Do Gay weddings introduce sin into the law for the first time in history?

I found a pretty worrisome article I want to respond to.

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Gay ‘marriage’ a ‘sign of the apocalypse’: Russian Patriarch

MOSCOW, July 22, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In his Sunday sermon this weekend in Kazan Cathedral in Moscow, Patriarch Kirill, Primate, of the Russian Orthodox Church, warned against the extraordinary rise in many western countries of the homosexualist movement. Kirill said that the trend of legalizing “gay marriage” is “a very dangerous sign of the apocalypse.”

It “means people are choosing a path of self-destruction,” he said. He said he supports the recently passed national ban on homosexualist propaganda that has prohibited the Gay Pride festivities that have become a prominent feature of national life elsewhere. 

“Lately, we have enormous temptations, when a number of countries opting for sin is approved and justified by the law, and those who, acting in good conscience, are struggling with such laws imposed by a minority, being repressed,” Kirill said. 

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He added that everything must be done to prevent the approval of sin “on the spaces of Holy Russia.” Otherwise, “the people are embarking on the path of self-destruction”. 

The sermon came the Sunday following the passage in Britain of the Cameron government’s so-called “equal marriage” bill. Religious leaders and democracy campaigners both strenuously warned the government that its passage would seriously threaten foundational democratic freedoms. 

Colossal forces have set out “to convince us all that the only value is the freedom of choice,” said the patriarch, “and no one has the right to infringe on that value, even when a person chooses evil, even when a person chooses a socially dangerous behavior.” 

Even the most perfect laws, however, cannot eradicate corruption, lies, evil and confrontation, he said: “These can be eradicated only by the person who has made a free choice in favor of the good.” 

In recent months, Kirill’s has emerged as the strongest and most uncompromising religious voice in Europe against the apparently unstoppable political juggernaut of the international homosexualist movement. His comments yesterday follow his warning at a meeting in Moscow in May this year with Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, where he said, “Today we have a very dangerous development, the laws regarding same-sex marriages and adoption of their children which go against the moral nature of man.” 

“If people choose this lifestyle,” the Polish news service Interfax quoted him saying, “it is their right, but the responsibility of the Church is to say that it is a sin before God”. 

What the Russian Orthodox Church is concerned about, Kirill said, “is not the fact of the existence of this sin – it has always existed. But we are deeply concerned that for the first time in the history of the human race sin is being justified by law. This opens up the prospect of a dangerous development, which will contribute to the moral degradation of society.”

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I don’t feel any hatred towards patriarch Kirill. However I do believe that his utterances reflect an extraordinary ignorance which should put to shame the Russian orthodox Church.

In my last post, I explained why we’ve strong grounds for doubting that homosexuality is sinful. In other words, I fail to see how to commit oneself to a loving same-sex relationship is to “choose evil”. But that isn’t what shocked me in this article.

I was dumbstruck by the sentence: “But we are deeply concerned that for the first time in the history of the human race sin is being justified by law. “.

It’s so obviously wrong that no educated priest should ever make such a mistake. I just can’t understand how a patriarch could state this.

This assertion implies that:

– laws about racial segregation weren’t sinful

– laws discriminating Christians in Islamist countries aren’t sinful

–  laws of Nazi Germany against Jews weren’t sinful

– laws of Russian communists against religious people weren’t sinful

and so on and so forth.

That’s crazy talk.

I feel the duty to say I am in no position to judge Patriarch Kirill as a moral person. I don’t know him and there might be many domains where he outshines me.There is no way I can say I’m a better man than he is.

But I think he’s intellectually and probably also morally completely wrong on that particular issue.

He’s worryingly reflecting a strong trend within modern American Evangelicalism, namely that of focusing on sexual ethics while ignoring or often even upholding injustices in other areas.

I’d  say that unlike laws about gay marriage, laws protecting much more the rights of billionaires than those of poor children  and old people suffering from illnesses are unequivocally wicked and sinful.

Actually, there are many Conservative Evangelicals outside America who agree and strive for social justice as well besides their activism against what they see as sexual perversions.

Still in the US they tend to focus the greatest part of their moral indignation on gay people and abortion and much less on the ordeals real children outside their mother’s womb are going trough.

