Wesleyan Practice & Homosexual Practice

by Dr. Ralph Blair

This booklet is a slightly expanded version of an address delivered by Dr. Blair at the Annual Michigan Area United Methodist Pastor’s School, August 22, 1983 on the campus of Ferris State College in Big Rapids, Michigan. Dr. Blair’s address followed one by Dr. Robert Lyon, Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary. Dr. Lyon had been invited to focus on biblical and theological considerations and Dr. Blair had been invited to focus on clinical and scientific data, though both speakers included other material as well. A question and answer period followed both presentations.

(PDF version available here.)


I suppose that an audience of United Methodist preachers isn’t the very easiest audience to address with much of what I have to say tonight, but I guess that there are preachers of other denominations (unnamed) with whom I might have an even harder time. In spite of all the seeming openness about sex today, we all, including clergy, have a certain uncomfortable feeling about it. And there is even more uncomfortableness about homosexuality. Even though the Bible leads the way in our thinking of God as the great Cosmic Lover, no less than John Wesley himself felt a sort of homophobic squeamishness over Charles’ phrasing: “Jesus, Lover of my soul, Let me to thy bosom fly.” [1] So I thank you for this opportunity to “calmly consider”—as Wesley might have put it again [2]—some material on homosexuality.

I’m tempted to try to win you over by adopting the strategy Thomas Coke used in another controversy. Your first American bishop reported having “found out a method of delivering [his testimony against slavery] without much offense, or at least without causing a tumult.” His tactic was this: “by first addressing the negroes in a very pathetic manner on the duty of servants to masters, … the whites will receive quietly what I have to say to them.” [3] As there are not very many openly gay people here this evening, however, I cannot really begin by “first addressing the homosexuals in a very pathetic manner.” I assure you, though, that when I’m speaking before openly gay groups, I’ve been known to come down hard against self-destructive patterns of what too often parades for homosexuality per se in some gay lifestyles, especially those of some urban gay males. [4]

Need it be said here that what I’m supporting is not every expression of homosexuality anymore than what most of you support is every expression of heterosexuality? I had hoped not. But apparently it does need to be said, in view of the negative caricature of all so-called “pro-homosexual” advocates painted by the first speaker [Robert Lyon of Asbury Seminary]. Need it be said here that what I support is not every expression of every homosexual anymore than what most of you support is every expression of every heterosexual? Sadly, it seems that I do need to say that I don’t support every expression of every homosexual. May I say, too, that I’m not in favor of the ancient forms of homosexuality known to the Apostle Paul, e.g., rape, cultic prostitution, “call boy” prostitution, and the inequalities of Roman and Greek master-slave pederasty. [5] There are some types of contemporary same-sex expression such as promiscuity, prostitution, and so-called “value-free” gay pride rhetoric that I don’t support any more than you support some types of heterosexual expression such as promiscuity, prostitution, “kiddieporn,” sex with minors, and so-called “value-free” open marriage. Neither you nor I want to be identified with all homosexualities or all heterosexualities any more than we want to be identified with all expressions of Christianity, be it Donald Wildmon’s, Jimmy Swaggart’s, or Mary Baker Eddy’s. I no more support the silly lesbian separatism of a Sally Gearhart than you support the stupid racial separatism of a Bob Jones. I am no more to be confused with advocating the gay est delusions of a David Goodstein than you are probably to be confused with the straight est delusions of a Werner Erhard. When “Gay is Good” becomes “Gay is God,” I protest just as I do when, failing to see the implications of the incarnation, others fail to see that “God is Gay” as well as God is all the rest of what we are, “yet without sin.”

How many left-handed people do we have here tonight? If this is a normal group of people—and although I’m a Presbyterian, I believe that Methodists are that normal—ten percent of you should have raised your hands. [6] Now even though you southpaws still do have to put up with all of the nuisances of a world dominated by the preferences of its 90% right-handed population, nobody was afraid that tonight, if he or she raised a hand as a lefty it would be an admission of witchcraft punishable by death. In the past you would have risked being put to death.

If I were to ask those of you who are homosexual to raise your hands, I doubt that the roughly ten percent of you who are homosexual would raise your hands. Ten percent of you can be counted on to be homosexual—that is, if this is a normal group of people, and Methodists, I’m sure, are that normal, too. But unlike the lefties who are no longer persecuted, homosexuals are still victims of persecution in a world dominated by the misinformation, fears, and preferences of its 90% heterosexual population.

Some of you may be thinking that there is really no analogy here between left-handedness and homosexuality. But listen, the analogy is curiously on target. It’s on target in terms of relative percentages of the population involved (roughly 10% to 90%) though strictly speaking, if there is a difference it is that the proportion of gay to straight is even larger than that of lefty to righty. But suffice it to say that as often as you encounter left-handed people, you encounter gay people—not necessarily the same people, but as often (you lefties or those sitting beside you may be happy to hear). The analogy is on target in terms of male-female ratios: probably twice as many men as women are involved in both anomalies. It’s on target in terms of the fact that the percentage of exclusivity in humans (roughly 10% to 90%) in both phenomena is paralleled in the lower animals with a more evenly divided ambidextrousness and a more evenly distributed ambisexuality among the lower animals. It is on target in terms of fundamentalists’ differential explanation for immunity problems among left-handed people and gay victims of AIDS. Though fundamentalists say that gays are getting AIDS as God’s punishment, nobody today suggests that the almost three times greater risk of immunity disease among left-handed people as over against right-handed folk is God’s punishment for left-handedness. It’s on target in terms of the probable etiologically significant genetic factors in both cases. Researchers on left-handedness have concluded that testosterone, the hormone responsible for the main differences between the sexes, may, at high levels, slow growth of the left brain, allowing the right brain more power in its normal control over the left hand. As we’ll see, no theory on the etiology of homosexuality is complete without a recognition of the basic role played by prenatal genetics. The analogy is on target in terms of the myths that developed about left-handed people and gay people (e.g., that they are cursed—witchcraft, heresy, and homosexuality often being interchangeable accusations). It’s on target in terms of the persecution that followed from the negative myths. It’s on target in terms of the dominant society’s attempt to stamp out both left-handedness and homosexuality—first by force, then by psychological persuasion, and finally giving up on trying to get people to change. It’s on target in terms of the damage done to those who tried to change, to become more “normal,” and who failed to do so. It’s on target even in terms of shared celebrities, e.g., Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, and we both have more than our share of musicians.

We could go on with the analogy, but I want simply to draw your attention to the existence of the analogy between the similarities of a formerly persecuted minority that today stirs nobody’s anger and a presently persecuted minority that today stirs almost everyone’s adrenalin, if not anger. It’s important for perspective that we see how easy it would be to continue to treat left-handedness as we once did, if we did not take seriously a more sophisticated understanding, and how easy it would be to treat homosexuality in a different way than we do, if only we were to take seriously a more sophisticated understanding.

