The Gay Brain, The Law, and The Lutheran Church of Australia.

A post by Neil Hart on homosexuality, LGBT, lesbian and gay stuff and the Lutheran Church of Australia.

I just had a conversation with a lady on the plane from Sydney. She is a psychologist working on developmental indicators in young children with intellectual disabilities. She was coming to WA to run a workshop for doctors to help them with early diagnoses. I wish I had asked for permission to use her name on the blog but, alas…I didnt. So, she will have to just remain “The Psych”. (cue theme music)

She reaches into the dark recesses of your mind…She opens doors you thought were shut forever….

“The Psych”

…coming soon to a theatre near you.

While I had the ear of a psych,  I thought i would skillfully and subtley lead the conversation into the question of homosexuality. I said. “OK. while I’ve got you strapped in next to me, lets talk gay stuff!”.

I’m lucky she was a very grace filled and obliging lady.

We talked about all sorts of things. The psych told me that the University faculty in her department, a department almost exclusively devoted to paediatrics, was made up of approximately 50% gay people. These gay researchers are dedicating their lives with very little financial return to improving the health outcomes for children in Australia. And yet I’m sure there are still people who are fearful and suspicious of some imaginary gay agenda to pervert the young people of Australia and somehow convert them to “gay-ness”.

As always, the simple reality shows up prejudice and the fear that drives it for the foolishness that it is. As Jesus says, when you know the truth, then the truth sets you free.

At one stage I mentioned that there are still sectors of the community, probably only in the Churches, who advocate reparative therapies for gay people. I explained how churches generally, and our church specifically, still talk about homosexual love as a sin and therefore force gay people to attempt to suppress, deny or even change their sexuality.  The look on her face was one of shock. Her actual words were “Dear God, No!”. She found it hard to believe that such attitudes still existed in sectors of the community

We talked about the different aspects of the brain in regard to human sexuality.

The Hind (Reptillian) Brain is the most primitive part of the human brain.  It is in charge of our primal instincts and most basic functions. Things like the instincts for survival, dominance, mating and the basic involuntary functions of respiration and heartbeat all come from this area of the brain.

The Limbic System is the next part of the brain to have evolved.  This is where our emotions reside, where memory begins and where these two functions combine  to mark behaviours with positive or negative feelings. It is where mostly subconscious judgements are made

The Neocortex: This part is involved in reasoning, problem solving, judgement and impulse control and higher level functioning like empathy. It is the last to develop in our 20’s.

(By the way, reader, I didn’t memorise all of this from my mid air discussion, I dragged it up from a previous post I had made on the LCAi list. I’m not sure if “The Psych” used exactly those words but her idea was essentially the same. There are layers of the brain. These layers start with the most basic human responses and build to the more complex patterns of thought and powers of reason.  (1).

“The Psych” said that we need to remember that our sexuality goes to literally the core of our being. It starts in the Hind Brain with our basic sex drive. It includes the Limbic system where  emotional memories and connections are formed. Then our sexuality is effected by the Neocortex where we apply the things we have learnt. This is where we try to control our actions, drives and impulses, where we try to make sense of our feelings and experiences, where we apply value judgements to ourselves and where we try to come up with answers to our various dilemmas.

The implications of this are obvious. We can do all we like with our neocortex (reading the Bible and listening to sermons) but our sexuality goes much deeper. It involves the emotional responses of the Limbic System. It goes right to the core, the Hind Brain where the sex drive originates. Our sexuality is as basic to us as eating and breathing. We can no more deny our sexuality than we can decide to stop breathing.

But people still try. Depending on their emotional reserves, capacity for self harm or just plain stubbornness, people can sometimes go for years with their brain at war with itself. But eventually something does crack.

The results will either be a broken person with broken sexuality and confused relationships…..or, for the ones who have the right support, a new way to be where they stop the war, accept who they are and begin to a congruent life. Its called, “coming out”.

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Last week a Lutheran man was found guilty by the SA District Court and awaits sentencing. The Adelaide Advertiser reports…

He admitted indecently filming boys and men in the shower of his home, in the toilets of his church and at Stockport while serving as a youth leader.

The District Court, however, has questioned the fairness of “sacrificing” (him) by imposing an immediate jail term.

Judge Paul Cuthbertson yesterday said evidence tendered in court suggested (his) crimes arose from conflict between his social awkwardness, homosexual urges and Lutheran faith.

“He did not know how to cope with or bring out, in a lawful manner, his sexual urges,” he said. “It must be a terrible thing to have a sexual desire that you cannot lawfully fulfil.

“For him, it was illegal, in the sense it was against all his religious beliefs.” (2)

One commentor on the LCAi list, email discussion forum,  raised this question.

Do we LCA Lutherans have any responsibility? We made the Homosexuality Statement which labelled him a “deviant” from God’s good intentions and commanded him to keep his propensity and urges private and secret

Yes, of course we have to take some blame when our teachings and our practise force people to be at war with themselves. We should take some responsibility when our teachings and practise deny them access to the help and advice that they need to live a congruent life.  But I think that the LCA is even more culpable than just the experiences of this one man.

There are at least 80 employees of the LCA who are aware of all this. They are aware of the dangers of the unwinable war, aware of the dangers of living in the shadows, living sealed off from the support of those they love. And yet they continue in the shadows,  living in secret because if they were to come out and start to live a more emotionally healthy life their career would come to a grinding halt.

Anyway, reader, I don’t think that “The Psych” will be visiting any Lutheran Church in the near future. Unless, of course, its out of morbid curiosity.

Man! How great it would have been if I could have witnessed to the Lutheran Church’s just, loving and grace filled stand on behalf of the gay people in Australia. How wonderful it would be if, for once, we stood on the right side of history.

Sigh…

Maybe next time…yeh?

(1) http://www.brainhealthandpuzzles.com/brain_parts_function.html

(2) http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/judges-sympathy-for-sexual-deviant/story-e6frea83-1226272785460