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“Here Comes Everybody”

Here Comes Everybody”

This phrase, which is now being used quite widely in a range  of contexts, is best known for its use by James Joyce in his extraordinary novel, finnegans wake. Read literally, it has obvious relevance for a progressive catholic blog such as this one, which sees inclusion at the heart of the Gospels, and interprets “catholic” as meaning universal. But in the context of the novel, and as an expression by James Joyce, who lived most of his life in exile, there are many layers of additional significance.

Joyce was an Irishman, educated like so many others by the Christian Brothers, and then by the Jesuits. Formidably intelligent and bookish, he soaked up Catholic and especially Jesuit thinking – and then rejected it.  at a ridiculously young age, he left Ireland and its priest-ridden society, to live in exile in Europe.  (His only play is called “Exiles“). Yet all his writing exudes both Ireland and Catholic theology. The early novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, is essentially an autobiographical novel based on Joyce’s early life and education, ends with him taking leave of Ireland. “I go“, he says “to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.” And, to a remarkable degree, he did just that.

James Joyce: Irishman in Exile

Ulysses, written decades after his departure, tells the story of Leopold Bloom , wandering through the streets of Dublin over a single day.  I have read that the detail of that day, as described by Joyce, meticulously and accurately recreates the physical details, and the exact locations, of the shops and other buildings that Bloom visits.  The book is equally steeped in Catholicism, even opening with the words first words of the Latin Mass, “Introibo ad altare Dei“- but used here in parody.

Exile has been a key theme for several of our team, writing in our home blogs.  For a gay Catholic (or other Christian), many writers have recommended leaving the church in a state of exile, before possibly returning later, more confident in a more mature faith. However, it is by no means only LGBT Catholics who can benefit from a period of exile, literal or metaphorical, from the institutional church. In a time when so much of church practice and teaching appears far removed from the Gospel message, and the powerful figures in the Vatican appear intent on undoing the work of the Second Vatican Council, all of us can benefit from taking a step back, establishing some distance from the institutional power structures, and reflecting independently on the real and enduring truths in Scripture and in Catholic teaching. So, to a greater or lesser degree, those  of us who are nominally Catholic stand in some form of exile from the established church – possibly by attending Mass infrequently, if at all; possibly by attending Mass and participating fully in a local parish, but withholding full loyalty from Rome. Still, like Joyce and the Irish, we remain clearly catholic even so: in the words of the former priest  Tom McMahon, writing on the psychology of the priest for Catholica, “catholic, but not Roman”.

The specific phrase “Here Comes Everybody” is used in the densely written, almost incomprehensible novel finnegans wake, which like a mirror image of Ulysses, tells again the story of an ordinary Dubliner – during the course of a single night.  It is a dream novel, and like all dreams, characters, settings and stories are constantly shifting and merging. We never get a clear fix on exactly what the main characters are called, but we know their initials, which are constant. The head of the household has several names, all with the initials HCE – and so we have “Here Comes Everybody“, which could also serve as an alternative title for the novel, as through its pages  drift an astonishing array of characters from all phases of history.  This is fitting, as two of these historical figures are the medieval philosophers Vico, who held that history moves in cycles, and Giordano Bruno, who was burned by the Inquisition as a heretic.

Both Vico and Bruno are relevant here.  By observing that the current orthodox teaching has moved far from its origins, we (or at least, I personally) would like to see greater scrutiny of how this has happened, and a return to some of the ideas and practices of the past that we have lost: ideas of simplicity and democracy in church governance, of a more open and democratic clerical estate, and more emphasis on the “Good News” in Scripture than on canon law and religious rules. The figure of Bruno, like those of Joan of Arc, Jan Huss and many others, reminds us of the horrors that the historical church has perpetrated in trying to enforce its version of “truth”- which has not infrequently  subsequently been shown to be deeply flawed. We fear for the current efforts of the power cabal to stamp out dissenting views, of theologians and of religious women, and believe it is important to speak up for the value of open, critical speech.

For me, the point of this site is to draw together all those who feel marginalized by the church, or who have developed a feeling of distance from the institutional church, but still feel a strong “catholic” identity.  It is my hope that by encouraging frank and open discussion of sensitive themes, we can reclaim our church from those who misappropriated it as an elite club for the religious in-crowd, and instead assert it as a home for those welcomed by the Lord Jesus Christ – the marginalized, the outsiders, the dispossessed.   Helping and drawing comfort from each other, we will then develop the confidence to return from our place of exile on the margins, coming back in and proclaiming in prophetic witness as we do so, “Here Comes Everybody“.


