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REVIEW: Jeremy Marks, ‘Exchanging the truth of God for a lie’

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  1. Quote- He takes the view that faith, and more metaphorical readings of the Bible, are important for modern worship.

    I could pick many holes in the evangelical apologist bias of the article here, but lets just settle for this one.
    My old philosophy tutor pointed out to me early on what a paradigm was… a set of rigid concepts and frameworks through which you interpret the world. If enough evidence comes together that the paradigm can no longer cope with the contradictions, you dump it wholesale and start with a fresh paradigm. The Bible is held by many if not all Christians as the unerrant word of God. Now that it’s straining under the combined stresses of scientific and social evidence to the contrary there are 2 religious schools of thought. Either they suddenly claim “it was a fuzzy metaphor all along” or like the hardliners “It’s still the unerrent word of god and only you heathens don’t get it.” Both are bogus in my view. You can’t suddenly decide something is a metaphor after thousands of years of taking it literally just because it’s become glaringly obvious it’s not gospel. Even if it is a metaphor, decoding that metaphor is as pointless as if you never had a metaphor to begin with, as anyone can come along and put a radically different interpretation on it. (See the sandal versus gourd debate in “Life of Brian” for an example of this in action).
    Suddenly realising you can’t pray out the gay should have been this guy’s wakeup call, instead of which he’s still straining to crowbar it back into his bible-shaped paradigm. If his paradigm functioned those people would’ve been straight by now.

  2. Robert, ex-pat Brit 11 Aug 2008, 11:39am

    If ex-gay ministries claim they can pray away the gay or use aversion therapy, then let them prove you can do it with a straight person by praying away the straight to make them gay. Its absurd. Nothing more than a scam.

  3. “The comments on this very site regarding the conflict over gays and the Church have been some of the most prejudiced, personal, and uncompromising I’ve ever seen (on all sides of the debate).”

    Oh, come now, Ms Charman! You must have noticed how we all conduct ourselves with properly Christian love and respect on this site. As a token of which, allow me to say that this was (the single sentence above notwithstanding) an excellent and judicious book-review. Nevertheless, I don’t think I’ll be running out to buy Marks’ tome anytime soon.

    Now, if we may return to the prejudiced, personal, and uncompromising tone to which we have all become accustomed: Flapjack – thank you once again for your insights. Neither in philsophy nor in science is a paradigm “a set of rigid concepts and frameworks through which you interpret the world,” which must be dispensed with wholesale if it proves problematic in any single regard. No one has suggested that the numerous problems with Darwin’s mid-19th century theories of evolution required the wholesale ditching of natural selection as a theory. Ideas evolve and develop over time, as do religious doctrines. Some would see the hand of God in this, but it is not necessary to do so.

    Secondly, I fear that your prejudices against Christianity outpace your knowledge of it. I doubt that any single Christian seriously believes the Bible is inerrant (not, incidentally “unerrant”) in the sense you describe. Nor has the idea that the Bible is all “literally” true been a popular one in the history of the Church before the development of evangelical Protestantism in the last couple of centuries. Nor do liberals and moderates claim, as you suppose, that the Bible is “a fuzzy metaphor”. All Christians affirm the authority of Scripture, but not all think that it all can or should be read in the same way. Indeed, there is a long and fascinating history of Biblical hemeneutics stretching back to the early Church. Just because atheists appropriate the arguments of extreme evangelicals to denigrate this tradition of Biblical scholarship and study does not mean that their arguments – or yours – hold any water with moderate Christians.

  4. This article also concerns me in its tone. The writer appears to approach the subject from the position of one who has become weary of the intransigent debate between religion and sexual identity.

    However, there are very good reasons why this debate has turned “decidedly nasty”, most of which we are aware of and won’t need to be spelled out here. The issue is that much of the argument against religious homophobia IS based on the very real arguments that we hear time and time again. When this issue is boiled down to its most basic element, the “age old whines” ARE the fundamental reason why intelligent people become frustrated at the inability of the religious congress to accommodate homosexuality. It is precisely because the religious camp won’t address these issues that this debate rolls on and on without resolution.

    The book may be refreshing but to call it insightful and intelligent belies the dismissal of the core arguments as unintelligent and careless. Until we as a community get the real answers to serious theological questions posed by scripture, the church (in its broadest sense) will continue to be deprived of gay constituents.

  5. Gay people have the right not to be discriminated against (at last) BUT the established “Major” religions still consider us “abominations” and there are very few church leaders who support us. Gay clergy are given a very hard time in the press and by their fellow clerics. Therefore, and quite rightly, there are a great deal of indignant views expressed by gay people on this site; we need to defend ourselves. However, unlike other groups who have and are oppressed, we do not murder, bomb or riot. (Stonewall Riot excepted) There are a lot of intelligent gay people who can speak up and speak out against homophobia; there are no secret gay cabals being formed for world domination as some clerics think! Perhaps we should lobby the UN for our own National Homeland and only allow gay friendly clerics in like Desmond Tutu!

