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Doing God's Work Is Better Than Just Mouthing God's Word
May 18, 2012 5:47 PM   Subscribe

The letter of the day at the Savage Love blog tells a story of cruel abandonment, and provokes an outpouring of love in response.
posted by Ipsifendus (48 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
It boggles my mind how so many "christians" just fundamentally missed the point of Christ's message: love they neighbor. I've yet to see a Bible where that is followed by any qualifiers, especially "except if he/she's gay".
posted by Runes at 6:04 PM on May 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


I wish I could picket that poor girl's family.
posted by lumpenprole at 6:06 PM on May 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


That's why they invented that classic oxymoron "Tough Love".

Besides, if it's "God's Work", then you can just leave God to do it.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:07 PM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow. This thread, in conjunction with the thread below it.
posted by Night_owl at 6:08 PM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh hell yes. This poor woman and her miserable sad bastards of a family.

She's feeling down on herself, but as I explained there, her going back into the maw of that family of moral cripples to bring that boy out is like a firefighter going back into a burning building to rescue another person. It was a heroic act.

I don't hate her insane family; I pity them. They are living in a moment-to-moment hell of their own making.
posted by Fnarf at 6:08 PM on May 18, 2012 [30 favorites]


They're angry because they're losing.
posted by R. Schlock at 6:12 PM on May 18, 2012 [29 favorites]


Oh, sure, now Savage is crowdsourcing, just because he's crying and has places to be.
posted by Kakkerlak at 6:22 PM on May 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yet another tale of broken, toxic people and their determination to destroy everything in their path. It's nice to know that that's not the extent of humanity after all, but I'm not sure how many of these stories I can deal with mentally.
posted by bleep at 6:23 PM on May 18, 2012


That woman is a hero plain and simple. I don't know whether one can say she saved her nephew's life or not, but she certainly showed him that there are good people in the world, even in his own family. That she's survived and even thrived apart from her family of monsters has set a positive example for him.

I'm going to go back to Savage's page and send her a message right now.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:25 PM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's really, really understandable that this woman is going through a hard period. Watching her nephew be rejected has to be like watching herself be rejected all over again. Additionally, she has unexpectedly been made a parent at 32, to a 15 year old boy she hasn't seen since he was 5 years old. Presumably, that puts her back in contact with her family, who hates her, in order to arrange care for her nephew. Who wouldn't be freaked the fuck out?

I'm not a huge Dan fan, but in this case I'm pretty sure that what VABC needs is less 200 people telling her she's awesome and more on the ground practical support, two therapists and a lawyer. It would be nice if Dan facilitated that while capitalising on this situation to fill his column inches.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:32 PM on May 18, 2012 [25 favorites]


That's so heartbreaking. It still amazes me when I hear another example of some sick religion that allows people to throw away their own family members.
posted by 2N2222 at 6:40 PM on May 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that what VA Broken Girl needs is less 200 people telling her she's awesome and more on the ground practical support, two therapists and a lawyer. It would be nice if Dan facilitated that...

Fair enough. It would be rude in the extreme to offer someone unwanted help, but Broken Girl has made an open ended request for help and perhaps what she needs most right now really is practical help. Are there MeFites on this thread who live in or near Virginia who could offer her practical assistance? (lawyer, therapist, pastry chef, guy with a moving van...) I feel like a cad suggesting this because I know that I'm not going to be making any practical contribution myself, but if you see a chance to donate your skills and you feel inspired to act I'm sure Dan Savage still has her email address.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:46 PM on May 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


It boggles my mind how so many "christians" just fundamentally missed the point of Christ's message: love they neighbor. I've yet to see a Bible where that is followed by any qualifiers, especially "except if he/she's gay".

I am TIRED of the whole "Jesus gave me a license to hate!" thing. Fucking lame excuses and Jesus would NOT approve, y'all.

I thought the same thing as Dan: thank god for her that she can take this kid in and get him away from those assholes. Thank god the kid has that option.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:25 PM on May 18, 2012


Not being able to offer more practical support, I'm happy to say "hell yes." ...and sadly, sometimes, that's all the Internet can do. Donate locally when you can; live to support such actions everyday.
posted by smirkette at 7:49 PM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a 32 year old woman, a lot of this hit home for me, and my gay dad is as liberal as it gets. I hope this woman is able to express to her nephew how precious he really is.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:50 PM on May 18, 2012


It's not just the "love your neighbor" that Jesus said. If you look at the four Gospels, Jesus encountered people who had committed sexual sins. He was incredibly kind to them, in one case saved someone from execution for adultery, and, while he told them to sin no more, he was very accepting of them as people and refused to utter any public or private condemnation.

