Potential Intrapersonal Conflicts between Christianity and Homosexuality: Better Understanding through a Resilience Perspective

Nasrudin Subhi (2010). Potential Intrapersonal Conflicts between Christianity and Homosexuality: Better Understanding through a Resilience Perspective PhD Thesis, School of Education, The University of Queensland.

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Author Nasrudin Subhi
Thesis Title Potential Intrapersonal Conflicts between Christianity and Homosexuality: Better Understanding through a Resilience Perspective
School, Centre or Institute School of Education
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-08
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr. David Geelan
Dr. Mary McMahon
Total pages 325
Total colour pages 8
Total black and white pages 317
Subjects 13 Education
Abstract/Summary This qualitative study was conducted to explore the experiences of gay men and lesbians with respect to the potentially conflicting relationship between their Christianity and their homosexuality. In exploring these experiences, a number of research questions were addressed. These included (1) what has been the respondents’ experience of religious or spiritual development?; (2) what has been the respondents’ experience of identifying as same-sex attracted?; (3) how have the respondents experienced and attempted to make sense of the potential conflict connecting religious/spiritual understandings and their homosexuality?; (4) what have been the personal effects on respondents of the conflict between their religious/spiritual understandings and their homosexuality?; and (5) what strategies were used to cope with any conflict experienced by respondents? The present research study was conducted in the Brisbane city area and its surrounding suburbs. It compromised 20 homosexual respondents encompassing 10 male and 10 female respondents. At the time the interviews were conducted the respondents’ ages ranged from 20 to 51 years with a mean age of 36.5 years old. Eight respondents identified as single while the remaining 12 respondents were in relationships, with 7 of the 12 respondents living together with their partner. In terms of respondents’ progression in denominational identification, 9 respondents progressed towards another denomination or belief system while the other 11 respondents remained within their original denomination. The recruitment process required respondents to be in any one of these criteria to be selected: (1) Christian homosexual people attached to any denominational group; (2) homosexual people who were once Christian but now describe the expression of their religion or religious practices in a different manner or (3) Christian people who once identified as gay or lesbian but currently describe their expression of their sexual identity in a different way. After each interview was completed and transcribed the emerging themes from the data were analyzed using inductive and deductive approaches to thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). The results of the present research study indicated that social influences, especially from parents, greatly influenced the respondents’ religious and spiritual development. For some respondents, parents’ influence on their religious and spiritual development was carried through into adulthood while for others it dissipated as they grew older. Religion was perceived as either a protective factor or a risk factor by respondents. In terms of sexual identity development, male respondents tended to self- identify as homosexual persons sooner than female respondents. Male respondents were also found to be more at ease with others when ‘coming out’ compared to female respondents. Half of the total respondents agreed that some fluidity occurs within sexual identity development. The study also found that a small percentage (20%) of respondents were unaffected by the potential conflict between Christianity and homosexuality. For those unaffected by the conflict, the possible explanations were that they had already abandoned Christianity before they came out as homosexual persons or they continued identifying as Christian but were not practicing and therefore not in contact with their faith communities. Nevertheless, the majority (80%) were affected by the conflict, implying that both Christianity and homosexuality were important components of their lives. Some of the ways in which participants reconciled the conflict they faced between Christianity and homosexuality included: (1) still identifying within their original denomination but redefining their Christian beliefs according to their current state; (2) moving to a much more gay friendly church environment; (3) worshipping with another mainstream denomination that is more accepting of homosexual people; (4) remaining Christian in belief but not identifying with any denomination; (5) moving to spiritual traditions other than Christianity and (6) moved to agnosticism or atheism. As these respondents struggled towards reconciliation some of the personal effects experienced, as described by respondents, include depression, self-blame/guilt, anxiety, suicidal ideation and alienation. From a resilience perspective, all of the respondents relied on ‘individual factors’ in dealing with the conflict between Christianity and homosexuality. Three prominent strategies that emerged as very important themes from within individual factors included: (1) cognitive strategies, (2) behavioural/social strategies and (3) accommodating religiosity and spirituality. At the same time, respondents were seen as preferring and utilizing more ‘external’ or ‘social environment factors’ as compared to ‘family factors’ when dealing with the conflict between Christianity and homosexuality. Implications of the present research study are discussed and limitations along with suggestions for future research are also presented. The conflict between Christianity and homosexuality is a serious and complex matter. More awareness of the nature and effects of the conflict, along with the importance of the support system, need to be fostered for those who are directly or indirectly dealing with clients in this situation.
Keyword homosexuality
gay men
potential conflict
resilience perspective
qualitative study
thematic analysis
Additional Notes 63,115,164,255,257,258,259,260 (coloured pages)

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Created: Tue, 09 Nov 2010, 15:01:44 EST by Mr Nasrudin Subhi on behalf of Library - Information Access Service