24 Responses

  1. What I recall about Jan Hus is what really got him into trouble were his justified criticisms of the hierarchy of the time traveling with their assorted mistresses to the Council of Constance. The late Barbara W. Tuchman included a chapter on Roman Catholicism’s refusal to clean its house until the Reformation in her book “The March of Folly.”

    • What got me thinking about Jan Hus was an excellent post by Jayden Cameron, one of our team who is based in Prague. He has not joined in just yet due to other commitments, but will do so soon. While we wait for him, I will try to dig out his Jan Hus piece and cross-post n his behalf.

      (I have now added the Jan Hus reflection at the end of this site – matching the timing of the original post at Gay Mystic.)

  2. So everyone is welcome? Hmmmm….lets see how truthful you are.

    Do you welcome consenting adults who practice incest? You know, a father and adult daughter, a father and his adult son and the son’s cute adult best friend, a mother and her adult daughter.

    If not, why?

    Remember, Jesus never said anything against incest. That means it’s OK, right?

    And if those mean old Church Fathers did, well, you know, they were living in different times. WE KNOW SO MUCH MORE NOW.

    If you don’t support loving, stable adult incest, then are you willing to change the name of this blog to “Closed Tabernacle?” Or to “Relatively Open But Not Open To Those Who Bop Relatives?”

    I could also include bestiality, as we all know, Jesus never said anything against bestiality so it must be OK, but I’ll leave it to simply adult incest.

    Have at it.

    • Mark, Jesus did not say he approve incest, nor did he approve prostitutes, or adultery. That does not mean he turned them away. There are many, many texts, and a good many well-known hymns, on the theme “All are welcome.” If we are going to turn away “sinners”, are we alos to turn away adulterers – or tax evaders – or lying politicians – or bishops with girlfriends?

      The next question is, how do we identify sinners? Remember it is central to Catholic teaching that an action only becomes sin if the person involved knows and agrees that it is sin. Consequently, it is also central to Catholic teaching that nobody (and that means “no-one“) has teh authority or competence to judge the interior state of another person’s soul. That is why I personally reject the slogan “Love the sinner, hate the sin” – because it assumes that the person you are talking about is in fact a sinner. Only God can make that judgement.

  3. So the answer then is YES that you approve of adult, consensual incest IF the person doing it think it’s OK?

    What then did Jesus mean when he told the woman “go and sin no more?” John 8:1-11 Did he mean that she had no guidance as to what a sin is and what isn’t a sin? That she had only her conscience to guide her? Could the woman have stood up to Jesus and said that she didn’t think that her conduct was not a sin, given that her personal conscience is sovereign?

    When Jesus was asked why he ate with tax collectors and sinners, why did he liken all of these people to the sick who need healing? “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick….For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

    In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus tells his disciples how to treat people we think have sinned. He says to speak to them privately first, but talks about what to do if the person “does not listen” to you. He says that we are to bring them to the whole Church and “he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Where does it say that the man has to “knows and agrees that it is sin?”

    Why did St. Paul correct the behavior of people in the Church? 1 and 2 Cor, the man who was sleeping with his father’s new wife, etc. How did St. Paul know that the man was sinning? Or was St. Paul wrong? Was this some special ability that St. Paul had but no one else has? Explain. Does it say anywhere in there that sleeping with your father’s new wife, something St. Paul said even the pagans didn’t do, was only a sin if the man “knows and agrees that it is sin.”

    In Galatians 5:16, 19, St. Paul says “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh….Now the works of the flesh are PLAIN: fornication, impurity, licentiousness…”

    Why does he say that the works of the flesh are PLAIN, as in OBVIOUS to all? You’re saying that sin is NOT obvious to all, that it is something totally subjective. How do you get from the word PLAIN to “only if I know and think it is a sin?”

    How am I not to conclude that you have selectively read the Catechism to justify YOUR OWN behavior?

    Paragraph 1857, “For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”

    (OK, I see where you get that part…but read on)

    1858: “Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: ‘Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.'”

    1859: “Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.”

    Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart? Hmmmm. Wonder what that could refer to?

    1860: “Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.”

    No one is ignorant of the principles of the moral law?

    You’re engaging in a highly and selective reading of both the Bible and the Catechism. Yes in the end, our soul is our own, and our conscience is our own. No one can tell if a person has been overwhelmed by passion, forced into some act, or has some mental deficiency that removes culpability. But you’re diluted system would allow for total moral chaos to reign. And you’re distorting two thousand years of Christian teaching.

    Honestly, St. Paul handles this very subject in Galatians. St. Peter confirms this in 1 Pet 2:16, “Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God.”

    Do you ever speak out on any issue at all, such as war, peace, justice, homophobia? How in your diluted system can you do so? Isn’t everything subjective?

    Seriously, the words “feigned ignorance and hardness of heart” have to brought up here.

    There also is a serious bit of deception going on. What you are preaching is not moral relativism, but a gospel of homosexuality. In the new religion of homosexuality, there still are sins, namely NOT praising homosexual behavior. I don’t believe for one minute that your new religion does not in fact OPPOSE the Church for teaching that “homosexual acts can never be approved.” What you’re teaching is moral relativism for you, but condemnation for others who don’t agree with you.

  4. Mark, I want you to try and think about these biblical issues from a different reality.

    Jewish culture saw sex and marriage as property issues. Contractual property issues. Adultery was a violation, a theft in real terms, of another man’s property. Essentially Jewish law saw marriage equivalent to a man’s ownership of land. He took deed on the land and seeded it and then the harvest was his property to dispose of as he saw fit. Woman=field, semen=seed, children=harvest and both field and harvest were property.

    Why else would Jesus be incarnated in circumstances in which He was no man’s property?

    Gay relationships are completely outside this property dynamic and were huge threats to the stability of Jewish culture. That’s why marriage property contracts were entended to include polygamy–more fields to seed and more harvest to reap–but stoned people to death for adultery.

    Jesus taught loving free relationships in which people were not property. Paul also wrote that in Christ Jesus there were No jews/no gentiles, no male/no female, no slave/no freeman. No forms of human property, no forms of human exploitation of another human–period.

    Both gay and straight sexual relationships can be visciously exploitive, just as both can be free expressions of legitimate love given freely to another. This becomes a difficult area when people have not experienced non exploitative sexuality. Marriage is no guarantee one partner won’t sexually exploit the other. The historic dodge around this notion is that marriage also included the definition that it is the ‘right’ of one partner to demand sex of the other. It’s only lately that the West has recognized the concept of rape with in marriage.

    Not one of the contributors to this blog would ever advocate for exploitive sexual practices. And that, at least for me, includes any advocacy for committed celibates to become sexually active. For some celibates there is no time and no place for active sexuality, but that does not mean it’s true for all celibates all the time. Love can enter the picture and then all bets are off.

    • Mark, I’m sorry to have to call your bluff here, but you’re trolling. And that’s not helpful at a brand-new blog site that doesn’t even yet have guidelines for posting or for moderation of comments. You’re not showing any respect at all for those who have created and are supporting this site, through your trolling behavior–and that lack of respect also completely undermines your pretense to be promoting ethically respectable positions.

      Here’s the definition of trolling from Talk to Action’s website:

      “Don’t be a troll. People who are offensive or abusive, are trolls. People who willfully hijack comment threads outside any reasonable discussion of the good work of the diarist, are trolls. People who write diaries or make comments obviously beyond the purposes of the site, are trolls. People who do not share the purposes of this site but join anyway, are trolls. Trolls and trollish behavior will not be tolerated.”

      I want to emphasize that I’m speaking for myself and not the entire group here. As you know, from the time this site went up, you began to bombard my own blog, Bilgrimage, with similar trolling comments, and after trying to respond to them for a day, I told you that I had chosen to block further comments from you.

      You are the first and only person whom I’ve ever blocked from commenting on my site–except for commercial spam sites.

      When you then began the attacks at my email address, I blocked you there, too.

      As I told you when I blocked you at Bilgrimage, I’m happy to unblock you if you will 1) stop the abuse name-calling, 2) engage the real arguments and not invent red herrings to shout about, and 3) stop raging and present real arguments of your own.

      Since you have now moved from my blog to this site, and since your attacks coincide with the launch of this site, and since you’re making the same attacks here in the same words you used on my blog, I can only conclude that your intent is to try to destroy this new blog.

      I wonder what it is in the Catholic tradition that frightens you so that you do not welcome open, rational discussion about that tradition? And I wonder why this blog’s launch has enraged you so?

      Please stop the trolling. And please do the tradition you claim to be representing the courtesy to represent it without the name calling, personal attacks, red-herring arguments, and, above all, the bubbling-over hatred. As Coretta Scott King notes, when we nurture hatred inside, we harm ourselves more than those we hate.

    • Well, we certainly are starting from a different premise.

