Church and State

I’ve held off on blogging on some recent news stories partly because I’ve been far too busy the backend of last week and this weekend and partly because I’ve been reflecting on the strange coherence of seemingly disparate events of the last seven days or so. Looking back over reports since I last blogged properly (putting up some essays on sexuality), a number of stories that have clear similar patterns have emerged.

Cranmer blogged a few days ago about how the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster is now planning to take on the Government over its refusal to allow Roman Catholic Adoption Agencies to refuse to consider same-sex couples as prospective parents for the childern in its care:

Today, it is reported that he is to defy the Sexual Orientation Regulations, which is music to Cranmer’s ears and food for his soul. Having recently derided the Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales who have caved in on this, it is heartening that the spirit of Sir Thomas More lives on in the Cardinal. And this battle is a righteous one which will have the support of Anglican bishops and archbishops

Cranmer shall be praying for the case to come to the courts, and for this proud and arrogant anti-Christian Government to be humiliated. It must be remembered that the Sexual Orientation Regulations were forced and rushed through Parliament after a bitter Cabinet battle and in the face of fierce opposition from religious leaders. And it must also be observed that some prominent homosexuals also oppose this legislation, believing, as they do, that it transgresses the bounds of liberty and conscience.

The actions of Cardinal Murphy-O’Conner are commendable and indicate that for the Roman Catholic Church at least, they understand that Christian witness may involve considerable sacrifice. He recognises that we are reaching a point where legislation in this country from an increasingly ungodly Government will begin to impinge upon the freedom of Christians to practice what the Scriptures demand of them.

Take for example the case of Iris Robinson, the Democratic Unionist MP, who dared to simply repeat what the Bible clearly says in Leviticus, that homosexual acts are abominable. What has followed is a "witch hunt" because she challenged the accepted public orthodoxy that same-sex attraction is something you are born with and that it can’t change. Of course, I would beg to differ and the fact of the matter is that there is no evidence that shows that same-sex attraction is either exclusively genetic or biological or that it is always immutable.

Iris Robinson has said the following in response to criticism of her words:

"I am defending the word of God. I think at the moment there is a witch hunt to kerb or actually stop or prevent Christians speaking out and I make no apology for what I said because it’s the word of God. But at the same time I was very careful in saying that I have nothing against any homosexual. I love them; that is what the Lord tells me, to love the sinner and not the sin. And just as a murderer can be redeemed by the blood of Christ so can a homosexual."

Here at "An Exercise" we heartily agree, but we know that there are some, like the following politician, who disagree:

Sinn Fein’s Martina Anderson said the anti-gay comments called Mrs Robinsons’ position as chairman of the Assembly’s Health Committee into question.

"I think that such an outrageous comment from Mrs Robinson calls into question her suitability as chair of the Assembly health committee," she said.

This is the problem that is now facing Christians. If we continue to hold to our antiquated views, we will increasingly hear calls for us to be pushed to the margins of society. The so called liberality of modern society is anything but and almost any viewpoint is accepted in the name of pluralism apart from the Christian one. The government seems to have a view of faith that thinks its all about being nice and good and pleasant to your neighbour. Listen to Tony Blair’s speech launching his new faith foundation or Gordon Brown speaking to Scottish Presbyterians and you would think that the Golden Rule was the only thing that counted for Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Adherents of the Repeated Meme.

The truth is utterly different. Religious faith is not just about praxis but also about doctrinal belief. You cannot compartmentalise how you behave and why you choose to behave in a certain way, as though ethical practice had no source or foundation. Christianity, like all major world religions, has a basis of doctrine that cannot be compromised and societal changes will not in any way permit a variation in what is understood as truth.

This was the reason that so many of the early Christians went to their death, because they understood that the claim that "Jesus is Lord" was not worth compromising. However, that is the very claim that the Government is slowly beginning to wittle away at, for to claim that Jesus is Lord is to intrinsically demand that certain facts are objectively true, despite whatever society may think. Along with the claim that Jesus is Lord comes along a number of clear teachings from Scripture, including that on human sexuality.

