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Religion and Homosexuality by Tim C

Over the years I've come to believe that most of what we've been taught about God misses the mark. Many of the doctrinal positions that are taught as gospel don't stand up to close scrutiny. As an Interfaith Minister, my position on homosexuality is exactly the same as it is on heterosexuality: sin has nothing to do with sexual orientation - it's all about hurting others.

Being gay is no more of a sin than being straight. How can I say that with certainty? Because being gay doesn't automatically hurt anyone anymore than being straight does. Does that give a gay person the right to sleep with multiple partners in an irresponsible way? No, especially with the current dangers of disease but no even without that. Hurting others selfishly to get what you want is always wrong - it's always a sin. In fact, that's the definition of sin.

God is Love

That sounds good but there's a lot more to God than that, right? I don't think there is. Love is actively caring about others - caring in the right way. It's a combination of goodwill, genuine kindness, honest forgiveness, true acceptance, and of constantly hoping for a positive outcome. If someone hurts you, it's okay to want justice but it's not okay to feel hatred. To err is human, to forgive divine. To sincerely hope that people will turn from their wrongs - to grow wiser, more considerate, more faithful, and be less hurting to others - that's the way of God. It has nothing to do with how often you go to church. It has nothing to do with the specifics of your doctrinal beliefs. It has nothing to do with your sexual orientation.

John Lennon's words were, "Love is the Answer and you know that for sure". Some of you who are reading this are nodding because you do know it. You know that God loves you regardless of your being gay. You know that being gay has nothing to do with the content of your character. You know when your conduct is totally selfish and when you're doing things from a compassionate heart. God isn't in the religion business- he's in the love business.

If anyone reading this still fears that God is disappointed that they are gay - trust me - God doesn't care. God wants you to be honest and honorable. She wants you to be balanced and responsible. She wants you to live the life you truly believe to be right for you- with a genuine commitment to caring about yourself and others.

Being gay just is. It's like being left handed. Most people are right handed - so what? Why would that make them morally superior? If God didn't want you to be gay - he's certainly powerful enough to push you away from that.

You are a growing, experiencing individual who finds it easier to love (romantically & sexually) people of the same sex. This would hurt nobody if they simply took it at face value. Any hurt that comes from that comes from a lack of acceptance. It comes from judging. It comes from a belief that it's morally wrong. But for it to be morally wrong - it would need to injure somebody. Stealing is morally wrong. But being gay just is.

The Bible

It's quite interesting that Jesus never says a single thing in the bible about homosexuality. But he has plenty to say on the subject of judgment and forgiveness! He tells us that as we forgive others, so shall we be forgiven. And he tells us that with the same judgment we judge others, so too shall we be judged. He also talks about perfecting ourselves before we begin pointing out the faults of others.

It's true there are bible verses that seem to condem homosexuality. But a key element of getting the most from the bible is to look at everything it says with an accurate context of what it was really trying to say. The Old Testament was written before Jesus was born. It was written prior to his bringing his amazing gift of Grace. Much of what the Old Testament says serves as a history - it provides us with a context of how things were prior to Jesus (please note that this explanation is coming from a Christian perspective - I believe that other religious perspectives deserve every bit as much respect).

The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, a language with very few words and no vowels! The Hebrew word for kill, murder, injure, do injustice to are all the same. So a verse as simple as "Thou Shalt Not Kill" is probably translated inaccurately because we kill all the time. We kill to defend ourselves, our loved ones, our country - a more likely translation of that is Thou Shalt Not Murder.

The verses that seem to condemn homosexuality may have similar problems. How much of what is written is condemning promiscuous & irresponsible sex and not homosexuality in general s very difficult to pinpoint. How much is cultural or societal is difficult to pinpoint. And how much is the opinion of the author and how much is God- that's also difficult to pinpoint. We have to remember that the Old Testament writers believed that God required animals to be sacrificed to him- that seems a little barbaric, doesn't it?

I'm not advocating an irresponsible "do whatever you want" spiritual perspective. The great Chinese philosopher Confucius gave us a brilliant starting point when he told us "not to do to others what we wouldn't want done to us." I wouldn't want you to kick me so I won't kick you. I wouldn't want you to steal from me so I won't steal from you. I wouldn't want you to lie about your feelings for me so I won't lie about my feelings for you. I wouldn't want you to say something mean to me so I won't say something mean to you. This Golden Rule shows us an easy way to respect others and to establish moral boundaries.

Being Gay and Roman Catholic

It's a matter of Roman Catholic doctrine that Jesus Christ was an acceptable sacrifice for the sins of all people who live a committed life in serving him. It is taught that Christ brought grace into the world- that grace has the redemptive power to take away our sins permanently and put us in harmony with God forever. We do not have to be perfect or sinless to be in this state of grace. There is no doubt that the Church teaches that grace is large enough to forgive even grievous sins.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that being actively gay is a sin. But it also teaches that masturbation is a sin. It used to teach that eating meat on Friday was a sin. So sin is definitely a forgiveable offense. According to Roman Catholic doctrine, there are two types of actual sin: mortal sin and venial sin. A mortal sin is a grievous sin that takes away saving grace. A venial sin is a lesser sin that lessens our closeness to God.

