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40 Questions about why I support Gay Marriage

As a socially-liberal Christian, there are now many reactions around the world in reaction to the USA’s acceptance of single-sex marriage. It’s odd that similar results in other countries have not produces such reactions.

I have, of course, been in debate over this issue for many years, and many friends have sent me a link from a website that offers 40 (yes 40!) questions aimed at those of us that support single-sex marriage. Having read them, some of them were quite thought provoking, but generally their tone is designed to lead people into a “gotcha”. That is, that in order to answer the question as frased, you have to agree with the posters argument.

So, to help all those that find these questions difficult, here are my responses.

1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?
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This Anglican is for Marriage Equality

Following the CofE Bishop’s Response to the matter of single-sex marriage, I was a little… irritated.

For many, both members of the Church, and non-members, they find it difficult to see how the fact that there are provisions in law is not the same as equality. This is no-more obvious than when it’s seen in a Christian context. They say that it’s not inequality if they can have secular “marriage”. I wrote the following response:

The inequality is blindingly obvious. It’s not one form of love for any perceived “them” and one for a perceived “us”. It’s equal or nothing. And no, Single-sex partnerships do not have the right to be blessed in church. Single-sex unions cannot marry in church. THIS IS NOT EQUALITY.

If you want to go to town over a few verses from the Bible, then feel free, however, I will suggest that a hermeneutic that finds this difficult and yet does not allow, say, slavery, is a flawed hermeneutic.

When I stand before a couple, and they marry each other (note, marriage in church has nothing to do with the priest), it is not my place to judge that marriage. We do not demand that heterosexual couples prove that they adhere to any of the other rules of the church before opening our doors to them, I don’t see why any couple is a special case.

When I offer God’s blessing upon a person, a congregation, a couple, I don’t stop to ask if they are worthy, deserving, or any of those other morally-presumptuious words, because simply put, God is MUCH BIGGER than that. It is HER blessing I’m pronouncing. It is HIS grace that they leave with. I may be a conduit, but I believe that if God wants people blessed, s/he is quite capable of doing that. God’s love is way bigger than that. I want to offer that love to everyone. There is no-one beyond it, there is no-one undeserving of it

If blessings can be given to animals, inanimate objects, and the 101 things we are asked to bless, then what’s the problem with blessing love? Surely, on a scale of things, it’s better to bless the hope and expression of love than, say, a book.

Love is, after all, what Christianity is about.

Maleist Biblical Reading

During the course on Biblical Hermenutics, I was told that there were not many readings done from the perspective of a man, writing as a man. I thought that it was time that I tried to do some writing from this perspective, and so I have produced what I hope is a “Maleist” reading.

It’s based on one of the most difficult passages that I could think of, Judges 19. It’s about looking for what it means to be a modern man reading those passages, rather than simply accepting the standard position as being the “male” perspective.

I am hoping that this will spark debate, and not at least a few comments.

Thanks,

~BX

Malesit Reading

Water Found On Mars : The Impact on Theology

http://youtu.be/6OMlekqnL8I : Water Found On Mars

Yes, folks, it had to happen sooner or later. Water has been found on the red planet, Mars. Initially this might not seem such a big thing, but it means that, at some point, water in it’s fluid form may have been found in abundance on the surface, which means that there is the possibility that life happened on Mars.

Not complex life, perhaps, as we know it, but small bacterial life, small single cell, or simple multi-cell organisms.

Life.
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A Theology of Delight

One of the fascinating discussions that I’ve had recently (today in fact) is with Mark Clavier, Dean of Residential Training at St. Micheals College, Llandaff. As is often the case when you wander the halls of a theological college, you find yourself entering into discussions that have tremendous theological value. This one I found to personally valuable, and will look forward to reading Mark’s results when they are published (hopefully) later this year.

We were discussing his PhD thesis, which was based on the understanding of Delight in the writings of St. Augustine. (more…)

The Litteral Adam

This is one of those problems that’s been bugging me since I began reading a blog post about why, theologically, we _need_ a literal Adam. Annoyingly I couldn’t find the blog post again in order to take the points individually, but the general debate is based on the problem outline by Peter Enns in a blog post about his new book.

