Philosophy

Redefining hate: from diabolical anti-love to any criticism of the fragile self

This is a guest post by by the Rev’d Dr Gavin Ashenden.

_____

During the General Synod debate on homosexuality I took to twitter. It’s like sitting up in the gods of a theatre. You are with the rowdy crowd. Shakespeare’s groundlings elevated to the grandstand of the internet. I chose my 140 characters with care. I tried the ‘critique without caustic’ approach – dignified and factually accurate.

Soon, very soon, the accusations began to flow in. “Dr Ashenden, you are a man filled with hate and bile” was the first. And then they came, a trickle at first, accusing me of hate, hate and even more hate.

I tried the parry. “You do know that for 15 years I was a passionate LGBT supporter until…” But the ‘until’ galvanised more energetic ad hominem internet detritus.

I was stopped in my tracks by this showering of accusation. Why always this accusation of hate?

It’s true, I do, in the jargon, have ‘anger issues’, in that I get cross from time to time. I strongly suspect they lie within the scale of ‘normality’. I look at my anger… I embrace my anger. I accept my anger and allow it to energise me rather than become depression.

For I, too, have had counselling. Twice. Once I submitted to four years at the hands of a brutal Kleinian psychotherapist; and once to a more gentle and almost wholly ineffective Jungian. I think both women are dead now. I learned some interesting things about myself from both. But, to continue the lingua franca, ‘here’s the thing’. Whilst it was the clear intention of allowing me to encounter such covert anger issues as I had, managing the anger was less clear, less obvious and turned out to be a much more subtle task than I thought either therapist properly achieved with me.

By all means blame me as a difficult client. But both experiences left me wondering if I had trouble working out how to creatively harness my anger after losing it from Pandora’s Box, where it lay bound and tethered on account of it being potentially very dangerous. Perhaps others did too?

There is an excellent book called The Death of Christian Britain by Callum Brown, which locates the death in 1963. Those born and nurtured before lived in one cultural era; and those after in a wholly different one. Christianity did not survive the watershed of transition from pre- to post-1963. Before 1963 lay Victorian or Edwardian culture, running out of energy until it succumbed, and after 1963 came the existentialist indulgence of narcissistic decadence. Before, Stoicism and Christianity; after, counselling, therapy and New Age. Before, restraint and self-control; after, anger and blame.

I straddled this cultural divide – just. Much more at home in the former; uncomfortably mistrustful of the latter.

I remember my first encounter when being taught Rogerian counselling techniques when I trained for the priesthood. There were two core elements: unconditional positive regard, and self-actualisation.

The implications of this non-directional counselling approach were that the client would flourish if provided with limitless affirmation and minimal direction, criticism or moral interference.

Self-actualisation, which overlaps with Jung’s promotion of something very similar which he called ‘individuation’, replaced any external criteria of expectation (God for example) with the trust that the internal needs of the person would make themselves known and, in the right affirming environment, grow and flourish. The highest levels of self-regard were crucial to this process.

Rogers was born into a faithful Pentecostal family and, as a bright young man, became an atheist. He exchanged an anthropology which saw humanity as flawed by sin for one which saw it flawed only by external and internal criticism.

Jung’s idea of individuation – wholly untested and empirically evasive – also looked for the goal of self-development as the main aim of the human journey. He looked to the opposite poles of good and evil, male and female, rationality and feeling, and prescribed a route of integration of opposites as the fuel for the full development of the inner god-like potential of the Self.

His theory of the Self was that it replaced any external God with an innate sense of the inner divine. We did not need to be transformed by a God out there – because we had the inner god of the Self, in here.

These wholly un-Christian maps of the psyche and mind required unlimited self-regard, and replaced external moral agency with internal self-serving. They challenged, undermined and replaced the old Christian world view and language.

In this new world of uncritical affirmation, ‘love’ took on a new meaning. It became the insistence on accepting someone ‘as they are’, with no preconditions and no criticism. What, then, does criticism of the demanding and emerging ego constitute? Why, the opposite: ‘hate’.

In Christian vocabulary, ‘hate’ is a very terrible thing indeed. It is anti-God; the disposition of all evil. But in the psychotherapeutic landscape of neo-ethics, where the god is the ego and emerging self, ‘hate’ is anything that is anti the self.

Imagine the scenario where there are external moral demands from an external ethical source that challenged the ego’s agenda and perceived sense of need. Why, this would be anti-love; it would be hate.

And suddenly it all falls into place. If, in the name of an external morality, a Christian voice were to challenge the demands the therapised ego insisted made it happy or actualised, this Christian, or the Bible whose words the Christian was calling upon, would become ‘hate speech’.

Of course, ‘Dr Ashenden is full of hate’. Because he is not offering unconditional affirmation to the self-identified needs of the emerging ego. If love means ‘to capitulate to the demands of the ego and self, in its chosen area of need, of sexual gratification, sexual exploration, or sexual self-expression’, then failing to do so becomes hateful. Because, by definition, (therapised) love does uncritically affirm, and Dr Ashenden, in the name of the revelation in the Law, prophets and the Gospels, does not.

We discover that to the narcissist and his or her culture, all criticism is hate.

As we place these two worlds in contrast with each other, the world of Christian revelation on the one hand and the world of self-revelation on the other, key words, whose meaning we thought that we thought we all agreed upon, begin to signify very different values and meanings.

God becomes not Yahweh, or the Holy Trinity, but the primacy of the Self.

Holiness morphs slowly into wholeness; the integration of perceived ethical and gender polar opposites.

Love becomes not unending mercy, charity or forgiveness, but uncritical regard of the other, or of the Self.

Hate becomes not a diabolical anti-love, but any criticism of the Self’s proclaimed agenda of uncritical self-regard.

There is something alarmingly narcissistic in the homosexual love match: the male self, finding erotic and romantic adoration by looking in the mirror at the male self; of female gazing adoringly at the female. It is a kind of sexual and romantic extension of the narcissism of unconditional self-regard.

No wonder the prevailing therapeutised culture looks so favourably on the homosexual adventure. It is one form of narcissism protecting another.

It seems entirely possible that the children of the Culture of Limitless Self-Regard have no idea of the real meaning of Christian vocabulary.

Time and time again the Synodical proponents of CLSR bleated “but Jesus welcomes everyone”.

This Jesus, of course, is not the Jesus of the Gospel of Matthew chapter 25, who divides sheep and goats, light and dark, wheat and tares, good and evil. He is Jesus the fake therapist – fake because this Jesus never heals.

The children of this culture, having repudiated repentance and forgiveness and a universe with ethics built into its core, not only find themselves not healed, but turning on anyone who notices or challenges the narcissistic bubble with a reality check. For criticism must, by definition, be ‘hate’.

The Culture of Limitless Self-Regard has mined its memory and unconscious to release its anger and harnesses it as hate, which it directs towards any agency that suggests stoic or Christian restraint. It identifies any refusal to accept its demands for self-realisation or self-satisfaction on its own terms as hate.

The struggle in the Church is not one of compassion versus hate: it is one of revelation versus narcissism. It is astonishing that the narcissist, steeped in the language and values of uncritical self-regard, has chosen homosexuality and transgenderism as the field on which to fight authentic Christianity. But perhaps if the root of homosexuality is a form of eroticised narcissism, then perhaps there is more congruency that first appeared.

Authentic orthodox Christianity will continue to challenge this shallow heresy of self-regard and self-indulgence, not in the name of hate, but quite the opposite – in the name of the holiness and mercy of the God who came in the chaste person of His Son to set us free from the tyranny of the self and wash us clean from self-preoccupation.

The reason heresy matters, and must be fought with passion and intellectual clarity, is because heresy does not tell the truth about God or the self. And only the Truth can set us free.

  • From my Bible reading this morning:

    “Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
    who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
    who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter.”
    Isaiah 5:20

  • Doctor Crackles

    There is something alarmingly narcissistic in the homosexual love match: the male self, finding erotic and romantic adoration by looking in the mirror at the male self; of female gazing adoringly at the female. It is a kind of sexual and romantic extension of the narcissism of unconditional self-regard.

    I was thinking for a term to describe this: vicarious narcissistic love or narcissistic love by-proxy

    • Damaris Tighe

      I’m not sure a distinction is necessary. I’ve always thought of it as just narcissism. The face in the mirror may not literally be one’s own, but it’s a clone of self. In the eighties this was so striking that gay couples were often called clones.

      • Broadwood

        Liberace’s boyfriend had plastic surgery so he could look more like him.

        • Damaris Tighe

          Indeed he did. Thanks for reminding me.

  • Martin

    “In Christian vocabulary, ‘hate’ is a very terrible thing indeed. It is anti-God; the disposition of all evil. “

    Not strictly true, hence:

    And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call— she was told, The older will serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.
    (Romans 9:10-13 [ESV])

    Clearly speaks of God hating Esau. Likewise, did not God show hate for the Pharaoh in Moses time whose heart He hardened.

    I think there is something terrible going on in the CoE at the moment. We are seeing eyes being blinded to the truth and God’s judgement coming in the form of hardened hearts who hate God. The lampstand is being removed.

    • Doctor Crackles

      Hate is neither good or bad. Hating what God loves is sin as is loving what He hates. The Romans quotation is a good riposte to proponents of universal love. God is love and God is righteous. Only the righteous dwell in God’s love. Those who seek to fight hate should fight for righteousness. The CofE is not righteous, it does not compel Britain to be righteous through example, but rather brings judgment upon the whole nation through its wickedness.

      But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction. Jeremiah 17:23

    • dannybhoy

      Martin dear chap, I found this for you..

      “Biblical Hebrew lacks the necessary language to exactly define the comparative sense, i.e., ‘more than’ or ‘less than’. Instead it tends to express two things which may be comparatively of different degree like ‘first’ and ‘second’ as extremes such as ‘first’ and ‘last’. In this way love and hate whilst appearing as opposites may in fact be related but lesser terms such as ‘love more’ and ‘love less’.

      Malachi speaks of God’s preference for Jacob over Esau:
      .. yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau… (Malachi 1:2-3)
      But Esau, like Ishmael instead of Isaac, was not hated absolutely, only “rejected” as the Aramaic targum (paraphrase) prefers to render it. “Matthew 10:37)
      You can read the whole article here..
      http://www.biblicalhebrew.com/nt/lovehate.htm

      • Martin

        Danny

        Can God love the one destined to fire? If love is to wish the best for someone, what is it to condemn someone to the worst? Indeed to persecute someone?

