INTEGRITY FORUM

A JOURNAL FOR GAY EPISCOPALIANS AND THEIR FRIENDS

c Integrity, Inc. 1978   ISSN: 0095-2184

Vol. 4  No.  2    December 1977 - January 1978

 

INTEGRITY FORUM:  A JOURNAL FOR GAY EPISCOPALIANS AND THEIR FRIENDS is the official newsletter of Integrity, Inc., a non-profit religious, charitable, educational and literary organization of gay Episcopalians and their friends.  Integrity maintains a national office at 3601 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104, phone 215/386-5430, if no answer 215/629-1309.  Membership and subscription correspondence should be sent to Integrity Treasurer, Raymond Conti, Integrity, P.O. Box 3681, Central Station, Hartford, CT 06103.  Editorial correspondence should be sent to Integrity Forum Editor, William Doubleday, c/o Episcopal Divinity School, 99 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, phone 617/723-4336. 

 

Signed articles represent the views of the contributors.  The editor reserves the right to revise all sexist language. 

 

Copyright 1978 by Integrity, Inc.  10 issues per year.  Memberships are $10 per year; subscriptions without memberships  are $12 per year.  Add $3 if you would like your copy of Integrity Forum mailed in a plain envelope; Canadians remit in U.S. funds. 

 

President................................ The Rev. Ron Wesner

Vice President................................. John Lawrence

Secretary...................................... Donn Mitchell

Treasurer...................................... Raymond Conti

Editor..................................... William Doubleday

Publisher..................................... David Williams

Publisher's Assistants........... Jerry Vogt, William Landram

 

EDS COMMITTEE BLASTS HOUSE OF BISHOPS/PRESIDING BISHOP

 

The following is a STATEMENT adopted by the Mission and Social Action Committee of the Episcopal Divinity School at its meeting of October 13,1977.

 

We are dismayed by the failure of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church to address in any just or responsible way is­sues that affect all people within and without the church.  We note the following acts of commission and omission by the House of Bishops at its most recent meeting in Florida:

 

1. The House of Bishops granted itself the "right" to discriminate against women priests, thereby attempting to undercut the mandate of the 1976 General Convention.

 

2. The House of Bishops mandated that bishops must dis­criminate against homosexuals seeking ordination, thereby undercutting the processes of study implemented by the 1976 General Convention.

 

3. The House of Bishops failed to make major commitment to the plight besetting the cities of this nation.

 

4. The House of Bishops failed to speak out against the incarceration of this church's lay ministers for their refusal, in conscience, to testify before a Grand Jury; moreover, the House of Bishops failed to call to account the church's national leaders for their insensitivity to issues raised by the movements for political independence and self-determination in Puerto Rico and elsewhere.

 

5. The House of Bishops condoned, indeed affirmed, the unten­able and irresponsible behavior of its own Presiding Officer in his desire to both lead the church and maintain outright opposition to the church's canonical position on the ordination of women.

 

• We do not believe that Christians may grant one another a "right" to exercise conscience for the purpose of discrimination against anyone.  We decry, and do not accept this "right" given by bish­ops to one another to discriminate against women priests of the church.

 

• We deplore the hypocritical and fear-ridden reaction of the bishops to the issue of sexual identity.  We encourage individual bishops to exercise their consciences, in this instance, to see that equality and dignity are granted to homosexuals seeking ordination and to homosexuals already ordained, whether their homosexuality is "active" or "latent," avowed or unspoken.

 

•We believe that the urban crisis must be given top priority in the distribution of the church's financial and other resources.  We urge either that Venture in Mission be carried out toward this end, or that individual persons, parishes, institutions, and dioceses withhold resources from VIM and channel them instead into the cities.

 

• We are deeply concerned about the failure of the ecclesiastical authorities of this church to support our lay ministers who have been jailed, and about the ecclesiastical leadership's failure to express interest in, let alone advocate, self-determination or political independence for those whom the church is commis­sioned by Christ to serve.

 

• Finally and most specifically, we note that it is the canonical responsibility (Title 1, Canon 2, Sec. 4.1.a) of the Presiding Bishop, John M. Allin, in light of his own conscientious inability to "give leadership in initiating and developing the policy of the church," to resign.  We urge him to do so.

 

BISHOP MYERS URGES CHURCH TO AFFIRM MISSION TO HOMOSEXUALS

 

The following is the statement on homosexuality presented by the Rt. Rev. Kilmer Myers, Bishop of California, as the minority report of the Theological Committee at the House of Bishop's meeting in Port St. Lucie, FL, in Fall 1977.

 

The 1976 General Convention adopted the following resolution: "... it is the sense of this General Convention that homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern of the Church."

 

While this resolution rules out all cruel attacks on homosexual men and women, it makes no judgement concerning the homo­sexual expression of sexuality.  Rather, the Church at large was requested to study and deepen its understanding of human sexuality including homosexuality in preparation for the Denver Convention of 1979.

 

Our Lord's promise is to guide His Church always.  We can de­pend on that.  As we search for God's will we must make difficult decisions.  Most of these relate to the question:  "What behavior can be judged appropriate for homosexual persons?"  Specifi­cally, can we accept open and honest homosexual relationships as morally good?  Can we accept the ordination of individuals who openly acknowledge their homosexual identity: or, to put it another way, is homosexuality sinful?

 

Sometimes it certainly is.  But is it sinful in and of itself? And, if so, at what point?  When two members of the same sex hold hands?  Embrace?  Kiss?  or is genital activity the sole criterion?  Certainly homosexual behavior is sometimes sinful.  But, some­times heterosexual behavior also is sinful.  Gays in very large numbers we have with us.  We always have.  Shall we refuse to baptize them?  Refuse them the Holy Communion?  Shall we, instead, burn them?  (Note the derivation of the word 'faggot'!  If we say 'no' to Baptism and Eucharist and if we say 'yes' to Levitical penalty, we shall not be talking much about Jesus of Nazareth ‑‑ at least as through the years many have come to understand His life, His message, His posture, His demeanor, and His end.

 

Sexual promiscuity cannot be condoned in any form.  It is destructive and dehumanizing.  It should be our conviction that persons, male or female, who earnestly desire to give loving expression to their innate humanity ‑‑ even if they relate sexually to another of the same sex ‑‑ are persons acceptable to the God who sold all He had in order to buy the world (us).

 

The foundational sacrament of the Christian Church is Baptism.  If, for example, a person comes to a clergy person desiring Holy Baptism stating that he/she is a homosexual living with a homosexual partner and planning to continue to do so, what should be the response of that clergy person?  It is our conviction that any condition or circumstance which ipso facto would bar any person from ordination would also make that person ineligible to receive the primary sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist.  All the other sacraments flow from these.  Is it our intent then to 'withdraw' Baptism from such persons?  To excommunicate them?  If we cannot ordain them, then they should not seek Baptism.  Nor indeed, can we admit them to the Table of the Lord.  And, if human sexuality ‑‑ admittedly a gray area in this modern day ‑‑ be­comes a criterion for Baptism and admittance to the Eucharist, we in truth are in grave trouble.  Once again we are required to raise the question of Law and Grace.  If a person can be baptized and admitted to the Holy Communion, he or she (the personal call to ministry by the Holy Spirit and the consent of the Church being present) can be ordained to the ministry of the Catholic Church.  We see no alternative.  Indeed, we welcome this new insight as yet another bond and Christian step toward the liberation of all God's people for humanness at its highest level.