  6. “I doubt that any single Christian seriously believes the Bible is inerrant (not, incidentally “unerrant”) in the sense you describe. Nor has the idea that the Bible is all “literally” true been a popular one in the history of the Church before the development of evangelical Protestantism in the last couple of centuries.” — rjb

    Oh yeah? Have you ever been to the American South? Have you ever spoken to a Southern Baptist or members of any of the other “fundamentalist” denominations in America?

    Having been raised in the Southern Baptist Church (the son of a Southern Baptist preacher) I can PERSONALLY attest to the fact that your statement above is categorically incorrect. There are not only a “single Christian” but there are AT LEAST tens of millions, probably hundreds of millions, of Christians who believe that the Bible is inerrant and literal. There are over 16 million Southern Baptists alone and this doesn’t account for the likes of Peter Akinola and his tens of millions of followers in the global south of the Anglican Church.

    By the way, I am still a Christian (though of the Buddhist variety) so I don’t state these facts as a person who is Christo-hostile.

  7. RJB – You are right… a paradigm can’t be dispensed with if its wrong in any single regard, but as the bible is wrong in so many regards along with the offshoot religious sects that come with it, I personally chose to dump it wholesale rather than sift through the mountain of increasingly convoluted arguements made to fit the evidence after the fact – I think they refer to them as “Theology”.
    If you doubt my former religious crudentials, I had regular school RE classes for 15 years, visited the same cathedral every Sunday morning for 7 years and have a born-again aunt who never tires of quoting the bible at me for no good reason at all. Just because I haven’t spent my every waking moment on it, I don’t see that my views on the subject are any less valid than yours. I haven’t seen one compelling argument in all those years, but if you think you’ve got the killer argument which I may have missed, take your best shot.
    All I got out of the church was self-loathing, and I’m much happier now.

  8. Well, the book’s title is fine – though the words are in the wrong order. “Exchanging truth for the lie of god” would be a more accurate description.

    If you start from a false premise, that it’s OK to believe without evidence, then it’s a small step to all the evil stuff that all three monotheisms of Judaeism, Christianity and Islam are loaded with. Even for a benign religion like the church of England.

    The whole concept of christianity is built on terrorising children into believing, under the threat of eternal hell. The ex gay movement – or rather, industry – is an example of why the religion is rotten at the core. Never mind the disgusting message that someone else died a gruesome death for you without your say-so, and took away your responsibility. It’s not even about doing good for goodness’ sake; it’s about doing whatever you can to get a free ticket to Heaven. It’s a selfish drive, because if you yourself do not witness, you end up in hell too. You CANNOT be moral and Christian.

    Let’s just look at some rather odd logic, which it seems could only occur to a religious mind. . “……he spent ten years attempting earnestly to change people’s homosexuality, only to fail and cause more hurt.” In what way does this provide for evidence that “God does not want to change gays into straights.” Perhaps a more rational, plausible explanation, is that there is no god in the first place – and thankfully so?

    What I want to know from people like Marks is, does he have a real reason to believe in god, or was it just something he was brought up to do as a child ? This accounts for the vast majority of believers after all. It’s one thing to say there is a mind at work in the universe – an impossible proposition. It’s another to say someone is there that hears your personal prayers, cares what you do, wear, and eat, who you sleep with and how. It’s high time believers were put on the spot about this. (and provide evidence for Jesus too)

    Marks has seen that the teachings on homosexuality are stupid – I hope he can go full circle and see we have better explanations for the origins of our cosmos and species, we have better philosophy and morality too, Religion was our first attempt at all these, and like all first attempts, our worst. Walk away from this nonsense Jeremy.

    (Anyone reading this should also consider Hector Avalos’ “End of Biblical Studies” which sets out how the whole of the Bible is made up from start to finish.)

  9. Patrick Dennison 13 Aug 2008, 7:05am

    For quite a long time, Fundamentalists have gotten the whole issue of same gender affection vs. prohibited behavior wrong when citing the Bible; picking and choosing verses to support their own misunderstandings and hatred.

