Two important things to mention before we look
at the reasons ‘Why we got it SO wrong’.
Firstly it is inevitable that the church will
accept the fact that homosexuality is an orientation and not an abomination.
Same sex orientation is not a perversion, illness or the result of a
dysfunctional upbringing but an expression of sexuality that appears in every
culture as well as nature. God's creation is extremely diverse in every area.
It took long time, but eventually Christians realised that black people are
equal human beings and interracial marriages acceptable. Some denominations
still treat women as second class citizens but equality for women preachers and
priests, even bishops, is already a reality in many places. Through long and hard
struggles by the oppressed and those discriminated against sanity has
prevailed. The same WILL happen for LGBT people. Till then the struggle
continues. There is no more controversial or highly charged issue that the
Christian church is facing these days than the issue of LGBT equality. History
tells us clearly that the church is slow to face some realities and change.
Especially when 'biblical' precedents have been established.
Secondly the church fundamentally consists of
good people. The large majority of people in churches are not evil or
hateful. There are of course examples where this is not the case. Right wing
conservative preachers are numerous and condemn homosexuality and the LGBT
community in the media and from their
pulpits. Westboro Baptist Church and their God Hates Fags
campaign is the most extreme example but most Christians would reject
their message and methods as anything but Christian. Thankfully, as we become more enlightened, these
groups are being shunned by mainstream Christendom. The less we mention them or
give them any recognition, the sooner they will diminish. Most Christians
however, genuinely believe they are doing what is right for them, others and
society. So WHY have they and continue to be wrong about LGBT people?
8 Reasons Why the church got it SO Wrong
- The average
Christian is uneducated about sexual orientation.
average Christian is uninformed about the mounting research that demonstrates
sexual orientation is pre-wired and complex, involving a combination of
pre-natal hormonal and genetic factors. Once pre-wired in the womb, same-sex
orientation begins to play out in people’s physical appearance, natural
abilities, brain functioning, socialisation and emotional attachment. Gay and
lesbian people know they didn't choose to be gay, it is innate and as natural to
them as a person’s heterosexual orientation
to a straight person. If they have read anything about research it is
most likely they read it in an anti-gay Christian book where the author has
cherry picked research to back up their position.
- The church has seen
science as a threat to faith.
centuries science and religion have been enemies. The Catholic Church declared
that Galileo was a heretic in 1616. For centuries it refused to acknowledge
that Galileo was not a heretic and that the world did in fact revolve around
the sun. It wasn’t till 1989, that Pope John Paul II apologized for the
Church's handling of the case. The debate over evolution vs creationism
continues to rage in some Christian circles. To the creationist, accepting
evolution means rejection of their God who created the world and universe
according to the Genesis record.
- Christians who are
anti-gay are locked in a time warp of 50’s, 60’s understanding.
was a time when the majority of western culture viewed homosexuality as an
illness and perversion. For decades (40's, 50's 60's) gay men particularly but
also lesbians were subjected to cruel treatments such electric shocks, aversion
therapy and lobotomies in efforts to 'cure' them. None of these worked of
course. Mental health professionals understanding changed in the early 70’s and
homosexuality was declassified as a mental illness. After that, the legislation
in most countries progressively caught up with the new understanding but not
the Christian church. Christians are the ones who have always opposed changes
in the law to end discrimination and grant equality. Their most recent
opposition being marriage equality.
- The church is
always behind the times and slow to change.
has, and in most cases will continue to be the way it is as the Christian
church, by nature, is conservative.
- The Christian
sub-culture is relatively closed and not exposed to outside influences/information.
again the church, by nature, has been a closed institution which breeds a
particular culture. Like all cultures it maintains certain beliefs, attitudes
and behaviours. To maintain identity, those beliefs, attitudes and behaviours
must not be threatened or challenged. This has often created a siege mentality
and separation from the very people they are called to reach. Push a culture
too far and it becomes cultish. Hence the development of Christian cults.
- The average
Christian is uneducated about the historical and cultural contexts as well
as the original languages of the verses often quoted.
too often we hear the phrase "the Bible clearly condemns
homosexuality". The Bible is clear on many things, like loving your
neighbour, but homosexuality is not one of them. Looking deeper at the six
passages used to promote the belief that homosexuality is a sin, reveals a new
understanding. The Sodom and Gomorrah story was never about homosexuality, it
is about the rape of angels. Leviticus was not written about loving same-sex
relationships but as a warning to the Israelites not to adopt the pagan
practices of Canaan such as male temple prostitution. Romans 1 is referring to pagan idolatrous rituals; something Paul would
have been familiar with and witnesses himself. And finally because of the
obscure use of a Greek phrase in I Corinthians 6:9 (which seems to have been
coined by St Paul), the phrase has gone through many translations including
'abusers of themselves' . It wasn't till 1946 that the word homosexual actually
appeared in an English translation of I Cor. 6:9. Read in English translation,
without a deeper understanding, it’s easy to see how these verses could be
misinterpreted. I did it for years.
- Christians have
often judged the entire LGBT community by the actions of a few.
only encounter many churches have with the LGBT community is through activists
seeking equality at all levels of society. Rightly or wrongly, this has created
the impression that we are all angry, militant and aggressive and have an
is also a strong sexual ethos that exists in some subcultures of the LGBT
community. Not knowing any gay or lesbian people personally, many in the church
have assumed that all gay and lesbian people have no sense of morality. This
simply is not true. Amongst heterosexuals there is also a broad range of moral
expressions.. No matter what our view of others morality, we should always
remind ourselves that Jesus told us not to judge or condemn others. This has
been one of the greatest failings of the churches response to the LGBT
community. Quick to judge and quick to condemn....and slow if ever to love.
- Church leaders experience
gives them a warped view gay or lesbian people.
only same-sex- oriented people most pastors/leaders actually had any contact
with are those who are tormented about their homosexuality, have a sexual
addiction or been sexually abused. This gives them a very warped impression of what
a same sex orientation actually is. This is the same situation that occurred
with psychiatrists and psychologists up until the work of Evelyn Hooker in
1957. Before Dr Hooker's work, no one had ever conducted a study on a homosexual population that wasn't either in therapy, prison, a mental hospital, or the disciplinary barracks of the armed services If pastors or church leaders meet someone such as myself who has resolved the issues of faith
and sexual orientation then they often immediately judge us as deceived or that
we have justified our 'sin'. For many
decades, being Christian and gay was believed impossible. Despite this, the Gay
Christian movement has grown exponentially. Often existing outside mainline
Christianity it is often rejected and therefore Christians and church leaders have
no contact with those who have successfully resolved their faith/sexuality
conflict and live devoted Christian lives based on a deep love of God and the
© Anthony Venn-Brown is the co-founder and former leader of Freedom 2 b[e], Australia’s largest
network of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people from Christian
backgrounds. He is also an educator
and consultant on LGBT/faith issues and leader in deconstructing
the ‘ex-gay’ myth. His autobiography 'A
Life of Unlearning', details his journey from married, high profile
preacher in Australia’s growing mega-churches, such as Hillsong, to living as
an openly gay man.
Anthony is the founder and CEO of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders
International whose mission is to end the unnecessary suffering
caused by ignorance and misinformation about sexual orientation by empowering
LGBT community members, building bridges with the Church, providing resources
and media/social networking activities.
Anthony has been twice voted ‘One of the 25 Most Influential
Gay and Lesbian Australians’ (2007 & 2009) and was a finalist for the 2011
ACON Community Hero Award.
Labels: bible and homosexuality, gay christian