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Mark Yarhouse

This tag is associated with 3 posts

Book Review: “Listening to Sexual Minorities: A Study of Faith and Sexual Identity on Christian College Campuses” by Yarhouse, Dean, Stratton, and Lastoria

Listening to Sexual Minorities: A Study of Faith and Sexual Identity on Christian College Campuses is an eye-opening book in many ways. The work is essentially a report on several studies of college students on Christian campuses related to sexuality. The book is thus a treasure trove for those interested in seeing how college students–those who self-select for Christian schools–approach and experience sexuality. For anyone interested in that topic, it’s a gold mine.

The first chapter reflects on the tension between faith and sexuality. The authors observe that there are effectively three lenses through which to view sexuality and gender: the integrity, disability, and diversity lenses. The integrity lens offers a religious and theological reading of sex and gender that effectively sees male/female identity as “stamped on one’s body” (9, quoting Robert Gagnon, a Christian theologian). Thus, same-sex behavior and transgender identity are seen as something which will “threaten the integrity of male/female distinctions” (9). The disability framework views sex and gender as a kind of disability, something to be worked through or struggled with. Such a lens effectively agrees with the integrity framework about what is considered “normal” but acknowledges divergence from the same exists. However, such divergence is seen as something reflecting “fallenness” of created order or a kind of disability to be challenged (ibid). The third lens is the “diversity framework” that affirms LGB+ (the umbrella acronym the authors use) as an identity and a community “to be recognized, celebrated, and honored” (9). Among these lenses, of course, there is a range of perspectives about how each lens plays out in practical terms. The authors use these “lenses” to show throughout the book how differing perspectives relate to LGB+ people and questions.

The first chapter also offers some insight into the tension between LGB+ people and communities of faith and how some of that tension has played out, such as Title IX exemptions for schools based on various stands on LGB+ people. Those Title IX exemptions–which allow for discrimination based on sexual identity–are viewed quite differently depending upon one’s lens. For example, one with the integrity lens may see a Title IX exemption as allowing for freedom of religious practice, while one with the disability framework may argue that it excludes some people from being able to explore their questions about sexuality in settings that could be helpful. The first chapter ends with an overview of the demographics of the studies.

The second chapter looks much more closely at the people involved in the studies. It’s somewhat of a given that they are young. What may surprise some is that these sexual minorities (the study participants all report at least some experience of same-sex attraction or behavior (31)) also self-report as very religious, with 90% viewing themselves as moderately to very spiritual, and “a full 62% rating themselves as a nine or ten on a ten-point scale of spirituality” (31). Additionally, 80% reported experiencing the presence of God in their daily lives. Throughout this and other chapters, insets help people who may not be as familiar with the terminology or studies to understand what’s being said. For example in Chapter 2 there is an inset going over various terminology.The studies involved include one longitudinal study, which allowed the authors to see how students’ perceived and identified sexually over time.

The third chapter, “Milestones and Identity,” features information about milestones in sexual-identity development (their phrase, 68). For example, the mean age at which students reported awareness of same-sex feelings was 12.92 years old, while the adoption of the label “gay” was the oldest milestone, at 19.47. Interestingly, this adoption of the label had a mean age more than a year older than the first same-sex relationship. Throughout this and other chapters, excerpts from individual students are provided, allowing some greater insight than just numbers into how students perceived themselves sexually. The fourth chapter is about the development of identity over time, and, among other things, shows how students who reported as being same-sex attracted generally only increased their certainty of that attraction over time (89). Yet, as that identity strengthened, few students were willing or desired to abandon spiritual or religious identity.

The fifth chapter is about faith and sexuality. Among the things it discusses, the authors report on how students view sexual identity–whether it is a choice or something that can be changed, for example. Another chart shows how students viewed sexual behaviors. Some examples: whether same-sex attraction is morally acceptable (most reported yes); whether a celibate life is possible (overwhelmingly yes); and whether same-sex behavior is acceptable (between 3-4 out of 5). It also shows how much distress LGB+ people felt with their attraction alongside their degree of intrinsic religiosity. The sixth chapter reports on how same-sex attracted persons fit into their Christian campus, including how same-sex attraction was viewed on campus. Support from others is clearly important, and the church was seen as the least supportive of all organizations when it came to same-sex attracted people (208-209). The seventh chapter discusses the move out of college, and shows how often a nostalgic view of college developed, such that students viewed their campus as more supportive once they graduated (242).

