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.

27 September 2006

We Are Family (Part Two)

THE EGYPTIAN GOSPEL
Then the great angel Hormos came to prepare the seed of the Great Seth, through the Holy Spirit in a Holy Body conceived by the Word (of God) by means of the virgins of the defiled sowing of seed in this realm. Great Seth came with his seed, and he sowed it in the realms brought into being here below (Heaven), whose number is the number of Sodom. Some say Sodom is the pastureland of the Great Seth, that is, Gomorrah; but others say Great Seth took his crop from Gomorrah and planted it in a second location, which he named Sodom . . . this is the source of the seed of Life Eternal, which belongs to those who endure through knowledge of where they came from. This is the great Incorruptible Generation . . .

In this context, “virgins” probably means Adam and Eve before they had carnal knowledge of each other. “The Holy Spirit in a Holy Body” is another reference to the Divine ovum Seth‘s female descendants carried (the Gospel of Phillip has yet another name for it: The Mirrored Bridal Chamber). The term “Incorruptible Generation” (also known as the Unshakeable or Blessed Generation) can refer either to people who carry the seed of Fullness, or people in whom the Fullness is expressed.

The reference to Sodom and Gomorrah can mean only one thing to a Christian: Homosexuality. To be sure, that’s what it meant to Gnostics, but as indicated earlier, their take on homosexuality was often radically different from that of the orthodoxy. Some Gnostic Christians believed that the seed of Seth, sown into realms with “the number of Sodom“ (the aforementioned Holy Bodies) produced children possessed of the Divine Fullness.

However, since they were born of mortal men and women, these children would also be mortal. What‘s more, they would be subject to carnal desire just like their parents. The Gnostic Gospel of Phillip teaches that as long as the seed of the Holy Spirit is hidden, wickedness is ineffective, though it is not yet removed from the midst of the seed and they are still enslaved to evil. Yet the very awareness of this desire would constitute “knowledge of where they came from.” Why? Because the desire would not be ordinary human desire.

One of the ways Fullness expresses itself in human beings is through homosexual attraction, which appears to break the laws of nature. It distinguishes creatures of Fullness from the rest of humanity. Heterosexual mankind considers such attraction sinful, but some Gnostics believed that the Heavenly host saw it as Holy. They frowned on sexual intercourse as a rule, but understood that it had become part of human nature. They couldn't stop it from occurring, but they could regulate it!

Homosexuality ensured that androgynous beings would not defile themselves with heterosexual intercourse, and that’s precisely what made them an “Incorruptible Generation.” Spiritually, homosexual men and women would always be virgins, and their souls were considered saintly.

THE SECRET BOOK OF JOHN
In the third Eternal Realm were stationed the offspring of Seth . . . The souls of the saints were stationed there.

So if Jesus Christ and His subordinate Sophia brought homosexuality into existence, how did the Mother/Father feel about what They had done?

THE EGYPTIAN GOSPEL
The Father approved of the great Incorruptible Generation of great mighty people of Great Seth, so that He might sow Repentance in the realms that had been produced, and through Repentance the deficiency (lack of Fullness) might become full.

Here the word "repentance" means repentance for the evil actions of the Hebrew god. As the offspring of Seth intermingled with the offspring of his brothers and populated the world, the Christ’s recessive genetic code spread throughout humankind. As stated before, its purpose was to produce a certain kind of human being: What we now call Lesbians, Gay men and Transsexual persons, but what probably would've been called eunuchs and virgins in Biblical times. (Back then, the word "eunuch" did not connote castration, as it does today. Read the scholarship of Faris Malik at his Born Eunuchs website . . .


However, something strange happened. The eunuchs and virgins didn‘t always act according to their natures!

THE SECRET BOOK OF JOHN
In the fourth Eternal Realm were stationed the souls of those who were ignorant of the Fullness. They did not repent immediately, but held out for a while and repented later . . .

No doubt, those souls “ignorant of the Fullness” were homosexual men and women who lacked awareness of their true nature. As is the case with many Gay people today, they gradually came into knowledge of themselves and began to abstain from heterosexual relations.

A Straight person might ask: "How could someone be unaware of his own sexual orientation?" There are, of course, psychological reasons, but in the Secret Book of John, Jesus Christ provides an alternate explanation. After the Savior implanted the Seed of Fullness in Seth‘s Earthly counterpart, the Hebrew god became aware of its existence. Enraged, he dispatched his demons to corrupt it with their own seed:

THE SECRET BOOK OF JOHN
(Jesus Christ said) “They created a Contemptible Spirit similar to the spirit (of Fullness) that had descended, in order to adulterate souls through this spirit . . . (they) took women, and from the darkness they produced children similar to their spirit. They closed their minds (to the Fullness) and became stubborn through the stubbornness of the Contemptible Spirit until the present day.”

A parallel passage in the Bible (excerpted below) affirms that extra-terrestrial impregnation of women did take place. Fullness is not mentioned, however, and in a most unusual translation, the demons are called "the sons of god:

GENESIS 6:1-4:
When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of god saw that they were fair, and they . . . went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children for them.

The “Contemptible Spirit” evidently came in the form of another genetic trait, designed to corrupt the Holy Bodies and repel the Divine Fullness. The descendants of Seth and the descendants of demons have long since intermingled, so theoretically, every human being carries both traits in their genetic code. When the Holy Bodies are fertilized with sperm, a battle for supremacy no doubt ensues between these traits. The outcome of this battle not only determines the gender identity of the child, but the very fate of the child’s soul.

