Why I don’t get it

July 7, 2006

We allow medical information to be used quite freely for some conditions- let’s say leprousy.  While even in Jesus’ time a leprous person had to seek ritual purification after being healed by him, we do not any longer seek such archaic rites for something conclusively out of a person’s control.  Part of that may be due to Paul’s writings in the Epistle, but part of it I think is also that we have a different understanding of leprousy then we did in Moses or even in Jesus time.  We know from medical facts that leprousy is not the “unclean”, cast the filthy people out, kind of thing it once was thought to be.  It reminds me of the kind of thinking inherent in this Doonesbury from Sunday:

 Doonesbury

Why then, is mental health- psychology- so much harder for us to deal with?  As I mentioned many times in my previous post, the mental health community has resoundingly told us that homosexuality is not an illness (see the American Pscyhological Association).  It cannot be “cured.”

I am reminded of a quote I saw recently of a senator- a senator in charge of the committee responsible for overseeing environmental issues- discussing global warming.  When asked about global warming and the insurmountable evidence that 1) it is happening, and 2) that we humans are helping to cause it, his responsible was simply to say that “it is a huge hoax.”

Unbelievable.

Now I don’t know whether he really believes it is a hoax, or he has more corrupt motives.  But I do know that something about the “gay issue” causes some people to have a similar reaction.

People ignore the undisputable evidence and go instead for a visceral reaction to what they want to believe instead of what is overwhelmingly evident.

Instead of reconciling their beliefs with what what we have collectively learned, maybe even having to ask themselves hard questions about the history of their traditions and beliefs, instead they ignore hard facts.

Creationism falls prey to a similar set of circumstances.

The price for ignorance is high.  The reward may be bliss on an individual theological level, but the cost, as we are seeing, is the destruction of relationships.

That is not to say that people must adopt my theology or fall into the abyss, or anything like that.  My point is simply this:  I do not understand.  I do not understand a point of view which ignores hard evidence, seeking instead to justify positions based on interpretations of scripture that then do not reconcile to fact.

I would like to understand that position.  To me, though, it does not make sense.  It is a “wishful thinking” position- hoping that a position will be true, because if it isn’t, then the whole house of cards will come crashing down.  As I’ve said before, I think we have to think hard about that.  I think God is messy enough that the “nice & tidy” positions don’t hold.  The house of cards built on those positions will always fail.  And the dogma surrounding them, then are bound also to ruin– a perpetual problem of religion over its existence, as that is part of the human experience, of human sin.  We want so much to build that house of cards.  God cannot be contained in it.  God, by definition, passes all understanding.  It doesn’t mean we can’t try to understand.  But it means that we must be open as we grow in God to gain bits and pieces of the fuller picture.

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7 Responses to “Why I don’t get it”

  1. FrMichael Says:

    I’ll take a go at this.

    Psychology is not a hard science that creates “hard facts” or “undisputable evidence.” Psychological “facts” are not equivalent to facts of physics, chemistry, or other physical sciences. They are subject to change and have changed greatly over the past century, heavily influenced by the surrounding culture and opinions of certain self-styled elites.

    It is particularly worse when it comes to LGBT issues because that is already a highly politicized subject. The dishonesty of the 10% figure from Kinsey, an infamous pervert, is only the beginning of the dishonesty on the subject.

    I have a lot more to say but have a Rosary and Mass to lead with my parishioners. Be back later, counseling load permitting.

  2. FrMichael Says:

    Another sore subject for me: the collective experience of homosexuality and how is it portrayed.

    Let’s face it, promiscuity is rampant in both the homosexual and heterosexual communities. The difference is that promiscuity isn’t the goal for most heterosexuals. When they get married, most married couples are faithful most of the time; the couple surveys I’ve seen seem to indicate that a small majority report no incidents of infidelity during the course of their marriage. Whereas among homosexuals multiple sexual partners is the norm. It seems to me that those advocating for same-sex blessings or marriage should first try to clean house within the GLBT community. Instead, one will encounter Integrity, Dignity, and gay-friendly parishes participating in the depraved activities known as gay pride parades.

  3. Jeff Says:

    I’m just getting ready to disconnect as the movers are arriving. But I just couldn’t disconnect without commenting on at least this stmt from Fr Michael:

    “Whereas among homosexuals multiple sexual partners is the norm.”

