The A, B, and C of SSB

by Tony Copple

The current same-sex blessings debate in the Anglican and Episcopalian churches of North America has so far revolved, and revolved, and revolved around two basic issues, listed here in order of the heat of debate. I have added a third which seems important to me and is perhaps being overlooked.

A. Should we bless same-sex unions to preserve unity in North American dioceses, or should we follow biblical traditions and not encourage same-sex unions?

B. Is homosexuality learned (behavioural), or are some born with it (an identity)?

C. Are homosexual unions just a problem for some Christians in their interpretation of their faith, or are there biological or social norms that are being left out of account?

If you have been following the large amount of Internet discussion on bulletin boards and e-mail forums, you may be experiencing “position fatigue.” This buzzphrase refers to the modern danger of being exposed to so many points of view from enthusiastic activists that we exit the stage on the basis of wanting to “keep a life.”

In this article I attempt to present the key points from this discussion, under the three headings above, and adding my own views and conclusions. In other words, it’s the only piece you really need to read on the subject…(!) (Just kidding).

A.  Should we bless same-sex unions to preserve unity in North American dioceses, or should we not do so, and follow biblical traditions?

Which of these two statements carries more weight:

1. We should encourage homosexuals to feel fully accepted in society by blessing their relationships,
2. We should maintain and preserve the belief that blessing their relationships is wrong in the sight of God, even though this causes pain to homosexuals.

We have seen heartrending statements both by homosexuals and heterosexuals describing the pain of the homosexual lifestyle in a world where much prejudice remains. Christianity demands we show the same love to all people regardless of behaviour, race, creed or sexual orientation. We nowadays rightly condemn unreservedly any anti-homosexual actions or thoughts (even though in my lifetime homophobia has been the norm).

The question of whether homosexuality is wrong in the sight of God comes partly down to interpretation of the relevant Bible passages. Activists have presented arguments that claim that none of the passages in question actually means that homosexuality is any less valid than heterosexuality, sometimes with reference to the dangers of fundamentalism. Other activists have presented arguments promoting the exact opposite, and reminding us that God does not change. Whom should we believe?

In blessing a relationship we condone and encourage the characteristic of the relationship, eg. homosexuality. In sanctifying a relationship, as the Canadian Anglican Synod agreed on June 2, 2004, we are saying that God condones and encourages the characteristic of that relationship.

The natural desire to help homosexuals feel more truly part of society – often emphasized by the friendships many of us have with them – is a very powerful force. Who would take the first stone and throw it when we can all instead be great friends and bless one another? Yet I would argue that this commandment of loving everyone cannot possibly obscure truth, if we can discern that. Supposing we were talking about murderers rather than homosexuals, should we bless and encourage the union of two murderers and by implication their shared characteristic? Of course not, since killing people is acknowledged to be wrong in our society. The same would apply to a union of two pedophiles. On September 24 2004, ABC "Dateline" broadcast a program where chat-show pedophiles were lured to a house by decoys posing as 14-year olds in the chat rooms. In two days 18 sad sex-hungry men appeared at the house and were filmed, to be confronted by the Dateline reporter. In the future, are we to have to contend with activists saying that these men were born like that and their actions were OK - and perhaps should be blessed? Jesus Christ calls us to respond lovingly and pastorally when a brother sins against us (Mt 18:15-17). Too often, we opt for the greater comfort of ignoring the transgressions of our brothers and sisters, as doing so often spares us an uncomfortable moment. We take the easy road, thinking of our own comfort, and reject the blessing he offers in using us to speak to our brother or sister, his beloved child. The harder road, far more loving and in keeping with our Lord's command, is to "show him his fault, just between the two of you." The harder road is the cross we are called to bear. It is often not a pleasant journey. The easy road is very tempting.

Similarly, we are called to respond out of love for our brother when he sins against God. This too is a hard road to travel and quite frankly, we would often rather not do it. Nothing would give us greater comfort than to turn away. The voice of our Lord himself and as heard through His apostles would convict us if we did.

Charles Colson wrote in February 2004: “Peter James Lee was one of the sixty Episcopal bishops who voted to approve the appointment of Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, as bishop of New Hampshire. Since the vote, Lee has faced stiff opposition from conservative evangelical churches in his diocese.

In his speech to the annual meeting of his diocese, Bishop Lee said this, “If you must make a choice between heresy and schism, always choose heresy.”

I can think of nothing more dangerous. What Lee is basically saying is that we can tolerate anything within the Church just to keep the Church together.”

