Position of the Christian Church on Homosexuality
The society we live in today places great importance on sex and sexual conduct. Unlike in the past when matters of sexual orientation were left in secret, the situation has changed and these matters have now been bared open to the public.
In the past, there was a general accepted code of conduct and failure to adhere to that code was treated with disdain. However, this has changed and many sexual behaviors, which were frowned upon in the past are accepted and encouraged.
From a young age, individuals are encouraged to conduct their lives in a manner that best suits them. This ambiance of acceptance and certification is best seen where homosexuality is present. Despite the acceptance of homosexuality as a way of life in America, some religions such as the Catholic Church have continued to oppose the introduction of homosexuality within the church and even go to the extent excommunicating those who are viewed as tolerant towards this behavior.
This research paper seeks to provide evidence that disapproves the Catholic reasons for barring gay people from practicing religion. The aim of the paper is to prove that the church in general does not have any reason to bar homosexuals from the church since no relevant scriptures oppose the practice.
The society we live in today places great importance on sex and sexual conduct. Unlike in the past when matters of sexual orientation were left in secret, the situation has changed and these matters have now been bared open to the public. In the past, there was a general accepted code of conduct and failure to adhere to that code was treated with disdain.
However, this has changed and many sexual behaviors, which were frowned upon in the past are accepted and encouraged. From a young age, individuals are encouraged to conduct their lives in a manner that best suits them.
This ambiance of acceptance and certification is best seen where homosexuality is present. Despite the acceptance of homosexuality as a way of life in America, some religions such as the Catholic Church have continued to oppose the introduction of homosexuality within the church and even go to the extent excommunicating those who are viewed as tolerant towards this behavior.
This research paper seeks to provide evidence that disapproves the Catholic reasons for barring gay people from practicing religion. The aim of the paper is to prove that the church in general does not have any reason to bar homosexuals from the church since no relevant scriptures oppose the practice. (Coleman 100)
The homosexual conclaves now active in almost every main American religion have forced the church to face the topic of homosexuality in a more open manner and with more sensitivity than it have yet done.
Despite this valid and fitting demand on the church to reexamine its stand, there are other reasons that compel the church to rethink its religious studies and performance.
To begin with, homosexual Christians are members of the larger Christian family earnestly looking for acknowledgment from the church without being judged based on their sexual orientation vis-a-vis to which they have no choice.
Additionally, even though anti-homosexual prejudice has been present in the society, the church must realize the part it has played in propagating the stigma toward gays. It is important for the church to remember that they have the task of ensuring social justice and despite this mandate gay people continue to be denied employment, housing among other civil liberties all because of their sexual affiliation. (Nelson)
The church is supposed to carry out its ongoing theological and moral work in a responsible manner. It is important to note that fresh insights continue to be revealed every day as Christians advance on their theological work. This should be a clear pointer that there is the possibility of new doctrines rising up with the progression of time.
By accepting homosexuals as a part of the Christian family, the church will be enabling gays to love themselves something that will in turn boost their self-esteem and better their relationship with their fellow human beings. The Catholic Church has continued to disregard these basic truths something that has in turn led to rebellion within the church. (Siker 8)
By closely examining the points propagated by the church to deny homosexuals their rights to practice religion, one is able to realize that the problem emanates from the interpretive principles employed. Indeed, Jesus Christ is the holder of God’s summon to individual completeness and is the central point of God’s improving accomplishment.
This automatically makes Jesus Christ the standard through which people must receive judgment. When interpreting the bible, it is important for the church to take in to consideration the historical context of when the bible was written and the existing civilizing situation.
Additionally, the bible should be studied with an awareness of the civilizing relativity through which we identify and understand the Christian way of life. Most importantly, the church must be open to new interpretations of God’s truth that might be revealed through other regulations of human being inquisition. (Nelson)
By reading the entire bible, one realizes that no single verse mentions homosexuality as being a sexual orientation. In reality, what the bible refers to are definite types of homosexual actions.
The doctrine that classifies homosexuality as a physic orientation is somewhat recent. In all the instances that the bible mentioned homosexuality, it did so in reference to individuals who were regarded as heterosexually represented. According to Catholicism, the Onan story (Genesis 38:8-10) is a clear pointer that God intended that people should enter into relationships leading to procreation.
While the story in its entirety does not involve homosexual behavior, it gives us important pointers as to the reasons for its primeval condemnation. In the story, Onan had refused to impregnate the wife of his late brother by withdrawing before ejaculation. Moses interpreted this refusal as serious violation of divine laws and for this reason, the Jewish God struck down Onan. (McGinley 133)
Although this story might be seen to justify the church stand, it can be interpreted to mean different things. To begin with, the story is used to represent the strong theme of procreation that is used throughout the Hebrew understanding of reproduction. The awareness created by this story that the survival of a small clan depended mostly on abundant reproduction makes us to understand this story in a better manner.
Yet, the earths overcrowded state places the universe in a different light and should compel the church to rethink its position on procreation. Additionally, this story is based upon a biological misinterpretation that is present in the entire bible. At that time, scientists believed that the semen contained the entirety of nascent life. Since there was limited knowledge on the women reproduction system, it was believed that women only acted as a space for carrying through life.
Therefore, the act of Onan deliberately spilling the seed was construed as malevolent destruction of life. When the same acts occurred during masturbation or homosexuality, the resultant punishment was equivalent to that of murder. The Onan story can also be understood in the Judeo-Christian tradition that failed to condemn the same acts if they were associated with the opposite gender. (McGinley 135)
Perhaps to understand the Catholicism claim better, it would help to look at the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. (Genesis 19:1-29) According to Catholics and other sections of the church, this story explains clearly that God is opposed to homosexual activities. Although the dwellers of Sodom displayed a contemptible form of sexual depravity, their actions cannot be said to have been of homosexual nature.
Throughout this passage, there is no point where the bible disproves affectionate, devoted, monogamous gay interactions. The bible is categorical in the passage that the people living in this period were guilty of homosexual rape, domineering desire and sexual exploitation. On top of these, the people had also breached the traditional Hebrew generosity customs and constant violation of basic social justice. (Siker 12)
The fact that aloofness and unfairness are the primary sins of Sodom and Gomorrah is evident if the parallel Old Testament scriptures are anything to go by. This is clearly demonstrated in Ezekiel 16:49-50: “Behold, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.” In fact, Ezekiel says in the following verse that compared to Samaria, Sodom and Gomorrah were honorable. (New Revised Standard Version) Some bible commentaries have claimed that the men of Sodom lusted after Lot’s guests because they were angelic beings and not ordinary men.
The basis of the Genesis story reflects the emphasis placed on hospitality in Middle Eastern traditions. According to the passage, hospitality was so important such that Lot was willing to present his virgin daughters to be raped than let this happen to men he did not even know but whom he felt compelled to look after.
This dispels the notion propagated by the Catholic Church that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of their homosexual deeds. Additionally, the theory that connects sodomy with homosexuality is unbiblical in its nature.
Although practicing sodomy is condemned in several passages in the bible, it is not for the reason that it involved sex between men but because the participants were worshiping foreign Canaanite gods. The point where the church uses these scriptures to condemn homosexuality is therefore unfounded. (Coleman 106)
Indeed, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is not used to censure just the same way that 2 Samuel 13 is not used to denounce heterosexuality. It is sad to note that the Catholic Church has capitalized on a scripture that addresses inhospitality and injustice to vilify homosexuals.
Throughout the Old Testament, the bible contains numerous passages that criticize homosexuality and rape. However, all these verses address cultic defilement, which was prevalent in Canaan.
In history, Canaanite fertility worship involving the things condemned in the passages talking about homosexuality was prevalent and this was viewed as a threat to Jehovah’s exclusive reign. Jehovah was the God who allowed people the freedom to choose what they wanted and this was not accomplished through cycles of genetic life.
Sexuality was therefore perceived to be a part of human life that was supposed to be used in a responsible manner as a sign of appreciation to its maker. The passages that talk about this mystery are often misinterpreted and used to degrade gay people. (Nelson)
Apart from this explanation, it was common in the Middle East to subject incarcerated male enemies to anal degradation. This was used as a sign of dominance and contempt. As far as homosexuality was understood to articulate such hatred and scorn in a society that placed high emphasis on the male race, such an activity was bound to receive such criticism. In Jesus ministry, there is no available record where he spoke anything about homosexuality.
In the New Testament, Paul gave the only passages that speak about the practice. In one of the passages that is widely quoted in Romans 1:26-27, Paul was expressing his concern on idolatry, which had become prevalent in the first church. Being concerned about the negative persuasion that paganism had on the Roman Church, Paul perceives gay relationships as a form of homosexuality but is not categorical on whether the practice brings God’s anger. (Johns)
Like in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, Paul is concerned with homosexual lust and this is not an account of loving homosexual relationships. In Romans 1:27, Paul is clearly talking about homosexual relationships by men who had “left the natural use of women and burned in their desire for one another.” (New Revised Standard Version)
Generally, these people had left their natural sexual orientation for the sake of exploring sexual exploits something that the bible has repeatedly warned us not to practice. It is therefore impossible to understand Paul’s warning as directed to people in loving homosexual relationships and are oriented in this manner. By barring homosexuals from religious activities on the accusation of going against the natural law is obviously something that is unbiblical and one that should be done away with. (Johns)
The Catholic Church and the Christian churches in general are treading on shaky ground as far as recognizing the rights of gay people are concerned. Given the overwhelming evidence by bible scholars, which show that the bible does not out rightly object to gay relationships, it is time that the church softened its stand in the matter.
It is sad to note that people are being locked out of ministry and even out of church doors based on their sexual orientation. The bible speaks against many things but sadly, church leaders have embraced some, which support their own selfish ambitions. Although the bible does not address slavery, the Catholic Church has rejected it since it views it to be against the bible teachings on love, justice and human dignity.
In the same way, the church should accept gay people as equal partners in any relationship. It is sad to note that in their desire to play it safe, churches lock people outside churches and ban them from practicing religion based on their sexual orientation. What is even sadder is that churches are doing this despite there being no clear restrictions on homosexuals within the church.
From the look of things, it may take a long time for the complexities of ecclesiastical implications to be resolved. Many gay Christians have become tired of waiting for these complexities to be resolved and they have decided to come out of the closet. This should serve as a wake up call for churches that are yet to come to an agreement on the matter to speed things to ensure that gay Christians are accorded their right to practice religion. (Johns)
Unlike in the past when sexual matters were discussed in private, things have changed and people are beginning to appreciate their sexual orientation. Despite the awakening experienced within the church in the last few years, the Catholic Church is yet to accept gay Christians in their congregations. In trying to justify their actions, the church has come up with flimsy reasons that seek to justify their position. It is sad to note that the passages of scripture that the church quotes as a basis for their actions is usually quoted out of context.
This has blocked many deserving Christians from holding positions within the church. From the look of things, the ecclesiastical implications concerning gay relationships are complex and might take a long time to resolve. Gay people have obviously got tired of standing in the sidelines and they have adopted a confrontational mode with churches that are yet to recognize their rights.
Coleman, Peter. Christian attitudes to homosexuality, 1980. SPCK, 100-122. Print.
Johns, Loren. Homosexuality and the Bible: A Case Study in the Use of the Bible for Ethics, 2009. Web. April 12, 2011.
McGinley, Dugan. Acts of Faith, Acts of Love: Gay Catholic Autobiographies as Sacred Texts, 2006. Continuum International Publishing Group, 133-145. Print.
Nelson, James. Homosexuality and the Church, 1977. Web. April 12, 2011.
New Revised Standard Version. Trans. Bruce M. Metzger. New York: Zondervan, 1983. Print.
Siker, Jeffrey. Homosexuality in the Church: Both Sides of the Debate, 1994. Westminster John Knox Press, 1-100. Print.