Posted by: twobigyellowcranes | 12 June 08

The Greeks invented it you know

There has been a real storm about homsexuality here in Northern Ireland over the last week or so. It started with a horrific homophobic beating of a gay guy in North Belfast, which resulted in him ending up in hospital for a few days. Iris Robinson MP publicly condemned the attack, before going on to denounce homosexuality as an “abomination”. She has said things like this before so that in of itself probably wouldn’t have made quite as many headlines as it did, if not for the timing of the statement (just after the beating of the guy referred to above and just as her husband replaced Ian Paisley as First Minister of our local assembly), but because she then went on to talk about a local Christian psychiatrist she knew who could help gay people “turn away” from their lifestyle.

I am a Christian and the whole subject of homosexuality troubles me greatly. I believe that God has intended sexual relations to be between a husband and wife and not for outside of the union of marriage, which would include homosexuality. Yet, the vast majority of people outside of my faith (or some other religious faiths) now accept men and women “living together” and, increasingly, homosexual relationships. The challenge to me is to try to be faithful to what I believe, but not offend others or enforce unwanted views upon them, which is something Iris Robinson doesn’t seem to ever worry about.

I am a Christian because I am a sinner. I sin in thought, deed and word daily, even though I know and accept that Christ died because of my sins. My sins are no less an abomination to God than the sins of a homosexual man or woman. When we try to grade sins, we run the risk of becoming the hypocrites that Jesus condemned in the New Testament – we are saying “our sins are triffling compared to yours – you better sort yours out pronto”. God accepted me as I was nearly 20 years and is still trying to change me and my desires, despite the battle that I continue to put up. He is still trying to change Iris (please try harder Lord) and maybe he could work to soften her heart so that she can see that comments of this nature could only have caused more hurt to the man injured in the horrific attack when also, in some way at least, being seen to justify the actions of the attackers. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is bullshit in practice and up there with “I’m praying for you” in terms of unhelpful things Christians say.

I know the doctor Iris referred to and he is a loving, kindly, Godly man. I don’t know enough to start commenting on whether people are truly “born gay” or not, but I do know from hearing/reading first hand testimony that this man has helped troubled homosexual people who have sought out his help. I am very fearful that the publicity that all of this may have brought upon him will confuse people as to either or both his work and his sense of calling to try to help people who desperately want to be different to who they are. I know how that feels and I am sure all of you who are Christians do too. Maybe we could all try to remember that before we speak about others.

PS Bonus point for referencing the title of the post above.



  1. my big fat greek wedding.

    this post is a good example why religion, dogma and ‘faith’ is a negative thing. You think gay is wrong because the bible tells you so.. riiiiiight. i think man u fans are going to hell becuase my ‘good book’ tells me so.

    i do like it when people ‘fess up to these sort of views, it highlights my points quite well. (with respect)

  2. With respect, I’m sure people will still be reading your blog in 2,000 years time…

    How can faith be a bad thing simply because it leads me to conclude that something is wrong? I am fully supportive of peoples’ rights to lead the lives that they want to lead provided it doesn’t impact on others. I’m not condemning what they are doing as anything worse than things that I do, but simply stating what I believe the Bible says on the subject (because of the current focus on the issue here). Are you saying simply expressing any sort of belief system is wrong or just a religious belief system?

    PS No bonus point for you. If it helps, try putting “greeks invented gayness” in youtube.

  3. well… i think the whole idea of ‘sin’ is nonsense. so i realize we’re on two different paradigms.

    The bible tells you (you think) that gays are sinners and should be put to death.. the koran say (some thing) that jihad is good and you’ll go to heaven etc etc.. this is my point re: dogma

  4. ‘faith’ is bad when it leads to the suspension of your own rational judgment… when it endorses ideas like ‘lean not on your own understanding’ or ‘dont put the lord thy go to the test’

  5. A couple of things:

    1. I should have asked who would be reading ‘our’ blogs in 2,000 years, not just yours.

    2. I take your point re dogma, but not re faith. The OT may say that sinners should be stoned to death, but the teaching of Jesus tells us that only those of us who are without sin should cast the stones i.e. no-one. All of us should be separated from the love of God because of our sin – it is only the grace of God that means that we aren’t. What I am advocating is being true to what you believe, but not coming out with statements like Iris Robinson which can only cause anger and hurt (quite rightly).

    3. I don’t accept that to believe in a supreme spiritual power equals a suspension of your own rational judgment. I see no conflict between the two – the difference so far as I can see it between you and I is that we both reach a certain point at which our rational judgments hit a brick wall. At that point you may say “I don’t know because I can’t prove it” whereas I would say “I believe I can know, not because I can prove it but because the Bible helps me understand the point”.

  6. “I believe I can know, not because I can prove it but because the Bible helps me understand the point”.

    when the gay Greeks saw the sun rising in the morning.. they hit a rational brick wall… so they decided it was a sun god. Maybe this was a good algebreic insertion and maybe it helped…. but if someone started saying that the Sun god was telling them they shouldnt eat certian meat and that Apollo worshipers should be stoned… then i’m going for ‘bad thing’

    You talk of sin like its a given – and i increasingly thing this is the route of a lot (not all) of problems in the world. Not sin.. but belief in sin.

  7. Thats all fine, but who other than you is talking about my belief leading on to the stoning of people??? I think most Christians that I know have moved on from your analogy with the gay Greek sun worshippers.

    I’m not asking you to believe in sin (that is your choice), but surely I am entitled to believe in it. You believe that belief in sin is the route of a lot of problems in the world, and I’ll believe that man’s selfishness, rebellion and (yes) sin are.

  8. why are you not asking me to believe in sin?

    do you not think its important?

    people are liek they are for a number of reasons.. mostly to do with their circumstances and upbrining… i think its very unhealthy to think of a baby being born with a ‘badness’ inside it which it needs to purge and be redeemed

  9. I’m not asking you to believe in sin, because as I understand it, your rational thought process has already considered the matter and reached a conclusion. I respect that enough to leave the matter closed until you should decide otherwise.

    In the meantime, I will continue to speak to those friends that I have and who have yet set aside the time to properly consider the matter and try to convince them what I believe is true. Because whilst I believe it is of the utmost importance, we will all account for our own decisions, not those of others.

    We’ll both no doubt continue to post what we believe in our respective blogs when we consider it appropriate/topical and continue to engage in debate and I am very happy about that. However, I am content that it is God’s argument to win with you, not mine.

    PS The whole idea of purging badness is wrong – where is the purging coming from? Is my daughter saying sorry whenever she hits me and my accepting the apology her being purged? If I tell her what she did was wrong and ask her not to do it again, is that her being purged?

  10. PS I’m leaving in 15 mins for a stag weekend, so if there is no response to any further comment you may make until after the weekend, excuse me (I’m not sure what the wi-fi availability in the hostel in Ballintoy is like…)

  11. have a good weekend. …. sending you off with a bit of blog commenting!! always nice (perhaps)

  12. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding. I haven’t concluded anything!…. I simply make working assumptions until proved otherwise. I listen intently to debates, I aim to put my view across but I also try to listen to other views… if they make more sense then I jump ship quicker than you can say hallelujah.

    Also I think ones own views are honed and tuned by listening to the best arguments against your position. It’s our duty at members of society to contribute to the ‘conversation’ going on in the world, and to try to respectfully and humbly convince others (and be convinced ourselves)

    Are you not the same? If you come across a better more sensible world view will you not jump ship? If you revisited the argument which first made you believe and decided it was weaker in retrospect, would you not move on?

    Debate, and the advancement of ideas is what we humans do to better our society. Don’t shy from it, don’t stop trying to convinve me… but listen to my resposes and try to understand WHY it doesnt convince me.. and in that maybe we will both learn.

    It seems I’m swayed by good arguments, you are swayed by good interpretations and clever academic readings of the Bible. Your approach is great – as long as the bible is 100% reliable… if it was 100% reliable then you wouldn’t need faith. I humbly submit.

    that kind of faith = bad. faith that the bible is the direct word of god, leads to this post about homosexuality.

  13. TBYC, Good post and debate. I was going to post about this subject but I’m glad you beat me to it – you put it much better than I could.

    QM, I enjoy reading your debating and agree with what you say about the value in challenging/debating with each other.

    I’m interested in your suggestion that sin doesn’t exist and given that you say you’re swayed by good arguments, I’d be interested to hear the argument that swayed you this way.

    I find it quite incomprehensible to deny the fact of sin in the world. For me the state of our human condition and of the world in which we live is perfectly explained by existence of a perfect good God and by man who has chosen to turn away from Him. If there is no ‘sin’, what is good and what is evil and who decides which is which? How do you decide between right and wrong? Surely it has to be more than a gut feeling or a personal decision or even a group of people in a society deciding for themselves?

