Unacceptable Christians

Ziegler the four elements central panelChristians should accept gay members, including in teaching or eldering roles, and accept gay marriages and gay cohabiting couples. That is the position of my denomination, Britain Yearly Meeting of Quakers. There are some Christians who preach that parents should disown a child who comes out as gay. There are other Christian groups who welcome gay members, but do not support gay marriage: they say celibacy is the ideal for gay people.

Even among gay Christians, there are many who wish to be celibate. They are “Side B” on the Gay Christian Network. They are the “ex-gays”, some of whom say they “suffer” from same sex attraction but do not wish to act upon it, any more than a married person should act upon sexual attraction to people other than their spouse.

Mrs Thatcher said of Mr Gorbachev, “We can do business with him”. This was during the Cold War, when Russia and America pointed ICBMs at each other, and peace was allegedly maintained by “Mutual Assured Destruction”. Can we “do business” with other Christians?

In Christianity there is the paradox of the wholly wretched man– “Nothing good dwells within me” who is nevertheless justified, sanctified, glorified. Should we accept remarried divorcees, or Expel the Immoral Brother? If we accept divorcees, should we also accept gay couples? Love, fear and judgment circle.

Ziegler the four elements right panelThose churches which condemn gays loudest suffer most, for they are the ones with the most restrictive cultural ideals of what it is to be a man or a woman. They limit manhood: just as the Koran says women should dress “modestly” but Muslims put their women behind veils, they push ideals to the extreme in a search for an illusory purity.

There are churches which celebrate gay members in our relationships, and there are the least bad of the homophobes. They would require a gay person to be celibate, which leads to the oddity that a succession of one night stands, each of which is a separate “sin” which may be repented, is less threatening to them than a settled relationship. They would preach Love for all their members, all of whom fall short of an ideal. It might be possible, there, to be camp, as long as you did not have a relationship. They might have the possibility of movement: once a gay member becomes a friend, the restrictions they demand for that person become less onerous.

I am unsure, here. In a world which so idolises Relationships, to be told your desires are always wrong is very harmful.

I am unsure from the Christian point of view, as well. “The Bible says so” is not a moral argument for those outwith the church, and the moral argument is that celebrating diversity profits everyone, as it allows everyone to develop their gifts most fully for the good of all. Moral people look at the gay-restricting church and feel moral distaste: they see the church enjoin something harmful, for no worthwhile reason.

So, no. There are no homophobic churches that I can “do business with”. If I will worship with anyone who will worship with me, it is in hopes that they will accept me as I am.

Ziegler the four elements

11 thoughts on “Unacceptable Christians

  1. But there actually is something special about Ziegler, isn’t there? Is it just me, or are there question marks in the eyes of his subjects? Sometimes I wonder about him.
    There are things I think we need to keep in mind. Mike’s mother, for example, was of a different generation- born pre-war. She always introduced me to people as ‘her’ closest friend. Not her son’s partner. I was fine with that! She wasn’t lying, we were almost too close, too similar.
    In her mental decline she told people I was her husband, at the end I was spoken to as her father. I have no complaints. For me the whole thing was worthwhile, the good and the difficult.


    • In an earlier draft I made explicit why I picked Ziegler’s Ideal women. I have no idea how I would respond to the Four Elements had I not been told its history- or Magritte’s “Le Viol” if it had a different title. I am toying with the idea of putting an opposing point of view in my next post.


  2. Surely “The Bible says so” is not a moral argument for those inside Christianity either. They justify away anything that is unacceptable to modern day morals. They don’t rape and marry, they don’t stone adulterers and they don’t keep slaves. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or anything else that isn’t harmful, is ludicrous.


    • And-

      The Bible is valuable. Each Christian has to work out how to use it: asserting that it is inspired and so literally true and without contradiction just creates its own problems. We don’t rape and marry because, as Martin Luther said, “Moses is my teacher not my lawgiver”- these laws do not apply any more. Using it as a challenge can be productive. What could “Turn the other cheek” mean? How might one do that? I live with it like a friend who says perplexing things.

      I hope there is movement around the “clobber passages”. Homophobes use them, and encourage each other, but most of British society was homophobic in the 1980s. Stopping hanging gay men was an improvement.


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