Thinking Out Loud

November 14, 2011

Sexual Orientation: Select One from the Six in the List

A few months back here in the Canadian province of Ontario, our Liberal (so aptly named in this case) government proposed to introduce a new sex-ed curriculum which would have kids as young as Grade Three learning about things that kids shouldn’t be concerned about at that age.  Childhood is a wonderful time, and to rob a kid of his or her innocence is so unfair, though I have to admit, in typing that, I stumbled over whether the phrase “his or her” was still politically correct, but somehow to speak of robbing a child of its innocence was a grammatical load I was not prepared to carry.

Part of the curriculum would include identification of six different orientations or expressions.   Are you sitting down?  Here we go:

  1. Gay
  2. Straight
  3. Transsexual
  4. Transgendered
  5. Intersexed
  6. Two-Spirited

I would offer some definitions here for #5 and #6, but hey, you’re already online, you know how the internet works, and if you really need to, you can get those definitions.

Of course, some ministry organizations thrive on this sort of thing.  Even though the province backed off on its proposed curriculum, there are some ministries that can only function if there is a specific target.  Absent that, they would would have to do something else like… oh… I don’t know… preach the love of Jesus?  

However, at the root of sensationalism, there are always grains of truth, and if this story about a six-year-old boy is true, the people of my home province have much to be concerned about.

TORONTO — While flipping through his six-year-old son’s new student planner Monday night, Jaak Purres was shocked to see some pretty heavy words jump out at him: sex worker, female genital mutilation, Palestinian solidarity.

Most of them were plotted on a calendar marking “Days of Significance” — International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (Dec 17), the International Day of Zero-Tolerance on Female Genital Cutting/Mutilation (Feb. 6). But their mere presence in a book stuffed in his son’s backpack and carried to and from his Grade 2 class, set off alarm bells for Mr. Purres, who sends his child to school in Toronto’s Bathurst and Lawrence area.

“I ripped the pages out so I wouldn’t have to explain [the concepts] to him,” he said. “Considering sex talk hasn’t started at that age yet, it’s maybe not appropriate to go into mutilation when they don’t understand their own genitalia.”

You can read more of this and other stories by clicking here.

As a parent, I would outraged if my son in Grade Three (or even Grade Seven) came home with this sort of propaganda in his daily planner, or was being confronted with which one of six sexual orientations he belonged to. I’d rather he was at school learning history, geography, physics and math.

And as a responsible adult, I realize that just because a particular curriculum was called off one day does not mean it won’t be re-introduced the next. Sometimes the social engineers fully expect to lose the first round, but aim to desensitize the populace in time for the second round.

But I’m also wary of those who continue to announce that ‘the sky is falling’ when, for the time being, the sky has been safely secured in place.

May 20, 2010

EFC Claims Victory in Christian Horizons Case

I recognize that today’s post won’t be as significant to my largely U.S. readership, but it has major repercussions here in Canada, so I hope you’ll permit me this domestic story.    For context, the EFC (Evangelical Fellowship of Canada) is our version of the NAE (National Association of Evangelicals) which sometimes also fulfills the role taken on in the U.S. by the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice) lobbying in Canada’s capital on behalf of Christian ideals.

Over two years ago on this blog, I reported on a complaint filed by Connie Heintz, a former employee of Christian Horizons, a Christian organization which operates group homes for developmentally challenged adults.   The big picture issue was the requirement by CH that employees live up to a lifestyle clause with certain moral or behavioral guidelines.   The complaint was filed with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (OHRT), a group with a reputation for never losing; so this was a David vs. Goliath type of battle.

But it was also a battle with large scale implications for Christian (and by extension various other religious groups’) organizations of all stripes, not to mention churches.   The OHRT argued that on the basis of the variety of people being served and on the basis of the government funding received by Christian Horizons. (Read the editorial that is part of the above link, which comprises the second two-thirds of the blog post.)

Wednesday, we received this announcement in an e-mail from EFC, which you can also read online:

OTTAWA – In December 2009, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) appeared before the Superior Court of Ontario, Divisional Court, in the landmark religious freedom case, Heintz v. Christian Horizons. The court, which heard an appeal of the decision of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (OHRT), released its decision late Friday afternoon.

Christian Horizons, a faith-based ministry, employs over 2,500 people to provide housing, care and support to over 1,400 developmentally disabled individuals, and has done so for more than 40 years. This Christian ministry, which requires its employees to sign a Statement of Faith and a Lifestyle and Morality Policy, was the subject of a human rights complaint when a staff member resigned after she felt she could no longer live according to the commitment she made when she signed the policy.

In the decision being appealed, the OHRT had ruled that Christian Horizon’s efforts were not the ministry of a religious community but rather social work and that it, as well as other faith-based bodies serving public needs on a non-discriminatory basis, could no longer require that employees share their religious beliefs and resulting service commitment. The Divisional Court ruled differently and reversed much of the OHRT’s decision.

