Category Archives: Gay Issues

UNDERSTANDING FOLAU FOLLY

BATTERING RAM FAITH AND UNFAITH

It is an irony in its own right that the bible cited  by sports star Israel Folau sacked for “homophobia”, doesn’t employ a precise equivalent of the “homosexual” word as used and understood today any more than it includes the word “atheist” Folau seems to think belongs in scripture. But the ironies (and confusion) don’t end there, they only begin.

Criticized and now penalized Wallabies Rugby star, Israel Folau, who has declared gays are bound for hell (along with other classes of people) if they don’t repent, has something in common with atheist crusader, Richard Dawkins. In the realm of faith and unbelief respectively, both are uncompromising fundamentalist literalists.

Something neither they nor their fans would even recognize, is that both were also born under the (battering) ram sign of Aries which has a remarkable history and function in the sphere of beliefs. Neo-atheism is almost the province of Ariens – Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, A. C. Grayling. Evangelicalism like that of General Booth of the Salvation Army derived from  a fiery Arien,   while it was the missionary saint, St Francis Xavier, whose unmitigated homophobic fervour would prove a major reason Christianity failed to take root in Japan. The level of insult and abuse directed upon gay courtiers (“worse than pigs and dogs”) was considered barbarian brattishness beyond the pale. Coming up to date, Folau’s chief Australian defender of his abrasiveness as free speech justified, is the Arien broadcaster, Alan Jones.

Although it is undeniably controversial for free speech anywhere to penalize Folau  with termination of contract for his outspoken beliefs, there is an exasperating, tactless insensitivity and  confusion in them all the same,  especially as regards gays. A rather six of one and half a dozen of the other  type situation has now  arisen  as regards free speech and its censorship in Australia  because Folau is just so extreme. (He has even criticized Christians for celebrating Christmas !). Since it is well established that young gays have extra struggles of adjustment and a higher than usual suicide rate, they don’t need to have a celebrity promising them the hell fires on Instagram (especially not one who in the not distant past has not been unhappy to model for a gay magazine and be spokesperson for “diversity”. Folau has the right to change his mind without being called  a hypocrite, but he should in common decency have left any words about gays to others. For an impassioned gay response to Folau see this article in the Sydney Morning Herald shorturl.at/klrS8

If public figures must criticize gays at that level, it might be more to the point to call out, say,  those whose rave party enthusiasms help keep the drug cartels in business or again older gays who exploit the vulnerable  and inexperienced young who may have just been shunted into the big world by rejecting families. (This might  besides better approximate to the apostle’s “homosexual offenders” as a modern  translation like NIV has it).

For the likes of Folau and his supporters (who now regard him, as he plainly does himself, as a bit of martyr ready to suffer any rejection in service of Jesus!) the matter is as simple as “what the bible says” and needing to repeat it. Anglican Bishop Michael Stead of South Sydney in rather similar vein told The Australian (April 17th) if Folau did nothing more than post to social media “what is essentially a summary of the Bible, then it’s a signal to the rest of us to keep our mouths shut”….. WHAT?!  Can  the bishop be so misguided (and self interested in relation to personal freedoms) as to propose a summary of the bible or gospel is involved?!

The matter  certainly isn’t as simple as “what the bible says”  or some “summary” of it, and it’s important to realize why.

THE LIMITS OF LITERALISM

As regards specifically homosexuals, words for “homosexuals” and “homosexuality” simply don’t occur in the bible so that translation and terminology will have a lot to do with how the subject is understood today by different scholars, historians and Christians and with other statements and references in the bible taken into account.

Psychology didn’t come into the picture for the ancient world so what the bible, especially the OT, would recognize as indicated would tend to be persons, sodomites, known for acts such as would be committed by especially paganish temple prostitutes masquerading as women. It was this class of persons who got dismissed from the Jerusalem temple (but not executed) under the reforms of Israel’s King Josiah. Such were almost certainly the original target of the often cited Leviticus ban of male same sex. (But lesbians aren’t even mentioned in the OT, while if male same sex is paganish “abomination”, then so too is eating the pork many Christians eat. So let’s belatedly obtain some perspective!).

But almost more to the point for understanding biblical condemnations and any vice lists of the damned which Folau derives from St Paul to the Galatians (which unlike 1 Corinthians doesn’t include anything re “homosexual” or “homosexuality – the guy can’t quote right), let’s notice it includes liars.

Think one moment. The fact is that even the most honest people do, or need, to lie at least occasionally. The bible doesn’t endorse Kant’s “categorical imperative” according to which one should never lie. In Exodus God blesses the two righteous midwives who lied to save the Hebrew children from Pharaoh.

Thieves. Are all thieves damned? Would it be so evil for the starving to steal a loaf of bread? Obviously by thieves St Paul has in mind all those who Mafia-like spend their lives turning the wheels of corruption.

That it’s so easy in this way to start deconstructing what the bible via St Paul states, should alert us to the following:

  1. The apostle is generalizing. At most he is speaking regards what his supposedly regenerate flock should not exhibit while pointing to symptoms of a larger unregenerate state in the world beyond. But more importantly…
  2. For purposes of random, sensational quotation like Folau’s, there is anyway a certain irrelevance in these vice lists seeing  that in Paul’s understanding, there is another, more crucial generalization involved. This is that – by and large – everyone, even the good, can be hell bound. For the apostle the chief feature of society is that it is “fallen” and largely doomed. “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing” (2 Cor 4:4).

