Thought for the day

Today’s will be the shortest blog post I have made to date – it is a simple thought that popped into my head last night:

The actions of conservative Christians to exclude them has no effect whatsoever on limiting LGBT people from fulfilling God’s purpose: it simply affects where this activity may take place. The Holy Spirit is not constrained by other people’s opinions.

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The waning power of Anglican Mainstream

The House of Bishops announced a review of the Bishops’ Guidelines on Civil Partnerships yesterday, which prompted Anglican Mainstream to reissue a letter sent to the House of Bishops in 2005, a few months after the UK’s Civil Partnership Act become law: ‘Civil Partnerships a parody of marriage: Bishops must take action’.

In the preamble to the letter itself, Anglican Mainstream claimed:

that same-sex sexual relationships are contrary to Christian discipleship for both clergy and lay people

And, in the letter itself, that:

it would be inadvisable for Christians to enter [Civil Partnerships] if only to avoid causing scandal

Scandal, what scandal? Anglican Mainstream might perhaps be extremely disappointed with the conspicuous lack of scandal caused by Civil Partnerships in the past six years, but it has not stopped them reissuing the statement. My partner and I were amongst the first to take advantage of the Civil Partnership Act and there has not been one hint of scandal in any sphere of our lives, neither in our families, at work, amongst our friends, or within our church community: everybody is perfectly happy and calm about the whole thing – and we belong to a staunchly Evangelical church.

Whatever Anglican Mainstream claims about Civil Partnerships being a ‘parody of marriage’, I am sure our own personal experience is reflected very widely, so I don’t believe this viewpoint is how most people either within or outside the church see things. Most people probably recognise that the rights given us following a declaration of lifelong commitment to each other are no less a reasonable entitlement than those given to a straight couple who marry in a registry office. I’m sure if Anglican Mainstream were around in 1837, they would have been purple with indignation about the Civil Marriage Act and called it a ‘parody of marriage’. But we hardly bat an eyelid nowadays at the thought of people getting married in a Registry Office. There is no scandal, and indeed most people who actually know someone in a Civil Partnership judge us not by the fact that we are in a Civil Partnership, or indeed the fact that we are a gay couple, or what we might or might not do in bed, but by what we do in the rest of our lives. If we are Christians, do our lives reflect the sort of life a Christian is encouraged to lead? Gay Christians are no different from any other Christians in this respect: in my experience, even the most outspoken Christian opponents of homosexuality will, when they know you personally, quickly start to judge you by who you are and what you do rather than by your sexuality. And if their entire mindset on the gay issue is not changed, then at least it is not you who is now the problem, but all the other gays: the issue quickly becomes an abstract one for them about other gay people, not about you, but as far as the real human relationships of their experience are concerned, reality kicks in perfectly pleasantly and rather quickly, and it’s business as usual, not to mention lunch or dinner. I have personally been told by one of the biggest names in Evangelical circles: ‘Some of my best friends are gay. I play tennis with one of them at the weekend.’ This from somebody who quite literally ‘writes the book’ on the homosexuality issue. But, somehow, it seems to be easy for some people never to make the connection between the gay people you know and love and the gay people you don’t know who are part of a worldwide ‘homosexual agenda’ to ‘undermine Christian marriage’ and threaten the church.

To those of us who remember the seventies and eighties, doesn’t this seem all too familiar? Isn’t it a little like the banter from Rigsby to Philip in ‘Rising Damp’ – which, to our more contemporary ear, sounds very much like prejudice – if not outright racism?

This week, President Obama gave a speech on the occasion of Gay Pride Month in the USA. He said the following:

What gives me hope is the deeper shift we’re seeing that’s a transformation, not just in our laws, but in the hearts and minds of people. The progress, led not by Washington, but by ordinary citizens. It’s propelled not by politics, but by love, and friendship, and a sense of mutual regard and mutual respect. It’s playing out in New York, it’s playing out in courtrooms, it’s playing out in the ballot box. […]

It happens when a father realizes that he doesn’t just love his daughter, but he loves her partner. It happens when a soldier tells his unit that he’s gay, and they say, ‘Well, we knew that, but you’re a good soldier.’ It happens when a video sparks a movement to let every single young person out there know that they’re not alone. It happens when people look past their differences to understand our common humanity. And that’s not just the story of the gay rights movement, it is the story of America.

