Religious Tidbits 10/1/11

  1. Praying the gay away.
  2. Divided by a common faith.
  3. Dispensational Eschatology 101
  4. Is Jesus religious enough for the HHS religious exemption?

1

Could it be possible, after all, to “pray the gay away,” as the sarcastic phrase has it?

With the caveat that nobody’s talking about just going into a closet and praying fervently, alone, without professional help, a newly-published, peer-reviewed longitudinal study cautiously answers “yes.”

I have posted this as a “religious tidbit” not to deny, by any means, that the sexual revolution in general and the “homosexual” revolution in particular are matters of secular interest. But the therapeutic approach studied in the new publication is that of Exodus International, which I understand is a religiously-oriented program. Indeed, the teaser I read for this item referred to the possibility of “religiously motivated” people changing orientation.

I am well aware of the existence of people who have no religious motivation to change sexual orientation. I had a little dust-up with one, a friend-of-a-friend at Facebook, who greeted my “it’s no worse than any other sin” with hostility that I thought gay sex was a sin at all. The authors of the study report, by the way, that “20 per cent of the subjects reported giving up on the change process and fully embracing gay identity.”

Analysis of this study is beyond my competence, and the link is to a modified version of a press release, not to the study.

I am confident, however, that “there hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”  (I Cor. 10:13, KJV).

So that “30 per cent reported stable behavioral chastity with substantive dis-identification with homosexual orientation” strikes me as plausible in a Christian-oriented program that’s been around a while. “23 per cent of the subjects reported success in the form of successful “conversion” to heterosexual orientation and functioning”? That’s nice. I wish them well. But I’m a guy who has battled overweight for decades, and I know that a lot of “solutions” to a gluttonous orientation were temporary. The battle endures. God is faithful.

The APA is hag-ridden by ideologically, and I find it appalling that they give aid and confort to those who would treat it as malpractice per se for a licensed therapist to try to help someone reverse or just resist undesired same-sex attraction when asked specifically to do so by the patient.

Let the hate begin. But this blog is moderated.

2

Mitt Romney, a Mormon, during the 2008 campaign gave a speech in which he said “I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the savior of mankind.”

Anyone who knows even a little about LDS doctrine should appreciate how much equivocation is packed into those 15 words.

I’m not picking on Romney. My point is that similar verbalizations can conceal a world of difference, which is why traditional, ecclesial, pre-Reformational Christians like me can feel “divided by a common faith” from our fellow-Christians (broadly construed).

Just a quick read of Romney’s sentence reveals at least four words or phases by which he means something other than what I would mean by the same:

  1. “Believe.” Is this “believing” notional (like believing in Leprechauns) or active, and if active, how does this belief manifest?
  2. “Jesus Christ.” The one in the Bible and Creeds, or the one in the Book of Mormon? (“Antichrist” is “another Christ.”)
  3. “Son of God.” Whoa! “Conceived of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man” or conceived of a corporeal male deity, like whom we can become in every way, through an act of coition with a woman?
  4. “Savior.” Saving from what? From “sin”? What’s “sin”?

Again, I’m not picking on Mitt or his Mormonism. I just came across that quote again and it started me thinking. It’s an easy case of illustrating a wider phenomenon.

I was going to phrase that phenomenon provocatively, but I started crossing lines of charity and strict honesty, so I deleted and will stop here instead.

3

I’ve fairly regularly alluded to “dispensational premillennialism,” or “dispensationalism,” but I’ve never explained it. I’m realize that not everybody knows already.

Wikidpedia’s article on dispensationalism has a good illustration:

The “Second Coming for Church” in pretribulational “dispensational” premillennialism is the source of those “In case of Rapture, this car will be unmanned” bumper stickers.

Belief in any literal millennium has been a minority position throughout Christian history, though I’ll understand if you thought otherwise based on the loudest voices today and in recent decades. , Belief in a literal millennium has even been condemned as a heresy under the rubric of “chiliasm,” and I’ve heard that “His kingdom shall have no end” in the (Nicene) Creed was a repudiation of those who said it would last 1000 years, though I’m skeptical since Arius, whose heresy was something quite different, was the focus of the Council the wrote the Creed.

In other words, the orthodox positions are mostly amillennial or postmillenial, and the Orthodox position is (if you must label it), of those two, the former.

I’m not entirely persuaded by the idea that dispensationalism is particularly pernicious politically, though I’m inclined to think it is. But I think it does provide some evidence of its adherents inability to cope with Christian history and thus to recognize that freedom and prosperity are an historic oddity and in no way promised to believers.

4

Since it’s a Church-State issue, I’ve commented for general consumption on new HHS regulations and the parsimonious religious exception to them. It also is of religious concern.

* * * * *

Bon appetit!

(To save time on preparing this blog, which some days consumes way too much time, I’ve asked some guy named @RogerWmBennett to Tweet a lot of links about which I have little or nothing to add. Check the “Latest Tweets” in the upper right pane or follow him on Twitter.)

About readerjohn

I am a retired lawyer and an Orthodox Christian, living in a collapsing civilization, the modern West. There are things I'll miss when it's gone. There are others I won't. That it is collapsing is partly due to calculated subversion, summarized by the moniker "deathworks." This blog is now dedicated to exposing and warring against those deathwork - without ceasing to spread a little light.
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2 Responses to Religious Tidbits 10/1/11

  1. John says:

    1. The Exodus organizaton has been around for a long time. I am generally skeptical of any group who claims they can change one that way. They have had some pretty high-profile poster boys leave the reservation, so to speak (But then, there have been some former pro-gay activists who have gone the other way, so there you go.) Basically, I appreciate the Orthodox therapeutic approach that treats it as a sin among sins: “So you are a sinner. What else is new?” But just because you do not try to change this orientation doesn’t mean that you embrace it. Just the opposite. It is to be resisted and struggled against like any other passion, and in light of 1Cor. 10:13 you reference.

    2. Yeah, its funny how they can say the very same words and not mean the same thing at all. It is like when my Jehovah’s Witness aunt talks to me and mentions the gospel and Jesus Christ. The words are the same, but I know the meaning is worlds apart. The crazy stuff is in the details.

    3. I like these charts. It helps keep the various interpretations in order. I do, however, believe that premillenial dispensationalism has had a pernicious influence on our foreign policy. Simply put, p.d. has sucked the 1948 establishment of the secular state of Israel into their end-time scenarios. As such, the state of Israel can do no wrong. Even the marginally religious American understands that this is what he is supposed to believe, even if he doesn’t understand why. These Christian Zionists, along with the Israel lobby, have exerted and continue to exert what I believe to be undue influence on our foreign policy. A Catholic or Orthodox can view Israel as what it is–a modern secular state among other secular states. They can support it when they believe it is right and oppose it when they believe it is wrong. They could act as an honest power-broker in the region. A dispensationalist cannot do this, as they see everything Israel does as tied to the eschaton.

  2. readerjohn says:

    John:
    You’re right about Israel’s immunity from criticism in dispensationalism. How could I have forgotten that?
    I was thinking of recklessness about the future generally, and cited James G. Watt, Reagan’s Secretary of Interior. Then I went to confirm my memory of what he had said (my memory was that the “environment” didn’t matter because Jesus was coming soon), and found that I had remembered incorrectly and that what he said was pretty benign, so I dropped Watt from the item.

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