Are Gay Christians More "Committed" than Straight Christians?

It's a provocative question, and one that a new survey casts light on.  David Gibson, over at his new post at Politics Daily has the answer here.  A preview:

As America's leading Christian denominations are once again feuding and splitting over whether they should allow gays and lesbians to marry, or ordain them as clergy, is it a miracle there are any gay Christians? Given Christianity's history of exclusion and often outright homophobia, and the current bloodletting over their role, why do homosexuals bother staying, not to mention believing?

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They do both in numbers that might surprise you: A new survey of 9,000 gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans from George Barna, a well-known evangelical pollster, showed that 70 percent of gay adults describe themselves as Christian and 60 percent say their faith is "very important" in their lives. Granted, those figures are lower than the population as a whole, which register 85 and 70 percent on those rankings, respectively. But Barna, himself a Bible-believing, born-again Christian, points out that the numbers demonstrate that "popular stereotypes about the spiritual life of gays and lesbians are simply wrong.

"People who portray gay adults as godless, hedonistic, Christian bashers are not working with the facts," Barna said. "A substantial majority of gays cite their faith as a central facet of their life, consider themselves to be Christian, and claim to have some type of meaningful personal commitment to Jesus Christ active in their life today."

Moreover, while Barna's data indicate that homosexual believers tend to avoid active participation in an institutional church, both anecdotal evidence and some research shows that gays and lesbians who are involved in their churches and denominations are often more committed to the church and more involved in ministry than their straight brethren.

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8 years 4 months ago
We are, all of us, called to Holy relationships and friendships in communion with God. The only orientation we are called to is one that is oriented towards the Will of God , who is Love.  Although it is true that acts of compassion are acts of Love, homosexual sexual acts are not acts of Love because they do not Respect the Sacredness and Dignity of the Human Person. I wish you Peace in Christ.
8 years 4 months ago
The truth is, homosexual sexual acts do not respect the Sacredness and Dignity of the Human Person. Any act that is not oriented towards the Will of God is not an act of Love to begin with. The Truth of Love will set you free.
8 years 4 months ago
Although most gays usually, understandably, have a great disdain for organized religion on the other hand I can see why gays who consider themselves Christians cling to their Faith even more steadfastly then some heterosexuals. We as gay Christians have a fight to wage for equality not only in the secular sphere but within the Church as well. Especially now with the oppresively conservative climate which has overtaken the Church and tried to crush all kinds of freedom of thought that contradict what the Magisterial pronouncements of the Vatican say.
Thus, we as gay Christians have no one to turn to for help or refuge except Our Lord, and a few other forward-thinking venues of solace (such as Call to Action and Dignity). Gays can identify intimately with Christ, for He promised us that when we are persecuted it is only then that we will discover the sweetest benediction. When we are denied equal civil rights within our own nation, when we are called "disordered" by the leaders of our Church, when we are called all kinds of obscene, offensive names we follow the same path that Our Lord did as He carried His Cross and was reviled and covered with spittle. I like to think that as He was undergoing His Passion and Death He had a special fold within His Sacred Heart to consider the injustices that have been committed against LGBT individuals throughout history.
Luckily, there are still viable veins of progressive thought within the Church, most notably the Jesuit Order. So, I thank you Fr. Martin for raising this issue and letting all Catholics understand that gay rights is not just a political issue, its a matter of humanitarian and spiritual proportions! Continue to pray for a renewal and reform of the Church so that its leaders may realize, in light of modern science (integrating both FAITH and REASON as Pope Benedict as so many times exhorted) that homosexuality is not a "disorder" or "disease" but a unique and different variant of human sexuality as opposed to hetersexuality that the Creator in His goodness has deigned to allow to grace His creatures!
8 years 4 months ago
Homosexual sex acts are "disordered" just as heterosexual sex acts outside of God's will for our sexuality (masterbation, infidelity, contraceptive sex, etc.) are "disordered". God's intention for sex is procreative and bonding between a man and woman coming together as one flesh.  no other combination of two people (man/man, woman/woman) can come together for this purpose.  while homosexuals may be bonded in some ways by sexual acts, since the procreative is physically impossible, they are always at risk of using one another for gratification instead of working towards a purpose that God gave their bodies in their fertility.  Homosexual sex acts ignore the natural law and why God made us male and female.  Does this mean that people with a same-sex attraction cannot be good Catholics, no.  We all have the potential to be good Catholics, but we can't just make up the rules as we see fit.  Gay and straight people are called to live God's plan for our sexuality.  Please see Courage, Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body, Humane Vitae for True Church teaching.
8 years 4 months ago

