The Truth, Mainly - 09/24/2007

Kudos to Rev. Griffith, et. al.
by Leon Satterfield

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 headline—get this now—was "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 is—much 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 orientation."

You know, going to your pastor and asking him how to change your sexual orientation from gay to straight. Or, I suppose, vice versa.

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?

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 than straights?

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 a choice?

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 address is:

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