You and Me Together...

Today in the USA is “The Day of Truth“. You’ll see the little advert on the right-hand side of the page. Essentially, the idea of the Day of Truth is to follow the “Day of Silence” (a day when students in US schools go around saying nothing as a protest against homophobia – quite valid a thing to do in some places I think) with a day where “the truth” is shared. The truth of course in this case being the “real” truth behind homosexuality, that it’s not a fixed thing, that people can change their orientation and move from gay to straight.

I’m broadly in agreement with that viewpoint. I do think that sexual orientation isn’t a fixed thing, that one’s sexual and emotional life isn’t dictated by genes, chromosomes or biology or even one’s current affections. But the canny amongst you will have noticed that unlike Exodus and it’s ilk I describe myself as post-gay and not ex-gay. Why is that?

I think the main problem with ex-gay is that it is an ontological statement. It presents, intentionally or not, the one who calls himself as ex-gay as one who’s sexual orientation has changed from gay to straight. He/she is claiming to have gone from one state of being (gay) to another (straight). And while that is the case for many who are ex-gay, for others it isn’t so clear. For some their sexual desires move more towards those of the opposite sex but not to a point where they are exclusively heterosexual in their attractions. That then raises more questions of an ontological nature – are they really “bisexual” (though one wants to ask where the bisexual/heterosexual continuum switches – 95% hetero, 96%, 98.64738%?) and not gay? Are they therefore lying?

I think “ex-gay” also presents a pastoral issue for some who undertake that journey. If the ex-gay ministries promise change to heterosexuality and that change doesn’t occur, does that mean that the ex-gay model is fallacious? While there is a pretty impressive “success rate” for those who go through ex-gay ministries, there is also an equally large number of people who drop-out or reject it. While some of that drop-out is embittered and angered other parts of it are intelligent and articulate and raise a number of important issues that need to addressed.

So this is my problem with “ex-gay”. It seems to suggest a bi-polar, ontological model of sexual attraction – gay to straight. In doing so it unfortunately sets itself up for a fall with those for whose experience that bi-polar model doesn’t seem to fit. So what is the alternative model for those of us who want to affirm the redemption of same-sex attraction and broken sexuality?

The alternative is “post-gay”. Post-gay isn’t an ontological statement, it’s a vectorial statement. For those uninitiated in the deeper arcane magicks of mathematics, a vector is simply a description of a direction and magnitude. It describes a movement, not a position (which is ontology). Post-gay then is less about being straight or gay and rather about a choice of a journey.

Perhaps a personal example to clarify. I’m post-gay because I chose to leave “gay” behind. I chose to no longer accept “gay” as an explanation of who I was and instead to begin a journey away from it. I chose to do so because I was convinced from the Scriptures that “gay” wasn’t a suitable way to describe myself, that it wasn’t a valid way for a Christian to establish identity. I was compelled not just by reading the normal passages on the subject but also from the story in John 8:1-11 of the woman caught in adultery. In particular Jesus’ last words to her are “Go now and leave your life of sin”.

He doesn’t magically transform the women from a harlot to a saint (and contrary to common belief, there’s nothing to associate this woman with Mary Magdalene) but rather simply gives her an instruction of direction – leave this place you’re at (adultery) and move on from it. His command is vectorial, not ontological. It is the call of discipleship – it says “follow me to wherever I take you – I don’t promise you riches or immediate perfection, but I do promise you hope”.

This is why post-gay is a far better description for those who have left homosexuality behind. It describes a journey away from a false identity constructed around one’s emotions and a true one constructed in following Jesus. For some of us that journey involves changes in our sexual orientation, perhaps marriage and kids. For others they see no change in their sexual attractions, but they have left behind the place of false-identity, of seeing themselves as “gay” and that as a defining a unchangeable aspect of their being.

Some aspects of that journey have been clearly marked for us. A dispassionate reading of the Scriptures shows very clearly that God didn’t intend for us to have sex outside of the marriage of male and female. So I could see very clearly that that life option (same-sex activity) and those things that celebrated it (“gay”) were not the direction God wanted me to take. But other parts of the journey only become apparent as we set out to walk the road God has called us onto.

What’s interesting in my case is that I only walked the first of those two possibilities above (change and celibacy) after having reconciled myself to the second. I remember on my post-gay journey reaching a point where I was seeing no change in my attractions and was getting angry with God about it. Wasn’t this ex-gay choice meant to work? Shouldn’t God be doing something about it? God challenged me over the course of a few days with a clear message – “If I want you to stay like this for my purposes, why can’t I do that? Will you follow me wherever I take you, not just only to the places you want to go?” That night I surrendered my sexuality and future to God, reconciled to a life of celibacy but not a life of “gay”. It was only in the surrender to God’s path for me that I then later saw him taking me on the journey to where I am now happily married.

Now the one challenge you might still make to me from an ontological perspective is whether I still have same-sex attraction. Am I 100% heterosexual or not? But as if that matters on the journey. The idea of gay/bisexual/straight is an attempt to ontologically categorise men and women and normally continues into trying to define morality as dependent on ontology. It sees “homosexual” as a statement of one’s being and therefore prescriptive of the “normative” behaviour that derives from that being. Post-gay rejects that way of thinking about sexuality.

A friend of mine is an alcoholic. He hasn’t touched a drop of alcohol in over 20 years, he runs a successful rehab centre, but he would still freely call himself an alcoholic when each week he attends his 12 steps meeting. Why? He knows that he could always return to drinking alcohol to solve emotional and relational issues in his life – it worked in the past and it could work again. In the same way, I’m happy to be described as a homosexual. I know that when I’m down or tired or feeling inadequate I could seek catharsis in the embrace of somebody of the same sex in an attempt to shore my own masculinity. But I’ve also, like my friend who realises that he’s an alcoholic, discovered that that behaviour is counter-productive in the long run because it is simply catharsis and not actually redemptive.

So post-gay is quite happy to admit to a myriad of sexual attractions, but it refuses to be defined by them, not least because the Bible never refers to men and women as homosexual or heterosexual. Rather it is defined by a direction, a journey, a path towards God and his will for our lives.

On the way back from a wedding on Saturday evening I was listening with my wife to Judge Jules on Radio One and a fantastic remix of a Jimmy Somerville / Bronski Beat track was played – You and Me by Blue Ray. Absolutely loved it and the words are still as powerful as they were over 20 years ago. “You and me together, fighting for our love”. While that might in the past have been a call for gay pride, now for me it’s a rallying cry for my post-gay journey and the journey of others. We want to love in the way, reading Scripture and listening to Him, we understand God made us to. We’ll step out on the journey away from polar definitions of sexual identity, whether gay or straight, and instead we’ll simply go where God calls us, trusting for now what’s he already given as sign-posts and waiting upon him for the rest. Our mark of success will not be defined by reaching a certain goal (“straight” or whatever) but rather by still being on the right road, despite whatever comes at us before Glory.

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  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    You’re ducking the issue William. The argument I was making that if you rest any sense of morality (as you did above) in the law then you open yourself up to having to support a change in that law. Your comment above is revealing because you talk about consent and differing legal positions in this country, but you never once turn to Scripture to be used as an arbiter for correct sexual conduct.

