Homophobes or Heroes? Christians Aren’t Above the Law.


March 1, 2011 by Rhi

Another day, another religious “freedom” case in the news. This time, a Pentecostal couple seeking a High Court ruling as to whether they should be allowed to foster, having explained to a Social Worker that they couldn’t take the view, if dealing with a young person, that being homosexual is OK.

Let’s look at some facts. The couple, Mr and Mrs Johns, withdrew their application to foster after the social worker “expressed concern” at their view on homosexuality. They feel that they were “doomed not to be approved” as carers, even though their application never reached that stage. So in reality, they weren’t rejected, and so quite why they felt the need to take the case to court is unclear to me.

The judgement, for me, is not particularly controversial. I’ve been following twitter discussions, and there’s the usual complaints that the thought police are out and about again, and that Christians are being maligned and discriminated against. But the Johns didn’t just think that homosexuality was wrong, they actively voiced the opinion, to a professional who is charged with the welfare and care of children in care. The problem is, when you are dealing with young children, pre-puberty, you can’t always ensure that you aren’t housing children who are going to realise that they are gay, with a couple who would obviously deal with any fallout of such a discovery by telling them they sinful and wrong.

Christians choose to believe what they do. And as for the idea that homosexuality is a sin, well… that’s a contentious point. No matter how hard some evangelicals and conservatives thump the table and say it’s a mainstream Christian view – it isn’t. It’s a matter of theological debate. And so therefore, this judgement can’t be seen as being against Christianity as a whole. It’s against a couple who, for whatever reason, have chosen to subscribe to a particular school of thought within Christian theological debate. They have every right to hold those beliefs, and the judgment doesn’t change that. But what it does indicate is that their beliefs are not compatible with offering care for children who are the responsibility of the state. Is it worth risking the psychological well-being of just one child, in order for them to prove a point? The very fact that they felt the need to state their stance on the matter, indicates that this is something which they feel very strongly about.

The simple fact is that any attempt to discriminate against others on the basis of gender, race, disability or sexual preference, is not acceptable – however noble or deep seated those beliefs might be. It’s entirely possible to not believe in something, and yet be able to support someone else without allowing it to colour ones judgment. I’m a committed Christian, and I manage to co-exist quite happily with my atheist partner. And we’ve managed to plan a wedding, with a minister, in a church, which satisfies both our belief systems. It’s entirely possible for Christians to co-operate with others of different (or indeed no) faiths, without anyone having to feel they have given up an important part of themselves.

I suspect, however, that the roaring noise coming from The Christian Institute, is due to their inability to see things from any other point of view but their own. If you choose to hold the view that homosexuals are sinful creatures, and that homosexuality should be discouraged, then you must also accept that those views are likely to preclude you from participating fully in a society where the laws dictate that sexual orientation is no reason to treat a person differently. Being a Christian doesn’t put you above that law. By all means disagree with it, but it is not discriminating against you. Being anti-gay isn’t a requisite of being Christian.


5 thoughts on “Homophobes or Heroes? Christians Aren’t Above the Law.

  1. Michael says:

    Actually, it’s NOT up for theological debate. At all. If you are a Christian, then you should believe the Bible to be the infallible word of God. If some important passages are not true in it, then why would ANY of it be true? It’s the only thing we have to go on besides our faith.

    Romans 1:26-27 – “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

    God didn’t make you gay just so He could say it was immoral. We all are born with tendencies, either because of the culture we are in or genes, or whatever. It’s the same with alcoholics. We all have tendencies toward certain sins, and that in and of itself is NOT sin. However, acting on it IS.

    You also mentioned your atheist partner, which brings up another scripture. 2 Corinthians 6:14 – “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”

    Christians should not hate gay people. Christianity 101 is Love the sinner, hate the sin. Jesus loves gays. But he also does not want to leave them where they are. If you continue in 1 Corinthians 6, look at verse 11 – “And that is what some of you WERE. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

    So, I implore you to not attack Christians for following God’s word. If you wish to continue in an immoral lifestyle, well God will ultimately be your judge. But in THIS life, we are commanded to judge righteously (John 7:24)… use spiritual discernment. We can most definitely do that with our politics. Only with worldly eyes can one see this as discrimination. It’s sin.

  2. Hmm. I think you may have become confused. I’m not gay. Not even slightly. Strictly vanilla here. I do, however, have many gay friends – both male and female. Many of them I have known since childhood. Therefore, as someone raised in a Christian family, it’s been important to me to understand how I can justify condemning a life that they have had no choice over (unless they forgo all chance of a loving relationship) whilst at the same time believing God to be forgiving, and a Lord Jesus who made it his business to seek out those who the Church elders in his time believed to be morally unfit.

    Your quoting of Bible passages perfectly demonstrates my argument. Let’s take them in order. Romans 1:26-27. You focus on the sex with other men part, probably in the context of what you assume the message throughout the Bible to be. But it specifies “shameful acts”. That doesn’t automatically mean the act of having sex with another man is, in itself, shameful. It is, at best, ambiguous. In any case, you left out the context of the passage, which shows that these were people who committed the sin of idolatry – quite clearly against the 10 commandments.

    The passage from 1 Corinthians is most interesting, and is a perfect example of how translations of the Bible have corrupted the original meaning. Your version states “men who have sex with men”, but the NIV version goes further to state “male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders”. The ambiguity of this passage comes from the use of Greek in the original translation, which uses the word “malakos” – which has the literal translation of “soft to the touch”. It was used, at the time of Paul’s writings, to refer to catamites – young men who were kept as sex slaves by other men. However, it’s also believed that the two words which refer to men are not the same – they refer to the a man who forcibly has sex with another man, against that man’s wishes (hence the male prostitutes). That’s not quite the same thing as saying all sex with men is wrong – only that which is forced upon an unwilling man. The homosexual part is reputed to have come from the word “arsenokoites”, which is very ambiguous in its roots, as Paul does not specify exactly what the word means. Furthermore, the word arsenokoites also appears in 1 Timothy 9-10, but in THAT case (in the NIV) it is translated as “perverts”. So how can we place any definite store in a word that has been translated in two different ways into English? We also need to look at how both malakos as arsenokoites have been translated previously in earlier versions of the Bible. Both have had their meaning subtly changed, and scholars have discovered that the change in these meanings from more ambiguous terms, to ones which more definitely specify homosexuality, coincide with shifts in society to view homosexual relationships as something wrong.

    So, as I say, my point still stands. It is NOT clear cut that The Bible says homosexuality is wrong. The simple answer is, we don’t know. We can’t know, because (especially in the passages you have quoted) the words are used with no context – they form part of a list with nothing to direct us either way.

    As for your opinion on my marriage. Hmm. 1 Cor. 12-16 says:

    “If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

    15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?”

    The passage you quoted is a warning against idolatry. And your version is a slightly different translation to the original, which specifies about being “unequally yoked” from the word heterozugeo, which also appears all the way back in Leviticus, when talking about not yoking animals together unequally. Fortunately, my husband to be is very much my equal, even if he hasn’t come round to believing in God yet. We have already discussed whether our children will be raised Christians (they will, but they will also be taught that it’s not the only school of thought. And I’m fine with that – I have hopes that the fellowship that I grew up in will happily encompass them, even if their father is a heathen). I also feel that, were it sinful to marry a non-believer, my own minister wouldn’t have agreed to perform the ceremony in a church. Not that you need to know, but in many ways he’s a lot more clean living than I am. He’s no more a sinner than I am – he’s a young man living in the 21st century. And I’m pleased that I’ve changed his mind about Christianity in the years we’ve been together, and he’s been entirely respectful of the impositions my faith makes on his life.

    I haven’t attacked Christians for following God’s word. But I am concerned when some Christians take what they view to be the definite answer, and use it as a way to discriminate against other people. Being homosexual isn’t remotely like being an alcoholic – when I see my friends in loving relationships with other men, living their lives without harming anyone. The God I love, and who loves me, would not see them as any more wrong than I am. Not then, not now, not ever. And nothing you’ve said can prove otherwise, I’m afraid.

    • Michael says:

      I could also quote Old Testament scriptures that teach against homosexuality, but then you’d probably come back saying that it’s the Old Testament and doesn’t mean anything. The fact is God, nor Jesus (who is God) ever says that homosexuality is “ok.” However, the scriptures over and over tell us that it is not natural or immoral. You have clearly taken these passages and skewed them to fit what you think they should mean.

      The 1 Cor. 12-16 scripture you quoted is also clear, but about people who are ALREADY MARRIED. If you are not, and the person you with is an unbeliever, it’s not too late to leave. This is what it means to be unequally yoked. Your spin about the animals is funny. It’s called ALLEGORY.

      You should continue loving your gay friends just as Jesus loves them. You should also be praying for them, and like Jesus, not tolerating their sin. We are called to be in the world but not of it. It’s worldly thinking that says it is ok for two men to sodomize each other. I’m sorry but that is just nasty. God called for us to be fruitful and multiply. Do you really think he was talking to homosexuals who can NEVER naturally multiply?

  3. The Bible doesn’t say that it’s OK. But then, it doesn’t say it ISN’T OK. Your opinion is based purely on your reading of the text. For me, personally, there is more to it than that. I can’t read The Bible without taking into account the process that the words have been subjected to. The people through history who *may* have wanted to alter that text not because they believe it, but because they wanted it to support their own take on things. I prefer to take my queues from God, from prayer, and from what I’ve learned from growing up in a strong Christian fellowship.

    I wouldn’t say that the Old Testament doesn’t matter, but equally no matter what I say, you will continue to suggest that it states “quite clearly” – which is a little incorrect. If it was so clear, there would be no questions over the meaning of the words. The Bible is not some magical transcript with all the answers laid out in plain English for us. It constantly calls us to question our faith. If you’ve ever sat down to have a read at Leviticus, there’s some fantastic stuff in there – especially in how to deal with an outbreak of mold or mildew. It’s *those* kind of passages that suggest to me that The Bible is not an instruction manual, to be followed to the last exact letter. Its a source for knowledge, and study, and should encourage our quest to understand God better. What *did* God mean when he sent his word to Paul in the NT? Or when the Gospels were written? Why, is homosexuality is such a sin, and Jesus is so unforgiving of it, did he make no mention of it at any point? As with anything, the omission is as interesting a subject of debate as an inclusion.

    And again with the marriage thing – you clearly fair to understand the context of the letter. I would respectfully suggest you do a bit of research on the situation in Corinth when Paul wrote his letter. In the early days of Christianity, there would quite clearly be an issue for those who had converted to follow Christ, but who’s husbands or wives had not. So the question is, can someone who is not a follower of the Christian faith be equal in a marriage with someone who isn’t. The animal allegory is Paul’s – but the only other use of heterozugeo is back in Leviticus 19:19, where it is most clearly referring to animals, and specifically the mating of two different species (although it’s translation is generally accepted to be to yoke up differently, or to disassociate discordantly). Paul is taking the ancient text and referring to it in a contemporary sense as an instruction for the new Christians in Corinth. In the words of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, “the principle might be expressed thus: ‘Do not form any relationship, whether temporary or permanent, with unbelievers that would lead to a compromise of Christian standards or jeopardize consistency of Christian witness’” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 10, p. 359).” I am satisfied that, although he doesn’t believe what I do, my partner respects my faith and understands what it entails. He has made numerous compromises over his own beliefs, in order that I may fulfill the duties of mine (marriage in a church, in a religious ceremony, for example). He understands my commitment to God, and supports me in what I do in the church and in the community. If he were not understanding of that, or if he tried to lead me away from the church, then THAT would be unequal – one of us would hold sway over the other. But he doesn’t, and he won’t. Because he’s intelligent enough to understand that a person’s faith is a personal choice. It’s bordering on offensive to suggest that he would even consider my views of being of less worth than his own, or worse, that he’s wicked or dark. Consider this – what if his salvation depended on us being together? What if his route to God is through me, though our marriage?

    In any case, my gay friend’s salvation is in their own hands. I am not their judge – I cannot judge when I cannot be sure that I am judging them on the right “criteria”. I know many heterosexual marriages where children were not an option – does that make them any less right in the eyes of God? Perhaps my own circumstances make it hard for me to place procreation as the most important aspect. But like I say, I don’t know that I’m any more right that you are. I just know that I haven’t found all the answers yet, and quoting passages from a Holy text which has been through many, many MANY translations, and not all with the express intention of clarifying God’s word, is not going to convince me any quicker, I’m afraid. It’s not God’s word which is wrong, it’s man’s interpretation of it. We are fallible, even in our comprehension of The Bible. But it makes me happy that we can talk about these things, because it’s through talking and discussing that we can hopefully find a deeper understanding.

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