Christian teachings on homosexuality


Bacground on homosexuality

  • Medieval times - homosexuals were burnt at the stake
  • Early 20th century - homosexual acts were crimes and homosexuality was considered a mental illness for which appalling treatements were proposed
  • same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales in March 2014
  • Legislation preventing discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation has been tightened - e.g. Roman Catholic adoption agencies can no longer be funded by the state unless they accept applications from any couple, including gay couples
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The Bible and homosexuality

  • There is no possibility of life arising from the sexual union, so it is wrong on a natural law basis
  • Some scriptual sources have implied a divine command against homosexuality
  • 'Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman: that is detestable' and it is punishable by death (Leviticus)
  • In Genesis, God destroys Sodom - this story is interpreted as showing God's displeasure with Sodom as resulting from His displeasure with homosexuality
  • Genesis: 'a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh'
  • St Paul's letters have influenced Christian teachings on homosexuality
  • Roman's - St Paul describes people engaging in same-sex sexual acts as 'degrading their bodies' and having 'unnatural relations'
  • Gareth Moore argues that St Paul's criticism of homosexual life comes from his assertion that the homosexual lifestyle is a product of a godless life
  • the existence today of pious homosexual Christians does not fit his reasoning
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  • third book of the Old Testament
  • 'You shall not lie with a man as with a woman: that is an abomination'
  • declares that homosexuality is punishable by death - Could be argued that this view is simply a 'product of it's time' (therefore, views are progressing)
  • taken by many to be a clear biblical teaching against homosexuality
  • this is the official view of the Anglican Chirch, whose authority is Bible-based
  • However, there are other prohibitions in the Bible that we don't punish in modern society
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The destruction of Sodom (1 Genesis)

  • has become a metaphor for homosexual vice since it is interpreted as showing God's displeasure with Sodom as resulting from His displeasure with homosexuality
  • in this passage, the men of the city demand that Lot gives up the two travellers stayin in his house as they wish to **** them
  • as a result of God's disapproval, He destroys the city of Sodom
  • this biblical passage suggests that homosexuality is against God's intened purpose for his creation, and therefore Christians advocate that marriage should only take place for a heterosexual couple

What do scholars say the story is about?

  • the story is about sexual violence - the men of Sodom want to **** the guests
  • Gene Robinson - the story is not about homosexuality at all but about the code of hospitality
  • Robinson describes Sodom as a 'gated community' - they were rich and well fed and did not want to share these riches with others - the threat of **** in the story is part of the rejection of responsibilities for a guest
  • Jay Michaelson - violation of the laws of hospitality - reading the sroty as being about homosexuality is like reading the story of an ax murderer as being about an ax
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Catholic views on homosexuality

  • teachings are summarised in the Catechism
  • there is no sin involved in an inclination towards a member of the same sex, as such an inclination is not freely chosen and is a trial for the person
  • the homosexual person should be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity, and unjust dicrimination should be avoided
  • such people are called to chastity with the help of friendship, prayer and grace to achieve Chrisitian perfection
  • the acts are sinful because of the biblical condemnation of homosexual acts as depraved and intrinsically disordered
  • against natural law
  • recognises different sexual orientations but takes the Biblical line that honosexual acts are not 'natural' as God intended - heavily influenced by the theory of natural law
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Church of England

  • split views regarding homosexuality
  • same-sex marriages are forbidden in the Church
  • 1991 - marriage between a man and a woman is the 'proper context' for sexual relations - a 'homophile orientation' cannot be accepted by the Church - however, those who feel their sexuality is not negotiable are still welcomed by the Church
  • The House of Bishops report said there was "little support" for changing the Church's teaching on marriage, that it was between one man and women
  • however, this report also said that the Church needed to repent for homophobic attitudes
  • for Conservative Evangelicals within the Church of England, the bishops have upheld the authority of scripture against the impact of cultural change - marriage is between a man and a woman
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Greek Orthodox

  • believes homosexual behaviour is a sin
  • however, cares and prvides pastorally for homosexuals
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  • If an act expresses true affection between two individuals then it is not sinful, regardless of sexuality
  • want to treat all people equally - quality and depth of feeling is the most important part of a loving relationship, not their gender or sexual orientation
  • July 2009 - agreed to carry out same-sex marriage on the same basis as marriages for opposite couples
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United Reformed Church

  • voted to allow same sex marriage - July 2016
  • voted to allow individual congregations to regiser Churches as venues for same-sex marriages
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Liberal Christians

  • support homosexuality and challenge the traditional condemnation of homosexuality
  • the quality of the relationship is what determines its moral value, not gender
  • point out that the Bible teaches that all are made 'in the image and likeness of God'
  • if God creates men and women as homosexuals, then that nature and inclination must be good
  • John Boswell - critical of the use of scripture by opponent of homosexuality - other rules from similar texts are not so emphatically enforced (the Bible condemns hypocrisy and greed, but no one died in medieval times for these offences, while homosexuals perished)
  • Moore - while Christians accept Law in Leviticus, they reject the passage later on that advocates beheading as a punishment
  • Moore - we are ignoring the laws that we find inconvinent while pursuing those that attack minorities that we do not like - scripture is being used inconsisently to reinforce prejudices
  • Christianity has been able to reject its approcal of slavery and its endorsement of female subservience, so perhaps the view on homosexuality can change too
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