Tag Archives: gays

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 Their  message is that on account of persistent, serious evil a certain divine protection is withdrawn so that the demonic forces of chaos of a fallen world more fully take over.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.

 

 

 

THE INCREASING SILLINESS IN THE BILLY GRAHAM CLAN

 graham-and-family

THE INCREASING SILLINESS IN THE BILLY  GRAHAM CLAN

According to a report in The Christian Post, the now elderly Billy Graham is advising Christians not to be discouraged or offended by pastors asking for money. In so many words perhaps they shouldn’t be, but it doesn’t sound as though in his advanced years the retired Graham senior is aware of the scandal being caused by the Prosperity Gospel teachings which are destroying lives and faith and bringing the church generally into disrepute in the world.
This oversight is mild and nothing in comparison with some of the embarrassingly eccentric notions proceeding from his offspring and which only get heard because of their revered father’s reputation.
I haven’t time to follow up half the wild things  Franklin Graham has been saying in recent times about “homosexuals” . They are  the Enemy one shouldn’t allow into homes and churches or near your children and that because they can’t have children they may steal them and so on.  Right wing Franklin is notoriously on record as having anachronistically praised Putin’s Russia for what is its internationally criticized, draconian treatment of the gay rights issue which has infected the mind of the nation spawning many abuses– any youth even looking effeminate is at risk of being beaten up on the streets by gangs who won’t be charged for their crimes.
The fact about gays is that most are not even notably inclined to either marriage or having children, their own or other people’s; but they do want a measure of acceptance and equality, the reason there has been a considerable push towards a marriage equality many will never personally put to use. But to suggest gays are child stealers, perhaps snatchers, frustrated around parenthood is crazy.
But now, and as though Franklin wasn’t enough, the daughter, Ann Lotz Graham is off on another tack. She believes God is judging and removing the divine pleasure from America and allowed 9/11 because of “the transgender silliness”. (UK Telegraph 14.5.2016). It’s not to question or deny that divine favour can be removed from a nation (or that there can be plenty of silliness around gender issues) to ask did mainstream America really even know much about transgenderism, sane or silly before Bruce Jenner transitioned last year and Obama made an issue about transgenders and bathrooms? Back in 2001 America was nearly wholly innocent of such things.
The Graham children remind one of a British figure of the sixties and seventies, Mary Whitehouse. She campaigned for things many people supported like getting sex off early evening TV, but unable to see the wood for the trees or perhaps just growing vain, eccentric or over confident in her authority, she proceeded to campaign against just anything like insisting the word “damn” should never be heard in media until people laughed at and ignored her.
Franklin especially and assisted by the authority of his father’s name, is fast becoming America’s Mrs Whitehouse, ready to rise to almost any and all occasions whether they or he are strictly relevant and whether he is informed in his judgements or not. It is painfully obvious he regards himself or would like to be regarded as a fearless Elijah against a corrupt world towards which he is prepared to be the martyr. But it won’t do.
People can see through it. The very effects he fears for America he increases as people turn away from Christianity disillusioned at sensationalism and gratuitous intolerance. Few would deny there are very major problems at stake for America in many directions. Even some gays have been questioning where PC ism and litigious attitudes are taking the country, some have even contributed to funds for Christians in trouble with gay intransigents.
But whatever is wrong one doesn’t take sledge hammers to crack nuts and/or mix your sermonizing with serious disinformation. If you increasingly do so, expect the negative reactions which emphatically do not help the Christianity you seek to defend and still less any kind of authentically “prophetic” warnings.

THE FATAL FLAW IN THE MATTHEW VINES, ALBERT MOHLER GAY DEBATE

SergiusBacchus  (Ss Sergius and Bacchus, gay saints of the early church)

THE FATAL FLAW IN THE MATTHEW VINES, ALBERT MOHLER GAY DEBATE

AN ARGUMENT OVER “AUTHORITY”

Matthew Vines, a young writer just published for God and the Gay Christian and then immediately critiqued (in over 100 pages!) by Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Seminary, belongs with a wider phenomenon not especially edifying for the (American) churches in the intensity of its obsession and the levels of  alarmist statement it can engender.  (According to how we respond the gospel itself is said to be at stake!).

American churches already have something to answer for in the way their beliefs and attitudes have poisoned public life from Africa to Russia as regards gays encouraging, however unintentionally, vigilante violence and open social and legal discrimination. The current conservative backlash is not helpful to the soul life of gays inside or outside the churches; if anything it is rather selfish and reduces things to some kind of theological boxing match that is no glory to God.

But faced with this latest round in the Christian-gay controversy it might sound strange, especially coming from someone who sufficiently esteems scripture not to count as a dyed in the wool theological liberal, to propose that a great flaw in the current debate is the approach to the “authority” of the Bible. This is something seen in their different ways by gay Matthew Vines and straight Albert Mohler as absolute, though of course Mohler is accusing Vines of undermining biblical “authority” even while he defends it.

Where understanding of homosexuality is concerned, Vines  wants and is promoting a “New Reformation”. But what is really needed is a “New Reformation” away from a rigid, purely sola scriptura treatment of every subject  towards a new position where at very least scripture is permitted to critique scripture and more importantly where the voice of Christ and the Spirit can be heard as per Revelation’s “Hear what the Spirit [not the Bible] says to the churches”, a refrain throughout Rev 2. And with this move we may hope to get away from the “By no means Lord” error of the apostle Peter at Joppa who refused divine vision itself because it appeared in his eyes to refute scripture and tradition (Acts 10:14). There would needless to say have been no bible, no Judaism or Christianity if every time a prophet spoke they would be denied a voice because they weren’t duplicating some word of scripture!

THE WEIGHT AND BURDEN OF OFTEN ILLUSORY “TRADITION”

Presently what I am getting at with all this  will be explained and in a particularly absolute way. It will be insisted  through something conventional commentary ignores or cannot answer, that not only did Jesus have certain views on the gay situation which prejudice and mistranslation and “tradition” have buried ( I have already somewhat covered this in my God and the Gay Gaps in Matthew Vines’ Vision at http://bit.ly/1izBz2C and various of my books like Temple Mysteries and Spiritual Efficiency  http://bit.ly/Y42WZo), but that the risen Christ disapproved or at least warned Paul from the first about the kind of views he would express as in the first chapter of Romans, views subsequently often and damagingly repeated over the centuries.

Great men make great mistakes as the saying goes, and as Jesus warned, “the first shall be last”. And the fact is that not everything the prophets of God declare is either intended by God or good. Still less so are words of the Christian philosophers, and I notice that critics of Vines like Mohler and Andrew Walker add to their  authority position the supposed “authority” of the centuries (as does sometimes Vines himself)  via not just scripture but the likes of Augustine, Luther and John Chrysostom.

Can they and should they even do that? I take it these good Southern Baptists and others don’t accept with Augustine, virtual founder of Catholic medieval philosophy, that it is more humble to pray to Mary than Jesus or that unbaptised infants go to hell and numerous other errors. I hope that they don’t accept with Luther, great though he was in many ways, that we should burn down synagogues. Possibly they really do believe the nonsense of Bishop St John Chrysostom of the Greek church that homosexual behaviour is worse than murder. The tongue of this so-called golden mouthed bishop, much like the devil as an angel of light, almost single handedly invented and corrupted the church, especially the Eastern Churches, with a fanatical anti-Semitism which echoes to this day and has justified pogroms. Are these ‘saints’ and doctors of the church any guide to the true position of the churches on anything?

This use of “authorities” betrays the Calvinism of even American Baptists – Vines himself is Presbyterian, a Calvinistic church tradition – but Calvin himself was something of a monster who ran a virtual inquisition in Geneva. He was happy to burn a heretic and unforgivingly required very public penances of those who laughed at or opposed him in any way. His unprecedented doctrine of work and money has perverted American Christianity to this day and runs behind prosperity gospel heresies. All these people presumably would know God’s mind and will regarding gays?!

WHAT AND WHERE IS THE IMMUTABLE BIBLE?

But let’s briefly consider the Bible as the immutable absolute it is for conservative Christians. What even constitutes this Bible? The only secure parts of it in strictly canonical terms are the Torah, the Gospels and a few prophets like Isaiah. The Septuagint Bible that was used and argued from by the early Church included some apocryphal books Southern Baptists would throw out as trashy, superstitious nonsense. It took a thousand years for the Eastern churches to accept Revelation was any revelation. The evangelical notion of a very fixed bible is a convenient fiction. The Apocrypha informs us that the legacy of Moses was destroyed at the fall of Jerusalem and Ezra employed the assistance of scribes to reconstruct what was lost. Almost certainly the version of the OT we possess is an edited “final” edition from around Ezra’s time and it is open to question whether elements of the Torah that seem objectionable to us like marrying a woman for life to her rapist, don’t owe something to the tampering scribes Jeremiah condemned.

The essential spiritual elevation of the Torah is evident, but conservative Christians who take the side of the OT as regards same sex, don’t care to stress the more primitive, almost Taliban-like features of the Torah on some subjects. Nor do they do stress how much the OT is anyway inconsistent on the same sex issue but suggestive of possibilities for development on the subject precisely through being so. Thus although Leviticus has the same sex couple supposedly executed, in Deuteronomy plainly it was not reckoned they would be so since the male prostitute (to whom the Leviticus ban probably originally first or chiefly applied) is not permitted to use the proceeds of his work as any temple offering. Also, though evangelicals like to stress that anything same sex is “abomination” (toevah a term indicating something closer to ritual impurity than “sin” as such), hence akin to and equal to incest and bestiality so categorized, evidently the writer(s)/editor(s) of the Torah weren’t so convinced. At any rate, while those other “abominations” were listed with the curses of Deuteronomy 27, same sex wasn’t included with them.

There is or should be some room for development and argument where scriptures are concerned. Such is the rabbinic position, and it is surely the sense of “come let us argue/reason together says the Lord” Is 1:18). (I have already  been told in response to this article that any idea of arguing with God over the Torah is absurd, but surely the simple answer is that precisely that is what  the daughters of Zelophehad do in Numbers 27 where their appeal gets the conditions changed. I don’t say they could do this to the core covenant and key ideas like the ten commandments but other things are less written in stone).  Jesus alone was regarded as the Word, (“Word of God” means more Jesus as Logos than “Bible”) and he is recorded as speaking with authority and not like the rabbis (who argued and still reckon to). The Bible is not the Koran with every part of it and every word dictated from heaven. It has settings and it has mediums of delivery, some more or less efficient to convey things and let’s note as sola scriptura believers aren’t keen to do that St Paul in Romans 1 on gentile depravity and “homosexuality” (though that word isn’t used) pretty much lifted his argument out of the apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon it was so much not dictated from heaven and not “biblical”.  Jesus moreover observed that one searches scriptures in vain if you are not finding him there (Joh 5:39).

So what did Jesus hold about gay issues (which even gay theologians will usually tell you Jesus never referred to) and what may he have indicated to his chief apostle? As regards the gospels I will say no more here than what is suggested with a little more detail in the mentioned article (at http://bit.ly/1izBz2C) namely that Jesus in a way that undermines certain cure claims, maintains that some people are definitely born “different” and that this difference doesn’t automatically signify celibate vocation. I also pointed out concerning meanings of the racah passage in the Sermon on the Mount for condemnation of homophobia. There is more of relevance to gay issues within the gospels but I turn here to Jesus on Paul.

ST PAUL ON GAYS MAYBE, AND IF SO, WHAT?

St Paul’s almost purple passage first chapter of Romans in which something relevant to same sex issues is involved, is celebrated. It almost stands out there like a key to his work that it nevertheless isn’t. After reading extensively over the years on the great variety of interpretive views both conservative and revisionist that scholarship offers on St Paul’s references to those who wilfully “exchanged” their nature, I remain unsure just who and what in terms of his society and times the apostle was really talking about. Vines’ stress upon the evil of sex as “excess” as the ancients understood it must however carry some weight.

