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Master’s Voice: Blessed are the unignorant of Scripture for they shall give LGBTQI no attitude

If my laptop had not died, I would have written this piece much earlier, not long after Akilah Holder’s 14 February article. Small ting; Jessica Joseph’s masterful response, using the same points I wanted to raise, was both an excellent rebuttal and an education resource.

Those whose minds are not hermetically sealed to proper research should read over her four articles on this vexing question of acceptance of LGBTQI persons in our society and the egregious misconceptions in Holder’s article to which many others in this society subscribe.

Photo: LGBTQI protesters in USA.

Other works to be consulted are the books and podcasts of Bishop John Shelby Spong and Rabbi Steven Greenberg (Wrestling with Gods and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition). Then they should consult those of Prof Bart Ehrman (Misquoting Jesus; Forged) and the Encyclopaedia Biblica to see the extent to which some biblical passages aren’t only mistranslated but are also forgeries that do not appear in the earliest existing manuscripts. Through other scholars like Aviva Cantor (Jewish Women, Jewish Men) and even Errol Miller (The Prophet and the Virgin), they will learn about the military situation facing the Hebrews that informed the writings of some passages in the Deuteronomic books.

As Joseph illustrated, the biblical passages supposedly condemning homosexuality did no such thing. Passages like those in Leviticus were intended to create a nationalistic identity uniting (under Levite Judaism) very diverse Hebrew tribes in the face of military threats from superior forces of Egypt, Canaan and Assyria. Little else.

I’m under no illusions, though, that very little of what she or I have to say on this subject will make any impact on many people. The issue of homosexuality and lesbianism is a very thorny subject in this country and region; the misconceptions and pseudo-science that feed this run deep. It’s also extremely divisive not only here in the Americas but in Africa as well. There are often heated debates even among academics—who are divided by age as younger scholars who are able to look at existing evidence but with freer minds often take stands at the polar opposite to older scholars whom they sometimes accuse of being influenced by colonial era prejudices.

Even some progressives who aren’t as shackled to religion and are much more enlightened find themselves sharing with the religious a loathing for people in the LGBTQI community and the “lifestyle” that White people brought to Trinidad and Africa (another egregious belief).

Photo: A same-sex marriage in the United States.

I myself was immersed in that homophobic way of thinking; as a child of a very masculinist 70’s and 80’s upbringing, I even now—with a lot more knowledge in my head—still get a reflex prejudice at the thought of two men being sexually intimate. In fact, when I began to research one of the books I’m currently working on, I had no intention of including gay/lesbian issues.

But the more I read and uncovered, the more apparent it became that almost all of my preconceptions and the religious teachings that inform them were wrong, very wrong. And like Joseph, I quickly realised that none of this is any new or earth-shattering information; many people who studied in seminaries are well aware of everything she has outlined, yet very few have ever enlightened their parishioners concerning any of it.

Therefore, fellow black hen chickens, we had better start becoming more informed. We’d better start understanding that, if our society is to survive, it needs to be much more inclusive, analytical and accommodating than it is at present. That especially pertains to issues of sexuality. There needs to be a clear understanding that human sexuality is very complex, very diverse and that we must create environments reflecting that.

That will never happen with attitudes like those of Holder, Victor Gill and those other legal bandits who were placarding outside Parliament recently. Neither is it going to come about when we have people like the recently installed Archbishop of Port-of-Spain making statements to the effect that the Church only recognises marriage between one man and one woman.

Which brings me to why, in spite of the delay, I decided to respond indirectly to Holder.

Photo: A protester carries a placard condemning same-sex marriage.

What the Archbishop said was very interesting given that for 900 years the Catholic Church refused to even participate in marriage ceremonies in Europe because to do so tacitly legitimised sex, which, according to the influential writings of Tertullian and especially Augustine, was sinful even within marriage. Indeed, as one of the chapters in Karen Jo Torjessen’s book When Women Were Priests puts it, “sin” is a sexually transmitted disease.