(I’d personally not say that ALL conservatives act in this way but this picture illustrates rather well the positions many of them hold.)
It goes without saying I must write that with fear and trembling because I’m really far from being perfect myself. And I also think it’s vital to resist the tendency of numerous progressive Christians to treat harshly any opponent to gay marriage.
My goal here is not to judge them as moral persons but to call them to reconsider their sense of priorities. And I’d like a greater number of them to imagine the unnecessary pain a sick child of unemployed parents might feel.

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How to pervert the legitimate fight against homophobia

My regular readers know that I speak out for the right of Gay people to marry their loved ones. I do think that a lifelong committed relationship between two persons of the same sex does NOT stand in conflict with Christ’s central teaching.

Gay couple

That said, I accept the fact that many Conservatives sincerely disagree even if I think they’re misguided.

Consequently, I cannot go along with the aggressive propaganda of liberal activists who all too often present ALL Conservatives rejecting Gay marriage as heartless bigots supporting the discriminations and even capital punishment of homosexuals.

A recent post of progressive Christian John Shore nicely illustrates this worrisome state of affairs.

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Challenging the evil empire of anti-gay Christians, and the resurfacing of old fundie fears

dearjohn [This is the latest in a series in which each Wednesday I answer a question or two asked to me by members of Serendipitydodah for Moms, a private Facebook group for Christian mothers of LGBT kids. (The first such post was Combatting the Downward Pull of Christian Negativity; the second Pastor tells mom her lesbian teen can’t be a Christian.) If you are interested in joining Serendipitydodah for Moms, email lizdyer55@gmail.com. If you’d like me to answer any questions/concerns you might have, email me at john@johnshore.com]

Dear John,

How do you think affirming Christians should deal with Christians who still think same-sex relationships are sinful? Should we treat their belief with tolerance and respect or respectfully confront them? I’m specifically thinking about those who feel compelled to speak out, promote, teach and proclaim that all same-sex relationships are sinful and that the only marriage blessed by God is between a man and a woman. Signed, Stay silent or speak up?

It’s been my experience that Christians who feel, as you well put it, “compelled to speak out, promote, teach and proclaim that all same-sex relationships are sinful” come in two varieties: Crazy, and Gets Paid to Promulgate Anti-Gay Christianity. It’s also been my experience that reasoning with either is a waste of time. As a rule the lay Christian who is “compelled to speak out” against homosexuality is too angry (and, frankly, too fearful of the power of his or her own sexuality) to listen to reason; the pastor, radio host, “ministry” leader or author whose bank account is tied to his perpetuation of the toxic nonsense that being gay is a sin–the professional gay-basher, in other words–has already sold his conscience for cash—and in the bargain of course also traded away his moral compass.

Treat a person from either group with tolerance and respect; vigorously refute them; insist you’ll sleep on their front lawn until they change their minds …  in the end, I have found, nothing will have changed beyond that you will have lost time that you could have spent doing something a lot more productive (such as … well, writing public letters like this to people like me, joining your local PFLAG chapter, organizing a markedly Christian presence at pro-LGBT events, helping your church to become LGBT-affirming, making sure your local schools are implementing and executing anti-bullying programs, voting for pro-LGBT initiatives, being active online—buy, frankly, my book UNFAIR and give it to anyone on the fence—etc., etc.).  But you see what I mean: you don’t take down an evil empire by arguing with one of its foot soldiers.

Dear John,

Coming from a conservative Christian background can be very difficult when you find out one or more of your kids is LGBT! As a mom who completely accepts and affirms my gay son I still have times when I worry that I might be wrong—that somehow my love for my son has misled me. What advise do you have for a parent like me? Signed, Dealing with doubts

The next time you find yourself doubting the truth that God finds homosexuality no more inherently sinful than heterosexuality, stop to examine what’s happening in your life at that moment. I guarantee you that something in the outside world will have triggered that doubt in you. When threatened we all tend to revert. Stress, tension, being worried, being fearful, being challenged … such feelings often trigger the old toxic tapes to start playing in our heads–the tapes that were recorded for us, not by us. The tapes that tell us to be afraid, that the worst is true, that God is judging us, that absolute damnation is one errant step away . . . that being gay really is a sin. The next time you find yourself reverting to the fears and paradigms instilled in you as a child, trust that’s simply an instinctive reaction to something real in your life that is genuinely concerning you.

