A Very Happy Easter

A very happy Easter holidays to all of our Christian and non-Christian readers!

Contrary to the predictions of a demographic Islamic boom by the likes of Mark Steyn, it would appear that, somewhat surprisingly, Christianity is the world’s fastest growing religion. This claim is made in ‘The Next Christendom’ by Philip Jenkins and is reviewed in Quadrant and the NY Times.

But it is not the Western-centric Christianity that is providing the growth. The self-loathing and guilt-ridden calls by the head of the Anglican Church, Dr. Williams, to accommodate Sharia Law, or by our very own Reverend John Evans to dump Good Friday as a national holiday and replace it with a National Reconciliation Day recognising Aborigines, or by the Vatican to desist from buying plastic bags are not exactly putting bums on pews.

No – the growth is coming from ‘the poorest of the poor’ in Africa and Asia and the brand is Pentecostalism. It is spreading so fast because of the instruction to its members to go forth and proselytise. Pentecostals (or ‘Charismatics’) are even growing fast here in Australia, thanks to the Hillsong Church (as made famous by Australian Idol).

Authoritarian, patriarchal and deeply conservative, the Pentecostals are now a force to be reckoned with.

16 thoughts on “A Very Happy Easter

  1. Happy Easter to you, too, Australia. Here in the U.S., the Pentecostals (‘Evangelicals’) were the decisive factor in the re-election of George Bush, when four million who had not bothered to vote in 2000 showed up in 2004. They are a potent force in U.S. politics, famous for their organzation, media savvy, dedication to families, and abhorence of socialism.

    An interesting thing about the rapid growth of Evangelicism is its inroads into staid, Roman Catholic countries in Latin America, and its foothold in sub-Sahara Africa (Rwanda has recently opened to a major evangelical expansion, to help counter the Catholic priests who allegedly participated in the massacre). Many Anglican churches in Africa are ‘apostolic’ (aka ‘evangelical’), attracting such huge numbers of parishoners that several conservative American white Anglicans now look to African black bishops for spiritual guidance, a fascinating conundrum for the American church’s leadership.

    Evangelicals are fierce lovers of liberty and small government, but they are just as fierce in their opposition to license, especially if that license threatens family values. They are a potent political force “to be reckoned with,”, indeed.

  2. The problem with Christianity is it’s probably about the most anti-sex belief system in the history of the universe.

    ‘Licence’ means permission to do something that would otherwise be illegal, or illicit. So when we talk about the opposition of christians to ‘license that threatens family values’, they include in that, any and ever human sexual behaviour that does not comply with the church’s traditional doctrine of monogamy.

    The Christian view of human sexuality, that one should remains a sexually inactive virgin until marriage and then, if you are to have sex at all, marry and then have sex with no-one but one’s spouse, and preferably not for pleasure, until one dies, is sick sick sick. Yet the Christians have it all upside down and inside out. From their point of view, it’s that kind monogamy that is not only normal, but sacred, while all other sexuality is a ‘distortion’ of human sexuality.

    But the problem with the Christian view of sexuality is that it is so far from real actual human values and behaviour that virtually no-one complies with this standard, even in the countries and cultures that are Christian. And those who do, forego many of the pleasures and benefits that a better sex life would bring. Even the inner sanctum, the priesthood, doesn’t comply with their own sexual creed, and have been notoriously wanking into their cassocks and fucking altar boys up the arse for the last two thousand years.

    From the inside looking out, Christianity is about Jesus dying to save man from sin etc. blah blah blah, a jumbled incoherent load of codswallop.

    But from the outside looking in, Christianity resembles nothing so much as a sexual perversion. Sick sick sick.

    The preferred Christian way of dealing with the entire topic of sex is to ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist. That’s why for example, you will look in vain in the Bible for teachings on how even married males and females are supposed to relate to each other sexually. The very idea provokes a horror in Christians, who think that sexuality and spirituality are polar opposites.

    Then if they can’t ignore it, the next approach is to repress it. The focus of repression has changed over the years, but it seems to be an abiding characteristic of Christian culture that there is some kind of repression of consensual sexual activity going on at some time. For example, this time a hundred years ago, there were serious widespead attempts to stop masturbation on the ground that it is abusive. The same has been said of sexual activities between members of the same sex, involving sex for money, with multiple wives, and so on. The current hysteria over paedophilia is an example. At Tamworth recently parents were prohibited from taking photos of their own children fully clothed at the school concert: ‘child pornography’.

    Christians of all stripes have only been ambivalently libertarian. They believe in liberty of conscience for themselves. However they have traditionally been very keen on using the power of the state to criminalise behaviour that doesn’t comply their own religious opinions, for example in Australia the illegalisation of bigamy and polygamy, and until recently the illegalisation of homosexuality.

  3. From their point of view, it’s that kind monogamy that is not only normal, but sacred, while all other sexuality is a ‘distortion’ of human sexuality.

    Actually I think that the Catholic Church at least goes to considerable length to explain that many prohibitied forms of sexuality are within the nature of humans. That is what the whole deal with original sin is all about. We are born sinners and the Christian faith never really claims otherwise. Whether you would prefer some term other than “sin” to describe our natural human sexuality is another matter.

  4. Even so, that just says it all, doesn’t it?

    The church takes human sexuality as it is, let us suppose,, and then declares everything that doesn’t consist of married heterosexual monogamy to be morally damnable. The book of Genesis, in talking about the origin of original sin, talks only about eating forbidden fruit. But there is a general agreement in Christian doctrine that what it all refers to is sex, even though the text doesn’t mention sex. At first, God created everything and it was good. Then next thing you know, everything about sex is shameful, sinful, dreadful, obscene, and so on. By their mere awareness of being naked, or by sex, the humans have committed a moral evil that justifies condemning all posterity to eternal torture, and requires the killing of the only truly good person (his gooodness just happens to include the characteristics of having been born without the need for any sexual act, and who himself never committed any sexual act). From then on, it’s downhill all the way. Every mention of every sex act is negative. Even the song of Solomon was traditionally glossed in the King James Bible as the song of ‘Christ’s love for his church’ ie not about sexual love at all.

    The whole thing is so consistently and inexplicably negative about sex, it’s as though being sex-negative is its whole purpose.

  5. I suspect that sex was a sourse of a lot of trouble in early civilisation. Whether it was sleeping with your neighbours wife or bearing unwanted children all of them would have cause social strife. As they still do today. In an age before contraception and medical means to deal with STDs I can see some reason in teaching your young ones some negative beliefs about sex. However is the chrisitian tradition really more negative about sex than most traditional religions? Some comparisons might be informative.

  6. Whether it was sleeping with your neighbours wife or bearing unwanted children all of them would have cause social strife. As they still do today.

    My neighbours are not that attractive, so I haven’t got any personal experience to confirm that. Did it cause strife in your case Terje?

  7. In my bible, called “The Jewish Bible”, because they use jewish names throughout for Jewish people (‘Jesus’ is rendered as Yeshua, which itself is derived from the Hebrew for Salvation), The Letter to the Hebrews has the advice that Sex within a marriage is always good and beneficial. And I should point out that at least the Christian viewpoint allowed some divorce as valid- Hinduism never did, and still doesn’t! And no culture thinks that promiscuity is good- it may put up with it, but whilst boys and men can be studs, a sexually-active woman is usually considered a slut. This seems to be human nature at work, so please don’t blame Christianity.

  8. Charles Fried (Harvard Law School) has a new book out, and he makes the case for human sexuality as one of the two major grounds for freedom. In his book, he notes that all repessors of freedom begin by trying to control sex.

    Happy Easter, Australia!

  9. Women aren’t attract to libertarian ideas for the same majority the vast majority of men aren’t: go to a libertarian forum and you find mountains of abuse, aggression, arrogance, and know-it-alls. How many discussion threads lack any personal invective?

  10. When I slept with my neighbour’s wife, I actually used the occasion solely to catch up on some *sleep*, unlike the damnable whore-mongers who consider such fortunes an occasion to have promiscuous sex.

    As for the book of Hebrews being authority for the proposition that Christianity affirms that sex is good in marriage, we know the Christians think that, although it is true that the Catholic church hedged it around with so many qualifications as to make it impractical about six months out of twelve. It’s all other sexuality that they think is abhorrent. The author of the letter to the Hebrews was not Jesus of course. Was it Paul? I forget. Anyway, as I recall, he was saying that *if * you absolutely can’t refrain from sex (which is the preferred state), *then * marry to contain the polluting tendency within its sanctioned depository. But to this day the Catholic church thinks that even married sex, to be alright, must contain the possibility of conception, thus persisting in the sex-phobic fallacy that the primary function of sex is reproduction. And affirming that they think sex is okay, so long as it’s in marriage and for reproduction, is more of the intellectual dishonesty which virtually defines Christianity.

    Judaism has a similarly constrained view of sex as its descendant Christianity.

    Islam, so far as I understand it, is not so sex-phobic. At least the Prophet was a sexual being, who liked sex and enjoined both man and woman to enjoy themselves and oblige each other; unlike the Messiah, who was a non-sexual being. Islam also approves of multiple wives, which I think is a sign of a positive attitude towards sexual pleasure – at least compared to a view that you should have one wife your whole life, and no other sex besides.

    Hinduism similarly approved of both multiple wives and concubines. I take it as axiomatic that it is in the interest of the man at least to have multiple sexual partners in his life.

    The three semitic mono-theisms – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – would appear to be the most sex-phobic of religions, and Christianity easily tops them all for horror and hatred of sex.

    The religions of ancient Greece and Rome were much more accepting of sex than any of the Big Three monotheisms. And from the little I know of the traditional religions of Africa, the Americas, Papua New Guinea, and Australia, so were they, at least to the extent of allowing multiple wives.

    Taoism in particular views sex as part of life, health and happiness, and counseled detailed sexual learning and refinement. The Taoist view is that something that is natural, pleasurable and health-giving cannot be immoral. Taoists see sex in a similar light to cuisine: a natural appetite, the satisfaction of which brings harmless pleasure in life. In our primitive state we may have wolfed down our food without an idea of any refinement, but civilized man learns to variegate and prolong the pleasures. The Taoist language of sex is poetic: there is none of the course ignorance or medical sterility that characterizes the language of Christian cultures towards sex.

    As for human nature, I believe that condemning sexually active women came about as part of the moral revolution that followed from the recognition of physical paternity, of which the church has been the foremost protagonist. I believe that before people understood the connection between men, sex and babies, the division into married-virtuous and promiscuous-slut had not happened yet, and the general attitude towards sexually active women was that such behaviour – especially in consideration of material payment of some kind – was regarded as normal. On this view, the monotheisms in general and the church in particular have been the main forces in propagating the sex-hating view that sexually active women are sluts. It is the necessar corollary of promoting matrimony (=’mother-money’).

  11. When I slept with my neighbour’s wife, I actually used the occasion solely to catch up on some *sleep*, unlike the damnable whore-mongers who consider such fortunes an occasion to have promiscuous sex.

    Er, is promiscuous sex when you keep doing it until you can’t stay awake and your dick hurts? Sorry if that’s damnable, but I liked it. But I tend to disapprove of God, so perhaps that makes us even.

    I don’t know why you are so hard on religion Justin. I always found Catholic girls exceptionally willing. With a picture of the Pope above their bed and a crucifix around their neck, they bang like a dunny door. The Catholic boys could never figure it out (they still believed their dicks would dry up and fall off), which gave the rest of us a hell of a start.

    Guilt is the absolute best aphrodisiac.

  12. I’m writing as an (American)Christian. Obviously, I cannot speak for all Christians. Given that Christians are still in the process of being made whole, many of us have not gotten it right when it comes to the subject of sex. However, when folks do not believe in God (especially in the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus [Yeshua]), then they end up being their own gods, making up their own “rules.” Ironically, they also complain when the rest of the world does not accept or play by their rules. And, when they are dogmatic and self-righteous as those Christians (and others) they may correctly criticize, there can be little dialog.

    As I read and understand Genesis 3, the sin had nothing to do with sex. It had everything to do with humans deciding they don’t need God, that they could acquire sufficient wisdom and knowledge to god or sovereign over their own lives. History is adequate testimony to how false that assumption has been.

    For all the comments about sex and sexuality, I have not yet read anything here about love. From my perspective, the context for talk about sexual behavior is love. Heterosexual, monogamous, committed relationship of mutual loving, giving, and caring (i.e., marriage). All else is only a manifestation of human brokenness (the result of sin). To divorce sexual pleasure from spiritual-emotional communion enabled by God’s presence and guidance (not as sexual being, but as Love and as Designer and Giver of sexuality)is to dissect humans into being merely the sum of of only some of our parts… I would go further with this, but my world view is obviously at odds with those to whom I respond. Without our mutually understanding this difference in perspectives, I suspect what I’ve already said will not be understood in the spirit in which I write. Rather I probably sound moralistic and self-righteous. If so, I apologize for inadequacy in expression. I do not intend insult or injury, only clarity.

    Suffice it to say for now that we do not need license to love. God already gives believers freedom to love. In Jesus the Messiah, God provides the way to be made whole and wholely free, a freedom and wholeness governments can only attempt to regulate and restrict. License is needed only when one desires to exercise “liberty” that is merely disguised tyranny… With apologies to Shakespeare, it appears to me that the one who repeatedly protests about others being “sick, sick, sick,” doth protest a bit too much.

  13. I’m don’t think history shows God made laws working better than man made laws. If anything the later seem to have done better. Of course in my view the first lot were also man made but hopefully you get my drift.

  14. Sex and the married Muslim

    Sexpert to the Arab world Dr. Heba Kotb discusses female pleasure, halal sex and curing homosexuality.

    Jun. 06, 2007 | Veiled by a hijab, Dr. Heba Kotb appears weekly on a hit Arab TV show called “The Big Talk” with a message for Muslims: Have more sex — and hot sex — in the name of Allah.

    Kotb, the first licensed sexologist in Egypt, believes that sex is a gift Allah intended for humans; her divine mission is to make sure that they’re enjoying it. Every week, viewers throughout the Muslim world flood her station with calls, hoping to have their most embarrassing and intimate questions answered on-air. All sorts of sexual queries are allowed, with one snag: Sexual relations outside of marriage are haram (prohibited by Islam) and not open to discussion. In fact, Kotb, a wife and mother of three, draws her sex advice directly from the Quran. According to her textual analysis, the Prophet Mohammed encouraged frequent sex and foreplay and decreed that female pleasure is, um, actually kind of important. She delivers these sexual dictates with the dryness of a doctor and the conviction of a fundamentalist, but she’s also prone to jarring fits of laughter.

    To the Western world — where gray-haired sex educator Sue Johanson can be seen on TV simulating oral sex on six inches of silicone — Kotb’s call-in show would seem relatively quaint and her views on homosexuality downright regressive. But, to much of the Muslim world, the 39-year-old — who appears fresh-faced and prim, save her heavily kohl-lined eyes — is considered a radical liberal. Not surprisingly, though, her work has drawn the attention of extremist Islamic clerics: Sheik Youssef al-Badri declared that her work only “increases the number of sex perverts.” But viewers were aching for a show like hers, she says, because sex education in Egypt is “nonexistent.” In fact, it was while studying stateside to become a surgeon that Kotb discovered there was a world of sexual knowledge that had been withheld from her — so she decided to take a dramatically different path and pursue a degree in clinical sexology. Years later she returned to Cairo and opened her own sex clinic; the demand for her services is so high that she’s booked months in advance.

    Kotb recently talked to Salon by phone from Cairo and explained why good sex is God’s will, female masturbation is wrong and homosexuals are akin to alcoholics.

    You’ve said you believe that by having more sex, married couples will please Allah. Why?

    Whenever you have sex you get rewarded because you’re avoiding the woman being prone to have sex outside of the marriage and vice versa. It’s a way to please each other in our world and to please Allah.

    Is the Quran concerned with female pleasure?

    Yes, it is. The biggest chapter of the Quran is called “The Cow.” There is a verse talking about the woman’s rising pleasure. It’s an order to the man to give the woman the right to have pleasure — it orders the man to give the woman foreplay and also to get the wife to have sex repeatedly and to not wait for the woman to ask because sometimes she’s too shy to ask.

    You’ve blamed Egypt’s high divorce rate on “bad sex.” But why is the country stricken with “bad sex”?

    I think that probably more than 80 percent of divorces in Egypt are from a lack of sex education. Sex is a taboo; it’s not to be discussed or complained about. A lot of people didn’t know that they could complain about sex.

    Why is sex such a controversial topic in the Muslim world?

    It’s culture — it’s not Islam, whatsoever. Islam is a very liberal and progressive religion. It invites people to have sex, of course within the marital frame. Prophet Mohammed never showed any offense to anyone asking about sexuality. On the contrary, he responded to every single question. The thing is, the culture overwhelms this.

    What do you think about the in-your-face American approach to sex and sexuality?

    I’m totally against this. It’s harmful — sex loses its luster and its preciousness. God orders that sex remains precious, like a pearl — it’s not just for everyone. A balance has to be built: This is allowed, this is not allowed; this is halal, this is haram. Sex is one of the things that is forbidden before marriage and outside of marriage; on the other hand, it’s allowed within marriage with a lot, a lot of freedom. This creates a balance. In the American approach everything is allowed — you can have sex at any age, on any occasion.

    Who do you think is having better sex — Americans or Egyptians?

    Well, I’m not a witness. [Laughs.] Believe it or not, I’ve been to several countries for various conferences and it’s quite the same everywhere — there are the same problems. I don’t think one group is having better sex than the other, but there is great individual variation. Those who are open, clear with each other and confront the problems they are having are far ahead.

    You have encouraged women to explore their bodies — does that include masturbation?

    The woman, by means of instinct, does not need masturbation. She’s not like the man whatsoever. It’s not a call of nature for her. So that’s why I’m not very sympathetic with young women and girls choosing to masturbate. They’re ruining their sexual future — a woman has to remain blank until she gets married and by masturbating she’s forming her sexuality.

    What if a woman masturbates during marriage?

    There’s no need! If her husband is operative and they’re having sex, there’s no need.

    As forward-thinking as you are in some respects, you’re hardly a liberal by Western standards. What are your feelings on homosexuality?

    [Laughs] Well, I have a very famous opinion about homosexuality. I’m totally against homosexuality being considered a gene or natural. It’s a sin — they’re just like the alcoholics and the drug-takers. I’m also the reason for a lot of patients to have been cured — so, no, I can’t believe that it is natural.

    So you’ve cured people of their homosexuality?

    A lot, yes — maybe over 30 or 40 now. They were extremely obedient and followed my instructions for a whole nine months to one year. Now these patients are married to women, have kids and desire women even on the level of daydreams and night dreams.

    Has a caller on your show ever asked a question that made you blush?

    I don’t get embarrassed — it’s my job. In Islam, everything between a husband and wife is allowed sexually, except for two things: anal intercourse and intercourse during menstruation. One caller said she desired to be penetrated from behind. I got mad because this is a closed subject — this is haram. Being asked this question on the air makes me uncomfortable about giving the answers. When I’m inside my own office, it’s easier — you don’t have to watch what you say.

    What kind of a response have you received to your show?

    For me, the response was extremely positive from everyone. I’ve been told some people think of my show as being extremely revealing and that it’s teaching people how to have sex and encouraging young men and women to have sex outside marriage. But I don’t care about this argument, because it’s not right.

    What are your husband’s feelings on your career?

    He’s busy too — much more busy than I am. I’m blessed; if he were not, I would be living in a big problem. He has been extremely supportive all throughout my life. He used to be my colleague in college. We fell in love in our third year of school. He knows how important my work is to me and he knows that being supportive is the way to my heart. He’s my first priority in my world — he’s my love, he’s my sweetheart. Maybe that’s why I’m giving good advice for spouses. Throughout our 15 years of marriage, I have never stopped loving him.

  15. Easter – A Muslim Viewpoint – What makes Good Friday Good? – By Ahmad Deedat. watch the main lecture on this video which starts around 24min in to the clip. its an amazing video where Ahmad Deedat explains the good friday from the Muslim perpective but uses only the Bible to prove the point, this lecture was given in fron of hundreds of Christians and muslims at the town hall

    If you can not see the Video File please download the free Divx Player from here: http://www.divx.com/

    http://www.dar-ul-ishaat.com/blog/index.php?/archives/1861-Easter-A-Muslim-Viewpoint-What-makes-Good-Friday-Good.html

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