      Where do you get the idea that under Jewish law, marriage was a property issue?

      My understanding is that we as Christians have to start with two main premises, the Fall of Man and the Mosaic Law. These are the antecedents to Christianity and both are key to understanding Christianity.

      I trust that you know the basics of both, so there’s no need for a rehashing of that. But as I understand it, the key is that man was created in perfection but chose through his own free will to fall. Man in his earliest state in the garden was not plagued with all that plagues us…disease, anger, lust, sloth. And Adam and Eve were perfectly joined together, as it says in Gen 2:24, “…and they become one flesh.” For man before the fall, divorce was out of the question. It wasn’t possible because Adam and Eve did not have concupiscience. The same thing is true for homosexual behavior. The same thing can be said for any other inclination to sin. It just wasn’t in us before the Fall. Of course, the matter of homosexuality in the Garden would get doubly complicated as any other men would have to be the sons of Adam and Eve, but nonetheless, in the Garden before the Fall, man was not tempted by any of the physical things that we are tempted by. In other words, even though God had not given man the ten commandments, stealing was still wrong. Lying was still wrong, adultery was still wrong. And homosexual actions were still wrong.

      Skip ahead to Exodus and we see a very fallen people, who even after all the miracles still kept on going back to to Edward G. Robinson and the golden calf. They just didn’t get it. So God gave them some very strict rules that covered every detail of their life. But these rules still came from God. To us many of them seem strange, but the Law still came from God.

      That’s where I think we disagree, because I believe that the Law came from God, not from Man. You’re suggesting that the Law is fallible and is as prejudiced as any ancient, pagan codes. And no, women were not the property of man. You’re going to have to come up with a quote from the OT that specifically says that a wife was the property of her husband. They may have been regulated much more than we do today, but the Law was meant for one thing – the survival of Israel long enough so that Jesus could be born.

      But please don’t let this get into a discussion of how lousy it would have been to be under the Mosaic law. Really I don’t think it would be profitable to debate some particular example of the Law, which to my lights, I’m sure you misunderstand. Can we just skip to the real point by letting me ask you if you believe that the OT is infallible scripture or is it fallible, written by man and biased? I suspect that this is what you believe.

      Your interpretation starts not with God, but with Man. Not with the spirit but with fallible politics and fallible sociology. In essence you’re saying that the OT is not inspired by God and that’s a very slippery slope. Once you start with ripping up the OT, soon we start to rip up the whole of the Bible, and as St. Augustine said, we end up worshipping ourselves.

      After all, Jesus did not condemn the Mosaic law because it was a man-made, cultural phenomena, now did he? He said he came to fulfill the law. He never criticized the law in any way, shape or form. So….if we believe that the Law is a man-made, fallible thing, then we’d have to say the same thing for Jesus, a Jew burn under the Law who never criticized the Law.

      But yet, with the coming of Jesus, the Mosaic law is replaced and we’re are brought back to the state of Adam and Eve. This is so basic to Christianity that it surprises me that it’s still not understood. Jesus in Mark 7 and elsewhere talks about the mosaic law being suspended but insists that the inner moral parts of the law are still in place as they existed in the Garden. In fact, this is where he outlaws divorce, citing the same language as in Genesis, that the two shall become one. The Mosaic law allowed for divorce for adultery. In other words, the Mosaic law made allowances for how screwed up people are. The new covenant of Jesus returns us to the Garden where marriage is forever. Jesus did not come to reform the practice of the Mosaic law. He came to return us to the pure state of the Garden.

      You’re dealing here, I think incorrectly, with a problem that seems to have been around since the time of Jesus. If we’re freed from the Mosaic law, then are all bets off, and are we to do what we want? Both Jesus and St. Paul say no. In Mark & he gives the list…fornication, adultery, licentiousness, envy, etc.

      You talk about exploitive and non-exploitive sexual relationships, but is that what Jesus taught? Certainly we can both say that he did not approve of rape, but did he stop there?

      For when you use only the standard of mutual, adult consent, we’re back to that pesky problem of adult incest again. And if we use only the standard of mutual, adult consent (I’d have to add it free and rational consent, but I think we both know what I mean), then we’ve just permitted polygamy too. Using the standard of mutual, adult consent, we’d also have to say that premarital sex is fine. That affairs on the side are fine as long as consent is given. So then adultery is fine, as long as there is consent.