I’m British and perhaps not as aware as I would otherwise be of the complex nuances of American politics, but I have to say, when I read this it brought a lump to my throat. Because Obama here reflects the experience of countless thousands who, upon the (perhaps initially unwelcome) realisation that a friend or a loved-one is gay, either are unfazed or begin to think deeply about the issue for the first time, and change their minds. This is the experience of at least one Senator in New York last week when the Gay Marriage bill was passed into law, and this experience is the same for Republican or Democrat alike, as most people who have come out to their parents will testify. The Religious Right will try to persuade you that the judgement of one personally affected by the issue is clouded by love and that the change of heart changes nothing, certainly not the ‘truth’. From their perspective, this is love misplaced (or misunderstood), for a truly loving parent reprimands a child out of love for the child, and so should a truly loving Christian reprimand a ‘homosexual’. But for many people, having a gay friend, a gay son or daughter, or a gay loved-one makes them reflect on whether the ‘truths’ that they have hitherto accepted are really truths at all. As soon as you start dealing with real people, the once apparently simple ‘Biblical’ message becomes less simple (see, for instance, this article in today’s Huffington Post) and it becomes increasingly difficult to reconcile what you thought the bible was saying about homosexuality with the reality of the gay people you know: what they are, who they are, how good or honest they are, how happy and well-adjusted they are. Surprisingly to some, gay people are not just interested in ‘genital acts’, as Anglican Mainstream so charmingly puts it. Many actually have a much more useful role to offer society. Some even have a useful role to offer the church.

When they lose their ignorance, people change their minds. As one New York Senator, Roy McDonald, so colourfully put it: “You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn’t black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing. You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that […] Well, f*** it, I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing.”

And the interesting thing about this process is that it is, by-and-large, one way: most people when they become better acquainted with the issue through personal experience, become more understanding, and less accepting of the old ‘truths’. But not the other way around: people rarely go back to a position of homophobia. This is why Anglican Mainstream and other Christian Right organisations are so keen to wheel out the ‘Ex-gays’: people who have changed their mind about their homosexual leanings and have rejected them, returning to a – sometimes short-lived – life as a heterosexual. But the experience of so few does not, as some would want you to believe, mean that all gays may be ‘cured’ of homosexuality. Far from it. Most cannot ‘pray away the gay’ any more than they could pray away other unwanted attributes, as is actually subtly acknowledged on websites for organisations like NARTH who offer therapy for people who have ‘unwanted’ same-sex attractions. The important – and much overlooked – word here is ‘unwanted’. Anglican Mainstream and other similar organisations would prefer you to think that all gay people can ‘pray away’ their same-sex attractions, however this is simply not the case. For most of us, the same-sex attraction is not ‘unwanted’, it is simply part of us. We have come to accept – and even love – ourselves as we are and don’t want to give our whole lives over to fighting it. We are what we are and we’re much too busy just living our lives to let this be the big issue it apparently is for others. Homosexuality isn’t necessarily a big issue for gay people: it’s a big issue for a minority group of Christians who simply can’t figure out how to deal with it but have convinced themselves that they should.

Neither is there any great issue about Civil Partnerships within society at large in the UK: and perhaps this is what must upset Anglican Mainstream the most, as if somehow having lost the mainstream opinion so completely, they must constantly redouble their efforts to win it back. But, even within the church, their support is truly limited, and falling all the time as the world moves on and the young – who, generally, simply don’t have an issue with it – grow older. In the preamble to the above letter, Anglican Mainstream, along with the Church of England Evangelical Council and Reform, claim to represent people in over 1000 churches. But if my experience is anything to go by, coming from a church that Anglican Mainstream probably counts amongst this number, they, and the church leadership, are massively out of touch with the vast majority of people who actually come to the church, for one simple reason: they never ask. Discussion is actively discouraged and acceptance of the ‘traditional’ position is simply assumed. I don’t suppose my church is much different from many of the others Anglican Mainstream claim to represent, but I am very certain that they do not represent us at all. Most people in my church have probably never heard of Anglican Mainstream. Never once have I heard them mentioned in ten years of attendance.

