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Andrew Marin Has A New Boyfriend

Jim Burroway

September 8th, 2010
Robert Gagnon

Robert Gagnon

And it’s none other than Prof. Rob Gagnon of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

Gagnon has a serious obsession problem and way too much time on his hands. We’ve seen his obsessive behavior before when he decided to take on BTB’s Timothy Kincaid. Now Gagnon has Andrew Marin, who sees himself as a bridge between the evangelical and LGBT communities, in his anal-retentive grasp. And as we’ve seen before, once he has his sights set on someone, he just can’t let go. And, as they say, hilarity inevitably ensues.

A few weeks ago, Marin’s outreach ministry was featured on a CBN report. I haven’t seen it, but I hear is a pretty non-critical view of Marin’s mission to reach out to the LGBT community in Chicago. Non-critical in the sense that, like Marin, the CBN report refrained from the usual polemics against gay people. Gagnon was severely put off by it, and wrote a 24-page report — that’s right, twenty four pages that were only labeled as part 1criticizing Marin’s ministry (PDF: 172 KB/24 freakin’ pages!) and Marin’s book, Love Is An Orientation. In an email to RenewAmerica’s Matt Abbott, Gagnon revealed what got him so spun up:

“I have written extensively on homosexual practice for a decade now, with two academic books published and many scholarly articles and articles for a general audience. I’m widely recognized as the world’s leading authority on the subject, certainly from a ‘traditional’ (i.e. scriptural) perspective. Yet CBN never asked me for a comment on Marin’s work, much less ever devoted an article on my work.” [Emphasis mine]

We’ve noticed this before. Gagnon really hates it when nobody recognizes him as “the world’s leading authority.” When Gagnon thinks somebody somewhere on the planet hasn’t discovered his obviously superior scholarship and omniprescient insights, he runs to the keyboard to pound out another unreadable tome to demand the world’s awe. Two years ago, when BTB’s Timothy Kincaid dared to question what he saw as Gagnon’s “unorthodox approach to doctrine,” Gagnon responded with a 3-page rant, followed by a 15-page rant. When that didn’t provoke Kincaid to fall on his knees and beg Gagnon’s forgiveness for failing to see his utter genius, Gagnon responded with a two parterat 5 pages and 19 pages respectively. When that failed to impress, Gagnon kept going, but we stopped counting the pages. Don’t worry, Gagnon didn’t. He compiled them all into one big file that topped out at 57 pages by the time we were done.

All of this was over a handful of blog posts. Andrew Marin wrote a book!

Seriously, is this what the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary pays him to do?

So anyway, having dropped Timothy a few years ago, Gagnon has found himself a new object for his affections. His original 24-page rant against Marin — and remember, that one was just Part 1! — is now followed by another 26-page rant (PDF: 152KB/26 pages! Sheesh!) dedicated to Marin’s very brief response to Part 1.

When Timothy decided to pull the plug on Gagnon, he summed it up this way:

Robert Gagnon doesn’t like to be challenged.

Perhaps that’s true of all of us. But Gagnon REALLY doesn’t like to be challenged, to the point where questioning his rather peculiar logic drives him to excesses of hyperbole and obsessive argumentativeness. This stuff just has to be read to be believed.

So Andrew, don’t let it go to your head. He does this with everybody.

Comments

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MattNYC
September 8th, 2010 | LINK

One of my favorite words, “bloviation,” jumps to mind.

MattNYC
September 8th, 2010 | LINK

I just re-looked at the definition and it fits perfectly:

bloviate
\ BLOH-vee-ayt \ , verb;

1. To speak or write at length in a pompous or boastful manner.

Timothy Kincaid
September 8th, 2010 | LINK

Jim,

Thanks for writing about this. I started to read Gagnon’s screed but could only take a page or two so I decided not to post about it. I just don’t have the time right now to dedicate to reading Robert Gagnon’s long-winded, angry, and spiteful rants.

Personally, I think it is hilarious that Gagnon not only considers himself the authority on the subject, but so do the right-wing nuts. The guy is so abrasive, extreme, illogical, and reactionary that he only hurts their cause. Even conservative Christians come under his attack if they are inadequately filled with hatred and venom.

Robert Gagnon may well be the most instrumental man in bringing about a change in understanding on the Clobber Passages simply by being the embodiment of legalism and intolerance. Anyone with any sense of decency and compassion (which includes most people who call themselves Christian) soon want nothing to do with his brand of theology.

John D
September 8th, 2010 | LINK

He lost me in the 8th line in which he used the word “homosexualist,” which is the private property of Gore Vidal.

justsearchin
September 8th, 2010 | LINK

When I held the same presuppositions that Gagnon did, mainly that the Bible is God’s inspired word to man, and that its instructions and some of its prohibitions are still applicable to us today, his writings made sense to me. I’ve since rejected these two ideas.

