Evolving to extinction happens

It’s widely believed that Social Darwinism was a temporary evil that died out with racial eugenics after the Holocaust woke the world up. But there is one Social Darwinist whose ideas have managed not only to survive that setback, but to conquer the world. I refer, of course, to Alfred Kinsey, who would have rejoiced to see America’s official redefinition of marriage this week, as a fitting culmination of his life and work.

Perhaps Kinsey isn’t often thought of as an Evolutionist (though he too was a eugenicist), but in fact he researched the phylogeny of gall-wasps and wrote a textbook on evolution before he deviated, as it were, into sexology. The theoretical foundations of his teaching on sexuality were, according to his biographer, more truly Darwinian than others who saw sex purely in terms of reproductive adaptation (and homosexuality as a facilitator of kin selection, for example). In contrast, he saw human sexuality as different from the animals in being only secondarily to do with reproduction. His case was bolstered, I guess, by co-opting bonobos as our closest relatives because of their sexual behaviour, rather than chimps because of everything else. This explains, for example, his relaxed attitude to abortion:

I should like to disclaim the implication that biology puts a purposive interpretation upon the function of sex….In consequence, if one wants to define the function of an embryo, the function of reproduction, one must identify the definition as philosophic…I finish as a biologist by denying that biology would justify the use of the term “biologic function” for every embryo that happens to get implanted in a uterus.”

The comparison with bonobos, like much evolutionary tale-mongering, requires some intellectual agility. Bonobos’ interesting sexual habits occur throughout the species and serve, it is said, vital social functions. But the human sexual behaviours Kinsey sought to justify as “normal” and “healthy” were those that have been proscribed across most societies as socially destructive, and that were mainly illegal in his own. This reality had to be explained as anti-evolutionary to account the aberrations as adaptive. But it was persuasive because the appetite for such a view of sexual appetites pre-existed Kinsey’s “scientific” justification. As C S Lewis wrote:

When I was a youngster, all the progressive people were saying, “Why all this prudery? Let us treat sex just as we treat all our other impulses.” I was simple-minded enough to believe they meant what they said. I have since discovered that they meant exactly the opposite. They meant that sex was to be treated as no other impulse in our nature has ever been treated by civilized people. All the others, we admit, have to be bridled. Absolute obedience to your instinct for self-preservation is what we call cowardice; to your acquisitive impulse, avarice. Even sleep must be resisted if you’re a sentry. But every unkindness and breach of faith seems to be condoned provided that the object aimed at is “four bare legs in a bed.”

It’s been known for many years now that Kinsey made his case by the simple expedient of skewing and falsifying his data, in general terms claiming that 95% of American males engaged in illegal deviant activities. Specifically he extravagantly exaggerated pretty well every measure of abnormal behaviour in order to define them as “normal” by their fictitious prevalence, and to account them “healthy” by dint of their normality, given that society was seen to be working well enough. There’s a lot of stuff out there on this; most notorious is his reporting of exclusive homosexual orientation at 10%, a figure that has continued to frame the debate in society to this day. It’s actually closer to 1% in the best-controlled studies, even now it is legally promoted protected.

Similarly well-known, and influential, is his “continuum” of seven stages (0-6) from exclusive homosexuality through to exclusive heterosexuality, a continuum I was taught as fact both at Cambridge and at Westminster Medical School. This would, of course, make stages 1-5 correspond to varying degrees of bisexuality. But in fact, nearly every good study shows bisexuality to be twice as uncommon as homosexuality, except amongst more evolved, boundary-pushing celebrities, apparently. 5/7 of the continuum occurs in just 0.5% of the population – a suspicious statistic.

But equally false, and arguably more pernicious, figures pepper his work, such as that adulterous affairs usually strengthen marriages (most studies have shown the reverse, if it wasn’t already obvious), that few rape victims suffer real harm and, most reprehensible of all, that children as young as 3 months can, and often do, enjoy multiple orgasms.

Regarding the last, critics (who presumed to question the scientific authority of the consensus of sexologists!) began asking, after several decades during which Kinsey’s work was used uncritically to decide court cases and form legislation and social policy, just how the sexual responses of small children had been measured. It was discovered (with some difficulty) that the information came from one or more serial paedophiles, whom Kinsey had not only interviewed without reporting their abuse, but had urged to do further “research” in their chosen field. When it is understood that Kinsey interpreted fainting, screaming or striking the “partner” as evidence of infantile pleasure, the depravity of his involvement becomes truly shocking. But this particular work led to the widespread assumption, still peddled today whenever “healthy sexual activity” is taught to schoolchildren, that children are actively sexual from birth.

Kinsey’s myths are now so deepseated that, even decades after their fraudulence was exposed, they are still the prevailing wisdom. For example, when in a pastoral role I was called to help deal with an individual who was found to be abusing a male child, his self-defence was not simply calculatingly manipulative (as we’re led to believe so often), but founded on a thorough acceptance of the influential science of Kinsey. He reminded us that 10% of our church members were secretly homosexuals, he warned us that our own time would come (since we were, statistically, likely to be in the 95% of males with illegal proclivities), and he assured us that the victim would certainly not be harmed by the experience. Pure Kinsey.

It should be clear by now that any evolutionary explanation of human sexuality was, shall we say, “deeply influenced” by Kinsey’s own sexual deviancies, and those of his team. He was a sado-masochistic, self-mutilating promiscuous bisexual, and British anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer from early on called the Kinsey Reports “propaganda masquerading as science”. As such, it is not only valueless science (even if some of it happens to be true), but thoroughly antagonistic to the broadest concept of creation. This is true in its religious tone, for Kinsey was a militantly anti-Christian atheist, often said to be in reaction against his Methodist parents but no less biased whatever their supposed faults. But it is also true in its destructive effects on life, which I want to document a little from my own limited experience in an ordinary medical career.

I remember lectures on gender identity in Cambridge Social Psychology in 1973, in which I was taught (and long assumed it true) that gender identity is primarily gained from assigned gender. In retrospect, I find that was state of the art research from a disciple of Kinsey, John Money, who after 1967 claimed great success in redressing the mutilation of a two year old boy from a botched circumcision by castration and re-assignment to the female role, including female hormone therapy. The Wikipedia entry describes the actual tragic outcome, and also the paedophilia of Money revealed by the hapless victim, but I never heard of it till now. Personal testimony isn’t science, you see, so it doesn’t get into the journals. Now how many of my Cambridge sociology peers, do you suppose, went on to roles as clinical social workers or academics deciding the futures of children in the light of what we were falsely taught?

Money went on to co-found the gender clinic at John Hopkins University, which pioneered “gender reassignment surgery” for transexualism, though that hospital later abandoned it in the light of poor results (though only much more recently has long-term follow-up study revealed the twenty-fold increase in suicide after such surgery). Given that “gender dysphoria” was even rarer than bisexuality by at least an order of magnitude (though Paul McHugh, for 40 years Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at John Hopkins, decribes how it has actually mutated and grown as a condition largely as a result of the public legacy of Kinsey and Money) it may be surprising that an ordinary GP like me saw the ill-effects of this management. But I did.

McHugh says that gender-reassignment surgery became a purely private, non-University, affair after John Hopkins and other public units abandoned it. That may be so in the USA, but for reasons unclear to me, it remained the accepted treatment in the British NHS. The mainstream press here, and maybe in the US too, recently blamed Christian parents for the death of their teenage son because they discouraged him from such surgery, so somewhere the message hasn’t got through… or else someone has a vested interest in promoting the alternative. But in my own limited practice I knew one patient whose life was completely ruined after gender reassignment treatment at a London “centre of excellence”, for all their counselling expertise. He sought (impossibly) reversal of his surgery, became hopelessly confused and at least attempted suicide – I’m not sure if he ever succeeded.

Another patient of mine also sought referral for for gender reassignment. The system required that this go via our local psychiatrist, who found himself unable to refer to the same “centre of excellence” because of changed local funding priorities. Now, the patient therefore didn’t suffer harm from surgery. But because of the assumption, from Kinsey/Money style science, that mutilation, hormone therapy, speech therapy and other behavioural training to change the body to match the belief is the correct way to deal with this problem, the psychiatrist never considered the alternative – treating the troubled mind. I knew the patient well enough to have some good idea why his mind was troubled. Even if the psychiatrist had considered psychotherapy, the profession has tied up the theory so well that it would have been considered malpractice. So there was no treatment at all – though the surgery is still happening to others, and somehow is regarded differently from the female genital mutilation we’re trying to stamp out in other people’s cultures.

I could add personal experience of many hundreds of other victims of Kinsey science. His research was instrumental in liberalising abortion (he lied about the prevalence of illegal abortion, and about the involvement of the medical profession, and the legislators here as in the US believed him. in the US they also believed false testimony in the two test cases here  and here. Those women I met in my consulting room with inconsolable regrets (like the one who told me she’d thought about her aborted baby every day for twenty years – did that contribute to the onset of her multiple sclerosis, I wonder?) usually wept in secret, because the professions, and the public, united in telling them they’d done the right thing, when they knew they’d done the wrong thing. Funny how they could invariably be wrong about that, whilst transsexuals are inevitably right about being born in “the wrong body”.

We set up a counselling service (against initial opposition from officialdom, until they saw the good results) which is still attracting clients two decades later. But it was closing the stable door after the horse bolted, because abortion is now a third generation normality for those with a “healthy sex life” – and is still increasing, despite every kind of freely-available contraception. Somehow the whole population got to believe Kinsey’s dehumanising claim that “biology would not justify the use of the term ‘biologic function’ for every embryo that happens to get implanted in a uterus.” It no doubt helped the momentum when Kinsey’s clearly erroneous use of the word “embryo” was replaced with today’s “zygotic material”, “ball of cells” or “potential life.”

But that can’t be the whole story – I just have to mention the request for social termination I received from a girl who said, “I know it’s murder, but I think it’s the best thing.” Was it me who was morally confused?

Sexually transmitted diseases increased exponentially during my career, and several new ones appeared, including AIDS, whilst the old ones gained resistance to antibiotics because they got so common. Chlamydial sterility was always hard to explain to patients, especially when it resulted from one holiday fling. Treating it was expensive and, often, heartbreakingly unsuccessful. Genital papilloma virus became endemic in my lifetime, as would the consequent cervical carcinoma if an expensive screening program hadn’t kept abreast of it. But all this is generally considered a small price to pay for “sexual health.”

Kinsey’s one notable lack of success was in selling paedophilia as normality. There was an inconvenient public backlash, and we currently have in the UK an unravelling of historic abuse cases involving thousands of damaged individuals and, notably, celebrities like Jimmy Savile, who was an evil man – though it would seem he abused fewer children than Kinsey’s main “researcher” did. But though history is being airbrushed by the media to paint the perpetrators merely as isolated and depraved individuals, there seems to be a concerted attempt to distance paedophilia from the rest of the progressive sexual agenda.

Yet Savile was a member of the Paedophile Information Exchange, an advocacy and lobbying organisation that was quite open about its aims to lower the age of consent to zero, and traded in children’s souls in its small ads. It had a number of prominent members (it remains OK to scapegoat academics, politicians, churchmen or policemen as perverts, as long as they’ve died. Otherwise, attempts to pursue investigations are still, in most cases, stonewalled to protect the powerful). But more importantly PIE was openly represented on government policy bodies, and was part of the Civil Liberties coalition. The Gay Liberation Front, too, had a paedophilia branch, though that seems to not to be such a matter for Gay Pride now – in fact, it seems to be forgotten.

After a number of years, a few politicians and journalists caused trouble, which resulted in a public outcry and PIE being driven underground. But why was such an organization welcomed into public life in the first place? Not just because there were some child-fancying old men in Parliament – though there were – but because Kinsey’s work was accepted as legitimate by academics, up to and including the policy makers of the WHO, and children were just another instrument of the same concerted attempt to overthrow the sexual values of society and replace them with the values of those like Kinsey. Jimmy Savile was living out the evolutionary theory of the academics – or so he would be entitled to say in self-justification.

Kinsey was an early advocate of sex education – and you’ll understand now why, to him, that meant giving children maximum information about sex as early in life as possible. In some contexts it’s called “grooming” – another thing I saw in my time as a police surgeon, as it happens in a family I knew whose children were rendered vulnerable by their mother leaving to find authentic relationship outside her marriage. Sex education was sold as the antidote to Victorian repression – though headlines in today’s papers still report on how Britons don’t think they’re getting enough sex. Repression seems pretty resistant to liberation, even for the grandchildren of the sixties generation.

Early in my career I visited a social services home for troubled teenage girls run by social workers presumably trained, as I was, in Kinsey-science. In retrospect it was almost certainly an abusive child-knocking shop – the director himself told me, as a nubile inmate brought us coffee, that they made sure these girls, so unsuccessful in other walks of life, would at least be successful sexually. I was young and naive, and considered it simply misguided to encourage immorality – but now I wonder whose sexual success was really being promoted. But the management policy was no secret – it was inspired by the science that still fuels the moral changes made to our society. No other kind of science is even possible now, because having defined all sexual practices as normal, it has become unethical to investigate their causes as if they were pathological. That would, in today’s world, be a hate crime against minorities.

Meanwhile, those who, for whatever no doubt pathological reasons of their own, refuse to believe that this science adds up either in evolutionary terms or in practical terms, look at society and see that, far from improving, nearly every measurable criterion related to sexuality has worsened, be that divorce rates, abortion rates, child abuse, or their consequences in broken familes with their emotional, educational and financial costs. It’s hard to have been born in the wrong society.

Children, being now less repressed, are supposedly sexually healthier. Those targeted by their teachers or by celebrities still, in a reactionary way, consider their lives ruined. Why, even my own patient, who had been seduced by her older step-brother as a young teenager, perversely saw it as abuse rather than as healthy experimentation – but then she was a troubled soul with chronic depression for obscure reasons that were, obviously, entirely unrelated.

Granted, many kids as young as twelve are now addicted to pornography. But pornography’s healthy and natural too – if you don’t count the teenage participants pressured into what they consider unnatural acts for natural and healthy money, or the disadvantaged Asian girls trafficked into the Western sex-trade. Granted, many of our British teenage girls have been pressured to send sexually explicit photos of themselves to their healthily-sexualised boyfriends in what is called “sexting”. It’s probably only natural (and of course healthy) that the boys in turn publish them online, or blackmail the girls for sexual favours…

Need I go on? If I sound negative, and less than polychromatic in my celebration of our freedom, it’s because over a medical career I saw countless lives damaged by a big lie, and that big lie has continued to flourish and to define the very nature of our corrupt culture. It even coloured the manner in which we democratically tortured prisoners in Iraq. It’s a lie perpetuated by the intelligent, the powerful and the influential and, increasingly, by the state. I’ve seen my own country perverted, and its timeless moral values destroyed and called evil, and I’ve seen my country seek to export that perversion around the world like some kind of twisted gospel mission. Maybe you’ve occasionally felt the same. Maybe you should.

The problem is, who is left to reform a society when our institutions and all of us within it have become corrupted by the lie to one degree or another? If history is anything to go by, purgation will indeed come, but from outside, at the hands of those who hate our corruption even though they are worse than us. Ironically (perhaps even appropriately) our enemies’ perverted addiction to death also arises from willing exposure to oft-repeated falsehoods. Such correction may prove to be a very blunt instrument. Or if not, as Ruth Graham said back in 1965, God is going to have to apologise to Sodom and Gomorrah.

Jon Garvey

About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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24 Responses to Evolving to extinction happens

  1. Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

    A good, related, post by Ed Feser here. Makes a good comparison of the current madness with a prevailing belief that we are living in an artificial Matrix, and why though it’s incoherent it might sound more rational than the truth.

    Consider once again your situation as you try to reason with Matrix theorists and rebut their increasingly aggressive attempts to impose their doctrine via economic and political force. Suppose that as you look around, you notice that some of your allies are starting to slink away from the field of battle. One of them says: “Well, you know, we have sometimes been very insulting to believers in the Matrix theory. Who can blame them for being angry at us? Maybe we should focus more on correcting our own attitudes and less on changing their minds.” Another suggests: “Maybe we’ve been talking too much about this debate between the Matrix theory and commonsense realism. We sound like we’re obsessed with it. Maybe we should talk about something else instead, like poverty or the environment.” A third opines: “We can natter on about philosophy all we want, but the bottom line is that scripture says that the world outside our minds is real. The trouble is that we’ve gotten away from the Bible. Maybe we should withdraw into our own faith communities and just try to live our biblically-based belief in external reality the best we can.”

    Needless to say, all of this is bound only to make things worse. The Matrix theory advocate will smell blood, regarding these flaccid avowals as tacit admissions that commonsense realism about the external world really has no rational basis but is simply a historically contingent prejudice grounded in religious dogma. And in your battle with the Matrix theorists you’ll have discovered, as many “same-sex marriage” opponents have, that iron law of politics: that when you try to fight the Evil Party you soon find that most of your allies are card-carrying members of the Stupid Party.

    • GD GD says:

      Hi Jon,

      “…. that iron law of politics: that when you try to fight the Evil Party you soon find that most of your allies are card-carrying members of the Stupid Party.”

      Spot on, could not say it better.

      • Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

        Well yes, GD: particularly one thinks of those denominations and individuals now manoeuvring to fall in line with the new thinking and stay comfortably onside with the culture.

        In fact that new thinking was arrived at by a completely different process from that of reason, evidence and revelation (as I outline in the OP), on which the Christian moral framework developed. So at best “Maybe they’re right” is actually saying “Our whole way of approaching truth is to be jettisoned in favour of the methodology constructed specifically to destroy it.”

        Since they’re not likely to admit to abandoning reason, evidence and revelation, they end up saying “2+2” or “5”, but never admitting that they’re making one equal the other.

  2. Merv Bitikofer Merv Bitikofer says:

    “one thinks of those denominations and individuals now manoeuvring to fall in line with the new thinking and stay comfortably onside with the culture.”

    Speaking as a member of one of those denominations who (at least in its local permutation here) seems to be doing just that …

    I find Feser’s comparison to be a bit troubling when he accuses opponents of the “progressive” trend as being mostly “card-carrying members of the stupid party”, just because they are nagged by doubts. We could be accused of being non-courageous, perhaps, or unwilling to stand up to societal fads of the day …. also very troubling and pejorative labels. But I don’t think we are all stupid (or at least not necessarily on this score of waffling on positions. –maybe otherwise…)

    One thing that Feser leaves out of his Matrix analysis is that to make the comparison more realistic, he would need to acknowledge that early pushers of this alternate Matrix reality did not necessarily want to embrace that theory and felt no external pressures whatsoever to accept it (much less push it) and tremendous pressures to keep it under wraps, sometimes driven to suicide over their internal desperation. And then as it did start coming out, strident defenders of reality persecuted and relegated Matrix believers down to second-class citizens at best. And out of this persecuted history, these “Matrix believers” band together to find mutual survival/support, and using their “under-dog” card, are propelled into the formidable, and now in their own turn imposing force they’ve become today.

    As Anabaptists who have historically shunned formalized creeds (being hunted down and killed by well-creeded peoples –we’ve found that to be a singularly unimpressive endorsement for whatever it was their creeds were supposed to be doing for them) we tend to have a weakness for the “welcoming in the outcast” approach. Now; that is not a completely valid comparison either I realize; they want more than welcome, they want sanction, endorsement, affirmation of any sexual practices currently trendy in the world. Not the same as merely refraining from persecution, I realize. But the line between “denying membership/fellowship” (obviously we haven’t entirely adhered to our ‘creedless’ stance over the years) and outright persecution is questionably thin.

    Are we right to “marry the spirit of the age” and allow trendy sexual fads to all become endorsed lifestyle by the church? Probably not. Are we right to sentry our walls against those who nevertheless do live in ways that are not now traditional? That seems to be a separate question to me, and with an answer entirely its own.

    All this said, I do appreciate Feser’s solid philosophical groundings (and yours too, Jon). I share in your criticism against (rejection of) all the so-called medical findings that turn out to be a thin veneer over some practitioner’s depravity, and the tragedy that taints scientific pursuits for generations afterwards.

    Abraham Lincoln, I think it was, who once made a comment reacting to those who would throw open the doors of compromise in the name of drawing more people into the tent … “It may well be that more would leave through those open doors than would come in.”

    I may be at peace with that, actually. It could be that our small, fragmented status (while not the aim of those who purport to be “progressive”) might actually be a return to strength. Anabaptists have been there before and it ironically may have been when we were at our strongest. Am I a coward for not standing with my traditional views of 20 years ago? Or am I stupid, on Feser’s assessment? It could be both, but the former I think might be the more likely. Call it a taste of blind trust in the Spirit to see us through all our self-important meetings and creedal debates and then on the other end do something with it all that turns out to be of God despite our best efforts. Even though I fear the coward label more, I should actually probably prefer to be called a fool, as long as it is a fool for Christ.

    • GD GD says:

      Hi Merv,

      I understand the general topic is wide ranging, but regarding sexually abnormal choices and what constitutes a family, we do not have a history of persecution (although some communities have shunned and avoided homosexuals). Nowadays an enormous effort has been undertaken over decades, where immorality and sexual perversity has taken centre stage – the aim has always been to render such practices normal. The West has indulged in great deceit and Jon has outlines a few such instances. I have tried to understand why these extraordinary changes have occurred in this way, and simply put, I think life has been greatly devalued by the carnage from WWI and WWII – and the endless conflicts that we witness today.

      It is this devaluation of life and loss of meaning that will continue to plague this world, especially the Western world of materialism. Seeking a solution to this appears hopeless – but trust in God can be a good first step towards a beneficial change in the future.

  3. Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

    Merv, as you say “But the line between “denying membership/fellowship” (obviously we haven’t entirely adhered to our ‘creedless’ stance over the years) and outright persecution is questionably thin.” But there is a distinction – as there is a distinction between compassion for suffering, and endorsement of a practice (or still less, the re-definition of a holy estate).

    Over the years I’ve not been short of contact with those of various orientations – some of whom (like the paedophile in the OP) have, perforce, to deny the fruits of their orientation – at least until somebody decides the age of consent can be safely lowered, when perhaps compassion will overtip the balance again. It was a lifelong struggle for that man after he repented: would a change of the law have been better?

    I’ve had homosexuals in my house group, pastored lesbians, taken part in an in-church conference on sexual oriantation and practice, had patients die of AIDs, masochists die of asphyxiation, young teenagers lured to the city to be groomed by older men (to the grief of their parents)… all difficult situations, just as are wife-swapping, kids getting into drugs, pastors addicted to alcohol, etc, etc. So far I’m unaware of any sado-masochists applying for church membership, but presumably it’s a question of time before someone starts services to bless whips – I don’t think there’s a proof text against it (but then, as Feser says, some things wouldn’t have needed to be said, once).

    But still, the question for the churches is, “On what principles do you base your teaching?” If avoiding creeds means avoiding theological rigour, and the leading of the Spirit just happens to lead the way the world is going and against the leading of the Spirit to previous generations and in other cultures, then something does not compute.

    It troubles me when churches say, “We’re not yet ready to accept …” whatever the issue might be – not just same-sex marriage. If it’s in God’s word, they should accept, with alacrity, in tears of repentance. If not, they need clearly to embrace God’s wisdom, knowing that even Jesus said it was different from the world’s.

    If the world challenges ones doctrinal presumptions, then return to the Word and see if ones interpretation was wrong (NOT whether the words can be stretched to a new interpretation): such is the case when science suggests the earth is older than once assumed. But to be persuaded ( or worse still, to anticipate being persuaded) by the accumulation of concerted media campaigns and political momentum, based on a quite different agenda of wisdom, and then to reinterpret the Bible like a flying trapeze show, is dishonest. (Specific example: on a blog comment this week, when “God created them male and female” he was referring to the male and female in each one of us. If so, he’d obviously been unduly influenced by Kinsey’s “spectrum”).

  4. Merv Bitikofer Merv Bitikofer says:

    GD, you wrote: “we do not have a history of persecution (although some communities …”

    Homosexuals may beg to differ with you on this one, historically speaking in the U.S. anyway … maybe diminished (but not eradicated) in recent decades due to powerful media campaign efforts.

    Jon, you wrote: “But there is a distinction – as there is a distinction between compassion for suffering, and endorsement of a practice …”

    There is also a difference between acceptance into full membership, and endorsement of everything that particular member stands for (even openly).