  • William

    No, Peter, I’m not ducking the issue at all. I pointed out that the law does not regard a 14 year old as capable of giving free, meaningful consent to sex with an adult, and that was why I had put the word “consensual” in inverted commas. I wasn’t implying that the law was the arbiter of morality – although the law in this instance is based on moral considerations – but I can see why you thought that I was implying that, so no doubt I expressed myself too hastily and clumsily. My subsequent explanation should have cleared up the misunderstanding.
    Although it is now generally recognised that it is not the business of the law to enforce private morality (and this was one of the principal factors in de-criminalizing homosexual behaviour between adults in the U.K. during the second half of the last century), that doesn’t mean that moral criteria are irrelevant to the law. The case for abolishing capital punishment, for example, was that capital punishment was grossly immoral and that therefore no civilized country had the right to inflict it under any circumstances. (Whether or not one agrees that capital punishment is immoral is another matter.) This obviously doesn’t mean that abolitionists based their idea of what was immoral on the law, since the law at the time permitted and enforced capital punishment. To say that, if the age of consent for girls were changed back to 12, I would have to give moral support to the change is simply nonsense. If, God forbid, that ever happened, then I would be among those campaigning to reverse the change. I still would not regard a 12 year old girl as being capable of giving meaningful consent to sex with an adult, and I would believe that the state had abrogated its moral duty to protect young girls.

    Concerning the age at which someone can be deemed either legally or morally capable of consenting to sex, Scripture gives us no guidance whatever, so it would be useless to turn for Scripture for information which it doesn’t contain. As to correct sexual conduct generally, if you’re looking for a unified sexual ethic in Scripture it’s not there; it has to be read into Scripture. http://www.pflagsanjose.org/advocacy/Homosexuality_and_the_Bible.pdf

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    You’re incorrect in your last paragraph William. The Scriptures teach us plainly that sex should happen inside marriage and only inside marriage, so we have a very clear model for consent. The fact that you reject this Biblical moral is the problem.

  • William

    Even if you’re right about that, Peter, I still don’t think that it gives us “a very clear model for consent”. I know of no age limit specified in the Bible. Can you quote me one, giving chapter and verse?

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Genesis 2:20-25

  • William

    I can find no age of consent specified here. I know not a single word of Hebrew (it’s all Greek to me); do the Hebrew words represented by “woman” and “wife” indicate females over a certain age? If so, what is the age?
     
    Note that this passage wasn’t interpreted by the ancient Hebrews as prohibiting polygamy, as a reading of the rest of Genesis and the following books of the Old Testament demonstrate.
     
    I’d just add that the rule that sex should only take place within marriage, which by your definition is heterosexual – and I’m inclined to agree with the definition – doesn’t offer any helpful guidance to those who are homosexual (and any argument about whether homosexual “defines” them is of no practical relevance here one way or the other). That’s not surprising, since there’s no reason to suppose that the biblical authors had any real understanding of homosexuality. Peter Akinola still hasn’t. And even if it is admitted that some homosexual people change and become heterosexual (and vice versa), it is still the fact that the vast majority don’t and won’t. Some people win the National Lottery jackpot: “It could be you.” Yes, it could, but it won’t. (I remember the sceptical magazine Scienza e Paranormale reporting a few years ago that a surprisingly large number of Italians interviewed really were convinced that, if they kept on doing the lottery regularly, they were bound to win it some time during their lifetime. I’m not applying this analogy in any other respect, by the way: winning the lottery is far more useful than changing your sexual orientation.)
     
    The crux of the matter is how you view homosexuality. You have made the perfectly valid distinction between orientation and activity, and you illustrated this with the example of a paedophile. The sexual attraction to children is not itself sinful because it has presumably manifested itself unbidden, but acting on it is. I think that you would agree, however, that the attraction itself is a bad thing in the sense that it’s a problem, in other words that it is, to quote the title of a book which I’ve seen around in religious bookshops, “not the way it’s supposed to be”.
     
    I think that the language of the Vatican letter Homosexualitatis Problema sums it up well here:
     
    “Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.”
     
    If this statement had referred to “the paedophile” or to “the man who feels a strong impulse to rape women” instead of to “the homosexual person”, I would have agreed with it. As it stands, I do not. You presumably would. That is where we differ. Since I do not regard sexual attraction to another adult of the same sex as disordered morally, psychologically, spiritually or in any other way, I believe that “gays can express their sexuality in a manner that is consonant with Christ’s teaching.”

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    As regards the age of consent, the age of consent is marriage. That’s the clear biblical picture and the call is for chastity for all. Sex is not a right and it’s not a human necessity. Discipleship involves dying ot self not indulging in desires.

    You can continue to insist that the New Testament writers didn’t understand homosexuality, but such a view is an utterly destructive view of Scripture, for the New Testament writers were inspired by God. When you claim that Paul was ignorant what you are actually claiming is that we have a completely stupid and incompetent God who wasn’t capable of looking forward 2000 years in the future when modern enlightened people would finally have “worked it out” as regards sexuality. I don’t believe in such a pathetic and decrepit God for a second, even if you do. It’s a bankrupt theology that rejects the bits of the Bible that don’t suit one’s personal desires.

  • William

    “As regards the age of consent, the age of consent is marriage.”
     
    I don’t know quite what to make of that, Peter. Taken simply word for word, it seems to me a proposition to which it is difficult to attach any precise meaning. But are you perhaps trying to say that, as long as sex takes place within marriage, an age of consent doesn’t signify? If so, is child marriage O.K.? When an aged Indian judge came into his drawing-room leading a girl of 10 by the hand, Madame Blavatsky assumed that she was his granddaughter. When he revealed that the little girl was his new wife, Madame Blavatsky exclaimed, “You old beast! You ought to be thoroughly ashamed of yourself!” Was she wrong? Not in my view.
     
    “Discipleship involves dying [to] self not indulging in desires.”
     
    If that’s what you say about all gay relationships, why not apply it to straight relationships too, including marriage? Many of the early Church “Fathers” did. St Jerome, for instance, thought that the married laity were living “like cattle” with each other and that the only good thing about marriage was that it produced virgins. St Augustine had plenty of equally disparaging things to say about marriage, even while recognising its inevitability and necessity. In fact Fr Marc Oraison, a French priest and doctor, wrote in 1975 that it was still possible to find old handbooks of moral theology which stated that sex is “a sin permitted in marriage for the purpose of having children.”
     
    “It’s a bankrupt theology that rejects the bits of the Bible that don’t suit one’s personal desires.”
     
    The phoney division of the Levitical laws into ceremonial, civil and moral – which, to be fair, I don’t know that you have used, but which I have frequently heard and read used by many self-styled exponents of a “biblical” view of homosexuality who quote Lev. 18:22, though they seem rather more chary nowadays of quoting Lev. 20:13 – is a way of doing precisely that while pretending not to be doing it, which is a piece of arrant intellectual dishonesty. Even though I’m not a theologian or a biblical scholar, I can see that for myself.
     
    Clearly you and I have different views of the Bible. I don’t believe in an infallible book – or, for that matter, in an infallible church, pope, council or synod.
     
    “The Bible is not a revelation but the history of a Divine Revelation, ever advancing from even pagan beliefs and practices to others of the highest spiritual character. The end of this Revelation awaits fulfilment in later worlds. Furthermore there is no such thing as an infallible system of doctrine.” – Ven. R.H. CHARLES, Late Archdeacon of Westminster
     
    Interestingly, the more the infallibility of the Bible is insisted on, the more schisms and sub-schisms the notion seems to give rise to.

    • Brandon

      Major issue with what you said here; “I don’t believe in an infallible book–or, for that matter, in an infallible church, pope, council, or synod.” I will list three problems.
      1) God IS infallible. If what you say is true, the infallible God has not given us any way to know His infallible will as the only things we have by which to know God are fallible. Shouldn’t the revelation of an infallible God be a tad more dependable?
      2) You become the standard, you become the canon, you are the final authority. You too, however, are fallible. By what reliable means, then, do we discern correct doctrine and morality? Was Jesus infallible? If he was, he attested to the inspiration of the Hebrew Scriptures and breathed the Holy Spirit to the Apostles in the Gospel of John. Jesus, at that moment, inspired the Apostles.
      3) There is a theme in the book of Judges, “And everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” This phrase is not used in a positive way. You are picking and choosing what Scriptural revelations you want to believe, you are not taking them all and reconciling them.
      4) If you reject the historical Christian witness (Bible, tradition, councils, etc) in their condemnation on homosexual practice, by what authority do you accept it? Whatever it is, it seems as though you place greater authority on that thing, and must view it as being less “fallible” than Scripture.