      If adult consent is all that is needed to make some action moral, then you’ve just made divorce and remarriage OK. But isn’t that specifically what Jesus taught against? “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Matt 19:6) He specifically likened what he’s saying here with the Garden, pre-Fall. “He said to them, ‘For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.'” Jesus did not say that divorce was fine as long as there was mutual consent.

      Your standard mutual consent is certainly a step up from exploitation, but really, it’s not what Jesus taught at all. It’s a formula for consensual fornication, consensual adultery, consensual group sex, consensual pornography, consensual prostitution, etc. Are you honestly claiming that this is what Jesus taught?

      Of course, this is what man wants. We’re fallen and hey, a lot of the time this sounds good to me too. But is this what Jesus taught when he released us from the Mosaic law?

      You are free to teach that adult mutual consent is all that it takes to make something moral. That is your choice. You can preach that this is all we need for morality. You can base your whole life on it. But you’re not free to teach that this is what Jesus taught. He never, ever talked about consent making some action right. He talked about the actions themselves – adultery, fornication, licentiousness, divorce, etc.

      St. Paul talks about all this at length and says that such “freedom” is really licentiousness and slavery to sin. And this has been the consistent teaching of the Church, including all her Fathers, council, Doctors and saints for the past two thousand years. Again, you can disagree with them. But you can’t disagree that this is what they’ve taught.

      So what are we to do? It’s really simple. No one has to live a perfect life. We’re all still human and subject to passions that diminish our level of culpability. But right is still right and wrong is still wrong. The thing is that Jesus loves us even when we’re wrong. But he still wants to heal us. Homosexual actions are no different from any other action that are “never approved” of. We don’t have to become straight. And it’s OK if we slip up and sin, as long as we realize that and confess it. We’re given more grace and raised up to a state that’s higher than where we were before we sinned. Take any other sin, lying for example. Or getting drunk, whatever. We all still do them. Everyone has their own favorite sins. There’s no need to beat ourselves up because we still sin. Honest. Jesus loves us either way. We do things that are wrong and we ask Jesus to give us the grace to avoid them. Do we always make it? Nope, we stumble and stumble. But the fact that Jesus loves us still does not make any wrong action into something that is right.

      We can argue back and forth if any of us is ever fully culpable, given how powerful the sex drive is in men. But these actions are still wrong, we still need to ask for God’s grace and healing. And no, the standard that Jesus taught was not that it’s OK as long as the other person consents.

      • “Where do you get the idea that under Jewish law, marriage was a property issue?”

        This is well accepted by any number of Biblical scholars: William Countryman and Marti Nissinen are two that come to mind immediately, just off the top of my head. Its also clear from scripture that marital relationships were extremely lopsided, in favour of the male.

        If you want chapter and verse, I am currently preparing a post on exactly this issue. Watch out for it to appear some time over the next week.

    • Ooops, what appears below dated 4:48 PM was meant to go here. Sorry.

  5. That is, I’m responding to CokKoch.

  6. Mark, you have some great stuff in this comment. Especially towards the last third of it and if you go back to my comment and read it dispassionately you will note two things.

    First I never wrote about Mosaic law. I wrote about Jewish culture which had it’s own set of laws as any government structure does. Under these laws women and children were property. Boy children grew up to become property holders themselves, and women became the property of their husbands. Polygamy for those men who could afford it was standard practice. The Jewish Old Testament prophets spent many words reminding men that widows and orphans were especially in need of charity because these two groups did not have a specific male ‘owner’ who was legally bound to take care of them.

    Secondly, I never used the terms consensual sex. I used the term ‘free loving’ relationship. By this I mean sex between two people who love each other and are free of any impediment to freely sharing intimacy. This is a very exacting standard. Very much in line with what Jesus taught. By this standard virtually every relationship you described as consensual I would see as exploitive, either in the sense of a power differential or in the sense of objectifying another person for sexual gratification.

    If we have a real difference it’s that I think it’s absolutely possible for two gay people to form a loving relationship which is faithful and healthy and wholesome. Just like some heterosexuals. I also think for various reasons it’s more difficult. I suspect you would disagree with this whole notion that a gay relationship could be anything other than soul damaging.

    That may in fact be absolutely true for you and it may always be true for you. I would never advise you to take a different path but I would caution you to be very careful about telling others others what path to take because none of us walk the exact same path, and although some paths may have boulders and ditches and other obstacles how we choose to navigate those is a personal choice. The odds are we will stay wind up in the same place.