Personally I don’t think we can ever now quite know the truth (gay, bisexual, recreationally bisexual, pederastic, male prostitution or what) when it comes to who and what Paul had chiefly in mind. But what we can know is that –  practically –  whether gays as we understand the word today were the intended object of Paul’s tirade or not, the fallout has been huge, and sometimes irreparable in terms of the suicide, nervous breakdown, depression, family splits, persecution, imprisonment, torture etc that his extreme words have managed to justify across the centuries. Whoever he refers to are people whose mind is so twisted and filled with evil, so given to shameful conduct they have exchanged all truth for a lie and exist to receive God’s wrath. Please! Is this what all gays who believe they are “born that way” really are if and when they seek in any way to express themselves?

Even Dr Michael Brown, that tiresome sower  of every confusion (he is one of those who has approved bad policies in Africa) , a man who emphatically denies it is ever possible to be gay and Christian has recently  conceded:   “Some grew up feeling that God hated them, or there was something wrong with them. Some grew up feeling that they could never possibly serve God because they were under God’s condemnation…”.  Well that’s some compliment to St Paul and a recommendation to read scripture uncritically  isn’t it?! This, if ever, as Vines would have it referring to the gospel saying on the tree that bears corrupt fruit, is the bible as a voice for evil and sadly too with words which the apostle has mixed in and confused with what  is a not bad argument for the Creator God and conscience. How can any Christian, if they are honest, call St Paul’s words in Romans 1,  hugely influenced as said by the apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon which links sex with idolatry, some kind of  words uniquely inspired by the Holy Spirit and speaking to the churches for their good?

The apostle lived and travelled in a Roman world of widespread evil, great exploitation, slavery and torture for even entertainment. To have made “gays” or whatever  sexual minority he had in mind, any linchpin for any argument about good and evil was unnecessary and even scandalous. It’s a bit like talking  in racist fashion about blacks as an example of the “blackness” of human sin.  Though we needn’t question there were some seriously decadent,  orgiastic Romans and their exploitation of especially children could be very ugly,  the apostle’s angry generalizations (all the more dangerous for being precisely generalizations that can’t quite be pinned down so they assume the force of rumour)  do risk turning into  just hate speech and I think Christians have to concede that unfortunate fact.  At this point in his discourse the overall effect  is to make the apostle stand  less as a prophet of God to us than as a man of his times akin to certain pagan moralists and writers like Ptolemy the Egyptian astrologer who believed it didn’t matter if effeminates were bashed up in the streets.

Who is it opposes and persecutes gays today?  The leader of Boko Haram (who is under the illusion not even animals act homosexually), North Korea (which has dismissed Justice Kirby’s evidence against the nation because the forty years partnered Kirby is “a filthy homosexual”) , and various Muslim and African nations with a bad reputation for justice and human rights generally. It is a pity that Paul should be thought near to them in any way. And are any Pauline and ancient world assumptions about “nature” anyway correct?  We now know that homosexuality is in evidence throughout nature and the position of the male g spot itself raises some questions regarding how unnatural and unintended same sex activity intrinsically could be within the order of creation. That there is a distinctive gay mindset  and inspiration any serious study of culture will attest to against the Pauline position, and certainly strongly enough for the likes of Mohler not to protest convincingly that Vines and gays should never raise personal experience of the self in theological arguments.

But just as we are indebted to the imperfect Luther, we are indebted to Paul for many positive things, and I do mean that (Christianity might not even exist without him); but for his sad failure in Romans, and recalling Jesus’ warning that the first will be last, we can be reasonably certain Paul won’t take any highest place in heaven and we can be sufficiently assured too that Jesus was no more pleased with him about this than God was pleased with Moses’ bad temper at the rock and that he even tried to prevent him. How can we tell?

