Thursday, 1 June 2017

Same Sex Marriage

I see the famous Australian tennis player Margaret Court has got into trouble for refusing to fly on Qantas as it promotes same sex marriage. See here.  I sympathise with her for standing up for what she believes in but she's wasting her time as this is something that the left (as in demonic powers and principalities with whom we are waging spiritual war) has poured a lot of time and energy into, and they're not going to give up on it. All we can do is stand up for the truth and speak it whenever possible in a calm and unemotional way and without putting pies in people's faces (see here). And then hope that those who are yearning for the truth, especially the young, in a world of lies can be given some support.

Clearly same sex marriage is a contradiction in terms. The fact that it is now regarded as perfectly right and proper shows that the world has gone slightly mad. You might think there are more important things to worry about but this is a real litmus text of spiritual understanding because what it involves (and this is why it has been pushed so hard by the left) is a radical restructuring of what a human being is. It is an essential  part of severing us from our spiritual roots, and attempting to divorce us from the reality of God because it denies the truth of what we are and what he is.

The excuse of love used to justify it is just that, an excuse, and boils down to doing what I want. Human love, real or imagined, cannot be used to overturn and deny truth. Divine love is a different matter but then divine love always coincides with truth and is not dependent on personal emotions.

None of this means that homosexuals themselves should be judged or treated with disrespect in any way. I wish I didn't have to say that as it's obvious but one must be prepared for misunderstanding when talking on this subject, not to mention an often deliberate distortion of what one actually says to put one in a bad light. So I must make clear my position, which is the standard religious one, that while same sex marriage is entirely wrong, homosexuality itself is natural to homosexuals and they are loved by God in just the same way as heterosexuals. But this does not mean that either the practice or expression of homosexuality is in line with spiritual truth, and homosexuals need to understand this before anyone else for the sake of their own development.

You might ask why people should suffer for how they were born through no fault of their own. I would first of all say, how do you know that's the case? How do you know that our character is not the result of something we agreed to or were given as a life lesson before we were born? But then I would add that plenty of people are either born or live their lives in far more difficult circumstances than this. That is part of the reality of this world which is a school not a holiday resort. Besides we are all called to live our lives in a way that is spiritually right not personally satisfactory. Very often that does require going against that aspect of our nature that is fallen, and homosexuality is certainly a result of the Fall. 'Man and woman created he them'. It may have a role in the short term for God can bring good out of evil, but that role would be on a spiritual plane not a sexual one. By which I mean that God can use the fact that homosexuals exist to push people towards the spiritual path which they can explore more fully than perhaps would otherwise have been the case due to the fact that they cannot express their sexuality normally. There are others ways too but none would involve the desecration of a spiritual energy.

I'm sorry to put the matter so bluntly but that is what the expression of homosexuality is. It is the desecration of a spiritual energy.  Of course, heterosexuals do this all the time in the modern world as well. We are all sinners, but just because overcoming sin is hard is no reason to deny its sinfulness.

I'm not saying that two people of the same sex cannot live together and even love each other but they should strive for a celibate life and their relationship should certainly not be called marriage or granted the same status. And frankly this is so obvious that only intellectuals, using that term in its derogatory sense of someone who restricts his thinking to abstractions separated from meaning, can fail to see it. Or dyed in the wool materialists or sentimentalists or those who follow the herd regardless of where it goes or homosexuals whose opinions are clouded by a personal agenda. But anyone relying on simple common sense, never mind spiritual understanding, can see that no same sex marriage was ever made in heaven.

27 comments:

Aaron said...

William -

As far as I understand it, celibacy was the ideal for early Christianity (as for Buddhists). Marriage was permitted as a concession to human weakness.

So marriage was not strictly for 'procreation', but rather an attempt to limit and corral as far as possible the sexual instinct, which kept one attached to this world.

This may seem shocking to moderns, but Christianity had as its goal liberation from this fallen world - whose lord is the Prince of Darkness. Christianity was not a tract on how to live well in this world, to make of this world a paradise, with rules about "proper" sexuality - all sexuality is in some sense improper, and its acceptance in any form is merely a concession, and should be understood as such, and not mistaken for actual "affirmation" of some kinds of sexuality.

(Or rather, one lives well in this world by gradually reducing one's attachment to it, as if this world is unimportant, with both eyes on the other world.)

Procreation is a worldly goal that affirms life on this earth and seeks to continue it indefinitely. Only worldliness can "affirm" it in and of itself.

Indeed Jesus, with his other-worldly message, makes clear the family is very low on the order of priorities, when he says we must leave father and mother, etc, if we are to follow him. Clearly, family life - based around procreation - is not affirmed as an end in and of itself.

Homosexuality is as inappropriate as any other kind of sexuality, as it keeps one bound to this fallen world.

I am not as well versed in the New Testament as I should be, but I believe there are no references to homosexuality in it, and all our verses about it come from the Old Testament. But the OT is an "optimistic" religion - it celebrates life on this earth and holds out earthly rewards. But we know the NT supersedes this with a profounder vision - the Law has been "fulfilled" - its ethical tendency has been perfected in world-renunciation, which it was only hinting at and leading up to till that point.

So - while homosexuality is surely a barrier to salvation - I don't think there is any warrant to make it any kind of yardstick or place any greater importance on it than sexuality in general. And indeed in kindred religions like Buddhism, homosexuality occupies no special place.

Only a worldly perspective interested on procreation and peopling the world can put homosexuality in a special category of censure, it seems to me.

Aaron said...

Just to be clear, I am not saying homosexuality is OK and fine, I just don't see why we should isolate it from the sexual revolution as a whole and make it a particular yardstick of badness - the whole sexual revolution is terrible, and there doesn't seem to be any Christian reason to particularly focus on homosexuality.

Only if one believes that there is a "proper" sexuality based on procreation (i.e not that sexuality is inherently bad, and family inherently unimportant), can one single out homosexuality. But then homosexuality would be singled out from a worldly perspective that sees increase of population - tribal flourishing on earth, not liberation from it - as the goal.

ajb said...

"Only if one believes that there is a "proper" sexuality based on procreation (i.e not that sexuality is inherently bad, and family inherently unimportant), can one single out homosexuality"

The standard Christian view is exactly this. Proper sexuality is intrinsically tied to procreation, sexuality is not inherently bad, and family is inherently important. This is not understood as exclusive of various monastic or celibate practices, obviously.

Aaron said...

@ajb

Jesus's words about leaving family to follow him flatly contradict you. Its really impossible to be ambiguous on this point. The family simply is a lesser priority.

Early Christianity also was quite clear about this - celibacy was the ideal, and marriage a concession.

If this world is the domain of the Prince of Darkness, and will eventually end by being destroyed anyways - standard Christian doctrine - then procreation and family, which only have relevance to this world, "can" only be of secondary importance, at best. In no way can it be "inherently" important - only, at best, "instrumentally", relatively, important.

But although this view leads to the greatest cheerfulness and happiness possible on this earth, while true fulfillment is only possible in the next world, for worldlings like us, attached to our earthly pleasures as we are, it is a hard doctrine to accept.

Which is why true teachings like these always get "reinterpreted" as the centuries pass, into something more fit for worldlings like us, and they eventually end up as secular earth-bound modernity, or something very like it - at which point the age ends, and a new age is ushered in.

Ideas that place ultimate importance on family and the like seek to "properly" organize life on earth - i.e, without a view to final emancipation from life on earth - are not, despite appearances, really opposed to modernity. They are merely a heresy within modernity - how best to organize earthly life. Or, at best, a stage right before modernity.

The irony is, that this process is set in motion by the desire to find happiness on earth and in earthly things - yet the more we seek for happiness here, the more miserable we become. Its why modernity is the most miserable of all - it seeks for happiness in earthly things, and for that reason, loses what it most seeks.

William Wildblood said...

This is in answer to Aaron's first comments. I haven't read the others yet.

Part of me agrees with you Aaron. We are enjoined to be detached from all the things of this world, of which sex is certainly one of the strongest, if we would succeed to the highest spiritual realisation.

And yet sex is a natural thing whilst in a body and there should be nothing natural that a true spiritual attitude should not be able to deal with happily. It can express itself in any situation. It is attachment that binds not the thing itself though I know that such a teaching is open to all sorts of abuse and self deception.

Nevertheless it is in the mind that one 'sins' or falls short not the body.
God created us in two sexes and though spiritual consciousness in itself may transcend this, as expressed beings we are male or female and have a complementary opposite. I think whether we marry or not depends on our individual destiny but if reproduction is left only to the spiritually disinclined then it's hard to see how humanity as a whole can advance as it should.

But I have to admit I thought as you say for many years and the main reason I do not now could be to justify to myself my present situation. If you can stand a little personal history, I lived a celibate quasi-monastic life until I was 44 but then reached a watershed moment, met someone and had to decide if I should proceed in the direction life seemed to be indicating. I now have 2 children and my spiritual practice has certainly taken a different turn, more prayer than meditation. I think that was my intended path but obviously that could be wishful thinking.

Returning to the subject of the post, you would surely agree that the expression of heterosexuality does what sex is supposed to do whereas that of homosexuality does not? The former is in line with God's rules 'male and female created he them, be fruitful and multiply etc' while the latter is not. Sex basically is the reason for the two sexes. Without those it has no reason or even meaning. There is a natural and an unnatural use of energy. There is obedience of natural law and disobedience.

Nevertheless what is worse than sin (using an emotive term which nevertheless has meaning)is the denial that sin is sinful and even the celebration of it. It is this that separates us from God more than anything else and it is this that I was writing about really.

St Paul mentions homosexuality in critical terms in Romans 1 but frankly if anyone believes that Jesus would have approved of it from the rest of his teachings they are deluding themselves. I think we can safely say his attitude would have been as it was to the woman taken in adultery. "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more". But those who don't want to see that, won't see it (I'm not having a dig at you here!).

I don't think Jesus was against marriage per se though he may have regarded it as a distraction for his disciples that would stop them fulfilling their spiritual work. But the two are not incompatible I would say, and there are indeed many lessons that can be learned in the context of marriage that cannot be learned nearly so well elsewhere or in the single state. Maybe we need different experiences at different times.

William Wildblood said...

What you are saying in your last comment sounds to me more like certain branches of Gnosticism than Christian orthodoxy, Aaron. This world is God's. The Prince of Darkness has spoiled it and sought to usurp it but it is still God's. And God created sex though the devil has certainly corrupted it and deeply at that. Homosexuality, of course, is part of that corruption.

The whole manifested universe in a way has come about through the sexual union of spirit and matter. It really goes as far back as that.

Jesus did say his disciples should leave their family but in a properly ordered world spirituality and family life would not need to be exclusive.

ajb said...

@Aaron,

"Jesus's words about leaving family to follow him flatly contradict you. Its really impossible to be ambiguous on this point. The family simply is a lesser priority."

Cherry-picking NT verses out of context is almost always a bad methodology.

So Jesus was commanding people to hate others and become suicidally depressive?

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple." Lk 14:26.

ajb said...

"will eventually end by being destroyed anyways - standard Christian doctrine"

The standard view is that the world will be *redeemed*. The divine will infuse it and transform it - Heaven and Earth will come together, such that there is a *new* Earth and a *new* Jerusalem.

Aaron said...

William -

I understand, and we all have to make concessions to our earthly state in various ways. For some people, marriage may be the best vehicle for learning detachment from the world, which is why it is not actually a sin.

I merely think we have to keep in mind that it is not the ideal - perhaps for us it is best, but we must never lose sight of the ideal, or forget that we are making concessions to our fallen state.

I fail in my quest for the ideal all the time, on a regular basis, but I try and always remember what the ideal is, if I can.

William, you seem to me to be coming very close to the "naturalistic fallacy", if I may say so. Either way, clearly the "natural man" is something we must overcome, and "nature" is opposed to spirit and our ultimate destiny. This has been standard Christianity for some time.

