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THINKING ABOUT THE VATICAN GAY CLOSET

The inevitable response from Catholic critics to Frederic Martel’s In the Closet of the Vatican is that it lacks substance, he’s got it wrong about his probably 80% gay Vatican and that it’s all worth little more than gossip. While of course it’s possible Martel has got a few facts wrong, one can wonder how often in his over 500 pages. Hadn’t controversial reports since 2015 from such journalists as Emiliano Fittipaldi and Gianluigi Nuzzi made no impression or given no warning that more was present to be revealed? I wouldn’t expect the critics to consider any astrological dimension, but the guilty charge is so strong even  “the heavens declare” in this case. Uranus (anything to do with gays) is in the Vatican’s sex sector making easy trine to Mars (any men and sex) in the sector of the hidden!

Though I’m not suggesting Argentina’s Pope Francis is gay, – and Martel insists he isn’t – had conservatives never heard the common saying in the Pope’s nation of origin, “todas las curas son maricones” (all priests are faggots)? People get the idea, even if most priests won’t be as hypocritical  or on occasion blatant as some Vatican gays about their preference. Hidden, undeclared (closeted) homosexual clerics is a massive problem for Catholicism .  But Martel makes no claim that his 80% are all active. The most many can be accused of, but it’s bad enough,  is assisting cover-ups through complicit silence, sometimes reluctant, of serious scandals. That situation is surely even a reason why, when given the opportunity by an outsider (in this case a gay French writer) to just talk, so many are ready to blab to someone  used almost as a therapist or father confessor.

Before offering a few original perspectives and imagining improvements, I must emphasize what should be obvious, namely that for professed Christians hypocrisy is unacceptable and corruption more so and there’s no cure for them but repentance. Scandals known before Martel’s expose like the 2017 revelations about a top Vatican official, Msgr Luigi Capozzi’s cocaine-fuelled gay orgies iare disgusting; and it’s unpleasant to hear of sexually harassed Swiss guards and arrogant, high placed clerics using migrant male prostitutes whom they insult and underpay (others who do pay properly feel so guilty they get embarrassingly tender with them).

This said, I am neither so shocked as conservative Catholics at the given picture nor smugly assured like some American evangelicals that we are only witnessing further proof of the “end times” evil of the Roman “Whore of Babylon” soon to fall – which the Vatican might anyway do, because how much scandal bad press can any institution sustain? What  however I believe is finally coming to light is a more perennial, ingrained problem that is too often a tragedy for those involved and the result of chronic misunderstandings of theology and psychology that must be addressed, though I am not confident they will be.

Years ago in Latin America I was invited to give a talk to a group of self-confessed gay priests. It was the rather neat, pretty but queeny priest among them who took sudden exception as utterly ridiculous something I said about the book of Revelation  as regards the erotic (see the sub section “An erotic and esoteric moment” in ‘Apocalypse as a Gay Issue”. https://wp.me/p2v96G-1eT . The fact he didn’t grasp or refused to consider the rather obvious point involved, has its connection with the ongoing problem of gay priests in the Vatican and beyond it.  Because there really shouldn’t be quite such a problem with homosexuality. And what the gay Martel perceives as an irony – the strangely “homoerotic” Vatican with its images from Michelangelo including the ignudi (nude youths) painted around the Sistine Chapel alongside a clothed prophet Jeremiah a figure with whom the artist identified himself,  carries its own hint towards the solution. 

THE TRAGEDY OF IGNORANCE

But first things first. The “tragedy” I refer to is the one well represented by Martel’s lead-in story with ex-priest, Francesco Lepore. For him as for so many youths in Italy until quite recently, there were few places beyond entering orders for the more introverted, sensitive type of youth to go to hide or cure an attraction to the same sex. He might hope to self-cure through denial, or, if he couldn’t quite achieve that, as one who was often mother’s boy, he could feel the Great Mother, Mary, would always forgive him anyway. But there was often something more.

Lepore admits to how the church positively drew him towards itself through the senses, the scents, sounds, colours, the mysterious rituals and costumes in which you could lose yourself – plainly a bit like being in mother’s skirts and in parallel to the way gays almost dominate the woman’s fashion industry. And  that’s a point I take to be rather important because of things that emerged pre-Martel among the earlier revelations from Fittipaldi and Nuzzi.

In harmony with the tendency of especially people of Latin background to assume a role or pose (recall singer Madonna’s hit, Vogue, with its “strike a pose”) some Vatican clerics felt easy with being distributors of mass when dressed for the ritual, but equally easy with going to gay bars for fun nights and pick-ups once they were in civvies. Dress made and unmade the man, the personalities, their roles and responsibilities.

Something is going wrong here and it’s more than a case, as evangelicals might plausibly maintain that these priests were never remotely “born again”, because similar problems can be found among the community of the born agains too. It’s more like a whole historic blind spot is involved, one that can’t imagine being gay to be anything but (as Pope Benedict had it) a condition “objectively disordered” if not plain evil rather than in the majority of cases something perfectly natural to those involved, inborn, and even in its way vital to religion.

It is customary to start citing Leviticus 18 or Romans 1 (Protestants) or Natural Law (Catholics) against any idea of anyone being born different and meaningfully so. However, if I am not to get immediately and lengthily bogged down in answering the objections (which can be done), I must say directly that, psychologically and spiritually dominated as it clearly is by the Puer archetype, Christianity is “ascenional”. It is earth-denying and/or nature-denying more than any other faith. To that extent it is arguably the most “gay spiritual” of the world faiths with Buddhism perhaps some rival (its monks and attitudes are often quite gay),

This means Christianity is indirectly, and in some fashion that needn’t automatically affect woman’s rights (though ignorantly and crudely it may do so) against the feminine, the Dionysian swamp or raw nature. The point is well stated in Camille Paglia’s Sexual Personae which underlines the vital importance and inevitability of gay vision to human culture which is ultimately always a war against nature.

