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March 05, 1993 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-03-05

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 5, 1993- Page 5
SE_AITY AND THE SUP__E__
___ ___ REIMB G

What religion says about homosexuality and what homosexuals say about

religion

eligion can be both a force for
guidance and morality, and
crutch or venue by which fa-
natics justify their own beliefs.
Complicate the subject by men-
tioning homosexuality - referred to
by some as a sin, and others as an
acceptable, normal way of life.
The result is confusion, disbelief
and hostility. There is no definitive
answer as to how religion should re-
spond to homosexuality because few
people want to confront the problem
within their personal faiths.
For both homosexuals and hetero-
sexuals, pain remains. The religious
decision to embrace or reject people
based on their sexuality haunts many
people - whether they are bisexuals,
gay men, lesbians or straights.
"Homosexuality is a
sickness and needs to be
treated as such.... It is a
lifestyle which would
require repentance."
- Associate Presbyterian
Minister
As a result of negative interpreta-
tions of homosexuality in texts such as
the Torah or Bible, many religions
have rejected homosexuality, describ-
ing it as a sin or an inappropriate
lifestyle.
Kevin Richardson, a member of
the Baptist Student Union- a college
ministry of Southern Baptists - said
he felt many Baptists center their lives
upon the Bible and follow what it says.
"Some passages in the Old Testa-
ment and New Testament, especially
Romans, say homosexuality is a sin
and a sinful lifestyle," Richardson said.
"What the Bible says, we would up-
hold."
Dr. Carl Geider, an associate min-
ister at the First Presbyterian Church,
said Presbyterians do not accept ho-
mosexuality because same-sex rela-
tions are considered sinful.
"Although I am not a spokesperson
for the church ... there are those who
feel still today that homosexuality is a
sickness and needs to be treated as
such.... It is a lifestyle which would
require repentance," Geider said.
LSA junior Kamran Bajwa said
many Muslims believe homosexual-
ity is wrong because it is taughtas such
in the Koran. Bajwa is president of
Islamic Circle.
"You're only supposed to have
heterosexual sex and within wedlock,"
Bajwa said. "Islam sees men and
women created for unique roles and
positions and that is as each other's
mates."
LSA juniorDeanaSolaiman, also a
Muslim, said the religious texts of
Islam say homosexuality is "on the
wrong path" against God.
"If (homosexuals) take that wrong
path, they are continuing self-destruc-
tion and are hurting their future. Sex or
a relationship lasts for so long, but
eternity is forever."
"Some stories were
written with divine
inspiration - others,
human prejudice."
- Interfaith Minister
Many people argue that religious
texts can be interpreted in various ways.

Supporters of this viewpoint contend
that when some people interpret a pas-
sage to say homosexuality is a sin, it
can be a result of unconscious preju-
dice.
Rev. Christopher Atwood said he
feels the Bible - except for very few
passages - does not forbid homo-
sexual relations. Atwood is a minister
at Guild House, an interfaith justice
and peace campus ministry.
"There are places in the Bible that
prohibit specific acts, but their context
is more than just homosexuality,"
Atwood said. "Jesus never says any-
thing about homosexuality. If God is
revealed in Christ, you have to judge
all under that."
Atwood said he felt the Bible should
not be treated as one monolithic canon,
but as stories written at different times
and by many authors.
"Some stories were written with
divine inspiration - others, human
prejudice," Atwood said. "Those
voices renresent different communi-

come a foreigner in their midst. It's
about hospitality, nothomosexuality,"
Rohde said.
"The sexual perversion is as much
heterosexual as anything else. Lot of-
fers his daughters to the men banging
on the door," Rohde added.
"We are open to
homosexuals being a part
of our congregation, a
part of the church."
- Congregational Pastor
Depending upon theirphilosophies,
some faiths provide a welcoming at-
mosphere to homosexuals. Yet this
decision often comes after much dis-
cussion within the congregation.
Rohde said he feels
his church provides an
"open and affirming"
ministry to homosexuals.
"Oneof theprinciples
behind our church is each
congregation can make
their own decision,"
Rohde said. "We are open
to homosexuals being a
part of our congregation,
a part of the church."
Virginia Peacock,
chaplain of Canterbury.
House, said she felt the
Episcopal church has a
similar attitude. Canter-
bury House is an Episco-
pal campus ministry.
"Our ministry for
years at this campus has
been very supportive of
the gay and lesbian com-
munity," Peacock said.
"The Episcopalian
church stresses a life that
attempts to see Christ in
all persons."
Rabbi Robert
Dobrusin of the Beth Is-
rael Congregation said he
felt the Jewish religion
encourages and respects
diversity within its com-
munity.
"We're talking about
human beings who have
spiritual and communal
needs as other Jews do,"
Dobrusin said. "There
has to be a balance in
accepting the obligations
of the laws of the Torah
and letting those laws re-
spond to contemporary
reality."
As a result, Beth Is-
rael has welcomed gay
and lesbian Jews into the
congregation. But this
decision came aboutonly
after months of discus-
sion and debate within
the community.
"Homosexual acts are
seen as an abomination
in the Torah," Dobrusin
said. "If aperson takes an
approach that the Torah
is the Word of God and
never can be changed,
then your decision is
made."
"I was accepted, but I
didn't feel comfortable.
It's very heterosexual in
temple."

