Sunday, July 10, 2011

Young church lay leaders in India shown underlying psychological dynamics of church bias towards sexual minorities

By Steve Parelli and Jose Ortiz
Classic Ave Hotel, Trivandrum, Kerala, India
July 10, 2011

Jose Ortiz, first row and last person at far right,
with attendees and speakers,
Young Lay Leaders Conference, July 7-9, 2011,
southern Keralal, India
On the second day of the Young Lay Leaders Conference (July 7-9, 2011) in Kerala, India, sponsored by Trivandrum Theological Forum, Amirtham Ecumenical Trust and Other Sheep, Jose Ortiz, Other Sheep Coordinator for Asia, spoke on the psychological aspects of relationships in the Church and how they apply to the gay Christian and the Church community.

Citing the psychological research of Clock and Stark, Ortiz said there are five dimensions of how people are religious:  Intellectual, Experiential, Ideological, Ritualistic, and Consequence (Behavioral).

Ortiz said his religious expression during his youth showed greater strength in the Ideological and Behavioral dimensions, and that it was later in life, when confronted with the reality of his sexual orientation as homosexual, that he realized he needed to increase the Intellectual dimension of his religious life.

Ortiz said he was seventeen years old and soon to enter Bible college to become a missionary when he first discovered his attraction to those of his sex. He said the confusion he experienced as Christian and gay conflicted with the Ideological dimension of his religious life.  He had very little information on the topic of homosexuality in the conservative Bible College he attended.  He said the agony and inner turmoil of his being gay and Christian brought on periods of depression and suicidal thinking.  Ortiz said this is the case with many gay Christians around the world.

Concerning the majority view of the Church towards sexual minorities, Ortiz said motivation and conformity are two factors that contribute to the rejection of homosexuals within the church.  Ortiz said extrinsically motivated church-goers are those who are in the church for the social benefits they derive and are not generally interested in truth and justice.  Often this group constitutes the majority.  Ortiz said research shows that prejudice, racism and maladjustment factor highly among those who are extrinsically motivated.  Quoting Sara Savage of Cambridge University, Ortiz said pastors and lay leaders should encourage the extrinsically motivated to “seek to enable the healthy, truth-oriented aspects of a person’s faith to gradually take ascendancy over any defensive purposes lurking behind religious faith.”

Ortiz said due to his desire to conform, he could not, while in Bible college, allow himself to seriously consider some literature he had read which called for the inclusion and acceptance of homosexuals within the church.  Ortiz named the six factors that contribute to conformity within groups and said the church has all six factors.  He said studies do show that minorities can change the view of the majority though dialogue and by their own behavior style.  Ortiz said this is why he and his partner are here in India dialoguing with Christians.  Ortiz said the majority will reconsider its rejection of homosexuals when they see the homosexual’s face, hear their voice, and see the love of God and the peace of God in them.

1 comment:

Ana Medina said...

Very interesting article.