When Science Meets Religion

Session Four: Sexuality

Let me start off by saying making clear that this session IS NOT a debate on the validity or sanctity of sexual or gender identities. This session is an opportunity to unlearn the harmful teachings and theologies of both science and religion against the LGBTQIA community, and learn new ways of embracing God's created diversity in our world. I will not give a platform for ignorance and hate in this forum. If you have questions, please ask, but do so from a desire to learn, not a position of rejecting the God-given queer identities of the LGBTQIA community. 


Loving and Welcoming Lord...your creative process is ever-unfolding, revealing the magnificent diversity of your creation. Grant us open hearts and mind in our learning today, that we may be led to lovingly embrace all that you have made, all whom you have made. Amen

‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
— Matthew 22:37-39

 

 

Readings



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In preparing this post, I read an interesting article from Scientific America that claim homosexuality is a choice. Not written against the LGBTQIA community, it seeks to defend the rights of the queer community by making the claim that “there is an element of homophobia in that argument– the implication that gay people would become straight, if only they could.” It is definitely a claim worth wrestling with. However, an important clarification that must be made is that the article claims that homosexual behavior is a choice. Just like a married person who does not engage in their attraction for a person other than their spouse, I believe that members of the LGBTQIA community have the ability to not act on their attractions. So in that sense, yes, homosexual behavior is a choice. However, the feelings I have, the love that arises in me for another person is not a choice. To deny one’s expression of love can be harmful. I am sure science can explain the chemical reaction that takes place in the brain to give someone the “feeling of love,” but we all know that in its expression of love there is something unexplainable. Why does my brain release that chemical for this person and not that person? How does attraction move beyond the physical into the emotional and spiritual? These are the questions that lead me to believe that science and faith need to be in dialogue with each other. Science has a lot of answers...but love is a difficult experience to test, validate, or prove.

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So how do we look at love from a faith perspective? Well, my sexual/gender identity is not something I "do," it is more than homosexual behavior. It is something that I am, an undeniable aspect of my being. It is part of my created identity, a part of who I am as a child of God. In rejecting that identity, the Church has traditionally sought to reject me and others like me. This is not a debate, there are not two valid sides. As when the Church used scripture to oppress the created identity of people of color, as the faith communities still use scripture to oppress the identity of women, the Church wrongly tries to oppress the created identity of the LGBTQIA community. The anti-LGBTQIA theology is poor theology that has led to individuals killing themselves out of shame, fear, and despair. It has not led to a revealing of God's love, but seeks to limit that love to only a heterosexual expression. That is not a Gospel theology. Conditional welcome and limited love are not of God, they are part of the broken Church. There are people who actively speak against the LGBTQIA community, and then there are those who claim love but reject the identity with which we were created. All people are sinful, yes. But the same way you are not sinful because you are a person is not sinful because they are black or a woman, I am not sinful because I am gay. If you do not embrace the identities of LGBTQIA individuals, then you are not acknowledging their entire identity as a beloved child of God. The Church needs to change, it needs faithful members to speak truth to their oppressive ways, and it needs to reconcile its abusive, imperial theology with those with whom it has rejected. The kingdom of God is radically inclusive, without limitations or conditions. The Church needs to embrace this type of welcome, or like the Pharisees, face harsh rebuke when confronted by the Gospel of Christ.


Additional Readings

Guiding Questions

  • What are your initial feelings about sexual and gender identity? What are these feelings rooted in: your upbringing, your church's beliefs, your own experience?
  • How does science inform your understanding of the LGBTQIA community? How does religion inform your understanding? Can dialogue between science and religion help deepen your understanding?
  • More than any other, the topic of homosexuality has led to a divide in families, in churches, in politics, and in many parts of our society. What do you think can be done to reconcile this divide?

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