THE MYSTERY OF JESUS’ WORDS TO ST PAUL

It has always been a mystery beyond the power of theologians to explain and mostly just avoided by them, that the presence and introduction of Jesus to Saul/Paul at his conversion is as a semi-Dionysius, the wine god of ecstasy – Jesus is self declared in the gospels as “the true vine” – widely seen as a kind of gay or bisexual deity. Improbably, Paul’s Jesus even employs to the correct metre the words of the gay playwright Euripides in The Bacchae for this outlaw god (recall my other Vines article stressed the so-called “eunuch” figure is the outsider), whom the God of Israel’s Temple, due perhaps to its vine leaf designs pagans widely believed Yahweh to be. The question posed in the play by Dionysius to Euripides’ heteronormative anti-woman( and we may imagine homophobic)  persecuting King Pentheus,  the Gentile mirror image of Paul, becomes Christ’s to the heteronormative Saul: Why are you persecuting me, why will you kick against the goads?

The old KJ “kick against the pricks” accidentally reflects something of the ambiguity and polyvalence of the Greek expression which has several meanings including “the necessity” or sexual drive. St Paul is surely being told he really must stop persecuting the Christians but he needs to stop persecuting people altogether, if need be on a sexual basis. (We may assume a few unresolved sex problems in the apostle though I don’t follow the Bishop Spong line he was closet gay – there aren’t enough gay  traits in him and he had almost certainly been married and divorced – he could not have had his evident one time association with the Sanhedrin if he had not been married). Just as it seems Paul didn’t heed the warning of the prophet Agabus, so Paul the stubborn ox resisting the goads (though we appreciate he needed to be stubborn to take on the Roman Empire and the Jewish establishment!)  never quite learned this particular lesson, never recognized Jesus for who he was, Jesus in his own ambiguities and because of this failure there will be problems for everyone….A chance towards visionary understanding at deep unconscious levels was given and refused. And historically Christ has continued to be  persecuted by Christians in some of their attitudes and dealings with gays and almost anyone on the social margins.

THE TRUE “NEW REFORMATION” BEYOND MATTHEW VINES’ APPEAL

In the failure of St Paul and its dire historical consequences, let us learn a major lesson and make it an opportunity for insight and renewal. Matthew Vines wants a New Reformation. He won’t have it if he continues to peddle the “total” authority of scripture line (even while he is accused of undermining by reinterpreting it). The “New Reformation” so badly needed is one that, while still retaining a high view of scripture, releases us from its absolute authority, a kind of enslavement like that Paul described in relation to the Law. Christianity is not just, or not only, a tradition; tradition itself can be imperfect, it is a faith we are still living and forming.

Yes scripture is important, but no person is perfect nor is any witness to God. Christ, not the Bible is the primary “Word of God”. It is in light of the general sense and drift of scripture and Christ’s words we are bound to “hear what the Spirit says to the churches”  and it is not for evangelicals rigidly to refuse the possibility that God is speaking on this issue and to suppress all witness to it. My A Special Illumination  on  gay spiritualities ( http://amzn.to/17b8z1b  )  did if only briefly include (since this was a doctoral study) concerning alleged divine declarations about the gay situation.  But currently there is no attempt at hearing what the Spirit says to the churches on anything unless at the lowest possible level, even in a counterfeit form among a charismatic movement. This has promoted heresies like prosperity gospels which seriously do contradict the Bible it claims to follow and contradict it far more than persons questioning a few teachings on a rarely biblically mentioned “homosexuality” issue could possibly do. As stressed in my other article, we stand at the end of the era, and in conformity with the new influences of the era, the churches must dynamically change on this entire subject of same sex relations.

[June 21st: My points about sola scriptura, Calvinism and and hearing the Spirit are unexpectedly confirmed in the way that popular Californian Calvinist preacher John MacArthur has now shockingly declared that parents of “come out” gays should hand them over to the devil. This is the same person who has been condemning any spiritual gifts and charismatic Christianity as unbiblical]

See the also relevant, related article: Can You be Dr Michael Brown and a Christian? at http://bit.ly/Tu1LWz

A poem of this theme A Saint’s Mistake: A Poem of St Paul can be found at http://goo.gl/gBL4oA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FRANKLIN GRAHAM: THE ACCEPTABLE FACE OF A NEW BIGOTRY

FRANKG

Due to being the revered Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham seems to have taken carte blanche to spout almost any tactless and prejudiced opinions hurting no matter what persons or issues. The man is a sensationalist, and, though I won’t make it an issue here, arguably someone not without an eye to profit as his controversial treatment of his father’s heritage and home suggests.