For such an improved perspective, there is no better teacher than history. Somewhere C. S. Lewis said that what we Christians need to do to keep a better perspective on things is to open windows to “the clean sea-breeze of the centuries.” We Protestants in the Christian family are especially prone to losing contact with Christian tradition as though the only wisdom available is that found in the Sunday Schools of our childhood or the latest fads of our seminary classrooms. Dean Inge reminded an earlier generation that “If you marry the Spirit of your own generation you will be a widow in the next.” [7] In May, Time magazine’s Religion section contained an instructively ironic juxtaposition of news items. [8] The first was the story of the relatively new and predominantly gay Metropolitan Community Church and its struggles for acceptance into the establishment National Council of Churches. The second was the story of the Roman Catholic Church and its embarrassment over its exclusion and condemnation of Galileo for “‘expressly contradict[ing] the doctrines of Holy Scripture in many places, both according to their literal meaning’ and the common interpretation of the early Church Fathers.” The Pope (John Paul II) now says, with some understatement: “The church learns by experience and reflection, and it now understands better the meaning that must be given to freedom of research. We recognize that [Galileo] suffered from certain bodies of the church.” Well, one wonders if it will take several centuries for the church to see the suffering of gay people at the hands of the “inexperienced” church? How long will it take to acknowledge “freedom of research” when it comes to homosexuality? When will we learn from history and the excellent research of contemporary scholars (such as Marten Woudstra on the Old Testament, Robin Scroggs on the New Testament, John Boswell on church history, and John Money, Martin Weinberg, and others in the science of sexology) that we have no valid biblical, theological, or scientific reason to continue to exclude and condemn homosexuals today as though they, too, “expressly contradict the doctrines of Holy Scripture … and the common interpretation of the early Church Fathers” and were meant to be cast outside the Kingdom of God?

The planners of this Pastors’ School well recognize that United Methodists must tackle homosexuality from biblical, theological, scientific, historical, legal, clinical and pastoral angles. I see that you will be considering all of these in the next two days. I think that such an integrated approach is the most helpful. But the integration itself is not enough to insure a good understanding of the issues, for the parts may be flawed and thus the whole will be flawed as well. I hope that during this Pastors’ School you get better information than was given in another Methodist undertaking that appeared to be, on the surface, a well-integrated one. I’d like us to look together at that effort which resulted in the book, What You Should Know About Homosexuality, edited by Charles Keysor while he was yet a United Methodist. [9]

As you know, Keysor was the editor of the very conservative Good News magazine. The other authors, too, are, or perhaps now were associated with the Good News Movement,—or at least they were in sympathy with it. According to the Foreword, “the most common response today” to homosexuality “is confusion.” [10] This book added significantly to the confusion. Keysor sets the tone with the false alarm that “Demands … are being made that people must be free to choose whichever sexual orientation they prefer” and he objects to the idea that “Being homosexual … is no more a matter of right and wrong than being blue-eyed or left-handed.” [11] But at least one author in the Keysor book, William McKain, correctly affirms: “Most homosexuals seem to have been passive recipients of their orientation … without the involvement of their own conscious processing” [12] and another author in the book, John Oswalt, rightly observes that nowhere “in Scripture are persons said to be ‘bad’ because they feel an attraction to a person of the same sex.” [13]

In a chapter called “Two Testimonies,” an anonymous “ex-gay” woman testifies: “I had committed my life to Christ when I was nine” and went on to become a lesbian. [15] Though William Wilson, a psychiatrist, claims in his chapter that “Christian faith … can instantaneously reorient the person” (however, he gives no evidence of this), the “ex-gay” woman says that “my deliverance wasn’t instantaneous.” [16] She speaks of it, not as reorientation at all, but as non-“practice.” [17] So does the “ex-gay” man, so-called. [18] Keysor includes only these two “ex-gay” testimonies, amounting to merely contrived celibacy, even though he says that he has been in “the homosexual controversy” since 1973 and one would expect that he was presenting his best evidence. [19] Without documentation, Wilson adds to the confusion by saying that “One can find in Christian literature numerous instances of reorientation of sexual object choice as a result of conversion” and that “there are thousands of others.” [20] But the two skimpy testimonies for non-reorientation stand as testimony to the lack of reorientation evidence. More honestly, McKain admits: “Repentance and conversion to Jesus Christ does not normally free one from homosexual urges. The homosexual orientation remains and may continue to plague the Christian homosexual person” whom, McKain says, must therefore “live a celibate life.” [21] Interestingly, Wilson, the psychiatrist, admits that there is “extraordinary resistance of homosexuality to psychiatric intervention” and so he recommends Christian conversion as a remedy while McKain, the chaplain, admits that repentance and conversion do not produce a remedy so he recommends the “help of a qualified therapist.”

Wilson falsely states, and McKain only partly corrects, that the American Psychiatric Association revision on homosexuality “was a result of a vote of the members of the organization.” [22] This is a commonly-held falsehood but it is inexcusable when said by a psychiatrist who should know better. As Judd Marmor, who was the president of the APA when the revision was made, has explained: “The issue was studied for more than a year by a special task force which carefully evaluated all of the available scientific evidence before making its recommendations to the board of trustees of the APA. It was on this basis that the board voted unanimously (with two abstentions) to accept the task force’s recommendations. The vote among the membership of the APA,” Marmor points out, “was initiated by opponents of the board’s decision, which was upheld by a substantial majority of the voting membership.” [23] The APA decision to drop homosexuality as a category of mental disorder was made on the same basis as the decision to include or exclude anything. Whether or not the condition, in its full-blown manifestation, regularly interfered with social effectiveness and was regularly associated with subjective distress, constituted the two-fold criterion of the scientific decision in every case,—not only the case of homosexuality. Wilson again falsely says that the APA revision on homosexuality was not based “on new scientific evidence, for there was none,” he says. Yet he cites new scientific evidence confirming the inability of psychiatry to change homosexual orientation and studies confirming the psychosocial health of “most homosexuals.” [24]

Oswalt and J. Harold Greenlee, on the Bible, focus on the creation of what Greenlee calls “two sexes, no more and no less.” [25] Such atavistic argument for absolute dichotomies is beside the point. Although the multi-stage process of genetic sex differentiation (including the two postnatal events of sex of assignment and of rearing), chromosomal anomalies, hermaphroditism—in which a person is born with both an active testis and an active ovary—and other matters are beyond the scope of a limited discussion of homosexuality, especially in chapters by Bible teachers, nonetheless they here try to do what they should know better than to try to do. They try to turn the strophic structure of the epic tradition of Genesis, with its poetic features into a biological/psychological textbook. [26] External morphological sex is not sexual orientation. The perceived difference between male and female is exactly what allows for homosexuality as well as heterosexuality. Oswalt’s silly attack on “unisex” again misses the point, since homosexuals no less than heterosexuals, prize masculinity or femininity and not masculinity and femininity, for sexual-affectional complementarity. [27] And, as with heterosexuals, so with homosexuals, that complementarity is not addressed by just any male or female. Greenlee disregards the examples of Jesus and Paul, to name only two who, if Greenlee is right, did not “find fulfillment” as persons because they failed to engage in a male-female marriage and thus were each only what he calls “a half.” [28] Oswalt and Greenlee also make reproduction a necessary purpose of all sex, evidently unaware of the third of all American wives, ages 15-44,—not to mention older wives—who are physically unable to have children. And what about all the sterile husbands?