Dualism, a philosophy that there are good and evil forces constantly warring for man’s soul, was extremely influential in the early Church. Augustine, St John Chrysostom and many other “moralists” condemned all forms of sexuality as evil since it was a distraction from the “higher” pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. This was refashioned old patriarchal ideas that deified militarism (i.e. in the form of the malevolent deity Marduk—the deity that some Hebrew sects drew from to develop the deity Yahweh/Jehovah).

Equally interesting is that, according to John Boswell’s research, gay unions existed in Catholic Europe from the time the Roman Empire transitioned into the Holy Roman Empire and up to the medieval period. Boswell, who was proficient in several of the “dead” languages that are necessary to read ancient Christian texts, was just one of several scholars who found evidence of such unions in parts of the early Christian world. Not only did homosexual prostitution exist in Eastern cities for full 200 years when Christianity became the State religion but the Christian emperors collected taxes on it.

Boswell quotes St John Chrysostom, who travelled to Anatolia in Turkey, which is said to be a cradle of Christianity, and saw men openly consorting not with sex workers but with other men. Chrysostom wrote that:

Photo: A same-sex couple depicted in Greek art.

Those very people who have been nourished by godly doctrine, who instruct others in what they ought and ought not to do, who have heard the Scriptures brought down from heaven, these do not consort with prostitutes as fearlessly as they do with young men.

“The fathers of the young men take this in silence: they do not try to sequester their sons, nor do they seek any remedy for this evil. 

“None is ashamed, no one blushes, but, rather, they take pride in their little game; the chaste seem to be the odd ones, and the disapproving the ones in error.”

Note Chrysostom’s use of the word “chaste.” Like many theologians of his time, he was condemning all sexual acts and not just homosexual acts.

And those Protestants who assume that this only pertains to Catholics—whom they do not consider “real” Christians anyway—may want to take a closer look at their King James Version, the mistranslations found there. More to the point, they might want to examine the relationship between King James and George Villiers, the son of an untitled and impoverished squire. Villiers, whom James affectionately called “Steenie,” received numerous favours from James, including being made Knight of the Garter and given a Viscountcy in 1616, and being made the Earl of Buckingham in 1617. Shortly thereafter, George was his companion in bed.

In response to the Privy Council’s protestations against such blatant favouritism (not the intimate relationship!), James defended himself:

Photo: Portrait of King James I of England and VI of Scotland by John De Critz the Elder.

I, James, am neither a god nor an angel, but a man like any other. Therefore, I act like a man and confess to loving those dear to me more than other men. You may be sure that I love the Earl of Buckingham more than anyone else, and more than you who are here assembled. I wish to speak in my own behalf and not to have it thought to be a defect, for Jesus Christ did the same, and therefore I cannot be blamed. Christ had his John, and I have my George.

When James married George off to Lady Katherine Manner (for dynastic purposes), he wrote letters such as this one:

[December 1622?]

My only sweet and dear child,

 I am now so miserable a coward, as I do nothing but weep and mourn; for I protest to God I rode this afternoon a great way in the park without speaking to anybody and the tears trickling down my cheeks, as now they do that I can scarcely see to write. But alas, what shall I do at our parting? The only small comfort I can have will be to pry in thy defects with the eye of an enemy, and of every mote to make a mountain, and so harden my heart against thy absence.

It should also be noted that they both had as a close friend Sir Francis Bacon, the Lord High Chancellor, who was well known for sleeping with his serving boys.

Photo: George Villiers was believed to be the gay lover of King James I.

Space does not permit me to list in great detail the overwhelming evidence that Christianity was not necessarily in mortal opposition to gayness/lesbianism as is the case today. But, Ms Holder, to twist your own words a little; if you want to be homophobic, go ahead, suit yourself.

But do not use the name of “God” to legitimise your cause. Do not try to claim the moral high ground when you have no clue as to how that morality came to be so moral…or how “God” even came to be expressed in that gender-specific title that excludes YOU (something else I shall return to).