The authors close the book with a summary of results along with recommendations and conclusions. Intrinsic religiosity “appears to be a major contributor to a sense of fit for sexual minorities at faith-based colleges and universities” (273). The level of distress aligned generally with other students. The strength of same-sex attraction was not linked to emotional health, but campus climate impacted a wide range of life for sexual-minority students (274).

Listening to Sexual Minorities is a book with appeal to a specific audience. If one happens to be interested in how sexuality is perceived and experienced on Christian college campuses, this is a book for that reader. Other readers may want to see what Christian youths are saying about their sexuality, and this book certainly would give insight there as well.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book for review by the publisher. I was not required to give any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

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Sunday Quote!- Gender Dysphoria and the Bible?

udg-yarhouseEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Gender Dysphoria and the Bible

In Understanding Gender Dysphoria, Mark Yarhouse seeks to provide ways for Christians to think about gender dysphoria and transgender issues. Regarding the use of biblical passages in this discussion, Yarhouse urges caution:

There is a need to balance between two hazards when we turn to the Bible to inform our discussions about gender dysphoria. The one hazard is to look to Scripture for answers it is not prepared to provide. The other hazard is to fail to critically reflect on the sociocultural context in which we live and make decisions about gender identity and dysphoria. (30, cited below)

He goes on to comment on several biblical passages (like 1 Corinthians 6:9-10) which are frequently cited in contexts of discussions about gender dysphoria.

What do you think? Do we need to exercise more caution when we cite “proof texts” related to issues like gender dysphoria? Is 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 best applied to issues of transgender identification? Are these categories valid at all?

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Source

Mark Yarhouse, Understanding Gender Dysphoria (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2015).

SDG.

 

Book Review: “Understanding Gender Dysphoria” by Mark Yarhouse

udg-yarhouse

Gender Dysphoria is “The experience of distress associated with the incongruence wherein one’s psychological and emotional gender identity does not match one’s biological sex” (20, cited below). Mark Yarhouse’s latest book, Understanding Gender Dysphoria, seeks to explore this complex topic from a Christian perspective.

Yarhouse does a phenomenal job of introducing readers to just how complex the issue is, while also providing key terms and basic level knowledge for coming to understand gender dysphoria more than they may have before. The book starts with a look at defining terms and looking at ways to offer reasoned response to gender dysphoria. He writes, “Unfortunately, one way people respond to transgender issues is to devalue the person who is gender variant and simultaneously turn to rigid stereotypes of gender” (24). The focus throughout on remembering our calling to spread the Kingdom of God and remain aware of the needs, hopes, and fears of people experiencing gender dysphoria is something of which all readers should take note.

Another very helpful aspect of the book is Yarhouse’s evaluation of responses to various issues through three primary frameworks of understanding. These are the integrity framework, which focuses on staying true to one’s biological gender; the disability framework, which sees transgender issues as a nonmoral reality that is the result of a fallen world; and the diversity framework, which focuses on celebrating and honoring persons with gender dysphoria. Through these three lenses, Yarhouse evaluates various topics like hormone therapy, sex-change operations, and the like. In doing so, he emphasizes the need to balance these three frameworks such that no one is emphasized over the others.

There is quite a bit of data packed into this relatively short book. Many studies are cited, and Yarhouse helps readers navigate through the dizzying array of results in order to try to draw some conclusions, while continuing to note the complexities involved in the topic.

Perhaps the main critique one might offer the book is that Yarhouse does leave much of the “what’s next?” up to readers. That is, although he does offer several insights into how Christians might more effectively respond to gender dysphoria, he largely provides the tools to tackle the tough problems rather than offering the solutions themselves. This is both a weakness and a strength. It’s a weakness in that I’m sure some readers will wish they had an easy solution to some of the difficult problems they may face. It’s always simpler to just use a response someone has given to us rather than coming up with our own responses. It’s a strength in that Yarhouse does provide so many tools to readers that they can go into their faith communities and communicate on the issue in an informed fashion.

Understanding Gender Dysphoria is a valuable work for those wishing to engage with transgender issues. It doesn’t answer every question that might come up, but it does give readers the tools to come up with their own answers while doing so in a loving and Christian way.

The Good

+Solid information and insights into the nature of gender dysphoria
+Excellent tone and focus on message
+Plenty of practical insights and examples
+Focus on facts
+Focus on worldview-level questions

The Bad

-Only a bare sketch of what to do next

Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of the book from the publisher. I was not asked to give any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

Source

Mark Yarhouse, Understanding Gender Dysphoria (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2015).

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

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