So your remarks about sex being natural do not seem to me to have any Christian significance.

"Be fruitful and multiply" is OT. And that has been superseded. Eye for an eye and hate your enemies is also OT, and has been superseded.

Be fruitful and multiply goes together with eye for an eye and hatred of enemies - clearly, the goal is earthly flourishing. Love your enemies and resist not evil looks beyond earthly flourishing - indeed is incompatible with it - and goes together with "hating" father and mother to follow the Path of Jesus. Any other worldly doctrine cannot have earthly flourishing as its goal - and the ethics of Christianity make clear that earthly flourishing is irrelevant to it.

As for Gnosticism, I don't think we need to reach that far. Catholocism and Orthodox Christianity are also world-renouncing and both see celibacy as the ideal, and marriage as a concession.

It is only Protestantism, which was a fundamental break with the ascetic spirit of Christianity and finally culminated, logically, in earth-embracing secular modernity, that one begins to hear that earthly goods like wealth, success, and marriage, are suddenly compatible with God.

Indeed, the whole "earthly" universe may have come about as you say, through sexual polarity - but this earthly realm is precisely what we need salvation from. It is not an ultimate in any way, and what is fundamental to it cannot in any way be ultimately fundamental. This earthly realm is destined to be destroyed and our task is to transcend it.



William Wildblood said...

As I say I sympathise with both points of view and I think both have something to recommend them. We certainly have to transcend identification with our sexual nature though and sometimes this may actually be easier in the context of marriage. Better to marry than to burn.

The expression of homosexuality, however, is always a misuse of sex from a spiritual perspective. Sex can be used legitimately in marriage even if we should eventually go beyond the need to express it physically.

But ajb is right. This world is to be redeeemed not destroyed. The Ascension of Jesus I think is a precursor of that and an example of what will take place. The world and the body are not rejected but purified, their matter transmuted and taken up into heaven. Thus the purpose of creation is fulfilled and we are left with something more than we had before.

Aaron said...

@ajb

Why suicidally depressive? Giving up your "life" actually leads to happiness, not depression. That is indeed the Christian message, and the Buddhist message as well. It is the great paradoxical truth of the world and humanity - the doctrine of the "other world". You pursue life on this world - and you lose higher life.

That you understand it that merely shows that you have not emancipated yourself from modernity, and have not assimilated Christianity.

And I am not in the least "cherry picking" - I am doing something that is perhaps unpopular among the worldlings of today (myself included) - actually taking the NT at its word, and thus turning back the clock perhaps 500 years.

Indeed, the entire NT is an extended dsiquistion on the need to renounce and overcome and transcend the world - no cherry picking needed.

As for the world being redeemed, yes - by destroying it in its current form, with its current set-up, rules, principles, etc.

Aaron said...

William -

I understand, and we do not entirely disagree.

As for redemption of the world and matter, yes, that is correct - but clearly redeemed matter is something very different than it is now, the set up, rules, and principles will be different.

It is not merely that matter and the flesh as it is now will be somehow be made mystically "OK", just as it is.

And the NT is an excellent guide as to what aspects of matter will be transcended - and indeed, the picture that emerges is such that matter with all its earthly imperatives - selfishness, ego, material individuality - will be abolished, and the new "matter" is something that has barely any relationship to what we understand by that term, and the imperatives that we live under.

But in all things the ethical precepts of the NT are an infallible guide - we don't have to guess.

ajb said...

@Aaron,

Jesus's point is that we must put God first, and everything else be ordered around that. As the passage from Luke continues to say

"any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple."

Did Jesus seem to hate his own mother? No, of course not. Jesus routinely spoke in hyperbole, riddles, and used language to shock his listeners into hearing something new.

"Why suicidally depressive? Giving up your "life" actually leads to happiness, not depression."

Exactly! Jesus is advocating non-attachment to everything 'in this world', and rather attachment to God. Just as he doesn't mean literally hating one's family, he doesn't mean that family doesn't have inherent value. Indeed, his teachings about marriage are the opposite of this ('what God has brought together, let no man separate').