Finding whatever it is that has triggered in you the playing of your old toxic tapes won’t be particularly difficult; once you understand that those old thoughts really are a stress response to something real and present happening in your life, you’ll pretty quickly be able to identify what that something is. And once you’ve identified what caused you to doubt the veracity of what you know to be true, those doubts will vanish, because you’ll see that in and of themselves they were not real, but only a secondary reaction to something that is real. Then you can address that real thing that’s really happening, instead of having to swat away the old demons that came flying back at you from a time when you were taught terrible things about God and Christianity that simply aren’t true.

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My response and interaction with other bloggers follow.

My comments are black whereas those of other persons are colored.

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Dear John,

first of all, let me say I really liked what you wrote about self-doubt’s dependency on one’s emotional state. We should only change our mind when new evidence comes in and not just because of one’s feelings.

As far as the alleged sinfulness of homosexuality is concerned, I’m entirely on your side . I’m also disgusted by the fact that so many Conservative Evangelicals focus so much on this issue while neglecting problems of social justice .

Gay partnerships are loving, faithful and committed, but can it lead to marriage?

Still, I find you wrote some pretty worrisome and almost outrageous sentences.

First of all, it isn’t true that Christians considering homosexuality as morally wrong are “anti-gay”. If someone views taking drug as a sin, it just doesn’t follow that he is “anti-junkies”. As I was an atheist in my teenage years, I viewed homosexuality as a deviant behavior out of ignorance but I was not anti-homosexual.

Likewise, it’s just false to state that Christians speaking out against homosexuality are EITHER “Crazy” OR “Gets Paid to Promulgate Anti-Gay Christianity”. Plenty might be sincerely convinced it is wrong even if they love homosexuals as people. Indeed, I know quite a few such Christians in Continental Europe.

So I think that the use of such an aggressive rhetoric is putting off many of your Conservative readers you could have touched through a more loving and moderate tone.

And I know Conservatives who have become homophobic due to people disapproving of homosexuality getting fired.

So I think that your strategy is really counter-productive and should be modified.

Progressively and fraternally yours.

Is it? Or is the topics John covers finally giving people a chance to think about this, to discuss what is happening and to shed light at how bad homophobia actually is? Trust me, its worse than many realize. In the US, there are several states, including the one I live in, where it is quite legal to deny housing or employment to people, just because of sexual orientation. There are hundreds of churches in my county. Two are LGBT affirming. Many counties have none. We had our state legislature remove funding from two state colleges because of a couple of gay friendly books.

Yet my adopted home town hosts an annual Pride rally. The state capital also has one. Its getting better here, but in a place where bi-racial couples are still looked down on, and a black man reaching into his car to get out his registration for a basic traffic stop, gets shot by a white state trooper, we have a long way to go.

it isn’t true that Christians considering homosexuality as morally wrong are “anti-gay”

If someone believes being gay is morally wrong, then it follows that they believe being gay is a choice. Who could be considered morally wrong for being born with green eyes or left-handed? Taking drugs is a choice; being gay is not. Taking drugs is illegal; being gay is not (unless you happen to live in one of the many states where you can be discriminated against for being gay).

Plenty might be sincerely convinced it is wrong even if they love homosexuals as people

Please. Not the old “hate the sin, love the sinner” tune again. That record’s broken.

putting off many of your Conservative readers

I’d have to ask John: how many of your readers are conservative?

I know Conservatives who have become homophobic due to people disapproving of homosexuality getting fired.

Why aren’t they gay-affirming due to gay people being fired for being gay?

your strategy is really counter-productive and should be modified

Oh yes, let’s play nice. Let’s play nice with the people who believe gays should be put to death, who are going to hell, who are child molesters, who are the worst kinds of perverts. Yeah, that’ll work.

Children take part in anti-gay protests in Uganda in 2011

Hello Barbara, thanks for your answer!