    I’m swayed by what the Bible says, not because I believe 100% in it’s reliability, not only because it makes good logical sense to me but also because it rings true with what I feel in my ‘heart’ and what I’ve experienced in my life.

    I guess what you believe about sin will depend on what whether you believe in a supreme creator God. As I do, it seems obvious that he has and deserves total authority in this universe – what He says goes. If we go against that – I understand that as sin.

    Going back to homosexuality, setting aside what the Bible says about it and without getting into any detail, it seems obvious to me that our bodies are designed for homosexual relations. Of course there are many things that I believe our bodies were not designed for including over eating (of which I am often guilty), destroying our organs with excess alcohol, drugs or cigarrette smoke. All of these things have their consequences and some more than others.

    The Bible makes it clear that God (who if he created us, knows what is best for us) intended sex to be between one man and one woman in the exclusive and loving relationship we call marriage. Anything less than that, whether it’s practicing homosexuality, heterosexual sex outside of marriage or internet porn etc falls into the same ‘category’ of sin. And ALL sin whether sexual or not is an abomination to God.

    I thank God for his grace and forgiveness!

  14. Sorry I left out a rather important ‘not’ in my last comment: should have read: ‘it seems obvious to me that our bodies are NOT designed for homosexual relations’

  15. QM, bring on the debate my friend. I have changed as a person over the years (I am now worryingly liberal in some areas) and this is largely as a result of (1) thinking and reading about things myself and (2) engaging and listening to others. I agree that they are essential.

    I am heavily involved with Christianity Explored courses run in my church because they give people the chance to say “well, why do you believe that”, “have you ever thought of this” and, heaven forbid “you’re talking nonsense man”. Times have changed and people want to be heard as well as hear. This blog (when on serious issues) says what I believe, but I see the comments as a jump point to a respectful, engaging and always oh-so-polite dialogue.

    The point I was trying to make was not that I don’t want to convince you, but rather I don’t need to. On a purely selfish level, there is nothing in it for me (as there is nothing in it for you if I “de-convert”.) Even though I don’t think we have ever met, I would love to see you return to what I see from posts on your own blogs you once believed for your own sake, but faith is not all reasoned out head knowledge. I have changed my political positions on subjects over the years and even refined some of the finer points of my faith, but no argument is going to lead to me disregarding the relationship that I know that I have enjoyed with God for better or for worse over most of my life.

    I’m a fairly smart guy, but my debating will never convince anyone to put their faith in a criminal executed about 2,000 years ago. Only he can and I believe it sometimes better to pray for someone than debate with them (but not to the exclusion of the latter).

    KBE, thanks for joining in and clarifying that rather important point! Great to see you over the weekend and speak to you in person – you missed a lot of bad dancing and inappropriate touching on Saturday night. I’ll be in touch re that potential BBQ for my birthday shortly.

  16. >> I’m interested in your suggestion that sin doesn’t exist and given that you say you’re swayed by good arguments, I’d be interested to hear the argument that swayed you this way.

    We all start from a position non knowledge… I didn’t start from a position of thinking that a force called sin existed then hear arguments that swayed me against it. Give me any evidence for sin and i’ll assess it.

    >> I guess what you believe about sin will depend on what whether you believe in a supreme creator God.

    Well exactly. If you suddenly decided that you weren’t so sure about the whole jesus stuff, you mightn’t be so sure about the sin stuff too.

    >> I find it quite incomprehensible to deny the fact of sin in the world.
    Christians say this quite a lot, CH Chesterton says this … I haven’t heard him or anyone though give a good answer to the question…” uhhh why? You honestly think its incomprehensible to deny a magic invisible force controlling our actions and making us do bad things?” I think theres a little bit of ‘protesting too much’ there.

    People do bad stuff… people do good stuff… but its society which decides what is allowable to keep the society function… there are basics about killing and stealing but some societies decide that say capital punishment is ok, some don’t etc et
    some things which were considered good 100 years ago are considered bad now and visa versa. I find it inconceivable to think that all morals and ethics are black and white sin/non sin, now and for all time.

    >>> For me the state of our human condition and of the world in which we live is perfectly explained by existence of a perfect good God and by man who has chosen to turn away from Him.

    I never deny that the glove fits the hand… I’m just saying that man created the glove to fit the hand.

    As for the gay stuff… I think this is an issue for another Christians to argue with you, I guess its probably only gay christians who care. If I don’t even accept there is such a thing as sin, im thinking im never gonna be listened to on this one.


