Gay_MarriageI accidentally watched a bit of a current affair programme last night and they were discussing same sex marriage. It made a change from carnivores fretting about eating horse meat.

There was a woman, she might have been a conservative MP given her vehement opposition to the idea and the string of pearls round her neck, and a man who may have been gay, I can’t remember, but anyway, he was also an MP (I think) and he was definitely in favour of same sex marriage. I was reading a book at the time so wasn’t giving my full attention. Bizarrely enough, I was reading Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, make of that what you will.

It was very entertaining watching the woman attempting to rationalise her opposition. She talked about breakdowns in communication and trust arising from broken promises not to allow same sex marriages in church when the decisions had been made to allow civil partnerships and she spoke of religious freedom and what she clearly perceived to be a threat to it. (What it’s threatened by I’m not sure but I’m reckon the threat which cannot be named might enjoy dressing up as Sally Bowles at the weekend and listening to Village People. Just a hunch mind, nothing more…)

What she didn’t say was that she didn’t like gay people, or that they were sinners who should be boiled in oil for an eternity and then stood on their heads in a bucket of shit on Bank Holidays. In fact, she went to great lengths not to come anywhere close to expressing any prejudice towards gays or lesbians which I thought was a bit of a shame given that she obviously didn’t want them getting married in church. Politicians should have some balls, have the courage to stand up and say what they believe, which in the case of rabid opposition to same sex marriage is that somewhere in a damp, erotic basement, those bloody gays have got together to launch an organised attack on the sanctity of the Church!

Despite concessions allowing them to get shacked up in a registry office like ordinary people do before they get pissed to blot out the trauma and start a fight in the pub car park, those well-groomed couples have been plotting like Guy and Guy Fawkes! And they promised they bloody wouldn’t. There were assurances no legal challenges would be mounted. They might not be sashaying up to the doors of the European Courts of Human Rights just yet, but they will. Oh, those devious and unholy bastards! They will. It’s only a matter of time. Before you know it, there’ll be throngs of oily boys wriggling around in Strasbourg wearing Kylie’s hot pants and demanding their fundamental human right to walk down the aisle in a wedding gown that looks like a meringue, just like any other blushing bride. And you know what’ll happen don’t you? Europe will cave in like it always does because it hates Britain and wants the £ for itself and they’ll grant them equality and the Church will be swarming with people who love each other AND believe in a God who is going to wreak his bloody vengeance upon them, those defilers, those usurpers…those….those….those bloody poofs!

Maybe I imagined the last bit being spoken by Warren Mitchell. Maybe I exaggerated it a bit, I dunno, it’s hard to tell because a politician once told me they weren’t interested in Iraq’s oil and that the countless deaths resulting from ‘allied intervention’ are all part of a humanitarian effort. But, I digress.

What was so thoroughly entertaining as the pearl-choked harridan squirmed around the subject like Madonna after a noseful of poppers, was her passionate defence of the same institution that recently said; No, fuck off, we’re not having women bishops. It’s bad enough we had to allow women clergy without having women mauling all the bloody choirboys as well. Fucking women. Fucking queers. Fucking Hell. Is nothing sacred?

For the committed Christians among you, I’ll admit I made the last bit up; the Church didn’t really say that. The truth is it didn’t need to. It spoke through its actions rather than its words. It acted to preserve one of the last phallocentric organs of control on the planet as a bastion of patriarchal inequality. But have no fear, Mister God says it’s okay.

The truth is I’m not married. I’m not in a civil partnership either. I just sort of live with this woman whom I love and our three children, every one a bastard son no doubt destined for life of suffrage because the sins of their father will be visited and revisited upon them by a God who frequently demands bloodshed to show you’re serious and not just messing about at the weekend. Hang on, I’ll just tie myself to a chair, break my own legs with a hammer and set fire to myself as punishment. I know it sounds a bit over the top, but it’s precisely what the Catholic Church did to the Protestant Anne Askew when she exercised her right to religious freedom in 1546.

But what I cannot for the life of me figure out is why people don’t just come out and say it; Fuck equality, we’re Christians and it’s not fucking happening. Over our collective and revered dead body, which isn’t actually dead, but resting. Like a Norwegian Blue. At least everybody would know where they stand. But they daren’t, they’re scared they’ll end up tied to burning chairs with mangled legs and their tongues blackened by tabloid newsprint.

Just for the record.

  • Individual faith is one thing, organised religion is quite another.
  • If same sex couples can ‘marry’ in a registry office, they can ‘marry’ in a church. (Why they’d want marry in a registry office or a church in the first place is quite beyond me, but, each to their own.)
  • To deny them is to maintain inequality.
  • To deny women the right to become Bishops is also to maintain inequality.

I think that’s wrong, but I’m relatively simple, cheap and easy to feed. And although my tongue has been firmly in my cheek throughout rather than currying favour with the hacks, I make no apologies because freedom of expression is at far greater risk in this ‘democratic’ country than the religious freedoms of a flock of bigots hell bent on maintaining inequality in the eyes of God.

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  1. I have been happily married for 18 years but it does make me laugh when people seem to think that being married somehow makes you a better, more informed person. Fred West was married. Hitler was married, even Elton John was married for a while. It is not something that should be inaccessable just because you happen to fall in love with someone who is the same sex as you. It only appears to be the church that has the problem with this. I think the bible mentions that God loves everyone, not just those that Christians feel comfortable with.

  2. You want proof? I’ll give you proof, from CNN’s Kathleen Sprows Cummings…

    “And Monday morning, Benedict opened his announcement with the salutation “Brothers,” but one wonders what the news signifies for Catholic sisters, American and otherwise. In their official statement today, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious tactfully thanked him for his service and wished him well in his retirement”.

    That’s right, laugh it up fuzzballs, Brothers, not Sisters and definitely not Brother and Brother or Sister and Sister.

    It’s also worth pointing out that this article was originally written prior to politicians voting in favour of same sex marriage. Not all of them mind you, there’s a fair few ‘Not in My Church’ types wearing blue ties and keeping their heads down on Hampstead Heath…

    CNN article here:

  3. 1)Individual faith is one thing, the Church is another. Agreed. After the second world war, freemasonry became a presence in the Church of England…that did change things a little.
    2)”commited christian”… I worry about this phrase. It brings up images of people who are mind-controlled into singing “Shine Jesus Shine…” which is not something anyone should do, really. If your mind isn’t telling you that this song is an affront to your dignity, faith, and self-respect, then there is something very wrong… and I suspect a “committed christian” would agree. Once a person suspends the power of analysis and heated debate at a Bible study, are they then “committed” or “cloned?” I’m going for cloned.

    3)”Mister God” says its ok. God isn’t male or female. When on earth he was male, but he instigated equality (Let he who is without sin cast the first stone)

    4)”Fuck Equality, we’re Christians and its not fucking happening”.. I think if this phrase can be sung to the tune of “Shine Jesus Shine” I’d be tempted to go back to church. Its marvellous, depicting as it does, the fruits of the holy spirit, peace, joy, love, gentleness, longsuffering, patience, and all that which was left to us after Jesus died a second time…as he ascended, he didn’t sommersault downwards and say, “Do watch out for those homosexuals darling, they can be terribly pesky…tatty-bye for now..” Or did he? Hmmm….nope. So is the writer of this excellent blog falling into the trap of “all Muslims are Terrorists” oh wait.. wrong religion.. try again, “All Christians are Gay-Hating Monsters who like to swear a great deal”….yes?
    Does that mean he’s never heard of Gay Christians? Never read about the ancient mystics who were celibate? Never worked out that there are all types of sensuality to be found in the long history of faith, and that at the time of Jesus, most women were on the same level as a particularly fetching camel, as far as men were concerned. Who knows what else went on? All we know is what is now… and most Christians are liberals who really don’t care who gets married and where… but… the loud Evangelical majority are seen to be shouting for all of us…and it gets a bit tedious really.

    Lastly, the Women Bishops thing. The members of the General Synod of the Church of England voted FOR women bishops? Get it? It was the Laity who had grown in numbers vastly, (predicting this vote coming up) who voted against. Get it? Not those who work for the company? The shoppers.

    Ok, so who are the Laity? They are the “lay-members” as in the regular church goers. What has happened as that a church called HTB started something called the Alpha course in 1986, and it claims to be an Intro to Christianity. Whether it is or whether it is not, is a moot point. The main thing is that it is against male and female equality. Ok? Alpha course teaching is against females being in a position of power over males. I think its 16 million people who have done this course now. HTB attracts 1000 people a week, who believe “no female authority”… these people joined the Laity of the General Synod, and voted against women bishops, much to the dismay of normal C of E vicars…
    It was planned.
    I know it looks, from the outside, like its the church shooting itself in the foot again. But in reality it is the people affiliated to HTB, and Alpha course, who planned to vote against and joined the Laity so they could do so.

    My own opinion is that HTB/Alpha is a Far Right Political group, which claims to be Christian, and meets in a church. The lady in pearls that you describe, … my feeling is that she will have come from HTB.

  4. Also, Gene Spencer, have you wondered what is behind the media depicting christians as “God hates Fags” Westboro Baptist Church types? Same thing as the constant depiction by the media of Muslims as “all woman hating terrorists”.. Same thing as any attack on any religious group.
    The media could have given airtime to the moderate majority of Christians, but where’s the fun in that. Nah.. put up the crazies, so that Gene can vent his righteous anger.
    People LOVE to create something to despise and hate don’t they? And in the Gay Marriage issue, don’t you think you’ve fallen into the trap of “lets despise and hate all christians” just like the media wanted you to do?
    I’m not saying you’re gullible.. but… haven’t you fallen into line like a good little boy? Reacted the way that you were meant to react?
    Jesus had ALOT to say about money, social justice, equality etc because those things are important.
    He had nothing to say about gay marriage, because back in his day, marriage was an economic contract, useful for getting children etc..
    Therefore, as christians, we use our common sense on the matter.

    Eisogesis is the act of reading a theology into a biblical text, rather than allowing the text to interpret itself.
    The people you object to, have read an anti-gay theology into a Biblical text,
    That’s it.
    There’s nothing more dramatic than that.
    The media could have got LOADS of christians to explain that to the “Lets Hate Christians” knitting circle, but it wouldn’t have been dramatic or fun or whatever would it? It would have required the use of BOTH brain cells, where as stamping around and hating christians, just requires the one brain cell. Ask Mr Robb.

    • Robin, Robin, Robin…

      You ask whether I have ever wondered what agenda lies behind the media’s depiction of Christians as homophobic ‘Westboro Baptist’ types and continue to state that it is the same agenda which seeks to portray all Muslims as misogynistic Jihadis, but, and it is a crucial but, you fall short of declaring what that agenda, in your opinion, actually is. I know you say people do love a scapegoat, but I would argue that the decision by media outlets to sensationalise or demonise a minority group, rather than provide a platform for the moderate majority, is not determined by hedonism, but rather by complex economic factors and the corporate pursuit of profits that have led many media critics to bemoan falling journalistic standards in an age of ‘infotainment’.

      I’m not entirely sure what you’re driving at when you say ‘put up the crazies’ though. I wouldn’t have described all Christians who are opposed to same sex marriage as crazies, merely old fashioned at best, ignorant and prejudiced at worst. But no, I don’t consider myself to be guilty of falling into any traps laid by the media. As a citizen journalist, I consider myself to be a vital part of that media, a dissenting voice whose aim is to challenge the consensual view of the ideological majority which, to paraphrase Roland Barthes, seeks to maintain the status quo by defending the position of the dominant groups in society.

      Oh, and eisegesis is the act of imparting one’s own suppositions, perspectives and biases upon a text which is incapable of interpreting itself without help; ‘eisogesis’ is the act of misspelling.

      People in glasshouses shouldn’t throw brain cells…

  5. The reaction that you had Gene, was planned. 100% planned. Its not your fault that you fell into line and went down the “all Christians hate gays” route, because you were taking it all on face value… And you were doing that, because you don’t know the history of how the on screen media can manipulate people into thinking “All Christians hate gays”
    Or “All Christians are crazy extremists.”
    Those who are responsible for chosing a guest on a TV programme, COULD have opted for the many normal sane Christians, who would have said that Jesus was all about social justice and the anti-gay stance was due to certain texts being out of context. (Last time I attended church, the vicar, a gay man called James, explained all this from the pulpit… its the norm.)