It would be folly to say that we don’t need to worry about organisations like Anglican Mainstream, because their power lies in the power of their deception, and if they can persuade people that they are powerful, then they effectively are. But they are not nearly as powerful as they think they are, and their influence is certainly on the wane. It is no wonder they concentrate on the support of countries like Nigeria, where homophobia is an accepted norm and it is easy to persuade people of the ‘truth’ of the biblical message; where people like Archbishop Nicholas Okoh consider homosexuality the defining issue on whether Nigeria should remain in or leave the UN now that the UN has set as one of its ambitions an end to discrimination against LGBT people. Given the appalling discrimination many gay people face in Africa, is this the sort of Christianity to which we want to align ourselves, or are LGBT people in today’s context the ‘least of these’ whom we failed to protect: ‘What you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me’ (Matthew 25:44-46)? Most of us are justly horrified at the way LGBT people are treated by ‘Christians’, but to Anglican Mainstream, the support – real or assumed – of the vast numbers of Anglicans in Africa is seen as a necessary means to an end, however distasteful the means.

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Going the whole hog

Matt Kennedy on the site ‘Stand Firm In Faith’ has written an open letter to ‘a friend’ giving scripturally based answers on why marriage between two people of the same sex is wrong. Please read it. Although I don’t agree with it, it is interesting to know what this author thinks and how he argues his corner:

http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/27558

I was hoping to post a comment on the page but I have been thwarted by the site’s registration system. So, instead I am posting it here. The following will only make sense if you read the original post.

Thanks so much for this. I hope I will have the opportunity to make a couple of points without being attacked as you certainly have some fairly forceful readers who have made up their minds that the opposing arguments don’t hold any water nor are worthy of respect.

These thoughts are my own – I haven’t read them elsewhere – they are thoughts that have occurred to me from a sincere reading and love of the bible, but also from the perspective of being a gay man.

I think perhaps you have yourself tried to ‘limit the bible injunctions’ and have missed some important bits out. Leviticus goes on to say: (Leviticus 20:13-14 NIV) “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”. It is important that we understand the full context so that we can judge the morality of Leviticus against out current standards and decide if we can truly live by it or if is perhaps a little extreme to our modern tastes. You cannot surely hold one belief – that same-sex sexual relations are detestable – without the other – that the perpetrators should be killed. Or can you? If you can, how so? I do not deny that Leviticus is clear: it appears to say that people like me should be put to death. The question is, should we actually believe and choose to live by this moral code, or do we have just cause to reject it and leave it in the past as a morality from another age?

Incidentally, there is another very large group of people who should be put to death, but we hear a great deal less about this in Christian moral circles than we do about the ‘sin’ of homosexuality, as Leviticus continues: “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:10) Tell your friend about this also so they may fully judge the standards by which *you* have chosen to live and decide if your advice should be trusted. Leviticus is famously full of stuff that few take seriously these days: please make sure your friend is aware of this.

Also, in Romans 1, you have missed an important part out – immediately before the verses you quote. You claim this passage was written by Paul ‘as a result of the disobedience of humanity’, but it reads to me as if Paul was talking about a very specific group of people – one who – as he puts it – “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles” (Romans 1:23). This is not a description of gay people, nor of humanity in general, is it? It is certainly not one I recognise. It seems to me that St Paul is being very specific about a group of people whose behaviour he was aware of at the time. In my own case – as a gay person who loves God, the suggestion that I “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25) seems a long way from the life I have attempted to live, but perhaps you know me better than I know myself. When I read this passage I find it impossible to reconcile it with what I know of myself, but only God can be the judge of that: you can’t see another’s relationship with God, who ‘sees what we do in secret’, as Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6.

