From One Side to the Other

I guess this is old news, but I came across this story about ex-gay rights leader Michael Glatze in the New York Times yesterday, and it pointed me back Glatze’s article in WorldNetDaily back in 2007, as well as an open letter to Rick Martin in WND. I’d never heard of this guy. His story is fascinating.

Glatze was a gay’s gay. He started and spearheaded the rise of Young Gay America’s magazine, produced the first documentary film on gay teen suicide, and appeared with media outlets like PBS, MSNBC and TIME magazine as an advocate for gay rights and the homosexual lifestyle. As Denizet-Lewis says in his article in the Times, many young gay men looked up to him. He quotes Glatze as saying things like “Christian fundamentalists should burn in hell,” and “People have been raised incorrectly to believe that the prejudices they’ve been taught by their pastors are God’s word. . . The only Truth is Love.”

Then, in about 2004, health issues prompted Glatze to start asking some deep questions about himself and the state of his soul. Long story short, it started what he calls a “spiritual awakening” that led to him rejecting his homosexuality and becoming a Christian.

I’ve always hesitated to say much about homosexuality for two simple reasons. One, I’m not gay and have no homosexual desires; I don’t “get” it. Two, growing up in a fairly narrow Christian environment, I haven’t had much personal interaction with homosexuals. They’re a tough group for conservative Christians to reach. Most Christians don’t set out to “hate” gays or demonize them, but there are two different philosophical assumptions at play here that makes some animosity inevitable. One side says that a certain “lifestyle”–or, as some Christians might say, certain “acted out desires”–are sinful, and therefore the most loving thing to do is to warn people that this lifestyle is contrary to God’s design for the world, inherently enslaving, and destructive to human civilization. The other side says that this lifestyle is completely normal, enjoyable, and conducive to human happiness. It ought therefore to be embraced and celebrated. Continue reading →

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Book Review: The Question of God

I just finished reading The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life. As the title suggests, the book represents Dr. Armand Nicholi Jr.’s attempt to set up a “debate” between Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis on the most important issues humanity faces. He asks questions like “Does God exist?” “What is the nature of love?” “What is the meaning of life?” and “What should we think of sex?” Then, Dr. Nicholi lets the thinkers speak for themselves–Freud then Lewis, in turn–offering his own occasional insights along the way.

If anyone is qualified for a project like this, Dr. Nicholi would seem to be the guy. He is an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital, and he has taught courses on Lewis and Freud for decades.

If you are unfamiliar with C.S. Lewis, Sigmund Freud, or both, I commend this book to you. Dr. Nicholi brings together years of study into both of these great minds, delving into everything we know about both their beliefs and their personal lives.

I read Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” last summer and just finished “Surprised by Joy” a few weeks ago, so I can at least confirm that Dr. Nicholi does a fine job of representing Lewis’ beliefs about each of the subjects in his book.

I can only trust that he does the same for Freud. He certainly gives readers no glaring reason to doubt his portrayal of Freud’s beliefs. He draws from Freud’s books, personal letters, and even interactions with his children and grandchildren to paint a picture of both the brilliance and tragedy of Freud’s life. Furthermore, he realizes that Freud’s beliefs were often in flux throughout his life, so we often get a brief chronological progression of Freud’s beliefs on a topic. Readers therefore come to know Freud personally, as a human with desires, hopes, fears, flaws and struggles. Continue reading →

A Gender “Storm”

I remember hearing on Wednesday about the Canadian couple who have decided to keep the gender of their newborn child a secret. Only the midwives and immediate family members know the sex of baby Storm. Since then, I’ve read Al Mohler’s take on it, an article in the Globe and Mail, an article at God Discussion, and Storm’s mother Kathy Witterick’s  extensive response to the whole business in the Vancouver Sun. Here’s the original story at ParentCentral.ca.

My reaction to the whole thing was at first detached and curious, even though everyone in the newsroom who heard about it at the time reacted with an understandable disgust and disdain. I figured that I was operating as a journalist at the time, which means trying to look at stories even as crazy as that with a cool, careful, objectivity.

I’ve wondered over the past several days, though, why I was able to do this so easily. My beliefs scream that everything about it is wrong, and I do believe that Storm’s parents deserve most of the harsh criticism they’ve taken.

The main thing that gave me pause at first, I think, was this: I couldn’t–off the top of my head–come up with a good reason within the system of secular thought that they shouldn’t do it. My knee-jerk reaction was based almost entirely on my understanding of gender as part of God’s creation and in relation to imaging God’s character as originally reflected in creation. All I had was “God doesn’t like that, it goes against his will.” Without that Christian view (or some sort of theism that sees social institutions as instigated by God), well, I don’t see what’s to keep any sort of family unit, including gender roles, from disintegrating.

Now that I’ve thought on it a little more, though, I think there are three general problems with the line of thinking in the parents’ decision to keep Storm’s gender private.

ONE, they assume that we have the freedom to choose who we are and become. Witterick asks: “When will we live in a world where people can make choices to be whoever they are?”

The answer, I’m afraid, is “never.”

Continue reading →