THE SECRET BOOK OF JOHN
(Jesus Christ said) “The soul in which there is more power than the Contemptible Spirit is strong! She escapes from evil, and through the intervention of the Incorruptible One, she is saved and taken up to Eternal Rest. (The Apostle John said) “Master, where will the souls go of people who have not known to whom they belong?” (Jesus Christ said) “The Contemptible Spirit has grown stronger in such people while they were going astray. This Spirit lays a heavy burden on the soul, leads her into evil deeds, and hurls her down into forgetfulness. After the soul leaves the body, she is handed over to the authorities who have come into being through (God). They bind her with chains and throw her into prison! They go around with her until she awakens from forgetfulness and acquires knowledge. This is how she attains Perfection and is saved.”

“Going astray” means having heterosexual intercourse. The “authorities” spoken of are no doubt angels. Gnostic scholars believe that the passage regarding prison connotes reincarnation; the word “prison” symbolizes the human body in this context. Perfection, of course, is the kind of Fullness found in Heaven. However, it seems that not every androgynous soul succeeds in conquering the influence of the Contemptible Spirit:

THE SECRET BOOK OF JOHN
(The Apostle John said) Master, where will the souls go of people who had knowledge (of the Fullness) but turned away?” (Jesus Christ said) “They will be taken to the place where the Angels of Misery go, where there is no Repentance. They will be kept there until the day when those who have blasphemed against the (Holy) Spirit will be tortured and punished eternally.”

26 September 2006

We Are Family (Part Three)

Gnostics believed that the presence of androgynous beings on Earth kept the Hebrew God in a perpetual state of rage! They wrote about how his demons persecuted them at every turn, and how his intense hatred for the Incorruptible Generation sometimes threatened all humankind. His unholy wrath would explode, and natural disasters would result!

THE EGYPTIAN GOSPEL
Because of this generation, a conflagration will come upon the Earth . . . because of this generation, there will be famines and plagues . . . because of this generation, there will be temptations and deceptions by false prophets. Great Seth saw what (the Hebrew god) was doing, his many guises, his schemes against the Incorruptible, Immovable Generation, the persecutions by his powers and (demons), their deception. (Seth‘s offspring) acted rashly against themselves.

That line about false prophets certainly rings true, doesn‘t it? So does the line about LGBT people being driven to harm themselves. There’s been much persecution of Gay people through the centuries, continuing right up to the present day. Temptations? I’d say drug and alcohol abuse, vulnerability to ex-Gay ministries, hedonism and unsafe sexual practice would fit that category to a tee!

However, Gnostic scripture says that no matter how they're tempted and deceived, and no matter what they may feel forced to do to themselves, the Christ's love for His Incorruptible Generation remains strong. By virtue of His gift of Holy Seed and Holy Bodies, He claims Seth’s offspring as His own, and places them under His Divine protection.

THE EGYPTIAN GOSPEL
Four hundred ethereal angels came from the Great Realms, accompanied by Great Aerosiel and Great Selmechel, to protect the great Incorruptible Generation, its fruitfulness, and the great people of Great Seth, from the time and era of truth and justice until the end of the age and its rulers, whom the Great Judges (have) condemned to death.

Who can worry, then, with the Messiah's guardian angels for protection?

When Jesus Christ descended to Earth, He did so with three tasks in mind. He wanted to bring salvation from the True and Living God to Jews (the chosen people of the Hebrew God) and Gentiles (who had never worshiped the Hebrew God, but were devoted to numerous other false deities), and He wanted to redeem His “deposit” in the world: The people of the Incorruptible Generation. He wanted to restore the birthright of immortality that androgynous creatures lost by being born of mortal men and women. Here’s a description of how He went about doing this, and clarification of the results He achieved:

THE SECRET BOOK OF JOHN
(Jesus Christ said) “I, the Perfect Forethought of all, transformed Myself into my offspring . . . I am the abundance of Light, I am the remembrance of Fullness . . . I brightened My face with light from the consummation of their realm, and entered the midst of their prison, which is the prison of the body . . . a person wept and shed tears! Bitter tears the person wiped away and said, ‘Who is calling my name? From where has my hope come as I dwell in the bondage of prison?’ (Jesus Christ said) I am the forethought of pure Light! I am the thought of the Virgin Spirit who raises you to a place of honor. Arise! Remember . . . trace your root, which is I, the Compassionate . . . (then) I raised and sealed the person in luminous water with five seals, that death might not prevail over the person from that moment on.”

THE EGYPTIAN GOSPEL
From now on, through the Incorruptible Human . . . with regard to those worthy of the invocation and words of renunciation of the five seals in the Baptism of running water, they will know those who receive them, as they are instructed, and they will be known by them, and they shall not taste death!

These passages suggest that such Biblical passages as Luke 9:27(But truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Kingdom of God) do refer to LGBT people, just as I’ve long suspected! Of course, Eternal Life will be given to all men and women who believe in the True and Living God and keep the Ten Commandments, but Gnostic scripture teaches that Lesbians and Gay men have it unconditionally! According to the Gospel of Phillip, their destiny is to become members of a “priestly order” and “attendants of the Bridal Chamber" in Heaven following the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. (By the way, the etymology [origin] of the word "eunuch" is exactly equivalent to the phrase "attendant of a bridal chamber.")

Did you notice, in the previous passage from the Secret Book of John, where the Christ states, “I transformed myself into my offspring”? How intriguing! Could this mean that the Messiah was a member of the Incorruptible Generation in His Earthly form? Yes, I believe it does! Let’s end this voyage through Gnostic mythology by returning to the Gospel of Phillip, where we find this most illuminating tidbit:

THE GNOSTIC GOSPEL OF PHILLIP
There was another generation of people, and these blessed people were called the Chosen Spiritual Ones: True humankind, the Child of Humankind, and the offspring of the Child of Humankind. This true generation is renowned in the world, and this is where the attendants of the Bridal Chamber (eunuchs) are.

