That’s Disgusting!

Last week I received a Haggis as a gift. A Haggis is a sheeps heart, liver and lungs encased in a sheeps stomach.

I confess, for the last few days I have been pondering the delicacy and how I am going to devour it. My latest plan is to encourage a bit of “dutch courage”, If I consume a couple of beers  while I prepare the dish,  hopefully by the time it is re-heated I will be ready to eat.  Even though I enjoy tasting different foods I can’t help responding with a feeling of disgust.

I read in another blog the other day about a Pastor who spoke about two men kissing to get a response from his congregation. The unanomous response was  “eeuuww”. The Pastor then said “…see how our reactions match the testimony of the scriptures”  They couldn’t help responding with a feeling of disgust. The point of this blog post is to ask the question – was this congregation responding to the testimony of scripture or was there something else in play?

Lets not beat around the bush – they were not responding to the bible – the sound “eeeuww” was a one hundred percent accurate clue that they were responding to the psychological stimuli called “socio-moral disgust”. Interestingly the emotion disgust is universal – in every race and culture the same muscles in the face are used and similar sounds come from our mouths. “Eeeuw”

Core disgust is associated with food, and is generally not a problem. Here is the interesting thing – disgust is promiscuous….yes you heard me right, she is a tart and attaches herself indiscriminately to things other than food….and this is a problem. The emotion disgust attaches itself to our conception of people and morality – it is called “soci0- moral disgust”

When Peter looked on at the vision of unclean foods being lowered down to him I can imagine the feeling of disgust he felt, it was going to take a bit more than dutch courage to get over this one.

  About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.  He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds.  Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. “

So we see that the vision of “unclean” foods was more importantly about “socio-moral” disgust. Peter the Jew was now being led to the house of  a Gentile!


The aforementioned congregation was responding to “socio-moral disgust”. Feelings of disgust need to be recognized as such – I know that Scottish people eat Haggis, I know in my mind that it is edible food, yet disgust is beyond reason (take note – logic and reason are not employed when socio-moral disgust is unchecked) I intend to have a couple of beers and fight against my feelings and taste my Haggis. Similarly Peter had to go against every fibre of his being as a Jew when God led him to the household of Cornelius. If my memory serves me correctly it was Peter that was rebuked by Paul for distancing himself from the “uncircumcised” – it was in no way easy for Peter, and I don’t pretend it will be easy for us as Church.

As Paul rebuked Peter I rebuke the congregation I mentioned above……………… and I rebuke our church leaders who continue to promote disgust for LGBTIQ people.

The Psychology of disgust is talked about in “Unclean” author Richard Beck. I recommend this book for any Pastors that happen to read this blog – disgust is an emotion that hampers us as a Missional church.

2 Responses to “That’s Disgusting!”
  1. cindy0803 says:

    I struggle with this. I am “uncomfortable” when I see two males kissing. It is not disgust, at least not how I describe disgust or imagine it toward things like children or animal abuse (that disgusts me). No, this is more like I’ve walked in on my parents and have seen something I wasn’t supposed to see.

    I feel guilty about it on one hand, but I can’t change my gut reaction. I don’t go crazy and put my hands over my eyes, though I will admit to getting very interested in the fuzz on my shirt. Sometimes I wonder if it is not partially a result of seeing most of these encounters on television or in the movies being acted by men who are not necessarily gay. For example, one of my favorite funny movies is The Bird Cage (yeah, the American version), but there is a truly awkward scene where Armand (played by Robin Williams) kisses his son, Val (played by Dan Futterman). You are not supposed to know that this is his son at this point, so they are just two gay men (as far as the audience knows) who are sharing an intimate moment. They looked uncomfortable and I felt uncomfortable.

    But, then again, overt displays of affection make me uncomfortable, even among heterosexuals. That may be because I’m older with a family. Still, I remember even when I was younger that we would admonish PDA with the command, “get a room!”

    To answer your question, though, I suspect that scripture is used to justify the visceral reactions heterosexuals have to homosexual intimacy. I don’t condemn anyone for feelings, just how they act upon them. I don’t see the pastor’s sermon as appropriate. And it makes me sad.

    • Tapman says:

      It is a big step just to be aware that this uncomfortable feeling is not necessarilly coming from God. Disgust responses to food are a safety response and not necessarilly bad, but being unaware about our feelings can be devastating to the marginalized. Thanks for comment.

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