Responding to Rev. Tinker

3 07 2008

Recently I saw a video clip of an Anglican priest who attended the conference of right-wing Anglican clergy in Jersusalem. The event happened to coincide with the Jerusalem Gay Pride march and the Priest, A Rev. Melvin Tinker who heads a parish in the U.K., took the opportunity to speak against queer rights. I tracked down his email address in England and sent him a message asking if he was willing to have a debate, to be published on Out In Jersey. He politely responded he was not but sent me a chapter from his book which explains why we are all going to Hell. The chapter is reproduced below with my annotations in red, which I returned to him. For those of you who can use a short course in how to answer back to religious consevatives without descending to name callling, I offer it here.

                                                            Chapter 6

                                                     Straight or Narrow?

                                                      Sexual Confusion    

                                                        Genesis 2:18-25

A general comment relating especially to the last part of this chapter; The argument between your wing of the Christian church and those of us who are militant gay liberationists has to do with the historically assumed right of the church to dictate the morality of the populace as a whole. We have risen up to say “believe whatever you want but do not impose it on us.” I am not a Christian, therefore I refuse to be subject to Christian ideas of how I should live my life. In many ways, being a product of the same Western culture and value system generally, my ideas of the sumum bonam are the same as those of the Church. I too believe in helping the less fortunate, compassion for the suffering, honesty and respect for the person and property of others, etc. etc. However, my sexuality, my choice of life partner, is my own business and I will not permit you to have any input in my decisions or those of my compatriots. The church must come to grips with the fact that it no longer can impose its will. It can preach all it wants. If you do not approve of same sex marriage for example, then do not marry such couples. That is your inalienable right. It is, however, equally my inalienable right to marry who I want – if not in your church, then in another or in my living room or in City Hall. I suppose I must allow that it is your inalienable right to stand in your pulpit and preach that homosexuality is loathed by God.  Likewise, it is my right and my moral duty to work with the gay kids who are devastated by this teaching and whose families have said “God hates you – get out” and to try to rescue those kids and bring them to an understanding that they are not wrong, they are not evil and they can love whoever they want to. I write this as a member of a fund raising committee for a NY shelter for such kids and you may believe me when I say that I have seen daily the terrible consequences of your theology and its destructive impact on vulnerable lives.

 

 

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found.  So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib  he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones

and flesh of my flesh;

she shall be called `woman,’

for she was taken out of man.”

 

 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

 

If The Adam & Eve story is being presented as a serious basis for one man-one woman relationships, one is at a loss to reply, other than to observe that the story clearly has no more factual validity than the host of similar “creation” myths abounding in various cultures. None of these primitive children’s stories can be taken seriously as a legitimate basis for contemporary law and social practice

It has been said that  the first casualty of war is truth. That is certainly the case with the  war which is at present  raging all around us, although we may not be aware of it as such. I am referring to the ideological war which centres on the issue of sexuality, or more specifically, homosexuality.

 

We are considering  what it is like to live as Christians in what the Bible calls ‘Babylon’- a world which sets itself up in opposition to God and his ways .If we are to be effective ambassadors for Christ ,then like any ambassador  on foreign soil, we need to understand two things. First, we need to understand the King  we represent, that is, have our minds in tune with his wishes ,values, aims and purposes and seek to promote them. For the Christian that means getting in touch with the mind of God through the Word of God-the Bible.Ah yes, the Bible – that would be the book composed of materials much of which was the oral tradition of a tribe of desert primitives, to which is added a collection of writings of highly dubious authorship, much of which is a direct steal from Mithraic tradition, selected on the basis of political/dogmatical expediency by a council of the Church of Rome, the whole subject to numerous translations and interpretations by scholars who worked with little or no understanding of the original context and often with egregious error in simple translation. That’s the book you mean? And you expect that book to be a serious basis for contemporary law ( marriage law) ? There lies madness.  That is where we discover our King’s manifesto. But the second prerequisite is the  need to understand the culture in which we have been  placed, a culture which , as we have seen, is essentially hostile to the Kingdom we represent. Nowhere is this more so than in the arena of the sexual politics which practically consumes our society.