Yes, a renowned people! Renowned for their creativity, their sense of style, their sense of humor, their ability to transcend gender roles, and their silent but persistent presence in a Christian church which despises them. They are Holy Eunuchs and Virgins, the priestly order by birth that's destined to serve The Bridegroom (the Christ) and His Bride (Jerusalem) in the Holy Bridal Chamber. They are the genetic offspring of Seth, and the spiritual offspring of the Child of Humankind. Counted among their mighty number are many noted scholars, artists, singers, dancers, actors, scientists, athletes, warriors, and kings and queens. And if Gnostic writings are true, a certain Nazarene whose words and deeds are revered throughout the world may also be counted among them.

This is the strongest evidence yet of something that’s been whispered about for centuries: That Jesus Christ, the Son of God, walked among us as a man of homosexual orientation. Not as a sexual hedonist, mind you, and probably a celibate man for all or much of his life on Earth; but the ancient equivalent of a Gay man nonetheless!

Do you think I‘m one brick short of a load? Some kind of fanatic looking for same-gender subtexts that aren’t really there? Maybe I am crazy. I wouldn't be the best judge of that; but there’s a way for you to know for sure. Find out whether or not my interpretations stand up to scrutiny! Nothing that I’ve cited here is a figment of my imagination. These texts exist! The specific citations I've discussed can be verified. I'm confident that you'll discover the same thing I discovered: An ancient mythology that connects LGBT folk directly to the Christ and Him to them, and that does so within the context of Scripture!

Could the main reason Gnostic writings were suppressed and destroyed possibly be any more plain? Lesbians and Gay men were deliberately demonized by the church! The proof is on display right here! I strongly encourage every LGBT person reading this essay to investigate the Secret Book of John, the Egyptian Gospel and the Gospel of Phillip for themselves. The Book of Thomas, discussed in my blogpost "Blessed Assurance" is also essential reading. You can read them individually or collectively; go to the religion section at your nearest chain bookstore, and you’ll find them available in numerous configurations.

Be forewarned, though! There's much in them that you won't find palatable. Those who believe they chose to be Gay will balk at the idea of genetically-determined sexual orientation. Those who are Pansexual will take umbrage at the idea that they’re suffering from a Contemptible Spirit. The contention that LGBT presence in the world provokes natural disasters will alarm many people regardless of sexual orientation, and to be sure, the idea that ancient Israelites worshiped Satan without realizing it will be anathema to just about everybody!

I’m certainly not asking anybody to believe what these texts say. Although some aspects of Gnostic scripture appear to carry more than a grain of truth, I would never say I believe everything in it.  I do not!  And I surely don't want to confuse mythology with fact. God forbid that I try to lure people into Gnosticism; it's easy to see how it could become as much of a stumbling block to genuine faith as fundamentalism is!

I’m presenting excerpts of Gnostic scripture here because I know that many Gay people have been traumatized by Biblical terrorism. They've been so terribly traumatized, they’ll never believe God loves them unless they can find Scripture that says so explicitly. Well, here is that Scripture! It was for the sake of such people that I feel the Lord allowed crumbling copies of Gnostic writings to be found and distributed all these eons later. I also feel that the Christians who wrote these texts knew themselves to be Lesbian, Gay and Transsexual.

They were the very first Gay activists, preceding by thousands of years German sexologists like Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld. Confronted by religious persecution, these heroic people championed an alternate Christian doctrine which connected them directly to the Savior they loved. How true is their doctrine? As true, I suppose, as what you read in the Bible (or not). Gay-affirming Gnostic Gospels are no more the direct word of God than the books of the Torah are, but they’re not heresies, either! They’re blessings sent out to those who can receive and benefit from them. As our benefactor (Godfather) Jesus Christ so often said as He taught the multitudes, "Whoever has ears to hear should hear."

THE GNOSTIC GOSPEL OF TRUTH
The Father is good. He knows His plants because He planted them in His Paradise . . . nothing happens without the Father’s pleasure, nothing happens without the Father’s will, and His will is incomprehensible . . . none can understand Him, nor does He exist so that they might study Him in order to grasp Him. Rather, when He wills, what He wills is this, even if the view does not please people before God. It is the Father’s will.

20 September 2006

Blessed Assurance (Part One)

This post promises to be one of my most controversial!  I hope it will also be one of my most illuminating.

GNOSTIC BOOK OF THOMAS
Woe to you who love intimacy with womankind and polluted intercourse with them!

This startling statement is attributed to Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God. Feminists and female theologians all over the world have quite understandably reacted with horror and incredulity. Could the Savior possibly have said such a thing? What on Earth could He have meant by it? Did He mean to say that women are evil and deserve to be shunned? Did He mean to say that women's genitalia is unclean? Why would He cast aspersions on the practice of intimacy with women? He wouldn't . . . and He didn't!

The Messiah loved women. We must never forget that, after rising from the dead, He first revealed Himself to a group of women and charged them with spreading the Good News of His Resurrection. He was not a sexist pig by any stretch of the imagination! His actions toward female figures in the Gospel narratives reveal a profound respect for womankind.

I don't doubt that some misogynist theologian somewhere has used this quote to justify his misogyny. I wouldn't be surprised if some Puritan hasn't used it to support imposing celibacy on unmarried people! To be sure, mainstream Catholics and Protestants have used it to support contentions that Gnostic scripture is heretical; citing the quote as undeniable proof of heresy, one Conservative blogger proceeded to dismiss the entire Gnostic canon as "garbage."