Anne/Nancy Danielson, when I saw this posting today, as I logged onto the comments section, I told myself, "I'll bet Anne/Nancy Danielson made the first comment."  And so it comes to pass.  As Bob Nunz wrote yesterday about your similar contribution to a new thread re: health care at Commonweal at the outset of that thread, "Another non-sequitur (from the beginning) by Nancy."

I am writing you now as someone who seriously wants to understand why it's important for you to seek to frame discussions on Catholic blogs of many theological and moral issues today with what you see as the Truth.  My intent in asking this is not to attack.  It's to understand, because dialogue presumes that we care to understand where others are coming from.

I have encountered your work at one Catholic blog after another for several years now, and the pattern is consistent.  When an opinion differs from what you see as the Truth (you like to capitalize the word), you immediately jump into the discussion to frame it as a stark either-or choice: the Truth or heresy.  God or the devil.  Right or wrong.

Why you resort to several usernames, I'm not quite sure.  That you do so, I've discovered by observing the email address of the person posting as Anne or Anne B. or Nancy Danielson.  It's the same address, from someone whose email address indicates you are a soccer mom.

Here's my concern, in a nutshell.  When the issue is your gay brothers and sisters and our lives, you like to talk to us about love.  And Truth, of course.  But you use what you call Truth as a weapon that totally negates what you say about love.

As a gay believer who struggles to hang on by my fingernails, I have to tell you in all honesty that your behavior drives me away.  Though you occasionally speak about welcoming and loving, it is clear to me that you are unwilling to welcome and love me, as your gay brother.

You once said something self-revelatory in a discussion you and I had about these issues on an NCR thread. You said something about not wanting to have your children taught that homosexuality is normal. Most of the time, I have no sense of who you are or where you are coming from.  From most of your postings, I have the impression that you are an activist of some kind, who may have political leanings that strongly influence your Catholic view of many of these issues, and, more importantly, that lead you to try to derail discussions of some issues if they head in a direction your politics does not permit.

But that one aside did show me that there's a person there, who has real (if, in my view, misguided) fears and concerns underlying your crusade.  Is it possible for you to share more about why you feel the need to frame these discussions, and to make gay brothers and sisters unwelcome in "your" church, even as you assure us that you are interested in welcome and love?

If so, I would welcome your response. I really want to try to understand what fuels the passion of those engaged in such crusades.

8 years 4 months ago

Thanks Anne.  Your words are true and eternal in their teachings.  Regarding the article, I have heard the rhetoric presented many times before - via Jesuit education. And, I am convinced that the order is only out to validate their own behavior on a political, financial and theological scale. These avocations misplace the premise of Christian virtue and purity to focus on sexuality, their own sexuality, hidden under the terminology of 'hospitality'. It is becoming a self-serving and
indulgent 'ministry,' which now, in this article, insults the dedication of 'straight Christians'. How does the author define morality, in terms of the theology of the body, and our growth in purity toward Christ, if at all?  Is there any moral standard for the body in this line of reasoning?  Again, as Anne said, 'our lives are ordered towards the will of God who is love' through the revelations made known in natural and moral law.

