Generations Radio proves that you can have a flashy package without substance. Any idiot can buy a nice web template, pay a webhost and spew the inane dribble that passes for thinking over everyone who passes by. This sort of thing has been the bane of the Internet since the first self-styled expert set up shop there. This is essentially what takes place at Generations, where Pastor Kevin Swanson seems eager to prove he knows nothing – about anything.
If you’ve heard David Barton speak, you know what it sounds like when somebody completely uninformed about American history attempts to “educate” people. Listening to Kevin Swanson gives the listener a real déjà vu moment, and with it, some head-scratching moments.
Monday’s spew was about Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky and the evils of the “Classical Greek University”:
The Shame of Sandusky and the Classical Greek University – Christian Ministries Soften on Homosexuality
Monday, July 02, 2012
We have reached a crisis in the Greek synthesis in the west. The old humanist universities and religious institutions in the west are rotting out. These old universities will never attain the level of degradation the Greeks and Romans achieved. Classical education will never be able to bring it back to the gymnasiums. The Catholic church will never be able to legitimize pederasty. Kevin Swanson provides the history of Christianity vs. the old Greek and Roman treatment of homosexuality in this edition of Generations. Sadly, some evangelicals cannot comprehend the extent of the disintegration of the west. They can’t seem to bring themselves to use the “R” word – Repentance. According to recent news reports, ministries like Exodus International and Focus on the Family are upset with the Family Research Council for giving an award to a pastor who used harsh words for homosexuality.
If I read this as a description for a conference or symposium I would walk away wondering what the hell the talk was going to be about – there is no evidence of coherent thought here – I mean, that swipe at the Catholic Church came out of right field; Apparently both liberal universities and the Catholic Church breed gay people or something but haven’t done so very efficiently if neither has succeeded.
Yet in the next breath we are told that evangelicals don’t realize how bad things actually are – but didn’t he just say our universities “will never attain the level of degradation the Greeks and Romans achieved”? And that the Catholic “church” [sic] “will never be able to legitimize pederasty”? Shouldn’t Swanson be happy and not acting like the end of the world is at hand?
No, that would give him no opportunity for his “crazy time” which is the only way to describe the diatribe which follows – this guy is swinging and missing all over the place:
Even Christopher Marlowe and Shakespeare, to some extent, had some writings that were somewhat favorable of homosexuality. Now, homosexuality had not existed for about 1,000 years, between about 300 AD to 1400-1500 AD where certain mentions of it were extant in some of the classical literature of the day, because classical literature tends to bring back homosexuality as the ‘cool thing’, but it hadn’t existed for about 1,000 years. It was, obviously, very very important to humanism, it always has been important to humanism, and whenever you get a humanist, classical approach to education, you’re probably going to get the gymnasium. The gymnasiums were all built around the idea of pederasty and pedophilia.
Homosexuality didn’t exist for a thousand years? Has Swanson picked up a history book in his entire life? (well, arguably, neither has Barton…) That would be news to all the homosexuals who lived between 300 and 1400-1500. In point of fact, homosexuality and gay people were everywhere in the early Middle Ages, as Professor John Boswell pointed out in a keynote address to the Fourth Biennial Dignity International Convention in 1979:
As late as the eleventh and twelfth centuries, there appears to be no conflict between a Christian life and homosexuality. Gay life is everywhere in the art, poetry, music, history, etc. of the 11th and 12th centuries. The most popular literature of the day even heterosexual literature, is about samesex lovers of one sort or another. Clerics were at the forefront of this revival of the gay culture. St. Aelred, for instance, writes of his youth as a time when he thought of nothing but loving and being loved by men. He became a Cistercian abbot, and incorporated his love for men into his Christian life by encouraging monks to love each other, not just generally, but individually and passionately He cited the example of Jesus and St. John as guidance for this. ‘Jesus himself,” he said, “in everything like us. patient and compassionate with others in every matter, Transfigured this sort of love through the expression of his own love. for he allowed only one – not al l- to recline on his breast as a sign of his special love; and the closer they were, the more copiously did the secrets of their heavenly marriage impart the sweet smell of their spiritual chrism to their love.”
In fact, Boswell argues that Christianity cannot be blamed entirely for the change in attitudes toward homosexuality in the Christian Roman Empire – that the attitudes of the church rather than leading the way have tended to reflect changing popular attitudes toward homosexuality:
An historian can simply note that there is no place in the writings of the Early or High Middle Ages where the Bible seems to be the origin of these prejudices against gay people. Where any reason is given for the new hostility. sources other than the Bible are cited. As a matter of fact, from an historical perspective, the Bible would be the last source one would look at after examining growing hostility toward gay people….
He points out that the tale of Sodom didn’t become a story about homosexuality until 1955, that in the two dozen places Sodom is mentioned in the Bible homosexuality is not and that “The only other places that might be adduced from the Old Testament against homosexuality are Deuteronomy 23:17 and Kings 14:24, and-doubtless the best know n places Leviticus 18:20 and 20: 13, where a man’s sleeping the asleep of women” with men is labelled ritual impurity for Jews. None of these was cited by early Christians against homosexual behavior. Early Christians had no desire to impose the levitical law on themselves or anyone else.”