Graduate student David Bundy fails to interact with any contemporary scholar who has presented evidence from church history that is contrary to that which Bundy offers and, surprisingly, he seems even unaware of contrary literature, saying inaccurately that church history resources have been “little used.” [29] He misunderstands the historically-necessary ignorance of the church fathers concerning homosexual orientation and homosexual romantic love as we understand these phenomena today. He tries to interlock snatches of patristic commentary with modern paraphrases using the current term “homosexual,” with all that the present variety of lifestyles implies.

None of the authors quotes Wesley himself as having wondered why in the world the malakoi of I Corinthians 6, whom Wesley called “these good-natured, harmless people,” were to be so taken to task by Paul. [30]

The book includes an obligatory anti-gay civil rights chapter by William Proctor, editor of The Born-Again Christian Catalog.

What You Should Know About Homosexuality turns out to be a book about what these Methodist authors did not know about homosexuality. Unfortunately, their readers also will still not know about homosexuality and sadly, they probably will not know that they still don’t know.

Scientific Knowledge Base

Well, what can we know scientifically, clinically, about homosexuality and homosexuals today? What is homosexuality? What is a homosexual?

Marmor defines a homosexual as one “who is motivated in adult life by a definite preferential erotic attraction to members of the same sex and who usually (but not necessarily) engages in overt sexual relations with them.” [31] Johns Hopkins medical psychologist John Money adds that “In true homosexual pair-bonding, the defining characteristic is unyielding inability to fall in love with an opposite, but not same sex partner.” [32]

I’ve indicated how very important it is for all of us to keep in mind that when we speak of homosexuals we are speaking of as wide a variety of individuals as when we speak of heterosexuals. Imagine how ignorant of someone you would be if all you knew about her was that she was heterosexual. Imagine how little someone would know about you if all she knew was that you are a heterosexual. As Alan Bell and Martin Weinberg note in the very last sentences of the body of their Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women: “It must also be remembered that even a particular type of homosexual is never entirely like others categorized in the same way, much less like those whose lifestyles barely resemble his or her own. And while the present study has taken a step forward in its delineation of types of homosexuals, it too fails to capture the full diversity that must be understood if society is ever fully to respect, and ever to appreciate, the way in which individual homosexual men and women live their lives.” [33]

What seems to cause someone to develop these erotic attractions and the ability to fall in love with a same-sex partner instead of a person of the other sex? Back in 1972, when I published my review of the etiological and treatment literature on homosexuality, (material based in my doctoral dissertation research), I prefaced what I reported by saying that if anyone wanted to know just exactly what caused homosexuality, that person would not be able to find out from reading my review of the literature. [34] Incidently, nobody knows what causes heterosexuality, either. But we do know that the causes of either heterosexuality or homosexuality are multiple and are biological as well as environmental. Back at that same time, John Money and Anke Ehrhardt wrote: “Permanent or exclusive homosexuality will most likely be eventually explained as the product of interaction between prenatal and postnatal determinants.” [35] Ten years later, Michael Ruse, who teaches the philosophy of science at Guelph University, reviewed the literature on the etiology of homosexuality and concluded: “That the genes do play some role in homosexuality seems to be almost certain, that the environment plays some role in homosexuality seems just as certain, but we are still a long way from sorting out the respective components. … Modern genetic thinking—specifically, genetic thinking about homosexuality—emphasizes that it is not the genes alone that cause physical characteristics, including social behavioral characteristics. Rather, the genes in conjunction with the environment cause these characteristics.” I think that Ruse is quite correct in concluding that: “the causes of homosexuality point to a more subtle relationship between the biological and social sciences than conventional philosophy might lead one to expect.” [36] Here again, you see, is the wholistic answer. The more we learn, the more we know that the continued distinction between nature and nurture is, at best, an artificial one. Worse than being merely artificial, the distinction maintained can hinder our better understanding and appreciation of the complexity of human behavior.

Clinically or sociologically, can we say anything about whether or not homosexuality is pathological? Is it unnatural, as some fundamentalists say it is?

If it is pathological, at least we cannot conclude that from comparison testing with heterosexuals, for as psychologist Bernard F. Riess reports, recent findings indicate that “there are no psychological test techniques which successfully separate homosexual men and women from heterosexual comparisons.” [37] I found this to be true ten years earlier when I published my Homosexuality and Psychometric Assessment. [38]

A further word, now, on the controversy over the APA revision which was made only more confusing to many Methodists through the inaccuracies in the Keysor book. According to Judd Marmor, who, as I’ve said, was president of the APA during the period under discussion, “In DSM-I, the first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, homosexuality was listed under the category of ‘psychopathic personality with pathological sexuality.’ A decade or so later, in DSM-II, it was categorized as a ‘sociopathic personality disturbance’ until it was removed from this category by the APA’s December 1973 decision.” [39] That decision of the APA’s board of trustees was based on extensive scientific research of a special task force which studied the research on homosexuality, as we’ve noted earlier. [40] Marmor explains that “In the new DSM-III homosexuality per se is not listed as a mental disturbance, but there is a category called ‘egodystonic homosexuality’ referring to homosexuals who are unhappy with their homosexual object choice and seek help to change it. There is no doubt that such individuals exist, but, in my opinion,” says Marmor, “to create a separate category for them still constitutes a relic of ancient prejudice and a tendency to deal with them differently from heterosexuals.” Marmor speaks of those who could be called egodystonic celibates or egodystonic divorced, and we might add that we know one or two “egodystonic Methodists” (such as Charles Keysor) but, as Marmor recognizes, “no one would think of creating separate diagnostic categories for such reactions.” [41] Actually, the story of the so-called egodystonic homosexual is more truly the story of the heterosexuals’ homophobia which has been introjected by homosexuals as unprepared for homosexuality as are most heterosexuals. As such, nothing short of a change in interpretation of homosexuality will be of any real use to either the homophobic egodystonic homosexual or his homophobic heterosexual neighbor.

