For those who cannot grasp our growing openness to sexual minorities, please refer to the numerous reports of harassment and suicide. I appreciate there are differences of opinion in our church. Not everyone agrees with the decisions we’ve made. Nevertheless, I get constant questions about why we’re moving this direction. These questions deserve an answer.
I know many of us grew up in a society that assumed homosexuality was a choice. I know this is a hard thing to understand, but science, medicine and psychiatry have come to a new understanding of this issue, that started in the late 1800s with research done on sexual orientation. This work has expanded to include the complex question of gender identification. Do some reading. It’s that important.
The meanness of our society is upon us. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT youth (86.2%) reported being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, nearly half (44.1%) reported being physically harassed and about a quarter (22.1%) reported being physically assaulted, according to the 2007 National School Climate Survey of more than 6,000 LGBT students.
In most cases, the harassment is unreported. Nearly two-thirds of LGBT students (60.8%) who experience harassment or assault never reported the incident to the school. The most common reason given was that they didn’t believe anything would be done to address the situation. Of those who did report the incident, nearly a third (31.1%) said the school staff did nothing in response. While LGBT youth face extreme victimization, bullying in general is also a widespread problem. More than a third of middle and high school students (37%) said that bullying, name-calling or harassment is a somewhat or very serious problem at their school, according to From Teasing to Torment. Bullying is even more severe in middle school. More than two-thirds of middle school students (69%) reported being assaulted or harassed in the previous year and only 41% said they felt very safe at school.
Personally, I find it astounding that the secular world is more concerned and compassionate about these folks than the church. It’s getting harder and harder for me to understand. Many seem unable to appreciate how their carte blanche condemnation of homosexuals are compounding the problem. We are, right now, earning the reputation that we have in the world. Sometimes you have to choose: self-righteous moralism or compassion and justice? Reading Jesus in the gospels, the answer seems clear to me.
We have to help people understand what medical science did not grasp centuries ago: that sexual orientation is complex, and, for both heterosexuals and homosexuals, is not a choice. We have to understand Paul’s experience of homosexuality was promiscuity, rape and cult prostitution, which he rightfully condemned as predatory and idolatrous.
We have work to do.