I’m really sorry to hear you received abusive feedback. It’s one thing for people to disagree but another to be abusive, the latter being unacceptable. And thanks for the positive feedback about our site. It’s something to be proud of that we have a thoughtful and respectful culture here.
I think davidt makes some good points. And to be honest, like davidt, I’m not altogether surprised at the responses you received. I mean, I think your paper is helpful for the right audiences, such as a more conservative church one. However, it may be more difficult for hurting LGBT to receive.
I’m not sure of the specific comments that were made to you but I can certainly share my thoughts on what might have caused offence. (Below are some of the points I previously emailed to you some time ago in response to your paper).
While I appreciate that you were taking a pastoral approach that wasn’t intended to condemn nor engage in arguments over whether homosexuality is a sin or not, I felt there were some conflicting messages that might make some members of the LGBT community think they were being condemned. (Of course I and others who know you realise that’s the very last thing you would be doing). For instance, I wasn’t sure about your mention of homosexuality alongside the story of the adulterer. I wouldn’t class the sin of adultery alongside a sexual orientation. That makes it sound like you see homosexuality as a sin. And for really hurting LGBT, that could be the last straw. They might read that and not see anything else, including the positive comments you make about our community. It could be seen that we’re once more lumped in with evil doings, which I’m sure you can understand, is terribly discouraging. And there’s a sense for me that the LGBT community are expected to make concessions for the church, with congregations needing to be taught how to be non judgmental! It’s like we have to take a softly, softly, apologetic approach until church people can learn to be tolerant which is still a far cry from love.
The bit about respecting a person’s right to be part of an ex gay group is also a bit hard to take. I get that you are showing respect for a person’s right to choose their own path. However it could sound like you are condoning the torturous emotional, spiritual and physical abuse that’s dished out by quite a few ex gay groups. I personally think it’s an important pastoral response to ensure that church goers are fully informed about any program they may want to be part of before they agree to it. And as part of informed consent, that would include being advised of the negative aspects, techniques, requirements, ‘success’ rates and risks of such programs.
It’s good that you make the point about the often incorrect stereotype re promiscuity and LGBT. It annoys me how our community earns this reputation while there’s never a mention about the promiscuity of heterosexuals. I worked in sexual health clinics for years in the UK and saw far more more promiscuous heterosexual people than I did gay ones. That said, there was a certainly a small minority of quite promiscuous gay people, usually men. Overall however, LGBT people were not any more promiscuous. It’s also well known that lesbians have far fewer STIs, less risk of unwanted pregnancy and less chances of cervical cancer since they’re not as likely to be exposed to sperm that increases the risk. Interestingly, the church never talk about that do they? So you might say that lesbians are often “cleaner” and more healthy in this area than the rest of the population. Not that I want to discriminate against those with infections by saying that. However it’s interesting when others use the disease argument as the wrath of God against LGBT and lesbians don’t fit with that. So by their argument, God must be very pleased with lesbians!!
In terms of relationship options, I baulk at the old fashioned and out of touch stance that the church still takes toward sexuality and relationships, irrespective of orientation. I mean, what’s wrong with long term relationships rather than one person for life? Surely the church can consider that idea in the year 2010! But it would seem not.
Where you say the church has mostly acted with good intentions and then talk about Westboro and their hateful actions, that seems to weaken your argument. Surely, any group who act in hate don’t have good intentions. I get that in their minds they probably think they do however a sane person couldn’t agree with that. And while I know you were not condoning Westboro, it might be interpreted that you were making excuses for them.
Having said all that, there were plenty of very good things in your paper, such as your comparison of Gentiles and their acceptance into the early church with LGBT in modern times. (p.36) I also appreciated that you were looking at the pastoral response which is about real relationships rather than theoretical debates. That’s refreshing and well needed because human beings ideally thrive in healthy, healing relationships not dogma. And there seems to have been an overemphasis on debates in the past rather than real life.
Lastly, I very much liked your paragraph looking at the larger biblical truth as well as the point that heterosexuals don’t have to consider or declare their sexual status and therefore aren’t under the pressures that LGBT are. Thanks for pointing that out. It’s good to know you understand about that and are conveying same to others who probably are unaware of the anguish and inner working we go through.