Ok, I'm not quite sure the rules of posting back (if there are any) when you're the person who started the thread, so I'll just make them up. Feel free to offer future advice, anyone.
First, sorry about the 35 (hundred) or so grammatical errors. You probably noticed, but I posted kind of late, or early, if that is any excuse. Right, so.
Miz Melly: I put Elaine Storkey's Men and Women: Created or Constructed on my book list for this summer. Thanks.
Sonja: Beginning with a desire to love God back, or learning to love God back, or trying to figure out what on earth that means- yeah, that's a good reminder. Start at the beginning. It's really a relief, because in the end, we don't need answers, we need love. And yes, I hope I become a person who starts dialogue in my community through prayer and study and love. Dialogue over this, and dialogue over all kinds of issues. Thank you for the encouragement.
Lydia: I spent an hour or two looking at gaychristian.net last night, and, even though I'm probably more confused, it was really good to hear from other people who want to love Jesus on sexuality, and hear about it from a different perspective. Thank you for posting the link.
Julie: McLaren's book is on my reading list now. I agree, in principle, that confusion is good, but in practice, I'll be honest, I hate confusion. The more I learn, the more questions I seem to have- in all subjects. And I think I understand logically that this is a good thing, but sometimes I wish I thought the world was black and white, because it seems like it'd be easier... if not in tune with reality. In the end, though, I don't want to be standing on anything other than Him, and this shattering is hopefully leading to that. Thanks for the truth in your comment.
Agma: I just learned about Maslow's hierarchy of needs in psychology this week. (ha, gotta love connections:) ) I appreciate your words (it's good to hear from a pastor!), and yes, may we be people who start dialogue and conversation, and not just depend on our leaders to.
Amie: I live quite far from Atlanta but am interested in reading more from your "Peace Between the Sexes" presentation. I am also curious about how gender roles developed in the Bible.
Janice: thank you for contributing the article and website link; both are worth checking out.
Becky Garrison: I added Joan's book to my list, thanks (and good luck on the one you're writing!).
Dan: (actually Daniel lives in the suite next to me, also a 19 year old- so I've kind of already told him my thoughts). First, I'm not proposing that we in the church get into a huddle and talk about "other" kinds of people, at all. I'm merely suggesting that conversation (which maybe has already started for all of you) start somewhere, and branch out. I think a lot of what you had to say was relevant, but my original question on this is actually, "What exactly is gendered?" Is a maternal instinct gendered, evolved and imprinted into human beings, human females? Is a need for conflict genetically coded into males? And if some things are explicitly gendered, what does it mean (scientifically, emotionally, spiritually) to be transgendered? How can I best understand this, and how I can most love transgendered people, without putting a great separation between them and myself? And Julie is right, many people take scripture seriously and come to different conclusions regarding homosexuality. Essentially, I think gender roles perhaps play an unequaled role in sexuality and sexual orientation and transgender(ism?) which is one of many reasons why they're worth discussing.
Linda: if you find that interview, could you post the link? It sounds really interesting and helpful. Thank you for your encouragement. May we be people we struggle through questions and embrace mystery.
Karen: I really appreciate your posts, maybe because you seem very tender to me, and I want my heart to be like that, too. And you're right- I don't think ignoring these issues is any better (although maybe more respectful) than attacking those involved- which is probably the reason why I'm tentatively trying to start conversations and probably offending a lot of people around me. And yeah- we do need to acknowledge these issues- I'm trying to be someone willing to do that. I read Lauren Winner's book, Real Sex, and was like, "That's totally true! I'm never discussed or prayed about masturbation with any other females in the church!" I think a lot of sexuality, especially anything other than heterosexuality, has been labeled taboo and swept under the rug. But these are real people, and real issues, and they have real effects. And gender confusion- exactly! Obviously we know that girls can be intellectual, or boys emotional, or whatever, even if these traits and others are sometimes, or in some cultures, looked down upon (or worse)- but this takes me back to my original questions- is there anything innately gendered that has not been created by society or culture? Anyway, thanks so much for your contributions and your grace.
Marilyn: I'm slightly overwhelmed at your post (although it's good to hear from different veins) mainly because it seems to hail from one distinct Christian worldview... I could be totally wrong, but what I mean is, it seems like your thoughts have not been challenged much. Contrary to what you may have inferred, I indeed have spent some time in what you may deem "Christian worldview" (as if there is one universal Christian worldview) type churches. I am curious what you mean by "watering down the gospel," because your gospel comes off as so extremely culturally defined. Also, going back to my original question- if your oldest son, at 2, wanted to be a mother, what exact differences between men and women did you explain to him (that were not cultural)? What, in your opinion, are the innate differences between men and women, that leave room for tomboys and boys who play with Barbies, male pacifists and female soldiers, etc? Or perhaps they don't? I hope my tone here is not offensive, because I am genuinely asking what kinds of differences you see between the sexes. I'd really appreciate hearing your thoughts on that.
In terms of "hate-filled" rhetoric, if you really want a list or something, let me know, and I'll send you the names of churches in a few different states where I have heard words of bigotry and hatred towards the LGBT community.
As far as Newsweek, I actually find Newsweek to be fairly balanced in their portrayal and perceptions of the Christian community. Like Karen, I think hatred and intolerance has flown from all sides. And actually, there is some research right now about what exactly triggers sexual attraction and orientation, as well as gender orientation (although you're right, as far as I know, no firm evidence for a "gay gene" has been discovered). Could you quantify what you perceive the "gay agenda" to be?
I don't think Dan meant that the problems associated with high divorce rate, common-law relationships, and emotionally distant businessmen somehow cancel out the problems associated with gay marriage. I think, instead, he was pointing out that we get caught up in hot issues- and start to label some sin as worse than other sin. I think what he was saying is that, if we really want to change, it can't begin with legislation, but with our own hearts- the whole "why look at a speck in your brother's eye when there is a plank in your own?" thing. It is interesting that your counselor friend has always seen a familial or predictor in every homosexual or transgender child she has worked with. I'm quite interested in looking at any research (apparently a lot, since most of us are "criminally negligent" in our ignorance) done on that.
As far as your gay friend, his sentiments toward his relationships with other men being more about sex than companionship quite reflect the sentiments I often feel about dating. I think any relationship appealing to me at this point would be for sex and probably not much else- and since I decided to practice chastity a couple of years ago (until or unless I get married), for me, dating right now is just a scene I'm steering clear of. I mean really, is his confession that extraordinary? The only difference between him and me is that he practices what his flesh wants- and the only difference enabling me not to is grace (which is available to him, too).
Thanks again everybody. I was really rather intimidated at posting here (my friend Jenelle told me I should), but I am so overwhelmed and grateful for your support and exchange. This is a great blog. peace.