Skip to comments.I'll Have the Beefcake
Posted on 03/08/2005 6:50:58 PM PST by sionnsar
Here's an interesting exercise. Read these passages by R.R. Reno (author of In the Ruins of the Church) and guess when they were written. Here is his recounting of his experience at General Convention:
Because of this prevailing experience, advocates of further liberation are not threatening. The gay lobby, while unappealing in some of its excesses, is fundamentally congenial to the sensibilities of upper-middle-class Americans. The typical Episcopalian is not very likely to be enthusiastic about the homosexual agenda. Some urban parishes have made gay liberation part of their social justice platform, but this is really rather rare. But that is not the point. The experience of many bourgeois Americans is that it was okay to sleep with your girlfriends or boyfriends--it didn't destroy their lives. So, they reason, the old taboos really were unnecessarily strict, just as gay advocates claim. "Hey," says the average Episcopalian, "if we can neglect the Scriptures on matters of fornication, adultery, and divorce, then why not homosexuality?"
Off to the General Convention goes the so-called "moderate" who simply assumes that the gay agenda is part of a largely sensible cultural adjustment of sexual mores. That moderate might vote against specific initiatives because they could "harm the church." After all, one must be careful not to frighten the horses. But as the hermetic world of lawyers and doctors and academics and social workers and other professionals becomes more and more tolerant of homosexuality, the "moderate" finds less and less to worry about. We can change church practice to accommodate homosexuality, moderates think, without disturbing the typical Episcopalian. "I don't know anybody who would really object to this," they reason. So we drift with upper-middle-class culture.
So I left the General Convention with a double dismay: one familiar and the other new. I came to the General Convention knowing how far gone we are. After all, just last year we tried a bishop for heresy and the court decided that the Episcopal Church is committed to a Gospel so vague and spectral that false teaching is impossible. The only heresy is to say that there is such a thing as heresy. But the full force of the gay agenda nevertheless surprised me. And by that I do not mean the postmodern clichés about heterosexism and the fantasies of unlimited erotic self-expression. No, the surprise was the sheer ordinariness of it all. Our complacent acceptance was so relentlessly class-bound. In the past, I kidded myself that our class identity as a denomination was the result of historical circumstances and institutional inertia. Now I am forced to recognize that we are drawing inward upon ourselves as a matter of policy. I found myself despairing: will anybody not coddled with the highest advantages and privileges of our society be attracted to a denomination that preaches sexual freedom with such blissful naiveté?
I knew--because I remembered the heresy trial. Very interesting take on the sexuality issue. I had never thought of it that way, but it makes perfect sense. I think typical upper-middle class Episcopalians tend to be "okay" with homosexuality because we imagine a homosexual household just like ours, but with two men or two women. You know, two careers, a dog, a white picket fence, probably not really that much sex as they get older (not tonight, I want to watch Leno...). Outside of our social stratum, it gets much messier than that.
The same is true of out-of-wedlock births. They may work out ok for the well-to-do (like millionaire Hollywood actresses), but that's an extremely hard life for both mother and child for anyone of normal means, and without marriage, the likelihood that the father will stay around is definitely lowered.
More disturbing, from my perspective, is that the whole purpose of all of those grand Churches and Cathedrals is, supposedly, to worship (or at least pay socially responsible respect to) a powerful, opinionated God.
That God is said to have expressed His opinion in Scripture, and certainly Scripture is relentlessly judgmental and harsh on adultery and homosexuality.
But this does not matter, because it can be interpreted away.
More disturbing ought to be that the religion considers God to be the master of nature, and nature, too, is relentlessly judgmental and harsh on sexual promiscuity of either a homosexual or heterosexual (or bisexual) bent. The God somewhere in the incense above the altar even in a modern Epicopalian church is the God who made man...and AIDS, gonorrhea, syphillis, herpes, and every other living thing that afflicts and pounds down upon the promiscuous.
Funny that folks who supposedly are worshipping this God never notice that God doesn't just express His condemnation, to death, of promiscuity in hoary old scriptures that can be interpreted away, but in modern living plagues that cannot be cured.