About Corey Gilkes

Corey Gilkes is a self-taught history reader whose big mouth forever gets his little tail in trouble. He lives in La Romaine and is working on four book projects. He has a blog on https://coreygilkes.wordpress.com/blog/ and http://www.trinicenter.com/Gilkes/. Vitriol can be emailed to him at coreygks@gmail.com.

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  1. “Every sperm is sacred”: Monty Python. LOL.

    Pre-scientific times, they thought only men contained the seed of life and were “creators” like God. They did not know a woman contributed 50% of the genetic material IN ADDITION TO contributing all the building blocks of the developing fetus (often losing her own bone mass, teeth, nutrition to do so) IN ADDITION TO housing the fetus. They only gave her credit for the very last task. Women were just incubation chambers for the complete human being implanted in her by a man. That is what they thought.

    Once you understand this, you understand why any wastage of sperm was seen as sinful. You understand why males were valued higher than females (look at the Old Testament monetary compensation for each) and why when a man was killed, and ONLY when a man was killed, the expression, “His blood is calling out” was used. Meaning his entire bloodline was murdered too. Women were not seen as having bloodlines.

    However, it is through the mitochondrial DNA that ancestry is traced. Through the female line, the X chromosome, not the male one, the Y. In a twist of anachronistic irony, the hunter-gatherer and earlier agricultural civilizations (though not understanding the science) were more accurate in venerating the Mother, the Goddess, the Female as equally as Lifegiver. They understood there could not just be one side of the equation and there must be a Cosmic Feminine element as well.

    Masculine only, bachelor, celibate, sterile, monotheistic deity is a RECENT CONCEPT. And it is an imbalanced and inaccurate concept. And on cultures (like our West African ones and East Indian ones) where there were Goddesses and acknowledgment of a Divine Feminine and then this foreign Male Only, God is imposed upon it, you can see the conflict it causes.

    • “Once you understand this, you understand why any wastage of sperm was seen as sinful.”

      Absolutely, Jessica. That, *and* from Augustine’s position, if contraceptive efforts are being taken, then the purpose of marriage is distorted and focused only on carnal, rather spiritual purposes. It is far from an absolute condemnation of sex between man and wife.

  2. Good article overall. Nothing really surprising with regards to the lack of theological support for the homophobia of many Christian leaders, that was always more a product of the Reformation period from which evolved Protestantism, and even more, the asceticism and patriarchy of the Church scions before that.

    That being said, it is misleading, if not erroneous to say that Augustine equated sex within marriage to sin. Overall his ideas towards intercourse is negative. A more accurate interpretation of his position is that sex, if not for the purpose of procreation is contrary to God’s will and therefore “sinful.” This of course extends to sex within the marriage that fits the above definition, but this clearly wasn’t the sweeping condemnation as suggested in the article.

    It’s also a bit disingenuous to imply, as the recent series of articles have seemingly done, that this is a “Christian” issue, or an issue particular to Christianity. Coincidence or not, more honest scholarship would in the least acknowledge that these “Christian” attitudes towards homosexuality is no different from that shared by every other mainstream religion.

    Finally, the bit about King James serves more as a distraction than anything else. People seem to have a lasting misunderstanding of “King James Version” and what it means.

    • Well please, do tell, what does the King James Version “mean”

      “it is misleading, if not erroneous to say that Augustine equated sex within marriage to sin. Overall his ideas towards intercourse is negative. A more accurate interpretation of his position is that sex, if not for the purpose of procreation is contrary to God’s will and therefore “sinful.” This of course extends to sex within the marriage that fits the above definition, but this clearly wasn’t the sweeping condemnation as suggested in the article.”
      (Crickets chirping) Did you even bother to read his treatise “Of the Good of Marriage”?

      ”more honest scholarship would in the least acknowledge that these “Christian” attitudes towards homosexuality is no different from that shared by every other mainstream religion. ”
      You mean like what *I* have written? I don’t see myself as any scholar, but I am someone who reads and cites them. I also cite those like David Greenberg who speaks about homosexuality in the Jewish tradition (and just to be clear, those “mainstream religions” would be Judaism, Christianity and Islam which all stemmed from the same patriarchal, militaristic culture right?) and how words like “toevah”/“tobeah” in Leviticus has been misunderstood to mean “abomination” in the context of same-sex desire when no such thing was even understood 2-3000 years ago.

