It’s hard to believe it’s been ten months since I gave up on seeing my crisis book on pornography in print and posted the book online for people to read for free. It was never about money in the first place.
The problem is that the book was written to fit the paradigm of crisis books, which are generally short. And it was written to be distributed in packs of four or five, for pastors and counselors to have to give away. At 22,000 words, this one is too big to be a booklet, and too small to be a standard pocket book. So if I want to get it published, I need to add some major sections to each chapter.
I think the book has a lot of good things to say that other people aren’t saying, but if there’s one chapter I would want to expand right now, it would be the chapter titled “Orientation” which deals with same sex attraction. I think there’s a lot more that needs to be said on this topic, both online and in print. Also, although I’m not a psychologist, I have some opinions on this subject, some of which may contradict what the dominant voices are saying.
The big one in this chapter is my “stem cell analogy.” Stating at the outset that I’m not a scientist, I make the case that just as stem cells are useful in research and applied medicine because they can pick up their orders from surrounding cells — I’m told it’s like the way soy beans pick up the flavor of the food they’re being cooked with — so I believe that pre-teens and early-teens are also “in formation” and their sexual identity is largely shaped by early exposures and experiences.
I know there have been exhaustive research papers written on the predisposition of some individuals toward homosexuality. I’m not suggesting that much of that is not valid. But there are, I believe, many who fall into a vast middle ground; some of whom see pictures online of people of the same gender and wondering why they’re getting aroused.
I think that some of that arousal is normal. Especially for young, healthy adolescents whose hormones are in overdrive. (When you reach my age, however, I’m sure the pictures of either sex don’t have the same effect, if any, that they do for those younger!) Certain responses are not a matter of normal or abnormal, they’re just what happens when the ‘surprise factor’ of certain images produces a response. Or a result of aesthetics, just as the Greeks felt that the male body represented the apex of God’s creation and therefore had the original Olympic athletes compete naked. Or confirmation from other media, such as the girls at the slumber party discussing songs liked “I Kissed a Girl.” Or a matter of context: A man can be in a change room with other men and not be as predisposed to think anything of it, while another man — similar in every way — looks at internet pictures of men in the same change room and is consumed by them.
And there’s a lot of those pictures on the internet right now. And there’s a lot of technology available to deliver those pictures. And there’s a lot of people looking at those pictures. Which brings me to…
I think that where pre- and early-teens are concerned, a lot of orientation right now is a matter of who gets to them first: The people putting up pictures of women and girls; or the people putting up pictures of men and boys. The people putting up blogs and sites with a heterosexual orientation; or the people putting up blogs and sites with a same-sex orientation.
I say that because everybody who has a blog or a website has an agenda. Sure, there’s lots of people using cell phones and flip cameras to take pictures of themselves or their friends, but the number of actual sites on which people come to view those pictures, while it is in the hundreds of thousands, is still finite when compared to the number of individuals thus displayed.
Each one of these people has a purpose in starting their particular site and determining what goes on it. It’s a matter of their personal tastes and preferences.
So, I’ll say it again, a bit differently: If you’re the parent of an early-teen or particularly a pre-teen, a lot of what they come to believe about their own sexuality is a matter of what kind of websites, blogs or photo galleries they and their friends see first. It’s a race. Who gets to them first? What ideas, images and worldviews got to their friends first?
Let me try it one more time even more directly so you don’t miss the point. If you have a child that is still relatively innocent, and you put that child with someone like myself who has done some research on this and knows where different types of things are located online, and then I ask you to choose site type “A,” or site type “B,” and then you give me one hour, I guarantee that after that hour your child would emerge with their innocence lost, their sexual worldview already shaped, and the direction of their personal sexual interest largely settled. One hour. Or less.
Not that I plan on trying this out.
I’ll say it again. I think some kids are like stem cells. Awaiting programming. Being programmed. A large percentage of them — even in our churches — now dealing with same sex attraction.
Tomorrow, I want to look at a half-dozen responses that Dave Kinnaman, in his book unChristian, suggests Christ-followers should remember when they encounter gays at church and in the broader marketplace.
And yes, they’re going to be at church. Your church. If they’re not there already. But “they” are more like you than you realize. “They” are really part of your “we” and “our.” Same sex attraction is huge right now and it intersects church life just as it does the wider society.
So let me rephrase that: The issue is coming to your church. If it’s not there already.
Graphic: The kids in the upper picture are a little younger than what I envisioned for this article, but given the looks on their faces, who knows what they’re seeing!
Personal to SSA readers: If you got here from a Google or WordPress tag, I know that you’ve possibly put up with a lot of harrassment from church people already, and you may now have them stereotyped as much as they’ve stereotyped you. All I can say is: Stay tuned. There is a tide of change happening out there. Not the kind that will rewrite the Bible or re-cast God as a hippie from the 1960s or eliminate all bias and bigotry in every church forever, but the kind that will bring us together in dialog less characterized by antagonism and hostility. ‘Cause really, we’re all sinners. And we’re all hurting in various ways. And we all want to be loved.