Christianity, Gay Folk and the Truth

Quoting the Chinese proverb, “we live in interesting times” for Christianity in the West. The Catholic Church is preparing to celebrate the largest public mass (500, 000) in Australian history at World Youth Day in Sydney. This will be conducted by one of the most conservative Popes of modern times. For example, one of his first acts as Pontiff was to reaffirm that all non Roman Catholic Churches are essentially invalid, relegating them to communions, not churches. This includes the Orthodox and Anglican Churches. Each and everyone. With a single stroke this put ecumenicalism back decades.

Meanwhile the Anglican Communion is preparing to tear itself apart over (ostensibly) an incredibly important theological question: whether people who fuck other people of the same sex can be Priests and Bishops.

All this at a time when the overall level of belief and spirituality in western countries is rising, but membership and participation at Christian Churches is plummeting like the stocks of Acme Chlorofluorocarbon Supply Company.

This is very sad, and from my liberal, modern mindset pretty stupid. Two of the most powerful currents of modernity are that of communion and the value of difference. In the modern world we seek to come together, to unite and share, even in diversity. We also find value in knowing and respecting people who are different from us. Even if  they may (occasionally) stick it up each other’s bum.

Now there are many blogs out there expressing the arguments for more inclusive and tolerant versions of Christianity than I can ever manage. But I cannot sit idly by and watch the Anglican Church destroy itself and the gains made by Vatican II be flushed down the gurgler without much sorrow and some attempt at trying to inject some sanity into the world.

Of course, the gay issue at the heart of the current Anglican crisis can be viewed as but a representation of a deeper problem. The real issue is how should the Bible be read? Is it to be considered literal truth, the Word of God with fixed and specific meanings? Or is it a guide to hearing God’s word that may present different solutions at different times and in different places? Certainly the history of the various Christian churches shows the latter, though many Churches simply write off other interpretations as invalid or wrong.

The American Anglican Church is about to be cut off from a large segment of other Anglican Communions around the world. The gay issue is only one concern the more conservative churches have. They are also concerned that pluralism, the acceptance of other paths to God as equally valid – a position held at least by the Presiding Bishop in America – will undermine a vital essence of Christianity, that of sharing the Gospels and conversion to the True faith.

From a modern esoteric perspective there are eternal verities; truth never changes. However, it is found beyond the temporal and mundane world, and at each moment we must try and live and make the world reflect this eternal truth. Being beyond our temporal and limited understanding, we can only ever bounce against the Truth. Each tradition and each religion is founded on Truth and each at end promotes the same mundane values – love, compassion, tolerance, respect and peace. We can envision this graphically:

The difficulty lies when we get stuck in the centre, the place of doctrine and interpretation of eternal truth. This is a natural thing to do, as it is the largest ‘target’ for our meaning seeking mind, which above all else looks for stability and security. However, since we are imperfect we can never, even reading the Bible, know the eternal truth. We can never know if God hates, loves or is indifferent to homosexuals, or heterosexuals for that matter. Because the knowledge of God;’s ‘mind’ is way beyond us. Any glimpse we have of it is lost in translation as we try to put it into words or doctrine. All we can do is to live our lives based on the eternal truth of love. I mean, heck even a pot smoking, hippy  Beatle knew that Truth 🙂

6 comments

  1. Dean Wilson · June 30, 2008

    The problem is taking the Bible literally, thinking it is the Word of God (and thus infallible), and the inability to adapt to modern times. All of these are interrelated, for when we don’t recognise the fallibility of the people who wrote the books, then we assume that what is written is “true” (and we assume that mythology is “false”, which is, as you undoubtedly know, a gross misunderstanding of the term). Because of this, we assume we can’t change anything, or, dare I say it, reinterpret somewhat.

    Though we will ignore the passages in the OT that tell us to stone rape victims. This is but one example of something we will consider “a thing of the past”. It’s amazing that such thinking can’t be extended to more things, like homosexuality.

    So we’re still living by rules that are 2,000 years old. Christianity isn’t alone with this. Judaism and Islam are suffering the same problems. I’ve recently been looking into Reform Judaism and noted that they have made some huge progress, including recognition of gay Jews:

    http://www.liberaljudaism.org/lj_wherewestand_homosexuality.htm

    It really is heart-warming to see such views as the above. It ain’t all bad.

    LLLSHJ,
    Yechidah.

  2. Peregrin · July 1, 2008

    Hi Dean,

    thank you for this comment and the link, which is very positive indeed. The point you make about selective reading of the Bible as literal is crucial; if we are selective, on what basis, conscious or unconscious, are we choosing?

    thanks

    Peregrin 🙂

  3. Msgr. Scott Rassbach · July 16, 2008

    I wrote this for another board, but your comment about knowing the mind of God made me think of it.

    I was listening to a lecture about “Candide”, by Voltaire. I’ll paraphrase Voltaire, who essentially says at one point: “Consider the mice upon a ship. They live there, even are trapped there, but nothing that happens on the ship is explicitly for them, or to their benefit.”

    Perhaps this world is neither paradise nor prison. Maybe, just maybe, we’re mice on a ship. We don’t know where we came from, we don’t know where we’re bound, and all we know is the ship. More importantly, it is beyond our ability to understand where we came from, where we’re bound, or even where we ARE. The mind that made the ship is so utterly removed from our concerns, desires, or needs.

    During his journey, Candide meets a Turk who is reasonably happy. Candide asks him why he is happy. The Turk says “I have only twenty acres I cultivate them with my children and the work keeps us from three great evils: boredom, vice, and poverty.”

    It reminds me of Ecclesiastes 2:24 “There is nothing better for people to do than to eat, drink, and find satisfaction in their work. I saw that even this comes from the hand of God.”

  4. Msgr. Scott Rassbach · July 16, 2008

    The comment doesn’t directly relate, of course. Sorry.

  5. incompleteinfinity · April 11, 2009

    There are a lot of obscure and funny scriptures from the OT (Old Testament) that we could easily take out of context!

    As for Magicians/Prophets I suspect… if the ‘filter’ (when ‘receiving’ scriptures… ritual or instruction) is not so clear … then the message will also be tarnished or biased towards that persons/community/religious worldview! Just like the OT spoke about killing wizards and witches! Yes the OT does speak of wizards and witches and countless of the same have been murdered in the name of these scriptures! All ‘justified’ by these man made scriptures. People calling themselves Christians have always USED scripture for their own means be it political or personal.

    Why over the years have they been persecuted so much?

    Why also have homosexuals been persecuted so much? well… coz the Bible say they should be….

    I think it would be more than fair to say that wizards and witches held an ‘alternative view’ to that of the established power of the day… Now THAT’S a god (I mean good) reason to kill them don’t you think ! 😉

    I might add that the homosexuals were probably despised because they had such good parties and a lot of sex…. and no unwanted pregnancies!!!! 😉

    As for how the bible should be read!

    I’m afraid I have to say that I would pick and choose what I would want to fight for/live by as regarding the Bible! Elijah asking God whether he should call down fire on those little bastards that called him ‘baldy head’? Nahhh! Doesn’t sound like a Prophet of God and a rep of the God of Love to me. But Jesus saying, (and I’m saying this from memory so don’t crucify me if I get it wrong)…

    “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor…. He has sent me to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind….to set at liberty those who are oppressed and recovery of sight to the blind… “

  6. incompleteinfinity · April 11, 2009

    Peregrin! There is no ‘back facility’ to edit here! please delete the first entry…….. there’s just one slight deletion I made…. thanks

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