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Although they may not agree in many other areas, the Roman Catholic Church and many Evangelical

Protestant groups find themselves agreeing about Homosexuality. They both believe that the teaching of the Bible is very clear on the subject:
The Old Testament The Old Testament condemns homosexual acts in two places: You will not have intercourse with a man as you would with a woman. This is a hateful thing (to God). (Leviticus 18:22) The man who has intercourse with a man in the same way as with a woman: they have done a hateful thing together; they will be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.(Leviticus 20:13) As you can see, the penalty for homosexual activity was death.

The New Testament Jesus made no comment directly about homosexuality, simply saying that the coming together of a man and a woman until they are one flesh is Gods ideal for everyone. St Paul, however, roundly condemned sexual relationships between men. He also condemned homosexuality strongly in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 at the same time as attacking adulterers, thieves, drunkards, slanderers and swindlers.
That is why God abandoned them to degrading passions: why their women have exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural practices; and the men, in similar fashion, too, giving up normal relations with women, are consumed with passion for each other, men doing shameful things with men (1 Romans 1:26-27) Tradition has always declared the homosexual acts are intrinsically disorderedThey close the sexual act to the gift of lifeUnder no circumstances can they be approved. (CCC 2357)

These condemnations from the Bible have influenced peoples opinion and behaviour throughout the centuries. They have also affected the laws passed relating to homosexual activity in many Western countries, including the UK.

The extract makes very clear, the Catholic Church is totally opposed to homosexual sex between men or women. This does not mean, however, that it is opposed to homosexuals or that it expects them to change the way that they behave. It accepts that the tendency of a person towards homosexual rather than heterosexual affection is not a sin and so the Church does not condemn it. Homosexuals are expected to live a life of chastity. This means they abstain from all homosexual activity. To do this they must control their sexual feelings by using the spiritual activities that the Church offers to give them inner strength: By disinterested friendship: friendships that have no sexual overtones; By the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist; By Prayer Through using these spiritual gifts, every believer, including homosexuals, can approach the desired state of perfection. There is also, both within the Catholic Church and outside agencies, counselling help for those people who wish to keep their homosexual feelings under control. The Catholic Church tries to treat individual homosexuals non-judgementally and with great sensitivity.

Some Protestant groups agree with the Roman Catholic Churchs position that homosexual relationships are sinful because they are condemned in the Bible. People who believe this will be found in all Christian denominations. There are, however, many Protestants who believe that this is a too simplistic view of the Bible and of human sexual behaviour. The Church of England
The question of homosexuality is one that threatens to split the Anglican Church wide open. On one side are African Christians who regard homosexuality as one of the most serious moral sins that a believer in God can commit. On the other side are Christians from Western churches who are much more tolerant of homosexuality, yet accept that it falls below Gods ideal that of a committed relationship between a man and a woman. At the moment this issue is unresolved and it is difficult to see what the way forward can be. In the Western Anglican Churches there is a compromise in place. At the end of a debate in the General Synod of the Church of England in 1987, the conclusion was that a Christian who was homosexual can accept their sexual orientation if they do not take part in any homosexual activity. This ruling was applied to homosexual priests but not to ordinary members of the congregation. Surveys suggest that as many as one in four priests in the Church of England are gay: We do not reject those who believe that they have more hope of growing in love for God and neighbour with the help of a loving and faithful homophile relationship (Church of England Report on Homosexuality)

The Methodist Church


The Methodist Church is more positive in its acceptance of homosexual relationships. As you can see from the statement below, it describes loving and permanent relationships between homosexual men and women as appropriate. It goes on to say that these relationships are the Christian way of expressing their sexuality for homosexuals. There is no suggestion here that a line can be drawn between sexual orientation of a person and the expression of that preference through sexual behaviour. In other words, if someone is a homosexual they are going to want to have a homosexual sex and that is natural.

For homosexual men and women permanent relationships characterised by love can be appropriate and the Christian way of expressing their sexuality (Methodist Church report 1979)

Reasons for a liberal approach


The views of the Catholic Church and some Protestant groups against homosexuality can be described as conservative. The views of those who find homosexual behaviour acceptable could be described as liberal. The liberal approach is based on the following arguments:

The teaching of the Bible was written for a very different time. Paul, for example, assumed that homosexuals were really heterosexuals who were looking for variety in their sex lives. We now know very differently. In any case, a handful of obscure references in the Bible hardly make a convincing case. There are many other practices condemned in the Old Testament, such as having sex with a menstruating woman, but no one follows that guidance today. Strong same-sex friendships are referred to in the Bible, such as that between David and Jonathan in the Old Testament, and this is not questioned. Christians believe that the Church should be a community in which people are loved and accepted for what they are. This all-inclusive body, called the Church, must include homosexuals. Too often the Christian Church has been accused, with justification, of being homophobic. Some of its statements and documents over the centuries would support this accusation. This is an attitude that should not be allowed to go unchallenged. Changing attitudes to homosexuality in the U.K.