With his father’s influence declining due to age and ill health, son Franklin has achieved  ever more prominence, but the real problems started back in 2010 when instead of criticizing Islam and questioning its aims as he had a perfect right to do, Franklin G simply dismissed it wholesale as a  “wicked” and “evil” religion. These are words used in a way that could only endanger the situation of beleaguered Christians in certain majority Muslim countries. In the same uncompromising treatment of all and any themes he’s adopted, he’s back again this time taking a rather special line against gays and gay marriage – it is largely his noisy treatment this last week has roused the American evangelical world to protest and make World Vision renege on its recent willingness to allow the same sex married to be employed by them. (See http://bit.ly/1dShgvZ). Before that Franklin was protesting in favour of shockingly, crude homophobic  statements by  reality TV’s The Duck Dynasty and declaring (though three million evangelicals had supported them) that this wasn’t enough.

I don’t assent to any merely PC treatment of subjects, and democratically I don’t suggest Franklin Graham has no right to hold or express opinions against gays and  gay marriage; but there is rather more to the matter than just this, and Graham must be held accountable for the trouble he either causes or supports. For example, while neo-nazi vigilantes attack and torture gays (or even just people who may look like them) on the streets of Russia and on the pretext they are dangerous paedophiles, the egregious Graham also commends Russia’s Putin for dealing with the gay problem as though he were a good Christian we should all praise. The evangelical scapegoating of gays and libels around them has got to stop.

No matter what he says, Graham’s supposedly biblical beliefs are hiding homophobic prejudices of a kind which support the false ideology and lies that interfering, too rich American evangelicals have been busily planting across Africa and Russia. They have been doing so with alarming consequences now widely criticized and which belong to the kind of American madness which also this last week has had a 9 year old girl expelled from a Christian school to the bewilderment of her Christian parents because she looks and seems too tomboyish.

Without admitting it, basically Graham takes the toxic line of  persons like Scott Lively and Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association  who in Africa and Russia have been pushing that “homosexuality” is totally learned  – this can be biblically questioned as I do in the following article at  http://wp.me/p2v96G-nl – so that in effect gays are totally, wilfully blameworthy and, as the AFA has it, there’s anyway no difference between gay sex and bestiality and child sex. Moreover since gays “recruit” children, which is a word Franklin Graham joins these  eccentric extremists in using, they are in effect to be regarded as potentially dangerous paedophiles who must not be allowed near your children nor, ideally, allowed rights in society.

This is rank fear mongering. Graham also addresses the whole question of gay marriage as though there is no way in which it could be considered better than or different from the “fornication” of living together or even orgies. This, no matter what religious beliefs one holds, in the context of a democratic society amounts to taking a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” approach to the very existence and practices of gays in society. It is saying they ought not to exist and there is no situation in which we would tolerate you if we can help it (though of course “some of my best friends are gays” – the mantra so many homophobes will utter and they never think they are doing anything less than just protecting society). Nothing it seems is more righteous and worthy than opposing the miniscule number of gays who are or might ever have been employed by World Vision – many evangelicals decided on the spot it would be better to withdraw all funds to help the needy or financially “adopted” children through WV than encourage the slightest acceptance of gays.

Any such rejection of alternative people is then defended as perfectly biblical, hence irrefutably justified. Indeed where Franklin Graham is concerned such ideas are now also being offered to the world as though his father Billy Graham’s opinion exactly.  Though I don’t have time to research the matter for this off-the-cuff article, I believe I am correct to say from one or two statements I recall, Billy Graham’s  own approach finished a bit more open than in his earlier days and akin to that of the current Pope who of course is someone else Franklin recently rushed to condemn as “unbiblical”, a dangerous move towards any acceptance of (that non-biblical word) “homosexuality”.