    Instead they opted for (what seems to me from your description) an extreme character who probably came from Holy Trinity Brompton, (HTB). Most media people know the nutty history of HTB. I was sent to cover a story there in 1994, and I was terrified as I watched 1000 people lose control of their mind, and pretend to be animals, howling, hooting, growling, jumping up and down, falling over.. while the Rev Nicky Gumbel (Author of the Alpha Course… 16 million have taken one)… screamed, “This is the holy spirit!!”

    Well of course it wasn’t. It was mind control making people go crazy. People were being manipulated. It was sinister. And this “HolyLaughter” or “Toronto Blessing” spread over Europe and America and Canada…, but in the UK it started at HTB.
    So if a media producer wants somebody who is going to stir up an anti-christian feeling in the TV audience, s/he is going to go to HTB, first. Why? Because s/he will get somebody who isn’t thinking for themselves. S/he will get a puppet. Somebody who has given their mind to whatever those who are running HTB now, has decided “is christian” and they will say whatever they’ve been told to say.

    If a person can stand in a room, with 1000 people all going crazy and go “Oh, ok.. this is christianity”… than that person can go on TV and say whatever they’ve been told to say…. and if what they say produces the “All Christians are crazy” stance of this blog,… well… job done.

    At no point has Nicky Gumbel ever apologised for the “holy laughter” experience. He continues to refuse to see it as an insanity. Its on youtube if you want to be freaked out. But. My point is… “If they want to produce an anti-chrisitan reaction, they get a christian from HTB or any of the extremist charismatic movement churches, to make a comment.” Its planned.

    • In short, I disagree entirely with the sentiments expressed in this particular post. You’re wrong, I’m nothing like as naive, gullible, ignorant or stupid as you would like me to be and for that, I apologise.

  6. The truth is it didn’t need to. It spoke through its actions rather than its words. It acted to preserve one of the last phallocentric organs of control on the planet as a bastion of patriarchal inequality. But have no fear, Mister God says it’s okay.

    The above is a quote from Gene.
    He says “the truth is” without doing any research. It would have been more accurate to say “My opinion of the truth is.”
    Gene, to go through it with you again. The actual church as represented by the General Synod WANTED women bishops ok? They were out-voted by a large group of people groomed to think that “God doesn’t want females to be in a position of power over men”… and this probably came from HTB.. these people were called the Laity… as in.. those who attend church.
    With the incredible rise of the Alpha course, (anti-gay, anti-sex outside marriage, anti-women’s equality) it is understandable that people think that they speak for ALL christians… but they don’t.
    Personally I am of the opinion that the Alpha course is based on the ancient heresy of Montanism, banned in AD 98, because it messed with people’s minds. (The vicar of St Chad’s Handforth, a scholar of montanism, doesnt agree with that…. but… I saw mind-control in action, and its bad news.) So to conclude, what you describe as “the truth” is only true for a section of the church…. a very sinister section…. And its only my opinion, but I think they have a far right political agenda, and controlling people is part of it.

    However, dont you think you were controlled too? By the media? Weren’t you controlled into thinking “all christians hate gays,”… when you must know that isn’t the case?

  7. So to conclude – What is the real issue here?
    Is it that the media like to give coverage to the “crazy christians”… and I’m thinking of the Westboro Baptists holding the “God Hates Fags” placard while picketing the funeral of a man beaten up for being gay. And I’m also thinking of Anne Atkins anti-gay speech on Radio Four’s “Thought for Today” Both are useful in the “let’s depict Christians as idiots” section of the media. That’s not new.
    And its not new that Gene took it all on face value and wrote a funny lively waspish blog on it. Its interesting, and fun to read. But its not the issue.

    The issue is this.
    In 1994, I saw Mind Control being exerted over 1000 people in a church, under the disguise of “Toronto Blessing”.. and it was the most scary sinister creepy experience of my life…it was terrifying. I was far to scared to write about it, and left it to the Telegraph journalists…much tougher characters. It took place in a church called Holy Trinity Brompton, (just behind the Brompton Oratory, close to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.) This mind control, (so I was told) carried on for about a year.