Ooops. It’s true that Jesus said he hadn’t come to destroy the law but to uphold it, but Jesus didn’t have the last word, did he? His voice was taken out of the equation when he was nailed to a cross. So here is another problem for Swanson and his fellow bigots with regard to all those Old Testament laws we keep getting shoved down our throats: “The Council of Jerusalem, held around 50 A.D. and recorded in Acts 15, in fact took up this issue specifically and decided that Christians would not be bound by any of the strictures of the old law except for which they list – none of which is related to homosexuality.”
Oh dear. This is not looking good for the aberrochristian crowd, is it? It’s certainly not good for Swanson’s love of beating children into submission per the Old Testament. To make matters worse, the New Testament isn’t anti-gay either:
In the New Testament we find no citations of Old Testament strictures. We do, however, find three places-I Corinthians 6:9, I Timothy 1:10 and Romans 1:2627which might be relevant. Again, I’ll be brief in dealing with these. The Greek word malakos in I Cor. 6:9 and I Tim. 1 :10, which Scholars in the 20th century have deemed to refer to some sort of homosexual behavior, was universally used by Christian writers to refer to masturbation until about the 15th or 16th century. Beginning in the 15th century many people were bothered by the idea that masturbators were excluded from the kingdom of heaven. They did not, however, seem to be too upset by the idea of excluding homosexuals from the kingdom of heaven, so malakos was retranslated to refer to homosexuality instead of masturbation. The texts and words remained the same, but translators just changed their ideas about who should be excluded from the kingdom of heaven.
So much for a steadfast and unchanging Truth as a bulwark against moral relativism! Oh, well, er, masturbators aren’t so bad. Obviously we need to change that word to mean homosexuality. Snapping your zippy can’t possibly keep you out of heaven! Back to Boswell:
The remaining passage – Romans 1:26-7 – does not suffer by and large from mistranslation, although you can easily be misled by the phrase “against nature.” This phrase was also interpreted differently by the early church. St. John Chrysostom says that St. Paul deprives the people he is discussing of any excuse. observing of their women that “they changed the natural use. No one can claim, Paul points out, that she came to this because she was precluded from lawful intercourse or that because she was unable to satisfy her desire….Only those possessing something can change it. Again he points the same thing out about men but in a different way? saying they ‘left the natural use of women.’ Likewise, he casts aside with these words every excuse, charging that they not only had legitimate enjoyment and abandoned it, going after another but that spurning the natural, they pursued the unnatural.” What Chrysostom is getting at, and he expounds on it at great length, is the idea that St. Paul was not writing about gay people but about heterosexual people, probably married who abandoned the pleasure they were entitled to by virtue of their own natures for one to which they were not entitled. This is reflected in the canons imposing penances for homosexual activity, which through the 16th century were chiefly directed toward married persons. Little is said of single people.
Well that isn’t helpful at all, is it? Paul wasn’t upset at gay people but heterosexual people!
But enough actual thinking! It’s time to get back to Swanson’s uninformed spew:
Now, I don’t want to get into a lot of the details on this, because it’s very very very gross, but they trained young boys in homosexuality. This is part and parcel of the homosexual vision, still is, by the way, to this day. This is the goal, this is where they’re headed, if you read the homosexual literature, which I encourage you not to do, but this is the direction that they’re headed. This is the goal of humanism. The goal of humanism is to make it to Sandusky. The problem is Sandusky was prosecuted and that’s an indication that we’ve got 2,000 years of Christianity, and these guys are not going to get away with it.
You know, Dave, I think if we’re going to have a halfway decent, stable society, much like what the pilgrims had, with a divorce rate of .01%, fornication rate of 1%, and a homosexuality rate of .0005%, if we’re going to have a stable society, we’re going to have to get back to biblical law.
Swanson wants us to treat gay people like the Pilgrims treated gay people, by putting them to death. But all this means is that the Pilgrims weren’t very good Christians, since they no more read and understood their Bibles than Swanson reads and understands his. We should use people who were lousy Christians as examples of how to be Christian?
I will appeal again to Boswell, who says,
It is possible to change ecclesiastical attitudes toward gay people and their sexuality because the objections to homosexuality are not biblical, they are not consistent, they are not part of Jesus’ teaching; and they are not even fundamentally Christian. It is possible because Christianity was indifferent, if not accepting, of gay people and their feelings for a longer period of time than it had been hostile to them. It is possible because the founders of the religion specifically considered love to transcend accidents of biology and to be the end, not the means. It may not be possible to eradicate intolerance from secular society, for intolerance is, to some extent ineradicable; but I believe the church’s attitude can and must be changed. It has been different in the past and it can be again. Plato observed of secular society nearly 2,400 years ago that “wherever it has been established that it is shameful to be involved in homosexual relationships, this is due to evil on the part of the legislatures, to despotism on the part of the rulers and to cowardism on the part of the governed.”
Take a look at what he says again: “Christianity was indifferent, if not accepting, of gay people and their feelings for a longer period of time than it had been hostile to them.”
This is a conclusion based on historical fact. It is not even open to debate. The lack of hostility in the Bible to homosexuality is also observable as has been pointed out many times, including by writers here. So why, day after day, do we see bigots like Swanson rant against homosexuality as though God is telling them they must? He [God] isn’t. We can read the same Bible they do. And maybe that’s the problem: we actually read it. What were we thinking?
Thought is an amazing thing. It’s a pity right-wing bigots like Swanson and Barton don’t embrace it, but they can’t tolerate the idea of the universe shift they would experience if they did, for their fantasy-belief system would come crashing down around them if they found out what the Bible – and history – really says.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.