Homosexuality: Legally Permissible Or Spiritually Misguided? -- By: Anna-Marie Lockard

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 05:1 (Mar 2008)
Article: Homosexuality: Legally Permissible Or Spiritually Misguided?
Author: Anna-Marie Lockard

Homosexuality: Legally Permissible Or Spiritually Misguided?1

Anna-Marie Lockard2


One of the most divisive issues facing the Christian church today is the ubiquitous issue of the acceptance of homosexual behaviour within the parameters of church leadership. Revisionist theologians contend that the church must redress her stance on this issue to keep in step with the prevailing culture of the day, which favours the acceptance of homosexual behaviour due to its proposed biological determinism.

This article analyses this divisive issue from four perspectives: (a) historical attitudes towards homosexuality in a variety of cultures across time, (b) empirical studies regarding the causation of homosexual orientation, (c) the witness of scripture and (d) the implications for pastoral ministry.

1. Introduction

For more than two decades few topics have become as divisive in the 21st century church as the issue of homosexuality. The heated debate touches on a variety of issues that are contested throughout the culture: sexual ethics, the meaning of marriage and family and, most significantly, the genetic basis for same sex relationships. Within the church, debated issues on homosexuality have involved revisionist theology regarding scriptural interpretation, ecclesial authority and theological understandings of creation and sexuality.

One popular argument often posited by revisionists is that the church’s stance should be re-evaluated in the light of new scientific evidence which suggests that homosexuality is a genetically inherited condition and thus a permanent state. Their consensus, therefore, is that homosexuality should be accepted by the church as a natural variant of sexual orientations, a manifestation of the richness of God’s creation (Austriaco 2003).

As a result of theological revisionism, the schism within several mainline denominations in the USA (e.g., Presbyterian, Episcopal, United Methodist, Lutheran, United Church of Christ and Anglican) has proved painful. The Protestant church, particularly the Episcopal Church, has been on the verge of rupture since the 2003 election of an openly homosexual bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire (Rossi 2006).

This issue was an impetus which caused the battle over gay marriage which shook the political and religious foundations of South African society when archbishop Njononkulu Ndungane supported V. Gene Robinson’s election in 2003. South Africa became the fifth country in the world to allow gay marriages. Retired Anglican Bishop David Russell of Cape To...

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