A truly pluralistic society is one that permits a variety of opinion and healthy debate around conflicting viewpoints. However, we seem to be living in a society which, despite its claims of pluralism, is anything but, for when Christians simply express their viewpoint they are chastised and demonised. Despite the claims of the Home Secretary that we live in a "secular democracy", she forgets that the Church of England is still the State Church and that the official doctrine of the Church of England on matters of human sexuality is still, despite the loud shouting of the revisionists, that sex belongs inside marriage of a man and a woman and all other sexual activity is sinful and that sinners need to repent and find forgiveness and healing. So when an MP simply reiterates this viewpoint, what is the problem?

The problem ultimately of course is that the world hates Jesus. That’s why we have a government that pushes forward equality legislation as a natural justice issue, despite the complete lack of proof that those with same-sex attraction are born that way. The reason for this is clear – once you have rejected the author of truth himself, reality has no real relation to what you consider to be true. We live in a society that has rejected God and created its own truth to follow its own desires, and more than that will legislate vociferously to defend itself. The Roman Catholic Church may yet discover what damage the anti-Jesus zeitgeist will inflict upon those who stand in its way. How many of us are truly ready to stand with them?

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.

26 Comments on “Church and State

  1. How predictable it must be to see a comment from me here…!
    One of my thoughts on this is that it makes interesting reading in the light of that article on victim narratives that you linked to a while back, Peter. (May 17th, said the pedant from the corner…) It seems to me that it brings up some things that that article left out of account. Am not trying to demolish Andrew Lilico’s piece – there was a lot of truth in it, eg that “Victim narratives disempower” and “entrench failure”. But one of the things I suggest it didn’t cover, was that claiming victim status can also be a grab for power in a sense. Seems to me that’s visible in lots of places – perhaps a provocative example would be the ‘debates’ your post above refers to, as both ‘gay activists’ and ‘conservative believers’ (scuse the terms…) have claimed victim status at various times, as a ‘lever’ or clincher in debate. Iris Robinson does in a way – which looks a little incongruous given that she was commenting on a violent attack on a gay man. (And no, I’m not suggesting there’s the slightest justification for the vitriol aimed at her).
    Maybe I should also say I’m agreeing (really) with your essential argument here – that being Christian is about bearing witness, whatever the cost. (Where I’m disagreeing is about whether, in the examples you cite above, what’s being borne witness to is true, but no surprises…). I type that and wonder at myself a bit, since I’m a person of practically nil moral courage – my own glimpse of what being Christian means is a steep challenge to me.

    But I also wanted to link to some words of James Alison’s, as (as so often) I think he’s very illuminating. In his 2006 ‘Tablet’ lecture, he said this about baptism: “In this rite we agree to undergo death in advance so as to live thereafter with death behind us. It is an inverted religious rite since it is not the crowd which gathers to drown the victim, but the candidate, not frightened of becoming a victim, who walks through the waters of being drowned so as to emerge on the other side into the welcome of those who are already living with death behind them”. He refers to this again later, saying, “at the centre of our Faith we have agreed to be treated victimarily in advance, without ever seeking it, so as to be able slowly and patiently to work towards the truth and wellbeing of all our sisters and brothers with all that victim stuff already behind us”. Again, this is a steep challenge to me, something I’m slowly ‘growing into’. But I mention it because it seems to me it casts a light on any of our attempts to claim victim status as a watertight justification for ourselves in debate. And it seems to me it’s a challenge for Christians about how we engage with questions like the ones your post is about. JA also commented in that lecture: “Whenever we come across an apparent “other” and start to get frightened and retrench into identity politics, we are not becoming more Catholic, but much less Catholic. My sorrow at Archbishop Nichols’ recent sermon seeking to maintain a sacred right to discriminate against gay people was not because I am a gay man, but because I’m a Catholic. It is because I am a Catholic that I recognise that anyone playing identity politics with a victimary slant is functionally atheistic”.

    OK, that paragraph’s too quote-heavy and fat, but it seems to me the challenge to us is, can we bear witness without “playing identity politics with a victimary slant”? What does that look like? I have no full answers to those questions (please stifle any gasps of surprise :) ) but would suggest as a starting point, ‘yes (I hope so!)’ to the first and ‘penitent’ to the second…

    The web reference for JA’s text is, http://www.jamesalison.co.uk/texts/eng36.html by the way.

    in friendship, Blair

  2. Spot on Peter.  

    The government has shifted the focus from “All people are equal” to “All characteristics [that we approve of] are equal”.   

