"The Passion of the Christ" -- Mel Gibson's Film and Biblical Scholarship - Part 2

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 3 March 2004 0 Comments
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[Vern is responding to this Open Letter to George Will]

To what "scientifically documented presence of homosexuality in the animal kingdom" do you refer?

Were those so-called scientists participants in previous homosexuality acts and do they now spend their time rationalizing? Do you know for certain?

Did you know that we here in Montana also have experts in animal behavior and they tell us that animals in the wild exhibit no such same-sex tendencies, and those that exhibit same-sex attraction in captivity only go through the motion, likely to impress the opposites which are forced to hover nearby?

What scholars do you know for a fact who have helped create this emerging new consensus, and are they likewise trying to rationalize one or more of their own homosexual acts?

Are you telling us that you support the marriage of homosexuals in the Episcopal Church?

Are you saying that you support Gene Robinson being a bishop and being a leader we should emulate because homosexuality is OK?

Am I correct in assuming that one of the qualifications for your position as a Church leader is that you are to look for the best in everyone?

In order for you to accomplish the above, does that explain why you rationalize and trivialize the behavior of homosexuals?

Have you ever participated in a homosexual act, and is that contributing to your present rationalization of their behavior?

Have you ever been assaulted, as I have been, by a male homosexual who wanted no more than to get his hand inside your pants?


I have reproduced from your three-page long typed letter only a few of your many questions but they are enough to allow my readers to get an adequate sense of the point of view expressed in your letter. It was more a tirade than a letter and revealed an anger and a fear that clearly borders on irrationality. It also revealed a depth of ignorance about homosexuality that is clearly essential for you to maintain, since nothing else could keep your obvious deep and abiding homophobia in place.

I am sorry first that you seem to have had an inappropriate experience with an abusive person who happened to be homosexual. I have known many others who as children had an inappropriate experience with abusive people who happened to be heterosexual. I regard any abusive sexual behavior perpetrated by any adult person on a minor child at any time to be a tragedy for which the abuser ought to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. But I do not believe that it is an essential mark of either homosexual or heterosexual persons to be sexually abusive. Sexual abuse is an aberration and, according to every study I have ever read, it is by far a heterosexual proclivity not a homosexual proclivity.

Let me try to be specific about your questions.

I suggest that any public library could refer you to a book that documents the presence of homosexuality in the animal kingdom. It is quite commonplace. I'm sorry you have not been made aware of this.

The "so-called scientists," as you refer to them, who helped to educate me on homosexuality, were members of the medical faculty of the Cornell Medical Center in New York City. One of them wrote the preface to my book, "Living in Sin?" in which I discussed, for the first time, the issues of homosexuality. For you to suggest that they must have participated in "previous homosexual acts" that they "now spend their time rationalizing" is simply not worthy of comment. You seem to be saying that if anyone challenges your prejudices, they must somehow themselves be something you define as perverted.

I would suggest that the "Montana animal experts" you quote are quite poorly educated. You might suggest that they confer with professors in the Departments of Biology at any of Montana's fine schools of higher education.

The fact that you imply that homosexual behavior involves "penile penetration" indicates that you know no homosexual people. If what you are referring to is what Dr. Kinsey called "anal intercourse," you might reread Dr. Kinsey who charted this activity among heterosexual people. You also might inquire of lesbian couples what they do to compensate for the lack of their ability to achieve "penile penetration." Your understanding of homosexuality is profoundly ignorant, yet your uninformed imagination seems to enjoy roaming over this territory.

You clearly do not know the newly consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire to whom you respond with comments that I would not reproduce. Gene's life with his partner is lived with integrity, honor and fidelity. The only thing I would urge upon you is not his homosexual orientation but his integrity, honor and fidelity. Gene has no desire for you to emulate his sexual orientation. The fact that you seem to think that he would want you to be like him is ludicrous. He wants you to be you, not to be him. The vocation of the Christian faith is quite simply to build a world where everyone in that world, including you, Vern, will have a better chance to live fully, to love wastefully and to be all that a person can be in the infinite variety of our humanity regardless of race, ethnic background, gender or sexual orientation. Those are all givens, Vern. No one lives fully by denying who they are and what the givens of their lives are. No one lives fully either, Vern, by hating or rejecting those who are different from you. Your job is to be you, Vern. Gene Robinson's job is to be Gene. Differences are real. That is what makes life exciting and fascinating. I think diversity ought to be celebrated.

-- John Shelby Spong




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