-Jewish Lesbian
Some homosexuals have found that
they must choose between their faith
and their sexuality when they accept
religious texts or teachings as true.
Because of this, many bisexuals, gay
men, and lesbians resist or reject their
religions entirely.
University faculty member
Maurice Adib said he was raised Catho-
lic, but considers himself an atheist
now. His decision was not a result of
his sexuality, but from "observing we
don't need that myth anymore.
"I used to be very much a Bible-
believer, but it gets a bit boring. It's
always the same arguments and
counter-arguments," Adib said.
Adib added that he does not think
people can condemn homosexuality
based on ancient proverbs found in the
Bible.
"The same chapter that mentions
homosexuality as a sin forbids mixing
twntvnesoftextiles.-.vn cn't weair

didn't feel very comfortable. It's very
heterosexual in temple."
Bulkin said her mother, who is also
a lesbian, struggled with her religion
asaresultof herhomosexuality. "She's
always been culturally Jewish, but in
practice she let go of that for a long
time. She took a different path."
University staff member Kathryn
Clements, a member of the United
Church of Christ, said she felt her
sexuality put her in exile from reli-
gion.
"Many of the predominant images
of the church is either anti-gay, les-
bian, or bisexual or very pro-hetero-
sexual," Clements said.
Clements said as she was coming
out as a lesbian, she thought she had to
give up her Christianity. "I thought it

asking a congregation to have gays
and lesbians in their church," John
said.
University staff member Ann Davis
attends Northside Presbyterian
Church, which welcomes homosexu-
als into its congregation through the
Morelight program.
"Morelight churches try to make it
easier for gay and lesbian people to
fully participate in church activities,"
Davis said. "They're trying to make
changes in the hierarchy found in most
churches."
Davis stopped attending church
while she was in college and never
thought to go back until she found
More light. "I never really lost my faith
or felt my lesbianism was a contradic-
tion to Christianity or God. I went

U U

act is."
Walters started the ordination pro-
cess in 1991 and said she has already
gone through many of the steps to
becoming a full minister.
"For me, it has not been a particu-
larly violent process. I've had good
support frommy local church," Walters
said. "They are more concerned with
ordaining good people who are com-
petent. Your sexual orientation has
nothing to do with that.
"If I am ordained, there will prob-
ably be much more controversy. The
church legitimizes homosexual rela-
tionships by ordaining me," Walters
said. "Some people find it very threat-
ening"
"I spent years desperately
trying to
change. I really
believed it was a
matter of my
faith. I faked it
and faked it
until found out I
couldn't make
it."
- Homosexual
who took part in
an Ex-Gay
Minstry
Many homosexuals
still question religion and
their place within it. In
fact, counselors find that
homosexuals often ask
for advice on how to deal
with a faith that may not
accept their lifestyle.
"I counsel a lot of
young people who find
their sexual orientation
is gay or lesbian and ex-
perience discrimination
from the religious tradi-
tion of which they are a
part," Atwood said. "You
can imagine the internal
violence when their reli-
gious community con-
demns (a homosexual's)
fundamental identity."
Lesbian Gay Male
Programs Office coun-
selor Jim Toy said many
people have a fear of
coming out as homo-
sexual because their reli-
gion may reject them.
"Some people want
to change from gay to
straightso they won't get
kicked out. I can help
people change their be-
havior, but not their ori-
entation," Toy said.
Toy does refer people
to groups like "Homo-
sexuals Anonymous" or
"Ex-Gay Ministries" that
claim they can change a
person's sexuality from
homosexual to hetero-
sexual.
Second-year Social
Work graduate student
Craig Kukak took part in an Ex-Gay
Ministry for 16 years.
"I spent years desperately trying to
change. I really believed it was a mat-
ter of my faith," Kukak said. "I faked
it and faked it until found out I couldn't
make it."