So much about Christianity is anti-gravitational, “contra naturam” – St Paul even says divine election and salvation itself are “against nature” – that just this standpoint is likely a cause, psychologically and historically, the faith sets its face against anyone or anything that, as though in rivalry, claims to be “naturally” against nature. Witness the tirade of St Paul in Romans 1 which I am quite prepared to state (as I do say in the poem and notes to A Saint’s Mistake https://wp.me/p2v96G-yS ) includes some real error and exaggeration and constitutes something Jesus never intended or would approve, something one can tell given certain hidden, unexplained facts concerning even Jesus’ original address to Paul which speak to him at more than one level. 

POSSIBLE REMEDIES

In quest of remedies for the gay clerics problem, it must of course be acknowledged there can be none at all without first some transparency, especially for those within the Vatican which is supposed to function as beacon and example for all of Catholic persuasion. It’s unholy to remain silent in the face of, say, child abuse, from fear you yourself might be outed as gay (which is not the same things as paedophile). Better to be openly gay and better far to be able to affirm the positive value of being so.

So, for a start obviously and ideally one would  simply hope that the gay priest could sooner or later be out as gay (not automatically banned from orders as is increasingly proposed) and  free to find the soul mate …..which might also be the best term for whatever partnership could be established and hopefully not changed by the week.

Gay marriage (described by Pope Benedict as “the legislation of evil”) and the drive to so-called “gay marriage equality” represents an essentially secular ideal involved with wider social movements to equality. It was originally necessitated by legal problems over inheritance and adoption. Marriage is nonetheless very much about the making of families and this is not what gay relationships are usually or chiefly about. They are friendships, partnerships, unions and should probably be called such, and in the case of priests perhaps not even too precisely defined. Who knows precisely how the unmarried prophet Jeremiah and his secretary Baruch with whom he lived might have described their connection, or again the centurion with his boy/servant that Jesus healed in what is the nearest thing to a blessing accorded a same sex union?  I don’t consider there should be any need to formalize the connection except by personal declaration. (David and Jonathan declared they had a berith, which can mean variously covenant or marriage, but the matter was purely between themselves, not subject to public ceremony). To whatever extent the priestly relation would be sexual (and I would define chastity in this case as principally involving sincerity and fidelity) would likewise be a private decision perhaps influenced by – despite everything! – such principles as St Paul’s “better to marry than to burn”.

 I say all this because I believe, ideally and usually, relationship should be aimed for and as far as possible acknowledged too because it is vitally  important not to be attached  –  as plainly many  Vatican and non Vatican clerics are attached – to the closet. This reduces life to a kind of perverse game filled with rumours, secrets, gossip and an often demeaning humour. At times it is a sort of Catholic version of Genet’s The Maids with the priest as a species of bitter drag queen rather than any representative of God. In this uncertain space whose very repressions are almost loved, objections like the Latin American priest’s can be raised as soon as eros and change are frankly broached, and Mother Mary’s pardon can be lazily preferred to any engagement in the life of the Creator. Indeed, as Martel emphasizes, some of the most ardently homophobic, traditionalist priests are the most self-indulgently gay. This truly is unacceptable, but one might have to go into the subject of the poles of pleasure and self-denial to understand how the contradictions involved might ever come about.

THE PRINCIPLE OF PHALLOS

It can be made to seem, and in the early Christianity of the Fathers, influenced not least by ascetical values of Greek philosophical thought, it was made to seem that Christianity is all about self-denial, especially where any eros is concerned. We are, after all, told to take up the cross and deny ourselves (Matt 1:24)…so shouldn’t we be denying sexual pleasure? As with so much of the bible there is paradox and apparent contradictions to resolve. Jesus also tells us to love our neighbours as ourselves, an almost impossible task if one is to hate one’s deepest, most self-defining urges. It is even easy for some to claim just this is meant if one takes the statement that if possible we should be eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven (Matt 19:12), eunuchs however being by Jesus’ time a broad term that didn’t automatically signify castrate or even chaste but instead different and out of the family way. Origen who decided to take Jesus literally and castrated himself, later believed this was sin.

It was certainly rather crazy too, but was related to the idea that God somehow disapproves pleasure and punishes those who desire it. However, as has been observed, and most recently so by would-be church sex reformer Nadia Bolz-Weber, God created the clitoris which has no function at all outside of female pleasure. So we may well ask, is it likely God would wish to deny men all pleasure?

In the post-Freudian, post neo-Buddhist world that shapes our vocabulary and expression, I think we would be well justified to understand the demand to deny our selves as meaning something more akin to denying the ego with its wilfulness and cravings, while to love our selves means not ego but our deeper, greater selves that are related to God and others. We are not meant to be pleasure addicts, but we should still love our natural being and be able to take some pleasure in its affirmation.  And men, certainly, should not, like the neo-platonically minded St Augustine, regard every sexual feeling as arrogant uprising by the flesh in defiance of a holy God.

For gay men, and even to a degree straight men (for whom the penis is a form of power, or competition and at worst inclining to just control and even rape), there has to be a new acceptance and appreciation of phallos, the physical but also, beyond it, the spiritual dimension of the phallic. Something to the effect could hardly be more stressed in the inevitably little commented, little known story of Jeremiah’s loin cloth which again I have poeticized https://wp.me/p2v96G-Hm

From the beginning of life when the Jewish male is circumcised, the phallus is made to seem of interest to God, something that belongs to and, as it were, partakes in God. What this may do and mean for women is a subject in itself that need not be dealt with here; sufficient to affirm there is a subtle danger that amid contemporary emphasis on the rights of (and wrongs done) women, a new kind of de-spiritualizing, emasculating of men sets in that is not healthy but which unexpectedly gay men and vision might even help to overcome.

Emasculation did not take place in the case of the gay Michelangelo who stands in the Vatican pointing a way out of the confusion Vatican society has got itself into. Like Jeremiah who opposed the cult of the Queen of Heaven, but unlike the Vatican gays who look to mercy from Mother Mary, for the Sistine Chapel’s Last Judgement fresco, Michelangelo’s Mary, hardly any queen, is almost cowering away from the decrees of her Son. But at the same time, beyond the wall fresco and between the depictions of the prophets on the ceiling frescoes are the twenty Ignudi, the naked youths. The late art critic, Sister Wendy Beckett, found them highly enigmatic. She couldn’t understand their function (and nor really has any art critic unless to say they represent a perfection) but I think this should not be so difficult to grasp. It is simply a complement to other tendencies of Michelangelo’s essentially gay thought and vision.

