Investigations Paper

HideShow resource information

Roman Catholic View

The Roman Catholic denomination is one that holds perhaps the strongest views against homosexuals, certainly not accepting gay marriage in or outside the Church. This viewpoint comes largely from Old Testament teachings, especially the chapter of Genesis to highlight God's intentions for men and women. God decided that Adam was not right alone, so created Eve to be his partner. From this the Roman Catholic denomination infer that men and women were created to be with each other, so it would be against God's will to allow homosexual marriage - it is not how he intended us to live. This denomination also draws upon philosophical arguments to support their beliefs. Aristotle and Aquinas put forward the idea that every action has a goal or purpose, and so human sex must have a purpose; in fact, it has two. The first is to pro-create and give life (the natural law theory). The second is communion and spiritual friendship - sex between a man and a woman has a certain complimentarity which can only be found between two people of the same sex. An act of sex between two people of the same sex does not fulfil these two purposes, and so is 'frustrating' as it does not meet the goal for which it is intended. The action is therefore disordered, leading Roman Catholics to believe that homosexual acts are wrong. Because of this, the Church cannot see gay marriage as acceptable, as it would be providing a suitable environment for same-sex intercourse. A commonly used quote to support this train of thought is Leviticus 18:22; 'You shall not lie with man as with a woman, it is an abomination'. This explicitly shows God's displeasure with homosexual sex, and because of this the denomination is unable to support homosexual actions. Yet marriage is considered a right, and so with this right homosexuals are unequal to those who have the freedom to marry who they choose. For this reason, the Roman Catholic beliefs hinder the development of equality, and therefore it becomes a challenge to take their religious practices seriously.

1 of 6

Evangelical View

The evangelical denomination have a similar perspective on the issue of homosexuality with the Roman Catholics, both upholding conservative views against gay marriage. Despite this, there are some differences. Evangelists read the Bible literally, as a book that we should live our lives guided by. Because the reference towards homosexual sex/ relationships are profoundly negative, they also agree that there is no place for homosexual marriage in the Church. Again, Genesis is often referred to when showing that God had a funamental plan, and that the simple biology of sex shows that God only intended men and women to be together - from this Evangelical Christians disagree with homosexual sex and therefore marriage. Leviticus 20:13, a list of laws, prescribes the death penalty for gay men. Evangelists draw onn this as it explicitly shows God's feeling towards the action, and so remains to be relevant for people today, and should not get lost in the context in which it was written. Because this denomination takes the Bible so literally, it is always impossible for Evangelists to agree with homosexual marriage and other rights - rights which would make gay people equal to others. Consequently, the claim is correct as Christianity prevents equality, presenting a challenge in taking religious practice seriously.

However, as the evangelical denomination takes the Bible literally, it also takes the teaching that we are to love all people equally seriously too. Evangelists state that there is no place in the Church for homophobia, as this is an act of hatred and something God would not support. They argue that it is possible to disagree with people and still love them. This concept - the principle of love - is one that appears in the arguments made by the evangelical denomination, and clearly demonstrates that discrimination is against Christian beliefs. Yet despite this argument, loving all people and giving them/ having equal rights are seperate things, and one entails the other. Therefore the Church is allowing the inequality, so it remains to be challenging to take religious practice seriously. 

2 of 6

Church of England View and Bible interpretations 1

The Church of England holds rather seperate beliefs, coming from the idea that the Bible is an authorative, not a text. This allows each person to interpret the Bible as they wish, and in the context of the modern world. This belief is an important ne when the Church discusses the dilemma of homosexuality, as it causes division within the denomination. Certainly there is more scope for disagreement and discussion in the Anglican Church in comparison to, for example the Roman Catholic Church. A member of the Church of England, Tim Long, stated that the 'sexual revolution' in the 40s and 50s has had an impact on our understanding of sexuality, opening a gateway for a more accepting world. Due to this Anglicans can look at the Bible referring to the context in which it was written in. An example of this is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, where men were destroyed because they demanded homosexual sex. An Anglican may interpret this differently, claiming that instead God was condemning homosexual **** - a very immoral action in society both then and in the 21st Century. It is also mutually agreed that all humans are created by God and in his image; therefore we should be loving to one another. This teaching, also reflected in both the Evangelical and Roman Catholic denominations, could form an argument against the claim that the existence of inequality in the modern world is a challenge to take religious practice seriously. All denominations are similar in referring to the fact that the Bible holds no concept of sexual orientation  - the few passages that refer to homosexuals is only towards specific acts, rather than the orientation itself. These are two different things, so should be interpreted differently. 

3 of 6

Church of England View and Bible interpretations 2

Nevertheless, the Church of England is much more open to the range of ideas regarding homosexuality, and also note that in the New Testament it does not mention homosexuality at all, believing that Jesus did not see it as an important topic that the Church should get involved. In contrast, the Roman Catholic denomination would argue Jesus did not mention the issue because he had nothing more to add to God's teachings that homosexuality is wrong and should not be encouraged by the Church. Through this difference it is reflected that the Church of England denomination is willing to accept gay people and see them as equal, so the existence of inequality in the modern world does not completely challenge our taking of religious practice seriously. However, although 'boundaries are being pushed all the time', homosexual couples still cannot be married through or by the Church of England - suggesting that the denomination does not totally support equality as being equal involves having the same rights as others. The Bible again is used to reinforce this decision: 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh' (Genesis 2:24). This commonly used quotation reflects the Christian belief that you cannot have this ideological state of marriage through a homosexual relationship, which is why the Church will not legalise this right. Because of the Church of England's belief that everyone should be able to interpret the Bible as they wish it becomes difficult to create a set of rules to follow. It is simple to come to the conclusion that no denomination completely supports equality for all people, making it a challenge to take Christianity's religious practices seriously. 

4 of 6

Further interpretations of the Church

Yet many Christians would argue that it would be unjust to ask the Church to modernise and 'catch up' with the beliefs of today. The issue regarding homosexual rights has arisen within the 21st Century, where more liberal views are being taken up as each generation becomes more open to new ideas about all equality. This may not be equality for just homosexuals, but also racial and sexual equality too. Is it fair for society to ask the Church, a religion which has been around and kept the same viewpoints for thousands of years, to modernise? Would this action put the Church in a place of repression itself? Examples of the Christian Church become more modern are arising, appointing the first female bishop is a clear path towards equality. Women first received the right to vote in 1918, but female bishops are only now being appointed in 2014. This demonstrates that change is progressive, and can take decades to be implemented. It can be said that it is not right to demand sudden change which could put the Church in an unfair position. The existence of inequality in the modern world is one which cannot be blamed on only Christianity, as it is slowly reaching equaity, and so it does not always make it difficult to take their religious practices seriously. 

5 of 6

Adoption and IVF

Many would argue that when it comes to the problem of equality, especially in the modern world where freedom of speech is a widely valued concept, we have the right to demand rights. Equal rights is an umbrella term for many different rights people possess - as well as marriage, the problem of gay couples adopting creates issues also. Adoption for homosexuals is not legal in the majority of countries, and the Church does play a part in this decision. The Roman Catholic Church disagrees as it is not the 'environment' for which God intended children to be raised, as they were not born into the family/ there was not potention within the family for children to be created in the first instance. This often raises questions about infertile couples, and how they are treated equally and are able to adopt. The denomination would argue that there was/ still is a possibility for children to be created, and the adopted child would be brought into the correct environment of being raised by both a male and female. It is this type of reasoning which creates stigma, not only against adopted children but also against homosexual couples creating IVF children. Only recently the famous brand Dolce and Gabbana called IVF babies 'synthetic children' symbolising the distaste surrounding the issue which may have been stemmed from Christian teachings. Adoption is a right, and without this right gay people would remain to be unequal if same-sex marriages were legalised, demonstrating how far away the modern world truly is from equality. It can be said then, that this inequality is a challenge in taking religious practice seriously. 

6 of 6

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Religious Studies resources:

See all Religious Studies resources »See all Ethics resources »