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Don't Tell the Cathedral

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As you probably all know, the issue of religion and homosexuality is one that generates a lot of angst. As a religious person myself, I find no conflicts between my homosexuality and my religion, but I know that's not true for everyone.

Today, in both major Fairfax newspaper websites (The Age in Melbourne and the Sydney Morning Herald), the lead article in the National News part of the websites is the following opinion piece:

Don't Tell the Cathedral

Now, I'm not Catholic, but it agrees with the general impression I have here in Australia - the members of the major Christian denominations and the official hierarchy of those denominations don't necessarily agree on matters such as homosexuality.

The article doesn't appear initially to be on homosexuality, but a bit over halfway through the article is this quote:

I was a child of the tradition of grumbling patience, but something happened to change my tune. A teenage boy came into the social circle of a friend of mine and his wife. My friend became aware the boy was struggling with his emerging homosexuality in the context of a conservative religious family and church community. It was a delicate matter and my friend, a generous and compassionate man, tried unsuccessfully to find the right moment to offer some reassurance. Tragically, the boy eventually took his own life.

Studies indicate same-sex-attracted young people may be several times more likely than heterosexual young people to attempt suicide. Let's change this! It strikes me as obvious that church teachings on sexuality are wildly complicit in this shocking statistic.

There's more, but I'll leave that to you to read for yourself (if you want to). It's only a step, and it's not by a member of the Catholic hierarchy, but I would like to believe it is a better reflection of the Australian Catholic community than the official Catholic hierarchy's statements.

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Guest Dabeagle

Most religions aggravate me, this is but one extreme example. Umberto Eco was right "the world will not be free until the last brick falls from the last church upon the last priests head."

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I read the article Graeme, and it is certainly reminiscent of where I thought Christianity was back in the late 1960s.

The mix of Zen and Christianity is not incompatible as this article shows, and that was certainly echoed in the books on comparative religion that I was reading back then.

Sadly, religion has taken a turn towards afflicting people with aggressive sermons, condemning everything but the severest discipline, and espousing authority with fear and hatred, which is beyond any measure of human decency. Such authoritarianism along with its hypocrisy has awakened a new search for truth and reality in the young, and that is something I find very encouraging. If that means the religions have made themselves obsolete, then it may well be for the best.

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I was raised Catholic, and went to a Catholic school for grades K-5. I go into some detail about the incorrect perceptions of Catholic teaching regarding homosexuality that exists, including among some in the Catholic hierarchy and clergy in my story Reorientation (sorry for the commercial, but someone has to pay for my light bill). The article Don't tell the Cathedral that Graeme posted address this problem very clearly.

Here's part of the dialogue I wrote (with the invaluable assistance of Pertinax Carrus) in Reorientation that explains the maleable positions on homosexuality in the Church that give gay Catholics the opportunity to be both gay and Catholic:

“Fortunately, the issue of homosexuality isn’t part of Church doctrine, it’s what we usually call an ecclesiastical discipline. Doctrine is the collection of the basic truths of the Church, part of the revelation given by Jesus to guide us to understand God and humanity and the relationship between Him and us, that enables us to interpret various passages in the Bible. Discipline is the application of morality to specific cases, like homosexuality, where there is no defining doctrine. Currently there’s growing agreement that being gay is not a sin, but that having gay sex is a sin. However, the current teachings of the magisterium which condemn gay sex are open to question because they are based on assumptions about biblical texts which themselves need further interpretation. That's why we have theologians, and the theologians are divided on this point at present.”

So you can be gay and Catholic.

Colin :icon_geek:

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Sadly, religion has taken a turn towards afflicting people with aggressive sermons, condemning everything but the severest discipline, and espousing authority with fear and hatred, which is beyond any measure of human decency. Such authoritarianism along with its hypocrisy has awakened a new search for truth and reality in the young, and that is something I find very encouraging. If that means the religions have made themselves obsolete, then it may well be for the best.

I hate unwarranted generalisations :icon1: Can we agree to substitute "some organised religions" for "religion" in your first sentence? I agree that there are some religous organisations that do what you say, but "religion", per se, isn't doing that. For example, my own Uniting Church in Australia generally doesn't "afflict people with aggressive sermons". A few preachers do, but most do not. I can say with complete honesty that in my forty nine years, I've never heard an aggressive sermon on homosexuality - indeed, I've not heard ANY sermon regarding homosexuality. Homosexuality has been discussed (especially in the context of the Uniting Church Assembly a few years ago where they were debating is practising homosexuals could be ministers - celibate homosexuals have been accepted since the 80s), but not as part of a sermon.

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Can we agree to substitute "some organised religions" for "religion" in your first sentence?

No, I guess not Graeme. Our experiences with religion and homosexuality differ in extreme. Mine leave me no room but to condemn belief in the Abrahamic derived religions as being restrictive of individual evolution and personal freedom. I can accept that your experiences are different to mine but that does not mean that religion is not responsible for the wars, crusades, poverty, and persecution of millions of people, and for the horrors and ignorance during the Dark ages that held up human progress let alone denied our compassion for each other.

I have lost patience with belief in superstitions, but I certainly wouldn't deny people's right to believe whatever they want, so long as they do not try to convince me that I need to believe as they do.

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I can easi;ly accept that we have different opinions and experiences, but I still find it odd that you believe that "Sadly, religion has taken a turn towards afflicting people with aggressive sermons, condemning everything but the severest discipline, and espousing authority with fear and hatred, which is beyond any measure of human decency." when that statement does not appear to be supported by any objective evidence.

