Skip to comments."Sexually Inclusive Christians" Celebrate Victories, Push for More
Posted on 08/30/2003 5:48:16 PM PDT by xzins
"Sexually Inclusive Christians" Celebrate Victories, Push for More
Mark Tooley August 22, 2003
When arguing for church acceptance of homosexuality, most advocates talk about monogamy. But others are bolder.
I am a strong ally of those in healthy, polyamorous relationships, declared Debra Kolodny. She argued that having multiple sexual partners can be holy. Kolodyn was leading a workshop at the WOW (Witness Our Welcome) 2003 convention, an ecumenical gathering for sexually and gender inclusive Christians.
Hundreds of homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual people gathered under the queer banner in Philadelphia August 14-17 to urge religious acceptance of non-traditional sexual behaviors.
According to WOWs schedule brochure, it was sponsored by the homosexual caucus groups in most mainline Protestant denominations and Dignity USA (for Roman Catholics). Other supporting groups listed in the program included People for the American Way, the Human Rights Campaign, McCormick Theological Seminary (Presbyterian), Episcopal Divinity School, Chicago Theological Seminary (United Church of Christ), and Wesley Theological Seminary (United Methodist).
According to the president of Wesley seminary, Wesley paid a fee for a table with promotional material at WOW 2003. But Wesley did not endorse or give financial support to WOW beyond this fee.
Kolodny, an author and former national coordinator for The National Bisexual Network, was leading a workshop called Blessed Bi Spirit: Bisexual People of Faith. Although focusing mostly on bisexuality, Kolodny, who is Jewish, explained that she could not conclude the session without discussing polyamory.
There can be fidelity in threesomes, Kolodny said. It can be just as sanctified as anything else if all parties are agreed. But she was careful to stress that polyamory is unacceptable if there is deceit.
Kolodny said polyamory does not usually involve simultaneous group sex. But there are exceptions, she admitted, as she recalled a friend of hers who shares a bed with his wife and male partner. When asked by a workshop participant how polyamory was different from recreational sex, Kolodny responded that consensual recreational sex could be a part of polyamory. But polyamory usually involves some level of commitment and intimacy.
Noting she herself had never been polyamorous, Kolodny explained that as a busy attorney she simply did not have time to conduct the complicated negotiations necessary for holy polyamory. But she expressed admiration for persons with the time to organize.
Most of Kolodnys talk was about bisexuality, not polyamory. I disagree with the queer movement [when it claims] that sexual orientation is predetermined, Kolodny said, asserting that the existence of bisexuality challenges all that.
I know a lot of women who chose to become lesbian, Kolodny said. Love between two people is always beautiful, she added, and should be regarded as part of free choice.
Im not sure we can make the case for genetic predetermination, Kolodny stressed, saying sexual preference depends on opportunity, support, and spiritual experiences.
Kolodny lamented that the queer movement insists on the party line of genetic predetermination as part of a political strategy.
The queer movement relies on, We cant help it. Were born this way, Kolodny said. It feels so safe. If you dont say it youre thrown to the lions and youre evil.
She contrasted the insistence on genetic predetermination with the teachings of Judaism and Christianity, which say: God gives us choices.
Free will is essential to our humanity and essential to our being created in the image of God, Kolodny said. She charged that denying free choice in sex preference was perpetuating the hetero-patriarchy, helping the radical right, ignoring bisexuality, and making it easier for hate to continue.
Rather than creating absolute poles of sexual preference, Kolodny said the world includes a wide spectrum of choices. She recalled the hostility of her dyke friends when she abandoned her strict lesbianism for bisexuality. Many homosexuals suspect bisexuals of trying to gain the privileges of the hetero-patriarchy by seeking sexual partners of the opposite gender.
Another workshop leader who addressed a sexual minority sometimes forgotten by the queer movement was the Rev. Erin Swenson, formerly Eric. Swenson is a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) minister and family counselor whose sex change operation made Swenson the first post-operative transsexual minister in a major denomination.
Swenson was married with children. But after suffering for years from a desire to be a woman, Swenson finally divorced and had the operation. I dont recommend that any one become transgender, Swenson said. Its a very painful process.
Some people accuse me of not being a woman, Swenson complained, citing ultra-feminists. Swenson prefers being called simply Erin and a child of God to any label. High heels are very uncomfortable, Swenson playfully admitted.
Transgender people wont come to your church unless they truly know they are safe there, Swenson warned. Even ostensibly gay friendly congregations are sometimes not prepared for transgender people. Get your church to be trans friendly, Swenson urged. One need is for bathrooms not marked male or female.
Swenson described the United Church of Christ as miles ahead of anybody in making itself open to transgender people. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in contrast, declined Swensons offer to volunteer in the creation of church resource materials for transgender church members.
Transgendered people threaten communities because they threaten our assumptions, Swenson concluded. It is threatening but also freeing.
Leading a workshop on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Issues in the Roman Catholic Church, Mary Louise Cervone complained that tolerance rather than justice is the norm in America today. A former president of Dignity USA, Cervone, with her same-sex partner at her side, wondered how many nameless men and women must die before this country moves beyond tolerance to freedom for all people.
Our best hope for change rests not with bishops and the pope but with Catholic people, Cervone insisted. Change wont come form the top down. The Catholic people must demand freedom.
Cervone affirmed her lesbianism as a gift of God. She confessed she has a hard time attending the Catholic Church, because the church is not where we find freedom. Its where we go to hide.
But you cant kick me out, Cervone declared defiantly. Where in religion did we get the idea that some people are more worthy than others? she wondered.
The Rev. Jorge Lockwood, who is Global Praise Coordinator for the United Methodist Churchs Board of Global Ministries, led a workshop called Redeeming Our Bodies, Congregational Song as a Path of Liberation.
As queer people, we have another way of looking at the body, Lockwood said. He complained that churches too often are uncomfortable with the human body and suffer from liturgical constipation. He observed that too often people think the desire of a 25 year old gay man for another 25 year old man is a beautiful thing, but the desire of a 65 year old for a 25 year is dirty.
We have all learned to challenge Romans, said the Rev. Mari Castellanos, referring to St. Pauls letter that, among other Scriptures, is critical of homosexual behavior. Castellanos leads the Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ. We must do likewise with all texts that go against our brothers and sisters that are being claimed as the unerring Word of God.
But Castellanos also urged the WOW 2003 audience to embrace justice issues beyond their own. When we leave this earth, queer bishops wont matter as much as whether the hungry are fed, she insisted, to applause.
This president and this Congress have systematically torn down the social net that sustained all of us, Castellanos mourned. We must lobby our government on behalf of the poor of the world. Our experience of exile has taught us compassion.
Castellanos promised that we will take on scary proposals such as the Marriage Protection Act. We will turn the tide that threatens to obliterate the social contract. Echoing the name of a radical homosexual group, she insisted: We must continue to act-up!
Rev. Yvette Flunder, a United Church of Christ pastor from San Francisco, celebrated a string of political victories for pro-homosexuality advocates, including the election of an Episcopal Church homosexual bishop, the arrival of legalized same-sex unions in Canada, and the U.S. Supreme Courts ruling against anti-sodomy laws.
The Holy Ghost can break loose in an atmosphere of injustice and give us more justice in three weeks than many years! Flunder enthused. These wouldnt have been miracles under Bill Clinton! she exclaimed, citing the irony of pro-homosexuality strides under a conservative government.
The Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the predominantly homosexual Metropolitan Community Churches, asked all the heterosexuals at WOW 2003 to stand and receive applause. Thank you!!... I know what people do to you, he told them, saying they pay a price for solidarity with homosexuals.
Perry said he just got married to his male partner of 18 years, who has had AIDS for several years. He likened the plight of homosexuals who cannot legally marry to slaves who also had no legal right to marriage.
I will not give up until every one of us can marry, Perry insisted, comparing Heaven to attending the WOW 2003 conference.
A brief skit produced for the WOW 2003 audience showed three troubled disciples in a storm-tossed boat. One, a young woman, declares: I am bisexual and cant find acceptance in the gay community. A man says, I am a 19 year old gay. Or am I queer? And Im Presbyterian. But Im not sure what that means! A third person complains she is age 22 but cannot find a voice in the gay community.
Then a figure representing Jesus appears, played by a young woman wrapped in the rainbow flag, which is the emblem of the homosexual movement. Take heart, it is I, she says. Do not be afraid.
Az och und vay! (That's Yiddish for "in a pig's eye")
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Ah, yes, but the word is not the thing.