Queer no more

Published: May 22, 2011 at 12:06pm

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: let's hope for Pastor Manche's sake that they're not gay

This is my column in The Malta Independent on Sunday today.

**Note to Super One and Maltastar: the title is ironic, but you should be told that ‘straight’ is predicated on its opposites: ‘bent’ and ‘queer’.**

The Evangelical pastor Gordon Manche is upset because homosexuals picketed his River of Love chapel, carrying placards with messages like, ‘I used to have ginger hair, but now I’m saved’ and ‘I used to be left-handed but now I am healed’.

This happened after he publicised a ‘show and tell’ – I believe they’re called testimonials – by three unnamed men who described how they were homosexual until God converted them. Because they probably also believe that God made them (mandatory childhood catechism refrain: “Who made me?” “God made me.”), they must be wondering why it took God so damned long to realise there was a glitch on the production floor and then go back to undo his mistake.

“There you go, old chap. You can run after girls now. But don’t use a condom because I don’t like them.”

What’s more, God hasn’t sorted out that glitch yet, either. The factory seconds are coming out at the rate of one in 10, and they’re taking over whole cities like San Francisco.

Why, there are now more homosexuals per square mile than are there people with ginger hair, even in Glasgow, and God isn’t doing anything about it except for the occasional spot of conversion in a chapel above a furniture showroom in Haz-Zebbug.

If Pastor Manche and his sheep are going to be consistent with the rest of what they preach, then it’s not so much a case of ‘I was gay but God converted me’ as ‘God made me homosexual but then changed his mind.’ But let’s not go down that road.

We’re dealing here with people who deny the existence of dinosaurs despite the evidence from fossils and the Malta Labour Party. If they think Tyrannosaurus rex is a hoax, they’ll have no problem believing that a couple of magic spells performed in a prayer circle, while men twang guitars and women in bad clothes sway about with their eyes closed, can make Elton John fancy women.

People like Pastor Manche probably think they have evidence that it’s possible for homosexuals to live heterosexual lives, because Malta, with its particular cultural and geographic difficulties, has a disproportionate number of homosexuals who are married to heterosexuals, and they’re not exactly mariages blancs, because they have issue.

The ‘dinosaurs didn’t exist’ brigade think of this state of affairs as conversion, when really it’s just a matter of pretending and must be a strange sort of hell for everyone involved.

Homosexuality is more visible now not because God is making more mistakes, which he might or might not correct later at the River of Love Chapel, but because homosexuals are not getting married to members of the opposite sex and pretending to be heterosexuals anymore.

They might keep quiet about their sexuality, and decide that it’s nobody’s business but theirs, but they draw the line at getting married – and not before time, too. Enough lives have been wrecked through enforced covert behaviour.

Pastor Manche spoke on radio yesterday. He said that he feels “unfairly treated” and that the reaction to his stand-up show was “massively out of proportion”.

“Those three men did not attack anyone. They had a right to say that Jesus converted them, and they did not say that others need to change,” he told his interviewer.

Well, that’s a bit disingenuous, isn’t it?

When you say that God converted you, it means that you were saved from your deleterious previous state, and again, this implies that all others who are as you were need to be saved, too. That’s why people were upset.

Pastor Manche said that he knows of four homosexual men who told him that God converted them, and they are now married (to women). I couldn’t help thinking of those side-splitting scenes in Bruno, in which Sacha Baron Cohen’s character decides he can achieve success in the film industry only if he turns straight, “like Tom Cruise and John Travolta”. He heads off to meet a gay conversion specialist pastor with hot lips, who studiously keeps his eyes averted from Bruno’s black leather hot-pants and thigh-high boots, and then tries some straight-man activities, like suburban swingers’ parties, boar-hunting and the army, all of which collapse in chaos.

It figures that Pastor Manche brought his gay conversion Evangelist ideas from the United States where, he tells us, he was a professional ballet dancer until he “saw God” (“He spoke to me, but I did not see his face”). Is professional ballet dancer here a cipher for homosexual?

Or are we to understand that professional ballet dancers need to be saved, just like homosexuals?

