Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hatred


Jesus’ great commandment is: “Love one another as I have loved you.”  His discourse goes on to show that, ultimately, the love he has in mind is that which culminates, like his did, in laying down your life for those you love.  So we are not talking emotion, romance or sex (sometimes called “making love”.)  We are talking self-giving, maximum focus on the other rather than on oneself.  The opposite of love is hatred.  So that, if the great commandment is to love, the great sin is hatred.  When we hate we want to eliminate the object of our hate.  If we can get away from the object of our hate, we might, but should avoidance be too diffult or impossible, hate pushes us to destruction.  We see hatred when we see war, aggression and violence.
Thinking in terms of polarity, with love one pole and hatred the other, I think we can see that sex is way closer to the love pole than the hatred pole, if, indeed, sex can be coupled with hatred at all.  That tells me that sex is not really connected to sin, the opposite of love, at all.  A surprising conclusion when we have been brought in a society and culture where the primary sin was, de facto, sex.
The reasons for our hatred, the cause of our hatred, can be varied and very subjective.  We may hate something or somebody and want to eliminate the object of our hate because we perceive that object as, somehow, a threat to our existence, ideals or projects, whether the object is, in reality, a threat or not.  So we can observe that a lot of the hatred in the world is irrational, and so, we can say, more tainted by sin because it is in opposition to truth, which is, like love, part of the nature of God.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Erik Rhodes.



People are talking about the death of successful gay porn star Erik Rhodes, born James Naughtin.  Stan, on his blog, Metro Dystopia (in my blog list), copied an article appraising Rhodes’ life, difficulties and successes.  Basically, in addition to doing sex, Rhodes did drugs and, particularly steroids.  These built up his towering virile form and enhanced the sex-appeal out of which he made his living.  But, by thirty, it was all too much for his heart.  A trajedy because of the loss of a young life.  

 There is a sense, it seems, in which by reckless behaviour he destroyed his own life.  But two causes or pressures that gave rise to this reckless living stand out to me.  He grew up in the context of his parents acrimonious divorce and he was gay.  Any sort of conflict situation between human beings shows the effects of hatred in the world of human affairs.  This is the primordial sin from which Christ came to redeem us, but it is still working itself out.  Homophobia, hatred of gays, is another manifestation of this sin.   

Every member of the gay community is buffeted by the effects of this sin of humanity and some gays, therefore, do desperate and hopeless things in the effort to carve out their personal identity faced with the rejection of society and religion on account of the very being that they are.  Jesus’ redemption of the world from man’s sin must go on.  It often looks like it only just began and has hardly got started.  But it will continue to go nowhere as long as society and the Church think of the sin as sex when, in reality, it is hatred.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Salvation Army and Gays.


 In the Salvationist news paper the War Cry, on 2 January 1883, Catherine Booth wrote the following apologia for the Army's stance:
"In the north of England... a clergyman said... that it is evident The Salvation Army is not a church. To be a church there must evidently be the exercise of sacramental functions, which evidently are not duly appreciated by the Army. We are... getting away from ordinary idea of a church every day. It seems as if a voice from heaven had said that we are an army, separate from, going before, coming after, and all round about the existing churches.






"But we are asked by the churches, what should be our attitude to you? We answer, 'What is your attitude towards the Fire Brigade? Or... towards the lifeboat crew?'
"Now if the sacraments are not conditions of salvation, and if the introduction of them would create division of opinion and heart burning, and if we are not professing to be a church, not aiming at being one, but simply a force for aggressive salvation purposes, is it not wise for us to postpone any settlement of the question, to leave it over for some future day, when we shall have more light?"
"Moreover we do not prohibit our own people... from taking the sacraments. We say, 'If this is a matter of your conscience, by all means break bread. The churches and chapels around you will welcome you for this. But in our own ranks... let us mind our own business. Let us remember His love every hour of our lives... and let us eat His flesh and drink His blood continually... and further, there is one baptism on which we are all agreed... and that is the baptism of the Holy Ghost."


