"Let whoever is without sin cast the first stone..." John 8.7
The sexuality debate rages on, with legislation going through Parliament that would ban conversion therapy (treatment to change a person's sexual orientation). Some advocates of the ban would go much further, making it a crime to preach against same sex marriage or to pray for somebody to be released from homosexual desires. Even using the word "released" would probably get me into trouble. So where should the church stand on this most contentious of issues?
Where the Bible stands, would be the obvious answer. But where does the Bible stand on an issue that doesn't seem to have been an issue back in the day? The arguments are well rehearsed. In a nutshell, the Bible exalts heterosexual marriage as the exclusive context in which sexual relations are to be enjoyed and all other forms of sexual activity are condemned, including and especially homosexual promiscuity. But what about where two people of the same sex wish to live privately within a monogamous sexual relationship? That question is never directly addressed in Scripture.
St Paul believed the end of the world was near and he advised people not to waste time getting married but to concentrate on preparing themselves and society for the Lord's imminent return. But he conceded that those who could not contain themselves should go ahead and marry rather than go mad with frustration. Now that we know that some people are born gay, could that apply in such cases? And if the church were to decide, in light of genetic knowledge that was not available when the Scriptures were being received, that monogamous homosexual relationships should be allowed, would that qualify those in such arrangements to hold positions of responsibility?
These are explosive questions, which have already blown congregations apart. But let's remember, in our desire to be faithful to God and compassionate to our friends and neighbours in the gay community, that we are dealing with real people. Life is precious and we need to provide teaching, support and advice that affirms life in accordance with the Maker's instructions. That is straightforward enough in ordinary circumstances. But on such a controversial topic as sexuality it requires supernatural wisdom. Let us pray then...