Conservative Christians don’t believe that having sexual desires towards persons of the same sex is wrong in and of itself but that it is wicked to act on this desire by e.g. kissing such an individual.
In other words they say: “Yeah he’s attracted towards men as I’m attracted towards females and that’s not wrong. BUT he must never act accordingly.”
Do I believe this principle is sound?
Absolutely not. I think that a life-long marriage is one of the most beautiful things one can experience during this life time.
What’s more I also believe that God does not forbid us things arbitrarily.
Consequently, I wholeheartedly affirm the right of Gay people to marry their loved ones.

YET it is also completely false to say that Conservative Christians (in general) believe that Gays are wicked human beings for being born that way.

What is more, how many percent of Conservative Christians think that homosexuals are child molesters and the worst kinds of perverts who should be put to death?

In French-speaking and German-speaking Europe they represent perhaps 0.001% of all Conservative believers.
How many proportion do they form in America? Sincerely?

There are many Conservative Christians who passionately oppose the discrimination of Gay people. But if they read such kinds of texts they feel they’re being UNFAIRly treated. They inevitably consider all of this as ignoble propaganda.

And this naturally diminishes their willingness to step in when Gay folks are being maltreated.

Friendly greetings.

BarbaraR

If you believe this, you must not read this blog often and see what I see. The vitriolic and hate-filled comments I and the other mods delete completely belie this notion.

There are many Conservative Christians who passionately oppose the discrimination of Gay people.

This poll just came out.

http://www.pewforum.org/2014/0…

From this poll:
White evangelical Protestants express the strongest support for allowing businesses to refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings (71%).

How many proportion do they form in America? Sincerely?

There are to the best of my knowledge no statistics on this. However, they pop up with appalling regularity. Here are a few examples of pastors calling for the death of gay people. As pastors go, so goes the flock.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…

http://www.christianpost.com/n…

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/p…

While it would be all sparkly unicorns and fluffy bunnies to think conservative evangelicals oppose discrimination against gays, I am not seeing evidence for it.

Lotharson

Hi! I agree there are horrible fag-bashing bigots in the States:

But everything in America seems to be far more extreme than in Europe.

Still, there are lots of Conservatives disapproving of homosexuality who do oppose the misdeeds you evoked.

You and I probably agree it is wrong to bully Muslims having a peaceful interpretation of Islam due to the existence of many terrorists.

So why should it be any different when Conservative Christians are concerned?

Cheers.

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I think that John Shore has probably good motives. But I fear he might currently be driven by hatred to some extent.

Other progressive Christians share my concern.

Popular blogger Tim Chastain (Jesus Without Baggages) recently told me what follows:

“I think I know what you mean, but I see Jesus’ instruction to love others as a more valid way of relating to the Father and to other people than following religious rules. In my opinion, properly grasping the principle of loving others does NOT lead to self justification of sinful behavior but to humility and true repentance.

The love of self I often speak of is not selfish love but an absence of self-hate that many of us feel when we think the Father is an angry, vindictive God. When we realize how the Father loves us, we are free to love ourselves in a healthy way and are released to love others in the same way.”

My goal is not to bash Shore and to present him as an evil human being. No, I aim at showing that progressive Christians can also fall prey to hate and that “Christianity with humanity” (the name of Shore’s ministry) also involves loving our enemies as ourselves.

Consequently we ought to be fair, just and act lovingly towards Conservative believers opposing Gay marriage, even if it strongly irritates us.

But on the other hand I also expect Conservative Christians to refrain from overgeneralizations concerning “Progressives”.

Could we learn to interact lovingly with those we disagree?

On Biblical inerrancy and the priorities of fundamentalists

Homepage of Lotharlorraine: (link here)

It is a widespread opinion in the Western world that the degree of kindness and humanity displayed by a Christian is inversely proportional to the intensity with which he or she takes the Bible seriously.

The more one believes in the Bible, the more arrogant, callous, dogmatic and even cruel one becomes.

I see two problems with this principle.

The Bible hasn’t a consistent ethic

One first major flaw of this theory is that it assumes that we call the Bible is entirely coherent in terms of its (apparently horrendous) moral doctrines. This is, of course, completely false. The Bible is a collection of books often widely differing in terms of their ethical and theological conceptions and  strongly conditioned by the cultural and historical context in which they were written. If it is silly to mock ancient Greeks because of their false scientific beliefs, it is also extremely problematic to judge people from the past as totally wicked according to our own advanced and enlightened modern moral standards.

