Hating the Image of God
Through the past week of His Grace’s ASA saga, he has received dozens of highly critical emails and hundreds of condemnatory tweets impugning his integrity, orthodoxy and motives. Even this morning, one talked of his ‘hate mongering’ and it being ‘better to drown urself than persecute god's children’. It is, perhaps, simply the price one pays for expressing an opinion or holding a view which is not quite harmonically consonant with the zeitgeist. If one wishes to avoid criticism, one remains silent and inert.
It is quite easy to ignore the ad hominem, being invariably unreasoned and unreasonable, emanating, as it does, from the immature mind which mistakes insult for argument and conflates conviction with hate. But perhaps no comment has been more hurtful to His Grace than one received from Peggy Sherwood, President of the Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group. His Grace had politely requested their assistance in clarifying whether or not her organisation had complained to the ASA about the Coalition for Marriage advertisement which is now the subject of a formal investigation. Someone on their behalf had commented on this blog that ‘...this has been done in our name and without our knowledge or agreement’.
This, of course, contradicted the documentation received from the ASA, which informed His Grace that they had received 24 complaints, ‘including the Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group’, which, of course, shifted the weight of opposition from an insignificant number of sundry individuals to an organisation which potentially represents thousands. His Grace informed the JGLG that ‘the ASA have used your corporate identity to inform His Grace (and others) that the JGLG did complain (either about the advertisement being factually incorrect or 'offensive and homophobic'). This would appear to be a false affirmation which the ASA have not bothered to check with you’. And he enquired to know if one of their members had misled the ASA that he/she was speaking on their behalf, and, since the President apparently knows the identity of this person, whether he/she might be prepared to contact His Grace directly. He also sought to discover what action the leadership of the JGLG might take against this person for (apparently) bringing the JGLG into disrepute.
He received a terse response, instructing him to ‘turn the other cheek’ and assuring him of their best wishes at all times, ‘except those occasions when he appears not to recognize the image of God in the image of others’.
So, to believe that marriage is a union of one man and one woman is now to deny that gays and lesbians are made in the image of God. To believe in the orthodox Jewish view that marriage is concerned with the conjugality of maleness and femaleness for the purpose of procreative companionship is taken by the President of the Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group as a denial of the divine imprint upon homosexual humanity.
It is curious how one can easily ignore the sort of hatred and bile expressed in the comment section of Pink News, essentially because it is woefully ill informed and irredeemably puerile. But this sort of barb from the President of the Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group niggles to the point of offence. Nothing that His Grace has ever said, done or written could possibly reasonably be inferred as an expression of his belief that gay and lesbian people are not made in the image of God.
His Grace wrote back to Ms Sherwood, pointing out to her that he has been content to host upon his blog a theological argument for same-sex marriage, and also that it his clearly expressed view that the state should not interfere with those churches, synagogues, mandirs, gurdwaras and mosques who may wish to confer some manner of blessing upon homosexual unions if they wish.
She (naturally) liked the first of these, but no apology was forthcoming for her assertion that there are occasions when His Grace fails to recognise the image of God in the image of others. She did not entertain the merest possibility of offence caused.
One of the stories His Grace missed over the past week (because he was maddeningly deflected and distracted by the ASA) was that of four men being hanged in Iran for engaging in homosexual activities. It disgusts and offends against justice that any society might deem the consensual release and sharing of the cosmic energy of sexuality to be a capital offence. We may share differences over various sexual codes; on the understanding and importance of purity; on the prohibition on mixed marriages (ethnic or religious); on the condemnation of close-kin marriages, or the insistence of the careful observance of cleanliness relating to the woman’s menstrual blood and the man’s emission of seed. We may differ between approbation and disgust for the pervasive promiscuity, public nudity and ubiquitous abortion which is little more than child sacrifice to the sex-obsessed gods of the age. But all these points of difference serve to heighten the sense of separation of the religious believer from the neo-pagan world.
There is no hint of a suggestion that those who choose to journey along the wide path are not just as equally made in the same image of God as those who tread the narrow path: we are all fallen; we are all sinners. ‘Male and female he created them’ is not an expression of hatred or bigotry: it is an affirmation of the community of the married, the fruitful in seed. That which has no seed within its flesh is not fruit and never will be: the potato cannot be a peach. No number of diktats, directives or state-enforced definitions of uniformity will ever change that. And if it be ‘hatred’ to express such a view in a reasoned and intelligent manner, then it is our accusers who impugn, malign and denigrate; it is they who hate; it is they who cease to see that we, too, are made in the image of God.