      Concerning the particular Church Fathers you brought up, no single Church father is infallible or doctrinal authoritative. My question to you is, what makes them wrong? By what authority? Ultimately, I would appeal to Scripture.

      Concerning your last comment, what’s wrong with schism? I would find it ironic if your response has anything to do with the “fallible” Scriptures. The Apostles did condemn division among the faithful and admonishes the Church to not get caught up in meaningless arguments. They key note is that not all arguments are meaningless and not all divisions are among “brethren.” The Biblical authors also admonish the Church to separate themselves from false teachers and false brothers and from those who are unwilling to repent of sin.

      I do not say the above unlovingly, but I do say it critically. I understand your position is probably rooted in a deep sense of compassion for the gay community, and such compassion is an excellent thing to have. No one wants to offend anybody for the sake of offending them… but if you were convinced it were TRUE that Scripture is correct in its condemnation of a practicing homosexual lifestyle, would you speak the truth even if it offended? Would you have the same compassion in working to bring people in sin to repentance? Or do you condemn God for His condemnation of a practice because “it is right in your own eyes?”

  • Stephen

    Whats your views on shellfish and mixed fabrics?

    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

      I’m a particular fan of mussels and I go for hard wearing polycotton blends for day to day wear. While we’re on the subject, the best prices for slaves are currently in the Sudan. Any other bits of Leviticus you’d like to throw at me or should we start to discuss how Jesus fulfils the Law and the Prophets?

      • Stephen

        Your going to have to indulge me slightly more I am afraid Peter.  As a novice I’m not really sure on how you interpet the Bible and why some bits of Leviticus appear at least to me to be more relevant to you then other chapters or verses. 

        On a related matter how widely is the idea of PostGay as opposed to Ex Gay used and is there a particular grouping of say evangelicals or anglo catholics that accept one as more to God’s message then the other?

        • Brandon

          I think this is a very important question to respond to because it is brought up often. I understand your objection, but people who make it often forget that the Golden rule, a. k. a. “The Second Greatest Commandment,” is also found in Leviticus 19:18. If we don’t follow ritual purity laws, why follow the Golden Rule? Besides that, here’s the answer[s].

          The Mosaic Law covered a broad spectrum. Some of the Laws were directed to only certain people such as priests, Levites, Nazarites, etc. Many of the ritual purity Laws were connected to the Temple and the Land, all of which does not apply to us (especially as Gentiles) but such things have been obsolete when Christ fulfilled the Law in life, death, and resurrection. Jesus says that it is not what enters a man that makes him unclean (speaking about food), but want comes from the heart. This should be read in context and not in a postmodern, emotionally driven light. Jesus also said in the book of Acts that Peter should not call what he has made clean unclean. This happens right before the “Gentile Day of Pentecost” as Gentiles are unclean. The distinction that is to be noted is the difference between moral laws and ritual purity laws. Moral Laws are Laws that are absolute and Universally binding (murder). Ritual purity Laws were highly contextualized, and were not inherently considered morally wrong (a married couple who has sex were ritually impure for a specified amount of time. It is only wrong if they went and sacrilegiously desecrated the Temple in their impurity). The activity or practice of homosexuality falls under the moral category. Moreover, Leviticus is not the only Scriptural objection.

          Morality, on the Christian view, can be summed up as living inside or outside of the will of God for our lives, both collectively and individually. What was/is God’s original intent, or plan, for humanity. “Male and female He created them,” “Be fruitful and multiply.” Before the Fall, what was the ideal for mankind? The first 2 chapters of Genesis are one issue.

          Some people are not always satisfied with that reference, but we also have what the Epistles say about the issue. Out of the Epistles, I think Paul’s Epistle to Timothy is the strongest Biblical argument that Leviticus 20:13 is a moral law and not a ritual purity law. In I Timothy 1:8-11 there is a word that is often times translated homosexuals. Dissenters will offer their of the translation, but they cannot argue against the original Greek. The Greek word translated homosexual is the same Greek word that is used for Leviticus 20:13 in the Septuagint. The word seems to be rather uncommon, so the suggestion is directly quoting the word. Regardless, there is no ambiguity as to what Paul meant in the Greek.

          It is not that I do not feel compassion for the LGBT community and their sympathizers and how hard a truth this verse would be for them. I get it. I am not unsympathetic to the gay community nor am I isolated from it. there are a number of people I care about who are struggling or lost in this issue. At the end of the day, however, if something is true we should not censure it, downplay it, or “revise” it because we feel bad about the implications of such a truth. Such a method is a band aid on cancer. It may seem more compassionate in the moment to not challenge people to repent (said in love and gentleness, but said nonetheless), but in the long run it is irresponsible, inconsiderate, and immoral. If we condone something that ultimately leads down the WIDE path to destruction, are we not to a great extent responsible? Christ is the Way, and he is the narrow gate. Many times in Jesus’ ministry did people leave him because his teachings were “too hard.” This issue is no different. We must do our best to follow Christ teachings, all of his teachings, even his hard teachings, or we should leave. Let us not be lukewarm.

  • Angelo

    I would not like my sister to marry a post-gay, would you?  Actually, I think it is not healthy…  there is so much psychological research done on this, why are we afraid of diversity?

    I say, sex is a wonderful thing, what it matters is how you live your sexuality.

    The same tenants apply to straight and gay relationships…   Two men or two women can build a Christian family together… I have seen that with my own eyes.

    So… this post-gay thing seems a waste of time, effort and money.

    kind regards,
    Angelo

    • john

      Angelo,
       You said this:

      “The same tenants apply to straight and gay relationships…   Two men or two women can build a Christian family together… I have seen that with my own eyes.”‘
      ————————-

      My reply:

      Eve also saw the fruit with her own two eyes and “saw that it was good for food”–it probably tasted good too.

      Indeed, the Bible talks about a time when there was no king in Israel, and everybody did what was right in their own eyes. It was a sad state of affairs.

      It really comes down to the fundamental issue will we say before the judgement:

      “Lord, thy will be done”

      Or will God say to us at the jusdgement:

      “Thy will be done.”

      What a brave new world!
      Calvin needs a resurrection. Total depravity has fallen by the wayside. It is now God who needs to repent and be baptized for the remission of His sins.
      After all, how an Jesus save me if there is nothing wrong with me in the first place?

      (It has now been one year,and the debate is still going.)

  • Robert Simpson

    John: if I remember correctly, in fact there was always a king in Israel – the LORD.  When the Israelites finally got around to asking for an earthly king God was considerably miffed and said they were rebelling against him in doing so, that he would nevertheless give them a king, but they would regret it mightily. As for things being a sad state without kings, they got considerably worse under the kings, who are (with a minority of honourable exceptions) mostly described as leading Israel into sin.

  • Robert Simpson

    As for the Eve thing: that’s not exactly the same thing.  Eve did what seemed attractive to her in her OWN eyes, whereas Angelo is standing as a witness (whether mistakenly or not) for what someone else is doing. Jesus himself points out that the latter is a legally valid procedure, whereas bearing witness on one’s own behalf is not.

