What does Christianity say about homosexuality?

Most Church statements that deal with homosexuality only refer to male homosexuality but the same principles can apply to lesbians.

There are great divisions within the Christian community on this issue, with the Roman Catholic Church and some sections of the evangelical churches holding very similar views.

The main arguments for and against homosexuality

Arguments against homosexuality

  • God made male and female according to the Book of Genesis to complete each other and to procreate. Even if the couple are unable to have children, the sexual union is theoretically open to the production of children.
  • The natural order represented in nature is for male and female to unite. This is often linked to the natural law argument.
  • Homosexual practice is forbidden in the book of Leviticus: If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death. (Leviticus 20:13).
  • In some of St Paul's letters included in the Bible, he condemns homosexuality as 'unrighteous' and claims that men who practise homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Arguments in favour of homosexuality

  • Simply because a sexual union cannot result in children, it is not right to forbid any action that is a physical expression of genuine love.
  • Homosexuals are simply following their natural instincts. This is how God created them, so they should not be condemned.
  • There is evidence of homosexual activity throughout the animal kingdom.
  • There are many laws in the Bible that would not be accepted now because the nature of society has changed, eg capital punishment and slavery. We should not be restricted by ancient standards.
  • Some people believe that St Paul's comments were about male prostitutes, not homosexuality in general.

What does this mean in practice?

Most Christian churches hold the position that you should 'Love the sinner, but hate the sin'. This is generally interpreted to mean that Christians should show love and compassion to homosexuals, but that homosexuals should not engage in sexual activity. This is because most churches teach that sex should only happen within marriage, which the Church defines as being between a man and a woman.

The Roman Catholic Church states:

This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided...Homosexual people are called to chastity.Catechism of the Catholic Church 1992, paras 2358-9

The Quaker view on homosexuality is accepting:

Where there is a genuine tenderness, an openness to responsibility, and the seed of commitment, God is surely not shut out. Can we not say that God can enter any relationship in which there is a measure of selfless love? ...To reject people on the grounds of their sexual behaviour is a denial of God's creation.Towards a Quaker View of Sex, 1963

Most Christians will take a position somewhere between these two views. Some churches offer support to homosexuals in leading a chaste life, while others readily accept openly homosexual people in positions of authority. However, few Christian groups will give a definitive statement on the issue as it would cause divisions within the community.

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