WHY PRINCE CHARLES’ APPEAL TO MUSLIMS WON’T BE HEARD
….Or perhaps I mean heard but not acted upon. The Prince wants Muslim leaders for the sake of everyone to acknowledge and raise a voice, rather than remain (as they mostly and usually do) silent in the face of the persecution of minorities, especially Christians. ow.ly/DOU1C
More than one report has recently defined Christians as the most persecuted group in the world and the Prince correctly notes Muslim societies are over-represented in the tally of those nations which demonstrate discrimination and intolerance. (North Korea is worst).
You wouldn’t necessarily think such was the case from, for example, media reports. Here in Australia, (perhaps because its international TV news relies so heavily upon Al Jazeera as a source), we heard almost more about the small Yezidi minority than the many thousands of Christian suffering in Iraq. The UN provided shelter for them before any Christians for whom Christian aid agencies have been sending out desperate pleas.
The rights and safety of Christians are almost an afterthought for most western leaders and especially America’s President Obama who rarely speaks for them unless under massive pressure at home and he has almost rushed in to stress nobody is suffering more under IS than Muslims, which is not strictly true. Even if it were true, it is hardly something to propose so breezily when Christians are being raped, tortured and their children forced into marriages or sold as sex slaves. As Majid Rafizadeh, president of Harvard’s International American Council of the Middle East has just said, “It is confounding to ponder why the mainstream media, President Barack Obama, and many other liberal political figures still remain silent about the increasing persecution of Christians in Islamic countries”.
Only this last week there has been yet another horrific act of persecution against Christians in Pakistan, a regularly serious and gross offender in this area, though not even sweet Poster Child Nobel prize winning liberty advocate Malala will be telling you quite how much. She is brave and says good things but of the kind the West wants to hear, namely about the safety of women, not of religious beliefs. A poor Christian couple, the wife pregnant, was battered and burned to death at the kiln where they were indentured labourers by a hysterical mob of over a thousand, screaming for their blood ( ow.ly/DShXH). This was because a rumour had gone out that the couple had thrown out pages of a Koran when the wife had been clearing their home following the recent death of her mother. Pakistan’s ever controversial anti-blasphemy laws themselves finish a kind of blasphemy against life, truth and justice as they allow any rumour to be floated but no charges to be laid against those falsely launching them or victim to ubiquitous vigilante violence. Pakistan, as some of its own leaders admit, is a deeply corrupt society. It looks as though it prefers pious persecution on almost any pretext to true reform.
SILENCE AS CHARITY
What the Christian and liberal standpoint of the Prince and others might however be said to overlook is that silence itself, a refusal to approve what is going on in Iraq and elsewhere, is the charity and almost necessarily so given that there is nothing in the Koran that would notably encourage anyone to support minorities which are all liable to be deemed infidels. While it may be that the stronger controversial statements against Jews and Christians owe more to the Hadith (a collection of alleged sayings of Mohammed and his associates rather than the Koran itself), even so, it is stated in the Koran that Muslims should not be friends of infidels (3:28).
True and famously, there are numbers of verses which enjoin a respect and friendship of sorts for “people of the Book” (Jewish/Christian bible), but the problem, the loophole for fundamentalist extremism, is that what the people of the same Book assert, such as in the case of the Christians that they identify the Messiah with God, is denied and condemned (5:17) rendering them with the infidels in effect. It is also affirmed that Christians mostly do evil anyway (5:66)!
Ultimately, how could the average Muslim oppose on the behalf of dissidents what other Muslims are doing that spreads or defends the faith without before long being accused of apostasy and being ostracized? Those Muslims like the Grand Mufti of Syria who do believe in and advocate peace with toleration of non Muslims, have received great abuse from fellow Muslims – there have been death threats to himself and his sons. Conversion out (apostasy) is not permitted in the religion, and theoretically carries a death penalty.
Somali scholar Abdisaid Abdi Ismail’s recent book, The Rule of Apostasy In Islam: Is it True? has already occasioned him the rage of Muslims, death threats, separation from his family and he has been thrown out of hotels in Kenya and Uganda, a situation in extreme ironic contrast to the freedom and sometimes star treatment accorded such as the tiresomely impudent returned Muslim, Reza Aslan, who in America and the liberal West is free to criticize the gospels and Christianity in any publication he likes. The greatest charity Islam can show the infidel or convert is to let them, like Meriam Ibrahim earlier this year in South Sudan, leave the country, (be exiled). And as in the case of Pastors Saaed and Irani in highly intolerant Iran (whose conditions the Iran born Aslan never seems to protest), that may not happen. Or it won’t happen while a weak, temporizing, quasi Muslim Obama exerts no strong pressures to get even imprisoned and tortured American citizens who are Christian out of the country.
IS AS THE “TRUE” WARRIORS
Recently IS, no matter how much Muslims and others care to state they are not representative of “true” Islam, have been attempting to drive out and sometimes wipe out Christians from Iraq and Syria. They are given the options of conversion, paying religious tax (jizya), exile or execution. Interpretation and translation of scriptures are of course always hotly debated, but plainly IS feels they are doing what they do on a basis at least partly justified by such verses “slay all the unbelievers wherever you find them” 2:91 – which is only what Ottoman Turks did to half the population of Christian Armenia in 1915 in an act that inspired Hitler’s Final Solution. (That Turkey has never subsequently regretted this in the way wars usually are, is probably due to the belief its behavior was religiously sanctioned). 5:33 rules to maim or crucify or banish those who make “war against God” or who “spread disorder” in their country.
Not that the minorities of Iraqi Christians and others like Yezidis and Mandaeans have been doing that. IS is exceeding its remit in this respect like the Ottomans before them, but even to say anything in favour of one’s alternative faith, especially to proselytize is dangerous. Indeed the latter is absolutely forbidden in most Muslim societies (it would in itself almost certainly be treated as “spreading disorder”). This is a situation which nevertheless and practically, is to deny normally accepted religious rights (not to say the human rights to “free speech” of Christians) extremely. The day when Christianity can be even described in Muslim countries by Christians themselves will be the day something like human rights might be said to exist there.
Christ’s disciples were told as almost his last words to them, to preach the word in the whole world. So a non-missionary church is scarcely a true church, certainly not any free one. Just recently an Egyptian Copt, one of a group of people in existence long before Islam, was sentenced to 6 years prison for merely “Liking” a Facebook page about a group of former Muslims. Even his Christian village was attacked by outraged Muslim fanatics. http://goo.gl/YRdWyN. In Saudi even private worship is banned to non Muslims, presumably because since the Koran describes infidels as impure and perverse (9:30 ) the very earth is polluted by their presence in Islam’s most sacred territory!
Plainly there is little scope for negotiation here! Under IS minorities generally have been targeted, including even Muslim ones, but as said, overall it is Christians who recently have borne the brunt of recent troubles while receiving least sympathy and attention for it – Prince Charles moreover stresses that the situation is particularly bad because Christianity is now being erased from its 2000 year homeland, a major tragedy in itself. (One might add that also tragic is that the Palestinians, for whom sympathy seems boundless in the liberal West, have been doing everything possible to rid even Bethlehem and Nazareth of Christians. And the West is naïve enough not to imagine or perceive that at least some Palestinians intend no peace whatsoever towards Israel (hear what they teach in their schools and broadcast on their radios!) but will agree to any division of the land, any new situation that facilitates the longer term aim of being rid of an Israel they don’t acknowledge can and should exist). Peace may be spoken of, but the West is blithely ignorant of how by the principle of takkiya, truth in dealings with infidels is not required so that the best sounding agreements and promises may mean nothing.
MEDIA AND WESTERN MYOPIA
Prince Charles’ statement comes as a spanner thrown in the works of modern media which despite the current extent of exile and genocide for Christians in the Middle East is seriously under-emphasized by a secular and sometimes almost anti-Christian media which is concerned, perhaps selfishly, in keeping things quiet at home and shoring up liberal multicultural values at all costs by never asking or expecting Muslims like the Prince to face a few basic facts.
The facts are admittedly sometimes grave and bewildering for especially the more moderate Muslims some of them left reeling under the shock of offspring radicalized and disappeared, apparently for ever, to fight with IS. What perhaps for the first time they are being forced to absorb, is that essentially the faith they subscribe to is involved with the aim of a world domination achieved if necessary through force. The very appeal of IS is that it seems to be fulfilling that aim and that it is even engaging the last and apocalyptic war which will arise through Syria.
And although some will protest the Koran should be read more symbolically and allegorically, in most places where Islam is well established it is not and has not been so. So if there are indications that (some if not all) Jews are the children of apes (7.166) and according to the Hadith (Sayings) they are to be wiped out before the Last Judgement, all sorts of negative policies get justified. Meanwhile the Christians/infidels are to be subdued, tolerated if they pay taxes and show themselves submissive (9:29) because Islam is all about, indeed means “submission”.