  • Robert Simpson

    I’m sorry if my last remarks, particularly the first, seemed a bit tetchy (it was partly because I was in a hurry at the time).  My real point was that the biblical picture of the period of the Judges is more complicated than that, and I felt some qualification needed adding, especially if the passage in question was to be used as ammunition to fire at people. The comment at the end of the book of Judges, about there being no king so everyone did what was right in his own eyes, is probably meant mainly as a comment about the political situation where everyone had to govern their own affairs, since that is the most obvious result of having no central authority, and since that is what changed when kings did come along (unlike Israel’s tendency to stray in religious matters, which certainly existed before the kings but did not improve noticeably under them). Also the context is not for once religious infidelity but the disastrous attempt by the Israelites to punish a crime, which very nearly ended up with the wiping out of a whole tribe, which seems more of a political problem than a religious one insofar as one can make the distinction for ancient Israel. I would suggest it would be dangerous to read much if any condemnation into the remark given I Sam. 8, which presents the move to having earthly kings in a very bad light. The main point of it seems more likely to be explanatory: the intended original audience was presumably expected to take the kingship for granted.

  • Brian

    FANTASTIC site! Very interesting debates here. Great job, Peter. Way to stand firm on both science and Scripture; I enjoy your sound reasoning. Unlike certain others on here, you do not allow your emotions to overrun your reason.

  • Pingback: It Always Comes Back to “The Gays” « theophiliacs

  • Glen

    Peter, are you aware that the term “post-gay” is already a well-known one in queer studies and in contemporary philosophies of sexuality?  Also in certain kinds of experimental science fiction, like in works by Ursula le Guin.

    In this context it means something very different to the way you seem to be using it.  What it means is that sexual orientation is no longer seen as important to psychological self-definition, because the equality and legitimacy of same-sex and opposite-sex intimacies, physical and emotional, have become so taken for granted that sexual orientation is not even worth noticing anymore.

    The key point is here is that until you let go of heterosexism (not just homophobia), you can try as hard as you like to be “post-gay” but you won’t succeed.  Let’s say, for example, same-sex attraction is a temptation to sin, whereas an opposite-sex attraction is not a temptation to sin when it occurs in the context of heterosexual marriage.  From this it follows there is no way same-sex desire can be equally valuable to a human being as opposite-sex desire.  Let’s be real here: one can be channeled into God’s form of expression, while the other cannot; one may help you fulfil God’s will, the other will never do so, at least not in the same straightforward way.

    Now let’s draw on another useful concept from Aristotle, who said character is desire.  Know a person’s desires, claims Aristotle, and you know his/her character.  It is not possible to devalue a desire associated with a class of people without also devaluing their character in relation to another class of people with “better” desires.  You are left with two kinds of people in the world, those with substantual temptation to a particular kind of sin, and those without: in other words a world where straight is better than the alternatives.

    Thus, however hard you may try to not notice sexual orientation, the reality of diverse patterns of sexual desire in the world–patterns noticed as far back as Plato in his Symposium–will pull your attention back to it.  Sorry, but you are not “post-gay” in the slightest.  To the extent it’s important to you to react differently to same-sex and opposite-sex attractions, you are in fact deeply, fundamentally, unavoidably focused on gayness vs. straightness.  You are right in the middle of the thing you want to move beyond!

    I could yack away for hours about the interesting academic research focusing on sexual identity and how it’s constructed.  You might want to look at John Boswell’s Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, which argues that until the twelfth century the Christian tradition was indeed “pre-gay”, as you claim, but not in the sense you seem to imagine: in fact the early church was unbothered by same-sex intimacies, physical or otherwise, and even sanctified same-sex, marriage-like unions.  To them, this wasn’t in any way important to the Christian message.  I assume you are also familiar with the large and (to me) overwhelming persuasive body of Biblical scholarship suggesting the condemnations of “homosexuality” are generally no such things.  I wouldn’t exactly call Biblical sexual morality “post-gay”–“pre-modern” is more like it–but I actually think it’s closer to my definition of post-gay, where the sex/gender of one’s partner is ethically irrelevant–than it is to your idea that we should all be moving “beyond” same-sex attractions.  I don’t think Jesus cared about moving beyond same-sex attractions a single iota!

    In the meantime, how about picking a term that more accurately describes your philosophical position, like “anti-gay”?

    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

      Hi Glen,

      I do understand the alternative usage of “post-gay” in some aspects of the academic debate. However, 99% of the readers of this blog don’t, and I believe that it is a suitable expression for helping them understand where I (and many others) are at.

      I tell you what. If you can convince the whole of the USA to call football “football” and not “soccer”, I’ll stop using post-gay in the sense that a small academic fringe use it. Have we got a deal?

      :-)

      • Glen

        Hey, I’m South African, and so as far as I’m concerned the correct term is “soccer.”   Ask any Kaizer Chief, Bafana Bafana, or Orlando Pirate.  ;-)

        Let’s see: I present you with a detailed argument for why your use of the term “post-gay” is misleading and inaccurate.  I wasn’t trying to pull authority and say academics have the right to define this term.  I was trying to explain why this term is in fact false and misleading.  You respond by refusing to address the substance of the argument, and dismissing my view as that of a “fringe group”?

        In my high school debate class the teacher would have deducted points for an “ad hominem attack,” where you dismiss or insult the person making the logical argument rather than actually address the arguments!

      • Glen

        P.S.  On second thoughts, Peter, I’m not sure we really need to be debating this–my above comment about “ad hominem” arguments notwithstanding.  (Maybe I should have rather used a metaphor  from soccer, er, football? And talked about yellow-carding ;-)).  Really, probably both you and I are strongly invested in each becoming “post-gay” in our own ways, and maybe it’s unfair of me to try to persuade you that my understanding of the term is more accurate and helpful, while yours is futile and contradictory (even though I actually believe this, and worry about young lives you could be damaging with these notions grounded ultimately in self-hatred).  As a parting statement, though, I genuinely would like your readers to understand that can be real joy, peace, love, and happiness in becoming “post-gay” in the way I describe.  I can fully humanize myself, because I can accept my romantic and physical attractions just the way a straight person would.  Just like a straight person, my romantic and physical attractions can be a doorway to joy, intimacy, and companionship, something I am privileged enough to experience right now with a special guy.  I can leave behind internal struggles and pain: I have really become tremendously at peace with myself.  Deep in my heart I feel nestled in the love of God and the love of humanity.  And yes, for the most part my life is “post-gay.”  Because I happily accept myself, including my sexual desires, almost everyone I meet happily accepts me and my relationships.  They do so instinctively, because my joy is palpable.  My gayness therefore becomes irrelevant to almost everyone.  I wish to leave your readers with the following quote from Robert Louis Stevenson: “There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world…  A happy man or woman is a better thing to find than a five pound note.  He or she is a radiating focus of goodwill, and their entrance into a room is as though another candle had been lighted.”  Maybe your readers be such candles in the world, Peter.

        • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

          Glen,

          I’m not engaging in ad-hominem. I perfectly understand that there is another use of the phrase “post-gay” and I have read some of the literature around that. I can think of plenty of leading GLB people in this country (UK) who are in that definition very definitely “postgay”, for example Iain Dale the political blogger and Conservative activist.

          However, most of the people who read this blog, even those who are GLB won’t have ever engaged with that specific discussion about post-modern identity. Equally, large numbers of my GLB friends or readers of this blog don’t even know or care about the basics of Queer theory – names like Foucalt or de Lauretis are just not in their vocabulary. In that context, appropriating the term “postgay” isn’t in the slightest bit problematic because for a huge number of my readership there is no alternative understanding of the expression. In the context of those who engage here, and more importantly a large proportion of those in this country at least who identify as GLB in some way, these theorist *are* a fringe group. That’s not ad hominem. I’m not dismissing their arguments on the basis of an attack on their person, I’m simply pointing out that the “postgay” discourse of the 90s is for many people utterly peripheral to their day to day lives.

  • Pingback: The Problem with Post-Gay « Peterson Toscano’s A Musing

  • http://thebarbwire.blogspot.com/ Rob R

    This blog post was brilliantly insightful. Thank you.