 

But we must recognise  that this liberalisation towards sex in the direction of almost anything goes, is part of a bigger shifting social landscape which may be leaving many of us feeling disorientated.It is a landscape where there are no fixed absolutes-everything is relative. It is a world in which we are told that truth is not so much discovered but created, we make our own truth. We live in a world of hype and spin. It is what the sociologists call a postmodern world-the old certainties are gone, everything is a quest for power-getting your own or your group’s way .The Nietzschean dream (or nightmare) is being realised : ‘This world is the will to power-and nothing else besides! And you yourselves are also this will to power-and nothing else besides!’This entire paragraph is based on assumption and is incorrect. Recognition of the validity of homosexual relationships in no way implies a concomitant abandonment of absolutes. The absolute regarding causing harm to others remains. The imperative to aid the suffering remains. The need to respect the rights of others remains. One can go on and on. In fact, the only thing changed is the expansion of understanding regarding the rights of others. In no way does that expansion imply the right to cause harm. Rather it means the right to freely choose one’s own life.

 

This  is what has been happening to great effect during the last few decades in the area of homosexuality. The change has been remarkable. In the words of the psychoanalyst Charles Socarides we have seen a shift , ‘ from the love that dare not speak its name to the love that can’t shut up-in barely 25 years.’Socarides is a dedicated homophobe whose own son is openly gay. His writing is to be discounted in view of his own “demons” of animosity within his own family.  In the early sixties it would have been political suicide for any cabinet minister to declare openly that he was a practising  homosexual ,he would  immediately have become a social outcast. Such a thing seems ludicrous to us today. In fact the reverse is the case. To dare to raise a question about the moral legitimacy of homosexual practice brings with it public outrage and the charge of homophobia which ranks alongside racism and sexism as the three great  deadly sins in modern society. Things change as understanding increases. 150 years ago, politicians argued in favor of slavery. 100 years ago, Mrs. Pankhurst was chaining herself to the gates at Buckingham Palace for women’s rights. Your Bible also permits slavery and second class status for women. Why then are you not just as militantly arguing for a return to status quo anti-black &female liberation? Or are you? If not, then how do you justify picking and choosing which of your Biblical precepts you will enforce?

 

Indeed, the most strenuous efforts are   made to present homosexuality in the most favourable light possible Not only is there ‘Gaytime TV’, or films like ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ in which  the only deep relationship is the one between the two gay characters, but which soap, whether it be Eastenders or the Archers, is without its resident homosexual, creating the impression that homosexuality is both common and socially acceptable with no down side at all? The discredited statistics of Kinsey that between one  in ten and one in twenty men in society are homosexual still persists,Statistics is the favored tool of all spin doctors and liars. The statistics used to discredit Kinsey are no more reliable than those of the sex doctor himself.  and the cumulative effect of all of this is to practically foreclose on any rational public discussion about the gay issue for fear that those  who would take a more critical, but caring stance ,are liable to be pilloried as homophobic dinosaurs. The time for discussion of the acceptability of homosexuality is past, as is that of the equality of woman and of other races. These questions have been examined and answered by the members of the groups in question who have risen up to say “we will not be subject to repression and prejudice any longer. Live with it. The time of the dominance of the world by straight, white men is over. We will all now have a place at the table, thank you very much.”

 

What is more, it has to be admitted that on the face of it, the argument for homosexual union sounds so reasonable. After, all why shouldn’t two  people who love each other and have a stable relationship engage in same sex union? What people do in the privacy of their own homes is their affair. Who are you to say it is wrong? Indeed – if this were a case at law, the court would rule you have no standing to make a submission in the matter.

 

Before we look a little more closely at that question and see what light the Bible sheds on the answer, we need to remember some other words Jesus once said when he called his followers to be ‘wise as serpents and innocent as doves.’ Matthew 10:16. That is where  Christians often fall down. We fail to have that shrewdness, that discernment, of what is happening around us with the result that we get swept along with the prevailing culture ,not realising what is happening before its too late.

 

Let us therefore, try and understand the big picture of where our society is coming from in order to see where it is going,  and then contrast it with the big picture the Bible gives us of where creation has come from and where it is ultimately heading under God.

 

In her book ‘Sexual Politics’ Kate Millett writes: ‘The enormous social change involved in a sexual revolution is basically a matter of altered consciousness (i.e. slowly getting people to think differently), the exposure and elimination of social and psychological realities underlying political and cultural structures. We are speaking ,then, of a cultural revolution.’ That is what is  happening. This doesn’t mean that every actively homosexual person wants to attack traditional sexual patterns and ethics, but there is a basic cultural drift.