    The shift neatly gives the government the power to decide how equal you are - by choosing which characteristics should be “equal”.

    The result is that all people are not equal!

  3. True though some of Ms. Robinson’s words may have been, she said some other things that were in poor taste… not to mention that when she mentioned her psychiatrist who “helps homosexuals” she was referring to Paul Miller, a trainee of the severely discredited Richard Cohen.  Besides, didn’t this all start with a comment she made about a hate crime in Belfast?  Why did she mention orientation change at all?  I’m not really seeing how the two are connected, unless one wants to make the argument that changing your orientation is a good way to prevent a hate crime committed against your person.  That’s an argument I find unsettling.  Hat tip: Dr. Throckmorton.

    Also, even though Christians should view all sins as equal in terms of their eternal cost, certain sins do have more impact while we’re here.  Even in your own quote from her, Ms. Robinson compares homosexuals to murderers.  Perhaps she didn’t mean to sound that way, but it wasn’t a very well thought-out statement from her.  She could have said “fornicator” or “liar” or some other sin that is more on homosexuality’s material level.  As it stands, it really does sound like she thinks homosexuality and murder have the same moral weight in terms of society.

  4. ‘Christianity, like all major world religions, has a basis of doctrine that cannot be compromised and societal changes will not in any way permit a variation in what is understood as truth.’

    Peter, I am fascinated by this comment.

    Firstly, if you are right, Christians are now in a place that they have not been in before.  Certainly, with regard to ethics, Christanity has repeatedly compromised some of the basic views that it held to in the past in the light of societal changes.  Look at just the Church of England’s stance on abortion (in relation to early abortions), euthanasia, marriage, the role of women in the church etc – the Roman Catholic Church would argue that the Church of England has compromised basic doctrinal views in the light of societal changes on all of these matters.

    Secondly, your comments about other religions are very interesting.  I think both Hindus and Buddhists would not concur – both of these religions are very open to negate, subvert and question their core religious doctrines in the light of the context that they are in.  It is important not to generalise in this regard, and as a result draw false analogies.

    Pax, Mark.

  5. Hi again Peter,

    I have no problem with Mrs Robinson repeating what the Bible says in Leviticus, she has the freedom to believe that and repeat that should she choose. What has caused the stir is what preceeded that comment earlier in the interview. She said that all homosexuals should seek psychiatric treatment as a cure, something I do not find in the bible nor any psychiatric text book currently in use.

    Mrs Robinson is not a qualified psychiatrist, but she is chair of the Northern Irish Assembly’s Health Committee. The Royal Society of Psychiatrists have stated categorically that her stance regarding ‘cure’ is wrong and not recommended.

  6. I’ve followed this story with great interest.
    What it’s really about is the fact that here in the UK
    it’s taboo to speak out that change of sexual orientation
    is possible. Paul Miller the psychiatrist who works
    for Iris Robinson has spoken out boldly about this.
    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/39Homosexuals-can-change-but-only.4176496.jp
    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/Gay-row-doctor-defends-claims.4163211.jp
    Here’s the organisation that he founded last year to help men
    with sexual and gender issues.
    http://www.abeoonline.com/

    Sexual orientation change is not going to go away, and people who succeed
    in becoming heterosexual are not going to go away. They are going to
    continue to seek out treatment in the face of lies from the gay lobby,
    and I predict that within the next 30-50 years, orientation change will
    become acceptable again. It’s impossible to keep something good quiet
    for long. I also predict that the movement will increasingly join with
    the men’s movement and the fathers’ rights movement and start issuing
    a serious challenge to the widespread avoidance of men’s problems
    in British society.

