently a 34 year old free agent, will actually get to play next year (2). It’s hard not to read the strong diversity of opinions on the matter in the context of differing views on what is ‘appropriate’ in the NBA. A lot of Most agreed that if Collins is picked up by a team, the announcement may have a different impact than if he is forced to retire early.

If he were deemed too old to play professional basketball for another year, I can think of one profession where Jason Collins would be considered young: as an ordained clergy person. How might The United Methodist Church respond if he were to experience God’s call to the ministry as a second career, joining so many others who have taken a winding path toward ordination?

Photo by Cody Mulcahy; Wikimedia Commons.
Photo by Cody Mulcahy; Wikimedia Commons.

I ask this hypothetical question because I was moved by the appropriateness of NBA Commissioner David Stern’s statement:

“…we have known the Collins family since Jason and Jarron joined the NBA in 2001 and they have been exemplary members of the NBA family. Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.”

Before we all suggest that it is easier to respond in such a way out in the secular world, let’s try not to forget how taboo this topic has been in the world of professional sports; a business not known for ignoring its bottom financial line. It might be a good move, and there is ample evidence that the league has been preparing to embrace a more tolerant direction, but at the end of the day, this was still a risk.

In United Methodist circles, we are often reminded that we have a Book of Discipline and that only the General Conference can speak for the denomination. But I wonder if God would want the imperfect, legislative work of a group that meets once every four year to stop our leaders from publicly speaking words of support to those who deserve them.

Despite some dubious decisions in his years as commissioner, let me suggest that in this case, progress might be found in borrowing heavily from David Stern. Who wouldn’t want to hear these words, adapted from his above, if they took such a stand in our church:

“…we have known this pastor since she joined our conference in 2013 and she has been exemplary member of the United Methodist family. She has been a widely respected leader and colleague throughout her career and we are proud she has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.”

Stern’s words are ones that are affirming and ubiquitous enough to capture a fair amount of diversity within them; something I believe most United Methodists can appreciate.

At the onset, I mentioned that there were two big stories in the sporting world today. NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who gained notoriety for his overt public prayer style, was released from the the NY Jets today after a very disappointing season. No comment.


  1. Well, I was going to skip the SI story on Collins’ coming out, but you got me to read it to learn more about who the man is before pondering your question. The easy, quick response would be simply “that would depend upon whether he reports he is also sexually active.” But nowadays, there are even more impediments to consider than the BoD sexuality roadblocks . He’s young, so we might well bend the rules some to make room for him, especially since he would be an immediate superstar and lots of folks might come for awhile just for the novelty if we could get him through licensing school quickly.On the other hand, there is no telling whether he could ever make it through our process of ‘formation’ as a clergy person and actually get into the game. If he was already an active UMC member somewhere and choose the seminary track to ordination, by the time he did got thru our process he would no longer be a superstar, and his church webpage would have to post his history for folks to know what who he was. I don’t suppose he’d do well in many of our churches unless he was an amazing/excellent preacher, teacher, administrator and pastoral presence, so there would be serious questions about his ordainability, especially if he went to one of the seminaries that is approved by the University Senate but not favored in whatever conference he was in, like Asbury here or Claremont in the Southeast Jurisdiction.

    In the long run, I suspect he’s much more interested in the question of whether he will be picked up as a free agent for next year or if this will be his goodbye speech, but I enjoyed engaging your question!

    • Thanks Terry! I hadn’t expected many to consider it to that level but it’s hard to argue with many of the points you make along the way. One more to consider: Would he still be able to block a shot by the time he made it through a formal process to become an elder? 🙂

  2. The question you pose is would the UMC accept Jason Collins. I would hope we would accept him as we would any other person. You then throw in other interesting ‘what ifs’. I am no longer a ‘young clergy’ because I turned 36 last year. I didn’t get to be a ‘young clergy’ for long because, either though I went straight through University and then seminary for my MDiv, once I completely the process, I was nearly 30! So for 5 years I was able to enjoy such status with not such ‘detours’ of life towards ordination!
    This probably does speak of the cumbersome nature of the current process.
    Then I think there is another question in there. Would Jason Collins be accepted into the ordained clergy. The question there is much more complex. Homosexuality is a sexual sin. No more than any other sexual sin, and based on the small percentage of people who are homosexual, probably not even that common of a sexual sin. We have much more problem with candidates for ministry being celibate in singleness who are heterosexual than homosexual.
    I for one would welcome Mr. Collins into the ordained ministry if he were willing to practice not only what our Book of Disciple says, but what orthodox Christianity and the Bible teach. Celibacy in singleness, and fidelity in marriage. It is a good and right thing, (in my opinion), for this standard to apply to ALL clergy regardless of whom they are or are not attracted to.

    • Defining what is included in ‘orthodox’ Christianity is not as simple as we might like. Our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters would find many of our practices well outside of orthodoxy. And getting to a common understanding of what the Bible teaches, that is another complex conversation. I have friends who hold very well thought out, nuanced, and faithfully held Biblical positions on a variety of issues – sometimes 180 degrees from the other. The reality is that we approach questions of orthodoxy and our interpretation of the Scriptures with our own presuppositions and both known and unknown biases.

      Thanks for the comment and the willingness to read and engage the question and to note some of the difficulties.

  3. The statement “homosexuality is a sin” is a vicious lie that does immeasurable harm every time it is repeated. I’ve heard this lie repeated over and over again by the United Methodist Church for the 41 years the General Conference has repeated it. It hurts me personally and deeply every time I hear it, and not me alone. This lie has even driven some to despair and suicide. Some may be excused for repeating this lie out of ignorance. Ignorance is no disqualification for a Genearl Conference delegate, apparently. I’m a United Methodist, and a Methodist before that, but I’m not at all proud of the backward ignorance in which the UMC remains. The current anti-homosexual policy of the UMC brands the UMC as an institution that the vast majority of young people in the U.S. want nothing to do with. Please do not misinterpret my statements as a personal attack on anyone–our opponent is ignorance, not human beings.

    • So, are you seriously suggesting that we change the standards of the UMC so that more people will want to join our denomination? How often should we do that and with which topics?…because it sounds as if you are seriously suggesting that our only goal is to attract people and make them like us, which presupposes that we should change our belief structure every time that popular culture changes.

      Disagreeing with your (or the growing American culture’s) opinion about homosexuality doesn’t make one ignorant, and believing that something is wrong doesn’t make one evil. There is a great irony present in our cultural deification of tolerance, specifically that we only seem to be willing to accept the right to hold an opinion so long as that opinion does not differ from our own…which is not very tolerant.

      Discuss with me your belief about what I should believe all day long, I enjoy such discussions and often learn from them. But dictating what can be believed and what should be believed are two very different things.

      • It occurs to me that instead of writing “make them like us,” I should have written something more like “seek their approval.”

      • Thank you for bringing up the topic of tolerance. I think it is often misunderstood by both sides of this and other debates; and likely by myself. My take on it is this.

        The Amish in Pennsylvania have made many highly visible choices based on religious beliefs that are incongruent with the larger society. While on one level I find using wagons today silly, on another level it demands a certain level of respect. I’m unlikely to ever become Amish but there are days…

        Traditionalists on human sexuality who want to practice celibacy in singleness and who, if they are gay or lesbian, want to practice celibacy; I, personally, have no qualms about supporting this. I think the difficulty arises when we force our personal preferences on other people without referencing any reasons beyond our theological understandings. I very much believe people of faith should be a part of discussions on public policy but to be taken seriously they have to be able to talk about those things in ways that reference common goals and values; and it never hurts to be generous in allowing others to make choices that are different than ours when those choices do not infringe on our ability to live our own lives faithfully. You know, remembering our kingdom isn’t the same as our country.

    • There’s one place in the Gospel of Matthew (19:12) where Jesus possibly acknowledges the reality of homosexuality without passing judgment. In the context of yet another of his difficult sayings about divorce, he mentions eunuchs, some of whom are “born” that way, some who have been made that way by others, and some who have chosen that lifestyle for a higher purpose. While this passage will never appear in the Common Lectionary (gee, I wonder why), it’s interesting that Jesus is portrayed as simply accepting the fact of homosexuality without any perjorative comment, or at least, it seems that way to me. That certainly wasn’t the case in his outright condemnation of divorce. Maybe we should throw all divorced clergy out of the church.

    • “‘Homosexuality is a sin’ is a vicious lie”? What Bible must you read to make such a statement? If you believe in the Bible (a requirement to call Jesus your Lord) this issue is clear. (Rom 1:26-27) “That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relationships with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men and, as a result, suffered within themselves the penalty they so richly deserved.” NLT

  4. Of course then the question might be then orthodox according to the UMC. This would be based on our own doctrinal standards, which are pretty accessible in Wesley’s own sermons. One thing I find is the general ignorance (and I mean just not knowing) of Wesley’s Sermons on Several Occasions which along with the Articles of Religion are the basis for our understandings.
    Wesley and the UMC (since 1968 plus other iterations before this) have never wavered in their definition of marriage. They have also never wavered in their agreement that marriage is the only place in which the God given gift of sexuality is to be expressed. It is a red herring of those who deny Scripture as well as history who would say that we don’t have some orthodox teachings with regards to human sexuality.

    Also, Mr. Webstger might I suggest a book other than the Bible, and a Saviour other than Jesus if you find the teaching of the UMC ‘anti-homosexual’? The practice of homosexuality is a sin because the practice of any sexuality outside of the covenanted relationship of marriage between one man and one woman is sin. Upon which grounds to you say such teaching is a lie?
    Please, hear me when I say that any person that I grieve when any person is driven to ‘despair and suicide.’ There are other Christian teachings which could indeed do the same, IF they are not taught in the greater context of the greatness of God’s love found in Jesus and His death on the cross which pays for our sin and offers forgiveness of sins for ALL who will repent. The price for all sin has been paid, and thus ALL are welcomed by God on the same basis.
    What I find is the lack of teaching of the fact that we are all ‘inclined towards evil and that continually’ (as Wesley put it) is not taught. And because the simple fact of our total depravity is not taught, we are then not taught that salvation is not by works, but by grace. Any type of teaching of works based salvation will inevitably lead to either pride or despair. I see so much pride (mainly from the far right and far left in our churches) and so much despair (mainly from the people outside of our churches) in our society today. I believe when we rightly teach the Gospel it is the best news for ALL people because none of us deserve it or earn it.

  5. Homosexual behavior is sinful, just as heterosexual behavior outside of marriage is sinful. To say otherwise is not truthful. Jesus came to save us FROM our sins. He requires us to die to self, repent of our sins and accept his forgiveness. He tells us to take up our crosses and follow him; everyone has a cross, something we want that brings us fleshly pleasure; we are asked to put it down and follow Christ. He loves us so very much that he came to earth to set us free…why would he want us to stay imprisoned in our sinful lives?

    Salvation does not come by works; true. Salvation comes from faith in Christ. Christ loves us in the midst of our sin, otherwise, none of us would have a chance…but once we place our life in the hands of Jesus Christ, we are redeemed; purchased for a price. We are no longer our own.

    Jesus, himself says that he came not to bring peace, but to divide. To divide mother from daughter, father from son, brother from brother. The narrow gate leading to salvation is rough and not many will pass through it. But, wide is the gate and smooth is the road to distruction. Just because the secular world’s acceptance in a homosexual lifestyle is growing doesn’t mean that God’s call to godly living has changed. If you don’t believe me, check your New Testament.

    Jesus loves us all. He loves us enough to save us from our sins. We need to stay in the Word of God, stay in contact with God through prayer, and grow in maturity in our Christian walk. We will never by sinless; but we should reflect Christ more day by day by laying down our life and desires to Him every day.

    We are called to be different; in the world, not of the world. So, please, do not be deceived. The freedom found in slavery to Christ is true freedom! “Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are reallly my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'” John 8:31b-32.

    • Carol, thanks for the comment. I agree with some of what you say but I do feel that too many people oversimplify what is and what isn’t sinful based on their perspective and as I mentioned in a previous comment; both known and unknown biases. Of course that is an argument that can swing both ways.

      The argument that this is clearly sin according to the Bible is one familiar to any who look back on the long history of formerly clear things ‘against God’s will’ that we have, in the UMC, mostly moved past: slavery, interracial marriage, women’s silence in church, etc. My guess is that my children will see this issue in the same light in 20 years. Only history will tell.

      • Yes, Patrick, some things have become clearer through study and revelation. Please show me Biblically your evidence contradicting Rom 1:26-27. I can show you many scriptures to show why women not speaking in church or being pastors is silliness. But using passages such as Jesus talking about eunuchs (castrated men are certainly NOT engaging in homosexual sex) as support of homosexuality is a gross perversion of the Word.
        (Isa 5:20)
        20 Woe to those who call evil good
        and good evil,
        who put darkness for light
        and light for darkness,
        who put bitter for sweet
        and sweet for bitter.

        • Doug, I would agree that if you approach the Bible as if it were a constitutional document you end up confined to a specific set of rules. One might name this approach legalistic or even pharisaical and it does seem to go against some of the spirit of Jesus. That said, Jesus’ most profound statement about the law is found, IMHO, in the story of his clear violation of the common practice (in his day) of keeping the Sabbath (Mark 2).

          In particular I think we have a lot to learn, if our hearts are open, from the words of Jesus: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

          I don’t believe these words negate the intention of the law or the Sabbath but they reinforce the idea that religious communities can’t put forth moral arguments with “because the Bible says so” and not spend time really trying to faithfully discern whether the law in question actually brings life more abundantly; which I hope we can agree is God’s intent.

