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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Homosexuality and Sexual Responsibility – an Oxymoron?

When I was a kid I was never taught that sex was a sin. I was never given a laundry list of rules and regs so as to precisely cover every sexual situation. However, I was taught to hold at the deepest emotional and intellectual level that irresponsible sex (like irresponsibility anywhere) was wrong. And, of course, my parents did not mean by responsible sex to be as debauched as I like, just remember to use a condom. They meant that I should completely decline to engage in casual sex—defined as sex in which commitment was not in the equation.

I once had a chaplain I much admired—Allan Bury. He moved from the University of South Florida where I knew him to Wesleyan University. There as the University Protestant Minister around 1972 he wrote the following:

we ought to be able to affirm that homosexuals face enormous and inhuman pressures which are destructive to the human spirit…Those who wish to change their sexual orientation should be helped to do so. Those who wish to remain in their present orientation, or for whom change is not an option, should receive our support in discovering and living lives of responsible sexual maturity. (Source)

So for me personally with my upbringing the question is—can homosexuality ever represent responsible sexual maturity? Is there something about it which is inherently irresponsible and immature? For years I held steadily to the belief that there was. Homosexual men and women just did not want to grow up, to recognize plain fact and fully assume mature responsibility for their God-given sexuality. Now at this stage in my life, I have come to know a good number of homosexual couples—some relationships having endured for many years, sometimes with the persons now elderly and one of them in ill-health while the other selflessly ministers to their partner's needs. No longer young and restless (and flamboyantly hopping from one gay bar to another—or at least such was MY fantasy) and well after youthful sexual passions have long-since waned, their lifetime commitment has not ended but becomes more clearly evident with the passage of time. I am willing to accede in goodwill and good faith that the deep commitment was always there just hidden from my view primarily by my own carefully guarded perception.

No one on earth I'm sure wants my pity, but sometimes I am saddened by sexual relationships that have no hope of procreation. For me personally, I was not married until after childbearing years. I have no flesh and blood progeny, though I do have grown children in my extended family. Despite my happy married life, I can understand if in his heart of hearts my brother, for example, sometimes feels a little sadness for me; that unlike for him, there is no one to carry on into the future a measure of my unique gene pool. If he should feel this way about me now and then, I don't resent it but take it as a sign of love.

At this point I am not willing to agree that ministers of the church should profess homosexuality. You may say, but I do not hold that they should profess it, just have the opportunity to be homosexual. There is a decided difference between ministry and many other jobs. I shop in many stores for goods and services every week. The sex lives of those I encounter in the market are completely irrelevant to my purchase and I have no interest in them whatever. But with a minister it is different. In many ways the minster's life is his product. Our church minister, for example, regularly will use little happenings from his home life as illustrations that resonate within the hearts and minds of families throughout the church—committed heterosexuality is regularly reinforced as the accepted norm. Right or wrong, in my thinking that is as it should be. It seems to me a risky leap into a Brave New World to hold that children (male and female) do not need male and female parents as models and mentors. The full depth for this need I think has not been sufficiently understood, explored, or appreciated.

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