  7. Hello again all,

    a ragbag of things…

    First, PinkNews gives a transcript of part of Iris Robinson’s radio interview:

    “The portion of Mrs Robinson’s radio interview that was reported to the police as a hate crime was the following:
    Stephen Nolan: Do you think for example that homosexuality is disgusting?
    Iris Robinson: Absolutely
    Stephen Nolan: Do you think that homosexuality should be loathed?
    Iris Robinson: Absolutely
    Stephen Nolan: Do you think it is right for people to have a physical disgust towards homosexuality?
    Iris Robinson: Absolutely
    Stephen Nolan: Does it make you nauseous?
    Iris Robinson: Yes
    Stephen Nolan: Do you think that it is something that is shamefully wicked and vile?
    Iris Robinson: Yes, of course it is, it’s an abomination.”

    I may be misreading that, but am wondering if Mrs Robinson was naive here – looks to me a little like she was goaded by Stephen Nolan. But that and other quotes from her (eg, “Homosexuality is not natural. My Christian beliefs tell me that it is an abomination and that is very clear. It is an offence to God, an offensive act and something that God abhors”) show she was not simply repeating or quoting Leviticus. Arguably, the only word from Leviticus that Mrs Robinson used was ‘abomination’. To say, “And with a male you shall not lie the lyings of a woman: it is an abomination” (Lev 18:22 in Rabbi Steven Greenberg’s literal rendering) is not to say what Iris Robinson says above. Peter referred to “the official doctrine of the Church of England on matters of human sexuality” above, but another sad thing about Mrs Robinson’s words, was that she didn’t (as far as I’ve seen) put what she said in this context. (…can I have my medal for pedantry now? :) )

    CM, thanks for the link to Abeo – I had a look at their site. One of the interesting things there, was that there’s ambiguity in their position. As Jay said above Dr Miller was trained by Richard Cohen, and indeed suggests a book of Cohen’s for further reading. But the site also suggests Steve Biddulph’s book Manhood – I have a copy of this and while it makes little mention of homosexuality, Biddulph is by no means anti-gay and does not suggest or promote orientation change. Abeo’s sexuality and gender identity page has some interesting words too. For instance, “ABEO supports each individual’s right to self-determination and to how they choose to identify themselves. We believe that no person should be discriminated against simply because of his or her gender, age, race, faith or sexuality. Although some of these aspects of personhood are chosen, there is no excuse to discriminate or persecute because those aspects contain an element of conscious decision, compared to those that are immutable”. It goes on to say that, “Some individuals choose to identify themselves as ‘gay’ and we at ABEO support them in their right to do so and to be able to do so in the absence of persecution”. Nonetheless it also says, “We specialise in working with unwanted male SSA and offer sexual reorientation coaching and counselling” .
    But I think this bit’s most telling: “We will only work with individuals who wish to deal with unwanted SSA; who come of their own free-will, without coercion and we believe that gender affirming therapy should be offered in these cases. Individuals who are happy and contented to be gay and who wish to express their sexuality as a gay person have every right to gay affirmation therapies and to live as a gay-identified individual. ABEO believes that there should be equality in this therapeutic area with both options being available to people”. It seems to me this is an unstable position as it’s trying to hold contradictions together. If it is possible to ‘deal with unwanted SSA’ “and so move towards a fuller expression of masculinity and a heterosexual expression of that gender identity”, surely to offer “gay affirmation therapies” is to offer something second-rate, at best – given the implication that these cannot move a person toward “a fuller expression of masculinity”? Or, if it is possible to be “happy and contented to be gay”, why is it necessary to deal with “unwanted SSA” by ‘resolving’ it, rather than helping the person accept being gay? Seems to me that Abeo is buying into two ‘impossibilities’ – ‘it’s impossible to be gay and truly masculine’, ‘it’s impossible to be gay and Christian’ – yet giving a (token?) nod towards the possibility of flourishing as a gay person.

    …too long and a bit incoherent perhaps (me, not Abeo!).

    Only other thing is that it surprised me that you said this, Peter: “we have a government that pushes forward equality legislation as a natural justice issue, despite the complete lack of proof that those with same-sex attraction are born that way”. But surely ‘born that way’ should not be the sole criterion for what is not to be discriminated against? (…is that what you’re suggesting?) If it were, anti-discrimination legislation shouldn’t protect Christians, Muslims, or people with various conditions that come under the ‘disability’ heading. Have I misread you?

    in friendship, Blair

  8. Hi peeps,

    Sorry for the delay in replying – had a busy day yesterday putting another nail in Labour’s coffin…

    Let me handle Blair’s comments first. You’re absolutely right Blair that some of the things that Iris Robinson said are slightly naive. If I was being interviewed I wouldn’t have given the same answers she did. But the broad principle at stake is that the view she is expressing is shared by many people, though for some it is a very knee-jerk response to the issue.

