51953dbb9zl_aa240_.jpgYou may notice that I have on my “what I am reading” list the book, The Language of God, by Francis Collins. I picked this up at a local new age bookstore recently, and have been fascinated by what I have been reading. When I first heard of this book on a CBC radio interview some time ago, I began to wonder why some of us Christians so dogmatically want to read the opening pages of Genesis as a perfectly factual/literal account of creation. (It was significant that some of “those” Christians included my wife, as well as my teenage daughter, who insisted on doing her Grade 9 science project – much to the consternation of her teacher – on creation science.)

In this book, Collins, head of the human genome project (and therefore one of the world’s top scientists), describes his faith journey in relation to his scientific work. The book is written for laypersons, and presence a simplistic view of the science behind DNA, the big bang theory, and evolution. He goes on to explain how he sees these scientific theories as firm evidence for the handiwork of God, the creator.

This book has prompted a couple of significant understandings for me in my own journey towards self-acceptance:

1. Just as being a Christian does not necessarily mean that I have to believe I a literal interpretation of the Genesis account of creation, neither does being Christian necessarily mean that I believe that abortion is always wrong, homosexuality is an abomination, women should be in submission to men, or that slavery is part of God’s design for our economy.

2. Collins’ argument is an argument for reason and empiricism. While affirming the validity of scripture for development of our spiritual understandings, he does not tolerate holding scripture as authoritative in a scientific sense. He bases his scientific work on rigorous application of the scientific method and empirical analysis of the data. He seems to apply the Wesleyan quadrilateral in his efforts to reconcile his scientific work with his Christian faith.

Raised in a Wesleyan theological tradition, I can claim the “Wesleyan quadrilateral” as part of my heritage. Scripture, reason, experience and tradition are each considered significant bases of authority. And while scripture has always been given the highest authority, reason, experience, and tradition are useful lenses through which to interpret scripture.

My journey to acceptance of my homosexuality has been driven mostly by my experience – the experience of having desires and attractions that I have no control over, and that really are a part of me. The experience of being deeply in love with a woman for whom I have only fleeting moments of sexual attraction. Yes, the experience of not wanting to make love on my wedding night, but doing it at my wife’s insistence only by remembering the pleasures I experienced with men. The experience of years of praying, Bible study, and worship, with the goal of minimizing my desires for men and remaining faithful to my spouse. The experience of seeing no change in orientation or in the strength of my desires for men over these years. The experience of passively observing other gay men being unwelcomed by the church, and their feelings of condemnation both by men and by God.

Added to my experience has been the voice of reason. As a professional counsellor, with an academic background in sociology and psychology, I have not been convinced that there is any objective reason to consider homosexuality, in most cases, as being anything other than an innate, or at least immutable, trait. In fact, it is more than a trait, since our whole social structure is focussed on our sexuality (usually heterosexuality).

Indeed, I have only found two tenable reasons for LGBT persons to choose not to express their sexuality: (1) They have chosen to understand the letters of Paul as lawgiving, thus eliminating homosex as a legitimate expression of our humanity, or (2) They have experienced, as Karen K has, the Holy Spirit testifying that homosexuality is not what God wants for them.

As a scientist, Collins is able to maintain his professional integrity – affirming the evidence for the scientific community’s current understanding of the development of life as we know it, while strengthening his faith in God. As a professional in the field of psychology, I take the knowledge this field of science has garnered in regards to homosexuality – its non-pathological status and its apparent immutability – and assert that the Christian tradition of condemning outright all homosexual behaviour is one that was developed out of prejudice and a lack of knowledge. The lack of knowledge has been eliminated. Tradition stands today on the shaky foundations of prejudice and ignorance.