Religious leaders talk sexuality, spirituality

Representatives from different religions discussed the role of spirituality in the lives of LGBT people.  |  Hendrick Roseman/The Daily Cougar

Representatives from different religions discussed the role of spirituality in the lives of LGBT people. | Hendrick Roseman/The Daily Cougar

The LGBT Resource Center and the LGBT Studies Minor Program at UH hosted the first in a series of lectures Tuesday titled “Religion and the LGBT Person,” featuring a panel of religious leaders to discuss how individuals can reconcile their religion with their LGBT identity and continue to develop spiritually.

Director of the LGBT Resource Center Lorraine Schroeder began the lecture by briefly introducing each panelist before each discussed their respective religions and how different religions have become more open to the LGBT community.

The Rev. Ginny Brown Daniel of Plymouth United Church became a pastor to a dying church in 2003. She said she came to that church saying, “I believe we are all made in God’s image,” and she was willing to publicly say that. They were open to accepting that message and the possibilities of what she was implying.

“Around the country, each church can vote to become open and affirming,” Daniel said. “I am part of the United Church of Christ denomination that is one of the only Christian denominations in the country that is open and affirming of those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning. Last year alone, we married four couples that are either lesbian or gay. There are communities out there that will welcome and bless you in that way.”

Rabbi Kenny Weiss is the executive director of Houston Hillel, the largest religious organization for Jewish college students. A few years ago they published a program manual specifically for LGBT inclusion.

“My oldest cousin, who is gay, expressed to me how when he was in college in the early 1960s, there was nothing for him. He really doesn’t do anything Jewish now because he was so turned off because there was nowhere to go,” Weiss said. “Now it is very much the opposite for the Jewish community.”

The Rev. Janice Ladd is part of the Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, a Christian Church that follows God’s call to justice for all people. They strive for the social justice for the LGBT community.

“We strive for the holy integration of our spirituality and sexuality. Most people leave the church because the church doesn’t do well with talking openly about sexual minds or our sexual bodies. That’s why our population has been outcasted more,” Ladd said. “We deal with so many who are hurting (or) lost and we try to bring them back to their faith  —  back into their relationship with God. We are here to demonstrate God’s unconditional love to all people through Christian action.”

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  • Thank you – to everyone at the LGBT Resource Center and the LGBT Studies Minor Program, and of course the panelists – for putting this together. It was a wonderful lecture on a very important topic. I brought a couple of people, and all three us really enjoyed it. The Q&A at the end was fantastic as well.

  • I mean no offence to no one but it is really an irony of the first order in relating LGBT to religion. Just because I will be castigated against doesn't mean I will stand for LGBT. These are people who made a mockery of God for creating male and female in order that at the opposite sex will love and marry each other. Rev Ginny should refer back to the bible why Sodom and Goromorah doesn't have life in it till today.

    • No offense taken. But I think some of your confusion about the LGBT community and religion could have been cleared up if you had attended the lecture – after all, this is probably the reason it was given. While everyone's allowed to have their own religious thoughts, I think it's a terrible shame that there are people who base their prejudice on the Bible. The LGBT community are not making a mockery of God by simply being oriented a different way. It's not a conscience decision to be attracted to the same-sex, it's something innate. The LGBT community are not raising their fists to the sky with anger burning in their hearts as they contemptuously force themselves to love each other. That's silly. The argument hinging on "because God created them male and female" fails for several reasons. First, there was a reproductive necessity "in the beginning" if you are inclined to believe in a literal Adam and Eve story – I doubt that there is any current need to further populate the Earth. Second, homosexuality is found occurring in nearly 1,500 species studied so far. If you believe that God is the Creator, either you accept that He made them this way and that homosexuality exists in nature (hence, is "natural") or you have to reason with yourself that all of these animals and critters make conscience, moral decisions. Further, the Sodom and Gomorrah argument against the LGBT community is anti-Biblical. When these cities are cited in other parts of the Bible (including when Jesus references them), they are chastised for their inhospitality. They were not gay cities – I can assure you that a city filled with only gay people would last no longer than one generation, as it is impossible for gay couples to conceive on their own. There are entire books written to better understand the Bible, and I urge anyone to read them before giving themselves over to prejudice against a community they do not understand.

      • Those studies you mention seem to come from groups that have a bent towards a certain community that shall remain nameless here.

        • Which studies? There aren't any specific studies mentioned, which means you're making an assumption. On the flip side, I'm guessing that there are some presumptuous people out there who haven't actually bothered reading certain reputable scientific or scholastic studies since they seem to have their own irrational bends…

  • Agree with Jeff. Christians are called to love others unconditionally, and part of that is telling others the truth about how God sees sin. The world may change, but God's Words are eternal.

    • I agree that Christians are called to love unconditionally, but have we lost the meaning of "unconditional"? You're right, the Word of God is eternal, the Word is defined in the gospel of John as being Jesus, not the Bible. The Bible was put together hundreds of years later. We have to remember that when the Bible was being written, it was written by specific people to specific audiences, and they had no idea that their letters and writings were going to one day be viewed as Holy or Infallible. Thousands of years later, we are merely "overhearing" the discussions between people back then, and we have to make a conscience decision about how to apply their message according to the spirit in which it was written. We have to remember that we have none of the original manuscripts and that the oldest copies we do have were largely copied by illiterate people during the first 300 years of various underground movements of Christianity, which is why there are many differences between them. Further, they've been translated back and forth between several languages (some of them corrupted) and what we have now are Best Guesses as to what the original manuscripts may have contained. With that said, it would be a terrible shame to pick One of our differing English translations and lift it to a idolatrous status of infallibility. To think that we could ever fully know the mind of God because we've read this collection of letters and stories is an awful mistake, especially when we use this as a plumb line to judge one another with.

  • I really enjoyed the presentation made by these wonderful panelists representing diverse faith traditions. It was beautiful how these religious leaders could be so affirming and embrace and love all people. Their message was full of love and acceptance. Congrats to the LGBT Center and Minor to bringing this important perspective to our student body.

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