…not every day you wake up to discover you’ve been labelled hysterical…

So Adrian Phoon notes on Twitter this morning.

christopher-pearson-100x131In the blue-rinse corner we have Christopher Pearson (right) andtwitter_bigger in the rainbow corner we have Adrian (left). Christopher used to be John Howard’s speech writer and writes regularly in The Australian. Adrian is an up and coming writer too young (and not very likely) to have been John Howard’s speech writer. He has an abnormal interest in Renaissance literature.

I have met Adrian, who is an old friend of my blogs and an ex-Facebooker. (Is that at all like being ex-gay?)  He is a very bright young guy. I haven’t met Christopher, though I have read him over the years. I find him a paradox, as I find most extremely conservative religious people (Catholic and great admirer of George Pell in his case) who are also, well, friends of Dorothy, deeply paradoxical to say the least.

My sense of paradox is enhanced by his column today, an excessive reaction to Adrian’s article in The Age, which seems to have touched a nerve or two in the old Chris.

LAST Tuesday The Age newspaper in Melbourne published an opinion piece titled, "The role of US evangelists in Uganda’s `kill the gays’ bill".

It was by a Sydney-based writer called Adrian Phoon and called to mind the rhetoric and tactics of Gay Liberation in the 1970s.

Phoon had leapt on to some rather hysterical reporting in The New York Times about three US evangelicals who had spoken last year at a conference in Uganda described by one of the organisers as focusing on "the gay agenda; that whole hidden and dark agenda".

Throughout his article Phoon assumed malevolence on the part of the speakers, although he noted in passing that the three have emphatically distanced themselves from the death penalty proposal, since dropped, and insisted that their message was one of love, not murder.

However, Phoon doesn’t seem to understand how it may be possible to follow the New Testament maxim to hate the sin and love the sinner…

Adrian is probably too young to remember “the rhetoric and tactics of Gay Liberation in the 1970s”, but he is certainly familiar with the alleged New Testament maxim “to hate the sin and love the sinner.”

Did you know that the saying, "Love the sinner, hate the sin" has absolutely nothing to do with our faith? It is not to be found anywhere in the Bible. It was said by Mahatma Gandhi on one of his not so good days and it has been used to beat people up. It has been used to do violence to people ever since. Something Gandhi would never ever have wished. When I was sparring with the person who helped organize the rally against same sex marriage at Queen’s Park a couple of weeks past, I heard those lines from his mouth. So that’s why I thought we should talk about them. He said we should hate the sin, meaning in this case, homosexuality, but we should love the sinner.

Now in the Bible there’s no place for that kind of noise. In the Bible there is no separation ever between the sinner and the sin. You can’t separate them out. When I heard this gospel passage from Jesus I remembered that when I first heard it, I heard it this way and your probably did to. Jesus saying the Pharisees, they’re okay, they don’t need me, they’ve already got their act together. The sinners, the poor ones, the sick ones, that’s who I’m really here to help.

That is not what it says! And that is certainly not what he meant. What Jesus is saying in that passage is that those Pharisees, the ones who think they are righteous, don’t have a clue. They will never be able to ‘see’ me or experience my ministry. Only the ones who know they are sinners will be the faithful ones, will be the ones able to experience my ministry, experience the divine in their lives. Only they will get it! Why would he say something like that? If you already know everything you can’t learn ‘nothing’. If you know that you know nothing, you can potentially, learn everything…

Then Chris starts on a particularly self-serving bit of nonsense; if it makes him happy, fair enough, but don’t swallow it whole whatever you do. I think it could well be called rationalisation.

That said, anyone concerned to defend embattled family values has good reasons for taking an interest in "the gay agenda", even though it’s important to understand there are multiple strands to it and some of them are harmless .

For example, few Christians or social conservatives these days would have a problem with the decriminalisation agenda of the reformers of the 1970s and 80s. The same is probably true of measures on superannuation, other entitlements and some forms of partnership recognition to achieve equality before the law…

But his article particularly deplored psychological interventions. "Central to the modern anti-gay movement is the proliferation of so-called `ex-gay therapies’. These encourage individuals to `convert’ from their homosexual behaviour, implying that being and acting gay somehow involves a choice."

In response, I think it’s necessary first to distinguish between being homosexual — which may be a passing, intermittent or permanent inclination — and being gay, which is an ideological position. The former may involve an element of choice while the latter is entirely voluntary…

So Chris, while a friend of Dorothy, isn’t gay – though neither is it a passing phase. On the other hand I do concede that there is a range of orientations, and that some – I have an example in mind, one “Lucy” – do indeed change their behaviour if not their orientation, while others occupy various positions on what I see as a spectrum rather than either/or.

I suggest you now go and read Adrian’s article and decide whether he is “hysterical” for yourselves. (I think not.) Then read “Guest Post” — Anthony Venn-Brown from December 17, 2009. You might follow that up with Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill: A Betrayal of Christ’s Teachings from the US evangelical site Sojourners.

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