Thank you all for making the time and effort to comment. I’ll respond briefly (briefly to each, but brief answers to each of five individuals x seven questions adds up to many words!).
- Sexual orientation readjustment and sex change surgery. (Amy Grace) Some jurisdictions will not allow any counseling aimed at helping a teen with unwanted same sex attraction to become heterosexually oriented, but teens who want to change their sex are permitted to have surgery to do so. (SmaragdineSon, Arferd Lovemore) Both conditions are real, and troubling for the person involved, so the question stands: Why is one legal, and the other not? Many of the most reputable hospitals, including Johns Hopkins University Hospital, which pioneered sex-change surgery in the 1970s, no longer do this surgery. Research has shown that adults who had received sex-change operations continued to have much the same problems with relationships, work, and emotions as before their sex change. They also found that male infants born with a misconstruction of the genito-urinary tract who were re-engineered as girls were almost never comfortable as females once they became aware of themselves and the world. (T. Mason) I personally know men whose orientation has changed and I have heard the testimonies of others, and the best research confirms that change is possible for some. With God, nothing is impossible. But for many, therapy is not successful, as is the case in other forms of therapy. (James Garcia) I’m sure that in some cases conversion therapy is forced on young people, but in the situations of which I am personally aware this is not the case; the young people themselves are seeking it.
- Rights / sensitivities of transgender and heterosexual. (SmaragdineSon) Your first point is a good one; “courtesy” is probably more accurate than “right.” But the transgendered boy still has a boy’s body. (James Garcia, Arferd Lovemore) There are girls who are consistently late for their gym classes because they choose to use a changing room on the other side of their school in order to avoid this. As for not considering what these transgendered young people go through, have you not read my previous post?
- Risk factor for sexually transmitted infections. (Amy Grace) Yes, anyone (regardless of orientation) having sex is at risk of contracting an STI if their partner has already had sex with someone else, but the risk is exponentially higher in men having sex with men, especially because of their practice of anal sex and the tendency to have sex with multiple partners. (SmaragdineSon) A very good point, this last one, but because of anal sex and other practices specific to men who have sex with men (MSM) the risk is astronomically higher. We do gay teens a huge disservice if we obscure this fact. (T. Mason) The lowest risk factor of all for STIs is monogamous sex between a man and a woman who have had no previous sexual partners. . (James Garcia) Curricula typically refer to “anyone who engages in high risk behaviors” and state that “gender and sexual orientation are irrelevant as they relate to HIV infection” (quotes from one curriculum). A 9- or 10-year-old does get from this the impression that everyone is equally at risk. Yes, the statistics I quoted are from U.S. studies. In Canada, as of 2012, the MSM category is still the leading reported exposure. Only 20.7% of males contract HIV from heterosexual contact, compared to 73.2% of females. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/aids-sida/publication/survreport/2012/dec/index-eng.php In South Africa, men and women are not significantly different. http://www.queensu.ca/samp/sampresources/samppublications/policyseries/policy31.htm Where the proportion of women is higher, and increasing, the women are infected by their only sex partner, their husbands, because of their husbands’ promiscuity. 17/38 million with HIV are women, and 13.5 million of them live in Africa.
- Lasting relationships and fidelity. (Amy Grace, SmaragdineSon, T. Mason, James Garcia, Arferd Lovemore) One large study: 82% of gay men had sex with someone other than their main partner, compared with 26% of men in relationships with women. A study in Norway and Sweden: gay male relationships are 50% more likely to break up than heterosexual marriages. Lesbian relationships in the United States are 167% more likely to break up than heterosexual marriages.
- Celebration of coming out. (Amy Grace) As a celebration of being honest, yes. (SmaragdineSon) In this sense, yes. We should celebrate being honest, and we should have the kind of society in which everyone feels free to be honest about themselves. (T. Mason) What should be celebrated? (James Garcia) True.
- Media coverage of homosexuality and heterosexuality. (Amy Grace, T. Mason, James Garcia) I was thinking of headline news stories. (SmaragdineSon) True!
- Gay and Christian? (Amy Grace) If we take God’s Word seriously, we should be concerned about others’ relationship to God: “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3), “Go and make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19). (SmaragdineSon, T. Mason) The answer depends on how you define the terms “gay” and “Christian. (James Garcia) Yes, all sins are forgivable, and the Apostle Paul makes very clear in Romans 1 that homosexual behavior is only one of many sins. The issue is, in what direction are you going? Have you turned away from your sinful behaviour toward obedience to God’s commands? Or are you living your way, in defiance of his commands?
The bottom line is that we should answer these questions according to what has been proven by research in all areas — sociology, psychology, medicine, philosophy, and human experience – to be best for the health of the individual and of society. And, ultimately, what the Bible teaches. With the Joshua of the Old Testament, we say, “Choose this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)