    By 1995, this had spread to churches all over America and Europe.

    This same church, has a course. The Alpha Course, which “sells” Far Right views, INCLUDING Anti-Gay views and Anti-Women’s Right’s view… and this course claims to be Christian. If statistics are correct, 16 million people have attended this course.

    Sixteen million people have attended a course, run by people who used mind control techniques in 1994… manipulate a crowd.

    If the BNP were running such a course, don’t you think that the media would sit up and take notice?

    But because its “just the crazy christians”…. there is no media interest.

    Well, I think THAT is the story.
    Why are they getting away with it?

    It comes down to “Friends in High Places.” The man that I saw in the pulpit in 1994 yelling out to the crowd who were going mental, jumping up and down, fainting, barking like dogs….sounds like fun? It wasn’t. .. the man that I saw yelling out from the pulpit, “If you don’t believe this is from Christ, then you are from SATAN!”.. (the old.. believe this or fry in hell routine)… ok, THAT man is called Sandy Millar.
    He is now a Bishop.
    He is sitting in the House of Lords.
    Does he have the power to stop any media investigation into this very dangerous movement? Well, I would imagine that he does, yes.

    Sixteen million people, being exposed to the idea that to be Anti-Women’s rights and to be anti-gay rights… is in some sense, “Christian.” And nobody is reporting on it.
    That’s the story.
    Gene? Over to you. Maybe?

    • Robin,
      It is the very fact that I do recognise the existence of gay Christians which prompts me to write; ‘people who love each other AND believe in a God’ (I deliberately use ‘a God’ because I recognise the individual’s fundamental right to express their faith as they so desire and do not distinguish between one organised religion or another). I’m ignoring your ‘all Muslims are terrorists’ comment because the inference is wholly inaccurate.

      However, I do also harbour concerns that the very religious freedom to which the Conservative MP bedecked with the symbolic pearls of wisdom referred, was in fact the religious freedom of people like her; people who for sadly unspoken and craven reasons do not wish to see same sex marriage in church. I strongly suspect she was not referring to the religious freedom of gay or lesbian Christians.

      Whether by design or otherwise, the Conservative MP demonstrated that inequality in many guises is still evident in modern society, that there exists in actuality a plurality of freedoms; yours and mine, ours and theirs; heterosexual Christians and homosexual Christians. The very word ‘freedom’ is as ambiguous an idealised concept as one could wish to find at the centre of such a sensitive debate because as history teaches us, when all men (and women) are created equal in the eyes of God, some men (and women) seem destined to be just that little bit more equal than others.

      Furthermore, 16’000’000 people are hardly an irrelevance are they? Nor are they a silent minority. If your analysis is correct then surely they represent a committed Christian opposition with considerable power to prevent further progression and to continue to maintain the inequality that seeks to deny female Christians their religious freedom?

    • What’s the real issue here? Did you read the article closely or did you just sense a little anti-Church undertone and go straight for the postman’s leg?

      No, the point is not that the media in the UK like to portray ALL Christians as hatemongering homophobes, an accusation I would strongly oppose given that on the occasion in question, there were other contributors to the televised debate who provided the necessary equilibrium. Furthermore, I would argue that although some sections of the media actively pursue almost partisan political agendas against some minority groups in society, the vast majority of the UK media usually adheres to fair and tolerant coverage, even of those as distasteful as BNP leader Nick Griffin.

      I rather feel that it is you who have taken my ‘funny lively waspish blog’ on face value and have sadly missed the real issue secreted within and which, through the power of eisegesis, would have been revealed to anyone whose brain cells were not preoccupied with humping the postman’s metaphorical leg like a rabid, evangelical dog. And although I am flattered by your accurate appraisal of my work though, as you say, this is not the real issue either.

      The real issue, for my article at least, is that in 2013, the Church still discriminates against not only gays and lesbians, but also against women.

      It wasn’t really that difficult to eisegise was it?

  8. The next time I read a weblog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as considerably as this 1. I mean, I know it was my option to read, but I really thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear can be a bunch of whining about some thing that you simply could fix if you happen to werent too busy seeking for attention.

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