My problem with the bible is that although I love God, and although I love and try to serve Jesus, the more acquainted I am with the bible the less it seems to offer a clear answer. The bible may be infallible but out understanding of it certainly isn’t.

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Reclaim the rainbow

I have been meaning to write about this for a while, but on the day that New York – widely claimed to be the birthplace of the Gay Rights Movement – voted for full marriage equality, perhaps now the time is right:

It seems there is a new movement amongst some Christian groups to ‘reclaim the rainbow’. Pop the phrase into Google and you’ll see what I mean. Apparently they are sore that the LGBT community – having appropriated the word ‘gay’ – have now stolen the rainbow flag also, turning it into the internationally recognised symbol of gay culture, proudly flying outside gay venues the world over.

Some Christian groups want to ‘reclaim the rainbow’ – for God, recognising and celebrating its role in the Noah story, and in order to return it to its rightful place as a symbol of the beauty of God’s creation.

We welcome this initiative – fly the rainbow flag proudly! Adorn your websites and your places of worship!

We think it will be a great encouragement to get more gay people into church and we’re likely to feel much more welcome.

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The Anglican Mission in England

Yesterday saw the launch of a new organisation, the ‘Anglican Mission in England’ (AMiE). Like the ‘Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans’ (FCA) before it (the organisation launched at GAFCON in 2008 to head up the new breakaway movement for those churches disaffected with the more inclusive goals of other members of the Anglican Communion), they launched to a great fanfare and an impressive-sounding mission: The ‘re-conversion of England’ through church planting.

But to what exactly do they wish to re-convert England?

In a communique from Anglican Mainstream about the new organisation, signed by the increasingly familiar partnership of the Rev. Paul Perkin (Vicar of St Marks church, Battersea, London; New Wine Network; Reform council member; Trustee and on the Steering Committee of Anglican Mainstream; now ‘Chairman of the AMIE steering committee’) and Canon Dr Chis Sugden of Anglican Mainstream (Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream and now ‘Secretary’ of AMIE), they say:

AMIE has been established as a society within the Church of England dedicated to the conversion of England and biblical church planting. There is a steering committee and a panel of bishops. The bishops aim to provide effective oversight in collaboration with senior clergy.

But why now? Is it because they have been neglecting dear old Blighty for too long, or is this the next logical step in an attempted power grab within the Church of England?

In 2008, ‘theologically conservative African Anglican leaders who opposed the ordination of homosexuals and the blessing of same-sex unions‘ initiated GAFCON – the ‘Global Anglican Future Conference’ in Jerusalem. At this widely publicised event it was brought to the world’s attention that the very substantial part of the Anglican Communion is not in Britain and the USA – e.g. in ‘the West’ – but in Africa and other parts of the world, and this sector is growing worldwide while church-going in ‘the West’ is, by and large, shrinking. Thus, the conference was seen by some as a direct threat to an antiquated power model of the Anglican Communion, headed up by the Archbishop of Canterbury, by which Anglican leaders from Africa and elsewhere often felt marginalised. At this conference, the FCA was launched. Note this, because the timing is important: The FCA came out of GAFCON.

The communiqué about yesterday’s event from Anglican Mainstream about the AMIE, however, says the following (emphasis mine):

The AMIE has been encouraged in this development by the Primates’ Council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GAFCON) who said in a communiqué from Nairobi in May 2011: “We remain convinced that from within the Provinces which we represent there are creative ways by which we can support those who have been alienated so that they can remain within the Anglican family.”

Is this wording significant? Here, the “Primates’ Council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans” is labelled ‘GAFCON’. Thus, in this statement, GAFCON is equated with “the Primates’ Council” within the FCA, rather than a global movement in its own right. This is a curious downgrading of GAFCON’s importance is it not?