Conservative Evangelicals and fundamentalists can only uphold their belief in Biblical inerrancy by utterly distorting the genuine historical meaning of countless passages: in order to maintain the illusion of “the unity of Scripture“, they constantly have to resort to extraordinarily ad-hoc and implausible hypotheses for fitting conflicting passages to each others.

I’ve argued that even if Jesus shared many assumptions of other Jews of His days, he traced back every moral rule to the demands of Love and rejected the existence of arbitrary commands stemming from the Father.

Fundamentalists constantly ignore important principles found in the Bible

One of the clearest examples concerns homosexuality. Compare the proportion of passages dealing with this sexual orientation with that of those addressing problems of social justice (broadly defined as any endeavor aiming at alleviating the burden and pain of the weakest members of one’s society). What’s the ratio between both quantities? 0.004?

If the goal of fundamentalists is really to perfectly follow their Scripture, why are their own priorities so incredibly out of touch with those of the Biblical writers?

There is another problem here. Many of their favorite proof texts either don’t teach what they believe or do it in a way which would oblige them to reject important doctrines from the New Testament.

Let us consider the famous case of Sodom and Gomorrah. For very influential Biblical writers, homosexuality was NOT the main cause of their destruction.

  •  Isaiah 1:10, 17: Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! … Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.
  • Ezekiel 16:48-50 — Regarding Jerusalem: As I live, says the Lord God, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did these abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it.
  • Zephaniah 2:9-10: Therefore, as I live, says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Moab shall become like Sodom and the Ammonites like Gomorrah, a land possessed by nettles and salt pits, and a waste forever. The remnant of my people shall plunder them, and the survivors of my nation shall possess them. This shall be their lot in return for their pride, because they scoffed and boasted against the people of the LORD of hosts.
  • Book of Wisdom 19:13-18 (found in the Roman Catholic Bible) — Regarding Sodom and Gomorrah: On the sinners, punishment rained down not without violent thunder as early warning; and deservedly they suffered for their crimes, since they evinced such bitter hatred for strangers.

Conservative Evangelical like quoting again and again the book of Deuteronomy:

Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood [shall be] upon them.

cherry picking christians

But they’re wholly oblivious to the fact that for the ancient author, the following practices were also abominable for the Almighty:
Leviticus 11:10-19 – (6) “But anything in the seas or the rivers that has not fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, is an abomination to you. They shall remain an abomination to you; of their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall have in abomination. Everything in the waters that has not fins and scales is an abomination to you.”

In Continental Europe, there are many Conservative Evangelicals who are aware of this all and consequently find fighting poverty and injustices much more urgent and important than combating homosexuality.

Given that, it’s still kind of a puzzle to me that Conservative Christians in America devote such an extravagantly disproportionate amount of their God-given time to the confrontation with the “sin” of queer people while trying to uphold crying inequalities between the healthcare of poor and rich children.

If I were allowed to get a bit cynical at my lost hours, I’d surmise it’s a lot easier to harass a minority one is not a part of than to deal with other sins which have a real grip on one’s own heart.

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How NOT to be a progressive: using the law to shut down your opponents

My regular readers know that I am deeply engaged for fostering tolerance towards homosexuals and overcome the notion that a committed and loving gay couple is necessarily wicked.

Bild

That said, I am often put off by the reprehensible strategies the liberal lobby use for promoting this desirable goal.

 

One recent example from Canada caught my intention:

 

University bars sexual intimacy that ‘violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman’

Trinity Western University students must sign a covenant recognizing the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.

Trinity Western University students must sign a covenant recognizing the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.

The Law Society of Upper Canada has voted 28 to 21 against the accreditation of Trinity Western University’s proposed new law school in B.C.

The vote means graduates from the B.C. university would not be able to practise in Ontario.

“Benchers took this issue very seriously, and did not find it easy to reach a decision,” said the Law Society of Upper Canada’s treasurer, in a written statement.

“As members of the legal profession, we recognize the entrenched values of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Ontario’s Human Rights Code, including the right of equality and the right to freedom of religion, and the foundational nature of those rights to our democracy.”