The only people that made him rage, that made him get insulting or violent, were the people who were moral hardasses, the people who would preach and pray loudly in public, the people who would twist religion for making money or for the purposes of gaining power and prestige. The people who would use religion to crush any undesirables.

Apparently, these parents have a Bible with only Leviticus and the meaner bits from Paul's epistles. They know nothing of real Christianity and follow a twisted, empty variant that has nothing to do with what Christ taught.
posted by honestcoyote at 7:52 PM on May 18, 2012 [62 favorites]


What honestcoyote said.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:00 PM on May 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


Those parents should be in jail.
posted by angrycat at 8:03 PM on May 18, 2012


I haven't been Christian in many, many years. But when I see people like these, an old question from my Lutheran upbringing never fails to bubble up to the surface.

"Didn't you people ever read the fucking RED words?"
posted by MissySedai at 8:15 PM on May 18, 2012 [31 favorites]


honestcoyote: "Apparently, these parents have a Bible with only Leviticus and the meaner bits from Paul's epistles. They know nothing of real Christianity and follow a twisted, empty variant that has nothing to do with what Christ taught."

One of the big parts they're missing,
The thirteenth chapter of Paul's First letter to the church in Corinth:

If I speak in the languages of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy* and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies*, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy* in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

*The word commonly translated as prophesy does not really have a good modern cognate. To "prophecy" into a person or subject was to gain an understanding of it, rather than see into its future. Thus, for example in a modern context, a good therapist might be expected to have a gift for "prophecing" into the lives of their patients developed from solid instincts with years of academic and clinical training. Not really a magic thing.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:27 PM on May 18, 2012 [20 favorites]


I don't mean this in a rhetorical way, I seriously want an answer: How can people do this? If you love someone, how can you turn it off like a light and cut them out of your life?

Because, if the internet is to be believed, apparently this is a common thing. Apparently there are actually people that do this shit. And I don't get it.

I mean, hell, my parents are super-conservative Christians, and I'm sure they never wished that their son would one day tell them that he's an atheist now, but you know what the fallout was? We've had conversations about it. Every once in a while there's (brace yourself!) some good-natured ribbing. I'm typing this on my laptop, sitting in their house because I'm visiting them for a few weeks in between the end of the semester and my summer internship.

This woman packed her bags before she told them, because she "knew how it was going to end". Well, I was living with my parents when I told them, and it simply did not occur to me to do something like that. I was nervous, but I guess, on some level, I knew it was going to be okay, just like she knew it was going to go pear-shaped.

How does that happen? What is it like to know someone for 22 years, and then know, before you ask, that forced to pick between their precious moral code and you, they won't pick you?

Sorry to turn what should be about someone else into a personal, rambling, rant, but I don't fucking get it.

And I need to understand. Because if I don't understand, and I keep reading stories like this, eventually I'll just write those fuckers off as subhuman, incapable of real love, and I really don't want to be the sort of person that sees other people that way.
posted by jcreigh at 8:31 PM on May 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


I'm not a huge Dan fan, but in this case I'm pretty sure that what VABC needs is less 200 people telling her she's awesome and more on the ground practical support, two therapists and a lawyer. It would be nice if Dan facilitated that while capitalising on this situation to fill his column inches.

DarlingBri, the phrase for what you're doing is "armchair quarterbacking". Dan is offering her love and emotional support, and your response is, "You know what he should have done? He should have done X, Y, and Z!"

Wrong. And arrogant. He should have done what he did, which is more than you have done: he should have reached out to another human being, instead of sitting back at his computer terminal passing idle judgment.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:32 PM on May 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


What she needs/wants is the love and support of a family that many of us take for granted. Random internet strangers can't give her that.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:36 PM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


"...And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’" (Mt 25:40)
posted by jquinby at 8:44 PM on May 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


honestcoyote: "The only people that made him rage, that made him get insulting or violent, were the people who were moral hardasses, the people who would preach and pray loudly in public, the people who would twist religion for making money or for the purposes of gaining power and prestige. The people who would use religion to crush any undesirables."

More than that he does it with a wit and biting dismissive snark that wouldn't be that out of place on metafilter if it wern't for the archaic language bibles are generally translated into,
The 23rd chapter in the Gospel historically thought to be written by St. Matthew:
1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

13 “Woe to you*, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. [14]

15 “Woe to you*, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

16 “Woe to you*, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.

