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the heterosexual agenda October 3, 2006

Posted by Brad Richert in politics, religion, science.
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We all know the Focus on the Family and the American Family Association have some great scientific evidence that prove that homosexuality is not only sinful via the WORD of GOD, but is also leading to the downfall of humanity. According to Dr. Dobson, there is a homosexual agenda to corrupt the minds of the youth, or in the very least, lead them down the sinful path of liberal society. Of course, Focus on the Family makes sure to let us know that they are the good guys and not maniacal Bible-thumpers, for in Christ’s image, we must love even the gays. Of course, these are the same people who believe that freedom means having the freedom not to be gay rather than the freedom to be gay. Well, my friends, we now have learned of the heterosexual agenda thanks to Box Turtle Bulletin.

According to the informative pamphlet, it is readily apparent that heterosexuals have embarked on a campaign against American values, perpetuating their “values” on your children while undermining the very fabric of society including traditional marriage, and issues of health and safety. Violence and criminalization of basic freedoms are becoming the norm among heterosexual peoples.

In all seriousness, I have checked out the first half of this parody, The Heterosexual Agenda, which uses the same methods as tracts put out by Agape Press, Focus on the Family, and many others conservative think-tanks that pass themselves off as Christian organizations.

Damn. I got caught up in writing this and I missed out on my bid to see the Canucks and the Oilers on the 17th.

Anyway, like I said, this parody is definitely worth checking out. The author, Jim Burroway, also includes at the end of the publication a section on how to write an anti-gay tract in fifteen easy steps, not expecting you to actually do it. As I read this 15-step how-to guide, I realized that Mr. Burroway may as well been writing a how-to guide on writing any pseudo-scientific endeavour from Scientific Creationism to searches for lost continents to eugenics. The underlying basic principle to pseudo-science is that it starts its investigations with a goal rather than a hypothesis. True science asks a hypothesis and then sets up ways of disproving it. If it cannot be disproven it may be upgraded to a theory. True science rarely uses such words as “proof” or “proven”, but instead it uses “evidence” to further the certainty of the hypothesis. This, of course, is in grade eight lay terms, but the point is that true science does not start with a specific goal that they want to prove. Pseudo-science sets up a goal that it wants to prove and will use all evidence it can find to support that goal. What Mr. Burroway does is show how these organizations use “evidences” in combination with distractions of loaded language in order to convince the reader that they can be trusted and that their view is obviously right.

These organizations have one goal: to convince those Christians that view homosexuality as a victimless “sin” that their ancient, yet completely over-emphasized, belief that homosexuality is of the devil. They do this not by by using the Scriptures, since this usually backfires, but by “proving” that homosexuality is not victimless. They do this by debunking genetic research (check out this one as well) and by attacking the social impact of homosexuality (here is one great example which an author compares Gay activism in schools to a hurricane).

The saddest thing I read on these sites is their how-to manuals to deal with the ‘coming out’ of their own children. These publications usually refer to dealing with the disappointment of having one’s child admitting his or her homosexuality. They talk about supporting their children without manipulating through their grief, as necessary as that grief is. When confrontations do arise, it must be dealt with as a problem-solution situation.

The problem, at first glace, may seem to lie only with the homosexual child, but a second look reveals family issues and relational patterns that contributed to the situation. Parents have to be willing to do several things: educate themselves on the issue of homosexuality, find trusting others in whom they can confide and share, realize it may take years for their child to repent of homosexuality, and release their child in the good care of God. – from “What’s a Parent to Do?” by Melissa Fryrear & Michele Fergueson

Educate. Confide. Realize. Release. Four small steps on how to let your narrow-minded beliefs destroy your family. Do not mind that the Bible preaches over hundred times more on gossips and slanderers, heretics and fools, than on homosexuals, because that might be a problem for the church. Imagine if the church started condemning gossips the way they condemn homosexuals?

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Comments»

1. khalidmir - October 3, 2006

Brad, I think you make some good points. Some religious people feel good by being holier than thou, by judging other people, without even looking at their own faults. But can I ask you a few questions? Is homosexuality a sin in Christianity in your opinion? (You say that scripture usually backfires in this regard and so I’m not sure what YOU think).
Secondly, whilst gossip and other things might be bad-and correct me if I’m wrong here-wasn’t homosexuality thought of as a sin against the holy spirit? That is, is it possible to think of certain things as worse than others?
You rightly talk about pseudo-science. But for the sake of balance could one not also say that some thinking in the scientific outlook rules out statements on the metaphysical as essentially ‘meaningless’ on a priori grounds?..i..e it ASSERTS that statements about such ‘objects’ cannot make sense or that we cannot ‘know’ anything of them.

