After Monday’s conversation…

Well, it’s been a busy week (!), so no chance to post since Monday. But we had a good meeting on Monday over the lunch-hour, though not quite as intense as the last two weeks have been, when we looked at the traditional Bible verses used to condemn homosexuality!

There were some interesting insights as we talked about the various stories that Coren includes in Chapter 3.

  • People were struck both by the numbers of stories directly from Roman Catholic priests (or men who had been RC priests), as well as by Coren’s ongoing insistence that a large proportion of RC priests are homosexual. We talked about celibacy and what might be some good arguments for making that part of the ordination vows – but also about the difficulty of requiring something that can only be given in response to a call from G-d.
  • We noted that people often have arguments about “why people become homosexual’ and that this is a way of seeking to have control – much as people who see tragedies happen to others wil try to come up with a reason why it happned to the other person and not to them, psychologically protecting themselves (e.g. “G-d was trying to tell you something” or “G-d never gives you more than you could handle”). We also connected to this to the sense that sometimes people who loudly condemn homosexuality seem only too interested in it, making us wonder what they are trying to deny in themselves…
  • We wondered how these stories might be different in a younger generation. We know that individual families and denominations still exclude and condemn, but it is more possible now to find an alternate community which will accept a person, including their sexuality. How does that change the stories? (Though we know suicide/suicide attempt rates for LGBTQ2 folks are still MUCH higher.)
  • The stories Coren tells are generally ‘finished’ stories. What do those stories appear like when they are only half-lived?

Chapter 3 “On the front line”

This chapter consists mainly of interviews Coren held with a variety of people who identify as LGBTQ, telling the pain and struggle with the church that they have experienced throughout their lifetimes. It is generally a direct re-telling of the interviews, often using their own words without further commentary. Coren does note that mainly those he interviewed are male. Several of them are former RC priests, and almost all the people interviewed are older.

So – questions for discussion tomorrow…Who is missing from these stories that Coren re-tells? In the context of campus, which stories do you know about people who have struggled with the church’s refusal to affirm and include all, regardless of sexuality? How do they differ (or not) from the stories Coren tells? For folks from the mainline churches, which have become much more liberal within recent times, how much is this still a struggle on campus? Why does this story about the struggle with the church matter?! Who needs to hear this?

Are there any good stories?!

And further – knowing that suicide/suicide attempt rates tend to much higher for the LGBTQ population, how should churches respond? (declaring my own position – this is not something we can move slowly on – for many of the young folks I work with, this is life and death stuff…) And what response can we in more mainline, liberal churches have to the ‘conversion therapy’ movement and it’s popularity within more conservative Christianity?