SOME NAKED TRUTH?

   

Only recently a new star tennis player, the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, shocked and puzzled fans by posting to social media: “I like me better naked….when you put clothes on you immediately put a character on. Clothes are adjectives, they are indicators….When you don’t have any clothes on it’s just you, raw and you can’t hide”.

Quite so. While the side of nudity one tends to hear about from  religion is some version of a “naked and ashamed” theme, this isn’t the only side the scriptures present, and neither is the “just sex” meaning that a secular world gives to nudity by contrast. The prophet Micah, for example, declares “I will go stripped and naked” (Mic 1:8).  There are a variety of functions and meanings to nudity (I interrogate this subject in Naked in Thessaloniki: Riddle and Signhttps://wp.me/p4kNWg-fD), but what is certain is that the prophetic tradition that the Vatican tends to downplay in favour of its rituals, is a rather nudity-as-truth one.

It is psychologically and symbolically correct that Jeremiah and Isaiah (another “naked” seer) should be set among the ignudi. It’s all part of the same thing: the clothed and the unclothed psychologically complement one another and interact; and in many respects nudity as for the ancient Greeks is a male, not a female theme. As a point of symbolism, it is male nudity that symbolizes “truth” because the male genitalia are exposed, exterior to the body, “solar”, not hidden as for females and “lunar”. Woman can symbolize truth as beauty, but truth is not always only beautiful. A mixture of Christian and secular values have rendered art and Hollywood and Playboy’s display of women natural in a way it traditionally wasn’t and spontaneously, symbolically isn’t. Put on an event like the World Naked Bike Ride that is legally able to dodge the “indecent exposure” charge and there will be more males, often gay, in attendance. Throughout nature it is the male of the species is colourful and/or exhibitionist.

At the risk of more self reference, I would point to the message of a chance realization in my poem Baroque https://wp.me/p2v96G-IS  It is based on an experience had while in Sicily where I visited a church, not without charm and power of a kind, but ultimately oppressive in its highly ornamented style (like a weighed down, over-decorated wedding cake – the pic below is not the place in question but a typification). Because I didn’t care to sensationalize,  I didn’t outright state the chief thought  prompting  the piece. This was the feeling upon stepping outside into a sunlit square, of an imperious need for a kind of renewal by just light, sun, and endless sky being naked to which would be like a  baptism in its own right. Enough to say the poem which ends

The point of reception is here, now, even
This temple, the body; with this I greet change.

carries  more the thought of the second image than the first.

   

The statement is a purely personal one. It doesn’t belong with any programmes queer or other encouraging people to disrobe inside or outside of churches to protest something. However I would say that, just as Martel found some of the most rabidly homophobic Vatican clergy were the most actively gay, I am suspicious of those gay clergy and some non clerical gays  who too readily deny any real value to eros for their own or anyone’s condition and so treat nudity as little more than something else to ban, and little more than an aspect of modern pornography.

What dismissal of the erotic as part of the gay equation (which is taken up instead with rituals of the closet) can mean in real terms, is a flight from reality and change. It can accompany a disappearance into Mamma’s, or Mother Church’s or Mother Mary’s skirts, with a whole idolatry of clothes and ceremony  at the expense of a more “naked” and abrasive “male” truth. And  this must sometimes be pursued if there is ever to be reform. The ignudi as symbol of truth, change and perfection got painted in the right place.

 

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GOD AND THE GAY GAPS IN MATTHEW VINES’ VISION

GODVINES   VINESTALK
[In the wake of the Sochi Winter Olympics’ gay controversies and a week before Sydney’s Gay Mardi Gras parade and with renewed expectation of draconian anti-gay legislation being imposed in Uganda, this seems an  appropriate time to air the following thoughts………..Readers of this article may also be interested in my related article of 24th April, The Fatal Flaw in the Matthew Vines, Albert Mohler Gay Debate  at  http://bit.ly/1mHDclQ ]

GOD AND THE GAY GAPS IN MATTHEW VINES’ VISION

No matter what Matthew Vines says in his much anticipated God and the Gay Christian, (due out April 26th) and no matter how well argued to the satisfaction of gay Christians and their supporters, it won’t get much beyond arguments favouring acceptance. Gay theological biblical exegesis does not normally, if at all, answer certain charges that conservative Christian critics and homophobes continue to level at gays like the Spanish Cardinal who recently insisted that being gay is like having blood pressure, a curable “defect”. Uganda’s president has now signed in the most extremely oppressive homophobic laws happily convinced that since homosexuality is purely behavioural it is curable and therefore apparently  uncured persons are culpable.

THE CURE OBJECTION

As long as there is only just a handful of individuals who feel able to describe themselves as “cured” of homosexuality (or at least able to bear offspring and manage the heterosexual family life) it will continue to be said that having chosen a ‘lifestyle’ gays can choose to get out of it. And, then, like some devil’s curse shadowing gays and undermining their theology, there is the postmodern, amoral or morally indifferent queer theology which looks to the queer theory inaugurated among bisexuals and that emphasizes precisely choice.

One doesn’t need to be religious to point to the negative effects of queer thought for gays and their situation globally – Gilles Herrada’s The Missing Myth (2013) written from a humanistic standpoint regards it as “crippling“ and a disastrous denial of authentic gay consciousness. The related theology, as in the case of the late bisexual shock-jock theologian Marcella Althaus-Reid’s Indecent Theology or The Queer God, can produce statements so recklessly, blatantly profane, (chapter and section headings like “Leading God by a Dog Collar” and “God the Sodomite”) that Christian conservatives are inevitably confirmed in their worst fears and prejudices. And if sex imagery isn’t the problem, then the theological one is that a limitless queer inclusiveness leaves you with a Jesus who either is, or is best friends with, Krishna, Kwan Yin, Buddha etc. (Althaus-Reid privately revered the Egyptian cat goddess Bast).

I even find it a trifle intellectually dubious, (though it’s PC enough), that Vines titles his forthcoming book God and the Gay Christian at the same time as he claims to be representing and helping to improve life amid intolerance for LBGTI people. Though gay is by far the largest constituency of the sexually marginalized to consider, it will never be possible fully to accommodate the claims, needs, worldviews, spiritualities etc of those not gay to any gay theology. The others will need to establish their own theologies and some have, and in this connection and before proceeding I will add another non PC statement that should be mentioned and got out of the way.

Whether or not the famous and notorious statements of St Paul in Romans 1 about same sex engagements (of whatever sort) owe more to pre-scientific notions of sex or refer to the recreational bisexuality of the Roman imperial decadence – Paul speaks of persons “exchanging” the natural way – there is no question that bisexuality will always present the biggest problem theologically. It does so not simply because its claims could entail effective right to adultery by any other name, but because it’s just possible that a misread bible anyway always had its main sights everywhere from Sodom to Rome on a distinct type of bisexual. One cannot entirely ignore for example how one theologian who passes for gay but admits to bedding various women, has written at some length of having the hots for various saints and angels (he’s always been especially keen on the Archangel Michael) which even if he’s only half serious about it, is nonetheless the sort of thing according to Jude 1:7 the men of Sodom were said to be guilty of in lusting after “strange flesh”. (I only know this because one sickened gay Catholic gave me a relevant book thinking I might be interested for at least reference purposes. The frequent disconnect between gays and bisexuals is a non PC subject, but it’s real enough).

So, the core questions are:

  • Who or what is a homosexual – someone born or made?
  • If born, what is a homosexual for? Which invites the question
  • If the bible is said to defend, or at least not single out “homosexuality”, why does it not provide (or does it?) what’s most needed. This, as Gilles Herrada’s The Missing Myth demonstrates, is the equivalent of a necessary “myth” which cultures always require if they are to be gay tolerant. (For Herrada a myth is supplied, but only negatively, by the Sodom Story).
  • And what about Jesus? Did he really teach and believe there was only Adam and Eve, not any Adams and Steves to be married? What about gays and ethics?

These are not easy questions, but I will briefly supply some meaningful clues of a kind which deserve consideration yet which despite my qualifications don’t have it due largely to an almost jealous, exclusivist American domination of the gay spirituality field. As half America knows, a conflicted Matthew Vines left Harvard degree studies to explore the bible on gay issues for himself (for two years!) and has set up The Reformation Project to help render churches gay affirming. Over a decade ago I obtained a world first doctorate in gay spiritualties from any religious studies dept anywhere, subsequently described on publication (as A Special Illumination, see http://amzn.to/17b8z1b)  by Professor Martyn Percy of Cambridge as including perhaps the best work on gay theologies to date. But from the assumed backwater of Australia I have remained as unheard and unanswered by Christian theologians and gay Christians, Vines included, as is on the other side of the fence America’s leading anti-gay theologian, Robert Gagnon. He likewise complains of being unanswered. (In my own case, only three or four publically committed gay Christians have ever contacted me!).

“Blow blow thou winter wind… ” as Shakespeare has it. But I have long ago got over the personal feelings of exasperation and resentment about this to the point today I rarely even concern myself with gays and their issues, but I still regret the situation relative to the kind of abuses that need to be known and protested. Today we are faced with the prejudices and campaigns that are rampant from Africa to Russia (where neo-Nazi vigilantes seize gays or even those who look like gays to torture, film and abuse them as paedophiles) and now in China (where electroshock and porn  are being used on gays to cure them) and all to an astonishing degree influenced by beliefs or campaigns of originally American evangelical inspiration (bit.ly/1aS92pe)   one of whose false teachings is the identity of paedophilia and homosexuality.

While American gay Christians, (like American gays and American Christians more generally) expect to take centre stage, they can be parochially minded when it comes to the real needs and situations to be addressed internationally. The Family Research Centre is even defending Ugandan policies on the hysterical basis homosexuality is worse than murder (one of their justifications for this deriving from  ideas of the fourth century Bishop St John Chrysostom, the almost-single handed inventor of Christian anti-Semitism and the secret engine behind much of the tyrannies and pogroms of the Russian Orthodox churches over the centuries). If secularists reined in the FRC people, doubtless they would scream persecution, the kind of thing which, as stressed in my recent article Christo-Fascism or Christo-Humanism? (wp.me/p2v96G-kB ) doesn’t help the internationally, genuinely persecuted churches one bit.

What is crucially needed today is really powerful theology, not gestures like a Cambridge University flash mob same sex kissing to protest Russian attitudes and Sochi, the sort of action that variously inflames or trivializes major issues. So to repeat..the questions are:

1. What is a homosexual? The question is theologically vital if, as might seem according to some Bible translations, St Paul declares no “homosexuals” will enter the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor 6:9). It’s a debated, technical question just who and what Paul referred to (male prostitute may well be implied since beyond all questions of etymology he may well have had in mind the Leviticus ban whose primary reference was to sacred prostitution); but not only did the ancient world have no catch-all expression like “homosexual”, but even today there can be misunderstandings around the word. So the verse as popularly cited is not as meaningful as some imagine. And even if improbably it were, one would need to ask why conservative Christians aren’t pursuing, or as in Russia letting violent vigilantes  pursue, others Paul mentions in his list echoing the vice lists of pagan moralists, like thieves, idolaters, drunkards etc.

If Christian conservatives and modern homophobes insist gay/homosexual equals “sodomite” and hence only chosen acts and “lifestyles” rather than psychology, then they have to answer persons like entertainer Stephen Fry who, as in his TV inquiry into homophobia Out There, insists that gay is about same sex love and that he and many gays never even practiced sodomy and by and large even ancient Greece didn’t. (It is however a staple of porn, something Fry conveniently ignored but shouldn’t have since unfortunately Ugandan churches and politicians have been showing and judge “homosexuality” almost wholly by precisely porn).

So let’s say “homosexual” means a person mainly or exclusively same sex attracted both as regards feelings and spontaneous eros. This obviously is not the same thing as being a male prostitute and if, as gay theologians claim with some reason, Jesus was confronting a same sex relation in the case of the centurion and his “servant ” or “boy” (doulos, pais) then their kind of homosexuality wasn’t like prostitution. Accordingly no one need find a contradiction in the fact that Jesus could be accepting and Paul not since they were not dealing with the same persons or issues in the first place.

2. Is homosexuality innate? For conservative Christians there is no justification for homosexuality because it’s not innate but only a choice. Of course there has been a choice of sorts, namely to accept as fundamental for the self what is known or suspected, and most gays vaguely sense their orientation from their earliest years. Pro and con on the born gay issue has however become largely reduced to finding an elusive gay gene or tracing the effects of certain patterns of rearing. As regards genetics, things are not conclusive (though just this month report from Illinois’ North Western University is that scientists have found two stretches of DNA they think are linked to homosexuality and suggestive for a gay gene). Studies on rearing are not conclusive either, but even without looking at too many statistics, one must absorb how eccentric mothers dressing their sons as a girl during infancy as happened for Oscar Wilde and the Austrian poet Rilke, only had contrary effects if one assumes nurture should have effect, since one turned out a homosexual and the other a Don Juan. Vines like most gay Christians has emphasized there was no abuse or anything wrong with his upbringing. But for conservatives, if homosexuality can’t be explained by known science or defective rearing it must be an illusion if not a devil’s lie itself. But should bible believing Christians be so demanding of proof in this way?

If they bothered to listen to what Jesus actually said, they would know he assumed some persons were “born” different, such as eunuchs from their mother’s womb (Matt 19:12). What did he mean and how should he or we be allowed to know what he meant without evidence of a “scientific” kind? It happens that by Jesus’ times among Jew and Gentile alike, the eunuch word was the nearest expression to being born different, out of the family way and hence the nearest thing to our gay word. It was an ambiguous, fluid term used in many writers but apparently rather as “confirmed bachelor” once indicated unmarried while also being widely used as a polite circumlocution for gay. Eunuch could include celibate, but it didn’t automatically mean either that or castrate (and would one be castrate from the mother’s womb?). And why would Jesus emulate the eunuch status? If one allows the psychological dimension, then one good reason would be for the outsider consciousness that attaches so strongly to gay people. The disciple is meant to be an outsider to “this world”. Ideally believers should all be slightly gay! And this is meaningful since I would maintain the innately gay person is so for primarily spiritual rather than physical reasons anyway.

But if people are born gay because the condition is primarily spiritual, then “proof” for that difference might be expected to belong more to the spiritual/esoteric order that few know or care to examine, a point I can return to. In passing however I must concede that even accepting a born gay principle, one might have to allow it is still possible the trauma of especially child abuse could function as a gay imprint. Drug and alcohol addictions by dissolving normal boundaries may also drive people in gay or bisexual directions not necessarily desired by them. I have noted that persons extremely claiming gay cures seem to be people with a traumatic past or serious addiction problems. Some ex-gays may be bisexuals opting for one side. Also lesbians appear a little more open to cure than gay men if only because women have always been more sexually adaptive than men. Whatever….”cure” is rare and attempts at it can prove quite harmful; but something like cure may apply in special cases–well conducted therapy may be little different from assistance with sex addiction and addictions of any kind. But none of this argues against the innateness of “average” homosexuality.

3. Assuming the condition is spiritual, where is the myth/symbolism/story that would justify it biblically? Where is there even any given purpose to being gay anywhere in the bible? Vines maintains authentic gay relations though not forbidden are not addressed either. What for Herrara is the crucial biblical myth, but negatively, is the Genesis Sodom story which, however, only assumed its popular negative status under the influence of the Alexandrian philosopher Philo in the first century just in time to distort many Christian attitudes with its poison. Philo reinterpreted Sodom against Roman and Egyptian society in which gays were (somewhat, sometimes) accepted – albeit study will show that pagan moralists could be dead set against such as “effeminates”, one even sure they deserved to be bashed in the streets which sounds like a familiar problem. Formerly the Genesis story was not read in Philo’s bad almost paranoid gay way (he even believed the infection of sodomitical desire would depopulate cities!) and it can never be read his way with any integrity. The men of Sodom lusted after “strange flesh” (angels) according to Jude and were plainly rapists of bisexual potential if Lot reckoned to offer them his daughters. Ezekiel doesn’t even mention the gay theme.

It is often felt the story of David and Jonathan who made a covenant berith (word interchangeable with marriage) represents biblical gay interest, though it is almost more by way of a bisexual idyll. As I suggested in Cosmic Father: Spirituality as Relationship (bit.ly/14UK5r6) which includes examination of the oddness of the leading prophets, the true if hidden biblical gay story belongs rather to Jeremiah.

ABOUT JEREMIAH

Against all social expectation this prophet is forbidden to marry (and doubtless as well for him and women since he can hardly be said to celebrate women anywhere!). He lives with his secretary Baruch and is delivered from his prison by a palace eunuch favourable to him. Like many gays his psychology is evidently dominated by the Puer archetype – he originally tries to avoid the divine vocation by declaring  “I am only a boy” (Jer 1:7), a youthful self-image out of harmony with the world of tradition bound rabbinical grey beards. The prophetic sign and image of the undergarment representing Israel which should cling to God as the garment does to the loins (Jer 13:11) can only be considered, daring, controversial and homoerotic from a prophet who relates to God rather homoerotically, even at one point accusing God of as good as raping him (Jer 20:7).

Jeremiah is classically gay in being radically futuristic – he alone teaches the advent of a new covenant (Jer 31:31). About the only thing that’s ungay about Jeremiah is that he isn’t given to celebration but to lamentation, but then in the ancient Middle East ritual lamentation was itself a gay/eunuch function. Jeremiah is a depressive, a depressed figure from an age of widespread major tragedy. His life nonetheless exemplifies what gays are for. Precisely to be outsiders, protesters, witnesses to what occurs and prophetic in relation to what will happen. Gays are well known to be trend setters in many fields. The trouble with America’s gay Christians is they are too often outsiders craving to be insiders. The drive to marriage somewhat belongs to this. (The refusal to consider any “esoteric” perspectives on homosexuality such as I sometimes propose, may itself belong with the same respectability urges directed upon realms of academe!). The fact however that homosexuality is innate and a purposed destiny for society is even suggested in the case of Jeremiah that God had consecrated the prophet before birth (Jer 1:5), suitably a eunuch from the womb theme again.

ABOUT JESUS, MARRIAGE AND THE CHURCH

What about Jesus (who was compared to Jeremiah by his contemporaries)? What were his opinions about homosexuality? It is often said that he never  mentioned the subject, but quite apart from the likely encounter with the gay centurion who wants his lover healed (Matt 5: 8-13), there is the Sermon on the Mount which arguably confronts homophobia. In the section on anger as this leads to violence and murder, Jesus says that those who say “Racah, You Fool” are in risk of the hell fires (Matt 5:22). Why so – doesn’t everyone call someone fool sometimes?! Fool is however the Aramaic Racah, something like slang for “effeminate pervert”. In short, it looks like the gay person is Jesus’ representative symbol of all the racisms against all the outsiders hatred of whom can lead to murder itself. And the fact that the potential anger/murder engendered by the attitude is deemed unacceptable by Jesus, tacitly cancels out, or at least undermines, any traditions and Levitical laws which would support precisely anger, prejudice and even judicial murder for those involved. Capturing the sense without referring to Matthew’s text, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin reflecting a growing split in the Catholic hierarchy towards African style policies to gays has recently stated “anybody who doesn’t show love towards gay and lesbian people is insulting God” and that they are in fact “Godphobic”..

My recourse to this perspective marks a revisionism some would not even consider because they believe Jesus declared for marriage as being for one man and one woman according to the Edenic model (Matt 19:3-9). Such an interpretation of the text nevertheless amounts to little more than proposing no variation upon any main theme should ever be divinely or humanly permitted (something a species of American conformism does tend to  assume and which if universally accepted could destroy the life of the arts everywhere!). But although American evangelicals like Africans seem to work on some “Me Tarzan, You Jane” notion of sex and gender not countenancing what the French call a “third sex”,  plainly some kind of variation is possible and was manifest in even Jesus’ ancestor, David, who was (perhaps for political reasons) a polygamist and bisexual too. Plainly the bible does not limit everyone to single partnership in every possible instance. What it disapproves is swapping those same partners around (i.e David’s concubines wouldn’t have affairs on the side with his friends) or divorcing someone specifically to take up immediately with the latest attraction.

Jesus himself is surrounded by images of marriage to the Church, yet that same “marriage” will be to both sexes, while he himself is identified with both Logos (Word, masculine) and Sophia, (Wisdom, feminine). Then too, the classic relation of master and disciple/believer as traced in John’s gospel is, to be frank about it, like a Christian variation upon the classic Greek/Platonic outline of the relation and ascent to truth of the younger to the older lover into whose being the disciple is incorporated. And need I state that certain Jewish Christians like Bishop Hugh Montefiore and Canon Paul Oestereicher have proposed that by some definitions and obviously primarily psychological ones, humanly Jesus himself might today be thought gay. Centuries ago St Aelred of Riveaulx, bolder than many modern theologians who won’t touch the subject as I well know – I should perhaps start to out all the theologians too  inconsiderate even to acknowledge any comments, theories and inquiries in this vital area! – maintained that Jesus lived with John as though in a state of marriage.

Aelred was of course thinking in highly spiritual terms and we do have some grounds to question whether the Jesus of even John’s love gospel would think the “marriage” word entirely suitable for same sex relations whether referred to himself or others. Wouldn’t fellowship or union do? (It is debated quite what certain medieval marriage of brethren ceremonies meant and whether, and to what extent, they covered for homosexuality; but evidently some churches were once more flexible around marriage and unions than they would become in more recent centuries). “Marriage equality”, currently the mantra and driving force for change, is a secular concept, its claims furthered in the context of the operation of contemporary laws it wants to change and benefit from, but which don’t necessarily take the gay difference seriously enough. The centurion and his boy, like Jeremiah and Baruch, are simply persons who live together and perhaps across a major age divide not akin to that of most heterosexual marriages and less likely to last a lifetime.

On the other hand, within the Hebrew bible, but influencing all Judaeo-Christian ethical perspectives even down to Paul on prostitution, a person can be deemed “married” to another if they have had sex with them regardless of any formal celebrations of union and regardless of whether they even think of themselves as married or not. By that standard one might need to assess and define the ethical and marital status of gays according to the kind of sex they engaged, (like was it fully penetrative?), and whether, whatever was done, it could have the same esoteric/spiritual effects as heterosexual contacts anyway. (Esoterically and as far as especially Asian mystical traditions are concerned, promiscuity leaves traces that muddy the aura or soul body which is what blends with the other and “becomes one”, and it’s just possible Jewish purity laws and attitudes to marriage imply assumptions of this kind).

GAYS, PLEASURE AND PORN

Matthew Vines wants lifelong committed relations for gay (Christians) and essentially discounts any other contact or relation. Many heterosexuals, Christian and other, would think he was asking for the moon especially as they regard gays as merely promiscuous and recklessly so. And there is sometimes truth in that even while, to their discredit, American Christians ignore how much their historic and ongoing marginalization of gays has helped promote a situation in which common standards and social rituals are easily ignored.

If the reader of this article, who probably doesn’t follow porn, cares to go to such as ecody.com, which has been in the news because an 18 year old college boy, Robert Marucci, was suspended, and then over protests reinstated because he had appeared on that site and in a porn film to pay family bills, they can have an education in gay porn in a nutshell from just still shots.[Since I wrote this the site appears to have been closed down in the wake of the scandal]. Sometimes there are just college boys smiling but also pix of orgies, threesomes, easy sodomy (with controversially some barebacking which is hardly a good example to the young come out!). It will seem to many, especially straights, the effect is merely loud and crass, lewd and crude, even if according to Marucci and his supporters, his own contribution was “nothing but a job” (something sex can never quite be short of degenerating into prostitution).

I am not against ideals of fidelity, and unlike some more radical gay and queer theologians I am not about to speak for promiscuity and porn as such, but I do aim here to draw one or two possible conclusions from and about them that are outside the range of common (heteronormative) assessments.

Especially if they are Christians the (heterosexual) response to images of gay abandon  – some even find just gays embracing abandoned! – is that in the same way as straights should restrain their impulses and avoid adultery, so should gays. Since however straights are not gay this can amount to an imposition of values based on sex relations almost universally and spontaneously experienced as a proverbial “war of the sexes” with men being from Mars and women from Venus. And this “war” leads to certain agreements with a sense of mutual possession with which infidelity cannot easily cope.  Much hetero sex is moreover necessarily about achieving or avoiding procreation. Gays are at least potentially and, beyond love, about sex as just pleasure.

Gay sex generally is confronted with objections akin in spirit to those that impose genital mutilation upon women in homophobic Africa and because the clitoris has no function except pleasure. (The fact of the clitoris, like the fact that foetuses in the womb have been observed to masturbate, is an indication that sex need not and cannot be defined solely in terms of procreation). But the heteronormative attitude is that because straights wouldn’t and shouldn’t do certain things, absolutely gays musn’t. Yet if gays are genuinely different, differently wired (and often operate in different social situations) should not ethics be centred on who they are and what they can be? On the basis that most gays will not be enjoying benefits and pleasures of family life and offspring, should not straights be willing to concede something to any alternative gay pleasures or arrangements?

Though gays would be wiser to reject a merely pornographic abandon (even safe sex is not wholly safe and there can be long term psychological consequences to just using people and sex) if they are not strongly feeling types the reality is that gays more than others will be able to celebrate sex as just pleasure and usually be less possessive about it. I believe moreover that if gays play on the boundaries and in often exhibitionist ways, paradoxically that could be because gay is primarily a spiritual condition. As such it will often be compensated by an emphasis upon the originally half-doubted body plus, because it seems so many gays will have been adverse to sports in childhood, there may be some adult compensation in terms of physical play. Even at that, I still believe it would be advisable, whether for Christians or others, to contain and perhaps almost ritualize what depends on a gay difference and like even ancient Greece accept that not just anything goes. But I still think we must question the kind of judgements heteronormativity so easily directs upon the spectacle of homosexual activity and relating.

THE ESOTERIC PERSPECTIVES

Matthew Vines was inspired to study gay theology because he sought to justify gay relations and marriage. The inspiration of my own studies was to understand gay spirituality the better to understand what it would mean if, as I already suspected was the case, Jesus himself was actually by at any rate some definitions, gay, indeed even needed humanly to be so to be more incarnationally, humanly representative for both sexes, Logos and Sophia together, a female soul in a male body. (I have of course never suggested nor ever would, as one vulgar Australian newspaper years ago had it, that Jesus incarnated to have sex with his disciples!).  The “homosexuality”  of the historical Jesus would obviously substitute for any missing but toleration necessary myths!

Although I believe the question of Jesus’ orientation humanly could be certified from just the bible itself properly read, I have compelling reasons more esoteric to support that. I have not  so far emphasized  this point which I only add by way of conclusion because of the hostility surrounding the evidence just as it stands, let alone anything it might tell us about Jesus’ orientation. The data involved nevertheless combine in a way so millions to one against chance improbably to support a gay Jesus thesis that the evidence cannot and should not be too lightly dismissed.

In the earliest days of gay rights in nineteenth century Germany, gays were called Uranians after the newly discovered planet Uranus that astrologers observed to be variously emphasized in the birth patterns of gays as of anyone seriously different and unusual (consider “crazy” solo-ascent rock climber Alex Honnold. b.17.8.1985 with Uranus fortunately trine his Mars) and paradoxically notable homophobes – the mentioned theologian Robert Gagnon (b.31.7.1958) has Uranus conjunct his sun, so that gays or opposing them belong with his identity! Gays are not heterosexuals from Venus and Mars as per some bestselling pop psychological writings on sex. The nature of Uranus just by itself will help explain many facets of gay  behaviour and attitudes, and since the affinity of Uranus is with Aquarius, the era on which we border, homosexuality and its rights have naturally become a subject and will increasingly be accepted no matter what conservative Christians think, say or do about it.

It’s true we stand at the end of the age of Pisces that  Christ’s birth introduced, but the new more “out” gay/Aquarian trend is not, or certainly not negatively, the “apocalyptic symptom” that the overbearing head of the Russian Orthodox Church, (who should instead be condemning neo-Nazi gay bashers), has recently called it. And though I don’t really go along with ideas of a so-called Lukan “gay apocalypse” (which as at Luk 17:34″  appears to speak of two men being in one bed, not an unknown situation in traditional societies), I suppose one could – just – argue against the likes of Patriarch Kirill and conservative Christians that Jesus assumed the aion‘s (era’s) end would be one in which it was accepted men would be in bed together. If so, one would note Jesus doesn’t object to that, only to spiritual unpreparedness – after all, if one partner is not taken by the Rapture, the other is not so innately gay sinful he can’t be taken!

Whatever…one of the more “esoteric” ways that help define the gay fate and soul is the astrological. My blog of last December explains and justifies what I am saying and doing as regards that subject (wp.me/p2v96G-kB)….or it will to those who can actually permit the study any place in theological discussion, which despite Magi associated with Jesus’ birth many can’t do. It’s liable to get placed along with homosexuality as another abomination! Anyway, if you haven’t read and considered that material, for the moment suspend disbelief about the idea that Jesus’ true birth data, and still working for Jesus events to this day, are discoverable and ponder only a few things which, at least cumulatively, the data points to. Consider too that outside some kind of strong argument for the alternative nature of Jesus himself, the experience of years would suggest conservative religious prejudice can scarcely be broken or even addressed……

JESUS FROM BIRTH.

1)      Mercury (“ruler” of Jesus’ birth pattern) conjunct Saris (Eunuch) and Born. Yes, Jesus was himself born a eunuch from his mother’s womb – he tried to tell his disciples that, but like most Christians they weren’t listening (except perhaps Peter who saw Jesus looked on a  young man and loved him Mk 10:21).

2)     San Juan (St  John) in the house of relationships. Yes, St Aelred wasn’t far wrong.

3)     The Part of Homosexuality conjunct the Part of Spirit and the asteroid Boda (Sp. wedding). Again St Aelred was more or less right and it’s unlikely Jesus would be too hostile to gay marriage even if he were to define a different rite and values for it.

4)      Isa (Jesus) trine The Part of Homosexuality.  Yes, Jesus was likely gay in some fashion.

5)      The asteroid Raca in affliction (adjustments to be made) aspect to The Part of Homosexuality. Yes, Jesus was offended at the kind  of homophobic abuse so often dealt out to people including and especially by religious people.

6)      The asteroid Centurion conjunct the gay asteroid Gaily.  Yes, the centurion and his boy was  a gay relation.

I could go on, but instead I will add just one crucial fact from my Pentecost chart for the birth of Christianity in AD 30. Again it’s something millions to one against chance, but it constitutes a datum that in its awkward, peculiar presence seems to carry both a message and a warning.

7)      Asteroid Uganda opposed by of all things Kato. David Kato, a Christian advocate of gay rights was murdered in his home after he threatened to sue a paper for issuing personal details in a way liable to invite violence upon him in the wake of church inspired vigilante attacks upon gays in his fanatically homophobic country. (Its president in the very week scientists think they are on the track of the gay gene vows finally to sign for draconian laws against gays that he said he wouldn’t do if scientists could prove homosexuality was innate – like many African Christians he also wants to please and appease a gay intolerant Muslim lobby who want sharia directed upon gays. The most recent news this weekend is he is still waiting for more scientific evidence) .

But the heavens are pointing an accusing finger long term and anyway the Sermon on the Mount gave due warning about the kind of hate-filled and violent behaviour American Christians have been giving Africa and Russia excuses to pursue. (Ironically – and the criminally silent and now neo-Nazi tolerating Russian Orthodox Church hypocritically ignores it – it was precisely the Russian church which for centuries was almost notorious in Europe for the extent of  its toleration of gay relations among priests and laity, while the African churches peddle the rank lie any anthropologist can explode that homosexuality has never had a part in traditional African life).

I am not suggesting all gays are martyr-victims or saints or always right in what they say and do, (and I could  wish the kind of San Francisco gays who engage the likes of profane Hunky Jesus contests at Easter could be made to see how much they sin against thousands by increasing and justifying religious fear and prejudice  worldwide with their completely  unnecessary behaviour). But instead of automatically sending all gays to hell, let the fanatics consider there could be more risk to themselves. It is they who are fast becoming the “abomination”. Their attitudes are displeasing to God and badly need revision. Many feel that the Church of England says too little and gets much wrong, but its new Archbishop is surely not incorrect, biblically and just humanly, to declare that Christians must repent homophobia.

PS.  REGARDING  Robert Gagnon, AND GETTING  CRUCIFIED

I feel bound to comment on a couple of quotations from Robert Gagnon getting cited on Twitter this week of  writing my article when  I chance  to have been troubled by information sent me regarding a gay African in a violently homophobic society. He is now frightened even to attend church because of the ridicule and accusations directed at him and  – obviously in bad need of counselling – declares he feels utterly confused and like garbage God should have destroyed rather than have permitted to be born. He wishes he could meet Jesus to ask why people are born gay.

In his reasonable and academic enough Introduction to The Bible and Homosexual Practice (2009) Robert Gagnon declares he deplores attempts to demean the humanity of gays and opposes any kind of violence against them (even though in fidelity to his faith as he sees it he also maintains homosexual behaviour as an “inexcusable rebellion” against God’s created order). However, quotes of Gagnon  available on the Net for everyone  include: “Jesus would be the person you would not want to gravitate to for an argument about  ‘I was born that way’. He really does not care whether you are that way because he’s asking you  to die to yourself, to crucify yourself and lose your life”.  He also says “Human passions are notoriously unreliable indications of God’s will”.  Undeniably the African gay has been so well crucified with Christ and Christian theology of Gagnon’s kind he can’t think why  he’s alive. Is that what Gagnon wants and Jesus intended?

Jesus’ statements  about being crucified are couched in the absolute and very  physical terms typical of his native Aramaic which had expressions like “cut off my nose if I lie”. I accept believers cannot merely avoid the message of Jesus’ severer words which most essentially is that the Old Adam, the merely selfish self is to be denied. However Jesus also talks about giving the life abundant and there is no abundance where the self cannot begin to flourish because it lacks meaning, centre and  direction. For mental and spiritual health there must be some self-esteem and even self-love (does not Jesus himself also state, “love your neighbour as yourself”?).

More vital than even social acceptance such as gay theology à la Vines desires, is gay self-acceptance. Our passions can indeed be unreliable, but not wholly. What and who we love will, like the aesthetic sense, always be some indicator of our nature and so it is dangerous to just pluck up and dismiss the root of the gay self which can entail  a “Uranian” gift of perception affecting many aspects of life, a vocation in itself to be understood and even cultivated. If there is a wound in being gay, there is or can be also a joy. (Perhaps we should speak of “the agony and the ecstasy” of being gay?!). Unless and until the churches can realize this beyond mere toleration and acceptance,  no matter what some may say and  how much they try to wash their hands of certain responsibilities, the bullying, the violence, the draconian laws and the intolerance which we see sweeping across parts of the world will continue unabated as will also a certain contempt in the West for a religious faith that can’t manage basic issues in any positive and charitable way. A profound revolution of consciousness and theology is required.

[For a lighter, satirical treatment of the gays and religion theme in especially the American context but with a meaningful gay theological conclusion, see my poem a Songs of Puritania on a Gay Theme at: http://bit.ly/16ybdts]

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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