Kukak left the ministry three years
ago and does not currently practice.
organized religion. "For a time Ineeded
to become a recluse with my faith and
see what the Bible says. I don't think
God would play games or manipulate
us," he said.
"I'm skeptical about religion now.
In a sense, I'm kind of fortunate to go
through what I've gone through be-
cause I don't buy whatever people tell
me about God. I've got to go deeper,"
Kukak said.
"They sincerely think they are do-
ing the right thing and following God,
but they're sincerely wrong. I have
been through that struggle," Kukak
added.
"The Bible pretty
unequivocally says that
homosexuality is a sin....
If you have sin, then you
cannot go to God because
. _ . e _ .L.,a__~

press confusion over the way their
religions treat bisexuals, gay men and
lesbians. It is an issue all people must
face, regardless of their religious views.
RC sophomore Scott Horstein said
he found it interesting that the Bible
could be read in so many different
ways, depending on a person's de-
nominations.
"People try to legitimize their stand
basedon what they read in the Bible. It
seems to be a repository of morality
for many people," Horstein said. "For
me, the Bible doesn'thold that author-
ity." T
Fritz Kramp, a first-year engineer-
ing student, said his Christianity de-
cides how he feels about homosexual-
ity.
"The Bible pretty unequivocally
says that homosexuality is a sin.... If
you have sin, then you cannot go to
God because he's sinless, holy,'
Kramp said. "It's a separation from
God."
LSA senior Lisa Hinterman said
she was taught by her family to believe
in herself, not what her religion says.
"I think it's narrow-minded to take
one passage of a text as support or
negation of one type of people,"
Hinterman said. "I wish people
wouldn't persecute homosexuals be-
cause of the Bible."
Hinterman said she felt religion
has been homophobic for a long time,
making it harder for homosexuals to
practice their faith.
"Homosexuality has just come out
in the open. I think it will take a long
time to change. You're baptized and
raised that way your whole life and
told homosexuality is wrong;"
Hinterman added.
Karen Fashoway, LSA sophomore,
has attended Catholic schools for her
entire education and said she was never
taught anything about homosexuality.
"I don't remember anything com-
ing up in classes whatsoever. Any-
thing Iheard about homosexuality was
people making jokes about it"
Fashoway said. "People would make
degrading comments about my high
school because it was an all-girls school
-either we're all lesbians or we're all
going to be nuns."
RC junior Jason Baluyut said his
Methodist faith does not affect his
stand on homosexuality.
"I don't care what God says,
Baluyut said. "I believe in human
rights."
"God doesn't play cruel
jokes. We are equal and
our love is equal."
- Homosexual Quaker
getting married within his
religion
While everyone seems to have ab
opinion on religion and homosexua
ity, some stances are tempered by the
strong emotions attached to faiths.
For the religious, the bottommline is
a supreme being. Regardless of a
person's choice of deity, religion
teaches to love. Religion teaches to
respect life. Religion teaches kind-
ness.
As some religions accept homo-
sexual marriage within their faith, the
process of marriage can even make a
person's faith deeper.
Fourth-year graduate student
Charley Sullivan and his fiance will be
getting married in June within the

Quaker religion. Sullivan said being
homosexual has made his religion
stronger.
"My coming to terms with my ho-
mosexuality has been a process of
faith. God created in me a capacity to
love and that love is whole and holy,"
Sullivan said. "That love is directed to
men.
The Quaker faith accepts that all
people are equal and all people are of
God, Sullivan said. "God doesn't play
cruel jokes. We are equal and our love
is equal. Love should be there and
should be nurtured."
Sullivan said it has taken six years
for the members of his meeting to
accept the idea of a same-sex mar-
riage.
"Two people are standing aside.
But the majority are behind our indj -
vidual relationship and relationships
like this in general," Sullivan said.
"It's not just about marriage - it's a
recognition that our lives and loves are

f

was an either/or situation. My church
doesn't condemn homosexuality, but
it certainly doesn't condone it," she
added.
"Many homosexuals say
they are disenfranchised
by the church."
- Member of church with a
special homosexual ministry
However, some churches provide
services especially for homosexuals
as alternatives to worship services that
may ignore the needs of the homo-
sexual community.
Huron Valley Community Church
is attended by both heterosexuals and
homosexuals, but tries to create a re-
laxing atmosphere for bisexuals, gay
men and lesbians.
"John," a member of the church
who wished to remain anonymous,
said many homosexuals have a hard
time finding places that are non-threat-
ening to practice their faiths.
"Many homosexuals say they are
disenfranchised by the church," John
said. "But our church is more casual in
ritual and dogma. We provide an at-
mosphere where people can be com-

back out of a strong need. I had forgot
how much support I got in that envi-
ronment," she said.
"The church legitimizes
homosexual
relationships by
ordaining me. Some
people find it very
threatening."
- Open Lesbian Associate
Episcopal Minister
Many religions can accept homo-
sexuality within their faiths or congre-
gations. Yet, controversy re-emerges
when a homosexual tries to become a
part of the clergy.
Jennifer Walters, a graduate stu-
dent at Michigan State University and
open lesbian, is acandidate forordina-
tion in the Episcopal church. Currently,
she is an associate minister at the Epis-
copal Church of the Incarnation, which
is located in Pittsfield Township.
Walters, who has a partner, finds
that her lifestyle opens even more prob-
lems considering the national Episco-
pal church's policy that non-celibate
gays or lesbians should not be or-
t:a 14n.nv--. v .r.hatnrntna 1a.

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