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    • Dignity USA Gets Major Grant Funding from LGBT Rights Group August 1, 2014
      A brief listing on the website of the Arcus Foundation notes that it has given two years of funding amounting to $200 000 to Dignity USA, to support pro-LGBT faith advocates to influence and counter the narrative of the Catholic…Read more →
      Terence Weldon
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      Uganda’s Constitutional Court has struck down the country’s harsh anti-gay law, declaring it “null and void”. The decision was made on procedural grounds, and does nothing to address the appellants complaints that it violated certain rights guaranteed in Uganda’s constitution. There was…Read more →
      Terence Weldon
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    • Gay Games Symposium July 21, 2014
      I am pleased and honored that the UCC has asked me to moderate a symposium during the games entitled Queer Christians: Celebrating the Past, Shaping the Future. [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
      Obie Holmen
    • Email sent to my followers June 27, 2014
      Whew! It's time to catch my breath. Since the release of Queer Clergy in February, I've been on the road ... Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and California. I have been the guest of book clubs, adult forums, LGBT reconciling groups, the Pacific School of Religion, and I've been a guest preacher (always a treat for an old lawyer). I've mad […]
      Obie Holmen
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    • Where Are You? October 26, 2011
      Greetings to all others who grace these pages! Thank you for stopping by. If you still have a reader pointed here, this blog no longer publishes in this location, but can be found at this new link. Please subscribe to the new feed, get the new blog via email or read us by liking us on Facebook or by following me on Twitter.If you want more, please feel free […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Fran)
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    • No Resignation for Nienstedt . . . but Perhaps an Upcoming "Reassignment"? July 31, 2014
      In a statement published yesterday on the website of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, John C. Nienstedt declares that, despite calls for his resignation, he will not be stepping down as archbishop.At one point in his statement Nienstedt says: In the end, it comes down to this: 18 years ago, Pope John Paul II chose me to serve the Church as a bishop, […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
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      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
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    • Brief Hiatus July 30, 2014
      Dear Friends,I apologize to you for being slow to acknowledge your many valuable comments on postings here of late. I've fallen considerably behind, and have taken a brief break — which will probably put me even more behind in replying to your comments. I'm not sure if I will be posting much here in the next few days, and that may be just as well, […]
      noreply@blogger.com (William D. Lindsey)
    • Richard Rodriguez, Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography: "It Is Because the Church Needs Women That I Depend Upon Women to Protect the Church from Its Impulse to Cleanse Itself of Me" July 28, 2014
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      noreply@blogger.com (William D. Lindsey)
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    • the way ahead March 23, 2013
      My current blog is called the way ahead.
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  • RSS The Gay Mystic

    • The travails of young love July 30, 2014
      On a bit of a hiatus from blogging for the summer as I recollect my spirit, but I may have some reflections to share this weekend about the difficulties of young love. Been listening to tales of heartbreak from some of my young students. And young River Viiperi has broken from his partner of two years, Paris Hilton, so these must be difficult days for him as […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Jayden Cameron )
    • Papa Francesco does it again July 14, 2014
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      noreply@blogger.com (Jayden Cameron )
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    • 【要確認】プロミス最低返済額2014.com July 12, 2014
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  • RSS Perspective

    • My atavistic brain August 2, 2014
      - from The Man with Two Brains For some time I've been trying to get a certain book from the library - Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence - but it keeps disappearing from my hold list. But yesterday I saw a video (thanks to a post by Fr. Marsh) by the author, psychologist Rick Hanson on the book.One thing th […]
      noreply@blogger.com (crystal)

Of human bondage

What motivates us as human beings?  Why do we do what we do?

I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 

Of human bondageThese words of Paul the apostle from the 7th chapter of his letter to the Romans serve as the epigraph to my novel and the source of the title, A Wretched Man, a novel of Paul the apostle.  As these verses from Paul suggest, we have long wrestled with the problem of the human will.  The wonderings of philosophers such as Schopenhauer & Nietzsche; psychoanalysts such as Freud & Jung; and literary figures such as Somerset Maugham & Thomas Mann suggest it’s complicated and self-awareness is difficult.