Trinity Western University students must sign a strict Christian covenant governing behaviour, including abstaining from sexual intimacy “that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”

Critics say the covenant essentially bans anyone in a gay relationship from enrolling in the school.

Earlier this month, the West Coast Legal Education Action Fund, a non-profit organization founded to ensure women’s equality rights under the law, argued against the university law school’s accreditation in B.C.

But the B.C. Law Society voted to accredit the school. 

B.C. Law Society decision challenged

However, that fight isn’t over.

Michael Mulligan

Victoria lawyer Michael Mulligan is trying to overturn the Law Society’s earlier decision by gathering enough signatures to trigger a rare special general meeting. (CBC)

Earlier this month, Victoria criminal lawyer Michael Mulligan launched a petition to trigger a vote to overturn the decision.

This week, Mulligan announced he had collected and submitted more than 1,000 signatures from B.C. lawyers opposed to the decision, more than twice the number required to trigger a vote.

That means the society has 60 days to hold a special general meeting to allow all members vote on the recent decision.

 

Mulligan believes the vast majority of lawyers take issue with the university’s covenant, which he says is at odds with a core principle of the lawyer’s oath to uphold the rights and freedoms of all according to the law, and will vote against it.

“Some of the benchers, while they spoke about finding the policies of this school as being, as I’ve indicated, as abhorrent and objectionable, some of them cast their vote thinking there was a legal requirement to do so.

“But the majority of the benchers in Ontario disagreed with the majority here, so it may well be influential.”

In December, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada gave Trinity Western University preliminary approval for its law school program and said it was up to provincial law societies to decide whether to recognize degrees from the school.

 

It is one thing to require from Canadian judges to sign a statement according to which they pledge to impartially apply Canadian laws, even if they find some of them objectionable.

But it is quite another thing to take legal measures for hindering or even preventing the employment of people having moral objections against Gay marriage, even if this might never play out during their professional life.

Imagine now a graduate from this university having no strong feelings on this issue and UNABLE to find a livelihood because his or her degree is no longer recognized.
Is it not an unjust punishment? Is not likely to turn her into a very resentful person?

By acting like this, the slaves of political correctness (I’m unwilling to call them “progressives”) prove they are the foes of an open society. They clearly display a fascistic mindset.

And I think this is a slippery slope.

While I am against the legal prohibition of abortion, I expressed why I consider it morally wrong when the health of the mother is not endangered, expressing a feeling many progressive Christians have towards what has been called “pregnancy cessation”, especially if mentally handicapped children are killed in this fashion.

 

I would not be that astonished if in one or two decades, the European Union were to issue a directive banning people from public jobs if they express such a view on the ground that it (allegedly) violate the right of a woman to dispose of her body.

BildWelcome to our brave new world where totalitarian laws are used to enforce “fundamental liberties”.

 

 

 

 

 

The Church against perversions

A British friend of mine, Rob, just posted this nice comic strip on his Facebook account:

 

Question: would it have been possible, back then, to find plenty of reasons for leading left-handed folks to live as if they were right-handed on the grounds that they would sin otherwise?

Pope Francis and the importance of fighting homosexuality

While I certainly don’t agree with many of the dogmas (officially) held by Pope Francis, it cannot be denied that he accords more importance to social justice than to problems of sexual ethics.

Whilst adultery is wrong and promiscuity bad (this is recognized by most progressive Christians), I doubt that these sins should be our priority. Jesus was much more concerned with pride and the unjust way people treat each other. If this underlying darkness can be overcome through God’s grace, positive changes are going to sprout everywhere.

 

So I was greatly encouraged after having read this article about Pope Francis.

Bild

 

Pope Francis has sensationally said the Catholic Church is “obsessed” with preaching about issues like abortion and gay marriage and that it needs to stop interfering.

In an incredibly frank interview with the Italian Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica, the Pope said the church has the right to express its opinions but not to “interfere spiritually” in the lives of gays and lesbians.

Dismissing critics who say he should be more vocal about fighting abortion and gay marriage, the Pope said the Church “sometimes locked itself up in small things.”

Describing his new vision for the church he said: “We have to find a new balance,” saying it should be a “home for all” and not a “small chapel.”

“Otherwise,” the Pope continued, “even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards.”