    ” If it’s in God’s word, they should accept, with alacrity, in tears of repentance. If not, they need clearly to embrace God’s wisdom, knowing that even Jesus said it was different from the world’s.”

    I’ve heard a Biblically compelling case made that indeed the former of your two options appears to be the actual case at hand for us (though the latter needs be true in any case and does not, of course, exclude the former as you have them worded.) Three times Peter sputters … “But God … it’s clearly written in your Word… ” And three times the sheet is drawn back up into heaven as God gently instructs him “do not call unclean what the Lord has made clean.” And with that Peter went and ate with Cornelius and his cohort of unclean gentiles, probably leaving a host of broken Biblical laws in his wake. And what a mountain of laws he could have pointed to, I suppose … not just a sporadic proof text here or there about what is an abomination. Yet all of it … blown out of the water in an historical moment by the Spirit. Peter relapsed of course, and had to be confronted by Paul. Old habits die hard. But down through history we come to places we’ve already forgotten in our cultural memories. In the 1880s people were aghast that anybody might propose having a bathroom toilet inside a church building. The Word of God is clear on this (Deuteronomy 23 I think —all defecation is to happen well *outside* your camp if you want to stay in God’s good graces.) Not in your camp, and certainly not in your holy place! Of all the abominations. You all may sneer at this as ludicrous, but our Bible-minded forbears weren’t seeing the humor. They were probably too busy denouncing the infidels who would dare suggest something that God’s holy Word so clearly militates against.

    And so when we come to present day issues and must make choices between relationship and law; between Christ or the Pharisee; between Spirit or creed, we dare not dwell on the latter, especially if it obscures the former. It isn’t that the former options are lawless … far from it. They embody a law of love that does something the the latter options are powerless (without the former) to do. So it is in this context that I am forced, perhaps with tears and repenting, to try to see my homosexual brother or sister differently than I have. And I don’t for a moment doubt your tender love toward all the same Jon, given your vastly greater experience with these people. I’m just trying to retrace recent steps of my own faith journey here as much for my own recital benefit as for anyone else’s.

    And regarding my noisy criticism of “creedalism”, I do full-well realize that there is no such thing as a creedless religion since deliberately being creedless would itself be a creed. So I’m playing fast and loose philosophically leaving a trail on which those like Feser almost wouldn’t know where to start because they would see so many holes in it. In fact some early Anabaptists I believe declared that the entire New Testament (or entire Bible) is our only creed — which far from being creedless, it is in fact the opposite extreme. But as careless or inconsistent as we have historically been about this, there is a real and substantial criticism of our perennial human condition to codify the Kingdom of God, and (I think) a well-warranted suspicion of that activity when it happens. While we frantically slam and bolt doors, Jesus is busy inviting thieves in by the back way.

    • GD GD says:

      Merv, by history of persecution, I mean systemic, legally endorsed, such as suffered experienced, for example, by Jews and Negro slaves. My experience with outlooks towards homosexuality has been that we would avoid such practices because we do not accept that as normal – it is a far cry from hurting or killing homosexuals – on the latter point, the law punishes anyone who hurts or kills another human being.

      I cannot follow your reasoning re the Bible and Peter’s dream – as you know the next event was a righteous man visiting Peter, who finally understood that it is the goodness of people that pleases God. To use your reasoning, what would Peter have said if a practicing homosexual had come to him saying he willingly practices this and wants Peter to join him and to teach others such practices are acceptable? Peter would have condemned such a person.

      There is an enormous distinction between not accepting practices that are clearly and unambiguously identified as debauchery and perverse, and denying the righteous acts of people because of colour of skin or nationality. That we now have such boundaries blurred, and even Christians are unsure on how to deal with such obvious distinction, is a horrific aspect of present day civilisation.

    • Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

      Merv

      I think the arguments have been made, so won’t reply in detail. But I do want to pick up on the Peter/Cornelius case, because it is entirely different from the present situation – and more so, I think, even than GD replies.

      The key thing is that, at that one point in history, Christ broke the barrier between Jews and Gentiles by opening the Kingdom of Heaven to the latter. Prior to that, Israel had been called as a unique and separate people (hence the food and all laws that differentiated them from others) to be a beacon to the nations for God’s sake.

      The tendency of Israel to forget their priestly role and despise Gentiles was sinful (as Jesus himself indicated), but that isn’t the main issue here. It was that Israel’s King and Saviour was being declared to be, by a thrice-repeated and hence firmly determined vision to the chief apostle (cf Gen 41.32), also the King and Saviour of the Gentiles. God had now pronounced the Gentiles clean, because provision had at last been made for their cleansing – they had been (Acts 11.19) granted “repentance unto life”. Peter actually describes it as God’s acceptance of all “who fear him and do what is right”. They are accepted to be changed from sinners to righteous.

      It’s worthwhile musing on what, apart from God’s final purposes for mankind, made the difference, and perhaps the most revealing passage is Isaiah 49.5-7: the sufficiency of Christ’s salvation is so abundant that it cannot just be restricted to the Gentiles (and hence even the land of Israel has to be enlarged, vv19-21).

      The Council of Jerusalem made it clear that Gentiles could come to Christ as uncircumcised Gentiles, not as proselytic Jews. That’s the answer to the toilets in church question – which in any case, rigorously applied by those 19th century casuists, would have forbidden them not only from churches, but from towns.

      Even so, the Council of Jerusalem, accepting and rejoicing in God’s new work, laid down co-existence regulations for the Gentile believers: that they abstain from food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from strangled animals and from blood.

      That this was not simply slapping Old Law on New Believers is shown by Paul’s later commentary on some of them: he explains to the Corinthians why meat offered to idols is nothing in itself but yet a potential cause for sin. He treats sexual immorality in depth at various places, showing that it is a moral, not just a ritual, issue.

      There is nothing whatsoever in the New Testament to suggest that the Law had been harmfully prudish in its sexual ethics – on the contrary, Jesus made sexual purity appear more unattainable than ever in his marriage teaching, and taught that sexual relations would be abolished in the age to come (thus showing that sexuality (perhaps unlike gender) is a secondary, not fundamental, part of our nature). John the Baptist was even killed for telling King Herod that his marriage to his brother’s life was not lawful, thus spoiling their right to an authentic loving relationship, etc.

      So to be parallel to the vision of the sheet, one needs to ask what new cleansing act of God has, after two millennia, made both the NT and OT teaching obsolete, pronouncing all sexual activities “clean” as claimed by the Prophet Kinsey, and what unmistakeable vision has been given to the Church, to be ratified in a General Council. There were three Kinsey Reports, I believe, but that’s not the confirmation I had in mind.

      • Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

        One more thing. In the UK, where same-sex marriage became law last year, the only churches that were in support of it were the Quakers and the Unitarians, neither renowned for their theolohgical rigor, which is reflected in their combined membership of <25,000.

        All the other denominations Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant; evangelical, mainstream and liberal; state-established and radically independent – all were opposed. And one should remember the Jews, the Muslims and other religious groups too, but it's the churches that concern me more. They had reached their position after consultation with their best theologians, their expert committees, their philosphers, medics and pastoral workers, as well as their laities and leaderships, over a long period of time, given that the gender issue has been around for decades now.

        Their position last year is now a matter of historical record.

        Now, suppose in due course we find denominations beginning to come out in favour of the change. They will no doubt argue the case from Scripture as some homophilic scholars have long done, as well as arguing from compassion, equality and the leading of the Spirit.

        But what will be the single thing that has changed in the interim? Simply that he law of the land has changed. It would be foolish to disregard that marginalising fact, together with its emotional influence on public opinion, as the major impetus for the change of doctrine. In this case correlation would look very like cause.

  5. Merv Bitikofer Merv Bitikofer says:

    GD, I realize I didn’t adequately address your point … and partly because I wasn’t sure who the “we” is that you said has no history of persecution. I would agree that here in the U.S., racial minorities have faced much more horrendous and enduring persecution through history and still now as well if one examines our prison population. I haven’t actually researched how many homosexuals have been killed just for wearing that identity. Given the news it makes when it happens, I suspect it never has been widespread here in my lifetime. It is worth remembering, though, they were slaughtered along with Jews in the Holocaust. And of course the “softer” persecutions of job denial, marriage license denial, church membership denial … and so forth shouldn’t be dismissed just because they may fail to impress us next to other atrocities.

    Regarding your later paragraphs, I certainly agree.

    • GD GD says:

      Merv, I am not sure that you have a valid point. Proponents of homosexuality have used every deceit and propaganda to pursue their agenda, and one approach has been that of your “softer” persecutions. Jews, Gypsys, coloured people, and anyone who seemed to oppose Nazis, were mercilessly slaughtered, along with anyone else Hitler did not like, which included homosexuals. The latter however populated the Nazi party and were actively destroying other people – hardly a persecuted lot. I have never seen an application for a job that required stating your sexuality, nor has marriage been an issue until recently – and Church membership? it sounds like belonging to a club. A person is part of the Church that Christ established by virtue of the fact that he/she are called, repented of sins, and with all of their strength, avoids sin and perversity. Would your church welcome a murderer or wife beater? would you say you are persecuting such a person if you refused him membership to your church?

      I restate my original point – homosexuals have pursued relentlessly an agenda to normalise their practice, and they have not finished. I am reminded of a book (discussed by others, I have not read such rubbish) which appears to have been written for the sole purpose of showing an adult male displayed authentic love for a young child, and this was lauded by these people as the type of sexuality we should all understand on the subject of genuine love.

      • Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

        GD

        In terms of lobbying strategy, I understand that after the Stonewall riots PR consultants suggested that the best longterm strategy was to paint a consistant narrative of a persecuted minority, and for all opposition to be consistently portrayed as bigoted oppression. Hence the ubiquity of the buzz-word “homophobia”.

        One still sees that in the whole media agenda: it’s exceptionally rare to find any other type of news story on the matter, even though experience shows life is more complex than that.

        The contrast with paedophilia is noteworthy: in that arena (since the public backlash), the narrative is always of the cunning and evil pervert, and nobody is in the least interested in stories about their being persecuted in prison, hounded from neighbourhoods and their sexual orientation given no legitimate expression, even though that happens all the time. It’s the love that dare not speak its name (now who said that? Oh yes, a convicted paederast now publicly rehabilitated as a persecuted victim of homophobia).

        Yet paederasty and paedophilia have been just as common in non-Jewish, non-Christian cultures (early Islamic visitors to Britain were impressed and astonished at its unacceptability here). In Greece the former was institutionalised, in Rome it was tolerated. As Gibbons wrote, it was only Christianity that overcame it. That’s odd, if actually the New Testament is as relaxed about it as people say.

        That prevalence also means it is not at all impossible that society’s views could, once more, be changed. And if “true loving relationships with children” ever become acceptable, will the punishment and vilification of today’s offenders be re-interpreted as bigoted paedophobic persecution?

        The first stage in deciding which set of words to apply is, surely, to settle the moral status of the activity in question, not just to sympathise with the hardship it may bring. Which brings me back to what criteria Christians should use to discern God’s moral will.

        • GD GD says:

          Jon,

          I find the subject repulsive so I will not get into lengthy exchanges, but it is worth remembering that Spartans had, as part of the training of children and youth (par of many rituals) that an adult male Spartan had, during a campaigns, male children and youth provided for him, since he was away from his wife. It is not far fetched to show that sexually perverse people look to such practices and try to find ways to implement them nowadays. Also we should remember that the most successful sexually perverted human beings have enjoyed their perversity in safety within religious organisations – something to think about.

  6. Merv Bitikofer Merv Bitikofer says:

    One other comment peculiar to our U.S. situation while I’m on a typing rampage.

    Many U.S. Christians are up in arms about our supreme court over here recognizing the rights of civil unions for everyone. But not Anabaptists! Here the difference between those who feel invested in the U.S. as a “Christian” nation and those who don’t shows itself in stark relief. Yes; we do like it when good laws are passed. But it’s par for the course and theologically rather ho-hum of course, when scandal happens instead.

    Now … we are having our church debate about whether our *church* should be more welcoming, and there is where folks sit up and take notice. As they should. And we (whichever side we think is righteous) should be up in arms about it, as you have said Jon, according to what we read in Scripture.

    And when the dust settles, we may have future generations gasping on a pollution choked, war torn planet, asking us … “you spent your time debating what!!!?”

  7. Merv Bitikofer Merv Bitikofer says:

    GD, were there *openly public* homosexuals in the Nazi party?! I would be curious to hear more about that. If they were there but keeping their sexual status secret, then that is hardly warrant for dismissing persecution of that category generally. We wouldn’t dismiss a campaign targeting known Christians by noting that some have hidden their Christianity and perhaps even participated in the persecuting machinery.

    You wrote:
    ” – and Church membership? it sounds like belonging to a club.”

    [Precisely! —and one of the major criticisms of the church that I’m pounding home here.]

    Jon, I used the “slippery slope” comparison myself in a recent letter to our church delegates, but I did *not* play this “paedophilia” card, and nor would it have been effective to do so since it is recognized as, and is, a different category. Children are harmed; there is no possibility for “informed consent” — there is no love involved.

    Now I do admit that once one has accepted homosexual practice as a new acceptable norm, then I see no distinction to prevent all-around consensual polyandry, polygamy, or things that don’t involve abuse. Decades ago, our churches here in the U.S. agonized over whether to accept the practice of divorce or those who had been divorced. I’m sure one of the bogeymen trotted out then was that … if we accept this then we might as well throw open the doors to serial marriage, wife swapping, and all the like. Now … it can be noted that those very things indeed may be prolific. But *not as blessed activities by the church*! No, the church does not *typically* celebrate divorce but still recognizes the tragedy and hurt of the situation, and allows for it … and [*this is important*] …Does not generally shun members who engage in the practice of divorce! So this is one absent bogeyman that puts the lie to excessive slippery slope generalizations. And if Kinsey was the huge tragic influence you’ve described (and I don’t doubt it), then the fact that as far as pedophilia is concerned his program was rejected and public outcry is against it means that even the public (and much more the church) has not failed to see distinctions that are deep-seated.

    Granted, a major difference between the divorce comparison and homosexual agenda today is that divorcees aren’t asking for the activity to be a blessed one. So I don’t hold these up as analogous in that way.

    You are correct that Jesus is a game-changer (bar raiser as it were) regarding law. But I think it is a mistake to think of the New Testament as simply a “new and improved” version of the law — a Law 2.0 as it were, now crystalized down into that new set of *really important* laws that you now need to obey while you can be excused for sidelining anything else in the O.T. that didn’t make the cut.

    No … the New Testament is Redemption 1.0: a completely new program that is not law-based, but law-fulfilling rather, and the O.T. is the important prelude that is now shown to lead into that full plan. Jesus makes it clear that none of us will be regular practicers of the full law as would be required by a perfect God, asking us to be perfect as well. So if we were to insist on it, all our communities would be emptied of all fellowship since we all continue to fail. So even if we grant your conviction that homosexual practice is beyond the pale of what God can tolerate in his Kingdom, we still run into trouble of trying to clarify why our sins, regrettable as they of course are, are nevertheless not grounds for escorting us off the premises. We are sorry after all, and wish we could do better … but this ongoing sin of that fellow over there; see him out please, Usher! And all Biblical ground begins to fall away from underneath you.

    The one spiritually deadly thing I do see with the modern sexual agenda is that these groups may (possibly) make confession very hard for themselves. If they’ve been too busy hammering home how okay they are, I can see how that would lead to pride in which one removes oneself from that all-important humility of confession. Heterosexuals in the church usually recognize that need in spades even if they are understandably loath to be public about it. But, of the few homosexuals I know, they do not fit this high profile stereotype of in-your-face gay pride people. I suspect media play here too. I have no reason to doubt their sincere spiritual penitence any more than my own.

    I need to say more about this, but my son is waiting for me to eat a late supper with him … and I’ve been neglecting other things here this evening. More later perhaps. Thanks for all your patience with me.

  8. Merv Bitikofer Merv Bitikofer says:

    Oh — and GD, we probably wouldn’t knowingly invite murderers into our church but that would be a real problem, because if we failed in that basic test, we declare God’s grace that we had claimed was all-reaching to actually be null and void.

    We certainly wouldn’t knowingly invite in a *currently practicing* murderer.
    I’ll grant that.

    • GD GD says:

      Merv,

      Wow, I do not know where to begin an answer.

      I am unaware of any openly homosexuals during that era when Nazis (and others) were in power. However these people practice with others and most communities have an idea of who is a homosexual – so I cannot understand your point.

      On the general view of all have sinned, we are in total agreement – however all of us must repent of these sins and ask God to help us live right before Him. I will not bring up Biblical verses that show perverse sexual practices are included in the many sins we commit, nor show that we must repent of all of these.

      I used the murderer and child abuser examples to illustrate the overall point of sinful activities. The Church has removed herself from the State, so civil activities and their legitimacy is determined by the political process.

      I am not using any slope (slippery or otherwise) in my comments – just making a clear point that we cannot, for convenience or fad or expediency, decide which sin is acceptable and which is not – and arguing from the law of the old covenant does not hold water – the NT makes this abundantly clear.

      Christ Himself has said that even those that claim to have lived using His name may be rejected because they do not obey the will of the Father. I cannot see how anything can be easier to understand.

      Enjoy your meal with your son – these discussions can wait for another time.

  9. Cath Olic says:

    I liked that quote of C.S. Lewis. It’s very G.K. Chesterton-ish:

    [When I was a youngster, all the progressive people were saying, “Why all this prudery? Let us treat sex just as we treat all our other impulses.” I was simple-minded enough to believe they meant what they said. I have since discovered that they meant exactly the opposite. They meant that sex was to be treated as no other impulse in our nature has ever been treated by civilized people. All the others, we admit, have to be bridled. Absolute obedience to your instinct for self-preservation is what we call cowardice; to your acquisitive impulse, avarice. Even sleep must be resisted if you’re a sentry. But every unkindness and breach of faith seems to be condoned provided that the object aimed at is “four bare legs in a bed.”]

    • Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

      Hi Cath Olic, and welcome to the Hump. We have a number of Chesterton fans here, as well as fans of Lewis. For both, their conversion led them to examine critically not only what the culture was telling them, but what they had unconsciously imbibed from it. It asn’t just their conscious beliefs, but their worldview, that underwent reversal.