    • 1. “Did you even bother to read his treatise ;Of the Good of Marriage’?”

      Yes, I did… and on the evidence one would have to conclude that you did not. If you did read it, with any sort of comprehension that is, you would recognize that what I described is Augustine’s first “virtue” of proles.

      2. Is it really that easy for you to lay bare your insecurities? In three or so articles, yours is the first to mention homophobia in any religion other than Christianity, yet you bristle at not being credited with the passing mention you make. Mainstream religions, such as the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam), as well as Buddhism, Hinduism, and even Zoroastrianism, Baha’i and Taoism.

      Not sure what the rest of what you typed has to do with anything I said. Or maybe it just serves to provide you a platform to show you know words such as “toevah/tobea.”

    • I am putting it to you Nigel S. Scott, that you did not read that. Perhaps you read a different translation. I read the one on New Advent’s website. Go and read it again. he disparages sex throughout the whole treatise and essentially tolerates it only for procreation (of sons).

      And as fo the rest, well clearly you are still as juvenile as you have always been since the days of islandmix.com Bakes

    • Good heavens… that is what all this posturing and bellicosity is about? Some internet disagreement?? My last comment on that site was May (June?) 2009. You literally in your feelings from some argument from almost ten years ago. That beef so old it rancid. Your use of “juvenile” is particularly ironic, given your knee jerk resort to ad hominems rather that substantively addressing the issue/s at hand.

      I’ll leave it up to those sufficiently interested to look up Augustine’s use of ‘proles’ and the scholarship around this central issue. Rather than post a link to the primary source, which anyone can find on the internet, there are many secondary sources which address Augustine’s position. This is just one of the many:

      “To the Manichean argument that marriage is bad because procreation is bad, Augustine offers the counter-thesis that it is precisely the goodness of procreation which makes marriage good. [4] This explains in large part his insistence on the generative purpose of sex. [5]

      Now, while Augustine’s defence of marriage cen­tred on its procreative finality, it is inexact to suggest that he had (to use the modern expression) no “personalist” under­standing of the conjugal relationship.”


      In short, one has to contemplate the philosophical position taken by Augustine, in the context of how it was offered, as a rebuttal to heresy of Jovianism. I’ll move on and let others take it up as they see fit.

    • I see you have not changed, still playing smart with stupid. That’s why I consider you to be nothing more than juvenile; you pretend to forget that I had no idea who you were until YOU brought up the Islandmix thing; how else could I have possibly known that Nigel S. Scott was the ol “Bake-n-Shark” given that we only used usernames? And, like it was back then, you still make all sorts of snide remarks — which discouraged most people from engaging — and yet when someone like me takes it up and throws it back, you adopt this seemingly innocent attitude as if you’re being unfairly attacked. Guess that’s how you feel good about yourself.

      But let’s deal with this piece of stupidness you want to come here with.

      So let me get this straight: unlike serious historians and scholars who encourage researchers to locate the primary documents and sources to read for themselves, *you* prefer to refer solely to secondary sources and go on their interpretation?! That’s what you come here with talking some arseness about posting links anybody can click on? (That’s kinda the point, ‘couyaw’). Funny thing is, when *that* is done and secondary sources *are* cited, you find that that is only about trying to show people that I just name-dropping and trying to show off that I read a lot of books. Like islandmix days, you just on shit; go and join with the next clown here on wired868 who want to argue with a straight face that there is no evidence that racism influenced colonialism or vice versa.