“This is significant victory for faith-based charities across Canada. While they must clarify certain governing documents and review certain employment policies, they may largely continue to require employee compliance with both statements of faith and lifestyle and morality policies,” said Don Hutchinson, the EFC’s Vice-President and General Legal Counsel.

“We’re relieved to see the court found that the exemption provision in the Ontario Human Rights Code which permits certain charities, including religious charities, to selectively hire employees who share the same beliefs makes no private/public distinction. This means that Christian charities may continue to serve non co-religionists in society all while maintaining their internal religious ethos and integrity,” continued Hutchinson. “I’m relieved that the court recognized that the exemption exists to guarantee the right to free association in this way. This was of serious concern as the OHRT had found otherwise.”

“Of course, we are also disappointed that the Court found it reasonable for the OHRT to have concluded that Christian Horizons did not meet an objective test for a bona fide occupational requirement for Ms. Heintz’s job, but the Court was instructive as to how that situation may be corrected.”

“What does this mean for Christian charities across Canada? Well, it means that it’s time again for them to clarify their statements of faith, lifestyle policies and job descriptions for all employees in order to clearly demonstrate how compliance with both statement of faith and codes of conduct are necessary for and related to job duties.”

This case is huge here, and while Christian Horizons didn’t have the resources to fight this on their own, there was simply too much at stake here for Canadian Christian charities, hence the involvement of EFC.

UPDATE:  Here’s a different perspective on the recent decision from an editorial in Canada’s national newspaper, The National Post.

ALSO: “…But the gay rights group EGALE, which was an intervenor in the court case, also said this week’s ruling was a victory. Lawyer Cynthia Petersen said the ruling would make it hard for religious charities to prove that a person’s sexual orientation or beliefs would get in the way of their duties.”  That quotation is from an article in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record.

FURTHER UPDATE (5.21.10) Here’s a summary of the decision posted on a blog operated by CFPL, the Centre for Faith and Public Life, a division of EFC.

January 16, 2010

Gay Christian Network Conference: Not-So Full Coverage

I don’t really want to wade into the larger topic of people who have affirmed their homosexuality and at the same time affirmed their faith in Jesus Christ.   It’s a big issue, and I’ve known people on both sides of it.

I just want to know how both the bloggers and the online news media missed the conference held earlier this month in Nashville.

A “before” article in Out and About on January 1st announces the then forthcoming conference, “We’ve heard from many individuals in the music industry, particularly those in the Christian music industry who struggle with the intersection of their faith and sexuality,” Lee said. “So Nashville just made sense.”.    The next day the Athiest Nexus takes a shot at the upcoming meeting, “it’s like, ‘Vegetarian Sausage-makers conference planned…'”

Then, on January 14th, an “after” article at Change.Org reports on the event that was attended by about 400 people, “We see religious groups like the National Organization for Marriage or the institutional Catholic Church extolling the virtues homophobia. But it’s equally important to remember that there’s a huge population of folks who practice a theology that says it’s not only OK to be LGBT, it’s something religion should embrace.”

A day later, another post at Freedom2B reports on the address given by one of the speakers, a guy you may have heard of.

And that’s why this matters.   You see if 400 gay people want to meet in Nashville and discuss their Christian faith, that’s not really news, and I shouldn’t expect media — either bloggers or mainstream — to cover this.

But this conference featured Christian mainstream personalities TONY CAMPOLO and DEREK WEBB; which brings this event onto our radar screen.   It reminds me of when I was writing a Canada column for CCM Magazine, and my editor said, “We don’t really want your news, we just want to hear about our artists who happen to be touring your country.”

So basically this isn’t about the conference itself, but about the spotlight and the legitimacy created for it when Christian authors or musicians show up.   Campolo, albeit, somewhat expectedly; Webb whose song ‘What Matters More’ resulted in him shopping for a new label for his recent Stockholm Syndrome.

As I said at the beginning, I don’t want to discuss the “gay and Christian” issue so much as I want to say that I think this was probably a significant event that the blogosphere didn’t document.  So the question is, Why?  I have a theory…

July 16, 2009

Sexual Preferences in the 21st Century

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:40 am
Choosing Your Sexual Preference in the 21st Century

Dan: Hey, whaddya say you, me, Pamela and her sister go on a double date tonight?

Don: C’mon, eh; you know I’m gay.

Dan: Know what?  I didn’t know any such thing.  How did you decide you were gay?

Don: I wasn’t sure, so I took a survey online.

Dan: Okay… By any chance did the survey have ten questions?

Don: Yeah!  How did you know?

Dan: Everybody knows that survey.   It asks some dumb questions, and then, no matter what answers you give, it says, ‘You are definitely gay.’

Don: It doesn’t matter?

Dan: Not at all.   Actually, they took that site down about a month ago.   When did you do the survey?