2. brad richert - October 3, 2006

Within the confines of orthodox Christianity, which I do not personally ascribe to, homosexuality most definitely is a sin. My reason for the little shot about backfiring is the general use of Scripture since most Christians do not even bother to adhering to Biblical standards in any way. I could make a list, any I probably will sometime, that would show how absurd north america would look if Christians actually believed a majority of the New Testament.
Your second question gets into some hardcore theology which I have tried keeping my nose out of… but since you asked… there is only one explicit condemnation of homosexuality in the NT: 1 Corinthians 6:9 which has homosexuality crammed in with the sexually immoral, the idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, thieves, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, or swindlers all as people who will not inherit the kingdom of God. It then goes on to say that EVERYTHING IS PERMISSIBLE but not everything is beneficial. So is homosexuality some extreme blasphemy, even within orthodoxy? No.
I find your tack-on question even more theologically interesting: can certain things be worse than others? Is a person guilty of murder the same as the person guilty of shoplifting? Down here on earth, sure, of course. However, from my understanding of grace as outlined by Paul of Tarsus, no, there is no hierarchy of sins. One might ask about the blaspheming of the Holy Spirit, but that would be an extreme example that I think only would apply to outright rebellion against God, ie. Satan and his demons. The problem with having a hierarchy of sins is that it sets up a ranking order of who gets in to heaven and who doesn’t. This would contradict almost all of Jesus’ teachings. Not even the most righteous of men can get into heaven. I believe that on earth there are things definitely worse than others… most of those were included in the 10 Commandments and the teachings of Jesus’. If homosexuality is as ‘sinful’ as many right-wing Christians make it out to be, I am sure Jesus might have mentioned it.
As for the section on pseudo-science, we’re getting into messy and complicated philosophy of science and epistemology which is way off topic. I would just say that what matters is the motivations rather than methodology. The only people who are at liberty to question seemingly obvious presuppositions are epistemologists and other philosophers who end up going insane by the end of their lives. If scientists had to answer such questions, we probably wouldn’t have invented light bulbs by now.

3. khalidmir - October 4, 2006

Brad, hello. I do not know anything about the orthodox view of christianity and it would, perhaps, be wrong of me to comment on another tradition anyway.

1. I’m not quite sure what you’re saying. That there is hypocrisy and double standards is undeniable. Perhaps that is the nature of ‘the world’. But does that, should that , in itself negate the view that homosexuality is wrong or a sin? Are these not separate questions?

2. Your second point: Are you saying that there is nothing in the OT or that that doesn’t apply? I remember you saying something earlier about the laws of the Old Testament. Isn’t Romans 1:26 pretty explicit? So, again, what is your point? Are you emphasising the word “extreme”..as if to say that homosexuality is a sin but not an extreme one? Or are you saying that orthodoxy has thought of it as a sin but you personally do not view it that way for whatever reasons?

3. You say there is no hierarchy of sins. as that been the traditional understanding of it? Of the Church Fathers, say? Again, with reference to Heaven is it not said that there are many mansions? I don’t understand what your problem with hierarchy is to be honest? Why is that a “problem”? Aren’t heaven and hell in relation to eachother a hierarchy? Is it not possible to say that there is an equality in “getting to heaven” but not otherwise?

4.I don’t agree with your bias towards philosophers. Why cannot an ordinary person or a theologian question the presupposition that only science can make meaningful statements about reality? why are they in any privileged position? I tend to agree with Leo Strauss here: philosophy is bound by the Law.

5. Again, i detect a bias towards science in your answer. You could equally have said that if they had to answer questions-and why shouldn”t they?- then they may not have invented the Bomb. you may also have said that a mechanical view of relaity can and has (NOT must) lead to nihilism. As Blake and the Romantics would say: satanic mills! If you get the chance Brad, do have a look at the chapter on Goethe ‘s views of science in Heller’s ‘Disinherited Mind’.

Keep well,

K.

4. khalidmir - October 4, 2006

This is not about homosexuality but does have some interesting things to say about the ‘gravity’ of sins (section III )

5. khalidmir - October 4, 2006
6. brad richert - October 4, 2006

In all honesty I believe we are talking about two very different things and one could write a book on what is orthodox. I need to clarify that I am speaking from a North American standpoint where Protestantism is mainstream orthodox Christianity – “orthodox” just means sound doctrine (I am not speaking of “Orthodox” traditions). In Roman Catholicism there is a hierarcy of sins, but that was created through a long tradition as a result the hierarchy of power – Protestants do not adhere to either (sola scriptura, sola gratia, sola fide). The OT on the other hand, I personally do not apply, but for those who do twist a distort such passages of Sodom and Gomorrah to believe that it applies to homosexuals – not Christian problems such as lust and attachment. Your mention of Romans is interesting because of its description of the status quo – yet why not quote females shutting up in church or forced to wear hats and moderate dress? Romans does not include a specific condemnation (Ie. homosexuals are going to hell) bur rather a disgustment of the act (Ie. homosexuals are revolting) – a social construct.

As for philosophers and scientists my bias is clear because of my study of philosophy (and maybe my lack of science). I never said that only science can make meaningful statement about reality. I am sorry if I led you to believe that. I said that philosophers have the liberty to question even basic presuppositions. This means that it is their job and duty to question everything – even they’re own presuppositions. Scientists, however, cannot afford to philosophize when it is not needed for them to do so – Ie. the ball is red. A scientist does not need to inquire into the inherent ‘redness’ or how we know that the ball is red, as an epistemologist does. It can take such presuppositions for granted so they can continue their work.

All in all, I am continually trying to stick to the topic at hand. To say what I needed to say could be summed up in a few short lines. The New Testament is concerned with anti-judgmentalism and salvation of all sinners. It is better to think not of sins, but of sinners, which creates a level playing field. Righteousness does not get you a better seat – the last shall be first. Humans, however, will always fight to keep a score. They want to be better than the person next door – and religion is one of the greatest tools because you can condemn them in the next life time.

7. khalidmir - October 4, 2006

Fair points. I respect your views but to say Catholic views were the reflection of the hierarchy of power is quite remarkable. There seems little point in pursuing that line of thought or even asking if Protestantism too is related to power in a similar way.

Whether people quote things and to what purpose seems -to me at least -to be a defence mechanism (which is not to say what you’re saying isn’t correct Brad…people will always quote what they want to satisfy their own interests. But isn’t that detracting from the issue at hand?

so, there is a specific disgustment? And the one verse you mentioned-Corinthians, i think-is not the only explicit one?
May I ask in whose eyes it is disgusting in this verse and on what grounds do you say it is a social construct?

you say philosophers have the liberty ..I’m not sure about that..even Descartes would say that the infinite was *placed* in him and didn’t he have to assume that a malign demon was not deceiving him so that there was a conformity between the mind and the world? At least in certain traditions i think the view would be : I am , therefore I can think..i.e existence is given to us and we cannot posit the ‘I’ like that. Also, I think Fergus Kerr in Theology after wittgenstein is right to suggest that this idea of the mind, independent of the world or ‘the other’ is really an attempt to be like God and see sub specie aeternitatis.

Thier duty is to question everyhting?does that include questioning whether they should indeed question everyhting? Is there a point where thought, explanation comes to a limit? Wasn’t that the whole point of the Ontological ‘proof’: the need for the unconditioned…and isn’t this acknowledgement of what is not us another word for love?

what you say about science makes sense but isn’t a large part of modern thought that statements about the metaphysical are meaningless or devoid of sense? In practice, anyhting that does not conform to science and its criteria of truth are ruled out?

I think you’ve struck on something though.Science does not seem to care for or have the words for soemthing like ‘inherent’ anyway which shows-to me at least-that it will always be a partila view of reality.

Sure, but are you saying that God does not judge? And if sinners do not accept Christ are they still sinners? and what happens to them after that? Are you saying that sin is also a ‘social construct’?

well, thinking of sins and not sinners can also create a level playing field ; by focusing on the act as sinful and not the person a gap is created and I would say that is where grace can come in.

I appreciate your view about Righteousness. I come from a different tradition. What ever happened to those who enter the ‘broad gate’ and the ‘lukewarm’?

but yes, I agree with you in some sense: it is possible to think of this in terms of one up-manship.

Joke:
a sunni makes it to heaven and is shown around by an angel.
He is taken toa large hall where he sees a lot of Christians devoutly praying.
Sunni: “on no, not the Christians, how did they get here?”

and then on to another room where he sees some jews.
again,to the angel: “Don’t tell em they got here as well!”

And so on: Hindus and Shias and…

eventually he come s to a room . The angel puts his fingers to his lips and says “shh”. He quietly opens the door.

In the room the sunni sees only one sunni praying and instantly recognizes him as one of his own.
to the angle he says: “but why so quiet?”

angel: “Because he thinks he’s the only one up here!”

8. brad richert - October 4, 2006

I find myself between a rock and hard place in these arguments. I am not an orthodox Christian who takes the Bible as inerrant and infallible – thus I am not a Christian to many Christians. Each tradition argues meanings they want to argue, and I cannot continue arguing for traditions that I do not adhere to. The reason I cannot fully argue many of these points is because I am trying to state what Christians believe as if Christianity was some sort of homogenous entity – which it obviously is not. Personally I do not believe the majority of the New Testament has any apostolic authority or is truely representative of Jesus the Nazarene’s teachings. This is the reason that the Bible can be used to justify any position, since you have a conglomerate of different Christianities – from the intellectual/works perspective of James to the grace perspective of Paul to the Jewish Christian perspective of Matthew. Every text written is at least somewhat representative of the society it is written – that is unless you believe that the text is revealed via the divine. One may hold that view and I would respect it, it just is not my view. We could get into a long history of Christianities believe and don’t believe, but it all comes down to each sect believing they have the absolute truth and others do not – or that the others are misinformed or have misinterpreted the absolute truth.
Back to the philosophy argument, against I do not believe we are speaking on the same terms. I sharply distinguish between ancient, modern, and contemporary philosophers, especially when contrasting with science. Modern philosophers (beginning with Bacon, Descarte on to Locke and Kant) found themselves in a new period of philosophy because of the emergence of modern science. Everything they dealt with was a response to this new methodology. Contemporary philosophers, which I refer to, are not scientists. Scientists are not philosophers. I do not speak in terms of philosophy as some romantic endeavour, but as a job classification.
In speaking in terms of epistemology and metaphysics let us not get carried away. The liberty I speak of is due to the nature of the job. So yes, they do have to question whether they should question everything. That is the beauty of philosophizing – if you are getting paid to do it.

9. khalidmir - October 4, 2006

Brad, again I have little to add. If you say :
“Personally I do not believe the majority of the New Testament has any apostolic authority or is truely representative of Jesus the Nazarene’s teachings” then you have a view of ‘orthodoxy’ that I am not familiar with.

I like your use of the word ‘Nazarene’ and not Nazareth. Have you read Eisenmann. It would be really interesting to read a post on that.
i think one can believe it is representative of the society and revealed. As some say: the water takes on the shape of the container..but remains water. Levinas on Jewish Revelation is one of my favourite texts in this regard.

Yes, you are quite right! Everyone seems to believe that they and only they have access to the absolute truth.

If you sharply distinguish then I have no qualms. It was just , I think, that you used the word ‘philosopher’ which gave me the impression that you were talking about *all* philosophers.

I don’t understand your point about it being a job and not a vocation or what is meant by ‘nature’ in your statement. And so, there is no beauty if one is not being paid?! 🙂

Perhaps we are really talking about different ideas of liberty. I think Augustine might have called it a lonely freedom. Still, the tide is with the moderns. What use lamenting that….

10. brad richert - October 5, 2006

My personal beliefs are not orthodox, sorry. Orthodoxy states that the NT must have apostolic authority, but I personally reject that on several grounds which I will not get into here.

I have not read Eisenmann but I use the word Nazarene based on a general consensus among academic Biblical scholars (Ie. there is no record of the town of Nazareth during Jesus’ time and Jesus was probably a part of the Nazarene sect).

When it comes to differences between philosophy and science, one must distinguish between who are the philosophers and who are the scientists. Ancient and Modern philosophers (as opposed to contemporary) took on many subject matters that we now limit to science because of that faculty’s own developments. What they would have once called “epistemology” may now include what we now call “epistemology” in addition to behavioural psychology, brain mapping, genetics, etc etc etc.

The beauty (figurative speech) is that if you are good enough and have the right credentials, you can get paid to think – others can definitely be “philosophers” but eventually has to make money somewhere. I wouldn’t even have much qualms with using Augustine’s definition, but the liberty I speak of was probably much more figurative – a better word might have been somewhere between ability and freedom.

11. khalidmir - October 5, 2006

Brad, thanks fo the comments. Much appreciated even though, if you don’t mind me saying, I don’t really agree with you! I haven’t read any rorty but I did leaf through one of his books and remember him saying that philosophy turned to questions of what we can know instead of how to live.

I like what Franz Rosenzweig has to say:
“The philosopher does not permit his wonder stand as it is, to be released into the flow of life. Of necessity, he must “hook” the problem from where he stands. He has forcibly extracted thought’s “object” and “subject” from the flow of life and he entrenches himself within them. Wonder stagnates and is perpetuated in the motionless mirror of his meditation; that is in the subject. He has it well-hooked; it is securely fastened and it persists in his benumbed immobility. The stream of life has been replaced by something submissive, statuesque, subjugated.”

The solution and dissolution of their wonder is at hand-the love which has befallen them. They are no longer a wonder to eachother; they are in the very heart of wonder. Life becomes numb in the face of death and dies. The wonder is unravelled . And it was life itself that brought the solution.”

ability and freedom. Great way of putting it. But I wonder if other people have been able to ‘think’ except for (paid) philosophers? My own prejudice is to think that there has been a hypertrophy of the mind in the west and a rather unbalanced type of thinking has come to the fore rather than an integral intelligence. Freedom? I wonder. truthfulness over Truth perhaps, no? a wise man once said the Truth shall set you free…he did not say that freedom shall lead to the truth. Perhaps the difference is the obsession with ‘knowing’ and an acknowledgement of a reality that is beyond us…we see through a glass darkly.

12. khalidmir - October 10, 2006

Brad, something you might like. skip the Chomsky if you like…Fisk is on fire:

http://forum.wgbh.org/wgbh/ram.php?id=3076&size=lo


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