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Saturday, 15 August 2015

Bias in the Sauna.

As a completely naked slim young man of just 23 years old, I pulled open a door of one of two sauna cabins and nervously saw a space on one of the upper tiers. I entered and instinctively closed the door behind me, and climbed to sit at the vacant space, to sample the heat rising from a small stove at the opposite corner. Someone threw a ladle of water onto the hot coals. The harsh hissing and a sudden rise in temperature, as well as a fresh waft of eucalyptus filling the air had made me an instant convert to this form of leisurely relaxation, as the sweat started to pour down my torso. So was such a first ever visit to a sauna during the Summer of 1976, after receiving a recommendation from a work colleague.

The environment was far from sedate however. About half a dozen men, all entirely naked, were engaged in a loud conversation, with plenty of swear words, coarse jokes, smut, and of general criticism of any eccentric males, lousy workers, erratic car drivers, the general habits of all women, and just about anything of interest which could transpire into a full-blown discussion. It had a very working class, club-type atmosphere where everyone knew each other well, which I felt as an outsider, could be intimidating. So I sat there, somewhat on the shy side, quietly listening in, and smiling at their smut. Not to do so, or to display any moralistic or judgmental attitudes would have courted disaster, even if I was a believer in Jesus Christ back then, as I had been for the past three and a half years. These guys were all manual workers, married and with families, and considerably older than myself. The most dominant was Harry, a builder, overweight and sporting a beard. He was the chief speaker, the life of the party, a powerful extrovert before whom I cowed, therefore treading carefully in his presence. Those were "the good old days" of sauna attendance, when men and women bathed on different evenings of the week, and being a single sex facility, we were allowed to bathe starkers, and to free ourselves from any self-reserve we would have had on the streets outside. 

And yet was hard to believe that in the very next sauna cabin, which was smaller and slightly cooler, the more intellectual of the male population bathed, along with the gays. The entire suite was the only one in town, while the more popular mixed facilities at Coral Reef Water World existed only on the Council's drawing board. Yet I had never seen any skirmishes erupting between the two parties. On the contrary, my physique had attracted the attention of homosexual men, who were drawn to the suite through an advert posted in a gay magazine or newspaper by a staff member. Apparently, I was the only one of Harry's group to be amenable enough to court friendship.

It was many years later, while I was bathing alone at Coral Reef Sauna World, when Harry entered the cabin and sat on a lower bench. Not that Harry was ever a regular there. Rather this was due to the closure of the old sauna facility a mile down the road, as a result of a massive renovation of the original suite, transforming the area into a pristine, American-style spa centre. The old atmosphere would never be the same again, as many of Harry's former mates had passed away, and others having moved to different locations, the swanking new sauna cabin no longer has the more intimate club-like feel within it - as it began to draw in members of the wider public with the introduction of mixed bathing and the need for compulsory swimwear.  

So Harry and I sat alone together at the sauna one late Saturday afternoon, when I asked him:
What do you think of Jesus Christ?

He flew into a rage as he delivered his answer, explaining that he was brought up as a Roman Catholic, and as he spoke, I felt no need to be told, as I could clearly feel his deep antagonism he had felt against his church. I fully understood, and I knew where he was coming from. As a former Catholic myself, I have always been fully aware of the highly fickle God who needs the Virgin Mary to constantly intercede for us, or there is no chance of Heaven after death, but only the terrors of intense suffering in a fiery hell. I too, have always been familiar with the need to confess our sins to a priest, to do penance as a result, to consciously refrain from sinning, and the utter necessity to attend Mass every Sunday and Holy day. Failure to attend without a proper reason, along with any mortal sin committed, and the grace of God is forfeited and it's hell for ever. But just as frustrating, even if the Catholic lives a holy life, he would still suffer a temporary hell known as Purgatory. It has always been slavery to the Church, with the burden of hell hanging over anyone who would walk away from the faith.

Let's face it. It is utterly impossible to love such a fickle deity! Fear him, yes. But to love him as a wife loves her husband - well that is something altogether different. - Although many a Catholic may deny this. The husband/wife relationship makes a good illustration. How would a wife feel about her husband who is constantly reprimanding her, and withholding his love for her until she performs to his exact standard? He may be absolutely perfect, but the problem lies with her - she isn't perfect, therefore she's constantly under his wrath. How long would their marriage last? As soon as another man arrives who shows unconditional affection, she'll be gone from her husband's presence like a shot, only to be found in the arms of his rival. Her willingness for adultery would not be so much out of love for his rival as her own underlying hatred for her husband, and her desire to get even with him.

Associating with gay men at the old sauna suite back in the seventies has allowed me to be gay-friendly rather than having a judgmental or a high moralistic attitude towards them. Therefore once the Internet became very much part of our lives, I found a gay sports and fitness website, and registered as a member. In their forum posts there is a column set aside for spiritual matters, and it's here where I have found their postings most intriguing, and rather depressing.

