Vail Daily column: Setting the record straight
August 5, 2015
Without any play on words with the title, this piece will attempt to approach the touchy subject (again, no pun intended) of the modern gay dilemma.
I belong to a men's Bible study group each Friday morning in Edwards, at which we study and discuss the Old and New Testaments with modern day perspectives. The group is comprised of an MD, a photographer, Realtor, hotel concierge manager, electrician, insurance broker, banker and lawyer.
Within that context, each of the nine of us is asked to speak each week to the group on a topic related to literature, media, academia and philosophy, none of which being as complicated as it may sound. Topics have included sin, Jesus' incarnation, eternity, heaven, hell and church disunity.
For years I have struggled to understand same sex marriage, gays in the military and all matters homosexual. As a Christian, I'm often confused with the disconnect between tolerance and discrimination by the Church, assuming as I did that the media's version of the church's stance on gays was harsh and non-inclusive. I couldn't have been more mistaken, as you will see below.
I was charged with the task of presenting to my peers recently an examination of the relationship, or lack thereof between gays and the church at large, a daunting task, but the challenge intrigued me. The results surprised and embarrassed me given my own homophobia quotient, and clarified the issue for me beyond dispute.
Fast forward for now to Indiana and Gov. Pence taking severe heat for the public rebuke of recent legislation pointing to discrimination against gays and others based on religious convictions. Existing 22-year-old federal laws protected gays civilly as it turns out but the fracas was grist for the mill for leftist activists determined to create division, spawned by Al Sharpton, et al. There are thousands of florists and photographers that will service weddings in question — I'm sure of that.
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The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians (6:9-11): "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters nor adulterers, nor make prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."
In Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, one may read a more concise statement of traditional views and points to the core of my motivation to write this article; that the view of the church, most Americans, soldiers, priests, politicians and I feel no hate toward gays whatsoever. How could we, anyway, without meeting any of them? The prior list of folk, including the church, only have issues with gay sex, not gay people. There, I said it. Homosexual behavior (not people) is prohibited in Scripture (Leviticus 20:13) and led to divine judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:4-5, 12-13). Paul declared that God's wrath stands against such behavior whether practiced by men or women."
2. Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, but in the New Testament did condemn all forms of sexual immorality. However, regardless of how we interpret the Bible's teaching about homosexual acts, it is important to note that the Bible does not condemn people for being sexually attracted to persons of the same sex. It is sexual intercourse between persons of the same sex that is prohibited by Bible teachings. Celibacy is therefore assumed to be proper within same sex relationships, should the couple wish to consider themselves Christian, behaviorally speaking.
The doctrinal position taken by each of the churches below regarding homosexual behavior is as follows:
Catholics: "Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to natural law. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity, and cannot be approved. All are called to chastity by virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom. They must be accepted however, with respect, compassion.
Southern Baptist: "We affirm God's plan for marriage and sexual intimacy … one man and one woman for life. Homosexuality is not a valid alternative lifestyle. The same redemption is available to all sinners is available to homosexuals. They, too, may become new creations in Christ."
Methodist: "Homosexual persons no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth. Although we do not condone the practice of homosexuality, incompatible as it is with Christian teaching, we affirm that God's grace is available to all."
Episcopal: "Homosexuals are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance and pastoral concern and care of the church."
In summary: The Bible accepts homosexuals, both men and women to the faith. They don't, however, condone their sexual behavior. Churches welcome them willingly as they would adulterers, thieves and others seeking forgiveness. Outrage by those seeking tolerance on this issue should examine, it seems, their faith commitments, as the calling to Christianity is a choice, not a mandate, like Islam.
Note: Please don't shoot the messenger.
Pat Mitchell lives in Edwards.
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