I don’t often deal with real hot potatoes in this “Thought for the Day” slot. But there were some ill-considered statements on Thursday’s “Talkback” about the Christian view of homosexuality. It was triggered off by the House of Lords vote to retain the bar on unmarried and gay couples adopting children. So, in a nutshell, what does the Church say?
First, it is abundantly clear that the Bible – the written word of God – in its few references to the subject, regards it as sinful. Sin is falling short of God’s standards. God does not want anyone to sin sexually, whether through homosexual practice or adultery or fornication. The Christian believes the only acceptable place for any kind of sexual expression is within the bounds of the life-long, publicly declared, mutually avowed commitment we call marriage. Homosexual practice, whether by men or by women, is outside God’s norms.
However, we must distinguish between homosexual inclination and homosexual practice. Homosexual preference is a desire. Homosexual practice is an action. Homosexual inclination is temptation. Homosexual practice is a yielding to that temptation. Here’s good news: temptation is not sinful! It’s how you deal with the temptation that matters.
What’s the church’s attitude towards those with a homosexual lifestyle? Christians are the first to acknowledge that we are all sinners. But we are repentant sinners, trying to live according to God’s standards. Jesus said to those about to stone a woman for adultery: The sinless one among you, go first: throw the stone. And one by one, the mob crept away, unable to comply. But then Jesus turned to the woman and said, From now on, don’t sin.
Christians are called to follow Jesus’s example, loving people unconditionally. But, like Jesus, we have to confront sin, not condone it. Because homosexual practice is outside of God’s intention for humankind, the church has to say that it is wrong to place needy adoptive children within a permanent homosexual lifestyle. It would be wrong to promote a homosexual lifestyle in schools. It is wrong to ordain unrepentant homosexual practitioners to the Christian ministry.
But hand-in-hand with this comes the love we have for those with a homosexual lifestyle. They are not inferior people. They are not to be hated, but valued and loved, just as Jesus values and loves us. We are all sinners, but we can all be forgiven.