There seems to be some slight of hand going on: After GAFCON – perhaps with perfect justification – opened our eyes to a form of colonialism within the Anglican Communion, are Canon Dr Chris Sugden and the Rev. Paul Perkin and their chums at the FCA simply replacing it with something almost indistinguishable, but with a different vision – a more ‘Angican Mainstream’ vision? Are we watching the tail of Anglican Mainstream and their allies trying to wag the dog of the Global Anglican Communion?

Church planting is not new. Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), the home of the Alpha Course, has been planting churches for decades. St Marks itself – Paul Perkin’s church – was an HTB plant, and itself planted St Peter’s in Battersea. HTB continues to plant churches (for instance, St Augustine’s in Queensgate, now ‘HTB Queensgate’), with no apparent need for a new organisation, a new mission, and a new vision, nor the support of overseas bishops. So what exactly is the purpose of the church planting that the new ‘Anglican Mission in England’ proposes? Is it to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or is it to cement and strengthen their own position within the breakaway Anglican Communion and the Church of England? Forgive my cynicism, but it seems to me the organisation is more dedicated to agendas, alliances and allegiances than spreading the vision of Christ, friend and comforter of the outsider and the alienated. AMIE looks like an organisation dedicated to converting the church to its own narrow vision of Anglicanism – for which vision they usurp the word ‘Biblical’ so that no other may claim it, rather than to bringing England’s lost sheep back to Christianity.

But we will wait and see how things develop. Like the FCA before it, AMIE might turn out to be a bit of a damp squib.

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Gays and Ex-Gays

There is a very interesting New York Times article (promoted on Anglican Mainstream) about the once-prominent gay youth activist Michael Glatze who, in July 2007 at the age of 32, suddenly renounced his homosexuality, leaving his boyfriend of 10 years. Glatze now says:

Homosexuality is a cage in which you are trapped in an endless cycle of constantly wanting more — sexually — that you can never actually receive, constantly full of emptiness, trying to justify your twisted actions by politics and ‘feel good’ language.

The organisation Ex-Gay Watch write about the New York Times article in their profile of Michael Glatze, and another article on the same site talks about Glatze as an advocate of bullying ‘as a growing experience’ which discusses Glatze’s extreme – even racist – views. They quote the following from Glatze’s blog, which he subsequently shut down:

Have I mentioned lately how utterly *disgusting* Obama is? And, yes, it’s because he’s black. God, help us all.

This Ex-Gay Watch article, in turn, links to the interview mentioned in the New York Times article which has subsequently been removed from the NARTH website (http://www.narth.com/docs/nicoglatze.html). The interview is between Glatze and Dr Joseph Nicolosi of NARTH, an organisation dedicated to treating people with ‘unwanted same sex attractions’. Luckily, the interview is also available here.

The Nicolosi interview is curious: it is worth reading especially for the way that Nicolosi leads Glatze from one thought to another, prompting him in a pseudo-psychological language. For instance, when discussing meditation, which Glatze’s formerly practiced, Nicolosi says:

Even though you aren’t practicing it much any more, perhaps you internalized the attitude of clearing your mind and consciously moving away from negative thoughts.

To which Glatze replies, ‘Yes, maybe you’re right.’

There is a very curious passage from Glatze which seems to give an interesting – and not very flattering – insight into his character. In this passage, Glatze is talking about how things are for him now, having rejected his homosexuality:

Let’s say I was at a party, and there was this guy sitting there and I noticed that he works out, and I’ve been working out too. Let’s say it was kind of a rowdy party and so I said, “Let’s arm wrestle,” and we did, and I won, and some other people got involved, and there wasn’t anything sexual about it at all. Three or four years ago if we arm-wrestled, I would have thought, “Does that mean something sexual…?” or else “Does this mean I’m jealous of this guy?” Back then, jealousy couldn’t be satisfied by anything other than same-sex activity. I was convinced I could never break down the barriers–the feeling of uncomfortableness I had about a guy like that– without sex. I would think, “This guy’s impossible to know.” His masculinity would have scared or challenged me; actually “scared” is more appropriate. This feeling would stir up these kinds of carnal needs. […] And then I probably would have gotten my mind into the whole desire part–the whole kind of push and pull around the issue of domination.

Right. I think this tells us something of where Michael Glatze is, or was, sexually and emotionally, and it isn’t a picture of perfect, whole, sexuality. For him, sexual desire is intrinsically tied up with the whole ‘push and pull around the issue of domination’. It is perhaps in this context that – according to Dave Rattigan of Ex-Gay Watch – ‘he called homosexuality “neurotic” and “abnormal,” saying it was “lust and pornography wrapped into one.”’

Glatze’s rather dubious attitude to sex could probably apply both to homosexual and heterosexual sex, so it is curious in some ways that he has now become something of a focus of attention for NARTH and Anglican Mainstream, promoters of the Ex-Gay Way. When Glatze talks about heterosexuality it is really homosexuality that he talks about. With heterosexality, he says, ‘there’s nothing wrong with it that you have to compensate for through another man’:

With heterosexuality, you experience your own existence, including your physical existence, with a sense of integrity and liberty. There’s a freedom to be oneself–to be normal, not to have to fight against a deficit that you’re constantly trying to patch up-not to experience these negative emotions that you’re constantly having to make excuses for. You’re inhabiting and owning your own body — your whole wonderful, God-given and God-created human body, and there’s nothing wrong with it that you have to compensate for through another man. But when you’re engaging in same-sex activities, you’re going to have to start to create all kinds of justifications…little stories that you start telling yourself to make it feel right and normal. You share these stories with others to strengthen their foundation, to get group justification for them. That’s the whole process right there that creates gay culture.

Quite apart from the fact that as a born-again, unmarried Christian, Glatze seems to know more about the heterosexual sexual experience than he perhaps should, this gloomy and unenviable painting of gay life is one that seems rather familiar from other accounts of ex-gays. From the perspective of the many years of happiness I have personally experienced as a gay man, it seems very sad, and I rather get the sense that Glatze has never found what he wanted in a relationship, and still hasn’t, and the promise of the perfect heterosexual relationship might be as shallow as the former relationships that didn’t work out for him. Perhaps it has nothing to do with others, or indeed his sexuality – perhaps he is just a very mixed up person. But who am I to suggest this? I don’t know him.

One point I would like to make, though, is this. My experience as a happy gay man perhaps counts for very little in the eyes of  somebody like Glatze. He would consider me to be ‘under deception’, as he has put it, though my mind seems clear enough to me. Perhaps in the scheme of things, none of our own personal experiences count for very much in the wider debate. What happened to Michael Glatze is interesting, but it doesn’t win any arguments. Neither will what has happened to me. All our life-stories do is point to the obvious fact that we know so little about what makes us tick, a fact that we would all – on every side of the argument – do well to accept. Only God can see what we really are, and we can’t see what God sees in others. This is why Jesus told us not to judge others – because we simply can’t understand what lies beneath the surface, within another person’s heart. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2

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Anglican Mainstream show their true colours

It was reported yesterday in the Associated Baptist Press that Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler admitted that Baptists have lied about the nature of homosexuality:

We’ve lied about the nature of homosexuality and have practiced what can only be described as a form of homophobia. […] We’ve used the choice language when it is clear that sexual orientation is a deep inner struggle and not merely a matter of choice.

To be clear, Mohler does believe that homosexuality is sinful. But he calls on the church to repent of the lie that ‘it is a choice’. To quote from Bob Allen’s article:

“Evangelicals, thankfully, have failed to take the liberal trajectory of lying about homosexuality and its sinfulness,” Mohler said. “We know that the Bible clearly declares – not only in isolated verses but in the totality of its comprehensive presentation – the fact that homosexuality not only is not God’s best for us, as some try to say, but it is sin.”

“But we as evangelicals have a very sad history in dealing with this issue,” he continued. “We have told not the truth, but we have told about half the truth. We’ve told the biblical truth, and that’s important, but we haven’t applied it in the biblical way.”

“We have said to people that homosexuality is just a choice,” Mohler said. “It’s clear that it’s more than a choice. That doesn’t mean it’s any less sinful, but it does mean it’s not something people can just turn on and turn off. We are not a gospel people unless we understand that only the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ gives a homosexual person any hope of release from homosexuality.”

