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STRAINED RELATIONS: The Challenge of Homosexuality, by Bill Muehlenberg

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 Contents - Nov 2011AD2000 November 2011 - Buy a copy now
Homily: Benedict XVI: From his All Saints Day homily - Pope Benedict XVI
Ad Limina: The Australian bishops' 2011 ad limina visit to Rome - Michael Gilchrist
News: The Church Around the World
Pastoral visit: Benedict XVI calls his visit to Germany 'a great feast of faith'
The Lion of Munster: Blessed Cardinal von Galen: a voice against tyranny - Babette Francis
WYD Madrid: World Youth Day 2011: Experiencing Christ's presence - Dr Joe Santamaria
WYD Madrid: World Youth Day: Becoming sons and daughters of Christ - Sam Rebbechi
Society: Finding hope in the midst of secularism - Cardinal Raymond Burke
Saints: G.K. Chesterton: Is there a case for his canonisation? - Karl Schmude
Letters: Catholic schools - Don Gaffney
Letters: First Parents - Fr Brian Harrison OS
Letters: World Youth Day Madrid balance sheet - Fr Edward P. Evans
Letters: Planetary Spirituality - Grahame Fallon
Letters: Climate change - P.C. Wilson
Letters: Immoral policies - Anthony English
Letters: Vatican II - Kathleen Donelly
Letters: Atheism - Fr Bernard McGrath
Letters: Same sex marriage - Brian Harris
Letters: Islam - John Frey
Letters: Catholic healthcare for Cairns - Dr Tim and Anne Coyle
Letters: New parish in India - Fr S. John Joseph PP
Letters: Advocate needed - Oliver Clark
Books: STRAINED RELATIONS: The Challenge of Homosexuality, by Bill Muehlenberg - Dr Joe Santamaria (reviewer)
Books: ST THOMAS BECKET, by Michael Green - Michael E. Daniel (reviewer)
Books: SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI, by Ivan Gobry - Br Barry Coldrey (reviewer)
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Reflection: The Church's architecture: faith translated into vision - Bishop Arthur Serratelli

A veritable goldmine of information on homosexuality

The Challenge of Homosexuality
by Bill Muehlenberg
(Freedom Publishing, 2011, 256pp, $26.95, ISBN: 978-0-646-56095-3. Available from Freedom Publishing)

I first met Bill Meuhlenberg around 1990 in the offices of the Australian Family Association (AFA), an organisation that was founded by my late brother B.A. Santamaria. I had been involved with activist pro-family groups for a number of years and Bill was recruited by my brother to assist in the work of the AFA.

Eventually he became a national vicepresident of the AFA and a founding member of the Family Council of Victoria. In the 1990s he was for a time the national research co-ordinator of the Australian division of Focus on the Family.

Bill quietly established an international reputation as an eloquent defender of the natural family based on the international instruments of the United Nations and his own research on marriage and family formation. He developed a website CultureWatch and has now hundreds of articles published in reputable journals or delivered at conferences internationally. He has a B.A. with honours in philosophy and postgraduate degrees in Theology and has broadened his interests to include ethics, apologetics, drug addiction and other social issues that impact on family life.

Public debates

This latest book, Strained Relations, had a long gestational period of over 20 years. It draws together in discrete chapters what had been essays on the topic of homosexuality. The author was involved in many public debates on this multifaceted subject and in doing so collected data and references that now reflect his wide knowledge and depth of study of this tortuous controversy. Much of the evidence was derived from sources published by the homosexual community in their own newsletters and journals.

As one proceeds through this book one is aware that it is a compendium that probes a complex field of public debate wherein lies a battlefield of colliding philosophies. The reader must take care to distinguish between evidence that is factual and opinions that pose as facts but are mere homosexual rhetoric to bamboozle the unwary.

There are many instances revealed in this book where certain premises used by the homosexual lobby need to be challenged and there are times when one must draw out the illogicality of an idea to reveal its deficiencies. The author is adept in exposing what is often a process of self-justification of one's behaviour or simply a process of propaganda for a particular lifestyle.

In Part 1, Bill Muehlenberg draws attention to the fact that any publication on homosexuality will generate polarised exchanges between those who hold opposing opinions on the lifestyle of this form of sexual behaviour. The population of homosexuals is not homogeneous nor are their militant advocacy techniques universally supported by all homosexuals. The social and medical outcomes are diverse and often confronting to those who hold so-called traditional values towards family structures that have been acculturated into most societies over many centuries.

This intertwining of issues that arise between those who espouse different forms of sexual behaviours and lifestyles is broken down into separate chapters which highlight the social agendas and strategies advocated through political systems and religious practices. The author takes considerable pains to present the arguments of opposing viewpoints that open up the fields of human rights, anti-discrimination laws, religious teaching and long surviving social institutions which have served as normative influences in shaping human societies.

The author studies the strategies of the opposing forces as each strives to gain ascendancy in the political power struggles. He observes with concern the successes gained by the homosexual lobby in the increasingly secularised and relativistic Western nations and expands on his misgivings about the fracture of Christendom by anti-religious forces such as the Greens, especially in Europe.

Theological studies

Bill Meuhlenberg has a clearly articulated preference for the role of the Judeo-Christian influence over the last four thousand years. For this reason, he has also pursued theological studies at a postgraduate level which he has linked to his knowledge of history, sociology, philosophy and ethics. This development is presented in Part 2 of Strained Relations and for this reason he will doubtless be subject to ferocious attack from the militant sections of an expanding atheistic opposition.

His weapons of defence will be the excellent presentation of his arguments in this well constructed publication (thanks to John Ballantyne of Freedom Publishing). It will flow over to his website CultureWatch and to his many supporters who will need to have this compendium at close call. It is a veritable goldmine of information that will sharpen their knowledge at moments of public participation in the debates that lie ahead.

However, in writing this review, I was conscious of its subtitle - The Challenge of Homosexuality. The book has the potential to become a definitive text on a subject with wide ramifications. It is likely to have a large circulation in various formats and I would like to make some suggestions for future editions.

Firstly, it needs a glossary of terms likely to be used in the broad context of a public debate. To this should be added an index of authors and subjects so that readers can easily consult the original sources to verify and validate the claims recorded in this book. If, as I suspect, it becomes a major resource for students and research workers, the addition of these convenient sections will prove valuable for potential readers. A short chapter about Bill Meuhlenberg and his credentials would also help.

Strained Relations will arouse interest in the impact that a practising homosexual person has on family structures and dynamics. One of the great failures of drug policy advisors in many countries around the world is that they have ignored the harm done to family members - parents, siblings and offspring - of drug users. One could easily write a monograph on the flawed philosophy espoused by such academic consultants.

It is important to know about any institutions, facilities, self-help groups and other organisations (such as Courage and EnCourage) that provide services for those who need help and support for problems associated with the homosexual lifestyle. A chapter should be added to provide such information.

Sporting authorities

An important addition would be some reference to the role of sporting authorities. The Akermanis episode in Australian Rules Football in mid-2010 highlighted the responsibilities of sporting bodies that deal with thousands of young men and women at a vulnerable period of their lives. When Akermanis said that other footballers would feel uncomfortable if a teammate openly announced he was a practising homosexual, he had in mind the impact such an admission might have in the changing rooms when sexual arousal may occur in the practising homosexual.

In today's world, the sporting clubs hold positions of trust in regard to younger players who have sporting ambitions, especially as parents agree to allow young athletes to accept deep commitments to training regimes and travel arrangements for extended periods of time. Possible sexual abuse or harassment is gravely disturbing to young people and their parents. Akermanis had every right to say publicly what he did but the response from the management committees of the AFL was far from reassuring in the present climate of "gay advocacy" and the outrage against sexual abuse by youth leaders and chaplains.

I offer these thoughts as a retired physician who has had friends among the homosexual population who attended me as patients either privately or in public hospitals. But I am also aware that there are grave social and medical problems ahead if we ignore the darker aspects of the militant arm of homosexual activism.

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 24 No 10 (November 2011), p. 16

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