Homosexuality and the church

I have always enjoyed the company of homosexuals. There was a guy at school who was the most rounded, compassionate, intuitive and spiritual person there. He had attended the church but I suppose it became untenable for him. I am completely heterosexual and enjoy being with gay people who are generally more funny, entertaining and caring than most blokes. Trouble for me is that sometimes I might give the poor boys the wrong idea.

I once knew a Christian leader, who was also a doctor. He took a common-sense, compassionate view of the plight of the gay Christian. He did not demonise them because of their personal ethics as this was a matter for them to deal with. Unfortunately, there are those that feel threatened, maybe because of their own sexuality, or because the very existence of homosexuality undermines their belief structure. Once Christian groups start to get aggressive in defence of their position, instead of showing the love of Jesus as they are supposed to, then their interpretation of the bible is becoming questionable.

Evangelicalism is an interpretation and it has been successful for nearly 300 years. It does not have to be the only interpretation, and there is no reason why churches or individual cannot reinterpret the bible as conditions change in society. The Bible is set in the patriarchal society and evangelicalism was based on that. But the patriarchal society is not universal anymore and there are alternative lifestyles. The Bible did not invent marriage and the family, that was done by those who started agriculture in the Fertile Crescent in prehistory. The Bible suggested that people should follow the social norms but apply Christian principles of balance, love and truth.

There are verses in Leviticus that refer to gays, but this is when people were supposed to stay faithful in their marriages, gay or straight. If you were gay you got married and were required to produce children. This was survival not about rights or lifestyle or love. In Corinthians it refers to male prostitutes and homosexual offenders. The Greek practice at the time was to visit the temple of Artemis and use a male or female prostitute as an act of worship. Also elite men would take 12 year old boys and mentor them, including sexually, until they grew a beard. Either of these things is not acceptable today. Gay marriage would not make sense, in the patriarchal society, as you could not make babies.

Things are different today and as homosexuality was legalised in 1967 in Great Britain, there should be no general condemnation for these people, who can suffer so much abuse. There are also those that are abused, which can lead to homophobia. The Church whatever its beliefs, has no right to demonise these people, but it has the right to say the act is a sin, as this is a perfectly valid interpretation of the Bible. All of us are sinners and there should not be a focus on gays. But I am convinced that gay sex is not a sin. The way you treat people is what matters and all can potentially find forgiveness in Christ if they choose.

Still you do not see gays kissing or holding hands openly. Although the talk in the middle classes maybe of toleration, is there real acceptance? Perhaps if those macho men who “hate queers” had more sex, then they would feel more secure in their own sexuality. What if gay men could help match-make, then we win all around.

It seems that homosexuals must do a lot of soul searching to come to terms with their sexuality and become confident and assertive. This could mean that Gays could help others with their personal development.

The HIV plague was devastating to a newly liberated sub-culture. Little help was given in the 1980’s which were mostly about self-interest. Even condemnation from those who claimed it was God’s judgement. It makes me shake my head; the God I know does not act like that. He is much more patient and caring than that to a recently freed movement. That plague came from the opposite of God in my view.

None of us are perfect and we all have a separate path to tread. Some may walk with a group of fellow believers and some have to walk alone. But I believe that the Law of the land should attempt to be in place for all strands of belief. The moral questions should be for the community, the church, the family and the individual.

Some people are born gay and some are confused. If we can accept people and allow them to work out their issues within the law, with sex and sexuality as a healthcare issue, it would be better for all. An open honest discussion of these issues within a private place would be better.

There was a drama on TV, where a President of the USA was asked his opinion of abortion. His personal morality forbade it, but he said the individual should make the decision. Privately he said that he would try to dissuade the mother from the act.

There is a difference between the public and the private. An individual spirituality, political persuasion and sexuality can be narrow, but a good person could attempt to accept as many of these paths as possible, within society. These matters should be resolved by the individual through education at home, at school and maybe in church.

Evangelical doctrine cannot and should not change. But there should be a place where people can explore their spirituality, where they are accepted as they are, as Jesus accepts us all.

Conway-Laird (2016)

 

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