  • Carolyn

    Peter – I just wanted to comment on a statement you made earlier:

    You can continue to insist that the New Testament writers didn’t understand homosexuality, but such a view is an utterly destructive view of Scripture, for the New Testament writers were inspired by God. When you claim that Paul was ignorant what you are actually claiming is that we have a completely stupid and incompetent God who wasn’t capable of looking forward 2000 years in the future when modern enlightened people would finally have “worked it out” as regards sexuality.

    If this is the case, how do you reconcile this statement with the fact that Paul clearly does not in any way condemn slavery. In fact, he (repeatedly) tells slaves to obey their masters.

    He also does not tell Masters to free their slaves – there is no indication in either the OT or NT that slavery is fundamentally unacceptable to God.

    So – do we have a ‘stupid and incompetent God’? Or do we have a God who was speaking through people in a give cultural context, addressing that given cultural context in ways that were relevant to the people at the time?

    God isn’t ‘stupid and incompetent’ at all. He gives us the over-arching principle by which to order our lives and make decisions about the proper course of action in our own cultural context (which obviously differs from that of the 1st century!):

    Romans 13: 9-10
    The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”Love does no harm to its neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.

    Love does no harm to its neighbour. That’s a pretty clear – and radically divine! – understanding of the new law Jesus established.

    We can see in this new law that slavery is completely and utterly incompatible with God’s love and ‘doing no harm’ (while at the same time understanding that Paul could in no way start advocating the overthrow of slavery without bringing down the wrath of the Roman empire on the fledgling religion).

    In the same way, we can see that God’s new law is also incompatible with the marginalisation and exclusion of gay and lesbian individuals – with refusing them the family and sense of belonging that heterosexuals are encouraged to find. While at the same time understanding that the homosexuality Paul knew about in his day (based on pederasty, abuses of power and always with a wronged wife in the background) was also incompatible with God’s law of love – so of course it was condemned.

    But what Paul (and God) clearly condemn in the Bible has no relationship at all with committed, loving, supportive homosexual relationships.

    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

      I think you’ll find that Paul is very much for freeing slaves – Philemon 12-18 might give you a little clue towards that. In fact, you’ll find that whenever Paul addresses Christian owners of slaves, he takes a similar view. Of course, that doesn’t stop him telling all of us to live in humility, and that includes slaves whose masters have no intention of freeing them.

      • Carolyn

        That’s reaching. On the basis of that passage, Paul appears to prefer that ownership be transfered from Philemon’s owner to Paul. Nothing about freeing slaves or slavery being bad there.

        Paul always (in keeping with Jesus’ commands to love others) admonishes slave owners to treat their slaves kindly.

        But even with Christian slave owners, he doesn’t ever suggest that they actually free their slaves (which one would expect, if God was inspiring Paul in such a way that Paul’s words could be read literally, and without reference to cultural context/cultural knowledge by every succeeding generation).

        Slave owners in the American South used verses dealing with slavery from the Bible to support their position.

        It was the abolitionists (surprise, surprise) who argued from the governing principle of God’s love.

        • William

          I think that we also need to face the fact that for centuries the Church declined to declare that slavery was evil, so obviously the Bible can’t be too clear on the matter.

          St Augustine wrote that the state of slavery was justly imposed on sinners as a penalty for their own benefit.

          St Thomas Aquinas acknowledged that slavery was contrary to the first intention of nature in the state of original innocence, but said that it was in conformity with the second intention of nature corrupted by sin.

          Catholics who wrote suggesting that slavery was intrinsically wrong usually saw their writings placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, and it was not until 1965 that the Roman Catholic Church at Vatican II officially condemned slavery.

          During those centuries Protestants who regarded slavery as a legitimate institution declared that the Bible supported them. Needless to say, they cited St Paul’s epistles and St Peter’s first epistle in justification of their position. The Protestants who opposed slavery were regarded as the innovators.

          It was in 1995 that the Southern Baptist Convention formally apologised for its support of slavery, and it was in 2006 that the Church of England formally apologised for the part that it had played in the slave trade.

          • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

            I think there’s another reason William:

            The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world?

            Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend it-self against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.
            Kierkegaard, “Provocations”

            • Sue

              But if slaves and slaveowners had taken the words, “slaves obey your masters” and said , “the matter is simple, the bible is very easy to understand…take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly” – then – er- we would still have slavery..

              Peter , forgive me, but how is your above post in any way a rational or reasoned response to the points raised by Carolyn or William?

            • Sue

              …and in fact, the above post is actually an attempt to avoid answering and engaging with the issues in your own right. As I’ve suggested above, it could as easily be used to support slavery as it could to condemn same sex unions, so, when applied to the specific issies discussed, it gets us no further.

              Peter, why can’t you admit that, when it comes to the issues of divorce and slavery, you are prepared to interpret scripture in context and in the light of ideas about what is just and compassionate. When it comes to homosexual relationships, you apply a very narrow interpretation and insist it is the only valid one?

              • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

                Not at all.

                I’m not proposing that we create an entire theology of slavery based around one verse in Ephesians 5 (and neither am I proposing the same for 1 Corinthians 6 for sexuality). It’s more than abundantly clear that in Philemon, Paul tells Philemon in no uncertain terms that he should treat Onesimus as a free man. You can’t read it that way and then read Eph 5 as a argument for slavery – that would be contradictory. You can however read Eph 5 as an argument in favour of being Christlike in your position of servitude, and that then harmonises with Philemon.

                The same goes with my approach to same-sex activity. I read all the Bible passages that address it and I come to a considered theology that doesn’t abuse any of them (unlike the revisionist perspective which has to either ignore passages or introduce extra-Biblical material to support its corner).

                • Sue

                  Well, I’m suggesting that we should not create an entire theology of condemnation of committed, loving same sex relationships when there is not one verse of scripture that condemns homosexual activity as an expression of such loving commitment.

                  By the way, the verse in Ephesians may only be “one verse” but, if you take scripture as seriously as you claim to, then surely one verse should be as binding as two, or thre or four?

                  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

                    Come on Sue, there is not one single Bible verse that even condones the kind of same-sex relationship you are advocating. Every single time the Bible addresses the issue of same-sex activity it does so in the negative.

                    But just to show how silly your argument is, there are equally no Bible verses that condemn loving paedophilic relationships. Are you seriously suggesting that since the Scriptures do not explicitly condemn them they are therefore valid?

                    Your second point seems to have missed what I have written. I laid out that a coherent Biblical theology takes into account the entirety of the Scriptural witness on a particular topic and then interprets them all in a manner that doesn’t do abuse to any of them.

                    • Sue

                      I would argue that St Paul did not have the concept of a true homosexual but only of a heterosexual who engages in an act of deliberate perversion. As for sexual acts between an adult and child, these are not “loving” but abusive, can never, by definition constitute a life long commitment and are not an equitable “relationship” as one party, even if they seem compliant, is not in a position to understand what they are entering in to.

                      I am sure those who defended the practice of slavery using the bible also believed they had a “coherent Biblical theology.” We all bring to our interpretation of scripture our own perspectives, beliefs, knowledge and prejudices and interpret it in the light of these.

                    • Brandon

                      Romans 1 is not irrelevant to this issue. Paul says they were “given” to “unnatural desires.” Before any objections are made against it, unnatural is not referring to orientation. It is referring to the natural order of creation. So, yes, it is as unnatural for a gay-oriented man to sleep with a man as it is for a heterosexual man to sleep with a man, consensual or otherwise. So why do you think having a concept of a “true homosexual” would change St. Paul’s stance? I think he did, as we look into Romans 1, but even if he did not it would not change the commandments God revealed concerning the issue. If that were the case, I would take your position, but I do not. What seems to be consistent in these arguments is that people are making Scripture solely a human enterprise. “If St. Paul just knew such and such…” but what about the Holy Spirit who spoke through the prophets? Did the same Spirit not speak through St. Paul? Did Christ not appear to Paul on the road to Damascus and make Paul his Apostle to the Gentiles? Instead of struggling with the Scriptures there is a “de-pneumatizing” of the Bible. I could see why an atheist or an adherent to another religion would do that, but I do not see how professing Christians could do that and still be Christian in any meaningful sense of the word. It is a deconstruction and redefining of the word. It may be the same in name, but it is clearly not the same thing.