 

However, it has to be said that some groups are deliberately out to attack the family. Here is Bill Johnson, a practising homosexual clergyman and member of the Lesbian and Gay Christian movement: ‘as long as the Church is able to perpetuate the belief that marriage and the family are the highest form of human relationship it will be able to perpetuate itself as a heterosexual family-orientated institution.. heterosexual relationships and marriage as traditionally experienced are basically unhealthy.’ In the 1979 Gay Liberation Front’s manifesto we are told  bluntly ‘we must aim at the abolition of the family.’GLF was a small, radical organization. Your implication that it reflects the views of the entire gay community is flatly wrong.  It then went on to point out that the greatest defender of the family was Christianity. Of course, it is possible to move towards the abolition of the traditional family in other ways than by outright suppression .It can be eroded by saying there are ‘alternative families, that the concept of family is more fluid ,varied and open, as Joan Bakewell stated in her TV series  ‘My Generation.’ This is why section 28 must be kept in England which prohibits the promotion of homosexuality in schools, or some alternative must be put in place, not because there will be an immediate move to teach in our schools that homosexual relationships are good or better than heterosexual marriage ,but the pressure will be increased for it to be seen as a valid option and so  adding to the moral confusion many are already experiencing and at a time when our young are so impressionable and vulnerable. Homosexuality is not an “option”!!! It is a fact of life – a condition of existence. It is not something one selects from a menu of life choices. It is what one is.  This continued insistence that it is a “lifestyle” or a choice wrecks untold catastrophe in the lives of young people who are attempting to come to grips with their own true natures. Personally, my own dedicated hatred of your brand of religion is formed largely by years of working with kids whose lives have been destroyed by religiously motivated families who threw them out or otherwise persecuted them because they were gay. You simply have no concept at all of the vast harm and even death your type of religious teaching has caused and continues to cause. Why do you think the highest rate by far of teenage suicide is among LGBT youth? Because people of your stamp preach their nature is a choice and a sin and a disgrace. I have seen way more young people grievously damaged by these teachings than you have had hot lunches, so on this aspect of the issue I am implacable.

 

What are the facts?

 

First of all, homosexuality is not as common as we are often led to believe. Surveys in both Britain and America show that only 1% of men are exclusively homosexual, not 10%. That is the perspective we must have. You “must have” it only because it better suits your arguments. The 1% survey has itself been discredited by others. Refer to my above comments about statistics. All of the number crunchers are irrelevant. If there are only 2 gays in the whole world, they have the same right to live in freedom and equality with each other as if half the entire population was gay.

 

Secondly, the argument which is often put forward asking what is wrong with homosexual union in a loving stable relationship is, in reality, somewhat abstract and a red herring, for very few such stable homosexual relationships actually exist. The 1992 SIGMA study funded by the Medical Research Council found that 56% of  actively homosexual men had ‘open’ relationships ,and although 44% claimed a monogamous relationship, the average length of the relationship was only 21 months. The majority also had ‘casual partners’. In any given year the number of casual partners was reported at between 0-300, with an average in the past year being seven, or to put it another way-one partner every seven weeks. I’ve been in a monogamous relationship with my partner for 14 years. Our magazine’s publisher has been in one for 18 years. I could right now give you a list of at least a dozen other similar couples from my own social circle. I have four “adopted” gay sons of college age, each of whom express the dearest wish to find a relationship like the one my partner and I are blessed with.  The SIGMA study is deeply flawed, out of date and unreliable. You do your readers a grave disservice by using such discredited information.

 

What is more, the ‘stable loving relationship argument’ undergirds the call for same sex-marriages. This is based on the assumption that marriage is simply a social construct. But if this is the case then why stop there? As Beckwith and Koukl argue : ‘Nor is  a polygamous marriage of one man and numerous spouses -which also may include his mother, his grandmother, his grandfather ,as well as his adult daughter and son-inconsistent with the same-sex marriage worldview. Given sexual politics today ,one can easily imagine polygamy being reintroduced  by an appeal to the sad plight of the bisexual, a person who is incapable of fulfilling his or her marital aspirations with merely one spouse of one gender. The rhetorical question  could be raised: Why should he or she be forbidden from marrying the ones he or she loves?’ Stop right there! Same sex marriage in no way restructures the institution of marriage itself. It simply extends it to same sex partners. Polygamy or other structures are another matter entirely and are in way a part of the “gay agenda.” Gay people are pretty much the same as everyone else in our middle class ideas of a happy life. The vast majority of us simply want the same rights as everyone else. Far from wanting to destroy marriage, we are in fact among its greatest advocates. Very few of us are social radicals or recycled hippies who want some sort of communal marriage or whatever. Every subset of society (definitely including the religious subsets) has its lunatic fringe. That fringe is NOT to be taken as representative and for you to imply it IS representative is to perpetuate just the sort of “spin” you accuse us of.