23 “Woe to you*, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

25 “Woe to you*, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

27 “Woe to you*, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

*Now "Woe to you", or ouai in the greek dialect that Matthew was written in, does not mean a pleasant warning of future misfortune. Really, according to the gospel, Jesus is saying FUCK YOU to these folks in no uncertain terms. He is saying that these those who dig through the law (The stuff in the Pentateuch or first five books of the old testament) looking for details they can use to accuse others of being unholy or make themselves seem more holy are actors. Matthew uses a word ὑπόκρισις (hypokrisis), which up until this point had a neutral meaning without a negative connotation, to describe the actions of priests like this, who ignore the heart of the Pentateuch, taking houses from widows, while they make sure to be careful to tithe a tenth of the fruits of their house plants. The way he uses the word hypokrisis, it definitely now has a negative connotation. Jesus calls folks like this painted tombs, a dead rotting corpse whitewashed and dressed up.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:49 PM on May 18, 2012 [27 favorites]


I think maybe there is a god, because he put her here on earth for that boy.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:02 PM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wish I could picket that poor girl's family.

I bet they think we have a bunch of signs in storage that say 'Fags Hate God!' that are ready for us to trot out on such occasions.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:04 PM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


To be disowned must be truly heartbreaking. But, what this woman did is heroic. She had the courage to come out and be true to herself despite deeply embedded family traditions and religious values.

She was also able to create a family consisting of people that loved her and supported her for who she was; she proved that she could create something even if her family didn't stand by her side to support her.

Then, she decided to face her family (which generally speaking isn't something that most people would want to do based on her circumstances) in order to make sure that her nephew had a safe place to live.

That speaks volumes more than hundreds of pages from a religious text ever could for this woman's family members. This woman is a hero. It proves that you don't have to be religious to be a kind person and that people can be mean while still being religious.
posted by livinglearning at 9:12 PM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Gosh, this brought back memories. Here was my comment to her:

Man. The "brokenness" you describe - the pain, disbelief and confusion - feels so viscerally familiar to me.

You and I are just about the same age. (I'm a 31-year-old gay man.) For me, the coming-out-and-rejection happened about five years ago, not ten. At the time, I wrote a similar letter in a different online forum, asking any fellow-travelers to help me find perspective. Give me a poem or a speech or a song or something, I said. I couldn't understand the emotional violence of my family's reaction; it was as though they had become different people.

The loneliness and disappointment I felt, I said, was wrenching. I stood on the front porch of my own house and listened to a woman who had once been my tender and loving mother spit a word at me, into the open air, loud enough for all my neighbors to hear - "Pervert." How could she hate me with so much passion? When I think about it, that's pretty much exactly the question that tormented me.

My story has a different ending, though. After that night, I didn't see my mother again for three years. But when I did, she cried and asked for my forgiveness. These days, we talk every Sunday. She asks about my boyfriend and our cats; sends gifts for him. We don't really talk about the woman on the porch that night, but I've had to find a way of explaining to myself where that woman came from.

After that night, I found myself really trying to put myself in my family's shoes, trying to figure out what they might be feeling, and what might prompt them to such a distressing, hateful reaction. Like you, I had an evangelical Christian education - first through twelfth grade. (I went to a secular college, which made accepting my own sexuality a bit easier.) As I turned over my family's reaction in my mind, I kept coming back to the stories of Christ and the demons in the New Testament. I think my family felt that they had more-or-less discovered a demon inhabiting the son they thought they knew. They were able to express that hatred because in their minds, it wasn't hatred for me, it was hatred for the demon.

It was the mirror image of how I was reacting to them. Just the way I no longer recognized the woman shouting slurs at me on my front porch, they no longer recognized me. It was that feeling - the sense I had that in their minds the real me had been kidnapped and replaced with something vile and self-destructive - that was so discomfiting and painful to me. Believe me, I knew that I was perfectly fine with myself and in control of myself. But they didn't know that, and they genuinely hated what they thought I had become.

I [oddly] began to feel better when I realized that it wasn't just the hatred they expressed that was so messed up. It was that, in their minds, that hatred was actually love. They thought they were expressing love for me and hatred for the thing consuming me.