Either way, Gordon Manche was “consumed by God” and “determined to preach” – and so he headed for Malta, an island with a heathen population and no churches, because the climate here is so much better than, say, Papua New Guinea. Besides which, if you try to convert a homosexual in Papua, they boil you and eat you.

Yesterday was much touted as the end of the world, the day of the Apocalypse, by people of Pastor Manche’s persuasion. But I couldn’t feel it from where I was sitting, and so I was able to type out this piece while keeping an eye open for great balls of fire.

The pastor is keeping an open mind, though. The end of the world might not have happened yesterday, but he is convinced that we are “approaching the end of times”, and like all other end-of-timers since cheap bibles became available in the vernacular, he points to earthquakes, revolutions, immorality, war and vice as the biblical heralds, the Four Horsemen, of the end of time.

Let’s hope for his sake that those Four Horsemen don’t turn out to be gay.

15 Comments Comment

  1. Erasmus says:

    In fairness, what Manché cliams not that homosexuals become heteros, but that they can obtian the spiritual strength to give up the gay lifestyle and live chastely – which essentially means lead a celibate life.

    • il-Ginger says:

      Because abstinence programmes worked really well with straight teenagers….

      • Erasmus says:

        Manché would probably counter that an abstinence programme is a purely man-made artefact, whereas the approach he advocates involves turning one’s life over to God Himself.

  2. Andrew says:

    High time Malta had its own Ted Haggard.

  3. Gay Twitter Wisdom says:

    by Jay Brannan

    I find it frustrating and rude that Christians keep telling us one day they’ll all instantly disappear, but they never follow through.

  4. red nose says:

    We should always talk reverently about God. Why all this fun-poking?

    • H.P. Baxxter says:

      Mentioning poking in this context, Red Nose, was a very bad idea.

    • Stefan Vella says:

      I have no inclination to talk reverently about fairies, pixies, ogres, goblins and other assorted “man-made” creatures.

      Why should I make an exception for God?

  5. me says:

    If he thinks he is so good an instrument for healing, then why doesn’t he camp out at Mater Dei and work his way up from the basement to the upper floors.

  6. Paul Caruana says:

    I remember another catechism refrain from childhood: “Why can’t priests get married?” “Because they’re married to the church.”

    Well, then.

    For the sake of fairness and consistency the state should recognise holy orders as a form of marriage. That way clergymen who shed their dog collar – and there’s always one within spitting distance in Malta – wouldn’t be able to get married (again).

  7. dery says:

    I don’t know why you keep calling him pastor. There is a Simpsons episode where Homer becomes a pastor by signing up online against a small fee. Unlike Catholic priests who must go through university and study some philsosphy at least, God knows (or perhaps not) what these pastors learn.

    You forgot to mention his peroxide blonde psychologist wife who, if I am not mistaken, has also ordained a pastor. I wonder how ‘converting’ homosexuals sits with the professional body that regulates(?) psychologists.

  8. Edward Caruana Galizia says:

    Well said, Daphne.

    Last week I wrote a letter to The Times explaining that no one can convert anyone to any sexuality. What made me laugh was that even though I explained that all of these ex-gay ministries that exist have a success rate of 3%, and that 3% work within the ministry themselves, someone wrote a comment below the article you mentioned, claiming that Exodus International is proof that tons of gay men and women are converting, so it is possible.

    May I draw everyone’s attention to the following video:


    Now can anyone answer this question?

    How legal are Mr Manche’s actions? Is he or his wife charging for their alleged conversion services? Or is it all right because it’s being done in the name of Jesus? And why haven’t all social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists complained and taken action?

    • dery says:

      During Gordon Manche’s tele chats there is a running banner that urges people to donate money. We are not told what we are meant to be donating for. I assume that we are meant to donate for him to continue ministering. As his ministering involves unbending the bent, then yes, people are paying for his gay conversions.

  9. dery says:

    In my last comment I should have written “…..blonde psychologist wife who, if I am not mistaken, WAS also ordained a pastor. ” His wife is a pastor too!

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