To say that homosexual behavior is contrary to the biological norm and therefore “unnatural” is to show ignorance of biology. It is the exclusively heterosexual human being as well as the exclusively homosexual human being that is “unnatural” in terms of biological norms in nature, for as Marmor says, “all lower animals, including infrahuman primates, … display obvious patterns of homosexual behavior” along with the heterosexual. As University of Wyoming zoologist R. H. Denniston II has testified: homosexual behavior “occurs in every type of animal that has been studied.” [43]

Understanding the complexity and the primacy of a person’s naturally-developed and involuntary sexual arousal patterns forms the basis for our reasonable expectations of what can and cannot be done about these patterns. According to Money and Ehrhardt: “certain sexually dimorphic traits or dispositions are laid down in the brain before birth which may facilitate [sexual orientation]. The primary origins … lie in the developmental period of a child’s life after birth, particularly during the years of late infancy and early childhood, when gender identity differentiation is being established. … Once the pattern is established in the early development years, however, it is remarkably tenacious. The hormones of puberty bring it into full expression.” [44]

Implications for so-called treatment on the basis of all of this are further expounded by Money when he later writes: “There has always been in psychology in general, and in the specialty of sex differences, a hidden doctrine that if something is acquired or learned, it is easy to shed. Yet this doctrine is no more true in psychology than in embryology or infectious disease. Everything that is acquired, if it affects behavior and mental life, does so because first of all it affects the brain and its workings. There is a biology of learning and memory. Everything that is learned is encoded in the human brain, if it is learned at all. It is, therefore, as much a part of biology as any workings of the human brain that are programed-in not by learning, but by, say, genetics, or toxins, or experimentally manipulated neurotransmitters.” [45]

Emphasis on the biology of homosexuality must not be taken as a fatal reductionism of the complexities of interpersonal relationship that homosexuality is really all about. Some “pro-gay” advocates do fall into reductionism and so do some “anti-gay” advocates who see everything as anatomy. Neither seems aware that fundamental presuppositional thinking interprets all chemistry or anatomy. But surely we must appreciate that biology sets limits within which all proposed remedies must operate. [46]


Christians who think that homosexual behavior as such is sinful want homosexuals to change and become heterosexuals. Failing that,—and they always do,—they want them to be celibate. As we have said, there is a very suspicious tendency for such Christians in the psychological fields to urge homosexuals to seek spiritual help and there is a very suspicious tendency for those in the religious field to urge homosexuals to seek psychological help. This suggests that they all know that they themselves do not have a viable answer for the homosexual so far as orientation change is concerned. Thus, Presbyterian clergymen Don Williams and Richard Lovelace both advocate professional psychotherapy just as we saw earlier that the clergyman did in the Keysor book. [47] And, just as the psychiatrist in that book did, other Christian psychiatrists such as E. Mansell Pattison (and his wife) and Enos D. Martin (and his wife) recommend spiritual remedies. [48] Joining the Pattisons and the Martins in acknowledging the inability of psychotherapy to change homosexuals into heterosexuals, but doubting also the efficacy of spiritual measures to change homosexuality to heterosexuality, Christian psychiatrists such as Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse and John White bluntly admit that enforced celibacy must be the answer.[49] Barnhouse, however, does say that celibacy “is not possible for everyone without crippling them in other ways” and she grants that “it is unreasonable and cruel to demand it.” [50] By the way, have you ever noticed how those who are quick to label homosexual behavior “unnatural” are slow to label celibacy “unnatural”—in heterosexuals.

Today, celibacy is said to be the answer to homosexuality by more and more Christians who once thumped the exaggerated claims of the so-called “ex-gay” movement. In effect, celibacy is exactly what is being promoted as the answer to homosexuality within the United Methodist Church. According to David J. Lawson, chair of the denomination’s legislative committee of the Division of Ordained Ministry, so-called “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” are the ones who should not be ordained. [51] But we should know better than to speak of “practicing” homosexuals as over against people thought of as “non-practicing” homosexuals. To talk this way is to display ignorance of the scientific, biblical, and theological literature and a remarkable naivete of human sexual experience. Sexuality is, of course, more than genitalizing. But it is genitalizing that the United Methodists have in mind when they refer to “practicing homosexuals.” They sound as simplistic as fundamentalist teen-agers. It is really only hypocrisy or ignorance which demands that homosexuals abstain from juxtapositioning nerve endings in order to redeem themselves sexually.

What these advocates of enforced celibacy don’t seem to realize is that, as Christian ethicist James B. Nelson notes: “The celibate is still ‘a sexual celibate’ for whom her or his positively affirmed sexuality, while not genitally expressed with another, is the grounding of emotional richness and interpersonal intimacy.” [52] It is the intimacy that homosexuals desire with a person of the same sex. It is such non-genital sexuality that comprises the vast majority of the gay person’s sexual life. So-called “ex-gays” in the so-called “ex-gay” movement continue to live with their lovers (non-genitally, I don’t doubt) or to form essentially homosexual pair-bondings that remain, I don’t doubt, non-genital. It is not at all unusual for gay men in intimate relationships to refrain from genitalizing with each other. Since it is not unusual, given our sex-negative culture, for such genitalizing to be virtually impossible, psychologically, between secular gays, it is also what can be expected between religious and especially homophobic gays. The same thing happens, of course, in heterosexual relationships. [53]

Christians will not begin to grasp the thoroughgoing nature of sexuality until we drop such silly categories as “practicing” and “non-practicing” homosexuals. When is one “practicing” and when is one not “practicing?” Do we really believe that the question has to do with dermal nerve ending stimulation? What is one “practicing” and what is one not “practicing?” Are homosexuals today practicing what Paul had in mind? Are homosexuals today practicing what was practiced in Old Testament times? How is one practicing whatever it is he or she is said to be practicing? Is the “how” of it of any importance? Is the “who” and the “whom” of any importance? What about the “why?”

Additionally, we must recognize with Albert C. Outler that mere “suppression … [and] rigid self-control … [takes] its toll in the ‘deadness’ and the ‘lack of joy or peace’” that even the early John Wesley experienced and that anyone else who attempts such prolonged and enforced unnatural celibacy can expect to experience. [54]

But that enforced celibacy is cruel, as Barnhouse admits it is, and that enforced celibacy is still sexual, as Nelson points out, and that, as Outler notes of the young Wesley, suppression is a deadness without joy and peace does not seem to deter heterosexual preachers from trying to load on to others burdens which they do not bear themselves. [Cf. Luke 11:46] Anything is to be endured, it seems, so long as one does not “practice” homosexual genital acts, so long as there is no juxtaposition of dermal nerve endings. These preachers seem not to appreciate a danger pointed out by the practical John Wesley when he said in 1771: “The most prevailing fault among the Methodists is to be too outward in religion. We are continually forgetting,” he said, “that the kingdom of God is within us and that our fundamental principle is, We are saved by faith, producing all inward holiness, not by works, by any externals whatever.” [55] Preachers are quick to strap chastity belts on others, seemingly oblivious or unconcerned about the conflicts smoldering in the secret chambers of a lonely heart.

