There is often a gap between Christian Belief and the way
in which Christians act on their beliefs. Examine and comment on this claim
with reference to the topic you have investigated. “Homosexuality is a more or less strong tendency ordered
toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as
an objective disorder” This is one of Pope Benedict XVI view on the issue of
homosexuality – as defined by Alfred Kinsey as the sexual attraction to a
member of the same sex. The two sides of the church, liberal and conservative,
have been very sincere with their views on homosexuality and what is said in
the bible regarding this controversial issue. However, many would agree that
arguments from either side can be very contradictory as each have their own
interpretation of the Bible. In Britain, “The Civil Partnership Act of 2004” legalised
civil partnerships between homosexual people and was the equivalent to a
marriage, as it involves the same legal rights as a heterosexual marriage, in
terms of properties and pensions. At this time, there was little argument
within the Church as it was merely seen as legal fairness as it could not be
performed in a Church. However, in March 2010 an amendment to the Equality Bill
was passed by the House of Lords that allowed civil partnership to be performed
in consenting churches. But this announcement was followed by an official
statement from the Church of England that showed their support for civil
partnerships but spoke fearfully that the amendment “would risk introducing a
form of same sex marriage”, and was also supported by another senior cleric, Dr
John Sentamu, who called any people who attempted to “redefine marriage” as
“dictators”. In the USA, it is legal in some states to carry out same-sex
marriages, for example in, Iowa, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. But if a
couple were to move to another state such as Minnesota, their marriage would
not be legal there. Many people would argue that it is unfair, especially in
the UK that homosexual marriages are not legal. It is very different from a
civil partnership, as it is blessed by God and others, but many conservatives
would disagree strongly that a homosexual wedding cannot be blessed by God, as
He condemns it, therefore there is no point in legalising same-sex marriage. But
at the start of 2013, the Equality Bill for same sex marriage was voted on,
with a majority of MP’s voting for homosexual marriage being legalised. This
was described by Ed Miliband as, “a proud day and an important step forward in
the fight for equality in Britain.”  The legal differences between civil partnerships and
marriage are slight, but homosexual campaigners have demanded full equality and
now they are on course to get it. But Church leaders and traditionalists have
expressed concerns about a centuries-old institution being redefined. The
Catholic Church states that “marriage is the union of love only between a man
and woman”. This is because of one of the passages in the Bible, Genesis 2:24, reads,
“a man shall leave his mother and father and become united with his wife”.
Because of this, conservative Christians believe that the practice of
homosexual marriage goes against the teachings of the Bible, and if they deny same-sex
marriage, then this act reflects Christian belief.A liberal Christian would have a strong view about this
debate and argue that the bible a record of the human encounter with God. The
bible must be interpreted in its historical context in order for us to
understand what it means for us today. Christians do not worship the bible but
learn from it. However, some may write on it or leave it lying around but the
book is there to help a person. It is a book about the writers’ experiences of
God, and was not written by God himself as some conservative Christians strongly
believe. A conservative would argue that they do not worship the
bible, but worship the God. They believe that humans were told by God himself
to write the bible and God’s words are “flawless” (Psalm 12). However, a
liberal would argue that different people wrote it at different times and there
is no scientific knowledge during these times. However, the bible is the actual
word of God according to conservatives and is the prime source of all
religious, spiritual and moral truth. Whenever the bible disagree, the former
must be right. However, liberals would disagree and say that since meaningful
scientific study of sexual orientation did not begin until 1950 CE, biblical authors
had little or no awareness of the topic. When the bible and science disagree,
we have to give major weighting to the findings of human sexuality researchers,
e.g. Kinsey. But when it comes to an issue as controversial as
homosexuality, everyone has their own view, with conservative and liberal
Christians, interpreting bible passages differently. In the Old Testament,
Genesis 19:1-11 is about the Story of Sodom. It is explained in the bible that
the men who lived in Sodom surrounded the house of Lot who gave hospitality to
two angels. The men called Lot and shouted and asked him to bring out the
angels so that they could “know them” a term meaning to have intercourse with.  Lot disagreed strongly and even offered his
two virgin daughters, but the men refused and broke down the door. The angels
however blinded the men and destroyed Sodom by “fire and brimstone”. Many conservatives would take this very seriously and say
that this story shows the immorality of homosexuality and the punishment this
kind of act deserves. Even in Genesis 18:20-21, it says “their sin is very
grave”, to which a conservative point out that this is talking about
“homosexuality” and because this is said in the bible, it is now still a sin
that should be punished. The sin of the men of Sodom was “so grievous”, God had
determined to investigate it himself, (18:20-21) and “overthrew those cities
and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities” (19:25). However,
Derrick Sherwin Bailey was the first theologian to re-evaluate the traditional
understanding of the Biblical prohibitions regarding homosexuality. The Hebrew word for “know” (yadha) is mentioned 943 times in
the Old Testament with only 10 mentions actually referring to sexual
intercourse, and mainly meaning heterosexual intercourse. Therefore Bailey
translated the phrase that could have meant that the men wanted to be “acquainted”
with the angels and their anger can be understood if they were not told about
the strangers that were invited into Lots’ house and could have been dangerous
for which the men broke down the door to enter. Therefore the sin committed
here is the invasion of Lots’ hospitality, but if we were to examine this
closely, it doesn’t explain why Lot offered his two virgin daughters, if the
men only wanted to be acquainted with the angels. Another issue that can be
brought up is that, homosexuality isn’t mentioned as the offence in the story.