The Roman Catholic Church further adds that our intentions play an important role in whether something is a sin and whether that sin is mortal or venial. Our laws somewhat mirror the postion of the Church on that- whether we kill somebody in 1st degree or 2nd degree makes no difference in how dead they are. But sentencing is much harsher if it's believed that a person intended from the beginning to kill another person.

So if your attitude is, "I know being gay is wrong and that it offends God but I'm going to do it anyway" that falls into the category of sin. If your attitude is, "I know what the Church teaches and I respect that but I see it as being a reflection of who I am and see no wrong in it for me" I would seriously doubt there's any sin involved at all.

The Church believes that it has the right to speak for God in generally condemning certain actions. It believes it can say that homosexuality as a general rule defies the will of God. But... and this is very important... if you honestly and sincerely see no wrong in something- your individual conscience - through grace - absolves you of any punishment from God.

Why would God punish somebody for doing something they see no wrong in and - very important - that doesn't hurt anybody?

Our society (mostly through the church) is wonderful at creating guilt and shame in people as it relates to their sexuality. But unless that shame is an inward feeling where one truly believes they're doing wrong - there's no guilt associated with the sin. In other words, unless you really believe your homosexuality is a terrible wrong - your continuing to be gay would be no more grievous than occasionally lying.

For those of you who are single, safe sex homosexual acts are less likely to be sinful because they don't go against an oath that you took or cause you to be cheating on a spouse.

The secret to being Catholic and gay is to come to terms with it yourself. Don't do things you know to be wrong. Continue your walk with Christ with the same sincerity and genuineness you've always had. Don't let the judgments of others effect your faith.

I'm not sure I've explained this very well and I'm quite positive that not all Catholic theologians accept this particular interpretation. But... this is a postion that is held by some Catholic theologians and one that makes sense to me.

Questions and Answers

It is a sad but true fact that intolerant religious beliefs are the genesis of most of the hatred and discrimination against gay and lesbians. Unfortunately, intolerance is a difficult obstacle to overcome because it is so basic to man's nature. Rather than go into a detailed history of religion's relationship with homosexuality - let me do this in a question and answer format that will make it easier for you to get something useful from here:

1) Why is Christianity so anti-gay?

Christianity evolved out of the Jewish religion. Jesus himself was Jewish, all the Apostles were Jewish- Christianity adopted the Jewish bible (the Old Testament) even though Jesus is believed by Christian's to be the fulfillment of the Jewish law and the New Testament is a better reflection of the things he emphasized- love, forgiveness, and brotherhood . There are just enough verses in the Old Testament that are anti-gay to have moved Paul, who wrote 13 of the 27 books in the New Testament, to feel that being gay was inconsistent with being a Christian.

Although Jesus taught tolerance and love and never even specifically mentioned homosexuality, the Christian Church hasn't done a great job of following his lead and has accepted Paul's view as being correct.

2) Is there abundant evidence that homosexuality is wrong?

Jesus taught a doctrine that asks us to be creatively caring towards others. That doesn't mean we have to give up our own goals and dreams and spend all our spare time in the service of others. But it does mean we have to respect the rights of others, to avoid being intentionally or carelessly hurtful- it prevents us from taking advantage of others, from being mean spirited or from being vicious with other people.

So being gay isn't ever really an issue according to the teachings of Christ. Cheating on your partner is wrong- not because you're gay but because you're cheating on your partner.

3) Does Christianity allow for someone to be gay?

Certain denominations within Christianity evolved more from the doctrines of Paul than from the doctrines of Jesus and thus see homosexuality as sin. These denominations usually place a great deal of emphasis on the bible as being "God's Word" and less on Jesus as being "God's Word." In John 1:1 it says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." In John 1-14, it clarifies that by adding, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

The bible has many teachings that emphasize that Love is the central way we follow Christ. To accept the few verses that Paul wrote that seem to point a finger at homosexuality requires one to reject the teachings that would seem to make it irrelevant. If we're forgiven in accordance with how we forgive others as Jesus taught- being gay is far less of a problem to one's spiritual walk than being judgmental.

4) Why do so many Christians hate homosexuals?

They are never Christians who place an emphasis on Christian love. Believing in justice to too great an extent can make a person unbalanced. If you somehow feel you have the right to beat someone up or even to discriminate against them- you're obviously not walking in the things that Christ taught. Many Christians honestly believe homosexuality is immoral. My advice is to accept that as their right. Be open to dialog with them. Challenge them at every opportunity. But remember that disagreeing doesn't mean to hate. Unless they have an attitude of hatefulness it's not a terrible thing- merely a point of ignorance that has terrible consequences for gay rights. So try and change their perspective but don't mistake them for those who are hateful.


This article is compiled from several posts by Tim C in the Empty Closets forum

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