Even John Wesley himself often spoke and wrote of the desirability of celibacy—for others. He addressed the single men of the Moorsfields Society on the advantages of the single life—“only a few days before the ceremony” in which he married Molly Vazeille, after having lost out in his romantic attractions to other women on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. [56]

Enforced celibacy doesn’t work for us. Why do we say it would work for others? Enforced celibacy is not what we desire for ourselves. Why do we desire it for others? Enforced change of sexual orientation doesn’t work for us. Why do we say it should work for others? Enforced change of sexual orientation is not what we desire for ourselves. Why do we desire it for others? What works for heterosexuals is a good integration of sexuality into the rest of life, in a fulfilling monogamous partnership. Why should we be so surprised when we find that the best research shows that the same thing works for homosexuals that works for heterosexuals? Why is it so hard for us to believe that a homosexual, too, desires a committed significant relationship with the person with whom he or she is in love? After lengthy face-to-face interviews with 1,500 men and women in what became the most widely ranging ethnographic and psychosocial study conducted to date on the lives of homosexuals. Bell and Weinberg of the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University concluded that “both the men and the women [in the ‘Close-Coupleds’ category] were more self-accepting and less depressed or lonely than any of the others [i.e., ‘Open-Coupleds,’ ‘Functionals, ‘Dysfunctionals,’ and ‘Asexuals’], and they were the happiest of all. … It is the Close-Coupled men and women who have made the best adjustment” to their homosexual orientation. [57] This should not be surprising to us, for isn’t the same true for heterosexuals?

A Good Methodist Response: Praxis

Well, what is a good Methodist to do with all of this information on homosexuality and homosexuals? A good Methodist doesn’t peer down from an ivory tower to preach moralisms at others, does she? I hear that a good Methodist gets on a horse and travels out among the people. A good Methodist rubs shoulders with the people, and there she finds out what it means to love others as one loves self. It is there that you find out what it means to practice love. There you discover what practicality is all about. Good Methodists are not like so many of us Presbyterians who can get so bogged down in trying to be so pristine in systematic theology and who, for the sake of “pure doctrine,” can lose sight of the pure practice of “doing unto others as we’d want them to do unto us.” We all would do well to hear Wesley say as he did in A Plain Account of the People Called Methodists, that the very first of the points he was trying to get across to Christians was this: that “orthodoxy or right opinions is at best but a very slender part of religion.” In his Character of a Methodist, you’ll recall that Wesley said that “The distinguishing marks of a Methodist are not … opinions of any sort. … All these are quite wide of the point … We think and let think … whether or not these secondary opinions are right or wrong. [Rather] … A Methodist is a person who has the love of God in his heart.”

Methodist historian Frederick Norwood, noting that “Methodists were not, in the main, systematic theologians,” has said that “From Wesley on, an ineluctable strain of expediency permeated [Methodist] thinking. Consequently, they repeatedly tended to discover programs that would work in the face of a clearly demonstrated need, and only later tried to define and justify them theologically. … By trial and error, [they made] prophetic witness” in their day and we have to do the same today. [58] We cannot always wait to tie up all the loose theological strings before giving practical help where and when it’s needed now. In fact, as Norwood tells us, even “Charles [Wesley] was disturbed at his brother’s penchant for finding solutions to problems and devising explanations for them later,” [59] so we need not be too concerned if what seems to us the right and practical thing to do seems to others to be so very wrong. Lives of homosexuals have to be lived today, tomorrow, the next day, and so on. We may be giving some thought to homosexuality this evening or during the next two days, but we’ll leave this place and be off to get involved otherwise. But don’t forget that for gay men and women, homosexuality must be lived next week and the week after that, and so on, every day of the rest of their lives. It is not practical for gay people to put their lives “on hold” until the United Methodists come to some theological conclusions about homosexuality at some Conference some day down the road, maybe years from now.

Methodist theologian Theodore Runyon has written: “Wesley was not unaware of the functions of ideology and the relations of theory to praxis. His impatience with the fine points of doctrinal dispute and his usual tolerance toward those with whom he had doctrinal differences ‘which do not reach to [what he called] the marrow of Christian truth,’ was not because he was indifferent to the substance of doctrine, but because he knew that the substance can never be contained adequately in finite words, which are only the representation of reality; the substance must be worked out in practice. Therefore it was to the practice that he looked for the indication of adequacy of belief. … He would have found congenial,” Runyon assures us, “the liberationist insistence that orthopraxis is a more reliable clue to faith than is orthodoxy.” [60] According to Frank B. Stanger, formerly president of Asbury Seminary and certainly no liberationist theologian: “Methodist theology centers in the idea of human freedom, the freedom of contrary choice in relation to spiritual decisions. … Methodism has sought always to make dogma subservient to life.” [61]

What does all of this mean for the meeting of the real life needs of homosexuals today? If, as Jürgen Moltmann has put this time-tested Wesleyan truth, the “criterion of theology and of faith is to be found in praxis,” if “Truth must be practicable,” what does this mean for the needs of homosexuals today? [62] What does it mean today to follow Wesley in being “‘ready to distribute’ to everyone according to his necessity.” [63] Always, the point of Scripture is this: The Sabbath was made for the people, not the people for the Sabbath! [Mark 2:27] What is the necessity of gay people if not the meeting of human needs for intimacy that works? In expounding on what The Golden Rule requires, Asbury Seminary professor Harold B. Kuhn says that “a reflective benevolence in which one finds ethical guidance in the imaginative placing of oneself in the position of another” is what it’s all about. [64] Doing this is much more difficult for us than it may at first seem to be, for we must try to do something that is in a sense not possible: to experience as another experiences. This is why it is all the more important, in our attempt to implement The Golden Rule, that we listen as carefully as possible when, in Wesley’s words on Luke 6:30, we give to everyone, “friend or enemy, what [we] can spare and he really wants.” [65] It is what the other wants, not what we think the other should want, that is to be our guide. As we pointed out before, though, what the other wants, what the gay man or gay woman really is saying that he or she wants is what we already have tried to secure for ourselves: intimacy. We should have no problem understanding how The Golden Rule applies to our gay neighbors if we but take note of the intimacy we ourselves have sought.

In the midst of another heated controversy, that of slavery, for which there were Bible verses for both sides to hurl at each other, northern Methodist preachers asked at the Methodist Conference in Baltimore, 1780: “Does this conference acknowledge that slavery is … doing that which we would not others should do to us and ours?” [66] Tonight, we might ask ourselves: “Does this meeting acknowledge that putting homosexuals under slavery to enforced celibacy or enforced orders to become heterosexual “is doing that which we would not others should do to us and ours?”

Is the so-called “ex-gay” route practical? No. Is the enforced celibacy demanded of others practical? No. Is promiscuity practical? No. But promiscuity is likely the alternative that those will follow who, unable to please heterosexuals, will drop out of sight and into the nether world of the only “acceptance” they know. Churches can’t make homosexuality go away but churches can make certain that homosexuals go away from the churches. What is practical is a covenantal relationship between two persons of the same sex. From the experience with covenantal relationship in the lives of those of us here in this auditorium tonight, we know that such relationship is practical. In the case of homosexuals, though, we oppose it for the sake of a shamefully bloodless “orthodoxy” while paying for our meddling with the lifeblood of our gay sisters and brothers for whom our Elder Brother shed his own precious blood.

As one who has seen thousands of individual homosexuals and their family members over the past twenty years, first in pastoral counseling and then in the clinical practice of psychotherapy and more recently in the additional experience of Evangelicals Concerned, I have a very strong inclination to side with historic Methodist practicality. My cognitive approach in psychotherapy owes much, I guess, to my Presbyterian roots, but always the test must be the Wesleyan concern with what works for real people in their real everyday needs in the bodies and psyches they’ve been assigned and in their relationships with the bodies and psyches of others.

