Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Australian PM Debates Homosexuality with an Australian Pastor: "What Is the Fundamental Principle of the New Testament?"

As he says in the preceding interview for Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has thought through the issue of marriage equality, consulting his informed conscience. His informed conscience has led him to change his mind about same-sex marriage, which he formerly opposed. 

A pastor in the audience challenges Rudd: he's "chopping and changing" traditional Christian beliefs. People will stop voting for him. 

The moderator asks the pastor, "What do you believe Christians in particular are upset about?" 

The pastor replies:

I think the thing is that, you know, every pastor, we do, marriage is between husbands and wives, and you know Jesus said, A man shall leave his father and mother and be married," and that's the biblical definition. I just believe in what the bible says.

And then the pastor asks PM Rudd why he doesn't believe the words of Jesus in the bible.

Rudd's reply:

The bible also says that slavery is a natural condition. Because St. Paul said in the New Testament, "Slaves be obedient to your masters," and therefore we should have all fought for the Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War. I mean, for goodness's sake! The human condition and social conditions change. What is the fundamental principle of the New Testament? It is one of unversal love, loving your fellow man. And if we get obsessed with a particular definition of that through a form of sexuality, then I think we're missing the centrality of what the gospel, whether you call it a social gospel, a personal gospel, or a spiritual gospel, is all about.

One of these men strikes me as thoughtful and informed. The other doesn't. As I've said before (citing Ta-Nehisi Coates), institutions that build around stupidity become stupid. They make themselves stupid.

And as Coates points out, the royal road to institutional stupidity is the refusal of their leaders to listen respectfully to a wide variety of viewpoints from as many different kinds of people as possible. The debate about how to place LGBTI people in the world and in the church is so stultifying doltish in many cultures around the world up to the present, because it's a debate dominated almost exclusively by heterosexual men who imagine that how they view the world and have arranged it to their benefit represent "nature" and "God," the divine will inscribed in nature.

People who talk only to other people like themselves, Cabots speaking exclusively to Lodges, and who build into their closed circle of wall-to-wall self-confirmatory discourse astonishing presuppositions about their own unquestionable fitness to rule and judge others--since they are "God" and the pinnacle of "nature"--end up sounding, being, and acting stupid. The pearl of careful thought is formed around the irritation created by the grain of the other.

As long as institutions like those represented by the pastor in the preceding video continue blithely to assume that those who are gay or lesbian are other in a way that does not permit them to have a voice in the social and religious conversations that define them, as long as the very voices of those who are other (not just of gay folks, but of women, too) are excluded from these conversations and are not permitted inside them as an irritant, these conversations will continue to result in outright stupidity. Of the kind we see all too often in too many societies in the world, when the place of LGBTI people is the topic of discussion . . . . 

(I'm indebted to John Aravosis at AmericaBlog Gay for the link to the ABC video discussed above.)

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