But, I guess the psychological dodge is to pretend that death and disease and natural disaster are not really acts of GOD, but are just called that euphemistically, because God would NEVER put anybody to DEATH for sexual deviancy, would He? That's all just biblical stuff. Epidemics come from nature, which has nothing to do with God, right?
You're essentially saying that whether one follows biblical rules of morality or one simply examines the evidence to see the actual effects of people's morals in their lives and follows the moral code that leads to health and life, it makes no difference-- the results will be the same. I often make this same point to non-believers.
However, I somewhat take issue with your contention that God "puts people to death" for sin-- as far as disease goes, I see it a bit differently. A part of the fall of Adam and Eve was the introduction of death and disease to the world-- it was a result of the fall, of man's deliberate choice to disobey God. Had the fall never happened, the perfect world that God created would have continued.
So, God created a perfect world and He created man in His own image, but with free will. The world we have today is the result of man exercising his free will to disobey God.
Of course, God certainly can (and sometimes does) strike us with lightening. ;)
"A part of the fall of Adam and Eve was the introduction of death and disease to the world-- it was a result of the fall, of man's deliberate choice to disobey God. Had the fall never happened, the perfect world that God created would have continued."
Biblically this is true, but death and disease are not the same thing. Death is a phyiscal state. Diseases such as AIDS, herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis - in fact, all Sexually Transmitted Diseases - are themselves living organisms, separate forms of life.
Arteriosclerosis leading to a heart attack may be a purely organic process traceable to the dietary habits and genetic patterns of an individual, but STDs are something different. As separate, independent, living organisms, they had to be actively created by God, unless we want to say that man's sin caused the independent creation of forms of life that did not previously exist. This would mean that either mankind or the Devil himself, is able to create life out of non-life by the active doing of evil. That evil can give the spark of independent life.
Viruses and bacteria are alive. They are independent living beings, like zebras. By all the Christian theology I've ever studied, only God can create life. Man can't. The Devil can't.
Heart attacks and strokes are conditions caused by chemistry and physics.
But the HIV Virus is an independent living thing that could not have come into existence at all, according to any Christian theology I have ever heard, without the specific creative act of God. Ditto for Cholera and polio. These diseases aren't just conditions of the body. They are predatory animals that eat our bodies and kill us. The Devil cannot create animals. Man and his sins cannot create animals. Only God can do that. Which means that God had to have directly created AIDS, polio and cholera and sicced them on man. They cannot have simply arisen out of nothing, life from non-life, without the divine spark. Not unless we want to start changing around the definitions of life and the sole origin of life as God.
To get away from AIDS having been a specific living creation of God aimed at man by God, we have to allow the Devil to create life out of clay and change the rest of our theology to make the Devil capable of making life. Otherwise, God made AIDS, because AIDS is alive.
I never thought about it that way-- you're right. Thanks for posting this!
It's a grim and sobering reminder that our God of love and compassion promises us eternal rest in Heaven. He promises each of us death, and its intendant pain and terror, on Earth. We can hasten that death, and prolong the pain and terror, by various physical excesses which all have their roots in deadly sins: lust, gluttony, alcoholic obsessions, etc.
Of course, God also gives babies some of these diseases in utero: the sins of the mothers and fathers are visited on the children.
It is the way of things, in a grim sort of chain of cause and effect which we cannot escape. But by living right, we can lessen some of the blows and make existence in what is still a glorious creation more pleasant than if we become enslaved by bodily sins and expose ourselves more and more to illness. Part of the sufferings of life and the fear and pain of death is no doubt a part of the repayment of the debt of sin "to the last penny" that Jesus warns about.
God didn't even let His own Son get out of this world without a heaping helping of horror, agony and terror.
The judge of the universe has prepared a splendid resting place to us. But He still manifestly applies trial by ordeal. And that we think this is horrible and barbaric falls on deaf ears. It is the way it is, and we can either bend ourselves to accept the way it is, or we can defy it and court the agonies and horrors that God has provided to enforce his will.
Life is a losing game unless you figure out the saving throw at the end of it. Once you have that figured out, it is a wonderful ride, but don't expect God to be overly kind in this world. He sometimes is, but He often is not. His mercy is in the absolute and over the reaches of time. In the here and now, He can seem far away because our span of time seems so short. We don't realize that we are immortal until after we have died. Paradox of paradoxes.
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