8 years 4 months ago
Anne, homosexual acts only disrespect the dignity of heterosexual persons.  If God created someone to be a homosexual person, such acts must be seen in a different context.  Human nature is not only heterosexual.  Homophobia resprespects the dignity of the human person.
8 years 4 months ago
William, I have a Child who has struggled with this inclination and I Love my Child, as I Love all my Children, and I want them to know The Truth.
8 years 4 months ago
So, according to the survey, the answer to the question is "no".  Kinda dumb article.
8 years 4 months ago
The proof is in the pudding:
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[url=http://mccchurch.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home]http://mccchurch.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home[/url]
8 years 4 months ago
I think what appears to frighten Anne and William, and I say this with a lot of respect to both of you, is that the evidence provided by the living witness of gay and lesbian Catholics who love the Church runs counter to what we are told to believe about the impact of supposedly disordered acts on one's soul. When we see the work of grace in the lives of people who give to their partners and to their communities selflessly and lovingly, and thus who become transformed in Christ's love toward all their neighbors, including their enemies, we have to question whether the story we've been told about gay people is true. If we find people transformed by grace, how can we deny the possibility that their love for their partners, even of the same sex, is indeed a legitimate expression of human love? If God were not in their lives, then wouldn't we see all their desires disordered? But we don't necessarily see that.
To answer these questions, one must really think about the Church's teaching on grace, desire, and love, and see if the official position really holds up. I think this-the fact that it really doesn't-is the source of difference between what's on the books regarding homosexuality and much pastoral practice. Many priests and religious just cannot ignore the goodness they find in gay Christians. 
Perhaps the questions could be phrased differently. What is the finality of homosexuality? Everything in the created order has a purpose in Catholic teleology. It's clear that we find homosexuality even in the animal kingdom-where it appears even to have evolutionary value-so an appeal to homosexuality as merely a psychological disease, as Courage would have us believe, will not answer this question. If there is no finality in homosexuality, then we have a gap in the idea of finality in the created order, upon which the Church's entire theology rests. If homosexuality is not created by God, then we have a problem for the story of creation, upon which, ultimately, all the anti-homosexual positions rest. Of course, I know Anne and William will say gay people are not created by God as gay, but again, to hold to this would require an abandonment of all the evidence we have. 
Please Anne and William. Let doctrine fit Truth, not Truth doctrine. Gay Catholics are not asking the Church just to suit their lives. They are praying to be united with the whole Church and to be given a chance to be heard.
8 years 4 months ago
Those of us who are calling for better treatment of gays and lesbians by the Church are not really leading the movement, we are following it.  The main body of the Church is moving toward greater acceptance and tolerance.  The hierarchy is the last to know that most of the Church no longer believes that homosexuality is disordered.
8 years 4 months ago

Anne, thank you for sharing from your personal experience.  I understand a bit more where your passion and personal engagement comes from, knowing this information.  And I appreciate your being honest and speaking from your real place.
I don't know you and won't presume to offer any personal comments about your situation and your child's.  With that proviso, I would, however, ask you to consider what effects we have on children, when we give them messages that they are loved, but that something essential to their nature, which is all about their ability to love, is unacceptable.

As a gay adult, I am very concerned about gay youth.  The suicide rate among gay and lesbian teens is shocking.  I believe it has everything to do with the messages that many families and many churches give to gay human beings, that we are "welcome" and loved, but that something essential to our human nature, which centers on our ability to love, is unwelcome.  I happen to know of a case in which a member of a bishop's family committed suicide as a young man precisely because his family gave him message of unwelcome because of their fidelity to what they regard as the only possible Catholic teaching on these issues.

It disturbs me that a posting which shows a significant proportion of gay and lesbian people in the U.S. still holding onto faith and spirituality could be read not as a positive, but as a negative, reality by some churchgoers. I would have thought this news ought to be cause to rejoice, not to become angry.

There is, in my view, underlying the response of many Christians to their gay brothers and sisters, a strong, clear, and very ugly message that our brothers and sisters would simply like to be rid of us.  I often think that the problem is really all about wanting churches to be comfort zones in which we interact only with others who are like us and who do not test our boundaries.

But God may think differently than we do about such matters. Maybe the point is to learn to live with those who are different, who make us uncomfortable and raise uncomfortable questions about the "truths" we take for granted.  And maybe the Spirit keeps sending those uncomfortable others into our midst as a gift, to invite us to open our hearts to a God who is totally Other.
(Goyo, I agree with what you are saying.  I don't quite understand how you read my posting to mean something that could differ from what you've posted.)