    I would argue from Gen 1, Rom 1 and Eph 5 that homosexual practice *is* an offence to God. The doctrine of the CofE makes it very clear that sex outside marriage is sinful and if sin isn’t offensive to God then I think we’ve lost the plot slightly.

    I’m not sure I’m such a big fan of bigging up reparative therapy without a spiritual dimension. Ultimately sexual disorder is a spiritual issue and without a holistic approach to exploring and healing the roots of abherant sexual desire (of all kinds, not just same-sex attraction) we’re really only addressing half the problem. As for whether those who are comfortable with their same-sex attraction being allowed to pursue “gay-affirming” therapies, well so be it. I don’t think there’s any contradiction between wanting to offer what’s best for people and allowing them also to make their own choices.

    Your final point is interesting. Were the government and society to have argued the Andrew Sullivan approach to homosexuality (“I don’t know what caused this but I should be allowed to live how I choose”) then the case might be different. The reality is though that the justice case for gay rights has consistently been made on the basis that homosexual desire is “natural” in that it is a normal biological variant of humanity. That view has no strong scientific basis and rather is promoted more on a case of “if we say it loud enough people will believe it”. The very fact that some people like myself see significant change in their sexual attractions shows the fallacy of the argument.

    I need to pop out now, but I’ll try and address some of the other points later today.

  9. The more I read Ms. Robinson’s words about this issue, the more I think she’s just another person who is confusing their “knee-jerk” reaction for something holy.  It’s not the same thing, and you’ve heartily agreed with me on that before.  :-)

    I’ve often said that people with such a reaction should still be free to comment on these issues, but I do think they need to recognize that their reaction has less to do with conviction of sin and more to do with the “yuck factor.”

  10. Jay,

    Thanks for your comments above.

    You raise the interesting point (as is being highlighted on XGW) that Iris Robinson has compared homosexuality to murder. I think though that this is a clear example of not understanding language. When we talk of a murderer, we do not mean that to understand that the person who murdered somebody else is intrinsically evil and deserving of damnation. Rather we describe a murderer as someone who has actually murdered someone, so the description is of the activity of murder, not of an ontology of murder (if such a thing were possible). In the same way, I think what Iris Robinson clearly means by “homosexuality” is the action of same-sex activity, not necessarily the person themselves who experiences homosexual attraction. Of course, XGW have taken it to mean “the person who experiences homosexual attraction” despite the fact that the point has been made time and time again that this is not the argument being made.
    In this sense then Iris Robinson is theologically absolutely correct. There is redemption for those who sin, whether murder, homosexuality, theft, idolatory or any other choice and action that rejects God’s intent for us. One might argue that she needs to be a bit more clued up in her use of language, but at the same time those who criticise her for her words, but who know exactly what she is and isn’t saying but ignore the subtleties for a good headline, should examine whether they are interested in a proper debate.
    And then we have the whole discussion over whether simply to look at somebody with evil intent makes you a murderer. Some might suggest that was also true, in which case I am so stuffed when I die, unless someone could take the penalty for me.

  11.  Hi Peter and all,

    being incorrigibly argumentative, would just like to make three comments:

    Peter, I’m well aware that you “would argue from Gen 1, Rom 1 and Eph 5 that homosexual practice *is* an offence to God” – I wasn’t trying to argue with that in this instance, but just wanting to make the point that Iris Robinson has been said to be ‘simply repeating’ what the Bible says. It’s demonstrable from her words that she didn’t do this, nor did she put what she said in any context. Granted that what she said may well be a rather extreme end of a view “shared by many people”, but that in itself does not make it true. You said that “for some it is a very knee-jerk response to the issue” – it seems to me this is rather like when we were discussing a statement the Anglican church in Nigeria had released. Violent (and in this case hateful) language is used, and despite never remotely using or condoning such language yourself, you bend over backwards to defend those who do and seem very reluctant to criticise their language or attitudes. Your own blog (and others) show that it is perfectly possible to hold what one could call a conservative view on this issue, without being hateful or using ugly inflammatory language about gay people. I say this in part because I don’t understand why you defend statements like those Mrs Robinson has made when, as I say, a conservative view is defensible without inciting hatred. At the risk of being simply inflammatory myself, I wonder whether Mrs Robinson hasn’t actually made it more difficult for people who want to defend publicly a conservative viewpoint about homosexuality and Christianity – people who try this might end up being linked with her in people’s minds, however ‘cleanly’ they make their case (…or perhaps they might not, I admit).