                      Mormons and Jehovas Witness also think they have the correct understanding of the Bible. Here’s the thing; they’re wrong. How dare I say that, right? Well, here’s the thing. Yes there will always be some level of subjectivity when an individual interprets the Scriptures. What orthodox Christianity has, that cults, heresies, and progressives/liberals don’t, are the aligning of thorough exegesis, which does not mean picking and choosing, and thousands of years of tradition reaching back before Christ to the Israelites. If you want to say the Bible is not clear on slavery I understand because it is a pretty complex exegetical issue. To say the Bible is not clear on the issue of sexuality is just not tenable. Objections tend not to arise from lack of clarity, but by putting some other personal preference or emotional experience as more authoritative than Scripture. The word “canon” means “measure”. It is how we are supposed to measure doctrine and what is necessary for salvation and a holy life. The word is rendered useless as we measure what should be the measuring stick.

                    • Blair

                      But Peter, every time the Bible addresses the issue of lending money at interest it does so in the negative, to my knowledge… so this isn’t a knockdown argument and leaves the question of how to interpret the texts now…

                      in friendship, Blair

                    • Mark

                      ‘there are equally no Bible verses that condemn loving paedophilic relationships.’

                      Which would undermine your presupposition that Scripture is an accurate reflection of the eternal will of the Father for all of human time? Surely no God would willingly allow one human being to exercise their sex-drive on another? I’m sorry if I’m being sarcastic – it’s late – but I assume you’ll agree that heterosexual power politics was, in much of the Old Testament radically unbalanced. I’m hugely frustrated that someone who can obviously square up to queer theory, biblical criticism and some hermeneutics can just refuse to see the implications of taking all three of them together. This, despite your admirable and continually courteous tone, and your claim to speak to the wider and less well read public, is disappointing.

                      I don’t want to undermine your decision to engage in a permanent, faithful and sacramental relationship with another human being but why are you determined to do this to me and to others? Indeed do more; contributing to an atmosphere of pseudo-sophisticated prejudice which results in physical, mental (and critically) spiritual harm to huge numbers of people.

                      The Spirit is to lead us into all truth; scary but true, just as scary and true today as it was for the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, in the Upper Room, etc. We as Christians are not called upon to rationalise the whole of Scripture (Jesus simply reminds us he’s not abolishing the Law); we are called upon to witness to the life, teaching and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

                      So, either we do so in a way which remains authentic to the original understanding of the Church (depending on whether we are Jews or Greeks) or we can move to do so in a way which takes account of the Spirit leading us into all truth. This will involve moving out of sterile 19th century taxonomies.

                      What perpetually mystifies me and (in my view) causes the Angels to weep is the way in which evangelism (the good news) is constantly presented as a story which requires the entry of the hearer not into the mind of God but to the minds of men and their world. Simply put, sex post-Freud is no longer what it was. Now lets get on with talking about giving thanks for this, and being witnesses of the Resurrection in the bodies we inhabit not the attitudes we imagine inhabited the minds of the original disciples.

          • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

            St Augustine wrote that the state of slavery was justly imposed on sinners as a penalty for their own benefit.

            That’s a very warped view of what Augustine actually wrote (can you even quote chapter and verse in City of God for that?). Augustine’s position is that slavery is immoral, however it exists because human beings are sinful and therefore believe that they can own another human being. Only when this fundamental point is accepted (that slavery is ultimately sinful) does Augustine then move on to argue that God uses this sinful act of man for his own purposes, but this itself works within Augustine’s larger framework of the absolute sovereignty of God in all things.

            There is an examination of the nature of “Christian slavery” in Augustine here, and it’s well worth a read.

            • William

              “The prime cause, then, of slavery is sin, which brings man under the dominion of his fellow – that which does not happen save by the judgment of God, with whom is no unrighteousness, and who knows how to award fit punishments to every variety of offence.”
              ST AUGUSTINE, The City of God, 19:15

              But never mind whose understanding of St Augustine is the correct one; the fact remains that the Church declined for centuries to condemn slavery and was less than tolerant towards those who did condemn it.

              As for the Bible really being quite easy to understand, what need then for the Augsburg Confession, the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dordt, the Westminster Confession or the Thirty-nine Articles?

              “It has happened that all the answers which I have seen to the former part of “The Age of Reason” have been written by priests; and these pious men, like their predecessors, contend and wrangle and understand the Bible; each understands it differently, but each understands it best; and they have agreed in nothing but in telling their readers that Thomas Paine understands it not.”
              THOMAS PAINE, The Age of Reason, Part Second (1795)

              • Brandon

                For all the differences denominations and traditions might have, they have more in common than in discord. If the Bible is so hard to understand, why do they agree on so much? Like the issue of sexuality? Ironically enough, Liberal theology is what of the driving forces for Ecumenism among the varying denominations. They all disagreed on this, that or the other, but they by and large have put away such squabbling to resist the theological threat of liberal theology. Calvinism vs. Arminianism does not seem like such a big deal when you have people saying things like “The Word of God is [only] a man written book” that the Bible is “not inspired” that Jesus may “not be the Son of God or have risen from the dead” that traditional, biblical morality is “outdated” or “mistaken,” or that “Jesus Christ is not the only way to God.”

                Last point, Thomas Paine identified as not being a Christian, largely due to his views on the Bible and the Christian tenants. Here’s the thing, he accepted that he did not accept the Christian faith. I find that sad, but I would prefer that than for someone to reject fundamental tenants of the Christian faith, like the ultimate authority of Scripture on issues of faith, yet still claim and identify to be such. Of course I don’t expect a secular deist to have a high view of Scripture, but I suppose I am naive enough to think that a “Christian” would. Either the Bible is inspired and true, or its not and Christianity as historically defined is a lie. That’s Like a “Thomist” who disagrees with half the Summa Theologica. Agreeing with a few things Aquinas said does not make somebody a Thomist.

          • Brandon

            A good book for this is Is God a Moral Monster by Paul Copan. There is a chapter or more dedicated to the semantics and difference of slavery in antiquity to our modern conception. The objection “slavery is slavery” tends to be uninformed.

            If you look at the greater context of what Saint Augustine was saying, he in essence said that slavery was a just punishment on mankind as we were then inventors of it. Notice that Augustine acknowledges that slavery is wicked. Augustine is saying that slavery is the result of sin and is not in line with what God has planned. Moreover, Augustine is speaking about mankind collectively. This does not mean he endorses faithful of the Church owning slaves. Here is Augustine from your same quote;

            The apostle therefore admonishes servants to be obedient to their masters, and to serve them loyally and with a good will, so that, if they cannot be freed by their masters, they can at least make their own slavery to some extent free [cf. Eph 6:5]. They can do this not by serving with cunning fear, but in faithful love, until all unrighteousness shall cease, and all authority and power be put down, that God may be all in all – See more at: http://percaritatem.com/2009/02/04/augustine-and-scotus-on-slavery/#sthash.g9thmJXe.dpuf

            The snippet you gave from Thomas Aquinas makes perfect sense and in no way endorses slavery. To say it is in conformity with fallen nature just means that it is in conformity to a sinful world. Sin=wrong.