          • Nice. Thanks for the pharisee comparison. How easy and common it is these days to label someone who thinks the Bible is actually GOD’s Word as legalistic. It’s a great way of justifying doing “what seems best in our own eyes.” I absolutely believe in JESUS. Everything He did and said is perfect. Perfect love for ALL. HE loved and acepted ALL people, but NEVER tolerated ANY sins. What does it mean to “keep” the sabbath, Patrick. Perhaps THAT is what JESUS was teaching. NOT to not keep it! Do you think JESUS would have us remove that commandment from the 10? Do we have only “THE NINE COMMANDMENTS” now? Jesus said He came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Do you believe in the Bible? The WHOLE Bible? Or can you choose which parts to throw out and say “JESUS would throw that out”?

          • “Life more abundantly”? Do you claim to know better than GOD how that could be brought about. What do yoiu consider “abundant?” Having sex that is contrary to how GOD says it should be done? IS that “more abundant?” Do you not know that people who practice homosexual sex have a 20-30 year shorter life expectancy. That does not sound “more abundant” to me. I think we should trust GOD rather than leaning “on our own understanding.” If I was having this conversation with an unbeliever I could understand it more. But a pastor?

          • Do you have a source for this ‘statisic?’ And perhaps this is your first time conversing on the internet but speaking in ALL CAPS is considered rude. It’s often done by people to convey anger or hostility. I’m sure you, as a good Christian, wouldn’t want to convey those sentiments unintentionally.

          • So God made you homosexual and at the same time He calls it sin. Do you really believe He would deliberately do that? Oh and I’m not at all worried about any type of Christian Gay or straight. In summing up your life style, you do not have free will.

          • Doug, that was me trying to ask nicely. Since you responded with another post not honoring my request, as moderator, that post will not be approved.

  6. And then the truth comes out. It is clear, Patrick, that you do not think homosexuality is a sin. So you disagree with Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience. You disagree with the Doctrinal Standards of the Methodist Church and our Book of Discipline. You bastardise the relationship of Christ and His Church, and you deny the basic theology of Creation and Imago Dei.
    There are clearly grave ramifications in our disagreement which is not a trivial matter, but teaching that is clearly vital to the understanding of Christianity.
    I would ask you, as I would many who deny marriage, what else that is basic in Christianity would you deny? The Virgin birth? The bodily resurrection? Vicarious atonement? The authourity of Scripture in all matters of faith?

    • And there we go off the rails.

      If we were to have a reasonable conversation about an issue we might try to stay on topic rather than resorting to slippery slope argumentation and various assumptions about the conversation partners views that have no grounding in anything that has been stated.

      I don’t mind conversing with people who disagree; in fact it’s something I enjoy and appreciate but I hope we can all do a good job honoring the conversation and those in engaging in it.

  7. Patrick – I must take exception to the examples you gave.
    They are not the same as sexual sin. Jesus, himself, told the woman who was caught in adultery to stop that lifestyle: “‘Then neither do I condemn you.’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.'” John 8:11.

    Slavery was accepted in Jesus’ time. He mearly tells slaves to be good slaves. He does not say it is a sin not to have slavery. Paul wrote about women being quiet in church in responce to a particular problem in a specific church. Jesus showed by example and words that women should be active participants in learning from Him. (Mary and Martha) I also have found no reference to interracial marriage by Jesus. However, Jesus is very firm in stating that we must stop sinning.

    Of course, I understand that noone will be free from sin this side of Heaven. However, cleaving to Jesus, praying in the spirit, and reading the Bible all help us to reflect God’s love in our lives. The greatest of these is love.

  8. One final thought…if Christians continue living in a sexually sinful lifestyle, be it homosexuality, sexual adultery, sexual partners as a single person…just how, exactly, are we different from the unsaved world? Why would one need Jesus if there will be no difference in their life?

    Thanks for indulging me. I am passionate about the truth! God’s truth has diminished in popularity; but not in its essence.

  9. I’m reminded of testimony I heard in the United Methodist Church Trial of the Rev. Amy DeLong who was charged with being a “self-avowed, practicing homosexual” in the Wisconsin Conference. The Rev. Phil Wogaman talked to the jury about applying the principal of “proportionality.” He was suggesting that what Amy was accused of, considering all of the facts presented in the case, was of such a proportion as not to deserve any severe penalty. Now one gentleman who wrote here previously seems to suggest that to hold the belief that “homosexuality is not a sin” is of the same proportion as the denial of every bedrock principal of his faith. This is not the United Methodism that I know. The whole of the Christian Faith does not hang on the question of whether homosexuality is a sin. Anyone who thinks otherwise, in my opinion, has got matters all out of proportion to reality. Jesus once stated in a few words what it is that the “whole of the law and the prophets hang on”–if one were to focus on this core teaching of Jesus one would see the question of homosexuality in better proportion. And maybe treat one’s homosexual neighbors with greater respect.

  10. My recommendation is that anyone wishing to talk about this subject should re-read Romans chapters 1 & 2. If you believe that the Bible is divinely inspired this should clear things up. As for the Methodist Church I think the current wording in the Book of Discipline is a good balance. All people are valued; all people are recovering from some form of sin…but you don’t promote the sin. You support the person.

  11. As a Seminary educated layperson and a former Cokesbury store manager I worked not only with United Methodists, but with a large diversity of expressions of the Christian faith. It was not my job to judge anyone’s Biblical interpretation, but to help them find resources consonant with their theological tradition. I can tell you that EVERYONE read the Bible, despite having differences of opinion on the issue of homosexuality. There are ways to do responsible Biblical interpretation and yet come to different conclusions from others. I met many people during my time working for Cokesbury (which ended because all of the stores were closed, not by my choice) who would defy stereotypes associated with LGBTQ persons. I am thrilled that Jason Collins also defies the traditionalist-imposed stereotypes I have so often seen the whole LGBTQ community painted with. I wish traditionalists would take the time to listen to their stories and testimonies. They might learn something, and perhaps even see the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of people they think are living a “sinful lifestyle.”

  12. Sexuality is very important to the Gospel because sexual sins arw sins within the body. Not only that, Scripture and the Church both teach that marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and His Church. The implications of redefining human relationships as God created them also has far reaching implications in redefining our relationship with God.
    Most would agree that God made humans to be in relationship with Him and with one another. IF God is the Creator then it is God who defines what is right and good in these relationships and what is not. Now that sin entered the world through Adam all persons are born totally depraved. We are ‘inclined towards evil and that continually’ is the way Wesley said it. So all people are born of sacred worth with the Imago Dei, but with a corrupt nature. This is why I applaud what our Book of Discipline states. ALL people are people of sacred worth. Heterosexuals no more than homosexuals.
    But all people are also bound to the definitions God not only gives, but created us to be. God did not create anyone gay. Homosexuality is a consequence of the Fall, and it resides in our flesh or fallen human nature. All people are sinners.
    What is not loving, but rather is hateful is to call evil good and good evil. That type of reversing God’s created order is near the centre of the Gospel. We are called to love God, which would imply obedience, and also love our neighbour. It is not loving to tell people evil is good. That is the source of my passion.
    I did not intend to go off the rails, but I also do not like conversing with people who are not upfront with their presuppositions.