    “As for whether those who are comfortable with their same-sex attraction being allowed to pursue “gay-affirming” therapies, well so be it. I don’t think there’s any contradiction between wanting to offer what’s best for people and allowing them also to make their own choices”. My last post went on a bit and wasn’t that clear i guess (um, no change there…) but the contradiction it seems to me is that Abeo seem to be saying both that being gay is, and is not, pathological or at least disordered, ‘sub-optimal’ (‘scuse that ugly phrase). I’m not arguing that people shouldn’t be allowed to make their own choices, but that Abeo aren’t being consisent with their own logic. If they were, it seems to me they could not recommend or accept that some people can pursue ‘gay-affirming therapies’. They say they “specialise in working with unwanted male SSA and offer sexual reorientation coaching and counselling” and that this can help move a person (man) towards “a fuller expression of masculinity and a heterosexual expression of that gender identity”. The implication is that ‘gay-affirming therapies’ don’t or can’t do this – so again, to be consistent with their own logic, surely Abeo would challenge people (men) who are “contented” to be gay and suggest that they are missing out on fullness of masculinity.

    On the last point, you say again that “The reality is though that the justice case for gay rights has consistently been made on the basis that homosexual desire is “natural” in that it is a normal biological variant of humanity”. I’m not sure if we’re talking past each other here a bit, or not! What do you mean by “a normal biological variant”? As I said above, if you mean ‘born that way’, that would suggest that anti-discrimination laws should not cover all sorts of conditions and beliefs, from religious people (if not Jews perhaps), to people with autism or those who become impaired later in life through injury etc. If you mean that the government grounds anti-discrimination laws in a view that gay people are ‘born that way’, I’m not sure that’s the case – or if it is, the government isn’t being consistent with its own logic, since in the case of (for instance) religious hatred laws, these clearly aren’t grounded in a view that people are ‘born’ Christian or whatever. At the risk of tedium, I think I’ve said before that this thing about the extent to which homosexuality is genetic (if this is what you mean here), is not very significant. A condition like cystic fibrosis is entirely due to genes, but nobody argues that CF in itself is ‘a good thing’. Equally, height and handedness are not entirely determined by genes (I’m told), but doubtless we’d agree that they are wholly benign. Finally, you say that “The very fact that some people like myself see significant change in their sexual attractions shows the fallacy of the argument”. But I’m not sure it does show that – indeed I think the question of what orientation change (or lack of) ‘shows’, is not yet answered fully. I’m not arguing against your story, but asking a question about the significance of change, about what it means.

    I fear this post shows I can’t count – more than 3 comments……

    in friendship, Blair

  12. I agree that the abeoonline.com website is a bit confusing. It seems as if they are arguing for a kind of ego-dystonic homosexual attraction which is related to unmet needs, while the happy homosexual is fine. Knowing the links he has on the page (JONAH, NARTH, IHF) however I do not think abeo really believe SSA is a-ok if you are happy with it. I think the real inner reparatist shines through with discussion of SSA steming from unmet needs.

    I think for UK post-gays, a question is: Do you want IHF, Mankind Project and Jonah to be the face of your movement?

  13. Peter,

    Thanks for your comments.  I knew exactly what Ms. Robinson was saying, though.  I knew she was talking about the act of murder and the act of homosexuality.  On a theological level, they are equally damnable (just as the acts of white lies or petty theft are).  But she’s not a theologian; she’s a public official.  So, when she says something like this, it sounds like she thinks that murder and homosexuality are equally as destructive to public society.  They aren’t.  Murder is a capital offense in many countries, whereas I don’t think laws should be anywhere near people’s bedrooms to start with.

