Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Mind of the Fundamentalist

The George Reker scandal is a perfect opportunity to dissect the mind of the Christian fundamentalist and to expose the root problem of fundamentalism. The fundamentalist argues that the Bible is the infallible, inspire, inerrant word of God. But, they quickly run into problems. The Bible and reality do not correspond very well. So the fundamentalist is forced to distort reality or change their theology.

Since fundamentalists, by definition, refuse to change their theology on such matters or accept that the Bible simply isn't what they pretend it is, they end up in a game of mental gymnastics where they try to forced reality into fitting their stilted, stunted view of the world.

In many senses the fundamentalist is like the New Age wacko who argues that reality is what you perceive it to be and that there is no "real" nature to anything. According to them everything is what we perceive it to be, or our perceptions shape reality. The fundamentalist believes the world is what the Bible says it is, whether it fits that description of not.

So they invent theories of "intelligent design," or creationism relabelled, in order to explain existence. Evolution, they know, has to be false, not because the evidence indicates it is false, but because it doesn't fit their Bible. Sometimes this attempt to force reality into the confines of Scripture leads to some painful and absurd results.

Often this forces the believer to assert that black is white and white is black. The Bible says no man has seen God, the Bible also says Moses saw God, spoke to him face to face, and saw the "hindparts" of God. Moses was a man. So did Moses the man see God, or has no man seen God? I ask one fundamentalist that question and couldn't get an answer at all. They kept saying, "That's not a contradiction." But repeating it over and over, as they did, doesn't mean the contradiction isn't a contradiction. But there can't be contradictions because it doesn't fit the premises they begin with. Their ability to see things accurately is subservient to their desire to see everything as being in correspondence with the Bible.

George Rekers is one of them, but Ted Haggard, and Lonnie Latham are other examples. Let us first clarify what Rekers did.

Rekers, is an advocate of "reparative therapy" a form of "psychology" created by Christians in order to prove that the Bible is right about the nature of homosexuality. According to these Christians no one is actually gay, homosexuals don't exist. What the world sees as a homosexual is merely a sinful heterosexual who is defying God.

Rekers, you will remember hired a male prostitute from Rentboy.com to travel with him to Europe. The young man had two jobs. One is that he was to help carry luggage and the other was the had to strip naked every day and give Rekers a nude massage. This meant doing what Rekers called the "long stroke" which involved rubbing Rekers' erection and the area between his legs and buttocks. Rekers was sexual aroused but avoid actual orgasm and wanted only this form of sexual touching, not any form of penetration.

So, when Rekers comes back and denies that his escapades with a naked male prostitute indicate he is homosexual he is merely repeating the fundamentalist mantra that no one is homosexual. You could be a gay man, engaged in some wild orgy with a dozen or two other men, with every possible orifice being filled by the tumescent organs of other men and you AREN'T gay. No one is. Everyone is heterosexual. Just some heterosexuals are living by God's word and others aren't.

If you read the literature that these Christians produce they speak of gay men as being individuals "struggling with same-sex attractions," not individuals who are gay. Oddly they deny that anyone is gay while claiming that celibate homosexuals are "ex-gays." How can someone be ex-gay if no one is ever gay? This is the the sort of absurd contradictions they are forced to endure in order to make reality fit their theology.

This is similar to the same logic I saw in faith-healing circles. They argued God wanted to heal everyone, except when he didn't want to heal. But one had to "claim" the healing. You had to act as if you were healed in spite of any "tricks from the Devil" to persuade you otherwise, such as symptoms that remain, blood tests, etc. To claim this healing you had to prove your faith as doubt on your part would lose you the healing. And faith meant ignoring things like medication. So people threw out their medication, claimed they were healed and often died as a result. Sure they were dead, but they died faithful to their religious beliefs. Not that such a thing is great consolation to the dead, who are, after all, dead. But they don't believe that either.

When Rekers says he is not gay he is telling the truth if you accept the premises of his religion—that no one is gay. And I have no doubt he drew limits on his sexual expression so that he inched right up to the border but didn't cross it. Like Bill Clinton pretending oral sex isn't really sex, Rekers pretended what he did wasn't really sex. So he could honestly play around with young men and pretend that this isn't sexual and he isn't homosexual. He just hired a luggage lifter.