We are bound question the philosophy that Franklin Graham and his evangelical followers are working on. Beyond any fundamentalist literalism it’s a simplistic sola scriptura, (scripture only) position, one that he has forced a “repentant” World Vision to cite back to him, namely that the “infallible” “unchanging” Word of God is against “homosexuality” and against any marriage that is not heterosexual monogamous too. What the SS believers really mean is that St Paul never expressed a personal opinion or wrote within his cultural/historical context but rather had everything directly dictated to him from heaven. In which case….the logical consequence ought to be there should be no America because that nation was founded on opposition to appointed authority, something the apostle opposed, and that evangelicals should exclude women from their churches because they haven’t kept silent and don’t necessarily cover their heads.

Let’s not speak of all the sola scriptura Protestants who have been cheerfully divorced or reflect upon the biblical polygamies of such as Abraham and David. While one can, and I think should, believe that there is a line of inspiration that runs through scripture and that provides an ultimate coherence, we should see SS doctrine as ultimately untenable nonsense – there would not even be a Bible if any principle of the sort had been rigorously applied against such as prophets with original messages. All we can say is that provided there is not outright/blatant contradiction of the spirit and meaning of the whole, the Spirit must be allowed to speak to the churches as is independently the case in such as Rev 3:22 and/or in timely modification of existing scriptures as in Acts 10 where in vision Peter is required, and resists, going against what he considers is revealed scriptural truth, for a new wider view. The Spirit (that is God) as much as the Bible is supposed to guide the church which risks otherwise falling for bibliolatry.  “The Word of God” originally meant Jesus himself as Logos rather than the version of Bible was possess following church council agreements.

Without suggesting everything gays say, do or claim is right, the fact is their treatment is a  serious, insufficiently repented blot upon the record of Christianity and it is beyond high time things were changed and the quasi-fascist, paranoid attitudes of some evangelicals  left behind, protested and condemned and even in God’s name by genuine believers. The very success of the more radical claims and expressions of liberation have only become possible through the weary cynicism of society at the utter intransigence the churches have long displayed and the bullying they have ignored. In humility Christians should see in what most offends them as simply a kind of judgement upon them.

It is unfortunate that Christian media in America like The Christian Post even give space to reporting such as Franklin Graham as though some kind of authority. And likewise the gloatings over the needed “repentance” of World Vision from the likes of deceptively avuncular Dr Michael Brown who notoriously has recently commended the work of Uganda to protect its children – in which case, unless he’s genuinely blind and deaf to what’s going on, he necessarily regards the nation’s controversially draconian anti gay laws and unchecked vigilante violence as managing to do. This Jewish Christian has not, alas, learned the lessons of anti-Semitism and the holocaust and so should not be listened to.

As usual and too often the American evangelical churches are just disgracing themselves and Christianity at large.  And it belongs to the dubious nature of the American religious scene that I write this here rather than attempt to contact leaders like Franklin Graham privately. So thisworldly, commercial and overworked are their relevant churches and organizations such persons are pretty much in the hands of minders and staff which let through what is  pleasing and acceptable to hear to the extent it is a waste of time to approach them even if, as in my case, you’re qualified and published in your or their line. It is easier to contact royalty (I seriously mean that) than any American Christian, especially a rich bigoted one. As one of my more parlando style poems remarks,

“It’s not as though, speaking apart and speaking in prose
I can’t get the atheists replying, Iris, Alain, Andre
The whole who’s who of rank unbelief. They will
Give a response, but just as with those in religion…..

….Expect to hear nothing, their vocation comes ripe with disdain”

Franklin G. was oh so “grieved”  by World Vision’s decision. Thinking, feeling people will think there is a lot more in Franklin’s own attitudes and statements and on more than just World Vision to be grieved about.

Relevant to things considered here are various articles of mine (on my main blog,  McCleary’s Alternatives) such as:

Christo-Fascism or Christo-Humanism    wp.me/p2v96G-kB
God and the Gay Gaps in Matthew Vines’ Vision   http://wp.me/p2v96G-nl
Songs of Puritania on a Gay Theme (poetical satire of a variety of American Christian attitudes)   http://bit.ly/16ybdts