Anyone who's ever been in a serious relationship that went sour knows how thin the line between love and hate can actually be. I think it's facile to say that true love never looks like hatred. But I do believe that true empathy and support never looks like hatred. I love my family deeply. And when I thought I saw something vile and ruinous in them, I took a higher road than they did - I tried to understand it. And I have no idea if this will help you the way it helped me, but it really did become a source of comfort. I could reconcile the hateful woman on my porch with the loving person I'd known all my life; I could accept that these two beings were one and the same, and I could forgive her.

I've always loved the Prayer of St. Francis, which says, "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy. O divine master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console. To be understood as to understand. To be loved as to love."

I love this prayer because even if you don't believe in any god at all, you can recognize the prayer as actually being an exhortation to oneself - a reminder that the best of us don't return hatred with hatred, but that we strive for a better path. Which brings me to the other way your story differs from mine.

I was pretty happy with myself for having the strength and character not to one-up my family's hatred. But I cannot imagine the fortitude you must have to not only deal with their vitriol, but to provide a foundation of love and assurance and protection for someone much more vulnerable. That is amazing. The love you have shown your nephew is the best possible example there can be of a person meeting St. Francis' ideal, turning hatred into love, darkness into light, sadness into joy.

If any piece of this resonates with you, this might help to salve that brokenness just a bit: you are no demon. You are an angel.

You are an angel.

You are an angel.

You are loved.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 9:55 PM on May 18, 2012 [46 favorites]


Those parents should be in jail.

I actually feel a tremendous amount of compassion for this kids parents and siblings and really for most of the family. Particularly the mother. If you step back and think about it she is part of a large family, a daughter to two conservative parents, sister to 12 conservative siblings and married to a conservative man with lots of children. She saw what happened to her sister when she came out. She is trapped. They are probably all of her social circle, at least they are a very large part and I doubt she has the financial resources or knowledge of the world to walk away without a great deal of pressure and threats, fear and loss. In those kinds of families the women have no power at all. And one day she wakes up and is in a situation where she had to give her up her son because he said he was gay. I think reaching out to her sister was an act to protect her son as best she was felt she could. Obviously none of them are strong people and they are swayed by their religion and strict parents and their rigid community but this is still an awful situation for the immediate family to be in. I truly hope that over time this boys parents get the courage to buck their community and try to rebuild a relationship with their son. I am very hopeful that some of his siblings and cousins will do this as they become independent. What an incredibly traumatic thing for the younger siblings and cousins to watch- your own brother being banished for breaking the rules, the kids will not be able to trust their family again and everyone will suffer.

I hope the nephew is fucking thrilled to be sprung from the God Squad and in the care of a young hip aunt and her circle of liberal friends!
posted by fshgrl at 10:18 PM on May 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


grrarrgh00, just chiming in to thank you for that. I think I've never quite understood how people could do that, but your thoughts really clarify.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:44 PM on May 18, 2012


Sometimes it really is in how you look at it. Looked at one way, she and her nephew were cruelly abandoned. Looked at another, they were freed from a hideous prison. Perhaps it is not so cruel after all to be driven from a life that would have eventually, inevitably, murdered your spirit.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:11 AM on May 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think I might go link that letter for the redditor who just told me I'm as bad and intolerant as a fundie for criticising religion.
posted by Decani at 4:47 AM on May 19, 2012


"Shoot one, scare a thousand."

Ugh. Tragic.
posted by effugas at 5:22 AM on May 19, 2012


The epoch of Christianity's origin was deeply homophobic. Christian gospels that didn't make it into the NT have Jesus rhetorically lumping gay people in with those who commit child sacrifice and wife murder. Condemnation of queer men is as Christian as wine and crucifixion.

Religious homophobia is awful, and sadly it's also inimical. If you oppose it you should dispense with "no true Christian" arguments. People who think their god hates fags are absolutely right.
posted by clarknova at 5:41 AM on May 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


er, intrinsic, rather. one should eventually sleep before dawn on friday nights
posted by clarknova at 5:46 AM on May 19, 2012


saturday.
posted by clarknova at 5:47 AM on May 19, 2012


Christian gospels that didn't make it into the NT have Jesus rhetorically lumping gay people in with those who commit child sacrifice and wife murder.

I get what you're trying to say, but there are no Christian gospels that are not in the New Testament, in any orthodox variant of Christianity that I am aware of.

People who think their god hates fags are absolutely right.

