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On another Christian forum, in a discussion about the lack of morals in the modern world (“morals” in this case being explicitly referred to as “Christian values”), I observed “At one point the Christian message swept the Mediterranean world, then on into Europe, North Africa, and Asia Minor. Now it’s being weighed and found wanting by contemporary societies. Why is that? Has contemporary society changed all that much from the ancient & medieval worlds? Or have we as stewards of the Word gone adrift, and what we present to the world is not what Christ taught?”
The response I got — and from someone who considered this to be a good thing — was: “What was no doubt keeping the reprobate in check before was militant social ostracism and good old fashioned Puritan derision.”
In other words, judgmentalism & tyranny.
I don’t find Christ talking about that too often.
Well, actually, he does talk about them quite a bit.
But he has nothing good to say about either.
Look, ancient Rome had a plethora of various religions to choose from. Christianity caught on because it offered something that other religions didn’t: A world view free of fear and hate and selfishness. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” – John 13:35 KJV.
Don’t see much room for militant social ostracism and
good old fashioned Puritan derision in there, do you?
Let’s look at a perfect social laboratory to test out two competing worldviews:
“Militant social ostracism & good old fashioned Puritan derision” vs. unconditional acceptance.
Drunkenness has been a problem for at least as long as humans have been keeping records, probably a whole lot longer. In the 19th century a group of Christian women formed an organization called the Women’s Christian Temperance Union with the wholly logical & admirable goal of curbing the destructive influence of alcohol in this country. They launched a three pronged attack: Persuade people to stop drinking (abstinence pledges), persuade governments to outlaw the sale & consumption of alcohol (prohibition), and the hands on destruction of businesses that made or sold alcohol (terrorism).
In the 1920s they finally succeeded in getting Congress to pass and the prerequisite number of states to ratify the 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Prohibition became the law –
– and the country promptly went to hell in a handbasket and has never recovered.
One can not dry out drunks by legislative fiat: They want their booze and they will get it. Rum runners soon sprang into business, bribing the very same authorities who had passed the law against alcohol sales to look the other way while they raked in millions.
Of course, with no legal controls on alcohol, the rum runners ended up policing themselves, and the streets of America ran red and even tiny rural towns saw sharp upticks in violence.
America finally wised up and ditched prohibition, but the damage was done and it has been permanent. We are still using prohibition today against drugs — throwing more people behind bars than any other nation on Earth & allowing investors to make money off of this by running private for-profit prisons. We have rampant political corruption extending not just from the drug trade but seeping into big business, politics, and the judicial system.
And people still drink…
And people still use drugs…
And the wicked make more and more money…
All because a group of sincere, well-intentioned Christians gave them the keys to the kingdom.
There’s another group with Christian roots that took an entirely different approach to alcohol abuse.
They sought no laws.
They smashed no saloons.
They demanded nothing of anyone.
They offered — free and unencumbered, open and available to all who asked — the only thing they could offer: Camaraderie in the face of the daily struggle against alcoholism.
They didn’t look for fame or power or money: They shun it to this day.
They just open their doors and welcome anyone who will come.
They don’t judge others for who they are, where they came from, or what they did.
All they do is try to help them get through one more day without drinking.
Their organization is based on the teachings of Christ.
But they never mention him by name.
They don’t require anyone to believe in anyone or anything other than some “higher power” that is stronger than they are, and that can help them get through the day without resorting to alcohol.
They judge not.
And they save lives.
They’re Alcoholics Anonymous and they are the single most effective group in combating drunkenness that the planet has ever seen.
And they do it one day at a time.
One drunk at a time.
“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.” — Pope Francis I
Here’s the scenario:
You are camping out in the wild when you are awakened in the middle of the night by something very large sniffing around your tent flap, growling with hunger.
What to do?
If you’re out in the middle of the African veldt,
you’ve got a lion to deal with.
If you’re in Yellowstone, you’ve got a grizzly bear.
With a lion, you are going to have a confrontation,
because the lion is a carnivore and you are meat.
…with the grizzly you’ve got a chance of distracting him by tossing a can of Pringles out the tent flap. See, the bear is an omnivore, and what he wants is food, the exact kind he ain’t particular about.
So what has this got to do with the story of Sodom?
Lot knew exactly who he was dealing with; he lived in Sodom, he interacted with them on a daily basis, his daughters were engaged to be married to Sodomites, he had no qualms about going out and talking to the Sodomites face to face.
If the would-be rapists of Sodom were fueled purely by homosexual lust, there was nothing Lot could possibly gain by offering his daughters to them; the rapists simply wouldn’t be interested if their drive was sexual attraction.
But rape is not about sex, it is about power. The rapists of Sodom wanted to wield power over the men under Lot’s roof, to shame and humiliate them, to show them who was boss.
Lot knew these men, both culturally and doubtlessly personally. Clearly he understood them to be either heterosexual oriented or as we would use the term today, bisexual. Again, if satisfaction of sexual desire was the objective, offering women in the place of the men under Lot’s roof would have done the trick.
Think not? Well, apparently the practice of heterosexual male gang rape was not unheard of in that neck of the desert. In Judges 9 thru 11 we’re given the story of The Levite And His Concubine which pretty much parallels the story of Lot and Sodom: Stranger in town gets surrounded by rapacious male citizens, a female substitute is offered.
Unlike the story of Lot in Sodom, in the story of The Levite Etc. the rapists are fellow Israelites from the tribe of Benjamin in the town of Gibeah and they accept the offer of the concubine in question. After being brutalized all night, the woman makes her way back to the place where her husband the Levite was staying and collapses on the doorstep dead, nearly dead, or catatonic from shock.
So were the citizens of Sodom and Gibeah bisexuals driven by lust?
Again, the crime — or in this case the atrocity — of rape is only tangentially related to sexual desire. Rape is a crime of control and power: It is the stronger forcing the weaker to submit to the demands of the rapist. This is why statutory rape is treated as seriously as forcible rape: Certain relationships (adult and child, mentor and pupil, doctor and patient, etc.) by their very nature are not mutual arrangement between equals, and the stronger taking advantage of the weaker through guile or guilt is just as much a rapist as the thug with a knife.
So how common is male-on-male heterosexual rape?
It occurs in all settings and situations. Prisons are notorious for rape, but what is most shocking are the number of times it is the guards abusing the prisoners (especially if the guards are military and the prisoners civilians). Male heterosexual assaults occur in barracks, during frat house initiations, in high school locker rooms, at boy scout jamborees, at sleepovers. As noted, it has nothing to do with sex, it has everything to do with power and dominance achieved via fear and shame.
It is misplaced pride and arrogance, a belief one is entitled to have what one wants simply because one wants it and that everyone should kowtow and acknowledge this.
It’s an attitude that really takes root and festers when coupled with cultural privilege.
Ezekiel 16: 47-50 has the prophet laying out God’s case against Sodom:
“’You not only followed their ways and copied their detestable practices, but in all your ways you soon became more depraved than they. As surely as I live,’ declares the Sovereign Lord, ‘your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done. Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.’”
Not a lot of concern about proper sexual orientation in there, hmm? Much more about treating others with kindness and compassion, being generous and helpful, and not dominating and terrorizing others.
In fact, in light of scripture it would seem that if any group deserves to be singled out for special contempt because of their orientation, it would be privileged heterosexual males…
 Tho he may have had more than two daughters and the ones in his house were the unmarried ones.
 Had Lot himself been subjected to such shame and humiliation? Possibly. In Genesis 14 he and his family were captured by the army of Kedorlaomer and his allies after the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah rebelled, and had to be rescued by Abram. After the successful rescue and recovery of Sodom’s stolen loot, the king of Sodom told Abram to keep the goods but return the people who had been captured. Interesting that they viewed them as chattel to be bartered away, not as individuals with their own right to freedom; more interesting still is that the desire to dominate and rule over people was more important to the king of Sodom than the valuable property that had been stolen.
 Then things get really weird. We should hope she was dead before the Levite chopped her up and shipped her body parts off to the other tribes of Israel. Next there follows battles and bloodshed, and God lying to the Israelites, and a massacre (including women and children) of the Benjaminites then another massacre (including women and children) of the slackers who wouldn’t participate in the first massacre, followed by a whole buncha slavery and kidnappings and even more rape. Considering that the story kicks off with the unnamed concubine fleeing her husband / owner and returning to her father for sanctuary and what hubby did next to save his own derriere, I think we can all agree the anonymous Levite must’ve been a real s4!t. His host should have simply booted him into the town square with a tub of butter in his hand; that would have saved thousands of lives in the long run.
 This is markedly different where a couple by mutual consent agree to let one partner be the dominant one and the other the passive one in their relationship. For one thing, in such relationships it’s the bottom and not the top that’s in control; the fun stops forever the instant the bottom no longer wants to play.
 That’s not necessarily a joke. Christ taught that God would use the seemingly worthless as His cornerstone, and Christ’s own genealogy includes only five females: A fake hooker, a real hooker, the descendant of an incestuous relationship, an adulteress, and a teen mother who had a child that was not her husband’s. Maybe God incarnating Himself in male human form was His way of showing that He could work miracles with the most unpromising material of all.
“The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.” – Soren Kierkegaard, Provocations
(Found at Plough Publishing)
I was only able to attend Saturday this year, but what I saw makes me look forward to future WonderCons in Anaheim (the show had previously been held in San Francisco). It had the feel of San Diego Comic Con back in the 1990s (i.e., after it moved from the old convention center but just before it started becoming the media monster it is today).
Many more photos after jump…
To know just how he suffered would be dear;
To know if any human eyes were near
To whom he could intrust his wavering gaze,
Until it settled firm on Paradise.
To know if he was patient, part content,
Was dying as he thought, or different;
Was it a pleasant day to die,
And did the sunshine face his way?
What was his furthest mind, of home, or God,
Or what the distant say
At news that he ceased human nature
On such a day?
And wishes, had he any?
Just his sigh, accented,
Had been legible to me.
And was he confident until
Ill fluttered out in everlasting well?
And if he spoke, what name was best,
What one broke off with
At the drowsiest?
Was he afraid, or tranquil?
Might he know
How conscious consciousness could grow,
Till love that was, and love too blest to be,
Meet — and the junction be Eternity?