 

Taking this line of thinking to its reductio ad absurdum, they continue , ‘ Of course, we cannot ignore the marital rights of the person  who has a deep and abiding affection for the family pet for then the animal rights crowd may pipe up and accuse us of specieism, the prejudice favouring human beings over nonhuman animals.’ This paragraph is frankly insulting and too absurd to dignify with a specific reply.

 

So, what harm is there? Far more than many would care to admit. Here are just some of the medical problems as referred to by Jeffrey Satinover :A 25-30 year decrease in life expectancy,chronic ,potentially fatal, liver disease-infectious hepatitis, frequently fatal rectal cancer ,multiple bowel and other infectious diseases, a higher than usual incidence of suicide and the list  goes on. To illustrate this specifically ,in the Journal of Death and Dying the authors of an article analysed over 6,500 obituaries in the gay press in the USA over 13 years and compared them with obituaries from two conventional newspapers. Those from conventional newspapers paralleled US averages in longevity-the median age of death for married men was 75 (with 80% dying aged 65 or over), for unmarried men it was 57 (with 32% dying aged 65 or over). For over 6,500 homosexual deaths, the median age was 39 if death was AIDS – related ,and 42 if from causes unrelated to AIDS. The authors conclude that : ‘The pattern of early  death evident in homosexual obituaries is consistent with the pattern exhibited in the published surveys of homosexuals and intravenous drug abusers.’ What nonsense! I’m old as dirt and in perfect health. Statistics regarding gay deaths in the last 20 years can NOT be separated from the AIDS holocaust. The reporting of AIDS related deaths has been subject to far to much chicanery on the part of homophobic families, overly sensitive authorities, etc, etc. I can not tell you the number of times I have read the obits of friends who I knew had died of AIDS, only to find their family saying they died of pneumonia or “a long illness” or some other BS. As for suicide – yes – well – whose fault is that, after all?

 

The general picture is tragically clear .There is very little that is gay or happy about such findings  and our hearts must go out in compassion. To ignore such facts would be the height of irresponsibility, worse still is to affirm a gay lifestyle as being of equal validity to a married heterosexual one ,as even some  church leaders are now doing. Spare me your condescending “compassion.” We would be just fine if your sort of religious organization stopped spreading the idea that there is something wrong with us

 

But the objection is often raised: ‘Surely, such same sex-attraction is normal for those concerned, whether it is the result of genetic or environmental factors is irrelevant, it is right for them.’ Here a distinction has to be made between what is normal and what is proper. To say that something is acting normally is a matter of statistics, to say something is acting properly is a matter of design plan and purpose. For example, I might say that my car is acting normally if it starts after three turns of the ignition, but that is not what the manufacture had in mind when he designed the car in the first place. What, then, is the Designer’s plan for human beings? This is where the book of Genesis  comes in.

 

The biblical view of sex and how we are to relate to each other isn’t to be reduced to a few moral prohibitions. Even if there weren’t any explicit passages which declared homosexual sex was wrong (and there are several),which according to Spong and others, can and should be radically re-interpreted on the basis of context and translation error. the Bible would still be just as clear on the subject because of all the positive things it has to say about God’s intention for sex, or, if you will,  the general ethos or attitude the Bible has  towards sex. Kevin Vanhoozer puts the matter well when he writes: ‘The biblical view of sexuality should not be reduced to moral prohibitions. The prohibitions against homosexuality only make sense against an overall sexual ethic  and an overarching vision of what is good for humanity. With regard to sexual ethics the Bible affirms  heterosexual marriage as the good. The Bible’s overall position on matters sexual is shaped by a positive vision of the good (e.g., by ethics) rather than negative prohibitions (e.g., by morality ).That is, the Bible’s aims for sexuality precedes its rules.’

 

Here in Genesis we discover what that ethos and aims are ,as well as some of the detailed specifications of how they are  to be worked out .

 

First of all, sex is linked to reproduction which God declares as good- 1:28 :

 

 ‘God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.’

 

This doesn’t mean that every sexual act must issue in children, but it still remains as one of its primary purposes, what it is designed to achieve- all things being equal.