    • Many people are unaware of most of their presuppositions. They are often tacit. As Michael Polanyi said, “We know more than we can tell.” Being aware of one’s presuppositions is a very good thing when engaging in debate. While I understand where you are coming from on this issue I would say that the “progressive” side does believe it is possible to be faithful interpreters of the Bible and come to a different conclusion than you reached. They would certainly not say they are calling “evil good and good evil.” Easily the best book to check out if you want to understand where the other side is coming from is Jack Rogers’ book “Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality.” Look for the revised edition, as the first edition was geared more toward the debate within the Presbyterian Church USA.

    • Ryan, that is all well and good and I support your right to hold those beliefs.
      I guess I’m feeling that we are approaching the concept of conversation differently. I’m a competitive person by nature and I tend to believe I am more often right than not. I’m not sure why you would hold a position on something if you didn’t feel that way. I suspect you might be the same in this.
      Because of this truth, I work hard to try to see other people’s viewpoint because I know my natural inclination is to assume I am right and they are wrong. I don’t find that this leaves me weak but it’s led me to see value in places I previously wouldn’t and the flaws in my own argumentation. But even if, at the end of the day, I do end up seeing the other person’s position as wrong, intellectually flawed or just plain backwards; I don’t feel any need to assume that they are evil, arguing for evil, or in some other way in league with the devil.
      I suspect some would say that the origins of opining that wrong (or different) belief is evil resides in the Bible and they could be right about that – kinda. You see, even though there may be language with strong vitriole in Scripture, I doubt many 21st century Christians in the United States have any right to claim in. Persecution of the sort that Christians faced in the first centuries of the faith (and in countries today with no religious freedom) might justify, on some level, the angry rhetoric – and makes more understandable the clear divisions between good and evil that they saw. I just don’t see how it is justified when the ‘offense’ causes no harm to the dialogue partner. It seems like a much healthier response would be for one to prove their case by the quality of their love.

      • Patrick, us being right or wrong is of no consequence. I don’t want to be right. It is GOD who is right – always!

  13. 43 percent of white male homosexuals have sex with 500 or more partners in their lifetime.
    28 percent of white male homosexuals have over 1000 sex partners in their lifetime.
    This came from a 1978 study of diversity among men and women, published by Simon and Schuster, New York, pages 308 through 309.

    A study in the Netherlands, where gay marriage has been legal since 2001, revealed that committed male homosexual couples had eight sexual partners outside of their relationship every year.

    Percentage is reporting sexual fidelity.
    Over 85 percent of married females report sexual fidelity.
    Over 70 percent married males report sexual fidelity.
    Less than 5 percent of Homo sexual male relationships report fidelity.
    The average homosexual relationship last 1 and a half years, and 95 percent of couples in relationships lasting longer than 5 years have an opened agreement to engage an outside sexual relationships.

    By comparison, 50 percent of heterosexual marriages last more than 20 years.

    Partner violence is all so much higher in homosexual relationships.
    I’m on lesbians, the partner abuse rate is 44 times greater than in heterosexual relationships. Among gay man, the rate at which males are abused by their partners is 300 times greater.

    A study done in England showed homosexuals 50 percent more likely to suffer from depression anxiety and substance abuse.
    A separate study published in the medical journal BMC psychiatry noticed that the risk of suicide jumped over 200 percent for individuals who had engaged in a homosexual lifestyle.
    The overall life expectancy of gay men is 20 years less than heterosexual men.
    The cancer rate of homosexual practitioners is 10 * that of heterosexual males.

    CDC reports: Young people aged 13–29 accounted for 39% of all new HIV infections in 2009. With regard to youth, HIV disproportionately affects young gay and bisexual men and young African Americans.
    Young MSM, especially those of minority races and ethnicities, are at increased risk for HIV infection. In 2009, young MSM accounted for 27% of new HIV infections in the US and 69% of new HIV infections among persons aged 13–29. Among young black MSM, new HIV infections increased 48% from 2006 through 2009.

    • David, while I appreciate your effort to bring research into the conversation, I’d find it helpful if you could also provide links, to non-partisan sources, where the full study could be viewed and judged on the merits and integrity of the research – not the convenience or inconvenience it might provide for one’s argument.
      Just as there is bad theology, there is equally bad science. I know both sides of this argument might come to that conclusion from time to time. For example, it’s fascinating to go back to the 60s and 70s and see all of the “scientific” studies of the day which point to the drastically harmful effects of interracial marriage. Reality didn’t bear them out well.
      But let me accept, for the sake of argument, that there may be increased levels of depression and promiscuity in the gay community. I would love to see a scientific study that helped us to discern the church’s complicity in that. I know that if I started to call my children trash, abominations, and destined to hell that there is a certain amount of self-fulfilling prophecy that would occur. Most, if not all gay folks living today have had to live with some degree of that; for many, quite a bit. I wonder what the effect of loving parents, supportive communities, and the lack of societal prejudice might do to bend some statistics in a healthier direction. Anyone got research on that?

      • The National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study is perhaps the most comprehensive study ever done on the lifestyle of lesbian women. Funny thing, none of the families that had two women as parents had child abuse. None.

        This study has been vetted by several prominent research institutions and I believe was recently used by the Supreme Court in their consideration of the legality of DOMA.

    • Using statistics as a basis for argument can be tricky. Marriage statistics are often broken down by demographic. Are Christian couples as likely to divorce as non-Christian couples? If we as a society have denied LGBTQ persons the right to marry persons of the same sex, does that encourage them to consider fidelity? Statistics also show that more heterosexual couples are cohabitating now than ever before [here is one study I found relatively quickly ]. Should we assume that all heterosexuals, regardless of their faith or lack thereof, have basically the same likelihood of extramarital sexual relations? The LGBTQ persons of faith I know are not to my knowledge promiscuous. They tell me they value fidelity. That is why there is such a strong drive toward legalizing same-sex marriage across the country. I would predict that if same-sex marriage were legal everywhere you would begin to see much higher rates of fidelity than ever before. If the argument is being put forward that LGBTQ persons are not worthy of the right to marry persons of the same sex because they are naturally promiscuous and unfaithful to their partners, then the rising rates of cohabitation among heterosexuals would seen to eventually void the legality of heterosexual marriage.

  14. Would the UMC accept Tim Tebow NFL football star? That should be the other subject since the writer mentioned two stories. Just another nail in the coffin of the that is the UMC in America.

    • Tim Tebow probably wouldn’t be the best choice for a UMC representing Quaterback. The UMC folk I know are by and large uncomfortable with public prayer. Or perhaps that is just when I am being “Pastor Ruth” and asking people to pray that they just stare down at their shoes and try to avoid public prayer as much as possible.