There is a reason that Christians are the poor, mostly servants and road sweepers despised and exploited in Muslim nations like Pakistan and Eygpt, not able to rebuild churches, rarely able to get justice at law for the worst crimes against them. The discrimination is as good as mandated and is hardly ever challenged. Christians exist to be made dhimmis in a state of dhimmitude. It is also hardly ever challenged either by a once Christian West which in its post Christian weakness (decadence) pours aid into the most relentlessly persecuting societies like Iran and Afghanistan for whom privately the aid is doubtless regarded as the jizya tax that infidels, whose day of reckoning awaits, ought to be handing over and therefore no more than is due. It is not perceived as any kind of charity for which to be grateful. Every concession liberals and interfaith Christians make, is liable not to be appreciated as tolerance but a step on the way to required submission.
Christians and Western liberals seem ignorant of how traditional Islam, a warrior religion if ever, divides the world up into dar-al- Islam and dar-al-harb, the house of war. Everywhere where Islam is not prevalent is “the house of war”. Peace is not what mainstream Islam is about except as indicating the final state of humanity submitted to Islam and Sharia law however long it takes. Muslims however don’t see themselves as aggressors but rather as warrior martyrs, victims, because they are told not to be the aggressors until they have pretexts and are victims in effect(2: 194). This is partly why Muslims complain and protest so much within non Muslim societies and as in Muslim Pakistan listen to every rumour They must have reasons to impose themselves, so reasons are sometimes found by almost any means.
Some Muslims understand the real meanings and know the score. It is why Ayaan Hirsi Ali abandoned Islam and has told Muslims they should do likewise and espouse either atheism or Christianity because the God of the latter suggests more by way of love. (Raised a Syrian Muslim, writer Wafa Sultan, goes so far as describe the religion she knew as not being one of love – A God who Hates is the title of one of her books). It was not least on account of its doctrine of forgiveness that at great risk “Son of Hamas”, Mosab Hassan Yousef, converted out to Christianity.
A CONTESTED NAME AND REVELATION
What’s certain, but Christians don’t seem to get the message, is that the name of Allah – now forbidden under Malaysian law to Christians as a word they may use for God – is not a name that can be considered identical with the God of the Bible, whose covenantally revealed name is YAHWEH/ Jehovah of whom Jesus is an expression. Some Christians and Muslims might wish or intend to worship the same in terms of a monotheistic oneness concept, but for Christians Allah cannot be God’s name. It represents a different principle and doctrine including the possibility of relation as opposed to solely worship and obedience, so that in a sense Muslims are correct to tell Christians not to use the Allah word. Islam believes in an absolute as opposed to a unitive, inclusive one (i.e.the biblical echod as opposed to the absolute singularity of yachid) and condemns any Trinitarian thought accordingly. (It calls it “polytheism” not inclusive one).
Muslims are also correct after a fashion in regarding what is happening as an end of times or end or era, situation. Many are persuaded to go to Syria because of certain Hadith (sayings) attributed to such as a companion of Mohammed, Abu Hurayreh, which seem to locate Syria as a site of last battles on the way to the renewed Muslim Caliphate and world domination.
END OF ERA CONFLICT
It’s true we are at the end of the age of Pisces which Christ’s birth heralded. An across board spike in turmoil, suffering, death and martyrdom is to be expected as the world lives the equivalent of the last degree of the relevant sign. It is only in its coming-of-night context that one can begin to grasp what is happening to the persecuted Christian minorities across the Muslim world and why up to a point it is allowed to happen. IS itself might be said to fulfill prophecy like that of Christ, “Indeed an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing it they are offering worship to God” (Joh 16:2).
IS will prosper, it will increase, it may even overrun Rome as per one Hadith, and be seen by many as bound to succeed, but it won’t. The end of the story will present many surprises.
It’s just a pity that meanwhile the West, which says and does so little in the face of the turmoil, fails to understand the principles of the culture, religion and psychology it is dealing with and is shockingly disloyal to its Christian roots being too pragmatic, too secular, selfish and interested in economic advantage to bother to protest abused Christian rights in any effective way with many nations like Korea and China and not just Muslim ones. Presently it regards this as strengthening the home base but it is merely fostering a weakness that will return on it and rend it. Good fortune depends upon attending to justice first. The weakness and private sympathies of Obama particularly mark a disaster for the fortunes of Christians worldwide at a crucial moment of history and it is in this context that, if only to restore some balance and a moral one to public opinion and reporting, the intervention of Prince Charles is to be applauded.
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 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. In Act 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. The fact that for example – and disgracefully to a merely bullying Christian community – someone Vines knew was in danger even of going out once he had admitted to his orientation, doesn’t leave Brown questioning whether his Koranic, Taliban-style attitude to bible, (which personally I would call 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 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.