He added that women must play a more key role in church decisions but emphatically stated that the “door is closed,” on women’s ordination.

“The feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions,” he said. “The church cannot be herself without the woman and her role.”

Expanding on the explosive comments he made about homosexuality in July when he was returning to Rome from Rio de Janeiro, where he had celebrated World Youth Day, the Pope said he has no right to judge anyone from the LGBT community.

“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality,” he said in the interview.

“I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.”

In July, he famously said “Who am I to judge” gay people.

Now, he has admitted he has faced criticism, but determinedly insisted that the church’s priorities must change to incorporate his views.

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” he said.

“I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that.”

“It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,” Francis said.

 

 A next step for him would be to sincerely wonder if homosexuality is truly harmful for the individual or society.

For the God revealed in Jesus Christ does not utter arbitrary prohibitions which don’t contribute to our well being and flourishing.

 

 

 

Who is my gay neighbor?

Progressive Evangelical theologian Randal Rauser wrote a new great post about Conservative Christians and their attitude towards the persecution of homosexuals.

Should conservative Christians care about the persecution of Uganda’s homosexuals? I certainly thought so. But it looks like not everybody agrees as I faced some strong criticism in the discussion thread to my article on the topic. (You can skim the discussion thread to find it, if you like.) The hostility, so far as I could see, was shaped to a significant degree by an endless succession of clips of gay pride parades on the evening news.

I have to tell you that the gay people I’ve met are so much more boring than this.

They’re also far more noble than that. (The evangelicals I know are also far more noble than that which one finds in the evening news. But that’s a different topic.)

So how are homosexuals nobler? Consider a couple examples.

In 2000 I was living in London, England. There I was sitting on the Tube. The car was crowded. A couple poofs were sitting nearby. I judged them. Poofs. Yck.

Then the subway stopped. Folks got off and others got on. Among the new passengers was a little old lady. I looked at her and never thought twice.  I had a seat and she didn’t. That’s just the way things are. Too bad for her.

But maybe not…

And then one of the “poofs” jumped out of his seat and offered it to the elderly lady. In a moment I saw that I was the priest shuffling busily by and the gay man I had dismissed with my cavalier, self-righteousness gaze was the Good Samaritan.

Ouch.

Fast-forward five years.

We’re at Buddy Wonton Chinese Restaurant in Edmonton. The family is sitting by a large picture window about to have our meal when a drunk man — presumably homeless — stumbles up to the window and starts staring at my plate of food. I tolerate this for about thirty seconds … and then I wave my hand for him to move on. A switch flips in the man and he starts screaming at me. “I’m going to f*$#^ kill you!” he screams.’

I don’t feel threatened. But I also don’t feel an inclination to go out and confront this man. So I tell the poor Chinese busboy to do so. He turns ashen white and turns to the door to go out and face the wrath of the angry homeless man.

There are a couple of lesbians nearby. I hadn’t paid them any heed prior to this moment. But suddenly one of the ladies, a solid gal with a brushcut, jumps up and follows the poor, terrified Chinese busboy outside. She walks up to the homeless man and gives him a piece of her mind. She tells him what time it is. She tells him to move on. She’s got confidence and courage. Eventually he lowers his head and shuffles on. I am left to enjoy my meal with my family. She walks back inside and joins her consort. I eat my meal and say nothing.

Shame on me. I inadvertently instigated the confrontation with the homeless man. And I left it to the lesbian stranger to defend my honor.

If anything, I am the one that needs forgiveness.”

I once rewrote a parable of Jesus in a way very similar to these real stories.

I made the same experience. Even as I was an atheist, I had prejudices against gay people and viewed them as perverted. Getting to know them personally and hearing their testimonies utterly changed my attitude.

I was especially moved by the life stories of Christian homosexuals who struggled very hard to get rid of their “sinful” sexual orientation, prayed, fasted, took a lot of drugs without any success.

The terrible suffering they went though before accepting their homosexual nature deeply touched me.

All the time I hear fundamentalists telling me that some people might have a pedophilic nature but this gives them no excuse for acting according to it.

This is obviously true, but they forget the main difference: it has never been proven that committed lifelong homosexual relationships are harmful in any way.

So following the teaching of Jesus, we ought to welcome them into the Church.

Bild