            In regards to American Protestants, you are right. Protestants who opposed slavery were regarded as the innovators…by Protestants who supported it. The Protestants who opposed slavery did not consider themselves innovators at all. The Protestants who opposed slavery used the Bible just as much as those who supported it did. Furthermore, American slavery violated a lot of the slavery laws in the O. T. Slavery has always fallen short of God’s ideal on principle alone, but the slavery of biblical times was a far cry from what America had going on. There were actually laws in the Torah that protected slaves. Slavery in the O. T. was also not forced, it was chosen and was temporal the majority of the time. The slavery of the O. T. was much closer to indentured servitude and adoption than it was slavery as we think of it today. I digress, if you are interested, go look into the book I recommended earlier.

            Ultimately, this in no way helps the “progressive” position on this issue. There was no slavery at creation. Eve was not cursed to submit to her husband until after the fall. Creation showed us how things are supposed to be. These things are all the result of sin. Likewise, marital/sexual union was intended to be between male and female.A man should leave his family and cleave to his wife. People did not commit same sex acts until after the fall. Therefore, you have an exact reversal of what you get with issues like slavery.

            Though the Bible does not as explicit in its condemnation of slavery as we would like it to be, it certainly does not *condone* it. So I sympathize with the desire to have a more explicitly, blatant condemnation of slavery in Scripture, but it does not condone it. Please remember the semantic issue with the term when discussing the Bible. The Bible does, on the other hand, explicitly condemn a person lying with another of the same sex.

            Those churches apologized as a collective whole, but not each and every individual member was pro-slavery. It was good that they apologized though. This fact is irrelevant to what the Bible says about slavery. People have and can argue that the Bible is not clear on the issue of slavery (in large part due to the semantic issues) but it is VERY clear on how “slaves” are to be treated. If people were actually paying attention to what the Bible had to say about slavery, they would have to set their slaves free every seven years. Slavery would have to be chosen, not forced upon a person (that was a crime according to Mosaic Law). If a master injured a slave, he would have to compensate the slave or let them go free depending. A person could be put to death for murdering their slave. Clearly none of these laws were followed, so how concerned were they about what Scripture actually had to say about the issue? At the end of the day, people will try to twist Scripture to fit their agenda, not unlike the issue which we are actually discussing. I realize my last sentence may seem uncharitable, but it is frank and honest.

  • Timothy Cronin

    Peter,

    Why can’t you love God enough to love yourself the way He made you?

    Holy matrimony is a recognition that the physical act of love between two people should be sacred; a sacrament. God made some of us to love members of our own sex. For a man whose entire God-given desire is for another man to enter into marriage with a woman is a perversion of nature and nature’s God. I don’t know if one could stop short of regarding such a union as a sinful rejection of God’s will; caring more about the clamor of The World and what The World is selling us, than about the call of God to live and love as he intends us to.

    It is never too late to find one’s way back to Christ’s love.

    -Tim

    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

      Tim,

      You wrote “Holy matrimony is a recognition that the physical act of love between two people should be sacred; a sacrament. God made some of us to love members of our own sex.

      I’m afraid I simply disagree. The Bible shows very clearly that I wasn’t created to be sexually active with another man and that rather, I was created to love a woman. I decided to believe that was true and in doing so I discovered that God was faithful to his Word.

    • Sue

      Hi Tim,
      I’m going to play “devil’s advocate” here ( probably not the most tactful term though…) and stick up for Peter and his marriage. I do agree that it is most inadvisable for a man who is wholly same sex attracted to enter into a marriage. However, I understand things are more complex in Peter’s case, that he fell in love with and found himself attracted to his wife at a sufficient level for him to feel he could marry ( hope I have that right.)

      No one should have to hear their marriage , to someone that they do after all love very deeply (and with whom they are bringing up a child) , described as , ” a perversion of nature” or ” a sinful rejection of God’s will.”

      • Timothy Cronin

        I am using that common argument, often used by neo-Platonist, the Catholic Church and other diverse fans of Saint Thomas Aquinas, “The Law of Nature”, which states that anything which stands opposed to nature, as created by a purposeful God, is sinful. This traditional argument has been used throughout history to condemn homosexual acts as being against God’s plan for human procreation. If one begins to regards homosexuality not as another’s “normal” sexuality perverted, or turned to sin, or diseased… but rather as one’s own healthy and appropriate nature… the embracing of an “un-natural” sexuality SHOULD be regarded as a willing rejection of The Law of Nature and God’s will FOR THAT INDIVIDUAL.

        I understand Sue’s compassionate concern that Peter’s marriage should not be regarded as “sinful” or a “perversion of nature”, especially as he and his wife are raising a child. My concern also extends to gay men and lesbians who have been told by the Pope and Christianity that their sexuality is “…a more or less strong tendency ordered towards an inherent moral evil”; that gay men and women are “objectively disordered” that gay marriage is “a new ideology of evil”; and that gay parents “do violence” to their children by their very existence. Perhaps I am more of a Thomist than even Ol’ Eggs Bennedict himself. Let us tolderol for Nature, and Nature’s God, embracing the sexuality which He, in his unknowable wisdom, has seen fit to bless us.

        As a gay man, I love and cherish a great many women in my life. They are wonderful friends, mentors… enrichers of my life. I never felt, however, any compulsion to disregard God’s will while ruining my life and theirs by a proposal of marriage.

        -Tim

        • Sue

          Hi Tim,

          My concern also extends to gay men and women whose relationships are described as “perverted” or “objectively disordered.” I am appalled that gay parents are told they “do violence to their children” by their very existence. It is prejudiced,disrespectful and unchristian. However, people in mixed orientation marriages also face great prejudice and disrespectful blanket assumptions.

          • Timothy Cronin

            Dear Sue,

            With the advent of gay liberation, and the freedom to enter into loving relationships with the person to whom one is also sexually attracted, the idea of a gay man or lesbian woman marrying a member of the opposite sex to secure the approbation of society, goverment, church, the law courts, family, and Big Ol’ God should be behind us. There have been mixed orientation marriages for as long as homosexuality was been regarded as a sin, perversion, or crime. As one begins to understand that God loves us as he created us and has a plan for us to be happy, we should seek that happiness which was intended for us personally. We are blessed, in many places today, to live in an age where gay men and women are no longer regarded as sick or sinful. I don’t understand the mindset of folks who want to make the box as small and confining as possible. The “word of God” argument is not based on logic or common sense, much less human reason. When the findings of Western Humanism, Philosophy, Psychology, and my own God-given reason stand squared off against the “Good News” of the Bronze-Age bi-polar Jewish sky-god… I’ll follow Reason.

            “Technology versus Religion? Oh, Technology definitely… Given a choice between air-conditioning and the Pope… I’ll take air-conditioning.”
            -Woody Allen

            • Timothy Cronin
            • http://trinidadsdagay.blogspot.com Trinidad. Adventist.Gay?!

              When the findings of Western Humanism, Philosophy, Psychology, and my own God-given reason stand squared off against the “Good News” of the Bronze-Age bi-polar Jewish sky-god… I’ll follow Reason.
              ———————————

              This has surely served us well in the 18th, 19th and 20th Century no?

              The Soviet Union was a “reason-based” society and look at what it spawned all over the world (although it appears nobody likes to talk about it because it is embarrassing to the cause of secularists).

              All this “reason” and we still have the same human problems to deal with…

              • Timothy Cronin

                The former Soviet Union was “reason based.”?

                Surely Communism is an ideology, and the Soviet Union the very embodiment of rule by idealogues. The dictates of the Supreme Soviet were as absolute and demanded, ‘faith based’ acceptance as surely as any Pope speaking ex-cathedra, or any fundamentalist Christian speaking of the dictates of “the word of God”.

                Someone, I forget who, once said: “Christianity is the chief heresy of Judiaism, just as Communism is the chief heresy of Christianity.” I believe even C.S. Lewis once remarked, that reading the “word of God” one would come away one moment feeling that Jesus was a conservative monarchist, while at other times a raving Socialist; or something to that effect.

