Junaid Jahangir has a beautiful editorial describing the complexities many conservative Muslims encounter in discussing homosexuality. Bound by a respect for tradition and orthodoxy, which is typically seen as offering little guidance other than condemnation, how can they effectively minister to a gay person.
The gay person is counseled to use denial, repression, scapegoating, and pseudoscience mixed in with theology to “cure” their sexual orientation. But as other groups including major psychological and psychiatric organizations and ex-gay ministries have discovered, attempts to change sexual orientation can be profoundly damaging and in many cases futile.
I don’t doubt the sincerity of intention of those that have claimed to have been changed or saved but I do know much about lying deeply to oneself and others about my sexual orientation. Can I fake it just to make it in a hetero-dominant paradigm, maybe, but at what cost?
Conservative Muslim leaders must revisit their celibacy prescription for our gay children.
When our gay sons and daughters approach conservative religious authorities for counsel, they encounter people who themselves are struggling with modernity and faith. These leaders are either trained as imams or have spent a lot of time studying religion despite their professional education. Either way, they have come to love and cherish a tradition, which offers them meaning and comfort in an ever-changing world.
Change, however, is particularly difficult for them as they have emotionally and intellectually invested in what is to them an eternal tradition that carries all the answers. As such, for new developments they have to ensure that any change does not come at the expense of their inviolable rules and way of life.
Moreover, change is possible for them if they can find variant opinions within the tradition, as in the case of female-led prayers. Even then, many would rather prefer that a Qur’anic or prophetic text unambiguously allow for the permission of a particular act. As such, it becomes incredibly difficult if not impossible to revisit the issue of homosexuality on which the tradition offers no other view than severe condemnation.
Conservative leaders find themselves in a bind. On the one hand, they encounter Muslim gays and lesbians and on the other hand they lean on traditional proscription of homosexuality. Given their unwavering faith in a tradition shaped by the verses on Lot’s people, they try to grapple with the reality of our gay sons and daughters. They desperately try to find blame and prescribe cures for what to them is the anomaly of homosexuality.
The reality is that they are finding it increasingly difficult to reasonably prescribe prayer-based therapy and marriage as solutions. Their initial opposition to the medical and psychiatry consensus on sexual orientation based on reparative therapy studies has been severely weakened…
Continue reading at the Edmonton Journal website: Muslim Leaders Struggle to Advise Gay Youth