Love is of no value to the one we say we love unless it is love that can work. “Let us love not with words or lips only,” spouting our doctrinal purity, “but let us love in deed and truth.” [I John 3:17f] Doing the truth is contrasted in the Bible to merely parroting the truth. Love that seeks to fulfill its own agenda instead of what is practical for another’s need is no love at all. This is never truer than when we are dealing with strangers. We all tend to oppress and deprive strangers. We so easily preach at them instead of live with them. If we’d shut up and live with them, they might not remain strangers to us, they might even become somewhat familiar—maybe even family, our own sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers. But we don’t often go that way. We seem rather to prefer to behave in infantile ways, forgetting what a 19th century Christian called the “temptation of beginners.” He said it was “the reformation of others.”

According to Rupert Davies of Wesley’s Chapel, Bristol: “Wesley’s theology … brought into existence a still-growing company of people, most of them from the oppressed classes and/or the subordinate sex, who, forgiven by God through Christ and empowered by the Spirit, have entered upon a new, free, and creative life. Such people are destined to change society—and some of them have done exactly that. And if, when confronted by a situation in which this new life they have received is violently withheld from others, they join in the fight for justice, I doubt very much if Wesley would frown down upon them in disapproval from his celestial seat—for he had an immense and not entirely non-theological sympathy with the oppressed and the deprived.” [67]

Wesley knew how to help in practical ways because he had been deprived in practical ways. For example, there was a time when Methodists were kicked out of their homes as gay people are today. [68] He knew what it was like for a gay person to be refused ordination in the established church because he, too, was excluded by the established church for honestly being himself. But he remembered that there is a higher authority than the established church and he remembered that Calvin was not ordained and that the “great work” of the Reformation could not “have been promoted at all in many places, if laymen had not preached.” [69] If the established church would forbid Wesley’s preaching, no matter. As he explained his position—now enshrined in Westminster Abbey— “I look upon all the world as my parish.” [70] Wesley helped form the Strangers’ Friend Society in London in 1785. The Society was “wholly for the relief, not of our society, but for poor, sick, friendless strangers.” [71] If you’re not too tired out by celebrating bicentennials by 1985, surely the two hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Strangers’ Friend Society might be a worthy project. There is still no lack of strangers; there is still a lack of friends. Today, AIDS victims, for example, are such “poor, sick, and friendless strangers!” What are United Methodists doing for AIDS victims? Today— and in 1985, as well—gay people are in need of protection of rights so they won’t be thrown out of their homes, jobs, and lose other necessities of life. They, indeed, are such “friendless strangers.” Gay people want to remedy their loneliness, they want a close friend to share their lives with. And what do some Christians do about it? Far from enabling the establishment of such close friendship between gay people, they do all that they can to see to it that homosexuals remain “friendless strangers,” even among themselves. Gay people are but asking for bread and self-righteous Christians throw them stones Faced with the facts as uncovered in face-to-face con versations with real-life homosexuals, what are good people in the Wesleyan tradition to do but to follow what Outler calls Wesley’s “practical understanding” and “give all [they] can” to those in need, just as they would want done to them. [72] Do we still know no better than to “send to know for whom the bell tolls?”

Few Methodists (or Presbyterians, for that matter) even speak up for gay peoples’ civil rights, let alone actively support them in other practical ways. Runyon reminds us that Wesley was “Not content simply to speak against injustices [but] organized various self-help projects, cottage industries, literacy classes, credit unions, medical clinics, and other means of coping with the degrading and impoverishing impact” of the equivalent of today’s homophobic structures throughout society. [73]

Of course, it may seem strange to change our usual approach to homosexuality and gay people. But, after all, strangeness is no stranger to Christian pioneers, least of all to Methodists. Was it not Wesley himself, who, years after his establishment ordination in the Church of England, finally found in the experience of God’s amazing grace, that his heart was “strangely warmed?” It was a new experience for him. It was a strange and different experience for him. As Outler has noted, “It was not mere rhetorical flourish … when he said that, in the Aldersgate experience, his heart was ‘strangely warmed.’” [74] And this came following the reading of comments made by an Augustinian duly placed within the establishment of an earlier church, whose own unmet needs required something new, something unheard of in his day, in his own experience, that grew into the Reformation in general and the reformation of one John Wesley in particular.

As we Christians would reach out to touch those gay men and women who, instead of knowing what it is to have their own hearts “strangely warmed” by Jesus, have known only the too-familiar feeling of hurting hearts broken by Christians, we must take the same strange risks that challenged Wesley when, for example, he had to get over his hesitation about reaching out to touch men and women in the English countryside, when he had to overcome his own timidity about preaching in the open fields, following George Whitefield’s unorthodox and seemingly even “indecent” lead. It was not enough that he had even the example of Jesus. But when he did take the unconventional step on April 2, 1739, “submitt[ing] to be more vile,” he discovered that the Holy Spirit was already there ahead of him. [75] In this he was following in the long biblical tradition of that old fisherman Peter who had to get over his Jewish scruples and make the strangest moves himself, only to discover, too, that the Holy Spirit was already there ahead of him. We need to have faith like that to follow in that same tradition today.

If we, today, want to minister the gospel in new fields—among gay people—we must take seriously all the new information we have about homosexuality and put it together with the old, old story of Jesus and his love. I’m reminded of some comments by Charles Kingsley, the 19th century Christian socialist who taught history at Cambridge. He said that “All revivals of religion which I ever read of, which produced a permanent effect, owed their strength to the introduction of some new element, derived from the actual modern consciousness, and explaining some fresh facts in or round man; e.g., the revivals of the Franciscans and Dominicans—those of the Reformation and of Wesley.” [76] Unless we make use of new psychosocial information and the testimonies of gay people “derived from the actual modern consciousness and explaining some fresh facts” about the nature of human beings in need of intimacy-that-works, we won’t see a revival where we say we want to see one. We won’t be taking the risks that were taken by our forebears in faith as they, in forbearance, shared with others the good news of unmerited favor which they themselves had received. We should not forget that the steps others have had to take were just as strange to them as are the steps we must take in our own day.

Concluding Thoughts

In wrapping up, I want to acknowledge that I have, perhaps, in effect if not by intent, raised more questions than I have given answers. Perhaps there are few very easy answers as such, even if we knew better what to ask and even if our own hearts were as pure as they might be. Probably few of us will much change our minds this evening. But, hopefully and prayerfully, all of us will have our hearts changed toward an even kinder and more practical loving relationship with the hearts of our gay sisters and brothers, not so much looking any longer on the outward appearance only, and knowing that we cannot look into the heart, but simply saying with Wesley: “If thy heart is as my heart, give me thy hand.” [77] We may not be able to agree in theory but hopefully theory will not get in the way of our active expressions of love. Wesley put it this way in his Character of a Methodist: “For the sake of mere opinions … let us not destroy the work of God.” What is the work of God if not those brothers and sisters who, with us all, are made in God’s image? We should not destroy them in the name of our sacred doctrines! We have biblical precedent for this in the disagreements between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:36-41) and Paul and Peter (Galatians 2:11-21). Horace L. Fenton, Jr. reminds us that “God cared more about restored unity between these brethren than he did about the issue that separated them.” [78] We may not be able to agree on what opinion is right on the morality of homosexuality, but after all, Wesley was referring to so-called “right opinions” and so-called “true morality” when he asked: “What will they profit us in that day? What will it avail to tell the Judge of all, ‘Lord, I was not as other men were; not unjust, not an adulterer, not a liar, not an immoral man [and, we might add, not a practicing homosexual]?’ Yea, what will it avail, if we have done all good, as well as done no harm,—if we have given all our goods to feed the poor,—and have not charity?” [79] In another sermon, Wesley said: “It is certain, so long as we know but in part, that all men will not see all things alike. It is an unavoidable consequence of the present weakness and shortness of human understanding, that several men will be of several minds in religion as well as in common life. So it has been from the beginning of the world, and so it will be ‘till the restitution of all things.’“ He then approves of the Latin saying which he translates: “to be ignorant of many things, and to mistake in some, is the necessary condition of humanity.” He goes on to say that one “knows, in general, that he himself is mistaken; although in what particulars he mistakes, he does not, perhaps he cannot know.” He explains that he says “‘cannot know;’ for who can tell how far invincible ignorance may extend? or (that comes to the same thing) invincible prejudice?—which is often so fixed in tender minds, that it is afterwards impossible to tear up what has taken so deep a root. And who can say, unless he knew every circumstance attending it, how far any mistake is culpable? seeing all guilt must suppose some concurrence of the will; of which He only can judge who searcheth the heart.” These are words of wisdom which so perfectly fit our present situation. Wesley goes on: “Every wise man, therefore, will allow others the same liberty of thinking which he desires they should allow him; and will no more insist on their embracing his opinions than he would have them to insist on his embracing theirs. He bears with those who differ from him, and only asks him with whom he desires to unite in love that single question, ‘Is thy heart right, as my heart is with thy heart?’” [80]

Wesley, of course, too, knew what differences between earnest Christians could be like for he suffered through the breach with George Whitefield and the “Calvinist” party, though he maintained that “difference of doctrine need not have created any difference of affection, but Whitefield ‘might have lovingly held particular redemption, and we general, to our lives’ end.’” Abel Stevens sees good come from the split, though, when he states that “Thus did Methodism divide into two currents, but thereby watered a wider range of the moral wilderness.” [81] Perhaps it is too much to expect us in this present conflict to see the rift between our more conservative and more liberal parties as meeting the needs of people in two different sectors of the “moral wilderness.”

Some United Methodists belong to an organization called Good News. They say one thing about homosexuality. Some other United Methodists belong to an organization called Affirmation. They say quite another thing about homosexuality, who is right: Good News or Affirmation? Hear Wesley’s voice from the thick of another heated controversy put the present issues into Christian perspective. In his work, Predestination Calmly Considered, Wesley wrote this about who is right. He said: “The truth is, neither this opinion nor that, but the love of God, humbles man, and that only.” Wrote Wesley: “Let but this be shed abroad in his heart, and he abhors himself in dust and ashes. As soon as this enters into his soul, lowly shame covers his face. That thought, ‘What is God? What hath he done for me?’ is immediately followed by, ‘what am I?’ And he knoweth not what to do, or where to hide, or how to abase himself enough, before the Great God of love, of whom he now knoweth, that as his majesty is, so is his mercy. Let him who has felt this (whatever be his opinion) say, whether he could then take glory to himself; whether he could ascribe to himself any part of his salvation, or the glory of any good word or thought. Lean, then, who will on that broken reed for humility; but let the love of God humble my soul!” [82]

This is the real good news and the real affirmation. All else is one mistake or another, invincibly ignorant and prejudiced as we all are. That God loves us all is our affirmation of God’s good news; this is our good news of God’s affirmation.


[1] Cf. John Telford, The Methodist Hymn-Book Illustrated (London: Charles H. Kelly, 1906), p. 112. Telford adds that Bishop Wordsworth regarded the hymn as “inexpressibly shocking.” According to Kenneth W. Osbeck [101 Hymn Stories (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1982)], John Wesley kept Charles’ hymn out of his 1780 hymnal and it did not come into general use until after its author’s death. Nonetheless, it has gone on to become what has been called the finest of all of Charles Wesley’s 6,500 hymns.

[2] Cf. John Wesley’s title: Predestination Calmly Considered.

[3] Cited by John Vickers, Thomas Coke, Apostle of Methodism (Nashville: Abingdon, 1969).

[4] Cf. e.g.: my Ethics and Gay Christians (1982); Getting Close: Steps toward Intimacy (1980); and Getting Closer: Structure for Intimacy (1981)—all available from HCCC, Inc., 30 E. 60th St., New York, New York 10022.

[5] Cf. Robin Scroggs, The New Testament and Homosexuality: Contextual Background for Contemporary Debate (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983).

[6] Cf. Newsweek, August 30, 1982, pp 62f on Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper by Norman Geschwind of Harvard and Peter Behan of Glasgow.

[7] W. R. Inge, Diary of a Dean (New York: Macmillan, 1950), p. 12.

[ 8] Time, May 23, 1983.

[9] Charles Keysor, ed., What You Should Know About Homosexuality (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979).

[10] Ibid., p. 7.

[11] Ibid., p. 9.

[12] Ibid., p. 205.

[13] Ibid., p. 52.

[14] Ibid., p. 12.

[15] Ibid., p. 11.

[16] Ibid., p. 165 and p. 12.

[17] Ibid., p. 12.

[18] Ibid., p. 13.

[19] Ibid., p. 10.

[20] Ibid., p. 165.

[21] Ibid., p. 210.

[22] Ibid., p. 159 and p. 188. In citing a survey cited by Don Williams in Eternity magazine (May, 1978) McKain fails, too, to understand that the survey Williams cites was sent to some members of the American Medical Association who, as Marmor says, “may or may not have been members of the APA.” [Judd Marmor, ed., Homosexual Behavior: A Modern Reappraisal (New York: Basic Books, 1980), p. 394.

[23] Judd Marmor in The New York Times Magazine, April 16, 1978.

[24] Keysor, op. cit., pp. 159ff.

[25] Ibid., p. 69 and p. 81.

[26] Cf. e.g. Meredith G. Kline, “Because it had not Rained,” Westminster Theological Journal, May, 1958, pp. 155f.

[27] Keysor, op. cit., p. 70.

[28] Ibid., p. 109.

[29] Ibid., p. 117.