Don: Over two years ago.

Dan: [long silence]  Oh, my.

Don: [longer silence]

In a world where psychologists would have us believe that being gay is a matter of genetic predisposition, in many cases, it’s actually the product of much more random factors.

I’ve developed this idea more fully in things I’ve posted to other blogs, but you can read the original germ of the idea in a chapter of my book, The Pornography Effect.  (Click the header when the chapter appears if you want to read the whole thing from beginning to end; it takes only 45 minutes.)

If you’re reading this, and you believe you are same sex attracted, consider the possibility that we all start out somewhat asexual (not bisexual) and that preferences are formed as a result of “who gets to us first.”    I’m not trying to undermine what you believe you are, or try to preach to you about what you could be;  I’m simply asking you to think back and reconsider what might have been. I’m just wanting to ask the question, “Is it possible that more random factors were at work?   That some early sexual fulfillment was used as the basis as for a broader statement as to who you are?”

June 9, 2009

Same Sex Attracted

It is sweeping North America.  It is a cause of contention within families.   It’s a condition based on lifestyle choices that are rooted in sin and lack of self control giving way to desires and passions.   The behavior becomes addictive and consuming.   The worst result, of course, is a disease that can be severe and debilitating and even bring death.

The condition is obesity, the sin is gluttony, and the disease is diabetes.

(Inspired from reading chapter 5 in unChristian.)

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Today’s post is a continuation from yesterday’s, where I tried to explain the influence of the internet in shaping sexual preferences, so that regular readers of this blog — mostly interested in Christian news and opinion — will better understand the rapid growth of same sex attraction.

Dave Kinnaman in his book unChristian (Baker Books) suggests a number of ways in which the Church (capital C) and local churches (small c) can do better when interacting with people who are ‘out’ in the gay community, as well as people struggling with same sex attraction:

unChristian borderedAcknowledge the Complexity

“The biblical response to homosexuals should be to deal with the fundamental needs that all men and woman have.   We just acknowledge that everyone has sexual baggage but also the potential for sexual wholeness.   There are major problems across the spectrum of sexuality that the church needs to address…

“Being “against ” gays and lesbians is not a flag to wave… Sexuality should not be seen as dualistic — all good or all bad — but as a good part of our created nature that is constantly in need of repair…

Open Doors With Conversations

“A vital element of engaging homosexuals is to elevate the importance of conversations.   Christians expect overnight results and are impatient with the need to develop deep, candid relationships and interactions of trust…

Treat Other Christians With Respect

“Christians need to downgrade the importance of being antihomosexual as a “credential” proving that we are more faithful to God than anyone else is…   We need to be more concerned about reaching those who need Jesus than “proving” our faith to those who already claim to know Jesus…

Have the Right Perspective

“We should not give up channels of influence, such as politics, just because our stand might cause negative perceptions, but we must pursue our efforts in those arenas with integrity, respect and love for people.

“…Despite widespread mobilization over the last decade, most Christians have become even more isolated from homosexuals…  Gays and lesbians should not be surprised to find us working side by side with them to address HIV/AIDS and to end workplace discrimination in nonreligious settings.

Express Concern for Kids

“…It’s offensive to homosexuals to say that a child needs both a father and a mother; it’s a difficult part of what Christians believe.   However, though this is an important conviction, Christians have to avoid rhetoric that dehumanizes people, especially in interpersonal interactions.   Our most important concern must be the response of young people to Christ, not merely what type of home they grew up in.

Have Compassion

“…Our words in an us-versus-them world can be weapons we use against outsiders, especially Gays…  It is easy to decry political correctness, but it is much more difficult to abide by the biblical concept of guarding our tongues and being accountable for what we communicate to others.   It is easy to learn what words are offensive and simply avoid them; it is much harder to find meaningful ways to speak the truth in love…”

~from unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity, by David Kinnaman with Gabe Lyons, 2007, Baker Books

If addiction to internet pornography is a factor in the life of someone you know and care about, be sure to check out my own resource, The Pornography Effect which is posted online for free reading.

If you are someone who is same sex attracted: Again, as I said yesterday, some  Christians have not been at all charitible in dealing with this issue, and maybe dealing with you personally.   For that, I am sorry.   I think that many in the Church thought that with enough opposition, this issue would simply go away.   It didn’t, and in the Western world, it’s here to stay.   Please be patient as we who are older, as well as the next generation of Christ-followers learn what it means to have the compassion that Jesus had in caring  for those who came to him; as well as dealing with the issues that we have in our own lives. And re-read yesterdays post with an open mind, considering the possibility that where you find yourself today may have actually been somewhat random; a consequence of who got there first at a vulnerable time in your life.

June 8, 2009

Same Sex Attraction

Filed under: parenting — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 4:20 pm

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.

Kids Surfing the NetThe 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.

teen with computerSo, 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.

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