Some find it amusing that Gagnon regards himself as a world-wide authority on this issue. I’d agree that his pompousness is amusing, however, I would state that in the field of Biblical scholarship he is one of the leading, if not the leading, voice on this issue. After reading (all of) his book, “The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics” along with authors who disagree with Gagnon, it is clear that Gagnon is the more heady and meticulous scholar. On the Amazon review page, you can see that profs. from Princeton, Yale, and Oxford all regard this man’s work highly. I don’t think you could find a work from a contrasting point of view that has as much research and substance to back it up. If there is one, someone let me know.

Personally, I find Gagnon to be irrelevant. For those still enmeshed in the Christian faith, then a more liberal reading of scripture will magic all the problems of interpretation away.

Timothy Kincaid
September 8th, 2010 | LINK

justsearching,

Gagnon is one of the leading voices on one side of this issue. He is a very learned man, but – in my opinion – his scholarship pales compared to that of the person who raised this entire issue and who has not yet been fully or even adequately refuted: John Boswell. And, unlike Gagnon, Boswell saw his work as nothing more than an introduction, a beginning of the conversation.

Although 30 years old, Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality is still a marvel of research and substance.

TampaZeke
September 8th, 2010 | LINK

So, when is ROB coming out?

TampaZeke
September 8th, 2010 | LINK

And Jim, to be fair, it’s hard to argue that he isn’t the most amazing expert in the field on earth.

I mean come on; FIFTY SEVEN PAGES!

That’s GOT to account for something!

How many pages will it take to convince you?

TampaZeke
September 8th, 2010 | LINK

justsearching, his being the “eminent” scholar on the Bible puts him right up there with the eminent scholars on The Book of the Dead, Aesop’s Fables and Grimms Fairytales as far as his opinion’s value in the debate on legal, moral and ethical standards in modern day America.

Give me a constitutional scholar over a biblical scholar ANY day!

justsearching
September 9th, 2010 | LINK

Tampa, I agree with you 100%.

Timothy, Boswell doesn’t spend that much time going through the scriptures to interpret the pertinent passages. His work is more historical and sociological. Then again, my guess is that most Christians who accept homosexuality as OK already have a somewhat liberal understanding of scripture. They don’t listen to the likes of Gagnon, and nor do they need a scholar to cobble together a reading/study of the texts that shows homosexuality to be approved in scripture. Cause frankly, people in the 21st century shouldn’t be all that concerned with the prohibitions and restrictions of some ancient society to begin with.

Timothy Kincaid
September 9th, 2010 | LINK

justsearching,

Have you read Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality?

David
September 9th, 2010 | LINK

Gagnon appears to have complete mastery of circular logic.

To anyone who actually makes it all the way through his screeds

congratulations on your extraordinary fortitude.

David
September 9th, 2010 | LINK

So I’m walking through Gagnon’s part 1 and finding carelessness, or deception, at every turn.

For example:”Not only does he leave out texts that speak directly to the issue of homosexual practice . . . and various OT and NT texts that identify the sin of Sodom with sexual immorality: Ezek 16:49-50;”

The passage from Ezekiel refutes the notion that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality.

9 ” ‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”

Detestable things is not a reference to sexuality. It is a reference to prior passages in the same chapter:

“35 ” ‘Therefore, you prostitute, hear the word of the LORD! 36 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because you poured out your wealth [g] and exposed your nakedness in your promiscuity with your lovers, and because of all your detestable idols, and because you gave them your children’s blood, ”

“43 ” ‘Because you did not remember the days of your youth but enraged me with all these things, I will surely bring down on your head what you have done, declares the Sovereign LORD. Did you not add lewdness to all your other detestable practices? ”

These appear in the context of a lengthy rebuke that uses prostitution as a metaphor for idolatry.

Verses 50, 47, 43, 36 all use the same word (tow`ebah Strongs No. 8441) in a clear and specific assertion of idolatry that included human sacrifice.

It is important to note that the ritual sense of the tow’ebah is the primary one, because of the verses alleged to condemn homosexuality using this word, use it in the ritual sense, in the context of idolatry.

Ezekiel is very clear what he means by detestable things or abominations: human sacrifice to a false god.

Gagnon’s distortion of these two verses lifted out of context, create the accusation that the people of Israel were engaged in homosexual sex, and given Gagnon’s assertion that homosexuality is more depraved than incest, that’s a very anti-Semitic accusation.

In my opinion, Gagnon’s work is less scholarly than it is fraudulent and self-serving.

David
September 9th, 2010 | LINK

I probably lack the fortitude, and kindness of heart, to examine all of Gagnon’s part 1, but some glaring frauds are, well, glaringly apparent.

Here’s another: Romans 1:24-27

This passage begins with a concept that specifically communicates that whatever has come before is crucial to understanding what follows. Yet Gagnon deliberately avoids that information.

What is in the prior passages? An explicit context-setting description of cultic fertility rituals and idolatry.

“21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. ”

It is scholastic fraud to omit this information from his argument. Paul is arguing that the sexual abandon of fertility cults is the result of abandoning God and worshiping idols, man-made gods instead.