The problem seems to be that without Adam, Sin looses it’s force. It’s something that is not transmitted to everyone in a physical way. Of course, for this idea, we have to thank Augustine, and the way in which he approached and outline the concept of Original Sin.

I have, elsewhere, spoken about how I find the concept of Original Sin as expounded by Augustine unhelpful,and in the modern world incomplete. It was only when confronted, theologically, with the idea that Evolution that I began to explore what this implication truly means.

For me, of course, Evolution doesn’t pose a theological problem in that way, and I hadn’t really explored what problems others had with evolution. It seems to be that the reason why some people deny, or have difficulties accepting Evolution is that it means that their understanding of Sin falls down without Adam.
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Charismatic Leaders : Is there milage in this philosophy?

I was challenged today over the role of Charismatic leaders in the Church.

There is a feeling that the only way to draw people into the Church is through Charismatic leaders. No, I’m not here talking about “Leaders filled with the Spirit”, but leaders who personable, and have that magnetic personality that draws people to them. Those Charismatic types that seem to be able to fill a Church by their very presence. I was challenged today by this idea, and that it is the people with the collars who are meant to fulfill this role.

I made the point that not everyone was charismatic, and pointed to the point that St. Paul was not known for his Charismatic leadership. I further made the point that St. John showed the signs of a Charismatic leader, the soaring poetry, the descriptions and the imagery. I was told that this was a difference of opinion.

Now, differences of Biblical understanding asside, there is something about the idea of a truly Charismatic leader that I find uncomfortable. God gives us the skills to handle that which we are called to do. The thing about Charismatic leaders is that often people are called to them, rather than called to what they are preaching on behalf of.

It also places, again, the emphasis of growing the Church firmly on the shoulders of one person. This doesn’t, then do justice to the notion that we are all sent as disciples, and it is to all of us that the duty falls.

I wonder, then if it is this idea that they want to follow a Charismatic leader, than actually seek to do some of the heavy liftin themselves that is most important.

~BX

Tiamat and the Madonna and Child

In Babylonian legend, Tiamat is the chaos creatrix. She creates the Babylonian gods, and the world, and then plots to overthrow the same gods because they seek after order, unlike her. This results in a series of battles which probably typifies the changing of deities in Babylon at the time. The god Ea tries, and fails, and so on until Merdoach is chosen. He is given the tablets of fate, and other magical items (one being a robe of power), and he goes off to face Tiamat. Having defeated Kingu, and Mummu, Merdoach faced Tiamat, and after summoning the evil wind, held her jaws open, and managed to drive his magic weapon into her open mouth, killing her.
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Genesis, and the rise of People, and Man and Woman

While reading handy pull-out debate of Women Bishops in the Church Times (Church Times, 18 January, 2013), I came accross the article by Judy Stowell.

She begins where the debate about women always begins : Genesis. She makes the point that when we first meet Adam, the Dustling, the person made of Dust, he stands here for all human kind. From her reading of the Hebrew, Adam at this point is not really a he, but a proto-human, the perfection of humanity. It is in Genesis 2 that we learn that it is not good for Adam to be alone, so he is made to sleep. Here is where the interesting bit comes.

What arises from that sleep is two different beings. Adam is no more (whatever our poor English translations say), and rather Iysh and Ishshahi arise. Man and Woman.

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Should Christians Carry a Gun?

Adam Dickison said If somebody comes into steal my t.v. should I help them load of the V.C.R. and tv stand too? Maybe give them some cash for gas? I mean is my stuff so important? The gun in connection with protecting my stuff is where I’ve felt out of sync mostly

In a dicussion about Gun ownership on G+

The more I think about this, the more I feel that it is in this statement that we have found the heart of the matter. It is when a gun is being used to protect the “Bigger Idol” of property.

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Introduction to BlackXanthus’ Systematics

I have long been contemplating embarking on an attempt to write Systematic Theology. Though I’m hoping, of course, that this will be somewhat different.

I don’t have a “system” that I’m attempting to explore, I’m not really trying to find the place of Grace in the great contemporary issues of the day, or looking at Salvation, and how it affects the rest of the theology you use.
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Inclusion, Women, and Homosexuality : A theological article.

An Article on Inlusion, Homosexuality, Women, and Culture

This article is quite an interesting one for me, touching as it does on so many parts of my own personal interest. I don’t have time to write a full description of it, so you will just have to read it yourselves.

~BX

How to loose your influence in a theological debate:

A response based on the reading of this article.

An interesting piece which strikes a chord for me as someone who spends an inordinate amount of time discussing theology with people. I was happily nodding along in agreement with it, much of the actions is something that I see in others (of course never in myself, oh no), and then I came to point 7.

7. Be perpetually non-committal: Be in fear of what others will think. Be in fear of being offensive. Call it grace, call it tolerance, call it whatever, but don’t ever take any definite stand. In every situation be timid, walk on theological eggshells, and never, ever, ever act as if your view is the right view to the exclusion of others. Qualify everything you say with, “this is just my opinion” or, “to me…”

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Thinking on Prayer

Originally written: 02.07.2010 while in Lesotho.

I think I should stop reading St. Thomas Aquinus, he’s giving me ideas above my station. The thought was as follows:

Prayer transforms God’s power in potentia into God’s action in the world

This is hardly, I would guess, a new thought, but it is a new one for me. It gives human action a bigger part in prayer, being almost the guiding or directing force. Perhaps prayer acts more as the gate through which God can act? The problem with that is that that implies that God cannot act and requires permission to. My problem here, as always, is the opposite of the problem raised by J.B. Phillips in his book Your God is too small in that the Christian God is defined as being so Big. Perhaps, then, the important words are in potentia. If God’s purpose is something that is a river, constantly at work in the world, prayer then, as a two-way action, doesn’t simply alter the flow of the river, but makes us aware of the way, speed, and force of the river; making us more aware of the will of God. Of course that reads suspiciously like the near-traditional description of fate, except here the river is not an impersonal force, but that of a loving God. Prayers, then, could be seen as the pebbles dropped into the river, causing ripples. This implies that the more people who pray, or perhaps the stronger that you pray, for a certain thing the more the course of the river is altered. This doesn’t, to me, seem wholly satisfactory, but then I suppose that no analogy can ever be. However, there seems to be some superficial truth in the opening statement.
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Re-Mythologising Christianity

Recently, I was reading “Stubborn Theological Questions”, by John Macquarrie. An interesting book which I found myself thoroughly disagreeing with. The problem, for me, was the current thrust to “De-Mythologise” Christianity. Denial of things like the Incarnation, and of explaining away Miracles as happenstance, or with other logical answers seems to be the way of the times. This is the process where people seem to be hunting for the true facts behind the Bible stories; that is, those that can be explained only by scientific, archaeological, or historic means. This to me seems to be a little.. odd. Essentially, what these Christian Theologians seem to what to turn Christianity into Christophosofy. A Philosophy that’s based around an eccentric Rabbi from distant Palestine. Okay, so when looked at like that, it’s not a bad philosophy. Love one another, and share the wealth around. Not at all a bad way of living your life. However, the thrust of Christianity also adds the idea of a “God”.

In the modern world, many people feel that it is necessary to prove the existence of God in a scientific way. This is not a new argument (though some people act as though it is), and some of the greatest (and not so great) minds have tried to come up with a suitable answer to the problem. As of yet, we (Christians) have not found one. Though more and more people keep finding that there is something… other in the world that doesn’t fit the rational scientific post-enlightenment mind set. For some, this way of thinking is destructive, and for others it’s liberating. The Post-Modern Philosophy that currently drives our society puts the emphasis on the personal experience. Some theologians would sneer at that as the sin of Subjectivism, but is a world-view where Miracles happened, where God does have a part to play in guiding the world a bad thing?

As with many things, it’s a double-edged sword. There are Christians who would want to hold onto the Bible with both hands and scream “if it’s not in here, it’s not true”, which does the book itself a disservice. The Bible is full of people thinking, and re-envisaging their interactions with God. Becoming or Being a Christian does not mean checking your brains it at the moment the Bible is opened, and never turning them on again. Indeed, the Old Testament is a struggle to do just that, to record the history of a people, and to see how they observed God moving and supporting their small country.

If we are going to believe in a story based on the Miraculous, it seems to me to make more sense that on some level that we must also accept the Miracles, and the idea that Christ, in some way, is the Son of God. To look for miracles in our own lives, and to be willing for the Other to have an impact, and to change the way we view life. To look around us, and to not see nature, but to see Creation. This doesn’t meant to deny the process of nature (such as evolution, the Big Bang and so on, God gave us the ability to think for a reason), but rather to look at the world and to think that, in some way, God had a hand in bringing it about.

If we are to avoid the turning Christianity in to yet another Philosophy, then we need to find a way to deal with the miracles, and with the other super-natural events that are part of the heritage of Christianity (say, perhaps, the miracles of saints), and wrap them into our world view. I can understand that some people might find the concept of the super natural difficult, especially when such events have not managed to produce themselves like dancing dogs for the scientists. Our fear of trying to justify what some people see as “insane thoughts” has meant that we would rather remove anything we can’t justify under the scrutiny of science. Of course, if we spend all our time trying to justify it to the level of science, we will go mad (though, of course, some people think that to believe things that cannot be proved to be true is a form of madness). If we do remove all these things that we cannot prove all we end up with is a Christosophy. A noble way of life, indeed, but it makes the ritual, and the gathering connected with it a little pointless.

The strange things is that as Christianity is busy trying to stand up against science, the selves of the “mind, body and spirit” section are growing. The local Waterstones has gone from one shelf to nearly three. It’s not that people don’t want to believe, from all walks of life, but they want to believe in something that is where they are. That walks with them, and connects to their sense of the other, that explores their own life of Spirituality, where there is an explanation for the way that they find their world.

So, really, what is it we’re afraid of? Being laughed at by scientists? Is that really enough for us to run and hide our belief?

To my mind we must face up to the challenge, and ensure that what we believe is moral, sensible, and well thought out. As an Anglican, the three pillars popularised by Richard Hooker or Reason, Scripture, and Tradition serve as constraints, but also as guidance. We are not to suddenly ignore the world, and to claim (like some fundamental Christians would have us do), that Evolution is an unsubstantiated Myth, and that Dionsaur bones are either faked, left there in the flood, or put there by God to test our faith. I’m suggesting, however, that we walk a fine line between what Science tells us, and what we ourselves discover about the God and the world through our own interaction with it. It is a difficult task. With every line I write, I can hear the voices of scientific disapproval. Of those that say “But you can’t prove any of it, why believe it?”. It’s a difficult place to be. To have science demanding answers that you just can give it, and every bone in your body believing despite yourself. Knowing, almost beyond doubt, that there is something other, that out there, somewhere, there is a God, and that He sent his Son to show us the way back to Him. It’s a lot of big ideas, a lot of ancient thinking that has, on occasion, been a weight that has held down further thinking. We are simple thinkers, trying to find a way forward in a world where Belief of any kind is marginalised, and where believing in God is the path of ridicule. In this world, we must find a new way of thinking, a new way of approaching God that doesn’t leave us thinking that some form of mental trick has been pulled.

The great thinkers of antiquity were all writing in a time where God was almost a Fact. Now we are writing in a time where God seems almost distant, and the Mysteries and Miracles spoken about in the Bible and in the writings about the Celtic saints are considered to be fiction. To keep these elements as part of a theology, then, seems a little insane, but it seems to me that there’s no smoke without fire. All these wonderous things, then, must find a place in theology. All the things that people point at an scream “myth” like it’s a bad thing need to be re-investigated. There is no smoke without fire, and indeed, a lot of the records were written by people who had a lot less knowledge about the world than we do, and yes, perhaps some (or, a lot) can be explained with what we know about modern medicine, but somewhere in those stories, somewhere in all these ideas there is something deeper, something that fires our soul.

AS you can see the entire idea is not exactly a re-envisaging of theology. Perhaps a re-romanticising of Theology, but definitely a Re-Mythologising of Christianity. Anything to avoid it becoming a Christosophy.

~BX