  7. ColKoch, thanks!

    Well, if you’re talking about laws that were made by man during the early Hebrew time, then you’re by definition talking about man-made things. The problem then is that it’s kind of hard to connect that to something that God has given us, which is the point here. It’s like people who attack something that happened in a Christian country, the Hundred Years War, and try to connect that to the teaching of the Church. Or people who take any action that a priest does, or an action that the Pope does and make that into something that is an essential part of Christianity. Whatever the Jewish culture was, outside of the Mosaic law, may say something about how the Jews practiced what God gave them, but it doesn’t say much for the laws that God gave them.

    The problem is that Jesus was very much working within the Mosaic law, while at the same time railing against some of those cultural add ons, as well as how the Jewish laws were being practiced. I believe that the pre-meal washing rituals of the Jews were an add on, not part of the Mosaic law, though in some way, an offshoot of them. Anyways, when you talk about the legal cultural laws of the Jews, well, that may be interesting as history but it’s not meaningful to the mission of Jesus.

    You also ignore the main part which is the state of man, of Adam and Eve, before the fall. Why that’s important is because that is what we are being lead back to through Jesus, albeit rather slowly.

    An interesting point would be, could Adam and Eve get a divorce? Where they already, as the serpent seems to be telling them, as free as God to do what they want? I’m saying, and I believe that the Church says that they were truly free, which means that they were freed from the bonds of a sinful nature. In other words, no divorce, no affairs on the side, no homosexual actions, no contraception., no anger, no war. They clearly were to have heterosexual relations between them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it…” Gen 1:28 But it’s kind of hard to extrapolate homosexual actions in the Garden from Genesis. And we’d have to do so if we are to get where you want Christianity to be.

    Sometimes it seems like Adam and Eve had no time to do much of anything before they ate the apple so all of this may be moot. But in fact there is no time scale given for how long they were there before the fall.

    Now, while I note what you’re saying with the difference between consensual adults making a choice and a free loving choice, I think that is really where the wheels fall off your argument.

    First you don’t give any connection between what Jesus actually said and where you got that standard. You describe it as “very much in the line” of what Jesus said but don’t describe how we are to go from the line about no adultery and no fornication, to a standard that says that homosexual acts can be equally as moral as heterosexual acts . I suspect that you’re reading into the text what you want it to say, and oddly enough, have come out with a reading that gives the approval of Jesus to YOUR behavior, while still somehow managing to have him not approve of the behavior of all other sorts of people, i.e., consensual incest, consensual prostitution, etc. That’s just a bit too convenient.

    More troubling is what are we to do with marriage? Is pre-marital sex still OK? How about consensual multiple relationships? I don’t doubt that you can come up with all sorts of ways to keep those unethical, while still maintaining that homosexual acts can be the moral equivalent to heterosexual acts. But the question is whether this is what Jesus really meant.

    Lets take the words fornication and adultery that Jesus used, and ask ourselves how these could apply to homosexual acts. For heterosexual actions, the meaning is pretty clear – no sex before marriage, and no sex with other partners after marriage. Now, this is where it gets tricky. How do we apply that same standard to homosexual actions while at the same time make sure that the standard is the same for both heterosexual and homosexual actions? The problem is that there was no “marriage” for two men. If the very definitions of the words fornication and adultery refer back to marriage, which they do, then how can homosexual acts be approved of? We’d have to conclude somehow that Jesus was, in Mark 7, endorsing or creating a new kind of same-gender marriage – with a matching prohibition on pre-same-sex marriage homosexual sex and a prohibition on adulterous homosexual acts outside of same-sex marriage. Wow! Can you really spin all of that from the words of Mark 7

    How exactly do we get the creation of same-sex marriage from the words “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man” Can you really infer that Jesus created a new kind of same sex marriage here?

    Or…perhaps you’re saying that marriage isn’t that important to heterosexual actions either. Again, an ethical argument can be made, as I think you’re doing, that the concepts of exploitation and love are what make an action moral or not, and it’s actually a very good standard to make. In this line of thought, what’s seen as the purely legalistic and rigid standards like marital chastity (no pre-marital sex, no adultery) are replaced with a more enlightened standard of love and mutual respect. Fine. But is that really what Jesus taught? What you’re saying may have a lot of ethical support for it, but it’s not what Jesus said, and it’s certainly not what the Church has taught. It is easier to get us to your standard using reason than it is to get us there using the words of Mark 7.

