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Young people struggle with homosexuality issue

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  • U.M. Cornet
    CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE From United Methodist News Service: Young people struggle with homosexuality issue Aug. 2, 1999 Contact: Linda
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 2 4:41 PM
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      From United Methodist News Service:

      Young people struggle with homosexuality issue

      Aug. 2, 1999 Contact: Linda Green*(615)742-5470*Nashville, Tenn..

      KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Young people in the United Methodist Church, like
      the adults, are not of one mind on the thorny topic of homosexuality..

      Issues related to homosexuality were a focus of workshops held during Youth
      '99, the five-day gathering sponsored by the United Methodist Board of
      Discipleship. The 9,000 teens at the event each had a choice of attending
      four out of about 500 workshops. Courses addressed the Bible, careers,
      contemporary issues; denominational beliefs, leadership, arts,
      skill-building; youth ministry; spirituality, sexuality; and adventure..

      The workshop "When elephants fall out of the closet," allowed participants
      to discuss what the United Methodist Book of Discipline says about
      homosexuality, same-sex unions and homosexual ordination. The listening
      session was led by the Rev. Karen Bratton, director of campus ministry in
      the Nebraska Annual Conference, and Tim Fickenscher, the youth director at
      First United Methodist Church in Omaha, Neb. Names of the young people who
      participated in the session were withheld from publication at the request of
      the participants, in keeping with the concept of each workshop being a "safe
      place" for expressing their viewpoints.

      The 40 youth in the workshop were challenged by scriptural interpretation
      and how literally it needs to be interpreted; personal beliefs that conflict
      with scriptural beliefs; nature verses nurture; whether the Bible is
      relevant; whether the church is really welcoming; and equal rights. From the
      small group discussions, it was apparent that the young people, like the
      adults in the United Methodist Church, are not of a like mind on the
      homosexual issue.

      They pondered questions such as: What was Paul writing about in some of his
      passages that are believed to refer to homosexuality? Was homosexuality
      different then than it is today? Is homosexuality a sin?

      "It has been said that the homosexual issue will split the church. That
      doesn't make sense to me, when so much else is going on," one participant

      The teens also noted the inequity in United Methodist proscriptions. Several
      teens said that the rules about homosexuality were being emphasized while
      other types of behavior that could be deemed incompatible with the Bible ere
      being ignored. "It is a double-standard," one said, citing the church's
      position on divorce as an example.

      Several young people also shared stories of how the issue affects them
      personally. One teen told of a friend who was almost beaten up by classmates
      because they found out the friend was gay. "It bothers me when people say
      that gay people are going to hell," the youth said. "God says not to judge

      "It is frustrating that people who call themselves Christian would hate,"
      another said..

      Another teen confessed to being totally confused. "Homosexuality is a sin
      because the Bible says so, but I'm confused or uncertain about how to look
      at people who are gay or talk to them. I've spent time looking at the issue
      and I think gayness is a choice. ... You don't have to be that way."

      One young person questioned whether homosexuality is a matter of choice or
      genetics. "If it is genetic, why would God create something against the
      Bible?" the youth asked. "I don't think gay people should be ordained," the
      teen continued. "Pastors are supposed to be Christian and like God. Being
      gay is a sin."

      "I think you are born gay," another participant replied. "Why would someone
      make a decision and go through what gay people go through?"

      Another teen, who doesn't believe homosexuality is a sin, said the
      Scripture's meaning is based on how it's interpreted by each individual. "It
      (the Bible) was translated from another language. How do we know it is
      right? The Bible was written so many years ago; times have changed."

      # # #


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