Saturday, April 29, 2006

some more journal paragraphs:

The Presbyterian Church, although not alone in their struggle with accepting homosexual congregation members, are rather vocal about this issue they see as a problem. Keith Hartman, a social critic, wrote Congregations in Conflict: The Battle over Homosexuality in which he states, “Homosexuality is the most divisive element facing the [Presbyterian] Church today” (Hartman, vix). It has openly been an issue since the early 70s. Meredith Ashbaugh suggests in her article, Homosexuality in the Presbyterian church, that the Presbytery is “escaping from its previous morals,” and that is the real issue at hand, not homosexuality, yet it is something else (Ashbaugh, 1). It took the Presbyterian Church over seven decades to ordain women into ministry; with that thought, society must recognize that homosexuality in the Presbyterian Church has only been an issue since the 70s (Ashbaugh, 2). Judging by the history of the Presbyterian Church overcoming challenges, this issue is far from over. The Presbyterian denomination is known for not interpreting the Bible in such a literal sense; however this has become increasingly more prevalent in recent years (Ashbaugh, 1). “Reinterpreting the Bible to meet the needs of…society,” best describes the way in which the Presbytery applies the words of the Bible to life (Ashbaugh, 2). According to Meredith Ashbaugh, homosexuals are among those who practice a more relaxed interpretation of scripture. There are still those conservative members who wish for policies and traditions to not be change or updated. It is not uncommon for heated debates to arise every couple decades, due to congregational fears that the Church is wandering away from their stated principles (Ashbaugh, 2). It would be interesting to see the relationship between the geography of Presbyterians and their view on the issue, since there has been a sudden influx of Presbyterians in the south. Or is this perhaps related to the current average age of the Presbyterian Church, which Jennifer Ashbaugh reveals “…is around 60” (1). The Presbytery will not allow any Presbyterian Church to open its doors for a ceremony uniting a same sex couple in a civil union or marriage. When interviewed, some heterosexuals claim that their struggle to accept homosexuals in the Presbyterian Church stems from their fear if they accept them would result in destroying the traditions of the Presbyterian ministry.
Many scholars believe that Christians struggle with this topic of homosexuality in the Church for three main reasons. Many anti-homosexuals, have difficulty accepting homosexuality as a result of “social and psychological reasons…religious considerations…and informal reasons” (Scanzoni and Mollenkott, 45). Homosexuals as well as Presbyterian Ministers could argue that other parishioners have more minor arguments, resulting from insufficient knowledge of homosexuality. While interviewing more conservative Presbyterians, I found that socially they feel that it is inappropriate for their children to witness homosexual couples interacting, believing that it provokes interest that they wish for young eyes to not see. This argument is no concrete, not all homosexuals display public affection just like some heterosexuals refrain from it as well. Most homosexuals are aware that public displays of affection could offend others, so they refrain from holding hands, touching each other, or kissing. This issue is also discussed in Andrew Sullivan’s Same-Sex Marriage: Pro and Con. More liberal open minded individuals could be argue that, our society has long kept homosexuality as a quiet personal matter, and to now make it publicly acceptable is perceived by many as flaunting immoral behavior. This case against homosexuals is more concrete, which I believe is the truth behind the issue.
Another complaint questions why homosexual couples can’t worship in a more liberal environment; perhaps they would be more comfortable among those who have the same views as they. Some of those whom I interviewed believed that homosexuals have committed an ultimate sin, sodomy and that if homosexual acts are approved of they will “…have lost [their] spiritual home” (Kirk, 13). Possibly some of the more informal reasons that anti-homosexual parishioners have difficulty with the issue is that they do not understand why homosexuals are rocking their church’s world, and why they wouldn’t wish to worship in a place more accepting of their sexual orientation?
The most traditional parishioners who do not wish to even worship among homosexuals take their arguments from the Bible, where they read that it says homosexuality goes against God. Moreover, pro-homosexuals believe are the old rules which are no longer applicable since Christ died for all of our sins or so the church tells Christians when it wants to. Using the Old Testament as evidence, parishioners say that homosexuality is wrong and should be frowned upon. Scripture from Leviticus 18:22 says, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination”. Furthermore in Leviticus 20:13 it states, “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them” (Scanzoni and Mollenkott, 60). Many refer to the chapter of Genesis, which supposedly condemns homosexuality, referencing 19:1-11. The description given in Genesis 19:4, “But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:” delivers a clear message with the intent of a homosexual rape. Homosexuals argue that this is not condemning all homosexual practices, it condemns such in “the context of gang rape, idolatry, and lustful promiscuity” (Scanzoni and Mollenkott, 111). Scanzoni and Mollenkott, who have examined homosexuality from religious, sociological, and human sexuality views, provide sophisticated views from homosexuals who have dealt with tribulations regarding their sexual orientation. Among one of their participants is a female homosexual minister, who opposes arguments against sodomy, saying “The scripture makes it clear in Genesis that God’s creation has unlimited variety, and we are part of that variety. God looked at his creation and saw that it was good” (Scanzoni and Mollenkott, 41). The Bible indeed states in Genesis 1:31, “And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good,” however this does not make settling this debate any easier.


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