      Now regarding Augustine, in “Of the Good of Marriage” as well as other treatises he wrote, it was clear to anyone who reads it — and I maintain that you did not — that he, like many other Christian theologians disapproved of all forms of sex, period. He writes:
      “(If man) had not sinned, whereas their bodies by sinning deserved the condition of death, and there can be no sexual intercourse save of mortal bodies. ……. Whether, therefore, without intercourse, in some other way, had they not sinned, they would have had sons, from the gift of the Almighty Creator, Who was able to create themselves also without parents, Who was able to form the Flesh of Christ in a virgin womb, and (to speak even to unbelievers themselves) Who was able to bestow on bees a progeny without sexual intercourse”

      Even to this day the highest virtue remains that of chastity. Augustine — after he screwed his way through North Africa, siring a son in the process — tolerated sex only insofar as the intent was to procreate. Even then, it was not “sinless” and, as other theologians asserted, the pains of childbirth was a justifiable penalty for sinful pleasure. Pope Innocent III in the ‘De Contemptu Mundi” (‘hatred of the world’: that’s where the Protestant faiths like the Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses got it from), echoing Augustine and his contemporaries writes:

      “Man is formed of dust, mud ashes, and, what is viler, of foul sperm….Who can ignore the fact that conjugal union never occurs without the itching of the flesh, the fermentation of desire and the foul stench of lust? Hence any progeny os spoiled, tainted…by the very act of its conception, the seed communicating t the soul that inhabits it the stain of sin, the stigma of fault, the filth of iniquity — in the very same way that a liquid will corrupt if it is poured into a dirty vessel…”

      Jean de Lumeau in “Sin and Fear: the Emergence of a Western Guilt Culture 13th-18th centuries (look, see, ah citing a secondary source, lemme hear yuh now) says on pg 16:

      “Sexual pleasure is…the most ferociously attacked. A long NEOPLATONIC tradition (my caps), adopted by several of the church fathers, considered that the irrational nature of carnal communion reduced man (literally, men — my own interpretation here because dem fellas did scorn women like cat fraid water) to the level of an animal (the issue of equating sexual behaviour to animalistic urges is another thing we need to thrash out sometime). According to St Augustine, sexual unions in the Garden of Eden were bereft of lust, ‘like hands joining one another’.”

      Additionally, to state or imply as you did that other mainstream religions like Hinduism also condemns homosexuality makes you very guilty of being as disingenuous that you want to ascribe in others. The Hindu faith, for instance, is much more than just the Sanatan Dharma a la Sat Maharaj and Co. There are ideological and ritual spaces for same-sexuality, transvestism in other Hindu sects as Dr Adnan Hossain, an anthropologist I had the privilege of meeting and knowing, had written about. You can find his academic papers on the subject at http://www.academia.edu.

      In short, when Augustine was writing in response to the Jovian “heresy” — Jovinian was a monk who had written against the idea of asceticism and the perpetual virginity of Mary, based on that narrow erroneous interpretation of virginity — he wrote immersed in a cultural tradition that was militaristic, patriarchal and misogynist. One can twist and spin it however, the facts are there and their roots in Greek and Sumerian patriarchy has been extensively documented — for those who prefer only secondary sources.

    • One long ad hominem diatribe filled with scattershot personal insults, which once sifted through reveal even more of the intellectual shell game.

      Looking past the attempted misdirection and you admit that your sweeping statement that Augustine considered sex within marriage a sin, was inaccurate. Of course you lack the candor to admit that you’re wrong, a fact belied by your very words: that Augustine “tolerated sex insofar as the intent was to procreate.” Which of course is what I stated, and the caveat that was missing from the article. After plumbing the depths of your feelings and giving vent through your keystrokes you bury the admission amidst a sea of emotions.

      Maybe this is some of the new “responsibility” Lasana posted about this morning.

    • How many of the writings of the early theologians have you read Nigel S. Scott, be so good as to list them.

  3. Have to add this one to my saved collection. I have so much reading to catch up on

  4. Keep looking and whatever one is looking for, they will find it; especially if you have centuries to play with and regard for history’s importance is being eroded and denounced.

  5. My God condemns it in more than one instance, it is vile, an abomination to him, devoid of love but saturated in lust and regardless of how the author, a mere human accepts it, my God rejects it and so do I .

  6. First Dr. Claudius now A Corey Gilkes, allyuh spoiling people with meat today! This eh no milk thing.