    So if she’s going to talk theology, she’d best be clear that she means “murder” and “homosexual” in theological terms, not public ones.  Otherwise, how can you blame those who think she’s equating murder with illicit sex?  And if she is truly comparing those two acts on a public policy level, then she deserves to be criticized for it.

  14. I’m not rejecting them at all… I’m hoping that she wasn’t making them in the first place!  Like I said, I think she was a public official who was speaking in theological, not public, terms, and was thus confusing to the populace.  If she was speaking in public terms and was equating homosexual sex to murder, then I think rejecting that argument out of hand would be the only proper thing to do, because it would be a ridiculous one.  But like I said, I’m going to assume the first scenario is true.

  15. Hi Peter,

    Since I last posted I’ve spoken to my mother who is an Alpha Course leader, Boy Brigade officer, etc i her church.  So to be be a bit objective here is what she thought as she managed to hear the interview last Friday.

    Apparently even she didn’t like the tone with which Mrs Robinson said what she said, of course she fully backs the things expressed but agreed that the way they came out where way too over the top a response. She also said that as a reponse to her first off topic comments Nolan noticed an achilles heal and while he may have gone at it, she in her public profile shuld have been wary of it and not let him lead her to the conclusion that it did.

  16. Stephen,

    I totally agree that the tone and manner that Iris Robinson used didn’t help her case one little bit. That said, I’m sticking by the point of this thread that the Scriptural views Mrs Robinson cited are views that the powers that be increasingly are attempting to marginalise and legislate against.

  17. I realise the moment’s probably passed for this thread now, but just wanted to say I saw your comment on Warren Throckmorton’s blog on this topic Peter – if I’d read it sooner I might not have held forth at such length or in the way I did.
    in friendship, Blair

  18. Blair:

    I may be misreading that, but am wondering if Mrs Robinson was naive here – looks to me a little like she was goaded by Stephen Nolan.
    If I remember rightly, the context was that Nolan was asking her what she meant by “abomination,” and to do that he read out a dictionary definition of “abomination.” He was repeating back to her the dictionary definition (vile, wicked, nauseating etc) and asking her if she agreed with it, although out of its context it might look like he was randomly spinning off a list of offensive adjectives.

    Not exactly a class-A idea to go to a dictionary (which are often mistaken for prescriptions when they should be descriptions), but she could always just have said no. She didn’t hesitate to affirm every single aspect of the dictionary definition.

  19. Hi Dave,
    thanks for that – I only read the transcript, didn’t listen to the programme, though from what you’ve said it could still be seen as goading (perhaps)? Indeed Mrs Robinson could have said no, but I think that’s what I meant about naivete – letting herself be drawn into saying more. Though I think there’s also a question about why he had to ask her what she meant by ‘abomination’… but I realise that picking over details isn’t very important or helpful by this stage.
    in friendship, Blair

  20. Blair,
    abeo’s position is actually one that many members of other
    ex-gay organisations such as NARTH hold as well.
    My impression is that this is because they understand
    that people can only change if they want to (this of course
    is not to be naive and assume that change will necessarily
    happen simply because one wants it).
    This is why the term *unwanted * SSA is important.
    The position statement straddles the individual’s
    personal stance and their rights under the law.
    the position statement looks to me as affirming a person’s
    right under the law to choose whatever it is they think
    is right for them. A good therapist understands that
    coercion is out of the question in therapy.

    As for secular treatments, I personally support them. 
    They can work for many people of all faiths and none.
    I don’t as a Christian think that Christians should
    be obstructive of secular treatment of unwanted
    homosexuality. Christians have not been known to
    be obstructive towards secular treatment of other
    problems and in my opinion they should NOT
    contribute to a cultural climate where the only
    treatments for unwanted homosexuality are
    spiritual ones.
    It’s unfair and simply wrong that in Britain 
    it is stigmatised by the general cultural climate,
    when successful treatment of unwanted homosexuality
    was done in Britain by no less than Anna Freud. 
    There has been a long British tradition
    of secular treatment for unwanted homosexuality. 
    I’m sure it still goes on in private practice, and I 
    hope those who want such therapy are able to find it.

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