        • dannybhoy

          Ah.
          Despite your repeated exposure to the truth found by crossing the River Jordan,
          you continue to flounder in de Nile…

          • Martin

            Danny

            So you can’t answer?

          • dannybhoy

            There is no point in answering Martin; we have been through all these things before.
            I do not believe in the doctrine of predestination for the individual whether for heaven or hell. I do not believe in irresistible grace or the total depravity of human nature.

          • Martin

            Danny

            Then what do you make of what Paul says:

            as it is written:
            None is righteous, no, not one;
            no one understands;
            no one seeks for God.
            All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
            no one does good,
            not even one.
            Their throat is an open grave;
            they use their tongues to deceive.
            The venom of asps is under their lips.
            Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.
            Their feet are swift to shed blood;
            in their paths are ruin and misery,
            and the way of peace they have not known.
            There is no fear of God before their eyes.
            (Romans 3:10-18 [ESV])

            Seems to me it indicates that Man is totally depraved and cannot help himself. Given that, the only hope is for God to intervene.

          • dannybhoy

            We’ve been there together Martin.
            This is pretty much what I believe on the issues of predestination and election..
            http://cgi.org/what-does-the-bible-say-about-predestination-and-election/

          • Martin

            Danny

            So tell me, how do you square that with the passage I quoted. It tells us that the natural man cannot do anything to please God. Now turning to God and seeking His mercy is surely a good thing in God’s eyes but the natural man cannot do a good thing. So how can the natural man turn to God of his own accord?

            Curiously the article you quote steps over Romans 3:10-18 and quotes v23, ignoring what Paul is summing up. Why is that, does it destroy the argument over total depravity, that the natural man, in every part, is opposed to God?

          • dannybhoy

            from http://evangelicalarminians.org/exegeting-romans-310-18/

            “Paul chooses harsh passages from the Psalms, Ecclesiastes and Isaiah, which magnify the sinfulness and depravity of certain human beings or people groups, in order to expose all people, Jews and Greeks, for their lack of inherent righteousness, which is what everyone needs in order to be declared innocent or guiltless before God. This is true not only for Gentiles but also for Jews — something which Jews did not particularly appreciate, since they considered themselves God’s elect or chosen people.”

            I think this article is also worth your reading time Martin..
            “The word of God properly understood does not contradict itself. When we find some statement which is an apparent discrepancy, which fly in the face of the general tenor of the Scriptures, we should neither expose our ignorance in the wrong use of it, nor practice wrong in “handling the word of God deceitfully.”

            http://www.biblical-theology.net/There%20is%20None%20righteous.htm

            The thing is that for me this is a non-issue now. That salvation is offered freely by a holy and compassionate God to every man and woman is clear throughout the two Testaments.
            That God has given man free will to make choices for good or evil and that He pleads with man to repent of his sin and rebellion is equally clear throughout Scripture.

          • Martin

            Danny

            Salvation is offered freely, but none will come.They have given their free will away to their sin, they are now the slaves of their sin and their sin will not allow them to turn to God. As Paul says:

            And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
            (Ephesians 2:1-7 [ESV])

            It’s very simple, we are dead, we cannot please God, we cannot turn to God. But God makes the sinner alive and saves them.

          • dannybhoy

            Have a look at this Martin..
            http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/are-there-two-wills-in-god
            The man kind of agrees with you..
            To me it’s playing intellectual games..
            It is hearing the word of God (the Scriptures)

            Romans 10 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition
            4 But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? 15 And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ 16 But not all have obeyed the good news;[c] for Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’ 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.[d]

            So we accept that salvation is of God, but we still have to respond.
            Else, what is the point of our Lord’s parable..
            Luke 8:5-15New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition (NRSVACE)

            5 ‘A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. 6 Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. 7 Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. 8 Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.’ As he said this, he called out, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’

            The Purpose of the Parables
            9 Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets[a] of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak[b] in parables, so that

            “looking they may not perceive,
            and listening they may not understand.”
            The Parable of the Sower Explained
            11 ‘Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away. 14 As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.

            That’s good enough for me, and so I pray and worship, ask for the continued anointing of the Holy Spirit and seek to share my faith through my life and words.

          • Martin

            Danny

            You will, of course, have noted that it is only where the soil has been prepared that the seed flourishes. Where no preparation has occurred there is no crop. So who is it that does the preparation of the soil, who is it that changes the soil from:

            as it is written:
            None is righteous, no, not one;
            no one understands;
            no one seeks for God.
            All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
            no one does good,
            not even one.
            Their throat is an open grave;
            they use their tongues to deceive.
            The venom of asps is under their lips.
            Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.
            Their feet are swift to shed blood;
            in their paths are ruin and misery,
            and the way of peace they have not known.
            There is no fear of God before their eyes.
            (Romans 3:10-18 [ESV])

            to a place where the word of God is received with joy?

            And where does faith come from:

            For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
            (Ephesians 2:8-9 [ESV])

            faith is the gift of God.

          • dannybhoy

            “So who is it that does the preparation of the soil, who is it that changes the soil from:”
            Hearing the word, some kind of exposure to Christian -or in this case Jewish teaching. People praying for you. Your own conscience and intellectual reflections.
            Salvation is 100% of the Lord.
            Sanctification is 100% guided and enabled by the Holy Spirit
            But God expects a response from us, an acceptance of the truths He confronts us with through the Holy Spirit.

          • Martin

            Danny

            So what does the soil represent? Surely it is the heart of the sinner. And the only one who can change the heart is God. Thus it is God who prepares the soil for the seed.

            If you say God expects a response from us you are denying that salvation is 100% from God, because unless you respond there is no salvation.

          • dannybhoy

            Indeed the heart of the sinner, but is God playing a game here. is He talking in riddles?

            Jeremiah 29 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition
            10 For thus says the Lord: Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfil to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

            Ezekiel 33 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition
            7 So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 8 If I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked ones, you shall surely die’, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. 9 But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.

            and further on in the same chapter..
            Ezekiel 33New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition
            10 Now you, mortal, say to the house of Israel, Thus you have said: ‘Our transgressions and our sins weigh upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we live?’ 11 Say to them, As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?

            In all humility I think your problem is Martin, that you are putting your theological beliefs above the clear teachings of Scripture; even if that means our God plays games with us, hiding His true intentions and denying that He gave us free will.

    • Anton

      I think you’ll find that ‘hate’ in English Bibles corresponds in most cases to indifference rather than the opposite of love. The modern usage of hate is really “love turned sour”.

      • Martin

        Anton

        Why then did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? What is hate but rejection, thus God loved Jacob but rejected, that is hated, Esau.

        • Anton

          Someone whose heart is hardened typically displays indifference. But please check the original Greek and Hebrew words translated as Hate.

          • Martin

            Anton

            Pharaoh didn’t display indifference, rather he displayed hatred and enmity.

          • Anton

            Agreed. But it’s not the principal meaning of the words in the original language – do yourself a favour and check this!

          • Martin

            Anton

            Strongs says:

            8130 sane’ saw-nay’ a primitive root; to hate (personally):–enemy, foe, (be) hate(-ful, -r), odious, X utterly.

            and the Greek:

            3404 miseo mis-eh’-o from a primary misos (hatred); to detest (especially to persecute); by extension, to love less:–hate(-ful).

            So it seems to me it means hate.

  • I tend to look upon hate-speech speech as a form of false dialectic.
    If you disagree with me you are a hater and therefore your arguments need not be answered. Moreover you are homophobic, transphobic, islamaphobic, xenophobic (delete as appropriate) so you are a priori mentally ill and irrational, and therefore your arguments need not be answered.
    .
    Hate-speech speech is basically a bullying into silence; an attempt to muzzle the voice of truth, and as such it must be resisted. But as Dr Ashenden has discovered, it is not without a certain cost. However,

    ‘Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets. But………woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets’
    (Luke 6:22-24, 26).

  • Sarky

    This isn’t rocket science. To me it seems that people without the intellect to have a reasoned debate, use ‘hate’ to shut down a conversation before their position is compromised.
    Most people appear to get their opinions in 140 characters from twitter and haven’t researched and digested why they have that opinion. When they come up against anyone with a well reasoned and thoughtful counter argument they crumple like a cheap suit
    and play the ‘hate’ card.
    I don’t know how to counter this, but bringing back debating in schools may be a start.

    • Doctor Crackles

      Our parliamentary system came out from an age where gentlemen would fight to the death over a matter of honour. It seems we do not know about respect and cannot handle having opinions challenged. A bad combination.

      • Anton

        Jesus never (physically) fought anybody to the death over his honour. Honour = Pride.

        • Sarky

          He smashed up the temple.

          • Anton

            He didn’t touch a stone of it. He got some profiteers out of one of its courts by stampeding the animals they were selling. And it wasn’t for his honour, either.

          • Sarky

            12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’[a] but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’[b]”

          • Anton

            Yes, as I said: He didn’t touch a stone of the Temple. He got some profiteers out of one of its courts by stampeding the animals they were selling. And it wasn’t for his honour, either.

          • dannybhoy

            But this is progress, Anton!
            Our dearly beloved cynic and critic is quoting Scripture..

          • Pubcrawler

            As Jerome and Hilary of Poitiers both observed, Scripture is not in the reading but in the understanding.

          • Chefofsinners

            Except for the book of Revelation, which contains a blessing specifically on those who read.
            Wasn’t it Sidney of Poitiers?

          • Sarky

            I know it, don’t have to believe it though.

          • dannybhoy

            Of course you don’t Sarks.

        • Doctor Crackles

          Duelling related to trial by combat, which was part of our common law. It was at one point a lawful way to resolve a matter. I am not saying that we should return to it, but that it would have engendered a certain kind of respect among gentlemen in the knowledge that certain behaviours could have fatal consequences.

          • Anton

            A gun-carrying culture does have some advantages.

          • Doctor Crackles

            Agree.

            I guess my point was that society seems to be less respectful and more sensitive to insult at the same time.

    • dannybhoy

      I think Gavin explains it extremely well Sarks. There is no external God. I am my own god. I may be a work in progress, but I am still a god and therefore no one has the right to criticise or correct me. No one can tell me how I must live, and I have no need to justify my inconsistencies or failings to anyone.
      As Mao himself is supposed to have said,
      “Let a thousand egos bloom..”

      • Sarky

        I don’t really have a problem with that. If i live my life within the law, who are you to criticise my chosen lifestyle?
        What i have a problem with is ‘any’ god being forced onto someone else.

