Q1. Examine the Pew data above. What bearing does this have upon the audience that Matthew Vines is addressing? How do you account for the fact that White Evangelical Protestants manifest the strongest antagonism to same-sex marriages? How do you account for the fact that religiously unaffiliated Americans manifest the strongest support for same-sex marriages?
Q2. How do you account for the fact that acceptance of same-sex marriages continues to slowly rise in all the categories polled? Why is it that the current younger generation (20-29 years of age) in all categories demonstrates significantly higher levels of support for same-sex marriages than do their parents (40-55 years of age)?
Q3. My personal mentor, Dr. Michael Polanyi,1 was fond of noticing that “every belief works in the eyes of the believer.” Dr. Terry Sejnowski2 takes this one step further: “Just because everyone believes in an explanation does not make it true. It sometimes takes a full generation for a commonly held [mistaken] belief to be flushed from a community.” This is certainly true for the social and religious stigma against interracial marriages and against interfaith marriages. Can this also be true of same-sex marriages? If so, why so?
1 Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge
If you vigorously disagree with anything written in my blogs, do not be surprised . Each of us is naturally rooted in our own history of experiences with LGBTQ believer. Take comfort that there are millions of others who are locked into a “total war against the homosexual minority” [302,000 Google hits]. But a sustained war can be debilitating, and there is a sane wisdom in the admonition of Jesus to “love your enemies.” So, while you are thinking of the kind of refutation that you’d like to prepare, give a thought also to the kinds of experiences that you might want to gain for yourself by visiting a support group and finding out first-hand what gays and lesbians really think about themselves and what kind of support they need.
Pope Francis wrote in Evangelii Gaudium: “Whenever we encounter another person in love, we learn something new about God” (§272). The pope further reminds us that “A Church which goes forth is a Church whose doors are open. Going out to others in order to reach the fringes of humanity does not mean rushing out aimlessly into the world. Often it is better simply to slow down, to put aside our eagerness in order to see and listen to others.” (§46). This is ideally the best attitude to bring to a support group that you are visiting.
Preparing yourself for visiting a support group
Consider doing an online search using the search phrases “lesbian support group” or “gay support group” or “teen support group.” Pick out a “group” that fits into your comfort zone.
When I did my online search using Google, I adding the word “*Cincinnati” so as to insure that my initial hits were local. I received 728 hits for lesbian groups and 6200 hits for gay support groups in Cincinnati.
I chose to introduce myself as “a straight interested in better understanding the lives of gays and lesbians.” You might want to do something like this for yourself so as to avoid setting up false pretenses.
After your second meeting, I invite you to write a reflection on your experience and send it to me at Milavec@Jesus4Lesbians.com with the words “second encounter” in the subject line. I will be glad to hear from you, to learn from your experiences, and to give you a reply. Alternately, I invite anyone who visits a support group to post below their experiences.
Bring a friend to the first meeting, if the thought of being the sole interloper makes you uneasy. My hunch is that you will be amazed. I myself received a warm welcome, and I didn’t have to pretend that I had any homosexual leanings to earn that welcome.
If you want to find someone who lives close to you to join up with you and go to a support group, type your first name, age, sex, and zip code [e.g., Aaron 80 m 45211] as the header to your post. In the body of the post, briefly describe what support group you’d like to visit, where it is located, and why this particular group seems most appealing to you.
For parents and guardians
If you are a parent and are very much troubled by the experience of Gloria and Tony that I narrated earlier, then you most definitely will want to find yourself a “Parent Support Group” such as the one advertised above.
For those parents and guardians who are in conflict with a youth who has what you identify as a “dangerous” or “immoral” life style, please know that God wants to return you and your beloved child to a place of peace and love.
Remember that priests and pastors are sometimes very poorly equipped to be of help in this matter. I myself have spent 25 years training future priests, and I know firsthand that some seminaries are very ill-at-ease when discussing homosexuality. Confide in your priest or pastor if you must, but don’t make the mistake of implementing any of the advice you receive before having tested it out within your Parent Support Group first. Your child is too precious to risk doing unintentional harm to him/her by making repeated mistakes. In the end, you will find little consolation in the fact that the pope is infallible if you get trapped into being excessively rigid or excessively lax when it comes time for loving your child with the same unconditional love that you have received from your heavenly Father. God is love, and God loves your child no matter what sexual orientation they have received from their Father in Heaven.
For lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people, realizing their sexual orientation or gender identity and sharing that information with family and friends is often a gradual process that can unfold over a series of years. This section looks at the process of coming out—when and how it happens, how difficult it is, and what impact it has on relationships.
The vast majority of LGBT respondents (86%) say they have told one or more close friends about their sexual orientation or gender identity. And some 54% say all or most of the important people in their life know that they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
There are large differences here across LGB groups. Lesbians and gay men are more likely than bisexuals to have told at least one close friend about their sexual orientation (96% of gay men and 94% of lesbians, compared with 79% of bisexuals). And they are much more likely to say that most of the people who are important to them know about this aspect of their life: 77% of gay men and 71% of lesbians say all or most people know, compared with 28% of bisexuals.
This section also explores the interactions LGBT adults have outside of their circles of family and close friends—in their communities and workplaces. Some seek out neighborhoods that are predominantly LGBT, but most do not. A majority of employed LGBT adults say their workplaces are accepting of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Still, about half say only a few or none of their co-workers know about their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Ultimately, these journeys are personal and hard to quantify. Survey respondents were invited to elaborate on their experiences, and many of their stories are captured in an interactive feature on the Pew Research Center website.
Those who want to interact with this blog are invited to “Leave a Reply” below. A solid way to begin doing this is to offer “readback lines.” To do this, quickly glace back over the entire blog and pick out the one or two lines that have made a deep impression upon you. Copy them [CTRL-C] and then paste them [CTRL-V] into an empty comment box below. If you wish, signal the emotion that you feel when reading your readback lines. The primary emotions are anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise. No need to further explain yourself. It is enough to identify the text important to you and to name the emotion(s) that it evokes. All of this normally takes less than a few minutes.
I and others will “thank you” for your contribution. If you are tempted to say more, I urge you to hold back. Your sense of safety and the safety of others is best protected by not getting overly wordy in the beginning. This will come after a few days or weeks.
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