As Bob Allen continues,

Mohler said churches have not done their job until “there are those who have been trapped in that sin sitting among us.”

Contrast this with the recent behaviour of Anglican Mainstream, who, are so keen to spread the lie that they clutch at any straw, however distasteful it is, and however badly it reflects upon them in their declared mission of ‘sharing the love and purpose of God in Jesus Christ‘.

Two recent posts on Anglican Mainstream relate to the recently published book A Queer Thing Happened to America by Dr Michael Brown.

One is a video of the author interviewed by Sid Roth, and it is not simply the video itself which caught my eye, but the claim by the posts’s author (uncredited) as to why this video is so important. To put it in context, the following quotes relate to what Anglican Mainstream love to call the ‘homosexual agenda’ – the myth that those who are homosexual and even those that love and support them are part of a worldwide conspiracy of ‘homosexual activists’ who are trying to undermine Christian values:

Dr. Michael Brown warns that there is a diabolical spell being cast on TV, in Movies, on the Internet and EVEN in public schools to control your children and your grandchildren. [emphasis mine]

and, again:

Find out how YOU can help protect your children from this demonic onslaught!

It’s unbelievable to me that such language is being used in a Christian context. I have talked with many Christians about this issue, some who strongly oppose my position, but none has ever expressed their beliefs in such language. It is just plain nasty. I doubt Canon Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream would use language like this, or believe it appropriate, so why, then, does he allow it to be published?

Another article on Anglican Mainstream reviews the book: A Review of A Queer Thing Happened to America – by Dr Michael L Brown. Once again, extreme language is used, but this time by a credited reviewer, J Davies. He writes of the book:

It is no exaggeration to say it should be required reading for everyone who cares about the future of their family and of our civilization’ and should be read by anybody “who has any suspicions at all that it is not really ‘OK to be gay'”.

Davies appears to define the homosexual issue – or more specifically the fight against ‘homosexual culture’ as the defining issue in the ‘culture wars presently being fought for the future of western civilization’.

The reviewer clearly does not simply follow the official line of the Anglican church that it is acceptable to have a homosexual orientation, but not to perform ‘homosexual acts’. For him, this is a battle against homosexuality itself as the enemy of civilization – a line Dr Michael Brown takes himself, as I shall demonstrate below.

In a familiar tactic, much beloved by Anglican Mainstream, Davies also attempts to propagate the myth that Christians are the victims:

Today supporters of homosexual ‘rights’ routinely silence those who criticise homosexual practices on moral, health, social or religious grounds by malevolently accusing them of “homophobia” and using “hate” speech. This highly successful tactic was advocated by Kirk & Madsen in their 1990 Machiavellian masterpiece After the Ball; How America will conquer its fear and hatred of gays in the 90s.

Note how he emphasizes the word ‘rights’ by surrounding it in quotation marks. It is clear that he does not believe homosexuals are entitled to any.

Davies claims that in this book,

the 21st century has what it needs to recognize this Orwellian cancer for what it really is and prevent it from corrupting every cherished institution from the traditional family to our systems of government. [emphasis mine]

Whoof!

So much for the posts on Anglican Mainstream about the book, and the video, for which language, I believe, they should take full responsibility and be deeply ashamed. Now on to the video itself. I’m not going to comment on the book, because I haven’t read it, and at over 700 pages long, I don’t intend to – the interview is sufficient for me to know that the author does not have a objective viewpoint on the subject.

The interviewer is the somewhat made-for-television looking Sid Roth – a self-publicist whose own website sidroth.org invites us to read about his ‘Messianic Vision‘ to ‘reach out with the good news of the Messiah, “to the Jew first”’ – whatever on earth that may mean (Sid helpfully offers us Romans 1:16 as a clue). Sid hosts a TV show called ‘It’s Supernatural!’ and it is from this show that the video clip is taken. This is not the sort of thing that Anglican Mainstream would normally promote but, hey, these are desperate times and desperate measures are required, so let’s not worry about the bigger picture of how our actions reflect the body of Christ, so long as we can get our ‘agenda’ across.

