bandy, verb: 1. To pass from one to another or back and forth; give and take. 2. To throw or strike to and fro or from side to side, as a ball in tennis. 3. To circulate freely.
Some days social media just hands it to me in a neat little package with a bow.
I was tipped off to the fact that this weekend (on Friday around noon, to be precise), John Piper, the homophobic pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in downtown Minneapolis, went on the following homophobic rant:
I’m not really sure what set him off this time, aside from Maryland’s upcoming vote to approve same-sex marriage, but I love the fact that he started his rant with a self-fulfilling prophesy. And that all this translates to: “The sky is falling!”
To briefly address each of these tweets one-by-one, as I just said, by quoting 1 Corinthians 4:12, he’s giving himself license to throw up his hands later and say, “We told them they were going to hate us!” He’s refusing to take responsibility for the wrong-headed, offensive nature of his theology that prevents him from accepting anyone who doesn’t live up to his notion of what a decent human being is supposed to be.
As to his second tweet (which rings mildly treasonous), as the Fifth Doctor said of the Daleks, “However you respond them is seen as an act of provocation.” Conservative fundamentalism is and has been living in a wartime mindset for quite some time, convinced as they are that we are living in the End Times and that the return of Jesus is nigh. They are also convinced that the person of Satan is actively working in the world to pervert it and incite the human race into rebellion (deliberate or inadvertent) against god. This tweet won’t make make sense unless you understand that very important point.
To the third—well, I’ll get to that in a minute.
To the last one, his definition of marriage is so narrow and based on something that is itself a fiction that to tie it into something as insoluble as “the glory of god” would be laughable if it wasn’t tragic. If you aren’t familiar with that phrase, one of the central themes of Piper’s teaching is the primacy of the Glory of God, a concept that is found throughout the bible, but may be more familiar to Catholic and Anglican readers from the answer to the first question from the Westminster Shorter Catechism:
What is the chief end of man?
Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
Now, I may not be a deity, but if I handed you a list of ways I felt were acceptable for you to show your love for me, you’d be quite right to call me a narcissist. After all, that’s in the very DSM-IV criterion for narcissism.
I don’t have to tell you that I think Piper terribly wrong, or that he’s dangerous and a societal menace. But through his Pie In The Sky theology, he is directing everyone who listens to him (and there are a lot of them who literally hang on his every word) to be precisely the opposite of the qualities that the figurehead of his religion exemplified in the Gospels (if you leave out the crazy bits like cursing fig trees)—namely, showing love, acceptance, charity and generosity towards your fellow human beings.
And these are the people of my state who will be going out in November in droves to vote in the affirmative for the constitutional amendment defining marriage as only being between a man and a woman.
Tell me again that religion is harmless.
Now, to that pesky third tweet. The insanity of these reformed theology fundamentalists is how they pick and choose which parts of their bible they will apply to the rest of the world—as if the rest of the world was somehow supposed to recognize the authority of a 2,000 year-old book authored by a xenophobic Bronze Age tribe obsessed with blood and sexual purity. For instance, since they’re so hot for quoting Leviticus when they’re bashing gays:
“You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it. You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes. You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard. You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.”
— Leviticus 19:26-28 (English Standard Version)
How many Christians do you know who openly sport tattoos, trim their facial hair, read horoscopes and eat rare steaks?
“But that’s the Old Testament” the contemporary Christian whines. “Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets. We don’t have to follow those old laws anymore.”
Then it stands to reason that if he fulfilled the ones above, then he also fulfilled all the rest, including Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13; and if those have been nullified, then the whole rest of the case for homosexuality being a “sin” falls apart. And what is John Piper and that third tweet of his left with at that point other than prejudice and bigotry? For that matter, what is the American Family Association, Peter LaBarbera, James Dobson, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann and the denizens of fear and ignorance left with?
The sad truth is that they, along with the rest of America that refuses to progress, will be dragged kicking and screaming into obsolescence, watching in a prison of self-imposed horror like Elizabeth Báthory as their influence withers and wanes before their little despotic eyes.
If gays are allowed to marry, will that endanger heterosexual marriages? Nope. As it’s been observed, the only people threatening heterosexual marriage are heterosexuals.
If teens are taught about safe sex or *gasp* the existence of homosexuals in school, will they turn gay? Nope, although apparently the American Life League would seem to disagree slightly.