When I ordered God, Gays and the Church, I was – perhaps quite naively – not prepared for the egregious level of homophobia contained in its pages.
Released yesterday to coincide with the gay debate at the Church of England Synod, the book is a compendium of essays about homosexuality and ex-gays, here re-termed “post-gays”. It is published by The Latimer Trust, and edited by Lisa Nolland, Chris Sugden and Sarah Finch of the UK-based Anglican Mainstream.
The book argues that the debate has been too heavily slanted towards gay experience, and promises to redress the balance by telling the stories of ex-gays. In fact, ex-gay testimonies make up just one small part of the book.
I didn’t have a major problem with the contributions of Peter Ould or James Parker. Both describe themselves as post-gay, and both tell their own stories. However, the rest of the book is a sadly familiar concoction of anti-gay myths propped up by long-since debunked theories.
Within a few pages, the reader is told that when homosexual apologists (including gay Christians) talk about “monogamy,” “commitment,” and “faithful,” heterosexuals cannot assume they mean “sexual exclusivity.” Why? For the evidence, the authors turn straight away to the research of the notoriously unreliable Paul Cameron, the propagandist with whom even Exodus no longer wishes to be associated. Here, it is Cameron’s discredited “average life-span” claim that is pressed into the service of homophobia.
A recurring argument in the book is that gay rights and civil partnerships inevitably lead to accepting all sorts of sexual practices. Therefore, in the “Glossary of Terms in the Gay Debate,” it is thought necessary to define “Necrophilia,” “Intergenerational Love” and “Polyamoury [sic],” along with the more obvious terms. Another appendix provides quotes from pedophile activists, and offers links to websites about zoophilia, bestiality and incest.
In yet another of six appendices, US evangelical Charles Colson is called on to demonstrate how civil partnerships (legal in the UK) are a threat to marriage. Here marital unfaithfulness, BDSM and polyamory are all presented as natural consequences of gays getting equal rights. The spectre of San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair is invoked more than once in the book; indeed, one gets the impression that heterosexuals are hardly responsible for any of these trends, even when they’re the ones taking part; it all ends up at the feet of gays.
However, by far the most obnoxious chapter – and the most damning example of outright homophobia in the book – is “The Books, the Porn, the Truth: The Truth about the Homosexual Rights Movement,” by Ronald G Lee, an article that first appeared in the February 2006 edition of The New Oxford Review, a US Catholic journal.
In an introductory paragraph, editor Chris Sugden writes:
It is our view that Dr Lee’s narrative deserves a hearing equal to that given to the impassioned gay advocate. Surely equal opportunities work both ways? If this was the truth for Dr Lee, then we owe it to him to attend to his experience, and allow it to form part of the evidence which we need to take into account when discussing these issues. Though it may be hard to believe, we love those struggling with same sex attraction too much to do otherwise.
Sugden appears to be engaging in a bit of clever tit-for-tat here, since the thesis of the book is that the personal stories of gays and lesbians are not sufficient evidence to warrant accepting them into the church. The tone seems to be “If you can do it, so can we.” And so Sugden justifies the inclusion of some of the most nefarious anti-gay generalizations I have read in a while:
And, gentle reader, [the porn section of a gay bookshop] is where most of them will spend the rest of their lives, until God or AIDS, drugs or alcohol, suicide or a lonely old age, intervenes.
In other words, if you support what is now described in euphemistic terms as “the blessing of same sex unions,” in practice you are supporting the abolition of the entire Christian sexual ethic and its substitution with an unrestricted, laissez faire, free sexual market.
Gay churches survive as places where worshippers can go to sleep it off and cleanse their consciences after a Saturday night spent cruising for sex at the bars.
Homosexuals are promiscuous because when give the choice, homosexuals overwhelmingly choose to be promiscuous.
Here is the terrifying fact: If we as a nation and as a Church allow ourselves to be taken in by the scam of monogamous same-sex couples, we will be … legitimizing every kind of sexual taste, from old-fashioned masturbation and adultery to the most outlandish forms of sexual fetishism. We will, in other words, be giving our blessing to the suicide of Western civilization.
Gentle reader, do you know what a “bug chaser” is? A bug chaser is a young gay man who wants to contract HIV so that he will never grow old.
The homosexual rights movement is rotten to the core. It has no future. There is no life in it. Sooner or later, those who are caught up in it are going to wake up from the dream or else die. … How many more children are going to be sacrificed to this Molech?
Shame on Anglican Mainstream for peddling such outrageous nonsense. Sadly, it is only confirmation that as a representative of Christianity, the organization stands well outside the mainstream and well within the extreme right-wing modelled by the culture warriors of the American Church.
I can only hope that the wiser conservatives in the Church of England will follow the lead of James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, and distance themselves from this type of spiteful and bigoted posturing.