Thursday, February 26, 2009

Now, the reaction from former Sexuality Task Force member Lou Hesse

Cap'n Bill here mateys, writing you from one of the Seven Seas, uh, I forget which one, they all look alike, you know. Well, I got me trusty satellite and I be listening in on the Internet. I read the following and asked Mr Hesse if we could share this bit of testimony and evidence with ye. I share it with ye because 1) it is as brief and succinct reasoning on why the Social Statement and the Recommendations should be turned down as I've read so far and 2) it shows that the Task Force's own experts told them that they anthropological views they are choosing to act on are flawed!

In response to the statement:

"Only one of these really matters to me… Scriptural condemnations of homosexual behavior are not binding on Christian homosexuals. I suggest that the traditionalist position must engage this argument. What would such engagement look like? It must produce an observable proof that homosexual relationships under the same conditions as heterosexual relationships produce “bad fruit” spiritually, communally, and personally."

Lou writes:

I'm late to answering this but I've been busy.This very worthy question deserves a confessional answer. I too am not impressed with the argument that something must be some way because "mom said so." That works with some children, and perhaps it is sufficient in some cases because we were all called to have a childlike faith, but I no longer think like a child (haven't for a long time). So I think we need to rely on Dr. Luther's conscience in bondage to the Word of God -- unless I be convinced by scripture and clear reason I cannot recant.

I also resonate with ____'s comment that the proof is on the side of those desiring change, not the other way around. Paul, in several places, admonishes people to be faithful to what has been handed down, so as one of my ordained friends says, ordained people in particular should be the last to adopt or promote change. By the way, this is also the position that Jim Childs stated clearly to me on the task force -- the burden of proof resides with those desiring change. With that as an introductory, here is why I cannot support these changes:

1. The witness of gay folks themselves. One of the most common phrases I heard and continue to hear is "no one would choose to be gay." This is often offered as a response to free will oriented folks who say gay expression is simply a choice. A position I reject. But embedded within the statement is an implicit conclusion even among gay folks that if they had a choice, they wouldn't be gay. There is a recognition in that statement that gayness is "less" than straightness. This is, finally, a recognition there is such a thing as natural law. My 20-mo. old grandson is currently learning a lot about gravity. He does not choose to fall down but he's learning about gravity.

2. Gay folks have also told me in no uncertain terms that I (meaning me, Lou) have no idea what it means to be gay. This statement, I must admit, is finally true. I truly have no concept of what it must be like to have gay desires and try and function in the world with those desires. But it seems to me that a corollary to this conclusion is also true: namely, that gay folks have no idea what it's like to be straight or have any idea what male-female marriage is all about. So for someone to say that a gay relationship is the "same" as marriage is to make a statement that simply cannot be made, given the inability of either side to fully know what's involved in the opposite. Shoot, most days I don't even know how my beloved can think some of the things that come up. The 'otherness' of marriage is, indeed, a great mystery. So far what I have said would lead one, perhaps, to a position of 'can't we all just get along?' You go your way, I'll go mine, peaceful coexistence... But --

3. Some things we learned on the task force point to that not being appropriate. We had a specialist in sexual expression come in and share a number of things. He said that the concept of inborn orientation is deeply flawed. Identical twin studies have shown that there is no such thing as an inherited orientation and most people are finally located on some sort of bell curve with the vast majority of people being to one degree or another born either indifferent or 'bisexual.' He also stated that cultures that are homophilic experience higher rates of same-sex expression than cultures which are homophobic. The implication of that statement is that while individuals may not choose, cultures may choose in ways unrecognizable to encourage wider same-sex behavior. And as I pointed out in #1 above, even gay folks would say that is not a good choice.

4. The consistent witness of scripture is that in humility we should advocate for the poor. This does not mean just economically, but rather we should advocate for those who are weak, powerless, voiceless, marginalized. And in this discussion, that is about young children. Numerous sociological and anecdotal scenarios indicate that heterosexual marriage is the best place for the nurture of children. Any move away from that is a move against the best interests of my neighbor. The culture of the family is finally what creates the bondages most of us can admit to. The closer the family comes to honoring the ABCs of the cosmos, as Paul calls it in Galatians, the less trouble we will have. Conclusion: So I call on my gay neighbors to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the weak. And that call is not limited to my gay neighbors. I see through the glass darkly, I could be wrong, but this is what I confess today.


1 comment:

Brian Crocker said...

As is much of what I've read from Mr. Hesse in various places, this post too is the fruit of faithful, honest, clear thinking. I'm planning on making this available to congregation members as one of various responses (have to be "fair" y'know). I did write my members a letter stating where I stand so that they don't have to guess (with a copy sent to my synod bishop). I'm looking over my shoulder...

The good ship ELCA...

The good ship ELCA...
Or the Shellfish blog...