Friday, 24 April 2009

Chritianity and Homosexuality

This blog has been prompted by something Miss California allegedly said. The wonderful Stephy has blogged on this here:

but rather than blog on her Comments I'm setting down my thoughts in my own blog.

A few years ago we had a major issue at the church I attend when someone in an active same sex relationship applied for membership. At the time I came within a whisker of leaving the church when the vote went in favour but, in retrospect, this had more to do with the way the issue was handled than the outcome. I was starting from the view that the Bible banned homosexuality and nothing in the discussions changed this point of view because there was no attempt to examine and explain the scriptures. Instead the arguments in favour were all based on modern social thinking to the point where one person said that if we rejected this it would go against everything she was learning in her secular counselling course. I'm sorry but a secular source is not an authority within the church.

However since then I have learnt to read the scripture in a contextual way and this raised all sorts of questions that a literal word based reading doesn't even think about. Firstly in the Old Testament the arguments against homosexuality are based on the need to grow the population and the treatment of women as breeding machines and property; neither of which are consistent with Jesus' teaching on the place of women in society and marriage. Secondly Paul's teaching in Romans may have coloured by his view of temple prostitution (male and female) having been brought up in a Greco-Roman town and so may only apply within that historical context. Thirdly I usually get the "God made them male and female" argument thrown at me when trying to discuss this but there are a significant proportion of the population (between 0.05% to 1% depending on where you get your figures) who are transgender; i.e. neither male or female in the conventional understanding of those terms.

As a result I have moved from an "anti" position to one of "not sure but I don't see Jesus condemning it." Interestingly the person who nearly split the church by joining now only appears when his "son" comes to church parade as a Cub Scout lending credence to those who say a lot of these issues are politically motivated; I for one am happy to see him there and make a point of speaking to him and making him welcome.

If you want to know more I would recommend the book An Acceptable Sacrifice (ISBN-10: 0281058512) which was written to inform the debate within the Anglican Church (without much success from what I've read) for further reading.


If anyone is following this blog apologies for the the lack of posts. Since writing off my car I have sunk back into a slough of depression; something I have suffered from periodically since my late teens. Now is not the time to blog about this but, once I'm back to "normal" I will try and blog about it.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009


I have just seen Sir Jackie Stewart on TV talking about the problems he had a school due to his dyslexia; a condition that wasn't diagnosed until he was 41. I was in my 30s before I found out why I couldn't write neatly and found the order of letters in words confusing. He was told he was stupid whereas I, probably because I was good at maths, was told I was naughty but neither of us enjoyed school.

However I can think of a couple of plus points to being dyslexic; I think in pictures not words so I can sometimes grasp complex issues quickly and I always stop and think "how does this sound" before putting anything into words on paper (or screen.) This stops me putting things down too quickly and regretting it later. I worry that on-line people can react too quickly and put things down that either they would never say face to face or phrase it in a way that can easily get twisted. Needless to say I won't be Twittering!

Monday, 13 April 2009

Low Saturday

I always find the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday a difficult day as if everything is in suspense; the mood of loss from Good Friday carries on and the joy of resurrection has yet to arrive. As a result I tend to have a quiet day but this year I took it to a new low by wiping out my car and damaging 2 others while parking just over the road. My foot slipped off the brake and onto the accelerator while backing with the door open (to check I was somewhere in the region of the kerb)and the car shot back, bent the door (and wing) round the tree, hit the next car causing a lot of damage and it, in turn hit the third car. All my fault and because my beautiful car is 10 years old it is very unlikely to be repaired.

Only the plus side no one was hurt (although I ache a lot and am having trouble sleeping) and the lady whose car was wrecked commented about how good the Friday Walk of Witness had been - she is a member of another local church.

Yesterday was Easter Sunday and, guess what, it didn't feel as joyous as usual. Having slept badly I went back to bed while the rest of the family went to the 8am communion and breakfast at church. I did make the 10:30 and 6:30 services but it felt like going through the motions.

So please excuse me for not posting "HALLELUJAH - HE IS RISEN" as this year I am still in Low Saturday trying to work out things like where I will find the money for a new car, deciding what size car, how will I move stuff out of my Dad's place (if we have finally sold it) in my wife's (small) car, how to get my son's stuff to / from university etc etc

It is all to easy to get so caught up in the joy of Easter Sunday that we can forget that for some just raising a smile that day may be difficult due to realtionship breakdown, depression, physical illness etc (or even a car crash). This does not mean they are spiritually defective but that the rich flow of life has left them in Low Saturday; ressurection joy will come but not just yet.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Good Friday Flowers

Walking back from our local churches' Good Friday Walk of witness I noticed this wonderful display of flowers:

The point is the building at the back is a public lavatory and it just made me smile about how we try to dress up the things that embarrass us. Then I thought of this:

Since it was added to our church in the 1970s it has definitely enhanced our worship making the cross the focus over the communion table. However Jesus’ cross was nothing like this – it was crudely carved rough timber that would be very rough against the skin and not a nicely planed piece of oak. Isn’t that what we always try to do? Tame and civilise the rough harsh world that Jesus walks in even today.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

The Fig Tree and the Mountain

This week I have been following a reading plan by Nick Page which takes you through Holy Week in chronological order. I haven’t bought the book yet but will for next year.

What struck me was the way events I’d always come across in isolation are actually part of a whole in particular Mark 11:12 – 24. This has usually been presented to me as 3 stories; the Fig Tree, The Cleansing of the Temple and Faith to Move Mountains but it is, as far as I can tell, one single prophetic act by Jesus foretelling both the destruction of Jerusalem and the rise of the Church as the new Israel.

The fig tree is used throughout the Old Testament as a symbol of Israel and so when Jesus finds no fruit and declares that it won’t bear fruit again He is signalling the end of Israel as God’s people. He immediately goes into the Temple and drives out the money changers turning over the tables. In doing so He will have brought at least part of the system of sacrifices to a halt; prophesying by His action the end for the need for animal sacrifices from the end of that week.

The following day the disciples notice that the fig tree has withered and point this out to Jesus who responds with:
“"Have faith in God," Jesus answered. "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.”
The phrase “Faith to Move Mountains” has gone into common use to describe someone of a very strong faith who, by comparison, makes the rest of us feel that we are failing. However Jesus never said that, He clearly says “this mountain” - The Temple Mount which rose over them as they walked from Bethany to Jerusalem that spring morning. Jesus is telling the disciples that they, when they become the leaders of the Church, will replace the Temple as the means of God’s grace to all nations.

One final point, many years ago I was told that Jesus cursing a tree that had no fruit out of season was a sign of His humanity, someone snapping under pressure. In isolation it looks like that but not when read in context. One of the scary things about Jesus’ actions in that last week was that He was totally in control of everything and still went through with it for us.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009


This is my very first time at blogging so I thought I'd better explain why I'm bothering. As an evangelical Christian I get fed up, annoyed and exasperated by the number of evangelicals who don't bring their intelligence to bear on their faith; my pet phrase is "Don't leave your brain at the door when you come into church" - hence the title of this blog. As well as putting forward information I have found useful you will also find me raging against the misuse of Christianity.

The other subjects likely to come up are music (I chord bash on the guitar and sing in a choir), sport (I was never any good but I enjoy watching - particularly my son playing rugby), disability (I'm a dyslexic with knackered lungs), my family (wife and 2 adult children at home) and fun (God gave us a sense of humour so I expect he intends us to use it.)

Will anyone read it? I don't know, particularly as I'm not telling my family to start with!
Will it make any difference? I hope so, if just one person reads this and realises that they are not a useless heretic for not just accepting everything they are told in church it will have been worthwhile.

Finally thanks to Stephy (if you find this) for, correctly, blocking Anonymous posts and forcing me to finally get my own ideas on-line.

God bless