It is ironic that the above represents a complete openness of mind about received Christian practice and tradition and yet today some Salvationists are upholding their belief that homosexuals should be punished, even by capital punishment, and consensual gay sex should be made illegal.  This was in Australia.  Then the Imam weighed in: Sheikh Yahya Safi, head imam of the nation’s biggest Islamic congregation, said yesterday that gay people went against human nature.
“In Islam we believe that it’s a major sin to have such relations between men and men, a sexual relation,” he said.
Sheikh Safi, who presides at Lakemba mosque in Sydney’s west, said it would be rare to find a gay Muslim, and the gay marriage issue wasn’t discussed in the community.


The Salvation Army guy’s was a misuse of Romans 1:18-32.  In the RSV translation the key passage does not talk about death for homosexuals, but of men “receiving in the own persons the due penalty for their error.”  The whole passage, anyway, is in the context of the cult of idols, which is where Saint Paul’s problem lay, and not with the acts of passion of men with men, about which some translations use the word “shameless”.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rich and Beautiful.




The riches of the gay lifestyle as pioneered in classical times, then renewed and re-pioneered down later times, especially at the end of the nineteenth and first quarter of the twentieth century and more strikingly recently by the leather culture, just has to be accepted by Christianity as a wonderfully positive and person-constructing way.   
 
These guys have taught us what a good and beautiful way it is, and so natural to how many, and we have to baptize it.  We also have to somehow bury the myth that robust man to man sexual practices militate against heterosexual values and family life.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Exchanges on Intimacy – 4.


My correspondent goes on to find in man to man erotic intimacy a sort of icon or sacrament of our relation ship with God.  I think this is fine.  He also wonders, interestingly, whether we are ever truly separate from God.  I suppose that one thrust of theology is that we are not.  He is our Creator and he keeps us in being.  Yet we have our free-will and are constituted independent persons.  This is what my correspondent actually said: “I have struggled with genuine surrender and submitting to God and God's will all my life. I think the only time I have ever experienced true surrender and a letting go of control was with a male soul-mate. There was a merging...a loss of individual identities...a blurring of what was me and what was him. I think we became vibrationally as one through intense subject-subject, spiritually homoerotic experiences. There was a direct experience of God and also a merging with God in that blending of human energies.

I have somehow come to realize this enhanced masculine intimacy as a metaphor for actual surrender to God. Or perhaps it is an illusion we are separate from God at all...anymore than my soul-mate and I were separate in our miraculous blending of individual energies. I think maybe that the Greek word "agape" for love in the New Testament refers to this subject-subject experience of a reality-involving enhanced masculine intimacy. Are multiple enhanced males consciously capable of this in a joint worship experience? There is a part of me that would sure like to find out.... either through joint planning or divine serendipity.”

Monday, June 25, 2012

Exchanges on Intimacy – 3.


My correspondent continues: “Maybe a true experience of intimacy involves surrender to the other and a willingness to let go of "having to control" or "be in control" of every moment. And these are hard things to give up in our modern existence.”  That the surrender to the other is difficult is certainly true and equally it is an integral part of what we mean by intimacy.  However, there are dangers in trying to be absolute or black and white.   

We really need the gift of discernment to see how much surrender is appropriate in the particular situation or relationship.  Paradoxically, I think, if we surrender ourselves too totally we lose our independence and identity and, ultimately, no longer have anything to contribute to the other. 
  The giving of relationship, the giving of intimacy, has to be truly mutual, focussing on building up rather than breaking down the independent identity of the other.  There is a great danger that we try only to make the other an extension of ourselves, and this is not, in my opinion, healthy for either party.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Exchange about Blog.



Another correspondent wrote affirming what I am doing on the blog.  Here is what he said and my reply: “I just wanted to tell you that i really think you're doing a great thing with your blog. I'm glad there are people like you, encouraging men to embrace their sexuality and helping them to get rid of the feeling of guilt or sin or whatever. I've been openly gay since around my twenties (i'm in my fifties now) and although i am totally comfortable with me being gay and with having sex with men, there is still this tiny dark corner in me that sometimes says it's something bad. It must be something from the past and luckily it doesn't prevent me from being what i am and from doing what i like doing, so i never feel in any way inhibited by it. But it does make me realize that there are men out there who do and i can understand why they are feeling what they are feeling and i think the things you write on your blog may help them to overcome the shame and inhibitions they may have.”
  To this I responded: “Thanks for writing. I find what you wrote very affirming. It somehow more than what anybody has ever written confirms for me that I am on the right tack. That is to say that I too at times experience these nagging feelings that you know too and that, as you said, one can see other guys experience and are overwhelmed by. I guess that because of our formation it is very difficult to get rid of that sense that there might be something wrong with pursuing the different manifestations of our enhanced masculinity.”

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Exchanges on Intimacy – 2.




 My correspondent wrote: “In addition, I think some men are afraid of intimacy and retreat when it begins to manifest in relationships.”  An awful lot is in the language we use.  From the moment I say “Hi” to somebody we are in some type of relationship.  When a relationship begins to go deeper, with more involvement than we first anticipated, we do tend, even need, to pause and think where the whole thing is going and whether we want to go there, especially before the new relationship begins to impinge on my availability for other commitments I may already have.  If we spot that the fear is about not letting myself be taken over by the other, we have to deal with that as well.  We may have to overcome our reluctance to let ourselves go into the hands of this particular other whom our other intuitions tell us would be good for us.  Or, we may have to listen to our intuitions that tell us that this is not the type of guy that is going to take me over in the right way, maybe the type that will crush rather than create me, use rather than respect me.  Yes, in the abstract the fear of intimacy is a bad thing, but, in the concrete, it may not be such a bad thing at all, a kind of caution.   
But then, as I said before, intimacy is a thing you let yourself into in varying degrees, as the rapport with the other person demands.  To fulfil the gospel our focus has always to be on the other person.  The fear of intimacy might be, initially, about what the other person is going to do to me, but I will also need to look at what the other person needs from me and be prepared to give myself.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Exchanges on Intimacy


I am going to try and comment bit by bit on something a buddy wrote to me about sex and intimacy. Here is the first installment.  He wrote: “In my opinion, I think many men can have sex or engage in erotic acts and not experience true intimacy.” I personally think that there is a whole scale of degrees of intimacy.  We have intimacy in a conversation, but it is more intense on various occasions or with different people.  I think it is exactly the same with mansex.  But I am convinced you cannot really have mansex without some sort of sense of intimacy.   

This is, in my opinion, part of the benefit of man to man sexual exchange.  A lot of our upbringing, training, has rather taught us to be afraid of intimacy.  This is a point that my correspondent touches on in the bit of his letter that I will deal with tomorrow.  Ray and Rick already touched on this point, in fact, in their remarks in the comments on the last couple of posts.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

More on Intimacy.


From my rudimentary knowledge of Latin, I suppose that “intimacy” comes from the latin root “timere – to fear” with the negating pre-fix “in”, meaning “no fear” so dropping all fears.  So when I embrace intimacy as a good it is in this wholesome sense that all of us live lives way too much constricted by fears.  We allow ourselves to be destroyed by fears of expressing ourselves on account of what people may think of us, or just simply about revealing ourselves.  So anything that can help us break through those walls of self-inhibiting fear is, to my way of thinking, welcome.  It is worthwhile noting how the gospel begins with God’s message to Mary, “Be not afraid” and ends with the Risen Jesus saying to his disciples, “Be not afraid.”   
Yet, two thousand years on, we are still prey to our fears.  Man to man, erotic intimacy, seems to me to be a way of breaching that steel wall of inhibiting fear and opening ourselves to others.  That openness to others, is, after all, love, which is Jesus’ great commandment, that you love one another.  Norms of morality that insist on the presence of romantic love (something distinct, in fact, from the love of the gospels) before two people can know the intimacy of sex, seem to me to put the cart before the horse.