8 years 4 months ago

I'm sorry William. I misread who posted the comment. It looks like I meant to address Melissa. (And it looks like I should have address Matt, too.) I'm tired of appeals to a priori natural law 'truths'-what hubris it fosters! To think we would know of God's Truth independently of turning our wills toward His purposes-it's pure idolatry. I'm sorry, but the obviousness of the intricacies of human sexuality are not as certain as mathematical axioms, and this constant appeal to them as such without any influence of experience is just mind-bogglingly arrogant. Where do we gather evidence about the 'Sacredness and Dignity of the Human Person'? From actual people or from the reality-immune categories our minds have created? Anne, I wish you peace in Christ, too.

8 years 4 months ago
Lack of experience in the above quote refers to having no real life experience of living as a gay person as opposed to a heterosexual person. Throwing an exclusively hetersexual blanket on the totality of human sexual experience is reductionist. 
When one's truth ignores solid facts one is not operating from truth but from opinion. It may be a well reasoned opinion, but it's still an opinion.  Natural Law is a well reasoned opinion.  Elevating it to the level of Gospel truth is hubris. 
It maybe that there is nothing in the Gospels about sex-except for marital adultery-for a reason. That reason maybe that it's not about sexual acts per se, it's about relationship and commitment to a relationship.
8 years 4 months ago

What the Catholic Church, in its endless arrogance, fails to realize is that the LGBT community does not need it to minister to us.

Rather, we minister to it with the full knowledge that good seed falls where it will.  Some of it will take root and prosper and some of the rest will fall on rocky ground and hearts and fail to thrive.

Any organization that bleats that it is Holy MOTHER Church needs to take a look at what kind of ground it offers to the witness of its LGBT children.  So far, fallow is not the operative word.

8 years 4 months ago
''I'm sorry, but the obviousness of the intricacies of human sexuality
are not as certain as mathematical axioms, and this constant appeal to
them as such without any influence of experience is just
mind-bogglingly arrogant.'' - This comment accuses people, like me, who agree with natural law and purity as one of the primary Christian precepts, of being arrogant because we lack ''influence of experience.'' Wow.  So, my values are misguided, because my life experience is meaningless, and therefore I am the one who is being called arrogant?  What a mess.  I follow Christ.
8 years 4 months ago
No Melissa, what it means is that the refusal to look to the experience of relevant parties (ie, gay and lesbian Christians) in determining how those human beings may flourish and instead looking to those who know nothing of their lives is an arrogance. So it says nothing of your experience speaking for your life. It says something of your experience speaking for the lives of others who are different than you.
And it doesn't mean that purity is a bad thing. But purity is relative to contexts, e.g., sexual monogamy within a faithful marriage is considered the appropriate ''purity'' for married couples. It's different than the ''purity'' appropriate to a young person dating. So I agree with you that purity is appropriate for Christians. 
As far as natural law is concerned, it's not a fixed concept like some would have us believe. Aristotle, upon whose ideas of natural finality Thomas built his idea of natural law, said everything in nature had a purpose, and violations of nature were wrong. But he also accepted abortions for eugenic reasons and slavery for those not fit to be masters. Thomas believed it was right to execute infidels for the common good, and thought that slavery did not violate natural law. He also thought the Church could not follow Christ's exhortation to forgive 70 times 7 times. Oh, and masturbation and homosexuality were ''worse'' than rape and incest, because at least the latter followed right reason. And his ideas on sex were based on biological principles now known to be defunct (like the homuncular theory of fertilization). But Thomas's brilliance, however, was in realizing that the natural law could be changed by addition or subtraction when new knowledge or God's revelation made that evident.
My point is that experience-especially the experience of gay and lesbian Christians-may be telling us that the natural law is not as we once thought, just as has been the case with the many issues listed above (slavery, abortion, fertilization, etc.). But it takes an open heart, especially one turned toward Christ, as you say, to discern these things. It doesn't take intellectual absolutism.

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