Please don't do this. Christianity is not going anywhere, and neither are gay people, and defining Christianity by the worst beliefs of the most intolerant Christians makes it harder, not easier, for those of us who are trying to live together in peace.
posted by gauche at 6:24 AM on May 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


gauche, what do you mean? There are known to be several Gospels that were not included in the NT, most notably the Gospel of Thomas and of Judas.

Also see the Council of Nicaea.

WRT the original thread, I am flabbergasted and speechless.
posted by daHIFI at 6:51 AM on May 19, 2012


She is showing more innate human goodness than her whole family combined. I hope she feels the outpouring of love that she's receiving and receives the support she needs with her nephew.
posted by arcticseal at 7:05 AM on May 19, 2012


I am a loudmouth anti-theist and I have to say that this woman's family, if they didn't have religion, would find some other way to hate her and her nephew and anyone else who is different from themselves. I mean, religion makes it easy and acceptable, but there are plenty of non-religious folks who still get off on their gay-hate because it's "anti-family" or "anti-American" or whatever. They don't even get the benefit of fooling themselves into thinking that they love the person but hate "the sin". American society (and I'm only qualifying it because it's the only society I really know) loves to hate people who aren't like themselves and has put into place several systems to facilitate this, with only one of them being religion. This brand of Christianity just happens to be the most vile and despicable one of them because it's such a farce and such a violation of what the religion supposedly stands for. This country sickens me at the things it does in the name of God, family, and patriotism. The good news is, there is evidence that this kind of crap is slowly but surely (and literally) dying out. It's tempting to feel that the doubling down in recent years is just raging against the dying of the light. It's a small comfort, but time is on our side, and these things don't have the momentum they used to. It won't be in my lifetime, but eventually people will look back on these years the way we look back on, man, I can't think of any group we have as much disgust for as I think folks will eventually have for us.
posted by Legomancer at 7:16 AM on May 19, 2012


Certainly there exist other gospels, but they are not Christian: that is to say, Christians do not accept them as scripture. They are non-canonical: whatever authority an orthodox Christian attributes to scripture, they specifically do not ascribe that authority to other texts, even texts which happen to have been written at or around the same time or which deal with similar or even the same events. They no more inform the teaching of the Church than does Herodotus.

And yes, that thread has me verklempt. That lesbian aunt is doing God's work in a way that her family is too blinded by fear and hate to even see.
posted by gauche at 7:19 AM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Legomancer, I go to church every week and I agree with practically everything you just said.
posted by gauche at 7:43 AM on May 19, 2012


gauche: "Christian gospels that didn't make it into the NT have Jesus rhetorically lumping gay people in with those who commit child sacrifice and wife murder."

As much as I love the Gospels of Judas and Thomas for the insight they give into the early church, the Council of Nicaea didn't actually do that bad of a job in assembling the cannon. I am constantly amazed to see both Christians and non-Christians give dismiss the written accounts of folks who knew and were around folks who knew Jesus in favor of accounts written more than a hundred years later.

The third century coptic manuscript that we have was probably translated from an original in Greek written around 150 CE. The words used to describe homosexuality, nnrefnkokte mn zoout, are pretty unambiguous about it. n- indicates the object of the verb, and that the prefix ref- adds the sense “one who” to the word nkokt, which broadly means “a sleep” or “to sleep” (or “lie down”), and in the form nnkokt, “place of lying” or “couch,” which includes the sense of “sexual cohabitation.” Finally, mn is the preposition “with” and zoout is “men.” It is in the middle of a polemic against the priests of the temple of Jerusalem, and is again written long after there were any, attacking them for a variety of absurd sins from child sacrifice to murdering their wives.

While the Gospel of Judas is fantastically interesting, to say that it could possibly be an accurate representation of the feelings of Jesus, or the earliest forms of Christian orthodoxy, is beyond absurd.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:27 AM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whoops, I should be more careful with the automatic quote button greasemonkey script, the fragment I quoted above is from clarknova rather than gauche.

Sorry about that
posted by Blasdelb at 9:10 AM on May 19, 2012


I think I might go link that letter for the redditor who just told me I'm as bad and intolerant as a fundie for criticising religion.

No kidding. I often think of this sort of thing when I hear the "angry/militant atheists" trope -- as if there are a whole lot of kids getting kicked out of the family house at 15 for offending Carl Sagan.
posted by vorfeed at 12:06 PM on May 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's neat how people manipulate their gods to believe whatever they want them too, and by neat I mean completely ridiculous.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:43 PM on May 19, 2012


"Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child."
- Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough for Love
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:45 PM on May 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


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