Church and the gay question

May the Church gives its blessing to homosexual partnerships and remain true to the will of God? Still be faithful in its witness to the love of God as shown in Jesus and revealed in the Bible?

As a minimum it seems to me this is an open question. That is, even if you are reluctant to give a definitive “yes” in answer, then neither can you give  a definitive “no”.  The reasons for this I explain below.

If it is an open question, then isn’t the only proper response of all Christians who take seriously the ethic of love for neighbour, especially bishops and church leaders, compassion and respect between those with differing answers? For me this means learning from and listening  to others; accepting, not condemning, those who in good faith and conscience want to go ahead and affirm homosexual relationships; as well as those who, also in good faith, genuinely believe this can never be an option for a faithful Church.

This much might be agreed by all Christians who have not allowed their party-line allegiances to cloud their spiritual discernment. But can it be shown that this is an open question?

I have several reasons why I think it is.

Firstly, “facts on the ground”. Clearly there are many Christians, homosexual and not, who already believe that homosexual partnerships may be good and right in the sight of God. But these may be false teachers. The New Testament itself warns against those who will lead the Church astray with spurious beliefs. But the errors the New Testament speaks of are central points of faith such as the adequacy of God’s grace in Christ. We are also taught that by their fruits you shall know them. Where there are Christian men and women who are faithful members of the Church and who clearly reveal in their lives the fruits of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and differ from Christian  brothers and sisters  in no other way than that  they answer “yes” to our question then how can they be regarded as false teachers?

Secondly, our greater knowledge of the human condition. The findings of various branches of science and the personal experiences of many people suggests very strongly that homosexuality is a given feature of human life.

Thirdly, the development of understanding of the biblical texts. Whilst it may be clear that there is very little in the biblical tradition to support a positive assessment of homosexual partnerships, and much to endorse the traditional Christian antipathy, it is not clear that the biblical material should be determinative of a developed Christian ethic for the 21st century.

Fourthly, the development of positive aspects of sexual ethics in public life. Many religiously motivated critics of homosexual partnership consider it to be part of a wider decline in sexual mores in Western society. But this ignores the evidence for many positive  changes in relation to more traditional cultures. Modern intolerance of rape, of domestic violence, of child abuse and of forced marriages shows that the so-called decadence of  Western societies actually displays many strongly moral developments in recent decades.

Therefore in my view there is no case for condemnation on religious grounds of those who believe sincerely that homosexual partnerships may be a faithful Christian expression of human love and companionship.

 

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2 thoughts on “Church and the gay question

  1. David McKnight

    In my view homosexuality
    •has existed in nature for millennia without the benefits or otherwise of science
    •Its ‘religious treatment’, as for all human practices, has little to do with any words written millennia ago or indeed any words.
    •Cannot have really done society that much harm if it has existed ‘undetected’ for many years under repression.

    Full understanding is not yet possible within any religion or indeed belief system. It can happen, but this conclusion cannot have been helped by the repressive attitudes shown by religions.

    Understanding depends upon the living human processes of compassion, deep communication and acceptance of all conceivable aspects of the interactions. This is what I understand by truly ‘religious treatment’.

    Your analysis seems to attempt this sort of account, perhaps not exactly in the way that I would express it, but no matter.

    Again words have very little meaning on either side. What action one would take is much more important. What action would your parishioners take if a homosexual in need turned up in their family?

    One has to PROVE that acceptance of homosexuality makes things today much worse for us all before concluding that the repression must go on.

    Please publish the website

    Reply
  2. dphodgson Post author

    I agree that actions are important. I have known several active church members over the years who have discovered a member of their family to be in a homosexual relationship; and I can’t think of one who has rejected that family member. What has been sad to me however is that those families have often been ashamed and kept it secret from all but their closest friends. This is a phenomenon not restricted to church members though.

    Reply

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