                Prof. Colin Rowe, the briliant theorist and writer, although also an architect, once said in my presence: “The chief monument to the Eighteenth Century and the Age of Reason is… The United States and its Constitution.” If you’d like to see a goverment based as closely on the dictates of Reason look to the work of Jefferson, Adam, Monroe, Madison… good secularists, one and all.

                -Tim

  • Sue

    Hi Tim,

    I agree that gay people entering into heterosexual union for any reasons should be “behind us”. If anyone told me they were gay , or post gay/ ex gay and about to marry, I’d do my utmost to disuade them on all sorts of grounds, not least the potential harm they were likely to inflict on spouse and possible offspring.

    However, there are people who married when attitudes were less enlightened and who did so under pressure from a conservative or evangelical mindset or who were persuaded they were “healed” ( no – I don’t think homosexuality is an affliction to be healed from…) I do support the right of these people to honour their marriage vows without prejudice from others, if that is their wish. I also support their right to leave those marriages if they feel that is the right thing.

    The situation is also more complex. Some people feel no sexual or romantic attraction to someone of the opposite sex. For others their sexuality is more fluid. Some recent studies have suggested for example that for many women their sexuality is more fluid and that ( some) people may settle with a partner who is not their predominant gender preference ( say they are a 2 on the Kinsey scale – but meet and fall for a same sex partner because they fall in love with them or happen to have a strong sexual/ emotional chemistry with that particular person.)I have by the way met one woman in a same sex relationship who describes herself as “heterosexual” but “fell in love with” a woman. Also, what about political lesbians who choose a same sex relationship on feminist / ideological grounds although they may not be same sex attracted? OK – I think that is a bit weird, but then it’s not my life, is it?

    Some gay people genuinely believe same sex behaviour is out of the question due to religious convictions. If you like, they are “ideological heterosexuals”, although their ideology is religious, not feminist as in the case of political lesbians. I personally feel they are “brainwashed” – but then some people might argue that political lesbians are “brainwashed” by feminist ideology ( I did say i was playing devil’s advocate!)

    As to my own beliefs, I think it is so important to be true to who you are. I wish I could convince all gay people that a same sex relationship is holy in God’s sight, a natural thing for a gay person and a source of benefit to the individual and society. However, once someone with different convictions enters into an opposite sex relationship, I reserve / suspend judgement. I remember that the situation MAY be less “cut and dried” than it seems and above all, I wish them well.

    • H.S.

      Sue,

      Please can you give biblical authority for your statement 'a same sex relationship is holy in God's sight'. Please can you also provide evidence of how homosexuality is 'a source of benefit to the individual and society.'

      • sue

        I don't treat the bible as a book from which single texts have to be wrenched out to "prove" a point. I focus on the over arching principles and the spirit of the law, rather than the letter of the law. I have said before on here that I think Christ in the gospels tended to do the same. __I think the bible has nothing specific to say about committed loving same sex relationships, I don't think that was really part of the world view of those who wrote the bible, I do know though that we are taught the value of love and that this is a gift from God and a mark of God's holiness when we find it. A good quote for this would be 1 John 4: Whoever loves is a child of God and knows God

        • Sue

          ( cont)I did not say homosexuality is a benefit to society per se ( I said same sex relationships are.)However, I do think the ability to accept people in spite of difference and to see who they are not what they are , is a valuable lesson for all of us. I think gay people, as with anybody, are a gift from God in their humanity and individuality. I do think that committed same sex relationships are a source of benefit, just as stable heterosexual relationships are a benefit to society. I also think it is enormously beneficial to society if gay people are not forced into heterosexual marriages – often to the misery of the individual, their straight spouse and often their children.

          • Sue

            I know that, as a Christian, you will want to have the generosity to acknowledge that in my post above I say that I respect the right of those who hold a contrary opinion. If you look at my post I say that I know some people with same sex attractions have different convictions and that I am happy to respect "post gay" people who marry or those who say their orientation has changed or opt for celibacy.

  • Janyce

    I submit the following as merely food for thought, not to judge or condemn anyone.
    Just a thought, If we (created by God) are wiser than God than we may correct God. If the Word of God is to be challenged, stricken or modified who holds that authority? However please keep in mind that God is THE SAME yesterday today and tomorrow. we have not caused God to “elevate” due to creating “new” forms of sin, but quite the opposite. We have allowed sin to dictate to us what should and should not be tolerated by God. Thus, we are prideful and know no shame which comes before the fall. I am a sinner by nature but changed by grace and filled with the Holy Spirit and free to judge NO ONE. But I am instructed to meditate on His word day and night. Sexual immorality is not just inclusive of the gay community but instead for ANYONE partaking of sexual activity outside of marriage. Christ shed His blood to grant us the power of victory over sin and Christianity is the belief of this truth. If not so then we proclaim that what Christ has done is not only unnecessary but inadequate. My life is changed…not perfect but changed. HE IS ABLE!!!
    Love,
    Janyce (heterosexual without judgment)

    AND THE QUOTE IS Romans 1:18-32

    PS NOT MY WORDS SO DON’T BASH ME

    • http://stroppyrabbit.blogspot.com/ Yewtree

      Janyce wrote: Sexual immorality is not just inclusive of the gay community but instead for ANYONE partaking of sexual activity outside of marriage.

      So let LGBT people marry, and then they won’t be immoral…!

  • Pingback: Post-Ex-Gay « Disputed Mutability

  • http://stroppyrabbit.blogspot.com/ Yewtree

    I am bisexual, but it’s not my primary identity. I am also a woman, a web developer, a Unitarian, a Wiccan, a poet, a friend, a lover, and many other things.

    I agree with you that some people’s sexual preferences are fluid and can change over time, and that there is a spectrum of human sexuality from 100% gay to 100% straight. Many LGBT people would agree that the stereotypical “gay lifestyle” is a bit shallow – but that’s why they are building deeper and more meaningful alternatives.

    I don’t agree that the Bible commands only heterosexual (one man plus one woman) marriage. Some interpretations of the Bible conclude that that is the case; others do not. There’s a re-examination of the so-called “clobber passages” here: http://epistle.us/hbarticles/clobber1.html

    I am glad that you reject ex-gay ministries.

    I am concerned for the women who marry “ex-gay” & “post-gay” men (and for men who marry “ex-lesbians” and “post-lesbians”). I very much doubt that this will work in the majority of cases.

    As the Metropolitan Community Church points out, “The miracle is not whom we love – the miracle is that we love”. God is Love, therefore She wouldn’t reject her LGBT children.

    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

      Thanks for commenting Yew Tree.

      I’m not sure I reject ex-gay ministries, I’m just cautious as to claiming that reparative therapy and other approaches will necessarily always result in orientation change.

      As for the “Clobber Passages”, you might want to read an ongoing series I’m writing which begins here.

      • http://stroppyrabbit.blogspot.com/ Yewtree

        Thanks for your response Peter. We are coming from two very different places. I utterly rejected Christianity in my teens because I believed that the clobber passages condemned gay relationships, and because I was aware of several loving gay relationships and loving & altruistic gay individuals.

        I only became interested in Christianity again (and its messages of radical love & hospitality & transformation of the the social order) when I realised that the clobber passages did not in fact condemn gay relationships, and in any case there’s no need to view the Bible as the literal word of God. But I cannot accept penal substitution (vicarious atonement) theology, or the exclusivist doctrines that Christianity is the only path to the Divine. That’s why I’m a Unitarian.

        I had a quick look at your series on the clobber passages, and I agree with what Carolyn said.

  • http://twitter.com/willyp777 Willy

    Thanks Peter for sharing! Keep that light and fire burning!

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