Aaron said...

@ajb

Well, this last comment of yours I largely agree with, for once :) But not entirely.

Yes, Jesus spoke in hyperbole - clearly we are not to 'hate' - but what is a lesser form of hate? Detachment.

What 'new' thing did Jesus want us to hear? That family, which the Jews, and the Greeks, and the Romans, took so seriously, is of secondary importance.

"Inherent value" - well, I mean by this ultimate value. It can have instrumental value for some people, as I said to William. It is not a sin. But it is not perfection.

And those who do choose to get married, even as a concession, must not put aside what God consented to put together. That is correct.

But this does not mean it is an ideal.

And I really do believe God wants us to give up all things - but how completely has this message been lost in the modern world, even among religious people?

Instead of sacrifice and self-noughting, it is all about "developing" in some way, "growing", etc.

William Wildblood said...

It is perfectly true that if we want God we have to give up everything else, inwardly at least. It may not always be necessarily outwardly but often is. That's the meaning of the crucifixion, of course. So I am fully at one with you on your last two paragraphs Aaron.

ajb said...

@Aaron,

""Inherent value" - well, I mean by this ultimate value. It can have instrumental value for some people, as I said to William. It is not a sin. But it is not perfection."

Okay, but then I think we're talking semantic differences here, as in 'destroyed' or 'redeemed'.

Celibacy doesn't have ultimate value - it too is of instrumental value for some people. For example, Jesus gave 3 valid reasons for people not to marry (Matthew 19:10-12), the relevant one being "eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake." Being a 'eunuch' in this sense (voluntarily celibate, not getting married and having children) isn't good in itself, rather its good is that in certain circumstances it helps to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven.

ajb said...

@Aaron,

The Catholic view of the OT and NT is that neither can be understood without the other, and that they form an organic whole. I think you're too quick to brush aside the OT.

Consider the idea of 'an eye for an eye'. This was intended to *limit* a spiral of violence. You can *only* take an eye for an eye, not more. Jesus then took the next step. Not only should you not take more than an eye for an eye, but ...

Similarly, in his teachings on divorce. Moses said you could divorce, but he then takes the next step and says divorce is not allowed (except in cases of adultery, perhaps).

Aaron said...

@ajb

100% - celibacy is not desired for its "own" sake. Rather, it frees us from this world (helps bring the Kingdom of Heaven)

No condition in this fallen world is good-in-itself. That is the point.

Good things in this world are not desired for their own sake, but because they are bridges to the other world - love, nature, beauty, they are bridges to a beyond.

(love, as "unity", is an ultimate. But earthly love, between two discrete individual units, is an attempt to leap into this fundamental "unity" - i.e, to abolish themselves as individual discrete units, which they are only in the world of phenomena. Individuality is an illusion)

For some people, marriage will help them reach their full potential for liberation, but celibacy is the ideal. But each must decide for himself.

Aaron said...

@ajb - I agree with you about the relationship between the OT and the NT.

The NT is the fulfillment (final development from first principles) of the ethical tendency of the OT, which in the Prophets went as far as it could go without going beyond Judaism outright.

The next step needed to go beyond and supersede Judaism, with is too strongly earthly and optimistic (optimistic about this earthly life, which is essentially a secular attitude), to have taken the next step.

However, as far as I understand it, Egyptian religion was quite world-renouncing and focused on the after-life, and thus superior to Judaism in this respect. But I don't know enough about this.

But the OT was "fulfilled" - it reached its terminus, i.e it was "transcended" - and not "abolished". ("I came to fulfill, not abolish the Law").

ajb said...

"For some people, marriage will help them reach their full potential for liberation, but celibacy is the ideal."

I can certainly see where you get this idea (Paul is probably the prime example), but I don't see anywhere that Jesus says this (you need another example from the one above, as it does not mean what you claimed it meant), nor do I see anywhere where he overrules 'go forth and multiply'.

