50 Shades of The ‘Gospel Coalition’

50 Shades of The ‘Gospel Coalition’ August 22, 2013

Crazy Jane Talks With The Gospel Coalition

I met Thabiti Anyabwile
And much said he and I.
‘Those breasts are flat and fallen now,
Those veins must soon be dry;
Live in a heavenly mansion,
Not in some foul sty.’

‘Fair and foul are near of kin,
And fair needs foul,’ I cried.
‘My friends are gone, but that’s a truth
Nor grave nor bed denied,
Learned in bodily lowliness
And in the heart’s pride.

‘A woman can be proud and stiff
When on love intent;
But Love has pitched his mansion in
The place of excrement;
For nothing can be sole or whole
That has not been rent.’

Apart from the first line, that’s actually “Crazy Jane Talks With the Bishop,” by W.B. Yeats.

“The bishop” in Yeats’ poem felt an almost physical revulsion at the idea of sex or of women or of bodies. He finds all those things icky. And he assumes that anything he finds icky must be wicked.

The Rev. Thabiti Anyabwile. (Photo courtesy of HotCalvinistDirtyTalk.com.)

That same puckered revulsion is the basis of Thabiti Anyabwile’s entire argument against gay people. He imagines what gays and lesbians may do together in private, savoring every lurid detail. And then he suggests that other people’s private acts are somehow more shameful than his public fascination with other people’s private acts.

Reciprocity calls for a response to Anyabwile’s post in which someone describes his sex life in the same kind of detached, contextless graphic detail he attempts in his description of gay sex. Such a description would, of course, prompt an ick-response from anyone who read it (probably including Anyabwile himself, and certainly including Mrs. Anyabwile). It would, at least, if it were as clumsily body-phobic as Anyabwile’s own attempt to write about other people’s sex — which reads like excerpts from the World’s Most Awkward Sexter.

Anyabwile’s third-rate attempt at writing porn isn’t repulsive because of the acts he attempts — and fails — to describe (or to spell).

It’s repulsive because he’s a creepy, creepy, creepy voyeur. Thabiti Anyabwile is a peeper, a trench-coated figure lurking in the hedges outside other people’s windows.

His insistence that he staunchly disapproves of the private behavior he can’t keep himself from ogling only makes him more creepy, not less.

“What they’re doing in there is just wrong,” he mutters, straining to peek between the blinds. “I’ve been watching them from right here in the bushes for months now, and what they’re doing with one another is just disgusting.”

The man needs help. Until he gets it, warn the children to avoid this creepy, creepy man.



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  • dpolicar

    For my own part, I’m fond of the meme that homophobes and other soi-disant crusaders for sexual purity are queer and closeted… not necessarily gay, but experiencing some departure from what they think of as “normal” sexuality that they’re ashamed of, and projecting their rejection of their own sexuality onto the rest of the world.

    That said, I certainly agree that it’s not universally true.

    Mostly, I like the meme because it’s really effective at subverting the prevailing “I’ll condemn you to ensure that I am beyond reproach” meme. I endorse establishing the convention that obsessively condemning others’ lifestyles invites skeptical scrutiny of one’s own.

    But I do see your point about “devouring our own.”

  • dpolicar

    NOM comes close to suggesting that same-sex marriage leads to straight parents turning gay and abandoning their families

    Not just same-sex marriage; the argument is typically that the general cultural acceptability of queer folk has this effect.

    Because, y’know, if queer life isn’t constantly punished then fewer people will choose to live a straight life, and the important thing is that everyone either choose to live a straight life or be destroyed.

  • dpolicar

    My favorite demonstration of this sort of thing is: take a clean glass. Spit into it. Drink the saliva.

    A sensible species would have no problem with this… after all, it just came out of my mouth!

    Many people just can’t bring themselves to do it.

  • JP

    Carstonio, I’ve posted various versions of my remarks above on multiple conversations surrounding the Gospel Coalition piece, not just here, because I’ve seen people say over and over again that, “Oh, Anyabwile must be gay.” And I don’t think people who say it understand what that sounds like to many queer folks. It sounds like they’re saying straight people aren’t capable of that level of hatred. And not only is that untrue, it’s another example of the avoidance of responsibility I too often see from people who do not identify as queer, even those who may identify as LGBTQ allies. (For what it’s worth, I sometimes hear the same allegations from within the queer community, and it makes me cringe just as much. We *all* need to think through our rhetoric and consider the implications of it, lest we end up shooting ourselves in the collective foot.)

    I’m not sure, either, that it’s better to target “people who make a career out of denouncing gays” than vocal homophobes in general as likely to be gay themselves. I understand that there have been high-profile cases where such denouncers turned out to experience same- sex attraction (whether they identify as gay or not is a different story). But we remember those instances because they’re the exception, rather than the rule.