    They rail against homosexuals at large, and posit that GAY SEX=ANAL SEX. There are a great many men, in and outside of the so-called gay community that experience feelings of same gender affection and never engage in anal sex. Most people agree that there are straight men and gay men, but what of the men in between that don’t identify with either extreme? According to Kinsey, upwards of 60% of men experience varying degrees of same gender affection. In the Bible itself, we find the account of David & Jonathan, who experienced ‘a love exceeding the love of even women’, but the fundamentalists conveniently ignore this Biblical account of an intimate same gender relationship. Whether sex was a component is irrelevant. Fundamentalists attempt to lump all variants into the same category and this is where their hypocrisy is the most glaring. The account of David & Jonathan serves as an example that God does not frown on same gender affection, as the Bible reads that ‘God found favor…’ on their relationship. What is prohibited is ‘lying with a man AS with a woman’. Penetrative sex. The only way a man can have penetrative sex with a man, AS with a woman is to use the next available orifice – anal sex.

    G0ys oppose anal sex, and well as oppose using a fellow man as a proxy for a woman. We promote Brotherhood, Camaraderie, Masculine Respect, Responsible sexual behavior and health practices, Spiritual and Moral accountability among other beliefs that are fully outlined at http://www.g0ys.org – spelled G zer0 y s

  10. Patrick Dennison 13 Aug 2008, 7:33am

    To the few commenters here that seem to think that Jeremy Marks still supports the position that Ex-Gay Therapy and counseling still works, I think a reread of the review might be valuable. It is stated basically that he hs rejected the notion that gays can be ‘changed’ and his modified view at the conclusion of his book is that God accepts gays just as he accepts straights. My previous post expands on this last point, so I won’t be redundant.

  11. Patrick Dennison- OK, you could make a case that god accepting gays without anal intercourse is still fine and dandy, and I was under no illusion that Jeremy Marks thinks pray out the gay still works,
    However it still amounts to tampering with other people’s private lives by defering to an authority that has yet to be proven to exist. And I’m not big on “Pascal’s Wager” as evidence.
    I treat it much the same as if I was told the Easter Bunny decreed I should only eat chocolate eggs from now on. Prove to me first that the Easter bunny exists, and that it’s not someone assuming to know the mind of a non-existant entity telling me to eat nothing but chocolate eggs, then we can proceed to the thornier question of whether I should listen to the little furry pedant anyhow.

  12. I have just read Mr Marks book and want to say thank you, thank you so much for it; I have read a good deal of books on the subject and this is one of the most honest and sincere books I have read for a long time.

    I first read of Mr Marks courage in a book called “Straight to Jesus” written by a secular investigative journalist who records Mr Marks cnaging position within the church.

    He has given his entire life it seems devoted to bringing reconciliation to those struggling with the issue both within the church and those rejected by the church. All credit where it is due! I have to say that it is not a book for those hostile to a belief in a christian faith but rather it is a book for those who are spiritual and who recognise some truth in the christian faith but who get stuck with the prejudices or stated beliefs of christians. Mr Marks evidently can see the stife these issues give rise to within the church and which motivated him to write a book before the Lambeth Conference wherein it was bound to come up in debate. Apparently he gave every delegate a free copy of his book. What an act of love is that!

    Mr Marks’ book is not a very long one.May I suggest people interested in informed debate read it before critiscing it.

    I must say I am sending it to my gay hostile christian and non christian friends as it is a book seeking to bring reconciliation in an otherwise hostile debate. Thank you Mr Marks – you are a saint.

  13. this article has no moral compass. Gay “cures” are evil and poisonous…better writers please pinknews

  14. this article has no moral compass….gay “cures” are evil…better writing please!

  15. The whole hatred and despisement of gays is a generational problem. As more gay people come out of the closet ( a religious monstrosity terrorism mechanism) and kids learn that they have gay friends, the whole thing will peter away. And hopefully the churches that live in the 7th century will go the way they should have gone, eons ago, to their own graveyard – a crumbling empty building inhabited by termites, bats, and vermin.

    All these religions really are about is the euphoria of power experienced by the leaders, along with the money of course. The history of christianity is a monstrosity, which includes the 1000 year dark ages, the murder of 10’s of millions of Muslims during the crusades – 9/11, the london subway bombings etc, are just in a sense payback, for societies have long memories of the suffering.

    And then there was the burning of a million women as witches, tens of thousands tortured for daring to say the pope was wrong, eg the earth was flat, etc. And the hatred of the Jews, that promulgated under right wing christianity gave hitler the scapegoat to use to gain ultimate power, and give us wwII. And today it is the gays who suffer due to these abomination churches.

    That is what it is all about – religions so useless and full of BS, that they always have to have a scapegoat to hate, to blind people to the truth about these religions.

    To hell with them – God’s hell. Voltaire was right when he said” People will be free only when the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. His writings were part of what led to the french revolution, and there is another revolution still awaited. – to free the people from those whose belief in God is based on despicable words from ancient history, and euphoria of power they get by leading their people down the path of hatred.

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