    I dispute this. I don’t know anyone in a relationship who has multiple sexual partners. Of the people I know that are gay, they are no more sexually active than the straight people I know that are not in a relationship.

    I’m not a scientific study, but I do think that in my “little world” the norm is just simply not the case.

    Undocumented statements of fact that play off of prejudice and preconceived notions are not helpful in the discussion.

    Furthermore, I think you have missed the point if you think that “cleaning house” is necessary. The whole point of inclusionary theology is that you are welcome at the table of Jesus no matter who you are and no matter where you are on your journey of faith. No ifs, ands, or buts. God’s love is bigger than we would like. Maybe you don’t like leather queens, maybe I don’t like Jerry Falwell. But God loves them both, and as such they both have a place at the table.

    Is there need of healing in the GLBT community? Of course- as there is in the straight community and every other community that exists. It cannot be done- the GLBT community will not listen to the religious community- so long as the religious community says that we are an “abomination”.

    The whole point of inclusion is so that the healing can begin. I don’t believe we can say “heal yourself first and then come to the church.” That isn’t the point. Jesus healed those who had great faith, not healed people in order that they might find great faith.

    Now I really have to shut down and help the movers!!

  4. Curtis Says:

    First of all I’m curious, like the others, on what “hard evidence” you are referring to. I will presume that you mean the evidence that homosexuality cannot be cured. First of all, I’m speaking as a Christian and a grad student studying clinical psychology. And yes, homosexuality was removed from the DSM-III. This was not because homosexuality cannot be cured. They simply took the stance that it was not a mental illness. Most psychologists recognize that there are a few homosexuals who are able to turn to heterosexuality. They simply say that homosexuality, whether genetic or social, is not deviant behavior. Interestingly, other sexual behavior is still considered mental disorders, including fetishes and pedophilia. Personally I believe that the decision to exclude homosexuality from the DSM was made because American culture was moving towards accepting homosexuality as a lifestyle.

    In my opinion, homosexuality is genetically predisposed – not genetically predetermined. The difference means that some people will have a greater pull towards homosexuality than others. Homosexuality is also associated with higher levels of depression and anxiety – which suggests either that the pressures of being a homosexual cause the person to become depressed and anxious or that homosexuality arises out of a mental state that is unbalanced.

    The point I’m trying to make is that Christians are not ignoring overwhelming evidence. First of all the overwhelming evidence simply isn’t overwhelming. And even if homosexuality is found to be completely genetic, which I think to be highly unlikely, then that does not mean that God does not wish that they remain celibate. Finally, Christians are arguing that homosexuality is a sin, not that it is or isn’t a mental illness. While physical illness can be indisputable, mental illnesses are actually just clusters of symptoms and are therefore subject to much less objectivity.

  5. Milton Says:

    Re: the Doonesbury cartoon – Creationists would not argue against the type of evolution-microevolution-that is described by a microorganism mutating or developing new characteristics. What creationists do hold did not and cannot happen is macroevolution-an organism producing offspring of a new, different species, such as a microorganism producing a multi-celled organism that then produces, say, a fish or a mammal. There are a number of biological reasons for that position as well as the violation macroevolution would be of a number of scriptural principles found in the Bible. The scope of that argument goes far beyond a blog comment but can be found easily by Googling “creationism, macroevolution, microevolution”.

  6. Jim Says:

    Curt – Jesus said a great deal more about “pride” and judgment than he did about sexual orientation. Perhaps you might consider those scriptural teachings of our Saviour before you “call out” other people’s sins. Consider the pole in your own eye.

  7. Jeff Says:

    Curtis –

    Congratulations on your choice of such a wonderful profession.

    However, I think you have a bit more studying to do if you would suggest to a client that the way to build self-esteem is to remain celibate because somehow his or her sexuality is “bad” rather than fully embrace the person s/he was created to be (nurture or nature just isn’t the point) and seek a loving, caring, and compassionate relationship with someone who can be a wonderful and loving lifelong companion.

    That just isn’t mental health. That is mental illness.
    And yes, there is a higher level of anxiety caused from being gay. I’m acutely aware of it as I travel from LA to Austin on my way to seminary. This is not a gay-friendly country. A psychologist advising his clients that they are not “good enough” to have a healthy sexual identity as part of a loving monogomous relationship won’t help diminish that anxiety.

    You should know better, frankly.

    j


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