Prophets of Baal

The American Academy of Religion slides toward decadence.
The Gay Men’s Issues in Religion Group within the AAR has set for its theme for the program: “Power and Submission, Pain and Pleasure: The Religious Dynamics of Sadomasochism.” It also has another session on the program, half of which is devoted to transgenderism.

Last year, Gagnon says, the group featured a session on the topic: “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing: Varied Views on Polyamory.” (Don’t bother looking up that last word in the dictionary. It’s not there yet. It means having sexual relations with more than one partner at a time.)

About the “Power and Submission” topic, the program explains:

Sadomasochistic or bondage/dominance practice (sometimes also referred to as “leather sexuality”) … offers a particularly potent location for reflecting on gay men’s issues in religion.

One of the papers presented by Justin Tanis of the Metropolitan Community Church, a homosexual “denomination,” if you will, is titled “Ecstatic Communion: The Spiritual Dimensions of Leathersexuality.”

Read the entire article on the World Net Daily website.


27 thoughts on “Prophets of Baal”

  1. Didn’t Saint Paul remonstrate the early Corinthian church which had liturgies celebrated by transvestites and other similarly bizzare practices? With gentle firmness Saint Paul tried to teach the Corinthians that such practices are at the very least, a total distraction from the worhip of God, and at most sinful and offensive. In “Desire of the Everlasting Hills’, author Tom Cahill writes that travelling from ancient Ephesus to Corinth during the time of Saint Paul was like going from proper Victorian Boston to Dodge City.

    So what would Saint Paul do? While he would want the Church to be open and welcoming to Gays, he would insist that the purpose of the Church is to bring people closer to God and teach them about Jesus Christ. He would say that the church has no business promoting alternative lifestyles that have nothing do do with God, and may in fact teach people a selfish, self-centered and unloving approach towards sexuality. Perhaps it is no coincidince that we find some of the most beautiful words written by Saint Paul, his “Hymn to Love”, in one of his letters to the Corinthians.

  2. Dean asks, “Didn’t Saint Paul remonstrate the early Corinthian church which had liturgies celebrated by transvestites and other similarly bizzare practices?” No. Where did you get this idea? Are you sure you are not confusing ancient pagan practice with Christian?

    Dean asserts, “So what would Saint Paul do? While he would want the Church to be open and welcoming to Gays, he would insist that the purpose of the Church is to bring people closer to God and teach them about Jesus Christ.”

    Paul was not a liberal relativist. Don’t protect the pornographic culture infecting the American Academy of Relgion with liberal vagaries on tolerance. Most important, don’t use the scripture to do it.

  3. Father Jacobse: I said Saint Paul would condemn the activities of the Metropolitan Community Church. Remonstrate means “to offer opposing arguments”. I said “the church has no business promoting alternative lifestyles”. Was that not strong enough?

  4. No, you said that the early Corinthian church had “liturgies celebrated by transvestites.” Yes, of course St. Paul would “remonstrate” such activities, but is the historical point even accurate?

    Then you you assert that Paul “would want to the Church to be opening and welcoming to Gays” (why the capital letter?).

    The entire post is confused. Are we to read that the Academy of Religion is wrong to allow licentiousness on the program but should not criticize those who present it?

    Hence my rejection of your implicit conclusion that Paul was a liberal relativist.

  5. On the surface, the topics appear scandalous. Nevertheless, one only has to look at some early practices of the Church, including self-flagellation, physical penance and the excesses of the Inquisition to find that these topics are actually universal. If one doesn’t think there is/was an element of sado-masochism in these practices (which are still alive in some parts of the religious world), one is being hopelessly naive.
    (See this for more information.)

    While some of the AAR’s forums appear simply silly, I would take a closer look at the material presented before making a final judgement.

    (Please don’t infer this is in any way an interest of mine!! 🙂

  6. James, these examples are not universal in any sense at all, or part of early Church history for that matter.* Even where they did exist, their focus was the punishment of the physical body (mostly a medieval sensibility carried way too far), not sexual self-gratification.

    *I’ve never heard of self-flagellation taught in Christianity in any serious way before the medieval period and then only locally, never universally. I checked the website you listed and could not find anything to challenge this.

    Further, given that the Inquisition has been roundly condemned by all quarters, how does it serve as an example for a “closer look” at theological sado-masochism? Your comparison would diminish the the credibility of AAR sexual seminars ISTM, unless of course you believe that the Inquistion is one of the nobler periods of Roman Catholic history.

    BTW, the inclusion of these seminars is a bit more than “silly.” They represent a moral collapse. Here is the list of the entire program.

  7. Universal in the sense of non-specific to ideology, though not common (it’s a fringe within a fringe). Opus Dei is an ultra-conservative religious organization that exists today that utilizes physical punishment and penance. I would suggest that it is the release of endorphins, not a misplaced desire for unity with God, that is often behind such actions as whipping, restraints and self-induced starvation and anorexia.

    I will admit that I’m mystified as to why they’d present material that would appeal to such a narrow range of people in the first place and whether they’re presenting it to inform or to encourage.

  8. Does on really need to take a “closer look” at “Ecstatic Communion: The Spiritual Dimensions of Leathersexuality”, “S/M Rituals in Gay Men’s Leather Communities: Initiation, Power Exchange, and Subversion”, “Religious Experience and Homoerotic Sadomasochism in Jeremiah”, “Choice, Shame, and Power in the Construction of Sadomasochistic Theologies”, “(Marriage) Queered: Proposing Polyfidelity As Christian Theo-Praxis” in order to determine that this is simply obscene? Do we all need to sit through these “lectures” in order to condemn this reduction of religious experience to nothing more than personal sexual satisfaction?

    This is what happens when one spends one’s entire life in academia and never actually has to grow up: The mind turns to mush and one starts to think that “leathersexuality” and sadomasochism may be alternative paths to God.

    There’s only one path to God, and it’s straight, narrow and is not open to this kind of … stuff.

  9. They are presenting it to gain moral legitimacy for sexual perversion. Hold the seminar in a Holiday Inn somewhere with no one but practitioners in the audience and it’s a group of compulsive sex-addicts. Hold it under the auspices of the AAR and it doesn’t seem so fringe anymore. The failing here is on the part of the AAR. They will discover that homosexual themes will dominate the entire organization in a few years. Gagnon warms that conferences like this indicate what mainstream churches will be pushing in the future.

  10. 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, where Saint Paul explicitly addresses the issue of sexual morality, is worth rereading and probably the best reference on this subject. Saint Paul discusses the role of the human body as a part of the body of Christ and rejects the pursuit of hedonistic sexual pleasure as an end in itself. Clearly the activities of the Metropolitan Community Church which celebrate sexual pleasure as an end in itself are at variance with Christian teachings.

    19-20: Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourselves but to God; He bought you for a price. So use your bodies for God’s glory

    When I said that Saint Paul would want to the Church to be opening and welcoming to gays, I meant that we would rather have a gay person in the Church on Sunday, hearing the Gospel message, than in a bathhouse somewhere. I didn’t mean to suggest anymore than that.

  11. Why, though, this preoccupation with homosexuality? Why would you rather have a gay person in Church than, say, the local 7-11 clerk? What difference would it make?

    If you say there is no fundamental difference (and there is none), then why offer the exhortation to “be welcoming to Gays” in juxtaposition to your criticism of decadence of the AAR?

    You responded as if any criticism of homosexuality requires a retort defending gays. The primary problem is not your reflexive liberalism however, but your use of scripture as the justification for it. Paul, as I wrote, was not a liberal relativist and should not be quoted as if he were. Your historical facts could use more accuracy as well.

  12. Fr. Jacobse:

    From a layperson. What would be left of the foundations of Christian theology if we could ignore the very pointed and explicitly worded condemnation of homosexuality by St. Paul? How could any Christian claim any intellectual integrity for Christian theology, if Paul’s explicit teaching on homosexuality is trivialized? It clearly was not trivial for St. Paul.

  13. Three points.

    First, the “Hymn to Love” in 1 Corinthians 13 concerns selfless love (agape), not desiring love (eros). It has no place at all in this discussion.

    Second, lest we be tempted at all by the idea that Paul was indeed a liberal relativist, let us review his very specific teaching on homosexuality (and I’m surprised nobody has brought this up yet):

    “Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.” (Romans 1:20-27)

    Paul describes homosexual behavior specifically as moral and physical degradation allowed by God as a punishment for turning away from Him. The point is not which individual cases prove or disprove his point. The point is that this is what Paul taught, and the implication is that if he welcomed homosexuals into the Church at all, he welcomed only those who were actively repenting their behavior. (Don’t come after me about this one. I’m simply pointing out what Paul said and the context he put it in. It’s in the text; argue with the text.)

    Third, “remonstrate” is not a transitive verb. The proper usage is ” to remonstrate with” someone.

  14. Missourian, if I may jump in front of Fr. Hans: You are right. Nothing would be left. And that is exactly the point for those who, in the name of secular “freedoms” to follow whatever form of self-degradation they please, lay indiscriminate waste to our culture and society. For these people, St. Paul is and always will be the stumbling block. This is why he is constantly pushed into the role of the uptight killjoy who ruined nice sweet Christianity for the rest of us. Compared to St. Paul’s letters, the Gospels are relatively easy to recast as unthreatening testimonies to free love.

    I was on a business trip last winter and found myself in a hotel room watching late-night cable. I don’t remember the channel, but a program came on about homosexual women rabbis, their “stories” and “struggles,” etc. One of them stated forcefully that those aspects of Judaism which are incompatible with homosexuality must de facto be changed, and that her mission is to bring this change about. Upon hearing this, I finally understood that there is a homosexual agenda which will fight against anything which stands in its way. The homosexual movement cannot tolerate even one challenge to its own validity; it therefore cannot compromise or negotiate. It seeks its own victory over all else. Anything that is not “gay” or “gay-friendly” in society must be made so or destroyed or marginalized to the point of irrelevance. The ironic result is a movement which adopts terms like “bigotry” and “evil” to describe its opponents and “tolerance” and “openness” to describe its adherents, all the while working to construct a culture which will brook not the slightest disagreement.

    The homosexual movement will NEVER reconcile with St. Paul, but will always seek to cast him out.

  15. So is the implication that all of Christian theology would collapse if Paul’s stance on homosexuality not taken literally and to be all-encompassing? I would hope not! St. Paul also believed that Christ’s return was imminent (within his lifetime). This great saint’s belief on this particular turned out to be false.

    Two things on homosexuality:
    1) Old Testament references: Sexuality in the OT designated the participants (most usually the woman) as the property of the male. It is natural that the OT writers abhorred homosexual conduct between men as it shattered their hierarchical and misogynistic understanding of sex. Correct me if I’m wrong, but there is nothing in the OT on homosexual conduct between two women. The Leviticus text references only men. I think this is noteworthy, considering the very explicit nature of the moral code as it is laid out.
    Also, the two or three passages on homosexuality are often requested to be taken at face value, while we are to disregard the Deuteronomy references that mandate that: a) a woman who is raped who does NOT cry out (even if she has a knife at her throat) must be stoned to death b)newly-wed males must NOT enter military service for one whole year c)virgin women must marry their rapists because they are “spoiled” and d)military officers may take as their bride any woman they wish in the lands they conquered (whatever the will of the female may be). Why is this?

    2) New Testament references: Again, I’m not sure why this particular reference from St. Paul must be taken at face value while his statements such as that it’s disgraceful for men to have long hair, that women must cover their heads when they pray, that women are to have no authority over men and that slaves are to obey their masters must all be taken within a “cultural context”.

    Again, I believe sexuality can most definitely be used for evil purposes. I also think that there of course radicals who wish to impose an “amoral” standard on the rest of society, whether it’s sadomasochism or sex without consequences or commitment. Unfortunately we have reached a point where both sides appear to be attempting to silence the other, which only aggravates the extremists within both to push farther to the nether regions of either total depravity or unjust and merciless oppression.

    My issue with St. Paul’s reference is that I am aware of gays who seem to find it easy to repent of their selfishness, dishonesty or greed but simply can’t find a way to honestly* repent of an identification with those of the same gender. They also seem to earnestly seek a relationship with God, which seems to contradict Paul’s statement that they have abandoned God already.

  16. Dean’s main point was not to criticize the AAR but to exhort us (once again) that churches have to be “gay friendly” (something like “seeker friendly”). This is apparent by the fact that the two points he brought up have no logical relationship even though Dean joined them. The question then became: why did he join them?

    It was necessary to clear this dross in order to avoid discussing homosexuality on the ground of moral relativism. Then any criticism of the AAR seminars would have to be accompanied with endless assurances of sensitivity to homosexual persons — a credential Dean exhibited from the outset and implicitly required of every other respondent.

    Once the ground was clear however, good questions, and even better responses (in this case from Bill), was possible.

    Speaking of experiences that exhibited the uncompromising stridency of homosexual activism…

    While a priest in Duluth, MN, the local synogogue got a closeted lesbian rabbi to replace the male rabbi that retired. It was a small community and they were grateful they got anyone at all. Suspicions grew when a girlfriend came and lived with the rabbi (rabbiess?) but the worst of it was when the rabbi announced her lesbianism on Passover. The entire affair was obscene — not the lesbianism, but the rewriting of the Exodus narrative, which, if you know anything about Judaism, is the event that constitutes the community as people of God (it prefigures Christian baptism), as a homosexual tract.

    The synogogue was outraged (justifably so)and I ended up giving them OT scripture verses on homosexuality so they could prove the rabbi’s actions were wrong.

    Bill is correct. Homosexual behavior can never be reconciled with scripture, hence the great hostility toward the Apostle Paul who articulates the prohibition most clearly.

  17. James, you wrote: “My issue with St. Paul?s reference is that I am aware of gays who seem to find it easy to repent of their selfishness, dishonesty or greed but simply can?t find a way to honestly* repent of an identification with those of the same gender. They also seem to earnestly seek a relationship with God, which seems to contradict Paul?s statement that they have abandoned God already.”

    They will discover that as they continue seeking God, He will direct them away from homosexual behavior. Same-sex attraction is a deeper issue, but no healing can take place on this level if behavior is ongoing. One powerful element of the prohibition is that it directs thinking into a different direction, and it can even give shape to the longing for wholeness in ways that allows healing to occur. Of course, if no change or healing is desired (and sometimes it takes a while), then the prohibition is seen as a curse.

    I had a long talk with a young man two weeks ago about this very thing. He was gay, just broke up with his boyfriend, was in a deep depression. We talked for about two hours. The prohibition, in particular understanding that the prohibition ultimately affirms true anthropology, gave me words I shared with him ended up giving him hope. He wasn’t ready to change yet, but that’s not up to me anyway. He grasped something of God (God was gracious to him as I spoke), that ultimately may give him the wholeness and communion he seeks, although now the wrong places.

    Michael, this is the kind of thing you are driving towards. As you know, it won’t happen if a person are a moral relativist since relativism mutes the clarity needed to bring healing into the world. Your frustration, while understood, can’t be avoided in public forums like this.

  18. Mark 2:17 “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

    Matthew 9:12-13 “On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice”

    Luke 5:31-32 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

    I never suggested that the Church change its policies, only that Christ came to minister to ALL people, epecially those in whom we may disapprove. So we should welcome gays into the church, not to validate their lifestyle but to bring them closer to Christ.

  19. Dean, it’s a good clarification, and necessary, because I think that your original statement,

    “While he would want the Church to be open and welcoming to Gays, he would insist that the purpose of the Church is to bring people closer to God and teach them about Jesus Christ. He would say that the church has no business promoting alternative lifestyles that have nothing do do with God, and may in fact teach people a selfish, self-centered and unloving approach towards sexuality,”

    is wide open to opposite interpretations. There are many, including those at the “In Him We Live and Move and Have Our Beating” Conference, who would argue that their alternative lifestyles have plenty to do with God.

    St. Paul’s condemnation of homosexual behavior at the beginning of Romans is set within a larger argument that all mankind is bound by sin, Gentiles and Jews alike. This lets him make his next big point, that it is through the faith of Christ that we are saved from sin. Yes, the Church welcomes and should welcome all sinners… all REPENTANT sinners who seek to follow Christ, including those who are set against their former homosexual behavior.

  20. Reply to Note 15:

    I am not qualified to argue Scripture or theology, however, I find the writings of Professor Gagnon persuasive. Professor Gagnon has an article on this site right now. I will let him speak for me on the issue of homosexual conduct.

    God can heal anything or anybody. If we don’t tell people this fact they won’t be motivated to seek healing.

  21. The greater context in which St. Paul’s condemnation of homosexuality in Romans 1 is set is that of “worshiping the created thing more than the creator” in other words, idolatry. Homosexuality, since it posits a false identity of man, thereby posits a false view of God and the inter-relationship between God and man. Certainly, St. Paul condemns the carnality of the homosexual act, just as he does fornication and adultery, but it is not just the carnality alone that is the problem.

    It should be seen as a given that the Church is open to all who come to her. Just look at the icon of Mary, More Spacious Than the Heavens–Jesus sitting on her lap, with her arms outstretched in welcome to come to her Son, our Lord and Savior. Certainly individual priests and lay people may not be able to uphold the real praxis of the Church in this area as in many others. Such an inability is a example of the falleness against which we all struggle and not indicative of the Church herself.

    Is it possible that the only unforgiveable sin, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, is the unwillingness to acknowledge our sin and accept the grace of forgiveness and the healing that comes with it?

  22. Michael:

    Precisely, on all points. Your (and St. Paul’s) connection between homosexuality and idolatry is especially apt. Notice that the “conference” (orgy?) (at least a verbal orgy) sponsored by the AAR proclaims a spirituality focused not on God’s life-giving love AND our participation in that life-giving love as His creation, but on the self (self-absorption in pain and pleasure).

    Even outside that extreme context, even dressed up as conventionally as possible as “marriage,” homosexual behavior can be understood neither biologically nor scripturally as life-giving. It is technically, not just polemically, unnatural.

  23. There is, in ideological homosexuality anyway, a kind of death wish, a celebration of non-creative prowess, where sexual desire and behavior is removed entirely from any kind of creative dimension. Homosexual ideology can never be a positive vision, one that ensures knowledge or stability to the next generation, since it cannot create that generation but cuts itself off from it entirely. Its fundamentally a very deep rebellion against everything in creation that points to God.

  24. I will at least admit that Catholicism gets a point over the Orthodox on this one in regards to consistency of logic. By the above definition, any sexual act divorced from the potential for creating new life (meaning the use of birth control via temporary or permanent surgical means even in marriage) should be condemned as sinful because it uses artificial means for thwarting the design of the procreative act. The act becomes a vehicle for the mere enjoyment of the participants. Can the couple choose to not use birth control later? Sure, but it has no relevance to the intrinsic worthiness or sinfulness of the act as it stands.

    This doesn’t appear to be the Orthodox view however.

  25. James,

    From an Orthodox perspective sex within marriage furthers the unity of the man and the woman ontologically, and so, even without the possibility of children, is creative. Such a view is consistent with Orthodox understanding of the nature of marriage which reflects the hypostatic union in Christ. Such union can never be achieved between two homosexual partners.

    My understanding is that the use of artificial birth control is not the standard, but by the principal of economia can be allowed if circumstances make it necessary. Is that correct Fr. Hans?

  26. This article reminds me of Romans 1:18-32

    18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man–and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

    24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

    26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

    28A nd even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

    Lord Have Mercy!

  27. Michael,
    My point is that it is understandable to state that the ideal use of sex does not allow for the use of artificial birth control; the affluence or lack thereof of the participants is irrelevant. The ideal is that the procreative act be used for procreation, yes?

    The question is what do we make of acts that do not adhere to that ideal? Is the use of birth control within marriage a lesser but tolerable good or an outright evil?

    In addition, do we mandate via legal means that all adhere to this ideal (i.e., forbidding the sale of contraceptive devices)?

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