      But, given the right circumstances, these people will also talk about their faith. It comes up in a general conversation “I was blessed by a grandchild….” or “I trusted God with….” It’s there, just not after every single touchdown opportunity to display and demonstrate, but more like widow’s coins humbly given.

  15. David – I would hope that if we are going to dig into the research files, we might look at something from this century and, as Patrick mentioned, clearly reference the source of the research and its funding. But I thought this conversation was more about the Christian/biblical perspective on sexuality and how it guides our role as faithful Christ-follwers, rather than what the secular world says and what support we can then find in Bible for those views. I learned years ago that circular reasoning,where each argument is based on another which is, in turn, based on the first one, is unreliable. So when argue that homosexuals have higher rates of infidelity and promiscuity than those found among heterosexuals who are actually allowed to marry, then also want to use that information as evidence that homosexual marriage should not be allowed, well, I’m afraid the thinness of the argument begins to show through. I’m hoping we can move the discussion back to reliable information that considers not only what some group says, but how they arrived at their conclusions and whether they were only looking at end data or considering the how and why those figures exist.

  16. Ryan, Carol, Patrick: thank you for being willing to speak the truth in love.

    I don’t hear anyone saying to call anyone trash or abominations.

    There ARE actions–not people, actions–that the Bible says are abominations.

    We can rationalize away our personal sins or the sins of those we love all we want, but they remain sins. God determines what is and what is not right and wrong.

    For a different point of view may I suggest a Baptist preacher–Wade Burleson–currently on his blog promoting a balanced, loving perspective while being the hated Traditionalist on matters of sexuality.

    • What if it can be demonstrated from the Bible that the contemporary reality of homosexual practice is not a sin at all? This is not to ignore parts of the Bible like Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27 (the most relevant passages), but to say they do not reflect the reality of the world we live in today. There are other “sins” in the Bible that we no longer think of as sins today. In each case an argument is made for why the verses in question do not apply. This isn’t throwing out the Bible, it is the hard work of responsible Biblical interpretation. I am aware of traditionalist arguments against homosexual practice, and some of them have merit. However I almost never see any traditionalists willing to actually engage with the Biblical interpretation that progressive Christians are doing on the subject. I love a good debate, but almost no one is willing to listen to what the other side is really saying on this issue! It is sad.

  17. Patrick, thanks for your well thought out observations, questions and conversation. If the naysayers who are commenting could take a lesson from your Jason Collins quote, the UMC would be MUCH BETTER off. I grew up Methodist, and I love what Mr. Collins says: “I’m from a close-knit family. My parents instilled Christian values in me. They taught Sunday school, and I enjoyed lending a hand. I take the teachings of Jesus seriously, particularly the ones that touch on tolerance and understanding. On family trips, my parents made a point to expose us to new things, religious and cultural. In Utah, we visited the Mormon Salt Lake Temple. In Atlanta, the house of Martin Luther King Jr. That early exposure to otherness made me the guy who accepts everyone unconditionally.”

    Why do the naysayers spend so much time feeling the need to judge and not accept people? They always feel the need to quote scripture, and yet, there are so many examples in scripture that aren’t followed today, but they ignore those. We no longer practice slavery, women are no longer without a voice, and we don’t stone our children to death for being disrespectful, yet these are all items that are in scripture. Scripture was written by man in the context of the times, often many years after events occurred. It’s ridiculous.

    Again, thanks for your compassionate and loving voice.

  18. The UMC should not even be having this conversation. My Bible say’s homosexuality is sinful. That doesn’t mean I hate those trapped in it. It simply means it’s sinful. No wonder the denomination keeps losing it’s numbers.

    • John,
      There are thousands of Gay Christians who belong to the UMC (myself included) and we don’t care what you think. You’re intolerant. And don’t say it’s the Bible that’s intolerant. We know that God lmade us exactly the way we are and loves and accepts us the way we are. So stop wasting your time worrying about gay Christians. If you’d spend more time working with, accepting and loving others you don’t understand, we’d all be much better off.

      • “There are thousands of Gay Christians who belong to the UMC (myself included) and we don’t care what you think. ”

        Nor do you care what God thinks, apparently.

      • Harry, please see my comment on God berthing people into homosexuality. You are free to live your life any way you please. However if I don’t subscribe to you notion that you were born gay, simply proves I have a different view of Biblical interpretation, not that I’m intolerant. Seems anyone who doesn’t agree with you makes you just that. Please relax and display some of that love and compassion you speak about upon those who disagree. Jehovah Jireh,

  19. Hey everyone, I do appreciate the passion and the willingness to converse but I hope we all can do a better job of not assuming we know what others think. Please avoid putting words into others mouths; words are meant to go into ones ears.

  20. Patrick, if we had a Bishop who said this:

    “…we have known this pastor since she joined our conference in 2013 and she has been exemplary member of the United Methodist family. She has been a widely respected leader and colleague throughout her career and we are proud she has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.”

    It would be amazing. I cannot help but also think about the idea of “mantle” in terms of our ordination tradition in the PNW and the mantle that is shared from one retiring generation to someone becoming newly ordained. To hear one of our Bishops talk positively about taking on that hard role would be profound and hopeful.

    • Wouldn’t it? 🙂 Thanks for reading and actually commenting on the content of what was said. What I thought Stern did well was the acknowledgement that Collins wasn’t now, suddenly, a leader. This was simply a new dimension as he provided the context of earned respect.

  21. I think the NBA doesn’t object to players having multiple sex partners, living together outside of marriage or having multiple sex partners while married. They also don’t care about homosexual relations or celibacy or monogamous lifestyles of they players. The last real “news” on that front was back in the days of Joe Nameth admitting to sex with the sports groupies before games because he thought it helped him play better. The NBA does care about sports gambling. It seems that they feel this legal activity in some areas is not appropriate for their players. Others think it should be allowed. I think this is a more appropriate comparison to actions not permitted by the rules of dicipline.

  22. The question asked is “Would The United Methodist Church Accept NBA Star Jason Collins?” The more important question would be, “Would Jesus accept NBA Star Jason Collins?” The answer should be the same. Jesus calls all who are seeking redemption and forgiveness and requires only that the we repent and place our trust in Him. To repent is to turn away from sin. Yes, living a lifestyle in homosexuality is a sin, the same as living a lifestyle of adultery and fornication. Jesus speaks against sexual immorality when He taught about inner purity in Mark chapter 7.
    So back to the original question, “Would The United Methodist Church Accept NBA Star Jason Collins?” We should welcome all who come seeking redemption and forgiveness in our doors, but we should never stop preaching the truth. The word tolerance is misused in issues such as this. People say we should have more tolerance. I disagree. We should love and express God’s grace to others, but to tolerate sin is going directly against God. Jesus Christ does not tolerate, nor did He teach it while He walked this earth. He taught love and forgiveness, but while teaching repentance from sin. Remember the words spoken so eloquently to the adulteress when about to be stoned, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” The key to that statement for people who want a new life in Christ is, “go and sin no more.”

    • Please, please, please stop saying, as if you were the Judge and Jury, that “living a lifestyle in homosexuality is a sin, the same as living a lifestyle of adultery and fornication.” How would you feel if someone said that just by virtue of the way you were born, you were condemned??? You obviously don’t understand the damage you can cause by saying that. I have friends who have committed suicide because of exactly what you just said! It’s ok if you don’t understand, but don’t play God and try and speak for Him. There are many wonderful gay Christians who worship at accepting Christian churches. We know that God made us exactly the way we are, loves us and accepts us. You and people like you are doing untold damage, hurt and harm by condemning homosexuality in the name God. If you don’t understand it, fine. And don’t tell me that it’s in the Bible and use the Bible as your weapon. There are many scriptures in the Bible that no longer apply to society today (slavery, stoning kids to death for disrespecting parents, etc.). What if we all just tried to be more like Jesus, more loving, more understanding and help our fellow man?

      • Amen, Ray! Beautifully and convincingly stated. Unfortunately, aggressively ignorant people will continue to refuse to hear with ears that hear, let alone understand.

        • JimN, as far as me being, “aggressively ignorant…who will continue to refuse to hear with ears that hear,” I’m sorry you feel that way, because there are also those who are aggressively condescending who refuse to open their eyes and see as well.

          • Unfortunately the conversation has deteriated into name calling. Not very admirable to many who call themselves tolorent. Shame on you. I will check out as the subject has changed to name calling by the ohhh so tolorent.

          • I’m saddened by the name calling as well. It is unbecoming of any Christian, whether they label themselves tolerant or not. Would you accept however, that gay and lesbian Christians might here the word ‘sinner’ not as your perspective on truth (or your perspective on God’s truth) but as yet another name?

          • I too am saddened by the name calling. I truly believe we can hold civil conversation without being condescending to each other and that was my point. We all have our beliefs and should able to express them with love and grace. To address your question, Patrick about being called sinners; we are all sinners saved by God’s grace. As Christians, we should strive daily not to live in sin, not to be controlled by the flesh, but by the Holy Spirit. We all are in need of God’s grace to receive salvation. The great thing about grace is that it can’t be measured. I need no more or no less than anyone else. The apostle Paul states this in 1 Timothy 1:15, “This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’–and I am the worst of them all.” I pray that we can carry on all discussions in the light of God’s love and grace.

        • I want to apologize for resorting to name-calling of those whose views differ from mine. I deeply regret the lapse into cheap, condescending criticism, and wish I had waited before reacting in that way. The reality is that we all care very much about the complexities involved in this discussion, perhaps too much to engage in any meaningful dialog. Forty-six years of fighting these kinds of battles in the pastoral ministry may have left me rather cynical about the potential for progress. So, it’s probably best to stay out of the conversation altogether, and leave the ongoing struggle to less jaded minds.

          • Thank you for blessing the conversation with a moment of repentance. Hopefully that’ll lead others to approach the conversation here, or elsewhere in the future, in a similar way.

          • JimN: You’re passionate about the issue, and for that reason, I hope you won’t leave the discussion to less jaded people. We need people with your conviction and heartfelt drive to make things better for the disenfranchised. It’s understandable that because of your passion, there are moments when frustration comes in to play. Hang in there. We need your voice.

      • Most traditionalists do not subscribe to the concept of sexual orientation. They are trying to be as loving as they can without tolerating what they see as only inappropriate “behavior.” Just substitute what was said about homosexual practice with any thing you would define as sinful and you may see better where they are coming from. Most traditionalists really aren’t trying to be hateful or condemnatory. It is up to you to convince them that your experience defies explanation under their terms. If you can get them to see that sexual orientation is not a choice of behavior, then you will be making progress.

      • Ray, you posted the following: “How would you feel if someone said that just by virtue of the way you were born, you were condemned???” We all are condemned! That is why Jesus came to earth and die for our sins, because we are all born into sin. Each of us are born with desires of the flesh and because of the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to live pure lives that please God. I have not, nor will I ever condemn them, but when asked, I do speak the truth with love and grace. If I truly have the love of God in my heart for others, I am doing them wrong if I do not preach the truth, no matter the issue. Our church welcomes everyone and is shown the love and grace of God. But God has called me to preach the truth given to us in His word. In our church we have a homosexual couple that attends on occasion and not they are shown love and acceptance at all times. I do not preach to point out specific sins, but call on the people to examine their own hearts in order that they may become right with God. God does love us all and he accepts us into His fold, but He preached for us to repent of our sins and turn to God. You ended your response with this question, “What if we all just tried to be more like Jesus, more loving, more understanding and help our fellow man?” I agree. We should love each other, show compassion, but just as well, we should preach the truth and lead them to a life of salvation.

        • Bro. P: You converted my words into ‘church’ speak and missed the point, when you responded to my comment and said, “we’re all condemned…we’re all born into sin.” The point is this: Heterosexuals aren’t told they’re sexuality is wrong just by virtue of being born heterosexual, whereas non-understanding Christians often tell homosexuals that their sexuality is wrong just by being born homosexual. God loves all His children, straight and gay, and doesn’t condemn any of them for being who they are.

          • I agree with your point. I also believe God loves all His children, straight and gay, but we are accountable for our actions. I also do not believe one who may be born homosexual is condemned, but must turn away from temptations of the flesh, just as a heterosexual must fight the flesh. Paul writes of his “thorn in the flesh.” We do not know what that thorn was, but whatever it may have been, God’s grace was sufficient for him to overcome it. Each of us has our thorns and that’s why we must rely on God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit to not let the desires of the flesh rule our lives and control our actions. Forgive me for being blunt, but I believe God created sex to be shared exclusively between man and woman in a monogamous relationship. Please know that I say none of this to be hurtful or condemning, but only sharing my conviction. It’s not how we born, but who we have become in Christ Jesus. I pray that you accept my words with love as we are all growing in the wisdom of Christ Jesus. I do not claim to know all, but only can share what God puts on my heart.

          • Bro. P: (responding to your second response; there wasn’t a “Reply” option on it): You wrote: “I also do not believe one who may be born homosexual is condemned, but must turn away from temptations of the flesh, just as a heterosexual must fight the flesh.” Let’s put it in these terms, and not in sexual terms: Heterosexuals don’t have to fight falling in love with someone of the opposite sex, nor should they, as that’s how they’re made. By the same token, gays shouldn’t have to fight falling in love w/ someone of the same sex because that’s how God made them. You’re not gay, and I can tell you don’t understand what being gay encompasses, though many of my straight friends, including my entire family, are completely able to accept everything about me and know that God made me exactly how He wanted me to be. I’m a strong Christian, I love and follow God and Jesus, I have a leadership role in my church and I’m in a long term relationship with my partner who I love dearly. We’re really not that different from you. I appreciate the dialogue with you. I do hope you’ll be able to open your heart and accept that it’s not about trying to prove whether your view of scripture is right and mine is wrong. It’s about serving God to the best of our abilities and helping and loving others. Pretty simple when you think about it.

  23. Why Attack Tim Tebow? Seems to me that after speaking of tolerance, why join the list of those who attack Tim Tebow out of stereotyped views of evangelical Christianity. This is an unnecessary dig that diminishes the argument this writer is putting forth. In that comment on the end of the article he becomes just another bigot against anyone seen as evangelical Christian. I have not heard about Tim Tebow hating or being unChristian toward gay people.

    • My dig on Tim Tebow isn’t about him as a person, in fact he seems to be a fairly generous guy engaged in some good charity work. My dig on Tim Tebow is about the way he practices his spirituality, which seems to be in some conflict with the modesty that Jesus encouraged around public displays of prayer. And it was a more subtle dig against a spirituality that connects success on the sporting field with faithfulness or favor from God; again, something the Bible seems to speak to as well.

      Thanks for reading and I do appreciate what you were trying to say.

      • I totally agree with you there Patrick! The unsettling trend I witnessed at my bookstore was people who would come into the store, buy his book, and remark to me at point-of-sale that because they traded him “I hope they [the Denver Broncos] lose!” They way they would say it really amounted to imprecatory prayer! THAT was disturbing!

  24. The greatest problem with the debate on homosexuality has nothing to do with the Bible! The real point of contention is the very definition of what homosexuality is. Only when a definition is adopted do people read the Bible and interpret it in the light of that definition. That is why you get Biblical arguments condemning homosexual practice from one side, and Biblical arguments supporting the inclusion of LGBTQ persons of faith into the full life of the church.

    This is the crux of the issue: one side defines the debate as “whether homosexual practice is compatible with Christian teaching,” and the other side defines the debate as “whether the church should be welcoming to all people, including LGBTQ persons.” Both sides would actually agree that being who you are is not a sin, but traditionalists don’t believe God makes people as homosexuals.

    Does what I’ve just said make sense to anyone? Do you now see where the conflict is coming from?

  25. Thanks for posing a thoughtful, challenging question, Patrick. I have been stunned by many of the responses and the lack of our own UM history. The phrase homosexuality “is incompatible with Christian teaching” was tacked on to a very pastoral response to the growing gay liberation movement. If you read that section in the BoD minus that statement, it is neither condemning nor accepting of homosexuality. However, when it was introduced at GC 1972, that line was added as an amendment from the floor, with no study as to what is “the practice of homosexuality” nor on what Christian teaching” it rests on.
    In fact, when GC decided to create a task force to study homosexuality and bring back their findings to the next GC, the task force said that the UMC could not responsibly teach that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. But GC refused to accept the task force’s findings! Four years of study, prayer, biblical, scientific, medical and theological work–and the GC refused to accept the findings because they didn’t like what the task force discovered. Imagine where we would be as a church if they had.

    • Karen, thanks for providing that bit of context. I’m always surprised (and saddened) by how little care we give to context both in the current conversation and in our searching for truth in Scripture.

  26. Some nearly 100 comments ago, I think the question was, “Would Jason Collins be accepted into the Methodist Church? My question is, “Would Jason Collins accept us?
    I belong to a church that has certain beliefs which I adhere to. If I felt I could not uphold those beliefs I either would not join or I would leave. I would not try or ask the existing church to change their beliefs or teachings or preaching for me.
    I do not think God condems us for the way we were born but I do believe that scripturally He does condemns us for many of our actions.
    Homosexuality in itself is not a sin. But like any other part of our personal self that may not be like we would want it we usually do not shout it from the housetop.

  27. What sort of nonsense are some of these arguments….sexual expression is ok only if you are in a marriage & then you deny the gift of marriage to homosexuals so they can be classified as sinful. Let me ask ya’ll a question: are you heterosexuals only when you are married, having sexual relations, etc or even when you are not even engaged in anything sexual? Aaah; still heterosexuals? Was that your choice? I suggest that celibate or not ,a homosexual is still a homosexual, & not by choice, any more than are you in your heterosexual mode. As to the question of Jesus & the eunuchs: he plainly said some were born that way, so he was not speaking solely, if at all, of castrated men. Since homosexuality was openly practiced in the cultures of his day, f it had been an important spiritual issue to him, one would think he would have said so. To equate any sexuality solely to lust is certainly a distortion of God’s gift of sexuality as a part of the human experience. Two people in love want to get married in the accepted experience of our culture; why is it ok for some & not others? Science has moved beyond this form of prejudice & perhaps it is time our churches looked beyond its misunder-standing of this facet of the human condition. The Bible cannot be taken out of its contexts if you wish to correctly “divide the word of truth”…when certain sexual acts are spoken about specifically you will find the context is in the midst of idolatry practices, which included sexual orgies of lust as a form of idol worship. Women wearing red dresses was an abomination in the day as well (a badge of the prostitute) so why do we allow our women to wear red dresses? or men to trim their beards, or wear mixed fabrics, et al. You can’t pick & choose but you should at least look at contexts…social, cultural, linguistic, etc. Is it not time we started looking at each others spirituality rather than legalistic judgments? I suspect that approach is something upon which most could find common ground & agreement. Peace.

    • Indeed, very good reflections on the issue R L Shivers! I’d just emphasize that everyone “picks and chooses” what they pay attention to in scripture. Some people are just more aware of it than others. No one is going to go back and rework the canon of scripture. We have the books we have in the Bible, and that means a lot of hard work for where we choose to place our emphasis. We can’t pretend there aren’t parts of the Bible that make us uncomfortable, so we have to find a way to deal with parts of the Bible we don’t like in light of what we perceive to be the most important themes of the Bible.

  28. Getting back to the original question, “Would The United Methodist Church Accept NBA Star Jason Collins?” At a practical level, that would depend on what particular United Methodist Church he would choose to attend. I know many in the Pacific Northwest that would have no problem accepting him. There are other United Methodist Churches that would accept him, even believing homosexuality is a sin, because “all have sinned.” The problem has more to do with a denial of homosexual practice as sinful (that is, of course, why the comments to the post went where they did). Traditionalists might argue that if you don’t accept your sinful behavior as sinful then there isn’t much they can do to help you, and their “church discipline” might lead to a rejection (a principle that applies regardless of what the sin might be).
    At a denominational level? The Book of Discipline would have to be changed, eliminating the “incompatible with Christian teaching” for Collins to be accepted at that level. We’ll see what happens at Portland, Oregon in 2016… I wouldn’t hold my breath, but I wouldn’t want to give up hope either.

  29. I have a question for Lee Karl Palo…if people were created to be homosexuals, why do many sleep with people of the opposite sex, then sleep with same-sex people, then revert back to opposite sex relationships? This behavior screams behavior to me; not an inherent orientation.

    Additionally, I have several female friends living a gay lifestyle. Every one of those partnerships of beautiful woman has changed the appearance of one woman in the partnership into a more male outward appearance, while the other partner stays with a feminine appearance. The male-role person cuts or shaves their hair very short and wears mens-style clothing. I have noticed a similar phenomenon with male gay partners. Why, if God created them to need intimate relationship with people of the same sex, do they feel the need to make one person more like the opposite sex?

    I am not poking fun; I really want to know if there is a reason for this beyond the fact that God ordained male/female relationships for intimacy.

    • Carol, those are interesting points to raise, and I appreciate your thoughts. I have seen some of the phenomena you describe, but it does not encompass all of the LGBTQ people I know. I wouldn’t have used the word “many” as you do, though perhaps that word better fits your personal experience with the issue. Part of the problem is that some people assume there can be only one cause for a given form of sexual behavior. One of the more interesting arguments I’ve heard relating to the Bible from the perspective of LGBTQ Biblical interpreters is that what the Bible really condemns is homosexual practice contrary to one’s sexual orientation. That does imply an acknowledgement of different causes for homosexual behavior.
      Carol, you did make passing reference to “God ordained male/female relationships.” That is, in reality, the strongest Biblical argument based on Genesis 1-2 from a traditionalist perspective, not the quotation of the verses that prohibit homosexual practice. LGBTQ Biblical interpreters can easily argue the lack of relevance of the prohibitive verses in today’s world (very successfully, I might add), but arguing against Genesis 1-2 is more tricky. The lived experience of many LGBTQ persons indicates to them that they were made the way they are, so the Genesis 1-2 verses speak to the majority, but do not speak to all. This is to say that when faced with the reality of LGBTQ people having been created the way they are, it may indicate the true message of Genesis 1-2 is that people were created to be in an intimate relationship with one other person regardless of the sex of the person. That implies the heteronormativity endorsed in Genesis 1-2 was the result of it’s author(s)’ imperfect understanding of reality. That is not to say it wasn’t inspired, mind you, but it does imply the authors of the Holy Bible were not passive recipients of divine revelation, but were actively moved by the spirit in more of a partnership than a dictatorship. If you are curious, you can see this understanding expressed better in the “Inclusive Bible” Translation.
      Basically, I wouldn’t deny your experience with the issue Carol, but I would say that there are LGBTQ persons that do not fit the experience you describe. I personally know many who do not fit, though I have seen a few who do.

      • Hello Carol,
        Your observations, no doubt, resonate with many individuals who honestly want to understand the complexities of sexual orientation, and since reading them, I have wanted to attempt a response. However, I must point out that I am not an expert in the field, nor even well-informed about gender orientation matters. My only claim to being able to speak to the issue has to do with the number of persons I have seen in counseling and/or friends who see themselves as homosexual. Consequently, my observations are anecdotal, and to that extent, not very scientific.

        Even though widely disputed these days, classical Freudian psychoanalytic thought indicates that evidence of sexual orientation can be detected in three-year-olds by whether during that stage they gravitate to the parent of the same or opposite sex. I am not advocating for the veracity of that view, but I do find it curious when having in-depth conversations with my gay associates, they can report memories of what they enjoyed then (boys playing with dolls and doll houses over against GI Joe figures), as well as rivalries with one parent for the attention of the other parent.

        Another yearning my gay friends have shared with me has to do with how during pre-adolescent and adolescent years, their emotional drive urged them toward movie stars, sports figures as well as peers of the same sex. Same-sex peer identification, of course, is accepted in pre-adolescent boys, but in the cases mentioned here, it tended to persist into high school and college years. As most of these friends grew up during the very hostile/anti-homosexual atmosphere of prior years, their desires went underground. Exposure at that time would have meant certain verbal and violent abuse, and so the phenomenon of “covering” was widespread. Indeed, some of these persons who have trusted me with their stories have admitted engaging in heterosexual relationships, even marriage, as a way to cover their secret. Fortunately, today’s expanded acceptance of sexual orientation may go a long way toward eliminating the need to cover—a far healthier environment it seems to me. This dynamic may help to explain some of the dynamics of switching behavior.

        I recall one young man who told me of having engaged in a one-night stand with a woman and said he enjoyed it. I honestly do not understand his experience, because most of the persons I’ve worked with seemed very committed to same-sex partners. Some individuals may genuinely be bi-sexual. Curiously, however, after that his sexual encounters were with men, so far as I know.

        It seems that part of your observation reflects frustration with what might be termed “promiscuity.” I would argue that that is a different matter entirely, and not reflective of committed homosexual partnerships. Such behavior may be more an indication that addictive issues are running, a pattern I have witnessed in a number of persons with whom I have worked. It seems to me that the current debate mixes up the existence of honest, loving relationships, be they heterosexual or homosexual, with sexual addiction, which, unfortunately, is running rampant in our society. But there seems to be very little happening toward understanding the problem of addiction in our culture.

        Whether homosexual or heterosexual, sexual addiction, as with any addiction, is constantly “trading-up.” One partner for a while will be exciting and feel good (an important part of addiction), but then the sexual “high” wears off and the search for a more exciting encounter ensues. And if my perceptions are correct, the trading-up can even expand into orgy-kinds of experiences. But, even so-called “normal” marriages/partnerships sometimes engage in fantasy role-play situations to “liven-up” the thrill. So there may be a bit of addiction in all of us, but the difference comes when we throw away our supposed partner in order to fulfill some unrealistic hope of finding more exciting sexual encounters.

        As to homosexual partners adopting seemingly masculine/feminine roles, it might be (and here I am on very speculative footing) that a part of the attraction in the first place has to do with personality needs that are always unconscious or hidden motivators. The reasons all persons are attracted to some and not others may have much more to do with sub-conscious factors than what appears on the surface. If I am a person who has grown up in a loveless situation, I may, without being aware of it, search for one who will demonstrate much affection and promise to be very caring toward me. Implied is a difference between being a care provider and a recipient of another’s care. On the other hand, if my issues have less to do with affection needs and more to do with being a rescuer and/or person in charge, I may assume those roles in a relationship, regardless of my gender. Again, this is highly speculative. But I have noticed in a number of heterosexual marriages how one person is the take charge individual and the other is more reliant, regardless of their respective genitalia.

        I guess what I’m arguing here is that sexual orientation is inherent, perhaps not in all persons, but certainly in most. Given the experiences many have communicated to me over the years, that is an inescapable conclusion I have reached. There is one small indication that Jesus may have reached the same conclusion. It comes starkly in his teaching about divorce when he refers to eunuchs, that is, men who can’t or won’t engage in heterosexual relationships, and Jesus points out that some are born that way. He also says that this is difficult for many to understand. What is significant about this little glimpse into Jesus’ teaching is, whereas he sternly condemns divorce, he casually refers to eunuchs without any pejorative sense at all. (Matthew 19:10-12)

        Carol, I appreciate very much your honest struggle to better understand this issue and willingness to question. My response here is in no way meant to be argumentative or authoritative. It’s just another attempt to contribute to the discussion, prompted by your authentic inquiry. Thank you.

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