    Because without the creation of a religiously sanctioned same-sex marriage, the words adultery and fornication would have to also prohibit same-sex sexual contact too. Either that, or we’d have two standards. One for same sex-actions and the other for opposite sex actions. Sexual acts between a man and woman would be unfairly hemmed in by marriage, leaving same-sex acts free to the consciences of the individuals. Either that or we’d have to suppose that Jesus instituted the sacrament of same-sex marriage in Mark 7. Good luck with that one.

    What you’re creating here is an purely ethical, non-Christian standard that may have its positive side, but that is apart from the teaching of the historic Jesus. It could, at best, be described as “in the path” of the teachings of the Church. At best, it’s Christian-ish. But it’s not actually what Jesus taught. I suspect that you realize that too; as you said, “in the line of what Jesus taught”, as contrasted to what Jesus actually taught. It’s what you WISH he had taught. Now that’s really troubling and this is why this very issue is breaking down the Episcopal group of Christians. They correctly see that a break has been made between ethics and scripture. The real question then becomes, what’s next? Once we’ve broken the connection between our ethics and the gospel, what comes next? Is man good enough to live without or opposed to the gospel? History alone would say no.

    Now this is all on the theological level. You’ve created an ethical standard that has broken the connection between the actual words of Jesus and our ethics, but one that you claim, will also prevent things like consensual prostitution, consensual pornography, consensual group sex. OK. The problem in practice with that is that these other people are just as likely to claim that they are in fact free and respectful of themselves when they also do as they please. You may be able to come up with an ethic that limits us from consensual open marriages. You may say that this is just their own lust acting out in them and as such it is wrong. But someone who really wants to do these things is likely to see it differently. They may feel that what they do is just as moral as what you want to do. Then we’re in the realm of human will here, and not of Christian ethics.

    I don’t want to run on any more here. There’s enough out there. But I did want to end with saying again what I first said. Homosexual actions are not something separate from other prohibited behaviors. I don’t see any need to be so overly sensitive that we’re afraid to hear that. I don’t go into a downward spiral when I think of all of my other sins and there are plenty of them. And the Church that I know, which is a very solid and orthodox one, has never hinted at or made me feel any different from any other person. When I tell other Christians that I used to be involved with same-sex actions, what I get back is not shock. To a man, they say, well I used to do X. I used to do Y. It’s no different from my other temptations – to over eat, to be slothful – just something that God is working on. And I’ve always been told that love and friendship is fine. I’ve never been pressured to become straight. But I don’t pretend that this inclination is sanctioned by God either. I am not so overly sensitive that I can’t hear some criticism. But that’s a W H O L E other issue.

    • Mark,

      The comments thread is really NOT a place for a lengthy debate. It’s just that, a place for “comments”. Your entire argument is based on the assumption that homosexual acts are “prohibited” (as you show by lumping them together with “other prohibited acts”.) I for one don’t accept that they are. but that is a quite distinct issue than the principle of an “open tabernacle”, which is what this post was about. I will over time discuss different elements of homosexuality in Scripture and you will be welcome to disagree there. but please don’t distort a general post on the principle of openness and and introducing a new site, into a long-winded debate pushing your views on morality.

      However, homosexuality is emphatically NOT the primary concern of this site. there are very many other topics to go through. This is anew site, and it will take time to get through them all. I can understand your excitement at the possibility of debating them all, but please be patient. Let us leave discussion on the specifics to posts which actually discuss them.

  8. Mark, thanks for the response, but Terry is right, comment sections really shouldn’t turn into posts and I’m definitely part of the problem.

    I avoid dealing with Adam and Eve because the story is a straight line for incest not too mention it’s metaphorical. There’s a lot of incest in the Bible, now that I think about it. Like the story of Lot. That doesn’t make incest a moral behavior for our time. Things do change.

    • Also, it’s an interesting way, to the say the least, of discussing Christianity that starts with a premise to “avoid dealing with Adam and Eve.” The story may not be history as our limited way of understand knows it, but really, how can we talk about the Bible if we’re barred from discussing the beginning of Genesis? Just wondering, what other parts of the Bible do we toss out? This cuts to the heart of what I’m saying here – that you’re basing your thinking not on the Bible or on Christianity, but on philosophy. You start out by saying that you’re basing your thought not on the Mosaic law but on Jewish culture (as understood by incomplete contemporary archaeology), and then go on to set aside the beginnings of Genesis.

      It is also incomprehensible that you can read Genesis and conclude that the incest of Lot’s daughters is approved of just because they did it. Where is your proof that the Bible taught that incest was ever approved of? It happened, yes. But approved of? Where is that?

      Why is this important? Because as you say, “things do change.” And you want them to change more. That’s the groundwork you’ve laid in order to make further changes. The problem is that the foundation is flawed. The incest of Lot was not approved of.

      • Read Colleen’s comment again, Mark. It’s precisely because she disapproves of incest that she avoids talking about Adam & Eve – dwelling on the creation story all too easily leads to the conclusion that their descendants ,must necessarily have populated the earth through incest.

        We all know the bible is against incest, as are we. but as you seem to have a particular interest in the subject, I refer you to my post on “women as property” (which was in turn a response to your request for more information on my earlier statement). In that post, I share a n observation that the Biblical reasons for opposing incest were not the same as ours: incest was seen as a crime against sexual property.

  9. (“This comment has been edited for its length, repeating earlier statements unnecessarily, and getting way off the topic of the original post. See my post yesterday on Thoughts on comments”)

    Wow! Amazing. So, what is acceptable is to make general statements with NO arguments, proofs or reasoning such as “I for one don’t accept that they are” or “This is well accepted by any number of Biblical scholars”?

    Or the inexplicable statement that “homosexuality is emphatically NOT the primary concern of this site” is made be a person calling himself “QueerChurch”??? Please explain that one. The name is QUEER CHURCH yet the subject of homosexuality in the Bible is off limits? HUH?

    Lot and incest. Hmmm. Again I’m startled. Do you really think that Genesis is approving of incest? Or is moot on the point? I know your reasoning VERY well. You start out with the assumption that because the Bible MENTIONS incest, that the OT APPROVES of incest. Then you use that to throw the whole thing out, or more accurately, the parts the you don’t like.

    I’ve got to say that I’m a little bit hurt. I put a lot of time and thought into what I’m saying. I’m beginning to conclude that the Tabernacle is in open, but only to praise and amens.

    • MarK:

      1) “general statements with NO arguments, proofs or reasoning”: This is an opening statement, not a complete argument. Substantiation and reasoning will come.
      2) “homosexuality is emphatically NOT the primary concern of this site”.No, it is not – although it is at my home site, “queering the church”. If you want to know more of the substantiayion for my statements, you will find a lot of it there.
      3) “Do you really think that Genesis is approving of incest?” No, I do not. I have said, or implied so.
      4) “I’m beginning to conclude that the Tabernacle is in open, but only to praise and amens.” How ever do you reach that conclusion?. Nobody has been turned away, no comment has been censored for a disagreeable view, nor will they ever be. Yours above was edited for length, but that is all.

      Opposing views are more than welcome – but do not expect that every statement will necessarily warrant a reply. That’s not snubbing you: it’s just recognizing that we also have a lot of other tasks to attend to.

      As I’ve said to you before Mark: I understand your enthusiasm for the site, and impatience to see us elaborate on the issues that concern you: but be patient. We can’t cover it all in the first week.

    • “I’m beginning to conclude that the Tabernacle is in open, but only to praise and amens.”

      I guess that proves no matter what we write we are still products of Catholicism—and pre Vat II for the most part.

      As to the incest question, the OT may not approve of it, but in both Genesis and Lot incest is presented as a necessity if only to keep the human race viable.

      • No, I’ll emphatically say that the prohibitions on incest and adultery had NOTHING to do with property rights. What appeared on the other thread was not an explanation of why adultery was a violation of property rights, but was merely a restatement of someone else saying that. And mentions that other people think that too. That’s not only NOT convincing, it’s not even an attempt to be convincing. It’s just a report that someone else thinks something.

        When we say that things have changed since the OT, that is when we are getting somewhere. The question is whether that change is seen through the lens of Christ, or through modern psychology and politics.

        What we see in the course of salvation history is that our behavior choices are being more and more limited. Man started off knowing nothing about God and had little in the way of morality. So under the Law, God started us off with the basics.

        [The full comment was too long for a comment box. to read the full piece, click here]

        • Mark, of course I was reporting what “someone else” was saying: that was the point of it. That “someone else” just happens to be emeritus professor of New Testament theology at Berkely divinity school, and one of he most respected scholars on the subject of biblical sexuality, widely quoted by almost every author on teh subject. I happen to think that his ideas are rather more trustworthy than my own – which is why I repeated his conclusions, in summary form, rather than just suck something out of my thumb.

  10. Terence, I know that and I don’t want to be rough on you. I really do appreciate your responses and the space I’ve been given here.

  11. […] recent post “Here Comes Everybody” at the Open Tabernacle drew a query in the comments thread from a prolific commenter, Mark, who […]

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