  10. Merv Bitikofer Merv Bitikofer says:

    Hi, Catholic. I too had read that Lewis quote with interest. On reflection, it may well apply to secular sentiments in some quarters. But regarding the church it is certainly an over-reach. Churches (even the most liberal of them in my experience here) most certainly do not condone all sexual practices, even if they have thrown open their doors to homosexuals. And I’m not just speaking of the extremes like paedophilia, or masochistic practices, etc. Even the more “mundane” heterosexual sins like adultery or indulgence in pornography are not celebrated or encouraged. So it is a stark fallacy that all churches who tolerate/bless this direction in homosexuality must suddenly be promoting a free-for-all.

    GD, I’m in agreement with you that we aren’t given license to ignore or approve of some sins while abhorring other sins. And if we take a hard line on this and actively follow that to its conclusions on this issue, then none of us should be reporting to church this Sunday unless we can truthfully claim: I have no unconfessed sin in my life and have successfully ceased (for all time as far as my earnest intentions are concerned) in the practice of anything sinful.

    Only the perfect man (such as Jesus himself) would qualify. All the rest of us regarding thoughts of pride (which is probably already in play if we think we satisfy that claim ourselves), avarice, lust, etc. which are sinful even while they stay in our heads (as Jesus made clear) would need to be escorted off the church grounds lest the church be found to be tolerating known sinners. Yet this is what we’ve done in our churches over the years —singled out that particular sin as being almost uniquely inexcusable with regard to who can be in good standing. And this is granting your convictions that love between like-gendered people is at its very core, forever verboten, and can never be countenanced even as a concession like Paul grants to all those who fail in the highest calling upheld by Paul: singleness (without burning with passion).

    All I know is that if I’m going to be judging those others for the particular passions they burn are burdened by, then I know on good authority that the measure I judge with will also be the measure I am judged by. I know the particular thoughts I have which require ongoing confession, and I am not eager to be judged harshly on that account. [and that is *with* a church-sanctioned outlet for my passions.] So I drop my stone and walk away. And you will [rightly] point out that Jesus says to the sinner “Go, and sin no more.“] Interestingly enough, Jesus doesn’t seem to have enlisted the help of one of the watchful, but departing Pharisees afterward by stopping him to ask “hey —would you follow her and make sure she is on good behavior after this.”

    I’ll tell you what. Please pray for me (and our churches —more than just mine as you well know). Pray that we’ll see the light and not chase after the latest trendy cultural fads if that is indeed all we are doing. If it is, we all know it will fail, though to great cost. And I too will pray for you (and myself) to be led by the Spirit and that if this kind of “reaching out” really is of God, then I’ll pray that you (and me) not be found fighting against God, but that the Spirit make it clear to all of us and restore unity wherever that is appropriate. As I see it, nobody can go wrong in choosing to petition the Divine.

    Again, thanks for all your indulgence in my windy rambles.

    -Merv

    • GD GD says:

      Hi Merv,

      There is little in your latest remarks that I would argue against or see a need for comment. I guess the point we all (and I should be reminded of this) is that of the teachings of the Faith. If we have disagreements in doctrine then we will face many difficulties – if we agree on major doctrinal matters, than we all confess our faults (even if we do not, God knows this in any event), and hope to be better people. So I am not suggesting judgement by me or anyone else, rather a clear understanding of what we are taught by the Faith.

      I suggest there is a world of difference between understanding our passions and ‘works of the flesh’, showing the self discipline that is within the capability any adult, and matters such as an organisation deciding to normalise marriage between same-sex people, or accepting any sexual perversity as part of doctrine (or any other sinful act). The teaching must conform to what Christ and the Apostles brought to us – how we respond in our personal lives is between us and our Maker.

    • Cath Olic says:

      Merv Bitikofer,

      You say “So it is a stark fallacy that all churches who tolerate/bless this direction in homosexuality must suddenly be promoting a free-for-all.”

      But C.S. Lewis’ quote appears to be addressing not churches or all churches but rather “progressives.” “Progressives” can include atheists, leftists, non-religious “spiritual” people, as well as many who call themselves Christian.

      If one were to say it is ‘a stark fallacy that all progressives who tolerate/bless this direction in homosexuality must suddenly be promoting a free-for-all’ is arguable, at a minimum, in my view.

      I also was thinking that the sex drive/impulse may be the only impulse which an individual being may deny and survive. The same cannot be said for hunger, thirst, self-preservation.
      …………
      Regarding part of your response to GD: “Yet this is what we’ve done in our churches over the years —singled out that particular sin as being almost uniquely inexcusable with regard to who can be in good standing.”

      I don’t think most churches, if any, single out gay sex as being uniquely inexcusable. What they single out as inexcusable is the promotion and even blessing of a unique form of fornication.

      “All I know is that if I’m going to be judging those others for the particular passions they burn are burdened by, then I know on good authority that the measure I judge with will also be the measure I am judged by.”

      We are not to judge others’ hearts. However, we are commanded by Christ to judge others’ actions, and to admonish where necessary.

  11. Merv Bitikofer Merv Bitikofer says:

    Cath Olic wrote: “But C.S. Lewis’ quote appears to be addressing not churches or all churches but rather ‘progressives.'”

    Yeah, I had noticed that. And I don’t speak for all progressives, obviously, though I would be surprised if very many (Religious or Otherwise) would accept Lewis’ charge without a lot of caveats.

    You wrote: “I also was thinking that the sex drive/impulse may be the only impulse which an individual being may deny and survive. The same cannot be said for hunger, thirst, self-preservation.”

    Good points. It could be extended, observing that though our individual survival does not hinge on satisfying sexual impulses, our species survival does (depend on *heterosexual* actions, anyway). It was also Lewis who noted that God seems to have given us a drive or hunger for many different things, such as all the things you noted, and then also provides the provisions to meet all those hungers. Lewis was using this to make a point then that our spiritual hungers must have a corresponding provision also … [God]. Whether or not the various “satisfactions” to our physical hungers are legitimate or are a perversion of some originally sanctioned set may not be a trivial things to decide in any absolute sense. Pork may be an abomination in its time and place and for certain people but not in another. Romans 14 should always be kept in mind in these kinds of debates I think. I won’t try to convince you that homosexuality should be in view for that kind of concessionary allowance/blessing or not, since I don’t know for myself the answer to that.

    I’m willing to leave it at that, and let you have the last word unless you ask for response.

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