But a conservative would disagree with both these suggestions and demonstrate
that the sin is for the attempted homosexual rape of the angels, even though a
liberal would disagree and argue that this accusation of rape is not mentioned
anywhere. The sin of homosexuality in this story is oversimplified and a
liberal may argue that the attempted rape may be the cause of Sodom being burnt
down and not just homosexuality. The attempted rape of two people, being
angels, increases the severity of the sin as it is against the divine God
himself, but the angels being men may not have anything to do with it. The passages in Leviticus, 18:22 and 20:13 are both in the
“Holiness Code” of Leviticus. However, these texts challenge believers to
follow the laws of God and not the practices of Egypt which include sexual
relations and a variety of sexual deviations. One of the main passages can
unarguably be, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is an
abomination” (18:22). This passage could be interpreted by a conservative
Christian to be the main law that proves that homosexuality is a sin. However,
many liberals would disagree, again with the meaning of certain words. A
conservative would translate the word “abomination” to be “detestable”, but a
more correct translation could be something that is against the bibles ritual
but not wrong. This also goes for the word “unnatural” which means something
that is not customary but it does not mean a same-sex loving relationship is
wrong. The belief that homosexuality is an “abomination” is due to the Hebrew
prescientific understanding that the male semen contained the whole of nascent
life. It was assumed that women were just the incubators in the process of
sexual reproduction as there was no knowledge of eggs. Hence, any sexual act
that involved the “spilling of semen”, whether it was homosexual acts or
masturbation, was heavily sinful if it did not create life. However, a liberal Christian
would argue that a conservative view based on this passage of Leviticus, is
based on unscientific assumptions that cannot be followed. The second passage
associated with homosexuality is Leviticus 20:13, “If a man lies with a male as
with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to
death, their blood is upon them.” Many Christians would agree that this is an
extreme punishment for any act of homosexuality for even one of the most
traditional of Christians. No conservative would go to the extremes of carrying
out a practice that puts homosexuals to death, even if it is considered a grave
sin. This would then start to cause doubts about the Holiness Code and whether
the sexual ethics in the passages should be followed. Examples of rules in
Leviticus that are not followed by many Christians in the 21st
Century, is not eating shellfish or not wearing clothes that are not of the
same cloth. These rules are not followed and have dire consequences as it says
in the Holiness Code, but why does that not apply to homosexuality as well. But one of the most outspoken conservative is Reverend
Nicholas Dikeriehi Orogodo Okoh of the Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria who is
very against homosexual behaviour referring to it as a “perversion of human
dignity” and advocates the expulsion of liberals of the Anglican Communion. The
former Archbishop of the Church of Nigeria, Peter Akinola believed that
homosexuality is not a relative matter and it is a behaviour that is forbidden
and condemned throughout the Bible such as in Leviticus 18:22 where it is
commanded that “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind, it is
abomination.” Both these archbishops support the legislation that states that
homosexuality is a capital offence. This is because they believe homosexuality
enables people to pervert the doing of God and his sexual expression with the
opposite sex. Therefore homosexuals have shown themselves to be trespassers of
the divine laws of God. David Kato is a key example of the serious issues to do with
homosexuality. Kato was a homosexual activist, fighting for homosexual rights
in Uganda. He sued a local newspaper company who published an article about him
being homosexual and even published his address. Due to this, he was beaten to
death because of the article that had outed several other homosexuals with the
headline “Hang them”. Homosexual acts are illegal in Uganda, with a punishment
of 14 years in prison. Kato had campaigned against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill
but this issue has quietly been dropped since his death. Many people would disagree with the Catholic and
conservative Christian views of homosexuality, but do not understand that they
do not condemn homosexuality, but homosexual “behaviour”. Conservative
Christians believe that, many who have a same sex relationship, choose to
pursue this lifestyle and they are not “born that way”.  Many conservatives would be very opposed to
anyone who engages in homosexual activity and would not be able to understand
how they could possibly enjoy it. Some would believe that they are born that
way and their preferences cannot be changed but others would disagree strongly
and say that homosexuality is a bad habit that people have fallen into because
they have been experimental and sexually permissive. Many would believe that
this type of behaviour is caused by a homosexual ignoring the rules of society
and their own self-indulgence and therefore engaging in homosexual behaviour.