The worldwide Anglican community will not endorse the blessing of same-sex unions. Should our small group of Christians in North America take account of this in the interest of unity? It’s the same argument in reverse. Statistically, which group is more likely to be on the side of truth? The vast majority of Christians worldwide who are at the front lines of Christian evangelism, or the small percentage who are embracing the material world, the new age, the Pagan Christ and other trends of “civilization?” In fact neither of these arguments is logically defensible. Right is right however few in the population believe it.

If your allegiance is to a religion that provides comfort and follows the philosophy that if it feels right, it is right, then the blessing of same-sex unions would be an obvious part of the doctrine for you. But Christianity is not just a religion. It is a statement of God’s creation and the way to worship the creator, and we do not have the freedom to believe what feels right; only what his Book has said is right.

B.  Is homosexuality learned (behavioural), or are some born with it (an identity)?

To date, the homosexual gene has yet to be discovered. Leanne Payne in several books has argued convincingly that homosexuality is learned. The idea that it is present at birth (or conception) is quite modern and the brainchild of activists, not scientists. It is also strongly promoted by many homosexuals, who have felt “different” from childhood. In my experience growing up in a boys school and working as a prison volunteer, I have noticed that homosexuals are adept at spotting others and introducing potentials to their lifestyle. They are such a small minority – far less than the Kinsey Report originally estimated - that if they were unable to recruit they would have died out by now. A national survey on AIDS in Britain in 1993 found that only six percent of male respondents had had sexual experience with another man. Only 3.6 percent of the male respondents had had anal intercourse with another man. Of the last group, two thirds had also had sexual intercourse with a woman. The incidence of homosexual activity among women is even more rare.

If homosexuality is learned, does this represent a strike against the blessing of same-sex unions? I would say yes, based on the concepts in sections A and C of this article. Both biblically, and biologically, the case for blessing such relationships is considerably weakened.

Suppose we do discover the homosexual gene. Does this then negate all the negatives? Not necessarily. I have written about this in Cider with Rosie Leviticus. In a sentence, nature’s infinite diversity could give rise to any number of aberrations which were not the Creator’s specific intention and which he would not necessarily wish to encourage. An extreme example could be the HIV virus.

C.  Are homosexual unions just a problem for some Christians in their interpretation of their faith, or are there a biological or social norms that are being left out of account?

In a recent discussion, the question came up: “If I were not a Christian believing in the “rules” as set out in the Bible, would I object to homoerotic activity?” Some Christians would say “no;” what people do in private is their affair. I would say “yes,” and for the following reasons.

I am an engineer by training and sometimes view God as the great engineer-creator. He designed the concept of male and female not only in humans but almost all other species. He designed bodies so that they could copulate efficiently - imagine the problems in this task for the most successful species, dinosaurs! The result was one that would not only be effective, but one that would give great pleasure (so that it would be effective). This is such an elegant solution that my engineering ethic is affronted when I hear of people who spurn it and use the body in ways that were not intended, and for which it was not designed. I believe God feels disappointed by this also. I would feel this were I an atheist or a Buddhist.

Nigerian Archdeacon Oluranti Odubogun has said: "Ordaining homosexuals is heresy, unbiblical, should never have been done and should be reversed. Homosexual behaviour is deviant, unbiblical, un-Christian and unnatural." I couldn't agree more, and am surprised at how few are prepared to speak with such frankness. In fact I will state what no-one else is prepared to: the inserting of a man's penis into another man's anus is revolting and disgusting; and this is the source of our distaste for homosexuality.

Leanne Payne discusses what she has called the crisis in masculinity, in the book of that name, in which she says “the homosexual neurosis is only one of the ways in which this many-faceted and widespread problem in masculine identity manifests itself". She refers to this “growing cultural malady, already epidemic in proportions…” and the book describes many cases where unfortunate parenting had given rise to feeling of inadequacy in men in their masculinity.

The mother + father family, when working in harmony in the way God intended it, is unlikely to produce homosexual children. A male child brought up by a single mother, or by two females, will be deprived of a male role model in everyday life, and may seek male companionship to fill the gap. Other elements of upbringing can have huge effects on children, particularly their self image, confidence and comfort with life in this competitive world. Children separated from other children of the same sex, as in single sex schools, seek obvious sources for their comfort and experimentation, which can lead down a slippery slope. Christian psychiatrist Jeffrey Satinover has written "...because the relationship between man and woman forms the basic structure of the family, the destruction of the family, hence of our civilization, is progressing rapidly. The traditional family structure is the pillar of society; when it is destroyed, society declines rapidly, as we see all around us today...The importance of the family structure is equally obvious from a sociological point of view...A society in which there is a large proportion of stable traditional families will produce the highest percentage of relatively healthy individuals."

I have a friend who is very strongly against gay marriage, so much so that he wrote to the prime minister's office. Here is a letter he sent to the CBC.