    They’re also something to be mourned. People who turn their gnawing, internalized self-hatred outwards as well as inwards are casualties of homophobic stigma just as surely as any other queer person suffering oppression. That stuff doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s part and parcel of living in a queerphobic society; the messages we receive from a very early age shape us, regardless of identity or orientation, and often against our will. If Pastor Anyabwile, or anyone else serving as a mouthpiece for the kind of hateful filth he’s expressed, does turn out to be gay, then I will mourn for him. Because no one who hasn’t experienced the level of stigma it takes to inculcate that kind of self-hatred could begin to understand the kind of hell he’s been living in his whole life.

  • JP

    I agree that obsessive and public condemnation invites
    scrutiny. But why assume that queerness must be at the root of it? Of all the scandals I can recall involving religious figures prone to homophobic rants- and believe me, I can recall a fair few- I remember far more incidents of heterosexual indiscretions, and occasionally pedophilia. As I said above in my reply to Carstonio, we remember the queer indiscretions because they’re unusual and ironic, not because they’re ubiquitous. And beyond that, it just doesn’t give me any satisfaction to see a high-profile homophobe caught in one. It makes me deeply sad and painfully reflective. I don’t know, the further I get from 40, the harder it is for me to engage in meaningful schadenfreude. (Cue “September Song” playing in the background…)

  • When there is a sizable body of anecdotal evidence that shows that the men in anti-QUILTBAG movements have a long and storied history of seeking out same-sex sexual contact…

    I’ll goddamn well call a spade a spade.

    And I’m a QUILTBAG person, too, PS.

  • dpolicar

    Late August mornings still can make me feel that way.

    > why assume that queerness must be at the root of it?

    Obsessive and public condemnation of queer sexuality invites skeptical scrutiny of the condemner’s own sexuality. Obsessive and public condemnation of tax fraud invites skeptical scrutiny of the condemner’s own taxes. Etc.

    And, sure, high-profile queer folk getting caught in sexual scandals makes me uncomfortable too, as do analogous stereotype-reinforcing events for any of my tribes (Jews getting caught in shady financial dealings, tech nerds going nuts and killing people, etc.).

  • I’d go further and say it’s not those who make it a career per se, it’s the ones who seem obsessed over certain aspects of it, suggesting that they constantly think about it and it drives many of their decisions.

  • To be fair, some of us have things in our saliva that we don’t necessarily want back in our bodies — that would defeat the purpose of having ejected it.

  • Carstonio

    “It sounds like they’re saying straight people aren’t capable of that level of hatred.” And I would strongly disagree with that characterization of straights. My point is that a high level of hatred might require a deeply personal issue, sort of like the last juror in “12 Angry Men.”

    And yes, people like Ted Haggard are ultimately sad cases because of their self-loathing. I might be more sympathetic if they hadn’t made it their life’s work to drag others into their personal hells. They’ve actually encouraged other LGBT folks to loathe themselves. I would like to see Haggard and others make amends by speaking for marriage equality.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    …And amazingly, those people generally DON’T become Satan-abusing, baby-snorting drug-worshippers. I guess they’re just made of superior stuff to us mere proles….

  • Guest

    Taking a step back from the argument at hand:

    May I suggest that when someone says “Hi! As a member of the minority group you ostensibly seek to support and help with this discussion, I need to tell you that when you make X rhetoric gambit, I find that hurtful to me as a member of this group”…

    Other participants please consider

    1. NOT doubling down on X rhetorical gambit or defending the gambit as not hurtful (thus denying the experience that someone just shared with you, from one human being to another, right here)…


    2. Replying with something along the lines of: “I didn’t realize X rhetorical gambit could be hurtful that way. I’m sorry that my use of X rhetorical gambit hurt you. I’ll remember that X rhetorical gambit might hurt people and consider that from now on to guide my decision whether or not to bring it up.”

    (Assuming, of course, that you regret causing harm to the very people you ostensibly mean to support and help in this discussion and would like to avoid hurting those people in the future– i.e., that you mean it.)

  • Carstonio

    I agree in principle, and you would have an excellent point if in fact I was making X rhetorical gambit. I was instead criticizing that gambit and making gambit Y instead. JP mistook my gambit for X, for understandable reasons. When I attempted to clarify the distinction, JP still argued as if I were making gambit X. That could be my fault for not making Y clear enough, and I apologize. I was confused because I don’t remember any other Slacktivites arguing for X either. I’m reminded of how some atheists wrongly assume that all religious people are fundamentalists.