        • Anton

          Agreed. Real Christianity is voluntary, and as soon as anybody forces it, it ceases to be real Christianity. You neglect the question of what the law should be, though.

          • Sarky

            The law of the land.

          • Anton

            Yes, but what laws do you want, and why?

          • Sarky

            Sorry i don’t understand what you’re getting at.
            I am saying that if i live my life without breaking any laws, then it’s my business how i do that.

          • Anton

            You are thereby making the Lawmaking authorities into a god. But there can be good laws and bad laws, as you surely recognise whenever you vote.

            If the law permits the killing of unwanted newborns and you did it (I’m not saying you would – this is an example) then I would consider it my business too in my choice of words to you.

          • Sarky

            How am i making authorities into a god? They are democratically elected?? That’s not how gods work.
            With regards to your second paragraph, we live in a democracy, my vote my choice. If you start telling me how to vote you’re getting into very dodgy territory.

          • Anton

            I’m not. A democracy makes the people into god, by the way. Do you think it is ever right to break the law? Any law, anywhere?

          • Sarky

            Depends how hypothetical you’re going to get.

          • Anton

            No, it’s an issue for someone with your “obey the law whatever” position.

          • dannybhoy
          • Sarky

            If we require God to know what is immoral and what is moral actions, then God cannot say we have a moral failing if we don’t worship Him.
            If this life is a moral test, then God cannot punish us for failing it if we have to randomly choose the right morals. It only makes sense to punish a person if he ought to have known he was acting improperly.

          • Chefofsinners

            Does the word ‘tautology’ mean anything to you?

          • Sarky

            I understand the concept and I’m aware of its meaning.

          • Albert

            If this life is a moral test, then God cannot punish us for failing it if we have to randomly choose the right morals. It only makes sense to punish a person if he ought to have known he was acting improperly.

            Agreed. What’s this got to do with Christianity?

          • Martin

            Sarky

            This life isn’t a moral test, if it were we’d have all failed anyway.

        • Albert

          Yes, but Sarky, you criticise the Christian lifestyle, do you not? And I defend your right to do so. The problem I have is not in people having the right to live their chosen lifestyle, but in their denying everyone else the right to criticise their chosen lifestyle.

          • Sarky

            Isnt that what i was saying?

          • Albert

            What is the point of criticism if not to change? Besides, why shouldn’t people attempt to change behaviour they object to? Provided people do not use force, what’s the problem? That’s what it is to live in a free society.

          • Sarky

            Tell that to the gay bakers.

          • Albert

            They wickedly used coercion against someone else’s conscience. There’s no defence for that.

          • Sarky

            Or they ‘tried to change behaviour they objected to’.

          • Albert

            Yes, by force of law.

          • Sarky

            Not initially.

          • Albert

            But eventually. And it’s the use of force, one way or another, that is wrong. Now your objection was to Christians instead of just criticising that which they disagree with, also attempting to change others. But then you raised the Ashers and it became clear that the homosexuals involved not only criticised, but also attempted to change, and not only to change but to use force to do so. So what you complained of, turns out to be what goes on on your own side, and not on ours.

    • CliveM

      Agree Sarky. I would only add that Twitter also seems to encourage an unhealthy amount of virtue signalling. All your contacts immediately brought up to date with how moral and righteous you are!!

      • dannybhoy

        The word Twitter invites all kinds of word play don’t you think?
        I personally believe it creates an unhealthy form of instant remote communication which may lead to misunderstanding, instant dislike, anger and frustration…
        (Danny fingers are communicating sheer venom right now through his keypad…)

        • CliveM

          Yep hate Twitter as well.

          • Hi

            Can’t stand it. Horrible thing Twitter .

          • Pubcrawler

            Hate the twit, not the twitter.

  • Martin Sewell

    Dr Ashenden makes several very good points but one very bad one.

    For what if the love between two people of the same sex is not a ( post 1963) existential choice but an expression of true God made character?

    One of the best contributions within the General Synod debate was made by Priscilla White who explored the poetic binary form within Genesis.

    God made Night and Day, Land and Sea – but did he not also make the twighlight, dawn and dusk; were not the marshes and swamplands – with all their biodiversity – also not made by God and was not the gradation and the area of the ill defined margin also good?

    In the same way male and female may follow the binary of the poetic expression but does that necessarily exclude what lies between?

    It is a thought worth taking seriously.

    • Love between two people of the same sex is an expression of true God made character. But not sexual love. Why not? Apart from the fact that scripture is clear it is not, there is the key point that sex exists in nature for procreation, as do the sexes themselves. Procreation is the raison d’etre of sex and the sexes. Were it not for sexual reproduction there would be no sexes and no sex. Sex has other purposes, too. But the fundamental purpose is necessarily procreation, for otherwise it would not exist in nature. Hence same-sex attraction cannot be part of the natural created order that God declared good; it must be a consequence of the fall and its dysfunction and disorder.

      So you see scripture and reason agree. When scripture says that homosexuality is unnatural, it knows what it is talking about.

      • Sarky

        Yet there a numerous examples of it in the natural world.

        • Doctor Crackles

          ‘Homosexual’ animals still procreate.

          • Sarky

            And your point is??? Whether they procreate or not, they still exhibit homosexual behaviour.

          • Bisexual behaviour.

          • Doctor Crackles

            They do not exhibit exclusive sexual practices. It is also interesting that with animals we focus on acts. This used to be the case with homosexuality and laws were passed against buggery. The goal-posts have been shifted and it is about identity now. That said, the homosexual virgin still can only be found at the end of the rainbow.

          • bluedog

            Care to mention specific animals that you have seen yourself acting in a homosexual fashion?

        • There are examples of animals which in addition to procreative activity also engage in homosexual activity. But they don’t lack attraction to the opposite sex in some kind of gay identity. They are more casually bisexual than gay. All of nature is fallen. You could try to argue from this for casual bisexuality. But we don’t take our sexual ethics from other animals. We have a standard of faithful monogamy, rooted in the needs of our young and our own fundamental psychology. Casual sex for us is infidelity and adultery. That’s because, unlike animals, we know the moral law and how it applies to human beings.

        • Martin

          Sarky

          Creation is broken & displays the result. There are also animals that eat their mates and/or young. Are you saying that is a good thing?

          • Sarky

            From a human perspective no. From an evolutionary perspective yes.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            So demonstrate the descent of all life from the original life. We’ll wait.

        • Chefofsinners

          Rabbits eat their babies.

        • Dominic Stockford

          The natural world is as fallen and damaged by sin as is mankind.

        • magnolia

          There are also examples of females that eat their mates after the act. Almost no one sees this as an excuse for doing likewise!

          By any standard it is not numerous in nature but unusual, and often runs together with disordered society, environment, or brain function.

    • dannybhoy

      Isn’t that another way of saying,
      “And God said, Anything goes…”

    • Actually, it’s not a thought worth taking seriously.
      Firstly because the Bible does not invariably, or even usually, equate ‘love’ with genital acts.
      Secondly, God did not say that twilight, dawn and dusk, marshes and swampland were ‘abominations.’

      • Mike Stallard

        David loved Jonathan.
        There is no record of his bonking him though.
        Achilles loved Patroclus.
        There is no record of them bonking.
        I thought Achilles’ sulk was down to having his girl taken off him! So was he really a closet gay?

        We give thanks to Sigmund Freud for confusing the deep friendships which are utterly biblical and, yes, the fount of literature with having a bonk and calling it marriage.

      • But shellfish are abominations as well. I don’t see anyone here going mad over people eating prawns and lobster. Or pork for that matter.

        • Pubcrawler

          “But shellfish are abominations as well.”

          Absolutely!

          • Chefofsinners

            Yes, I think Gavin’s whole point is that we shouldn’t be shellfish.

          • Pubcrawler

            Quite. We should develop a backbone.

          • CliveM

            But tasty

          • Pubcrawler

            Only in the case of oyster stout.

          • CliveM

            What on earth is oyster stout?!

          • Pubcrawler

            What it says. Stout flavoured with oysters.

          • CliveM

            Really! Well I’ve learnt something new.

            Can’t say it appeals. Still as I haven’t tried it mustn’t judge.

        • John

          In the NT all foods were declared clean and the way of salvation was opened for Gentiles. The Holy Spirit confirmed this change was from God with signs and wonders authenticating it. Acts 10 and 11. This gives a decisive hermeneutical answer to the rather tiresomely repeted argument ‘if God is against gay intercourse, why are we eating prawns?’ When churches ditch centuries of teaching on homosexuality, as in The Episcopal Church in the USA, the Holy Spirit confirms this is not from God as membership tanks, churches close and there are no signs or wonders to be seen.

        • CliveM

          Hmmmmprawns, scallops, lobster, crab…….

          Yummy

          • Hi

            How can you endorse sin like that!

          • CliveM

            Cos it’s tasty

        • Albert

          I’m afraid that argument doesn’t work against Christians, Hannah.

        • Dominic Stockford

          Shellfish aren’t abominations, they just shouldn’t be eaten. A tad different.

          • Hi

            King James version of Leviticus, if it helps :

            “10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:

            11 They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.

            12 Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.

            13 And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,”

        • On that basis every sin and vice is allowed, including murder, lying and theft, because shellfish are allowed. To read the Bible looking for loopholes is worse than not reading it at all.
          .
          But the dietary laws are fulfilled in Christ and overturned in the New Testament (eg. Mark 7:18-20; Acts 10:10-15; Romans 14:14). The Moral Law is upheld in the N.T. (Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 etc.).

          • Hi

            “On that basis” …. where did I suggest you could according to Torah eat shellfish..why nowhere .

    • Doctor Crackles

      Are you saying that homosexuals are swamp-dwelling people of the half-light? Cannot imagine anyone being happy with that description.

    • Martin

      Martin

      And God said, Let there be light, and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
      (Genesis 1:3-5 [ESV])

      Seems to me that dawn and dusk are included, evening and morning. Perhaps this is yet another weird idea for explaining away the Creation.

      • Sarky

        God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day (Genesis 1:5).

        The sun, it seems, was not created until the fourth day.

        Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years (Genesis 1:14).

        Creating light before the sun seems a better way for explaining away the creation.

        • Dominic Stockford

          Light before Sun actually points us to the power of god, and links this passage with the final ones in the Book of Revelation where we read:

          “And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”

          • Sarky

            Sorry doesn’t make sense. If it was the power of god why not call it that? The passage specifically says “god called the light day”.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            And where’s the problem?

          • Sarky

            Really?

          • Anton

            Martin (or anybody)

            What’s your view of the deep over which the Spirit of God hovered? This seems to be before the creation of the sea. It’s a question as tough for evangelicals who take the short timescale like you as the long, like me. I welcome all constructive comments.

          • Martin

            Anton

            I’ve seen a suggestion that in its primeval state the Earth was covered with water. Ties in with the waters above the expanse that expands & forms the stars and planets.

        • Broadwood

          Figures, we know our sun is relatively young in cosmic terms.

          • Martin

            ~6k years old

        • Martin

          Sarky

          God is quite capable of providing a substitute for the Sun, until it is created.

          • Sarky

            Are you joking???
            Even you must see that this makes no sense.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            No, I’m not joking & it makes every sense.

          • Sarky

            No it doesnt!!!!! If god could create light without the sun, why create the sun?
            Come on Martin, even you must see the stupidity in your position.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            There is no ‘if’ about it, and why should God not create the Sun? After all, He created a lot of things He didn’t need to create, you for example.

          • Sarky

            Shoot me now. I give you a prime example of a contradiction that you say doesn’t exist, i then point out to you how ridiculous it would be for god to create a sun that he didn’t need to and still you can’t (or refuse) to see it.
            There is no reason or logic to your position, are you that indoctrinated that you have have become blind?

          • Martin

            Sarky

            God doesn’t need you, yet He created you. Why should it be any different with the Sun? God chose, of His own free will, to create the Sun. Need doesn’t enter into it.

          • Sarky

            Arhhhhhhhhhhhh

        • Anna

          “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” (Revelation 21:23)

          • Sarky

            That means nothing. Explain to me why god would create light, then create the sun which he clearly didn’t need to. IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE.

    • IanCad

      Martin,
      When you resort to such codswallop as to make void the Word of God by the usage of the “Poetic Binary” to meld light with dark and good with evil in order to promote a very unhealthy union, then something is very much amiss.

      • bluedog

        At least you understood what MS was on about.

        • IanCad

          Not necessarily so BD. I made a stab at it. Hogwash is based on complication and confusion – I took it from there.

      • Dominic Stockford

        I believe that the Fall not the Creation has a lot to do with the ‘bad stuff’.

    • Anton

      Have you a link for Priscilla White’s words, please?

      The created earth was without structure and empty (Genesis 1:2), and this is the key to what happened next. An unspecified time after the Creation came three yom in which God imposed structure by differentiating light from dark, then above (sky) from below (sea), then land from sea. Then came three yom in which he filled the emptiness, populating the heavens with stars, the sky and sea with birds and fish, and the land with animals and humans – with life, in all its diversity, activity, intricacy and tenacity. In context, Genesis 1:2 is best translated as “the earth was unstructured and unpopulated.”

      • Gregory Morris

        I am looking at the other references to tohu in Brown Driver and Briggs (they do not offer any etymology except a weak connection to Arabic tyh – desert although Deuteronomy 32 has a useful parallelism: midbar – desert = tohu – wasteland.) The contrast seems to be between disorder and order or shapelessness and shape. I fear our civilisation is now a dreary waste but Bunyan felt the same long before the advent of trendy C of E clerics.

  • Anton

    Somebody ought to write a book, “Preaching to a Narcissist Generation”.

    All preaching is a matter of questioning the other in order to force reflection, then drip-feeding the bits of the gospel into the resulting gap. What questions should be asked to teenage narcissists?

    I’m not sure, but I think I’d start by trading on fear that society might change radically for the worse in various ways. Most teens have very little hope today.

    • Mike Stallard

      Marriage? – made into a mockery. Family? Totally separated from sex, children come first. (Except after separation.) Relationships are founded on the mud of how people feel about each other at the time. House? Too expensive. Job? Sorry, I have a Degree and know how to pass exams.
      And do I have anger issues? You betcha!

  • Mike Stallard

    I left the CoE in 1989 because of the consecration of a divorcee as a bishop by Archbishop Spong. The arguments in favour are accurately set forth above. She needed fulfilment. Well, she has got it!
    The payment? Well, just read St Paul and see how the Biblical teaching has been overturned. But – hey – it stood in the way of personal fulfilment!
    Now, cast off from the historic text there is nothing to stop other people wanting their share of personal development too, is there.

    • Damaris Tighe

      It was striking that the argument for women’s ordination seemed to be wholly about fulfilment – appealing to the desire, ambition and narcissism of women..

      • Anton

        Much the same as male ordination setting apart sacrament-dispensers 17 centuries earlier!

        • katyll

          No, men leading the church is actually Biblical. I realize you’ve never cracked open a Testament, New or Old, in your entire life. Really, the Internet isn’t a good substitute.

          • Pubcrawler

            You know what they say about ‘assume’?

          • Anton

            Men should lead the church. Where did I say otherwise? Ordination is what I am complaining about. You need to stop making assumptions about people that go beyond what they say.

      • Martin

        To the woman he said,
        I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
        in pain you shall bring forth children.
        Your desire shall be for your husband,
        and he shall rule over you.

        (Genesis 3:16 [ESV]) emphasis mine.

        • Sarky

          What a lovely god you have.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            The penalty matched the crime.

        • The Snail

          Galatians 3:28 “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus”.

          Isn’t this the Christian view? Would Jesus perhaps have said “You have heard it said in old times “your husband, shall rule over you but I say ot you there is no longer male and female”

          • Martin

            But Jesus did not say that and the same Paul who wrote Galatians 3:28 also wrote:

            I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.
            (I Timothy 2:12-14 [ESV])

            What Paul is saying in your quote is that salvation comes to all, not that all have the same role.

    • Pubcrawler

      Not for the first time, I have to wonder whatever happened to ‘nolo episcopari’…

  • Broadwood

    “The struggle in the Church is not one of compassion versus hate: it is one of revelation versus narcissism”

    Bang on.

    • Linus

      Project your idealised self onto the world, fall to your knees and worship it. That’s Christianity. The very epitome of narcissism.

      • Doctor Crackles

        The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of world?

        • Linus

          God has a little lamb?

          And here was I thinking it was Mary…

          Of course one assumes its fleece is white as snow and that everywhere god goes, the lamb is sure to go too. Which means it must turn in confused circles looking for this invisible deity it’s supposed to follow. At which point the farmer will cull it and burn the carcass because the poor thing clearly has scrapy and isn’t even fit to be dropped in the mincer.

          There you go – your messiah is now ashes on an agricultural bonfire. Let’s see him resurrect his way out of that one.

      • Anton

        Did God invent man or did man invent God? Discuss…

        • Sarky

          Im a creationist..i believe man created god.

          • Chefofsinners

            Who created man?

          • Sarky

            No-one.

          • Chefofsinners

            How can something come from nothing?

          • Sarky

            Really??? The old christian default position.

          • Chefofsinners

            And the answer is?

          • Sarky

            Just Google it. I really haven’t got the time to go into it.

          • Chefofsinners

            Google it yourself and think about what you get.
            Perhaps if you don’t have time, then time will spontaneously form out of nothing, creating time and anti-time in equal measure.

          • dannybhoy

            Shame on you Sarky! The Chef asks a perfectly logical question and you duck it.
            There are only two possibilities, either it was an act of sheer, unexplainable magic and that’s as far as you and others want to go..
            Or there is a Being way beyond man’s understanding, dwelling outside of time, uncreated, without beginning or end, who spoke it into existence.
            As the Bible says.

          • Sarky
      • dannybhoy

        The “It’s all about ME and what I have suffered and why I feel compelled to keep boring the socks off people with my predictable rants”
        might be nearer the mark Linus.

      • Broadwood

        You’ve got it exactly backwards, as usual. Projection, much?

      • Martin

        Linus

        No, that’s what you do.

      • Inspector General

        Narcissus the character from the Greek myths was openly homosexual. How could he not be?

      • Chefofsinners

        When he said “bang on”, I don’t think it was meant as an invitation.

  • seansaighdeoir

    I think this is an excellent article with much thought provoking analysis.

    The only idea I would take exception with is that within Jungian psychology there are various levels of the ego.

    The ego as expressed above in a purely ‘self’ centered ideal is not something commended I think by Jung. Moreover the ego can have healthy connotations and must be nurtured if the individual is to grow healthily and avoid some of the worst expressions described above.

    That idea is often borne out by the old examples of homosexuality being prevalent in boys with over bearing mothers and weak absent fathers. I think this idea is largely as a result of the times dismissed today but like a lot of other stereotypes has a seed of truth to it.

    What father doesn’t want his children to have strong positive role models.

    The forced role of feminism on society and the ‘rejection’ of male culture and male traits is already playing out as we witness the destructive results of leaders failure to act in response to threats to our culture and way of life.

    Never before have we been served by such weakness and vapidity in public life and have yet to witness further results of the demonisation of our culture and men in particular and the effect of such policy.

    The establishment must acknowledge this cognitive dissonance.

    Why else would the left align such bedfellows as Islam and ‘Pride’ in its destructive pursuit of Christianity if not driven by such overpowering hate?

    A hate that it fails to understand is mutually exclusive to forces it martials and will prove ultimately destructive to itself?

    • “That idea is often borne out by the old examples of homosexuality being prevalent in boys with over bearing mothers and weak absent fathers. I think this idea is largely as a result of the times dismissed today but like a lot of other stereotypes has a seed of truth to it.”

      I think it’s still true in cases today. An acquaintance of mine is one of three children had a loving but very domineering and bossy mother, the father wasn’t that weak or absent but was dominated by the mother. The first born son is a homosexual. My acquaintance a female, married and had two children the firstborn being a son. She is also a loving but, intensely domineering, bossy and controlling wife and mother. The father is present and I wouldn’t say weak, but he does as he’s told. Turns out the son is also a homosexual, so there has got to be some seeds of truth in this theory.

  • Mark Downham

    Gavin Ashenden is a man of true Christian Principle, Resilience, Faith, Anointing, Fortitude and Grace and all Evangelicals should be proud to be associated with him – this Phineas (Numbers 25:7-13) of the present moment.

    Genesis 49:22-24 New International Version (NIV)

    22 “Joseph is a fruitful vine,
    a fruitful vine near a spring,
    whose branches climb over a wall.
    23 With bitterness archers attacked him;
    they shot at him with hostility.
    24 But his bow remained steady,
    his strong arms stayed[b] limber,
    because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
    because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,

  • katyll

    Dr. Ashenden is an astonishingly intelligent, erudite man. I don’t doubt his passion for the church. The thing that this article brings up is a question I’ve had since I saw a seminary at my now-public, formerly private university: what do people do in a seminary in a school that celebrates atheism? A teacher finally explained that they study the Bible to rip it apart.

    I guess I thought that studying the word of God and bringing the Good News to people was enough of a calling for one lifetime. I mean, it is the basis for Dr. Ashenden’s beliefs, right? Then maybe it’s time to get back to basics. Or maybe, in view of this article and recent history, it’s way too late for that.

  • Albert

    Why always this accusation of hate?

    Because it is easier, and more effective, than providing an argument.

    • Rip van Wrinkle

      Read up on Saul Alinsky and his ‘rules for radicals’. Just three below: –

      (1) “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s
      irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force
      the enemy into concessions. (Pretty crude, rude and mean, huh? They want to
      create anger and fear.)

      (2) “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the
      opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from
      the flank with something new.

      (Attack, attack, attack from all sides, never giving the reeling
      organization a chance to rest, regroup, recover and re-strategize.)

      (3) Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the
      support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not
      institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very
      effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.) Be Sociable,
      Share!

  • Royinsouthwest

    Many people are offended by political correctness but to the powers that be that does not matter. There is obviously an order of precedence when it comes to being offended but it does not seem to have been written down. This should be something for Debretts to publish.

    Incidentally when I googled “order of precedence” I was outraged to discover that there are separate orders of precedence for “ladies” and “gentlemen” but none at all for all the other genders! Don’t they know it is 2017?

  • John

    This is why General Synod should be abolished. Entrusting the future direction of the Church of England to people who rage at truth is like appointing Hannibal Lecter as head of catering.

  • Chris Bell

    I have to say that it was the writings of Jung that revealed the truth of Christ in infinitely greater depth than any theology. Why? Because real Knowledge is experiential and not intellectual. The intellect serves and this is its proper place……and not the master. If kept in this perspective the wonderful power of rationality explains what is beyond words. But in no way does it usurp experience. The mystery continues but ‘knowingly’. It is not surprising then that ’empiricism’ is a more subtle thing when dealing with Jung. This experience is not of the sensations but of a knowledge that cannot be proved yet cannot be denied.

    • “I feel and experience, therefore I am”? Phenomenology has it limitations if separated from revealed, objective Truth and reason.

  • Chefofsinners

    Psychotherapists are people who specialise in giving advice to those who are happier than they are. They prey on a sick world, selling their snake oil to the most vulnerable.
    Once a person discovers the joy of laying down self and loving the Lord their God with all their heart and soul and strength, they are indeed set free.

    • Sarky
      • Chefofsinners

        I don’t doubt that depression is an illness. I doubt psychotherapists who prescribe a focus on self as the cure. It is more likely the cause.

        • Sarky

          Erm i think it’s a mental illness, nothing to do with ‘self’.
          People being told to rely on prayer for treatment is a much more frightening proposition.

          • Chefofsinners

            Have you read Gavin’s article? It is about whether we seek happiness in satisfying self or in God and others.

          • Dominic Stockford

            It seems that we are back on a debate about depression again, I seem to remember this happening some time ago and an ‘august’ member (not you) of this forum made a fool of himself.

            There are two types of depression, clinical and non-clinical. Clinical Depression does indeed seem to have as part of its cause a change in chemical balances in the brain (some would have it that this occurs once in the state, but I would demur). It is awful, and requires a lot of work, and some correct medication, to enable such people to function, let alone move on through the problem. I woudl agree that this is indeed ‘mental illness’.

            There is also the modern term ‘depression’ for the non-clinical type, which is really about being ‘a bit down about things’. The cause for this is directly linked to inaccurate expectations of life, and a poor view of self, either being over-confident and falling, or being under-confident and wallowing. This is best treated by encouraging people to get out of themselves and get involved in the world. From a Christian perspective this also involves moving one’s concentration onto God, and being God-centred, not self-centred.

          • Been reading women’s magazines?

          • Sarky

            I think you’re being far too simplistic. What about post traumatic depression? Not clinical, but definately not self centred. Christians meddling with mental health issues makes me deeply uncomfortable.

          • Chefofsinners

            Non-Christians meddling with mental health issues makes me deeply uncomfortable.

          • Jack shares that discomfort. However, it’s too simplistic to suggest all non-Christian therapists encourage narcissism and selfishness.
            Have a read:

            https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-therapy/201109/the-varieties-religious-therapy-introduction

          • Anton

            Dominic, chemical changes in the brain are consequences, not causes.

          • Yes and no; some are and some are not.

          • CliveM

            Good summary.

          • Except it’s wrong!

          • CliveM

            It’s not comprehensive.

        • What do you mean by “focus on self”? Not all psychotherapists are secular. The true self aims at cooperating with grace to become what God created to us to be – selfless. And the mind can put barriers in the way of this. For example, our consciences need to be developed and life experiences can deform them and our capacity to understand and be receptive to God and to others. What do you think this means:

          “And if anyone hurts the conscience of one of these little ones, that believe in me, he had better have been drowned in the depths of the sea, with a mill-stone hung about his neck. Woe to the world, for the hurt done to consciences! It must needs be that such hurt should come, but woe to the man through whom it comes!”

    • Albert

      There’s no doubt that there is plenty of quackery in psychology. But there’s also plenty of quackery in religion. You can infer that either is all bad from those who are quackers.

      • Chefofsinners

        The issue here is about the fundamental orientation of psychology towards self, but Christianity towards the worship of God and the happiness of others.

        • Albert

          I’m not so sure. Psychology depends on the kind of anthropology it rests on. Some may be secular, but not all. Besides, grace perfects nature it does not abolish it. There is nothing wrong with making nature work better – that’s all a secular doctor does. Why should mental health be different?

          • “Besides, grace perfects nature it does not abolish it.”
            Exactly, although some protestants believe grace covers nature rather than transforms it.

          • Albert

            Or, since they think there is no free will, they think grace abolishes nature. They’re so confused.

          • Until this sub-thread Jack didn’t fully appreciate just how dark some protestant views of human nature really are and their full impact on soteriology and the nature of God. Scary.

          • Albert

            It’s pathological, I’m afraid. However, I’m not completely sure that the Protestants commenting actually believe what it sounds like they believe. The trouble is that it does appear to be a corollary of their position.

          • Anton

            It is vital that you understand Romans correctly. Vital. This is like reading a dialogue of the deaf.

          • As Jack said, these views are dark and contradict what has been revealed about the true nature of God – His Love, Justice and Mercy – and His creation. Romans cannot be “understood” in isolation from all of scripture.

            Albert has decisively exposed the fallacies in your interpretation. Answer his points and not my acknowledgement of this.

          • Chefofsinners

            Grace does not perfect nature, it imparts a new nature.
            Romans 6:6 “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;”
            And Galatians 5: 17-24:
            “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
            But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”

            There are Christian psychologists, but they are, of course, disdained by the mainstream of the profession even as the darkness hates the light.

          • Albert

            Nature, is just what you are Chefofsinners. If grace does not perfect nature, but imparts a new nature, what has happened to the original nature that is you? It looks to me like you get abolished. But that can’t be what you mean. If you think God saves us then you agree with me, even if the language is different.

          • Chefofsinners

            Read all about it in Romans chapter 7.

          • Albert

            What specifically in Romans chapter 7 implies we are abolished rather than saved by grace?

          • Chefofsinners

            It does not. It describes how two natures live within us, warring one against the other.

          • Albert

            But this is a metaphor is it not? We don’t actually have two natures – only Christ has two natures. What we have is one nature, which, left to itself sins – this scripture calls the flesh. Then we have the grace of God working within us, recreating us and drawing us to righteousness. For example:

            that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith

            Now obviously, there isn’t literally an inner man, as if every man is two men, or as if, at the moment of grace a second man is created within in parallel with the man that I am. Neither model would see God save me. Rather God is recreating me from the inside out. Similarly, the heart Paul mentions here, where Christ dwells is the same heart as before, only now it has Christ dwelling in it. I can use a metaphor and say I have new heart (Ez.36.26) and that I am a new man, but these are clearly metaphors for the change that takes place in Christ. I am being changed, not replaced. Hence, grace is perfecting nature.

          • Chefofsinners

            No. It is not a metaphor, it is a reality. We are indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit, which strives with our own nature and leads us towards holiness.

          • Albert

            The problem here is the word “nature”. I use it to mean the person God has created. This nature, without grace, will sin. But with grace this nature is perfected. You seem to be using nature perhaps to mean only the behaviour or the weakness. To give you a sense of what I mean, Christ has two natures: divine and human. His human nature is not obliterated by his divine nature, but rather is perfected by it:

            Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered

            Now if you say we have two natures using the language thus, you would appear to be saying something like we also are God incarnate. But you surely don’t mean that. You mean what I mean, I should think, that when God saves us, he saves us, he gives us a new behaviour by grace.

            The reason all this is relevant is that all those natural things (in my sense) are not destroyed. I remain me and you remain you. I keep my natural gifts and you keep yours. Supposing I am good at music or painting, by grace, I dedicate my nature gifts to glorifying God in my music or artwork. Thus nature (music, artwork) is perfected by grace (I sing God’s praises or depict his beauty in art). By nature Saul used is intelligence to plot against Christianity. By grace, that intelligence was put to the service of Christ:

            We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ

            Thus nature (Saul’s intelligence) is perfected by grace.

          • Chefofsinners

            Christ took on human nature. Hebrews 2:16.
            So that we might partake in the divine nature. 2 Peter 1:4.

          • Because when we receive and respond to the Holy Spirit we become increasingly one with Christ and once perfected, in this life or after death, become adopted Sons of the Father. Our human nature isn’t killed or removed; it’s perfected in Christ.

          • Albert

            But not actually have that divine nature as our own. Hence it says “partake”. If I partake of a dinner, I do not become the dinner. If we actually have the divine nature as our own, we are God, not simply by grace or participation, but in exactly the same way as the Trinity. Now this is clearly not how the word nature is used in theology. And therefore, there is a human nature to be perfected not abolished, and it is perfected by grace.

          • Anton

            Albert, a new self is installed in the committed believer. The old self is relegated to being “the flesh” and it does its utmost to convince the new self that it, the flesh, is the real self. But it isn’t. That’s part of Romans.

          • Horrific! An awful interpretation involving a denial of the goodness of human nature, albeit fallen and wounded, and the goodness of God’s creation. Rebirth in Christ entails an integration of our soul with our human nature, through the infusion of God’s grace, not the annihilation of human nature. And the human mind, being part of the body, can help or hinder this process.

            It’s Gnosticism that believes that the spiritual and physical are opposed, not Christianity. “Nature” is not inherently corrupt. Sin is precisely what is contrary to the nature that God calls “good” in the book of Genesis. It is damage to our nature, not nature itself, that results in sin. Sin, which we all inherit in Adam, is based on a warping and a deformation of our nature. It is never natural for us. Thus Jesus, the perfect man, had a perfect human nature, one that did not include sin. And union with Him is becoming Christ-like through cooperating with the Holy Spirit.

          • Anton

            Much of that is off-topic, Jack, and I don’t want to divert into what parts I agree with and what I disagree with. We are so fallen that we cannot be brought back to life. We have to die. Here is Rosaria Butterfield, ex-militant lesbian, now happily married thanks be to God, from her testimony “Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert”:

            “… sexual sin is not recreational sex gone overboard. Sexual sin is predatory. It won’t be “healed”… Sexual sin must simply be killed. What is left of your sexuality after this annihilation is up to God. But healing, to the sexual sinner, is death: nothing more and nothing less.”

            St Paul explains: You died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God…. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed… (Colossians 3:2-5).

            I am using sexual sin merely an an example but the point is that we are all addicts, and our deepest addiction is to sin. The addict has to die. That is why Christianity is totally different from psychotherapy. I affirm that there can be good psychotherapies, but they all just put sticking plaster on the old self. Christianity kills it. This is why Christianity is GOOD NEWS. No matter how hurt you are – all the way up to repeated ritual abuse – Christ can guarantee healing, because the hurt self is not to be healed but put to death. And death is impartial. Death doesn’t care how badly hurt its target is; death takes the lot. The Christian will cry GOOD RIDDANCE. (Although it won’t work if your aim is merely healing: you must be glad that the old sinner is gone, not just the old in-pain you.)

            Please read here what I just wrote to Albert about this, as follows: Your identity changes. You take off the T-shirt that says SINNER and you put on the T-shirt that says HOLY ONE. (The Bible says ‘saint’, but some churches apply that word to only some believers; I don’t want to get into that issue here.) You will still sin, but that does not mean your identity is ‘SINNER’. You are now a Holy One who happens to sin. If you think of yourself as a ‘forgiven sinner’, stop it! You might sin, and those sins will not be laid to your account, but it is a category error to think of yourself as a ‘forgiven sinner’. You are now a Holy One who happens to sin.

          • “The addict has to die.”

            This is the root of the thinking that leads to the types of radical conversion “therapies” rightly criticised. As Jack reads it, Butterfield is talking about the sexual sin dying, not the person.

            No, the addiction has to be treated and healed – removed – through cooperation with saving grace so we can become who God intended to us to be. All the sins listed by St. Paul are corruptions and distortions of our pre-Fall created nature.

            “We are so fallen that we cannot be brought back to life. We have to die.”

            No, we are reborn through grace and not replaced. Our wounded, sinful natures are transformed and perfected as sin is conquered through the workings of the Spirit.

          • Anton

            That is precisely where we differ.

          • Once again you’re artificially separating the human body from the soul. You make it sound as if the human soul is a prisoner of the flesh.

          • Anton

            If you think that then you have again misunderstood me. Your comment does not follow from what I am saying. I am strongly committed to the Hebraic view which denies that.

          • Albert

            I don’t think you’ve understood this at all – if you are disagreeing with me, that is. Effectively what you’ve just said is that Romans teaches Anton is abolished not saved. Now as I have said before, this is perhaps a corollary of the denial of free-will inherent in sola fide, but I have never heard a Protestant actually defend that corollary. Normally, they seek to wriggle out of it.

            Now if you simply mean, by grace, the old Anton, the slave to sin, is set free, then that’s exactly what I mean.

          • Anton

            No. You don’t understand Romans. Christianity is far more radical than you have grasped and you need to lay hold of the idea.

            Your identity changes. You take off the T-shirt that says SINNER and you put on the T-shirt that says HOLY ONE. (The Bible says ‘saint’, but some churches apply that word to only some believers; I don’t want to get into that issue here.) You will still sin, but that does not mean your identity is ‘SINNER’. You are now a Holy One who happens to sin. If you think of yourself as a ‘forgiven sinner’, stop it! You might sin, and those sins will not be laid to your account, but it is a category error to think of yourself as a ‘forgiven sinner’. You are now a Holy One who happens to sin.

          • Albert

            Your identity changes. You take off the T-shirt that says SINNER and you put on the T-shirt that says HOLY ONE.

            Why on earth would you think that’s radical? It’s superficial. It’s not just my identity that changes, I am changed. I was a sinner, I become righteous. That’s radical, because it goes to the root of my being. But I notice that your present position is actual arguing the opposite of chefofsinners – his view is that the nature that was me is abolished by something else. Your view is that I get a new T-shirt. But you agree on one thing: you don’t really change. In his view, you cease to be, in your view I remain but only my identity is changed. But scripture teaches that we are made righteous by faith.

            Surely it is obvious that infused righteousness is more radical than forensic righteousness?

          • Anton

            We are changed from the inside out, not the outside in. If you think that we “don’t really change” then you have misunderstood me and Paul.

          • Albert

            Yes, we are changed from the inside out, that why it begins with faith, not works. Our goodness – without which there is no justification – is itself the work of God in us.

            If you think that we “don’t really change” then you have misunderstood me and Paul.

            I was referring to simul iustus et peccator – which is not the teaching of Paul, if you are saying it is not your teaching, then great!

          • Sarky

            Not everyone!

          • Chefofsinners

            No indeed. The new birth is the process through which we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

          • Anton

            Agreed; please see my explanatory comment to Albert below.

          • Sarky

            Which is less than 10% of all the people that have ever lived.
            How can a loving god write off 90% of his creation?

          • How do you know it’s a metaphor?

          • Anton

            I welcome any comments you wish to make on my replies to Albert and Jack about this subject this morning.

  • David

    Thank you Dr Ashenden for your insightful analysis of the cultural divide pre and post the watershed year of 1963.
    We are in the age of post-modernism, a philosophical movement which denies all authority, external to each and every individual. So it should not be surprising that those trained to worship themselves are reduced to insults and anger when they encounter standards of human behaviour revealed by The Almighty God, who they have been brainwashed into not recognising His existence.

  • Inspector General

    Greetings, Ashenden!

    One recalls the film ‘Carry on Camping’ and the moment Barbara Windsor’s bra goes flying off (made possible by a member of the production team yanking a fishing rod with line). “Take them away!” implored a distraught Kenneth Williams…

    And so it is with unwanted opinions. That a fellow holds one that is contrary to yours should really be the stuff on interest. Meaningful discourse, if you will. We can all learn from others, can we not? Well, not any more, or so it seems for some. But then, we analyse those ‘some’ and we find they are not as others. They are puritans. They are zealots. They are Liberals.

    Anyway, the point is this. It is our Christian duty to point out to these people their error. Their bullying, though they wouldn’t see it as bullying. It is they, after all, who are the perceived victim of your callousness, and we must not forget that. If you could condense this sentiment into 140 characters or less, or even better, throw a hashtag a them, then you know what you must do to help them come to terms with their problem.

    #shamefulintolerantthoughtbully

  • Inspector General

    Good title for today’s post. Especially ‘fragile self’

    Here’s fragile self in action…..be very careful about using the phrase ‘ladies and gentlemen’ in our lunatic encouraging society today. It is no longer acceptable to those better types who must not be upset…anytime, anywhere.

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/07/14/christian-group-accuses-london-of-ideological-extremism-for-making-its-underground-gender-neutral/

    Once again, it’s the Christians who are the villains of the piece. Or could it be that the Christians are the voice of sanity that the ordinary man in the street is grateful to have around…
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    They put chains around us, and watch as we do nothing. Then they put more chain on us still, until we bend from the weight of the burden…and then we turn on our would be enslavers as free men always will and must.

    • Sarky

      Bit hard with all those chains!

      • Inspector General

        You’re grateful to have Christians around, aren’t you. Even though you scamper about this site as the inane fool you are, you know which side your breads buttered…

        • Sarky

          The side of jesus crust??

    • Martin

      IG

      Plenty of idiots around.

  • jsampson45

    This struggle in the church – who is winning?

    • Sarky

      Atheists

      • Albert

        Another magnificent comment!

        • Steady, Albert.

          • Albert

            Assuming we are talking about the CofE, it’s surely true.

          • Atheists or deists?

          • Albert

            Perhaps if we say atheism, rather than atheists. It’s a godless understanding of the human person that is winning.

  • IrishNeanderthal

    Did anyone here watch the BBC Four series Bright Lights, Brilliant Minds: A Tale of Three Cities by James Fox, Department of History of Art, Cambridge (web page)? I found it jolly interesting.

    He dealt with

    Vienna 1908, with Freud and the avant-gardies who met at the Café Central, which Adolf Hitler also (separately) patronized. Then onto:

    Paris 1928, with the Bureau of Surrealist Research, Mondrian, and Cole Porter.

    New York 1951 seemed, by contrast, “bipolar”, with the world of commerce represented by the David Ogilvy his United States shop named Hewitt, Ogilvy, Benson, & Mather on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. Theirs was the advertising campaign for Hathaway Shirts which moved advertising to a new level. Elsewhere, in Greenwich Village, were the artistic types, including the rather Rasputin like figure of the jazz musician Thelonius Monk and the author Jack Kerouac.

    Now in this article the date 1963 suggests the Hippy Era, but after watching that series, I get the impression that it is New York, rather than California, which has filled the cultural mind of the world with a massive load of Old Balls.

  • len

    God defines Truth because He is Truth.
    Man re- defines truth and call this’ his truth’ or ‘religion’ and looks down on all others who do not subscribe to ‘his truth’ or’ his version of religion’.
    All is vanity.

    • Given your advancing years, Jack would recommend a flight to Rome. Swimming would be hazardous.

  • RobinHMasters

    There is the diagnosis.

    Now–what is the cure?

    • Union with Christ through His Church – Roman Catholicism.

      • Martin

        HJ

        Hardly. That cure would not bring the Bible back as the authority, rather it would retain the traditions of men, and we know what Jesus thought about them.

        • Apostolic Tradition is not the teaching of men that Jesus was referring to. Biblical *authority* necessitates an authoritative teaching office.

          “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat (i.e. they are the appointed interpreters of the law of Moses). So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”

          • Martin

            HJ

            Apostolic tradition is that there is one God, nothing more.

          • Lol …. That’s all the Apostles taught? Are you serious?

          • Martin

            HJ

            What they taught we have in the Bible.

          • Not everything Jesus said and did is in scripture – that’s in scripture, btw. Paul certainly refers to holding to the traditions taught. And the Holy Spirit was promised to reveal the full truth to the Church.

          • Anton

            When Paul wrote that the gospels, ie the traditions about Jesus, hadn’t been written down. Then they were.

          • Not according to John 21:25.

          • Anton

            We do not need to be told when Jesus went to the toilet.

          • “But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” [John 21:25]

            “Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name.”

            According to John 20:31, some things have been recorded in the Gospel in order to come to know Christ; however, John 21:25 suggests that there is still more to know about Him.

            “I had much to write you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink; I hope to see you soon, and we will talk together face to face.”[3 John 13-14]

            “…what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” [2 Tim. 2:2]

            “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us (Apostles), either by word of mouth (oral) or by letter (Epistle).”,/i> [2 Thess. 2:15]

            These commands promoting Oral Tradition would be strange, if only the Bible were needed to pass on the entire Christian faith. The Bible does not call itself the bulwark of the truth. St. Paul describes the Church in those terms:

            “…the household of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.” [1 Tim. 3:15]

            The Church is needed to any protect the faith against error, to accurately pass on Apostolic Tradition, define the canon of the Bible, safeguard the accurate transmission of the Bible and interpret key passages, all with the promise of guidance from the Holy Spirit.

          • Anthony Mxyzptlk

            But it was fun to read about the time some of the Apostles went fishing naked . . .

          • Martin

            HJ

            Everything we have is in Scripture.

          • John

            I warm to the idea of an authoritative teaching office. Yes, we need one. But it would not look anything like the RCC. I grew up Catholic but cannot any longer take seriously an organisation that still defends the indefensible; indulgences, praying to saints, the sinlessness and assumption of Mary and compulsory celibacy for church leaders.

  • cybervicar

    I am reminded of After Virtue by Macintyre who said that the culture will end up being run by three archetypes, the rich celebrity, the therapist and the manager. Self-esteem of ego worship becomes the norm. Jung and Freud our new priesthood making us enemies with any external morality. We are customers who must always be right until we are not. Then we are victims. Compare to St Theresa of Avila who said of herself “I am a worm… but worms can become butterflies.”

  • This “shallow heresy of self-regard and self-indulgence” is unsustainable. Societies only survive when based on the selflessness of family life and communality and solidarity with others.

  • Richard Hill

    Much hate speech on the internet is attempt at humiliation of the recipient.
    I asked religious authorities why is humiliation of another not recognised in the Bible
    as a sin. Got no satisfactory reply. Is it a new idea?

    • Sarky

      The answer to that is that either god doesnt know everything, or he doesnt exist.

    • Rhoda

      Jesus warned against calling people “raca” meaning worthless or empty(Matthew 5:21-22).Surely that’s a warning against humiliating others?

    • Martin

      Richard

      Does it count as loving your neighbour?

    • Bruce Wearne

      Very good question and it may actually go to the heart of New Testament teaching. There is as Rhoda notes below Jesus’ reference to “raca” in the Sermon on the Mount. In Paul’s discussion of what a life of love is – after “present your bodies as a living sacrifice” etc – we read 12:17 Pay back to no-one evil for evil … never avenge yourselves … the humiliation of “hot coals” is to be the result of working flatout to overcome evil with good – feeding your hungry enemy, giving your parched adversary drink … (Romans 12:17-20). Paul configures his own ministry to his fellow Jews – he says he is organising the Gentile collection so that if possible it might make his fellows jealous and wanting the Gospel … Matthew the tax collector seems to have written his Gospel with Jesus’ merciful affirmation to those complaining he would spend time with tax collectors and sinners ringing in his ears: IT’S ALL ABOUT MERCY NOT SACRIFICE.

      • Marty McFuckface

        Read the “raca” passage again – it doesn’t give a free pass to degenerates (whether drug users, alcoholics, or fags) to continue their lifestyle free from being called out as degenerates.

    • Anthony Mxyzptlk

      But isn’t humiliating others just a bastard child of the well-documented sins of Pride and Envy? Maybe the authors of the Bible didn’t have time to lay out the whole family tree, when it comes to sins . . .

    • IrishNeanderthal

      Our way of looking at things has developed over the centuries as language has become more sophisticated. In this context, Owen Barfield’s History in English Words is a very good read.

      But there is another trend with the use of such longer-worded concepts. As G.K.Chesterton wrote in Oxthodoxy, Chapter 8

      Most of the machinery of modern language is labour-saving machinery; and it saves mental labour very much more than it ought. Scientific phrases are used like scientific wheels and piston-rods to make swifter and smoother yet the path of the comfortable. Long words go rattling by us like long railway trains. We know they are carrying thousands who are too tired or too indolent to walk and think for themselves. It is a good exercise to try for once in a way to express any opinion one holds in words of one syllable. If you say “The social utility of the indeterminate sentence is recognized by all criminologists as a part of our sociological evolution towards a more humane and scientific view of punishment,” you can go on talking like that for hours with hardly a movement of the gray matter inside your skull. But if you begin “I wish Jones to go to gaol and Brown to say when Jones shall come out,” you will discover, with a thrill of horror, that you are obliged to think. The long words are not the hard words, it is the short words that are hard. There is much more metaphysical subtlety in the word “damn” than in the word “degeneration.”

    • Marty McFuckface

      Because the Bible actually endorses hating unrepentant sinners. Why call faggotry an “abomination”?

  • 1650again

    Excellent article. Profoundly true.

  • coloniescross

    Excellent article indeed. Although I believe it isn’t necessary to be a practising Christian to follow a certain path in life I do believe that the basic, what are seen as “christian” values, are essential. Modern usage of lots of our language, not just the perversion of the words love and hate has much to answer for.

  • Jon of GSG

    “There is something alarmingly narcissistic in the homosexual love match: the male self, finding erotic and romantic adoration by looking in the mirror at the male self; of female gazing adoringly at the female.”

    That analysis is very unconvincing to me. Someone only interested in bestiality could use it in against the average heterosexual: “you are a human narcissistically adoring other humans”.

    • HedgehogFive

      But the way so many ceremonies feature men dressed in identical suits does suggest that the pair involved are, to some extent, “looking at the man in the mirror”.

      • Jon of GSG

        It’s certainly a thing one does see, as well as a lot of gay couples who look alike. But one does (or at least I do!) see many heterosexual couples who look alike. I think in any type of, er, coupling, there must be an element of looking for someone who is like ourselves, which explains these things to me much better, and more charitably, than linking it to narcissism – even the phenomenon of identical suits!

    • novellus

      Yet it is a classical notion. The ancient Greek men found engaging in homosexual activity desirable partly because it was the only setting where they could enjoy sexuality with a peer and equal (free man with another free man or slave man with another slave man) and thus with someone like themselves, since women, in their view, were not equal to men but more like household commodities. However, I have read that the sexual component of such relations is often exaggerated in modern reviews.
      Robert Gagnon has also argued in the direction that “By definition homosexual desire is sexual narcissism or sexual self-deception. There is either (1) a conscious recognition that one desires in another what one already is and has as a sexual being (anatomy, physiology, sex-based traits) or (2) a self-delusion of sorts in which the sexual same is perceived as some kind of sexual other. As one ancient text puts it, “seeing themselves in one another they were ashamed neither of what they were doing nor of what they were having done to them” (Pseudo-Lucian, Affairs of the Heart 20). The modern word “homosexual”—from the Greek homoios, “like” or “same”—underscores this self-evident desire for the essential sexual self shared in common with one’s partner.”
      if so, the optimal state would be to have sex with self, since that is not practical one seeks a partner who is as close to self as possible.

      • Jon of GSG

        Well yes, I think that’s exactly the argument that someone given entirely to bestiality would level against heterosexual people – and far more convincingly. If all you fancy is horses (say) then the “narcissism” of humans having sex with other humans must seem far more markedly narcissistic than homosexual sex does to the presumably heterosexual Robert Gagnon.

        In fact, it’s an argument you could use about practically anything, including how it’s narcissistic to enjoy portraits more than landscapes, or to prefer audiobooks to written books. The more I think about it, the emptier an argument it becomes, as it really just says the moral good is in everything that is least like ourselves – which is obviously absurd.

  • michaelkx

    (2Pe 3:3)  Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,

    (2Ti 3:1-7) his know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 
    For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 
    Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 
    Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 
    Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 
    For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 
    Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

  • Midleton_Very_Rare

    Inspiring. A ‘revelation’ in itself.
    Just remember: love God, love your Neighbour, that’s all. Everything else will follow.

  • Robert Mann

    BTW purge ‘that we thought’. What remains is a superb essay, which has evidently brought out the best in almost all Comments. I had assumed the essay would evoke bulk red venomous herrings, but the couple trolls wasting time ‘intellectualising’ are a minor nuisance. I’m glad to find such good company.
    One worthwhile step towards erasing the scandalous rifts within the Church is the lectionary, a widely-used list of the Lessons to be read on the respective Sundays of the church year.
    This past two Sundays the specified lesson in the ‘epistle’ category has been from St Paul’s letter Romans 7 & 8, and I had the privileged position of lector in my parish church. The preacher followed the lessons’ omission of the third party not mentioned by Paul. The flawed human nature is prone to temptation by Satan’s minions as so helpfully described by C S Lewis The Screwtape Letters.
    The warfare of this world, in this view, involves not only the God who wishes the best we can achieve, the God influencing the human spirit as Paul sketches, but also that other category of spirit tempting us to go astray.
    I’ve not read up on why Paul omits Satan from his picture. Meanwhile, I do maintain he does make an omission in Rom 7 & 8 at least.
    I’d not heard of Brown’s dating the current decline from 1963. I’ve been saying ‘mid-1960s’ for a couple decades now.
    The Ashenden hypothesis on causes of homosexual orientation strikes me as plausible but not excluding other notions. He rightly deigns not to mention the ‘constitutive’ hypothesis which is so popular among militant homosexualists, the core science on which is assembled in Whitehead ‘My Genes Made Me Do It’.
    The main theme, so annoying & full of deceit, will get yet more analysis. The notion that any criticism, or mere stating of facts, entails hate is evidently bull. People who resort, in any extent of social organisation, to such flagrant lying are manifesting a key characteristic of any totalitarian movement. To gain the (temporary, as it turned out) social security of the National Socialist Party, you had to intone ‘the Slavs are sub-human’ and most notoriously ‘the Jews have caused nearly all the trouble Germany has lately experienced’. To insist on lying is a main sign of totalitarianism. The PC Axis – wimmins”Lib”, neoracism, militant homosexualism, and now trannieism – suppresses dissent as if it really believes its own crazy slogans.

    • petej

      I know that a much larger proportion of gay people suffer from self-acceptance issues than society at large (inc body image, eating disorders, self hate etc) this seems to be to be consistent with a lack of representation in the world and completely inconsistent with narcissism.

      Gay people typically discover they are gay around age 12. I don’t think it is credible that narcissism has had a chance to take a hold of the subconscious by that stage of life.

      I really don’t like this modern fad of clerics deciding to reject what scientists are saying. I think it would be far more helpful to enagage theology with our scientific understanding of the world than to make up reasons why the scientists are wrong or deliberately deceiving.

      • Marty McFuckface

        Homosexuality is an evolutionary anomaly and an epidemiological disaster. Ever heard of “GRIDS”?

  • Murti Bing

    Excellent post. Thank you.

  • Martin

    Sarky

    It wasn’t pointless because God chose to do so. I’ve no doubt you do things you don’t need to but choose to. You really need to think.

    • Sarky

      IM NOT GOD!!!!
      when i do things i don’t always know the outcome. If god is omnipotent, then he does.
      You’re argument falls down on every level. Its you who needs to think.

      • Martin

        Sarky

        Oh dear, I seem to have defeated you but you are unwilling to admit it.

        • Sarky

          What?? Are you mad??

          You haven’t given a reasonable response at all. You’re argument fails totally and utterly.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            Sounds like you’re scared.

          • Sarky

            Of what Martin? Scared that you can’t answer a relatively simple question?
            I think its you who are scared. Scared that you have seen the absurdity of the bible and scared you have wasted your life on something that is clearly untrue.
            Throw off the shackles of god and open your mind to the possibilities that unbelief will bring you.

          • Martin

            I’ve answered your question, you may not like the answer, but then you don’t like any answer that doesn’t agree with you. There’s nothing absurd in the Bible, which is why you won’t choose your best argument, you know it’s not good enough.

            You’re thoroughly scared, because you know that mocking is all you’ve got. And so you will continue to mock and fail to bring a single real argument.

          • Sarky

            Ok Martin, going back to my original question, please answer this:-

            Is observable physical evidence more important and valid than what the bible claims to be true?

            (P.s. asking for a reply to a question is not mocking, your reaction says more about you)

          • Martin

            What you see now cannot challenge what the Bible says happened in the past. Neither is truth limited to the physical. For example, information has no physical nature.

          • Sarky

            Thats a fallacious argument Martin.
            For example a forensic scientist doesnt need to see a crime happen.
            They use evidence to recreate the crime scene. So, what we observe now (evidence) can be used to successfully challenge the claims of the bible e.g. creation, the flood etc.
            As for your second point, it is pretty well accepted that information does have a physical nature within the universe.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            The fallacious argument is yours. All the forensic scientist can say is that such an action can produce a similar result, not that the cause is settled. And there is no evidence that can challenge the Bible narrative.

            No,information is not physical, that is established fact.

          • Sarky

            Your innate bias means there is no meaningful dialogue to be had with you.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            We both have a bias, mine is toward truth, yours is to lies.

          • Sarky

            How do you know?

          • Martin

            Sarky

            That we have a bias – it is the nature of Man.

            That mine is to truth & yours to lies – I know what the truth is.

          • Sarky

            Do you? How?

          • Martin

            Sarky

            Because, unlike you, I don’t pretend there is no God.

  • ChaucerChronicle

    Dr Ashenden,

    Youngsters are repeatedly told by well-meaning Christians that God will accept you as you are. Perhaps they think that we do not emulate God in that sense and hence the bile projected at us.

    Perhaps the fault lies in us in that John the Baptist and Jesus did not preach ‘God will accept you as you are’ but ‘repent and believe’.

    I personally used to have difficulty with that in that I wanted to understand first and believe later (the university way).

    Now I understand that to repent first initiates immediate trust in Him first and belief grows more strongly.

    • petej

      I think the church is sending a mixed message here. I think the message has become “God accepts you as you are” to straight people and “God can never accept you” to gay people. The attempt to make God accept gay people is therefore an act of social justice. If your suggestion were implemented then it could also be an act of social justice, but it would destroy church attendance figures.

      • ChaucerChronicle

        If that be the case then the Church is suspended in self-contradiction: which it is.

        • petej

          The church is making heterosexuality, rather than faith a prerequisite for salvation.

  • Bruce Wearne

    Gavin Ashenden’s analysis highlights another important question about what is happening publicly and socially to friendship. It is not only in “secular society”, but also manifest, most evidently, among those identifying their Christian faith with their choice for politically correct makeover of their social roles as churchmen and churchwomen. The ongoing and unremitting (unrepentant) attempts to sacralise homosexual same-sex relationships certainly sends a message: but it includes the problematisation of friendship – friendship is now something to be experimented with and solved. The “Culture of Limitless Self-Regard” bolstered by the philosophical proscriptions of Rogers, Jung et al leads to a sociological classification (of institutions, organisations, associations and inter-individual relationships) in such terms and so all male-male and femal-female relationships (that is all that are physiologically “mature” rather than “adult” relationships) are thereby “positioned” to resolve themselves in relation to such a fate in which whatever forms (of friendship) they emerge, they will all be considered to be functions of a presumed autonomous sexual impulse. We encounter in this blurring atmosphere an incessant attempt to have what was hitherto been a hidden (and Bohemian, marginal) personal criterion brought out into the open by both legislative and liturgical means – this is an attempt to redesign human experience and assumes reality can be remade by legislation and liturgy led by such a reductionistic theory.

    • IrishNeanderthal

      the problematisation of friendship is well brought to light in this article:

      Hold hands in friendship – and be proud to be an African

      And this is from a modern, progressive, South African author.

    • petej

      Could you explain two of your points please

      What do you mean by “the problematisation of friendship”? I don’t see how friendship is related to allowing gay people being allowed to legally marry.

      Could you also explain what you mean by “personal criterion”? This would seem to me to suggest you do believe that some people are gay (that is experience attraction only to the same sex), but then later in the sentence you suggest that this experience is faux, brought on by legislation and liturgy.

      Thanks

      • Bruce Wearne

        Petej: Thanks for your questions. The significant global movement that demands that gay people be allowed to marry is one seeking legislative change that would then give people grounds for claiming that the change in Marriage Law has transformed what is but one kind of long-term committed friendship into something else. Governments around the world are making legal errors based on an empirical mistake.

        I am not denying that some people, even many people, experience homosexual attraction. But the Biblical teaching is such that such Christians are bound to respect that “marriage is honorable, and the marriage bed undefiled” [Hebrews 13:4] just like anyone else. But in line with Jesus’ own teaching [Matt 19:4-6] such respect is to be ascribed only to the exclusive male- female marital bond . According to the New Testament teaching marriage is the only lawful place for sexual union to take place. If sections of the Christian church now abrogate that teaching – as the CofE Synod, according to Gavin, has done and in spectacular fashion – then it is departing from Biblical teaching and also it is signalling that what is a committed friendship can be transformed – as if by magic – into something it isn’t. This must have implications for how friendship per se is understood as part of any consequential social perspective.

        We would not be wrong to suggest that the ideology Gavin describes (Rogers and Jung) has an impact across all relationships.

        In answer to your second question, the full statement – “We encounter in this blurring atmosphere an incessant attempt to have what [h]as hitherto been a hidden (and Bohemian, marginal) personal criterion brought out into the open by both legislative and liturgical means – this is an attempt to redesign human experience and assumes reality can be remade by legislation and liturgy led by such a reductionistic theory” – I am pointing to the significant shift that has taken place (since the 1960s-1970s), that homosexual friendships were once justified socially (against legal prohibition) as a form of friendship and certainly not as a form of marriage – such relationships were justified as a matter of personal preference made by consenting friends.

        Allied with my comments is a concern about the way in which friendship will now function in social life, in schools, in the context of congregations, in workplaces. Are same-sex friendships which are not homosexual being subjected to subtle pressures that view or construe the relationship as possible “courtship” or “marriage”?

        • petej

          So if I’ve understood you correctly, you believe it in impossible for gay people to form bonds that are deeper or more significant than friendship?

          I think there is a huge difference in relationship between a person’s friend and a persons spouse or life partner. I don’t agree that making gay relationships legitimate has changed these relationships from friendship into something more deep. The legislation is merely conveying rights, protection and status on relationships that were already existent.

          I’m not aware of any people straight, gay or other, who struggle to differentiate between friends and spouses

          • Bruce Wearne

            No petej you’ve got me wrong. There is nothing shallow or insignificant in friendship. But we still have to be nurtured into the meaning of friendship.

            In this country the “marriage equality” movement is focused upon changing the definition of lawful marriage in the marriage act.

            For another angle on what I am saying I suggest you consider a YOUTUBE piece featuring Tom Wright. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKxvOMOmHeI

          • petej

            Then I do not understand your point. You talk as if the legislation has substantially altered the nature of gay peoples relationships, but those are just legal changes they don’t alter the love of one person for another.

            I don’t agree with the implication that marriage is friendship plus sex. If that were the case it would be impossible for a heterosexual married person to have friends of the opposite sex and remain monogamous.

          • Bruce Wearne

            Yes your “you talk as if …” assertions do indeed miss my point pretty well. Oh well. We obviously read what is going on quite differently. I’ll leave it there. Thanks for the interchange.

          • Marty McFuckface

            You and I agree on something: legislation can’t alter a pervert’s love of being pozzed.

          • Marty McFuckface

            Bonds as deep as their d*cks can plunge into each other’s anuses.

  • petej

    9 Do not be quick to anger,
    for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.
    10 Do not say, “Why were the former days better than these?”
    For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.

    Ecclesiastes 7

    • Marty McFuckface

      I love it when faggots quote Scripture.

  • Marty The Legend Continues

    Why beat around the bush? Everyone secretly hates fags and the their degenerate lifestyles.