In the ancient world and before acceptance of resurrection belief became common enough to produce more RIP style optimism in even unbelievers, save in rare exceptions the post-mortem state for everyone was understood to be the darkness of Hades. This was unremitting, a version of hell. Consider the Homeric horrors of Odysseus’ visit to Hades and the souls trapped there that blood sacrifice alone can summon up  to record their misery. The gods can never save from death.

DEATH, HELL AND ALL THAT

Christianity arrived to promise deliverance from death, conditional upon especially faith and repentance. Folau is all for these and not incorrectly; it’s just that he gets the emphasis and application wrong. Without these, and because God is perfect and humanity imperfect, the two can otherwise never now be easily reconciled and. “Flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of God”(1 Cor 15:50). The regenerate soul would require nothing less than  the house of a new spiritual body via resurrection to reside anywhere but deep earth or Hades.

Today, neither faith nor repentance (lit. mind change) are popular, well understood concepts, especially amid trendy doctrines of personal autonomy and pride in self and one’s accomplishments. Faith and repentance are nonetheless secrets of meaningful spiritual change …..even if not change to the extent Folau assumes that the gay orientated person will become straight. (As the himself probably gay orientated prophet Jeremiah famously had it: “Can the leopard change his spots?” ( See my “Jeremiah’s Loincloth” feature https://wp.me/p2v96G-Hm).  The gay person needs to be responsibly rather than chaotically gay.

Though the bible does argue for God from creation, belief itself is treated less philosophically than existentially. Accordingly,  “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand” is how the Baptist introduced his ministry. It is honest recognition of human failure, brokenness and mortality which can best prompt both realization of the need for God and what the nature of God is. “Repent” in this case denotes a general direction of the mind for everyone –  a whole vice-list of those needing to repent  doesn’t come attached.

REPENTANCE AS A USEFUL PRACTICE

Providing it doesn’t descend into morbid, self-unforgiving  guilt, repentance or permanent self-criticism, is (with praise) almost the prime religious exercise. To say repentance “doesn’t work” because people keep failing, is almost but not quite irrelevant. Just as people do (or should) reckon to keep saying “sorry” if they hurt and offend others, even though they are virtually guaranteed to do so again (but perhaps less so over time!), so it is good for mind and spirit to keep “repenting” failures. It’s  the opportunity for renewal of mind and spirit. Simply to recognize one is not Superman or Superwoman for ideal performance in life can be both a relief and a means of being closer to interaction with the perfection of God. Confession to self, others and God and being forgiven by them is a profound human need inadequately understood. The rationalist poet, Goethe, couldn’t understand his irrational need for it.

It nonetheless makes sense because from a certain point of view it could be said we are anyway always a bit “wrong” even at our best (our righteousness like filthy rags as the apostle had it) and moderns especially are half neurotic living in what the writers of bible would probably regard as a state of ritual impurity from sheer lack of regular, sufficient “repentance” in  their lives. Some would even boast “I never say sorry”, but perhaps they really should for their own and everyone’s good!

NOT ALL AND QUITE LOST

Though unquestionably he does regard the whole world to be “perishing” and needing to repent,  in fairness to the sometimes severe apostle, this doesn’t mean St Paul assumed as some extremists since St Augustine and up to Folau today evidently do, that everyone, (from unbaptized infants to even the ignorant in the case of Augustine!) are all automatically lost souls. In fact, he surely negates that claim in such as Rom 2:14. However….there’s  no need to go into that subject here nor regarding hell, matters I touch on in an article Greg Sheridan’s God is Good for You: A Major Book with and odd flaw https://wp.me/p2v96G-16w What should be stressed  is where Folau’s outspokenness  puts the rules of public conversation  in an era of PC.

Folau’s pushing of his beliefs despite warnings against their unsuitability and possible danger to impressionable young minds, is  troubling. His aggressive “witness” and then his martyred stance is almost a caricature of  type of Christian role. Little good can come of it…. Except possibly that it reminds us of one thing that church leaders ignore, namely precisely the need for “repentance” as a major aspect of life  and Christianity itself, and almost as a   technique…..

FUNDAMENTALISTS WITHOUT REAL FUNDAMENTALS

….Radical change is not being preached in the majority of churches, especially where whole areas of private behaviour are concerned. A too frequent, puritanical over-emphasis on sex in the past has led in the present to an almost total silence to the point almost anything has been allowed, or at least conveniently ignored. The scandals of especially clerical sexual abuse have occurred only because it was too easy to forgive or just dismiss things where a more serious repentance was plainly required. You  don’t say  like Cardinal Pell “I’m not interested” when faced with a case of notorious abuse.

The churches, reduced almost to just arms of smiling public charity, have ceased to teach their members, let alone preach to those outside, some basic spiritual and theological principles of the faith. It is  scarcely possible  to understand what has happened through the Folau controversy otherwise. Folau’s actions and attitudes are both an accident and over- compensatory reaction to what the churches have become where beliefs and witness are concerned. There is a crisis of ignorance that neither church silence nor celebrity shouting can hope to resolve but against which Folau kicks and butts.

This is an article it should not even cross my mind as a lay person  to write. It should be  unnecessary because if they were attending to their their job so many church leaders should already have given meaningful answers to Folau and to gays and others; but so far the silence is either deafening or as in the case of the cited Bishop Stead, almost in itself another scandal of misguided thinking.  No one wins in this case. If Folau loses that’s bad for freedoms, if he wins it will  seem like open day to the uninformed, careless even eccentric treatment of religion in public. Folau is an insensitive messer should have just kept quiet and  whatever happens, he and the world  should not see  him as any martyr to the things of Christ.

 

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BEING GAY AND NOT FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY

BEING GAY AND NOT FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY

“The gay marriage issue captures brilliantly how degraded the notion of equality has become. If you listen to government ministers and gay-rights campaigners, you will believe that gay marriage is all about equality, all about equal rights. It is referred to as “equal marriage”, to drum the point home. And of course, this means that anyone who criticizes gay marriage can be written off as a friend of inequality, and no one wants to be thought of in that way………Writing in the 1950s, the great liberal thinker Hannah Arendt said: “[The] right to free association, and therefore to discrimination, has greater validity than the principle of equality.” What she meant is that if freedom and equality were put to battle, we should cheer freedom rather than equality”.     (Journalist Brendan O’Neill in talk to the British House of Lords in 2013)

THE EQUALITY AND RIGHTS LESS NEEDED

When Ireland went to referendum on same sex marriage in 2015, a leader of the No movement was a gay activist, Keith Mills. Like many people including even gays, he didn’t believe it is the function of same sex partners to be parents. It is actually possible to be gay and to hesitate, however reluctantly, in the face of what some gay activists are claiming and promoting and just how as in Australia.

I happened to be in Ireland at the time of the referendum campaign and what I saw on TV gave me a few misgivings I didn’t expect to have. It was too apparent the campaign was overly sentimental, blithely ignorant of a century or so of theory about who, what and why gays are who they are, and the laws were being chiefly treated as what atheist journalist Brendan O’Neill would call “therapy” (making gays feel good about themselves, healing wounds, preventing suicides) which it is not really the function of the laws to do. Something of the same is occurring here in Australia with activist actor Magda Szubanski getting emotional about love and toleration as though only tears could and should have authority in what is a complex, sensitive issue which will never just by itself heal wounds. Another similarity is the influence of big money and corporations like Qantas behind Yes

As an expert on aspects of the gay question (my doctorate on gay spiritualities published in UK as A Special Illumination was a world first from any religious studies dept and an associate of the Archbishop of Canterbury said it included probably the best survey of gay theology to date ( https://goo.gl/1Pr94i), I suggested an article or interview with The Irish Times on the gay and other issues. I was told it would be considered but I was never as promised got back to despite a polite reminder. Though I believe the religion writer I had dealt with was just inconsiderate and indifferent, undeniably there have been complaints Irish media was strangely hostile to anyone questioning the marriage equality movement. Supporters of No felt intimidated under the force of the massive publicity given to Yes which it was said had been flooded with funds from American multimillionaire gay activist, Tim Gill.

BE CAREFUL, YOU MIGHT GET BITTEN BY “LOVE IS LOVE”

The intimidation of No voters like the poor or irrelevant arguments proceeding from the Yes party should be noted. Too many gays are still victims, (sometimes even thrown out of their homes} but other gays, and they seem over represented in advocacy groups, can be little dictators, intent on having their way, refusing to be crossed or criticized. Two years on from Ireland and here in Australia even solicitors are claiming to feel intimidated if they express anything contrary to the ideal of marriage equality (“Solicitors afraid to speak out” The Australian 30.9.17), while a leading gay activist, Michael Barnett, is intemperately describing Australian Christian Lobby opponents as “murderers of children” and a church to which the member of a No campaign TV ad belongs has been threatened with violence. Such gays are a type that thinks of their community as so righteous and wronged none among them ever exploited inexperienced, sometimes homeless adolescents seeking affirmation and guidance, and never got them entangled in drugs and prostitution rather than love. Persons of that kind hide behind superficial individuals inside and outside their community who keep everything to sound bytes and chant mantras like “Love is Love”.

But since we do all want rights, could there really be any reason for a gay person to be against voting for marriage equality today? Actually there is; and no matter how much one might disagree with groups like The Coalition for Marriage about homosexuality per se, given the tide of events and the tenor of values in society there is some substance to No party claims about the dangers to freedom of speech, a parent’s right to choose, freedom of religion etc.

There is some drive at work that potentially undermines democracy in or through gay issues of which marriage equality is only the latest and perhaps strongest example. Politicians like Labour leader Bill Shorten have no right to say, and it’s even highly insulting, that what is being claimed on the No side is everything from “rubbish” to “cruelty”. That’s lies, ignorance or political opportunism speaking. It involves confusion about different types of rights as they apply to public and private spheres, and it involves what Brendan O’ Neill would call “phoney equality”, the type which allows no proper “discrimination” like the right of an institution or club to debar the plainly unqualified. (Gays demanding religious organizations must employ them regardless of their beliefs is rather like persons demanding on the basis of “equality” they must be entered to a music academy though they can’t and don’t wish to read music).

DIFFERENT OR SAME?

For over a century the first gay liberationists protested the rights of gays on the basis of their perceived difference from the norm but a difference that society needed and gays should work with. While plainly not all gays are Leonardo da Vinci or Alan Turing, there are qualities that sets them apart and which they and society are bound to recognize. Any equality should be about equality in difference. Gays, or at least their leaders, want to have their cake and eat it. They are happy to be seen as different, special and cutting edge and almost outside or above common laws and custom, yet they also demand to be seen and treated as completely same.

For a long time gay difference was called Uranian (including because German astrologers found Uranus strong in the birth patterns of gays). But it was generally accepted same sex orientation was somehow innate. It is conservative Christians and against Christ’s own teaching that some people are born different – the eunuch word could cover the nearest thing to gay in Jesus’ times – who like Queer theorists assume that orientation and gender are malleable. Queer theory is about identity without essence.

The Christians want the gays made straight, the Queer theorists, rather as in the Safe Schools programme, want the toleration and teaching of an endless chosen diversity and it is  the Safe Schools programme that  will almost certainly be imposed if the Yes campaign succeeds. And let no one mistake the fact the proposed change in the laws is “therapeutic” and an open sesame to many things beyond the immediate gay rights pretext. The Australian Psychology Society makes it clear enough that the marriage equality debate “is an opportunity” to discuss the varieties of sexual difference with children https://goo.gl/LBGtDt    Of course, there should be some kind of basic awareness among the young, but how much and at what age?   

I agree with anti-feminist feminist Camille Paglia in regretting how much the silly convolutions of French Queer theory with its false glamour has conquered academe. From there It has become the highly political advocate of gay causes and much else. It does so under a rainbow “diversity” and “inclusion” umbrella which is as undermining of all values as liberating and at times can be as totalitarian as the cultural Marxism to which it is linked and which positively relishes the upheaval and chaos of culture wars. You don’t easily oppose these dangerous and hypocritical people. Very recently in America a popular blogger mother who criticized Teen Vogue magazine for its bizarre advice to girls on being sodomized by boyfriends was banned from the same Twitter that lets through videos of child abuse.

UNIONS MIGHT BE BETTER

In a sense, vocally conservative Christians by never originally giving gay identity or rights an inch and remaining unrepentant of all the bullying and discrimination they had turned a blind eye to, have brought the extremer, more wide-ranging,  secular, political and amoral Queer policies to the forefront. Between Christians insisting upon conversion cures and secularist Queers pushing the “choices”  and “inclusions” conservatives are sure anyone can and should make, one can finish between the devil and the deep blue sea where rights and sensible attitudes are concerned. And both parties  again seem blind to the extent at least some of the newer trans issue they are divided over is likely a culturally influenced one.

American culture especially has long held such rigid stereotyped gender divisions of a “me Tarzan, you Jane” type that if they diverge from them individuals cannot accept themselves as they are but believe they must be of the opposite sex. In California, of course and inevitably, there is already a trans kindergarten but even in Australia children under ten are receiving therapy and treatments for conditions that adolescence and more flexible cultural attitudes might alter with time.

For long centuries especially the eastern churches had ceremonies for the union of brethren which looks as though this at least sometimes covered for gay unions. (Ironically England first invaded Ireland to help stamp out the supposed evil of such unions!). There should have been and long ago a legal form of union for the same sex orientated but not called “marriage” which is to upset mainstream sensibilities and traditions unnecessarily while it is to accord gays a social sameness they don’t quite have, and perhaps don’t quite want and perhaps today won’t in many instances quite practice once the knot is tied.  Civil unions do of course already  exist which  gays in Australia can have recourse to, but whether from the religious or secular standpoint this is not a particularly distinctive, gay specific arrangement and attitudes towards unions among gays seems wrong. One Irish Yes voter said on TV about Australian issues that unions left him feeling only 80% equal. Which is ridiculous. What is needed is some rite that lets him feel 100% involved in society as  gay and responsible as such.

Indeed, author Douglas Murray, himself gay, has pertinently hoped that gays who married would observe the laws and have understanding as regards the meaning of adultery. Clearly he doubts too many fellow gays won’t have it. Homosexuality has only just emerged culturally from a twilight zone of often necessarily fleeting encounters which hasn’t been any preparation for more solid relating. When I think of the lifestyles of the more partying kind of gays (the only type conservative Christians seem to see), I can’t imagine how they would make responsible parents even though I do seriously believe many gays can make better parents than many straights today – too many seem to have lost the plot where children are concerned. But over the years I have observed part of being gay is usually a desire to be independent and not have offspring.

Obviously some gays, especially lesbians who perhaps have more difficulty than gay males recognizing or affirming their true orientation, will have had offspring and the laws must cover for this. But whether society should accept gay parentage as so normal as to be irrelevant to or almost encouraged by any reformed marriage laws is questionable. One can encounter the parent of four children who decides they must always have been gay really (though surely they must be bisexual?) to the point of abandoning their family for the same sex partner and there are thrice married persons with children from each marriage who suddenly decide they were always of the opposite sex. It is not unreasonable and should not be deemed semi-criminal under the laws to raise questions about what is getting accepted due to “diversity” and “equality” ideals which brook no hierarchy of values……similarly to “love” if love is never allowed to distinguish between its types of expression, marital, parental, filial etc which may be in contention and require choices if they are not to end up in hopeless subjectivity and selfishness.

HOW MUCH INCLUSIVITY CAN AND SHOULD YOU TAKE?

Many would be shocked if they were aware just how inclusive queer is, including among those who pass for Christian like the late bisexual professor of Contextual Theology at Edinburgh University, Marcella Althaus-Reid, who dismissed the Ten Commandments as elitist and associated religious inspiration with adultery. This author of such books as Indecent Theology and The Queer God, wowed readers and audiences with talk of “Transcendence in Brothels”, “Mary Queer of Heaven and Mother of Faggots”, “French Kissing God”, “The Gospel and Inculturation: God the Sodomite; Leading God by a dog collar; “Find God in Dark Alleys” and much more of the kind.

I cite this profane craziness because it is a warning of how, when queers secular and religious say religion is safe under any changes they promote, it isn’t. It’s not that queer will abolish religion so much as it will offer, allow or encourage its own version of spirituality which can finish almost unrecognizable and unprecedented (unless as the prophet Jezebel of Ephesus in Revelation who teaches believers anything goes!). If there is identity without essence and in the post modern style and everything is anyway just “text”, then almost anything, including morally is admissible.

The corollary of this is that likewise every belief is acceptable, except whatever makes for any exclusive truth claim. What seems like mere paranoia from Christian lobbies is well enough supported by what has happened in England and Europe where diversity has produced a situation in which religious freedom is freedom to worship but not to endorse, promote or discuss one’s particular view without risk of legal intervention.

Jobs have been lost, court hours wasted arguing over whether Christians can wear a cross to work, needn’t bake a gay wedding cake, can offer to say a prayer for a patient, or even offer a non Christian a Christian book without its being “harassment”. And of course, no one is allowed to say they believe homosexuality is wrong. Arrests have pursued street preachers. I realize it could of course be irritating for gays to have whatever precisely St Paul may have meant about “homosexuality” (a word the bible does not contain), thrust at them. Surely it is not more of an inconvenience than living among people telling you you shouldn’t smoke or take too much alcohol? How sensitive are and should gays be, and are not some being spiteful to press charges in which people’s businesses and livelihoods are under threat ? It’s not the same as religion preventing you from getting a job or housing or, as in Russia or some Muslim societies suffering violence for who you are. (But noticeably gays like feminists have been extraordinary politically correct or plain cowardly in not criticizing Muslim societies while bullying the milder Christian ones). In democracies beliefs like opinions vary and must just be tolerated even when they displease. To  undermine  too freely and easily the  freedom of conscience principle is dangerous  even if and when you question the convictions involved.

THE UNCERTAIN FUTURE

Plainly Australia will soon go the way of England and much of Europe if it doesn’t put its foot down and perceive the very real secularist and Big Brother threat to religion and freedom of speech more generally occasioned by claims whose ultimate basis is in cultural Marxism and/or the related relativistic Queer theory. Already in recent weeks there has been the scandal of a Queensland Education proposal that children should not mention Jesus in a playground though (kind concession!) a Christmas card is OK, and now the scandal of a Sikh father in Qld bringing a sword to school because it’s his religious duty. That situation is then permitted (despite any weapon being absolutely prohibited in any school area anywhere) because provided it can be concealed beneath clothes it can be respected as a tradition.

In short, if religion poses as colourful tradition, rather in the way that LGBTQI can make inroads as identity politics, that is acceptable; but if it expresses itself as any idea, as doctrine, it risks serious disapproval, even legal action especially if it is Christian and associated with the host people who should always give down to the guest people. The post modern way is to banish all question of truth in favour of the rights of custom.

Though I believe conservative Christians have painted themselves into a corner and their theology is inadequate and not nearly as justified on the subject of difference as they imagine, I am forced to recognize the larger legal and political ramifications that their current position opens upon. Education, charity and adoption organizations all stand to be effected in the long run. Gays already enjoy a reasonably high level of acceptance within society. Unions without the marriage word could and should suffice and even be more meaningful.

Not all that glitters is gold. The equality demands that sound just and dominate the marriage equality push risk eroding truth and transparency in society and I refuse to support what makes for that erosion. Though I believe same sex partnerships should be acknowledged and legally supported in some fashion, I will not vote for gay marriage in its present form and I would warn well-meaning but arguably sentimental Christians and others who think it’s fair and trendy to vote for it: the effects of your action may come back to bite you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

QUAKES, GAYS and SOME ITALIAN ECCENTRICITY

italyquake

CENTRAL ITALY SUFFERING LIKE SODOM ?!

The recent quakes in central Italy, a quake prone area but suffering its most destructive tremors in thirty seven years, was promptly blamed on Italy’s recent legal toleration of gay unions by Fr Giovanni Cavalcoli.

The Vatican soon answered back in condemnation of such a charge – it dismissed the notion that God would punish in vengeance this way as “pagan”, pre-Christian and not part of the Church’s teaching .

Not to be cowed or outdone Fr Gionvanni, who believes all quakes are the result of human sin, riposted that the Vatican needed to read its own catechism (which disapproves homosexuality).

Not long before this a priest in Trento, Fr Gino Flaim, was suspended for the embarrassment caused the Church for apparently defending paedophilia on the radio, suggesting that it occurs because “children need affection”. It has therefore to be  accepted as a sin just as all other sins must be accepted (a quite common view among Italian clergy) but by contrast he is unsure about tolerating homosexuality because that is a “disease”.  It seems that right now one folly answers another in Italy.

ARGUMENTS BIBLICAL AND PAGAN

There’s a radical, eccentric Protestantism like that of the late Rev Ian Paisley which will attribute almost any evil to Rome and the Papacy. But if proof were needed that Catholicism really can be a blind guide, muddled and pagan to the point of being almost outside the Judaeo-Christian tradition itself, the above proves it and let’s be clear why.

1) For a start, it is unbiblical nonsense or biblical illiteracy to propose all notions of divine judgement are merely pagan or pre-Christian. The judgement idea is certainly – some would say notoriously – present in the Bible and not just in the Old Testament but also the New as in the book of Revelation which depicts the world after the times of grace. However, most essentially the Bible’s messages of wrath delivered by its Hebrew prophets, though sounding violent with the violence of their era, are not to the effect that God throws thunderbolts like Zeus. Their  message is that on account of persistent, serious evil a certain divine protection is withdrawn so that the demonic forces of chaos of a fallen world more fully take over.

This understanding is behind Jesus’ response to the question about those who died when the tower of Siloam fell (Luk 13:4). Jesus denies people there died because they were more sinful than others but that such destruction could happen to any and everyone if they failed to repent their sins. For Jesus all are basically condemned before God due to sin, (original and other) and thus in need of grace, a word of relatively little weight in Catholicism which stresses earning one’s way on earth and/or in a supposed purgatory.

Even so and popularly, it is of course  held that God judged Sodom and Gomorrah for “homosexuality” and Fr Cavalcoli echoes that tradition. But that is not what even the prophet Ezekiel declares was the case  – he saw rather pride, gluttony, indolence and ill treatment of the poor (Ezek 16:49) as the sin of Sodom. To the extent the non-biblical word “homosexuality” was involved in Sodom at all (and the men to whom Lot offered his daughters would surely be bisexual rapists in modern terms), their sin was desiring “other flesh“ (Jude 7) i.e. seeking to rape angels.

2). In making any claims of a would-be “prophetic” nature, clergy should be citing the Bible before the Catechism. But the extent to which Catholicism is not listening to, understanding or citing the Bible at all, is represented by the way it has treated its monstrous sex abuse scandals.

If the Church read the Bible it would know that while Jesus and the New Testament on such subjects as divorce and homosexuality can be and have been a matter for some degree of interpretation and debate, the abuse of children is non-negotiable. Jesus appears to consider it among the very worst of sins, something it would be better to be drowned in the depths of the sea than to commit (Luk 17:3). The idea that a priestly sex abuser be passed on to the next parish rather than be outright dismissed could only be countenanced in a milieu where the Bible is not assimilated and the whole notion of sin is taken very lightly and even common reality is not seen. A lot of paedophilia is not involved with childish desire for affection as Fr Flaim imagines but perverted adults’ desire to prey on the young, use and even terrify them.

A CONFUSED ITALIAN SPIRITUALITY

Italy and its Catholicism is still chained to a degree of refined paganism through Aristotle. His legacy via medieval philosophers still supplies a series of rationalizations of biblical teachings and ethics often so inappropriate and irrelevant they can only muddle and muddy the entire spiritual atmosphere to the point of  allowing it the sort of compromises which have left the nation victim to the mafia itself.

No matter precisely what one thinks and believes about gays and homosexuality, Fr Cavalcoli was wrong. A democratic society must tolerate its minorities and Italy was not wrong to grant gay unions. God won’t send quakes and in a historically known quake area besides for just that. Religiously and socially “marriage equality” (which Italy hasn’t passed) will always be more controversial because of various implications  especially as regards the adoption and rearing of offspring. Even notable gays, including in Italy Dolce and Gabbana and in Ireland the gay activist Ken Mills, have raised questions about this. It’s not a social change that can and should be argued from “equality” alone.

Although undeniably “marriage equality” raises questions for both Christians and gays, it is and will always remain a minority issue. It is nothing like as important as the massive corruption and mafia involvement in Italian life. These truly would constitute issues for the biblical prophets. While individual priests and even popes may now and again address this endemic problem, unfortunately Italian Catholicism is so entangled in the legacy of scholastic philosophy and a cult of saints that it looks set to continue along its muddled way now under the guidance of a well meaning but contradictory, eccentric Pope.

Pope Francis has so reduced his faith to a modern quasi-Marxist ritual of good works that, once again against all biblical basics and norms (which declare that without faith it is impossible to please God Heb 11:6), he has decided that good atheists and in effect everyone who does their bit of charity is bound for eternal bliss. This new, weak and confused Catholicism, plainly unable to face the Islamic challenge in any serious way, looks set to drag Italy down with it. It is a Christian virtue to forgive enemies, but the smiling Francis can’t even see who are the enemies to forgive in the first place. While Christians suffer genocide in parts of the world and Catholics like Aasia Bibi continue to languish in Pakistan’s jail for the “blasphemy” of daring to protest her Christian identity against bullies, Francis  will speak of “our Muslim brethren” like some kind of post-Christian globalist.

It is quite possible like Tobias Jones in The Dark Heart of Italy both to love and admire Italy and to be appalled at its corruption. I didn’t make a long article longer by speculating upon possible upcoming dangers for Italy, but I do think my unusual and revealing summary of Italian life and mind, including its religion (http://wp.me/p2v96G-OA) is and will prove well justified.

 

 

 

CAN YOU BE DR MICHAEL BROWN AND A CHRISTIAN?

THE STAR CHRISTIAN WHO SHOULDN’T BE ONE

Dr Michael Brown – insultingly and damagingly some would say – doesn’t believe anyone ever has the right to call themselves a “gay Christian”. He has written a book Can You Be Gay and Christian? to insist you can’t. He has also stressed the point in a recent (June 28th), much anticipated debate with Matthew Vines, author of God and the Gay Christian on Moody Radio.

My question is can Michael Brown be called a Christian, and should Christians like those of  Charisma News and Christian Post who give him space, interviews and general star billing as some kind of religious authority, despite his approval of even Uganda on homosexuality,  accept him as any voice of and for Christianity. The answer is yes if you care to approve ideas and trends you have no place as Christians to be doing.

THE BROWN/VINES GAY DEBATE

I will briefly review some of the points made in the recent debate. Vines started from the position that while all the Bible’s rare references to same sex behaviour are negative, none are negative towards real relationship, to refuse the possibility of which can be seriously damaging to people. He might usefully have mentioned but didn’t, that the Leviticus ban, the core   issue along with Paul in Romans 1, was understood by the first century Jewish philosopher, Philo, to refer to pagan shrine prostitution (Philo, The Special Laws, III, VII, 40-42). It makes most sense if such is the case, and there’s little question that Paul, much influenced by the apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon in Romans 1, makes a close association of his unnatural sinners (whoever precisely they  are ) with pagan idolatry. Brown of course makes the Leviticus ruling a principle of universal natural law it is not presented as being and which much of the Torah including on sex never is – would Brown wish to campaign for raped women marrying their rapists, a ruling deeply involved with the most ancient  values quite irrelevant to Christians and even Jews today?

Brown proposed there is zero tolerance for and nothing positive said or indicated for same sex relations the length of the bible whose call is simply to deny oneself, not to affirm oneself.

Well, obviously we are meant to affirm and love ourselves (which some gays may have difficulty doing amid hostility) because the commandment is to love our neighbour as ourselves. So plainly there’s denial and denial to consider.

Brown compared the gay situation to that of the gospel’s rich young ruler who sadly denies discipleship to cling to his money. The comparison is false and misleading. Money is something one can be reasonably objective about if one tries. A person’s most instinctive, spontaneous sense of self and ability to relate is something very different, and personally I would say that beyond the romantic/erotic attraction Vines defends, being genuinely gay  engages an entire psychology and world view as any cultural studies can show. It’s not for the denying in the way Brown imagines.

MICHAEL BROWN’S GAY NEGATIVE BIBLE

Brown’s claim there is nothing gay positive the length of the bible is merest opinion. It doesn’t allow anyone else ( myself included as a gay scholar and theologian), their opinions to exist. In various of my books and in the article God and the Gay Gaps in Matthew Vines’s Vision (http://bit.ly/1izBz2C) I refer to everything from the plainly same sex attraction of David and Jonathan who have a covenant/marriage, through the unmarried Jeremiah and his ignored but real homoeroticism, to the more dangerous territory of Jesus and John (it’s Brown’s fellow Jewish Christians like Bishop Hugh Montefiore and Canon Paul  Oestereicher who have suggested Jesus’ humanity was probably “homosexual” by current standards) and Jesus’ teaching about “eunuchs” born differently. In the times of Christ eunuch didn’t automatically refer either to castrates or even celibates. So I don’t agree with even Vines that the Bible is negative about everything same sex.

Brown protests that no goodness of relation could justify the sin involved in anything gay. He bolsters this idea with the claim the Bible offers nothing but an Edenic pattern for sex and relating. Humanity is not created with their “parts” to fit other than heterosexually. And there’s no emotional or spiritual compatibility possible save between opposite sexes.

Even ignoring that many Christians today take Eden more as parable than history, what nonsense! Then, even ignoring as regards gay compatability potential that David’s love for Jonathan was self-declared to be above that for women, what we must affirm is that the design argument is as silly and irrelevant as claiming that because the mouth was made for eating it was not made for kissing also. And homosexuality is anyway not against or unknown to nature generally, it is simply a variation intelligent people should accept. But then Brown also contends that people (properly submitted to the Lord!) have left homosexuality behind. Change is possible.

To the last point Vines protests that Exodus and its former leader Alan Chambers would deny the cure claims though he personally accepts that some people do have a “fluid” sexuality but it should be clear enough most people don’t. He accepts that observed stability of orientation and its implications for relation is a rather modern issue. (I somewhat question this for reasons other than Brown – what were all the medieval church marriages of brethren about?).

MICHAEL BROWN’S GAYS AGAINST GOD

For Brown, to suggest the relationship issue is modern is tantamount to accusing God of writing a bad bible oppressing us for centuries. It suggests Jesus didn’t understand orientation as we do (I would insist Jesus very much did realize there was a gay orientation even if Paul didn’t) and it places sex before all else as an identity in a purely modern way. And what about the claims that the likes of a man fixated on pre-teen girls could make if we concede to gay demands, asks Brown?

Here Brown is getting really ridiculous, though as regards the bad bible idea this is just fundamentalist and pedantic literalism at work. Brown’s Bible gets read like the Koran, every word direct from heaven. As there is no room for any cultural or personal or historical filters to the revelation.  The supposed plain sense is all that matters and interpretation scarcely exists. All that does exist is people defying and challenging the God-dictated Bible with their false opinions and self-affirmations….. But the Taliban could and do bring the same kind of charges against supposedly lax or liberal Muslims!

As to those Brown mentioned who could claim rights for their fixation on pre-teens, paedophiles in effect, let’s note (against the terrible fundamentalist libel that gay and paedophile is more or less the same thing) that paedophiles often turn out to be fathers of families or visitors of prostitutes. They are not fixated on youth to the exclusion of all else but just playing around with an alluring alternative.

Contrary to what Brown assumes, as I pointed out in the article prior to this, we DO have the right to challenge and argue with scripture, not totally dismiss and ignore it but meaningfully question it without being condemned as hopeless egotists or blasphemers. In Numbers 27 the daughters of Zelophehad challenge the justice of a Torah ruling and it is changed in their favour.  ( Rather along these lines, Jewish commentary on Torah I have, says that in the light of what we know and the great complexity of the subject, Leviticus on n  same-sex needs re-assessment, an issue taken to the leaders of the faith for special guidance).  In Acts 10: 14  we have Peter denying the call to change given in vision because it appears to go against scripture. We are supposed as per Revelation to hear “what the Spirit says to the churches (Rev 2:11) not just the bible. I have also pointed out that I believe some evidence of revelation on things gay today exists, but conservative Christianity isn’t even beginning to listen to it. Sola Scriptura mania stops its ears.

THE WEEPING INTRANSIGENT

I won’t go further as regards the (uninspiring) debate. Instead I will comment a little upon the frustrating character of Michael Brown with its deceptive “this hurts me more than you” approach to his theme and which has him saying he has felt pain and wept at the pain of homosexuals….at the same time as he believes in zero tolerance for their opinions.  Facts like for example – and disgracefully to a Christian community – someone Vines knew was in danger even of going out in public once he had admitted to his orientation, still doesn’t leave Brown questioning whether his Koranic, Taliban-style attitude to bible,  (bibliolatry), truly works and makes for justice, righteousness and health. Suicides, breakdowns, depression, nothing moves Michael Brown. His Bible is necessarily as right as was the Inquisition’s Pope and Church.

People tend not to understand such a mentality and Christians who promote persons like Brown tend not to inquire into it, but I’m afraid  I do and must. I can moreover see a few things via that mode of analysis that is as much “abomination” to evangelical Christians as homosexuality itself, namely the astrology that despite Talmudic rabbis and Essenes on the subject they see unilaterally fit to condemn as forbidden “divination”.

Michael Brown who was born a Jew but became a Christian following a youthful career as drug addict, is a Piscean, the weeping “I’m in pain” kind. (Ironically his nadir, Matthew Vines, is also a Piscean as was John Boswell of the ground breaking Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality. At the end of the Piscean era, whose end Christians should be taking very seriously, Pisceans are having a big day out on the gay theme before the inevitably more individualized and gay friendly Aquarian era fully dawns).

Neptune “rules” Pisces and, afflicted, is major in the charts of addicts of any sign. I rightly guessed I would find Neptune afflicted at Brown’s birth, – the pattern is Neptune square Uranus and quincunx Sun in Pisces. Afflicted Neptune also inclines to muddled facts and major illusions such as Brown tends to display in his shocking lack of awareness of the kind of responsibilities he has for evangelical influences in Africa and Russia on gay issues. He sees himself as Pisceans often do, as kindly, sensitive, helpful.

The fact that Brown just can’t leave gay issues alone is involved with the fact he has the gay planet Uranus in positive trine aspect to his natal sun which could help make him very gay sympathetic….except that there are the Neptune afflictions and on the sexual level fluidity and bisexuality have much to do with these; so he feels a constant need to defend his borders lest the Piscean waters overflow, so to speak.

I don’t like to criticize Messianic (Christian) Jews as they can sometimes have a rough and alienated time of it (which itself might have taught Brown a few things about the gay situation) but Brown belongs to the crazy wing of Jewish Christian. There has been some association with sensations seeking Sid Roth who just recently has been promoting a Messianic rabbi who will improve your prayer efficiency by reciting things in Hebrew. Roth has even promoted supernatural kits to induce greater nearness to God and power while for the height of scandal and presumption which surely no gay Christian could reach, selling CDs to help you manage to speak in tongues properly! In short Roth is not far off Simon Magus himself. One should beware such people and the Browns who associate with them.

There is more one could say. I won’t however say more than I think it’s time Dr Brown either told himself, or the Christian community told him, to find some other subjects than the gay one to engage him. I am far from commending all that leaders of the gay community or even notable gay Christians say and do, but to avoid unnecessary spiritual and psychological damage, contributions like those of Brown should be opposed. It’s absolutely not good enough  to in effect excommunicate gays inside and outside the churches from  Christ and Christianity from the outset by declaring there’s a 100% heterosexual bible which they must accept or else.

It’s not only untrue about the Bible but it’s an offence to some people’s deepest sense of integrity as regards who and what they are. This is not the way of Christ who didn’t turn away the almost certainly gay centurion who wanted his “boy” cured, and it must not be presented as such. Some will never cope, a few from conservative  homes may at worst   go suicidal while Brown  smiles sweetly on and requests prayer support in his spiritual battle against gay “agendas”. But suppose he is himself a part of the spiritual problem,  preventing God’s word to this generation being  heard?

I accept that Brown has suffered some  merely scurrilous attacks from gay extremists that most of us would never approve, but to some extent he is too upsetting a figure not to  have invited  something of this.  The weeping Christian, the avuncular image, the martyr to truth I think Brown sees himself as being, in reality are scarcely more helpful than the Taliban imposing Sharia law for people’s best whether they see it as such or not. The tears don’t excuse the mistakes, I’m afraid. People do  get hurt and confused as Brown rattles eagerly on. And he does speak very fast.

Other gay theological articles and poetry at :

https://gaythoughtsblog.wordpress.com/