 

In the second place, in the picturesque account of the creation of man in Genesis 2, in v18 we are told that there was something which was not good, namely for man to be alone without a helper ,that is someone who would complement him, be one with him and  yet different. And having scoured the entire creation to find such a companion ,it is at that point that God acts to bring a woman into being out of Adam’s side- v20ff.

 

But for Adam no suitable helper was found.  So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

 

Here we have the principle of unity in difference-,the two becoming one -psychologically, spiritually and physically- the coming together of, as it were, two halves to form a whole. This culminates, and is literally consummated in the act of sexual intercourse itself -v24

 

 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

 

In others words, this is the design plan for sexuality-male and female. The activities of our bodies must fit the way we were  made. Simply at the level of biological anatomy-the male and female were made for each other, not male for male or female for female. This is not an argument from biology to morality, but stating the obvious, that biology  testifies to the morality we have in the Bible.

 

This vital point, so often overlooked in the debate, is well summarised by  David F. Wright: ‘The sexual matching of male and female ,which Christian tradition has always seen as rooted in God’s ordering of the world he made, is embodied (literally) in the respective anatomies of man and woman. To put it bluntly, the penis and the vagina are ‘made for each other’ in a way that is patently not true for the penis and any other orifice in the female body, let alone male body ,or for the vagina and any other protuberance of the male-or female-body. That is to say, God’s creative design for male and female to mate with each other is not airy-fairy theory, but a basic Christian belief  that is borne out of the sort of human beings we are. It is a truth incarnated in our very flesh and blood.’

 

The logical entailment of this is that it is impossible for homosexuals to engage in sexual intercourse with each other as Beckwith and Koukl contend: ‘Since the purpose of sexuality is derived from our natures as men and women ,homosexuals in the strictest sense are no more engaging in sex if they stimulate each other to orgasm than is an ashtray “food” and the act of “eating” if one consumes it.’ Talk about reducto ad absurdum !!

 

It is therefore, clear that in the light of God’s design and intentions for humanity, homosexual ‘sex’ is a disordered form of sex. It cuts across and frustrates the structures and purposes of God’s creation. It actually undermines the uniqueness of  heterosexual marriage, as does  all other forms of disordered sex-fornication, rape and incest. This disordering is both a result of our rebellion against God, and a expression of it. That is the thrust of the apostle Paul’s argument in Romans chapter 1:24ff

 

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done

 

Homosexuality then ,is against nature, not our own fallen-corrupted natures, but God’s original intention and design.

 

A moments reflection soon reveals why it is disordered.

 

In the first place, the element of complementarity is missing-unity in difference. What we have in the genital expression of homosexuality is an impossible attempted unity in sameness-the parts simply don’t fit. Wrong. The parts fit very well indeed. As someone who has had an active lifetime of gay sex I can speak with absolute authority in this regard. Further, sexual expression is just as varied and complex in gay life as in straight. It can be purely recreational or it can be an intense sharing between and bonding of two lovers. I know whereof I speak. Evidently, you do not, having only an academic idea of what you are writing about. This also has important implications for Christian theology and how we are to conceive of God’s  relationship to  his people. So writes Vanhoozer : ‘ Even a loving relationship between two men fails to illustrate the nature of the relationship between God and his people, as marriage is supposed to do. The husband-wife relation ,a relation of unity-in-difference, better pictures the relation between Christ and his church .’ (cf. Ephesians 5:22-33)

 

In the second place  procreation is an impossibility-that is why surrogate mothers have to be sought for gay couples to have children, a necessity which ironically affirms all the more the abnormality of it all.

 

Sometimes the advocates of same sex unions attempt to sidestep this objection by drawing a parallel  between homosexual couples  and  heterosexual couples who either decide not to have children or cannot have children for whatever reason .It is argued that one would not think of their marriage as being any less a marriage because procreation is ruled out, so why not allow for same -sex union which does not involve childbearing? Beckwith and Koukl’s reply to this line of reasoning  is worth quoting at length:

‘The argument against same-sex marriage is based on  the nature of human persons as beings with a gender who have a purpose derived from that nature.And my nature is GAY – ergo….. That is to say ,male human persons are meant for coupling with female human persons, even if their coupling does not result in procreation. This argument is not based on a human person’s function, ability or desire, which could each be inconsistent  with how human persons ought to be by nature. For example, a person who is comatose, insane, sightless ,or sexually desirous of his neighbour’s young child lacks something either physically ,psychologically or morally. But he remains a human person who by nature ought to be conscious, sane, seeing ,and desiring well. In the same way a sterile, aged, or willingly childless person is still a gendered human person whose purpose for marital union (unless called to celibacy) can only be consummated by one-flesh communion with a spouse of the opposite gender even if he or she has contrary desires.’