  18. Hmmmmm, just to point out that the main point of my original post was to point out how unhelpful and in many ways un-Christian I felt Iris Robinson’s orginal comments were. That’s kind of getting lost in here.

    “i think she’s mental to live her life in line with an ancient text”. The voice of a man open to all sides of a debate…

  19. >>>“i think she’s mental to live her life in line with an ancient text”. The voice of a man open to all sides of a debate…

    fair point 🙂

  20. “As for the gay stuff…I think this is an issue for another Christian to argue with you..”

    TBYC while I’m reluctant to enter this fray, I strongly believe we (Christians) need to listen to those among our faith communities who are gay.

    I’m actually surprised at your confidence that this is still a black and white ‘sin’ issue.

    I too worry that I am ‘worringly liberal’ but this is one issue that I have read about, spoken to friends about, lost sleep about.

    If you can accept women teaching, speaking in churches blah de blah, can cultural shifts and ‘enlightenment’ not allow for prominent gay people within our churches?

  21. Lily, thanks for entering the fray – its good for us to think about we believe, be questioned and respond, be that by those who share our faith or those who don’t. The key thing from my perspective is to acknowledge that on issues like this, we can disagree and still be united under Christ.

    This is a very, very difficult issue and I myself have really been challenged over it. I certainly wouldn’t say that I am ‘confident’ as to how we should deal with the issue. I fully accept that we need to listen to those who are gay, again inside and outside of our faith, with respect and understanding.

    However, I cannot accept that practising homosexuality is anything other than outside of what God intended for us. Cultural shifts may say that homosexuality is acceptable in our society, but I don’t believe that there is any leeway for us to stay faithful to the word of God and hold a different view than that. (I’m glad you put the word ‘enlightenment’ in speech marks!)

    In that sense, I agree with Iris Robinson. In every other sense, I would like to distance myself from what she said. Homosexuality is no more of an abomination that any other sexual sin (or indeed sin in general) and the evangelical church often fails to grasp this. We need to speak to people, thoughtfully explain our views on the purity of the sexual relations God intended for us and hear their response. This is not an easy issue, but then name one area of sin that is.

    Happy to discuss further and thanks again for contributing – I appreciate it.

  22. As an add-on, Radio 4’s “Thought for the Day” this morning was an Anglican vicar, putting forward his support for gay marriage by looking at his church’s stated view on the purposes of the institution itself. It was compassionate, caring, inclusive and all without a single reference to what the Bible might say on the subject.

  23. Would you understand the offense and hurt a little more if I told you that I knew a really nice psychologist who could lovingly work with you and help you realize that your support of Man U is actually sinful, in in fact my nice loving psychologist could help you realize that your religious faith is a mental illness. Don’t worry, there will be nice cups of coffee and gentle laughter as she and you work though together how your lifestyle if offensive and wrong. She hates Man U not the Man U supporter … you’re simply a victim of our permissive society and your upbringing – we love you.

  24. No, that wouldn’t help me understand it a little more. In my first post, I have referred to the hurt that Iris Robinson’s comments must have caused so I don’t feel I need to understand them anymore. I also said that “hate the sin, love the sinner” is bullshit in practice, so your suggestion that I subscribe to it is pretty far off the mark.

    I am not “preaching” to the masses that I think homosexuals need to be “cured”. What I am saying is that I think sex outside of marriage is wrong from the biblical perspective that I subscribe to. If someone chose to talk me about any struggles they were having in this area, then I would have no hesitation in suggesting to them that help may be available, contrary to what “the tolerant” may be telling them i.e. don’t try to change anything in your life that you aren’t happy about. If someone is happy with their lifestyle choice and it isn’t harming others, then it is nothing to do with me.

    I’m happy for you to have a go at me, but I’d rather it wasn’t on points I think that I’ve already dealt with.

  25. No patronizing intended.

    I’m interested in what your definition of sex is. Maybe this is not the forum and how the bible/jesus would have dealt with gayness.

    don’t forget that im not trying to tell you that the bible is compatable with homosexuality any more that im trying to tell you that the bible is compatable with evolution or woman being in teaching roles in society. I’d be happy to argue with you that as far as the bible/jesus is concerned gaydom IS a sin… it’s just that my outworking of this is that the bible aint god’s word.

  26. I’ve had a long lunch and a few glasses of wine this afternoon, so I will limit my comments on your most recent post to saying fair enough and I enjoyed your use of the words “gayness” and (particularly) “gaydom”.

  27. boooooo where’s the fun if you refuse to rise to bait? 🙂

    home beacons….

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