What about homophobia?  What is the source of this phenomenon?  Let’s start with a definition–this one is Merriam-Webster’s online version:

irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals

and Wikipedia’s description:

Homophobia is a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards homosexuality and people identified or perceived as being homosexual. Definitions refer variably to antipathy, contempt, prejudice, aversion, and irrational fear. Homophobia is observable in critical and hostile behavior such as discrimination and violence on the basis of a perceived non-heterosexual orientation. In a 1998 address, author, activist, and civil rights leader Coretta Scott King stated that “Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood.”

Let’s take it a step further; what is “internalized homophobia”?  Here’s the opening paragraph from a UC-Davis Psychology Department study:

Among lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals, internalized sexual stigma (also called internalized homophobia) refers to the personal acceptance and endorsement of sexual stigma as part of the individual’s value system and self-concept. It is the counterpart to sexual prejudice among heterosexuals.

In other words, it is gay folks accepting negative societal, cultural, or religious stigma and applying such negative values toward oneself.  Self-condemnation.  Self-doubt and low self esteem en extremis.  It doesn’t take deep psychological insight to recognize that internalized homophobia is not healthy.  High incidence of suicide.  Drug and alcohol abuse.  Inability to have meaningful relationships. 

And sometimes, the internalized homophobia results in outrageous behavior toward other gays.  An extreme example is Andrew Cunanan, the murderer of Gianni Versace; political examples include US Senator Larry Craig & California State Senator Ray Ashburn; and religious examples include Ted Haggard and now Minnesota pastor and outspoken opponent of the ELCA gay friendly policies, Pastor Tom Brock of Hope Lutheran Church of Minneapolis (Hope Church is not ELCA but AFLC—Association of Free Lutheran Churches–a small and conservative Lutheran denomination). 

The “outing” of Pastor Brock was a journalistic abomination for which there is no excuse, and the offending magazine has received appropriate condemnation.  Yet, the exposure of Pastor Brock raises the question of other outspoken anti-gay religious leaders.  Let me be perfectly clear, I make no suggestion that this is the sole or even the primary motivation for those religious leaders in various denominations that oppose gay inclusive policies.  Yet, one wonders whether Pastor Brock is merely an isolated and atypical example or merely the tip of the iceberg.  What is it about human sexuality that makes some squirm?  How often does sexual angst undergird homophobia?

Whatever the motivation, religious leaders who bash gay folks over the head with their Bibles need to seriously question themselves—are they really offering a solution to gay suicide, gay drug and alcohol abuse, and gay casual relationships or are they part of the problem?  Are they advancing the kingdom of God or stalling it?  Are they truly seeking God’s will or merely proof texting the Bible to justify their own biases, prejudices and even their own homophobia? 

Don’t, please don’t, respond with the horrific notion that you hate the sin but love the sinner, a self-justifying excuse for murky motivations behind hurtful behavior.

Cross posted at Spirit of a Liberal.

2 Responses

  1. Obie, a powerful statement. I like how you frame this discussion in Pauline terms. There is, deep within us all, the mystery of both sin and grace, and profound depths of heart and spirit that only God can fully fathom.

    Even so, I think you’re right: the continuing revelations that some of the most outrageously anti-gay Christian crusaders struggle with same-sex attraction deserves serious attention. After the revelations about Dr. Rekers, I heard a comic say something like this: If you spend most of your time hating and hunting gays, thinking about gays and their lives, you’re likely to be gay!

    Empirical studies in a number of places show that men who are most vocally homophobic are also more likely than non-homophobic men to experience erotic arousal when shown gay pornography.

    We often rail against what is most stigmatized and hidden inside ourselves.

  2. Obie,

    When you say don’t respond with hate the sin, but love the sinner, are you referring to the parable of the adulterous woman or did you have another part of the Bible in mind?

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