 

One long standing test for deciding upon a course of moral action is  Kant’s categorical imperative which, put simply, is this :Would you want everyone in the world to do it?’ We might therefore ask, ‘Would you want everyone in the world to be kind and generous?’ ‘Would you will for everyone not to show hatred and prejudice?’ and so on. The answer is yes. But, would you want everyone in the world to be homosexual? The answer is obviously ‘No’ ,for at the very least it would mean the end of the human race in terms of the survival of the species .It is not a universal good. Oh nonsense! Neither is scholarship a universal good in that sense. If everyone was a scholar (or a priest) who would dig the ditches? Everything is simply NOT for everybody. What IS a universal good is respect for individual choice and inherent differences. Also, you are participating in a black/white binary in your interpretation of homosexuality. It is clearly not that simple. Many have homosexual experiences without embracing an exclusive life thereof. Further, propagating the human species is CLEARLY not a problem we need concern ourselves with. The process seems to be altogether too effective as it is.

 

However, the God we worship is not simply the God who is our Creator and knows how we best function according to his design, he is also the  God who is our redeemer and has intervened in this terribly disordered world to save us through his Son Jesus .Here are the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:9, and note that the more socially acceptable sins such as greed are right up there with sexual sin :

 

 ‘Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

 

Do we realise what that means? It means that the church is not a ‘no go area’ for those men and women who have a same sex orientation any more than it is a no go area for those of us who have greedy, or alcoholic or adulterous inclinations. Certainly there is no question of affirming any of these things as acceptable lifestyles, because in Christ we are called to an alternative lifestyle-a Christian one. Yes, we will continue to wrestle with our fallen feelings and all the temptations they bring until we go to be with Christ in glory, but we do not wrestle alone. We do have God’s Spirit, God’s Word, and the fellowship of God’s people.

 

The Gospel is for all without distinction.

 

Let me close with  words from someone who was locked into a gay lifestyle ,but then became a Christian: ‘We must not rewrite or water down the Scriptures. The Bible clearly states that heterosexuality is God’s intent for humankind. It also presents all sexual behaviour outside of marriage as sin and not God’s best for us. When I came out of the gay community I was looking for truth and direction. My gay friends said I was a fool. The church could only put homosexual people down and had no idea how to assist in the process of recovery. I found my direction from the Bible .It was the only safe place to go. The Bible gave me a true picture of God as a Father, his unconditional love for all his children, regardless of their struggles My own father had not been able to parent me as I needed, the church had not been able to supply unconditional acceptance of me, but I found through the Scriptures that God would do these things for me .I learned healthy boundaries from reading the Scripture. It was there I learned the things I needed to function in a whole way… I shudder to think what may have happened to me if I had gone to a counsellor or church which had affirmed me in my homosexuality. If that had happened I may well have been dead from AIDS now. Many of the people I knew back then are now dead.’ But  he goes on to say this, which I personally would want to underscore :‘To many Christians who are struggling with unwanted homosexual feelings,unwanted only because of the church’s bigoted and primitive propaganda I would say to you :there is hope and healing for you ..you are not a second class Christian. Jesus’ death on the cross was for you as well. God is not ashamed of you. He is your Father and longs to lavish his love on you. You are not an unwanted child. Your life can be a testimony to the grace and healing love of your Father, so walk proudly into the glorious riches and the full inheritance that God has for all his children.’Precisely what I am doing. God made me gay and I am so happy he/she/it did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 responses

3 07 2008
ruthsims

Bravo! Thanks for posting this, Toby. Fiction I can do; intellectual argument I can’t, even though I know what I’d like to say if I knew how. Thank goodness for those who can stand toe-to-toe with people like him. As a refugee from a far-right fundamentalist church and upbringing, I’m still a little intimidated by them even after all these years. It’s too bad he won’t debate you. (The chicken).