In my opinion, these kinds of interpretations are opportunistic and erroneous. Many if not most people will likewise see opportunism and error in my interpretation. However, after reading the Book of Thomas numerous times and praying over it, I feel strongly that God has unlocked the text and revealed important insights to me. Draw close, brothers and sisters, and let me now share those insights with you . . .

The Book of Thomas was partially written as a dialogue between Jesus Christ and His younger brother. Such a dialogue may or may not have taken place; I view the text as a camouflaged sermon directed at a specific population. The controversial verse which has outraged so many women is the giveaway!

The Savior would only have directed such a warning to men who were unsuited for sex with womankind. What kind of men might that be? Isn't it obvious? It's also obvious to me that the word "polluted" doesn't apply to womankind. It applies to the intercourse these kinds of men would attempt to have with womankind! In short, I believe that the infamous verse, as well as all the other content of this book, is directed at Gay men.

In this combined theological discussion and sermon, the Christ confirms what was only hinted at in Isaiah 56 and Matthew 19: That homosexual men are blessed people with a blessed destiny in Heaven! From across a gulf that spans thousands of years, He sends out a blessing meant to strengthen their resolve in the face of hardship.

He also sends out a warning to discourage them from becoming the slaves of sexual immorality that their enemies say they are. The text carries the unmistakable tone of a father lecturing his children, sometimes in a soothing manner and sometimes in a stern way. Significantly, the Christ refers to Gay men as "children", just as He was known to do when speaking to His apostles, some if not most of whom were undoubtedly "born eunuchs."

The most important event in our development as Gay people is discovering the truth about ourselves. I'm not talking about when we first perceive our inner difference; that event tends to occur very early in life, and more often than not, we don't understand its significance. What I'm talking about is the day when the truth about our same-gender attraction dawns on us, and we're suddenly required to re-position ourselves in relation to the world around us.

This can be a most painful and frightening process. Nevertheless, our Savior teaches that we mustn't shy away from the truth or sink into a state of denial:

GNOSTIC BOOK OF THOMAS
(Jesus Christ said)"Examine yourself and understand who you are, how you exist, and how you will come to be . . . it is not fitting for you to be ignorant of yourself . . . for those who have not known themselves have known nothing, but those who have known themselves already have acquired knowledge about the depth of the Universe . . . blessings on the wise person who has sought truth, and when it has been found, has rested upon it forever, and has not been afraid of those who wish to trouble him."

As I've previously discussed, Gnostic scripture (specifically, the Gospel of Philip) depicts Lesbians and Gay men as God's Holy eunuchs and virgins, destined to serve His Kingdom much in the same way that priests and nuns serve the Catholic church. In light of this revelation, we may be tempted to become vainglorious and boastful of our own importance. The Messiah guards against this possibility by reminding us that we're still unimportant!

We haven't yet become worthy of Glory; we're still human, still prisoners of the flesh and subject to temptations of the flesh. As long as we remain alive, we'll have to struggle against what He calls our "animal nature." The Savior acknowledges that what He's giving us is a "teaching for the Perfect," but he tells us in no uncertain terms what must happen before we achieve that lofty status:

GNOSTIC BOOK OF THOMAS(RECONSTRUCTED SCRIPTURE)
(Jesus Christ said)"All bodies have come into being in the same irrational way that animals are produced, and so they are visible . . . those that are above, however, do not exist like those that are visible. Rather, they live from their own root, and their crops nourish them. But the visible bodies feed on creatures that are like them, so the bodies are subject to change. Whatever is subject to change will perish and be lost . . . just as an animal body perishes, these modeled forms will also perish. Are they not from sexual intercourse like that of the animals? . . . you are beginners and have not attained the greatness of Perfection . . . you are children until you become Perfect."

In this passage, the Nazarene begins to lament humankind's vulnerability to its own animal lust:

GNOSTIC BOOK OF THOMAS
(Jesus Christ said)"Oh, bitterness of the fire! You blaze in the bodies of people, and in the marrow of their bones, blazing in them night and day, burning their limbs and making their minds drunk and their souls deranged. You dominate males and females day and night; you move and arouse them secretly and visibly. When the males are aroused, they are attracted to the females, and the females to the males . . . everyone who seeks truth from true wisdom will fashion wings to fly, fleeing from the passion that burns human spirits."

Again, it's very tempting to gloat and feel superior to the heterosexual population after reading a passage like this one. Know, however, that the Messiah isn't just talking about heterosexual status here. All sexual attraction operates according to a male/female dynamic. As I previously noted in Part Three of my post "Why Gay People Exist," the "female power" governs a Gay man's attraction to men, while the "male power" governs a Lesbian's attraction to women.

When you think about it, there's really nothing "homosexual" about the way we love! In our own complex way, we're still boys chasing girls and girls chasing boys, and we're just as susceptible to male/female passions as any Straight person! Our blended gender status makes the way we love look more unique than it actually is. The Savior understands this, of course, and so He cautions Gay men against carnal temptations that can lead them astray:

GNOSTIC BOOK OF THOMAS
(Jesus Christ said)"Some people have wings, but rush toward visible things that are far from truth. The fire that guides them gives them an illusion of truth. It will shine on them with a perishable beauty, and it will imprison them in dark delight and capture them in sweet-smelling pleasure! And it will make them blind with insatiable desire, (inflaming) their souls, and be like a stake that is jammed into their hearts and can never be removed. Like a bit in the mouth, it leads them according to its own wish. It has bound them with its chains, and tied all their limbs with the bitterness of the bondage of desire for those visible things that perish and change and fluctuate impulsively. They have always been drawn downward. When they are slain, they are drawn to all the animals of corruption."

In this chilling passage, the Savior all but predicts the rampant sexual hedonism that will conquer Gay men eons later and give rise to the horrendous AIDS epidemic. Is He saying, then, that homosexuality is sinful and should be abstained from? Those who consider homosexual relations sinful (but are wise enough to know that trying to coerce heterosexuality is futile) often urge celibacy upon Gay people. Frankly, I find this idea dangerous. Evidently, Gnostic Christians did, too.

The Gnostic Gospel of Philip tells us: Fear not the flesh, nor love it. If you fear it, it will gain mastery over you. If you love it, it will swallow and paralyze you. The concept of enforced celibacy doesn't come from God! It's a human invention. Sexual desire is one of our most powerful emotions; if we try to suppress it, it can consume us, overwhelming rational thought and perverting behavior in all kinds of alarming ways (just think of the Religious Right's obsession with sex)!

For human beings of all sexual orientations, there must be a safety valve. One exists, and it's the same for everyone. No, I'm not talking about masturbation! I'm talking about the committed relationship: Monogamy.

When Thomas rather timidly asks his brother if born eunuchs should seek companionship among themselves ("is it beneficial for us to rest among our own?"), the Messiah answers affirmatively: Yes, it is useful, and it is good for you.

Now, Jesus Christ certainly isn't naïve! He knows that if Gay men spend time together, some of them are bound to fall in love and pursue physically intimate relationships. It's a natural thing for them to do. If He considered such relationships sinful, wouldn't He have answered the question differently? He does not command that we avoid having sexual relations with one another! However, He does remind us that carnality will not exist in the Eternal Realm: The things visible among people will pass away.

"Blessed Assurance" concludes with Part Two.

19 September 2006

Blessed Assurance (Part Two)

Was Thomas, the brother of Jesus Christ, a man of homosexual orientation? It would certainly seem so, judging from the context of this narrative. Given the dearth of tolerance for Lesbians and Gay men in the Christian world, it's important to know that some figures from the Bible were homosexual. However, at the moment, the matter of Thomas's sexual orientation is of secondary concern. Rather than waste our time speculating on which of the Christ's disciples and family members were born eunuchs, we do better to concentrate on absorbing the wisdom of the Gnostic Book of Thomas. To be sure, it's of as much value to us as it would've been to any of them . . . if not more.

As we resume our study of this amazing text, we find Thomas expressing alarm about the level of persecution that Gay men (eunuchs) face. The level was high even in Biblical times. Orthodox rabbis decreed that all men should marry women and sire offspring, and they spoke as harshly against eunuchs as James Dobson or Pat Robertson would today.

Many oppose them, Thomas notes. I am very concerned about them . . . what shall we say to those who are blind? There can be no question that the "blind" people he's referring to were members of antiquity's religious Right Wing, those same wretches who ushered our Savior to His Earthy demise! The Christ advised his younger brother not to fret over the keepers of orthodoxy or their hostility to God's gender-blended children. His advice sounds as good today as it must've sounded eons ago, but I doubt religious Right Wingers of any era would appreciate it:

GNOSTIC BOOK OF THOMAS
(Jesus Christ said)"Do not think of these as human beings, but regard them as animals! As animals devour each other, so people like this will devour each other. They are deprived of the Kingdom, since they love the delight of fire and are slaves of death and rush to deeds of corruption! They fulfill the desires of their parents. They will be cast down into the abyss . . . fire will consume them! Whoever has persecuted you will be handed over to the angel Tartarouchos, who has flaming fire that pursues them, and fiery whips that spew forth sparks into the face of one pursued. If he flees to the West, he finds fire! If he turns South, he finds it there as well. If he turns North, the threat of erupting fire meets him again. Nor can he find the way to the East, to flee there and be saved, for he did not find it while embodied so as to find it on the day of Judgment."

At this point, Thomas drops out of the narrative and the Nazarene begins to address us directly. First, he scolds us soundly! In the following passage, the Son of God admonishes those of us who resist our natural orientation, reminding us that what God has created cannot be done away with. He warns that we do great harm to ourselves when we try to become other than what we are. He warns against the love of carnality that leads Gay men into compulsive sexual encounters with one another, and (sometimes) with women. He warns against the practice of Gay men marrying and mating with women, comparing these acts to voluntary bondage. He commands us to stay true to our natures.

GNOSTIC BOOK OF THOMAS
(Jesus Christ said)"How long will you sleep and think that what is imperishable will perish? Your hope is based upon the world, and your God is this present life. You are destroying your souls! Shame on you with the fire that burns within you! It is insatiable . . . shame on you because of the smoldering within you! It will prepare you for each other . . . darkness has risen in you like the light, for you have surrendered your freedom to slavery . . . you have pursued your own wishes . . . shame on you who love intercourse and filthy association with the female!"

Having disciplined us to His satisfaction, the Good Shepherd changes His tone. He gathers us all into a warm embrace, plants Holy kisses on our chastened foreheads, affirms our God-given gift, and gently reminds us of our Divine destiny:

GNOSTIC BOOK OF THOMAS
(Jesus Christ said) "Blessings on you who understand beforehand the temptations and flee from things that are alien. Blessings on you who are mocked and are not respected because of the love your Master has for you. Blessings on you who weep and are oppressed by those who have no hope, for you will be released from all bondage. Watch and pray that you may not remain in the flesh, but that you may leave the bondage of the bitterness of this life; and when you pray, you will find Rest, for you have left pain and reproach behind! When you leave the pains and passions of the body, you will receive Rest from the Good One. You will reign with the King, you united with Him and He with you, from now on and forever."

Of course, topping the list of "things that are alien" would be the aforementioned "polluted intercourse." Being mocked, disrespected, oppressed and reproached, well . . . we certainly know all about that, don't we? The Christ's promise of an afterlife where we enjoy royal stature is a fabulous consolation prize, though!

It's worth noting here that there's a passage in the Gnostic Gospel of Philip which states: The attendants of the Bridal Chamber (eunuchs) have only one name, and that is Rest. So it seems we can look forward to yet another gift from God.

Read independently of other Gnostic texts, the Gospel of Thomas's direct relevance to men of homosexual orientation may elude some people. However, read in tandem with the Gospel of Philip and the Secret Book of John, its relevance should become clear, even to the most stubborn skeptic. I will discuss revelations from the Secret Book and revisit Philip's amazing Gospel in future postings.

Let me say something to women who may be reading this essay: I realize that Gnostic and Biblical texts alike are hopelessly male-oriented and largely neglectful of feminine priorities. Yet, I feel confident in saying that this sermon from the Book of Thomas applies to Lesbians and Gay men equally!

What would you think if the controversial quote from Jesus Christ had been worded like this: Woe to you who love intimacy with men and polluted intercourse with them! Would it make more sense to you as doctrine? I wouldn't discourage you from reading the Christ's warning in this way. On the contrary, I would encourage it! I want you to own this teaching. Sheathe it deep within your hearts.

"Jesus Christ never talked about homosexuality!" How many times have I heard Progressive theologians repeat that false mantra???!! They do so in some misguided attempt to protect Gay people from religious bigotry. I suspect some of them actually know it's not true. I know I could never accept it! I couldn't believe that my Savior would fail to speak about me. How could he ignore a population which was so incredibly unique and which inspired such widespread antipathy?

So you can imagine what joy filled my heart the day I discovered those wonderful verses about born eunuchs in the Gospel According to Matthew. I immediately suspected there was more to be learned about Gay people from Scripture, and I actively began searching for that knowledge. Today, I can say that not only have I found a wealth of new information in Gnostic texts, I've also deduced the shameful reason the early Christian church tried to destroy them.

There are numerous Gnostic passages which are guaranteed to offend orthodox sensibilities, but I'm convinced that the teachings about eunuchs represented the most poisonous of poison pills for Fundamentalist leaders to swallow. These teachings aren't easy to decipher, but they are decipherable, and I'm sure many people in antiquity understood them. I'm also sure many people in antiquity decried them.

The early church hierarchy didn't want our relationship to the kingdom of Heaven known; instead, they preferred using heterosexual society's hostility toward us as a proselytizing tool. Toward that end, they initiated a campaign of destroying and distorting Scripture at our expense. What a diabolically clever strategy that was! It still works, and they're still employing it today.

Since long before the first appearance of the King James Bible in the 17th century, the self-anointed keepers of Christian doctrine have succeeded at suppressing the truth about us, but . . . hallelujah! The lost Gnostic manuscripts found in Egypt sixty years ago are now widely available, and more Christians are discovering them every day. Scholars around the world are busy interpreting them, and while heterosexist assumptions seem to have clouded their understanding thus far, it shouldn't be long before some of them reach the same glorious conclusion I've reached: The Lord Jesus is yours, and mine!

BLESSED ASSURANCE
words by Fanny Crosby, music by Phoebe Knapp
Originally published in 1873

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine/
O! What a foretaste of Glory Divine/
Heir of salvation, purchase of God/
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Perfect submission, perfect delight/
Visions of rapture burst on my sight/
Angels descending bring from above/
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at Rest/
I in my Savior am happy and blessed/
Watching and waiting, looking above/
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

This is my story! This is my song/
Praising my Savior, all the day long/
This is my story! This is my song/
Praising my Savior, all the day long.

06 September 2006

Bad Tree, Bad Fruit (Part One)

Once upon a time, there was a preacher who ran a Gay-affirming Christian blog with his wife.  One day, he posted the following text on his blog:

A few weeks ago, (my wife) and I attended a ministry leadership conference in Dallas with our pastor and close friend . . . when we checked into the hotel and picked up our itinerary, I was shocked to see the name of an arch-Conservative writer and (minister) leader listed as one of the leaders . . . as I expressed my horror that someone with these views would be part of this event’s leadership, (my wife) assumed her role as the voice of reason. She told me not to discount his teachings that were consistent with God’s word and the Holy Spirit just because he was badly off-base in (the) area (of Gay Rights). . . as it turns out, this speaker was unable to attend the conference, and was replaced by someone I did not know, so my concern from the previous day turned out to be moot . . . the topic of homosexuality never came up, so I don’t know where the individual speakers stood on GLBT issues. I do know what they said touched my heart and filled me with the Holy Spirit, and that’s all that really mattered.

I had another enlightening experience this weekend. I’m frequently reaching out to other blogs and Internet sites to attract more readership to my blog . . . I received a response from one such blogger who indicated that, while he did not share my (tolerant) views on homosexuality, he was a Christian and felt that the discussion taking place on my blog was important enough for him to write about and provide a link to mine . . . I wrote about this exchange, but not all of the readers wanted to join this dialogue. A Gay man posted the following: “Contrary to what you say here, I believe that (this man) is indeed my sworn enemy . . . as a heterosexual man, you see nothing wrong in meeting him on equal footing to discuss doctrine. Let me emphasize that the two of you are indeed meeting on equal footing, because your sexuality makes you "clean" in his eyes. Do you think he would see me in the same way? He would not! . . . I won't establish regular dialogue with anyone who thinks himself qualified to place me outside the realm of God's love. To my thinking, that would be validating someone's exaggerated opinion of himself vis-a-vis God, which would be akin to idolatry.”

I was taken aback by the depth of this man’s anger. While there is likely plenty of justification, I don’t believe anything constructive can come of it. Those who preach the true message of Christ are not our enemies. If they are truly seeking Christ and are led by the Holy Spirit, there is automatically common ground that we can share with them, regardless of their beliefs about homosexuality or other issues . . . those who are seeking don’t need anger directed toward them. They need to be taught how God loves GLBT people and, just as importantly, how the Holy Spirit fills them up. The best way to show this is to allow Christ to lift you past the hurt and anger that has built up because of the pain inflicted upon you by family, friends, and the Church.

The excerpted text you just read was taken from a blog called Gay Christian Outreach. I am the Gay man the preacher talks about, the one he characterized as being too angry. The other blogger he refers to was a raging Bible bigot, eager to spew the usual condemnation and vilification his kind always spews at LesBiGay people. Naturally, after I read this text, I felt the need to respond. This is what I said to the preacher:

What I think you're missing is that, while this fellow (you talk about) may indeed be seeking Christ, he is not being led by the Holy Spirit in his search. The Holy Spirit will never lead you to a place where ostracizing and stigmatizing your brother is justified. There can be no common ground with those who try to put themselves in God's place and mangle Scripture to suit their prejudices . . . not if the ground we're standing on is supposed to be Holy Ground.

In the past, I've said that Christianity is like a fire; it has incredible power that can be used for good or for harm. Those who believe as (this man) does are like reckless children, playing with fire and burning innocent people without knowing what they're doing. This can and will lead to tragedy! Such people need to be disciplined, so that they no longer present a danger to others. More important, they need discipline so that they no longer distort Christian doctrine.

I hate to say it . . . but I think you and (your wife) value tradition over truth to a certain extent. Just because a false doctrine has been dominant for a long time doesn't make it right! Couching it in sound doctrine doesn't make it right, either. If it wasn't right when first presented, it still isn't right five thousand years later. The Christ did not teach what Bible fundamentalists say He taught! Yes, the Savior's message can be interpreted in different ways, but it must never be distorted! We cannot become comfortable with hatred being preached in the name of God.

Hurt and anger can be very useful emotions . . . when channeled in the right direction, they can be used to teach, to call attention to a problem, and to open a pathway to healing. A doctor doesn't allow a boil go untreated; he lances it, lets the poison drain out, and then applies disinfectant and bandages. You want to put the bandages on before the illness is treated! A patient can die that way! The heterosexist boil on the face of the Christian church must be lanced. It will cause a great deal of pain. That's unavoidable, but remember that healing must come eventually.

For two people who identify themselves as Gay allies, you and your wife seem shockingly naïve about LesBiGay anger. Let me try to make you understand a little better: Not long ago, I tried to bring the Christ's true message of love and salvation to a group of "queers." They describe themselves that way in an attempt to steel themselves against the kind of derogatory names they're called on a regular basis. That's (a whole other) issue . . . no sooner had I mentioned the name of Jesus Christ than they attacked me tooth and claw! They told me they didn't need a Savior. They called me a bizarre wacko, coming among them with superstitious bullsh*t. They accused me of being an "ex-Gay" activist in disguise.

Did I let my pride take over? Did I accuse them of being unreasonable? No, I didn't. I understand this reaction . . . I've been in their shoes, many times. I've been ostracized, vilified, threatened, beaten, and most recently, denounced by a Fundamentalist minister at my own father's funeral.

I've had to fight with all my being to repel the sense of shame and doom that society presses on Gay people! I've watched people be crushed to death beneath centuries' worth of hateful doctrine. If you manage to survive running the gauntlet of relentless heterosexism, then a hot temper, a surly attitude, a low tolerance for condescension . . . these are the least you can expect to come away with.

You will never be able to grasp the intensity of everything that folks like me go through, but you and your wife need to try harder to understand. You really, really do! Otherwise, your attempts to bring people together in Christian love will fail miserably, and you'll be left wondering why.

I regretted reading that homosexual issues were not addressed at that church conference you attended. Those issues are too important, too relevant to ever be ignored at such a gathering. The boil on the face of the Church is festering! It threatens to poison the entire body. However painful it may turn out to be, that boil needs to be treated. Ignoring it won't make it better!

Maybe I'm shockingly naïve, too. Maybe I'm too trusting when I see a website whose host claims to be an advocate for LesBiGay issues. Some heterosexual folk sincerely do want to advocate for us, but they can't manage it because they're still dealing with their own issues. They've never really explored the full extent of their feelings about Gay people. They've never asked themselves if they really believe God condemns homosexuality.

They've never tried to put themselves in the shoes of a Gay person, either. They think the problem of religious heterosexism can be nicely smoothed over by evoking the Holy Spirit's name, joining adversaries' hands together, and singing inspirational songs. Then everybody goes back to what they were doing before, and if what some of them were doing before was genocidal to LGBT folk, well, that's just fine and dandy!

Forget about it! That kum bah yah yang doesn't qualify as Christian advocacy in my book. This clergyman and his wife don't realize it, but they are enablers. Their head-in-the-sand approach to combating religious bigotry enables hatemongers to keep on preaching their hate! Clearly, they both love God. Clearly, they value their relationship with the Church. They want to keep divisive issues from disturbing the serenity they find there. They have good motives. They just don't have a good grasp of Christianity! The Savior said . . .

MATTHEW 7: 15-21
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits! Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire! Thus, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven.

The well-meaning preacher and his wife seem to have forgotten this teaching. They think good fruit can come from bad trees! If they don't open their eyes soon and see these rotten trees for what they are, I fear they'll end up watching their beloved Church go up in smoke amidst the thorny branches when God hurls them into the fire that burns forever.

LUKE 12: 51-53
(Jesus Christ said) "Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the Earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided father against son, and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."

"Bad Tree, Bad Fruit" continues with Part Two.

05 September 2006

Bad Tree, Bad Fruit (Part Two)

There are Straight allies out there who have no trouble recognizing corrupt trees by their fruit. Jerry Maneker is one of them. He's Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the Chico campus of California State University. He's a happily married practicing Catholic, and also an ordained Catholic Priest. How is that possible?

Here's how: The Catholic Church's draconian rules regarding sexuality and marriage led Jerry to abandon orthodox Catholicism. Now he serves God as a member of the rapidly growing Independent Catholic denomination. This man knows all about twisted doctrine, and he knows how to respond to it, too. He elaborates on that topic in this very timely epistle he wrote for the website christiangays.com, and which he's graciously allowed me to reproduce here. As the Savior, Jesus Christ stated many eons ago: Whoever has ears to hear should hear!

Dear Friends:

I must disagree when some encourage people to remain in homophobic churches so as to be in a position to educate and change them. Beyond the fact that they have done more to initiate and foment anti-LGBT rhetoric and the ensuing shame, self-loathing, and suicides of LGBT people, they have also, by that rhetoric and their exclusionary practices, set the climate for the bashing and killing of LGBT people . . .

(They allow) many of the perpetrators of this violence to feel they are doing God a favor by their hateful actions. I feel that God is leading increasing numbers of Christians to leave these pathetic, moribund, frequently hate-filled "churches" and denominations, led by frequently ignorant and/or mendacious clergy, and calling us into a post-denominational era . . . Christians are going to form their own worship communities that preach and exemplify the only Gospel to be found in Christianity: The Gospel of Grace (God's unmerited favor to us), Faith (trusting God over and above seen circumstances), Love, Peace, Reconciliation, and Inclusiveness.

By remaining in churches that preach and practice a religion of exclusion, and supporting them with our presence, energies, and monies, we are witting or unwitting accomplices to their perversion of the Gospel (blogmaster's note: Amen! Preacher, fold your Bible!), and they are far more likely to change us than we are likely to change them!

I've had occasion to teach on the (anti-Gay) "clobber passages" (in the Bible) to Fundamentalists, and regardless of the logic of my explanations of these passages, utilizing the original language, they tenaciously hung on to their prejudices!

This battle is not about two sets of reasonable people sitting down and reasoning together. It's about pure, naked prejudice and hate-mongering from all too many pulpits throughout the world. (They) have to be confronted by our turning our backs on them, not in any way supporting them, and going back to the model of the early Church where people met in each other's homes, divested of edifices and careers that had to be maintained by keeping the money rolling in.

Unfortunately, many clergy know that the best way to have and keep the money rolling in is to practice a religion of exclusion, and encourage an "us against them" mentality (which) encourages even more financial giving to enhance clergy careers. All too much of the organized "Church" has for far too long, by practicing the false gospel of legalism, perfectionism, and exclusion, led the way in discriminating against assorted minority groups, from women to Afro-Americans to LGBT people . . .

Change of the religious institutions in society regarding Civil Rights isues (has) never happened from within . . . when it comes to Civil Rights issues, it's been the secular society that has largely led the way to freedom and emancipation, with the religious institutions following suit once the hard-fought-for freedoms (have) been won.

It's high time we turn our backs on "traditions that make void the word of God"(Matthew 15:3), and on the institutions that embody those traditions that have the effect of historically demonizing assorted minority groups. The Church, the Ecclesia, the called-out ones, aren't restricted to inhabiting buildings! Rather, they are in disparate places and we have to seek each other out and worship together "in spirit and in truth," (embracing) each and every one of God's children. To do otherwise is not being faithful to the Gospel, or to Jesus (Christ's) call on our lives, and His call for unity of His Church.

Let the church say "Amen!" How these words gladden my heart!

I'm aware that many Christians and non-Christians alike find the positions I take extreme and unsupportable. I find them far less extreme and much more supportable than the bigoted positions most "mainstream" clergy take in regard to who the Christ was and what Christian ministry should be; however, I certainly can't claim that my viewpoints are shared by a majority of people.

I started Christ, The Gay Martyr with the understanding that I would probably be a solitary voice in the wilderness. That's why it's incredibly gratifying to find someone whose views on Christianity complement my own to such an extent. Jerry wanted to me to include this additional commentary here, so there'd be absolutely no question about where he's coming from as a theologian:

I refuse to let the perverters of the Gospel of Grace hijack "Christianity," and convert it over to their own twisted view of the world and of the Christian life. We are Christians, dammit! And the twisted freaks, no matter how large their number, are to never take that name away from us . . . I turn my back on most of the institutional "Church," but I'll never relinquish the label "Christian" because of haters and hatemongers who gravitate to "religion" in order to "justify" their prejudices and hateful acts in the name of God, or "because the Bible tells me so."

Well said, Jerry! Thank you. That, in a nutshell, is the primary message I hope to convey with this blog of mine. Shame on those who dare call themselves ministers of the Gospel and who wickedly use Scripture to justify prejudice! The only words that should ever come before or after the phrase because the Bible tells me so are Jesus loves me, this I know. We learn that much as children! What in Hell are these Conservative Bible colleges teaching that has made so many of their graduates forget?

Visit Jerry Maneker's "Christian LGBT Rights" website: