Posts Tagged ‘gay debate’

The Church and Homosexuality

January 10, 2010

I watched a programme this morning which discusses the big issues of our present day in relation to the Christian Church. There is one lady whose views we often hear, as though, because of her presence on the Church Synod, she stands for the voice of the Church laity. I have always found her views flawed. She happily quotes from the Bible as the Word of God, but like many others with blinkered vision, she quotes only what suits her own position. But this is nothing new.

Throughout the centuries, ironically, the Church has done many cruel things in the name of God — supposedly according to His Word. Yes, I know many Christians over the years have given all — including their lives — to serve their Lord in extreme circumstances, but sometimes it has been an opposing section of the Church that has brought about their suffering. (Some other religions are just as guilty).
Interpretation, not the Bible itself is the problem.

Back to our Laity lady. She happily ignores what the Bible says about women and authority, and puts herself in a place of authority to speak as regards homosexuality. She is far from alone with this homophobia. (I understand she is against women priests too.)

We cannot use the Bible as a rule book to pick and choose what suits our prejudices. Over the years, a considerable amount of serious Biblical study has taken place, in the wider context of religious belief, and using all the tools of modern criticism, to get closer to the words of the original texts and thoughts of the various writers. Certainly the Bible inspires, comforts and aids our understanding of man and man’s view of the world and of the Divine. But using the Bible as Divine truth without our God-given intelligence, has been the cause of suffering, terrorism, and wars throughout the ages. Using it to suit our prejudices is little better.

Some people may squirm at sexual practices that offend their sensibilities, but we must accept these also take place in male-female (loving or otherwise) relationships. They are not confined to males only. Also, every day we see on our TV screens the promiscuous sexual behaviour of youngsters, as well as adults, and they are seemingly encouraged to be so by society in general. These days, it is nonsense to speak of sex as part of marriage only, or of relationships that lead to marriage. That was the accepted morality of when we were young. Marriage often ends in divorce too. What place vows? Even clergy have no better statistics. We are but human.

It is a fact that people are born with sexual leanings. Some boys and girls may have been influenced towards homosexuality, BUT it is totally wrong to stigmatise those who are born what they are – men and women who fall in love with members of their own sex. It seems to me that homosexuals tend to be gentle sensitive people and quite suited to clerical life within the Church. They have the right to perform their ministry with the support of a loving partner.

The love of God and neighbour sums up the Law of God. The fruit of the Spirit reveals who and what we are within a community. What consenting couples do in private is, literally, their own affair.

A Storm In The Church…?

July 5, 2009

Before my book ‘When Angels Lie’ was first published (Magpies Nest Publishing) five years ago, I asked a Cambridge scholar if he would kindly read it and give his opinion. It must be noted here that the gentleman in question happens to be a churchwarden in the Anglican Church and not someone to champion gay rights, nor is it a book he would normally read.
He had a number of conclusions. One was that ‘… your book could cause a storm in the Church’ and another, more specific, ‘…could make the general public look at the Anglican Church, its clergy and its adherents with new eyes.’
I will ignore here the positive remarks made by him, and those of a newspaper reviewer who spoke of an urgency to read on and on. And elsewhere you can read a ‘tens across the board‘ review. Here I want to concentrate on the unjust situation as regards gay clergy and the Church’s attitude to homosexuals generally.
Five years on since I published that book. Have things changed? Legally, yes. In Church circles? It seems to me, not a lot. And that has surprised me as, at the time, there seemed to be positive movements for greater acceptance. Yes, there has been acceptance at the price of celibacy in some circles, but even that is beyond consideration for some Evangelicals where homosexuality is considered evil sinful or a sickness.
Biblical quotations continue to be made as regard the sinfulness of homosexuality. Should we then comply with the Bible on all matters? Punish by stoning? Bar women from public speaking? Condone slavery? We live in enlightened times. Not so many years ago, slavery was accepted by Christians, just as was poverty for those born into it (the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, God made them high and lowly and ordered their estate’)
But, the prophets’ message is one of justice and equality for all people. We do not worship a book, or anything other than God himself. For a Christian that is the God we see in Jesus Christ. God is love. It is God who calls and God who enables. Who is man that he should deny those whom he has called to serve? St Peter would have denied Gentiles water baptism but God acted first and baptised them in Holy Spirit.
It follows then, that those whom God has called, of whatever colour and sexual orientation (and that person shows forth the necessary gifts and fruit of that calling) the Church cannot, in Truth, deny that calling.
To a certain extent, that is what my book is about. Other issues abound as the setting is a Parish of three churches, in the throes of change and of controversial Holy Spirit revival — not all of it welcome. The characters are drawn from life, and so are the relationships, conflicts, co-operation, friendliness, love, joy and pain of daily situations. Of course, for truthfulness of daily living, sexual relationships come into the story — women falling for their vicar and a shocking affair involving an ‘angelic’ teenager who brings about a crisis threatening all that has been achieved.
The story is seen through the eyes of a cleric whose whole will is devoted to answering his calling, serving God with heart and mind. And with the comfort and support of the man whom God had brought into his life. A perfect partnership of love and ministry within two sets of parishes drawn together in team ministry.
I won’t give away the end.
I had considered a sequel of ‘five years on’ but the way things are progressing in the Church, what I had in mind then, will have to wait a few more years to be written!