It is not customary that an intelligent person clothes and cares for one part of his body and leaves the rest naked. The intelligent person is solicitous for all its members. Thus it should be with those who are the Lord’s church and body. All those born of God are called into one body and are prepared by love to serve their neighbors. - Menno Simons, 1552
In Biological and Psychological Views, the fifth booklet in the Welcome to Dialogue series, J. Lamar Freed, Carl S. Keener, and Douglas Swartzendruber raise the question of how the church treats one group of members, namely those who are sexual minority persons. Do we reflect on the impact of how we interpret and teach scripture, adopt official statements, choose statements with significance for church membership, and view or use our confession of faith? Do we allow our assumptions about the factors that influence sexual orientation to dictate our prejudices and treatment of sexual minority members within our congregations, thus often leaving them lying “naked” and wounded beside the road?
J. Lamar Freed, a psychologist, notes in his essay, “The Psychological Experience of a Same Sex Orientation” that fear is a distinct feature of the gay/lesbian experience often from an early age. Living with fear for one’s dignity and for one’s life has profound psychological effect. Are we, as a church, consciously or unconsciously feeding those fears or are we ministering the love and compassion of Jesus? Are we prepared by love to serve all of our sons and daughters and neighbors?
In the same vein Carl S. Keener and Douglas E. Swartzendruber, biologists, ask us to consider some of the “judgments” sexual minorities frequently hear: 1) Same-sex orientation is sinful. 2) God hates “homosexuals.” (One young person was seen wearing a T-shirt with the inscription “Jesus hates me, this I know, for the Christians tell me so.”) 3) The AIDS epidemic is God’s judgment on their sinful behavior. Keener and Swartzendruber ask, Would our response be less judgmental if we believed that sexual orientation is not determined by choice? Keener and Swartzendruber, as disciplined, responsible researchers, share significant aspects of the growing knowledge currently available. They help us to reflect on the mysteries and varieties of God’s good and amazing gift of sexuality.