A Third Perspective on Homosexuality

11 Feb

Recently my friend Bart gave me a copy of a paper/talk by Tim Otto, given at a meeting of the Socratic Club at the Duke School of Divinity. The paper offers a third perspective (the first two being traditionalist church and the affirming church). Tim bases his argument on the theological work of John Howard Yoder.

The paper is well written, deeply personal, articulate, intellectually challenging and a great example of the kind of discussion (both in content and tone) that needs to take place in churches today. If you have any interest in these issues, please take the time to read Tim’s paper and then post your comments here.

I think people on both sides of the issue will find Tim’s paper helpful.  I also think that any gay person trying to figure out the integration of their sexuality and faith, needs to read this paper. And I think any straight people who know and care about gay people who are trying to achieve integration need to read the paper too.

So here you go… and thanks Tim for permission to post it.

LINK: A Third Perspective – PDF (Tim Otto)

1 Comment

Posted by on February 11, 2010 in Uncategorized


One response to “A Third Perspective on Homosexuality

  1. Ben D.

    February 11, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    <p>Another thought before work…</p><p>Rick, I think you are correct in terms of "change".</p><p>As I have written here before, I do think that sexuality can be relatively fluid and also fits on a continuum. Say what you will about Kinsey, but on this point I think he is correct.</p><p>I think that "change" is better understood in terms of this continuum. Many people who have same-sex attraction may also be capable of opposite-sex attractions. While some these people may have been identified as gay, they can probably choose to live as straight — and many times can do so successfully. </p><p>Even folks who work within reparative and resolution therapy acknowledge this continuum and that "success" in reorientation is largely based on where someone is on the continuum.</p><p>I have no issue with people who can live as heterosexuals, marry someone of the opposite gender, etc, despite previous same-sex attractions. I don’t even mind if they say they have changed. (In reality, we all "change" all the time). What I think is unwise and unfair (and, as Otto suggests, a lie of traditionalists) is holding out the notion that "becoming not gay" or not sexually attracted to the same gender is a likely outcome of therapy and is the necessary road to pursue. Again, even the people I know who practice reparative therapy, don’t think or teach this.</p><p>For example, I know a guy who is a devoted and passionate follower of Jesus who also struggles with sexual addiction issues. Virtually all his acting out, sexually since he was a teenager, has been with guys. But, he has at times been in meaningful and successful heterosexual dating relationships and is also sexually attracted to women. </p><p>I think that as he works through his sexual addiction issues, as well as some emotional issues from his childhood and adolescence, it is both possible and likely that he may end up marrying a woman and having a very fulfilling and healthy heterosexual marriage. In fact, that is my prayer for him.</p><p>Would this constitute "change" the way traditionalists talk about it? No, I don’t think so.</p><p>Would this be a case of where therapy, healing and prayer have helped someone work through issues in their life? Absolutely.</p><p>Should this (potential) "success" story lead us to make this a model, promise or expectation for others? Absolutely not.</p><p>We can celebrate and be happy for someone for whom this happens and for whom it is a good thing for them… this person wants to have a heterosexual marriage, family, etc — so I would be joyful for him if that works out. But every person — and every situation — is different… and trying to force therapy and reorientation on people — either explicitly or through cultural peer pressure — is potentially very harmful and dangerous. In fact, I know many that have been literally chased out of the church by people who have forced this kind of change-therapy on them.</p><p>The real question for me, for other gay and lesbian followers of Jesus, and for the church (or churches, lol) is how do we live out our lives with integrity (wholeness), joy and faithfulness — and how do we help others do the same?</p><p>Of course, this is really the challenge for all people, whether they are gay or straight…</p><p>BD</p>



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