Homosexuality in The Church: what are we doing?

As far back as history can dictate, humans have believed in something bigger than themselves. Religion, especially Christianity, has shaped laws, political systems and policies carried out by both the government and individuals. The church needs to avoid hypocrisy, ideology, and political swaying of theology to maintain its integrity as an organization of love and acceptance.                                   The church often allows its initial feelings toward homosexual behavior to induce hypocrisy. The United Methodist Church’s slogan is “open hearts, open minds, open doors” (Hefland). This implies that all are welcome to be a loved and accepted neighbor in its community. Therefore, it must always be the church’s goal to be an open sanctuary for all. Is this openness not applicable to homosexuals? Homosexuality is “about love, not about sex” (qtd. in Billitteri). Feelings toward gay sex can cause people in the church to very easily lose sight of the beauty within homosexuality. Same-sex partners spending the rest of their lives together are just as noble or romantic as any other matrimony. The church often uses minor differences to pass judgment. Some organizations, such as the Interfaith Alliance, draw on “shared religious principles to challenge those who manipulate religion to promote an extreme political agenda based on false gospel…This false gospel threatens our families, our values, and our future” (Briggs). Many Christians cling to scraps of scripture to support their personal beliefs rather than basing their opinions on scripture as a whole. It is hypocritical to twist beliefs to wave them as a sign of another’s wrongs, for disables the purpose of believing in love and acceptance. Sadly, this is not uncommon: believers often reduce themselves below the loving expectations set for them.

Some churches are reduced to hateful behavior against homosexuals. Scott Harrison, a homosexual Christian, participated in ex-gay ministries that tried to change his sexual orientation. He lived through a three hour long exorcism that induced psychological wounding: it was so theologically incorrect and invading that he felt spiritually raped (qtd. in Sanchez). This ministry was trying to cure Harrison’s sexuality. If the church supports actions that are emotionally, physically, or spiritually destructive, it can never reach its mission. The church cannot spread God’s love while causing damage to people. Even if one believes that homosexuality is an ailment caused by a distance from God, treating people with hatred only furthers such a distance. By refusing to accept homosexuals in any aspect, the church pushes them away and makes it increasingly difficult for them to keep the faith.  Many clergy and lay leaders are taking a stance on the prejudices in the church against homosexuals. Rev. Janet Gollery-McKeithen, a United Methodist clergywoman, proclaims that she does no want to leave her church, but “can’t be a part of a church that is willing to portray a God that is so hateful” (Hefland).  Christians believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God. The denial of same-sex couples, however, depicts God as discriminatory and assumes he does not see homosexuals equal to other humans.  This sanctimoniousness exhibited by many Christians tracks their secular beliefs into the church.

Political concerns should always be guided by theology and core beliefs of Christianity, rather than beliefs being pinned behind secular opinions. When politics are dragged into the church, it is a distraction from true faith. According to Kenneth Briggs, “within mainstream churches today, there is no unified liberal effort to counter the powerful Right,” and “the political gap between the two groups could hardly be wider.” Separation within the church on secular matters causes it to be less effective in bringing each other closer to Christ. Time is wasted on arguing the differences of political groups that could be spent exploring faith or reaching out to the community. Many churches “suffer large losses in membership, inducing a climate of caution with regard to confronting controversies that may sour further attrition” (Briggs). Church should be a place for a breath of fresh air from the average, spiteful concerns of politics. People do not want to be part of an institution that offers nothing beyond the worldly concerns. The church needs to focus on its mission to preach the gospel and live out of love, letting politics fall behind this belief — not the other way around. The church should apply their theology to politics rather than extending beliefs that support their opinions. The acceptance Episcopal Church exhibits for “gays and lesbians reaches far beyond religion to touch society” (“Acceptance”). Christians are often are the examples to define morality. Church-goers were often the front-runners in reformations such as women’s suffrage and the Civil Rights Movement. The opinions formed in the church on what is right reverberate into society as a whole. Because of this influence, it is the church’s duty to set an example of love and acceptance. Violence, hatred or discrimination against any individual or group cannot be condoned in the church, therefore religious communities must teach the people of the world how to love each other through acting upon their beliefs.

Love and acceptance must be the basis of all actions of the Church, including its policies on homosexual-related issues. According to Rev. Steve Heyduck, the church “should do something different than we are doing now. Honoring same-sex unions or marriages, I think, would be much more Jesus-like in that we would be valuing and affirming people in their humanness and in their intention to be faithful people to one another.” In the everlasting quest to achieve Godliness, the church often loses its way. Christians believe they are called to love everyone they encounter − even when it is difficult. Homosexuals are equal to any one else: “heterosexual and homosexual expressions are variations on the theme of positive inherent sexuality” (Billitteri).  A homosexual couple is as human as any other. If any one deserves to be loved and respected, then these rights cannot be denied to any one else. The fear or discomfort felt by congregations about homosexuals is a negative expression on their sexuality. If sexuality is a gift from God, homosexuals should not be refused that gift.  Therefore, the church must treat them with love, acceptance and respect.

Homosexuality is not merely a lifestyle choice, a phase, or a rebellion to religion. Sexuality is a part of who a person truly is. God created those attracted to the same-sex just as he created heterosexuals. The church is an institution built on a foundation of love, respect and acceptance. When it allows secular issues to interfere with the extensions of this foundation, it loses its integrity as a religious organization. It loses its meaning. For all these reasons, the church must accept homosexuals into its community of faith, work to ensure their rights, and love them the same as anyone.

 

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2 thoughts on “Homosexuality in The Church: what are we doing?

  1. Great job Marianne! You continue to amaze me with your insight. I have long believed that sexual preference is, in most cases, not a choice, but rather a hard-wired part of who each individual is. I have known a couple of people who did make a choice to be homosexual, however the rest have been as wired to think members of their same sex were sexually attractive as I am to think that men who appeal to me are.

    God has given you a gift, and He has given me (and the rest of Epworth) a gift by placing you in our little corner of the world to share your gift.

  2. A thoughtful, cogent essay, Marianne, that I happen to agree with, although my agreement is beside the point. Having faced this issue before, in a real-life situation, I can relate first-hand that some people are of the opinion that homosexual acts are, in fact, sinful. There seems to be a threshold age, somewhat older than me but not by much, at which folks believe that homosexuality is a choice of character rather than a result of genetics (or biology or whatever). I believe there is hope that this will change but I fear that hope might be farther off than we might want. Don’t be surprised if you hear strongly-worded dissenting opinions on this subject.

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