[30] Cf. The Methodist Commentary on the New Testament (London: Charles H. Kelly, 1893). However, in The Wesleyan Bible Commentary, a six-volume work edited by Charles W. Carter of Taylor University [Baker Books, 1966, Volume 5], Wesley’s statement is cut short at this very point, the editors quoting only up to it, his comments on what he termed “the least” of sins, i.e., the malakoi. However he saw these, he did contrast them with the “sodomites.” A fundamentalist of our own day who also has expressed his confusion over why “effeminate” folk are listed in such “an awful, ugly list!” is Alan Redpath, formerly pastor of Moody Church in Chicago. In his The Royal Route to Heaven: Studies in 1st Corinthians (Revell, 1960), Redpath interprets the malakoi to be the soft or “spineless” people, much as do what are called, by fundamentalists today, the “pro-gay” commentators. Redpath, as Wesley before him, makes no connection between homosexuality and malakoi.

[31] Marmor, op. cit., (1980), p. 5.

[32] John Money, Love and Lovesickness: The Science of Sex, Gender Difference, and Pair Bonding (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980), p. 207.

[33] Alan P. Bell and Martin S. Weinberg, Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), p. 231.

[34] Ralph Blair, Etiological and Treatment Literature on Homosexuality (New York: HCCC, Inc., 1972).

[35] John Money and Anke A. Ehrhardt, Man and Woman; Boy and Girl: The Differentiation and Dimorphism of Gender Identity from Conception to Maturity (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1972), p. 228.

[36] Michael Ruse, “Are There Gay Genes? Sociobiology and Homosexuality,” in Noretta Koertge, ed.. Nature and Causes of Homosexuality: A Philosophical and Scientific Inquiry (New York: Haworth Press, 1981), p. 29 and p. 32.

[37] Bernard F. Riess, “Psychological Tests in Homosexuality” in Marmor, op. cit., (1980), p. 308.

[38] Ralph Blair, Homosexuality and Psychometric Assessment (New York: HCCC, Inc., 1972).

[39] Marmor, op. cit., pp. 400f.

[40] Marmor, op. cit., (1978).

[41] Marmor, op. cit., (1980).

[42] Ibid., p. 397.

[43] R. H. Denniston II, “Ambisexuality in Animals” in Marmor, op. cit., (1980), p. 38.

[44] Money and Ehrhardt, op. cit., p. 235.

[45] Money, op. cit. (1980), pp. 8f.

[46] For an intelligent discussion of the dangers of reductionist thinking in biology, from a Christian point of view, see Donald Cronkite, “Must Humans Have Toes?” in The Reformed Journal, July 1983, pp. 4f. In discussing abortion, this Hope College biologist reminds us that “communities are the difference between metabolism and human life. True humanity may be found at the level of relationships, among individuals and between individuals and God.”

[47] Cf. Don Williams The Bond that Breaks: Will Homosexuals Split the Church? (Los Angeles: BIM, 1978) and Richard Lovelace, Homosexuality and the Church (Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell, 1978).

[48] Cf. E. Mansell Pattison and Myrna Loy Pattison “‘Ex-Gays’: Religiously Mediated Change in Homosexuals,” The American Journal of Psychiatry, December, 1980 and Enos D. Martin and Ruth Keener Martin, “Developmental and Ethical Issues in Homosexuality: Pastoral Implications,” Journal of Psychology and Theology, Spring, 1981. For a critical evaluation of these two articles see my EX-GAY (New York: HCCC, Inc., 1982).

[49] Cf. Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse, Homosexuality: A Symbolic Confusion (New York: Seabury Press, 1977) and John White, Eros Defiled: The Christian and Sexual Sin (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1977) . For a critical evaluation of these presentations see my EX-GAY, op. cit.

[50] Barnhouse, p. 152. She goes on to conclude, though, that “Those who cannot change or abstain must make the attempt to express their sexual nature in the most stable, responsible, and loving forms of which they are capable.” (p. 152) This, of course, is what so-called “pro-gay” Christians also say.

[51] Christian Century, May 11, 1983, p. 450.

[52] James B. Nelson, “Religious and Moral Issues in Working with Homosexual Clients,” in John C. Gonsiorek, ed.. Homosexuality and Psychotherapy (New York: Haworth Press, 1982), pp. 171f.

[53] For further discussion of this phenomenon which I call an incest taboo, see my Getting Closer: Structure for Intimacy, op. cit., pp. 23f.

[54] Albert C. Outler, ed., John Wesley (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964), pp. 28f.

[55] John Wesley, “To John Valton, November 12, 1771,” Letters (V.289).

[56] Stanley Ayling, John Wesley (Nashville: Abingdon, 1979), p. 215. Charles Wesley literally sang of the blessings of celibacy when he wrote an autobiographical verse for his hymn, “How Happy is the Pilgrim’s Lot!” But it should be noted that he wrote these lines before his own marriage: “I have no sharer of my heart, To rob my Saviour of a part, And desecrate the whole; Only betrothed to Christ am I, And wait His coming from the sky, To wed my happy soul.” Cf. Telford, op. cit., p. 341.

[57] Alan P. Bell and Martin S. Weinberg, Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), pp. 220ff.

[58] Frederick A. Norwood, The Story of American Methodism (Nashville: Abingdon, 1974), p. 200.

[59] Ibid., p. 24.

[60] Theodore Runyon, ed., Sanctification and Liberation: Liberation Theologies in Light of the Wesleyan Tradition (Nashville: Abingdon, 1981), p. 45.

[61] Frank B. Stanger in Carl F. H. Henry, ed., Baker’s Dictionary of Christian Ethics (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1973), p. 422.

[62] Jürgen Moltmann, Religion, Revolution and the Future (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1969), p. 138 and pp. 93ff.

[63] John Wesley, Works (VI.376)

[64] Harold B. Kuhn in Carl F. H. Henry, op. cit., p. 267.

[65] The Methodist Commentary on the New Testament, op. cit.

[66] Cited in Norwood, op. cit., p. 93.

[67] Rupert E. Davies, “Justification, Sanctification, and the Liberation of the Person,” in Runyon, op. cit., p. 82.

[68] John Wesley, Works (II.415).

[69] John Wesley, Works (III.10,12) (VIII.221)

[70] John Wesley, “To James Hervey, March 20, 1739, Letters (1.286).

[71] John Wesley, Journal (VIII.49)

[72] Outler, op. cit., p. 238.

[73] Runyon, op. cit., pp. 11f.

[74] Outler, op. cit., p. 29.

[75] John Wesley, Journal (II.172)

[76] Charles Kingsley in a letter to Lord Robert Montague, July 7, 1859 in Charles Kingsley: Letters and Memories of his Life edited by his wife (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1885), p. 299.

[77] John Wesley, “Catholic Spirit,” Sermons.

[78] Horace L. Fenton, “If We Have to Disagree,” Christian Herald, September, 1983, p. 21.

[79] John Wesley, “True Christianity Defended,” Sermons.

[80] Abel Stevens, History of the Life and Times of John Wesley Embracing the History of Methodism from its Rise to his Death (London: William Tegg, 1864), p. 113.

[81] John Wesley, “Catholic Spirit,” op. cit.

[82] John Wesley, Works (X.256).

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