 

Jesus was a sexual person.  He could not have been a human being were He not.  It is clear from the Gospel accounts that He had an honest, open relationship with both men and women.  Given the social conditioning of His day and time, this was most unusual, especially with regard to women, and probably was a factor leading to the event of His death.  Our assumption about His sexual life is that He was a celibate throughout His short time among us.  We do know, however, that the highest objective of His life and ministry was fidelity to 'the other,' the neighbor.  His teachings (as in the Sermon on the Mount and in the Parables) all point to this.  Everything was for 'the other.'  Nothing was to be held back ‑‑ even life itself.  The wholeness of His love, united as it was with the love of His Father, was directed toward others ‑‑ even those whom the dogs despised, the outcast, the 'god­forsaken,' those outside the 'hedge of Israel.'  Confronted, then, with this Parable of God, this Jesus of Nazareth, we find our­selves in a totally new relationship with our fellow human beings.  If, for example, one among us were to be homosexual and a loving, open, accepting person, we would say he would be far nearer to this Jesus, now the Risen Jesus Christ, than any heterosexual person who hates, despises, and uses others.  It is hu­manness that matters.  To be a Christian is to be radically human.  The model for humanness is Jesus.

 

To stand up for the radically human, i.e., Christian, always is costly.  It can result in loss of position, standing, the respect of many ‑‑ even those in one's own family.  And yet there is a deep yearn­ing in millions of human hearts that the Church of Christ return to its foundational beginnings.  Those beginnings are rooted in the life, the teaching, the demeanor, the posture, the end of the Jew, the man from Nazareth.  This beloved Founder did not declare Himself on every human issue.  But we do know what His direc­tions were.  They were to show us that God's cause is man's cause.  And God's cause is our full humanization.  It is with that revolutionary matter ‑‑ that revolution about God and about hu­manity ‑‑ that we are called to struggle.  We may make terrible mistakes, as His children often have in the past and in this generation.  Yet the greatest mistake we could possibly make would be not to struggle.  Does Jesus go too far?  Does He ask too much?  Is this unqualified, unconditional love of 'the other' (the Prodigal Son) insupportable in ordinary, rational life?  Of course, it is!  And so we must be dangerously different ‑‑ if we are to be dis­ciples of Jesus Christ, the Jew, the One who was chosen to arise from death, and is exalted now at the right hand of God.

 

Having said all this, it seems appropriate to suggest specific directions and actions for the Church.

 

We fully recognize that the position we take here with respect to homosexual persons, whether male or female, does not reflect the views generally held in the Church.  While there is, to be sure, a growing disposition to accept these persons in a pastoral man­ner as Children of God, they nevertheless often are looked upon as deviants (i.e., from the sexual norm of the majority of humans) or even as perverted, as unnatural.  Clearly it is not the homosexuality of persons which disturbs most of us as pastors in the Church; it is the homosexual act, the genital expression of ho­mosexual love.  These acts have been regarded as outside the 'natural order.'  Some modern theologians, e.g., Karl Barth, have maintained this point of view.  (Given this perspective, one must responsibly ask whether, indeed, celibacy is in the 'natural order.')  Other theologians, Baum and Pittenger for example, have main­tained that the traditional natural-theology-view of human nature is too static and fixed.  They argue for a more open, develop­mental, process-view of human nature.  For them, it is the open­ing up of humanness, after the model of Jesus, the acceptance of 'the other,' the responsibility and sensitivity toward 'the other' which matters ‑‑ not Aristotelian or Thomistic theory of the or­ders of creation.  It is human that He made us.  That, we think, is the biblical prius.

 

Why some persons are sexually oriented toward the same sex appears to be a mystery.  But such persons exist; they were born, just as left-handed persons were born.  Our options ‑‑ in the face of this ‑‑ are:  1) to reject them; 2) to accept them as per­sons, but not accept their homosexual life-style; and 3) to ac­cept their life-style (including their responsible genital expres­sion of it) without making any claims about its equality with heterosexual life-styles yet recognizing that a minority of human beings are oriented in this direction.

 

If we now or in the future accept the third option, attitudes toward sexual life-styles in our congregations will need to change.  The public kiss of greeting, holding hands; dancing with the appro­priate partner at the parish dance by homosexual persons, must come to be accepted by the dominant heterosexual group.  Other­wise, a merely theoretical acceptance of this life-style would be utterly hypocritical.

 

We do not see this happening in the Church at large nor in our own Diocese in the near future, save perhaps in a few parishes.  But we believe from the depths of our souls that we must begin now to enable it to happen where it may.  Sooner or later it must take place if we take seriously the demand of Jesus Christ that we become radically human.

 

If we now or in the future accept the third option we need to be specific about homosexual men or women who are ministers in the Church.  They must be persons of good character; they never should flaunt their sexuality; should they have a companion they should not dissemble the fact; their ethical standards in such a union should be no different from those of their heterosexual brothers and sisters in Christ with whom all are united in Baptism.  Once again, the fullest possible realization of humanness, pat­terned after the humanity of Jesus, is the goal ‑‑ together with the realization that in a fallen world this plenitude is quite impossible and that, therefore, we all must throw ourselves upon that grace of God revealed by and embodied in the historic person­hood of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

Acceptance of the third option will move us into unknown ethical and social territory.  Yet, did we know what the levelling of relations between whites and black former slaves would do to white society?  I know and you know that it was and is and will be in­creasingly liberating and humanizing ‑‑ for both blacks and whites.

 

As we continue to wrestle with the meaning of the historical ministry and risen presence of the Christ who in Hans Kung's phrase equated God's cause with man's cause we remember that the people about whom we speak are our people.  They are our bro­thers and sisters, our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives, our nieces and nephews.  They are baptized.  They are the friend for whom we are to lay down our life.  They are the gentiles with whom Peter learned to eat.  Together we are the Body of Christ.

 

The spirit of reconciliation is magnanimous.  Yet, the spirit of re­conciliation to homosexuals does not exist.  The Church's ministry to those who dissent with the decisions of the Church concern­ing the ordination of women has been affirmed by the Bishops.  Let us now affirm the Church's mission to be reconciled to this unknown body of men and women who are homosexual.

 

DIRTY LINEN AND CLOSET FRESHENERS

 

Jim Wickliff, who started INTEGRITY/Chicago and was first national president of INTEGRITY, is now busy helping organize a Chicago chapter of the Gay Academic Union. ··· Chuck Whit­man, also helping with GAU, is one of the founders of Lavender University/Chicago, which has just issued its first catalogue with over 30 courses offered.  Information from 312/281-0202. ··· We regret the demise of New Life, the magazine which chroni­cled renewal movements in the Episcopal Church and which has always been fair and open to the Gay Christian movement.  Best wishes to Phil Deemer and Arthur Goldsmith, editors. ··· A new Libertarian magazine, Inquiry took on an anti-gay theory in its premiere issue (November 21, 1977), labelling it "Podhoretz's Kulturkampf." Norman Podhoretz, editor of Commentary, wrote a polemic for the October issue of Harper's magazine blaming homosexuality, and especially homosexual writers for the "cul­ture of appeasement" which weakened Britain between the wars and now threatens American culture.  Inquiry points out that the right-wing National Review took up the theme, praising Podhoretz and indicting a society "that appears to believe that the chief threat to American democracy comes from the Anita Bryants rather than the Brezhnevs of the world."  Inquiry editorializes: " ... it is the strategy of the Conservative Caucus and its allies: Exploit age-old fantasies and fears of homosexuals in order to push the conservative agenda ... This time we doubt Podhoretz and his friends will make it."  ··· Columnist Joan Beck in her end-of-year column dissented from Good Housekeeping's read­ership, nominating Anita Bryant for her Ty-D-Bol Cup of the Year.  ··· Integrity/Chicago wrote to Bishop William C. R. Sheridan of Northern Indiana to protest an anti-gay, anti-women's ordination, anti-Bishop Pike homily which he preached at a festal evensong in Chicago's cathedral in honor of Bishop James W. Montgomery's 15th anniversary of consecration.  They called it "inappropriate and an abuse of hospitality."  ··· Two Dutch rabbis, David L. Lilenthal and A. Soetendorp and Dorothee Solle, a German theologian, were the only religious leaders who signed the full-page ad in January 9 Time magazine expressing alarm at the many Americans who lack the courage to stand up to bigotry against homosexuals:  "President Carter's human rights policy can gain credibility only if the rights of homosexuals in the United States of America are bound inseparably to human rights for all people," it stated.  Some well-known signers were Simone de Beauvoir, Sir John Gielgud, Gunter Grass, Alberto Moravia and Jean-Paul Sartre.  ··· Episcopal Radio/TV center in Atlanta has released cassette & printed versions of Bishop Bennet J. Sims's "Sex and Homosexuality: a Pastoral Statement."  The catalogue says the statement "was submitted to the theology committee of the House of Bishops ... and later distributed by request to all Bishops of the Episcopal Church.  The position presented by Bishop Sims has become essentially the resolution adopted by the House of Bishops."  Dr. Louie Crew and Dr. Thomas J. Jackson of Integrity have issued a response, "Feed My Sheep," which is not avail­able from Episcopal Radio/TV center. ··· The Presbytery of Chicago met in December to register its opposition to the ordination of avowed homosexuals, by a vote of 255-78.  The denomination has a task force on homosexuality scheduled to make its report in January.  Dr. Ernest Lewis, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Evanston, IL, is quoted as saying that the national task force favors the ordination of homosexuals by a 14 to 5 margin. ··· David Sindt, founder of the Presbyterian Gay Caucus, issued a letter at Christmas reporting that he was "relieved of the exer­cise of the office" of ordained minister in that church at his own request on November 8th.  He has become a lay member of the Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church in Chicago and is employed as a social worker with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.  He also notes that for three years in a row he has been the chairperson of the Early Iris Show of the Northern Illinois Iris Society!  ··· Andy Berry, California priest and co-con­venor of Integrity/San Francisco, is now full time alcoholism coun­selor at Garden Sullivan Hospital there, and director of its com­munity outreach.  He conducted a sexuality workshop for young adults of the diocese last summer, and has done workshops for the hospital staff on the "healthy homosexual."  He is beginning Ph.D. studies at Berkeley, having just completed his M.A. there in connection with the Berkeley Center for Alcohol studies. ··· Father Donald Monson of Coolidge, Arizona, writes "thanks for your column.  I found it informative, concise, varied, and generally interesting."  Thanks; that's encouraging. ··· Integrity/Chicago sponsored a St. John's Day (Dec. 27) Eucharist at St. James' Cathedral, Chicago, followed by a wassail party.  Eighty-two people came out in the blizzard, and representatives of Dignity, MCC, and the Eastern Orthodox gay group were present.  Jim Rosenthal, chair of the diocesan music commission, stepped in as organist after a no-show by the scheduled musician. ··· The Wittenburg Door, sophisticated humor-evangelical slapstick bi­monthly, carried long interviews with Malcolm Boyd and Anita Bryant in its Oct-Nov issue, coming down heavily on Anita's side in its editorial pages.

 

Publisher's NoteIf you have any "dirty linen"you'd like to have aired, or there are any closets you know of that need to be freshened, please send your information to Rev'd Grant M. Gallup, 1619 W. Warren Blvd., Chicago, IL 60612.

 

CORRECTION

 

Integrity Forum would like to apologize for the omission of one entire text line from the second paragraph of Tom Horner's article "Revisionism and Role Modeling: No One-Way Streets" (Oct. 1977 issue), which distorted the meaning.  The omitted line made the point that a portion of both the bisexual and heterosexual elements of society must stand with the homosexual contingent if significant progress is to be made.

 

Also omitted was the notice that Tom Horner's new book Jonathan Loved David: Homosexuality in Biblical Times will be published by the Westminster Press, Philadelphia, in early Spring, 1978.

 

CHAPTER NOTES

 

The receipt of all Chapter mailings by the Editor of the Forum will greatly facilitate the production of this column on a regular basis. ··· Clint Warner the Convenor of Integrity/New Haven attended the meeting of Integrity/Hartford when the officers of Integrity/National were all in attendance on December 11, 1977. ··· Integrity/New Haven is planning a retreat with the order of St. John the Evangelist in Cambridge, Massachusetts in February. ··· Integrity/Maine under the leadership of Convenor Doug Wright is carrying on an active educational ministry in that Diocese.  The group meets twice a month for supper, discussion and Holy Communion. ··· Officers of Integrity/St. Louis are scheduled to attend a Conference on sexuality sponsored by the Diocesan Task Force on Nurture.  Sister Margaret Farley, Associate Professor of Ethics at the Yale Divinity School will be leading the conference on February 18. ··· Episcopalians and Lutherans are working together on an ecumenical basis in Integrity/Twin Cities.  Meeting places alternate between Minneapolis and St. Paul and worship services alternate between the two traditions. ··· Marcia Ketchum has been elected the new President of Dignity-Integrity/Rochester. ··· Pat Waddell is the new Convenor of Integrity/San Francisco.  Richard Younge will continue as Editor of the chapter's fine monthly newsletter, SFI. ··· Integrity/New York showed the film GAY USA on Jan­uary 17. ··· The January 1978 newsletter of Integrity/New York, along with the 13 Questions pamphlet and a letter from the Convenor, Charles Kast, were sent to every parish in the diocese. ··· Bill Doubleday, the Convenor of Integrity/Boston led an evening of small group discussions about gay ethical issues for Integrity/Hartford on January 8. ··· Integrity/Wash­ington now meets at St. Thomas' Parish, 1722 Church St., N.W., Washington, D.C. ··· Episcopal Integrity/Houston has issued an excellent little pamphlet:  "Thirteen Questions About Episcopal Integrity Houston." ··· Integrity/Chicago raised over $200 before Christmas to purchase food for baskets to be distributed to the needy over the holiday. ···

 

IMPROVING COMMUNICATION

 

With this issue of Integrity Forum, we will be making a renewed effort to insure that every chapter receives at least one copy of Integrity Forum.  Ideally, every member of every chapter should be a national member of Integrity and would then be receiving his or her own copy.