However, many psychoanalysts such as Socarides, homosexuality is a mental
illness and they desire same sex relationships due to poor family relationships
in their childhood or some sort of trauma. The last view is that homosexuality is
“biological” and the desires of a homosexual are genetic or part of the
persons’ DNA, therefore they have the choice to be homosexual or heterosexual. But to many liberals, the above reasons for homosexuality
would be dismissed completely. The question, “What makes a person homosexual?”
is no different to “What makes a person heterosexual?” We didn’t just decide to
start liking men or women, but when we were younger we may have been more
comfortable towards one gender than the other. We didn’t choose our sexuality
but it just came to us. The same reason one person is heterosexual is the same
reason that another person is homosexual. If a man felt more towards a man than
a woman, he should not be forced to change his life to fit society. Also, like
it says in Genesis, “we were all made in the image of God”, even homosexuals
are part of this and should not be condemned. But a conservative would disagree
strongly and argue that we were all made in the image of God, but that image is
of a man and woman, and for them to be fruitful and multiply. Same-sex couples
cannot do this therefore what they are engaging in is wrong. But a liberal
state that we were ALL made in the image of God even homosexuals and it does
not matter whether they can multiply. There have been many studies into why some people are
homosexual, studies that have received mixed reviews. First of all no one has
found a single hereditary gene or any physical differences between homosexual
and heterosexual people and this suggests nothing has been found because no
genes exist. Therefore conservatives strongly believe that homosexuality is a
choice rather than “it” choosing the person. Also, another study investigated
homosexuals by asking them to explain the origin of their desires and the first
studies were conducted by Alfred Kinsey in the 1940s and another by other
scientists in the 1970s. Both studies reported the same findings, which was
that homosexual behaviour was the result of social influences. The most common
finding is that homosexual people had early experiences with same sex people
and another common one was a lack of relationship with their parents,
especially the father. Clearly the results showed that the majority were
influenced by their social surroundings rather than homosexuality being a
“hereditary” gene. Other findings include early on homosexual experience such
as with an adult or sexual abuse that could cause feelings later on in life.
But a liberal Christian may agree with this but then question why homosexuality
is condemned when it wasn’t their fault if they had experienced trauma when
they were younger. A conservative Christian would argue that it is a choice
whether a person is a homosexual as they can always get help and not be homosexual.
There is psychological help available that could change a person back. Also, a
rejecting mother or a distant father could also trigger homosexuality in
people, as they have not had a normal childhood which could change a person
mentally and therefore cause them to have a different lifestyle. The main
finding that many agree with is that many homosexuals are influenced by social
aspects of their life which could be a culture that could encourage exploration
of the same sex or openly gay authority figures e.g. teachers. Liberal Christians would argue that homosexuality isn’t
something that a person chooses but an unchosen orientation that they
discover.  It is genetically
predetermined maybe due to other factors in their childhood that could trigger
the genes. But a conservative would disagree and conclude that homosexuality is
a choice whether or not it was due to a poor childhood or sexual molestation.
But once a person starts to experiment with their new found feelings, they will
get trapped in the lifestyle because of their poor choices. The passage in 1 Corinthians 6:9 – 11,
ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not
deceived: neither fornicators…. nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves
with mankind…..shall inherit the kingdom of God.Many conservative Christians would interpret this passage as
stating that sexually active homosexuals will not go to heaven after death. But
if they accept Jesus as Lord during their life on earth, then God will change
their sexual orientation to become heterosexuals and admit them to heaven. David
Griffiths, writes: “…homosexuals can
be saved through faith in Christ and can know deliverance like other sinners…”
And because they believe that it is easy to change a person’s
sexual orientation, homosexuality is clearly not a genetic trait but one caused
by the environment. However, the liberal interpretation is different and there
is a compromise amongst human sexuality researchers and mental health
professionals that homosexuality is not a matter of choice, no one wakes up one
day and decides to be homosexual,  but a
very strong genetic cause.According to the Roman Catholic Church, every human is
called to receive a gift of divine sonship, to become a child of God by grace.
But this gift does not apply to those who commit sin, which includes homosexual
behaviour. The Roman Catholic Church believes that acts such as these, are
violations of the divine law. However, homosexual desires are not sinful but
acting on them or encouraging the desire by purposely engaging in fantasies IS
sinful. Pope Benedict XVI who was the Pope of the Catholic Church regularly speaks
about homosexual behaviour being sinful as it is the “destruction of the work
of God.” “The church speaks of human nature as ‘man’ and ‘woman’ and asks that
this order is respected. It comes from the faith in the creator and from
listening to the language of creation, despising which would mean self-
destruction for humans and a destruction of the work of God.” A key issue regarding homosexuality and the Catholic Church
is adoption by same-sex couples. Catholic adoption agencies, have in the past,
refused to allow homosexual couples to adopt children, but in 2007, the
government said there will be no-opt out for Catholic agencies when it comes to
anti-discrimination laws. Parliament have approved two-thirds of the Equality
Act which forbids schools, businesses and agencies refusing services to people
because of their age, gender, race or religion. However, now the final third
act has been approved that applies the same rules to protect lesbians, gays and
bisexual people. Many religious groups, particularly the Roman Catholic Church who
oppose this law, have said that they would refuse to consider applications for
adoption from homosexuals, because it goes against their Church. Now this law
has been passed, Catholic agencies are forbidden to discriminate against
homosexuals. Many Roman Catholic agencies have had to close down as the funding
from the government has been withdrawn. This shows there is no gap between
belief and practice. Unlike the Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church of USA and
the Church of England have a more different view of homosexual behaviour and
are more sympathetic with current issues such as same- sex marriage and
ordination. However, there have been many controversial issues regarding the
ordination of some homosexual bishops including Reverend Gene Robinson who has
recently retired from the Episcopal Church diocese of New Hampshire. This was a
very controversial issue around the time of his election since he was a practicing
homosexual and another example similar to this issue, is the controversy that
surrounded Dr Jeffrey John. He is a homosexual man who is in a civil
partnership but claims to be celibate. Even though he is the Dean of St Albans
now, he previously put himself up for the position of Bishop of Reading. But
due to high pressure from conservative Christians regarding this issue, a
friend of his, Dr Rowan Williams, advised him to step down. He has now
threatened to sue for discrimination as he did not get enough nominations in
2010 when he applied for Bishop of Southwark, but this raises a question about
whether or not a celibate man should be allowed to become a bishop. Even
further, there have been no homosexual bishops that have been ordained in the
United Kingdom, but many liberals question whether this is fair. This shows
that there is no gap between belief and practice as the traditional teachings
in the bible are still in place. Homosexuals should not be discriminated
against just because of their sexual orientation, such as Dr Jeffrey John. But
a lesbian who have been ordained as bishop in the Episcopal Church of USA is
Reverend Mary Douglas Glasspool of Southern California, who is openly lesbian
and supporters of gay rights and the liberal Anglican view, including Reverend
Katharine Jefferts Schori, who is also a supporter of homosexual rights and a
bishop. This shows that the gap between belief and practice is widening as more
people are electing homosexual people as bishops and those who support
homosexual rights, which shows that traditional beliefs are being followed
less. Dr Rowan Williams is the former Archbishop of Canterbury and
is the spiritual head of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.
Williams is known to hold very liberal views, but while he was in the post of
Archbishop, he acted in a more conservative manner in an attempt to hold the
Anglican Communion together. This clearly shows that homosexuality was a huge
issue even for liberals, meaning that they could not even hold their own view;
otherwise this would have had serious consequences. This shows that there is no
gap between belief and practice. Revered Justin Welby, is the newly appointed
Archbishop of Canterbury and comes from the conservative wing of the Church of
England, but is so far untested on the issue of homosexuality.  One other Church that does not condemn homosexuality is the
Metropolitan Community Church that sees its mission as being social as well as
spiritual by standing up for the rights of minorities, particularly those who
have a different sexual orientation. The “MCC” as it is called, has a strong
commitment to marriage equality for homosexual people as the founder of MCC,
Reverend Elder Troy Perry, performed the first public same-sex marriage.  Also, MCC in Toronto and Reverend Brent
Hawkes were key players in the legal action that ultimately brought same-sex
marriage to Canada.  This shows that even
many years ago, traditional teachings were not followed showing there is often
a gap between belief and practice. According to the different views of conservative and liberal
Christians, many would say that there is a gap between belief and practice. One
of the main teachings of the Bible is “agape” which has been forgotten
throughout this controversial issue. Many conservative Christians especially,
condemn homosexuality without thinking about Jesus’ teaching of love,
especially when they explain the causes of homosexuality and forget that we
were ALL made in the image of God.                                                                                                                           



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