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The Rev. Mark Sargent Mark Sargent

Mark Sargent is a retired United Methodist minister who works in the private sector and resides in Rome, GA.

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A Knife in the Wound

May 06, 2010

Here we go again.  It seems like a ceaseless stream.

I awakened this day, as is my custom, to various internet news sources.  And, among the various sources I touch each day, I touched the website of my local newspaper here in Atlanta.

The headline read:  "Brazil bishop says kids spontaneously gay."

"Okay," I thought to myself.  "This one's a definite read."

I don't need to rehearse here the long history of misunderstanding that has sadly characterized the Church's various opinions about human sexuality.  Suffice it to say that the Roman Catholic Archbishop's statement reflects what I only know to call stubborn ignorance in the face of bright knowledge.  But, that didn't stop him.

Archbishop Dadeus Grings is the leader of the Brazilian Diocese of Porto Alegre, one of the largest in the world. 

"We know that the adolescent is spontaneously homosexual.  Boys play with boys, girls play with girls.  If there is no proper guidance, this sticks.  The question is--how are we going to educate our children to use a sexuality that is human and suitable?"

The Archbishop went on to do what a colleague of his at The Vatican did only three weeks ago.  He linked homosexuality and pedophila. 

Please don't trust me on this, if you are inclined to agree with the Archbishop.  Please do your own research on this vital topic.  There is no reputable research to support the cruel notion that those who engage in the horrific practice of child sexual abuse do so because they are oriented to persons of the same sex.  None.  The psychiatric, psychological, and medical communities long ago left behind any idea of linking the two.  Healthy persons, wherever they fall on the continuum of human sexuality, have no interest in abusing children.  Never mind the unsupportable notion that same-sex orientation is the result of a childhood problem that "sticks."  All of this seems so self-evident that I almost feel useless saying it.  But, every time someone says what the Archbishop says, that religious wound that I often refer to is exacerbated.

And, what's really interesting, and important, is that it is not only our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters who are aggrieved by such notions.  Any one of us who seeks to be a follower of Jesus is also aggrieved.  The remarks of the Archbishop make it difficult for me!  I am a parish pastor trying to serve a wonderful congregation of very dear people here in Atlanta, and our efforts to reach our city with the good news of Jesus are hampered when we have to distance ourselves from unkind, ignorant remarks made by people in positions of religious authority and power. 

Of course, many know to reject remarks made by the Archbishop.  But, many of those people don't attend church.  And, until your church and mine explicitly condemn such remarks, many will not know that we're different from the sterotypical understanding of Christians as judgmental and homophobic. 

By the way, I do not speak for Christianity or for United Methodism.  I only speak my heart.  And, with many others, I look forward to the day when cruel condemnation of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters comes to an end.


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