28 September 2006

We Are Family (Part One)

THE SECRET BOOK OF JOHN
(Jesus Christ said) “I am the Father, I am the Mother, I am the Child. I am the Incorruptible and the Undefiled One. Now I have come to teach you what is, what was, and what is going to come, that you may understand what is invisible and what is visible, and to teach you about the Unshakable Generation of the Perfect Human.”


The "Family." The "Children." "Brothers." "Sisters." These are names that English-speaking Gay men have traditionally used among themselves. Linguists would call this argot, jargon, or in-group slang. What if it's more than that? What if it's the unwitting expression of knowledge buried deep within our subconsious minds? What if the title of that perenially popular Gay anthem "We Are Family" said something true about LGBT people? An impossibility? Don't be so sure.

Once upon a time, long, long ago, a group of people walked the Earth who were known as Gnostic Christians. Unlike most Christians of their time, and of the present day, Gnostics didn’t blindly follow mainstream religious leaders. They weren't content to accept orthodox doctrine as Gospel. They insisted on learning as much as they could learn about God, the Son of God, the nature of the universe, and the origins of humanity. They gathered knowledge, allegedly by both natural and Divine means, and they recorded that knowledge in texts we call Gnostic writings today. These texts were denounced and declared heretical by the mainstream Christian hierarchy. Over time, they were systematically suppressed and destroyed. However, some Gnostic texts have survived in fragmented form. They include the Gospel of Phillip, the Book of Thomas, the Dialogue of the Savior, and the two books that I will focus on in this essay: The Secret Book of John and the Egyptian Gospel.


Did you ever think of homosexual folk as mythological beings? Some Gnostics seem to have thought of them in that way. Prepare to learn about an amazing Christian mythology that not only rivals but surpasses that of the ancient Greeks!

Gnostic Christianity challenges traditional Christian beliefs in many ways. It teaches an alternate version of the Creation story. It teaches that the God we worship today is not the same god that the ancient Israelites worshipped. It teaches that mankind came into existence through a Divine accident. It teaches that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were not the fonts of wickedness that Bible scripture claims they were. It teaches that some human beings are descended from demons. It teaches that some human beings have souls with counterparts in Heaven. It teaches that some human beings effect a necessary cosmic balance between the Earth and Heaven. The specifics of Gnostic doctrine varied quite a bit among different sects, but these are the basic tenets. It’s an awful lot to swallow, and very complicated to explain. I’m not even a theologian, much less a Gnostic scholar, but I’ll do my best. The time for these ancient texts to be interpreted from a Gay perspective is long overdue!

The Secret Book of John tells us that the True and Living God is the Mother/Father, an omnipotent, androgynous deity whose body is composed of the Great Spirit and His female image, Barbelo, the Divine Mother. The Mother/Father is the parent of Jesus Christ, who, Gnostics wrote, existed long before the world began. There's a Heavenly host that accrues to the Son of God. One of their number is Pigeradamas, the counterpart of Adam, the first human. Another is Seth, the counterpart of Adam’s firstborn son. Yet another is Sophia, the Divine Spirit of Wisdom. Gnostics believed that Heaven is populated by androgynous entities like the Mother/Father, and that they have the ability to self-conceive.


 It came to pass that Sophia produced a son in this way. Some Gnostics called him Yaldabaoth, while others called him Sakla. He has also been called Satan. We know him as the Hebrew god, the vengeful Lord of the Old Testament. Almost immediately, Sophia regretted his conception; her child proved to be dangerous, corrupt and ambitious. The Hebrew god arrogantly declared himself supreme. Demons accrued to him, and together they created the Earth as a realm for him to rule over. Then they fashioned the body of Adam, the first human being, and modeled him after the image of Pigeradamas. However, they were unable to give Adam life until Sophia and the angels of God intervened.

THE SECRET BOOK OF JOHN
They said to (the Hebrew God), “Breathe some of your spirit into the face of Adam and the body will arise.” He breathed his spirit into Adam. The spirit is the power of his mother (Sophia), but (the Hebrew god) did not realize this because he lives in ignorance. The mother’s power went out of (the Hebrew god) and into the physical body that had been made to be like (Pigeradamas). The body moved, and became powerful.


Adam’s power derived from the androgyny that all Heavenly beings possess; he was simultaneously male and female. (This concept of Adam is actually supported by Bible scripture; translated from ancient Hebrew, Genesis 1:27 states that God created Adam in His image, in the image of God He created Him, male and female He created Him.) Gnostics called androgyny “Fullness.“


 Having corrupt hearts, the Hebrew god and his demons became jealous of the being they had created. They were also fearful of Adam’s power. They cast him out of Heaven and imprisoned him on Earth, in the Garden of Eden. Even then, they still found him too powerful, so they decided to weaken him by removing his Fullness. They literally split him into separate male and female bodies. In Gnostic scripture, the creation of Eve wasn’t a gift to Adam as it’s portrayed in the book of Genesis; it was a punishment!

THE SECRET BOOK OF JOHN
The first ruler removed part of Adam’s power and created another figure in the form of a female . . . he put the part he had taken from the power of the human being into the female creature . . . for this reason, a man will leave his father and his mother and will join himself to his wife, and the two of them will become one flesh.


In other words, heterosexual marriage is a means by which mortal men and women attempt to achieve the Fullness that was lost! However, they can only approximate it, and their lack of Fullness makes them subject to mortality. Adam and Eve did become mortal after Adam lost his Divine power. As if that weren’t bad enough, the Hebrew god lusted after Eve and took his pleasure with her! He impregnated her, and she gave birth to the human counterparts of Cain and Abel, two of his demons. In this way, he infected Eve with carnal desire, which she then passed on to Adam.


 This is how some Gnostics believed heterosexuality and human procreation came into being. They called heterosexual intercourse “the defiled sowing of seed,” a wickedness that was visited upon humankind. The Hebrew god designed it to produce children who lacked Fullness, and who would never pose the threat to him that Adam had posed. However, the Mother/Father, the Son of God, and their host of angels had monitored everything that had occurred. The lack of androgynous life on Earth greatly disturbed the Heavenly host, so when Adam and Eve conceived their first child together, they acted to correct the imbalance.

THE SECRET BOOK OF JOHN
When Adam came to know (Eve), he produced a son like the Child of Humankind (Jesus Christ). He called him Seth, after the manner of the generation in the Eternal Realms . . . (Sophia) sent down Her spirit, which is like her and is a copy of what is in the Realm of Fullness, for she was going to prepare a dwelling place for the Eternal Realms that would come down (from Heaven). The human beings were made to drink Water of Forgetfulness by (the Hebrew god) so that they might not know where they had come from. For a time, the seed (of Fullness) remained and helped so that when the Spirit (of Life) descends from the Holy Realms, it may raise up the seed and heal what it lacks, that the entire Realm of Fullness may be Holy and lack nothing.


The Egyptian Gospel
implies that Adam didn't originally possess the Seed of Fullness; Jesus Christ provided it through Divine intermediaries. Whatever the case, this special sperm was given to Seth and passed down through his male descendants. His female descendants got something, too: the Eternal Realms referred to here were most likely a special kind of ova that was periodically implanted in their wombs. The book of Genesis tells us that Adam and Eve had other sons, but none of them possessed the Holy sperm; only Seth was capable of passing on to his children what turned out to be a recessive genetic trait. What was this trait?

"We Are Family" continues with Part Two.