    “Dear Anna Maria; on August 13, you had an interview with a Unitarian minister who argued that the Bible does not approve gay marriages, but it does not forbid them either. I am an engineer and a mathematician who does not believe in God to whom we can pray or receive direct favours. However I had been raised as a Christian with a good knowledge of the Bible. It insulted me how someone can twist what is written in any book - not from the religious point of view but from the view of pure logic. Here are excerpts from the Contemporary English Bible:
    Leviticus 18.22 : It is disgusting for a man to have sex with another man.
    Romans 1:26-32: Women no longer wanted to have sex in a natural way, and they did things with each other that were not natural. Men behaved in the same way. They stopped wanting to have sex with women and had strong desires for sex with other men. They did shameful things with each other, and what has happened to them is punishment for their foolish deeds.
    Since this is what the Bible says, the question of the gay marriage is irrelevant.
    To put things in a historical perspective:
    The Old Testament (Leviticus) is concerned with the Jews taking over the decadent habits of Egyptians. The New Testament is concerned with Christians following morals of then contemporary Rome.

    If you doubt that our civilization is cracking up through debauchery, I suggest you get a copy of the Ottawa Xpress and read the end column "Savage Love." In a recent issue (Aug 19, 2004) the subject matter raised by correspondents included discussion on smothering fetish, bestiality, and the lack of one gay man's satisfaction from sex from failure to find a partner who would have sex while smothering him with a loaf of white bread.

    The Philosophers at Athens - Acts 17, NKJ

    Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, "What does this babbler want to say?" Others said, "He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods," because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.

    Our society is also being given over to idols. The exclusion of God has become enmeshed in the wrongly-interpreted phrase “the separation of Church and State.” But, like Paul, many are provoked to stand up and preach Jesus and the resurrection, and to maintain his teachings and those of the Bible. The making holy of homosexuality is today’s battleground, and it is one where we cannot allow this to succeed, for if it does, coming after it will be the idols of tomorrow that will make this seem commonplace and natural. These idols are the enemy in his many disguises, as he blinds good people to truth in his continuing rearguard action, following his defeat at the Cross.

    The Gnostic heresy, and today's "philosophers"
    "Heresies perish not with their authors, but like the river Arethusa, though they lose their currents in one place, they rise up again in another." - Sir Thomas Browne Religio Medici (seventeenth century)

    Gnosticism, a characteristic of which is the promotion of "reason" rather than the Cross as the way to salvation (but a different salvation) was condemned by St. Paul and St. John, and rose up as the driving power behind the Rennaissance. In recent times it was embraced by Jung and Freud. In our day we see the characteristics of Gnosticism in satanic cults, occult lodges and secret societies, and New Age groups, all believing they possess special insights. After the French Revolution, Reason was enthroned in Notre Dame cathedral, Paris, and it was a prostitute who was paraded through the streets to the enthronement. At the heart of all Gnostic systems are the ancient fertility mysticisms; witness the symbol of the freemasons. In Gnostic mythologies, Satan has been re-engineered into an image of higher wisdom and enlightenment - Lucifer. "You shall not surely die because you eat of the Tree of Knowledge." The serpent tells that there is a way for the the human self to replace God. "You shall become as Gods" - plural and pagan.

    Pre-rennaissance, man's great works were often directed primarily to the glory of God, sometimes taking generations to complete. Since the time of Leonardo da Vinci, man's ego has been manipulated towards an identity that he seeks to promote - and within his lifetime. God's place has been supplanted. Today, psychology and Gnostic ideology meet explicitly in the "New Age" - the very name of which is a lie - and the various theologies it has spawned. Liberalism in the church - the rise of Reason challenging the Word - is a modern resurfacing of Gnosticism. In Gnostic systems, atonement has no meaning. From earliest times, Gnostics would not accept the literal reality of Christ's resurrection, and turned it into a metaphor, a mere symbol. The influence of Jung has permeated today's theological colleges to the extent that The Rev. Dolores S. Williams, who teaches at Union Theological Seminary in New York City (a large and prominent seminary that has been training Gnostic clergy for mainstream churches for decades), eloquently declaimed, "I don't think we need a theory of atonement at all. I don't think we need folks hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff."

    Lord, have mercy.

    July 14, 2004

    Includes passages from the writings Jiri Soukup of Richmond.

    In the final section above I have also quoted Jeffrey Satinover, from the booklet The Empty Self: Gnostic Foundations of Modern Identity, a reprinting of his lecture at the Pastoral Care Ministries Conference in Montreal, April 5-10, 1994. For his contribution as an expert witness to the same-sex marriage debate see NARTH interviews Satinover

    Leanne Payne
    Same-sex Blessings

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