I will happily concede that there are parts of organised religion that have done what you've said, but given the progress by other religion organisations to move in the opposite direction, (Uniting Church in Australia, United Church of Canadia being two I can name off the top of my head, and it wouldn't take me long to find other ones) I can't see how your statement can be justified. But if it's just your opinion, that's fine - I just don't think the statement, as made, is justified.

Now, as for the other things you've blamed on religion, that's a completely different discussion :icon1: However, since balancing the good and bad in religion (and in mankind itself, completely aside from religion) is a subjective exercise, I don't see that it's worthwhile to debate the subject.

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I should read Reorientation along with Graeme's story New Brother and its sequel, which point out a few things on religion and being gay.

The Catholic church's stance, that you can be gay, you just had better not do anything about it, or you're a sinner and unfit, is a case of splitting semantic hairs.

However, Catholics themselves are divided about the issue of homosexuality. Many Catholics do favor women as equals in the laity and in ministry (including the priesthood) and marriage of priests. That's true especially in America, but it's true elsewhere too.

The various Protestant denominations are likewise divided about homosexuality, both in their official denominational statements and in their members' opinions.

I'm Protestant. My own denomination has an official stance that recognizes homosexuality and is not against gay people as members, or serving in the church, or as ministers. However, just because that's the official stance, doesn't mean that individual churches, ministers, or members agree with that. -- My own struggles with my "emerging homosexuality" versus religious faith, and with family and friends' attitudes, and with my local church(es), contributed to me being an on-and-off member during college and after. My particular local church's handling, during my grandmother's illness and afterward, was mixed. The response afterward...if and when I attend regularly again, I will find another church or denomination. That does and does not have anything to do with being gay. A few people there know I'm gay and are fine with me. We've had other gay and lesbian members...including when I was first coming out. Others at church "hate the sin and love the sinner" or are even less tolerant than that. (No, I don't really count that attitude as "tolerant," by the way.) So...I guess it is about usual for many congregations. -- I will say, I never heard a specifically anti-gay sermon at my local church or the church where I was a member as a boy...except when we had an influx of "Charismatic Movement" people, including the pastor, who didn't ever follow through on his agreement to join the denomination. Heh. -- So, yes, I have a very mixed view on various religions' takes on homosexuality.

I still see both hope for enlightenment and positive change, acceptance of gay people, within religious faiths -- as well as the opposite, a strain of people very opposed, intolerant, and fearful, and unwilling to consider the issue, even of things like which translations are valid or best, or what interpretations and historical views, both in Judaism and Christianity, might apply. ...Or the more basic issue of, if everyone is God's child and God loves them all, then that means God must love gay people too. (As one recent quote put it, "If God doesn't like homosexuals, then why are there so many of them?" That quote may not be exact. It's from a person testifying before some committee, but I don't recall who or what.)

Growing up, it wasn't just religion or family views, positive or negative or mixed signals, on homosexuality. It was friends, school and classmates, everyday secular (non-church) life, supposed "scientific" claims and prevailing views, and portrayals in the media (TV, film, radio, etc.) that affected how I felt about being gay, either for myself or friends. Those things affected how friends acted toward me and my friends, or, honestly, how we interacted towards any possible exploration of that: talking about it as friends...or any chances of trying things out. If both you and your friend are conflicted and sending mixed signals, it's hard to get to the point of finding if either of you might like to test the subject. Yet it does happen, kids experimenting or doing more than experimenting, or becoming a couple.

I think the test is larger than particular religions' or denominations' views on being gay. It's the surrounding larger secular culture and it's the particular religious culture or lack of one.

But yes, religious views are a major factor. Religious and secular views feed off each other in some things, and views on homosexuality are one of those areas where religion and secular life are intertwined to a great degree.

Me, I would like to see improvement towards acceptance, and away from either "it's a sin and an abomination" or "you can be gay but you'd better not actually do anything about it or you'll be a sinner outside the church."

In my experience, it is difficult, standing between being gay or having gay friends, and being religious and faithful. It requires a lot of thought about what you yourself believe and what is the real truth in what's written or believed, versus what some people say about those.

In particular, people who read the Bible, Old Testament or New Testament, need to read up on current thinking, including accepting views and including discussions of the problems in translating the original languages and the varying current and historical views throughout Jewish and Christian history. If thehen reasons boil down to concerns over hygiene, ritual purity, abuse, or how to treat people, or lack of commitment, or simple fears conflating homosexual behavior with other sexual behavior, then you reconsider what all the fuss is about.

And no matter how much you pray about it or keep from doing anything, you're still going to be just as gay, if you're gay. So it helps nothing to say you can't act on your feelings. It only means you're condemning someone to be lonely and unfulfilled, and to feel cut off from love of many kinds, not just sexual love or religious love.

There has to be something better. People have to understand and accept, instead of being intolerant and unloving and uncaring. Ignorance, prejudice, and lack of caring or compassion -- are not how it's supposed to be.

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It's always dicey to paint all with the same brush. I'm not a religious person. Never have been, never will be. But the principal church in the town where I live preaches tolerance, peace, togetherness and hope. If I weren't so antireligion, I'd probably attend.

The minister has a gay son. The music director is gay, and his partner is active in the church. The sermons are uplifting and motivating.

Yet it's a Christian chuch.

You can't paint all with the same brush. I agree with Graeme.


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