Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Turquoise Room, Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday and Arguments for Homosexuality

Turquoise CollageFair Day 2006
The Turquiose Room and Mardi Gras
Some time ago, stretched out in The Turquiose Room at Gillman Village, amongst the white and turquoise beachwashed furniture, some ex-Christian friends were debating whether to take Sydney by storm for the infamous Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras or to show some love and support for the New Orleans Gay Mardi Gras.

Shrove Tuesday
PancakesIronically, much as the two are incontrovertibly linked in the modern mind, Mardi Gras did not start off as a celebration of homosexuality. The term "mardi gras" is French for "Fat Tuesday", so named because this is the eve of the Catholic season of Lent. In Catholic custom, Lent is a time for abstinence and in the old days, this meant giving up foods like meat, fats (like butter) and eggs. So Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day, was the day to eat up all the food that wouldn't last the 40 days of Lent without refrigeration in those times. Pancakes were (and still are) commonly associated with this day because making them would have used up all the butter, eggs and milk in the household with just the addition of some flour.

More than just feasting, Shrove Tuesday was (and still is) also the day for Catholics to confess their sins to the priest and receive absolution for them, Catholics believing that the priest is a necessary intermediary between themselves and God.

Angsty Gay Man (AGM), with whom I'd shared many Pancake Days in England, squeezing lemons over hot sugared pancakes, knew that.

Angsty Gay Man Explains
After we had our meal and his partner and friends had gone out for a smoke while we sipped wine indoors, I asked AGM what happened to his Christianity. Back then, he didn't hesitate to describe himself as a Christian, even on his website and always had a few bibles displayed proudly in his study. Sure, as one of his regular drinking buddies, I knew about his struggles with his sexual desires for both men and women but God's word was what always prevented him from acting on his desires. What happened?

Oo'er. Did that set him off.

Argument from Culture
You see, he said rather heatedly, traditional Christianity always assumed that the Bible condemns all homosexual acts. But the Bible writers were blindsided by their narrow experience of the world and their closeted culture. They merely assumed that every one was heterosexual and thought homosexuality abnormal. Now that we know better, with post-Freudian psychology.

(This is a misconception. The Bible writers did indeed know of the various forms of homosexual relationships. Furthermore, the biblical condemnation of homosexuality is for the reason that it is incompatible with God's created order, that of heterosexual monogamy. And, as John Stott says, since that order was established by creation, not culture, its validity is both permanent and universal. There can be no "liberation" from God's created norms; true liberation is found only in accepting them and living according to them.)

Argument from Individual Creation
I'm gay, he continued, because this is the way God made me. By coming out, by settling in with my boyfriend, I am truly reaching my potential and celebrating who I really am. I used to be ashamed, but now, that I've embraced my true self, I am liberated! God creates both heterosexuals and homosexuals. It's in our genes and our hormones. Look in any culture in the world and you'll find a gay person. Look even at the animals, and you'll find some gay ones among them.

(But the fact of the existence of these things say nothing about their normality or naturality. We take our cue from our Creator and the norms he sets for sex because he has created us. With the Creator's word as our foundation and guide, we then understand which things, in this world, because of the Fall, are perversions of his perfect created order and are violations of their own nature.)

Argument from Quality of Relationships
My boyfriend and I, he nodded towards the hulking tanned man outside, have a wonderful relationship. We've been together for 3 years, we are committed for life, we are faithful and he is very very tender and loving. [Censored: AGM's love life in Too Much Detail]. Tell me: can you find that in a heterosexual relationship? How rare is that? Maybe if I marry a mail-order bride from Vietnam or Cambodia...but nowadays, even nationality can't guarantee that. How can you say that such a precious thing is wrong?

(Jeffrey Satinover and Thomas Schmidt's books contain conclusions, based on research, that lifelong faithfulness is almost non-existent within a homosexual partnership, they being seemingly inherently unstable. Medical studies quoted by the authors also suggested that common gay sexual practices led to shortened life expectancy due to the increased risk of infectious hepatitis, liver cancer and of course, rectal cancer.

But even if we disregard what might be the biasedness of these researchers, we must admit that the quantity or quality of love (or what we perceive as love) in a relationship is insufficient to authenticate that relationship. If this was so, then God would have said that polygamy or polyandry or adultery would be permissible as long as the parties loved each other. Yet, our Creator is clear: sex is only to be had within the heterosexual monogamous relationship of marriage.)

Argument from Difficulty
Then, AGM admitted, that though he knew a lot of his friends bought them, he thought that all his arguments so far didn't really hold much water. At the end of the day, he just felt tired of having to struggle day after day with his homosexual desires. Ultimately, it was between his desires and God's words and he decided for the former. Maybe there wasn't a God, because if there was, why didn't he help him to overcome his difficulties when he was so fearful of committing what he thought was a sin at that time?

When he finally made the decision to abandon the faith of (he said) his ignorant childhood, he felt such liberation.

(Perhaps AGM's concept of Christianity was skewed. God never promised post-conversion liberation from personal struggles. In fact, those struggles would be greater as we discover more and more how fallen we are from God's standards. God did not promise a life without trials, tribulations, loneliness or deprivation. He promised the opposite: a life of more persecution (Mark 10:30). Think about Jesus and what he had to go through in obedience to his Father. Think about Paul and his lamentation in Romans 7. But it is worth persevering to the end, because at the end there is eternal life, a consummated relationship with God himself and there, true happiness and satisfaction. Blessed, says James, is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.)

Argument from Unlovingness of the Church
Besides, he waved his hands, almost knocking over his half-finished whites, his former church was so unloving towards homosexuals and kept preaching against homosexuality. He would never have been able to stay there. Some kind of Christians his old pastors and church friends were. Didn't Jesus say that we were to love one another. Didn't God say that he would welcome every one just as they were (Romans 14:1ff; 15:7)? No grace. No love.

His gay buddies were far more loving and accepting, of even his eccentricities and quirks. What a great community: they pop round to each other's houses for meals, look after each other's pets and go travelling together. There are great parties, good food, wonderful glassware, nice antique collections.

(This, says Stott again, is at best a confused understanding of the gospel. While it is true that God accepts all who come to him as they are, through the blood of Christ, because theyare unable to be good enough to approach him on their own merit, he does not condone our continuing in our sin. And so, it is true that we are to accept one another, but only as fellow penitents and fellow pilgrims. We are not to encourage each other as fellow sinners who are resolved to persist in our sinning.

Jesus' offer of friendship to sinners like us is truly wonderful. But he welcomes us in order to redeem and transform us, not to leave us alone in our sins. No acceptance, by God or by the church, is promised or to be expected if we harden our hearts against God and his word. Only the expectation of judgement.)
Pancakes - side viewPancakes - side view
My friend, I asked, what about Pancake Day this year eh? For old time's sake? Maybe we can talk about this a bit more.

He hesitated, looking out at his partner and buddies still laughing and smoking outside. No, he replied. No. I'm happy the way I am... Besides, I'll be in New Jersey. Someone's asked me to be her bridesmaid.


I. Project Shop Blood Brothers Cafe The Bible On Homosexuality (Blood Café and Whether Homosexuality is Wrong)
II. merge lane Beyond Proof Texts, Sex, God's Sex Manual and Homosexuality
III. Pancakes - side view The Turquiose Room, Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday and Arguments for Homosexuality
IV. Homosexuality, Repentance, Change and Love
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At February 21, 2006 2:29 pm , Blogger kelvin said...

Isn't it wonderful not to have the burden that AGM bears. Maybe we should all try to walk a mile in his shoes to know what it is really like to be cut off from his church. But lucky us, we can take off the shoes when we are done... Not so for him.

At February 21, 2006 3:51 pm , Anonymous Pancake lover said...

how did u take ur pancake pics? can share?

At February 21, 2006 6:18 pm , Anonymous happy said...

kelvin- i don't know if AGM's x-church is an excuse. Not sayin it is u know.

shadow- can gays become x-gays? how can people change their sexual orientation?

At February 22, 2006 8:31 am , Blogger kelvin said...

Well, let's throw the church out of the equation and put him in the middle of Utah.

btw, I just stepped on a tool that looks like a hook on a screw driver while trying to free my friend who locked himself in his bathroom.

At February 22, 2006 11:54 am , Anonymous Pancake Lover Too said...

When is Pancake Day this year?

At February 24, 2006 11:50 am , Blogger shadow said...

pancake lover: a D100, sunlight and 2 pieces of white paper stolen from a printer.

happy: there is a way out. [edit: realised it needs a post of its own!]

kelvin: oh dear! Err...(1) how did he manage to lock himself in, (2) why was the tool on the floor, and (3) how are you?

pancake lover too: 28th Feb it appears.

At February 24, 2006 5:19 pm , Blogger kelvin said...

Other than having a hole in my foot I'm fine. Felt like beening stabbed.


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