This is not a research report on sexual and relational atrocities nor is it an attempt to promote one expression of sexuality over another. It is a realisation that being heterosexual does not give me superiority over people who identify with an alternate expression of sexuality.
The debate on sexuality seems to be predicated on a belief that “I’m heterosexual and that’s okay” with the accompanying belief that “You’re homosexual (or lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, inter-sex – LGBTI) and that’s not okay.” Foccault argues that such language gives the “I’m okay” party a position of power in the argument and disempowers the “not okay” party. But, if we start from “I’m heterosexual and that’s not okay”, how would this affect the way we approach and debate sexual orientation in society and in Christianity? It seems to me that there are good reasons why I should not adopt the dominant position in this debate by assuming glibly that I’m okay because I’m heterosexual.
I’m heterosexual and that’s not okay because heterosexual males in society and church:
- perpetrate a lot of partner abuse – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual – and, as a result, women are suffering;
- are responsible for far too much paedophilia and children are abused emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally;
- are the prime broadcasters of sexist jokes about women that take away their dignity and women are demeaned;
- continue to prevent gender equality by denying women certain roles and women are discriminated against;
- control the media that promote women, especially young women, as sex objects for the visual, emotional and sexual gratification of heterosexual men;
- are as promiscuous as males of other sexual expressions and undermine the sanctity of committed relationships, spread infection, promote casual sex, hurt wives/partners/girlfriends, and devalue sex;
- are responsible for almost all the hate and prejudice crimes against people of different sexualities that damage the victims physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally and leave them fearful and stressed;
… and therefore I am compelled to conclude that “I’m heterosexual and that’s not okay.”
This is not about the rightness and wrongness of different expressions of sexuality. It is a plea. Particularly to those of us in the church, to drop this divisive, unhelpful and hurtful approach. It is a call to embrace a discourse that might reflect more the way of Jesus who, when confronted with those whom society, and, in particular, religious leaders, had declared not okay, chose to say that they were okay in a discourse with them that was honest about their situation, humble in its exposure of their condition, and loving in its acceptance of them.
What might happen if we say, “I’m heterosexual and that’s not okay and I want to be honest and humble and loving as I engage now with what it means to be a sexual person and follow Jesus and to engage with the experience of those who are of an alternate sexual expression and, especially, with those who are LGBTI and want to follow Jesus”?
This article was written by Incedo member Mal Green and originally published on the Red Letter Christians website in July 2012.