As readers here know, GLBTQ people do not exchange or abandon heterosexuality. But there is graffiti about the priests and priestesses of Cybele and Attis, the religion Paul was most likely addressing, that indicate that at least some, if not most, were heterosexual in their orientation.

Nor can we ignore that Paul’s point does not end where Gagnon ended it. It continues through a list of character traits that apply to just about anyone manifestation any prejudice, including homophobes, and readily visible in Gagnon’s own writings. And it concludes with the key statement that Gagnon violates:

“1You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”

Gagnon’s interpretation of 1 Cor 6:9 indicates a huge moral failing on his own part – the inability to distinguish between injustice and justice.

There’s another problem with the passage itself – as interpretted by Gagnon, it makes heterosexuality a condition for eternal life, yet Christ imposed no such condition.

One other thought, Gagnon’s argument about the complementality of the genders as proof that homosexuality is sin, is countered by Christ’s assertion that in heaven that marriage is irrelevant:

“29Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” Matthew 22

The phrase ‘like the angels’ has oft been interpreted to indicate having no gender.

And Paul in Galations 3:28:
28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

And of course, we should not neglect: Revelations 14:4: “These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb.” Which though traditionally interpreted as referring to celibate also applies to gay men.

justsearching
September 9th, 2010 | LINK

I read the introduction, the chapter on Scripture, and skimmed through some of the other chapters. I was not commenting on Boswell’s scholarly abilities; I was just saying that he wasn’t writing a book primarily focused on exegesis/hermeneutics.

Ben in Oakland
September 10th, 2010 | LINK

“I’m widely recognized as the world’s leading authority on the subject, certainly from a ‘traditional’ (i.e. scriptural) perspective. ”

Wardell Pomeroy, half of the kinsey team, said this to me personally 30 oddyears ago: “More nonsense has been written on homosexuality than any other subject except for the true nature of God.”

End of story.

Ben in Oakland
September 10th, 2010 | LINK

David– the most important word, as far as I can tell, in the hwole of that passage of romans is the word “Wherefore”.

As far as I can tell, it means that god turned people gay because they had already abandoned him. That was their punishment: to be made gay even though they were actually straight.

Ask anyone who has tried to be ex-gay aobut the futulity and the painof trying to be osmething you are not.

Timothy Kincaid
September 10th, 2010 | LINK

Ben, David, etc.

I don’t have “the answer” as to what Paul was trying to say, but this whole passage just sort of reminded me of the wholesale hedonism of a 70’s rock star.

David
September 10th, 2010 | LINK

“David– the most important word, as far as I can tell, in the hwole of that passage of romans is the word “Wherefore”.”

i agree that the wherefore, or therefore, or for this reason, depending on translation that begins verse 24 is critical information.

The description in verses 21-23 describe idolatry. Archeologists have documented a specific fertility religion in Rome centered on Cybele and Attis. Attis was a castrated god. Priests, at least some of whom were heterosexual according to remaining graffiti, castrated themselves to become Cybele, the goddess, and had sex with worshippers to invoke Cybele’s blessing of fertility.

It isn’t that esoteric or obscure a piece of information, there is no excuse for someone of Gagnon’s self-reported authority not knowing about, and applying, this information. Its even in wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cybele

Timothy Kincaid
September 10th, 2010 | LINK

David,

Considering that Christianity – with the death-resurrection of Christ – may have appealed on some level to the followers of Cybele (or perhaps even been confused with a subset of the Cybele Cult), it would makes sense on some level for Paul to wish to make a distinction.

F
September 28th, 2010 | LINK

I review that lout’s book on my blog:
http://aholeboyfriend.blogspot.com/search/label/the%20bible%20and%20homosexual%20practice

Cyril Mahling
October 4th, 2010 | LINK

justsearchin wrote :

“I don’t think you could find a work from a contrasting point of view that has as much research and substance to back it up. If there is one, someone let me know.”

Well, equally learned books from a ‘liberal’ viewpoint now exist, though they failed to attract any comment by Gagnon : Susan Ackerman, When Heroes Love. The Ambiguity of Eros in the Stories of Gilgamesh and David (New York, Columbia University Press, 2005), and Jean-Fabrice Nardelli, Homosexuality and Liminality in the ‘Gilgamesh’ and ‘Samuel’ (Amsterdam, Adolf M. Hakkert, 2007). Both of these scholars exhibit an impressive erudition, not only in Hebrew, but, unlike Gagnon, in the cuneiform languages too, with Nardelli deploying a first-hand knowledge of Egyptian. Equally unlike Gagnon, they do not confine themselves with English-speaking scholarship, but use German and even French erudition.

For those interested in reading a detailed rebuke of Gagnon’s handling of the Leviticus ban, Nardelli has a 3000-word reply which bristles with bibliography and ancient evidence at http://eruditionis-causa.blogspot.com/2010/06/gagnon-on-condemnation-of-same-gender.html

Patrick ONeill
March 4th, 2011 | LINK

Now he is on CNN

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/03/my-take-the-bible-really-does-condemn-homosexuality/?hpt=C2

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