Having said that, certainly the problem nowadays isn't too many people choosing monasticism or celibacy! So I'm happy to concede you might be right, although I think your metaphysics is too pessimistic regarding the nature of creation (again, the bigger problem today is probably Pollyannaish naivete, so perhaps a good corrective).

William Wildblood said...

Thank you both for a stimulating and illuminating discussion.

Aaron said...

Thanks, ajb, I enjoyed the discussion. And I am so uncompromising in my pessimism (about this world, optimism about our ultimate fate), because I think it is the fault line between modernity and spirituality.

Thanks, William, for hosting us!

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - Very well said.

And your views on this subject carry extra authority since you did live in a loving friendship with another man (I mean your life with Michael, as described in Meeting the Masters); and that other man was celibate (but previously not celibate) and homosexual in his orientation.

One of the saddest, and indeed nastiest, aspects of modern sexuality is to apply an inisidious reductionism to (esepcially) male friendship; to imply that it is 'really' homosexual - and make this either the sbuject of sneerig or to enlist it in the current political warfare.

There is a trope - derived from Freud's misunderstood, and indeed discredited, psychological theories - that it is spiritually healthy to 'acknowledge' sexual attraction in friendship, and put it into practice; and not to do so leads to hang-ups, misery and nasty behaviour motivated by hypocrisy.

This scientifically and medically ridiculous notion (that we *ought to* actively embrace any sexual urges, which are asumed to be there whether or not we admit it, when it comes to same-sex relationships) is heavily yet covertly pushed in the mass media, especially that directed at teens and young adults.

This is yet another instance of materialism destroying spirituality, since friendship can be, often was in the past, an exceptionally spiritual relationship. Indeed, I think that is why it has been singled-out for destruction-by-reduction by the forces of evil.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - I would like to add that this is (yet) another subject which cannot be genuinely discussed with someone whose metaphysical assumptions are secular and modern - since for them (for most people) the bottom line of morality is 'people's feelings' (or if not actual feelings - since feelings are not accessible according to materialism - communicated claims about their own feelings and assumptions about other-people's feelings).

Modern public discourse is thus 'therapeutic' because it does not acknowledge the reality of a spiritual perspective - and to argue from a spiritual perspective is therefore regarded as being deluded by ignorance or insanity, or dishonestly manipulative.

SSM is therefore both a consequence of our decline into materialism - a measure of our spiritually-corrupted state; and also a further step in advancing materialism and spiritual corruption.

(At a simpler level, the validity of SSM is also the kind of demotivating and deeply confusing Official-Lie that is charectristic of totalitarianism. All lies are evil; but the specific nature of this lie, the centrality of its nature to humanity, is especially destructive of Good. Hence the dishonesty, comprehensiveness and coercion of its official implementation.)

William Wildblood said...

Yes, I agree, Bruce. To discuss this with someone who does not have a spiritual perspective leads to complete incomprehension and you are regarded as an ignorant bigot. But then I firmly believe that without a proper metaphysics you literally cannot understand anything. You will be wrong in practically everything that matters.

Feminist Heretic said...

I so loved your posts about Buddhism but this one I absolutely disagree with. I respect your right to your opinion, though!

William Wildblood said...

And I you to yours (if that is grammatically correct!). The trouble is though if our opinions are based on faulty or insufficient data. Ultimately there is opinion and there is truth.

It's no accident that the idea of same sex marriage has arisen at a time when humanity is more separated from spiritual truth than ever and forms its opinions on an exclusively humanist/materialist basis. Which is not to excuse the intolerance and persecution of previous centuries (based on a wrong and unsympathetic or unloving reaction to a right intuition)but to point out that maybe we do not have the full facts at our disposal.

I know you're not a Christian but you have probably heard the story of the crowd pursuing an adulterous woman with the intention of stoning her. Their mistake according to Jesus was not of condemning adultery but of reacting to that with self-righteousness and hatred. Now we make the opposite mistake. We don't condemn but we do condone.

We should do as Jesus or any wise teacher would do. Uphold the truth but not condemn those who fall short as long as they understand where they do fall short. And that applies to everyone in every aspect of life.