 

In the same vein, we would like to encourage chapters to send copies of their mailings or newsletters to the convenors of other chapters and to Ron Wesner, the National President, and Bill Doubleday, the National Editor.  We have much to learn from and share with one another as we carry out a diversified ministry throughout the land.

 

A MESSAGE FROM RON WESNER, PRESIDENT OF INTEGRITY

 

We should probably start calling ourselves Integrity/International.  In the middle of November, I returned to the States after a two week visit to Germany and France (with two days in Vienna to see the Magic Flute and check out the latest from the Queen of the Night).  It was a good visit with the new Integrity chapter in Frankfurt.  Besides discovering that the needs of Gay people in Germany are very similar to those of us in the United States, I also discovered the very strong need for an alternative to the secular, anti-church Gay movement in Germany.  Many of the German speaking people I talked with expressed great appre­ciation to Integrity for its new presence.  They were at last finding a group which would help them affirm the integrity of their Christian and Gay lives.  I am very grateful to Bishop Swift for inviting me to Europe and to Toby Erdmann, our new convenor of that chap­ter, both of whom went out of their way to make the visit a suc­cess and the chapter in Germany a reality.

 

In the early part of December the National Officers met in Hartford to continue working on the growth, organization, budget and long-range planning of Integrity.  We now number 37 chap­ters and the need for a workable provincial or regional structure was one of our highest priorities at that meeting.  The other issue which we dealt with at great length was budget, finances, and fund-raising.  An effective national or international organization is going to require a far more committed kind of financial support than has been given to Integrity thus far.  We shall be approaching individual members and chapters in a variety of ways in the months ahead in order to get Integrity onto a stronger financial base to support the diverse ministries which we have under­taken.  Integrity still survives because of a few people who are willing to give full time work to this mission ‑‑ with no financial support at all from the organization. What little monies we do have are barely enough to cover expenses. Please give some thought to what you can do to support Integrity in terms of its financial needs.

 

TEMPLAR'S TIDINGS

 

David Williams, publisher of Integrity Forum, the newsletter of national Integrity, was here in New York for a visit in early December.  David left several copies of the Forum for our literature table on Tuesday evenings.  Pick one up free and read it.  It's the best way to keep up on the news of gay Episcopalians on the national level and what the church is up to in connection with gay rights and ordination.  (For local news keep reading Integrity/New York.)  You can receive the Forum with membership in In­tegrity/National ... not a bad gift for you and a friend.

 

                             *****

 

On a particularly depressing day last week, I decided to escape to an afternoon movie.  The results were enlightening and edifying.  The movie was Oh God! starring George Burns and John Denver.  I must admit that I was not expecting much, but was pleasantly surprised.  In a light and humorous way George Burns, playing the part of God, comes out with some of the soundest theology I have heard since coming to New York.  Make it a point to see this movie!  It will restore your faith in God and in yourself.

 

    ‑‑Templar's Tidings, A column in the Newsletter of

                                  Integrity/New York

                             ‑‑Written by Jim Templar

 

A JESUITICAL GUIDE TO GAY SAINTS

 

The Boston Globe carried this story just prior to All Saints Day: "Do homosexuals need a patron saint?"  Yes, says Australian Jesuit theologian Rev. Desmond O'Conner, who recommends St. Aelred of Rieveaulx, a 12th century English abbot who, ac­cording to Fr. O'Conner, had homosexual yearnings that he re­sisted.  However, Dr. James J. Gill, a Jesuit psychiatrist on the staff of the Harvard University Health Services, said: "Homo­sexuals don't need a patron saint who was gay ... they can choose any good person who ever resisted sexual temptation with fortitude."  Dr. Gill also said that both St. Aelred's "sexual orientation and has sanctity are debateable ...."

 

This story triggered a program on "Gay Saints Who Have Touched Our Lives" at Integrity/Boston on All Saints Day.  Among the nominees were Dr. Howard Brown, Mayor Lindsay's Health Commissioner and author of Familiar Faces, Hidden Lives; The Rev. Dr. Theodore Parker Ferris, Rector of Trinity Church, Boston; and Dag Hammarskjold, martyred Secretary-General of the U.N.  Among the living, the Rev. John J. McNeill, a Jesuit and author of The Church and the Homosexual, also stands out a­mong those who might truly serve as spiritual guides and models for gay people today.

 

FORUM:

Observation from some of our readers, and others.

 

September 15, 1977

 

To: The Members of the House of Bishops

From: Rt. Rev. Daniel Corrigan

 

Dear Friends,

 

It is clear that I shall not be able to attend the meeting of the House.  I regret this, for yours is an association that I value and often enjoy.  Were I there I should wish to participate in the dis­cussion relating to Paul Moore having ordained a declared Lesbian.  This note to you is in place of that.

 

It has been my privilege to live a long and unprotected life in a poly-everything society composed of boys and girls, men and women whose sexuality found expression in various patterns of behavior. This has probably been the experience of most of you.  It is this experience I would like to recall and to suggest that we allow this personal data to have adequate influence in shaping our minds and responses.  As it relates to our duty, I assume that most of us are familiar with the literature that has been produced on the subject of homosexuality.  We should be empirically in­formed.  I will not appeal to this except as it serves to articulate my own experience and possibly yours.

 

As a child and adolescent most of my peer-group were involved in some kind of sexual experimentation.  This was all very phy­sical with little emotional involvement.  I have little evidence that this influenced our future orientation.  Most of the boys I knew moved easily into heterosexual and familial relationships.  Some were used by predatory and older homosexual men, but most of them emerged from these relationships quickly and for the first time were aware that this was not their "dish of tea."  There is little evidence it is "contagious."  There is evidence that some experiences, including marriage, prompt awareness of the fact.  I have known several men and women who became aware that they were predominantly homosexual under the demand bids of marriage.

 

With our entry into WWI, I went into the U.S. Navy.  This was a segregated male society.  Even in boot camp it was clear that sexually we were a "mixed bag."  But here for the first time I was often able to distinguish between those who evidenced genuine attraction to men, having real affection for them, and those who were involved because there was no one else around (as in prison).  After boot camp I was sent from the receiving ship to the U.S. submarine service.  Although I have been a pacifist from 1919 until now (Bp. Paul Jones meant a great deal to me), it would be ungrateful of me not to acknowledge that within the confines of various submersibles it was my privilege to live with some of the most remarkable, brave, self-sacrificing and dignified men, including Gay men, I have ever known.  (I am updating the descriptions of past experience by using the term "Gay" as being the term which homosexual people, many of them, have adopted in recent years to describe themselves.)  In our close quarters we could scarcely have lived with any predators whom­soever.  Several Officers and Enlisted Men, most essential to our safety and effective operation, could only be classified as ho­mosexual.  I will always remember with some poignancy the bewilderment of a friend as it dawned on him that he was more attracted to men than to women ‑‑ how much more, who knows? ‑‑ and recall the remarkable ministry that went out to him from all hands and the ship's cook, from all the mixed bag.  It was a mixed bag that had engendered enough trust to enable him to turn to us with his frightening quandary.  He was a devout Roman Catholic and ended his life with dignity and integrity as a monastic:  a solution, but scarcely the only one.

 

I do not wish to end this episode without paying tribute to three Navy men, two married with families and one a homosexual, (about the toughest looking customer in the flotilla, not at all the image of the "Queen").  They nurtured me through those fright­ening days.  Among other assurances about "battle, murder, and sudden death," they reinforced what "my mama and poppa done told me," you don't enter into relationships involving sex just for kicks; it has to be real ‑‑ or words to that effect.  The old "fairy" (to use the world's cruel words) had lived for years with a guy who was a civilian worker in the Charleston Navy Yard.  I am sure that they did not get much help from their neighbors to maintain their good home on Bunker Hill.  A pacifist salutes the whole experience as being redemptive.

 

In seminary we were a mixed bag, too!  Just less trusting.  Many of us were WWI vets and rode more easily with the facts.  I give high marks to the Old and New Testament professors for communicating insights into the ancient human experience which are still helpful.  Old Gavin:  "If you think society is a mixed bag, you must discover that it is so because each human being is by creation a mixed bag, and that "male" and "female" created He them is a superficial and external description of us."  Or, "You guys seem to think that sodomites were a peculiar kind of sinner, but they were citizens of a town that was very suspicious of strang­ers and discouraged any foreign visitors, even from heaven, by encouraging some of the tough, very heterosexual males to abuse them sexually.  In my experience this is no ancient ploy!"

 

We learned, too that "Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation."  (Thirty-Nine Articles, #6.)  And that the Lam­beth and Chicago Quadrilateral proposals affirmed this position.  It was also made clear that at every step in Holy Orders we vow that this is so and that we will teach nothing as necessary to salvation but that which we may be persuaded may be conclud­ed from and proved by the same.  We also learned that not every­thing therein need or indeed could be taught as being necessary to eternal salvation.  We did learn that Biblical fundamentalism was not an Anglican concept.  We were taught that the Bible emerged from and was guaranteed by the People of God.  Much of the literature addressed to us today, in support of everything, bluntly premises a Biblical position that might seem strange to anyone nurtured in the Anglican tradition.

 

Most of the students, who embodied the full range of human sexuality, were ordained priests.  Most of them served God and man acceptably in their day and generation.  Those unable to deal responsibly with their sexual orientation or ambivalence had to make other vocational arrangements.  We would not have crippled and lost so many had not the tacit element of covert­ness been so pervasive and oppressive.  In my opinion, people of every orientation would have been more free to develop their potential and enabled to offer a more loving and trustworthy ser­vice had there been no need to hide or overlook.  I mourn our loss when I recall the remarkable clergymen whose gifts for the People of God were less than fully delivered because of the crip­pling fear that the condition implicit in most of their relationships should ever become explicit.  In retrospect, I would wish to say bluntly that I do not think that Christian responsibility necessar­ily demands celibacy from the homosexual and not from the he­terosexual as well.  My memory of real people gives me a dif­ferent message.

 

I have never served a congregation which had not homosexuals and heterosexuals of both sexes as members.  Most were re­sponsible members of the Church and society.  Stability was more difficult for the homosexual men and women.  There were not many social support systems for the homosexual person, though I was often encouraged and surprised by evidence of mutual awareness ... mostly to condescendingly tolerant to be truly caring.  Thieliche and Bill Muehl would think this to be "the very best" we could come up with, since "we are dealing with per­verts."  It was my experience that percentage-wise the number of men and women of both sexual orientations who were threats to the peace and integrity of many was about even.  There were obviously more heterosexual predators; but the homosexuals, because of their insecure position and the destructive sanctions which were invoked upon them were more visible in times of crisis.

 

It was at this time in my experience that Lesbians began to figure.  They had been as remote to me as Sappho.  But from 1925 until now Lesbian couples have been continuous elements of my life in the Church and society as I have known it.  The Church and community enterprises I have served could ill afford their absence, and some of the finest service has been intelligently, faith­fully and enthusiastically offered by them ... and welcomed, not very sub-rosa!  I guess homosexual women, being "invisible" as are so many Gay persons, do not pose such a threat:  "poor dears never got married and need companionship."

 

In one parish a male couple came regularly to the sacraments, both penance and the Eucharist.  They wore wedding rings.  It was my privilege to be entertained in their home many times.  They were responsible for and to each other.  The sister of one was widowed with two children.  When she died, they raised the boy and girl very well.  Both children were predominantly heterosexual.  As far as I know they are still maintaining workable fam­ilies.  Years later, in my travelling days, one of these men turned up.  He had seen in the paper that I was to preach in his parish in a city to which they had retired.  His life-long companion was terminally ill and would like to see me. I was with them three days.  The point is, I have never seen more tender loving care given by one lover to another in extremis.  And we could ensure such Gospel living with courageous action.

 

Shortly after my consecration to the Episcopate, I attended two conferences dedicated to a consideration of our ministry to the clergy, one organized by the Roman Catholics at St. John's University, Collegeville, Minn., and the other a meeting of our House to which the program committee had brought some very informed, practiced and compassionate resource people.  There were the usual major addresses (of high quality) and then the small group sessions in which we were to wrestle with the data (theirs and ours).  The "c"'s got together, and I remember being flanked by Carpenter of Alabama and Campbell, OHC.  The resource people kept visiting the groups to help us keep our eyes on the ball.  As I remember both conferences, the burden of the mes­sage was, "(1) Most people have no meaningful choice over their sexual orientation; Whatever the causation, genetic or psy­chogenic or societal accident, the orientation is a given; (2) We are not dealing in the area of morality, except insofar as every­one is responsible for the use they make of their given equip­ment; and (3) Therapeutic procedures to alter the orientation are not very successful (so don't devil yourselves trying to raise money for this).  We have succeeded in turning patients away from their orientation, but we have not succeeded in "turning them on" again to anyone whomsoever."  Many of us welcomed this as a liberating message.  It expressed reality as we had ex­perienced it.

 

About this time Towards a Quaker View of Sex appeared.  The introduction of its section on homosexuality seemed then and now to me a sane statement with which I can live:

 

"The word homosexuality does not denote a course of con­duct but a state of affairs, the state of loving your own and not the opposite sex.  One should no more deplore homosexuality than lefthandedness.  (One can condemn or prohibit acts, of course; that is another matter.  But one cannot condemn or prohibit homosexuality as such.)

 

"Secondly, the label 'homosexuality' is misleading.  People are not either homosexual or heterosexual.  Most people are predominantly one or the other.  Most, in fact, are predominantly heterosexual; many are predominantly homosexual.  Many are attracted to both sexes fairly equally and may be pushed one way or the other by circumstances, convenience, and social pressure. Before we assume that homosexuality is bad and heterosexuality is good, we should recognize that homosexu­als are no more necessarily promiscuous than heterosexuals are chaste.  They may be similar people (or even, it will be re­alized, the same person) and have the same moral values.  But of course, where a heterosexual finds blessing in marriage, a homosexual cannot; and many of the pressures designed to hold lovers of the opposite sex together have the effect of tear­ing lovers of the same sex apart. It is hardly surprising that most homosexual affairs (at least among men) are less dur­able than heterosexual affairs."

 

It is notable how dependent our heterosexual family integrity was on social arrangements and supports, many of which no longer exist.

 

I have said that homosexual male priests have and do make extraordinary gifts to the life of the Church.  In writing this note to you I have gone over in my mind the brilliant, stable and de­voted clergymen who were Gay that I have known.  I rejoice in their lives.  Many were truly celibate, some had made other arrangements.  I'm grateful our procedures did not prevent their ordinations.  In more recent years we have had to face the psychological reports which at least warned on paper of a high prob­ability that this condition existed in the candidate.  He was usually ordained, and we would be the poorer without him.

 

Sometimes I try to picture our present ship of salvation if its mem­bers had the qualities of acceptance, mutual forbearance, respect for others and the desire truly to protect and enhance the lives of each other that animated my first 27 shipmates.

 

In 1973 the Executive Council of the United Church of Christ passed an advisory resolution for the associations (dioceses).  It would be hard for us to live by (hard for them, too), but something like it would be worth trying.  "It recommends to the associ­ations that in the instance of considering a stated homosexual's candidacy for ordination, the issue should not be his or her ho­mosexuality as such, but rather the candidate's total view of hu­man sexuality and his/her understanding of its use."

 

                        Faithfully.

                             + Daniel Corrigan

                        The Rt. Rev. Daniel Corrigan

 

SUPPORT CIVIL RIGHTS!

 

Periodically the work of the National Gay Task Force has been mentioned and endorsed in the pages of Integrity Forum.  There is now a second organization carrying on important work on the gay civil rights issue at the national level.  Gay Rights National Lobby.  Annual membership is fifteen dollars.  The address of Gay Rights National Lobby is:  Suite 210, 110 Maryland Avenue, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002.  Why not send in a membership today.

 

INDEX NEARS COMPLETION

 

San Antonio, TX.  Work is nearing completion on the index to the first three volumes of Integrity Forum.  The index, which is being compiled by David White, Convenor of Integrity/San Antonio, can be expected by the summer of 1978.  White, a librarian for the San Antonio Public Library, is also taking over the classification and storage of Integrity's archives, as well as the archives of Forward Foundation, a San Antonio social service organiza­tion with special emphasis on the needs of the gay community.

 

A BRIEF HISTORY OF INTEGRITY

 

From its beginning as a newsletter first published in November 1974, Integrity has been a ministry of gay Christians and their friends reaching out to one another, to the gay community, and to the Church.  As the founding editor, Dr. Louie Crew of Fort Valley, Georgia, put it in the lead editorial:

 

"The Christian Gospel is for all persons....

 

"Integrity derives from integer, Latin for 'entire.'  All Christian whole­ness demands affirmation of God-ordained sexuality; and gays and straights alike are charged with the responsibility of using their sexuality in healthy human sharing rather than perversely trying to change or exchange the Gift of God."

 

That first issue of Integrity also published encouraging initial re­actions to the Gay Episcopal Forum from Presiding Bishop John M. Allin; Bishop David Richards of the Episcopal Church's Office of Pastoral Development; the Rev. Troy Perry, the founder of the Metropolitan Community Church; and other concerned clergy and laity.

 

Within a month, the first chapter of Integrity had been convened by Jim Wickliff in Chicago, and after only ten months that chapter hosted the first national convention at the Cathedral Church of St. James.  The Rt. Rev. Quintin E. Primo, Suffragan Bishop of Chicago was the chief celebrant at the main Mass and the Rev. Dr. Norman Pittenger, Cambridge theologian, long-time faculty member at General Theological Seminary, and author of almost countless books on theology and on sexuality, was the principal speaker.  The Editor of The Living Church, the Rev. Dr. Carroll Simcox, headlined his report of that occasion:  "WE WELCOME A 'COMING OUT."  He noted further:

 

"These 'Gay Episcopalians' who have 'come out' in this way have taken a step that needed to be taken before that togetherness could even begin, and for many of them it has been a personally dangerous or difficult or costly step.  They should be welcomed in love by all other members of Christ."

 

Dr. Pittenger and Dr. Crew won the first annual Integrity award "for outstanding contributions to Christian understanding of human sexuality."  In Celebration, a 92-page record of the entire first Integrity convention, edited by Jim Wickliff, is still available from the Integrity office (address below) for $3.

 

Immediately after the convention in Chicago, new chapters of Integrity sprang up and began to flourish all over the United States.  Co-President Jim Wickliff and Editor Louie Crew called the first meetings of chapters in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York City on their way to meet in September 1975 with the Presiding Bishop.  Shortly thereafter, the House of Bishops, meeting in Maine, charged the Joint Commission on the Church and Human Affairs, chaired by Bishop Murray of the Central Gulf Coast, to study the gay issue and make recommendations to the General Convention in Minneapolis.  In January 1976, Canon Clinton Jones of the Hartford Cathedral and the Rev. Robert Herrick, now on the staff of the National Gay Task Force, joined Crew and Wickliff as Integrity witnesses before that Commission and encouraged the drafting of supportive resolutions to be submitted to General Convention.

 

Meanwhile, in December 1975, with no fanfare, Ellen Marie Barrett, a woman who had acknowledged her lesbian orientation, was duly ordained deacon by the Rt. Rev. Paul Moore, Jr., Bish­op of New York.  Ms. Barrett had served with Wickliff as one of the first co-presidents of Integrity until she was asked by Bishop Moore to resign in preparation for her ordination.

 

In March 1976, Jim Wickliff appointed the co-convenor of Integrity/Philadelphia, the Rev. Ron Wesner, to prepare Integrity's witness at the 1976 General Convention in Minneapolis.  Richard York, a graduate of the Episcopal Divinity School and a member of Integrity/Boston worked closely with Wesner on this project.  In August 1976, the Rev. Richard Younge, co-convenor of In­tegrity/San Francisco, chaired the second annual convention at Trinity Parish and Grace Cathedral.  Ron Wesner was elected the second national president at that time.  The keynoter for the convention was activist priest Malcolm Boyd, who used that oc­casion to come out as a gay brother to the convention; as he did a month later to the entire world through a newspaper interview with reporter Roy Larsen in Chicago.  Bishop C. Kilmer Myers of California was in attendance at the main mass and Barbara Git­tings, pioneer gay activist and distinguished bibliographer, won the second annual Integrity award.

 

In September 1976 in Minneapolis at the General Convention, the Integrity presence was much publicized in a positive and educative way through the fair coverage of the official Convention Daily, and the delegates passed most of the supportive reso­lutions submitted by Bishop Murray's Joint Commission, perhaps most notably Resolution A-69:

 

"Homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance and care of the Church."

 

Resolutions were also passed calling for a Church-wide study of human sexuality issues during the next triennium.  This was the same General Convention which historically passed a major Prayer Book revision and amended the canons to specifically permit the ordination of women to the priesthood of the Church.

 

In January 1977, Bishop Moore of New York ordained the Rev. Ellen Marie Barrett to the priesthood.  Although her ordination to the diaconate had been little commented upon, her priesthood, evoked a violent storm of controversy throughout the Church and the secular press which has continued almost unabated.

 

In May 1977, William A. Doubleday, a graduate of the Episcopal Divinity School and then a Jonathan Daniels Fellow at that seminary, became editor of Integrity.  Dr. Crew has, however, continued to contribute has energy and his scholarship to the min­istry of Integrity and to other efforts in the gay movement.  At the same time, David Williams, the publisher of Integrity, was instru­mental in bringing a new look and format to the materials gener­ated by the editor.

 

In August 1977, Integrity held its third annual convention at St. Mary's Parish on the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia.  Bishop Lyman Ogilby welcomed those who attended the main mass at which the Rev. John Scott, the rector of the parish was chief celebrant.  At one mass, over twenty Integrity member-priests were con-celebrants.  The keynoters were the Rev. Neale Secor of New York City and Ms. Noreen Carter, a feminist lay theologian from Massachusetts.  Canon Clinton Jones of Hartford was the recipient of the third annual Integrity award.

 

As at the beginning, Integrity's ministry remains two-fold, one dimension being education, healing, and community-building within the gay community and the other being a ministry of edu­cation and outreach in shared community with the Church as a whole.  As of January 1978, Integrity listed 37 chapters in the United States, Canada, and Germany, with others anticipated in the very near future.  In some cities these chapters operate in close cooperation with other gay religious groups such as Dig­nity (Gay Roman Catholics) or Lutherans Concerned for Gay People.  The majority of chapters meet almost weekly for Eucha­rist, community, and educational programs.  Several chapters publish fine newsletters of their own, are actively involved in parish visitation programs, or are engaged in dialogue with various diocesan officials or sexuality commissions.  Combined membership of all chapters is well over 2,000; and many, many, more persons participate without risking membership in a gay identi­fied organization.  Where possible, chapters normally meet in a parish setting.

 

Integrity's national newsletter, Integrity Forum, is published in Oak Park, Illinois.  Membership in Integrity, which includes a subscription to Integrity Forum is $10.00.  Dues may be remitted to: Integrity, P.0. Box 3681, Central Station, Hartford, CT 06103.

 

Most chapters of Integrity also have local dues to help support programs on the local and diocesan levels.  President Ron Wesner heads up the international office (3601 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104; Telephone 215/386-5430), organizing the witness to various Church and secular forums in the gay and non-gay com­munities, providing staff support to ministry efforts throughout the nation and beyond, and overseeing the development and growth of the chapter system.

 

Integrity is an Episcopal society legally incorporated as a not-for-profit religious, educational, literary, and charitable organ­ization.  Integrity operates under its own independent official constitution and by-laws; but Integrity is listed in The Episcopal Church Annual, and most members are either Episcopalians or persons happily committed to a primary organizational mission within the Episcopal Church.  As has always been the case, some members of Integrity are non-gay Christians who are seeking to be in dialogue or fellowship with gay Christians.  Integrity welcomes the participation of all who would rejoice with us in Christ's indiscriminate love.‑‑

 

BOOK REVIEWS

 

Woods, Richard, O.P.

Another Kind of Love:  Homosexuality and Spirituality 

The Thomas More Press, 1977, 163 pp.

 

Richard Woods presents a work designed to "explore the prac­tical, pastoral and spiritual implications and sometimes problems" of same-sex oriented men and women.  Instead of accomplishing this end, he is far more inclined to offer cheap advice and dis­plays a greater concern for moralizing than for moral theology.

 

There are, I feel, four areas with which a work designed to deal with sexuality and Christian spirituality needs to grapple:

 

1)  Psychological/sociological development:  sexual identity and behavior as a process of growth and development;

 

2)  Biblical exegesis and interpretation:  How do we understand the relevant scripture?  Has this changed recently?  What are our Hermeneutical principles?

 

3)  Ethical or Moral theology:  The work should be able to examine with some critical facility, traditional ethical or moral theological positions.  This should result in support, modification or restruc­turing of traditional concepts in a way that stimulates dialogue and thought;

 

4)  The work must take seriously prevalent human experience.  This is not to say that spirituality should pander to general experience, only that it should take seriously the experience of people who will attempt to live out their lives in the spirit of God.  The work should take seriously the possibility of God acting in and through human experience to reform and inform the church's thinking .

 

Spirituality's basic goal is always to enable people to become more sensitive to God's action and movement in their lives so that they may respond.  For us as Christians this means that spirit­uality must help make apparent Christ's love and acceptance.  It is my opinion that Richard Woods did not accomplish any se­rious examination of either the traditional ethical or moral teach­ing or the experience of the gay community. He instead applied un-critically the traditional teaching which dates from the late Middle Ages.  He did apply this teaching to new biblical inter­pretations and psychological/sociological understandings of sexual identity formation.  I don't think that this should be done uncritically.

 

The book does offer some helpful sociological and psychological understanding of the gay experience.  Still the spiritual in­sight and pastoral concern suggested is only that ‑‑ suggested.  What he does offer is a solid dose of guilt for those gay persons who don't immediately find themselves in a life-time monoga­mous relationship.  Bad news!  ‑‑ Reviewed by a seminarian

 

DIGNITY PRESIDENT RESIGNS

 

Walter Kay, the recently elected President of Dignity has resigned.  In a letter dated December 28, 1977, the resignation cited "per­sonal reasons."  At press time no other information was available.  According to the Dignity Constitution, the National Secretary, Carla Kasebauer, will assume the duties of President until a de­cision is made on a new election by the National Board of Con­sultors.

 

BARNHOUSE BOOK REVIEWED

 

In a sense, reviewing any book written from the psychoanalytic perspective is fraught with peril:  one disagrees at the expense of being accused of "resistance" or worse.  This peril is yet more pronounced when that book deals with such controversial ques­tions as the psycho-social causes and "treatments" of homosexuality as well as its theological ramifications.  Dr. Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse's Homosexuality:  A Symbolic Confusion (New York: The Seabury Press, 1977) is such a study.  In this relatively brief and, in some cases, superficial monograph, Dr. Barnhouse at­tempts to deal with such complex issues as the relation of sci­ence and human values, the psychological and sociological find­ings concerning both lesbian and gay male sexuality, and their philosophical and theological implications. This is indeed a valuable undertaking, and perhaps Dr. Barnhouse should be commended for undertaking it.  Unfortunately, her book is less than satisfactory and suffers from several major defects on the level of both methodology and content.  I shall focus on four such de­fects.

 

The primary assumption which Dr. Barnhouse makes ‑‑ an as­sumption which governs her entire development ‑‑ is the dis­tinction between what is and what ought to be, that is, the dis­tinction between fact and value.  This is a traditional division, of course, and one which does not appear in and of itself objectionable.  What is problematic, however, is Dr. Barnhouse's un­derstanding of science as that human activity which deals with what is independent of any value-judgements, these latter being reserved for theology and its related disciplines.  Such an assignment is, at best, questionable.  Dr. Barnhouse appears to ignore entirely the field of the sociology of knowledge (particularly as developed by such thinkers as Schutz, Habermas, Ber­ger and Luckmann and others) which argues that there exists no such phenomenon as value-free inquiry.  Even such simple examples as that concerning the percentage of wife-swappers in a given population are, in some sense, already normative and represent a value-judgement.  In its simplest form, this judge­ment is reflected in the question as to why such figures are sig­nificant. The answer to this question is not a value-free state­ment but a statement of relevance or interest ‑‑ in short, a value-judgement.  The same question may, of course, be asked of those studies concerning homosexuality which Dr. Barnhouse quotes at length: why are they relevant?  whose point of view do they represent?  what purpose are they to serve?  Similarly one might raise the unasked question concerning theology's relationship to these studies and their implicit value-judgements.  Unfortunately, Dr. Barnhouse's assumption of a precise distinction be­tween fact-inquiry and value-inquiry prohibits such questions, thereby introducing a fundamental flaw which is reflected through­out her entire work.

 

A second major defect follows from Dr. Barnhouse's acceptance of Freudian (and, to a lesser degree, Jungian) psychology. As is well known, Freud viewed homosexuality as the result of the failure to take certain maturational steps and to resolve certain traumatic childhood conflicts.  Dismissing Freud's famous letter to an American mother in which he asserts that homosexuality is not "treatable," while adopting the Freudian developmental model, Dr. Barnhouse proceeds to argue not only that homo­sexuality is a failure to take certain steps in childhood and ad­olescence, for which the homosexual person remains nonethe­less responsible, but also that such a "failure" is reversible, ac­complishable through psychotherapy in at least a small percent­age of all cases.  The difficulty with such a position is its lack of clinical verification.  Dr. Barnhouse dismisses, as being based on too small a statistical sample, those studies such as Hooker's (based on a controlled sample of thirty) which contradict her position while accepting as decisive the findings of Bieber (based on a sample of 105 subjects) and Socarides.  Moreover, in inter­preting the data of these experiments, Barnhouse judges a tran­sition from homosexual to heterosexual activity as a cure while describing the change from heterosexuality to homosexuality as "regression."  This description is accurate, however, only if one assumes the Freudian position; to use that interpretative description to verify the position is to beg the question.  (One might add that Dr. Barnhouse's chapter on female homosexual­ity is particularly pernicious.  On the basis of a loosely applied and clinically unverified Jungian theory of anima and animus, she makes such gratuitous statements as:  "In spite of strident rhetoric to the contrary, most lesbians believe in the overall su­periority of men."  One must ask how one can argue against such a position when any statement to the contrary is already deemed inadmissible as evidence!)

 

A third major difficulty concerns Dr. Barnhouse's interpretation of the doctrine of original sin and her use of it in elaborating the theological dimensions of the homosexual condition.  At the basis of this difficulty lies the rather inadequate definition of original sin adopted by Barnhouse from the New Catholic Encyclopedia ‑‑ a definition which understands original sin as a "hereditary" but nonetheless culpable condition of guilt or weakness acquired at conception as a direct result of the sinful choices of our primal parents.  Ignoring the current and more sophisticated theologi­cal interpretations of the doctrine in psycho-social, existential, personalistic or evolutionary terms, Barnhouse proceeds to argue that homosexuality is to be included under the rubric or original sin.  Such an argument presents some serious problems, how­ever.  In the first place, Barnhouse's working definition of original sin and its accompanying commentary attempts to combine two divergent metaphors in a single doctrinal position, viz., the med­ical and juridical models.  Logically, however, such a combina­tion is impossible: either the condition is hereditary or it is juri­dically culpable. To stress responsibility, as Barnhouse does, while preserving the medical model is to fundamentally contra­dict the covenant concept which lies at the root of both Old and New Testament thought. Moreover, Barnhouse's argument that homosexuality is an example of original sin remains valid in her context only if we adopt the Freudian opinion that this condition results from a failure to choose (albeit "unconsciously") certain maturational steps.  We have seen, however, that this opinion is far from convincing.  One must, in short, raise again the serious questions as to the extent to which Barnhouse allows her her­meneutical theology to depend on her psychological assump­tions and, indeed, the extent to which she allows the social sci­ences to determine her religious position in general.  I believe that Barnhouse might be better off to rethink this entire section of her book from a more adequate standpoint ‑‑ one which might, for example, interpret original sin not as a sinful condition but as a "symbolic concept" pointing to the entire nexus of historical and cosmic givens which influence and inform every free de­cision.  Seen from this perspective, homosexuality and its causes need not be a sinful condition treatable only in the penitential mode but rather, one of those acceptable givens from which and in which we are called to decide and act both morally and charitably.

 

The fourth and final difficulty which characterizes Barnhouse's presentation concerns her discussion of the goals of human sexuality.  Perhaps the most disquieting aspect of this entire section is Barnhouse's persistent attempt to think in a hierarchi­cal manner when it is precisely non-hierarchical thinking which may be required.  Thus, for example, Barnhouse searches for "the primary goal or consequence of sex" (p. 134) to which all other goals and consequences must be subordinated.  Yet why must there be just one?  Might not there be several or even many goals and consequences, not all of which are exhibited in every sexual encounter?  The dangers of such focused hierarchical thinking can be seen in the treatment which Barnhouse accords to Fr. John McNeil's monumental study The Church and the Ho­mosexual. Ignoring the substance of this insightful and original book, Barnhouse concentrates her entire treatment on a com­ment which McNeil makes in his epilogue concerning a project­ed study of sexuality as a form of human play, i.e., as an end-in-itself "just as the person is an end-in-himself or herself."  Barn­house criticizes this formulation at length, accusing it of being, among other things, individualistic and opposed to the "sacred order of the cosmos." Such a criticism, however, is patently unfair.  Barnhouse is here attacking a book which has not been written.  In the process she ascribes to McNeil a position which he has not pronounced.  Surely she must know that, being an eminent moral theologian, McNeil is well aware of the fact that the Kantian formula of "end-in-itself" cannot be employed in isolation from the various other formulations of the categorical imperative, several of which exhibit an explicitly social dimension (as, for example, that involving each moral agent in a Kingdom of Ends).  Barnhouse insults both McNeil and the reader by at­tempting to dismiss his work, whether actual or proposed, as somehow lacking the social depth which is the hallmark of hu­man sexuality.

 

On a yet more fundamental level, however, Barnhouse misses the essence of human sexuality because of a radical deficiency in her theology.  While correctly arguing that all human sexuality has serious symbolic significance, Barnhouse asserts that homosexual expression seriously falls short of its goal, which is the symbolic union or reconciliation of opposites like unto the wholeness or unity of God.  Yet such an assertion is predicated on the belief that men and women each reflect only one-half of the image of God, and that, therefore, wholeness may be attain­ed only in the male-female union.  Such a position is hardly Chris­tian!  On the contrary, it has been the dominant position of the Christian Church for two millennia that each individual, qua individual, is by virtue of his or her humanity a complete and adequate embodiment of the imago dei, which image, though perhaps distorted by the Fall, nonetheless perdures.  Barnhouse's position that only the male-female union completes this image is based on what is, at best, heretical theology and faulty biblical interpretation and needs to be seriously revised.

 

Such a revision need in no way, however, deny the spirituality or sacramentality of human sexual expression.  Thus marriage may remain a sacrament of nature.  But we need not limit sacramentality to marriage.  Indeed, insofar as any sexual expression sym­bolically approaches and effectively realizes the overcoming of distance or separation, we have there an "outward and visible sign" of God's gracious activity towards us.  All sexual expres­sion ‑‑ whether gay or heterosexual ‑‑ is capable of being such an efficacious sign.  This is not, of course, to argue that the sac­ramentality of homosexuality and heterosexuality are identical.  They may, for all we know, be quite different.  But the one need be no less sacramental than the other.  To the extent that Dr. Barnhouse fails to recognize this, she fails to present a sound and adequate picture of the many levels of human religious and sexual expression.

 

Editorial NoteRobert Sevensky holds the Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Religion from Boston College.  He is an active member of Integrity/Boston and has been involved in the lay leadership of Episcopal parishes in Boston.

 

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