Ruth Sims
(author of The Phoenix)

3 07 2008
perrybrass

Dear Toby,

You are to be absolutely commended that you can take this ass seriously—Gawd! he even quotes Charles Socarides, who’s been so discredited that even his son, now a gay activist, has a hard time using his name. I loved this part:

“Recognition of the validity of homosexual relationships in no way implies a concomitant abandonment of absolutes. The absolute regarding causing harm to others remains. The imperative to aid the suffering remains. The need to respect the rights of others remains. One can go on and on. In fact, the only thing changed is the expansion of understanding regarding the rights of others. In no way does that expansion imply the right to cause harm. Rather it means the right to freely choose one’s own life.”

It really sums up a lot of what is needed in this “conversation,” if you can dignify what this Bible-thumper does as a “conversation.” Christ would leave the room when the Rev. Tinker walks in.

Perry Brass
author of Carnal Sacraments, A Historical Novel of the Futue

15 07 2008
Darren Stanley

Dearest Sister o’ Mine,

As always, your eloquence and all manner of intellectual erudition and BS-detecting truly stuns me. If only we all could be just as articulate as you.

First, I can only thank you with such an open heart for responding to Tinker as you have. Surely, reason, research, and being a well-informed human is necessary, albeit not absolutely sufficient, to respond to such individuals. Tinker would use his own brand of reasoning and his well-thumbed Bible to make any stance against the so-called evils of the world.

Second, as far as “marriage” goes, I am happy to add that you might add Tom and I to your list of happily MARRIED couples whom you know. I emphasize MARRIED because we were married this year on June 14: there are no civil unions for anyone in Canada where gays, lesbians and straight couples may marry.

Not that I should even pretend to be able to add anything to your response to this white patriarchally-privileged straight man, but I should like to add the following thoughts on statistics – naturally since I do have some background in the area of mathematics and the history of the field.

First, it is important to recognize that the ideas of statistics and probability have a long history that stretches back before the days of the Enlightenment where under two distinct understandings, statistical ideas referred to (1) games of chance and (2) degrees of belief. On the later I cannot comment as much on, owing to my own lack of knowledge at the time – although I recommend reading Ian Hacking’s “The Emergence of Probability”, for instance. In due time, however, the use of statistics and statistical instruments arose from the study of systems with large numbers of INDEPENDENT parts or agents – billiard balls, gas in a balloon, etc. With the Industrial Age, there arose the need to produce standardized parts for machines – something we see at the time when steam engines were being produce. In this case, non-standardized parts were produce which often resulted in tiny problems like steam engines exploding! Thus, in part, prompted the need for standardized machine parts.

Now this notion of standards has slipped into the world of living things – we see it everywhere we turn these days, largely because we live in a risk-averse society. But digress. In the field of education, where, as you know, I make my living as an academic, the use of statistics have been taken up and abused to justify the need to ensure that all teachers are doing what they should and all students are doing what they should. That said, the very notion of DIVERSITY in living things has been dismissed or otherwise ignored. I could go on to say that the notion of diversity is, perhaps, merely just not well understood beyond the usual social markers of sex, gender, language, ability, economic status, etc. But as a principle that informs the possibility for the health and wellness of all living things in the many ways that they are interconnected, it is not well understood nor embraced by many – certain ecologists, for instance, may be exempt as well as some others.

Moreover, as much of life is manifest across many different scales of organizing – from the very small to the very large – we would do well to take note of how such organizations, different in substance and organization, but not in structure, reflect a particular image (especially when they are healthy). These forms are said to be “fractal”: do a Google search to learn more, but avoid the pretty pictures as they will only create the wrong impressions which would be unhelpful.

My point for mentioning this has to do with the nature of the tools and approaches that people in contemporary society use to analyze the world. And, if I might, I draw your attention to the concept that analysis has its etymological roots in the notion of “cutting things up”. Thus, to cut up the world simply kills the underlying shadowy notion of those always invisible abstraction that we call a “relationship”. But, again, I digress.

In more modern times, scholars from across almost every field of inquiry and discourse have come to note that different tools are required to understand the nature of life’s relationships. Aside, from stochastic process (which study the orderedness of larger collectivities that arise from random processes like the rolling of a dice), statistics really has no place in matters pertaining to living phenomenon that are most decidedly not of a standardized nature!

There is no average sized tree, earthquake, or manner of learning. Period.

If only people would take a serious look at the world to try to understand it. But this, as we know, is quite different from “knowing about” the world.

Well…that should be all for now. If you should find this little bit of commentary on statistics, so be it. If not…well, if I could think of something clever to say using some statistical result, I would. But i can’t.

best wishes,
Your Younger Sister

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