The interview is interspersed with what Sid refers to as ‘these messages’. Typically these are dramatisations where actors try to depict homosexuality in as unfavourable a light as possible. At one point two men are shown in bed with a small boy, squabbling over who should read a book to the child. The adults (who are homosexual and thus – obviously – unable to behave properly) snatch the book from each other and behave more childishly than the child, who lies there in puzzlement. This is just to set the tone, so we are left in no doubt what both the author and interviewer think of homosexuals.

The interview itself is quite long, and one gets a picture of Dr Michael Brown as someone highly skilled in media presentation. He never stops smiling, always speaking an a considered and compassionate-sounding voice, quick to point out the spirit of love towards homosexuals in which his words should be taken. But the words themselves give him away. He apparently – like Anglican Mainstream – finds it difficult to distinguish between homosexual people themselves and the worldwide homosexual ‘agenda’. To him they are one and the same thing, and nothing less than a threat to our civilization. At one point [6:30 mins], Sid asks the deliberately leading question, ‘Historically, is this the course that nations take just before their final destruction?’, to which the answer is, of course, yes:

Once you tamper with family foundations, everything else falls apart. You cannot mess with the family foundations of society. Once you do, and once you begin to celebrate things that were once shameful, everything is become undone. And yes, the clock is ticking.

Later [18:02 mins] they discuss whether people can be ‘born this way’. Brown says:

OK, first thing, it’s a myth. No-one is born gay. […] As long as someone says ‘I was born this way’, therefore ‘I was made this way’ then they are under deception. But of course, you watch sitcoms, you watch TV shows, you watch – whatever it is – it’s just assumed, ‘Oh, we know people who were born gay’. We know no such thing: the science absolutely says the opposite.

This ‘absolutely’ not true. The science does not say the opposite. Only a fool, on either side of the argument, would use the scientific argument so forcefully when the science on this issue is in its infancy. I’m no scientist, but I know a blatant untruth when I see one.

At minute 16.02:

Roth: Michael. Can you be Christian and gay?
Brown: […] No, you cannot possibly be a practicing homosexual and a follower of Jesus at the same time.

This is also demonstrably untrue. Dr Brown may have a distinguished moustache and an air of authority, but he is not qualified to make a judgement like this. The hundreds of thousands of LGBT Christians are a reality, whatever Dr Brown may think. He may dismiss us, but it’s not his call – it’ God’s. For too long have a self-appointed group of Christians set themselves up as bouncers at the door of God’s church. But they forget that it is not them who invite people into relationship with God, it is God. The God of surprises never fails to surprise.

Later, Dr Brown turns earnestly to Sid Roth:

They [the gay activists] want to put you and me in the closet. Sid, I am not ready to go in the closet.

Once again, here is a deliberate reversal of roles: The homosexual agena-pushing activists are trying to push the fair-minded Christians – who are, after all, only trying to be Biblical – into the closet. The bullied have become the bullies.

I know the Christian right is feeling under fire, but I believe it has completely lost perspective on this issue. I wish occasionally they would take a step back and look at their own behaviour, and ask themselves if they are not, on occasions, being just a tinsy-winsy bit mean.

At moments like this, so desperate and under attack do they feel, organisations like Anglican Mainstream behave carelessly, letting their defences down. They let fall the cloak of respectability and moral judgement and show the world their true colours, and it is just plain nasty to see. It is not the ‘homosexual agenda’ that organisations like Anglican Mainstream should be afraid of, it is ordinary, caring, loving, sensitive human beings who look at their behaviour and see it for what it is, and want no part in it. The church has little hope of winning the masses while it behaves so disgracefully towards God’s children. The tide of opinion is moving forcefully in this direction, which is not (as the Christian right would have you believe) a symptom of secular society winning the day against the downtrodden Christians, but of people waking up in love and compassion to a deep and long-standing injustice and calling on the church to repent.

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