The hatred towards God by the LGBT is quite outstanding. Their defense of Darwinism is very strong, whether they can present adequate evidence to support such a theory or not. When I admitted my beliefs in Creationism, I was ridiculed for being something of a lunatic, was called a "fundie" - and I was generally ostracised by other members. This is weird in a way. If, for example, I were to say something about their Democratic president suggesting the idea of reeling in welfare to help save the nation's economy, I might have received some postings rebuking me for such a daft idea. Then again, I might have even received some replies of agreement as well. But either way, it would have remained unlikely for me to have been ignored afterwards. Or perhaps question the rights the Palestinians have over Eastern Jerusalem - such could begin a long thread, with one side supporting the rights of the Palestinians, while the other favouring the Jews. Such an ongoing thread over this controversy had occurred on this site in the past, and has stretched over several pages.

But suppose I was to contribute my support for the Republican Party. Already, so to speak, I would receive dark looks, and probably have a thread of nasty postings trailing my opening post, along with being looked on with suspicion. I am already aware of at least one gay Republican who has been ostracised on the website. Why would this be the case? Could it be that there is a closeness of support between the Republicans and the churches, particularly the fundamentalist kind?

As what I have seen over the years, it seems to be the churches which has driven a wedge between God and the homosexual, making them bitter, even angry, with the faith. One pastor had reached a high level of national infamy within America's gay community, and that was the late Fred Phelps, of Westboro Baptist Church, in the Kansas town of Topeka. He paraded his street placards emblazoned with God Hates Fags, God will destroy America, and Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, along with other insulting messages of hate and bias against homosexuals. All that has made him an object of hypocritical disgust, and I believe, had played a major role in making God and the Christian faith such a object of revulsion, that very seldom would a gay find salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

Leviticus 18:22 reads:
Do not lie with a man as a man lies with a woman; that is detestable.
And Leviticus 20:13 is even more specific:
If a man lies with a man as a man lies with a woman, both of them has done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be upon their own heads.

Ammunition for Fred Phelps and his ilk! Strange, however, that he was a lot more quieter when it came to mediums and spiritists, (20:6) the cursing of parents, (v.9) adultery, (v.10) incest, (vs.14,17) bestiality, (vs.15,16). Then not to mention the sowing of two different crops, or the wearing of clothing made of two different materials, (19:19) eating of meat with the blood still in it, (19:26) visiting the barbers, (19:27) or calling at a tattooist, (19:28). Then there is the case of observing the Sabbath, (19:30) and not to discriminate against foreigners living in your country, even immigrants, (19:33-34) and cowboy contractors, especially in the building trade, are condemned by God as well, (19:35-36).

Too often we tolerate to a certain level just about all the others which God considers sin, along with those which are passed over as small or insignificant, such as secretly lusting over a woman not your wife, holding a grudge against someone without forgiving them, and so on. As such, we look upon homosexuals as perverts, objects of contempt, and they become victims of gay-bashers, even murdered, under the guise of "Christian culture" or "Church bias." If pastors such as Fred Phelps had a seat in Government, he would have made every effort for the death penalty for every homosexual in America. Little wonder that the average gay hates the churches and ridicules the Christian faith, especially in its belief in Divine Creation.

And so we go back to Harry, and his underlying bitterness he has over the Catholic faith. Really, there is hardly any difference between the likes of this heterosexual extrovert of a builder, and that of a closet gay who is too timid to "come out" in case he becomes a victim of his church-going society. Neither would ever see the light of Christ if they believe that pleasing God is by abiding with the law, whether by Moses or by the local church.

I have been going through the Old Testament book of Nehemiah. What I have found intriguing was the whole of chapter eight. In it, Ezra, Nehemiah, along the rest of the leaders, read out the Book of the Law of Moses to a vast crowd of Jews who had assembled in Jerusalem. These Jews had returned to their own land from exile in Babylon, and had rebuilt their Temple and the city wall. As they stood and understood the Law of Moses, they began to weep (Nehemiah 8:9,11). The weeping, I believe, came from their realisation that they were unable to keep the Law, and they were afraid of further wrath of God coming upon a future generation. So Ezra exhorted the whole nation to feast, eat well and rejoice in their deliverance.

And that is what I feel every unbeliever needs to hear. Yes, the reality of sin and alienation from God, but also the one and only solution - the love of God through Jesus Christ crucified. I would even go as far to say that the average homosexual does not need to be told that he is guilty. He instinctively knows. Paul the apostle writes:
Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified...
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
1 Corinthians 1:22-23, 2:2.

Paul says here that the message of Jesus Christ crucified is universal, it's for everybody, straight and gay alike. None of us need moral high horses shouting judgement down on us. That does not bring us to God. Instead, we all need to believe on the One crucified, was buried, and resurrected on the third day. The Resurrection is the most important of the three. It has proved that this Jesus, who was crucified, is God, Lord, and King, and all who believe this in their hearts receives a new birth, becomes a new creation, and adopted forever into the family of God, bathing in his love for all eternity.

And that's much better than bathing in a sauna with an angry heart.


  1. We can not judge those outside the church, God is their judge
    (1 Corinthians ch. 5 v. 13),
    and the word itself is the judge of those within. (John ch. 12 vs. 47 and 48.)

  2. Dear Frank,
    We are all sinners, and God does not differentiate between sins. Lusting after someone in your heart is no better or worse than homosexuality, murder, telling a "little white lie." God cannot tolerate sin or let any sinner into His presence unless we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Praise God that He sent His Son to be the Way to Heaven for all who trust in Him.
    Thanks as always for the thought-provoking post, and God bless,