In Response To Margaret Court

Rev. Neil Ericksson

 

Most open-minded, kind-hearted people whether gay or straight have been flabbergasted, even disgusted by Margaret Court’s recent comments about Marriage Equality and Homosexuality, Inter-Sex people etc. She has been quoting the first 2 chapters of Genesis (the first Book in the Bible) as her authority. Originally she began by speaking about Marriage Equality but as her views were more widely reported she expanded her comments to homosexuality and inter-sex condemnation as well.

Let’s look at her more closely. There is no denying what a magnificent Tennis Player she was; best in the world for many years. People thought that naming a major arena after her was a fitting tribute, honouring her many fine achievements.

She was “Ordained” as a Minister in 1991. In that same year she established “Margaret Court Ministries”. In 1995 she founded, “Victory Life Centre Inc.” where she is the Senior Minister. There is no public record of her training with any Church/Religious Organisation. She has no degree in Theology or Ministry. One can only speculate that she was “Ordained” by sending some money to an American on-line organisation who then sent her a Certificate of Ordination. She was presented with an Honorary Doctorate (Ph.D LLD) from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Oral Roberts was an American Televangelist who set up a private university from the donations of his supporters. In 2016 it was rated 601/800 colleges in the US. Hardly Ivy League. So the Senior Minister of this large Pentecostal Organisation has no theological training and no record of a recognised Ordination.

This lack of training most likely accounts for her misunderstanding and misinterpretation of Genesis.

The first 11 chapters of Genesis are what is called pre-history. Stories, myths and legends from before the beginning of the history of the Hebrew people which begins in Ch. 12 with the story of Abraham. Stories of Creation, destruction, and how the human race began over etc. Similar stories are found in many ancient Religious texts of the Ancient Near East. Near identical stories are found in Egyptian religious literature. God/s creates the word. Humans stuff it up so God/s start over. In the Bible there is a flood with Noah. Even Aboriginal Dream Time myths have a mighty flood story.

If you’re beginning human history of course you have to pro-create and populate. After the flood Noah is told to “fill the earth” with children. God didn’t mean for Noah and his wife to have dozens and dozens of children. The verses in Genesis 1 and 2 about “a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh” is just a way of saying that they need to have kids to get the show going. It could be just as easily seen as a commandment not to live with one’s in-laws! There is no suggestion in the text that this is the way it will be for all time. Indeed if you look later on, the same Old Testament heroes such as Kings David and Solomon had multiple wives as was the custom in their day. No Prophet, as the mouthpiece of God, condemned them for it. You have to read each verse/passage in its own context first and draw from that the principles that may be on-going. If Mrs Court had spent any time in a Bible College she would have learnt that.

She sees things like the Safe Schools Program as a plot by the Devil to win the minds of children. She believes that homosexuality, inter-sex and trans-gender are all lifestyle choices that should be resisted. By saying these things she shows a complete ignorance of the facts. Just “pray the gay away” or have the demons exorcised or choose to live a “normal” life are her solutions.

In 2013 she criticised fellow Aussie Tennis Player, Casey Dellacqua, for wanting a family when in a same-sex relationship. Dellacqua reported how upset and hurt she was at those comments.

Not only is she ignorant but she doesn’t realise how cruel her comments are. People struggling with their sexuality or with gender issues are made to feel “abnormal”. Their prayers go unanswered which increases their guilt and shame. If she doesn’t know or understand that then she needs to simply shut up.

It is not surprising the reaction to her comments has been quick and strong. Some have gone a bit over the top. Some have been thoughtful and sensible. Martina Navratilova wrote to the Tennis Centre about re-naming it (some have suggested it be called the “Evonne Goolagong Centre”). Some have suggested players should refuse to play there at the Australian Open next January. Others have said she should be banned from attending any ATP matches. I rather like the idea if waving thousands of Rainbow Flags at every game played in that arena.

She has accused those who disagree with her as bullying her. This accusation has been taken up by TV Presenters such as Andrew Bolt. It is not bullying when you simply oppose an idea or a comment, even if you oppose it vehemently. Rather, calling someone’s nature a lifestyle choice; saying their conduct is “of the Devil”; using her fame and position to push a view that is held by only a minority of Australians – that looks far more like bullying to me.

I urge Mrs Court to attend a reputable Theological College (NOT the one operated by her Church) to learn how to understand the Bible. I then urge her to undertake some serious study on human sexuality to understand the difference between chosen behaviours and innate nature. I urge her to apologise to those she has wounded psychologically and spiritually. If she chooses not to do these things then I strongly urge her to keep her thoughts and comments to herself and not to damage others by her ignorance and cruelty. At 74, almost 75, maybe it’s time for “Pastor” Court to retire (into obscurity)?


Rev. Neil Ericksson B.Soc.Wk., B.Th., M.Div

 

Neil Ericksson was Ordained in 1983, after working as a Social Worker, and is a Uniting Church Minister (Ret’d)
 

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