Erich Von Marthin ELraphoma
I am now pursuing a doctorate in Christian Education, focusing on the link between human sexuality and spirituality through a progressive and critical education model. I also teach as an adjunct faculty member at Jakarta Theological Seminary, where I teach Christian Education courses to undergraduate students. For several years I was involved as a member of the writing team for the Indonesian national curriculum for Christian religious education teachings and advocated for mentorship, study, and support groups for LGBT people at the Jakarta Theological Seminary, with the late Stephen Suleeman.
Erich Von Marthin ELraphoma, “Teaching Sexual Orientation Diversity for Faith Development as the Content of a Progressive Christian Education in Indonesian Churches”
Prejudices, stereotyping, and discrimination based on sexual orientation do not exist only in the public sector (society). In private contexts, such as churches in Indonesia, LGBT people are openly regarded as spiritually incompetent. This issue occurs because, for an extended period, the church’s teachings ignored the exploration of human sexualities complexity, including the diversity of sexual orientations.
The church is constrained by conventional interpretations of biblical texts, which take stories about homosexual behavior as evidence that God only recognizes heterosexual sexual orientation, despite the fact that the biblical scriptures contain no explicit reference to human sexual orientation. The church’s refusal to embrace the plurality of sexual orientations also perpetuates a tradition of western theology that dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries when Christianity was present with colonialism in Indonesia. As a result, even though LGBT people have the same spirituality as everyone else, their religiosity is not recognized.
As a subfield of theology, Christian education is responsible for educating and teaching the congregation in ways that develop and nurture their faith. Therefore, if Christian education is critical, reflective, and progressive in its understanding and teaching of the diversity of human sexual orientations (by collaborating with non-theological disciplines on the latest findings in human sexuality research), congregations can experience positive faith development on the assumption that human faith can grow and develop as James Fowler theorized.
By applying Paulo Freire’s pedagogical principle of conscientization education (Freire’s theory of conscientization was not conceived in a religious context, it may be used in principle for theological education), perhaps churches in Indonesia can gradually and steadily recognize, affirm, and accept the existence of LGBT people as members of the community of faith with the same rights and responsibilities as others; nothing is wrong with non-heteronormative sexual orientations.