We wake up but the bad dream continues:
George Bush is still President. We're still killing and
being killed in Iraq. And even some conservatives are having
difficulties justifying the war: Alan Greenspan, who served as
Federal Reserve chairman for 18 years, has just published a new book,
"The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World" which has this
unsettling sentence in it:
"I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to
acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."
More than 3,700 of our soldiers killed because of oil?
So I've been in a funk contemplating all that.
But then I read a piece on this newspaper's website two
weeks ago written by Rev. Stephen Griffith and signed on to by 22
other Lincoln clergy (including a one-time student of mine) and I
felt much better.
The headlineget this nowwas "Pastors agree: Being gay
not a sin, Bible says to love everyone." And before I recovered from
the headline, I read this passage:
We feel compelled by our faith to speak out. Being
gay is not a sin. We have read widely, studied the Bible, been in
many conversations with gay persons and their families and are
convinced that being gay is not a choice a person makes, it is who a
person ismuch the same way that one's eyes are brown or one is left-handed."
And suddenly I was out of my funk. The preachers'
statement made me want to stand up and shout "Hallelujah!" Gave me
hope that reason, like some contagious calamity, was spreading.
But I recovered a week later when I read a story in the
Denver Post about how Focus on the Family, "the Colorado
Springs-based Christian media ministry
endorsed a recent study finding that
it is possible, through religious mediation, to change one’s sexual
You know, going to your pastor and asking him how to
change your sexual orientation from gay to straight. Or, I suppose,
If you believe that, I've got some newly-minted $100 bills
I'll sell you for half price.
But the Post story went on to tell us that "The American
Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association
state that homosexuality is not a mental disorder, but a normal
variant of human sexual behavior. The associations recommend against
any practitioners' attempts to change the behavior."
But the notion that gays can become straights if they try
hard enough is as goofy as the notion that straights can become gay
if they try hard enough.
If we accept the notion that we are straight or gay as a
result of our own decision, it raises some interesting questions. Like:
Can you remember when you made your choice? Was it like
coming to a crossroad and choosing which direction you were going to
take? Surely you would remember when and why and where you made the
choice, wouldn't you? Did you just flip a coin? Did you make lists
of advantages and disadvantages? And do you remember telling
everyone which choice you’d made?
The Truth, Mainly
Surely you'd remember all that, wouldn't you?
Neither do I.
Could it be that straights don't get to make the choice
but gays have to?
And if straights say we are the way God intended us to be,
can't gays say God intended them to be gay?
If gays get to choose to be gay but straights don't get to
choose to be straight, does that mean the Creator likes gays better
John Milton makes the argument in "Paradise Lost" that
there's no virtue without free will. Does that mean the Creator
likes gays better than She likes straights? You know, because gays
get to choose to be gay, but straights have no free will to make such
But maybe, straight or gay, we're no more responsible for
our sexual orientation than we are for being left-handed or
right-handed, six-three or five-four, brown-eyed or blue-eyed. And maybe
our sexual orientation, straight or gay, has been thrust upon us by
forces over which we have no control.
In which case, maybe it makes no legal or moral sense to
ostracize the minority because they aren't like the majority, no
matter how fuzzy the focus of Focus on the Family can be.
And we need to congratulate Rev. Griffith and the other 22
Lincoln clergy (including a one-time student of mine) who signed on
to his statement. Way to go, guys and girls.
Addendum: In this column two weeks ago, I quoted a piece
from the N.Y. Times written by seven U.S. G.I.s in Iraq who wrote
that "upbeat official reports amount to 'misleading rhetoric,'" and
who "warned against pursuing 'incompatible policies to absurd
ends.'" Two of the seven, Sgt. Omar Mora and Sgt. Yance T. Gray,
died in a vehicle accident in Baghdad on the day the column was
published, and a third, Staff Sergeant Jeremy Murphy, was shot in the
head, but is expected to recover.
Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity
from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail