Your Brain: The Final Frontier

Discovering the obvious and beating it like a dead horse.

A Pastor For Itchy Ears

Heresies and heretics have been around since Apostolic times. We all know the big ones, Arianism, Jansenism, Pelagianism, Nestorianism, etc… Well, we may not know all the details, but we can usually spot or at least suspect a heresy when we hear it. Sometimes we end up falling into a heresy ourselves, especially if we try to talk about the Trinity, or the natures of God. Once we say more than about two words on these things, we find ourselves on pretty thin ice. 

Thankfully, the Church has helped identify and correct heresies over the centuries. In most cases, that has required the highest levels of Church authority, an ecumenical council. An ecumenical council is when all the bishops, churchmen, and theologians get together and hash things out. In the end, the pope puts all of it together in a final document and out comes the definitive Church teaching on that particular matter. There have been 21 ecumenical councils over the life of the Church, many of which corrected heretical teachings which had become popular at some time in Christianity. 

Identifying, defining, and correcting a heresy does not put an end to the heresy. This is because some people really like their heresy, and they cling to it in the hope that their wishes will change reality. That is now how it works, but people get emotional about things, and our emotions often cloud our reason and control our will. While some people grasped onto their favorite heresy in the past in spite of clear Church teaching, over the centuries, heresies have been dreamt up all over again. I’m guessing some people were crestfallen to learn that their new theological epiphany wasn’t new after all. 

We are dealing with a lot of this today, and most of it revolves around the heresy that God has a body. Whether a person falls into the idea that God is a gray bearded old man, a woman, or nonbinary, the heresy is the same. The fact is, the Church already dealt with this issue. From The Catholic Encyclopedia: 

A sect of Christians that arose in the fourth century in Syria and extended into Scythia, sometimes called Audians, from their founder, Audius. Taking the text of Genesis, i, 27, literally, Audius held that God has a human form. The error was so gross, and, to use St. Jerome’s expression (Epist. vi, Ad Pammachium), so absolutely senseless, that it showed no vitality. Towards the end of the century it appeared among some bodies of African Christians. The Fathers who wrote against it dismiss it almost contemptuously. In the time of Cyril of Alexandria, there were some anthropomorphites among the Egyptian monks. He composed a short refutation of their error, which he attributed to extreme ignorance. (Adv. Anthrop. in P.G., LXXVI.) Concerning the charges of anthropomorphism preferred against Melito, Tertullian, Origen, and Lactantius, see the respective articles. The error was revived in northern Italy during the tenth century, but was effectually suppressed by the bishops, notably by the learned Ratherius, Bishop of Verona.

I think it is notable that this particular error has not been addressed by an ecumenical council. Maybe it is time. There is an enormous amount of confusion over things like reality, science, the human body, and the human mind these days. Just like the staunch heretics of old, there are a lot of people today, who choose to hold onto their wishes in spite of clear evidence and the reality that what they wish is not reality. More and more people seem willing to look at a person who is obviously male or female, and agree to call them that which they are not. In short, it is a fantasy world. 

Such seems to be the same in some theological circles (if you could even call it theology). There are faith leaders who are certain that God is female, as if He has a physical body, or that He is nonbinary or transgender. These people portray themselves as uniquely enlightened and deeply committed to ensuring that their epiphany is inspired by God.  

While God has always had His pronouns, it has become fashionable to add new pronouns to His identity. Oh how humans love to create gods in our image and likeness. I was recently speaking to an acquaintance about an incident in which his son-in-law had to leave a Jesuit retreat when the retreat leader kept insisting on referring to God as “she”. Then I saw an article by the pastor of a non-Catholic church on the East Coast. I won’t advertise his name because I don’t want to give him any free advertisement. The article checks all the boxes of woke politics. 

He starts off with hints of truth: 

Experiencing same-sex attraction is not a sin. Nor is gender dysphoria or being confused about your sexuality. Feelings and confused feelings are real and we often lack total control over our feelings. To the extent that we act on our feelings and the actions are contrary to the Gospel, those are sins. There is absolutely no question about that. And when we commit serious sins and we do not repent from them and ask God for forgiveness, yes, that is killing people, physically and supernaturally.

So, our Pastor friend starts off on thin ice. However, by the third paragraph of his article, he departs from Christianity and steps fully into the world. What good is a pastor who exists totally in the world but tries to teach about God? He’s very useful to Satan, and totally worthless to God’s sons and daughters. 

It is easy to see where he departs from Christianity. The first step away is here: 

Christians love to say that, by the way—that all human beings are “made in the image of God.” Yet they also contend that these same made-in-the-image-of-God human beings, are either created male or female; that any other non-binary expression of gender identity is against God’s will; some unholy bastardization of the original plan. The problem they have to deal with in declaring this—is God. (emphasis added)

I’ll come back to this shortly. He then refers to the creation account in Genesis in which God creates male and female humans and asks:

If we are to (as so many homophobic/transphobic Christians do) take these words at face value, we need to ask the question: Which ones were created in God’s image, the males or the females?

This is a dishonest trick in argumentation called an either/or fallacy. It isn’t a pure either/or fallacy, though, because it wraps a couple of other fallacies into the same statement, including ad hominem and strawman fallacies. It is basically a fallacy salad. You can play a kind of word search game with the above quote to see how many fallacies you can spot. 

The question he poses is not a valid question, because it artificially frames the issue into an either/or inquiry. Are males made in God’s image, or are females made in God’s image. As most preschool children will correctly reply, both. Unfortunately, our progressive pastor from the East Coast has advanced too far in his theological training to accept mere truth. He falls into this weird world of theological confusion (anthropomorphism) because he attributes physical characteristics to God, who is pure spirit. Therefore, the image and likeness of God is not our skin color, genitalia, facial features, height, girth, etc… The image and likeness of God is our soul, our conscience, and our capacity to love and receive love, especially our longing to be in union with God.

Pastor Anthropomorphist goes even deeper down the rabbit hole with his next paragraph:

If our answer is both (which it must be), then God is decidedly non-binary, God transcends a single gender identity—God is by nature trans-gender. We cannot have God be a He and also make women in His image—and we can’t have a God capable of creating men and women, unless God is equally made of both. These Christians wouldn’t dream of excoriating God for the fluidity, would they? 

Yes, the answer is “both”, but not both types of reproductive systems, both male and female persons and maybe a better way to put it is not “both” but all persons, such as humanity as opposed to men or males. Our Pastor friend certainly overlooked the poetic style of Genesis as he penned his missive. All people are created in the image and likeness of God, and God created two categories of persons, males and females. One thing is obvious from Genesis, God did not any nonbinary or transgender characters in Genesis.

He also overlooked thousands of years of Judeo-Christian scholarship and thought. Orthodox theologians (orthodox meaning consistent, traditional, of the prevailing majority which is right worship) have all taught that God is pure spirit and has no body, and by virtue of having no physical body, He has no parts of a body either. Therefore, we can refer to God as “He” and accept that He can (actually did) make women in His image, and we can accept that in God’s infinite omnipotence and omniscience, He can (actually does) create males and females. After all, in order to build a table, a woodworker does not have to be a table, does he? 

As Pastor Anthropomorphist goes on, I’ll just insert my responses to his nonsense by inserting my bold-type corrections to his most misguided and fallacious arguments. This is where he goes into full strawman, and paints billions of Christians as horrid demons, simply because we believe all of Scripture and what Christianity has taught for centuries instead of aligning ourselves with modern secular views, which cannot be believed without accepting heresy.  

These same folks also want to use the Bible to condemn LGBTQ people and to deny them the rights of marriage and church fellowship, but they have another problem: the Bible. They have all sorts of issues to contend with there.

Actually no one I know wants to condemn LGBTQ people. Maybe Pastor Anthropomorphism is running with the wrong crowd? More likely, Pastor Anthropomorphism is simply allowing his emotions to cloud his ability to think. Christians refer to Scripture for an abundance of life’s challenges, which is a good thing. Fraternal correction, the call for repentance, the commandment to love our neighbor, and our obligation to love our neighbor by being honest with them are all basic tenets of Christianity. Therefore, when we believe our neighbor is doing something which if they continue to do without repentance, will likely result in eternal damnation, we have an obligation to mention things like abstinence, chastity, virtue, and turning back to God. If all of my friends see me reveling in immoral behavior, such as habitual dishonesty, and they say nothing to me about the dangers of hell and my need to repent, who needs enemies? 

They’ll attempt to use the word homosexuality (which does not occur in the original texts) as an umbrella term to refer to both gender identity and sexual orientation—when the context of the translated word they’re using and the occasions it appears in Scripture, simply cannot refer to both things simultaneously. Additionally, many Transgender people are in fact, not same-sex oriented, and not accurately described by the same word Christians would use to describe a gay or lesbian person.

I’m not really clear on the purpose of this paragraph other than to possibly try and paint his targets as ignorant so he can claim intellectual superiority and the obligatory trust that he is seeking. The fact is, his claim that the word “homosexuality” does not occur in the original texts is a red herring (another type of logical fallacy). First, there are no original texts in existence, but I’ll grant him the assumption that if the original texts of the New Testament were found, we would not find the word “homosexual” in them. This is not problematic though. The recognition of homosexual sex as sinful is explicit and obvious in Scripture, and it always has been. For further reading on Pastor Anthropomorphist’s red herring fallacy is here. As to whether Christians conflate gender dysphoria and same-sex attraction into one word, I don’t often see that from people who have given the matter more than minimal thought. It seems that our Pastor friend is simply ranting in this paragraph.  

They like to say that the Bible declares that marriage is strictly between one man and one women, while the Old Testament, as early as Genesis’ fourth chapter is teeming with bigamy, polygamy, and extra-marital sex practiced by the lauded pillars and Patriarchs of the faith (Abraham, Gideon, Solomon, David)—not as cautionary tale, and not with rebuke, but simply as the story of God’s people. There are no definitive statements on marriage spanning the breadth of Scripture.

Simply because something is referenced in Scripture does not mean it is good, virtuous, or holy. There is a lot of bad stuff in Scripture, such as murder, torture, ostracism, dishonesty, betrayal, etc… Therefore, this is another red herring fallacy. One thing we do know is that prior to the fall in the Garden, God united two people, Adam and Eve, and they lived in harmony prior to the fall. After the fall, there were many problems with bigamy, polygamy, and extra-marital sex, and none of it produced good. Our Pastor friend should study that much further. 

Here, I’ll refer back to our Pastor friend’s earlier criticism of the belief that God created humans male and female, and that that “any other non-binary expression of gender identity is against God’s will; some unholy bastardization of the original plan.” That is actually orthodox Christian belief, and it is called original sin. Original sin did corrupt (bastardize) God’s plan for us. That is why He had to send us His Son. Again, this is preschool theology.

In order to save you some unnecessary reading, I’ll skip over a number of paragraphs which our Pastor friend simply twists Scripture into new beliefs that he and other secularists like. Interpreting Scripture in ways which suit your needs has been a problem since Apostolic times. We are all better off if we don’t indulge people who insist on giving us excuses for the things they wish they could do without consequences. 

He finally (thankfully) starts wrapping up his confused excuses and justifications:

And the God of the Bible, as presented in Genesis, is himself/herself/itself an image of the beautiful spectrum of sexuality, and a defense of those who believe we each manifest this complexity in a myriad of ways.

God is a “spectrum of sexuality”? That’s a new one! Not that we would expect such a concept 1,900 years ago, or even 100 years ago. I find it interesting that in Christianity, we know that we are created in the image and likeness of Got, but in our Pastor friend’s new brand of religion, it is God who is the image of something, and in this case, it just happens to be something our Pastor friend wants Him to be. Talk about creating God in our image?!

Christians wanting to persecute the LGBTQ community have long claimed that God and the Bible are their justifications, but this simply isn’t accurate—not if they’re to use the reality of God and all the words of the Bible (not just the bits that feel like consent when isolated in social media diatribes and shouted sermons.)

Here is another fallacy salad. We are expected to fall for the lie that Christians want to persecute the LGBTQ community, as if the Westborough Baptist Church is an accurate depiction of orthodox Christianity. Our Pastor friend falls into a common misperception by people who are ultra-emotional about this issue. For the ultra-emotional, anything which strays from total agreement is persecution, hatred, and dangerous. On top of that, he accuses orthodox Christians of the very mistake he makes – not using “the reality of God and all the words of the Bible”. Trust me, in Catholicism, we use all the words. We have an entire catechism which explains the importance and necessity of relying on ALL of Scripture.  

These people are going to have to admit that ultimately the only authority they’re yielding to in these matters is their own (or the teachers or parents who have passed these ideas down to them. ) It is their fear, their prejudice, their lack of knowledge that causes them to lash out in hurtful words, violent rhetoric, and abject cruelty.

Hello Pastor. Project much? 

More and more Christians are beginning to understand this; that our faith tradition has gotten it wrong regarding sexuality, the same way it has regarding the worth of women, the plague of slavery, interracial marriage, the violence against non-Christians, and on and on. They are seeing that being LGBTQ and being Christian are not mutually exclusive. They’re seeing that a Church that honors God will welcome all people.

No. More and more people are misunderstanding all this, including our Pastor friend. Our “faith tradition”? Why not call it Christianity? Maybe because our Pastor friend senses that he doesn’t really believe in Christianity. This is evidenced by his list of sins of Christianity. If Christianity did get all these things wrong, it would be a strong argument that the Church was not divinely inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit. But that would contradict explicit Scripture too. Therefore, a strong argument could be made that Christianity, the Church, Scripture, and morality are all frauds – social constructs. And that is where we find the true source of our Pastor friend’s confusion. He doubts Christ, the Church Christ founded, and the book which the Apostles and their disciples wrote as well as the Old Testament the Church compiled and preserved. Such is the process of becoming a heretic. 

We’ve wasted so much time, so many resources, and so many beautiful, God-reflecting lives, because we’ve made our fear our idol and tried to retrofit God into that image. 

So, it’s all about homophobia? Some would define it as fear of homosexuals. Some would define it as hatred for homosexuals. Reasonable people would see the mistakes in our Pastor’s reasoning though, which are rife in his article. And his reasoning is so flawed, it is obvious that his conclusions are deeply flawed as well.

The sooner we can let go of this misplaced fervor and this fruitless fight, the sooner we can live out Jesus’ clear and unmistakable commands, that we love God and all those who share this space with us.

What is the misplaced fervor? The fervor for the word of God as written in Scripture and as interpreted according to the longstanding teachings and traditions of the Church? That isn’t a misplaced fervor. It is called orthodoxy, also known as right worship. And since God does not change, consistency in our worship and discipleship is essential. 

No, being LGBTQ is not a sin.

Our Pastor friend spilled a lot of ink to get to that claim. So just to clarify. Same-sex attraction is not a sin. Nor is gender dysphoria. However, acting on those attractions and confusions in ways that are contrary to the Gospel? Yep. Those are sins. And by referring to LGBTQ, the inference is that there is a lifestyle choice which is the acting on those attractions and confusions. So, that simply isn’t true as a blanket statement. 

The sin, is the hatred that refuses to let go of that notion when evidence requires it.

Back to “homophobia” again, but now with the definition of hate. However, by now, we have seen through all of the mischaracterizations and fallacies of our Pastor friend. He is nothing more than a secularist who attended divinity school with the intent of undermining Christianity. Or maybe he went to divinity school with wholesome intentions and lost his way afterward. Either way, why would anyone follow the teachings of such a man? Well, they would be happy to do so if they have the itching ears St. Paul tells us about in 2 Timothy 4:3-5. 

“For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.”

Scripture is obvious. Avoid guys like our Pastor friend. He is leading poor souls into myth.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *